Recommended by CNN – Smoothie House

exterior

This is SO three years ago and I know I’m late to the party but adverts for the best shaved ice in Taipei are still up in Dongmen MRT station. They stretch for metres along the escalators and they all say one thing, “Recommended by CNN“. Smoothie House is also referred to by locals as “the famous shaved ice place” and rightly so as it was packed with tourists and the staff are trained to speak English.

smoothie house

Taiwan has always been the stuff of tropical fruit dreams so it wasn’t a surprise that their Super Mango Snowflake Ice is highly recommended. We took one of those and a Yoghurt Berry Snowflake Ice, both around 220NTD.


Smoothie House definitely lives up to expectations with flavours that are natural and fruits that are freshly bought from local farms. You don’t feel an overload of sugar when you finish the bowl but sharing is advised as portions are quite large. Shaved ice is a must for anyone visiting Taiwan!

Address: No.15, Yongkang St., Da’an Dist., Taipei City 10650, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Telephone: +886-2-2341-6161
Opening hours: AM 9:30 ~ PM 11:00

Advertisements

The Epitome of Instagram-worthy: Drunk Café

drunk cafe

After a meticulous search across the worldwide web, Wendy came up with this gorgeous location. My phone vibrated continuously as the pictures came in; it looked perfect!
“Wonderful! See you on Sunday!!” I typed back.

interior

Sunday night and I was the first to arrive. The café was gorgeous with its fairy lights hanging from the black ceiling like a thousand stars, throw pillows adorning every sofa and armchair. The feathered ceiling lamps were like something from an interior design magazine and the whole effect was completed with neon signs.

bar

I was rather surprised that the place seemed much smaller than in the pictures but it turned out that half the café was closed due to renovations…

The food is standard with prices that are quite affordable (NT$320 for the spaghetti, NT$200 for a glass of white wine) but I’m sure the majority of clients come back mainly for the decor and perhaps the cocktails on their lengthy and impressive list but I have yet to try those.

All in all, it is the perfect place to catch up with the girls over a drink and to take a few (or a couple) Instagram photos. Wink*
Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend Drunk Café for dinner as the tables are quite low which makes it impractical for eating but mainly because it really is more of a beverages and snacks establishment than a proper, full-on restaurant.

Regardless, it is definitely worth a visit.

love

Drunk Café
Address: No. 9, Lane 116, Guangfu South Road, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106
Telephone: 02 2731 8787

 

A Michelin Star Experience in Taipei – Longtail

decor

Quite frankly, many people would be surprised to know we have a couple Michelin star restaurants in this island city. After all, we’re not as renowned as the French for our cuisine, neither are we as international as other cities, like Hong Kong, for example.

This year, Longtail was awarded one Michelin star along with 17 other restaurants in Taipei so imagine my excitement after a year abroad! Sadly, I was too busy catching up and focusing on the food to take photos of the decor which was simple, chic and straightforward. Nothing too fancy or fussy.

So why is it called Longtail?

When I was asking for the WIFI password which was “blue magpie”, I misheard it as “blue may pie” at first and had asked the waitress in a joking manner, “Why blue may pie? Does the owner like to eat it?”
She smiled and responded professionally, “I have no idea but I will ask for you.” And off she went.
A few minutes later she explained that as the national bird of Taiwan is the blue magpie and due to the length of its tail, the restaurant was therefore named: LONGTAIL. I thought it was an adorable detail so I thought I might add it in here.

Walking into the restaurant, you are met with the bar which looks refined and upscale with its standard wall of whiskeys, gins, liqueurs and bartenders in uniform. Longtail has a lovely selection of wine from almost everywhere, not just France, which often tends to be the case in Taipei. I was pleased to see they had a lovely, affordable bottle of Nero d’Avola from Sicily as well.

