February 13, 2016


best macarons in Paris

A little while back I started a new series on the blog called 'Macarons Vanille'. I started it because of Pierre Hermé and their strange reason to make the classic vanilla macaron a seasonal thing (or something. I still don't understand what the rules are for its return to the front and center of the display. It's so good... I wish I could get it all year long. So I started a search for the next best thing. This means going around Paris, tasting all the vanilla macarons in the city! I'm hardly finished, but it's definitely been loads of fun. 

Macarons vanille 02 - 1 Macarons vanille 02 - 2 Macarons vanille 02 - 3


Let's start with my first time at Carette. mmm fancy place for sure. Right in front of the gorgeous Place des Vosges, where I spend many afternoons in the summertime, reading or listening to music on the grass looking at the blue sky. I can't do that right now because the weather is shit. It's winter. But Carette is still there, and even if you can't sit on the grass, you can sit on the terrace or inside closed doors because Carette is also a fancy-ass restaurant and café. I always laugh at places like Carette with the €7 coca-cola and the €4,5 espresso... How do they get away with it!? I've never tried the food because I don't know if it's actually good and worth the price or if it's just overpriced. Possibly both. A chicken caesar salad doesn't have to cost more that than 20€ anywhere, I reckon.

But the macarons looked good and I was on a quest to find the almost-perfect vanilla macaron (anything half as good as Pierre Hermé will be amazing!) and Carette was on my list. So I went in. The macarons were 

Macarons vanille 02 - 4

Eric Kayser

At the Moose, I used to go get the bread at Eric Kayser every evening. There's nothing like the smell of freshly baked bread, I tell you... But then there were also pastries. So many pastries... I never bought anything though. Well, except this one time that I bought myself a vanilla macaron. You know, for research. 

The macaron was definitely good. See, I always wondered about boulangeries and their macarons. I only ever tried places that were KNOWN for their macarons, and was afraid that any old boulangerie might not have good macarons. But Eric Kayser's vanilla macaron was good.

If I were going to a dinner party, I probably wouldn't take a box of Eric Kayser macarons. As a gift your safest bet is to go with the big names, right? Pierre Hermé, Ladurée, Dalloyau... Then again, Ladurée are not high on my list (more of that later) but what can you do? They are the world-famous brand for macarons. Reputation means a lot in those situations.

Macarons vanille 02 - 5 Macarons vanille 02 - 6Damyel

I have had so many macarons in my life, I didn't think it was possible to screw one up. I thought maybe macarons were just always delicious. But I was wrong. Walking around Paris with some friends, I decided to finally stop in this cute little store in the Marais and try one of their vanilla macarons. I'd never heard of Damyel but I walk around that area so much, it was as good a time as any to try this patisserie. Unfortunately, this was not good. It was too sweet and had no vanilla flavor. It was bland and like eating pure sugar. 

However, I passed a Damyel store the other day and it said "chocolatier" under the name, and reading up on them, I see they are more known for their kosher chocolate. If you've ever tried them, let me know what you think! I hardly want to discourage people from going to this shop after one lousy macaron. I bet their chocolate – what they are known for – is much better.

So that's it for vanilla macarons this week. I shall continue trying them and letting you know what I find! If you find anything exceptional, let me know! I definitely want to try all of them.

February 11, 2016


valentina apple dress

Let's start this post with a happy, silly photo. My apple dress, which I've yet to find the occasion to wear. But it's good for this happy little post, ain't it now. I started to read Leo Babauta's article "31 perfect things" and felt I had to make my own list. Reading his made my brain click as I realized that so many things – little things – are perfect in my life and in everyone's lives; we need so little more. How useful to remind ourselves about what is simply wonderful in our lives. 

These are in no particular order, just things that come to mind as I write. 

1. my family
2. my close friends
3. cheese (especially goat cheese)
4. coffee, coffee, coffee
5. BOOKS! Reading!
6. music. Listening to it, playing it, creating it
7. dance. Salsa is in my blood, but I also love ballet 
8. working out
9. handwritten letters
10. art. Appreciating it, and doing it. I can't travel without my watercolors!
11. hugs hugs hugs
12. my new room in my new loft (and my wonderful housemates)
13. travel. Always
14. learning new things
15. mangos and coconuts!
16. eating something delicious but not over-indulging
17. our farm in Colombia
18. being totally captivated by what you're doing
19. fun & friendly dogs
20. sunlight coming through the windows & sunsets
21. cooking something nice
22. listening to podcasts
23. guitars (Martin & Gibson in my opinion)
24. realizing how little you need
25. giving things away to people who need them more
26. hard work & the satisfaction you get
27. gin (Hendrick's mostly)
28. laughing so hard your abs hurt
29. nature
30. seeing someone you miss

I can't tell you how grateful I am for #12. Moving into the loft has been one of the best experiences ever. Oh and #27? Well, yes. Gin had to be in there somewhere ;)
That's my list. What's yours?

January 27, 2016


Lunch Valentina D 1 Lunch Valentina D 2

how to eat more fish

Another round of food pictures. Most of these things I ate in Barcelona back in November... Every day it seems I ate some kind of fish. Not a bad deal, you know, since I'm a pescatarian. A salad with teriyaki salmon and asparagus, a salad with persimmon, tuna and dried cranberries, a delicious lemon-feta salad that takes me back to when I was a child in California, and that little round blob of purple (thanks iphone) is actually octopus – pulpo a la gallega – which is my favorite thing ever, really. Then the unmistakable patatas bravas with a gigantic plate of all the different tapas 'salads'. Finally lightly fried seafood at a great little place in Barcelona (the name escapes me).

Lunch 1 Valentina D Barcelona food 11 Barcelona food 7 Barcelona food 10

The other day, we had some defrosted salmon that we needed to use up before it went bad and I did my usual kitchen dance where I looked up a few recipes, wrote the main things down and then did something completely different. We live near a few amazing asian markets, so I keep going to the store and getting more kitchen staples. The other day I bought some lemongrass, chili, tamarind concentrate, red curry paste, coconut milk... I thought we had soy sauce but it seems we don't so I guess another trip to the asian store is in order (yay!!!). I left the salmon marinating and prepared a huge batch of thai peanut sauce. Full can of peanut butter, full can of coconut milk... oh man guys, it is so addictive and so damn delicious! I then cooked some veggies – courgette, onion and red pepper – to put on the side and served the salmon on a bed of lettuce. We used peanut sauce as the dressing. It turned out pretty great seeing as I had no idea what my next move was the whole time.

Yesterday we went to the very end of the market, around 2pm. All the vendors are packing up and just trying to get rid of everything they have. They'll sell crates of fruit for 50 cents or 1 euro. We got about 2 kilos of very, very, very ripe bananas (which is the best thing to use for my sugarless banana cake) for 50 cents. Peter got a box of tomatoes for 1 euro but then saw another vendor selling an even bigger box for the same and felt slightly cheated. It is a bit funny though to feel cheated at that time, seeing as the box probably would have been twice or three times the price a few hours earlier. Really, we were super lucky. For less than 8 euro, Peter and I went back to the loft with a box of apples, a box of tomatoes, two aubergines, two courgettes, a head of cauliflower, a head of broccoli, two kilos of bananas, a pear, two pomegranates, a box of red peppers and probably a couple things I'm forgetting. Ha! I love it. I can't wait to go again on friday. I'm definitely making loads of sugarless banana bread and apple compote and apple cake and smoothies – so many smoooothies!

What else can I do with my two kilos of bananas? ideas, guys? 

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