Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Exploring Boxed Wine

Ahh, the American Suburbs.

Last week we went to TARGET. It has been so long since we have been to Target that we did not know they have now expanded their expertise to include food and wine. They have their own brand of boxed wine, aptly named Wine Cube. We sampled a 2009 California Merlot. According to the description on the box it goes well with pizza and has a velvety texture with notes of plum and scents of sweet tea.

First of all, scents of sweet tea? What does that mean? Quick lesson in wine tasting, deep red wines generally taste the way they smell. So you can imagine what I was expecting from a 2009 vintage with a sweet tea nose - candy poured from the spickett of the fountain of youth. It did not disappoint. It tasted sweet and flat. "Drinkable" as they say. Nothing complicated about this little baby. If you are tempted to purchase, I recommend serving it at a big party, at the end of the night, once your guests are having a great time... you will only remember it's sweet goodness (and not that it is supposed to be a Merlot).

look at those legs water marks (?)
In drafting this I was reminded that I have also had the Pino Grigio Wine Cube. It must have been served at the end of a party... ;)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Monday Monday

Well, it's Monday again! I'm off to job and apartment hunt. I'm working on some great things for this week so stayed tuned! (read: I've been doing research aka eating and drinking a lot, hehe.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter Weekend

via Cognac and Coffee
Hello all! You may have noticed a lack of posts this week. My apologies! It was moving week. We are getting settled in DC and just in time for Easter Weekend. We normally travel for Easter to visit family and friends. This time we will be taking it easy in our new city. A hearty brunch is definitely in order! Perhaps we will check out the Easter egg hunt at the White House?

Do you travel for this holiday? Any favorite traditions?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day Trip: Brooklyn, NY

Brooklyn, NY is often overlooked by tourists coming in to see NYC. I consider it our best kept secret. It is in Brooklyn where urban, hipster, and preppy styles all come together to harvest emerging artistic talent. The shopping is eclectic and more reasonably priced than in Manhattan. The restaurants are fantastic and undiscovered.

Early spring is the perfect time of year to visit the Prospect Park and Park Slope neighborhoods. They are charming places which have a reputation as the neighborhoods where Manhattanites ready to settle down go to have babies. An abundance of baby strollers and dogs fill the streets. If you love picnics (as you know by now, I'm obssessed) or if you need a place to rest in the afternoon, take a stroll through Prospect Park. You will get a real sense of the culture and aesthetic of the 'hood.
This time of year the Cherry Blossoms and Tulips in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden are in full bloom. This is seriously a must see!

For nourishment and libations, check out Vanderbilt Avenue. Or if you want to mix drinks and shopping (a potentially lethal combo), your best luck will be on 5th Avenue as it has the best shopping.

If brunch (or lunch, their whole menu is delish) is in order, I highly recommend Stone Park Cafe on 5th Ave and 3rd St.  This American style restaurant keeps with the Brooklyn spirit by sourcing their ingredients locally and seasonally as much as possible. It has a casual neighborhood-y vibe. Many of the choices on the menu are good, you really can't go wrong. But if you decide to get here early-ish after having a great night out - then you must have a Bloody Mary and the biscuits and gravy. Then top it off with a cappuchino and it seriously hits the spot! We ate ours so fast I didn't even have time to snap a picture.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Favorite stroll: Highline

The Highline is a public park located in the Meatpacking District. It was designed in the early 2000's by landscape architects James Corner Field Operations in colaboration with arcitects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It was created out of the early 20th century railways that delivered meat and other goods to the manufacturers that were once located here. Today it is a beautifully realized park (with more to come!) which is my favorite place to take a stroll, especially at sunset! As you walk you are surrounded by iconic New York architecture and sights and people actually walk slowly to take it all in. There are great places to eat, drink, and shop around here too! So great for a date or to kick off a night with the girls!

My husband (from now on he will be called G-man) and I love the Highline so much we had our engagement pictures taken here.

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shoe Love: Work and Play

Pour la Victoire, Christian Louboutin, Pour la Victoire, 3.1 Philip Lim, Valentino, Christian Louboutin

I'm loving these babies to go from work to play in The Big Apple. I can imagine myself romping around the office in these then go to happy hour and dinner, le sigh. How fabulous would that be?!

