Tag Archives: France

French New Year holiday 2017-2018

In between our stay at my husband’s mother’s place in the south of the Netherlands, the three of us took a short trip to Paris for our New Year’s holiday to visit our friends & relatives. We took Thalys, the express train service that runs through Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Two and a half hours after we left Aachen, a small German city bordering the Dutch city where my mother-in-law lives, we safely arrived at busy Gare de Nord.

This time we took a nice Airbnb in an area called Wagram, not too far from Champs-Élysées. It was our first time staying at an Airbnb, and in spite of some reservations we had about the apartment, it was a good choice with great location and ample space for the three of us.

On the New Year’s eve, my best friend and her partner invited us to their lovely home for a special dinner. As is always the case in Paris, we started a pre-celebration at 7:00PM and opened a champagne, munching on foie gras and smoked salmon, which seems to be THE things to eat on the New Year’s eve in France.


Foie gras and smoked salmon, the must haves on the New Year’s eve

For dinner, Chef F made this delicious chicken filet with foie gras sauce. And the mashed potato… mmm I can still taste this creamy, sweet mash only a French person can make…  I’m pretty sure he used generous amount of butter, but maybe it’s better not to find out exactly how much… The sautéed mushroom was nutty and hearty, which was a perfect combination with the chicken and mash. Chef F served the same dish sans the foie gras sauce for their son and our daughter, on a small red kids table. Our daughter absolutely loved it, especially the mash. At the age of five she already knows the divinity of the French cooking.


Chicken filet with foie gras sauce, with amazingly creamy tasty mashed potato & fried (morel?) mushrooms

By the time we finished the dinner, the four of us finished two bottles of champagne and a magnum red bottle. Embarrassingly enough, I fell asleep before the countdown began. I managed to wake up when they started counting 10, but could hardly open my eyes and collapsed on their cozy sofa hugging their cute little doggy (she was so soft and warm). At 1:00AM we decided to call the night, and we took an Uber home.

On the New Year’s Day, without fail, our daughter jumped on to our bed at 8 o’clock. Dragging ourselves out of bed, we took a hot shower, got dressed and went out. We found out that Centre Pompidou would be open so headed that way. As soon as we got out of the nearest Metro station to the museum, it started pouring, and of course our daughter jumped in to a large puddle. Lucky us… As such we went to a crêperie close by, most likely one of the worst tourist traps you could find in the centre of Paris… We had the crêpe as our early lunch, as we were still quite full from the evening before. Later that evening, Chef F cleverly cooked us some simple pasta to give our stomach some rest.


Crêpe avec Nutella

On our last evening in Paris, to return the favour to our host, I cooked some Japanese meal with local ingredients. I loved shopping in a local supermarket and get inspired by all the unfamiliar ingredients. I could easily live in Paris and create locally adopted Japanese dishes… well, in my dreams. For the meal this time though, I stuck with the basics and made ginger pork and hamburg steak with Tokyo rice (that’s how my daughter calls the Japanese sticky rice). I realised, if I have soy sauce at hand, I can improvise many Japanese dishes even without (the very important) dashi broth. Of course it wouldn’t be perfect, but close enough. I used white wine where I needed to use Japanese sake, and honey and/or sugar for mirin. The result? Empty plates at the end of the meal.


Grocery shopping at a local supermarket. Nice trolly for little kids.

Ginger pork, Hamburg steak with my mum's special sauce, Boiled green Moroccan beans, Fried Aubergine, Iceberg Salad, Tokyo Rice

Ginger pork, Hamburg steak with my mum’s special sauce, Boiled green Moroccan beans, Fried Aubergine, Iceberg Salad, Tokyo Rice

Cooking at their kitchen made me feel at ease. All of a sudden Paris became less overpowering, as if something has planted a seed somewhere deep in my mind that one day we could possibly start our life here.

Well, that would certainly be added to my bucket list.

Kindergarten bento – Sandwich a la Maman (15/Nov/17)

When I lived in the Italian city of Milan 13 years ago, I shared an apartment with two amazing, beautiful ladies, one from France, and the other one from Sweden. We all attended the same master’s course in a graduate school in Milan, studying fashion & design management. Despite our shortcomings and different backgrounds, we got along very well, and after a while we became almost inseparable.

One day, the three of us took a short trip to Paris to visit the French flatmate V’s family. Three young & crazy women traveling together with a limited budget… Any of you who’s taken a European low cost carrier would understand that their airport terminals are always located in a secluded area outside the city, which requires a long bus ride and a lot of walking/running before/after catching your flight. It was no exception for our Paris trip, and it felt as if we were always on the move in some type of transportation whether it’s a bus or airport shuttle or tram or whatever, but after what felt like a 10 hour journey, we finally managed to arrive V’s home-sweet-home in the Left Bank of beautiful Paris.

The trip was a blast, and we got to spend some quality, heartwarming time with V’s parents. Her mum, Maman, was a great cook, although she never admitted she was, and always told us she was cooking nothing special. Maman always gave us a shy, humble smile at our compliments and excused herself back to her small kitchen.

After spending a few wonderful days in Paris, it was time for us to go back to Milan. Of course, we had to take the same route back, involving a metro ride to the bus stop and a long bus ride to the distant airport. As is always the case when traveling with V, we were running late to catch our bus and hence our airplane, too.

Knowing her daughter very well, V’s sweet Maman prepared sandwiches for the three of us to eat in the bus, because she knew we wouldn’t have time to stop for a proper meal. She made one sandwich with freshly baked baguette from a bakery near by with the leftover pot-au-feu meat from the evening before. The other one was this simple sandwich made with a Pan Viennoise (long soft milk bread) with butter and boiled pink ham. Both of them were so simple but exceptionally tasty. It was the first time for me to eat Pan Viennoise as sandwich, and I can still remember the perfect combination of the milky butter and the salty tasty ham… Mmm, it was absolutely divine.

Now fast-forward to the present time in Tokyo in 2017, I randomly spotted Pan Viennoise sold on the shelf at a nice French bakery in our neighborhood. The next morning I made a sandwich using the Pan Viennoise I bought, of course with boiled ham & butter, just like what Maman made for us 13 years ago, for my little girl’s kindergarten bento. I prepared the sandwich, thinking of V’s dear Maman with a sweet smile as well as my precious memories of my time in Europe.

Menu: Pan Viennoise sandwich (boiled ham & butter/cheese & appelstroop/peanut butter & apricot jam/strawberry jam & butter), Plain omelet, Boiled green beans, Cherry tomato

Banana for dessert