The wisteria blooms have arrived in all of their showy, fragrant glory. Did you know Marco Polo carried wisteria seeds from China in the 13th century? Or that wisteria is a member of the pea family? A wisteria vine grows wildly in our backyard and as I was sitting outside the other evening, I was reminded of wisteria covered buildings of the flea market in Paris.
One afternoon we ventured to Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen Market — the biggest flea market in the world. We followed these ever so helpful instructions on how to get there. The market is only open on Saturdays from 9am to 6pm, Sundays from 10am to 6pm and Mondays from 11am to 5pm. The flea market is sprawling and we walked from market to market rifling through old postcards, admiring artwork and ogling vintage designer luggage. Shopkeepers sat outside enjoying freshly shucked oysters and sipping rosé. We finished shopping, then set out to find our own glass of rosé. We walked to the nearby ma cocotte for lunch with the requisite glass of pink wine.
And, in case you’re interested, tips for treasure hunting here and here.
Just getting settled back into life at home after a week Madagascar. The trip included a layover in Charles De Gaulle and, of course, the requisite croissant. Now, back to a few more posts from my last trip to Paris.
Lucky for me, the New York Times’ updated 36 Hours in Hanoi was published the week before I was in Vietnam. I leaned heavily on this as a source of dining recommendations and was not disappointed.
Dinner at State-Run Food Shop No. 37 was by far my best meal in Vietnam. There was sauteed morning glory and pumpkin with garlic and all manner of goodness.
Dinner was followed by drinks at Tadioto which has a moody, cool vibe with oversized modern art paintings and dark walls. Mango cocktails were delicious.
My final recommendation is lychees — from a street vendor, on the breakfast buffet or in a cocktail. Eat the lychees. All of the lychees.
Just before Christmas I popped down to Honduras for a few days and then made a return visit last week. I was there for about a week and the trip was a lovely respite from winter. There are few things to know when visiting Honduras:
First, the takeoff and landing. Tegucigalpa is situated in the mountains and thus the pilot must do a bit of maneuvering to get the plane landed safely on the runway. I am not an uneasy passenger, but will admit that the descent is quite alarming — especially as the jet nearly skims roof tops and light poles just before landing on one of the shortest commercial runways in the world. As far as airports are concerned, TGU holds several impressive superlatives including “most dangerous” and “most thrilling” in the world. Nervous flyers, be forewarned.
Second, I ate my weight in anafre. Should you find yourself in Honduras, I suggest that you do the same. Anafre is a molten bowl of beans and cheese served in a fancy clay pot that holds hot coals — sort of like Honduran fondue. This is a traditional appetizer that is universally available even if not listed on a restaurant’s menu and I took it upon myself to try the anafre at nearly every restaurant I visited. This one was particularly nice.
Third, if you are looking for a hotel in Tegucigalpa, try the Honduras Maya hotel. The views are gorgeous, the ceviche is delicious and the beds are cozy.
Truth be told, I am not much for mixed drinks. There are, of course, exceptions. For instance, when Ryan and I travel, we scout out the nicest hotel around, then dress up and casually swing by for a sunset cocktail.
It is my personal belief that if you are going to spend $16 and 1,000 calories on a beverage, it should be sipped in one hell of a location. And by location, I mean both the venue and the view. Do not compromise on either. Additionally, the beverage should represent all that is well and good about the location in which you are sipping. Typically, 5 star resorts have the haute version of local cocktails and the presentation alone is often worth the splurge. In this case, a prickly pear margarita nestled between red rock faces in Sedona at the Enchantment Resort.
The experience always feels fancy, but without the pressure (or price) of dinner. Plus, it gives one the excuse to poke around and see, hypothetically speaking, just how nice the pool is. Once the sun has fallen below the horizon, be sure to have a dinner reservation off property at a place you’ve been looking forward to. Then, transition out of your foray into thousand-dollar-a-night luxury by moonrise.
We avoided the Valentine’s hype yesterday and stayed in. It was a treat in and of itself for both of us to be at home. We attempted to make a heart shaped pizza as a nod to the holiday and while we received an A for effort, the end product was lopsided and quite sad looking. Fortunately, it tasted delicious, especially alongside a Napa cab. Cheers to the long weekend!
