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Travel|| A day trip to Paris

8.5 hours. 27,000 steps. Five key sights. Four food stops. I have to say, our day trip to Paris was a huge success.

And I had the best travel companions/tour guides/jokers to show me the ways – Erica and Fran. My work gals and friends.

Day trip to ParisDay trip to Paris

I’d actually never been to capital of France before this trip. Never. I know, I know. Like many others I’m sure you won’t be able to believe it either. Being a huge foodie, and transport being so easy these days, it’s a surprise to most.

With this in mind, the girls had taken my list of restaurants, their list of pink and purple buildings, and the sightseeing musts to create an awesome Google map. It was actually Fran who pulled this together (a geek at heart). It showed our route and all the stops nearby. Colour coded dependent on what the stop was. We had a colour for sweet food, one for drinks and one for photo spots. Now this is the organisation I can get on board with.

a day in Paris

The Eurostar was super easy. Booked in advance you can get some great deals. We got our tickets for roughly £80 return. First train out (6.13), second to last back (19.13), it gave us almost a full day. Check in is pretty speedy at that time of day too. One good thing to note is that gates close 30mins before departure, but you do pretty much start boarding then too.

Day trip to Paris

The sights:
We visited five key places. Ones I’d highly recommend seeing for yourself. Purely because the beauty simply can’t be portrayed to the full via a photo.

The architecture, size and stunning nature of all the key sights we visited was truly breathtaking. But even the walks between each played host to stunning views, cute streets and alleys, and beautiful buildings.

Day trip to Paris Day trip to Paris

Sâcré-cœur

A Roman Catholic church and minor basilica, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Building started in 1872, and the architecture remains absolutely beautiful today.

A walk up a steep hill, but truly worth it. The views from the top take your breath away as much as the building itself.

Day trip to Paris Day trip to Paris

The queue to actually enter and climb to the top was incredibly long when we visited. So we didn’t get that privilege. But should you be lucky enough to visit on a quieter day, or when you have more time, it’s only five euros. Next to nothing for that experience.

Montmarte is where Sâcré-cœur is. Not far from the basilica, there’s a market square surrounded with cute french brasseries and restaurants. Just how you’d imagine Paris. There are streets coming off the square too, with food tops and shops. Such a cute area to explore.

Day trip to Paris Day trip to Paris

Moulin Rouge

The birth place of the modern form of cancan dance. Originally a seductive dance, the can-can evolved into a form of entertainment, Cabaret. The original building burnt down in 1915, the new Moulin Rouge still features much of the same decor and offers visitors dance shows.

Rumoured more stunning in the evening, it’s worth a visit at any time of day to say you’ve seen it.

Day trip to Paris

Notre-Dame

A medieval catholic cathedral with french gothic architecture. A well-known location playing prime spot in the Disney classic, it’s truly magical in real life.

We wandered round the sides looking at the gargoyles, taking in the architecture and view. A true beauty.

Day trip to Paris

The Louvre

The most amazing museum I ever did see. Previously a palace, it’s one HUGE pyramid made of glass. Truly stunning.

We observed from a distance. It was so busy around The Louvre, and we didn’t fancy fighting the crowd for a substandard view. With only 8 hours to see everything, we didn’t have time for a museum tour either. But I was pleased to have been able to visit and see from where we were.

Day trip to Paris

Palais Garnier

Finished in 1875, The Palais Garnier is a national opera house in Paris. Once the setting for the Phantom of the Opera, the Palais Garnier is now mainly used for ballet. It’s also home to the Paris Opera Library-Museum, and you can tour the opera house too!

Its archietcture is stunning. From the outside, another truly beautiful building, with golds and detailed architecture.

Day trip to Paris

And that’s it for the sights. I know what you’re thinking… No eiffel tower? It was the opposite direction to our map and food stops. But that’s just an excuse to go back. There’s way more foodie stops to try anyway. Here’s the ones we tried…

Crepes – Roughly €3.50

A Parisian crepe is a must! I mean France is the home to crepes. There are plenty of crepe stops up in Montmarte. All serving them straight from the hot plate.

