April 4, 2014 § 1 Comment
New York in March may not be the most ideal getaway, we were caught in what seemed to be a small hurricane our first night there, with umbrellas working against us and the rain pounding down on our cute outfits and high heels, but we still made the best of our rainy weekend. My sister turned thirty this month and decided that the best way to celebrate was to treat my mom and I to a fantastic weekend at her place, all we had to do was get there. She spoiled us with an itinerary that was classic New York.
The weekend began in the rain, jumping into a taxi to get to our first meal at East Pole. We indulged in brunch food, scrambled eggs and a sweet potato frittata; finishing the meal with a shot of espresso, with just enough kick to get us to our next stop, The Frick. The Frick is a beautiful home that has been converted to a full museum, reminding me of the Gardner Museum in Boston. We lingered among the paintings for a while and then headed back to the Palace Hotel, for a little relaxing and some time inside from the rain. We snacked on nonpareils and prettied up for dinner at A Voce and an evening at the Philharmonics. A Voce is classic Italian food. We snacked on fresh focaccia, salty olives, roasted red peppers and mozzarella to start. And then I went for it and had seafood stuffed ravioli with a lobster bisque sauce, just heavenly. Perfectly full and happy to be so, we headed to the Philharmonics.
It is an absolutely beautiful thing to hear so many people play at the same time. My mom likened the music to “jazz”, all over the place, nothing she could understand, but she liked it nonetheless. I might have closed my eyes for just a minute and then pinched myself to open them. (Mind you the second song was a whopping 59 minutes long.) I think my sister said it best, “It would be wonderful background music to have on at home.” Then came the hurricane I mentioned before, but we plunged our way through the rain and back to our poufy beds.
Sunday was all about brunch. We sat in Lafayette for almost 2 hours, sipping coffee and tea, snacking on an almond croissant and indulging in nutella banana waffles and berry lemon pancakes. Brunch is always my favorite, it could have been all about the food, but instead it was all about our lives. We didn’t stop talking for a single minute and finally got to chat about the really important stuff, job shifts, wedding and pregnancies, where we are going in our lives. These chats are critical to my sanity and I cherished every minute of that time.
New York wouldn’t be complete without a little shopping and a Broadway show. Saks was calling us first and then we finished up the day in an intimate theater, chuckling our way through A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. More food at Fig & Olive, left us stuffed on our train ride out of the city, back to reality, the girls weekend away almost over.
I have a wonderful sister for planning such a fun weekend for us, each year she has become more beautiful, more caring and is always so generous. I hope she had a fabulous thirtieth birthday!
February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
There was so much I wanted to share about our trip to San Diego that it seemed like too much for one post. Hence post number two coming your way with a few more treasures.
There are so many little things that feel like indulgences when it’s the middle of February and you leave the snow behind. I noticed a few things instantly, that I didn’t even realize I was missing. First, rolling down the car windows. What a simple thing, but what a luxury too; feeling the cool breeze and listening to the sounds of the city. Second, sweating. I have been running all winter but haven’t sweat once. It’s somewhat disappointing to come home after working out and not feel like you really achieved anything. A big piece of this is sweat related. We went for a run in the rolling hills of Laguna our first morning away and I had beads of sweat within seconds. It made the run feel refreshing and tiring, in the good way. And third, taking a cold shower. Warm days just scream for a cool showers. Your warm, the water is cold, it’s just wonderful. Now these were the small luxuries that I loved in California, but we also had some higher-end luxuries that I am not usually use to either.
We stayed at The US Grant in downtown San Diego. The beauty of this hotel speaks for itself, glass chandeliers in the lobby, large artwork over each bed, and corner rooms with big windows and views. But the service was just as impeccable. It’s the type of service that makes you feel important, even if you aren’t. I was even called Mrs. Tremblay at one time, which had me hiding a smile. Its funny how a beautiful hotel room to come back to each night and wake up in each morning can make you feel so much more relaxed.
There were a few other gems I wanted to share with you. The first being Stone Brewing Company. A wonderful spot, even if you’re not a beer lover. They have a beautiful outdoor space where you can walk around with drinks and relax in Adirondack chairs. We indulged in the stinky cheese platter, forgoing the really stinky cheese option. (I was a little afraid of it to be honest.) The cheese had just the right amount of stink with homemade crackers and crisp apple slices, it was the perfect mid-afternoon snack.
If you find yourself in Coronado, please pop into The Attic. It’s a cute shop of household goods, jewelry, wonderful gifts and the prices are so incredibly reasonable. I picked up coasters and a new ring and was just delighted.
And if you find yourself in need of a pre-dinner snack, try Currant. This restaurant has a playful happy hour menu with gourmet popcorn and tater tots. A lot of indulgent fried food that was satisying but not heavy. The perfect combination with a glass of red wine.
