I Left My Heart In Seattle

For b‘s vacation before lactation (credit: g), I suggested Seattle. I could not think of a better place for a quick girls getaway. Thankfully, my suggestion was warmly welcomed! I was so so so exited to show them why I loved Seattle so much. And in true kc fashion, I detailed planned our trip, by the hour, in an excel spreadsheet. That’s how I do.

b had a few requests, which were happily obliged:

  • Sushi Kashiba (at sushi bar)
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Hike

We arrived in Seattle late Wed night and tried to make it to Toulouse Petit for a late night snack. Unfortunately, they had already made their last call for food so we walked down the street to Mecca Cafe. We legit demolished their corned beef hash and chicken fried steak. When it’s 1am, you’re super hungry, and you find yourself in Lower Queen Anne, head to Mecca!

After our first pig out of the trip, we headed to Gas Works Park, my favorite spot to see the Seattle skyline, especially at night.

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absolutely gorgeous

By the time we checked into our AirBnB in the Fremont neighborhood, it was almost 3am! We settled in right away and knocked out. The cozy, affordable studio was just perfect for the three of us. I would highly recommend and would definitely stay there again.

We started the next day with coffee at a local coffee shop before heading to the Fremont Troll. Yes, it’s touristy, but it’s just something you have to see!

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selfie inception game strong

After the troll, we stopped by Paseo for some sandwiches. Paseo has always been my top recommendation for anyone vising Seattle. The prawn and scallop sammies were so freakin’ delicious! In the days leading up to the trip, I craved them. I dreamt about them. There might have been some drooling involved. But when I actually got my hands on the sandwiches, I was disappointed. The prawn was overly salty. Almost to the point where I didn’t want to finish it. There was also less meat than I remembered. I thought Paseo was pretty generous before, but this time around, I got more lettuce and sauteed onions than anything else. Hopefully this was just an off day…

To work off our lunch, we rented kayaks and paddled out to Lake Union. I absolutely love water sports so this is one of my favorite activities in Seattle.

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One of b‘s requests was to eat at the sushi bar of Sushi Kashiba. Reservations aren’t offered for the sushi bar so in order to secure a seat, I booked a reservation at 5:00pm, right when the restaurant opens. But being natural laggers and not accounting for the terrible parking sitch at Pike Place, we got there around 5:15pm and the sushi bar was already full. Luckily, we were told that the second seating for the sushi bar would start around 7pm so we had to option of either sitting at a regular table right away or waiting for the sushi bar. Of course we chose the latter.

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I’ve never had omakase before and I’m so glad my first time was at Sushi Kashiba. The fish was so fresh, the selection and progression was perfect for my tastes, the service was outstanding, and to top everything off, this delicious meal + sake was only $120! What a steal!

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aahhhhmazing

The last piece was blue-fin collar, my favorite of the whole meal. Talk about saving the best for last!

We followed up an amazing dinner with an amazing sunset down at the waterfront.

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The next day, we started with a quick visit to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s been 7 years or so since I last visited and there must have been some renovations because I remember the lookout point very differently.

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We then proceeded to the highlight of our trip, an 8 mile hike, or in this case, more like strategic walking on jagged rocks.

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If it wasn’t for the rocks, I would classify the hike as moderate

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The view was definitely worth it. All the pain, the exhaustion, the hunger, the thirst. EVERYTHING. Our only regret was not starting sooner so we could play in the water.

By the time we started heading back to the trailhead, it was already late. We hauled ass so we could make it home in time to get ready for a night out. Our poor feet.

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The promoter that g was talking to told us that we had to be at the club by 11pm, otherwise, there would be a really long wait. Well, we got there at 10:50pm (which btw we’ve probably never done, like ever) and it was COMPLETELY EMPTY. Not one single soul. So we just took a few shots and went to the lounge next door to drink some more.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It was so much more fun! One of the funnest nights I’ve had in a long while. Best part of the night? Witnessing a former male stripper twerk in a handstand. WOW.

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my loves

The next day, we ended the trip with a visit to Chihuly Glass and Garden, as b requested. And of course, we couldn’t leave without indulging in oysters!

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10 years ago, Seattle was just this mysterious place that was known to be rainy and depressing and the only significance it had was that he lived there. Seattle now has my heart for completely different reasons than it initially did, and I have all the wonderful memories from my numerous visits in the past 10 years to thank. From living in a treehouse to kayaking Lake Union to taking in the beauty of Mt. Rainier as I hit mile 10 of my first marathon, Seattle will always have a special place in my heart.

Foodcation 2012: R&R

…continued from the 3rd leg of Foodcation 2012

The last destination of Foodcation 2012 was Mont Tremblant, a beautiful mountain resort about an hour north of Montreal. We came here for some R&R… well, our form of R&R anyway.

Mont Tremblant offers a variety of summer and winter activities for adults and kids. We really had trouble narrowing down the list, but we ended up picking two: Via Ferrata and Go Kart!

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I would describe via ferrata as… assisted rock climbing. A steel cable, in which you hook yourself onto, runs throughout the entire route. There are also iron bars, steps, ladders and bridges that aid in your ascent, or descent. No rock climbing experience is necessary, but I would suggest that one be in good physical condition.

There are three options available at Mont Tremblant:

1. The Excursion – 500 meters, approx 3 hours including 20 minute walk back to departure point
2. The Excursion (family) – same length and time as above, but allows for younger children
3. The Grande Virée – 1000 meters, approx 5 hours including 40 minute walk back to departure point

We went with the Grande Virée!

The tour started with a short walk from the activity center to our first obstacle (below). After a brief introduction of via ferrata and explanation of the basics, we climbed up and crossed the wooden plank bridge.

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On the other side of the bridge, we were given additional instructions and had an opportunity to get more comfortable with hooking and unhooking our carabiners.

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Then we were pretty much on our own … eeeekkkk!!

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My legs felt kind of wobbly after the climb, which made the hike back to the activity center a little difficult. I slipped and fell a couple of times!

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We did it!!!!!

Via ferrata at Mont Tremblant was a really cool activity. It was fun AND safe! Sure, I got nervous a few times, but I’m just a wuss 😉 The one time I did seriously panic was when I was trying to climb up a rock wall and my bungee lanyards got twisted up with an iron bar. This prevented me from hooking my carabiner onto the next iron bar and I was sort of stuck in limbo. I spent so much energy trying to sort everything out that I was too exhausted to climb up any further. Luckily, a man in the tour group was able to help me to the top of that wall.

Speaking of my tour group, there were 4 couples (including us) and we were definitely the youngest! All were French-Canadian and spoke French most of the time (even our tour guide) except when speaking to us. At the beginning of the tour, our guide apologized in advance for her English. You could definitely tell that English was her second language, but I didn’t have any problems understanding her.

A tip: Rock climbing gloves aren’t listed on the “What to Wear” list, but I definitely recommend them or whatever gloves that will protect your hands without compromising on grip.

The next day, we went go karting!

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I ain’t gonna lie. This activity was more for Henry. I mean, racing is fun and all, but I’m definitely NOT a speed demon. Quite frankly, I was terrified of fish tailing out of control or crashing or some combination of the two.

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We paid for 2 sessions and I think it was about 5/6 laps per session. But I was so slow, I had 1 less each time. 😦 I was very timid and hesitant during the first session so it was no surprise that I finished last. Well.. ok, so I still finished last in the 2nd session, but I improved my fastest lap by almost 30 seconds!

A tip: Layer up! Even when sunny, it could get cold since it’s outside.

Since go karting didn’t take up that much time, we had the rest of the day to explore Mont Tremblant.

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Fun activities right outside our balcony

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Such a cute mountain town

We took the gondola up…

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… and hiked to the panoramic lookout. Taking the panorama picture below was actually pretty painful because it was EXTREMELY WINDY AND COLD at the top of the lookout. I could barely breathe. After a quick picture, we continued hiking until we reached the next lookout point.