The meal consisted of six starters due to my friend’s suggestion; he’d been here a couple times so I thought it wise to just follow his advice. Apparently their starters are far more superior to their mains…

kanpachi

We started with the kanpachi sashimi whose light, fresh flavours made it the perfect début and a beautiful introduction for the stronger flavours of the uni and crispy nori rice entrée which were pungent and present.

uni

Next was the fig toast with ricotta cheese. This was the dish that introduced me to ‘lemon balm’. How did it take me 24 years of life to discover this gorgeous grass?!

fig

Then came a delicate plate of charred foie gras dumplings with sweet corn sauce which was definitely an interesting pairing and a memorable dish! Who would’ve thought?! Foie gras, a Christmas favourite and a fairly expensive, luxury food item with everyday, ordinary sweet corn. Genius.

dumplings

After that innovative piece were the shrimp sliders. This is probably the most sophisticated burger I have ever eaten in my life. So much hard work and care had been put into every layer that it was almost a pity to finish it off!

sliders

Last but not least, the crunchy soft shell crab with its spectacular salted egg yolk sauce. What a twist the sauce was! It certainly brought the dish together and was definitely something I had never tried before. I particularly appreciated the greens that accompanied the crab bringing with it a lightness that counteracted the greasiness often associated with anything fried.

softshell crab

Conclusion: divine; both the service and the food.
I read someone else’s blog post about their experience at Longtail and they had complained about the service, but apparently that was when the restaurant had first opened so perhaps there was some tweaking to be done. I can testify that the service is currently top notch! What a wonderful re-introduction to the gastronomic scene of Taipei!

Click here to check out the Longtail menu
For reservations: +886 2 2732 6616
Address: No. 174, Sec. 2, Dunhua S. Road, Da’an District, Taipei

 

 

 

A Little Slice of Italy at La Felicita

Prepare to feast your eyes on the biggest restaurant in Europe~

entrance1.jpg

La Felicita, from the successful restaurant group Big Mamma, is a DIY, self-service, food market type restaurant in the 13th arrondissement. This huge space is creatively decorated with greenery, fairy lights and food stands. You can find seats everywhere, even in the library area on the second floor which gives you a gorgeous view of the entire space and is the perfect spot for a cosy cocktail.

While queuing up outside, the staff will hand out menus for you to browse as well as a map. You see, the thing is, every food stand offers something different. It might sound like a hassle but the food hunt if actually quite fun! Be weary of going during the weekend as the line was around 30-35 minutes long and would be rather tedious without friends to chat with.

Once the three of us had found a table, we sat down to ponder over the menu. It was decided that we would be having the BBQ ribs (12 euros), the truffle pasta (16 euros), a starter consisting of burrata and fennel saucisson (12 euros – 6 euros for each ingredient) as well as one bottle of white wine (which later became two bottles! – 19 euros for rosé and 21 for white). This added up to approximately 21 euros per person! Not bad especially for the quality of the food: fresh and delicious!

Also, the bar is probably one of the most impressive I’ve seen with hundreds of bottles of alcohol beautifully displayed on its shelves. The toilets are no exception – say hello to your childhood friends, ‘Ken and Barbie’ who will greet you at the door.

bar

Frankly, 5 out of 5 for this establishment! I will definitely be going back!

me

Bar à iode – Seafood Paradise!

seafood-platter.jpg

To say that it’s a hidden gem in the heart of Paris does not even begin to cover le bar à iode. It ranks high on my list because these are one of those rare moments when quality, price point and service come together in perfect balance. Honestly, it doesn’t get better than this! However, in all fairness, I have yet to try L’ilot which embodies the same concepts but was sadly closed for the summer vacation period when we had attempted to get our hands on one of their highly praised seafood platters. Alors! A la prochaine!

So what exactly makes bar à iode so exciting? Let’s just say that Paris is not exactly seafood haven as the city is completely landlocked which is why fresh, high quality seafood is so expensive. This is also why finding a place like bar à iode is such a game changer. Prepare yourself for large, copious platters, much like the ones you get in Bretagne, Normandie etc…but for the SAME PRICE IN PARIS.

On this particular night, we had the petit iode platter which usually comprises of 4 fine de claire oysters, a portion of whelks, periwinkles, a portion of grey shrimps (also known as crangon crangon – funny name, isn’t it?) and a portion of cocktail shrimps. Since neither of us are huge fans of periwinkles, we asked the waiter to leave those out and give us extra whelks instead. It was done at no extra cost nor fuss!
We ordered 6 extra Cancales oysters, a squid carpaccio, dessert to share and a bottle of Riesling for only 59 euros!

