3 days in Catalonia

· Food, Illustration, Travel

Here is the reason I was away last September : a 3 day trip to Catalonia, where I was invited by the Catalonia Tourist Office and Vueling Airlines.

Some of you might have followed my trip via Instagram : with this little introduction, now is the time to tell you all about this trip in detail: On the illustrated map above, you’ll see the distance we traveled during those 3 days. Let’s go!

 

Paris-Barcelona flight with Vueling airlines

Such a great entourage… !

 

Tuesday morning, I was up at dawn and made my way to the Orly airport,to fly to Barcelona where I would meet the Catalonia tourist office team and 3 italian bloggers. We were 3 french bloggers participating in total (with Mademoiselle Stef and Laura Loves Clothes). For the next 3 days, we each followed a different travel route, accompanied by an italian blogger and a member of the Tourism office.

I was to travel with Irene, our guide and driver, and Marinella, an italian architect who loves fashion, and who blogs on I love Green inspiration. I knew neither of those two ladies, but after a few minutes, I knew we were up for a fun trip!

The airplane ride was incredibly quick, and cherry on top, I got this souvenir picture at the end of the flight (I kind of hesitated before asking, I didn’t want to pass off as a groupie, but … she who tries nothing has nothing!). The crew was very relaxed, friendly and let’s say it … pretty hunky! haha!

 

DAY 1

Shopping at La Roca Village

When we got to Barcelona and after getting to know one another, we headed off to La Roca Village, the equivalent of our La Vallée Village in France, where you can find branded clothes and accessories at unbeatable prices.

I was graciously offered a 200€ gift coupon, and thought it’d be more fun if you guys could benefit from it, and I spent the money “live” with you, guided by your wishes. The loot will be up to be won via a little contest I’ll be setting up.

During this extreme adventure (those of you who saw my live instagram will know what I’m talking about), I found great bargains at Furla and Rituals, as well as pleasant little alleys where you can stroll from shop to shop.

All in all a great option for smart shopping enthusiasts on the lookout for quality items.

 

Discovering Girona

Houses on the Onyar

 

Once my shopping mission was over, we went on to more cultural discoveries, with a stop in Girona, medieval city with colorful houses, roman fortresses, a jewish district and … one of the film locations for Game of Thrones.

The real fans will no doubt recognize the roman/gothic cathedral below : a pilgrimage to Girona is a must!

The cathedral

 

The famous lion statue

 

We unfortunately didn’t have the time to really explore this beautiful city in detail, but if I come back (Belief is that if you kiss the lion statue‘s rear end, (please refrain from doing so if you have the flu!) you will be coming back to Girona in the future) I’m sure I’ll stay a couple days to enjoy it fully.

 

Dinner and hotel night at the Peralada Wine Spa & Golf

After an hour on the road, we arrived at the Peralada Wine Spa & Golf, located at the heart of the Alt Emporada, perfect spot for an athletic/relaxing and/or gastronomic stop. I got to experiment the newestcreation of this hotel : a scrumptious wine pairing dinner.

You know I’m not a wine specialist, my constitution doesn’t tolerate alcohol all that well, but the dinner was absolutely delicious.

Iberian ham toast, with a cold pear, curry and scallop cream

Chocolate oxtail with Figueres onion jam

 

Special shoutout to this oxtail that totally looks like a dessert : it was cooked with chocolate! Surprising, but more surprising yet was that it was very much tender and yummy. The combination was a true discovery.

The meal ended with two desserts, and thankfully we weren’t far from our spacious and elegantly decorated room : wood, rattan, olive branches for decoration.

Inspiration for when I’ll be refurbishing my own apartment.

 

DAY 2

Breakfast at the Peralada Wine Spa & golf hotel

After a short but comfy night, we enjoyed breakfast with catalan cold cuts and crispy pastries. We were all set for our second day in Catalonia!

 

Kayak and wine tasting at Llançà

We headed for Llançà for a mix of kayak and wine tasting (not all at the same time, let me reassure you there!), with our lovely SK Kayak instructors.

I paired up with Marinella and we headed out on the Mediterranean sea to row in harmony. After an adaptation time, we were all set and pretty efficient, rowing and talking about fashion in general and the fashion week.

It was enough to motivate me for this activity that isn’t really what I’m used to! All in all, I had a good time out on the sea : the beautiful scenery of Costa Brava also had something to do with it!

