Winter Trip in Paris

Winter Trip to Paris | Travel Guide

Paris, je t’aime.

When I had to make a trip to London this past January, I decided that I wanted to tack on at least one other major European city to explore.  With a couple of girlfriends on board, we decided that Paris was the perfect location for a winter girls’ trip.  Wine, cheese, croissants, art, and scarves – what’s not to love about winter in Paris?  Oh, and there’s no tourists to be seen save us. 

24 hours into our trip and I had already fallen in love.  Meals are three hour affairs involving multiple courses shared languidly over intimate conversations with wine.  Everyone is impeccably dressed, there is a cheese shop on every corner, directly next to the bakery, and you can’t find a bad glass of wine if you tried.

We spent over a week in this historic and entrancing city and I can’t wait to return.  

Here’s a few of my favorite images from the trip, along with some that we hired Flytographer to take for us, along with recommendations for your winter trip to Paris.

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STAY: Montmarte was our favorite neighborhood, but you also can’t go wrong with the Marais.

EAT: I dare you to find a bad bottle of wine in this city.  I double dog dare you to find bad cheese.  Doesn’t fucking exist.

  • Anne and I had been anxious to try out EatWith ever since we’d heard about the concept: EatWith’s goal is to bring strangers and travelers together at tables around the world in local’s homes.  You sign up to eat with others and learn about new cultures and food traditions and Paris seemed like the perfect place to try it out.  We absolutely adored our meal with Claudine more than any other meal we had the entire trip.  It was incredibly memorable from start to finish – so much so that we ended up inviting her to join us for dinner later that week.  I’m feeling thankful to have had such a unique experience and to make a new friend!
  • Restaurant Jeanne B in Montmarte feels a bit like stepping into a charming farm-style delicatessen, if that is a thing.  Spiraling sausages hang from the ceiling and the daily changing menu is presented on chalkboards at your table.  We enjoyed the experience and the variety so much, it became the only spot we returned to twice on our trip.
  • The cathedral like ceiling and mirrored accents make the sparsely decorated Daroco feel extra chic but also warm  and cozy somehow.  They offer wood fired pizzas and homemade pasta for those looking for a bit of comfort in an incredibly stylish setting.
  • Do not confuse Les 110 de Taillevent with it’s 3 star Michelin rated big brother around the corner.  Although, if you do, they are used to it and will simply direct you to where you are supposed to go.  Despite showing up late, they will graciously seat you amongst the 110 options for wines by the glass and feed you stunningly prepared food.
  • Our favorite meal in Marais was at Le Dôme du Marais, which feels remarkably like eating in your own private garden.  The building was originally utilized as an auction house to fight against poverty thanks to Louis XVI.  It’s absolutely stunning inside and the food is exquisite to match.

DRINK:

  • We were told by no less than 10 people that a drink at Les Philosophers was a must.
  • We spent an extraordinary amount of time at Le Gisou, partially because it was literally across the street from our flat, but also because it was charming, cozy, had a great staff and an even better bathroom.
  • The Bar Hemingway is a must visit, but only for one drink, because that’s all you can afford.
  • The Bistrologist is perfect for late night cocktails.  Their drinks are inventive, the decor dimly lit and intimate, and it feels a bit like a speakeasy.  The kitchen also stays open really late if you find yourself wandering the streets and starving at midnight.

EXPLORE

  • After doing the graffiti street tour in Bogota, Colombia, Anne and I have been inspired to find more walking tours, whether street art related or not.  Paris actually offers it’s own street art walking tour hosted by Street Art Paris.  They offer tours in Montmarte, the Left Bank, and the one we chose, Belleville.  Since we were staying in Montmarte, we thought it would be nice to explore a neighborhood we weren’t already wandering on our own.
  • The cooking classes at La Cuisine Paris are worth the expense!  We participated in the market class, which starts off in a nearby outdoor market.  You collectively pick a plan for your meal, shop for ingredients, and then return to the La Cuisine kitchens to prep, cook and share your meal together.  It was a wonderful experience and I was even able to come back home and recreate most of the aspects of the meal on my own from memory!
  • If you’re a wino like me, a wine tasting is a must-do.  The classes at O Chateau will walk you through the French vineyards and regions.  We walked away with a much greater appreciation of French varietals and their appellation system.
  • Gonçalo Silva was Flytographer’s first ever photographer hire and I was pretty excited to meet him and have him do a Paris portrait session for us.  We ended up having a blast wandering the charming streets of Montmarte with him and another Flytographer photographer, James.   We all loved each other’s company so much that two bars and a meal later, we finally concluded our evening together!

