Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a's a's a SUPER - FOOOOOOD!

Hiya! I’m Sara Jean and I am stepping in for Currolyn to pen this month’s installment of relish - thanks so much for joining us!

(In deep announcer-y voice) “...Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice (and Deliciousness), Super Salmon, Wonder Kale, Ch-ch-ch-Chia and Farro-man (and those three junior super friends, Vanessa, Shannon and Sara Jean) get down to what is really important: saving the world by creating a fabulous, healthy and SUPER-powered SUPER-meal...” (full disclosure, I am a huge nerd and WILL make Super Friends references whenever possible from here on out.)
It was Vanessa’s idea to do a meal based on SuperFoods. She is newly preggers (yay!) and has always had a strong interest in eating well and nutrition, having come from excellent hippie parents who once had a soybean farm and raised their children in Eugene, Oregon (yup.) She thought that a SUPERFOOD dinner would be a terrific counter to our decadent Last Meal Apocalypse Dinner in December. V has been thinking about how to best make herself birth-ready and a good vessel for the little one that is growing inside of her, Jackie (also preggers) is due in MAY (RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! new relish baby, ya’ll), Carolyn is planning a wedding in September (in FRANCE - do I smell a French-themed relish dinner in our future???) and is working to feel her best-est in her body, and the rest of us have struggled through a winter of EVERYONE BEING SICK ALL THE TIME. Seriously!?? What HAPPENED this winter? Noravirus, sinus infections, influenza, head and chest colds, migraines, in addition to a few real-life-serious diseases that people we care about are fighting against. So it seemed a good time to do a leeeeettle Spring Cleaning of the systems. Carolyn and Shannon were also scheduled to start a 21-day cleanse called Clean the following day (more on that in a future post). The timing really couldn’t have been more perfect.

In a dumb-luck turn of events, our fearless leader was taken down by a nasty migraine the day of our dinner, so she had to sit in a dim, quiet room (doing the things even Wonder Women must do when migraines attack) and sadly missed out on this adventure. So I am stepping into her (very impressive) shoes and am going to reveal all that we learned at our Super Dinner.

Ok. Here goes - We are city girls. Which gives us a baziliion amazing opportunities to live these incredible full and experiential lives. We also (by that very definition) LIVE in a CITY: with pollution, not a ton of access to locally grown food, minimal outdoor time and supremely hectic lives. So we aren't always getting the nutrients we need through food. We should be. We probably could be. BUT since that seems a little daunting given, um, REALITY, we simply do our best. As always. We find the balance that we can. However, learning or RE-learning about how the food we eat is essentially our daily medicine made me feel ultra-capable. (sidebar - sometimes simply completing my laundry can make me feel ultra-capable, but you know what I mean). Real-talk, guys: the main reason we get together is to obsess over food and how fabulous it is and how much we love to cook it, eat it, think about it, TALK about it. We can (drum-roll, please) also USE it as our secret (or not-so-secret) weapon. Because I'm (as I mentioned earlier) a complete nerd, I started researching superfoods before our dinner. SUPERFOOD is defined by the OED as “nutrient rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”  Basically foods with exceptional medicinal value. Now if you're anything at all like me, you really enjoy eating. A lot. I would WAY rather eat my medicine if it tasted phenomenal, prepared in some delicious meal, wouldn't you? So this is what we set out to do.

This month turned out to be just Vanessa, Shannon and myself. CK had the aforementioned devil-migraine and Jackie and KHud got caught up in crazy life-schedules. So under V’s guidance, the three of us had the luxury of puttering around the kitchen, working together to create this meal. AND, might I add that there is just something so damn relaxing and satisfying about sharing space in a kitchen with other kick-ass people. If we’re going to extol the benefits of good eating, I must give a shout-out here to the pure nourishment and super-heroism of being in cooking space together - and, we three made quite the crime-fighting team. With our knives and bowls and gorgeous ingredients, we chopped and chatted and poured and stirred and story-told and....we munched on popcorn flavored with olive oil and nutritional yeast (which not only is a complete protein that improves mood and energy levels BUT IT MAKES REGULAR POPCORN TASTE JUST LIKE MAGICAL CHEESE-Y MOVIE POPCORN YA’LL - dead serious. Try it.) 

