No one is an island, but... des Îlles Flottantes

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all!

Yes, y’all: the ones who celebrate it with their partners, and the ones like me, celebrating by themselves. Because self-love should also be celebrated.

However, I’m not going to be hypocritical here; I wish I had a special someone with whom to share an overpriced dinner with some tacky heart-shaped ingredients. Because, let’s face it, it is rare to find someone who is truly an island. And good for those who are! but for the likes of me, I’ve got a treat… The ultimate way to eat your feelings on Valentine’s Day: des îlles flottantes. If we’re going to be unwilling little islands today, we may as well float on delicious sweetness.

But calories are not all I am bringing to you today. I am bringing to you, just in case you need it, some hope. But if you don’t, and you just want your sugar rush, you can have it right here… Although I wouldn’t skip these stories if I were you: they are sweeter than the dessert that’s waiting at the end.

Go to recipe

 

Okay, for those of you who stayed, if you are a single nomad AND hopeless romantic like myself, you know how tough it is out there. What I find in the dating scene are two types of person: the ones who have steady jobs and lead «normal» lives and want to keep it that way, for whom I am just trouble; and the ones who see in nomadism and, by extension, me, the perfect ONS  or FwB. And there is nothing wrong with either option, truly. It’s just not for me. I’ve tried them both, the former makes me yawn and, eventually, the latter as well.

So when I find in my travels or through social media couples who actually met on the road, my heart just swells with faith. And today I want you to feel that way too. So here you have, some ways to meet your soulmate as a wanderer:

 

Hiking up mountains together

Aiden, Freeborn Aiden

When I first set off to India in 2016, I had no idea what I was hoping to find there. No, I didn’t go to India to «find myself» as so many presumed but I certainly wasn’t looking to find love out there! But sometimes, life just has other plans for our lives I guess…

When I first arrived in Dharamsalsa in the Indian Himalayas, I loved it immediately. The air was fresh, the mountains lush and the Tibetan Monks lent an air of serenity to the place. I was also impressed by the abundance of beautiful girls I saw walking around and often felt I was living inside a giant game of travelers Tinder. One night, whilst drinking tea and smoking hashish in a cafe, the most beautiful girl in all of Himachal Pradesh stepped in. I was stupefied by her long longs and afro hair.

Like any true gentleman, I followed her outside and insisted that she let me walk her home… Once she’d satisfied herself that I wasn’t a total weirdo, we had a cheeky little kiss and agreed to hike a mountain together the next day (apparently that was my test).

Fast forward 3 years, we’re still hiking up mountains together.

Aiden and his girlfriend under a tree

Making choices for love

James Ian, Travel Collecting

I met my husband twelve years ago when I was on vacation in New York City.  I had left my job in Japan and was traveling through the Americas for a year, planning to eventually end up in Rio and get a job there.  He was very settled with a business and home in New York.

Well, our one-night romance turned into an intense two weeks, which then became daily four-hour phone calls for the entire five months I subsequently spent in Canada.  In between phone calls, he joined me in Canada three times.  I canceled the rest of my trip down to South America and instead, we decided to move to Australia, where I’m from originally.  After three years, we headed back to NYC, where we now live.

It put an end to my nomadic lifestyle, but I ended up with a husband (and a new nationality) and I get to live in my favorite city in the world, so I have no complaints.

James Ian and his husband with a watermelon ice-cream

Following your own dreams

Gloria, Nomadic Chica

I was tired of everything in Chile, tired of relationships, and ready to buy another one-way ticket to Thailand, but first I wanted to do a trip to Mexico and Guatemala. Instead, I booked a trip with my mom to her dreamed destination: Machu Picchu. We traveled together for about 10 days and then I continued my way towards one of my dreams, the Titikaka Lake.

I’m an absolute believer in the magic of the Universe, and in my case, things changed 360° after this trip. But that only happened because I followed without questioning too much what my intuition was saying to me.

During this trip I met someone, I can’t say I was immediately in love, but I felt something I’ve never felt before, and the most important, this time I was not afraid of being myself 100%, to say the things I truly believe or feel, and I had no fear to be alone if it was the best for me. What it really convinced me was, this man was also respecting me as an individual, and cheering up my success and my dreams.

We kept staying online until I visited him in Germany for the Holidays and kept coming back for about a year until things were real and more serious, so I moved there. Until today, we are together and happy for over three years, we travel together every time we can, but I also keep traveling by myself when I want to. We got married and are planning to have the best time together for as long as we can!

Gloria and Oliver sitting in a beach, with their wedding gowns, kissing

Learning a new language together

Anya, Unexpected Occurrence

I went to China to study Mandarin and was SO excited to have a chance to focus on my own growth and wellbeing. Other people were out of the picture, and I was ready for another solo adventure —my favorite kind of adventure! When I was there, I met Phil, another solo traveller studying Chinese.

