Tuesday, September 21, 2010

San Francisco and the Drive Back

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoWe only had one day in San Francisco, but we made the best of it. The first stop of the day was San Francisco Orchid Society's yearly Orchid Show and Sale. Since receiving my first grocery store Phalaenopsis orchid in high school, I have nurtured a fond obsession with orchids. Since that first plant, which I subsequently killed through over watering, I have not been able to keep myself from buying more and more, and killing them from one mistake or another. I have tried Cymidiums and Vandas, Cattleya and Paphiopedilum Orchids. Some I have not been able to provide enough light for and others needed too frequent watering.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoYears later, after sacrificing dozens of plants, I stumbled on keeping orchids in terrariums. After this realization, I started researching smaller orchid species that required low light situations and high moisture levels. Looking through countless blogs and articles, I found Andy's Orchids, a nursery in California, that specializes in miniature orchids and "orchids on a stick" (mounted orchids). Although I have ordered several plants from their website, I have longed to visit the nursery and meet all of their plants in person.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoThe nursery is located an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, and since I missed the opportunity to go there during my first visit to Los Angeles, I was determined to get there on my second. Looking up the address, I discovered that Andy's Orchids would be exhibiting at the San Francisco Orchid Show right in Golden Gate Park, on the two days that were going to be in the city. Perfection.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoWe got up early and drove our little red bug to the show. I was so excited! Looking for parking, I was the one yelling at cars ahead of us and calling after pedestrians to "find their automated vehicles since it was my turn to procure botanic excitement."

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoI will admit it, I am fairly simple, and many things get me excited from the gravitational movement of water to the embroidery on a piece of lace, but I can hardly depict how out of my mind I was to walk into a stadium full of orchid booths. Left and right were dark green formations of leaves with silky caterpillar like exposed roots. I couldn't pick a direction, everything seemed wonderful. I needed to center myself before I could make a logical walk through and find the wonderful plants that would come home with me.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoAfter the show, we made our way to the Golden Gate Bridge for a customary tourist photo-up in the gusty wind. We dropped off our car, and headed out to explore the city. We visited the Castro, the gay district, and walked by Castro Theatre and through all of the cute shops marveling at names like Los Flamingos, Does Your Father Know?, The Pendulum and Moby Dick. The neighborhood, as well as the city in general is also host to an incredible collection of unique homes. Almost every house we passed by, and they crowd each other on every block of the city, was unique and adorable. I found myself planning out my life and decor as the future owner of every second house I passed.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoThe main event in San Francisco was our dinner plan: Rafael made reservations at La Mar, which I was told prepared the best Peruvian cuisine in the world. Our reservation was for eight -o-clock so we headed at a leisurely pace towards the Embarcadero, where the restaurant was located. It was a fairly long walk down Market Street from the Castro and we had the opportunity to explore the length of the city and visit many shops along the way.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoPeruvian food takes advantage of the huge fish market of the country and the landmark dish is Cebiche. La Mar cebicheria has made its mission to expose the rest of the world to the traditions and flavors of Peru's fresh fish and delicate spices.

To prove to me that Peruvian cebiche is like no other, and better than any other, in the world, we decided to go with the sampler which included Mixto, Chifa, Nikei and Clásico cebiches. Each one was unique and wonderful: The Mixto combined mahi mahi, calamari and octopus with a traditional aji leche de tigre sauce. The Clásico featured halibut and red onions in the same amazing leche de tigre sauce with sweet yam and Peruvian corn. The Clásico and Mixto are the more traditional dishes, but Peru is incredibly influenced by Asian flavors which were evident in the Chifa and Nikei cebiches: Chifa is a mahi mahi with scallions, peanuts, ginger and pickled carrots with strips of seaweed in a sesame and cilantro leche de tigre, this was my favorite. The quartet was rounded off with Nikei, a concoction of ahi tuna, cucumber, avocado in a tamarind sauce.

