Sunday, May 29th

There’s an Ep for That

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

We’re at the end of May and in the midst of a long-awaited holiday weekend. Last year Chris’ had to go into the office on Memorial Day. We were still unpacking and doing major renovation in the new house, plus I was in my third trimester. It was a real bummer.

So having that extra day off right now feels positively glorious! We still have some work to accomplish, but our projects are of the small variety: yard work, laundry, cleaning. But we can balance that with some fun, along with grateful reflection on the many who gave their lives for our country. It’s good to have a day to feel patriotic during a gross election year. Is there anything worse than a presidential campaign? Ugh.

Violet is really on the move these days! She’s unbelievably fast at crawling, gleefully using our shiny concrete floors to her benefit. We’re having so much fun with the walker, too, and I think she’ll be walking unassisted before we know it.

Baby girl wearing pink tutu

Smiling baby wearing Run DMC onesie and red pants

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on


Now let’s talk Netflix! As most network TV shows are done for the season, I expect many of you will be increasing your steaming. I’d love to hear your recommendations on what to watch. Here’s what we’ve been watching lately:

Lady Dynamite

Lady Dynamite on Netflix

Maria Bamford is one of those likable yet polarizing comedians. She’s intelligent, funny, weird…but it’s her voice that many people can’t get past. Lady Dynamite acknowledges this by incorporating it into a storyline, along with her many other hangups like insecurity, bad decision-making, and severe Bipolar II disorder. I’ve watched the ranking of this show fall steady, but I give it a solid four stars. It almost crosses the line into being completely ridiculous, but doesn’t annoy me in the least. And it’s worth checking out for the cameos alone.

Grace and Frankie

Speaking of annoying, I’m slogging through the second season of Grace and Frankie at a snail’s pace. It’s a gorgeous show to watch and full of actors I love, but somehow…I just don’t like it. Am I alone here?

Promised Land

Matt Damon in Promised Land

Although it’s from 2012, Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land was new to me. It’s a fairly uncomplicated and well-told story of a small town divided on the subject of fracking. Matt Damon carries the movie, supported by the wonderful Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Chelsea

Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler seems to be able to do whatever she wants. I was not much of a fan of hers until I read a few of her books, which showcases her deadpan snark and intelligent humor maybe more so than her TV persona does. Her documentary series Chelsea Does was somewhat enjoyable and Chelsea the talk show feels like an extension of that in bite-size pieces. Netflix releases three new episodes a week, which is a new approach to their streaming TV shows.

Tuesday, April 19th

Stream Queens

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

We’re just coming out of a month that was so incredibly busy that we’re finally just getting our bearings again. Normally I’d block off a little recovery time after SXSW, but we had no such luxury this year. We had back-to-back visits from my parents and Chris’ dad, both of which were wonderful. We took a road trip to Fort Worth and went to a wedding, the zoo, and Cane Rosso for dinner. Then last weekend was AFBA’s Colossal Curry Cook-off, which was a huge success!

Violet with Nana and Pop-Pop in Bluebonnets

Violet and GrandDad

Violet and GrandDad

Violet and Elephants at Fort Worth Zoo

Violet’s getting so big. She races down the hallway in her walker, babbles away, and tries to put her pacifiers in our mouths. So far, she’s really not digging solid foods much, but we keep trying a little everyday. My mom brought her a whole bunch of CDs and it’s so fun to watch her recognize the music and try to sing along. Sesame Street is her favorite, especially the songs sung by Grover.


We haven’t had much free time to watch TV, but I’ve relished those rare moments when I could relax on the couch and decompress with some entertainment. What we’ve been watching lately:

Meet the Patels

Meet the Patels

I enjoyed this so much I watched it twice. The light-hearted documentary focuses on Ravi Patel (who you may recognize from Master of None) and the cultural pressure to get married. It was impossible not to fall in love with his whole family.

F is for Family

This is decidedly NOT kid-friendly, but F is for Family is a cartoon worth watching. Bill Burr, Laura Dern, and Justin Long anchor this series that’s filled with recognizable voices. It’s some good clean 70s fun. BoJack Horseman is still my favorite though.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I haven’t quite finished the newly released second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but thought it was worth mentioning. Ellie Kemper is adorable.

