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Enough of traveling news huh? May be sharing a dish I did recently to keep the gourmet style of the blog going on.

Braising and roasting are probably my favorite cooking method because its so easy and you don’t have to watch the the fire, or constantly flipping your meat while cooking. When I have plenty of time to cook and feeling lazy, why not roast – a leg of lamb may be!

 

Leg of Lamb, rinse, pat dry, season ( salt and pepper, your choice of herb )

Brown all sides with high heat

Remove from pan after browning. Throw in vegetables ( onions, carrots, and potatoes ) and season with salt and pepper. Let the vegetable cooked in the pan for awhile to absorb the fat and juice from the lamb. Add a little water, stock, or red wine if browning starts to stick to the pan.

Put the leg of lamb back in the pan, add tomato, wine, and stock. Continue to simmer.

Let simmer til veggie starts to soften, add more herb, parsley if you wish, and squeeze juice of a lemon in the soup. Cut up your squeezed lemon in half or quarters and throw in it with the soup. Turn up your over a little higher than normal, may be 170 C or 175 C. Continue to roast.

It took probably a little more then 2 hours to cooked. But you can judge the doness base on the size of the meat. It’s good when meat is falling apart from the bone.  Don’t let cook to dry so you have some juice for dipping your baguette!

Voila! Looking juicy! A very satisfying meal.

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Our long weekend trip to Prauge is soon ending. As I am writing, we are waiting in the Praha Holesovice station for our overnight train back to Paris. We left on a thursday night train, and it took us 18 travelling hours, including transfer and layover, to get here in Prauge in a bright and beautiful friday morning.

We were lucky enough to get in the bunk bed compartments this time. I would like to advice a quick travelling tip for other bear travellers out there; This is a sincere warning to all who travels in Europe; if you are planning to go on an overnight train ride somewhere, try to get a bed, really. It is a little more expensive then reclining seats, but its way worth it. Our last trip to Berlin was also an overnight train but the bed space were sold out, so we had to go with the reclinings. It was a DISASTER. The design of the compartment is absolutely ridiculous. Trying to squeez 6 people in a tiny glass cube is not the best solution for an overnight train ride. So get yourself a bed. We got the ones that are in the six bed compartment. It’s not the most luxurious but the cheapest and gives you a humane space to sleep, a BED.

Our adventure in Prauge begins right after we settled our luggages in the hostel. I was stupid enough not to bring my camera with me for the first day when we went to most of the important sites. But oh-well. I got the rest of the days covered.

Our traveling kit

The city of Prauge is picturesque. Everywhere you go, if you put a frame aroud, it it’s a painting. Wandering around the city, mainly the historically preserved zone (probably circled in green on your tourist map), its hard not to run into one of those lively public squares, intricately detail building facades, glorious clock tower, or monumental medival architectures. One of those always pop up just about every other corner you turn.


But once awhile you would encounter with some rare modern architecture poping out in a line of traditional buildings. Mr. Gehry, what a pleasant surprise to run into you in such old charming city of Prague.


We’ve crossed the river many times during our stay and we decided to get on a peddle boat for a little while in the afternoon and get a good view of the city on water.


We saw the ugly duckling!!

There are plenty of museums in Prague. Some small, such as the Museume of Torture, Museum of Wax we went, which I don’t really recommend; some prestige, like the Museum Nationale, which unfortunally was closed for construction during our visit. But in the museum hall there are mini classical music concert being held every other night. It was not an extremely formal concert. Seats were set up on the grand staircase of the entrace hall of the museum. We went to the one of Vivaldi, Mozart, Bach, and Dvorak by the Prague Instrumental Soloists group. It was professional and worth it only for the view of the interior of the museum.

And finally there were musuems that were bold and modern, such as the Artbanka of AMoYA Museum of Young Art and the DOX/Centre for Contemporary Art. The later which I highly recommend is a farely new museum, but the exhibition space was very interesting.

Restaurants and Recommendations! It is always my favorite part of writing about restaurants because I can go back to my yummy pictures and re-experience my deliecious moments.