Not only was the food highly satisfactory, but the service was also top notch, especially considering the amount of customers they had to handle.
We went on a Saturday night and of course, they were fully booked, save the terrace which they reserve for walk-in customers only. Despite this fact, we were still very well taken care of and frankly, there isn’t much more to say than, “What are you still waiting for?” Go and enjoy the rest of your summer with some fine de claire oysters and a bottle of sweet Riesling on the Boulevard Saint-Germain!

Address: 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain, 75005 Paris

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 12-3pm and 7-11pm

Check out the bar à iode website for the menu and/or further information!

me

 

Hidden Retreat In The Heart Of Paris

entrance

Firstly, who would have ever thought that such a charming, exotic yet peaceful place could exist smack-bang in the middle of Paris?

And yet it does.

In the form of the Muslim Institute of the Great Mosque of Paris.

corridor

This is definitely not your typical Haussmann building but a dazzling work of Moorish style architecture built by 450 North African craftsmen and artists. The intricacy of the mosaic that covers almost every wall is insane as well as the vibrancy of the colours!

mosaic

The Great Mosque is made up of:

  1. The Court of Honour
  2. The Great Patio
  3. The Prayer Room
  4. The Minbar
  5. Le Minaret
  6. The Library
  7. The Hall of Honour

The star of the show is, of course, the Court of Honour (the gardens) with luxurious fountains, pools and the gorgeous turquoise tiled floors give the impression of walking on water.

Entrance fee is at 3 euros per person and the mosque is open every day from 9:00-12:00 and 14:00-18:00 except on Fridays and Muslim holidays. For futher information, feel free to consult their website!

grand mosque

The cafe just next door is a lovely way to finish off the afternoon with a glass of hot mint tea at just 2 euros each! Please note that no alcohol is served at this establishment which doesn’t take away from the fun whatsoever! The terrace is aesthetically pleasing and calm yet “hidden” in a sense, giving the place an air of intimacy.

What did kill the good vibes a little was perhaps the waiter who was grumpy and not at all helpful but maybe we just caught him on an off day!

cafe
Follow this hottie! IG: stellabanfalvi

 

Etretat: The Perfect Weekend Getaway

beach

If the buzz and pollution of downtown Paris is taking a toll on you, maybe it’s time for a getaway and there really is no better place than Etretat. Perhaps Deauville as quite a few Parisians tend to go there but I’ve never been so I can’t say.

This charming location, though, is a two and a half hour drive from Paris so you could potentially do a day trip but having a full two days is strongly advised if you don’t want to fall asleep at the wheel!

You can either stay at a hotel or you can go camping at Yport which is literally just a 20-25 minute drive away from Etretat. There are several campsites gathered in one area that cost less than 20€ a night. Of course you would need to bring your own tent, camping car, inflatable bed etc but that’s all part of the fun! You also get to wake up to a spectacular view in the morning!

camping

One thing I would not advise, however, is dining at Le Petit Saint Pierre which boasts a fancy terrasse. We tried the mussels, the shrimps and the whelks and were extremely disappointed by the quality of their seafood. Other customers had also complained about the mussels, to which the waitress apologised and replied, “It’s not the season for them right now so it’s very difficult to find good ones.”

Meanwhile, in Etretat at La Flottille, they said completely the opposite and highly recommended the mussels. The food was impeccable and the service likewise!

la flottille

Overall, Etretat is divine. Both times I went, there were magnificent sunsets that bathed the entire seaside town in hues of orange, pink and violet. Even the sound of the waves are different in Etretat as the beach is mainly made up of pebbles so each time the ocean retreats, you hear the crunching sound of thousands of pebbles; oddly calming but not pleasant to walk on barefoot.

sunset

Some interesting facts about Etretat: many people come here to commit suicide and a famous robber once hid his treasures in one of these caves. This doesn’t stop the hoards of holiday goers each year and it didn’t stop Monet from banging out a gorgeous masterpiece of Etretat back in 1883!

claude monet.jpg