Paris Day 1 – The Circumnavigation

Start: top left corner of the map. Walk “downhill”. Take a slight wrong turn. End up at Arc de Triomf. Realise your new camera’s lens does not zoom in or out; time to be creative.

Arc de Triomph

Take a stroll down the Champs Elysee, slight detour to the Grand Palais, and a nice long wait to go through security at the Louvre. Blur through the sculpture room, Medieval Art, Mona Lisa, Roman and Greek art,  foot-rest break in the Egypt chamber, and onward to the lock bridge. Slight wander to get to the Notre Dame, and a much welcome break at Quick. “Healthy” does not feature when in Rome Paris.

Petit Palais

Mona Lisa crowds

Notre Dame

Grand Palais

Obelisk Champs Elysee

A “just-around-the-corner” walk to Eiffel Tower, pause on the grass, pause in the queue, and begin the ascension to the second floor. Pause for elevator to the top, try not to get blown off the top, pause for elevator back to second floor, and some eccentric quad exercises to the bottom. Catch a bus that’s much further away than it seemed on the map.

Eiffel Tower

Get home to leave some baggage and go out for an evening walk, but end up crashing before 8pm, despite not having dinner other than cool cereal, and despite having no curtains for the remaining 2 hours of daylight.

Total: 15km of city walked. 1 wing of the Louvre explored. ±700 stairs up and ±700 steps down the Eiffel Tower. Day 1 = complete.

Oui went to Paris

We went to England for his first time overseas. He wanted something exotic for his first time though, so I figured why not hop on over to Paris for the weekend. After all, it is just around the corner.

Surrounded by history is the city of Paris

Outside the Army Museum: Surrounded by history is the city of Paris. It really makes me wish I had taken the noble subject of History, even if only at school level

The city of love, of lights, of overpriced restaurants, too much vandalistic graffiti, and enough litter in the sheets to tower over Le Toer Eiffel. I guess that’s how it’s always been though, a city of start contrasts. Our visit to The Palace of Versailles highlighted how lavishly the French Bourgeoise lived, while the proletariat went starving. Walking through the narrow lanes and alleyways of Paris, and suddenly, out of the cobbled streets, will rise, gold and grand, some immense building of some significance or other. And then it’s back to uneven paving and spray painted tags, where some French kid thought he was being cool by cussing in English.

Paris is full of rebels, even if it is just a way for them to declare their undying love

Paris is full of rebels, even if it is just a way for them to declare their undying love

The first time I went to Paris, I went by ferry, and it gave a stunning view of Dover (and boats are always fun). This time, we caught the Eurostar, for £72 one way, and £56 for the return trip. I expected more from the train trip, but hey, it was efficient and it delivered us safely to Gare du Nord train station, a short bus ride from our accommodation. If only we knew how to catch a bus in France… Luckily, the French folk were really helpful, contrary to my limited past experience. I still don’t know how to catch a bus though.

Beauty is in the sunglasses of the South African

Beauty is in the sunglasses of the South African

We booked our accommodation through Air BnB, which is pretty much my new favourite travel website, on par in usefulness with Skyscanner.net, We stayed in a 6th floor, one bedroom apartment which had windows that would have been completely perfect if their view had been one of the Eiffel Tower. Also, if they had curtains, especialy with the sunrising at 5am, setting at 11.

Check: he's holding the Eiffel Tower!

Check: he’s holding the Eiffel Tower!

The highlights of this trip:

Day 1

  • Arc de Triomf
  • Champs Elysee
  • The Louvre (and getting in for free)
  • Walking to Notre Dame
  • Grabbing a Quick burger
  • Walking to the Eiffel Tower; climbing the 700 stairs to the second level and then catching a lift to the top
  • And finally catching bus home
The classic French dinner: Sirloin and Pommes Frites (French Fries). The irony that they are called Poms...