Christian Louboutin

In real life, these Louboutins are the staple around my office (I know, its fantasy land everyday! weee!). Elegant, stylish, and comfortable these heels take the cake for best daily work to play.

Between wearing a great pair of shoes and going to happy hour I wish you the best weekend! :)

New York City: Favorite Happy Hour Spots


I've inherited an uncanny ability to socialize from my father. I love being out with my friends talking about our days and thoughts on the latest news, culture or fashions. I also love meeting new people in new places. This is one of the reasons I love to travel! Most people are friendly and eager to tell you about themselves or their local way of doing things. And sometimes there is no better time to get to know people than during Happy Hour. It is a great time to let go of that stressful day and mingle with your peers. If you ever want to do what the locals do, find the best happy hour spots. Here are some of my favorites in NYC and just in time for Friday night:

Stumble Inn: This cheap Upper East Side establishment has the best happy hour specials including Mondays 7pm - close $1 drafts. It's a bit "fratty" and has two beer pong tables set up at all times. If you are into sports, the TVs usually play whatever game is on. Not the most exciting atmopshere but you will likely leave tipsy, happy, and with most of your cash still in your wallet. It's stumbling distance from the subway on 76th St and 2nd Ave.

Brother Jimmy's BBQ: Although this is a local chain restaurant, if you find a Brother Jimmy's you've found young hardworking professionals and cheap beer. One must not pass up this opportunity to drink PBR from a can and relive the old college days in a casual "southern" style environment. Check their website for weekly specials.

Pig 'n' Whistle: I had to include at least one Irish Pub on here! Although I hate on Midtown (too crowded with tourists and a lack of foodie restaurants, stay away from Times Square if you want an authentic NYC experience), it is centrally located if you are meeting people from downtown, uptown, Queens and New Jersey. Pig 'n' Whistle has three locations, live music, and pretty decent food. This is my go-to if I am between 59th St and Grand Central Station on the East Side.

The Gingerman: With over 100 specialty beers to choose from and a rather large space to mingle in, The Gingerman is the place to go if you are in the Murry Hill neighborhood and with 50 of your closest friends.

Sidebar: Conveniently located one block from Union Square, Sidebar is on the corner of 15th St and Irving Place. It has large windows which they open during nice weather (I love the indoor outdoor space!). The food is delish: truffled bleu cheese french fries, chicken fingers and honey mustard, hummus plate - be still my heart! This is also my favorite College Football Game Day bar as it is one of the official Gator bars in the City (University of Florida Gator Alumni holla!). After drinks I highly suggest a stroll up Irving Place to Gramercy Park, its so charming and romantic!

Pete's Tavern: This Irish Pub is basically next door to Sidebar. Grab a Guiness, a burger, sit back and people watch. Sit outside to enjoy the architecture and passers-by. It also boasts being the oldest continuously operating bar in NYC.

Pravda: This is an upscale SOHO Russian Vodka bar. It's underground bunker speak-easy vibe creates a mysteriously sexy atmopshere. They serve only the best of the best and in the most exciting ways (and I'm not just talking about the ultra hip and sexy bartenders). Having a vodka martini here transports you and your comrades to the old country with a new flare.

The Blind Tiger: This hole-in-the-wall Greenwich Village bar has a well edited selection of local draught specials and a very casual atmopshere. The food is cheap and mighty tasty. You will be overdressed if you are wearing a collared shirt but that doesn't stop the afterwork crowd from enjoying themselves.

Tortilla Flats: LOVE this divey Mexican bar. It has one of the most festive atmospheres I've ever experienced. You will be drinking pitchers of Margaritas and eating your fill of chips, salsa, guacamole, and sloppy bar quality mole pollo, tacos, and burritos. If you go on your birthday, in addition to happy hour, there is a chance at free tequilla shots for your table. I'll let you find out how to get it. (Ernest Borgnine fans unite!)

The Rusty Knot: Although nestled on the West Side Highway (aka BFE), it's worth taking the trec out to this time capsle. Once you step inside you are transported to a 1970's nautical themed lounge. Drink Tecate in a can and relax in the glorious wood panneling, fish tanks, and pool table. And dispite appearances wearing a mustache is not required. (No website for this one; it's located in the West Village, 425 West St on the corner of W 11th St).

