A Weekend in Chicago

The Windy City has plenty to offer, especially during the holidays with fun displays full of festive cheer.  From art and shopping to food and culture, there is so much to enjoy!  I recently got my city fix in for a weekend, and it was honestly the perfect little itinerary for a short and fun getaway.  While I am nowhere near an expect on the city, here is where I suggest you eat, shop and explore in Chi-town.

Shopping

The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Ave is the place to go for shopping in Chicago.  Being one of the most famous streets in America, the glamour doesn’t disappoint.  Glitzy designer flagships align the street among large global chains and huge department stores, meaning there is something for everyone.  The window shopping is first class too!  For the holidays, the street is all decked out with fun little displays outside, in addition to amazing window decor from the designer stores.  I was there on Black Friday, and although crazy, the hustle-like atmosphere from the crowds was exciting and exhilarating, almost like out of a Christmas movie.  All of the department stores are worth checking out and, while not as large as their NYC counterparts, stores like Bloomingdales, Saks 5th Ave and Nieman Marcus prove to be alive in the holiday spirit.

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The scene at night of Michigan Ave on Black Friday

Perpendicular to Mich Ave is Oak St. which houses more designer stores, among nicer brands such as Barbour, AllSaints, and Madewell.  The area serves as a bit of an escape from the crowds of Michigan since it’s a little less grand and a little more quaint.  I recommend walking in and out of the surrounding streets to explore more of what’s around off of the high street.

Art

It is easy to make a day out of the Chicago Institute of Art and Millennial Park since they are right next to each other and I would 10/10 recommend doing so!  I was surprised at how vast the collections were at the art museum.  They literally have every sort of art imaginable, all wonderfully curated and displayed with countless masterpieces from artists of every time period.  Besides the more famous American art and impressionists collections that everyone goes to see, the museum has a super cool gallery of European armor from as early as the 7th century.  I can be a bit of a history nerd, so I found the display extremely interesting and well done.  They also have an exhibit of miniature rooms, like doll houses, that show scenes from different time periods and locations.

Down the street from the museum is the classic instagram famous mirrored sculpture otherwise known as the Bean.  I really wanted to check out the bean for the soul reason of getting a picture, but I ended up being more fascinated in it than I thought I would be.  Yes, it is touristy and crowed, but that is all apart of the fun and allure.  The shape of the sculpture creates many different illusions with the bean-shaped mirror that changes at every angle and location.  You can move anywhere around and you’ll get a totally different shot.  It also reflects a beautiful and well-positioned image of Chicago’s sky line, making it a delight for both tourists and locals alike (and of course insta-worthy!).

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Food

Like any major metropolis, Chicago has a wide range of cuisine and food specialities.  I’m honestly not a big deep dish fan (prefer NY pizza for sure, sorry Chicago), so I opted for other indulgences such as donuts.  Stan’s Donuts is a serious must try.  They are located right on busy Michigan Avenue, but have 8 other locations throughout the city with their cute little cafe-like shops also serving coffee and gelato.  I tried the nutella banana filled donut and the blueberry cream cheese pocket donut which were both amazing.  Honestly though, all of Stan’s array of classic and unconventional donuts looked fabulous (I’m that person that would try everything); I doubt you can go wrong.

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I checked out Eataly Chicago which was the first time that I’d gone to an Eataly.  Eataly is a food concept department-like store that specializes in imported authentic Italian food with the idea that food is a celebration and an essential part of culture.  The first stores started in Italy and they are now in many major cities around the world with Chicago being one of four in the US.  The indoor market has different stations serving up Italian specialities such as gelato and made-to-order cannolis.  There are different casual restaurants and many bars that allow you to “bar-hop” throughout Italy.

For a fun Sunday brunch, Luxbar in the gold coast neighborhood is classic and fun with signature entrées and delicious almond croissants.  And for a nice dinner, Brindille proves to be a fantastic dining experience with decadent and modern french cuisine.  Honestly, the highlight of the meal are the amuse-bouch potato beignets which taste like ridiculously good tater-tots.  The desert menu is also spectacular with options such as a plate of freshly baked cookies that will make you feel like a little kid on Christmas.

Culture

Both the Willis tower and the Hancock tower offer impressive views of the city and a different perspective from above.  You have to take a picture at the sky deck on top of the Willis tower.  Little clear capsules perturb out of the building making it seem like you are suspended above.  It is a little frightening, but super cool to look down (people with a fear of heights: beware).