 

 

Lunch at Celler La Vinyeta

After we had worked up an apetite, we headed to Mollet de Peralada for a visit of the Celler La Vinyeta. The domain was acquired by Josep and his wife Marta, who, before we started the visit, offered we have a bite to eat … and what a bite it was!

Lunch with a view on the vineyards

 

Spanish cold cuts and cheese, tomato breat, local olive oil and a taste of the best wines (alwasy in moderation of course)…

Josep spoke with passion about the creation and the evolution of their business, of their more than 100 year old olive trees, of their free range chickens : a refreshing and friendly dive into farm life and the world of winemaking.

 

Dalí Gala castle-museum house (Castell de Púbol)

45 minutes later, we were in the charming village of Púbol, host to the castle that Salvador Dalí bought for his spouse and muse Gala.

Our guide gives us a ton of anecdotes on the artist as we walk through the castle :

The invitations Gala sent Salvador Dalí so he could come visit her

Photos of Dalí and Gala in the 50s

 

The fact that Gala only accepted this “humble” real estate gift from her husband on the sole condition that he could only come visit her upon invitation on her part was a pretty incredible technique to keep both courtesy and the spark in their couple alive!

Trompe-l’oeils and graphic details were all around during our visit : everything was made so Gala would feel diverted and completely at ease in this home.

Statue of an elephant with mosquito legs (maybe Dali was enjoying the local wine a bit too much?)

The Datsun car that Dali’s personnel used for shopping (He didn’t want them to use his Cadillac!)

This is definitively one of my favorite visits during the trip, on all levels.

 

Night and dinner at the Aigua Blava hotel

We then head straight to Begur, where we are staying the night in the lovely Aigua Blava Hotel.

After putting down our luggage in our rooms, we are ready to enjoy our last dinner together! It was a fun and very yummy meal!

Lobster croquettes

Black Angus beef tataki and foie gras sauce with mushrooms

 

I found the gourmet menu to be not quite equal to the one in our previous hotel, but this night will stay in my mind thanks to the delivious lobster croquettes, the quite decadent dessert that had us laughing so hard and this spectacular flambée of the crêpes, all in a very relaxed and vacation-worthy atmosphere on the terrace.

Chocolate confection and peanut ice cream

 

Suzette crèpes flambée

 

DAY 3

Sunrise on Begur

Even though we was pretty tired after those two days, we set our alarm to admire the sunrise at 7:30. I really didn’t regret it.

The view from my room was magical : I was dreaming of an indian summer, and I got it here in Catalunya.

Breakfast on the terrace was very enjoyable, with a large choice of pastries and local specialties, with the seaview as a bonus.

 

 

Off to Barcelona : The Sant Pau modernist complex

Not a minute to loose! We head back to Barcelona, a city I already visited twice in the past, and that I had loved.

But I had never yet visited the Sant Pau modernist complex, not far from the Sagrada Familia. Clearly I had missed out, it was well worth the visit!

Model Vs reality ?

It’s listed in the UNESCO’s world heritage list, and is now a museum and a scientific research center. This complex used to be a hospital, dedicated to patient’s well being.

Inside this mini-city, you can visit the different pavilions, and see an incredibly detailed and impressive architecture.

Isn’t it odd this place isn’t better known.? It should be on the top of the list when we visit Barcelona.

 

Cooking class with BCN Kitchen

Last leg of our trip in Catalonia : a cooking class in the El Born neighborhood !

Thanks to Chef Alvaro Brun’s explanations, we created a catalan starter, main and dessert, that you can admire below.

Flambée beans with mint and anise

Coca (turnover) with roasted veggies, goat cheese and aldoso (between a paëlla and a risotto)

Crema catalana

 

A very friendly and fun moment, where we got to lear a few tips (how to deglaze seafood? How should you cut an onion so you don’t cry? …) Since you asked during the live session, I’ll ask for the recipes!

From left to right : Marinella, me, Irene, Chef Alvaro, Laura, Alex, Stéphanie, Carlotta et Elodie

 

¡ Adiós Catalunya !

And this is the end of our Catalonia trip. If you managed to reach the end of this long post, congratulations!

A little bonus : a picture of the plane’s cockpit, taken on our way back to France, on the Barcelona-Paris Vueling Airlines flight.

We got to access the cockpit and see the pilot’s cabin for a short time before the takeoff. I was pretty curious (and lucky) to discover this usually unacessible space!

