Thursday, December 8, 2016

Fez, Morocco

As I mentioned in my post about the Riad Idrissy, the city of Fez first entered my travel radar following a Conde Nast Traveler article about "living like royalty" in Morocco. While I was far from naive enough to believe that all of Fez would be cushy and luxurious, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. As it turns out, visiting this city was one of the most intense, stimulating, and memorable travel experience of my life.

Fes el Bali Medina, the maze-like walled Arabic city center, is not only a UNESCO world heritage site, but also the largest car-free urban area in the world. The scene in the medina was an assault on all five senses: teeming with people, filled with gut-checking smells, and completely enclosed from the open air. Intense, but incredible. I have never felt like more of an outsider, but have also never learned so much from a new place.

Aside from the time in our beautiful riad, there were plenty of other opportunities to escape the pandemonium. Touring the peaceful Al-Attarine Madrasa, an Islamic school built in 1323, was an amazing educational interlude. Sipping wine on the rooftop of Riad Fes with its panoramic views, taking a quiet moment in the courtyard of Riad Laaroussa, slipping into tourist-friendly Cafe Clock for a snack and a beer provided respite from the busy streets.

Fez was crazy and beautiful and scary and wonderful and beyond anything I could have ever imagined. Though cliché, it's a place I'll truly never forget.

EAT // 7-hour lamb at The Ruined GardenMaison Moi Anon (Thai)
DRINK // Riad Fes, Cafe Clock
STAY // Riad Idrissy 
SEE // Al-Attarine Madrasa
DO // Shop the Fes el Bali Medina

Views from the rooftop of Riad Fes with a bottle of Domain de Sahari Gris (our wine of choice for the trip)

The courtyard of Riad Laaroussa
Shops in the supremely chaotic medina
Al-Attarine Madrasa
Maison Moi Anon Thai Restaurant
Only a little ashamed to be taking selfies in an ancient holy school...

Friday, December 2, 2016

30.30.60 Party

As hard as it is for me to come to terms with, I turned 30 this summer. I'm not sure how that happened, since I'm pretty sure I was 23 just a few months ago, but it did. Because this milestone fell right after Adam's 30th, and right before my mother-in-law Jan's 60th, we decided this trifecta was occasion for a seriously big-time party.

With the help of our sweet planner, Beth from 36th Street Events, we selected the very cool and impeccably decorated South Congress Hotel for the venue. The hotel's vibe is in line with my style, and the event space itself was a totally blank indoor/outdoor slate. Every guest I spoke with was blown away by the in-house catering; from the selection of passed appetizers to the taco bar, raw bar, and the underdog favorite selection of salads, every bit of food was truly fine-dining quality. Along with the must-have open bar, we each had a signature cocktail, each of which was incredibly made by the bar team.

We worked with Loot Vintage Rentals to design custom soft seating areas throughout the space, complete with midcentury modern furniture, mixed pattern textiles, and vintage rugs (swoon!). I wanted to take literally everything home for my house. They also provided a gorgeous wood bar, beautiful hanging pieces like the picture below, and plenty of accessories. Most guests were shocked when I told them the furniture setups weren't a permanent part of the space.

The entertainment was a blast as the band, Blind Date, was absolutely perfect, covering a huge range of crowd-pleasing music from classic throwbacks to Beyonce. And of course, a Smilebooth never hurts, either. Having a joint party ended up being hugely fun, as it mixed all kinds of people together for one big celebration, and it was definitely one for the ages.

Dress: For Love & Lemons

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Cookie Butter Cheesecake Mousse

This just might be the best bang-for-your-buck dessert recipe I've ever made, in both money and effort spent. With just a handful of ingredients, no cooking or baking required, and less than 20 minutes total to assemble, you really can't beat it. Plus, it tastes like cookie butter, which inexplicably tastes like fall to me. These are great for entertaining too because you can make everything a few hours ahead of time and have it ready to go in the fridge. And to Trader Joe's, thank you for making such a magical product.

Cookie Butter Cheesecake Mousse
Makes 6-8 Servings

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe's Cookie Butter
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1/2 cup Biscoff cookies, or gingersnaps 
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • Whipped cream and cinnamon for serving
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat whipping cream until soft peaks form.
  2. To the same bowl, add the cream cheese, cookie butter, and sugar and beat until smooth.
  3. Crumble cookies and mix with the melted butter, press mixture into bottom of shot glasses or serving vessel.
  4. Add mousse mixture to a large Ziploc bag, cut the corner off and pipe into glasses. 
  5. Top with whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Bora Bora {Part Three}

In truth, this post has one purpose, and that is to share more of the thousands of photos sitting on my laptop needing to be seen. I've already posted about our incredible hotel, and some things to do while there, so let's just call this post "Sunrises and Sunsets". While exploring the island was fun, my favorite part of the entire trip was just watching the sky's endless array of colors from sun up to sun down, whether from the deck of our bungalow or from paddle boards and kayaks. Watching the horizon change from pretty pastels every morning to deep, rich jewel tones at sunset was so much prettier than any picture.