Macerated Strawberry-Basil Crepes

In Spain it was tapas. In Italy it was gelato. Here in France I’ve been hooked on crepes. I should have known this would happen, because it always happens. I have a predisposition to eating sweets with the most severe form of Dionysian indulgence. It’s gotten so bad that the last time I went to the doctor I found out my blood type is now chocolate.

Macerated Strawberry-Basil Crepe

My favorite creperie is literally across the street from where I’m living, taunting me daily. I know, we live in an age where the term “literally” has fallen victim to hyperbole, but this time I actually mean it. LITERALLY. ACROSS. THE STREET. Some nights I hang out my widow and stare at it wistfully, if not angrily, because who can sleep when there are crepes so close by? I wonder if dogs get angry about these kinds of things. Dogs can’t really have crepes.

 

Macerated Strawberry-Basil CrepeStrawberries | Crepe Mixture

Once a day I amble down to the creperie for my banana nutella fix where, in spite of missing four of his most prominent teeth, the vendor greets me with a semi-toothy smile of recognition. He knows what I’m there for.

 

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First Week in Paris + Chocolate Rum Mousse Recipe

Paris: It’s what many call the city of lights, and from my 7th floor view (8th by American standards) overlooking the center of Montmartre, I can see why. I’ve been in Paris for a full week, which blows my mind. I started this adventure two and a half months ago, and with a swish of the hand of time, I’m on my final month in my final country in this tiny Parisian apartment with the tiniest of kitchens.

Chocolate Rum Mousse

 

Speaking of my apartment, as small as it may be, it’s perfectly situated in the 18th arrondissement on the 7th floor of a 100+ year old building overlooking Montmartre. From the front window I look down directly upon the Moulin Rouge, and from the rear is an unadulterated view of the Eiffel Tower. A 5 star view for a 130 square foot apartment:

My Parisian view from Montmartre - Moulin Rouge / Eiffel Tower

Parisian Kitchenette

But what is this? I don’t understand…

After living in the relatively small Bologna last month where I could walk from one end of the city to the other in less than 30 minutes, I’m trying to reacquaint myself with public transportation. For a germaphobe such as myself in a congested city like Paris, this is no easy task. Oh god, I can’t believe I just used the word “congested,” as if I couldn’t be any more disgusted by city life. Each time I step into an overcrowded metro cab wall-to-wall with riders covered in bacterium and fecal matter, I look at the cab handrail and think, “is this the one? Is this the handrail that’s going to give me hepatitis?” I want to put my hands in acid just thinking about it.

 

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Fig Gelato with Balsamic Drizzle

My stay in Italy is now officially over. I just arrived in Paris this morning after a fifteen hour overnight bus ride where the huge ape of a man sitting next to me took up half of my seat and the bus driver blared – BLARED – Celine Dion power ballads at 4 in the morning. I sat stewing in my miniature bus seat with no recline feature, back aching, lethargy and rage overcoming me. I’d almost forgotten why I didn’t like Celine, but it’s all coming back to me now. Fig Gelato with Balsamic Drizzle Anyway, this post isn’t about Paris just yet. This is a post I know a few of my friends have been looking forward to for a while and I couldn’t complete a trip to Italy without touching on GELATO.

Italians are fiercely serious about their gelato, and if you ever try to get in the way of an Italian and their gelato they will cut you deep. On any given day at any given hour, you can find the sidewalks bursting with people, most of whom are carrying gelatos in every shade represented on the color wheel.

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Walk of Spain, Madrid Tour and Meeting my Homeless Girlfriend

*You’ll have to excuse any editing errors, given my sporadic internet accessibility, there may be some spelling and/or grammatical erros. <—There’s one now.

On my third day in fickle-weathered Madrid, it became apparent that I needed to buy groceries for my apartment. When I first arrived I was so hungry, but most markets were closed due to Dos de Mayo Uprising, so my options were severely limited. I scoured the cupboards for food and made use of what was left behind: half a package of dried noodles and a can of lemon sardines. Let it be known that few things in life are as revolting as canned sardines, namely hairy knuckles on a woman or the joyous laughs of small children. But being desperately ravenous and without any other recourse, I developed a negligibly edible lunch that would definitely besmirch my cooking abilities had anyone else ate a modicum of a nibble. I couldn’t help but think that someone – anyone – on Top Chef could have made better use with these ingredients and ended up throwing out the majority of what was made. The garbage groaned and declared me a mortal enemy.

