About Me

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Paris, France
My friends think I'm a jet-setting international playboy...

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmastime in Europe

Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the upside is I get to spend the Christmas season in Europe! This is a dream come true for many, including myself.
Although beautiful, this tree is somewhat controversial with Parisians as it was a gift from Russia. In case you didn't know between annexing Crimea and the plummeting Rouble they're not so popular at the moment. I think gifting trees must be a thing in Europe. When I was in London last week there was a big beautiful tree gifted from Norway as a tribute to British support during WWII.

A few weeks ago I went to Oporto and Lisbon, Portugal. Oporto is where Port wine was invented. Of course I didn't have any, but I did try this succulent beast.
It's called Leitão à bairrada (roasted suckling pig) a Portuguese specialty. It was pretty delicious, although after posting on Instagram I found out I should have tried something else like Francesinha. Next time perhaps. 

However, in Lisbon the next day I made up for it with a visit to a nice Fado restaurant for some traditional cod fish and Fado music. I couldn't decide which type to get so I just got the trio. I highly recommend it.
Fado is a traditional and very popular type of Portuguese music that's a sort of romantic mix between opera and pop - like combining Michael Buble and Pavorotti. During dinner the lights go dim and the artist comes to the middle of the restaurant for about a 15 min performance and then the meal resumes and alternates every 15 minutes till the early hours of the morning. It's wonderful.

Since I've arrived in Europe I heard about the wonderful Christmas markets so I decided to take a quick trip to Munich to check out where it all began. My friend Cassidy Hall from San Francisco was in town so I brought her with me and we had a grand old time, although we pretty much ate non-stop while we were there. We went to the markets in Augsburg and Munich.
After we shopped till we dropped at the Christmas markets we decided to switch it up and visited the Nymphenburg Palace. Somehow Cassidy got the most amazing shot of me with abolutely nobody else in the picture - unheard of! Great picture Cassidy.
Last week I was in Scotland for work. It was my first visit to Scotland. Unfortunately I didn't have any time for sight seeing, but I did have to eat so I tried the local specialty IRN BRU. It's some sort of orange soda. It was ok, but with fish and chips it made a nice addition.
That's all for this post. 

Merry Christmas friends and family and random people that read my blog for whatever reason and may you find peace on Earth and goodwill toward men this Christmas Season. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

4 continents in 4 weeks

I moved to Paris 7 weeks ago and have been gone all but a total of 7 days. The last 4 weeks have been especially hectic being on 4 different continents: China, Italy, US, Amsterdam. My body is starting to rebel from the constant drastic time zone changes. I'm back in Paris as of Thursday and committed to enjoying my time here. Last post I commented on my trip to China so I'll start with Italy.

The highlight of all of my trips is usually the food, but unlike China I actually liked the food in Italy (no offense to my Chinese friends). As usual my Italian colleagues took me on a whirlwind tour of Italy over 4 days that included Milano, Parma, Cesena, Padua, Udine, Catania and Napoli. I love Italy for it's food, people and language - all of which are beautiful.
Fresh ricotta in olive oil and pureed chickpeas - so delicious
Tempura zucchini flowers with Serena, the sales specialist for Northern Italy
Awesome pasta my first night in Milano. Also notice the cola looking drink in the background. It's called Chinotto and is a cola-like drink made from oranges. Very distinct flavor, with a little bit of a bitter aftertaste, but I loved it. 
No Italian dinner is complete of course without gelato. My recent favorite has been salted caramel.
Pasta the next night, not quite as good as the first night.
Pasta the third night with Monica (Italian Marketing Manager) was the best. Thick buttery noodles topped with shaved truffles.
I would have had pasta the fourth night, but I was in Naples where pizza was born, and it lived up to it's name
Pretty view from my balcony in Naples
Next I had to head back to the States to finish all of my work visa paperwork to legally work in France. While there I caught up with some not-so-old friends. I think they are tired of me saying goodbye.
This week I've been in Amsterdam for some sales meetings. It's my 3rd trip to Amsterdam and I've yet to see anything but a hotel, airport and hospital. It's a good thing I love my job so much.
And finally my new favorite luncheon place I just discovered today near my apartment. When I walked in the shop keeper told me I looked like I needed something with ham and cheese and gave me some of this jambon fromage pastry dish fresh out of the oven. She was right and I will return often. If you come visit me in Paris you can expect to meet this little Maison Gourmande.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

It just keeps getting better

Wow, this whole international assignment thing just keeps getting better and better. Here are some of the highlights from the last couple of weeks.

