Monday, March 30, 2009

a little bubbly

Like I had mentioned, I spent the past three days traveling with my program to Nancy, Verdun, and Reims... it was fabulous. Nancy and Verdun are both located in Lorraine, I tried duck for the first time, had an authentic Quiche Lorraine, and saw the heart-wrenching place t where one of the most horrific battles of World War I occurred. And on Saturday we entered the Champagne region...

At the heart of it, the city of Reims.

Even the grey weather could take away from the magnificent charm of this historical place.

It was here, in this cathedral, that all the kings of France were crowned.

Many restorations have taken place during that time.

And thank God,

it was one of the most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture that I've ever seen.

The immensity of the building took my breath away.

As did the spectacular and unique stained glass windows.

Between the city square, the museums, the cathedral, and the shops, I knew that I had fallen in love with yet another French city. But it wasn't until dinner time that I realized how much. I ate one of the most delicious meals I've had in Europe.

I ordered one of their Menus which consisted of three courses. The dinner began with a split pea vegetable soup. It had been pureed, save a few potato chunks, and was served with a bread crisp, homemade croutons, and a parsley sprig.

I ate all of it, and anything I missed was scrapped out with one of these fantastic rolls. I, of course, also let my 3 friends try the soup before it was finished, all were dumbfounded by how delicious it was... and how foolish they were for having just ordered a plat ;).

Afterwards out came our main courses, mine was a river fish (I don't know the name in English) with eggplant. I gave half of mine over to Liz who generously did the same with her...

salmon and spinach. Both were absolutely incredible! Oh my gosh. Neither of us could stop raving about it, and neither could the other two, who, once again, enjoyed a bite of their own :).

I ate enough to satisfy me but not too much in order to save room for dessert, (this profiterole au chocolat is Liz's,) I had a glass of un-pictured fromage blanc. We spent three hours at the Bristol Café with all of our talking and eating. It was a perfect night.

We all woke up the next day exhausted, Europe has finally changed the clock for Daylights Savings Time :(. I assure you, however, that my Sunday was nothing to frown about!
After re-packing the bus and eating breakfast at the hostel we we headed to the Taittinger headquarters for a tour and tasting.

Below the building the champagne from the countryside is aged within the cellars of century-old passageways, once used by monks.

I learned a great deal more about the entire process but I'll spare you and get to the degustation. I think this is the first glass of true champagne I've ever had, (all other varieties grown outside this region are simply sparkling wines,) and I adored it.

Following lunch at a brasserie nearby, we boarded the bus for "home."
Five hours later I was greeted by my lovely host-mom and the meal she had prepared me: beets, cucumbers, two cheeses, roasted peppers, sardines,

a mango purée, and fromage blanc au sucre. Did I also mention that I had fromage as a snack on Friday afternoon? I've been craving it for the past few weeks... and I definitely got my fill this weekend. Ha.
Now it's back to my very real to-do list. I've been busy... as I'm sure you can tell by my inconsistent posting... and it doesn't look like life is planning on slowing down any time soon. I almost wish that I could open the bottle of champagne that I bought and ease the stress a little bit ;) but I'm saving that for my 21st birthday. I've been thinking a lot about the future lately, even beyond these final few weeks in Strasbourg. Like, where is this blog going?, for instance. I began writing to share my year abroad experiences with the blogworld but what happens when I'm done traveling? I don't want to say goodbye and leave this community forever but what else can I do? I really just do not know.

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