A few months ago, Gavin and I got to visit one of our favorite places in the country. Northern California. There is something about it that just brings such joy! Maybe its the INCREDIBLE produce or the sweet small towns and local vibes- every time I go, it leaves me wanting more! While on our trip this time, we planned to spend a few nights in the Napa Valley area. While we have spent time there before, we wanted to see and do a few new things- and I knew exactly who to go to for travel advice.Posted on October 12, 2013 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More
I seriously don’t know where the last two weeks have gone! It has been a WHIRLWIND and I have been TERRIBLE at blogging and even more terrible at taking pictures of the meals that I am making and writing recipes. The whirlwind seems to slow down in about a week- so, lets make a deal- hang in there with me and I will have some super yummy stuff coming next week :)
So, to fill you all in- here is a snap shot of the past two weeks- the good, the exhausting, and the yummy! The day after we got home from New York, we knew that they next few weeks were about to be crazy- so we started our Saturday morning with a trip to one of our very favorite brunch spots. We enjoyed an amazing, relaxing brunch date and enjoyed savored moment! Mimosas, greek yogurt parfait with homemade granola and fresh fruit, truffled cheese grits, incredible biscotti and Land of a Thousand Hills coffee!
From brunch, we headed to celebrate one of my oldest friends (I met her in 6th grade) birthday! So fun :)
From Decatur- we drove across Atlanta to the Dogwood Festival!! Gavin took me to a concert at the festival 5 YEARS ago on our first date- so the festival is always a fun reminder for us. I CAN NOT believe that it has already been 5 years! This festival was extra special because our friend Matt Vaughan was playing in one of the pavillions. Matt has been a dear friend for years- and he is releasing his first CD on May 18 (he’s having a release party at Smith’s Olde Bar- if you want happy ears- buy a ticket now)!!
Sunday morning, we woke up excited for one of our favorite outdoor bashes of the year. A dear friend, Corrine and her husband David (and adorable son William) host a giant crawfish boil every spring. David is a master crawfish boiler (I don’t know if that’s a thing, but if it is, he is one)- and Corrine and David make sure to pull out all of the stops for this annual sioree! Loads of crawfish, sweet corn, tender potatoes, spicy onions, smokey sausage…pimento cheese sandwiches, caramel cupcakes…and most importantly- great friends!
Monday we were able to go and bid farewell to another super special lady! I have been friends with Tricia Andrews for quite a while- we became close in college and have stayed close since. She is one of the most brilliant, loving and FULL-OF-GRACE people that I have ever met. Last week, she left for a trip around the world- so we met at a Mexican restaurant so that she could have her last (Americanized) Mexican food of the year. Can’t wait to hear all about her incredible adventures!
The next morning, Gavin and I headed over to the U-Haul store, rented a trailer and loaded up for Orange Conference. Orange is a conference for family ministry leaders- it is our biggest event for LUO, or non-profit each year. We set up a booth at the conference and then spend the week sharing the stories of the children that we work with in South Africa. We bring 200 canvases that we hand paint with the children and then sell them for $250- the cost of the canvas supports a child for A YEAR! It provides nutrition, medical care, education and an awesome Bible Curriculum. The Conference is fast paced, super busy and very fun (complete with a large selection of Atlanta’s best food trucks)!
When the conference ended on Friday, we literally sprinted for the door and headed to Athens (one of the best food towns in the South) to celebrate my brother’s girlfriend, Katie’s birthday. Katie is so much more than my brother’s girlfriend- she is family and we were so excited to ring in her 21st year with a yummy Thai meal, homemade margaritas and great conversation. She is one special chic!
The morning after Athens, we got up BRIGHT and EARLY and headed BACK to the U-Haul store, to FINALLY move into the home the we have been renovating for what feels like FOREVER! A REAL, beautiful kitchen motivated me as I carried load after load of our things out to the truck. Moving is exhausting and exiting- but settling in a “nesting” is so fun (tho we haven’t been home to do that yet!)
Right as the dust (in this case saw dust from all of the renovations) started to settle, we packed our suit cases and headed for the airport to fly to West Palm Beach for another LUO art show. Our friends in Palm Beach recently relocated from the DC area and wanted to introduce their new community to LUO. They own a really beautiful art gallery (specializing in glass- each item is like $100,000.00) and a coffee shop (that literally serves my favorite coffee in America and therefore started my slight obsession with finding the perfect cup in Atlanta)- so we were really excited to visit, drink coffee, and raise money for our beautiful children at Ithemba! It was SO amazing to see their artwork hanging in a gorgeous gallery next to some of the more acclaimed artists of our time. I am always amazed by how incredible their canvases are when they are stretched and hung. Each one is different, and beautiful, and truly shows the personality of the child that painted it.
