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Archive for December, 2011

There’s just something so wonderful about holiday lights that always puts me in a festive mood and gives me warm fuzzies all over! This year I get to spend the holidays with my close family and friends which I’m so happy and thankful for.  Things I’m especially looking forward to in no particular order:

1. Dunkin Donuts

2. Shopping at the best mall and best outlet in the country (in my opinion anyway) with zero sales tax! 

3. Spending time with the little ones in the family

4. NY Pizza

5. Counting down the New Year with friends I’ve known since middle school!

6. My dad’s cooking

7. Sugar Sweet Sunshine cupcakes!

8. Freezing my toesies off but being okay with it because it’s the holidays!

9. Wandering the streets of NYC

10. Finally trying out the awesome Barres and Belles class that turned my friend’s butt into buns of steel and hoping that I will have them too…after 1 class.

I hope you guys are all enjoying the holidays in your own special way and I’ll be back next year with a bunch of inspiration posts!

 

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I’m back from my weekend in Tahoe and I have the sore arms and butt to prove it!  Unfortunately I don’t have many pictures to show you guys since my camera broke 😦 but I’ll do a write up soon on what we did and where we ate.

So it’s officially less than a week until Christmas (eek!) and I’m really looking forward to heading back to NYC/NJ to visit friends and family.  While fall is definitely the best time weather-wise to visit NYC, I personally think that Christmas is the best time to be in the city, for those who can brave the weather.  All the store windows and restaurants do such a great job of holiday decorating that it’s impossible not to feel the holiday spirit while walking around the city.  Here’s a list of some of my favorite things to do in the city around the holidays and hopefully I’ll get to some of it while I’m there.

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No trip to NYC during the holidays would be complete without visiting the iconic Rockefeller Christmas Tree.  Go to the newly opened Bouchon Bakery for a cup of coffee and pastry and people watch around the ice-skating rink.  If it gets too cold, head underground to the Concourse and window shop.

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Starting from the Rockefeller Center, walk up Fifth Avenue and admire all the beautifully decorated windows.  I swear they get more and more elaborate each year and it’s definitely fun to just see all the luxury stores try to outdo each other.

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Even though it’s always crazy crowded, I always try to make a stop in FAO Schwartz.  It’s the oldest toy store in the country and features every toy imaginable.  I don’t know if there’s any better time than Christmas to let out your inner child!

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Grab a cup of what is considered by many to be the best hot chocolate at the Jacques Torres shop in Chelsea Market and head to nearby Highline Park (below pic).  Although it’ll be cold, you’ll be guaranteed to have the elevated park mostly to yourself, plus you have the hot chocolate to keep you warm!

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Catch the annual showing of the Nutcracker at Lincoln Center where you’ll instantly be transported into a winter fantasyland!

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And finally my favorite winter activity in NYC, visiting the Wollman Ice-skating Rink in Central Park.  There’s multiple rinks in the city, but none more romantic than Wollman where you’re ice-skating amidst snow covered trees under the beautiful NYC skyline.  Or if you’re like me and prefer not to ice-skate, make your way over to the rock formations nearby overlooking the rink where you can sit and people watch.

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What are some of your favorite holiday activities? Are there any in New York City that I missed?

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Hey there! Remember when I waxed poetic about the pork belly at Incanto?  Well, I may have found a dish that rivals it and it’s that dish you see up there in the picture.  The salt roasted bone marrow appetizer at Wayfare Tavern.  Perfectly paired with sourdough bread and rutabaga jam, the bone marrow was tasty and oh so fatty in a good way.  But let me start from the beginning.

Wayfare Tavern is Tyler Florence’s flagship restaurant, and being a fan of Tyler Florence, I knew we had to try it out.  I made reservations a month in advance but could only manage a 9:15pm slot, which worked out well for us since we ended up sitting at the chef’s table, which is basically a counter with a direct view of the kitchen and the chefs hard at work.  It was so much fun seeing the chefs preparing all the food and in the end we wanted to try everything we saw coming out of that kitchen!

