Friday, July 31, 2015

Atelier Vivanda, a Michelin Bib-Gourmand go to for great steak in Paris

When we were in Paris, we had steak almost every night. We met up with Ady's friend Kevin, who joined us for our favorite steak frites place, then the following night, he took us to his favorite steak place.
If Steak Frites is your thing, L'entrecote would still be the best for you.
Their strength is the secret sauce and perfectly cooked frites which you can
read about here.

However, if it's a good steak that you're looking for, without necessarily having to break the bank, then Atelier Vivanda is for you. Atelier Vivanda was awarded Bib Gourmand (Bib - short for Bibendum is the company's nickname for the Michelin Man Logo), the Michelin classification for exceptional good food at moderate prices.
The Original Atelier Vivanda, on Rue Lauriston is so busy,
you need to reserve a few days in advance.
They have 2 seatings for dinner.
It's across the street from restaurant Akrame, the 2 Michelin starred
restaurant also owned by the same chef Akrame Benallal. 
Kevin, Ady's friend who brought us here was translating the menu for us.
They serve a €35 3-course set menu, inclusive of entree,
main course and side, then a dessert.
Vivanda is actually a play on words of "La Vie" (life)
and "La Viande" (meat).
Their first restaurant in Rue Lauriston is a bit cramped.
In fact, we were right reside the meat slicer.
Which meant we just had to catch the flying Thinly-Sliced
Smoked Beef Aged 50 days, and we had free samples.
This guy even gave us more when he saw what we were
doing. Delicieux! Merci Beaucoup, Monsieur!
Our table by the window also gave us a very good view
of their open kitchen.
We put aside the bread, to preserve our appetite for the meat.
For starters, I had the Duck Leg Terrine, which was good.
I think Ady had some chicken and salad starter.
How can good steak, seasoned this liberally with salt,
not be good? Even the chef looks yummy.
Black Angus Steak
Now, you know what I mean, that if you want a serious steak, this is where
you should come.
They throw in the salad for free. Since there was three of us, we ordered
all forms of potatoes available mashed, fried, and gratin.
 Sides are unlimited, so you can keep asking for more.
Thanks Kevs for this great discovery.
These potatoes were cooked in duck fat, if I'm not mistaken.
Or they taste like they were!
They serve the steak with Caractere, an olive oil
flavored with pepper, to bring out the taste of the meat.
They also sell this online.
I must say, this steak is worth all the hype.
The servings were so good, I wanted to finish everything but I couldn't.
Sadly, I left 2 bites, and a good portion of the fat, though clearly, it means,
I ate the rest!
Again for dessert, we ordered three different kinds to share.
If I remember correctly, I was least impressed with this local cake and peach
sorbet, but the sorbet does it's job of cleansing the palate.
The chocolate fondue cake was a hit.
But personally I liked their version of the apple pie ala mode.
It took me so long to blog about Atelier Vivanda, that the good news is they now have two more branches, with a newly opened one in the Marais, and another one much closer to home. 

Just recently, Atelier Vivanda opened their Hong Kong branch, in the Wan Chai area. Though, I am pretty sure, this one does not have a Bib Gourmand rating, as while their menu and format is the same, the price is much heftier at HK$448 (€52) + 10% service charge. Though I must admit, it's cheaper to fly to Hong Kong, than to Paris to get your Atelier Vivanda fix. just saying.

Atelier Vivanda Paris
18 Rue Lauriston, 
75016 Paris, France
+33 1 40 67 10 00
Reservations Required

Atelier Vivanda Hong Kong
9 Ship St, 
Hong Kong
+852 2109 1768

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bangkok Food Finds

I just came from Bangkok for Jem's Bridal Shower last weekend, and I am flying back tomorrow for work. Can't wait to have more of the yummy food I tried (and some I just spotted).

Here are my top picks: 
Authentic Thai Milk Tea from the roadside stall
Note to self: I want to but Thai Tea Leaves so I can make my own at home
Hello Four Seasons Boneless Roast Duck and Salted Egg Prawns.
We meet again! You can read my post on that here.
The guardian of the Central World Food Market
Great Big Bowls of Curry served over Vermicelli Noodles
Super Yummy and clearly a steal at 50 Baht!
Green Curry Pork Meatballs over Rice Noodles
To remove the spicy kick of the curry, the Pork BBQ is the best,
Popping invisible Fat chunks FTW. Also a steal at 10 Baht!

I'm a sucker for Thai Coconut-Cream based Snacks. Sadly, they seem to be sold on the street with no permanent stores, so finding them requires a bit of luck.
I love Tako so much, Sof and I now know how to make them.
I also love Kanom Krok, another form of Coconut Pudding with toppings.
This stall was extraordinary. She even used Brown Rice Flour!
Our top picks were corn, shredded palm sugar and barley,
and we came back for it the next day.
This thin pancake with Coconut Cream filling has been intriguing me,
I hope I get a chance to try it on this trip.
Bangkok is known for their fruits. One unique thing we saw on the street
was this pomegranate stall.
The freshly squeezed juice was quite refreshing.

