When you book far enough in advance, the deals you can find are amazing, like this lovely Air BnB for under $120 per night for 50 m2 (540 Sq Ft) apartment with a charming bilingual host. She even stocked the fridge with essentials like juice, water, and eggs, and also had coffee and tea in the pantry, and laundry detergent in the cupboard! With a view of the Canal St. Martin, two major transportation hubs just 3 blocks away, and a big supermarket 2 blocks away, this was an easy location to live in, and if you wanted to party, the cafés along the canal were buzzing all night long with partiers.

The calm courtyard and not having neighbor’s windows facing one side of the building made for a quiet and peaceful retreat after a day out and about. The only things about this place that might put off a renter are that like most Parisian apartments, there is no elevator, so the two flights up may be a challenge, especially if you are lugging heavy suitcases or groceries. The only other caveat is the small step between the hallway and the living room which I kept tripping over until marking the step with a bright red tag 🙂

It was spacious enough to invite several friends over for apéro and chocolates, and an easy enough place to find that every LeCab came right to the building or the corner (if there was heavy traffic).

It was pleasure to “live” in Paris again, and even though I was prepared for the wet weather, the good sized umbrella left by the door by the owner Bathilde, was very much appreciated:)

Very large and light living room area.

 Lots of seating for friends to come over for a visit.

 A large bed (for France).

 Well equipped kitchen with full sized oven

 dishwasher, and washing machine!

 Big bathroom and bathtub!

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When friends whom I’ve known for decades, come in from other countries to spend time in Paris with me, it is a given that we eat at a French bistro:) One surprise guest from Tahiti, two from Belgium, and one American who got to spend the day getting a taste of life in Europe with Europeans and expats:)

The coordinator of our lunch and our subsequent visit to Atelier des Lumieres (2 blocks away) chose 3 Passages based on reviews and the reviews were spot on, because not only was our meal fantastic, but our serveuse was as personable and funny as everyone at our table 🙂

I love steak tartare and I was so happy to find that my order was knife cut, using quality meat and served with fresh accompaniments befitting this classic French dish.

My American friend ordered the pasta special with quality ham and cheese unlike what would be served in most American restaurants.

One of my Belgian friends devoured the saucisse that was as hearty and savory as it looks in the picture.

The Tahitian guest chose the vegetable fish dish served in a crusty wrapping with a light tomato sauce.

The menu at lunch offers two courses for only 14 Euros or three for 17 Euros, so the prices are wonderfully reasonable for the quality and skill offered, not to mention the fun service!

Our wonderful serveuse who took our picture and entertained throughout our meal 🙂

Madame Shawn is a Thai restaurant that has a branch in Bangkok and four in Paris, so if you are craving something spicy in Paris, I highly recommend that you stop by and savor the flavors that are a rarity in Paris where anything spicier than pepper is met with shocked and frightened looks by the locals 😉

Luckily my friends are not afraid of spice and love to travel by both palate and plane, so we went to the Madame Shawn next door to my favorite Boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées in the 10th. I had discovered Madame Shawn because it was next door to the bakery and I was too hungry to just eat bread for a meal. they offer lunch menus from 14-19 Euros  and their dinners are fantastic!

Their 18 Euro sampler of appetizers will give you a taste of all the variations of taste they offer.

Their #47 with rice noodles and chicken was a delicious version of pad see ew in Los Angeles with vegetables and a citrus spark.

The #321, a spicy vegetarian stir fry with tofu, was a nice piquant plate to add to our assortment for 13 Euros.

Their #306 for 18 Euros was a beautiful coconut presentation with  creamy lemongrass flavored shrimp.

 This is the plated view of that curry 🙂

 Desserts ranged from sorbets and ice cream for 7.50 euros,

 to the best mango and sticky rice I’ve e er tasted for 8.50 euros.

You may not crave Thai food while in Paris, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed by Madame Shawn.

Milestone birthdays should be celebrated, and what better way to celebrate than to enjoy a Michelin star meal in Paris? Especially when the person has never eaten at a Michelin star restaurant and loves food 🙂

Montée is a tiny 15 seat restaurant in the 14th, and before it became a starred place, it was my favorite place to eat in Paris. It is now under the helm of Takayuki Nameura and the evolution of status in the culinary world is very well merited. They offer a lunch or dinner menu that is set by whatever is is in season and / or ignites the chef’s creative fire. Dinner is 10 courses, but they served 2 additional amuse-bouche and because it was a birthday celebration, they also presented us with a birthday plate.

