Tag Archives: france

The Vegetarian Professional Jet-Setter Strikes again…

24 Sep

I’m here!!! I’m here!!! I have not fallen off the face of the Earth!!!

The first part of 2013 has been incredible to me… I had the chance to visit so many places – India, Panama, Peru, Miami… those you already knew about. But I just got back from a trip to Spain doing the Camino de Santiago and a week in Paris. Collectively, I think in the first 8 months of 2013, I’ve only been in Puerto Rico for about 3 months total. I told ya once… be careful what you wish for, because just like the Daughtry song says, “you just might get it all… and then some you don’t want”.

Travel 2013 Collage

I have been craving some normalcy… some time at home, by myself to write and share with you all the wonderful experiences I’ve had. But doing 3 spiritual trips in less than 6 months takes a toll on you. My mind has not been in the writing mode. That’s why I’ve been kinda quiet lately. If you follow me on Facebook, at least you’ve gotten a chance to check out some of KarmaFree’s recipes from our archives… But my spiritual guru told me it would be like this for a little while. Trying to get a grasp of normalcy while all the experiences and blessings of all these spiritual trips actually sink in.  Please bear with me…

I’ve already shared with you some things about Peru – what to buy when you visit and my experience drinking Coca Tea in Cusco. I’ve also shared some of the experiences in India – about sugar-coated fennel seeds or the many ways Indians eat their lentils. But I have not had the chance to tell you about the awesome natural treatments we did in Panama, some of the great vegetarian restaurants we went in Peru or some of the delicious recipes I learned while in India. Let me tell you… I got sweets you will looooooooove!!!! You’ll hear about the experience and the recipes in the weeks to come.

Panama Collage

 

You’ll also learn about my experience of walking the Camino de Santiago or St. James Way… If you’ve seen the movie The Way with Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, you know what I am talking about. This was my 3rd trip to Spain and I keep learning so much and discovering this country’s gastronomy has to offer. I will also try to show you how I handled walking 114kms in 5 days on a vegetarian diet!!!

España Trip Collage 2

And Paris!!!! My lovely, lovely Paris!! If I was in Spain, how could I not hop over to visit my beloved Paris?? This time around I went by myself and got to eat and experience some of my old favorites, but also got a taste of some new things I have been meaning to try… like those lovely falafels at L’As du Falafel that everyone raves so much about.

Paris Trip Collage

Thanks for sticking around… thanks for being patient with me. I promise I had all you guys on my mind wherever I was… India, Paris, Spain, Miami, Panama, Peru and even here in my lovely kitchen in Puerto Rico. I will try to make you all feel like you were all there with me…

Bon virtual voyage!!!! Bon Appetit!!!

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A Vegetarian in Paris… Eating with the Locals

4 Nov

I am very fortunate to have friends living all over the world… my friend Clari is in Turkey, Sonia just moved back from Barcelona, Rocío thought a move to Australia was a good thing but came halfway around and is now living in Madrid, Mara was in Lima until last month but now is in Chicago, Jesiel is in NYC and wants to move to Paris…  But our friend Nicole is already living there… in Paris now for a year.

Nicole moved when her husband was transferred from PR back to Paris.  We were friends from the Alliance Française and she is part of the original Les Francophones group.  She was super excited when we told her we would be visiting Paris this September. 

As soon as we arrived, she and her husband Martin wanted to invite us for breakfast and to visit them at their home.  We agreed to meet for breakfast early so we could catch-up on or comings and goings and then continue with our sight-seeing.   I love hanging out with them because Martin speaks French beautifully and always lets us know when we are saying something we shouldn’t. 

Petit Dejeuner avec Nicole

This particular morning we learned how the French eat their breakfast – le petit dejeuner.    And the key word here is PETIT.  The French merely eat tartines, which are toasted baguette, or a croissant with butter or confiture.  They drink their café crème or café au lait and on their way they are.  The omelets or other egg concoctions you see on the menus is for the tourists… not the locals.  They eat them, but at other times of the day, not for breakfast.  Being the tourist that I was, that morning Martin ordered for us croissants and jus d’orange.  But I was left empty… I had to order a tartine to at least feel I had had breakfast, especially when on vacation that my appetite opens up exponentially.