Walking around the city during the holidays is an experience in itself, but to really get your Christmas fix, head down to Lincoln Park and see the Zoo Lights.  Every year from Black Friday to Christmas, the zoo puts up an over the top display of lit up animals and trees, complete with light shows to music.  It’s totally free and fun for everyone.

Your Guide to Scottish Cuisine (What and Where to Eat)

My trip to Scotland brought me all over the country which allowed me to experience a wide range of cuisine and foods.  Scottish food is underrated.  People seem to associate the “only” quality British cuisine with London, and while London is a huge culinary capital, Scotland is overlooked, especially as they provide so much industry and agriculture to the foodie world.  Take smoked salmon: the delicacy is a favorite in much of the world.  The best smoked salmon?  Scottish smoked salmon, fished straight out of the North Sea and prepared to perfection.  I recommend eating all that you can if you find yourself in Scotland.  And that isn’t all.  Scotland is known for its meats and game, along with cheeses, seafood and hearty breakfasts.  If you want to know exactly what foods to try, check out my post for Spoon University here! 

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Great places to try across Scotland:

Luigi’s (Dornoch, Scotland):  Dornoch is a tiny town up in the Highlands with a world famous golf course that attracts people from all over.  The best restaurant in the town is Luigi’s which is an excellent Scottish/Italian/seafood restaurant serving fresh oysters, lobster, and pasta.  The seafood here is amazingly fresh, and this is definitely the place to try fabulous North Sea oysters (which are, by there way, delicious).

-Boath House (Nairn, Scotland):  Boath House is a hidden gem; slightly off the beaten path, but wonderfully rewarding.  It has a very Scottish menu with most ingredients coming from the estate or nearby farms.  Everything taste extremely fresh and high quality.  The duck was one of my favorite dishes that I tried in Scotland since it was prepared perfectly and served with amazing foie gras.  The smoked salmon is also a thing of beauty.  Boath House is considered one of the top restaurants in Scotland outside of a major city and it is easy to see why.  It’s a great find and a great experience.

Scran and Scallie (Edinburgh, Scotland):  I talked more about this restaurant and the next one mentioned in my previous post about Edinburgh, but it’s worth mentioning them again due to their impeccably high quality Scottish food.  Scran and Scallie is where I tried haggis, a momentous occasion, and it is also where I had these dedacant savory pies.  You have to try haggis at some point, and a gastropub is the perfect place since they prepare in a gourmet fashion.  Scottish savory pies are really delicious in the most comforting of comfort food ways.

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The Wedgwood (Edinburgh, Scotland):  The Wedgwood is one of the top restaurants in Edinburgh, but what makes it really great is that they make an effort to serve true Scottish cuisine in a gourmet setting.  Ingredients include foraged mushrooms, Douglas fir pine, venison, pigeon, and sea spaghetti.  They put on the ultimate display of Scottish food to showcase the potential it holds.

Tail end (Dundee, Scotland):  You cannot go to Scotland without having fish and chips (unless you’re vegetarian, of course), and although the classic dish can be found in any pub, I recommend seeking out more contemporary chip shops that specialize in locally sustainable fish.  Tail end in Dundee does just that.  They take great pride in their “handsome halibut” and their delicious homemade tartar sauce.  The place is cute and trendy, making it the perfect spot to enjoy true Scottish seafood.

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-The Drouthy Cobbler (Elgin, Scotland):  Another mandatory experience in Scotland is going to a pub.  They are everywhere, but it can be a little difficult to a find a really good one that truly cares about the food they serve.  The Drouthy Cobbler is a little known hidden place in the small town of Elgin.  You can’t even access it from the main road, finding it instead in a little alley way.  The atmosphere is quaint and trendy but still feels pub-like and they serve solid Scottish food like smoked trout and salmon, sausage rolls, and bangers and mash.

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A Foodie’s Guide to US Bank Stadium-Home of Super Bowl LII

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The glass walls of US Bank Stadium reflect the glistening Minneapolis skyline in the background while entrapping the sheer excitement of fans.  Even on a normal game day, the atmosphere is one of grandiose amazement.  I can only imagine what the stadium will be like on February 4th.