  • Fondation Louis Vuitton is an incredible display of design, color and architecture designed by Frank Gehry.  While we were visiting, they were hosting a traveling exhibit of 130 artworks collected by Sergei Shchukin, on display for the first time outside of Russia.  It was a really incredible collection, featuring tons from Matisse and Gauguin, not to mention the building itself.

Dinner Tonight: Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

I am not a creative cook.  I do not generally throw things together in a pot at my whim and fancy like my boyfriend does; I am a recipe follower.  I look to magazines, blogs and cookbooks for inspiration.  Bon Appetit, Cooking Light and Food and Wine are general staples in my mailbox.  Recipes from Smitten Kitchen, Eat, Live, Run and Thug Kitchen are frequently saved to my Chef Tap for reference at the grocery store.  When I was in college, I taught myself how to cook by reading and using recipes out of Cooking Light and 14 years later, not much has changed.

This recipe came from a new love of mine: Sunset Magazine.  Sunset Magazine is like a giant advertisement for a Pinterest worthy life where you have a house with huge windows and bay doors that open to a gorgeous patio overlooking a massive garden complete with chickens and go on glorious vacations all over the west coast and stay in hotels that I would never ever pay for.  This recipe for Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos caught my eye though as something rich and fancy but weeknight worthy due to very little prep work.  It was delicious and, as they said, decadent and quite wonderful.  It’s definitely guest worthy but wouldn’t travel well so it’s best served at home and not at a pot-luck.  Thanks to the shrimp inside, one pepper each totally filled us up and the roasted red pepper and fire roasted tomatoes give the sauce such a nice smoky flavor.

Roasted Shrimp Stuffed Poblanos

(recipe from Sunset Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 1 jar (12 oz.) roasted red peppers, drained
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 6 medium poblano chiles
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil $
  • 1 onion, chopped $
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 jalapeño chile, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed with a pan
  • 1 pound medium (36 to 42 per lb.) peeled, deveined shrimp, halved lengthwise $$
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature $
  • 1 cup shredded jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco* (Mexican-style fresh cheese)
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Whirl red peppers, tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp. salt together in a food processor until puréed. Pour into a wide 4-qt. shallow baking dish or 6 shallow 1-cup baking dishes. Set aside.
  2. Set poblanos over flames on a gas range (or set on a baking sheet and broil). Cook, turning often, until starting to turn black in spots, 8 minutes total. Let cool.
  3. Slit poblanos with one long cut down the center and a small perpendicular cut near the stem and remove seeds, leaving pepper and stem intact.
  4. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño, and coriander. Cook until softened, 4 minutes. Add shrimp and remaining 1 tsp. salt. Cook until shrimp starts to turn pink, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
  5. Stir cream and jack cheeses into shrimp mixture. Spoon into poblanos, dividing evenly. Set chiles in dish with sauce. Bake until filling is oozing and hot, 40 minutes. Top with queso fresco and cilantro.

Hotter than Hell

Every year my company sends me to Wichita Falls, TX to work this massive cycling event that I have yet to figure out the allure of participating in.

In Wichita Falls I do things like complain about the heat and lack of food.  I had to eat at Chili’s for god’s sake.  One time I ate out of the Walmart because it seemed like a better alternative to the fast food options in the city.  Now they have an On the Boarder which to their credit had real margs.  Regardless, my stomach was in turmoil for days.

I book-ended the work trip with some time visiting my mom, who I hadn’t seen since Thanksgiving and some time with my bffs from high school, LT and K.

My mom, Aunt Cheryl and I went to one of my favorite Dallas joints: Fireside Pies.   They’d been taunting me on twitter all month waxing and waning about their hatch chili pizza pie and it was everything I’d dreamed it would be.  I can’t go there without ordering the warm goat cheese which is served so simply that I could technically do it myself at home but honestly, everything tastes better when someone else makes it for you.  Big thanks to Fireside for the complimentary fresh berry cobbler – it was insanely delicious and devoured with great haste.

