Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A Fall Weekend in NYC

With my best friend in New York, we try to get together a couple times a year. With six months gone by since my last visit to the city, I booked a trip for Columbus Day weekend to keep on track. On Saturday we ate vegan donuts, went to 'mommy & me' yoga with Jessica and Brian's two and half year old, strolled the farmers market, and went to a yummy dinner at Win Son (which was a little too dark for photos).

On Sunday morning, we headed to brunch at Sunday in Brooklyn (see IG for the giant malted pancakes we shared that you can see in the background). I had a yummy breakfast sandwich on brioche with eggs, avocado, cheddar cheese, breakfast potatoes, and gochujang aioli. I also had an amazingly fresh grapefruit mimosa and an iced latte.
Jessica and Brian pushed Emma in a stroller for a post-brunch walk in Domino Park. It was a little overcast but it didn't stop our exploration of the dog park, the fountains, and the incredible playground. The park is built on the river, right in front of the old Domino Sugar factory (which is being converted into living space).
After some naps and puzzles at home, we headed out to a little fall festival and then to Ops for some amazingly delicious pizza. We had an incredible salad, a margarita pizza. a Juno pizza with broccoli rabe, potatoes, provola, and ricotta salata, and a bottle of natural red wine.
After dinner, Jessica and I walked over for a drink at Featherweight, a little speakeasy in Brooklyn. I had the Trembler (Tromba Reposado Tequila, Lustau Vermut Blanco, lemon and blackberries), super yummy!
On Monday, we worked from Jessica and Brian's apartment and then she and I took the ferry out to Governor's Island where I lived from kindergarten through second grade. We got off and walked to the Collective Governors Island for our glamping adventure. I was last on the island in 2011 and it has changed a lot since then. There are still some remnants of my childhood around, so we rented bikes to have a better look after dropping off our bags.
The weather wasn't perfect but it was warm enough to enjoy some biking and hiking. Jessica took a picture of a family who wanted to return the favor, so we got this photo of ourselves with the Statue of Liberty and the Staten Island Ferry in the background.
There are many buildings still standing on the island that seem destined to make it, like the movie theater (and others that have been used for NYC Fire Department training). Thinking about growing up here brings to mind all the firsts in my life I had on the island - while it was only three years I learned to ride a bike, started elementary school (P.S. 26), used a computer for the first time in the school lab, joined my first group (Girl Scouts), was in my first play (the nativity play at St. Cornelis), made my first best friend (Erica Selavka), got our first pet (Duncan), lost my first tooth and sort of had my first kiss when Eric B. chased me around the playground and pinned me down and knocked it out trying to kiss me.
A peek inside our Summit Tent. 
Jessica ordering drinks at the bar, which is next to the dining tent.
Every night after dinner they start a fire and have smores. It was fun to sit around the fire in the glow of Manhattan with a group of strangers talking about what a "perfect" marshmallow is. We headed to bed early, as you do when camping, and had a solid night's sleep.
Here's our tent, number 23. After we woke up, we had breakfast in the dining tent which included real NYC bagels, so I was happy. I would highly recommend coming out for a night sometime soon - not sure how much longer it will be around.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Iceland - Days 5 + 6

On Saturday morning, we headed out for an Icelandic horseback riding experience with Íslenski Hesturinn. It was so amazing. We learned so much about the horses, most notably the fact that they genetically have two extra gaits - the tölt and the pace. Most horses only have three - walk, trot, canter. Maybe it's because I used to ride in high school, but this was super fascinating to me. You can watch this video to see what they look like. Brian can now check off horseback riding as a thing he's done!
After getting warmed back up with hot baths and showers, we headed back into the rain for some lunch at Supa (veggie and vegan soups served with the most delicious bread). I loved the painting on the front of their building and the little window nook with a table for one. I had the Malaysian soup - sweet potato, peanuts, tomatoes, onions, and ginger - it was so tasty!
After exploring the city on foot, we got ready and headed back out for dinner at the Fish Market. I started off with this incredibly tasty cocktail called the Dumbo which contained elephant sloe gin, yellow chartreuse, rose hip and lemon.
The amuse bouche was a delectable wonton with tuna crudo (served on a big rock). 
And then we moved on to the best veggie tempura I have ever eaten - perfectly salted and crispy - served with wasabi peas, wakame and jalapeno dressing.
We had sashimi (salmon, tuna, scallop, arctic char, ocean perch and sweet shrimp) that they poured liquid nitrogen into to keep chilled while we ate and the volcano langoustine maki - langoustine tartar with sesame oil, 7 spice and chili on top of maki roll with salmon and cucumber. Everything was so delicious!
On our last day, we woke up late and had breakfast before packing up. We walked around the city to see the Harpa (their performing arts hall) and the Sun Voyager. Afterwards, we headed to Hverfisgata for the most amazing pizza and cocktails. I had the "Who let the gin out?" which was divine - made from gin, tangerine shrub, lemon, carrots & honey, topped with a Fernet and lemon foam. Just incredible.
While this picture definitely doesn't do it justice, the pizza was so amazing - garlic oil, mozzarella, mushrooms, parmesan, and herbs. And the salad we had, so good - it had grass salad dressing, yum! We ate every smell!
Before heading to the airport, we stopped at Kaffibrennslan for coffees and traditional Icelandic donuts - the kleinur and the love ball (which is basically the same thing as the kleinur but with a few raisins tossed in). They were very dense and slightly sweet. Not my favorite but we had to try them out, obviously.

