Breathe fig nutrition story and recipe

For our food page in the October issue, we featured a fig, arugula and gorgonzola pizza recipe by one of our favorite food bloggers who runs and is a regular contributor to Breathe’s food blog. I wrote the nutrition half of the story to give a little background on the health benefits of this fall fruit.

Also, check out the savory fig jam recipe we featured in our Southern Fare & Wine Pairing food spread (recipes by Whole Foods’ cook). Very excited about getting such great recipe developers to contribute to Breathe. Try out the pizza and let us know what you think!

Breathe’s Southern Fare & Wine Pairing Menu

Our cover story for the October issue centered around Virginia wines — sparkling, Port-style dessert, Viogners, Meritages — and seasonal Southern food. Whole Foods Charlottesville supplied all our food and wine and the staff gave us a lot of good input on our dinner party spread. Whole Foods’ cook Taylor Troxell helped us develop these recipes and Jan Van Deventer, Whole Foods’ wine buyer, helped us select wines to pair with our spread.

Breathe’s designer Amanda and I spent all morning cooking this spread and then seven hours setting up and shooting the dinner party with models. Our art director Megan helped coordinate the set up and photoshoot — thank heavens! We needed an additional artistic perspective and set of hands. I spent a good amount of time doing lighting. Us ladies do a little bit of everything behind the scenes. That’s what happens when you have such a small staff. You find yourself doing things like cooking dinners for six, styling food and working lights on top of editing and laying out the magazine. At the end of the day it’s tiring, but after all is said and done and sent to press, it definitely leaves you with a sense of accomplishment — and a new set of skills for the ol’ resume.

I’m a huge fan of this spread. It’s easy to make and delicious. And, if you’re afraid to venture into frying chicken (warning: it’s pretty smelly and messy), just pick up the best fried chicken (Wayside here in C’ville!) in your area and make the sides. The fig jam takes 15 minutes tops and is sweet and savory. The Pungo Creek Mills spoon bread is not only delicious; it’s also local to Virginia. And the collards are cooked with Legend Brewing Brown Ale and a ham shank. What’s not to love about that? Hope you enjoy the spread.

Let me know what you are serving at your dinner party this season!

Visit Savannah, the spooky south

I visited Savannah in March and fell in love with the city — the food, scenery, history … to-go cups. I decided to save my Savannah trip for the October issue of Breathe since it would finally be cooling off in the low country and also because Savannah just happens to be America’s Most Haunted City. Perfect timing for October, indeed.

While I was in Savannah, I met Kristin Luna, an amazing travel journalist and the brains behind the blog Luckily Kristin not only happens to be a talented writer, but she’s also a phenomenal photographer, so we featured her photos alongside my story. Very excited to share some ink with my friend Kristin.

Breathe’s Southern Gothic Book picks

Unknowingly, I’ve been a fan of Southern Gothic literature since I was a little girl. I read Mark Twain, Harper Lee and Edgar Allan Poe as a kid, and remember getting chills from “The Tell-Tale Heart,” wishing Scout was my best friend and thinking Huck Finn was a real smart alec. Later, in high school, I ventured into Twain’s Complete Short Stories and started to understood that Twain wasn’t just a light read. His short stories evoked a range of emotions — laughter when reading “The Diary of Adam and Eve,” and feeling a sense of doom when reading about his Satan character in “The Mysterious Stranger.” Deep stuff, I thought.

As of lately, I found myself revisiting Southern Gothic lit through other classic authors — Flannery O’Connor and Tennessee Williams — while also exploring how authors like Karen Russell are incorporating elements of the genre into modern literature. It’s ignited this curiosity in me, causing me to dust off Twain’s short stories and buy Karen Russell’s latest book. I even ventured to request a copy of Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove (to be released February 2013) to review for Breathe Mag’s January/February 2013 issue.

I have a slight infatuation with Russell’s books because they take place in the Everglades, which is right down the road from where I grew up in Florida. Her description of settings and characters resonate with me, and I feel a twisted attachment to the dark, gloomy — yet humorous — stories.

Because I’ve felt such an attachment to Southern Gothic lit lately, I decided to highlight three of the genre’s books in our October issue, keeping with the idea of the spooky South. Also, this week, I posted 20 Southern Gothic Book Picks on Breathe’s site — our extended reading list for those book worms out there.

Would love to hear what your favorites are off of Breathe’s 20 picks list — and what other Southern Gothic reads you’ve enjoyed lately. Happy reading!

Breathe’s October release

Cue horns. Tomorrow at noon we will be launching Breathe’s October issue on And, throughout the week the issue will be distributed to newsstands across the Southeast.

Our cover story, Dinner With Friends, is a tribute to traditional Southern fare and regional wines. We met with Whole Foods’ cook and wine guy here in C’ville to help create a menu with the appropriate wines — everything from Viogniers to Meritages to Port-style dessert wines. The recipes are easy to make at home and the wines highlight Central Virginia’s terroir. Check out some Instagram images from the Dinner With Friends cover shoot, here.

Hope you enjoy the issue. It was a blast to put together. Check out the October line up below. Cheers, marissa

The Cider Trail

This cider story for our September issue was a blast to research. I interviewed all the current and soon-to-be hard cider producers across the Southeast and sampled some of their wares. The majority of hard cider producers are clustered here in Central Virginia because it’s such a big apple-growing area — lucky us! The terroir of the Blue Ridge Mountains is ideal for apple growing and cider production.

Hard cider production is the fastest growing segment of the craft brewing industry. It’s exciting seeing small, family-owned cideries popping up in our region.



Indian Summer

Breathe designer and photographer Amanda and I took a R & R retreat to Virginia Hot Springs for our Indian Summer cover story for the September issue. I usually see these travel trips as “work” (if you’re a travel journalist with an agenda, you’ll understand this, and if you aren’t I sound spoiled), but that definitely wasn’t the case with this trip. Amanda and I instantly bonded with our guides at Natural Retreats, and it was just what we needed after putting out three consecutive issues by ourselves. It was a well-deserved trip indeed. Check out my story on the area and Amanda’s awesome photos of our trip in the September issue (flip to page 15). For a more snarky take on the September issue (and my dislike for football), click here.

Also, win a Virginia Hot Springs spa and sport retreat with Natural Retreats (just like our trip!) through Breathe Magazine here. And check out some of the cool photos Amanda (via nice camera) and I (via iPhone) took below.