Mother’s Day Surprise

I surprised my mom and went to visit her in Florida for three days.

We had a ball.

Lunch at Rosemary in Sarasota.

Then my mom took me to her favorite museum in Sarasota.

Marietta Museum of Art & Whimsy

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Selby Botanical Gardens and a Chagall exhibit

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DRUM CIRCLE

SUSHI

A Mother’ Day Breakfast at BLU Island Bistro with my mom’s fav chef Alan fit for a Queen and her Mimosa

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An unusual Benedict with tomato and mozzarella and basil hollandaise drizzled on it.IMG_0890

3 different sausages and cheese for the Princess…IMG_0891

And a dog with an armadillo haircut…

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A Daytrip home to Sanibel…

Mandatory plate of oysters from Sanibel Grill

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Making sure the bookstores are stocked with Peri’s Sanibel Island Adventure….love seeing that on the shelf at McIntosh Books & Paper on Palm Ridge Road,

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AND the Island Cow, Bailey’s, and Amy’s Something Special…

A beachwalk with Shelley, a visit with Joyce and then the journey back North…

Chef Tony’s Suncoast Cafe at the Venice Airport for breakfast…

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Omelet with cheese, bacon, spinach, tomatoes and secret spices…

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Mom gets a Cuban burrito….

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Mom tries to dig me up a shark tooth….

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Are we in Ireland? Nope…Venice Beach, Florida…

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Mani-Pedi for summer…

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Mom takes me to her yoga class where they are more flexible than in mine and talk about food through the entire class….

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We shop. I meet some Venetian friends, we eat seafood at Captain Eddie’s and it is sadly time to head back North.

Thanks for the great weekend, Mom! I love you!!!

COOK 90 continues…

Here are some of the foods I ate during the Cook 90…3 homemade meals a day for 30 days….and then I just kept cooking….AND every meal is WHOLE 30 healthy!

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Spinach Omelet with kielbasa, red and green sauces on top

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Chicken skin crisped w. a touch of Rosemary and sea salt

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Clementines and blackberries

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Bed of avocado w. chix salad & clementines

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Eggplant w. tomato sauce, rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme with melted Parmesan on top

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Egg frittata w. green onions, kielbasa, Dijon and garlic

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Spiralized zucchini sauteed in butter and olive oil with sautéed shrimp in Prudhomme seafood spice

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Spiralized zucchini sauteed in butter and olive oil with water chestnuts, green onions, sautéed shrimp in Prudhomme seafood spice

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Sweet potato pancakes

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Sweet potato pancake on a bed of sautéed onions, garlic and mushrooms w. fried egg on top

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Butter lettuce, avocado, tomatoes, roasted chicken, mayo and egg salad

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Lettuce wraps w. mayo, avocado, roasted chicken

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Refrigerator salad consisting of: blueberries, strawberries, hard-boiled egg, chicken, lettuce, almonds, onions and olives

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Acai bowl consisting of: frozen berry medley, acai packet, avocado, FAG yogurt blended and topped with coconut flakes, bananas, strawberries, blueberries & almonds

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Another day I added kiwi slices and pecans and removed the berries for topping…

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Zucchini pancake consisting of: eggs, Dijon mustard, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Parmesan Cheese, almond flour and butter

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Zucchini pancake consisting of: eggs, Dijon mustard, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Parm Cheese, almond flour with cashew butter spread on top

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Half avocado w. soft-boiled egg in the center

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Zucchini pancake consisting of: eggs, Dijon mustard, Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Parm Cheese, almond flour, butter with soft-boiled egg on top

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Creamy cauliflower dip

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Tzatziki sauce

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A bed of sautéed onions, garlic and mushrooms w. shrimp on top

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A bed of sautéed onions, garlic and mushrooms w. shrimp on top and let me try the Tzatziki sauce on top of it!!!

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Red Snapper cooked in Thai spices

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Eggplant w. tomato sauce, rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme with olives and capers

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Thai chicken soup

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Zucchini lasagna

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Chicken stir-fry

 

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

 

 

A Birthday Filled with Indulgences

A BIRTHDAY INDULGENCE

 

Sidewinders

Mexican Latte- espresso, chocolate, cayenne & cinnamon

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Brugger’s Bagels

Everything bagel with cream cheese

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Skyline chili

4-way & a cheese coney

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Gaslight cookies

Chocolate chip cookie

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Sixteen Bricks bread

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Toast w. butter

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LeVain’s Cookies

Dark chocolate with chips

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Dewey’s Pizza

Pepperoni & onion

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Graeter’s

Banana split w. Mocha chip & Cookie Dough ice cream, bittersweet chocolate, butterscotch, whipped cream on top

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Next day….food hangover….I don’t think I will do that much cheating in one day again or at least not on my birthday!

 

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

MOM to CINCY and VEGAS

My mom was turning 75 years old and when asked what she wanted to do to celebrate she replied that she wanted to go to Las Vegas once before she died.

She is a gambler, but not in a self-destructive way. But truth be told, she didn’t gamble much at all. What she and I did do a lot was our favorite pastime. We ate! We went to Las Vegas to see it, experience it, and eat all the good food.

However, she flew to CIncy spent a few days here with me before we ventured out West! Here’s what we did in a flash!

Merry-Go-Round, Exercising with Dulce Kissing Her, ate at Mexicana in KY and at Muzante on Madison Road and Pho Lang Thang (not photographed below).

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Then it was time for the Birthday Bash to begin…

 

I have a very dear, old (not literally old) friend from my UMaine days that I lost touch with and reconnected with him and he is a chef in Phoenix so I wrote to him to get suggestions and then my mom chose what appealed to her.

 

First day, first meal…Lotus of Siam is touted as one of the best Thai restaurants in the US!

I wish we had tried what Brad had told us to try, because what we ate was good, but we were disappointed.

