I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before, but Professor Snark and her husband don’t live in Paris anymore.
It was a very sudden move, which in all honesty is why I didn’t mention it. It happened in the midst of many other things — my new carte de séjour approval, coming back from Paziols and heading to Long Island to pack up the house for the last time — things that I wasn’t discussing on the blog at the time either.
The last time that the Professor and I saw each other before she moved was on an afternoon where I had a million errands to run and she was in the middle of a rushed and hectic visa application for her new home in London. We saw each other for maybe an hour and then parted ways. While she’s only a few hours away now, I can’t help but miss her.
That’s part of the downside of living abroad. People are always leaving. You’re never sure when some of the really important people you’ve met along the way might suddenly disappear from your day-to-day. Although, if I’m fair, the Professor and I were no longer on a day-to-day basis, what with our equally busy schedules. Still, we found time (let’s be really honest here… she found time) to meet for breakfast once a week. She’s good about planning things like that. I miss that too.
I was going through some photos and stumbled upon these, which I took when the Professor, her husband and I took the train to Fontainebleau, now over two years ago. It’s strange to think that it was my first time in that part of Ile-de-France, especially considering that the combination of new friends and new job has me there fairly frequently. This particular trip, though, was an adventure.
Growing up, I didn’t really spend all that much time out of doors. We had our yard on Long Island, but as much as I tried to pretend that the private acre of woods near our house was a forest for exploration, I always knew what was on the other side. I could always hear the cars on Main Street. Fontainebleau is nothing like that. It spans miles of forest, as far as you can see. It’s hard to imagine that Paris is so nearby; you could be anywhere when you’re deep within it. The Country Boy told me today that it once reached the forest of Orléans, more than an hour away, which isn’t hard for me to believe at all.
We ended up taking a little adventure as we explored the forest, jumping a fence and ending up in the private yard of someone who, quite thankfully, wasn’t home.
I like to think that if the Professor and her husband were still living here, we’d still be going on adventures like these. But I hardly have the time to explore Paris, much less leave it anymore. Still, I’m glad I have these memories to share with friends, the adventure and excitement that looking through the pictures gives me. Who knows? Maybe I’ll force the Country Boy on an adventure with me next weekend, and we’ll find secret tunnels and abandoned mansions to explore.
Mushroom Ragu and Polenta
A good dish to come home to after a day in the woods.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound cremini mushrooms, finely diced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp. butter
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms in one even layer. Allow the mushrooms to brown, then push them to the sides of the pan and add more mushrooms, ensuring that each batch is browned before adding the next. Add the onions and allow to cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes. Stir to combine with the mushrooms and cook 1-2 minutes more, until the liquid has all evaporated and the mushrooms begin to stick.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine and stir to incorporate. Add the tomatoes, crushing them in your hands as you add them. Reserve the juice. Reduce the heat to low. Add the thyme and season with salt and pepper.
Cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes, adding tomato juice as necessary to keep the mushrooms saucy.
Meanwhile, make the polenta. Heat the water and milk in a saucepan until simmering. Season with salt and pepper and add the cornmeal, whisking constantly. Whisk until the polenta begins to thicken, about 10 minutes. Then cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Correct the seasoning if necessary with salt and pepper.
Serve the ragu over the polenta.