Monthly Archives: March 2014

Jodhpur: The Blue City

Jodhpur is located about 300 km from Jaisalmer, and the journey is long and dusty. You look at the map and think the distance is nothing, but 300 km in India is not like 300 km in many other countries… You have huge overloaded trucks, camels, cows and sometimes elephants using the roads too. All this adds to India’s exoticism but affects driving. Be prepared! Driving in IndiaWe spent one afternoon, one full day and one morning visiting Jodhpur, the second-largest city in Rajasthan. Althought its historical importance is evident, the Blue City was not our favorite destination in Rajasthan. It didn’t create the aww effect like many other places did and I still wonder why. This could be because we were getting tired…. tired of sitting in the car and tired of absorbing so much of everything. In fact, I believe that because of the abundance of history and culture in India, one gets overwhelmed. “Cannot take it anymore” is a common feeling some time during the travel, and maybe this was exactly what we were suffering from while in Jodhpur?

Now, years later, I look at the photos and find Jodhpur charming. I would be curious to return and see how I would now feel. Meanwhile, you can make your own impression of the Blue City through my photos! Jodhpur: the blue cityThe Blue CityJodhpur: the Blue City

Some photos of the street view:Jodhpur city center

Jodhpur: the Blue CityIt cannot get more blue than this, can it?

FYI: Next post will give more information about the practicalities.

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Note: This is the 19th post about our trip in Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and Bombay in March-April 2008. Previous posts are:

Part 1. Arrival in Delhi: first impressions
Part 2. Eight cities of Delhi
Part 3. Road from Delhi to Agra
Part 4. Visiting Agra and Taj Mahal
Part 5. Fatehpur Sikri: what a pearl!
Part 6. Neemrana Fort-Palace: the magnificent 15th century palace
Part 7. Breathtaking Amber Fort
Part 8. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 1.)
Part 9. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 2.)
Part 10. Hotel Pearl Palace in Jaipur
Part 11. Samode Palace: live like a Maharaja
Part 12. Shekhawati: the Haveli Hub
Part 13. Enchanting Hotel Mandawa Haveli
Part 14. Karni Mata Temple (WARNING: includes images of rats)
Part 15. Subtle charm of Bikaner
Part 16. Bhairon Vilas: sleep like a Prime Minister
Part 17. Fort Pokaran: ideal oasis in the Thar Desert
Part 18. Jaisalmer: revisiting the Silk Road

PS Have you already joined Pearlspotting?

 

Franco-Italian cheese platter

Eating cheese in France is a true geographic journey! Every region has its own specialties and in total there are more than 500 types of cheese in France. One will never know all 500 types. But this –at least to me– is part of the fun. We go and buy cheese and every time there is so much to discover! No two cheese plates are alike. And in order not to be too nationalistic, we try to add one or two cheese from abroad.

Our last cheese experimentation created this kind of a platter: Cheese platter

  • Bethmale: French cow-milk cheese from the region of Midi-Pyrénées near the Pyrenees mountains
  • Banon: goat cheese from the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in the southern part of France
  • Ossau-Iraty: sheep-milk cheese from the Basque country (French side)
  • Gorgonzola: Italian blue cheese from the northern part of the country, near Milan
  • Pecorino with Black Peppers: Tuscany, Italy

To complete the dinner, we also had dried beef (Noix de Bœuf Séchée) and a green salad with avocados.  Not the lightest and healthiest dinner, but once in a while just perfect!

Note: For the sake of comparative studies, this was our precious cheese platter: Cheese platter

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PS Do you stick to the same old cheese all the time or do you prefer changing? If yes to the last question, then what is your latest discovery…?

Fish eggs for breakfast anyone?

I live in Paris where bakeries are full of richly buttered croissants, but to be brutally honest, I eat a croissant approximately once a year! Shocking, isn’t it.

Originally, I come from Finland, which is a country of savory breakfasts, but I don’t eat typical Finnish breakfast (porridge) either. So, what is it, what do I eat? Well, I often have rice cakes with salmon and avocados. Or avocados and cheese. Sometimes I add turkey. Or if I made Indian food the night before, I would eat leftover dal for breakfast. To be honest, my ultimate happiness was found in South India where I could eat idli and sambar for breakfast! Yummy.

