Monday, 31 March 2008

saying a final goodbye to Bordeaux.

It's funny how you don't appreciate things until after you're gone. I felt quite ready to leave Bordeaux, but now that I'm not there anymore, I miss it quite a lot. I thought I was just travelling, and I am of course, but now I realise that I actually had made inroads into building a little life for myself there and letting that go is a little sad.

But back to the last week. Unfotunately a lot of it's quite hazy because on Sunday my laptop went bung, and it turns out I really rely on it for everything. EVERYTHING. Including taking notes for things (like what's happened this week). Paper? Pen? What are they?

But before that, I spent Sunday and Monday in the city with Kara and Andrew. We wandered around and went back for another mint tea by the St Michel markets. Despite the fact that it was Easter Sunday, there was actually more stuff open in the city, I guess because people were out and about a bit more for the long weekend. I went into the shop with the lovely dress I wanted, only to find it was so cheap (100 coffees) because it actually was made of three separate parts, and each one was 100 coffees. Not so cheap after all. Kara and I had dinner in a proper French restaurant which was great, because I've been doing my best to eat on the cheap. I had something called 'tournedos' which was a fillet of beef tied into a round shape. The French cook their meat much rarer than in Australia - I ordered it medium ('a point') and it was very very red, but it was also one of the best pieces of meat I've ever eaten, and the restaurant wasn't anything special - just a normal nice cafe/restau. I guess you just have to accept that the French know how to cook things, get over your Anglo fear of blood and get on with the enjoying.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday were spent taking the computer to the repairer, which was all a bit of a palaver, but in the end we found an authorised macman, who was a real pro, and fixed it under the computer warranty which really saved me a LOT of hassle. I am even more convinced that macs are the way to go now. Not only did it not completely die in the face of real adversity, the warranty was genius, and the guy was able to type my serial number into a computer and see picture of exactly what the guts of my computer look like. Magic! And even though I'm on the other side of the world, I didn't have to pay a cent. I had a funny experience driving to see him though (the company was in the sticks). We drove past a KFC and my host mother said (in French): 'Oh hey! A KFC! I've heard of that....'. What. The. Apparently it's not very big here. I hadn't even noticed.

On Thursday I tried to make inroad into the list of things I wanted to do before I left Bordeaux. I went to the magic haberdashery shop and spent way too much money on some gorgeous beads and buttons and the most beautiful (and expensive) ribbon I've ever seen. I finished the macaron project, and even went back and redid some of the photos that I wasn't happy with. I went to the Place de Parliament (the funky end of town I disovered late in the piece) and explored a bit. I went and did my best to look in the Grand Theatre. I couldn't get very far, bit it was very interesting because the foyer is all sandstone on the inside, just like the outside and it feels like being in an old Roman building or something. I'm sure the actual auditorium is the opposite becuase I've now seen pictures and it looks lavishly decorated and incredible, and I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to see anything there. I caught up with Holli (another Australian) for a last coffee and bought my ticket to Lyon (15 coffees. Bar-gain). In the evening I went to Kara's and she made me a lovely dinner. I tried 4 French cheeses, fromage blanc, and she made a lovely daal. It was so nice to hang out in someones home, and have a lovingly cooked meal. On my way home, I saw another hedgehog! I wish they would come out in the day so I could take a picture...

On Friday for lunch, I had the most amazing crepe. We went to this little crepe place, and I got a crepe filled with andouille sausage, artichokes, mushrooms and cheese, and it must've been 10cm high! I also had a dessert crepe with home made salted caramel sauce and it was absolutely delicious!

On Saturday I continued with my Bordeaux list. I went to La Poste, and got a little further on my discovery of how it works. It turns out if you send something in a soft envelope (as opposed to a box), it's considered a 'letter' (regardless of the contents) and you don't have to fill in a declaration of what's inside, and you get charged about 1/10 the price. Oy vey the French. I went across the bridge to take some photos of the city. It was a beautiful day and a lovely thing to do, but unfortunately the photos didn't turn out because of all the sun. I went to Mollat (the big bookstore) and looked at the Nez du Vin book, and also at the new 'Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band' cd, simply because that really must be the best band name ever. I had lunch at the Utopia cinema (since I ran out of time to actually see a movie there). I had a nice salad, and it's a beautiful place - converted out of an old church with stained glass windows everywhere. At 4, the gang met up at the local English pub to watch the Oxford/Cambridge rowing race (apparently it's a big deal) and then we went for dinner at a nice little restaurant. I had a gorgeous goat cheese salad (lovely soft chevre, mixed lettuce, walnuts and honey) and then a chicken dish ('Basque-style') which reminded me of Mum's chicken a la Bronhill only not so good (which still makes it pretty good). A lemon cake for dessert with creme anglaise, tilleul tisane (lime blossom tea, just like Proust!) and then a digestif of chilled Manzana which is an apple liqueur. And all for about 10 coffees! It was really great to hang around with all of the people that I've gotten to know in Bordeaux (Nathalie & her husband, Kara, Andrew, Holli, Amy and a few others) and it was a lovely relaxing way to finish my visit.

On Sunday I was up early for my train (and because the start of daylight savings made it even worse) and to spend a little time with the family saying goodbye. Although they could be quite exhausting, the kids were really lovely and sweet and I actually quite miss them. I guess there's nothing like kids climbing all over you to make you feel at home, and seeing how excited they got each time I walked in the door was a nice feeling.

On the train I had too much luggage and it was an imperial pain in the neck.When I left home I took as much as I could because I knew I'd be living away for some time, but now I wish I'd brought one change of clothes and a toothbrush. The train ride was 7.5 hours long, and it was quite nice because (although I tried) I found I could do much without risking feeling motion sick, so it turned out to be enforced quiet thinking time. Watching the countryside go by was nice too, although it's like Australia and once you've seen half an hour of it, it doesn't change much. Everything is just coming out of winter here so there were lots of grey trees and woods, but the grass is the most luminous, lurid green I've ever seen. And they think they're in a drought!

So goodbye Bordeaux! It really is a beautiful, small, clean, safe, and pretty pretty pretty city and I'm glad I got to spend so much time there. I think it was a good introduction to France.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

leaving Bordeaux.

Macaron-A-Day # 14: Cassis Violette

The 14th and final Baillardran ('bay-ee-aahr-droh' with phlegmy French r's if you can manage it) macaron.

