The best meal of my life

This past September Adam and I left Maya with her grandparents and traveled to London for a few nights across the pond. When the Ravens first announced they were going to play in London, we joked that it would be fun to go. Then we found out they were playing on my 30th birthday weekend and one of the weekends where Adam has Friday off and everything fell into place – how could we NOT go, right?

I always thought the UK had a reputation for not having the best food, I mean, how much fish and chips can you eat? But Adam showed me several articles about London being a foodie destination and was able to convince me of the merits of the British food scene. He made two reservations for us at Michelin starred restaurants – Chez Bruce and the Ledbury. Chez Bruce was great, but the Ledbury was literally the best meal of my life.

We went for lunch as that was the only reservation we could get and I think that added to the experience – and meant we had the whole afternoon to walk off the multi-course meal!

We both had four courses – with Adam going with the chef’s daily recommendation and me picking one from each course section of the menu. Of course, we ended up eating so much more than those four courses. First, they brought out three beautiful amuse bouche – one was best described as a deer hush puppy, one was a parmesan crisp with a deer jelly and one was a seafood mousse on a seaweed crisp with roe. All three was served beautifully, tasted incredible and were a sure sign we were in for an incredible meal.

Next, they brought us chantilly of oyster with tartare of sea bream and frozen English wasabi. This was a first course option we were both considering and asked the waiter about but ultimately chose something else. They brought it out to us anyway because they wanted us to try it. What a treat! It was, of course, amazing and such a unique flavor: creamy, salty, seafood-y and ice cold. Such a delight and one of my favorite parts of the meal.

Then came our actual first courses: I had the white beetroot with English caviar and smoked eel. The beets were super delicious – shaved thin and a wonderful slightly crisp texture. I had a bite with the eel in it which was way too smokey for me, but the dish was an ample size so I had plenty non-eel parts to eat and just gave the eel bites to Adam and he enjoyed. Adam had yellow tomato soup with sorbet.

For our second course, I had warm bantam’s egg with dried ham and truffle. I at least partly chose it because I read the Big Red Barn to Maya every morning and there are bantam hens in the book. I slightly regret that I didn’t get the scallops with roast cauliflower which are more of a “me” dish. However, the bantam’s egg was delicious and probably lighter than the scallops which was good because there was so. much. food. Adam’s second course was cod with zucchini (or courgette as they call it in England – we had to google many of the menu items). The cod was, once again, beautifully presented and delicious.

For our third – main – course, I had lamb with tea-crusted eggplant. The flavor of the eggplant was a bit overwhelming, but the lamb was absolutely outstanding. Soft and perfectly cooked melt in your mouth meat. Adam had the fallow deer that was served with deer sausage. Not my kind of dish, but he really enjoyed it.

After our savory dishes came the sweets. I can’t remember exactly what this pre-dessert little bonus taste was  – something like cream and lavender sorbet and plum donuts. Light and yummy. Then, I had the raspberries with violet ice cream and Adam had fig ice cream with meringue. Both were incredible and just look at how gorgeous that raspberry dish is! Finally, they brought some little candies and truffles to finish off the meal.

Wow recapping it reminds me just how many wonderful and different flavors we enjoyed. Not mentioned were the bread and virgin cow’s butter (yes apparently that’s a thing). Adam had a beer, but I had been feeling a little under the weather so just had some orange juice and a hot tea. We were focused on the food – not the drinks! All in all, such an amazing experience and definitely worth the money for a special and memorable meal.

What’s the best meal you have ever had? Some of our best meals in Baltimore have been at Charleston and Sotto Sopra

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Weekend Recap (St. Patrick’s Day in Chicago)

Happy march madness everyone! NCAA tournament opening weekend is one of the best times of the year. Even though I didn’t have too much time to watch basketball, I did catch a few highlights including both Nevada games and subsequent live coverage of the coach and players celebrating in the locker room. After the first game, Coach dropped multiple f-bombs on live television and after the second game he entered the locker room bare chested with his shirt ripped off. This guy is hilarious. Also major props to UMBC for knocking off UVA! Baltimore County represent!

