• France
  • gyoza_003

    I love having a husband who enjoys food and loves trying out new restaurants.  While in Paris, one afternoon we went for a walk and ended up at this fabulous restaurant known for their gyoza, appropriately called the Gyoza Bar.

    If you don’t know what gyoza is, which I didn’t before going, gyoza are crescent-shaped pan-fried Japanese dumplings, and  in other words, potstickers.  When Dusty said we were going to place that was known for gyoza I thought that gyoza was one of their specialities.  I wasn’t expecting that this was the only thing they served.  I wish there were more place like this in Omaha, a place known for one thing, that serves that one thing to perfection.

    The restaurant is tucked away in the beautiful Passage Panorama.  The space was very small but zen (what I mean is that it didn’t seem cramped like you’d expect, it was very calm and relaxing).  The entire place includes counter seating for 12 around a bar that holds the very small kitchen (although there’s not much cooking going on since there are only three items on the menu).  We also saw people coming and going out a door in the back so I’m assuming there’s a small amount of setting in another room as well but not much.

    The three menu items include rice, sesame marinated bean sprouts and a choice of either 8 or 12 gyoza.  The dumplings are made with ground pork loin from a star butcher in Paris and everything is prepared fresh and in-house.  The dumplings are grilled to order in one of 4 cast-iron dumpling pans.

    I was so fascinated to watch them prepare the gyoza.  There’s a special pan that is oiled, then go in the dumplings, a little water is added, and the whole thing is sealed for less than 10 minutes. Out comes a perfect dumpling that’s crisp on one side and steamed on the other. And then there’s some delicious ponzu sauce that comes on the side for dipping.

    Dusty ordered 12 gyoza, I ordered 8 and we both ordered some rice.  We had a wonderful lunch and every time I see potstickers on a menu I think back to our delicious meal at the Gyoza Bar.

    gyoza_001gyoza_002

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  • pozetto_002

    Our trip this summer to Paris was all about food (really, aren’t all of our trips about food) but since I was pregnant, I made a special effort to try all the desserts and sweets I could.  So, on my bucket list was an ice cream shop I had heard about called Pozzetto.

    The most talked about and maybe most famous ice cream in Paris is Berthillon, but I I’ve already had their ice cream and needed to try something new.  Plus, Berthillon has delicious ice cream but it’s sold everywhere in Paris.  Pozzetto’s has just two locations in Paris and one of them was located very close to us in the Marais.

    I went there twice this summer and still dream about their gelato.  The first time we went, we stood in line and when we got to the window I ordered three flavors of ice cream in a huge cone.  Please remember I was pregnant, it was warm that day and we had been walking for hours, and on our way back to the apartment.  After ordering, the gentleman at the window mentioned something about two spoons and I looked at Dusty and said something like, “oh no, that’s just my order”.  And I ate it all!

    Something I found out that first time we went is that they don’t charge you by the scoop but rather by the cone or cup size.  They go ahead and fill it up with as many flavors as you want!  So, I’m not quite sure what their cone sizes are but I must have ordered a cone big enough that they thought I was sharing.

    I’ve only tried three flavors, Cafe’ Costadoro, Stracciatella and a third I can’t remember, but my favorite was the coffee flavored gelato.  I don’t drink coffee but this ice cream was so delicious.

    From what I’ve heard, all of Pozzetto’s gelatos and sorbets are prepared daily, focusing on top quality milk and the best seasonal ingredients.  There are only 12 flavors at a time, including seasonal classics and some creative parfums du mois.

    pozetto_001

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  • L’Avant Comptoir

    October 19, 2013

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    The other day I wrote about our beautiful dinner at Le Comptoir du Relais and mentioned that Chef Yves Camdeborde also has a little standing room only wine shop next door that serves small plates called L’Avant Comptoir.

    This was another spot we really wanted to try because of all the hype. We had walked by a time or two but were always on our way somewhere and we were a little fearful because when I say “standing room only” I really mean it.  I’m not quite sure how many people can actually fit in the place (there’s some debate as to how many people can fit) but in comparison to any spot in the US, the place is probably the same size as the hallway to the restroom in your favorite restaurant.  And there’s always a crowd.  But don’t let this scare you off, the food and wine were beyond words delicious and the atmosphere is great!

    L’Avant Comptoir can be described as a little piece of gastronomic delight that serves phenomenal small plates (our favorite thing to eat) as well as equally delicious wines. One late afternoon we were in the neighborhood and walking by noticed that there were only a few people in the place.  After a little hesitation we ventured in.  Thank goodness our first encounter was on this slow late afternoon because on most evenings getting the bartender’s/chef’s attention is for the fierce and mighty and for newbies an afternoon visit was perfect.  The staff was very pleasant and welcoming the afternoon we went.

    After settling up to the counter and carving ourselves out a spot we were given a wine list and told to look above our heads for the food menu.  Plastic menu cards hanging from the ceiling with pictures and a small chalkboard with a few additional special charcuteries told us all we needed to know for food.  There were also crepes being sold out the street-side window (which I want to try the next time we go).