The classic French dinner: Sirloin and Pommes Frites (French Fries). The irony that they are called Poms…

Day 2

  • Oversleeping, meeting some Americans on a train, and waiting nearly an hour to get into the Palace of Versailles, walking through endless illogical halls-come-bedrooms then corridors of said palace, being very hot walking through the extensive and gorgeous gardens
  • Returning to town for a trip through the Catacombs,
  • Dinner in Paris
  • Sunset from the Sacré Cœur, and
  • An evening stroll home along Place de Clichy (think red light district and “cabaret”)

Overall, it was a really lovely trip. Quite an expensive expedition, but that’s what you get when you visit one of the most popular world tourist destinations. We walked 15km on each of the days, excluding the walk around the inside of the Palace of Versailles, and excluding walking around the Louvre. We were only there for 3 nights, but we really made the most of the limited time that we did have there.

Paris has this uncanny ability to be an amazing fantasy before you get there, somewhat awful and scruffy while you are there, and then still manages to leave you feeling as though you went to this magical place of beauty and excitement when you return to reality. It’s bizarre and I like it.

Food lately

Oh my word I can’t believe it’s been so long since I actually posted anything! I do have a ton of reasons (internet, laptop, camera, etc.) but excuses don’t mean anything at the end of the day: it didn’t get done, and now I need to fix that!

Just because I haven’t posted anything doesn’t mean that I haven’t been doing food stuff lately – that will never happen! As you can see above (and below), Easter happened, so of course food happened. I entered a competition  on Yuppiechef.com (#eastercakeoff), and had to bake their amazing Spiced Almond Hot Cross Bun Cake, and maybe I didn’t win the awesome Le Creuset hamper (*tear), but you can’t not be winning at life when you get to eat an amazing cake like this. Instead of toasting coconut flakes (which were impossible to find the day before Easter) (also I burnt the one bag of coconut flakes that I did have, but don’t tell anyone that!), I bought some really delicious cereal topping from Woolworths, which came with flaked almonds, coconut flakes, and white chocolate. Totally makes up for the burnt coconut (and because there is now some cereal topping left over…) #WinningAtEaster!

Easter = eggs (obviously). (Let’s see how much of this blog post I can write in parenthesis…) So quiche was the order of the day – you know, to be healthy and stuff, and I have finally found a super reliable shortcrust pastry recipe which I will share (in a really cool and special new way), sometime in the new future).

I’ve also recently decided that I should probably start being a bit healthier. I am in the Wellness and Health & Fitness industry so I should maybe start setting a better example. I had a week of jar salads. I got over it. And how can I not, when there are these amazing chocolate-chocolate éclairs in a recipe book just asking to be made!

So new week, I had to try be healthy again. I’ve gone the Herbalife route now. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you will certainly hear more about it from me in the future. It’s such an amazing product, and look at the delicious (and nutritious) smoothies you can make with it. Trust me, these tasted just like a chocolate-covered strawberry, just as they should!

I’ve also started working with a more regular income. Just because it is regular, doesn’t mean it is hugely lucrative, but it does mean that on pay day I get to go buy “other people” some treats from bakeries I’ve been meaning to try. These are from Chocola. J in Northcliff and they were heavenly, especially the crème brûlée cupcake, and the Bar-One cheescake…

  Vovo Telo always presents their food so well. I have an absolute favourite sandwich at their restaurant, but I decided to give this croissant a try for a change. That’s literally one of my most challenging things ever: saying no to the things you love to try something new, even if it is likely to be as delicious. Can’t I just have both?!?!?! I kept my consistency by having African Summer Tea from Toni Glass though. I am in love!

So that’s what’s been happening in my food world over the past month or so. I’ve made a couple loaves of bread, tried to be experimental with media, and also trying to figure out this whole work-life balance thing. It’s quite tough if you’re trying to make the things you are passionate about (the “life” side of the equation) part of your work… But we are getting there. And the rest of April is going to be an amazing adventure in preparation for May and the rest of the year. Second Term starts soon: New Term, New Me (again)!

Viennese Whirls

I am having such uncharacteristically strong cravings lately. Not in a weird way (I’m not pregnant), but my body is definitely telling me which nutrients I am lacking. Like salty or spicy potato chips (which I normally only each about 4 times a year). And chocolate too, which is normal for me, but not normally such an insatiable desire…

There’s also the inability to stop once I’ve started. I guess this is what happens when you attempt to be healthy! (Though being healthy is definitely paying off – six pack, here I come!)

