at the end of last year i hosted my second blogger’s networking event at adoro lei in conjunction with the ‘fill a purse for a sister’ campaign. giving back to women in need around the holidays felt AMAZING and i am so happy i had my blogger buds by my side to do it. read on for a full recap of the event, photos by leslie moncada photography, and some background on this fantastic charity. Continue reading “‘fill a purse’ – bloggers give back: my holiday charity event recap!”
on the last day of our weekend getaway to chicago, the hubby and i scheduled a sit down brunch. the hampton social came highly recommended, and the menu looked delicious, so i made a reservation and casually strolled over the day-of. i had no idea i was entering girl heaven. Continue reading “the brunch files: the hampton social, chicago”
a few weekends back i caught up with some of my blogger buds, megan hoole & sami mauskopf, over brunch. i had eaten at the famous jacob’s pickles several times, and due to a tragic fire it shut down (and is slated to reopen next month!) — but in the meantime, i had been dying to try their sister spot, maison pickle. the time came, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! Continue reading “the brunch files: maison pickle, nyc”
while spending the day in georgetown, we happened upon chez billy sud – a lovely french restaurant set inside a historic carriage house. we sat down for what turned out to be an amazingly delicious brunch. Continue reading “the brunch files: chez billy sud, georgetown, d.c.”
i recently ate at pig beach in brooklyn and it was the meat-fest of my dreams. Continue reading “the brunch files: pig beach, brooklyn”
ok, i know i’m biased – but i definitely definitely have the best. hubby. ever. after a (surprise) family bbq in new jersey, followed by a romantic birthday dinner at mission chinese and a few amazing gifts, he went above and beyond to throw me and my closest friends a boozy 30th birthday brunch at nyc’s haven rooftop that was nail-on-the-head blogworthy. Continue reading “mimosas & palm trees: the ultimate boozy (30th!) birthday brunch at nyc’s haven rooftop!”
contrary to it’s name, this restaurant is much more than a diner. set in the heart of miami’s most artsy neighborhood, it has three ‘scenes’ to choose from. the front is your traditional diner-vibe. the middle is considered the ‘cafe’ – patterned floors, mix-matched furnishings, a fully stocked bar, lots of natural light and even a fireplace with love seats…. the cafe is much more swanky than any ‘diner’ i’ve ever seen. the third and final section is an outdoor patio, which is necessary for a great floridian warm-weather dining experience. it has a laid back, almost tiki-hut vibe. another thing that sets this ‘diner’ apart from most is that, in addition to their interior design, the ingredients are also high-quality. with menu options ranging from your basic scrambled eggs & milkshakes to fried green potatoes, duck hash and even steak frites… the wynwood diner brings sophistication to your brunch and i was not mad about it.
we chose to sit in the ‘cafe’ and i had a major #cheatmeal by splurging on the buttermilk pancakes, which were totally worth it. mom had the ‘mean bean burger’ – a favorite of hers – and something that’s not often featured on standard menus, so she was super happy she found it and even changed her order once she realized it was an option!
overall, we loved this hidden gem in the heart of the wynwood arts district. i could totally see this being the hangout spot for local creatives, and as an artsy person myself, i was diggin’ the vibes! thanks to wynwood diner for a fabulous meal, top notch ingredients and a hip aesthetic. follow me on instagram to stay in the loop!
mid-february, my mom and i took a long weekend in miami which is one of our favorite cities. we try to get away together once a year for some quality bonding time. during our stay i spent my days relaxing poolside at the delano, working on some spring looks using miami’s art deco district as my backdrop, and eating many amazing meals: which is why i couldn’t return to new york without adding something to the ‘food’ tab. i’m a creature of habit, so two out of our four dinners were at places i’d consider ‘old favorites’ – but for the sake of the blog, and my taste buds, i made sure to try two new restaurants. today, the spotlight is on byblos miami.
