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Showing posts from 2012

Good Moments in Grettely

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I know a family that would be the envy of all families if they were allowed to take part in their history as I have.  My story with them started back in college, when Greg was dating one of my friends.   Now, this friend has gone via her own path and Greg is married to a wonderful woman named Marie, without whom the story could never be as good as it is today.   Little did we know, back during those days, though we weren’t very close, we planted the seeds of a blossoming friendship that has extended to his brother, his sister and slowly his family and other friends.  These are a group of people you feel lucky to have in your life.  They bring others together, they have a good heart and they know what it means to be a good friend.   Moments spent with them are always moments where you stop and think, “I have a good life full of amazing people.” These are the Lartilleux.  Most of you probably can’t pronounce that name, but it doesn’t matter.   In my stories you probably kno

Foodie Tales: Michelin Starry-Eyed (Basking in Basque: Part 3)

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If you are interested in food porn, just scroll to the bottom and ignore my flowery words.  :) E-mail, May 1 Hi, Ok, I booked the hotel for San Sebastian (with a view of La Playa de Concha).  Should I make the reservation to Arzak for Thursday night? ------- Hey there, So exciting.  YES!!  Though I don't think you'll get a reservation this late.  But I'll keep my fingers crossed. E-mail, May 2 Hi, Ok you were right, it is impossible to go to ARZAK but...we will go to something better.  Arzak is number 8 in the world's 50 best restaurants and Mugaritz is number 3!! I booked a table for the 24th at 21:30 :-) Have a great day. ------- Hi, Number 3?  I suppose that will have to do.  ;) Real life, Thursday, May 24th - 21:40, somewhere in the Basque countryside near San Sebastian No trip to Basque is complete without basking in the Michelin star.   This region in Spain has one of the highest Michelin star per capita ratios in the world

Basking in Basque: Part 2 - País Vasco (Spain)

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From Pays Basque, my friend picked me up in Saint Jean de Luz and drove us the 20 minutes it takes to get to País Vasco, the Spanish Basque country.   We're greeted by "Hola" at the toll booth and  I begin to practice speaking with my Spanish lisp, gratheeiath.  (I still like the Mexican accent better, I have to admit.) View from my hotel balcony in San Sebastian.  You can see the corner of La Concha on the left. What can I say about San Sebastian?  Well I have to mention my friend Dave, who has officially reported that he is unhappy his name has never appeared in my blog.  In all fairness, Dave and I have never traveled together though we have spent many moments meandering through Paris when he is in town for work (he is a colleague.)  But today I'm going to mention him.  Why you ask?  Because Dave has a dream.  To retire at 40 (with a few other details that I can't share) and to do so in San Sebastian.  And I think Dave may be onto to something... M

Basking in Basque: Part 1 - Pays Basque (France)

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It was about that time again, time for a real vacation.  Forget the jam packed few days of discovering something tacked onto a work trip.  I needed a real break.  T he beauty of Europe is there are so many destinations close to home.  And I wanted something simple.  I wanted to take the train and see the countryside.  I didn’t want a city packed with sights.  I wanted the seaside, sunshine (it was a long winter), a slow pace and time to catch my breath and decompress from the hustle and bustle of city life. So I decided to head southwest, to see a part of France I'd never seen before,  Basque Country . Why?  I can't really explain it.  It was something about the way people talk about this unique piece of Europe that sparked my curiosity to discover it.  The coast is peppered with beaches and walking trails, people enjoying sand and surf.  The interior is filled with beautiful little villages.  The language ( Euskara in the Basque language) is neither French, nor Spanish a

Foodie Tales: Transatlantic Bubbles - A Weekend in Champagne

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My friend Mike owns a champagne importing company in Connecticut, called Transatlantic Bubbles.  I met Mikey on an unforgettable trip to the Russian River Valley many years ago, when I was invited along to celebrate his and a friend’s 30 th birthday. Each year, Mike and his business partner, Jeff, put together a week-long trip to Champagne to visit some of their marquis producers.  They invite some of their best clients and an occasional charming American living in Europe (or three) to partake in some of the festivities. The bottle that started it all... This year, I was able to join the group at the end of their week to visit one of my favorite producers, George Laval.  Mike introduced me to Laval on a beautiful spring night in London, when he brought a bottle to our dinner picnic on Islington Green, a very small park, a patch of grass really, in the north of London, near where I used to live.  It was an unassuming bottle, with a simple label.  Mike brought it to life w

Sightseeing while Shivering

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I am not a fan of winter.  Cold weather always kept me inside.  And I always believed that if it was going to be cold, it should snow - snow so much that we get to stay home.  (Snow days are fun regardless if you're young or old.)  There is something calming about having so much snow, it makes the crazy world stop for a little bit.  Cold is just cold, however.  :) Bundled up for winter sightseeing. But then I moved to Europe, where you have to go outside.   You can't stay inside for long.  You have to go to work, you have to live your daily life.  If you tried to avoid the cold, you are bound to run out of food or toilet paper.  There is no Costco nor is there a place to store all the toilet paper you would have bought at Costco.  Outside into the chilly world you go lest you die in your flat.  And you can't throw on a coat and shimmy into your car with heated seats.   You have to dress for cold weather combat from head to toe and when you've sufficiently layer

Foodie Tales: Paris des Chefs

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A couple of weeks ago (I need to get more timely with this blogging business), we informally inaugurated "Cultural Sundays" with my patchwork quilt of global expats from work.  Our first expedition was to Paris des Chefs , a food event.  My fave highlights: Truffle Flavored Cashews I mean truffled flavored anything is good (except when I make it of course - see Truffle Tales ), but there is something about combining the in-your-face flavor of the truffle with the smooth and crunchy texture of the cashew.  While normally I could consume my weight in cashews, the flavor is so rich and satisfying that it left me satiated after a few nibbles.  Or maybe it's because I got distracted by some of the other goodies to come. Learn more about Esprit Gourmande  (or at the very least be entertained by the translations on their blog.) Thienot Champagne Granted there was only one producer at this event and it's a group, not the delightful small producers that my

New Year's Message

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Galette des Rois, or "King's Cake" is eaten on the feast of the Epiphany or basically all of Jan. Find the "feve", or small trinket (a bean or baby Jesus usually) and you're King for the day! (Yes, I struggled with pics for this post.) I love the new year.  People can argue that it is a superficial marker in time, but it's one of those things, like being part of a team or running a race - there is a communal feeling of being able to make a fresh start, of pushing yourself to improve yourself and seeing other people do it makes it feel like you can too.  I like that there is a moment to say goodbye to the last 365 days, the bad ones and good ones and to set yourself up for the best for the next 365.  In France, I like how the new year is celebrated.  We receive cards with new year's greetings instead of Christmas cards and though we're in the second week of January, people are still greeting me with wishes of love, success, health and adve