The Search for Vin Chaud

With the temperatures in NYC beginning to drop, I have begun craving vin chaud.  For you Americans, you would call this mulled wine.  In Europe it was something that I found at will, no matter where I was, but mostly at the many holiday markets during this time of the year.  So a few weekends ago, I traveled around Manhattan with my fellow Francophile friend, trying to find a nice cozy place to curl up with our hot wine. Unfortunately, we came up short on the drink but did find a great French restaurant, Sel et Gras, where we enjoyed some escargot and true French ambiance.

The following weekend, my craving still hankering, I had a sip of what has become the next best thing…Hot Toddys. How did I not know about these before? Oh, because I was enjoying my vin chaud in France.

And then, just when I had stopped searching for it, vin chaud landed on my lap –or better yet, in my mug.  This weekend I was introduced to homemade mulled wine. My friend made a simple, delicious recipe: apple cider heated on the stove with some red wine. We used a simple carton of apple cider and a bottle of Barefoot Cabernet Franc.  I suggest not getting a crazy expensive bottle because you’ll be heating it anyways and adding flavors.


On that note, computer must be turned off in preparation for this Hurricane to barrel on through. Be Safe!


Honey Almond Rhubarb Pie

Ever since living in France, I have found that I have an inner love affair with dessert.  I blame France because prior, I had never been a baker and didn’t grow up in a family that ate a lot of sweets.  That being said, my blog roll sure is baker/food/chocolate heavy and I am always ok with “taking a look at the dessert menu” when out to eat.  It’s no secret that France is known to have some amazing pâtisserie, so I blame the French for my love handles.

Dessert has even, more than once, become my whole meal at times.  These two pictures below were breakfast and lunch (not on the same day of course). THe first was a pancake (more like a cake, cake) with fruit and Nutella that should never be consumed alone.  The second was a delicious coffee stop at Dean & DeLuca which ultimately put me in a sugar comma that I had to run off later in the afternoon.

Most of the time, I find the crave for sweets is when I am bored and so rather than buy and indulge, I find less guilt from baking and then pigging out. A few months ago, when I was still living at home, I found a recipe on one of my favorite blogs and made a little Rhubarb pie.

Here is the original recipe, which I changed a tad to make into one large pie. I learned about Rhubarb (and many other atypical foods) while living in France.  I remember eating lovely homemade (not by me of course) rhubarb tartes with the family. Although not a simple tarte, it was a delicious pie and one that I might just make again for Thanksgiving this year.

Side note: I used frozen rhubarb that was already chopped up.  This didn’t seem to make a large difference but I do suggest waiting until they are completely defrosted so that the excess juices are gone. I was a bit impatient with this step (reason #1 that I am not a great baker) and ended up with a bit more soupy of a pie than intended. The soup overflowed onto the stove bottom too, so don’t forget to lay down some foil to catch any soupy overflow.  Note: This soupyness will subside after it cools.

Heart ache

So many times, I find myself stumbling (perhaps sometimes intentionally) upon French things.  Just 13 months spent living in that country but I have such an intense attachment to it none the less.  Most of the time these French encounters are as simple as passing a couple walking past me speaking French.  And sometimes, as I said, I seek these things out on my own.  These Frenchisms often come in the form of traveling to the Upper East side for an authentic café, spending $15 on French Vogue (yes, I did that), getting lost in a French movie or just listening to Edith Piaf.  Tonight it unexpectedly came by watching one of my favorite shows, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation.  The episode I came across was when Anthony went to Burgundy.  My old stomping grounds.  I will confess that I felt the need to cry while watching.  There was an intense ache in my heart as I watched him drive Le Route Des Grands Crus,  listened to him sing the typical Burgundy drinking songs, and of course see him eat the aliments and drink the wine of the region.  There was one part in particular which struck me.  Anthony went to a butcher shop in Auxerre and his “guide” described it as a common place to catch the town gossip.  He also mentioned how the butcher remembered what everyone ordered and would bill customers at the end of the week instead of at each visit.  This reminded me of the butcher shop I used to frequent in Nuits St George.  The woman who worked there was definitely the one who knew the town happenings (and a what she didn’t know she quickly found out) and she would often just mark down my order “for next time” if I didnt have money on me.  Why can’t everything here be traditional and relaxed like in France?

My heart is broken over France I believe.  And all I want to do is mend it with a bottle of Burgundy Pinot Noir…

Soon Central Park’s leaves won’t be so green…

What a whirlwind life has been since my return from vacation in France.  It took me longer than I expected to share my tales from that trip with you, but a lot has been happening here in NYC.  First and foremost, I was homeless. So that was a complicated situation if there ever was one.  I must explain this predicament of course.  You may remember way back when I was planning my little vacation to France that I was living life as a freelancer and that my apartment’s lease was coming up to the end and after a break-in and some management issue, we weren’t positive if another year was in the works for us.  True to my denial tendencies, I decided to ignore the apartment thing and just focus on ending one job (my first real NYC job which was really just a temp position and didn’t pay enough to live in the big city) and going on my trip to France.

When I got home, life’s problems were still looming.  Duh.  So with a new freelance career (I was writing and balancing multiple part-time PR/Marketing gigs) and about two weeks until move-out day, I frantically began looking for apartments with my friend.  I suggest to never look for apartments in NY when you are on a huge time crunch.  Long and extremely stressful story short: I learned a lot about realtors, lost some money and came away with no apartment to show for it.  During this time I hit a stress level that I didn’t know existed and was unable to be productive freelancer; I was completely frozen in stress.  Looking back on this it’s a shame I couldn’t balance it all because I loved being able to do multiple jobs, make my own schedule and be involved in projects I was passionate about, all of which were creatively free.  But it is what it is and I just couldnt get my act together freelancing AND searching for an apartment that I didn’t have a budget for anyway.  So I took a step back, asked a few friends and family for favors (like sleeping on their couches) and focused on finding a full-time job that paid enough to support life in the city while also allowing me to follow my passions.  My networking from the past 8 months paid off and without the stress of an apartment search, I was able to really make things happen quickly.  I ended up taking a job at a wine and spirits importer/distributor doing their social media marketing.  I’m still adjusting but so far so good.  With the job figured out, I began searching for an apartment again.  Lucky for me, a few friends linked together and all of a sudden I was signing a lease to live in an affordable place with lots of room and with girls very similar to myself.  Golden!

So I am currently enjoying my last evening as a nomad**.  I am so thankful for friends and family who have taken me in, given me advice, believed in me, listened to my woes and put up with my indecisive and sometimes stubborn ways.  A few weeks from now will mark my one year since moving back to America from France.  I cannot believe that!   So much has already happened and I havent been in NYC for a year.  I can now understand how this city makes people grow up at such an elevated pace.

**I wrote this last week.  I am currently moved into the new place in Hoboken.  I hope to find a nice balance between days working in NYC and nights relaxing in my new home.