K and her sister and I went to a Ranger’s game at the Ballpark at Arlington, which was a blast right up until the relief pitcher hit another player in the head.  We also caught the Oddball Tour with Demetri Martin, Dave Chappelle and Flight of the Conchords and LT came with us.  It was pretty awesome.  I missed getting tickets to Flight of the Conchords the last time they toured the US, mostly because it was when their show was on and tickets were a hot commodity.  I’m happy to see Chappell back in action, though apparently he may not be as sound as we would hope he is.

Hottesthalf

Last, but not least, I made the mistake of signing up for a half marathon at White Rock lake that weekend.  If you aren’t aware, I am training running a half marathon every week and pretending like that’s training for a marathon.  It’s in 57 days.  I knew that if I didn’t sign up for an event, the likelihood of me completing a long run would be absolutely zero percent.  It was so humid and so hot that my clothes became soaked with water and sweat and there was nowhere for it to disperse to so I ended up with burn marks on my chest.  Pleasantly, however, my high school friend Maddie was also running and we ran the first 8 miles of the event together and I had a delightful time.  I’m proud to be sporting a K’s for Keegan technical tee!

Anyways, that’s my week in a nutshell.  I took my camera with me but didn’t even take it out of the bag.  Here’s some phone photos of the week instead.  Other pertinent info:

  • Custom cowbells via Cowbell Crusade.
  • Eat pizza and drink cocktails at any of the DFW area Fireside Pies.  You won’t regret it.
  • The ice cream at the new Sprinkles Ice Cream shop at Preston/Forest is worth the line.  It moves fast.
  • Wound Up Cafe kept us caffeinated at the Hotter than Hell expo, but they are actually a food truck located in Dallas.
  • We had brunch at Gloria’s on Lower Greenville after the half marathon.  It was bomb.  $2 mimosas on Sunday mornings but they don’t open until 11 AM which is CLEARLY not early enough for $2 mimosa drinking.

 

Dreu Murin, Wake Up Tahoe, Hard Rock Cafe Tahoe, Hard Rock Cafe Burger Challenge, Tahoe South, Reno Tahoe Event Photography, Reno Tahoe Event Photographers

Hard Rock Cafe Burger Challenge

Last week I was asked to assist my buddy Dreu Murin with a local event.

I whipped up a flyer really fast and was promised free wine for showing up and helping.  You know I don’t have to be asked twice when there is wine involved.

There wasn’t much required of me at the event itself other than drinking wine with the rest of the Girls Drinking Club so I snapped a few photos.  There was a super talented balloon artist on site, as evidenced below.  The winning burger was created by Tahoe local Brian Jefferies.  The always lovely and impeccably put together Adra Fenstermaker took 2nd.

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Summer Grill Time

It’s been one of the warmer, drier springs that I’ve ever experienced in Tahoe and as a result, it already feels like summer is in full swing here.  To maximize the great weather, we’ve been grilling a ton to really enjoy the late warm nights.  I just ordered a big picnic table on Amazon so we can eat dinner in the backyard because there is nothing better than a bottle of wine in the backyard after work as the sun goes down, all while dinner is on the grill, especially if I spent the entire sun filled day inside a retail store.   I need to get down to Holly’s Hill one of these days soon and buy a case of their Grenache Rosé, which accompanies BBQs and summer so perfectly you’ll think you’re on vacation, for at least as long as the bottle lasts you, which in my case is not very long.

What have we been grilling?  Awesomeness.  That’s what.

Our New Obsessions

Grilled Romaine, Reno Tahoe Food Photography

Grilled Romaine

1.  You might think that a head of romaine is the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard of putting on a grill, but I dare you to accuse it of ridiculousness after you’ve tried it yourself.   Recently, my friend Haley found an awesome website with a recipe for grilled romaine and it took me back to Nonna’s in Dallas, where we had a grilled romaine salad the night before the Dallas Marathon that knocked our socks off.  2 minutes on the grill and romaine is taken to a whole new level: warm, charred and unbelievably delicious.  It may be the easiest salad you’ve ever made.  Recipe via Thug Kitchen.

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Grilled whole wheat flatbread.

2.  Grilled flatbread: possibly better than grilled romaine.  We are constantly making homemade bread but rarely want to turn our oven on in Tahoe in the summer.  My new solution to this conundrum is to roll it out and grill it up.  The other night we grilled lemon and dill marinated chicken, a homemade tzatziki sauce, Greek salad and grilled bread.  You should be jealous.  Also, if you don’t already own this book, you should probably go ahead and get it.