Here’s what we ate:

THUM KA NOON [Pounded & Shredded Young Jack Fruit]

This local dish from the north is unique to the northern part of North Thailand. Made of shredded young jack fruit, ground pork, tomatoes, northern Thai spices and seasoning.

NAM PRIK ONG [Red Chili Dip]

One of the least spiciest of all northern chili dips. A combination of ground pork, tomatoes, dried spices (similar to spaghetti meat sauce). Also eaten with sticky rice and fresh vegetables with fried pork skins.

I wouldn’t let my mom order the Pad Thai and wanted something out of the box and that is where we went wrong to start!

 

That evening, we ate a meal at Bardot Brasserie in Aria that literally brought my mother to tears… it was so divine. She had not shed a tear over food since one evening at Le Bernardin when visiting me in New York over one of his dishes. It has been awhile so I don’t remember which one it was, but it was one of the following.

HAMACHI

Flash Marinated Hamachi; Young Radishes and Amaranth Crisp, Yuzu Vinaigrette

TUNA

Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio; Iberico Ham “Chutney,” Sea Beans, Lemon-Extra Virgin Olive Oil

But I bet my mom remembers…..

That night at Bardot Brasserie the meal that brought my mom to tears many years later was the….

KING CRAB CRÊPE- buckwheat crepe, black trumpet mushrooms, sunny-side egg, normandy cider beurre blanc

 

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LOBSTER MUSHROOM “THERMIDOR” – pomme puree, royal trumpet mushrooms, bloomsdale spinach, sauce béarnaise

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The waitress was quite pushy, which we felt put a damper on a wonderful meal. We aren’t big eaters. Well, my mother isn’t so an app and an entrée were perfect. It still was a nice sized check, because my mom had a cocktail as well, but the waitress kept saying are you ready to order more and was quite snotty about it. Very unappealing. You are a French brasserie. In Paris, two people would have come in and ordered two cappuchinos and an ashtray and occupied your table for hours and left a 10% tip. She should have been grateful. My mom left 20%, but we talked about her leaving less, and took the high road.

TUES.

The following morning we started at Bouchon Bakery with cappuchinos, croissants and Pain au chocolat for me and a Monkey bread for my mother. I had never tasted monkey bread. It was good.

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Then we picked up the rental car and went to see the Hoover Dam.

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We drove into Arizona so I did knock another state off my list, but I would like to go back and explore that state. Seeing the Grand Canyon out of a plane window at the age of 12 is awesome, but I would like to see it more fully as an adult.

On our way back, we stopped at a place that was recommended to me called FAT CHOY.

We ordered the foods they are most known for and that were seen on Triple D- Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

We literally could not decide which bao we liked better. They both were good.

Pork Belly Bao-pickled mustard greens, cilantro, crusted pickle and pork belly

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Peking Duck Bao- duck with cucumber, scallion, hoisin sauce

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This last entrée below was our least favorite.

Short Rib Grilled Cheese-onion jam, short rib, Provolone and Cheddar cheeses, tomato dip

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The server who could not have been nicer knew we were in Vegas for my mother’s 75th so she brought her a piece of red velvet with a candle in it.

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That restaurant is tucked into a casino off the beaten path and is worth the drive. It is a fun little place and the food is good. The hospitality is the whipped cream and cherry on top!

After lunch, we went to the NEON Museum for an interesting and fun tour. A definite must see!!!

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Then we went to the MOB Museum. That was fun as well, but not as necessary as NEON, but fun for me, since I lived in Manhattan in Little Italy. One of my cross-streets was Mulberry Street, which was photographed and viewed a few times in the museum.

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Sharply contrasted to our lunch, we went to Rivea at the Delano. My chef friend Brad had arranged for his friend the manager of that place to come talk with my mother. He was a lovely Frenchman. Very kind. Attractive. Out of all the places we ate, everyone brought my mom a little something for her birthday. The ONE and ONLY place we had a connection…he did nothing. I thought that was rather odd. But as the French say, “C’est la vie!”

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He did however, recommend some wonderful dishes. The pictures are a bit dark and don’t do the dishes justice.

We shared a sea bass that was marinated in

orange, lemon, grapefruit, olive oil and sea salt.

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Then we shared the Roasted duck breast with turnips, nougat, bigarade sauce. The sauce has an orange flavor to it.

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Tall bread sticks and a room/seat with a view…..

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Everything was delicious.

For dessert, I ordered the Tiramisu, which was good.

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Glad we went. I loved the sea bass dish. It was fun to meet the manager and speak with him, but I wouldn’t go back. I would go back to Bardot Brasserie and hope for another server.

After dinner, we went to a show called Las Vegas Show, which was a fun show that was a compilation of old time Vegas shows. So, there was a Sinatra, Dean and Sammy Davis Jr. skit, a Siegfried & Roy skit, a Vegas show girls skit, and so much more. It is the only show of that kind left in Vegas. It is fun to take a step back into old Vegas.

The following morning was my mother’s true birthday! I had heard there was a Mexican restaurant there that was really good. I had no idea it shared a common wall with a strip joint. So, we weren’t finding it at first because we kept saying…”Well, it can’t be here! THIS is a strip club! To which, her smart-ass daughter said, “If it were men striping we would forego the breakfast and do that for your 75th!”

We finally found it, the place was kinda dark and opened 24-hours a day. Apparently, you watch the striping and go next door for an order of nachos, watch more striping coming back for an order of enchiladas or flan. Strange place. The bartender was the waitress at that hour and she couldn’t have been nicer. Dr. Oz was on a very large television suggesting a morning wake-up regime, which the rotating the shoulders front and back every morning has become my daily ritual. Really helps loosen the shoulders and the neck. I highly recommend it.

I told the gal it was my mom’s 75th. I told my mom the connoisseur of Mexican food and the birthday gal to order, which was pretty much the standard on this trip. Her trip, her birthday…she orders. It’s a foodies dream come true! The wiatress placed a very large sombrero on my mom’s head and we ate the following. Everything was good. Not stellar but good. Coffee sucked the big one, but everything else was good, but then again my first cup of coffee was from Bouchon Bakery. Need I say more!

