Flowers in Bloom

I wrote this piece for ABreakfastSerial a few weeks ago and felt it was appropriate to share considering Chicago is in full bloom.

“The Petit Bouquet” 

Going to the chapel and were gonna get married” blared from my iPad on June 20th 2012. The sun shined brightly through our Parisian windows, it was the first time it hadn’t rained in days. I remember standing in the elevator of our flat staring at Stephen, it seemed like a normal day, but it wasn’t.

Annie at Le MaraisWe walked over to Le Marais, found a small corner café and basked in the sun. To me, nothing is better than Parisian breakfast. Fresh jam, a warm croissant, and a crisp espresso is how everyone should spend their mornings. While enjoying one another’s company I decided that a bouquet was necessary for the ceremony. Up until that morning I had not considered flowers, but as the vows crept closer, I found myself drawn to the idea. Stephen at Le MaraisThere was a small flower shop close to our flat. On our way back from breakfast we stopped in to purchase a small handful of flowers. “Bonjour, could I purchase some flowers?” I asked. The woman behind the counter ignored my question and continued on with her business. Rookie mistake…English.

Defeated, we left the shop and searched for another flower store. A few blocks from our first destination was another store, specializing in exotic plants. Needless to say, I did not care to carry a palm frond and decided to forgo the possibility of patronage.

We returned to the first shop. Stephen and I stood on the corner and strategized. French! We needed to speak French!

Round two: “Pardon Madame, le petit bouquet?” I said with a terrible accent. “Ah oui!” she replied enthusiastically. Petit, not quite, but the flowers were beautiful.

Flowers

Flowers in weddings have symbolized many things throughout history. Flowers have symbolized the new harvest and life. They have been cited to represent loyalty.

Flowers in WIndow

For me, Le Petit Bouquet represented growth and new beginnings. I stood behind the Notre Dame chapel and exchanged vows with the most wonderful gentleman. Although we had been dating for 6 years prior, those vows began a new journey, our new life together as a family, as one.

Annie and Stephen Notre Dame

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Wine Tasting Party

I love wine. I love the food that compliments wine. I love wine culture. I love that my husband loves wine. I love that wine reminds me of Paris.

During winter break Stephen and I went to quite a few wine tastings. I adore the atmosphere and new information I learn. However, I don’t love the lack of community or silliness that is often left out of tastings. This absense got me thinking and I was inspired to fix this gap!

The solution: a wine tasting party! This past weekend my friends and I gathered to enjoy our favorite wines and hang out.

yay for hosting!

yay for hosting!

The rules were as follows: everyone bring their favorite wine for submission. Each submission would be ranked and the wine with the highest rating “won.”

submission cards

submission cards

This protocol was hard to follow as you can imagine. The winner was instead determined by which bottle had the least amount of wine left. Stephen’s selection won 🙂 The prize was…well…. camaraderie and shenanigans.

7 submissions total.. all were welcomed!

7 submissions total.. all were welcomed!

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Let the tasting begin!

In addition to having a ton of wine, we also had a lot of food. I haven’t had the chance to cook recently because of my schedule so the idea of preparing for a whole party thrilled me!

The Menu:

Cheese Plate:

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Sweet Pears (recipe below)
Brie
Blue Cheese
Garlic and Herb Goat
Compt
Grapes
Dried Figs
Unsulfered Apricots
Crostinis

slice unripe pear, sprinkle sugar on top, place in oven at 200 for 1 hour and serve

slice unripe pear, sprinkle sugar on top, place in oven at 200 for 1 hour and serve

Finger Foods:

the spread

the spread

Chocolate Dipped Dates
Goat Cheese and Thyme Stuffed Dates
Brie and Cranberry Stuffed Dates
Red Pepper, Artichoke, and Olive Bruchetta
Stuffed Mushrooms
Caprese Kabobs
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Rosemary and Thyme Crackers
Melba Toasts
Edamame Crackers (gluten free)

Stuffed with: chopped tomatoes, red pepper, black olives, basil and topped with mozzarella

Stuffed with: chopped tomatoes, red pepper, black olives, basil and topped with mozzarella

sprinkle with balsamic

sprinkle with balsamic

slice dates, stuff with blended goat cheese and thyme, top with pecan

slice dates, stuff with blended goat cheese and thyme, top with pecan

We had some fine submissions and attendants! Clearly we all took the process very seriously (note the sarcasm).

Stevi's sophisticated judging: "do not pair with gum"

Stevi’s sophisticated judging: “do not pair with gum”

Kendra advocated for the white wines

Kendra advocated for the white wines

decisions

decisions

these two.

these two.

It was a great party and I want to do it again! I can’t wait for a summer themed wine party… I dream big!