Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"In a Perfect Situation"

Playing: Buddy Holly-Weezer
Reading: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Second time!)
Left to Right: Sarah, Me, Hannah, and Austin
Last Friday, my friends and I caught Weezer at the OC Fair. Our original plan was to watch Modest Mouse at the US Open of Surfing and then see Weezer, but then the reality of what a completely psychotic idea that was hit us and only Austin went to both. The traffic for both are some of the worst in Orange County and then when you try to do both with only an hour between both concerts, we realized it was nearly impossible with our luck. Sarah, Hannah, and I ended up hanging out at the fair for bit, looking at goats and other farm animals, before going to the concert.
The concert itself was really good and I highly recommend going to see them. The lead singer, Rivers Cuomo, was really adorable during his performance and he was actually quite funny too, making up little songs about Orange County. They sang all of my favorite songs and I really liked the part in "Perfect Situation," when he's wailing because the whole crowd joined in, so we all sounded like banshees and it was hilarious.
After the concert, Austin, being the concert genius that he is, figured out where to wait to meet Weezer. By the time we got there, the bassist and drummer had already left, but we got to talk to Brian Bell as he was driving away with his family. Then we waited for awhile and we saw Rivers Cuomo stepping into his car, so we called out to him and he came over to meet us. He was so friendly and seemed a bit shy, but it was fun to see him in his knee high striped socks, running sneakers, khaki shorts, hoodie, and baseball cap.
Here's just another photo of us after the other fans swarmed him. There weren't that many fans around until we called him up, so I apologize ahead of time to Rivers in case he didn't want to meet that many fans and we pushed it upon him. We all got our tickets autographed by him and Sarah gave him a gift of a lollicup with a scorpion inside. I really wished he was wearing his glasses though because he's more identifiable with them on and because people wearing glasses (like him and me) have a natural bond with each other. Plus, then he looks like one of Forrest Kline's relatives. Thanks for reading this because I know this post is rather irrelevant unless you like Weezer.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Paris Day V

Playing: Good News For People That Love Bad News (Full Album)-Modest Mouse
Reading: World War Z by Max Brooks
My family and I took a day trip to the Palace of Versailles, which is surprisingly easy to do. All you have to do is buy a ticket for the SNCF and stay on the train until the last stop. The Paris Pass worked for Versailles too, but you had to stand in line for around two hours anyway, since everyone buys their ticket ahead of time. The palace itself is splendid and there are many incredible works of art inside. However, there are only two food options inside: an expensive cafe and a cheap sandwich place. Therefore, I suggest getting through the palace before lunch and eating in the gardens.
The garden was my favorite part of Versailles. Normally, the Paris Pass covers this too, but during the summer, they play classical music, so you have to pay. The garden itself is beautiful and very well kept. It made me feel like I was in Pride and Prejudice or in Anna Karenina, so basically, I felt like I was in a very wonderful Keira Knightley film. I heard that there is a masquerade ball held yearly at Versailles, so any boy that is willing to take me to it is welcome. I'm not exaggerating when I say that this is the type of place that makes you want a huge ball gown.
Within walking distance from the gardens are Marie-Antoinette's Estate and the Grand Trianon (pictured above). I'm not sure how much it costs to go inside of them, but I got in for free because of the Paris Pass again. I wouldn't recommend visiting Marie-Antoinette's Estate, if you have to pay because the estate is pretty much empty and it's just like a cement block. I do recommend eating crepes by the lake though. The Grand Trianon however is worth visiting, since it's decorated nicely and the gardens are beautifully done. Also, the checkered floor reminds me of Mr. Darcy's home in Joe Wright's version of Pride and Prejudice.
Before heading back, I stopped by a McDonald's and French McCafe is so much better than what I have in the states. Their McCafe serves lemon tarts, caneles, crème brûlées, cheese cakes, molten chocolate cakes, and of course, macarons. Since they were fairly inexpensive, I got two of each flavor: vanille, framboise, pistache, chocolat, fraise, and what I believe to be pistache chocolat. I actually got a box before my trip to Ladurée and thought they were rather good, but after the Ladurée ones, I found the ones from McCafe to be a bit chewy and heavy. The insides were either strongly flavored jams or overly whipped and fluffy creams. However, they're still better than a majority of the macarons I've had in California.
