Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cheerio

This is my good bye to Europe. Or not so much good bye as I'll see you in a while. I am in London spending my last night of my adventure in a Hostel near Hyde Park.

I have said so many good byes its becoming routine. But none compared to having to say good bye to Libby. We shared a room for 17 years, and now there is half a world between us. Having to return to my sister being just a voice on the other end of the phone isnt something i am looking forward to. But so is life....

My plans today include a nice walk through Hyde park, a little grocery shopping, and maybe Star Wars. I made Russell promise to wait untill I got home to go see it. I wonder if he remembers....because the theater is right by my hostel and i am hungry for the cinema. My sister and her friends all took me to the one movie a week they show in English at the theater in Freiburg. We saw hitch hikers guide to the galaxy.

Just a quick note..... i was music shopping in germany and found that they group all hip hop, rap, and R and B music into a category called, "Black music". Seriously....is that ok? Um... I dont think so. And they dont translate it to Schwartz music or anything. So i now have a CD called Black Summer Party.

Well, time to go.

See you on the other side of the pond!!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Under the Radar

I am still here!!

My travels have recently taken me very far under the radar so to speak. Away from computers, into a world of food, new places, and time with family and old friends that I see too rarely. I have stories that will be posted upon my return home. The italian family i was staying with laughed when I started to take notes on their family meals and called me a japanese tourist when I broke out the camera.

I am in Regensburg right now. My arrival here last night is an experience that I will only have once. It amounted to this. I went to a rest stop on the side of the freeway and got in a car with a strange man who then whisked me away down the Autobahn at speeds of 220 to 240 km per hour. My eyebrows were raised too when my sister suggested it. It is called mitfahrgelegenheit. It is something like arranged hitchhiking. There is a website in which people will post thier travel plans and for much much less than a train ticket you can carpool with them. It is very common. And safe.

I am now staying with an old friend, and will get just one more short day with my sister. Then tuesday I fly to London, and wednesday I fly home.

I have so much information back logged and the excitement of a new job to write about.

I spent one afternoon learning how to make buffalo mozzerella from an old italian couple.....and I have all the pictures to prove it!!!!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

How to prepare for your stage

Hey Saroya, you asked what you needed to prepare for your stage?? Well, here it is.

I packed everything I needed in a large Kelty day pack. I am low maitenance. Here is what my back pack consisted of.

Two pairs of checked pants
Two white t-shirts for under your uniform
one pair of kitchen clogs
7 pairs of underwear
7 pairs of white socks (you only have one day to do laundry)
2 pairs of fancy socks for the sunday sock competition held by the pastry crew
(there is also a sexy leg competition but Jocky wins that one every week. Seriously, I even shaved my legs and lotioned them up once but Jocky still beat me)
3 other t-shirts to wear on your day off
3 little hoodie/sporty type zip ups
one girly tank top for a special occasion
one little girly sweater
one white tank top
one skirt just in case
a bikini, (thank god I didn't need to wear that)
a coat
one pair of jeans
One jogging outfit that doubled as a lazy day apartment outfit and pajamas
one pair running shoes
one pair cute puma's

Personal care items
Shampoo and conditioner
soap
toothbrush
toothpaste (the stuff over here tastes like medicine so definately buy this at home)
minimum of make up
If you insist on bringing a hair dryer you will need two converters. One for the socket, and one for the voltage. After you buy both of those then you will have spent the same as buying a cheap hair dryer over here.
Deodorant
Hand lotion (your hands will be destroyed.)
As I learned the hard way, all this WILL explode in your bag if not wrapped up in zip lock bags.
And also remember, you can buy the same stuff over here, it's not that much different than the states. You'll see the same brands, the same items. So if you don't want to waste space transporting this stuff, you can buy it here. But remember, it's twice as expensive.

The Arsenal

Tools I used:
Chef's knife
paring knife
turning knife
peeler
5 inch serated knife
tiny tiny scissors
Sharpies (I bought the "professional" sharpies only available in the states. They are coveted by the entire staff and i found mine in Dan's pocket a few times!)
A small notebook and a ballpoint pen.

Tools I took but didn't use:
Large serated knife
boning knife
offset spatula

What I wished I had:
A knife case to carry all of my knives in. I just had plastic covers, which were really nice. But I wished i had something more than my Tim-buk-tu bag to haul them around in.
Tweezers, for those times you are allowed to plate.

Miscelaneous
A book to read
A digital camera
an umbrella- I know it's going to be summer, but that won't stop the rain
A few pictures of loved ones for your walls. Trust me, it keeps you sane

Things I didn't bring that I wished I had
My music
a steel for my knives
another cute girly outfit (after being in those frump frump outfits in the kitchen I wished I had something cuter to wear out on sundays. It's nice to feel like a girl at least once a week.)
flip flops or summer sandles

Money-
This I definately didn't have enough of. Our american dollars are worth exactly half of a sterling pound right now. And the prices on everything look the same as in america. So If a box of cereal is marked 3.50 over here it's really 7 dollars. And if you think that a 40.00 set lunch at Gordon Ramsey sounds like a reasonable price, it's really 80 dollars.

