Eating Like A Local On A Paris Food Tour

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One of my favourite things to do when travelling to new places is to try the local food. And by try, I mean eat everything around me for days on end. I wouldn’t say that I’m a “foodie” exactly, as I’m awful at describing food or wine, I simply know what I like and when I find it I like to eat a much of it as possible. Like cheese, for example! 

Over the past few months I’ve signed up to quite a few tours and activities revolving around food such as a cooking course in Thailand and walking food tour of Vietnam and more recently I joined a Fab Food Trail of my home city, Cork. Taking this into consideration, it’s no wonder I was keen to sign up to a Paris food tour.

I chose Secret Food Tours for one main reason, it was due to take place in one of the most beautiful districts of the city of love; Montmartre. What I did not realise when booking was that Montmartre is actually famous for its food and markets, and has been that way for hundreds of years. In fact many Parisians actually travel here at the weekends to check out the markets and but their bread, cheese, meat and sweets from all the various shops and stalls.

montmartre metro sign

paris secret food tour

While our Paris food tour mainly involved walking through the beautiful cobbled streets of Montmartre, learning how to pick a good cafe from a bad one, how to know where to buy the freshest bread or the best quality local cheese, and testing what wines help bring out the flavours of the dried meats or cheeses, we were also given a mini history lesson of Paris.

While doing a walking tour of a city can be a great way to get your bearings and see a nice overview of what the city has to offer, a Paris food tour is about a million times better as you really immerse yourself in the city, meet and chat to local shop owners and get to actually taste the fruits of their labour.

We learned all about the different cuts of meat, why some are more expensive than others, which cuts locals like the best and how to ensure you are getting a good piece of meat! From Saucissons to great pieces of Steak, these local butchers sure do know a thing or two about their trade!

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The tour started with our guide pointing out which shops he forbade us from entering – chain stores where most of the products are mass-produced. Boo to corporate greed! Boo to yesterdays bread today! We were told how to identify an award-winning shop, what stickers to look for on the outside window.

We looked for cafes and small shops that concentrated on selling just one item, such as chocolate or macaroons, rather than every sweet thing under the sun. We learned all about apprenticeships and Master Chocolatiers and how to tell a great chocolate maker from a good one. And of course we got to taste plenty of chocolate too! 

One of my favourite parts of the tour was getting a behind the scenes tour of one of the most famous Boulanger in Paris. The owner of this particular bread shop is so famous for his bread that he actually supplied baguettes to the President of France for an entire year. There is also always a long queue outside!

We were brought into the kitchen and shown exactly how he makes these award-winning baguettes and were pretty much blown away by how effort, but more so how much precision and care, goes into making each single baguette!

making baguettes

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While we did get to taste a few things during the tour, our guide mainly gathered up a huge array of tasty treats which we then feasted on for over an hour at the end of the tour. I can’t count the amount of different meats and cheeses we tried, and I would not be surprised if we all drank about a bottle of wine each! Ian and myself said we probably would not be able to eat for a full day once the tour was over!

The guide always talked us through everything we ate, making sure we understood how it was made, why it green, where it comes from and why certain foods in France may not look the same as food with the same name in our own country.

Here’s the best thing about our Paris food tour: We have brought with us what we learned on our travels. Four days have passed since our magical afternoon in Montmartre and yet we are still talking about PJ and his excellent advice. When we got to Annecy, we could hear his words ringing in our ears and stayed clear of the super touristy restaurants and went down a side alley to have lunch in a very small cafe with a small menu. Guaranteed to be cooked in-house and it was cheap and delicious.

For breakfast we went to the local market and made our way around the stalls picking out the best pieces of meat, cheese, bread and juice and had a picnic brunch by the lake. I know PJ would have been so proud!

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One thing to avoid?

Taste is obviously very personal but everything about the head cheese (even the name of goodness sake!) made me want to vomit. I hate to be so crude but honestly it’s best avoiding. The smell, the taste and ever the texture will send shivers down your spine.

Avoid this!

Massive thanks to Paris Secret Food Tours for hosting Ian and myself on this wonderful tour – If you are travelling to Paris soon I can’t recommend it enough. Your taste buds will thank you.

