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One Adventure at a Time

food. passion. life.

Julie and Julia: looking for a new adventure one day at a time

A woman laughing. Below a woman with a finger in her mouth. The middle horizontal section contains the film title.I’ve been sick this week.  When I am sick, I spend a lot of time in bed watching my favorite movies that I find comforting and funny.  One of my absolute favorite is Julie and Julia.  What struck me this time when I was watching the amazing Amy Adams and the incomparable Meryl Streep, is that this movie is based on a true story that is so real.  I know a “real” true story sounds redundant, but when was the last time you watched a movie based on a true story that didn’t result in you feeling like the main characters were “heroes.”

Those movies are great for inspiration, but sometimes I just want to see stories about real people with real struggles being real.  This is what I love about this story, particularly Julie Powell’s story.  What I love about Julie is that she is a near thirty dreaming writer who has let her life distract her from her dreams.  This is exactly what life looks like for so many of us.

When we are seeking adventure or looking for life to somehow change, we find ourselves in this situation because we have forgotten how to focus.  For anyone who has not seen this film or read Julie Powell’s book, Julie begins a blog where she cooks through Julia Child’s Mastering The Art French Cooking.  She describes this process to her mother as just giving her a regimen, “Something to do every day, one day at a time.”  Simply by creating this regimen for herself her life end up completely changing within a year.

That may not be the case for you and me, but it reminded me that all adventures typically start with discipline.   Discipline is difficult for me.  I have a lot of growth yet to do in this area of my life, but often my biggest problem is that I don’t focus.  Focusing on one thing or one regimen and putting our effort and energy into that will produce results.

If you are looking for a new adventure, but don’t know where to start, this is where I’d start.  Find one thing you want to change and start a regimen for yourself to make that change a reality.  If you need inspiration watch this movie, it doesn’t hide the ugly parts about discipline (i.e. it’s really HARD work!)  If you know exactly what you want to change about your life, don’t think that it’s going to be an over night change, remember a regimen is a daily activity, so it’s not a quick fix.

I have come to realize that I have a hard time being patient, so it’s important for me to set small short-term goals.  When I do that, I can actually see the small adventures in my life that this discipline creates.  But if I work only for the adventure I think I want in my life, instead I end up focusing on too many different things.  When you try to do too many things you end up not doing any of them well.

So, I chose one thing to focus my energy on changing this coming month.  About a month ago I decided I was going to write every day, even by doing this I realize I still go far too long between blog posts. So I am going to commit to a regimen of blogging twice a week.  If I blog more great, if not no problem.  My goal is to do this for exactly one month.  This is my short-term goal.

What do you want to change?  What is a good regimen for your short-term goal?  I promise this is just one small step in permanent change.  If you do nothing else but become a more disciplined person, that will be worth it.  If there’s one thing I know discipline is key to living an adventurous life.

work is not a 4-letter word

Today, I sat down to figure out my general “to-do” list for my day off.  Ugh.

It’s an uncharacteristically beautiful day outside, and believe me there is nothing I’d like more than to blow off that to-do list, and go on an adventure.  But, here’s the thing about adventure.  If you are unorganized and overwhelmed, adventures can lead to really bad things.  Stress. Frustration. Poor decisions.  Etc.   Today, I’d love to pack up my car and drive away from it all, but my car is a mess, and frankly I’ve got a whole lot to catch up on.

The best thing I’ve learned on this journey of trying to live an adventurous life, is that when we use adventure to ignore life, the adventure ceases quickly and simply becomes a short escape.  But, living out an adventure takes careful planning, and a whole lot of effort.  My day could be spent heading to some place that I’d want to go hiking or driving aimlessly, but the fact of the matter is this would be wasted time, for several reasons but I’ll just list two.

1) When we confuse ADVENTURE for ESCAPE, we miss out on other adventures we may enjoy more.