Tartines Petit Dejeuner

confiture  

After having had the tartine breakfast for a few days in a row, we needed a change… and we had seen a Le Pain Quotidien near our apartment.  I have mentioned Le Pain Quotidien to you on my last trip to NYC.  Their oatmeal is AMAZING and Annie Mariel and I were craving something warm and different.  To our surprise, Le Pain Quotidien in Paris, or at least this one we came to, does not serve oatmeal.  People would just never order it, and as a result, they took it off the menu.  So what did we order???  Bread and Croissants, AGAIN!!!   At least this time, the bread was whole-grain. We just could not eat the whole basket, so we took the leftovers to our picnic at the Tour Eiffel.  And the juices were freshly squeezed – orange and guess what the red one is made of…  vegetables!!!   Tasted just like a V8, but looked more like beet juice.

pain quotidien - pain    pain quotidien - jus

 Later on in the week, Nicole and Martin invited us to dinner at their Parisian apartment in the 20th arrondissement. 

Chez Nicole 1   Chez Nicole et Martin 2

Knowing we are vegetarians, they treated us to a nice variety of goodies:  puffed pastry filled with cheese, guacamole with tortilla and potato chips, as well as apple and cheese skewers for appetizers.  Dinner was a cucumber and yogurt salad, cheese and veggie quiche-like tart and a tomato and goat cheese tart.  For dessert, we had fruits, cheese, bread  and fruit tarts.  Delicious… it was a much appreciated effort knowing they are not vegetarians and they bended-themselves backwards to accommodate us. 

 Entremeses Franceses

The evening was really lovely… plus hanging out with Nicole, Martin and their daughter we got to speak in all three languages simultaneously – English, Spanish and French…  Merci beaucoup!!!

A Vegetarian in Paris… Unexpected Finds

28 Oct

Being a traveler involves some planning ahead to make sure that you don’t miss something you want to do due to lack of certain knowledge (check out my adventures trying to locate a famous ice cream shop and a favorite falafel stand in Paris), but also means being flexible and being able to throw away all your plans and walk a city without a specific purpose to see where fate leads you…

This is how we found St. Michel and Passage du Panoramas…

notre dame 2

St. Michel is an area right over the Seine on the Rive Gauche/Quartier Latin right across the Notre Dame cathedral.  How we came about it, I can’t even remember.  We got off from our L’Open Tour bus and were walking and I saw a small street that looked like it had a lot of movement… I asked Annie Mariel if she felt we should go that way… and we did.

St. Michel is an area with small pedestrian streets filled with restaurants from all over the world – French, Spanish, Middle Eastern, Italian, you name it…  we decided to go for fondue that night.  Not the best fondue we have ever had, but the reason why we were drawn to this particular restaurant was because it mentioned vegetarian options.  A testament that not all vegetarian restaurants are good indeed…   we had fondue with salade, potatoes, and bread.  Could not believe the bread was stale.   Sadly, the worst meal we had in Paris.

fondue 3   Menu - fondue

fondue - pommes terre    menu fondue 2

Another night we were a bit tired, but not so much to stay in, so we decided to go see a movie close to our apartment.  It had to be in French and without subtitles.  We had a great time… we understood the movie theme, but only got 50% of the dialogue.  But, that’s part of learning and immersing yourself in a new language and culture, right?

After the movie, we walked a bit trying to decide if we were hungry enough to eat something. And then we saw this little passageway with lots of restaurants and decided that at least we had to sit down and try something.  We were mesmerized by the insistence of this Croatian woman who kept inviting us to eat her delicious Coquilles St Jacques or scallops.  I knew I was never going to please her by ordering the scallops, but she was charming enough to be our favorite spot there.

passage de restaurants     passage panoramas

I ordered a fromage de chevre with tomates sechés au soleil (sun-dried tomatoes) with a salade and potatoes provençal.  I really should have ordered these vegetables in a puffed pastry, but was afraid if they were made with some kind of stock… 

chevre et sundried tomates pommes de terre provencal    

For dessert, I tried the Tarte Tatin and Annie Mariel the profiteroles.  The Tarte Tatin was warm and the whipped cream delicious.  I need to try this soon for you guys…  I took a stab at it before but was not very successful…

tarte tatin    profiteroles

Goes to show you that letting things flow allows you to find the true heart and soul of a city…   Bonne soirée.

A Vegetarian in Paris… Fine-Dining in Paris

26 Oct

Annie Mariel and I love good food…  so we knew we had to experience some of the fine dining Paris has to offer, vegetarian style.

We were extremely lucky to score some tickets to the premiere of the French opera Mireille, at the Opera Garnier.  We had wanted to buy tickets to this show for about 3 months prior to our trip, but it was not until 1 hour before the show that we actually got tickets…  So it was only fitting that we celebrate this achievement or lucky strike with a nice dinner.

COSTES

We were recommended Costes by the concierge at the Intercontinental Hotel right in front of the Opera.  Located in fancy Rue St. Honoré, the choice could not have been better.   I was pleasantly surprised the menu included true vegetarian options.  This is what I ordered:  A salade caprese with tomates cerises and buffalo mozzarella fromage, a quinoa risotto with asparagus tips and a sorbet made of fruits rouges.  Truly delicious… costly, but exquisite.

