Tag Archives: memories

the more they change, the more they stay the same: salted dark chocolate mousse with vanilla cream

salted dark chocolate mousse with vanilla scented cream

At times it feels like I just left New York; though it was three years ago (and nearly exactly to the day), The City still holds court as the single place I’ve rested my head for the most nights outside of my childhood hometown on Cape Cod. Just writing that feels odd; for as much time as I spent there, since I packed up our West Village townhouse that sweaty July back in 2011, so much has changed.

salted dark chocolate mousse chopped chocolate

There has been a marriage, a new dog, two new cats, a few far reaching vacations, three rather large geographical moves which also spurred career changes, and ultimately times of great self reflection and growth.  Given that we had a professional moving company hired to bubble wrap and duct tape every last speck of our tangible possessions and make them magically reappear (hopefully unbroken) halfway across the country, I left in what felt like a hurry; there was none of the usual ‘packing process’ per say, other than putting some Colorado appropriate clothing into a suitcase and waiting for the twenty-one-footer to show up with her crew.

salted dark chocolate mousse cream beaters

My apartment remained decorated and fully put together until the day I left, lending a sense of ‘is this really even happening?‘ right up till the eleventh hour. We were lucky enough to manage to finagle a week spent on that dizzyingly busy island onto the end of our recent trip, and even luckier still to have two friends offer up their gorgeous apartment in SoHo – the same friends whose wedding we had toasted just a couple of weeks earlier (the little lucky duckies were still honeymooning in Southeast Asia!). I am so thankful for their generosity, as there is no better way to visit somewhere you used to live than by staying in an actual home.  Being in a hotel would have made me feel like a stranger; a peeping tom creeping around trying to catch glimpses of scenery I wasn’t meant to enjoy. Having called the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, Gramercy, Greenwich Village, and the far West Village all home at one point or another in the six years we spent there, staying in SoHo was a treat, and the moment touched down I was eager to get out and explore.

salted dark chocolate mousse custard

I’m not sure this it is even possible, but Manhattan felt even buzzier, crazier, and more alive than I remembered. Even though the mercury was busting way up into the high 90s the day we arrived (and the humidity had my hair doing it’s best Medusa imitation – not my best look), the streets were absolutely mobbed, and that same frenetic energy came flooding back in a surge of sweaty excitement. With time, there is a certain way that you learn to navigate the busy streets, and there is a definite art of maintaining that familiar bob-weave-stop-start pace while simultaneously holding three shopping bags and a full iced coffee while sending a text and managing not to be struck by a yellow cab at a crosswalk or an errant bag of Thai noodles waving perilously in the wind off of a bike messenger’s handle bar. My chest swelled with pride and there was a noticeable pep in my step with the realization that I still ‘had it,’ and it felt so good to slide into the backseat of an Uber (because who takes cabs anymore?) and rattle off the cross streets of a restaurant without even consulting the Google.

New York has not entirely removed herself from me.

{but wait! there’s more…}

meet me in muskoka + a mushroom, cheddar, and leek pie, lake style

mushroom tart

If you follow me on Instagram you may have already seen various points of the mileage I mentioned yesterday; to be quite honest, I was actually surprised at how little pictures I actually took during our travels, and that goes for most of our adventures as of late.


{captain + first mate}

I’ve been really bad about carting my DSLR on vacations with me lately (partly due to the fact that I desperately need a new telephoto lens – which obviously doesn’t come on the cheap – and I’ve been sticking my head in the sand and pretending my old one works just fine….it doesn’t), and it’s too easy to fall into the habit of snippity snapping away with ye old iPhone.


I yammered on enough yesterday about how wonderful island living is up in Muskoka, but it would be remiss of me not to mention this mushroom pie – even though I’ve got but one photograph as evidence of it’s brief existence.

