The Chocolate Cake!

Heya!

I have an interview tomoz for the dreamt position in the dreamt city – I am so stressed out right now, all I can think about is how much I’d like to have a piece of that enormous cake we made last Sunday… or two… or all that is left! Alvaro, my roomie said ‘La mejor tarta de mi vida, te lo prometo!!’

IMG_20130428_214438It was just a plain chocolate cake really, it tasted awesome to be honest, but I think it was thanks to the amount of sweets we put in it…

Basically, we cut the chocolate cake in half so we’d have two layers, between the layers we made a basic cream cheese/icing sugar frosting. We added pieces of Schokobon and stracciatella. Then we covered the cake with the same frosting, springled the stracciatella and Schokobon on the top, and Voila!

I love to bake, but where I am right now, I have not a single electrical kitchen appliance (I don’t even have a boiler, what is wrong with this country??) and it limits consistently the variety of things I can make… What I dream of right now, is a lemon meringue pie but can’t beat the eggs white so…. **sugar craving**

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

xx

M.

PS excuse the quality of the photo. I love my phone, but really it is absolutly unable to pick up any proper light, everything looks pale and grey… One day I’ll get an iphone as well…

Advertisements

Weekly Photo Challenge: culture

Hello!

A new challenge for this week: culture!

I have travelled in a few different countries by now, but they are what I’d call safe destinations. The culture was basically similar to mine, however, when I travelled to NZ, I came accross the Maori culture, which were the original people before it the first settlers came upon it.

The origins of the Maories can’t be found -you’ll find a LOT of theories around it- but they are nowadays a very respected part of NZ – unlike the aborigenals in Australia. A maorie woman tried to teach us some words one day, but the only thing I could manage was Kia Ora… I am fascinated by their tattoes, some of them have their faces completly covered with ink, including women. Here are just a few photos from when we visited one of the historic villages in Rotorua.

xx

M

Travel theme: Light

Perfect topic for this week, proposed by where is my backpack? Exactly what I need, in this dark week end of SNOW and studying… How is it that we went from 25° sunshine, to freezing cold and snow? Damned I want Spring!

Anyway, let’s take a little tour… I don’t know why, thinking of lights, it immediatly came up to my mind night scenes… Here are few examples of night photos taken while travelling, the game of lights will never cease to amaze me.

I hope everyone had a great week end, I was supposed to work, work, work and I worked a little and baked an enormous 2 layers chocolate cake, with cream cheese frosting, stracciatella and schokobon…

xx

M.

The road is where my heart is

IMGP1701Who has ever been on the Great Ocean Road? That will be my last post for Victoria! So many more things I whish I had seen when there, especially the penguins parade at Phillip Island. But I guess I’ll have to come back no?

This 243km road, following the coast, goes from Warrnambool to Torquay. When we took the car from Melbourne, it was raining so bad we decided to drive all the way to Port Campbell and do it backwards.

  • Port Campbell and the shipwreck coast: a tiny little village principally populated by tourists… We booked a room when we arrived, in what seemed to be a nice little studio type of room, 4 beds and a bathroom. I forced my parents to take it, my mom thought it a bit dingy, and I just wanted to prove her that cheap didn’t mean shit. However, when the night fell, it appeared a few (soooo many) worms on the walls YUUUUK no?? I freaked out obviously, (it was the early early days of my life on the road hahaha) and made my dad sleep in the bunk beds close to the wall while I shared the big bed with mom. Don’t worry they’re still giving me some shit about it! Anyway, my point is: the 12 Apostles! The London Arch! When you’re down on the beach, surrounded by the huge cliffs that’s when you realized how little and insignificant you are… That part of the coast is completly wrecked, you’re far above sea level, it’s highly picturesque.

    My first Apostle!

    My first Apostle!

