Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Bonjour Paris

Bonjour Paris!

Another first for me this past weekend: Paris. Galway and the rest of Ireland except maybe Dublin are slow, small, and quaint. Pretty much the opposite of Paris. I flew in Friday night, and hopped on the bus into the city. Korey, my friend from home studying in Versaillies for the entire school year was waiting for me. I couldn’t have been happier to see one of my best friends in one of the prettiest cities ever. We took a metro back to her house in Versailles to change then met up with her friends for the night. I’ve realized pretty much anywhere you go, the nightlife has the same concept. Dress nice, drink, and dance. I’d say it’s a pretty universal concept. The next morning, after a few hours of sleep we picked up her friends again and went into the city.

Saturday we hit up all the main Paris attractions. The Louve, The Eiffel Tower, the Pompidou, Notre Dame, and everything in between. Seeing Notre Dame at night, from the back side was probably one of the prettiest things I’ve seen. Every building, monument, store front, apartment, had so much character. I’d never seen an entire city look so beautiful. I fell in love with wrought iron railings and the soft pastel colors of the buildings. Each direction I looked I would see something more georgeous than the last. Ireland is pretty in a natural rustic way. The green grass, the stone walls, the small houses with thatched roofs. Paris was completely different. It was pretty in a delicate, soft way. Hard to explain, I know I’m not doing it justice. It just seemed so surreal that I was actually in Paris for the weekend, looking at all these famous landmarks.

Sunday was more of the same, going into the Louve, the Eiffel Tower and seeing the Arc de Triomphe. We even waited around long enough to see the Eiffel Tower light up and twinkle once it got dark.

Kids playing with these little boats in a fountain by the Louve

Monday Korey had to go to school so I hung around Versailles by myself, going to the Palace. I went back into the city, had a nice caf√© outside, and went in the Pompediau, to the very top to see the panaranic view. You could see all of Paris. I just looked out the windows, taking in the view and trying to remember every detail of what I saw. It is a view I don’t ever want to forget.

Eventually it was time for my flight, and a few hours later I was back to little old Galway.

You know me, I can’t have a post without talking about food. I thought I had had good bakery before, but I had never been to Paris. These bakeries are glorious, filled with tarts, baguettes, √©clairs, brioche, macaroons, ham and cheese sandwiches, everything. And I tried just about everything there was to try. My favorite being the brioche I got from a bakery in Versailles. I enjoyed my breakfast on a bench in the Gardens of the Palace of Versailles. I was happy.

Brioche #1

Notre Dame
Eiffel Tower during the day
Notre Dame at night

Now I’m off to Scotland. The traveling never stops when you’re in Europe.

Au vior.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Adventures in Baking

As you can all tell, I like my food. You could even maybe call me a 'foodie', especially in the baked goods section. I love buying treats for myself, but I love baking things more. I've made brown bread, pancakes, tortillas and cakes along with my daily meals. Tonight, however, was the most successful yet.

My days here are filled with me checking food blogs and imagining myself making the wonderful things pictured. For Valentine's Day, I thought I would try something special. And it needed to be red. Red Velvet Cake fit the bill.

My first cake I made for a friends birthday may have looked good, but didn't actually taste that good. Everyone said they loved it, and maybe they did, but I didn't. Fail. (Above- looks good, tastes- not so good.)
In Ireland, my roommates and I say nothing comes out right the first time you try it, baking included. My so called fully stocked kitchen had no mixing bowl, no wooden spoons, no measuring cups, and definitely not cake pans. So I invested in a few key kitchen utensils- best money I've spent yet.

So today, with a dessert spoon and a 1/4 cup, I made the best cake ever. The other factor over here is the darn metric system. Trying to convert everything to cups from mL and grams is just not fun. It also led me to not buy enough food coloring for my cake so while it definitely was red, it could have looked nicer. Now I know for next time, just like most things I do here.

Time for that last piece of cake calling my name from the fridge.

mmmm cream cheese frosting and Emily- can't get much better.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I can't believe it. It has officially been 4 weeks and 2 days since I have been in Galway. It really does seem like I just got here. Everyone always says time flies by, but people say it because its true! I never thought it would go by so fast. Four months left.

I've gone on trips and explored the city, but I also have gotten used to just living here.

1. I've discovered the quickest way to school.
2. I know where to get the cheapest drinks.
3. I know where to get the best scones, the best coffee, the best seafood chowder, the best fresh vegetables.
4. I go to the farmers market on Saturdays.
5. I'm taking a cooking class at school and now am able to make the best dinners.
6. I've already finished two books and am on to my third.
7. We're regulars at the Crane Bar on Tuesday nights to hear traditional Irish music played by NUIG students.
8. I've found the perfect spot at the library. (which we all know is the most important)

To celebrate the four week mark, we had a little potluck dinner at our apartment. All the Marquette kids, along with a few others, brought food and their own eating utensils to room 205. The food was impressive (I brought homemade brown bread), the conversation was lively, the music was playing. Everyone left happy and full. It couldn't have been a better night. And now we have a clean apartment!

I knew time would fly, but I just didn't realize how fast it would go. The traveling begins this weekend and pretty much doesn't stop until I leave. On the list: Limerick, Paris, Scotland, Ring of Kerry, Rome, along with LOTS of visitors in March. We will never have a hot shower in March. But I couldn't be more excited for the weeks to come.
The best scones with jam and butter.
Remnants of my plate at potluck dinner.
Blurry picture of friends eating.
Not blurry picture of friends eating.
The spread.