Last weekend my buddy Mike Burr came to visit. He and I were in the same MBA program and he has been doing research in Munich for the last couple of months.

It was Mike's first time to Paris so much of what we did was the usual, but we mixed it up a bit as well.
Fondue with Mike
I rented bikes for the first time. Biking around Paris at 1 am is one of my new favorite activities.
Perfect timing for my first time at Versailles Palace. Late enough in the season that it wasn't too crowded, but just before the leaves started falling.
Inside one of the main halls. It was so big it seemed to go on forever.
I'm not sure you can over-exaggerate Versailles. The art, architecture and gardens were as decadent as I've ever seen.
My first European football match: PSG 3-0 Bordeaux
My first time eating just baguettes and cheese. We found this great little fromagerie with a shop keeper who voluntarily spoke great English (not common in Paris) and who educated us on all of the different cheeses and helped us pick out 3 awesome cheeses. That kind of customer service is unheard of in Paris, especially toward Americans. 
Love this woman
...and this one
But this might be my new favorite piece in Le Louvre. Reminds me a lot of myself to be honest.
Last week I went to assist the local Stryker team with a conference and had some more firsts, mostly dealing with food.
First time eating pig ear. My Chinese colleague said it best, "There isn't enough food in China so we eat everything."
First time eating frog. Luckily it was in this soup with those little peppers that make your mouth go numb. I also had fish eyeball and and jelly fish for the first time. 
Team dinner with colleagues from all over the globe and the biggest lazy Susan you've ever seen.
The Stryker China team is very proud. They went through a few rough years but are now coming back with a vegence. This was outside a big dinner event we held for 60 Chinese physicians and says, "We are your king," a reference that has profound meaning to the Chinese.
I was asked to participate in making sand art during the dinner event, something that is apparently big in China that I had never heard of before this event. Google Chinese sand art and check out some videos. Pretty cool.
Shanghai at night from our private dinner room. The team pulled out all of the stops to give us the royal treatment.
From the tallest bar in Shanghai on the 58th floor of the Ritz Carlton looking out over the Oriental Pearl Tower
Next week: Italy

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Week one

If you didn't know already I moved to Paris last week. An opportunity for a 6 month assignment came up at work and I took it. Of course it was hard to leave California and all of my friends I've made over the last 3+ years. Don't worry, you will always have a place in my heart, and who knows I could be back before you even realize I'm gone!

The last couple of weeks have been busy. Last Monday I flew from San Francisco to Cork, Ireland for a sales training. Wednesday I finally arrived in Paris and got to my apartment around midnight. I barely put a few things away before going to bed. Thursday I went to the office, but only to say hello and then caught an afternoon flight to Bordeaux for another sales training. So my big move to Paris consisted of about 16 hours of actually being in Paris!

Bordeaux was amazing. In the commotion of moving and haste of making plans I didn't realize the sales meeting was at this little place:

Not your ordinary hotel room
The meeting was on Friday so I decided to stay an extra day and tour some of the sites. One of the more famous buildings in Bordeaux, Place de la Bourse, makes anyone a great photographer.

I also went on a wine tour (when in Bordeaux...). The aromas in the fermenting room were for me the best part. For everyone else it was the tasting at the end of course. The group was quite confused when I told them I don't drink and instead just watched them.
The grapes are mixed twice per day
I was again in Paris for just one day on Sunday and then off to Amsterdam for a day trip and than Madrid for another day trip. The rest of this week was in Paris, finally getting unpacked and situated.

Church is actually pretty close, just a lovely 15 minute walk past this nice place. Funny that Paris is the first place I've lived where I've actually walked to church.
Notre Dame de Paris
When I travel around the world I'm generally with locally based colleagues so it's not too difficult getting around. However, I've experienced my first frustrations with international life when trying to shop for a few things. When everything is in French, nobody speaks English and there are no American brands available sometimes I just had to guess. It took me about 30 minutes just to pick out a laundry detergent. Using my washing machine with buttons in French and an electronic screen in Italian was interesting. I think I figured out how to wash them, but it's no wonder they came out wetter than when they started when I tried to dry them. I'm still scratching my head a bit from that one. Of course Google is a life saver. I have no idea how people did this whole expat thing 20 years ago before smart phones and the internet.

Saving the best for last, food has been a highlight. Here's a sampling of French cheeses from our Bordeaux Chateau, steak and frites from L'Entrecôte, a very popular and very delicious restaurant in Bordeaux with only one menu option: steak and frites with an amazing secret sauce, and lobster paella from Madrid.