Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Season greetings from our family to yours!  This is my favorite spokesmodel.

Sunny Christmas Day 2011

Merry Christmas to all. Phoenix is sunny and 70 degrees, without a cloud in the sky.  I'm glad that I had snow earlier this month in Paris! 

Scottsdale, Arizona - Il Pandoro - just like in Rome?

The short answer is "NO", not as tasty as it was in Rome. But it has traveled quite a distance, so I am not surprised that it is dried.

The funny note:  It took me about 1/2 hour to select and buy this. I went to DeFalco's Italian Deli and had to discuss the purchase and listen to all of the local Italian stories.  The consensus is that "my Mom used to toast/make french toast/butter and fry (select your favorite) this on Christmas Day".  Well, no wonder! It was dried.  So while I can't eat this with lush butter, as we did in Rome, it is good buttered and lightly fried.  I think that the Italian moms make these changes to overcome the dryness.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brophy Alumni Lacrosse

Today is a beautiful day for a game. I can't believe how awesome the new field is. Kalen started playing here in 1999-2000, not on this field, but as a player in a sport new to Arizona.  The sport has come a long way. It was a great game.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rome, Italy - Seniors Revolt in Rome

Equal opportunity protests?  This happened on the Thursday that I stayed at the apartment in Rome. I am going to have to depend on the others to comment as to what they saw take place during the day. I saw this sign as we were going home one night. 

The more I research, the more I realize that I have no idea what was going on.  Sara! Kalen! Karl! help!

AHHHH: there is a Facebook page:

And a website
From the sign:

la nuova utopia
Ettore sottsass, scritto di notte
Peter Cook, il futuro visto dal passato
Oled, la nuova luce

From an online translator
domus.  the new utopia,
Ettore Sottsass,written at night,
Peter Cook, the future seen from the past
Oled, the new light

Established in 1928 by Gio Ponti, Domus is a highly reputed international magazine dedicated to contemporary architecture, interior design and art. For 80 years it has followed, promoted and anticipated the trends in architecture, art and the creative arts under the leadership of prestigious editors. Worldwide design celebrity Alessandro Mendini currently edits the review: he will sign 11 issues destined to stand out as a unique collection - in the history of this iconic architectural title. Mendini's domus focuses on the power of images and the readability of contents. The subtitle 'La nuova utopia' conveys the construction of a progressive vision offered as a way out of the global recession in design, production and market.

Each cover carries the illustrated portrait of distinguished personalities who have contributed to the evolution of the culture of design, architecture and the arts. Domus offers the widest range of coverage, the sharpest commentary and criticism, and the best photography. Published in Italy with an international perspective, Domus is fully bilingual Italian and English and circulates 51,000 copies across the world. Domus is currently available in 89 countries via traditional channels, libraries and bookshops, as well as by subscription. Four local editions are published in Arabia/Middle East, China, Russia and Israel. Domus is actively engaged in cross-publishing activities, from web to digital applications.

Rome, Italy - Église Saint-Louis-des-Français de Rome

This is one of the three churches that is in the area of the Pantheon.  Unassuming on the outside, they hold beauty and treasures within.  Sign as you enter the Church.  Consider yourself informed.
Sign as you enter the Church
Sign as you enter the Church

Preparing for a wedding
Preparing for a wedding
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
The Inspiration of Saint Matthew by Caravaggio
Fichier: Great organ San Luigi dei Francesi
Fichier: Great organ San Luigi dei Francesi

We walked on to Piazza Navona. I had to get a photo of these donuts.  This is some treat!  Grande Ciambella Romana
Grande Ciambella Romana

Friday, December 10, 2010

Les Halles-Rambuteau - A Day of Wondering Aimlessly

Today was wonderful.  No specific route planned, just an exploration of the side streets in the neighborhood.

If you have a Paris map, you can follow me.  Otherwise, just enjoy the tour.  My journey starts at the apartment location: Intersection of Rue Montmartre and Rue Etienne Marcel.  Etienne Marcel is the dividing line between 1 Arrondisement and 2 Arrondisement.  As I left the apartment, I thought that I would take a little walk and then return to one of the boulangeries (bakeries) and get a sandwich.  I started off going south on Rue Montmartre past Eglise Saint-Eustache. I walked through  (on the edge of) the park towards the Les Halles Metro station and continued on to Rue Rambuteau.  I turned right on Rue Saint-Denis.

