Friday, August 30, 2013

Working For The Weekend

I'm back in Nashville and all aglow after a glorious week at the beach.  It'll be great to get back in the swing of things over the next few days and even better to have my parents visit next weekend.  Hope you have a phenomenal Labor Day and enjoy the links!

Just give me an excuse to make this....

Sounds delicious.

This is on the 'to buy' list

You heard it here first...

Making it!

Can't even wait for this!

So funny.

Now this is dedication....
Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Foodie Files

Today we're tackling lamb breaded with almonds and herbs, accompanied by a tasty Vin Santo sauce.  We made it while visiting Florence's Giglio Cooking School (more on that here) and craved it many times since.  The combination of the savory meat and the mildly sweet sauce is phenomenal.  Although it really wasn't very difficult to prepare, it would make an excellent special occasion meal.  File this one away for may need it!

6-7 lb rack of lamb (about 1/2 lb per person)
4 TBS thyme and parsley
3/4 cup almonds
About 1 1/2 lbs lamb bones
1/2 cup Vin Santo
1/4 cup Carrots
1/4 cup Onions
1 cup Chicken stock
Extra virgin olive oil

First, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.  Cut each cutlet into 3/4 inch pieces, trim and lightly flatten using a meat pounder.  Set aside.

Finely chop herbs and almonds.  Wash the lamb, then toss in the almond and herbs mixture to get it properly coated. 

Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the bones over high heat and add carrots and onions.  Cook until carrots and onions are tender, then drench with Vin Santo.  Add stock, reduce and pass through a sieve.  

Pour the Vin Santo sauce over or near the meat and serve.  Buon Provecho!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

Marchesa, you slay me every time.  This dress is an absolute dream!  Finding accessories to compliment such an ornate gown can be a little tricky (they've got to be lovely in their own right so they don't look out of place but you don't want anything to compete with the collar detail) but this little roundup would look smashing.  The sunglasses and cuff dress the look down (as much as a shimmering goddess gown can be dressed down, at least) so take those or leave 'em if you want but the earrings, shoes and purse make the perfect statement...simple, bold and beautiful.  I'm just enamored with it.  

1. Embellished Silk Chiffon Dress, Marchesa $3,496.50  2. Tortoise Sunglasses, Sosie  3. Siren Gold Plated Earrings, Monica Vinader $595  4. Esteban Gold Plated Cuff, Aurelie Biderman $730  5. Ayla Goat Hair Clutch, Maiyet $2,150  6. Thin Strap Sandals, Zara $99.90
Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Get It Together: Lady Spry

1. Antique Ledger Book, Jayson Home $295  2. Fringed Mohair Throw, Zara Home $189  3. Nantucket Cloche, Home Decorator's Club $79  4. Globe Bronze Pendant, Home Decorator's Club $120  5. Bruno Chair, Serena & Lily $2,500  6. Timber Candles, Z Gallerie $5.95-$17.95  7. Decorative Lady Pillow, Zara Home $49.90
Monday, August 26, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013

Working For The Weekend

The last few weeks have been so crazy...I've bounced back and forth between Jersey, Virginia, Miami, Nashville and of course Italy.  Crazier still, it looks like things won't be slowing down anytime soon.  All this travel has me feeling extremely thankful and weirdly reflective (sometimes there's just nothing to do on an airplane but think).  I have the most vivid memory from not too long ago of feeling like my life was so stagnant and nothing exciting was ever going to happen.  I think if you're honest, you'd say you've fallen into that same trap- the one that says right now is forever.  Maybe you're stuck in that trap now.  But truth be told, right now is a blip!  A vapor!  A tiny piece of a very big puzzle.  I'm far from having accomplished everything I'd like to but I know things are better today than they were yesterday and I bet they'll be better still tomorrow.  Matter of fact, I know they'll be better tomorrow cause I'm heading out to spend the week in Myrtle Beach with Davey and his phenomenal family.  I'll be posting and working from the beach so it's business as usual here next week, I'm just exchanging my desk and pencil skirt for a towel and bathing suit in the best trade ever.  Enjoy the links and have a wonderful weekend!

This is very good.

Want- possibly need- these in gold.

I'm a sucker for custom pencils.

How handy is this!?

Mexican food + Brunch = True love.

Quite helpful.

Well that's neat...

20 somethings- this TED talk is for you!

Some great tips here.
Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Foodie Files

I tried quite a few foods for the first time in Italy, but one of my favorite new discoveries was the dessert we made at Giglio Cooking School in Florence.  As promised, I'm all ready to share that recipe today!  While the idea of pears poached in wine wasn't completely foreign to me, I'd never heard of "zabaione" before dear, sweet Marcella introduced us to it.  Turns out zabaione is sweet, egg and wine based (of all things) and custard-like in nature.  The trickiest part was the length of time the zabaione needed to come to've gotta keep whipping it the whole time so plan for a workout or a partner.  Aside from that, it's actually a very simple recipe that only looks and tastes complicated.  Bonus: it's all kinds of delicious.  

