Archive | March 2013

Bread Brunch: Le Pain Quotidien

Another brunch venue ticked off the list.
If you like bread and got the dough to spend, check out Le Pain Quotidien (means “The Daily Bread”) right near Shiba Park and Tokyo Tower.
Here you’ll find a great bakery with real breads – a bit of a luxury in Japan.
Breads and pastries galore and tarts to boot, including lemon tart!

From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien

I got a pot of tea (surprise, surprise), but I highly recommend ordering a large cafe latte or cappuccino, or any large coffee for that matter. They are served in awesome bowls (oversized handle-less mugs).

From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is open for breakfast/brunch, lunch, afternoon, and dinner.
It’s a great breakfast spot because they’re open from 7:30am in the morning – a rarity in Japan. Throughout the day they serve quiche, mezze platters, open-faced sandwiches, waffles, breads, cakes/pies etc, and even serve alcohol. It’s a great all-day venue.

The first time I went there was in the afternoon for a late lunch and cake break with friends.

From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien

The second time I went was for breakfast/brunch. Note that the breakfast menu stops at 11am. They have an assortment of eggs they do. I opted for another open sandwich – prosciutto, fig, and ricotta.

From Le Pain Quotidien

The restaurant itself is comfortable. There’s an open street terrace out the front perfect for summer al fresco dining.

From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien

Tokyo Tower in the background:

From Le Pain Quotidien
From Le Pain Quotidien

Tower reflection:

From Le Pain Quotidien

Drool over the menu here.

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Afternoon Tea in London (Four Seasons)

This is an afternoon tea that I did last summer when I was in London. Still haven’t gotten around to posting anything from the my London Trip (last June!).

I would absolutely love to live London! It’s the mecca of high tea! It was a major dilemma to decide which two afternoon tea venues I would do there. So many to choose from! As part of my Four Seasons Afternoon Tea project, I had to go to the Four Seasons hotel in London. A perfect venue for a mini reunion! I was in London to meet my best friend and her fiance, plus catch up with Bex and Jess (whom I knew my days living in Fukushima back when I was a JET). It was pretty awesome that we were all going to be there in the one city at the same time.

The Four Seasons Hotels always have impeccable taste in decor and matching tableware etc.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Champagne all round to start of the festivities:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

I should probably add, that I only had about 2 days in London and I crammed two afternoon teas in one day! So actually, before attending this afternoon tea, I had come straight from another one beforehand. Ugh, what a glutton.

Lovely tableware – plates, cup saucers, timer sets (for optimal tea brewing).

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

There were two afternoon tea options here. Decisions, decisions. They had the traditional classic “English afternoon tea” as well as a “Gourmet Italian dolce vite afternoon tea”. Talk about torn.

I am a massive fan of Italian food, so the Italian set it was. Between the six of us, I think we ended up 3 Italian sets and 3 English sets, that way we could try both and share.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea
From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea
From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Yay. Reunion time:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

The Italian-themed afternoon tea set did not disappoint. The savoury morsels were to die for. Way better than cucumber sandwiches.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

The desserts on the Italian set were also the better option. The two side by side (Italian desserts on the left, English desserts on the right):

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

English desserts:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Italian treats:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Yum:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Only the English afternoon set came with scones though.

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

I thought the food in the Italian afternoon tea set was amazing. Would definitely opt for that again.

Plenty of pots of tea:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Service here was also great. They each gave us a little souvenir of some chocolate tea leaves which I took all the way back to Japan with me. They also gave us a Four Seasons pen. The afternoon tea here is a solid choice venue.

Friends and tea – nothing could be better:

From 4 Seasons London – afternoon tea

Shiga Kogen: Snow and Beer

So it’s been a while since my last post here.
I’ve been busy and sick. When I haven’t been busy, I’ve been sick. One of the things I hate about living in Tokyo is hayfever. The pollen levels in this city is ridiculous. Never got hayfever ever, until I started living in Tokyo. It totally whips my arse. I started some different hayfever medication which my body didn’t like and ended up with diarrhea and just general not feeling well, on top of the itchy eyes, sneezing, running nose etc, and feeling so damn tired.

I recovered in about week, which was perfect timing because I had snowboarding plans. Spent the weekend at Shiga Kogen. Unfortunately, the snow conditions weren’t so great, especially being so late in the season. I’m such a powder snob! I’ve been spoilt by living in Niseko.

There wasn’t a lot of snow, and what there was, was icy and hard. We did find some patches of slushier artificial snow though. I only did a half day of snowboarding. Still had hayfever in the snow!

Shiga Kogen is a massive ski resort made up of a few mountains that are spread apart. You need to take the free shuttle to get around.

A bus full of snowboarders:

From Shiga Kogen

Shiga Kogen is up high. You’re at quite an elevation. Scenic views too.

From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen

Where’s all the snow?