{but wait! there’s more…}

australia 2012, part 3: melbourne – st. kilda & the cbd

melbourne - st kilda & cbd

Well, it’s been a year (and a month!) since we actually took this trip and I snapped these pictures long ago with full intentions of coming home and giving you some long winded recap of every thing I ate, place I went to, and international incident I caused…..

But, like I said…it’s been a year. It’s old news! In the interest of cleaning out my ‘Post Drafts’ box (and therefore also absolving myself of the guilt I feel when I see all of my half-mused musings), I’ll spare you the gory (read: awesome) nitty-gritty of the last week of our trip to the Southern Hemisphere and tell you this:

If you make it to Australia, you absolutely must visit Melbourne. If you are a fan of the charm of European cities, the buzz of New York, the laissez faire nature of San Francisco, and enjoy having fun in general, then you will adore Melbourne. Skinny little laneways, crawling bougainvillea and ivy, smells of various dishes wafting through the streets, the beach, and a mish/mash of cultures all colliding in one place…..Melbourne is a heavenly cacophony for the senses. The people are ultra laid back and love nothing more than to go out to eat really good food, drink pints, and be generally very merry; they crowd the cafes to laugh over extra-long suppers, and no one minds if a little wine spills on the cobbled sidewalks. And the ASIAN FOOD! Due to Australia’s somewhat close proximity to Southeast Asia, the influences in local cuisine are clear cut.  I had the best Vietnamese food I’ve ever had, and it’s everywhere — pho for days, I tell you. Asian-fusion is big there, and they do it in a way that makes every “Asian-fusion” place in the States I’ve ever been to feel on par with Panda Express.   Get thee to Chin Chin and order thee the sweet and sticky pork and a lemongrass cocktail, then kick your heels up with the pretty people at Go Go bar (downstairs) late night.  And the SEAFOOD….prawns, whole fish, crabs the size of your head – you name it, I ate it. With unabashed glee. I’ve noted the names of a few more of our favorite places in links below, but otherwise, I bestow to you, a quick and dirty photographic journey of one of my favorite cities to date.  Oh…and before you head home, head to Aesop to stock up on their amazing skin care products – surely you’ve checked a bag for this trip…be a rebel and buy something over 3oz!



second to last night, dinner at half moon

{maybe the only (blurry!) pic we have together in 14 whole days!}

gorgeous ivy covered church in st. kilda

{gorgeous ivy, gorgeous days}

stokehouse - zucchini and chickpea salad

{zucchini and chickpea salad with hazelnuts and mint}

stokehouse - delicious mussels

{excellent mussels at the stokehouse cafe}

taking a spin around town

{taking a city spin on two wheels}

breaks of sunshine

{bustling city center}

bougainvillea lining all the streets

{love: bougainvillea lining all the neighborhood streets}

spicy szechuan chicken (with chilis!)

{spicy szechwan chicken and chilis}

{but wait! there’s more…}

australia 2012, part 2: mornington peninsula

australia 2012 - mornington peninsula

Continuing on with that ‘better late than never theme…..’ (Ahem.)

We were really disappointed we didn’t have more time to spend in Sydney, but I was also overcome with excitement to discover a completely new part of the country I was already so taken by.  I had naively originally expected that we would just hop into a rental car and drive South down the coastline on a leisurely drive, but after discovering that the trip from Sydney to Melbourne would log twelve to fifteen hours  in the car (and all while driving on the other side of the road!), that idea was quickly scrapped, and we made our way to the airport for a much more palatable hour-and-thirty-minute flight.  After a small misunderstanding with our cab driver (which resulted at being dropped off at some random [wrong!] terminal and some subsequent whining and begging to allow our bags to be checked with barely twenty minutes till takeoff), we were off.

