It’s always nice to find a new spot and fall in love with it! We decided to try Vol. 39 and walking it we appreciated the ambiance, definitely our vibe. Their charcuterie menu looked awesome but we had dinner plans for restaurant week, so we stuck to drinks. They had an extensive Old Fashioned list, and one that stood out was the Vol. 39, a $35 drink. I got a classic cocktail, and I couldn’t resist and he got the Vol. 39.
We decided to stay for a second round, and the bartender created a nice floral cocktail for me, off the menu.
We loved this spot and can’t wait to come back! I think the next time we are going to try the small plates.
Today I decided to make egg fried rice without rice. I substituted the rice with Green Giant Riced Broccoli and Cauliflower mix. They have a variety of different riced veggie combos, just use the one you want. The whole bag of “rice” has 80 calories! That’s what makes this recipe so healthy and low in calories.
Low sodium soy sauce
1 package of microwavable frozen mixed veggies
1 package of riced veggies
1 garlic clove
The prep time was about 15-20 minutes! Warm up the sesame oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and garlic and cooked it for about 5 minutes, turn down the heat right before the onion becomes caramelized. In a separate pan cook the riced veggies, this also takes about 5 minutes. Add the microwaved veggies to the onion/garlic mixture. Push this mixture to the side of the pan and use the other half of the pan to scramble 3-4 eggs (I used 3 this time). Once the eggs are cooked, add the riced veggies and add soy sauce to taste. I didn’t add salt to this recipe because the soy sauce is enough sodium for me, but if you feel you need to add salt, just salt to taste.
It is a very simple recipe and tastes amazing. We ate right away, but I am excited to make this again on a Sunday and use it as my lunch for a few days!
We always love to plan elaborate date nights, and we try to hit up as many spots as we can in one night. This time we decided to start at The Violet Hour. A speakeasy I have always wanted to go to. A friend had mentioned that it is quite inside, but it was surprisingly loud that evening, there was even loud music music playing!
Our next stop was dinner, we went to Pub Royale since it was in the same neighborhood as Violet Hour. They had good Indian food as well as Indian fusion food at the restaurant.
We started with an order with the vegetable samosas and the lamb dumplings.
For dinner we split the Pub Royale burger. It was a pretty good burger with spicy pickles and masala aioli.
The desert menu had chai tea dulce de leche donut holes, so naturally we had to order it, also one of the more popular drinks on the menu was a dressed up Hamm’s, which was an interesting twist on beer.
I absolutely love New York, it is a fun city to visit but I don’t think I would be able to live there. I think it is just too crowded and too busy for me. I decided it was time to have a quick weekend trip to New York. There were flight delays to New York, as per usual, and I was miraculously able to get on the 5:10 pm flight after work since it was delayed. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait for my 8:35 pm flight which had been pushed to 10pm!
I landed in New York earlier than anticipated, and was able to enjoy Friday night. I dropped my bag off at the hotel and met friends at Buddakan. The evening was filled with good food and good company.
We decided to continue the night and go out for 1 more drink at The Empire Rooftop. We were one of the only ones on the rooftop, it was beautiful. They had the rooftop enclosed for the winter so it was nice and cozy.
The next day, Saturday, was a beautiful and sunny day. I made my way to Best Bagel and Coffee in New York to get an everything bagel with jalapeno cream cheese. Later that morning, we met friends up for brunch at Baar Baar. The indian fusion food was one of my favorites from the weekend! I don’t usually like fusion restaurants, but they did a good job. There was also a DJ there!
The rest of the day we had a food and drink crawl around the city! Our first stop was Mr. Purple, on the 15th floor of Hotel Indigo in the Lower East Side. The ambiance was amazing, also there was a hot tub on the roof that hotel guests could use.
Our next spot was dessert! We decided to go to Stuffed for some ice cream + donuts! After dessert we went to Holiday Cocktail Lounge for another drink, it was a dive bar walking distance from Stuffed.
At this point, it was time for more food. We went to Artichoke Pizza. NO JOKE… this is my favorite pizza in the whole world! We got the original artichoke pizza as well as the vodka sauce pizza. Not sure which one I liked more actually. They were both amazing.
We had time for one more spot before heading back to our hotel, so we decided to go to The Belfry. It was beautiful in there, lots of mini lights and greenery. I had my first pickleback shot and it was shockingly good!
