Up in the air

Well this is most definitely a first. I’m currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean near Florida. seriously! My first experience with airplane wifi and its pretty genius.I’m escaping this cold (and way too snowy) NYC March and spending a week in the Bahamas. No plans except for sitting in a bathing suit in warmth of the sun. I can’t wait to explore a bit too with my camera and share woth you guys here.

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Wintery Beach Weekend

Just the other weekend my girlfriends and I went to the beach for a winter weekend. We simply sat around with some wine (of course) and food (we all love cooking and eating) and some board games (a beach tradition). We spent the weekend laughing, crying (it happens sometimes), and just enjoying being together. We all went to college together, that bizarre world where everyone is on relatively the same schedule and living in such close proximity. When you finally graduate and move away to begin new lives, careers, and relationships, it takes so much more of an effort to hang onto those special people. Our group of friends all¬†live scattered around the Northeast so it’s close, but not close enough sometimes. Lucky for us, we enjoy mass emails, FaceTime videos, and weekend trips.

For me it was not only refreshing to be with my friends, it was also amazingly relaxing to breath fresh air (hard to come by in the city) and not have the need to commute anywhere at all. The farthest I physically moved was a walk to the beach–and it’s a straight shot ūüôā It’s insane how tiring the daily grind can get.

The beach is one of my favorite places in the entire world so hearing the waves, smelling the salt air and standing in front of the immense ocean, even in chilly weather, was perfection. Here are some photos of our weekend.

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oh la la

It’s official, life is moving way too fast. How has it been 2 months (or more) since I have written here? Without further ado, here I am ūüôā

In my absence I have been exploring my new Hoboken home, I¬†have joined a gym for the first time in my life, I finally visited the Guggenheim¬†Museum, I made my way back to French school, I discovered a unique bar in Jersey, I made some awesome fashion purchases, I adopted a fabulous bike (which I carried from Brooklyn to Hoboken at midnight on a Friday…), I weathered another storm (this time snow-related) and I have been honing my wine tasting skills (officially). As you can see, so much to talk about and I promise to share it all.

For starters, the most recent thing I am doing is going to wine school–FINALLY! If you remember, this was the plan when I was leaving France and also when I returned to France this summer for a visit. I went so far as to fill out paperwork for the school in Beaune, but timing wasn’t right and I missed the deadline. So now, settled in NYC with a real job and apartment (remember when I was roughing it?!), I am finally able to get the ball rolling on this goal of expanding my wine knowledge. Working in the industry on a daily basis has been a growing experience thus far; I have had the privilege to taste some amazing one of a kind wines and learn a lot from my colleagues though raw on the job experiences. But I want to be deeply rooted in this business, so going to the International Wine Center in NYC seemed like a great opportunity. I plan to share some of what I learn here, on this blog, so get your glasses ready.

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Realities of Becoming French

From the beginning, this blog has been called “Becoming French.” I was living in France and falling in love with the country quickly, so of course I wanted to stay and that was transmitted in my blog’s title. Now, back in the states for a year, it seems I am still American and worse, living on American soil (albeit in the greatest and most international city I can think of, NYC).

I think I have it pretty good, but still I can’t help but continue to day dream about picking up and moving back over the Atlantic. ¬†Then I snap out of it and realize the annoying realities of such a feat. These realities which everyone knows and which are painfully explained here.

Some day my prince will come?! Or maybe I’ll be the risky writer ¬†(there have only been a million) who travels back and forth over country borders. ¬†Sighhh…

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 p√Ętisserie, 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.

Dijon and a Weekend Back on the Vineyard

On arriving to Dijon, and after trying to salvage a double-purchased train ticket, I headed straight to my favorite little Caf√© Dijonais: Bistro Quentin. ¬†When I lived in France, my friends and I always called it “le caf√© rouge” due to its red awning. ¬†This time around, the red awning was still there but the eclectic interior had changed a bit. ¬†None the less, my friend Suzanna and I felt right at home as we enjoyed our afternoon drinks on the terrace. ¬†After catching up with Suzanna, we took a stroll around centre ville. ¬†I love Dijon. It is a small city but has a lot to offer as far as shopping, museums and of course food and wine. ¬†It is in Burgundy after all ūüôā

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wanted to spend time with Suzanna but also knew that L√©tizia and the kids were in Dijon for the afternoon. ¬†I was so excited to see the kids, especially the twins because they had gotten so much bigger in the past year. ¬†We planned to meet on the street; I always feel silly when I do that because it’s so movie-like to watch someone come your way. ¬†After getting over the shock of the twins walking and talking, we spent the afternoon shopping and I took over my role of “big sister”/”au pair” tout de suite. ¬†L√©tizia and I both mentioned later how it had felt like no time had passed.