Cafe Savoy, serve some exepctiaonal czech inspired cuisine, lured us to visit twice, once for breakfast and the other dinner.

Address:  Vítězná 124/5  150 00 Prague 5-Malá Strana, Czech Republic

Breakfast

Algerian Coffee

Parissien Breakfast

Omelete Savoy

Dinner

Sear Tuna with Beets

Beef Tartar

Strawberry Czech Dumpling (dessert)

Cafe Imperial, it is a cafe/restaurant located in the Imperial Hotel. We only went for breakfast, which was cheap for the kind of atmosphere. The entire interior of the cafe were covered with some very delicate tileworks. It looks like they serve fine meal for lunch and dinner too, but we didn’t have the chance to experience it.

Address: Prague Imperial Hotel  Na Poříčí 15, 110 00 Prague 1  Czech Republic

Sir Toby’s Hostel. Again, for budget travellers, this one is highly recommended. The atmosphere of the hostel is great with unique deco. We reserved a double private chambre (toilet shared with one other room) this time for a decent price. The room was decorated very simply and with vintage touches. A very cozy lounge located at the basement where they serve drinks and food, and you can also just relax and chill if you want to. A Huge kitchen is open for everybody to use provided with some basic ingredients such as salt and pepper and other seasonsings. A cute backyard where they host parties and free barbuecue in different days of the weeks. Staffs are very helpful, nice, and CUTE! Most importantly, it is very clean through out the entire hostel. Though price is adjusted by seasons, I think the quality of this hostel is WAY beyond a low cost hotel probably in any season. I always think that “better no design than wrong design.” Some cheap hotels or vacation rentals just make you MAD for the kind of interior they put up, trying to put as much crap as possible try looking “luxury,” “modern” or other hotel like discriptions. Quality hostel can really surprise you sometimes with their friendness and unique design.

It was a pleasant journey in Prauge after all. However it is a little off from what both of us were imagining before we saw the city. Aparently we both have very different images of Prague in our head before the visits, but we both touched on the point where we imagined Prauge to be old and untouched everywhere. It was beautiful but it wasn’t as “untouched” as I imagined it would be. We would often see people re-painting building facades and sometimes adding on details. Of cause most of the major historical sites were kept as original as possible, but I cannot help going around wondering how clean and new a lot of the seem to be historical looking building facades were kept. I cannot really tell whether its a good thing or bad thing the way people going around “keeping the building nice and clean,” but I personally would like to see the unpainted version of the buildings, because after all, this is what we are here for, the originality of culture and architecture. The sad part of it is Prauge IS slowly turning very touristy. Like in the old town square, though architectures were beautiful, it is obvious that restaraunts and cafes are mainly doing tourism business, so they don’t care about their food quality. To me it’s almost impossible to find a good restuarant that does not serve tourist food in the square. Shops are almost all souvenir style and none really represent the local culture of Prauge. Within the entire historical district of Prauge, you can easitly witness that everything is tourist oriented. I really hope that the original charm of Prauge will not be lost within all this bullshit tourism cosumer culture. Otherwise it will just be terribly sad and once again proving this idiotic human “ability” to distroy something exceptional that we had once built.

Cheers!




This last post of Berlin is mainly to share with you some recommandations of mine. Berlin is really an amazing city and there are certainly things that I don’t want you to miss if any of you are happen to be traveling to Berlin anytime soon or in the future. It will be too selfish of me to keep it to myself for some of the most wonderful things I experienced in this magical city. So here you go:

1. The Alternative Tour of Berlin. This is a MUST. A large portion of my last post was dedictated to this tour. I saw and learned so much about Berlin just because of this tour. You may go back to my previous post “Alternative Berlin” for some picture previews if you are interested.

