This last weekend I had the amazing experience posing for the super talented Justin Goode as he broke in his new Burke & James Grover 8×10 view camera. I was fortunate to meet Justin and his beautiful wife Synthia at our photo shoot exactly one year ago and I’ve been hooked on his work ever since. The photo shoot took place over the entire weekend and I’m proud to say what came out of it is something truly unique! Check it out!!! 🙂

Justin Goode

About a year ago, I was surfing the Craigslist photo ads here in Dallas and up came an ad for a free 8×10 view camera.  I quickly emailed the person and within 15 minutes I received a message back.  A gentlemen was moving out of town who had an old Burke & James Grover 8×10 that he had been meaning to restore & use but had never got around to it.   He asked me if I was into large format and stated that he really wanted this camera to go to the right home.  I enthusiastically conveyed to him that I was the right person and would eventually make my way up into the world of large format.

The Burke & James Grover is a utilitarian view camera that is meant to get the job done.  It doesn’t have some of the bells & whistles that current 8×10’s have…

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The Elixir of Life is in Napa Valley – Day 4

I couldn’t think of a better way to end our trip then in beautiful Napa Valley. My only regret – not having enough time in the wine country. I guess that means we’ll just have to come back sooner then later!

The Highlights:

Micheal and Sissy at The Gables Inn Sausalito: What an amazing place to stay and a wonderful staff. From the wine and cheese hour with Sissy to breakfast on the sunny patio every morning, I will definitely come back and stay at this quaint bed and breakfast!

Morimoto Napa: After a slow start to the day we finally made it to Napa. While cruising through the adorable downtown we were beyond excited to see a restaurant from THE Iron Chef himself, Morimoto. The sleek and modern restaurant did not disappoint with some of the best sushi, sorry THE, best sushi I’ve ever had. From the deconstructed Toro Tartare, down to the traditional Spicy Tuna Roll, there was nothing ordinary about the Iron Chef’s cuisine. Absolutely divine!!

PlumpJack Winery: A beautiful winery in Napa and a perfect way to start the day. The wine was impeccable, especially the Syrah!

Chateau Montelena: After getting lost in the Bothe-Napa Valley State Park, driving through the winding mountainous roads, we finally made it to the gorgeous Chateau Montelena for a quick grounds tour and of course, some amazing vino! Interesting fact: until our visit I always thought Rieslings to be overly sweet, not anymore. The Montelena Riesling is crisp, subtle and definitely worth buying a bottle on your way out (the Zinfandel as well).

Cornerstone Cellars: What a happy accident! When the Hill Family tasting room was closing they sent us across the street to sip wine with local sommelier, Allison. The wine, of course, was delicious but most of all Allison was completely charming and a joy to spend our last few hours in Napa with.

Scoma’s Sausalito: After bidding adieu to the wine country we topped off an amazing trip with another fine meal at Scoma’s in Sausalito. The seafood in California is beyond anything you can get in Texas. I could seriously eat fish and sushi everyday if I lived here. The clam chowder and popcorn shrimp were an odd combination for an appetizer but rich and delicious. Matt had some mouth watering Halibut served over steamed spinach and potatoes, drizzled with a pesto cream sauce. I had the crab and shrimp stuffed sole smothered in a lobster sauce with steamed veggies and rice….amazing!!! We were too stuffed for dessert so we ordered some to go. When we got back to the room we opened the box to find not just our cheesecake, but a chocolate tart with raspberry sauce and a note that said “Enjoy Best of Both”!

Thank you Sausalito, San Francisco, and Napa Valley for giving us another memorable trip to reminisce about! Until next time!!

Sunburns, Baseball & the Painted Ladies in San Francisco – Day 3

 

Sunburned and exhausted we woke up in Sausalito to day 3 of our trip to San Francisco. One delicious continental breakfast (I had to have my daily danish) and one missed ferry later we hopped the bus on our way to AT&T park. Decked out in our Texas Rangers gear we caught the attention of a fellow Texan riding the bus. It was interesting to hear his stories of traveling all over the world and finally landing in San Fran, “the greatest place to live in the United States”.

After making a few friends we found our stop and hoofed it to the ballpark just in time to take our seats in the blazing sun. Of course they were experiencing above average temperatures and my sunburn was protesting. After a few innings we made our way into the concourse and I must say, I had the best stadium hot dog of my life! San Francisco has definitely met all of my culinary expectations. After taking some pictures of the gorgeous ballpark and rooting the Rangers on to a solid win we took to the streets to explore on our last full day in San Fran.

We stopped for a pint in Union Square to take in a little people watching and cool our skin under the shade. A final jaunt on the hop-on-hop bus took us to Alamo Square and the famous Painted Ladies. The houses were beautiful and the park was a perfect spot to camp out on a late sunny afternoon. We continued on foot through the gorgeous Pacific Heights neighborhood. Between the vibrant flowers, luscious parks and hilltop mansions I found myself falling completely in love with this city.

It was nice to get lost amongst the quiet neighborhoods, away from all the tourists, and dream about the history and culture of the old Victorian homes that lined the streets. We eventually made it back to the water and a gorgeous trail that gave us one last sunset view of the Golden Gate bridge and Alcatraz. The evening was topped off with another delicious meal at Cioppino’s on Fisherman’s Wharf and an Irish coffee at The Buena Vista.

Next stop, my personal Disney Land – Napa Valley!

