Paris cafe

I read in painters' biographies about Paris cafés. I dreamed about Montmartre cafés full of artists, eccentrics and discussions about art and philosophy. When I was on Montmartre, I found some cafés from the nineteenth century. Only the name or décor was the same as in books. Customers and discussions are different from the ones in the past. Artists are also other than in the nineteenth century. They don't do uncompromising art but cheap art for tourists. I was very disappointed.

After this experience I was afraid to visit the La Dome café which is a very famous place. It was a big surprise to see full of memorabilia décor. The waiter was a very polite man. We felt like queens in this place. We spent two hours on discussions about art. There were artists around us. Old women were writing poems and drinking morning coffee. A young lady was sketching a portrait of her friend. A man who was near us was talking probably with an art dealer by phone. When we were leaving, a group of young people with easels came to the café. So, I dreamed about that typical Paris morning.

One day we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral. It was too early to fully admire the stained glass windows. We decided to wait and to go for coffee. We found the Esmeralda café. It was a sunny day and this café was very bright. We ordered coffee and enjoyed the sun. The aatmosphere was nice but the coffee was a little sour. We talked about Esmeralda’s story. We recalled scenes from “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” written by Victor Hugo. We planned to find places form these scenes in the Cathedral. We found some of them.

The last café which I visited in Paris was the “Three mills café”. You probably know this café form movies about the charming Amelia. Her portrait is in every place of the café: on the menus, on the walls. I thought that this café is probably a very touristy place. I was surprised because we met many Parisians inside. They were drinking morning coffee. There were only a few typical tourists. They were sitting in the corner and taking pictures under the big portrait of Amelia.
This Café has a wide selection of coffee. We ordered these types which we had never tried: coffee crème with amaretto, cappuccino with ginger, and cappuccino with cherry. They tasted nice.
I could sit like that for a long time because the atmosphere was wonderful but I had to go back to Dublin.

This post is my last story about my trip to Paris. I believe that I will come back to Paris soon.
Edi and Marek - thanks for this amazing time which we spent together.

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French cheese

You remember Meg Ryan in the „French Kiss” movie. She felt happy in France after eating cheese for breakfast. It all ended up with a stomach upset. There was a hilarious scene with French cheese and lactose intolerance.

I had a similar experience to the one in the movie but I am not allergic to lactose. My journey between the airport and the hotel was terrible. In the first instance I hated the French. When I arrived at the hotel, I was angry and hungry. My friends waited for me with a plate of French cheese and fresh baguettes.

After this very late breakfast, I felt happy and open to new experiences.
I have loved cheese since my childhood. My grandma made cheese. I was the first person in my family who tried smelly cheese form France. In my family I had a nickname – mouse.

We found many shops with French cheese on Lepic street, the same place where there is the “Three mills café". It was an amazing view for me. Big counters full of many kinds of cheese. I wanted to try every one, but it was impossible. In France you can find more than 1000 types of cheese. Every day we tried other types of cheese and we were so happy that our hotel didn’t serve breakfast. I brought to Dublin about one kilo of different types of cheese and a customs officer at the airport looked at me as if I were a mad woman.

Maybe I should start new a series about cheese? Do you want to know my opinions about cheese?

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Paris is sweet.

Paris is sweet. That’s true. On every street you can find some shops with sweets.
Chocolate, macaroons, croissants, cakes, cookies - you must try something every day. How do the French make it that they aren’t fat? I don’t know, but I know why they love sweets.

In every famous part of Paris I saw macaroons in every bakery and confectionery kiosk. Macaroons are small cookies made from egg whites, icing sugar, granulated sugar and almond powder. A macaroon is commonly filled with butter cream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. In Paris they were made for the first time by an Italian chef for the wedding of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici in 1533. In Paris the French confectionery Laduree is well-known for making quality macaroons in traditional and new flavours. I didn’t try macaroons from that confectionery but I ate them on Montmartre. They are very delicious and light, but the price of a single macaroon is very high. Maybe I’ll try to bake them.
Currently a box of macaroons is a very fashionable souvenir from Paris.

An éclair is a more common pastry. It is a long thin pastry made from choux dough filled with cream and topped with icing. An Éclair is very popular in Poland. I often bought it in a confectionery near my university in Krakow. I tried éclairs in Paris and the taste was the same as in Krakow. I was so proud of Polish confectioners. The éclair originated in France in the nineteenth century. It is a popular type of cake served all over the world, but only in Paris and Poland its taste is amazing.

