Monthly Archives: September 2013

Last Weekend in September

This past weekend was great fun, starting with a party to celebrate the Monaco Yacht Show and Y.co (an amazing yachting company!) on Friday night!

y.com Monaco Yacht Show Event

y.com Monaco Yacht Show Event

My cousin was visiting from Chicago with her husband and two friends, so we had to show them a good time.  They stayed in Nice, so Saturday we schedule a walking gastronomy tour around the city.  I figured it might be cheesey, but it was something fun for us to do for an afternoon.  So I booked this 3 hour tour with Marion at The French Way.  This tour absolutely exceeded all of my expectations.  Having lived in Monaco for 2 years, I learned SO much about Nice history…and she explains the history around her fabulous food tour, which was just right up my alley! We started at 3pm at Place Massena. First stop was a candy store that had been owned by 5 generations of family since 1890, next we walked around the flower market in Old Town and then up Castel hill. Then we had a cheese tasting, then a quick coffee before our olive oil tasting.  It was so incredible to connect the food with the history and to get it from such a young, and fresh guide like Marion.  Hands down the best tour I’ve ever been on.  In fact we enjoyed our tour so much, that we invited Marion and her husband to join us for drinks after! It was a great way to end the perfect day!

Sunday, I invited everyone to church at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. We enjoyed a nice service, and then we went for lunch at Bouchons near the Grimaldi forum.  We invited 2 friends from church and Father Walter as well….sp we were 9 in total.  It was a fantastic meal (I’ve never had a bad meal here!), in fact all 9 of us ordered the same steak meal and we were not disappointed! Mouth-wateringly good steak, flavorful french fries and a small salad with a glass of wine for 19€ per person.  It doesn’t get any better than that! Although, the weather was no cooperating.  We had planned to take the bus to St. Paul de Vance, but it was raining and not worth the journey.  So they took the train back to Nice and hubby and I watched a marathon of Sons of Anarchy and had a lazy Sunday evening.

All-in-all a wonderful weekend!

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Second Half of Our Tuscany Trip

Monday was a big day, we ventured all the way to Bolgheri to try some fantastic wines.  First stop, was Ornellaia. What a gorgeous facility, and of course the wine is very memorable. They offered a special wine for direct purchase, and we were sure to pick up a case. It was delicious!  Next we popped over to the sea for lunch at a nice seafood restaurant, sadly I can not recall the name. Another fabulous meal. It was a 2.5 hour drive back and we were all exhausted.  And we arrived just as our little old lady chef was serving our dinner back at the villa.

Ornellaia friends at the Ornellaia vineyars wine tasting at Ornellaia IMG_0483 IMG_0452 fish for the grill Seafood Rissoto

Tuesday Toby & Vik left in the afternoon, after a tour of the Brolio Castle and a wine tasting at Castello de Brolio (yes, this was our 2nd tasting here). They had lunch at the villa and make their way to Milan for business.  Tuesday evening our other friends Andrew & Marion arrived just in time for dinner at La Botte di Bacci. Another excellent restaurant in Radda in Chianti.  The 4 of us shared a HUGE steak Florentine, which was absolutely unbelievably tender, tasty and amazing!

Gorgeous steak florentine the group at Botte di Bacci

Wendesday was another lazy day around the villa.  This day, the boys ventured off to Parma to visit the Dallara factory (F1 manufacturer). So the girls had a lovely afternoon together, and visited Radda in Chianti for another spectacular meal (yes, this entire trip revolves around food & wine).  This might have been my favorite meal of the trip, here at Al Chiasso dei Portici.  I started with a mache salad, which had medallions of rotisserie chicken served with thin apple slices, walnuts and a foamy, creamy orange sauce (UNREAL doesn’t even begin to describe it).  Then we all shared the mains: Ravioli with truffles, ribbon pasta with Tuscan herb pesto with pistachio (another HOME RUN!) and ricotta and spinach dumplings.  I finished off the meal with a gorgeous pannacotta and my day was complete!

