From your Parisian

Sharing my newest discoveries as I float through the streets of Paris. Restaurants, bars, events, all reviewed for you with love, from your Parisian.


Leave a comment

Travel Fun: A quick trip to the Greek island of Kefalonia.

I love Greece and truly believe that it is the best place to spend your summer holidays (I’ve spent 4 summers in Greece, on different islands)! Why? Because there are beautiful beaches, the food is amazing and affordable, and the people are friendly and relaxed. As I just got back from a 5-day trip to Kefalonia, and I have never written about my holidays in Greece on the blog before, I thought now is the time to write a review of the island before my slight tan fades away completely. By sharing some pictures and tips I hope that you will see why I love this place so much and maybe inspire you to visit this wonderful island on your next holiday!kefalonia_private beach_greeceFirst off: the basics! You can reach Kefalonia by boat (from Kyllini or Patras on the mainland) or by plane. One thing that rather annoyed me is that there are no direct flights from Paris to Kefalonia, which might be why there are so few French (and so many British and Italian) tourists on the island. Last year we arrived at the end of August/beginning of September and had to fly to Athens where we then took a short flight to Kefalonia. This year, while checking the various possibilities (this was a very last minute trip), I found that a flight from London or Bristol in the U.K. was way cheaper than flying from Paris and that it was also direct, so my bf and I spent a few days in England visiting my Aunt then came to Greece with Easyjet.

In general, it is best to book way ahead of time if you’re planning to travel during the summer months. If you can, travel in June or September as the island will be less crowded, it will be less hot (in August the temperature can be close to 40 degrees), and travel/accommodation will be cheaper.

Another important point: RENT A CAR! Although there is a bus service that runs on the island, I cannot imagine having to wait in the sweltering heat for a bus and not having the freedom to explore the island on my own timetable. Also, there are certain roads that are too narrow for buses and therefore you will miss out on potential discoveries. I recommend Ionian Cars, as the guys were great and were willing to meet us at the airport when we arrived, even though it was very late at night.

As this was our second time to the island and it was for only a short visit, we decided to stay in Lassi, which is a small town in the South of the island near the capital of Argostoli and close to the airport. We were here last year with friends and found it to be the ideal central base for exploring the island. Although there are many hotels full of British/Italian tourists and the restaurants along the main road of this town are nothing special, there are hidden beaches and cute tavernas to be found if you are up for a little adventure. Alternatively, if you plan to really explore the entire island, Agia Effimia is also a good base (we stayed here several days last year) as it is located further North, so closer to Assos or Fiskardo.

For basic rooms in Lassi for around 100 Euros/night for 2 people, I would recommend either Simatos Apartments (no sea views but super friendly staff) or Sunshine Resort (at a higher elevation so great sea views from balcony, but quite a hike up a big hill if you don’t have a car).

With that said, here are my list of things you must do when in Kefalonia:

