Destination: San Diego

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There’s something to be said about what a few days away in the sun can do for a girl’s (or guy’s for that matter!) soul.

Before I leave for anywhere out of the town, my mind is at its max. There is a constant re-playing of all the things I need to do before I leave running through my head. It’s like: “Attention! ATTENTION! You need to do ALL THE THINGS!!”. (Including silly little things like get my nails done…first world problems…)

Similar to the concept I teach in yoga classes: ‘Maximum effort, maximum relaxation’. Do all the things are quickly as possible before you run out of time, and then, do nothing at all until you return. Well nothing except eat, drink, and explore. My kind of vacation indeed.

Here’s a wrap up of the best things from San Diego:

Tacos:

Herb tortilla tacos with tamarind-chili drunken shrimp from Puesto at The Headquarters. Love that they use sustainably-sourced meats and organic/local ingredients!

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View:

La Jolla Cove. Enough said.

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Drink:

This dehydrated mango/lime/chili infused tequila, agave nectar, and lime juice margarita with a seaweed ice cube from George’s At The Cove. Talk about unique!

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Food experience:

In-N-Out Burger. It was my first time – no judgement please!

 

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Dessert:

My birthday sea urchin cookie/french vanilla ice cream/half chocolate-half cinnamon cookie from Water Grill. Everything at that restaurant was spot, especially the clam chowder and Chilean sea bass!

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Traveling partner:

This guy. Like there’s any competition. :)

 

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Airport food:

Lemonade (Seasonal California Comfort Food)

Love the variety of fresh salads they have here (and their deliciously fresh and unique lemonade flavors – thus the name!). Like this corn and sweet potato salad, arugula with cheese and blue cheese, and turmeric thyme corn chowder.

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We also visited the San Diego Zoo, checked out Coronado Beach (and picked some seashells for my collection at home!), strolled along the La Jolla boardwalk, spent the afternoons by the pool, and checked out Ballast Point brewery.

All in all, it was a fun-filled sun-filled (my take on sun’s out, guns out) and relaxing trip. Just what this girl needed!

Did I mention it’s supposed to be in the 50s next week in MN?! Bring on the early spring!!

Have a great week, friends. Till next time!

Eating Adventures Abroad: Denver, CO

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I’m baaaccckkk! It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post. Mostly because I’ve been out of town since last Wednesday, and partly because I was busy celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this weekend with friends and family (it is my favorite holiday after all!). Regardless, it’s good to be back.

Last week I attended a service learning conference in Denver. You see, I’m in charge of the community garden we are starting at my school. School gardens increase student’s awareness of fruits and vegetables, instill pride, and help build a connection between the land and what they eat. Alright, enough about school gardens. You can tell I’m a big fan :)

I have only been to Colorado once, and that was back in the day when I was visiting a friend in New Mexico. We drove up to Durango, and rode her dad’s horses around the town. It was a pretty cool place, definitely a little “western”.

So Denver was a new experience for me. First off, the altitude kicked my butt! I just could not get enough water in me. It probably didn’t help that I had at least two beers each night. You would too if there were that many cool brewpubs to visit and local brews to sample!

Denver was a bit similar to Minneapolis. Business people everywhere, and a street like Nicollet Ave. with no cars, a bus that goes up and down, and lots of shops/restaurants. Except we don’t have skier/snowboarders walking around. Nor is pot legal. Nor can you see the mountains. Ok so maybe not that similar!

Here was the view from my hotel room:

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Yep you don’t see that every day.

The food and drinks were not too shabby either. I would definitely go back to sample some more (and next time perhaps hit the slopes!). Here were some of our stops along the way:

Upon checking in to our hotel, we headed to a place called the Yard House. Apparently they are all around the US. Although I usually like to keep my dining experiences local and specific to the city I’m in, this was not a bad place to start. Ridiculous amount of beers on tap. Had something called the Boulder Hazed and Confused. Oh my goodness, so good!

Also had the Thai Chicken Noodle Salad. With egg noodles, grilled chicken, broccoli-carrot-daikon-cabbage-cilantro slaw and spicy peanut vinaigrette. And spicy was it ever! Really fresh, with great flavors and texture. Unfortunately I did not take a picture. It was our first stop, and the last thing on my mind at that point.

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Next place we stopped at the Paramount Cafe, in the old Paramount Theatre building.