I chose a lovely 2014 Graves that was mid range priced to accompany the meal and we took Le Cab there and back so that we could enjoy the entire bottle 🙂

I neglected to take a picture of the veal/spinach schnitzel, probably because it was one of my favorite courses and I enjoyed it so much I completely forgot about documenting it, but that is a good sign of living in the moment, rather than seeking to preserve it.

Enjoy the feast for your eyes until you can get there to feast your palate on these incredible flavors.

Multi layer amuse bouche

another amuse bouche with candied walnuts, dried shitake, and puff pastry

tomato ice and corn souffle

 blue lobster, cashew, and caviar

 foie gras, banana, and smoke

 cod, potato, and sorrel

 white asparagus, almond, and chives

 flounder and leek

 amazing veal, spinach and schnitzel that I forgot to photograph,

then this apple, cider and saffron dessert

 chocolat

 crisp powdered sugar oreillettes

 fabulous wine

 and a lovely birthday plate 🙂

I moved back to the U.S.A. from France about 2.5 years ago, but I am still a citizen of both countries and hold two passports. My languages, tastes, and sensibilities are cross cultural, so it was wonderful to go home to France for a two week visit. It felt like a family reunion with my friends at one of my homelands.

Cantine de Marius in Saint Germain-en-laye was one of my go to places and I was very happy to find it is still a wonderful place for fabulous French food 🙂 They have a lunch menu for only 17.50 Euros for two courses or 21 Euros for three that will amaze your taste buds!

The menu changes daily (as it should), but the day we were there the appetizer was a tuna crudo with cucumbers and radishes,

 and mackerel with a purée of broccoli

and a white nectarine dessert with sorbet that bespoke the perfume of summer fruits.

It was a wonderful welcome back to France with friends. We strolled the grounds of the chateau to walk off lunch afterwards:)

I will post as soon as I return from France 🙂

In the meantime, I will be posting pictures during my trip on my Instagram page.

I’ve never been to Ethiopia, so the food I’ve eaten here in Los Angeles may or may not be authentic to the food served and eaten in that country. I can only describe the flavors and my preferences, so if any Ethiopians read this blog, please comment and let me know what places you enjoy and describe the dishes that you recommend!

Queen of Sheba in Inglewood serves what I guess is very authentic Ethiopian food since both times I’ve gone the place was filled with Ethiopians 🙂 It’s in a very nondescript and worn looking strip mall, so don’t be put off by the outside appearance. The warm welcome and the fragrant flavors inside will more than make up for the first impression.

We tried the In and Out (Geba Wet) for $13.99 with the vegetarian combination $12.99, and although the flavors were wonderful, the beef had many fatty and sinewy bites, so next time perhaps one of the other beef choices would be better.

On another night, we got the lamb tibs $14.99 with the vegetarian combo $12.99, which was definitely our favorite combination with purified butter and onions, the lamb melted into tender shreds as we scooped it up with the bites of the Mesir wot, Yater Alicha, Gomen, cabbage and salad.

Messob is on the stretch of Fairfax known as Little Ethiopia, in a much more appealing section of town, and they also serve wine. Unfortunately their signature dish of doro wat (chicken stew) tasted burnt and bitter, and after all the tasty vegetarian variations at Queen of Sheba, the offerings here were bland and a bit sad. Service was slow since we were seated in the back section by the bathrooms and the poor server was running all over the main dining room and our section by herself. (BTW that round oval in the middle of the doro wat was a hard boiled egg.)

Thankfully Meals by Genet, made famous by the sorely missed Jonathan Gold, is just a block away from Messob, but a world away in terms of flavors, service, and ambiance in the best of ways. You will likely need a reservation so plan ahead or be prepared to wait a long while for one of the few tables.

The vegetarian combo, which included every vegetarian dish, is $22, and the Chicken Tibs were $20. Prices reflected the upgraded ambiance and the option of nice bottles or glasses of wine with your meal, makes this a great date destination. Our waiter was an absolute professional with an entertaining flair that made our meal even more enjoyable.

Depending on your mood, timing, and your location, you may opt for either Queen of Sheba or Meals by Genet, but you can’t go wrong with either!

Good pork is hard to find, and if the preparation is as good as the product, it becomes a reason to partake of porcine pleasure as often as possible. Pikoh does many things well, and their pork tonkatsu with shredded cabbage, caramelized lemon, and Japanese mustard for $16 is one of those things. What’s not to love about a crispy fried tender piece of pork?