All four dishes were incredible! I have always loved fresh seafood and have often gravitated towards sushi and other formats of raw fish. This may be one of my favorite new dishes.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoFollowing the cebiche, we had another traditional dish which Rafael's wonderful mother has made for us before and I already had a passion for, the causa limeña. This dish is an aji flavored potato puree topped with dungeness crab, quail egg, tomato and an avocado puree. The dish was great in its own right, but I think it lacked a bit in lime and avocado and I missed the strong flavor hints of our homemade causa. We finished the dinner off with an anticucho de corazón which is a skewer of beef heart with corn, roasted potatoes and a spicy rocoto sauce.

Since I was already in a cheating mood, I decided to cheat on my diet some more and we both ordered a dessert. Rafael ordered the traditional suspiro limeño which consisted of a martini glass of dulce de leche mousse with port wine meringue. It was incredibly sweet and strong, but wonderful. I had the crocante de maize: a sandwich of praline contained a lemon mousse which was served with chocolate ice cream and raspberry sauce. The flavors were light and refreshing, neither too strong but all unforgettable and almost Parisian.

We had an incredible meal and talked about it often on our drive back to Los Angeles the next morning.


Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoWe made it to Los Angeles in great time on Monday afternoon and made our way to fulfill yet another of my obsessions. I have a great passion for European culinary arts and pastry making. My current favorite pastry is the Parisian macaron cookie. It is an incredibly simple and delightful cookie which has only recently caught attention in the American pastry market. Wonderfully colored almond flour meringue domes shelter a variety of flavors of buttercream, ganache and jam making for a rainbow of flavor possibilities in a light and chewy cookie.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoFew American bakeries specialize in macarons, while in Paris, pastry chef's pride their ingenuity and skills as bakers by their intricate macaron displays. I first tried the intricate pastry at François Payard's FC Chocolate Bar, my replacement for his recently closed down restaurant and cafe on the Upper East Side. Since that time, I have purchased macarons at any venue I could find them for comparison and have attempted to make them myself with fair results.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoSince the beginning of my obsession, I have frequently heard the name Paulette Macarons in San Francisco and Beverly Hills and decided that this was my chance to try Paulette Koumetz and Christophe Michalak's miniature creations. I picked out a box of twelve of the most enticing flavors for us (mostly me) to try and ordered some gift boxes for friends. Sitting outside the Beverly Hills shop we tried our first two Paulette macarons, the passion fruit and sweet wedding almond, both of which were delightful.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, San FranciscoOur trip coming to an end, I felt the need to visit In and Out Burger which I was introduced to on my first trip to the city. The local chain has an incredible following and sports a secret menu through which you could get your burger "Animal Style", with sauteed onions, or "Protein Style" where the bun is replaced by a leaf of lettuce. A fun way to end a great vacation.

Overall, I had an incredible trip on the West Coast with my best friend, and came home feeling like I had an experience I would never forget.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Los Angeles to San Francisco, our trip up the coast