Pop 3/4 cups of your popcorn however you want (air popper is probably best). Add 1/8 cup melted butter, 1/8 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes. Also you can add any herbs you might find yummmmmy. (Because I am a truffle whore, I would probably add a pinch of truffle salt)...
Because we is fancy, we also sipped on spectacular antioxidant blueberry basil lemon cocktails (with a spoonful of vodka (sing that Mary-Poppins-style) for those of us who don’t have another human living inside of us.) Blueberries are basically the rock star of the fruit world (lemons and basil ain't too shabby, either) and speaking of medicinal foods, the Russians use vodka for healing nearly everything, right? (*SUPERFOOD*). 

To make simple syrup, combine 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 2 cups chopped basil and 6 strips of lemon rind. Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved and then let sit for an hour. Push liquid through strainer to get out the solids. Put in pretty Mason jar.

For cocktail, muddle a large handful of blueberries and a huge handful of basil leaves in a pitcher. Add soda water, basil lemon simple syrup, lemonade to taste. Finish with soda water. *If you want to be naughty you can add a shot of vodka.
And because she donned her superhero cape long ago and always wears it well, V made a beet-white bean-rosemary dip. Every ingredient in this is rather a super-star, but let it be said here that BEETS TRULY KICK ASS, YO!

3 small roasted beets
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh rosemary

Whir it all in a food processor until very creamy, adjusting seasonings to taste. DIP stuff in it. Jicama and cucumbers in long slices are particularly divine. YUM.

SUPERCOOL THING - In the space of our creating this meal, I became intensely aware of how the food we were working with was so colorful, so aromatic, so beautiful, so SEXY. Beets and kale and white beans and rosemary and yogurt and jicama and cocoa and blueberries and brussels sprouts and apple cider vinegar and farro and salmon and avocado and mushrooms...this foodie Hall of Justice is not only kicking ass but it is damn HOTT, people. Which is always a good thing.

Aside from being wildly attractive, the list of super POWERS these ingredients have is impressive and almost overwhelming. Nearly every ingredient we used comes with a resume of healing-powers a mile long. Too many to list, in fact. I don't want to make you jealous, but suffice it to say that we lowered our blood pressure, balanced our hormones, decreased bloating, strengthened our immune systems, promoted healthy digestion, warded off disease, reduced inflammation, combated heart disease, killed harmful free radicals, stopped cell mutation, stabilized blood sugar AND (not in the least) became happier and more energetic and clearer thinking ALL IN A SINGLE BOUND. Take THAT you nasty villains! POW! THWAP! ZOOM!

Are you ready to load your tool belts with amazing-ness? Here are more recipes from our SUPER FRIENDS SUPER FOODS SUPER DINNER:


Take one bunch of curly kale. Wash it. Dry it (or spin in) and tear it up.

Drizzle Kale with apple cider vinegar and sesame oil and sprinkle with a little salt and a little plain white sugar. Plunge clean hands in and massage ingredients into kale. Add 1 carrot and two green onions chopped into 2 inch matchsticks and toss together. Et VOILA! (you can also add some toasted white or black sesame seeds for an extra crunch!)