  • Appollo Bay, Lorne, Anglesea: that part is much more of a holiday destination. Long white sand beaches, golf clubs, nice little places to eat etc. That’s also the part of the road where you’ll see the koalas! I can’t remember exactly where (although it is EXACTLY where Lonely Planet says it is), I just know that it’s on that part of the road that leaves the coast to go inland, through the gum trees. If you see some cars stopped right in the middle of the road with people staring above, then the koalas are not too far!! Such cute animals! Did you know they have a brain the size of a chestnut? Because the eucalyptus is so toxic that it takes so much energy to digest, the specie had to sacrifice the brain to facilitate the digestion… As well, koala means in aborigenal ‘no drinks’ for Koalas are one of the only animal that don’t drink any water.

    Natural sleeping position

    Natural sleeping position

  • Torquay: The home of all things surf!! Where Rip Curl was created. That was my favorite part of the road. We went for a stroll at sunset to Bells Beach, which is the beach where they have all the big surfing competitions. Wow, have I ever seen a beach that small?? It was sunset, it was warm, we could see all the surfers waiting for the wave down  the cliffs, it just seemed to me like perfection. We had a great dinner at that restaurant on the esplanade that I can’t remember the name, broke our bank accounts at Rip Curl, had breakfast by the beach, and tanned all afternoon. Just my kinda life!

    Torquay

    Torquay

Just so you know, the Apostles are slowly falling, I believe there a 6 of them left, so you’d better hurry and have a look!

I hope you all have a great week end! Spring is already over here, we had the worst hailing storm ever and I will spend my week end stuck inside working. Who knew homework still existed in Uni?? I didn’t! Had to wait for my last semester ever to find out!

Cheers!

M.

PS you can click on the pics to make them full screen

And the wine tasting begins…

IMG_20130420_183252

Just doing a bit of shopping now…

So the visit of Zamora was just a small part of our day, the whole purpose of the trip was just to eat and drink really ;). And that’s what we did. All day.

We started with a first ‘bodega‘, in the Toro wine region specialised in red vino Tinto. This winery was Liberalia, owned by a mad Spanish man, who plays the violin to his grapes and classical music to the wine resting in the barrels – he firmly believes it makes the wine taste better (I say it’s worth a shot!). It’s a very new estate, created in 2000, and it’s basically a big stone shed in the middle of the vineyard. The visit was fun and interesting, thanks to the owner, who is passionate about what he does, an ‘artist’ as he calls himslef (I call him a lunatic!). We had a tasting in the winery, and by tasting I mean that he poured each of us a HUGE glass of white wine (delicious!), then another one of red tinto… He left the carafes on the table so we could finish them…

Oh, and one thing we finally realized (three months that I’ve been here) that white wine is cheaper than soda! So hem… it was hot… sort of… and we’re poor students…

A second visit was organized in the arvo, at Vega Sauco, a very different bodega, although as well a family-owned business. In both wineries, the owner was working with their daugthers, which made me realize that maybe, my dad should have let me a chance. Anyway, it is interesting as well to know that for both wineries, more than 80% of their production is exported, which is apparently the only reason why they are surviving the crisis. They are also very proud as Mr Robert Parker (he MUST be quite the man in the american critic industry, have you ever heard of him?) had come to Toro last year, and made amazing reviews of their wines. Oh, and another funny fact, is that in the first winery they displayed of photo of Pope Jean Paul II holding a bottle of their wine, and Vega Sauco’s Adoremus red wine was Jean Paul II’s favorite. They were very proud of having had such a customer – as far as I am concerned that red wine was amazingly strong I could barely swallow it!

_IGP8904Anyway, long story short! We had dinner in a lost village called El Perdigon (780 inhabitants), and the peculiarity of the place are the tiny little hobbit houses, that were in fact the entrance to the underground cellars that almost every family owns. It must be an amazing network of tunnels under there! Los Yugos, is an underground restaurant, and for some reason it made me think of the red room of pain when I first entered… Their specialty is BBQ meat – my favvvvvv – and what an abundance we had! Chorizo, pancetta, pork ribs, bread, red wine! The owner is a bit of a ‘special man’ as David – our guide – warned us. ‘Girls, if he draws you a penis, please don’t be offended – he’s very … old Spanish culture… What American girls would call creepy… You’ll see what I mean’. He went to all the tables to ask who loved chorizo. If you’d say yes, he would bring a plate of chorizo in the shape of a penis… He also introduced us to Pépé, his wine jar in the shape of a penis… Weird no?

