Monday, August 22, 2016

Soaking up Summer: NYC Day 3 + 4

On Saturday we headed to Jacob Riis Park to check out the beach. It was hot but the water was cool. The waves sucked me under enough times to send me home with a bathing suit full of sand but it was a blast.
After we got home and showered off, we ordered a pizza and salad from Williamsburg Pizza and enjoyed a quiet evening of conversation and Netflix.
After a rain shower on Sunday morning, we picked up breakfast at Gimme! Coffee. I had an almond croissant and a latte.
And then, we arrived at the Museum of Ice Cream!
The museum was a super fun use of 25 minutes. We got to eat ice cream, take selfies in front of waffle cones, eat edible balloons and swim in a 3' pool of sprinkles (which was what I was most looking forward to). The sprinkles were plastic, which was a little disappointing, but when they got in my pants - I was happy they were fake. Baby Emma enjoyed the first few minutes of the tour and then she fell asleep.
At the end of tour, there was an ice cream playground, complete with an ice cream sandwich swing and an ice cream scoop see saw. The wall next to it was the perfect backdrop for a family portrait of my wonderful friends.
After a sugar high, we headed across the street to Untitled at the Whitney Museum for a light lunch. I ordered this delicious salad of tomatoes, peaches, grilled pole beans and feta. Afterwards, we headed home and then later to the airport. A great weekend all around, hope yours was enjoyable too!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Soaking up Summer: NYC Day 1 + 2

I arrived in NYC on Wednesday night. My trip is half work and half play - the best kind of trip really - and I finally get to meet my friends' baby, almost six months old. On Thursday I worked from the office here and headed back to my friends' place to a yummy pasta dinner (I chopped the tomatoes and garlic, but Jessica's Brian did the magic - aka 'cooking'). It looked like a restaurant had served it, so I had to share.
The view from their balcony of a summer sunset in NYC.
On Friday, Jessica and I had lunch at Cookshop, next to the High Line, al fresco. I had the watermelon mint cooler (mocktail - it was still a work day), the vine bean & squash blossom frittura with herbed aioli, and the gazpacho of beefsteak tomato, tempranillo wine, mint, and garlic. Everything was so delicious!  
Around the corner from lunch sits this awesome store called Story. When I was in NYC last November the theme was (no surprise) the holidays and was filled with interesting, unique gift items for anyone you might want to buy for. This trip, it was themed for back to school, in partnership with Nickelodeon.
The Nickelodeon theme was also a throwback to my childhood. I used to love watching the show Double Dare (you know, the one that ended with a crazy obstacle course?). There was a lady in the store next to this big hamster wheel and she asked if I wanted to try it out.  Um, yes please! So I signed the safety waiver, donned the protective gear and got in the wheel. It was so much harder than it looked on tv. I was trying to see if I could get it to go all the way around with me in it - video footage here.
For dinner, Jessica booked a reservation for us at semilla, a vegetable forward restaurant in Brooklyn. We feasted on nine courses (plus bread) of yummy dishes - too many to capture all the details of without having to whip out my notebook. From the French cider to the leaf-wrapped sweet potato tacos to the cuttlefish corn chowder to the saffron foamed peaches over almond panna cotta and everything in between - I was in heaven.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

A few good meals in Arlington

A quick trip to the D.C. area for work called for a few meals along the way, of course. We landed and headed for lunch in Arlington, VA at Kapnos Taverna, the chef was on Top Chef, Season 6. I had this amazing king salmon tartar with grilled avocado, cucumber, romaine and harissa vinaigrette.
A light, healthy lunch called for a cupcake and iced latte at Buzz Bakeshop, and the wifi to work our way through the afternoon. The smores cupcake looked so good and then I discovered it was full of fluffy marshmallow cream, so yummy!
After work, we walked to Water & Wall for a hand-crafted cocktail and some dinner. I had this interesting and delicious cocktail - The Oaxacan Dead (mezcal, grapefruit, ipa syrup, poblano, draft beer.
Since the weather has been so hot in KC and DC, a light and refreshing dinner of gazpacho and a tomato (cucumber, asian pear, yogurt, habanero, roasted corn) and watermelon salad with creme fraiche sounded perfect, and they were.
This summer has been a bit hectic, but it has inspired me with flavors - mostly making their way into homemade cocktails. I'm trying to eat at home, when I am home, which means I eat mostly fruits and veggies that are so fresh, they barely need any preparation. What have you been eating and cooking this summer? I'd love to hear and might even share a recipe or two that I've been enjoying in an upcoming post. Hope you're staying cool, wherever you are!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Austin: A few good meals

