Worth Every Penny

November was a whirlwind.  I can count on two hands how many days I spent in Iowa.  Between travel for work and our trip to Bora Bora, my life has been a little insane.  I am happy to report that I am home for a while (if a hotel room in Des Moines, Iowa counts…LOL) and I hope to be writing you all again on a regular basis.  I’ve missed “Indulge”.  And with that…I share with you the letter I wrote you while I was in Bora Bora.  Make sure you’ve added Bora Bora to your bucket list…and enjoy.

***

Good Morning from Bora Bora!  I can’t believe I just said that…”Bora Bora”.  Truth is – I feel like I am sitting in the middle of a postcard right now.  

Today I write you from a oceanside palapa overlooking golden beaches, turquoise waters, and “over-the-water bungalows”.  I know you will be reading this more than a week after my return….but I’m dying to tell you about this place…now. 

  

 

On Friday we began our journey to the South Pacific.  Our first trip south of the equator!  With our initial 6am flight out of Des Moines…a connection in Denver…another connection in LAX…and an evening stop on the main island of Tahiti, we were in for a long day.  When we landed at 7pm in Papeete (11pm CST), we’d been traveling for 19 hours.

 

I’m not going to lie, we were exhausted.  Having been fed some amazing “in-flight” meals (seriously – when have you ever thought your in-fight food was delicious?!), we headed straight to our hotel and called it a night!  🙂 

Still a little jet-lagged but ever-so-excited, we were up early Saturday morning for a quick stroll and off to the city market.  I’m not one for a whole lot of shopping (believe it or not), so we quickly scurried past the tourist traps and headed straight for the food!  After we sampled and sniffed (fresh herbs, flowers, fruit, and pastries) or way through the market, our search for the perfect Tahitian pearl began.  Not too gold.  Not too green.  Not too purple.  Not enough sheen.  We must have popped into 7 pearl shops before we decided the pearl wouldn’t be found in Papeete….rather Bora Bora.  I like that idea better anyhow.  With that, it was time for lunch…and a beer! 

  

 

After a cold beer, interesting pizza and a quick shuttle back to the hotel…it was time for a nap and back to the airport to catch our flight to Bora Bora.

 

An hour after we boarded the plane, we were here….completely and utterly awe struck.  A short boat ride later and we were welcomed at the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort. 

 

I was secretly hoping (as our boat approached the resort) that our bungalow would be at the far end of the boardwalk…to my surprise – it was!  A solid 10-15 minute walk from the main reception, we are secluded…in the middle of the ocean.  🙂 

With an unfortunate bee-sting (unlucky Ryan!) on the way to our bungalow, we decided to drop off the luggage and head back to the French Restaurant/Bar for happy hour.  2 for 1 drinks in paradise? Yes Ma’am!  Call it excitement…call it exhaustion…call it bad luck…within seconds of receiving my minty mojito…I knocked it over!  Oops!  LOL  Within minutes…a replacement was on its way.  I wish you could taste the mint!  It is was vibrant!  Shortly after we finished our drinks, we found a cozy in the restaurant.  A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, bread with REAL butter, risotto, cajun-skewered shrimp, and pan-seared scallops.  A delicious dinner that screamed, “Welcome to our Island!”

Sunday morning we woke up with the excitement to “take it all in”.  Ryan headed down to breakfast @ 630am and brought back breakfast in bed.  Fresh fruit, yogurt, pastries, and juice.  Honestly, this is the BEST kiwi I have EVER tasted.  Not too sweet…Not too tart. 

With a satisfied appetite, we packed our beach bag, threw on our suits and sunscreen and made our way to the beach.  We lounged…we read…we kayaked…we indulged in sun and Hinano beer (just enough to quench our thirst!). 

 

As the afternoon passed we took a stroll to the top of the black rocks and scoped out the scene where the “Bachelorette” was filmed.  Truth be told, I never saw the Bachelorette series in Tahiti…but I know many of you have!  Hopefully some of these shots look familiar.

Just before we headed off for dinner, we anxiously awaited a tahitian sunset (530-630pm).  A local boat went cruising passed as we admired the colors and shouted, “Welcome to Paradise!”

