About Stephanie Farah

http://www.moveable-feasts.com

Posts by Stephanie Farah:

Love Lasts Three Years? Not if You’re in Love With Paris

La Tour EiffelI fell in love in Paris. With the city and with life and with so many things.

I can’t recall the exact moment when I fell for France, but I think growing up watching Gene Kelly dance his way through the City of Light in An American in Paris played a strong part in it. I started taking French in eighth grade and was a semester shy of minoring in it in college. I make a mean coq au vin even though I don’t eat meat, my death row bottle of wine would be a grand cru Burgundy, and if I can’t be buried alongside Oscar Wilde at Père-Lachaise, I at least want my ashes scattered in the Seine so I can spend eternity in the place I love most. More

Virginia Wine and Horse Country Weekend

Virginia Wine CountryA recent work conference beckoned me to Baltimore, of all places, during the tail end of the riots. Having only previously been to the airport and not the city itself, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m happy to report that I absolutely adored Baltimore. Our hotel was on the water, everyone we met was over-the-top friendly, and the weather, food, and drinks were equally enjoyable. Of course, being on the waterfront essentially placed us on a different planet from the neighborhood where the riots were taking place, and I feel no small amount of guilt for having only explored the “glitzier” part of town. But. Onward. More

Recent Reads: How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are

How to Be Parisian

I am forever trekking through a strange sort of literary labyrinth. I don’t really know how I pick a new book to read once I’ve finished another one. I do have about a hundred books in my ever-growing “to read” pile, and despite my bursting bookshelves, I still can’t resist buying even more books whenever I come across one that piques my interest.

I think I chanced upon How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are on Instagram. Instagram is my favorite social media outlet. It’s my happy place. I pretty much exclusively follow Parisians, food bloggers, and, best of all, Parisian food bloggers. I also follow a handful of New Yorkers and some travel photographers whose shots of jaw-droppingly gorgeous landscapes make me seethe with jealousy and hate my life (okay, I’m exaggerating . . . but only a little).

Anyway, yes, I believe I discovered this book on Instagram and I’m so glad I did. It’s the sort of book that you can finish over the course of a lazy afternoon with nothing but a bottle of rosé and Edith Piaf crooning in the background to keep you company. It’s an easy read and it’s not meant to be taken seriously—unless you’re like me and you truly do wear head-to-toe black, even in the middle of July, and you drink too much red wine and hate working out and you don’t believe that age is a good enough excuse to go to bed early. In that case, behold, your new Bible. More

New Year, New York

Les HallesAfter leaving Boston by train, we arrived at New York’s Penn Station (I’ve only ever arrived at Grand Central and was disappointed to learn that Penn Station is nearly as grand) just after dark. Since we had our luggage with us, it was easier to grab a cab than to take the subway to our hotel, though we’re normally avid subway travelers. Yes, it’s usually dirty and noisy and it’s forever running late, and don’t even get me started on the Peruvian flute bands, but it’s usually cheaper than cabbing it and, if nothing else, the passengers make for an entertaining cast of characters. More

Moonlight in Vermont

Moonlight in VermontPhoto courtesy of Kiera Slye Photography

For the past six years, my husband and I have made a tradition of taking a trip for New Year’s. Really it started more than a decade ago, the year we started dating. We drove from Texas to New York City to ring in 2004 and we stood in Times Square for six hours in sub-freezing temperatures to watch the ball drop from eight blocks away. We’d never been to New York before and had no concept of the lay of the land, so we naïvely booked a hotel on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. Do you know how hard it is to get a cab to take you to New Jersey at 1 a.m. on New Year’s?

Since then we’ve become infinitely more savvy travelers, and our subsequent New Year’s trips have gotten better and better:

  • 2010: Italy
  • 2011: Spain and France
  • 2012: Switzerland
  • 2013: Estes Park, Colorado and Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • 2014: Crested Butte, Colorado

This year we mulled over several destinations and eventually decided to split our time between New England and New York. We would fly into Boston, drive up to Vermont and spend two days in Woodstock, then we’d take the train from Boston to New York and spend New Year’s Eve in the city (not in Times Square this time, and we wouldn’t be staying in New Jersey). More

California Sojourn Part II: Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach

Okay, to continue where I left off in my last post . . .

After spending a few hours in L.A., exploring the Grove and the farmer’s market, we decided to drive down to Laguna Beach, where I would be spending the next three days on my own. It was only lunchtime and Michael’s flight didn’t leave until 8 p.m., so I thought it would be fun if he could see the bed and breakfast where I’d reserved a room and maybe grab something to eat at a restaurant with an ocean view.