If I were to go out and seek adventure, I’d really be seeking an escape from the things in my life that I have to do.  I would be avoiding laundry, cleaning, not to mention a whole lot of purging I’d planned for today.  If I avoid these things, they will be waiting for me tomorrow.  If I avoid them tomorrow, they will be waiting for me the next day, and so on.  You see we never truly get to avoid the effort we must put into our lives.  The biggest repercussion of continuing to avoid this effort is that there will come an opportunity for another adventure one day, and we will be unprepared for it.  Whether it be financially, or we can’t miss work, or we simply have put off too many things that can no longer be put off, we will miss out.

I have an extreme fear of missing out.  I’m always afraid there is something better out there, or something more fun, or something I should know.  I’ve on occasion allowed this fear to push me into making bad choices.  Buying things on credit.  Going on vacation before I had enough time off accrued.  Quitting my job before I had one waiting.  Jumping into a job before I realized what I was getting myself into.  There are multiple ways I’ve talked myself into these bad decisions because I wanted to see if the grass was greener on the other side.  I’ve come to realize that in some ways this seeking of greener grass is merely avoiding the work of my present circumstance. Which leads me to the second reason going trying to find an adventure today would be a waste of time…

2) Life should be lived, not avoided.

One way or another we all have done this. We have all wanted an out from the work being required of us.  But, here’s the thing, as I’ve already established a true adventure requires a lot of work.  We don’t get to miraculously have everything we want placed in our laps. In the past, when I’ve wanted to have an adventure, there was careful planning and preparation involved.  My trip Italy for my 30th birthday took many years of saving, and it took almost an entire year of planning.  Can you imagine, how much work that was, and I still didn’t feel fully prepared.  When I finally got there, I wished I had sent more time learning Italian, and wished that I had read more about Italy’s driving laws.  But, I cannot express how much of an adventure this amazing trip was.

So, what does that mean for our daily life?

It means we should expect that life will always be hard work, anything worth doing will be look like work.  So, living an adventurous life will, of course, be a life where we must plan, prepare, and work very hard.  Understanding this reality is our first step to actually living out that adventure.

Last post I said I’d keep a journal of the things I’m learning about living an adventurous life.  I’m realizing that changing your mindset is the very first step to changing your life.  Today my mindset has been challenged.  I can no longer use adventure as my escape, instead if I want to live a truly adventurous life, I must make hard decisions, spend time preparing, and work very hard at changing the things in my life that keep me from true adventure.

As I said, earlier I had a plan to purge a lot of my stuff today.  But, right now I’m going to purge my very first thing standing in the way of my adventurous life: my escape routes.

So, I’m off to begin laundry, clean, and keep purging as I prepare my life and myself for the adventures that await.

 

confessions of a reluctant risk-taker

Time for some honesty…

When I started this blog, I had visions of grandeur.  As, I write this I realize I don’t even know how to spell grandeur.  I thought that if I started a blog about all the travel adventures I went on, I would miraculously start going on more adventures.  Well, here’s the thing about being a reluctant risk taker, emphasis on reluctant.  You reach a point where you realize you bore even yourself with your so-called “adventures.”

Adventures are supposed to be adventurous.  They are supposed to change you and connect you to people you wouldn’t otherwise know.  The way to do this is not by starting a blog and hoping you start taking more adventures, the way to do this is by living an adventurous life.  One that is free from risk, is free from excitement.  So, how do you start to live an adventurous life?  You take risks.  Sometimes I do this and those risks don’t pan out, perhaps that is why I am so reluctant to take risks now as a thirty-one-year-old woman who has never owned anything more expensive than a car.  I have never owned a home, in fact, I have hardly even lived on my own.  So here’s the question I ask myself… Does this make me a fraud?

I have to be honest there are many times that I feel the answer to this question is yes.  I don’t take risks in life, love, or career very willingly.  I have become comfortable with being disappointed in myself.  I am content to live through the lyrics of a Joni Mitchell or Carole King song and sit in my room.  So, many of us know we don’t want the lives we lead, we know there is more out there for us, but we don’t know how to go get it.  Short of quitting my job and cashing out my 401K, I’m not sure I know any better than anyone else how to change my life in the way I want it to look.  Since, I’m a RELUCTANT risk-taker, I’m not very likely to do that.  So, what do I do?