1) Visit the gorgeous town of Assos: The drive to get there might have been a little stressful, as we swerved along mountainous roads, braked as we crossed several goats sitting directly in our path (they don’t give a *@&!), and descended again following a zigzag road composed of a series of sharp hairpin turns (luckily I have a bf who’s a fearless driver), BUT Assos is worth so it! Once you have made it back to sea level you can walk around the adorable town full of colorful little houses surrounded by flowers, eat in one of the several cute restaurants along the bay, and chill at a little beach where you can swim and think to yourself “am I dreaming?”. From the car park you can also hike up to the ruins of Assos Castle, situated on a 170 m high rocky hill. It is free to visit and offers magnificent views (see picture below).Assos_Kefalonia_travel2) Take a picture at the famous Myrtos beach: while the experience of being on the beach itself wasn’t so spectacular (you are quickly out of depth and currents can be strong, there is no shade, parking can be tricky, and there are lots of wasps), the view from the road above that takes you down to the beach is too breathtaking not to visit. I mean, this is the beach featured on almost every postcard of Kefalonia, so it would be a shame not to see it in person. myrtos beach_kefalonia_greece3) Be a tourist in Melissani cave: I admit that once I saw the tour buses parked outside I wanted to run away, but this cave is still worth a visit as I’ve never seen anything like it before. A lake located in a cave, where a large opening lets the sunlight stream in. You walk down a dark (and refreshingly cool) tunnel into the cave and wait for a little rowboat to take you on a 15 minute tour of the cave. Entry costs 7 Euros/person, which I admit is expensive for a 15 minute trip around the lake, but I’m still happy I saw it. Just wish it wasn’t so full of people, as it kills the magic a little.melissani cave_kefalonia_greece4) Follow the path that leads to Pessada beach: This beach requires a little hike down some steps, followed by a short walk over some spiky rocks (tip: buy a pair of those ugly but very useful water shoes, you will thank me later), but you eventually arrive to the sheltered little cove with soft white sand. It is very popular in the summer and can often be very crowded. In September there were relatively few people but this year, in the height of August, there wasn’t room to lay a flip-flop, so we clambered over some other rocks, walked a little, and then descended onto a rocky plateau where we were completely alone. That’s how we do! Snorkelers will love this beach as it is full of fish and the water is crystal clear! pessada beach_kefalonia_greece5) Walk in the golden sand of Xi or Megas Lakkos beach: These beaches are located on the Pali peninsula, right across from Argostoli (ferries run from the capital to Lixouri to shorten the driving time), and will impress you with their beautiful stretches of golden red sand. It definitely gives you a change from the mainly pebble beaches on most of the island and you can easily rent sunbeds and umbrellas if you want some additional comfort. The water is relatively calm and shallow so these are good beaches for kids too.megas lakkos beach_Kefalonia_Beach6) Take a ferry to the magical island of Ithaca: technically this is not a thing to to do IN Kefalonia, but if you have the time to visit the home of Odysseus (for all you Greek mythology buffs) then I highly recommend it. We stayed here only 2 days but I would have loved to have explored even longer as this island is very authentic, with less tourists, and a truly natural, untouched beauty. It is easily accessible by a ferry that leaves from the town of Sami (about a 40 minute trip across). Random fact: Some scenes from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin were filmed in Sami! The main town of Vathy is charming and you can observe the small fishing boats and groups of Greek fisherman who sit together chatting in the tavernas along the waterfront throughout the day. Drive up North and you will have magnificent views of the sea (and of Kefalonia in the distance) and maybe even discover some magical, secluded beaches! Just be prepared that the roads are narrow and sometimes not well paved. boat in vathy_ithaca_greeceNow, to the most important part of any holiday…FOOD!!!

My top 5 restaurants in the South of Kefalonia:

Kamaroules Stamatelatos Τavernaki (Καμαρούλες Σταματελάτος Ταβερνάκι): My favourite place to eat brunch/lunch (they don’t open before noon)! Imagine your own Greek garden, located above a small, rock covered beach, with wooden tables set out among the olive and pine trees. You have the sound of the cicadas chirping, cute little cats lounging in the shade, and a calming view of the sea to enjoy while sipping on your freddo cappuccino. And the food: fresh and delicious! Try the most amazing Greek salad I’ve ever had in my life (with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers, olives, capers, and a huge piece of feta cheese mixed with a soft local Kefalonian cheese) with a plate of strapatsada (eggs, scrambled with tomatoes and feta cheese) or a chicken souvlaki plate before heading to the beach.Kamaroules Stamatelatos Τavernaki_Kefalonia_GreecePalia Plaka (Η Παλιά Πλάκα): Located along the waterfront of Argostoli (but at the far end where there are less people), this cafeteria-style restaurant serves up traditional Greek dishes that you can view before ordering as they are displayed inside. They even have fresh fish (I had the perfectly cooked sea bream). Honestly, in my opinion, this is the best place to try homemade Greek dishes such as Kefalonian pie (meat, rice and cheese cooked in pastry), stuffed tomatoes, or pastitsio (pasta dish with ground beef and bechamel sauce) while being surrounded by the locals of the island. They even give you a free dessert!palia plaka_kefalonia_greeceIl Borgo: Located on higher ground, right next door to the ruined Castle of Saint George, this restaurant has beautiful views of Kefalonia and even of the island of Zante in the distance. They serve many traditional Greek dishes, like lamb kleftiko (lamb chop cooked with potatoes, tomatoes and feta), or if you need a break from Greek food (don’t know why you would…but no judgment!) they offer various other choices such as pancakes with maple syrup, steak and eggs, and club sandwiches. Only downside: this place is very popular with tourists visiting the castle.il borgo_kefalonia_greeceGENTILINI Winery & Vineyards: This isn’t a restaurant but this winery sells bottles of wine that you can take back to your apartment to enjoy in the evening with some fresh Greek produce from the market (we did this a lot). I highly recommend their white Robola wine! They also offer wine tastings (3 wines for 5 Euros) that come with a plate of Graviera cheese, cherry tomatoes, bread, herbs, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.kefalonia wine and cheeseSto Psito: Another restaurant with a beautiful view, this restaurant is a little more pricey and fancy than the majority of restaurants in Lassi. The food is decent with Greek and Kefalonian specialties available in addition to various grilled meats and pastas. They even have roast piglet on the spit on weekends! The highlight of this restaurant is the view and the ambiance of being surrounded by Greeks and tourists alike while melancholic Greek music wafts around like the breeze coming from the sea. Make sure to reserve here, as it is very popular at night.Sto psito_kefalonia_greeceThere you go! I could go on forever about all the things I love about this island (don’t forget Antisamos beach), but I’ll leave it at that for now. Although you don’t see much of the typical white and blue buildings that you see in the Cyclades and many of the towns are relatively modern (Argostoli for example was rebuilt after a devastating earthquake in 1953), Kefalonia is really vibrant and has shockingly beautiful natural scenery that will definitely win you over. That is of course if you are up for the adventure! And don’t worry: people who like the resort holidays and crowded beaches with music and water sports will also enjoy this island as there are plenty of those (e.g. Makris Gialos Beach). Argostoli_Kefalonia_GreeceLastly, if you wan’t to know where on the island that beautiful, pristine beach at the beginning of this blog post is located (see first picture)…ask me! I’ll give you the directions! Just be prepared to potentially share it with this one nudist. We saw him two years in a row and he’s not ready to give up his secluded spot!

P.S. If you have any other questions about travelling to Greece, don’t hesitate to send me a message! καλημέρα! 😉


Leave a comment

Paris Restaurant Review: Canard & Champagne

The days are slowly getting shorter and colder here in Paris. On the positive side, this gives me the excuse to seek out restaurants serving warm and filling comfort food all over the city (it’s official: bikini body, bye bye)!Canard & Champagne is one of those restaurants, as it mixes deliciously prepared duck with champagne (a pretty awesome combo in my opinion) and is located in a beautiful covered passage (Passage des Panoramas) away from the cold. The exterior of the restaurant is truly gorgeous: its wooden facade carved with intricate designs gives you the impression that and you are in the presence of something from another era and very unique.canardchampagne_paris_exteriorThe decor inside is a mix of classy meets modern meets fun, as one of the walls is covered entirely with a huge black and white still from the movie Le Grand Restaurant, starring Louis de Funès (the much loved French actor). This wall matches perfectly with the geometric patterned tiled floor as well as the cute waiters, dressed in their white shirts and black bow ties, that glide effortlessly from one side of the room to the other as soon as you look in their direction (yes, they are very attentive). canardchampagne_paris_interiorAfter looking at the menu, our group of four all decided to take the 2 course meal with a glass of champagne for 32 Euros. If you want two glasses of bubbly the menu rises to 42 Euros, a little pricey, but as we all know its an expensive beverage (26 Euros without any drinks)! Next you have to select one of the two entrees: duck foie gras or duck terrine. Although I am not a fan of foie gras (*gasp*, I know! I’m a freak of nature here in France), I was pleasantly surprised by its rich and delicate taste and actually enjoyed this French delicacy, spread on top of a piece of crisp toast with a touch of apple chutney. canardchampagne_paris_menuThis light starter was followed by a perfectly cooked magret duck, pink in the middle and incredibly juicy. My knife cut into the tender duck breast like butter! Three sides are offered to accompany your duck: fries, seasonal vegetables or the seasonal purée…and here’s the best part: they are endless! So I started with a sweet potato purée, followed by a bowl of fries and finished off with a side of carrots, cauliflower and zucchini (to be healthy, of course). As the sides are served in rather small bowls, and therefore equally small portions, we had fun calling the waiters over to fetch us another helping throughout dinner! In case you’re wondering, one of my friends tried the confit duck and said that it was equally tasty.canardchampagne_paris_magret-duckUnfortunately, after overdosing on all of the side dishes, we didn’t have any room for dessert but the choices looked pretty tempting (such as profiteroles drizzled in chocolate or a dreamy lemon tart). I suppose I should talk about the champagne we had, which was also very good, and made for the restaurant by JM Séléque. I don’t know much about champagne but it was fruity and refreshing, with just enough bubbles to make me happy! I should also quickly mention the bathrooms (no…I’m not weird) that I found to be rather quirky; their walls were chalkboards covered in chalk-written messages and drawings of ducks. A little more tasteful then the usual words you read scribbled on public bathroom stalls! I left a little drawing of my own, washed my hands, then went back upstairs to join my friends who were paying the bill.canardchampagne_paris_passage-de-panoramasWhat more can I say? This place was a hit! Maybe not the best choice for vegetarians, but if you have friends visiting from out of town then this elegant but relaxed restaurant in Passage des Panoramas (thought to be the oldest covered passage in Paris) is sure to please. They also serve a yummy looking brunch on weekends, and Parisians: they deliver! 😉