Weeknight Dinners

Spring Pasta with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

It’s been awhile since I talked about food.

Whenever I’m in charge of a weeknight dinner, 9/10 times I gravitate towards noodles of some sort.  They are, most importantly, my favorite form of gluten, in addition to being generally fast, easy and fresh.  Thankfully Food and Wine recently had an entire issue devoted to Mario Batali recipes.  Heaven!

The recipe actually called for an amazing looking noodle called malfaldine, which is a thin lasagna.  I couldn’t find any at our local grocery store so I opted for fusilli lunghi.  I think the malfaldine would have been better but these were still fun and a great texture combined with the long strips of broccolini.  I also tripled the garlic.  I firmly believe that no matter who wrote the recipe, they were wrong.  Even Mario Batali.  There should always be more garlic.

Recipe via Food & Wine.

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LA Rendezvous

Every few years, my best mate Haley and I start missing each other and plan a little weekend get away to travel together and catch up.  We call them our “Rendezvous'”.  It just so happens that this year, Haley is marrying a wonderful man and she asked me to travel down to LA for a little rendezvous to celebrate her birthday and take engagement photos of them.

I hadn’t been to LA in years and had a blast drinking “rosé all day” with Haley, her fiance, and Anne, whose been staying in So Cal these past few weeks.  We had our toes done, drank wine while watching the sun go down at a gorgeous house in Palos Verdes, caught up with other old friends, and did a lot of daytime drinking, my favorite vacation activity.

My photos of Haley and Dave’s engagement session are still to come, but in the meantime, you can check out their sneak peak.  You can check out all the photos from my weekend in LA via this link.

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Dancing on the rooftop at the Standard Hotel.

If you want to visit Los Angeles, here are my recommendations.  In general, I like to stay away from LA and Hollywood and hide out in the coastal towns of Venice and Santa Monica, where you can totally do without a car. 

STAY:  This studio rental on Airbnb for two exudes beachy-ness from it’s pores: clean, comforting, and colorful!  Better yet, the stay includes the use of two cruisers, perfect for avoiding the LA traffic and cruising around Venice, Santa Monica, and the Malibu boardwalk.

EAT:

  • Gjelina is the type of place I could eat at three times in one day and not be tired of spending time there.  It’s overwhelmingly comfortable, yet sophisticated and the food is amazing.  The pizzas all sound so delicious it’s hard to choose and the salads are inventive.  It’s best to go as a group and order plates to share.  Word of warning: trust the chef because there is a very strict no substitutions or changes policy and they mean it, even if you’re a celebrity.
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Gjelina’s food is to die for. Just don’t ask to be treated special because you aren’t.

  • Intelligentsia may take their coffee a bit too seriously: the employees are pretentious and over-the-top hipsters but damn, that is a serious latte.  Don’t tell them I said that though, it might go to their heads.

DRINK:

  • It’s a shame that The Tasting Kitchen seems unable to bring the wow factor to their dishes in the same way that their atmosphere and bar does.  Reviews on Yelp for their food are hit and miss, which is exactly how my friends described their menu.  Regardless, skip the overpriced food fare and cozy up to the bar for some killer cocktails or our favorite, a bottle of rosé.
Engagement Sessions, Reno Tahoe Engagement Photographer, Tahoe Portrait Photographer, Tasting Kitchen, Venice Beach,

The Tasting Kitchen’s ambiance is personal, rich in texture, with clean lines with an interesting twist that brings outside, inside.

  • Oscar’s in Venice has a killer happy hour and amazing food and apps to boot.  Sit outside on the deck to take in the SoCal sunshine.
  • Act like you’re richer and cooler than you are and take the rail line to downtown LA and drink on the rooftop by the pool at The Standard Hotel.  There are often DJ’s on the decks on weekends.  With panaramic views of Los Angeles and the mountains beyond, there’s no better way to spend a sunny afternoon than here.  Also, don’t forget your swimsuit: the pool is heated.
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Champagne on the rooftop of The Standard, downtown LA.

  • Areal may not have the most amazing food around but it does have a gorgeous outdoor patio and more importantly, bottomless mimosas with the purchase of a brunch entree on weekends.  Don’t get me wrong: our food was solid and tasty, just not overwhelmingly memorable.  The experience however, was.
bottomless mimosas, brunch at Areal, Areal Restarant, Areal Venice, Los Angeles Travel, Reno Tahoe Photographer

The over-the-top Belgian Waffles at Areal in Venice.