To digest, they brought us the chupitos (shots) with a bottle of manzana and one of herbal licor (the real deal). It was so much fun to be honest, I’d definitly recommend that place to anyone!

I loved them wine tasting days! However this week end is studyiiiiiing… Thank god it’s already Friday!

Cheers!

M.

A day in Zamora

Hello!

BeFunky__IGP8820Last Saturday, we went to the beautiful region of Zamora and Toro, for a wine tasting tour. I will make another post on the wine tasting part, but first I’d like to talk about the city of Zamora.

The city is a bit bigger than Salamanca, but it has the feeling of a peaceful village. It was very VERY quiet when we were there, yet it was the week end… Aparently nearly 100% of the youngsters will leave Zamora after they’ve finished high school and stay in Salamanca during their studies.

The architecture is completly different from Salamanca, the buildings have much more colors, you’ll find lots of green spaces and trees in the city center. Plaza Mayor is also shaped differently, it is sort of a big circle with a big church in the middle so you can’t really see the other side.

Our guide, David, told us all the stories about Zamora. For instance, how ‘wifi was invented in Zamora’. Haha good one!! I have heard a tour guide in NZ claim that wifi was invented in NZ… The history of Zamora is far more interesting, they used to be the neutral point, or the border if you want, between the catholics and muslims and many fights have taken place in the region during the ‘reconquista‘ (XVth century). David kept talking about this ‘El Cif’ that everyone must have heard of, telling us all about his battles and his braveness and showing us his old house. Eventually it hit me, that he was actually talking about El CID, goddam Spanish accent! El Cid was able to kill hundreds of soldiers in a battle, on his own. He was as well the only one capable of winning a battle when dead… He was actually killed in a battle with the muslims. The Spanish, desperate without their best asset, decide to put him back on his horse, with a piece of wood against his back to make him stand straight – can only be desperation!! They tied his sword to his hand and used another piece of wood to make him look like he was holding his weapon forward. They kicked his horse who went running to the enemy lines. Thinking it could only be a ghost, for El Cid sure was dead, the ‘Moros‘ fled away and let the Spanish won the battle of Zamora. The city is full of little stories like that, that’s always my favorite part about visiting European cities.

David took us to the Tapas neighborhood for lunch. It’s always hard for us foreigners to tell what will be a good tapas bar, because usually from the outside they look like very cheap places, very plain and boring. However, if when you open the door, the crowd inside stop talking, start staring at you in a very unpleasant and impolite manner, and you suddenly feel like you don’t belong in here, this is the place! It means it’s only Spanish inside and it must mean the food is good! We picked one, every where inside I could see signs for the ‘sangria de sidra‘, so of course I ordered one to try it, and they wouldn’t serve it to me. That is one thing you have to be prepared for in Spain, the unpleasantness of the locals towards foreigners. I have somehow a Spanish look, so usually when I get in a shop, or bar the waiter will come to me, but as soon as I open my mouth, half of the time I know there will be no for an answer. Or half of my order will be missing. If I ask for aioli dipping I’ll get mayonnaise. It’s highly annoying, but that’s how it is. We had a pleasant lunch and that’s all that matter.

They say Zamora region is the poorest of Spain, and the city is full of signs For Sale, or shops closed. As soon as you get out of Zamora, there is nothing, a few farms scattered and completly abandonned. Spain is having it hard these days and the rural areas are nearly third world countries. Pretty sad because what a gorgeous landscape.

Definitly Zamora is worth a trip. If the sun is shining, you’ll wish you have more time to see it. Hope you enjoy the pictures, I’m in love with the sky we had that day, but don’t get fooled, it was freezing…

Cheers,

M.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

IMG_20130315_104511

I go to school at least twice a day during the week, and well let’s face it, after the first week, it started getting really broing!!

