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The least I can do

Hi again.

Thank you for taking such good care of the place while I was gone. That was a long way to go for only a week - and I have the jet lag to prove it - but wow oh WOW. It was good. You’ll have to wait until the article comes out to get the juicy details, but for now, how about a few pictures? You were so nice to cheer me on, and the least I can do is give you some photographs in return.

Do you think fourteen will be enough? I hope so.

On the way over, we had an eight-hour layover in Amsterdam. I had never had an eight-hour layover before, and I can’t say that I recommend them, but if you do happen to have one, you should make sure that you’re in Amsterdam.

The airport is conveniently attached to a train station, so we crammed our bags into a luggage locker, bought tickets, and went into town. We were only there for a few hours, but it was long enough to have a bowl of tomato soup with bread and butter, to wind our way through the narrow streets and between the canals, and to have a torrid love affair with about 1,000 bicycles. I don’t know what it was about the bikes in Amsterdam, but they stole my heart right out of my chest. They have upright handlebars and curvy fenders and sometimes a basket in front. They are old and battered and rusted in spots, as functional as can be, and in their utterly simple way, they are gorgeous. They’re like men’s lace-up dress shoes, the kind my dad used to wear with a suit: timeless, well-worn, almost romantic somehow.

I also liked the buildings. Especially this blue one here.

And in the late afternoon, the sun on the canals was nice too.

But we had somewhere else to go. Namely, Bordeaux. (Not Paris! I know, I know. I like to mix things up a little.)

This was my first time in Bordeaux, but having now spent six days there, I can say with some authority that it is a very lovely place. Especially in early September, when the sun shines almost every day, and the light in the evening makes the limestone buildings look glowy and golden, and you can walk around in jeans and flats and short sleeves and never get too hot or cold.

It is also very beautiful, no matter where you look. Whenever we crossed the Pont de Pierre, the stone bridge, I liked to look up at the street lamps.

And out in the countryside, you should always stop to look out at the vineyards along the road, even if you’re in a hurry.

Some of them are a bit much, but if you make good wine, I guess you can get away with things. Like erecting a giant wine bottle sculpture at the edge of the property.

And should it happen to rain, you can still have a good time. The view from the car is not half bad.

Plus, merlot grapes look very pretty when they are wet and drippy.

And so do sauvignon blanc grapes. Even if you are rushing to leave for a dinner reservation and get a shoeful of mud while you try to snap a photograph of them.

When you come back to the city, you can wear a different pair of shoes. Ideally something comfortable, for walking on paving stones and old cobblestones.

And when you get home, you can give those muddy shoes a good cleaning. As soon as you recover from the jet lag, of course.

P.S. Brandon and I are gearing up to teach another cooking class in Bellingham, and this time, the topic is quick pickles and basic jam. (Or, in other words, how to make the most of the farmers’ market before fall sets in for good. Eeek.) The class will be held on Tuesday, September 23, at 6:30 pm. For more information, or to register, call 360.927.4890, or e-mail classes (at) inthekitchenbellingham (dot) com.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fabulous! Can't wait to hear about the food.

4:06 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

Gorgeous pictures, Molly. I am so envious. How about you come back to Oklahoma while I go live in your shoes for a while?

4:36 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Michelle said...

The bikes in Amsterdam charmed me, too. I read somewhere that there are more bikes in Amsterdam than there are people, and I think that epitomizes the spirit of that beautiful city for me.

5:06 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Nik Snacks said...

I'm glad you two are back in two pieces :) Beautiful photos. And I agree, Amsterdam is a good place to be if you have a European layover. I found this blog: http://www.sleepinginairports.com to help make the best of airport stays. It's come in handy more than a few times as of late.

5:23 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger hannah said...

grinning from ear to ear over here.

6:45 PM, September 09, 2008  
Anonymous mav said...

can't wait to see the food! xo

6:57 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Adrienne said...

Oh, oh, oh! I wish I could come to your class, since my first batch of pickles (ever!) are good, but only for sandwiches... they are a little too tart to eat out of hand. Sigh. But I am glad you're back and that you had a good time :)

7:03 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger priya said...

these are such beautiful photographs.

9:09 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger jen said...

Amsterdam is now on my list of places to visit.
Beautiful photography and descriptions. :)

9:26 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Gemma said...

Lovely photos. I am lusting after a bicycle with a basket but am too scared to cycle in London!

11:45 PM, September 09, 2008  
Blogger Kitt said...

What an idyllic vacation! Even the layover was nice. Can't wait to hear more details.

12:19 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Sabayon said...

Having a train station attached to the airport is pretty standard here in Europe. it really makes everything much more wonderfully convenient.