I loved everything about the restaurant.  From the moment we stepped through the door, everyone from the hostess to the waitstaff were friendly.  The ambiance is what you’d expect of a tavern, warm and inviting yet lively.  If you go, I’d highly recommend trying to get a seat at the chef’s table or at the very least on the first floor since that’s where all the action is.

Most restaurants start off their customers with a few slices of bread and butter, not Wayfare though.  They brought out freshly baked popovers!  I wish I took a picture, but trust me when I say it was delicious.  Also I’ve never seen the hubs rave about bread so much before.  It was hard narrowing down appetizers but we managed to select the bone marrow of course and the deviled eggs, which I had read about alot in reviews.  I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

For entrees, the hubs settled with the guinness braised lamb shank and I had the organic fried chicken.  I’m not a lamb person so I can’t comment but the hubs praised its flavor and tenderness.  As with everything we tried, the fried chicken was good as well.  If you’re looking for an outstanding dish with flavors exploding in your mouth, this is not it, but it is really good fried chicken.

Even though we were stuffed, we couldn’t help ourselves and ordered the wayfare tavern chocolate cream pie.  And it was…. you guessed it… so good!  It was the perfect sweetness, which is how we judge our desserts, sweet, but not too sweet.  And to top it off, the waiter brought over two little warm butter cookies to complement the dessert.  I don’t know that it necessarily complemented it but they sure were yummy!  Excuse the picture below, I was too excited and took a bite before remembering to take a photo!

Wayfare’s cuisine can be described as creative American comfort food, which is why the hubs and I enjoyed it so much.  I don’t really consider ourselves foodies  since we don’t dissect every aspect of a dish but we do appreciate and enjoy good food and we especially love comfort type food done really well so Wayfare was definitely a winner in both our books and a place we’d love to visit again and again and…

Wayfare Tavern

558 Sacramento Street, between Leidesdorff and Montgomery St.

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I had such a good time last weekend visiting friends and exploring San Diego/La Jolla from a local’s perspective.  Although I really love Nor-Cal, the wonderful weather and beaches were enough to make me miss living in Southern California.  I didn’t have much time to spend down there (less than 48 hours) but we still managed to fit in so much, especially in the food area!

Friday night was spent at Harney Sushi in Old Town.  Not only was it close to the airport and bus station, making it a convenient stop after everyone arrived, but it was a great spot for late night dining.  We arrived there at 10:30pm and the place was happening! The ambience was great, the scene was lively, and as a bonus, they also had a half price late night dining menu!  Definitely check this place if you’re looking for a place for drinks or late night cheap sushi.

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There’s nothing I look forward to more than brunch on the weekends and Hash House a Go Go definitely delivered.  It’s one of the more popular brunch spots so make sure you make a reservation or be prepared to wait.  It is located in the Hillcrest neighborhood though so you can definitely explore the neighborhood while you wait for a table.  Hillcrest is a hip area filled with unique restaurants and shops and also borders the northwest corner of Balboa Park, close to where the San Diego Zoo is located, so it’s a fun area to visit.  But back to Hash House.  They serve what they call “twisted farm food”, but I basically call it yummy comfort food on steroids.  One meal there and you’re good for the whole day!  They have all kinds of hashes, scrambles, benedicts and pancakes.  Everything we ordered was delicious so you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

After our hearty breakfast we headed to Coronado Island for the Annual Artisan’s Craft Fair and to check out the famous Hotel Del Coronado.  The craft fair was a good way to walk off all the food we ate and a good place to pick up some holiday decor and gifts if I didn’t have to carry it back on the plane with me.  Even though Coronado Island is separated from San Diego by just a short bridge, you feel as though you’ve been transported to a small island village.  The homes on the island are incredibly charming, the people are so friendly, and the beaches are vast.  The Hotel Del is a beautiful beachfront hotel that’s conveniently located by the main drag.  The town center was already decked out in holiday lights making for a very festive atmosphere.  We toured the hotel grounds, taking in the various Dr. Seuss sculptures, the ice-skating rink set amidst the palm trees, and the ocean views.

Since it was only about an hour to sunset, we decided to take a stroll on the beautiful beach (one of the nicest in So-Cal!), grab a cup of hot tea and wait.  Seems like everyone else had the same idea since all the ocean facing tables with fire pits were taken! The sunset definitely did not disappoint, it was so beautiful.

