Sunday, October 28, 2007

Loft Bar and Bistro

Downtown San Jose is lined with nice looking restaurants and bars but I think I choose one of the best, Loft Bar and Bistro. Located on 90 Second Street this two story restaurant with outdoor patio seating is the perfect place for near for a small group of big parties celebrating birthdays, etc.

I ordered two appetizers, sun-dried tomato and garlic soup followed by the tomato and mozzarella salad with balsamic dressing. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled with the balsamic dressing, it was not pure balsamic vinaigrette, instead it was kind of creamy. My friends had two delicious looking meals- the chicken parmesan and the grilled, pesto-crusted salmon.

Dashing Diva

Make it a Girls Night Out on Wednesday and Thursday nights at Dashing Diva where they serve complementary cosmos while you're pampered with a pedicure complete with a rose petal filled tub for your feet, no whirlpools though as Dashing Diva Promises Superior Hygiene & Sanitation.
This pink-themed spa is great in that it offers a theme most nights of the week, check out what each of the 13 locations have to offer. (Locations include NYC, Brooklyn, North Carolina, California; the spas are even in far off places like Asia, Europe, and Australia). Plus, the prices are reasonable with manicures starting at only $12.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I was led into this Tuscan-esque tapas restaurant as a surprise for my birthday! Myself and three friends and I ordered several small plates to share. We ordered Fried Goat Cheese with lavender infused honey, Spinach Salad with dried cherries, toasted pine nuts and red onion, Smoked Mozzarella in shredded filo, tomato and red onion salad with caramelized balsamic, and finally the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with Fuji apples, creme fraiche and pistachio nuts. I ordered Alta's Non-Classic (white) Sangria and it definitely wasn't a classic sangria, I was very tipsy much quicker than with most sangrias.

Check it out on Socialight:

Candle 79

I'm always impressed with vegetarian restaurants like Candle 79. The chefs use organic produce to create the most unique dishes. we started our meal with a glass of organic white wine. After giving us the wine the waiter placed 2 flat silver spoons with a spicy fruit medley. We ordered the heirloom tomato avocado tartar as an appetizer. For our entree we both ordered the chickpea cake- it was delicious and completely satisfying. With an array of organic desserts we chose the fruit pie. The featured fruit changes seasonally- this time of year it was apples with cinnamon and topped with a small scoop of dolce de leche ice cream.
*Plus Alanis Morissette sat right behind us!

Antique Garage

Antique Garage is a quaint restaurant in Soho with a glass-paned garage door in the front, exposed brick walls, a bar in the back and warmly lit chandeliers all around the restaurant. I ordered the Arugula Salad while two of my friends shared the appetizer sampler which was a nice way to try the hummus, which was good but the eggplant salad had too much of a smokey flavor. Tying the name back into the dining experience, each of the entrees are served on mismatching antique-looking china.

Monday, September 24, 2007


This was my first experience eating Indian food and now I'm a huge fan! I ordered the Chana Pindi- a north Indian specialty of chickpeas cooked with onion tomatoes and pomegranate seeds. Yes, it was a bit spicy but amazingly delicious and filling. Most of the friends I dined with ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala- chicken tikka cooked in a tomato fenugreek sauce with Indian spices, which they loved. All the dishes were served in elegant silver dishes, as was the rice we ordered on the side to cool down our spicy dishes.
I definitely recommend making reservations for a weekend night at Tamarind (E. 22nd Street) as it was really crowded by the time we left. However, it wouldn't be a bad place to have to wait to be seated. The decor was crisp with white and beige hues which allowed for a nice relaxing meal.

Banc Cafe

This Murray Hill (30th and 3rd) hot spot is perfect for a drink during a game or an even out and about. No snobbery, pretty casual, friendly bar tenders, overall Banc has a chic appearance but an easy going attitude.