Restaurant Details:

57 Passage des Panoramas

75002, Paris

+33 (0)9 81 83 95 69

http://frenchparadox.paris/fr/

Rating:

4 hot ducks out of 5!

 

 


10 Comments

Restaurant Review: Puce – Bar à Grignoter

There are lots of places to eat in SoPi (South Pigalle neighborhood of Paris), but not all of them have the charm that you will find at Puce – Bar à Grignoter. The word puce is often used as a pet name in French, which roughly translates as “sweetheart” or “honey” in English. It’s therefore a fairly appropriate name for this restaurant, which I can best describe as cute and classy. The benches are covered in pastel colored cushions with striped, floral and polka dot motifs, the food is served on vintage porcelain plates and the sleek bar is adorned with a mix of enchanting lampshades hanging from above.puce_paris_cute tablepuce_paris_interiorI went here with my friend K on a week night as we were looking for a place where we could get a drink and some share plates…neither of us was very hungry (I had eaten a huge chicken kebab for lunch)! We sat down in the cozy room, were greeted by the friendly owner and took a look at the menu. Drinks include a good variety of wines as well as non-alcoholic beverages and a random Japanese beer. As for the food, everything on the menu is incredibly tempting and prices range from 5.50-12 Euros. They are small portions, but they are meant to share, so depending on your appetite (and budget) you can choose as many or as few as you like to go along with a glass of wine, such as a Chardonnay « Patchwork » 2013, Tissot (my choice at 6,5 Euros). puce_food menu_parisWe settled on the chips and guacamole (served in a traditional molcajete), a cheese plate (that I admit was a little small), a lentil and feta salad and a creamy 4 cheese macaroni! The guacamole was amazing and full of fresh cilantro, just how I like it, and the macaroni was oozing with cheese and topped with a light sprinkling of breadcrumbs! While we only had 4 dishes between us, we ended up feeling full, as what we ate was rich and satisfying. At the table next to us I saw a plate of grilled pork ribs go by and later a slice of raspberry cheesecake, so I am convinced that everything they serve here must be really good!puce_paris-chips and guacamolepuce_paris_foodpuce_paris-macaroniNow that I have praised the food, I will mention a few drawbacks. Firstly, they played constant instrumental jazz music…which is not at all something I enjoy, but luckily it was only in the bathroom where I really heard it loudly. I guess it did go with the overall upscale feel of the place and there are many people that actually like this type of music…so I won’t judge. Close by, there was a table of bourgeois women enjoying their evening of discussing their partners and their new handbags, which got me thinking that Puce is mainly a really great place for a girl’s night out. Or a date night. I mean the decor is girly and the portions are small so it should appeal to people wanting to chat and drink while snacking on a light meal. I don’t, however, see a group of hungry guys (or hungry girls) ever choosing this restaurant…unless they’re loaded, in which case I’d be tempted to order the entire menu! Those slight criticisms aside, I have to admit that Puce is delightful, chic and a good choice for those of you who prefer quality over quantity. puce_paris_exterior

