How To Have A Staycation

Posted on May 22, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Staycation: A vacation spent at home or nearby(merriam-webster)

Did you know Italy could be in the town right next to yours? And later in the freezer? Italia est mi amor.

At The Colosseum

At The Colosseum

On The Ponte Vecchio

On The Ponte Vecchio

The Vatican On Palm Sunday

The Vatican On Palm Sunday

I’ve been there twice and both times have been pure magic. Looking back at the pictures makes me want to go again. Of course, all of this was pre-foodie days so there’s no pictures  of the mountains of pizza I consumed.

Last night, I decided we’d take a staycation to Italy. Really, do you have to go 1000s of miles to eat good food, overindulge, and open your wallet? Not really. You can do that all at home!

Tomasso

Tomasso

Dinner took place at my favorite Italian restaurant nearby: Tomasso Trattoria. This place is the real deal; I was listening to twitter updates from them all day about how they got a fresh pig in and were roasting it. Heaven.

Roasted Pig With Fennel And Local Greens

Roasted Pig With Fennel And Local Greens

For my Secondi I ordered the special: roasted suckling pig stuffed with garlic and fennel sausage, radicchio in agrodolce, local field greens. With a Contorni:

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Roasted fingerling potatoes with sage. Yes, I am 110% a meat and potatoes person. The fennel was too vinegary for my own taste so I passed those off. I loved how rich and fatty and well cooked the meat was; a little salt and it melted in my mouth. And I think white potatoes are my true passion; these were divine. Another great meal in Italy, err… at Tomasso’s.

Starbucks Sumatra Decaf

Starbucks Sumatra Decaf

All good Italian desserts start with a good cup of coffee. This was to die for. I swear, this Sumatra blend didn’t even need sugar or stevia or any sweetness. I won’t say that about a lot of hot drinks!

Scharffen Berger Bittersweet

Scharffen Berger Bittersweet

For dessert, there was a little dark chocolate. I don’t think I’d tried this one before. Tres magnifique!(yes, I know that’s French). But I think the price and smaller portion will have me not buying this one again.

Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato

Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato

Finally, it was time to get my Italian gelato. I picked up this brand on this blogger’s recommendation. I love how they add a little lemon for a vanilla flavor–so Italian!

Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato

Talenti Tahitian Vanilla Bean Gelato

Dreamy. Creamy. Deliciouso. Do you know the difference between gelato and ice cream? Ice cream legally has 10% or more butterfat, whereas gelato has less. It’s also churned at a slower rate, meaning less air is added into it and the product is denser. That was my Italian history lesson for the day.

Gluten-Free Biscuit With Walnut Butter And Sea Salt

Gluten-Free Biscuit With Walnut Butter And Sea Salt

On the flight home, we had a layover in the South, so I ate one of their biscuits and topped it with Artisana Walnut Butter and sea salt. I hate layovers, but I love these biscuits so I went ahead and ate another.

Oats In A Butter Toffee Peanut Butter Jar, Plain Oikos With Local Honey

Oats In A Butter Toffee Peanut Butter Jar, Plain Oikos With Local Honey

The best part of a staycation? No jet lag. No unpacking. And only a slight sense of “OH, I really need to hit the gym now after that”. Yes, I do believe I’ve found a love for staycation, along with my pre-existing loves for local raw honey and butter toffee peanut butter. Speaking of Naturally Nutty, you can win some in Averie’s giveaway! Let’s recap:

How To Have A Staycation

1. Pick the cuisine. Italian? French? Hell, you could take a whole tour across Europe if you want!

2. Find the local spot. Look for the best “authentic” restaurant. Now is not the time to drive around and stop at the first place called “Georgio’s” only to find it’s a greasy pizza joint.

3. Plan the night out. From dinner to dessert, just have a plan and things will run smoother.

4. Make use of groceries. Now might be a good time and excuse to buy that French wine you’d been eyeing that was out of your budget. Like my gelato, the food frontier doesn’t just have to be in a restaurant.

