FAMILY TIME | Valentina Duracinsky: FAMILY TIME

November 4, 2014


Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Family Weekend

It was Family Weekend here at Smith, and my family came from all over. Ann & David flew in from California, Hatley flew in from Washington, DC and my mom came all the way from Colombia. My dad stayed in Paris, he had excuses like "I have work" mouais, c'est ce qu'il dit... Ah, but it was absolutely amazing. I realize that we went to so many places, this almost reads as a guide to Northampton. So, hello and welcome to Northampton, you will enjoy your stay. 

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky The Green Bean Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Family Weekend Shelburne Falls Valentina Duracinsky Family Weekend Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Maple Syrup

My mom arrived Wednesday right before lunch. We hugged. "Did you have lunch?" I asked. "No. I'm hungry. Sushi?" Mutual agreement. I knew she would say that. It's a mother-daughter thing. So like the good daughter I am, I dragged her suitcase to our usual, Zen. Last time she was here for a week we went twice. We just love sushi. Three times makes it our usual, in my world. I got exactly what I got last time, too. Sushi sashimi lunch box – why would I want anything different? We hung out all afternoon and then met Ann and David at 6pm in their hotel, Hotel Northampton (which I can now tell you is absolutely beautiful). I grabbed a Dragon juice at Haymarket and then they went to India House (I had class that evening). To make a really long story short, Ann and David are close family friends. I grew up with Hatley in California. We were so close that it honestly felt like we were sisters, which makes Ann and David my second set of parents. There's something really nice about having four parents.

Thompsons 5 Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Wilder House

Thursday we went to The Green Bean for breakfast where I had far too much coffee. Hey, the menu said "bottomless coffee". As you will see throughout this post, I took them many places and The Green Bean was a no-brainer. I showed them around Noho for a bit. I apologized about the weather. I took them to Provisions and other shops. David works in the co-op world so we went to Green Fields Market. What a wonderful store! I bought turkish dried figs, fig jam, dried mango and coffee-flavored chocolate (my new thing. As are figs. You'll see, the obsession will start to seep into future posts...) We went to Hope & Olive for lunch. Lobster & avocado caesar salad?? Pumpkin crème brûlée?? It's like they knew me. After that, we visited Shelburne Falls and the bridge of flowers. It was beautiful but it was a rainy. We had coffee and steamed milk (my mom and Ann's new favorite drink – they got it almost every day) at La Luncheonette, the cutest little place. Driving back to Northampton, we passed Hager's Farm Market where we stopped. And good thing we did. I discovered maple soft serve and would like that every single day for the rest of my life, please. Then we stopped at River Valley Market, another wonderful co-op. That evening I had class again and I felt pretty awful after all that sugar and coffee. Seven cups... not a good idea. Why do I keep doing that? I go to Smith, I should be smart.

Friday morning I woke up extra early to go for a jog. Then we met up with Ann & David. It was a much nicer day. We had a sort of picnic in the Wilder dining hall. Cheese, fig spread, Hungry Ghost bread, grapes, pears, many different kinds of apple... Kady even joined us and brought homemade gooseberry jam. It was a feast and it was fantastic. In the evening, we picked up Hatley from the airport and then went to Thai Garden for dinner. It is without a doubt one of my favorite places in Northampton. It was wonderful, I ordered lots of peanut sauce, and discovered new dishes. Thai Garden, I shall miss you when I leave (now 39 days but who is counting. I am. Every minute)

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Sun Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Botanical Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Sip Coffee

Saturday morning, after my morning run, we met at the botanical garden. I invited little G from Sunnyside and his mom to meet my family. We walked around the botanical garden for a bit, talked, and then went downtown to meet my adviser and a few friends for coffee. We went to Haymarket for that. Some ended up getting lunch as well. I settled for the 7-day smoothie which was amazing as always but incredibly filling! The seven of us sat around two tables for quite a while. Embarrassing stories were told about me. I thank them all for that. It was pleasant. We had 7pm reservations at a fancy restaurant and I wasn't as hungry as I wanted to be when we got there. It was my special graduation dinner because I am graduating in six weeks which is insane and please don't ask me what I'm going to do after college. If you want to celebrate something special, go to Blue Heron. It was such a wonderful meal. I can't quite understand how I fit so much food in my stomach. I had a little scare by the end, when I was drinking coffee and suddenly felt so incredibly full I almost couldn't breathe. But let's just remember the good stuff, the food. Here's all the wonderful things we ate, just to torture everyone, including myself: bacon wrapped blue cheese dates, scallops with lentils du Puy & smoked bacon, pumpkin gnocchi, pan fried oysters, duck, smoked pork chop with bacon jam, coffee spiced steak frites with homemade ketchup and truffled mayo, indian spice rice noodles with almond pesto, pomegranate custard, chocolate truffle torte with espresso caramel ice cream, pumpkin cheesecake... Everything was so delicious, and I had leftovers! My wish is to recreate some of these dishes in the (near) future. Starting with the coffee spiced steak, because coffee. (Side note, I've also been looking into buying an ice cream machine. Any suggestions? then I'll start by making coffee caramel ice cream.)

