Monday, October 28, 2013

San Francisco!

As you read this, Brian and I are flying back to the East coast! Last week, Brian flew out to Seattle, then down to California for work and I flew into San Francisco for a work meeting for a few days. It worked out REALLY well that we were both able to coordinate our schedules and in addition to working, we spent one night in San Francisco and two days/ one night in Napa!

I had never been to California before, so I was really excited when I found out I'd be coming here for work and knew that I had to make the most of it. I took a really early flight in to San Francisco last Wednesday, so that I'd have a couple of hours in the afternoon before it was time to get to work.

The flight was so long and it felt good to get out for a run.

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The hotel was fairly close to the Embarcedero- the eastern waterfront of San Francisco. I jogged over and was greeted by a great view of the Bay Bridge. 

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Some large scale public art and palm trees. This ended up being a great place to run because I didn't have to deal with traffic, and I made it here every day I was in the city.

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My plan was to run up to Fisherman's Wharf and find the sea lions, but I had no idea where I was going. The docks and boats provided some nice views.

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The Alcatraz Tours were really popular. Since it was the afternoon, a ton of people were out and around the tour boats it got a little too crowded to run.

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The island looked cool and I think if i had more time in the city I would try a tour.

When I went out to take these pictures, I knew that sea lions were close. You definitely hear them before you see them! they are quite loud. I actually went out one pier too far, but I could see them!

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There were two just playing around near the pier I was out on.

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And then I headed over to check out the whole gang.

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They were really cute and so happy looking. Check out this big guy:

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And, for the most part, that was my San Francisco experience! I worked through Friday and then Brian and I went out to dinner in the city with a friend at an Indian restaurant (delicious, why don't we eat Indian more often?) and then headed up to Napa bright and early on Saturday morning.

More to come!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Kiawah: Days 5 & 6

I planned for my last Kiawah post to go out while I'm working in San Francisco! Check back next week to see how that trip went.

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Our last full day in Kiawah was Friday, and we planned to stay on the island and have a low key day and dinner. We followed the plan and it was such a nice, relaxing day.

We started out with some beach time.

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It looks gorgeous, but it was chilly. I actually only really went in the water on the first two days, and the last day. Once you got in, it was fine, but getting in was the hard part. The rest of our beach week consisted mostly of taking walks and reading in the sun.

After we had our fill of the beach, we biked over to Freshfields, a little town center area with the grocery store and a few shops. Before we left, Brian asked if I wanted to drive. I thought he was being ridiculous. Then after an hour of biking there, I realized that it was WAY farther than I remembered. Luckily, I had plans to splurge a little while we were there so the bike ride was probably a very good idea. Just FAR.

We went to Java Java to get some lunch.

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It's a really cute little coffee shop with yummy sandwiches.

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I had a Caprese panini. They always give you an orange slice and a quarter of a muffin, which is very delicious and brownie-like.

After lunch, it was straight to the main attraction.

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ICE CREAM. Can you have a beach vacation without it? I loaded up on this cone with cookie dough bites (donated to Brian), brownie and fudge swirl. I wish I had another one right now. Every time I eat ice cream I remember how much I love it.

We took a pit stop on the way home and got really close to this bird.

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Then we had another light dinner of veggie tacos. Eating light on the nights we weren't in Charleston was key to not overdoing it on this trip!

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On Saturday morning, we woke up really early to try and catch the sunrise before we headed back. We threw on some clothes and started the trek to the beach. About two minutes in we heard a rustling in the bushes in front of us. Out onto the path walked a GIANT alligator. Like it was nothing. He came out of the path on one side, about 20 feet ahead of us, and walked on the path for a few seconds before going off into the bushes on the other side. By the time I recovered from shock, it was too late for a picture.

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As you can imagine, we decided to take a detour to the beach. The gator was just sitting right there next to the path.

By the time we got close, the sun was up and it was cloudy so we decided to go back and check on the gator.

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As we were walking on our detour route, I look to my right and there he is!

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Oh, HEY big guy.

