Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stella Maris @ Paris

When in Paris, go for a Michelin starred meal. It was too good to miss, almost as if I went to Paris and missed Eiffel Tower. As a first attempt, I went for Stella Maris, a Michelin 1-starred restaurant instead of the much raved about Le Cinq, Guy Savoy or Le Meurice.

Stella Maris is hemmed by Chef Tateru Yoshino, it offers French cuisine done inventive style. Chef Yoshino has a chain of restaurants in Japan as well. He prides himself in serving food based on "the concept of Terre (Earth) cusine that involves preparing dishes as nature intended without disturbing their inherent beauty or essentiality".


A well-hidden restaurant despite its proximity to Arc Du Triomphe. With a stoke of ill luck and poor direction sense in foreign land, we ended up searching for this place for a good half an hour at least when it could have taken much less.

Finally at the doors of Stella Maris. It looked like a cozy outfit and was one. With a capacity of at most 20, the restaurant was fully booked for the weekend evening. Warmly greeted at the door, we had the pleasure of having a waiter to take our coats and show us to our seats on the second floor. Another takes over with the menu. And another comes over to take our beverage order. All in, there were 3 waiters shuffling up and down the stairs making sure every need was attended to.


Leather bound menus, very simply put together.

A pity the lighting was not too complementary for proper shots, these were the best I could. Thankfully, the ambiance at Stella Maris was not too atas nor rigid, diners chatted and laughed at ease. Adored the comfort available which is uncommon in local context...at least in comparison with places like Iggy's or even Garibaldi which I sat through lunch with a stiff back. We had the company of 2 other tables of Japanese who were probably there to show support to Chef


Complimentary parmesan cheese puffs were served after our orders were taken. These were fresh from the oven, piping hot. These lil baby buns were toasty and as suggested, very bite-sized. These are no ordinary puffs, a nibble reveals a waft of parmesan fragrance. Rich in taste and best of all, the puffs are bouncy. I laughed out loud when the deflated puffs bounced back to its original shape upon nibbling, like sponge infact.



Warm water that was served boiling hot...I'll forgive them since they were served in such gorgeous china.


Amuse Bouche of Beetroot Jelly, Parma Ham Chip, Blue Cheese and Passionfruit emulsion. I am a fan of beet to begin with. Love, love....looooooooooove the beetroot jelly! Cubes of beetroot embedded in beet jelly, the textures were wildly adored. I crazily love how the pungent blue cheese, salty parma ham chip, beet jelly and passionfruit emulsion created such awesome flavours despite sounding odd reciting aloud. Chef Yoshino did not tip the scales by going overboard but with such delicate balancing of flavours...I was already jumping for joy within.


Bread basket of White and Rye Bread as well as Cereal Buns were offered with French butter. The strangest bread would go to Rye Bread that looks uncannily like Sour dough bread...only more sour in fact so sour, I winced. The texture of the breads are too rough for pleasure which is unfortunate given that all the breads tasted in the bakeries had been mindblowingly good.


Does it not resemble a flying spaceship with biscuit wings? This was new on the menu. The tuna tartare was a tower made of fresh minced tuna and avocado puree beneath, not forgetting the crunchy bits. The mini tower itself was outstanding on its own, pleasing even a non-sashimi fan.

This was paired with cherry tomatoes and spring onions that were equally good.


Duo of foie gras that was an artpiece that had me gawking.

Another must try in France has to be foie gras...double delight when you get it done two ways! Foie gras at its finest, velvety smooth yet buttery in an unfathomable way. This has to be the best ever eaten. What brings the foie gras up a couple of notches? The liver bits that are embedded within the buttery mass which hints of the real stuff included.

Roasted pistachios and candied berries are strewn haphazardly but these are lovely enhancements of sweet and savoury.

See the toast at the side? It's a toasted fluffy wedge that can be used to wipe up the sticky sweet-salty-miso sauce at the side.



Lamb with innards and peas.