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We didn’t hike for too long since during the summer the gondola closes around 5PM so we made sure we got back in time for a ride down. It was still bright outside and I didn’t want to end the day so I convinced Henry to squeeze in one more activity: Skyline Luge!

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I first noticed the Skyline Luge the day we arrived; the luge course was right outside our balcony. I became more interested when we passed by on the way to the gondola. It looked like so much fun! Henry, on the other hand, wasn’t really interested because he thought it looked too childish. But after a bit of whining from yours truly, he caved and you know what… he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s so glad he did!!!!

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Taking the lift to the beginning of the course

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Luges

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Oh, hellooooo

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Luge course

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Skyline Luge’s tagline is spot on: Once is NEVER enough!

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The next day, we set out for a SEVEN hour drive back to Buffalo. We didn’t leave as early as we should have so we barely made our flight. I was so so so stressed out!!! Note to self: no more long ass drives!

Foodcation 2012 was wonderful. All the food we consumed was delicious, but I especially enjoyed our time outdoors at Mont Tremblant. Instead of Foodcation 2013, I’m considering a trip to Banff or going back to Mt. Rainier. Any tips or hiking trail recommendations for Banff are appreciated! 🙂

Foodcation 2012: Crabby

Even before the start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, I had planned to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Obviously, when the Kings won the Cup, this trip meant a hell of a lot more. And though the presentation cup wasn’t on display while I was there (since it was still traveling with the Kings organization), it was nice to see the case dedicated to the 2012 Champs and to relive the Kings 2012 playoff run in the Hartland Molson Theatre (aka Stanley Cup theater). More on this later…

Our trip began with a weekend in Washington DC. We were fortunate enough to have a friend house us and take us around. We arrived late Friday afternoon and after settling in a bit, Henry and I went to dinner at Blue Duck Tavern while our host and his brother went to a ballgame. They totally missed out on an AMAZING meal.

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UntitledOpen kitchen on the way to the fanciest bathrooms (inside Park Hyatt Hotel)

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Wood Oven Roasted Bone Marrow, Creamed Corn
Muscovy Duck Breast, 12 Hour Roasted Suckling Pig
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Goat’s Milk Caramel

The bone marrow with truffle shavings and roasted garlic was TO DIE for. BEST. EVER!!! I also LOVED the creamed corn side. The jalapeno added a refreshing aspect to the dish without the heat (surprisingly). I thought the presentation of our sweet corn ice cream dessert was so so so cute. Our waitress was kind enough to give us the goat’s milk caramel on the house so our dessert became caramel corn ice cream! 😀

After devouring our meal, we decided to take a post-dinner walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

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Apparently, the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial had been out of commission for a couple of years due to renovations and was just reopened 2 weeks before our trip! Woooooooo!

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There’s just something about seeing these famous monuments and memorials at night… so so beautiful!

While we were sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, our friend CN called us up. He was back from the ballgame and wanted to take us to the infamous Ben’s Chili Bowl. We’re not ones to turn down food and besides, we just walked off our dinner 😉

At first we took the car, but parking in DC is seriously impossible so we dropped off the car and took the Metro.

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Luckily, the line at Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1:30AM wasn’t too long since we beat the bar crowd. The four of us shared 6 Chili Half-Smokes and Chili Fries.

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There’s no denying that the chili dogs were deeeeeelish, but the price for one is a little ridiculous… $5.70 for one chili dog!!! whattttttt the whattttttttt??????????!!!!!!!! Still… I would recommend visiting this landmark if you’re in DC and you’ve never been.

The next day, our friends led us on a bike tour of DC.

