Archive for October, 2011

This week’s travel idea was inspired by my recent bike riding trip in Napa Valley (post coming!).  It was my first time in Yountville and it was so quaint that I immediately decided that I had to plan an ideal weekend getaway for me and the hubs sometime in the near future.  While we are by no means oenophiles, we do enjoy drinking wine and eating delicious food, making Yountville the perfect town, since it is home to Thomas Keller’s famed restaurants and numerous tasting rooms.

Featured Travel Idea: Yountville, Napa Valley Wine Region

top: cottages, secret garden, ma(i)sonry, wine making

middle: anthropologie, napa valley, ad hoc

bottom: bike riding, croissant, bouchon

Stay at the charming Cottages of Napa Valley, which in addition to being pet friendly also has the added perk of providing a daily breakfast basket of pastries from Bouchon Bakery.  What better way to start the day then with a chocolate almond croissant in bed?  Afterwards,walk through town taking in the shops, chic tasting rooms, and gourmet restaurants and head to the Hill Family Farm and Jacobsen Orchards for the Secret Garden Tour.  The Jacobsen Orchards is the organic farm contracted to French Laundry, so even if you can’t get a reservation or afford to eat at the restaurant, you can still tour their garden and sample the fruits and vegetables. Another slightly off the beaten path activity is the wine making experience at Paraduxx where you can mix your very own blend.  Spend the rest of the weekend biking through the beautiful rolling hills of Napa Valley and stopping by the numerous intimate family owned wineries.  After you’ve had your fill of wine, head to Ma(i)sonry to peruse the art gallery or St. Helena Olive Oil Co. to sample numerous varieties of olive oils, mustards, salts, and sauces.  Round out your weekend with a visit to any number of notable restaurants in Yountville, like Thomas Keller’s casual family style restaurant Ad Hoc, the landmark farm-to-table restaurant Mustard Grill, or the Michelin starred yet unpretentious Redd.

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Incanto…what can be said about this place that hasn’t been said before.  The hubs has been dying to try this place since he first saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations San Francisco episode.  Bourdain can recommend cold mushy peas and the hubs would want to try it, so you can imagine what salted pig parts does to the man!  To say that we were excited to finally try out this place is an understatement.

All in all the experience and the food was excellent.  The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, albeit a little boisterous.  We were actually seated in the Dante Room which is a small private dining room usually reserved for group dining, so it was a lot more intimate than the main dining room.  As per usual, we were given a basket of bread to start, which also came with an olive tapenade spread! I am really loving the spreads these farm fresh restaurants give as an alternative to butter!

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For appetizers, we ordered the Boccalone Salumi Platter, which comes in three sizes, piglet, sow, and boar.  We went with the piglet, but only because we decided to share a pasta dish as an appetizer too and it proved to be just the right size.  We selected the Handkerchief Pasta & Rustic Pork Ragu.  Both dishes were delicious and a particular highlight was the roasted garlic bulb on the salumi platter.  I looove garlic so it was a great complement to the cured meats.  For our entrees, I ordered the Pork Belly dish while the hubs tried the Goat dish.  I didn’t try the goat but the hubs seemed to enjoy it.  As for the pork belly, well, let’s just say it was THE BEST PIECE OF PORK I have ever tasted! And I don’t say that lightly.  It literally just melted in my mouth.  The hubs even had the nerve to pull the “hey, what’s that” move and steal a piece off my plate!  Needless to say, I will definitely be coming back again!

Again, rather than try their desserts, which I’m sure would’ve been just as delicious as their entrees, we opted for a stroll and ice cream again.  Since we were near the Bernal Heights area, we walked a few blocks over to Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  Mitchell’s is just as popular and tasty as Bi-Rite Creamery but offers very different flavors.  While Bi-Rite tends to be more gourmet-y (yes that’s a word), with flavors like salted caramel and honey lavender, Mitchell’s flavors are hawaiian-esque or asian-y, with tropical flavors like halo halo, ube, and ginger.  Between the two of us, we tried the ube, white pistachio, mango, grasshopper pie, and black walnut O.O!  So, yeah, they were all good 😀


1550 Church Street, between 28th and Duncan St.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

688 San Jose Avenue, between Valley & 29th St.

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Fall is finally here!  I’m so excited! I spent the last two years in the land of perpetual summer and I’m happy that I finally get to experience a change of seasons.  Is there anything better than drinking warm apple cider, breathing in the crisp air, and watching the leaves change colors? I think not.