For the Sprouts:
  • Preheat oven to 450. Toss 3lbs Brussels Sprouts (i used enough to fit into a 9 x 13 cake pan) with olive oil, 5 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, 25-35 minutes. After about 15-20 minutes of baking, I added a few tablespoons of butter to the mix.
For the SHROOMS:
  • Heat some olive oil in heavy skillet, once it is hot, I added 3 Tablespoons of butter - I heard the combo helps with the smoking point or something. 
  •  Add one pound shiitake mushrooms, 1/2 pound crimini mushrooms. Saute until golden brown and tender. 
  •  Add 1/4 cup red wine (you could also use white, but the red made the dish much richer and is an antioxidant!!!!)
  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme (i think i used a bit more), salt and pepper and boil until liquid is somewhat reduced. 
  •  Add a little more water and 1 more Tablespoon butter, a splash of white balsamic and the juice of half a lemon. 
  • Simmer and then pour over Brussels Sprouts and mix together.
For the Crispy Shallots:
  • Heat 1-1 1/2 cups vegetable oil in heavy skillet until temperature is 250.
  • Slice 5-6 shallots into thin slices and separate in to rings. 
  •  Fry shallots in several batches, stirring occasionally until golden brown, 3-5 minutes per batch. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel, shallots will crisp up as they cool. (you can also use leeks...)
Sprinkle shallots over the sprouts/shrooms mixture and broil for a few minutes until top layer is super crispy.

This particular brussels sprouts concoction was my First Prize Winning entry into our very first Smackdown two years ago. It still continues to be one of my favorite things to make (and eat) EVER and I am proud to say that I have converted some non-brussels-eaters into TRUE BELIEVERS...(can I get an AMEN?)

  • Rinse 2 cups of farro well. Put in saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water, add 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until just tender. Drain. 
  • Saute 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil briefly, then add 1/2 can roasted tomatoes (or fresh if they're in season). 
  • Add oregano and basil (fresh if you have it, dried otherwise is fine) and hot red pepper flakes and cook for a few minutes. 
  • Add farro and stir to combine. 
  • Start adding vegetable stock in small amounts, as you would risotto, until it is very tender and the consistency you like, will take about 7-10 minutes. 
  • Off heat, stir in 1/2 cup grated Parmesan. Serve with more grated parm on top.
Farro is a deeeeeeeelish ancient grain that is great in risottos (like this one) or stews or anywhere you might use barley or rice. You can also get a cute little pack of 10-minute Farro at Trader Joe's. 'Cause Trader Joe's rocks.

  • Preheat broiler. Sprinkle whole side of salmon lightly with chili powder, brown sugar, a little salt and a little pepper. 
  • Sprinkle chopped red onion on top and dot with little flecks of butter. Broil until just cooked through.
  • While salmon is broiling, combine 1 whole small avocado and 1/2 cup non fat Greek yogurt with 1 chopped garlic clove, 2 TBS lemon juice, 2 TBS chopped fresh dill, a little salt if you taste it and it needs it. 
  • Mix or food process until smooth. 
  • Serve in dollops by salmon.

1/4 cup of chia seeds

3/4 cup of almond milk

1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Small spoonful of sugar (1 – 2 tsp.)


Combine chia seeds and almond milk. Stir in cocoa powder and sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes or overnight until mixture has thickened. Stir and enjoy!

Shannon is the queen of baking delicious chocolate desserts (see her CRAY lava cake from our Last Meal Supper.) She simply followed the above recipe with no creative embellishments for this one and we all agreed that we wanted the pudding to be, um, something MORE....although when Vanessa's husband, Paul, got home he determined that after a night of beer and bar food, chia pudding was just grrrrreat. We amended at the table with some agave syrup and cocoa powder. The texture of chia isn't for everyone (although I found it kinda amazing) but mostly, sometimes you just need more chocolate.

So *CHEERS*. Have some red wine. Have some chocolate. (both incredible super-foods, by the way!) Invite someone you care about into your kitchen to chop and mix and saute together. And remember that, as cliche as it is, we are what we eat. And even though it seems that I am sometimes simply a bottle of sauvignon blanc and a bag of Reese’s Eggs, I am more often greens and salmon and whole grains and almond-butter. Lucky for all of us there are SO MANY delectable things to eat that really do our bodies good. And have some serious sex appeal (*important*). We girls tend to work real hard to be super-heroes - to excel in every role as mothers and artists and daughters and wives and career-women and girlfriends and sisters and best friends. And we can do A LOT. We really can. But we need to goddamn nourish ourselves so we can keep on ticking. Cause we have (amongst a to-do list of other things a mile long) to save the world. POW!

Cheers. Be well. Actually, be SUPER. See you next month!

