Category Archives: Photography

shooting in and around the lubbock area

Day One, Beynac and Sarlat

I’m breaking the silence!  I find it extremely daunting to think about blogging about our trip.  Because I have it broken up into different blog post categories in my mind:

1. Beynac/Sarlat
2. Amboise/Chateaus
3. Honfleur/D-Day Beaches
4. Eating at Le Chateaubriand
5. Adventures with Angela
6. Dinner at Spring
7. Lunch at Aux Lyonnais, Chez Janou
8. Dinner at Chez Dumonet Josephine
9. Pastries/Bakeries
10. All other food adventures
11. Eiffel Tower/Notre Dame

And perhaps others.  Oh yes, these will all be individual blog posts.  So much so that you will grow to hate my blog.  I care not.  As everyone does with their blogs, I’m going to treat this like my journal.  I kept a real journal on our trip, writing with a pen on paper and everything!  It was quite abbreviated and I wrote a LOT about how horrendous actually getting to France turned out to be, so I’ll spare you those details.  Here we go – Day One, Beynac and Sarlat:

We arrived at the train station in Paris after a very long flight and had to wait a couple hours for the next train out of the Montparnasse line to Bordeaux, and so we got our very first French snacks.

A baguette with ham and tomatoes from a nice boulangerie chain called Paul. (iPhone pic)

Un baguette au jambon, sil vous plait

(it says Citron)

an apricot tart with creme anglaise (sorry, we ate it before we could take a pic) and a lemon tart

After a loooong and crazy train ride, we found our way to the rental car station in filthy Bordeaux.  Bordeaux might be nice and wonderful, but the downtown area was, as we both said at one point and pardon my French(!), a s@%# hole.  It just was.  It was like a third world country and they made us walk about a half mile with all our luggage to find the place where the cars were parked, and once we found the garage, we spent the better part of an hour trying to find our way OUT of Bordeaux.  Correction – a better part of an hour trying to find our way off the SAME STREET as the rental car place

Our car all nice and shiny before The Incident

We finally found our way to the highway and yay, saw the signs for St. Emilion, a town that our friends, Craig and Ann told us to go because Craig had been stationed there in the 50’s and said that it was charming and not much had changed.  He was right, it was gorgeous:

Arriving!

An abandoned church in St. Emilion

my first time using a paid toilet.


As you can see, it was a bit scary walking into.  Kinda looked like a prison toilet and water was at least an inch all over the floor.  I hope it was water.

You see? You see how easy it was to get lost?!


You shoulda seen the other guy...oh wait, that is the other guy.

Then…about 15km outside of St. Emilion, we took a wrong turn.  We corrected, turned around, came to a stop sign and STOPPED, and seeing no one coming around an 8ft stone wall, we pulled out into the intersection, and a lady in a mini-van with her two kids and dog plowed right into us, going at least 50mph, throwing us off the road.  She was way more bashed up than we were because thankfully, her van just clipped our front side and pushed us off the road.  So glad no one was hurt.  I can’t even imagine the trouble we would have had to deal with had we had injuries on her, her kids, or us.

Apparently every car in France comes with this packet that includes a folding road cone and a yellow jacket (like she’s wearing.)  See, that’s how bad the driving is in France.  Every car has to have a crash packet.  We first thought she must have been a crossing guard in her spare time when we saw her put on her vest…

So this all happened around 7:45p.m.  The rental car sent a taxi to take us from the crash site to our hotel in Beynac, almost 100km away!  So we waited till almost 10pm when a crazed taxi driver in a Mercedes pulled up and loaded our stuff into his car.  If we hadn’t been so beyond exhausted, up for 24 hours and in shock from the wreck, we might have been a little more concerned at his going 90mph around Pike’s Peak type turns the entire way.  He even mentioned the Pike’s Peak race at one point.  We had a hard time communicating with him as our French is terrible and his English wasn’t much better, but we both spoke the language of food and so we asked him his favorite dishes and suggestions.  That got him really excited.  So for an hour he told us about the regional specialties: walnuts, walnut oil, duck confit, foie gras, etc.  We really enjoyed talking to this madman, but were happy when we arrived (alive) in Beynac at our beautiful hotel (with a funny name: Hotel Restaurant du Chateau) and didn’t have to pay the $250 cab fare!

