Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Alright, I don't know if I would say that I'm an insider but today as I was going from patisserie to patisserie buying millefeuille I had a revelation. Paris is incredible. That may not be news to most people but it was to me. This is why.

Paris may have tons of "must-see" sights from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, to Notre Dame, but when it comes to secret and hidden finds the truth is they exist on almost every street in almost every neighborhood. So really the question of "what is there to do in Paris?" doesn't even need to be asked. What I like to do, and my suggestion for everyone else visiting this splendid city, is to pick one place you want to check out, a patisserie, a cafe, brasserie, restaurant, museum, what have you, have your eclair, coffee, grenouille, boeuf bourguignon, see the Mona Lisa, but then, instead of whisking off to some other sight, take time and explore the streets around this destination. You'll be surprised at what you might find.

Paris is littered with small antique shops containing beautiful relics from the cities past. It's splattered with tiny clothing stores of unique and different fabrics and designs. It's really when you get off the beaten path, look up from your "Guide to Paris" and open your eyes to the reality of the city that you actually can enjoy it for what it is. Firstly, it's much more of a vacation to amble about aimlessly then rush from point A to point B in a frenzy. The Eiffel Tower isn't going anywhere, you can stop and smell the fleur de lis. And really you'll find some very interesting things that most likely aren't in any books. One of my favorite shops thus far is a small kitchen store near Musee d'Orsay called La Maison Ivre. Just kitty corner to a Laduree, it's filled with handmade, hand painted dishes, beautiful tea cloths and aprons, and fun little knick knacks that have no business hanging out in a kitchen store.

Today, as I was unknowingly walking in the wrong direction, I couldn't help but stop and look into store after store. Antique stores with beautiful and charming jewelry glistening in the window, stores with home goods that were so unique and enchanting that I knew stepping one foot inside would mean financial disaster, all small and personal and sweet. I imagine I could live here for three more years and still be bewitched by the hidden treasures of the city.

So if you're planning a trip to Paris give yourself a break. Pick a few important stops that you would feel terrible for missing but from there just take your time, walk around, and see what the city has to show you. You won't regret it, I can assure you. One small caution, though, is to make sure you choose wisely where you eat. Places high in tourists tend to be obscenely expensive and horribly disgusting. Get off the beaten path, look at some menus, and see where the locals are eating. And eating is the key word. Many cafes and brasseries are frequented for their convenience as a stop for a quick cafe or glass of wine. When there isn't food on anyone's table and it's a normal eating hour, its usually not a sign of great culinary genius. Other than that, be free!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I picked this cheese from the display because it looked particularly stinky and was oozing with delight, literally. When I asked the man behind the counter what it was called he said, "Vacherin" in a thick French accent. "Pardon?" I asked, "Vacherin? C'est correct." "Oui!" he replied, "Vacherin, comme le gateau." I was confused because the only time I ever heard this name was in pastry school when we were doing ice cream. As we learned, Vacherin (pronounced "Va-sure-uhn") is a type of ice cream cake consisting of layers of crispy meringue and ice cream then "frosted" with whipped cream and finished with more baked meringe. Delicious, of course, but a cheese?

This was made by one of my chefs, Chef Baccon, who added an almond crumble 
in the center and decorated it with whipped cream polar bears. 

The cheese did stink to high heaven. Like sweaty socks that had been left on a wet dog long enough to grow spores, it's scent permeated the room as soon as I took it out of it's plastic wrapping. It was surrounded by some brown material that looked at first to be beef jerky but what I later could only guess was a wooden wrapping that had gone rotten. I peeled it off with excitement.

The inside was as soft as melted brie and slide out onto the cutting board as it waited for me to prepare my chunk of bread which I tore off impatiently, eager to cut into this beauty of a dairy product. When people say something is smooth as butter what they really mean is smooth as Vacherin, because it spread with a delicate ease not fitting of its pungent odor.

This was a cheese to remember. It had a similar taste to brie but much, much stronger. There was a nice nutty base to it that lingered on my tongue and as I chewed on the bread and cheese I noticed other more complex flavors coming forward. A nice fermented flavor, like white wine, mingled with a sourness similar to what you might get from a vinegar. And the texture was divine! Why melt cheese when you can buy it already this soft?! And it taste's so good! However, it is apparently quite popular to use it as a fondue after it is baked inside it's wooden box. Something I look forward to trying myself.

Not for the mild tongued, Vacherin is definitely a strongly flavored cheese. I think it would be great paired with fresh figs or dried dates, something nice, chewy and sweet to compliment the nutty sour softness of the cheese. And remember, if you buy this cheese you should eat it all at once, other wise you'll asking yourself every day when you open the fridge, "What the hell died in here?"

