Thursday, 29 January 2015

Baking: Mama's Walnut Pie

It was a colleague's birthday and I wanted to bring something sweet, as well as savoury. I had recently been to a restaurant where they served me walnut pie. It reminded me of Mum because her pie is the best.

  • Butter crust pastry
  • 120g walnuts
  • 30g brown sugar
  • 1/2 C golden syrup (or honey)
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs
  • (optional) 30g coconut powder
Lay the butter crust into your pie tin, cover with baking paper and bake for 15 minutes at 170 degrees Celsius. Mix all the other ingredients, pour it into the pre-baked pastry, then bake for another 20 minutes or so. 

I couldn't find golden syrup at home so used honey instead. This is such an easy recipe. It doesn't require many things nor does it take too long to bake. I'm still in the process of getting to know the oven in my new home (the door doesn't shut fully), but people seemed to like the pie, thankfully :)

Monday, 26 January 2015

Gelato place: Gelateria del Teatro

When in Rome, get some gelati. No matter what the weather. Even in winter. Even in the drizzles. No excuses. Get some freaking good gelati when you can. In chocolate, pistachio, amaretto, hazelnut. Choose the classic flavours. Try the wild ones. Rice is one I loved, though you can't get it everywhere. Savour the tastes. You are in Rome. It's gelato time.

Gelateria del Teatro
Via dei Coronari, 65
Lungotevere dei Vallati, 25

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Trip plans: Day trips from Bordeaux

It's been six months since I've arrived in the South West of France, already, and there are still quite a few places I haven't yet been to, but need to.

  • Arcachon
  • Cap Ferret
  • Dune du Pylat
  • Lourdes
  • Biarritz
  • Blaye
  • Cognac
There are so many!

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Let's learn French: French TV series

I feel lost when searching for good French TV series to help me improve my French listening.

I tried listening to radio stations, but they usually play familiar songs in English most of the time, or debate about the politics and cultures that can be difficult to follow without the visual aid.

Films and documentaries are all good, but at times you just don't want have two-three hours to sit down and concentrate, you know?

So, TV series. For those wanting to improve their English, TV series are great. There are so many to choose from. Mostly American, but still. Many have told me TV series helped them the most when it came to improving their English language skills. Plus, they are short, so you could catch a quick episode just before going to bed, or whatever.

Unfortunately, there aren't as many to select from when it comes to French TV series. I find that they show many American series that have been dubbed, here on French TV. Like Friends. How I Met Your Mother. American Dad.

The French TV shows I watch (when I do watch TV):
  • Friends, dubbed
  • Un gars, une fille - my housemate looks like Jean Dujardin
  • Touche pas à mon poste ! - it's a talk show, with a bit of humour, and culture. It's the only thing on on evenings during dinnertime
  • Various other talk shows and news channels
On my iPad, I sometimes watch:
  • Elementary, dubbed
  • Enquête exclusive / Zone interdite - similar to 60 minutes, these are reportages on various issues
I was on the lookout for something similar to Un gars, une fille, when my friend T's younger sister introduced me to Foudre. It's a teenage drama series, 23 minutes each, following an 18 year old boy as he falls in love with a mysterious New Caledonian girl.. It's short, it's silly, and doesn't require much thinking. It's perfect. 

When looking for TV series to improve your French, why not try asking a younger friend? They are likely to watch more TV. C, at 14, certainly does. Merci, C, pour ta suggestion !

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Vote for Bordeaux, the best European destination

For Europe's Best Destination 2015,  I'm voting for Bordeaux, my current hometown.

I've lived in several cities around the world - Paris, Auckland, Christchurch, Melbourne, Seoul - and visited many more, but Bordeaux I'm really loving right now. I really wouldn't mind staying put in this charming city for a few years, and that from me is a real big deal!

Vote for the best European destination - Europe's Best Destinations

(Photo credit: European Best Destinations site)

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Do I really need to buy that?

The big sale season has well started in France, and I am finding myself deeply torn between the desire to buy something on bargain and my mantra to own as little as possible.

I already own a lot more than can be packed into my 23kg bag, now. Way more shoes than I'd normally carry around the world with me, way more makeup than I'd ever indulged myself with. Do I really need that dress, those shoes? Where is this inner pressure coming from?

There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, though not entirely girly and feminine, necessarily. Maybe it has something to do with the desire to break out from the monotonous black and neutral outfits I seem to be sticking to?

Wear more of what you have, or replace what you don't wear anymore, but please don't add more to your collection, if at all possible, I tell myself.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Turkey Day 8: Tips for travelling in Turkey

  • Slip on shoes. Easy to put on and take off, it is best to avoid chunky heels or boots when travelling in Turkey. As well as speeding up the time spent in airport security lines, Turks normally leave their shoes by the door before entering their homes in socks. This goes for the pensions.
  • Prayer calls five times a day. Do not be surprised to be woken up in the early hours of the morning by the chants rising and ringing through of your Turkish city. After awhile, you will get used to them. Some mosques use pre recorded chanting prayer calls. Others will be live.
  • Have a few spare coins handy. In case you need to use the toilets, where you are likely to be charged entrance fees of 1 Lira. Be aware that squat toilets are the norm here, especially in smaller villages. I do not like squatting, but when there are no other options available, what can you do. Better carry a hand sanitiser, too, just in case.
  • Turks love teas. There are tea houses everywhere. Enjoy them!

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