I found the lamb too salty and not as tender as I hoped. An overload of liver and innards here. A slight grouse here, the innards were barely cooked with traces of blood when sliced open.



Signature of Stella Maris, I had my reservations after Iggy's subpar "signature" performance coupled with me not being too huge a fish fan.

It arrived looking like a slab of salmon sashimi. How wrong was I. Smoked to such perfection, every mouth was a celebration of Chef Yoshino's Japanese origins. I love to death how he paired it with a blob of blue cheese and roe...daring experimentation I say! A wedge of lemon is provided to whet the appetite, a couple of drops made this more appetizing. Spy the poached tomatoes lurking behind? I lost the heart to the sweet tomatoes that have been so thoughtfully de-skinned and de-seeded.

And when you think the magic ends there...it does not.

What looked like a cross between bulbs and asparagus was coated so finely with tempura batter...I've not quite eaten such light tempura before.

I was expecting a palette cleanser but that did not come.


Away from the conventional french delight, Chef Yoshino infuses this with sweet potato coupled with a scoop of pistachio icecream and candied tomato. A slight grainy texture of the sweet potato creme brulee rivals the smooth creamed icecream...I say Ooh-la-la in appreciation.


Apple pastry with lemon sorbet was sublime! Easier on the palette than sweet potato creme brulee.


Complimentary petit fours.


Unique macarons attempted throughout the Paris leg of the trip. Honey centered these are!

I am sold on how he marries vegetables into his dishes and making them extraordinary...tomatoes were constantly used through most the dishes yet I did not get tired of them. Dinner was a 2.5 hour affair though paced leisurely, there were points I wished they did not leave us so alone (we were reading the menu for at least 15 minutes!) One star, a mini foray into the world of Michelin stars...without a doubt the quality is notches above with polished and finer tastes.

70€ for dinner

Stella Maris
4, rue Arsene Houssaye in Paris, 75008

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Class on SBahn Train from Frankfurt to Paris

Trains like airplanes have different class of travel. Apart from more leg space and comfy-er cabins, food is also provided on certain routes! For some providers, the difference between First and Second class is marginal. Enough horror stories about being robbed on trains, I booked ourselves first class travel from Frankfurt to Paris bearing in mind the number of luggages (that had grown exponentially with the days spent)  we had!


Breakfast that looked like it came from the kitchens of aircraft. Even the cutlery and plates matched! Unlike the commercial flights, there was no choice but just one offering. Cold cuts with cheese and bread rolls and yogurt drink.

After this trip, I learnt to appreciate cold food more. It was actually quite filling and delicious.


Pretzels for the peckish.

Not willing to sound like a noob but the facilities on first class are definitely way better than second class! Toilets included. :P

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Traditional German Breakfast @ Adler Hotel

Nothing beats homecooked breakfast and we had the privilege of traditional german breakfast at Hotel Adler, a friendly family run hotel.



Miss Wiki defines German breakfast.

The typical German breakfast consists of bread rolls, butter, jam, ham, soft-boiled eggs and coffee. Cereals have become popular, and regional variation is significant — cheeses, cold cuts, meat spreads, yogurt, granola and fruit (fresh or stewed) may appear, as well as eggs cooked to order (usually at smaller hotels or bed-and-breakfasts).

Let's see how authentic Hotel Adler's German breakfast is...


German cheeses...


Very cafe-like setting.


This is what I call a big breakfast.


German bread is worlds apart from French and Belgian, they are crispier and lighter but at the expense of dryer and coarser bread.


Loved the pate that I squeezed like toothpaste.


Muesli for the health conscious.


Yogurt that was significantly watered down, tasted almost like sauce.


Tested and proven.

Hearty breakfast served us well for a day of walking...homecooked and traditional. I was surprised there was no greasy food in sight, no omelettes nor bacon nor their famous frankfurters.

Hotel Adler

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hollhorst Konditerei @ Frankfurt, Germany


The curse of the droolsome window displays continued to follow us all the way to Frankfurt, giving us an added reason to check it out.


