Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Traveler's Lunchbox ran an event last week called Things to Eat Before You Die. You were supposed to pick five items, but I'm a day late and a dollar short and am not going to play by the rules. Here are my ten things to eat before you die in no particular order.

1. A Philadelphia cheesesteak, in Philly or South Jersey, absolutely nowhere else under any circumstances.

2. Foie gras. I don't care if it is outlawed. Arrest me, I'm eating it.

3. Oysters with mignonette sauce.

4. Artisanal gelato in Italy. Especially at La Sorbetteria Castiglione in Bologna.

5. Pizza in Naples.

6. My sticky toffee pudding.

7. Cinghiale in umido (Wild boar stew) in Umbria, in autumn. Joanna and I had the most wonderful lunch EVER in a restaurant in Todi. We arrived around 1:30 p.m. on the recommendation of one of her friends who had lived in Italy. We sat on a beautiful terrace warmed by a fire and a beautiful bottle of wine. My primi was tagliatelle with fresh truffles, which was a revelation for me. It was my first trip with Joanna and one of the best. We shared great food, wine and our life stories. The wild boar was simply out of this world. Every time I smell juniper berries, I think of that day.

8. Full fat French butter studded with flakes of sea salt slathered on a piece of sourdough bread from Lionel Poilane. Or any bread approximating Poilane's. The butter is non-negotiable.

9. My roasted chicken with pan juices.

10. Cheese, wine, bread, pate and sausage bought from a local market and eaten on the side of the road in France.
My sister-in-law Maxine arrived from England yesterday. We’ve been looking forward to seeing her. We’ve got some fun stuff planned – a weekend in Washington, a few days in NYC, a family barbecue, and some friends related stuff. Should be good. Max is a really good egg, always up for a laugh so this should be a very good visit.

I love Chris’ sisters and the rest of the family, who have made me feel at home with them and I know Chris feels the same about my family. He’s great with all of them and they are crazy about him, which makes me feel good.

Summer feels like it is coming to an end. It’s been raining for what feels like days and we’ll be getting the tail end of Ernesto, who will bring more wetness than anything else.

I’ve been having an awful time getting up in the morning. I have been an early riser my entire life and all of a sudden I cannot drag myself out of bed. I hope it passes. I like getting up and exercising first thing and now I am forced to do it after work, when my energy level is petering out.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I just had lunch with my two sisters Lisa and Gina, and my good friend Lynne. Lynne and I had planned to get together and by coincidence my sisters were in town getting pedicures so we all hooked up. Nice.

We finally have some neighbors next to us. The house has been empty since we moved in and we’d gotten sort of used to the quiet, but it’s good to have some life around and the couple seem extremely nice. They’re young-ish (who isn’t?) and about to get married. This is their first house so they seem very enthusiastic.

Looking forwarded to a jam packed social calendar again this weekend. We’ve got a week at the beach coming up with Jo, Tom and John and the five of us are living for hanging out, sunning, and just being really lazy.

Chris’ sister Max arrives next Tuesday for 9 days. We’re really happy she’s coming to see us! We’ve got some stuff planned together, mainly a weekend in D.C., and she’s going to run up to NYC on her own for a few days. Max is brave, has been a bunch of places on her own – China and India as well as Europe, so NYC should be a no-brainer for her.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Our new dog Rooney is a real character. He's huge compared to Henry yet he likes to ball himself up in the tiniest places.

His confidence is building which is nice to see. I'm really happy because he seems to have taken a special shine to me, as he should - I rescued him from Death Row!

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England was great. We had some time alone, which was really nice, but we had a few terrific days with the family, which was special! I really love them all - they've made me feel loved and at home. Like Chris, they're all dead funny and they had a lot of fun "taking the piss" out of my Jersey accent, which flattered me because I knew they woudln't rib me if they didn't like me.

We spent a really good day in Birmingham with Maxine visiting the beautiful art museum which is chockful of Rre-Raphaelite paintings. We had a nice lunch next to a canal with a lovely bottle of Provencal rose to boot. The whole time we were in Birmingham, I couldn't help but think of our great friend Richard Garvey, who we love very much and who hails from there.

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We spent a great day pub crawling in York, where Chris went to university. It was cool and pleasant and the beer was wonderful.

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I was thrilled to get to see Durham Cathedral.

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We spent a drenched day in Newcastle, which was fun. Stayed in the Malmaison, a fab boutique hotel where we luxuriated and slept in...Nice. We also had a great time having some pints, and had a wonderful curry. Thanks to Bev's recommendation, we also had a bacon stotty - a great bacon sandwich. YUM!

