lundi, septembre 04, 2006

Food and Frenzy

Since today was a bracing mix of highs, lows and intensity, I'm going to front-load the delightful surprise that made my evening. As Val and I were exiting the métro station Madeleine, we came across this awesome display of Lego™ bunnies and neon pink Post-It™ notes. Those of you who know me well probably don't need any explanation for why this sort of thing creams my proverbial Twinkie™, but here it is for the rest of you. This sort of thing rings my bell on several levels:

  1. bright colours,
  2. pixel-like graphics / technology-nostalgia,
  3. cuteness (i.e. OMG bunnies!!),
  4. everyday/urbanscape art (see yesterday's post),
  5. and did I mention bright colours?

Thanks to all of this as well as the rest of my night following this, the earlier part of my day was just a prelude to awesomeness.

My day started early and already a bit hectic. At 8.15am, I was to meet with the students I was responsible for and take them by métro to the UCParis Center. After being sidetracked by a request for help from the student whose baggage was lost last saturday, I headed downstairs in a rush—only to find merely one of five students waiting for me in the lobby. After a bit of waiting, another one showed up. Finally, I went back upstairs and found the rest of them catching up. With a bit of hustle (and a stop at the boulangerie), we made it into the métro and to the Center relatively problem-free.

Once I got there, however, it was non-stop. All the students needed to be enrolled into the virtual clasroom for their courses right away. One of the old (virtual) courses from the summer should've been copied into a new version for the fall. An unexpected student has arrived and she needs to be added to everything.

As I began to deal with that, I was called away to speak to the students about how to get onto the WiFi at the Center. As I finished with my little presentation (which I stumbled through in french then english), I returned to my office, only to be followed by five students as class broke for lunch. All of them couldn't get onto the network, and it took almost half an hour before I figured out that there was a capitalization error beteween the actual password and the paperwork I had found in my office when I arrived. Thank goodness for Keychain Assistant on MacOSX! I was able to hack into my own keychain and figure out what my WiFi WEP key was and compare it against the one on paper. I like simple solutions. In the midst of all of this, Val and I were trying to find a way to update the builds on all of the laboratory computers without interfering with classes—despite some odd complications and a conflict with labor day in the US (i.e., nobody in Chicago was answering their email).

The rest of the day was full of similar problems, tasks and occasional solutions; good moments, bad moments, but all of them intense. For the sake of professionalism (and ethics) I won't go into details about the inner workings of the Centre. The end of that story was that I wrapped up the day exhausted, but moderately pleased with my performance on rapidly shifting ground.

From here, the story pics up after my encounter with the pink Lego™ bunnies. After thinking ahead and actually making a reservation, we finally ate at Brasserie Bofinger—the same brasserie we had tried to get into yesterday. As you might gather from yesterday's post, this place served awesome seafood and I was really eager to go. Val started with the soupe à l'ognion, which she professed to be the best she's ever had, and I ate the millefeuille de crabe et pomme Granny as an appetizer. With a name like millefeuille, I was expecting some sort of layered confection of crab meat and crisp, thin-cut apple slices; the contrast of crunchy acidulated apple slices and soft, wet crab meat would've been perfect. Alas, the plate I got consisted of three blobs of crab meat interspersed with three dessicated (and thus chewy) slices of apple. The flavour was still mind-blowing, but the texture wasn't what I expected.

The main dish, on the other hand, totally surpassed all expectations. Val got some sort of beef preparation that I totally forgot as I was swept away by my main dish. I got the choucroute de la mer, which included a mound of Alsatian sauerkraut (stay with me, here), a langoustine, several pieces of delicately prepared fresh fish and a pool of the most amazing butter sauce. It tasted like a salty caramel, scented with a combination of spices that were too subtle for me to detect.

Finally, the dessert. Val got a chocolate cake, which I also completely forgot about, because I had le trou normand. So, I realize that this translates into "The Norman Hole," but bear with me. This is a sundae-sized glass cup, filled with 3 scoops of green apple sorbet (essentially, green apples crushed and frozen), decorated with a lattice of hardened caramel and fruit, with a side of calvados (apple-based) liqueur. You take the calvados, dump it on the sorbet, and eat. Holy !@#$ it was delicious.

All in all, it was good to be Luis by the end of the night. The evening was only marred briefly by the waiter at the end of the meal. We pulled out a coupon that gave us a %20 reduction for the meal and he didn't like it one bit. He eventually took it, but not without a fair bit of hostility. Ah well, at least the food was good!

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