byblos is situated in the shorecrest building, a part of the royal palm hotel. the minute you enter, you feel like you’ve left south beach behind as your senses tour the most luxurious corners of the middle east, northern africa and the mediterranean. bold, mix-matched ikat prints adorn the chairs, cushions, drapes and pillows. lanterns line the stairways. pops of mosaic catch your eye. every now and then you’ll spot a bit of patterned wallpaper that blends so well you almost didn’t notice it was there. this space was designed with expert perfection, sans kitschiness – without feeling gimmicky – and all the while paying homage to the eclectic mix of cultures that comprise the menu.
we were greeted by a staff that was passionate about educating their guests on the different types of foods offered at byblos. the menu hosts a wide variety of options that are out-of-the-box in comparison to what you’d see at any of my ‘old favorite’ spots. to drink, byblos offers ultra-purified vero water, an eco-friendly bottled water system that produces super filtered, crisp-tasting water in both still and sparkling options. it sounds ridiculous, but this water actually was incredibly delicious. the glass bottles are reusable, and at only $3 per person for an unlimited supply, a restaurant providing vero offers an affordable alternative to pricey bottled water. off the cocktail list, i tried the classic byblos margarita. the mediterranean salt rim was a nice touch, adding subtle flair to an otherwise consistent, traditional marg.
on to the appetizers: mom and i were thrilled with our choices – the lamb ribs basically melted off the bone, and the falafel salad was light and refreshing. at the suggestion of our server and manager georgio, we also tried the spanish octopus which was spiced with a gentle chili vinaigrette and garnished with fingerling potato. in full disclosure, i am not too much of a fish eater…. but wow, wow, wow. for a dish that i would have never ordered on my own, this octopus was to die for.
our main courses were equally delicious. one thing i’d like to say about byblos is that while they use many spices that go against the grain, their food never feels overpowering. my mom, for example, has a more traditional palette – she’s not a big fan of thai or indian cuisine, because there’s just ‘too much going on’…. yet she loved her byblos experience and felt that every dish was flavored just enough, a high praise coming from her! speaking of, she ordered the yogurt baked fluke with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and i opted for the a5 japanese wagyu beef with shaved truffle and a side of hand-rolled couscous flavored with brown butter and saffron. it all felt hearty, authentic, and each dish was really memorable. i sit here writing this nearly two weeks later, and i can almost taste it as i describe everything we ate that night.
as though we needed anything more, we topped off our meal with some coffee and dessert. the strawberry cheesecake qatayef was lovely, but for me the star of the show was the baklava ice cream sandwich, accented by two pizelles that have been smothered in a salted-caramel-couscous praline. yes, you heard that correctly. this dessert is an innovative and culturally relevant twist on a staple that we all know and love, and it did not disappoint.
overall, we loved byblos miami. it’s an outpost of the original toronto location, and is branching out further – with another opening in dubai. if you’re looking for a unique culinary experience with an aesthetic to match, byblos is a top notch option in the miami beach area. many thanks to georgio and the byblos team for hosting us so graciously. i have a feeling i’ll be adding byblos to my list of ‘old favorites’.
if you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about dō…. new york city’s first ‘ice cream parlor’ style sweetshop dedicated solely to cookie dough. founded by kristen tomlan, this cookie dough is made with pasteurized egg product – eliminating all chance of salmonella, and making it completely safe to consume in large (ungodly) quantities. aside from the fact that i needed to try this immediately, i wanted to support (and blog about) this business because it’s the brainchild of a female entrepreneur who is a shining example of someone who is building an empire doing what she loves, while leaving her corporate ‘desk job’ in the dust.
