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Paris Bakery Tour

In the Montmartre area of Paris, March of 2018, we had lessons and a tour of the Le Grenier bakery and pastry shop. We signed up online through Viator. Olga was our superb tour guide!

It was a very cozy space with friendly bakers. We learned the bakers day began at 3 am and ended at 1 pm. The dough is made the day before and includes sourdough, yeast, flour, salt and water. There are over 3000 bakeries/boulangeries in Paris, but only 300 make their own bread and pastry from scratch on site! To check if your bakery makes their own, look for mixing machines in the back of the shop and workers baking!

A baguette should have many different sizes of holes inside and also a very crispy crust like you see here:

I will show you some of the steps involved. Most bakers keep their recipes a secret, so I do not have that to share.

Here is a video of the dough made the morning before. It is full of bubbles and is being poured into a square machine that cuts the dough into baguette size portions:

The next step is spreading this dough with flour and closing the lid. This cuts the dough into baguette size pieces:

Now the pieces of dough are placed in the Panimatic which rolls the dough into the long thin shape:


The baguettes are placed by hand into rolled cradles of heavy cloth for resting:

The baguettes are placed on baking sheets which roll in and out of the ovens:

The baguettes are rolled into the ovens, baked and then rolled out to cool:

Baguettes are placed in the tall basket for customers to purchase at the counter:

Here are some quick pics of the pastry kitchen!

Using a scale to add ingredients for French custard:

Only the best pure butter is used:

Candied fruit is drying on racks waiting to be used to decorate the pastries:


Nina in the Kitchen outside the Paris bakery

What’s to Eat in Sicily?

Two weeks in Sicily and I can’t believe how much we ate! Most of our time was spent in Trapani and Erice, and a few days in Palermo and Savoca (our Godfather pilgrimage)!

Erice is a mysterious beautiful town on a mountain top up from Trapani. We rented an apartment here for 10 days. Dinner our first night was at the highly rated Monte San Guiliano.

A local specialty antipasti here is fried chickpea triangles

Cold octopus salad With marinated fennel strips and carrots

  Smoked dried tuna with tomato, shrimp with mayonnaise like sauce, couscous in squid ink formed in a mold


Sardine fillet rolled with bread crumbs on an orange slice. Fried fish patty.
Super tender house made ravioli stuffed with ricotta, with a squid ink and squid sauce and a dollop of ricotta! Incredible!


House made sausages 


Calamari filled with ricotta in a ricotta cream sauce

Pizza in Erice

The most fresh fish of the entire trip at Antichi Sapori in Trapani. Here is a red tuna seared and served with a salsa of tomato, almond, basil and garlic.


Fried tiny fish, calamari and shrimp, octopus salad, and 3 dried fish slices with olive oil and balsamic.

Sardine Balls, a meatball with sardines in a tomato sauce. Some have more sardine flavor than others.  


Almond wine and sesame almond biscuits 

Postale 17 was our nearby cafe in Erice. This is their caponata, a mix of fried eggplant, tomato, onion and garlic with chopped almonds on top. Also served with added swordfish. Eat alone or with bread like bruschetta.

Bruschetta from Postale 17 with Caponata, fresh tomato and oregano, and thin sliced lardo (seasoned fat from a pig)

Marinated Octopus, carrot,and fennel over arugula served on a no

South of Trapani is the island of Mozia where we experienced a phenomenal salt tasting with fresh fruits! They eat salt on lemon!!

In Erice we ate dinner at Hotel Elimo, with very helpful servers



  Busiati Trapanesi, the local pasta here with their local Erice Pesto sauce: tomato, eggplant, almonds and garlic.

  Sea bream with lemon

  Beef Marsala, made with Marsala wine from nearby Marsala.


  Arancine, a Sicilian food made with saffron risotto and filled here with jamon and mozzarella cheese. Always covered with a paste of flour and water and then toasted breadcrumbs and deep fried. 

This is the authentic arancine filled with beef, carrots and peas.

A gourmet arancine filled with seafood and pistachio. 

Pasticceria San Carlo was a favorite in Erice. Here is a coffin full of plain biscotti drying. These are 6 inches long! 


This is the famous Genovese from Erice only! A cookie pastry filled with milk custard and dusted with powdered sugar. Amazing when hot out of the oven!


Another Erice pastry is Graffa con Ricotta, a doughnut like pastry cut in half and filled with sweetened ricotta and just a few chocolate chips

Cannoli!!  Plain and dusted with pistachio and sweetened orange rind

Ricotta is made with sheeps milk and there are bands of sheep grazing all over Sicily. The cows roam also, here with a farmer, though not always.

We visited a sheep farm during milking near Trapani. Unforgettable! Thank you Nino!



Hooking up to the milking machine

We learned about cheese making at Caseificio Ingardia in Paceco. They also treated us to a delicious sampling of cheeses! 

Ricotta in progress

Ricotta in tubs


Cows milk cheese in progress

    Fresh from the vat ricotta is warm, light and like custard!


Thank you Maria and Mario! 

Giacomo Incarbona, from Elite Island travel agency, was the most helpful person is Sicily! He booked trips for us and arranged the tours of the sheep farm and cheese company. Thank you Giacomo and staff!


