I will have poetry in my life. And adventure. And love. Love above all. No... not the artful postures of love, not playful and poetical games of love for the amusement of an evening, but love that... over-throws life. Unbiddable, ungovernable - like a riot in the heart, and nothing to be done, come ruin or rapture.
I made this classic soup about a month ago and realized that it is both amazingly simple and delicious. A must for any upcoming domestic goddess.
THE BEST FRENCH ONION SOUP From: Cook’s Illustrated
For the best flavor, make the soup a day or 2 in advance. Alternatively, the onions can be prepared through step 1, cooled in the pot, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe. Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 3 pieces 6 large yellow onions (about 4 pounds), halved and cut pole to pole into 1/4-inch-thick slices (Make sure you get Yellow) Table salt 2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing 1/2 cup dry sherry 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (They recommend Swanson Certified Organic Free Range Chicken Broth ) 2 cups beef broth (They recommend Pacific Beef Broth) 6 sprigs fresh thyme , tied with kitchen twine 1 bay leaf Ground black pepper Cheese Croutons
1 small baguette , cut into 1/2-inch slices 8 ounces shredded Gruyère cheese (about 2 1/2 cups) Directions:
For the soup:
Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Generously spray the inside of a heavy-bottomed large (at least 7-quart) Dutch oven with a nonstick cooking spray. Place the butter in the pot and add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, covered, for 1 hour (the onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume). Remove the pot from the oven and stir the onions, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot. Return the pot to the oven with the lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until the onions are very soft and golden brown, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours longer, stirring the onions and scraping bottom and sides of pot after 1 hour.
Carefully remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat. Using oven mitts to handle pot, cook onions, stirring frequently and scraping bottom and sides of pot, until the liquid evaporates and the onions brown, 15 to 20 minutes, reducing the heat to medium if the onions are browning too quickly. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the pot bottom is coated with a dark crust, roughly 6 to 8 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary. (Scrape any fond that collects on spoon back into onions.)
Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping the pot bottom to loosen crust, and cook until water evaporates and pot bottom has formed another dark crust, 6 to 8 minutes. Repeat process of deglazing 2 or 3 more times, until onions are very dark brown. Stir in the sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until the sherry evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in the broths, 2 cups of water, thyme, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, scraping up any final bits of browned crust on bottom and sides of pot.
Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper. For the croutons:
While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in single layer on baking sheet and bake in a 400-degree oven until the bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes. Set aside. To serve:
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Set individual broiler-safe crocks on baking sheet and fill each with about 1 3/4 cups soup. Top each bowl with 1 or 2 baguette slices (do not overlap slices) and sprinkle evenly with Gruyère. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly around edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos.But then again, someday, when we both reminisce we'll say, 'There wasn't too much we missed,' and through the tears we'll smile when we recall ...we had it all for just a moment.
These are little tidbits taken from my travel journal that holds all my stories from China, Russia, Mongolia, Germany, Portugal, and France.
Friday, May 16, 2008- late night/early morning on the train Had a great night with the Russians- by night, I mean the drinking started by mid-afternoon. I tried to stay awake all night with them because Саша (Sasha) is leaving tomorrow. The boys made us a feast of cheese, kolbasa, smoked salmon, bread, and little croutons around midnight. We lost ourselves in our quest to empty two five-liter jugs of beer, remnant cans of Балтика (Baltika), and prolonged talks about Russia, Russians, being a soldier, and rap music. We slept in their carriage until early Saturday morning; when I woke up, it was freezing, and I looked right over at Тимур (Timor) who silently got up and draped his own blanket over me. And so even on the train in the middle of Siberia, Russia has made great promises and shown me that chivalry is not completely lost in this world.