Day trip to Paris

At only €3.50 for the one we got they’re pretty cheap and good for on the go. Toppings-wise, go lemon and sugar so you can actually taste the pancake. They’re not overly buttery, or too sweet.

Eclair at L’Eclair de Genie – €5.90 each

We stopped here on route between two sights. The best food stop I’ve ever stumbled across.

The eclairs at L’Eclair de Genie are amazing. Forget cream. These are filled with fruity and buttery fillings. the choux pastry is fresh and sweet, not too thick. The flavours are amazing – they almost dance on the tongue. The Salted Caramel Butter option was great, but the fruity options won me over. The passionfruit was sweet, zingy and delicious!

Day trip to Paris Day trip to Paris Day trip to Paris

Sandwich at Maison Eric Kayser – €6

Because you have to have a cheese baguette in Paris, we all went for a mozzarella and tomato number at Maison Eric Kayser. The fresh olive bread, warmed so the mozzarella melted, was fab. There was plenty of filling, and after such a long walk I was dying for more carbs to refuel for more exploring.

Service was atrocious. Rude. Short changed. So I might try elsewhere next time. We walked past several boulangeries, so they’re not too hard to find.

Gelato at Sorbet D’Armour – €5

Two scoops. In a waffle cone. Because how can you pick just one when there’s so many flavours you want?

Sorbet D’Armour was actually over the road from the spot we originally wanted to try. But I’m glad we decided to try somewhere different to just the spot which is raved about by so many. This should be THAT spot.

Day trip to Paris

The Nutella gelato was like eating from the jar with a spoon, mixed with ice cream. It was amazing. And the vanilla, salted caramel and nuts, was a great option to accompany it. Not overly sickly, but creamy and indulgent.

I’ve already asked the to open a spot in London. We need one.

Summary:

  • Getting around – easy to walk everywhere. Single on the metro is only €1.90 if you want to get somewhere faster, or don’t want to explore along the way
  • Food – so many highlights on our trip, but so much left to try. I definitely need a trip back!
  • Drinks – I had a glass of red which was great and only €5.50. Other than that, we stuck to plenty of water to keep hydrated as wandering the city
  • The sights – absolutely stunning. You have to see them for yourself to realise how they make you speechless
  • Time in city – being able to pop over for the day is great. But you definitely need longer to fit in as much food as possible, and all the sights. I’d recommend a couple days, more if you want to do the museums.

Day trip to Paris

I’m planning more city breaks. We’re so close to European cities, there’s no excuse not to visit more. Where have you been recently? Which foodie destination should I try next?

Chloe xx

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Eating Out|| The Plough, Ford – The Cotswolds

The Plough has been around since the 16th century. Located in Ford, a little hamlet in Gloucestershire, between Tewkesbury and Stow-on-the-Wold, it’s almost the middle of nowhere. But that’s what adds to the magic.

Last year The Plough was awarded the Best Cotswold Pub in The Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards, for supporting local suppliers to produce quality food. Another reason why, when my Dad mentioned a visit, it immediately became a must!

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

The Plough is a cosy, homely country inn. A roaring wood burner, untreated wooden country-dining style tables and chairs, paintings dressing the walls, and quirky ornaments spotted about, it’s almost what you’d expect from a village pub.

Getting in is a bit confusing. The car park is on the opposite side of the road and the entrance round the back. It’s like you have to walk through the beer garden to get to the door, which does look like it’d make a great little spot in the summer.

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

But after that, you have the warm welcome at the bar, the choice of tables (well on a Saturday lunchtime – but by the sound of all the bookings coming in it must get busy), and relaxed service. The team were friendly enough. Not overly chatty, but accommodating. The only real wait being for someone to take our order, which was a little longer than expected. But food didn’t take too long, especially as it’s all cooked fresh to order.

