Champagne Lunch at Le Procope

Champagne Lunch at Le Procope

I went to Paris for a brief reunion with my God parents who had come over from the US. After a lovely walk along the Seine and a visit to Notre Dame, we decided to go for lunch at France and the World’s oldest restaurants, Le Procope.

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Opened in 1686, started as a café where gentlemen of fashion might drink the exotic beverage coffee, or eat a sorbet, served up in porcelain cups by waiters in exotic “Armenian” garb. In 1689 the Comédie française was established across the street and the Procope became known as the “theatrical” café, and remained so. The world’s first literary café was born and, for over two centuries, everyone with a name, or who hoped to have one, in the world of letters, arts and politics was a regular to the Café Le Procope. From La Fontaine to Voltaire, Rousseau, Beaumarchais, Balzac, Hugo, Verlaine to mention but a few, the list of Procope’s « regulars » varies little from that of the great names of French literature. In the 18th century, it was a seedbed for liberal ideas and the history of the Encyclopædia is intimately linked to that of Procope where Diderot, d’Alembert, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin could be seen. During the Revolution, Robespierre, Danton and Marat met here and Lieutenant Bonaparte left his hat here as a pledge.

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As soon as you walk in you get knocked for six by the history of this place and the close ties that it had with the leaders of the revolution, which changed the course of French Society. The walls are yellow with wall paper inscribed with the french revolution moto “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternity. Citoyens, Citoyennes (The male and female translation of Citizen) adorn the men and women’s toilet doors. Indeed during the Revolution, the Phrygian cap, soon to be the symbol of Liberty, was first displayed here. Crystal chandeliers and oval paintings of the Cafes most famous patrons adorn the walls, and walk passed open books written by some of France’s most famous writers who ate in the same place as you are now eating.

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 The service was great and it wasn’t only the setting in the heart of Paris that was great. The culinary feast which we ate was marvelous. We started off the meal with a glass of champagne with cassis. My godfather ordered house foie gras with toasted Panettone for starters and my Godmother and I had the traditional onion soup with gratinee cheese. It was probably the best soup I had ever eaten, with a massive tick layer of melted cheese which made up almost a third of the plate. Just fabulous. For the main course I chose the duck and had to order thin chips separately as no sides are included with the meat. My Godmother chose the steak tartar, which I must say isn’t for the faint hearted. Essentially raw mince with herbs and mustard, this is a very famous dish and it tasted surprisingly good. It was however quite rich. My Godfather had the Calf’s Head stew casserole 1686 style, which sounds disgusting but actually looked amazing. The whole experience was wonderful and a great thing to do if only in Paris for a short time.

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We went to a Musee de Cluny, an incredible museum dedicated to medieval art which is set in a 15th-century abbot’s mansion with ruins of ancient Roman baths.  I particularly liked the Lady and the Union, the modern title given to a series of six tapestries woven in Flanders of wool and silk, from designs drawn in Paris around 1500. They were so rich in color, incredibly large and beautiful in detail. It is no wonder it is considered the best piece of art from the Middle Ages.

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5* Hotel De L’Europe – Amsterdam

5* Hotel De L’Europe – Amsterdam

On our tour we stayed at a number of places: Zeewolde, Den Hague, Rotterdam. After having played and lost quite a few tournaments around Holland, our group decided it was time to go for a few days to Amsterdam. We took a train and arrived at Central Station. The plan was that the girls would wait with all the bags, whilst the guys went off in search of a cheap hotel or hostel close to the center. After more than hour my friends returned. The bad news was that all the hotels were fully booked. The good news was that a 5* Hotel a short taxi ride away still had some rooms available.

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Hotel De L’Europe loomed up ahead. This is the one place where sneaking an extra guest for free into your room will be impossible. We were going to have to book two rooms and it was going to be expensive.The porter opened the door for us in a green tail coat, top hat and white gloves. It was really grand and the reception desk spanned the whole crescent of the beautiful entrance hall.

De L’Europe is acknowledged as Amsterdam’s legendary hotel and is a member of The Leading Hotels of the World for over 25 years. With its location on the banks of the Amstel River in the heart of historic Amsterdam, it’s impossible to escape the city’s rich history while staying at this iconic 19th century treasure. Expect timeless design, intimate ambience and genuine service.

