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food

November 12, 2018

TRIP TO SAN DIEGO

This has taken me a little longer than I wanted it to, but I’ve been meaning to share my recent trip to San Diego with you guys. Josh and I went to San Diego the second week of October for an award ceremony for Josh’s job. It was five full days of exploring this beautiful city. From taco restaurants to the zoo, we did it all…or at least tried to.

We arrived to San Diego at 12 p.m. on Friday and decided to explore immediately. In San Diego, scooters litter the streets, BIRDs and Limes galore. Me, I could do without a scooter but of course, Josh could not get enough of them. Once we got some food in our stomach at this really cool Mexican Restaurant, La Puerta. Super relaxed and low key restaurant with good food and a fun vibe. And yes, after we ate, we went scootering but not for long. We continued our exploring to the Gas Lamp Quarter where we found another spot to enjoy the city and get some drinks, at American Junkie. And it just so happens that D-list reality TV star James Kennedy was expected to be DJing that night. In the morning and afternoons, American Junkie is a chill relaxed restaurant with sports games blaring on several TVs and an awesome outdoor seating area, perfect for people watching. However, at night, it turns into a club. Enter James Kennedy. We didn’t stay to wait for him, but I did shamelessly take a photo of the sign the hostess was creating. Not sorry.

As we were walking back to our hotel, we decided to peruse The Embaracadero Marina Park, it was on our list but Josh was also eyeing another scooter and as you can imagine, the park is the perfect place to scoot (is that a thing/verb?). It’s a really cool low key area right on the water with various walkways and grass to sprawl out and relax. Next to the park is The Seaport Village which consists of a bunch of touristy shops and restaurants. It’s right on the water and it’s a beautiful place to stroll through, definitely recommend!

The next morning we woke up early and headed back to the Gaslamp Quarter and decided to try our luck with a Saturday morning brunch spot. Josh and I are both foodies, so we’re not particularly fussy when it comes to new places. We stopped at Cafe 21, mostly because the outside decorations were oh-so Instagram worthy. It’s actually an organic, gluten-free eatery and it is DELICIOUS. Josh and I eat gluten like it’s our job, and as I said, we don’t seek out places, we just kind of go wherever feels right. This was one of our favorite meals! I ordered the Turkey Benedict which consisted of a spinach and feta bread pudding base, topped with turkey, a poached egg and cranberry jam. OMG. It. Was. Incredible. I was a little iffy on the combination, but it was so delicious and so fresh; literally drooling thinking about it right now. Josh got the Shrimp Corn Cakes, which included poached eggs, Kennebec potato, wild shrimp, sweet corn, mozzarella, cilantro cream sauce and, fried basil. I had a taste and it was good, but we both agreed my meal was the best. I also got a perfect cappuccino to complement my meal–AMAZE.

After brunch, we headed to the USS Midway Museum. This maritime museum located downtown and consists of the aircraft carrier Midway. The ship includes an extensive amount of aircraft, many of which were built in Southern California. It was super fun exploring the carrier and learning more about the aircraft it houses. We probably spent two and a half hours there–definitely a must-see in San Diego.

From the Midway, we headed to Coronado to visit the famous Hotel Del for lunch. It is BEAUTIFUL and filled with history.

Info about the hotel ^^^

We ate at Sheerwater, which was way overpriced and not anything amazing. It wasn’t bad, it just could have been better. We were there mostly for the amazing scenery and that did NOT disappoint. Definitely a place worth visiting when in San Diego.

We strolled the beach. It’s huge and so beautiful. It was the perfect beach day, but it was on the chillier side. If we had more time, I would be living at this beach all week. Oh, and people carved sand pumpkins…

See! Here they are ^^ CUTEE.

The reception for Josh’s award was hosted on the field of Petco Park. We ate ballpark-style food on the actual field and self-toured the stadium. It was an awesome experience!