Sensitive Skin

I’d watch Kim Cattrall in just about anything, but this was hard to get through. It’s highly stylized and on the surface, sophisticated, but also…really annoying? Cattrall is just fine. It’s Don McKellar, the male lead in season one, who rubs me the wrong way. But I’ll persevere and give the second season a chance.

What are you guys watching? Leave me a comment so we can discuss. Having trouble deciding what to watch? Make a fortune cookie!

Netflx Fortune Teller

Thursday, March 31st

South by South Baby

This post is part of my ongoing relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

We’ve been busy over here, with work and life and SXSW. We were those crazy people who brought a baby into the heart of Austin’s craziest scene! Our plans were to not go at all this year and we didn’t have badges. But once the parties and invites rolled in, there were a few events we couldn’t resist.

South by South Baby #SXSW #sxswi

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

One of those events was the premier of Pee Wee’s Big Holiday. It was Violet’s first movie and while she didn’t grasp the plot, she loved sitting in an audience of laughing people. She also chewed on her little red Pee Wee bow tie! We mingled with the cast and crew of the movie at the intimate afterparty. Paul Reubens was kind enough to let us snap a photo with him. The whole evening was a blast!

A dark photo, but that’s us and Paul Reubens. #peeweeherman #sxsw

A photo posted by Kristin Sheppard (@madbettyatx) on

Violet was a popular little guest no matter where we went and was in good spirits. She loves being out and about, so we take her as many places as we can. I was surprised by the dozens of people who approached us and expressed admiration for bringing her along. Most had babies themselves. She had her photo taken by lots of people and loved the attention. We made some great memories.

As we cherish all these special moments, we look forward to all the fun things that lie ahead. Netflix sent us some LEGO sets for the launch of their new LEGO shows and I can’t wait for Violet to get into all these fun toys I have stocked away for her. I’ll gladly invest in some LEGO slippers to spare my feet!

LEGO Slippers


So here’s what we’ve been streaming lately:

Documentary Now!

Documentary Now!

The IFC series features the brilliant Fred Armisen and Bill Hader in parodies of classic documentary parodies like Grey Gardens and The Thin Blue Line. It’s hilarious and smart. Here’s a guide to every documentary mocked.

Top of the Lake

Top of the Lake

The dark and disturbing series just announced that they are filming the second season, so I thought it time to finally get around to watching the first season. Elizabeth Moss carries the drama set in New Zealand, proving her acting chops go far beyond Peggy Olson.

Flaked

Flaked

It’s been questioned whether Will Arnett can carry a series and Flaked doesn’t really provide an answer. The slow-moving series is mildly appealing and Arnett is always likable, but this could have been better. I almost didn’t stick with this one but there was a satisfying payoff in the end. It’s just a little arduous getting there. Also, I can’t stress how much I loathe the opening credits.

What have you been watching lately?

Saturday, February 27th

Nights at Home

This post is part of my relationship with Netflix as a Stream Team partner.

She’s only six months old, but Violet has a more active social life than many adults I know. Chris and I commit to a lot of social events and, so far, it’s been relatively easy to bring Violet to most things. Having a baby hasn’t slowed us down much yet, which is why those rare nights at home are so special.

When we stay at home I cook a simple meal and we’ll play settle in to play with Violet. She’s actively rolling around, playing with toys, and vetoing the food we give her. Those nights are filled with giggles and baby sighs and something fun on Netflix. Sometimes we’ll opt for a movie, other times we’ll watch a few episodes of a series.

Live Oak Brewery, Austin, Texas

Southwest Pediatrics, Austin, Texas

Baby food

Of course, the series everyone is talking about this week is Fuller House. The beloved family show is back after 21 years for a sentimental revisit of the sappy, silly show I loved as a kid. The cast aged well and it’s a great bit of nostalgia to see them back, laugh track and all.