While the newly completed stadium is a sight to behold, the experience of attending a game is not second best.  Local eateries and chefs have put in a great deal of effort to curate to fans for the ultimate game day experience; one that is still overpriced, but one that will not make you feel like peeling over from eating too many crappy nachos at the end of the game.  One thing is certain, the stadium and the NFL will be pulling out all the stops for the big game.

Most older stadiums tend to serve only overpriced deep-fried American “classics” which don’t always settle well in the stomach.  While chicken fingers and nachos are typical, and they are available at US Bank, most of the food in the stadium is thankfully pretty gourmet and tasty.  With changing eating habits and an emphasis on healthier foods, American fans are sick of the classic hot dog and beer combo.  Celebrity chef and Minneapolis native Andrew Zimmern, who is revolutionizing game-day food through his successful restaurant stands in Minnesota stadiums, said that “People expect better food these days” and “We put our best foot forward, not despite the fact that it’s a stadium, but because it’s a stadium” (The Star Tribune). It’s true.  The food is still overpriced, but I know that I’m personally much more willing to pay more for something that I’d actually like than something that I’d never eat out of a stadium.

Here are some of the best foods found at US Bank Stadium.

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The roasted chicken sandwich at AZ Canteen.  This booth is one of Zimmern’s ventures and serves up many different carnivorous options that are sure to delight any meat lover.  The chicken was juicy and tender while tasting great with cajun spices.

 

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Smoky Chicken Nachos from Twin Cities Foodie.  These serve as an upgrade to the fake cheesy classic nachos that seem to have embedded themselves into stadium fare.  They are spicy but flavorful.

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Fried Chicken Sandwich from Revival.  I guess that chicken seems to be a common theme, but it is so good at the Stadium.  Revival is a popular Minneapolis-based southern fried chicken restaurant that has transferred their well-known chicken sandwiches to the football stadium.  This was my favorite as the fried chicken was paired perfectly with mayonnaise, tomatoes, and pickles.  Also available in Tennesse-style hot (tasty but a challenge to finish).  Delicious!

 

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Frozen Hot Chocolate from AZ Canteen.  This unconventional desert is a must try for a chocolate lover.  I would describe it as a frozen chocolate mousse paired with white chocolate covered cereal on top.  It is sort of like ice cream, but better than what stadium ice cream is usually like.

 

 

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Bomboloni from AZ Canteen.  Ok, this canteen place is really good.  I feel like anything there would be worth a try.  Before the game, my family shared these beignet-like donut holes for breakfast.  They are just as good as they look and sound!

Overall, the best places…

  • AZ Canteen:  Gourmet meat sandwiches and bbq along with unique desserts and drinks.
  • Revival Fried Chicken:  Fried chicken exemplar, enough said.
  • Minneapolis Foodie:  Focuses on gourmat food options that are targeted to more sophisticated fans.
  • 612 Burger Kitchen:  A classic burger stand serving well-made burgers with fries and tots.
  • Curds ‘N Cakes:  If you really want to pig out, indulge in some fabulous beer battered cheese curds.

Find out more here

 

Inside the Newest, Most Insta-worthy Twin Cities Coffee Shop- Cafe Astoria

Not even established enough to have its own website, Cafe Astoria sits at an unassuming street corner, across from a hospital on St. Paul’s Grand Ave.  However, Cafe Astoria isn’t your typical independent neighborhood coffee shop that tends to inspire the basic minimalistic cup of a Millenial’s dream.  The coffee, which is the farthest thing from minimalistic, is attracting people from all over the cities (particularly teenaged and young adult girls) with its golden, rainbow, over the top creations that scream “I have to post this on my Instagram story!”.

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The café opened this past spring, intending on becoming just a small local shop for the downtown St. Paul neighborhood.  When pictures of the coffee started to surface on social media, everyone started to head to St. Paul to check out the hype.  The place is perfectly made for social media, and from a marketing standpoint, platforms, such as Instagram, have worked wonders for the shop, skyrocketing its popularity while continuing to curate towards the internet.  They have already needed to expand the shop to fit the overflow of customers.  Cafe Astoria has a typical menu of artisan drinks, both cold and hot, but then, there is the secret menu which contains creations such as the 24K Gold Latte, the Campfire Mocha, the Rainbow Matcha Latte, the Crême Brulé Latte, and the Rainbow Mint Mocha.  All amazingly beautiful; it is difficult to take the first couple sips of the drinks out of sheer fear of messing up the designs.  However, the taste of the coffee and the subtle sweetness allow for a very enjoyable experience.

