With finals over, I can now start avoiding job applications and pick back up with blogging. Just because 50% of my grades depended on the final test, doesn’t mean I stopped baking. Nothing relieves stress like passive aggressive egg cracking, and I also must admit I took part in some major raw dough eating in hopes of contracting deadly enough salmonella to get out of my econ test.
No such luck.
Back to baking, these pecan pie bars are inspired by my recent trip to the restaurant Uncle. In (presumable…) ode to their Asian roots the pecan pie featured Chinese five spice whipped cream. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I added a healthy teaspoon of five spices to my own pie’s shortbread base. I found that the savory flavor really balanced out the intense sweetness of the chocolate and caramel topping; so, s/o to Uncle’s pastry chef for the inspiration and subsequent recipe compliments.
Find the recipe for chocolate pecan pie bars here, and don’t forget to add the five spice!
Before going back to the US, Kate and I celebrated (mourned) the end of the easiest school we had ever had the pleasure of attending, with a trip to Taormina. After taking three classes, none of them with any tests, it is really essential to treat yourself to a beach vacation.
Taormina was recently featured in the New York Times travel section, which made it an incredibly popular destination for about 300 senior citizen Americans. Kate and I decided to embrace the senior citizen culture by attending 5 pm endless anti pasta buffets and indulging in early bed time with mid day naps. All of our friends were named Bob or Shirley and lived in Florida, but after a bottle of delicious (cheap) house wine we found plenty in common with them.
One day we even volunteered to babysit two nine year old boys at the beach, just because they were the people we met closest to our age. The parents were greatful for alone times (or suspected we were pedophiles) and we were happy to have friends to wave surf with.
Although our relaxation time was not exactly well deserved, we never wanted to leave the clear blue waters of Isolo Dora and the cheese oozing rice balls at Da Christina. The breathtaking views, friendly people and wildly creative gelato flavors definitely make Taormina an underrated paradise.
My traveling around France continues with a trip to Strasbourg last weekend. The picturesque half timber houses and quaint canals seemed straight out of a scene from Beauty and the Beast. And the food was absolutely something else. I was lucky enough to go with my relatives who picked out two Michelin star restaurants to try in just two days. Before going abroad I heard horror stories of students having such a small budget that they were forced to only eat red peppers for a month straight. I have yet to see those days and have been comfortably gaining weight by the second. Unfortunately my time having a baguette-a-day will shortly be coming to an end, although my now tight jeans will probably be thankful.
In February I made the “wise” decision to leave from Jura and immediately get on a 6 hour night bus to Amsterdam. At the time of purchasing my ticket I convinced myself that despite the time crunch and awkward bus timing, it would be worth it to spend my 21st birthday in Amsterdam. Somehow in a total of 24 hours and with little-to-no-sleep, my roommates and I managed to see the Anne Frank house, Van Gogh museum and Red Light Distinct all without killing each other. And I managed to have an unforgettable birthday with all my loved ones!
Paris has really spoiled me with amazing class sponsored trips. With my Food and Communication class I had the opportunity to see how Comte was made in the Jura region last week. I think the only class trip I’ve attended back in DC was to pick up trash in China Town. So I think Paris has DC beat field trip wise.
Over a period of three days we visited a dairy farmer, a fruitier and a cheese aging cave. These activities were all supplemented with taste classes and delicious meals featuring the terroir of the region.
The experience that made the biggest impact on me was learning about the dairy farms. In Jura, farmers are required to supply at least one hector per cows, keeping the total amount of cows at about 60 per farm. In the US the smallest dairy farmers have 300 cows, which causes much worse conditions. Cows in Jura live to be 15, while cows in the US often die from exhaustion at 2 years old. This caused me to really reevaluate the products I use back in the states.
On a brighter note! The cheese was absolutely delicious and even after consuming at least 2 pounds of it, I still crave it every day. If you can find Comte back in the US buy it immediately, I promise it will be life changing. One thing I will not miss is our daily wine tastings at nine a.m. I guess I’m not French enough to handle that yet!
The GW sponsored trips have continued and last week we enjoyed a beautiful trip to Giverny. The weather hit above 70 degrees for the first time and I was finally able to leave my winter puffy jacket at home. The warm weather spurred a bold fashion move, and I inaugurated my fedora. Based on the pictures you can comment below and cast your vote if I look more like Patrick Stump, Channing Tatum in The Vow or a member of Buena Vista Social Club.
Although there was only one sad, limp, moldy lilly pad in Monet’s pound, the rest of the gardens were in full bloom. It was just as picturesque as I had imaged and after a few glasses of wine at lunch it felt like you were living inside of an impressionist painting. Although a little bit out of the city, I would highly recommend making the trip to see where the magic happened.
Courtesy of George Washington (and the hefty study abroad fee they forced upon us) this past week we took a trip to Loire Valley. The trip was filled with stunning chateau tours and wine tastings, which obviously one ups any school trips I’ve taken in the US. Unfortuantely the best picture of the weekend was not taken by me, so shout out to Drew Manville for his sick camera skills.