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

On the note of food, there’s plenty of choice. Between the standard menu and the specials, there’s pretty much something for all, from pub classics to more contemporary takes on the favourites. From smoked haddock fish pie with cheesy mash to half roasted Gressingham duck (with orange sauce) with bubble and squeak or beef with mushrooms in a creamy black peppercorn sauce with saffron rice, the choice can be a tough one.

Although the starters did sound fab too, like the Japanese crumbed squid rings and black pearl scallops with chorizo sausage & lemon oil,  portions in general are huge. So I’d definitely say hold out for the main event.

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

The pie of the day was a chicken, leek and ham when we visited. Served with a choice of chips or mash (a no brainer, pie has to be served with mash) and peas, it’s a pub classic whoch went down a treat. The pie was delicious, with a good filling to pastry ratio, and the mash was creamy. The dish also came with a little pot of creamy sauce which had a subtle chicken taste to it – dad’s description was “chicken soup sauce”, which actually pretty much summed it up! Haha.

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

The fish pie was one of the best I’ve tasted. The smoked flavour of the haddock came through beautifully, there was plenty of fish and the cheesy mash topping took it to another level. The roasted vegetables which accompanied the dish were a la dente, and full of natural flavours – you know sometimes the carrots just don’t taste of anything, well not here. They also looked super cute!

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

The vegetarian wellington however. It was definitely on par with my favourite beef one. Stuffed with goat cheese, butternut squash, spinach & walnut, it was filled with well-thought out textures and flavours. It was rich, emulating a traditional wellington, and super tasty. It arrived with garlic & parsley sautéed potatoes (crispy on the outside, fluff in the middle), a creamy wild mushroom sauce, and a choice of vegetables or salad. The salad, the option I chose, was fresh and crisp, and not just your usual side salad. It had a good mix of leaves, cress, onions, pepper, cucumber and tomato.

The Plough at Ford, The CotswoldsThe Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

After that, there’s not much space for anything else. Even with the sticky toffee pudding and banoffee pie calling me.  No regrets though, as I was enjoying my main too much, and could not have stopped!

As we were driving that day, I didn’t get to try any of the Donnington Ales. The large diet coke – a pint! – quenched all thirst.

The Plough at Ford, The Cotswolds

SUMMARY:

  • Price: Mains priced between £10.95 and £21.95. Some of the dishes, as you expect, are more expensive (i.e. the fillet steak). Portions are more than generous so you get what you pay for.
  • Food: Quite a variety between the main menu and the specials. Great quality! Each dish we tried was delicious. But I did notice they didn’t have any vegan options, and little vegetarian options, which is quite important in today’s world.
  • Drinks: They serve local Donnington Ales, from a brewery in Stow-on-the-Wold – something I didn’t get to try but would have loved to taste! Large diet coke was £3, which is pretty expensive considering other options.
  • Atmosphere: Homely. Like a country dining room, with a wood burner roaring. Quite quiet on a Saturday lunchtime.
  • Wait: Seated straight away. Wait for someone to take our order was a little longer than expected, but food didn’t take too long, considering it was cooked fresh.

Have you discovered a fab place to eat in the Cotswolds?

Chloe xx

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Chloe & Alex Try || Raising the steaks (M&S Beef) & tips for the best burger

I’ve been eating less beef recently. Chilli isn’t always what I want when it’s warm out. And when I’m limited to time in the evenings, and occasionally on creativity too, simple burgers are the other main thing which pop to mind. But they’re not always what I fancy. Which I know disappoints Alex. 

I’ve come to the conclusion I was just un-inspired by the meat. I wasn’t feeling the urge to try and create anything more summery. I just don’t think I realised how good beef could be. Whatever the weather.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

I recently attended an event with M&S where I learnt all about its beef. Did you know, they can actually trace all meat back to the cow through DNA tracing, not just the farm? Someone has already asked me why you would want to know that info. But it’s more to do with the fact that you know it’s come from a healthy animal and that it’s all recorded.