@ Nik Snacks, thanks for the link. I'll be sleeping in Heathrow in a few months and it was really useful to me :)

12:25 AM, September 10, 2008  
Anonymous Pamela said...

Oh Bordeaux! Rain on the rue St Cat and leaping off buses in the Place de la Victoire and drinking St Emilion from the family vineyard of a friend. And leaving stealthily in the middle of a February night (on a bus that waited for us!!!) to go and spend the other half of the year in Seville - because I couldn't (and still can't) chose between French and Spanish. Was that really 25 years ago? One day I'll go back to Bordeaux but for now I'll make do with the Midi next week.

2:09 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger shari said...

sounds just amazing molly! looking forward to seeing what you ate! xox

5:47 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Lovely! Glad you had a great time. Is the piece going to be in Bon Appetit or somewhere else? Looking forward to reading it.

6:23 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger caroline said...

Charming photographs! Speaking of 8-hour layovers, I have one in Paris in late November. Any suggestions?

7:09 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Funny, one of the things that I ate *consistantly* in Amsterdam was tomato soup! The pictures are very evocative - can't wait to hear more!

8:21 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Simply Yummy Goodness said...

The Netherlands is among my very favorite Nations to visit. I studied there during college and survived on the delicious tomato soup and ham and cheese toasties served for just a few gilders in every neighborhood pub. Delightful.

9:10 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Victoria said...

Amsterdam is first on my list of places I haven't been that I want to go.

I'm going to skip a trip to Paris to go there.

I can't wait! Also can't wait for your article.

9:37 AM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Maria said...

Glad you had such a fun trip. Can't wait to read the article. Your pictures are fabulous!

11:44 AM, September 10, 2008  
Anonymous Tammy said...

Your pictures were the essence of what I think of when I think of European cities. Beautiful. I agree with Michelle, I would definitely walk in your muddy shoes. Can't wait for the article.

12:34 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Penelope Roo said...

So jealous, so jealous! :-)

I wish I could take your class, but am closer to Bellingham, MA then Bellingham, WA...

I did make my first Strawberry Jam this summer using a varation to your Bon Appetit' recipe. Whoo,hoo!!

1:38 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Nicole said...

I am completely green with envy! But happy for you. What a wonderful trip. Can't wait to read your article.

2:46 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger DrB said...

Molly, for the trillionth time: your photos are gorgeous. So, I looked up your camera and am wondering: Is it also good for extreme close-ups? (Not to give your camera all the credit, but just a little... and, you know, if the camera is terrible for something, then the best photographer cannot make it good!) :)

5:05 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger Millicent said...

Your travel writing is inspiring. I can almost taste the air and feel the sun on my face. Thank you for your beautiful words every week. Like everyone else, I can't wait to hear about what tickled your palate this time.

10:00 PM, September 10, 2008  
Blogger evil and demented little cooker girl said...

really really love the fotos! i have an aunt who lives there!

1:40 AM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger Mevrouw Cupcake said...

I'm so pleased that you were in the Amsterdam, if even for a several hours and enjoyed yourself immensely. The pictures are beautiful. Next time please allow me the opportunity to give you a personal tour!

5:10 AM, September 11, 2008  
Anonymous Fei said...

You've captured Amsterdam beautifully - amazing how you managed to make all the tourists disappear ;)
I love your blog, the stories and the pictures are all heartfelt...I find myself coming back again - and again - and again..
Am adding you to my blogroll, hope you dont mind!

5:57 AM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger Chef Renee Fontes said...

Okay, I'm going to embarrass myself, but what is the subject matter of the first picture? Love your blogg by the way!

9:22 AM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger Molly said...

Thank you, guys! So good to be back here again.

For those of you who want to hear about / see the food, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the article next spring. So sorry about that. I'll of course be sure to let you know when it's out.

Caroline, well, let's see. How long is your layover? And which airport will you be in? The airports in Paris are a fair distance from the city center, but if you have a very long layover, you might still be able to go into town. From Charles de Gaulle, there is a train (the RER B) that could get you into town in about 45 minutes, I think, and if you got out at the St. Michel station, you would find yourself smack dab in the center of everything. Just be sure to leave plenty of time for getting back to the airport and to your gate; I've found that Charles de Gaulle can be a tricky place to navigate...