After The Belfry, we went back to the hotel and got ready for the evening. I met my cousin and her husband for dinner at Barbounia. We had a quick photo shoot on our hotel rooftop before heading to dinner. After dinner, we went to my favorite bar in New York, Park Avenue Winter. They seasonally change the inside of the restaurant, not just the decor, they paint the inside a different color! I have been to Spring and Summer as well and it is always so well decorated.
After drinks, we decided to meet our friends back up in Time Square. We went to Bar 54 on the Hyatt Rooftop. They actually just had installed heated igloos on their rooftop earlier that week. After that, we ended our night at Magic Hour before getting late night food and heading back to the hotel. The next morning, we met our friends up for brunch at Black Barn.
After brunch we decided to go hang out inside Restoration Hardware for the rest of the afternoon before heading to the airport. It was a great end to a wonderful weekend!
After coming home from Costa Rica, I wanted to take my sister out for her birthday since we missed Christmas Eve. She wanted to do a tea time so I decided to take her to The Allis in SoHo House. The Allis has tea time every afternoon. We decided to do the Sparkling Afternoon Tea. We got a tower filled with finger sandwiches, scones, a selection of fancy cakes, tea and a glass of prosecco!
After Tea Time, we kept the afternoon going, and went to a new bar down the street called The Darling. It was an adorable bar with great ambiance, and since we got there at 4pm it wasn’t too crowded.
A few weeks later we came back and I ordered the same drink I had gotten before, the Botanical Bees Knees. Ironically it came in a tea set since there is earl grey in the drink. We weren’t up in the ballroom that evening, instead in the library on the first floor located behind the flower wall. It was still a great atmosphere.
First off, there are 2 different kinds of donuts, cake donuts & yeast donuts. Then kind you have that are fluffy and light are the yeast kind that I tried. PSA: yeast donuts take so much longer to make because you have to let the dough rise.
1 cup milk (I used 2%, but you can also do whole)
1/4 cup/ 1 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp melted butter
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
canola oil for frying
2 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Warm the milk up, add 1 tsp sugar and the active yeast, let sit/ foam for about 5 minutes. In a bowl, mix the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, salt and add the yeast mixture after the 5 minutes are up. Slowly incorporate the 4 cups of flour and knead the dough until it is smooth. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise for about an hour. This will be a quicker process if you put the bowl in the warmest part of your kitchen.
After an hour, roll the dough into a half inch rectangle and punch out donuts. I didn’t have a donut cutter so I just used an empty can and a medal cap to cut out my holes. Leave the cutouts on a parchment paper, cover with a towel and let it sit for another 40 minutes.
Heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees and cook the donuts, about 1 min on each side. I cooled them on a cooling rack. I did 1/3 cinnamon sugar, 1/3 glazed and 1/3 glazed + sprinkles.
Who doesn’t love bread? I LOVE bread, and one of my favorites is probably focaccia bread. I made it for the first time, and decided I am never going to buy focaccia bread again, so much better homemade.
1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves (2 tsp minced garlic)
1 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp dry rosemary
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp honey
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
To make to oil: add the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary in a pot and warm on the stove for about 10 minutes. The oil should not get to a boiling temperature, just warm. The house smelled amazing in about 5 minutes, I just left it on the back burner on warm while I did everything else.
I used a large glass bowl, and added a the cup of water, honey and yeast together and let it sit for about 5 minutes while my oil cooled. I then added 1 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of the oil mixture into the water/yeast/ honey mixture. Finally add the remainder 1 1/2 cups of flour and salt to the mixture.
Knead the dough until it becomes a smooth texture, cover the bowl with a warm towel and let the dough rise for 1 hour. After an hour, preheat the oven to 450. Use a few tsps of the leftover olive oil to oil a 9×13 pan. Push the dough out into the pan. You can use your fingers to make craters on the dough. Pour the remainder of your oil mixture over the top of the pan. Let the pan sit for another 20-30 minutes before baking. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before cutting the bread.
I served the bread with honey/ ricotta as well as honey butter with black pepper.
I can’t wait to make this again when I make pasta! It would be a great combo.
After over a week of adventures, we were ready for the warm city of Tamarindo on the West coast of Costa Rica! We spent Christmas Day driving to the beach town. It took us about 4 hours to get there…fortunately we were in a private bus transfer with WiFi. Once we checked into our Airbnb we spent the afternoon walking around and exploring the city. We walked along the beach and enjoyed some street-side acai bowls.
