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Europe, Food, France, Paris

Eating My Way Through Paris

June 29, 2015

I was hoping to write about all the great restaurants that I ate at in Paris. Unfortunately, each place only really did well in some areas and failed in others. So instead, I am going to tell you what food I did and didn’t like.

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First off they seem to do smoked salmon really well. Not that I had ever had it before! It never looked appealing to me. However, I accidentally ordered it on my first night in Paris at my hotel.  The picture above is what I got and it was amazing! If it hadn’t been so expensive, I would have ordered another! This was on a bed of some kind of soft bread with a chive cream cheese spread between.  It literally melted in my mouth. I am now hooked on smoked salmon.

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Meat! They love it! I hardly saw chicken on the menu. While I enjoy meat, I don’t like to eat it very often. I found this to be a huge challenge. One night, I sat down and ordered the plat du jour, which is usually the chef’s choice. Little did I know I was getting veal! I usually don’t eat veal. However, it was too late. It was okay. The best part about it was the bed of cous cous it was sitting on and the olives. As you can see it looked great! IMG_2784

Another night of meat! Although it was started off with another round of smoked salmon on top of a cabbage salad. I was on a tour for a part of my trip and the menu was set at this place, otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered meat.  Since there was no menu, I don’t know much about this except that it is marinated for hours in wine. Might have been beef bourguignon. This was better than the veal. The meat was really tender. I did not enjoy the fact that the meat was served with all the fat still attached. I kept having to eat around it. Overall, I enjoyed this meal!

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Of course, wine! The French are known for their wine. This one pictured, Tradition by Les Vignerons de Buzet, was really great and not too expensive. It was suggested by our tour guide and was only 14€. It was smooth and not too strong of a red. We didn’t know it at the time, but the winery uses no chemical fertilizers on their vines. All the French wine I tried was great. I really got to like Cotes du Rhone region wine the best. Even the cheap bottles were good!

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This was by far the best thing I ate, although it wasn’t in Paris. It was in Giverny. The restaurant called it a Summer Freshness in Feta Cheese Salad. One layer was tomatoes, spices and sauce and the next layer was feta cheese with chives. I am really not sure what the pink stuff was on top and it didn’t have much flavor. May have just been for looks.  The taste was indescribable, but exactly as described as it was light and refreshing! I wanted them to bring me more, but I knew I had two more courses coming.

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Fish is what I kept ordering in place of meat. I was disappointed twice and stopped ordering it. The fish was usually flavorless and the sides were also plain. The fish above looked so good, but had no taste and was really expensive! The night I had the Summer Freshness salad, I had ordered salmon and it was also very plain. I would say cooked fish is not something they do well in France. Stick to the smoked salmon!

IMG_2817One afternoon I passed by a Mexican food restaurant and I thought, as a Texan, it is my duty to try it. Had to be better than what we have in Doha. The menu had very authentic things on it like enchiladas and tacos. There were a few people inside, so it couldn’t be that bad. They brought chips and salsa which was a good sign. The salsa tasted homemade. I ordered the pork taco. Instead of several small tacos, I got one large taco. The pork was almost bbq pork, but it tasted really good. However, the taco was too big to pick up and eat. The star of the dish was the peach “salsa” they served on the side. It was more like a salad though. It was peaches, jalapenos, cilantro and spices mixed together. Another thing I wanted more of, in fact, I saved it to finish after the taco.

IMG_2832Sometimes after over a week of rich food, you just want something normal to you to eat. I googled my way to a cheeseburger. While it wasn’t bad, it was served on an English muffin! The fries were actually pretty good too.  I had also decided I didn’t want to pay 20€ for a burger, so I found my way to a chain that was decked out American Diner style with pink and blue chairs and booths with oldies playing in the background.  It didn’t matter cause it hit the spot.

A few tips about eating out in Paris. Ask for tap water or a carafe or they might bring you expensive bottled water. Coffee is cheaper ordered at the bar of a restaurant and drunk standing up. You will have to ask for the check, as the French are never rushed to eat a meal! Bon appetit!

Food, Ireland

The Food of Ireland

December 2, 2014

Food of Ireland

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One of the most shocking things for me about Ireland, was the food.  I am not a foodie. I do enjoy good food, but I don’t plan vacations around food. I do try to use Urban Spoon or Yelp to help me find good food.  What I didn’t expect to find was the amazing food in Ireland.  Above is a boxty. The boxty is the pancake looking thing.  In this case it was a sage boxty served with pulled pork! This Texan living in a mostly pork free country was impressed.  It is a different flavor of pulled pork but very good especially when wrapped up by the sage boxty.  It was also very filling.  This was from a place called Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar. I was actually sad it was my last night in Dublin because I would have like to go back and had a different type.

I was looking for a traditional Irish breakfast place on Yelp when I discovered the Queen of Tarts. I didn’t get the traditional Irish breakfast I was looking for, but that was ok.  I ordered a delicious scone and eggs.  Granted it was way too much food for one person, but I needed to try it all.  I ate slow and went for a very long walk afterwards.

