Eating Out(ish) in PA: New Year’s Eve Dinner

This year, the Boy and I celebrated the arrival of 2017 with my Mom’s family in Pennsylvania, and instead of eating out we feasted on an incredible nine-course meal courtesy of my talented Aunt Libby, who did the whole thing without help and without the benefit of a kitchen sink, since her kitchen was currently being renovated. Yep. No sink, nine courses. Although those of you who weren’t present will never be able to track this meal down to relive it in real life, I figured I’d be remiss not to brag about it – I mean, share it – with you.

New Year's Eve Dinner Menus

Note that the menus changed a bit from what was written to actual execution, but who even cares…oh, and shout out to Dad for all the wine pairings! Seriously, why do I even bother with reservations? Continue reading

Eating Out in New York: Zenkichi

We were recently in New York for a whirlwind trip to see my dear friend get married, and despite the crazy schedule, we still managed  – as we always do – to sneak in a good meal (or four…but this particular one was outside of the wedding festivities). The place was a recommendation of the bride-to-be herself, and quite a good one. It’s in Brooklyn, it’s called Zenkichi, and woe be to the one who tries to return from a bathroom trip there without assistance from the staff (I’ll explain that part later).

Zenkichi Menu

The restaurant is located behind an unassuming fence, and the inside is dark, with many winding hallways leading to individual booths enclosed by roll-down screens. It’s cozy and romantic, and gives the feeling that you might be outside at night.

Continue reading

Eating Out in SF: To-Go Dim Sum at Good Mong Kok

As I mentioned, the Boy and I headed up north to celebrate his birthday earlier this summer. We ended up having one afternoon to spend in San Francisco before we flew home, which we mostly spent wandering as it was quite a gorgeous day. True to form, our wandering involved food, because what’s a vacation without it?

San Francisco's Chinatown

We had dallied with the idea of dim sum, but we knew it would probably be tricky given our tight-ish timeline and lack of a reservation (it was a Sunday). However, Yelp soon enlightened me to the existence of something I had never heard of before – to-go dim sum. Continue reading

Playing Lighthouse Keeper: A Night at East Brother

For someone who is wholly stressed out by planning surprises, it seems I do plan quite a lot of them – case in point: This year, I decided to do a “surprise” trip for the Boy’s birthday. Hey, if there’s one thing that makes the stress of a surprise worth it, it’s doing it for someone you love. Now, I say “surprise” because the Boy knew we were going somewhere – I had to get his frequent flyer number, after all – and he know it was somewhere not far away. Eventually, he figured out it was the Bay Area, but not until we got within sight of the East Brother Light Station did he realize that the true surprise was our hotel – which was, in fact, a Victorian-lighthouse-slash-B-&-B located in between the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.

Lighthouse Panorama

Now, we had a great time on the gorgeous little windy island with our wonderful B&B hosts, but I still have a few warnings for you should you choose to undertake this journey yourself – and oh, it is a JOURNEY. Continue reading

The Best Gumbo in New Orleans

Let me preface this post by saying that I am not a gumbo expert. And then, let me also preface it with a quick tale of over-ambition and complete disregard for how long it takes to do something. The quick version is that the Boy and I got an idea into our head to start another blog, one where we would try to find the “best” versions of food and drink in a given area. In other words, an excuse to eat a bunch of stuff. In the planning for this blog, we came up with all sorts of rules – we had to try at least five of something, they couldn’t necessarily be the five most convenient to us (some wiggle room there), etc.

We also, after much back and forth, came up with an elaborate and completely unscientific ratings system of 150 total possible points:

  • Taste (worth 50 points)
  • Value (worth 30 points)
  • Texture (worth 20 points)
  • Creativity (worth 20 points)
  • Presentation (worth 20 points)
  • Convenience (worth 10 points)

To get to these point totals, we would rate each item on a scale of 1-10 and use multipliers, i.e. Taste had a 5x multiplier, Value a 3x multiplier, and so on. Whew. Summary of this story is we realized it was going to take us WAY too long to get enough posts ready to launch this separate blog, so instead any related endeavors would be housed here (foodstuffs) or on the Boy’s blog Boozy Newsie (drinkstuffs).

