[PARIS] oo8.GALERIES LAFAYETTE

And Paris is a woman’s town, with flowers in her hair;
– Henry van Dyke

A full-blown visual tour of Galeries Lafayette’s gorgeous interior: other than to gush over luxury goods I took the liberty of snapping otherwise passed-over gush-worthy details. Has anybody ever really highlighted the architectural wonder that is this shopping mall?

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Top-storey view: gorgeous and lofty. You could pretty much see a 360 of Paris.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo7.CARETTE

“When good Americans die, they go to Paris,’ the ghost said, after taking a drag on a small cigarette.”
― Karen Chance, Embrace the Night

The sky decided on delivering a full-blown shower and a trio of very drenched Paris Explorers braved their way on foot across the Eiffel Tower and towards Trocadero. Pretty much everywhere in Paris’ city centre you’ll be able to locate patisseries and cafes that are great for alfresco-dining.

A walking distance from Tour de Eiffel is The Carette Paris where locals and tourists alike can be seen nursing a cuppa, having pre-dinner drinks along the pavement portico, or enjoying a full-course dinner in its premises. Its interior decor is made up of beautiful pristine whites in stark contrast to the red velvet cushions and dark brown mahogany woods of their lounges and seats, which in my opinion is the classiest interior colour combination ever.

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Dinner was: iced chocolate, almond and cinnamon infused hot milk, a slice of insanely rich opera cake, a piping hot onion and cheese soup as well as assorted macarons!P1070099

A handful of pistachio, raspberry, dark chocolate and sea salt caramel, rose, and fudge cake macarons. My favourite was the pistachio. So yummy! ^^ See how Paris has spoilt me on the dessert front? Overloading on good pastries is a given when in Paris! They have an impressive collection of macarons on offer, you can never taste them all.
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And then there was this: the opera cake. I can never have another coffee/chocolate cake without thinking of this one.
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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[PARIS] oo1.KUSMI DETOX TEA

Whilst walking along Champs-Elysées my colleagues introduced me to Kusmi Tea, a brand of tea producing Russian-style teas and tea blends with headquarters in Paris. All of Kusmi’s merchandises and beverages are beautifully packaged in pretty tins and boxes perfect for gifts or simply displaying in homes. Couldn’t help grabbing a couple tins of loose tea-leaves and a pretty lime-green mug with an inbuilt infuser (because teabags may contain plastics which in the long run, isn’t good for you!) Look how pretty everything came in! IMG_3876.JPG The bright yellow tin contains BB Detox Tea, a blend of green tea, rooibos, dandelion and sweet fragrant grapefruit. It says on the inset pamphlet that it can be enjoyed iced or hot at any time of day, as the amount of caffeine is very light. I tried it early in the morning and am totally in love with the fragrance. As a detox tea, it smells and tastes too good to be true. I’ve tried Skinny Mint for a short while (that’s a another story), but this one tastes so much better and is cheaper too! Of course Skinny Mint effects are much stronger. The orange tin, aptly named EUPHORIA, contains roasted maté, chocolate and orange, and as the name suggests, is a total orgasmic tea experience. Now I know what to reach for when I’m craving a huge dose of chocolates…oh who am I kidding a double dose of Euphoria and chocolates is gonna be da bomb! IMG_3872.JPG IMG_3873.JPG IMG_3875.JPG IMG_3874.JPG The tea mug is kinda heavy with the infuser and all, but trust me, the fragrance is insanely good. I used to think Lipton White Tea and Lipton’s Strawberry Cupcake Green Tea were the greatest tea inventions of all until I met Kusmi. TWG Teas are literally not my cup of tea, and I especially hate their jasmine teas… it leaves that acidic aftertaste on my tongue! Wishing I’d gotten more of Kusmi’s teas. While referring to their web earlier, many other blends sound so equally orgasmic: St Petersburg – Blend of black teas, bergamot, red fruit and caramel Anastasia – Blend of black tea, bergamot and orange blossom Prince Vladimir – Black tea, citrus, vanilla and spices and so many more flavours! Tea lovers, give this a shot! xoxo, Viktoria Jean

Book Review: Autumn in the Vineyard

I received this book from Montlake Romance in exchange for a review, and here it is!
autumnvineyard
Published October 29th 2013 by Montlake Romance

MY REVIEW:

For such a serious title, the book is helluva funny! Beginning with the Alpaca crisis in Chapter One, to Frankie kicking Nate’s balls and yelling bloody murder, I’m caught between laughing out loud and seriously thinking through the vineyard disputes in the story.

Land acquisitions and ancient family feuds play a large part in forming the backbone of what goes on between the DeLucas and Baudouins. When it came down to the economics of the vineyard it gets very technical with a few estate and vinery jargons. It also tends to get boring and dry as the characters attempt to iron out the property details between their families. Frankly, I skipped through a couple of those pages to get ahead.

Frankie is one of few tough novel heroines I’m impressed by. She’s intelligent, diligent, stands her ground and is never afraid to speak up, or on may occasions, threaten to shoot at Nate. Frankie’s never-back-down fiery temper ignites the sparks between her and Nate, who finds himself drawn to the tough cookie.

Nate is a laidback, funny and dangerous – a straight heartbreaker and deadly charming Italian. Their development undergoes a long arduous breaking-in process, as what he feels for Frankie deepens with amusement and admiration instead of a conventional love at first sight. Nate’s was pure lust with zero emotions at first sight.