I had bearly walked past two stores when I could smell something cooking.  I saw a crepe stand. My stomach rumbled and mentioned that I hadn't tried one of these, so now was a great time to do so.  I selected a basic one with cheese:

It took a little while longer for the cheese to melt, and then he folded it and put it in a paper container.  It reminded me of a quesadilla snack, only the crepe was softer with a taste of, well, crepe.

I munched on the crepe as I walked and window shopped, turning left and right in the area. It was a pedestrian section of town, so no need to watch for car traffic. Perfect when you are totally distracted.

Cheesy crepe
After a while, I saw the St. Eustache church again and decided to wander down rue Montorgueil.  I made it just a few steps when I saw hot chocolate.  I asked the attendant for some, and he told me that I needed to pay inside first. So, I walked inside and to my delight found two Italian men behind a counter filled with gelato.  Perfect!  I quickly forgot about the hot chocolate, chatted about the warm weather in Rome at this time of year, and ordered a dark chocolate and espresso treat.

Chocolate and Espresso Gelato
I strolled and looked in windows at every shop.  When the gelato was finished, I went in to Au Rocher De Cancale, selected a table inside, and ordered a caffe creme (coffee with creme).

Caffe Creme at Au Rocher De Cancale
I sipped and enjoyed the people watching.  After a while, I headed back to the apartment so take a nap. Ahhhh, busy day.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Le Grille Montorgueil

Tried a new restaurant close to the apartment. It was about 8PM when we left to go and eat. I've been in Europe tooooo long!!

We both had yummy onion soup. (Onion and emmental cheese gratinée - 7€) I had a sausage dish called "Saucisse Morteau" that was on the daily special menu for 13€, and Karl had prime grilled steak with french fries. (Faux-filet de boeuf grillé, frites - 14€) Tasty, but too much food after having the onion soup.

YET...I had room for desert.  Moelleux Chocolat 6€.  Little cake with a warm fudgy center and vanilla ice cream on top.  Yummy...of course!
Meolleux Chocolat with Vanilla Ice Cream on top
Back to the apartment at 11 PM.  Long day. Good conference info.

La Grille Montorgueil
50 Rue Montorgueil, 75002 Paris, France
Phone: 01 42 33 21 21
Subway: Châtelet

Thought Controlled Computing

Interesting topics.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sacre Coeur - The Blizzard

The story of the blizzard is told in the post just prior to this one, but I wanted to show you more photos of what it was like before and after the "wish candle" that was lit inside of Sacre Coeur.

We are at street level looking up at the basilica.

Ladee + Basilica + teeny prayer = chaotic blizzard (oops)

The day started off innocent enough. We decided that we were going to Sacre Coeur as neither of us had seen it. We strategized our Metro route, enjoyed breakfast and coffee at the apartment, bundled up and off we went.  The weather was a light freezing rain, so up went the umbrellas to keep us somewhat dry.

The Metro ride went off without a hitch, changing staions, hiking up and down steps (oops, wrong side of the tracks) but we arrived in Montmartre in good spirits.  We walked up the little hill to the bottom of Sacre Coeur steps and looked up.  Nope, not going to "Rocky" tackle these steps today, so we decided to ride the Funicular (Pittsburgh folks, think incline).  We had bought a bundle of ten Metro tickets earlier so we skipped the purchase line and queued for the ride. Only one was running, because they were blowing the leaves off of the other track.  Sun City must have brought a multi-lingual bus tour because all of the little old ladies were pushing and shoving to get to the best view (windows were steamy, so I have no idea what they think they were going to see). 

The Funicular (instead of steps!!)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Rome, Italy - Church - Ignazio Di Loyola - Rome

There was one more Church in the area that we needed to see. I had to add this picture of the street and the parking.  It's all to scale.  Little streets lined with little cars.  SUVs just wouldn't make it down the street.

This is an interesting example of what happens to a project when the money runs out.

Little streets and little cars...jammed in.

Rome, Italy - More Michelangelo - Basilica di Saint Maria Sopra Minerva - Rome

This was inside one of the three Churches that we visited on Saturday, December 4.  This Christ with a Cross is done by Michelangelo.  The thing that looks like a scarf blew up from the street and caught on his leg was added later by others.  I've also included some photos of the Church.  As Ginan had told me, every church has some great work of art, and there are over 400 Churches in Rome.
Christ by Michelangelo

Christ by Michelangelo

The ceiling

View of the Altar from the back of the Church

Sign about the Church.