Afterwards we drove back into the city for dinner at Oceanaire Seafood Restaurant in the Gaslamp District.  The service was impeccable and the seafood was delicious.  I would recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for fresh seafood or just a nice night out.  We had the Whole Flash Fried “Angry” Mexican Lane Snapper, the Boston Pan Fried Scallops, and the “Drunken” South Pacific Swordfish.  All were extremely tasty.  After dinner, we strolled through the Gaslamp District, which is chock full of bars and nightclubs if you’re into that sort of nightlife, and headed straight to what else, desserts, or more specifically Extraordinary Desserts!  This place was a-mazing.  There’s all sorts of desserts that you can pick from including a handful of daily specials.  The place is also open until midnight, making for a great spot to hang out post-dinner.  I wish there was a place like this in SF, or maybe there is but I’m not aware of it (if you guys know of any, I’m all ears!).  All the desserts were giganto so I’d suggest sharing and were beautifully decorated with fresh flowers.  Needless to say it was all delicious and we were plenty satisfied.  They also have an extensive drinks list, all kinds of specialty teas and food if you want to have dinner there too.

Our final day was spent in La Jolla.  We started the day off going to the La Jolla Open Aire Farmers’ Market where we sampled in-season fruits.  The market is not too big but there’s still plenty of produce vendors, cooked food stands, and a live band, lending to a fun Sunday activity.  We had brunch at The Cottage, another great brunch spot.  That Sunday happened to be the annual Christmas Parade in La Jolla so we caught part of it walking down Girard Avenue.  There’s definitely a great community down there with families and pets all dressed up in holiday garb getting into the holiday spirit.  We then headed towards the ocean and saw the birds and sea lions at La Jolla Cove, Scripps Park, and the seals at Children’s Pool Beach.  I don’t think I can ever get sick of seeing those seals and sea lions, they are so amusing sometimes and the seals have such cute faces!

Sadly it was time for me to head back home to reality.  There’s still so much that we didn’t get to, like Balboa Park, Old Town, and spending more time in Hillcrest, that I definitely see another trip in the future.  Thanks so much for a wonderful time ladies, and special thanks to G for driving us around, planning activities, and hosting.  It was so great to catch up with you gals.  I hope to see you guys soon in San Francisco!

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TGIF! I’m so excited because I’ll be spending this weekend in La Jolla visiting friends.  I’ve been to this lovely village twice before but this time I’ll be looking forward to just catching up with friends and relaxing.  Most people tend to visit La Jolla as a day trip from San Diego but there’s plenty to do there to make it a nice weekend getaway destination.

Featured Travel Idea: La Jolla


 top: harbor seals, grande colonial*, 7 caves kayaking

middle: panda*, la jolla cove*, la jolla shores surfing

bottom: sea world*, geisel library, mt soledad

La Jolla exudes the typical beach culture you’d expect to find in Southern California.  Sun, surf, and seals! Head to La Jolla Shores and spend your morning trying to catch waves.  If you’re new to the sport, sign up for a class at the Surf Diva, known as the #1 surf school for women.  Or you can try your hand at paddle boarding.  Make sure to stop by their shop and pick up some fun beach attire.  If you’re like me and prefer to stay relatively dry, then go on the original La Jolla Kayak tour and explore La Jolla’s Seven Caves and Underwater Park.  After an active morning, go for a stroll and head to La Jolla Coves for a picturesque view of the coastline.  Then continue on to Children’s Beach for a look at the harbor seals, just don’t get too close!  Head to Prospect Street for lunch and window shopping, stopping along to admire the beautiful architecture of the Grande Colonial Hotel nearby.  For something “off the beaten path”, drive to the University of California, San Diego campus in La Jolla and visit the Geisel Library, named in honor of Theodore Geisel or more famously known as Dr. Seuss.  The campus is beautiful and you’ll be amazed by the unique architecture of the library.  Finally, take a scenic drive up Mount Soledad, past the million dollar homes, and enjoy a panoramic sunset view.

Do you guys have any recommendations for me? I’ll fill you guys in on any fun things I do when I get back!

*pictures taken by me

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