Pre-baked whirls

So the other day I had a craving for those little melting moments shortbread cookies. I really just wanted the sweet buttery-ness to melt and dissolve on my tongue. With a nice dusting of icing sugar of course.

I Pinterested recipes for the little gems and I came across recipes for Viennese whirls, which are just a slightly different consistency, making them pipable. Result: the most professional-looking home-baked cookies I have ever made! And even better when dipped in the rare perfection that is Bournville (seriously, though, why have they stopped selling that in my local shops? Where did it go?!)

Tea and whirls

Make sure when you’re making these that the dough/batter is extremely soft – pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds or cream it extra well; you may end up with a split piping bag if you don’t.

Whirl batter

I am also considering adding a dash of vanilla next time I make these, just to add a subtle sweet depth to them.

Tea and biccies

Viennese Whirls

Makes about 16-20

Ingredients

  • 250g butter
  • 55g icing sugar
  • 225g cake flour
  • 75g cornflour
  • About 200g dark chocolate for dipping (I keep the quantity low so I don’t end up eating all the leftovers!)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C
  2. Cream the butter and icing sugar together really well
  3. Sift the cake flour and cornflour together, and add to the butter mixture. Mix very well
  4. Place in a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe onto a prepared baking sheet
  5. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, just before they start to change colour
  6. Remove and let cool before dipping in melted chocolate. Leave for the chocolate to harden

Getting Lucky at the Good Luck Club

The Good Luck Club

And by lucky I mean free food, because we all know that that is the best score you can get.

I stumbled upon this neat little restaurant on a casual afternoon drive home from work when I was actually looking for another restaurant, and discovered that the Good Luck Club, which I had never heard of before, was going to be having a Grand Opening launching their new expansion. I wasn’t planning on staying for lunch, but a launch I could definitely count myself included in. And man, was I NOT disappointed.

 

The Good Luck Club has a branch in Illovo, so the quality of the food in this new branch in Emmarentia was unsurprisingly delightful. I love how the menu brings Asian cuisine into the suburbs of Jo’burg, without being too pretentious (although the restaurant was packed to the BRIM with hipsters on opening night – it was the craft beer they were there for, I’m sure of it!)

Good Luck Club Dumplings

After 2 hours of waiting (apparently everyone knew it was opening night) we were finally served our free dim sum platter of 6 dumplings in 3 varieties. Though they were late, they were still steaming hot, and coupled with a deliciously spicy dipping sauce.

It is cheaper than many of the Asian fusion restaurants that are popping up around Jo’burg, however it is still out of my price range at about R98 for the average main (so much, and just for noodles or curry!?) As a result, I had the miso soup for main. It was tiny, but full of flavour, and of course packed with protein-filled tofu. Mr Kendz had the Thai Chicken soup, which he was thrilled with: there was a delicate balance of coconut and undertones of subtle and beautifully combined flavours – not overwhelming, and really generous with the chicken. He was satisfied after his half of the dim sum platter and his soup, so it is still possible to make it a cheap date and get some great tasting good quality food.

Good Luck Club Miso Soup

Deep fried banana spring rolls with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Delicious (even though we got it before we even got our dim sum)

Deep fried banana spring rolls with chocolate dipping sauce for dessert. Delicious (even though we got it before we even got our dim sum)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restaurant itself is stunning – it is simplistic, with concrete walls and simple wooden tables. The lights hang off the walls on neatly wound cords of wire (I’m sure it’s safe!), and there are Sir Cats on the wall. I would go there just for Sir Cat. He’s majestic.

One day when I’m big and rich I will go to restaurants like the Good Luck Club all the time! But for now, I will just save it for payday (along all the other exciting restaurants Jozi is tempting me with).

Bean Republic, Corlett Drive

You know those places that every time you drive past, you think to yourself: “I really need to go there!” Bean Republic is one of those places. The facade out onto Corlett drive is all wooden, echoing the trend of coffee shops everywhere these days, with huge green signage beckoning you in. The colour scheme and decor are reminiscent of Cuba, but owner Edwin Ndlovu explained that his coffee is absolutely not “single origin”, but rather a collection of coffee, a big coffee Republic, where the best of the best coffee comes together to give you great coffee. Under the supervision of experienced and passionate Edwin himself of course.