Frying Pan: This is the ultimate outdoor happy hour destination. The bar consists of a number of floating vessles out on the Hudson River. On a beautiful day you are standing elbot to elbot with beautiful people (yes, people do go here to be seen). If you get hungry it's worth waiting for a burger and fries. Yum-mie! Leave at dusk though as it gets sketchy after the sun goes down. (No website for this one either; its located at 63 Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive and E 24th St).

Boat Basin: This might be my only choice for the Upper West Side (sorry people, I just don't go up there). It's also a great outdoor destination and much more relaxing than Frying Pan. Food is good, drinks are good, and the views of the river are awesome.

Do you have any favorite NYC happy hour destinations?

Central Park

Having a happy hour/weekend brunch/early morning picnic in Central Park is heaven. :) Whether you live here or are vacationing, take time to enjoy this green oasis. If you are traveling and can not pack a picnic, grab a bagette, cheese and fuit from a bodega (or Whole Foods at Columbus Circle!) and a bottle of wine (also good for after work if you are in a hurry). Then find a spot in Sheep's Meadow or just south of the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) and sit for hours absorbing the city and the unusually slow pace... {le sigh}

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wardrobe: weekend brunch in NYC

jeans, sweater, scarf, lipstick (my signature shade is Red Lizard), bag, ring, sunglasses (my obsession!), shoes
This is pretty much my weekend wardrobe: high-waisted skinny jeans, sweaters, scarves, and my flats. I love these little peeptoe wedges/babies as an alternative! If you want to dress like a New Yorker wear neutrals with pops of color as inspired by the city itself and of course the brilliant Sartorialist captures New York style so elegantly. It's hard not to be swept away by it all!

Favorite Pancakes

My favorite meal of the week is brunch. Some weeks I'll have it Saturday AND Sunday as I just can't get enough. What I love about brunch is I give myself the excuse to spend 2+ hours sipping coffee (and Mimosas and Bloody Marys), catching up with friends, and eating a plethora of comfort foods. It's just what I need after a long week of work and stress: time to slow down, breathe deep, be slightly self indulgent, and spend time with the people I love.

When you are traveling, you will likely be running around like a crazy person trying to take in every detail. You will be stressed trying to navigate a place you are unfamiliar with (these streets seem to go in circles...) and sometimes with an added language barrier (but where is the train that is leaving in 5 minutes?). Did you lost sight of your travel companions along the way too? Why don't you go to brunch and take time to have a long meal together. It's amazing what heartfelt conversations happen over coffee, tea and delicious food!

So without further adieu, my favorite place for self indulgent pancake brunch is Clinton Street Baking Company. Generally speaking, they serve southern comforts: farmer's breakfast with fried green tomatoes and grits, biscuits and gravy, and steel cut oatmeal. But what you must order when you go here are the pancakes with warm maple butter. The best time to go is in February during Pancake Month, of course!

The fluffy, buttery, sweet, nutty, fresh, and tart pancakes will blow your taste buds out of the water. You must arrive really early as everyone else in town is wanting these pancakes too (normal NYC brunch is around 1pm, most places aren't even open before 11am, but you have to get here before 9:30am!). They can't help it, the warm dripping maple butter is like a beacon for hunger satisfaction (and a hangover cure)!

you can't resist...

Add to your pancakes some hot coffee, which always hits the spot. And you have to try the sugar cured bacon. Just order a side, you've already come this far. Now, sit back, people watch (laugh at the people still waiting out in the cold), and enjoy your hours long Sunday brunch with your favorite people.
Side note: This place is cash only, the service is average, and size is quite cozy. Keep your group small, 2-4 people, to have any hope of getting a table.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Downtown Manhattan

As with any part of Manhattan, the most interesting sights downtown are in the streets. I always look to the raw, urban scenery when searching for color and inspiration for my life, home, and wardrobe.

Monday, April 11, 2011

New York, NY

Brooklyn Bridge

As I mentioned in my last post, my husband and I are on the brink of a new adventure! In a little over a week we are moving from New York to Washington DC. Although I am looking forward to new beginnings, new opportunities, and an apartment wtih a living room and dining room, I will certainly miss my beloved NYC. 

In the city where anything goes, I have been given creative freedom to develop my own sense of style. I have grown up professionally and personally here. Not to mention the countless amazing people I have made friends with along the way. I will be taking those things with me and will come back to visit often.

