Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Dinner Party

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I woke up today and went to purchase some shoes I had seen previously. I didn’t but them in order to go home and think about it. I decided to get them. While there I encountered another pair and the decision was tough. They were both what I was looking for - unique, classy red heels. I made the purchase for 15 Euro of the ones I had first seen since they were more practical with a shorter heel, but the other red ones…wow. They looked good. I’ll think it over. I know I shouldn’t. I don’t need them. I’m even against writing this because I feel I’ll get a call from mom and dad trying to put some sense into me, but they’re just, they’re beautiful. Any girl with a shoe obsession would understand!

I left the store…only one pair in hand and stopped by USIT to see about some travel advice. They’re useless. USIT is who provides BUNAC with office space in Dublin and we were told they would help us out with traveling if we needed it. They don’t That’s the fourth time I’ve been in that place for things like changing large bills for smaller, printing, internet and now just regular travel advice. On no occasion were they of any help. I give up. Won’t be going there again if I can help it. Before going upstairs to cook I popped in and asked Teresa about canned pumpkin and herbs. I’ve decided I need something to mind (take care of). An herb garden consisting of at least basil and rosemary would be just the thing. We get a lot of light on the kitchen windowsill. It would be just the place for that fort of thing. She said I might find them at Tesco or Woody’s garden store, but wasn’t sure. As for the pumpkin…no idea. I would be able to get an actual gourd soon, but I think the canned stuff is sweeter. Anyone know if I can scoop out a pumpkin and get what I need for canned pumpkin?

I started on the cake first when I got upstairs. It is the chocolate picnic cake with chocolate icing that Mimi makes, and it’s oh soooo good. I now think I’ve made it more times out of America than in America. It was the one even the health crazy vegetarian devoured last summer in Florence. It really is a good cake. Only thing is that conversions are not so easy. I think I may have put too much butter in the cake. I had 450 grams of butter and I need 1 cup. I have a chart saying there are 28 grams in an ounce, so I just needed to remember how many ounces are in a cup. Simple right? No one out of four Americans could remember if there are 8 or 16 oz. in a cup. Sad, I know. It was too early to call home in the states, so I compromised. I used 12 oz. While making the icing later, I used something that made me think I put in too much butter, but it turned out looking alright, it just might be extra creamy.

After the cake, I started on the main dish. Chicken Provencal. I used 3 breasts of chicken and rolled them in a mixture of flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Then I cooked them in a skillet with olive oil. I added two cans of stewed tomatoes, button mushrooms, cut black olives and lemon zest. I let it cool a little bit and put it in the fridge for this evening.

I called Roberto and Demi (Demesla) and Marta to remind them about dinner and give them my number if they got lost. They all decided to just meet at Amnesty instead. When Roberto answered the phone he used “pronto” instead of hello. I got excited. That’s all I heard on the phone last summer. It’s the equivalent of hello, but really means “go ahead I’m listening” in Italian.

I made a ham and brie cheese sandwich with spinach and balsamic on wholegrain bread for lunch. Mighty tasty!

Erynn and Kathleen stopped by to get a cord back they had let Zach borrow. They were back from the islands. We talked for awhile about all the best places for desserts and pastries. There were quite a few: Griffin’s bakery, Coco Café, Gourmet Tarts Co., O’Conner’s bakery, and Zatsuma Creperia…to name a few. They said they would stop by Amnesty later to try what we have there, but they never showed up.

I went around taking pictures of Galway today because it was such a beautiful day. I went to the University and down by the river. I took pictures of where I live and of Shop Street where I patrol up and down on weekends. I took pictures of places I frequent like the bakeries, Amnesty and the library. Monica has been teaching me about different camera settings, and I tried a few out with my camera. She has one of the nice larger cameras, but she said my little digital camera has a lot of options for what it is. I wish I could change the shutter speed on it though. I can manipulate the white balance and the ISO, so that changes the picture a little bit. I might try some Photoshop edits while I’m messing around with pictures.