This one has been a little while in the works partly because my computer was kaput, but partly because neither blackcurrants or violets are in season here, so I had to get a little creative. My first idea was to get a Kir Royale (a very French drink of champagne flavoured with a little cassis syrup) which also seemed like a nice treat to round off the project with. And it was. (Very tasty indeed, I le recommend, and I don't even like champagne. On the other hand, it cost me 4 coffees, so it must've been made with some serious champagne. That or the waiter saw me coming). Unfortunately the Kir was pretty much the colour of rose wine (ie. not remotely purple), so the photo was not up to my standards, which are rapidly increasing, and unfortunately faster than my talent. .

So I had to do a re-do with some jam and lollies. Quel dommage, hey. This was quite a strongly flavoured macaron, and (if I understood the lady right) the violet is the flavour of the creme, and doesn't just refer to the colour. I would have to say that it did taste more floral than it did berry-y, but on the other hand I don't think it was quite as nice as some of the others, as it wasn't as subtle a flavour. Well, you wouldn't expect it to be with a colour like that, would you?

And the result? Well I would have to say that the lemon was my favourite with rose coming second, and coconut third, and vanilla and raspberry getting honourable mentions. Apparently macarons are a speciality of Bordeaux, but apparently also they're a speciality of every other French city, so hopefully this is not the end of my macaron tasting, although I suspect it may be the end of the photo essay. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. It's been a nice little project - it gave a little structure to my week, gave me something a little creative to plan and execute and now I've got a nice little sense of satisfaction at having made something new. Oh, and they tasted good too.

(PS. I wasn't happy with the lemon or raspberry photos, so I went back and re-did them. So I had to eat MORE macarons. Life in France, hey? Anyway, the whole series is here if you want to go back and have a look).

Monday, 24 March 2008

in the merde.

Might be a bit sporadic for a while. My laptop is currently tombe en panne (completely buggered) ... it should be alright because it will either get fixed or replaced by my travel insurance or the home and contents but I'm not sure how long it will take and in the meantime I'm at the mercy of public technology. Wooh.

PS. Mum, can you find the receipts for the laptop and the APP (warranty) please and email them to me? They're electronic and should be backed up on a cd in my room by the foot of my bed. Thanks.

I wish I knew more French swearwords. My phone is currently marching at least.

UPDATE: My computer is fixed perfectly and I want to marry the magical macman that fixed it for free!

Sunday, 23 March 2008

underdressed for the deceivingly pretty French sun. Again.

This week feels like nothing has happened. That's probably true to some extent - I've been stressed out about not finding a job and I've forgotten to pay attention to what's actually happening now. Mental note - don't do that again.

On Monday I bought some chocolate to send home. The chocolate here for Easter is amazing! Even the lame supermarket chocolate is impressive - life sized chickens, Noddy ('Oui-Oui') statuettes and every other kind of thing under the sun. So you can imagine what the proper chocolate shops are like! The window displays are gorgeous - which is something the chocolate shops have in common with all the other shops. Quite often you'll see a window with a sign apologising for the lack of a display, and telling you that the new incarnation is in the process of being 'realised'. All of this explains why the French phrase for window-shopping translates directly as 'licking the windows'. When they're full of chocolate, yes please! Anyway, I made it to my chosen chocolate shop bought a couple of little treats and it turned out to be the mecca. Not of chocolate though - of bubble wrap! When I saw that the lady had a big roll, I thought 'aha! She must know where to buy it'. So I asked, and she gave me the same line as everyone else...'ooooh. It's very specialised....' but then she gave me a big wad for free. Yippee! I thought this trip would be a good exercise in teaching me not to hoard unnecessary things, but it's actually doing the opposite. I'm collecting all sorts of rubbish (notably Australian postpaks and bubble wrap) because it's very odd the things that are difficult to find here.

On Tuesday I had a bit of a mishap because I was sitting around at home at 7:30 waiting for the family to arrive home, when I got a call from one of my (Adelaide) French teacher's friends who had invited me to the theatre on Thursday. It turned out that the play was actually Tuesday and there'd been a mixup so I had to sprint for the tram! The play was an English one which had been translated into French (I've forgotten what... not one I knew) and it illustrated that if you want to write a weird wacky performance art type thing, a good place to start would be to put it into a language that the audience doesn't understand. As far as I'm concerned the play was about 3 people arguing about where to put a chair, and one of them was wearing a coat with spoons sewed onto it. Fortunately it was only an hour long! (Actually I'm exaggerating - it was quite interesting, but I'm obviously not at the level yet where I can appreciate French theatre). The lady who invited me was very nice, and after the play we (and her three children) went for a kebab (yiros). It was very tasty and just like the ones at home except it tasted a bit fresher, they put chips in (which makes it a bit like an AB I suppose) and they use mayo instead of garlic sauce (not sure if this is standard or just this place). Walking home from the tram, a little animal dashed across the quiet street in front of me. It froze when it saw me, and what do you think it was? A hedgehog! If only it had been day and I could've gotten a better look at it.

Actually this week has really been animal week here. Apart from the hedgehog and the chocolate, there's also been a mouse loose in the house. The family's having a pool built so all sorts of things are coming out of the woodwork. My hostmother is quite afraid of this mouse (which I gather is very small) and walks around with big boots on and makes sure all the doors are closed. There numerous measures in place to trap the blighter, none of which have been successful as yet. I also found a massive huntsman in my little ensuite toilet late one night. I thought about letting it do it's own thing, and then realised that I would have to wonder where it was every time I needed to go, so I trapped it under a glass and saved it for the morning. I waited until the little boy was up as I thought he might be interested. As it turns out, he was not, and I had to put it outside tout de suite! (Which btw, 20 years later explains that Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang song about the 'toot sweets'). Despite me talking about how pretty it was, and 'Look! It's got eyes on it's arms!' and 'Look! How many legs does it have?' he was most unimpressed and a little afraid I think. I also showed him the photos of me with the giraffes at Elsie's wedding. 'Weren't you SCARED???' The upshot of this is that I am now considered superwoman because I'm not afraid of spiders or mice or giraffes. I haven't got the heart to tell him that's it's only because we have spiders that will KILL you at home, and the wussy French ones pale in comparison. Or that I'm more afraid of the dogs here because they might have rabies.