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Grapes of Wrath

“people don't take trips - trips take people.” - John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley

One might say I'm a bit of a foodie/wino inspired-ish type o'traveler.  And, I guess what I mean by that is, when I plan my trips I basically work my entire itinerary around what I'm going to eat and drink.  I mean, don't you???  Now, I'm not talking about over-planning every moment or booking at restaurants way in advance - I'm talking about leaving a substantial amount of time for enjoying the food and drink (usually wine) of that particular culture and savoring the hell out of it!

It began in 2003 (I know, I'm a late bloomer!) when I took my maiden voyage to Europe.  SPAIN. Ah, Espana!  Spain will always have a special place in my heart as it was my first experience with European culture, food and wine. If you've been so lucky to have traveled to Europe, or more specifically - to the countries hanging out next to the Mediterranean Sea - you've probably seen first hand that these people know how to LIVE. They have truly managed to perfect the highly coveted work/life balance idea - all the while looking pretty damn sexy - I mean, come on: Vespas and stilettos???!!!  HOT.
 Speaking of HOT: I couldn't find any pictures of the first trip I took to Spain because that was pre-digital camera and pre-Facebook so, these are some pictures from the second trip I took to Spain with some of my favorite ladies - Amanda, Hubbell, Lindley, Kristen and Jackie.
We spent most of our time in Andalucia - this was a day trip we took to Bubion.
In Madrid - a must.
This is some place we stumbled upon in they Albycin neighborhood of Granada.  Salud!

Spain was really awesome- both times!  

Okay, so, nestled in between those two trips to Spain - Kristen, Jackie and I planned another trip - this time to Italy: Rome, Chianti and Florence.  Now, in my humble opinion, any foodie/wino type person really owes it to themselves to take a trip to this beautiful country because I have to tell you - everything, and I mean EVERYDAMNTHING I ate in Italy was far and beyond the best meal of my life.  It will always live in my heart as one of my most favorite culinary bene!

I hope you don't mind if I take another quick trip down memory lane...
Out to dinner in Florence where we met a nice gent (who just so happened to be our waiter).  He totally had a huge crush on Jackie-Ha!  It was cute.  Anyway, he offered us our first glass of Limoncello on the trip - which ended up being the first of many, that night, and the rest of the trip!
Climbing down the stairs in San Gimignano
Even the dog was hungry for the gelato...
KHUD walking through the San Lorenzo market in Florence
BTW - I believe Jackie took all of these pictures (except for the ones she is in) - I cannot take credit!
Vineyards in Chianti - gorgeous.
A spontaneous three hour lunch on the road while vineyard touring in Chianti, anyone?
Yes, please.
Handmade pumpkin ravioli - so light and beautiful.
The best damn Arribbiata I've ever had! 
Did you know arrabbiato in Italian means "angry?" 
Interestingly enough, I just went into my kitchen to get a glass of wine and look who I found together on my fridge - Jackie (actually in Florence in this picture) taking a photo of David!  Aw.

So this brings me to what we put together for our little relish gathering in February.  Field trip! Kristen emailed us with the idea that maybe we should take a class at The Chopping Block.  I thought this was an excellent idea - I, personally, am always willing to learn something new in the kitchen - need all the help I can get!  Also, we had taken a class for Jackie's birthday a while back and we all loved it!  I still use many tricks of the trade from the last time I took a class there (including the best way to score an onion for dicing and the magic of a microplane grater/zester) - all very approachable, non-intimidating techniques and tips, taught in a very conversational and laid back style.  Money. Well. Spent.

Once I saw the title of this class, it seemed like it was meant to be: The Grapes of Wrath - Food and Wine of Italy.  Yes.  Where do we sign up??
It started like this...
Cin! Cin!
Carrie and Kevin (our Instructor and Sous chef) started us out with a nice little salad and a glass of Prosecco while we waited for the others to arrive.
This is Carrie, our instructor!