He was close to an area with a lot of people, it was the parking lot in the back of a resort on the island and there were a lot of staff around so we alerted them to what was going on. They told us they were going to have to call security to relocate him and we hope that everything went alright. We really love the alligators, but there was just too much of a risk with him being so close to so many people. Lots of guests walk their dogs on these paths and I can imagine that this guy would eat a little dog in one bite.

It was a pretty exciting way to end the week though! We finished up a quick breakfast by adding eggs to our leftovers from the night before.

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Then it was on to the airport. I can't believe it's already been over a week and that we're a year away from another vacation :(

Still, it was so wonderful and we are so grateful to have had such a fantastic time!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Kiawah Day 4

Thursday on Kiawah was beautiful. The weather was a little cool in the morning, and then nice and beach-y in the afternoon. We started with a bike ride to check out some of the houses and animals on the island.

First up:

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Look familiar? It's one of those HGTV Dream homes. They built one on Kiawah Island and Brian and I tried SO hard to win it. But, we did not, so we just look in from the outside. 

We also saw what we voted to be our favorite house on the island.

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Isn't that such a gorgeous Southern home? I love all of the porches down here! In the north, we have patios and decks, but in the South they have porches. 

Saw some 'gators, too.

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Checked out a few new sites.

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We went somewhere new every day on the bikes and it never got old.

Then, we ate some lunch (I was starving so we ate it at the condo and without any photographs) and went to the beach. 

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Can you see the dolphin in the photo? There were a bunch of them out there, but it was SO hard to photograph. I did my best photographing from the beach and then zooming in. It was really fun to see, they swam all the way across us until they were out of view.

We also went out for our last dinner that night and headed back into Charleston to eat at Slightly North of Broad. Apparently, they also go by SNOB, but please don't let that stop you from going because the food was so, so great.

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The restaurant is owned by the same company as High Cotton, where we went the day before, but it's a little more informal.

I started off with a salad special with hazelnuts, goat cheese, melon and duck confit.

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Incredible! It reminded me how much I love hazelnuts (they went really well with the duck) and I ended up adding them to my lunch salads the following week.

Brian had a crab cake and said that this was the best first course of the trip.

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For my main, I ordered up the classic shrimp and grits. 

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Wow. There was so much food. In addition to the shrimp, there was sausage and some ham. I was worried that it might be too spicy for me, but it really wasn't at all. Just so. much. flavor. I ate a ridiculous amount and mopped up that broth with some cornbread.

Brian's duck was pretty awesome as well. We ordered a side of sautéed spinach, but didn't finish it because the portion sizes on our entrees were so generous.

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I went 'light' for dessert and chose creme brûlée. Lighter than a chocolate cake, right?

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It was so good. I ate every bite.

The most exciting news was that I didn't fall asleep after dinner! It was so impressive. I made it the entire car ride home. It probably helped that this was our earliest dinner of the week, but I was still proud that my food coma held off.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Recovery Week

Let's take a break from all of the Kiawah recaps to catch up a little! Our vacation was wonderful, but as you can tell by the past few posts, it was very food-centric and we did not hold back at all while we were there. We stayed active with a  few runs and lots of bike rides, but other than that it was lots of rich food and delicious wine.

How do you bounce back from that? Vegetables. Here was our menu last week:

Roasted veggies and a rice pilaf. Roasted butternut squash is my favorite thing to eat in the fall so there was a delicious helping of that along with some Brussels sprouts and carrots in a balsamic dressing.

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Next up was a wheat berry risotto with butternut squash and kale. I used frozen kale for this dish, which is a great bargain. I always go fresh for the kale chips, but you can save money without noticing a difference by using frozen greens in casserole-type dishes. We topped this with a vegan Brazil nut parmezan. It was an easy mix of Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, lemon and salt. Both of us really liked this- it totally gives the same texture and flavor as parmesan cheese. I predict I will be making it a lot- and it holds up really well in the fridge.

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We didn't love the wheat berries though. I was okay with them, but if you're expecting a risotto, just go for the real deal. These are chewy!

I made a batch of pita earlier in the week, and we had some pita paninis with roasted sweet potatoes, peppers, spinach and pesto. These were so delicious. I saw a sandwich with sweet potato on Instagram earlier in the week and knew I had to have one. 

