But Sugar is Sweeter

Fourth Year Adventures

So I apologize that this post is not really recipe related, but I figure maybe someone out there would be interested in what life is like as a matched fourth year medical student.  In case you don’t get this from the post, in the words of Barney Stinson it’s legen… wait for it…… dary.    It’s a pretty great feeling to have so much freedom after 3.75 years of being a slave to the books.  Lately, I’ve seen a few second year med students post about doing UWorld questions while preparing for Step 1 (the most stressful test I’ve ever taken in my life), and I just want to tell them… It gets better, so much better! So let this post be a testament  to that!

While John was finishing up classes, I had the pleasure of going to a med school friend’s bachelorette in Vegas.  While I previously have claimed that “Vegas isn’t really my scene”, this trip proved me wrong.

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We did all the vegas-y things that 20-sometthings do, including this….
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When I got back, it was a few days of real life, before I made a trip to Columbus to see one of my best friends.  It just so happened she had the weekend off, AND there was an elaborate birthday extravaganza planned on the Santa Maria.  I’ll have to say, everyone really took the pirate theme to heart, and it made for a really fun party.

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Then I sort of last minute booked my trip to San Francisco to see my roomies from college.   The picture below is in Dolores park, with 4 girls who all met through PWild, a 2 week wilderness backpacking adventure before college started.  My love affair with California is still going strong.

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We packed a lot into a few days thanks to our amazing tour guide, who also happens to be finishing up  business school.  We started the weekend with dinner and drinks in Oakland, and I’m still dreaming about the garden gimlet with crushed cucumber and hand muddled mojitos of that night. Then we hit up Muir woods, hiked to Stinson beach, and finished the day off in Dolores Park.  Emily and I used the time change to our full advantage and were waking up around 6 – which gave me the chance to join all the other runners down at the embarcadero.  And we even made a trip up to Napa and Sonoma.  So much diversity in such a small area.  So at least for now, I’ve still got my sights set on California!

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When I got back, it was a day full of packing, and the big move to Cleveland!  We stored all our stuff in a pod,  and about 20 hours before we left for Italy, I realized that I had stored my Passport away in that pod full of tightly packed stuff.  By some miracle, the pod was moved to a reachable location, and we were able to sneak onto the property, unpack the pod, and recover the passport.    I kept saying, “I can’t believe I did that!” but really, I totally can.  Sorry John, take the good with the bad I guess :-).

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And then John and I left together for our 2 weeks in Italy!  We had a really hard time deciding where we wanted to go as a graduation trip, but ultimately we thought Italy offered the most of the things we were interested in – good food, gorgeous views, pretty hikes, and good wine :-).

We started the trip in Tuscany, and stayed in an old 8th century village that was converted to a hotel.

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We visited several small towns, and some bigger ones like Siena.  It was kind of crazy to think about the fact that Tuscany is like Italy’s version of farmlands.  Wine and olives instead of corn and soybeans.  I think I could deal with that :-).  My absolutely favorite part of this trip was the cooking class we took from 2 Italian sisters, who hosted us in their home. We heard about them through Backroads , and you can find them at Tutti a Tavola.  This is their personal patio, and yes that is a field of olive trees right on their land.  We even bought a liter of olive oil, pressed on their property, to bring home.

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It was just really neat to be in an actual Tuscan home, cooking actual tuscan food.  We had a wonderful 5 course dinner, and had so much fun preparing it together.  We started with grissini (crunchy italian breadsticks), covered with thin pancetta and then rolled in a mix of brown sugar and crushed red pepper.

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Then we roasted tomatoes filled with breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic and of course olive oil.  These eventually got mixed with pasta, but they would be fabulous on their own as well.

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Then we had pork loin, literally encrusted in italian bread and fennel.
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And of course John helped with the Tiramisu.
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We met 2 girls from San Francisco  a couple from denver, and another couple from Australia.  It was such a fun and interesting evening.  We headed over to Pienza the next day, and enjoyed this view from our window.
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Literally everywhere you look in Tuscany is right off a post card.  This was from the hillside town of Montepulciano.
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After a few more days of wine tastings, and visiting beautiful countryside towns, we headed down to the coast.  I seriously don’t know how John drove on all the crazy roads with crazy Italian drivers, but he never once complained and even seemed to enjoy it.  I wouldn’t have lasted 2 minutes.
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When we left the states, my mom cried.  When we got back,  she told us  it wasn’t because she was sad to see us go, but because she was so worried about John driving along the Amalfi coast. It is pretty harrowing, thank goodness he likes to drive stick shift, because I can’t imagine driving there with an automatic. We checked out Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello and a few smaller towns, but Positano was by far my favorite.
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And by night…

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I think my second favorite part of the trip was a hike we did called “Footpath of the Gods” or Sentiero degli dei.  It was about a 6 mile hike from Bomerano, into Positano. It started off a little rough because we somehow missed the initial sign starting the trail, and ended up walking about 4 miles before finally getting back to the starting point. Once we actually got on the trail it was an easy, well marked hike, with beautiful views.
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For being called “The Amalfi Coast”, the actual town of Amalfi was really nothing to write home about.  But we still of course took the obligatory picture.
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We also took a one day trip to Pompei and Mount Vesuvius, which truthfully I didn’t know anything about, and so wasn’t really expecting much.  It ended up being awesome!  Pompeii is the largest archeological site IN THE WORLD.  It is an entire town from the six or seventh century BC that became preserved under ash when Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD. John is standing in front of what used to be a “fast food joint” in the town.  Literally, they made food, and people would take it to go!  They also had “plumbing systems” (in BC times people!), and shops, amazingly elaborate houses, and of course the standard gymnasiums, bath houses, amphitheater, that I always associate with Roman times.

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We packed a lot into the trip, and even made it over to the Isle of Capri for our last night.
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I didn’t want to bore you with too many details, but I didn’t even begin to cover everything we did!  If you have any questions about planning a similar trip, be sure to let me know!  Overall, it was a really nice getaway for just the two of us before I start residency. It was filled with a lot (probably too much) pasta, wine and gelato, but we both enjoyed every second :-).

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2 responses

  1. Cynthia Gunn

    You are glowing Jacqueline! I want to go there after reading your blog.

    June 3, 2013 at 4:03 pm

  2. Leslie Scudiere

    Mark and I are planning to spend a vacation in Italy ! I may have to contact you for tips. Your trip sounded glorious. Thanks for taking time to post Jaqueline.

    June 3, 2013 at 4:10 pm

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