  • Rainbow Matcha Latte: A nice sweet mix of warm green tea and milk.  The colors of the rainbow drinks change every day, so one day the drink could be blue like mine and pink the next day.  Either way, they are beautiful and unique.

  • Campfire Mocha:  Just imagine a s’mores turned coffee and you have a Campfire Mocha!  Great for chocolate lovers and anyone craving something fun and sweet.  Just look at that giant marshmallow!

  • 24K Gold Latte: A wonder to behold.  I mean who doesn’t want to drink eatable gold leafs?  Boujee and beautiful, the 24K Gold Latte is what made Cafe Astoria into what it has become.

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Coffee aside, Cafe Astoria has a great insta-worthy and trendy menu that is perfect for both breakfast and lunch.  The signature smoothie bowls are swoon-worthy art-pieces full of fruit, seeds, and great flavors.  Healthy and delicious, they have 4 different kinds ranging from “Beehive” to “Berry Berry”.  In addition, the café offers both savory and sweet crêpes which truly makes the place feel like a modern Parisian café.  They are very simple but definitely hit the spot for a quick meal.  There are also homemade pastries, including great scones, as well as sandwiches and an elaborate list of funky oatmeals.

  • Smoothie Bowls:  Full of fresh ingredients and nutrients, these bowls are just as pretty as the coffee at Café Astoria.  The super trendy health craze is thanks to a lot of Cafe Astoria’s popularity (other than the coffee) since people are clamoring to try the newfound smoothie bowl concept.
  • Crêpes:  Try classics such as banana with Nutella or any of the delicious savory sandwich-like options.  Make the trip down to St. Paul to relax, drink a fancy-schmancy coffee, eat a crêpe and a smoothie (if you really want to go all out), and enjoy.  Instagram crazy or not, either way, Cafe Astoria is a greatly enjoyable experience where the visible appeal of the food is just as important as the taste.


 Address: 180 Grand Ave
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CafeAstoriaSaintPaul

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Exploring London Part 3: What to eat

Here I am, at the last stage of sharing my trip to London, and lamenting the fact that it is already October.  Personally, I believe that London food is very underrated.  I question why it has a bad rap when I look at the amazing diversity of quality food and restaurants the metropolis has to offer.  Seriously, why does everyone roast British food when it holds the distinction of creating Fish and Chips and Afternoon Tea Time, two of the most amazing things ever invented, among other classic additions to culinary culture (Beef Wellington anyone?).

Being a mega european financial center, giant tourist destination, and mecca for performing and fine arts, London has a vast array of great restaurant options.  You can practically find anything you want in the city.  This being said, it might be hard finding places that truly capture the local culture of the city.  I did extensive research to find restaurants that were unique and original British eats.  Below are some suggestions on what and where to eat while visiting the amazing city.

Breakfast:

  • Duck and Waffle (In the Heron Tower): There is nothing quite like eating a fabulous brunch on top of a skyscraper while gazing out at the city of London through transparent glass walls.  From the moment that you are whisked into a restaurant owned glass elevator, you know you are about to have a one of a kind breakfast.  Be amazed at the view while you enjoy freshly prepared unique breakfast food.
  • The food ranges from a traditional scrumptious english breakfast to a spicy ox stuffed donut.  The donut is a most try.
  • The Greek yogurt was some of the best I have ever tried.  I had the honey one which was coated with honey comb along with other sugary sweets.  The pastry board was a worthwhile starter.
  • The view from the restaurant.  Be prepared to be amazed.

Tea:

  • While a lot of hotels offer fine afternoon teas, it is always fun to try something a little out of the ordinary.  I am personally convinced that tea time is the greatest invention by man, so for me, I will enjoy anything with the name tea in it.  However, if the stuffy tradition is not your forte, an unconventional choice such as the Mad Hatter’s Tea is a fun way to enjoy the english specialty.  Located in the avant-garde Sanderson Hotel’s courtyard, you will truly feel like you fell down the rabbit hole upon entering the vicinity.
  • The fun interior of the Sanderson, which makes it a very subtable location to host an Alice in Wonderland themed tea.
  • The tea leafs are presented in little flasks to help you smell what tea you want before ordering.  The flavors are very flavorful and unique.  Brought to you on a tier, the little candies and desserts are shaped into fun themed items such as mushrooms and hearts.
  • The tier also has the cute little savory bits and the “drink me” potion, a tiny sweet strawberry purée and marshmallow drink that looks as trips as it sounds.  Fresh scones accompany the tea with the traditional pairings of preserves and clotted cream.
  • As a special endings to the tea, you are given a flower pot filled with chocolate mousse and edible “dirt”.  Also pictured is the teapot that the tea comes in.

Lunch:

  • Because of my hectic nature and desire to see a lot in a limited time, I didn’t really have actual scheduled lunches while in London.  Instead, I ate at “pit-stop” like places while shopping which included places in the food halls of two great department stores.  In London, the department stores take selling food to a whole new level with in store cafés, and freshly prepared to-go items.
  • Fortum and Mason has a great little place nestled in the back of their famous food hall.  You overlooks the aisles of tea and delicacies while enjoying classic British dishes such as gravlax smoked salmon, scotch eggs and welsh rarebit.  The place is perfect for a quick comfortable eat while in the middle of hustling and bustling around the crazy high streets.
  • The food halls in Harrods are known world wide to be immense and extravagant. They are also very convenient if you need a quick pick me up while roaming the overwhelming collection of clothes the store has in stock.  I got a smoke salmon and cream cheese “pillow” and a roast beef and cabbage salad to go, along with multiple elder flower sparkling cordials.  It is a super easy delicious place to grab gourmet food on the go.

Before dinner drinks/bar:

  • The Shard is the tallest building in western Europe while being a architectural wonder to the London skyline.  There are many restaurants in the building, in addition to a luxury hotel.  There is also a high end bar near the top of the building that provides some of the best views of the city.  The gourmet cocktails are all designed to represent a famous movie director and their movies.  There is a Harry Potter cocktail for David Yates, along with two floating neon colored Star Wars ones for George Lucas.  It is fun to check out all the funky creations while enjoying the breathtaking view of London from up high.

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  • The Wingardium Leviosa from the Director’s Bar.

Dinner:

Amaya- An Indian Restaurant

  • Due to the heavy influence of Indian culture in England, London plays host to some of the best Indian food outside of India itself.  Everywhere you look there are different types of Indian restaurants, and you really cannot go wrong.  It just depends what you are looking for.  The Indian place that I went visited this time was a very contemporary fine dinning place called Amaya.  It is the sort of place where the Indian community goes for special occasions, and locals and tourist go to experience a high level of Indian cuisine.  The dishes are not totally what you expect from an Indian restaurant, but every dish is extremely tasty and beautifully prepared in the visible kitchen.  The atmosphere is dark and chic, making pictures slightly difficult…
  • Freshly prepared paneer (Indian cheese) with seasoning and a ton of flavor.  A traditional Indian dessert that was simply amazing.
  • Smooth and creamy grilled goat cheese with pomegranate purée.  Deliciously prepared grilled oysters in a creamy curry sauce.
  • Naan (otherwise known as the best bread ever) comes with a beautiful selection of curries and sauces.  A plain yogurt Lassi which is a delicious sweet drink.  At Amaya, it comes with eatable flowers on top.
  • It should also be known that Amaya had literally the best Biryani I have ever had.  It came with a sweet yogurt pomegranate sauce, and it literally melted in my mouth.

Bellamy’s- A classic French, with British influences, bistro

  • Bellamy’s is a small local bistro that echoes a traditional Parisian fine dining experience.  Very popular with the locals, it is a simple place that serves very well prepared traditional fare in a classic old-time setting.  The place also takes on the claim to fame of being the Queen’s favorite restaurant.  It’s easy to see why since it’s a bit hidden and out of the way.  This is a place where people dress up nicely for a good solid meal.  It was really refreshing to see everyone in semi-formal clothes and suits to enjoy dinner, something that is unfortunately hard to come by in America.
  • The dimly lit interior of the restaurant echoes an old-time feel with pictures of movie stars, and classic french posters.  A simple but divine split pea soup.
  • I chose to eat a classic meal of oysters and foie gras.  Both were excellent with the oysters being very fresh, and the foie gras being paired with apricots and great bread.

