Weekend in Lyon!

I’m currently on my way home from a glorious weekend in Lyon, which started as a class field trip to Yoplait and extended into a few days of vacation. We were only there for a few days, but I’m already scheming ways to get back for longer. It’s such a beautiful city, with not one but TWO rivers (and good running paths along them!) and a stunning hilltop church visible from almost everywhere in the city. Add in the charming old city with winding cobblestone streets and I’m totally hooked.

Lyon is known as the gastronomic capital of France, and we did our best to sample as much as possible in the short time we were there. The highlight for me was a “quick lunch” at Les Halles de Lyon-Paul Bocuse that ended up taking all afternoon as we wandered the endless bounty of gourmet food stalls. We were lucky enough to snag a table at one of the restaurants, where we feasted on butter and cream with varying accompaniments: snails (!), ravioli with smoked salmon, andouilette gratin, and cheesy potatoes. It was incredible. The whole place was super busy, with chefs from various stalls chatting over a charcuterie board and a lively bar next to us–I loved everything about it. It took an absurd amount of restraint to keep myself from leaving with food for the next month.
Other culinary highlights included daily ice cream (I even found pumpkin! I was a little too excited) and these praline almonds turned into every kind of baked good imaginable. I wasn’t sure what to make of them at first, but they’re surprisingly delicious.
I was clearly won over by the food, but I also loved the feel of the city. People seemed friendly and chatty, not traits typically associated with Parisians. We happened to arrive just in time for the celebration of the new Beaujoulais, which apparently includes brass bands and dancing in the street. We also stumbled on an art market this morning and wandered through adorable shops with locally made clothes, bags, toys, and crafts. It might be because of the ways it reminded me of Portland, but I’m smitten. Until next time, Lyon!

Cats & Castles

It’s been busy over here! Last week we had a field trip, an exam, and two presentations, so most of my past two weeks has been spent either frantically reading about hydrocolloid structure or editing powerpoint slides. The madness ended Friday, and I’ve very gratefully spent the weekend relaxing. And I’m cat- and apartment-sitting for friends for the next couple of weeks, so I have a cat to snuggle and a kitchen to spend all my time in. The goal is to use every kitchen tool they have during my time here, and I’m happy to say that I’m making good progress!

Last week we had a few days off of classes (theoretically to study for aforementioned exam, etc) and I took full advantage: one day at a chocolate expo and another at a castle. My life is hard 🙂
The expo was mostly a retail show for brands selling new products, so we got to wander around, talk about chocolate, and eat lots of samples–pretty incredible. But the BEST part was watching part of the World Chocolate Masters, a competition of international chocolatiers doing sculptures and dishes with all sorts of techniques. It was so cool! Watching the chefs create and plate their desserts was amazing, and I immediately wanted to go to learn how to do it all. Sometimes I’m bad at focusing when chocolate is involved.
The next day, a few friends and I went to the Château de Chantilly, about an hour north of Paris. It’s one of those classic European castles where we mistook the stables for the castle itself and the art collection inside casually includes 3 Raphaels. Also, there were kangaroos? That part was confusing, but it was a great day of wandering around and getting outside the city for a bit. And it was stunningly beautiful, so that helped.
It’s turned quickly to autumn weather here in the last week, getting cold and drizzly. Luckily, I’m perfectly set up in my own little apartment with couches (!), a kitchen to myself (!!), and a cat who loudly protests when you’re silly enough to stop petting him for more than a few minutes (!!!). It’s kind of the best. I spent most of my day making food for my birthday dinner tomorrow–can’t wait!