Friday, September 28, 2012

St. Andrew's, Scotland

When we mentioned to our friends and family that we were headed to Scotland, we kept hearing that we had to add a visit to St. Andrew's on the itinerary. I'm so glad we listened.

St. Andrew's is closely synonymous with golf thanks to The (British) Open

Originally, the Swilcan Bridge was used by herders to move livestock over the small creek (pre-golf era). In 2010 Tom Watson made this bridge famous by bending down and giving it a kiss as he crossed over to the last hole in his presumed last play of the Old Course at St. Andrew's.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Vino Volo

If you like to travel or have been in and out of airports in the past couple of years, you may have noticed a new hot spot has popped up.  Since our families are located across the country, we do fly frequently, and find Vino Volo to be a great escape in an otherwise escape-proof atmosphere (let's face it, once you pass through security, there's no turning back!). 

Airports are insanity - lots of people rushing around, announcements over head, the stress associated with flying, etc. When you pop inside a Vino Volo, it feels almost like you've stepped into another world. The uncomfortable steel benches are replaced with cozy leather chairs. The overhead announcements are replaced with jazzy music. There are delicious tasting tapas, instead of the fast food frenzy, and a friendly glass of wine is always on its way (they'll even package up some bottles for you to take aboard your flight, which does help calm the nerves).

Last time we were passing time on a layover, we heard that they were thinking about expanding "outside the box". Literally. And so I was not completely surprised when I was walking down the street the other day and saw that they are indeed expanding outside of airport limits.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's Officially Fall

While many go by Labor Day marking the end of the Summer, technically the almanac marks September 22nd as the first official day of Fall, which makes it my favorite day of the year for two reasons.

I love the Fall.  I love the crisp mornings with that slight coolness to the air that wakes you up and opens your eyes, even before that cup of caffeine.  I love the warmth that comes throughout the day, sans the humidity, making it the perfect weather to take a walk.  Then the colder air creeps back in later in the day for a snuggle up in the evenings.  It's heaven on earth, divine.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

Happy 1st Year Anniversary to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace! And cheers for many more anniversaries to come. 

As with the other favorites in the Black Restaurant Group, the Oysters on the half shell are the freshest, quality oysters.  Don't worry, if you aren't a big raw oyster fan (yet) - I'll admit that it took me a while to warm up to the idea - there are plenty of cooked oyster appetizers that are a must.  Try the Angels on Horseback, or the classic Oysters Rockefeller.  Delish.

As far as Entrees go, you can't go wrong with any of the Gumbos.  And the Crawfish Etouffee is the closest you can get to the real deal, without floating on down the Mississippi.

Here I do not recommend passing on dessert. Totally worth it. They really know how to make a magical ending. Especially the Bourbon infused Pecan Pie. Man, my mouth is watering. A-m-a-z-i-n-g. Don't believe me? See for yourself, and then we can talk.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy

A.J. Jacobs has attracted (and kept) my attention before with The Know-It-All, a book about his journey reading through the entire Encyclopedia Britannica.  Sounds boring, right?  But it's not. A logical initial reaction to the concept would be, oh great, this guy takes the information and begrudgingly regurgitates it word for word, one boring statistic after another. Actually, that couldn't be farther from the truth.  In his books, A.J. tells a story, mostly the story of his life, while on the side, providing new interesting facts on the specific subject at hand. Genius. But after all, he's Mensa.

Well, this spring, A.J. brought us a new treat - Drop Dead Healthy. Again, part of the joy in reading his books is his certain style, and that he tends to go to extremes. So here, he declares that he is going to be the healthiest man in the world. Quite the quest, huh? It's hilarious.

The book is full of interesting tidbits like eye exercises, hand exercises, and those that obsess over them. He tries the caveman diet and the cleanse diet.  He provides us with reasoning as to why we shouldn't make our beds in the morning (although I can't help but still do it).