PLAY:

  • The beach and boardwalk shouldn’t even have to be mentioned!
  • Get a glimpse of Hollywood without having to deal with Hollywood and tour Sony Studios in Culver City.  Afterwards, head over to downtown to wander and eat.  Culver City is so quaint and adorable it almost feels like you’re not in Los Angeles.

GET CULTURED:

  • Bergamot Station in Santa Monica was originally a trolley stop, built in 1875 for the Red Line Trolley, which ran from LA to the Santa Monica Pier.  Today, it features art galleries, museums and cafes.

Whipped delight

Woah.

Now, I’ve made some delicious cakes in my day, but to be punny, this one takes the cake.

It’s called the “Versatile Vanilla Cake” (recipe via Martha Stewart) and the icing was egg whites and sugar, brought to temperature over the stove and then whipped into a amazing meringue-like fury.

This is most definitely one recipe I’m saving to use again!

Superbowl Sunday

I’m not sure if you were on Twitter during the Superbowl blackout, but it was hysterical.

Way more hysterical and entertaining than the game itself.

Superbowl Sunday Taco Feast.

I’m not really a fan of pro football, but I am a fan of good food, friends and get-togethers.

We ate amazing fish tacos and things wrapped in bacon and decorated our faces and yelled a lot.

It was good times.

M took my camera hostage (she loves it) so we have a ton of photos from the festivities.  If so inclined, you can check them out here.

WOR: the experience

In addition to running around the expo for three days straight which was nothing short of exhausting, I was lucky enough to hang out at Snowbird with my friend Bill, spend a few days at the house of some rad friends of Megs and Jules, eat some bomb Indian food at the Himalayan House and lust over gorgeous French pastries at Gourmandise. I also learned to pogo stick with no hands at the SheJumps Happy Hour, saw my friend Laura who I used to work with at REI (and now works for Patagonia), and bought multiple amazing steel beer cups, none of which managed to make it home with me.

I also feel fortunate to have spoken briefly with Jay Beyer, who agreed to do so after I sent him an email that basically said, “I am an aspiring photographer and the photographer I aspire to be is you. Please don’t think that’s weird.”

His path into photography was fairly similar to mine and in short, I sometimes feel like I am putting too much pressure on myself to get better, faster.  I wanted to know 1) a realistic timeline of how he got to the point he is now and 2) where I should be focusing my energy regarding turning photography into a career rather than a hobby.  While I have a very clear idea of what it will take for me to become more proficient at the craft, I wasn’t sure what the best approach was regarding breaking into the outdoor retail industry.

Jay was full of information and provided some clear guidance.  In short: don’t mess around with magazines (they don’t pay and you don’t need tear sheets),  build your portfolio, don’t rely on friends as athletes, get up earlier, find a small company to partner with that you can grow together, don’t give away your photos for free.   Plan of attack: spend the next year working on my portfolio and return to outdoor retailer to talk with the marketing managers at each booth.

I took a ton of product photos at the event, most of which you can check out in my posts for Tahoe South.  Here’s the rest of them.

Want to go to Winter Outdoor Retailer?

Good luck getting in.  You either need to be employed by an Outdoor Retail Manufacturer or an Outdoor Retail Store that’s willing to send you, a member of the press, a brand sponsored pro athlete, or good enough friends with someone important that will provide you with a guest pass to get in.  If you do secure that pass and get to schmooze, drink and drool over the new gear coming out, here are my recommendations:

STAY: Airbmb has a ton of amazing options in Salt Lake, but I’m totally enamored with this historic mother-in-law unit that used to be a tailor shop.

EAT:

  • GourmandiseSeriously.  Every day.  For lunch also.  And desert.  Anytime, really.
  • Zest was a little hit or miss for us, but I think if you order right you’ll really enjoy it.  The cocktails (beet sangria!) totally stood out as clear winners here as well as the sliced cucumber w/ cashew chive cheese, the spinach salad and the pasta w/tomato sauce, spinach & kalamata olives.
  • Himalayan House is amazing Indian food.  Don’t skip the paneer chili or the momos.

SKI:

  • Snowbird Ski Resort has become one of my favorite mountains.  It has great steeps, gorgeous bowls and an amazing atmosphere.
  • Brighton and Solitude are great options for a smaller resort.  I loved Brighton’s hike-able in-bounds terrain when I was there.