Postcards: Cemetery at Sunset in Vence, France

Ah, the French Riviera and countryside...in January. Not exactly high tourist season, but Christian's sister and husband were living in Juan-les-Pins, France for 6 months so we took the opportunity to head over while we had a free place to stay and local-like tour guides.  The whole French Riviera was sleepy and quiet, which made for perfect exploration and minimal crowds which was idyllic.  The weather, not so idyllic.  This was 2009...you know, that record breaking winter in Europe where people were actually freezing to death, yeah, it was cold.

The cold, however, didn't slow us down...we wanted to see as much of the French Riviera as we could, and that included a snowy day-hike into the mountains and then lunch in the mountain city of Vence.  Vence is a medieval walled city that dates back to the 3rd century.  It's one of those cities that has you walking around in awe, tripping over ancient upturned cobblestones as you gawk at the beauty and architecture.  It was as we were doing this, right around sunset, that we stumbled upon this incredibly old but magical feeling cemetery right outside of the walled city.

What first attracted me to the cemetery, was actually the image that you see below. Light of the rapidly setting sun casting a shadow of the tombstones on a nearby wall.  It was ethereal and moving, so I worked rapidly to capture a shot.  Then, when I turned around I was surprised to see an equally beautiful view...the one that you see above.  To be clear, I'm not a religious person at all.  So the beauty didn't come from the religious meaning of the moment, but more the haunting and silent beauty surrounding us all.  We were alone in the cemetery with the noise of the nearby town completely blocked by the wall and streams of smoke billowing up from the homes in the valley below...a moment where you don't have to be religious to connect spiritually. That, to me, is my postcard from Vence.

This is the first post in my new SavoryGirl series, Postcards, which is described a bit here.  Let me know what you think?  Good addition to the site?  Interesting?  Hate it?  Feedback encouraged!

Postcards…a new SavoryGirl Segment

Photo from airliner.net

I've been struggling a bit with SavoryGirl these days...the passion and excitement that led me to start it 16 months ago has seemed to dissipate some making updating it feel more like a chore than an engaging form of self-expression.  The menu posts are easy since I do that for our family anyway, but the quantity (and probably quality) of the other posts have decreased some of late.  So I've come up with a new segment that I think will reinvigorate SavoryGirl that I'm excited to share.
Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand...what an interesting, unique and ridiculously delicious place!  Now, there are things I love about Chiang Mai and some that I found extremely disappointing if I'm being honest.  I tend to get very high expectations based on what other people say...one of the reasons I never go to the movies to see blockbusters that everyone is raving about, I'm always disappointed! I think the same thing happened with Chiang Mai...at first. Everyone I knew told me how amazing it was and kept describing it as a "town" with a medieval-like wall around it, amazing markets and lots of historical and beautiful temples.  Now, technically that is all true...but to me those words conjured up an image of a small town that I would ramble through at leisure as I wistfully fingered silk at the markets.  Enter the reality of Chiang Mai.  This "town" may be up North nestled in the hills of Thailand, but town it is not...it is a big, crazy bustling city!  Horns honking, tuk tuks two-wheeling around corners, air thick with smog and dirt and oh so many people!  Of course, it's not Bangkok...but you expect Bangkok out of Bangkok and this is not what I was expecting out of Chiang Mai.  Yes there is a wall around the city (which is beautiful...especially at sunset), more beautiful temples than you could ever imagine and even an amazing and huge Sunday market (the normal nightly market, not so interesting!) where you can wistfully finger fine silk scarves...there will just be a lot of noise and commotion around you as you enjoy all of these things.  But if you set your expectations correctly, as I did after a day of adjustment, Chiang Mai is a fantastic place.  Particularly because of the food! So onto the food we go!  
Chimayo in Park City, UT

Ah, Sundance Film Festival! I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go last year for work and so I thought in honor of the 2012 Festival kicking off this week I'd share a bit about a restaurant we really enjoyed while there last year, Chimayo.  While I'm not necessarily a huge film buff I had so much fun...more than I ever thought I would.  So much so that I think I'd like to go back again in the future, on my own dime even, so I can bring Christian along as well!



If you've never been to Sundance, I strongly encourage you to check it out.  Honestly, I'm not really a huge film buff (I have pretty low entertainment standards...ask Christian!) but I had so much more fun than I ever thought I would.  The movies were great (and only like $25 a ticket...way less than I thought they would be), Park City is amazingly adorable and the people watching was fantastic.  I really wish that I had Christian with me since he's is so good at identifying celebrities and the town is just crawling with them, but I had a few star sightings of my own!  I even got a picture taken with two...cutie Adrian Grenier from Entourage and the legendary Harry Belafonte! But I digress...back to the restaurant.

