Adapted from Food Network and Buzzfeed (via Anthony Bourdain)

1 bouquet garni
1.4 L broth
pinch of black pepper
Camargue salt
6-8 whole cloves (I didn’t have)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 small leeks, outer leaves peeled, halved lengthwise
1 bunch carrots, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1/2 celery stick, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 small turnips, peeled and halved lengthwise
some bone-in meat of your choice (I used a can of cassoulet de canard)
2 spoonfuls extra-virgin olive oil
200 g winter greens (I used frozen spinach)
Freshly ground pepper
1 bunch fresh parsley, to garnish

Tie 1/2 the parsley (I also added a sprig of thyme and bay leaves for a bouquet garni) and place in broth with spices. Simmer 10 minutes. Add leeks, carrots, turnips and cover. Bring to boil then simmer 15 minutes. Reserve broth and set aside vegetables. Here I heated a can of cassoulet and poached it 5 min. Add olive oil and greens, cook for 5-10 minutes. Return vegetables to the pot (discarding the green part of the leeks) and enough of the reserved broth to cover, then simmer for 10 minutes. Chop parsley and add to the pot. Ladle into bowls to serve, adding reserved broth as needed (less if you prefer gravy to soup).

Potatoes would have been good in this, or flour to thicken the soup into a gravy, and I didn’t have cloves. Green cabbage is an option as well. Traditionally served with coarse salt and Dijon mustard, horseradish sauce, and pickles.



Cacio e pepe

Adapted from Mario Batali

500 g bavette or linguini fine
extra-virgin olive oil
110 g butter
freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated Cacio di Roma
freshly grated Pecorino Romano
2 pinches of Kosher salt

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Cook the pasta al dente. Drain but reserve the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pan. Add the butter and toss. Add cheeses and pepper. Serve immediately.


P.S. Yes, yes, I know I sauteed onions, garlic, and 1/2 a carrot in the butter and olive oil. And I threw in a handful of fresh parsley because I had it and color is pretty. Your concerns are duly noted.

Cliffs of Moher

Aug. 30th – With Will’s friends, we would drive from Dublin to Galway, swinging down to the Cliffs of Moher along the way. We lucked out for the early afternoon with blue skies and sun. The coast is really windy though! The afternoon light from the south was perfect the further out we walked (it’s a two hour walk, one way! Time accordingly), to look back at the coasts. At times the winds were so strong, it was nerve-wracking to hike the rocky terrain (no fences) because it felt like the wind might blow you into the sea.


Galway was a nice city to spend the night in, because the nightlife and all the buskers. So much music around every corner, as long as the weather’s fine. And of course, my first chance to drink Guinness. More than two, and I’m in trouble!

best lunch: Moran’s Oyster Cottage (The Weir, Kilcolgan, Co. Galway, Ireland). The staff was so friendly (especially after experiencing French service), and we ordered so much food, and we amazingly finished almost all of it. Everyone wanted oysters and mussels, but after having the freshest quality shellfish in Sète, I was good.

best bar: Tig Cóilí (Mainguard St, Galway, Ireland). They had WiFi, a friendly crowd, and — of course — live music. This seems to be absolutely required for a number of Irish bars. A little group of three or four serious-looking musicians fiddling away despite the noise.

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Here’s one badly made panorama:




Aug. 29th – Will and I flew into Dublin, while Amber continued on to Barcelona. Our plan was to meet up with other NYC friends and drive to Galway. I would return to Dublin Aug. 31st and fly back to Germany myself the following afternoon, so these photos mainly comprise of a morning bus ride, an evening dinner + pub crawl, and a day’s worth of touristing under relatively decent weather conditions (for Ireland). I was fortunate in my friend Arianna offering to both be a host and tour guide! She lived out in the suburbs south of the capital, about an hour by bus or tram. Her sweet landlady, Ann, who in turn had a sweet cat and dog, was kind enough to regale me with Irish culture, history, and local attractions. Thank you, Ann and Arianna! I now know more about Riverdance than I ever have before. It was “grand” 🙂 The following are the tourist attractions I did get to see — sadly I had not time for the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology that Ann recommended!


Ha’Penny Bridge over the river Liffey

The Book of Kells (Latin: Codex Cenannensis, Irish: Leabhar Cheanannais) is an illuminated manuscript of the Gospel, written in Latin in 800 A.D., of the New Testament and “widely regarded as Ireland’s finest national treasure” (Wikipedia). The rooms leading up to the actual viewing of the book (a little anticlimactic) were very enlightening in describing who wrote the texts and illustrated them, as well as the process of how books were made on animal skin and preserved in those olden days. I liked best the use of animal illustrations (loads of symbolism) to decorate various pages. But also, who doesn’t like books decorated with gold/silver? There’s an adorable animation of the Book that I’m glad to have seen before the real thing, for a little (fictional) historical perspective. No photos allowed!

The Book is housed within Trinity College Library, which is also part of the Kells tour ticket. The Long Room in the Old Library makes it one of the top 10 most beautiful libraries in the world. “The 65-metre-long (213 ft) main chamber of the Old Library, the Long Room, was built between 1712 and 1732 and houses 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books… The Long Room also holds one of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic… the Trinity College Harp (also known as the “Brian Boru harp”) in The Long Room that is the oldest of its kind in Ireland dating back to the 15th century. The harp is made out of oak and willow and includes 29 brass strings.” (Wikipedia).