Food I didn't get to try but caught my attention:
Giant Lychees. They look so much more attractive than my favorite small
ones with tiny seeds from Hong Kong.
Isaw. Thai Style. (Grilled Chicken Intestine) This I didn't want to try.
We also saw fried crickets and insects but photos weren't allowed.
Our usual Chatuchak favorites (which the parents buy for us):
Grilled Ulang (Fresh Water Shrimp with Giant heads)
Oh Crispy Pork Belly
And the staple Pad Thai of course!
I must admit, one of the best meals I had last trip was not the food we bought, but the food we cooked from Silom Thai Cooking School. Now, if only I can just cook those dishes again. Hahaha. just saying.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Jem's Bachelorette in Bangkok

My best friend Jem is getting married soon, and while we see each other much less AS (After Sofia), AI (After Ivan), and ATmtS (After Tim moved to Singapore), we still remain to be a tight trio, getting each other into trouble... or out of it, in whatever country we find ourselves in. Hahaha.

Since we've traveled together much less after all the acronyms I created above, we decided to plan a trip, with just the three of us one last time before Jem's big day. We originally planned to meet Tim in Bangkok, but with my changing roles and all that, I ended up with a meeting in Singapore, so I flew to Bangkok directly which gave me time to set up the place before Jem and Tim arrived.

I prepared all our favorite Thai snacks, and eco-tote bags from Ikea for our shopping.

We prepared wine, bridal shower flowers, and the magic box for Jem's shower.
The set-up was supposed to include a handmade paper flower bouquet, but
I was rushing too much to catch my early flight to Singapore, I left it at home.
Good thing the hotel room came with orchids that I just decorated with
lace garter headbands.
The labels on our pillow includes the Maid of Honor and Slave of Honor.

Jem knew it was our last trip together, but I don't think she realized we'd pack it with Bridal Shower activities. Good thing my new camera unwittingly took a video of our still pictures. Hahaha.

Welcome to your Bangkok Bridal Shower Jem!!!

To welcome Jem, we prepared #Taken PJs for her in the magic box,
which we told her she needed to return. Hahaha.

For the first day task, she was given a bride top (which I hand-sewn myself),
and we just told her to be ready by noon.
We woke up earlier than expected, so we were able to grab some breakfast
from The Canary Cafe, which you can read about here.
Another possible alternative for breakfast is this place, also across the
street, if you fins yourself up before 10:00am.

Since we had time to spare after brunch, we were able to relax by the pool.

Ready to leave for our first task.
This bride had no clue where we were taking her. Hahaha.
Our first day activity was learning how to cook Thai food at Silom Thai
 Cooking School, with a market tour included. More details in a separate post.
Let's just say, most of the things we cooked were delicious, but the Tom Yum could be better... but clearly we were too busy taking photos. But it was definitely a great experience. Hahaha.

The Day 2 Task Cards said it was a free day for shopping, with a
Bye Bye Condoms dinner planned for the night.
Since we love making everything into a game, Jem gave us a Chatuchak
Shopping Challenge! We all had to buy something for Jem and Ivan's
new house, spending only 100 Baht!
Chatuchak was so chaotic, I just got reminded why I never go anymore.
We were so hungry, we bought buttered bread on sticks and it was so good.
When we finally found the eateries, we chose one where there were a lot
of locals (and the prices were a fraction of the tourist trap ones). 
Hello Carbs overload, memories of SR Thai, with a side order of
Minced Pork and Basil. (Sobrang Rice Thai from our University days)
After lunch we immediately bought our entries,
so we could get out of the chaos known as chatuchak market.
And the winner is... my pillow cases!!! Hooray. We nagged Ivan to judge.
Jem bought 6 metallic coasters, but only entered 4 because they were 20baht
each, and Tim just grabbed a set of wind chimes because we all wanted to
go home already.
For dinner, we took Jem to Cabbages and Condoms, one of the restaurants
we used to visit (before I started blogging- so I will blog about this soon). 

Jem kept wanting to go for a massage, and we just kept ignoring her...
Because our third day task was to get pampered! 
We got the works done at Su Esthetic Home Spa and we were very happy
with the cozy place and the service. More on this soon.
It was a very wholesome bachelorette for Jem, but since this is Bangkok,
I just has to post some of the things we've seen, like what is allowed and not
 in cabs, plus it's only in Bangkok that sex toys are sold on the sidewalk!
That was just part 1... can't wait to see what we come up with for Jem's Bachelorette in Manila with the rest of her friends and family. I'm sure it will be equally entertaining. just saying.