On Wednesday I did my best to do Nhan out of her 'bargain-queen' title, by buying a new pair of shoes for only 2.5 coffees. That's even cheap in dollars! They're canvas flats with a white rubber toe (like Converse's) and a velcro strap and they're black with cherries. Unfortunately it's been stupid and raining and I haven't been able to wear them much. I tried on Thursday and it was a very good exercise in biting off my nose to spite my face. The weather does not care that I'm wearing inappropriate footwear just because I'm cross with it. On bargain day I also bought some more TinTin dvds, and these ones actually seem to work in English. On Thursday I met a friend of a friend of a friend, who was a nice old lady and we had a cup of coffee and then she showed me around the old town a bit.

Friday was a nothing day as far as I can remember because it rained, it rained, it rained and Saturday was rainy too (even hail!) but I went out in it anyway. I had my habitual coffee/internet time, and then I did a little shopping now that I've finally found the funky (if expensive) shopping area. I bought a bunch of fun jewellery (cheap, but not in the end because I bought a bit much) and some reusable plastic straws. I met Kara and we picked up some rose macarons (and Andrew along the way) and went and had more Moroccan mint tea. In the evening I babysat the kids again and it went perfectly. No more tears about 'where's Mummy' and I even translated 'Spot' into French for the evening story. We watched an American kids movie ('Raymond') and it was completely bizarre to watch Tim Allen with a different voice. Often the French actors doing the dubbing sound pretty similar, but this guy's was completely different and it made it really really odd.

Today is Sunday, Easter Sunday and I'm in the city checking my email and hoping the nice weather holds. The family has given me a big chocolate chicken, which is very nice of them, but is making the teeny (chocolate!) puppy dogs I bought for the kids look a bit lame...

I've been applying for au pair jobs, but no luck so far. Fingers crossed. I've decided if nothing comes up by the end of the long weekend, I'm going to book in to do another month of classes, but maybe in Lyon so I can see another city.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

hoping the sun stays out until after lunch in the park.

Macaron-A-Day # 13: Rouge Diva

Jeez. You have no idea how difficult this photo was to take. I'm rapidly realising that travelling is one of those things that's good to do on your own, but better with a friend for so many reasons. We're getting on to the more abstract flavours and I'm having to get a bit more creative. And flexible.

What flavour is this supposed to be? Good question. I thought it tasted a lot like blackberry jam, or that rich raspberry jam that you get in the middle of really good doughnuts from the markets. And with chocolate icing of course. Of course.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Macaron-A-Day #12: Vanille

It's funny isn't it, that vanilla is often thought of as 'plain'. I love vanilla, it's so warm and fragrant, and did you know it comes from an orchid?

This macaron was truly rich and vanilla-y, and the (expensive, artisan) ice-cream tasted quite bland in comparison.

Three very enthusiastic thumbs up - fine holiday fun.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

very responsible.

Wow, I am so tired at the moment. I don't know whether it's the last two months finally catching up with me, today's (relative) lack of caffeine or the fact that I actually got more than 8 hours sleep last night, but whew! Sorry if I ramble even more than usual!

On Wednesday I walked past roadkill for the first time here. On closer inspection it was a hedgehog. Jeez. I guess that's what Europeans feel about us eating kangaroos. After class I went searching for flat shoes to go with my new jeans. I found a perfect pair for 2.5 coffees but they didn't have my size unfortunately, and after that I got a bit picky trying to find as good a bargain, so I still don't have shoes at this point. After that I met Holli, another Australian who I was put in touch with through a friend of a friend. It's funny how that works here - I never would've asked a total stranger out for coffee at home... anyway we had a coffee and went for a little window shopping which was nice. I found a Tintin dvd for 4 coffees (they do exist, although not in a convenient box set) which said it had French and English, but turned out to only have the former. Although it seems that Australia and France are the same dvd region so at least it'll play on my laptop. Anyway. I digress. Holli convinced me that working in an English pub would be a bad idea, and that working as a nanny in Paris would be a much better option so that is the new plan. On Wednesday I also found the most wonderful habadashery shop. It sells just buttons and beads and ribbons and wool and apart from the shop being big but quaint and French, all the things for sale were lovely. I found the best hair ribbon EVER (I think I might be heading back to that phase) but at 22 coffees a metre, I need to check *exactly* how many centimetres my head is before putting a kidney on eBay.

On Thursday evening I went to the cocktail at the school. Here a 'cocktail' is a little party with finger food and wine - no actual cocktails in sight - and they have one at the school once a month. It was in a very small room with a very large number of people and I ate an enormous number of teeny sandwiches because I wasn't sure if I was going to get dinner. I even had one with caviar (have I mentioned that there's a whole shop that sells nothing but caviar here?0 which wasn't too bad! More salty than fishy although I didn't go back for more. The wine was nice but I had a bit of a mishap when I asked for a glass of white. The man asked if I'd like the sweet or the dry. I asked for the sweet and he made me try the dry one first. It was pretty sweet, and I thought he'd made a mistake and I was about to get a glassful of the dry, but he filled my glass with the other and I got a glass of REALLY sweet wine. I've never tasted anything like it. It was as sweet as dessert wine, only, it wasn't as thick. Ho-ly cow. Just like cordial. And since I don't like dry wine, you'd think I would've loved this, but it was actually just way too much. But I guess it must be a standard variant of wine here because no-one else seemed to think it was weird...

After the cocktail we went to a little gathering that the German girl in my class had organised since she was going home the next day. It was at a cute little bistro which turned out to be a seafood restaurant only with a bar and a fire. I ended up having a prawn salad since I sort of felt like I had to order something and it seemed the least fishy thing on the menu. It was ok, but I tried one of Andrew's (giant) pile of mussels and I actually really liked it! It was lovely and meaty and not seafood-y at all! Maybe I'll be converted yet... I also ordered a Monaco, which we learned in class earlier is a beer with pomegranite syrup flavouring (in answer to my question about 'what is the pink beer'...which turned into a big discussion on how to order a beer in France - on tap vs in the bottle and what size). It was quite nice but a bit sweet and probably a waste of the beer because it probably would've tasted the same with fizzy water. I think it might be a nice idea though with only the tiniest dash of the syrup. After the seafood I cracked (by the way, the French love that word...'crack''s like a very positive version of 'voila'. Which they also use a lot.) and ordered my French creme brulee. Oh and it was so worth it. WAY better than the ones at home. The custard was really light and creamy - almost more like custard flavoured whipped cream - and the crackly top was caramalised but hadn't quite made it to burnt. Apparently it was a pretty big serving too, so I guess I chose my moment well!

On Friday nothing very interesting happened, except I discovered that the Monaco is not the end to the flavoured beers - on the contrary it is just the only one with a special name. You can ask for your beer flavoured with any number of syrups, and so I tried a teeny weeny beer with lunch (15cL) with mint syrup which I chose because it seemed the least likely to work, and therefore I thought it must be good because otherwise they wouldn't sell it. Please see my comments on the Monaco because they apply here too. Except it did come out a lovely bright green colour!

Saturday was the day for the second attempt to go to Arcachon (you'll remember the first attempt was a washout since the busses don't run on Sundays). First thing went to an oyster restaurant in a town where they catch them. I decided not to go for the 12 oyster degustation, but then at the last minute had a pang of regret, so I asked the lady if I could buy one oyster to taste since I don't really like seafood, but it seemed like probably the time to try one - if I don't like them when they're fresh out of the ocean like that i never will. She very kindly gave me one for free, and I must say, it wasn't completely horrible...kind of like when you've been swimming and swallowed a bit too much seawater. But then I didn't chew it which apparently you're supposed to after all (or so the man shelling them told me...AFTER) and nor did I have lemon juice which makes quite the difference I hear. We got to Arcachon and whilst searching for lunch found a beautiful old merry-go-round. We took a spin (one coffee) and I went on a pretty horse that went up and down just like in the cartoons. We went to a Breton creperie for lunch and I tried a cheese crepe made from buckwheat which is apparently a Bretanique(?) specialty. I wasn't so impressed though - it tasted it bit plasticy - maybe crepes (unlike bread) are just better made with white flour. While we were eating it started raining....and raining and raining and raining. This meant that walking around the town was a washout but we got back on the bus and we drove around the 'winter suburb' which is a very beautiful area of mansions (and I mean serious mansions with turrets and everything) which people own as winter shacks. Not quite Bonnie Doon....Arcachon also still has a school for sick kids to go because the fresh sea air is considered restorative. How very quaint. We made it to the Dune de Pilat (aka the Dune du Pyla) and it kindly stopped raining and the sun came out. This is the biggest sand dune in the world (over 117m high if my French numbers are correct, and much longer) and it was hard work to climb but spectacular from the top. To the left forest, and to the right sea. We had great fun running down the steep slope, which made me feel just like a camel because the sand forced you to run funny. I ended up running around in my socks, because my feet kept sinking and I nearly lost my shoes, which turned out to be the worst compromise because my socks (and pants) ended up very wet from the earlier rain.

On Saturday night I babysat for the family which was good experience if I end up working as an au pair. I was pretty apprehensive about living with kids before I came, but I've gotten to really enjoy playing with them. I just had to put the little boy to bed, and he started to get a bit sad and miss his mum, but with a bit of misdirection (an extra episode of Casper and two stories) the crisis was averted and he slept...the only creature stirring was the little mouse that is apparently in the house and terrorising my host mother.

Today was not very interesting because I've spent most of the day looking at the computer. I went into the city to use the wifi and just missed getting rained on, which was lucky because I've discovered that 4 coffee umbrellas are a complete waste of time as mine is not only bent all over the place, but also turns inside out at a butterfly sneezing and the fabric is half come off. I went to the cool 'asian' place with the eames chairs, and had a reasonably good pad thai and an A.C.E. juice (I figured out why it's called that too becuase it's nothing to do with the ingredients [orange, lemon, carrot] - it's the vitamins in it!) and a banana lassi that was closer to a milkshake. I spent half the day writing my 'dear family' letter which is a necessary addition to my au pair application and since I thought I should write it in French, took me an absolute age. This is not a good place to end, but it's all I have to say and I am very tired and going to sleep now. Ok bye bye.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

a little over coffee every day.

Maracon-A-Day #11: Chocolat Fruit de la Passion

Let me start by suggesting that perhaps France in winter is not the place to buy passionfruit? Wouldn't it have been pretty if I could've found a passionfruit flower though!

This photo also illustrates that these macarons, they do not travel well.

This macaron was a little different from the others because it was passionfruit flavoured, but had chocolate icing. I would say it reminded me most of chocolate fondue - the fruit flavoured biscuit gave it a lovely passionfruit fragranced tang and crunch, but the icing dominated and the overall sensation was that of smooth creamy chocolate. Tas-ty.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

writing a blog about nothing.

This week has been really quite a big one...although maybe it just seems that way because this week I made an effort to note down what I did each day, so I haven't already forgotten it all already.

On Thursday after my class, I randomly bumped into Kara, an American au pair that I met a few weeks ago at the USA-Bordeaux association conversation class. We hung out and wandered around the city, which was fun. We went to a little supermarket because I needed some food, and pfaffed around for ages talking about the differences in what's available here, in the US and at home (in a word: Cadbury). Although the pfaffing probably had more to do with me being indecisive about what to buy for the USA-Bordeaux potluck that evening. I went because I thought it might be a good place to make some possible job-giving contacts. I didn't really have a heap of fun, because there were loads and loads of people there and mingling with strangers isn't really my thing. I did meet another Aussie girl who's working in a British pub and suggested that is probably my best bet at finding a job. I also met a man who lectures at the conservatoire here, who invited me to a concert, and who told me that there's a really good bassoonist here named Jean Marie Lamothe who maybe I can have some lessons with. He even plays German bassoon (!) and a quick google told me he's played with the Ensemble Intemporcorain. Hang on. Let's try that again. Ensemble Contemporain? Intercontemporain. In the struggle to learn French, I'm losing my English and ending up with neither language. It's really quite the problem. Although I guess worse things happen at sea. Anyway, I think he's also played with Pierre Boulez and Frank Zappa. Fingers crossed. I also met a man who made disparaging noises when I told him that we have a large Sudanese population in Adelaide, and he had a big whinge about how horrible the English are. Nice. I also met a French lady who said that anglo accents are actually considered quite pretty, and that I shouldn't make too much of an effort to lose mine. Although it only works to a point: I think 'jay swees Australian, parlay voos anglaiz?' is not appreciated.

