Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Montreal Fall

Just when I thought we'd had our international fix for the year, Hubby whisked me off to Canada for a fun and fast weekend in Montreal. We're not used to being in driving distance to Canada, so of course we were happy to take advantage of our (relatively) insane proximity.

The trip was perfectly timed for some excellent leaf peeping along the way. I'll never forget my "first fall" last year - I was totally enchanted by the perfectly golden, coral and flaming orange trees around Cambridge, and I'm pleased to say the fixation has not grown dull. Montreal offered a grand display, and though the day was otherwise dreary, this lovely foliage offered life and vibrance to the city.

It is really a great city and I only wish we had more time to spend there. Because time was precious, our  goal in Montreal was simple: relax and eat tons of poutine. 

We were first introduced to this to-die-for dish during our summer in LA. Braised succulent meat atop delicious french fries and accessorized with cheese - if this is an excuse for a meal, I'm totally game. So for Hubby's birthday, we went to a fantastic spot called Animal - and the name basically tells it all. Those in the WeHo area must check it out. Don't get freaked out by the menu: pigs ears, bone marrow, braised oxtail, etc... the dishes are made to taste delicious and each new order is a true work of art. As you might guess, our hands-down favorite dish was the braised oxtail poutine - drenched in rich gravy and cheddar cheese, this spin on the classic Montreal treat really hit the spot and left us wanting more.

So, four months later, thanks to lots of research and first-hand recommendations, we found our palace of poutine at La Banquise. As our photos will show, this is no delicate dish. Now that we've tried a few varieties, we're dying to make our own version.

Just looking at the pictures makes me full. Hopefully we can follow through this fall/winter - you know I'll share the recipe!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The New Jeans

It is perhaps a testament to how incredibly long it's been since I've purchased new jeans (3+ years? yikes... even longer than I thought!) - however, I was recently so pleased on my latest jeans shopping trip at Nordstrom to find out that in the meantime, jeans have become comfortable! This is great news. Again, sorry if I'm way behind on the times. I love that a little spandex stretch is a given and that skinny styles can almost guarantee no alterations are needed.

My favorite thing about the "new jeans" is all the great iterations - the jewel tones this season are so gorgeous - I snatched up some Paige jeans in "merlot" and I just feel so fall-ish when I wear them. Up next on my list are the velour AGs, which would be so nice going into winter, and of course the Citizens cords in a cute fall color. I feel like it makes all my outfits new again - and that is good because it helps the budget go a little further.
non-blue jeans

Citizens Of Humanity Jeans skinny leg jeans
$198 -

Paige Denim zipper jeans
$179 -

AG Adriano goldschmied
$168 -

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday, Monday

Mondays can be rough - perk up with a cheery iPhone background! Hope you enjoy these little quatrefoils - I think they are quite fun for fall. I bet you've also noticed a new look around here. Helen H. is my grandmother and the source of much creative inspiration for me - as I've mentioned, she is quite the fabulous lady, so I hope you'll see that shining through with each new design. Find all helen h. iPhone backgrounds over here!

Can't wait to tell you about our spontaneous trip to Montreal and share Hubby's recipe for pork chili verde!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Europe Part IV: The finale! Provence, Annecy and our surprise visit to London

After a taste of France in Nice, we were ready for more. We rented ourselves a lovely little Eurocar and headed down the highway over to Provence. It may or may not have taken us two hours plus a visit to a local superstore and have a conversation with a security guard to find the highway, but the important part of the story is that WE MADE IT! Roundabouts and stick shifts, we are not scared of you. Period.

Driving through Provence at sunset was simply magical. The sun was streaming through the vineyards and orchards and I loved each little cobblestone town better than the last. Before we landed at our "home" destination of Les Baux de Provence, we made a little stop in Aix. This darling little university town is charming, historic and bustling. It gave us just the taste of lavender and crowded cafes we had been craving.

Back in the car and onto our weekend home: Les Baux. Little did I realize that Les Baux is built into a mountain, making it a real life cliff side town with sweeping views of the Provincial valleys surrounding it. Gasp. It's true.

The next day we visited St. Remy - a picturesque town to stroll through with a coffee - and much larger Avignon for a quick tour of the city and a gander through the fantastic Papal Palace. On the way home we made our prized stop in Chateauneuf du Pape. Hoping to sample and purchase a special souvenir to bring back home, we meandered down the country road admiring the lovely vineyards and chateaus. To our right, we spotted the most beautiful one yet, so we figured it would be worth a drive up to see if someone was home and giving tours (is this how it works?! eek?). To our delight, we drove up to the sight of what had to be another southern couple from the US - he in croakies, she in Lily Pulitzer, we knew we were in luck. We followed them in and joined a small tour group. Before long we were tasting and buying wine to save for something special, like a 20th anniversary or a future-child's engagement - wow - this was kind of surreal. But equally fun. We have some special pieces in our stash and will open them with fond memories some day.

And that was the night when everything changed. Thanks, Irene.

While we did not have a TV in Les Baux, we had prior to that been noticing increased news reports from home that Hurricane Irene was gaining momentum - and - heading straight for the Massachusetts Bay. We were of course concerned for everyone back home, but also feared for ourselves because our precious flight home was scheduled during the exact window the weathermen had projected for the hurricane to hit. Though we knew a delay was possible, we tried to live in ignorant bliss.

So we strolled around Arles.