For dinner we opted to take a short boat ride to town and ate at a restaurant called Kaina Hut.  Awful.  Ok…so the boat ride was fun…but the food was horrendous.  gnocchi that tasted like mushy spaghettios and mahi mahi that had been grilled for far too long.  Good thing we travel with wine!  We were disappointed…but our review was confirmed by another couple on our boat ride back to the Hilton.  Believe it or not…they had been in Bora Bora for 15 days (Obviously they are LOADED) and said that Kaina Hut was the worst meal they’d had.  Good news…it could only get better!

Monday morning brought another tasty breakfast and an early stop at the activities desk where we booked a Lagoon Safari (swimming with the sharks and sting rays) and a private BBQ lunch on Motu Tapu…a private island.  Not going to lie, I”m a little nervous about the sharks…heck, the rays too…but the little tahitian gal assured me it is safe….so I am putting on my big girl panties and jumping in….tomorrow.  🙂

One thing that really amazed us was how quickly the weather changes.  During breakfast – clear skies.  Stop in the bungalow for 20 minutes..come back out on the deck – full clouds and downpour!  Then 10 minutes later…there it was…blue sky…big white puffy clouds…and full SUN!  At the end of a long sandy pier we make ourselves comfortable. 

And when we felt just a little too warm, we jumped in for some afternoon snorkeling.  Unfortunately for me, the first little fishy I came across (within seconds I might add) was an ENORMOUS ugly EEL!  A quick panic-attack ensued before Ryan coerced me back in.  The swarms of fish were incredible! 

As the afternoon again came to a close, we headed back to our bungalow to get ready for our very private 5yr anniversary celebration.  Just the two of us…alone on the beach.  Who says you can only wear a white dress on your wedding day?!  Not me!  On a peaceful, serene Monday evening, we snapped a few photos and made our way to the end of a pier where we acknowledged the “ups” and “downs” of the last 5 years…and looked forward to many more.  (I, of course, added that perhaps we could celebrate EVERY 5 years in Bora Bora!  LOL)  After a glass a wine, it was off to dinner.  Red tuna, tomato tartar with spinach and white balsamic, salmon tempura, and creme brulee spring rolls! 

   

Finally…the big day!  After another healthy serving of breakfast, we were boarding the ship with 10 other brave tourists.  First stop – shark feeding.  I’m not going to kid you…I.WAS.TERRIFIED.  With some courage I didn’t know I had…I jumped in and made my way out to the sharks.  I tried to snap a few pictures but quickly realized I would need to hand the camera off to Ryan.  I could hardly control my breathing much less manage a camera.  All in all…very cool. 

 

Next stop – snorkeling in a coral garden.  Beautiful!  Tons of fish…

 

tons of coral…tons of color! 

Now this I can handle.  😉 

Last stop – feeding the sting rays.  I don’t know what to say.  I think we were all a little hesitant.  They are HUGE!  Seriously.  With a little more coercion from the guides, the guys jumped in.  It was so fun to watch…but swimming with the sharks was enough for this little lady! 

 

About 15 minutes into the experience, one of the Asian tourists started shouting, “Shawk!  Shawk! as he perched himself at the end of the boat and pointed.  Imagine, of course, his asian accent and terror in his voice…I don’t care who you are…that was terrifying…and hilarious!

After 3 entertaining stops, our guides dropped Ryan and I off that the private island for our BBQ lunch…alone.  Fresh salad, rice, grilled chicken and steak.  So easy…but so good.  Isn’t it amazing that some chefs…some restaurants try to be so creative…so fancy and yet some of the best meals…are so simple.  Amen!

 

As our last evening in Bora Bora quickly closed in on us, we debated whether to take another boat ride into town for dinner or stay on the resort, eat the buffet and enjoy their Polynesian show.  In the end, we chose the buffet and show.  The show was mediocre…but the food was NOT good.  Ok…some people loved it.  I didn’t.  Do you think it is because we cook so much as home?  Do you think it is because we often dine in nice restaurants?  Or…could it really have been that bad.  I don’t know…but I do know it was a bad…and expensive meal!  $95pp!  Can you believe it?!  Make a mental note…resort buffets in Tahiti are outrageous.  Yikes!

Wednesday morning was beautiful again.  One last breakfast and lounge on the beach.  As the rain settled in for the day, we headed into the Robert Wan shop to finally pick out my pearl!  I had seen a pair of pearl earrings early on in our stay…and they were unforgettable….I wasn’t going to leave the island without them!  Pearls and luggage in hand, Ryan and I cozied into some chairs and played a few games a cards (I kicked his butt!!) as the rain poured down.  Even when raining, the island was so relaxing.  One resort employee walked up to us and said, “Bora Bora is sobbing because you are leaving.”  I couldn’t have agreed more. 

