Orecchiette with Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas

Orecchiette and Mushrooms
I was trying to think of what to make for me and my boyfriend the other night for dinner. I asked him if he had any special requests and he said mushrooms. I was in the mood for pasta so I did a little brainstorming and this orecchiette with mushrooms and snap peas was born.

For those of you unfamiliar with orecchiette, it’s little pasta in the shape of ears. Orecchiette means “little ears” in Italian so the name is fitting. (Check out this story I wrote a little while ago for more wacky Italian pasta names.)

ANYWAY. This pasta is super easy to make and therefore deceptively impressive. The most difficult part is chopping up the onions and the mushrooms. I hate chopping so this felt a little like torture but I tried to talk myself through it.

It was worth the effort in the end. The pasta has sautéd onions, shiitake and portobello mushrooms, and snap peas, mixed in al dente orecchiette, pasta water, and Parmesan cheese. The pasta water and Parmesan cheese form a sauce that’s strong enough to give the dish flavor but light enough to let the onions, mushrooms, and snap peas shine. I’d recommend adding even more snap peas if you want more green in the dish.

This pasta makes a great weeknight dinner. It comes together quickly and the leftovers taste great, so you can bring it the next day for lunch. I left the little that was left with my boyfriend and I’m sure it’s all gone by now.

Here’s a song to get you started on your pasta-making journey.

Orecchiette with Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas

Ingredients

16 oz (one box) orecchiette pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup minced red onion
1 cup stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 large portobello cap, diced
1 1/2 cups sugar snap or snow peas, strings removed
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper for serving

Directions

Cook the orecchiette according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water, and place in a big bowl.

In the meantime, cook the toppings. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat and add the minced onion and cook for a minute. Then add the mushrooms and sauté for another four to five minutes. Add the snap peas and cook for another few minutes, or until the peas soften.

Add the vegetables to the bowl with the pasta. Mix in the cheese and some of the reserved pasta water, adding more water to thin out the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Enjoy!

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Apple Pie

Apple Pie
There are few things that say “fall” more than apple pie. Yesterday, I decided to make one using some of the apples I picked last weekend at Eckert’s.

Some people have very specific opinions about pie. They like cherry but they hate apple, or they love pumpkin but they will never touch chocolate pie. I happen to like most pie but one of my favorites is apple. It’s sweet, tangy, tart, spicy, and reassuring, everything that good pie should be and more.

This recipe is relatively straightforward but it does call for one odd ingredient. You have to mix apple cider vinegar into the apples before you put them in the crust. After I did it, I could smell the vinegar from across the kitchen. I thought I’d screwed up the pie but never fear, it will still turn out well. The vinegar balances the sweetness of the apples and make them more tender while they’re baking inside the crust. You can’t taste it in the finished product. It’s stealthy that way.

This is one of the best pies I’ve ever made. I know I say that all the time but this time is true. I topped myself, partly because I’m getting more comfortable making crust and partly because I love apple pie. When you’re passionate about what you’re baking, it will taste better in the end.

My boyfriend was impressed, too. He usually tells me that what I make is good but in this case, he agreed with me that it’s restaurant quality. I guess this moves me one step closer toward opening my own bakery. I hope that happens sooner rather than later.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this recipe for apple pie. You should make it if you have some extra apples on hand that you need to use up. The crust is buttery and flaky, the apples are warm, spicy, tart, and sweet, and the sprinkle of sugar on top adds a touch of sweetness when you take your first bite. If I haven’t sold you on it by now, I never will.

Here’s a song to get you started on your apple pie-making journey. I saw “A Star Is Born” on Friday and I can’t get this song out of my head.

Apple Pie

Ingredients

for the crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
20 Tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
8 Tbsp ice water
1 egg, lightly beaten (for brushing the crust later)

for the filling:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled and cored, then cut into wedges
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions

First, make the crust. Pulse together the flour, salt, and butter in a food processor until pea-sized balls form. Then pulse in a tablespoon of ice water at a time until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove it from the food processor and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough a couple times then divide it in two and form it into two balls. Wrap each ball tightly with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge for two hours or overnight. I prefer to leave them in the fridge overnight. Don’t worry if your dough is a little wet and sticky at this stage. You can sprinkle a little flour on the dough later when you’re rolling it out.