EL DORADO CANTINA

Chips & Salsa – Gluten Free & Vegan
House corn tortilla chips served with roasted tomato red salsa, roasted tomatillo green salsa & spicy habanero salsa upon request.

Huevos Divorciados – Gluten Free
Two fried eggs over fried corn tortillas with fresh Hass avocados & your choice of refried or black beans, topped with queso fresco & roasted green and red salsa.

Chilaquiles – Gluten Free
Fried egg & sliced carne asada over fried corn tortillas with your choice of refried or black beans, topped with queso fresco, diced onions, sour cream & green or red tomatillo sauce.

I followed the gluten-free part of the diet. I bombed out on the no corn and every other part of the diet, but my mom’s birthday and this is a diet free week.

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After breakfast we went to the infamous Fremont Street and we ziplined.

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My 75 year-old mom ziplining!!!

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We went to a Container Park.

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Then we went in the ferris wheel thingy called HIGH ROLLER.

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I accidentally got us a ticket with a free full bar. Look at the smile on the birthday girl with the other birthday girl in the car.

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That evening we went to FLEUR- a Chef HUBERT KELLER restaurant. We did “Taste From Around The World- A selection of Chef’s favorite items from around the world”

-USA-Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

ricotta pancake, rhubarb and strawberry ice cream, strawberry sauce

-FRANCE- tarte flambée

onion, bacon, shaved asparagus, truffle, crème fraiche

-KOREA-pig wings

pig wings, sweet and spicy Koream bbq sauce, green onion, toasted sesame seed

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We could have ordered the $5000 hamburger. No mistake that was not only one extra zero, but two. This is what you eat when you win big.

  • FLEUR BURGER 5000*

wagyu beef, foie gras, truffle, served with a bottle of
1995 Chateau Pétrus 5000

For DESSERTS:

crème brulée duo (with Happy B-day on it in chocolate for my mom)

ancho chili chocolate – kalamansi, chocolate macaroon

brioche beignets

vanilla and cherry anglaise

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My friend Sue had recommended a place called MON AMI GABI-PARIS. You sit in Paris and eat Parisian, but you just happen to be in Las Vegas. Here’s the view from the Parisian cafe.

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My mom ordered large cappuccinos. Who knew they could be SO big. We could have taken baths or gone swimming in those cups and who knew someone could make something so big and it taste so good! SHOCKING!!!

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We shared an egg, bacon, cheese crepe w. béchamel. It was yummy! Where’s the pic? Did we eat it before we took a pic or did we eat the pic because it looked so good??? Hmmmm..

We wandered around and before we knew it, it was lunchtime. We went to YARDBIRD

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and ate the following…..

Fried Green Tomato BLT

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Cheese Grits-Nora Mill Granary cheesy corn grits

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  • Mama’s Chicken Biscuits
  • free range fried chicken, pepper jelly, house pickles,
  • house-made buttermilk biscuit

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Then we chilled out at the pool and got ready for my mom’s final birthday dinner. THESE are the folks that really put out the red carpet for her and celebrated her 75th the way it should have been celebrated. We were impressed!!!

ALIZE- THE PALMS

  • 2 lb Maine Lobster Thermidor
    Mushrooms, Tarragon, Cream, Brandy, Dijon, Hollandaise, Asparagus
  • Veal Wellington
    Smoked Prosciutto, Mushroom Duxelles, Asparagus, Truffle-Shallot Jus

Here we go…what is underneath….

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Then for dessert they handed her a key and placed a box on the table for her to open it and inside she discovered her own personal chocolate cake. It really was such a great touch!

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Then in-between meals we walked around and visited the various casinos. The actual casino part is pretty unappealing to me, and quite frankly depressing to me, but the other parts are interesting to see!

 

Here is all we visited.

VENETIAN      PALAZZO    WYNN   PARIS     COSMOPOLITIAN    CAESAR PALACE

ARIA     MANDALAY    DELANO  LUXOR    NEW YORK

Outside of casino hopping to check out the various decors and themes, we went to the Bellagio Art Gallery, watched the Bellagio Water Show, Mirage Volcano, wandered through a Chihuly Gallery and visited the pool at our hotel. My thing was to get into the pool daily since I couldn’t do that at home.

Here is a mish mash of pics that encompass the rest of the trip…..

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My mom used to love to play the slots in Newport…so we will end that series of pics with that smile on her face as she does it again!

And finally, after many years of hearing about Cirque de Soleil, we went. We saw THE BEATLES.

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But for me…running into Chef Brad Borchardt must first friend at the University of Maine, who I told you gave me the restaurant suggestions for Las Vegas AND San Diego (next stop) and who I had NOT seen since college…ran into him heading to a meeting. We stopped for a selfie…and maybe I can find an old pic of us from college to put it side by side…

Here is Brad and me at U Maine…..

Brad & Erin @ Maine

Here we are in Las Vegas…a “FEW” years later….

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All in all it was a very fun trip to Vegas with my mom. Love you, Mom!!!! Brad…awesome to see you all these years later! Thanks for the great recommendations and having the surprise at my mom’s birthday dinner!!!

To all the rest of you….

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

Manhattan, New York

I love trains. I love trains on the East coast! I loved sitting in the window and watching the passing towns, the water, the houses, the little cities, the trees in the Fall when they are filled with orange and red leaves.

There is nowhere I rather be in the Spring than in the South as it blossoms and nowhere I rather be in the Fall when the leaves change colors than the East coast.

My friend Rod offered to pick me up at PENN Station. I love having a friend at CNN who can scoot down the road and do that during an office break.

I lived in New York for six years and no one ever picked me up at the train beside a cab!

We went and I dropped off my suitcase and then I asked if he was heading back up town. He was so I hitched a ride to meet my friend CT at City Bakery. However, not expecting the ride or making such good time I ended up with 45 minutes to kill.

