Archive for the ‘Eat Pray Whine’ Category

h1

What I Have Learned This Past Year

December 31, 2014

A forgotten wallet, coupled with our cat running at top speed out of the apartment, made me miss my bus. I was pissed. I’m in the coffee shop 15 minutes later than I normally would be and I am waiting for my coffee. In walks in Garrett McKinney. A friend I went to elementary school with. I still remember his 3rd grade birthday party when we went bowling and rode in his father’s Volkswagen Beetle. I remember the cottonwood tree in front of house. I hadn’t seen Garrett in more than a decade.

It is hard to believe that this is my 17th New Year’s reflection. I remember the reason for writing the first one. I wrote it because that year in high school my life was so very amazing (to my 15-year old self at least) that I wanted to remember it for all of time. Tragically, the first one is the only one that is lost to the bits and bytes of time and (cyber) space.

This past year we went to France, Iceland, and Monaco (though, all in the same trip). We tasted Champagne in Champagne. And Châteauneuf-du-Pape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We slept in a castle. And ate terrible (available) Chinese food (I remember most the wall of six microwaves they used to reheat the food) after visiting the Eiffel Tower. We gambled in the Monte Carlo. And ran to the Mona Lisa. In our apartment in Paris, I learned that the dishwasher and oven could be the same unit.

I will always remember the owner of the Au Lapin Qui Fume (the smoking rabbit) tease me about my French Language skills. He interrupted and quieted the entire restaurant. He told them that I would be ordering in front of them. In French. And I did. And he corrected every word I pronounced wrong.

We dealt with strikes in Iceland and almost missed our train in Paris. There were lagoons, cafes, and photos of me standing on things. There was great food and a Michelin Star. There were hounds and hounds, the occasional cat, and the truly bizarre.

And then there was a tour in Tours. When we boarded our Eurovan there were two other Americans (Andrea and Marcus) with us. We asked them where they were from and they replied, “Seattle.” After the initial shock of being from the same city and discussion of the world being incredibly small, we find out that Alex and Marcus work at the same University. We have had dinner with them a few times since April. No wonder they say it is hard to meet new friends in Seattle; sometimes you have to meet them a half a world away.

With a stroke of happenstance I found myself interviewing at two different places after our trip to France. First, my former colleague at Washington Business Week (my first job out of graduate school), introduced me to her boss who was looking for a new Major Gifts Officer. Lunch turned into a tour and into a discussion of benefits, which later turned into more interviews. Meanwhile, my former colleague at Pacific Science Center introduced me to her former boss. A phone call turned into group interviews, which turned into more group interviews. At the end of interviewing, I had run out of excuses to leaving work mid-day. And in the end of July, I started as a Major Gifts Officer at the University of Washington. It has been amazing. To Megan and Jannine, thank you so much for thinking of me. You have literally changed the course of my life for the better.

One of the reasons I left was that my good friends at the Science Center had left. Kristi (KP), who I considered one of my ‘work wives’ moved back to Minnesota after having her baby. She never came back from her maternity leave. I still remember our last coffee at work together. KP, 9-months pregnant, walking across the ponds to Starbucks on a beautiful, sunny, winter day. Alex and I had one last dinner with them in May before they headed across the country. And Jannine, who I considered a mentor, also left. Our endless conversations about nonprofits and fundraising would now have to take place over the occasional lunch.

There were many memories from this year that I will cherish.   Like visiting an old friend. Or Spending a long weekend at Lake Crescent. And another on Hood Canal. And as amazing as our meal at the Michelin starred restaurant in Paris was, it was probably the meal on Lummi Island at the Willows Inn that will be the most memorable. We popped open a bottle of Champagne (one of the 9.5 bottles we schlepped back in our luggage from France) and a 2007 K Vintners Syrah-Grenache. There was a great dinner at Loulay and a hospital stay after (ask Alex about her ruptured ovarian cyst). And a random, weird looking bug bite (ask her about that too). This past year we watched as the Sounders scored goal after goal, lifted a cup and a shield, and celebrated in complete joy for 15 minutes before our hearts were broken.

Most importantly, I think Alex and I will always remember 2014 as the year we decided to get married. We have a ring. Now I just need to pop the question. And I cannot wait to see how our wedding details will unfold.