I found myself looking up a few times and it’s actually amazing the things we see! When I cross Plaza de las Agustinas there is this church with a big dome. I still don’t know the name of the church – I like to call it “the big dome with the storks on top of it ” (it could pretty much describe every church in Salamanca!) but I will find out someday! Anyway, I don’t know why but when it’s sunny, there is always this strange hallow of light around it. It probably comes from the tiles of the roof, but that day it had been raining and the dome was surrounded by a rainbow. I have so many pictures just like that one, but this one is definitly my favorite, it looks like it just came out of my dreams.

I hope you all had a great week end, can’t believe Monday is already here!

xx

M.

Wine is bottled poetry

Happy beggining of week end!

We all have an image of Australia in our head, and it usually involves a beach, a wave, and the sunshine. However today, I want to talk about a lesser known side of Australia : the Inland. In fact, Australia has so much to offer it would be quite wrong to reduce it to just surf and kangaroos.

So let me take you on a journey through the wine regions of Victoria! Being French, I had this conviction that all things wine can only be French, and the rest well… it was just a mere copy of what we could do. That is what I call ignorance because I’ve never learnt to love wine and wine regions as much as I did in Australia – and I have been born and raised in a vineyard… I had the opportunity to visit quite a few estates during my year in Oz, and I want to share today my favorite ones.

To start, of course the Yarra Valley. That’s where all the big names of the wine industry can be found, in the state of Victoria. You can find very very different things and two of them have really struck my mind:

-Yering Station : (or Yarra Yering? Havent really figured out why it was never called with the same name) the estate can boast a hotel, a gourmet store, a cellar door, a restaurant, a magnificent garden, and a view on the Valley. You can also request that they pick you up from Melbourne with their helicopter but whatever, your choice! I looooved the cellar door! You need to go through the gourmet store to get to it, it is like an ‘underground’ ‘grunge’ type of place, with funny art paintings on the wall. Great wines as well.

-Tarrawara Estate: beautiful, beautiful property! A proper winery, very classy with a gourmet restaurant and an art gallery inside. I particularly liked the gardens/vineyard.

 

Further north, you will find the beautiful wine region of the King Valley, the home of the iconic Brown Brothers. I spent an entire day there, enjoying the vineyards, a wine tasting and a gourmet lunch at their Epicurean Center. The property is huge, but they treat their guests in a very friendly way, and the region itself is gorgeous.

 

Hard not to mention the Mornington Peninsula… This wine region is a bit far from Melbourne, the ideal is to make it a two day trip really. To me, it was Australian gorgeouness at its best: the gum trees, the dry dirt, the blue sky and the sun shine. I visited Red Hill Estate, boasting the “best view for a vineyard” and did it blow my mind! The winery/restaurant is so cute, from the restaurant you have a view on the lawn area, then the vineyard which falls into the ocean. You can enjoy a nice picnic sipping their wines on the lawn, do a tasting or settle for a delicious meal made all with local produces, believe me you’ll have an amazing day! You will have to excuse me if some of the photos are a bit ‘fuzzy’, the truth is, they had me do the whole wine tasting experience, and well… too much wine for me I guess!

 

Doesn’t it make you want to go on a wine tour now? I am myself taking off for a wine tasting day in Zamora/Toro tomorrow, I am so exited!

Have a great week end,

M.

Las Arribes del Duero

first

 

 

Let me take you on a journey through Espana’s beautiful lanscape…

 

Last sunday, the town of Mieza (according to Wikipedia, population: 428) organized the XVIII Marcha de Senderismo ‘Las Arribes del Duero’. It was a very random decision that we took to participate, but I love a good hike and we just could not let go of such an amazing weather! I mean… you never know… it could have been the only day…

We took a bus from Salamanca at 8:30 in the morning. Two buses had especially been fetched for the occasion. Mieza, it is the smallest little village ever not too far from the border with Portugal. When we got out of the bus it felt like we had actually travelled in time back to 100 years ago. That’s only then that I noticed this old grandpa naturally riding his donkey on the road… I’ve seen about three of them like this, so I just deduced it must be the latest in terms of transportation means on this side of the world ;). However, there was about 1000 people that day to take the hike, and the little village was undergoing the biggest animation ever!

