Bonjour encore, Strasbourg!

Despite the pandemonium experienced during the final leg of our German road trip, we managed to travel to Strasbourg in three hours.

‘We are like an old pro now, aren’t we?’ I chatted to mum as we strode towards Hotel Cathédrale from La place Gutenberg. We were there a mere seven days ago and acquainted ourselves with the area already.

Bonjour, our one night nest!

Last time we were in the city, we only had a few hours to explore the place in reality. It was in a late Saturday afternoon when we arrived and had to leave for Würzburg next morning.

This time, we reach the city by lunchtime, therefore, we had ample time to explore the place further. Mum and I dumped our luggage in our hotel room and went out to see what Strasbourg’s Saturday was really like.

Saturday was market day, and there were stalls laden with antiques and crafts all around La place Gutenberg…

At one stall which specialized in vintage and second-hand books, I asked in my basic French if they had any book of Caroline et ses amis by Pierre Probst. An old vendor in a director’s chair with a Panama hat on looked very surprised and asked me why I knew about the books. I answered him in my basic French again that the series was my childhood favourite.

Caroline and her friends on summer vacation in original French…

Then, the Japanese version with which I grew up…

I loved all the characters in the series…

and especially Youpi, I loved the most because he was the naughtiest…

And I named my aunt’s Yorkshire terrier as Youpi as well!

It was before we had a family dog, and Caroline and her friends really made me fantasised about the life with furry friends…

The old man apologised that he didn’t have any Caroline book in stock and I had to walk away from the stall empty-handed.

It would have been wonderful if I could read the book with mum again…

Some years back, I did managed to buy a few copies of the vintage Caroline series at one of the antique bookshops in Passage Jouffroy, Paris. The books smelt rather musty, but they brought back all the memories of my early childhood.

‘Now, let’s stretch our leg further, mum!’ We turned northward and walked towards Rue des Grandes Arcades…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Winding down

Bella was playing with an empty Bi-Facil bottle, and I felt blissful, sitting down on a sheepskin rug and watching her.

Things are definitely winding down. How nice.

During this holiday, I am gonna get stuck into a book, The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History…

While munching on my favourite treat…

Orangettes covered with dark chocolate! They are so divine, and I can’t stop eating them. There is one huge regret this Christmas though. I forgot to order my another seasonal favourite, marron glacé. I really miss the teeth-aching sweetness of the chestnut! Ahhh, l may have to run to F&M tomorrow…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Pop-Up Book Sale ICA @ The Mall

The recent London has been blessed with a blue sky and fluffy white wispy clouds. And the weather of the last Saturday was no exception.
‘We are going to the ICA today!’ Hubbie declared breezily. He explained that we were to visit a weekend-only pop-up bookshop held at the gallery. Oh, okay…

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I was not an avid Royal calendar follower and therefore I had no idea what was held at Horse Guard Parade that morning but along the stretch of The Mall, a row of crowd-control barriers was in place on both sides and onlookers were milling about…

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We had a quick bite at the gallery’s cafe before plunging our nose between pages of precious prints…

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The coffee at ICA was not bad at all and the sandwiches were really tasty.

After climbing two flights of stairs…

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And we were greeted with table tops and shelves laden with vintage art & photography books…

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While Hubbie was wandering between stalls, I came across intriguing looking pins at one of the venders…

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The staff explained to me that their designs were inspired by fonts and borders. I decided to take two of them home with me, the pins in the first and second row, because they reminded me the artworks of James Turrell…

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A corridor of the ICA…

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Once outside, we headed to the nearest ice cream van. They were making a brisk trade as customers swarmed around the window, wanting to have an icy treat…

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We licked our soft ice-cream and sauntered to the Royal Academy…

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Alas, the Summer Exhibition was not on yet so we headed home.

A back view of the statue in the courtyard resembled a bullfighter, squaring at a bull in the ring, I thought…

Do you agree with me?

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Yureki-Shobo @ Kanematu

When I bid farewell at Hana Chouchin, one of the sisters recommended another vintage bookshop, Yureki-Shobo, in the neighbourhood.
On my way to the bookshop, I came across Nishinomiya-jinja, a Shinto shrine, celebrating “Ebisu”,the Japanese god of fishermen and workingmen, as well as the guardian of the health of small children…

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It was a very cold day and a shimenawa, a think straw rope adorning the gate of shrine was swinging lightly in the wind time to time. By the way, the rope is believed to act as a ward against evil spirits…

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From Nishinomiya-jinja, the bookshop was a stone’s throw. On the side of a light-grey building with old-fashioned sliding doors, I found a sign with their logo on…

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The building used to be a disused factory. It was renovated in 2009, as a shared office space, a cafe, multi-purpose hall and a bookshop…