Probably nobody knows that a very popular croissant is a Polish idea. In 1683Austria celebrated the Turkish defeat of the Polish forces in the Turkish siege of the city. A Polish diplomat Franciszek Kulczycki convinced a baker Petera Wendela to make buns in the shape of a crescent moon, similar to the moon from Turkish flags. This is only legend. How the croissant was invented is a secret.

The truth is that the croissant origined in Austria. When an Austrian artillery officer, August Zang, founded a Viennese Bakery at 92, rue de Richelieu in Paris. This bakery served Viennese specialties including the kipfel, the Vienna version of croissant. It quickly became popular and inspired French imitators. The French version of the kipferl was named after its crescent (croissant) shape and it has evolved into puff pastries.
Parisian croissants are ones of the best which I have ever eaten.

I always like Opera cakes. I tried the first slice of this cake at my uncle's wedding when I was 6 years old. I first tried to do it when I was 12 years old.
In Paris I tried the French version of an Opera cake, but I still don’t know which version is true. I have several recipes for this cake: my French family, recipes from cookery books and the Internet, but every one is a little different. Maybe you have true recipes of the Opera cake?

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Parisian bakeries

I fell in love with Parisian bakeries. They are in every part of Paris. These are small bakeries with shops at the front with large display windows. The display window, which is full of sweets, tempts potential customers. You must stop and even look at these miracles of the confectionery artistry. When you go inside, you can find there not only sweets but also fresh bread, French sticks, croissants and everything is in a few sorts. Every bakery is a bit different. One sells only bread and croissants, the other has a wide selection of sweets and sometimes you can find a part where there is a café or bistro.

Near my hotel there was a bakery where there served sandwiches and hot takeaway food. Sandwiches were huge, with fresh salads and a few levels of ham or cheese.

But my favourite bakery on Monmarte is Coquelicot on Des Abbesses street. This is a bakery with a small bistro on the first floor. Every time I was there, the bistro was full. So I could never try hot food in that place. But I tried a wide selection of bread, baguettes and croissants. There are the best croissants in Paris. There I also ate brioche and Magdalene cakes.

On the Saint Louis Island I came across ten or more confectionery kiosks in one street. I saw the Louis cake in every place. It is a chocolate cake with chocolate on top. Louis has amazing taste and it is available only on this island.

A special street where I found many bakeries is Saint Honore street. In the past it was a bakery district. This street is very long and you can find not only bakeries but also restaurants, bistros and wine shops.

I found there the award-winning bakery of Jean Noel Julien. This bakery is as a fairytale kingdom of sweets. Excellent display windows tempted pedestrians with beautiful cakes. The smell of fresh bread invited us inside. The bakery was full of people who wanted to buy some of the wonderful sweets. I bought a chocolate cake. It was one of the best cakes which I have ever eaten.

When I came back to Dublin, my suitcase was full of Parisian bread, croissants and sweets. I know, maybe it looked like a mad idea but when you first time try French bread and sweets, you never cease to yearn for them.

In the next post I will write about my favorite French cakes in detail

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My subjective reviews about restaurants in Paris

I spent four days in Paris. Paris is a very interesting and huge city and I could see only a few places during my trip.
In next posts I’ll write about my other experiences from my visit in Paris. Today I am going to write about restaurants where I ate.

Paris as the capital of cuisine has many restaurants. I saw very expensive and cheap restaurants. In the capital of France there is a wide selection of restaurants ranging from the typical French cuisine to exotic one from Bangladeshi.

On Montmartre where there was my hotel I came across restaurants with Turkish, Indian or French cuisine.
French or Indian restaurants are places where you can eat good and healthy food, but Turkish bars serve typical fast and stodgy meals. What surprised me most was Clichy boulevard where there is Moulin Rouge. There are many fast-food bars.
This street is tourist-oriented and restaurants have many clients and are expensive. The restaurant which I had found by the Internet before my trip was closed, so we had to find another place. It was Saturday night and I and my friends had big trouble finding any restaurant in this district.

Finally, we found a free table in Royal Trinité on Châteaudun street.
The restaurant was almost full and everything looked typical, but the waiter was a little impolite. We were too tired and hungry to look for another place. As starters we ordered salads with fresh vegetables, for main course we had duck and steak. The salads were fresh but without sauce so we had to ask for olive oil. The duck was dry and the mushroom sauce tasted like instant one. The steak was underdone and also dry. The waiter, after serving the main course, ceased to pay attention to us. This experience resulted in the fact that we stayed away from places where meals for tourists were served.