Well, I start by being honest.  Honestly, I long for adventure.  I long for a life that others want to read about.  I long to be the kind of person who others want to be like, and I long to be the kind of person you, my dear reader wants to be friends with.

Rather than focusing on these longings, I know I have to do one thing to change, LIVE!

Living life is the only way to do the things I listed above, but living life can seem so mundane and so tiresome.  How can I be an adventurer who never goes on any adventures? How can I have so many high hopes of grandeur and never live them out?  How?  Because I’m human.

Coming to grips with my humanity is perhaps the greatest adventure I will ever embark upon.  I’m reminded of a line from Hook where Peter says it best.  “To live will be the greatest adventure.”  Living the life right in front of you with all its messiness, all its mundanity, and all its difficulty, this is how adventures are made.  If you are like me and you seek adventure, and keep thinking to yourself, “Someday, I will…”  Let me be honest friend, you and I never will… Like Isaac Marion said, “I want to change my punctuation. I long for exclamation marks, but I’m drowning in ellipses.”  Life is in the ellipses unexplored.  My fellow adventurers we have to stop drowning in the ellipses and have to start changing our punctuation.  And, and the only way to do that is to take our ellipses and banish them.  We have to do, not wish.  We have to live, not wait.  We have to take the life we have and make our days count by doing what we want to do with our lives.

As I said before, short of quitting my job, I’m not exactly sure how to do this.  So, starting small I will pick one thing each week to change about my life and write about it. I will pick one adventure to have or write about one mundane thing that turned into an adventure.  One thing I’m sure of is that life is not meant to be survived, but it is meant to be lived.  Too long I’ve been in survival mode, and now I’m ready to live.

I apologize for missing it before, our lives are the adventure.  The adventures aren’t our lives.  I connect with the music of Joni Mitchell and Carol King, not because their music tells of the adventures they took in their very interesting lives, but because it explored the facts of life, and how we all feel regardless of the adventures we’ve gone on.  We each have a story to tell, we each have people who we love, places we’ve gone, experiences that have changed us.  We all have these stories, and the stories are in the life we lead not in the adventures we go on.

Forgive me for remaining silent on my blog because I thought I had nothing to say or because I’ve gone a while without an adventure, when all along, the adventures were out there waiting for me to just show up in my own life.  How do you show up in your life?  How do you live the adventure we all have set before us? What one thing are you wishing would change in your life, when all along you just need to wake up and change it?  I don’t know the answers on how to help you do all these things, but I will do my best to explain how I answer these questions for myself, as I work to show up for my own life and my own adventure.

Here is my new adventure…

I am going to live.  I am going to pick one thing every week that I want to change about my life and change it.  I will document this journey both here and through a book that I started writing today.

If anything I’ve said has struck a chord with you then sign up below to be on my email list and I will send the first 100 people a PDF copy of my book free of charge when I complete it.

keeping track: why I keep a travel journal

If you’re anything like me, you find that the older you get the less reliable your memory becomes.  I’m in no way old, and actually have a fantastic memory, but it seems with every year, my recall is just a little less ironclad than it was the year before.  This is why I highly recommend one practice for any winerd, foody, or traveler… journaling!

I have a journal from each of my trips, and I write down, the special moments from each trip, that I am worried I’ll forget.  I also take plenty of pictures, but not relying on the pictures to tell the story for me.  I know a picture is worth a thousand words, but if you have pictures and a journal you have fifty thousand words.  (That’s the standard length for a novel, by the way.)  Even if you’re the only one who ever sees your pictures, and reads your journal, it’s worth keeping track for the very fact that your memories will be reinforced in your mind by recording them.

There are three reasons I journal along with my pictures.

