Easter weekend in Paris

Last weekend, I went on a last minute trip to Paris with 2 of my friends, Fatima and Assel. We just wanted to get away from school related stress and just spend time with each other since it would be our last semester together. We’ve all been to Paris before and it’s just amazing how we all still want to go back. For me, Paris has this certain charm that keeps me wanting to go back. I love the Parisian buildings, the outdoor cafes, not to mention shopping but most of all, the pastries.

With two nights in the city, we mostly wanted to do some sightseeing, shopping and pastry tasting (for me!). ;) We arrived friday night, dropped our bags in the hotel and went to find a cafe where we could have our dinner.

We found this rather cute place called LouLou’s by Boulevard Saint Germain. Fatima and I went for the salmon while Assel went for the steak. (Sorry for the bad pics, anyone have tips with taking photos under yellow light? >_<) 

To be quite honest, we found the food rather disappointing. The steak was quite dry and the salmon quite bland really. Perhaps it was coincidental or not, who knows. Service was so so, the staff speak english well enough but it did take long to receive our bill.. then again, it was rather packed and only 2 servers and a bartender was around. Afterwards, we had a stroll by the Seine and the Notre Dame.

Saturday was rather busy; woke up early to find our hotel breakfast was a croissant with a few variety of jams and coffee. Rather disappointing again but we were too hungry to complain. Then we walked to the Louvre. Wonderful morning exercise by the way. Especially for 3 unfit girls. HAHA. Well, we walked since the tour bus didn’t start until 9:30 and we decided to go to the Louvre as it was a stop for the bus and so that we wouldn’t be going in circles.

Got on the hop on hop off bus to the Trocadero stop to snap some photos of us with the (complete) Eiffel Tower. It was around 11:30 when we went to look for food. Yes, we are rather hungry people. Haha. Spotted a few cafes around but the first one we went into turned us away since it was too early for lunch. So we went 2 doors down to the Cafe Kleber.

I must say I was glad to have been turned away as the food here was pretty good. Fatima ordered the Sirloin Steak with pepper sauce, I ordered the Hanger Steak with shallots while Assel ordered a burger. The steak was really good; juicy and tender plus I loved the sweetness from the shallots. Both my friends loved their orders as well.

Afterwards, we had planned to go to the Sacre Coeur since we’ve never been there but since Saturday was the only day where shops were open… we went shopping instead. Typical females or what? ;) Whilst in Galerie Lafayette, we happened across Pierre Herme. My friends ordered some macarons and although I love trying to make them, I don’t really like eating them. I do occasionally try some but I get tired of it for some reason.. :\ I love taking pictures of them though.. so cute. :3 I somehow managed to steal a shot before the staff told me pictures aren’t allowed. Oh well :P My friends didn’t like the green tea mac but I love green tea so they gave the extra to me hehe. We loved the violet one as well, the one at the top in the picture but didn’t like the olive oil with vanilla and rose flavors.

We went to Champs-Elysees next to see what we could check out which isn’t much really. We decided to eat in Laduree after trying it a couple of years ago with my parents and I remember the food was good. Unfortunately, we were an hour too early for dinner service so we ended up ordering sandwiches instead. It wasn’t anything special really and I felt bad since I persuaded my friends to go for an actual dinner instead of snacks. Ended up taking away a box of macarons partially because I love taking pictures. Hehe.

i love the green apple, caramel, chocolate and coffee flavors!

For Sunday brunch, we went back to LouLou’s since we saw from their menu before that they served breakfast/brunch items. Fatima ordered a cheeseburger (I swear, she eats so much for a tiny girl) whilst me and Assel went for the Big ‘New York’ breakfast (if I’m not mistaken) which consists of 2 large pancakes, 2 eggs cooked how you want, hashbrowns, BACON, small jars of fruit and yogurt. It was better than the dinner experience.

After, we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg to have a stroll in the park. Pretty cool and relaxing place and happened across the Statue of Liberty.

