Saturday, October 24, 2009

My latest obsession.. Parisian macarons!

Long awaited post from me about... macarons! No it's not sort of a pasta and not even Italian :) It's actually a French and, particularly, a Parisian PASTRY! no, more precisely it's a small heavenly thing that you can put in your mouth :-D

Macarons are a very colorful french pastry that are usually made of egg whites, almond powder, icing sugar and sugar. They are sandwich-like, made with two thin cookies and a cream or jam or mousseline between the cookies and can contain also various nuts.

Note that each color has its own flavor ! and although they may seem small, but personally I think that having just one macaron at once, with a coffee, tea or hot chocolate is perfect.

Macarons are widely used as wedding favors!

They have also been featured in the movie Marie Antoinette:

Interesting article on maracons on SerousEats.

A video on how the macarons are made:

I'm delighted to inform you that you can taste macarons even in Yerevan!!! They can be tasted in the "Café La Bohème" and "Charles" restaurant near Cascade, costing 350 AMD for one there (I've heard that also Café de Paris has macarons, though haven't tried them there yet). They give it also for takeaway in such cute boxes:

Thanks to Davit Hakobyan for the images of "my" macarons :))

Monday, October 12, 2009

Yerevan is 2791 years old! My report from the celebrations

Citizens of Yerevan and its guests witnessed the most large-scale celebration ever today. Hardly anyone can recall any event that was celebrated with such wide scope. It wasn't an anniversary and in fact, last year's 2790th celebrations were in no comparison with this year's. Rumors say that it was organized this way because it was the first Yerevan Day celebration for the newly elected head of City Municipality, and plus, some really big distraction for people was needed after the fuss of signing the protocols for normalizing Armenian-Turkish reactions on October 10. Interesting to mention that the ribbons, pins and other symbols of celebration had October 10 writing on them.
The traffic in all the downtown was completely stopped for the whole day. We had a rare chance to see Mashtots, Sayat-Nova avenues, Abovyan, Khanjyan streets so empty!

Abovyan street. View from the crossroad with Sayat Nova ave.
Besides, the whole city was decorated with country and city flags and all of that was making the mood. I loved that people were happy, smiling and even congratulating each others on the streets! Yes, I mean strangers :)

the locations of events on the Yerevan Map

The list of events included:

  • 2791m length marathon of paraolympic games' participants (from the Victory bridge to Matenadaran)
  • Cycle racing
  • Washing of statues of Yerevan
  • Windsurfing demonstrative contest on the Swan lake.
  • Festive parade from the Russian Square to the Republic Square
  • Theatrical walk of 3000 person troops headed by King Argishti
  • City of masters on Northern Avenue - various people and organizations were showcasing their art
  • Retro automobiles show at Cascade Complex.
  • Shooting of a film about Yerevan at the statue of "Tghamardik" (Men) near Saryan statue.
  • Brass bands performances on various locations
  • Only Northern Avenue held 5 stages which were "occupied" by various kids' singing or dancing ensembles.
  • Concert stages:
    • Jazz music stage at Cascade Complex
    • Children's stage (various performances, games, clowns and fairytales' heroes) in Kirov park
    • Theatrical stage (mime shows, performances, etudes) in Moscow Boulevard
    • "Author" music stage in Moscow Boulevard
    • Stage of world nations (ethnic minorities in Armenia) in English Park
    • Variety performers' stage (pop music) at the Stepan Shahumian square
    • Youth stage (DJs, fire show) in front of Matenadaran
    • Rock music stage at Charles Aznavour square (in front of Moscow cinema)
    • Classical music stage in the park in front of the music conservatory
    • Ethnic music stage at the crossroad of Mashtots avenue and Biuzand street
    • Gala concert on Republic Square with the participation of international pop stars
  • Festive fireworks at the Republic Square and from 20 locations of Yerevan

As you can see the scale is really impressive and the organization was rather good than bad. All of the major organizing companies were involved and hundreds of volunteers were coordinated. I only got disappointed when realized that being there at the heart of celebrations at 4 in the afternoon, I couldn't get any flag or pin or balloons :( because they were all distributed. By the way, many information centers were organized on various locations that were distributing flyers and agenda and also the symbols.