The menu:
Tuscan Cauliflower Fritters with Shaved Pecorino
Chicken Marsala with Herbed Risotto
Semolina and Olive Oil Cake with Berries
The cake was up it could bake while making the rest of the dinner.
Grind with mortar and pestle.  Then toast.
Or semolina...
Semolina and Olive Oil Cake with Berries
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. semolina
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and coarsely ground (do this first)
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp orange zest
2tsp lemon zest
1/4 c. whole milk
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
2/3 c. sliced almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 c. heavy cream whipped with 1 Tbs powdered sugar to soft peaks
2 c. assorted berries

1. Preheat oven to 375.  lightly oil 9 inch round pan.
2. Whisk together flour, semolina, baking powder, salt and fennel seeds in bowl
3. Using electric mixer - beat sugar, eggs, zests until pale and fluffy.  Then beat in milk and gradually beat in the oil.  Add the flour mixture.  Then lastly fold i almonds
4. Bake about 35 minutes.  Allow the cake to cool
5. Top cake slices with fresh berries and whipped cream
The art of zesting with the best kitchen tool ever - microplane zester/grater!  You need one.
Folding in the almonds at the end
The final product, which we didn't see until after we ate the rest of the meal but, it's lovely!

Moving on to the next thing: Crispy Tuscan Cauliflower Fritters with Shaved Pecorino Romano.  
Now, these may not look like much but believe me when I tell you - these are TO DIE FOR.  Highly recommend making these suckers for when you have people over for dinner.  They are total wow factor awesome and seemed rather easy to make.  The only problem is - they need to be served, dinner definitely needs to be on your turf to make these work.
Crispy Tuscan Cauliflower Fritters with Shaved Pecorino Romano
2 eggs
1 c sparkling water
1 c all purpose flour
2 Tbs grape seed oil
2 Tbs Parmesean cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 head of cauliflower - cut into florets
2 c canola or vegetable oil
1 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c shaved romano cheese

1. To make the batter, whisk together the eggs and sparkling water.  Whisk the flour, a little at a time until smooth.  Stir in the 2 Tbs of grape seed oil, parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Cover the  bowl with plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  
2. Bring pot of salted water to boil.  Add the cauliflower and boil for about 8 minutes.  Drain and place in a mixing bowl.  Use potato masher to mash up cauliflower coarsely.  Cool to room temp
3. Pour the vegetable and olive oils in to deep skillet and heat until it reaches 375 degrees (get a thermometer if you are serious - highly recommended for any frying)
4. Take the batter out of fridge and stir in mashed cauliflower.  Drop the batter in heaping spoonfuls into hot oil and fry until golden brown turning once to brown both sides. (make sure you reheat the oil in between each batch to get it back up to the proper frying temp and avoid mushiness)
5. Drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt while hot.  Serve warm with shaved Romano on top.
Mash it up coarsely so it looks kinda like this...
Add your batter and mix it up
Fry time.
Salt when warm, then top with Romano cheese...YUM.
Served with Correggia Roero Arneis, 2010, Piedmont Italy for $15.95 - it was a perfect pair and a perfect bargain!
 "light, clean, fruit forward with some nice citrus action"
Fresh Herb Risotto
**TIP** For this recipe you really want to splurge on the good/fresh stuff - it makes a huge difference!
3 1/2 to 4 c of chicken stock
2 Tbs butter
1 small onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c arborio rice
1/2 c white wine
1/4 c fresh parsley, rough chopped
2 Tbsp fresh dill, rough chopped
1/2 c Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Carrie demonstrating how to score an onion - easiest and best way to dice with the least amount of mess and the least amount of crying!
Step 1: cut ONE end of the onion off, leaving the root/butt on
Step 2: slice in half, then take off skin
Step 3: with flat side of onion down score without going fully to the butt of onion
Step 4: after scoring both directions, slice thinly to create the perfect dice
Carrie demonstrating a coarse chop on the parsley which we also used later for the Chicken Marsala.

