Friday, September 27, 2013

Seoul 1

How do I get money out of there?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

I want one of these

Should we start the trip to South Korea here?  It is the obvious choice really.  Usually the first thing you want to see when you get off the plane.
This is the one at our friend's house.   
What is that control panel?!  

1 year later and my friend's husband still refuses to try it.  But WE (the ladies) pushed all the buttons to see what they would do.

And then we translated the entire control panel (yay internet!)

Red = stop; Blue bum & fountain = rinse (see above); Pink person & fountain = lady rinse (wand slightly more forward); Pink double fountain = pleasure. 
The other four are temperature and pressure controls. 

And then we had dinner and were baptized with local drinks.  And then I was forced (and by forced I mean I jumped in bottom first, of my own accord) to try the machine.
And I sang like a canary.
And then I wiped and it was like nothing even belonging in the toilet ever came out of my behind.  AND it warms the seat.
I have been here for 10 days now and I completely fail to see the down side.

In further toilet news, I found out we are in another one of those countries where you are supposed to throw your toilet paper in the garbage.  boo.
Maybe that is why they have these toilets.  In the end you are just drying off your bottom from a mini-shower.

Prep me. Hwai-Ting!

So I learned the Korean Alphabet. 
Made a summer intern at the South Korean Office of Tourism tutor me.
Watched at least 35 Youtube videos on the Korean language and Korean Culture.  (Thanks Professor Oh!)
Found some good fiction novels (The Calligrapher's Daughter and A Single Shard)
Bought a travel journal
Prepped for the work I would come home to. 
And let B completely plan our trip. 

And it has been good.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The country of the calm morning

We are leaving in 1 week for South Korea - "the land of the calm morning". Not because we need calm (my guess is a completely foreign environment in a language we -mostly- don't speak, isn't going to offer many calm mornings).  But we do need some natural beauty (i.e. National Parks),
and to see the horizon line again,
and maybe some night skies. 

We will go to visit our friends who are expatted in Seoul.  And we'll taste some rice, spicy barbecue and fermented cabbage.  Yay!

Things I chuckled about today from the Direct Matin

We are truly back in the swing of things.  I know because the free morning newspaper Direct Matin has reapeared in the metro

Laïc (Lah-eek) is the French word for secular or non-religious.  It is most commonly heard in relation to the government and schools.  The most controversial act in the last couple of years was the outlawing of religious-wear in schools (i.e. crosses, kippas, veils).  So it is just a little funny that the Direct Matin reported that the  "text of the laïcité charter from the Ministry of Education, to be placed in every public school, will be unveiled in the next couple of weeks".  Ok maybe it is only funny to me and my elementary level of French.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Should we continue with a restaurant series?  Because we don't talk enough about food here, right?

It is well documented that servers in France are sometimes missing from view and often seem barely bothered to even come to your table (with the exception of fine dining).
Photo by Virginia Jones
As someone who has had a healthy dose of restaurants/cafés on both sides of the counter, I feel the importance of giving/having good service. But here is the difference.  Anglophones are busy.  They are busy on their phones, on their computers, at their 30 minute lunch breaks.  They are going, going, going with their multi-tasking, and eating is just 2 small parts of their day, while they are doing something else.
In Paris, eating is your break.  Your social time.  And while it is a struggle even for the French to get a server to the table, they are not likely to notice unless it has been 20 minutes. Because the server and the food are not the center.  The break is.   

Your server is not there to make sure you have a good lunch or evening.  He is there to serve the food while you enjoy the evening with whomever it is your are with.   He shouldn't chat you up or hover around your table expecting you will leave in 30 minutes and he can get a tip and another table.  You are most likely the only people sitting at that table for that lunchtime.  

Never was this more apparent to me when a good French friend of mine actually yelled, yes YELLED at our server. "Can't you see she is trying to have a nice evening out with her mother?  Please stop bothering them!"  And the implication of our roles was utterly clear.

Monday, September 9, 2013


La Defense from a distance
Yesterday we went to St Germain en Laye. 
It was a beautiful day with just a touch of crispness.  We were happy to get out of the bustle of the city during the big rentrée*. (Rohn-tray)

And then today

Can you see the rain?  And rain it did, for 4 hours straight...before it started again. 