From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen

I like this photo I took of the chairlift silhouette:

From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen
From Shiga Kogen

Lake:

From Shiga Kogen

And the day was topped off by a craft beer fest.
Here’s the local drop:

From Shiga Kogen

Got another snowboarding weekend planned for this weekend too. Although I dubious about the snow. Off to Nozawa Onsen, so at least the onsens will be enjoyable.

Bloomin’ Tulips

Move over cherryblossoms, bring on the tulips.
I think tulips would have to be my favourite flowers. Yep, way better than roses any day.

Went for a gourmet spring picnic with some friends over the weekend, back to Showa Kinen Park for the tulip festival. It’s such a great park. You might recall I went there last autumn to see the autumn gingko leaves. Was nice to go this time around in the spring. It’s supposed to really nice when all the cherryblossoms are in full bloom too, but this year the cherryblossom season happened really early and they were all over by the end of March. Instead, all the tulips were out. So colourful, so pretty, so many people. That’s Japan for you.

Gave the old camera a bit of a workout.

This is how your picnic, gourmet-style:

From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic

Ahh, spring love:

From Showa Kinen picnic

Oh, this park bench must be mine:

From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic

A spectacular tulip garden spread:

From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic

Don’t you just want to bury yourself in a bed of tulips.

From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic
From Showa Kinen picnic

Aah so many tulips.

IVIV: Afternoon Tea at 165 – KL

A few months back I was in KL for a couple of days, and of course, I managed to squeeze in an afternoon tea or two. My high tea project needs its own passport, me thinks.
I spent months trying to narrow down the 2-3 venues I would partake in tea at. Kuala Lumpur has a bountiful selection of venues where you can do afternoon tea. Malaysia is a food mecca after all.

The best afternoon tea I did in Kuala Lumpur was at the InterContinental Hotel – at their lobby lounge called IVIV (in Roman numerals) or 165 (numeric).

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

Why 165, you ask? It’s the number of the hotel’s address.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

I pretty much had the lobby lounge to myself, being the lady of leisure that I am, I settled in for the afternoon at a table for one.

Two afternoon teas on affair – which one to choose?

The Malaysian version:

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

or go traditional:

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

Traditional it was. They had me at lemon meringue pie!

The presentation of the afternoon tea is awesome. I like new and interesting ways of presenting afternoon tea.
I was particularly taken with these stands.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

Little shelves of yummy treats:

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

All the components here were really tasty. Every. Single. One.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

And the lemon meringue pie was what I was hanging out for. Not as great as I thought it was going to be, but I’ll take what I can get.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

A little too meringue heavy for my liking:

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

Scones with strawberry jam and cream – at last.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL
From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

And a pot of tea to top it all off.

From Afternoon tea at 165, KL

Bookshelf Cafe

Found a great little book cafe today, aptly named “Bookshelf Cafe”. I trekked (ie trained) across to the other side of town for a swim. Need to get back into the swimming training with summer and ows season approaching. Have found a nice pool to train in, but it’s a little bit further than I’d like. I wanted to find cafes in the area for a post-swim lunch, and came up with the Bookshelf Cafe.

It’s a great little place. On the one hand, I want them to get a lot of publicity, but on the other hand, I want to keep it a secret.

It’s a cafe that encourages two of my favourite things: books (reading) and eating.

From Bookshelf Cafe

And it’s a new-style book cafe in that it’s totally with the times and supports the digital age of reading – they encourage iPads (so much so, that iPads are free for customers to use).

When I arrived, I had the whole cafe to myself. It was totally deserted.

From Bookshelf Cafe
From Bookshelf Cafe
From Bookshelf Cafe

The cafe is awesome for the following reasons:
– it’s quiet and cozy
– they have free iPads you can use!!!! There are 12 iPads available to customers and they’re FREE!
– they let you use laptops, iPads etc and are happy for you to plug in your device. There are dedicated tables that come with power plug outlets (like the study tables you find in libraries) so you can type away on your i-gadget for as long as you like
– free wifi!!!

It’s one of those cafes where you can read, study or write/type your next upcoming novel and you can while away as much time as you like without that feeling that you’re taking up space. And to top if off, they even had the Amelie soundtrack playing in the background (Amelie being one of my favourite movies).

They have a food menu (meals and desserts etc) too and serve coffees, teas and even alcohol (including Hitach no nest – a craft beer). Perfect reading or study cafe in Tokyo. Kicks arse over Starbucks anyday. Very chilled laidback cafe. I will admit, the food was not the most gourmet (I had the taco rice) I’ve ever had, but I think it’s perfectly fine if you go for a coffee and cake. And not so expensive either. For less than 1,100yen I had a cafe latte and a lunch meal. (Free wifi and iPad usage available too).

From Bookshelf Cafe

It was a shame that it was so deserted. Another 3 customers came in whilst I was there though.

Cute clock (the cat’s tail swings as the seconds hand):

From Bookshelf Cafe

What a gem of a place! Now don’t tell anyone.

Bookshelf Cafe website.
Hamacho
Closed Sundays