Restaurant Details:

1 Rue Chaptal
75009 Paris

3.5 pretty, floral plates out of 5

 


Leave a comment

Restaurant Review: Come a Casa

Yesterday was a beautiful and sunny day in Paris, but after the sun had set I had the chance (or the desire) to stay in and write about Come a Casa, a cute little Italian restaurant in Paris that whisks you away to the warmth of Tuscany…if only for a few hours! My friend C raved about this place last summer, so since then I have been dying to give it a try!

come a casa_paris_tableLocated in a quiet street in the 11th arrondissement near Voltaire métro station, you are immediately drawn to this restaurant by the words Come a Casa (which, if I’m not mistaken translates to “like at home”) written in cursive on a bright green facade.

come a casa_paris_exteriorInside, you will find a very small and quaint room (reservations are recommended as seating is limited to about 20 people or so) that reminds you of a rustic farmhouse with an exposed stone wall, a pale green barn-style door concealing the bathroom, a large and well-stocked wine rack made from wooden crates and a tiny kitchen, clearly visible behind a counter cluttered with colorful vintage earthenware plates. Your Italian hosts for the evening are Flavia and Gianluca and together they have really created a cozy environment where you can sit back and enjoy some homemade Italian cuisine.

come a casa_paris_interior

come a casa_paris_kitchenWe were shown to our seats at a small table against the wall and immediately started browsing through the short but sweet menu. In regards to food, the choices are simple with only 3 main courses offered each day: an eggplant gratin, lasagna of the day, and a daily special. There is, of course, a more than adequate selection of appetizers, desserts and drinks (lots of great Italian wine!) to accompany your main course.

come a casa_paris_menuWe ordered a bottle of Italian red wine (I can’t remember what it was, as I have a terrible memory…especially after drinking, but it was around 30 Euros) recommended by Gianluca and to start, a plate of Chianti marinated beef carpaccio on a bed of arugula and grilled vegetables (zucchini, mushrooms and extremely juicy cherry tomatoes!) topped with shavings of Parmesan (16 Euros). The fine slithers of beef were divine and mixed perfectly with the vegetables that glistened with olive oil.

come a casa_paris_saladThen came our main dishes: porcini mushroom and provolone cheese lasagna (15 Euros) and the special of the day, which was ricotta, radish and asparagus ravioli combined with chopped asparagus and bresaola and mixed with a radish infused olive oil (16 Euros). My lasagna was delicious and not at all heavy like traditional meat lasagnas as it was filled instead with mushrooms, carrots and zucchini and topped with fresh basil. I tried a bite of ravioli which had a definite kick from the radishes, something that I had never tasted in a pasta dish before and found to be very refreshing. Both meals were extremely satisfying due to the expertly combined ingredients and the perfect portion sizes. We sat there chatting after our meal, trying not to be distracted by our neighbors, who we were almost brushing shoulders with (as I mentioned before, there’s not much space, but you soon adjust to this familial feel), as jazz music played lightly over the hushed conversations.

come a casa_paris_lasagna

come a casa_paris_ravioliGianluca returned to ask us if we wanted dessert and of course the answer was YES, as my friend C had said the tiramisu (8 Euros) was beyond awesome! I now have a confession to make: I’ve actually been here twice: the first time with my friend V and the second with the bf, which is why I didn’t specify at the beginning of this post. I know…I’m sneaky like that! Anyways, the first time I came with V we ordered a tiramisu and we were kind of disappointed as the mascarpone cream was too light and frothy and reminded me of egg whites. This time, however, it was how it should be: velvety, rich mascarpone cream mixed with coffee and alcohol soaked lady fingers and covered with a blanket of cocoa powder. I was happy to be able to report to V the next day that it was terrific the second time around, and we agreed that everyone has the right to an off-night!