I feel a little bit like this:

"When autumn comes, it doesnt ask.
It just walks in, where it left you last."

Although, to be fair, this year summer came the same way.  And I wouldn't dare complain about that. 

*La rentrée is the beginning of September when all the Parisians who have left for summer crowd back into the metros and apartments, and start to buckle down for the school and work year. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The important stars

You might remember this guy

Car tires used to be white!
His name is Bibendum.  (Possibly the worst name ever.)

He is the mascot of the French tire company Michelin

If you know fine restaurants.  You will know that Michelin is also the name of the holy bible of French fine dining.  A very big thing that grew out of a very small guide for travelers over 100 years ago.

Getting a Michelin Star is not such a simple thing. (There are only 3 to get).  Michelin is said to have a very small team of critics who are advised to not even tell their families what they do.  They work for 18 months, repeatedly visiting restaurants throughout France (and now other countries) and rate them based on quality, service, ambience, originality and consistency.  Chefs wait years to get 1 star.  And a 3rd star holds the promise of a 60% increase in business.

You might have just said "Who cares about fancy restaurants and expensive food?"
You should.  At least once. 
Once put your fancy adventure shoes, and have 4 people watch over your meal. 
Start with the amuse bouche (am-uze beu-oosh. "amuse mouth"). 3 small spoons that can only be described as flavor and texture "parties in your mouth".
Then the entrée (ahn-tray), The plat (plah) and Dessert (dehs-zehr) all delicately designed to marry and evolve one to the next.
Then Mignardises (miñ-yar-deez) the unexpected small chocolates and bite size sweets to finish your meal, and coffee, if you drink it.  
You should plan on 2 hours for a lunch. And you should go for lunch since it is less expensive and if you are taking 2 hours for lunch, you are most likely on vacation anyway. 

Dining at a starred restaurant in France is expensive.  But this is your French experience.  And you will not regret it.

A Michelin 1-star lunch. (my apologies for the Iquality of these photos)

Party. in. your. mouth.

Entrée: Veal Tartare with baby greens on a bed of mille feuille with citrus foam, and tomato sorbet.

Plat: Rognons de lapin, polenta, lima beans. 

Dessert: Panna Cotta, champagne granita, fresh berries and gold leaf.

SURPRISE! I don't even know where to start.*

After dessert, dessert?  Raspberry tuiles, Chocolate pops filled with Passion Fruit liquer, Green apple mini pastry

*It is common in very nice restaurants that they have many cheeses.  During the cheese section of the meal, they wheel over a large wooden cart of those cheeses and serve you your choice.  
That thing.  The Housemade Candy cart? That is a first.  Suckers, Chocolate Suckers, Marshmallow, Mini Candied Apples, Sugared Macadamia Nuts, Sugared Pistachios, Homemade Sorbets & Ice Cream Cones, Macarons, Caramel Popcorn, Large Gel Dots,  Chocolate Bars in White, Milk or Dark, etc. 
I know because I asked, 
about all of it.
And they will just keep putting everything you ask for on a little mini plate. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Pastry Tuesday

These are Cannelés (Kan-eh-ay).  
Chewy, with a slight burned-rum taste, these cakes are made from custard.  
If you have a nice boyfriend who goes to Bordeaux (Bored-O) for the day, he might just bring them back for you on a nougat shell.  

Happy Tuesday.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Did you say tomato?

Since I know you have been dying to know, this is how my miracle is doing. 

In the end, I just dumped all the seeds that I tried to sprout into a planter and I am pretty sure they ALL sprouted.
But I kept them alive!  

Do you have a significant other that does things that make you go hmmm (i.e. idiocy)? Mine tries to cut tomatoes with a non serrated knife.
Why don't you just smash them into the cutting board and then rip them apart with with your fingers. 

In other tomato news, I had one of these the other day

Delightful.  And completely worth 1€50
And I stumbled on this website: seedsavers 
I wish my seeds would make fruit.