In honor of my time here, I'm dedicating this week to some of my favorites! I hope when you visit NYC you will try my favs and discover some of your own also.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Living in the moment: Uva, New York, NY

Sometimes a wanderlusty soul has to settle for being at home. When I am at home, I like to be a tourist in my own city (which is easy, I live in Manhattan!). For years many girlfriends and I have gone to one of my favorite rustic Italian places on the Upper East Side, Uva, for after work drinks and girls nights. It's not just for ladies mind you, it has quite a romantic atmosphere. But the great thing about this place is all the sampling and sharping. That's what makes it a great girls night destination!

As some of you may know, my husband and I are moving in a few weeks to Washington DC (more to come on this). So I went to Uva with one of my very best girlfriends to celebrate our time together in NYC. When you go to Uva, either sit at a casual seat in the bar area, for people watching and intimate seating, or if it's nice weather request to sit in the back garden.

We shared a bottle of Malbec (great medium bodied wine to have with a varied menu), goat cheese and black pepper bruschette (so creamy and soft), the Antipasto Vegetariano for two (um, pickled carrots?! sweet and tangy? yes please!), and we topped it off with a delish Girella al Cioccolato and Jameson on the rocks (the Jameson and Hazelnut together are brillant!) Of course we spent much of the time talking and laughing. It's so nice to be able to catch up with my best friend while enjoying top notch food and drink in a relaxed, elegant environment. If that isn't the perfect little get-a-way, I don't know what is!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


As you may have guessed by now, I'm a shoe junkie. It's not just for their aesthetic value but also because they are my best travel companion (don't tell my suitcase and handbag... or my husband). I think of my shoes like my travel bags, invest in goodies and they will repay you in reliability, comfort and style (and compliments!). Imagine walking around a beautiful city and all you can think about is the blister rubbing raw on your heel. As one that learned the hard way, I know that when my feet are uncomfortable, I'm whiny. And my traveling companions find me unpleasant. Not to mention I can not enjoy the destination I spend so much money, time, and energy on trying to see. Here is my advise for having happy, stylish feet on your travels:


1. Don't break in your new shoes on your vacation. I would say this is a given but I would be ignoring all the times I and people I know have attempted to do this. It seems tempting to buy new shoes for that upcoming trip to Paris. However, I've wasted hours trying to find another new pair of shoes to replace the ones I'm wearing so my feet will stop hurting and then I'm caught in a never ending circle of aching feet and wasted time and money. But Jamie you love shoe shopping, you say. Shopping for pleasure or discovering an unexpected  treat while you are exploring are completely different situations than being on a mission to find flipflops in a city you are unfamiliar with. You will likely not find them.

2. Sightseeing is not a race. There isn't a prize for the first one to finish. You should pace yourself. Since I live in a city, in my daily life I generally do a lot of walking, so when I vacation in another city my body does not go into shock after walking for several hours at a time. I know how long I can go before I need a coffee, bathroom, or sitting break. If you live in the suburbs and don't walk that much, then take your time on vacation. You'll end up exhausted, sore and burnt out on the first night if you try to have a marathon day. So if I'm tired or my feet hurt, I'll spontaneously slip into a bar or cafe and use it as an excuse to try some local fair and do some people watching.

3. Switch it up. Bring more than one pair of shoes with you. Your feet are less likely to tire and get sore if you go between a few pairs. Depending on the length of my trip, I'll bring anywhere from 2 - 4 pairs of shoes.

4. Don't settle for "walking shoes". This one might seem counterintuative but I hate wearing tennis shoes or any shoe designated as a "walking shoe". (side note: for everyone outside of the South: the term 'tennis shoes' is used to describe an athletic shoe aka sneakers; not shoes made for tennis. I did not know there was a difference until I left the South. See what travel does for you? Anyways, I digress). Tennis shoes don't look great with my non-sporty style and I don't like wearing socks. So my go to travel shoes of choice are my Minnitonka Moccasins. I have several pairs and love them all. I wear them on my walking commute. I've worn them to Paris, Dublin, Boston, Florida and even on an outdoorsy trip. Their slightly preppy, slightly old school style makes them very versitile. I wear them with dresses, pants, shorts, day or night, hot or cold. I'm obssessed with my Moccasins.