We then ran into someone who suggested we go to Dragonfly Bar & Grill for our Christmas dinner. So after happy hour at our house we were off to dinner. The flavor of the food was amazing with a great vibe. We had the best time that evening!
We immediately knew that the food in Tamardino was going to be the best compared to the rest of our trip! We decided that we were going to try as many places as we could. The city is extremely tourist driven, and there are a lot of cuisines owned by people who migrated to Costa Rica after leaving their respective countries. The next morning we went to a place called Breaking Bread. We had an amazing breakfast with fresh bread, the owner comes in at 4 am and bakes every morning.
We spent the rest of the day at a pool club day drinking at Langosta Beach Club. We enjoyed the whole day in the pool with drinks and a beach view!
We were having such a wonderful time while at the Beach Club, we decided to stick around longer and order food poolside. We actually had decent sushi and seafood for lunch that afternoon.
Most of our late afternoon and evening was spent resting and relaxing at our house. There were still so many different places we wanted to eat, but ultimately we ended up at La Baula for some brick-oven pizza.
After pizza, we went to a bar under our airbnb called Sharky’s to watch the Bulls game. That next day was our last in Costa Rica so we wanted to make the most of it. First, we grabbed breakfast across the street at Cafe Tico. Then we decided to relax at the house pool, just to get a little bit more water fun before our trip was over.
After our time in the pool, we went to Falafel Bar for lunch. The food was amazing, and the homemade sauce was so good we brought some back to Chicago! After lunch we went to Sol for frozen yogurt.
Then we were off to the beach after ice cream for our final sunset in Costa Rica! This was bitter sweet because it was our last night and we missed our home and our puppy!
The boys wanted to do their own thing that night, so my cousin and I went to Bamboo Sushi Club for dinner.
The next morning we got acai bowls from the same spot as the first day, and then we were off to the airport. We had Priority Pass, so we just hung out in the lounge until it time for our flight. Costa Rica was a wonderful time with wonderful company. Truly a trip to remember, but I don’t know if we would ever go to Costa Rica again since it’s so far. I’m glad we did a 12 day trip, so we could see everything we wanted in this beautiful country.
Our transfer from La Fortuna to Monteverde was “jeep-boat-jeep”. OH BOY were we in for a treat. Little did we know this was going to be the biggest, most unforgettable adventure of our lives. We got on a bus which was going to bring us to our boat, which kept driving along the coast with no dock in site. News for us…there was no dock, the boat was just pulled up on shore and they threw our luggage on for us and we were on our way across Lake Arenal. The view of the volcano as we drifted away was absolutely breathtaking. We thought we were in a Jurassic Park movie in that moment.
As time passed the water was getting a little choppy as a storm was rolling in. The sky got darker, the wind was picking up, and we were getting anxious because we wanted to get off the boat before the rain started. We slowly approached an inlet where there was a wooden stool AKA our dock! There was no one there to help us with our bag, so we had to lug our luggage up a gravel path to charter buses waiting for us. This is where the adventure actually began. The rain began, and we quickly realized that the gravel road the bus was parked on was going to be the road for the rest of the journey. This was probably the most terrifying ride of my life. We scaled the mountain edges in a charter bus, and often the tire was inches away from the edge…hundreds of feet above the ground below. I think my heart rate was 180+ BPM the whole time. Finally we were about an hour away from our drop off point when we got Costa Rican coffee at sunset.
We got to our drop off point pretty late and our airbnb host drove us up the the highest peak of the area where our rental was located, in Rainbow Valley. It was so dark and windy up there we had no idea where we were until we woke up the next morning and saw the breathtaking views.
The first thing we had planned that morning was a coffee tour at Don Juan. Who knew that coffee beans came from what looks like a red berry that grows on a bush! We learned so much on the tour, not only about coffee, but also chocolate and sugar cane.
After the tour we decided to go to lunch in town. We picked a local spot called Sabor Tico, with more authentic Costa Rican food. The food was very good.
We got back to our airbnb just in time to enjoy our first sunset at the house and it was beautiful. Pictures don’t even justify how amazing the sunsets and sunrises were.