Eating My Way Through San Francisco – Day 2

 

Breakfast Pastries. Performing Pooches. Crystal Waters. Vibrant Flowers. Pearl White Birds. Sailboats. Alcatraz. The Golden Gate Bridge. Fisherman’s Wharf. Seafood. Sourdough Bread. Pride. China Town. The Stinking Rose. Trolleys. Weddings. Boudin. Pier 39. Herb Caen Way. Architecture. Tadich Grill. Oysters. Cioppino. The Buena Vista. Irish Coffee.

San Francisco!

Heaven is in Sausalito: Day 1

A Golden Gate meets sun kissed skies that seep beneath the sea
A simple rose greets new friends with sinful grapes and cheese
Wealth marries the cliffs adorned with glass that see into the streets
As lovers stroll, hand-in-hand into the crisp night breeze
Adventures and time fight to steel the travelers thoughts and dreams
And San Francisco sheepishly awaits the next day’s escapades

Foodie in France – Day 12 and 13: Cannes and Nice

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I must say again…where has the time gone? Total blog fail on my part for not posting my final days in France. Ever since we left in October I feel like the last two and a half months have been a giant blur. With the new year approaching I’m making it my goal to incorporate my blog into my daily life. So here we go….

Since this is my final post on one of the most fabulous trips of  my life I thought I would treat it more like a pictorial diary. So without further ado here is a recount of my final days in Cannes and Nice, France.

Day 12: Cannes

Our 14 day trip to France was winding down and on the twelfth day we decided to take a day trip to Cannes. Before we left for Europe we were told by quite a few people that Cannes is one of the least spectacular places on the French Riviera.

The city, best known for the Cannes Film Festival, brings the most beautiful and famous movie stars from all over the world to the famous steps of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès every year. Spectators line the streets of the exquisite Promenade de la Croisette to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.

The short trek from the train station to the water front was pretty disappointing. The city was dirty and quite run-down in a lot of areas. Once we got closer to the famous Promenade the eloquent swag of the Luis Vuitton and Gucci adorned street was felt in the air.

The Promenade de la Croisette sits between two very impressive harbors and is home to many exquisite shops, hotels, and restaurants that overlook the Mediterranean. After a few hours of window shopping we headed to the docks of the harbor to admire the million dollar yachts. While discussing which prominent dignitary and celebrity owned which yacht (pure speculation of course) we stumbled upon the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès and the hundreds of celebrity hand prints that grace the walkways.

We had a great day in Cannes but it was nice to get back to Nice in time for some night time exploration and exquisite cuisine.

Daily Nosh

Another fabulous French breakfast full of meats, eggs, bread, and cheese and
a late afternoon snack of mussels and French Fries with a side bottle of Chablis.

For dinner – one of the best meals I’ve had the entire trip!

  • Wine: Pouilly-Fume
  • My Dinner: Sea bass coated in an amazing cream sauce on a bed of fresh arugula and grilled red onions
  • Matt’s Dinner: Succulent duck soaked in creamy gravy served with potatoes and arugula salad
  • Dessert: Creme Brulee (of course) and cappuccino
  • Night Cap: Guinness at the Irish Pub down the street!

Day 13: Nice (Last full Day)

Our first few days in Nice were filled with rainy excursions and plenty of time spent in the hotel room and restaurants. So the last day was spent exploring the fabulous city of Nice…and it was a gorgeous day.

Sitting here recanting the final day is happy and sad in it’s own way. A trip of a lifetime with my best friend in the entire world was filled with nothing but fabulous moments, magical places, and the most breathtaking wine and food I could ever dream of. So for our final day in Nice less is more…I will let the moments speak for themselves through my lens.

The waters of the French Riviera were different, beautiful shades of blue. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

The city is separated into Old Town and the newer parts of Nice. The Old Town was where we spent most of our time. The shopping and food was unbelievable.

The city was so vibrant, literally, and full of life. The streets were filled with antique shops, flower shops, and patio cafes full of onlookers drinking their afternoon espresso.

The harbor was my favorite area. I could site and stare out at the beautiful ocean for hours.

Nice has an indescribable charm. From the rocky beaches to the ancient buildings filling the city with color…it’s magical!

Daily Nosh:

Breakfast: Our final French breakfast of eggs, cheese, bread and fruit.
Snack: French Fries and Mayo!!

Dinner at la Voglia:

Wine: Morando Chianti
Appetizer: Mozzarella Platter served three ways with a side salad

My Dinner: Lobster and bow tie pasta in a creamy tomato sauce topped with parsley
Matt’s Dinner: Rigatoni Pasta with Beef Ragu
Dessert: Chocolate and coffee ice cream piled high with whipped cream

France

I miss Paris and the elegance that fills the air. I miss Beaune and how the wine warms the soul. I miss the crystal waters and snow peaked mountains of Annecy. I miss the history of Nice and the opulence of Monaco. I miss how the French Riviera pulls you in like a bad habit. I miss France.

Adieu!

Foodie in France – Day 1: Paris

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Our trip has finally begun! For the last three years Matt and I have been planning a dream trip to Europe. Unfortunately we only have two weeks so we decided to limit our travel time and stay in one country. We’ve both spent some significant time in Italy in the past so France it is!! What more could a foodie ask for then a country known for its decadent wine and impeccable cuisine. Let the drinking and feasting begin!

The itinerary:
• Paris
• Beaune – Burgundy Wine Country
• Lyon
• Nice

Our adventure started with an overnight flight direct to Paris. I have to give a shout-out to American Airlines. I haven’t been very pleased lately with the level of service on flights these days and the evening started with our flight being delayed almost two hours. Not only was the food good on the flight, but due to the inconvenience drinks were free the entire flight!! A few glasses of wine and some surprisingly delicious food later…it was time for a movie and an attempt at some sleep.

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