Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easter weekend, plus Bobby's excellent scallops

We spent 6 days in Paris for the Easter holiday, where we visited Kate and Iris, took long walks in Paris, visited our tea guy, and enjoyed many lovely meals. But before our time in Paris, we spent some time in Rennes, where we had this great view from the apartment kitchen.

One of Bobby's French colleagues showed Bobby how to open, clean, and prepare fresh scallops. So when I arrived, Bobby took me to the weekend market to buy some fresh scallops and then he show me his new kitchen skills! First we opened and cleaned the still-living scallops.
Bobby then heated a sauté pan and melted some butter.

A few cloves of garlic and a fresh chili flavored the butter.

And then the scallops were tossed in, briefly browning on each side. Once the pan was taken off the heat, Bobby added a few spoonfuls of very fresh crème fraîche and a bit of salt.
We ate the scallops directly out of the sauté pan, with some fresh bread to sop up the sauce. I was absolutely amazed with the meal Bobby prepared for us! It was so, so, so delicious. Thank you for a delicious and memorable lunch, Bobby!

After Rennes, we headed to Paris, a 2 1/2 hour train ride away. We stayed with Kate and her partner, Alexsandr. It was the first time I had met Alexsandr (Bobby had met him several weeks earlier when Bobby first arrived in France for his research trip). Aleks doesn't speak much English, and I've lost most of my French, but with Bobby and Kate as translators, we all got along famously.
Aleks has two daughters of his own. Bobby and I had a lot of fun playing with them, though we kept getting them riled up and in trouble with Kate and Aleks (I think this picture perfectly shows how we interact with the kids: lots of motion, and you're pretty sure someone is about to get hurt). Yep, we are that aunt and uncle: we love to play, someone usually ends up crying, and parents end up grounding us along with the kids. What bad influences we are!
We were fortunate enough to be in Paris on Iris' 3rd birthday! Kate bought a beautiful cake for Iris and we all sang 'Happy Birthday' to her.

Iris is growing up so much! Each time we see her, we are amazing at how much she has matured since the last time we saw her. Though she is starting to become very girly (she received several Barbies for her birthday and loves to be a princess), she still likes to rough house with Uncle Bobby.

Since Bobby and I arrived on a Wednesday, we had two days of afternoons to ourselves since Kate and Aleks had to work and Iris and the girls were in school. Bobby and I took long walks through our favorite city. We visited places we used to go to when we lived in Paris, like a great Ethiopian restaurant in the 15th and our tea guy (good old Bonthés) in the 18th. We spent time in cafés, drinking café crème or wine while Bobby sketched and I read.
Iris spent Easter weekend with her dad, and Aleks' girls were with their mother, so we had an adult weekend. Over the course of the weekend, we ate and drank a lot, played cards, and listened to music late into the night. We took a nice walk along the Seine with Kate and Aleks, then we all had a nap.

Sometimes it's nice to have an adult weekend :)

For our Easter dinner, Aleks prepared his family's recipe for leg of lamb. It was kind of nice to relax and have the boys cook dinner!

The boys did a great job and we enjoyed a really delicious lamb dinner. Thank you Kate and Aleks for a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

La belle vie en France

Bobby was working in Rennes, France for most of March. A few days before the long Easter holiday, I flew to France to spend some time with him in Rennes before we headed to Paris for the Easter holiday weekend. Bobby has been to Rennes a few times (we went together in October 2011, you can see a photo here) for work. Located in Bretagne (the same part of France as St. Malo), Rennes is basically 350 km directly west of Paris. We spent our weekend there eating, drinking, and asking ourselves why we ever left France. Below are some photos that show some of my favorite things in France... namely food  :)

Here is some beautiful cheese.

The bread. Ah, the bread!



Though winter hasn't really left Denmark (there was yet another snowstorm over the Easter weekend), spring has actually made itself known in France. I saw some daffodils in Paris, and early spring fruits and vegetables were tempting me at every turn in the outdoor markets. Bretagne is surrounded on 3 sides by the sea, so seafood is not only plentiful and delicious...

it's also cheap (at least compared to Denmark). We bought 10 of these lovely, fresh scallops for around 5€. In Copenhagen, you can buy 3 scallops for 13€.

Cured meats of every kind.

And confiture (jams and marmelades) to die for.

This is fresh sheep yogurt, which Bobby loves. We bought it from a little stall in the local weekend open market which only sold sheep milk products. To be honest, it was too strong tasting for me... kind of like licking a sheep in a poopy barn yard.

Now this stuff I could lick all day. Salt, how I love thee.

And of course, the wine. Really decent bottles of French wine can be purchased for under 10€.

Our days were divided by food and drink: breakfast (which is usually just the previous night's baguette toasted), 1st café, 2nd café, lunch, 3rd café, goûter (snack), apéro (pre-dinner drinks and appetizers), dinner and wine, and the final café. This was my goûter one day: a café creme, strawberries, and a piece of salted chocolate.

This was an apéro one evening: fresh baguette, salted butter, and local cider.

Another reason I love France: art. The art scene is lively, even in a town like Rennes. We went to a small exhibit on a Sunday afternoon and enjoyed some interesting interactive piece.

Ah France, I do so love you.