For dinner, we ate like total tourists along the Champs-Elyseés at Café di Roma, where I ordered the Thon et Asperges. Overall, the pizza was completely average, but I give them credit for trying different toppings from your common pepperoni and cheese. The tuna was stronger than all the rest of the flavors, so that you didn't taste the asparagus, dried tomatoes, or pesto very much. However, the Orangina made up for everything. There was a boy around my age drinking wine and he reminded me that I could legally drink there, so from then on, I started ordering beers and wines. Note to self: champagne is the most tolerable.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Paris Day IV

Playing: Perfect Situation-Weezer 
Reading: Vogue August 2013
Beginning our day early, my family and I walked down to the docks of Bateaux-Mouches, which we unfortunately mistook for the Batobus. We ended up on a Bateaux-Mouches hour long tour along the River Seine. No one listened to the tour or rather I didn't listen to the tour because a hoard of Chinese tourists were surrounding me and I couldn't hear anything that well. I was also confused as to how I lost my family and became one with a tour group. Even though it was a mistake, the tour made me realize that it would be really nice to live in Paris and study there for maybe a summer or a semester.
After the tour, we actually made it to the Batobus. During the walk there, I saw these adorable boats that people live on. I haven't read Little Bo in France for along time, so correct me if I'm mistaken, but I think Bo and her owner lived in one of these. Living on one of these boats seems like such a charming way to live, but it's probably been highly romanticized by books and sad movies just like having a tragic artist for a boyfriend has been romanticized...
The main reason we took the Batobu was because Le Quartier Latin was too far away from our hotel to walk to. Before we explored countless churches including, but not limited to, St. Severune, Le Pantheon, and St. Sulpiche, we grabbed lunch at a small cafe called Le Twickenham, where I ordered Le Fricassée de Volaille Sauce Normande Tagliatelles. There was nothing particularly French about this dish and it tasted just like Thanksgiving turkey with gravy over the pasta. It wasn't an astounding meal, but it was good enough and the service was friendly.
We also went through Le Quartier de Luxembourg to visit the Luxembourg Palace and gardens. The gardens were beautiful and you could rent little, wooden sail boats to sail in the fountains. It's a fun area to hang out in and the Medici fountain is very pretty. It's right down the street from Le Pantheon and super easy to find just like everything else in Paris. (Paris was a very navigable city.)
The churches took hours to go through and if you've been to one or two of these small, European churches, you've pretty much seen them all. Trust me, I've been to dozens of these churches since I was in elementary school and it doesn't matter if it's Italy, England, Ireland, Spain, or France, they're all the same and blend in after awhile. Go see the ridiculously famous ones like Notre Dame and Sagrada Familia, but skip the small ones. One of the noticeable bridges that we walked past while heading back to the Batobus is the Pont de l'Archeveche, which is famous for its "love locks." It's one of the things that makes Paris super romantic and if I ever come here with a boy friend/fiancee/husband, I'll probably do this.
When we got back to our hotel at the end of the day, we decided to try Chez André. It always had a long line, so we assumed it had to be good. When in France, you have to try their French onion soup, right? Even though this is the most expensive French onion soup I have ever had, it was also probably the best French onion soup I've ever had. The broth was incredibly creamy from what I'm guessing is marrow, while the cheese's tangy flavors helped to make the dish less heavy.