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We used the Capital Bikeshare system, which for those familiar with BIXI is pretty much the same thing. For those not familiar, here is a brief guide for travelers:

* Membership fees: 24 hr = $7, 3-day = $15
* For 24 hr or 3-day memberships, a security deposit of $101 per bike will be held on the card you used for the rental. 2 bike maximum on 1 card.
* To complete rental, an unlocking code can be viewed or printed. Pick a bike and enter the code.
* The first 30 minutes is included with each bike that is rented. Extra time with the same bike is at an additional charge (see website for rate table). In other words, for the most affordable experience, consult the station map and plan accordingly. No matter where you want to go, I assure you, there will be a station on the way. If your destination is clearly more than a 30 minute bike ride away (and you really want to use Capital Bikeshare), just check in the bike at a station along the way and rent out a new bike.
* Downsides include 1) not having an empty bike dock available to return a bike and 2) not having bikes available for rent. The fix for both is to find another station – for returns, if you come across a full station, you can add 15 minutes free to your rental to avoid additional charges.

Despite the downsides above, I think these bike systems (Capital Bikeshare, BIXI) are a great alternative to walking, driving or public transportation. You get to exercise, sight see and have fun, all at the same time!

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We rode the bikes along the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial.

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Another view of the Washington Monument

We were supposed to stop at Maine Avenue Fish Market to snack on some crabs, but CN wanted to show us Washington Nationals Park first. The day started out bright and sunny, but as we rode towards the ballpark, I noticed dark clouds and thought to myself, geez, that can’t be good. And it wasn’t…

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… we were caught in a crazy storm!!!

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People running for their lives!!

Luckily, the high winds and rain started right after we checked in our bikes and ran across the street to take cover.

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The storm passed relatively quickly, but it held us back enough so that we weren’t able to get crabs. Our friends had another ballgame to go to and we had dinner reservations at Rasika, a swanky Indian Restaurant.

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I’ve always tried to steer away from fancy schmancy Asian restaurants. I’m spoiled because I live in an area where I have access to yummy Asian food ON THE CHEAP! So why would I want to pay a 100% mark-up for essentially the same thing just dressed up? Well, with almost 1000 reviews on Yelp confirming Rasika as the best Indian restaurant in DC, of course I had to try. And honestly, I didn’t know it was upscale until I arrived. Sure, the prices listed online seemed a bit high, but weren’t to the point of being ridiculous (FYI, $$$ on Yelp).

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We ordered the dishes that our waitress highly recommended and added an appetizer because we wanted some lamb. For starters, we had two barbequed items.

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Mango Shrimp – fresh mango / cashew nut / ginger / coriander / mint chutney

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Seekh Kebab – minced lamb / garam masala / mint chutney

The shrimp was good, but at $12 for 4 pieces, not good enough. Our waitress warned that the minced lamb was really spicy, but when I took a bite, it wasn’t too spicy at all. I actually liked the amount of heat and it had good flavor.

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Palak Chaat – crispy baby spinach / sweet yogurt / tamarind / date chutney

This baby right here is Rasika’s signature dish. As I browsed through reviews on Yelp, I noticed that almost every review mentioned the Palak Chaat. Even after reading these reviews, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, how could fried spinach be that good? But man, it was. It really was. The Palak Chaat was unlike anything I’ve ever had. Crispy, light, a mixture of sweet and spice. So simple and delicious!

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Black Cod – fresh dill / honey / star anise / red wine vinegar

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Chicken Makhani – broiled chicken / tomato / fenugreek

The best dish of the night came next: black cod. OMG, I DIE. It was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH AMAZING. The only other experience I’ve had with fish that matched this was when I tasted Roy’s Misoyaki Butterfish (Black Cod) for the first time (subsequent experiences have been sub-par).

One of my favorite Indian dishes is butter chicken and Rasika’s Chicken Makhani was pretty damn good. The chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce had a nice balance of tomato, butter and cream. I only wish the dish had more heat.

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Date & Toffee Pudding

I love sticky toffee pudding, but many restaurants make it way too sweet. This is usually masked by serving it with ice cream. Rasika’s sticky toffee pudding was moist and not too sweet. Just… perfection.

As with the night before, we took a walk after dinner. This time we made our way to the opposite side of the National Mall, the Capitol.

