Big kids, big city – brunch and other grown-up activities

TGIM…said no person, ever. Though I’m pretty stoked it’s Monday night, because that means we’re that much closer to the weekend! Speaking of, I just passed one of the best weekends in a long time. Me and my love went brunching, walking, photographing, thrifting, yoga-ing (well it was only me who yoga-ed) and baking.

This weekend was ‘my weekend’, meaning that Louis would do whatever I had in mind, so we spent our time doing our favourite activity – eating! On Saturday we went into Paris (something I haven’t done on the weekends for a loooong time ever since I started working in the city) and found the cutest spot to grab brunch, a cafe/restaurant called Twinkie.

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I chose this place because they offer FOUR different kinds of brunch (American, English, Scandinavian and Greek, drool). We both chose the Scandinavian menu which firstly came with a basket of mixed breads with jam, marmalade and Nutella. We both got large filter coffees, an OJ for Louis and carrot and orange juice for me. The real deal came shortly – eggs benedict with bacon, dripping in Hollandaise sauce and a fresh salad on the side. This was the best thing in life.

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Actually, maybe the best thing in life was the tiny little milk bottle the waiter brought over for me – see, he’s right there above my fork!!

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Don’t mind my tomato face, I got abit camera shy! Does anyone have a remedy for that by the way, y’know the kinda timid feeling you get when you bust out the huge Nikon camera in a restaurant. Or maybe it’s just me and I need to give less of a shit.

I thought the service here was great – all the waiters were attentive and polite, the food was served very quickly and the food itself was top. I loved the minimalist décor too, the bare walls gave it an unfinished feel and it felt spacious due to the light colours of the wood and walls. Upon leaving, we noticed that pretty much the whole road had interesting restaurants and cafes, like this Kurdish bistro just next door to Twinkie.

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Everyone looks so chilled, this is definitely on the list for ‘my’ next weekend.

Our Sunday was spent in much the same way, except that we drove to a town about 15m away from us called Marly le Roi. Back in the day of Louis XIV, this place used to have its own castle and one of the most beautiful gardens which unfortunately were destroyed during the Revolution. The park has been restored but we didn’t visit it as I had a yoga class scheduled later on, however if the weather still holds up this weekend I think we’ll pay another visit and check it out.

The main reason we went to Marly was because they were holding a vide-grenier, literally meaning ’empty attic’ which is basically a yard sale. This wasn’t like the professional marché aux puces that you find in Paris, more on the side of local families selling items and clothes no longer needed. We did a tour of the stalls and ended up going back to the first one we passed and buying this lovely bowl for a whopping 2 euros

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I envision myself serving tomato and mozzarella salads in this bowl, but seeing as though winter is coming (hehe) I’m probably not going to be eating salad any time soon. Fruit? Or maybe I’ll just stare at it empty because it’s so darn pretty.

After mooching around the yard sale, we decided we were hungry and got to searching for the vieille ville, or the old town, of Marly le Roi. This was the definition of quaint – pastels colours, winding narrow roads, cobbled streets, you get the drift.

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We ended up choosing a creperie for lunch – best choice we’ve ever made to be honest. Louis and I both agreed their crepes were even better than those we had in Brittany…! They were gloriously thin and crispy, not like the doughy, thick ones we’ve been used to, (which up until that point suited us just fine,) and now I don’t think we can ever go back to mediocre crepes. Again we chose the same crepe (I swear we don’t plan this), which was mushrooms, cheese a fried egg and a yummy sausage!

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On the same road there were some more restaurants which were all full and had mouth-watering smells emitting from them. There was Mexican, Creole, Indian, Italian, French, a burger restaurant, and a tea salon, just to name a few. I cannot wait to try them all out!

A weekend well spent makes the working days so much more bearable, all I keep thinking about is the fun time we spent and how we’ll discover new things the next time. And then I’ll be able to say once more, TGIF!

Bulgarian delights – Banitsa

Greetings beautiful people!

I’m so so happy it’s the weekend, finally a lie-in when I needed it the most, as have started to get abit sick these past few days (thank you Louis for passing me your cold).

Hmm, what else will I treat myself to this samedi and dimanche? Firstly copious amounts of home-made chai, YUM! Secondly, copious amounts of red wine, because duh. I’ve just popped open a bottle, after having an exhausting but satisfying day picking fruit and veg at our local coup de coeur, Les Fermes de Gally. Today we got pumpkins (!!!), leeks, rosy apples, onions (Louis has his eye on making French onion soup, always welcome), fresh corn, green bell peppers and the most fragrant carrots I’ve ever smelt. I have to do a full-on post about how incredibly useful, cheap and gratifying it is not only buying your produce locally but also getting your hands dirty in the process!

I also want to share this little recipe with you guys, something I learnt about 5 years ago at university that my amazing Tanya taught me. This is a traditional Bulgarian dish called banitsa, made from feta cheese sprinkled between layers of phyllo pastry and topped off with a sweet egg mixture and put to bake. A dash of sugar helps take the edge off the salty feta which literally melts in your mouth. I made this for Louis to try especially as he’d never had it before, and ended up making it twice in one week after my tastebuds realised how much they’d missed it. Thank you Tanya for teaching me, I have never forgotten it and gladly so because it is a winner.

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This is a perfect, simple option for breakfast or even lunch with a fresh salad on the side. Comment faire? Good job I’m here to tell you how –

Ingredients

8 sheets of phyllo pastry (I say 8 purely based on the pack I bought which sold 8, but I also think it’s a good minimum. If you have a few more just add some more feta)

1 brick of feta cheese (around 250g) crumbled by hand

2 eggs

50ml of milk

Teaspoon of sugar

Method

First, crumble the feta into small pieces, around the size of a thumb-nail but honestly do not feel the need to be pedantic about that. You just want to ensure that there’s enough feta to sprinkle on every layer of pastry (at the same time, don’t be too stingy for fear that you won’t have enough. You will).

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Line your baking tray with a sheet of baking paper or cover the base in some melted butter so the pastry doesn’t stick. Stick one layer down and start sprinkling feta. Lay another sheet down and repeat, continuing until all the sheets are finished. (Mine were too big for my baking tray – no biggie, just cut off the edges that spill out with a pair of scissors).

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In a bowl, crack the eggs and add the milk and sugar. Whisk. Before pouring this over the pastry, which when baked gives a golden colour and creamy taste, you want to cut through your layers of pastry and feta to make squares, as so.

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This ensures the mixture seeps through all the layers evenly. It can be abit tough cutting through raw pastry, again get out the scissors if it makes it easier.

Pour the egg mixture on top and pop into a pre-heated oven for about 15-20m on 180 C. This doesn’t take long to cook at all, it’s just cheese and egg!

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When ready, eat hot because it is at its ultimate best when fresh out of the oven I swear.

Bon appétit!