Friday, February 1, 2019

Eating Atlanta

After an evening flight into Atlanta, I met up with my colleague for meetings over breakfast at The Little Tart Bakeshop (which has a Revelator coffee shop that has excellent coffee but you must order separately, which was a little confusing). I resisted the amazing looking pastries in favor of this delectable fluffy soufflé-like, melt-in-your-mouth egg and cheddar biscuit. 
After making some good work progress, we walked around the corner to Six Feet Under Pub & Fish House. I had these incredible fried green tomato sliders with pimento cheese, red tomatoes and lettuce. It was so tasty!
After wrapping up a great day, Lindsey and I headed to Gunshow for dinner. The restaurant is super unique - it features nine chefs who make their dishes and then walk them to your table and you can either take it or pass. This roasted pear salad with butter poached salsify, yuzu curd, endive, and benne tuile was way to delicious looking to pass on.
We also said yes to the roasted cauliflower with caper-raisin puree and hazelnut vinaigrette...
...the "forest floor" of mushrooms, pistachio soil, hasselback potato, truffle, and parsnip...
...the Szechuan poached Maine lobster tail with cabbage, bok choy, chilies, and peanuts (it was SO spicy, my mouth was on fire!)...
...and the owner's grandmother's famous banana pudding, which was served piping hot and was AMAZING!
Since the Super Bowl is happening this coming weekend, we have been seeing lots of excited fans and important looking press passes. We stopped by a Starbucks for breakfast and discovered that the hotel was also a headquarters of sorts for Super Bowl things - the signage was neon and all over the lobby. I took a quick seat for a photo op.
After another great day of meetings, Lindsey and I headed to The Optimist for dinner. We had the nicest waitress and the food was amazing. We shared the tuna tartar, the beet salad, the burrata toast and the calamari. Everything was super flavorful and fresh and delicious.
We finished off with the chess pie with peanut brittle ice cream - it's stuff dreams are made of.
Not pictured was the most amazing falafel wrap from Aviva by Kameel, which is in the Peach Tree Center Marta station. It's the #1 ranked restaurant in Atlanta on TripAdvisor. We walked up to the line and Chef Kameel greeted us with compliments and delicious vegan minestrone soup. He walked up and down the line telling people that he loved them and passed out samples of soup and dessert. It was just the sweetest welcome into Chef Kameel's restaurant. I would HIGHLY recommend it if you're planning a visit to the city - I didn't get a photo of my falafel wrap because it disappeared pretty quickly. Thanks for joining in my culinary adventure. For more on the cocktail highlights, check out my Instagram

Friday, January 4, 2019

2019 Adventures Await

As I mentioned in my last post, I like to plan out as much of the year's travels on January 1 as I can. This allows me to set a budget and savings plan, gives me things to look forward to, and lets me know when I can plan things at home with friends/family (since I also travel monthly for work). This year is shaping up to be similar to last year, but the fall through the end of the year is virtually unknown. (And I also have enough miles to fly myself pretty much anywhere, which I try to reserve for a solo adventure, like my trip to Belize last summer. So I may try to carve out a trip to Panama or something south.)

People often ask me where I am headed next. Here's what I know so far:

Atlanta, GA (work): I'll spend a few days in hotlanta with some colleagues for some 2019 planning at the end of January.

San Francisco, CA (work): spending a week February in the Bay for meetings

San Diego, CA (work): speaking at a conference on a beach in February, yes please!
Denver, CO (personal + work): spending a weekend in March with Brian's grandparents in Broomfield, CO; Brian will head home Sunday and I will attend a conference in the city for a few more days.

Portland, OR (work): a few days in March with two of my teammates, prepping for one of them to be off on parental leave

Joshua Tree, CA (personal): my friend Dynasti and I will be taking Joshua Tree by storm in early April, and in a pick-up truck; so excited that we planned this out so early and check out our adorable Airbnb!!

Atlanta, GA (personal): I surprised Brian with tickets to a three-day music festival for Christmas - and since I went over our gift budget I combined it with his birthday (which falls a week after the festival) so it's perfect!

Seattle, WA (work): I'm attending a conference in May that I missed out on last year since it was already sold out when I found out about it - I am a bit paranoid about missing it again so I have the registration opening date on my calendar this year (#goals).