5. Forget about the costs. Since a staycation is meant to be taken in place of a mini-vacation, treat it like one and let your worries go for the time being.

6. When in doubt, take a rain check. Didn’t get reservations at the restaurant of your dreams? Unless the staycation needs to be taken that day, put it off until you can do it right.

Where do you want to take your next staycation? I think Greece is on the travel plans for me.

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New Plan, Stan

Posted on December 20, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last night, the plan for dinner was Whole Foods turkey(on sale). Well, the smallest turkey was 11 pounds… we’re 3 people. New plan: Dinner at Tomassos! I adore this restaurant, as it’s by far the best one near us, Italian or otherwise. I even dropped some not-so-secret hints last weekend I wanted to go, so I was glad those were picked up. I definitely did not want to go hungry, so I kept snacking on through the afternoon.

Apple

Organic Sprouted Cinnamon Raisin Bread With Macadamia Butter

This was my first time trying macadamia butter, and I have to say the bread really outshined it. It tasted almost precisely like cashew butter(which is the other ingredient in it). It wasn’t bad, and if I were a vegan I could see myself turning to this as a “butter replacement”, but it really didn’t wow me. It seemed like something that could highlight other flavors rather than stand on its own. A little white chocolate with this would have been amazing(Ok, that can be said about a lot of things). We got to the restaurant around 6:30.

Tomassos

I love the open atmosphere; you can see right into the kitchen and the dining room is perfectly arranged for relaxation. The funniest part of the night was when my mom asked our hostess “So is your sister home yet?” with no pretext; last time we were there, we decided that the hostess looked like a girl I went to elementary school with, though we never confirmed this and she clearly had no clue who we were. This time, my mom thought that we had confirmed this with her and she knew who we were, but in reality she gave us a very creeped out glance back. Once we explained things it turned out it was her and she was shocked to come across us. Isn’t it fun running in to old acquaintances?

Pizze Margarita

I had to steal a slice of my parents pizza as an appetizer. This is seriously the best margarita pizza I’ve had outside of Italy, and even then only 1 pizza has ever tops it. It’s perfectly thin and crispy, with an herby sauce and light but fresh cheese. For my dinner I had a really hard time deciding but settled for the maiale

Local Pork With Local Cranberry And Pear Monstrada

I can’t say I’d ever reorder this. The monstrada was delightfully spicy and sweet, but I’m just not someone who can sit down to a big plate of meat and feel good(and that’s all there was on this plate). It felt vulgarly big. I ate most of the leaner meat, but ended up giving 1/3 or so of it to my parents and not feeling particularly satisfied with what I’d eaten. In fact, I was just about downright hangry as we were leaving and other people were talking about how full they were. When I got home, I knew just what I needed.

Brussels Sprouts With Vanilla Sugar

Maybe I should change this blog to VeggieBoy in homage to this lovely blogger(who we should all wish good luck on finishing her finals!). I sprinkled a little vanilla sugar on top because I couldn’t decide if this was a “dessert”. At heart, I’m truly a vegetable lover, which led me to this new plan: Eat meat as a side or seasoning, never more than 1/3 of the meal. Don’t order it while out(I could, but I don’t expect many restaurants to meet the first sentiment, so why set myself up for disappointment?). Maybe those brussels sprouts were more than I expected, because they left me big and bloated. But there’s always room for chocolate!

NibMor Original Style Chocolate

This was a new chocolate I got in the mail yesterday to sample and review by NibMor.

So Delicious Agave Sweetened Plain With Dark Chocolate Newman's Cup And Original NibMor

With a little more chocolate and some soy yogurt to go along side. Yum! This chocolate really impressed me. The flavor was slightly more bitter than I prefer, which was odd because this was a 70% and that’s usually my perfect number. But overall the flavor was good. And I couldn’t get over the fact that this was entirely organic and raw! Seriously, that part astounded me as I couldn’t taste any difference. After posting my peanut butter cookie recipe, a snack plate was in order.

