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Weekend Brunch-at-home Idea: Guacamole, Bacon and Poached Egg

Guacamole, bacon and egg

Guacamole, bacon and egg

In Geneva, there are few good Sunday brunch places but can be very pricey! And I must say, the best brunch I’ve had in Geneva was probably when we did a potluck brunch at a friend’s place. So, When I don’t have anything to do on a weekend, I usually get inspired to whip out something from my fridge and treat myself for a yummy brunch.

I woke up today craving for a salade Lyonnaise but, of course, at 10 am I found it too early for that. I opened my fridge to survey who needs saving and saw an avocado, cherry tomatoes and some lemons. So, I thought I’d make myself some guacamole with tomatoes (I’m normally a purist when it comes to guacamole but it’s brunch and my tomatoes need saving).

As I was doing my guacamole, I realised that I’m really craving for bacon. I’ve been cutting down on meats lately for a healthier diet and I decided that Sunday is bacon day because I’ve been good at going to the gym and yoga this week too.

Then, I also thought that why not make it like salade Lyonnaise? with a poached egg! So, there it was, my yummy brunch!

Here’s how I put them all together: 1-2 servings

Guacamole, bacon and egg

Guacamole, bacon and egg

(I love cooking but I’ve never shared a recipe before and I just always wing it in the kitchen. So, by all means check other recipes for more detailed instructions or measurements)

1 Avocado, mashed

1/2 medium-sized red onion, minced

1/2 lemon

4 pieces of cherry tomatoes, diced

1-inch of a thick pancetta, diced (maybe 3-4 slices of bacon?)

1 egg (2 if you plan to serve for 2)

1 slice of bread per serving (I used a Schard gluten free bread for this), toasted

salt, pepper and wild olive oil (any olive oil will do but I love this wild olive oil I got in Spain recently)

Combine the mashed avocado, minced red onion, diced tomatoes and lemon in a bowl. Mix them evenly. Taste and add salt and wild olive oil, as required. The wild olive oil has a peppery taste to it that I love that’s why I’ve been using it a lot lately. Done with guacamole.

Put the pancetta or bacon in a skillet (without oil) and turn up the heat. Watch out though… don’t burn them!

For the poached eggs, I like them runny. There are hundreds of video tutorial for poaching eggs out there. Try what you think is the most effective and easy. For my poached egg, in a simmering pot of water, I put a table spoon of vinegar, whirled the water and dropped the egg carefully (it is easier for me when I crack the egg in a ramekin first and not dropping the egg straight from the shell to the pot). I let it simmer for a minute then covered the pot for another 2 minutes. To make it less runny, I guess you just need to leave for another 30-60 seconds.

I put a generous amount of guacamole on the toasted bread, then the pancetta and lastly the poached egg. I garnished it with some parsley, salt, pepper and paprika.

There you go! Bon appetite!

12 Months, 12 Destinations: The 2015 travel year challenge is on!

At the beginning of this year, a close friend of mine dropped the bomb that she’s moving out of Geneva and assuming a position in Asia… in 2 weeks. As usual, when someone leaves, we always feel like we didn’t really take advantages of the fact that we are living in a strategic part of Europe where travelling around Europe is so easy and if planned properly, can be relatively cheap. With this, I decided to challenge myself to travel outside Geneva for a minimum of 2 days at least once a month. With so many places to choose, here’s my destination wish list for 2015:

Switzerland: Basel, Gstaad (for the husky sledding)

Italy: Sardinia, Sicily, Chianti or anywhere in Tuscany, Rome (maybe, after 4 ½ yrs in Europe, I’ll manage to convince myself to see Rome)

France: Corsica, Strasbourg, Lyon (already did for Feb!)

Germany: Berlin

Spain: Seville, Alicante, Barcelona (required! I miss it so bad)

Netherlands: Amsterdam

Portugal: Lisbon, Porto, Albufeira

Finland: Helsinki

Austria: Vienna (again), Salzburg

Outside Europe: California, Istanbul, Marrakesh, Petra

Let’s do this!

The Big 3-0h Turned Out To Be… Well, A Big One Indeed!

Birthday weekend in Paris

Birthday weekend in Paris

Exactly a week ago, I had my 30th birthday. I must say, for someone who is not so much into celebrating birthdays, this year has been pretty much…epic!