Beynac the next morning - our hotel. Our window is right over the right patio

The view from below our hotel

Beynac is gorgeous.  A town of only about 500 people, it’s quiet, relatively untouched by tourism, and really friendly (the French are really nice, honestly!)  I wish we had taken a pic of our first breakfast – a wonderful reminder that we were in France, waking up our weary bodies to the fact that we were no longer traveling or wrecking our rental car, or being driven at midnight by a madman.  We were instead eating baguettes with prosciutto and brie, croissants with butter and jam and pain au chocolat (yes, bread wrapped around dark chocolate)

The view from sitting outside our hotel in Beynac. Notice the foie gras sign - it's everywhere!

My rock, my help, my sanity on our trip. Always smiling, always telling me it was going to be okay.

After breakfast, another taxi (still crazy, but a lady this time) came to take us to a nearby city to pick up a new rental car.  Once we got there, we drove back and stopped in a little town called Sarlat (sar-lah) and found a market going on downtown.  So of course, we made our first stop for one of France’s obsessions: glace

I got the one in the middle - apple pie, and the mystery flavor of the day. Matt got popcorn and coffee flavors - both awesome

It was time for our first official lunch in France.  So we stopped in the market at a place called La Practice.  Here’s the menu:

Duck Confit, Duck liver pate, walnut cake and a cheese for dessert

A very French looking man - just loved the mood of him watching the market patrons

The pate and bread and a "pichet" of wine.

Confit de canard with pommes Sarladaise

The cheese - cheese is as common as ice cream for dessert. That's why I love the French 🙂

A big poster about foie gras in the market. I find it funny how completely common it is over there and over here, it's a culinary faux pas. They take great pride in this product and it's evident.

Our crazed cabbie was right - Walnut products are a regional specialty: jams, oils, breads, liqueurs, etc

One of the many beautiful doorways in Sarlat

I loved this scene - Woman with a baby, Woman on her patio observing people go by

Another cute tiny shopping scene in Sarlat

Pain au noix - they aren't kidding about their walnuts. This was way more nuts than bread, but it did keep us alive a few nights in a row when we were hungry at our hotel!

We headed back to Beynac (bay-nock) a couple hours before sunset, so we decided to hike up the hill to the top to see the castle and the view from on top, looking down into the Dordogne valley.  Along the way up the hill, we marveled that people actually lived in the side of this mountain, on streets that were several hundred years old.

A close-up of a man on his porch

Aaand the wide angle view. Can you believe he actually lives there and conducts his daily life there? It's a dream!

More gorgeousness on the way to the top of the hill

Just a random porch

Halfway up - still a lot of climbing to do! Glad I wore heeled boots...

Flowers growing out of the walls

Just stare at this for a moment. How does that dude get his car down that "street" Eh?!

a passage way at the base of the castle on top of the hill

A cemetery was on top of the mountain - must have been some pretty rich people!

Another tombstone

And there she is in all her glory. The Dordogne valley, as seen from on top the hill by the chateau in Beynac

Another view

I was there. I could have stood there for hours taking it all in

God is awesome

someone else felt the same...

Matt in front of the valley

In front of the best view we saw the entire trip

Heading back down

Matt at dinner that night.

with a lovely view...

Dinner was great at this restaurant.  We didn’t take pics of each dish because we were probably just enjoying the view too much and the sunset.  But I remember our dessert of ice cream and walnut liqueur and fresh whipped cream.

And the next day, we just walked around the town a bit more before heading off to our next town of Amboise.  I had to snap this little guy, sitting outside his mother’s store, watching tourists go by.  What a magical place.  I’m so glad we began our trip in these sleepy towns.

Could he be any cuter?

Next blog: Amboise, castles and D-Day beaches.  Stay tuned!

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Filed under Food Stuffs, General Hoo-Ha, Photography

Adele and time with the Meltons

We had a fabulous weekend hanging out with Kyle and Libby and eating good food and seeing great music.  Here’s some highlights:

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Hailey – the newest Melton is getting so big!

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such a baby face!

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Shannon and Grace playing on her computer

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Grace excited about her new bike

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beautiful Libby and Grace

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me and my favorite people

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me and matt at dinner before the concert

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the amazing Adele in concert!

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she was so cute and kept mentioning the Grammy’s and squealing and giggling about it.  at one point she even took a picture of the audience because she couldn’t believe how many people were there.

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Filed under General Hoo-Ha, Photography

Spatchcock

That is a fun word to say.  Last night, Matt and I grilled a chicken, using our outdoor charcoal grill for the first time this year.  Matt got a recipe from Ruhlman to do a spatchcock chicken – which is really just a chicken that’s had it’s backbone cut out and then flattened prior to grilling.  Ruhlman had a great baste for the chicken, to be applied in the last 20 minutes of cooking which I will simply copy/paste here.  This post is not us doing anything original, but just following a couple of recipes for a really great summer night of grilling.  We cooked everything on the grill from the chicken to a couple of roasted tomatoes stuffed with blue cheese and topped with breadcrumbs and olive oil (from the grilling issue of Bon Appetit) to our baguette.

These are the blue cheese stuffed tomatoes.  Probably our favorite part of the meal as we cut them up and ate them on top of our grilled baguette.

We used the baste for the chicken and slathered it on our baguette and laid them down to toast as the chicken was finishing up.

Matt applying the baste to the chicken.

Yes, you are a yummy chicken.  Here is the baste recipe, a la Michael Ruhlman:

Rip’s Grilled Chicken Baste

Juice from ½ lime
4 ounces butter (a stick)
1-1/2 tablespoons Coleman’s powdered mustard
1 tablespoon dried tarragon
1 tablespoon minced shallot

Squeeze the lime juice into a small sauce pan and place it over high heat.  When the juice is warm, add the butter and swirl it in the juice constantly over the high heat until the butter is melted (you can just melt the butter if you want, but the swirling keeps the butter emulsified, which helps to keep the ingredients well distributed).  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.  That’s it.

Serve the grilled chicken with a chilli lime mayonnaise or simply squeeze some juice from the other half of the lime over the chicken.

The full view.  I love summer.

Here is the recipe for the tomatoes.  I seriously recommend putting these with toasted baguette for a meal in and of itself.

blue cheese crusted tomatoes Bon Appétit | July 2008

The flavors of two classic steakhouse menu items—blue cheese dressing and stewed tomatoes—are combined in one incredible, simple-to prepare grilled dish.

Makes 6 servings

by Judith Fertig

ingredients

1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 medium tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 3 ounces)

preparation

Prepare barbecue (high heat), leaving opposite side unlit if gas grill or without coals if charcoal grill. Mix breadcrumbs and olive oil in small bowl, mashing to coat. Cut top 1/4 from each tomato. Sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper. Top each with 1 tablespoon blue cheese. Sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.

Arrange tomatoes (topping side up) on unlit side of grill. Cover grill and cook tomatoes until slightly soft and cheese melts, about 13 minutes. Serve immediately.

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Tracy and Alan’s Wedding

Tracy and Alan had a beautiful wedding in Ft. Collins, CO.  Their families were just wonderful – so full of love and happiness.  I enjoyed my entire day with them and actually teared up a bit when they left.  Such a sweet couple and so calm and patient with me even when I made Tracy drag herself down into a dirty stair way.  (those happen to be my favorite.)  So bear with me – there are 50-something photos in this post.  More to find here tomorrow night. 

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one little flower girl a tad shy at first (she was extremely photogenic later on)

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the other flowergirl’s gorgeous hair.  she wasn’t upset about a thing – until the very end of the day! 

 

 

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I loved this.  Alan said he had to get married on Texas soil so he brought some from home and poured it in his boots. 

 

 

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awesome Alan in his awesome hat

 

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one of the many antics I did not discourage in the groomsmen.

