here comes the sun

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in need of more wine. In a pinch, a half-decent fortune will do. Or in times of great need any spare change in the wallet will suffice. You know, whatever is available can always be converted, magically, into a bottle of ambrosia. With the change in seasons – a whopping 22°C (or 72°f) this weekend – I’ve been on the hunt for lighter reds and more whites. Fortunately both temperature and opportunity conspire fortuitously to bring Alsace to the Médoc, in the form of a visit by Becker wines – the same that seem to keep cropping up in my blog and on my wine shelf – and otherwise an outdoorsy weekend in the sun.

Scenes around Bordeaux: my morning run to the river; sheep safely graze on campus, an old Romanesque church in Moulis-en-Médoc glistens in the sun. The Garonne River mirrors the lights from Place de la Bourse. And is that a giant sundial or the helical obelisk in Place de la Victoire? What time is it...? Time for a drink!

Scenes around Bordeaux: my morning run to the river; sheep may safely graze on campus, an old Romanesque church in Moulis-en-Médoc glistens in the sun. The Garonne River mirrors the lights from Place de la Bourse. And is that a giant sundial or the helical obelisk in Place de la Victoire – what time is it, you ask…? Time for a drink!

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here’s looking at you, alsace

“It’s possible that I have some control issues…” I begin saying, but my friend’s chuckles cut me off before I can finish the thought …after nine years of being a project manager… Dammit. OK, there’s probably some truth in that, particularly as I’m determined to write about the past week in chronological order, even though the bits at the beginning of the week are suspiciously blurry. After three days in Alsace, stumbling about in a food-and-drink stupor, you’ll understand why I leave you with mostly pictures for this post. Apologies for the brevity of this post (though 1000 words x # pictures… surely counts for something?), but it’s another busy week which I’ll get to in the next post (coming soon, as there was too much to put into one entry). Read More

livin’ on the kedge

think I have a job. I’m mostly sure – I have an email in my inbox which seems to suggest I’ve been offered a stage, or internship. There’s still an interview to come, but it sounds like it’s more to confirm details than to ascertain whether I’m an axe murderer (I’m not, I promise….Although that’s exactly what an axe murderer would say… oh dear. Nobody tell the folks in Alsace about this.) There’s nothing to negotiate, really. All interns are paid the same – a minimum of €500 per month (roughly a month’s rent in Bordeaux) – and this particular offer includes lodging, so this is a pretty good deal. I’ll tell you more about it when I’m sure that I have this stage. Read More

is this the real life or is this just flan-tasy?

Egg, milk, sugar and vanilla mix. Sugar gets caramelized. Done but no taste testing until Thanksgiving!

The main reason I decided to live in an apartment in downtown Bordeaux was to have a kitchen with an oven. It has served me well so far – some nice dinners including Canadian Thanksgiving last month. This week my kitchen has been invaded by a classmate intent on proving that the fourth time is the charm when it comes to making flan and making dessert for our class’ upcoming American Thanksgiving celebration. As I have never made this particular dessert, I’ve been quick to offer up use of my kitchen (key ingredient to a successful flan) so I can hopefully learn a few culinary tricks.

Earlier this year in the Talenti gelato factory, I spent about one minute learning how to scrape the pods out of vanilla beans (more to prove a point about efficiency than anything else). That minute has actually paid off as I find myself dutifully splitting and scraping vanilla beans for the pot.  At first it seems a bit of a wild-mousse chase: my kitchen does not seem to have any measuring cups, and translating the recipe from Dutch to English, volume to weight, imperial to metric, while re-engineering it to consume exactly all the ingredients that were purchased (cooking with the very practical Dutch has its own particular eccentricities: we’re literally pudding all our eggs in one basket) but we manage to create something (two somethings, in fact) that pass the elaborate jiggle, colour, and density tests created by my fellow flantrepreneur.

Some people might say it passes custard; I wouldn’t be one of them… (I mean, it’s a pretty weak joke; that would be quite off-pudding, wouldn’t it?)

Ok, ok, no more jokes!!

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c’est pas graves

…except when it is. The region, that is. I’m about a week behind on posting, so I have TWO weeks to tell you about, plus a teaser about where I am for my week of vacation.

Science, like the internet, is always right.

Science, like the internet, is always right.

Last week brought a whole different kind of school – one focused around the journal club that we’re starting; a class structure that allows each of us to research our own topics and bring our own scientific articles to educate and engage each other in discussion on viticultural issues. Remember that scientific mumbo-jumbo from a few posts back? Yeah, reading articles is tougher than it looks. We start by learning HOW to read articles. The first thing we learn is: don’t believe everything you read.  Sort of. Read More