Saturday, May 17, 2008- afternoon on the train, near Omsk. The worst part of the day was at four this afternoon when Саша got off at his stop. An hour before he left, he came into our cabin and talked with us wearing the tiny Canadian flag pin we had just give him in the morning. He told us how he never liked Canada before he met us because he loves Russia so much, he talked about dental school, patrolling the Russian-Chinese border, and then about being a dentist in the military. He gave me a picture of his home city and some chocolate. I said "Я люблю шоколад!" (I love chocolate!) and he replied with a small smile, his cheeks hinting of color, "Я знаю..." (I know...). Саша made the greatest impression on me with his sharp, but delicate bone structure and his light green eyes that reminded me so much of a dear friend, the kind of eyes that could never belong to a thief because they would give him away every time. He whispered how much he hates goodbyes and I felt my throat close. I found him delightful and I relished in his embarrassment in attempting to make himself understood to me, he'd stutter away saying "как сказат? не понимаете?". I connect so rapidly to people, especially when I'm travelling, sometimes I wonder if I am too quick to bond or if it really is possible to make such quick connections with practical strangers. I like to think the latter is the truth.
Thursday, May 29, 2008- evening in Lisbon, PortugalWent shopping today at Amoreiras, Lisbon's first shopping mall and then found our way back and shopped the Chiado district for trinkets and designer names only known on this side of the Atlantic. Our favorite European store is most definitely Pull and Bear, a funkier, edgier version of Abercrombie. Tonight we have planned to go to Lux- the famous nightclub on the river owned by John Malkovich that plays host to Portugal's young and restless. The Portuguese boys are indiscreetly beautiful with dark features and tans fresh from days on the beach at Lagos, they smile their white smiles and wink with thick eyelashes every time you walk by as if they have just seen the most beautiful girl in the world. They reek of danger like most beautiful people do. You can look at them and already feel the future heartbreak but then animalistic instinct overrides humanistic logic and all is lost anyways.
from Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants: Forever in Blue...Before he broke away he put his hands on either side of her face and kissed her, strong and sturdy and full of lust. It was a new kind of kiss. It was grown up and decisive. She knew without thinking how to kiss him back in the same way. The last thing he said to her was something in Greek. He said it with emphasis, as though she would know what he meant, but of course she didn't. The next day Lena was so preoccupied she got a sunburn on her back. She kept diligently at her dictionary when her friends went to get ice cream. She tried every spelling. Every grouping of letters until at last, with the sun at the top of the sky, she figured it out. κάποια μέρα- was what Kostos had said. It meant- "someday".
It is nearly three in the morning. I am sitting upright in my bed writing this note. I am smothered in memories that lie in-between pages of Lonely Planet travel books that line the top shelf of my bookcase. The pages are dog-eared reminders of long days and longer nights spent in some of the most fabulous and seductive cities in the world- Moscow, Berlin, New Delhi, Lisbon, Beijing, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, New York City...I take "Paris" down from the shelf and it flips open instantly to the metro map with it's smudged black markings from all the stops I have circled in the past two years indicating locations of my favorite restaurants and hidden boutiques. I pull down the Nepali Phrasebook and re-visit the words that had once rolled off my tongue, but that in the past year had been replaced with Russian ones. My ears perk up to the familiar sounds of Nepali and I sense my heart yearn for Kathmandu and the stunning Himalayas as a backdrop to daily life. I let my eyes drift over "Switzerland" and my mouth suddenly waters at the mere thought of Swiss chocolate and the international flavors that converge in Zurich. I stop here before falling deeper into travel nostalgia. But then I am caught by my display of scarves from around the globe- football scarves from Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and Germany, a thick winter scarf with the Russian crest, a light yellow headscarf I found in Nepal, the blue silk scarf reminiscent of Mongolian tradition. Slowly, I look around and I am reminded of everlasting sun, hibiscus-breezes, and the turquoise oceans that sing to me from my seashell collection next to my bed. There are creamy pink conch shells from Waikiki Beach, the annual stomping ground of my mother, then little shards of rusty orange and white coral I picked off the beaches of Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica. Underneath the coral are tiny delicate white shells gathered from the powdery sand of St. Maarten and St. Thomas in the Dutch and French Caribbean. I fold myself deeper into my blankets, close my eyes and pretend it is the sweet warmth of a foreign sun enveloping me once again. Perhaps it is the sun blinking off the waves in Cabo San Lucas, or perhaps the lingering light as drenches Cafe Nicola, Rossio in Portugal as I take the slightest sips of a dark and bitter European coffee, watching life unfold around me. Perhaps it is not warmth at all but rather the descending smog of Beijing amidst the thousand lights of downtown as we make our way to the Philippe Starck-designed LANclub for a night of champagne cocktails in the Oyster Bar. Or better yet, perhaps it is the heat of a hundred bodies in Fidel, a tiny DJ bar in the heart of St. Petersburg. As I drift off to sleep, I decide it is the warmth of all those boys left behind- in truth, they are merely boys of the moment, but some, like Michel and Rene in Berlin, will always be of the present moment as much as they are of the past. (August 13, 2008)
(excerpts taken from 'Wanderlust', written by Laura Fraser)
-There are his thick dark curls and Egyptian nose, his skin warmly brown from the Mediterranean sun. The Ischia sun. You pause to savor the memory of his rough cheek pressed against your smooth one, his quick kiss goodbye, his face fading into a crowd in the train station in Naples.
