Back in the New York Groove

After finals week came to a close and I enjoyed my last few days in Paris, I can’t believe that I’m now back in New York.

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It’s bittersweet. The weather has been rainy and cold ever since I got here, which is making enjoying the city a bit difficult. I’m on Long Island for Memorial Day weekend, going through old clothes, old trinkets, and many memories.

It’s hard being back in New York. I missed my family and New York a lot, and it’s nice to be back in my own bed and have my whole closet of clothes to choose from as opposed to the selection of clothes I’ve been rewearing for the past 5 months.

Simple tasks like driving to the grocery store are strange. I hadn’t been behind the wheel in 5 months, and though it comes back to you like riding a bike, it definitely feels weird to be the driver instead of the passenger. At the market, I almost bumped into a few people and felt “Pardon” slipping out of my mouth, before quickly switching to “Excuse me.”

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It’s little adjustments like keeping my eyes on the road and switching languages that will take a bit of time to get used to. What will take a bit longer is no longer seeing my oldest sister every day. I’ve grown accustomed to the rants and raves that she and I settled into. And the occasional cute mistakes we’d mock her boyfriend about. (My favorite is “Why are you so mean with me?” Just too cute.)

Before I left, we made homemade crepes. Though I have the essence of France with the 3 jars of mustard I brought back with me, the taste isn’t the same without Emily.

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Can’t wait for August, Em. I miss you!

Here’s a recipe for crepes, though hers is from memory.
*Update: The link above is now a link my sister suggests as a good crepe recipe.

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Grande Mosquée de Paris

I came to Paris because I love everything about French culture – the food, the art, the literature, and more. But after my time here, I’ve realized more and more that Paris is changing – it’s much more like New York than I ever realized, mostly because of its tendency to be a melting pot of cultures.

Grande Mosquee Paris

Grande Mosquee Paris

I’ve always been interested in experiencing different cultures through their religions. One of my most fond memories of field trips at my Catholic school was in the 7th grade when my entire class went to different places of worship: a Jewish temple, a Buddhist temple, a Greek Orthodox church, etc. Having been exposed to Catholicism at home and at school, I found the traditions of other religions to be extremely interesting and beautiful.

Grande Mosquee Paris

Grande Mosquee Paris

With classes over and finals about to begin, my friends and I decided to take a study break by going to the Grande Mosquée of Paris. It takes up an entire block: with gardens, a café, and baths, there is so much to see in this intricately designed building in the middle of the classic-looking city.

Before

Before

After

After

If you have a few days to spare in Paris, I really suggest heading to the 5th arrondissement. Paris is a city to visit classically French things, of course, but more and more it’s becoming the home to many other groups of people. At first glance, it may be surprising that this mosque is in the same city as Notre Dame, but it’s a symbol of how cities around the world can adapt to different people.

Grande Mosquee Paris

Two Weeks Notice

I truly cannot fathom that two weeks from today, I will be headed home to New York. Where did the last few months go?

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It’s so cliché, but time really does go by so quickly. The youngest of four kids, I always heard “You’re growing up so fast!” and “You’re so much taller since the last time I saw you!” to which I politely smiled and nodded. When you’re little, time is just a way to count the days. You go to school at 8AM, come home at 3, have dinner at 6, go to bed at 9. Every September you go back to school, every summer you go to camp. Time just kind of goes by, and it was easier.

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As we get a bit older, you realize you don’t always want the time to just go by. Sure, when you’re sitting in class or at your desk, sometimes you can’t help but count down the minutes until you can get up and leave. But even succumbing to this occasional circumstance, I still feel like the time slipped right through my fingers.

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As I head back to New York two weeks from today, I’ll be taking every day at a time – exploring New York the way I’ve been exploring Paris; learning and working at my internship; turning 20; cherishing the moments I have with all of my family together in my house of 16 years that we’ll be moving out of.

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Through the ups and the downs, I guess the most important thing to do is cherish the time that you have. It always goes by too quickly.

My Mom’s Hash Browns

When I was little, we used to go to our country house every weekend. It was something I didn’t appreciate as much until I got older; I would have rather stayed in the city to have play-dates with my friends than go out to Westhampton where the only people I knew were my siblings.

Hash browns

When we’d return to the city on Sunday, my mom would usually resort to breakfast-for-dinner from either a lack of groceries or being tired. Whether it was pancakes or eggs, we almost always had hash browns.

Hash browns

To this day, the smell of these flavors mixing together on the stove brings back the memories of the ever-so-exciting break from well-balanced dinners we used to have. We almost always have potatoes and onions lying around, so they’re easy to whip up without stepping out to the store. The dash of paprika makes them unique, and the mix of butter and olive oil gives them the perfect crispy crust. Trust me, you’ll have a hard time resisting picking these out of the pan.