When you’re ready to make the whole pie, take the dough for the crust out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. Place a large baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the apples and stir to coat. Whisk together the spices, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar, and sprinkle on top of the apples. Lower the heat. Stir to coat the apples and cook for about five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally, until the apples soften. Whisk together the flour and cornstarch in small bowl and sprinkle on top of the apples, and then stir it in. Cook for another three to five minutes, stirring every so often.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Scrape the apples onto a baking sheet to let them cool completely. You want them to be completely cool before you add them to the crust (do not rush this process).

Grease a 10-inch pie tin. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the first ball of dough until it’s about 12 inches in diameter. Press the crust gently into the pie tin and make it so there’s about a half an inch in overhang around the edges. Place the pie tin with the bottom crust in the freezer.

Roll out the dough for the top crust until it’s 11 inches in diameter. Remove the pie tin from the freezer, fill it with the cooled apples, and then place the second crust on top. Press the edges of the two crusts together and then trim the overhang. Use the back of a fork to makes tines around the edge of the pie. Then use a sharp knife to cut three to four vents in the top crust near the center of the pie. Brush the pie with the beaten egg and sprinkle 1/2 Tbsp sugar on top.

Place the pie in the oven on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees F and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the insides are bubbling. You might not be able to see the insides bubbling but you can hear it. If the top starts looking too brown, you can cover the pie with a pie of aluminum foil until it’s done baking.

Remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool for a couple hours. The pie will keep on the counter for two days and then it needs to go in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This week was a recovery week. I started a new job a couple weeks ago and inconveniently, I got sick and hurt my wrist at the exact same time. It was frustrating to feel like I was out of commission when I was supposed to be *in* commission, but I tried to give myself permission to rest and recover.

Something my sister said recently really resonated with me. She said that I’m always going with all my engines firing, so my illness and injury was an opportunity to slow down. There’s nothing I hate more than slowing down (unless I’m at the beach), so it was challenging for me to do this. I’m happy to say though that I’ve incorporated more relaxing activities into my routine and taking care of myself. At least so far, it seems to be paying off.

In other news, it’s finally fall. We had a few weeks of abnormally warm weather followed by cool days with rain, wind, and that undeniable fall chill in the air. I’m not complaining though because this is my favorite time of year. I love watching the leaves change, wearing light layers, and breaking out my favorite scarves.

I hope wherever you are, you’re enjoying the season. Maybe you don’t get fall leaves but you at least get cooler temperatures, warm drinks, a change in wardrobe, and weather that’s perfect for hiking and exploring.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

I enjoyed this article about two women working together at a restaurant in Mississippi despite their different political views. Crystal Walls and Lovetta Green are friends and colleagues but one woman supports Trump and the other despises him. I think that overall, the story is a good indication of the political climate in this country. It’s hard believe that anyone would still support Trump but the article sheds some light on the situation. Read more in this New York Times story

Speaking of restaurants… I tried a really good one last night. My boyfriend and I drove to Godfrey, Illinois, to eat at Bakers & Hale. I’d read about it in local food publications so I wanted to check it out. The restaurant specializes in farm-to-table cuisine. All the ingredients are fresh and delicious. My favorite dish was the burnt ends quesadilla. I could have eaten three of them but I also ordered a pizza so I had to save room. IMG_6842

Plagiarism can be a death sentence for many writers but increasingly, it’s not. I thought this story about appropriation in writing was interesting, especially from the perspective of a writer and communicator. The article talks about examples of writers paying homage to past pieces with their current stories and how that’s created an uproar in the literary community. It’s definitely a fine line but I liked what the article said about how paying homage can be a way of welcoming more voices into literature. Check out the full article in The New York Times Style Magazine.

I don’t live in D.C. anymore but I wish I did so I could go to Call Your Mother. The team from Timber Pizza Company, one of my favorite restaurants in D.C. and maybe the world, recently opened a “Jewish-ish” deli in the city that specializes in world-class bagels. I can’t wait to visit on my next trip. Read more about the restaurant in this Eater DC story.