Peanut Butter Cookie, Deep Chocolate Vitatop, Advent Chocolate With Smart Balance Peanut Butter

I don’t think they’re quite as good after being frozen from a week, but oh well. Not quite as good still equaled damn fine for a “healthy” cookie. I ended up getting to bed before 11:30, only to wake up around 3:45 and having difficulty falling back to sleep; I think I was either in anticipation of the snow or workout(both to come). I ended up making some 4am oatmeal to settle myself.

Oatmeal With Honey

McLure's Clover Honey

I don’t usually sweeten my oatmeal with stevia or anything; in fact, I like salty oats. But I thought I’d try out my new honey as I definitely was having a bear’s tooth for it. I only did 1/2 a tablespoon(I was trying tog et back to sleep after all), so I didn’t get a lot of flavor, but what I could taste was so nice and pure. I can’t believe I got this for only $4. I did eventually get to bed, and the snow outside was soooo amazing when I woke up.

7:30am

Could you think of something better to wake up to? Well I spared no time in starting my quest to find some good at home workouts to do over the next 30 days if that’s going to be the case. This morning, I did an overall body core workout first which kicked my butt. I need to readjust it for my level before I go and post anything. That took 30 minutes, and afterwards I did stair iterations for 200 flights, which took another 60 minutes. I was literally dripping sweat by the end but it felt soo good. New plan: Get a workout in every day, even if it’s just some light walking around. You’ll feel so much better once you do! And being couped up at home doesn’t have to be an excuse to get out of exercise. I was so ready for breakfast after showering.

Pumpkin Oatmeal WIth Mighty Maple And Pumkin Cream Cheese

Boulevard's Organic Hot Chocolate With Vegan Fluff

This was perfect for a snowy day. I know she wasn’t the first person ever to do this, but Brandi deserves a huge shout out for reminding me of hot cocoa and fluff. The combination of Boulevard’s Organic and vegan marshmallow spread couldn’t have been simpler and tastier. And I just love my pumpkin oats with mighty maple and pumpkin cream cheese(as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now). But that brings me to a final new plan: Get 2 sources of probiotics a day. Actually, this is a rather old plan of mine, and something I generally do, but I think I need to remind myself of this one. Probiotics from fortified foods is so good for the digestive system and I shouldn’t be skimping. If that means I have to eat frozen yogurt at night, who’s to complain? 😉 Clearly there weren’t any at breakfast which just means I’m going to need to fit them in a bit later.

I can’t believe how much it’s still snowing; this is too perfect!

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Ridiculous And Amazing: Amazing

Posted on October 22, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It would have been ridiculous to leave you hanging with part 1 for too long, so here’s the amazing part of my day yesterday.