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1Early Thursday morning, we packed up our little red Volkswagen beetle and headed out for our trip up the coast. I have looked forward to an opportunity to do this since my friend Nancy told me about her own trip earlier this year. This drive was the culmination of our trip, and we couldn't wait to get started on the epic ride.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1On the way up the coast we stopped to say hello to Rafael's Auntie Mora in San Luis Obisbo. We stayed for lunch and a tour of the city which was hosting a sidewalk painting contest. Mora is Rafael's aunt's lifelong best friend and it was an incredible treat to meet her. We had lunch and talked about our messed up love lives and shared hilarious stories about our past, and before we knew it, it was three in the afternoon.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1Although we were quite a bit behind our schedule, we decided to continue on our journey up the coast. Mora was unsure about our decision, she thought we wouldn't reach the Big Sur until midnight, but the drive up the coast is truly the reason for the California trip, so we couldn't forsake it.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1We spent a bit more time chatting about the most important things to see on our route, making sure not to miss the elephant seals and the beautiful vistas and map in hand, headed out on our way at four in the afternoon equipped with four water bottles and caffeinated shots to help us survive.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1As we made our way towards route one, all the sunshine that graced us in San Luis Obisbo disappeared into a billowing fog. Shapely, green covered mountains seemed to pierce giant pillows of fog that tumbled down their sides and stopped just above our rooftop. Although we set out somewhat disappointed by the lack of clear skies, the view of the mountain and surf through the dense fog was incredibly romantic. There is something cinematic in driving on a curved, mountainside road where everything but the coming turn is masked by an incredibly thick fog, at least it was cinematic for me since I wasn't driving.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1As per our instructions we stopped at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We parked our car and walked under the highway to an overlook which Mora said she would murder us if we did not see. At first the scene did not seem any different from the others, until we saw a waterfall falling on the beach right from the mountains. It was incredibly beautiful through the fog and the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore and the waterfall frothing down the mountaintop and slamming onto the soft sand was an overwhelming experience. (You can barely see the waterfall in the above panorama, it is settled in the recess of the cliff to the left.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1Expecting a seven hour drive and not being able to see any land marks we were expecting, we sailed right past the elephant seals, which I desperately wanted to see, but we stopped at many wonderful vistas where we were honored by incredible sights of flowing surf on beaches surrounded by cliff sides enveloped in fog. The greyish brown expanses are freckled with incredibly vibrant yellow and pink wildflowers.
Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1Throughout our entire trip, I have been noticing and incredible creeping succulent that seems to cover the entirety of California. The reddish green fonds grow off almost every surface from the sandy beaches to restaurants' plotted landscapes and from the tips of the growths sprout beautiful yellow cactus like flowers. I was enchanted with this plant on my first visit to California and selfishly tore off a bit to take home with me. This plantlet grew marvelously and spread like wildfire until I moved it a bit too close to the heater in the winter, and it melted almost overnight.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1I couldn't help myself, every stop we made to look over the cliff-side, I became more and more fond of my plan to gather another sample. Once we arrived at the famous Bixby Bridge on the Big Sur, I made my way down to the edge of the cliff towards my new little friend. I found the perfect specimen and didn't fall off the side of the cliff, so I can call the day a success.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1We made great time even through all of our stops and reached Big Sur before sundown. We were greeted by some unexpected sunshine as we veered away from the shore side and drove through a forest of incredibly huge sycamores. The sun shining over the foggy clouds in the distance created a heavenly white light which was incredibly disorienting as we took a turn and descended back into the foggy mist.
Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Route 1We soon arrived in San Francisco and prepared for another wonderful day of our trip. Although I wish I could have seen more of the coast, and wish I could do it again, I think we were honored with an incredible romantic sight and I would not have given up the opportunity.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wednesday in Los Angeles: The Getty Villa, Malibu Seafood and El Matador Beach

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachI have always had an incredible passion for western art, and since my first trip to Italy, I have had an incredible passion for ancient Roman art and architecture. Since that time, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with Dr. Eleonora Del Federico and Dr. Bernhard Blümich
in Herculaneum, Italy where we studied and had access to some of the greatest examples of Roman architecture, wall paintings and mosaics. We had the opportunity to research in the newly excavated Villa dei Papiri which few people are allowed to enter, and we were only allowed to go in two people at a time to prevent any excess change in humidity.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachStanding barefoot on the remains of the tiled floors of the patio in Herculaneum, I would wonder how the columns would have stacked up around me to the intricate sculpted and painted ceilings and how luxurious the sculptured gardens would look if I had the opportunity to see them in their prime. The Getty Institute has been doing a significant amount of research in the Villa dei Papiri and has recreated the original site in their Getty Villa museum. I was thrilled at the opportunity to see the Getty's recreation of the villa and to have the opportunity to walk its halls mumbling "I touched the real one."

