Thursday, October 29, 2009


Saturday is Halloween. I baked up some braincakes. Martha had a good idea. I made it better in two ways- first, "Brain Cupcakes"? Really? How about "Braincakes?" Secondly, no more chocolate cake, these babies were designed for red velvet. Red velvet braincakes!!!Yum!

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Friday, October 23, 2009

How sick of macarons are you?

My macaron posts from my trip are winding down, promise. This is the second to last. I saw these macarons in a window of a chocolate shop in Brussels, long after I had left Paris and eaten through my stash. Macarons in the middle of chocolate land! I made a bee-line over to the shop, by the time my family made it inside I had already purchased a box of the delightful little sandwiches.

Almond. Caramel. Vanilla. These ones were super chewy, not made very well but still delicious- and the buttercream inside was very slightly sweetened, which made them taste even better.

Pistachio. More almond. More caramel. I miss macarons.

These ones are from Jean-Philippe's Darcis, a chocolate shop and patisserie. Be warned- the site pictures halloween-themed macarons, which I can imagine are nothing short of exquisite. I've got a bad feeling that next week I'll be whipping up some chocolate hazelnut macarons with pumpkin buttercream...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009


The waffles of Belgium. They are sold in little storefronts everywhere, sometimes with scoops of ice cream. They smell heavenly. I would always wander around, trying to find a stand that would make them to order, instead of warming ones that were already sitting out.

Inside, they're sweet, tender, and buttery. Outside they're almost crunchy with crisp areas of sugar sprinkled on the iron before the batter was poured- the sugar caramelizes into delicious waffle-y coating. Oh, and you can also get them smothered in whipped cream. Belgium is trouble.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Pain a la Grecque!

At the Dandoy biscuit shop in the city center of Brussels, you can buy these delicious slabs of butter pastry, dotted with cubes and chunks of sugar. The window is filled with them, and by mid-day, there's a line out the door. It's a pastry that's a specialty in Brussels, and in fact I don't know where else you'd get it but Dandoy.

I was the only one who liked these- they're unapologetically sweet, and the pastry is very yeasty-tasting, like a dry brioche. Kind of chewy, everyone thought they were stale. I loved them because it was a semi-acceptable way to just eat sugar.

Crispy, flaky, sweet- and a nice break from the constant munching on Belgian chocolates, Trappist beers, and Belgian waffles... Mmmmm... waffles. More on that later.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Hot Air Ballooning in Bruges

My sister sees a flier in our hotel lobby for hot air ballooning. We make a few phone calls. We get picked up the next morning at 7 a.m. for a a three-hour ride at sunrise, followed by champagne and breakfast.

We get picked up with the balloon in a trailer. We test the wind direction with a rubber balloon at a VW dealership. We find out that the balloonist, Christoper, a driver, and my family will be running this whole production from setting up the balloon to putting it away.

The balloon gets rolled out and clipped on, now we're ready to fill it. This is windy.

Almost there! We're in a field next to a highway- the production is slowing down traffic.

From here it becomes a chaotic shouting of "Get in! Get in!" and scrambling to get into the basket. Inside the balloon, it's time to take off.


The strangest thing about this was that you never got to see the balloon floating from the outside, except in shadows and reflections. Above is the balloon floating over a lake.

The entire city of Bruges, from 1500 feet.

At the end of the ride we got soaked in champagne and fed delicious, butter pastries fresh from a local bakery. I was a little tipsy and adrenaline filled for pictures after our "crash" landing in a farmer's field, so you'll have to forgive the missing pastry pictures.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cocktail Hour

The best part of the day when you're on vacation is the lazy time between spending the day sight-seeing, and dinner. Usually this would include a drink or two and some snacks. Bruges is a lovely place for cocktail hour. Above is my Jupiler in the middle of the city center.

Or how about an afternoon Campari and soda on the adorable shrub-lined patio outside of the hotel?

Topped off by an amuse bouche of tuna tartare, cucumber foam, microgreens and caviar along the canal as the sun sets? Perfect.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Macarons, Pt. CCCXLV

Sorry to do this to you again. But, see, these are the macarons from Laduree. They were the best macarons, (sorry, Pierre). Fun colors! Simple flavors! Chewy, crunchy, sweet, yum.

Macaron tower!

They also came in this gorgeous little box. I'm now using it to hold earrings on my dresser.

I think the vanilla macaron from Laduree was my favorite. Or pistachio. Or rose.

Ok. I promise, no more macarons, at least for a week.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bruges et moules et frites!

The lovely city of Bruges is surrounded by canals. It's beautiful, but touristy. This is where you get mussles and frites, as it is pretty close to the ocean.

Crispy, hot, frites! Dipped in aioli and in your moules.
Moules! So good. So good with beer. More than once I found extra sea creatures in my moules- once it was a teeny baby crab, and another the world's smallest scallop. Extra creatures!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

XOXO Thomas Keller.