*This is a very interesting link that goes into more detail about the history and making of Vacherin. I believe I had the raw cheese, French variety that had been aged for a shorter period due to it's softness.

Monday, November 28, 2011


My jet lag has finally passed and I am ready to begin my missions! Quite exciting. My sister gave me the genius idea of having a "cheese of the week" and so Tuesday's will now be "Cheese Tuesdays." Frankly, I feel that all people should adopt this into their weekly schedule because while cheese may not always be the easiest on the digestive tract or waste line it's just so darn good! There's a reason why we Americans love melting it on top of practically everything and why the French have hundreds of national cheeses. It's just, well, delicious.

So this week my mission was actually given to me by Elze. Apparently she was able to sneak some millefeuille home from her work and so today I'm going over there for a taste and will then spend the rest of my week exploring this beautiful city, eating layer upon layer of flaky, vanilla cream goodness! Come check out my Friday posting to see what I have to say about this delicious dessert and who makes the best version of it.

The last few days here have been a bit gloomy but I've always loved a good overcast day and it not only made me feel better about sleeping in til sunset, but it also makes me realize that come this Thursday, it'll be December. Christmas is almost upon us and while I am not feeling as festive as usual, I am planning on doing some christmas tree shopping in hopes of jumpstarting my christmas spirit. I also have officially begun listening to christmas music (I unofficially started in October) and cannot wait for my mom and cousins to arrive and spend the holiday with me.

Paris is supposed to be a beautiful place to spend the holidays and I am looking forward to going to the christmas market, looking at all the shop windows on the Champs and especially going to the Festival of Lights in Lyon. The girls and I are planning on taking a train for a day to the beautiful city for the Festival and from all the pictures I've seen I know it will be spectacular!

I'm certainly excited for the upcoming weeks! I hope all of you are as well. I know that Christmas is already in full swing in the states and I hope that you aren't all already sick of the stores' christmas music. While I may never get sick of it I understand that other people's love and tolerance for the same songs over and over again by different artists may be a little thin. Just remember, the best way to spread christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Usually I don't have that much of a problem with adjusting after flying but for some reason these last two days have been kicking my ass. Normally I arrive at nighttime and being thoroughly exhausted from a long, uncomfortable, disgusting flight makes it easy as pie to pass out at an appropriate hour. But since I walked through my Paris apartment door at ten am it threw me off a bit. After eating I slept, and slept, and slept, until my roommate woke me up at four pm. Since winter is creeping in that meant I only had about a half an hour left of sunlight. I took full advantage and stayed in bed and messed around on the internet for a bit.

Elze invited me over to her quaint apartment for dinner and I was more than happy to oblige. We sat on the floor and ate picnic style and it was wonderful to catch up with her about my trip and hear about how wonderful her internship is going. I can't help but be a bit jealous of her but life just isn't always fair.

Because we talked until two in the morning I had to sleep on her trundle since the metro stops running at 1:15 am. I had no problems falling asleep but when four o'clock rolled around I practically sprung out of bed, bright eyed, bushy tailed, and ready to start the day! WTF? Luckily I only had to lay in bed and fail to fall back asleep for an hour because at five Elze had to wake up at go to work. I took the metro home, walked into my apartment, and went back to messing around on the internet until about nine thirty in the morning. Then I went back to bed and woke up, eight hours later, when the sun was setting and my roommate was making dinner. I'm just hoping that a long relaxing bath will help lull me back to a state of sleepiness so that I can fall asleep before five am this following morning. 

How am I supposed to carpe diem and eat when I'm asleep during the peak diem carpe-ing and eating hours of Paris? Hopefully it'll only be a day or two more before I'm back on track and then let MISSION: PARIS commence! So take your party pants out of the closet and get them pressed in preparation for the next four months. 

Friday, November 25, 2011


Poor little me. I have to return to Paris of all places and explore! What do people think I am? Am I not human? Do I not breathe, sleep, bleed? How dare this happen to me! 

Honestly though, why does it sort of feel that way? Two weeks in Denver and I'm ready to pack up all my adventures and return to a life I found boring less than a year ago. I think there is a saying about grass and sides that applies to this…

It doesn't help that my boyfriend and I had an absolutely phenomenal time together. I don't know if you picked up on my oh-so-subtle hints at the precarious stage of our relationship but when I left things weren't exactly bells and kisses. The truth was that I had crushed his heart because I wasn't happy with our four years of love and respect and needed to go somewhere else, preferably France, where I would get neither of those things. 