The next morning, we headed to La Jolla for a kayak tour with La Jolla Kayak Tours lol. We took the Original Cave Tour, which consisted of paddling along the coastline, catching glimpses of sea lions bathing in the sun. We stopped in front of the caves, but it was a little too rough to go through them. At each spot we paddled to, the tour guides filled us with fun facts and anecdotes. My favorite was one about Dr. Seuss. Theodor Seuss Geisel lived atop the mountains in La Jolla and, like most guys, he loved hosting guys night at his place, but his wife hated when he did that. So, to avoid the men, she would make her way to the top of the mountain and enjoy her own girls night. But when she was ready to head home, she would call Dr. Seuss and tell him to get everyone out of the house, she was on her way home. He would turn to his friends and say: “Time to go! The Grinch is coming to steal all of our fun.” (paraphrasing) and they would rush to leave. Apparently, she was the inspiration behind The Grinch, and I’m not sure their marriage lasted very long. For those who love the ocean and to be outside, I definitely recommend this tour–it was also a great workout! After, we got brunch at Galaxy TacoThey make their own taco shells and their food is DELICIOUS. I got the traditional Mexican breakfast meal known as Chilaquiles–so good! We sat outside and enjoyed some people watching while crunching on tortilla chips.

That evening, we decided to visit the famous Sunset Cliffs, Natural Park. For the best ocean and sunset views, this is the place to be. It’s a 68-acre city of San Diego park which extends 1 1/2 miles along the Point Loma peninsula’s western shoreline. The views were breathtaking and while there were a ton of people there, it didn’t feel crowded. There are more than enough spots to view the sunset.

We didn’t want to leave…

So pretty. Ready to go back.

As you can imagine, we worked up the quite the appetite. From kayaking to viewing sunsets, we were ready to eat! This is absolutely Josh’s favorite spot: The Crack Shack.  It’s your well-above average fried chicken, chicken sandwich, really good fast food-esque restaurant. They can describe it much better, here. I got the California Dip and Josh got the Double Clucker…he can’t stop talking about it…even now. We also got a side of Mexican Poutine-AMAZING. Mouth is watering again. If we were in San Diego longer, we probably would’ve gone at least once a day, especially if it were up to Josh.

On our second to last day, Josh went golfing at Torrey Pines while I wandered around the Gaslamp Quarter. I’m not a golfer, but the course is beautiful…right?

After golf, I met up with him to go for a hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve. The views were beautiful and we ended up hiking two trails, so our legs were literally jello by the end of the day.

Paused for beach views before hiking up the steepest part of the trail. Needless to say, we didn’t make it out to dinner that night as we hoped. Instead, we ordered room service and watched 90 Day Fiance… it was a long day!!

And on our final day, we made it to the San Diego Zoo. So amazing! So fun. We spent five hours there made it to the majority of the exhibits, not all. My favorite was the orangutans–they are too funny! I could hang with them all day LOL. Here for updated information on the zoo.

 We obviously took some breaks to take photobooth pics… And eat gigantic boozy snow cones. It was such a fun day and a great way to end our trip. 

We had an early dinner at a restaurant near our hotel called La Puesto. It was pretty delicious and definitely a place we would go back to. Below is a list of places I really wanted to try, but just didn’t have enough time to visit.

Ballast Point Brewery

The Taco Stand 

Nolita Hall

Charles and Dinorah 

Trust 

Lola 55 

Piatti La Jolla 

Tacos Libertad

Herb + Wood 

Ironside Fish and Oyster

Hope you found this helpful and I can’t wait to make another trip out there since there is so much left to see…and eat!

xx

Jackie

May 1, 2018

MY CHARLESTON TRAVEL GUIDE

Oh vacation, how I miss you! Last week, Josh and I spent a week in Charleston, South Carolina and I can’t explain how badly I want to be back there right now. Typically, when we vacation, we tend to find an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean and drink and eat ourselves silly. But I have been wanting to visit Charleston ever since I started watching Southern Charm (LOL JK, guys! Give me a little more credit). Seriously, it’s a city that has been on my bucket list for a long time. So, as my Christmas present, Josh booked us a trip to Charleston, and after waiting for four long cold months, we jetted off to this perfectly charming city. First of all, the weather was incredible every day. It was between 70 and 80-degrees with, what seemed like a constant refreshing breeze. According to the locals, April/May are the best months to visit the city (way to go, Josh!). We stayed at an AirBnb on James Island, which is a prime location because it’s right between the beach and downtown. If you’ll keep reading, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite spots to eat, beach, drink and explore! I’m also going to share some of the places we didn’t have time to go to. Josh and I really wanted to go on a tour of the city. We actually explored some of the major spots ourselves first and then went on a tour to learn more about Charleston’s incredible history. Above is a view of The Battery. The Battery is a landmark in Charleston and is a defensive seawall, named for a civil-war defense artillery battery. It stretches along the lower shores of Charleston, forming the harbor. I loved walking this promenade and feeling the sea breeze–bring me back! And, in the distance, you can see the famous Ravenel bridge. Okay, the reason I’m unnecessarily obsessed with this bridge is mostly because it is named after the one and only drama-starting, reality TV “star” Thomas Ravenel. I’m super fascinated by this family, and this bridge is named after Arthur Ravenel Jr. (Thomas Ravenel’s dad). I learned quite a bit about this bridge. It connects Charleston to Mt. Pleasant (which is an area I wanted to go but didn’t have time), it is the third largest cable-stayed bridge in the Western Hemisphere and its total length is 13,200 feet (WHOA!). If you’re planning on visiting Charleston, one of your first stops must be The Battery–it’s perfect and picturesque. For our tour, we did a combined bus and boat tour with Grayline tours. It was $40 per person and was three hours long. I really enjoyed exploring the city with them. We also drove through the Citadel campus which was beautiful. And the boat tour was a big highlight for us! We toured the harbor, saw Sullivan’s Island and Fort Sumter….and went right under the Arthur Ravenel bridge (LOL…K I’m done). When we go again, we would probably go on the highly recommended Gullah tour. 