On Friday I ran for the bus AGAIN. Seriously it doesn't matter when I get up, the bus always seems to be 300m ahead of me. I think although they're cleaner, more reliable and just generally less rubbish than the Adelaide buses, they still are liable to follow the timetable 'give or take'. The little garcon helped me make my lunch, and he helpfully 'prepared' my fruit box for me. Which meant I had a fruit box for breakfast and a different fruit box for lunch. I had coffee after lunch with the Dutch lady from my class, and we had a big heart to heart which was really nice. We also randomly had coffee in a little teapot shop, and I think we may've found the cheapest coffee in the city, because it cost less for 4 coffees than it usually costs for two. Maybe it's a loss leader.... and they even roast their own beans! After that I did the Macaron-of-the-Day which has left me with a coconut (suggestions anyone?) and then I went to the train station to buy a 12-25 card, which for 25 espressos gives me 20-60% off French long distance train rides for 1 year, which is somewhat better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick in my humble opinion. I was having a bit of a emo day, so I treated myself to a chocolate from the Bayonne Atelier and christ on a cracker if that didn't cheer me up! I chose a 'bouchette' in a banana flavour. It was a dark chocolate block a bit smaller than an altoids tin but significantly bigger than a matchbox, filled with banana and rum flavoured dark chocolate ganache. With treats like that I am surely in the right country after all!

Saturday was the day for the St Emilion trip. First thing we went to a winery in the region (Chateau Quercy) which was nice, but I'm getting a bit over winery tours (if not the wine). There's only so many times you can hear about how wine is made in a language you don't understand. Also, in my experience they're frigidly cold places and once I can't feel my feet my ability to concentrate on deciphering what's going on dramatically drops, and on this occasion I was so cold I wanted to hit the man who kept asking questions in the head. The wine that we got to try at the end was very nice though - I would say the nicest that I've had so far (not that I've had a lot yet) - although 10am is really TOO early for boozing. We arrived at St Emilion around lunchtime (it's 60km from Bordeaux) by which time it was beautiful beautiful weather and I wandered around with the anglaises for a bit. It's a little medieval village, and it's just beautiful and I think wandering is as good a way to see it as any. The streets are steep and cobbled though, so it was a bit hairy at times. We stopped for a canele and it was the freshest one I've had and it was so great - almost custardy in the middle and still warm. After an hour or two of wandering we went on a tour of the underground of the city. There's tunnels under the village for miles and miles, because it's a rocky area so they quarried it all and then built over the top (don't know how that works structurally but I'm not dead so I guess it's ok). Most of it's not open to the public because lots of it's used (and blocked off) by wineries who use it for storage because it's the perfect temperature and humidity year round. We saw St Emilion's hermit cave (he was a hermit...with disciples...and apparently his first claim to fame was changing bread to wood to avoid getting caught after stealing said bread...interesting...of course this is French information filtered through my brain so I could be a bit off) and the catacombs and an underground church, which is the biggest in Europe carved out of a single piece of rock (ie. the hillside). It was all very interesting and atmospheric. Afterward we sat in the sunshine next to the hillside church and I had a cup of Earl Grey (and I had to ask for milk) and a herb omelette. I don't usually like omelettes, because I don't actually like eggs that much, but now I can attest to the fact that (unlike the crepes) the French actually do know how to do them better. All in all it was a very nice way to spend a day and was a good second step (after Friday's chocolate) in convincing me that this is not such a bad place to be.

Sunday turned out to be a good third step, because lots of things went right. I went to my regular cafe to skype Mum, and she told me that Tim found my favourite ring ever that I lost 6 months ago and thought was gone for good. Then a nice old man at the table next door ordered some teeny cakes and offered me one - it was coconutty and good. Really, the French seem to know how to deal with that particular fruit properly. Nut. Whatever. I met Kara again for the afternoon, and we wandered past this cool looking cafe and then I realised that on the newly painted window they were advertising Asian food. And not French asian food, but the greatest hits of Australian-Asian food - ie. there were about 8 things on the menu and among them were: laksa, pho, red curry, stir fried veg, pad thai, lassi. Oh happiness you are mine again. ALL the foods that I thought I wouldn't find in Bordeaux all in the one little restaurant. And a COOL little restaurant at that - all 50s with those moulded Eames chairs with the zigzaggy metal legs, and a sandpit in the bathroom. I had the laksa, which wasn't the best I've ever eaten, and at 5 coffees significantly pricier than at home, but I don't even care because it tasted like it was meant to, and it was proper asian soup size, and it was just what I wanted. After lunch we walked around a bit more, and since Kara's been here for a lot longer than me we actually saw some great things. She showed me where the Bordeaux equivalent of the Central Markets is (although we were too late and it was closed for the day) and then we went and had a real mint tea at this Moroccan place. It was the proper stuff, made with fresh mint and sugar - just like at the Moroccan soup bar in Melbourne, only you get a really big glass, and for less than an expresso. Happ-i-ness. We ended the day with a trip to the Virgin Megastore (to get out of the rain) and I found the Mika cd which I'd been wanting on sale, and also found that in France you CAN buy the old Tintin cartoons which I loved as a teenager on DVD, and I'm pretty sure it comes with the French AND English options. Unfortunately the episodes are sold separately, and I was hoping for a box set, but I guess you can't have everything. Apparently TinTin is actually a bit rascist, and thus controversial in France (similar to Enid Blyton in English I would imagine). Who knew!

Yesterday (Monday) we had a new teacher in class, which is much better and we started learning the conditional which is good, because although I learnt it before, I really feel like it's something that I'm not confident with, but am finding I need it often. After class I went to the big bookshop (bought a French grammar book, IN FRENCH) with Andrew, the other Australian in my class, and after that I introduced him to the macarons and we had a coffee. It's so silly that it's comforting to hang out with someone from home, even though I don't know him...somehow it feels different than making a new friend from anywhere else. It's also funny how here you seem to skip a few months in the friendships here. I guess it's because everyone's on their own and fumbling for friends so you cut to the chase a lot quicker, but we had a good chat about life, love and the universe, and it was good to get stuff out of my system, as well as have the opportunity to listen to someone else's stuff for a change instead of my own noisy head. After that, I went back to the cool Asian place and had a chai (not so good but at least they HAD it) and used my computer (yes, they have free wifi too). I went to the supermarket in the afternoon and bought two more Tintin books, because I'm nearly finished the last one (only took me 6 weeks!). Funnily enough, the supermarket is the cheapest place to buy them. I got the first one at about 30% cheaper than the bookstore. In the evening I went to the concert at the conservatoire that the man from Thursday invited me to. Holy mackerel was it modern. It started in the foyer of the building (which had a special garden for the occasion i *think*) with three saxophones improvising with multiphonics, quarter tones etc. Then these girls popped up from behind the garden and started doing all this spoken word stuff. Then the whole thing kind of moved upstairs and around the building and eventually we all just followed them into the next building, where it sort of carried on the same way, but on a stage and with cellos as well and more actors. It felt a bit like a happening, except of course that it was advertised in advance. I have no idea what it was about because functional French is still a challenge, let alone poetry (and probably bizarre modern poetry at that) for two hours. There were heaps of people in the audience though - well over 100 I would say. I wouldn't go so far as to say I enjoyed it, but it was certainly interesting and not something that I can imagine floating at home.

Today I am exhausted because I spent the afternoon job hunting. I finally got off my bum and stopped procrastinating, but I tried 6 English pubs in the city and no joy yet. Still, it was kind of good, because I saw a lot of the city. Because my direction was determined by something as random as where the next pub was, I saw lots of little streets and corners that I wouldn't've otherwise found, and I came across lots of cool little places and shops. It was a lot of walking though, and I'm completely worn out. After the job hunting I went to H&M which is my new favourite shop because it is cheeeeep (even by Australian standards) and they have lots of cool cool clothes. I bought some skinny jeans (gasp!) and a nice black jacket (3/4 but lighter than a coat and funkier than a suit). I could've bought about 50 tops but I restrained myself. i'd also like to buy some cute canvas keds-type shoes, which shouldn't be hard because there seems like quite a lot of cheap and cheerful ones around the place. Hooray! I was beginning to think I was just going to have to keep wearing the same outfits until I could afford the Hermes (although if anyone wants to buy me one of their scarves, please be my guest). The only other news is that I figured out what the coloured drinks are that come in the beer glasses. Beer with cordial! You can get all sorts of fancy flavours. I think maybe raspberry is the most popular and some green one, but I've seen banana on the menu so I will have to try that soon. I always liked the coopers with brown lime at home, so this seems to me to be a very sensible extension of that idea. Oh! And I arrived at the house to mail! Hurrah! It really is extremely exciting getting mail from home - like a little hug everytime I open a new letter!

In general things are going ok, although I'm freaking out a bit about the no job/apartment situation. The family here is getting a pool put in, so at the moment, since it's been raining for about 3 days straight now (and I lost my second umbrella in a week today, although it was a very good example of why you should pay more than four coffees for an umbrella) the front yard is pretty much one big mudbath. It's quite treacherous getting to the gate. I have taught the little garcon how to handball with a little kid-sized rugby ball he has. He's quite good, and I found a video of Andrew McLeod explaining the concept on YouTube which helped a lot. Although I'm not completely convinced he's clear that it's not actually a rugby tactic and that Australian football is a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT GAME. Actually on the latter, he's no different than any other French person that I've met. Also, Easter is apparently coming, because all the shops have pretty displays in the windows (at least there's no more Valentine's day stuff) and they're doing a better job than at home. The specialist chocolatiers have amazing animals (there's a life sized rooster in one) and the displays are really impressive. Which is making it even harder to not buy MORE chocolate (I'm getting enough daily by default via the standard French diet). Yikes!

That is all.
For now.

Sunday, 9 March 2008


Beck - the Information
Ok, so I've only listened to this one once, and I bought it six months ago, and didn't get around to it until a week ago. And Beck does tend to be reasonably dense, so maybe reviewing it on one spin (and one spin whilst jogging at that) is unfair. But I don't think this album is his best work. The interesting thing about Beck normally is all the lovely layers to the music which creep out from behind a big fat hook. This album seems really pared back and like it's focussing on the lyrics... except that it's Beck, and it's rare that the lyrics even make sense, let alone convey anything meaningful. It's quite possible that I'm missing something, but I'm rather unconvinced at this stage. And unconvinced enough not to bother further, probably...I'll wait and see how he reinvents himself next time.

Scisscor Sisters - TaDah
Bought this on sale at the Virgin Megastore here...heh. I really like this album - it's nice and fat and 70s disco but without being too cheesy. Well...not TOO cheesy anyway. The lyrics are deliciously angry (well appreciated at the moment), but mostly so ironic and hilarious that when coupled with the disco feel you get pulled into a good mood rather than a bad one. There's some killer lines too - although Molly, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm singing 'push the walls and testify' every time. That being said, I can't seem to get past tracks 1 and 3, which even if you assume it's a great album with a couple of outstanding songs, does still mean that it's not a very consistent album; the kind of album that you can break up into parts that are worth more than the whole.

Radiohead - In Rainbows
Ok, so I know I said I was going to review this soon, but I tried listening to it and just can't do it. Not because it's no good...other reasons entirely which I won't go into here. Anyway though, I was chatting to someone in my class who said it's his favourite since OK Computer, and the 10 minutes that I got into it convinced me that although it's still quite electro and repetitive like the last couple, they seem to have gotten back into lyrical again thank God. So I am provisionally giving this a thumbs up, but there's not a lot of grounding for that, so maybe one day I will come back to it.

Jasper Fforde - The Fourth Bear
Yes, ok, yet another Jasper Fforde filler. This was the last thing I bought in Australia - at the Adelaide airport when I realised I'd forgotten a book for the plane. I didn't read it on the plane, but I've read a little each night before bed to remind myself that, yes, I am actually capable of comprehending the written word. In one language at least. I quite liked this one. The premise isn't as strong as the Eyre Affair books, but then by the last one I thought that had been stretched way too thin anyway. This was nice and clean and self-contained. Witty and enjoyable without being too clever or taking itself too seriously. In hindsight, would've been a good aeroplane choice after all.

