Family, Friends and Food…Oh My

Once again, it’s been awhile. I promise not to make these long absences a habit, though I doubt anyone notices besides my mom! I have good reason for not writing though: I spent 3 weeks at home in sunny San Diego, California. You may be thinking “Psh, so what? You have plenty of time to write when you’re hanging out, unemployed, in a place where the only thing to do is chill out on the beach.” However, I wasn’t necessarily spending my days lazing by the Pacific, cultivating an epic tan as I had imagined I would be doing prior to the trip. The itinerary went as followed: prepare for massive party at parents house for the wedding of a friend of the family, have said party, go to said wedding, party for brother’s birthday, lunch and dinner for brother’s birthday the following day, go to LA to get visa for France and catch up with friends,  sister’s  baby shower, sister’s birthday, and generally trying to see all of my friends (some of whom I haven’t seen in almost a year) and spend time as much time as possible with them and with my family. I think I went to the beach once, hung out by the pool a few times, but mostly it was running around from place to place. I can’t complain though as all of the aforementioned events were so much fun, and I spent so much amazing time with my friends and family. I also got a massage, a manicure and pedicure, and ate Mexican food almost everyday. Hollah! So, poor me, I was just too busy being on vacation to update my blog! Life is so hard.

Some culinary highlights of the trip home: First and foremost, Mexican food! I started off the trip on the right foot by going to Mama Testa’s in Downtown San Diego immediately. This place has amazing everything, which is a feat considering that most Mexican food restaurants usually have just a small arsenal of specialties that they are known for. And, they have the most epic salsa bar ever imagined. I shared steak and pork soft tacos and taquitos with 2 other people, and it was the perfect welcome home meal. Throughout the trip I also indulged in spicy Mexican chicken soup with avocado, chili rellenos, enchiladas, tamales and endless corn tortilla chips dipped greedily and desperately into guacamole and salsa. Oh, and there was also a fish taco bar. Endless fish tacos? Yes, please! Gracias.

Besides Mexican food, San Diego is also known for its’ good seafood restaurants. And there are more and more of them all the time! Since the last time I was home over 8 months ago, 2 new fish restaurants have popped up right by my parent’s house. Good thing they’re within walking distance as they both have really good happy hours with cheap local beer and sake. At one of the restaurants, Fish 101, they have amazing happy hour oysters. Oh, des huitres! Comme je vous aime, mes chères.

At the other restaurant, HapiFish (stupid name, but amazing happy hour and good sushi) the sake was so cheap it almost seemed they were paying me to drink it. Lord how I missed it sushi! While it’s possible to find very good sushi here in France, it is astronomically priced. So I definitely relished the hamachi and tatake sashimi, hand rolls of all variations and ahi tuna in any form while I was there. Speaking of ahi, my brother made the most succulent, unimaginably delicious seared ahi I’ve ever had, and I’ve had quite a few of them. It was a massive piece of fish (pictured below, on the right) which he marinated in a mixture of shoyu, fresh orange and lemon juices, garlic and ginger. He then reduced the marinade to make it a thick, spicy, and somewhat addictive sauce for the fish. 

Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chocolate Cake by Chocolate and Zucchini

As far as savory food goes, I pretty much oscillated between Mexican food and seafood. But there was also a lot of baking involved in this trip as there were many birthdays, celebrations and barbeques. However, only a few deserts were captured by the camera before they were devoured. I was happy with every singe recipe I made, and I highly recommend them all! Particularly the Melt-in-Your-Mouth Chocolate Cake. I’ve made this many times now and it always receives rave reviews. It is incredibly dense and it literally does melt in your mouth. It’s perfect with a refreshing scoop of vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

Banana Cream Pie by Martha Stewart

The Banana Cream Pie was fresh and light and was also a crowd pleaser. I’d been craving it for ages, but for some reason I don’t ever buy bananas in France. They usually come packed in a plastic bag, and something about it makes me more aware of how far away. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. I normally try to buy local and organic produce, but for some reason my Banana Cream Pie craving was strong enough to break my moral compass. Note: make sure you chill this one for quite awhile. I didn’t give it enough time in the fridge before serving and the result was sloppy, delicious banana cream goo.

Peanut-Butter-Swirl Brownies by Martha Stewart

On a happy note, the Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies were almost too decadent. A little bit of these guys goes a long way, and it goes a lot further with a glass of ice-cold milk. Eating them late one night made me feel like a little girl again. My one complaint about the recipe is I felt there was too much peanut butter and not enough chocolate, and as you can see from the photo I had difficulty with the swirl aspect of the recipe. But it was still absolutely delicious and I will definitely make them again, though perhaps with a tweak or two.

But of course I did more than eat while I was home! I also spent a lot of much needed time catching up with friends and family. Voici, some photos of the festivities.

As I have so many people whom I love in the United States, it gets harder and harder to come back to France each time. But how can I not come back to the land of galettes for at least one more round as a prof d’anglais? Yup, it’s official. My contract is signed, my visa is stamped, and I am back in Rennes until at least next summer. And after that? On verra….

In the meantime, while I’m over here figuring it all out, here are some photos of San Diego to make me feel a bit closer.

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