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Al Fresco. Really Al Fresco.

Last Friday I premiered my podcast, Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons. Not only is it living in the “New and Noteworthy” section of iTunes, within spitting distance of the @NYTMag podcast, but it reached #10 on the food charts. I am astonished and grateful. Thank you so much.

Recently I was whinging about it being too cold to eat outside. I went on and on about having to wait until April to enjoy fancy eggs and Bloody Marys and gossipy-brunch-al-fresco fellowship. Little did I know. Less than two weeks after said post, I find myself sitting outside in subzero degree weather during a major snowstorm, at night, enjoying dinner.

The Hubby and I ski in Colorado every few years. Rather, he skis and I walk about what I like to call, “The Happy Christmas Village” of Breckenridge and pretend I’m Heidi of the mountains in my big furry hunter hat and I’m off to see my Grandfather, crunch-crunching through the snow the whole way. I drink way too much coffee, eat way too many pastries, and pretend I’m working when I know what I’m doing is napping and this year, checking my Libsyn stats. It’s relaxing because even though there’s Wifi the mountain ranges make you feel too remote to be reached by man or beast. It snows daily and temperatures this time of year hover around zero, so we end up eating like a couple of hibernating bears.

At least for the first few days. By day three the influx of burgers, pizza, and fondue sits like a layer of caulk on our stomachs and we’re craving something a scosche lighter. Like a French crêpe with brie cheese. You know you’ve eaten your way through The Happy Christmas Village and all of its “I need fuel for skiing” choices when a CRÊPE with BRIE is your light choice. And it’s why we found ourselves in front of Crêpes à la Cart the other night. Just one problem. It was snowing like shit! Squall snow, snow falling so hard you couldn’t see more than 10 feet in front of you. Snowpiercer snow. Plus, it might be two degrees outside. Might be. Pretty much the polar opposite of my al fresco eating ideal.

No worries. I came prepared by wearing my tacky floor-length goose down Land’s End old lady coat. With hood. Hey, at least it’s fashion-forward black. Young ladies there comes a point (usually around menopause) when you just don’t give a fuck about looking like a fashion victim. You’re just too damn cold. If you’re that worried about it, do what I do, top it off with a chi-chi hat. Or be frost-bitten and fabulous.

In this case, my lack of concern for the fashion police provided The Hubby and me with a unique dining experience. We placed our orders at the cart festooned with multicolored lights and blasting Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds (nice touch guys), and took our seats by the roaring firepit. Others were waiting, but as the snow increased its intensity, they ran for shelter on a nearby porch. Meanwhile when our order was up we remained snug and toasty by the fire, tearing into our crêpes with snow pouring down and the firepit sizzling as the snowflakes melted on it. My apple, brie, honey, and walnut crêpe warmed me up nicely adding another ½-inch to my stomach’s caulk layer. And as the snow continued to pile up on my hood and arms, I didn’t care. I was warm, I had food, and the look of envy on the faces of the others was an added bonus. Standing to leave finally, we howled with laughter at the mini-mountains of snow we had to brush off. You can’t get that al fresco experience on a sunny day in April. I love it when something I write proves me wrong.

It happened again when I wrote about sitting at the bar and how it was always better. On this very same trip to Breckenridge we had TWO (count ‘em two) experiences where sitting at the bar actually sucked. We went to a brewery that’s majorly crowded and head to the bar – only it’s a zoo and we end up waiting for a table with a red-light coaster gripped in our tight little mitts anyway. I was so hungry by the time we were picked when a bystander yelled, “Hooray! You’ve been selected!” I yelled back, “For death!” evil grimace on my face. I blame the altitude. The next night we go out for sushi and headed for two open spaces at the bar, not knowing the hostess actually seats folks like it’s a table and we’ve just jumped ahead in line and look like assholes.

Leave it to The Happy Christmas Village to teach this Heidi some things. I do love it when something I write proves me wrong. It keeps me honest, and it adds to the story. The bar isn’t always better forever and amen. And sitting in front of a fire with about an inch of snow on your head plowing into a hot crepe like it’s a Donner Party femur is not a bad thing at all. In fact, it’s quite nice.

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Stories. By Hand. By Mouth.

My podcast, Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, premieres TODAY! Subscribe at the website or on iTunes. Thank you for all the support and encouragement. This has taken me almost a year to complete, and I’m so grateful. And excited. Time to crack open a beer!

I’ll never forget the day I figured out how to get an “A” every time. In English at least. I was a Senior, and as part of our Advanced Placement class, we had to write an essay every Friday on a given topic. It was shitty and we hated it. Imagine that’s how you end your week every week? But we did it, and now I’m grateful to Mrs. Boyce because I can write a 5-paragraph essay in my sleep. When I figured out if you include the word “alienation” in the essay you automatically get an “A” the rest of my high school (and college) writing classes were a breeze. As was the formula for the 5-paragraph essay. Introductory paragraph, followed by three paragraphs supporting the thesis, and a clever conclusion.

Embarrassingly today I still write most of my blogs using this format. I present an idea, then spend the rest of the time offering supporting material, then attempt a clever closer that brings you back for more. Hey, if a formula works. Sometimes I have a hard time finding a topic to fit within the framework and so the edges of the formula might bleed a bit, but for the most part the 5-paragraph idea is there. In theory at least.