We met the quaintest, oddest, queerest counterstaff in the whole trip. She would listen for your order, move stealthily, pass you the order without ever murmuring a word nor looking at you. Perhaps she lived with a cat, perhaps she was shy...the encounter with her somehow was the highlight of the visit to this cakeshop.


Kaseltorte (1,90 €)

The cafe's got limited space for moving around, simply standing and eating. Supposedly cheesecake but this was miles away from Rothenburg's, it had a mousse-like texture instead and was on the bland side. Another tick down the list of to do; have tea at a cafe!

http://www.konditorei-hollhorst.de/ 

Hollhorst Konditerei  
Near Romer

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Snacks on Ebbelweiss Express


I'd fondly remember this particular Hop On Hop Off Bus in Frankfurt...it fulfilled all the childhood fantasies of hoping into a caravan with sparkly lights within and music that sounded off a broken recorder. I credit Enid Blyton for making the childhood fond and daydreaming second nature. Daydreaming termed "not paying attention" by teachers who would hover around me like hawks and frown in the most unapproving manner ever. Yet, to me it was a form of escaping from reality even if just for a while.

Ebbelweiss Express connected with me almost immediately when I saw it chugging down the tram lines.


6€ gets you a ticket ride for the day, a bag of pretzels and a bottle of drink! 

The conductor hobbled over with his leg in a cast, issued tickets from a wooden box and asks cheerily "Sparkling or Still? Apfelwein or Apple Juice?"



Crunchy pretzels for nibbling along the way whilst the tram takes you around Frankfurt, a pity though that you have to decipher the attractions on your own.


All I needed was sitting through the route three times to get slightly sick of the same over-excited accordion music and blinking carnival lights.

Do note that it operates only on public holidays and weekends!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Der Backer Eifler Le Cafe @ Hauptbanof Station, Frankfurt, Germany


I figure by the end of the 5 days spent in Frankfurt, we would have patronised all of the food outlets within Hauptbanof Main Station...the cafes cater alot to alot more takeaways than dining in somehow, given how everyone seems to dash in and out of the train station.


I could not resist an apple streusel bread to takeaway one evening which doubled up as supper. No major surprises though the streusel bits are the only bits that I relish, the dry bread was a letdown unfortunately.

Der Backer Eifler Le Cafe

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lion Chocolate Bars

Made by Nestle, Lion Bars are everywhere in Frankfurt. They dominate the candy department on the super mart shelves. Wafer, caramel and crisp cereal coated with chocolate makeths the Lion Bar. Travelling by train is the commonest mode of transport between cities and snacking on board the trains was a "must do" for me...just like popcorn or kachang puteh and movies.


Hop on to the dark side....


Thick and rich...the chocoholic was nodding in delight.


Limited edition White Lion! Was uber thrilled to find the white version after watching the chocoholic chomp hers down whilst I winced in envy.


Deeeeeelish! Surprisingly, despite the copious amounts of sweetened ingredients this was barely cloying! Loved the crunchy cereal within...I wish I lugged back a box of these!

0,7€, dark Lion
1,4€, white Lion 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Bagel Brothers @ Frankfurt, Germany


Finding Bagel Brothers was by no means an easy task battling both the weather and trying to gauge the distance from Google Maps (though thusfar it had proven itself one of the bestest travelmates ever...how more primative can it get in the era of GPRS systems?) Lo and behold, when the orange letters were spied from afar, I was leaping for joy...!

Oh yes, does not help at all when all shops were closed on a public holiday. Finding food is as good as it gets sharpening your hunger instincts. Bagel Brothers are red hot popular in Frankfurt and of course, we jumped into the band wagon!


Bagel-delic!


Sundried tomato bagel to munch on!


