Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Are you kidding?

I took six hours to complete my statistics exam last night. I was also the first one to turn it in. WHAT?? Evil. That's what.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Finally, another chocolate almond croissant challenge update!

It has been a while since I had a chocolate almond croissant. This was for two reasons:

1. Nowhere had them! I tried! I don't know if I picked places that don't have them or were just out, but man. They were scarce.

2. I decided it would be embarassing to have a heart attack at my age and that my pastry consumption should decrease.

I'll go ahead and admit that #1 was a larger factor, but #2 is how I made it ok in my head.

But finally, I found not one, but two new contenders in the past week!

The first was from Juan-les-Pins, a beach town near Cannes, where I stayed for a night with my parents when they were here last week (yup, there's a post on that coming up as well). I think the bakery was called something along the lines of "Artisan baker," so not a whole lot of information there. I could tell the instant I picked it up this croissant was too smushy for me--it felt like a wet sponge. It had a pretty good taste for the texture, and Mom, a new initiate to the chocolate-almond croissant, was quite impressed, but I really couldn't get past the texture. Good thing though, since it would be quite unfortunate if the best chocolate-almond croissant was that far from me in Montpellier!

The second recent entrant came from the bakery "up a small alley by the botanical garden, with a yellow sign." Those directions were from a classmate, who got them from someone from Montpellier she met in Sweden. That was the entire extent of the directions, yet my classmate found it, and once she gave me the directions, so did I! I guess they are good enough, despite how laughable they are at first.

The place has good chocolate chip muffins when I need a taste of American goodies (the only not good sweet things I've had here have been cookies and cheesecake, both pretty far from French pastry and I guess out of the comfort zone).  But anyway, I was in there yesterday and spied a chocolate-almond beauty. It was definitely the most covered in powdered sugar so far! It was also an interesting one. On the outside, it was too crispy, but the inside had a good texture. The taste was nothing special though, unfortunately.

As the semester draws to a close, I am beginning to conclude that there is no holy grail of chocolate-almond croissants. There are several types, and I can be in the mood for various ones, but I have not yet found The One. If I'm here next semester, I'll definitely continue the challenge, while maybe thinking of it more as a sample of the variation versus a search for the perfect specimen!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pyrenees

I'm behind on my traveling posts! A few weekends ago I went to the Pyrenees with a classmate whose dad lives there.  The weather was rainy and cloudy/misty nearly the whole time, which prevented seeing the most spectacular long distance/whole mountain range/highest-mountain-in-the-whole-chain-right-over-there views, but I thought the brooding, mysterious mountains were quite nice as well. We stayed in the town of St. Beat (Bey-AHT), classmate's dad lives in Eup (pronounced like the word "up"), and we went through Luchon and several other small towns I can't remember the names of, just in case you want to orient yourself! St. Beat is marked on the map below. The whole purpose of the weekend was to look around, so the rest of the post is just pictures!

Oh, but we did also go to a painted cave, Grotte de Gargas with lots of paintings of hands with only some fingers held up (great speculation on what that means). No pictures allowed inside, but the link goes to an image search for it.

Monday, June 6, 2011


A few weekends ago I went to Cambridge, England! It was awesome. I hadn't been to England in a few years and haven't ever been outside London, so it was really cool to check out another part of the country. It was also awesome to land and suddenly see and hear English everywhere. And then there was British junk food, which is awesome (hello Cadbury's and shortbread, mmm). And normal-person sized coffee (with milk even!) instead of the thimbles of espresso served in France. I mentioned I was happy right? Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying France, but change is a good thing!

So anyway, yes, I was visiting a friend I met during my semester in the Netherlands. He is on a different type of exchange program and got to head to Cambridge for the semester. Very cool. He has a cute room in a townhouse in a nice neighborhood right by campus. Cambridge is a great walkable town, so we went everywhere. The first night I got in lateish, so by the time we ate and headed into town we couldn't get into The Eagle, a famous pub in town. But we went to another place and observed drunk Brits for a while. Quite an interesting adventure. Something I've heard a few times that I can begin to confirm (from Sweden and Cambridge), is that the further north you go in Europe, the quieter the people are sober and the louder they are drunk.

Anyway, Sunday we checked out the Ely Cathedral, a medieval cathedral which was quite pretty.

Then it was back to town for more wandering and some awesome Indian food. India was an important colony, so Indian is the main ethnic food (like Indonesian in the Netherlands). It was a huge delicious awesome meal, and afterwards my friend headed off for a nap, and I went into town for more wandering (I know I keep using that word, but it's the best description)! I treated myself to a cream tea, which is tea with a scone which you eat with clotted cream and jam. So good!


Then I headed around some of the famous colleges of Cambridge University. The colleges are huge residential buildings where classes also take place. The picture below is the back of King's College. That is King's chapel on the left.

The next day I ...wandered... around town again while my friend got some work done (it was Monday--weird flights gave me a Saturday-Tuesday crack of dawn trip). I hit a few more colleges, including Darwin college and got some shopping done (it's impossible to find some things in France, like any kind of face product with SPF in it...). I also ate an English breakfast!

I met up with my friend and another guy I knew from Groningen (they're in the same program) and we ate (fish and chips--checking off the classic British foodstuffs). As we were walking around though, we walked past an area where a festival was clearly being set up. We wondered what it might have been until we rounded a corner and saw a poster for the Cambridge Beer Festival!!! Opening that evening!! Needless to say, I was a bit excited. We had to wait quite a while (turns out the opening time we were quoted was only for VIPs, so we just had to chill for an hour and half outside) but it was awesome. A huge tent completely lined with beers from tons of breweries. There was a catalog there were so many :) So happy. It was an awesome way to spend my last evening there.

And I leave you with a picture of the creepiest clock ever, the Corpus Christi clock. The giant grasshopper thing on the top rocks back and forth, "eating time."