The next day we visited the Latin district. It is a beautiful place with restaurants which have Michelin stars. There are many Japanese restaurants in Paris. We came across these types of restaurants near the Luxemburg garden and the Opera.
They were expensive and full of elegant people. I was surprised at the popularity of these restaurants in Paris. I think these places are a good alternative for people who want to eat fast and healthy food. But we wanted to try true French cuisine.

In the Latin district I found a restaurant “Cremerie Restaurant Polidor” on 41 Monsieure-Le-Prince street.
This restaurant was opened in 1845. Inside we found decor coming from the nineteenth century. A very polite waiter who spoke English showed us a long table where there was a Parisian family. We sat together with these people and we felt as a part of this family.
The food in this place was amazing. My friends ordered beef with pepper sauce. I ordered kidneys in madera sauce. My dish was served with very delicious potato puree. Aditionally, we ordered Melba desert as the other people at our table. I think that dinner was typically French and we ate it among Parisians.

The following day we visited places near Louvre. This is a very tourist and fashion district and finding a nice restaurant in there is difficult. My friend who studied in Paris gave me an address one of her favourite restaurants near Opera avenue, but this place was closed on Monday. However, on the next street we found Bistrot Richelieu. Inside there were only people who spoke French but the waiter spoke English. He recommended us terrine as a starter. It was amazing pork liver with something else what was a secret of the chef recipe. This time I ordered steak and chips, my friends had tuna and beans. The steak was well-done and very good.
For dessert we got very tasty chocolate mousse. Now “ Richelieu” took on a new meaning for me and it means good French bistro.

The last place where I ate in Paris was an Italian restaurant near Champs Elysée’s. Maybe it sounds weird that I ate in an Italian restaurant during my visit in Paris, but why not. We found this restaurant by accident. We were on Champs Élysées where there are very expensive restaurants, so we went to the next street. Because we were very hungry and tired, we decided to go to the first restaurant which was not too expensive. “PastaPaPa” was the first restaurant which we found on the next street. The place was nice and warm. We ordered ravioli, truffle pasta and four-cheese pizza. This order was our mistake. We got huge portions. My ravioli looked like a portion for two people. After this dinner I felt gargantuan, but the food was very good.

In next post I’ll write about bakeries in Paris.

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Hawaiian chocolate cake

This is my obsession. Since I have made it, and ate it, I think about this cake at least few times a day. It is so rich, moist, warming, quite and simple. One of the best cakes I have ever tried, better even than Sacher torte, but this may be individual choice. It doesn't matter that it is not quite a dobosh cake. For in Hawaii, the rich chocolate cake, for which there are many recipes, simple and more elaborate ones, is originating from the Hungarian version but the method of cooking has been much simplified. For our pleasure!

The recipe I have used comes from Taste of the Pacific by Susan Parkinson, Peggy Stacy and Adrian Mattinson. I have modified it a bit. Try out the book, it is full of useful hints and really exotic and simple food for every occasion!

Hawaiian chocolate cake

0,5 cup cocoa powder
125 ml water
1,5 tsp baking soda
130 g butter

1,5 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 package of vanilla sugar
2 cups flour
0,5 cup potato starch
dash of salt
1 cup (400 g) kefir

1. Place cocoa powder, water and baking soda in a small pot and heat slowly. Mix until you get a smooth paste and cool down.
2. Sieve flour, starch and salt together.
3. Beat butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs, beating, and then the cooled chocolate mixture. 
4. Gradually add flour and kefir, beating well. 
5. Grease well two 23-cm cake tins, divide the batter.
6. Bake at 180 degrees for 35 minutes (no longer - it is meant to be that moist). The cake likes to rise as a dome so I cut out both tops and made the third layer of it, of course on cooling down.
7. Cool down for few minutes, then loose from the tins and cool on wire rack.

Easy chocolate frosting to finish:

2 cups icing sugar
0,5 cup cocoa powder
80 g butter
1 egg (optional)
60 ml milk
few drops of rum essence (optional)

Again, all you have to do, is to mix well all the ingredients in the above order and decorate the cake! And then you can enjoy the silence created by the table when you serve everyone his or her piece of Hawaii.

Next week I am serving this cake in Krakow for free. Drop in!


