Sheep in the Big City // Salon de l’Agriculture

Picture this for a moment. You’re in the metro and you see some posters for an event called the Salon International de l’Agriculture (International Agricultural Show). What is your general concept of what this show entails?

If you are like me, a few things come to mind: farmers, pitchforks, plows, soil, crops, barns. Basically, a whole world of things that are very far removed from me. This is why for two years, I wrote off the advertisements as an event that wasn’t for someone like me. Certainly not for a someone who struggles to take care of the occasional house plant that has the misfortune of falling under my guardianship. I assumed it was a nice convention for farmers to put aside their road barricades (as seen in articles like this one) and meet up peacefully to discuss the hottest tractor of the year.

I’m here to do my civic duty of telling you this is NOT what the Salon is all about! Thanks to a post by Expat Edna, and then a huge food post highlighting the event by David Lebovitz, I realized last year that I had it all wrong. I needed to go check it out and -- and if you’re in Paris, you need to as well. It starts on Saturday, February 27, 2016 - so here’s a little of what you can expect.

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The Peach and the Pit: Tour de France in Numbers and Superlatives

There many reasons why I love my sister. (Yes, she’s technically Michael’s sister, but I believe when you luck out with great in-laws, you can just freely claim them as your own family.) One reason is that she shares the same enthusiasm I have at the end of a trip for reflecting back on the ups and downs. After an adventure with Dawn, we sit down over a meal and rehash the “peach and the pit” of the vacation. Each time we realize at some point that this exercise is really called the “peak and the pit,” but we inevitably decide that the peach and the pit sounds cuter anyway. We continue mentally narrowing down the experiences until each person arrives at one highlight and one lowlight of the trip that s/he shares with the group.

Last week, I began to recap our month-long road trip around France as seen through our various accommodations. This week is a different way of stepping back and taking a sweeping survey of the trip as a whole before examining each stop in sharp focus. (I warned you, I love reflection time!) Whether you’re more math-oriented like my hubby or a lover of language like me, I think both approaches give a sense of how this journey through France was an emotional release as we ran around the country with open arms, trying to embrace all that we could in our last month before moving back to the US.

Ready for the big picture of our Tour de France? 

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Afternoon Tea fit for a Queen: Goring Hotel, London

My sister-in-law has taught me how to enjoy the finer things in life. She took me to get my first pedicure and even patiently provided a pair of flip-flops when I lacked the understanding that those were needed (it was winter, after all!). I had always wondered what it would be like to have a sister to share clothes and accessories with, and the few times I’ve forgotten items on visits back to the US, she’s hooked me up with things much trendier than in my own wardrobe.

It follows then, that my first high tea in England would be with her. The truth is that I’m pretty cheap when it comes to spending money on myself. I had been interested to attend a classy afternoon tea time, but the price tag has always made me think twice. With Yumchaa as my go-to tea spot in London, I can get a personal pot of tea for a few quid - a far cry from the price tag of a proper sit-down experience. But as we planned for a fun week ahead in London with Michael’s sister and one of her friends, we figured our last hurrah (for now!) in London should include this bucketlist item. And who else to go with than the queen of class herself, Miss Dawn.

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Breaking the ice with London

Do you ever have that feeling when you’re at a party, and there’s someone there that you want to meet, but you’re too intimidated to just put yourself out there? Wishing you had a friend in common to give an introduction to break the ice?

Well, if the party is Europe and you’re staring down London from across the room -- I’ve unwittingly become that friend in common to give an introduction to get things started.  I got my own introduction with a two-week college course on theater and since then I’ve had the pleasure of introducing the city to many of my friends and family (starting with my husband -- London was our first European vacation as a married couple).

Now, I’d like to give you an idea of how to look London in the eye and say “How you doin’?” by way of recounting my most recent London introduction: to my brother, David.  One never knows where he is bound to show up, and so it should come as no surprise that somehow it worked out in our last few months in Europe that David’s business trip to London aligned perfectly with one of Michael’s work trips there. It was David’s first time in London, and he had an afternoon between business meetings to spend with me in England’s capital.

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Simply Sara Eats: With the Little Bro

My brother was born a foodie. Back before anyone was labeling themselves as such, he was one. While the rest of us “normal” elementary-school aged kids were requesting peanut butter and jelly, or perhaps the standard turkey sandwich, David was asking my mom to make him chicken cutlet sandwiches every day for lunch with a side of French dressing for dipping. He loved Idaho potatoes, boiled or mashed, and could taste if those spuds didn’t hail from the Gem State. Not only did he enjoy food like most boys do, but he had strong opinions as to what he was chowing down on when it came to mealtime.

Fast forward through school and college. My little brother is no longer little, yet at his core, he’s still that chicken cutlet and Idaho potato-loving gourmand. He lives in Manhattan and has extensive lists of favorite restaurants and ones to try on the horizon. So it should come as no surprise that when he came to visit with his fiancée one last time while we were living in Paris, the food scene was at the top of the to-do list.

To be clear, he didn’t merely say he wanted to try some French food, or eat croissants every morning, like most guests do. He wrote to me expressing the desire to go “belly to the wall.”

If you’re like me, you might not fully grasp the expression. Did he want to eat so much that his belly would extend to the wall? (A huge feat, if you saw my skinny brother.) I was unclear, but I got the jist. We were going to go all out for one last hurrah in Paris.