  1. I’m a story teller.  As you can probably tell from this blog, I love to tell stories.  As a writer, I also want to challenge myself to tell the story in a way that would help someone visualize the pictures I took without ever showing the pictures to them.
  2. Pictures can’t always capture the moments worth remembering.  For example, my trip to Firenze started with a chance meeting with a woman who didn’t speak any english and we managed to carry on a conversation for 20 minutes, then she put me on the phone with her son.  Now, someone could have taken a picture of us talking, or a picture of her handing the phone over to me with her son on the other end, but no one would be able to see that picture and understand the beauty contained in two strangers sharing the connection she and I shared.
  3. I can stay in the moment, and relive it later.  With photos I have to in some way remove myself from the moment I’m enjoying, in some cases that’s not only worth it, but ideal.  Sight-seeing is meant for photography, but travel is meant for experiencing.  This is how I distinguish what mode I decide to be in.  If I’m traveling I’m in the moment soaking it all in, if I’m sight-seeing I’m documenting the sights I see.  Every trip you take will have moments that are meant for both modes.  Picking your moments, however, to be a traveller rather than a sight-seer will help you experience the moment in a completely different way than you could if you are taking the time to document the moment.

Journaling works for me in all the areas I love.  I have a wine journal, recipe journal, and a travel journal, not to mention my regular every day journal.  I can’t say I always journal everything that I wish I would have, but this is a discipline I’m working on, and one I certainly found helpful for every trip I’ve taken.  How about you?

What is your favorite travel journal?  How do you record memories, do you wait until the trip is over or do you journal at the end of each day?  Do you add pictures and mementos once you’re done writing (creating a scrapbook), or do you keep your journal a journal?

 

birthdays brew up fun

“There can’t be good living where there is not good drinking.” — Ben Franklin

“So much beer… so little time, and so little gluten tolerance.” — Kristen Arnold

This year for my bbff’s (best birthday friend forever) birthday (and mine),  I planned a surprise trip to the Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo Ale Trails. A special thanks to my accomplice Tim, her husband.  This trip was so much fun and full of great beer.  If you are looking for a fun weekend trip, you will love making the rounds in either city.  We spent one day in each city. Though I have no regrets, I highly recommend that if you take this trip you plan on just taking in one city in a weekend or plan a longer trip.

Grand Rapids had a nice mix of small town feel, and classy big city elegance.  There was a lot of great restaurants and a fun nightlife.

I will sum up the trip through my “favourites.”

My favourite beer tasted:  Ned and George stout, Mitten Brewery

My favourite brewery: Founders Brewing Company

My favourite food:  Beer Cheese and Freshly baked pretzles, Brewery Vivant

My favourite restaurant/bar:  Harmony Brewing Company, fun atmosphere and great names for their beers, I ordered the Lil’ Sebastian

Kalamazoo seemed like a much more industrial town.  There were a lot of great breweries, and many of them were small and the whole town was more quaint and much cheaper than anywhere else I’ve ever had beer… Literally, most of the beers were $3-$4 a pint or $6-7 for a flight of tasters.

 

My favourite beer tasted:  The Big “O”, Tibbs Brewing Co.

My favourite brewery: Bells

My favourite food:  Dragon Feast Pizza, Bilbo’s Pizza in a Pan

My favourite restaurant/bar:  Olde Peninsula Brew Pub

 

traveling through wine and people

Wine to me is something that brings people together. Wine does promote conversation and promote civility, but it’s also fascinating. It’s the greatest subject to study. No matter how much you learn, every vintage is going to come at you with different factors that make you have to think again.     ~Robert M. Parker, Jr.

As I mentioned in my last post, I had the privilege of meeting a new friend.IMG_1954  Emily is a fascinating person who has had a lot of unique experiences.  We met at a restaurant where I saw her nerding out over a bottle of wine I’d never heard of before, as a fellow wine nerd I had to ask her about the wine she was drinking.

i0008226_anima_negra_quibia This wine was one of the most unique white wines I’ve ever tasted, it was appropriate that I came to try this wine by meeting one of the most unique people I’ve ever met.