I went to Craftoberfest for the first time this week and now I want to go back every year. The night market has taken place for the past seven years in St. Louis and features work from local artists and entrepreneurs. There’s also lots of good food on hand. This year there was Mission Taco Truck, beer and pub fare from the venue, Urban Chestnut, and sweets from Whisk, a local bakery. IMG_6832IMG_6833

I came across this story about Indian immigrants and Dunkin’ Donuts on Twitter and it was a fast and fun read. The writer talks about how her parents moved from India to New Hampshire in the 1980s and formed an instant and lifelong bond with the doughnut chain. It made me crave doughnuts and it also intrigued me. Food plays such an important role in how we see and interact with a place, and it can be an important indicator of home. Read more in this Bon Appétit story.

Last but certainly not least, I’m obsessed with Jacques Audiard. I love this profile of the French movie director. He’s so talented and forward-thinking. One of my favorite movies is “Rust and Bone” so it was interesting to learn more about the man behind the film. Check out the full profile in The New York Times Magazine.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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Cinnamon Spice Applesauce

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One of my favorite fall activities is apple picking. I usually go at least once a year. On Saturday, my boyfriend and I headed to Eckert’s Farm in Belleville, IL, to stock up on apples.

It was a beautiful day for picking. Even though it was a little hot there was a breeze, especially when we sat at the top of the tractor and it started rolling through the orchard. We got off near the Golden Delicious part of the orchard and started picking as many apples as we could. We also ate some because that’s half the fun of apple picking.IMG_6741IMG_6742
We ended up with about 10 pounds of apples each, which surprised me. The bag didn’t feel that heavy and it didn’t take that long to pick them. We talked about how apple picking is a different experience than strawberry picking, because you don’t have to hunch over or squat down to get to the fruit. I like both experiences but apple picking is probably more relaxing. IMG_6743Also, the number of things you can make with apples is almost endless. I brought the apples back to my house and immediately started to make applesauce. It’s an easy dish to make and you can make it in big batches, so you can give some to family and friends.

The recipe I use is pretty basic: It just calls for apples, cinnamon, water, sugar, and a pinch of cloves. You could get fancy and add things like maple syrup, cardamom, and nutmeg, but I like to keep my applesauce recipe simple. It makes it versatile enough to be used in a bunch of dishes. You could even bake with it if you wanted to.

I’d highly recommend making this applesauce if you bring home 10 pounds of apples from the orchard and you don’t know what to do with them. You could also keep the recipe in your back pocket for the holidays. Good applesauce goes a long way on a holiday table.

Here’s a song to get you started.

Cinnamon Spice Applesauce

Ingredients

8 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 cups of water
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a pinch of cloves

Directions

Combine the apples, water, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook about 15-20 minutes, or until the apples are soft. Allow the mixture to cool and then use a potato masher to bring the apples to the desired consistency. I like mine slightly chunky. Enjoy!

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Farmhaus Restaurant

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I’ve heard a lot of good things about Farmhaus over the years but for some reason, I never stopped by. All that changed last month.

My boyfriend asked me where I wanted to go for dinner to celebrate my new job and I suggested Farmhaus. It’s been on my list for a while. The restaurant is farm-to-table and is known for using fresh, seasonal ingredients. I’m all about using fresh, in-season produce so I decided to check it out.

We went for dinner the first time at the beginning of September. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was one of the best dining experiences of my life. “Emily,” you might be saying to yourself, “you always say that.” But in this case, it’s true. It ranks high up there with Zuni Café in San Francisco and Giant in Chicago.

When you have a good dining experience, it’s different from enjoying a nice dinner. It remains in your memory indefinitely, so in a few months or years you think back and still feel good about the meal.

Of course, it takes more than just good food: You also have to be in the right company, whether it’s dining alone in a good mood or being with someone you care about. Also, the service has to be superior. But sometimes, if you’re lucky, the stars will align and you can enjoy a close to perfect meal.

ANYWAY. Before I get too carried away, I’ll tell you more about Farmhaus. We had an early reservation and the restaurant sat us at a corner table across from the bar near the window. I like these seats best because of the natural light. It helps when I try to take pictures of food.