    After checking out the menu cards as well as some of the small plates others around us were eating, we picked a handful, ordered and waited for our adventure to begin.

    On the counter there was a jar of delicious homemade pickles, a basket of bread and a plate of butter for all patrons to share.  Just a side note, something I love about Paris is the communal bread.  I know people will say how unsanitary this is but I really enjoy how it makes me feel like I’m at home and the person next to me is my friend.  Everyone’s sharing.

    Needless to say, everything we ordered was amazing!  It was so much more than I had expected from such a small place.  Each dish was sophisticated with complex tastes yet simple at the same time.

    The second time we went we ended up meeting up with some Omaha friends who were visiting Paris.  We were there during peak hours and it was a lot of fun.  Once you know how to wiggle your way up to the bar (or your husband knows how to do it), order and then find yourself a cozy spot somewhere you’re set!  I wasn’t drinking (pregnant, remember) but everyone else shared a bottle of wine and a few small plates.  We stood outside the door because there was no room inside and then became friends with the other patrons.

    I’m not sure what my favorite part is about this place, the number of people who squeeze into this phenomenal little place (something that would never happen in the States–the police wouldn’t let you), the unassuming but delicious food, or how you see both locals and tourists shoulder to shoulder drinking wine and enjoying each others company.  If I can offer one piece of advice, go during off-peak hours or be prepared to get to know the person next to you!

    l'avantcomptoir_002 l'avantcomptoir_003Tataki de thon (Seared tuna tataki)

    l'avantcomptoir_004Croquettes de jambon (Ham croquettes)

    l'avantcomptoir_005Carpaccio with parmesan and olive oil

    l'avantcomptoir_006Poitrine de porc caramelisee (Caramelised pork belly)

    l'avantcomptoir_007Lou regalet bearnais tomate-jambon (Bruschetta on toasted baguette topped with ham)

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  • Le Comptoir du Relais

    October 14, 2013

    Here’s another update from our summer food adventures in Paris.  There’s been a lot written about chef Yves Camdeborde and his bistro Le Comptoir du Relais as well as his little standing room only wine bar, L’Avant Comptoir (located next door).  Maybe these two places are so popular because chefs like Anthony Bourdain and Thomas Keller have raved about them.

    Just a little history, Yves Camdeborde left a three-star restaurant to open his own bistro, La Régalade (one of our favorite places to eat in Paris and in my opinion, has the best rice pudding), which he sold years ago to open Le Comptoir, meaning “counter”. Chef Camdeborde is known as the father of bistronomy, serving high-quality food in a casual bistro setting.

    To get a table at Le Comptoir de Relais you need to make reservations months in advance for a prix fixe dinner on weekdays, or wait in line for lunch or weekends when they serve their “brasserie menu”.  On one of our last nights in Paris we stood in line to get in (I won’t mention how long we waited because I’m a little embarrassed we waited so long but we didn’t have anything else going on and the food looked delicious).  And on a side note, there were two celebrities (BJ Novak from the Office and Ben Feldman, who’s currently on Mad Men). standing in line a few people ahead of us, and if they were waiting to get a table I felt like we could too.  For those wanting to go, I suggest getting there a little before noon or early in the evening to beat the crowd and ensure that you don’t have to wait long in line.

    So, after a very long and cold wait we sat at a very cozy table outside.  In our opinions, the food was delicious, service was great, and Le Comptoir du Relais lives up to all the hype.  It’s worth the wait, and if you’re not able to wait, make sure to stop by Chef Camdeborde’s L’Avant Comptoir next door.

    Le Comptoir de Relais_001Bisque de homard bleu Europeen froide ou chaude (Lobster bisque)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_002Evening Special – Some sort of farro risotto

    Le Comptoir de Relais_003Souris d’agneau braisee semoule et fruits secs (Braised lamb, white beans, dried fruit)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_004Thon rouge rôti <bleue> a la plancha legumes de saison (Seared tuna with seasonal grilled vegetables)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_005Riz au lait cremeux sauce caramel (Creamy rice pudding with caramel sauce)

    Le Comptoir de Relais_006Pot de creme ou caramel beurre sale (Pot of cream with salted caramel sauce )

    le comptoir relais

    This is the only picture I have of the restaurant, which Dusty took with his phone while we were waiting.  I wanted him to take a picture of the “famous” people I spotted in line and who we then proceeded to watch eat dinner.  As you can see, he only got a picture of the back/side of Ben Feldman and two seats to his right is BJ Novak but he was cut off.  That’s the best he could do without looking like he was purposely taking a picture.  They had several people stop them in line to get their picture taken with the duo but Dusty said I couldn’t ask.  We sat at a table on the left where you currently see a group of women are seated.

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  • Paris Market

    June 8, 2013

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    In Paris, every neighborhood has it’s own outdoor market.  Our neighborhood market just happens to be the largest in Paris and is held every Thursday 8am to 1:30pm and Sunday 8am to 2pm.  Of course, there are also more traditional grocery stores, the one we go to is called the Monoprix, but in my interpretation most Parisians purchase at least some of their weekly groceries at one of these outdoor markets.  Dusty and I go to the Marché Bastille every Thursday and Sunday to pick up food for the next few days.