We had three full days to do it up, and if I say so myself, I think we accomplished our mission. If you’re like David and want some ideas of how to coordinate a foodie extravaganza in Paris, here are some of the places we hit during his visit:

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7 Steps to the Ultimate Paris Picnic

So...remember how I said that "the only way to get over moving away from Paris is to keep returning?" Well, I sort of jumped on that advice immediately and am going back in a few days! In honor of my last-minute trip, I'm going to share about an activity I plan to do every day in Paris if weather allows...

Going on a picnic is my all-time favorite thing to do in Paris, ever. It combines some of the very best elements that Paris has to offer - picturesque settings, delectable food and wine, and good company. The thing is, picnickers are not born, but raised...

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Keep it Classy - Your 5-step Guide to a Wonderfully Romantic Parisian Picnic

When you visit Paris, you want the whole package: delicious French food, complex French wine, and delicate French pastries, all to be enjoyed with in a perfectly romantic setting...at a price that inflicts minimal pain to the wallet. Unfortunately, dinner out (especially with the above elements) in Paris often comes at an inflated price tag. But now that summer has come, I’ll let you in on my warm-weather secret for inexpensive romantic dining with the best seat in the house - a jazzed-up picnic along the water.

The plan is pretty genius. It involves a self-service picnic with very little effort involved, while including a few key items that add class to the simplest of spreads.  Think of it as the little black dress of picnics if you will.

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An Introduction to Polish Cuisine

If nothing else in my Poland series has convinced you to consider putting Poland on the bucket list, maybe some food will do the trick!  I love the blogging friendships I have due to bonding over trips to Poland, which is how I got to know Anna from Slightly Astray. As part of my Poland series wrap-up, I asked her to write a little about her experience in this country. Looking at all the wonderful things she tried makes me want to revisit Poland and be more adventurous! I somehow stuck to mostly eating pierogi because, well, it's pierogi. And they're absolutely delicious. But let me allow Anna to show you what else to experience in the Polish cuisine scene! 

Hi there! I'm Anna over at Slightly Astray. I'm a long term traveler who blogs about life on a road with my boyfriend. We are kind of complete opposites, but the one thing we share is a love for food! Our absolute favorite travel activity is trying the local cuisine. So when I became friends with Sara over our love for Poland and she invited me to guest blog, it was a no brainer that I would talk about food!

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Final Week: Eating and Traveling Well in Poland

Bon lundi!

As I mentioned last week, I’m winding down the Poland series. And I’m serious - this is the last week I’m focusing on Poland, at least for a long while! 

This is my last-ditch effort to convince you (if you’re still on the fence) that you need to book a trip to Poland, and soon. If you’re like me, trying new foods and local specialties is a draw of any trip. This week Anna from Slightly Astray is going to share about some of the wonderful things she ate in Poland. So if the sights, history, and beauty of Poland didn’t interest you, maybe the cuisine will!

Then I’ll finish up giving some more information on how to plan your own trip. And with that, we’ll refocus on France next week.

Best of both worlds - in Poland, we found that you could live like a king, dining at great restaurants at a fraction of the price we're accustomed to. These pierogi are from our "fancy" meal in Gdańsk.

Thanks for following along thus far! Here’s to the final push on Poland :-)

Simply Sara Eats: in Warsaw

In the "Simply Sara Eats" series, I recount the my favorite food and drink discoveries.

We ate a lot of good food throughout Poland. Krakow stands out in my mind as it was our first destination in Poland, and our first taste of Polish cuisine of the trip. Warsaw though was another force to be reckoned with. We may not have eaten as much native food in the capital, but we took advantage of its international influences. The food here gets the distinction as some of the most memorable of the entire trip, and surprised us in many ways. (If you told me how much hummus I would eat in Warsaw, I would have never believed you! But more on that in a minute...) Without further ado, here’s the best-of list:

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Exploring Medieval Toruń, Poland

I’ve come to learn that in any trip of considerable length one needs some built-in downtime to recharge and relax. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m not the crazy hardcore sightseer I was in my early 20’s. Or maybe it reflects the slow shift my travel tendencies have made towards visiting every possible museum to sampling all the noteworthy local food and drink spots.

At any rate, in our 16-day trip through Poland, Toruń was the halfway point. And after running around Krakow and Warsaw, a change of pace was certainly welcomed and needed. Luckily Toruń was next on the itinerary. It is a medieval town that boasts two things besides overall cuteness: being Copernicus' hometown, and for producing gingerbread. What better place for my science-minded hubby and his foodie wife to explore?

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Poland: Guest Post by Cynthia of Adventurings

I'd like to introduce you to one of my blogger friends, Cynthia! We first became acquainted by writing about our trips to Poland, and today she's going to share some of the highlights from her grand trip through the country to offer another perspective. Be sure to check out her blog - but I'll let her introduce herself properly: 

Ahoj! I'm Cynthia and I blog over at Adventurings about my expat adventures living in the Czech Republic and my travels that have fortunately come with living life abroad.

This year, I was brainstorming with my fiancé and travel partner about where the heck to go for our big summer trip. Just for fun, I threw out there: "What if we took a several week long backpacking trip to Poland? To really see the country and not just a few of its most famous cities." It seemed logical: I have Polish ancestry and would really love to spend more time in the "homeland" but also, the country neighbors the one I've been living in for two years, so it seemed only right to get to know this little pocket of the European continent a little better.

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