DrB, as you saw (on Flickr?), I used a Minolta Instant Pro camera with Polaroid Spectra film for most of these shots. (For the black-and-white ones, I used a Pentax K1000 with Kodak 400TX film.) In general, the Minolta Instant Pro is not at all good for close-ups, but you can buy a close-up lens attachment that works pretty nicely. I wouldn't say that it can do extreme close-ups, but it works okay for moderate ones. It's what I used to get the photos of the grapes. But in general, if you want to be able to do good close-ups and have more control over the focus, you might look into a Polaroid SX-70. It has more manual features than my camera.

No worries, Chef Renee! It's the window of a plane. I was looking out from inside, early in the morning, in mid-flight.

9:46 AM, September 11, 2008  
Anonymous Mel said...

Wonderful photos. I also can't wait to read the article. I'm sure its brilliant (as always). Now if only you would head a little more north to teach these classes. In fact, I think that's a great reason to visit Toronto! :-)

10:45 AM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger Eileen said...

Really enjoyed viewing your photos. Your mention of the bikes in Amsterdam brought back memories of when we took our daughter there at 12 years of age (Eleven years ago!!)and we rented bikes. She thought she was going to die right then and there. Bike riding does take some getting used to in Amsterdam. If a car wasn't coming in our direction, a train was.

1:02 PM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger lottie said...

oh that bellingham were near london!

1:41 PM, September 11, 2008  
Blogger ila said...

oh molly, you're back! we missed you dearly.
glad to hear that you had a wonderful time... can't wait to read about what you ate!

6:24 PM, September 11, 2008  
OpenID starrybluesky said...

Beautiful set of photographs. And making a note of the airport website.

1:35 AM, September 12, 2008  
Blogger indyhermit said...

Wonderful blog. I'll have to keep reading. Very nice photos.

2:30 AM, September 12, 2008  
Blogger shayna said...

Molly, thanks for the lovely photos. I lived in Bordeaux for a year and these are making me a bit "homesick". Can't wait for the article! Oh, and happy birthday!

10:00 AM, September 12, 2008  
Blogger stephanie levy said...

Hi Molly!

Your trip sounds wonderful - visiting French vineyards, oohh!

Your are again a fave on my Friday artist's interview - today with Lynn Russell of Satsuma Press, so please drop by :)

11:07 AM, September 12, 2008  
Anonymous Hillary said...

I love the photos of the wine grapes! Thanks for staying behind and catching those!

11:57 AM, September 12, 2008  
Blogger amisha said...

i loved seeing these on flickr, molly... now i am loving seeing them paired with your words. thank you for such a smile this saturday morning!

6:15 AM, September 13, 2008  
Blogger Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Love the giant wine bottle sculpture. Inspired by too much booze, methinks!

10:16 AM, September 13, 2008  
Anonymous Erin said...

The photos are fabulous and I can't wait to see the article. Welcome home!

11:31 AM, September 13, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the picture of the bike! ^_^

I just got a polaroid, I'm wondering where you get your film (I need SX-70)? Does expired film still work? That's all I can find on ebay.
Thanks! =)

4:43 PM, September 13, 2008  
Blogger elizabeth said...

ah, the bicycles of amsterdam. apparently there's a lot of bike theft and people buy old, worn ones, so they're not too upset if it's stolen. but, i agree, they are wonderful and i would be utterly heartbroken...

7:33 PM, September 13, 2008  
Anonymous lisa said...

Your photos are beautiful and your writing always inspiring. Really looking forward to your article.

6:22 PM, September 14, 2008  
Blogger Snooky doodle said...

wow really nice pics :-)

1:32 PM, September 16, 2008  
Blogger Leslie said...

At the risk of revealing my inner history dork: when I was in Amsterdam I read somewhere that during WWII the Nazi army confiscated the majority of the bicycles in the city. The bikes that survived were considered treasures, which is why you see so many old, ratty bikes on the streets there. The older, the better! Fun fact, eh?

5:14 PM, September 16, 2008  
Blogger This is an said...

AMS is my favorite European city. Another fun fact - it has more museums per capita than any other city in Europe! About those bicycles - ratty and old may be chic in some circles, but Dutch drunks make a habit of throwing bicycles in the canals. They have to dredge them every spring to keep the bicycle:water ratio down to a reasonable level. This is according to my grumpy Dutch cousin, so . . . go figure.

8:15 AM, September 19, 2008  
Anonymous Kim said...

I just got back from Bordeaux too and I loved it! Clean and organized, just like me.
I think we took some of the same pictures too.
Can't wait to go back again.

7:07 PM, September 30, 2008  
Anonymous justfoodnow said...

Good to have you back, young lady. Very good.

4:31 AM, October 01, 2008  
Blogger elizabeth said...

Gorgy photos. If you feel in love with those fabulously stylish European bicycles, you'll love this blog:

6:18 PM, October 01, 2008  

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