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The concession stands were turned into the bar, and the whole place was like stepping back in time. We had a really cool waiter. And being it was my birthday, he brought me one of these for free:

20130313_181340 A Cheesecake Burrito! Their homemade cheese cake, wrapped up in a tortilla and fried. Topped with strawberries, whip cream, and caramel sauce. Um, hello! It was definitely delish. But definitely not healthy. Nor was it likely clean. However, a girl’s gotta splurge on her birthday! And luckily, I had four other people to help me take it down :)

After that there was one more stop for the night: The Mellow Mushroom. Another restaurant that has multiple locations around the US. However, they make their own pizza crust in house, and man was it good! Their bar pretzels are made of the same stuff. Big and fluffy and soft. Seriously, look at these things!

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We also ordered a Magical Mystery Tour pizza, with a pesto base, button and Portobello mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach and jalapeños on a pesto basted crust. It was goooood. It also didn’t hurt that we were several beers in. No, I did not take a picture. At this point, I had forgotten about my blog aspirations :)

That was Wednesday. We have two more days people!

Thursday night we visited the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Colorado’s first brewpub and Denver’s first craft brewery. They brew some crazy beers, one brewed with jalapeños, another with bull’s testicles. What?! Yep, you heard me right. The beer is called Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. And no, I did not try it.

The beers were good, and so was the food. I ordered the Buttermilk Fried Chicken. With yukon mashers, herb gravy, and a homemade biscuit. Some of the best fried chicken I’ve ever had. Man was it rich! The potatoes and gravy were of the melt-in-your-mouth kind. I even got a surprise side of broccoli, you know, to trick the body into thinking it’s eating healthy :)

Again, no picture. Because I’m lame! Or because I was so caught up in the moment, I forgot. Although the chicken was fried, everything else was made from scratch, so I’m going to give it an ok clean rating. However, I don’t eat this stuff on a regular occurrence, and neither should you!

Check it out online here: http://www.wynkoop.com

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On Friday I had a little time to explore on my own. Found a neat little boutique that was having a going-out-of-business “party”. Complete with free wine, beer, and popcorn. Oh and a band inside the store. If that’s how they do things in Denver, we need to follow here in Minneapolis!

Then I stumbled upon this place:

20130315_173253 The Market at Larimer Square. Everything is made in-house. I enjoyed some Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream from a local creamery. Seriously, so creamy and delicious!

20130315_173320 I highly recommend a stop at this place if you’re ever in Denver. Check it online here: http://themarketatlarimer.com/about/

Our last night in Denver, we headed to another brewpub, Renegade Brewing. It’s a smaller brewpub, having just opened in 2011. We ordered a sample of each to start. You can see my coworker trying to snag one before I snapped the pic! My favorite was the Rye IPA, Ryetous (second in from the right, if you must know!) :)

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Being we hadn’t grabbed dinner yet, we ate at the food truck parked outside, Quiero Arepas. I had the reina pepiada: shredded chicken breast, avocado and a citrus-avocado dressing stuffed inside a corn based “flat” bread. It hit the spot.

And that was my taste of Denver! Next time I’d like to hit up a few more local spots (when I’m not with a group, and have got a car!). But all in all, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Did I mention the weather was in the 70s and sunny? It is one degree outside today in Minneapolis. ONE degree! Remind me, why do I live here again?!

Oh that’s right, I love it here. I truly do. Some days it just takes a little more convincing :)

Eating Adventures Abroad: Philadelphia!

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One of my most dearest friends (whom I’ve known a very loooong time) just recently had a baby. Such a crazy moment you realize you are old enough to actually want to have children :) Ha! But seriously, I knew this girl since we were in 1st grade, playing on the playground together. Swimming in her pool together.  Having sleepover parties together. Chasing boys together. It was a bittersweet moment when she got married and moved to Philly (miles and miles from cold Minneapolis!). Sweet as she met such a wonderful guy to share her life with. Bitter as the only time I see her now is when she comes home for the holidays (or another friend’s wedding!). However, it is a good excuse to go visit (even though it took her having a baby for me to get there!). And that’s exactly what myself and a couple of friends did. Took a long weekend to go see our friend and her darling little girl. And darling she is!

Besides hanging out with baby, drinking wine, and watching the Vikings vs. Packers game (I won’t divulge any more on that one), we did make it out to downtown Philly one day. Had to get us some Philly sandwiches! And not to mention the weather was in the mid-forties (heaps warmer than it was back here in MN during that time!) and perfect for seeing the sights.

If you have been to Philly and never been to Reading Terminal Market (or are going to Philly in the future!), I highly recommend checking it out the next time you’re there. It’s this crazy market full of seafood, and produce, and bakeries, and restaurants, and flowers, and loads more! Everything a decent market should have.

