28 April 2010


proftime, stop.

i’m not ready to leave such a beautiful place.

actually, i can leave a beautiful place easily. but a beautiful place with amazing people i adore? time, please stop.

two more weeks.

23 April 2010

the stroll continues

after the walk in the market, you continue wandering around istanbul and absorbing the atmosphere…istanbul09wedding whites. although you are in the most conservative area of istanbul where on the streets you see burqas after burqas, in the shop windows you see extravagant wedding dresses. poofs. layers. glitz. the complete opposite. through these dresses, you see a culture that loves to celebrate. to enjoy life. to be with family. to dance. it’s not a side you see often because of stereotypes and media portrayals. but wedding dresses that fun can’t possibly be lying.

istanbul10obligatory reds and browns. things one sees all over and must do and eat. the ayran yogurt drink which is offered at all your meals. small restaurant cooking. bread. turkish coffee.

istanbul11rainy grays that turn into blue skies. while you don’t enjoy rain, this one was worth it because it cleared away all the pollution and you enjoyed lovely weather for the rest of the day.

istanbul12blue and brown. marble and wood. floors and doors. squares and more squares. patterns and motifs. you love combinations.

istanbul13red and yellow. your first mosque. unfortunately, it’s under heavy construction. but still, for never being in a mosque before, it’s still nice. and the carpet! it’s odd at first being barefoot in a place that isn’t home, but you get used to it quickly.

istanbul14green and browns. first you see a (fake) stained glass window. and then later you’re looking through spotless windows… at what else. kadayif, eclairs and baklava! all with hints of pistachios.

istanbul15red. red flower on a cake. a red building. pink cookies (with the usual pistachio on top). and banners with a red crescent.

istanbul16red. you’re surprised by the amount of chandeliers you see in mosques. but in any case, it just adds to all the patterns you’re seeing and loving.

istanbul17blue. deep blue skies. with a speck of red that you can’t miss.

istanbul18blue. again. for the doors you see as you wander the streets,  for the sky with plenty of sunshine, for a mosque that is closed for renovation, and of course for the sea.

istanbul19peachy yellows and pinks. colors of a sunset. you’re thankful for the rain because it washed out all the haziness caused by pollution.

istanbul20blue. the ubiquitous ayran yogurt drink – made by carrefour. you always find it interesting when a foreign company makes a product for a specific region that can’t be found in their home country. it’s just odd seeing the brand on something that you can’t get in the home country. and the laughing cow! even if it’s the lowest of the lows on the cheese rank, it at least makes a foreign country seem more familiar.

istanbul21yellows. for when you eat a turkish home cooked dinner at night and your only light source are light bulbs. the cake – you’ll never forget it. pistachios. raspberries. bananas. chocolate. all things you love, but never really thought of putting together. until you ate this cake. and you’ll be making an interpretation of it soon. very soon.

22 April 2010

a long journey, but not for me

it began innocently enough, just two magazines and a book.

but, it grew.

it grew into this (which is actually very restrained, because i can easily acquire this amount of stuff each month… so for eight months, i think i did a very good job.):post01every letter and postcard that was mailed to me.

every book i bought from each of my travels around europe.

every journal that i filled with ideas, thoughts, and inspirations.

post04 every sheet of anything that i’d pin to my wall.

every pamphlet i picked up from the numerous salons and expos and bakeries and restaurants that i visited.

every magazine article i clipped.

post03my beloved map of france with all the towns of my friend’s circled.

post02all spread out in 9+ little parcels weighing 5 kilos each, on its way to a new home. my home across the atlantic. in texas.

i’m putting all my faith in the  french and american postal system – please please please don’t fail me. the things most precious to me are too heavy for me to bring back as one person. so i sent them on a long journey.

but, if they do get lost, it isn’t the end of the world… which is why the one thing i’m not shipping back are all my bank/housing/work/health/etc documents. because in france, paperwork is king. you lose one sheet of anything, and there goes your chance for accomplishing anything. because i hope to come back, i don’t want to risk losing a thing. those will be traveling by suitcase.

so – hopefully – in a few months (no more than 2, i hope) – there will be a very very very excited and happy cathy in texas posting here with the safe return of her books and papers.

18 April 2010

the beginning of a colorful walk through istanbul

istanbul01gray. when you take away color, you start to really see. things like textures, patterns, and shapes. which is why i love this photo so much. 2 colors, but far from simple.

but that is not the theme right now. i’m doing a 180 and will be taking a plunge into the colors of istanbul. from each set of photos, i’ve highlighted a few of the colors that i like and added them to the side. plus, they remind me of divider tabs, which brings back memories of my elementary school binder

istanbul02the first thing you might notice in istanbul are the stray cats. lots of them. but no stray dogs. only pet dogs.

and you also like spotting your favorite patriotic colors: red, white, and blue. or in french: bleu, blanc, rouge.

istanbul03browns. another subtle reference to red, white, and blue. the browns of pastries. and a hint of green for the spring that’s on its away. as well as a hint of green for the flood of pistachios that you’ll see later on…

istanbul04gold. you can’t help but adore the colors of the marble, the mosaics, and the paintings in an church-turned-mosque-turned-museum, the kariye museum.