Toronto, Canada (work): our summer All Hands week will be in Toronto (pretty sure) and will mark the halfway point of progress at work for 2019.

New York, NY (personal + work): Brian attends a conference each June in NYC; I had a conflicting work trip last year, so this year I am going to try again to join him and work remotely during the day and hang out with Brian and friends in the city at night.

Singapore and Indonesia (personal): this is definitely the trip I am most excited about in 2019, although I will have to turn the big 4-0 in July to earn it. Brian and I will be taking a two-week trip to celebrate it in late summer.

London, UK (work): our annual work festival takes place over a week in October and is full of meetings and events; I may tack on a trip to Ireland or Paris afterwards for a few days of recovery.

I also have a couple of "unplanned but talked about" trips with my best friend (who is also turning 40 this year), another camping trip with Brian's family, the 7th annual lake trip to Arkansas with some of my grad school friends, and maybe a trip to Maine, if we can figure out a good time. Hope to see some of you out there! OH, and guess what else is coming up in 2019? The next blog winner weekend! Stay tuned (this current post is #599)...

Saturday, December 22, 2018

My 2018 Travel Superlatives

Whew, 2018 has been QUITE the year for me both personally and professionally. I have not slowed down to reflect as much as I should have as I have hustled to build out new opportunities at work, discovered new amazing places, and tried to stay connected to friends and family in between. I usually do a New Year's post where I lay out what's up for the next 365 days travel-wise, but I thought it might be fun (and good for me) to do a look back first.

I glanced back over my calendar and I have managed to take 25 trips for work and fun, including seven countries (five of them being brand new to me). My most popular destination was Canada with four separate trips there, which if you know me is an excellent thing - definitely love being up north! Also, another random fact, five of the countries I visited are islands (the UK is a big island, but still). Along the way, I picked up some new favorites and unexpected surprises. Here, in random order, are my 2018 Superlatives:

Best local getaway: Miracle at The Rockhill Grille, Kansas City, MO
So this place is actually part of a holiday chain of Miracle pop-ups all over the U.S. (and one in New Zealand and one in London) that started in 2014 but it finally made it to Kansas City. Decorated in nostalgic Christmas decorations of yesteryear, the drinks are surprisingly good. See if there is one near you and get there ASAP!
Most sobering trip: St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands
As the hurricanes hit the Caribbean in the Fall of 2017, I couldn't imagine how devastating it must be for the families that lost everything. When my clean-up crew was sent to this house, complete with very sturdy storm shields over the windows, I was struck by the power of nature and how fragile we are in it. There are still so many communities struggling through the aftermath of those hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, fires and more.
Best roadside attraction: Cabazon Dinosaurs, Cabazon, CA
Driving down a pretty uneventful stretch of highway from LA to Palm Springs and seeing these beauties pop up on the horizon, I mean, what's not to love? When our car of ladies rolled up, we were literally scream laughing - it was such a hoot to see.
Best new travel tech: Google Pixel 3
If you've hung out with me at all since mid-October, you might have caught on that I am a bit obsessed with my new smartphone, namely the camera. Between wide-selfies and night sight modes (stunning results above), it's fun to see what it can do. This photo is of the iconic Magic Kingdom, which I should note was one of my favorite nights of 2018 with my teammates. We ran around like little kids, going on rides, eating cookies, and watching Mickey's Holiday Parade.
Best design inspiration destination: Eindhoven, Netherlands
If you're looking for beauty in the world, you can undoubtedly find it in many places, but if you're looking for a high concentration of art and design, Eindhoven's maker districts are a fantastic place to explore. If I wasn't a carry-on only girl, I would have tried to take everything home with me.
Best ice cream: Wiz Bang Bar, Portland, OR
The rhubarb anise crumble sundae - amazingly delicious.
Most fearless fun: Aerial yoga (and the hour-long golf cart drive to get there)
I guess the whole trip to Belize falls into the fearless fun category. From flying on a tiny plane to an island I'd never heard of before booking a last-minute trip to snorkeling a reef with sharks and a boat full of strangers to the aerial yoga class above. It was a much-needed, centering trip.
Best cocktail: Who let the gin out?, Hverfisgata, Reykjavik, Iceland
In addition to having my favorite cocktail of 2018 (gin, tangerine shrub, lemon, carrots & honey, topped with Fernet and lemon foam), Iceland took a spot in my top five countries. I can't wait to get back there for more culinary and natural wonders! 
Favorite photo: Dean Village, Scotland
You know when you keep looking back at a photo you took because it doesn't even look real? Maybe it's just me? Anyway, this photo is my winner for 2018.
Favorite restaurant: Corvino Supper Club & Tasting Room, Kansas City, MO
As you know, if you are a regular reader, I love to eat and have had many delicious meals this year. I have to come back to my hometown favorite to round out my list of tops/bests/favs for 2018 with Corvino. Between the incredible cocktails, the amazing food, the live acoustic music, and cozy decor, I could eat here every day.

