Monday, January 9, 2017

A rainy day in Antwerp { & stay at Boulevard Leopold }

guest room details Boulevard Leopold bed & breakfast in Antwerp Antwerpen Belgium

After spending the past holidays at home, this winter we felt a sudden rather sentimental urge to hop across the pond for Christmas in the "old world" among family and friends.

And with the affordable last-minute airfares flying into Amsterdam, we decided to get on the plane a couple of days early for a pre-holiday detour ~ revisiting Amsterdam and Antwerp along the way.

After a chilly first day in Amsterdam and rainy day arrival in Antwerp, checking into Boulevard Leopold more than made up for gloomy skies, jet lag and tired eyes ...

Boulevard Leopold in Antwerp Antwerpen Belgium

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A cheese fondue under the moon and stars

We couldn't have asked for a more perfect first weekend of December: a crisp and sunny fall day turned into a glorious sunset and an almost balmy evening under the moon and stars. 

After a long beach walk everyone gathered in the backyard with a glass of wine or bottle of beer, watching the sun set over the ocean, while the kids set up a sidewalk stall selling "Sunset Lemonade", lighting fires in the Mexican chimenea on the patio and the wood burning stove inside the house, before sitting down along long tables set for an authentic Swiss cheese fondue ... along with new world additions like tomatoes, roasted potatoes and whole grain breads.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving picnic with friends

Thanksgiving Friendsgiving picnic

Even after calling California home for almost eighteen years now, I still have a somewhat ambiguous relationship with the Thanksgiving holiday.

As expat orphans we have been lucky to be graciously invited into friends' homes in the past. Our very first Thanksgiving at a friends' home in Sebastopol is still a fond memory, as is an alfresco dinner in an enchanted garden with the same friends many years later. In between there were Thanksgiving dinners in the desert, sharing the dinner table with other holiday orphans at a favorite desert hideaway. An escape to Big Sur and Thanksgiving at Big Sur Bakery. And two years ago I got to watch my friend Maxine set a rustic holiday table.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I { heart } San Francisco

SF AMATRICE Italy Earthquake Fundraiser San Francisco Piccino Dogpatch
SF AMATRICE Italy Earthquake Relief Fundraiser
 San Francisco. This pretty much sums up the experience of SF AMATRICE,  the Italy Earthquake Relief Fundraiser I was honored to support {with web & graphic design} for my dear friends Marcia Gagliardi, aka Ms. tablehopper, and Gianluca Legrottaglie of Montesacro & 54 Mint

Two weeks of string pulling, fund raising and ticket selling ended with an epic all-day event last Sunday - and we could not have asked for a more glorious Indian summer day or a more generous outpouring of support from community and friends!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A full moon gathering in West Marin

Disclaimer: this post was supposed to go live months ago. Let's blame the jet lag ... returning from Europe just a  couple of days prior to this dinner, I ended up getting distracted with work/life, eventually misplacing the camera chip and only re-discovering the photos this week {well into fall!}

It was one of those rare balmy summer evenings with no coastal fog in sight, as we headed across the Golden Gate Bridge and over the ridge to Stinson Beach. joining our friend Renee for a sunset gathering and dinner with friends in celebration of the summer night's full moon known as Full Buck Moon, symbolizing the time of the year when male deer {bucks} start growing new antlers.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A first class waiting room turned Gesamtkunstwerk {Intérieur No. 253}

Intérieur No. 253 Remagen Rolandseck Arp Museum

Walking into Intérieur No. 253 makes for a striking first impression - from the museum elevator you step into a narrow hallway, opening on both ends to grand dining halls with tall arched windows, soaring ceilings, herringbone parquet and glamorous crystal chandeliers dangling from the raw stucco ceilings.

It turns out Interieur No. 253 is not only a stunning museum bistro, but also a walkable and usable "Gesamtkunstwerk", or total work of art. It is a comprehensive artwork by the Berlin artist Anton Henning who was commissioned to envision the interior of the bistro at the Arp Museum Bahnhof Rolandseck, converting the historic banquet hall and first class waiting room of this former train station into striking visual interiors complimenting the culinary experience at Intérieur No. 253.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Old world glamour and pretty interiors at Bar Schmitz in Cologne

Glacier Schmitz Bar Schmitz Ice Cream Eis Schmitz Köln Cologne

Before moving to San Francisco in the late 90s I lived in Cologne, in a classic apartment with tall ceilings overlooking Friesenplatz - and right across the street from "XX", pronounced Dos Equis {as the beer}, a tiny bar with the faded ambience of a opulent fin-de-siècle bordello - and in those days a favorite hangout of the local art crowd. 

Dos Equis closed years ago, but the gastronomic team behind this tiny bar is busier than ever. A few streets over, Dirk Mecky and his wife Trixi have taken over three adjacent storefronts, turning each into iconic destinations - Metzgerei Schmitz, a former butcher shop turned bakery and deli, Salon Schmitz, a grand café with Danish and German design classics from the 50s and 60s, Coco Schmitz, a glam subterranean club with a 70s discotheque vibe - and Bar Schmitz, a gorgeous old world brasserie, restaurant, glacier and cocktail bar decked out in glorious Belgian Art Nouveau details.

Bar Schmitz Eis in Cologne Köln

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all photos © dinners with friends

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