Monday was my 23rd birthday, the first one I've spent away from family and chocolate cake.
All things considered, it passed quite pleasantly. It was very cold and windy, but sunny (which always helps). My classes went well. And I was touched by the messages and (e)cards you all sent!!
To celebrate, I made a reservation at a nice restaurant in Vesoul, le Caveau du puits (the cave of the wells? this would make sense since there is an old stone well near by). Pam, Kathrin, Elaine, Lupita and her boyfriend and I all got dressed up and braved the horrifically cold wind and cobblestones in heels. We were rewarded with a superb dinner in an old wine cave with fairy lights and slender branches hung over our heads from the arched ceiling. The food was simple and hearty: salmon with a creamy sauce, perfectly cooked steamed veggies and tiny roasted cherry tomatoes that we were all swooning over. We had some local wine, a pinot noir from the Franche-Comté region that was light and fruity and a bit bubbly like champagne. Much to my embarrassment my friends insisted on singing their countries' birthday songs in their various languages: English, French, German, and Spanish. The other diners were tolerant, then joined in, then grew pissy. At the end, someone from another table came over and offered my a glass of wine. I was pretty ready to crawl under the table by this point, but accepted graciously (I think).
Tuesday night there was a get together at another teacher's house for her 50th birthday. Kathrin and I set about making things to take for the potluck, battling with our Toaster Oven That Could, as always. Her quiche was tasty tasty and my artichoke dip wasn't bad (forgot the salt--oops!). A former teacher had crafted a tribute song for Marie-Anne, the birthday girl, set to the tune of "Hallelujah" and basically roasting her in a delightfully funny and sweet way. Lyrics sheets were handed around and we all sang to her. Everyone was rowdy and giggly and having a great time (it occurred to me at one point that the teachers were acting just like the students: telling bawdy stories and covering their mouths and snickering, pretty cute!). There is a visiting Artist in Residence for the school who has just arrived, a photographer with a quiet smile and very profound eyes. One of the art teachers had brought him along, but I think the poor man was overwhelmed by all of these crazy singing people!
Later in the evening the other teachers suprised me by singing to me and bringing in an incredible chocolate coffee cake oozing with rich chocolate sauce. They also presented me with a Crepe Maker, basically one of those hot plates that you use for pancakes, but with circles for tiny, perfect crepes!
Kathrin and I tried the crepe plate out yesterday with enormous success. We made around 100 tiny crepe-lettes and filled them with spinach and cheese, fresh cream and strawberries, dates and honey. I think this will be a new favorite!! It's a genius idea for a dinner party, too, and since the plate is fairly compact, I will absolutely be bringing it back with me, even if I have to give away some shoes to fit it in my luggage!