I’ve always been curious on what I would feel on my 30th birthday. For others, leaving the 20s is a dreadful moment – I guess when you’re at your 30’s you can’t blame on your age anymore on some bad decisions or indecision you make in life. Or, I guess it is also because some people think that you’re supposed to figure out life by 30 (now that can be a scary thought!). For others, 30 is finally an age they’ve been waiting for – it is the age when people start looking at you as a real adult in your workplace, not some striving young professional trying to make it in the business. In my case, I was excited to celebrate my 30th birthday simply because I know I am entering a new season in my life. I know that sounds vague but that’s not why I’m writing this, to expound that would be like writing a book.

The Celebrations

I think it is only fair to say that for my birthday this year, I celebrated friendship. I would not have had a memorable birthday if it were not for my friends. The truth is, Geneva would have been such a lonely place if it were not for my friends. Yes, my top 3 secrets to enjoying to Geneva have been:

  1. Invest on friendships
  2. Enjoy travelling
  3. Appreciate alone time

Triple Birthday and A Farewell Celebration

(My family in Geneva) L-R: Abel, Bhabes, Nenette, Me, and Godi

(My family in Geneva) L-R: Abel, Bhabes, Nenette, Me, and Godi

On the 6th of April, we had a fiesta at the Gray’s to celebrate 3 birthdays (Mike, Nenette, and mine’s) and to say see-you-again to one of my families in Geneva, Bill and Bhabes. It was an Asian-themed feast… we even had a lechon! I always enjoy these get-togethers even though this one was bitter-sweet.

Birthday Lunch, An Anonymous Gift, and We Were Off to Paris

It was particularly more-than-the-ordinary busy at work the week of my birthday. But as early as Monday, I already started receiving birthday cards and greetings from friends.

On my actual birthday, I was greeted with a birthday card on my desk from my boss and his wife (with a PS saying they have a gift for me but he forgot to bring it). Before turning on my laptop, I quickly went to the area in our floor where we put food that we would like to share to everyone. On that day, I brought special pain au chocolat. As I didn’t want the attention, I tried to sneak the pain au chocolat but someone eventually caught me… and usually, if someone brings that much food that means it is his/her birthday. So, at early morning, half of the people in our floor have already greeted me.

Lunch was truly a treat! First, my boss treated me to lunch at Café du Soleil. Second, it was a double birthday lunch because it was also the birthday of one of our security colleagues from another agency. Now, at least I know 2 people with the same birthday as mine.

After lunch, as I came back to my office, I saw a gift on my chair without a tag. I thought it was from Nenette who earlier called to greet me and told me she’ll drop by my office to give a gift. Since I was trying to finish everything at work by 5 pm (our train to Paris was at 5:45 pm), I only called Nenette after an hour of seeing the gift. When Nenette picked up the phone, I thanked her for the gift. She replied “you’re welcome. Sorry, I’m quite busy at the moment, is it okay if you get your gift here in my office? “. So, apparently it wasn’t from her. I asked around whom the gift was from or who left it in my office… no one knew. To whomever it was from, thank you! It’s a really nice scarf.

At 5 pm, I left the office to catch the 5:45 pm train to Paris with my friends Nicol, Sarah, another Sarah, Kaisa, and Jordan (Tara and Tya took the later train). The train ride was beautiful! You see, we’ve been having some crappy weather in Geneva the whole week. So, when the sun shone at 7 pm (at one point, I had to wear my sun glasses because it was too bright), I couldn’t help but appreciate God’s little birthday treat. After everyone has arrived in Paris, Yann took us to a bar for a little drink before calling it a night.

The Big Weekend in Paris

Birthday dinner in Paris organized by Nicol and Yann :)

Birthday dinner in Paris organized by Nicol and Yann 🙂

On Saturday, we did a sight-seeing/shop-seeing walk from Notre Dame to Champs Elysee. We also discovered a cheap but really good Japanese restaurant close to the Louvre.

At night, Yann took us to this French restaurant for my birthday dinner. The food was awesome (at least based on what I had)! Having dinner in Paris with these girls and guys made me realized how much blessed I am to have these nice people around me.

After dinner, we went to Barrio Latino, a salsa club in Paris. As I said to my friends, I don’t remember the last time I had to line up to get in a club… with that alone, I knew it was going to be a fun night! Barrio Latino is a 5-floor club (they serve dinner on the upper floors). Although it’s a salsa club, they played quite a variety of music genre that night – which I appreciated since I’m not exactly a salsa dancer. Overall, it was one of the best nights ever since I moved to Europe almost 3 years ago.

Surprisingly, everyone got up pretty early the following day. On that Sunday, the weather was fantastic! It was so warm that we didn’t need to put a sweater on. It was the perfect weather to end the weekend in Paris. To enjoy this rare opportunity, we decided to have a picnic at a park by the Eiffel Tower. For me, it was a perfect, relaxing day with friends. At 2 pm, Jordan and I had to leave the group since we were both catching the earlier train back to Geneva.

Wrapping up the Paris weekend with a picnic

Wrapping up the Paris weekend with a picnic

In Conclusion

As I reflected on my birthday last week, I asked myself what made me want to celebrate my birthday this year. I realized it’s not because 30 is a milestone – it was merely an excuse for the big celebrations. I celebrated my birthday this year because my friends made sure of it. And this is why I dedicate my birthday this year to celebrate friendship.

With this, I sincerely thank all my friends in Geneva (especial mention to Nicol and Yann)… I appreciate you all so much!

 

Hugs,

~I

PS. Guys, thank you for the cool gift! hahaha!

PS. Guys, thank you for the cool gift! hahaha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank You!

TripAdvisor's Top 18% Most-Read Reviews of All Time

I recently received a message from TripAdvisor that I’m among their top 18% most-read reviewers of all time! Wow, thank you!

When I decided to start a blog about Geneva and travelling Europe, I didn’t think it would become more of a travel review blog. To be honest, I just wanted to document my trips in case I come back to the same place again or if a friend asks for recommendations. However, after travelling for a while, I realized how good, honest reviews in TripAdvisor really helped me maximized the things I should enjoy when travelling – good restaurants, excellent hotels, places to see, etc. Though I’ve seen really helpful reviews on travel blogs or sites, I sometimes find a couple of details that are missing (details that may not necessarily be important to others but necessary to me). Thus, I started writing my blog in a review format.

I have to admit, I’m not really good in updating this blog regularly… working in the field of security for a humanitarian organization is not exactly a walk-in-the-park. Nevertheless, I really appreciate the messages I’ve been receiving from the readers. So once again, thank you!

Have a great Easter weekend everyone! I’ll be celebrating Easter in my top-most favorite city in Europe and I’ll tell you about it soon!

Ciao!

~I.

 

Weekend Recap

It was a slow yet a fruitful weekend for me.

Saturday morning, I woke up at record-breaking 11ish. I normally like to wake up early, even on a Saturday, but since I only got home at around 3.00 that morning, I decided to just sleep it in the whole morning. I had brunch – sausage, egg and fried rice – before heading out to the supermarket at around 1.00 pm. Yes, not only I woke up late but I was moving extremely slow that day (nothing related to my partying that night because I didn’t really do any serious drinking). After going to the supermarket, I thought of going to Ikea to finally buy a book shelf. I also thought of going to the town center to buy some clothes for my Nice trip. But then again, I didn’t feel like shopping or buying anything that day. I just wanted to read my Clash of the Kings book and write. I ended up biking at the park and reading under the sun, while munching a cheeseburger and fries, until around 5.30 pm. It’s nice to feel the sun again!

When I got home that afternoon, I started craving for a Java Chip frapuccino so I dashed out of my apartment and went to Starbucks. The cool thing about my apartment is that I am just a stone-throw away from the tram station and I am only 3 short stops from the Gare Cornavin, yet my area is still very “residential”. The nearest Starbucks from my place is the one at the Gare Cornavin. At the Starbucks, I saw my friends Charmi and Christine so we had a little chat.

In the evening, I was still quite full from the cheeseburger and fries snack I had at the park so for dinner, I only had my favorite mozzarella and tomatoes with olive oil. I had my dinner while watching American Idol. I will say it again: Jessica is a great singer but Colton and Phil are artists – I still think at this point that they are doing doing the finale. Colton had my attention that on that episode – I didn’t know he’s a Christian. As a Christian, I am proud that he chose to sing a worship song that night and declare that God is his everything. Brave thing to do in a competition where being “cool” is supposedly the wisest thing to do – Jimmy dissed him out for being emotional. Well, Jimmy, praising God from your heart tends to give you an overwhelming emotions – you should try it sometime.