In case you are looking for a little reading with your morning cup of coffee:
– On running and release.
– Have you tried co-washing?
– Wise words from Amy Poehler, as well as her lessons on confidence.
– And on that note, this book is at the top of my reading list. Have you read it? What did you think?
– Our Valentine’s dinner: this and a bottle of red wine (a 2009 cab from here)
– Speaking of wine and pizza pairing, this.
– If only I were in LA this weekend…
– And, in case you didn’t get enough chocolate this weekend.
When in Antananarivo (or Tana as everyone calls it), here’s what you do: first, you spend the afternoon at the Marché de la Digue and second you go to La Varangue for dinner. It’s that simple.
Any cab will know how to get you to the Marché de la Digue — this market is sprawling and situated just a couple kilometers from the airport. The only skill involved is in selecting which pint-sized vintage cab you’d like to be transported in (keep in mind that vintage charm is inversely correlated with the shocks and overall vehicular stability) and then acting tough while pre-negotiating the fare. A word to the wise: negotiate the cab driver’s waiting time into the fare so that you don’t find yourself searching for a cab back to the hotel once you finish shopping and are loaded down with 14 baskets, 7 embroidered table clothes, 3 paintings and an over-sized hand-woven light fixture. Also, ask your hotel to make a recommendation about how much your fare should be.
Now that the souvenir shopping is done, it’s time to eat. Hopefully you’ve made a reservation and now you are on your way to La Varangue. Prepare yourself: this is going to be a slightly dislocating experience. You’ve just spent the day in a buzzing African capital city and now you are about to be transported to a serene, decidedly French, whimsically curated dining experience. The restaurant is on a hill and you are going to feel miles (or kilometers, I suppose) away from your hectic market experience. Try the melting chocolate orb dessert. You won’t be dissapointed (this coming from a girl that rarely likes chocolate anything).
We are back from an amazing weekend in New York City. The purpose of the visit was to run the New York City Marathon, but we also managed to squeeze in some of our favorite NYC activities. We visited MoMA (for free) on Friday night, enjoyed a great Thai dinner, sipped lots of coffee, saw a show (with James Earl Jones!) and had a delicious pre-race (gluten free) pasta dinner. We stayed at Gild Hotel which was a total treat and made for an easy walk to catch the ferry to Staten Island for the marathon start. Sunday night we traded marathon war stories over pints of pumpkin cider and craft beers. All around, it was a really, really good weekend.
Ryan walked into my office unannounced yesterday afternoon with flowers and a bottle of champagne in hand to deliver some really, really good news. When I looked at the bottle, I was a bit surprised by his selection – Veuve Cliquot rosé, not the traditional yellow label.
I guess it is the summer of rosé — a trend that I am fully on board with. Just in case you are looking for a bottle of wine for the long weekend, here are my three favorite [easy to find] rosés this summer:
Aimé Roquesante Rosé
This wine is my #1 pick. It’s a light, acidic and refreshing Provençal rosé. This wine is a GSM blend (Grenache, syrah, mourvèdre) and it is the prettiest color — a pale pinky orange.
[ Available at Whole Foods, $14 ]
Charles & Charles Rosé
This wine holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first rosé I ever found that I really enjoyed. It received 90 points from Wine Spectator and is 100% Syrah. The bottle has a screw top making it the perfect choice for a picnic or evening at the beach. The tasting notes describe the wine with words like watermelon, grass and wet stones – what could possibly be more appropriate for summer?
[ Available at Total Wine, $13 ]
Veuve Cliquot Rosé
This is the most expensive pick, but if a celebration is in order I can’t imagine better summer bubbles.
[ Available at Total Wine, $59 ]
In case you’re interested, further reading on rosé from the Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon Appétit and Food & Wine.
Ryan has been fixated on the idea of visiting Chicago for five years and I’m happy to report that our initial impressions of the city are living up to his expectations. So far we have sipped on handcrafted whisky cocktails at a speakeasy, eaten our weight in queso fundido and spent time with dear friends who moved here from Baltimore.
Next up: The Chicago Marathon!