8 pears
1 1/2 oz butter
8 oz sugar
4 cups red wine

For the Zabaione:
5 egg yolks
2 1/2 oz sugar
3 TBS dry Marsala wine
3 TBS dry white wine

Peel the pears, leaving the stems attached, and core the bottom 3/4 of the pear.

Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear so it stands flat.  In a pan large enough to contain the 8 standing pears, pour wine, sugar and butter.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the pears.  

Keep an eye on the pears as they slowly but surely absorb the color and flavor of the wine lovely is that?

Remove pears when saturated and tender but be sure to keep them warm.  Cook the wine sauce to reduce.  

For the zabaione, whisk the yolks with the sugar until foamy and pale.  While whisking, add Marsala and white wine.  Cook the zabaione in a double boiler, always stirring, until your thermometer reads  158F (70C) should make ribbons when lifted.  Pssst- That's our cooking teacher and new friend, Marcella.  She's the best.

Serve pears with wine sauce and zabaione.  It's such a unique dessert and really tasty.  I so hope you get a chance to try it!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

I so don't want to be that annoying friend who won't stop bringing up the same topic over and over but- until the end of this week at least- the topic is Italy and I am that friend.  I just can't help myself!  In an effort to keep the references to a minimum I'll only mention that I picked up a gorgeous bag in Florence that looks nearly identical to the bag below.  It was one of my only real "souvenirs" from the trip but it's quickly become the best every day bag I've ever owned.  I was itching to buy a pair of these sandals before my trip but then decided against it last minute (it just seemed too I really want to be the girl touring the Coliseum in gladiator sandals?).  I may pick up a pair to wear through the beginning of fall, however...with a simple, breezy outfit like today's Mirror, Mirror they look so sharp!

1. Silk Swing Dress, Top Shop $180  2. Caramel Leather Tote, Cuyana $150  3. Gold Tassel Necklace, Bauble Bar $142  4. Rotary Watch, Asos $185.64  5. Holek Gladiator Sandals, Aldo $100
Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Get It Together: Scarlet Fever

1. Herbal Linen Brass Chandelier, Lamps Plus $64.99  2. Ceramic Books, Z Gallerie $159.60 for 8  3. Anatolian Rug, ABC Carpet and Home $8,599  4. Leopard Pillow, Gilt  5. Sequined Cushion Cover, H&M $14.95  6. Striped Knit Throw, Zara Home $99.90  7. Regency Sofa, 1stDibs
Monday, August 19, 2013
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Adventures In Italy: Venice

Venice gave off the strongest movie vibe of any of the cities we visited for two main reasons...1) A city on the water just doesn't feel like it can exist outside of a set and 2) We ran into a few dilemmas there that were script-like in nature.  Turns out navigating Venice is not for the faint of heart.  It goes without saying, however, that it's a phenomenally gorgeous place to in point:

After finding our way to Hotel Pesaro Palace (which was beautiful and in a great location, for the record) we headed out towards the famous Piazza San Marco.  We strolled around for a few minutes and enjoyed the grand architecture, abundance of live music, and the strange feeling of being around so many people without the sound of cars in the background.  We even saw a couple get engaged (and more than likely dominated the background of their's hoping we're out of focus)!  

We walked from the Piazza San Marco to our first official Venetian activity, a night at the opera, and enjoyed a performance of The Barber of Seville in the spellbinding Musica a Palazzo.  The lighting didn't lend itself to pictures, but I snapped this shot just before we left to give you an idea of one of the rooms we were in.

The venue, Barbarigo Minotto Palace, was a treat in and of itself and set the evening apart from any other opera we're likely to experience.  The performers' powerful voices filled the small, intimate rooms of this 15th century palace and it was all but impossible to not feel like a part of the story.  The various acts took place in different rooms of the house and we moved about accordingly, stunned at how each space was somehow more beautiful than the one before it.  

We spent our last full day in Italy exploring off the beaten bath with an Urban Adventures Cicchetti of Venice Tour.  Our guide, Cecelia, was perhaps the most entertaining character we encountered all trip (true story: my Mom is actually somewhat intent on getting her on television).  She showed us the value of wandering even one block away from touristy areas and gave us a really fun taste of local life.  Our tour focused on sampling Cicchetti, the Venetian equivalent of Spanish tapas...small, often bite size dishes that pair oh so nicely with Venetian wine.       

We toured five different Bacari wine bars, each with a different delectable offering, all filled to the brim with people.

There were a couple we couldn't even fit in, though standing in the street came with it's own set of benefits.

Needless to say, a good time was had by all.

We had the great pleasure of taking our tour alongside another traveling family of four, a lovely couple from Chicago and their two young daughters.  Turns out their eldest, Caitlin, is a food blogger!  While she and I exchanged information, Joey attempted to teach her sister a few youngest child strategies, explaining how you can- and I quote- "get away with anything" (which he- true to form- got away with haha).  For detailed notes about every dish we ate and all kinds of other really tasty looking recipes, check out Caitlin's blog, A Ginger's Gourmet Goods.

