Saturday, December 31, 2011

Paris 2011 - Notre-Dame de Paris: the interior

We entered the cathedral. It was slightly overwhelming. I was amazed by the high ceilings, the stone work, the windows, the separate stalls for the saints, the everything!

I don't know if I am capable of describing my feelings with words about this cathedral, and I don't think my photos would do it justice. I'm simply going to post a few photos of some of the elements inside that made my heartbeat go a little bit faster when I saw them.

This is one of the places that everyone, if he can, should see in person.

I was very deeply moved.

This still can't show the beauty of the cathedral, but I took a little video while sitting in the pews:


Friday, December 30, 2011

Paris 2011 - Notre-Dame de Paris: the exterior

The hotel we stayed at in Paris was at the edge of the Latin Quarter, and was fairly close to Notre-Dame de Paris. John and I visited it a couple times (inside-out), and every time I passed by it, I'd stop and admire its stunning beauty, and be amazed each time.

Lots of birds out front.

And this dude was having his photo taken with the pigeon on his head.

The architecture, the structure, the craftsmanship, and literally everything of Notre-Dame de Paris I had seen so far were stunning to me. I had never seen anything so massive yet delicate... and this was only the exterior. More amazement for me awaited.

Paris 2011 - little breakfast companions

I've posted about how there's a bakery below the hotel that we were staying at. And during the week we that we frequented there, there were little elements other than tasty treats that made me happy.

There were always little birdies that were scouting out crumbs on the patio floor!

John and I liked to sit at this small table by the edge of the patio, until one day a little bit of bird poo (pee?) got on our jackets! Even though there was only a teeny little bit, I was slightly freaking out. After cleaning our jacket we decided we'd sit at other tables that were closer to the bakery itself. Good call, because we saw the birdie-pee accidents happen to other patrons a couple times after ours.

I still think these birds were cute, and they were my little Parisian breakfast companions.

Most of the mornings John and I would get a croissant, and had something that we got from the stores the night before. One morning we went into the bakery and there were fresh caramel flans, so we tried it. It was pretty tasty.

And that morning I also tried a cafe au lait. Let's get real here... stick with the pastries and breads, I say.

Some mornings I'd also see this young man who's stacking the baguettes:

He was always very concentrated when handling the baguettes. Very professional and cool.

I sorta miss this little bakery right now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

this Christmas

I am trying to finish up my little Paris trip postings so I totally skipped blogging about Christmas.

Friends and family have been asking about our Christmas, so I thought I'd post a little 'something something' about our Christmas holiday.

This Christmas John and I just took it easy... only the two of us, the dogs, and the cat. We didn't cook anything extravagant, but picked up TWO roast ducks for the holiday! I went to pick up one at Southeastern Market earlier on Christmas Eve, and after the shop closed both of us went to pick up another from Little World on our way home.

Oh my goodness the ducks were so yummy. We had some on Christmas Eve, some on Christmas Day, and I just finished the last bit last night. Yum Yum Yum.

We did cook a little, too. We made green beans with bacon, "marshmallow-ed" yam, and other veggies. My favorite was the "marshmallow-ed" yam!

Did I put enough yam in there with the marshmallows?

We also had wine that we brought back from France, and I made a pumpkin cake for dessert!

So we enjoyed yummy food, watched fun and silly shows on Netflix, and just chilled with the dogs and Jasper. It was a mellow and happy Christmas!

Oh, and the dogs each got a big bone for the holidays!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paris 2011 - Musee d'Orsay

With our museum pass in hand, there were probably too many great things to see. The evening that Orsay Museum (Musee d'Orsay) opened late we took the night train to go and visit it.

The Musee d'Orsay stop was only a short train-ride away.

At the Musee d'Orsay station.

Musee d'Orsay.

Musee d'Orsay was the only museum that did not allow photograph-taking of the paintings and sculptures inside the museum, so I didn't take any. It was actually nice, because I was just trying to absorb what I was seeing, and loving each moment.

I did snap a few shots when I reached the top of the stairs at the back of the museum. I didn't know if it was allowed, but everyone with a camera was taking a photo of this stunning museum when he's on top of the "towers," so I did, too. (And it was all worth it!)

It was almost overwhelming for me to see the wondrous and inspiring work in the museum. An evening was almost too short for all d'Orsay had to offer, but I tried to take everything in, and to enjoy every little moment when I "felt" the paintings.

Afterward we walked around the museum and enjoyed the chilly breeze by the river.

That was a wonderful, wonderful evening.

Friday, December 23, 2011

i can cook the filled rice balls now

A couple days ago it was 冬至(dong1 zhi4), which was the "arrival of winter," when most Taiwanese (and Chinese) people will cook up some glutenous rice balls 湯圓(tang yuan) to celebrate this day every year.

I love these boiled rice balls with sweet peanut or sesame filling. They are almost like little hot mochi balls... I'd eat them all winter long!

I have not had homemade rice balls for a while. I should really consider hand-making some this winter.

You can easily purchase them in packages of 10, (like these,) in the freezer sections at the Asian markets, which is very convenient for me to do. The reason I haven't been cooking them much is because I never cooked them right, so most of the time the finished rice balls are torn and the filling will be all over the pot, and the inner side of the rice balls would still be hard!

BUT! But this "arrival of winter" I read up a little bit on cooking/boiling these frozen rice balls, and the result was great!

I boiled a pot of water first. As the water came to a rolling boil, I placed the frozen rice balls into the pot, allowed the water to boil again, and turned the heat down to low, and boiled the rice balls until they all floated on the surface of the water. After the rice balls started floating, added a little bit sugar to the water, and cooked an additional couple more minutes and they were done and every little rice balls were intact! :D

These rice balls were soft and slightly chewy... perfect texture of "tang yuan" for me!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Paris 2011 - Leon de Bruxelles

On our way to Pierre Herme we passed Leon de Bruxelles, which I had read about prior to getting to Paris. We decided we would give its mussels a try for lunch one of the days while we were in Paris.

Leon de Bruxelles is a semi-"fast food" chain that serves fresh and delicious mussels!

Each of us got a pot of the delicious mussels (different sauces and seasonings.) They were both very tasty. The mussels were cooked perfectly and the seasonings were wonderful. There were a lot of mussels in each pot, and toward the end of the meal John said he thought he had "mussel fatigues!" hahaha.

And of course there were frites and beers.

I believe it was on "Thanksgiving Day (American)," so we had mussels and frites for our "Thanksgiving in Paris!"