When I left the US I said, “This is going to be a once in a lifetime trip.”  And now, having been on the island of Bora Bora for less than a week, I’ve decided this trip to Tahiti will not be a just once in a lifetime trip…this was the first of my lifetime.   

Indulge…in LIFE.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

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Cooking with Julie

Hello friends!  Today I send you a post from the air…again.  🙂  Ryan and I are headed to Tahiti!  While I will be away from Indulge for awhile, I promise pictures when I return!  In the meantime, I wanted to share with you the details from the cooking class I enjoyed in Napa!

We all know that Napa and Sonoma are famous for some amazing wines…a couple of my favorites being Dutcher Crossing, Trentadue, and Groth.  Tastings are the name of the game and indulging is encouraged.  But for me, 3 full days of drinking sample after sample is a little too much…for both my waistline…and my desire.  And with the amazing cooking class experience Ryan and I shared in Italy last year, I decided I would treat my dear friend Mandy to similar experience during our weekend in Wine Country.  After reviewing several sites, I decided on a class offered by Julie (“Cooking with Julie“.)  The description read:

“Enjoy the morning at the market meeting the farmers, browsing and sampling your way through the stalls of magnificent produce, olive oil and artesan cheeses with Julie. You will see produce as you’ve never seen it before–plump, bursting with flavor. As you explore the market your senses become heightened by the fresh flavors, the smell of dirt and gentle wafts of herbs and flowers. We select produce ripe and mature the way nature intended for our meal….After pursuing the perfect produce we learn how to cook our bounty to highlight the flavor and texture. We select the season’s vegetables from fava beans to torpedo onions and fruit (cherries, peaches, figs and more)….We visit a winery or wine bar in Napa for a private tasting to select the perfect wines to pair with our meal. Then on to the kitchen, where we don our aprons and turn our bounty into a wonderful wine country feast!” 

SOLD!  🙂

The Farmer’s Market was bountiful with fresh, colorful flowers….

 

red, green, and purple grapes…

 

Heirloom & beefsteak tomatoes..

 

cherry, grape, and zebra ‘maters…

 

Mild…spicy…red, green, yellow, orange and purple peppers….

 

pompegrante and figs!

 

With a sample here and a sample there (yes, even cookies!), we made our way slowly through this delightful little market.

 

Next door we visited a cheese shop, a spice shop, and a couple meat shops!

 

After a solid 2.5 hours of sampling our way through the market and neighboring shops, we were off to GROTH Vineyards to taste and pair wines with our meal.

 

While we were seated a private table and treated to a generous tasting, Julie prepared small side platers of cheese, grapes, and fresh bread.  The snacks were as delicious as they were beautiful!

 

When we finally made it to Julie’s home and into her kitchen, it was time to get cookin’! (literally!)  And naturally, we started with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and some appetizers!  While we began prepping the more labor intensive apps, Julie’s asst whipped up a meat, cheese, and grape platter as well as a Burrata Cheese app.

 

Have you ever had burrata cheese?  AMAZING.  Fresh mozzarella on the outside and cream on the inside.  Heaven.

 

Grilled Anaheim Peppers…

GRILLED FIGS with PROSCIUTTO and ALMOND TOPPING

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

Serves 4

  • 8 Small Figs (select figs athat are still firm)
  • 1 Tbsp plus 2 Tbsp teaspoons flavorless oil divided (grape seed or vegetable)
  • 3 Tbsp Almond Topping (recipe below)
  • 8 Thin slices prosciutto

Preheat your grill or broiler.

1.  Cut the figs in half lengthwise.  Place them in a medium bowl and toss them with 2 teaspoons of oil, to coat.  Use the rest of the oil to coat the grill grates.  Turn the grill heat to medium-high, and place the figs on the grill cut side down.

2.  Cook untill there are grill marks and the figs are heated through.  This will take about 3-5 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the figs.  Turn and cook on the other side for 2 minutes, just until you see the interior expand.  As you remove the figs from the grill, sprinkle each one with a teaspoon of almond topping.

3.  Arrange 2 slices of prosciutto on each serving plate to make a bed for the fig halves.

Serve with a non-oak Chardonnay.

