Friday, February 25, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

File this one away under "Ridiculously Good".    I say this without the slightest bit of exaggeration.   My pet peeve for recipes that claim to be the best ever (ever. ever. ever.) keeps me cautious on my use of superlatives.

I am one of those strange women who never enjoyed chocolate until my thirties, when some massive hormonal shift took over and swayed my taste.    I didn't like ground beef either, but that's a different story and completely unappetizing in the context of chocolate.

The cravings started with those those little volcano chocolate cakes with the melting centers.  These did the job until they started appearing on menus everywhere and quality took a nosedive.    As a rule, I now only order "the volcano" when the menu requires a twenty minute lead time, otherwise, I don't bother.

Lately, I have been looking for a chocolate dessert that I can serve at home.   A dinner party staple.   Something easy, but, fabulous.   This is the recipe.    A layer of buttery chocolaty crust, topped with a truffle like (extremely rich) interior, brushed with a thin layer of fresh raspberry preserves and finished with a smooth dark chocolate glaze.    

Smooth, rich, creamy chocolate heaven.   Seriously.  The best dessert I've ever made.  

Thursday, February 24, 2011

French Inspired Wedding Table and Decor

Walking into the Conservatory following cocktail hour was one of several moments in my wedding that took my breath away.   I literally shed a tear as I stood at the head of the table with John and scanned the length of the table filled with roses and twinkling with creamy candlelight.  

It was the moment when my vision for my wedding became real.  From the start of our planning, I wanted our wedding meal to be the highlight, an intimate and formal dinner party with French inspired decor filled with romance, fabulous food and our closest family.  

Image by Visio Photography

One of the reasons we chose the Conservatory at the Biltmore in Asheville as our wedding reception venue was the simple gorgeousness of the greenhouse.   The backdrop of the lush greenery provided just the right amount of natural elegance for our wedding dinner.

Image by Visio Photography

Our wedding colors were champagne, blush, ivory and gold.    Hundreds of roses in muted shades in square vases ran down the length of the central table draped with with champagne and ivory linens and set with gold rimmed place settings.  We chose simple ivory candles intermingled among the roses.  Menus and place cards in the same soft color scheme.   (If you are in North Carolina, both Salutations and Laura at Yellow House Calligraphy were a dream to work with.  All flowers by Blossoms at Biltmore Park.)

Everyone says that your wedding day goes by so fast.   They are right, of course.   So you try and take moments to breathe it all in and mentally capture images to carry with you after it is all over.     Looking around at my new husband and family laughing and having fun in this gorgeous setting is a memory I will have for a lifetime.  

Image by Visio Photography

I'd love to hear about your wedding and from those of you that may be in the midst of planning now.   What moments in your wedding took your breath away?    What was or is your vision of your wedding day?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Collards, (Bacon), White Beans and Quinoa

I could just feel the disappointment as the words came out. 

"What's for dinner?"

In hindsight, I might have approached it a little differently.   Perhaps a better sales pitch like one might sell broccoli to a kid.     But I went for it straightforward. 

"Collards.   Quinoa.   White Beans."

"Oh.   Do we have any bread?"   (Code for, "I'd like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich instead.")

"No really.   It's good.   You'll like it.   I put bacon in it."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Romantic Weekend in Asheville

John surprised me with a return trip to Asheville this past weekend, our first visit since the wedding.   All the wonderful memories came flooding back and I am thrilled that we have this special place to come back to.    It makes the decision to not be married in Italy all the more worthwhile!

A gorgeous North Carolina weekend.   Bright blue skies.   Crisp air.   (See the moon up there?)  I felt like a bear crawling out from hibernation, finally.   

Monday, February 14, 2011

Strawberry and Vanilla Cupcakes

I like pink.

(Not afraid to say it.)

I also like pretty sparkly things and dinner by candlelight.

I like long walks on the beach and romantic sunsets.

(For the record, I like Justin Beiber too.   (Yes, I know.))

So, naturally, I love Valentine's day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Perfect Day in Paris

For something a little different today, sharing this lovely collection of Parisian photography!

I need to go back. Soon.


Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wedding Ceremony - Butterfly Garden Biltmore Estate

Our ceremony location, the Butterfly Garden at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.    A beautiful late afternoon in October.    We were so incredibly lucky with the weather that weekend.   In my pre-wedding weather stalking, there were constant reports of snow, rain and ice storms, none of which transpired!    We did prepare by stocking up on last minute blankets for our guests which we didn't need either, but better to be prepared than not!

I asked my dad and my brother to walk me down the aisle.    Partially due to the stairs and the four inch heels, but mostly because I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.    


Photography by Visio Photography

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Our Wedding - The Getaway Car

A few more of our favorite wedding images by Visio Photography ... on our way to the the ceremony location at the Biltmore in our getaway car, the personal vehicle of Dan McIntyre in Asheville.   (Isn't it beautiful?)  

For what its worth, the car wasn't my idea, but I was so very happy that we chose it as we had so much fun driving around Asheville with Dan both before and after the wedding.   (It is too bad I can't show you the 'after' images as this part was especially fun!)   Thanks to Emily at Occasions by Emily for the recommendation and to Dan for sharing his first love with us!  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Our Asheville Wedding - Before the Ceremony

I'm very excited to (finally) start sharing some more of the professional images from our Asheville wedding and some more of the details that I've been saving up!   I've gushed in the past about our wonderful photography team at Visio Photography.  They are responsible for all of these gorgeous shots!   

This first series were taken before the ceremony. 

Serenity Eyre from Makeup at the Grove Arcade was truly a dream to work with!    HIGHLY recommend if you are looking for a Makeup artist in the Asheville area.    A beautiful person inside and out and such a calming presence.   One of many who made my day very special.  

Had to sneak in a pre-ceremony kiss or two... 

Taken right after our "First Look".    I am so in love with this shadow image.   

At the Biltmore, a few minutes before we met everyone at the ceremony site.   

Thanks again to James and Jenny at Visio for the amazing photography and for making our day so very special!    Stay tuned for more details in the coming days!