Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's All About the Food and a Few Other Things I Guess Too!

So, I came across this....

And then I died.

So, as you many know, the title of my program is blah blah blah blah blah, food and wine. So I was thinking, well shoot, I bet a bunch of these people would enjoy drinking wine. And, as you may know, my place is a big larger than the postage stamp I was expecting....

So I had the space.

Also, the people in my class are extremely nice and fun. So, food + space + fun peeps = why not? So, introvert that I am, decided to invite some people over. 

I'm telling you, I am in go mode these days. You wouldn't recognize me. Anyway, I thought that it would be fun to continue my weekly happy hour in France, however, I didn't call it Happy Hour mostly because here, Happy Hour is completely different. It is like, the total opposite actually. So for the US, Happy Hour is when bars and restaurants lower their prices so people come at weird times, right. Well, here, they do happy hour during peak hours. Like Happy Hour is 7-11pm. Not cocktail hour. So I guess technically, since we were eating dinner and not having cocktails, I unintentionally did French Happy Hour. Oh boy. Anway, that was a fun short for you.

So I decided to invite people over for wine sharing, pairing, and food.

Then I went crap! Who the heck invites people over for food when you are in France! Enter Table nerves. My god.... PANIC! 

Okay, not anywhere that severe but it was a bit reminiscent. Also reminiscent of The Table was my grand idea to make something that 1. I have never made before, and 2. Make something that I have never really eaten before. So yeah, I went for the short ribs.... I just couldn't resist that picture!

And so the food expedition began. 

Here are three more key pieces of information that you need to make this story more worthwhile. 

1. Everyone, or at least a lot of people, dream of moving to france, buying fresh vegetables from the market, so on and so forth. 

2. I have been living in Kailua which while great, islocated on O`ahu, an island, with very limited anything. So for example, if I wanted to make short ribs in Kailua, it would depend on if they actaully existed at the moment on the island. Also, there is no such thing as a butcher in Hawaii. The luxury of going to the butcher and asking/ordering whatever, the kind of meat I want, doesn't really exist. 

3. I am incredibly shy when it comes to speaking French. I have to constantly remind myself that the whole country is here to help me practice and I shouldn't feel bad about sucking. 

Alright... so first task on the list.... buy short ribs. Now, how do you say short ribs in French? Anyone, anyone? Yeah, exactly. 

So here, their cuts of meat are totally different. Like the place on the animal where they cut is completely different. So finding equivalent meat cuttings is sometimes difficult. I spent almost an hour scowering the internet looking for how the heck one would say short ribs! Finally, Google Books saved my life by letting me (illegally?) read a short section of Julia Child's, The Art of French Cooking. 

And there lay the word....Plat de Cotes. 

Next step... find them! So I was supposed to be waiting for my electrician becuase I hadn't had light in my bedroom for almost two weeks, but the Plat de Cotes were calling me to find them. I ventured out, going right at my mom's suggestion, and after three butchers, I found them!

Found them meaning I awkwardly walking into the butcher shop, cutting in front of a zillion people to glance into the meat cases. Anyway, finally, it was my turn, I ordered the Plat de Cotes, in kilos which was another feat, (no amount of Grey's Anatomy or weighing myself at my dad's office will ever get me to understand kilograms) and then also asked him to cut them into 5cm pieces. Another conversion that I was quite proud of. 

Well, I paid, they bagged them up, and I walked out of that place like a smiling idiot. I was literally drooling I was so happy! I had just met my sterotype and had bought fricken meat from a butcher in France to have people come over to my appartment in Paris. Really, not trying to rub it in at all, just trying to convey the emotion.... I was pretty stoked. 

So then I proceed to walk around for a while on cloud nine, but then it was time to get down to business.

It was Saturday, and apparently, these things are better if you make them the night before.

Armed with this....

Hopefully this would be a success. Or at least hopefully, I didn't kill anyone.

Step One: Season and brown. Let me say something about my stove/oven combo. The thing gets freakin hot. Like I can boil water in less than a minute. First time I have ever been able to brown meat like I wanted.

Let's talk about this next picture. Blurry! Surprise, hadn't eaten that day and my hands looked like I had just seen a ghost and went skydiving at the same time. Could not keep them still!


This does not look atll that appetizing! But it's just carrots and celery and onions.

Carrots plus celery plus onions plus one bottle of red wine plus the short ribs. All in the giant pot.

Plus herbs plus some beef broth. Boil and bake!

Which was actually terrifying and I got a really bad burn on my thumb and forefinger (they blistered! first time!) because I was being stupid. While the stove is super hot, the oven is less amazing. One, it doesn't have any temperature guage, it's old so it just has numbers one through nine. What I didn't mention earlier was that after buying the short ribs, I once again neglected my call to wait for the electrician and ventured out looking for an oven thermometer. I went to SIX places, it took the whole day and nothing. I was so frustrated.

