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We came, we ate, we went home happy

Growing up, prowling the pasar malam at least once a week for food was pretty much a given. Cheap yet delicious street food easily attracted the throng, and at some stalls, show up late and you can forget about tasting their goods. I miss the hustle and bustle of food preparation by the street, the perfection achieved by stall owners who have run their business for (often) decades. I also often chide my younger self for taking such wonderful thing for granted.

Le Food Market

Le Food Market

With the advent of globalisation, food truck and street food have arrived in Paris, although often with a price tag that had me mentally calculating how much more food I could buy at the same value and I’m not even taking into account currency exchange – just the figure! On the other hand, the joy that I get from reliving my childhood habit is kinda priceless, so who cares if I’m not one of the cool kids and I pay a wee bit more? Luckily, Le Food Market came along.

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Festa dos Tabuleiros

Every four years, the town of Tomar honours the Holy Spirit. Every four years, for about six months before the Festa dos Tabuleiros (aka Festival of the Trays), households were busy making flowers and leaves from crêpe paper. Every four years, expectant tray bearers put their names onto a list and hope to be a chosen ones. Every four years, the streets are lavishly decorated and there is a certain zing in the air.

Festa dos Tabuleiros

Festa dos Tabuleiros

During each festival, parades are organised where the locals are paired up, age-appropriately, and the girls/ladies carry the tabuleiros on their heads. Typically, for adults, the tabuleiros are approximately the height of the bearer! Built using stacked breads decorated with paper flowers, leaves and oats, often topped with crown and dove or crown with holy cross, the tabuleiros are not very heavy per se but there are certainly some training needed to balance the trays against the elements. (We spotted many who practiced walking with their trays around town, usually in the evening when it was cooler.)

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A taste of Singapore, in Paris

Something caught my eye when I clicked through this week’s Paris event listing. Did it say there’s a small Singaporean street food market at the Berges de Seine for a few days? I immediately forwarded the article to Wee Ling and managed to persuade F that we should check it out. He agreed. *Happy dance*

Saveurs de Singapour

Saveurs de Singapour

I arrived just ahead of my meeting time with F, so I scoped around to see what’s there. A tent from which you get your food vouchers from – purchase strictly by cash so find an ATM beforehand! – followed by a few tents where food were served from, and a large tent as “main kitchen” I guess. And I spotted signs reading “satay”, “chicken rice”, “bak kut teh”, “Indian mee goreng” and “bandung/chendol”. Starting to get hungry!

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Four years and a semi marathon

Semi Paris 2015

I woke up yesterday morning with thousands of butterflies in my stomach. What was I thinking when I signed up for the semi marathon of Paris? Me, the fair-weather jogger who had just indulged in two weeks of holiday diet and last ran exactly four weeks to the day, never mind the fact that I’ve never yet completed a distance further than 12-13K, top! I nearly crawled right back into bed and stayed under the cosy duvet with my Kindle.

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Niki de Saint Phalle

We made a last ditch effort to catch the exhibition of Niki de Saint Phalle at the Grand Palais today. My colleague S saw it recently and absolutely loved it. I don’t know anything about Saint Phalle, except some of her sculptures are permanently installed by the Centre Pompidou and her style of work is so distinctive that I immediately recognised it when I saw “La Tempérance” in Luxembourg City.

(Note to self: I should write about Luxembourg City one of these days, as this blog contains only two measly P365 posts about it.)

Niki de St Phalle

Niki de St Phalle

I had expected to see more of her characteristic colourful and bountiful figures, and I ended up getting to know a lot more about the artist – sculptor, painter, filmmaker; the sources of inspiration – albeit painful ones in some cases – of her works; and some very personal story brought forth to the surface. I learned that art was “a way of taming those dragons which have always appeared in [her] work” and she wanted “to show everything; [her] heart, [her] emotions”.

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La Chasse aux Trésors de Paris 2014

How time flies. It felt like yesterday when we went treasure hunting for the lost love of Erasme, but here we are, set for another adventure. Keen, as usual, to explore different neighbourhoods, we took up the inter-arrondissements challenge that started from the Mairie of the 13th. We even reinforced the team with two new treasure hunters!

It seems Erasme had somehow lost his true love, again. Seriously, how often can a man be so careless? Once careless, forgiveable; twice, starting to be a bit ho-hum; thrice? He’d better had a good reason for it! This time though, he’s convinced his love is trapped in the written world, and as it was “raining books” overnight, the clues are hidden in the pages scattered about town. Allons-y!