 

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antic #2.  They all took turns going down the slide and all the pics are awesome of this.  Unfortunately, I was having too much fun and didn’t notice that my card ran out of space and I just kept snapping away so I don’t have the last 2 guys going down the slide – and that includes Alan!  I was so upset.  Sorry guys!  We’ll have to do it again sometime!

 

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everyone helping Tracy get ready

 

 

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I love how this photo looks so retro.

 

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Tracy had just about enough of her fancy shoes (first picture) and opted for the boots instead.  I loved the expressions of the flowergirls. 

 

 

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sorry, but I just have to say – when these darlings came out from getting ready, they saw their grandpa (Tracy’s dad) and said, “Papa looks handsome”  SO CUTE.

 

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Alan and his parents

 

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this was about as excited as the ring bearer got.

 

 

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Mixed emotions.  He kept going from tearing up to smiling really really big as Tracy came down the aisle.

 

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this one and the next from the rusty dirty stair way

 

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worth a little dirt on the dress

 

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everyone was outside waiting for Tracy and Alan’s grand exit and I thought grandma looked amazing. 

 

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one of the groomsmen pouring out the rest of Alan’s Texas soil so they could make their exit properly.

 

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The looks on the faces in this shot are priceless.  This is when I teared up.  You can click on any of these images to make them larger.

 

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The rest of the pictures will be on my site tomorrow evening.  It takes a while to get thousands up!  Just thought a couple of you 😉 would be dying to see SOMETHING!

 

Thanks again.

A

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Filed under Photography, Weddings

Vietnamese Pork Sandwiches

A couple of weekends ago, Matt found a recipe for a Vietnamese pork marinade that sounded awesome.  It called to roast the pork loin after you marinade it, but he decided to use our smoker in the back yard instead.  Then, remembering a lovely Mexico -One Plate at a Time episode wherein Bayless’ annoying daughter pickled some onions, we decided that pickled shallot and carrots would be an awesome crunchy topper – that and a few sprigs of Thai Basil and a squirt of Sriracha, of course.

Here is a loose recipe that we used – nothing was really measured – it’s kind of all to taste.  You can get most of these ingredients in the Asian food aisle of your supermarket, but we did have to go to an Asian market to find the sweet soy (which is heavenly might I add).

Vietnamese Pork Marinade*

Grind a few stalks of lemongrass in food processor.
Add an onion. (we used shallot)
When pulped add a good handful of garlic. (4 or 5 cloves)
Grind black pepper until your arm is sore. Twice. Add it.
Now a dash of fish sauce, coriander, sweet soy, brown sugar, Sriracha hot sauce or fresh chilis, sesame oil.

This paste needs a couple of days to work on the meat. Add some fresh lemon juice if you need it to work faster.  We marinated one large pork loin for a little over 24 hours.

We smoked the pork loin at 225 until it reached 160 degrees – this took our smoker about 4 hours.

Slice thin and serve on toasted ciabatta with pickled onions and carrots (we used carrots instead of jalapenos) and Thai basil, more sweet soy and Sriracha drizzle.  Oh wow.

Serves a lot.

*recipe found on Chowhound

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Filed under Food Stuffs, Photography

New Photo Blog

From now on, all of my recent wedding/portrait work will appear on http://www.alisajoyblog.com.  I wanted a separate place for photography so I could keep this blog more just food, food photos, general what’s-up, etc.  So put it on your blog rolls, faithful 5!  🙂

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Filed under Brides, Engagements, Photography

Chelsea and Mark

Chelsea and Mark are a sweet, down to earth couple that I have the pleasure of doing wedding photos for in September.  They are getting married at Spirit Ranch (for you past Lubbockites, that used to be County Line) and so to contrast what will be lots of outdoor, woodsy type shots, we did their engagement shoot downtown in the depot.  Like all guys, I think Mark was a tad skeptical at first that the engagement shoot would be like a trip to the dentist, but I think by the end, he started having fun. 🙂  Here are a few favorites (I love it when you can’t tell we’re in Lubbock)

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Filed under Engagements, Photography