Good Eats: Le Jardin de l’Inde

17 Oct

Welp, meant to post this two weeks ago….

I love Indian food. I’ve only been eating it for a few months now and didn’t realize how much I loved it until I ate it last night for dinner. Yes, it was Wednesday, which meant a good meal with my good friends!

Our journey to Le Jardin de l’Inde was an interesting one, to say the least. After meeting up after class, we got off at Chateau d’Eau metro stop on line 4. I had personally never ventured into the 10th arrondissement, but Bethy swore she read about the “best Indian food in Paris” located there. The neighborhood was what you might call sketchy. Real sketchy. So I grabbed onto my purse as we desperately searched for Pooja, the infamous restaurant.

We walked down le Passage Brady, which was a small alley off the main street, and saw signs for approximately 10 Indian places. Aha, we finally found the Pooja sign. But wait, it was closed. We thought we’d desperately knock on the door for a few minutes but it turned out to be a failure. Across the alley — approximately five feet away — was another Indian restaurant (go figure!) Since we were starving and had prepared our palette for scrumptious Indian cuisine, we decided to take a chance on Le Jardin de L’Inde.

 

The only "view" of the square I could find in my pictures...Pooja in the background.

Great decision. And what would be a Wednesday night dinner without some booze? We immediately asked for the drink menu. Tears formed behind our eyes when the waiter informed us that they didn’t serve alcohol. Thank the lord he followed up by suggesting we go to a supermarket and buy some, then bring it back.

Todd and I immediately jumped up to go buy some wine to quench our thirsts. Thank you, Le Jardin de l’Inde, because without your BYOB policy, we would have been broke last night. We ended up saving so much money considering each bottle of wine cost around three euros here. Let me just add that wine at this price in Paris is good wine, not the cheap-o kind that I buy back at Elon.

I ordered my favorite Indian dish, chicken tikka masala, a traditional mild curry. Like I said, Indian is somewhat of a new thing for me. I do, however, feel that I have all rights to say that my tikka masala was in fact, the best tikka masala that exists on Earth. Paired with delicious garlic and cheese naan bread and a vegetable samosa, it was the most exciting plate of food I’ve ever consumed.

My lovely plate of chicken tikka masala...

So there you go, another successful Wednesday night dinner. Even though we didn’t go to the “best Indian restaurant in Paris” I am confident to say we found the new one. We are going to try Pooja out in the near future to compare notes, but for now, I’m satisfied with our new spot.

I failed to mention that our Indian adventure was immediately followed by a delicious crepe from our favorite creperie at Odeon. Chocolate and coconut — the usual. NOMS.

I remember my first beer…

5 Oct

The long-awaited adventure to Munich, Germany finally came and sadly went…

On Thursday night, Bethy, Ashley, Sarah and I boarded the night train from Paris to Munich. We booked a couchette for the 11-hour overnight ride. I honestly had no expectations for what this sleeping arrangement would be like on the train. The first thing that came to mind was when Carrie and Samantha travel to L.A. via train in a Sex and the City episode. They were given a teeny-tiny sleeper car and had barely enough room to move.

Wellllll our couchette was even smaller. The overall excitement of taking a train across Europe made up for the five inches of space in our living quarters. We walked in to find two sides of bunks, each three beds high. We were greeted by three other travelers, who unfortunately didn’t seem too chatty. Our fantasy of drinking wine and chatting all night was quickly put to rest when we realized that we were bunking with some quiet types. We got the message when they all lay down to sleep circa 8:45 p.m. just as the train took off. Bethy still had her wine.

Bethy, Ashley and I in our couchette!

Our journey was interesting that night. After falling asleep to Ashlee Simpson (?!) songs on my iPod, I was immediately awoken by a fire alarm. I can’t decide what is worse — Ashlee Simpson lullabyes or a screeching fire alarm.

It turned out that one of our fellow train-mates tried to light up a cigarette on the ride, which set the alarm off. Once that was dealt with, the three of us endured a shaky and rather noisy sleep. I passed out under my wool blanket, but at times woke up feeling like I was on the Titanic hitting the iceberg.

My alarm went off at 7 a.m. and we collected our belongings. We immediately hopped off the train and headed to the hotel. Sarah and Bethy stayed at a camp-ground for the weekend while Ashley and I vouched for a hotel. We somehow managed to decipher the German metro system and arrived in the ‘burbs of Munich with ease. We had a reservation at the Holiday Inn Unterhaching, which prior to arriving, I figured was perfectly situated in the city. It turned out not to be the case. We got off the metro looking like two typical, lost American girls in a random countryside town in Germany. After hitching a ride, we finally checked in!