It took only two months of knowing him to turn my trip upside down, and we ended up traveling in Mongolia together after our studies ended. Two years later, I absolutely LOVE having a travel companion, best friend, and partner with me whilst we explore the world together.

Phil is kissing Anya's forehead on the top of a mountain

Taking care of a sick puppy

Carly, We Are Sumatra

After falling in love with Sumatra 10 years ago, I was finally brave enough to leave New Zealand in 2016. I lived in a remote jungle village in North Sumatra, helping them develop their eco-tourism. Agung was a jungle guide and the most good looking man I ever met. For one year, I barely spoke to him; I wanted to be respected in the community, and thought he was too gorgeous to be a nice guy! He never gave up pursuing me but I always said no. Finally, his dog got sick and we became close when I helped care for the sick puppy. That was it, the best relationship of my life began. Almost three years later, we are traveling and running a blog together and life is beautiful.

Carly and Agung jumping at the top of a green mountain with a view of the blue ocean and more green mountains in the horizon

Just sipping cooffe

Aline, Nomad Soulmates

One day, after a business meeting with Sebastien (my co-founder) in the Seniman cafe in Bali, two men walked into the coffee shop and one of them grabbed my attention right away. Tall, great smile, and very good looking.

The two set right next to me, joining the group table where I was sitting, to finish off some work. This attractive man started to talk to me and we had a very easy going conversation. And then I felt it, there was a spark. I think my eyes were glowing, so happy to meet this complete stranger who made me laugh a lot. I didn’t know who he is really, but I knew that I felt very good around him and we both were just very curious about each other. We talked until the coffee shop closed.

A few hours later he texted me he wants to see me again. Today he is my partner and we are about to celebrate our three-year anniversary. We travel and work together and it feels awesome to make memories together with someone special.

And I’m going to leave this with that note, since I know you’re hungry and also because, if you’re interested, you can join the Facebook group Aline and Sebastien created for us, nomads, to find our soulmates. She didn’t sponsor this post or anything like that, this is a genuine recommendation… and well, the more people in that group the more chances I get, don’t I?

But for the love of Sugar, this is a recipe blog, isn’t it?

So this recipe is from my Grandma, who is French, because, hey, grandma’s are the ones who always find us beautiful no matter what after all, so it’ll do as a Valentine’s Day consolation prize.

DES ÎLLES FLOTTANTES

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup + 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • Some lemon zest
  • A vanilla pod or vanilla essence
  • A pinch of salt
  • A lot of love (because it is Valentine’s Day and I felt the need to say that)

Recipe

Separate the egg whites from the yolks and beat the former until stiff, with the pinch of salt and adding, little by little, a bit under half a cup of sugar. You have to get a nice and peaky meringue. Meanwhile, bring the milk to boil with the lemon zest and the vanilla pod/essence, but try to prevent it from forming cream on top. When it boils, form balls of meringue with a couple of spoons and cook them in the milk. Don’t forget to turn them so that they are cook on both sides!

Balls of meringue floating in a pot of boiling milk with lemon zest

Also, don’t overcook them. One minute total is enough. And, as you can see in the picture, my Grandma and I didn’t make much of an effort to get the meringue balls to look alike.

Now, strain the milk in case a piece of meringue is playing castaway and also to get rid of the lemon zest. Once you have your milk clean, bring it to boil again. And, since a watched pot never boils, entertain yourself by beating the yolks with the remainders of the cup of sugar. Once the yolks are nice and creamy, add them to the milk and, preventing it from boiling again, stir gently with a wooden spoon,  non-stop, until it turns into custard.

My grandma pouring the egg yolks with one hand onto the boiling milk she is stirring with the other

Pour our sea of custard in a big bowl and put the meringue islands on top. Then, with the 3/4 cup of sugar and the tablespoons of water, make some caramel. If you are really into caramel, then double that. You want a golden-colored but still quite liquid caramel so that you can pour it all over your precious islands:

Caramel sauce is being poured into a crystal bowl with custard and meringue

Let it cool a few hours, et voilà!

Through the glass bowl, the layers that are formed by the custard, the meringue and the caramel sauce

I said before that no one is an island. But, actually, we all are. We are little islands with our ups and downs and strengths and weaknesses, and it gets hard to find a compatible island with a whole other set of ups and downs and strengths and weaknesses. The good thing is that we all share the same ocean anyway and, sometimes, even under the most unexpected circumstances, sweet caramel gets poured all over us.

What an awful metaphor, you guys. Please forgive me: it’s Valentine’s Day. As a reward, here you have a little discount in case you want…

  • to invite your significant other to a surprise trip with Wow;
  • or if you are a cheap gifter on this day and want two Lonely Planet books for the price of one;
  • or if you want $25 off a romantic destination photoshoot with Shoot My Travel, with the promo code IRIS25.

(And these, yes, are affiliate links).

 

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