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The rooms were very beautiful. I particularly liked the yellow and white striped walls and the beds were extremely comfortable. De L’Europe boasts a distinctive décor, enhancing each room and suite with a replicated Dutch Master painting, handpicked in exclusive partnership with the nearby Rijksmuseum. Choose for gracious and timeless elegance in the historic Rondeel Building or for art and design in the contemporary Dutch Masters Wing.The room service breakfasts were amazing, with lashings of scrambled egg, bacon, juice and fruit served in silver dishes. The pictures below show our group in one of the rooms before heading out.

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De L’Europe is a hub of haute cuisine, boasting a selection of the city’s finest restaurants overseen by Executive Chef Richard van Oostenbrugge. Bord’Eau has redefined Amsterdam’s fine dining scene. Hoofdstad Brasserie is perfect for a sophisticated yet casual riverside bite. With its plush interior, Freddy’s remains the city’s iconic bar, while Hèt Terras offers a contemporary take on café classics, and the city’s most authentic Afternoon Tea is served in the Promenade.

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The location of Europe de l’Europe was wonderful and the staff so friendly. I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for the ultimate luxurious stay in the heart of Holland’s most vibrant city.

Harrods, La Duree and a perfect day out in Knightsbridge

Harrods, La Duree and a perfect day out in Knightsbridge

London is beautiful and, if you know where to go and who to go with, you will experience the best of the best. Today, we decided to spend the afternoon in Knightsbridge, one of the poshest and most expensive areas of London. Close to Hyde Park, the Albert Memorial and the Diana Memorial, this is the perfect place to see fast cars and designer hand bags.

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Our first stop was to Harrods. This has got to be the world’s most incredible and beautiful shopping center in the world. Men in green tail coats and top hats open the doors to a world only seen in fairy tales, the only place in the world where you will have to queue up to pay at the Louis Vuitton Store.

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Even if you do not intend to spend lots of money on all their designer clothes, perfumes and jewellery, it is definitely worth a visit. My favorite part has got to be the food court. Tourists and locals alike throng through the narrow ills looking longingly at all the marvelous creations which is on offer. Chocolates, the world’s most expensive cakes, pastries, marzipan fruits, macaroons. The assistants wear white hats and stand behind their individual counters. Each morsel of goodness has clearly been specifically loved, made and chosen. Another room and some more wonders. Rows of Spanish cured hams and sea food restaurants. Lobsters and champagne. The ceilings are ornate and the wealth is opulent. This is food porn at its very best.

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After buying a lovely bag, my boyfriend and I went for lunch at Cafe de Paris, a little french bistro close to the back of the gigantic hall. Not wanting to end the day just yet, we went back to La Duree where we had coffee and macaroons in a sumptuous decorated room.

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After a bit more shopping, we set off for Zuma for some drinks. I would highly recommend their rose and lycee cocktails. It was so full, the atmosphere was amazing. We managed to get a seat by the bar and so we sipped our drinks whilst watching the incredible pace to which the bar staff worked.

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Finally, on to Baku Bistro for some top notch Azerbeijan cuisine with live DJ and fruit hooka outside on their front patio. The cesar salad was the best I have ever had and the champagne was to die for. The best day out in London by a mile 😉

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Experimental Cocktail Club

Experimental Cocktail Club

Walk passed its anonymous small black door once, twice, three times. Invisible to the naked eye, this place is secret and it looks like people want to keep it this way. Charm the sturdy Frenchman guarding this gateway and walk through into a beautifully arranged, expensively decorated Brooklyn Prohibition style cocktail club. Sumptuous and well lit, all that is missing is the thick cigar smoke and the jazz musicians. The immaculately turned out bar tenders know their stuff, and you can choose your favorites or pick  from a short list of sophisticated, strong and complex drinks. Quite expensive, all drinks come with an original twist. It can get really busy, but the atmosphere is usually great! Here are some photos of when my friends and I went here for a couple of drinks the other day 🙂

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We had a great time and a perfect place to have a drink if you are ever out in China Town. Will definately be going back soon 🙂image

WEARING

ZARA TROUSERS

ZARA TOP

DKNY JACKET

E-JEWELLERY-BOUTIQUE PENDANT

ACCESSORIZE RING

ALDO STUDDED BOOTS

 

My night with Miss Roma

My night with Miss Roma

So here are some pics of my more recent trip to Rome.  I spent the evening with my friend Sonia, who not only officially the most beautiful woman in Rome but also most likely the nicest person too! I met her in Plaza di Popolo, where we had super (pasta of course) and then walked to the Fontana Di Trevi where we had some of the city’s best ice cream, then to the Pantheon and the Colosseum.

