Monday, January 30, 2012

The Ferris Wheel

When I was in Paris this past summer, I was completely enamored with the ferris wheel in the Tuileries. To me it seemed like a fun way to see Paris, so I immediately added it to the "Must Do" list for return trip in January.

Although my original idea was to ride it during the day, my boyfriend suggested a nighttime ride on the ferris wheel to see all of Paris lit up.

It was an excellent choice.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Le Deux Magot

It's chilly today, and the sky is the saddest color of grey that I've seen in a while. It makes me want to rewind time to two weeks ago so that I can once again be sitting in this too famous cafe, drinking coffee and eating way-too-rich-but-still-wonderful chocolate mousse.

I want to wander around Saint-Germain-des-Prés again and see oddly wonderful things like dozens up dozens of people on roller blades whizzing by us.

I love experiencing new places, and will always crave traveling to places I don't know, but there are days like today where yearly trips to Paris for the rest of my life just seems so darn appealing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Satsuma & Fennel Salad

One of my biggest indulgences is food blogs. I love learning new recipes and drooling over the gorgeous pictures. When a friend introduced me to Cannelle et Vanille, it was like hitting the motherload of all foodie indulgences. A few days ago she posted a blood orange and fennel salad that looked so good, I was severely tempted to run to the grocery store to buy all the ingredients even though I had just returned from the grocery store only an hour earlier. So today, on my way home from teaching I decided to hit the store to pick up what I would need.

Here's the thing--food blogging and my small little town of Charlottesville don't always go together. In the summer Charlottesville is awash in heirloom tomatoes and a staggering variety of herbs and greens. In the winter? It's darn near a wasteland unless you can afford the prices of places like Harris Teeter and Whole Foods. As a grad student, I cannot. Those gorgeous multicolored carrots food bloggers commonly feature? They're $4.99 for a half dozen. Those beautiful candy cane beets? $3.49 for three itty bitty ones. As I began to look around for the gorgeous ingredients featured on Cannelle et Vanille, I quickly became deflated. There were no blood oranges. Watercress was $5.99 per bunch. Fennel was $3.49 per bulb. Yellow string beans? $4.79. Even if I could find all of the ingredients I needed, I was well on my way to creating a $40 salad.

So I substituted. Satsuma (already in my fridge) instead of blood oranges. On sale blackberries for some tartness. Regular green beans (which I blanched) instead of yellow ones. Mixed baby greens for watercress. While I'll still look at the original blood orange salad with some envy, I'm pretty pleased with how my version came out. Tart, but not sour. Colorful but not too many flavors going on to be distracting.

For the Salad:
Shaved fennel
black rice
sliced radish
mixed baby greens
blanched green beans

For the dressing:
juice of one satsuma
juice of 1/4 of a lemon
olive oil
a teaspoon of plain greek yogurt
salt & pepper (I used the salt and pepper with wild flowers for mine)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Mouse Ears & Tiaras

Our first day in Paris was spent at Disney Paris. My boyfriend loves Disney, and while I admit that I'm not on that level (I think my last time there was about 10 years ago), the moment I saw that candy pink colored castle it was like being a kid again.

Although the day was just a bit chilly, that did not stop us from running around the park and trying to ride as many rides as possible. Going there on a Tuesday in January had loads of benefits especially no lines. We were able to hop on pretty much every ride with no wait.

The first day in Paris brought out a love of Disney that I didn't know I had, and now I cannot wait for the opportunity to take my nephew there this summer.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Huitrerie Regis

I think every couple has a thing, right? Something that you bond over, that is something you seek out. For some it's a sports team or a favorite vacation spot. For my boyfriend and me it's oysters. I first really fell in love with oysters in Australia. They were fresh, briny and life changing. Although my boyfriend was hesitant to try them at first, he braved his first raw oyster when we were in Martha's Vineyard this summer, and has been hooked ever since. Since then it's been our go-to date when we want something special and "us."

One of my Christmas gifts to him this year was to take him to an oyster dinner in Paris on our trip. Oysters are in season in the winter in Paris, so it seemed like it was fate. My choice of restaurant was the amazing Huitrerie Regis, commonly agreed to be the best place for oysters in all of Paris.