And lastly, if you find yourself in La Jolla, check out the Legends Gallery. They house Dr. Seuss artwork, including some original sketches, like the Grinch! They also have some of his not so known work, that was quite interesting and very different from what we know to be his style. It’s a small gallery but a 15 minute walk through is worth it.
All vacations can feel luxurious at times, your mind is usually at peace, its relaxing and different all at the same time. There are many things I will remember about our trip to San Diego, but its the small things that I know I will cherish for a long time. The best one being this kangaroo at the zoo. We spotted him right when we arrived, snoozing in the sunshine. Instantly, I knew this kangaroo was embodying Ross. If Ross could nap all day, he would, and he would love every minute. We looped back around to him before we left the park, hours later, and he was still in the same spot. Even when he had a scratch, he just lifted his head, not opening an eye, and got it. These are the priceless memories.
February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
When my latte arrived at Cafe Chloe, I’m not sure I could have contained my smile even if I tried. It was in a small bowl, lightly browned foam covering the top with espresso just strong enough. It was even big enough that I shared a sip or two with Ross. I thought our first breakfast in San Diego couldn’t get any better, but then the food arrived. I ordered a crepe oozing with mushrooms and tasting like truffle. (Side note, truffle is huge in San Diego, you can get it on almost anything. We enjoyed it on fries and popcorn while there.) Ross had a zucchini omelette where the chevre just melted in your mouth. We ate in the sunshine, savoring every bite. A light salad on the side almost stole the show, with tomatoes that tasted like they had been picked just seconds earlier. Sometimes you forget what fresh vegetables taste like when they’re off season. I won’t lie, we were so impressed with this cafe that for our last morning in California, I ran over early and grabbed croissants and greek yogurt and brought them back to the hotel for breakfast in bed with the paper. The greek yogurt was covered in dried apricots, hazelnuts and granola, and had a ginger kick that I loved. And the croissants were everything they should be, flaky and moist.
Eating good food is one of my favorite things when on vacation. We rarely eat out at home, so when we are away its a treat to get our meals out. And we very much enjoy the relaxation that goes along with it. We sip our drinks slowly, we sit there longer and enjoy each bite. A lot of hours are spent eating on vacation, so why not savor it. Cafe Chloe may have been the stand out, but there were so many other highlights.
Being from New England, sometimes I forget that California is somewhat of a desert state. Their shrubbery is so different from what I’m used to. And the fog that rolled in each day was always a surprise. It seemed everywhere we went the coast followed us. We spent most of our days hiking, running and even surfing. I haven’t been in the ocean in ages, and although I am a bit frightened of the water (I’m not the best swimmer), I enjoyed it so. I even learned something new about myself, I surf goofy foot. I also now know that I look ridiculous in a wet suit, ocean water is way too salty, and if you push yourself just hard enough you can pretty much do anything. I got up on my surf board for just seven seconds and couldn’t have been happier with myself.
Vacation is a wonderful time to regroup and decompress from our busy schedules. But it’s also a great opportunity to try something different and learn new things. I am not a sit on the beach all day kind of girl; first off I’m Irish and burn in under two minutes, but I also find it quite boring. Somehow I have been lucky to find the perfect balance of relaxing but also doing a ton of things on vacation. It’s just how I like it.
October 27, 2013 § Leave a comment
I won’t lie. Last week I walked over to the city’s farmers market on my lunch break. I walked right past all the fruits and vegetables, past the fresh breads and cheeses and stopped directly in front of the smallest stand.
“One hazelnut crunch donut, please.”
I did pause for just a moment and considered whether I should have chosen the one smothered in vanilla glaze, but the moment passed.
“Do you need a bag or just paper?”
“It’s only going to go one place, right?”
This comment brought the biggest grin to my face. And yes, he was right; I planned to eat it immediately.
I should premise this with the fact that I rarely eat donuts, it actually only happens once a year! On the morning of our annual Christmas tree cutting, we have a brunch that consists of mimosas, bagels and donuts. I savor that one donut each year and usually hit all my bases by having half of a glazed and half of a chocolate frosted. That’s about all I need for the year. But each week, as I picked up my fruits and veggies, I couldn’t help but notice this little donut stand. And although I noticed the stand, I never had the desire to get one. I don’t think I have ever had a donut that wasn’t for breakfast, so at noon or one o’clock in the afternoon, my desire for one was always low. So the one day when I got really excited about the potential of having one I just went for it. And oh my gosh, it was unbelievable. This was a donut elevated to the next level, so flavorful, crunchy and light. No one could ever be disappointed with a donut like this. I ate every bite and licked my fingers and felt utterly satisfied.
The donut stand will go away soon, with the cold winter temperatures coming, the market goes into hibernation. I do believe that this one donut will satisfy me all winter long though; but, if for some reason I get a sudden urge, luckily, they have cute little shop in Somerville.