Harwood Arms

  • I had an amazing experience at Harwood Arms, a gastropub located in the quite residential neighborhood of Fulham.  Again, this is clearly a place that locals know of and cherish.  The place is very unassuming, being located in a cute little blue building, and having a very British pub like interior.  However, Harwood Arms is the only pub in London to hold a Michelin star, a premier distinction that guarantees a special dining experience.  The atmosphere is different, but it is very refreshing to experience high quality food in a classic casually British atmosphere.  What is more, the pub distinction makes for a more reasonably priced Michelin starred experience than most restaurants that share that distinction.
  •  As you can see, the atmosphere is very open and welcoming.  As bread, the Harwood Arms serves homemade Irish soda bread with gourmet butter that is to die for.  It’s a great start to dinner.
  • I personally adore Scotch eggs in general, but the venison one at the Harwood Arms was one of the best things I have ever eaten.  If you go here, make sure you order one as a pre-starter.  It will seriously change your life.
  • The bar is very eclectic at the Harwood Arms with a big buffalo head perched up on the wall beside it.  For an appetizer, I had the trout tartare which was brilliantly prepared with vibrant colors.  It tasted amazing.

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  • One of the desserts that I tried.  It was a brown bread ice cream with scotch whisky jelly and raspberry.  It sounded very weird, so naturally I had to give it a shot.  It was surprisingly delicious, and it kind of tasted like bread pudding in ice cream form.
  • Another dessert that was simply amazing.  I had the lemon curd filled donut holes with earl grey cream, enough said.  For my entrée, I had the pork belly which was covered with bacon marmalade and apple.  It had to have been the best pork I have ever tried; prepared to perfection and extremely tender.
  • I also tried the beet salad with goat cheese which tasted like summer, and the Cornish sole which was tasty and light.

Well, there’s that!  All the great places I ate at in London.  I hope you enjoyed this guide full of great suggestions from the British capital.

  • Duck and Waffle: https://duckandwaffle.com
  • Mad Hatter’s Tea: https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/originals/originals-sanderson-london/eat-drink/mad-hatters-afternoon-tea
  • The Shard: https://www.the-shard.com/restaurants/
  • Harrods: https://www.harrods.com/en-gb
  • Fortnum and Mason: http://fortnumandmason.com
  • Amaya: http://www.amaya.biz
  • http://www.bellamysrestaurant.co.uk
  • Harwood Arms: http://www.harwoodarms.com

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Great new places to try in Edina

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Entrance at Coalition

Yes, I know that I’m moving across the country in a week, but that doesn’t mean I cannot rave about some great new food joints in my hometown.  This summer in Edina has been bustleing as 3 very popular restaurants have moved in.  A lot of recent hype has acquired from the new residents, making the summer exciting and lively.

 

Ole Southern: An up and coming chain based in Hayward, Wisconsin; this traditional bbq is an off-branch of Famous Dave’s.  Ole Southern’s focus is on creating real authentically prepared meat.  The menu is simple, full of different kinds of meats which you can pair with sides such as a delicious mac and cheese, and barbecue rice.  The meats include ribs, pulled pork, brisket, chicken, and hot links.  They can be by themselves or in a sandwich complete with a mouthwatering soft bun.  The atmosphere is very reminiscent of a casual-fast type place with an order-at-counter system, making it ideal for takeout.  If you do choose to eat in, it is a fun vide with tables painted as American flags and country music playing amongst strings of lights on the ceiling.  I’m personally I’m not a big fan of ribs and I always thought that bbq was pretty much just ribs, so I didn’t know what to expect from Ole Southern.  I was so surprised by how much I loved the brisket that it has completely changed my mind about bbq.  If you are in the mood for some good old meat, Ole Southern will hit the spot!

 

Coalition: Among the bustle of popular restaurants nestled along the 50th and France area is a new addition to the overwhelming choices that downtown Edina offers.  Coalition is a refreshing classic gourmet american place that offers a variety of foods for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  The menu and its namesake is based off the concept of bringing a bunch of local food providers, bakeries, and farms together to create a vast and tasty menu that is sure to suit many preferences.  I’ve eaten at Coalition for both breakfast and lunch.  The breakfast puts a good twist on classics such as pancakes and french toast.  I tried both the pineapple upside down pancake and the vanilla crème french toast.  Both were divine.  In addition to the comfort food options on the breakfast menu, the restaurant gives you these amazing cardamon donut holes to start.  They come out fresh, warm, and, most importantly, delicious.  For lunch, the menu is pretty straight forward with a section for starters, salads and sandwiches/burgers.  The apple brie salad is super tasty and refreshing, while the chicken cheese biscuit sandwich hits the spot if you’re in the mood for some hearty food.  It seems like you cannot go wrong with anything at this nice casual newcomer.

