Summertime! And the living is easy! And the drinking should be, too. This Trader Joe’s Cheap Wine Pick is one of my favorites, and has been a staple of my summertime tippling for several years.
Wine: Espiral Vinho Verde Region: Portugal Style: Crisp, refreshing white with effervescence Price: $4.49 a bottle
I first discovered Vinho Verde when I lived in New York, and it was one of my favorite wines for a New York summer. Nothing cut through those muggy days like a nice cold glass of vinho verde - super crisp and refreshing, with d just a few bubbles. When I moved back to LA, I was thrilled to find this great (cheap!) Trader Joe’s version for only $3.99! (Though I think the price has gone up this year to $4.49). Vinho verde originates in Portugal, and refers to a region and a style rather than a specific grape. Vinho verde wines are made with very young grapes (hence the nice acidity you will find in most vinho verdes) and have a slight sparkle to them (that wikipedia tells me originally came from malolactic fermentation, but is now usually a result of artificial carbonation.) It’s low in alcohol – the Espiral Vinho Verde is only 9% ABV – so it’s great to drink in hot weather without getting that sticky feeling you can get from too much of the hard stuff, and it’s a nice mixer for some of the lighter summer wine-based aperitifs, like a kir. It’s nice citrusy flavors pair well with a lot of summer food – fish, grilled chicken, tomatoes, pesto, pasta. Eminently quaffable!
Yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Classic. If you ask most people what their favorite cake is, they will answer, “Yellow cake with chocolate frosting.” It’s the cake of our fondest nostalgic imaginings, bringing to mind the best birthdays of childhood.
Not my birthdays, though. I was a child of the 70′s with more imagination than sense, which means my earliest birthday cakes were carrot cakes (of course!) and then, when I was old enough to ask, I’d beg my mother to make a somewhat horrifying concoction of angels food, devils food, chocolate mousse and 7 minute frosting). Now that I am an actual grown up (I can no longer deny this fact due to thenature of 1) my tax return, 2) my grocery list, and 3) my color-coded online family calendar) I have a greater appreciation for classics. Things that never go out of style.ellow cake. Chocolate Frosting.
Last week, my baby turned two. Which means he is hardly my baby anymore. He no longer stays where I put him – instead he is constantly climbing and getting into everything. A few days ago, he went into the kitchen and poured himself a bowl of cereal. With milk. Which was pretty impressive if I ignored the milk all over the table. On the other hand, he is an extraordinarily charming two year old – head of blond curls, little voice that repeats everything, and lots of silliness. I wanted to celebrate his birthday with style, with class – and how better than with the classic – yellow cake with chocolate frosting?
It’s after Memorial day, the Nuni has finished first grade (!) and summer vacation is in full swing around these parts. I am kicking off the summer by breaking my pinky toe and going slowly insane because my children are whining. You?
1. From the archives:
I don’t know about you, but our zucchini plant is growing like crazy. Instead of drowning under a bushel of zucchini come July, pick them while they’re tiny and make these fried zucchini blossoms.
2. Fashion Find:
I bought two pairs of these shoes and they are super cute and super comfortable. Yes, they are made of pleather, and yes, they will probably fall to pieces after about 3 months but for $23, what do you expect? Red shoes!
3. Let’s Get Serious for a Minute
I don’t know if you’ve been following the #YesAllWomen movement, but in the wake of the Isla Vista shooting and the misogynistic hate screed that accompanied it, women are stepping forward to tell their stories. It’s both depressing (so much to be done!) and inspiring (women having a voice!) It’s worth checking out the feed, and if you have something to add, posting.
4. Best of the Blogs:
My friend Rachel Cedar runs a very successful parenting consulting business in New York. In February, she ran a great series with a bunch of talented writers on playing with your kids, called 28 Days of Play. With the long days of summer vacation looming, the series is worth revisiting. (Rachel is also a go-to for very sage parenting advice, so check out the rest of her blog, too).