COSTE - salade caprese

COSTE - Quinoa risotto

COSTE - Sorbet

Aside from the restaurant’s food, the ambiance is really nice.  Our server was super nice and cheery, putting aside all the rumors of Parisian people being rude.  Nice-looking people frequent this restaurant, so it’s nice for people gazing.  And for a night cap, the bar has a great atmosphere too.

 

BUDDHA BAR

Annie Mariel was keen on going to dinner to Buddha Bar.  It was a favorite of hers from a previous visit to Paris.  So I followed suit.  I was a bit unimpressed by their vegetarian options… if it’s vegetarian it also spicy and I do not do spicy well.    Because the menu is sushi-heavy, I though the best bet was to order some vegetarian rolls… NOT!

I had to almost “threaten” that I was merely going to watch my friend eat before I could convince the server to ask the sushi chef to make some vegetable rolls for me.  He almost argued with me the sushi rolls were already made and that was the reason I could not request anything specific…  sushi rolls already made?!?!?  Is this Buddha Bar or the sushi counter at Costco or my local supermarket???  Really??  Please!!

After much negotiation and convincing, this is what I finally ordered – Vegetable Spring Rolls and a custom-made vegetable roll, with asparagus, cucumbers and some other pickled vegetables I could not recognize.  It would have been better with cream cheese in it, but I was not about to piss-off the server and chef once more… and I got about 3 huge spring rolls, I guess he took seriously my threat that I would not eat anything there and tried to put as much food on the plate from the stuff I did order.

BUDHABAR - Spring rolls    BudhaBar - Sushi

We were sitting right in front of the Buddha statue… the music a bit too loud for my taste.  The bar extremely expensive – we paid 15€ for a drink each.   The French guys who go there, super nice thanks to Pierre and Matthieu.  They were great company and because their Spanish or English was so-so, we were able to speak French almost exclusively with them.  Superbe!!!

 

Traditional French cooking is not very vegetarian friendly, but a vegetarian can still find great eats fine-dining in Paris, even if we need to “threat” a few people for it.

A Vegetarian in Paris… Snacking in the Champs Elysées

23 Oct

With all the walking we did in Paris, we had to do our three meals and a few snacks in between… these were a few of our favorites from our week in Paris.

champs elysees 2    champs elysees 1

Frites and Orangina at the Champs Elysees

I love French fries and it was a real pleasure to sit down at a café to taste a small plate of frites with ketchup and Dijon mustard.  You could taste these did not come from a frozen bag.

frites   orangina

Orangina was my beverage of choice during my week in Paris.  I remembered it well from my first trip to Europe.  It’s a natural soda with orange juice and pulp.  It’s refreshing… not something to drink every day, but certainly, a vacation treat.

A picnic at the Tour Eiffel

One of my dreams was to go to a street market, buy fresh fruits, cheese, bread and take it to a Parisian park to enjoy the company and the views.  When we drove past the Tour Eiffel and the Champs de Mars I immediately knew this was the location for our picnic.

Our initial plan was to visit the Marché Breteuil , open weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays, and then head for the Champs de Mars.   The thing was the market is open and available early in the morning, so when we went at about 3PM for our afternoon picnic snacking, there was nothing there except the empty area where usually the market stands are. Lesson learned there.

Alternatively, we went to a small market on our way to Champs de Mars and bought our fixin’s – crackers, fromage de chevre, Roquefort, strawberries, and the very Parisian BBQ flavored Lay’s potato chips.  It was truly wonderful… a dream come true.  It was a bit chilly, but very enjoyable. 

picnic 1

picnic 2

 Next time… a picnic somewhere we can see the Seine.

A few things to eat at home

Because we were staying at an apartment with a full kitchen… – full in the sense that had everything we needed, but super small according to US or PR standards. – We headed to a supermarket to gather some “munchies” and breakfast alternatives.

We were amazed by the amount and variety of cheeses in the cheese case.  To cheese lovers like us, we felt as if we were in cheese heaven.  We just could not bring ourselves to choose…  Among our purchases:   whole grain baguette, citrus juice, goat cheese crottins, comte cheese, some nectarines and peaches, among a few other necessities. 

fromage supermarche 1    fromage supermarche 2

It was really nice to arrive to our apartment, relax for a bit watching some French-language TV and enjoying French cheese, French bread before heading out to a late dinner… felt really Parisian, just like we wanted.  But please do not dare ask me how many pounds we gained in just that week…  OK?

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