Posts Tagged ‘Food and Drink’

Travel Diary: Desert Renewal in Mesa, Arizona – Day 3

Mesa Arizona Superstition Mountains

We started day 3 of our desert renewal headed to Mesa, Arizona. Mesa is suburb of Phoenix, but to visitors the city isn’t as known as say Scottsdale. That is changing. Mesa is full of fun things to do such as hiking and biking tours, yoga at Usury park, birding tours, canyon lake cruises, and apache trail rides. Day 3 was full of good food and another spa adventure. (I can never get enough of a spa). I really believe the best way to get to know a city is through its food.

Breakfast was at Vincent’s Market Bistro which is host a widely popular Saturday Farmer’s Market. Chef Vincent Guerithault is Phoenix’s French rockstar chef. He’s been holding court for over 20 years and combines his classic French-style cooking with Arizona’s Southwestern cuisine. He’s a James Beard award-winning chef. which in my opinion makes him a big food deal. I had an omelet which I forgot to take a photo before I devoured it. After living in Paris I am still convinced the French make the best omelets.


After a hearty breakfast it was time for some pampering at Fuchsia Day Spa. Fuchsia is such a lovely day spa that I really want to go back and have another service. The staff was pleasant and my mssage was incredible. I can never have too many massages. The spa’s boutique had these divine handmade candles and I left with a few goodies including this body oil.

{I love all the girly-ness of the spa}



You would think after such a lovely breakfast we wouldn’t be ready for lunch. But when lunch is at Joyride Taco House it wasn’t hard to get my appetite ready again. Au contraire. At the mention of tacos I was ready to eat again. It must be the Texan in me, because I really miss good tacos, Tex-Mex, and overall Southwest food. I was able to get my fix while sipping on multiple aqua frescas.

{Joyride Taco House Menu}



{Mexican Corn – I can never get enough}


After finishing another great lunch we headed to our new hotel – Hilton Phoenix/Mesa for regroup, unwind, and catch up on emails. It was only a few hours before we were headed out again to Queen Creek Olive Mill for their Italian inspired dinner. Yes, in Mesa Queen Creek makes olive oil. And it’s good. I was a little surprised by the quality of the olive oil. I’m such an olive oil snob because I use a separate olive for cooking and one for salads. Olive oil can be tasted in the same way wine can and it has just as many complexities.

Queen Creek also uses their olive oil in a multitude of beauty products. It didn’t take much for all of girls to start ooh-ing, aww-ing, swabbing, and slathering the products on our skin. I left with their lotion oil stick in lavender rose. Ladies, please order this product. It’s worth every cent and hearing the story and background from Brenda made me really want to support this local and smart brand.

It was another great day in the desert.





{Everything’s better with bacon, right?}


{Dinner under stars and lights}



Disclosure: I was a guest of Visit Mesa Tourism. All opinions are my own.

Feasting Pretty: Smirnoff Ice Peach Bellini

Smirnoff Peach Bellini

I was introduced to the Smrirnoff Ice drinks a few years ago by my cousin. My father-in-law started bringing them to all our parties and I became a fan. I like to change up my beverage selections at our parties and make it easy so I’m not in the kitchen mixing drinks all day. I can’t wait to introduces Peach Bellinis next month to the family. It’s not too sweet, but has the right amount of peach flavor that leaves you wanting more. Make sure you have a designated driver around because these can sneak up on you.

I plan on adding the Peach Bellini to my beach cooler when we hit Ocean City in July.

“Summertime and the living is easy!” ~ George Gershwin

This Beautimous Life: May 17, 2013

This has been a busy week, but it has been so much fun. I was able to catch the preview of Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf, get fitted for a beautiful Wacoal bra, and meet up with old friends at a style event. The weekend is full as well, but I’m thankful. I’m really a lucky girl and definitely live a beautimous life. I have a few items that are bringing me so much joy this week. It features a good book, a fabulous bottle of wine, and a new fragrance that is perfect for warm summer nights. Also, I’m a little obsessed with A Beautiful Mess photo app so get used to seeing them on the blog. I love the fonts and the doodles. So girly.