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Irish Abroad: Top 10 Irish Foods We Miss

irish-fry

Lately I have really been craving various Irish foodstuffs that I simply cannot get here. I decided to ask my wide range of expat friends (who now live in Canada, Dubai, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, Poland, Japan and Myanmar/Burma and many more exotic locations) what Irish food they missed the most while living abroad and the following were the Top 10 answers! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any more good suggestions. :)

Number 10: A decent pint of Guinness

In fact this isn’t limited to Guinness, more Irish drinks in general which you often can’t get abroad. A decent Guinness, a pint of Beamish or Murphys, and an ice-cold bottle of Bulmers Light (for those watching the calories!) are the top contenders on the list of most missed alcoholic beverages. Along with Buckfast Abbey, that is.

While Korea does have a good choice of local alcohol ranging from low quality beer to a cheap distilled beverage known as Soju ( top selling alcohol brand in the world!!) and delicious rice wine called Makeoili, none of these will ever live up to a good Irish pint.

A good pint

A good pint

Number 9: Clonakilty Black Pudding

Clonakilty Black Pudding is a staple food item in houses all over Cork, and Ireland. Black Pudding , and the sausages, bacon, eggs, beans and toast which go with it, can cure any hangover no matter how bad and are not only eaten for Breakfast but can be easily transformed into a Gourmet Lunch or Dinner should the need arise!

There is NOTHING that comes even close to replacing Clonakilty Black Pudding here in Korea. Eating rice and spicy cabbage (Kimchi) to cure my hangover just doesn’t quite do the trick!

Mmm Black Pudding

Mmm Black Pudding

Number 8: Chicken Fillet Roll from Spar 

One of the biggest things I crave from back home is the humble ‘chicken fillet roll’ made up for you in a matter of seconds and found in every deli in the country. The fact that nearly every shop has a Deli, and that there is a shop on nearly every corner in every town, makes the lunch time experience back home a blissful experience!

When it comes to lunch time choices in South Korea, the choices are pretty limited and far from appealing! Most food is deep friend and if on a rare occasion it is not, my lunch time choice are limited to a variety of dishes made with rice, spicy cabbage and spam. No thank you!

The infamous Chicken Fillet Roll

The infamous Chicken Fillet Roll

Number 7: McCambridge Brown Bread

I think most Irish people will agree with me when I say that there is no better brown bread that McCambridge Brown Bread. Be it for toast in the morning, or sandwiches at lunch time or with soup in the evening, nothing beats a few slices of McCamdridge!

Here is Korea they seriously lack good bread, which is a bit of a mystery given the fact that there is a bakery to be found on almost every corner. In Ireland, bread is pretty much part of our staple diet where-as in Korea it is more of a treat or a luxury thus all the bread, and bread products are sickly sweet and could never be used the way they should be….to make a decent sandwich!

Best bread in the world!

Best bread in the world!

Number 6: Ballymaloe Relish

The relish SO famous, they sent it to space. Enough said.

Ballymaloe Relish

Ballymaloe Relish

Number 5: Cadburys Chocolate

No matter what country, no matter what continent, no place does a chocolate bar like Ireland. Ireland has the biggest selection of delicious milk chocolate, available in every shop, on every street corner, in every town (similar to the infamous deli counter!) and no amount of Hersheys, Peanut Butter cups or whatever other bizarre chocolate is on offer around the world will ever compete with this! Be it a Dairy Milk, a box of Heo’s or a tin of Roses at Christmas, nothing beats Cadburys chocolate.

Pure chocolatey goodness

Pure chocolatey goodness

Number 4 : Tayto Crisps

By sure Ireland’s favorite crisp. You just can’t beat a salt and vinegar crisp sandwich or opening up a packet of Cheese and Onions Taytos in the pub and sharing them with all around you. Soon enough, some other kind soul will return to the table with a new round of pints and another packer of delicious Tatyo crisps. And so it goes on…

In Korea we are given magical choice such as Wasabi flavour, Seaweed flavour and worst of all….Cuttlefish flavour. YUCK.

Tayto Crisps - Best crisps in the world

Tayto Crisps – Best crisps in the world

Number 3: Garlic Cheese Chips (and other Chipper Food!)

While many Irish expats will admit to always having a wide range of foods available to them late at night, ranging from 24 Hour McDonalds, late night pizza joints and Turkish Kebab stands lining the streets, we will also cry out for Garlic Cheese Chips at 3 O’ clock in the morning, yearning for those late night chippers back home! (KC’s chipper in Cork is so popular they have a Queue Camera on their website!)