Rome, Italy - Trattoria Antonio

We found the restaurant on the last day in Rome...go figure.  We were walking around the city, looking for a new undiscovered place to eat lunch.  The street we were on had restaurants with the waiters at street side, inviting you in, giving you deals and discounts. We read (Rick Steves) to avoid these places and look for the ones filled with locals.  Trattoria Antonio was it.  We think that we were the only non-Italians in this crowded little restaurant. The food was incredible.  I didn't get an itemized bill, but the total came to 86€ plus tip, so we spent about 21,50 € each.

The one standing outside begging us to enter.
Ristorante Antonio
Garbini S.a.S
Via Dei Pastini, 12 Roma
Tel: 06/67.90.798
Penne Bologna. Yes, also wine and bread. (Ladee)

Pasta e Fagioli Soup (Kalen and Karl)

Pasta Carbonara (Sara)

Wide pasta noodles with meat slices and yummy sauce. (Kalen and Karl)

It was a good meal in a small family owned trattoria.

AND, to my amazement, the owner Papa cut the prosciutto right at tableside. In fact, he moved that ham bone around as he needed it. He would cut a few pieces off, and then put it on the plate.

Rome, Italy - Tazza D'Oro - Authentic Coffee Bar in Rome

From December 4, Saturday in Rome

This is a true coffee bar in Rome.  We had finished a nice lunch and Kalen/Sara/Karl headed to this place (they found it the day before).  You pay for your order and get a receipt, then go to the barrista and he makes the beverage. It was crowded and wonderful!
Pannatone wrapped to go

Kalen pays for the drinks

We move to the stand up bar for the drinks

Espressos all around

Tazza D'Oro - the front of the coffee bar

Versaille (France) - Snowy Garden

December 2010 - I was delighted to be able to see the fountains and grounds in the winter.  The air was crisp and the snow slightly slushy.

We took the train from Paris to Versailles.  The chateau is fairly close and an easy walk through town.  This is the wide street leading up to the front grounds.

Snow and Versailles

Today's plan: take the train to Versailled to photograph the gardens in the winter.
My Prayer: Please cover the gardens with a dusting of snow.
The result: SNOW!!!  Yea!!!

The morning started with this scene outside the apartment balcony window.  I was so giggly excited because I figured if it was snowing (and melting) in the city, the outskirts would have a nice dusting.  (See the video below.)

We stopped by the boulangerie (note that the shop has been renovated and has a 3 week new owner...yes, I quizzed him on all of this) to buy some nice pastries for the train ride, then went to the Metro station and bought two tickets each, one to go to Versailles and the other to return (6 euros total).  We had no issues with the ticket vending machine and didn't have to step out of line to let others pass once. Woo hoo!! Getting better at this all the time.  We took the #4 line to Saint Michel station, then found the train "RER B" and we were off.  We ate chocolate croissants, Swiss broche with chocolate in it, and an orange thing...whatever!, looked and tasted good.  The trained arrived at Versailles in about 45 minutes and we were on our way.

The grounds were covered with snow, with slushy areas where people walk.  No crowds and no vendors selling plastic Eiffel Tower key chains.  I asked one of the workers ( French) which entrance we use to see just the gardens, not inside the chateau. And he answered in French (clearly indicating to me that he understood my French...yippee!!).  AND I understood the answer. We headed to the left of the building through a walkway...and the white dusted wonderland opened up before us.  I took a lot of photos on the "big" camera, and will need to convert them to web photos when I return home. But here is me, happy, with the Versailles Gardens sprawling in the background, dusted with snow.  Yes, I have on one glove...because someone else did not bring gloves and has not yet purchased a pair of French gloves.

We ate at a little pizza restaurant, which I wouldn't recommend.  It is in one of the little plazas on the walk from the train station to the Chateau.  Chez Cesar was our second choice, because the restaurant with the crepes was closed.  Karl had Soupe Minestrone for 6.50€, I had pasta, Pates a la Bolognese for 11.50€, and we both had a glass of Bordeaux for 3.80€ each. 

Dinner tonight was purchased at the local shops.  We bought four different types of cheeses, a baguette from Eric Kaiser Bakery, some raspberries from the fruit stand (I was holding one container for 3 euro when the shopkeeper told me to take 3 containers for only 5!)  ...oh, then he showed me the sign...Thank God for the friendly French. We also bought avacados, oranges, and some olives (hang over from Roma).  Karl returned to the boulangerie to get pastries for the morning and I went to Stohrer's for dessert, something touille, and baba au rhum.  Did I tell you that the baba au rhum was invented at Stohrer's? This shop has become the new Vatican for Karl.  I shared a little chat with the workers (Am I on vacation? Does the camera hanging around my neck give my secret away?)  and headed for home.  Because I was walking by myself, I was easy distracted by a chocolate shop.  BONJOUR! I said as I entered.  "I need some chocolate!".  So we discussed, and tasted my options. I was very indecisive and had to test several. I then purchased a slab of carmel chocolate and a slab of dark chocolate with nuts and other miscellaneous things in it.  VERY good, of course.