istanbul05brown and red. the browns and hint of orange in the market vendor’s sweater. a nice thing about istanbul is the willingness of people to pose for photos. in fact, you never ever ask to make a portrait, but if someone poses automatically, you go ahead and step away from your usual style.

istanbul06green and orange. and you notice how the vegetables are presented differently in turkey. the leeks and carrots are nicely trimmed and dirt free. but the eggs (above) are sold with dirt still on them.

plus! you discover the backpack basket. they have the same function as the wheeled shopping bags in europe, but it’s these slight differences that define a culture. *more on this later

istanbul07red. strawberries are sold with the stems still attached. fresh cheese in huge tubs. pomegranates, which are a delicacy in texas, are everywhere in istanbul!

istanbul08blue. in tiles. on buildings. piles of buttons. and gates.

your eyes are wide open. there’s just so much to see. to do. to taste. to talk about. to notice. all the colors grab your attention constantly, and you can’t wait to see what else istanbul will reveal to you! but the beginning has already left a strong and delightful impression.

the last two weeks

in the last fifteen days….paques01spring started to show itself.

paques02i saw the sea.

paques03i talked to lots of people – some strangers, some friends.

paques03bi saw mountains.

paques04i ate well.

paques05i took lots of daytrips to explore small towns.

paques06i of course did lots of pastry tasting sessions.

paques07a volcano erupted and forced me to go to munich.

paques08and as inconvenient it made travelling, i at least was able to eat a delicious brezel to finish off my trip.

but first we are going back in time back to february to visit istanbul. april vacation will have to wait!

01 April 2010

what’s your favorite fruit?

if i ever ask you this question:

what’s your favorite fruit?

you can be pretty sure something this will soon follow:latartesuch as a: chocolate passion fruit ganache tart topped with pineapples roasted in a banana caramel sauce as well as roasted strawberries in balsamic vinegar

i just love finding out what people love, and then making something derived from what they tell me.

as for the french title…

my translation attempt: pâte sucrée avec une ganache à la fruit de la passion, des ananas rôtis au sauce caramel banane, et des fraises rôtis à la vinaigre balsamique

translation correction #1 by a french friend: OMGWTFBBQ AWESOME PIE

translation correction #2 by same french friend: pâte sucrée garnie d'une ganache aux fruits de la passion, d'ananas rôtis à la sauce caramel banane, et de fraises rôties au vinaigre balsamique

my oral skills may have sky rocketed (although that pesky french r still trips me up), but my writing has remained stagnant, as seen by the correction.

tart the recipe is adapted from foodbeam.

You’ll have to decide what order to do things. For me, it was best to line the tart pans and bake them. Then make the caramel sauce for the pineapples. Then roast the pineapples. Then make the ganache. Then roast the strawberries. But everything was a blur, because perhaps i was slicing strawberries when i was waiting for the chocolate to melt, or dicing butter as the sugar was melting into a thick caramel… you’ll find your rhythm, no worries.


1 sweet tart crust

roasted pineapples

  • 125g sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 220ml water
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • 1 pineapple, peeled and diced

passion fruit ganache

  • 10 passion fruits
  • 400g milk chocolate, melted
  • 80g butter, diced and at room temperature
  • 300g heavy cream

roasted strawberries

  • 1000g strawberries
  • 4tbs raw sugar
  • 2tbs balsamic vinegar

for the pineapples: caramelize the sugar in a pan over medium heat. then slice open the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and dump the entire thing into the caramel. make sure to keep stirring so nothing burns. then quickly add your 220ml of water and step back as quickly as possible so hot caramel doesn’t splash onto you. bring it to a boil, remove it from the heat, and then add in your mashed banana. mix it all together, pour it into a container, let it cool, and dip your pinky in for a quick taste. you can make it a day ahead and store it in your fridge. or use it right away. in any case, when you’re ready, roast your diced pineapple pieces with this caramel banana sauce in a 350F/180C oven for about 40 minutes. once that’s done, let it cool in a container in your fridge.

for the ganache: cut open your passion fruits and scrape out the insides over a sieve and press out as much juice as possible. but don’t trash the pulp. you can eat it, seeds and all, or you can save it for something else. place it into a saucepan, bring it to a boil, and then pour it over your melted chocolate. once the mixture has reached 40C, stir in your diced butter until it has all melted and there are no more butter chunks. then pour in your heavy cream and stir it together. then pour this tangy chocolate mixture into your tart shells and let them set up in the fridge.

for the strawberries:  slice your strawberries in half. in a large bowl, toss them with raw sugar and the balsamic vinegar. spread this mixture out in a cake pan (make sure there are walls!) and roast in a 350F/180C oven for about 40 minutes. it will be quite juicy so strain the juice out from the solids. don’t trash the juice – you can easily make anything with it, or if you are lazy like me, add in the passion fruit pulp that wasn’t used, buy some vanilla ice cream, and pour the strawberry balsamic vinegar passion fruit sauce over it for a simple but tasty dessert.

tart2the last step is just bringing it all together. arrange the pineapples and strawberries on top of your passion fruit ganache filled tart shells right before serving. and eat.

so in conclusion, if i am asking you for your favorite fruit… or favorite cheese… or favorite anything, there’s usually a very tasty motive not too far behind.