It took us a bit more than three hours to complete the 11km hike in the ‘bush’, mainly due to the fact that the narrow path created a bit of “traffic”. What an amazing feeling to be hiking the moutains again (well, they call it mountains, but after New Zealand I like to think it was just a big hill, I mean it did not even HURT my legs)! A bit further than half way through, some people from the ‘city council’ were waiting for us with a bottle of water and an orange for each of us. The oranges were locals and no need to say how yuuuuuuuuummy they were… At km 5, a man was standing there, an old man from the village, playing the saxophone for the hikers. How cool??

When we finally reached the end, we could already smell the barbecue. I just loooooove barbecues, they prepared us so much meat (bacon, chorizo, porc ribs, etc), along with a piece of cheese, a piece of bread, an orange and this special cookie from Salamanca, named ‘peronilla‘, and of course a glass of local Rose wine… We layed in the grass, taking the sunshine, our stomach full, with the sound of the kids playing around. I think that’s called happiness. We had such a view on the Duero river from the picnic place! Another old man (I haven’t seen anyone in this village looking less than 75 years old) was playing the drum and special Spanish flute, and people started dancing the traditional Spanish dances… Back at the village was waiting for us a ‘local band’ meaning devoted to traditional Spanish music. Some people were dancing, others enjoying their wine chatting with friends, it was just one big party day for Mieza!

 

The entire day was so perfectly organized by the town of Mieza, it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. Finding myself in nature again, with no sounds but the flies and the birds, it felt like I was alive again.

Cheers,

M.

Travel theme: benches

Hello!

According to Where is my backpack?, this week is all about benches : “Every park bench has a story to tell and when I see one, I can’t help dreaming up a history”. Yes, benches have a lot of story to tell and today, I have one for you.

gary's girlfriend This bench is located by the little beach in Fremantle, Australia, and it has a statue of a fat woman wearing a tiny bikini seating on it. I never knew her any name, and we never got around to find one for her, but for me she’ll always be “G’s girlfriend”.

As I mentionned to G. a few days after we met that I was leaving Perth to try living in Fremantle he said: “I love Freo, I have to introduce you to my girlfriend’. And there she was, gorgeous beach babe on his phone! Little did I know then what she would mean to me in the next few weeks and how much comfort she would give me as came the time of goodbyes.

G. came down to Freo to visit me the very day I left Perth and as we were randomly walking around town, we ended up facing her and we sat with her chatting for a while, his hand on her breast the whole time (don’t ask why but if you knew the amount of people I have seen with their hands on her boobs!).

G. left the next day, three weeks working up North and I would often come accross her on my way to the beach. I would send him photos of her, being patiently waiting for him to come home. But he came back to me, and we ditched her for the pier, desperatly waiting for the dolphins to come by… Eventually he had to resume work, our lives like this for a wee while, on and off…

The last time he came to visit me, we went to the little beach, had a chat with her and that’s when she became the statue of my broken heart. As I let G. go that day, and the world kept on turning as if he never happened she was the only thing, that one piece of evidence that he happened to me.

My very last day in Freo, I went to bid my farewell to her. I sat on the bench, but she said nothing, we did not need too, the two of us tearing up for the same man who never would be bound to anyone or anything. The tears I had proudly held back all day started to overflow all over my face and I had to go, but as I left and looked back at her it seemed to me she was saying: “don’t worry I’ll be here, when he comes back I’ll tell him you came”.

Today, G. has left Australia for four months already and I have for eight months. Time flies and we all get caught up in the flow of our little lives, but she is still there, quietly waiting for him to come back, and at least her, she has the chance of being his girlfriend for always.

Love

M.