Eat Me!

My friend Gretchen is the best. She is gorgeous and sweet and kind, creative and smart and funny. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe her. She is also a fabulous cook. Simply phenomenal in the kitchen. Visiting her is like taking a trip to heaven.

A few days ago we were talking, making plans for our next get-together, and we got to reminiscing about some of our most memorable trips. One year we celebrated Thanksgiving in Turkey, Christmas in Germany and New Year’s in Austria. We’ve ridden camels in Tunisia, road-tripped across Poland, Slovakia and Hungary and train-hopped to Switzerland and France. Our trips are a little less adventurous these days but no less fun. This year we passed a quiet New Year’s at her home in Charlottesville.

Our lives seem to run a parallel course. We both lived in Germany (where we met), then Hawaii (our time did not overlap), and now Virginia (at opposite ends of the state). Her husband was tagged for a deployment to Afghanistan. My husband was tagged too. Déjà vu.

This time last year my husband was nearing the end of his deployment. Enter me, suitcase in hand, into Gretchen’s home and kitchen for a nice, long visit.

It was then, during that very trip, that Gretchen launched her food blog. Kumquat. It’s full of delicious recipes, beautiful photography and brilliant health tips. If you like to eat you must check it out. It is lovely.

Oh what a trip that was. We passed the time largely in the kitchen, a room for both of us synonymous with laughter and love. She cooked while I chilled, salivating and waiting for my chance to lick the spoon. We discussed blogs and food and photography at great length and photographed her creations to no end. And then we ate like kings.

Here’s what I came away with from the visit: 10 extra pounds and the revelation that photographing food bites. I mean, it is really, really tough. It’s surprising because you’d think food would be putty in your hands. After all you can mold it, touch it, turn it, taste it. But it’s fresh and fragile and sours easily. Full of self-preservatives, you have to sweet-talk it before it will whisper eat me.

Gretchen though, makes it look so easy. She is artistic and talented and, the icing on the cake, inspirational. She’s one of the reasons I revamped my photography website as a blog.

Though I’m happy to leave food photography to foodies like Gretchen, in honor of Kumquat’s one-year birthday I thought I would post a few of my photos from that memorable visit. Here’s to you my dear friend Gretchie!

And happy birthday Kumquat blog!

jill cordes - March 26, 2012 - 11:12 pm

Not only are the food pics beautiful, but so is the pic of your friend! I want you to make me look beautiful! (ha). Thanks for sharing.


I can’t believe I almost canceled this shoot. It was scheduled for a late afternoon and by midday the clouds had rolled in and all but covered the sun. I sat on the fence too long and in the end had no choice but to go. I figured if it just wasn’t happening we’d try again on a prettier day.

But there’s one thing about this little girl, Sol. She has an exceptional brightness about her.

Sol. The sun. The star at the center of the solar system.

Her father chose the name because of the sun’s importance in every culture. Her mother loved the name because she missed the ever-present sun of her native Venezuela.

Sol. A fitting name for a colorful, vibrant girl. Always shining. Always beautiful. She brings the sun with her.

Gaby - March 23, 2012 - 2:07 am

I said it before and I say it again, What beautiful pictures you took of my little angel! You really captured her inner shine and the words you used to describe the shoot were just so sweet. It was beautifully written.
Thank you so very much for such an amazing treat, these pictures as well as the blog are a treasure!

Scott - March 23, 2012 - 3:19 am

Incredible photos! So glad you didn’t cancel.

Lucky Charm

Short on ideas for a Saint Patrick’s Day blog post I decided to solicit some from a bunch of my mom friends. Wow. For a holiday largely associated with anything and everything green I sure got some colorful ideas. One friend suggested staging a mock bar scene with kids knocking back green milk from their sippy cups. My sister, in the throes of potty training her 2-year-old twins, suggested constructing a rainbow ending with a kid sitting on (this is bad) a potty of gold. While these ideas may be conceptually clever, both are hard to pull off.

One idea that held a lot of promise was taking shots of children watching a Saint Patrick’s Day parade, eyes wide and arms outstretched, catching strings of green beads and clapping for the bagpipes. In Old Town Alexandria, nary a holiday passes without a parade so this should have been a breeze. On the day of the parade I arrived early and staked out my spot along the route. As the festivities got under way though, I realized I couldn’t go around snapping pictures of other people’s kids lest someone call the cops on me. I hadn’t even thought to bring a stack of business cards to hand out. I didn’t take a single photo.

It just so happens this same mom-of-the-parade-idea has a lovely little red-headed girl. Her great-great-grandfather was from Ireland and that makes her Irish enough in my book to win a place as my Saint Patrick’s Day feature.

And what says Saint Patrick’s Day more than a bonny lass enjoying a fat green shamrock cookie? It was a winning idea if I ever heard one. There was just one small hitch. At 21 months, this sweet little girl is cutting her molars. Give her a sugary green cookie and you end up with an abundance of crumbs and green drool. Ah, that’s the luck of the Irish for you.

Despite the slobber it was a lovely shoot. Cheerful and inquisitive, she happily explored the garden while munching away. Somehow the cookie even held up. She must have been my lucky charm.

The delicious cookies are from the Firehook Bakery and Coffee House in Old Town.

[…] Cynthia Roelle Photography […]