So here is my budget
Plane ticket- 700 dollars
Tiny tiny room- 600 a month, times 3, is 1800

Food- You will eat most of your meals at the Fat Duck so I have known others that only have butter and jam in their fridges, oddly not even bread. But you will need to feed yourself a couple times a week and have cereal and coffee around. So I spent about 150 on groceries a month.

Transportation- The bus costs 4.25 round trip. A train ride to London costs 25.00. My suggestion is to get the newspaper and buy a beater bike within the first week or two. It will cut down on your travel time to and from work which after 16 hours a day is worth it. And you can get in and out of town and to and from friends houses with ease. You can find one for about 20 to 30 dollars.

Bills back home. I was unable to get out of my 40 dollar gym membership, am paying 10 dollars a month to have my cell phone put on hold, and still have student load and credit card payments. So budget that in also, because these people don't care that you are off having the adventure of your life.

Phone cards. I found a good one that you buy online called Bizon. It is 2.2 cents a minute from the UK to the USA but you have to purchase it on a buisness day so plan ahead. I tried a few that ended up being 20 dollars for an hour. They advertise low rates, but then charge you connection fees, toll free toll's, and more. If you have a computer then you can download Skype and talk through your computer. That is really cheap too. But you are going to feel alone and isolated for a little while, so you will be longing to call family and friends. (If you can do it a cell phone over here is something to look into. I think you can get a prepaid one for very cheap and just use it to text for free. It's nice when you start to have some friends here to be able to communicate with them)

Dinner at The Fat Duck. 250.00. You can't come to this restaurant and not eat here, and you can't eat here and not have the tasting menu. I did this at the end of my trip. So I sat down to a familiar meal and finally understood what everything I had done for 2 months was leading up to. It was however, missing something. It was missing that awe striking feeling like, "holy fucking shit I can't believe food can be like this!!" But I did have a deeper understanding of every garnish, why flavors were paired like they were, and each process that led to why the food was so amazing, and was able to recognize every component in each dish (the waiters dont tell you). But I spent the first few weeks in awe like that just watching from the kitchen.

Beer. You will be going out to the pub, then another pub, and sometimes another one after that. The taxi's are expensive, and the beer sounds cheap, but it's consistantly 6 or 7 dollars after the exhange rate. This is where the cute girly outfits might pay off. You can wield your cute american accent and flash a little somethin-somethin and hope for your drinks to be purchased for you by some unsuspecting brittish lad. Not that I did this. I went out in tshrts and jeans and was once told that I wasn't a girl, I was a chef and that made me a dude. (Thanks Theis, you sure know how to make a girl feel good.)

Cookie money-
I spoiled the guys by baking them good old american cookies on my days off sometimes. Usually Chocolate chip, and once peanut butter with chocolate. It's a sure way to make friends and you know they will remember your name after that!! Besides, I am kinda a granny like that.

So this is the bare minimum of what I spent money on.

There are trips to London, picknicks along the river, and any other kind of fun you want.
But without anything fun, you will need just to get here, put a roof over your head, and eat a little, you will need to start with 3,500 dollars. That is literally just for the basics. Anything else is going to go on your credit card or sucked out of savings. That is beer, restaurants, and anything that could be labeled as fun.

So is that what you were looking for?? It takes about 24 hours to get door to door. So anything you pack with you will have to be carried through three airports, two train stations, and a taxi ride, and then home again. Jet lag sucks, but don't fight it. Just get here a few days early and over sleep. You are in for the shock of your life the first week. The hours are grueling. But you are so busy and stimulated with work that they fly by.

Next thing you know you will be giving advice to a future stagiere and crying a tear of nostalgia.

Cheers!!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

student life

I have just spent the day in student fashion. I slept in untill noon, threw on a bandana and some jeans, and rushed to meet my sisters boyfriend Arthur. He took me on a little walking tour of the university of Frieburg where he studies law. It included lunch at the Mensa which is the school caffeteria. Then we walked through campus to Portifino. This is a little icecream shop that Arthur swears makes the best icecream in the world. And he is half italian so he is judging this icecream above those delicious gelatto's in italy. I had an ammeretto icecream and Arthur had pistaciao. The flavors were really nice. I like the texture of the european icecreams. They are not churned as hard as those in america. The texture is velvety soft therefore the flavor seems creamier too.

I am now sitting in the library at the university using arthurs internet access and trying to navigate the german keyboard.

Sunday was my last day with Auntie Ellen. We spent the day in London. We even drove in london, if you can believe that. We bought tickets for one of those double decker tour busses of all things. But it was great because we did not have to do any of the thinking. It just drove us around and gave us the freedom to get on and off as we pleased. We got off once to see big ben and westminster, and then again to see the tower castle and the crown jewels. then we wandered around by hyde park and finally back to our hotel. We did miss out on Madamme Tousouts wax museum.

I have to say that I did fall for London. It is incredible. I have seen quite a few of the major cities in Europe now and London is challenging Barcelona for the top seat. Those two are a bit too different to be in competition with eachother, but none the less, I loved London and hope to see it again.