Korean seaweed soup

It is so amazing how many times Korean food has inspired me! I am devoted lover of the Korean pancakes among others. Although Gosia has inspired me more frequently, to be true. Last time I got a nice package of the dried seaweed that I love. As I felt that the cold is attacking me, I decide to prepare some warming soup.
(2 portions)

4-6 pieces od dried seaweed
2 drops chilli sauce
1 Tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 carrot
1 small onion
1 garlic clove
cooked rice

1. Soak dried seaweed in cold water until soft. Drain and cut into smaller pieces
2. Cut carrot into julienne stripes and onion into fine slices.
3. Place together in a pot seaweeds, carrots, onions, 500 ml water, dark soy sauce, chilli sauce and fish sauce. Bring to the boil, boil for few minutes. Season with vinegar and salt if necessary.
4. Place cooked rice in a bowl, pour in the soup, sprinkle with the finely chopped garlic clove.

Simple but nourishing. And it helps my brain, they say. I guess I may like Korea. 

And what is your favourite recipe for seaweeds? Krakow visitor's pack for the best proposition! You have a week for entries, starting from now on till 14th of January. Please place your proposals in comments. Happy cooking!


Paris, Paris, Paris

Tomorrow I’m flying to Paris. It is my first time in the world capital of cuisine. I want to visit several places related to my culinary passion. I will also see the most popular tourist attractions.

Paris is sweet.

In childhood I associated Paris with sweets and French sticks. My aunt who lives in France sent me sweets at Christmas. When she visited my family, she taught my grandma how to make croissants. In high school I ate French sticks with jam on lunch - it was my diet. In cookery school I learned about La opera cake, éclair, macaroons and many more traditional French sweets.

Ilona familiarised me with Poilâne bakery and I want to see that special place .
I think that I’ll visit bakeries and confectionery kiosks many times during my trip.

Café life in Paris

My passion is also the 19th and 20th century painting. I have read biographies of many artists from that period and for me French artistic life means café life. At that time many Polish artists studied in Paris and afterwards they moved Paris lifestyle to Krakow.
So I’m familiar with café life very well.
In Paris I particularly want to visit Café du Dôme. This restaurant was visited by many famous artists like Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso and others. And I‘ll go to the café “The Two Windmills” which is famous for the “Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain” movie. Also I’ll look for other artistic cafés on Montmartre.

Paris is fashion

My godmother always told me that Paris means fashion. When she went to Paris, she came back with additional suitcases full of dresses, sweets, wines. In my wardrobe I have two dresses from her trips. They are twenty years old and still are in fashion.
But probably I’ll focus on groceries because I don’t like shopping for clothes.
I want to find a good wine shop, as well as the Fauchon and Lanotre shops.

Next week I’ll tell you about my Paris discoveries.


New Year in the French style

I started New Year in the French style. I savoured La Opera cake and Champagne. It was not accidental because next week I’ll fly to Paris. I’m very excited about this travel. It will be my first time in Paris, I have a lot of plans and ideas what to do in world capital of fashion and cuisine. One of them is to see the building of Paris Opera and try La Opera cake. Today I’m eating my version of this cake. I will write soon about my trip.


Anniversaire de la Tour-Eiffel

• 125 g non bleached powdered almonds
• 125 g sugar
• 30 g flour
• 4 egg yolks
• 25 g butter
• 4 egg whites
• 20 g sugar

Chocolate ganache
• 5 g instant coffee
• 200 g bittersweet couverture chocolate
• 150 g 35% cream

Coffee buttercream
• 15 g instant coffee
• 200 g sugar
• 70 g water
• 2 eggs yolks
• 200 g unsalted butter

• 80 g bittersweet couverture
• 80 g 35% cream

Almond biscuit: Whip together the almonds, sugar, flour and egg yolks for approximately 15 minutes. Beat the egg whites and sugar until stiff. Gently blend in the egg whites to the rest of the preparation using a spatula. Melt the butter, let cool down and add to the mixture. Spread the preparation on parchment paper. Cook at 220 ºC 10 minutes. Remove the biscuit from the plaque as soon as it comes out of the oven.

Coffee buttercream: Cook the sugar in 70 g of water until rise to a thick syrup. In bowl whipped whole eggs yolks and still whip eggs add the sugar mixture. Whip the mixture until it cools down. Gradually add previously softened butter and continue whipping. The mixture should double in volume and whiten. Add 15 g of coffee dissolved in a small amount of water.
Chocolate ganache: Bring the cream to a boil with the remaining coffee. Blend in the chopped chocolate. Allow to cool.

Combination: Cut biscuit to 3 or 4 squares. Spread the ganache on a first layer of biscuts. Cover with the next layer, garnishing with the coffee buttercream. Cover with the last layer. Cool down in fringe. Chop up the topping chocolate and mix with the cream. Bring to a boil. Glaze the cake. Cool down in fringe.
Serve with champagne.


Opera for Rent

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