Somewhere along my journey I was slapped in the face and realized that not only did I need him I wanted him. Funny how that happens. So after months and months of long distance emails and chats I was primed and ready to seize the opportunity to surprise him for his bday. And as I said, it went swimmingly. 

In fact, it went better than swimmingly. We were absolutely giddy to be around each other. Sure we hadn't seen each other for months and so all of the day to day bullshit that drives you crazy about someone wasn't there. But even more than that our relationship had changed. With all the time we shared apart we had taken the opportunity to be honest with each other and shockingly that was a good thing! For a communication major it took me a while to figure out how important open communication is for a relationship. Especially if you want it to last. So how can you expect me to be thrilled to leave my love when I've just unlocked the key to a happy relationship? But, alas, eating pastries is a dirty job and someone has to do it. If that task falls on me, I guess I have no other choice but to shoulder the responsibility. 

Really though, everyone needs adventure. And I keep telling myself that. Plus how can anyone pity me? Poor me, I have to go eat pastries in Paris with my only job being not to get so fat I have to buy a second seat on the plane back home for my final return. So while I may be missing home I'm going to remind myself that, one day, I will miss it here, too. So carpe diem! Let's go eat! 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Like the fool that I am I did not account for the glorious festivities of Thanksgiving when I planned my trip home and thus returned to Paris early this morn! But, not to fret,  my foreign friends are all drooling for a traditional American Thanksgiving feast and I plan to give it to them (this weekend though, jetlag doesn't go well in the kitchen and for all they know Thanksgiving is always celebrated on Saturdays).

Let the eatin' commence! And don't forget to save room for dessert. I highly recommend a mid-meal power nap to help make room for, not one, but two pieces of pie.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Hey All!

I just got back from a long weekend travelling to some beautiful cities. Six of us decided to pack into yet another tiny car (though this one at least was made for five, and being designated driver means that I get to be somewhat comfortable, though exhausted). We decided to go to Nice for the bulk of the trip though we stopped off in Aix for a night and a day to see the glorious little town. And of course, we all fell in love. Though it rained horribly the majority of the day and was gloomy if not raining the entire stay there, we adored it none the less, which shows just how magical it really is. We stayed in a cheap hotel which was funky to say the least, but was central. It had no elevator of course and Elze and I, who had the biggest heaviest bags, were on the top floor. So after grunting and dragging and stomping our way up the tiny spiral of old stairs we managed to make it to the top. Assured that we had awoken everyone we changed our clothes from the trip and went out for a beer or two, steered only by the noise of raucous enjoyment. A clever frenchman spotted the six of us, alone and weakened from exhaustion and decided to engage us in conversation. He asked us where we were from and we all smiled. Any time anyone asks us this it is quite entertaining, for they never expect us to be from all over the world! So we went around in a circle spouting out where we are from. America. South Africa. Singapore. Indonesia. Guatemala. Brazil. And, just like everyone else, he was surprised. But he had traveled all over and spoke a little spanish and we were entertained with him for an hour or so until we decided to retire for the evening. 

The next morning we awoke to rain beating down on our window and were saddened that we wouldn't have a beautiful sunny day to explore Aix. But we decided to brave the storm and make good use of our umbrellas, of which we only had three. So we each found a partner and walked, arm in arm, down some tiny streets until we made our way to the Cours Mirabeau, which is a beautiful wide stone street that makes its way to the central fountain and round about. All of the shops were so charming and we stopped for a cafe and some souvenir shopping. We also bought a gigantic jar of Griottines, which are sour cherrys soaked in Cognac, for our future plans of sun bathing in Nice. Once we were along the Cours Mirabeau we decided it was time for lunch and split up into two groups. Those who didn't mind spending some good money for some good food (I of course was in the crowd) and those who did. The three of us who were looking forward to a Menu, made our ways through an old building into an open courtyard to the Cote Cours, a restaurant recommended to me by Helen's friend who live in Aix. And it certainly was wonderful! We sat under the safety of their outdoor "tent" which obviously could be opened if the weather had permitted it. I ordered the menu and had Eel for my starter, peanut chicken for my main course, and bananas and rum for my dessert. It was delicious with the Eel by far at the front of the crowd as the star of the meal. I cannot remember what Christy ordered for her appetizer, but it came with a tin of caviar which was absolutely spectacular and I had to exhibit some severe self control in order not to finish it and lick the empty tin. The owner and head Chef made his way around to each table and we were happy to speak with him. Not only was our meal lovely but the chef wasn't too bad himself. We managed to control our drooling long enough to let him know that we were pastry students and would potentially be interested in doing an internship somewhere in Aix and would he possibly know of somewhere to recommend. He offered that we could do our internship there, with him, in his restaurant, and we were more than pleased to shake his hand and take a card from him. He also informed us that he would be appearing on "Top Chef France," and we all expect that he will do well not only because he is talented as a chef, but also because lady viewers will be easily charmed by his appealing smile and pleasant attitude (something that is somewhat of a scarcity in France, especially when it comes to customer service). 