Sunday morning, I went to my church in France with Christine. I was so blessed by the message that morning. The topic was still on Hebrews and we had a guest pastor. My church in France is just 5-10 minutes away from Geneva but one thing that makes it difficult on weekends is the bus schedule – bus only arrives every after 30 minutes. That noon, we missed the bus by a minute so Christine and I prayed that a Filipino with a car will pass by and give us a ride back to Geneva – God is faithful, he did give us a ride! 🙂

It was almost 1 pm when I got back in Geneva and I was feeling lazy to cook lunch so I went to my favorite Italian restaurant in Geneva, which is just a block away from my apartment. Again, it was a lovely day so I ate outside and took out my book to read. I ordered for a spaghetti carbonara but the waiter brought me a spaghetti bolognese instead. Well, I don’t really mind because their bolognese is my one of my classic favorites so I didn’t complain.  When I got to my apartment, I had facetime with my family in the Philippines – my sister told me that our baby Doodle has been a very bad boy lately. I miss our dogs!

After our little chat, I started writing my John Carter entry for mashed-up lines. It took me almost 4 hours to write it  – this only means that I need to write more because I’m getting rusty! By 9 pm, I started preparing my stuff for work. At 10 pm, it was my long awaited Gossip Girl + The Vampire Diaries night ( I always watch my GG & TVD recordings on a Sunday night). I don’t like the Blair & Dan thing but I think Serena should be with Nathan. As for TVD, don’t get me started… I’m so in love with Stefan right now! And I love that they are showing Klaus’ “humanity” side at the moment.

So that’s how my weekend went by. I am pretty pleased with it actually. Next week’s going to be a long weekend but I also have a long to-do-list.

Ciao!

xx ~I.

 

 

When 14 Minutes is Too Long for You…

My Filipino friend would always say: “You’d know you’ve lived long enough in Geneva if 15 minutes of waiting for the bus to arrive is too long for you”. I’d say TRUE!

During my last year in the Manila, before I came to Geneva, I commuted from home to work. We live at Montalban, Rizal while my work was in Makati City. Montalban is 1.5-3 hour commute ride to and from Makati City. On weekdays, my mom, sister and I would leave the house before 6 AM and I would reach work at 7.30 – 8.00 AM. Going home was much more difficult because of a heavier traffic. I would leave the office between 5.00 to 5.30 PM and I would arrive home at around 7.30 – 8.00 PM. During Christmas season, town festival, or sale season, which is like almost every month in Manila, the travel home can go up to 3-4 hours! (and I am not exaggerating on these figures)

The long queues at the terminals is another story as well. Just this January, during my vacation in Manila, I was reminded that, in my hometown, if I reach the shuttle terminal at past 6.30 AM, I have to stand in a long queue for a good 45 minutes to finally get a ride to the city. 

So why am I saying this? Just to make a point that as a Filipino, my patience for commuting, by nature (or nurture that is), is relatively long. However, being in another country with an excellent local transportation system tend to take that away. My apartment is probably 6 minutes drive away from my office. When I take the local trasportation, which I normally do, it usually takes me around 15 minutes to reach the office, including waiting time. I also take 2 buses going to work and the last bus actually stops right in front of my office (talk about convenience, right?).

Moving on to my main point, yesterday, when I arrived at Nations, the bus stop where I get the bus (Bus F) that passes by my office, I saw in the monitor that it was arriving in 14 minutes. I thought: yikes! that’s too long! So I immediately pulled out my trusty iphone and checked the arrival of Bus 28, which also passes by my office but is less frequent than Bus F and the bus stop, although also in Nations, it is located in a weird corner.  Anyway, when I checked my TPG app, TPG is the name of centralized public transportation in Geneva, I saw that Bus 28 is arriving in 8 minutes. So, I immediately brisk-walked towards there (it’s a 2-3 minute walk from bus stop for F to bus stop for 28). That’s when I realized: Geez! There’s only 6 minutes difference between the two buses! Although walking is good for my health, but what does it say about my patience?! hahaha!

So, I therefore conclude that 1 yr and 9 months of living in Geneva is long enough to feel that 14 minutes of waiting for the bus is quite long enough despite my 27 years of training of loooong commutes. Yikes!

TIP: If you are living in Geneva, you have an iphone (or an ipad) and you haven’t discovered the TPG app yet… well, what are you waiting for?! It is a very useful app. It gives you a real-time bus schedules.

That’s all for now! Ciao!

xx ~I.