I’m going to say my weekend kicked off Thursday afternoon when I went to a march madness watch party at Rye Street Tavern. I munched on some incredible seafood – shrimp cocktail, ceviche, tuna tartare, and crab legs – and watched the first games of the tourney. Adam and I are dying to return to Rye Street for dinner but last time we tried couldn’t get a reservation. It is in high demand!

Not surprisingly, Friday night we watched more basketball and I made corned beef and cabbage in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. It was my first time ever cooking corned beef and it was easy and delicious!

The rest of the weekend involved a 24 hour trip to Chicago for work. My co-worker and I landed around 1pm and since our hotel rooms weren’t yet ready we took a long walk to see the green river and check out the festive crowds celebrating St. Paddy’s. We followed up our walk with brunch at the hotel. I had eggs, toast, sausage and potatoes which were all tasty.

Soon enough it was time to head to the United Center for the Bulls game. We had a few sponsor activation going on to encourage fans to be more green and energy efficient. We also had a suite at the game to watch the Bulls take on Lebron and the Cavs. My job is pretty great sometimes.

I was home by midday Sunday in time to do the grocery shopping and hang out with Maya and Adam.

It was a whirlwind weekend but a good one!

What did you do to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Travel Tuesday: Top Trips of 2017

Since I had Maya in January, 2017 wasn’t a huge year for travel, but between work and pleasure I did manage to go on a few quick trips that I thought I would recap here!

Chicago x 3

 

I traveled to Chicago for a friend’s wedding over Memorial Day weekend. This was my first night away from Maya and my first time in Chicago for fun (not work) since 2010 so I tried to make the most of it! I tried my first deep dish pizza (good but still prefer regular thin crust), went to dry bar for a blow out (such a luxury for a new mom) and danced my booty off at the wedding. I returned to Chicago a few other times throughout the year for work and got to experience courtside seats for a Bulls game and go on the field before a White Sox game. Chicago – I love you!

Bethany Beach

Adam, Maya and I joined Adam’s family for a few days at Bethany Beach in September. We had such a good time seeing Maya experience the sand and the ocean and spend quality time with her cousins. With three little ones it was a bit of a zoo in the best possible way. We even made it out for an early dinner at Off the Hook with the whole gang.

London

When the Ravens game in London aligned with my thirtieth birthday weekend, Adam and I couldn’t resist booking a trip for a few days across the pond. I hadn’t been to London since college and Adam had never been so we were excited to explore! We stayed in Paddington near Hyde Park which was a great location. It was super easy to access via train from the airport and we could take the tube with minimal line changes to everywhere we needed to go – including Wembley Stadium for the football game. The Ravens lost (badly) and I got a terrible stomach flu that hit during the flight home (every bit as horrible as you can imagine), but it was still a wonderful trip and was nice to enjoy a few days away just the two of us. Mostly we just walked everywhere – through Hyde Park to Harrod’s, down Portobello Road, and along the Thames around Westminster Abbey, Parliament and Tower Bridge.

South Carolina

For Thanksgiving we made the trip down to Columbia, South Carolina to spend the holiday with my mom’s extended family. We road tripped down with the baby and the dog which was A LOT and ended up spending a night on the road both times. Once we were down there though we had such a great time visiting with family and introducing Maya to all my aunts and cousins. We enjoyed the usual Thanksgiving feast and even got in a few hours of bridge.

New York

Adam and I left Maya with her grandma and squeezed in a night in New York City between Christmas and New Years. We had a great time walking through Bryant Park and exploring Morgan Library. We had an awesome dinner at Gotham Bar and Grill including a cocktail that knocked my socks off, an amazing seafood salad and the best pear soufflé. The next day we walked downtown to City Bakery for the most indulgent hot chocolate and had an awesome ramen lunch at Momosan.

