Girls Getaway

You know how you can be such a different person around people that you really click with? Those people that you can be your genuine, quirky, true self and you know they aren’t judging you because they’re pretty much on the same weirdness scale as you?

Yeah, I owe you girls one.

*A big thanks to Emelia Kim for being the amazing photographer that you are.

Avignon

A historic town not too far from home (roughly an hour) that makes for a really nice day-trip, which once housed the Pope before moving to the Vatican.  The moment you walk past the city’s surrounding brick wall, you’re captivated by  immense historic propriety. It’s a small enough town that you can (and really should) walk around to explore every nook and cranny the cobblestone paths take you.

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Our first stop was the Palais des Papes, i.e. the Pope’s Palace. It’s been a residence to Popes since the 1300′s and is probably one of the largest Gothic-styled buildings in France.

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The biggest room in the Palace is the Grand Chamber, where Popes used to worship. It’s now used for reunions, gatherings, congresses, and the like, housing roughly 700 people.

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Next to the Palace is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-des-Doms à Avignon, i.e. Avignon Cathedral; a gorgeous Romanesque building containing the seat of the archbishop of Avignon.

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A little further walk will bring you to Pont d’Avignon.  In medieval times, there used to be cafes located just beneath this bridge where people would gather and dance the night away, as it wasn’t allowed on the bridge (apparently there’s a famous song also named after it?). The significance of it now? Beats me, but there’s a spot where you can pose like Jack and Rose Titanic style.

Nîmes

By far one of my favourite towns in southern France is Nimes with its Roman architectural influences. If you ever find yourself there, please visit some of these attractions!

Roman amphitheatre: one of the best preserved arena in France, which still being used for bullfights; climb up to the top and yell at the top of your lungs “YOU THERE!”, it’ll be great

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  • Tour Magne, i.e. the Great Tower: climb up the ~200 steps to get a panoramic view of Nimes; the pictoral helps you map out where everything is from so high up

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  • Maison Carree: one of the best preserved Roman temples in France; it used to be where people gathered for public speech – skip going inside and watching the video about Nimes, it’s been completely redone and really isn’t worth the time

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  • Jardins de la Fontaine, i.e. Gardens of the Fountain: if you catch yourself there on a sunny day, this is an absolute must-visit; lay down on the grassy hill and get your tan on

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Map It!

Chocolate Chip Walnut Banana Bread

Mmm…

banana bread

Ingredients

  • 5 very ripe bananas, mashed with a fork
  • 1/2 cups honey
  • 6 T butter, at room temperature, plus a tiny bit more to grease your pans
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 2.5 cups white flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 cups chopped walnuts (or any nut you like)
  • 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 T vanilla extract

1, 2, 3

  1. Fold in dry ingredients to the wet; chocolate chips and walnuts last – don’t overwork
  2. Bake at 375 degrees F or 180 degrees C for 45-60 minutes
  3. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream with a splash of rum

Food for Thought

  • I let my bananas sit for nearly 2.5 weeks before using them; the skins were black all over and they were uber mushy, but I still found that my banana bread didn’t exude too much banana flavour… thoughts?

Adjusted from Original Recipe: http://www.cookingforcommunity.com/recipes/old-bananas-banana-bread

The Ultimate 1-Day Swiss Eating Experience

Part I: Fondue

Step 1: Go to Gruyères, Switzerland.

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Step 2: Make a visit to Le Chalet de Gruyères.

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Step 3: Order the Gruyère Fondue. Enjoy.
(N.B. this entire melting pot of cheesy goodness was only considered as one portion).

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Step 4: Walk off the calories to La Maison du Gruyère.Image

Step 5: Experience an AOC cheese-making experience.

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Part II: Swiss Chocolate

Step 1: Go to Broc, Switzerland.

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Step 2: Make a visit to Maison Cailler Chocolaterie. The recipe here is even more top secret than Coca-Cola, so don’t get your hopes up!

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Step 3: Take a tour of the most interactive museum I’ve ever been to, and to reward yourself, stuff your face with 20+ kinds of Cailler chocolate in the tasting room. Once again, enjoy.

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Foodie Central

  • Gruyère fondue: a melting, oozing pot of moitié-moitié  (half-and-half, though it’s not necessarily 50/50) of Gruyère and Vacherin cheese, as well as white wine and garlic.  To be had with cubes of bread, potatoes, pickles, and pearl onions.
  • Cailler chocolate: my personal favourites include Cremant (64%) and Frigor Noir (50% with a creamy hazelnut and almond filling).

Map It!

Word of the Week: Sprüüüngli

Zürich

Why do we always have friends that we genuinely mean to meet up with, but never get around to actually doing it?

A dear childhood friend of mine and I are finally getting together nearly after two years of making brunch plans – and in the oddest of situations, meeting in Zurich and then spending the week travelling around Switzerland (Zermatt, Bern, Gruyere, Geneva…).

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