come a casa_paris_tiramisu

Upon leaving I was already thinking about what I’d like to order next time, which is a positive sign, IMHO. So next time you’re in the mood for some creative and delectable Italian food, drop by Come a Casa, where there’s always something good cooking in this humble but homey kitchen!

come a casa_paris_cover menu

Restaurant Details:

7 Rue Pache, 75011 Paris

+33 (0)1 77 15 08 19

http://comeacasa7.tumblr.com/

My Rating:

4 glasses of Chianti out of 5


3 Comments

Paris Restaurant Review: Luz Verde

Luz Verde has only been open for about a month but this place has already got quite a following and is the talk of the town amongst the trendy Parisian crowd…so obviously I had to check it out! As these places get packed around 8pm I called up a friend and suggested we meet after work at 7:30pm, to be sure to get a seat. As expected, the place was fairly empty and we managed to pick a spot next to the window, decorated with Mexican skulls and some peppers and avocados from the kitchen.

luz verde_window_paris

luz verde_exterior window

My first impression was very positive: the stone walls blended well with the wooden tables and the long bar, lit with hanging lights that were sheltered with basket-like shades. It was dimly lit inside, but warm at the same time. I also noted that they were playing Raphael Saadiq’s “The way I see it” album, which made me instantly appreciate the place even more (it’s a great CD, FYI). We took a look at the drink menu and saw a list of various French wines and beers (5-6 Euros). I asked the friendly guy at the bar if they had other drinks available (because I had heard they have cocktails), and he informed me that on Saturday they have guest barmen come in and prepare various cocktails but in the week they only offer a frozen margarita (10 Euros). Wanting to do the whole Mexican thing, we chose the margarita, which was fine but came out of a slushy machine and was nothing special, if I’m being completely honest.

luz verde_bar_paris

luz verde_menu_carte

On to the menu: we decided to share 4 dishes between us (as we are both on a budget), thinking it would be enough and forgetting that in these hip places the portions are always itty bitty! We ordered quesadillas, filled with refried beans and cheese (and that I could have eaten in one bite; 5 Euros for 2), chicken tacos (2 corn flour tortillas filled with spicy chicken, red peppers, corn and onions; 6 Euros),  vegetarian tacos (which were super original, with shredded carrot and cabbage in lime juice and topped with ricotta cheese and peanuts; 5 euros) and finally the ceviche (11 Euros), presented as a colorful and artistic display of thickly sliced bonito fish (a mackerel-like fish apparently, I had to Google it!) with radish, grapefruit, cucumber balls, pomegranate seeds and shredded beetroot. Super delicious!!!! We suddenly wished that we didn’t have to share, but I guess it made us savor each bite even more!

luz verde_chicken_tacos

 

luz verde_vegetarian_tacos

My friend saved the day by noticing a small brown sack on the table that was hidden from my view and that was full of bread. We hungrily ate each slice, wiping up the last bit of vinaigrette from the ceviche and wishing that some sort of fairy grub-mother could come in, wave her magic wand and make more of their tasty dishes appear on our plates. Long story short, we were left wanting more.

luz verde_ceviche

By this time the place was packed with well-dressed people (and others curiously peering in from the outside) and we had managed to rake up a bill of 47 Euros. So we paid the waiter, who happened to be the Australian cousin of one of the owners and was super nice, and left the buzzing restaurant to step outside into the cold Parisian streets.

luz_verde_interior

What I learned was this: if I come here again, which I’d like to (as I would love to try all of their dishes), I would not get the margarita, and instead go for a glass of wine and another order of tacos…maybe the lamb or pork ones…*drools*! I noticed they had a 1.3 kg prime rib on the menu, to share, with potatoes and salad, so I’m sure that this dish would be good too. I’ll know for next time! Overall I enjoyed my evening at Luz Verde and think it’s a great place to meet up with friends for relaxed drinks and some light eats.

Restaurant Details:

24 Rue Henry Monnier, 75009 Paris (yes, it’s right next to Buvette!)

+33 (0)1 74 64 29 04

https://www.facebook.com/luzverdeparis

My Rating:

4 tiny but delicious tacos out of 5!