School in Dublin

First week of classes in Dublin done! It seems like it will be very different from Paris–much less time in classes and more work at home, like I’m used to. It’s also very different subjects. The big project this semester is prototype development, and then we have more business-focused classes–regulatory affairs, new food business creation, marketing and consumer behavior, and innovation management. Should be interesting!

I’m also taking a couple of extra culinary classes to get some formal training on that side of things, and the first ones were so fun! The other students were super confused about who I was (which is fair, when you have to take a class and someone else is literally just taking it for kicks) but also very nice when I had no idea how culinary classes were supposed to go. We made meringues and breads and apple crumbles, and I think it will be a funny mix of things I’ve made a lot of times already and very new things that I’m excited about. So far, they’re some of each and I’m having a blast.

Between school, extra classes, baking at home, and marathon training, it was a busy week and it’s shaping up to be a busy semester. But I’m having way too much fun to mind, and I’m excited for the time we get to spend here!

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!

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!