I crossed the park to find Sadaharu Aoki’s patisserie as I was determined to go and try out his japanese-french pastries. Finally found the shop which is pretty tiny but filled with aesthetically pleasing goodies. I settled for the bamboo and a matcha croissant whilst my friends got more macarons to bring back. I wanted to try out the matcha chocolate bars myself but found it was rather pricey :( Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take pictures of the goods as they didn’t make it during the trip and the cake split in half. :( Of course, I still ate it but it was soaked through and I just wanted the matcha goodness. Hehehehe.

I know there isn’t much about pastries in the post but we were too full after meals to get snacks like crepes or croissants :( But I’ll be going back in June again to meet my family before they come here in Switzerland for my graduation. I’ll definitely visit the Sacre Coeur (would be my 6th time in Paris after all) and go visit more patisseries. Which probably would be not a very good idea seeing as I’ll have to fit into my dress.. Anyway, until next time!  xo

Mini birthday cakes!

It’s the 10th of April (Philippine time) as I type this which means.. IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! *cue imaginary horns and confetti* Yup, too excited to wait til I post on the ‘right time’ here in Switzerland but anywho, today/in a few hours, I turn 20. Twenty. 2 decades. 1 score. Damnnn.. I’m officially not a teen anymore :(

For the past 3 birthdays, I’ve celebrated it far from home. I do miss my family dinners, wearing red and baking cakes during someone’s birthday. Come to think of it, I’ve never even made my own birthday cake! But my friends here in Switzerland have taken it into their own hands and bought me cakes and gifts in our own little gathering which I’ll be forever grateful for. (Love you guys!)

This year, I bought myself some mini cakes from Lucien Moutarlier, a local patisserie here in Montreux which makes some of the best and most attractive cakes around town! It’s also a member of the Relais Desserts :O I make a point of going into the shop to at least twice per semester to buy and taste something new, to gawk at the pretty desserts and not to mention, grab a copy of Desserts which is a seasonal magazine from Relais Desserts! During this visit, I intended to just buy one however, as I was only bringing my debit card, they had a minimum amount required for it so I ended up buying 2. Not that I’m complaining ;)

I decided not to take something covered in chocolate and went for these two cakes:

Left: Epicea; Right: Anthares

First, the Epicea which is the cake to the left. I was instantly attracted (and curious) to it due to it’s whiteness and my friend S recommended it as well. It’s composed of a gianduja, hazelnut and 5 spice crust, sponge, apricot cremeux and milk chocolate mousse. I’m not exactly sure what the white layer covering the mousse is. The texture is quite sticky and it’s quite sturdy (for the lack of better word) and covers the cake like fondant. Any ideas? :\

Tastewise, I loved the nutty-spice flavor with the fruit and chocolate. And although the cake and base did separate, I still liked the smooth to crunchy texture. On a side note, I do realize that the base layer of the cake blends in with the cork board I used. Haha.

Next up is the Anthares. Made with a chocolate sponge base, dark chocolate mousse, pistachio bavaroise then covered in pistachios, I have been wanting to try this one out. I happen to like pistachios and with the bright green colored cake, I knew I had to take it.

I was surprised as I sliced through it to find that it’s quite soft despite how it looks or perhaps because I still took a walk under the sun before indulging. The pistachio flavor is just right and the chocolate flavors as well. All in all, the cake was well balanced and light. I also liked how there’s texture from the tiny bits of pistachios outside and a layer inside as well.

Between both cakes, I’d have to say that the Epicea is the one I would go back for due to its blend of flavors and texture. So, if you happen to be around here, do visit Lucien Moutarlier and try their cakes! They have cakes available in 3 sizes, if I’m not mistaken as well as other goodies like macarons and chocolate.

Before I go, I have to say that turning 20 feels like a new chapter has begun. Although nothing has changed much as of now (except gaining a few calories), I feel like it’s the decade to accomplish something; to make a mark in the world or at least my world. Still not quite sure how that’s gonna happen but I’ll get there. *game face* Let’s do this.