{The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro}

As a true perfume collector this story is engaging and deeply satisfying for me. I have marked pages of fabulous quotes from the book. I put a few other books to the side to delve into this book. The review is coming later. But it’s described as a “a secret history of scent, memory and desire.” I want you to buy or download this book immediately.

The Perfume Collector Book

{Claret by Coppola Winery}

I was at a Coppola Winery and Ruth Chris’ Steakhouse media dinner a few weeks ago and the wine that stood out for me was the Claret. If you are a Cabernet fan you will love this wine.

Coppola Claret Wine

{Jour d’Hermès Eau de Parfum}

Jean Claude Elena has done it again. I enjoy wearing Hermès fragrances and the latest fragrance has been added to the arsenal. It’s floral, but isn’t overpowering. It doesn’t have those sickly sweet notes either. Gorgeous.Hermes Jour d'Hermes Fragrance

Feasting Pretty: Remy Martin XO Cognac

I have a confession to make. I really didn’t drink spirits until I met my husband. Yes, I had a whiskey, cognac, and scotch here and there. But, really savoring and enjoy a spirit, well wasn’t my thing. I am a wine girl. I love wine and believe one glass a day is actually good for my health. It has something to do with resveratrol. It started years ago when we went to Jerez, Spain to Tio Pepe and sampled Sherry. Whoa! What is this delicious goodness in a bottle. We were all over the Cavas and Riojas that Spain is known for, but I really enjoyed that Sherry. This caused me to branch out even more.

On a girls’ trip back from Cancun in 2008 I decided to get the Remy Martin XO Premier Cru Cognac. I felt I was in the big leagues now. I arrived home all brown and bronzed from my trip and ready to show The Don that I could hold my own. After one sip I realized I had been missing out. Why hadn’t I drank spirits before? Were they all like this? Well, every time I’m passing through duty free you know what I pick up? You got it. Remy Martin XO Cognac.

I can hear your thoughts now. Julia, really? Aren’t you a yogi! Yes and yes.  It is 2012. Let us break out of the mold of the “I only drink wine that is sweet.” Although those are great live a little. Step out of your comfort zone. I wait for your emails confirming your enjoyment.

I’m in Paris and will definitely have cognac as a night cap with my girls.

Reading Pretty: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

Chef crush alert. I have a huge “chef crush” on Marcus Samuelsson. It started years ago when I first ate at Aquavit in New York. Then it morphed into a slight food obsession. The next thing I knew I’m looking at his Ethiopian cookbook and thinking I could create these amazing dishes. His falafel recipe is the easy and quick to make. I am reading Yes, Chef; Marcus’ memoir of his early childhood in Sweden, his grueling work in the kitchens of France, Top Chef Masters Winner, and finally New York food darling. I can really get into a food memoir and this is one of the best.

Feasting Pretty: Why I’m Addicted to My Breville Juice Fountain Plus

I am sure you know by now that this juice craze isn’t going away. I am not the person who drinks juices for days and don’t eat. I know many people do juice fasting/cleansing, but it is not my thing. I juice as an addition to healthy and clean eating. I remember when I watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and was intrigued by the director being on an extended juice fast. I had started to read the benefits on juicing and knew deep down my body needed it. Juicing is different than making smoothies. Juicing extracts juice. But, I waited many months to actually purchase a juicer.

Over the pass few years le husband and I decided to eat whole foods and few processed foods. The freshest and best we can afford. Is it a little more costly? Yes. But, I can’t give it up. My skin has never looked better. I feel great and since we are on the other side of thirty we are preserving the sexy. I didn’t realize that juicing would change me. Whoa! I am seriously addicted. As much as I love coffee, I have a caffeine sensitivity. Even half a cup at 3pm had me counting sheep at midnight. I went to decaf because I love the flavor of coffee, but I still wanted to see if I could get the juice high that I read about.