Along with the French onion soup, I ordered the Avocado Tartare with Crab and Grapefruit Segments. This was also really good, but it would've been better if it was served with some bread to use as a sort of spread or dip. I found the avocado to be very liquid-y and hard to eat without using a spoon. However, they gave you a fair amount of crab and the sourness of the grapefruit helped to cut down the richness of the creamy avocado. I'm hoping to get out a non-Paris related post out soon about a concert I'm going to or possibly a haul that way I don't overwhelm you with my trip.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Paris Day III

Playing: Oxford Comma-Vampire Weekend
Reading: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Before going on the trip, I made breakfast reservations at Ladurée, which were rather unnecessary. If you want to eat in the cafe part of Ladurée, you can pretty much walk right in and they have a table ready. I ordered Le Pain Perdu Tiède Ladurée with the Chocolat Chaud Ladurée. Le Pain Perdu Tiède Ladurée was some of the best French toast I've ever had. It was light and fluffy without being too sweet. Originally, I was skeptical of its plain appearance, but I highly recommend it. The hot chocolate is intensely rich and worth trying, but by my second cup, it was too much. 
Of course, I had to order some macarons at Ladurée before leaving. I ordered the Framboise, Marie Antoinette, Citron, Petal de Rose, Sel du Caramel, Fruit Rouge, Cafe, Vanille, Chocolat de Ghana, Fraise Menthe, Pistache, and Melon. Vanille was by far the best macaron I have ever had, but the Citron is very good too. After having a macaron at Ladurée, I have to admit that all the macarons I have ever had just don't even come close and I find it hard to eat macarons in California now.
After breakfast, my family and I walked to Le Petit Palais, which was absolutely incredible. The building itself was beautiful and completely lit by natural light, while the inside housed some lovely paintings, pottery, and sculptures. Inside the courtyard is quite pretty and would make an amazing area to sit around in for afternoon tea.
Afterwards, we visited Les Invalides, which had a very impressive WWII exhibit. My brother and dad have been subjecting me to war museums all my life, so it's gotten to a point, where I'm rather content at one and actually enjoy it. Napoleon's tomb is right behind Les Invalides too, so you should definitely check that out. Le Musée Rodin is worth visiting, since it's so close to Les Invalides. Also, it's set up in an old hotel and surrounded by beautiful gardens. However, the museum has a really creepy sound track of people wailing and moaning going on at all times.
Recommended by my friend, Katrina, Cafe Constant was our next stop for a very late lunch. The waitress forgot to give our order to the chef, so we sat around for about 40 minutes before our meals even came. The Foie Gras was good, but considering how much we paid, I felt a bit ripped off that we only got one slice of it. The bread it was served on was buttery and fluffy, which was preferable to the plain toast we got at other restaurants.
Katrina recommended the Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter and Mashed Potatoes specifically, so I had to try it. I enjoyed the crispy skin on the chicken and it was nice having some fresh red onions and tarragon to top off the potatoes. The main problem I had with this place was the slow service, which was probably an abnormality on their part, and the small portions. The food was good though and they made up for the slow service by offering complimentary dessert.
We could see Le Tour Eiffel from Cafe Constant, so we just kept on walking towards it. It was so crowded at the base of Le Tour Eiffel that I quickly ran off to the park by it for better photos. Since it was so crowded, we decided against going up it. Afterwards, we walked around the River Seine and by then it was close to dinner time, so we started to look around for a place to eat.
We ended up at Le Wilson, where I ordered the Quiche Avec Legumes et Saumon. Somehow Le Wilson managed to get a ridiculously creamy texture out of the broccoli they put in their quiche and I don't even like broccoli, but this was really good. I liked how every bite of the quiche came with a large chunk of salmon too. Overall, a great day and I wish I could go back to Paris right away.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Paris Day II

Playing: Sweater Weather-The Neighborhood
Reading: Le Vogue Collections Automne/Hiver 2013
On my first full day in Paris, I went to the Musée du Louvre with my family.We bought the Paris Pass ahead of time that way we would save money, since we go to literally museum after museum. However, since I'm under 18, I technically get into most exhibits for free, but we still bought it for me that way we wouldn't have to wait in long lines. Le Louvre is a great museum, but it is overwhelming.  With only a limited amount of time in Paris, we went to the most famous works of art like La Jaconde, Venus de Milo, etc. and to the Napoleonic apartments, which were great.