PICADA (Almond Topping)

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

Makes 1/4 – 1/2 Cup

  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Slices of day-old bread, sliced about 1/2 inch thick and crust removed
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp blanched almonds, toasted
  • 1/2 Tsp Orange Zest
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove
  • 6 from mint leaves
  • Kosher Salt

1.  Saute the bread in an 8 inch skillet with about 1/8 to 1/4 inch of olive oil, over medium heat.  Saute about one minute until the bread is golden brown, then turn and cook the other side to golden brown.   Drain on a paper towel.

2.  Tear the bread into pieces, if the center is still doughy, remove and discard.   You only want the toasty bit.  Place the pieces between 2 pieces of wax paper and roll a rolling pin over it to create large golden crumbs.

3.  Chop the almonds until very fine.

4.  Finely chop the orange zest together with the garlic, mint, and a pinch of salt.  Combine with the bread crumbs and almonds.  Taste and see if you need a pinch of salt.

*To blanch, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the almonds.  Cook at a boil for about a minute, just until you see the skin become wrinkled.  Remove from heat and strain, discarding the water.  When cool enough to handle, pinch the almond and it will slip off its skin.

*To toast the blanced almonds, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cook the almonds on a small baking sheet for about 5 minutes to lightly toast.

TAGLIATA with ARUGULA

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

( This is a twist on an Italian classic.  Tagliata has a marinade which uses fish sauce.  Use the best-quality aged balsamic for drizzling over the dish just before serving.  Serve with some fingerling potatoes or crusty French bread.)

  • 3 lbs of your favorite steak

Marinade

  • 4-5 large garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp dried herbs de Provence
  • 3 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

Argulua Topping 

  • 1 Tbsp EVOO, or more to taste
  • 1-2 Lemons
  • Aged Balsamic Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • ¼ lb baby arugula
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

With a sharp knife, cut away any tough membrane or silver skin and excess fat on the exterior of the steaks while keeping the steaks intact as much as possible.

For the marinade:  in a small food processor, mince the garlic and herb de provence until very fine.  Add the EVOO and process to a paste.  Add the fish sauce and process again.

Put the meat in a plastic zip-lock bag or other non-reactve container and rub all over with the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate 1-4 hours.  Bring to room temperature 20 minutes before cooking if the steaks are very thick and dense.

Prepare a hot charcoal or gas grill. 

Season the meat with pepper; it should not need salt, as the fish sauce is salty.  Grill both sides until done to your taste, although preferably no more than medium rare.  Let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Slice meat thinly about ¼ inch thick in a diagonal and against thee grain and place on a platter.

Put the greens in a bowl and very gently toss with a little kosher salt.  Top the meat with a tuft of salad, drizzle with any juices from platter, squeeze lemon over, then drizzle with EVOO, and add a little aged balsamic vinegar.  Shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over and serve immediately.

AMAZING!!  Ryan and I can’t wait to make this at home for family and friends.  🙂

And last but certainly not least….DESSERT!

CRUSTLESS ALMOND PEAR TARTS

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

(You can substitute delicious apples or fresh figs in place of the pears)

Serves 8

  • 1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1 Recipe Almond & Hazelnut Frangipane (below)
  • 4 Ripe Bosc Pears, peeled, halved, and cored
  • ¼ cup fruit jelly or jam
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • Spicy Crème Anglaise (see recipe)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Butter eight 3-inch ceramic quiche or crème brulee dishes, then fill halfway with Frangipane.

Place a ½ tsp of jelly on top of the Frangipane in the center of each dish.

Using a sharp pairing knife, cut the pear halves into very thin ¼ inch slices, from the top (near the stem) to thee bottom leaving the slices attached at the stem end.  Press down lightly to fan out the slices.  Place a sliced pear on top of each tart, over the jelly.

Place the sliced almonds over the frangipane.  Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet  and bake until the frangipane is set, about 20 minutes.  Place the tart pans on a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Place on small dessert plates and serve warm or at room temp, with Spicy Crème Anglaise in a sauce boat with a small ladle or spoon.

ALMOND and HAZELNUT FRANGIPANE

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

  • 6 ounces (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 cup Almond Flour
  • 1 cup Hazelnut Flour
  • 5 large eggs, at room temp
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp Dark Rum
  • ¼ cup plus ½ Tbsp all-purpose flour
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, almond and hazelnut flour in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Using the paddle attachment beat until just smooth.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides after each egg is added.  Only add the next egg after the first one is incorporated.
  3. Stir in the vanilla, lemon zest, and rum.  Stir in the all-purpose flour until just combined.  Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for 2 months.