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

There are quotes and satirical fictional headlines from newspapers all around the shop, so you really get the feel that you might be in some sort of republic after all

After years in the industry, Ndlovu finally decided he needed to branch out on his own and do the job better than the people around him, because why should customers receive anything less? Bean Republic has been open since November 2012. Edwin Ndlovu Despite the vibey exterior and his catchy enthusiasm, however, the coffee was a bit disappointing. The flavour wasn’t full or significant, leaving a slight taste of dirty water, as weak coffee tends to do. The interior also felt like it left much to be desired, with a greasy countertop and peeling menus. Apart from that let down, the interior was also a fun mix match of furniture which Ndlovu has developed a collection of over the past 20 years, since he started working towards his dream. Downstairs is a room that looks like it probably bustles with less mainstream entertainment, which Ndlovu has big plans for this year. Some of which includes wine and traditional food menus, poetry readings and other performances. Bean Republic Downstairs They didn’t have any cake when I was there, but their cake menu looked amazing. Ever had Hummingbird cake? I feel like I might just go back there to give it a try. Edwin was in the process of creating some pasta recipes to populate the menu, to accompany the rump steak and other main menu options. Their breakfast menu is also really extensive with a good range of recently repopularised recipes like frittatas and solid classics like French toast, all for a highly competitive price. This is important because lately all restaurants are charging so much for the most important meal of the day! It’s definitely worth giving a chance, even if it’s just to have a chat with Edwin. He says,

“For coffee to survive, tea must die”

While I’m quite a fan of tea (though my love for coffee hasn’t died either), his message has political undertones, which I encourage you to find more about when you pay him a visit.

Gingerbread Cookies

Merry Christmas and happy new year and merry Christmas again! South African Christmas is really not our typical. It’s generally a scorcher of a day, and if you’re lucky, you get a “White Christmas” in the form of a massive hailstorm at the end of the day. There’s no Christmas jumpers, but maybe you’ll wear red “Christmas” shorts or a tank top, because really anything more than that and you’ll melt like Frosty the snowman.

Gingerbread cookies 1

Pardon my sad excuse at trying to write “The Kendz” with some leftover dough… At the end of the day, at least my name tastes good!

 

That doesn’t mean we don’t get to enjoy some other Christmas traditions like overeating and innumerable desserts. This year I made a meringue roulade filled with whipped Chantilly cream and strawberries. I didn’t even know such beauty existed until I got asked to make one, and wow! Really, do yourself a favour!

2015/01/img_7343.jpg

Christmas is the perfect excuse to indulge in as much cooking and baking as you like, so I used the opportunity to make some Christmasy gingerbread biscuits for Mr Kendz’s mother. I initially wanted to use a recipe that didn’t use molasses or honey or those weird ingredients, but they absolutes sucked! So I had to give in, get some golden syrup, and it made the absolute world of difference to the cookies!

They are perfectly chewy and soft, a gorgeous golden colour. They are officially my new favourite biscuits… I tried to make a YouTube video of myself making them…

… But I got distracted and ended up eating them before I could make a complete video…

Last year I decided was my adventure year. I think I did pretty well: I started rock climbing, went on an overlanding expedition through Africa, and Mr Kendz’s and I went camping independently for the first time (and learnt what not to do on future trips). My goal for this year is creativity. I’ve already painted a pot for my coffee plant (check out my Instagram), and I got creative with some chalkboard paint I got as a stocking-filler. Big plans ahead for this year!!! And hopefully it’s also filled with more biscuits just as amazing as these babies.

Gingerbread cookies 2

Gingerbread cookies
Makes as many as you want it to (about 35 small cookies, or 20 gingerbread men)

Ingredients

  • 125g softened butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 125ml golden syrup
  • 1 egg
  • 375 plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Method

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together
  2. Add the egg and syrup and mix well
  3. Sift the spices and bicarb together with the flour and add to the wet mixture. Mix well until a well-incorporated dough has formed
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes
  5. Preheat oven to 170
  6. Roll out the dough to about 4mm thick (fairly thick, almost like shortcrust pastry) and cut into shapes using a cookie cutter
  7. Place cookies on a grease proof baking sheet/baking paper and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove when edges start to brown and let cool on a rack
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