Loire Valley and a race!

I can’t believe it’s already halfway through October! We’ve already finished off two classes and are deep in the thick of it with the others. This semester has more projects and less classes than last year, which is great and also means that there are always more things that could be done… It made me really happy to look at egg white foam under the microscope!

Outside of school things, my sister and her husband came to visit me! In classic fashion, I have lots of pictures of the excellent buildings we saw and zero of the three of us. Luckily my brother-in-law is much better about photos than the rest of the family and took some essential vacation selfies. We went to the Loire valley, known for castles and wine–what more do you need? It was such a great weekend! We rented bikes (including a fun stint where I got to stand in as translator for another American family and got offered a job in the small-town bike shop- tempting!), spent a day riding through idyllic French wine country to one of the most amazing castles I’ve ever seen, and then finished the day with wine and the sun setting on a different castle.

The next day we decided that all of these 16th-century buildings were a bit too modern, so we went to the medieval city of Loches and climbed a 5-story keep built in the 11th century. Of course, all of the wooden floors have disappeared, and let me tell you, 5 stories feels like a lot when you’re looking straight down!

In other very exciting news, I ran a race yesterday! It was the 20 km de Paris (about a half marathon), and it was incredible. It started and finished at the Eiffel Tower and was a gorgeous day, so it was amazing to run along the Seine and see all the sights along the way. I wouldn’t say I was exactly adequately trained for the distance, but I finished and am even pretty happy with my time– 1:48! I’m walking like a champ today and not too sore, but I’m pretty excited for some time off from those early-morning runs.

Hopefully things will quiet down a bit over here for the next few weeks– finishing up modules was pretty intense! We have a bit of reprieve now and then everything is due at once on November 15 for some reason. We’ve been lucky with the weather for the last few days and it’s been glorious to go back to one of my favorite activities: eating pastries in Parisian parks!

Catching up

Hi friends! So, it’s been a while. The end of the semester got crazy and then summer happened, and long story short it’s been eventful and pretty amazing. We had two weeks of spring break and a few of us went to Greece, Bulgaria, and northern Italy, which was lots of fun and stunningly beautiful. I got to do some traveling at the beginning of the summer break too, including a trip to Slovenia and meeting my family in Lyon for the Women’s World Cup (cannot even describe how excited I was for that). I spent most of the summer in Portland, doing an internship in product development at the Food Innovation Center at Oregon State University, which was both a great job and an incredible chance to be back home remembering why I keep saying I want to move back there. I just made it back to Paris (like, today) for the start of the third semester of school (tomorrow), and I’m very excited for more France adventures!

And now, my favorite pictures from the last few months! First up, spring break:

Summer travels to Slovenia, Nice, Lyon, and Portland:

March travels

Hi friends! March got away from me, but it was an amazing month! After Iceland, I went to Kristianstad, Sweden for a food hackathon. Not sure what that is? I wasn’t either, but it turns out it’s essentially a 36-hour innovation session to solve problems in food. In this case, we focused on issues related to the UN sustainable development goals and topics spanned from making new products from wasted fruit to making Sweden more self-sufficient in food. My team tackled food waste on airplanes, and I have to say that I never thought I’d be researching the intricacies of international catering waste legislation but it was more interesting than I expected. We worked on figuring out where the waste is coming from and how to prevent it, and we ended up taking second place! We learned a lot (not just about EU legislation) and met a lot of great people. It was a really cool experience! We also spent a day in Copenhagen on the way back, and I decided I could live there on the strength of the food alone. Plus, you know, picturesque canals and everyone biking- definitely my kind of city.

When I got back to Dublin from that trip, my parents had already arrived to visit! We spent a few days in Dublin, including hiking out in Howth and visiting the Book of Kells, and then we visited Cork for the weekend. It’s a super cute little town! I was a little too excited to find out that they have a butter museum, which was incredible, and also that there’s a church where you can go into the bell tower and even ring the bells. Were both of these activities aimed at children? Maybe. No shame. We also spent a day in Kinsale and walked a very small part of the Wild Atlantic Way- so beautiful! Also, lots of cows.

Because apparently I don’t actually check my calendar before planning things, I was off to London a few days after my parents left to see my aunt and uncle (who live in England). It ended up being one of the first sunny spring weekends, so I spent a lot of the time eating baked goods while sitting in parks, which is basically what I’d like to be doing all the time. We also got to eat at Ottolenghi’s Nopi restaurant (amazing, just like his cookbooks in the best possible way) and see Come From Away (made me cry several times. So good).

Last weekend I actually stayed in the city where I live for a change, but now it’s Easter break and I’m in Crete. Yes, my life is a bit ridiculous, I’m aware. I promise I do actually go to class and do homework and all that! (But also, several of my classes are baking and pastry, so I’m just making cakes and chocolate rabbits all the time. Is this helping?) More soon from Crete- so far it’s stunning!

I made the bunny in front! Very proud of myself.

Iceland adventures!

This weekend, two friends and I took a quick trip to Iceland! We really wanted to see the northern lights (which happened! It was magical, I have no pictures) and take in the stunning scenery that we’d heard about. It turned out to be even more incredible in person and we totally lucked out with the most beautiful sunny day when we did the Golden Circle tour. The blue sky was incredible, and we all decided we need to come back soon to get up on those mountains! Even just driving through the country on a bus was pretty amazing as we’d quickly switch from gloomy, snowy tundra to bright sun on mountains to open farmland.

I really appreciated how many people commented on my Iceland pictures telling me to go to Braud & Co–I feel like you understand my priorities 🙂 We went, I wanted everything, it was delightful.

Until next time, Iceland!

Christmas 2018

Man, getting two weeks of holiday break is incredible and makes up for all the rest of the work of grad school. I’m just heading back to Paris now and have done an excellent job of ignoring the paper I should be writing in favor of baking, hiking, drinking lots of coffee, spending time with family, and generally having a great time.

The whole family made it home, so we spent a good amount of time just hanging out and catching up. Before daylight saving’s time, my sister and I were fully 12 hours of time difference apart, which means I think we can legitimately say that we span the globe. After being so far away, it was so nice to be home together! I tend to come home, immediately take up residence in my favorite comfy chair, and read a whole book. I also did the classic college thing of pushing so hard to finish everything before I got home that once I made it back, I got sick and spent the whole time sniffling only to recover just in time to return. Oh well!

I took full advantage of my parents’ lovely and just redone kitchen for baking plenty of cakes, cookies, and tarts—after months of my tiny dorm kitchen and very minimal equipment, my mom’s cupboard of baking pans of all shapes and sizes feels like the height of luxury. I think my favorite was the butterscotch roll cake, done vertically as inspired by Julie Richardson’s Vintage Cakes. So delicious!

I also got to stop in Boston on the way back and crammed in seeing as many people as possible in the three days I was there. My friends were very generous in their rescheduling and dealing with the general mayhem, and it was such an amazing time. I got to celebrate a birthday and my dragon boat team even threw a party for me! (To be honest, I was crashing an erg session, but I took full advantage of the chance to see everyone.) I even got a medal!

Finishing this up late because I got to Paris, went straight from the airport to class, and haven’t stopped yet. Less than a week of class left, so we’re full steam ahead on a final paper and a few presentations. And Dublin in one week!

To everyone I saw over break: it was so good to see you. Thank you for your hospitality, flexibility, willingness to overlook my radio silence, and pretending to care about my school stress. It meant so much to me to get you see you all!

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!

Weekend in Rennes

Some friends from my program and I decided to take off for a weekend and, based on a combination of ticket prices and desire to see the ocean, ended up in Rennes. It’s only 2 hours west of Paris by TGV but about 5 if you’re a student trying to save money by going for the cheapest bus option. The city was super cute and seemed to have a lot going on–we encountered both a brass band parade and a treasure hunt in one afternoon. We also had to eat the regional specialty and had an epic crêpe brunch on Sunday.

But mostly, Rennes was a jumping-off point for the real destination: Mont-St-Michel. A sometimes-island that’s cut off from the mainland at extreme high tides, it’s a spectacular sight. There has been an abbey on the site since the 10th century, which at this point is a maze of different time periods, styles, and functions. The bus from Rennes drops you off a few kilometers away, and the walk to the island took about twice as long as it needed to because we had to stop and take pictures every few steps. The view of gothic spires against shocking blue sky and uninterrupted ocean never got old. I also loved wandering the abbey itself, from the vast dining hall to the massive wheel that once brought supplies to the abbey during its brief stint as a prison. We also watched wave after wave of parachutes land directly in front of the city. It was awesome!
I think it’s a mark of student life that one of the highlights of the trip was staying in a real house. Sitting on a couch, going to the bathroom without taking a key, having your refrigerator in the actual kitchen… it feels like the height of luxury at this point. We took advantage of the swanky digs and made a feast Saturday night–grilled (!!) steak and zucchini, green beans, epic garlic bread, and grilled peaches. It was so nice to live like a grown-up for a weekend!

Cross-Country Road Trip: By the Numbers

Turns out the US is pretty big and driving from one coast to the other is maybe more of an undertaking than I really understood from looking at a map. We could have had more adventures were it not for the many, many hours we inconveniently had to spend driving, but it was pretty great all the same. Here are the highlights:

Days traveled: 12

International borders crossed: 2 (that was fun with my whole life packed into the backseat)

States driven through: 11

Miles driven: 3500

Miles hiked: 35

Miles run: 34

Waterfalls admired: 8

National Parks/Forests/Etc enjoyed: 5

Bears observed: 1

Bison encountered: approximately a million (causing the requisite bison traffic jams)

Pictures of bison taken: definitely not enough

Motorcycles seen: literally thousands (accidentally encountered the edges of Sturgis)

Pictures taken: 458 (don’t worry, this is only a few of them)

  

It was an amazing trip! Thank you to my co-pilots and hosts along the way!