From Palm Beach, we headed to Ft. Lauderdale to visit some friends for a day…and oh my goodness, we were so spoiled! Our friend Mike connected us with a lovely family in the area to stay with (when we travel we really like to stay with local families and get to see the city from their perspective)- but this was over the top amazing! Their home was located right on the beach- and our room was situated in the perfect position- it opened out to the pool and then overlooked the water. It was an amazing time of rest and rejuvination. Our hosts spoiled us- we woke up to steaming coffee on the porch- followed by a beautiful plate of quiche and bowl of fresh fruit.
We ate- we soaked in the view- and then we headed down to the beach because this family had a PADDLE BOARD!! As you know, Gavin is a surfer, and like a fish, he feels like he can’t breathe as well when he is out of the water :) Paddle boarding is one of our favorite things to do together- it is great excercise, and such a fun way to get out in the water! We spent the morning paddling around and trying to catch some of the super small waves.
From there- we drove back to Palm Beach to get one last cup of coffee- its our favorite, can you blame us?? and the headed for the airport!
Tomorrow, I leave for New York (YAY!!) and then, when I get home, I will get cooking- I promise!
Last time we were in DC, we heard rumors that you can take a bus straight from Union Station in DC to Penn Station in NYC for $1…what!? After Q was over, our dear friends that live in New York offered to let us take a mini vacation at their home in the city. How could we turn that down? After our DC adventures we made reservations on the Bold Bus (we didn’t get the $1 tickets, there are only a few per bus…but ours were incredibly affordable) and headed for the Big Apple! It was only about a 4 hour drive- but it felt like forever because we were trying to make a dinner party that evening and our bus essentially arrived when the party started!
Sometimes I think our lives are like a bad romantic comedy…we literally BOLTED off of the bus (with our two MASSIVE suitcases) hobbled down the 1,000,000 stairs to the subway, bought our metro cards, got stuck in the turn stall with our bags, ran as fast as we could to the train- and arrived as the train doors were sliding shut! So, we caught our breath and waited for the next train. When we arrived at our stop- another hilarious episode of bag dragging, getting stuck and running through the crowded streets ensued. We ran in the door of the town house, threw open our bags and changed in about 2.5 seconds. Ran back out the door, grabbed another train and FINALLY made it to dinner as the plates were being served! Whew!
I am SO glad we made it to dinner…it was such an incredible meal! A new friend of mine, Jack (who I met in LA last month) just moved into the city and was having a meal to celebrate passover with a bunch of friends.
He must have been cooking for 34 days because the spread that he put out in his 350 square foot apartment was IMPRESSIVE and SO delicious! We had tilapia crusted in herbs and pine nuts, poached salmon, home made chick pea burgers, mini spinach quiche, matzah pizza, amazing roasted veggies, a fabulous salad, an incredible spaghetti squash topped with a rich red sauce, stuffed grape leaves, and many more delicious dishes. Wine was flowing, conversation was wonderful, and we made lots of fabulous new friends.
A perfect dinner was topped off with a huge array of desserts from chocolate and mint covered matzah (oh.my.yum) to gluten free apple pie- we left very full and very happy!
Day 2 started early (even though we went to sleep super late- our excitement for a fun day in the city had us up at the crack of dawn)! Without hesitation, we hopped out of bed, got dressed and headed straight to our favorite bagel shop, Murray’s! I know I have told you before, but this place makes us happy- the bagels are fresh and delicious- perfectly chewy and topped with cream cheese. They have a huge variety of home made flavored cream cheeses…it makes it very hard to choose…but we went with a cinnamon raisin bagel topped with maple walnut cream cheese and two cups of super yummy coffee! The perfect start to the day.
From Murray’s we headed south to our new favorite part of town along the surprisingly peaceful Hudson River. We spent the morning walking around, sitting by the water, chatting and dreaming. When our tummies started to rumble, we headed to a little shop on the outskirts of SOHO, basically in Chinatown, called Xi’an. I have heard A LOT about this tiny little shop. They are famous for a dish called cumin lamb noodles…so, you know, we had to try it! The shop is itty bitty and manned by one person. Their menu is very small, but everything looked delicious. I ordered the tiger vegetable salad and the home made spicy tofu (I am a huge fan of tofu and I have never gotten to taste it home made before) and Gavin got the cumin lamb noodles.
