Friday, December 30

I was lucky enough to receive the best Christmas present from my family: a roundtrip ticket home! After an incredibly busy December helping colleagues with end of the semester evaluations and scrambling around trying to decide what gifts to bring home (and realistically, what will fit in my suitcase) I spent a wonderful ten days in the US of A. Even though it ended up being a lot of dayquil and netflix due to getting sick (oops) I still managed to squeeze in a trip to NYC, seeing friends, lots of cooking and even more eating. Here are some snapshots from break ...

a white christmas!

celebrating cait's birthday in nyc.
pancakes are the new birthday cake.

christmas eve tradition: homemade pizza.

make it nice around the tree, make it nice.

merry christmas family.

before heading home, my roommate and i did a little
tour of rennes to look at the lights and enjoy the
christmas market ...

french christmas trees.

christmas market with delicious food and spiced wine to keep you warm.

everyone was out and about looking at crafts and munching on
tartiflette at the christmas market.
 I am back 'home' in Rennes and anxious to ring in the New Year with my friends here. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday and I will see you in the New Year!

Sunday, November 20

sunday afternoon.

Time for another update. I wish I had more pictures for this post, but I'm sure that Thanksgiving will provide plenty food pics so just a few will have to suffice this time! Ever since our October vacation, things have been really busy. I'm working a lot, tutoring a lot, and keeping very busy throughout the week. This usually means that Friday night I zombie out and watch bad reality TV I've wanted to catch up on, Saturday I sleep in and hit up the market, and Sunday is usually a wash.

But I have been very productive this weekend...meaning I was social and planned what is going to be another amazing ex-pat Thanksgiving. In addition to going to the market, going to IKEA, and doing what has become my only form of exercise here (dancing), I went to my dear friend Lisa's farm about half an hour outside of Rennes. Lisa is the owner of Apple Pie - the restaurant I talk constantly about - and she invited my friend Caely and me to spend the afternoon with her and her family. Last weekend I went to a colleague's house for lunch and after champagne and wine and a delicious chicken dish and tarte tatin, I decided it is so nice to spend Sunday with French families.

Our afternoon with Lisa was so lovely. Her husband is a baker and was nice enough to let us poke around his bakery ... it is very cool as everything around them is homemade, organic, recycled and wonderful. We had tea and cakes (gingerbread!) in the afternoon with her family including her sons and talked for hours about food and family and being a foreigner. We went for a walk, and Lisa and her family acquired an adorable female kitten from the neighbor. It was relaxing and I think I drank enough coffee and fresh apple juice to last me the rest of the semester. Sunday afternoon is something the French definitely know how to do ...

inside the baker's workshop.

custom oven making between 50-60 loaves a day.

i almost forgot to show you Apple Pie was featured
in french Elle ... la class.

Saturday, November 12

random post.

Not too much to update everyone on, but found some unused pictures in my iPhoto and thought I would share ...

clare front row and center at the stade rennais vs. lorient game.
apparently she wasn't the only one psyched about the picture taking ...

smitten kitchen french onion soup: success!

cute plate credit to berit.

fig marscapone tart. yes we made it. yes it was delicious.

on halloween (and caely's birthday!) we ventured to the salon des vins
and they featured my favorite châteauneuf du pape wine. 

one word: mustache.

the salon also featured tons of cheese, sausage, chocolate, and foie gras.

joyeux anniversaire caely! 
birthday brunch. complete with speculoos.

halloween came to rennes. thank you clare for the pumpkin!

role call: miss peacock, colonel mustard, miss white, prof. plum,
miss scarlet and mr. green. all present.
a scotsman and a lovely butterfly arrived.

beautiful day in cancale with caely.

lots and lots and lots of oyster shells.

november has arrived. so have warm, home cooked meals.

like dad's mac and cheese.

and zucchini and carrot muffins.

we had a huge potluck with the other chateaubriand assistants.
representing america, china, and mexico.

representing brazil and connecticut.

representing russia and mexico.
the spread.

the feast.

Saturday, November 5

off to bordeaux we go.

This is beyond overdue so brace yourself ...

After only three weeks of teaching, France rewarded me with a long vacation. Technically, it is honoring Toussaint, or France's "All Saints Day" on November 1st, but who's counting? The weather has been beautiful in Rennes, not too cold yet, but some friends and I decided to head south in search of sun, food, and wine - welcome to Bordeaux. My friend Caely from Rennes and I took a painless train arriving in Bordeaux on Friday night in time to meet my friend Helen, who studied abroad with me and is currently teaching outside of Toulouse. We rented a room in an "appart'hotel" which is basically a hotel room, but with a kitchenette for people who stay for long periods of time. It was in a perfect location, a small (much-needed) walk from the city center, and it was nice to have a fridge etc, to avoid eating at restaurants every meal.

