March 31, 2012

A Proper Brunch in Vienna

Haas & Haas: a cozy breakfast eatery that transforms into a refined tea house after 3:00pm. 
Our last day in Vienna and it was a Sunday so naturally that meant brunch for lunch...until we discovered Europeans don't really do brunch. Our concierge suggested Dox & Co which apparently served some form of an American brunch on Sundays. However, this attempt  failed once we discovered that the entire restaurant was booked for the morning. We then went into the tourist information center across the street for recommendations and were given two potentialities. I was ready to give up and eat at the Cafe across from Dox and Co but V insisted we hunt down these options. Good thing he won the argument.  One of these options, Haas & Haas turned out to be exactly what we were looking for. 

Elements of the French (or Italian? breaksfast):
+Pickles & tomatoes
+ Prosciutto
The menu featured various "set" breakfasts including Viennese, French, American, and English. Each was accompanied by some form of bread or pastry, vegetabless, eggs, meat, tea or coffee, and juice. We were in heaven. I always have the hardest time ordering brunch because I always want a little bit of everything. This pretty much solved the problem. Not to mention the fact that the food was spectacular and we sampled the best scrambled eggs we have ever had.

+ Scrambled eggs with truffles and parmesan
+ Toast & butter
+ Croissant 

Noodles in Paris

Why would I get noodles in Paris of all places you ask? I am in one of the best culinary destinations in the entire world and I opt for the type of no-frills ramen shop that I could easily find in New York.  Well there's sort of a reason to my madness. Sort of.  I was craving noodles.

Many famous diners have come to Higuma including "The Last Samurai"!
Nestled in between a handful of other Japanese and Korean shops, Higuma, is a local and tourist favorite. You can easily tell that it stands out among its competitors from the line of American, French, and Asian patrons spilling out the front door. Can you say Ippudo? It is also one of the cheapest places on the block with a bowl of ramen starting from just 6.5 Euros. I'm pretty sure our cup of hot chocolate cost more than that...

After 6 weeks in Europe without seeing anything that even remotely resembled a noodle shop or dim sum stand, I needed an Asian fix. Finding Higuma on googlemaps was a godsend. The open faced kitchen greets you as soon as you walk in and right away, you see the most efficient gyoza cooker you will ever see in your life: churning out something like 200 gyozas in one go. 

+ Kimchi Ramen with Pork
+ Butter Corn Ramen
Ask V and I and we will pick the cheap bowl of ramen over the plate of foie gras any day. No offense to French cuisine of course. We still love the croissants and eclairs :) 

March 29, 2012

Dinner Cruise on the Seine

A dinner cruise: ranked one of the top 10 touristy things to do in Paris so naturally, we had to do it. For a tourist trap, the dinner was surprisingly tasty and came with unlimited supply of champagne and wine (both a good and bad thing). The bubblys coupled with a three-course meal meant it was more than enough to satisfy our bellies.

+ Program of attractions for the night
+ Bread
+ Mini olive muffins
Of course the best part about dinner was the spectacular view of all of the sites of Paris lit up at night. The dinner cruise timed it so that when we got on and off the boat, the Eiffel tower was glistening with its sparkly lights - which only happens for the first 5 minutes of every hour. Fun fact: the light bulbs are replaced by an experience crew of rock climbers every few years (learned that on our bike tour earlier that day...hehe).

+ Bisque soup with lobster
+ Scallops with truffle and leek
I think the appetizers was actually my favorite part of the meal. The mushroom bisque soup had massive chunks of lobster floating atop. I couldn't quite place the taste of the bisque because it was incredibly earthly but the cream thinned it out a bit and everything came together quite nicely. The scallops were also cooked to the perfect tenderness level and even better that it came with a brothy sauce. yums.

March 27, 2012

Le Grand Vefour

Well here it is. The frenchiest of the french. The most french meal I have ever had in my life. Final verdict? Still somewhat ambivalent. I can never say no or not experience fine dining but I might opt for something other than foie gras the next time around...

Le Grand Vefour is one of the oldest dining institutions in France frequented back in the day by Louis VIX, Napoleon, Victor Hugo, Jean Paul Sartre, Julia Child and more. V. cleverly reserved us the table of Napoleon which was quite a treat :) 

Everything in the dining room was impeccable down to the tiny silver trays the butter was served in (see below): in both salted and unsalted version! Our waiters, dressed in black suits with bow ties reminded me penguins (yup, I'm so mature). 

+ A very frenchie menu (no there was no English version....shouldn't have asked haha)
+ Amuse Bouche of Oyster
+ French Baguette
+ Yummy yummy butter
After traversing the crowds of the Lourve for an entire morning, we were STARVING and quickly devoured all of the crusty bread (with lots of butter) before the arrival of first course. Terrible mistake. Who knew that 3 courses also meant an additional cheese tasting, various petit fours (not including dessert) and a wide array gastronomical candies? 

And then there was the foie gras. 

+ Fish tar tar with salad
+ Foie Gras with citrus fruits and jelly

March 26, 2012

Parisian Time

Back after a longer than anticipated break! V's trip lasted for longer than originally planned and various other side tracks kept me away just a bit too long to have a decent blogging session.  

Its midterm week for me and presently reading a very dense article on the history of the Bohemian people. Ironic that the week of midterms and finals always turns into my most prolific blogging week...probably due to the frequency of study breaks. Anyways, 5 new countries from the past 4 weekends of traveling so LOTS to blog about. 

Although Vienna was the first city I visited with V., Paris was my favorite so that's what I'm going to blog about first. Tehe. I've never been a fan of French food, not since a horrifying Foie Gras experience at the age of 10. So one of my  missions in Paris was to try authentic French food (more on that later). However, the first and foremost important thing to try was something that I actually did enjoy: Parisian baked goods.  

First stop: Laduree. Although Lauduree has other locations i n Europe (such as Zurich as I found out this past weekend), I had to visit the original location! Or at least one found in Paris. We bought a box of mini macarons packaged in a gorgeous purple box. While they were delicious, I've come to the conclusion that I like big macarons better :) 

No photos allowed in the actual Laduree store but it was pretty much what you would expect: perfect little rows of macarons upon macarons.
From left to right: pistachio (yup I officially don't like this flavor), rose, lemon, vanilla, caramel (BEST FLAVOR), and coffee.