Frantopia

There will Never be Utopia without Youtopia.

Tipsy Eels and Cigar Boxes.

Eels have extra large taste buds—did you know that?!

I’ve just started to read, The Instant Wine Connoisseur, by Mervyn L. Hecht. Obviously the first thing I would take away from the book is probably the most irrelevant. So what did I learn about wine today? That I’m jealous of eels because they have big taste buds? Great start Frances.

Even though my taste buds aren’t as large as those of eels, I am quite an avid ‘taster’ (and size probably has nothing to do with tasting ability anyways, but I will have to do some more eel research to let you know the answer on that one). I love tasting— probably the reason why I’m no longer hungry by the time my dinner is cooked and why I am already a bit tipsy after making my first cocktail. Oops!

I find flavor to be incredibly captivating. I believe that this is why I so often take on the role of ‘mixologist,’ whether it be when making drinks for friends or when throwing together a meal.

I’m beginning, however, to recognize the difference between mixing and extracting flavors. I do a lot of mixing of flavors, but what about extracting—deciphering what exactly the flavors are that I am tasting? Wines of course pose an extra challenge because you are trying to extract ‘hints of this’ and ‘overtones of that.’ Of course this wine is reminiscent of dark chocolate and cherries. Obviously this one tastes like cigar box. Do I even know what cigar box tastes like? This brings up how interconnected all of our senses are, and how vital smell is to any flavor we taste.

But regardless of whether one can tell that a wine tastes of cigar box and/or black current, truly taking the time to fully taste what we are drinking or eating is something worth looking into. Our fast-pasted lifestyles seem to have left behind the ‘tasteful’ tradition of actually listening to our telling taste buds. I will spare you of yet another comparison of French culture to American culture, but the French certainly do have an appreciation for food and drink that we seem to be lacking over here in the USA. 

Cheers to finding cigar boxes in our glass of wine and to the eels that have allowed us to discover more about what makes our taste buds so wonderful and special!

Bookmark and Share
Today is a day for red nails and cream-colored cashmere; let’s warm the winter blues.

Today is a day for red nails and cream-colored cashmere; let’s warm the winter blues.

Bookmark and Share
Thanks for the fun times NYC, see you soon. Much Love, Fran.

Thanks for the fun times NYC, see you soon. Much Love, Fran.

Bookmark and Share

Forgotten: The Imperfect Postard.

Even the barbed wire had begun to decay. The graffitied walls were the only color against the gloomy backdrop. Discarded cinderblocks, insulation, and car parts littered the dirty melting snow. Fog hovered over everything; the ground was cooler than the air. Grapevines and gnarly trees were reminiscent of a charcoal drawing, gently receding into the fog. Factory buildings stripped of their function left their vulnerable secrets exposed to everyone and no one. A pile of broken chairs and pieces lay at the base of a barren building—thrown out just before the whole building was to be left, forgotten.

Something about all of this imperfect postcard view from the train is incredibly mesmerizing…

Bookmark and Share

The Cooler Way to Walk.

Snowshoeing is totally the new walking. I love it. Why would you want to merely wonder the woods wearing snow boots when you could strap large rackets onto your feet!? I admit that it does seem a bit odd to desire a heftier load to trek around while on a wonderful winter walk, but there’s something special about it. And of course when in deep snow, snowshoes are supposedly making the walk easier.

Snowshoeing has become my new fun activity, so whether it’s me (attempting) to make it cool or just the cold snow making it cool, we are both on the same track if you know what I mean.

Vermont is lovely. It’s always a pleasant surprise to come back to the place I grew up and to realize how much I appreciate it; to recognize how lucky I am to have grown up here. And now I go snowshoeing of all things(!)—something that as a kid I scoffed at. 

As I stomp with my rackets through the woods, I watch the scenery of my childhood manifest into something that is more beautiful than I ever knew it was before.

Happy snowshoeing! Vermont 2013. 

Bookmark and Share
Frangelico and Lime. New favorite drink. Thank you Lia.

Frangelico and Lime. New favorite drink. Thank you Lia.

Bookmark and Share

2013

I didn’t write any resolutions for 2013. For some reason, it just didn’t feel right. Writing down a list of ‘to dos’ for 2013 just felt like dragging the dregs of 2012 into the freshness of the New Year.

I’m excited for 2013. It really does feel as though I am starting anew—as though I have stepped upon a clear slate or a blank canvas. A lot is going to happen this year and although all the ‘unknowns’ in my life had me slipping in and out of anxiety leading up to NYE, I somehow feel a bit of release now that it is officially the New Year. I don’t know what exactly 2013 is going to bring, but I’m excited to have let go of 2012 and to be completely immersed in 2013. 

Bookmark and Share
VT maple liqueur, Makers, lemon, chocolate bitters, a splash of soda water and a lemon twist, yum!

VT maple liqueur, Makers, lemon, chocolate bitters, a splash of soda water and a lemon twist, yum!

