Hautetravel

Friday #Photo-cation, Provincetown, MA: Haute Travel

a perfect view from the Red Inn

a perfect view from the Red Inn

Summer is the best time to visit Cape Cod, so this ode to summer comes from one of my favorite spots on the Cape, Provincetown!  If you are in Provincetown, you have to stop in at Red Inn for a drink, snack and an amazing view (the spot where this shot was taken).  The crystal blue water will take your breath away, and when you go in July or August, its warm enough to dip into.  The Cape has a lot of great cities, but P-town will always have a special place in my heart.

Ahh…summer bliss.  Have a happy and haute weekend everyone!

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Eating my way through Chicago: Haute Eats, Haute Travel

delicious cheese stuffed peppers at RPM Italian

delicious cheese stuffed peppers at RPM Italian

Wow, that sounds gluttonous doesn’t it…

I’ll qualify this post by saying this was my birthday week in Chicago, but also by saying I love the Chicago food scene.  I hit up some amazing restaurants during my last trip out there, and had to share some of the haute eats with you!

First night dinner – RPM Italian

This was a kick-off the weekend dinner, and RPM provides quite a scene to do it.  I wasn’t sure if I was in a restaurant or a club, with the crowds, packed bar and constant carding (thank you age gods).  We were seated in the bar area in a nice large booth, perfect for people watching and enjoying the meal.  We had lots of goodies, from the table treat – cheese stuffed peppers above – to the ricotta spread, to several pastas and risottos we tried. Overall, it was a fun meal at a lively venue, but not my favorite of the week.  Maybe because I am less of a pasta person in general.

pastas galore at RPM Italian

pastas galore at RPM Italian

delicious ricotta at RPM Italian

delicious ricotta at RPM Italian

 

Day 2 Breakfast – Stan’s Donuts

This was an unexpected treat, some post workout donuts from Stans (super healthy, right).  We grabbed some, including the maple cinnamon pretzel roll, and the bacon maple bar, to bring back home. Not ignoring the delicious Molly’s cupcakes we ate, but those were for a sweet treat later in the evening (my favorite was the red velvet with cream cheese frosting).

sweet bday treats - famous Stan's Donuts and Molly's Cupcakes

sweet bday treats – famous Stan’s Donuts and Molly’s Cupcakes

 

Day 2 Brunch – Siena Tavern

I am a Top Chef junkie, so nabbing a table for a big brunch group at Siena Tavern was amazing.  One of the restaurants of fan favorite Fabio Vivani, this spot is a lively and open space, perfect for adults and kids on a Saturday morning.  We tried a bunch of things, from the salads, to the fries with sage and parmesan (yummy, even though I am not a fries person), as well as brussel sprouts, eggs dishes, pizza and pancakes.  (Just about everything it would seem)  My favorites were the brussel sprouts and the cheese pizza, but my almond pancakes weren’t half bad either.  Check out some of the highlights below.

eggs benedict special at Siena Tavern

eggs benedict special at Siena Tavern

almond pancakes at Siena Tavern

almond pancakes at Siena Tavern

yummy pizza and brussels at Siena Tavern

yummy pizza  and farro salad at Siena Tavern

 

Day 2 Dinner – Boka

We classed it up a bit for dinner, with a trip to the newly reopened Boka.  After hearing rave reviews from a friend, I had to check it out.  We dined on some delicious gnudi as an appetizer, every salad on the menu (loved the asparagus with green goddess dressing) and I had halibut for dinner (a bit buttery for me sadly).  The final treat was some chocolate, salty, raspberry delight, which I was happy to indulge in. Forgot to snap a lot of pics, cause we were focused on chatting and celebrating, but it was a lovely dinner.

sweet treat at Boka

sweet treat at Boka

 

Day 2 Night Out – Untitled

Indulged on many of my favorite cocktail there, the Cucumber Vodka Gimlet (the best way I can order a limey, cucumbery, vodkay drink).  Delicious, and dangerous.

cucumber limey vodkay drink from another spot - just for inspiration

cucumber limey vodkay drink from another spot – just for inspiration

Day 3 – Brunch/Afternoon Snack

Stopped in to Goddess and the Grocer for a lovely veggie and green goddess sandwich to help recover.  No photo taken on this day, but this is what it looks like on their website.  Dinner was homemade salad and some red wine love.

photo credit - goddessandthegrocer.com

photo credit – goddessandthegrocer.com

 

Day 4 Dinner – Summer House

California meets Chicago at Summer House, which is exactly what the doctor ordered after some major eating all weekend.  The cuisine is super light, fresh and delicious, and the seating is like an outdoor patio but indoors (cause it’s Chicago after all).  We had the japanese eggplant (amazing) and the roasted cauliflower, ahi tuna mini-tostadas, and the veggie tacos (heaven on a plate).  This may rack up as mu favorite meal of the trip!

countdown to summer at Summer House

countdown to summer at Summer House

ahi tuna mini-tostadas

ahi tuna mini-tostadas

veggie tacos - so amazing

veggie tacos – so amazing

 

Day 5 Lunch – Little Goat

Another Top Cheffer!  And a local favorite, Stephanie Izard kicked off the the famous Girl and the Goat, and then came back with Little Goat.  It’s diner food at it’s best, with lots of breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings.  I had the shrimp and grits (love southern food) and my friend Jeff had the french toast with fried chicken bites hidden on the plate.  Totally delicious!

shrimp and grits at Little Goat

shrimp and grits at Little Goat

Jeff about to devour the French Toast at Little Goat

Jeff about to devour the French Toast at Little Goat

 

Day 5 Dinner – Adobo Grill 

For the last meal, we headed to Adobo Grill, for some Mexican-style comfort food.  Located in Old Town, its a cute little spot, with a lot of great eats.  I had some spicy margaritas, fresh guacamole, Adobo salad with cilantro-lime vinaigrette and tamarind chicken tacos. We ended the meal with a final sweet treat, tres leeches cake (quite appropriate since I went off dairy the next day – but that is for another post).