Travel Tuesday: Athens Day 1

Last spring, I took an absolutely incredible trip to Athens with two of my best girlfriends and their significant others. They were already going to be in Europe and when they asked me to join them in Greece, I couldn’t say no. Mostly because it was just so affordable – flights on British Airways through London were fairly inexpensive and we stayed in a beautiful AirBNB  in downtown Athens for about $20 per person per night. I left Baltimore Thursday evening and touched down in Athens Friday afternoon where I hopped a train from the airport to downtown. Before long I was climbing the stairs to our third floor apartment and joining my friends for an amazing Greek adventure!

I was exhausted but eager to explore the city so our group headed out for a walk to dinner. The weather was PERFECT the whole time we were there. Pleasantly hot and sunny during the day and comfortable in just a cardigan or light jacket at night. The walk from our AirBNB took us through the National Gardens and we ended up at a vegetarian restaurant to appease our veggie friends. For my first meal in Greece I wanted something traditional and opted for the falafel platter – the first of many delicious meals! After dinner we had a couple glasses of wine at the apartment and called it a night.

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We were up early the next morning for a day of sight seeing but first, coffee. After a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs (with feta cheese!) at the house, we ventured to Coffee Island – a chain coffee shop that we saw throughout Athens. Coffee Island was the bomb – they made amazing frappes, had clean bathrooms and free wifi! Frappes are a nescafe drink unique to Greece and Cyprus – instant coffee, sugar and water are shaken to make a foam which is added to cold water, ice cubes, and evaporated milk. You could specify how sweet you wanted it and it was so, so good. I had one a day and have been craving it since coming back to the States.

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After our coffee fix we started our walking tour of Athens. We followed a walking tour in our Fodor’s guide book and started at the Temple of Zeus where we purchased a set of passes for 12 different landmarks. The giant columns are all that remains of an enormous temple dedicated to the god Zeus. The columns were so impressive and this was one of my favorite sights in Athens. Right outside of the Temple of Zeus is Hadrian’s Gate – an arch honoring Roman Emperor Hadrian built in 132 AD. This seems obvious, but we couldn’t help being awestruck at just how OLD everything was during our walks around Athens.

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From the Temple we walked to the Theater of Dionysus and then on to the Acropolis (which were two additional sites we had access to with our passes). All of the ancient structures were so impressive.The Acropolis was noticeably more crowded than the other sites but not too overrun with tourists as March is still their off season. The views were fantastic!

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From the Acropolis we walked down the opposite side in search of lunch. We found a cafe with outdoor seating and dined on chicken kabobs, tzatziki, fries and pita. We spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Athens in a popular area with shopping and restaurants. We took an afternoon break at a cafe to rest, use free wi-fi and refuel with coffees (and spiked hot chocolate) and desserts. For dinner that night we walked to Smile Restaurant. The menu was vegetarian friendly and super affordable (like most places in Athens). I had a Greek salad with an enormous slab of feta and a delicious moussaka.

By the time we walked home from dinner we were exhausted – it was quite a busy first full day of vacation!

2016 Year in Review

Happy New Year, Baltimore! Long time no blog, but in 2017 we will be back at it. To catch up real quick on what’s been going on, I’m here today with a year in review! See what happened in May that temporarily derailed blogging.

January – The first month of 2016 was bookended by travel – in early January, Adam and I spent a few days in Miami and at the end of the month I met my bff in Nashville for the NHL All-Star Game. Nashville is such a fun city and even though I was there for work, we managed to squeeze in some fun. Both the skills challenge and all-star game were a blast and Jessie and I snagged a pic with the Stanley Cup.

February – We celebrated Valentine’s Weekend with dinner at Brendali , made the trip to College Park to watch the Terps lose to Wisconsin and had a Galentine’s Day lunch at Cheesecake Factory. Work travel continued with a trip up to Buffalo for an event with the Sabres. Since it was my first time in Buffalo I had to see Niagara Falls and even though it was absolutely freezing, the falls were gorgeous and so impressive!