Treasure hunt 2014

Treasure hunt 2014

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Wine and cheese tasting evening

As a newbie, I had much to learn at work. It is not unusual to see me still typing away or poring over documents at my desk when most of my colleagues leave for the day. I miss wandering the streets of Paris leisurely on my way home, since I’m cutting it pretty close nowadays to be back in time to prepare dinner. Well, a girl (and her partner) has got to eat, you know.

When I received an invitation from Imogen of Native Native a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would like to participate in a wine and cheese tasting evening that she was organising, my inner foodie wiggled a happy dance. “Oh yes, please!” (My inner busy bee did nag a little…)

Cheese tasting evening

Cheese tasting evening

Native Native aims to bring expat bloggers together for tailored events that introduce what’s new and innovative in France. For its June blogger event, it had partnered up with Les Nouveaux Fromagers and took us to the gorgeous tasting room of Ô-Chateau. F was just that bit envious when I told him about this tasting evening. I love cheeses and (certain) wines, but he’s an even bigger fan of these (proof: he’s 100% French) than me!

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Cook’n with Class

Thanks to a recent-ish Easter egg hunt over at Savoir Faire Paris, I won a spot on Cook’n with Class French desserts session. I duly made my way to Montmartre one Saturday afternoon, met three other fellow bakers (of which one was a fellow countryman – talk about a small world!) and started working under the guidance of Chef Pino, a wiry Italian with a passion for food, of course.

Cook'n with Class

Cook'n with Class

In the gleaming kitchen, we went through the work plan for the afternoon. In a short few hours, we were going to make five different classic French desserts – moelleux au chocolat, strawberry and chocolate roulade, crème brûlée, (reconstructed) tarte au citron and choux puffs – and in the order they were listed, due to some refrigeration time needed for some of these. Most of the ingredients were already weighed out and prepared ahead of the class, so we were able to efficiently churn out one dessert after another.

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Recently, at the Grand Palais

We are terrible at keeping up with exhibitions. Never mind that we have annual passes that allow us to visit on multiple occasions throughout the period of the exhibitions. Instead, we typically wait till a good portion of the periods is over, then either rushed through them or risked missing them altogether. Currently, in the Grand Palais, two exhibitions are taking place: both started in early May, with one ending in about a week and another in 3 weeks. Armed with our Carte Sésame, we headed over one evening this week.

Exhibition at Grand Palais

The installation of Monumenta this year is by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Russian-born artists, who brought us “The Strange City”. Indeed it is a peculiar one, for even by the main entryway, a large probe-like installation beamed changing colours amidst strange music, if you can call it that. And scattered in a few other “rooms”, there are wood carvings of flying angels and weird city layouts. Neither F nor I know what to make of these.

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Observing Paris from La Grande Roue

Or, how to mend a spirit challenged by the darker side of life.

Friday morning started out extremely windy – Anne lost her skylight window in the process! – and somewhat wet, but by late morning, the clouds had been swiftly blown away too, leaving clear blue sky that made me yearned to be out and about. The unfortunate incident from the previous day still weighed me down a little, so the want of fresh air became even more urgent.

F indulged me on my whim and off we went to Parc Georges Brassens for a most delicious bo bun, bahn mi and an Asian version of creamed rice dessert from the Camion BOL. We followed it up first with a visit to Grand Palais for Depardon’s exhibition, then taking a turn at La Grande Roue on Place de la Concorde. Cue: more vantage photos of Paris!

La Grande Roue

La Grande Roue

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It sparkles at Cartier

Hurrah, I finally got round to getting my Grand Palais Sésame 2013/2014 pass! The first exhibition I saw with my all-access pass was that of Cartier, slated to run until 16 February 2014 in the Salon d’Honneur.

I am not one who’s particularly interested in sparkly and expensive jewellery, but still curious enough to want to see what makes others gasp with joy given the beauty of gems and precious metals set into decorative items, both wearable and non-wearable. It is also always interesting to learn the role that Cartier plays in the history of decorative arts, and to take a brief look into the creative process behind some of the exhibited pieces. I must say I still don’t know the topic sufficiently well to try to write about it, but I have some photos that I can certainly share with you.

Cartier

Cartier

Cartier

Cartier

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Joyeux Noël

I am currently sitting in the living room of my belle famille, to a background of lovely classic and seasonal instrumental music, all set for my first Christmas in France. I’ve taken some photos of Christmas ornaments around the house and of the creche at the corner, although this year we’re doing without a sapin de Noël. No worry, the presents will still appear in a timely manner to reward everyone on their good behaviour this year. ;)

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

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It’s not all about chocolate

This may sound odd but I am off chocolate. I am not entirely sure how it comes about, just that I eat a whole lot less of them (or none at all for extended period) and I am no longer tempted to buy them regularly either. On the other hand, F is chomping in chocolate on a daily basis, at just about every main meal of the day. I reckon he’s eating enough chocolate for the two of us in any case. And yes, we have a stock of chocolate tablets at home to sustain his habit (and this is just about all the chocolate I pick up nowadays).