Thursday the group went into Radda for lunch and a few errands.  I decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather and lounge by the pool.  I was very pleased with my decision until the gardener decided to mow the lawn all around the pool.  Oh well, I had my rose wine to keep me happy and was still able to enjoy a little sun.

Friday was our last full day at the villa. We mostly spent it cleaning up, packing, and making our plans for Florence. Friday evening was a very special dinner at Borgo San Felice. What a spectacular dinner. Since we were a large group of 8, I had picked out a preset menu and we were seating in a private room.  Each of the 4 couples ordered wine for the dinner, and each was unbelievable. We selected the champagne to start with, a Billecart-Salmon Rose.  It was ok, but definitely not my favorite.  We were originally going to take the Krug, and I immediately regretted not ordering it after my first sip.  For the wine we started with Madonna Nera, then enjoyed a 2001 Massetto, and ended with a Sassiccaia (each was spectacular!). Not sure which was my favorite of the 4 courses, but I know that I left happy, full and a little tipsy!

dessert at San Felice Veal Cheek champagne gnocci full moon over Borgo San Felice Our menu IMG_0927wines at Borgo San Felice

Saturday, we left the villa for Florence in the morning.

First Half of Our Tuscany Trip

We drove over from Monaco on Saturday and drove directly into Milan so that I could pick up my Fendi bag, which I had left for repairs.  Unfortunately they weren’t able to repair it, but I’m convinced that a good cobbler can mend it properly. It was 3 hours into Milan, and we had a quick bite and then got back on the road. After 3hr 45 min we arrived to the villa Le Pratola. It’s absolutely stunning, with ridiculous views from the pool!

Le Pratola sunset

Sunday we woke up & ventured into town around lunch time….of course it was 2pm and everything was closing for lunch. We ended up finding a nice spot & enjoyed lunch and good wine. Unfortunately, I was quite sick with a cold/flu/tonsillitis.  At this point swallowing was extremely painful, so life in general was unpleasant. I took some DayQuil and tried to make it through dinner that night, which was amazing!!!

I put on my finest dress bought in Milano (one of my favorite 30th birthday gifts from David) and we ventured into a small town called Colle di Val d’Elsa. It was about 1 hour from the villa, and just on the other side of Siena. Gorgeous small restaurant at a Relais & Chateaux called Arnolfo. Here are some pics from the dinner:

Dinner

Masseto 2001 wine Nice logo Eating

The following days we explored the area. Saw the Meleto castle, and then went to Vistarinni where we incidentally had a wine tasting ( I say incidentally, because it wasn’t planned..and it happened that we knew the woman who was the manager at the villa).VistarinniIMG_9529 IMG_9536

For dinner we dined at Osteria del Castello (just below the Brolio Castle) and enjoyed pigeon, quail & other amazing foods. David had ordered the wine & was trying to wine produced by owners of the restaurant.  It was amazing & turns out we were sitting by the wine maker, owner & sales person for the US and Canada. They were impressed by the wines that we had ordered & invited us to come to the winery to do a tasting & visit the grounds.

IMG_9585 IMG_9581 IMG_9582

Next day we did some more exploring and ended up in a small, teeny, tiny village called Starda. Here we found a sweet little Osteria tucked away into the village and enjoyed the local dishes here.

Wednesday, we did a wine tour in Chianti with an amazing guide…Phillipo. He was knowledgeable, friendly & spoke perfect English. We went to a winery called Casalvento, where the owner performed the tasting.  She was sweet and turns out she was from Florida…Palm Beach, in fact! And it also turns out that mom & dad also belong to Ocean Reef which she’s a member of as well.  We had great conversation, and really enjoyed their wines and they eventually invited us to their restaurant for dinner on Sunday.  After that we lunched at a great little restaurant called Osteria del Panzanelle. The guide ordered all the food and all the wine, which was amazing! We finished up the day at a more traditional, smaller winery called Montevertine.  I wasn’t a fan of the wine as the last place…but of course to each their own.