Photo courtesy of readingterminalmarket.org

First stop, Molly Malloy’s gastropub. 24 beers on tap. Pretty much all local. Love it! I had Troegs Mad Elf Ale. With 11% alcohol content. You can imagine how spectacular I was feeling after that beer :)

Next stop, DiNic’s, Adam Richman of the Travel Channel’s pick for best sandwich in America. Pulled pork with spinach, hot peppers, and sharp provolone. Mmm. No Philly with Cheez Whiz for this girl!

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Some of the girls got yummy looking crepes, some freshly baked cookies. One had a smoothie. Honestly the food selection there is outstanding! Again, if you’re heading to Philly, make sure to stop at Reading Terminal Market. Grab a local beer at Molly Malloy’s and a famous Philly sandwich from DiNic’s. You won’t regret it, I promise :)

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Eating Adventures Abroad: Lanzarote, Spain

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For those of you who don’t know me, my dad lives in Ireland (which is a very long story!). However, during the winter months he escapes the rain and wind and cold, and vacations in the Canary Islands. The island of Lanzarote to be specific. Besides getting to see my dad, it’s hard to resist the nice warm sunny weather during the cold snowy winter we have here in Minnesota. So over school break, I flew out to spend Christmas with mi padre. Beautiful sights, delicious food, warm sunny weather…yep it’s hard to beat! Here’s a little taste:

First stop, the Minneapolis airport. Yep, didn’t make it too far without something to eat :) Surdyk’s liquor has an express store in which you can buy some yummy freshly baked treats. This ham and cheese Brioche was just the thing to get this party, err trip, started. So flaky and delicious. Mmm.

20121224_120233 Three hour layover in Chicago. Time for lunch! Rick Bayless has his lovely Frontera Grill in the Chicago airport. For starters I had a beautiful corn and poblano chowder, with just the right amount of spice.

20121224_144238 And then the beer-braised beef short ribs torta. The awesome thing about this place, is they are big on all-natural, organic, locally grown/raised food. So tasty and clean. Doesn’t get any better than that!

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Due to the size of the torta, I had to wrap up half for the plane ride later. (And even brought the bf one on the way home!).

After an 8 hour flight to Spain, 5 hour layover in Madrid, and 2.5 hour flight to Lanzarote, I finally made it! That night for Christmas we celebrated with a nice little BBQ. Complete with chicken and steak, and an assortment of salads. Not your typical Midwest Christmas, but I’m not complaining about being able to eat outside to celebrate the holiday!

The next morning we had what is a typically popular breakfast in that area. Fried egg (over easy), the most delicious bacon I’ve ever had, a tomato slice, and a slice of toast with butter and orange marmalade. Oh and fruit. But that’s pretty typical everywhere :) Seriously, that bacon. I would go back just for that.

That night we went to eat at a nice Italian place to celebrate Boxing Day. Had by far the most amazing seafood pasta I have ever tasted. Actually, the most amazing pasta ever. And I have eaten my fair share of pasta in my day. Complete with mussels, clams, calamari (The softest, most tender calamari I’ve ever tried. I didn’t think I really liked calamari, but I think it was just that I have never had really good calamari until now!), and shrimp. In some type of light tomato sauce that was seriously to die for.

20121226_214055 Within the next couple of days I had eaten my way through some lovely seafood dishes, and some typical European ones as well. It’s a good thing we were doing lots of walking!

One night we took a drive to little seaside village. There were a few restaurants in the town, but one right on the ocean. I mean right on the ocean. This was the view from our table:

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I ordered the Seafood Soup to start. More clams, shrimp, and calamari. Mmm mmm!

20121228_195605 We also visited the Timanfaya National park, where we got to see some crazy beautiful volcanoes.

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I wasn’t kidding people. There was even a restaurant there which had built grills into the side of the volcano in order to cook with! Now you don’t see that very often.

That same day we went to the one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve been to. I mean, look at that view! And that little white building? That’s a restaurant. Didn’t actually eat there, but still, how cool!

And on the very last day, my dad and I made a trip up into the mountains to check out this authentic, cute-as-could-be, Spanish bakery. Literally, it was like heaven in there! So many beautiful little danishes, donuts, pastries, biscuits, and perfectly formed loaves of bread. We had a sampling, of course :)

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That was pretty much the gist of the trip. Oh and I got to see a camel. Look, we’re friends! :)

Did I mention the beautiful beaches?

That’s all for now.

Happy Clean Eating!