After our meal, we continued shopping for a short while before making our way to Nice. The drive was entertaining, as always, since having five back seat drivers, three of which do not have drivers licenses, can be "interesting." We, of course, managed to get lost, and drove around in circles looking for our hostel. We asked an old french couple which way to go and they pointed us back the direction we had been, to which Elze replied, "I told you so!" and which she repeated throughout the navigational experience. After passing the same five streets a million times looking for OUR street, we finally managed to find where we needed to be. For reasons unknown to me (I was not there when the arrangements were made) we were staying in a hostel. Apparently it was cheaper, though it ended up not being so, and would force us to be more social. As we should have expected, the man at the front desk was extremely rude. We had reserved a room for just the six of us online, but were placed in a room with a seventh unknown person, and when we mentioned it he told us that it was not his fault and that that was just how it goes when you reserve through the website. We should know better than to think that anyone in france is ever responsible for anything. When we told the woman at the fron that the bathroom was out of toilet paper she informed us that there were two other toilets down the hall as if that somehow fixed the problem. As is standard in any hostel situation, we made our own beds, and I was surprised to find that one of the previous tenants had left a bit of themselves behind in the form of a petrified booger adhered to the mattress. At this point things were becoming comical and so it didn't exactly put a damper on the stay, though Elze and I certainly vowed never to stay in a hostel again. 

We went out for a light snack (since we all had gorged ourselves at lunch) and went for a drink along a road filled with bars in Old Nice. Though or waiter was Irish he had obviously been in France for too long for the bad service had infected him. We drank our fair share of passion fruit mojitos and met two guys from Norway who bought us some drinks and who came with us to another bar when the pub we were at closed at the early hour of two am. The bar, The Blue Whales, was impossible to find and we wound our way from cobbled street to cobbled street until I asked a slobbering drunk fellow from Iceland if he knew where the Blue Whales was. He did, in fact, know where said bar was and even offered to escort us there. This turned out to be quite the treat, since there was a live band and our Icelandic friend was quite the music connoisseur. We all were entranced as we watched him, sweating and swaying, sitting on his chair, his eyes closed and his head either tilted slightly back or slightly forward, playing one air instrument to the next, with such fervor and such passion that we ourselves were taken away with excitement and became quite involved in the music ourselves. This continued until the bar closed and by the end of the night he had gone from drums to base to guitar and back again, making sure to spill an ample amount of beer on anyone around him. 

We finished the night at about 5 am and made our way back to our hostel but managed to make a quick stop at a bakery that while not open was just beginning its day. We harassed the poor baker boy until the first batch of bed was out of the oven and he gave us two just to make us go away. We devoured them as quickly as a pack of sharks does a wounded seal and then passed out in our designated bunk beds. The next morning we awoke to the maid storming about our room at 11am. She angrily confiscated our trash bag and disappeared. None of us stirred but a good ten minutes later another woman entered the room and began scolding us in french. Again, we made no noise except for Christy who hoarsely squawked to her, "five minutes," before the woman turn on the light (which certainly felt forceful since it blinded me) and slammed the door. We all began to giggle though we were all, also, quite pissed and insulted. The truth was that we were expected to be out of our rooms from 11am to 3am so that they could do some cleaning. Apparently it took them four hours not to scrape other peoples phlegm from the mattresses and what not, and our presence in our own rooms was not only unwanted but also strictly forbidden. We bitched as we brushed, showered, and dressed, putting on our bikinis for a relaxing day at the beach. We simply could not believe that they would actually throw us out of our rooms! Though, at this point, it serves us right for being surprised by anything from the french who are unfortunate to work in customer service. You would think they were flogged on a regular basis. Perhaps they should be...

The beach was lovely, though it was not your traditional sand beach. It was made up of large stones and we all had to arrange our towels and bodies, moving this stone or that stone, to make a comfortable "nest" for us to lounge on. We ate our Griottine, turned from side to side, and dipped in the beautiful mediterranean, which was a magnificent aqua. It was somewhat difficult getting in and out of the water, since the tide was strong and threw rocks at your ankles and feet if you were close to shore. But we toughed it out and enjoyed a light swim between tanning sessions, cooling off sufficiently and getting a nice dosage of salt water in our hair and eyes. 