2. The Sunday Market in Mauer Park. One of my favorite thing about europe is the public market culture. I visit all of the markets if I know there is one reachable anywhere I go. The Mauer Park Sunday Market is probably the BEST one i’ve been to so far. It is not only a gigantic market, the variety of venders are as impressive. In the middle of the tightly packed venders, there are also beach bars with bouncy music and cooling drinks! This IS the Berliners’ way of rolling. This sunday market is definatly a party! On every sunday, not only markets are set up but also a kareoke in the middle of the park. Speakers and microphones are set up under beach umbrellas. Layers of crowds are watching the kareokes sitting on stairs. Everybody can go on the stage and perform your famous songs to the crowd. We’ve seen some pretty brave and amazing “singer” up there, of all age! Visit to the Mauer Park was definately one of the best day we had in Berlin.

Address: Gleimstraße 55  10437 Berlin, Germany

Area: Prenzlauer Berg

Mauer Park Kareoke

3. A Gourmet Journey at the 6th floor of KaDeWe. KaDeWa is probaly the biggest department store in mainland Europe (not including England). I was not so intrested in shopping in a department store, but I would never turn down a gourmet trip. On the 6th and 7th floor of KaDeWe, there is a glorious food court with some of the finest dishes you could ever find in a food court! It is nothing like food courts in your everyday shopping mall! May be if you’ve been to Harrots in London it’s a little similar to that, but to me KaDeWe was THE HEAVEN. Saussage, fois gras, dry goods, currywust, antipasti, hor d’ourves, gourmet beer, just about anything you can think of. It is not far of a walk away from the Bauhaus Archive, which is also one of my recommandation of Berlin. Get a snack or even lunch at the KaDeWe after your Bauhaus trip would simply make your day perfect in Berlin!

Address: Tauentzienstraße 21  10789 Berlin, Germany

Area: Between Wittenbergplatz and Breitscheidplatz

Currywust with sauerkraut

Antipasti Platter

4. Bauhaus Archive. This is probaly my favorite out of all the museums we visited through out the trip in Berlin. I’ve mentioned about it in my “Monumental Berlin” post, so I might not go into too much detail of it again. But the architecture, along with the amazing variety of collection in this archive worth every minute and penny to visit. Bauhaus is the official beginning of school/institutes of design. Most of the industiral design products took off from the time of Bauhaus. If this is your area of interests, the Bauhaus Archive will not let you down.

Address: Klingelhöferstraße 14  10785 Berlin, Germany

Note: Bring your student card for student discount!

The above four are what I would consider the MUSTS of berlin. I am going to mention some of the best restaurants/cafes we had in the trip. If you are close by those districts may be you might want to swing by.

5. Anna Blume. Food was gorgeous; price is suprisingly cheap! But really is the quality of the food makes the price seem so unbelievable. We went there for breakfast on our first day of arrival. We stay at a hostel in the center of Mitte so it was a nice walk to Anna Blume. Menu is all German (like most of the restaurants in Berlin) but all of the waiters speaks very good english. And just by pointing at other tables, there will be no problem getting youselve a beautiful petit dejeuner!

– Photo to be uploaded –

Address: Kollwitzstr. 83  10435 Berlin, Germany

English Info: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187323-d948161-Reviews-Cafe_Anna_Blume-Berlin.html

6. Baeckerei. A small cafe tucked in a corner of a quiet street. It is actually a cafe opened by the restaurant across the street called Alpenstock.  Breakfast was simple and delicious. Though there were only three different platers to choose from for savory side (mainly cheese and chacuterie platers), their pastry bar is fascinating.

Address: Gartenstraße 9  10115 Berlin, Germany

7. Hofbräu Berlin (beer garden). We LOVED this place! I was told that beer gardens are one of the most popular type of restos of the Germans. It is a HUGE restaurant set out with mostly communal tables. In the middle of the restaurant there is life band performance. Dance floor in front of the band was PACKED and ROARING for the entire night! Everybody in the restaurants were singing along and almost every table is dancing in or outside of the dance floor in between their courses! It makes me so happy just sitting there and watch because everybody there were enjoying themselves so much. I wished I knew what they were singing so I could laugh along! Food was not bad but nothing extraordinary, but everything was cheap and selection was wide. I was happy that they had non-alchoholic beer so I could actually join the party! I believed that there are beer gardens everywhere in Berlin. We went to this one because it was right next to our hostel. But it was bad after all!

Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 30 10178 Berlin

My non alcoholic beer. It’s embarrassing but oh well.

8. PangeaPeople Hostel & Hotel.  I really want to mention about the hostel we stayed in for the trip. If you are looking for a budget accomandation on the road, P Hostel is not a bad choice. We’ve been travelling so much and trying to avoid going bankrupt with all the other upcoming trips and a wedding in the summer to plan, we’ve decideded that hostels are the best way to go. I am picky in the cleaness of places I stayed, and PP Hostel was definately one of the cleanest that I’ve ever been to. We stayed in a 6 bed mix dorm, but they also have private rooms with of course a high price. Everything is very clean, service is exellent, staffs are helpful, location is great (center of Mitte), room size is decent, price is very reasonable. Their breakfast buffet was not worth it though for a 5 euro per day. But do consider if this is the type of accomadation you are going for, its decent and most importantly very clean and friendly. NOTE: NOT FOR LUXURY TYPE.

Address:  Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 34, 10178 Berlin, Germany ( less than 5 min walk to AlexanderPlatz)

Booking: PangeaPeople Hostel & Hotel

After travelling around for almost a year now, Berlin is so far one of my fave after London. I could actually see myself moving here if we ended up not being able to afford to survive in London in the future.

Alors. Enough blabing of Berlin, we are acutally waiting for our train transfer in Koln continue on to Prague now. Stay tune for some Eastern European travel stories. Cheers.

One of the best thing about being an immigrant is that you can constantly brag about food in your home country. While bragging how unbelievably different and delicious they are, you can also exaggerate the complexity of the cooking techniques for a certain dish that which in fact very simple but no body has ever heard of in this new country that you are now living in. As a Chinese who had lived in Canada, and the States and now Paris, and soon London, I have the privilege to brag with everybody food that I grew up with. Once awhile, I feel obligated to spread the greatest Chinese food culture to the world. But sometime, I just really needed that home dish to keep me going. Such as this night. I really wanted this porc belly braise dish which is the all time fave of the family on my father’s side. We called it “Kou Rou.” I don’t know the translations for that and I also don’t have the family secret recipe for it. I’ve made many different versions of “Kou Rou” myself. It’s not always fabulous but there were glorious times. This night, I just really needed some kou rou. But Chinese ingredients are no where near to find. So I made a not-real-straight-up-chinese-version of kou rou to hold my crave for the night. I replaced a lot of ingredients with what I can find here in a paris home. But also lacked A LOT of very important magics for the dish. Oh well. I did it and it reminded me of home anyway.

First put the cut up pork belly in water, add ginger slices, and cloves, bring to boil.  This process is to get rid of the bad pig smell/taste of the pork.

Drained water after boiling. Rinse under cold water and make sure no white foamy stuff sticking on the pork.

Bring pot/deep pan to high heat with a little bit of oil, sear your pork. Get them brown on the surface.

Add soy sauce, black or sweet vinegar, hot red peppers, brown sugar, a can of coke or sprite, whole cloves of garlics, dry bay leaves, 2 cloves, and ginger slices. add a little bit of water or stock till nearly covers the surface of pork.   Note that even though most of these are not what we normally would use in this dish, you can replace a thing by your creativity but the soy sauce HAS TO be right. Most of the stuff they sell in western super market are no good. Look for Lee Kum Kee brand which is more common to be in big super market. Or at least pick the one with least english on it.

Braise slowly with low heat for two to three hours. Put hard boil eggs in to absorb some juice. Don’t over cook your eggs, as always.

I intended cooked the eggs with a semi runny yolk. I did not do the best just there. But it was still orange and sticky. May be next time I will do better. Serve with rice. Hopefully next time I can find some right ingredients and make you a real version of Kou Rou!