This wine is from the island of Majorca. Majorca is one of the Balearic Islands, and has become a great wine producer of Spain.  This wine is a blend of Premsal, Callet, and Muscat.  I won’t lie I had to do some research on these grapes. Essentially after hours of pouring over each of my wine books and searching the internet, here is what I can tell you about Premsal it is sometimes referred to as Prensal Blanc or Moll.  It is widely produced in Mallorca because of it is indigenous to the region and its ability to withstand high heat, much like the Malvasia in Greece or the Trebbiano in Italy and France (known there as Ugni Blanc). As for Callet, it was even harder to find info on this grape.  Mainly from what I can tell by my limited research and the photos I can find it appears to most resemble the Garnacha Tinta well-known all over Spain.  Muscat is much more well-known and

quibiaAside from the incredibly unique grapes, this wine has an incredibly unique profile.  This beautiful white wine has a rich full, heavy weighted body much like a California Chardonnay.  It smells of peaches, pears, moss, and sea air.  The flavor of the wine is bright and well balanced with an earthy and sulfuric finish. The sulfur comes about because of the lack of oxygen it receives during fermentation and aging. This wine is partly aged in cement vats, but mostly aged in stainless steel on lees and dry ice is administered (a process that minimizes the oxidation in the wine).

In wine, oxidation is often viewed as a bad thing, however, there is a proper amount of oxidation that needs to occur during the aging process.  This need for controlled oxidation is why so many wine makers use porous vessels such as oak barrels. When the right amount of oxidation occurs this process is called reduction.  Reduction removes the sulfuric acidity and condenses the juice in a way that brings out the complex flavors of the grape and the terroir.

This was the first time I’ve ever tasted a wine where the lack of reduction wasn’t completely unpleasant in the wine.  It created what I refer to as a pleasant skunkiness or  pleasant funk… much in the same way that Roquefort blue cheese is pleasantly funky. The wine also had a briny sea salt flavor.  The minerality of the wine was undeniable despite the heavy peach and pear flavors.  I can truly say this wine and meeting Emily and hearing about her adventures in Mallorca sparked a desire in me to visit a place of which, just minutes before, I’d never heard.mallorca_cnt_24nov09_istock_

My experience with this wine conjured up images of sea ports, beaches, mountains, and the beautifully warm sun beating down.  This is why I love wine.  In this moment, I meet a woman who is in love with this wine and explains that it reminds her of a place she loves, and I have never heard of this place before tasting it and can somehow imagine her palma-de-mallorca-port
experience based on the taste.  Then later hearing of her experience living there, my visions are confirmed by story after story.  Wine is the story within a bottle that allows me to travel the world through my tastebuds, and people have the experiences that go with these stories to fill out the pictures of my imagination.

 

destinations-mallorca-island-hero

5 steps to having an adventure in your own backyard

Step One: Pick a partner in crime. You definitely want to pick someone who you love doing things with and who (like you) wants to try new things.

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For this adventure my big sister Sarah and I went into Chicago.  We got dressed up and prepared ourselves to have a fun night.  We realized that having fun meant doing whatever we wanted in the moment, that would be what we did.  When you set out to have an adventure you need someone who is willing to try new things, let you be you, and someone you can have a blast with no matter what you’re doing.

 

Step Two: Be ready for anything! I’m not suggesting that to have a fun adventure you will always be pushed outside your comfort zone, but it a good possibility that if you challenge yourself to do something new, silly, or even just different you will find things to do you wouldn’t normally have done. Which is by definition an adventure.

ad·ven·ture
adˈven(t)SHər,ədˈven(t)SHər/
noun
  1. an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
    “her recent adventures in Italy”

One of the best gifts given to me by another one of my adventure partners were these ANYWHERE cards. It is just one way to challenge myself to make an adventure out of going “anywhere.”anywhere

 

On this adventure I had to climb things, which may seem silly, but it really did make a difference, just giving me a new perspective, and something to do that I honestly wouldn’t have done normally.