We returned to the hostel after getting side-tracked by some stores (I had no choice but to adopt two pairs of beautiful shoes that I simply could not leave behind), showered and went out for some fresh seafood. We went back to Old Nice and had a few drinks at a bar with a live band, whose lead singer was a woman and a rockstar at that, but we turned in early since we were all exhausted from a long hard day of tanning. We stopped for some incredible ice cream, I had salted caramel and honey pine nut, and ate as we walked back to our beds. 

The next day we made sure to be out of our room by eleven and decided to take a day trip to Monaco. We drove along the Moyenne Corniche which goes along the coast and is famous as the site of Grace Kelly's untimely death. In spite of such a morbid history the drive was breathtakingly beautiful. The Moyenne Corniche makes its was through a handful of charming little towns made up of gorgeous stone villas, twisting and turning between cliffs going up to the sun and cliffs going down to the sea. It was only a short trip to Monaco and we walked around, stopping at the Casino and Hotel De Paris (where we were asked to leave since we were not guests). We walked along the beach and went to lunch at a beachside cafe where we saw some beautiful men and were happy with service that was not french. After lunch we went to Old Monaco and walked through the royal garden to the palace. We were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guards and were even happier to see one guard come and give the guard on duty a pair of sunglasses to wear. It was quite unexpected. We also were lucky enough to see a bride enter the chapel for her wedding! It was beautiful and oh so romantic and we all imagined, as girls often do, about finding a beautiful rich man in Monaco to marry and live with in a beautiful estate overlooking the water. He would, of course, drive something juicy as all people seem to do in Monaco. We even saw a Porsche Spyder exactly like the one James Dean had parked outside of the Monte Carlo Casino. 

On our way back to Nice we stopped in the tiny town of Eze. It was all stone and had miniature streets that wound about in a dizzying fashion. We got lost almost immediately, but did not mind and choose willy nilly weather to go left or right or up or down and mostly tried to follow the sun and the sound of the ocean. We stopped at a beautiful and expensive hotel and decided to go in just for one drink. These ended up being 20 euros and we sipped them as slowly as we could so that we could savor the moment on the beautiful hillside patio over looking the mountains and ocean. Unluckily we became trapped as a violent lightening storm forced us inside and the tempest kept us there. It hailed as hard as it could and we continued to suck on our melted ice since none of us could afford another drink but none of us wanted to leave and make our way back to the car in the storm either. Luckily the storm left as quickly as it came and we were able to strike up a conversation with our barman who informed us that they were looking for people to stage there (which means to work for free) and he gave us his card. We walked back, which took a bit longer than walking in since we had to turn around and change directions after reaching a dead end, and stopped for dinner at a less expensive but tasty little local spot. 

I was happy that the storm was over as I drove the winding road back to Nice and we were all quite exhausted and quickly went to bed knowing we would have to get up early and make our way back home. It was so sad to leave though the storm had returned as was sending us home. Of course there was traffic the entire drive back and we were forced to stop at a McDonalds since it was that or add another hour to our trip. I almost cried. First off, I was eating McDonalds in France. Second, all of my travel mates were excited to be doing so. Third, there was an extreme line and the entire place was packed! Fourth, the fries were better than any I'd had anywhere else in France. Vowing never to sink so low again while in Europe we continued our trek home and made it back in nine hours when it should've taken only six. And now we all have to go to bed early since we are making an early trip out of town to get our medical exams for our Visas. At least this time I won't be driving and will be able to sleep in the back!

Love you guys! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


One of my favorite people in my life is my cat, Olive. It may seem that I am obviously coming from a place of bias but really, truly, honestly, Olive is one of the best cats of all time. It's wonderful to be back home and get to bask in her glory for two weeks.

Olive looking like her regal self. 

I got Olive my sophomore year of college. My mother was less than thrilled. "What will you do with her at Thanksgiving?" she asked. I hadn't exactly thought that far ahead. But having a kitten around was so much fun! I'd figure it out eventually. Olive was a 6 week old nugget of spunk. She didn't exactly start out the best cat in the world, she in fact was a bit of a weirdo. But I think that being exposed to a plethora of college kids, having to hang out with my roommate (who had never owned a cat before and would hold Olive like a blind person might hold an epileptic goose), being around a few parties, and having to wear a cone at a young and impressionable age.

