Sunday, May 22, 2011

Europe in May

I think my heart broke when my flight left Budapest, the end of my 2 week vacation in Europe. As the plane took off, I shut my eyes, squeezed my hands into fists and imagined my favorite moments: dragging crusty bits of baguette through seaweed butter, sipping rose by the Vltava river watching the sun make its way to the other side of the world, dozing off while sunbathing at the Gellert Baths, and sharing every beautiful and crazy moment with my travel friend.

It has been my dream for the last two years to go to Europe, namely Paris. Just following blogs by David Lebovitz, Chocolate and Zucchini and The Wednesday Chef who have written so much about the splendors of the beautiful city made me want to see and taste as much of it as my belly could handle. I imagined bakeries at every block, each one offering a dizzying array of baguettes, quiches, pastries and cookies. I yearned to walk down cobblestone streets neatly lined with tall trees. I ached to smear camembert onto toasts and sip wine in cafes. Cliché as it sounds, but Paris to me was a place shrouded in mystery, kind of like that mystical place that you wonder through in your blurry dreams with curiosity and excitement, each corner awaits a surprise.

That curtain of mystery has finally been lifted. The bread—fabulous. That crusty chewy texture that I crave for never failed to disappoint me.

The ice cream is to die for; intense in flavor, generous in portions and thanks to David's suggestions, I visited the best gelato shops (Here's Berthillon's gelato: to the left, raspberry and mandarin orange-peeking out on the bottom. Praline aux amandes and cappuccino on the right).

Paris is truly romantic. The Seine flows quietly in the heart of the city, there were always small groups of friends sitting by the water sharing a smoke and catching up.

When I was at the top of the hill in Prague, taking in the gorgeous view of the clusters of copper red roofs and the scattering of oxidized domes of grand churches enveloped by the lush forest, that moment wouldn't have been the same if I was alone. Sharing these experiences with Milos made my 16 days memorable.

There was a moment when we walked into La Grand Epicerie, a large grocery store downtown stocked with every food you can find and I stood there frozen in my steps. There were shelfs of mustard to my left, stacks of chocolate bars on the right, rows of jam before me and I was too elated to know what to do. Which way do I go? And what about at the end of the store? I NEED to see what those aisles have to offer too. Minutes later when my panic attack died down, we strolled through the charcuterie section and chose a mixture of proscuitto and salami, picked up Bordier seaweed butter (I know!!), a multigrain baguette, and a jar of Speculoos and Bonne Maman strawberry jam. We sat in the nearby park and laid out our treasures. That picnic was one of the happiest moments of the trip. The simplicity of each item, our hungry silence only broken when we peeled back the parchment paper of butter, even the slight drizzling of wet rain filled me up with immense joy, like this enormous creature was pounding from excitement, eager to be released from inside me.

I can't wait to go to Europe again, chew on flaky buttery croissants while lying on the prickly grass, soaking up the sun.

Recipe here!

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