Lucien Moutarlier
Grand Rue 44

Katrina & The Chocolate Factory

Not a very original title at all is it? Forgive me but I like to go straight to the point ;). For this semester, we have Masterclasses which we could sign up for and there just happened to be a chocolate masterclass and obviously, I signed and lined up for it!

Finally, the day to go to the chocolate factory came. We took a 40 minute bus ride from school and arrived at the town of Broc. Funny thing was when we got out of the bus, everyone took a deep breath of ..cow dung. Eh. Only in Switzerland for you. That didn’t affect our excitement to make some chocolate though! We walked a few meters and TA DA~!

Welcome to the Maison Cailler!

Went in and was greeted by loads of chocolate! Check out the wall of chocolate bars! :O

But the best part was behind the reception…

Yes, that’s where we made our own chocolates! Pretty cool eh? Our instructor was Mr. Silvano Nobbs. My friends and I were thinking, “How can he make chocolates and be so thin?!” Seriously. :\

image from Ms. Wendelin

So, we got started and he told us that we’d be making chocolate bars and introduced us to the equipment and ingredients we’ll be using which were the Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Cremant (46% cocoa) and White Chocolate as well as loads of different toppings like nuts, dried fruit, chili powder (!), and even fancy gold and silver dust. He then explained the process of tempering and why we had do so and showed us how to do it.

Then comes the fun part, we grouped into pairs got started! Everyone scrambled up to pick their types of chocolates. My friend Ben and I chose the dark chocolate and cremant since we didn’t feel like eating something too sweet. Anyway, we mixed and melted them and tempered our chocolates! *I’m so happy I finally know how to do this. Can’t wait to try at home when I get back in June!*

Working it! --pics by Ms. Wendelin

Then we started picking our toppings. I chose almonds, hazelnuts, dried red berries, a few rice krispies and pistachios. Yup, love nuts in my chocolate especially almonds ^^

After filling our molds, we had to refrigerate our chocolates and so we went on the tour around the factory.

It started with the history of Cailler then we went through various rooms explaining their process of producing chocolate. There was also a mini production line and had free samples at the end. Some of my friends pretty much took pocket full of samples! :))

And what food tour doesn’t end with tasting right?! The last room was a chocolate tasting room of their chocolate lines basically. Tested a few but my throat couldn’t handle it anymore.

Afterwards, everyone went back to the demo-kitchen and packaging supplies were laid out and ready for us!

I was scared that I did my tempering wrong and that my chocolate wouldn’t come off the mold but it came off easily and was pretty good and shiny! The only thing I regret now is I should’ve added more nuts and rice krispies into the chocolate and not just on top.. maybe next semester >:).

(Left: hazelnuts and krispies, right: mixed hazelnuts, almonds and red berries with pistachios)

Not only did we get to take our creations home, but we also got Cailler aprons! ^^

And that concludes my day at the chocolate factory. One word to sum the whole experience: AWESOME! But before you go, I shall ask you this question:

PS. Ms. Wendelin, if you happen to be reading this, thanks very much for that awesome experience! And for taking loads of pictures of us! Haha :)

US Trip Part II – Orlando and LA

On New Years’ Day, we left New York for Orlando! Why? For one reason only. When my mom told me we were planning to go to the States, I jumped at the opportunity to go to the new Harry Potter Theme Park. Yes. Harry Potter! Did I mention I was a HUUUUGE Potter fan?! Well now you know! :D I read the book when I was 10 so I pretty much grew up with Harry. Yes, we’re on a first name basis. ;) HAHAHA

So we arrived at the airport and there happened to be a Universal store with a huge HP wall poster and of course, how could I resist not going inside? Went out with 5 wands before heading on to Baggage Claim. ;) I think it’s better to buy at the Airport since there aren’t any lines, they have more stocks plus, the prices are the same anyway.


At night, we went to Downtown Disney to have a stroll and dine in one of the restaurants there. We ended up in Planet Hollywood! Got some souvenir glasses with dancing lights. I ordered some fajitas while my sister had the roll up lasagnas which were their best sellers and mom had this fish dish (I’m bad at recalling what she ate xD Sorry!).