Here are a few things I’ve watched lately:

Luther

Luther starring Idris Elba

Luther is a must-see for anyone who is debating giving in to a full-blown Idris Elba obsession. Just give in. The British cop show is the oft-told tale of a troubled cop who doesn’t play by the rules but it’s SO MUCH MORE! Unlike our American cops shows, this one is disturbing as hell. It’s not a show I can binge watch because it’s so dark, but it’s simply fantastic.

Love

Netflix series Love

Sigh. I really, really loved this show, you guys. Love is a binge-watcher for sure and feels made for that purpose. Each episode picks up right where the last leaves off. It’s a ten-episode tale of two people, a hot mess of a woman and a slightly less messed-up dork. We watch them meet, see them interact with each other and with friends. It’s not exactly the romantic comedy the name implies. A+ to Judd Apatow.

The Tiger and The Monk

I was so enthralled with The Tiger and The Monk that I watched it twice. The 50-minute documentary from 2007 is a glimpse into the idyllic Tiger Temple, where monks and tigers live in harmony together. I was actually coming up with a plan as to how we could make a trip to Thailand to see it in person. But in recent weeks, extremely distressing news has come out about the temple. My heart is broken. Watch it before reading this.

What are you guys watching? What do you do on your nights at home?

Tuesday, December 22nd

End of the Year Netflix Binge

We’re approaching the holiday in mere days. Hopefully that means some time off for most of you and in between gifts and lovely meals and family hugs and puppy snuggles and taking those giant bows off your brand new cars, you’ll have some downtime. (And my, don’t you all have such idyllic lives?) I’ll be hitting the Netflix pretty hard in my downtime, and I can’t wait. I think I’m going to pick one series to binge watch. What should it be?

I’ve been keeping up with my streaming of new and old things so that we could discuss them here. Leave me a comment and let this ole Stream Team gal know what else to watch. Here’s what’s been keeping my eyes company lately:

Master of None

Master of None starring Aziz Ansari

I’ve always been on the fence about Aziz Ansari, unsure if I really liked him or not. But after watching Master of None, I am 100% TEAM AZIZ. The ten-episode season is among the best shows of 2015 and instantly garnered tons of attention. The premise of a single Indian actor living in New York is somewhat autobiographical in nature and his character’s parents are played by his actual parents. Although funny, the show tackles some deep subject matter and left me thinking about it for a long time.

Bonus for Adult Swim fans: H. Jon Benjamin and Eric Wareheim play two of his friends.

Laid

Laid TV Show

Aaaaaahhh! I love this show. Laid is an Australian comedy that was tragically put down after two six-episode seasons. I almost hate to tell you about this show because it’ll break your heart to only have a dozen episodes, but it’s too good not to share.

The premise: Woman realizes that everyone she’s ever slept with dies! The second season digs deeper and gets a little poignant on us, but by and large this is a hilariously dry comedy. NETFLIX! PLEASE BUY THIS SERIES AND MAKE MORE EPISODES.

Related: If you watch Laid Netflix will recommend a movie called The Little Death. This one is also completely worth your time. I watched it twice, actually.

The Little Death

Call the Midwife

With four seasons streaming on Netflix and no sign of BBC calling it quits (they just announced Season 6) Call the Midwife is a solid bet for hours of entertainment. It’s joyful, incredibly sad, and so very touching. It’s a story where people are good and kind; poverty is the villain.

Demetri Martin: Live (At the Time)

Demetri Martin: Live (At the Time)

Demetri Martin looks like a little boy from the seventies and is one of the smartest comics out there. He went to Yale and then blew off Harvard to study law at NYU, which he also blew off…for comedy. Lucky for us. If you like stand up, don’t miss this one.