UM. You can’t visit Charleston and not visit Rainbow Row. It was clearly number one on my list and out of all the colorful homes, this vibrant lavender one was my favorite! There are 13 colorful historic houses, and it represents the longest cluster of Georgian row houses in the United States. An absolute must see.

Here! I’ll live right here. Just one of the many ivy-covered homes I want to live in.

Another shot of The Battery, and that bright pink house, right there, is John Ravenel’s house, 5 East Battery (OMG ha! I’m embarrassing myself, but it’s beautiful). It was declared the best real estate on the peninsula with the most beautiful views…in 1838. Not exactly sure it’s an ideal place to live during a hurricane…just sayin’!

More of The Battery….behind is the White Point Gardens at The Battery. A better image of the White Point Gardens at The Battery. I could stare at these trees all day. They’re breathtaking; out of a scene from The Notebook.

Staying so close to the beach, we were told we had to go to Folly Beach. We went there on our first full day in Charleston, which was a Thursday, and after talking to some locals, that was the best decision we ever made. Apparently, there are only a few beaches in Charleston, Folly being the most popular, and in the summer it could take an hour to get to the beach from where we were, which was 10-15 minutes away. Since it gets super hot in the summer months, almost sticky, naturally everyone retreats to the beach. If you’re planning on going to the beach, plan to go on a weekday.  And, it’s not just a beach, but a whole town with restaurants, bars, and tourist shops. After getting burnt to a crisp and walking out on the pier, we hopped around Folly, with our first stop being  Rita’s Seaside Grille.  A cocktail is just what we needed after getting fried in the sun (Josh more than me). OKAY. I don’t know what they did, but their Pina Colada was silky smooth and AMAZING. My mouth is watering thinking about it now. After getting some liquor in us, we stopped at Taco Boy, which is a super cool spot with the best type of food on earth. You guessed it…TACOS. I LOVED everything about this spot and it was super affordable too. Quick service and great views of the streets of Folly. Let the people watching begin! I got a Kimchi Beef taco which was out of this world. If you find your way there and are debating between tacos, let the kimchi be one of your selections.

Our first night, we went to Leon’s Oyster Shop. Josh and I love seafood, so this was the perfect place to kick off our vacation. We got…oysters, of course, peel and eat shrimp and I got the Siam Salad–so good! OH…AND…. for dessert, they offer soft serve ice cream! What!?!!! I got the vanilla soft serve in a cone with rainbow sprinkles…AMAZING.

If you take one thing from this whole post, it’s to go to Carmella’s Dessert Bar. UM. TWO WORDS: DESSERT BAR. We went to this place TWICE! It’s right on East Bay Street, in a row with a group of great restaurants. They have gelato, cake, coffee, and alcohol…what more could you ask for! I got salted caramel gelato with a scoop of chocolate gelato and it was (double hand raise emoji) amazing! We went again on our last night and I ordered a cappuccino and salted caramel chocolate mousse–OH YES! It’s a fun spot to stop at after dinner or to take a break from shopping. It’s completely open too, so you can feel the fresh air and see the passersby.

See! How cute is Taco Boy? It’s as good as it looks.

We grabbed lunch at Prohibition. The lunch menu was limited, but I can tell you that the brussel sprouts were AWESOME! It’s a huge place, with this cute outdoor seating area. We would’ve gone back for dinner, had we had more time. Definitely a spot worth checking out!