The next day, we were one of the early birds. I’m naturally a fast walker (can’t seem to slow down >_>) so I had to stop and wait for my mom and sister (poor dears) to catch up and so we won’t lose each other. Once in the park, instead going right so we could reach the HP theme park faster, the staff blocked the way so we had to go allll the way around the park. =.=

I was sooo excited I didn’t know where to go first! Get a butterbeer? Ollivanders? Or the ride in the castle?

We decided on the castle first. Since my mom is not a big fan of adrenaline, only my sister and I went. The line was pretty long but moving. You pass through the dungeons, then the greenhouse and finally into the castle. It was a childhood dream come true! It really felt like a movie set with the stone walls, dim lights, talking portraits, Dumbledore greeting you and of course, Harry, Ron and Hermione getting you out of History of Magic. ;)

Awesome isn't it?

Then starts the ride. Which was soooo awesome by the way! It was an adventure-y, felt-like-riding-a-broom, 4D kind of ride. We went on it twice since after we described it to Mom, she went all regretting and stuff, which we felt bad for. She still slapped us afterwards since apparently, the ride was still scary for her. :|  The only ride we didn’t go for was the big dragon coaster since I’m too chicken for big rides. :( Oh well..

Lined up for the Ollivanders wand show which was pretty quick and I felt kind of sad since I didn’t get picked. BOO! ..LOL Oh! Did I mention the staff had British accents? Made the experience more real haha.

Excuse me, didn't get to take a picture of the butterbeer alone. HAHA

Then we got butterbeers! Tastes pretty much like butterscotch with vanilla ice cream in froth form. I don’t think it’s for everyone though as my sister didn’t like it. I thought it was okay at first but for me, it’s one of those things that as you keep going it loses its appeal or you get tired of it eventually.

Anyhoo, we also lined up for Dervish & Bangs which was the store you could get your souvenirs from. The line was quite slow moving as the place was packed! They allowed us to bring our butterbeers inside which we were extra careful. ;) After buying some neckties, we ate at the Three Broomsticks! Here’s your obligatory theme park turkey leg and pumpkin juices for sale..

After eating, we took some more pictures and dropped by Honeydukes and Zonko’s which were connected inside. There was a line forming earlier to get inside the candy store but good thing we went there when there wasn’t any. The place is quite small so it gets packed quite easily. I was shocked to see that the chocolate frog was for $10.. or is that typical in the US? It’s fist-sized and isn’t hollow but still O_O.. I got Godric Gryffindor for my card though!

After that, we left the park and went back to the hotel to pack the additional things for our flight the next day.

We arrived in LA late in the afternoon. I don’t have much pictures since we’ve been here before so we didn’t go to any tourist spots. And of course, we mainly shopped. Hehehe.

Met up with two of my friends who happened to be in LA, Minji and Whitney! ^^ We went to The Grove and ate at the Cheesecake Factory! Love the interior of the restaurant and the food had such huge servings! Didn’t get to order a slice of their cheesecake as we were so fullll >_< I don’t have any pictures of our food too since it was so dark inside and I didn’t want to use flash.

The next day, we were planning to head to LA Live since my mom wanted to check it out. As I was browsing their site, I saw that the Peoples Choice Awards was going to be held on the same day! We quickly booked tickets and went! To say we felt out of place is an understatement. Everyone was dressed to the nines while we were dressed so casual. But whatever! We got to see so much celebs even if they were quite tiny from our seats. My sister was expecting to see Justin Bieber but was so disappointed since he didn’t win therefore he didn’t go on stage. Poor thing.

So on our last day in LA, we went to the Westfield Century City mall since it was very near our hotel and we couldn’t go far as we had to go to the airport in the late afternoon. Walked around, shopped last minute and ate at Obika Mozzarella Bar.