Holiday Inn Unterhaching

We met up with our friend Thomas, who is also studying abroad in Paris. He got to the hotel the night before, so we immediately went to find him. We had limited means of communication with the outside world while in Germany. My phone doesn’t work outside of Paris and we weren’t sure until we arrived if Ashley’s would. Sarah and Bethy managed to find their way to our neck of the German woods after settling into their tents. The five us then set off for what I’d been waiting for for five months… OKTOBERFEST.

*Side-note slash advice: don’t “pre-game” for Oktoberfest. If you aren’t familiar with the festival, the most important thing you should know is that you drink beer out of 1-liter stein mugs. I underestimated the power of these steins and decided it was appropriate to drink a bottle of wine before leaving for the festival. Yeah, not the best idea…

My first official stein of beer at the Hippodrom!

As we entered the festival, we were blown away by what we saw. There was a huge walking street with gigantic tents lining the way, tons of eating spots and ridiculous looking carnival rides. It was like a kid’s paradise, but with beer as the main attraction. We took a chance at the Hippodrom tent and somehow got ourselves in. This is a major feat at 11 a.m. because people start lining up at 7 a.m.!

The Hippodrom

But like I said, we weaseled our way into the tent and desperately searched for a table. What did we find? A table of three Swiss guys who had a lot of room to spare. It wasn’t a question if we could sit, they immediately said yes. When their friends came back from the bathroom 10 minutes later, it became a tight squeeze but nevertheless, a perfect way to spend our first day at Oktoberfest. After a few brews, we walked around and then headed back to the hotel for much needed sleep and food.

Cheers to our first day!

The next morning (Saturday), we woke up at 6 a.m. and were out the door by 7:30 a.m. We met up with the campers — Bethy, Sarah, Todd and Meg — and headed into the festival for round two. I luckily ran into some of my lovely sorority sisters at the hotel before we left. We all headed to the Hofbräuhaus, the most famous tent at the festival. Early in the day, we all kept losing then finding each other, but eventually stayed together to go to Löwenbräu, another tent, to cap off our day.

Our group at Löwenbräu

I honestly met more people from more places around the world than I can count this weekend. At every beer tent we ended up sitting with characters from Australia, Germany, Switzerland, England, and beyond! It was so fun to kick back and relax while drinking our big beers with new friends.

As for being a tourist, we didn’t have too much time to explore other parts of Munich. With our limited time visit, hotel in the boonies and constantly trying to meet up with every soul from Elon, there was no time to go sightseeing. I really wanted to explore more of Germany, but from what Oktoberfest showed me, I know I love the country.

The second we got on our train back to Paris on Sunday afternoon, we were all depressed about leaving. Munich was the perfect place to spend one of my weekends away while abroad. Today, especially, has been filled with nostalgia and longing for the place.

It is absolutely imperative that everyone go to Oktoberfest at least once before they die. Otherwise, you’ll be missing out on one of the most culturally-rich experiences that Europe has to offer.

The Scariest Meal of My Life.

4 Oct

Keep reading...

Last Wednesday, my family offered to cook me dinner since I would be missing our traditional Thursday night to go out of town. As I made my way upstairs to the kitchen, I couldn’t wait to see what mama de Moulins was serving for dinner. My mouth watered as I imagined all of the amazing dishes she had prepared so far, thinking in the back of my mind that it was impossible for her to go wrong.

Welp, I was wrong. She failed.

I was greeted at the table by a sliver of pâté on a plate…you know, “a mixture of ground meat and fat minced into spreadable paste?” (Wikipedia.) I decided to be bold and give it a try but had to hold myself back from vomiting at the table afterwards. Nasty. But I calmed down, thinking, “Ohhh no worries! She’ll bring out something in a minute that will make this pâté nightmare go away…”

Wrong again.

I looked up to find my lovely host mother serving something I’d never seen before. At first, I thought it was chocolate. Then quickly realized it was some sort of meat. Mystery meat for sure…The only problem? It was black. BLACK. I hate to be graphic, but it actually looked like cow dung on a plate. I froze a little bit. Probably turned a little pale too. I knew I couldn’t be rude and not give it a try…

Thankfully before putting one on my plate, Mme Moulin gave me a fair warning. She confronted my fear and said it was normal. She said that there was nothing remotely appetizing about the look of this dish but that it tasted great. I put my trust in her since the woman has a remarkable taste in food.

I took one. I immediately doused my black sausage with the warm apple compote that she placed on the table and recommended. The entire family watched me as I took my first bite. It turned out not to be that bad, but the look of it made me nauseous. The texture was that of apple sauce. No, I’m not kidding! And I don’t think meat is supposed to ever be the texture of apple sauce…

That sausage-like slab of something is called boudin noir. After venting to my friends the next day about my horrific meal, they decided to do some research. This is what my friend Todd found…

“Boudin noir is a dark-hued blood sausage, containing pork, pig blood, and other ingredients. Variants of the boudin noir occur in French, Belgian, Cajun and Catalan cuisine.” -Wikipedia

So basically I ate bloody pig penis. Love my life. Take a look:

Exactly what mine looked like...