But I don't have a one track mind, I also love my Madewell Brogues and my Marc by Marc Jacobs ballet flats (both pictured above).

Do you have any favorite travel shoes?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Destination: Boston, MA

I'm standing in an open square, sweat dripping down my back and forehead as I listen to drums and flutes re-play the tunes of 18th century Revolutionary America. Dispite the heat, I feel terribly patriotic and somewhat moved.

Perhaps it was the combination of Federalist architecture and old cobbeled streets that have soaked the city's history into their bricks. As I walked along the red painted road, history is literally written on the bricks: a placard conveniently notes that this is where the Boston Massacre took place or this is where Paul Revere lived. As I follow the Freedom Trail it shows me spots of great American history. But something else was stiring my patriotism. Perhaps it is was that this day was the 4th of July?

Here's our challenge: see the whole city of Boston in one day. Oh and its 90 degrees outside. Not my usual pace or preferential temperature (I hate sweating) for a vacation but my husband and I wanted to be in Boston on the 4th of July to see the famous fireworks over the Charles River Basin and hear the Boston Pops play. We brilliantly decided to only plan on being in Boston for 48 hours, so we had to arrange a tight schedule.

Day one: We arrived to town just in time for dinner and met up with one of our friends who lives there. His friends had an amazing fireworks viewing spot directly on the river in the Charles River Reservation which they had steaked out the night before at 2am. The crowds were overwelming and everyone was decked out in their best red, white, and blue outfits (or worst in some cases, especially as the night wore on). We all happily tailgated together as we listened to the music and waited for the sun to go down. The fireworks were absolutely the best I have ever seen. The finale gave me goosebumps!

Day two: The Freedom Trail. As if the fireworks weren't enough to get us in the patrotic mood, we decided the best way to cover the most ground would be to walk the ENTIRE Freedom Trail. If you aren't familiar with it, its a line painted on the street which you follow along at your own pace. It leads you through almost the entire city. As you walk, historical points of interest are brought to your attention, sometimes with people in period costumes or special tours. If you don't have much time in Boston, this is a great way to see many of the sights.

We stopped for lunch at the Bell in Hand Tavern which is near the Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall Marketplace. I loved going to the Markets as it brough back childhood memories of when I was there 15 years ago. Then it was special father daughter weekend and this trip was my Honeymoon. Otherwise, it's a tourist trap. Lunch was refreshing and although a bar, the menu was surprisingly varied and tasty. I had a salad and a tall, cold Boston Ale.

We walked along and saw many other historical sights (I don't want to give it all away, you must go see for yourself!) and ended with the USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides". It is important to our Navy's and nations' history. In fact, it was built in the early 1800's, served in the War of 1812, and is still an active duty vessel.  However, if you want to see it I recommend going first thing instead of at the end of the day. I did not appreciate it. By the time we got there, the sweat and tiredness were wearing me thin and I didn't care about waiting in line to see a boat (you had to pay extra for a tour, I'm not sure it was worth it.) My husband bought me ice cream as a consilation and we took the metro back to our hotel. The metro in Boston is clean and easy to use. It reminded me of the metro in Paris.

After a bit of resting, we headed out to dinner at Stephanie's on Newbury. I heard rave reviews from friends and colleagues who live in Boston and it did not dissapoint. They describe their menu as "sophisticated comfort food" and that is exactly what we needed after a long day of walking in the hot summer sun. It was difficult deciding what to eat but I settled on the Porcini Mushroom and Three Cheese Ravioli as I'm a sucker for anything with Truffles in it. I washed it down with some Prosecco, my drink of choice on a hot summer night.

We stayed at the Taj Boston. It is centrally located and their hospitality exceeded my expectations. The staff was friendly, polite, and helpful. The room featured views of the Boston Commons and one could order a specialty bath to be drawn upon returning in the evening (yes please!). They also sprinkled rose petals on our bed as we mentioned it was our Honeymoon. It was a thoughtful gesture that I loved!

The Taj recommended a great spot for brunch, The Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro. We grabbed brunch there on our way out of town the next morning. The rustic, charming decor set a nice background for the food which ranged from simple to complex and from sweet to savory. We got eggs and pancakes (nom nom!). And I ordered American coffee to celebrate the end of our patriotic tour of Boston.
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