They also only work with select farmers (from two suppliers), all of which have been hand-selected and rigorously tested. A team personally goes out to validate each farm. They know every animal, when its born, etc. and really do care about where the meat comes from and how animals are treated. Which I think is fantastic!

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

What’s more, all the beef in store is 100% British. Totally repping that local produce. Even sandwiches and ready meals include British beef which has gone through the same tracing as it’s most expensive meat. Which is pretty cool!

We heard from one of their suppliers, Kettyle, from Linden Food Group, who manufacture air and salt-dried beef. Morris who founded Kettyle, travelled the world to learn about beef and now aims to be super innovative within the industry.  They’ve created their own unique salt block (which has been patented) to help with the ageing process. We heard all about the dry-aged beef, and how the more aged it is, the more flavoursome it is. Although when it gets to over 100days, it does start to go a bit funky.

All this knowledge and insight started inspiring me to try more beef recipes. From salads to sandwiches, brunches and even using a bit of aged steak to top dishes, I wanted to try it all.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideasThis was the dessert from the event – beef fat biscuits, chocolate ganache with miso, dark chocolate with wasabi. Amazing. So creative. 

We of course talked through burgers – they’ve sold millions of patties this year. The M&S “Best Ever Burger” has recently launched too. Made from chuck steak, brisket and short rib, each burger even includes bone marrow which is processed by hand. There’s no added rubbish either, just a little breadcrumb and salt. Exactly how a burger should be! It’s one super tender burger, packed with flavour.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

Alex and I had one the other night – and it topped all other burgers. Definitely not a simple burger. But how you serve it really does make the difference. You have to think about the flavours, the textures and how to make that burger as far from simple as possible.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

Because we both like our burgers topped a little differently, here are some of our tips for the ultimate burger – no simple ones:

  • Fried > oven. The fats from the burger should grease the pan itself, so don’t use extra oil. Frying helps keep the flavours from the fats in the burger. You don’t want to lose that to the grill tray.
  • Cheese – The meltier the better. I do love a blue cheese in my burger, but it does over power the other flavours. The new M&S cheese melts are SO good. They’re crumbly, and creamy and melt really easy. They’re easy to add and delicious in flavour.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

  • Bacon – Crispier the better. Adds a delicious crunch to the burger. If you have time, even add a super crispy piece, and a couple slightly less crispy for a good mix.
  • Salad – Absolutely no tomato. It just slides out, or comes out in one go the minute you bite into it. But Lettuce and onion I’m all for.
  • The bun – we always disagree about this aspect. Alex loves a brioche bun. I love a more flavoursome wholemeal/cheesy one, or even a sesame seed topped roll.
  • Get creative – bored of burgers? Shake up the buns and toppings. There are so many combos! Ever tried adding Peanut Butter to a burger? Try blue cheese or feta instead of cheddar/cheese melts. Add mac’n’cheese or brisket too – not the healthiest, but certainly worth it. Even switch up the sauce, or go bunless with salad.

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

It’s not just the burgers we’ve tried. And there are plenty more beef and steak product we’re dying to try too. As mentioned, I’m now totally inspired to try more beef dishes…

Other beef recipe ideas I’ve tried or am now dying to try:

  • Steak Asian salad – we made this at the event. With green leaves, radish, asparagus, slaw, caramelised nuts and a light dressing (sesame oil, oyster sauce, soy sauce and lime), it was simple yet delicious.

  • Open top brisket kebabs – I made these last weekend. Topped with hummus, beetroot, apple & pink cabbage, brisket, halloumi, carrot and herbs. They were amazing! Definitely a more summery dish

M&S Beef + Beef recipe ideas

  • Beef jerky salad with peach – I think the beef would go so well with the juicy flavours from the peach. Throw some nuts in too for some added texture.
  • Salt beef hash – Love a hash for brunch! So thinking I might add salt beef next time; or perhaps even have salt beef eggs benny.
  • A sweet potato salad bowl, with a rainbow of vegetables and rare steak. I love a sweet potato dish, so think this would make the perfect summery dish.