We got to the event right on time and the whole place looked stunning:
This was, by all accounts, a foodie heaven. There were even a few other bloggers around, though most were people from corporations or other sources of the media. I really felt like a true food blogger just being there and I can’t wait for more opportunities like that. But I digress, let’s get to the eats!
Believe it or not, these were all just the appetizers and tasters. My easy favorite was the tuna tartar with ahi tuna in a ginger and chile aioli sauce that put my mouth on fire. It was perhaps the peak of ridiculousness, The pecan halibut with local honey mustard sauce was definitely a close runner up. But I did not care for the ritoni or the mahi mahi, both of which were a bit bland. I may have also had a few of these over the course of the night:
Let me set that straight. I had about 3 sips of the apple cider martini(my first alcoholic beverage ever by the way) and about 6 cups of organic decaf coffee. Your boy knows where it’s at. After that came time for the real deal stuff:
These were the courses being judged and they were all worth judging. But my clear favorite of the bunch was the steak with coffee gravy and banana squash puree and whole coffee beans on the top. Oh my god. I could have eaten the entire station of this. I had to shake the chefs hand on my way out and tell him how much in love I was with his dish. It was ridiculous that this didn’t win. The duck with coffee sauce and local produce salad was the judges favorite. That was definitely a strong dish and my 2nd favorite; the only one I didn’t care for was the sea urchin cappuccino, which was basically fish and vanilla cream… in the same cup. There was also a Ben and Jerry’s station with fair trade ice cream including a new flavor!
Unfortunatly, Ben, Jerry, and I are not a friendly crown. Three’s Company, they say. I think it stems from when I ate a pint of Lite Phish Food in one sitting(I‘d like to think this was ridiculous but that would just be an invitation to you all champ eaters to out show me so I won‘t), but ever since it’s been too creamy and thick for my preference, so I passed and went back for 2nds and 3rds on the real food.
Overall it was an amazing night. And the best, most ridiculous part about it was the loot I walked away with:
Umm, let’s see. Full grab bag + red delicious apple + 2 of the biggest yams I’ve ever seen + 2 bags of coffee(and my dad took a 3rd for me). I am well stocked now. Because my class was cancelled, it didn’t make sense for me to go back to Providence, though this clearly showed me how I’d changed. A month ago, I’d have loved any chance to go home; last night I actually would have liked to have gone back to my dorm, in all its food-lacking glory, because that’s where my home is now. But I was not going to make my dad drive for an extra hour plus, so I packed the bare essentials before I left my dorm at 5 and we went to my other home. I was a bit over psyched to find this waiting for me:
The gracious people at Sunland Inc offered to send me some of their nut butter to try. For shipping security reasons, they were sent to my house and arrived on Monday, so I planned on getting them over the weekend anyway. I can not wait to try these; they both sound so good! And banana peanut butter? Does anyone else think that’d go good with a certain recipe of mine?…

We got to the event right on time and the whole place looked amazing:

Chef Station

Chef Station

This was, by all accounts, a foodie heaven. There were even a few other bloggers around, though most were people from corporations or other sources of the media. I really felt like a true food blogger just being there and I can’t wait for more opportunities like that. But I digress, let’s get to the eats!

Roasted Tenderloin With Coffee Demi-Glaze And Simply Whipped Sweet Potato

Roasted Tenderloin With Coffee Demi-Glaze And Simply Whipped Sweet Potato

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar On Naan

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartar On Naan

Sustainable Mahi Mahi With Preserve Peach Chutney And Local Cranberry And Apple Compote

Sustainable Mahi Mahi With Preserve Peach Chutney And Local Cranberry And Apple Compote

Butternut Squash  Risotto Arancini

Butternut Squash Risotto Arancini

Free Range Chicken Sate With Local Peach Chutney

Free Range Chicken Sate With Local Peach Chutney

Rotini Basilica

Rotini Basilica

Pecan Crusted Local Haddock With Local Honey & Mustard Sauce

Pecan Crusted Local Haddock With Local Honey & Mustard Sauce

Apple Stuffed Baked Vermont Brie Pastry

Apple Stuffed Baked Vermont Brie Pastry

Believe it or not, these were all just the appetizers and tasters. My easy favorite was the tuna tartar in a ginger and chile aioli sauce that put my mouth on fire. It was perhaps the peak of amazingness. The pecan halibut with local honey mustard sauce was definitely a close runner up. But I did not care for the arancini, pastry, or the mahi mahi, all of which were a bit bland. I may have also had a bit of this over the course of the night:

Apple Cider Martini

Apple Cider Martini

Let me set that straight. I had about 3 sips of the apple cider martini(my first alcoholic beverage ever by the way. Isn’t that amazing?) and about 6 cups of organic decaf coffee. Your boy knows where it’s at. After that came time for the real deal stuff:

Bacon And Coffee Crusted Pork With Sweet Potato Puree And Vanilla Cayenne Glaze

Bacon And Coffee Crusted Pork With Sweet Potato Puree And Vanilla Cayenne Glaze

Sea Urchin And Coffee Vanilla "Cappuccino"

Sea Urchin And Coffee Vanilla "Cappuccino"