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That night, I also made a butternut squash soup to have for dinner the next day because I had a Junior League meeting at night. Are you noticing a pattern with the squash? Brian did! We might be taking a week off of squash...

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Kale chips on the side!

On Friday night, we had some fun visitors in town… but more on that in another post! Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Kiawah Island: Days 2 & 3

Tuesday was our rainy day on Kiawah. We slept in until 11 AM (that's something I never do!) and then got up for another long bike ride.

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We found another tower that we'd never been to before and checked out the view.

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So pretty. Then we tried for another selfie. Brian and I are NOT good at these. They usually take about five attempts before we can get one with both of our eyes open and an unblurry picture.

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We also went back and saw one of our alligators again.

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And, home for a super easy dinner- pasta and shrimp.

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On Wednesday, we went to Charleston!

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First stop- Market Street Sweets for some pralines.

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I ate both of those pralines and they were delicious.

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Are we getting any better at this yet?

Next up was wine. We went to Bin 152.

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Great location and great wine. I think the number of options for wine by the glass were a little limited and they were kind of pricey ($12- 15ish) in my opinion.

We still had some time to go, so we walked over to ANOTHER wine bar. It was a good day.

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O'hara and Flynn. They don't have a website, and this place was a little more old-fashioned, but we both agreed that this place had the best wine of our whole vacation. It was delicious! And then, it was time for dinner.

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High Cotton is hands down our favorite restaurant in Charleston. The food is amazing. I always get the pork chop and it is always fabulous.

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Fried green tomato salad to start, then that incredible gigantic pork chop and finally, pecan pie. The pie was SO pecan-y. If you ever want a nice night out in Charleston, please go here. It's one of the more formal restaurants, but perfect for a special occasion. Or anything. I don't need a reason to go here!

Again, I fell asleep on the drive home. Food puts me to sleep.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Kiawah Island: Day 1

Yesterday, Brian informed me that I wrote two posts about the same day. Whoops! I forgot about that post that I wrote on my phone really early one morning (the morning below!). Luckily, if you are reading this you are probably my mom or Brian and won't let that mistake stop you! So, anyway…

Our first full day of vacation started off with an easy breakfast.

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Followed by a walk to check out some more wildlife. Lots of birds!

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Oh, and some lovely spiders.

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They don't kill spiders (even these MONSTERS) because they kill bugs. Gag.

We were really looking for alligators. I guess because we're both from New York, where there aren't a lot of alligators. Most everyone else didn't care about the alligators like we did!

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None on this walk, so it was time for the beach and lunch.

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A storm was coming in and so we headed in before going back out for another alligator hunt.

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Success!

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We also checked out one of the towers on the island. It's such a great place to explore and be outside. As a city-dweller, I really enjoyed it. The island was pretty empty because it was mid-week during the off season so we really had the paths and towers to ourselves for the most part. 

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Gorgeous views.

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The whole ride was awesome.

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Then, it was time for dinner at Husk in Charleston. It's about a 45 minute drive from Kiawah to Charleston, but so worth it for the incredible, amazing, wonderful food. 

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The restaurant was really cute with a farm-to-table focus, so you could see where everything came of which is always fun. I think it was nothing north of Virginia and nothing west of Texas.

I started off with some pimento cheese.

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It was amazing, but SUPER rich. Brian and I split appetizers… but, his wasn't much lighter.

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Fried chicken skins. Good heavens. 

We managed to work our way through to the mains. I had catfish and grits.

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This was really good, but I wasn't a huge fan of the pickled vegetables on top. Luckily, there was a ton of food so I just didn't eat them! Grits are fun. Kind of like polenta? 

Brian's main won. Hands down. Chunks of pork shoulder packed around pork belly.

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I had one bite- again, really heavy and rich, but one of the best things we ate all week!

Dessert went undocumented, but it was like a custard/ pecan pie combo. Such a winner.

We both enjoyed this restaurant a lot. It wasn't exactly casual, but the atmosphere was fun and our waiter was great. They have a full menu of bourbon, so if you're into that this would probably be a great place to go!

We left happy and full. I fell asleep in the care on the way back to Kiawah. No surprise there, I guess. I tried so hard! Good thing Brian was the DD :)