29 December 2010

48 hours, multiple places

daybegin9:28 am. today. a chocolate pear muffin. with a favorite. in london. kisses on the cheek goodbye.

dayend11:32 pm. tonight. 80 (now 79) bags of yorkshire tea. your new favorite mug. in evreux.

8:43 pm. tomorrow. yet again somewhere else.

moments that will be explained next year.

happy early new year!

22 December 2010

away

nantesi could be away for 4 months.

i could be away for 4 weeks.

i could be away for 4 days. 4 hours away. in nantes.

it doesn’t matter because i love returning to evreux. the train enters a dark tunnel and begins to slow down. that’s when i know it’s my cue to get up and get ready to step off the train.

and then i’m back. and i become incredibly happy because i miss evreux each time i’m away.

it’s my time for small moments. the library. going to a movie. doing laundry. writing. organizing. sitting at my desk. avoiding slipping on ice. buying a baguette. reflecting on quotes i like:

Je n’ai jamais bien cherché pourquoi j’ai fait des photos.  En réalité, c’est une lutte désespérée contre l’idée qu’on va disparaître. –Robert Doisneau

but rarely do i stay long - i’m off again, if the snow will let me leave tomorrow.

merry christmas in advance, wherever you are! and enjoy all those small moments.

18 December 2010

saturday

saturday06a perfect saturday consists of doing nothing.

having breakfast with friends at a very messy breakfast table, complete with drunk food eaten after a 2AM snowball fight.

but see, it’s these nothing moments that accumulate and becoming something truly special.

saturday01enjoying the snow that keeps falling.

saturday02letting a cheese sit out so it’ll be ready for a christmas dinner tonight.

saturday04jamie oliver to the rescue for last minute dinner potluck ideas.

saturday03a trip to the farmer’s market to buy ingredients for the sage and chestnut stuffing.

saturday05an inverse puff pastry that doesn’t look like it will be too successful. but we’ll see. 

saturday07adding some finishing touches to a pink praline tart that you aren’t 100% happy with.

saturday09so you whip up a pear and speculoos tart because you know that one is always good.

saturday08but in case you ever find yourself with a bag of those pink pralines from lyon here’s the recipe for a ganache.

pink praline ganache / ganache praline rose

200g pink pralines / praline rose, crushed

300g heavy cream

400g white chocolate, in pieces

80g butter, diced and at room temperature

simple: boil the pralines with the cream, and then pour it over the white chocolate. stir until everything is all melted together, and let it cool for about 15 min to reach 40C, then stir in the butter.

and it’s up to you for how’d you like to use the ganache. i decided to simply fill up some tart shells and top them with almonds. but i have a lot leftover in the freezer… so the pink praline ganache will make a comeback soon.

saturday10and if you ever find yourself wondering what to make for a christmas potluck, you can hang out with jamie oliver and i for a sage and chestnut stuffing.

750g sausage meat

2 onions

2 apples

breadcrumbs

250g chestnuts (from a jar)

1/2 bunch sage leaves (dried works)

1 egg

olive oil

simple as well: put the sausage meat in a bowl. finely chop in some onions and apples. add in the bread crumbs (but i used chunks of stale bread). add in the chestnuts. add in the sage. add the egg. mix it all with your hands. drizzle with olive oil, and pop it into the oven for 45 minutes at 200C.

a pre-christmas dinner soon. can’t wait for the night to begin.

happy holidays!

17 December 2010

the third fall

spoil00i was in the middle of doing something pink and white.

spoil01but then i noticed a flurry of activity outside my window.

spoil02so i stopped. and admired.

spoil03dear normandy, you really are spoiling me. it’s the third time you’ve transported me to a winter wonderland.

spoil04it could snow a hundred times here, and still, i’d always be enchanted.

les grands esprits se rencontrent (à lyon)

lyon01lyon begins late. a happy reunion. nonstop laughing. a tasting session at midnight.

the next day, you wake up to a note.

a note telling you about all the possible things you can eat. cereal, bread, granola, yogurt, milk, tea, etc… your friend is an expert at making sure your tummy is happy.

but. she did one evil thing.

lyon02she put out the jar of speculoos butter.

that’s right. nothing else got eaten. or even touched. it was just you, a spoon, some bread, and a jar of speculoos that morning. some clementines as well.

lyon03in english, we have the phrase “great minds think alike.

lyon04but in french, they have the phrase “les grands esprits se rencontrent.

lyon06it means the exact same thing. but the literal translation would be “great spirits meet.

lyon08it’s curious how in the french version, there is an aspect of something physical. an actual meeting. not just mental ideas floating around that happen to be the same. in english, they think. in french, they meet.

lyon05and that’s what happened in lyon. you met a grand esprit.

lyon07you do all your pondering in a museum. as usual.

lyon09then night falls. and gradually lyon begins its shift.

lyon10the shift into a city of blurs.

lyon11you love lyon because she knows exactly what you love. and she gives it all to you. lights. blurs. rays. reflections. shadows. arches. clouds. bridges.

lyon12she even knows how much you love les moutons. bah oui, of course.

lyon16only lyon, isn’t that right?

lyon17of course. one of your favorite color combinations. bleu. blanc. rouge. red, white, and blue – it works for your favorite places in the world: usa, texas, france, and taiwan.

lyon20you end the night at a jungle. then it’s off to home. to bed. to rest up for another day with lyon.

16 December 2010

little things

tart01sometimes, it’s the little things that you discover that makes a big difference. for example, lining a tart pan.

after lining a tart pan with the dough, i like to lay a sheet of baking paper on top.

tart02and then i grab a bottle of balsamic vinegar and roll it right over the paper. a bottle of cidre or wine will also work.

tart03then i peel away the paper. and the excess dough falls right off.

simple, no?

tart04and when i make a quiche, it is always a ratio of 1 egg to 100ml of cream. but then one day i decided to add a bit of leftover tomato coulis that was sitting in the fridge.

tart05and combined with leftover leeks and ham, a very orange quiche was born. and eaten.

i love quiches because rarely is planning involved. if it is edible and you can fit it in a tart pan, it is game.

and normally always delicious.

tart06fromage blanc +vanilla + sugar + clementines + whortleberries = dessert.

mail

envelopetoday i mailed it.

the envelope.

only 15% are ever sent in correctly the first time.

and since i am lost in translation i don’t think i am one of the 15%.

but at least it’s sent.

all i can do is cross my fingers.

15 December 2010

eight of hearts

eightofhearts01hmm. what does it mean when you find a yellowed old poker card in an old piece of furniture at a thrift shop?

eightofhearts02especially when it is the eight of hearts?

why eight, why hearts, and why the flag of france?

it must be important. but you aren’t sure why. for now you just tuck the card in your journal until the right moment for it arrives.

14 December 2010

genius

pearalmond01the photos are not-so-great.

but i don’t care because this dessert was genius.

it is pear bread and butter pudding.

however, the genius (and i wish i could take credit) is that you replace the bread with almond croissants from your favorite bakery.

so really it is pear and almond croissant pudding.

pearalmond02if you don’t feel like baking, you can stop here.

because placing a slice of a pear on top of an almond croissant is already very tasty.

pearalmond03however, if you want to have some more fun:

whisk together a mixture of 1 egg, 4 egg whites, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 3 tablespoons of sugar.

bring 500ml of milk and 500ml of cream together to a boil and add it to the above mix.

pour it over a casserole filled with sliced almond croissants and pears.

bake in a 180C oven for about 45 min.

pearalmond04and eat. preferably hot from the oven. with vanilla ice cream. and lots of people to share it with. on a snowy and cold day.

source = niki segnit, the flavour thesaurus, page 273.

09 December 2010

the night starts here

fdli rarely read my old words. i don’t know. i just don’t like reading my thoughts from ages ago.

but i decided to read my pre-lyon thoughts from last year.

and wow, how much has changed. the city that was unknown to me last year where i completely winged a trip in less than a day is now a city that i now have friends in. not to mention, i’ve changed. me today is quite different from me a year ago. from me tomorrow. from me in a year. and so, i think that is one reason why i’m attracted to journaling/blogging – it is a reminder of all the changes that happen in life.

i’m meeting that stranger from facebook (and perhaps stranger isn’t the correct word anymore). i’m going to eat tartiflette with my favorite lyonnaise. i’m going to wish another a happy birthday.

but then, some things don’t change:

“and now, i’m going to come back with hopefully some new friends, lots of photos, and definitely lots of delicious things.”

those were my words last year. and it happened. and i’m determined to make it happen again this year.

lyon, bring it on! i’ll be doing the bise with you tonight.

08 December 2010

two different days, two different walks, two different snows

Back Cameraon my walk back from work today, i kept stopping. and pulling out my cell phone to make photos. people would stare at me. but i didn’t care.

Back Camerabecause i was seeing clementine peels everywhere!

Back Camerasomebody, probably a french boy, had eaten a clementine and decided to use the sidewalks as a poubelle.

Back Cameranormally i don’t approve of littering. but for clementines in december, i will make a rare exception.

then.

i had lunch.

and an hour later, i went out for another walk to run some errands.

Back Cameraand this time, i cuffed my jeans because i was walking on a white blanket. round two of a snowy evreux had just begun.

snowagain07and instead of clementines, i saw outlines of leaves.

snowagain11i wasn’t the only one happily playing in the snow – so was the l’aise breizh, the cute little mascot of brittany that you’ll see on any car from la bretagne. guaranteed.

snowagain08in france (please don’t correct me if i am wrong because the deed is done) people who are moving out will just leave things they don’t want out on the sidewalk.

snowagain09and it is game for the taking before the garbage men take it away.

curiosity got the best of me. i peeked into the box.

then i looked left. looked right. swallowed my pride.

quickly ran up four flights of stairs to my apartment.

locked the door. and…

snowagain10welcomed the baby ceramic tart molds into their new home! my home. they will be filled with all sorts of yummy things. oh, i can’t wait!

now let’s go back in time to friday when the first snow was just leaving.

nwalk01and this time, i was walking to a bar. with friends.

nwalk02i ordered a chaude boisson. it’s hot, all right. but the cognac in it also makes it strong.

of course, a clementine also makes an appearance.

i told you so – they magically appear when you least expect them.

nwalk03and i ended the night with a walk back to my apartment.

i really do treasure these small moments evreux always gives me.