It may sound horrible but when I really fell in LOVE with Olive was the second year I had her. My roommate and I had moved to a sweet little house in the neighborhood where all the college kids lived. This was the first time she was allowed out of the house to explore and she certainly got into some trouble. She would get "stuck" up trees all the time. She started killing small animals (baby birds are her favorite). And her new favorite trick was rolling in dirt and leaves and then sleeping on the bath mat. Nothing like stepping out of the shower and onto the forest floor.

My first memory of Olive's awesomeness was one night when I was trying to sleep. Like a typical cat with no regard for my comfort of need to breathe, she kept laying right in front of my face and suffocating me with her fur. Not to mention the deep purring sound that rattled in my ears and made it impossible to sleep. Because I have the patience of an angered elephant, I picked her up and gently tossed her at the foot of the bed. She's a cat for heavens sake, she didn't need to get whatever she wanted. Apparently she disagreed because she instantly walked back up the bed and lay down next to my face. This went back and forth a few times until she finally lay down next to me, stuck her paw out, and gently put it on my cheek. It was as if she was saying, "Listen, I just want to snuggle." And my heart melted a little bit.

One the other side, Olive could be quite the badass. I emerged from classes one day and as I walked home from campus I listened to a string of messages all from some strange girl. Apparently Olive had been stuck in the tree outside their house and cried all night long. In the morning they "rescued" her and brought her into their house. They then called me but since I was in class I didn't get back to them soon enough. Because this girl and her roommates were obviously unintelligent they then called and informed me that they would be taking her to the pound and I could pick her up from there. At this point in listening I began to cuss and ramble because it would cost me money to get her and they hadn't even waited three hours to hear back from me. But then came the final message and I couldn't help but give Olive a mental high five. It went something like this:

"Hi, so as we were getting in the car with your cat she freaked out and scratched my friend in the face, jumped out of her arms, and ran away. So we don't know where she is. Sorry."

Just as I finished listening to this hilarious account of Olive's courage I came up to my house and what did I see? Olive sitting in front of the door looking at me as if nothing at all excited had happened. "Good kitty," I told her.

From then on I constantly got calls of people who had "found" Olive. From most of their accounts she had wandered into their house and they didn't know if she was an outdoor cat or not because she was so friendly. They would then hold her hostage and call me to which I would ask, "where do you live?" It was usually only a block or so away and to this I would reply, "just let her out, she'll come home." I eventually got her a new tag that claimed her as an "Outdoor Kitty" because it was becoming a problem.

Olive still went into random people's houses. She had more friends that I did. You see, Olive would often follow me around. She would walk to school with me until about two blocks away from campus. Then she would stop and watch me walk away and I would find her back at the house by the time I got out of class. One time I went to a bar only a few blocks away from my house when I received a call from an unknown number. Out of curiosity I picked it up and it turned out to be the local police. They had found my cat in the bar parking lot. I went outside to find Olive terrified in the back of a cop car. I laughed and peeled her from the seat.

Perhaps the most notable act of loyalty that Olive ever showed was on a night when I was working. I used to work at a late night cookie delivery place and would start my shift at 7:00 pm and end it at around 2:00 am. I walked to work from my house and decided midway through my shift that I would just walk from work to my boyfriend's house when I was done. I would often leave a window open in my house so that Olive could come and go as she pleased. After finishing my shift I walked to Grant's house and like college kids we stayed up until about 4 in the morning eating delivery and watching tv. But about thirty minutes after I arrived at Grant's house we heard a faint scratching at the door and a soft mew. And who could it be but Olive? How she knew I was there is still a mystery but she let herself in, tail in the air, nonchalant as if she hadn't just done something totally awesome. Besides, she always loved Grant.

Olive is a bit older now, seven, and since I don't live in a college neighborhood anymore she rarely has an open door to walk into. Yet she still manages to be the world's greatest cat. She lets me hold her any which way I please (for which I thank my college roommate because that's exactly what she did and Olive had to learn to live with it). She is cool as a cucumber when I cut her nails. She pulls my hand out from under the blankets with her paw in the morning if she wants me to pet her. She gets out of the kitchen when I say, "Olive, out of the kitchen!" She looks both ways before crossing the street. And she lets our dog assault her face with her tongue with just a look of disgust in her eyes.

Cats are awesome. Well not all cats are awesome. Some are actually kind of assholes. But cool cats just make all the rest of those felines look like jokers. And Olive is as cool as they come. May all of us be blessed with Olive's for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Okay, so if you are looking for a fabulous eatery in Paris this is not where you want to be. But being in Denver, Colorado didn't seem reason enough not to review the food. I may be a snob but I'm not blind. And today was one of the better meals I've had in a while.