What to do with 45 minutes to kill? We parked the car and went and explored the block and all its facets. We laughed a lot. It was a fun and unexpected excursion. It’s times like that and random fun like that are the moments that make New York magical. It is where I come alive!

We walked back to CITY BAKERY. We had a hot chocolate with my CT friend, who hates her name in my blog, so here after, she is going to simply be nicknamed CT. (She’s from Connecticut. It just works!) Rod left and CT and I started our journey from 5th & 18th to Tribeca and to my sushi constant, NOBU.

We ate all the usual suspects. The Miso Marinated Cod, the sushi rolls, tamago, but the people to the right of us had this simple dish that looked like fries that we had to try.

Udon fritters. They were crunchy and yummy.

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After dinner, we walked back for me to go to my friend’s Michael’s place and CT to get her car and go back home to CT. We walked straight up W. Broadway.

We passed the loaves of bread in the window that smelled out of this world good.

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And then we took a pic of us in front of the yummy smelling bread window…notice big smiles. Bread makes one happy.

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We passed the art galleries with lifesavers the size of car tires and car keys the size of a tennis racket. They don’t look huge, but they are….

 

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We passed a car that looked like it time warped here from the 60s.

 

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I walked CT to the subway at Bleecker and I came back to Michael’s. I looked out the window at the expansive view down Houston Street and the beauty I feel in the city, the tall buildings, the lights, the sounds, and I smile as I crawled into bed and go to sleep excited for another day in New York City. This is the view the next morning out the window.

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I walked through Washington Park.

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I passed the dogs in the dog run on my way to Bob’s Bagels. I passed Alec Baldwin picking up his dog’s doo doo. The dog was so small it could fit into his pocket. I had a moment where I thought of PEOPLE Magazine’s section. Famous people doing ordinary things. All of us on the sidewalk are cognizant of who it was, but no one says a thing.

I grabbed my bagel and sat in the window to eat it relishing the taste of the New York everything bagel that everyone swears tastes SO good, because of NY water. I walked up to Union Square and hopped a subway up town.

I wandered into Cartier because my mother an avid Architectural Digest (AD) reader had told me I need to see the renovations of the old mansion.

I was in awe of how that staff treated me like royalty. I was so completely convinced that they were confusing me for a celebrity as they ushered me through the rooms after I told them I read the article. They showed me Grace Kelly’s wedding ring from Prince Rainier a temporary exhibit. They were so proud of their beautifully renovated space. They were so nice, warm and welcoming. Little did they know I was a Tiffany girl, with far more Tiffany pieces than Cartier if I even had one Cartier piece. I left Cartier and couldn’t resist going into Tiffany to see if I received the same treatment only to be ignored.

I thought good on you Cartier. I will tell everyone the story. They will tell at least one person and that is the power of positive marketing. And little did they know that I would come home and blog it out to over 2000 readers. Tiffany’s there is a lesson in this for you!! Actually, usually Tiffany’s is pretty friendly. Perhaps it was an off day.

Still stumped by the adoration from Cartier. I stopped to look at a reflection in a glass window to see if I could possibly decipher whom they mistook me for but I couldn’t figure it out.

The irony is that I stopped and noticed a glut of police officers and wondered what happened and what was going on. I stepped back and arched my neck back to read TRUMP TOWER across the top of the building. It all made sense.

I kept going.

I walked over to Central Park to look down at the pond on Central Park South near The Plaza. I walked further up 5th to peek into the Zoo and take a picture for my friend Heather’s children who had asked me to see if I could spot the animals from Madagascar.

I walked further up to 72nd street and down to see a few boats sail on the pond near Alice in Wonderland and then walked over and up Madison Ave. a bit. Then it was time to go meet my friend Eric for dinner.

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Being the avid Stephen Colbert fan that I am. He had a gentleman on one evening that was doing a show called ADAM’S SECRET EATS on the travel channel. His name is Adam Richman and he spoke of two different spots in Manhattan and I sent an email to my NY friends asking them, who wants to go with me and the first one to write…gets to go. Eric was the first. We went to a place called Crif Dogs.

 

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I walked into a phone booth in Crif Dogs. I picked up the phone and it called the restaurant called PDT, which stands for PLEASE DON’T TELL and suddenly the back wall in the phone booth opened and a man peeked around asking how many and said I needed to wait for him to send me a text and then I was to come back into the phone booth, pick up the phone, back wall would open and in I would go into this dark, but attractive, although dimly lit room to eat and drink.

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I think the second most favorite part of it behind going into a phone booth to enter the restaurant was Eric’s reaction to the place.

We ordered Crif Hotdogs. They insisted we both had drinks. Eric had an adult beverage and I had a super tasty mango mocktail. Then Eric got a burger and tater tots after the hot dogs. I ordered the Chang Dog & the Txikito dog below and the descriptions are below that in the menu.

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It was a yummy fun night.

The following morning I went to Dean and Deluca for my iced cappuccino. I used to go every morning when I lived and worked in NY. I love the look of that place.

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I passed this in line and if they didn’t cost so bloody much I may have been seriously tempted to buy something….

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The line was long, but unlike Starbucks…D & D knows how to move a line. They know we are all in a rush. Love it!!! In and out so fast!!! A line half that size at Starbucks moves twice as slow as D & D lines. Plus, the coffee is so much better at D & D. It is ridiculously better. It is like comparing Walmart to Needless Mark-up (aka Neiman Marcus).

I then walked to Battery Park EXACTLY the same way I used to go to jog down there. My body almost navigated the streets on autopilot. I can’t believe that I used to come this far in the morning to run along the river. Probably, because unlike Cincinnati that has an 8am start, ALL my NY jobs all started anywhere between 9-10 am so I could do things prior to work. So civilized.