- The tales describe the endless varieties of love -- adulterous passion, courtly love, enduring marriages, homosexual love, forbidden love, infatuation. The moral -- if you can call it that, and why not -- is that fulfilling sexual desire is more important than any of the constraints society might put on people's inclinations to "forgather" together. As one storyteller comments after a tale of adultery, "And by proceeding with the greatest of discretion, they enjoyed their love together on many a later occasion. May God grant that we enjoy ours likewise." This, you think, is what Italians read in school instead of "The Scarlet Letter." No wonder they're better at flirting.
- It's a pity, he says. The problem with American men is that they are so superficial. They want youth and beauty right up front in their faces. That isn't interesting. European men like to discover what's beautiful about a woman. Your beauty, he tells you, sneaks up on you. He didn't see it right at first, meeting you over breakfast in a pensione on an island, reading your guidebook, asking practical questions, so serious. He had to figure out how to make you smile that soft smile. That's the pleasure.
Just another little snippet of something I wrote as a homage to Europe, from an entanglement of stories that, if you separated each memory, would encompass all the experiences of each one of my friends that I travelled to Europe with over the years...
Proust said that the only true paradise is paradise lost and once again I find myself anxious to book a one-way plane ticket in search of paradise with every intention of losing it at the end of another summer. Perhaps it is true that when we are young we love misery. There are so many more chances for absolute misery in foreign cities where days are a blur of cafes and espresso and the nights fill up the darkness with music and introductions. I cannot think of anything more miserable than the memories of all those beautiful strangers who encompass but a slight moment in your life but who, during that moment, hold the essence of your soul in their arms- when we travel, it is the only time when we are who we are at that very minute, we have no history and no reputation to the people we meet, all we have to offer is the present, there is no past and no future. It has the power to turn strangers into lovers. And so I turn to wanderlust to satisfy my thirst for misery and the raw emotion that only comes from finding something spectacular that can never be mine.
We need that fix of moonlight conversations with Danish boys named Anders and Anders. We need the thrill of slipping on a pair of heels from our overflowing backpacks and doing our make-up in compact mirrors getting ready for another night. We need the rush of stolen kisses on Moscow streets and the song of foreign languages in our ears. We need the crossing of paths with our kindred friends- the ones from Australia that realize it the second you walk into the hostel and the ones in Beijing who welcome you with open arms into the story of their lives.The best part is the worst part, the goodbye. It is the most spectacular feeling because it reminds us of being human and of how time flies. What is more human than feeling the slow ache of letting someone go with the knowledge that you may never see each other again? You find yourself wishing for one more hour, one more minute. You realize how some people just fit into our stories so elegantly. And so here I am again, eager to write more into my story, into the many travel journals overflowing with receipts, mementos, slips of paper with phone numbers from across the globe carrying the hope and prospect of being used someday. Someday.
What had happened to us that we sneered at expressions of love and devoured stories of alienation and rage! Give me the hearts drawn on napkins, the men who walked on the street side of the sidewalk.
