Thursday, February 13, 2014

Braised Chicken with Rosemary and White Wine...and a sweet Valentine Story


Years of collected dried flowers


It's Valentine's Day.  A day in the middle of the winter to just stop and celebrate all things pink and red and heart-shaped, and sweet, and silly.  

Since the holidays are well behind us, it's also a day to make an excuse for an indulgence...or two, tell someone important how much you love them, and just generally smile at all of the wonderful messages floating around and people being all mushy-gushy.



Weekday lunches;  my new pottery with a simple meal of creamy grits and cheddar
playing with the sunset and bokeh;  Polly-wolly being her silly self



I have had the most lovely surprise this Valentine's Day.  Usually, I tuck something sweet into Patrick's briefcase along with an "I love you" letter.  We usually go out to our favorite sushi or Indian restaurant for a nice meal.  I fill little bags with sweet treats or little treasures and leave them at the breakfast table in the morning for the kids to discover.

But, this Valentine's Day, I truly received a surprise...a gift that I will cherish always because of the absolute sentiment, thought, and memories behind it.



Ingredients for Braised Chicken with Rosemary and White Wine



Years ago, we were in Italy for the first time.  The first time in Italy is such thorough immersion in all things beautiful, rustic, delicious, and ...Italian.  It was an incredible trip, the children were young and inquisitive about everything, and we enjoyed celebrating the Easter holidays in Italy, in a small town called Sovigliano.

The kids were running through each piazza we visited and wearing themselves out chasing pigeons.  We sat at nearby outdoor cafĂ© tables trying to keep an eye on them and at the same time,taking in all of the wonderful sights and sounds of Italy.

As we wandered around the shops, stretching out from a piazza in Sienna, I spotted a little pottery shop, spilling its wares into the street that beckoned me to step inside and become immersed in beautiful lovely Italian pottery.



Fresh chicken for Valentine dinner;  soup bowls from Sienna, Italy
Heartbeat Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile; and Mr. Lazy Bones...Chester


I fell in love with a particular pattern of pottery.  I was breathless with excitement and overwhelmed at all of the artisanal beauty in the shop.  

Should I get plates, bowls, or platters?  It was all so lovely but my eyes kept resting on one particular cream pattern with blue trim and a little painted bird in the center. It was a sweet pattern and maybe because it was a simple one, I was consistently drawn to it.

The price on the tags ultimately made the decision for me.  I would not be walking out with a "set" of anything.  I looked longingly at the plates and bowls and platters but ultimately walked out with a tiny teapot and an even tinier butter dish.

Just being in Italy and taking in all of its beauty was gift enough, indeed.  I carried those two items back with us.  They've moved from house to house and have been lovingly unwrapped in each one.  I've treasured those two items over the years and often point them out and mention how much I love the pattern, the little bird, the trip, the experience, the memories...




Valentine's day indulgence...Cream Puffs



This week Patrick was traveling in Italy...Florence to be exact.  I remained at home, sulky and glued to the books with Riley...trying desperately to stay on a tight schedule.  All the while, I was dreaming of Ponte Vecchio, narrow wet cobblestone streets, Mercato Centrale, the Duomo, and the miles of vineyards flowing into the countryside outside of Florence.

Little did I realize, Patrick had one blessed afternoon free on his trip.  And...little did I realize, he had a sweet Valentine plan in mind...





He bought a train ticket from Florence to Sienna.  He somehow made his way to the same piazza we enjoyed so many years ago, stumbling along, not knowing the city.  He wandered the narrow roads that radiate out from the center of town, walking aimlessly, hoping to stumble upon this elusive pottery shop from 15 years ago.

And...It was still there...  

The tiny little pottery shop that I could barely tear myself away from so long ago...was still standing there looking just as quaint and sweet as ever, its wares tumbling onto the street, beckoning passersby.







"There it was" he said when he ventured inside,  "The same exact cream pattern with the blue trim and the tiny bird painted in the middle".

He bought eight wide flat bowls and a sweet lady wrapped them in the most beautiful floral paper.  He got back on the train, returned to Florence, and carefully carried the set all the way back across the Atlantic Ocean.  A set of Italian bowls...a set!

For me...for Valentine's Day.






So my gift in return can't even begin to compare, but of course it would be something lovingly prepared for the table.   I arranged the table for a romantic meal, opened a delicious bottle of red wine from Chile (indeed...it is called HeartBeat (chuckles)...but it was very delicious), laid out all of the dried flowers that I have kept over the years, and added some cream puffs on the table for a sweet ending to what is now...

the most sentimental Valentine's Day of our love story.





18 comments:

  1. What a wonderful, sweet and romantic present! Such a dear man. Beautiful Valentine's meal with gorgeous photos. Happy Valentine's Day Sarah! xo

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  2. A lovely story! Your husband is a keeper.

    Gorgeous food and pictures, as always.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. What a special gift it is... ! Thank you for this romantic story and gorgeous photos. Happy Valentin's Day!

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    1. Thank you, Syvlia. I think these plates will hold a special spot in my heart forever.

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  4. Dear Sarah, This is a very lovely story. Most husbands would not remember the pattern of your hand panted bowls. How sweet of him to surprise you in such a charming way.
    I have been to Italy many times and have brought back many, many pieces of hand painted ceramics. I love them all.
    Your photographs are always very special and your expertise in creating and presenting such wholesome and beautiful meals is astounding. .

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    1. He actually took a photo with his cell phone and used it to match the bird pattern once he was there. He was shocked he found the little store and I must say, I was flabbergasted!

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  5. How sweet. Happy Valentine's day. You have such a romantic heart.I can't believe that your husband was able to find the exact same pottery after so many years. I guess you were meant to have more.

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    1. How am I going to top this romantic gesture, Loree! I don't really like to celebrate so terribly materialistic but the sentiment behind it was just so lovely...yes, he's a keeper.

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  6. Happy Valentine's...

    What a beautiful tale... and how wonderful Patrick was to find these plates for you, Sarah... a true romantic... That's what I love... :)

    Enjoy them.... xv

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  7. Thank you Vicki...he doesn't even consider himself a romantic. I think that is what I love the most...he just thinks in such genuinely sincere manner that to me...it is so romantic.

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  8. How incredibly thoughtful and sweet. You may have a keeper there ;)

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    1. Oh, sigh...I've kept for this long, right? Might as well see if the plates arrive on the next trip!

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  9. What a beautiful, wonderful treasure of a gift. :-) So lovely. :-) XO

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  10. I would have been over the moon. And the fact that the pottery shop was still there! What a beautiful surprise.

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  11. I think they were there waiting for all this time. GREG

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  12. WOW it looks so delicious and yummy! Love your picture

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