Keep an eye out for more beef recipes coming your way.

Do you eat beef/steak very often? How do you eat yours?

Chloe xx

* I was invited along to the M&S beef event. All views my own. 

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Eating Out|| Chelsea Creperie

Monday sure crepes up on us quite quickly 😉 can leave you feeling flat as a pancake… (ok I’m stopping with the puns). But I’ve found the saying “a Sunday/weekend well spent brings a week of content” to ring pretty true. So it’s even more important to make the most of the weekends…doing the things you love and need.

For me, that’s food. Well gym too. And seeing friends. But you can do that over food right?! Plus a little rest and relaxation, catching up on the fave TV shows.

Bank Holiday Weekends seem to leave me with work blues. Lots more than any usual weekend. The extra day really makes a difference. It’s like I get holiday blues. But I’m still adamant we need one every month. So on Bank Holiday Monday we headed South to Chelsea for crepes.

Chelsea Creperie

Chelsea Creperie is a small, independent creperie directly opposite Chelsea & Westminster Hospital. The inside feels like a minimalist cafe, but with amazing landscape canvasses on the walls. There’s only about 26 covers, so it is small. But it wasn’t overly busy at 12pm on the bank holiday. I think the location might make people second-guess how good it is. But it really shouldn’t.

Chelsea Creperie

The menu is pretty extensive. More variety than Le Creperie de Hampstead. There are plenty of sweet savoury crepe options, and even a few all day breakfast numbers. The savoury side of things, had lots of cheesy veggie numbers as well as meatier choices including a Mediterranean (Feta, spinach, tomatoes, olive and pesto), Tartiflette (Reblochon cheese, gratin dauphinois, bacon, crystallised onions, cream) and the Norwegian (Smoked salmon, cream, lemon, dill). The sweet side had all the usual you’d expect and more, from Sugar Lemon or Nutella to Belle Helene (Vanilla gelato, pear, dark chocolate, whipped cream) and Amazing Apple (Crystallised apple, salted caramel, vanilla gelato, cinnamon, whipped cream). There are even a several waffles, and few salads on there too…although not sure why you’d do that to yourself whilst your pancake date is eating these…

Chelsea Creperie

The crepes themselves are made from buckwheat. This makes them more brown in colour, and taste more savoury. Almost like a wholemeal crepe. Each holding (actually almost hiding) the ingredients inside, showing only a peek into the fillings.

Chelsea Creperie

The All Day Breakfast is a pretty beasty crepe. With chopped bacon, a sausage, fried egg, cheddar, baked beans (minus the mushrooms & tomato, because y’know, Alex) it was packed with filling. The baked beans didn’t make the filling too runny, so there was still the urge for a bit of ketchup/brown sauce. The sausage was pretty tasty, as was the bacon. The yolk was just runny. It was like a better version of a full english, with a crepe rather than toast.

Chelsea Creperie

The Chevre was even better in my eyes. Goats cheese, crystallised tomatoes, rocket salad, honey & walnuts makes this one seriously cheesy crepe. Goats cheese and tomatoes is always a good combo. But slightly melt the cheese, add crunchy walnuts and you have one fab combo. It almost tastes a little indulgent, but the buckwheat crepe reminds you it’s not actually unhealthy. I loved it.

Chelsea Creperie

It was different having a rocket salad on the side. But something I’d definitely do again. Even with breakfast crepes!

The drinks menu surprised me a little. There weren’t just teas, coffees, juices & smoothies, but beer, cider, fizz and wine too! So if you’re after a boozy brunch/lunch they have you covered.

For those not drinking (through detox, choice or being hungover – crepes make a great hangover brekkie), there’s plenty of choice too. The smoothies were great. Both really cold, sweet and fruity. The strawberry and banana slightly thicker, it was a delicious consistency. And perfect temperature for Alex.