I have so many memories on this route and this walk along the river. I saw the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I thought of walking there with this turkey I dated from my Boston days, I thought of my ex-beau Ian, who moved to SF. I thought of friends and just so much on that long walk that I used to do almost daily.

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I went down there because I wanted to see Le District.

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I had heard so much about a place that is supposedly like Batali’s EATALY, but it wasn’t. It was in concept but not in scale or magnitude. Here’s the thing. I am so much more French than Italy and yet I love EATALY and was not crazy about Le District, but I did try a pain du chocolat. It was pretty good.

The view from Le District is lovely and so unexpected in the city…you do not feel like you are in Manhattan.

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I walked to the front of the high-end shopping mall and gazed up at the new World Trade Center. I remember that day like it was yesterday. The sky that horrible day was just like this….

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All these years later and there is still a hole in my heart from that day.

I left there and walked up along the Hudson and looked at what had and had not changed architecturally. Back then, I had no interest in those neighborhoods that hugged the Hudson River and now those neighborhoods, largely because of the High Line are so desirable.

I called my friend Kristen to meet up. She found a fun little place in the West Village called Jack’s Wife Freda. We waited ten minutes and then were seated.

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The food was yummy! We ate Green Shakshuka, which was two baked eggs in a green Shakshuka served with Challah bread. How does anything taste bad with Challah bread? Loved the stuff.

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I ordered the Croque Madame, which was a variation on the traditional. Theirs was prepared with duck prosciutto, cheddar béchamel, Gruyere cheese, and a sunny side up egg.

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Both were wonderfully delicious.

 

Then I went to Laduree to meet a gal, who was my best friend at a tennis camp that we both attended outside of Baltimore. Her name is Nancy and she looked the same. It was as if no time had passed. We lost touch in college so 20 + years later here we were and it was so nice and so fun.

After hot chocolate, which is so fabulous and Laduree, which was a weekly hangout for me when I lived in Paris. I walked back to the hotel passing this sight. This is one small bit of why NY is so fabulous!!!

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My friend Temple had stayed at a W Hotel in NY the year I had moved to NY many, many years ago, and so I gave it a try. I will not make that mistake again!!!

The view out my friend Michael’s window was beautiful and I could see so much. The view out of my W Hotel room was of a brick wall, many hotel rooms and a sliver, literally a sliver of sky.

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The bed was like sleeping on a bag of potatoes. It was miserably lumpy. When I asked if they could improve the situation they sent me a rollaway bed. I paid that kind of money for a cot? You must be kidding me. The Internet was $15 a day on top of the room rate. I was outraged. I woke up with a stiff neck and a bad attitude. It was not good or pretty.

Thankfully, I only had two nights there. I went for a walk to get out all my kinks from a miserable sleep. I needed this….This made me laugh and chuckle. A naked male mannequin in a store window….it looked real…

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MOMOSAN Ramen & Sake

My friend Sarah had given me the FOOD section out of her NY Times, and I found this restaurant. Kristen said she would go with me. She says her dad is the foodie, but Kristen is too!

It was the best meal I had eaten in a really long time. It just blew all the other meals out of the water, and truthfully the only one that rivaled it was a meal I had in Las Vegas with my mom, but more on that in a future blog. I must say the name again…..

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Write it down and remember it. It was worth it and the wait wasn’t even insane. The location was up around the corner from Grand Central. The food was Chef Morimoto, and I had seen and heard about him, but never tried his food but had always wanted to taste it. I just found Morimoto to be on a level with Alain Ducasse and Thomas Keller and their price points are off the charts high so imagine my surprise when I discovered that this restaurant of his  was a reasonably priced AND with his signature stellar food.

The first impressive was the waitress. She told us all the best dishes to order and she nailed it. Each dish was better than the next one.

We started with Tokyo chicken, which was steamed chicken, aji-tama, menma, seared garlic chive, kikirage, toasted nori, soy tare. (I don’t know what half of those ingredients are either, but it tasted good, and it is a well-renown and respected chef, so I trusted him. I like his art, so I am someone who will gladly step out of the box and take a chance. I am so glad I did.)

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Then we had the kakuni bao, because I find it hard not to eat porkbelly at every chance I get. This one was braised porkbelly.

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The other (oh there are so many hard to resist foods) hard to resist for me personally is Peking duck. This was house made with cucumber, hoisin, apricot sweet chili sauce, crispy gyoza skin. It literally melted in my mouth.

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Then we tried the Zuke maguro. I love maguro it is a yummy tuna. This one was marinated in soy served with tataki cucumber and taberu rayu. Again, I have no idea what half those ingredients are and again it was so good, I do not care!!!

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We were at a community table and we were talking to the guys seated at the end of the table that were too young for us, but were pretty adorable, fun and flirty and for two 40+ chicks…it was fun.

After dinner, Kristen had heard about this pie place on the Lower Eastside. Pie is a weakness for me. We started to walk, my favorite mode of transportation but Kristen flagged down a cab. We hopped in and off we went. Petee’s Pies had a few window seats and an open kitchen that we could observe the magic. The hard part was which pie to try?

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The second hard part was do you add the ice cream or not? I didn’t want pumpkin pie because I have a favorite pumpkin pie back in Cincy. I wanted pecan pie, but they were out. While we waited in line I talked to a couple of guys and the one guy said I am so hooked on these. He said he keeps coming back. He was fit as a fiddle so I want to know how much exercising he was doing to consume all this pie? In the end, I had a slice of apple pie. It was yummy. I thought about returning the next night and thought this is not a habit I need to start, plus in NY there is always something new to taste.

Kristen and I started to walk home. She grabbed a cab and I walked back to my hotel. Only in NY, could I walk 20 blocks and think of it as heavenly. When I arrived at the hotel this was glowing in the window.

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Next day, I went for a walk in Central Park and landed at Tavern on the Green to meet my friends, who happen to be sisters: Sabrina & Natalie and Natalie’s daughter, Belen. Last year, Natalie had said that I needed to see the redo of the Tavern on the Green and it was nice enough that we could sit outside to enjoy it.