The following day I made my way up to Puerta del Sol, which translates literally to “Door of the Sun”, but appears to be more a door to the tourist conglomeration of Madrid. Puerta del Sol is a huge shopping district within Madrid’s city center containing large, four-story-plus department and clothing stores which accommodate the most cutting edge and fashionable items at somewhat steep prices. Like most plazas throughout Madrid, Puerta del Sol opens up to a large courtyard displaying ancient edifices sprawling in each direction. Off to one side I see an incongruously placed, but considerably busy, McDonald’s and wonder how many American tourists necessitated that build.

Inside one of the stores I try to buy groceries and toiletries, but I’m thrown off by the prices. Fingernail clippers are no less than 6 or 7€ and hand mirrors run around 50 to 110€. I skip the beauty section and make way toward hygiene. At this rate I can expect to find toothpaste for around 4 or 5 thousand euros.

Around the center of the courtyard was a flowing fountain and large seating structures that were being torn down by construction crews. Apparently I’d missed a spectacle, but part of one still remained where a motley crew of costumed characters walked around.

I found Mickey and Minnie.

Mickey and Minnie

And Spongebob.

Spongebob Squarepants

And Cookie Monster.

Cookie Monster

A sad and possibly suicidal Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty

And Minnie and Mickey. And…Mickey?

Two Mickeys and a Minnie

NO. AN IMPOSTOR.

Mickey Impostor

Also throughout the center are droves of street performers with sheets or hats laid out in front of them to fetch payment for their productions. There were two shady-looking tattooed men dressed as clowns (and what I mean by “dressed as clowns” is they had on mismatched knee-high socks, a sullied red nose and the clowns said “honk” when they squeezed them and multicolored baggy pants that probably hid shivs. Or diarrhea. Or both.). There was an older shawled woman turning away at an aging, large-sized music box that emanated a melody that warbled pleas for a tuning gone long neglected. I asked the person next to me where the monkey in a fez was, but they ignored me.

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My Final Week in America, TECHmunch Tampa 2012, and Vanilla Almond Cake

Vanilla Almond Cake

This is going to be a bit of a long post, so buckle in.

Guys, this has been A WEEK, but I didn’t expect the week leading up to my departure to be anything but A WEEK. An amuse-bouche of the crazy endured these last two weeks: I had thousands of dollars stolen from my bank account by some creeper in North Florida who was subsequently caught on camera, which is hilarious; Connor the Cat becoming really sick and urinating on my bed, carpet, couch, me, the world, which was somewhat less hilarious; my first food blogging conference; and of course the end of my job.

So now I’m officially unemployed. I actually typed “homeless” by accident which is probably just an indicator of what’s to come. But maybe not, because if I’m this good at omniscience and fortune telling then maybe there’s a way to monetize that and not be homeless after all. But if I don’t become homeless, doesn’t that mean I’m actually a terrible oracle? Now I’m confused. Or I could at least secure a place with a band of traveling gypsies; that’s still a thing, right? And does this mean I would have to wear billowy silk shirts and a magnificent gold hoop earring? I really hope not. Silk is so 1996 and I don’t look good with gold jewelry because I’m not Mr. T.

Vanilla Almond Cake

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Matcha Cake with Spicy Ginger Ice Cream

I have to hand it to the Japanese; they really know how to make you sweat at the dinner table. From serving up awe inducing, blood red raw horsemeat to a jellied drink made with pig placenta (you’re just going to have to look that one up to believe me), Japanese experimental cuisine has invited both encouragement and nausea into my kitchen.


To those of us who tinker in the kitchen attempting to frivolously induct odd ingredients into an amorous, if not idiosyncratic, marriage, their approach of shaking up the culinary normative as not a frivolous plight, but with unencumbered inspiration, is encouraging. “It’s extremely poisonous you say?” I’d imagine a Japanese chef inquiring about a new bulk shipment, “we should market that to small children.”

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Homemade Chocolate Box. Your Valentine Will Hate You.

Chocolate BoxValentine’s day was a lot easier when I was a kid. It was a time where looking cute and wearing jorts were not mutually exclusive. Also since giving valentines to everyone in homeroom was a mandate, you always got a valentine from your crush. And it was so cute the way that said crush threw the valentine at me while jokingly muttering “I’m only giving this to you because the teacher made me,” before flipping me off.

Young love is so pure.

Not only that, but it was accepted practice to pass out badass X-Men valentines, and any day that involves a Gambit card that reads, “I’m Yours, chere!” — presumably spoken in his cool and sultry Cajun voice — is a good day for me.

Shit girl, be mine!

A well-written note will go a long way.

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