There you have it, some of my highlights from the year. As I look through my photos, I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to explore the world. It's truly a gift.

What are your favorite places, near or far, from the past year? Please share, I love discovering new spots. Have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Fall in the UK - Part III

After breakfast, we headed to the castle on the other end of the Royal Mile, Palace of Holyroodhouse where Her Majesty the Queen spends her summers. Because it's still in use, there were no photos allowed inside. However, along one side of the palace is Holyrood Abbey. While it's falling down a bit (and has no roof) I thought it was quite striking.
It was pretty chilly walking around so we headed to Bon Vivant for a cozy lunch. I had this yummy cocktail to warm up a little bit - The Chloé - Tea Infused Tanqueray Gin, Cocci Rosa Vermouth, Grapefruit Cordial, Citrus, and Rosemary.
I also had the vegetarian pumpkin chili with fried halloumi cheese and jalapeño cornbread.
If you are a fan of The Crown on Netflix, you might recall that the Queen, and Prince Phillip, sailed on The Royal Yacht Britannia. It is now a permanent museum that you can take a self-guided tour of (hence my handset above). It was super neat to see all the bedrooms and the galleys, and yes dad, the engine room.
I mean, this was a drawing room on the ship where the royal family played cards and did puzzles!
We ended our day with the most amazing meal at a Michelin-starred French restaurant called Restaurant Martin Wishart. It was so delightful, from the service to the atmosphere and of course the food and drink. We each had a six-course meal, although with the amuse bouche, the bread, and the tray of sweets was more like nine.

Everything was so delicious, especially the white truffle risotto with scallop, the cheese soufflé, and the bread (of course). The sommelier came around and consulted Brian and I on which wines he would recommend based on how many glasses we wanted in total, what we liked to drink in general, and then made the perfect pairings. He even got me to drink a port! It was the perfect end to our little getaway.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Fall in the UK - Part II

I don't normally double post on Instagram and the blog, but this avocado toast at Kilimanjaro Coffee was just too pretty to follow my regular "rules" with. We also had coffees with our breakfast while sitting in the window, watching people pass by.
After breakfast we walked to The Scotch Whiskey Experience for our Master Class.
Known best for the largest unopened collection of scotch whiskey in the world. Purchased by a single collector, Claive Vidiz, the collection features 3,384 bottles that date as far back as 1897, many of the bottles look less than full because of the "angel's share" - or the portion that evaporates over time.
Our Master Class was with two other couples and an instructor. We did a blind smell test - Brian won - learned how to properly taste (which isn't different than wine) and tasted four scotch whiskeys. Since it was 10am, we didn't get too crazy, I even left some in the glasses!
After the tasting we walked around town a bit and then walked about a half hour to Dean Village. Brian had heard it was great for picture taking and he was not wrong. This was one of my favorite photos that I took, I think it looks like a painting.
After lunch at a vegan restaurant, we headed to Edinburgh Castle.
I liked the Scottish National War Museum, the views from the top of the hill, and the prisons (I guess I have eclectic tastes).
The city below the cannons.
After dinner we headed out for drinks at Under the Stairs with one of my colleagues who was also in town with his wife. We had a lovely evening chatting and swapping stories. I had this pretty cocktail (that I slipped behind our table for a photo) - the Cactus Jack - ocho tequila reposado, prickly pear liqueur, basil liqueur, amaro vermouth, watermelon syrup, citrus. So good!