It was a bit gaudy before but the patio was lovely with different colored lanterns and lampshades swinging from the trees, but no longer. It now looked like a Bavarian Beer Hall. They did a nice job, but it was not my cup of tea. They did keep the high prices. I miss the lights in the trees that were utterly charming and original to the place.

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We had such a lovely visit, but I always do with those two, whom I have been friends with for so long that they almost feel like family to me.

I do miss my New England/New York friends. I feel so lucky to have met them and maintained those friendships. I just think the world of those friends and just love being with them all so much!!!

I left them and went to meet CT for my last afternoon and evening in NY. We met at the usual… CITY BAKERY and Natalie had just told me that they had the best croissant in town. Pretzel croissant – no butter needed. She was right. It was yummy!

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After the croissant, CT and I began to walk to the Village. We tried a place called Carma Asian Tapas. I was so disappointed. Maybe I wouldn’t have been if I hadn’t been to Momosan the night before, but there was no comparison.

We ordered…

 

Peking Duck Tacos – Shredded Peking duck marinated in homemade Hoisin BBQ sauce. Served in hard tacos. Topped with guacamole and spicy mayo.

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Savory Donpo Pork Belly Bao -Pork belly marinated in Taiwanese brown sugar. Served in bun with marinated tomatoes, pickles, and carrot.

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Pork Soup Dumpling

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Then we did what we do best. We walked through the Village stopping to see lunch box art on the wall.

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Hear a lady behind a cupcake counter sing  a fun song.

See a wide variety of cupcakes.

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We stopped to try some cookies called Insomnia cookies. They looked and smelled good, but Heather’s ROCK cookies were FAR better! So are LeVain’s.

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We stopped in Samba. Look at the ceiling art/lights.

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Another lighting caught my eye….

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Then it was time to walk back to the hotel. CT and I walked. She got into a subway and I kept walking.

My highest amount of steps to date registered on my Fitbit.

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Next morning, I went to meet my friend Michael for breakfast at NOHO Star. We loved the bloody there. Loved being with Michael. He is so brilliant and easy to talk with and that is a true pleasure.

I left him and went to meet Kristen at Laduree for my final hot chocolate before the airport.

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The sadness at leaving started to creep in and I wondered why I am going back. This is home. This is where I belong. Why am I not here? Why did I ever leave?

I sat on the tarmac a few hours later and pondered life and how and where and why it takes us where it does…

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And then I met a man on the plane who lived about 4 blocks away from me growing up and we didn’t talk until the end of the leg from DC to Cincinnati. (This was my home (below) many years ago…)

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We had so much in common it was almost eerie. I guess everything does happen for a reason, and it is a small, small world, and that helped meeting someone bright and interesting, who had also moved away and had come back, but I will never understand why I left New York and I will always be trying to get back there….

Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

BOSTON

 

 

 

I am so behind in this blog it is ridiculous so I may as well use the winter months when I am stuck inside at home to revisit my Fall trips to wonderful destinations with great friends and great food.

Getting to Boston was no small feat. Remember that horrific storm that ravaged the Carolina coast in the Fall. It made travel cumbersome and provoked delays that impacted many traveling. This included me in a minuscule way as I sat on the runway texting my Charlotte friends telling them that there was a chance I was going to be stranded in their city and would they come rescue me from the airport. I was lucky enough to run like O.J. Simpson through the Charlotte airport and catch my connecting flight and the kind man who was about to lock the gate door to my connecting flight let me Erin, who sounded remarkably like Darth Vader after a multi-concourse run enter the almost departing flight to Boston.

I sat down huffing and puffing and was lucky enough to be seated with the nicest guy named Greg. He was sadly returning from Florida and his father’s funeral. He was part of a hard rock band called Steel Assasins. ( I think he is the 4th on right but not sure!)

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We talked all the way from Charlotte to Boston, which was great because I was a bit nervous to go meet an old dear friend Stefan who I had not seen in 16 years who was planning (quite literally) our marriage and life. It was a little scary. Apparently, I had made a promise on a handshake that if we were not married at 50, we would get married. We reconnected and he told me I had three years to find an alternate husband or I would be getting married to him. After all, a promise is a promise. The fairy tale part of it was fun and the fact that he was German royalty and I would have a title was fun. But ya’ll remember me? I can travel to Russia and China alone, but put me with men and couple that with love and I become the wimpiest creature to roam the planet. Why does love scare me so? Who bloody knows!!!

I was greeted at the airport by my friend Noel and he and Heather’s three kids: Anna, Calvin and Hazel.

They took me home and Heather went so far beyond the call of duty. She remembered that I used to eat Trader Joe’s mango granola…so she had a box there for me. Not knowing I had gone gluten free and after she went through that much trouble to have it for me…I had to eat it. It would have been rude NOT to try it! Then…she made the most killer peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies that her kids called ROCKS. Rude not to eat those too! They were dynamite. I came home and tried to replicate them. Her cookies reminded me of LeVain’s cookies in style, size and taste, and I thought I did a good job with taste, but mine didn’t look like LeVain’s OR Heather’s in size. No rocks here! Not sure how to do THAT part of the recipe!

The weather in Boston was complete crap the first 24 hours. I was able to cuddle on the couch with their pooch, Oscar a combination of Chinese crested and weiner dog. My dog is half Chinese crested. Their dog, like my dog…a lover!

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We watched two seasons of Sherlock Holmes. We ate, we talked, Heather made mocktails. Oscar and Hazel spent a lot of time in my lap.

It was a lot of fun!

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The sun came out and I asked if we could go get cider donuts. Oh how I love and have such fond memories of cider donuts. There was a long line to get into Wilson Farms..

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but once inside…heavenly…

The flowers, the fruits, the potato blaster for gets to shoot off potatoes, the hay maze, watching the cider donuts come off the conveyer belt, the donuts, the gourds, the hot apple cider.