Garlic Cheese Chips

Garlic Cheese Chips

Number 2: A Jumbo Breakfast Roll

A brilliant mixture between number 8 and number 9 on this list is the Jumbo Breakfast Roll, whereby us Irish have perfected the method of putting an entire Irish Breakfast into a  Cuisine de France bread roll. A favourite amoung early morning workers, Builders and college students, nothing beats a Jumo Breakfast Roll after a night on the town.

The Jumbo Breakfast Rolll

The Jumbo Breakfast Rolll

Number 1: Barry’s Tea

Stop an Irish person in the airport and ask them what’s in their suitcase and about 90% of them will admit to having packed a box of Barry’s Tea bags. Us Irish just can’t seem to survive without them. Ideally served with Irish milk (real dairy!!) and a spoonful of sugar, a cup of Barry’s Tea has many magical attributes and is the perfect start, middle and end to every day. Be it relaxing at home, gossiping with friends, skyping home to family or reading a good book, a cup of real Irish Tea is always the perfect companion.

Barry's Tea

Barry’s Tea

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Dak Galbi – Step by Step Guide

Step 1: Place cabbage, rice cakes and spicy chicken mix onto hot plate.

Step 1: Place cabbage, rice cakes and spicy chicken mix onto hot plate.

Step 2: Cut up the spicy chicken

Step 2: Cut up the spicy chicken

Step 3: Let the magical goodness cook for 10-15 minutes

Step 3: Let the magical goodness cook for 10-15 minutes

Dig into some of the more unusual side dishes such as shredded cabbage, mayo and cornflakes!

Dig into some of the more unusual side dishes such as shredded cabbage, mayo and cornflakes!

More of the delicious side dishes to accompany the meal

More of the delicious side dishes to accompany the meal

A shot of soju is a great way to start the meal!

A shot of soju is a great way to start the meal!

Food is ready, DIG IN!

Food is ready, DIG IN!

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Happy Friendsgiving

Thanksgiving came to Ireland this year and what an event it was! Except, rather than Thanksgiving, it was nicknamed ‘Friendsgiving’, instead. Everyone (table for 10!) brought a different dish ranging from Ratatouille, Sweet Potato,  Mac N Cheese to Bannoffee Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and not forgetting the most important dish of all….The Turkey!!

Anyway the point of he day was to have fun, share some delicious food and be thankful for all the amazing friends we have. So let be take this opportunity to give a shout out to my friends, my family, and all my blog followers, “Happy Thanksgiving! I love you all very dearly”. Janet XxX

 

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11-11-11

The 11th day of the 11th month in 2011. No, not the end of the world. Nothing nasty like that. Quite the opposite actually, especially if you are a lover of chocolate!

I always though Arthur Guinness day was the master of all marketing campaigns, that was until I discovered the madness of Pepero Day in Korea!

 Arthurs Day, was introduced 2 years ago to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Guinness brewing company and of course the infamous founder, Arthur Guinness. Guinness drinkers were expected to raise a glass to the memory of Arthur Guinness and an 82c stamp of an Arthur Guinness portrait was also released by An Post to commemorate the anniversary.

Everyone thought it was a once off stunt by Guinness to sell an unprecedented amount of pints in one day! However, 2 years on and the “tradition” continues! Why…umm to celebrate the 252nd anniversary?!?! In an attempt to make it a National holiday? Everyone just laughed it off as a marketing coup!

Thanks to my awesome students in Korea I realised that maybe Arthurs day COULD become a national holiday. Why? Well when I was teaching them the months of the year and asking them what their favourite month was, “November”. was the answer they all shouted. “Why November?”, I asked. “Pepero day, Pepero Day!”

For those who don’t know what pepero day is, it’s a Korean National holiday where people buy their loved ones (children, boyfriends, parents, friends) boxes of Pepero (chocolate covered biscuit sticks).

I can remember getting box after box after box of Pepero chocolates from my students last year…in fact 6 months on and I STILL had them stock piled in my kitchen! They far from helped my attempt at a diet!

Pepero Day started as an elaborate marketing campaign by Korean owned Chocolatiers to sell more chocolates and is now a NATIONAL holiday. It is celebrated on the 11th of November(11/11), as on that day it looks like 4 little Pepero sticks are standing side by side. This year however, there are SIX little fingers standing in a row..The ULTIMATE Pepero Day…Chocolate sales must be through the roof in Korea this week!!

Want to read about more crazy Korean Holidays? CLICK HERE!

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