Kellari Taverna

I was truly impressed with this large Greek restaurant. Kellari Taverna is warmly lit with tall ceilings, a nice sized bar with oak barrels all around. I was pleasantly surprised by the waitstaff's knowledge of the cuisine and wine menu and the attentive service made me feel like I was attending their Grand Opening event. When I found out that this restaurant had been in NYC for 2 years I was blown away. I recommend the traditional Green wine, Assytiko produced by Boutari Estates in Greece (Vintage: 2002). And definitely start with the Saganaki (translation: flaming cheese) appetizer. Click here to see their menu but I also suggest the Patzaria salad.


Eatery is a great brunch spot in Midtown West (53rd and 9th).Have a drink at he bar while you wait for a table. Once you're seated you're welcomed with a small bite of banana bread topped with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a little taste of nutella. The menu boasts some great sounding dishes like Santa Fe Sweet Potato Pancake and Homemade Granola with dried fruit. Whether you sit inside or out it's a fun place to meet up with friends for a weekend brunch.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sundaes and Cones

After having dinner at The House and champagne at FLUTE my friend and I walked to Sundaes and Cones (10th St. near 3rd Ave.) where we had some fabulous ice cream!
With tons of flavors to try- some organic, some sugar free, and even soft serve frozen yogurt- it was hard to choose but I finally went with the fat free raspberry soft serve and the cookies n' cream ice cream. It was so good- creamy and smooth, just the way homemade ice cream should taste. I wasn't brave enough to taste the truly unique flavors like ginger, red bean or lychee even though they are recommended by Gothamist. A perfect way to end a casual night out in NYC.


After dinner at The House my friend and I walked to FLUTE, a champagne lounge in Gramercy (20th btw. Broadway & Park). I never knew there were so many different types of champagne, most of which lined the shelves above the bar. The dim lighting and plush sofas would be perfect for an after-dinner date, even though I was there with a friend we had a great time and ordered the Bellini Sampler. For each of the champagne samplers you could choose 3 different types to taste. For the Bellini sampler we choose the pear, mango and peach flavors. Pear was our least favorite as the taste was very subtle.
Apparently Tuesdays from 5-8pm it's Happy Hour at Flute. On our way out we also noticed a flyer announcing Champagne classes, it would be interesting to learn more about the varieties of champagne, I'll have to look into it.

The House

Not loving the menu at Casa Mono on Irving Place btw 17th and 18th my friend and I headed over to the quaint little restaurant called The House.
It's charming black and silver-themed decor is well lit with beautiful chandeliers. All the outdoor tables (3 of them) were taken so we sat inside on the main floor at a tall table with cushiony swivel chairs. We started our meal with the White Bean Hummus and Avocado Puree appetizer. For our entrees my friend ordered the Panino of Prosciutto di Parma with black mission figs, gorgonzola cheese and rosemary oil. I had the Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella di Bufala "Caprese" accompanied by a very refreshing lemon basil sorbet. The rectangular plate was decorated by a simple line of tomato water and basil oil. I loved this dish, I also added some balsamic vinegar which really added to the dish.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Sweet Lucinda's

For my sister's birthday I surprised her with cupcakes from the amazing Zionsville, IN-based bakery Sweet Lucinda's. It was so exciting to present her with a beautiful box full of delicious and gorgeous cupcakes that were designed especially for my sister's 15th birthday! The box was filled with an assortment of red velvet and white chocolate cupcakes with smooth buttercream frosting decorated with colored fondant. As an added bonus the talented baker, Courtney, added a bag full of colorful white chocolate-covered pretzels with sprinkles and a white chocolate cupcake-shaped lollipop. All of the treats were excellent! Surprising my sister with these fabulous treats was the perfect way to start celebrating the birthday weekend!

Orders can be placed by calling Courtney, find her contact info on her website: Sweet Lucinda's amazing treats can also be found all summer long at Zionsville's Farmer's Market.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Urban Taco

My one request during a family-filled weekend in Dallas was to try the latest addition to the chic Mockingbird Station scene, Urban Taco.
With its brightly-colored decor this upscale taqueria dishes up super tasty 'modern Mexican' cuisine. Restaurant proprietor, 24-year-old Markus Pinyero definitely knows what he's doing as he combines elements from his American and Mexican upbringing.
The delicious, homemade chips, with their intriguing spice bring out the best in the freshly-made, smooth guacamole. I suggest you wash it down with some of their signature drinks- a variety of margaritas, a sweet mojito, and much more.
Check it out: 5331 E. Mockingbird Lane, Suite 125; Dallas, TX 75206
See what others are saying at ChowHoud.
Check it out on Socialight:

