November 27, 2014

The Beauty of Fall

Did you ever wonder why fall in North America or East Asia is red, while in Europe is mostly yellow? I had, in fact, wondered about it several times. I just never took the time to google it. It was with utmost delight that I saw on my news feed on Facebook a couple days ago how a friend shared the explanation from National Geographic! It turns out everything started 35 million years ago, when trees started making its leaves turn red to ward off insects, which was not necessary in Europe, since the ice ages had killed most of those insects. This is a VERY summarised explanation, please do read the article if you're interested :p

I think Liam was starting to get hungry at this point ^.^'

Anyway, this topic fits these lovely fall pictures we took on Sunday perfectly! After the in-laws  left on Saturday, J, Liam and I drove to our summer house next to the sea. It was deserted, despite the weather being really nice. Obviously not to be wearing swimming suit around, but  definitely warmer than Barcelona and hot enough to leave the coat home. I must say I think this street looks the prettiest at this time of the year. It's no wonder fall is a season I love! Are you a fall lover, too? :)

November 22, 2014

Liam's first trip: Rome

Love at the Colosseum

Last Sunday Liam took a plane for the very first time. The hubby, the in-laws, J's sister, Liam and I traveled to Rome for a quick three-day trip. I lived in Rome for a month 9 years ago, and I hadn't been back since. I must say I didn't remember much! 

Fall leaves! <3

The Pantheon

Three days were just right to visit the whole thing: The Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Piazza Spagna, Via del Corso, Via dei Condotti, the Colosseum, the monument to Vittorio Emmanuele II, the Trastevere neighborhood, the Vatican... and just the whole city which is so full of amazing monuments and churches, I'd never finish writing! Still, the most important was eating yummy gelato {my new favorite flavors are coconut, coffee and pistacchio}, and pizza and pasta :D

Piazza Navona


The queue to enter Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican

Something I knew as soon as we decided to go to Rome was that we would be baby-wearing Liam. I just can't imagine how inconvenient taking the stroller for this kind of trip would have been! Imagine having to go up the stairs of the different churches and monuments with a stroller... Plus, with 5 people able to take care of the baby, either with the carrier or simply holding him in the arms, I had no doubt this was the best option. I must say I'm so glad we did it this way. It was sooo comfortable, both for the adults {we all loved taking care of Liam}, and for him, who of course is always the happiest when being held in the arms. 

The market at Campo de' Fiori

I was a bit worried of getting too tired on this trip, but it turned out to be wonderful in the end despite the weather being pretty bad. It rained EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was fine in the mornings, but it was always raining in the afternoon and evening. Oh well, another good reason to baby-wear. One umbrella was enough for both of us. 

Liam and the Colosseum

The hubby and I are already looking forward to our next trip. We're going back to Hong Kong!!! We're gonna be visiting for a couple weeks in February, so that we can be there for Chinese New Year, which is for Chinese people the equivalent to our Christmas season: family gatherings and so :)

November 13, 2014

La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer - Barcelona

La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer

Oriol Balaguer is one of the most renowned Catalan master bakers. In 2001, one of his cakes {8 textures of chocolate} won the best cake worldwide award, and this year his croissants won the best croissant award in Spain. Last month he delighted us yet again with great news: the opening of his new cafe or xocolateria, the Catalan name for chocolate bar. La Xocolateria hence specialises in all things chocolate, from the thick hot chocolate, to chocolate waffles, crepes, croissants, chocolate bars... Basically paradise :D No kidding, one of the things I missed the most from back home when in Hong Kong was the hot chocolate, and in these almost 9 months since we moved back to Barcelona, I've been having it at least once a week. 

la xocolateria by oriol balaguer

La Xocolateria by Oriol Balaguer

La Xocolateria is located in the trendy El Born neighborhood, next to the Estació de França train station, at the end of Passeig del Born. La Xocolateria is a love at first sight. It is absolutely GORGEOUS as you can see in the pics I took. It has a very young feel, and you need to order at the bar. I of course prefer being served on the table but oh well. I had hot chocolate with the award-winning croissant, and J had a waffle with chocolate and hazelnut spread with vanilla ice-cream. I must say the chocolate was SUPERB. The croissant was really good as well, but I still think these are the best croissants in Barcelona

Croissant Oriol Balaguer

Waffle Oriol Balaguer

At La Xocolateria, you can make your own chocolate bar by choosing a base (white, milk or dark chocolate) and then adding toppings to it (think raspberry, orange, nuts...). You can make your own ice-cream following the same logic as well.

la xocolateria by oriol balaguer

Visited on: October 30, 2014
Overall Quality: 4.5* {The food is really good and the venue is amazing, but the hot chocolate is served in a paper cup and you need to order at the bar so unfortunately I can't give full marks!}
Price: 1.60 euros for a croissant, 3.6 euros for the medium hot chocolate, and around 4.5 euros for this waffle.
Value for Money: 4.5*
Would I recommend it? Yes. It's absolutely delicious {and pretty!}

La Xocolateria
C/ Fusina, 5
Phone: +34 933 485 267
Closed on Mondays

November 10, 2014

My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy

No, this is not about the hubby and I. Jeff is from Hong Kong, which is not in Japan despite lots of people in Spain still thinking Hong Kong is a Japanese city.