I love the Boston sky…look out how blue it can be….

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And just driving in New England that time of year is heavenly.

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When I lived in Boston they were working on what seemed like the never-ending BIG DIG project. I wanted to see what it looked like now that it was complete…we did a quick drive by. I can’t wait for more time and better weather to walk in the parks above it. I couldn’t take pics to do it justice. You will just have to go see it yourself…

We drove through downtown Boston

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Kendall Sq. has changed so much!! It has just flourished! Here’s a architectural treat in Kendall Square.

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One day, we all went exploring in Harvard Sq. and then I went back on my own to explore some more and walk through the Harvard Yard.

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I passed my old apartment building on Mt. Auburn Street. It was wrapped up and was being remodeled or may just a facelift. I most surely couldn’t have afforded it after its fix-up.

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I loved the location of it. I was right in Harvard Square. I could walk to all the shops, restaurants. I could catch the T in 5 minutes or be on campus to get to my classes in ten minutes or less. But when I lived in that apartment building. Across the street was a CHILI’s restaurant. Now, it was being converted to a FLOUR.

Oh FLOUR how I love thee…thank goodness it was not there years ago or I would have weighed 500lbs.

FLOUR

I left Cambridge for Beacon Hill. I did two years in each town. I loved both for varying reasons. I probably loved Beacon Hill more for the accessibility. I took time to explore my old neighborhood there as well. I walked by my old street. Primus. I loved Primus. That is where I met Stefan. Charles Street, which is the main drag there is a completely different animal now. We didn’t have a quarter of the cute shops that are there now.

Then I walked The Public Garden, which was a park I felt safe walking in day and night. I would walk there when I was stressed out working on my thesis. It is where I got the idea and the setting for my children’s book, The Wish Giver.

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One night while in Boston, my friend Jenny and I went to Chef Ming Tsai’s place in Wellesley. I even ran into a neighbor from Cincinnati at the restaurant. My friend Melinda who lives on the 6th floor, and is also a foodie. Small world.

Jenny and I have been friends for over 20 years! I love Jenny!!! She is such a wonderful and special human being. I remember when she and her now ex-husband we used to meet up every 4-6 months and go try a new restaurant in Boston. I remember when they adopted their first child from Russia. I remember when she got pregnant with her second child. I lived with them for a month before moving to New York. I just think the world of Jenny so it was so fun that we had an evening to go eat and eat good food in Boston or in this case Wellesley.

I have been DYING to go try Chef Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger. I have seen him on television. I have been beyond curious. I think he is the sexiest Asian man I have ever laid eyes on in my life! I have that va va voom for him. If he had come to the table and said, “Do you…” I would have said yes! He could have been asking if I liked the meal or if I knew I had spinach in my teeth but I would have said yes, just in case he would have said do you want to run away with me. YES!! Yes, I would love it.

He has a reputation for being in his restaurant a lot. I find that impressive for a celebrity chef. He cares what happens and what transpires in his kitchen. I admire and respect that and him for it.

Jenny started with a pumpkin soup with granola, thyme-maple syrup and pickled shiso. I started with their well-known Bigeye Tuna Poke with crispy sushi rice cake and microgreen – tosaka salad. The presentation was better than the taste. I liked the taste and the crunch of everything but the fish.

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We shared a Sake-Miso Marinated Sablefish more commonly known as Butterfish. That was melt in your mouth good.

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My last night in town Heather and I went to Mr. Bartley’s so I could get a burger, fries and a shake. It is a Harvard/Cambridge institution.

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I had a burger called “CAITLIN JENNER “YOU GO GIRL” with a fried egg, bacon & cheese with a side of sweet potato fries. I love their sweet potato fries.

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Then we both got milkshakes to drink while we walked around Harvard Square. I can’t believe how the old memories of being there and living there flood back to me at every turn.

I drank too much milkshake and ended up with a terrible belly ache.

We went back to Heather’s watched television and then the next morning it was time to meet my old friend, Stefan, at FLOUR.

He checked out the girl sitting next to me and there was no chemistry there at all. Almost the opposite of chemistry and like that the fairy tale was done.

I bought a scone for the train trip.

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He walked me to the train and off I went to my beloved New York and another adventure. I love trains…like Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory. I love to look out the window….

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Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….

P.S.

Last night, January 2017, a handful of months after my visit to Boston, I went to see Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg’s PATRIOT’S DAY. I was moved to tears and sadness seeing this film. It impacted me deeply. I walked down so many of those Boston streets. As I said above I lived with my friend Jenny and Bill for a month before transitioning from Boston to New York, and they lived in Watertown. This is where the boy was found in the boat at the end of this travesty. I think Berg and Wahlberg captured the beauty of this city with their cinematography but also the heart and soul of it’s people. Every year, I would go to the Boston Marathon. Many years, I stood at the finish line. I could have easily been there that day. My friend Bill was in one of those restaurants near the site of the explosion that horrific Patriot’s Day. It breaks my heart that anyone can find that kind of terror acceptable on any level, for any reason. But it does demonstrate the strength and hope of Bostonians and makes me proud that for four years, I was one of them. My heart goes out to all those that tragic day. Patriot’s Day is a film not to be missed for so many reasons.

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Cook 90 Coupled With Whole 30 & More…

I woke up one day with pain in my hips. I realized it was time to go back on WHOLE 30. When I follow WHOLE 30, I get rid of my aches and pains. I get rid of puffiness and bloating. I love it! However, before I start I always need my last hoorah first! Plus, I received emails from Epicurious.com, which I love and is my go to for recipes and the editor, David Tamarkin, sent out a note from Epicurious inviting readers and followers to join him to cook three meals a day for the month of January! I decided to sign up and do it! He did it solo last year and this year he has 20,000 people joining him! Pretty cool, huh? I’ll get to my meals. After I get to my last hoorah!