The group at Casalvento Casalvento

Casalvento interior Casalvento Janus statue

grapeslunch specialities   Osteria del PanzanelleCellars at Montevertine montevertine

Thursday was a lazy day, which was quite welcome! We decided to take the Brolio wine maker up on his offer of a tour, and went in for a tasting and tour.  What an unforgettable experience!  He took us on the most incredible tour, first of the castle and then of the winery where we watched the machine crush the grapes and even got to taste some of the wines straight out of the metal vats.  The wine was just 2 weeks old, and tasted very strange, but very interesting none the less. The wine maker and the tour guide, Simona were very kind and I learned a lot from the tour.

Entrance to Castello de Brolio Brolio Castle Barone Ricasone castello Brolio Brolio Castle

Brolio Wine Maker Machine crushing grapes Wine Tour

Friday was another wine tour, this time led by a sweet woman named Alessandra. We started this day in the village of Montelcino, which was just as cute as can be (just about 2 hour drive from Gaiole in Chianti).  Definitely worth a walk-through. After that we stopped at a winery called Fanti, where we enjoyed lunch and a tasting of their wines.  It was all locally made & home cooked…and so tasty! Next we went to a small winery called Santa Giulia. After that we headed back to the villa where dinner was served by our sweet little chef who’s 78 years old and only speaks Italian. As we were starting our dinner our friends from Zurich, Toby & Vik arrived.

IMG_9952 12th century church in Montelcino

Fanti Fanti wine barrels

grapes me in the vines winery #2

Saturday we ventured into Siena. What a cool, place on a hill. It’s a bit tricky with the parking below and the city above, but we managed to figure it out. We found a lovely restaurant on Il Campo & spent most of the afternoon lounging and eating and of course drinking. After that we walked to the duomo & had a gelato, with the most perfect weather, it was a stunning afternoon! We then came back to the villa & David cooked chicken on the grill. It was another perfect day in Tuscany!

Dad and Linds Vik, TOby and David Church in Siena Duomo in Siena Duomo in Siena Piazza del Campo in Siena

Today we’ve been lounging around again, and we’ve had a bit of rain. So it’s been a nice & sleepy day. We’re preparing for dinner at Livernano with the couple who owns the winery we visited on Wednesday.

Fall Fashion

So the weather is starting to cool down in the South of France, and by cool I mean in the low 20’s….but it’s still fresh enough to start rocking some of the newest fall fashion!Here are my top 3 picks:

1. Everyone knows that a blazer is a staple in any woman’s wardrobe.  It can take a simple t-shirt and jeans and make it less casual….or it can take a cocktail dress to something more office appropriate.  For this fall, I’m loving this Ikat Blazer by Twelfth St. by Cynthia Vincent. Here are her two takes.

Ikat Blazer by Cynthia Vincent Ikat

2. Next, I’m loving these single color skirt and crop top ensembles.  I’ve not been brave enough to rock one myself, but perhaps once I move back to Miami I will have a bit more courage.

Nicole Richie wearing pink! All black

3. Finally….the patterned pant! These are simply stunning from Celine. I plan on rocking lots of patterned pants this fall. I’ve got this gorgeous pair of floral patterned pants that I’ve been waiting to wear, and I think it’s high time I broke out those bad boys!

Celine Pants

What are you excited to wear this fall??

Back to Monaco

So we’re back in Monaco after a lovely 2 week holiday in Tuscany.  What an unforgettable trip!  I’m working on my posts & getting all my pics together and will share some details from the trip hopefully tomorrow.

The doggies were returned to us on Monday evening.  Our dog walker/ sitter is so great. You can tell the dogs really love her!  But there is nothing like seeing your dogs after being away, they give you cuddles and kisses and so much love! We missed them so much, and talked about them nearly every day. They really are our fur babies. I can’t even imagine how it would feel to be away from a real, human child.

We returned to some hostility from the boss.  He’s once again trying to place the blame on the fact that we have no clients. Saying that every time we go on vacation, it’s when he needs us.  I love being the scape goat…it’s just great!