The Cherry Cricket is located in the Cherry Creek neighborhood of Denver. It is known for it's delicious burgers and I must say that it stands up to its reputation. I've always loved this welcoming American burger joint and it is on my "to-do list" of things I want to accomplish while in Denver. So when the opportunity presented itself I jumped at the chance, prepared to take notes.

Set back behind me I entered the establishment bubbling with excitement. We were lucky enough to be going at an odd hour and therefore missed the long line expected at peak dining times. Not exactly charming, the restaurant is quite dark. It's composed of numerous rooms attached by walkways and halls. It seems like a place where it would be easy to get lost. But while the atmosphere may not be in-your-face enchanting, there is always an overall feel of pleasantness because the patrons enjoying their food is infectious. Perhaps one of my favorite things about the Cherry Cricket is their "add anything" list for their burgers. Not only do they have a multitude of toppings offered on the menu they also mention that if they have it in the kitchen, they'll put it on a burger.

I went for a winning combination. I ordered the Cricket (a half-pound patty on a soft sesame bun, with lettuce, tomato and onion) and piled on avocado, grilled bermuda onions, and an egg over easy. I then added on dijon mustard, mayo, and ketchup, and spread the avocado onto the bun to prevent it from sliding out upon biting. I cut the burger in half to expose the yolk which oozed out, mixing with the other condiments and creating a delicious and juicy combination. Though the bun was imbibed with this tantalizing sauce it still held together which I always appreciate since I'm American and eat my burgers with my hands (I do not respect you if you do otherwise). The onions were sweet and soft, the tomato was thick, red and juicy, the meat was pink perfection. It could possibly be one of the best burgers I've ever had.

My Cherry Cricket cricket burger creation. 

Not to be outdone, the Frings (an order of half fries, half onion rings, enough for two or three) were hot, crispy, and superb. The fries had that mysterious flaky crunchy layer on the outside that I love. It's as if they're battered in a spice mix which gives them a crispy skin and great flavor and makes them some of my favorite fries. The onion rings are also sublime and I refuse to order onion rings and not also order a side of ranch dressing. Frankly I think a side of ranch should come standard with all onion rings. An onion ring dipped in ketchup is just a monstrosity. But in ranch, it's absolute heaven. And these were some celestial rings.

I left full and happy and still had half of my burger to either feed to my boyfriend later or indulge in myself. I had just engaged in a decadent and fulfilling meal. For two 1/2 lb cricket burgers, a basket of frings and two craft beers we were only asked to sacrifice thirty two bucks. A local favorite, a good burger, a must do when visiting Denver, the Cherry Cricket never disappoints.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Oh wonderful Colorado. Great views. Great weather. Great beer. It's nice to be home, there is no doubt about that. But while there are so many wonderful things about Colorado one of them is not food. Well, let me rephrase that, one of them is not fancy food. Delicious burgers, pizza, subs, and finger foods abound this Rocky Mountain state. But whenever I was going to go out for a nice meal, there were really only a few places that I felt were worthy of my money. And now that I'm back from Paris, I think I'm even more of a self-righteous snob. Did I catch something?

The truth is that once you live in a city where great food is plentiful it's hard not to feel a bit spoiled. France takes their food extremely seriously. They have multiple food laws that American's would scoff at. One of which being that not all bakeries in one town can be closed on the same day. At least one unit must remain open so that the Frenchies can get their daily baguette. That's how important fresh bread is to them.

And when three different pastry shops on the same street have a regular line out the door, you know you are in a land where sweets are respected, not just used and abused. Last night I ate a good ol' fashion cake from a "French" bakery in Denver and let me just say, I think I've been ruined! This was a pretty good cake to tell you the truth, but it just didn't excite me the way that French pastries do. Sure I may eat a slice for breakfast, this cake was fluffy, the frosting was delicious, but there was something about it that just didn't bowl me over. French pastries have a cleanness to them and often subtle complexities that make you feel special just for eating them. How is yellow cake with chocolate frosting ever going to be able to stand up to an entremet of dark chocolate biscuit, praline, hazelnut mousse, chocolate mousse, chocolate glacage, and a sheet of Valrhona chocolate to top it off?