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The moment you walk into Guantanamera you are surrounded by Cuba with live music and a station for hand-rolled cigars. The waitstaff definitely give us plenty of time to make our entree selections while we sipped the delicious white-wine sangria flavored with apples and oranges. My friend and I were all pleased with our entrees which included Ensalada de Pina Y Aguacate (avacado, which I substituted with artichokes, and pineapple in a mango vinaigrette on a bed of mixed greens) and the Arroz con Camarones (yellow rice with shrimp and vegetables). Fun place, great food, vast drink menu, definitely worth the trip!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bar Jamon

The always crowded Bar Jamon is located at 17th Street and Irving Place. The scene is very welcoming with it's dim lighting, a chalk board highlighting the evening's tapas and a knowledgeable staff. Casa Mono, owned by Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali only serves those who are ordering dinner so if you just want to grab a drink the host will direct you next door to Bar Jamon. All of Bar Jamon's food is cooked by the Casa Mono kitchen, which I've heard is good but have not yet had.

Dispatch Concert

This weekend Dispatch is performing live in NYC at Madison Square Garden and I was able to attend the first show of the weekend! It was amazing... not only the concert itself but to see how Dispatch is helping out those who really need help. Proceeds from the ticket sales go towards fighting disease, famine and social injustice in the country of Zimbabwe. A contribution will also be made to local charities- meaning 100% of proceeds will be donated! Throughout the show facts about Zimbabwe appeared on big screen. I learned things I had no clue about... The country of Zimbabwe is about the size of Montana with a little more than 12 million people, with about 1 million orphans, 80% of the population live in poverty and 25% have HIV/AIDS. I was shocked and so glad to see that Dispatch has taken a stand and is doing their best to help all these people in need.
On Monday, July 16th Friday night's show will be available to download from their myspace page:

Jet Blue

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to jetBlue! Last weekend I flew the discounted airline for the first time (NYC-Chicago). I am obsessed with the live TV from DirectTV, the friendly service and the multitude of snacks they offer, complimentary to each traveler. And in the spirit of the 4th of July they offered organic Apple Pie cookies!!! So good!
The flight from Chicago to NYC was delayed about 4 hours so while we waited jetBlue representatives offered blankets to all of us waiting as well as animal crackers and Terra chips. It made the wait that much better! I highly suggest taking jetBlue any time you can!

3rd Annual Culver Triathlon

Last weekend I participated in the 3rd Annual Culver Triathlon in Culver, Indiana. It was amazing to see this little town host such a fun, well-sponsored sporting event. Some of the most notable sponsors included Pro Form, Brinkman Press who provided swim caps for the swimmers, and Michelob Ultra who was giving unlimited beer samples to everyone!
Participants could tackle the 1/4 mile swim, 10.5 mile bike ride and the 3 mile run as an individual or as a relay team. Having no desire to swim and then complete the race in a wet bathing suit, my dad and I competed as a co-ed relay team. He did the swimming portion while I biked and ran finishing in about 1 hr. and 24 minutes!
Overall the race was amazing- Culver is a wonderful place to be and this race made it even more special! I'm definitely signing up for next year's event, and might do all three events!

Kansas City

A few weekends ago I was in Kansas City for a wedding and was totally impressed with how cute this city is, especially the downtown area. The area known as The Plaza has great shopping and great restaurants. The Plaza was designed in the 1920s and known as the nation's first suburban shopping district. The open-air centre was inspired by Spanish architecture and European art.
For the rehearsal dinner we went to Brio Tuscan Grille where we were severed fabulous dishes- 2 different dishes of pasta, salmon, and steak, followed by 2 large dishes of dessert including the best cheesecake I have ever tasted- Mike's Famous Cheesecake and Tiramisu.
On a side note, I flew Midwest Airlines NYC-Kansas City round trip and loved it, even despite the massive delay leaving NY. Not only did each passenger have big comfy seats, the flight attendants serve freshly baked chocolate chip cookies during the flight that they bake on the plan! What a great idea!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Biking in NYC

Wanting to be outside in NYC but not sure what to do?!?! Rent a bike! I recently spent the afternoon biking around Union Square and on the trail near Chelsea Piers with a friend. It was such a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. And for a reasonable price... I rented a bike for $7 an hour at Metro Bicycle. They have 7 different locations so really you can bike anywhere in the City and have a great time. This is definitely something I want to do again soon!