SPICY CRÈME ANGLAISE

Recipe by Julie Logue-Riordan

To make it a little more special, add a little cognac at the end.

Makes about 1 ½ cups

  • 1 cup whole organic milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/8 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks, from large eggs
  • Pinch of sea salt
  1. Place an empty bowl beside your stove top that is large enough to hold your sauce.  Place milk, vanilla bean, cumin, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a 2 cup glass measure.  Microwave 2-3 minutes until a film forms on the top.  Remove the vanilla and carefully scrape the beans from the inside of the vanilla bean and add both back to the milk.
  2. OFF THE HEAT in a heavy bottom pan (Le Creuset) mix thee egg yolks and the sugar until the egg yolks turn pale light lemon yellow.  Gradually add the hot milk stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.  Place over medium heat and continue to cook until the mixture thickens and coats the back of thee wooden spoon.  DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve. 
  3. Sprinkle top with sugar.  The sugar will melt and prevent the film from forming on top.  Let cool.

Once all of our cooking was complete for the day, it was time to indulge! 

  

Groth Chardonnay, Tagliata, Potatoes and ‘Maters!  Finish it all off with the crustless Pear tarts.  What a treat!

A big thank you to Julie Logue-Riordan for a great day!  Another thank you to my friend Mandy for joining me on this adventure.  I love you!

To our new friends Emily and Lindsay…please be in touch!  It was so nice to meet you and share this day with you.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

I Will Carry You

Good Morning…

In the 8 months that I have been sharing Indulge with you…I have not strayed from food…wine…from everyday indulgences.  Today I am.  Last week, my friend Tiffany shared a link.  I’ve never been as touched by a story…by a family….by an example of unwaivering faith…as I was by this story and this song.  As I sat in my hotel room crying…I knew I had to share this with all of you.   Thank you to the Smith family for inspiring me….among thousands of others. 

The first link I’m attaching is a link to an interview with Angie and Todd Smith (Todd is also a member of the Christian band Selah) describing their story. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmJXw5wjTow&feature=related

The second link is to the song  Angie and Todd wrote for their daughter Audrey Caroline. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2CnUtVY35o&feature=related

If you’d like to read the story or follow Angie’s blog, the address is:

http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/  (to start at the beginning:  http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/2008/01/beginning-of-story.html)

Angie’s book is also for sale at Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.com. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/080546428X/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

I have never met this family but I am so thankful they’ve shared their story.

“I believe in the sun even if it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent.” ~Unknown

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.  In Faith.

Friendship in Wine Country

Really?!  It’s Friday already?!  Where does the time go? 

This morning I write you from Memphis…where I have been since Wednesday.  And tonight, I’ll send you a “Sweet Dreams!” from Vegas…where I am headed today for an Osteobiologic Summit.  Can you keep up?!  Sometimes I wonder if I can keep up with myself.  LOL  For as exhausted as I occasionally feel, much of my work travel is enjoyable.  In fact, do you remember the post I did on “Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar“?  Flight is one of my all time favorite restaurants and luckily enough, our Advisory Council dinner was held at FLIGHT on Wednesday night.  Woo hoo!  I always eat well in Memphis….

As I mentioned in a previous post, I extended my last work trip (San Fransisco) and headed North to Wine Country with one of my best friends, Mandy.  Enjoyable…the company, the food, and the wine!  Since I am travelling again and I’m not home cooking in my own kitchen and sharing recipes with you…today I will share some of the highlights from our Girls Weekend in Napa and Sonoma.

As we planned our weekend in Wine Country, there were a few “must-dos”.  First things first, we weren’t going anywhere without renting a convertible…a Mustang convertible.  Secondly, we weren’t going anywhere until we stopped into Tyler Florence’s shop in Mill Valley….rain, shine, or otherwise…we were stopping.  (And secretly hoping for a Tyler sighting.  Heck…secretly hoping he would remember us from his Mpls Cooking Demonstration and Mall of America Hot Dog contest!)  Thirdly, we were going to experience a Napa cooking class…together.  Fourth, we needed a chauffeur…at least for one day…to cart us around like the VIPs we are.  Lastly…we were going to indulge in some of the best food CA has to offer.  With determination and planning…we conquered all of the above! 