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Hadley Maple Shack

Sunday morning I went for a jog. It's wonderful. I think I'm starting to enjoy it. I can't wait to make it part of my daily routine when I get back to Paris. Wake up. Jog. Shower. Get a life. Job? Well's see. My mom went to mass (she will find the nearest church in whatever country or town she is in.) I went to Sip Cafe for a large black coffee. My mom joined me (guess what she got?) and we sat for awhile. I had my camera and I cowardly went up and asked if I could take pictures for an article. They said yes and asked questions and were nice. I told them I loved their salmon caesar salad. I probably talked to much. We went over to the fam's hotel room around 10:00-ish. We drove to a very busy Esselon Coffee for brunch. Somehow we were able to find a table in the first two minutes we were there. The smoked salmon eggs benedict was amazing, as were the blueberry pancakes with local maple syrup. Another great place I recommend! We drove around, looking for a place to park and walk around, by the river or in some forest... anywhere. It's Massachusetts, you should walk under trees of multiple colors at some point in the autumn or you're not allowed to come back. Alas, we just drove and drove not really finding a place. Until... ah! The North Hadley Sugar Shack & Market! The very maple syrup we were just pouring on our pancakes. Yes, thank you, I'll take three bottles. I had no room in my stomach, but Hatley and David each ordered a maple soft serve ice-cream. I did have a few delicious bites. It's a gift from the gods, I kid you not. The sun was out so we took some family pictures. Well, we tried. I will wait and see if Ann uses one for their Xmas card this year (the picture above is pretty darn cute). Hatley was being a goof 90% of the time. On our way back to Noho, David insisted we stop so he could take a picture of Hatley in front of the "Welcome to Hadley" sign. She stood in front of the D and made a T with her arms. Very clever, very clever.

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Tart Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Viva Pasta

I tried not to be sad, but the inevitable was coming. They were taking Hatley to the airport at around 3pm, and my mom's bus to Boston was at 5pm. Saying goodbye isn't fun. With Hatley it was quick and painless, which is nice in a way. Big hugs and I love you-s and I'll miss you-s and then she drove away. With my mom, we just hung out in their hotel room until 4:20 and then arrived at the bus stop 30 minutes early. There's nothing worse than waiting for someone to leave. There's not much to be said. No conversation. Just waiting. Waiting. You can't think of any conversation worth starting because in any minute they'll be leaving, and I guess your brain knows that you shouldn't start something you might not finish. There's a sense that they're not quite there and not quite gone either. It's strange. So in silence you just sit together and hold hands and prepare for the goodbye. 
I went back to my room, listening to podcasts on the way –because I always listen to podcasts any way– and waited for David & Ann to pick me up for dinner. I'm so glad they weren't leaving until the next day. I don't think I could have handled four goodbyes in one day. We went to a place I had never tried, Paul & Elizabeth's. I am now regretting not trying it before. Now I've only six weeks left. So little time to try everything on the menu.

Monday morning. Jog. Tart Baking Co for coffee and conversation with Ann. We had so many wonderful conversations about blogging and food writing and cooking... We walked around Northampton. It was a gorgeous, sunny day. She found some books about chicken and bees at Raven Used Books. I found a wonderful cookbook by Alice Waters on sale. Alice Waters who, by the way, wrote the foreword to Ann's cookbook. We stepped into The Artisan Gallery which never seemed very, how do I put this... for my age... but it's actually a wonderful store. Everything is so beautifully arranged, We even found the cookbook I had been telling Ann about, Bitter. For lunch we went to Viva Pasta and for dessert, I got a generous and comforting kiddie sundae from Herrell's. Pumpkin Caramel swirl with homemade hot fudge, homemade whipped cream, pecans and a cherry on top. Then they were gone. And I was left all alone. With a fridge full of leftovers, fig jam and a bag of dried figs.

This was by far one of my favorite weeks of college ever. Around the same time last year, my mom came for a week. We met in Boston for the weekend and then she came to Smith. Another fantastic memory. Thanks for reading. And yes, I will accept free food from all establishments above for talking oh so dearly about you all... no one? Please?

Also, holy %&$, this was my LAST family weekend at Smith College.

Smith College Valentina Duracinsky Herrell's Smith College Valentina Duracinsky sisters


Arden Rubens (TOPCOAT) said...

Have a lovely time! What a lovely location. xx


nunù sofia said...

amazing picture ;) COOL ;)
if you want check it out my new post, it will be my pleasure ;)

Mihaela said...

that's a great post! you have such a lovely blog :))

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charlotte not gainsbourg said...

love your blog :))

La bellezza ci salverà

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