Ok. This museum section of the post is actually a sequel of the last entry. After we visited Musee d’Art Moderne, we continued our adventure to the Palais de Tokyo, which is literally conjoins with the former. But the two museum space/interior is completely different. Almost in the most extreme contrast.  Musee d’Art Moderne has a very clean, clear, minimal space. Palais de Tokyo was very “minimal” but to an extend that it’s almost raw. The artworks houses in this museum are very contemporary. There is also a superb bookstore right at the entrance of the museum. Everything in this museum is exposed, the brick walls, the structures, the columns, and the lighting tracks. Nothing is covered or “refined.” It’s really beautifully raw. Loved it.

I would go back again if I have time. I was more excited about the space then the artworks to be honest.

That’s about it for the day. We are actually off to Berlin in…. 15 min. Just wanted to say good bye to you all. We will have fun.

Time for some l’art moderne eh? Yesterday we visited Musée D’Art Moderne De La Ville De Paris. Heard so much cool things about this museum and  was excited to finally be here. The  museum space itself is very amazing. It is minimal and clean which I learned that it was actually due to running short on financial support, didn’t turn out bad.

Other than the permanent collection, we were also here for the Robert Crumb exhibition. I have never been a fan of comics but the exhibit was beyond fabulous. We spent probably 2 hours just in this one room, it was worth every penny and second!  Crazy person daring work!

Robert Crumb

Alex is in the kitchen for roast whole chicken ce soir. Oh and it’s roasted with a veggie feast!  So Easy! Get Ready!

Start with your vegetables. We’ve got let see… cauliflowers, long green peppers, tomatoes, carrots,   onions, and whole cloves of garlic in here. Season well and put the pot in the over. Start roasting!

Meanwhile rub chicken inside out with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  Pour in about half cup of vinaigrette (depending on the size of the chickie) in the chicken belly.

Put chicken on top of the veggies. Roast together. Let the juice and fat of the chicken come out slowly and mix with the veggies.

Roast till chicken skin turn golden!

Vegetables are now bathing in a juicy broth.

We actually roasted the chicken 2 times because we didn’t want to over cook the breast. So we cut out the breast first when it was JUST cooked and eat while we wait for the rest of the chicken to be roasted a little more.

Then finally I get my yummy thigh… smooth and juicy!

For those who are as excited to see these pictures as I am right now uploading my day INSIDE Villa Savoye, I don’t think I need to tell you more about this master piece of modern architecture.

I present to you – Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier.

Villa Savoye – A machine for living.

This trip cost us 3 hours of total travel time, 20 euro on train tickets, 5 euro for snack, and 2 stupid fight in the middle of the street, top with hard core screaming. Still worth it, very so worth it. It’s one of those days you know. You have an amazing morning seeing some gorgeous building, and in the afternoon you just happen to want to fight with your boyfriend or husband. You go home with a crappy mood and a mild headache, starving at the same time. What you/ I need is a warm, easy, fast, homey dinner. Vegetable feast stew.

Chopped onions and 3-4 whole cloves of garlic. Saute till onions become transparent.

Zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower, tomato, green/red/yellow pepper, dry and fresh herbs. ALL IN THE POT!

Add hot sauce and tomato sauce. Add chicken broth until barely covers veggie. Let simmer till veggie and soft and juice reduced.

Serve with rice.

Wasn’t a bad day after all.

Let’s start cooking some sliced mushrooms and julienned onions. Season well.

Let cook slowly with low heat.

While mushrooms are cooking. Rub steak with salt and pepper. Heat up another pan, sear both sides of the steak. Make sure to hear “sssssszzzzzzzz”. Do not leave it in for too long!

Take out steak as soon as color turn nice and lightly brown with high heat, set aside. Let the heat carry over to cook thru a little bit.

Smash blue cheese on steak, let melt slowly. Meanwhile, use the same pan to toss up some veggie with juice and fat left from the meat.

When mushroom and onions are nice, brown and caramelized, slice butter to add creaminess.

Nice and cheesy…

Until next time.