For the first course, we ordered the roasted Ozark Forest mushroom salad with goat cheese from Baetje Farms, a local goat cheese purveyor. I love the combination of flavors and textures in the salad. There was soft goat cheese and mushrooms, crunchy pecans, and hearty greens. IMG_5975
We followed that up with a house specialty and one of my favorite dishes, the sweet potato nachos with smoked house bacon and blue cheese from Salemville, a Wisconsin blue cheese company. I want to recreate a simpler version of this dish at home sometime. The chips were thinly-sliced pieces of sweet potato and I loved the combination with the smokey bacon and tart blue cheese.IMG_5976
If or when you stop by Farmhaus, make sure you order one of their house pastas. The first time I went, I got the spaghetti roja with housemade noodles, locally foraged Lobster mushrooms, corn, tomato and onion sugo, toasted breadcrumbs, and cheese from one of my favorite local cheese purveyors, Marcoot Jersey Creamery. The pasta was hearty and filling but light at the same time. It tasted like the end of summer.

Dessert is a must at Farmhaus. The menu is small and there are a couple staples including the chocolate cup, which we ordered the first time. It’s basically a fancy peanut butter cup with dark chocolate mousse, peanut butter ice cream, shaved chocolate, and peanut butter crumble. We split the dessert and a part of me wished we each had our own.IMG_5978
Throughout dinner, the service was attentive without being overbearing. The waiter was friendly and knowledgeable about the menu. I felt at home while I was eating, which is one of the signs of a good restaurant and dining experience. You want to be comfortable while you’re eating.

We stopped by Farmhaus again a couple weeks ago for my boyfriend’s birthday. I made a reservation and this time, we sat at a corner table in the main dining room. It was a different experience because there are more diners in this part of the restaurant, even though the dining room itself isn’t large. There was a big party next to us ordering a lot of food so occasionally we glanced over to see what they were eating.

We ordered lighter dishes at this dinner but they were still wonderful. We started with a kale and apple salad with wheat berries, Toome cheese from Marcoot, and butternut squash. I told my boyfriend that it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had and I wasn’t lying. A good salad should make you forget that you’re eating salad, and this one accomplished that. IMG_6464
We both got grouper with okra, corn, and tomato succotash and spoon bread, which is like a cornbread casserole. I was initially wary of ordering fish but it ended up being delicious. Farmhaus sources the freshest fish and you can tell when you’re enjoying a seafood dish there. The grouper was light and flavorful and made me believe for a brief few minutes that we were close to the ocean.IMG_6465
Dessert was the best part of the meal. We decided on crème brûlée with summer berry compote. It was as good as crème brûlées I ate while I was living in France. The top crust was caramelized and delicate and the custard below was rich, sweet, and satisfying. The berries added some tang and balanced out the sweetness. I wish I could eat another one right now.IMG_6466If you’re in St. Louis, I’d highly recommend checking out Farmhaus for dinner. You’ll probably want to save it for a special occasion because dinner is on the pricey side, but trust me, it’s worth it. The service is excellent and the food is fresh and flavorful. You can tell that the chef puts thought into every dish and uses the best seasonal ingredients. I can’t wait to stop by again soon and see what he’s cooking up this time.

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Best Hiking Spots Near St. Louis

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I went on a hike at Pickle Springs Natural Area yesterday and posted a bunch of pictures on Instagram. A friend of mine commented asking if I had a blog post devoted to Missouri hikes. I didn’t but now I do.

This is the perfect time to go on a hike in Missouri. The temperatures aren’t so brutal, there’s a cool breeze, the leaves are changing, and there are fewer mosquitos. I hike year-round but my favorite time to go is in fall, when the landscape is changing, leaves crunch underneath my feet, and I don’t feel like I have to gasp for air after a few miles because of the humidity.

I’ve provided a list of some of my favorite hiking spots below. The list is limited to the east and southeast of the state because truthfully, I haven’t ventured farther west to hike. That’s one of my goals for this year, but for now, here are some of my favorite places. Most are within a two hour drive of St. Louis, too, so you don’t have to stay overnight somewhere if you decide to go.

I think you’ll enjoy these places as much as I do. If you go, tag me on Instagram or Twitter. I want to see your hikes!

Hawn State ParkIMG_6632
Hawn is about an hour and a half south of St. Louis in Ste. Genevieve County. It’s one of my favorite places to hike in the spring and fall when the wildlife is diverse and you can see lots of wildflowers. And, as the photo above shows, it’s a great place to go to see waterfalls. You can hike along the sides and stop and dip your feet in. It feels good after you’ve been hiking a while.