It was divine. The restaurant is tiny--perhaps 6 tables total. There's barely any waiting room so the waitress instructed us to go have a glass of wine across the street, and she'd come get us when a table opened up. It was worth ever second of the wait. We ordered two dozen oysters and a cheese plate along with some sancerre, which is the wine that pairs best with oysters. Everything was perfection. The oysters, served on a bed of ice and seaweed were perfectly chilly & tasted like the sea. The restaurant is tiny, but intimate. We were the only non native French people there, which made my little heart flutter with happiness. At times I'd look up, and everyone would be stealing glances at each other as if to say, "Are you loving this as much as I am? Isn't this amazing?"

It was one of those meals where I couldn't stop smiling throughout. It's something I'll think back fondly on for a long time.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dear Anna: Advice for an 11 year old girl

One of my dear little friends asked that I write her a letter for her confirmation. This is the letter I wrote for her. I think at 11 years old, it's advice that won't sink in right away, but I hope it's something she can look back on one day.

Dear Anna,

I'm sitting here at my mom's house staring at a piece of paper with instructions about what I'm suppose to write about here: what do I think about you? what advice about life can I give you? and what do I want for you when you grow up. The big questions. My advice to you is simple enough, and I think it's the best advice I can give--be yourself. Yet I think it's also the hardest advice to take at your age. As you grow up, as you go through middle school, high school and beyond the temptation to be someone else will be great. You are young at a time when it's great to be young, but it's also an incredibly hard time to be your age. The pressure to be someone or something else comes from so many different directions now, it has to be overwhelming. There will always be that pressure on you to be cooler, smarter, prettier, etc. There will always be people that will make you feel as though you are never good enough.

I want you to remember (and take this letter as proof) that you are good enough. You and I have been friends for a long time now. The age difference is big, and we are not related to each other. There is no one that makes me hang out with you at family functions because "we're family." I am your friend because I think you are an amazing person just as you are. Remember that. You are great just as you are. You are good and kind and extremely generous. You are so sweet and patient with little kids. There are people in your life who choose to be in your life because they recognize that. If someone makes you feel anything less than that, they don't deserve to be in your life. Keep close to those who like you for you--those that see the good in your and love you for who you are for and despite your quirks.

So be yourself, and be true to yourself even when it is hard, and the pressure to change for others feels overwhelming. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, everyone does, but if you are true to yourself the impact of those mistakes will be less harmful to who you are.

Be confident in who you are. Be good to who you are, and continue be the person that so many of us love so much.

Lots of love,

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Away We Went

I have been missing for the past week from the Internet because my boyfriend and I decided to head to Paris and Zurich for a bit. The trip was planned this past summer, and I could hardly believe it as the time grew nearer. We went from saying, "We're going to Paris in six months" to "We're going to Paris tomorrow."

The trip was just fantastic in every possible way. This was my third visit to Paris, and I just fall more and more in love with it with each visit. I will update with lots and lots of pictures later, but now I have to rush around since it's the start of the semester.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Little Girl Lost

I am very happy to announce that I'm going to be contributing to one of my favorite travel blogs over the next few months. My first article "The Shy Girl's Guide to Independent Travel" is up today.

I've been a huge fan of this blog for a while now, and their book occupies a steady place on my bookshelf. I'm so excited to write more for them.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Route 6

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I had a date night at the new Stephen Starr restaurant in Philadelphia called Route 6. The simple Cape Cod theme reminded us of our trip to Martha's vineyard this past summer so we decided to indulge in a little fried seafood and beer.

The appetizer menu and oyster selection was so incredible we opted not to order entrees and instead shared a bunch of appetizers and a selection of oysters. Every dish we got was better than the last.

We tried everything from the fried clam bellies to the chicken fried lobster tails (divine), and sampled the chocolate banana bread pudding for dessert. It was a fantastic meal.

I can't wait to try it again in warmer weather to enjoy the outdoor picnic tables.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Christmas Three Ways

This year I had three different Christmases to attend on the same day. When I consider that last year I spent a good part of Christmas Day on a plane bound for Miami, getting triple the dose of Christmas was exactly what I needed to get into the Christmas spirit.

Each one was so different, from the food to the tree, but all were equally amazing. The day started with my Mom's jewel toned tree, and our traditional "Eggs in a Window" breakfast.

And then off to my grandparents' house for the things that I will forever associate with Christmas--the rapid succession of courses, the collection of nutcrackers, and the glittering white and crystal ornaments on the tree that have been there forever.

And then finally, a late night Christmas with my boyfriend. Our first one together. This one included big glasses of beer, cheese and chocolates.

It was a long day, but a perfect one.