With my feet up

July 3rd, 2008, by Francesca

Finals are over and school is on summer break, a whole week off before my next classes: Baking and Pastries 1 and Math 202.

I really needed a few days without deadlines after the previous two weeks, what with the dental work, massive doses of antibiotics (ten days of unpleasant side effects aggravated by the ban of alcohol), and finals. And if that wasn't enough stress, my liquid/soft diet has to go on for a month. How come they didn't tell me that *before* the surgery? But all's well that ends well; I am back to my glass of red wine with dinner and enjoying being lazy. I had had unrealistic expectations of myself in terms of all that I would achieve this week, but it's okay to shift to a slower gear every now and then.

I'm learning from the master.

So, what's going on chez tantarobina? You mean, beside eating gelato and crème brûlée?

For starters, last week I received a care package from my mother – the first food package ever since I've been in California – containing a bottle of excellent olive oil and one of aceto balsamico tradizionale, the real thing. The combination has prompted a renewed interest in mixed salads and we've been having quick summer lunches with just mixed lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, various cheeses, bread and red wine. And really, if I don't touch the stove for another few days, I won't miss hot food. If you've never had good balsamic vinegar, you should add it to the list of things to do before you kick the bucket, along with eating white truffles, visiting Portugal, buy a winery, and all that.

Other than catching up on some non-school stuff and getting back to a web development project of our own (as opposed to work for hire) that's been neglected for too long, things have been pretty quiet around here. Fortunately, tomorrow we'll have a couple of guests and that'll liven things up.

Oh wait… we've had some interesting visitors already!

A mama raccoon and her two babies spent almost twenty minutes outside our French windows downstairs feeding on loquats fallen from a tree, playing with each other and having a grooming session.

Raccoons are my favorite animals around here and it's always a treat to see them, especially at such an uncharacteristic time.

On the culinary front, I've been researching the perfect croissant recipe. Croissants are one of my weaknesses and I have to learn how to make them. Baking & Pastries 1 will include a croissant making day, and I sure hope they taste better than those in the school café. The recipe on the school's handouts includes lemon juice, an ingredient not mentioned in other recipes I've come across, including two versions of the famous Pierre Hermé croissants. Anyone has insider information or opinions on that?

Given that Pierre Hermé's croissants have been decreed the best in Paris, I am inclined to go with his recommendations… as soon as it's less hot and I can face the intense process involved in making those little love handle builders, that is.

5 Responses to “With my feet up”

  1. Agnes Says:
    Enjoy your break and make the most out of it! Love the picture of the master ... so full of wisdom that I can almost see it in his eyes! LOL!
  2. MaryjoO Says:
    too bad I'm not in CA yet or I would DRIVE like a banchee to taste test your croissants. I've made some -- years ago, and don't remember how they came out. Only that you pretty much have to eat them "right away" LOL. Ditto on the balsamic vinegar .... and super balsamic vinegar drops on fresh vanilla ice cream ... died and gone to heaven. I'm hungry now!! Glad you have a chance for a break! M
  3. Ben Says:
    Coincidentally, Maryjo, we just made some vanilla ice cream this morning. Never in my life would I have experimented combining this with balsamic vinegar, but now that you've put it out there it's one of those combinations that seems perfect and should-have-been-obvious. The ice cream has to set for another few hours, then — well, it might not last through the evening.
  4. Lola LB Says:
    The best croissants I've ever had was when I was i Switzerland. Ever since then, I've never found any in America that came close.
  5. MaryjoO Says:
    I guess your break is over by now ... we also got a bottle of very good balsamic from an Italian friend recently and it's going "home" with us. One of the best balsamic's I had (and I think it was your brand) was with ice cream ... a few drops on the side of the dish of ice cream, and it's enough. Such a great contrast in flavors!

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