Monthly Archives: September 2009

Glace Gluttons 1

I am lucky to be traveling abroad with a group of students who appear to be just as passionate for ice cream as I am. We chow down on the cold stuff just about all the time. On the whole, you can except to find the usual culprits in any French ice cream shop, but also a bevy of new flavor combinations and interesting creations. I tend to focus on trying all of the unconventional flavors, and rely on the kindness of others to taste the tried and true ones. Here are the three ice cream spots that have really impressed me so far.

Punto Gusto (Grenoble)- This charming cafe and glacier whips up deliciously creamy ice cream. The man who works behind the counter is also a wizard with the ice cream spoon/scoop  and turns ice cream cones into floral sculptures like he’s been doing it his whole life (he really might have.) I accidentally deleted the pictures I took of the ice cream there… but I’ll return and snap a few so that you can see the flowers. 

Flavor to Try: Meringue– there is some serious French magic going into this ice cream because it is basically like eating freshly whipped meringue, only colder, denser, and fattier. Mmm… Their Fraise was also unbelievable, and there Toble (which we thought was toblerone flavored) is chocolate/orange and also a fine treat. 

Glacier des Alpes (Annecy)- Annecy is pretty touristy, so there are tons of glaciers on every street. We knew we stumbled upon the right choice when we saw our tour guide/social director, Vincent, waiting in the 20 person line. He told us this was the place to go for a scoop or two. We listened and weren’t disappointed. This family operated creamery, whips up a ton of different flavors. Every “parfum” I tried was great (5 in total amongst the group), so if you are in Annecy, this is a pretty safe bet.

Flavor(s) to Try: Kibana– I thought I was going to talk about the Honey Lavender ice cream I had when I ordered it, but a last minute decision to add a second scoop changed everything. Kibana is a combination of kiwi and banana, and it is out of this world. It basically tastes like banana ice cream with a little added tang. The chunks of kiwi in it really put it over the top. If you are interested in something less fruity/floral, try the Cookie Flavor. Vanilla ice cream, HUGE cookie chunks, and chocolate swirl… done deal. 

Royal Chocolate Carincotte (Grenoble)- Earlier today, on our way to do homework (or sit around a drink tea) Laura spotted a chocolate shop selling Fig ice cream and we decided to stop in. Royal Chocolate also happens to be the kitschiest/cutest chocolate shop I’ve seen so far in Grenoble. All the other clients were elderly, so you know they make good stuff. The owner is a really sweet lady, and I felt bad not ordering anything, but I had just eaten a pastry. After tasting Laura’s ice cream, I really wish I had.

Flavor to try: Figue– As long-time readers know, I made Honey Fig ice cream this summer. While I still think my version was successful, I had no idea the full potential of figs and ice cream. Royal’s version is so jam-packed with figs, that is a deep maroon in color. If figs were creamy, they would taste like this ice cream. I will definitely be returning to try their Mangue épicée flavor. Mango, lime, cardamum, and coriander in an ice cream? I’ll let you know how it goes. 

 

Also, here is how ice cream ought to be served (courtesy of Glacier Les Alpes and Darcy’s photos)…

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Tartiflette Savoyarde

dear blog,

remember when i didn’t neglect you. oops!

Anywho….

Saturday, a whole group of international kids hopped on a bus, and scooted on over to Annecy for the day. Annecy is known as the Little Venice because it has canals running through the old parts of the city. Unlike Venice, Annecy’s canals don’t smell and are filled with ducks and swans. Vincent, the social coordinator for the international students and our tour guide for the day, recommended that we try the signature dish of the Haute-Savoie region, Tartiflette. 

Tartiflette is basically the richer and fattier cousin of Grenoble’s own speciality, Gratin Dauphinois. Like most gratins, the Tartiflette is a baked casserole of cream and potatoes. However, it distinguishes itself as typically savoyarde with the inclusion of Reblochon cheese and chunks of lardon. Our tartiflette was served with a generous salad of greens topped with a tangy, but unidentifiable vinaigrette (my bets are on Apple Cider vinegar, but who knows) and some slices of jambon cru. 

The dish is definitely too rich to have everyday, but certainly something worth trying. I was grateful for our glasses of Rose wine (50 cl for 8.95!) to cut the Tartiflette’s creamy decadence. Below you will find a picture of my plate and some more pictures from Annecy. Oh, and here is a link to a recipe for Tartiflette if you are interested in serving it at your next “This is why you’re fat” Party.

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The many humiliations of Week 3.