Chelsea Creperie

The strawberry, banana & beetroot ( a special at the time), blew my mind. I’d never thought about putting beetroot in a smoothie before, but it tasted SO GOOD. The beetroot adding a sweeter edge, and tangy after taste.

The smoothies were a great finish to breakfast, ending the meal on a sweet note.

SUMMARY:

  • Price: With crepes between £3 and £11.50, it’s pretty good for Chelsea. Ours were £8.50 and £9.
  • Food: The buckwheat crepes are so tasty. Plenty of options for fillings.
  • Drinks: There is alcohol available, but I’d highly recommend getting a smoothie!
  • Atmosphere: Quiet, minimalist cafe. Friendly, attentive team.
  • Wait: There were plenty of tables free on arrival. The wait for food wasn’t long at all – the crepes are whipped up fresh in no time.

Where do you go for crepes? What are your favourite fillings?

Chloe xx

*I was invited along to review Chelsea Creperie. All views my own. 

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Recipe|| Bacon & Pesto Crusted Chicken Thighs

Chicken is the one reason I couldn’t go fully vegetarian. Ok, and fish, but on the meat side of things. I could live without bacon. A life without steak and I could deal. I wouldn’t even miss sausages. But chicken. Especially a good chicken thigh recipe. I just can’t give it up.

So when it comes to cooking for Alex (a total meat eater) and I, chicken appears A LOT. Also because it’s quite often cheaper than other good quality meat options. 

Bacon, Chilli Pesto Topped Chicken Thighs Recipe

I like to shake it up, and although I do love the slow cooker in the week, I’m not always that prepared.

This recipe came about due to leftovers – something which inspires many of my dishes. I am not one for food waste. 

With bacon and pesto to use up, and some bread in the cupboard which was starting to go off, I decided it’d make the perfect combo for a crispy topping for my chicken thighs. And it sure did.

Bacon, Chilli Pesto Topped Chicken Thighs Recipe

Chopping the bacon into small pieces, and frying until crispy, gave the crunch I was looking for. The smoky flavour, accompanied with the nutty, chilli pesto was beautiful, and with a little parmesan, even better. The bread added a little more texture, but also bulked out the mixture to cover more chicken thighs.

Bacon, Chilli Pesto Topped Chicken Thighs Recipe

Added after the thighs were cooked, the chicken was then grilled to crisp the top up. Pretty easy. Yet very tasty, and a fab change to the usual chicken dishes.

It was delicious served with roasted potato slices and a fresh simple salad. It’s balanced and not too heavy meal.

The recipe is below.

How do you like your chicken? Have you tried anything new recently?

Chloe xx

Bacon, Chilli Pesto Topped Chicken Thighs Recipe

Bacon & Pesto Crusted Chicken Thighs

A fab way to spice up those chicken thigh dinners

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 bacon rashers
  • 4 tsp chili pesto
  • 2 tsp parmesan
  • 1 bread slice going off, or lightly toasted

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 220° celsius. Pierce each of the chicken thighs and place in a mixing bowl. Cover in the soy sauce and sprinkle in the all-purpose seasoning to cover evenly.

  2. Wrap the chicken thighs in foil (so the juices stay in) and cook in the oven for 35 minutes. 

  3. Whilst the chicken is in the oven, cut the bacon into lardons and fry until crispy. Place in a small bowl and mix with the chilli pesto and parmesan. Tear the bread into small pieces and stir into the chilli pesto mix. 

  4. Once the chicken is cooked, spoon the chilli pesto mix onto each of the chicken thighs. Push down lightly with the back of a spoon or your fingers. Grill for 5-10 minutes, until starting to brown. 

  5. Serve with roasted potato slices and fresh salad, or grains and seasonal veg. Enjoy!

Bacon, Chilli Pesto Topped Chicken Thighs Recipe

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