All posts tagged: Europe

La Bottega del Buon Caffe

What better way to explore the world and expand your horizons than through food? After some intensive research and frantic emails and phone calls exchanged in order to try to get a table for one at some of the most exciting looking locations, I ended up going to four different Michelin starred restaurants in four different cities within 10 days. I know–what more could a person ask for in life? La Bottega del Buon Caffe came up again and again as I researched things to do in Florence, Italy, and they were able to squeeze me in one of the nights I was in the area. I was already excited based on what I saw on the website before going, but oh my lord was it ever worth it. When I go to a restaurant (particularly a nicer restaurant) there are a handful of things I am looking for in order to determine whether it is a good destination or not. I’m going to give you a little overall review, but feel free to keep …

Writing in Chocolate, Midnight Adventures and French Skills: Week 11 in the Kitchen

“So…You do the opaline and the mignardise and everything else…And I’ll just be over here. Okay?” Sunday, I once again needlessly showed up 45 minutes in advance of my shift starting, and Stan and I had so little to do that he literally made the largest tiramisu I have ever seen while I slowly and calmly finished everything for the evening and then started on tasks for the next day. It was a win-win-win situation, as it allowed us to pass a calm day, me to learn more and become more independent in the kitchen, and everyone who works at Belles Rives to have an incredibly enjoyable staff meal that evening. So. The apprentice is scared of bananas. Like, not only does she not like eating them, but she doesn’t like touching them or looking at them. So naturally when Stan found out, he promptly left pastry and went and grabbed a banana from the cold storage room to put on the counter beside her. As the night went on, the banana remained in the kitchen—and …

Trials, Jokes and Translations: Week 10 in the Kitchen

I think my team has finally figured out how weird I am. I’m finally comfortable enough to be myself. It has not been easy to find my personality while speaking French and while simultaneously beginning a new job and career in the kitchen. It has been hard to balance being myself with being a student and a worker and a foreigner and a new language. But I think the two/two-and-a-half month point has marked the change in me going from that-timid-American-girl-who-for-some-reason-smiles-a-lot to being simply Maddie. Just Maddie. And I like it. Sure, I’m a weird person—I make random noises and sometimes talk to myself in languages that the people around me don’t understand. I’m sarcastic and I roll my eyes and sometimes I swear a lot. I sing Korean ballads and English show tunes to myself while I work. But in the end, that is me and I am happy that even if my coworkers find me strange and unique, it is my actual self that they are getting to know and not the facade …

Family in France: A Weekend with My Brother

I attempted to set an alarm to drag myself out of bed and be productive Saturday morning, but in the end I woke up early enough only to eat lunch and work on an email in French before jetting off to the train station to head over to Nice. I made it to Nice and soon after found the airbnb where my brother was staying. Of course, being the only one of us with a working phone, I sat on the curb for about 15 minutes before he got my message and came and found me. And as he walked down the sidewalk it was as if nothing had changed—that it hadn’t been 9 months since we had last seen each other, that we were’t meeting in France instead of the US, that our lives hadn’t been completely turned upside down since we had last met. After briefly gathering our thoughts in the apartment that smelled like five grandmas took up residence there, I brought them along the beach towards old town, where we caught …

Diner à La Passagére

“And for you Maddie, the menu is in French” Jerome says as he hands me a menu, smirking, after already having handed English menus to the rest of the table. Were they running out of English menus? Was this a test for my French reading level? A joke between coworkers?! I sit on the terrace of La Passàgere—the one michelin starred restaurant where I am doing my internship—next to my brother, sister-in-law and an amazing friend, and I couldn’t have been happier. It was the eve of my 24th birthday (which is only terrifying when you think about how I still am not sure what I’m doing with my life) and the stars had aligned to bring together some of my favorite people to share an amazing meal together. Let me go back to the beginning of the story, so you can understand exactly what state of mind I was in by the time I was sitting at this lovely table bordering the Mediterranean Sea on my birthday with my brother. So Alex and Caitlin …

Pep Talks and Adjustments: Week Nine in the Kitchen

“Salut Bébé!” cries Stan. “Bienvenue!” Chef looks me in the eye before staring me up and down as he shakes my hand, as if he will be able to see into my thoughts and know what I’ve been doing since he saw me last just by looking at me. And then the rounds of “Salut, ça va?” and bisous with Floriane and all the boys over in cuisine. I’m getting better at saying hello. It only took two months, and I know you were all on the edges of your seats wondering how I was fairing over here in a French kitchen—that you were more curious about my social skills than my pastry skills. So there you have it. I can almost-normally greet everyone in the kitchen, and I don’t get flustered by all the cheek kissing and pet names. “Chef! The Blog!” Seems to be the most frequent thing I hear out of Diego’s mouth. Sometimes I want to slap on a piece of duck tape so I have more juicy, uncensored stories to …