See you on the Catalunya experience page to see the video we shot during our trip (Click on the “Découvrir” button)! (English translation by Marine)

 

Content created during a sponsorized trip, in partnership with Catalonia tourist office and Vueling Airlines

Women house

· Fashion

Louise Bourgeois “Spider” 1995

 

You know how I love visiting museums: museums marathon, or exhibition no matter if I am in Paris, London, New York or Ubud

All kind of art interest me, even though I’m especially fond of contemporary art. I’m still far from being an expert, but I like learning, thinking and getting inspiration from these pieces of art.

Last weekend, I went to La Monnaie de Paris to see the Women House exhibition, which I discovered through Instagram. I thought it would be promising because it was visually appealing and had a staunchly feminist approach.

 

From imprisonment and obedience…

Helena Almeida “Study for two spaces” 1977

 

Indeed, this exhibition puts the spotlight to 40 female artists, who showcased the relationship between women and their domestic environment, places that have been imposed on them for a long while.

The exhibition looks at the relationship “woman-house” which changed along the periods, at times synonym of imprisonment, obedience, at times place of creativity and evasion.

Louise Bourgeois “Femme-maison” 1994

 

Penny Slinger “Exorcism house” 1977

 

Divided in 8 parts, it starts with a caricature of the housewife who use her house as unique “playground”. This “desperate housewife” is being laughed at with satirical artwork from Birgitt Jürgessen (and this gas cooker apron) among others.

Birgit Jürgenssen “Housewives-Kitchen apron”1975/2003 & Martha Rosler “Woman with vacuum” (1967-72)

 

Joana Vasconcelos “Tea pavilion” 2012

 

I particularly liked this “Modern chess set” from Rachel Whiteread, where we can see a thrilling round of laundry and iron sessions.

Rachel Whiteread “Modern set chess” 2005

 

Happy to find pieces from the Portuguese photographer Helena Almeida (who I discovered at “Le Jeu de Paume” museum a year ago), darker with melancholy that reflect loneliness.

 

… to construction and creativity

The rhythm and ambiance of the exhibition changes at each new chapter, which I especially liked. We can enjoy different approaches and significations at each level.

Don’t miss pieces from Louise Bourgeois, including the famous spider (previously seen at the Tate Modern in London) and one of the well-known “Nana-maisons” from Niki de Saint Phalle.

Niki de Saint Phalle “Nana-maison II” 1966/1987

 

Laura Tixier “Plaid houses” 2008 and Laurie Simmons “Walking house” 1989

 

I recommend this exhibition to everyone because it offers different interpretations. Besides, the place itself worth being visited. Form and substance are both interesting, it deserves to be seen. (English translation by Quiterie)

 

“WOMEN HOUSE” exhibition
at La Monnaie de Paris
11 Quai de Conti
75006 PARIS

(until January 28th 2018)


My Outfit

Coat Sézane (already seen here)
Cashmere sweater La Redoute
White jeans Uniqlo (already seen here)
Sneakers Stan Smith Adidas
Bag Close (already seen here)

Earrings Mango (already seen here)
Necklace Minetta Jewellery

Eyelashes extension « Volume russe » Les cils de Marie (already seen here)
Eyebrow crayon Brow Drama Pomade « Châtain » Maybelline NY
Lipstick Lip Paint Lacquer “105 Red fiction” L’Oréal Paris

Taste and health

· Food, Illustration

“Rouge plaisir” by pastry chef Alain Chartier, Theix (56) (1st prize)

 

It’s been 10 years now, you know how much I love gastronomy and my legendary appetite for all things on the yummy spectrum! However in order to preserve my well-being (and my waistline!), I am trying to pay more attention to what I have in my plate, and to cook delicious yet healthy recipes (the fact that I do like asian food a lot, which is generally healthier does help).

Which is why I was delighted to be invited this October 23rd, to partake in the 2017 Taste and health cooking competition, organized by MAAF, in partnership with Gault & Millau, that shines the light on artisans that manage to bring together gastronomy and nutritional balance in an original recipe, which will be presented to a jury of both gastronomy and health professionals.

I got to taste all 8 dishes that made it to the final round, talk with the laureates (as you may have seen if you saw my live Instagram story) and I left this event absolutely certain that health and gastronomy can happily coexist. Here’s proof!