That same pork is available with curry, rice, and egg, for $24, enough to satiate those who have hearty appetites.

During happy hour, the had pork ribs which had nice tenderness, but I found them a bit lacking in oomph (how else do you describe something that is good but not great?). I haven’t been back for happy hour, so not sure if it is still on the menu…

One new dish that definitely had oomph and has become one of my favorite dishes there is the kim chee fried rice with pork belly for $16. This version of the classic comfort dish is not only well rounded in textures and flavors, but it delights with every bite.

Having become a regular here, it is nice to see that they keep some classic favorites like the tonkatsu, while adding new ones like the kim chee fried rice to keep giving me choices that are far from boring 🙂

It was a gray drizzly day, and after a fully day in the craziness of DTLA swerving to avoid pedestrians weaving in and out of numerous encampments of tent cities, I felt nauseous, both emotionally and physically. The new Playa Vista enclave Runway is nearly the polar opposite of DTLA; from the manicured play spaces for children and pets, to the wooden plank walkways that meander through restaurants and shops, this was like a breath of oxygen after being submerged in smog. I am not saying that I would want to live in Runway because I prefer a less curated environment, and one in which there are shops and restaurants which have no other sibling outposts across the city, state, or globe. I am glad I finally visited, walked, and ate here, and I would again.

We ate at R.O.C., which has the much smaller sibling on Sawtelle. Service was fantastic, and the food definitely had a Californian take, using fresh ingredients with middle of the road dishes and flavors that don’t venture too far into unknown anglo territory. It was not Michelin star quality, but better than many other Taiwanese restaurants.

Because I was feeling queasy, we began with an egg flower soup with tofu, bamboo shoots, and fresh herbs. It was a perfect comfort soup for a gray day, and it promptly settled my stomach enough to eat the chicken soup dumplings.

The tips of soup dumpling were a bit thick and hard, drying out and hardening more as they cooled, but the flavor was nice and they served it with freshly cut ginger with tableside black vinegar and soy (but you had to ask if you wanted any chili oil).

The vegetable potstickers came with pure hoisin sauce and chili sauce on the side. They were crisp and VERY hot, but the filling was a bit bland and definitely anglified chopped greens.

The stir fried baby bok choy were crunchy and tender, but the flavor was very light on the garlic and slightly sweet.

The pickles were fabulous! Brightly acidic and slightly spicy, we ate nearly the entire dish.

We also ordered the three cup chicken, which was done with all dark meat, and quite tasty, even with the slightly sweet sauce, it married the peppers, onions, and basil well.

It’s fun to explore the extremes of Los Angeles, from the frenetic pace of skid row to the fantasy land of a complex built to create a new neighborhood. There are good and bad aspects in both, just as there are good and bad aspects of all humans, wherever they live, play, and eat 🙂

I am an omnivore who likes almost everything except lima beans 🙂  Many of my friends are pescatarians, so finding places that offer delicious fish means more choices for everyone. I’ve heard good things about Urban Plates, so I tried their grilled wild albacore. It was a very generous portion for $13.50 and although all the ingredients were fresh, they were also plainly boiled or unseasoned, and unfortunately the vinaigrette did not perk things up.

After going to another location of King’s Fish House that was very disappointing, it was refreshing to go to the one in Victoria Gardens and find that everything was cooked with deft skills and served with a professional demeanor. The simple codfish and chips (substituted spinach for the chips) for $13.50,

and the grilled ahi with vegetable side and upgraded asparagus side for around $30 were executed perfectly, not overly done, and very generously portioned.

Sonny’s Bistro has a great lunch menu including the crunchy ahi salad for $14 that makes it a bargain for lunch. Because I love sand dabs and rarely find them on any menu, I ordered them here for $22 and devoured the plate along with a side salad that kept me satiated all day.

 

Sometimes all I need is a nice piece of grilled fish for a meal. A friend picked up a bento box for me along with an extra side of mackerel from At Home Kitchen. For only $6.50, this is a great alternative to cooking mackerel at home where you must deal with the smell and splatter.

I can count on one hand the people who are willing to wait for a table at Sushi Gen with me, but the ones who have the patience are rewarded with some of the freshest fish in Los Angeles. I always go for the chirashi at lunch, but if you are more traditional, the sushi deluxe or sashimi are equally good and none of them will serve you any of the crappy salmon that finds its way into most other sushi restaurants, and that alone is worth the wait!

 

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