So I ordered me a juicer from Breville (seriously the machine is so simple, easy to clean, and worth every cent). Breville’s are a true luxury juicer. When I grow up I am going to get the mack-daddy juicer by Breville. For now I have the Juice Fountain Plus and couldn’t be happier. As much as I am on the go, I try to stick to fresh foods, but it is hard when traveling so much. Eating well is easier when I’m the one doing the shopping and cooking. The minute I return home it is all about the juice. For me I don’t like straight green juice. I need some sweetness. But, I have found the combination that works, gives me a jolt, and is delicious.

I think the key for juicing is having clean vegetables and fruits for juicing. I have friends who laugh at me, but after I “make” groceries (Southern terminology for going to the market) I wash and store everything. If you have to wash kale before you juice it more than likely it is not going to happen. Preparation is key. With so much fruit available this time of year, it is a great time to start.I haven’t completely given up meat (that will NOT happen), but I am eating less meat and only sustainable meat products.

If beauty starts within, I think juicing may be my fountain of youth. Happy juicing.

Julia’s Green Juice

{All products are organic. I drink mine over ice – room temperature green juice is not good.}

7 stalks of curly kale (I tried with Tuscan and didn’t like it)
2 handle of spinach (stuff the spinach between two pieces of kale so they don’t go floating around the juicer
4 carrots
1 apple (2 makes it even sweeter)
1 lemon
*1 beet will turn the juice red and give it a little more sweetness. You can always substitute oranges or pineapple for sweetness.

Feasting Pretty: La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook

The beauty of traveling to places like France is returning home with a sense that I need more nesting in my life. I seriously need time to play. Play with my beauty products and food. I loved the retreat because it allowed someone else to handle the plans. I loved relaxing at the villa in Provence, the fresh food, the laughter, and the time to share food with friends who I now consider family. It has been a busy few months and I have decided that July will be a time of nesting for me. I need to get back to the farmer’s market, cooking, feasting, more cooking, napping, and enjoying summer because I have a busy fall.

I have been following La Tartine Gourmande’s blog for awhile. I love her approach to cooking. She uses fresh ingredients, food presentation that is gorgeous to look at, and loves to share her food with her family and friends. I had her cookbook on my wishlist for a few months and I decided to take the plunge and purchase it last night. La Tartine Gourmande Cookbook will make its way to my kitchen just in time for all the beautiful produce at my farmer’s market and the countless food magazines on summer cooking. I’m looking forward to creating her recipes, dining on my patio with my honey, and enjoying summer.

I brought home a few of these food goodies from France and I can’t wait to test them out. Shout out in advance to the husband for being my taste tester.

Garlic & red pepper mustard from Maille
 Herbes de Provence sea salt
fresh white wine mustard from Maille
French olive oil

{Watch this video. If it doesn’t make you want to nest I don’t know what will.}

Happy Wednesday.

Feasting Pretty: PX Speakeasy ~ Alexandria, Virginia

I visited PX Speakeasy for a few hours with my friend Marcia Frost. Marcia was in town doing a story for a magazine and she asked moi to tag along for some of the feasting and sipping. How could I resist. Yoga and food are two of my favorite things outside of beauty and travel. On a chilly Thursday night we made our way to Todd Thrasher’s PX Speakeasy where their motto is “Listen to the ice.”

What is a speakeasy you ask? A speakeasy was a place that sold alcoholic beverages during Prohibition. Well, PX is legal, open to the public, and some of the best homemade cocktails I have had in a long time. After tasting THE best Manhattan of my life, I knew PX was different. It definitely made me want to work on my mixology skills at home. I’m thankful that Todd has Society Fair where I can purchase his house-made cherry bittars and other food accoutrements to make this happen.

I was never a Manhattan girl. It took a beach trip to Ocean City with my husband’s family to change my tune. Grandma Peggy loves a classic Manhattan and wanted me to try one. After that first sip I was hooked. I can’t wait to take Grandma to PX so she experience this version and fall in love with it too.

{ice cubes chill the glass in preparation for the perfect cocktail}

{Norfolk Dumpling ~ made with homemade duck sauce soda, tequila, house-made cherry bittars,
and a few other special items}

{“My Wife’s Manhattan” ~ Maker’s Mark, house-made cherry bittars , and house-made sweet vermouth}

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