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Chris is a railroad nut so we went to the National Railway Museum in York, which is next to York's beautiful Victorian train station so we took a peek in there as well.

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We spent an afternoon at the Beamish Museum, which is a recreation of a Northern English town circa 1900-ish. Great spot.

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We stood on Hadrian's Wall way up in the North of England and were amazed by the Romans who could built in such an inhospitable place, and the Scots, who were the only people who gave the Romans pause! Great day.

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I love sheep! Chris thinks I am nuts. I loved seeing them allover the road in England.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006


1. Do you work hard or do you take the easy way out?

I work hard most of the time because taking the easy way out is really lazy and denotes personal sloppiness. But in all honesty, I can be as lazy as the next gal, and have been known to take the easy way from time to time. I do think that working hard is good for the soul. That year and a half of not working while I lived in Munich really was shitty for my psyche.

2. How's your day going?

Really well. Getting some stuff done and headed to a Phillies game tonight with some people I love very much!

3. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

At least two dozen.

4. Do you consider yourself cool?

Yes, I do, which I told Chris once and his only reply was to break out into audible laughter bordering on guffaws.

5. What's the last song you listened to?
You Really Got Me by the Kinks

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Great weekend here. Friday, my sisters, their children and I spent the day on the beach, which was fun and brought back a lot of memories of our childhood summers spent on Long Beach Island. We were jumping the waves almost the entire time. Lots of laughs.

On Friday night, we went to Sapori in Collingswood with Jen and Jason and had a great time. We click with them and really enjoy their company. Jen and I ahd the good sense to go home after the four of us had drained five bottles of wine, including one utterly amazing wine they’d picked up recently in Napa, but the boys continued on to P.J’s.

Saturday, we went to Lisa and Mike’s to see their new puppy, Bella, an Australian Shepherd, who in addition to being absolutely adorable, is as smart as a whip. Matt, Melissa and Bill came by as well and we had some drinks and some nice food. I made a tomato tart which seemed to go over well.

Sunday, Chris and I went out and bought a real charcoal grill. Chris saw John Fullerton’s grill in action a few weeks ago and has been yearning for one of his very own ever since. We spent the afternoon in our yard reading the papers and enjoying the perfect weather. Bill and Melissa came over and we made some great burgers and corn chowder with some freshly picked corn I’d picked up at the Collingswood Farmer’s Market. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe and as usual, the final result was fantastic and full of flavor. It also called for fingerling potatoes and a poblano pepper among other things. It was fairly easy and as I said, totally scrumptious. Thanks Martha. I don’t care if you were a convicted felon. I love you.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Waking up to the grim news of a major terror plot uncovered in the UK was really unsettling to put it lightly. I'm glad to be back. Not that our flight from Manchester to Philly would have been threatened, but my nerves would have been completely twisted. I have just finally gotten over my terror of flying. It's taken years but I can now get on a plane and not be a wreck.

The pork vindaloo was fabulous. I used three or four recipes and played with them - the end result was quite good!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Some pictures of Ireland follow. We had a nice time reconnecting with old friends and celebrating their marriage. Lisa and Steve are lovely, kind people who have been Chris’ friends for years and have been very nice to me since I met them.

It’s nice to have friends for all seasons of your life, people who are in your daily life like Joanna and Melissa, and people at a distance who mean the world to you such as Jen and Lise. I try to be a loyal, non judgmental, understanding friend and appreciate when that is reciprocated.

It was great to see those folks. I wish we could see our other European friends more often too. We missed another friend’s wedding and in retrospect I suppose we should have tried to make it, but it was in conflict with other long standing plans so in the end, we had to skip it. We thought about them all day and really wished them the very best, but I think he was hurt, which is upsetting to me, because I have liked him a lot since I met him, and have felt closer than ever to him since my mom died because of his very real sensitivity towards me. I’m not the sort of person who would ever deliberately hurt a friend. It’s just not in me. It’s hard to be so far from people that you love. I felt it when I lived it Munich and I feel it now. I still think about those folks every day of my life. They were all wonderful to me, and to Chris and I love them.

P.S. Started marinating pork tenderloin for vindaloo tonight. Will report back tomorrow. Also, have some nice pics of England.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Life is good when you are drinking Guinness in Ireland

A Town loaded with pubs.... you have got to love it!

Another Pub

Another Pub

Yet Another pub

Day after in the pub

Dave, Mick and Ananya, Mick's gorgeous wife

Lisa and Steve's wedding cake - cute!

Chris and Brian