Not surprisingly, I think I can best compare our trip as a whole to a really phenomenal meal.  Rome was an ideal appetizer- the best imaginable introduction to Italy's storied history and culture, Florence turned out to be the heart of the trip- an unforgettable main course if ever there was one, and Venice was the intensely rich dessert- too much could get to you but the right amount is the perfect ending.  I'll be forever grateful to my parents for taking us on this trip of a lifetime!  In a phrase, Italy was more than- more than I imagined, more than I expected, more than I hoped- it was just more.  To be able to share this experience with the best family in the world was such a gift.  Every day with them is the best kind of adventure...can't wait to tackle our next one together.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Adventures In Italy: Florence

While I'll try my best to keep it in check, I can't promise I won't severely overuse the word "favorite" in this post.  And why is this?  (That one's just for you, Beretta crew) It is because Florence is my favorite.  It just was and it is and I suspect it may always be.  From the moment we got off the train, I knew we'd landed someplace idea that was confirmed on the way to the hotel when I saw the Florence Cathedral.  Even after all the grandeur of Rome, this building blew me away (though again, you can't get a good sense of scale which is a bummer).  

We also found what I'm pretty sure is/was a way to tie up your horse for the day but what I want to believe is a gigantic door knocker.

Our hotel, the NH Porta Rossa was (wait for it) my favorite of all the places we stayed.  Somehow I managed to leave without snapping a single picture, but you can check out their gallery here- the way they combine classic and modern decor is genius.  

We spent our first evening in Florence at Giglio Cooking School with the wonderful and talented Marcella.  Since I come from a family that loves food- we grow it, we talk about it (a lot), we enjoy it- we were all particularly excited to take the class.  Oh, what a night it turned out to be!  Learning from Marcella was delightful.  Her knowledge of food and technique was so impressive, and it was obvious off the bat that she had a wealth of experience as a chef and teacher.  

Marcella provided great direction which made the hands on nature of the class fun instead of intimidating.  We went through every step of the process...if there were almonds to mince, we minced them, when mussels needed cleaning, we cleaned them...none of those pre-chopped bowls of veggies you see on cooking shows.  You left with the feeling that "I could actually make this"- cause you did actually make it!  

One of the most incredible elements of the meal was how fresh all the ingredients were.  The pears were picked that morning, the herbs cut right from her garden as we needed them and the seafood was some of the freshest I've ever enjoyed.

I'm gonna share the recipes we learned in upcoming Foodie Files which I'm so excited about.  You can't believe how delicious they are!

We made a seafood risotto...

...lamb breaded in almonds and herbs (with the most incredible fresh beans)...

...and a tasty dessert I'll feature next week.  You're just gonna have to check back in to see it (pretty tricky of me, huh?).  We spent our second day in Florence touring beautiful Montepulciano through Italy and Wine.  Our expert guide, Giovanni, kept us interested and entertained throughout all four hours in the car (two there, two back) and shared all kinds of great insights into the history of Tuscany and the regional wine trade.  I'm sure the trip should've seemed long, but between Giovanni's tidbits and the lovely scenery it was actually really enjoyable.  

Arriving at our first vineyard was like a dream.  We toured the Boscarelli estate and learned all about the care and harvesting of their vines (all done by hand!) and development and production of their wines.

Next we headed to a glorious wine tasting.  After seeing the artistry of their production, the depth and flavor of their wines came as no surprise. 

I'm hesitant to name a favorite because they were all so delightful, but if you forced my hand I think I'd say the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva.  At the risk of boring you with a bunch of snobby sounding wine language I may or may not be using correctly I will just say this: it tastes really, really delicious.   

If we had turned around and headed straight back to Florence at that point I think it still would've qualified as my favorite activity of our trip, but luckily the day wasn't close to over yet.  Giovanni brought us to Ristorante Fattoria Pulcino for lunch, where we ate some of the tastiest food of our trip and enjoyed- hands down- the most beautiful view of any restaurant we came across.    

Since- as previously discussed- my favorite Design Muse post of all time was our Table for Twelve Tuscan Night, you can imagine how thrilled I was to actually sit down for a meal in the heart of Tuscany.  I know it sounds silly, but when I realized our party was somewhat reminiscent of the real deal it felt like a mini life victory.  

After eating way too much, we jumped back in the car and headed to our second vineyard, Le Bèrne.  Giovanni explained that Le Bèrne was more traditionally Tuscan than Boscarelli, offering wines like the region's famous Vin Santo.   

We so enjoyed the Le Bèrne selections during our wine brother and Dad especially were all but doing cartwheels (from excitement not volume consumed for the record, ha).  Before we left we got another fun treat- a taste of homemade extra virgin olive oil, made from olives grown on the property we just toured.  As someone who uses olive oil in essentially every dish, it was incredible to taste one this fresh!  

We headed back to Florence with so many special memories....what a delightful, perfect day in paradise.  As wonderful as the rest of the trip was, I have to say I was ready to leave Rome and I was ready to leave Venice...they were lovely and fun but we scheduled the exact right amount of time in each.  I was sad, on the other hand, to leave Florence.  There's a magic there and in the surrounding areas I won't soon forget.  Oh, and one last thing!  Best pizza of the trip: La Bussola.  There are no words.