Food of Ireland

The one thing that I wished now that I had taken a picture of was the fish and chips I had in Tramore.  It was a whole fish on a bed of french fries. We Americans are doing it wrong. Fish isn’t fish sticks with french fries. It is a whole greasy fish served on thick french fries, which I have determined is where the term chips comes from.

In Dublin, my friend took me to this place called 101 Talbot. I had a special, so I can’t remember what it was called.  It was a chicken dish. It was excellent and the portions were large!

Next time I find excellent food, I promise to take more pictures!

Europe, Food, Istanbul, Museums, Travel

Beautiful Istanbul!

July 7, 2014

Beautiful IstanbulBeautiful Istanbul! Where to begin?!?  There is so much to see in Istanbul, and my friend Kate, and I were there for a short time. We stayed in a very centrally located hotel, which enabled us to see everything we wanted to see in a short time.  The Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the Arasta Bazaar, the Mosaic Museum and the Basilica Cistern were all less than a five-minute walk.  The Grand Bazaar and the Topkapi Palace were about 10 minutes away.  I highly recommend getting the Muze, the museum pass.  The price when we went in June was 85 Turkish Lira, which was about $43 at the time.  This gets you in for free for three days, and you get to skip the lines. You can get into the Hagia Sophia, the Topkapi Palace, and the Harem, the Mosaic Museum, the Archaeological Museums, the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts, and the Museum of Science and Technology in Islam.  We did all of these except for the last two.  I see tons of Islamic Arts in Qatar and Kate had just been to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha as well.  Since the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia are so beautiful, I will just post some pictures and not talk about them.  Just remember that you must be dressed appropriately to get in, this applies to men and women.  Women must have their heads, knees and shoulders covered and men should have their shoulders and knees covered.  They will give you a shawl if you need one.  You will also have to remove your shoes, and I would make sure you have socks with you because it is carpeted inside and seemed damp and slightly gross to walk around on carpet that hundreds of people walk on each day!

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Beautiful Istanbul

Beautiful Istanbul

Beautiful Istanbul

So in past blog posts, I have talked about briefly about where I have stayed, but I liked this hotel so much I am going to review it here.  We stayed at the Sura Hagia Sophia Hotel.  Like I said early, it was centrally located to most of the Sultanahmet area attractions.  The hotel was beautiful.  The room we stayed in was at the end of the hall and was larger than the other rooms I snuck a peak at during the daily cleaning of the rooms.  The beds were fluffy and very comfortable.  The bathroom wasn’t large, but it didn’t bother me.  That was mostly because the shower was to die for! It was huge, and it had a rainfall shower head as well as a regular shower head. It is also the most beautiful shower I have ever seen.  The Turkish tile in the shower was amazing! (see below) The cool thing was that the walls of the bathroom inside and out were mirrored so I could get ready in the room while Kate was in the bathroom.  The buffet breakfast was great!  European buffet breakfasts at hotels are 100x better than American buffet breakfasts.  They even had watermelon!  The only catch to the hotel is that it probably caters to Muslims as there was no bar and no mini bar. It didn’t bother me because it meant there were no drunk people coming home at 2 am!  Here are some pictures of the hotel and the room. If you need more hotel recommendations, Traveling King has some great Istanbul hotel ideas!

Beautiful IstanbulBeautiful Istanbul

Beautiful Istanbul

Beautiful IstanbulBeautiful Istanbul

Since there was no bar in our hotel, we decided to find a bar close to the hotel.  The travel guide I brought suggested the Hotel Nomade rooftop bar.  It had a wonderful view of the Blue Mosque from the roof.  And it was a minute down the road from our hotel.  We were there for the call to prayer, and it was an unforgettable experience. Both nights we spoke with fellow travelers, which is one of my favorite things to do. The beer was cheap, and the food was great.  We went two nights in a row and both nights I had the Chicken with Pineapple (there was a Turkish name for it, but I don’t remember it!).  There were figs in this dish, and I usually don’t like figs, but it was probably the best chicken dish I have ever had in my life.  Here is a picture of the view!

Beautiful Istanbul

Looking for more Istanbul ideas, here is a great 3 Day Itinerary. Have you been to Istanbul? What were your favorite places?

Food, Qatar

You know you’re an expat when

August 21, 2013

You know you’re an expat when you get excited about American food on the grocery store shelf.  Almost since the day I arrived, I have been looking for canned black beans. I checked several places.  Most people told me they don’t exist here and that I would have to find a bag and cook them myself. Of course, I didn’t even see dried black beans!  The other piece of this is that everyone kept telling me about this grocery store called Megamart and that they have lots of American and British food.  Last Thursday, I headed to Megamart with a co-worker.  Megamart is heaven to an American grocery shopper!  I found the canned black beans! Plus a ton of other goodies!  Some of it I assumed I wouldn’t get again until I returned to the US, particularly Velveeta and my favorite butter, Brummel and Brown.  Here is some of my haul:

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