Robert Moses Beach

Today was my first trip to a beach in NY. It took about 2 hours to get to Robert Moses beach from the City by way of the LIRR. The LIRR train left Penn Station at 12:04 p.m. and arrived at the Babylon station around 1:40. The buses that take beach goers from Babylon to the beach doesn't start until next weekend (June 18th)- as luck would have it, we didn't know that so we had to take a 20 minute taxi ride to the beach.
Just laying out under the sun with not a building in site was so relaxing after a hectic week in the city.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

think coffee

This cafe near NYU (Mercer St. btw. 3rd and 4th Streets) is very forward thinking using only coffees and teas organically and shade grown and bought from fair trade farmers. The cafe has also opened up a wine and cheese bar featuring small-producer wine and farmstead cheeses. This is a perfect cafe to frequent on rainy days in NYC, grab some coffee, tea, a cookie, what have you.. but most importantly... play Scrabble! That's right enjoy the cafe scene by challenging your friends to a wordsmithing game. So fun! (Every Tuesday night is Scrabble night at 8pm!)

Chat 'n' Chew

This home-cookin' restaurant near Union Square (E. 16th St. btw. 5th Ave. and Union Sq. West) serves American favorites like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, sweet potato fries, mashed potatoes, and even chicken fried steak served in a up-scale TV dinner dish/tray.
I'm usually not a fan of BBQ-type places but I must say the sweet potato fries were very, very good!

BLT Prime

As a celebration last night, some friends and I had a fabulous dinner at BLT Prime (111 E. 22nd St. btw. Park & Lexington).
Even as a vegetarian, I truly enjoyed this restaurant that prides itself of its selection and quality of beef. Before being for our 9:30 reservations we ordered a drink at the bar where the bar tender educated us on the chemistry of alcohol- already I was impressed with this place. I noticed a wine I had never heard of before- Rioja- so I asked about it and they let me sample it before pouring me a full glass of the spicy, smooth Spanish wine. After just a few sips of my wine the host lead us up the stairs to the elegant booth table near the large windows overlooking the Gramercy neighborhood.
Our dining experience began with a complimentary jar of chicken Pate and four slices of rustic bread. (I didn't taste it but the others said it was very good.) As an appetizer ordered a cheese platter with 5 kinds of cheeses, all selected by the chef according to our preferences and entree orders, and escargot. Before our main dishes were served the waiter brought 4 very large popovers to the table that were buttery, crispy and altogether delicious. The popover recipe was served along side the rolls so we knew exactly what we were eating- I thought this was a good idea.
Our entrees, along with all of our sides and the bottle of wine we ordered, were served by out two attentive waiters. Our entire spread included: Roasted Beets with Fresh Goat Cheese, "BLT" Cut/ Bone in Double sirloin, Porterhouse, Creamy Home Fries, Par mean Gnocchi, Grilled Asparagus, Roasted Tomatoes, and Poached Green Beans. Needless to say, we were totally stuffed by the time the dessert menu came. However, keeping in mind this was a celebration... we ordered dessert! We had the special of the night- Blueberry Pie with vanilla ice cream and the melt-in-your-mouth Caramelized NY Cheesecake served in Strawberry Rubarb Soup.
BLT Prime is owned by Chef Laurent Tourondel who also owns BLT Fish and BLT Steak. Click here to see the menu from BLT Prime.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Pane e Vino Restaurant

(791 Lexington Ave; between 61st & 62nd)
This little Italian restaurant on Lexington doesn't offer outdoor seating but they did have floor-to-ceiling windows that were open on a sunny Friday evening for dinner. It was great to almost be outside sipping wine and enjoying one of my favorite dishes- Caprese di Bufala con Peperoni Arrosto (buffalo mozzarella with roasted peppers, tomato & basil).
Even though my meal was an appetizer, the entrees looked good. Someone sitting across from us ordered the grilled salmon- she and her friends all liked it. The specials included many fish dishes, such as swordfish.
This is definitely a good place to go for a relaxing dinner. (Although I don't think our waiter was very happy with our small orders.)