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To get home, we were going to walk back to the Metro stop by the restaurant, but Henry was struggling with a sore calf. The night before we flew to DC, Henry thought it would be a good idea to run a couple of miles, ya know, so that he wouldn’t feel as bad for all the food we would be consuming on our trip. The problem was, Henry hadn’t run in a very long time. So yea, instead of walking back to the Metro, we biked back. Good thing for Capital Bikeshare! 😀

Our last full day in DC was museum day. I’ve been to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, USS Midway in SD and Intrepid Air & Space Museum in NYC. So, of course I had to visit the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum while I was in DC. For those on a budget, the Smithsonian Museums are great because they’re FREE! Sure, the Air & Space Museum was dated and didn’t have the “cool” aircraft that the other museums have, but I still enjoyed the few hours that I spent there.

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Since we had a few hours to kill before dinner, we went to get crabs with CN. The crabs usually take some time to prepare so instead of just waiting around, we stood in line for oysters thinking that we would snack on them while we waited for the crabs to cook. Well, we were STILL in line when the crabs were ready and ended up waiting an additional 20 minutes for the oysters. There was only one shucker and the people ahead of us probably ordered 10 dozen oysters combined!

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Appetizers 😉

After indulging in a seafood feast, we reluctantly cleaned up and headed to dinner. I had high expectations for our last dinner in DC. Not only because we’ve had delicious meals the nights before, but because this was the only dinner CN could make and we wanted to treat him out for being such a great host.

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Amuse Bouche, Eggplant w/ Lamb Shank
Pappardelle w/ Smoked Duck Breast, Raviolini w/ Braised Veal Shoulder

Unfortunately, dinner at Siroc turned out to be one of the worst in recent memory. Hopefully this was just an off night because I don’t see how Siroc is deserving of a 4 star rating on Yelp. Even though the restaurant was not busy, service was lacking and the food was mediocre at best. My dish, the raviolini, seemed to be the only one that turned out as the menu described. There was definitely something wrong with the eggplant w/ lamb shank and we all think it was the cheese; it tasted and smelled rotten! At first I thought, perhaps this is a type of cheese that I’m not familiar with, but when I looked at the menu again, I was surprised to see, “Pecorino Romano”. I’ve cooked with pecorino romano! The pappardelle was overloaded with mushrooms and had very little duck. I don’t understand how this pasta with mushrooms and duck bits cost $20 while the fabulous Muscovy Duck Breast at Blue Duck Tavern cost $28!

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We had a great weekend in DC with great company. I wish we could have stayed longer!

The following day was a travel day. We took the subway to Union Station and caught the MARC train to BWI Airport (Baltimore). All this to save money because flights from BWI to BUF (Buffalo) were much cheaper 🙂 The ride on the MARC took about 40 minutes.

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From BWI, we flew to BUF and then drove to our next destination, Toronto 😀

… to be continued.

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DC Eats (+our verdict):
Blue Duck Tavern, 4.5/5
Rasika, 4.5/5
Ben’s Chili Bowl, 3/5
Siroc, 1.5/5
Captain White’s Seafood City, 4/5

Save Me, San Francisco

Just like NYC, I never intended to visit SF every year, but things just worked out that way. Last Thursday, Henry and I packed some clothes and snacks and made the 6.5 hour drive up north. We spent the weekend in the city by the bay (+ side trip to Napa, OF COURSE) with a couple of good friends.

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GOOD FRIENDS + GOOD FOOD = GOOD TIMES 🙂

In SF, we stayed at our usual spot: Coventry Motor Inn. Upon checking in, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the room was completely renovated (new carpet, new memory foam beds, tv, etc)! And the best part was the price remained the same as before! I LOVE this place for being budget friendly, having FREE parking, and for its great location.

Our first night was spent eating dinner at Leopold’s and getting drinks at Horseshoe Tavern. Not only was the food at Leopold’s delicious, the co-owner Albert is totally awesome! I spoke to him briefly on the phone and since we were staying close by, he graciously offered to put my name on the list and provided an approximate time a table would be ready. Doing just that would have been good enough for me, but after dinner, Albert thanked us personally for dining at his restaurant and even remembered my name!