I wrote several years ago in this reflection that friendships weave in and out along a timeline and you never know when they will intersect again. Yasmeen, a girl who lived on my floor at Morrison Hall in 2000 contacted me on Facebook. Despite us being Facebook friends and living in the same city, we hadn’t spoken in almost 13 years. We talked about our relationships and she told me about her son. And she reminded me that the first time I met her she was crying in the hallway because her boyfriend broke up with her. And I offered her a cookie. Another intersection.

Working back in the U-District is strange. It is a place where I lived and went to school for 2.5 years. And I have been spending the last 5 months revisiting my favorite places. Recently, I went back to the Mandarin Chef. The place where “Chopstick for One” was born. Where the owner knew me by name. After I ordered she gave me this knowing smile. I hadn’t been back in 8 years. And the next time I came in, she said, “Thank you Nick.”

I see Garrett a lot now in the U-District since running into him. It was probably only a matter of time until our paths intersected again. But such is life. Old friends intersecting our new lives when we least expect it. And new friends being met in a Eurovan a world away. A 7 year old Syrah-Grenache consumed during an evening, at restaurant, and with a woman, that myself 7 years ago would not have been able to comprehend or imagine. Thank you to all who made 2014 another great year. Happy New Year.

Advertisements
h1

Meal Time in France

November 9, 2014

During our trip, I took a two second video of everything I ate. I hope you enjoy.

h1

Top 10 Dishes of the Trip

June 17, 2014
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Here are my favorite dishes of our trip:

Steak Frites with a marrow boneSteak Frites with Marrow Bone at Aux Tonneaux des Halles in Paris, France. In this David Lebovitz recommended bistro, the steak was perfectly cooked and the fries were the best on the trip. The marrow bone was the perfect amount of added decadence to put this dish as number one. We ate outside and watched as our waiter got into a French-styled argument (angry whispers, finger pointing, and cursing) with a women walking her dog. Alex roughly translated the fight for me:

Waiter: “Don’t bring your dog here, this is where people are eating.”
Woman: “This place is no different than a cafe”
Waiter: “Something in French
Woman: “Something in French,” with finger pointing.
Waiter: “French cursing,”
Woman: “French cursing,” she continued her finger pointing and got right in the waiter’s face, before leaving with her dog.

Steak TartareSteak Tartare with Salad and Homemade Potato Chips at Le Bonheur Suit Son Cours in Vaison-la-Romaine, France. One of the couples at our B & B thought that this restaurant was a little “full of themselves,” because they had a very large wine list. Don’t show them the Canlis 75-page wine book. The tartare was served without egg and shallot. So the beef was the star. I scooped it up with the homemade chips.

FalafelFalafel Sandwich at L’As du Fallafel in Paris, France. Mark Bittman calls this the best falafel anywhere in Europe. Lenny Kravitz has endorsed this place. It has 4 stars through 983 Tripadvisor Reviews. And 4.5 stars through 515 Yelp reviews. It’s just pita, falafel, hummus, pickled red cabbage, salted cucumbers, fried eggplant, and spicy-hot harissa. There is always a line. But it moves fast. The Brits in front of me wanted a Sprite but got a Coke. They were too shy to correct them. I ate this under an eve while people danced in the street. With all of the hype you expect the sandwich to be underwhelming but it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.

Foie GrasFoie Gras, Cream, and Eggs at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. Three of the top ten dishes came from Au Lapin qui Fume. I don’t know if it was strictly the food or perhaps it was knowing that this was our first taste of French cuisine or maybe it being the our meal after this day but this place served some of my favorite food on the trip. This rich dish was one of my favorites. It was served with sliver slices of sweet rye bread. And when that was gone, I sopped up the rest with torn pieces of baguettes.

Chocolate BiscuitChocolate Mousse with Sweet Biscuit and Vanilla Meringue Cookies at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. This dessert featured the most intense chocolate that I have ever had. And the crunchy biscuit was the perfect pairing to go with it.

I ordered this dessert on our second time at the Au Lapin qui Fume (the only restaurant we went to twice on the trip). And the waiter/owner had been teasing me about my French the first time we went. So on the second visit, he got up, announced to the entire restaurant that I would be ordering my meal in front of them, in French. The restaurant suddenly silenced. I gulped hard. And ordered. In front of everyone. And every mistake I made he would correct me until I got it right.