Last week I was in Las Vegas. I don't really like it there, for various reasons. There's only one good thing about Vegas, and that's the assortment of lovely restaurants I can't afford to eat in. This does not stop me though, from pressing my nose against the glass at B&B and whimpering at the gorgeous wood paneling and wine glasses.

There is somewhere I can eat, though- Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery in the Venetian. And I ate there every day. Well, I ate a vanilla macaron every day. Perfect, palm-sized, almondy, creamy, sweet, chewy, crackly macarons, wrapped up in quirky beach-ball printed papers.

I almost cried when I ate this sammich. Perfect ham. Perfect cheese. A dab of perfect dijon. All stacked up between the most perfect, warm baguette- it was crunchy and chewy on the outside and the middle just melted. I miss you, ham sammich.

Also: Homemade peppermint patty! Chocolate was good, filling was too powdered sugar and nothing more.

Coming up on OMG!:

-The Gossip Girl Sailor dress I bought in Vegas.
- Belgian chocolates! Belgian pastries!
- Hot Air Ballooning!

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Breakfast in Paris

Oh man. This was the best pain au chocolat that I had in Paris. Flakey, deep rich chocolate and teeny strong coffee (I may have put a ton of sugar in it). We had it Sunday morning at a little bakery around the corner from our Hotel.

Boulangerie Viennoise- 2 Rue Emilio Castelar, 75012 Paris, Île-de-France, France. The woman didn't speak any English but was very patient with me making hand gestures and speaking terrible fragments of French.

Here's a chocolate brioche roll, sprinkled with French pearl sugar. I couldn't find any of this in France, but you can get it from L'Epicerie. L'Epicerie also carries my favorite lemon-infused olive oil and all your glucose and tapioca maltodextrin needs if you're trying to make Dry Caramel Sea Salt shots, ala Grant Achatz.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kirs and Co.

When you are in France, and it is that time of day for a drink before dinner, the drink that you have is a Kir. Kirs are previously covered here. You can have a Kir Royale, too, with champange- but somehow those never seemed to stick around long enough for picture taking. This was my first Kir, pictured above, and the delcious salty meat that was brought out along with it. Not peanuts, not spicy crackers- slices of delicious sausagy meat.

Sometimes you don't get a snack with your late afternoon kir, so you have to provide for yourself. In my case, this one was accompanied by éclairs from Stohlers. Long, thin, and filled with chocolate cream- it was delicious, but also the only éclair I managed to wolf down on the trip (too busy eating marshmallows and chocolates and tiny creme brules and crepes). Yum.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

My favorite things at the Louvre.

Check out these sweet chairs from the Louvre. I'm pretty sure they are the best chairs I have ever seen. Bright yellow satin, pewter metallic thread design- they've even got tassels and swags of fabric on the bottom. And yet they still have a kind of modern, streamlined shape to them. I don't know who's responsible for these but, Kudos, the Louvre.

This is a lion woven in a tapestry at the Louvre. It looks a whole lot like my dog, but with a tail and yellow and also a lion.

Mona Lisa. Come on.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Pierre Herme, Pt. 2

More gratuitous, food porn shots of my macarons from Pierre Herme. Gossip Girl premier is on tonight, so more European delights tomorrow.

So bright. So pretty. So filled with creams and ganache.

What is that? Oh, that is the Lavender macaron. It's covered in shimmering pearl luster dust. It was delicious.

I'm taking these on the street in Paris. People are walking by, wondering what's going on. I don't care. How about a close-up?

Mint macaron. French manicure. This one was deemed too herb-y.


Look at the coloring on the purple cassis macaron. Gorgeous. Almost black. Yum.

The yellow is passion fruit and I did not like it, but to each their own.

This is the olive oil one. I may have eaten half of it. Bonus tip- this color green is supposed to be in for nail polish this year. You are welcome.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Table of Contents

My trip to Europe is wrapping up. I've been busy eating and taking pictures and seeing the sights. I've got weeks worth of posts for when I get back, tomorrow, from Amsterdam. Highlights include:

-Grey Goose Ice Bar in Paris- Lychee Martinis.

- Hot Air Ballooning over Bruges. (I'm pictured above with my Father and Christopher, our balloonist, setting up the balloon).

- Mussels and Frites in Belgium!

- Chocolates, chocolates, and waffles.

- Macarons, croissants, and pastries.

-The beers of Belgium.

And muchmuchmuchmore.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Pierre. Herme.

So, I have been to Pierre Herme. These are the macarons I bought (I also got the collaboration jam! and the opera honey! but more about that later...). They are brightly colored and perfect and I love them. I've eaten through about half of the box now- very jammy, strange flavors- sweet, bitter. I've gotta say that I liked Laduree better- at one point a bartender asked me, "Which Laduree did you go to?" To which I replied, "Both."

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