Here are photos of the chocolate. Notice that that slab is very thin. I think that this is done to allow zero space for calories. Those French are so clever.  I don't know if I'll be able to bring any of this home.  There seems to be less and less every time I open the bag to look at it.

Hot Chocolate at Angelina's

This was thick and tasty. The whipped cream floated on top. There was enough in the pitcher for us to have two cups each. What a treat.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Angelina's - Pierre Herme - Galerie Vivienne - Tir Bouchon

Today was a strolling and eating day. What a better way to spend the day in Paris?

Angelina's on rue du Rivoli

Angelina's on rue du Rivoli

We started the day by heading to rue du Rivoli.  It is the street that runs next to the Louvre and is filled with shops, hotels and restaurants.  We checked out all of the fun stuff, scarves, aprons, hats, French gloves, comparing prices and deciding what to buy.  
French Onion Soup
My target spot was Angelina's so that we could have the hot chocolate. I have a video with the hot chocolate in a seperate blog.  Angelina's is very fancy on the ground floor, with floor to ceiling mirrors and fancy dressed people.  The tourists were sent to the 1st level.  We had a great seat around a balcony so I could watch all of the patrons.  I started with the French Onion Soup (Gratinee 12,50€). It had a lighter, almost chicken base, not the usual dark beef base.  I need to check out recipes on the internet to see if I can find it.  Anyway, it was very savory and tasty. Karl had a Croque Monsieur 13,50€ and a glass of wine 4€.  After the soup, the hot chocolate 6,90€ each was delivered.  Be sure to check out the video (in another blog) to see the thick chocolaty drink.

We were seated in the balcony.

The view was of the front door

It was a beautiful area.

Beautiful pastries at Angelina's

Pierre Hermes

After lunch, we continued the walk and decided to turn right to go in the general direction of the apartment. To my surprise, we walked right past a Pierre Herme

Inside Pierre Hermes.
Very sophisticated!
 store.  It is a good practice to study the names of the best chocolate and treat shops in Paris, because you never know when you will come across one of them.  Here is was, fancy in all of it's colorful dress.  I bought some chocolates to take home, and a macaron for now.  It was an almond and green matcha small one.  Of course, it was yummy.

Macarons at Pierre Herme

Nina's Tea Store

 continued through Place Vendome, with the Paris Ritz and all of the high end jewelry shops.  Nothing on my budget here. It was decorated for the holidays and looked beautiful.  As we turned right on rue de St Honore, I saw a red tea shop!  I stopped in and it smelled wonderful.  Had to buy a little treat in there also.

Eric Keyser has a bread and pastry shop near the apartment also. 

Beautiful pastries. Would it be ok to eat all of this in one sitting?
Place Vendome - home of the Paris Ritz Carlton.  Very nicely decorated.  Exclusive jewelry shops and dress designers line the plaza.
Sparkling branches lit the plaza.

The huge tree was in the center of the plaza

The Paris Ritz Carlton!

The storefront windows were filled with marvelous and beautiful things.  Click on the photos to see a bigger picture.

We walked through Galerie Vivienne.  Galeries and Passages are a network covered shopping arcades in Paris.  Sometimes it is easy to walk right past them if you are not aware of what is inside. 
Galerie Vivienne entrance

Inside Galerie Viviene - windows were all decorated with lights

The floor is mosaic.

A pure red Christmas tree

The ceiling is decorative, protects from the elements,
and allows in nice light.
We walked past the back entrance to the Palais Royal.  I will need to make sure to go into this building on the next trip!

We walked through a few passages (covered shopping streets) and returned to the apartment.  I took a nap, and then we went to dinner fashionably at 7:30 PM. 

We went to Tir Bouchon, which is close. I had warmed camerbert cheese with a frizzy green salad for an appetizer and salmon for the main course. 

Appetizer at Tir Bouchon

The "menu" also included desert and I had a warm chocolate cake.  ("menu" is a multi-course selection for a set price, which was 30 euros).  Karl slid in an expensive bottle of wine for 35€ and we had a great meal with attentive service.  Great day filled with walking from eating establishment to eating establishment.

Main Course

Menu is hand written daily, a sure sign
of a good restaurant.

Le Tir Bouchon Restaurant
22 rue de Tiquetonne, Paris 2