At certain points in the novel, the book gets draggy. Perhaps I found the caretaking process of the vineyard a tad boring for my taste. No doubt, though, that Marina Adair is extremely knowledgeable in that aspect and adept at bringing this to life. Some descriptions were breathtaking and I could almost feel the vineyard springing to life. Such is what I enjoyed most about this novel – the deep knowledge of French wines – embedded in the pages. A truly enlightening book.

Ratings: 6.8 / 10

SYNOPSIS:

Frankie Baudouin has a hundred reasons not to trust Nate DeLuca. First, he’s a DeLuca. Second, he kissed her—in front of the entire town—and then never called. Oh, and he’s after her land. Sorrento Ranch is Frankie’s last chance to prove to her family—and to herself—that she has what it takes to be an award-winning winemaker. And she will stop at nothing to ensure her success—even if it means playing nice with the starched, sophisticated, and oh-so-sexy Italian.

For Nate, Sorrento Ranch is more than just soil and grape vines; it was his father’s dream—a dream Nate is determined to make a reality. So when he finds himself forced to cohabitate with a hot-headed, irrational, and incredibly gorgeous Baudouin, Nate is surprised to discover that chaos could be so much fun—especially when she sleeps in nothing but lace.

Book Review: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris

Do not read this book on an empty stomach, for it will leave you foraging for every last morsel of chocolate in the refridgerator.

With the promise of being introduced to the world of The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Jenny Colgan has left me more than hooked: I literally devoured her novel in 2 sittings, with a couple of Reese’s peanut butter cups and a bag of Mars PODS to go along. 20130912-072626.jpg

What’s promised is rightfully delivered: Paris is ever so picturesque, and French cuisines ever so mouth-watering. Jenny Colgan successfully reignites the spark of Parisian magic in contemporary chick-lit by infusing the element of top-secret home-made luxury-chocolate recipes (plus we all know it’s every girls’ dream to be able to guiltlessly binge on chocolate, not a hot Parisian with dreamy French accent).

If interested, you can expect elaborate and vivid descriptions of chocolate making processes. The tale of an artisan chocolatier – Thierry Girard – springs to life, the Parisian Willy Wonka whose chocolatier is the highlight of the story. His brief but significant relationship is revealed in italicized snatches of flashbacks, inserted between the modern, blossoming love affair between Girard’s son Laurent and the novel’s heroine, Anna Trent. As much as we can smell love in the air, the thick scent of ‘rich dark chocolate’ is so often repeated and emphasized, reflecting the chocolatiers’ dedication to their craft, as Colgan never lets us forget that the story is set in the culinary capital of Paris.

I’ve enjoyed the novel thoroughly from cover to cover – her simple and deftly delivered prose were easy on the eyes and thus would be a comforting light-hearted pick-me-up. However, I hardly had to think while reading for the words were fairly simple and the plot somewhat predictable towards the end. The bittersweet aftertaste from the novel is something I was expecting from the description of the bitter chocolates that Parisians found tasty — totally unlike the overly-sweetened milky creamy American commercial brands — and that, I felt, perhaps foreshadowed a non-sugarcoated ending to this unconventional chick-lit.

Publisher: Sphere
Release: 14th March 2013
Genre: Chick-Lit, Fiction, Food, Paris, Romance
My Rating: 7 / 10
Recommended for: Holiday-goers, summer reads, weekend reads

If Chocolate Shop was ever to be made a movie, I would cast:

ANNA TRENT: Blake Lively
Noon By Noor - Presentation - Fall 2012 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

LAURENT GIRARD: Henry Cavill
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CLAIRE (French Teacher): Gwyneth Paltrow
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow arrives at the 2012 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood

THIERRY GIRARD: Fat Russell Crowe
ACTOR RUSSEL CROWE ON NBC NETWORKS THE TONIGHT SHOW.

SYNOPSIS:
As dawn breaks over the Pont Neuf, and the cobbled alleyways of Paris come to life, Anna Trent is already awake and at work; mixing and stirring the finest, smoothest, richest chocolate; made entirely by hand, it is sold to the grandes dames of Paris.

It’s a huge shift from the chocolate factory she worked in at home in the north of England. But when an accident changed everything, Anna was thrown back in touch with her French teacher, Claire, who offered her the chance of a lifetime – to work in Paris with her former sweetheart, Thierry, a master chocolatier.

With old wounds about to be uncovered and healed, Anna is set to discover more about real chocolate – and herself – than she ever dreamed.

carcassonne & citadel

When I get a 3-day-off,
I’m catching the next flight to Paris.
After being home for 2 whole days, it’s too hot and stuffy.

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Perks of being sick consists of reading in bed all day and night.
I’m barely three-quarters through the 700-page novel,
and already am a newly converted Kate Mosse fan.

Kate Mosse’s Citadel painted this mysterious, though time-slip fictional, picture of Carcassonne,
complete with a load of other names I can’t for the life of me pronounce
(Languedoc, l’Oredora, Audric Baillard, Raoul Pelletier).
That aside, it’s the passionate bittersweet victory that consumes me,
the miniscule triumph of small-town Parisians/French against the all-engulfing Hitler and Nazi German,
complete with a supernatural ghost army summoned by the monk’s heretical Codex verses.
Intertwined with love-at-first-sight and war memoirs we’d never get tired of hearing.
A real lose-yourself tale to remind the modern man of ancient struggles and courage.