Monday, July 18, 2011

Mr. Arepas Packs a Real Punch

We discovered Mr. Arepas in Dublin's Temple Bar recently and I have to give it a shout-out.  Their corn cakes filled with goodness like shredded beef, cheese, plantains, and black beans simply burst with flavor.  Their spicy sauce which you can add liberally yourself actually packed a real punch bringing tears to my eyes (in a good way since I love spicy food!).  The place is run by someone from Venezuela and is definitely authentic.  The only downside is it takes 10-15 minutes to complete an order since the arepas are made fresh on the spot.  We'll definitely be back.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Dublin Ireland - 1 Day, 2 Perfect Cups

We went for a coffee double-header last weekend.  First stop? - table service at Voila with a scone served on its own platter.
Next up? - The Bald Barista.  The sentiment written in chocolate says it all: Enjoy.  I definitely did...

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Commute Chronicles - Stating the Obvious

I like when street names state the obvious:  "Dodder View Cottages".
Here are the cottages...
..and here is their gorgeous view of the Dodder River.  Very Idyllic.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Paris in the Spring - Part 3 - Luxembourg Gardens and Montparnasse

It was a gorgeous spring afternoon so we walked from our hotel in Bastille to Les Jardins du Luxembourg.  
I liked this lovelorn statue near the entrance.
We stopped to have a bite of meringue and listen to jazz musicians playing nearby.  This pigeon started to stalk our crumbs and chased away all the other birds that came too close.  He was a bit of a bully!
The park was simply teeming with people.
We admired various sculptures ranging from Stalin-esque...
...to neoclassical.
The flowers in front of the palace were gorgeous.
Vendors rented mini-sail boats for children to play with on the pond.
After relaxing for a while in the park, we walked onward into Montparnasse.
We enjoyed a glass of wine outside at a corner cafe called Charivari and finished just in time before it began to sprinkle.
We went to La Creperie Bretonne for an early dinner before trekking back to the bus station for the ride to Paris Beauvais airport.  It was another brilliant weekend -- exemplifying all the reasons we love living in Europe!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Paris in the Spring - Part 2 - Puces Flea Market

On Sunday morning, we stopped for some macarons at Dalloyau and then made the journey by Metro to Puces Flea Market.
We were amazed by the number of people greeting us at the entrance to the station with fake Gucci sunglasses, handbags, and belt buckles.  We cleared that gauntlet and found ourselves in the flea market proper.
There were lots of fun items on display including this wall of keys...
...a discarded doll...
...and lots of antique furniture.
We stopped to have a look at some inexpensive stamps.
There were plenty of knick knacks to suit every taste.
Puces is actually a series of markets.  We started in Vernaison.
We continued across the street into Marché Dauphine.
We crossed back into Le Marche Biron which is known for french antiques and antiquities.
We enjoyed lunch outside with the obligatory glass of wine at Le Petit Navire before heading back toward the city center.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Paris in the Spring

Our last trip to Paris was in the dead of winter, so we were excited to take a weekend away and see Paris transformed by Spring.  The sun was shining when we emerged from the bus terminal.  We liked this life-sized wrapped candy outside an ornate building along the Champs-Élysées
Sidewalk cafes were just opening up for business.
We walked further to the Place de la Concorde and admired the obelisk in the center of the square.
I particularly liked this angry mer-man statue on the Place de la Concorde.
We stopped to pick up some fresh sandwiches at a local bakery and took them to the Jardin des Tuileries.
The atmosphere in the park was super relaxing and we sat back to enjoy our meal with the Eiffel Tower visible in the distance.  There were lawn chairs strewn all around and you could move them to a location that suited your mood.
After lunch, we walked to another spot and stopped to sit for a spell among the sculptures and wildflowers.
We chanced upon a local farmers market near Place du Marché Saint-Honoré.
The texture of the tomatoes was simply gorgeous.
We popped into L'Ecluse Saint-Honoré for a glass of wine and some nibbles.
The waiter brought us some radishes and sausage slices to go with our wine.  I never realized how spicy radishes were before!
Suitably refreshed, we wandered down a nearby alley specializing in furniture and upholstery.
We saw more of Paris' signature Space Invaders on a nearby street sign.
I liked this happy construction shed outside a lovely Parisian apartment building.
Spring in Paris means tons of colorful flowers.
We chanced upon a local park with a giant bird feeder near the front entrance.
Inside, there was plenty of space to sit and relax among the greenery and flowers.
We soon arrived at Père Lachaise Cemetery where many famous Parisians and foreigners are buried.
We stopped to admire Chopin's final resting place.
We didn't do a great job timing our visit.  We were on our way to see Jim Morrison's grave when we heard the roar of a small moped.  We tried to go around but then the guard started barking at us in French.  Even though we understand very little French, we got the message:  The cemetery was closing!
We did take the opportunity to explore the park outside the cemetery walls.
We walked back to our hotel in the Bastille neighborhood.  Along the way, we saw colorful flowers on display at a local florist...
... a grand circus tent...
...and some creative graffiti.
We'd worked up quite an appetite with all the walking and stopped for dinner at Bistrot des Vosges.  We enjoyed some red wine (of course!)...
...French onion soup...
...and beef and chicken main courses.  The most unique part was the l'Aligot, a potato and cheese puree.  The waiter advised us to swirl the concoction only in a clockwise direction before eating.  It was complicated, but creamy and delicious.
We capped the evening with some French chansons at Au Limonaire.  The music was good fun.