There are so many amazing local businesses, artists, and designers in Rochester. Some are well known and some are lesser known, but all deserve a little extra recognition. You may have previously seen the featured Favorite Things 2016 post where our 10 favorite local items were unveiled. If you haven’t, check it out here. I’m certain you’ll find some really neat, unique items–perfect for the upcoming holidays!
Before joining the Rochester MN Moms Blog team I had never heard of a “Favorite Things Party.” As a mom to a rambunctious toddler, I’m lucky if I even get a chance to shower–let alone enjoy an evening out with friends swapping faves.
A favorite things party is a pretty simple, but fun concept.
You buy one of your most favorite items. Buy enough for everyone, or if the group is large each person would purchase multiples of their object, maybe 3 or 4 each. Then you swap. Each person goes home with new “favorite things” that their friends specially chose. Not only is it fun to laugh and chat about all the gifts, but it’s a really fun way to be introduced to new products as well.
It was only fitting that our Favorite Things be unveiled with an epic favorite things party.
Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar was kind enough to sponsor our evening. Surprisingly, having grown up around Rochester and having lived in Rochester for the last 8+ years, I have never eaten at Victoria’s! Unbelievable, I know!
My first impressions of Victoria’s were really good. I liked that it felt cozy but still a little bit fancy and there were private areas to hold larger parties. The room was spacious and the chairs were comfortable. Nothing felt crowded, which can be a problem sometimes with larger groups. The lighting was just right, which is something I appreciate. Not too bright and not too dark.
The staff was really kind and attentive and showed our group tremendous hospitality. My glass was never empty and I never needed to ask for a refill. We all enjoyed our meal family-style instead of being served individually. I thought this was really nice because then you don’t feel forced to eat foods you don’t enjoy and you can take as little, or as much as you’d like. I think it also feels a bit more informal and allows for better conversations to develop.
We were offered a really deliciously creamy mushroom and pasta dish, an antipasto salad, another salad–Insalata di Genovena–which included gorgonzola, pecans, dried cherries and an awesome raspberry vinaigrette (my favorite!). There was also Bruschetta al Pomodoro–fresh and seasoned tomatoes on perfectly toasted crostini. The food was well prepared and very filling. Everything had such good balance and paired wonderfully with a large glass of wine.
Victoria’s Ristorante & Wine Bar also has gluten-free options available, and kids eat free with the purchase of an adult entree! What can be better than that?
After we finished our meals, Becky began introducing all of the locally available/crafted items included in our Favorite Things list.
Everyone was really excited to see the products and hear about the different businesses. There were quite a few businesses I had never heard of (I must not get out much…), but can’t wait to explore further.
I was really excited to check out Gardenaire‘s French Garden Trio. I was smitten the moment I heard “lavender-mint syrup.” Seriously. It’s incredible. My husband and I have been mixing it in with our lemonade. It makes us feel relaxed…and fancy!
The other items were equally fun and intriguing.
I had high hopes for the Vitamin E Complex Eye Serum from Ballerina Botanicals and so far haven’t been disappointed. The serum smells so nice and I think it’s helped make me appear a little less tired around the eyes. Especially after those exhausting nights when I’ve had interrupted sleep.
Old Abe’s Coffee Co.‘s Cold Brew Concentrate, Vanicream Lite Lotion, chocolates from Chocolaterie Stam, soy candles from Dwell Local, eth’tique‘s Tribe Alive Button Earrings, Scout Market Totes from Lux Boutique and an absolutely beautiful You Are Loved Gold Foil Print from Waterfolk Goods rounded out our list.
I had a really fun time at the party. It was so nice to meet up with other moms and just enjoy spending time chatting with one another over dinner and a glass of wine.
Special thanks to our fellow contributor, Jessica Schmitt, of Momarazzi Photography & Design for being our photography sponsor for the night and taking all sorts of beautiful photos!
I hope you feel inspired to check out our Favorite Things list and the businesses included. Buying local will not only give you access to unique products and more personal service, you’ll also be supporting and helping to build the community you live in. That’s something we can all feel good about!