Featured Travel Idea: Hudson Valley, New York

top: great jack o’lantern, wine tote, blue hill, sweater

middle: working farm, bedford post inn, apple picking

bottom: fall foliage, fall outfit, apple cider

Hudson Valley would make a lovely weekend getaway for those living in the NYC metropolitan area.  Stay at the intimate yet luxurious Bedford Post Inn, which includes a complimentary yoga class and daily homemade pastries for breakfast.  After a peaceful night’s sleep, spend the next two days hiking and taking in the wonderful fall foliage,visiting a working farm, or apple-picking.  Squeeze in a picnic and a glass of wine or two.  Savor the seasonal ingredients at Blue Hill at Stone Barns for dinner.  Finally, get in the Halloween spirit with a good scare at The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze.


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Last Friday night eats was at a Firefly, a quaint neighborhood restaurant that’s tucked away in a residential area of Noe Valley.  Upon entering you get the sense that the place is mostly frequented by locals.  The atmosphere was lively without being noisy and felt very warm and inviting.

After ordering, they brought out a loaf of bread that was complimented with a carrot and bean spread.  It was so delicious I very nearly licked all of it off the knife, until the hubs gave me his please don’t embarrass me look.  We ordered the Dueling Kona Kampachi, as an appetizer, which is a white fish prepared two ways, grilled and tartare.  The grilled version had a sweet buttery taste but the tartare was light and refreshing.  The hubs had the Seared Scallops entree, which he ordered after seeing so many other diners ordering it as well.  I’m not a big fan of scallops but these were a-mazing.  So good that next time I want to order my own plate and have each and every one of them to myself.  Ever see the Friends episode where Joey gets upset that his date tried his food?  Yeah, well, that’s how I’d feel about these scallops!

I ordered the Roasted Duck Breast, which was very flavorful, especially when paired with the figs.  The hubs and I opted to skip dessert in hopes of finding something else and I’m so glad we did!  Just down the street from Firefly, we stumbled upon Pasta Gina, an Italian deli/specialty market.  We walked in unsure of whether they even had any desserts and almost walked straight out of there since all we saw were savory items, until I saw a sign for fresh cannoli.  Being from NYC, the hubs and I have missed all the wonderful italian pastry shops and being able to grab a good cannoli whenever we wanted.  Well, let me tell you, this did not disappoint! It was better than a lot of cannoli’s we’ve had in NY.  Even at a whopping $6 a piece, I highly recommend trying the cannolis here.  They were filled to order so that the shell stayed fresh and crunchy.  The filling was just the right amount of sweetness with chocolate chips sprinkled throughout.

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If you’re looking for a neighborhood-y restaurant with delicious food, attentive staff, and an unpretentious atmosphere without having to make a reservation weeks in advance, I’d recommend Firefly.  And if you ever need a lovely take-out option, I’d suggest giving Pasta Gina a try.  With a selection of pasta, cheese, wine, and dessert, you can pick up a whole meal for a romantic night in ;).


4288 24th Street, between Diamond & Douglass St.

Pasta Gina

741 Diamond Street, between 24th & Elizabeth St.

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Happy Hump Day! Wednesdays are always a little hard to get through, it’s a little busier, you’re energy level is waning, the weekend is close enough to make plans but still 2 full workdays away.  For me though, Wednesdays also mean that I get Travelzoo’s Top 20 newsletter.  I love checking out the travel deals first thing in the morning and then spending the day daydreaming about all the wonderful trips I could take.  Traveling is my passion and although I don’t always get a chance to travel, I’m always thinking about my next trip and finding travel inspiration throughout my daily life.

I’ll be posting travel ideas on here every Wednesday to hopefully inspire you and maybe even help you get through your Wednesdays a little easier 🙂

Featured Travel Idea: Palm Springs, California (inspired by Mad Men & Pan Am)

top: postcard, luggage, ace hotel

middle: ace hotel, rental, swimsuit, sundress

bottom: corvette, dress, joshua tree 

Palm Springs would make a fun girls weekend getaway.  First, we’d get into the spirit of the 60’s by renting a mod vacation house complete with a pool and barbecue grill or staying in the Ace Hotel for an affordable yet unique experience.  We would then rent a classic convertible and drive to nearby Joshua Tree National Park for an early morning hike and tons of fun photo opportunities with the girls.  When the sun starts to get too hot, we’d head back to the house or hotel for an afternoon dip in our retro inspired bathing suits.  And finally in the evening, the we would get dolled up in fun retro dresses and go out for dinner and classic cocktails!

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