Our first order of business upon arrival was securing our rental car, and driving even further down the coast, out of Melbourne, down to an area called the Mornington Peninsula.  We were absolutely ravenous by the time we were arrived, but we pushed half-way through the three-hour long trip in search of a little town called Springvale where we had heard you could find the best bowl of Pho you’d ever eat in your life.  After a few a slew of U-turns, we finally flung open the door to Pho Hung Vuong Saigon, and sat down to what turned out to be one of the best meals in my thirty years on planet Earth: perfectly spiced clear beef broth, nearly see-through strips of thinly sliced beef shin and tendon, and piles of fresh cilantro, bean thread noodles, and chili peppers on the side.  It was the best kind of comfort food, and chased away any remaining remnants of jet lag that had plagued our early wakeup that morning.   We sucked our bowls down in record time and hit the road again, cranky no longer, towards Uncle Norman and Aunt Miyoko’s house nestled deep down in the peninsula.

As we traversed further out of the city and into the countryside, the scenery turned lush and green, and caution signs for the odd jumping kangaroo or clumsy wombat dotted the roadsides with increasing frequency.  The Mornington Peninsula has become a popular country escape for the city dwellers of Melbourne proper, and is well known for it’s many wineries, golf resorts, rocky beaches, and quaint towns.  Norm and Miyoko had generously offered to host us at their lovely home for three nights, and from the very moment we arrived we immediately felt at ease.  I am very lucky in that I am married to man whose interesting heritage (half Kiwi [New Zealand], half British) lends itself to having wonderful friends and relatives all over the world, and, as a weary traveler, encountering familiar and friendly faces on the other side of the globe makes the entire experience that much more special.  As soon as we were settled, Norm pulled out his impressive collection of sake glasses (it is a tradition in their house for each guest to select their own) and Miyoko began preparing us an appetizer of traditional Japanese tempura with fresh local fish and plump green peas.  We settled in to their backyard, surrounded by the sounds of local birds and the scent of their garden flowers, kicked off our shoes, and relaxed.

We spent the next three days exploring the peninsula and taking in all that the gorgeous area had to offer.  Norm booked us in for massages at the natural hot springs that he runs year round, and we were totally spoiled – it was the absolute best massage I have ever had, and after being reduced to a jelly-like state I slinked into  the hot mineral-rich waters of one of the thermal pools, and floated on my back till my hands and feet were pruned.  We dined outside on invigorating ‘spa food’ – healthy fresh pressed juices and delicious cool and crisp salads – and toured the grounds extensively, trying out something called a ‘Turkish Bath” and even braving a couple of the chilly plunge pools. (For the record, I was much happier lazing in the warmth than sadistically dunking in the cold.)  The weather was unbeatable – warm, sunny, and dry – and we capped off a fantastically relaxing day with supper at a local Thai restaurant, sampling a green curry, delicious phat si lo (aka pad see ew, a rice noodle dish), and, my favorite, a whole fried local fish with tamarind sauce, enjoyed straight off the bone.

Our next days were spent cruising down the coast line and stopping in to explore the beach towns of Sorrento and Portsea, both of which were emphatically charming and surprising.  We had both left Manly expecting that the ‘beach’ portion of our vacation was over (the forecast in Mornington was not exactly working in our favor), but the sun struggled to get it’s head out up and over the clouds, and we were afforded bright blue skies and (mostly) sunny afternoons for our entire stay.  Our favorite beach was located in Sorrento, with a craggy and rough coastline punctuated by enormous rocks, and gorgeous seaweed covered flats that made for an impressive view while rounding up over a crest and dropping down onto the beach.  We strolled through the center of town and shopped at the boutiques, taking breaks for perfectly brewed cappuccinos and scoops of fresh strawberry ice cream which were immediately followed with long naps on our outstretched towels, and some hard work on our Aussie tans.

Our final afternoon was spent touring the countryside, stopping in for tastings at two of Miyoko’s favorite wineries, and enjoying a long and late lunch of seared duck, curried mussels, and meltingly rare salmon filets.  We swung by an organic market and picked up a selection of locally made (and very stinky!) cheeses to enjoy with that evening’s planned meal of grilled lamb chops, and indulged in a long nap and an old movie in bed before supper.  Norm was an expert on the grill and seared the chops till just their very middles had twinges of scarlet, and after eating entirely too much (and sharing a few bottles of red wine), we participated in what I can only describe as a horribly sorry (but very enthusiastic!) karaoke session.  (Let’s just say that my rendition of the B-52’s “Love Shack” was causing both of their poor cats to yowl uncontrollably!).  An A+ for effort was given to all.