Pickle Springs Natural AreaIMG_6598IMG_6600
Close to Hawn is Pickle Springs Natural Area. I’ve had this hiking spot on my list for a while but I never made it until last weekend. There are springs but no pickles at Pickle Springs. The best part about the hike is the rock formations. There are some impressive ones that are fun to stare at and climb.
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Castlewood State ParkIMG_6615
If you live in St. Louis, you *need* to go to Castlewood. The park is located in Ballwin, MO, a suburb of St. Louis, but it feels worlds away from downtown. I’d recommend going on a crisp fall day when it’s not too hot. The trail is strenuous in parts but the view at the top makes it worth it.IMG_6613

Creve Coeur Lake Memorial ParkIMG_6636
Another fun West County hike is at Creve Coeur Lake. You can walk mostly flat loops and take in the lake and the trees. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent kayaks and paddle around the lake. It gets crowded on beautiful weekend days though so make sure to arrive early.IMG_6635

Taum Sauk Mountain State ParkIMG_6630
For beautiful views of Southeast Missouri, stop by Taum Sauk Mountain National Park. It’s a couple hours drive from St. Louis so you can make it there and back in a day. There are beautiful waterfalls at one part of the hike. Next time I want to bring a hammock so I can stay and watch them for a while.IMG_6631

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park
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I’ve been going to Johnson’s Shut-Ins since I was little. It’s known for its rock formations with waterfalls that feed into the Black River. It’s also surrounded by mountains so you can hike up a path and look down at people exploring the river. It’s a couple hours or more by car from St. Louis, so you’ll want to leave early to get there to beat the crowds.
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Elephant Rocks State ParkIMG_6620 copy
If you’re in or around Johnson’s Shut-Ins, consider stopping by Elephant Rocks State Park. As the name suggests, the park has giant rocks that form something of an obstacle course or gigantic playground in the middle of the woods. Come for the rocks; stay for the views of the surrounding area.

Faust ParkIMG_6617
Faust Park is near and dear to my heart because it’s close to where I grew up. I often go on the weekends for a short morning hike. It’s not too long or strenuous and it’s beautiful. If you’re driving west and you’re looking for a place for a quick hike, this is your spot. There are also some intriguing historical buildings at the beginning and end of the trail.

Ha Ha Tonka State ParkIMG_6628
Ha Ha Tonka is farther from St. Louis at the edge of Lake of the Ozarks, about three and a half hours away by car. I drove there and back in one day (I do not recommend doing this), but you could make it a day trip if you’re already in the Ozarks. There’s plenty to see including historic ruins and interesting rock formations (see below).IMG_6627

Klondike ParkIMG_6618
Klondike Park is one of my favorite parks in Missouri. It’s in St. Charles County in Defiance, Missouri, a small town with lots of wineries. Sometimes I’ll go to Klondike and just hike the park. If you go to the top, there’s a part that looks out onto the Missouri River. If I’m feeling ambitious, I continue my hike onto the Katy Trail since there are a couple connections on the path. IMG_6619

Katy TrailIMG_6612
The Katy Trail is great to hike or bike. It’s mostly flat so it’s not too strenuous. I’ve walked a six mile loop before from Defiance to Augusta and back, and I haven’t felt too winded. If you get all the way to Augusta, you can stop and walk around the town. It’s very cute with antique shops, a coffee shop, wineries, and restaurants.

Babler State ParkIMG_6633
Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park, more fondly known as Babler, is the place I go when I want a quick hike and I don’t want to go too far from West County. It’s strenuous enough to make me feel like I’m getting a workout and picturesque enough to make me forget that I’m working out, which is an impressive feat. There are also a couple trails based on skill level so you can take it easy or go on one of the hillier paths.

Al Foster Memorial TrailIMG_6629
My aunt told me about Al Foster Memorial Trail. Located in Wildwood, a suburb west of St. Louis, it has lush green trails and a path that leads to Sherman Beach (pictured above). The beach is bigger than it looks in this picture. It’s fun to stop on warmer days with a lawn chair or blanket and sit out on the Meramec River.

Shaw Nature ReserveIMG_6624
Last but certainly not least on my list is Shaw Nature Reserve. This is one of the most beautifully-preserved patches of land in the St. Louis area. It’s run by the Missouri Botanical Garden so there are lots of flowers throughout the reserve and a couple historic points worth checking out. I’ve visited in every season except winter because I’m a wimp and can’t stay outside in the cold that long.