Hash browns

My Mom’s Hash Browns
5 large potatoes
2 large onions, sliced into half-moons
1/2 stick of butter
1 T olive oil
1 T salt
1 tsp pepper
1 T paprika
1. Boil/ microwave your potatoes until they’re about half-way cooked. Dice them up.
2. Melt together the olive oil and butter. Add the sliced onions.
3. Once the onions have softened, add the potatoes and spices.
4. Mix together all of the ingredients, and make a flat layer of potatoes in the pan to ensure even cooking.
5. Slow cook them on low heat for about an hour or until browned, stirring around every 10-15 minutes.
6. Serve with eggs and/or ketchup, and enjoy!

Lemon Poundcake Squares

Lemon is one of my favorite flavors. Whether it’s a candy or a cocktail, it’s my go-to.

Lemon Poundcake Squares

A room with a view

With my sister’s boyfriend out of town for the weekend, we decided to indulge in meals that aren’t Tom-friendly. The key player: lemon. After a delicious lemon, goat cheese, and asparagus pasta, we had some lemons left over. I decided to take it upon myself to use them up in dessert form (something I can proudly say even the lemon-intolerant Frenchman took a bite of).

Lemon Poundcake Squares

These lemon poundcake squares are the perfect buttery-yet-light sweet. They taste a bit like the Starbucks lemon poundcake I often resort to and are a fresh-tasting reminder of all of the summery citrusy flavors that will be coming my way.

Lemon Poundcake Squares

Recipe Courtesy of Marzipan via Pinterest

Lemon Poundcake Squares

*For the glaze, I only used about 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and about 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, eyeballing it. I did this in order to conserve powdered sugar, but next time I’ll use more to enhance the sour flavor – I think lemon desserts should be a bit more sour than sweet!

Lemon Poundcake Squares Glaze   Lemon Poundcake Squares

Bordeaux and St. Emilion: Tastes

As promised, here are some of my favorite things I tasted in the French wine country.

First off, we went to a huge indoor market in Bordeaux where my friends and I needed a little something to hold us over until lunch. Croquettes were our option which the lady in the photo below freshly dished out into a plastic to-go container.

We then wandered through the outdoor part of the market, which we learned is a privilege passed down through generations. World War I left many widows, so the city tried to help them earn money by allowing them to go into the indoor market, then only for distributors, buy some items, and resell them outside. Now, only their relatives have the right to sell on the street, but it is something the city will soon end since the need is low.

Croquettes    Market

In the same indoor market, I found this cheese vendor. Needless to say, I was in heaven.

30 years!

Our tour-leader bought us mini Cannelés Bordelais. They’re a bit crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle (the texture for which the unique mold was invented), and have a licorice-rum taste. There is a story behind these dense little cakes: winemakers in the region use egg whites to ferment their wine, therefore having an abundance of unused yolks. They gave them to  nuns, who came up with this very temperamental and difficult recipe.

Mini Canelé Bordelais

Though we didn’t get to eat there, we went into one of the best restaurants in Bordeaux to watch how they prepare some of their meet delicacies. PS The woman on our left was our adorable tour guide.

Meet

After that, we stopped for lunch and to have our first bottle of Bordeaux in the region. There were various foods like a pâté, another meat delicacy with parts of a pig not used for the pâté, and some intestine. Though I forced myself to try some of the dishes, I mostly stuck to the camembert and chèvre.

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Wine from lunch

Wine from lunch

Later that night, we went to a wine bar called Wine More Time. Though white Bordeaux is not my favorite, the atmosphere of this bar was very chill, drinking on top of stools in front of wine barrels.

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The next day in St. Emilion, we had a brief tour in the morning followed by time by ourselves for lunch. My friends and I sat outside, at salads, pizzas, and more, and had this delicious bottles of wine, one of our favorites from the trip.

Wine at lunch

Wine at lunch

St. Emilion is famous for a different style of macaroons. They are made with egg whites, sugar, and almonds, and are fluffy beyond belief. They come in a box on the parchment paper they were baked on because they are too fragile to take off and package. I bought a larger one and split it with my friend. Definitely worth it.

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DSCF1888Lastly but certainly not least, we did a wine tasting. We walked through various vineyards and reached Chateaux La Fleur Picon, a vineyard that makes Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.

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We learned a bit about how the wine was made, all by the same man whose family has been making the wine for 9 generations. They make one vintage a year, and we tasted both 2009 and 2010. The newer of the two was a bit more acidic but tasted just like the kind of wine my mom would love. The 2009 was smoother. Confession: I bought 3 bottles.

La Fleur Picon

All in all, it was a beautiful 2-day break in the wine countryside, and made me realize how much I want to move to Northern California some day and run a vineyard with horses à la Dennis Quaid in The Parent Trap. A girl can dream, and until then, I got a small dose during my trip to Bordeaux and St. Emilion!