Trust me, I have NEVER EVER seen the city so crowded before !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seemed like there were hundreds of thousands people in the streets. They were all happy, shining and content. I was enjoying watching faces of the people passing by from the windows of several cafes in downtown, meanwhile being able to do some stuff for job (long-live free wi-fi) and also to upload the photos I took by that time.

Photos from the demonstrations of windsurfing on the Swan Lake:

I took only few photos, since after working so much in a photo agency I finally realized that my camera sucks :D (while my photography skills got developed!) and also I had in mind that our photographers that were running in the city to capture all the events would bring awesome shots that I can also make use of ;)

I'm so positive and happy now. In fact, I would die if, for some reason like being abroad, I wouldn't be able to see and feel all this. I'm so not programmed to live abroad for a relatively long period. I can't miss my city and my people to see festive and really happy!

So.. Enjoy the pics :) and let me go to collapse on my bed… I was on feet the whole day!

Northern Avenue

Children dance ensemble prepares for the performance

Rock music stage with Bambir band in front of the Moscow Cinema

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

About my pink netbook and software iRecommend

Buying a computer is always a big event for me. I still remember the excitement around buying my first ever laptop with own money back in February 2008. It wasn't the greatest and most powerful one... in fact it was the cheapest one in Media Markt of Rotterdam; the only one that was being sold with Win XP instead of Vista... it had a very simple design and fitted well to my needs.

I was excited about the idea that I can carry it with me (a cute orange laptop bag was meant for that) write from wherever I want, even from bed ! It won't make noise as my desktop comp., so I can work even when my sister is sleeping, etc etc...
However as time passed, it transformed just to a desktop computer because smth happened to the battery and it stopped working without AC power. Then it was heating too much and even started burning my knees... then the heating caused damage of the Wi-Fi adapter and it also stopped working. I was desperately seeking a laptop cooling pad in Yerevan, but didn't succeed in finding it. Well, despite of these troubles it served quite well for me and I'm happy I had it :)

In this era of lightweight netbooks and mini-notebooks with cool designs I couldn't not to be up-to-date with the technology. After some polls on which brand to choose and researching all the online stores in Moscow (a friend generously agreed to bring it with her) I stopped by ASUS Eee PC 1005HA which has a Seashell-inspired design, 160GB memory, 1GB RAM, 1,66 GHz processor, weighting only 1,4kg. But the best thing is its battery! 10.5 hours of battery work, cool huh? :) Oh yes, and I chose the PINK one :) I'm tired of black stuff around me and I'm for uniqueness :)
I couldn't wait until it arrived. So nice, so portable and smart!!! The only disappointment was that the Windows XP Home edition was already installed... in Russian language version :( I hate Russian language interface and i couldn't stand reading "Пуск" instead of "Start". The language can't be changed and the only option is to install new Windows...Well I got my license for Russian language since it was brought in Moscow :( However, I renamed all the icons and folder names and changed all other options to default English so I'm okay with it now.

pictured: my first computer, back from 1996

Then i started to transfer all my files from the previous laptop via wi-fi (luckily i have my own network at home). After that, I started to customize and personalize my new computer with the software i use, so this is a nice occasion to write down about some applications i'm using in case my recommendations would be useful to any of you. 
  • At first, i downloaded the browser. Chrome this time and no FF. Sorry Firefox fans, i don't want to struggle with hanging browser anymore! And I also installed the new Opera 10 as my second browser.
  • Then i downloaded my favorite picture editor and viewer Picasa 3.5, that scanned all my pictures for its database.
  • Then it came the time for Winamp. It's my preferred music player since 2001.
  • After that i downloaded the scrobbler to continue scrobbling the tracks i listen on this computer too.
  • Then it was the time for the video player and my choice is VLC.
  • IMs. I downloaded Google talk client. Skype was pre-installed.
  • KDWin to be able to switch between keyboard drivers for Russian and Armenian.
  • Flashget as a download client.
  • uTorrent as a torrent downloader. 
  • Activated Office 2007's 60 day trial to be able to use OneNote as my favorite note taking application.
  • My favorite twitter client was Twitterfox plugin for FF, but since i don't have FF on my personal comp. anymore, I downloaded Tweetdeck, which I have used also before.
So... this is it! :)