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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

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Two weeks ago, to the day, I was in Budapest.  It was glorious.  Despite all the traveling I’ve done, this was my first foray into what I always considered Eastern Europe and I loved it.  Budapest is a beautiful city, a delight to walk about with interesting architecture, delicious 100-year-old coffeehouses and a wonderful history tinged with the smallest hint of WWII melancholy.  I was traveling with two friends and we did all the things you’re supposed to:  visiting historic sites like the Parliament Building and various monuments and markers, took a good soak in the Szechenyi public baths amongst their bright yellow ornate wedding cake-like buildings and paying proper respects at all the requisite churches and synagogues.  But I made sure to squeeze in some of the things I do every time I travel – at least one market visit and some intense pastry research.  There even was a trip to an outdoor museum that houses sculptures from the former communist regime.  You have to get a little bit of historic communist propaganda in while visiting Eastern Europe.

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Until this weekend, I had been morel foraging exactly once and planned to keep it that way.  I was visiting family in Southern Indiana around Easter time and my rather eccentric uncle decided it would be a great idea to trapsaise around the woods looking for elusive fungi.  For 5 hours we tromped up and down hills and ravines, half bent over looking for things that closely resembled the forest floor.  It was cold, damp and generally miserable and my uncle pushed us on and on, long past the time I was ready to call it quits and head in for a beer. When all was said and done, the lot of us had found exactly 6 mushrooms, one of which I discovered the moment before I stepped on it.  This was supposed to be fun?

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Last year, about this time, I did a real jackass kind of thing. I invited myself along on someone else’s vacation. It was St. Patrick’s Day, we’d been enjoying all that Chicago has to offer on a gorgeous, unseasonably warm 70 degree day where everyone is Irish. My friends mentioned they were going to Napa and asked for recommendations. I then say “What? I’m going with you! You need me with you! I know people.” Obnoxious, right? I immediately apologized the next day and gave them an out, which they declined and invited me along anyway. That’s good friends for you.

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I’ve always wanted to visit Scandinavia. I knew I’d get there at some point, the opportunity just hadn’t presented itself.  Yet.  Then during a trip to Napa Valley last June, there is was, right in front of me.  After many, many glasses of wine my friend Rachel leaned across the bar and said “Kathy, you have to come to the wedding.”  “Of course!” I replied, “I’m game for a road trip to Iowa!”  She looked at me, dead serious, and said “No, it’s in Sweden.  On Thanksgiving.”  “Wait …what?”  “Yep, Sweden. In the town my mother grew up in. Höör.”  And that my friends, is how I came to find myself in Sweden, in late November, in a curiously named town, in a tiny country church built in 1727 witnessing two friends tie the knot and enjoying a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner at the reception.  You can’t make this stuff up.

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I spent my first weekend in France baking bread, which was fitting.  I was surrounded by freshly harvested fields of wheat, as well endless vistas of fruit trees, corn, sunflowers and vegetable farms as far as the eye can see.  It’s a stunning part of the country and  it makes me want to bake.  My friend Kate had scheduled a bread workshop for a few students with the esteemed Emmanuel Hadjiandreou, instructor at The School of Artisan Food in Nottinghamshire, England.  Emmanuel (or Em, as we would call him), his young son Noah and a colleague, David showed a group of us the finer points of making, kneading and baking the staff of life.  I was especially looking forward to working with levains or natural starters.

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My apologies for the radio silence.  Despite my best intentions to get posts ready before getting out of Dodge, nothing is quite done.  I’ve got a queue of half written posts – good ones too – unedited photography and a whole lot of crap to sort through.  I just haven’t gotten to it.  Fact is, I’m in France.  Doing everything and nothing at the same time.

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Two weekends ago, I had the brilliant idea to take the last flight to New York City after teaching two classes for the sole purpose of meeting friends for dinner the next day. They were attending the IACP conference and while I didn’t get my act together in time to attend myself, I figured if everyone was congregating in one place, then I should be there too. When Camont alumni gather, you go. It was a good decision; I saw a lot of friends, met some new ones that I’ve only known through Twitter and over the course of two days I ate. A lot. You just don’t get a bunch of food people together without a little nosh of some sort.

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