1. Place the chicken stock in a saucepan over medium low heat - off to the side
2. Heat heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat and add butter
3. Gently sauté the onions until they are softened.  Add garlic, sauté for another minute
4. Stir in the rice and cook and additional 2 minutes while stirring constantly or unit the rice is lightly toasted.  Add the white wine to deglaze and then reduce until the pan is almost dry
5. Add in one ladleful of the warm stock and stir until the pan is dry.  Continue in this fashion until the rice is cooked to your liking
6. Spring in the herbs and remove from the heat.  Fold in the cheese and season to taste.
When complete - it should look like this...
Carrie served Chicken Marsala (recipe below) on top of the Risotto.
Served with La Maialina Chianti, 2008, Tuscany Italy @ $17.95!
This wine was delicious and the price point was also very friendly - another reason to love The Chopping Block - they do not do the restaurant 30% mark-up!

Chicken Marsala
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
All purpose flour, for dredging
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1Tbsp butter
8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms (aka baby bellas)
1/2 c. Marsala wine
1 c. chicken stock
2 Tbsp butter, cold
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, rough chopped

Here's another tip we learned  - How to tell if your chicken is cooked FEEL.
Feel forefinger to pad - RARE
 Feel middle finger to pad - MEDIUM
Feel ring finger to pad - WELL DONE
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees
2. Using a meat mallet, pound the chicken breasts until they are uniform in thickness. 
Season both sides with Salt and pepper then dredge in flower - shaking off any extra 
3. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat and add olive oil and butter.  Sauté the breasts, presentation side down first (presentation side is the the smooth side - it caramelizes more). 3 to 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Flip and repeat until cooked through.  See above for what that should be...
4. Heat the same sauté pan over medium heat and add the sliced mushrooms.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are softened and browning around the edges.
5. Deglaze with the Marsala wine reduce by half of its original volume.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, reduce and simmer.  Cook for about 5 minutes to blend flavors.
6. Finish the sauce by swirling the cold butter and the parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.
7. Pour the Marsala sauce over the chicken and server over the Risotto.
Um, let's take a moment to look at all of Jackie's bling - damn GURL!
"Jackie is like a young Joan Collins"
Here are some of our fellow students.
Teacher and students!
Carrie and Kevin we're so nice to let us come in and take pictures and document the class...

I loved our little mini-field trip of sorts and I definitely left with some good tips.  Here's a few of them:
  • I learned how to score an onion - again - but a bit differently this time.
  • I learned how to tell if my Chicken is cooked through - by feel. 
  • It was confirmed that Harvest Time in Lincoln Square is the best place to buy herbs and fresh vegetables - outside of a farmer's market in the summer.  
  • I got a great restaurant recommendation from Carrie - Fat Rice in Logan Square, which was described as a Portuguese/Szechuan taste sensation.
  • I actually used that Olive Oil cake recipe to take to a Chili party - without the berries and the whip cream, it's a nice compliment to Chili - like a corn bread.

So, how the hell does this all tie together aside from our Italian travels?  Well, I have to go back to that Steinbeck quote at the beginning - "people don't take trips - trips take people." I love this so much because, I gotta tell you, before I went to Spain let's just say my idea of dining out and getting creative with food was Flat Top Grill.  No offense if you are into that place.  But that's how far Momma has come!  

For me, traveling is all about the shared experience that stops time when you can truly enjoy the moment: whether it's toasting micheladas on the beach in Costa Rica, enjoying an elegant dinner in the Chianti countryside, eating barbecue at a dive in Nashville, sharing beers while watching the sunset over the Alhambra or taking a "staycation" cooking class in sweet home Chicago - these are the special snapshots with my friends that I keep close to heart.  And, I love that I have been able to share my travels with so many of my girlfriends - and through these adventures; our tastes evolve, our appreciation for new experiences evolve and our quest for culinary adventures (especially in our own kitchens) evolve.  Ultimately though, by traveling and traveling together, WE evolve - individually and together as friends.
Micheladas happened here...

So, what's the next adventure, you may ask???  If you are, in fact, still reading this beast!

France, baby!  Paris, Bordeaux and beyond in 2013!!  This time, the guys are going to join us.  Oh, and perhaps there might be a little wedding ceremony while we're there...

Ciao for now,