The Parisian Kitchen
Add: 4 rue de Tocqueville, 75017 Paris
Tel: 06 16 93 34 06
Visited: May 2015
After years of working in the luxury industry (most recently at Louis Vuitton, where she stayed for seven years), Bénédicte Mesny decided that she’s going to make a change in career – by starting her own cooking classes. When I received her invitation to experience one of her menus, I took a quick look on her website to see what the program is about – market visit, 2-hour cooking class with starter, main course, and dessert, followed by lunch with cheese and wine included…and all is held in her beautiful Parisian apartment in the 17th arrondissement. How could I say no to that? Let’s go.
We arrived at Bénédicte’s apartment around 10am, and after some tea and chouquettes which she thoughtfully prepared for us (in case we didn’t have breakfast), we went off to Marché de Lévis to pick up things we needed for our lunch. From the three options Bénédicte offers, we chose the poultry menu, which included salmon tartar as appetizer, poultry roll as main course, and chantilly cloud as dessert. As I’m not a big fan of meringue, we decided to change the dessert to chocolate soufflé instead (Woohoo!)
Back at the apartment, we started cooking. There was some chopping, rolling, simmering, boiling, searing, and baking…I won’t give much details here lest you want to experience the class yourself.
Miss Clara Hotel
Add: Sveavägen 48, 111 34 Stockholm, Sweden
Tel: +46 8 440 67 00
We spent our next two nights in Stockholm at Miss Clara, a stylish hotel renovated from a former private girls school originally built in 1900. Named after the headmistress, the building received a full makeover by Swedish architect Gert Wingardh, who kept the original art nouveau structure intact and filled its interior with modern furnishings, lighting, and artwork. The result is beautiful, as you will soon see from the photos below. Location-wise, the hotel is within a 10-minute walking distance from the central train station, and 20-some minutes to sights like Gamla Stan (old town) and Skeppsholmen (museum island) – not much to complain about.
One of my favorite space within the building is the dining room: vaulted windows, leather banquettes, Lee Broom crystal bulbs…just gorgeous.
Next door is The Ballerina Room, which features Max Modén’s ballerina portraits and Kaare Klint chairs.
Add: Riddargatan 6, Stockholm
Tel: 00 46 8 54 50 39 40
Visited: May 2015
We spent our first two nights in Stockholm at Story Hotel in Ostermalm, a posh residential / shopping district of the city. The placement really can’t get any better – the hotel is surrounded by chic designer boutiques, restaurants, bars and clubs, and is only a one-minute walk to metro Ostermalmstorg (one stop away from the central train station). Most places we visited – Gamla Stan (old town), Skeppsholmen (museum island), the pier (to hop on a boat to the Archipelago) etc. – are all within walking distance. Really, the perfect location.
The design is stylish – polished concrete floors, exposed pipes across the ceilings, lush velvet furnishings – with quirky details sprinkled here and there.
On our fourth day in Stockholm, we hopped on a Cinderella boat (yes Cinderella) to explore a nearby island called Vaxholm. This cute place is only about 45 minutes from Stockholm, a charming option for day trippers especially when the sun shines.
The first thing we did upon reaching Vaxholm – despite the fact that it still felt like winter – was to get double scoops of ice-cream. I tried the coconut and mango/passionfruit ice-cream and both were delicious. Right at the pier, you can’t miss it.
Some snapshots from Stockholm’s old town / gamla stan. Slightly touristy but beautiful nonetheless.
Delicious Swedish meatballs at Fem Små Hus, served in cream sauce with pickled cucumbers, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes.
Before my Stockholm trip, Carin of Paris in Four Months generously shared a huge list of recommendations for her hometown, which I followed diligently, starting with cakes and coffee of course. Among all the spots I visited, one of my favorites was Xoko, a bakery cafe in the Vasastan neighborhood serving excellent baked goods, coffee, and light food. The atmosphere was absolutely charming, I could sit there all afternoon.
My selection: a princess cake, a mazarin, and a cup of xokoccino. The princess cake (prinsesstårta) is a traditional Swedish layer cake consisting of sponge cake, pastry cream, and a dome of whipped cream, topped by green-colored marzipan. The marzipan was too sweet for me (I readily scrapped it off) but the dome of whipped cream was surprisingly pleasant in company with sponge cake and fresh raspberries sandwiched in between. Mazarin is yet another popular Swedish pastry, basically a tart filled with sweet ground almond paste – simple and delicious. Xokoccino is Xoko’s chocolate latte, and while it was very good, it was slightly too sweet of a cup of be paired with the pastries I ordered…
Add: rue, 34 Rue de Richelieu, Paris 75001
Tel: 01 42 60 59 66
Hours: [Mon] 7-10:30pm [Tue-Sat] 12:30-2:30pm, 7-10:30pm [Sun] 11:30am-3pm
Price: [lunch] €18-24 [dinner/brunch] €30-40
Visited: Apr 2015
A newly opened neo-bistro by the folks behind Verjus and Verjus wine bar. I first visited on a Sunday for their brunch special menu, which consists of a dozen or so small plates designed to be shared. The famous buttermilk fried chicken is delicious as usual, and everything else we tried was quite pleasant as well, especially the chicken chilaquiles and the malt ice-cream.
Add: 48 rue caulaincourt, Paris 75018
Tel: 01 46 06 96 71
Hours: [Tue-Sun] 7:30am-8:30pm
Price: [pastries] €3-5
Visited: Apr 2015
A cute boulangerie/patisserie/confiserie in the Montmartre neighborhood. This isn’t my usual hangout, but I made the effort to trek all the way up here one early morning after seeing this video (go to 0:50 min) – this place just looked too charming to pass.
The chef, Boris Lumé, is French by origin and was trained in Paris before he spent 2 years in Tokyo with his Japanese wife, also a boulanger by profession. He’s been through a few big names like Joël Robuchon, Cyril Lignac, and Frédéric Lalos before setting up his own place here in Montmartre, and his pastries stand somewhere in the middle between haute patisseries (e.g. Pierre Hermé) and your corner boulangerie.
Des Gâteaux et du Pain
Add: 89 rue du Bac , 75007 Paris
Tel: +33 (0)1 45 48 30 74
Hours: [Mon-Sat] 9am~8pm [Sun] 9am~6pm
Price: [pastries] €6~7
Tasted on: Apr 2015
Some recent tastings from Des Gâteaux et du Pain. “Pamplemousse Rosa” (€6.80), a new creation from Claire Damon, is composed of rose-flavored mousse, grapefruit segments, grapefruit jelly, and corn flour biscuit. The rose flavor is rather strong, almost too much for me if not balanced by the bitter freshness from the grapefruit. Not bad, but not one of my favorites from Des Gâteaux et du Pain.
“Kashmir” (€6.80), an intriguing combination of saffron, orange, and date. The bottom is a moist almond biscuit, topped with orange and saffron-flavored date compote, saffron crème brûlée, and vanilla mousse. The flavor combination is very unique and memorable indeed, though I personally am not swooned by it. That said, this could still be a fun try for those with an adventurous palate.
Bears & Raccoons
Add: 21 rue Richard Lenoir, 75011 Paris
Tel: 09 51 67 87 71
Hours: [Mon-Fri] 11am-6:30pm [Sat] 11am-9pm
Price: €7.50/sandwich, €7.50/formule, €2-3.70/tea and coffee
Visited: Apr 2015
A cute gluten-free cafe/epicerie fine in Paris 11eme. Pleasant ambience, friendly service, tasty (though rather small in size) sandwiches made to order, not bad pastries and ok coffee.