Something I hope to bring to the world when I finally open my undeniably enchanting shop, is a harmonious mixture between French and American pastries. I want to bring to the table what they both have to offer. Traditional American flavors done in the style of a French pastry. There's a reason I chose to go to France for my internship and it's not the healthcare. They make damn good desserts, and they've been doing it for years upon years upon years. For goodness sake, Vatel invented whipped cream! Whipped Cream! Do you know how big that is? It's essentially the wheel of the pastry world. That's huge!

Don't get me wrong, I love American desserts. What's better than a slice of hot apple pie with vanilla bean ice cream on top? Or how about a nice plate of brownies with a cold glass of milk? That's the thing I love about American pastry. The truly good ones stand completely on their own two humble feet. There's nothing particularly fancy about apple pie. And brownies don't exude any flare or pizazz. But they are so delicious, so comfortable, that they are two of my favorite things in the world. So perhaps instead of becoming a snobby French ass, or remaining a judgmental American, I'll try instead to see the beauty in both worlds. Bring some sort of harmony to this dichotomy. Not only do I think it will be exceptionally fun, but I also think it'll be delicious to boot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Hello all! I am taking today and tomorrow off to enjoy my visit! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend and find some way to manage without my witty banter.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Well as I'm sure you can guess my surprise was a huge hit! Who wouldn't love for me to show up unannounced on their doorstep? Ingeniously planned, my boyfriend was home waiting for our friend, Seth, to show up (who of course was only a patsy) and instead was surprised by a knock at the door. I put the box of Pierre Macaron up to the peep hole to get the full "SURPRISE!" effect when he swung open his door. And boy was he surprised!

Flabbergasted I think would be the most appropriate word to describe his reaction. With a grin stretching so wide across his face I thought he would break it he kept saying, "Oh my God!" His hands wouldn't stop trembling and for hours he kept staring at me as if he was convinced that I was a mirage and would soon disappear. It was quite surreal. It's been seven months since we'd seen each other. It's been seven months since I've been back in Denver. It's been seven months since I've seen my pets. All of it was a lot to handle. But it was marvelous!

Surprises rarely work out as smoothly as you plan. But frankly this couldn't have gone any better. Being so ecstatic to see me that he felt like passing out was something I was hoping would happen but I wasn't going to bank on. After saying our hellos and embracing for an hour I finally had to pry apart his arms and assure him that I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. I was going to be here for two weeks. And beside that, I needed a drink of water.

It was also so wonderful to see my pets! I've missed them so much and I was extremely concerned that they were going to forget about me. Ellie, or German Shepherd, most certainly remembered me. She was so excited that I was there and kept staring at me just as Grant was. Whenever I went into another room she would follow me in there to make sure I wasn't going to suddenly disappear and according to Grant she's been acting a lot more playful and giddy than normal. My cat, Olive, on the other hand, had a slightly different reaction.

Ellie and me rolling around on the floor together. 

For the first night she was obviously pissed at me. How could you leave me alone with this dog? She seemed to say with her beautiful green eyes. How could you abandon me, we've been friends for so long and you just do me like that?! So when I picked her up and tried to love her against her will, she wasn't having any of it. She twisted and contorted until she finally squeezed her way out of my arms. But the next morning I awoke and she was laying next to me on the bed nuzzling up to my hand. I really did miss you. Pet me please! ...oh, and when's breakfast?

Olive and I couch snuggling.

I've only been here for two days but it's been wonderful. Grant had the same reaction to the Pierre Herme macaron that I did and insisted that I should make those in my own shop. I love that my family and friends and people who love me think that I am so awesome that duplicating these perfect macarons would be easy for me. Don't they understand that it took years and years for Pierre Herme to perfect this recipe and that millions of people try and fail to do the same? This isn't just like making a perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies. This is like recreating the Mona Lisa. It ain't no easy undertaking. And while I'll try and hopefully do an admirable job, I doubt that I will reach that level of heaven.

I haven't had a chance to see too many other people yet but have big plans to do so. I cannot wait to hear all about their lives since I've left and how empty they've felt without me around, how they had this giant void that they just couldn't fill. And meanwhile I look forward to sharing my adventures in Paris and coming off like the badass that I am. Seriously though, people get so excited to hear about what I'm doing I often feel like I have to amp it up a little bit with fancy words and hand movements in order to satisfy them. I really don't feel like I've done anything too exciting. But as I've said before, so many people have this dream of living abroad that they have expectations of what it must me like. I know that I did. And who am I to burst their bubble? So I'll go through the theatrics. God knows I love to. And while I'm here I'm also going to make sure and get some good American food. Burgers, biscuits and gravy, pizza, sub sandwiches, all my favorites. Nothing fancy, just things that make me happy. Isn't that what every really wants anyway?