Tag Archives: paris

My #tbt post on my trip to Paris 2013

31 Jul

OMG!!!  I can’t believe that I’ve been so busy lately that I never got to post about my experience last year of returning to Paris for the third time…  this time, I went by myself in my first ever international vacation on my own.  I will not lie… I was scared out of my mind.  With as much travel that I do, I surprised myself I was so anxious about being by myself in Paris.

Paris Trip Collage

I went to Paris for one week, right after being in Spain with my friend Walter walking the Camino de Santiago.  It was cheaper to travel back home from Paris/CDG than from Madrid.  So the Universe conspired for me to return to the City of Lights, this time by myself.  Traveling alone is something you need to do at least once in your life.  I definitely prefer to travel with someone, but the experience of renting a small studio apt, doing exactly what I want, whenever I wanted was particularly liberating.

Paris 2013 3 Collage

And to be honest… you’re never alone.  Really!!  I met people everywhere I went… a group of 6 Argentinean guys while I was taking a few selfies at the Louvre; a Singaporean woman while waiting in line at the St. Chappelle; a British professor who told us all about the St. Chapelle windows history; an aunt and a niece from San Francisco while I was tasting some desserts at Angelina,  a couple from the US when I was tasting champagne in Epernay.   And I even met up a few times with friends from Puerto Rico… with my dear friend Jesiel, who is now living in Paris and, with whom I had a lovely picnic by the Seine.  Also,  with a former classmate of mine from the L ‘Alliance Française in Puerto Rico, Arturo, who was working for the Summer at the US Embassy and took me to eat falafels and to ride vélos to visit Roland Garros, for all you tennis fans out there.  All that in a week!!!!  When I tell you I was rarely alone, I don’t lie…

Which brings me to what I ate while I was in Paris…

Thanks to Arturo, I got to return to L’As du Falafel.  I tried to eat there on my last trip in 2009, but I went on a Saturday and the owners being Jewish, they observe Sabbath and were closed.  This time, I got the experience the best falafel in Paris.  And they are goooooood.  I had a falafel sandwich and I took me back to that first falafel sandwich I had in Israel more than a decade ago.  They’re worth waiting in line for… really!!!!

LAs du Falafel Collage

I went, finally, to Poilane Bakery… the bakery Giada Di Laurentiis and Ina Garten talk so much about in their shows.  It’s super small!!!!  If you’re not paying attention, you’ll miss it.  I bought myself a pain au chocolat, which was glorious.  But I also bought some buckwheat buns.  Delicious when you first buy them, but they turn very hard by the next day.  Because they weren’t stale, I just opened them, schmeared some chevre cheese and that was my snack while I was champagne tasting in Epernay and Reims.

DSCN9657

I also got to go for the first time to La Grande Epicerie… Ina Garten’s favorite market in Paris, next to Le Bon Marché department store.  It’s like a Whole Foods and a Zabar’s in Paris.  I had so much fun. I touched everything and even bought a few things for my picnic with Jesiel by the Seine.  I bought berries, sparkling water, an artichoke spread and breadsticks which were divine!  Jesiel even kept the label to buy it again for herself and her boyfriend, now husband, Romain.  I can’t believe I was so excited to see Jesiel again that we never took one picture together… and we saw each other twice!!!

La Grande Epicerie Collage

And of course… I had the obligatory crepe in Montmartre, the simple and satisfying tartine et salade lunch in St. Germaine, the eating a croissant while looking at the Tour Eiffel and a picnic to finish all the stuff I still had in my little fridge at the Jardin du Luxembourg.  Even the chai tea latte in a Starbucks to take advantage of the air conditioner and the wi-fi. So gringa of me, right???

Paris 2013 2 Collage

 

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But as always… a week in Paris is never enough to taste and experience everything you want.  I was left wanting to eat at L’Atelier de Joel Rebouchon… because my friend Nayda and a little girl I met in Paris told me that I have not yet tasted mashed potatoes until I taste Chef Rebouchon’s mashed potatoes.  I was going to meet the little girl and her aunt for lunch one day, but time betrayed me and I arrived just past 3PM, when they close lunch service.

DSCN9642

Also, because I went in August, the month when Parisians take most of their vacation time, the market at Rue Raspail was pretty dim.  It looked nothing like the scenes I have seen Ina Garten shopping amongst the fresh fruits and vegetables.  I must go again to experience this street market in all its glory.

As the self-proclaimed professional jet-setter that I am, one trip to Paris is never enough.  So after a year of being away, I am certainly itching to return.  I declared I want to return soon and run the Paris Marathon with a couple of my running friends.  I am certain that’s in my future.  I am sure it’ll happen and you’ll all be right there with me…  d’accord???

A bientôt…

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Vegan Gluten-Free Crepes

28 Apr

A few weeks ago, the Yoga Center celebrated an International Festival of Vegetarian Dishes.  I wanted to contribute by making something that is traditionally considered a “forbidden” food for vegetarians out there, but at the same time that it would be easy for me to make.

I have made crepes time and time again, but out of spelt flour, which is a cousin of wheat.  Most people with wheat-intolerance deal well with spelt, but many people at the Center are avoiding wheat and gluten altogether so if I wanted to make a dish everyone would enjoy, including our Master, I needed to make something gluten-free.

This was my contribution to the Festival…  vegan gluten-free crepes filled with macerated strawberries and decorated with a drizzle of carob syrup.  This was my homage to Didier and the delicious sweet and very popular crepes he would make for me at the Alliance Française a few years ago.

 

Egg-free crepes

VEGAN GLUTEN-FREE CREPES

1 ½ cups gluten-free flour
4 tbs coconut oil
2 cups almond milk + 6 tbs
½ tsp salt
4 ½ tsp egg-replacer
More coconut oil to cook the crepes to oil the pans

 

  1. First, prepare the egg-replacer mixture in a small bowl mixing the egg-replacer and 6tbs of almond milk.  Whisk well together and set aside.
  2. In a blender, add the flour, 2 cups almond milk, salt and egg-replacer mix you prepared earlier. Blend well until all ingredients form a smooth batter mixture.
  3. Refrigerate the crepe batter for at least 2 hours.  DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.  I cannot stress this enough…  if the batter is not rested for at least 2 hours your crepes will be full of bubbles and they will cook uneven.
  4. When you’re ready to use the batter…  move it around and see if it has the consistency of a light pancake batter.  If it’s too thick, add ¼ cup of water or more almond milk to make it thinner.
  5. Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbs coconut oil and spread out using a paper towel.
  6. Pour one ladleful of batter into skillet into skillet, turning and tilting skillet as you’re pouring the batter.  The idea is to coat the bottom of the skillet with a thin layer of batter.  Don’t be discouraged if the first few ones are not as you expect.  It took me a few tried to get the right rhythm of ladle and skillet.
  7. Loose the edges of the crepe using an off-set spatula.  You’ll see the crepe bubble a little, very similar to pancakes.  Loosen the crepe delicately from the pan using a silicone spatula.  When you can move the crepe loosely by just shaking the skillet, after about 1 minute of cooking, flip the crepe using the silicone spatula.
  8. Cook on the other side for about 30 more seconds.  Just slide the crepe out of the skillet onto a plate lined with wax paper.
  9. Repeat the process all over until you finish the crepe batter.  Pass the oiled paper towel once in awhile in between crepes, as needed.

In my belief, these crepes were a COMPLETE SUCCESS!!!!  But I will let the people who actually tasted them give their comments and tell you all about them in their own words.  People… I am counting on you!!!!

Vegan Gluten Free Crepes

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!!!

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.

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