Posted in Gastronomy

Restaurant reviews: part 4, L’Auberge Bressane (Paris)

I heard the beef bourguignon in this restaurant was quite good, so I took a try because, out of the twenty beef bourguignons that I’d eaten in places, none was worth mentioning.



It was a quiet but beautiful auberge in the quarter of Invalid museum and Eiffel Tower. Customers were all local business people, no tourist. With a lunch menu of 24.5 euros, I had:

  • A tiny amuse-bouche
  • A crispy small bread, with salted butter from Normandy, served on a table cloth printed with fleur-de-lys motifs. You can’t get more French than that.
  • An entrée of Catalan anchovies, which was really good
  • A pan of boeuf bourguignon, vegetables and cigar-shaped pasta, enough for 2 people. It tasted NOTHING like the bourguignons that I have eaten previously. I don’t know how they did it, the meat here was so tender but did not have the stewed-to-death taste (when your meat tastes like straw). Maybe the key was that they used good wine, then reduced it to a thick sauce? You don’t smell wine in the dish, but it must use a ton of wine, because after the bourguignon pan I felt slightly drunken!


So I had to order an ice-cream coup to dilute the wine sauce and the kg of beef I chewed. It’s not within the 24.5E menu, but you had delicious icecream with fresh fruit for 4E, not bad.


I walked away in the rain, fully satisfied. I found a real boeuf bourguignon at last.

Rating: 4.5/5 muffin_4_5

Price: 24.5 euros/person, lunch formula for entrée + main dish, plus 4E icecream

If you’re interested in my best photos in high resolution, here is my stock website:


Posted in Travel

Istanbul – part 4: Blue Mosque & Cistern Basilica

Blue Mosque (called Sultan Ahmet Camii by locals) is a beautiful mosque with six minarets, as opposed to the usual two or four of most of the city’s mosques (by some linguistic mistake, legends said). I liked it even more than Hagia Sophia.



The interior is decorated with tulip motifs and handmade tiles (by the way, do you know that tulip was originated from Turkey, although the Netherlands made it famous worldwide).





If you’re only a tourist, be sure to avoid praying time of the mosque, you can find daily praying schedule on internet.



The mosque and Hagia Sophia face each other across a grean and pretty square, with a fountain and mosaic of whirling dervishes:


A friend of mine scolded me when he saw this picture of a group of girls. He said Muslim girls don’t like to be taken pictures by strangers. While he might be correct, I’m sure this group of girl were happily selfie-ing  at that moment and looking smilefully into my camera.


Don’t they look shining?

Women should wear head scarf and cover their shoulder/legs while inside the complex. The center of the basilica has a mark said in english “No tourists in this area”, but I suspect it was “No woman” instead, because I saw no woman in that center, and there were some separated “Woman prayer zone”.

You should also take off your shoes inside the mosque. That can cause a little bit of stuck crowd in front the entrance, all moving shoes at the same time, but it’s no way a long queue. Now I must confess a sin: while inside the mosque, all I can feel was the different smells of people’s socks on that carpet. I wanted to admire the tiles, the painting, but the smells were so impotent in such a close place, and my nose is more sensitive than I needed it to be. Sigh.

After the mosque, I wanted to visit Cistern Basilica nearby (called Yerebatan Sarnıcı by local), after reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Seems like many Asian tourists think the same. There were a big group of Chinese, a group of Korean, then only me, in the cistern. Beforehand I had thought that people hadn’t liked Dan Brown…

Cistern Basilica was at first a basilica of Early Roman Age, then converted to a underground cistern of old Constantinople. You can still see both, the water reservoir was intact and full of slowly swinging fishes in the darkest place of the basilica. Really eerie place, no less thanks to “Inferno”,


or to the Medusa columns


(no idea why this one was turned sideline:


or to the Column of Tears, which, as legends said, is never dried of tears. You’ll see its surface never dried indeed. It is engraved with eyes and tears motifs. As if that’s not eerie enough, the column was meant to be a tribute to the hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Basilica Cistern.


… are you still there?

Posted in Travel

Istanbul – part 3: Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia is a fascinating architectural complex in Istanbul: first, it was an Orthodox church; then, it was converted to a Catholic basilica; next, to an Ottoman mosque. You can see the traces of all those conversions inside the complex. It is a representation of Istanbul’s rich and intervened history itself. Nowadays, it’s a museum and everybody can visit it. Even a cat.





The Paradise Gate, or something like that, I eavesdropped from a tour guide 😀


This huge marble jar, higher than a grown man, dated from BC, used to serve wine to everybody after the mass.


View from 1st floor of the building


The interior has some great mosaics, which are left un-repaired:



Trace of the original church:


Hagia Sophia is under restoration at the moment, so I couldn’t see it in all of its glory, or take deserving photos. But at least the sun was shining bright that day, so I got some nice exterior shots.




If you don’t like queue, come to the gate 5 mins before opening time. There will be 10 people at most before you (and that’s a weekend day). But if you arrive 1h after opening time, that might be a long queue. Buy a simit (turkish circle bread) or a grilled corn for breakfast from hundreds of food wagons around the attraction. Try to stuff all of it into your mouth when the gate opens and the ticket starts to sell. You’ll see, it’s hilarious.