Saturday morning we moseyed through the city center which is completely dominated by pedestrian only streets making it easy to take our time and people watch. We grabbed a quick coffee and croissant before heading down towards the river Garonne. 

cute bookstore we passed along the way.

helen and caely.

perfect way to start a cold morning.
We came across Esplande Quinconces which is a huge open space that is currently being occupied by a carnival. As you can see the sky was blue, blue, blue - we totally lucked out.

We kept walking until we hit the boardwalk along the river. The river separates Bordeaux into two sides, which is very important (as we soon learned) when it comes to wine and which grapes are cultivated and grown on which side. Despite the cold in the morning, the sun came through and it was an absolutely beautiful day. 

Along the boardwalk we found Bordeaux's mirior d'eau which is a very thin layer of water that allows you to see your reflection.

Bordeaux raises breast cancer awareness so creatively by hanging breast cancer ribbons in Place de la Bourse while fish spit out PINK water. Very clever.

We seriously walked all over the city stopping once to enjoy some foie gras tartines and smoked salmon salads at L'Autre Petit Bois, a restaurant we found in this NYTimes article.  Helen and I sat "shaded" under a fake tree covering the inside of the restaurant on a very regal feeling couch and the three of us shared our first, of many, red Bordeaux's.

dessert: banana and speculoos crumble. 
Following our meal, we continued to explore the city that all three of us fell in love with very quickly. We visited the Cathedral which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has been built over different decades providing a very diverse architecture both inside and out.

After a petite soirée Saturday night, we got up at a very reasonable hour to explore the Sunday market along the river. I had heard lots of good things so my expectations were a little high, but they were beyond fulfilled. The market went on forever, and everyone was out and about taking walks, riding bikes, and slowly making their way through the market drinking rosé and eating oysters. The man below is making canelés which are small pastries made of egg yolk - they are caramelized on the outside and have a solidified custard inside. When we went on a wine tour, our guide told us that canelé were originally invented because wine makers used the egg whites in the wine barrels to collect debris inside and they needed to use the leftover yolks so they created these small desserts. I'm not sure how accurate that is (as wikipedia suggests differently), but it makes sense!

In addition to canelé, we bought bread, cheese, wine, figs and sausage to complete our riverside picnic brunch.
cheese. beautiful, beautiful cheese.

more cheese.

Eating was followed by more strolling through Bordeaux on another amazing day. After ditching some goodies at the hotel, we took a break in the Jardin Public which reminded me a lot of the Boston Common, and sat in the sun for the rest of the afternoon. On our walk back we discovered a brocante, or an antique market on a blocked-off street that was also celebrating vin nouveau, which is a wine they sell before its complete fermentation. The wine has a little bit of carbonation, is best cold, and tastes a tiny bit like sangria. We walked up and down the street poking at what people were selling and listening to street music while tasting vin nouveau. I have a great video I will try and find to upload ...

sunset on the boardwalk.
We passed through the Esplande again and couldn't not go on the ferris wheel ...

Monday was rainy and ... Monday, so not a lot was open and due to the weather we were feeling particularly lazy. We had a late breakfast, walked around, did some shopping and watched a movie before venturing out again for dinner.
real cool alligator sculpture in front of musée de beaux arts.
L'Entrecote. Yum. So this place is apparently a Bordeaux institution and they have one in Lyon and Toulouse as well. Vegetarians beware. They have one item on the menu: steak. The line is enormous and people wait forever just to enjoy steak, salad, and unlimited fries and bread (do you blame them?). We waited in line, in the rain, and we were not disappointed. I'm not kidding when I say one thing on the menu, when we sat down we were asked two questions: "What would you like to drink?" and "How would you like it cooked?". The steak was cooked perfectly and it was so entertaining to watch the hustle and bustle of the waitresses attempting to serve three floors of customers.

it's famous because it is served in an amazing
sauce that is a top secret recipe.

walking home in the rain - in front of the opera.

Tuesday we woke up very early and went on a guided tour of La Winery, which was a relatively new vineyard filled with contemporary art. It rained, again, but there were only six of us so we piled into a landrover and off-roaded in order to get the full experience.


huge vats pumping red, rosé and white wine into barrels.

caely taking a closer look.
Our guide made a point to tell us that each barrel comes from a different place and provides a different taste to the wine, so they purposefully put wine in different barrels to later combine them and come up with a completely unique taste.

we found a little friend.

The tour was finished with lunch, and lunch with a wine tasting. The lunch was amazing, and beautifully presented. Caely and I had fish while Helen had the pork. The concept of the place is they have a huge wine store where you buy the wine and can drink it at lunch without a corkage fee - clever no?
wine tasting.

three very happy girls.


attempting to capture how amazing every bite was.

When all was said and done we had an amazing time. Despite some rain, Bordeaux is a beautiful city and is moving all the time. People were nothing but nice and as per usual, we ate so. well. I would love to go back and spend more time in the surrounding area, not to mention take a small trip to the sea. Bordeaux, je t'aime. I will leave you with some more pictures ... (thank you Caely!)