The trip was amazing and I would highly recommend heading to Iceland as soon as you get the chance. And, it looks like the direct flight from KC to Reykjavik might be sticking around for a little while, because maybe I was looking to book a return in May 2019, you know, checking for a friend. Take care and safe travels out there friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Iceland - Day 4 - Dinner Edition

We started off dinner at Nostra with a cocktail (Brian) and a glass of sparkling rosé (me).
The meal was six courses, although it was more with the amuse bouche (cheese and chives wrapped in radish), the tiny focaccia rolls (not pictured), and the tapioca and seaweed crisps (hiding out of focus in the background). The courses were paired with delicious wines from New Zealand's St. Clair Family Estate (now we definitely have to go back to visit the South island!).
The first course was tiny scallops in a cream sauce with basil oil (also, I am recalling most of this from memory as there was no written menu, so pardon my brevity or incorrectness, in case the restaurant is peeking here). I have never liked scallops, however, these were raw and delicate and I loved them.
The second course was raw shrimp and cod liver wrapped in radish, 
The third course was arctic char with accompaniments.
The fourth course was a barbecued carrot with pistachios.
The fifth (and main) course was torched salmon with chive oil and hazelnut and grilled romaine salad. The salad was particularly amazing.
The sixth (and final) course was a jasmine poached pear with white chocolate sorbet and verbena oil. Very delicious! Hope you're not too hungry now - see you real soon for the concluding weekend's recap.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Iceland - Day 4

We left our skylight shade open when we went to bed and in the middle of the night I thought I saw the sky moving. We got up and got dressed (twice actually) and headed outside to stare up at the Northern Lights. They were more white than colorful but they were still beautiful, dancing across the sky in the freezing cold. We woke up and headed down to breakfast. I thought the vintage tablecloths were so pretty and there was a different one on every table.
Sheep dot every landscape in Iceland. As the sun came up and we headed off to our next adventure, I had to jump out and take a photo of how they snuggle up to each other to stay warm. I also love how mischievous they are, often spotted outside the fences intended to hold them in.
We drove out almost to the end of the peninsula to hike down into Vatnshellier Cave, which is an 8,000 year old lava tube and the volcano behind me, Snaefellsjökull, is the starting point of Journey to the Center of the Earth. I was fully prepared with my helmet and a flashlight.
The cave has no lights inside, so our only source of light was our flashlights. The guide had a large light that could illuminate the rock formations for us to see, although not really enough to produce high-quality photos. This staircase was our last decent into the lowest chamber of the lava tube. At 11.5 meters, it had my knees knocking a little bit on the way down (still scared of heights, despite my recent ropes course victory) but I survived. The cave was super cool to explore.
Don't worry, here was our waterfall stop of the day - Kirkjufellsfoss. It was a little cold and cloudy, but we managed a quick hike around the falls for photos from every angle. I just can't get enough!
We stopped at a little cafe for lunch at Hotel Rjúkandi and I had this amazing lox and avocado sandwich on a toasted sesame bagel - yummy!
After lunch we had a little dessert - I had a dark chocolate cookie and Brian had a local concoction called Snaefell (after the volcano) of espresso, sweetened condensed milk, foam and cinnamon. I'm hoping to convince our local coffee shop at home to give it a try on their menu this winter.
We drove the rest of the way to Reykjavik, checked into our hotel (see my IG for photos!), and took a little walk to see the famed church Hallgrímskirkja. We didn't go inside yet, maybe tomorrow, but enjoyed the grounds and the sun.

Our dinner experience was so incredible, I am going to give it its own post, if that's okay with you! Coming to you tomorrow...

Friday, September 14, 2018

Iceland - Day 3

Before heading for our second overnight destination, we stopped at a few places along the way. Right around the corner from our hotel was the Reynisfjara Beach (black sand) and Hálsanefshellir Cave, which had more amazing basalt (see last post for explanation of that). I climbed up for a photo.
The next stop was Geysir, which is a bit touristy but still cool to see (I try to avoid the tour bus destinations but it's a small island - roughly the size of Kentucky). We were hiking around a little bit and I just happened to turn around and catch a geyser going off. Also, fun fact - Geysir is most well-known for having lent its name to geysers all around the world.
Not to be outdone by the waterfall sightings of the previous two days, Gulfoss did not disappoint (although I am not sure I agree with one website which claims that it rivals Niagara Falls). Also, the mist at this point was a bit thick, hence the slightly out of focus shot, but you can see a rainbow!
There was an awesome trail that went up and into the middle of the action - this is the back of the lower falls.
We drove quite awhile to get to Hótel Búðir which is situated on a lava field on the westernmost tip of the Snaefellsnes peninsula. This is the dining room where we had our best meal in Iceland so far.
I had the Sloe Black Death cocktail - Brennivin | Sloe Blueberry Gin | Thyme - which sounded quite bizarre when I ordered it, "I'll have the slow black death, please."
I also had the oven baked trout with two kinds of potatoes, fried kale in garlic butter, broccolini, and edible flowers. So yummy!
We shared the chocolate brownie for dessert - it was divine.
The view through the window of our room. We went to bed with our name on the Northern Lights wake up call list - fingers crossed that we'll have exciting tales to tell tomorrow!