 

Yummy and nutritionally balanced dishes

Saddle of rabbit (Rex du Poitou) stuffed with crayfish and sorrel by Alain Galerneau, Bessines (79) (2nd prize)

 

Here are a couple tips taken from the dishes that made it to the finals, and that can be inspiring for our daily cooking (I got pictures of my favorites ones) :

A low glycemic index (by using unrefined sugar or natural sweeteners) means less insulin secretion, and that fewer triglycerides (fat) get stocked. It helps prevent the apparition of a type 2 diabetes mid or long term. I learned that we generally eat 10 to 20 times more sugar a day that what is necessary : it’s time to act upon it!

Rehabilitate forgotten veggies like parsnip in the pikeperch recipe by Marc Charbonnier, and unloved foods like tripes in the tripe stew maki by Laurent Ody (texture is unusual I have to admit). .

Orange carott ginger detox sorbet by Olivier Menard, Paris

 

-A sufficient protein intake by eating grains, fish, sea food or lean meat.

-A reasonable salt intake that can be compensated by the use of spices (cinnamon, ginger … ) and aromatic herbs (sorrel …)

-A antioxidant action of certain ingredients (ginger, berries for the “Rouge plaisir” dessert by Alain Chartier) can help prevent certain cardiovascular diseases.

 

Morgane Béchu “Special Prize of the Jury” ‘s recipe

“Pas perdu pour tout le monde” by Morgane Béchu, Angers (49) (Special prize of the Jury)

 

Morgane Béchu, the pastry chef, was awarded the Special Prize of the Jury, and was kind enough to share her delicious “Pas perdu pour tout le monde” (=“Not lost for everyone”) recipe in 3 steps here :

The soft bread is made with buckwheat flour and sweetened with honey, contrinute to a lower glycemic index than what you would generally expect with desserts. The fruits she used have antioxidant properties that are beneficial to our cardiovascular system.

The recipe serves 6 (small portions though) and requires either the use of a mixer or some effort on your part (which would count as physical activity, so win-win!)

 

Buckwheat soft bread

45g water
40g milk
50g oat grains
225g T55 flour
25g buckwheat flour
4g salt
10g linden honey
10 g molasses
8g organic yeast
2 eggs
65g butter

 

• The day before, soak the oat grains in water and lukewarm milk. Reserve in a small box and keep at room temperature.

• With a mixer set on 1st speed, mix the flours, the salt, the limewood honey and molasses. Add the organic yeast, followed by the mix of water, milk and oats.

• Mix for about 10 minutes on 1st speed, followed by 5 minutes on 2nd speed. Use a spatula and scrape the sides of the bowl clean. Add butter.

• Mix for 10 mintes on 1st speed. Scrape the bowl clean again, and mix for 7 minutes on 2nd speed. Scrape clean and mix one last time on 3rd speed for 2 minutes.

• Cover with cellophane and let the mix rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

• Fold the dough over to get rid of oxygen bubbles, and wrap the cellophane directly onto the dough.

• Keep in the fridge until the next day.

• The next day, shape the soft bread and place it in a buttered baking pan.

• Let the dough rest for 1h to 1h30 at room temperature.

• Glaze the dough with egg yolk before popping it in the oven. Preheat the oven at 160°C and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Check if it is thoroughly baked by inserting a knife blade.

 

Apples/Pears, tatin style

4 Val de Loire Fuji apples
4 Val de Loire Conference pear
60g sugar
30g linden honey
10g butter

 

• Peel the fruit and cut in half. Core the apples and pears and cut in quarters.

• Place the apples and pears on a baking sheet.

• Make a caramel with the sugar. When it’s liquid enough and light in color, remove from the heat and stir in the honey and butter. Pour the caramel on the fruit.

• Preheat the oven at 140°C and place the baking sheet in the oven.

• Bake the fruit for around 1h and stir them around very 20 minutes to coat them with caramel.

 


Caramel with flower of salt and honey (for the final set up)

150 g Sugar
60 g linden honey
190 g cream
80 g butter
1 pinch of salt

 

• Make a caramel with the sugar and add the honey.

• Bring the liquid cream to room temperature. When the caramel is light in color and liquid enough, pour the lukewarm cream over it very slowly, and then bring to a boil. Let it cool down at least 10 minutes in the fridge.

• Add the butter that was brought to room temperature and the flower of salt. Pour it in a small box with a lid. Use it for the final set up. (English translation by Marine)

 

This is a promoted post and was made in collaboration with MAAF

Page 3 of 168