Thursday morning, Oct 14th, we made our way to Fox Renta Car at SFO and picked up our ride.  I handed Mandy a hat (you’ve got to be prepared for wind-blown hair), threw the top down, and cranked up the tunes.  Regardless of how we looked…we felt cool.  And quite frankly, that’s all that matters.  🙂  hahahahha.

 

First stop…Golden Gate Bridge.  OK Tyler, yes, you are lucky to cross this bridge every day on your way to work.  Incredible!

 

Next stop… Tyler’s store!   Unfortunately, Tyler was still in NYC for the Food Network Food and Wine Expo.  I’m sure he would have loved to see us again.  🙂

By the time we made it to our cottage and on up to the Dry Creek Valley for lunch, we were starved!   Luckily, Traci, from the 1st Avenue Wine House in Cedar Rapids IA, recommended an AWESOME pizzeria for lunch.  Pizzeria Diavola….look at the pictures…. DELICIOUS.

  

After we indulged in some of the best fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and pizza I have ever had…we spent the rest of the afternoon sampling wine…naturally.  For dinner, we visited El Dorado Kitchen.  Ryan and I visited EDK several years back…in fact, we first tasted the Peach Jalapeno Martini there.  I ordered one again this time…and it was just as delicious as the one we make at home.  The next time you entertain, try it!

On Friday, we ordered up car service. 

You got it…as much as I enjoy being behind the wheel of a Mustang….I was equally excited to sample as much wine as my little heart desired!   Our first stop with the chauffeur in Napa was Castello di Amorosa (remember….from the Bachelor?).  The wine was good….

 

but the castle was breathtaking! 

 

Mandy’s friend Melissa joined us for the day….2 Blondes and a Brunette taking on Napa!  🙂 

 

One of our favorite stops was Frog’s Leap Winery  Highly highly recommend!

 

With tasty snacks to accompany the wine tasting…

 

a big garden full of fresh veggies, herbs, and flowers…a soda tasting for non-drinkers…a wrap-around porch and incredible atmosphere….we LOVED it!

We loved Frog’s Leap almost as much as we loved our lunch from the Oakville Grocer!  Having raved about the Oakville Grocer and their awesome sandwiches and snacks, I couldn’t wait to take Mandy there to pick up lunch and head out for a picnic in the Olive Groves at the Clos Du Val Winery. 

I tell you what….the Italian Sandwich was just as good as I remembered it.  Try making the Oakville Sandwich at home….we do!  🙂  And for the first time…I tried and LIKED olives!  (Sure, they were marinated with garlic…but you gotta start somewhere!)

 

With a final stop for the day at RAZI Winery, we were headed back to our cottage in Sonoma. 

For old times sake, we decided to set the timer on my camera…prop it on top of the entertainment center…and take a picture just like we did every weekend in college.  You see, almost 8 years may have passed since our time together as roommates at the University of Minnesota…but we are the same ‘ol girls.  🙂    CHEERS to that!

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”  ~Cahill

Enjoy your weekend.  In my next post, I will share with you our Saturday cooking class in Napa.  Get ready for some great recipes!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Hap…Hap… Happy Halloween!

It’s Monday…again!  Did you enjoy your Halloween weekend?  I hope so.   My Saturday was spent with my Medtronic family…tailgating and cheering on the Hawks in field-level seats at Kinnick.  Sunday brought hours of cleaning out the garage, tiding up the yard and preparing for winter.  Yikes!  Once the chores were complete…there was relaxation and Sunday afternoon football.  With a Hawkeye Win over Michigan State and a Packer win over the Jets…it was a great weekend indeed.  🙂 

As for costumes and candy….the Boudreau household was a little lame this year.  Maybe it has been all of the travel…or the thought of upcoming travel…or just the desire for a few hours of pure laziness….but there was no dressing up this year.  Instead…

we whipped up a batch of our favorite buffalo drummies

cracked a bottle of halloween appropriate wine (festive, eh?!)…

threw in a scary movie and cozied up with our very own monster. 

And while we relaxed, “Eddie”, (Ryan’s creation), greeted the ghosts and goblins…

 

…and offered up some candy. Oooo Oooo…Ahhhh Ahhhh!   Trick or Treat! 

   

Whatever YOU did this weekend, I hope found time to indulge…

Make the most of your week!  It’s just beginning.  🙂

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.