Dining at the NY hotspot usually means you'll be waiting for up to 2 hrs. for a table... unless, that is, you get there right as their dinner service is beginning (6pm). Arriving early enough, two friends and I were seated at a prime table, getting a view of everyone who came in and all those waiting at the bar. Our waiter was very friendly and attentive while we debated over what we wanted to order. We finally decided to order the Hot Artichoke Dip with Crisp Bread as an appetizer, which was fluffier than most artichoke dips I've had which was great! For dinner we shared the soup of the day- butternut squash (so good!), and two salads that we shared- I couldn't find them on the online menu but they were good!
(End of Freeman Allye; off of Rivington between the Bowery and Chrystie- it's a bit hard to find, but worth the search!)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Grocery Shopping in NYC

Today was my first visit to the Trader Joe's in Union Square and I have to say for how much people rave about it, I was not that impressed.
What I liked about it: they had a ton of gourmet frozen foods, a great trail mix section, reasonably priced tomatoes, and friendly staff.
What annoyed me: I wanted to buy 1 zucchini and 1 yellow squash but they they only sold them in packs of two, the grapes were sold in plastic crates- I couldn't choose my own bundle, the same was true with broccoli, they only sold it in pre-packaged bags, and the space was very small with too many people (typical in NY but especially annoying in this setting).

Leaving Trader Joe's a bit annoyed I treated myself to a visit to Whole Foods! Where I tried a new type of cheese from Canada- Oka, it was soft and very flavorful (I put it on my sweet potato tonight for dinner, so good!) and stumbled upon products from the raw food restaurant I wrote about a while back, Pure Food and Wine. I bought a bag of the company's organic snacks- Cinnamon Crispies, made from organic buckwheat, organic mayple syrup, organic cinnamon, vanilla extract, Himalayan crystal salt. I know buckwheat doesn't sound like it would be anything special but it seems to be a pretty amazing "fruit." Buckwheat is not actually a "wheat;" it's the fruit of Fagopyrum esculentum. Since it is gluten free therefore much easier to digest than grains, and full of high quality protein. Plus buckwheat has been shown to prevent the accumulation of fat in the body, reducing blood pressure and slowing the aging process! Sounds pretty great to me... I'll keep munching on this snack for sure.