Step Three: Try new foods.  I would have never discovered that I love Oysters had I not been willing to try new foods.  In this adventure, both Sarah and I had the same desire to try a food that both of us had previously disliked, but wanted to give it another go.  We both had poor experiences with this food, it was not well prepared and truthfully just was not good. Lately, however, both without realizing the other was feeling the same way, we each were feeling curious again about this food, so we ordered it.

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This Octopus was well prepared and perfectly seasoned… but we both had the same feeling about it… tasty, but not necessary to try again.

Step Four:  Always sit at the bar.  I find the source of most my chance encounters are at restaurants or coffee shops whenever there is close proximity to strangers.  More often than not, we need to get over our childhood conditioning of stranger danger.  Meeting new people is one of the best ways to open yourself up to new experiences, and it all starts with not being afraid to say, “hello.”

IMG_1954 Meet Emily.  She introduced Sarah and myself to a new wine we would never have been able to try without meeting her.  She has had a very interesting life, that led to her ordering this bottle of wine while sitting next to us at the bar.  The passion and excitement she had about this wine was like a child on Christmas morning staring at the pile of wrapped gifts under the tree.  I recognized this excitement because it is so often present in myself whenever discussing food or wine or travel, and is especially present when all three of these things intersect for me. This is a quality that I believe most humans share, but it is always fun to see how it expresses itself in someone else, as it did in Emily at this moment.  Thanks to this chance meeting with Emily, I got to taste a wine that I will never again get to try unless I travel to the island on which it was made. (more about this in another post)

Step Five: (and perhaps the most important step) Wear comfortable shoes.

IMG_2015 The reason this is so important is because you can’t truly complete step two without comfortable shoes.  Half way through your adventure all you’ll be thinking about is your aching feet, and that will put a complete damper on the whole experience.  Your feel will take you so many awesome places, but you have to be ready, which means not killing them two hours into the adventure.

It also is the most important step because it allows you to keep your eyes open to the adventures that may present themselves.  You can’t see anything fun in front of you if you can’t find the will to make your feet walk there, and without comfortable shoes, you’ll never will your feet to take you toward the experiences that are going to take a simple night out on the town and turn it into an adventure.

There is one more step to the secret of my success. It’s a bonus step to making your own adventures anywhere you go: Surround yourself with generous awesome family and friends.  It is what I would call a bonus step because I don’t think I have much choice in the matter.  I just have awesome people in my life, and to be honest this night would have never happened with out my partner in crime choosing me and making the plan.  She bought us tickets to an amazing concert, (something I would never have done).  She treated me to the entire evening out of the goodness of her generous heart.  It’s when you have fantastic people in your life that you are bound to have fun adventures together.  Thanks to my sister Sarah, I had one of the most fun nights of my life, and we didn’t even do anything illegal!  That’s why surrounding yourself with awesome people is so important to great experiences, without someone to share these experiences with, they’re not nearly as fun.

best thing to do when you’re sick

Okay so most of you are saying right now, “What does this have to do with food, wine, or travel?”  Well, nothing.  Nothing, that is if you are a normal person, but if you’re me and you have countless hours of lying in bed to do nothing but sleep and watch movies, you inevitably find yourself starting to think of things that you will/need to do when you are well again.  I will start working out more, I will eat healthier, I will get more sleep on a regular basis, next year I will actually get that flu shot, etc.

If you are like me at all you know these thoughts along with many other thoughts that will place the blame on yourself for why you are currently sick.  Maybe this is not normal for you.  Maybe you have no perpetual self-loathing that causes you to blame yourself for getting sick.  Or maybe, you don’t worry about it when you are sick, and just worry about getting well, like you’re supposed to when ill.  Well, whether in an effort to quiet these thoughts or simply to find more inspiring ways to occupy the very few waking hours I have when ill, I have discovered the best thing to do when I’m sick… DREAM!