After the sunset we went to Ristorante D’ Thomas to have a nice Italian dinner. Monteverde, as well as the rest of Costa Rica was very tourist driven. Their whole economy basically runs on tourists, so they had a lot of different restaurants. Everything from Italian to sushi places.
The next morning we were off to Selvatura Adventure Park to hike some hanging bridges. It was beautiful, another instance where pictures didn’t do justice.
After a long morning of hiking we were off to a cute brunch stop called Orchid Coffee Shop. Turns out, there was one in La Fortuna and we didn’t even know.
Later that night we went on a night hike to see the creatures that come out at night. We saw a sloth and a poisonous viper among other creatures that are nocturnal. We definitely went out of our comfort zones that night.
After our night walk we decided to try a taco place that we had passed earlier that night. It was called Taco Taco Taqueria. We spent the evening enjoying some Mexican food, which was pretty good. They even had beer flights with a surprisingly extensive beer list.
The next morning we were just going to go explore, with no real plans in mind. We first stopped for breakfast at the lodge down the road from out rental. The lodge owner told us to check out Sky Adventures Monteverde Park, where we could see more hanging bridges and take a gondola ride up into the mountains above the clouds. It was an excellent recommendation!
Afterwards we had definitely worked up an appetite and we were off to a restaurant called World Street Food. Sounds better then it was. Their fryer was unfortunately broken and they couldn’t make a number of things on the menu. Their service was also slow. Later that night we enjoyed our LAST sunset in Monteverde over a bottle of wine and had dinner at Sabor Tico again since it was one of our favorite food spots in Monteverde. It was a perfect Christmas Eve!
Our final morning we were able to see a breathtaking rainbow with the moon as we walked down to the lodge to wait for our transportation to our next stop: Tamarindo!
We went to Costa Rica with my cousin and brother-in-law this December and it was definitely a trip to remember! I am going to split my post into 3 entries since we went to 3 different areas of Costa Rica. We landed in Liberia, Costa Rica after a long day of travel that started at 4am in Chicago, along with a layover in Texas. After a long customs line, we were greeted by our driver and some Imperial Beer (the local beer we drank the entire time we were in Costa Rica). We then began our 3+ hour journey to La Fortuna and our resort, Tabacon Thermal Resorts & Spa.
Our first stop on the drive about an hour away from our resort was a COFFEE STOP! We stopped at Cafe & Macadamia. Our first of many Costa Rican coffees – pura vida! (a common local saying that means “pure life”).
The sun set, and we were still about an hour away from the hotel. We were so thankful we decided to hire a driver at this point. All the roads in Costa Rica pretty much look the same and there were no street signs anywhere, but the drivers just knew where to go.
Our hotel was beautiful, absolutely breathtaking. On a clear day, we were able to see the Arenal Volcano from the hot springs. The naturally created thermal baths were very relaxing and warm! We would venture out in our hotel robes to enjoy the natural hot springs everyday.
We spent every morning drinking Costa Rican coffee and eating fresh fruit with a beautiful view. For lunch that day, we ventured out to a local place called Red Frog Coffee Roaster. It was one of our favorite places on the whole trip.
We were able to explore the town that afternoon and check out a bar and local pizza spot for dinner. Costa Rica was very big on pizza, but I think they were just catering to tourists.
The next morning, we were off to repel off waterfalls. We took a bus ride to the pick up point where a jeep picked us up and took us to the start point of the excursion. Little did we know, we were doing more than repelling. We were cannonballing into water, walking through rivers waist deep and zip-lining! It was too late to turn around, we were all in! The experience was unforgettable.
We also got an authentic home cooked Costa Rican meal after the excursion, which was well deserved. We were hungry after all that repelling! That evening, we went to a nice dinner at Don Rufino.
The next day, we decided to go on a sloth tour. We were able to see 4 sloths during our tour!
Later that afternoon we had spa dates at the hotel. Probably one of the most relaxing experiences I have ever had!
Our last evening was spent going to a chicken place called Pollo Fortuneno, a rotisserie chicken restaurant popular with locals. Then we ended the night eating gelato.
Our last morning in Arenal was spent exclusively at the beautiful resort. We woke up, and had our usual breakfast and walked around the resort. We then spent a few hours at the pool before we had to check out of the rooms and wait for our transport.
Next stop: Monteverde! We really enjoyed our time in La Fortuna, but we were ready for the next part of our trip!