This might sound crazy but the best birthday cake I have ever had was from a bakery in the Bahamas. For my 26th birthday my entire family was in the Bahamas visiting my friend Shavanti. Shavanti, knowing I am a baker, went out of her way to find this extraordinary cupcake. Although the icing had melted and the candle would not stay lit, it still out shined cakes I’ve had from Paris, London and back in Toronto.
Shavanti showed us around the city and we finally got to try Conch Salad, something she had been talking about since I met her first year of university. She took us out back of this restaurant where they showed us how they get the Conch out of the shell and what part we actually eat. We perhaps should have watched this after we ate however it was still delicious. The restaurants are brightly painted and built on top of the conch shells. Thousands and thousands of them as this is a very popular dish. Some chefs will make a couple hundred conch salads in a single day! We also tried conch fritters and grilled conch.
Nassau is a beautiful city. Shavanti was explaining to us how all the buildings in Nassau are colour coded. Government buildings are pink (conch pink) and white, hospitals are yellow and white and finally the police and fire stations are green and white. We had just missed Junkanoo where thousands of people flood the street dancing in bright costumes in a celebration of freedom. The islands of the Bahamas is the only place you can experience Junkanoo and something I hope to experience one day. We saw some of the floats/costumes on the side of the road as we drove around. Some of the costumes are so intricate they can take up to a year to create.
Thank you Shavanti for showing us around!
I just had the best birthday of all birthdays! It all started the day before leaving to go to Paris while shopping with friends on Carnaby Street. We went into my favourite shoe store Irregular Choice where David proceeded to ask me if I wanted my birthday present early this year. He then went on to say I could pick out any pair of shoes in the entire store for our trip to Paris! I was so happy I teared up a little.
I had my actual birthday in Paris and were fortunate enough to celebrate it with good friends from back home who were traveling with us. They made David and I some breakfast in the morning then we went to the Arc de Triomphe. I didn’t know much about why it was so famous or where the name came from but in shortest terms this originally began construction in 1806 as a glorification of Napoleon and his army. Napoleon said to his soldiers in the Grande Armee, the French army at the time,”You will return home through arches of triumph” after the Austerlitz victory in 1805. Unfortunately for Napoleon, he lost the battle of Waterloo in 1815 and that ended the building project. It later resumed in 1826 and was completed in 1836, not long after his death. The Arc is more of a memorial as the names of battles during that time are listed with generals who took part in them. The ones that have their names underlined died in battle.
From here we walked down Champs-Élysées and stopped at the Ladurée for some of their famous macaroons, pastries, hot chocolate and coffee. The branding in this place is outstanding, and everything is high quality right up to the paper hand towel you use in washroom! I had a selection of mini macaroons; caramel, chocolate, coffee and pistachio flavour. They were crisp of the outside and perfectly smooth in the middle. The story of the Ladurée macaroon actually starts with a guy named Pierre Desfontaines who decided to take the two macaroon shells and join them together with ganache filling. I never knew this but the macaroons are left aside for 2 days before they put them on sale to achieve ultimate balance between texture and flavour. I can’t wait to try making my own! My favourite was the pistachio, I even bought a larger one to eat later on.
After filling ourselves up with pastry goodness we walked down to the Eiffel Tower. The very top of it was closed so we went up half the way and could see the entire city! I love heights, and had no problem with it, however if you do not like heights I recommend not going up. Later on in the evening we went to Le Refuge des Fondues and had a blast! The place is fun and we had a reservation so didn’t have to wait in the line up out the door. The ladies all have to climb over the tables to get to the other side where they sit, so note the length of your dress and height of heels if you choose to visit here. Here’s a video of our friend trying to get across the table.
The fondue I thought was great, we had meat and cheese. The wine is also served in spill proof baby bottles. With the tables so close together, they have to be. The walls were all written on, as well as displaying bills of money from travelers all over the world, and you chatted with whoever was sitting next to you. It was lots of fun and I highly recommend going to this place with friends while in Paris. It is located in Montmartre, a beautiful area to begin with.