Places in Paris: Pink Mamma

You guys, I have been on a hunt for really good pizza in Paris. I know I won’t find any deep dish, extra cheesy and greasy pepperoni like my beloved Round Table Pizza so I needed to compromise with a decent Italian pizza. I heard about a beautiful restaurant called Pink Mamma in Pigalle, a popular spot on Instagram so we headed out on a late Saturday afternoon. We took the bus to Pigalle which took longer than we expected so we arrive a little after 7pm (just after opening). I was surprised to find a long line ahead of us. Then I realized there were no reservations so when we made it inside the hostess told us to return at dix, Liv translated to us that she meant come back at TEN PM!! Holy Cow, there was no way I was going to wait three hours to eat. We were starving. Since we were already there I decided to hang out and take photos of the four story gorgeous interior. The decor is different on every floor and I tried to capture what my eyes saw however, it was awkward taking photos of strangers eating so I had to be discreet about it. Luckily, the light was at golden hour so Antz took these incredible photos of me feeling like an Italian Goddess. I never looked so fancy riding a public bus before.

 

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The four story staircase was bananas. It was like being inside of an art gallery. We spent a lot of time checking out the paintings.

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Was hoping to snag this table on the top floor but it was reserved for a party of five.

 

I mean, could I ask for better light. My kind hubby was playing paparazzi while the diners were looking at me like I was an alien. Whatever, I was feeling myself!

 

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Liv and I headed to the loo, which was in the basement.

 

I have never seen a meatlocker look so chic. I mean, I was looking for a mirror and instead we got a view of all of the meat.

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Just as we were about to leave, the hostess saw we were still there and she said if we wanted to eat now, she could get us a table. I was disappointed that we couldn’t dine on the top floor (which looked like the best spot) however, we were so hungry we happily took whatever we could get.

 

I didn’t have any high expectations for the food (I have been so disappointed by food in Paris before) so I was pleasantly surprised by the menu. I hadn’t had any delicious bruschetta since our goodbye dinner with Leslie and Stephen last February at my favorite Colombo’s Italian restaurant in Eagle Rock. I do wish they used balsamic vinegar but I really liked the fresh apricot that was added in place of tomatos, very rustic. Antz ordered a steak and potatoes dish that he loved and Liv had kids pasta. I had pretty yummy pizza. I enjoyed it but I not a big fan of the burnt thin crust, Margherita style pizza. Sorry, I still miss American food terribly. The good news was our bill was reasonable for such a fancy place. Around €60 with wine.

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So, Pink Mamma definitely lived up to all the hype. Be sure to go well before they open to get a good table. We ended up walking around lower Pigalle neighborhood after our meal and popped into the trendy Hotel Amour for dessert on their patio. The weather was lovely, Antz and I shared a delightful strawberry tart. Liv had ice cream. Then we took an Uber home.

 

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Pink Mamma
6:45 – 11 pm
20bis Rue de Douai
75009 Paris

Hotel Amour
8 Rue de Navarin
75009 Paris

The coolest restaurant in Iceland

My friend Christina gave me a list of recommendations for our trip. I was skeptical when she suggested visiting a tomato farm. Antz, Liv and I are not big fans of tomatoes but I knew if Christina says it’s good, it’s worth a visit. I called a couple of weeks in advance to make a reservation but my bad luck Liz curse struck again. The afternoon I wanted to go turned out to be the only day of the year they were closed for maintenance. I had to adjust our itinerary  to make a reservation. Luckily, we got the last available spot of the day!

We drove an hour and a half from Reykjavik to Friðheimar farm. The Ring Road is Iceland’s main road but it’s mostly a two lane road so they have this subtle reminder to not speed. Those cars are from an actual accident. The irony is I nearly had an accident trying to get a photo of this car wreck (just kidding, Antz took the photo). We passed this reminder several times while in Iceland which was helpful because I am usually a speed demon. I had to make a quick pitstop on the drive to snap this rad photo.

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I damn near lost my mind when I saw this sign. Björk actually translates to birch in Icelandic and there are birch trees everywhere. Too bad I didn’t see the real Björk.

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Antz had to convince me to not ask the owner if I could buy this flag to bring home to LA. Friðheimar is a working farm so during the summer months they put on a horse show. There are also ten hens that live on the property.
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I really didn’t understand what the hype was about a tomato farm but when we arrived it was impressive. The tomatoes are grown in a temperature controlled greenhouse so they grow year-round. The owners buy the cutest, fuzzy bumblebees from Belgium to aid with the fertilization of the plants. I think the key to making these tomatoes taste so good is the natural Icelandic geothermal water.

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Olivia was excited to cut her own fresh herbs to add to her food. When you arrive, you can check out the greenhouse and hit the all you can eat tomato soup bar. Everything has tomatoes, even the water! I tried my first blood Mary (sorry, I’ll stick to margaritas).

We met the owner Knútur, he was very kind and gave us a quick tour of the greenhouse. Liv was a little nervous around the bees but they are so fuzzy and cute.

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The food was amazing, I must have had three bowls of tomato soup. By the time my entree arrived, I was stuffed. The tomatoes were sweet and perfectly ripe. Not soft and mushy like  most restaurants in LA serve. The greenhouse was fascinating. We learned so much about horticulture. It wasn’t the smelly, traditional farm I envisioned.

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On the way out we stopped by the Little Tomato shop and taste-tested tomato preserves and jam.

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We bought a jar of green tomato jam and it’s still in our fridge at home!

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The Friðheimar Tomato Farm is a must-see/eat stop in Iceland. The staff is friendly and genuine and the food is exceptional. The owner takes pride in his farm and really connects with his customers. I wish that same warmness would happen in Los Angeles. Most restaurants are over-priced and I often feel like there is not a lot of quality put into the food and the waiters can be rude and pushy. Maybe I’m just over pretentious LA.

Friðheimar

Bláskógabyggð
IS-801 Selfoss
(+354) 486 8894
fridheimar@fridheimar.is

Open from noon – 4pm daily. I strongly recommend making a reservation.

Iceland Day One

I spent hours researching our trip to the land of fire and ice, one of my highest priorities was taking phenomenal photos. I signed up for a photography class and educated myself about my Nikon camera settings and lenses. I bought a new zoom lens but I needed something that would allow me a wider angle for close up shots. The problem was a $2,500 lens was not in my budget. I was so stoked to find out that Samy’s Camera rents Nikon lenses! I was able to try out different lenses for $25 bucks a day. I fell in love with a wide angle lens and bought a tripod because every person who has traveled to Iceland assured me I would need it to take photos of the Northern Lights. However the lens was large and heavy and along with two other lenses, the tripod, extra batteries, accessories and an external flash (that we never used) there was no way everything would fit into our camera bag. Antz somehow squeezed everything into his suitcase. I had to repack like ten times because my heavy boots didn’t fit and I kept going over the 44 lb weight maximum.

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This was just one of the ten outfits I packed. I bought thermal leggings from Amazon and wore layers everyday because even on windy rainy days, I was sweating from all the hiking. I had the hardest time finding the right coat to wear in Iceland. I did not want a puffy coat because they don’t look so great on me and they only come in boring colors. I ended up finding a fantastic white wool coat from Asos on sale for like $73! It was so warm and I was the brightest person in Reykjavik.

img_2977img_2583Making it rain in Icelandic Kronas! I found the best currency exchange place located in our new bank in Glendale.

The first day of our trip went surprisingly seamless. I may sound like a broken record but I strongly recommend flying with Wow Airlines. I will say, their gate at LAX was kinda lame and it felt like we walked for miles to get there. However they are a fairly new airline to LAX, so they don’t have a lounge area to wait in yet. Since we arrived so early and didn’t want to stand or sit on the floor for an hour, we waited in the nearby Virgin Atlantic area. Luckily, we saw the Wow crew walking by so we knew it was almost time to board. Other than that, everything was great. We had the sweetest flight attendants (ours looked like Margot Robbie) and the pilots invited Liv into the cockpit when we landed. The plane was clean and the seats had more room in coach than other airlines I’ve flown. There are only two seats for the window row so Antz had to sit across from us in the middle. All flights from Los Angeles arrive in Reykjavik at 4 am so that is something you need to plan for if you are checking into a hotel. We had a full day planned so it worked to our advantage.

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Our Uber driver was a little crazy, he followed the weirdest route to LAX which took us on a journey through the back alleys of downtown but we made it on time! LAX is one of my favorite places in Los Angeles. The TSA line is always miserable but there has been improvements on the design of the international terminal.

Once we made it through the lines of agony, we did some pre-flight shopping at Fred Segal. Then we picked up a light breakfast of pastries.

Can someone please buy these for my next trip??!!

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Most folks seem to have a problem when it comes to traveling with young kids but honestly, Liv has been our lucky rabbits foot. We get to board the plane first, the flight attendants absolutely love her which gets us perks and she’s a pleasure to travel with. It’s true, the earlier you travel with your kids, the more open-minded and exposed they become.

Fortunately no one sat next to Antz so he had plenty of room to spread out.

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I love that we can give our daughter the gift of travel and a proclivity for adventure. As we were flying over Canada, I felt so grateful that we could afford to take this trip instead of putting it off for “one day“.

dsc_1926Liv ate an entire box of rice crispy treats and a bag of trail mix. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks and water, nothing on this flight is free!

I waited my whole life to see the incredible Northern Lights. The week before we arrived in Iceland, they had the most vivid and clear Northern Lights in recent history. The government shut down all the lights in Reykjavik so people could view them better. I tracked the weather and the nightly skies on this website everyday until our trip. I slept during most of the flight but I did wake up and happened to look out the window. That sad green smear you see above is the Northern Lights. I tried and failed to take a photo with my rented lens because it was impossible to take a shot while we were moving and the glass from the window wasn’t allowing my camera to auto focus. When I took the photography class I specifically asked about taking photos at night and the key is to use a slow shutter speed, which means using a tripod. Every shot I have seen of the northern lights look like this…

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That early morning was the only Northern Lights we were able to see because clouds came in with our flight and obscured the sky for the whole week. The Liz curse strikes again!

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You wanna hear another great story? I booked our car rental back in July. I went ahead and splurged on an SUV with a snow package and all the extra insurance I could buy just in case. My friend Christina recommended getting a portable WiFi box so we will have coverage. I also got a navigation system even though the last time I rented a car in London, it didn’t work. So, I was pretty covered for our rental which totaled close to $800 for the week. I was promised to get a BMW X3 SUV or similar. This is what I got and believe me when I say, I acted like a disgusting, entitled American and threw a tantrum when I saw this Opal whatever it is. The chick at the rental place was like, “Bitch…you can walk.” So, here’s my Icelandic $800 pimped out ride. Well, at least it had a heated steering wheel.

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The only place to eat that was open at 6am was disappointing Subway. Yet, after a long flight, we were starving so it was good to have something familiar. I got the “Cool American” flavor Doritos. It was insane that the sun doesn’t rise until 9 am. It was pitch black at 8 in the morning.

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Guess those snow tires I paid for came in handy. They chilled in the trunk for the whole week. I think I could have been happier with the car if it was white. What color is this, depressing beige?

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It was freezing by the time we arrived at the Blue Lagoon. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the visit because of how cold it was outside.
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The Blue Lagoon was breath-taking. It was cold but once you’re in the water, it’s lovely. Now I was glad I paid for all of our extra luggage because I brought our aqua sock water shoes. Bare feet in public spaces is my phobia! There is an indoor entrance in the water so you don’t have to walk outside in the cold. Kids under 8 are required to wear floaties but the water level was shallow enough for Liv to stand on her tippy toes.

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Really, best day ever!! You must bring a GoPro to the lagoon. iPhones won’t cut it.

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So surreal, it was so warm and beautiful. And we only had been in Iceland for five hours.

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After a quick shower, we were back on the road, headed to our hotel for the first night. I booked the iconic Ion Luxury Hotel for our first night in Iceland because it is located in the middle of nowhere. Like, so much so that they don’t even have an traditional address. Of course, our rental’s navigation system took us an hour out of the way to get there. We were the only car driving on an endless stretch of road so I was pretty nervous we would get lost. Luckily, Iceland has awesome maps on the side of the roads for us clueless tourists. They are so thoughtful. I first read about the impressive hotel when it was featured in Afar magazine. It is known for being one of the best hotels for viewing the Northern Lights. Since it has the word luxury in the name, you know it’s expensive and also sold out even six months in advance. I must have called to make reservations every damn day until finally three weeks before our trip, they found a room for me. I was elated because this meant we could go to their beautiful Northern Lights bar and sit by the floor to ceiling windows to see the Northern Lights. It never occurred to me there would be a week of cloudy skies but we enjoyed our night at the hotel anyway.

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This river was boiling hot. Iceland, you so crazy! There is steam coming from power plants all over Iceland. People who live there never have to pay to heat their water. Energy is also dirt cheap because they power mostly everything from steam.

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Let me say, this hotel is unique and off the beaten track. It definitely had a James Bond sexy vibe to it. We were told that helicopter belonged to one of the guests, fancy! The Silfra restaurant is so reknown that tourists are bussed in from Reykjavik. We didn’t think to make a reservation since we were staying at the hotel and they almost couldn’t accommodate us.

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A cool thing about the water in Iceland, it’s 100% from the natural springs. Iceland has the purest water on the planet so you can actually drink from the shower, the faucets or even the ground. We went to a store and tried to buy bottled water and the woman was like “No, you go to the hotel and fill up your water bottle from the tap!” Honestly, the best water I have ever tasted. It felt nice to take a long hot shower and not feel guilty about a drought.

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We arrived at the hotel about noon but our room wasn’t ready yet so we hung out in the lobby. Our jet lag set in and we ended up falling asleep. I know I was snoring! When our room was ready, we had just enough time to change our clothes for our horseback riding tour. We booked a private tour through the hotel so a nice girl named Hannah picked us up and drove us to her family’s farm.

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dsc_0330The two hours was over in an instant. It rained lightly but the sun peeked out. The horses were incredible, I was Snapchatting and taking photos most of the time so my horse was like “Ok, lady I guess I’ll control myself.”

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When we got back to the hotel, we were starving. Silfra restaurant was packed. The hotel only has 24 rooms but they were fully booked for dinner. Iceland’s specialty is seafood and lamb but we had amazing sushi too. I used my charm to get us a table even though they require reservations. This was our most expensive meal during the trip.

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OMG! This langoustine was heaven. Antz loved his seafood soup. Liv’s burger was meh.

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After a quick FaceTime with my BFF, Aimee we went straight to bed. I’m actually relieved the Northern Lights weren’t out that night because it felt like we were awake for 24 hours straight so off to bed we went. It was incredibly hard to wake up early for our next long day.

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