That’s right, allow myself the time to dream as I lie sick in bed.  I clear my mental desk and start to organize my thoughts like piles of books and notebooks.  So I start piling my travel goals on one side of my mind and on the other side of my mental desk I create piles of travel books.  I create fake itineraries and fake maps for day trips.  This way when I start feeling even slightly better, I find a way to actually put together these thoughts into potential plans and possible trips.

After I’ve put together all my mental notes, I begin to clear out my sickness ridden room.  I gather all the used tissues into the wastebasket and wash my bedsheets.  Then, I take my travel books, my notebooks, and begin watching all my favorite films that inspire travel. And, I begin watching, writing, and reading…

That’s where more dream vacations are born.

books-1031699_960_720It is important to dream.  Dreams give us something to keep striving for in the mundane.  As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” As one who has many dreams for my future, but has also seen one of my dreams come true… specifically one of my dream vacations become a reality, I believe in the beauty of my dreams.

This is why I not only have a travel journal for the trips I take, but I have a dream travel journal for the trips I have yet to take.  I say have yet to take because part of believing in the beauty of your dreams is believing that they will one day come true.  And so I find some small joys in my bouts of sickness that allow my mind to create new dreams, that I can later make a reality.

 

Here are some questions for all of you:

How do you occupy your mind when sick?  Where do you store all your hopeful dream travel plans?  Have you ever tried to make one of these dream vacations come true?  Where would you go first?

creating a Parisian cafe at home

Today I want to be in Paris…  Reading Descartes, smoking a Davidoff cigarette, and drinking champagne.  I always picture being in a Paris cafe including a cup of coffee or glass of champagne and smoking a cigarette.  Maybe this tobacco obsession is due to every 17d8a9984549301eb5c21fefe705e088art deco paris cafe poster I’ve ever seen or maybe it’s due to the fact that I’m on day two of quitting this disgusting habit myself, so my mind easily craves romanticized notions of smoking.  Whatever the case may be I definitely want to be sitting in a street cafe on the Quai Branly, the Siene on one my right and the Tour d’Eiffel on my left.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, when I desire to hop on a plane and travel to a far off place, I try to find a way to take myself there through culinary and imaginative means.  So today, I researched a classic Parisian cafe dish… le croque monsieur!  This dish is comfort food meets elegance.  I believe our standard american diner menu item, the grilled ham with cheese, was born from the inspiration of this french classic.  Croque-Monsieur meaning “gentleman’s crunch” or “gentleman’s bite” was most likely created by a Paris chef in the early 1900s, then these sandwiches later became ubiquitous in 269540-papillote-croque-monsieur-topParisian cafes sometime around 1910.  (There is a specific story but I’m not sure of its historic or legendary beginnings… you can judge for yourself).

The beautiful thing about the sandwich is that it can be modified in a variety of ways, whatever you want you can put between two slices of bread, and you have a sandwich. Le croque monsieur is no exception, it already has many alterations… you have the croque madame, the croque provencal, and the croque auvergnat (these are just the french variations). Because I am always looking to create unique dishes, and because I had left overs from my breakfast I decided to put my own spin on this time-honored cafe sandwich.

I started my morning with crepes and coffee.  So, what better way to continue the obsession de français, than with a bordeaux and repurposing my breakfast left-overs for a delicious lunch.  So here is today’s Tasty Tuesday recipe …

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disclaimer: i made a third of my recipe

Croque-Monsieur Crepes

  • 3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • 12 pieces of  cooked bacon
  • dijion mustard
  • 12 prepared crepes
  1. In a medium sauce pan melt butter and add flour. Combine with a whisk until it forms a paste.
  2. Add milk in sauce pan over medium heat whisk until it become thick, forming a bechamel sauce.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in 1 1/2 cup of the swiss cheese and the pecorino cheese.
  4. Spread dijion on each crepe, then  wrap one piece of bacon and some swiss cheese in each crepe.
  5. In a casserole dish arrange rolled up crepes, and pour cheese sauce over top the crepes.
  6. Place under broiler (set to high) until golden brown.

 

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