For lunch, I ate a Quiche Lorraine and an Orangina from the quickest option available, Le Comptoir du Louvre. As far as museum food goes, this was rather good. While in Paris, I just wanted to try all the stereotypical French foods first that are either hard to get where I live or are poorly made. I also went a bit nuts with the Orangina during the trip and since I'm of legal drinking age, I tried some alcoholic beverages too. After lunch, we explored Le Louvre a bit more before walking around in Le Jardin des Tuileries.
While heading over to Le Place de Madeleine, we walked along the River Seine for awhile. That allowed me to take my cheesy Paris photo. While you're by Le Place de Madeleine, you really must look around. According to my tour book  the area is called the millionaire's food market due to the presence of Fauchon (which I fell in love with), Hediard, and other specialty markets. These markets are unbelievably pretty and all the food looks so good. I wanted to try a lot of the foods, but everything was out of my price range. Seriously, though, if you have time, visit Fauchon and let me know how happy it makes you.
Since we couldn't try anything at Fauchon, my brother took me to Cafe de la Paix, which my tour book told us was famous for their vanilla slices. Unfortunately, the vanilla slices weren't on the menu, so I had to ask the manager, who had to ask the chefs. The chefs then came out to explain to me that they have never heard of vanilla slices before, but their Millefeuille du Cafe de la Paix was worth ordering. It was definitely the best Napoleon I have ever had. The custard was ridiculously creamy and tasted richly of vanilla, while the salted caramel made me realize that salted caramel was not overrated like I had previously thought from overdosing on it in California. 
We visited various little churches that I have forgotten the name of and stopped by the Comédie-Française to look at the courtyard behind it, which has become well known for its black and white striped columns of various heights. In another courtyard close by are the stores for Acne, Stella McCartney, etc. which are worth checking out.  I found this cute little side street too, which I wouldn't mind living along one day. 
After walking around for a rather long day, we stopped by Cafe Victoria for dinner. The Confit de Canard avec Pommes Grenailles was really good. The duck was crispy and tender, while the potatoes were crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The potatoes also tasted heavily of salt and rosemary, so it may be too strong for some people. Overall, I would recommend this place for a tasty, reasonably priced meal. The service was very friendly and the waitress I had was eager to help. Afterwards, I didn't walk around much, since jet lag was starting to be a killer once again.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Paris Day I

Playing: Dig a Hole-William Beckett
Reading: (French) Elle Juin 2013
Hello everyone! I just got back from Paris yesterday and the jet lag is still in effect, so I'm a bit loopy at the moment. However, I wanted to get something new out to all of you, so here's my first day in Paris. I stayed at the Hotel West End, which was a small hotel with an amazing view of Le Tour Eiffel. From my room, you could see it clearly.
On the first day there, we arrived late in the afternoon, so we really didn't do much. My brother let me explore Kenzo, which was amazing and I wish there was one in Los Angeles. It amazed me how much Los Angeles is lacking in terms of designer stores compared to Paris. Right across from the Kenzo store was the Louis Vuitton flagship store, which I'll talk about later.
We also walked to the Arc de Triomphe, which offers an amazing view of the city. I really like gloomy weather, so I didn't mind all the clouds over the city for my photos. The hike up the stairs was incredibly disorientating. All the stairs blended in together, so I had a hard time differentiating the steps. It probably didn't help that I hadn't eaten for more than 24 hours, so the hike probably wasn't that bad and it was just my hunger making me have trouble going up and down the spiral staircases.
First order of business after getting myself down from the Arc de Triomphe was to order the most  French meal I could imagine. At Le Cristal, which is only a block away from the Arc de Triomphe, I ordered the Bloc de Foie Gras de Canard. It was so rich and creamy. I ordered a lot of foie gras while in Paris, since it's illegal in California.
For my main course, I ordered a Croque Monsieur, which is one of the first things we learned about in French class. Even though a Croque Monsieur is intrinsically a glorified ham and cheese sandwich, this was really good. The cheese was so smooth and rich, while the bread was oozing butter. Le Cristal was reasonably priced and it was a nice start to my trip. Everything was pretty basic, but the service was very friendly. After dinner, I just walked around the Champs-Élysées until I couldn't manage to stay awake any longer.