We tried to wake up early on Friday to avoid waiting a long time for brunch at Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. Unfortunately, I suck at waking up early when I don’t have work so we got in line at about 10:30AM and waited a little more than 1.5 hours for a table. BRUTAL. By the time we were seated, we were starving, thus …

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yea buddyyyy 😀

Yes, the food was worth the wait.

After stuffing our face, we tried to fight off food coma by walking around Union Square. We then took the F train to Justin Herman Plaza for some urban zip lining!

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The only downside is that you pay $29 for an experience that lasts less than a minute. It’s pricey, but it’s a cool thing to do if you’ve never zip lined before. It runs only in the summer and will shut down by the end of September. Hurry!!

After zip lining, we slowed things a bit by taking a leisurely hike at Land’s End.

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The next day, we headed up to Napa for some wine tasting. I don’t like wine so that made me the designated driver and photographer.

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Domaine Chandon

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Paradigm

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Alpha Omega

And that was that. Another great trip up north.

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SF Eats & Activities (+our verdict):
Leopold’s, 4.5/5
Dottie’s, 4/5
Zip Trek, 3/5
Philz Coffee, 5/5
Ferry Building, 4/5

Napa Wineries (+Henry’s verdict):
Domaine Chandon, 3/5
Paradigm, 4/5
Rubicon, 4/5
Alpha Omega, 1/5

I eat: The Purple Pig

I looked at the Purple Pig’s menu multiple times when planning Foodcation 2010, but I didn’t get the “OMG, I have to eat here” feeling so the restaurant never made it onto our itinerary.

Fast forward to our last night in Chicago.

We didn’t have time to eat before our fireworks cruise so by the time it ended (around 10:30PM), we were starving. Using our fabulous new phones (HTC Evo), we searched for the closest place to eat. Well, what do ya know. The first restaurant listed was the Purple Pig. The food gods must have wanted us to eat here.

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The Purple Pig, whose tag line is “Cheese, Swine and Wine”, is located on Mag Mile, two blocks north of the Michigan Ave. bridge. The Mediterranean inspired dishes are served tapas style so we ordered 5 + dessert.

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(1) Shrimp & Clams with Rosamarina
(2) Roasted Bone Marrow with Herbs
(3) Milk Braised Pork Shoulder with Mashed Potatoes
(4) Scallop Spiedini with Chickpea Aioli
(5) Jamon Serrano with Duck Egg, Asparagus, Grilled Bread

I can’t really say one dish was my favorite; they were all so delicious!!!! The shrimp and clams were so light and refreshing, the bone marrow was rich and decadent, the pork shoulder and scallops were perfectly tender and oh my gosh, you all know how much I LOVE runny eggs!

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(6) Butterscotch Bodino

What a great ending to a fantastic meal! The butterscotch pudding was thick, smooth and had just the right amount of sweetness. YUM!!

Fate works in funny ways. I’m really glad it led us to the Purple Pig.

Verdict: 5/5
The Purple Pig
500 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60611

Foodcation 2010: Second City

It’s been three months since we returned from Foodcation 2010 and I’m finally getting around to posting about our last stop: Chicago. That’s some serious backlog! (Read about NYC and Philly)

We only had one reason to go to Chicago and that was Alinea. So imagine my disappointment about being put on a 20+ person wait list. We had booked all of our travel/lodging months beforehand and I thought calling one month before to make a reservation at Alinea would be enough, but it wasn’t; Alinea begins taking reservations two months prior to the month you plan to dine. For example, if you want to dine on August 24th, you better start calling on June 1st! More about Alinea in another post.

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We booked a room at Allerton, which is located on Mag Mile. To me, the location was the best aspect of the hotel. I love how lively and vibrant Mag Mile is! It reminds me a lot of NYC and you all know how much I LOVE NYC! 🙂

As with NYC and Philly, the public transportation in Chicago is very efficient. We purchased a 3-day pass (available at CVS) for $14 each, which we used to go to Hot Doug’s, of course.