Monday, May 14, 2007


After work this evening I met a friend to try the famous Pinkberry!This is the place to get "real" frozen yogurt and delicious toppings from fruit like mangoes and kiwi to cereal and nuts. The frozen treat boutique sells only two only two flavors, original and green tea (I didn't get to taste the green tea because it wasn't working). YumSugar's taste tester said it was terrible and too sour but I liked it, the first bite was a bit sour but once I added fruit to the bit of yogurt it was very tasty!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Today I attended an event hosted by SELF magazine called Workout in the Park-- it was fabulous!With more than 20 different sponsors and about 20 different fitness classes from yoga and pilates to exciting dance classes such as Awesome 80's Dance and Crumpin' & Tweakin'. However, my favorite aerobic class was taught by my favorite instructor, Serina Jain, was Masala Bhangra, a Bollywood-inspired traditional Indian dance.
No joke, I walked away from the event with a huge bag full of free products from the various sponsors including- 2 full sized mascaras from Maybelline, granola bars from Kashi, water and flavor packets from Crystal Light, the new water/juice from Tropicana, lotions from St. Ives, and a ton of 100 Calorie Packs-- just to name a few, serious!
Last weekend the event took place in Chicago; next weekend it'll be in Miami. It was so great to see so many people getting together with fitness and wellness on the mind.
I loved it and can't wait for next year's event!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Baraonda- 1439 2nd Ave (75th Street)
My first outdoor seating of the season! This corner location became more well known this past winter when a hi-jacked truck crashed into the side of this Italian eatery. After a full recovery this restaurant is still as crowded as ever, full of the trendy 30 year old crowd. There were a couple of girls sitting behind us that reminded me of the women in The Real Housewives of the O.C.
Our dishes looked fabulous and (in my case) tasted great too. I had the Buffalo Mozzarella with tomatoes, roasted bell peppers and basil. One of my friends ordered the Halibut. While my other friend was a bit more selective/creative with her order, choosing her favorite features of 2 different pasta dishes and having them made into one. The waiter had her dish customized per order, I was impressed with his understanding of the complex order.
To top it all off, we satisfied our sweet tooth by stopping at the Maggie Moo's next store! Yummy! The ice cream shop even offered Ice Cream Cupcakes, as a long-time fan of ice cream cakes I was impressed to see this clever creation- who would have thought- Ice Cream Cupcakes?!?!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fresh Market I have added one more grocery store to my list of favorites. Over the weekend I went home to visit my family. To prepare for a family cookout my mom and I went to Fresh Market where we experienced the best customer service I have ever received in a grocery store! One of the sales reps, Sarah was so enthusiastic about her job it was amazing, She opened a bag of their organic corn tortilla chips and a package of their homemade guacamole right in front of us for us to try. Plus she had veggie kabobs created just for us within minutes!
Their guacamole, by the way, was really great. As was their other produce! If you have one near you, you must go!
(130 Seventh Ave. South, at 10th St.)
I enjoyed the trendy Spanish atmosphere in the West Village but was sadly let down by the red wine sangria that seemed to be infused with too much cranberry juice. However this Spanish tapas bar does offer white wine- so try that instead and let me know what you think!
Unfortunately Tasca does not take reservations, no matter how large the party. Luckily the restaurant and wine bar next door, Central Kitchen, has the same owner as Tasca so while our party of 6 waited for about an hour for our table we were able to enjoy a drink at Central Kitchen’s wine bar.
Tasca’s menu was full of seafood and meat. The few vegetarian options- carrots & a plate of assorted cheese and salad- were very good, but definitely not too filling.
Overall I'd say it was a small place with a lot of people, not great food, service was alright.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pure Food & Wine
(54 Irving Place- NYC) I love raw food restaurants, I find them incredibly interested. I love hearing all about the creative ways raw food chefs use veggies to make “noodles” and nuts to make “cheese.” While dining at Pure Food & Wine be sure to try their organic cocktails.
Entrees to try:
- Zucchini and Heirloom Tomato Lasagna with basil-pistachio pesto, sun-dried tomato sauce and piginoli ricotta
- Chilli Lime Tortilla Wraps with avocado, tomato-lime salsa, and cashew sour cream
There were so many great sounding dishes. If you have recommendations please let me know!
The crowd was interesting and definitely picked up around 8pm. This place will be wonderful in the summer time when the outdoor patio opens up!
Cipriani- Downtown (376 W. Broadway)Late on a Monday night this hot spot was still completely packed with uber chic New Yorks. Even as we arrived around 9:30 p.m. for dessert everyone around us was just ordering their entrees. This is a great place to people watch- all day, really, from brunch to desserts & nightcaps.

Ideya (349 W. Broadway btw. Broome & Grande)
After dessert at Cipriani I stumbled upon Ideya, drawn in by the Latin flavored live music and dancing which I heard and saw through the front door as I stood across the street. Live music, salsa dancing and a delicious mjiots was such a pleasant surprise on a random Monday night.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Neptune Room
Not having spent much time in the Upper West Side, I must say I was impressed with the calmness that filled the air. It just seemed so much more peaceful compared to the rest of Manhattan.
The Neptune Room is a fabulous place to dine. it's known to have the best Eggs Benedict but their fresh fruit and granola was just as satisfying. The waitstaff was friendly and the decor was appropriately cozy for such a large venue. My favorite part? The interesting bathroom doors angled behind the bar.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Travel Talk
I spent the last week of March traveling around Costa Rica and I loved it! Everything about it, the food, the sun, the beach, the mojitos, the people, the animals... everything! Here's an overview of cities to visit and what to do there:
San Jose
I'm glad I was able to see the country's capital but if you're going to Costa Rica to visit rainforests, see exotic animals, etc. you don't need to spend much time here. However I did love the hotel where I spent 3 nights- The Marriott Hotel San Jose
With an infinity pool with a fabulous theater-style tanning area plus 2 great restaurants you really don't have to go into the city of San Jose, but I recommend you get out and try the eclectic Bakea.