An early flight called for proper sustenance upon landing in Austin last week. The South Congress Cafe had me covered with a brunch menu served well into the afternoon. I enjoyed this delicious plate of huevos rancheros with fresh avocado and a yummy iced latte.
After a team-building yoga session at Practice Yoga Austin, dinner was served at Fukumoto Sushi & Yakitori Izakaya. I had the most amazing meal of tempura green beans with a cilantro miso aioli and sushi (amberjack, yellowtail, king salmon).
Lunch the next day was an unbelievably hot mile and a half round trip walk, but it was worth it. We left the comfort of the a/c for tortas at Austin Daily Press - thank goodness for the fresh squeezed Arnold Palmers! I had the Edward - edamame fritter, ginger peanut sauce, avocado, pickled peppers, cilantro and mint.
For dinner, I wandered down South Congress and found Perla's, an upscale seafood restaurant. Since the prices were slightly outside of my per diem, I opted for a fresh and spicy melon, pistachio and burrata salad and a side of oak grilled corn with serranos, cotija cheese and lime zest. I will definitely be back with a bigger budget and Brian in the future.
Say what you want about the cupcake craze going out of style, but no trip to Austin is complete for me without a stop at the Hey Cupcake! truck. And, of course, this trip was no exception. I enjoyed the double dose - chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream - one of the freshest cupcakes I've ever had, yum!

Thanks for stopping by, y'all!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Trip Planning Made Simple(r)

Over the years, my trip planning methods have included travel books read cover to cover, meticulous spreadsheets of activities and budgets, Yelp and OpenTable searches for the perfect restaurants, themed regional movie marathons, travel blog scouring (especially for our upcoming trip to Japan) and conversations with other travelers near and far. I've heard lots of people say that the planning part is half the fun, which in most cases, it is. However, sometimes you're lucky to just be getting away, let alone have the time to scheme and plan the perfect getaway. Which is why this new website I found, and am sharing with you now, is so great.

WhereFor allows you to enter in your budget, departure location + date, number of travelers and minimum hotel level you prefer (budget, standard, luxury) and will give you recommendations for flights and hotels that would fit your inputs. If you want a little more control, the Advanced feature even let's you set the geographic area to choose from (or the exact city you want to visit) and your general interest in a trip type (food, family, beaches, mountains, wine, nightlife, pet-friendly). While the budget you provide doesn't include meals, in-town transportation costs or admission fees to places you might visit, it's still a pretty terrific starting place for where your money might be able to take you.

Speaking of budgets, and I know they may sound like the least fun part of a trip, but when made in advance and split into monthly increments of what you should set aside, it makes returning home that much more fun. This is if you have done a good job of properly estimating how much you're really going to spend, which may require you keeping track along the way. (There are plenty of apps that can help you do this pretty painlessly.) Knowing that you spent money you already saved will help you extend your post-vacation glow a little longer. Hope you get to travel soon!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Side Trip to Nederland

We headed for Nederland, CO for dinner at Crosscut Pizzeria & Taphouse - it was so good! We started with Wood Fired Brussels Sprouts (polenta, pine nuts, balsamic, pecorino toscano) and a Caesar salad. We then had the Artichoke Fontina pizza (spinach, oregano, fontina, bechamel) and homemade ice cream - I had blueberry and Brian had the maple walnut.
After dinner, and picking up lunch for our hike the next day, we headed to Brian's aunt and uncle's cabin for the night.
We stopped into Salto Coffee Works for some java and pastries before heading up to the Roosevelt National Forest. I had a latte and a raspberry scone.
When we started our hike to Blue Lake, I said I wanted to see a moose. A mile in, this little guy crossed in front of us on the trail, along with another that passed by before I could pull out my phone. So cool - my first non-Maine moose!
The day was perfect for our 8-mile, roundtrip hike to Blue Lake (pictured at the bottom left). The temperature ranged between the mid-50's to the low 70's. As you can see, the snow had yet to melt in several places and the trail was quite muddy. With it being a holiday weekend, the trail was also pretty busy but it was a great hike.
There was a point along the trail where you had to cross a stream using some log bridges. Brian was trying to take my picture and a guy came along and offered to take one of both of us.
This was the scenery in front of the log, just beautiful. We finished our hike, stopped for some Colorado beers and ciders to take home (the novelty of driving vs. flying!) and headed back to Brian's grandparent's house for dinner. It was a wonderful day, and a great week exploring Colorado for work and pleasure. Thanks for following along!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Exploring Estes Park

On Saturday we drove up to Estes Park to see Brian's brother, sister-in-law and nephews, along with some mutual friends from Kansas City. We all happened to be in Colorado at the same time, so we met up for a day of hiking and picnicking in Rocky Mountain National Park. We walked on (and off) the Sprague Lake trail with five kiddos and six adults. The weather was a bit overcast at times but the rain held off until after lunch when we were headed out of the park.
Brian's brother, Andrew, took better photos of us but I liked this one the most.
Thanks to Andrew's Apple Watch, we were able to get the whole crew into one shot - actually there were several shots but one of the silly ones made the cut. We all went back to the cabin and visited for the rest of the afternoon, after a stop at Kind Coffee. And then, it was time for Brian and me to leave for our final stop in Colorado, which I'll share tomorrow. Thanks for checking in!