Mornington is beautiful – and unexpectedly so, actually.  We had read that it was a haven for tired city-dwellers and knew it would be relaxing and ‘pretty’, but the plushness of the landscape, the sharp aquamarine hue of the ocean, and the rolling and unadulterated lush green hills that blanket the region literally took our breath away.  We experienced all of this beauty in such a comfortable setting, and were so grateful to have such wonderful, kind, and caring hosts to have made our experiences there truly unique.  I felt genuinely rested when we packed up our car (and apologized to said kitties for my utter lack of any vocal talents), and we sadly said our goodbyes.  We rolled back up the coastline (and had a few panicked moments forgetting we were meant to keep our vehicle firmly planted in the left lane) towards Melbourne, and off towards the last stretch of our adventure – five days spent in St. Kilda, a funky enclave of the sprawling city, and five more glorious chances to discover even more about this fantastically enigmatic country.

an afternoon swim

{sorrento, in front of the beach}

deep blue waters

{waves + tidepools}

{but wait! there’s more…and lots of pictures, too!}

australia 2012, part 1: manly beach + sydney

australia 2012 - manly beach and sidney

So it’s May (of 2013!)….and way back in January I posted a few snapshots of the two-week trip we took to Australia in December (of 2012!), and promised to have some ‘real’ pictures and perspective of fourteen days traipsing around in the Southern Hemisphere up on le blog in short order.  Naturally, I lost track of time (read: procrastinated combing through the over 1200 pictures taking up real estate on my memory card), and the looming task of digging through the monstrous digital photo roll that encompassed our totally rad days “Down Under” got the best of me.  I don’t know how it is that it took me five whole months, but it was actually hugely entertaining to spend a cloudy and overcast day here scrolling through shots of cerulean blue seas and remembering *exactly why* I wore stretchy leggings for the plane ride home after recalling the obscene amount of delicious food I managed to consume in fourteen days.

But I’ll make myself feel better by living out that old adage – better late than never.  Australia.  In short: Australia is, to date, the most enigmatic place I’ve ever visited – and I barely, barely scratched the surface while there.  Imagine if someone told you they were coming to visit the United States for fourteen days; obviously, they would barely even get a taste of what this country is all about.  They’d see a couple of big cities (probably New York, or LA), spend lots of time flying/driving/training/schlepping, and in the end leave with an idea of what went on in the big old U.S.of A….but there’s just no way they would have fully seen it all.  And attempting to ‘do’ Australia in just two short weeks is nearly impossible; it is a massive country.  As perspective: Australia encompasses nearly 3 million square miles of land, which is just slightly smaller than the US’s 3.7 million square mile share.  By comparison, however, Australia only has 22 million people living there – just 7% of the 314 million we have living on US soil.  A good bit of Australia – the world’s smallest continent, but her 6th largest country – is uninhabitable.  Harsh desert land covers 18% of that square milage, located mostly in the center of the country; so much so that 80% of Aussies live within 100km (62 miles!) of the coastline.  The only country that is also a continent, it is a host to incredibly varied terrain: along with those blisteringly hot deserts come craggy and beautiful beaches, stunning ancient rock formations, bustling metropolitan centers, and snow capped mountains.  But enough of the geeky stats.  Clearly, I was not going travel a land mass nearly the size of America in two weeks, and having learned from some past experiences  that trying to cram ALLTHETHINGS into what really isn’t that much time is utterly exhausting, we decided to focus our efforts on seeing four destinations: Manly Beach, Sydney, the Mornington Peninsula, and, finally, Melbourne.

{but wait! there’s more….and pictures!}