Okay, my Netflix people. Tell me what you’ve been watching. And have a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, August 5th

Summer Movie Round-up

I don’t let too much time pass between seeing movies. The Alamo Drafthouse is a second home to Chris and I; we keep them in business. The heat of summer gives us even more reason to retreat to the cool, dark theaters and it’s one of my very favorite things to do. Here are a few movies we’ve seen lately:

Trainwreck

Trainwreck movie poster

By far, the most humorous movie we’ve seen this summer is Trainwreck. Already a huge Amy Schumer fan, I’ve really grown to love movies written by comedians. For one thing, they are funny. And another? Comedians look out for each other which means there are always lots of good cameos. (See Chris Rock’s Top Five.) If you indulge me in one more comparison to Top Five, standup comedy often walks on the dark side with depression, addiction, and general dysfunction at its core. Rock overtly explored these themes, as Louie CK regularly does on his eponymous show. While Schumer’s fictional tale doesn’t delve into the underbelly of the standup world, it doesn’t shy away from dark themes of dysfunction and a life not lived to its fullest. She’s clearly seen plenty of sadness and isn’t afraid to go there.

A well-rounded cast that most notably included LeBron James playing a highly likable version of himself, perhaps to keep this from being a “girl” movie. Rich in both character development and jokes, Trainwreck is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Amy

Amy Winehouse

There’s been plenty of buzz about Amy, the documentary about deceased singer Amy Winehouse. Chris and I went to a morning screening and downed coffee and French toast while I tried not to cry. We were (are) big fans of Winehouse and I was deeply saddened by her passing four years ago. Her talent was often overshadowed by her troubled life, so well-documented by the tabloids. Much of the footage in the documentary came from home movies and that same tabloid footage, with interviews all taking the form of voiceovers.

My favorite moments were seeing her live performances, least favorite thing was watching her go from young and healthy to a ghostly drug-addicted shell of a person. For me, this was very difficult to watch. Apparently her father didn’t like the way he was portrayed and will put out his own film to set the record straight. We’ll see about that.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World starring Chris Pratt as the dinosaur whisperer

For me, Jurassic World goes does down as the biggest disappointment of the summer movies. A fan of the original Jurassic Park, I was happy to see nods to the 1993 classic, in small references throughout as well as the opening music. I also really like Chris Pratt and am thrilled to see his career has taken him so far. Well, I should advise fellow Pratt fans to stick to Guardians of the Galaxy if you like plot, character depth, and satisfying story development. If you like a couple screaming hours of dinosaur chasing and little else, then you’d probably like Jurassic World. But I thought it was terrible.

Aloha

Aloha Movie Poster

Speaking of terrible, Aloha was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Early buzz was not good, but we chose to see it because 1) I wasn’t paying attention to the buzz, 2) it had a good cast, and 3) a Cameron Crowe movie should at least have a killer soundtrack. Would that I could get those hours of my life back, they’d be better spent doing literally anything else.

Aside from the offensive whitewashing, etc, this was a piece of garbage on every level. A week after seeing it, Chris and I were still talking about how awful it was. He said, “I just can’t get it out of my head…how BAD it was. I feel traumatized!”

Inside Out

Disney Pixar's Inside Out

There’s little risk involved in seeing a Disney Pixar film. While I’m not exactly a hardcore Disney buff by any means, I appreciate the movies and how much talent and work go into each one. The writing, acting, and animation are always superb and Inside Out was no different. Plus, Amy Poehler as the lead voice? YES, please!

What I didn’t expect was how much I’d cry. I’m quick to cry in a movie anyway, so this isn’t a foreign concept to me. But I didn’t think I’d sob quite this much. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones. Maybe I was tired. Maybe the movie stirred up some deep mourning of childhood happiness and innocence. Either way, I’d recommend tissues.

People Places Things

People Places and Things movie starring Jemaine Clement

People Places Things opens at Alamo Drafthouse on August 14th. I watched an early press screener so that I could report back to you and am happy to say, it was fantasticFlight of the Conchords fans will love Jemaine Clement in this role of loving father, teacher, and graphic novelist. It’s funny, heartwarming, a bit melancholy…everything you’d want in a charming indie dramedy. I’ll watch this one again.

What have you seen lately? Any recommendations for me?

Monday, April 13th

Advanced Screening: The Age of Adaline

The Age of Adaline movie poster featuring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford

The Age of Adaline comes out next Friday, April 24th, but you and a friend can get a free early preview. Have you ever gone to an advance screening of a movie or TV show? It’s exciting to be part of a small, select group of passionate pop culture aficionados who get early access. Once I got a taste of these early previews, I’m always going back for more. Those of us who live in Austin are so lucky because the Alamo Drafthouse does these cool things frequently.