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After about 50 minutes on public transit and another 50 minutes waiting in line, we were finally standing in front of Doug, himself, ordering:

– 2 “Foie Gras and Sauternes Duck Sausage with Truffle Aioli, Foie Gras Mousse and Fleur de Sel”
– 1 “Red Wine and Demi-Glace Venison Sausage with Fig Goat’s Butter and Raclette Cheese”
– 1 “Saucisson Alsacienne: Bacon Sausage with Creme Fraiche, Caramelized Onions and Tomme de Savoie Cheese”
– order of DUCK FAT FRIES

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One word: AMAZING.

To burn off the 3000+ calories we consumed at Hot Doug’s, we walked around the city.

First up on our walking tour was Millennium Park. We were in town for “Chopin in the Park”, a bi-centennial birthday celebration of Poland’s greatest composer, Frédéric Chopin. Perfect timing! Chicago is Warsaw’s sister city, which is why it was part of the celebration. We stopped to listen to a little boy play Waltz in D Flat Major, Op. 64, No. 1 (aka Minute Waltz) and Waltz in C Sharp Minor, Op. 64, No. 2. I recognized both pieces instantly – anyone who started playing piano at 4 years old and practiced 3 hours a day would.

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After Millennium Park, we made our way to Buckingham Fountain (cue: love and marriage, love and marriage :)) …

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… and ended our walking tour at Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower), where my camera battery ran out after my first shot inside! BURN. Thank goodness for back-up point and shoot!

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We also used our metro passes to visit the United Center, home of the Chicago Bulls and the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions, the Chicago Blackhawks.

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While Chicago is certainly beautiful during the day, it is even more so at night. Chicago has the most breathtaking skyline I’ve seen so far. Even better than NYC. YES, I said it!

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The above is my best attempt at a panorama. Taking pictures at night without a tripod is hard enough, but on a moving boat? Forget about it 😦 Anyway, we were on a boat for a fireworks cruise. During the summer (~Memorial Day through Labor Day), there is a fireworks show every Wednesday and Saturday night at Navy Pier. Sure, you can experience the fireworks show for free at Navy Pier, but with a cruise, you can sit back, relax and soak in some history, all while enjoying a breathtaking view of Chicago. At ~$30/pp, Lake/River boat tours may seem like a tourist traps, but I highly recommend them!

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Trivia time!

In what direction does the Chicago River flow?
a) West to East, towards Lake Michigan
b) East to West, away from Lake Michigan
c) Both directions

Well, according to the research of the Civil and Environmental Engineering department at the University of Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, the answer is c) both since it is believed the surface flows away from Lake Michigan while deep, deep below, the flow is in the opposite direction because of a density current. Anyway, the original flow of the river was West to East, towards Lake Michigan, but engineers reversed the river flow in the 1900s due to concerns regarding the pollution of the city’s water source.

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Between the Chicago River and Lake Michigan lies the Chicago Harbor/River Lock. This device allows boats to easily transition from the lower water level of the river to the higher water level of the lake. That’s right! I got my learn on 😀

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Ok so, you can’t go to Chicago and not have a deep dish pizza, right?! Right. Since I’ve never had deep dish pizza before, we went to Giordano’s for lunch, waited about an hour for a table, and guess what? After one bite, I decided: I HATE DEEP DISH PIZZA! It’s really an abomination to the pizza I grew up with and love. The crust in the middle of the pizza was mushy, there was too much sauce that wasn’t seasoned properly and worst of all, you can’t eat this kind of pizza with your hands. Yea, I know I’m being Captain Obvious with my last point, but seriously, how awful is that?! There’s a time and place to be prim and proper and eating a pizza is not one of those times.

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Well, this trip was certainly different than our past trips since it was heavily based around food. And while I loved this food tour of ours, I did find myself missing the outdoor activities. For our next annual trip, I’m going to try to have more of a balance between food and the outdoors. Life is all about balance 🙂

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Chicago Eats (+our verdict):
Hot Doug’s, 5/5
Giordano’s, 2.5/5
Blue 13, 3/5