This is about an awesome comic book by Grace, a girl from the US, on her daily life in Japan with her Japanese husband, Ryosuke. Truth be told, I think Jeff and Ryosuke look kinda alike! Anyway, Grace is this super talented girl who draws comics for fun, mostly on weird thinks about Japan or on her intercultural relationship. I LOVE to read them. They're so witty and well drawn it's amazing! Plus, being married to an Asian man myself, I can relate to a pretty good amount of them!

Grace has just published her first comic book, called "My Japanese Husband Thinks I'm Crazy", and I just had to share it with all of you. I've enjoyed reading it so much! The comics are hilarious and interesting, for they reveal many interesting stuff from Japan you may not necessarily know about: Japanese food, beauty, traditions, social etiquette... lots of interesting topics westerners may not be familiar with. You can read some of Grace's comics on her blog, or you can order a copy of her book and enjoy the whole lot! 

I totally forgot how I first found out about Grace and her blog several months ago, but I've been in love with her adorable comics ever since! I hope you guys enjoyed this review and you'll like her comics as much as I do.

November 4, 2014

Afternoon Tea at El Palace Hotel Barcelona

MY DREAM CAME TRUE! It is finally possible to have an English afternoon tea in Barcelona! El Palace Hotel GL is the first one in the city to offer this culinary treat, and I obviously couldn't be more delighted. I've been dying to go ever since I found out about it some months ago, and finally my birthday was the perfect occasion to go and celebrate.

As incredible as it may seem, there really is no other place in Barcelona to indulge in the traditional English afternoon tea. To me it comes a bit as a shock, seeing how every single good hotel in Hong Kong serves it, and not only in Hong Kong where is after all no surprise seeing how it was a British colony, but in pretty much all Asia. 

El Palace Hotel Barcelona is an incredible Grand Luxury hotel from 1919. Its luxurious neo-classical style is of an indescribable beauty. Everything is decorated to the detail in this grand old style that makes you go back in time to the beginning of the 20th century. I absolutely adored every single bit of their magnificent common areas, I can just imagine how gorgeous the rooms must be!

This tea set didn't disappoint. The food was good, the place was dreamy and the service unbeatable. In fact, it was hands down the best service I've ever come across. The china was a very delicate one from Limoges, France, absolutely perfect. 

The top layer had 6 scones, 3 plain and 3 raisin. They were so big we only managed to eat two each. They were served with yummy clotted cream, and strawberry and orange jam. I've never liked orange jam, so if I go again I'll make sure they put another one instead, but no big deal. The middle layer had the sweets, basically four caramel macarons and some petits fours that were pretty good. I particularly enjoyed the macarons, and even though they were so good, I would have preferred having two different flavors, since there were 4 macarons. The bottom layer held the savories, three different kind of sandwiches which we finished and were amazed to see they refilled for us! OMG it's the first time I've had a food refill in an afternoon tea. Not that it's needed, really, we couldn't even have a bite of this refill. Drinks, too, can apparently be refilled, and this is definitely always welcome.

19/NINETEEN bar where afternoon tea is served

The drink choice was either tea or coffee, so as usual I went for tea while the hubby went for a cappuccino. It was interesting to see their tea selection. Most were traditional teas from China, while some were teas from India. In Asia, the best high end hotels offer tea blends from French brands (think Mariage Frères, Dammann), which I'm oh-so-addicted to. The Palace Hotel Barcelona on the other hand serves pure teas instead, which is fine, too, but I still like blends way better. 

Visited on: October 25, 2014
Overall Quality: 5*
 28 euros per person
Value for Money: 4.5*
Would I recommend it? How could I not? Such a delightful afternoon tea in Barcelona, it's one of a kind!

You need a reservation for afternoon tea, and you must pay in advance. They charge your credit card 48h prior the reservation, so there is no canceling after that. They say this is because they need to prepare everything for the occasion, but I personally think it would be ok for them to prepare the whole set just after ordering. I mean, it can't take that long, right? You can find all the details to make a reservation on El Palace Hotel website. Anyway, I would LOVE to go back soon, I missed afternoon tea so bad! If you, too, missed my afternoon tea posts, you can always go over my previous afternoon tea posts again :)