Libby and I said goodbye to London at about 4:30 mondy morning as we caught the bus to the airport. I had my first Ryan air experience!! This airline offers very cheap airfare, along with Ryan air scratch tikets and dual purpose bags that you can use to develope film or vomit into, which ever strikes your fancy.

We arrived in Frieburg at about 1 in the afternoon, took a little nap, and then went to the bike shop to assemble Libs bike. After 4 in the afternoon one can take their bike in to the shop and use the space and tools for free. You only pay for parts and provide the labor yourself. And I have to say that i have never seen such a parade of beaters in my life. Because bikes are such a primary mode of transportation here they really drag the life out of a bicycle. And you will also see the silliest things riding by. Like people smoking while riding (the outrage!!) holding umbrella's while riding, miniskirts while riding, and my favorite was this. To avoid her large pesant skirt from draggign on ground, a girl was holding the top of the skirt up while gripping the handle bars. This in turn made the entire front of her wide open and visible to anyone standing in front of her.

We then walked through town and went to a swiss grocery store and bought a few things for dinner.

Libby's apartment is sooooo cute. it is very modern and if can imagine the perfect setting for ikea then you aren't far off.

I dont know what are plans are for tonight. Its going to be a little harder for me here than in England. I cant go to the cinema here or anything, and i have to have a translator to do much of anything.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

out and about

I am sitting in a proper british cottage just a stones throw away from my old haunt, Bray. But it was my sister's travels that brought us here rather than mine. Her old mate Jane, with whom Libby studied with in Germany 3 years ago invited us out to her house warming party. I have never seen better use of a back yard than this. It has an edible garden, an orchard, chickens, lambies, a farm cat, a patio, and room to play. This is all fitting with the small scale of everything here. The yard is half the size of the lawn I played on as a child.

We have just stayed in Wales for the past 3 days. Our accomodations were in a house strait out of Pride and Predujice. I was just waiting for Mr. Darcy to appear under the wisteria. It was beautiful. We explored Cardiff, the capitol, and toured a castle. Wales has more castles than any other country in the world.

The next day we explored the great outdoors, or more exactly, the beaches. We first visited the Mumbles. This rocky coastline was beautiful and reminded me very much of Marin. Then we drove a little further to Pennarth?? It was a long and very wide stretch of soft sandy and duney beaches. I was told that it was used for setting land speed records before the salt flats in the states were favored. Again, it was familiar to the coast of Marin county with one distinct difference. The water was SO warm!! It is the same current that comes off of Florida I believe. Nothing like that frigid Alaskan current that runs the west coast.

Today we checked out of our romantic manor and visited Bath. This city was so beautiful. We saw old roman baths and took the tour. It was interesting to see the effects of the roman empire this far away. But they came, they saw, and they conquered. The city is built out of stone that has a golden hue. It was agreed that this was the prettiest place we have seen so far.

Now we are enroute to London where we will spend tomorow. We have all sorts of nerdy touristy ideas that even involve a tour bus!!! And monday, I fly to Germany!!

Our dinner at the Fat Duck was out of this world. It was the perfect culmination to my 2 months of work there. And it was an experience Libby and Auntie Ellen will remember forever. Auntie Ellen even said that the snail porridge was her favorite thing!!! She thinks cucumbers are too grown up, but likes snails!!!! I said my goodbyes, which pulled on my heart strings more than I thought. I even got the crew to sign my menu which felt so much like the last day of highschool yearbook signing!!! And I left them with my signiture, a plate of home made chocolate chip cookies which they assured me were 3 star to them.

Only one person was missing from the goodbyes. Chris, the other seattlite. I was really dissapointed to leave without a propper goodbye to him as he has become a friend to me. But no worries, I found him in the basement of the ruins at Bath today!!!!!! Small world, huh??

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

moving day

My 2 month stage is over. I have now had 3 days in a row to sleep past 7:30 in the morning, and i haven't picked up a knife. That may be because I forgot them in the kitchen, but you get the idea...... I am on holiday. My sister Libby and Auntie Ellen arrived from germany yesterday. We took a nice walk through the quaint village of bray and past bray lake. We then ate at Heston's pub, the Hinds Head. The two pickiest eaters in the world both ate oxtail, kidney, a rabbit terrine, and true dover sole with the bones around the outside. They laughed when I, the culinarian in the family, took my first bite and ate the outer ring of bone. They both knew that a true sole has an outer ring of free floating bones and not to eat that. But not me. Well, live and learn. We were sooo full we didn't even have room for dessert.

We Bickford woman have now properly primped for our lunch at The Fat Duck in an hour. I haven't styled my hair in over 2 months!!! It's not quite the haircut I left home with, but what ever.

It's not as hard to walk away from as I thought. But boy am I going to miss some people here.

So it's on to Wales today. Plans include a trip to bath, stonehenge, and the coast line. We are true Bickfords, so a vacation need only be a long car trip at times. (But I wouldn't turn down coctails in the sun next to a pool either.)

I think I might have even talked the worlds pickiest eaters into the tasting menu.