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachThe halls of the museum are sheltered within a just, if not somewhat enlarged, recreation of a roman villa. The entrance leads to a handsome atrium from which a series of small rooms spider out in every direction. Within these rooms are held glass artifacts, stoneware and beautiful ornaments excavated from the Herculaneum site and other sites of the same time period. After wandering through the maze of rooms, a brightly lit doorway leads you out to a small garden in the center of which is a shallow pool flanked by at least 16 bronze statues. This garden seems like quite the main event, until you walk through to the central garden which boasts an incredibly symmetrical plan with a vast pool and fountain, beautifully sculpted bushes and a variety of fig and pomegranate trees.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachIt seems the Romans were just as fond of gardens as I am: every entryway leads to another garden. The eastern gallery boasts mosaic structure which serves as a fountain and water source to a small pool filled with water lilies and lotus plants, and the side of the mansion is flanked by a huge herb garden, planted with all of the plants that have been depicted on Roman wall paintings. Thyme and rosemary fill neat, rectangular plots while ripening pomegranate and fig trees contour the plots and provide an incredible shaded walk.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachEach piece of statuary and carved scenery in the museum's well rounded collection is an inspiration to any painter, and my particular interest in figural compositions and relief-esque sense of space made the Getty Villa an amazing museum for me to visit. I would recommend it to anyone.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachAfter the museum we drove over to Malibu Seafood, a great place to get fish and chips about 20 feet away from the shoreline. I was introduced to this place a year ago on my first visit to Los Angeles and couldn't wait to go back. We sat on their opened air patio in the sunshine eating fried fish and watching waves crash onto the beach.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachWe continued on our drive along the coast line and arrived at El Matador beach. The amazing beaches on the Malibu coast are surrounded by cliffs and provide safe heaven from the freeway that stretches along the coast. We parked and made our way to the edge of the cliff and as we followed a curving, dusty pathway down the cliff-side, we were honored by an incredible prospect of the wide open sea and the sculptured rocks it repeatedly crashes into.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachEl Matador beach is known for its romantic nooks and as we descended to the beach we found no more than 10 couples within eyes' breadth and settled by a private cavern by the famous Matador. We had no neighbors in site save for the albatross, who was incredibly interested in my purse and would saunter across the beach to it any time we were more than 15 feet away from our camp.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachFor as long as I can remember, I have had an incredible passion for the ocean and romantic caverns by the sea. This beach was perfect. A great stone structure abuts the edge of the beach, the strength of the waves has carved out caverns in the stone and years of dust and debris have given refuge to flowers and succulents that grow atop the rock structure and droop down its sides.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachWalking around the rocky shoreline, we discovered a vast display of sea life, biding time until the return of the high tide, a seemingly dangerous lifestyle, but it seems they have been surviving in that manner for years. Giant orange and violet starfish clung to the undersides of rocks and hid covered by disturbed clumps of seaweed. To my amazement, a large population of anemones clustered behind every shady rock. They drooped lifelessly in the low tide, but awakened instantly as the waves ushered water between the crannies of their rocky homes.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachThe Pacific Ocean is incredibly cold, at least in the summer, as that is the only time I have yet visited the west coast, so most of our meanderings on the beach were in the safety of the warm sand. Only once did I venture past ankle deep in the waves, and had to recuperate for quite a while afterwards.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador BeachWe walked up and down the shore and amused ourselves with photoshoots and feeling the sand shift under out feet as the waves hit our feet. We would have waited for the sun to set behind the glistening sea had we not been recalled to the present and packed our things to join our friends for dinner.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Getty Center, Malibu Seafood, El Matador Beach

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Los Angeles on Tuesday: Getty Center

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterWe arrived in Burbank, Los Angeles, and after some troubles, rented a red Volkswagen beetle (our excuse is that it was the cheapest car available, but really we thought it was fabulous). We were staying at Rafael’s friends Kit and Christine’s house and we drove over to Christine’s work to meet her for lunch, she works at Dreamworks studios. Turning onto Flower street, we expected a futuristic compound of animators and studios, and in its stead we found a commanding Venetian façade of orange spackling crowded with climbing vines and topped with ceramic tiled roofing. The buildings were all connecting Venetian villas with cypress trees guarding each entryway and flowered hedges silhouetting the sidewalks.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterWe ate lunch at the cafeteria, which provides free lunch and breakfast everyday, even to us, and took a tour of the buildings and gardens. Dreamworks has built a beautiful brook into their grounds, which leads to a waterfall, that supplies a lake, which in turn runs off to a lagoon stocked in koi and goldfish who hide beneath the shade of water lily pads.