Since our return back on Monday we’ve been trying to finalize some plans for our move back to Miami. There’s just so much to think about….buying a car, where will we live, job, how can we budget, etc!! Just trying to put together a check list of everything that needs sorted out.

The Monaco Yacht Show started yesterday, which is a HUGE deal in Monaco. We have tickets, we just can’t decide the best time to go.  We went last year, and honestly it wasn’t that fun.  It’s mostly for yachting professionals, so we just felt out of place. Maybe this year it will be different.

 

End of August / Beginning of September Update

As we enter into September…here’s an update:

-In Monaco you must provide 3 months notice to vacate an apartment.  It’s funny in the US, it’s barely even 1 months notice.  And in Monaco you can’t just call the “propriétaire” (owner) to tell them you’re moving out…you have to send an A/R letter which requires signature upon receipt. That way the owner can say that you gave proper notice based on the date that the A/R letter was received. Basically we sent the letter over the weekend & it was received on Monday 2, September and we have a move out date of Nov 30th!

-We bought our plane tickets home!  We leave Monaco on the 1st, overnight in Lisboa (pretty cool bonus trip!) and we arrive back in Miami the afternoon of December 2nd. It’s going to be SO WEIRD to be back in the USA, but I can not wait!

-The hubs did some photography work over the 2013 Grand Prix de Monaco for a friend.  He gave her a great deal, and she still owes 1/3 of the payment.  AND IT’S Effing nearly 4 months later.  What the hell is up with these Monegasques not paying their bills.  It’s a totally normal, and acceptable thing. And did I mention…..this Bia*ch was (WAS!) a friend.  We’ve been calling her, making appointments with her, begging her, basically all out annoying her non-stop and she still makes a million excuses why she won’t pay. Reason #21398203458 I can not wait to move back to the US & get away from all the bullshitters here in Monaco! PS. It’s not like it’s 50€….it’s for 1000€!!

-We spent the entire last week “house sitting” our friends gorgeous apartment in Nice, France!  It’s just 20 minutes away, but it felt like it was a world away.  We had more space, were able to relax, and really had a great time.

-Saturday the 31st we went to Villefranche for the first time ever.  Yes, we live 15 minutes away and have NEVER been before! It was absolutely lovely. We strolled the streets, checked out the chateau, explored the church, did a bit of shopping, but mostly just eating and drinking! We found a cute little pub & had a “pre-lunch” drink (or 2 perhaps) at Gaga‘s just 1 block off the harbour.  We got to chatting with the couples around us, and even the shop keeper from around the way.  We asked the shop keeper a good place for lunch, since we didn’t want to get sucked into any of the tourist traps. She recommended “Le Mayssa“(same owners as Paloma Beach on Cap Ferrat, for those who are familiar) which was a cute little spot overlooking the harbour….but off the main street.  There weren’t many people there, but the food, wines and views were all off the charts.

We started with a nice Bandol Rose wine and fois gras.  We shared a gorgeous sea bass with potatoes and veggies for lunch. And skipped dessert & just finished our wine and enjoyed the view!

I would HIGHLY recommend this little gem!

Here are some pics from our adventure that day:

Entrance to the chateau

Entrance to the chateau

View from the top of the chateau in Villefranche!

View from the top of the chateau in Villefranche!

View from the Chateau

View from the Chateau

Beers at Gaga's!

Beers at Gaga’s!

The harbour

The harbour

The view from the harbour

Handsome guy with the the three dogs! (we were dog sitting the yorkie!)

Handsome guy with the the three dogs! (we were dog sitting the yorkie!)

We got the best table in the house at Le Mayssa!

We got the best table in the house at Le Mayssa!

View from lunch!

View from lunch!

Yummy sea bass lunch at Le Mayssa

Yummy sea bass lunch at Le Mayssa

At the train station, ready to head home

At the train station, ready to head home

-Work has been sucking.  We don’t have any fun projects at the moment, so we’re basically counting down the days until our holiday….2 YAY!