Monday, August 5, 2013

Off-Registry Wedding Gifts

Close friends, amateur body sculptors, and DC power couple Martine and Ethan wrapped Paris up in bow last week, hosting us in the City of Lights as an early best wedding gift.  

It’s hard to thank them in words, so I’ll defer to an array of close-ups, drunk shots, compromising poses and food porn to do the job.  To Martine and Ethan - Viva Les Schroumpfts!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sos Family Visit in Pictures and Words...

True to form with families, this post is a little late, a little awkward, and not nearly reflective of how much my family means to me.  Nonetheless, they are legally bound to me.  Love you guys...

Desserts… E+Jim… Vin… Sis+me…
 Brunch… Jim+me… Erin loves sheep… Family…
 Hand & Foot… Magritte… Chocolate…
Mom+E…Dessert x1…. Dessert x2
Miss you, Xoxo

Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July, Brussels Style

There were no BBQs, no fireworks, no death-defying sparklers. But there was Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, veggie chilli, and a few brews on the balcony. We even had a chat about Egypt's revolution; it is Independence Day, after all. 

Happy 4th of July, to our fellow Yanks.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Running Log: Saturday in the Astounding Beauty of Venice

It’s an ironic, but unsurprising phenomenon of the human experience that it’s so difficult to have a good time when we’re trying to.  Joy is hard to schedule, and often comes at the least likely of times and places.  Beauty hides in plain sight.  And awe dissolves through our fingers the very moment we try to examine it.  Never is a good time more elusive than on a well-planned vacation.

These realities all function as a testament to the effortless beauty contained in Venice.  Rarely have I floated through a city with such ease and obvious puppy love. 

My running log of one Saturday in Venice:
11:00AM – Early start to the day, after breakfast and a quick conversation with E about the meaning of everything.
11:20AM – First gelato of the day for Lady E, 5th of the trip (trip has been 36 hours at this point).

12:00PM – Arrive at Piazza San Marco, probably the city’s best known landmark, and a place of such breath-taking grandiosity that I jot down:  “Piazza S. Marco – could cry.”
...Facing the impossibility of capturing the scale in words, 19th Century writer Ruskin starts by describing the spires on the Basilica San Marco: "The crests of the arches break into a marble foam and toss themselves into the blue sky in flashes and wreaths of sculpted spray." iron sculpture depicting a lion, man + woman, and pile of clothing.  And not far, live pigeons perch on a lamppost blurring reality as they appear motionless and part of the structure.

2:15PM – wandering through random alleys we stumble upon a nondescript art exhibit, seemingly modest, but containing 3 floors of works, including a floor devoted to Baryshnikov’s dancers. 

The artist abandoned his attempts to capture dancers, before his described epiphany:

“For two decades I used a conventional 35mm camera and practiced traditional landscapes, portraits and travel shots in primarily black and white. I made a point of rejecting obvious opportunities to photograph dance, thinking the results were boring and unnecessary. Then…I discovered that abandoning the crystalline image in favor of blurred edges and amorphous figures approximates the excitement of dance in performances.

…So it was possible.”

3:30PM – Continuing the art theme, we bought this postcard of a cat dressed as a gondolier. 
4:00PM - Highlight of the trip and literally the only thing in 4 months that’s inspired me to give money to street performers: 3 kids performed a mock sword fight, flawlessly portraying actual medieval swordplay. 

Suspension of disbelief suffered significantly when the third performer wandered onto the battlefield with an ice cream cone...
7:45PM - We end Saturday the way we did the Friday before it, and the Sunday after that: on the docks of San Marco with Prosecco and Pizza. 
...A violinist’s version of 'Wild Horses' wafted like smoke over the piers.  People comfortably filled in the dock around us and a nearby restaurant plaza.  And full moons bathed is white light.  
A dog took to meeting his friend by jumping across the narrow waterway separating the dock and mainland.  He came up like 3 ft. short and took a swan dive into the water.  I chided him taking a page from Will Ferrell

11:30PM - The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Midnight in Paris

Pics of Paris, food, our friends - the recently engaged Ben and Patrice - and the effects of wine and Beauty on humans:

Benny and Patty...
Rodin, the Eiffel T and pink...

 Picnics make everyone smile and dance and sing....

Food = Love
Parting shots...

 ...And a special bonus: Ben looking more like Louis C.K. than Louis C.K....

Xoxo, Paris & B+P


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Carrot Ginger Soup

A few weeks ago, there was a wicked stomach bug going around Brussels, a knock-you-flat-on-your-back-and-make-you-cry-for-your-mama kinda bug. When it came roaring my way, eating, working, reading, or doing anything remotely productive was totally out of the question. All I could really do was lay around and moan.

Once it had run its course, my appetite came back with a vengeance, and I craved something healthy, delicious, and familiar. Enter my Mom's carrot ginger soup. She shared this recipe with me years ago when I first started to get into cooking because it was fool proof. And it is!  Though it is incredibly easy, the flavor has terrific depth.

Try it for yourself! Its great with a salad, brie and pear grilled cheese, or asparagus, as pictured.

Mom's Carrot Ginger Soup

 1.5 lbs of carrots (peeled and chopped)
1.5 lbs of parsnips (peeled and quartered)
3 in piece of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
5 tbs of unsalted butter
3 tbs of dark brown sugar
8 c. chicken-free broth
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne
Greek yogurt and chives for garnish

Preheat oven* to 350. Combine veggies in roasting pan, dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Add two cups of broth and put it in the oven for 2 hours. Combine mixture in a soup pot and add remaining 6 cups of broth. Add salt and cayenne and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Puree in the blender and serve.

*Since we don't have an oven in Brussels, I roast everything on the stove and it works beautifully.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Life's Primal and Most Innocent Delights

After a long, cold, gray winter here in Brussels, spring has finally sprung! Matt and I have been fortunate enough to have some of our favorite people accompanying the tulips and the irises, which can only mean one thing: lots and lots of waffles.

I love sharing our sweet little city with the people we care about. Though it lacks some of the Parisian glamor and the buzz of London, it is a terrific place for foodies to visit. I'm always amazed to find that some of the most delicious delicacies are mobile.

The best waffles in the city are sold out the back of vans (a fun fact that no one ever wants to believe). The hot dog vendors in our neighborhood also sell escargot. Patrons flock the mussel and oyster stands on the weekends that will happily serve you a glass (or bottle) of wine with your shellfish. And for our vegetarian friends, the frites are the very best you'll find anywhere ever. The same goes for the chocolate.

However, for two people that love to cook, we spend much of our time hosting at home in the kitchen. Homemade spinach burgers, carrot ginger soup, vegetable curry, BBQ tofu, and roasted tempeh were all noshed on in our humble abode over the course of the last few weeks. We're already dreaming up a menu for when my parents descend on us next Monday.

Julia Child said, "Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal." Throw in a few glasses of wine, and I'd say that's pretty much spot on.

More photos from our weekends with our guests to come!

Monday, April 29, 2013

La Dolce Vita

When I told E I was in love with someone else, she couldn’t have been more supportive.  That’s because she was too.  Worse yet, it was the same person.   


Our strange and exotic relationship with the proprietor of Café Calce in Ravello easily vaults into the top-three of the Amalfi-half of our trip.  We essentially had a torrid affair with him and his pastries for the 4 days we were there—sometimes twice a day ;) – and he always delivered.

A few highlights:

This little pine nut surprise he pulled from his bag of tricks is serendipitously framed by the cloud that enveloped Ravello's center square.  Delicate, awesome.

Crème-filled crawler, unreal texture and contrast.

Until the wind blew it on me and ruined my day.

Erin’s fave – a crème-filled coffee eclair we brought back late-night. 


And a few other master strokes, including my late-night tryst with a chocolate/creme cookie sandwich.

Old man, we love you...

but don't tell them...