I do admit, I have weird breakfast habits but I am afraid they are now getting even more strange (some of you may call them disgusting). For some time now, I have been preparing a salad that consists of fish eggs, grilled artichokes, avocados, truffle oil and fresh herbs (thyme, basil and rosemary). fish egg, avocado and artichoke saladThe fish eggs I have been buying are some of the cheapest available in Paris (and apparently the saltiest) and of course it would be better to buy salmon eggs but they are considerably more expensive. Anyhow, apart from these “cheap” eggs, everything in this salad is very good for your health. Most importantly, I love the combination, which fills the stomach, but not the same way wheat does (yes, I try to avoid gluten as often as I can).

Would you eat this salad for breakfast? Do you have a breakfast recipe you like making but think it is utterly crazy? Let me know (and make me feel less weird..)! 

Wine Exhibition of Independent Winegrowers is back!

Is your wine cellar empty? Good, because the Wine Exhibition of Independent Winegrowers returns to Paris this weekend! More than 1000 winemakers from all over France will present their products, often organic and biodynamic, and always of high quality. It is a dream event of all wine lovers and not to be missed! wines of FranceAs previously, I have an extra ticket and happy to send it to someone interested in participating the exhibition between March 28-31. It is for two people and includes complimentary wine tasting glasses.

The rules are the same: like Pearlspotting on Facebook, or if you prefer, become my blog’s follower by inserting your email address into the box available on the front page of my blog (https://pearlspotting.wordpress.com). Please write a comment or a brief story about your most memorable wine experience. Do not forget to mention the name of the wine the story involves (if you remember). Can be from anywhere in the world.

At midnight Wednesday (Paris time) I will pick up the winner (call it Internet lottery) and contact this person. Next day I will send the ticket to the address of the winner.

I am looking forward to your wine stories, and meanwhile, my previous posts about this wine exhibition are to be read here: Wine tasting at Salon des Vins des Vignerons Indépendants and Maison Lorgeril from Languedoc-Roussillon.

EXHIBITION WEBSITE: http://www.france-independent-winegrowers.com/index2.php

Jaisalmer: revisiting the Silk Road

Jaisalmer is magical and outstanding, not least because it was built by yellow sandstone that has given it its nickname The Golden City. Even if Jaisalmer did not make it to my India: Top 10 places to visit, it is one of my favorite places in India.Jaisalmer The Golden CityJaisalmerSoon after its creation in the 12th century, Jaisalmer became an important trade center along the Silk Road. Tons of silk, opium and spices passed through Jaisalmer throughout the centuries. Today, it attracts visitors mainly for three reasons: 1) the location (in the middle of the stunning Thar Desert; great for desert and camel safaris) 2) Jaisalmer fort (India’s last remaining living fort) and 3) architecture (exquisite havelis and elaborate Jain temples). JaisalmerThe Jain temples, constructed between 12th and the 16th centuries, were indeed very impressive. Some 11th century manuscripts written on palm leaves are kept in the temple complex, too. Tip: be aware of the odd opening hours if you are interested in visiting the temples!Jaisalmer Jain temples Jaisalmer Jain templeWe spent two nights in Jaisalmer and loved the fort as well as the city outside the fort. Most of our time was used in walking along the ramparts and tiny streets inside the fort. It felt quite magical and amazing to witness locals, tourists and cows mixing so peacefully. The fort of Jaisalmer reminded me of another fortified city called Bukhara in Uzbekistan, also located along the old Silk Road.JaisalmerJaisalmerEven if we spent most of the time inside the fort, we did walk to the city outside the fort to visit the famous havelis. These 19th century mansions are true pearls and so elaborately carved. Some were open for visits, some weren’t. Haveli in JaisalmerWe also made some great purchases: a bag made of camel skin (we regret of not buying more of those wonderfully handmade bags!!) and silver jewelry. Indeed, shops and bazaars were very well-equipped, making Jaisalmer a great place to buy souvenirs. After all, who wouldn’t be fascinated to revisit the Silk Road trading experience…!?Jaisalmer

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: We slept at Suraj Haveli, which is a 500-year old haveli run by a friendly family. We had the Maharaja room, the biggest, and well, what can I say. It was an extraordinarily beautiful room but there were no amenities. It felt like sleeping in an abandoned house. At night we could hear haunted dogs barking. It was a full moon, the sounds were weird, and had a camel caravan arrived in front of our door, we would not have been surprised. Nothing was spooky, but it felt sort of mystical. Well, I guess authentic places feel that way for one reason: they have an old soul! (http://hotelsurajjaisalmer.webs.com/)

Secondly, the first night we ate at a random restaurant inside the fort and it was so disgusting that we left after taking the first bite. The second night we ate at Trio, outside the fort, and it was amazing. Definitely one of the best meals we had in Rajasthan! We ate at the terrace, the musicians were playing and the dinner came to less than 10€ for both of us. Wish I could relive that moment.