For the first time ever, I’m able to share my early access credentials with my readers! On Wednesday, April 15th there will be a special advance screening of The Age of Adaline. Watch Blake Lively portray a beautiful ageless character who embarks on a romantic journey that changes her course forever. Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Michiel Huisman, and Kathy Baker round out the fantastic cast in this touching story.

To sign up for the screening visit the Lions Gate Screenings page and click Redeem. Your code is MADBETTY. I have 50 pairs of tickets to give away and they are first come, first serve. Make sure to reserve yours today!

Screening Details

Film: The Age of Adaline

Date: Wednesday, April 15th

Time: 7:30 PM

Location: Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar

Friday, August 15th

South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse Reopens

Alamo Drafthouse and The Highball, Austin, Texas

Tomorrow the long-awaited South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse officially opens. The redux is substantially larger, with nine theaters and an increase of almost 20,000 feet, nearly doubling it in size. There’s a parking garage (and a couple more being built) that will hold 700 cars or so. So, yeah, our little neighborhood theater is a behemoth. But Austin is crowded and we need more parking, more seats, more everything.

I’m thrilled that while there are lots of digital upgrades and the like, the spirit of the old Drafthouse lives on in the decor. The old metal spaceships and planes dot the ceiling of the lobby, along with a new zeppelin. And it seems like a silly thing to be attached to, but I always loved the whimsical hot dog in the original theater and am happy to report they brought him back.

South Lamar Alamo Drafthouse, Austin, Texas

 

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The hallways feature vintage horror posters with a bit of a freak show element. Think Mr. Bungle at the movies.

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Attached to the theater is The Highball, which also features decor and furniture from the old one. You can’t bowl there anymore, but the wood from the lanes is everywhere from the floor of the top of the bar, the ceilings and benches. It’s smooth and shiny and feels like home. A point of pride with the cocktail program is that the staff (all from the original Highball) create the drink menu themselves. In addition to the 22 craft beers there are two cocktails on draft, all of which will rotate regularly. And mixed drink bottle service is a new feature, which is perfect for the karaoke rooms. You’ll be able to get a large bottle (enough for six) of Moscow Mules and other cocktails for $45. Very convenient.

Speaking of the karaoke rooms, they are the real draw. Each of the seven private rooms is done in a fun theme and all are spectacular. I won’t show but a couple photos, because the real magic is being surprised by the details yourself. Needless to say I was blown away and especially loved Truly Outrageous, done in a sparkly Jem and the Holograms theme and The Fifth Dimension, a black lit Twilight Zone room.

Truly Outrageous, Jem earrings

The Fifth Dimension Twilight Zone

The Fifth Dimension Twilight Zone

I’m not even into karaoke but I think I’ll be changing that. And I can’t wait to resume my regular trips to my favorite location to see movies. Welcome back, Alamo Drafthouse. It was a long year and a half without you.

Alamo Drafthouse

1120 South Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704

Tuesday, August 5th

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy over the weekend and I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s been a long time since a summer blockbuster blew me away. Sure, they always have spectacular CGI and a decent cast list. But so often the writing blows. (Ahem, Ironman. Cough.)

But Guardians of the Galaxy? Good story, excellent writing, and so damn funny. And also poignant. Dare I say, I shed a tear or two. No spoilers here, but check out the trailer if you haven’t already.

 

Our scrappy group of ex-cons is led by Peter Quill aka Star-Lord, played by the likable and buffed out Chris Pratt. This character seems like it was written just for for him and Parks and Recreation fans will rejoice in seeing him in a role more worthy of his talents. We learn a little about Star-Lord’s past, but many questions are unanswered. The door is wide open for the sequel, due summer 2017.