Their cheese was delicious! We decided to try their mozzarella bar which you pick a kind of mozzarella cheese (Original, Smoked, & Creamy, if I’m not mistaken) plus either some meats or dips to go with it. We got each of the cheeses and I chose the eggplant with pine nuts dip. It was sooo good! The dip was sweet and I loved the crunch from the nuts.

For dessert, we got frozen yogurt from Pinkberry. Loved the taste of their yogurt since it actually has the tangy taste unlike some fro-yo places here which doesn’t taste like yogurt at all! I had the green tea yogurt and chose mochi, slivered almonds and chocolate chips for my toppings. Yummmm! I missed having green tea flavored things since they don’t have it in Switzerland >_>

So here ends my rather long post of my trip! Sorry for the very late update by the way! I’m back in Cebu for one more week before I fly back to Switzerland again for a new semester. I’m trying to take as much pictures for future posts since I don’t think I’ll be able to bake back in Switz since I don’t have a kitchen anymore.  :(

Anyway, hope you enjoyed my post! Going back through the pictures made me want to go back to the States again! :\

US Trip Part I – New York

I’m back! Brace yourself for a rather long post. Or rather, not so much words but lots of pictures. ;) As you can see from the title, I’ve decided to divide my trip into two. New York being the first, Orlando & LA the second.

Yikes, snow banks on the streets of Manhattan :))

So after 2 days of waiting after my cancelled flight, I was finally able to get on that plane and fly across the Atlantic to New York Cit-ayyy! I’ve only been to NY once before this trip and I don’t remember much except visiting the Statue of Liberty. This time, my mom wanted to take the Hop on, Hop off tours. Due to freezing temperatures and traffic due to the blizzard, we waited in line for about an hour or so for a bus we could finally hop on. Suffice to say, we won’t be going to places affected by winter during winter as our toes were pretty much frozen.

Inside TAO

Anyway, it was noontime and we got off the Central Park stop not bothering to finish the rest of the tours and other stops (yeah, goodbye $$$.. :\), walked a couple blocks down looking for a restaurant while stopping to go into stores to warm up a bit. We passed by this establishment which turned out to be TAO.

Got settled in and we all ordered the lunch specials which were for $26.50 for 3 courses. Here’s some of the dishes what we had..

I had the Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce for my appetizer. Nice tender chicken although the sauce was so, so.

For my main course, I had the salmon. I loved the noodles on the bottom!

After months not being able to eat good mangoes from Cebu [;)], I had to have this dish and I did not regret it! I love the mango sorbet with the coconut milk plus the fruits.

My sister had the steak, which she said was good. The fries were awesome as well!

She also ordered the Banana Pudding with the fried banana on top!

My mom had this pomegranate sorbet with the fruits.

The next day, I told them I wanted to check out a couple of restaurants. First stop after SoHo was Momofuku Ssam Bar. Yup, gotta had to visit the place while in NY of course! We ordered 3 dishes, since we were stopping by another restaurant and didn’t want to be too full. Here’s what we had:

Clockwise from Top: Pork Buns (FTW!), Monkfish with Kabosha Squash, Peekytoe Crab and Pepitas and Beef Noodle Soup

All of them were amazing! I also had a Sake Lemonade which was quite unique; the sake taste was quite strong for me but didn’t overpower the lemonade. So it was nicely balanced.

Of course, I could leave Ssam Bar without heading next door to the Milk Bar! Got myself the Crack Pie! Surprise, surprise! Haha!

It does taste awesome! However, I found it too sweet and had to take the leftover half back to the hotel. My sister got the Cereal Milk soft serve with hot fudge. Wasn’t able to take a picture of it since she quickly scooped some up.

As mentioned above, we had another stop to go to. Shake Shack! Ordered a cheeseburger and a hotdog.

The cheeseburger was to die for! We wanted to order again to take back to the hotel but the line was quite long and we had places to see (shopping!). :( But definitely go to Shake Shack if you’re in NYC.

Saw this snowman by the Shack and just had to take a picture! ;)

Stay tuned for Part 2! :D