Bookmark and Share
And love my sister’s DIY projects… Thanks Lil!! @lillian_wilson

And love my sister’s DIY projects… Thanks Lil!! @lillian_wilson

Bookmark and Share
Love my sister’s wrapping @lillian_wilson

Love my sister’s wrapping @lillian_wilson

Bookmark and Share
The new partridge may no longer be in a pear tree… 
Although there are many who are no longer very religious, we tend to keep religious tradition around—Christmas being a big one. I’m not very religious, but I love Christmas. I love decorating. I love spending time with family. I love Santa. I love ugly Christmas sweaters. I love sitting by the fire. I love listening to Christmas music. I love tacky stocking gifts. I love great food. I love this season of red and green.
Perhaps it’s the repetition. It’s something to look forward to. It always comes at the same time of year, and it always is associated with the same colors.
Or maybe it’s the act of exchanging gifts—there is something incredibly rewarding about giving people gifts that you know they will love.
To me, the tradition has less to do with religion and more to do with an appreciation for those I am with and the generous acts of kindness we share whether it is tangible or intangible. Is this perhaps a reflection of a new sort of religion? A faith based simply on an appreciation for those around us and for what we have, and for what we can give? Or is this what religion is actually about? If you subtract the stories, remove the connotations…is there still a partridge in a pear tree??
There was certainly a partridge this year—but instead of being in a pear tree it was in my favorite flourless dark chocolate cake. I think I like the direction this tradition is going in.

The new partridge may no longer be in a pear tree… 

Although there are many who are no longer very religious, we tend to keep religious tradition around—Christmas being a big one. I’m not very religious, but I love Christmas. I love decorating. I love spending time with family. I love Santa. I love ugly Christmas sweaters. I love sitting by the fire. I love listening to Christmas music. I love tacky stocking gifts. I love great food. I love this season of red and green.

Perhaps it’s the repetition. It’s something to look forward to. It always comes at the same time of year, and it always is associated with the same colors.

Or maybe it’s the act of exchanging gifts—there is something incredibly rewarding about giving people gifts that you know they will love.

To me, the tradition has less to do with religion and more to do with an appreciation for those I am with and the generous acts of kindness we share whether it is tangible or intangible. Is this perhaps a reflection of a new sort of religion? A faith based simply on an appreciation for those around us and for what we have, and for what we can give? Or is this what religion is actually about? If you subtract the stories, remove the connotations…is there still a partridge in a pear tree??

There was certainly a partridge this year—but instead of being in a pear tree it was in my favorite flourless dark chocolate cake. I think I like the direction this tradition is going in.

Bookmark and Share
Italian Xmas Spritz. Bringing me back to Venice. Love.

Italian Xmas Spritz. Bringing me back to Venice. Love.

Bookmark and Share

Queen of Prep, Queen of Chaos.

I think it is interesting and insightful to compare my sister’s and my cooking habits.

Lillian is the queen of prep. All directions have been thoroughly understood prior to getting going. Everything is measured, poured, mixed, chopped, diced, minced and set aside; everything is ready before any pan or oven is heated.

I guess that makes me the queen of chaotic cooking? Maybe it sounds a little better to say, queen of creative chaotic cooking. Perhaps my haphazard habits stem from my desire to get things going. “Better get the onions and garlic sautéing while I chop the rest of these veggies.” Next comes the rush to get the other ingredients together so I can toss them into the overcooked onions and soon to be burnt garlic, all while hurriedly misreading the directions (if I am attempting to use a recipe at all).

Or maybe it’s just that I love allowing flavors and dish concepts to evolve freely and without constraint—to lead by taste and intuition.

I’m not very drawn to using recipes…okay, I’ll admit it, I’m really just not so good at following recipes. Perhaps I don’t like them because I’m not good at following them or maybe I’m not good at following them because I don’t like them, but regardless, it’s pretty hilarious to witness my consistent failure to follow a recipe correctly from start to finish.

I guess I would compare my cooking to someone who likes to improvise on the piano rather than read music (and yes, my example is a perfect reflection of how I was as a piano student as well).

This being said, I’m striving to take on a little more of my sister’s technique. I think it’s worth it for me to have a bit more patience for the prep and to thoroughly read through the recipe. I would like to expand my repertoire of meals that I throw together on a whim. In order to do this, I need to use more recipes. Goal for using more recipes: increase basic cooking techniques while also stocking up on inspiring tastes and flavors.

Creating a beautiful abstract piece of artwork necessitates a starting concept and an understanding for how to use whatever tools and materials at hand.

So here’s to building my skill and expertise in preparation for creating a new masterpiece!

Bookmark and Share
It was a good thing that I got to go to D.C. Not only was it a fun city to explore, but it reminded me of something important. I am one who is guilty of overlooking the splendor of our capitol and what it represents. Sometimes it seems it is too often tainted with never-ending political scandals and suffocating bipolarity to be recognized for what it is—a beautiful building housing historic ideas and inspirational footprints. We can find numerous flaws with our political system, but isn’t what we have amazing…and aren’t we lucky?

It was a good thing that I got to go to D.C. Not only was it a fun city to explore, but it reminded me of something important. I am one who is guilty of overlooking the splendor of our capitol and what it represents. Sometimes it seems it is too often tainted with never-ending political scandals and suffocating bipolarity to be recognized for what it is—a beautiful building housing historic ideas and inspirational footprints. We can find numerous flaws with our political system, but isn’t what we have amazing…and aren’t we lucky?

Bookmark and Share

Train Ride.

There is something especially soothing about being on a train. I love it. As the forgotten side of cities wiz by, I sit still. I have no worries as to where we are going. Time is stationary. I can stare for hours out the window, without care, without purpose, and without concern. 

Bookmark and Share
");pageTracker._trackPageview()}catch(err){}