My husband has already made his way through A.J.'s The Year of Living Biblically, which I'm sure is pretty self-explanatory. It is on my ever-expanding list of "must reads" that seems to continue to grow no matter how many cover to cover sessions I attempt. Still, I find that any A.J. Jacobs book is one worth finding the time and "dropping" into.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

DC Big Flea

It only happens four times a year, and we call it - the Big Flea. Merchants from near and far gather just outside DC for this 2-day extravaganza. And, for a nominal fee, you too can become a picker seeking out treasures galore. It's not your average flea market.

We've had the pleasure of perusing through the Big Flea a couple of times over the years and below are some of the lovely items that we now get to admire on a daily basis:

Look closely at the trunk... You can still see the name of the original owner that used the trunk for its actual intended purpose of travel, how cool! The vendor that sold us this trunk said that the more prosperous travelers would have a curved shape lid to ensure that when the trunk was stowed below, their luggage would remain at the top, as opposed to the flat top trunks that were stacked beneath one another. Crafty.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mayfair & Pine

*** UPDATE: Mayfair & Pine has unfortunately closed as of March 27, 2013. ***

We had mixed feelings when our beloved Town Hall hopped up the hill to a new location (now well understood, and thankful for the bigger space), but the opening of the vacant space made way for a new establishment to be introduced to our city. With that I give a warm welcome to Mayfair & Pine.

Igniting the palate, each diner is first greeted with bite-sized buttermilk biscuits, so satisfying to taste. Somehow these little wonders can be both dense and flaky at the same time. Cooked to perfection and melting with just the right amount of sweetness on your tongue. Off to a great start...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Homemade Apple Pie

Apple season is upon us, so it is that time of year for me to share my secret (no-longer) to making the perfect Apple pie. It is 100% made from scratch, which means heads up - a two day process, but it makes for a masterpiece of which you can be truly proud to serve to those deserving guests. Evolving in my kitchen over the past few years with some trial and error involved, and working in bits from other recipes, this recipe calls for a little bit of extra time, work, and dedication, but the end result is truly worth the extra steps. I hope you will agree...

Starting with the Dough (Day 1):
2 cups of Flour
1 Tablespoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of water

Friday, September 7, 2012

DC Brau

Locally brewed, locally packaged, and locally distributed.

In April 2011 Washington, DC welcomed its first production brewery in over 60 years. DC Brau has gained popularity amongst its Washingtonians and tourists alike.  But, while the beers can be found in many of the local restaurants, liquor stores, and markets, they are grabbed up as soon as they hit the shelves, so when you see it, grab it. There's no time to think twice!

Since many of the beers come in the form of either can or keg, how befitting is this greatly creative glassware?!

Interesting beer factoid:  Apparently, brewers prefer the can because of two main enemies:  oxygen and UV rays. According to an insider, ideally DC Brau would package all of their beers in cans, but because they are a microbrewery without massive production, they have to put some of their seasonal selections in 22 oz. bottles for cost efficiency.

My favorites are their classics - The Public, The Citizen, and The Corruption. Have you tried DC Brau yet?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Red Bottom Shoes

In case you missed it, today Christian Louboutin officially earned his trademark ... just love those red bottom shoes!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Newport, RI

Having grown up sailing (correction, riding on a sailboat while Dad captained and crewed the boat, thanks Pa!), I have always had an appreciation for the open waters and its docking ports. After taking my first trip to Bermuda, it further reiterated my love of the life of a sailor and desire to visit well-known boater destinations. So, it was with much anticipation that we made our way up to Newport, Rhode Island, a popular port known for its naval influence.

To get there, one must drive over the Newport Bridge, which is one of the highest bridges I have ever encountered. Here I must admit that I have an awful fear of heights. But today, I can successfully say that I no longer have to pull the car over and ask someone else to drive over the bridge (sure, it took four visits, but I finally got there). I have conquered my fear of heights! Well, okay, maybe just pertaining to this bridge...