My dear friend Jules from Indy came down for a visit and we went to THE SUMMIT, which is the Culinary School @ Cincy State’s restaurant. I have always heard great things about it. Jules and I loved the amuse bouche at the beginning. Then she ordered a salad, which was good and I ordered the porkbelly with the quail egg on top and that was delicious! If it wasn’t for my first two courses, which was quite tasty, and a taste’s of Jules’s entree. I would never consider going back!

I ordered a white fish that they didn’t have so they replaced it with sea bream, which I like a lot. The dish was supposed to be a white fish in a beurre blanc with raisins and capers to get that sweet and salty thing going, but for some reason, the chef feared that the caper raisin combo wouldn’t work with the sea bream, but replacing one white fish for another should not have dictated such a drastic departure from the recipe. The chef omitted the capers and raisins. Instead he chose to serve the dish as a fish in beurre blanc, but the beurre blanc had NO taste whatsoever! NONE! If anything there was a spice in it that I couldn’t name. It didn’t add or delete but made my mouth wince. I stopped eating it and brought it home to doctor it. Not good. The presentation was lovely but the main entrée left little to be desired.

On the other hand, Jules’s chicken dish was very tasty. I wanted to write the meal off as a waste of money and a flop, but we all have off days and somethings work better than others.

Here are some pictures from the meal….

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Christmas Lights and the Set-Up for Christmas Tea with a Couple Close Girlfriends…

We met this lovely little bird at the Zoo. She was a sweet soul…she’s not a duck!

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The middle slot on the high tea tray was awaiting Lisa’s pumpkin muffins and pumpkin dip!

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Tall iced cappuccino with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg

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Homemade quilt out of favorite shirts backed with blue and white polka dot fleece blanket

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Santa Claus’s elf….

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COOK #90     and   #WHOLE 30

COOK #90 Make 3 meals a day and do not eat out. This was coupled with my going back on #WHOLE 30, which IMMEDIATELY got rid of my hip joint pain.

I am a creature of habit. I tend to eat the same thing day in and day out. I am the one that lived in Boston and New York and ate Trader Joe’s Mango granola topped with whatever gourmet yogurt that tickled my fancy every morning for over 14 years!

Now, being a Whole 30 savvy gal, I am eating two soft-boiled eggs and in the Fall, Winter, Spring I eat a Granny Smith apple and in the summer fresh seasonal fruits replaces the apple. Also, I drink Café Du Monde coffee with milk. Breakfast rarely changes, except on weekends.

I tried this variation with the eggs on top of the sautéed onions, garlic, and bella mushrooms, but decided the best way to eat this dish is with the mushrooms on the eggs so they soak up the yolk.

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One weekend day, I added spinach to the above concoction.

I thought I was super brilliant to cook the bacon on the same tray as the sliced sweet potato to give each food a flavor from the other.

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I tried the sweet potato toast. Have you heard of this? For those gluten free folks, you roast a slice of sweet potato because the toaster does not do the trick!

Then you can do a variety of options on top of your sweet potato toast and here are three I tried.

L to R:

Butter, cinnamon & sea salt

Avocado & sea salt

Avocado & lemon pepper

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My favorite was the first one. So much so, that I repeated it the next morning.

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One night, I spiralized zucchini and sautéed it in my wok with butter and olive oil. Placed it in a bowl.

Then placed the spinach, mushrooms, onions and garlic in the wok with extra oil and tossed in the shrimp. I cooked them till they turned pink and began to curl and put that on top of the zucchini.

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Another night, I took mushrooms, spinach and pancetta and cooked all of that up together and tossed it in a bowl and ate that for dinner.

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I LOVE eating food out of a bowl.

I bought some broccoli and some cauliflower and tried this Broccoli Cauliflower Mash recipe from the Whole 30 book.

Ingredients:

1 head of broccoli

1 head of cauliflower

1 tbsp. olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp. parsley

1 c. coconut cream

1 c. chicken broth

2 tbsp. minced garlic

 

Mix ingredients together in a pot on stove and cook for roughly 10-15 minutes.

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I have been fighting a bad cold for almost 2 weeks. My kind neighbors brought me turkey soup with noodles, which was my only gluten cheat since Dec. 8.

Others brought me chicken soup, and one friend brought me chicken soup and then organic ingredients to make chicken soup to last me for weeks!

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I have had two bad experiences with chicken soupin the past. I decided to try it again and this time…it worked!

ERIN’S CHICKEN SOUP

1 chicken carcass

Water to cover the chicken bones

Healthy dose of sea salt and pepper

2-3 T dill

3 Carrots

2 bunches Green onions

1 bunch of celery

I chopped all the veggies and added them to the water and chicken bones. I added spices. I brought to a boil. Then simmered for 2-3 hours. Drained out the broth and put it in a bowl covered in the refrigerator overnight. Threw away the carcass after I got the loose meat off it. Put meat, and vegetables in a separate container in the refrigerator. Next day. Scraped the grease off the broth and discarded. Put the broth and the veggies and chicken back in a pot. Brought to a boil and served.

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I loved it!!! It is what I have been eating with my bad cold. Plus, apples and oranges.

Today, I made butternut squash soup for lunch.

Butternut squash soup

1 butternut squash

3 T butter

1 t. salt

1/8 t. pepper

1 t. ginger

1 t. curry

1 large garlic clove

½ c. coconut cream

1 c. chicken broth

Directions

Diced butternut squash into chunks and roasted at 400 for 8 minutes. Flipped and roasted another 8 minutes. (Keep an eye on it and adjust time accordingly.)

Tossed the butternut squash into my Cuisinart. Added all of the above ingredients. (Including the broth heated.)

NOTE: Originally, I didn’t add the ginger and curry but it didn’t have enough flavor for me so I added that to give it more flavor. I could have added rosemary or sage, but not together! Those spices solo could have been good as well, but instead I went to ginger and curry.

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Until we meet again…

Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….