A couple weekends ago we ventured out to our local food & drink festival. It was fantastic! We were able to taste and sample many different local wines, beer and some delicious food. I can't wait to go back next year. It's nice to get out during this horrible winter we have been having lately although I feel like the Spring weather is just around the corner.
If you are a frequent reader of this blog, then you are aware of my love for all things Harry Potter. While visiting my best friend last Fall we purchased tickets for all four of us to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour just outside of London. To be honest, I don't even know where to begin with this post in describing the wonderful and amazing sets, costumes and props. It's a Harry Potter fan's dream come true. If you are ever traveling though or to London make sure you put it on your must see list.
As mentioned previously, I won a Context Paris walking tour as well as a baking class at La Cuisine Paris through the fantastic Parisian blog Lost In Cheeseland. The class we were scheduled to attend was Cafe Gourmand. If you are not familiar, Cafe Gourmand is commonly seen in the dessert menus of upscale French resturants. Cafe Gourmand is a bite sized selection of favorite French pastries and desserts. I was excited to attend this class as it allowed us to learn to make four different desserts rather than just one.
From the time we arrived to when we (sadly) left, everyone from the receptionist to our instructor Chef Diana was friendly and welcoming. The great thing about La Cuisine Paris is that all instruction is in English! For our class we made the following four items:
- Traditional mini vanilla Creme Brulee
- Pink praline tartelette
- Mini pear and vanilla compote
- Sable Diamant cookie
The class size was small which allowed everyone to get to know each other and for one-on-one interaction with Diana. The ingredients were already set-up and measured out which allowed us to concentrate on Diana's technique instruction for easier learning. The class structure also flowed well with time to allow pastries to bake while moving on to the next item.
I can't recommend La Cuisine Paris baking classes enough. It was an excellent way to immerse ourselves in Parisian cuisine while learning a few key recipes and techniques that I will continue to use at home. Our La Cuisine Paris baking class is something that I will always treasure and never forget. We are already talking about what class we will attend on our next trip to Paris.
Our trip to Paris this past Fall is easily one of our favorites to date. I enjoyed the area we stayed in as it wasn't too touristy but was within walking distance of all the major attractions. We stayed in the Marais, which is such a vibrant and interesting arrondissement. Below is a list of our favorite places that we discovered. Thanks to Lindsey of Lost In Cheeseland for the hotel recommendation. Hotel Jules & Jim's staff provided wonderful restaurant recommendations/reservations and the busy (but not full) bar was a welcome refuge after a long day of sightseeing.
Stay: Hotel Jules & Jim.
Eat: L'Aller Retour - I can't say enough good things about this place. It's currently my favorite from the trip.
Do: Context Paris Walking Tour - Best thing to do in Paris.
See: Rodin Museum. - Not as popular as the Louvre but we loved it. A great place to just sit amongst the beautiful sculptures and listen to the sounds of the city.
Eat: Blend - Gourmet hamburgers in Paris with a great selection of craft beer. Be still my heart!
See: Pantheon - An amazing piece of architecture that is often overlooked by most tourists.
Do: La Cuisine Paris - A wonderful and unique baking/cooking class experience. Their cooking classes are fun and easily navigated by even the most inexperienced cook/baker.
Sip: Loustic - A fantastic cafe. We ended up coming back here after meeting up with a friend. The coffee was SO good!
While preparing for our trip this past Fall to Europe there were a few sites that I consulted with regularly. One of them was Lost In Cheeseland. Lost In Cheeseland has been one of my favorite blogs for years and so I jumped at the chance to enter a contest offering a Context Walking Tour and a La Cuisine Paris cooking class. You can imagine my excitement when I received an email from Lindsey letting me know I had won!
The great thing about Context Walking Tours is that they offer a wide breadth and depth of tours throughout the world. I wanted to choose our Paris walking tour based on an area we hadn't visited and one that would be of most interest to us. I chose Montmartre.
We met our tour guide Marie on a grey afternoon in October. Marie made it a point to start the tour off with an overview of the area and when it was first established. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that my husband and I were the only people on the tour. Group sizes usually range from three to six people but I'm not going to lie a private tour was a great way to get one on one learning from Marie. Marie herself was extremely nice and an invaluable wealth of information. She was easy to talk to and encouraged us to ask questions. The use of an iPad allowed her to show us early paintings of the area and in some cases actually where we were standing hundreds of years ago!
We then proceeded to follow Marie along Montmartre's steep and winding streets learning about the impressionist painters who called it their home during the 20th century finally ending with Sacre Coeur. I can't really begin to put into words how much I loved this walking tour. My husband and I have decided that we will continue to book and plan Context walking tours on future trips to other cities. The information and insight that Marie provided was invaluable and the three hours flew by. I can't wait until our next tour with Context Travel.
Have you ever been on a walking tour?
We have been spending a lot of time in the Niagara region lately. I mean, what's not to love? Local wine, beer and spirits set amongst the beautiful backdrop of the countryside. I love checking out new up and coming business such as Dillon's Distillery. On Sunday November 17th, Dillon's hosted the very first Small Batch Burn in collaboration with several local businesses. It was a lot of fun drinking mulled cider and sampling some local food truck favorites. I can't wait until the next one!
Be sure to check out:
Be sure to check out:
- Dillon's Distillery
- Dine Alone Foods
- Niagara Oast House Brewers
- The Tide & Vine Oyster Company
- el Gastronomo Vagabundo