this post is coming at you way later than i would have wanted. i had planned to check out dō during the opening weekend of it’s brick & mortar shop in greenwich village on sunday january 29th…. but was devastated when i found out that it was such a hit in their first few days of operation that they needed to close up shop until they re-stocked their dough! so i was set back by a week and wound up going on saturday, february 4th. i thought perhaps by then the hype would have died down, but it seems this is the ‘cronut’ all over again. my husband and i arrived at 2:20pm and the line was hundreds of people long…. spanning down the entire block to the opposite corner. i wasn’t about to have another setback. i prepared myself mentally and emotionally for this. i was leaving with cookie dough, whether he liked it or not. so we waited……. and waited…….. (and waited)
i kid you not…. it was 4:45pm when we made it to the front entrance of the shop. tack on another 15 minutes indoors, and by 5 o’clock we had our dough in-hand! i opted for chocolate chip in a cake batter cone. stephen had 1/2 oatmeal 1/2 chocolate chip in a cake batter cone, and then (of course) we got some to-go containers: more oatmeal, and ‘salty & sweet’. my intention is to try baking these…………. but we’ll see if that actually happens! (update: i baked the oatmeal and dominated the ‘salty & sweet’ before it even had a chance. the ‘salty & sweet’ wound up being my favorite of all the flavors i tried.)
i was loving the interior design, and i wasn’t surprised at all when i learned that kristen’s degree is in just that! the aesthetic is modern, clean but colorful, with floral accents throughout. and my favorite: a giant neon sign at the entryway… a talking piece that every patron feels the need to take a photo of. i make no exception.
we had an awesome experience at dō and will definitely be going back… when the lines are shorter! if you’re looking for a fantastic alternative to ice cream (with gluten free and vegan options!) this place is a winner. in fact, i can’t believe someone hasn’t thought of this sooner. major props to kristen and the whole dō team as they ride a rocket ship straight to the top of the (junk)food chain. your creation is dōlicious!!! follow dō on facebook and instagram for some major #dessertgoals and comment below with the next cookie dough creation you’d like to see featured at this boutique shop!
when i’m traveling, i like to do the whole “save the best for last” thing. it’s fun to go out with a bang and leave on an amazing note. naturally, i planned our last dinner in scottsdale to be the best restaurant – according to what i had read in reviews, and from what i had thought after viewing countless menus. so i had a teeny tiny lump in my throat when we arrived to this first-come-first-serve mexico city soul food spot and it was jam packed. with a flight to catch and a 45 minute wait, we were ready to turn around and find another place to go when two glorious seats opened up at the bar. this was it…. we were finally eating at barrio queen.
we started with some drinks and an appetizer. i had the ‘la picosita’…. a spicy margarita made with chile-infused tequila. it paired perfectly with our queso fundido, which was incredible. queso can be tricky, because the cheese can get a little rubbery after a while. i wish i could say “in this case, the texture was perfect well after our order was set in front of us!” but my actual response is: in this case, i wouldn’t know, because we inhaled it all within five minutes and were scraping our plates clean. an equal, if not greater compliment.
in between our app and our main course, i wandered off to check out the rest of the restaurant. the decor was super cool, with an urban, industrial vibe and pops of mexican flair. they are big on the sugar skull, which is one of my favorite symbols. i did some epic dia de los muertos makeup this past halloween. i also own a bag, some artwork, and a few other random items that have sugar skulls in the design. needless to say, i was diggin the vibes at this place. i also must note that i got way too excited to see “christmas” lights – shaped like jalapeños – on a cactus. it’s the little things…………
after my brief tour of barrio-land, i sat back down to have some of their famous tacos. i started with the al pastor, which is a chile marinated pork taco that comes straight from mexico city. then i had a traditional carne asada (a staple for me)… and my last was our waiter’s personal favorite suggestion: barrio pollo con chorizo. spice-rubbed chicken, onion, poblano, and a spicy piñon cream sauce topped with chorizo and cilantro. this was literally heaven on a dish. i actually pulled our waiter aside and thanked him for the suggestion. don’t get me wrong – i’m happy i tried all three – but i could have had five more of those had i not used incredible restraint…….. but really, how many tacos is too many anyway?
we had such a great time at this restaurant. from the colorful and festive interior accents to the unique “street food” twist on traditional mexican cuisine, barrio queen is a scottsdale must-try. there are tons of menu options and so many tequilas to try. if you’re a fan of mexican food and you’re in the new york city area, i would liken barrio queen to one of our favorites, dos caminos, in that this eatery fuses urban flair with traditional flavor.