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I slid open a wooden door and found myself in the cafe. The smell of kerosene heater in the middle of the cafe was a welcoming scent for my frosty cheeks. A girl with an apron on approached me with smile and asked if I was here for coffee…

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The cafe was dotted with comfortable furnitures, such as Kotatsu. A kotatsu is a domestic heating device often laid out during Japanese winter time. A low, wooden table frame with a built-in electric heater is covered by a quilt, and on top of it, a table top is placed…

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Most of the guests sank themselves cozily in plush sofas placed in front of the bookshelves…

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In the showcase, a few buns were left but no cake…

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The bookshop I was after was to be approached through the cafe. Beyond another glazed sliding doors, there was a multi-purpose hall and the bookshop was adjacent to the hall…

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On the ceiling, there was an art-deco style lighting…

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And a globe in the middle of the shop floor.
All four walls, except around the door frame, were clad with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. This windowless square space, completed with the lighting and the glove in its centre, created a curious other-worldliness…

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Mr.Miyajima, the owner of the shop, working behind the till…

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He backpacked after graduating a local high school. During his wandering years, he encountered books left behind by fellow backpackers at youth hostels he stayed and by reading them, he found his journey even more enjoyable as well as reflective…

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Every single book on the shelves was handpicked by Mr.Miyajima at various book auctions all over Japan, reflecting his diverse interest and expert knowledge of each subject. He certainly was a concierge for any book lover.
A magic carpets in the shape of book is available at Yureki-Shobo. Just tell Mr.Miyajima where you want to travel to and he will pick the best book for you from the shelves…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Tramshed @ Rivington Street, EC2

Don’t mention the “C” word, please!
I mean no “Chicken”, “Chips” or “Cider”. Hubbie & I dined at Tramshed on Rivington Street and were stuffed with roast chicken & chips up to our throats. On our way home, we kept on reminding each other, ‘Don’t mention the C-word!’

We arrived at the restaurant on foot at 13:00 sharp…

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I remember that there used to be a large steel shutter in front of the building. The original electric generating station was so discreet that I didn’t realise it was there at all.
Now, the shed offered an airy multi-story dining space and artworks by Damian Hirst…

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In the middle of the main dining  space, Damien Hirst’s cow & chicken in formaldehyde was hoisted up…

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How do the cow & chicken feel about us gorging ourselves with steak and roast chicken?

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I felt a pang of guilt while being seated underneath the sculpture.

The main course was deadly simple – roast chicken or steak. We opted for sharing their barn-reared Indian Rock chicken with wild garlic sauce and chips.

For starter, we nibbled on Yorkshire pudding with whipped chicken liver…

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Ahhhh, overly keen (& hungry) Hubbie snatched the Yorkshire pudding before I had a chance to take photos!

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The whipped chicken liver was delicious. It was bursting with flavour without being too rich.

For drink, we tried Temperley’s Mulled Cider…

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It was concocted from Burrow Hill cider, apple juice, Kingston Black aperitif, blackberries and spices.
I must say it was simply divine. We both agreed that we could drink it all afternoon!

Then, our plat de résistance, roast chicken with chips…

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I don’t know why but the way it was presented – the chicken’s feet tied up, reminded me a painting by Francis Bacon. While we beheld this unusual sight, a waitress produced a large kitchen knife, with which she sliced off the chicken’s feet and then carved off legs for us…

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A large spoon was stuck in the rear end of the chicken so we could dig out the stuffing from inside. The scene was how should I put it… rather brutal.

For side dish, we ordered sautéed Brussels sprout tops…

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My plate before I commenced the assault…

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By the end of the meal, I was utterly defeated by the volume of the serving. Hubbie struggled on a little longer but had to throw in the towel. The roast chicken with chips would certainly feed three adults, not two. For dessert, I am afraid to report that we didn’t sample any of it because we were too full. Therefore, we just settled the bill and left the restaurant.
I think the place will be a fun venue to dine before embarking on a night out in Shoreditch. Even though the restaurant is well-known for their carnivorous menu, they also offer a vegetarian & pescetarian menu too. So nobody will be disappointed or go hungry.

With our stomach stuffed more than full, we staggered out to Rivington Street…

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Mirror-balls as a Christmas decoration. What a brilliant idea! Can we have a street party?

Then, we walked to our favourite bookshop, Artwords Bookshop

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I just love standing there turning pages forever…

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They inspire me endlessly…

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The wind was blowing relentlessly and kept the temperature low. However, because of it, the sky was largely cloudless…

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I brought home a magazine “The Gourmand“…

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But I am still too full to read it. For tonight’s supper, we are eating another “C-word” food. Guess what? It’s gonna be toasted crumpets & jam!!

A few more days to go through and it’s Christmas. How time flies…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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