And without further ado, let’s get to rating the gumbos of New Orleans…noting, of course, that on our trip we did not have time to try every gumbo available, so we may have missed a hidden gem. Continue reading

Eating Out in NOLA: Café du Monde & Morning Call

One guess as to what was number one on my New Orleans bucket list (take a look at our Solvang trip to get a clue)…yep, you guessed it: beignets! Good old fried dough and powdered sugar combined into one gloriously decadent sugar pillow. Or three, which is apparently the standard order in New Orleans. We tried beignets from two places, and I’m here to tell you which was deemed superior and which was, well, good (I mean, fried dough and sugar people, there is no bad here!).

Café du Monde Sign

First up, the famous Café du Monde, which is located just off of Jackson Square in the French Quarter. It can be a bit of a madhouse, but we didn’t have much trouble at the takeout window, where we got three beignets for $2.73. Apparently the coffee is famous too, but neither of us drink coffee. Continue reading

Out & About in NOLA: China Lights

An exception to the many food and drink-related activities we took part  in during our trip to NOLA was the China Lights festival (installation? something), which settled in City Park just before we came to the city. Essentially, it’s a big installation of lanterns and lights in all their different forms – quite literally, there were caterpillars and fish and flowers and you name it.

China Lights Festival

It was installed within the Botanical Garden at City Park, which is a bit of a ways from the French Quarter (we tried and failed to take the bus – the New Orleans bus schedule is a bit of a mystery – and ended up Ubering). We frankly didn’t see much of the garden or the park (it being quite dark), but we did see a lot of color and light. Continue reading

Where We Stayed: Garden District Bed & Breakfast

On the recommendation of the Boy’s brother and his wife (this being their fourth trip to New Orleans, and only our first) we booked the Garden District Bed and Breakfast unresearched and unknown. Luckily, our guides were very knowledgable (as expected), and we ended up thoroughly enjoying our stay there.
 B&B Sitting Room

The Garden District B&B is, unsurprisingly, located in the Garden District, about a 40-minute walk from “downtown” (i.e. the French Quarter). It’s a gorgeous area, all trees and beautiful homes with wrought iron balconies. When we visited, the trees and fences were littered with Mardi Gras beads (including the fence in front of the B&B, which was absolutely dripping with them). It’s also near its own hopping area, Magazine Street, with tons of great shopping and dining. Continue reading

Color and Cocktails: New Orleans

Get prepared for a LOT of posts about New Orleans. We went for a visit with the Boy’s brother and sister-in-law at the end of February, and it was amazing. SO MUCH EATING AND DRINKING. (If you want the real drinking lowdown, check out the Boy’s blog). But before I go off into a maze of posts about the many places we ate and drank and explored, I wanted to give you a bit of an overall look at our trip, along with some random pictures that won’t make it into their own solo posts.

Mardi Gras Beads

We were lucky enough to be there for a beautiful few days at the end of February – it was in the 60s and 70s, and the sun was shining pretty much the whole time. We went after Mardi Gras (cheaper + less crazy  = win) and upon our arrival to the Garden District, where we were staying, we were greeted with trees and fences glistening with Mardi Gras beads. Continue reading

Eating Out in Solvang: Solvang Restaurant

As I mentioned in my overview of our trip to Solvang, the one thing I was determined to experience during the trip was aebleskiver. I knew they were like donuts (yum) and like pancakes (yum) and they seemed to generally be like fluffy goodness. Plus, they’re a Solvang specialty, so how could we not try them?!

Our last day there, we set out in search of said aebleskiver. Of course, this happened to be at Sunday brunch time, so most of the sit-down restaurants that had them on offer were thronged with people and beset with long waits – and then we found Solvang Restaurant.

Aebleskivers

I will be the first to admit I have no idea how Solvang Restaurant is as an actual restaurant. It appears to be something of an institution in the town, and there was a throng of people clamoring to sit down there as well. All that mattered to me? It had an aebleskiver take-out window. Continue reading