CrepeReine Crêpe (ham, cheese, olives, mushrooms) at La Droguerie du Marais, in Paris France. When I got back from my France trip in 2012, I was haunted by one meal. Actually one crêpe. It was a crêpe I ordered at random place in the Marais. I didn’t know the name. Or the address. But it was one of the best crêpes I have ever had. Alex wanted to visit the Marais during our time in Paris. And when we got there, I ordered us to walk street by street in a grid until we found it. The chef lets the overflow cheese hit the crêpe iron and burn slightly. This is the key to a life changing crêpe. Alex almost fainted from hunger while waiting for hers. She admitted later that it was worth every minute she waited.

Beef Egg CrepeTimbre Poste Crêpe (ground beef, onions, potatoes, egg, swiss cheese, and cream) at Le Timbre Poste, in Tours, France. I love savory crêpes. I love runny eggs in my meals. And when I find myself in a new restaurant, I try to order the dish that they put their name on. Check, check, check. We found this place randomly walking toward old town. A group of college students sat a couple of tables over. I cut into the yolk and watched it ooze out over my crêpe. Perfect ending to a day of wine tasting.

RigatoniRigatoni with Eggplant, Sausage at La Voglia in Nice, France. Rigatoni with Eggplant and Sausage at La Voglia in Nice, France. With Nice so close to Italy, you expect some good Italian. Rick Steves said that this place serves great Italian at great prices. This is exactly what you want to hear toward the end of your trip. We sat outside engulfed in the warm Mediterranean breeze (maybe that was just the heat lamp). Two college aged girls next to us asked if they could smoke after their meal. Of course we said. The crispy bits of cheese and pasta made this dish a winner.

Strawberries Ice Cream Whipped Cream

  • Strawberries, Vanilla Ice Cream, Whipped Cream, and Shaved Almonds at Au Lapin qui Fume, in Tours France. After several bites of this dish, I claimed it was the best whipped cream I have ever tasted. Completely sober and back in the U.S.A., I still believe it. Such a simple but wonderful dish at a wonderful restaurant.

    Foie Gras ChampagneFoie Gras and Toasted Bread, at André GOUTORBE & Fils, in Damery, France. Aunt Paula asked our host if she made lunch for us. Our host laughed and said she gathered the components from local producers around the area. She did pick each element to pair perfectly with the Champagne. And it paired perfectly. This was a lunch I could do every day.

    There were other amazing dishes but these ten stand out to me.

  • h1

    Je Voudrais un Café, S’il Vous Plaît

    June 12, 2014

    I normally drink my 16 ounce, quad shot, Americano from Starbucks every morning. Add a dash of skim milk and a couple of shakes of cinnamon (for health) and I am on my way. But when in France…

    A café at the start and end of the day is perfect when traveling.

    Can you guess which one below was the most expensive? The answer is at the bottom.

    Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge

    Most expensive café was 5.50€. Located in the fourth row, the fourth one from the left (it was at the Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris). The second most expensive one was 4.50€. Located in the top right corner of the collage. It was shocking at the time but it did come with a freshly baked mini madeleine.

    h1

    My Relationship Status Over Two Years Told Through Two Photos at the Louvre Museum

    June 11, 2014
    Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge

    h1

    The Street Art of France

    June 10, 2014

    Sometimes you don’t need a museum pass to find some great art in France. You merely just need to look up, or down, or closely gaze on a random wall.

    Below is a collage of some of the stencils, tile mosaics, and other art we found in France. The Space Invaders and the C-3PO and Chewbacca are done by a secret street artist Invader. Here is more on Vote Darkside.

    Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge

    h1

    Me, Standing On…

    June 8, 2014

    In the Frankfurt airport (at least in 2012), they offer free wifi. Which is amazing. This was particularly helpful for me as I was never supposed to be in Germany. My flight from Seattle to Iceland was delayed and I missed my connection to Paris. During my trip to France in 2012, I made a choice to post photos and blog entries everyday during my journey (the photos were easy, the blog posts, well proved much more difficult to keep up on). So when I had internet, I would furiously post and caption to Facebook the day’s batch of photos.

    Well, in Frankfurt the internet was free, but only valid for 15 minutes. So as the countdown ticked to zero, I madly rushed to post and caption all of my photos from Iceland and I posted this one with the caption, “Me, standing on a rock.”

    Me, standing on a rock

    Me, standing on a rock

    And with this photo and caption I accidentally created a Nick Peyton meme of me, standing on various objects.

    Of course in 2014, I had to continue this trend. Here is a collage of me, standing on various objects and in various places.

    Click to enlarge

    Click to enlarge