So when Salon du Chocolat came rolling into town this week, I debated. Nearly an annual pilgrimage for me, I hemmed and hawed about going this year. I probably would have skipped it had my childhood friend not been in town and curious about this large gathering of chocolate vendors and other purveyors of sweet goodies. :)

Salon du Chocolate 2013

Salon du Chocolate 2013

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André Le Nôtre in St Germain-en-Laye…

Ever since Alex posted some photos on her Facebook over a year ago of her walk in the woods of St Germain-en-Laye, Frédéric and I spoke often of visiting it ourself. But alas, all talk, no action…

When Lauren and Danielle started planning for an afternoon out in this western suburb of Paris, I jumped at the opportunity to tag along. We were joined by Anne, Deanna and Lauren’s adorable pup, Daisy. Moreover, with “free” daily transport within Ile-de-France in the summer thanks to the dézonage of Navigo – it is now back to weekends and public holiday only – it would be silly not to take advantage of it.

St Germain-en-Laye

St Germain-en-Laye

A short fortnight later, I found myself hopping back on the RER A towards St Germain-en-Laye, this time with Frédéric and Nicolas in tow. For the second time in as many weeks, I was admiring the beautifully designed garden of the Château of St Germain-en-Laye by André Le Nôtre, principal gardener to King Louis XIV (who was, incidentally, born in St Germain-en-Laye) and the man responsible for raising the bar in the construction of formal French gardens.

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The 300 steps of Tour St Jacques

For a very long time, the Tour St Jacques (i.e. St James’ Tower) had been under scaffolds for restoration works. It wasn’t until shortly before my move to Paris that it emerged cleaned and repaired to the eyes of the public. However, access to the tower itself remained elusive. No more. Between 5 July and 15 September this summer, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors can ascend this former bell tower to the church of St-Jacques-de-la-Boucherie via some 300 spiral stairs to the open summit, but only if you are quick enough to book a spot among the 136 per day.

Dedicated to St James, the detroyed church and its tower form part of the landmarks on the French pilgrimage route of El Camino de Santiago. This tower that measures about 12m by 12m in base dimension and attains 62m in height (including that of the statue of St James on its pedestal) is the sole structure within the heart of Paris where a complete 360° panoramic view is on offer. A summer day blighted by heatwave may be unappealing as a day to work those gluts and go all the way up, but the effort is richly rewarded.

Tour St Jacques

Tour St Jacques

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Dimension, Perception and Illusion at DYNAMO

You could say we were a wee bit late to the party. Grand Palais has been hosting DYNAMO since early April, and yet we have just been able to make a trip over to check it out this week. It’s like arriving when the last call for a drink had just been announced. Nonetheless, as one would say, better late than never.

Modern art, as a subject, often baffles me. If it had not been for Joan Miró – I felt an instant connection the first time I saw his work in Tate Modern, London – I doubt that I would even make an effort to try to understand modern art. DYNAMO explores the concept behind “a century of light and movement”, often involving an interpretation that combines dimension, perception and illusion, in a really fun way. Have a look.

DYNAMO Exhibition

DYNAMO Exhibition

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La Chasse aux Trésors de Paris 2013

A city-wide trasure hunt – why not?

The Mairie de Paris hosted its 8th edition of Chasse aux Trésors on Saturday 6 July and for once, I was around to play! It is a brilliant initiative to discover Paris better, as each hunt is set to cover the streets, parks, shops and other nooks and corners of participating arrondissements. A total of 13 arrondissements were up for adventures this year, and there were also 2 inter-arrondissement challenges to be had. Intimate knowledge of the arrondissements is not necessary. In fact, it’s even better if you don’t know it well already!

The clue sheets were to be collected between 10am and 1pm, and the hunt completed by 3.30pm. No other time limitation imposed otherwise. Teamed together with Anne and Chloé, we signed up to discover one of the inter-arrondissement trails. We had no idea before hand on where we were going, just that we should retrieve our treasure hunting clues at the Mairie of the 3rd arrondissement. This year, we were to help Erasme recover the name of his long-lost lover, guided by the Oracle. I just want to share some photos from our hunt, and hover over them for descriptions extracted from our clue sheets.