The wine course for which I was in Laguna Beach was held at the Montage, an immaculate hotel with rates to match. After doing a little TripAdvisor research, I opted instead for more the more reasonably priced but no less charming Casa Laguna Inn. It isn’t right on the beach, but it’s just across the street, and it has all the little luxuries you’d find at a swankier hotel but it feels much more quaint and personal. More

California Sojourn Part I: Santa Barbara and a Brief Stop in L.A.

Santa Barbara

I recently decided to shift gears from “frequent drinker of wine whose tastes are just barely in the zip code of ‘discriminating'” to “serious oenophile with a thorough knowledge of the wine-producing world and the ability to both navigate the wine aisle and order a bottle for the table with confidence.” To that end, I’ve spent the past six months or so going to more wine tastings, trying wines outside of my comfort zone, and having my husband administer blind tastings on me. Basically, I love wine and everything about it—not just its admittedly anesthetic properties, but everything, from the history to the terroir to which glass will best reveal a Burgundy Grand Cru in all its glory.

In hopes of further formalizing my education, I started looking into various wine courses, exams, and certifications. There’s a community college in Dallas that offers a twelve-week sommelier course, and there are a few other programs in the area as well, ranging from single-day crash courses to months-long intensive training in all things vino. After much investigation and speaking with a few industry insiders, I realized that “all roads lead to Rome,” as they say, but for my purposes, all roads pointed toward the Court of Master Sommeliers.

I’ll save the nitty-gritty details of the CMS Introductory Course and Exam for my next post, but suffice to say, I was eager to take the Level 1 exam (the Court has four levels, the fourth being one of the world’s most notoriously difficult exams) and since it wasn’t being offered in the Dallas area anytime soon, I decided to look at the cities where it was being offered and pick one where I’d enjoy spending a few days. I spotted a December date in Laguna Beach and it was a done deal. I registered for the course and decided to build a weekend getaway for my husband and myself into the trip. More

Recent Reads: Time Was Soft There

Time Was Soft ThereShakespeare and Company is the bookish tourist’s equivalent of Times Square. I first went to Paris in 2007, but, ingenue that I was at the time, I hadn’t yet heard of this glorious little literary Mecca. But by the time I went for my second time, about a year ago, it was at last on my to-go list. Though my husband and I attempt to seek out the truth of a city and avoid the biggest tourist traps, I couldn’t resist the lure of paying a visit to this storied and historic Left Bank book shop. Shortly thereafter I came across Time Was Soft There, writer Jeremy Mercer’s memoir of the year he spent living at Shakespeare and Company, and I was bewitched.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Shakespeare and Company was first opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach, an American expat and a member of the “Lost Generation.” The original English language bookstore was located first at 8 rue Dupuytren before moving to 12 rue de l’Odéon. It survived the Great Depression, but Beach was forced to close it down after the German invasion of France. Per Wikipedia, “Ernest Hemingway symbolically liberated the shop in person in 1944, but it never reopened for business.” (Fun side note: Hemingway mentions the shop in A Moveable Feast, a book for which, as you might have guessed, I harbor a certain fondness.) More

Eggnog Hot Chocolate

Eggnog Hot ChocolateEvery year, I start seeing eggnog at the grocery store shortly before Halloween, and I have to stop myself from buying it immediately because I always end up drinking one little glass of it and then the rest of it goes bad. I love eggnog. It tastes like Christmas. But I only like it in small doses.

This year I made it until last week before I caved and bought a small bottle of eggnog. Luckily we had a few friends over last weekend and, with the help of a little rum, we were able to put a decent dent in it. But I still had about a quarter of the bottle left today, so I decided to invent a warm holiday cocktail. I call it Eggnog Hot Chocolate, and a quick Google search reveals that no, I did not actually invent this. But this recipe is my own, as far as I know. And it’s wicked tasty. More

Maiden Voyage in the RV

Canyon of the EaglesHere are a few fun facts: Up until this month, only five hurricanes have struck Hawaii since 1950. As luck would have it, the sixth one decided to aim itself at the islands on precisely the weekend when my husband and I had planned a much-needed trip to Kauai.

I need to preface this story by admitting that it’s going to sound a bit “poor little rich girl.” I am completely aware that the sentence “we had to cancel our trip to Hawaii because of a hurricane” is perhaps the most epic first world problem of all time. That said, when I got online to check in for our flight last Wednesday night, my heart sank when I saw the travel advisory pop up. It was a really tough call to make, because tropical storms/hurricanes are notoriously unpredictable. It was a toss of the dice. There was a chance that Hawaii could get a direct hit, but there was also a chance that the storm would lose steam and/or drift off to the west and sidestep the islands entirely. We didn’t want to miss out on our vacation, but we also didn’t want to risk being stuck indoors for the better part of it, possibly without alcohol power. More

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