The kind that, after years have gone by, will still leave a note on your mirror; you lean in to read his flourishes and you can feel the ease of his words- When I see you, my darling, in the morning before showers or in your studio covered with paint, with hair matted and tired eyes, I know that you are the most beautiful woman in the world.
(includes excerpts from The Notebook and A Year of Pleasures)
Fashion photographer Andrea Blanch gave herself a very difficult assignment a few years ago: Go to Italy, find gorgeous men, photograph them and interview them about love and sex. The following is a quote from an interview with her:
They really know about love and seduction. They've been doing it forever. You don't really mind that it is a game because they play it so well. Once you know that's what it is, the dance is wonderful. When you don't know it's a dance, it's very dangerous. I wish there were more American men who could handle the dance.I think that when they're with you and when they're seducing you, they are totally present, their attention is with you, they're paying you compliments, pursuing you. A lot of it has to do with their narcissism -- that they want to prove to themselves they can get you; on the other hand it makes a woman feel terrific. They're not afraid of the women sexually. I've had Italian women say that Italian men are terrible lovers. Maybe when they're with a foreign women they're different. They are from a culture that really appreciates beauty. And they are very beautiful!
I have had my share of wandering in Europe, there is nothing better than those moments. This is a little description I wrote to romantasize all the little moments that seem to only happen when we are strangers in a foreign land. For many of my travelling companions, Europe was the backdrop to a love story whether short or long...
There will be twenty-four hours in Berlin. Every second will be filled with the boys of last summer and all the unanswered possibilities. Your memories become a montage of the night on a park bench in the Kreutzberg district, listening to the rattle of the S-Bahn and the beating of two hearts separated by an ocean. You are lying on the floor of his flat with five hours left in Berlin and already drowning in shots of herbal vodka he brought back from Poland. And from his stereo (or was it from his lips) slips the words 'there’s still a little bit of your song in my ear...'
There will be bottles of Chardonnay and Bordeaux scattered on the kitchen table of our Montmartre plat in Paris, remnants from the night before when all you remember are flashes of a stroll along the Seine, the blaze of cafe windows, and cocktails at La Favela Chic. Drunk on summer and the charms of Europe, we laid on the grass in front of the Eiffel tower and watched Paris become the City of Light.
There will be days beside the ocean in Lisbon and nights at clubs down by the river at the docks of Alcântara, in sequined minidresses with the sea still in our hair and the boys of the day still on our arms.They whisper sweet nothings in your ear, the city fades away, and you wish you knew Portuguese.In the end, it never matters. He turns to you and speaks an international language.
I already started doing "Romantic Snack" postings, but since I also wanted to include pretty pieces of my life into this blog, I thought I'd photograph real food too! I'm a bit of a foodie and I love to cook, but most of all eat, of course!
This week, I resolved to keep working on perfecting my sticky cinnamon bun recipe that I first saw on Oprah and have been tweaking ever since. Above are the process photos from start to finish.
I'm the kind of girl that cries during Disney movies, the kind that cannot control the tears when the Beast gives Beauty his library. I'm the kind of girl whose favorite storybook growing up was Cinderella, the kind that memorized every line when she did not even know how to read yet. I'm the kind of girl that will always believe in fairy tales, the kind that believes in happily everafter. - my own words.
"through some twist of fate we found each other. actually, you found me. you, l'étranger, settling in another city, another country. i was supposed to help, i guess that didn't pan out quite as expected...
so we met and we laughed and we shared wine and stories. and i came home with a smile and a promise we'd see each other again. soon. and we met again. and again. and we marveled at how much two lives could resemble one another with so much land between them."
I am a Canadian that should be living in Europe. I adore my other half of the apple that is currently an ocean apart from me in Italy, but next to that, I adore all things fabulous. Fabulous- days, nights, moments, people, looks, places. This blog is dedicated to all those fabulous things I come across, both locally in Canadia and from my love of travel abroad with a focus on romance, love, and happily ever afters...fare l'amore!