Conclusion

So yeah. Those are my picks for some of the best hikes in or around the St. Louis area. Some of them are admittedly farther than the St. Louis area (see: Taum Sauk Mountain), but trust me, they’re worth the drive. I hope you get to check out at least one or two of these spots if you’re in town or if you’re visiting the Midwest in the fall.

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Dimanche (That Means Sunday)

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Welcome to this edition of Dimanche (That Means Sunday), a roundup of things that caught my eye this past week.

This post is coming a day late because I spent most of the day yesterday hiking around Defiance and Augusta, MO. I’m finally almost all the way better from my sports injury and as a result, I can add activities back into my weekend that I’ve missed. Hiking around the country is at the very top of my list.

There’s something so peaceful about taking a long walk through the country. I started the hike with my earphones in, but after a few minutes, I took them out. I didn’t need them to drown out city noise. I realized that I hardly ever get moments of pure silence in my day to day life. I wanted to take in all the sights and sounds.

There were times throughout the walk when I wanted to turn around. It’s been a while since I’ve walked seven miles at once so the temptation was strong. I even had a voice telling me, turn around, you’re going to hurt yourself again or aggravate your injury.

I chose to ignore the voice and take it slow instead. When I got thirsty, I stopped and took a drink. When my hiking boots annoyed me, I paused to readjust. I stopped for a minute when I heard the sound of a bubbling creek and I watched it pass from on top of a bridge. By going slower, I protected myself from getting hurt and I was able to more fully enjoy my surroundings.

I know long seven mile hikes aren’t for everyone but for me, they’re one of the best ways to relax. I felt all the stress and pressure of the past few weeks literally melt off me and focused on the present moment. It was exactly what I needed.

Without further ado, here is Dimanche:

I went to the Great Balloon Race in Forest Park this weekend and it was beautiful. Friday night was the balloon glow when they lit up all the hot air balloons, and then Saturday, they took off pretty much all at once. I’m glad I got to see both events. I haven’t gone since I was in undergrad and even though it was more crowded than I remembered, it was worth it.IMG_6240
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I’m loving this food graphic from The Washington Post. The newspaper’s food critic Tom Sietsema annotated a menu and then the paper published his notes as red scribblings. It’s a clever way of doing a review and more entertaining than reading a long one start to finish. Check out the full graphic in The Washington Post.

I think we could all use a good guide to French pastries. This one from Frenchly is pretty thorough. It also leads to some good pastry-oriented Instagram accounts that you might want to follow if you’re also obsessed with French pastries.

Speaking of good pastries… I had the best cinnamon roll of my life last week and it was VEGAN. I can barely believe it, but that’s the magic Reine Bayoc works at SweetArt in Shaw. I’d highly recommend stopping by for breakfast soon.IMG_6174

I wanted to stay out of the whole Cynthia Nixon bagel fiasco last week but I found myself deeply affected by it. I ended up weighing in with a couple tweets. I’m all for crazy food combinations but smoked salmon and a cinnamon raisin bagel seems like a step too far. I enjoyed this article in The Atlantic about the political repercussions of eating weird food. It put things in perspective…somewhat.

If you like Greek food, head to The Greek Kitchen. The restaurant recently reopened in Kirkood after shuttering its storefront in Ellisville, a suburb of St. Louis. The new location still has the same delicious food and a couple new items including baklava cheesecake. I’d highly recommend the spanikopita (pictured below). Read more about it in one of my recent stories for St. Louis MagazineIMG_6190

A lot of people think French cooking is difficult but it doesn’t need to be. So goes this first-person account of French cooking. The writer’s husband is French and she learned some secrets from her mother-in-law, who took a no-nonsense approach to cooking. I liked what she had to say about simplicity. I think it’s true that French people prize simplicity in most things, even though they have a reputation for being superfluous. Read more in The Washington Post.

My boy Drake is at it again. The rapper invited a bartender in D.C. to one of his shows after experiencing excellent service. Oh, to be that bartender. Get more on Drake’s invite in this Washington Post story.

Last but certainly not least, Clementine’s Naughty & Nice Creamery got a well-deserved shout out in EaterThe ice cream shop is one of my favorites in St. Louis and it specializes in booze-infused flavors including maple bourbon pecan. Apparently Clementine’s has plans for national expansion. It’s not surprising given the quality of their product. Read more about the shop in this Eater story.

Enjoy your week! Here’s a song to get you started.

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