Friday, May 25, 2012

Girls Weekend in NYC

Every spring for the past several years, the women of my family have gathered in NYC for a weekend of food and adventure. At first I went on my own, but as Isabel and Faye have gotten older, they’ve come along also. My cousins Seanna and Rachel both live in the city, and my Aunt Stanis lives just outside of it on Long Island. My mom comes up from Maryland and my sister Lynne from Virginia, bringing along her daughter Megan and often her friend Kathy. Sometimes other cousins join in, and a stray male or two, who are also always welcome. This year, Seanna’s baby Gideon participated for the first time.

With busy teenagers in our lives, we all had a hard time finding a weekend that worked for everyone, so Faye and I went without Isabel. She was away for the weekend attending a young writers’ conference, and since she’ll be spending a month in the city this summer at a Barnard program, she was willing to forgo this trip. I had been to New York with just Isabel a few times before, but never alone with Faye, so it was Faye’s turn for a mother-daughter getaway.

We arrived on Friday afternoon before the others. After settling in, we headed downtown to visit the 9/11 Memorial.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Brunch, Blooms, and Boules: Some Thoughts on Mother's Day

I’ve been a mother now for almost seventeen years. During my first pregnancy with Isabel, I remember feeling as if I was about to jump into an abyss. Looking back after all these years, my feelings were accurate. It has been an abyss, but the most joyous and fulfilling kind. Motherhood is a hotly debated topic these days, and women are quick to judge each other about the kinds of parents they choose to be. All I know is that I’ve made the right choice for me and my family and that I’m grateful to have been able to make that choice.

To celebrate the day, we went out to brunch like we usually do. It was the morning after the prom, so we picked Isabel up at her friend’s house and drove a few miles down the road to Tourterelle. A country inn and French restaurant, Tourterelle fuses classic French cuisine with local products to create a winning combination.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Dark Habit

Last summer my extended family, around sixteen of us, gathered in a beach house in Virginia playing a game. I don’t recall the name of the game, but the way it works is everyone takes a turn answering a question posed anonymously by one of the players. It’s a lot of fun and you tend to learn some surprising things about each other! One of the questions was: If you had to pick two foods to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would they be? I didn’t have to think too hard about this one. Bread and dark chocolate, without a doubt. I already eat them every day, and if I happen not to for some bizarre reason (like being incapacitated by a stomach bug), I sorely miss them.

I consume a few other foods pretty much every day too: salad greens, olive oil, and orange juice come to mind. But I don’t relish them in the same way that I relish bread and dark chocolate. Bread, “the staff of life,” holds no shame. When made from whole grains, my preference, it can be very nutritious. Chocolate is more questionable. In my defense, the chocolate has to be dark, preferably at least 70% cacao. Anything with a hint of milk or less than 60% is simply candy. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is a food, and a magical food at that. Anyone who appreciates dark chocolate knows what I’m talking about (right, ladies?). Lately it’s been touted as healthy, and one of the beautiful things about dark chocolate is that it takes only a small amount to satisfy. The idea of consuming an entire bar in one sitting holds no appeal. But a square or two after a meal is divine.

In France, chocolate is an art form rivaling haute couture, for example these chocolate shoes we saw displayed in a Parisian chocolatier’s window.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Vermont Beer Tasting Project

Toasted caramel, resin, passion fruit…not the words that usually come to mind when I think of beer. They sound more applicable to wine to me. But I happen to be married to a craft brewed beer enthusiast who revels in the virtues of his beverage of choice, not unlike this guy from Beer Geek Nation.

Ok, Chris isn’t quite so effusive when he enjoys a beer. But this spring I thought it was about time for me to expand my appreciation of Vermont craft brews, so I asked Chris to embark on a beer tasting project with me and impart some of his hard-earned knowledge. He willingly agreed. After all, he’s been conducting research since he was introduced to craft brewed beer back in 1988, when his friend David Sousa sent him a mixed twelve pack from the West Coast as a Christmas present. After that, there was no looking back.