Peter Quill, Star-Lord, played by Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

The rest of the guardians are composed of Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana (who looks as lovely in Guardian Green as she did in Avatar Blue,) Drax (Dave Bautista), Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel, in his best role ever.) The foes are numerous and the tone and setting are evil and scary. Yet the movie doesn’t get bogged down with the darkness and there’s enough comedy to show it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Kind of the way Batman used to be. Fun, exciting, dangerous. Mr. Betty and I will probably see it again because we both liked it so much.

Gamora played by Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy

Drax played by Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy

Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy

Groot voiced by Vin Diesel in Guardians of the Galaxy

Anyway, I want to know what you guys thought of the movie. Share in the comments!

Thursday, April 24th

April Hotlist

Lately I’ve been making more time to read and it makes me so happy. Even if the book if a disturbing YA book like Unwind. For those unfamiliar, the story takes place in a dystopian future where parents can choose to have their children unwound, or taken apart to be used for transplants. Yes, it’s gross and horrific. It’s for kids. I read it. It’s not quite Hunger Games good, but I’ll probably finish the trilogy at some point.

Unwind

I also picked up a copy of Cameron Diaz’s The Body Book. It’s smarter than you think. It’s a textbook, really. 300+ pages of nothing but text. I’m not hating it. Of course she had help, but the friendly, upbeat tone feels very California girlfriend. So Cameron.

The Body Book by Cameron Diaz

A bunch of bloggers were given cool new cars to drive around for a week and I lucked out with a pimped out, glittery Cadillac. The 2014 CTS VSport is around $72k, making it the nicest car I’ve ever driven. Like, by a lot. It was a week of luxury, touch screens, high-end amenities, and speed. I felt right at home driving it, lending credence to my suspicion that I am a lost royal who was switched at birth.

Glittery Cadillac

Cadillac CTS

I’ve been depressed over the decline of sitcoms lately. Shows that were once good are all pretty bad now: Modern Family, Suburgatory, Parks and Recreation, The Mindy Project…ugh. What happened?!

Thank God for Comedy Central. I’m enjoying the new season of Inside Amy Schumer, which has replaced Kroll Show as my main funny show. I love Nick Kroll so much and approve of him as a replacement for Will Arnett as Amy Poehler’s paramour.

Inside Amy Schumer

Kroll Show Publizity

But the show that has made my year, nay, my LIFEBroad City. Did you guys watch this? Holy crap. It’s my favorite thing ever. New episodes won’t be here till 2015, but you can catch the old web series on YouTube till then.

In recent eats, I checked out a pizza place that I’d never been to. Quattro Gatti Ristorante has been on 9th and Congress for years, but I’m just discovering it now, thanks to Food Fash, one of my favorite fellow local bloggers. A bunch of us spent a cozy tonight together learning about Neapolitan pizza making before devouring as many pizzas as we could. I’m so glad to have another good pizza place on my radar. Austin’s really coming along on the pizza front.

Quattro Gatti Ristorante Neapolitan Pizza

 

Quattro Gatti Ristorante Neapolitan Pizza

 

Quattro Gatti Ristorante Neapolitan Pizza

A new app I’ve been using lately is TabbedOut. They reached out to me to give in a try; it really is easy. You link your card to the app and use to pay at restaurants, bars, coffee shops, etc. There’s a huge list of places in Austin that accept it and the list keeps on growing. Aside from the benefit of not having to carry your wallet everywhere, it does cool things like calculate tips, splits checks, and offers rewards.

TabbedOut

In movie news, I saw Grand Budapest Hotel. I’m a big Wes Anderson fan and love his signature picturesque, whimsical style. Did you see it? What did you think?

Grand Budapest Hotel Adrian Brody

I also saw Noah and thought that was fantastic on a huge movie grand scale. It made me remember why I like Russell Crowe. And Emma Watson was simply superb. It was a dark, dark movie. Dare I say, it’s the best thing Darren Aronofsky’s done. (The worst thing he’s done? Pi. I loathed that movie.)

Russell Crowe in Noah

In local news, Central Market’s Passport Italy is coming up, April 30th to May 13th. I had a chance to preview the food and it was delicious. Make sure to head over for all the meats, cheeses and wine they’ll be showcasing. Delizioso!

What have you guys been up to lately?