August 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
I might have to let the photos do the talking for me on this one. First off I should say that I am lucky to have a sister that can somehow find the gems in any city and this was definitely one, Mount Hope Farm.
We were relaxed after only one night away. This huge farmhouse tucked around acres of land has four bedrooms all with their own charm and old fireplaces. There was a patio and gardens just off the kitchen, which lended itself perfectly to after dinner drinks. There were noisy goats and blabbering chickens and a cabin tucked in the woods a mile away right on the edge of Mount Hope Bay.
We ate well and got good seafood when we could. Half of the restaurants in the area are on the water, so the seafood is fresh and plentiful. We reminisced at the The Beehive Cafe. My brother use to live in Bristol, but I don’t know if we will find a reason to go back in the future. Restaurants continue to change hands over the years, this new one, the Trafford Restaurant, was quite nice. Although we longed to be on the patio in the warm sea breeze rather than in the chilly AC.
We took a day trip to Newport, exploring The Breakers, one of the many mansions that line the ocean. And joked about how we could live quite well in a place like this. We scooted into The Midtown Oyster for pita and hummus, more lobster rolls and Whale Tale pale ale. And got our last coffee kick from Mokka Coffeehouse, where we all couldn’t agree on whether the sweet barista’s accent was Scottish, Irish or Australian.
It was just what a few city folks needed.
July 31, 2013 § Leave a comment
A couple of weekends ago I was lucky enough to be in a friends wedding up in Killington, Vermont. Killington might be all hustle and bustle in the winter time with the ski mountain just minutes from our hotel, but in the summertime it’s dead quiet with shops still advertising ski rentals and hot soup specials. I considered myself incredibly lucky to have found Sunup Bakery, a cafe just 2 minutes from our hotel, that was not only open but had an array of breakfast choices. Thank god it was good because it was our only choice for breakfast each morning.
Our journey began Saturday morning. Once off the interstate and on the back roads of Vermont we were surrounded by so much green. There has been some terrible flooding in Vermont this past Summer but it has kept all the vegetation looking so pretty and vibrant. Our first stop was brunch in the town of Woodstock. All of a sudden we were driving through this quaint little downtown area with shops and brick houses, sidewalks and outdoor cafes. We pulled over immediately. Mon Vert Café is filled with Vermont goodies, serving Vermont Coffee Company coffee, Lake Champlain chocolate treats to take to go and breakfast served until 11 a.m. My fiance and I have come up with this little trick where for breakfast we order one sweet thing and one savory thing and share both. This way we aren’t hungry in an hour, but we also get our sugar kick. The cinnamon scone and pesto egg sandwich covered both these categories. We even got to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine for bit in little European-style white metal chairs.
Back on the road the rest of the weekend was busy, as most weddings are. There were nail appointments, rehearsals, lots of food and chatting with people you haven’t seen in years. A few drinks, some late nights and lots of makeup and perfume. So it was pleasant to have an hour in the morning of peace and sunshine, sipping coffee and enjoying each others silence. I think this is why I love cafes so much, if ever you need to nestle in for a bit and escape from reality, they offer a warm spot for you to relax. I also find it is one of the most calming ways to start the day, or at least my days.
As for the wedding, everything went just perfectly and I wish Mel and Mike so much happiness and adventure, two things I know they won’t have trouble with.
June 5, 2013 § Leave a comment
When your own mother, who doesn’t even live in the same state as you, starts telling you about great coffee shops right down the road, that you’ve never heard of, you go! I’m not sure if it’s because we always have monthly t-passes into the city, or if it’s because our 1998 Honda Civic isn’t the most appealing thing to drive, or if it’s because there are so many great places to eat in Boston, but we rarely check out eateries outside the city. This one in particular was just a 10 minute drive away in the town of Newton, so close it was sad that we had missed it for so many years.
My mom had heard about George Howell Coffee on the local news. Apparently George Howell sold his original business to Starbucks and now after many years out of the spotlight, he has opened his own place. He seems to know good coffee and offers pastries, paninis and crepes as perfect accompaniments. And he does know good coffee. I guess his secret is to not blend different coffee beans. In order to get the most intense flavor, the beans should all be from the same place. We popped in one early Saturday morning, for a quick coffee to go and we picked up a pound for later.
It only seemed appropriate when we were up in Vermont a few weekends ago to share the coffee with my parents, since we would have never discovered it without them. My parents recently celebrated their 37th Wedding Anniversary. And with the kids all home for once, we had a little breakfast with champagne, donuts and George Howell coffee. We are lucky if the whole family is in the same place at the same time, it usually only happens once a year at Christmas time. So when it does happen, we cherish it. What better way to spend our time together then lingering over sweet treats and sipping hot coffee.
Ironically, when I purchased the pound of coffee beans I was handed a card for a free cup of coffee on my next visit. Which means, we have to go back. And this time we will be trying not only a new coffee blend but some food too.