Travel Archive

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

paris + a deep, dark salted butter caramel sauce

first cafe creme

And so, we went to Paris for eight days, which is never enough. Eight days is long enough to get you entrenched in rhythms (morning café, long walk through old streets, afternoon pastry, nap and late dinner), long enough to convince you you cannot remember the place you were before, but also long enough for it to seem cruel when you finally have to leave.

red curb

afternoon, montmartre

It’s fun to be an observer, and partial participant, in a foreign country. You get to sit in cafes, unhurried by those needling things like work (though, from the sights of the cafés, this luxury is not limited to tourists) and watch someone else’s world from behind your cafe creme. Except, it is all so much more exciting to you. Everything in France tastes louder: the milk, creamier; the coffee, richer; the chicken, so much more “chickeny” kind of like when Julia Child had her first meal in France, sole meunière (“a morsel of perfection”) and was bowled over by the fact that it tasted so much more like itself. And their butter, oh baby… well, we’ll get to that soon.

jacques bonseargant

rue de tournelles

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

the north fork and its scones

the north fork scone

Right on the heels of getting caught up from our last weekend away we skipped town again this past weekend, this time in celebration of (I was going to say that I hope you’re sitting down for this, but I suspect it is only us who are bowled over by these numbers) our three-year wedding anniversary and our five-year dating anniversary. Whoa.

belovedgreetedbedsidenot having it

I had been angling to go out to the North Fork of Long Island ever since a friend went on and on about what a wonderful place the Table and Inn was. Run by four former restaurant-types, including the fantastic pastry chef, Claudia Fleming, her husband, the everything-else chef, and two former front-of-house managers, the place is cozy and delicious.

In a way, these people are living the dream; away from the frenzy of the New York City food scene, they get to cook the food they want and know the people who supply them with it–mostly from the nearby farms and wineries.

stormyvineyard rainreadyovercast

We got to live the dream, too, so to speak, spending the first afternoon at a near-deserted public beach. (So different from Brighton, you know, New York City’s take on a public beach, I had to giggle.) Saturday, or the day that storms threatened to ruin our weekend, we used the gray day to visit six (6!) wineries and my, my, do I love New York wines. In fact, I find them to be the polar opposite of the current Napa style, so light and bright and delicious, it took restraint to limit our purchases to thirteen bottles of wine. That night, we had a dinner so good at the restaurant, it defies words, though I suspect they’ll slip through in the coming paragraphs and weeks.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

raspberry breakfast bars

raspberry breakfast bars

We had a decadent weekend in the North Carolina mountains, and I never wanted to come home. The air up there is so delicious and clean, I never realized how cautiously I inhale in New York City, not that you can blame me if you’ve ever gotten a curbside whiff on a humid summer day after a long holiday weekend with no trash pickup.

south carolina peacheswaterfall 1mollywe are totally smitten

But up there, everything is a delight. We hiked, we played with the sweetest Schnauzer there ever has been, we ate proper vinegar barbecue, the best peaches in the world (from South Carolina!) and even hit some stores and a craft fair. And oh, how we cooked. Alex and I get a little hog-wild when we see a kitchen bigger than 60-square feet with not one, not two but three large counters and a grill that resides outside. Like, on a giant porch and everything! It took a mighty amount of restraint to not take a tour of the entire smittenkitchen.com archive, but we did make a good dent in just 72 hours, with the kefta kebabs, dimply plum cake, napa salad with buttermilk dressing, pork tenderloin and noodle salad, grilled eggplant with caponata salsa and even the big crumb coffee cake, updated for late summer with a blueberry filling, made a showing.

Actually, it stole the show. I am currently angling an excuse to make it again. Like the fact that it’s Tuesday and I haven’t had lunch yet.

teardrop tomatoesbarbecueah, small townslate cherries

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

prague, vienna and a mixed salad

prague alley

Not to make the understatement of the century or anything, but Prague is stunning with its pastel contrasts, village-under-a-snow globe cityscape and cobblestone sidewalks, not to mention beer so delicious I’m still craving it with breakfast today, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there. We walked from one end to the other twice, ate leaden dumplings and paperweights of smoked pork while accordion players stumbled around us. We failed to hunt down the Golem, or even a chunk of mud from the river for my father, as he requested, but had fun trying. I’m really glad I finally made it there.

trolley linesa hundred wishescemeteryprague vista

So were the other ten million people in the city last week, where the tourism, I’m sorry to say, is near-paralyzing. (We, of course, were not tourists but world citizens. Right.) Sure, we were warned, but we live in New York and understand that any place worth wandering around will be filled with others who had the same bright idea. But this was like Times Square, minus the cozy neighborhoods twenty blocks in any direction, and the small city seems to be struggling under the weight of all of the world’s citizens wanting to take a peek. You know, people like us.

coffeeoutside the bookstorerye breadsp

But Vienna, Vienna my love. Vienna waited for me, just like Billy Joel promised me it would when I had my monstrous crush on him throughout middle (coughhigh) school. I fell instantly in love with its cafe society, late nights, lush park space, walkability and impeccably dressed masses. We’d been warned that there wasn’t a whole lot to “do” in Vienna, that we wouldn’t need more than 48 hours there, but I don’t think these people used their time as I did: imagining our expatriate lives there, and taking late night swings into to sidewalk restaurants for a glass of wine and a slice of cake, with our Westie in tow.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

aruba + a blue cheese iceberg wedge

aruba

If there is one thing that Alex has shown me the light of over the course of our relationship–but fortunately, there are many, including ribs, pickles, bourbon and skiing–it’s the consummate beauty of a vacation that entails absolutely nothing. No water skiing, no scuba diving, no afternoon of shopping, no conga lines: just hours upon hours on the beach, tearing through one book at a time. Can you imagine how awful this must be after months of doing things and being ‘on’ and producing things of value for other people in exchange for earning a living? I’ll tell you, it’s a big adjustment.

arubaarubaarubaaruba

Day one is always a little bewildering; we find ourselves saying “Wow, a whole week?” “Seven DAYS of this?” and “What will we do with ourselves?” a lot. Day two we start settling into the beach life–barefoot, sunscreened, our winter coats looking ridiculous hanging in the room’s closet–and make some dents in our books. By day three, however, we’re pretty used to it all: the bluest–aqua, really–ocean we have ever seen, silky white sand, absurd 3 p.m. cocktails called the Tropicolada and the uncanny ability to take a long post-cocktail nap despite having slept 10 hours the night before, and this is where everything descents into a haze. Without a singular event or laughable attempt at productivity that will serve as a demarcation between the days, we tend to blink twice and its day seven. We wonder how our families are doing. We ponder what plans we have made for the weekend we return.

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