Anyway, my burn and the oven. Obviously, the 5 kg of short ribs with wine and broth in a cast iron pot is extremely heavy. Well, when i put it in the oven who's temperature I was guessing was around 350, the rack slipped out of it slots and the whole thing fell on the bottom of the oven. Nothing really spilled too much, just some liquid, but obviously, I had to take it out and rearrange things.

So, this is the dumb part and I have kinda done this before and told myself to never do it again. Well, I did it again. NEVER USE A WET DISHTOWEL TO TAKE THINGS OUT OF THE OVEN. SO DUMB! Anyway, the water in the dishtowel super heated and then in turned burned two of my right fingers. Ahhh it hurt!

But the important part was that I rescued the food, right! I hate dropping food! Such a waste. Anyway, I macgyvered the oven to that I could get the pot to stay eleveated, and left it to cook!

I tried one around midnight, I was pretty good, but a little fatty, something I knew would be true but it still made me nervous. The best thing was that they were tender. So I was winning that battle.

The next day, Sunday, the big day I got nervous. (This is so The Table mentality.) So what does one do, she goes and stalks another butcher.

I won't admit to it, but maybe just maybe, I bought a backup piece of meat. What?! I had to have something to pair with the big red that was being brought!

So after the backup meat, it had nothing to do. So I was like hmmm. I promised American food, lets go check out the American grocery store. The metro that I would ride to get there was down so I walked.

I get to the American market and what is the first thing I find!  Ahhhhh! Kill me now!

Hung out in the American store for a while trying to decide which enourmously overpriced American food items I wanted. Finally, settled on Reece's Peanut Butter cups, the oven thermometer, and then I saw it! Grits and cheddar cheese! Way better than my inital plan of mashed potatoes for a side dish. (Also a way better idea because I wasn't so sure about the milk and cream in my fridge because when I finished cooking the short ribs the night before, I did let them cool a while, but I had to put them in the fridge before I went to sleep. The heat from that had kinda hmmm lowered the temp of my fridge!)

Cheddar Grits it was going to be!

So all this and I am sorry to say that I don't have any pictures of the final products, the people, the food, the wine, nothing. But I can say that is because we had so much fun, who needed a camera. But really, everyone brought something and I was like a well oiled machine.

Listen to this meal!

Start with a Sancerre white wine (which I had never had but had been dying to try). Add cheese from a far off region of France that someone's mom brought while visiting for the weekend. Add some rolled procuitto and artisan french bread. That was round one.

Round two, short ribs, cheddar grits and a big, delicious Tuscan red.

Then finished with Apple (Crack) Cake. Seriously! The night didn't suck.

And that was Sunday night. Not bad at all!

I feel like I should add some space so you can still enjoy that meal. The next stuff is just kinda random.

A sunny day!

A lady wearing a cat skirt. Totally could be Lauren, right.

This place needs some decorations like you wouldn't believe. A decoration that is not my mess would be nice.

I went and read for a little while in the park.

And then I got hungry... so I made soup. I had one onion left over from the night before and that terrible Diane de Poiters wine.

Guess what, I found what Diane de Poitiers wine should be used for.


And then I had to move everthing out of my bedroom to the living room because the painters were coming to fix the plaster.

See ya!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Present

 And all the way up until now!

Lauren and I went to the Pompidou. Lauren looked a really weird art and after about five minutes I commenced with a french prayer walk. I guess you could then call it the Pompidieu. Ha ha ha. Okay, not funny.  Then I found this for my dad.

But, the view from the Pompidou was really amazing! I had never been and when you are on the top floors, you can really see all of Paris.

Then Lauren left and now you are stuck looking at pictures of just me. So then came the days when it was freezing and I had no heat or hot water. Story of the Slumlord still to come. It was funny too, because as soon as I got heat and hot water, the temperature here shot up into the 60's and 70's. Of course it did!

Anyway, there is me writing by candlelight... kinda. Mostly, I was trying to keep my hands warm.

And here's what I ate for dinner. It was delicious! So, there is a staple here called lardons. Which we don't really have them in the US. You can sometimes find it at really high end grocery stores, or you can get a slab of bacon that's invited and that is not sliced and cut it yourself, but essentially, it's huge bacon pieces. Yes!

Here I am facebook chatting... it's like 7th grade is happening all over again. Omg Jessica just blocked Kim and Justin Teruya just messaged me! (Yes, these things really happened, except for this time, I have not unplugged the house phone line to go on AOL.)

And back to what I do all the time here...

So this day, I went outside before it got dark and took some pictures of the Luxembourg gardens. They were closed so I took these through the fence, which actually was better because then there were no people in the picture!

My street. Oh my god, this night was so amazing! The weather has been killer after that 7 day freeze. So so so nice!

More of the gardens.

This is the view from my apartment! So freaking cool! Come visit!

And then here is me... watching tv.. on my computer.  Didn't really have the same effect.

Okay so that was a cool update... But get ready for the next part, it's all about the food!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Present... Almost

Getting to October, here are some more pictures that I haven't yet posted.

