farewell tour de france: bordeaux and the rest

Bordeaux, the star of my whole trip.

Deep in the throes of procrastination, I realize it has been three months since the events in this post have taken place. Fortunately I’ve gotten the afternoon off work today due to a nor’easter hitting snowy Wolfville, so it seems like a good time to curl up on the couch inside and write something. Sorry in advance (I am definitely a Canadian!) – I insist this blog follows the stories in chronological order, so I will not talk about my move or new job until the next post. It’s worth the wait, I promise! For the moment, I am rewinding to the middle of December, where the last post left me (slightly warmer) in the Loire Valley.

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to bio or not to bio: that is the question

Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night can stay these Bordelaises about their fashion.

Neither rain nor snow nor gloom of night can stay these Bordelaises about their fashion.

I’m starting to notice that there is no correlation between Bordelais fashion and climate. Remember that photo from swelter-y August when I first arrived? Apparently I missed the memo informing of the local uniform, as the skinny jeans and sockless ballet flats are still in evidence as the temperature approaches freezing. Perhaps it’s the steady diet of wine, coffee and cigarettes which has some impact of internal body temperature regulation? Whatever it is, I’m definitely doing it wrong.

Here I am, rocking my three sweaters layered on top of each other (I rotate the one on the outside each day so it’s not obvious I only have the three), plus my fall jacket because I stubbornly refuse to buy a new jacket better suited to the wind and rain.  I tried, really, I did. There are massive sales on in Bordeaux right now, but after the week of wine-econometrics, I can’t help but see even lowered pricing as a clever ploy to pry every last consumer dollar out of my pocket. There were options, of course; I could have purchased a raincoat for €30, but I didn’t love it, you know?

Things are moving on the housing front. I’ve located a one-bedroom apartment, and there is enough paperwork in play now to make me think that a rental contract is not too far away. All being well, moving date should be in two weeks. Fingers continue to be crossed. 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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