But around lunch time, it was clear we were both unfocused and panicked we would get stuck in Europe for weeks if we didn't act immediately (in retrospect, was this really such a crisis?!). We hopped back in our car, drove back to Les Baux and decided to make some calls. Hubby's dad saved the day and booked us a hotel in lovely Annecy (very close to Geneva where we were scheduled to fly from the next day). Lo and behold, on the drive to Annecy, we got that ill-fated auto-text from Expedia: "your flight has been cancelled." A cancellation is one thing, but trying to remedy it abroad, while driving a stick shift, while cell phones cost $8972384/minute was suffice it to say, stressful.

Thankfully Hubby had the foresight to get us close to an airport and book the next available flight back stateside. We enjoyed a lovely evening in Annecy, which turned out to be one of the absolute highlights of the trip.

We then headed up to London - again so we could be near an airport - and planned to see the Royal sights. London was lovely - even though I was wearing beach clothes the entire time (it was 60 and rainy), we still loved seeing everything, most notably the Buckingham Palace souvenir shop where I almost bought 12 place settings of all of the Royal ladies' personal china patterns. Ok, not really (wink wink), but it was truly great to see so many sights I had always heard of but never experienced. I was really hoping for a Duchess sighting, but no such luck.

I think that's the long and, well, long of it. Glad we could (finally) share the fun!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

An elemental love

Last evening my fellow Texas-transplant pal and I headed to a special event at Boston's Longchamp store hosted by one of our favorite bloggers, Erin Gates (elements of style). It was a great night of champagne, appetizers, shopping (ok, at least browsing) and of course meeting the lady behind the blog.

The best story of the night is when the photographer asked us what we did and why we were there.... after a moment's hesitation: "we're home enthusiasts!" Not sure where that came from, but it's totally okay with me.

Well, cheers to home enthusiasm!

And cheers to Erin Gates, Longchamp and InStyle for such a fun night - hope it's the first of many in Boston!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Europe Part III: Barcelona and Nice

Let's get on with our Europe trip already!

Departing Valencia we headed straight to Barcelona. The city was nothing short of amazing from the architectural wonders of Antonio Gaudi, to the beaches, to Las Ramblas and oh-so-much more. What struck me most about this city was our incredible journey inside La Sagrada Familia - the city's famous cathedral which is still under construction, which originally commenced in 1882. No longer can we complain when home renovations take three weeks instead of three days! Continuing with the Gaudi theme, Parque Guell was another sight I'll never forget. Have you ever experienced an escalator on a hiking trail? Yeah, me neither - it was equally weird, mesmerizing and much appreciated at the same time... and I found myself still strangely exhausted upon reaching the peak, even though I had taken full advantage of our modern "trail." It was rewarding to reach the top and bask in the view of the sprawling and crowded city spread out for miles. It was a lovely sight at sunset, only fading into the bright Mediterranean... just waiting for us to come swim the next day.

And swim we did. In Barcelona:

and... flash-forward one train ride... in France:

Behold, the French Riviera. Maybe it is beacuse I am a life-long Grace Kelly enthusiast, but traveling to the French Riviera has always been a dream and something I'd imagined since I learned of a land called Monaco. Not far down the coast, we had our own Riviera experience in Nice. Nice was nice, let me tell you. It was like a gorgeous Pantone color palette for my eyes - everything bright and beachy, while at the same time subdued and natural - my mind was feeding on the colors like candy... if only my stomach had done the same. Instead, we found much more sustainable fare, from the expected pastries and gelatos, to a lovey foie gras dinner at a little mom-and-pop shop where we became like family with the owners after just one dinner.

And this is our highlight story - perhaps of the entire trip. Route du Maim - seemed simple enough to make a little dinner reservation at this well-reviewed locale in Nice, so we did. Had to borrow our English friend's phone number to secure the confirmation, but that is beside the point - we were in. We knew we better be on time for our reservation, but by pure accident we re too early, showing up at about 7:45 for an 8:00 p.m. reservation.... in France. How embarrassing! We tried to play it cool by bypassing the restaurant at first, however, clearly standing out as tourists and finding ourselves in a very.. em.. local looking neighborhood, we decided it would be best to head on over. Outside sat a lady and a man. Both smoking. Both sweating. Both speaking loudly.

"Alo?" they said to us.
"We're here for a dinner reservation at 8."
"You book through Top Table?"
"Yes!" (thank goodness they speak English!)
"Oh, we have cancelled dinner tonight. No reservations."

Our look of confusion and disappointment must have resonated because almost as soon as we started to sulk away, the lady pulled herself into hostess mode and said "I kid, I kid," and brought us right inside. Well, that is another story. Inside were approximately three tables, set for 4-6 each. One young couple was already there, enjoying some yummy olives. We naturally started heading toward an empty spot, but to our surprise, we were escorted right next to the other couple - visiting from Russia, we learned.

No sooner did we sit down than the lady pulled up a chair right in between us couples, whip out a notepad, give us hand-written menus (only two options... hot or cold foie gras). She explained that her husband, the chef, was going to make us our dinner and we should have some wine in the meantime. So we did. We chatted with the Russians, played with the restaurant owner's puppy, Sushi, and finally received massive plates of the local fare. It was quite possibly most delicious and intriguing meal of our lives. Mid-way through dinner, Hubby and the Russian husband joined the chef outside for a smoke, while us ladies stayed inside and talked about plans for travel and babies - "you must make beautiful babies" we were instructed. Noted. I was also told that I reminded the lady of her daughter - we shared a touching heart-to-heart, a hug, and a promise to stay in touch if we returned.

Awwwww. Now. On to Provence, Annecy and London! Coming later this week :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails