o little town of bordeaux

There’s no question about it – the Christmas season is officially upon us. Having lived in New York for the last three years, I’m used to waiting until (American) Thanksgiving before the serious decorating breaks out. Bordeaux seems to be on the same timeline as, upon our return from Montpellier, the festivies are in full swing.

Christmas is coming

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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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château on a cloud

The area of my kitchen in which I am decidedly Greek is the part immediately in front of the kitchen sink. The base section of the faucet with the threading has completely come undone from the err… useful faucet bit (technical term), which now requires plumber’s tape to keep it connected to the base and hose. The water pressure, however, has different ideas about how this should go down and regularly overpowers the tape to shoot the faucet off the base and spray the wall next to the sink. I frequently forget to hold the faucet in place and inadvertently repeat this process every morning, followed closely by some choice Greek euphemism-cum-endearments (but in the moment are, of course, the former). I am certain one of our various duct tape solutions will win the day, but in the meantime I have a very, very clean wall.

Graphical analysis of (too) early mornings in my kitchen.

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called to the bar-rel

The honeymoon phase was bound to end, right?  Two months ago I, too, thought wine in the morning was going to be glamourous (look at all those ‘u’s Americans, ain’t they beautiful?) and just another example of how life in France at wine school was going to be all of my dreams come true.  Let me tell you: it is not fun to wake up to 9 glasses of red wine.  Certainly not on a Friday morning when you may or may not already be dehydrated.  This is the first time in recent memory that I’ve considered using the spittoon. Normally I can handle the amount of wine we taste in class, and I am additionally quite open-minded as to what time of day is acceptable to open a bottle of wine, but this…

Morning wine tasting thought process as graphically retold with some help by

Morning wine tasting thought process as graphically retold with some help from art by hyperboleandahalf and victimsofcircumsolar

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most people think haggis is offal  

After six weeks of school (so exhausting!), it’s time for a week of vacation. There’s a birthday party in London, so I head in that direction bearing gifts – some wines from Bordeaux (what else?). It is a busy weekend. Birthday festivities take up the majority of the Saturday: the afternoon starts at London’s first real wine bar, the Boot and Flogger, followed by a visit to a local public house of beers, pie and live music, finished by serenading each other with several hours of karaoke. Having used up all the vocals, Sunday morning is quiet; a classic brunch followed by a wander through the local market and afternoon Pétanque/Bocce.

Sunday funday: carb re-loading, market greenery and slow attempts at Petanque.

Sunday funday: a carb re-loading recipe I need to learn (tartiflette = potatoes, cheese, wine, cheese, cream, cheese, bacon…need I go on?), market greenery and energy levels are starting to Pétanque after a lively afternoon.

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