Bakea- this fabulously modern restaurant exists in an old (1934) family owned home. Chef Camille Ratton dishes up beautiful unique dishes. The meal ended with bite-size fruit flavored breads for each patron.

Our first day tour: Ecoscape Nature Tour which included visits to Poas Volcano,La Paz waterfall, a hummingbird gallery, lunch at Selva Verde lodge, walks through the rainforst followed by a boat ride down the Sarapiqui River.

Second day trip: The four of us (my mom, dad, sister and I) drove down to Jaco beach where my dad and I learned how to surf! We took an official surfing lesson- both us of were able to stand withing 30 min. Apparently Jaco is a great place for beginning surfers.
By the third day we were on our way to visit the Arenal Volcano and stay at the Lost Iguana Resort. During the day we took 3 hour tour through the rainforest where we saw a lot of monkeys and exotic birds. The tour was followed by happy hour at the hotel's swim-up bar! We had dinner at the famous Tabaco Hot Springs. It was a little difficult navigating your way around the rocky hot springs in the dark but I'm glad we at least visited the soothing waters.
The next day we took a 3 hour drive, mostly on dirt roads, to Monte Verde, located in Costa Rica's Cloud Forest! Luckily we saw the much sought-after tropical bird, Quetzal.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Last weekend my parents and younger sister came to the city which
only means... lots of food!

We all stayed at the Carlton Hotel on 29th and Madison.

The elegantly decorated hotel offered romantic dining spaces and friendly staff. The only downside was that the gym was not located inside the hotel. The hotel had a partnership with Boom Fitness that was about 4+ blocks away.

Friday afternoon I joined my parents + sister for lunch at Cipriani Dolci that is housed in the famous Grand Central Station. It was definitely a pricey lunch but the attentive service and tasty Italian food made it very worthwhile.

Recommended dishes: Mozzarella di Bufala and Fresh Tomatoes; Carrot Soup; Asparagus, Beets, and Goat Cheese Salad; and the String Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Caciocavallo Salad.
(lesson learned: caciocavallo is a type of cheese similar in taste to an aged provolone)

Friday night we ate at the always delicious Dos Caminos (the Park Ave. location) where the guacamole is made fresh right at your table!

During their visit I discovered my new absolute favorite NY restaurant (so far at least)... Providence. Located at West 57th Street in an old Manhattan Baptist Church established in the 1930s this place screams AMAZING! The space remained a church for four decades until it became the famous Media Sound Studios. The dynamic acoustics created by the cathedral architecture attracted legendary musicians who would stay for weeks at a time while recording their albums.

Performers like Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, Barry Manilow, Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder and many more recorded and developed their records in what is now the main dining room.
Not only would I go back to this restaurant to be surrounded by the cool history of the space but the Coastal European cuisine was completely creative and absolutely delicious. I started my meal by sipping on one of the many signature cocktails, the Providence Bellini.
Dishes to recommend: Baby Brie with 28-yr-old Balsamic Vinegar (appetizer), the Artichoke and Fava Bean Salad, the House Made Spinach Ravioli, and Applewood Scented Arctic Char.

While I'm talking about favorite NYC restaurants I need to also mention Savoy. Located in Soho, on the corner of Prince and Crosby.

The menu changes regularly depending on what's in season, plus if you can't find something you want just tell your server what you're looking for and the chef will be happy to prepare something special just for you. If Mark Minella is in the kitchen for your visit you're in luck! He made me the most creative vegetarian dish I have ever had that was so elegantly placed on the plate. This is definitely a restaurant I want to visit each and every season!