love.life.eat. of the week: in which a woman shakes in her pants in anticipation of her european holiday!

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love.: As most of you know, next month I’m spending three weeks traveling through Italy and France. People who know me well know that I am a woman who likes to be prepared. To that end, I’ve spent endless hours preparing my itinerary of hidden chow spots, tucked-away streets and art that will put my heart on pause. Some of my choice favorites: Localers, a service offering cool day tours by Parisians. At present, I’m swooning over the food trips. Whilst in Paris, I will definitely pass time in these coffee shops, as recommended by Sous Style. After over a decade of traveling to Paris, photographer and writer, Janelle McCulloch, serves up a sumptuous take on her picks for art, architecture, fashion, vintage, food, and all the hidden streets that are a must-visit in her vividly photographed book, Paris: An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart. Clearly, any advice Ines de la Fressange doles out I’m certain to follow. So I snapped up her beautifully bound, Parisian Chic: A Style Guide, and it’s chockfull of etiquette, tips and Ines’ picks for the ultimate Parisian holiday. Finally, the Bloggers Guide to Paris is a must-print {while you’re at it, devour all of Pret-A-Voyager’s posts, please!} When in Rome, I plan to follow Twitter friend + travel writer, Erica Firpo’s tips to the letter.

When it comes to apps, I’ve scored David Leibovitz’s divine Paris Pastry Tour, because if David’s writing about it, it’s certain to be DELISH. And to help me with my pitiful French and non-existent Italian, I’ve already downloaded the simple Mindsnacks apps.

**If you have any links, resources of tips for me, please share them in the comments section. I’m headed to Rome, Florence, Siena, Paris, Bordeaux, Biarritz, and possibly Basque country.

Brief aside: Golden Tip Cups. Aren’t they dreamy?

life.: Just as I ceased the endless trip vacillation {Basque country, no, Switzerland!}, do I read about Ashley’s visit to Southern Spain. You will fawn over the rich history, architecture and the sloe-gin vibe. Meanwhile, Jessica’s literary riffs remind me why I’m so delighted to have returned to books, articles, criticism with such fervor. Some days it feels as if I have a tapeworm when it comes to literature, and trust me, this is a good thing.

eat.: Indulging my passion for chocolate + chocolate are these yummy Homemade Bounty Bars. While I’m noshing on this and pretending to be more virtuous I can feast on Quinoa Salad, x3, Carrot Soup + Blood Orange Oil, Sweet Potato + Rosemary Biscuits.

chocolate pudding cake on a rainy day

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Recently, everything around me felt familiar yet amiss, like the first time you ride in the back seat of your own car. ― Vendela Vida, Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name

Today I spent time with a sweet friend, hatching plans. We’re both at the age where we’ve rejected what our parents have told us — that the whole of our lives had to be decided once we stepped off that verdant lawn. Once we tossed our tasseled hats into the air, claiming we’re done with all that. We lived life according to plan, but the plan isn’t working and we’re off to forge a new one. Off to undo the damage all the years had done. But we must be patient and do it all right. Because the most important thing we have in our lives is time and our relationships with other people. So when I told my friend my whole roadmap, where I’d be and when, she said, you just gave me the chills.

So here’s to going where the day takes you. Here’s to toasting new ventures and a new year with great friends. And why not have some chocolate pudding along the way?

INGREDIENTS: Hot Chocolate Pudding 4-6 servings (small ramekins); 3 servings (large ramekins), adapted from David Lebovitz.
3 ounces (85g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cubed
6 ounces (170g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 large eggs, at room temperature
6 tablespoons (65g) sugar
pinch of salt

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DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Set ramekins or baking dishes on a baking sheet.

Put the butter and chocolate in a medium-sized bowl, and set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring gently until smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat.

Using an electric mixer, or by hand with a whisk, whip the eggs, sugar, and salt until the mixture is light and foamy, and just holding its shape – about 5 minutes with a machine, or longer by hand. Fold one-third of the beaten eggs into the chocolate to lighten it, then scrape the lightened chocolate mixture over the beaten eggs, and fold it in just until there are no streaks of eggs visible.

Divide the batter into the baking dishes, filling them no more then 3/4rds full.

Bake the puddings on the lower rack of the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until the puddings are puffed up, but a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with some soft, “gooey” chocolate attached. Since I used large ramekins, it took 27 minutes to cook.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

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