Looking for a light bite and cozy atmosphere? Go to The Gin Joint. It was OK, but I’m not sure we would go back. Check out some places I wasn’t able to make it to below.

In the mood for a delicious breakfast and good coffee? Go to The Daily. There are two locations, and we went to the one on King Street. I wish we went more than once because there were a few things I wanted to try. Seating is a bit limited at this location and it’s cafeteria style ordering, but it’s SO good. Highly recommend.

These fun little ice cream looking trucks are made for both adults and children. Booze Pops! That’s right, in addition to your go-to chaco taco, they sell frozen booze popsicles. Definitely, a fun novelty to try. There are two in Charleston and are for the most part parked in the same spots, this one was right on King Street, the main shopping destination in the city. Great way to cool off while shopping in the South Carolina heat.

I didn’t do any shopping while I was visiting. I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about any great clothing boutiques I stumbled upon, but my coworker stocked up on some super cute shoes at Shoes on King. I stopped in but there were too many shoes that I NEEDED, so I had to leave ASAP. The sales associates were super friendly and funny. There’s a mix of boutiques and your typical mainstream retailers: Forever 21, Louis Vuitton, Sperry, Vineyard Vines, Madewell…you get the gist.

We didn’t go into this antique shop, but this sign was too perfect not to snap a photo of.

Here are some of the other places we went to and loved…

Jestine’s Kitchen: Amazing southern food. We stopped in for lunch after our tour and it was one of our favorite meals

The Vendue Rooftop: Super cool spot! We stopped here after walking the city and got some drinks and a light bite. The views are unreal and it wasn’t as crowded as I expected it to be. There were a ton of people there, but there was so much space so it didn’t feel like everyone was on top of one another.

Loggerheads in Folly Beach: This was Josh’s favorite spot. We sat outside on the rooftop/deck. It’s a beach bar, right next to the marina. It’s an older crowd, but there are a ton of TVs and great live music! Definitely a spot we would go back to.

Pearlz Oyster Bar: Our favorite meal! I got the salmon on top of beet goat cheese risotto—heavenly

Ones we wanted to try…

If you have time, go to Mount Pleasant. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time but apparently, there are a ton of great places to eat and it’s a bit less expensive than downtown Charleston.

Stars Rooftop, Revelry Brewing, Husk, Hominy Grill, Mex 1 Coastal Cantina, Obstinate Daughter, Vintage Coffee Cafe, Ink N Ivy, The Watch Rooftop, SNOB, Shem Creek Bar and Grill, Market Pavillion Hotel (Pavillion Rooftop) and The Commodore. Downtown Charleston is small, so it’s fairly easy to hop around to different places.

Hope this was helpful and I really hope you get a chance to visit this amazing city! If you do, let me know what your favorite places are and share some of your adventures with me.

 

xx

Jackie

 

 

September 4, 2015

TOP DOG

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Have you ever sat behind your desk, day in and day out and wondered what else you could be doing with your life? I think it’s safe to say that no matter how much you may love your job there definitely has come a time where you contemplated abandoning social “norms” and running away to an island with no plan, leaving it up to fate, Tim Gunn-ing if you will. Is that just me? I think I’ve had several quarter life crises where I’ve second guessed where I am in my life and although I’m not exactly where I thought I’d be (who is?), I have to say I’m pretty happy with how things are turning out. A couple weeks ago, while in Connecticut my mom and I visited her very best childhood friend, Andrea known to me as Aunt Andrea, at her hot dog truck Top Dog. Those of you who know me well, know that hot dogs are not just a summer BBQ food for me, they’re a main staple in my diet. So you can imagine my excitement. We arrived early before the lunch rush and were able to talk to Aunt Andrea about a typical day at Top Dog. Hard worker is an understatement, her day begins at 6am where she makes her chili and sauerkraut to ensure it’s fresh for the day’s start. Then she has to pack up her truck with all necessary ingredients, including cheese for her cheese dog, freshly made bacon for her her BACON cheese dog, a hot and sweet relish for her Orleans dog, some spicy hot Orleans relish for her Cajun dog and I can’t forget sauteed onions and a spicy tomato sauce for her New York dog. As you can imagine she has your typical hot dog toppings available i.e ketchup, yellow and brown mustard and relish. Once she has the truck packed and ready to go she drives to her spot on Route 66 in Portland Connecticut. As you can tell from the picture above, Top Dog is pulled by her vintage Checker Cab, she explained that it’s quite a scene on the highway and while some drivers find her slow driving charming, others are not so amused. I was able to go inside Top Dog, first of all the smell is an AMAZING mixture of steaming hot dogs and mouth watering chili. It’s small inside, so all of her condiments and ingredients are in containers on her right, with a microwave and then a cooler on her left for drinks. If you think that this week’s weather has been hot, then you haven’t been inside a hot dog. It was about 20 degrees hotter inside than out, I don’t know how she does it. Like I said hard worker doesn’t even begin to describe Andrea. I get cranky in the heat, like you really don’t want to be near me. As I watched Andrea interact with her customers, some she’s known for years, others new to Top Dog, she didn’t cease to have a smile on her face or a funny joke to crack. The passion she has for what she does is something most would envy, it’s palpable. Since I graduated I’ve always been determined to do what I “love” and to be honest that hasn’t been so easy, but nothing good is ever easy and I’m excited for what’s in store. Plus, I have some major inspiration to refer to while I make my way through.