Worst part about it? I joked at the end of dinner that I should have taken a picture of the boudins to show my parents. Mme Moulin replied, “Oh no worries! We’ll be having it again…” Great.

*Pictures courtesy of Google images.

Ina Garten, we love you.

26 Sep

If you’ve ever watched the Food Network, then you have probably watched Ina Garten whip up deliciousness on her show, Barefoot Contessa. Just when I thought I was her only fan, I met Taryn Johnson. My friend Taryn is not only a fan, she is more like an Ina wannabe/idolizer/groupie. She knows more about this chef than she probably knows about her own mother.

Until hearing about Taryn’s obsession, I was unaware that Ina owns an apartment in Paris. Even though she doesn’t have a restaurant here, she has mentioned in several magazine articles about her favorite spots to dine in the city. Taryn, Bethy and I bonded over our love for Ina so what do 3 American fans do while they’re here? Skip class and go find Ina’s treasures of course!

We ventured away from our normal neighborhoods in search of the Poilâne bakery for some pastries and bread. Ina loves this place so much that when she was apartment hunting in the city, she requested it be walking distance from the bakery. As we turned onto rue du Cherche Midi, Taryn’s face lit up like a little kid on Christmas morning. We reveled while walking through the neighborhood. Where does Ina live? Here? There? Oh, definitely over there!

Then we spotted the bakery (sigh…) Several people were congregated around the entrance and we stared into the window with amazement. I opted for a small apple tart, which was like nothing I’ve ever eaten in my life. The crust was so buttery and flaky, I downed that little baby in 0.5 seconds. Bethy chose a piece of wheat baguette that looked perfect and apparently tasted even better! And Taryn bought the same baguette and flan.

It was definitely the best way to spend our day off of class. I not only  recommend the bakery, but also walking along the neighborhood itself! It was beautiful and quieter than the rest of the city, filled with patisseries, boulangeries and restaurants galore!

Poilâne Bakery, 8 rue du Cherche-Midi, Paris 75006
Opening hours : From Monday to Saturday, 7:15 am to 8:15 pm

Good Eats: L’As du Falafel

26 Sep

Since my days in Paris revolve around food, I’ve decided to dedicate certain posts to special food finds. From the big time popular spots to the hidden gems I discover on my own, I want to keep track of these delicious and noteworthy places and inform future tourists about them!

First on the list? L’As du Fallafel.

What you'll look like when you eat at L'As... (poster inside the restaurant)

It’s no secret to locals and visitors that the go-to spot for fallafel is this popular Middle Eastern restaurant. Located in le Marais, you will easily spot it by its overwhelmingly long line. But have no fear, service is surprisingly quick when you get your fallafel to go (or emporter)  because they take your order while you wait!

I was a virgin to the infamous fallafel until this past Wednesday. I actually dined with my friends at L’As weeks before, but chose a curry chicken fallafel look alike and wannabe. This time I ordered the real deal. Stuffed inside a perfectly soft and grilled pita were yummy fried chickpea balls, hummus, red cabbage, cucumbers, and fried eggplant. I was also given the choice of adding a bit of kick to my fallafel with a delicious spicy sauce. Prepare to get messy!

I’m stealing this photo from a New York Times article I read so that you can witness the beauty of the most amazing fallafel in the world…

Mouth watering yet?

L’As du Fallafel, 34, rue des Rosiers, (Métro: St. Paul.) Closed Saturday.

And the Techno Parade madness continues…

26 Sep

Todd, Matt and I after hitting up the kegger...

Sarah and Todd loving life...

Erin and Bethy rockin' the sparkles...

Todd and a crazy man

Video to come soon…

Techno-palooza

25 Sep

Just one example of the antics at the Techno Parade...

After my favorite (and very expensive) blazer was stolen at a club on Friday night, I wasn’t too keen on waking up early to trek back out to the city the following morning for the infamous techno parade that my friends here have been talking about for weeks. It was supposed to start at 11am but was delayed until around 1:30 just in time for me to stop by!

Friday was the worst night of my life so far here. Saturday was the best day ever. Hundreds — maybe even thousands — of young Parisians danced down Boulevard St. Michel — the equivalent of Peachtree Street in Atlanta — all afternoon. DJs mixed techno beats atop floats while people swarmed the street dressed in crazy neon and sparkly outfits, complete with drink in hand. It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday in ole Parii…