I picked up those shoes after m picture taking and took them to Amnesty with me. I tried them on one more time in the shop just to be sure. I fell in love all over again. I tried them with pants, with leggings, and without. Every way worked! I was sold. It might be a bit of a splurge, but I haven’t seen zapatoes, chasseurs, shoes that inexpensive anywhere. Monica was working when I got to the café. I immediately pulled out my prized possession for a show and tell. She laughed and said I would break my neck. I think not! Ok well maybe on this cobblestone, but I mainly got them to wear at home or in Paris!

I love working at the café. Everything about it makes me happy. Even the unhappy moments, make me happy - if that makes any sense at all. I enjoy the people that work there. They all have a positive outlook on life and none of them are downers. The organization of the shop is clean and crisp, but creative. Even when I forget how to make a coffee drink, I learn a new way of going about it. I think I am finally getting it. The steamed milk was giving me some trouble, but a few more times and I’ll be a pro. A three hour shift and cleaning is easy to handle. I even like it when Henri follows me around the shop for closing. Henri is the vacuum, but he has the most adorable expression.

Poor Monica puts in 8 hour shifts each day, but it is her full-time job. Victor, Monica and I were working tonight. I told Victor he should join us for dinner. He had nothing else planned so he did. Roberto, Demelsa and Marta met us at the shop and we all walked to my apartment.

Roberto had all the ingredients for his dish, but had not cooked it yet. Monica and I ran to the store for some wine and ice cream while we were waiting. Our kitchen is not made for 8 people, but we did have enough seats. It was cramped, but exciting. I love dinner parties! Manuel, Marta’s boyfriend, joined us eventually as well. We had tortillas des potates that Demelsa and Marta made. Almost like a potato omelet with ham and salami. I pulled up itunes on my computer and we scoured through my music for selections everyone would enjoy, U2 is still really big over here and so is Shakira, but over here they appreciate all her music, not just the recent more poppy stuff.

I decided to go ahead and serve the chicken provencal with rice as a primi patti after the appetizer but before the secondi (Roberto’s dish). Victor had to leave after this (it was 10pm and Roberto was still cooking), so I cut the cake for Victor so he could have a piece before he left for the salsa dancing at Monroe’s tonight. He had helped promote the singer – a friend – so he had to be there and was already a little bit late. I joined him in eating a piece of cake. Even though I put a little much butter in, it was still delicious! No matter who I make that cake for, everyone loves it. It’s so wonderful, and fairly easy to do. Hard to mess up if you have the ingredients, and even if you don’t have the right measurements it still turns out. Roberto got his pasta al forno finished and it was delicious! A true Italian dish made by an Italian- I was in heaven! Rigatoni with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, meat and mozzarella. I served the rest of the chocolate cake – everyone loved it. Monica heated her apple cake and it was marvelous too. I don’t even like apple and it was good. The chunks were soft not crunchy. I don’t like the texture of apple, so I don’t usually like apple pies, but the cake was something else. Topped with vanilla bean ice cream was even better.

I instigated a recipe exchange. Demelsa requested the cake. I went over the ingredients and measurements with her, trying as best I could to convert standard to metric. When the language barrier arose, I demonstrated since we were in the kitchen anyway. Next I had Roberto write down the pasta recipe for me. He wanted to practice English, so it proceeded much like an English lesson. He wrote a sentence. I would read it and point out spelling or structure errors and it went on like that till we had the whole recipe. His English is very good and seems to be improving. I wanted to speak French this whole night. It’s crazy how much has come back to me when I switch to language mode in my brain I guess. I could remember the vocabulary for the French, but couldn’t rely on my limited Italian and nonexistent Spanish. Spanish and Italian are similar in pronunciation so Roberto and Demelsa can communicate well with each other, but French is pronounced differently, while similar in construction it is hard to understand for other Romance languages. I was at a loss sometimes, but we eventually got the point across.

The night proceeded into Vikings and mafia men before it came to a close a little after midnight. I really enjoyed all the conversations and had not a single unpleasant experience. I talked to my mom on the phone for about an hour tonight. I hope that doesn’t run the phone bill too high, but it was worth it. I have a feeling I’m going to have a rather high phone bill anyway. I try to keep things short, but it builds up after a month even at 9 cents a minute. It’s not 2:40am and I have to get up at 8 for a trip hiking in Connemara tomorrow. I’m going to be exhausted. Oh well. I’ll catch up on sleep Friday.

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