Sweeney Todd
So I knew this movie was going to be dark and violent, but I didn't realise quite how depressing the story is. It's one of those 'goodness doesn't exist, all love is doomed, stop bothering now and save yourself the pain' kind of stories. Just what I needed. Still. I think it was well done. I'm not a big Tim Burton fan, because he puts his own creepy stamp on everything which is not always welcome (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory anyone?), but in this case I think it actually worked, since it's a pretty gruesome tale anyway. I was a bit worried about all the violence, as I don't have a strong stomach for that, but it was actually pretty caricatured so it really wasn't the upsetting part of this movie in the end. The lyrics and the music are unsurprisingly clever from Sondheim, and it's been re-orchestrated by that guy who does all of Sondheim's orchestration (can't remember the name now...) and it sounds great with a full orchestra. Johnny Depp can sing surprisingly well, Helena Bonham Carter surprisingly can't, and Sacha Baron Cohen is well cast but believe it or not doesn't ham it up enough.

No Country for Old Men
The new Coen brothers movie. I really should've thought about the fact that this was going to be depressing too, but didn't. Ai. UGC langue d'origin (anglais) - could you please show some fluff? Maybe a (non-rom) comedy or something? Ok Coen brothers movies are usually pretty violent and bizarre, but they're usually pretty funny too, and this one was not. It's the story of a man who stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong and makes off with a suitcase full of money. He then spends the rest of the film trying to keep out of reach of those who want it back. It's a compelling story, but in the end that's not what's interesting about it and you leave not really caring that a lot of things aren't resolved. I think I've finally figured out the point of these movies though - they're not about plot, they're about the characters. Although it's a reasonably fast paced film (especially at times), it's actually very spacious and elegant and I think it reflects the simultaneous simplicity and complexity of people, and life in general.

Friday, 7 March 2008

pleasantly surprised.

Macaron-A-Day #10: Noix de Coco

I really wasn't looking forward to this one, because I can't stand dessicated coconut. The coconut drink at Thea makes me gag nearly as much as the Milky Almond Tea. This was lovely though - more like coconut milk than dessicated coconut, and almost like coconut ice but without being quite as sickly. This was so rich and creamy and warm and wonderful, I think it might make it into the top 3 so far!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

needing to learn about light.

Macaron-A-Day # 9: Caramel Fleur de Sel

This was a very subtle macaron. Definitely a lovely caramel flavour, but not nearly as strong as the actual caramels which I ate afterwards.

managing to get up early these days. Mostly.

I can't remember when I wrote last...I think it was Thursday night. Things have been a bit uneventful since then because I came down with a cold on Friday, but I'm sure I'll still manage to write an ocean. I feel like that Monty Python character who eats too much only I'm spewing out words. Well, I'm sure the forests are grateful for the invention of the blog at least...

I really can't remember Friday at all. I think I went to class, and then went straight home to try sleep. We watched La Mome in class, which I didn't understand at all. Oh hang on. I've already written about this. I must've written something on Friday.

Saturday then. Saturday I slept in because I was sick, and then made a laksa pilgrimage into the city to try and rid myself of all the snot accumulating in my head. (Sorry, that was a charming turn of phrase, but true so I'm leaving it). I arrived too late for soup - all the restaurants close at 2pm, so I got crepes instead. Funnily enough just like at home it seems to be the pancakes places that are open all hours. I had a crepe with lemon and sugar, and sorry to disappoint, but my mum's are better than the real French ones. Well, maybe that's not disappointing - it's closer for most of you. I also went to the ginormous supermarket to buy some citrus. They have counter where you put your fruit on the scales and then a man prints out a barcode for you. I've decided not to buy fruit from there anymore, because I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to put each separate type of fruit in a separate plastic bag. No, mademoiselle, it's not possible to just stick the barcode straight on your one orange. What a bleeding waste. Kind of ironic since they don't let you have carry bags for free at the checkout.

On Sunday I was still sick so I slept in again. And again I went in search for soup, but all the restaurants were closed because it was Sunday, so I went for the closest thing open which was Indian. I had a Palak Paneer which was nice but a bit Frenchified (I'm sure there was cream in it) and I had a chat with the waiter, which was fine until I asked if there was an Indian/Asian grocer in the city where I could buy spices, and he invited me to his house to have some of his. Um...?

I headed to the big cinema to see the new Coen Brothers movie ' No Country for Old Men' and on the way came across a parade! It was kind of like a poor-man's Christmas Pageant but I have no idea what it was in aid of. I asked a lady and she pretty much gave me the French equivalent of 'just because'. It was a bit lame because the floats were mostly pretty home-made, but it was also kind of fun, because the atmosphere was a lot more relaxed - if you wanted to cross the parade, you just ran across, and some of the people marching were letting off little fireworks. There were also African drumming troupes marching, and which looked like great fun. There were surprisingly a lot of them, and if I was sure I was staying here, I think I'd look into joining one, although ironically I think I'm too European to qualify...

On Monday I went to my new class (they change each month). There's only 6 people (including myself) in this class - three people from my last class, plus a German girl and another Australian! Woo! Actually it's a bit sad how excited I got to meet someone from home, which is silly really, considering there's no more reason for me to be able to relate to him more than any other stranger, but it did make me feel a little bit less isolated. The new teacher is nice, and being in such a small class is great, but I actually feel like the work is easier than last month and I don't think it's just that I'm getting better. Hopefully things will pick up, because at the moment I'm learning things I learnt 6 months ago in Australia...

After Monday's class I went (and figured out!) La Poste. It turns out that it's not at all like Australia Post in that they don't penalise you for wrapping your parcels in whatever you want, and in fact it seems to be the better way to do things. The ONLY bags/boxes that they sell are the pre-paid ones which are not a good deal because chances are that whatever you put in them is much less than the maximum weight that you pay for. If you just rock up with a parcel wrapped in whatever though, you just get charged by weight. On the downside though, it's not very clear where you're supposed to buy boxes and packing material, and as far as I can tell bubble wrap is an extremely specialist product in France because no-one can tell me where to buy it. If anyone ever sends me anything, please include extra bubble wrap. In fact I'm thinking of opening a shop selling aloe vera tissues, bubble wrap and lined notebooks (I can't find anything but graph paper here). I'd make a fortune. Or enough to keep me in macarons at least.