Guac and chips - half-eaten ;) - at Adobo Grill

Guac and chips – half-eaten 😉 – at Adobo Grill

spicey margarita at Adobo Grill

spicy margarita at Adobo Grill

Tres Leches Cake at Adobo Grill

Tres Leches Cake at Adobo Grill

 

Whew – that was a lot of haute eats!  Can’t wait to go back to Chicago and check out some new (for me) spots like Japonais by Morimoto (fresh tofu anyone), Schwa, and others…and revisit some Chicago Faves like ING, Balena, Quartino, and others.

Hope this is haute inspiration for your next Chicago trip!

 

Take a Portugal mini-break: Haute Travel

lisboa on the sea

lisboa by the sea

Ah lovely Lisboa by the sea…a picturesque memory I will hold in my mind forever…

Considering a trip to Portugal?  If not, you should. I took a mini-break (also known as a mini vacation to US folks) to Portugal a few years ago, and I still remember it as one of my favorite European trips.  Why you may ask?  Well Europe has a lot to offer in general, but this was an unexpected treat, and a country which I remember as the “California of Europe”.  I visited in November, when it was cold in most of Western Europe, and picked Portugal because it was the furthest south I could go.  It was a random trip turned wonderful, on the seafront and beyond.

Check out my itinerary for your mini-break to Portugal.

  1. Day 1 -2: arrive and explore Lisbon
  2. Day 3: drive to Oporto and enjoy some Port wine
  3. Day 4:  Explore Oporto and drive to Sintra
  4. Day 5:  leave Lisbon

Day 1 – 2: arrive in Lisbon in the evening, grab dinner and walk around the city at night.  Spend the next day exploring the city on a walking tour.  We did a Lisboa Walker tour of the Old Town (Alfama) and Downtown areas, to get a sense of the city.  Note: If you are walking around Lisbon, be sure to bring comfy shoes as the streets are covered in limestone, and may cause treacherous walking in heels.  Also, if you are into sweet day drinks, try the Ginja, which is a cherry brandy loved by all the locals.

in Comercio Square

in Comercio Square

limestone streets of Lisboa

limestone streets of Lisboa

Comercio Square from above

Comercio Square from above

Igrega de Carmo in Lisbon

Igrega de Carmo in Lisbon

The Se in Lisbon

The Se in Lisbon

Next we headed out on our own to check out the Castello de Sao Jorge, on the hilltop above the city.  And explored the waterfront area, rich with beautiful museums, cathedrals, and history.

Castello de Sao Jorge

Castello de Sao Jorge

Monastery de Saint Jeronimo

Monastery de Saint Jeronimo

Henry the Navigator monument

Henry the Navigator monument

Lisbon’s history is rich in sea-faring travel, so it’s apt that they salute one of their best Navigators, Henry (monument pictured above).   After a busy day exploring and eating through the city, we ended up in the Barrio Alto for dinner and drinks.  This is my favorite part of Lisbon, as it is super lively, boasts great food, and attracts locals and tourists alike.  Imagine a Friday night here, where people pour into the streets with drinks and music, grab a Capirhinia and chill out in the crowds.

Day 3:  The next day, we headed north bright and early, to make the drive to Oporto (about 4 hours away from Lisbon), which is the city of Port Wine on the Douro River.  You can cruise the river and visit wine stores, or you can explore the city like we did.  We hit up some wineries, first and foremost, to taste delicious Port.  I admit, until this trip I never tried or liked the idea of Port, but after it I was sold.  We visited Taylors, Croft and Sandman, and picked up some Port wine learning and bottles along the way.

port wine in oporto

port wine in oporto

oporto by the river

oporto by the river

Compared to Lisboa, Oporto is a crazy and packed city, situated around the river on two hills.  Its breathtaking and amazing to visit, but best done by foot except if you are visiting the wineries.  After our wine, we headed for a mediterranean-style dinner of branzino and more wine (Vinho Verde this time – which is a “green” wine from Portugal).

The next day we explored Oporto in the morning, before heading back south towards Lisbon. I made sure to grab some roasted chestnuts, which you can find all over the country, for the road trip back.

the se- oporto

the se- oporto

grabbing some chestnuts for the road trip in Oporto

grabbing some chestnuts for the road trip in Oporto

Day 4: We made it to Sintra (just south of Lisbon) in time to explore the lovely and magnificent Quinta da Regaleira, a palace/garden/grotto which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.  It is the most beautiful enchanted palace/garden you will see in a while, and was a blast to explore.  It came complete with views of the Castello at Sintra.

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

Quinta da Regaleira

 

castle at sintra

castle at Sintra

After another tiring day, and a short drive to Lisboa, we munched on a dinner of seafood risotto and grilled vegetables in the Barrio Alto, and packed in for the end of the mini break.

Day 5: sadly leaving Lisboa was our activity on this last day of the mini-break.  While there was so much more to see, I am confident I will make it back and get to visit the Algarve (the ritzy southern coast), or try out some Pousadas (old palaces which you can visit and stay in all over Portugal).  I also recommend trying the Solar de Lisboa – an institute celebrating the wine of Portugal, where you can taste wine and relax in the busy city.

Hope this gives you some inspiration to visit Portugal on your next European mini-break, it’s a Haute Travel must do!