 

 

I spent that night clubbing with Suzanna and the next few days afterward were for relaxation and memory-making in my small village with my second family.

Nothing could stop me from going to France…not even stairs.

I left NYC and decided to take a new form of public transportation to Newark airport. ¬†I always seem to do this: hurdle a task at the worst moment. ¬†Taking the PATH to the NJ Transit train to the airport shuttle was the cheapest way but also the most exhausting. ¬†Two words: stairs and suitcase. ¬†I got to the subway with little to no issue. ¬†When I got to the PATH stop things began getting complicated. ¬†I walked in the wrong direction five times, each time included a batch of stairs and a new bruise on my leg. ¬†Only once did someone ask me for help and I clearly needed it (The day I left was the day that began the heat wave…I was a sweaty mess.) ¬†I couldn’t seem to find the PATH so I exited the station completely (again with the stairs) and found it across the street. ¬†Once I made it to the train I realized that I could have skipped the last batch of stairs if I had walked under a passage in the metro area…Lesson learned. ¬† So I rode the PATH train to the end of one line, got off and crossed the platform to board another PATH line which took me to Newark Penn Station. ¬†Here the train took me to the airport where I got off, went up the¬†stairs escalator and took the airport tram to my terminal. ¬†The second part was all easy and clearly marked. ¬†A long¬†trip but if you have the time and money is a factor (total was around $9), I recommend it (maybe with less luggage).

When I arrived at Charles de Gaulle I felt like I was in a crazy dream (I had moments of d√©ja vu for much of my visit). ¬†As I walked to the baggage claim I could remember doing the same thing a year before. ¬†I had been so nervous! This time, I was not nervous at all; I felt at home! ¬†After a short appel¬†to “my family” in Dijon telling them I had arrived, I took the RER into Paris’ city center. ¬†After I found a bathroom (I had forgotten about paying for public toilets in France), I lugged my suitcase through Les Halles only to realize that I had arrived in France for Les Soldes!! To avoid buying anything I parked myself by the Seine and read my book until I heard from my friend Orsi who was getting off work early. ¬†When she called, I left my little spot under the bridge and again lugged my bag around the cobblestone streets in sweltering heat. ¬†We caught up quickly at a caf√© and then headed back to her apartment in the 18th district of Paris. ¬†On arrival at her beautiful apartment, I was greeted by a spiral staircase. (OH MON DIEU!) ¬†Orsi¬†lived on the last floor…eight or nine twisting flights up. ¬†If you have ever been to France, you may realize the kind of stairs I’m talking about. (By the way this was not my only encounter with these stairs and my large suitcase on this trip) ¬†Despite all of this, it felt great to be with Orsi, speak French and be back in such an amazing city. ¬†Once Tibo (her husband) got off work, we took bikes down from the 18th to meet up with friends and watch the UEFA soccer games. (You all know how much I love those V√©libs and soccer).

The next morning I was supposed to take the train to Dijon, my real home away from home. ¬†I decided to buy my ticket online so that I wouldn’t rush around in la gare. ¬†Of course, my luck, as I typed in my credit card number into the system, the computer went bonkers and I was told the transaction hadn’t gone through. ¬†So I grabbed my things and quickly left the apartment¬†stumbled down the spiral staircase. ¬†I got to the station, bought a ticket and got on my way. ¬†Only later did I finally connect my phone to wifi and realized the mistake I had made. ¬†There in my inbox was the confirmation e-mail for my SNCF ticket. MERDE! ¬†The transaction did in fact go through back at the apartment, which meant that I had bought two tickets for no reason. ¬†I tried pleading for a refund but was told that the only thing I was able to do was write a letter to SNCF. ¬†So very French and so very ineffective! ¬†I still haven’t heard from them…

The Travel Tale is FINALLY coming your way

I am slowly coming up for air after a whirl wind of insanity.  That is not to say that the whirlwind is over, but I am currently treading water in this crazy city.  Treading is better than feeling like a rock is tied to your ankle at the bottom of the ocean (i.e. drowning).

New York has so much to offer. ¬†You can do anything and be anyone you want. ¬†Moving to France last year helped me discover myself as a person after I had been defined as a student-athlete for the better part of my life. ¬†It was fairly easy to listen to myself more clearly in a small village in a foreign country. ¬†The challenge now is keeping that person with me in the NYC madness. ¬†I came here with a goal and it has changed and evolved with my months here. ¬†This evolution is good and productive but also stressful and confusing. ¬†I remember feeling lost a few months ago when I knew my apartment had to change, I was switching jobs and I was not sure where any of it was going. ¬†This was right before leaving for a trip to France. ¬†An escape from reality that I haven’t even had the chance to tell you all about yet. ¬† Let’s begin there…