I read an article in Elle magazine recently about the writer Alessandra Torre who became a superstar by self-publishing women’s erotica on Amazon. She’ll publish a book every six weeks or so, speed-typing the plot and when she comes to a sex scene she’ll type something like “THREESOME FORMULA” and later she’ll go back in and plop down formulas for these scenes she keeps filed away. Mad Libs for the horny soccer mom? Quite a formula.

Why so many words about formulas? Because lately I’ve been getting bored with my own. Not the topics, God no, there’s enough stories around here to keep me typing until end of days. No it’s the written formula I want to break away from.

Which is why I started a podcast. As of today, February 27, 2015, you’ll find me telling stories with my voice instead of my words. At Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, every other Friday I’ll tell stories, then offer up interviews with food folks in our region. All of whom have stories of their own. In addition, we’ll broach a food topic and discuss it in depth, hopefully starting a conversation that continues above and beyond the podcast.

Why? Not to get too hippie-fied but every time I turn around the signs point to me doing this. Someone telling me I have a good voice. My own intense love for Maron’s podcast and This American Life. The fun I had being interviewed for two different podcasts in the past. The clincher was Jack Hitt’s book, “Off the Road” about his adventures while walking the Camino de Santiago in Spain. He mentions the medieval epic poem the Chanson de Roland and the oral tradition of poets during that time. Most people assume these “singer of tales” memorized the entire story, but no. They memorized phrases, or “formulae” (there’s that word again), consisting of scenes, names, events, and dates they interplayed so each retelling was unique. No one telling of the poem or story was ever the same.

This fascinated me. Stories by mouth rather than written formula. Sure there are certain phrases I’ll use during a vocal, spoken podcast, certain names and dates and events. But I bet the telling is always unique. No podcast will adhere as tightly to the 5-paragraphs. No retelling will ever be the same. I feel real honesty in that. And I want to try it out.

I’ll still blog. But I want to branch out. I don’t want to say I never tried. I want to live my life as a learner, an experience gatherer. This will be a new, hopefully exciting experience and journey. Please join me. I’ll do my best to provide you with enlightening, entertaining podcasts and as always I welcome your feedback. You can subscribe on the home page or through iTunes on your phone or iPad. Thanks again. Cheers.

Virginia Travel Guide 2015.

On 2/27/15 my podcast, Edacious, will premiere right here and elsewhere to hopefully much fanfare and applause. Uploading 3 episodes to begin. Segments will run anywhere from 30-60 minutes in length (slightly more if we get chatty), and appear every other Friday. When I get the hang of things, work out the kinks, I’ll post EVERY Friday. Each installment will consist of food news, reviews, and random thoughts from myself and one selected food professional or enthusiast from our community. Initial guests include Chef Craig Hartman, and the awesome women behind Our Local Commons.

I’m very excited about this new project and hope you’ll join me. Look for Edacious on iTunes, Stitcher, and the regular podcast hangouts (including a link here) beginning Friday, February 27, 2015! Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Have you found yourself on a Virginia Interstate recently? Needed to go to the bathroom? Walk the dog? Maybe you’re lost and need a map because either you don’t know how to work the Google Maps GPS on your phone or it has no more juice because you listened to three straight shows of Howard Stern downloads?

Whatever the case may be, you find yourself turning into a nice, clean Commonwealth-sponsored rest area or Virginia Welcome Center. You walk past the Doggy Rest Area, and there, on your way to the potty, you might spot the 2015 edition of the Virginia Travel Guide.

You just might. And you just might pick up one of them, designed with not one, but FIVE, yes FIVE, different covers. And you might turn to page 22. And you might see this.

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And you might just SQUEEEE! And do a little dance. You might. If you were me anyway. Because that’s what I did.

Yes, folks it’s my first magazine. Last spring I tromped all up and down our great Commonwealth and came up with what I feel is a great and definitive list of all the “hidden food gems” in our area. Although I never made it to Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, not sure why that one is in there. Although I’m sure it’s very nice. And I DID want to include Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond, but they wouldn’t because there’s no seating.

Pshaw! Seating. Who cares about seating? Go to Sally Bell’s. Go early and often. Buy a boxed lunch. Sit on the curb. Sit on your car hood. Sit in the street for all I care. Because wherever you sit, the lunch will be wonderful. Go to Sally Bell’s. Now.

Anyway, I’m damn proud of this. As is my Daddy. The man with no computer, not even an answering machine. But I can mail him a copy, and he can carry it down to his local Kmart whenever he picks up his prescriptions. Crow about how his oldest daughter is a RYE-TERRRR. Something tangible with shiny pages you can hold in your hand and re-read over and over and over. Finally, after almost 7 years of blogging he can see I’m actually stringing words together for a living. I’m not kidding about the no computer thing. I had to print a book of my old blog posts so he could read them. A true Luddite.

He’d hate that I’m including him in this post, he plays it pretty incognito. What the hell, like I said, he doesn’t have a computer. And now, for the next year at least, every time I have to pee on road trips (which is often as I have an unholy addiction to coffee) I’ll probably grab another copy. Do my part so they’ll run out and have to print more. Sure it’s not The New Yorker. Not yet. But it’s a start.

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