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Thank you Sonia for a lovely evening 🙂

Rice, Oranges and Whale Bones

Rice, Oranges and Whale Bones

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Old bones lie, it would seem, washed ashore by the sea. A graveyard, carcasses picked clean and now bleached by the sun. Smooth and sharp they criss-cross into infinity. A whale struggles and breaks free jumping into the air from the little water  which remains, crystal clear, dangerously blue. Perhaps the fish found themselves stuck here that time when the river overflowed. Many died, so channels were diverted. Trees now grow, people run and children play on a giant man, where water once gushed and cooled the city’s banks. Yes, this is how these creatures came to be here, I am sure.

The sea is close, sometimes I think they can smell it. But the plains between the graveyard and the water are dry. There is no return for these poor creatures now. Passed the port and out of the city, we travel along the sea front.

Behind us is the earth, where the farmers toil and the trees grow ripe with fruit.

All I see now is water, on both sides. The lake to the right and the sea to the left. Little boats and reeds. A girl wears a traditional costume. Further on we go. Here there are fields, but they are not dry, not these ones. These ones are are flooded. Must we walk on water? Little white triangles appear on the horizon. It feels like I have traveled to the end of Valencia, to the end of the world. Passed the Cathedral and the ancient fish, the fields and even over the sea itself.

We have found it, and what humble beginnings for such a source of fame. When the men cooked in the open air of their orchards near lake Albufera, could they of known? That it would be you, la Paella, you, who would end up conquering the world?

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La Paella – an Unchained Melody

La Paella – an Unchained Melody

We found a splendid little oasis of calm called La Paella located at the Hostal Valencia, between Clles Lamparilla and Obrapia in Old Havana. We had walked quite some time from the crafts market down to the Cathedral Plaza and this was a great place to relax, cool off and recharge.

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The restaurant’s design is typically Andalusian. The interior is dark and sombre.But at the heart, a beautiful courtyard flourishes with vines and plants and color.

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An architectural Heathcliff.

The food was very good, really quite authentic but slightly meager in the chicken/ vegetable to rice ratio. However, the rice was very well cooked, sticky and not hard. In all the meal tasted great.

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The Cuban trio came round and serenaded us.  I must say that these were best ones that we encountered in Cuba and boy we met a few. The lead singer had an incredibly delicate voice and we loved it so much that we had to request a CD.The whole atmosphere was great and we smiled when we heard a large group sing along to a wonderful rendition of Unchained Melody.

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Dinning in the Colonial Era -Sol Ananda

Dinning in the Colonial Era -Sol Ananda

Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, conqueror of Cuba, founded Trinidad exactly 500 years ago, in 1514. The city is a living museum piece. Not only is it older than almost every building in Paris but this World Heritage Site is one of the world’s best preserved colonial cities.

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Sol Ananda is one of Trinidad’s many good restaurants. It is set in a house which looks onto the Plaza Mayor that was bought by an architect, re-done and transformed back into what it would have looked like a hundred years ago, when Trinidad was a very affluent area thanks to its blossoming sugar industry.

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All the furniture is antique. Tables are set amongst bedrooms, with ornately decorated beds, wardrobes and rocking chairs. A real old Cello is propped up and is used by locals who play at the restaurant museum in the evening.The concept is clever, dinning tables are interspersed amongst these old heirlooms, so there is ample opportunity to really feast upon the items. I felt that it was a much more enjoyable way to contemplate and admire these great pieces of craftsmanship than by glancing quickly at them whilst walking through a museum gallery.

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We ate off antique plates with antique silver cutlery from an old colonial ship

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The food is pricy for Cuba, like normal London prices, but the menu offers a variety of India, Caribbean, Mexican and Spanish food. This is what we had for lunch, but I would highly recommend the lobster which I had on our last dinner in Trinidad.

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For our final dinner in Trinidad we up to the restaurant’s roof terrace. The sky was alight with color as the sun set. Stone angels became shadows against the fiery sky. DSC_0425

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