Lucky Bagel (3,40 €)


Chives, bacon, cream cheese, omelette...hearty breakfast! I adore how the bagels are chewy and dense, gives bread a whole lot more bite! These bagels give a whole lot more meaning to hearty breakfast and to think at one point, I thought Mcdonald's Big Breakfast was IT.

http://www.bagelbrothers.com/

Bagel Brothers

Friday, July 23, 2010

Asia Snack @ Hauptbanof, Frankfurt


Yet another Asian stall within Hauptbanof Main Station for those who miss home-cooked food or simply the adventurous. Yes, you guessed right...the Dad supported this stall for two nights in a row. They offer a wider variety of chinese eats, more like our version of cai peng but all dishes are meat and rice. Managed by a bunch of chinese migrants, it was a weebit more comforting to find familiarity abroad. Those who patronized this stall were largely tourists and fellow chinese based in Frankfurt.


A simple stir fried chicken, leeks and rice (4€) that pleased the Dad greatly. A decent attempt I must add, especially with the fluffy rice though not entirely the same as the local grains but mix in a bit of homesickness, it was fuzzy-warm-delicious.

Asia Snack
Hauptbanof Station

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Asiagourmet @ Hauptbanof Station, Frankfurt, Germany


Chopsticks and takeaway boxes sparked off an interest in Asian food in Europe. I know...I know...I should never attempt Asian food in a Non-Asian country. The Dad has a queer diehard China-man mentality (no matter where he is, think Singapore Fried Rice in Korea!) and lucky or not..his persistence always brings us on food adventures.


The takeaway box that is uber duper mega cute! The kinda that Spotlight sells for wedding favours. Opened by a Vietnamese, the noodles are wokfried with a large pair of chopsticks and are then repackaged in these cute boxes.

One word: Ack.

Sweet and sour soggy noodles, in short. To think the Germans slooshed and slurped them up in the most oiishii manner ever whilst waiting for the trains...I must have been deluded.

Asiagourmet

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ditsch Takeaway @ Hauptbanof, Frankfurt


From Frankfurt to Wurzburg, Ditsch is a familiar name. Like Panos in Brussels and Paul in Paris, Ditsch is Germany's answer. Breakfast-lunch-dinner, the queues are neverending..it seems as if at any one point in time, people are hungry!


I wish I knew they were THAT known for pretzels but I attempted their pizzas instead. Sold in jackets like these, made perfect for walking and eating without greasing the fingers. Sheer comfort food it was though it does not score well in the bread texture department - lacking the crusty and toasty bite a Pizza should have.

http://www.ditsch.de/en

Ditsch

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beok & Zeit @ Rothenburg, Germany


Cafes like these are plentiful in Germany...well in fact Europe as a whole. No matter what time of the day, no matter which day of the week...people will be seen taking a sip by the streets with a cigarette in hand or simply soaking in the sun with a slice of cake. Leisure is what I crave for especially more so after the trip!


Schwarzwalder Kirchtorte (1,90€)

Blackforest cake is what its normally known as, unbeknownst to most it actually hails from South Germany.

The cake is named after the mountain range in south-western Germany but the local specialty liquor distilled from tart cherries called Schwarzwälder Kirschwasser, or abbreviated Schwarzwälder Kirsch, the ingredient that gives the cake a special kick, due to the distinctive cherry pit flavor and the alcoholic content. - Wiki oh wiki...what would I do without you?

So the alcohol differentiates the German version from the rest.

Wonderfully layered chocolate sponge with fresh cream, cherry jell-o and liquored cherries, this was divine.



Quarkkuchen (1,45€)

Another German specialty...a german version of cheesecake! Quark is a type of cheese that is made by warming sour milk, alternatively it is known as cottage cheese. This had a lovely foamy texture (heavier than Japanese cheesecake)...it is a hybrid of American and Japanese cheesecake in fact. Not too cloying...





Pretzel

I enjoyed the tea so much and was definitely stuffed but another pretzel would not hurt. Served as a great chewy snack on the way back to Frankfurt!


Lemon Schneeball

Ahh..the last schneeball of the trip. Lemon and schneeballs are perhaps the bestest combination after hazelnut.


Leisurely tea...one that was long deserved. Unforgettable indeed.

Beok & Zeit