I am working on my first paper of the semester all afternoon today, and for the first time, I feel like getting a little journally on ff&f. My professor warned us that week 3 of abroad often takes an abrupt but temporary dip south. It certainly did for me. Here is a little list explaining why. 

1. Walking to the tram after a night of bad mojitos (with French people!!!) and long walks to over-crowded international students party, my friends and I were asked for directions by a clearly inebriated young lady. Understanding French is hard enough when people speak slowly and clearly, but drunkenly slurred French is just damn near impossible. When we said we didn’t know, and they recognized our accents, the boyfriend turned to the girlfriend and cackled… “They don’t even speak French!!! AHAHAHAHA” Feel incompetent.

2. Found a great new lunch spot/cafe with free wifi. After first lunch success, Laura and I returned the next day to do our homework and grab some coffee. After about 2 hours of grammar exercises we get up and leave, absent-mindedly forgetting we hadn’t paid. Say good byes and seconds later are met by the server telling us of our mistake. Walk back apologizing the entire way and pay our bill. Return next day to work on paper, have lunch, and attempt to rectify the awkwardness. Make things more awkward. Obligatory break from cafe is now necessary. Feel mortified. 

3. Take oral comprehension “pre-test” to gauge our ability. Fail with an 8/20… Assume level is pretty low. Feel dumb.

4. Start to rewind first roll of film to send for developing. Hear nothing but continue to wind for about a minute. Open up back of camera to find that film had ripped and was wound around the right side of my camera. Film is almost certainly ruined. Feel unlucky.

ff&f PSA: Do not go to Le Mérou Bleu

Here at ff&f, restaurant profiles are usually spaces for me to share worthwhile dining experiences. ff&f PSAs will be reserved for truly atrocious dining experiences. Trust me when I say that Le Mérou Bleu deserves its status as my first PSA. Here’s why…

1. Service- Our waiter at LMB was an unbelievable jerk. Just after bonjours were exchanged and menus received (we asked for the French menus, bien sur), he informed us not to worry, that our french would improve once we spent more time in France. This would probably have been less insulting had we actually said anything in to him in French beyond “hello”, asked him how we sounded, or interacted with him for more than 1 minute. Thankfully for us (we thought we were being singled out), but unfortunately for diners everywhere, we noticed that he acted like an ass to just about everyone. When he wasn’t displaying his alarmingly inappropriate attitude, he could be found flirting shamelessly with female diners. I’ll let you decide which is worse.

Oh I almost forgot to mention, our waiter was also really clumsy. We watched him spill water on a nearby diner. Even worse, while attempting to clear our table, he managed to launch a small crab off of Laura’s plate onto the ground. He never apologized for the gaffe, or even bother to come back for the crab. 

2. Bad service can really ruin a dining experience. Luckily for our waiter, the food also sucked. Marseille is known primarily for one dish: Bouillabaisse. Laura and I decided we needed to try some before leaving the city, and made the horrible mistake of ordering it at Le Mérou Bleu. It should be noted from the start, that the Bouillabaisse is LMB’s specialty, so good luck with anything else they try to whip up.  

Bouillabaisse is a rustic seafood stew made with an aromatic orange broth of saffron, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Our Bouillabaisse was, as you can see below, an unappetizingly putrid yellow and smelled legitimately more like the nearby Vieux Port than food. La piece de resistance of this mess in a bowl, was the aforementioned crab, which was nestled in the middle of the plate, and, so far as we could tell, not really meant to be eaten. Below is the aftermath. The empty space on my plate was occupied by two large pieces of potato, which were bland but edible. If this were any other dish, I might have been upset by the disproportionate ratio of potato to seafood. I guess there’s always a silver-lining

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Weekend in Marseille

I finished week 2 in France with a weekend trip to Marseille. I figure it’s easier and more fun just to include some pictures, instead of detailing the whole trip. The cocktails pictured are called the Blue Planet and Red Planet, respectively. If you are ever at Bar Equinoxe with a friend and are willing to have French people gawk at you, please give them a try.

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Week 2: And classes begin…

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This is a bizarre hallway I walk through to get to French class. The entire Université Stendhal 3 is a cluster of academic buildings linked by many passageways like this one to form one massive complex. The architect wanted students to be able to move throughout the university without ever having to go outside. Unfortunately, this design choice leaves many students (*cough* me *cough*) confused and disoriented.

Vive La France, Allez à Sydney.

One of the many clever posters for Sydney’s International Food Festival. Seemed almost too apropos. 

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