La Chasse aux Trésors 2013

La Chasse aux Trésors 2013

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Ride Béret Baguette 2013

Thanks to a hat-tip by Sam, I was out this morning to check out at Place de la Sorbonne to check out the Ride Béret Baguette 2013. In its third year, the aim of the group is to promote the (rhyming) culture of “rétro et vélo”, and boy have they delivered! A few hundred people and bikes were there, all dressed up and ready to bike around Paris.

Ride Béret Baguette

The programme for 2013 edition included a “caravan” (that showcased all kinds of things in rétro style, including fashion, accessories, styling and, of course, bikes!), a bike race, a vintage ball, and a bike ride to cap off the wonderful weekend. If only I’ve known about this ahead of time, I probably would have participated (a fellow blogger, Lauren Lou, did!), at least in the bike ride on Sunday. Next year, I shall be there ;)

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In retrospect: St Patrick’s Day 2008

My social media feeds have been flooded with various St Patrick’s Day-related photos, videos, well-wishes, articles and more. They are making me very nostalgic for the good ol’ days when I celebrated the festival with much gusto, as well as certain level of silliness, with my friends.

Today, I found a folder of photos from St Patrick’s celebration back in 2008 on my computer. These photos are precious to me. I have not been in Dublin for Paddy’s Day since 2009 (I was elsewhere, then I moved to France) so this was more or less the last time I properly celebrated the big day with the whole shebang: parade, céilí, pub crawl! (Previous years I even hosted parties at home – fun, but a lot of work!)

St Patrick's Day 2008

St Patrick's Day 2008

St Patrick's Day 2008

St Patrick's Day 2008

St Patrick's Day 2008

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THATd’Or – ready, set, hunt!

Treasure hunt in a museum? And one of my favourite museums to boot? Yes, please!

Let me cue you in with some background about the hunt. Treasure Hunt at the Louvre aka THATLou is the brainchild of Daisy de Plume, and it is a wonderful initiative which combines her entrepreneurial skills and her love of good arts. At THATLou, participants disperse across the many wings and floors of the Louvre in search of artworks which Daisy has challenged the groups to find. The group which earns the most point (by finding the pieces and/or answer the bonus questions) will be crowned winner of the treasure hunt!

Musée d'Orsay

When Daisy announced bringing the hunt over to the Musée d’Orsay, nicknamed THATd’Or, as one of the events hosted by the AFMO’s Avant Garde, I knew I had to try to make it this time. Possible obstacle? It was slated for Thursday… uh-oh, it’s a work day!

I was delighted when Daisy tweeted back “THATd’Or @ 19h45” – perfect!

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At the brocante

I have noticed, in the period that daylight savings is in operation, big bright banners start to crop up just about everywhere. Brocante! Vide grenier! Salons d’antiquaires! (Garage sale! Empty the basket! Antique salon!)

At the brocante

Held usually over a weekend at a specific location, these pop up markets have some pretty interesting things to sell. However, because I am just that wee bit lazy, I haven’t specifically went to one for the purpose of browsing. Besides, I am not a natural shopper – I wouldn’t know if I hit a bargain or have overpaid for something that used to belong to someone else.

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Sharjah International Book Fair

Where there’s book, you’ll find me. To read about the Sharjah International Book Fair, that was exciting. Local and international publishers and sellers would be there, and there would be tons of books in Arabic and non-Arabic languages too!

Held at the Sharjah Expo Centre, which is not far from where I am, the massive book fair is well organised (kudos to the organisers) and seemingly very popular too, teeming with visitors when I snuck over at 6pm yesterday evening. This was at the time when half the population of Sharjah were still stuck in the traffic, en route home from Dubai. I can only imagine as the evening progresses, more and more visitors would be expected.

Since I don’t read Arabic (how I wish I have – I took lessons once upon a time when I was six but never continue beyond that) my target section would be that of non-Arabic, foreign books. Hall 4 is dedicated just for that.

As I strolled along rows after rows of stalls, I noticed the majority of titles in English are children’s books. This is something very positive, that children are encouraged to learn English and there are so much educational tool available to them. There were also a quite a number of stalls dedicated to academic and medical texts, making them prime source of text books for second/third level students.

However, in general, there’s a lack of stock of fictions and right now, that’s probably what I’d like to get my hands on the most. Some popular titles are available, but I would have already read them. Some are classics, which I know I could get much cheaper elsewhere. New releases are few and far in between, which is a pity. I would have love to go away with a few new purchases. (I ended up going to Borders at Sharjah City Centre and bought 3 books there instead.)

The Sharjah International Book Fair is running from 26 October to 6 November 2010 at the Sharjah Expo Centre.


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