Eating Our Way Through Chicago

While I know I already shared my foodie itinerary for Chicago, I thought now that we are back from our trip I'd let you know what we thought and if everything on our original itinerary lived up to the hype.  So first things first....WE LOVED CHICAGO!  As a reminder, I hadn't been there since I was a child and Christian had never been.  So it was pretty new for both of us...and to be honest we were expecting to like it, but not much more.  But after a day in Chicago I was talking about wanting to move there, and I love living in San Francisco and left Massachusetts because I hated the winters...but Chicago is that cool.  I honestly felt like the greatness of the city would outweigh any awfulness of the winters that I had heard about...but Christian disputed and insisted he wouldn't move to Chicago with me so I had to let it go.  But really, such a clean and vibrant city with amazing architecture and waterways.  If you haven't been, go.  Preferably in the late spring or early fall from what I hear.

So, our foodie itinerary.  How did we fare?  Very well if you ask me.  While we may not have made every destination on our itinerary, we made it to the important ones and let me just say, we ate extremely well while in Chicago!
Foodie Itinerary: Chicago, IL

Chi-town, the Windy City, Chicagoland, Second City, New Gotham (God, I love the new Batman movies!)...whatever you call it, Chicago is an exciting city.  Especially in the summer and fall before the frigid lake breeze starts to pick up.  So we considered ourselves pretty lucky when I had a business trip to Peoria, IL scheduled for late September... weekend trip to Chicago, anyone?  Definitely!

I actually haven't been to Chicago more than quick stop overs in years, but my Grandfather lived there and I have lots of friends who have lived there for extended periods of time so we had lots of good recommendations and resources when planning this trip.  Christian's never been to Chicago at all, so it will be excited to explore it together.  We only have 2 1/2 days so it will be a quick trip, but we're packing as much in as we can!

Of course, please leave me a comment if you think we're missing out on any must-eats or must-sees from our itinerary below...
Foodie Itinerary: Austin, TX
 

Austin, Texas...boy have we heard great things about this place!  But until now, we haven't had a chance to get there so we were super excited when we found out that our good friend Michelle was getting married there.  So excited that we decided to take a normal quick wedding trip and turn it into a 5 day trip so we really have time to explore.  As usual, I've tapped into my fellow T-Bird network and done my usual research to create the itinerary below.  Not surprisingly, there's a big focus on BBQ and music which sounds like a fun vacation to us!

We're leaving on Friday 9/23 so if you think we're missing something big from our trip leave a comment and let us know!  As always, our itineraries are meant as starting guides, but totally flexible in nature so we can swap things around and abandon others completely once we land and start talking to locals...
SavoryGirl’s First Ever Video – Cambodian Fruit

Welcome, to my first ever SavoryGirl video!  The content is fun and I think you’ll enjoy it...a quick tour through some of the exotic Cambodian fruit.  Milk fruit was my favorite, but there really wasn’t a bad one in the bunch.  The others featured are Jackfruit, longans, rambutans and sapodilla.

Link to the video is here...you can also see other SavoryGirl videos on my videos tab.

So while I definitely think the content is fun, the videography and energy may not be quite perfect, but hey it was my first try!  I am certainly not a professional at this (yet anyway!) and Christian is not a professional videographer, just a super kind and supportive hubby...but we did the best we could!  So I’ve gone with a bit of the cheesy imovie effects this first time around...help jazz it up a bit. I also had originally planned on including some of the video I shot at the markets getting the fruit and talking to the locals, but because I’m always worried about intruding and making people uncomfortable that footage ended up a bit underwhelming.  I guess I’ll have to work on not caring what people think and just going for it in public!

So if there are any videographers/on-camera personalities out there that have some advice, I’m all ears!  Otherwise, thanks for taking the time to check it out!  
Cambodian Foodie Photos

I’ve been painfully slow getting all of my photos and videos out from our recent travels...sorry abou that!  The post-vacation doldrums (it’s painful re-entering the real world!) are slowing me down a bit.  But, I’ve just uploaded my Cambodia Foodie photos and my exploration of some of the exotic fruits we tried in Cambodia is on deck and should be posted in the next day or so. Click here to see the newly uploaded Cambodia Foodie photos!

 

Kuy Teau Pork Noodle Soup & Cambodian Coffee for Breakfast!

 
…and, I’m Back!

Hi there!  It’s been a while, but I am officially back in the US, over my severe jet lag, and able to update the site!  I can’t begin to explain how amazing Thailand and Cambodia were, but I will have a few dedicated posts to that very topic over the next week.  Stay tuned for a video of me exploring Cambodian exotic fruits and another of me enjoying my very first cricket in Thailand!  I’ll also post all of our food-related pictures from the trip and share some of the recipes we got after our Thai cooking class (which produced very authentic and delicious Thai food!).