Thursday, 28 August 2014

You smell

Each city and person has a distinct smell and/or colour. The more affect it or he or she has had on me, the sharper the said smell/colour.

From time to time it attacks me in hits of nostalgia. The crisp misty winter mornings of Angoulin, the music I used to listen to in Toronto and Montreal, the perfume that you used to wear.

Bordeaux is still too fresh for me to have a particular smell, yet. I wonder what traces of you will be left lingering on me after this year, Bordeaux.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Smart Living Tip: Towards a healthy lifestyle

Travelling plays havoc on your life routines, and when you're looking out for your next accommodation for the week, the healthy meal and workout plans tend to take the backseat. Even if I should be used to it by now... 

So I sought advice from a good friend of mine. 

K is a lady of routine. She bikes to work, works out at the gym every day, and has a healthy social life, with burger nights with close friends once a week. Seemed like the perfect person to ask for help.

'If you really want to know...' she began.

These days she prefers to work out before work, to have more time with her man in the evenings. Wake up time is 5.15am, which seems way too early, but she must be a super woman. Yoghurt and banana in her stomach, she heads to the gym. On the fitness menu:

A. 30 min high intensity class + 15 minutes of cross trainer, or 
B. 1hr pump class,

then shower at the gym, saving on a lot of hot water at home. Smart!

A quick coffee on the way to work, is her small treat for the day. 

'But, what about meals?' I asked. I normally have salad dinners at home, but nearly always eat out for lunch. There are so many restaurants near work, and that's what we have always done at my work places. I wanted to know what she packed for her lunches to work, since I am always up for healthy money-saving tips. Here's what she did this week:

- roast chicken sandwiches
- rice salad
- emergency bread loaf at work to make toasts

On the other hand, K admits that she goes out a lot for dinners these days. 'It's easier to spend money.' 

You don't say.

My goal this week is to pack lunch to work, check out that new gym near work I found the other day, and please go running, at least once each. Copy K until it becomes my routine, too. 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

French: How do you like your steak?

Blue rare


Medium rare
A point


Well done
Bien cuit

Just made myself even hungrier...

Sudden silence

Suddenly silent from our constant daily chatters. Leaving me feeling lost and empty, frankly a little jittery. Surprisingly so. I guess you are busy today, my anchor :)

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Travel Tip: How to take the tram in Bordeaux

Just like in Melbourne, tram is the norm transport here. There are only three lines, which makes it a whole lot easier to get your head around, luckily for me! (There is a fourth one coming soon, I hear.) Also, the trams are way newer, making it a whole lot more enjoyable to travel on. At major stations there are machines to buy your ticket - single trip, day pass, night pass, 10 concession, week pass. Turn the knob to choose your ticket option, press to select, and follow the prompts to pay. The tram stops have panels indicating the final destination of trams and the estimated time of arrival of the next ones to your stop. Push the door button to get on the tram, and validate your ticket into the machine, arrows facing up. Many locals don't usually bother, but once in a while there are check rounds and you will be fined if caught. Push the button at door to descend from the tram, at your stop of destination. Easy peasey, right?

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Baking: Pavlova

Without fail, I bake pavlova at least once in France. Pavlova that I never bake in my own country, New Zealand, isn't that funny? This time, the occasion rose earlier than expected, towards the end of my first week back in France. Though, I think it had always been on the back of my mind, so perhaps it had not been really unexpected. 
We went shopping especially in its preparation. Eggs, check. Cream, check. Fruit, check. Pavlova is essentially a massive meringue with fruit decoration on top. The trick is to bake it long and slow, and let it cool in its own good time. I'd like to use less sugar, because it is super generous in the amount needed, but then the cake tends not to hold very well and flop  in in itself. So best to make it wide and flat rather than thin and high.
The electric eggbeaters were put to work and the bowl turned over our heads to check the contents held well and did not fall on us. The French family was all surprised to learn that vinegar was needed in the recipe. Vinegar or lemon juice, a bit of acid is required to... Make the foam glossy, I think?!
While the pavlova was baking, someone had nicked our cream! (For a lovely quiche Lorraine, so she was forgiven.) We had to make do with what was left over, which unfortunately wasn't much... Our cream may not have been the best but we made up for it with our fruit decoration. And what a lovely pavlova it was. The family enjoyed it, thank goodness, and I got to show them a bit of Kiwi cuisine they hadn't tried before. Success!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Macarons de St Emilion

Another of the Best, also from St Emilion. The Real macarons, way different from the sugary pastel sandwiched Parisian delicacies, are flatter, perhaps a little bigger, and heavily consists of almond meal. That is what I assume anyway, since the authentic recipe - the one and only - is a huge secret, handed down from person to person, one at a time. The first recipe came from a dream to a Ursuline sister in a convent near the current shop, in 1620. I adore Parisian macarons, but I really took to these too, though with only one flavour it can get a bit monotone. Half the fun in the Parisian namesake is trying to decipher the flavours and critiquing how well they turned out, after all.
The macarons come stuck on white paper, written the true macarons.
The only shop you will find these authentic treats. Available for online orders now as well from their site