5. Funny of the day:
Mindy Kaling gave a commencement address at Harvard Law School and knocked it out of the park. This pushes so many of my buttons: Mindy Kaling (love her), lawyer jokes (funny because they’re true!, but I’m only allowed to say that because I’m a lawyer) and just a touch of anti-Harvard bias (go Bulldogs!). So many good quotes, but I particularly love this one:
“You wrote the Terms and Conditions that I scroll through quickly while I download the update for Candy Crush. Terms and Conditions are the only things keeping us from the purge, everybody. I don’t read them—I just hit Accept. iTunes may own my ovaries for all I know.” (OK, this might only be funny to corporate lawyers)
The speaker, a slight woman with dark hair and the faintest trace of an accent, was talking about beauty. I gazed behind her through wide glass doors at a stunning vista of hilltops and trees, clouds chasing the sunlight through the sky. There was the faintest scent of lavender in the air, and vases full of perfect roses, alliums and hydrangeas dotted the room and the picturesque patio beyond the windows. It was the most beautiful of settings, and beauty seemed a fitting topic.
This weekend, I attended the second Big Traveling Potluck, in Murrieta, California. The word “Conference” seems too sterile to describe this event – I see mental images of gray business suits and fluorescent lights. “Workshop” is better, but is too taxing. There were workshops – writing and photography and packaging darling gifts of food and love – but the weekend as a whole didn’t feel like work. “Retreat” implies withdrawal and quiet. We were not quiet.
Perhaps I’ll just return to “Potluck”, which is, after all, the name given to this weekend by its creators. At a Potluck, you bring something to share, and you partake of others’ offerings. It can create great anxiety - Will my dish be enough? Will it be popular? Will it pale in comparison to the dishes of others? But in the end the act of sitting down and sharing tends to eclipse any fears. After all, what is more communal than sharing a table?
I dislike those recaps of blogging conferences that show fabulous pictures of fabulous things and fabulous people that leave you wildly envious that you weren’t there yourself. There were lovely people and lovely things and lovely food, but I can’t share that with you directly. I can’t bring you to the Potluck with me, but I can share some of what I brought away with me. I can give you a seat at the table.
Beauty needs ugliness to make itself known. The real beauty of blogging isn’t in perfection – in the light and the shoulds and the immaculate food and the gorgeous writing, and the SEO and the sponsorships – the real beauty of blogging is sharing the reality. You may wake up one day and realize that your blog (or your life) don’t really reflect the whole you, but you can change course. Success is defined however you want, and you should celebrate your successes. Give yourself. Share yourself. Be yourself.
I attended the Big Traveling Potluck last year, and I found inspiration and motivation. But this year I feel like I found bits of myself that I didn’t know I had lost. I try, here at Savour Fare, to reflect the reality. I know you know my life isn’t perfect, my food isn’t perfect (and we ALL know my photography isn’t perfect. But I don’t always share. In that light-filled room, in that most beautiful of beautiful locations, I realized anew that the beauty is most apparent in the imperfections, and the flaws. That this place should be a window into my life, my whole life, with its messiness and its grace. This is my place, my space, my story to tell.
I’d like to tell it to you.
Won’t you sit at my table?
Note: my potluck contribution was these bourbon balls, only I gave them a little extra kick by adding 1 tsp each of ground Saigon cinnamon and ginger, and 1/2 tsp. of ground chipotle. Keeping it real? They were awesome.
As you may realize by now, I start to hyperventilate if I don’t have something to read. I feel aimless and lost, and I wander around the house But I also know that not every book can be the latest tour-de-force that has taken the world by storm. That’s one reason I love mysteries. They’re usually relatively short, easy reads (for when tackling that 800 page monster just seems too daunting), they’re usually reasonably smart, and most importantly, they come in series. I’ve mentioned my love of series before. A series means that there’s always (often) another book to pick up, that you’re reasonably likely to enjoy reading, before you start on the hyperventilating. I’m always excited when I find a new mystery series I like, because it gives me backup books for days. Everyone knows about Agatha Christie (and if you haven’t, she wrote 80 books! That should keep you busy for quite some time), but here are five other great mystery series to check out.
(These all happen to be by women writers. I didn’t set out to make this one of those “women writers” list, but when I was jotting down my favorite mystery writers, I came up with a bunch of women writers. So there you have it.)
Based in Los Angeles, Savour Fare is the home of Kate, a working mom who is low on time but high on life. I hope this site helps you find ways to make your life richer, easier, more beautiful and more delicious. You can read more about me and the site here and feel free to email me with any questions or feedback!