 

For more information on Top Dog, check it out here!

 

 

August 27, 2015

CHAMARD VINEYARDS

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My mom and I decided to take a few days and spend some time at our beach house in Westbrook, CT just the two of us. A couple months ago, I was in the Starbucks in Old Saybrook, CT and was eaves dropping on a couple who were raving about Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, CT. I mean hello, it’s hard not to listen to people when you’re standing in line anxiously awaiting your daily source of sanity. They could not stop talking about how delicious the food was and how wonderful their time was there. My mom, who is also my best friend is always up for trying new things especially when it comes to restaurants, she’s quite the foodie. We booked a reservation for Monday night, to try out the bistro that overlooks the vineyard. The Chamard Vineyards bistro only seats 35 people so reservations are required, it’s not a place you can just drop in on unannounced, however it wasn’t crowded on a weekday night (as you can probably imagine). The entrance was out of a Nicholas Sparks romance novel, a long gravel driveway lined with vines of various grapes until we reached the beautiful bistro that overlooked a small pond, more of the vineyard and a field of sunflowers. It was charming and breathtaking, almost too perfect. Our reservation was for 7pm but we arrived a half hour early to do some exploring and enjoy the pending sunset. While we would have loved to have gone on a tour we were happy with our choice to do some solo exploration, and then comfort ourselves with a delicious meal. Once we were seated our waitress was attentive and welcoming. We started with a glass of Chamard Chardonnay and the Camemberet en Croute, which is a creamy brie wrapped in a puff pastry served with salted caramel sauce, pears and apples. I’m typically not a fruit and cheese person, meaning I don’t like to mix my salty foods with sweet ones, however I could not get enough of the apple slices drenched in the gooey cheesy goodness—AMAZING. We couldn’t even finish it, and had to wrap it up for later (it was just as delicious reheated, if you could believe that!). For our main meals, my mom got the Croque Madame, which is essentially an open faced sandwich with ham, swiss cheese, a fried egg and Mornay sauce on a sourdough bread with a side salad. I don’t think my mom has ever raved about a meal as much as she did with this one. It looked delicious, and she especially liked the fried egg complemented by the rich sauce—she’s still drooling. I got the Chamard Fines Herbs Gnocchi, I was reluctant at first because gnocchi tends to be overwhelmingly filling and rich, however this meal was refreshingly light  (for gnocchi) and absolutely delicious. It was homemade gnocchi accompanied by morel mushrooms, spring ramps, sauteed nettles, asparagus, truffle butter and topped with shaved parmesan. The sauce was light enough not to make me feel uncomfortably full but the flavors were rich enough to make it an outstanding meal. What’s unique about this bistro, (open from Noon-9pm Monday-Saturday & open Sunday 11am-8pm) is that the menu varies with the season and they do have some daily/weekly alterations as well. I definitely plan to come back in the fall to give that menu a try, I’m hoping there will be some pumpkin inspired dishes to try! As you can expect, they also host weddings as well as other types of events, oh and on the weekend they have live music in their barn! So, if you’re in the area or even in the city and want to get away for the weekend I highly recommend you book a room at Water’s Edge Resort in Westbrook, CT and take a quick trip 20 minutes down the road to Clinton to spend the day at Chamard Vineyards. It’s worth the trip, plus you’ll be able to escape from reality and enjoy some time surrounded by natural beauty and followed by delicious food!

Just treat yourself and book a trip to look forward to as we brace for summer’s end!

xx

Jacqueline

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