Archive for the ‘Daily Life’ Category
Some “old” friends at the bus stop
So this past week, the kids started back to school. Just like all parents worldwide, I was MORE than ready for school to start. Even though they had an abbreviated summer because of the different school calendars in Ireland and the US, they were well ready too. Ready to see old friends, ready to buy fresh supplies and ready, as the 8yr old said, “to maybe even make some new friends”. One of the joys of being a kid is that the same person can actually be an old friend AND a new friend. Three months is a long time when you are a kid. It’s almost like dog years. I’m not even sure why we don’t count it this way. “How old is little Jimmy?”, “Why, he’s 4. But that’s in human years. In kid years, he’s 37, of course.” And the other parent would nod knowingly. Because they change that much in a very small space of time. If 3 months is a long time to a kid, imagine what 2 years is like. This is the amount of time we have been gone from the States and from our neighbourhood school. As we started the school year up and the kids began meeting their teachers and seeing their classmates for this year, I realized that we were having a totally different time experience. To me, 2 years flew by and it’s almost like we never left. I see the same parents in the classroom, the same teachers in the hallways, and to me the same kids, albeit bigger than they were when we left. But to the kids, they all seem like strangers for the most part. If not all together strangers, then distant acquaintances that they maybe met at party a while back and just can’t place. Two years is a HUGE percentage of their life and the younger they are, obviously, the bigger it is. For the 6 year old, it was 1/3 of his life so far. He was four when we left. And even though he has a girl in his class this year that he spent ages 0-4 with in daycare, he can’t even remember her name each day. I’ll say, “How was SoandSo? Was she at school today?”. He looks at me blankly and says, “I don’t even know who that is, Mom. ” He might was well add “Duh!” in there at the end, because he is clearly thinking it. For the older two, they do remember a few key friends, but even those have changed and aged and seem new and exciting. Which is a good thing, I guess. I was worried about it all being a let-down for them after the excitement of being expat kids. But so far it’s been great. And weirdly familiar. Kind of like an cocktail party for Alzheimer patients. “You’re a handsome devil. What’s your name?”…….
1st Day of school 2013-2014 (Look how dark it is! It’s EARLY!)
OK. So the title of this entry may be slightly confusing. J It’s not about waiters in Europe and their post-modern interpretation of the influence that flan has had on the economic collapse of the west. It is far more sophisticated than that. To dive a bit deeper we ask the questions: “Where is the best flan in the world?”, and “Who exactly do older European male waiters think I am!!??”
On our first article I need to perform a deep dive, and study at length my feelings about flan. It’s my favorite desert……. Now that we’ve gotten through the detailed analysis we can get into defining a great flan. Let’s start with the basics from Wikipedia:
Crème caramel (French: [kʁɛm kaʁaˈmɛl]), flan
[flɑ̃], or caramel custard is a custard
dessert with a layer of soft caramel on top, as opposed to crème brûlée, which is custard with a hard caramel top. The dish is eaten throughout the world.
So, that is the simplest definition of flan. As a Flan aficionado, a title not self-proclaimed but rather bestowed upon me by an esteemed member of the food and beverage industry (a waitress), I have a far stricter criteria for flan. The significant variables within the flan tend to be in three areas: creaminess, caramel flavor and gelatinous quality (does it jiggle and wiggle). It is through these primary qualities that I have developed my own system known as “FLAPaMS”, or the Flan Performance and Measurement System.
I’ve been eating flan for a very long time and am sad to say that only now have I decided this is my true legacy; TO FIND THE PERFECT FLAN! Had I chronicled all the flan I had eaten to date I would have a much more robust remembrance of my flan trail blazing. There have been some memorable flan however so here are some examples:
- Fernando’s Hideaway – Portland Oregon – United States
- Eclipse Di Luna – Atlanta, Georgia – United states (I once went in, and ordered an entire pan of flan by itself)
- Boulevar 64 – Salamanca neighborhood, Madrid – Spain
From now on I will catalog my adventures in flan and look into building our my FLAPaMS model in order to begin the arduous but enjoyable task of eating flan everywhere it is available. J Not saying I will abstain from any other desserts mind you! In the mean time, let us not forget:
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts. Coincidence? I think not!
A whole delicious week away in Italy with my husband and without the kids? What more could a girl ask for? We decided to have a holiday in September this year to try and avoid the insanity of August that exists on any European coastline from Brighton to Athens. We love Italy and had an amazing time in Rome in the spring. This time we decided to check out the Amalfi Coast. (John did keep trying to re-route our trip through Rome, just to eat at our favourite place there.) Fly direct into Naples, then spend 3 nights in Sorrento and 5 nights in Positano. We arrived on a gorgeous blue-sky day, the kind that makes you forget why you were every stressed or worried about anything. I mean, really! Have another vino and enjoy la dolce vita!
Sorrento is a gorgeous little town set on top of a sheer cliff wall, above the Bay of Naples. What it lacks in big-ticket site-seeing items it makes up for in sheer charm. The little narrow streets leading out in big,big views was always amazing and surprising. We had a charming little hotel, just on the edge of the main city, between the Marina Piccolo and the Marina Grande. The irony is that the “big” marina is actually little and the “little” one is big. How very misleading and confusing and well….Italian of them! The hotel had a lovely view from the restaurant on top, where breakfast was served every morning and you could also have a drink at night. We did this the first night before venturing off and eating in the garden of a restaurant in the town center, seated underneath an ancient Roman arch. After that first night, we decided that it was our moral imperative to have a drink each night at a different rooftop bar. There was no shortage to choose from and we could’ve done this for two weeks at least without repeating, if we had been staying that long.
One of the best restaurants we ate at was L’Antica Trattoria, (http://www.lanticatrattoria.com/) . It was one of the few we tried that did not have a view, but the Trip Advisor reviews were so glowing that we had to give it a go. It was definitely an amazing meal and the familial yet professional service was lovely. An older Italian gentleman in a dark suit, obviously well-fed from his own restaurant, served as our host and waiter. At one point he wordlessly pressed a beautiful flower onto the side of my wine glass. At the end of the meal, when John protested that he could not eat the last bite of his dessert, the gentleman took a spoon, filled it from the remnants on the plate and promptly popped it into John’s mouth, with a very self-satisfied air.
While we spent most of the evenings wandering from view to view and fabulous meal to the next, the days were all spent on the water. While there is no beach to speak of, they have overcome that ingeniously with a series of beach clubs: manmade structures jutting out into the ocean, with lounge chairs, changing rooms, and chair-side service. We made use of these each day, only rousing ourselves for the occasional dip or for lunch in the club’s open air restaurant.
After three lovely nights of Sorrento and all her charm (I can see why William Waldorf Astor built his home there when he was US ambassador to Italy. See http://www.sanctuare.com/RMI_frame/new/Countries/Europe/tritone.php for some amazing drool-worthy photos. You can rent it! Invite me if you do.), it was time to move onto Positano. We were excited to head there as we had heard so many good things and we figured if we loved Sorrento, then Positano was REALLY going to knock our socks off. Plus, while our Sorrento hotel was lovely, we had gotten a last minute deal on the room. It turned out to be the cupboard under the stairs, more or less. John barely fit into the shower. So, we were looking forward to a bit more luxury in Positano.