After our tour of Dreamworks, we headed over to the Getty Center in Los Angeles. My first visit there last year was during a private reception for a conference I was part in, but I longed to see the complete art collection and stroll the gardens in the warm afternoon sun.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterThe Getty Center boasts a truly wonderful prospect. The museum is situated atop a giant hill, and the modern limestone structure contrasts wonderfully with the trees and shrubberies it has surrounded itself with. The museum is comprised of a cylindrical set of buildings surrounding a fountain and limestone courtyard.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterA multi-leveled patio overlooks the entirety of Los Angeles, which is so much more extensive than the compact vertical cities I am accustomed with. Clumps of buildings and metropolitan areas are surrounded by romantic hilltops and mountains scattered with palms and eucalyptus trees. From the highest overlook, you are enchanted with a huge succulent tree garden. A grouping of tree aloe plants hedges a stairway to a circular preserve of a wide range of cacti.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterPeter Paul Rubens and Jan Bruegel the Elder "Return From War: Mars Disarmed by Venus" 1610

We toured each set of galleries in turn and I was overjoyed to find a substantial collection of Peter Paul Rubens paintings and studies as well as the works of several of his students and contemporaries. One painting in particular caught my attention, Return From War: Mars Disarmed by Venus, because the style of the figures and setting did not seem to belong to the same artist, yet both styles of painting seemed incredibly familiar. I was surprised to learn that Peter Paul Rubens frequently collaborated with Jan Bruegel the Elder who would work on the backgrounds. Rubens and Bruegel are two of my favorite artists of that time and have both had an incredible influence over my work.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterPeter Paul Rubens "Miracles St. Francis" 1627 and Peter Paul Rubens "King Ferdinand" 1635

The Getty Museum has an amazing collection of European art ranging from pre-Renaissance works through the Eighteenth Century. The collection is separated by period and nation in the separate buildings surrounding the courtyard. Traversing the galleries in one trip is easily managed by taking breaks to stroll through the courtyard gardens.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty Center Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun "Crossing of the Granicus"1672

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterApart from its permanent collection, the entirety of which I was unable to see on my last visit, the Getty Center had an incredible printmaking show. Printing in the Grand Manner is a collection of large scale prints reproduced from the paintings of Charles le Brun and his studio. In general, I am always very fond of figure drawings for reference, if for nothing else, but these works were quite to my taste. The Grand Manner is a genre very focused on a heroic protagonist of sorts, the imagery surrounding whom, depicts the protagonist overcoming some evil, celebrating a battle or avoiding a vice. The images are incredibly complex and reproduced quite well in catalog format.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterOne of the main events, at least in my view, is the Alice in Wonderland-like central garden created by Robert Irwin. The garden follows a sloping hill, through which a gushing stream meanders between planted succulents, flowering shrubs and drooping trees. The stream falls off into a waterfall which leads to a calm pool encasing a labyrinth of finely pruned shrubs. Surrounding this pool is a series of walkways and plantings of gorgeous colorful blooms and mint green succulents, leading to mushroom like structures from which roses emerge in full bloom. Every time I visit the garden, it looks completely different, but never does it fail to put me in a reverie.

Daria Souvorova, Sweet Daria's, Los Angeles, Getty CenterAs the sun began to set, we took the trolley down the Getty mountain to continue our adventures.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It's Rarely Sunny in Seattle!

