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  • lejardin_001

    We didn’t just go to Reims for champagne but also some good food. In Reims there is a group of restaurants of Chateau des Crayeres. The main Chateau is a two Michelin starred affair, classic and French. However, they also have a sister restaurant, Brasserie Le Jardin, nestled in the garden of the Chateau through the woods. It’s more down to earth and relaxed in style but the food is still amazing. We had a three-course meal and each tried something different. If I remember everything from a year ago, our first course included gazpacho, tartare and sardines. Our main course included duck fish, and fish. And then of course there was dessert! It was a gorgeous day so we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful view! The last picture is of the chateau, which was amazing as well.

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  • Reims-Day-Trip

    Reims, pronounced like “raans” is 45 minutes from Paris by high-speed train or about an hour and a half by car. Last summer Paris, in typical fashion, was having a train strike right at the same time we had made plans to take a day trip to the champagne region. We had already bought train tickets and made reservations to all kinds of fun places so we  were crossing our fingers for days that it would end before our trip but no such luck. The night before we were frantically searching the internet for rental cars. Dusty is amazing and some how navigated through the city of Paris with a rental car, picking Allison and I up at our front door, ready for our trip!

    We spent the day touring champagne houses (Mumm, Veuve Clicquot, Martel), eating a fabulous lunch, and visiting Reims cathedral. Reims is charming and the buildings look aged, but much of the town was destroyed in the World War I, with additional damage taken in World War II.

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    First, about the champagne! Only bubbly from this region can be called “champagne.” The rest is ‘sparkling wine.’ Champagne is made from the chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier grapes. The aging and bottling process is very unique and different then how wine is made. I was absolutely amazed! “Riddling” is a process to remove the yeast from the aging champagne. The bottle is placed at a 75 degree angle and must be turned an eighth of a turn each day. This forces the dead yeast into the neck of the bottle to form a plug, which is frozen and popped out through a process called “disgorging.” Here is a general overview of the Champagne tours and caves we visited.

    Mumm: Very informative tour about how champagne is made!
    Veuve Clicquot: Award for best tasting room and great story about the founding woman behind the empire!
    Martel: Best “bang for your buck”!

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    After we made our rounds to the champagne houses and stuffed our bellies at lunch, we went to the Reims Cathedral, which was absolutely magnificent. It’s over 800 years old! This cathedral is a great example of gothic architecture and is historically significant as the “Coronation Cathedral,” where most of the kings of France held their coronation ceremonies.

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    Tips: Ricks Steve’s France Guide does an excellent job of overviewing the region! His book helped with planning our champagne cave tours, touring Reims cathedral and getting around town. After our third tour, I was a bit tired of hearing how champagne was made so think about just going straight to the tasting room if you’re going for more than a day and visiting several different places.

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  • Paris Bucket List 2015

    June 3, 2015

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    We’ve arrived in Paris (two weeks ago!). Right after we arrived I put together a bucket list with Dusty’s help of the things we want to do while we’re here (and I’m finally posting it). Here they are in no particular order.

    Picnic on the bank of the Seine
    L’Aquarium de Paris
    Paris Food/Wine Tour
    Disneyland Paris
    Day trip to Loire Valley
    Éclairs from L’Atelier de l’Éclair
    Ménagerie du Jardin des plantes and Parc Zoologique de Paris
    Picasso Museum
    Cruise on the Seine or Canal Saint Martin
    Spend some time playing at all the amazing parks in Paris
    Get Annabelle a scooter
    Eat and/or have drinks at these restaurants (Pierre Sang Boyer, Le 6 Paul Bert or Bistrot Paul Bert, Le Cinq, Ellsworth, Frenchie to Go, Hero, Miznon, Heimat, Spring, Chez L’Ami Jean, Bones, Le Perchoir, Clamato, Le Mary Celeste Cocktail Bar)

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  • Paris Bucket List

    June 4, 2013

    Sacré Coeur de MontmartreSacré Coeur de Montmartre

    As you probably can tell, we’ve arrived in Paris.  I took this picture last week (during one of the few nice weather moments) while Allison and I were sightseeing.  We’ll be here for almost five weeks this summer (although more than a week has already passed) and I’ve put together a bucket list of the things I (and a few additions from Dusty) want to do while we’re here.  If you can tell, many of them are related to food, which is really no surprise.

    Lunch at Verjus
    Hot chocolate at Angelina
    Macarons at Carette in Place des Vosges
    Gelato at Pozzetto in the Marais
    Pizza at La Briciola
    Crepes at Breizh Cafe
    Eclairs at L’Éclair de Génie in the Marais
    Steak & frites at Le Relais de l’Entrecôte
    Dinner at Cafe Constant
    Dinner at Frenchie
    Dinner & drinks (for Dusty) at Frenchie Wine Bar
    Dinner at Les Cocottes
    Lunch at Septime
    French Open at Roland-Garros
    Walk the Paris Promenade
    Go for a picnic and lie on the grass at Place des Vosges
    Take a day trip outside of the city
    Go on a date night with Dusty at least once a week
    See the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at night
    Go to La Droguerie and Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche for yarn
    Traditional Paris sightseeing

    And then of course, there’s everything else I want/need to be doing that’s not necessarily Paris related.  Some of them include blog writing and making update to how our blog looks, photoshop class, working on my dissertation, knitting, exercising, preparing for the arrival of our bambino, and prepping for summer classes I’ll be teaching when we return home.

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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.

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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.

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  • Le Chateaubriand

    June 14, 2012

    Le Chateaubriand is one of the cool places to go if you’re a foodie in Paris, at least that’s what we’ve read and what some of our foodie friends say.  Dusty was able to get us reservations last night and the chef, Iñaki Aizpitarte, was did a superb job.  The word we came up with to describe the food was “interesting”.  Dinner was unique, even for a bid city where there are an abundant number of creative chefs.  They served a prix-fixe menu and we selected to have the wine pairings to match.  We had several amuse-bouches along with our courses, including two desserts.

    The staff was very friendly.  We were shown our menu and given an excellent description of each dish.  The dishes had an interesting combination of ingredients that somehow went well together.  There were a couple of times that we had no idea what something was, even after asking our waiter.  Our wine pairings, I do believe, made the dishes so much more.  They paired well with the dishes and were very much like the dishes, interesting.

    Dusty’s favorite dish was the green one. It was describe as “risotto of samphire”.  I had no idea what samphire was but Dusty did a little researching and found out that there are two different kinds, we had marsh samphire. Marsh samphire has “vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste”.  The dish was most definitely salty.  The green stuff on top tasted like seaweed but other than that, I have now idea what the green liquid was or how it was even made.  Many of the other dishes were much the same, we knew what one or two ingredients were but couldn’t tell you any more than that.  My favorite dish was the second dessert, which was a caramelized egg yolk on a cookie.  The cookie reminded me of a macaroon but when we tasted it alone it was almost like cotton candy, both in taste and texture.  You were supposed to eat it in one bit and it was amazing!

    Amuse-bouches

    top left: fish broth; top right: risotto of samphire; bottom left: cod, mushrooms & asparagus; bottom right: lady lamb 6 ways with a shredded white vegetable and mascarpone cheese (or something similar to it)

    top left: fluffy whipped marshmallow or cheese with berries; top right: caramelized egg yolk on cookie;
    bottom left: seeds on melon; bottom right: people standing in line when we left

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  • The French Open, also known as Roland Garros, is one of the major international tennis matches.  It’s held in Paris for two weeks at the end of May and beginning of June each year.  The stadium where the tournament is hosted is also called Roland Garros and is located in the southwest part of Paris.  I’m a novice to tennis, although I was on the tennis team in high school for one short season.  I’m pretty sure that I didn’t even know how to play tennis before I joined.  Dusty and I were lucky enough to get tickets from a friend of Dusty’s who works for ESPN and attend a few weekends ago.

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    I don’t think I realized how lucky we were until that evening when we were out for drinks and we started talking to some gentlemen from Czech Republic who were trying to figure out how to get tickets.

    It was super easy to get to Roland Garros using the Metro.  The gates opened at 10am and matches started at 11am.  We arrived early enough that we could get our bearings and figure out which courts we needed to be at and when.

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    I think just as much fun as watching the star athletes is watching the “ball boys” and yes, there were girls too. You can tell this must be a huge honor for the kids and they take their jobs very seriously.  There’s lots of unspoken communication between them to make sure the balls stay off the court and in the right place.  My other favorite part of the event was people watching.

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