March – Obviously I was feeling the travel bug in 2016 because in March I flew to Athens for five amazing days with a couple of my best girlfriends. We ate Greek yogurt and Greek salads with tons of fresh feta, souvlaki, spanakopita, moussaka, octopus and it was all fabulous. We rented an AirBnb downtown and walked all over the city from the Acropolis to Lycabettus Hill. We took a ferry to nearby Aegina and rented a car to spend the day exploring. The whole trip was super affordable and we felt so welcomed by all of the Greeks that we met. Every morning we made a pit stop at Coffee Island (a coffee chain that’s probably the Greek equivalent to Dunkin’ Donuts) for frappes – an icy, sweet drink made with Nescafe instant coffee that I wish I could find in the US! Greece was clearly my March highlight, but I also did some fun things when I got back in town: Jeanette and I ran the Shamrock 5k and had a great time at Light City and Adam and I celebrated our first anniversary!

April – Since apparently I can’t stay in one place for too long, I flew to Chicago for a night in April for a Chicago Blackhawks game for work. The rest of the month was spent in Baltimore, celebrating Jeanette’s birthday and running my first 10k – the Sole of the City – completing one of my goals for 2016.

May – We packed a lot into May, we celebrated Mother’s Day, made a trip to the Maryland Zoo, saw Beauty and the Beast at the Hippodrome, and had friends over to watch the Preakness.  But, this particular May will go down in history as the month we found out we were expecting!

June – Most of the summer was a blur of morning sickness and exhaustion, but in June I celebrated the wedding of Adam’s cousin, ran walked the Baltimore Women’s Classic 5 and had a staycation at the Hyatt. June also marked the final blog post of the year because let me tell you, pregnancy is no joke and making it to work and home to bed was pretty much all I could manage.

July – Still not feeling so hot, but spent a week in Chicago for work including an afternoon of sightseeing in Millennium Park and dinner at Shaw’s Crab House. We also celebrated the wedding of friends at the Sheraton Baltimore. The ceremony was beautiful and we had a blast dancing and taking pics in the photo booth.

August – In August, we spent a week at the Outer Banks with my mom, soaking up the sun, drooling over Duck Donuts and playing miniature golf. We also spent a long weekend with Adam’s cousin and her boyf in Ocean City. People usually knock beach food, but we had a great dinner at Liquid Assets.

September – Back  to the beach, this time to Bethany with Adam’s family. We ate at Off the Hook (my fave kale caesar with a crab cake) and played more mini golf. Later in September, I celebrated my birthday with a few friends at Brendali followed by froyo at Afters. Brendali – with it’s no frills look and delicious food – was perfect for a festive group, especially since it is BYOB.

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October – The month of falltivities: Renaissance Festival, Larriland Farm and my cousin’s gorgeous fall wedding at the Homestead. I also spent a week in Houston for work and was finally feeling completely over morning sickness!

November – Celebrated Adam’s birthday with an amazing dinner at Charleston and spent a weekend in DC for a little baby moon. We stayed at a Marriott downtown and enjoyed great dinners at Zaytinya and Le Diplomate. We also made our first trip to the Newseum and to the famed Daikaya for ramen. We enjoyed Thanksgiving with Adam’s family and by the end of the month I had sort of almost recovered from the shock of the election.

December – Another busy month to close out the year! A weekend of showers with a bridal shower for one friend and a baby shower for another, two Terps games, a festive Christmas Eve dinner at Grano Emporio,  a visit to 34th Street in Hampden to see the lights and New Year’s dinner at Sobo Cafe.

And now here we are, January 2017 and baby due in three weeks! Hoping we won’t go silent for another six months and we’ll be able to update you all on our escapades in our favorite city.

Best wishes to everyone for an amazing year!