Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Emotional Roller Coaster

No, this entire post is not about Brussels sprouts.

That's a lie.  Have no expectation of emotion beyond the turmoil I am about to experience over Brussels sprouts.  Are you hooked?  Can you not bear to tear your eyes away?

At work the other day, we started talking about how excited we were that Brussels sprout season was upon us.  I just discovered last year that Brussels sprouts are incredibly delicious if you cook them correctly, so if there is one good thing that comes with cold weather, it's these sweet delicious treats, and I couldn't wait to spend all winter eating them.  Just rolling around in a bathtub full of Brussels sprouts.   

We all discussed different methods and recipes for cooking, roasting, sauteeing, and caramelizing them, so by the time I left work, I was drooling and would potentially get involved in a low level drug cartel to get my hands on them.

Like a rabid Brussels sprout werewolf, I flew through the night on my bike, snarling and growling through the cold to the grocery store.  I knew I needed other things but didn't care to grab a handheld basket let alone go anywhere except straight to the produce section.  I practically ran.

My craving was so strong that if there were not Brussels sprouts present (I hadn't seen them yet all year), I was going to flip my lid and start throwing eggplants and potatoes in a furious rage.  I searched, I looked, passed the zucchinis and peppers and onions, over near the fennel and cabbage where they stocked them last year. WHAT? WHAAAT?  No Brussels sprouts??  

I started spinning in a spiral downwards with my hands in the air to yell "Nooooo" but then as I spun around, I saw...on the shelf across the way...this one lone gleaming bag.  

Isn't that beautiful?  Aren't I the luckiest girl in the world?  It was a glorious moment, and my devastation immediately transformed into elation, with bright lights and singing and glitter falling from the ceiling.  The song Dream Weaver came on as I darted across the produce area lovingly towards the rare and precious bag.  As I was taking a picture with my iPhone to capture my incredible luck, someone started walking around the corner, so I reached out and snatched the bag like a crazy person, lest my joy be stolen from me.

Really, though, I looked crazy.  I snatched that bag so fast.

Now comes the turmoil, the horror.  After such expectation and longing, such searching and finding, almost losing and then recapturing what was desired...I accidentally overcooked them while trying to get the edges crispy, and it was the worst thing I've made in years.  Or maybe ever.  Usually things just come out good.  I don't even think I've ever made anything that didn't taste good.  I'll repeat that for the single fellas, I don't think I've ever made anything that didn't taste good.  And these just didn't.  Such highs, such lows.  It's just a part of living abroad.  

It has nothing to do with living abroad.

To quote some website:

The secret to good Brussels sprouts is to not overcook them. Overcooked Brussels sprouts have a pungent, sulfurous odour.   

Sulfurous!! I refuse to believe it could be a cooking error on my part.  The sprouts themselves must have been bad.  It's the ONLY feasible option because I'm perfect.  

They were so bad, they squandered my craving for weeks.  Now I have a new bag waiting, and I'm scared of them, so if you have a good recipe or method, please feel free to share in order to boost my hopes.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, it was a hard day.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

September Snapshots Pt 2: Bachelorettes, Markets, Rodin, & a Favorite Sunday Bistro

A few glimpses of the second half of September...

A relaxing Saturday morning on our balcony reading. I love late mornings like this.

Our friend Rachel is a lawyer who has been working the closing shift (6pm-midnight) all season long in order to help pay for her wedding. The week before her wedding, on her last closing shift, we all surprised her with a bachelorette party. Here we prepare the posters and decorations in the back office.

Jillian asked Rachel to go down to the underground garage (3 levels down...takes a while) to find some trash bags. While she was downstairs, we decorated in a fury. Too much of a fury to avoid damaging the ceiling. Hannah displays a piece of ceiling tile that we just broke trying to hang a poster. Please see giant hole in ceiling. Whoopsie.  

Lights were off, everyone was crouched, and then..."Surprise!!", cue music.

We had champagne and strawberry champagne cake and gifts.

I became obsessed with Sadie's new pants, and Hannah had the iPhone cover to match!

Then Brooke came to visit!! Italy, Italy, oh Italy. Here we are, sitting on who knows what piece of farm equipment while the rolling hills of vineyards stretch on in the background. I tried to run away to frolick within them forever, but Brooke wouldn't let me.  Brooke's visit will of course get its own proper recap.

Jack comes to visit from the Austin office, and is given the gift of ghost-riding a bike home through the rain in the cold without a jacket.

On a beautiful Saturday, I decided it'd be a great idea to spend it out in the city on bike.  I stopped at the lovely Saxe-Breteuil market, wandering up and down looking at all the beautiful products and watching everyone buy their weekly supplies.  It was one of those, "Oh yah, this is one of the reasons I love France so much" moments.

I collected myself a perfect little picnic: roasted chicken, heirloom tomatoes, an entire loaf of whole grain country bread, figs (perfectly in season), nectarines, and rosemary honey.

Picnic location: Rodin's Gardens

It was a crisp day, but when the sun was not hidden behind a passing cloud, it felt perfect.

Finally! It's the red sleeveless uni-pant outfit I've been searching for. You know how fashionable Paris is. Everyone will be wearing it soon. 

Manager's dinner at Semilla, the new restaurant by the same owners as Fish La Boissonerie. There's only one main dish, which tonight was veal with creamy baked mushroom macaroni, and you get to choose your 1st course and dessert. We all rotated our 1st courses and desserts counterclockwise around the table so we could try everything. Graham made the poor choice of asking for the biggest dessert, which also happened to be the worst. Sorry buddy.

Sadie attempts to open a bottle of wine sans corkscrew. The shoe method did not work out this time since we didn't have a solid enough surface, but somehow, we got a corkscrew. It's Friday, it's 6pm, it's pouring down rain outside, it's happy hour.

On my way back from our last Catacombs tour of the season, I happened upon the Raspail market, a really beautiful one that I've actually never been to.  Funny thing about the last Catacombs tour was that they decided to close it for fumigation and didn't tell anyone, so I had to turn around and tell our group of 20 people that they would not be going on the tour, and by the way, this is our last one of the season, so no chance of rescheduling.

A delightful discovery. On a Sunday night, I met Maygan & Kyle for dinner at Le Relais du Comptoir. I had been here once for lunch but just got a salad. Tonight, we ordered two incredible beef dishes and seared tuna with vegetables, and all three of us loved it. The interior couldn't feel more French, and we just glowed in the presence of good food, a carafe of house wine, and adorable surroundings. 

We vowed to make it our regular Sunday outing. Except we've been randomly busy each Sunday since then. But we will return, oh yes, we will return. A kick and a thumbs up for Le Comptoir.