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Note: This is the 18th post about our trip in Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and Bombay in March-April 2008. Previous posts are:

Part 1. Arrival in Delhi: first impressions
Part 2. Eight cities of Delhi
Part 3. Road from Delhi to Agra
Part 4. Visiting Agra and Taj Mahal
Part 5. Fatehpur Sikri: what a pearl!
Part 6. Neemrana Fort-Palace: the magnificent 15th century palace
Part 7. Breathtaking Amber Fort
Part 8. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 1.)
Part 9. Chaotic but charming Jaipur (part 2.)
Part 10. Hotel Pearl Palace in Jaipur
Part 11. Samode Palace: live like a Maharaja
Part 12. Shekhawati: the Haveli Hub
Part 13. Enchanting Hotel Mandawa Haveli
Part 14. Karni Mata Temple (WARNING: includes images of rats)
Part 15. Subtle charm of Bikaner
Part 16. Bhairon Vilas: sleep like a Prime Minister
Part 17. Fort Pokaran: ideal oasis in the Thar Desert

PS Have you already joined Pearlspotting?

Good morning spring!

Spring equals plants and flowers, so yesterday was a big plantation day for our balcony. We now have more violas and a bamboo. A palm tree will be the next purchase.

This morning I saw a grey thing with a tail run across the balcony so I got up. It was a beautiful grey cat that eventually jumped to the balcony of another building. Maybe just a coincidence, but maybe cats like bamboos? To be observed! Parisian balcony in spring

Impérial Choisy: affordable Cantonese food

We have not had Chinese food since the Lunar New Year when we ate at Shan Goût: not your usual Chinese restaurant, so it was about time! We found Impérial Choisy on the Internet and decided –once again– to follow the recommendations of Le Fooding and Michelin. The latter has given Impérial Choisy a Bib Gourmand recognition.

Impérial Choisy is located in the southern part of the 13th arrondissement. It is a modern, super clean cantine (small, unpretentious restaurant), where tables fill up fast. A great part of customers consists of Chinese families. Imperial ChoisyWe arrived just before 9 p.m. and got a table right away.  The menu is very extensive and it took us a long time to make our final choices: jellyfish salad, spring rolls, sauteed chicken, shrimp-stuffed eggplants and crispy noodles. Imperial ChoisyOur feeling in the end of the meal was a mixed bag. We liked the shrimp nems. The shrimp and vegetable noodles was very tasty. The jellyfish salad (served with pickled tomatoes, ginger and eggs) was delicious; probably the best of all dishes. Chinese jellyfish saladSauteed chicken came with black mushrooms and bamboos, and yet the mushrooms were very tasty, something was missing. We kept adding chili sauce…

However, what mostly disappointed us was the eggplant dish. Ok, to be fair, we almost never eat fried food, so maybe this explain something. The eggplants were very greasy, the dish had no particular taste, and the size of the prawn stuffed inside the eggplant was not in proportion to the rest. Unfortunately, all we could taste was flour and oil. But maybe it was our fault –we should have known not to order anything fried!eggplants stuffed with shrimpsThis said, the bill arrived and it was 55€ (we also had a 1/2 liter of red house wine). Taking the price into account, we estimated that Impérial Choisy was worth our money. Some dished we loved, some less so.

To answer the big question “Would we return”, I have to say that maybe (but I would pick something completely different). Or, alternatively, maybe I will continue to search for that perfect Chinese restaurant that doesn’t seem to exist in Paris…

Impérial Choisy: 32 Avenue de Choisy, 75013 Paris. Tel. 01-45864240

Le Fooding review: http://lefooding.com/en/restaurants/restaurant-imperial-choisy-paris

Michelin review: http://restaurant.michelin.fr/restaurant/france/75013-paris-13/imperial-choisy/2eqxz1n