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The clean simple interior of Coalition.  

 

Town Hall Station: Situated at the location of an old independent gas station, Town Hall Station is a creative “stop” to go and “refuel”.  They even kept the old vintage gas sign, making the atmosphere feel nostalgic for a day long gone.  The restaurant might strike an outsider as an old-time diner like place, but it is, in fact, a bumping hip hangout joint complete with a full service bar and great atmosphere dinning.  The menu is not what you’d expect, as it features a lot of Southwestern cooking, in addition to classic burger creations.  The nachos are exceptional as a starter, and if your feeling the Tex-Mex, they have loads of taco options.  The burgers are spectacular with their signature one really standing out.  It features two patties full of briskets and covered with cheese for a juicy creation.  The vibe is super fun, service fast, and food good.  What else could you ask for when you want to have a good time!

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The fabulous pulled pork nachos which are completely soaked in queso!

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The old time feel is brought to you by the vintage sign advertising Town Hall Station in the parking lot.

Since I’m leaving soon, I’ve been trying to make an effort to go out and explore my hometown often.  It has been fun to truly find what Edina has to offer and take advantage of that before I go.  I urge others to do the same if your going to college.  I cannot believe that I’m leaving in a week, as time has flown by, so everyone, use up the time with fun stuff while you can!

 

I’m Back!

Hello readers (who probably forgot about me), and non readers who I want to become readers!  I apologize for not writing these last months as I’ve been extremely busy with graduation, senior obligations, college decisions, and travel.  Everything has been a ton of fun, however, and I have now finally found time to share my fun with you!

A lot has been going on in my life recently including 2 big international trips, and myself preparing to move to New York for school.  With summer coming to an end, I’m hoping to share the adventures that I’ve had, and will have before I head out to school.  I’m trying to revamp the blog so that it’s  more of a overall lifestyle blog with me sharing tips and wisdom from my life centered around my favorites hobbies (food, travel, and fashion).

Then, once I move out to New York (and by the way, NY means small college town living, not city that never sleeps), I will focus on trying to live a fulfilled, adventurous, and classy college life.  I will share tidbits on how I’m doing that, in addition to travel.  My college’s location is a tad isolation from city life, but I believe that I’m going to have easy access to cities up and down the east coast, in addition to the atlantic shore and charming small town life.  I cannot wait to hopefully expand this blog while focusing on a more college student targeted audience!

I will try to post more content in the next couple of days, as I attempt to revamp everything!

Thank you, Addie ❤

Naples Florida-A Great Relaxing Vacation Destination

Naples combines the allure of Florida beaches, exceptional restaurants, and fabulous shopping in one town, making it a great destination for a tropical vacation.  It isn’t classic Florida, but, in my bias opinion, it offers the best of Florida with a more sophisticated twist.  Everything is, there’s not better way to say, relaxing and nice.  Wether it’s walking the miles of white sandy beaches and swimming is mildly calm waters, or spending the day out shopping at the many unique stores around town, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

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The main beach in old Naples.  It stretches across the whole town and includes an iconic pier.  The beach is public but is never super busy.  

Once you soak up enough of the sun, there are plenty of great places to walk around and shop.  5th Ave is the most popular street and offers a lot of fun restaurants and quant shops to walk into.  3rd Street is another hot spot, along with Waterside shops which is chock full and higher end flagships and department stores.

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3rd Street is a popular destination who’s shops include Lilly Pulitzer, the Island Company and 3 huge Tommy Bahama stores.  

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Waterside Shops which features many well know stores, along with lesser known boutiques.  Window shopping is just as fun here and the fountains surrounding the squares are beautiful.   

The restaurants in Naples are truly exceptional and there is a wide range of options.  My all time favorites include the modern Persian restaurant called Bha! Bha! and the quant provencal restaurant called Blue Provence.  However, there are plenty of options to soot anybodies taste.  It’s also great to be able to sit outside on the patio or street side.

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One of my favorite dishes ever, Persian Haleem, from Bha! Bha!.  It’s a roasted eggplant dip that’s eaten with pita bread.   

 

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Apricot orange peel Persian Ice Cream from Bha! Bha!.  Persian ice cream is unlike any ice cream you’ve ever had.  It’s a must try!

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The decor at Bha! Bha! is modern, pleasing, yet cultural at the same time.  And yes, there is outside sitting right on 5th Ave.   