Started with taking a field trip to the champagne region with my class.

We saw this classic car that I think my father has been telling me about for the last 24 years. Glad to finally put a thing with name.

Then we walked down this huge hallway/staircase to visit the crown jewels, also known as Pommery Champagne. I was freaking out becuase I couldn't believe this was part of a school assingment. What the!

Lots of bottles...

Okay, you totally cannot tell what this is so it bring up two points. 1. Q. What is it? A. It's art. 2. What is it? It's the bottom of wine bottles that have been painted on so when light is shown through them it projects the painings.... aka art.

There, now you can kinda see. It was actually really cool!

And then of course me. I thought this was so clever. Most people did but apparently, it's a little weird to associate my name with a place. But I really like it, I think it's pretty!

And then of course you have to have a man pouring 30 glasses of champagne in a row.... duh!

Still on our field trip, but back on the bus.... just driving through FREAKING CHAMPAGNE FIELDS.

Went to a family owned champagne house. This is like the worst picture every but this was a really cool champagne glass. I really wanted to steal it and I was this close, but... I didn't. Should have, could have, would have... didn't.

Next and finally.. omg it was the longest day every, we went to Moet  & Chandon. Which was really cool. If you ask me, it's like the popular kids of champagnes, the ones that have all the cool clothes and totally missed their awkward stage. Case in point, this awesome chandelier made out of champagne glasses.

And than was the end of the field trip. Which was great. It was really good because they crammed our whole class of people who didn't know each other and shipped them away for a day and we all came back friends.

That night I was supposed to move into my appartment but my landlady wasn't ready for me I spent another night at Chez Bruno.. did I ever tell you about him. If someone comments and reminds me I will, otherwise, you can google Bruno Roland. I rented his apartment for a week. He likes to surf. Anyway, the next day, I was to get the keys to my appartment in the morning. Totally didn't happen that way, but like everything in this stage of my life, it is not going according to my plan but to someone else's and that is okay.

So Lauren is boozing it up in Germany, I boozed it  up the day before in France, and now, it is my turn to move my stuff and Lauren's stuff from the storage unit to my 5th floor apartment with no elevator.


Here it is in the storage unit, very neat. (I had just repacked everything that morning).

And here it is on the handy cart that the storage unit has for your use.

So long story short, I ask the guy working at the storage unit to call a taxi. World's Quietest Man Ever Award Right Here. I heard him say not one thing on the phone but after about 10 minutes he hands me a sticky note and whispers to me that the taxi is on it's way.

Taxi guy helps me load... we head off... I'm trying to wrap my head around getting all my stuff up 5 flights of stairs.... and then bam! We pull up to my appartment.

Taxi guy looks at me and says, "You're not carrying that up the stairs, I'll do it for you."

Was he Jesus? And then he did! I literally had no clue what to say! I gave him 10 euros because I didn't know what else to do.

Seriously, seriously!

And then still, my appartment wasn't ready, the cleaning lady had just gotten started. No problem, I was just stoked that everything was up those stairs! Anyway, I left, came back, got locked out... and then fianlly got back in!

Live next to this. The Pantheon. Actually, just found out today that this is where all the famous french writers are buried.

Obligatory trip to IKEA. Wouldn't these be perfect for The Table!

And then here is me waiting for some friends at the opera house.

And then here I am eating lunch and doing school work! Get ready for lots of this same picture, just with a change of food.

View from my window.

View of the park.

More park.

Waiting for another friend... this time I was actually in the wrong place but so worth it. So pretty!

Omg this is the longest blog post ever! The next day I had some time to kill before a french test so I went to hang out at the Eiffel Tower. Freak!

And I ate the world's largest sandwich. Here I am trying to show you that the sandwich was the lenght of my forearm. It was massive!

And of course, even take ways lunch comes in three parts, sandwich, drink, dessert.

Went to French then I ate dinner. Which doesn't look that great. It tasted great...


I didn't do this long enough...

And the chicken, while beautiful... was not fully cooked.

But hey, who needs to know that, right?

Next day. Tuesday because it's my day off... I took yet another obligatory trio to IKEA. I had no dresser in my place and I am trying to move on from "the floor is the largest shelf in the house," method, so I need to buy one. Savior Inma came with me and helped me carry it back!

And then I put it together in a super rush because I had people coming over to dinner and clothes still everywhere!

Dinner with friends... this one guy made this traditional French dessert, île flottant. It was amazing, and the funny thing was, everyone that I told about this the next day, like, freaked out when I said that I had eaten île flottant. Apparently, it's the thing to eat!

Days later... Lauren came back from Germany and brought me a giant kinder egg. I have never had one but I have always wanted one so I was pumped to start off my kinder egg journey with the maxi size!

Next day, my class took a field trip to a wine bar in Paris. No words.

And then I came home and went to dinner with Lauren...

And we got the best gellato ever!

The end! Whew!