All of our dishes were EXCELLENT. Far beyond expectation (and our expectations were HIGH). The noodles were freshly made, the lamb, perfectly tender and seasoned, and my tofu was so, so great! The tiger veggie salad was fresh and remarkably delicious. We WILL be back!
After lunch, we continued our walking around the city…we figured out later that we walked about 13 miles on this particular day….and then headed back home to get ready for a super fun evening! We were invited to our friend Rusty’s 50th birthday party in Connecticut. We boarded the train and headed out for what turned out to be a wonderful evening.
We were so spoiled with amazing food and again, the company of wonderful new friends. Rusty’s friends welcomed us with open arms- and an incredible spread of food. We started with appetizers (shrimp, smoked salmon, crab cakes, artichoke spread, flax seed crackers, spinach dip) and then moved on to the main event (yogurt marinated lamb, kale salad, cabbage salad and baked zitti. Dessert was not one, but four birthday cakes…it was quite an awesome dinner.
Though we got home super late- we were up early again with one thing on our minds- cookies from Levain. Levain’s in located directly across Central Park…about a mile and a half walk. The morning was lovely and our walk was peaceful. Levain did not disappoint. We ordered our usual double chocolate cookie and then went for something new- the chocolate chip banana pound cake. It was heavenly. Every single bite was heavenly!
From Levain- we continued our walking- and went to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods to stock up on groceries. I decided to make a few meals for our wonderful hosts to have after we left. I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking- and loving every minute of it!
If Gavin and I have a “spot” in New York, I think it would have to be Vanessa’s Dumplings. We found this little gem of a place about 2 years ago when we were wondering through Soho and crossing into Chinatown. This place is AMAZING- and unbelievably cheap…all of the food is made from scratch- absolutely wonderful- and between $1 and $4 per dish. We ordered way too many things and sat down for a feast!
Vanessa’s was a perfect way to end the day!
The next morning, we packed our bags and headed out for the bus back to DC…and then the train to the airport…and then the airport to MARTA…and then MARTA to our car…and then back home! By the time we arrived in Atlanta- we slept very well :)
Our last morning in DC was beautiful and sunny, so we headed out for a walk- fueled by the promise of amazing coffee at the end of it. Gavin and I both have a deep love for coffee…and when you go to DC and ask around about THE BEST coffee- everyone will tell you the same thing- “go to Peregrine.” So, you know, this was a “must do” for us!
We both ordered the cappuccino and sat outside to enjoy it. They use Counter Culture Coffee which made me really excited (more on this later)- and their cappuccino was great! A perfect way to start the day.
The last day of Q was really wonderful. Though we enjoyed every minute of it- we were ready for a few days to process everything that we heard throughout the week. After the first session, we headed to another much buzzed about lunch spot called Teaism. It was another 2 mile walk away and we were excited to see more of DC.
The reviews of Teasim were all pretty great…and everyone recommended that we try one thing: the salty oat cookie. I love anything with a sweet and salty combo- so that was the first thing that we ordered. It was a nice treat (though definitely nothing compared to Levain’s bakery in Nyc).
The rest of our meal, the “real food” was just ok. I really enjoyed my bento box, though I thought it was extremely over priced…but Gavin absolutely hated his burger (and he loves burgers!) It was super dry and flavorless.
So, after a sub-par lunch, we headed back for the last bit of the conference. The last session left us both feeling renewed and excited for the rest of our week (in NYC)!
After the conference, we walked back to our lovely hotel for happy hour…and it was a very happy and yummy hour, indeed! In the Tai Pan lounge, the hotel offers a gorgeous display of small plate dishes and a few selection of wine every afternoon. We decided to stop by the lounge before heading to meet some friends. As with everything else that we experienced at The Mandarin, happy hour was amazing.
I don’t know if its the overall abidance of the hotel, or the care that they seem to put into every dish- but this happy hour was just lovely, and a great time for Gavin and I to relax and chat after a busy week. Everything looked wonderful- so naturally, we basically got one of everything to sample. The star of this show was hands down the rice pudding. Anytime a dish inspires me to try to recreate it- I know that it was both unique and delicious. Rice pudding and I are good friends- I have loved it since I was a little girl. It is comforting and creamy…and usually packed with cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg. This was so different- but equally creamy and comforting. It was made with heavy cream, a little coconut milk and scented with lime zest instead of cinnamon. Oh my goodness, I will absolutely crave this dish until I try to make it again!
We had a lot of tasty adventures in DC- and then boarded the Bolt Bus for NYC…and even more tasty treats and great memories :)Posted on April 20, 2012 by LindsayTarquinio · 0 comments Read More