Smoked tuna and tomatoes, octopus salad, bruschetta with onion, chicken cutlets, an antipasti  

Swordfish with Marsala sauce  

Grilled lamb, sausage and chicken


Braised fennel


Pizza in Palermo at Pizzeria Italia! With seafood and no cheese! This is Italy and the two are not allowed together!

We drove from Erice to Selinunte, the enormous Greek ruins. Stopped for lunch at Buffas Castle. This “lobster” is the whole lobster cut in half and covered in buttered bread crumbs. Unusual

  Grilled lamb


One of the most delicious foods of the trip her is a saffron risotto with teeny zucchini and zucchini flowers and truffle oil. In Palermo at Spinnacato.

Squid ink and calamari on spaghetti

In Palermo we took a Viator walking and tasting tour. Here are some market pics



Veal cartilage and fat here is breaded and deep fried and available only in the markets! Served on a sandwich roll usually.


Teeny tasty strawberries from the wild


Fresh red tuna


Whole fish by the kilogram 


Many sizes and types of calamari  

The sword in the swordfish!


Artichoke with its stalks which can be cooked separately into a pasta sauce.


Sfincione, a focaccia like bread with a thin tomato onion sauce, grilled in the food cart seasoned oven


Beef spleen braised in a sauce and sandwiched in a soft bun, another market food cart. Pane Meusa

We drove to the other end of Sicily and stayed at Resort Borgo San Rocco. Very nice! This is in Savoca, a mountain village where some Godfather scenes were filmed

Lunch at San Rocco…..

Eggplant flan with thin fried skin of eggplant


House made lasagne with eggplant  

A special dinner with many courses at the resort. 30 Euros each!


Black squid ink gnocchi in a fava bean purée and a whole shrimp

Intermezzo of puréed eggplant, sweet tomato and strawberry purée, ricotta and mint


Risotto with calamari, mussels, and clams


Fettuccine with meat Ragusa

Pork with strawberry purée and pistachio

Fish with capers, tomato and fennel frond


Pannecotte with strawberry purée

What’s to Eat in Lisbon

As we explore the main sights of Lisbon, we taste the foods too. Dave prefers the meats and I the seafood. There is plenty of both here, from big chops of beef, lamb, goat etc to grilled whole fish, octopus and calamari. Sweets are everywhere. Even their cappuccino is dusted with cocoa and cinnamon


Boiled and Salted Shrimp and Beans

Peel the shrimp and pinch the skins off the beans before popping them in your mouth!

Cheese and Quince Paste

This is Sao Jorge cheese, but any medium dry hard cheese would work, like manchego.

Deep Fried Cod and Shrimp Cakes or Pastel de Bacalhau and Rissol de Camarao 

Similar to the croquettes in other countries, except there is a whole piece of shrimp inside with the chopped shrimp and breadcrumb mix. No dipping sauce required

Main Dish

Pork and Clams with Fried Potatoes

Dave ordered this twice. A stew of pork shoulder bite size pieces in a rich white wine and tomato broth with garlic, bay leaves, paprika and cloves.

Stuffed Calamari

The calamari body is stuffed with a mix of chopped calamari and rice, similar to stuffed cabbage. They are sealed with toothpicks and simmered in a tomato green pepper sauce, similar to creole sauce. I suspect there were other meaty type items in the stuffing too. Maybe other fish?

Steamed Octopus

Yes, I did eat this, or part of it. Very mild and not rubbery

Sautéed Whole Shrimp with Garlic with Fried Potatoes

Dave and I could not finish this, but took the leftovers home. The potatoes were super crispy and hot! Not greasy at all!

Grilled Calamari

The calamari were whole and maintained their rounded shape. Very fresh!


Travesseiru, an almond filled puff pastry and Queijada, a round cheese filled tart

These desserts should only be purchased at the pastry shop that founded them. All others are a poor copy. 

Travesseiru is from Piriquita in Sintra, a town outside of Lisbon.

Queijada is from Sapa, also in Sintra.

We took an all day mini bus tour to Sintra. Nadia was a fabulous tour guide who advised us to eat at Piriquita II for lunch and for the Travesseiru pastries! We arranged through Viator and Inside Lisbon.

Pastel de Nata, custard filled puff pastry

These are from Pasteis de Belem, just west of Lisbon. Don’t run away from the long lines! They are for take away. Go inside where there’s plenty of room and wonderful service and ambiance!

Pastel de Nata Copycat

This was from the local grocery store and are available everywhere in Lisbon and nearby. Very good, but no where close to the real thing.


Green Wine or Vinho Verde

This wine was on tap which made it effervescent! The green refers to the young white wines of the northern Minho region.

Porto Wine

This is a high alcohol (20%) fortified wine that was developed to make the long passages to England. We bought port wine, quince paste and Sao Jorge cheese on our Walking and Tasting Through Lisbon Tour organized with Viator and Inside Lisbon. Thank you Sophia! It was fantastic!

Ginjinha, a Cherry Liqueur

Made of sour cherries, ginja berries, and sometimes served in an edible chocolate cup.

Cappuccino and a Pingado

The sweet loving Portugese sprinkle cinnamon and cocoa over their generous milk foamed cappuccino.

Pingado is an espresso with a drop or ping of milk. The drop can be more or less depending where you go.

Enjoy the tastes and travels!