Sadaharu Aoki Paris 2011

When you combine two of the greatest culinary capitals in the world together (that’s French and Japanese, mind you!)…you get Sadaharu Aoki, a very unique Japanese patisserie in the heart of France.  I first heard about this gem from David Lebovitz, and knew it would be a ‘must-visit’ in Paris.

When you arrive, take some time to soak in the colorful presentation of chocolates, macarons and other pastries!  Check out the unique Japanese macaron flavors: Black sesame, genmaicha (brown rice tea), wasabi, hojicha (oven roasted green tea), yuzu (citrus), matcha (fine powder green tea):

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White water rafting 2012

White water rafting in Sacramento has been one of the funnest things I’ve done this year.  Thanks to the  GoPro waterproof camera (mounted on top of the helmet), we were able to capture these moments for you!

Part 1 “Tunnel Chute”
This was the first rapid of the day!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTASeDA6dmE&hd=1

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Musée des Les Egouts de Paris 2011

If you visit Paris, you’re likely to visit the famous museums like the Louvre or d’Orsay…but have you been to Les Egouts de Paris (also known as the “sewer museum of Paris”)?  I visited in 2011, and I think it’s a ‘must see’ destination for any visitor who’s interested in engineering, public works or unusual tourist attractions — especially fans of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables, and the musical that it inspired.

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A l’Etoile d’Or & Bernachon chocolate

Having read raving reviews from my favorite Paris blogger David Lebovitz on A l’Etoile d’Or (blog post #1, #2), I knew I had to visit this shop when I visited Paris in 2011.  Owner Denise Acabo (can’t miss her pony tail!) has been selling sweets at this store for 38 years, and shows no sign of slowing down.  She is absolutely passionate and knowledgeable about each artisan confection and chocolate she sells…particularly Bernachon chocolate:

The main reason to visit A l’Etoile d’Or is simply because it’s the only place outside of the original shop in Lyon that sells Bernachon chocolate. If you’ve never had anything from Bernachon, close your laptop and get on the next flight to Lyon. Bernachon is one of the handful of chocolate shops in the entire world that makes the chocolate they use from scratch. That’s right, folks. They buy sacks of cacao beans, then roast and grind them into pure, dark bittersweet chocolate. [via]

Denise’s personal recommendation: the 62 % cocoa chocolates (higher cocoa % = more bitter).  I would agree they are quite good!  Here’s Denise teaching me about her chocolates:

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