After La Poste I finally managed to make it to a Thai restaurant in time to order some soup. No laksa though, so I had to have tom yum. When I asked the waitress if they made laksa, she had no idea what I was talking about, and when I clumsily tried to explain in French that it's a Thai/Malaysian soup with coconut milk and noodles I didn't get very far. She was like 'oh! it's the other tom yum with the coconut milk. Didn't you see it on the menu?'. No, no it's not. Listen lady, the white girl from Australia knows what she's talking about and it's a DIFFERENT soup! Lucky I learnt to make it before I left home, hey. Especially lucky because there was pineapple in the tom yum. Yes, the kind of pineapple that's NOT a vegetable. Where do they think they are? Australia? (If so they should've put bacon and beetroot in too). I've also come to the conclusion that the French only eat soup as an entree (ie. you can only buy teeny serves) and they can't handle chili at ALL. I asked for a double serve of soup which cost me 6 coffees and it was at least half the size of a normal asian soup at home. Also, the menu promised spicy and IT WAS NOT SPICY. I had to shovel in loads of the provided chili paste because even that was not spicy. Actually my Indian curry was not hot either - and the waiter actually asked if it was too hot. Um? There's chili in here? Actually I should've caught on when my host mother complained that the pre-marinated bbq chicken wings she made were too spicy and she couldn't eat them. Come to think of it, I don't think they even sell chillis in the supermarket. Add that to the inventory in my shop.

Yesterday I treated myself to a coffee and croissant breakfast because I got up too late to make myself any wellness flakes. It feels quite fancy having that in a cafe, but I have to say the croissants are not really any better than (good) croissants from home. Although who's to say I haven't just had bad croissants here. Later I went to Monoprix for some honey and lemons for some hot drinks and I've decided it's my supermarket of choice because you don't have to weigh your own stupid fruit. I also picked up a brochure of historic walks of Bordeaux (in French AND English! Yay!) and in search of macaron props discovered a lovely lovely lovely (expensive) chocolate shop. They make all their own things I think, and it was a bit like Haighs only older and prettier and Frenchier. They had lots of chocolates in big old heavy jars, and candied petals and pretty china and their own macarons which looked a bit more rustic than that Baillardran ones but in prettier colours even.

Today I went for a coffee with the Australian, the German and the Dutch lady from my class, and it was really nice to actually do a bit of socialising. I've been doing my own thing a lot (which is fine, but mainly because I haven't had a lot of choice in the matter) and it was really nice to just sit around and have a chat (in English). We went to this bizarre little cafe with leopard-skin poufs and fake cacti, which turned out to be the French version of Starbucks. Hilariously enough it's called 'French Coffee Shop' (no, I didn't translate that). I've seen it before and I was duh? I actually had a mint milkshake which was very nice, but the French obviously have a slightly different concept of a milkshake, because I would've called it a frappe or something...icy-slushy-milky anyway. After that I had lunch with the Dutch lady (my d.i.y. sandwich) and then frittered around for an hour or two doing the macaron and checking my email (and gofugyourself...gee I miss having the time to read trashy internet sites). I headed to the tram and realised that it would probably be an ideal time to climb the Cathedral tower which is right next to my tramstop.

I thought the tower was actually part of the Cathedral St-Andre - although they're separated by maybe 10 or 20 metres, I sort of assumed they were connected by the crypts underground. I don't know, maybe they are, but it's actually called the Tour Pey-Berland. It was a bit of a climb up to the top (yay, Napier building practice) but it was a pretty great view. It was particularly cool to see the cathedral itself from above, but it was also nice to see the city spread out below. Old tiled red roofs and chimney pots dominate, and it's amazing to see that the tallest buildings in Bordeaux are still some of the oldest - the churches and the gates. There's not a lot of new high rise in Bordeaux, and it really does make you realise exactly how much of an undertaking it must've been to build those structures so long ago. It was a beautiful clear day, but very very windy up there though, and although I'm not particularly afraid of heights (well, no more so than anything else that I could die from, anyway), I realised when I got down that I was shaking a bit. I think I was mostly scared of dropping my camera and killing someone...

The latest on the phone is that the email is officially dead for a while. I've managed to make the internet work now (without the help of the Orange people, who are not calling when they're supposed to, or if they do it's not an English speaking employee like they promised) but it won't let me open gmail. Which is all very annoying since I've paid for it (and how!), but at least now I'm not going through credit like it's money. Ha. Ha. Ha. I've gotten into the habit of taking my laptop with me each day though, so I'm getting emails regularly, but if there's something urgent an sms is the way to go I'm afraid.

The only other news is that my Anthropologie jeans are still oozing blue (ha! maybe they're just mimicking their owner!) - after three repeats of the salt treatment. Any other suggestions anyone? I'm thinking about taking them to a dry cleaner and seeing if they can do anything, but it's a bit of an undertaking since the dry cleaners here all speak French...

Tomorrow I think I'm going to go to the Bordeaux-American potluck - apparently lots of English speaking business people go, so maybe I can find myself a job. And on Saturday I'm going to St-Emilion (medieval village nearby) with a tour organised by the school. Which worked out well for me, since I'd just decided to go on Saturday anyway and this will be much easier and hopefully include some things that I wouldn't see on my own.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

all coffeed up.

Macaron-A-Day #8: Nougatine

This one was kind of weird, because it actually reminded me of a yo-yo biscuit. Although a yo-yo with the superior macaron texture and lovely little nutty bits and icing with real vanilla bean seeds. But not really nougaty, but actually kind of malty...

Yes, which didn't make sense at all, until this morning I had the brainwave to ask my French teacher if 'nougat' and 'nougatine' were the same thing. 'MAIS NON!'. After a very long conversation, I finally figured out that nougatine is actually what I would call praline (ie. a shattered toffee with shards of nuts). It took a long time because: 1. I don't speak French. 2. The dictionary didn't know 'nougatine'. 3. My brain broke and I couldn't remember the world praline. 4. The word praline in French means something else (a lolly - an almond covered in caramel).

So now this photo makes no sense whatsoever which is a shame because I was quite happy with it.

Monday, 3 March 2008

feeling much better, thankyou.

Macaron-A-Day #7: Cafe

There's been a little break in proceedings because I got sick and couldn't taste anything.

This coffee macaron was quite nice but sweet and 'instant-coffee' flavoured rather than a really rich deep coffee-bean flavour.

I'm one of those people who thinks that coffee smells better than it tastes, and I think this macaron unfortunately replicated that.

Since this is a rather unsatisfactory review, I'll take the opportunity to mention that a French macaron is a completely different pastry than an English macaroon after all, which sort of explains why they're not the same...

For those in the rainy city, apparently you can get proper French-style macarons at La Tropezienne in Hawthorn, and Baker D Chirico in St Kilda. But I won't be able to compare until I get home I'm afraid