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Bleu Provence offers traditionally prepared French cuisine in a classic setting.  Here, I have the country paté which is prepared with an apricot purée.    

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The classic chocolate profiteroles that embody the best of french pastry baking.  All the deserts are great, but the profiteroles are absolutely fabulous.  

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The patio at Bleu Provence is extremely welcoming and comfortable.  It aspires to be a traditional french garden with a homey feel.  

You really can’t go wrong with anything in Naples as it truly is a great vacation town.  I highly recommend checking it out if your planning on going to Florida, or if you are still looking for somewhere to go for spring break.

3rd street shops: http://thirdstreetsouth.com

5th Ave: http://www.fifthavenuesouth.com

Waterside shops: http://www.watersideshops.com

Bha! Bha!: http://bhabhabistro.com

Bleu Provence: http://www.bleuprovencenaples.com/dinner

 

 

Minneapolis Restaurants-Broders’ Cucina Italiana

Often over shadowed by its older sibling across the street, Broders’ Cucina Italiana is a little known foodie paradise.  Its quick grab and go cafe atmosphere is perfect for a great last minute dinner, lunch or takeout which is what differentiates it from the pasta bar’s slight inconvenience of always being overcrowded.  The food is very authentic and well prepared with an extensive menu to choose from.  Anyone fascinated by foreign products or unique food products in general will delight, as I do, over the expanse of goods imported from Italy.  Many of the products, such as pasta, vinegar, candy and gelato to name a few, are in Italian which elaborates on a cultural shopping experience for the globally intrigued.  I find much joy looking around to see what they have while waiting for my food.

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Some of the goods on sale

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As a customer, you can order pasta dishes such as the delicious Mac and Cheese or the Spaghetti Parmesan, in addition to sandwiches, pizza, salads, and anti-pasta.  I love the tomato mozzarella sandwich on a baguette.  It’s simply perfect.  The pizza is Italian style thin crust and offers many traditional and innovative flavors.  There is a case of all the prepared salads and such where you can go and pick them up to bring home.

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The Mac and Cheese is nothing like Kraft’s.  It more of a cream and tomato dish topped with baked bread crumb.  Delicious!

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The salads and gourmet goods on display

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In addition to freshly prepared meals and the groceries, the Cucina has an assortment of homemade desserts and a coffee station with the ability to brew up plenty of gourmet drinks.  I recommend the caramel flan and the cheesecakes which changes flavors everyday.  There are also imported cookies and small bits.

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The beautiful display of desserts.  

Together, Cucina Italiana is a great place to enjoy to quick meal, shop and just look around.  The food is fabulous, the atmosphere’s refreshing and it’s easy!

Minneapolis Restaurants-Borough

Right in the heart of the North Loop lies Borough, an innovative American restaurant with an ever changing menu filled with classics and unique dishes.  It’s a fairly small place, but on a Friday night, it’s bopping.  The space looks industrial and casual, but the booths are cozy and the dim lighting offers a more sophisticated atmosphere.

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The menu is unusual since there are 3 courses listed with the first two being small plates.  You can order off of any of the courses which presents plenty of options.  I decided to get 3 dishes from the first course while other people ordered a first/second and a third.

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I started with the sturgeon which was about as good as it looks.  The fish was smoked with capers, onions, eggs and cream cheese along with an “everything” crêpe.

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Next, I ordered the steak tartare which was prepared with mushrooms and a raw egg. What I loved about it was the extra little sauce reductions that came with it. The black was a truffle reduction and the white was a milk one. They paired beautifully on the toast together.

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I ordered the duck confit for my small “entré” which was made delicious by the lingonberries that it was garnished with.  The duck was cooked fabulously and tasted delicious with the sweet/sour addition of the berries.

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The deserts at Borough are very unusual as the choices are limited but extravagant.  I ordered the persimmon dish which had a custard, a to die for sauce, sour cream ice cream and dried sponge cake.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but I ended up loving it!

Here are some of the other dishes that were ordered.  Everyone agreed that they were great!

Overall, Borough is a great place to have a special dinner if you enjoy funky and innovative food.  The menu is a little mature, so it might not be the place for picky eaters.  However, if you want to try something different then this is the place.  The only down side is that the restaurant gets very loud as it gets busier and I believe it is because of the limited space.  It gets a little hard to hear, but the food is definitely worth it!

Website: http://boroughmpls.com