    Our market has three aisles of vendors that stretch several blocks. There are over a hundred different sellers, displaying a range of items from fruits to fish to flowers to leather goods and scarves, and everything in between.

    Here are a few pictures I took of les fleurs (the flowers) they sell at the market.  The flowers are so beautiful that it makes me want to fill our entire apartment with them.

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  • Friends in Paris

    March 17, 2013

    We happened to know several friends that were going to be in Paris while we were there this summer.  A friend of Dusty’s from high school was in Paris for work and they were able to meet up for drinks one night.  A couple and their two children were stopping for a few days in Paris before heading to Dublin.

    And then a good friend of mine, Kate, wanted to plan a trip to Europe and thought us being in Paris would be a good excuse  to make it happen. Kate stayed with us for about a week and it was so great having her there because we could do touristy things while Dusty worked during the day. And we were able to take a small side trip to Brussels and Bruges. It was so much fun to have memories with our friends in Paris.  Here are just a few pictures of Kate and I around Paris.

    A co-worker from UNO moved to Germany recently and was traveling with her children to Paris so we were even able to meet up with them while they were

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  • Every year we get our pictures taken as a little momento to celebrate another year together.  Since we celebrated our anniversary in Europe I thought it might be fun to try and find a photographer in Paris.  I thought it would be extra special because we were celebrating our fifth anniversary and Dusty proposed in front of the Eiffel Tower.  I researched photographers in Paris who had our kind of style and also spoke English.  I searched for testimonials and contacted a few that I thought might be good.  We were lucky enough to find Pierre Torset.  A few weeks before our actual anniversary we met Pierre very early in the morning at the Eiffel Tower.  We took pictures at the Eiffel Tower, then went down to the Champ de Mars and finally hopped in a taxi to Pont des Arts and the Louvre.  He took absolutely beautiful pictures and wish I could share them all.  Here are just a few.

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  • Inside Our Paris Home {Part 2}

    November 21, 2012

    Now that you’ve seen the outside of our place and our view from the balcony here are a few pictures of the inside.  Of course, I decided that we needed to take pictures as we were rushing out the door very early in the morning to catch a plane for Italy.  So Dusty was kind enough to take a few pictures with his iPhone. Pictures include: (1) Left: View of the kitchen taken from the living room; Right: Picture of door is toilet and to the right behind the wall is the entrance (2) Living Room; To the right is the door to the bedroom (3) Close up of kitchen (4) Bedroom; To the right is the bathtub and sink (5) Left: Bathtub & sink in bedroom; Right: Lift.

    paris_apartment_001 paris_apartment_002 paris_apartment_003 paris_apartment_004 paris_apartment_005

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  • Our Home in Paris {Part 1}

    November 20, 2012

    I spent hours trying to find the perfect place in Paris that we could live in for five weeks.  What was nice is that we had an idea of what we needed and wanted because of our experience last summer in Lyon, France.  We were looking for a place that had some space and had good WIFI so Dusty could work from the apartment, that was conducive for cooking meals, that was in a decent location and close to the necessities, that had some type of second bed or couch for my friend to sleep on when she was visiting, and if possible, a good view.  I was also looking for a lift (elevator or didn’t have too many steps), we don’t mind walking up stairs but when you’re walking up six flights of winding stairs with two very large pieces of luggage and then walking up and down them in high heels on a regular basis, you’ll think twice about it.  And of course, I wanted a washing machine and dryer.  I didn’t want to have to go to a Laundromat every time I needed to do laundry.  We also preferred a place that didn’t have a lot of personal belongings and had space that we could really “move in” while we were there.

    I started looking for apartments on websites such as VRBO and ParisStay.com that had a great listing of vacation homes in Paris in January.  I also did a little searching on Airbnb and others but ended up finding a place using ParisStay.com. After finding some places I had to email the agency to see if they were available.  After several emails back letting us know apartments were available for the entire five weeks we needed it, we finally found one that met all of our needs. Then came the renters agreement, rental deposits, downpayment, and renters insurance.  Here are a few pictures of the outside of our apartment building and our view from the balconies. Pictures include: (1) Our place was on the top floor with two balconies off of the living room and bedroom (2) View of the Eiffel Tower (3) Left: Our door; Right: Close up of our view of the Eiffel Tower (4) Our view of Place de la Bastille (5) View of our balcony from inside.

    parisapartment_001 parisapartment_002 parisapartment_003 parisapartment_004 parisapartment_005

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  • Monet’s Garden

    August 4, 2012

    While we were in Paris this summer I took a day trip to Giverny to see Monet’s garden.  I took four years of french in high school and because of this I’m in love with French impressionists including Claude Monet and Edgar Degas.  Monet is famous for his waterlilies and his garden at Giverny.

    Above are two paintings by Monet of his garden and water lilies.  And below are some of the pictures I captured while mesmerized by the beautiful surroundings.

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