Chester Beatty Library in Dublin Castle was one quick visit I wish I had had more time to properly explore. Unfortunately there had been a line for the Book of Kells that threw my plans in turmoil. The collection of international art and literature there is open to the public (free admission), and such a treat! Wikipedia says they: “exhibit manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts from the Islamic, East Asian and Western Collections”. Fun fact: the library houses “the largest collection of jade books from the Imperial Court outside China”. Again, no photos allowed. But oh how I wish..!

best lunch: Gallaghers Boxty House (20 Temple Bar, Dublin, Ireland). I finally got to try the Irish stew. Perfect for a cool, cloudy day. Yum!

best dinner: El Grito (Merchant’s Arch, Dublin 2, Ireland). Mexican hole-in-the-wall takeaway. Arianna had been there so often, it was impossible for me to pass up some ethnic American cuisine.

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Some panoramas, showing where The Edge (U2) and Enya have (castle!) residences by the eastern coast, south of Ireland:




No-yeast pizza dough pizza

Adapted from the BBC Good Food

350 g flour
2 pinches of baking powder
pinch of salt and sugar
2 spoonfuls of olive oil
170-225 mL warm water

Mix the dry ingredients separately, then add in the water and olive oil. Combine until you form a ball. Let this sit in the fridge (preferably 4-5 hours), covered by a damp cloth, while you prepare the toppings.

Pre-cook your toppings (e.g. ham, mushrooms, artichokes, San Marzano tomatoes, onions, etc.) in some olive oil/butter, sliced onions, and minced garlic. Don’t overcook, as they will bake in the oven as well. Grate your cheese (mozzarella di bufala Campana, pecorino romano, scamorza, etc.).

Punch down the chilled dough, and roll flat (a wine bottle works here). Top with chopped tomatoes, then the vegetables. Brush olive oil on the crust. Bake at 200 deg C for 10 min, add the mozzarella (or other cheeses), then put back in for another 15-25 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve.



P.S. Different Italian pizza types:

  • pizza napoletana
  • pizza alla marinara
  • pizza capricciosa
  • pizza pugliese
  • sfincione.


Aug. 26th – We decided to go pick up our friend Will from Montpellier in the afternoon, so we thought to squeeze in a day trip to three-hours-away (from Sète) Carcassonne, yet another medieval city. The Cité de Carcassonne is a UNESCO-listed medieval “Citadel surrounded by double walls 3km in length, dotted by 52 towers, founded in Gallo-Roman times” (Google).

There’s not much to say about the city, as we didn’t research any back history. So here are some nice photos. Lunch was a real delight, so I included all the food porn photos. 😉

best lunch: Le Jardin Du Carcasses (7 Place Saint Nazaire La Cité, 11000 Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France). We had fantastic food here, where we tried the set menus of cassoulet, foie gras, duck, creme brulee, etc. We were late to pick up our friend, so budget your time! It was busy here, but fortunately we got in without reservations.

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Aug. 23rd – At last, this day Amber and I would reunite with some of our old university friends in the quiet little vacation town of Sète, and get a small break from nonstop travel. We left early, because I had the keys to the apartment, but Avignon (and Montpellier) is pretty direct to get to Sète. If the town was all sleepy and relaxing, that would have made it the perfect place to be, as when my sister visited. August is the holiday month in Europe however (and most Europeans get plenty of holiday time, e.g. I get 30 days in Germany), so it was pretty bustling, for such the “little Venice of the south of France”. This was my fourth visit to Sète, so I could compare it between the off-peak (March) and peak (August) tourist seasons.

We also had arrived for the last day of the Fête de la Saint-Louis à Sète, so we missed the biggest water jousting tournaments, but saw the fireworks over the canal and Mediterranean Sea. Temporary stadium seating was generally on Quai Général Durand. Even after the official festival however, there would still be water joust demonstrations throughout the month. It was something different.


The weather had been pretty much perfect this entire time, and Sète proved to be no exception. We visited the beach or pool just about everyday — I particularly was interested in working on my tan and catching up on Kindle reading. Since I would be staying here for a handful of days, it was also a chance for me to cook a meal or two. There is an Auchan, Carrefour, Monoprix, and we could stock up on baguettes, yogurt, cheese, cured meats… the essentials of French cuisine.

Another day, we rented bikes for 4 hours (although only Will and I went as far as we could in two hours, almost Agde). Unfortunately Will suffered a small mishap on the return journey. I decided not to include that photo. It was fun besides that bit.

Sète was a good base from which to explore other towns. Unfortunately we only made it to the medieval town of Carcassonne, which I will save for the next post. I would have liked to visit the nudist colony of Cap D’Agde, Montpellier, Barcelona, Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, etc. I had been to Barcelona and Montpellier before though, so Amber continued on to Barcelona alone to fly back to NY, while I was destined next for Dublin with a different set of friends — the last leg of my EuroTrip.

best lunch: Les Halles De Sète (Rue de Strasbourg, 34200 Sète). Sète has one of the biggest working fishing fleets in France, so for the freshest shellfish catch of the day, you go to the Central Market.

best dinner: Chez Paul (15 Rue André Portes, 34200 Sète). We were starving and had been turned away twice from other places already for not having reservations. We were served here, finally, but seated and with a bottle of wine, we were not going to complain.

best bar: Le Bistrot du Marché (1 Rue Alsace Lorraine, 34200 Sète). WiFi!

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A couple panoramas, one from the highest hilltop in Sète (drive carefully), the other shot from the main strip (Quai Général Durand) of downtown Sète:



P.S. To compare, here are photos from Easter 2016, which happened to overlap with the Escale à Sète (22-28 Mar. 2016):

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and August 2015, after I attended the ICCB 2015 in Montpellier:


and finally Easter 2015, the first visit:

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And a couple panoramas: