stop and smell the rosés

My mother used to make the best icing. Like many of her tried and true recipes, it came from the Joy of Cooking (to this day my first and only cooking bible), and called for confectioner’s sugar, butter, vanilla and cream (and of course food colouring). There were two things that made it so special; the first was that it was only ever made to top birthday cakes (there are 8 in my family, so many opportunities in a year). The second was it was hard icing, unlike the soft butter cream icings that everyone else seemed to prefer. It was the hours-long (!) wait in the fridge between the time the cake got iced and the time it got served, which made it harden. And then when you ate it, the first bite or two of cake was framed with a stiff sugary crust, but then the third bite (assuming you could slow down and make the slice last more than 30 seconds) was when the icing would start to soften and even melt in your mouth if you let it linger on your tongue. That’s what made it sublime.

Vanilla beans, vanilla extract, vanilla flavoured icing. I come by this memory honestly!

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back to school (reprise)

The return to Bordeaux has been a complete change of pace from the harvest in Alsace. A relaxed schedule has given me time to work on my internship report and presentation, not to mention time to rediscover my old stomping grounds.

Refamiliarizing myself with the territory: fog on the walk to school; the Cité du Vin is a new attraction. Rue Ste Catherine is empty on the holiday - you can actually see the obelisk at Place de la Victoire at the other end! Cleanup in Place de la Bourse and an evening view of the Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas.

Refamiliarizing myself with the territory: fog on the walk to school; the Cité du Vin is a new attraction. Rue Ste Catherine is devoid of shopping hordes on the holiday – you can actually see the obelisk at Place de la Victoire at the other end! Cleanup in Place de la Bourse and an evening view of the Pont Jacques Chaban Delmas.

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it’s business time

This is how my life looks everyday.

This is my other house.

You may think that I’m only sharing the things that make this look fun and easy.  I take pictures when I’m amused and/or amazed (it doesn’t take much, as you can tell).  My posts are typically guided by what pictures I’ve taken during the week, as I like to be able to show you what I’m talking about. Although frankly, even the things that are bothersome or frustrating in the moment are at least a little bit funny, looking back at them through the lens of a little time.  And wine.  I promise you’re hearing those stories (the tram, the mosquitos, and the heat!) even if they’re lighthearted and perhaps watered down by the time I write about it.  That said, I don’t want you to think that everything here is sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, so this time around I’ll only talk about serious academic stuff and all the downsides of living in Bordeaux… Read More

let’s kippis!

Tram B, not unlike the New York subway system in the summer, has its own special micro-climate (technical term). Described by some as ‘surprisingly tropical’ it is consistently a departure – and somehow always surprisingly so – from the weather conditions on the outside of the tram, particularly during early morning journeys to school.  Dressing oneself in the morning is a careful exercise of selecting clothing appropriate for the walking portion of the trip, but that can also be divested quickly and with a minimum of arm movement, as once inside the tram, one is hemmed in on all four sides by other students drawn, like mosquitos to light, to the various campuses in Pessac.  (Mosquitos are clearly still on the brain chez moi.  N.B. The plugins are far more effective than the sprays.)

The infamous Tram B passing the opera house. My morning walk takes me across this field.

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school is now (v)in session

I took chemistry once.  It was fifteen years ago, during first year of university.  “Baby Chem,” as it was nicknamed, (not even Chem for Dummies or Chem 101) represented the bare minimum amount of science I needed to progress to Intro to Food Science (aka. cooking class) and then to the restaurant course (which also had a real name that nobody ever used).  From that initial chemistry course, my vague recollections indicate that carbon chains exist, and are somewhat important, but the remaining details seem to have escaped me.  I’m sure it’ll all come back very organically.

This idyllic scene from week one has been replaced by this terrifying depiction of tannin polymers in week two.

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