Tea Smoked Sirloin With Banana Squash Puree And Coffee-Sunchoke Gravy

Tea Smoked Sirloin With Banana Squash Puree And Coffee-Sunchoke Gravy

Dark Roast Coffee Marinated Duck  With Parsnip Puree And Vanilla Chimichurri

Dark Roast Coffee Marinated Duck With Parsnip Puree And Vanilla Chimichurri

These were the amazing courses being judged. My clear favorite of the bunch was the steak with coffee gravy and banana squash puree and whole coffee beans on the top. Oh my god. I could have eaten the entire station of this. I had to shake the chefs hand on my way out and tell him how much in love I was with his dish. The duck with coffee sauce and local produce salad was the judges favorite. That was definitely a strong dish and my 2nd favorite. the only one I didn’t care for was the sea urchin cappuccino, which was basically fish and vanilla cream… in the same cup. There was also a Ben and Jerry’s station with fair trade ice cream including a new flavor!

Ben & Jerry's Station

Ben & Jerry's Station

Amazingly, despite all the ice cream I consume, Ben, Jerry, and I are not a friendly crown. Three’s Company, they say. I think it stems from when I ate a pint of Lite Phish Food in one sitting, but ever since it’s been too creamy and thick for my preference, so I passed and went back for 2nds and 3rds on the real food.

Overall it was an amazing night. But the best part was the amazing loot I walked away with:

Swag Bag

Swag Bag

Umm, let’s see. Full grab bag(with Oikos coupons) + red delicious apple + 2 of the biggest yams I’ve ever seen + 2 bags of coffee(and my dad took a 3rd for me). I am well stocked now. Because my class was cancelled, it didn’t make sense for me to go back to Providence, though this clearly showed me how I’d changed. A month ago, I’d have loved any chance to go home; last night I actually would have liked to have gone back to my dorm, in all its food-lacking glory, because that’s where my home is now. But I was not going to make my dad drive for an extra hour plus, so I packed the bare essentials before I left my dorm at 5 and we went to my other home. I was a bit over psyched to find this waiting for me:

Sunland Inc Peanut Butter

Sunland Inc Peanut Butter

The gracious people at Sunland Inc offered to send me some of their nut butter to try. For shipping security reasons, they were sent to my house and arrived on Monday, so I planned on getting them over the weekend anyway. I can not wait to try these; they both sound so good! And banana peanut butter? Does anyone else think that’d go amazing with a certain recipe of mine?…

No night is complete without a few desserts, and after that kingly dinner I still felt like I needed some grains and nuts in my system:
Clif Mountain Mix Mojo
Clif Mountain Mix Mojo
Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin

Deep Chocolate Vitamuffin

This was my first time trying this Mojo bar. On the front it said “peanuts, almonds, raisins, and chocolate chips” and it absolutely delivered! I hate when a bar sounds like one thing but gives you another, but that was basically the gist of the whole thing and it was amazing. I also might have snuck a little “chocolate cake” from the freezer. I didn’t even defrost it so it was like one big chocolate chip.

It was amazing how the little amount of coffee in all those dishes kept me up an extra 30 minutes. When I woke up 70 minutes later than planned, I was a little very flustered. I didn’t have my good shoes, my contacts burned like hell, and I didn’t have my new ipod or running watch. But it was such a beautiful day in N.E. I couldn’t pass up the chance to run on my home turf. All in all, I did a 7.5 mile course in what I think was 60:50. I didn’t have much time for the 1 oatmeal packet I packed, so I made a breakfast to go:

English Muffin With Raspberry Jam And Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter, Chocolate Greek Yogurt With Dark Cherries

English Muffin With Raspberry Jam And Cinnamon Vanilla Sunflower Butter, Chocolate Greek Yogurt With Dark Cherries

Who says you have to go to a fancy shmancy party to eat amazing? I was a bit worried about breakfast because I really wasn’t prepared to eat at home, but I made do with what we had. I added unsweetened cocoa to vanilla yogurt to make it chocolatey, and added some frozen fruit(how I missed thee). Thankfully we had 2 english muffins left in the freezer from God knows when, so I toasted one and used some great spreads. See? I can make do with where I am; I don’t always need to pack for 2 weeks, haha 😛

Healthy Halloween? Sign me up! I still need to find a costume, too…

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