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's SeattleFor weeks, if not months, I have been obsessing with my trip to the West Coast. My best friend and roommate, Rafael Soldi, moved to Seattle a few months back and I have been missing him terribly. I got a week and a half off work and showed up in Seattle, from where we planned an epic road trip from Los Angeles up the coast to San Francisco.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's SeattleI arrived in Seattle on Monday afternoon and began a comprehensive tour of the city. My first afternoon there, we had lunch at Oddfellows Cafe in Capitol Hill and walked down a steep set of hills towards downtown Seattle. I was surprised at the variety of cute little shops and cafes in Capitol Hill. Rafael's uncle was grilling us salmon that night, so we stopped by Pike Place Market to pick up the fish and veggies and look around the local shops. An incredible aroma accompanied the gorgeously colored assortment of flowers and bouquets available at every other stand.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's Seattle
I have been dieting lately, and a few strawberries are as close as I dare approach a dessert, so we bought a carton and continued our exploration of the city. Contrary to the sunny afternoons I was led to expect, Seattle graced us with its customary grey skies and drizzle, but there is a certain romance in pacing cobblestone streets in a light rain with a basket of strawberries in hand. We stopped by Anthropologie, because I can't seem to keep out of that store no matter what state I find myself in.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's Seattle
On Tuesday, we took a tour of all the lovely little houses in Capitol Hill, as Rafael needed to convince me that it is in fact somewhat logical to leave New York and move to Seattle. All the little houses, scattered up and down the hilly roads sport green turfs and cobblestone walkways, rosemary gardens and ivy and flowering vines climbing up the fences and porch columns. Each house has a distinctly unique architecture: a little pink house may sport stained glass windows and carved columns, while the white one next door a glassed in porch and a sloping roof. Rafael's dream house matched my outfit, so I felt the need to be photographed with it.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's Seattle
After brunch at Volunteer Park Cafe, a cute little cafe island in the midst of a completely residential area, we walked to Volunteer Park which is home to beautiful forest and gardens and a surprisingly amazing botanic greenhouse. After fulfilling an odd necessity to climb into a beautiful multi-trunked tree, we headed towards the park's greenhouse.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's SeattleAmidst towering pine trees and shrubberies, stands a Victorian glass enclosure of quite substantial dimensions. Inside we found three distinct microclimates: The central tropical enclosure held most of the collection's orchids and ferns. Leafy palms of different varieties supported climbing orchids and air plants on their trunks. Flowering trees produced huge white and pink bell shaped flowers that drooped into the walkways. The right wing held mosses and higher humidity ferns as well as bog plants, pitcher plants and a variety of other carnivores and the left wing housed an extensive bromeliad collection as well as many huge air plants that have spent years multiplying and sending out shoots to cover all of their branchy supports.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's Seattle
The rest of the day we spent wandering the cute boutiques and walking around a completely deserted lake beach, which I hear tale is incredibly populated during sunny summer afternoons.

On Wednesday, we decided to take a tour of the Seattle Underground. Seattle, a city that was built directly on the sea level and suffered for many years from muddy streets and backwash into their sewage systems. After a huge fire that destroyed the majority of the city's commercial district, the mayor decided to raise the streets between ten and twenty feet to lift the city off the sea level and eliminate all of the sanitary issues. Businesses could not wait for the streets to be completed to rebuild their businesses, thus they built entrances on the first and second floors of their buildings, thus, after the new streets were built and paved, an underground city was created which for a long time was home to excess businesses and petty crime and is now a popular tourist destination.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's SeattleAfter the tour, which although cheesy and touristy, was incredibly entertaining, we headed to Fremont where we had lunch at a cute greek cafe where we received instructions on how to get to Theo's, United State's last chocolate factory that produces bars completely from scratch. Theo's factory makes use of antique machines that they bought from closing factories and estate sales and prepare unique bars of chocolate in limited runs of 2000 bars. Beautifully designed wrappers depict animals and kids holding up figs and tossing hazelnuts and the factory shop has bars stacked over wooden cutting boards where chunks of chocolate are available for tastings. I bought eight bars to bring home to friends, and to hide in my drawers for special occasions.

Daria Souvorova Sweet Daria's Seattle
We strolled through the streets and entered little shops selling vintage clothes and letter pressed greeting cards and walked up the hill to the famous troll under the bridge (featured in moves like 10 Things I Hate About You), which is incredibly tricky to climb in a billowing white dress and ballet slippers.

Early Thursday morning we boarded a plane for Los Angeles California where we visited both Getty museums, the beaches and a variety of other spots, so check back in the coming days for photos of our road trip.

Also, I recently reworked my format to allow for larger photographs which you can click on to see even larger. Woohoo!