Fernie, British Columbia

January 7, 2013 § Leave a comment


I was going to talk about whole-wheat everything bagels, and croissants the size of my head from the local bakery, and glasses of red wine every night, but somewhere along the way I got lost in all of the snow and didn’t want to come back out. There’s just so much of it, and it’s everywhere, clouding all my pictures in a foggy white haze, and I sort of want to jump in a huge pile of it, like the kid we passed one night on the street who dove into a snow bank, first time he had ever seen snow.

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On Christmas Day, my family took off for a week in the Rockies, to the sleepy little town of Fernie, British Columbia. The food wasn’t much to write home about —though I quite enjoyed those everything bagels — but the snow, oh the snow. The tops of the peaks were so white you could barely see the bumps and riffs underneath you, leaving you to put all your trust in the skis and your legs. Perfect six-point flakes came down almost daily, catching on my scarf and gloves while I rode the chairlift up, minuscule icy beauties. But the real treat was the last day, when we put away our skis in favor of snowshoeing and took off alongside the cross-country trails. We stumbled upon icy ponds; fallen, burnt out trees; layers on layers of snow mounds, which seemed to mimic ocean waves; narrow, winding creeks, which skiers had attempted to cross. We had to stop every five feet or so to take a picture, for my brother to carve another happy face in the snow, or hit a snow-covered branch with his makeshift walking stick, only to have fluffy snow descend on the person unfortunate enough to be walking directly behind him.

On the cross-country trails, locals were out getting an afternoon exercise, most being chased by a dog or two. Some people stopped to chat, but the real beauty was in the silence of the woods. No thrills, no adrenaline rush, just cold fingers and untouched snow.

Tartine’s Lemon Bars

December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment


There’s something about San Francisco and name recognition that when you put the name of a certain café or restaurant before an item of food, you instantaneously know it’s good. Tartine is one of those places, always with a line tailing out the door, always full of the smells of fresh baked croissants and scones, and bread, if you’re very, very lucky. So when an old friend suggested we make Tartine’s lemon bars together, I was definitely on board. We used the pine nuts suggested for the crust. We surprised the man down the street from whom we bought the pine nuts with a plate of still-warm bars. We mixed it up with his family’ breakfast of apple pancakes, a whole hidden apple slice enrobed in soft, fluffy batter; a run out for a pour-over Blue Bottle coffee; a break for Vietnamese sandwiches. It was good to catch up and remember times past. He even reminded me of a pear and almond cake which I made for our prom dinner — I had completely forgotten, but he still had the recipe, and remembered being impressed by the spring-form pan. I only remember the pan of black-and-white cheesecake brownies we devoured in the limo on the way to the after-party.

As I was sitting on the bed the other night, having another freak-out about my post-graduation future, my mother reminded me that sometimes I need to try harder to live in the present. So I’ve compiled another list of little things that make me happy, something I’ve found helpful when the big picture starts to seem overwhelming.

Watching the World Junior Hockey Championships, filling the void created by the NHL lockout.

Lemon sugar cookies, the same ones we’ve made every holiday season since I can remember, devoured this year before I could even photograph them. The stained pages of the Christmas Cookie Cookbook, one of the first cookbooks properly my own, now lacking a binding.

Taking pictures of snow on Boxing Day, with absolutely no one on the road and only a scattering of people on the sidewalks.

Everything bagels from the local bagel and coffee shop, actually covered in seeds instead of just lightly dusted.

The burn in my legs, the powder, the trees turned to icicles, and the pure whiteness that is the peaks of the Fernie Ski Resort in the fog.

Sending out my mother’s hand-printed holiday cards to friends far, far away.

Opening wrapped presents, that I um picked out and tried on a month ago. Gray cashmere sweaters and striped silk wraps from Thailand.

Being in the middle of nowhere, until I’m sick of being in the middle of nowhere. By the way, Hi! I’m in Fernie, British Columbia!

Je me souviens

February 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I’m sitting in the light of a stained glass window of the library in East Pyne, whiling away a few hours between classes. It’s only the second day of term, and the third day back on campus after break. A week spent up north, in Montreal and Dartmouth, has had the added effect of making Princeton cold feel like a summer breeze. Despite having caught a cold, it’s been easy enough to forgo a jacket this week. Otherwise, this week, being the first and before the monotony of mid-semester, has the benefit of every course and subject appearing fascinating and compelling. Visions of Paris, Eastern Europe and Morocco dance at the forefront, haunted by the cultural problems — immigration, terrorism and the destruction of neighborhoods — that I know will follow the thin veneer of the first two classes. I’ve just ordered over $150 of out-of-print and going out-of-print accounts, fictional and autobiographical, of Moroccan immigration as a testament to the theme of the semester. The question: what is hospitality and what does it mean in relation to our pasts?

When we walked into Artigiani off rue Saint-Denis, we were chilled and feeling vaguely triumphant, having just conquered the eccentricities of street parking in Montreal — check posted sign, check contradictory sign posted below, realize spot is permitted, drive to another side street, recommence parking sign-scouting. We were seated at a table in the middle of the dining room, which was largely empty it being a Monday evening, and handed large menus, written in French but punctured with various Italian words that required numerous explanations. Begin translations, retranslations and finally, successful ordering of food. The waiter, who diligently explained almost every item on the menu including how the fresh gnocchi are made, turned out to be the owner and an endearing example of Italian hospitality. We joined him at the bar for a couple of shots of his family’s homemade limoncello, discussing his hometown outside of Naples, the conviction of the Afghani family that murdered its three “Westernized” daughters in Quebec, the state of the surrounding ski areas and various future vacation plans. It seems like if there’s one thing people can bond over (besides food), it’s having a list of places we’d like to go but have never been. Call it a list of desires — everyone has one but many have no means to accomplish the majority on it.

The rest of the week was filled with touring human creations meant to take you away from the present to a different setting and existence: a snow village of igloos filled out with bedrooms made of ice complete with an ice bar and restaurant, and the biodome which recreates natural animal habitats, a tropical rainforest and northern maple forest among them. Coming back from an action-packed vacation to a class discussing the shadow of the Soviet Union, it’s striking to remember that movement and travel is not yet a universal right and how very lucky we are to be able to learn by seeing different parts of the world first hand.

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