Archives du mot-clé travel

Raclette night at Astoria Bier and Cheese

Being an expatriate, I’m always trying to find things that reminds me of home. From bread and cheese to wine and even flowers… I always seems to try to reconnect with Paris.

One discovery that has helped me in this quest has been The Astoria Bier and Cheese shop. Luckily it just so happens it is also conveniently located in my neighborhood.  It’s a locally owned business that features craft beer and artisanal gourmet food. The selection of cheese and charcuterie is extensive and of the highest quality. I love this place not only because they offer products from home as well but they also features over a hundred different types of beers and ciders.The energy level is always high with lots of attracted young people enjoying the food and biers. This wonderfully trendy spot is located on Broadway in Astoria.

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We just happened to pass by the store a few weeks ago and noticed the sign featuring an upcoming raclette night. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing raclette, it is basically a velvety melted cheese scooped over potatoes and vegetables with lots and lots of chacuterie and bread. In France, you might have your own little melting skillet in which case you can melt as much cheese as you want. Here it is more commonly treated like a gourmet dish, so you might find yourself wanting more cheese (because it’s so good). However, in this case I knew the quality of their food and respect they have for their products so we decided we had to try it out.

When we got there, it was fairly crowded and noisy, as it is always the case, but we were lucky enough to find two seats by the bar. It didn’t appear to me personally that a lots of the people that were there for the raclette however. The price were very reasonable. The traditional raclette was 8$ and they had a truffle raclette for 10$. I have to confess I was a little skeptical about the truffle raclette because it’s very rare to find good truffle cheese but, in this case I was very wrong. I would say that the truffle raclette at Astoria bier and cheese was truly out of this world. I would go as far as to say that it’s one of the best that this French girl had ever had. You could also add the charcuterie for an extra 3$ as well as a small salad, which my husband said it was delicious. If I hadn’t mentioned it yet, the charcuterie was outstanding also.

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My only complaint about this meal was that there simply wasn’t enough cheese over my potatoes, leaving some of them a little try and lacking salt. Other than that, I really have nothing else to say except it was an excellent meal and we were pleasantly surprised. We left the restaurant full and happy with me thinking of memories of home.

Besides the raclette, I also would recommend their sandwiches. I have never had a bad one yet, they change the selection seasonally but I can say with confidence that you can’t go wrong with anything you choose. They also feature a growler station where you can fill up and take home one of your favorite beers on tap. Service is professional and friendly and will help you with any questions you might have. The atmosphere is so comfortable that my husband, who normally prefers to take out, is always happy to seat down and enjoy a meal with me. For me this is priceless. So if you are feeling a little homesick or just visiting and want a little taste of home, I would highly recommend to come visit my beautiful neighborhood Astoria and stop by the Astoria Bier and Cheese.

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Check it out and tell us what you think!!!

Orsay Museum

I’m not what you will normally describe as a fan of museums, however I have to say on our recently trip to the Orsay museum I was pleasantly surprised. In many ways it reminded me of the MET in NYC. Located in an former railway station built in 1898-1900, the Orsay museum is a site to be hold even for the jaded Parisian. After a brief restoration completed a couple of years ago, the building itself as well as the view of the Seine are breathtaking and worth the visit itself. Also most visitor to Paris put the Louvre at the top of their list, the Orsay museum provide a spectacular alternative. The price is 13$ (this is the standard museum admission fee for most of the museum in Paris) per person but admission is free if you are under 25 and show an ID at the cashier. Unfortunately, when we arrived it was already late and we were only able to spend 2 hours exploring, however I would suggest setting a side an half day. You might also consider that the museum is close on Thursday and you can have free admission on every first Sunday of the month. Note, this Sundays can be very crowded, so come early.

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As I mentioned earlier, most of the people consider the Louvre at the top of their list of museum to visit. Personally after our recent visit, I have to say with all things consider I prefer the Orsay museum. It is not as overwhelming in terms of scales and exhibitions and you won’t be as overwhelmed as you might trying to take it all in at the Louvre. I also felt a personal connection to these paintings, they almost talked to me. These are the paintings and sculptures you grown up seeing in books, movies and documentaries. I’m sure you will recognized at list one painting or sculptures for some moments in your life. To be able to get up close and see the marks of the brushes and see how meticulous the artists were in their work was informative and inspiring. Even as a novice like myself, being exposed to this grand masterpieces gave me the curiosity to pay more attention to the details and learn more about the artists.

You will find a large collections of impressionist and post impressionist masterpieces, from such legendary artists like Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Van Gogh… to just name a few. It is one of the largest museum in Europe. There is something to see in every corner, even if like me you do not necessary like art, I promise you will find a painting or exhibits that will touch your heart.

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If you decide to visit the museum, choose a day when the horizon is clear and the sky is blue. There are so many great view points on the second floor to take in the sites of Paris, especially of Montmartre. Unfortunately we didn’t have a great weather during our recent visit and the pictures we took just did not do the view justice. Luckily, there is a beautiful café on the second floor, located just behind the Railway station clock. The location is really cool and the food is excellent.

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My parents visited the museum 20 years ago and this was the first time they returned since. My husband has been pushing us all to rediscover Paris, through the eyes of a tourist and as opposed to a busy Parisian who doesn’t have the time to appreciate this amazing city. It is been a lots of fun to actually rediscover some of the city little secrets and hidden pleasures.We had a great day and I will definitely try to take my husband back when we have the time. If you happen to be traveling to Paris in the near future, you should seriously consider adding a visit to this museum on your list. 

If you are fortunate enough to have good weather during your visit, you might consider a nice leisurely stroll along the Seine. Stop at one of the many side café and have a coffee and some croissant as well as people watching like a true Parisian.

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As I mentioned, the Louvre can be very overwhelming, as one day might be enough for a visit at the Orsay museum, the Louvre might be 2-3 days. I have been fortunate enough to visit the Louvre around 5 times in my life mostly due to school visit. Now that we have visited the Orsay museum, I’ll make sure on our next trip that we have enough time to take in everything the Louvre has to offer as well. I will say that as a Parisian, I now appreciate even more how fortunate we are to have two such specials jewels in our wonderful city.