A Weekend In Brussels

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetTraveling to Europe during the holidays is always a magical experience. Between winter markets, dustings of snow down historical alleyways, and all sorts of seasonal culinary specialities, there really are endless excuses for journeying across the pond in December. A city that I have managed to get to know quite well over the years, thanks to a program in university, is Brussels. And fortunately, schedules finally aligned with my mother and I, that we were able to travel around the holiday season together. I was so excited to show her my old stomping grounds, including watering holes like Delirium Cafe and Madame Moustache, a small but amazing sandwich shop that I still don’t know the name of where I ate literally three times a week, and the architectural beauties of the city from the Galerie St. Royal, Grand Place, and several churches – one that was even host to a royal wedding.

The thing about a quick trip to Europe is that you need to stay centrally. While this might be a splurge up front, it saves you tons of time, allowing you to see more during your brief journey. We were lucky to be able to snag ourselves a room at the Hotel Amigo – a Rocco Forte property, right next to Grand Place. We didn’t know when we booked, but the hotel ended up being home to many dignitaries during a meeting at the EU Parliament. We obviously became quickly aware upon our arrival as we were greeted by the Politie along with the bellman, but this didn’t disrupt our stay in the least. A few other celebrity sightings ensued during our stay, further solidifying we made the right decision when booking for our quick trip. Because everyone deserves a little luxury every now and then, amiright?!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetOur plans for the weekend were as follows: drop our bags in our room and explore Brussels ’til we dropped on Day 1, book a train for a quick day trip to Paris on Day 2, do a half day in Brugge on Day 3, and sleep like babies on the plane home the following morning. Aggressive, I know, but when you can only take so much time off, you work to pack everything in. My mom says it’s a ‘marathon and a sprint’ all at the same time. She got used to this pace of travel on our last trip to Scotland, so when I invited her, I swear she knew what she was getting into.

After dropping our bags in our gorgeous suite, and doing a quick refresh, we were ready to hit the cobblestone streets running. We started by grabbing a quick lunch at Au Vieux Saint Martin. This is truly a local spot, and a hell of a place for me to brush up on my French. The waitress was patient with me, and thankfully we didn’t get too many weird looks from neighboring tables. After some tasty nourishment, we took by foot around the whole city. One of the great things about Brussels is that it is quite easy to see by walking. There are a few things like the Atomium that are a little more out of the way, but a lot of the heavy hitting sites are all in one place.

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The Brussels Museum in Grand Place.
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Galerie St. Royal looking extra glittery during the holidays.

If you just have a day or two in Brussels, I would recommend seeing:

  • Grand Place – The light show during the holiday is super entertaining, and all of the building could be stared at for hours!
  • Cathedral of of St. Michael and St. Gudula – Belgium’s national church, and a site for royal weddings and funerals.
  • Our Blessed Lady of the Sablon – Also, take a lunch or dinner in the neighborhood, there are so many tasty places to go like: Lola, San Sablon, COCO Donuts, and and Chez Richard.
  • The antique shops in Sablon – There’s all sorts of fabulous jewelry, a few historical maps if you can find them, and bronze decor items – amongst many other things.
  • The Atomium – You will have to take a car out of the city center, but it really is a cool museum, and a great spot to see if the weather isn’t so agreeable.
  • Cinquantenaire – Another great park for lunch, but only really when the weather is warmer.
  • Belgian Comic Strip Center – If you’re looking for a more modern take on Belgium, this center is quite famous and really interesting for any art buffs.
  • Galerie St. Royal – For tasty treats away from the elements and window shopping.
  • Christmas Markets – If you are there during the holiday season, grab a cup of hot wine and explore local vendors for stocking stuffers.

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Our blessed lady of Sablon in all her glory.
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Inside the Cathedral of of St. Michael and St. Gudula.
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Grand Place just casually taking my breath away.
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Mom at the Christmas market with a hot wine – customary for all attendees.

After many hours of exploring, we headed to Delirium Cafe (a must-see if you are in Brussels, and where I spent many nights as a university student living in Brussels) for a couple of beers, and ended up eating at a bit of a touristy spot around the corner for a quick dinner before heading back to the Hotel Amigo. We had a massive day ahead of us, so thankfully we made it to bed somewhat early. Have spots on your list that I didn’t list that are a must-see in Brussels? Comment below, so I can add them to my list for my next visit to the European Capital.

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What to Pack for Winter in Europe

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In less than two weeks, I will be heading to Brussels and Paris for a quick weekend getaway with my mom (yay!). As it gets closer to the holidays in Europe, I think the cities become so magical and it always worth a trip! Skipping the summer months for a winter weekend in Europe isn’t only cheaper, but you get to see a little more of that local flair. However, I know the promise of colder weather might initially deter you from booking that flight, but I wanted to share a few of my tips for dressing warm – and fashionably – in the winter which will make sight seeing enjoyable, and you’ll still be camera ready!

Practical(ish) shoes. 
Yes, when walking around Europe, you can typically expect some cobblestones, so stilettos are out, but that doesn’t mean you take heels off the table all together. The Jeremy Campbell booties I added above are a perfect example of a boot that you can rock in the winter time on European side streets. I actually have these myself and they’re super comfy and sturdy. A great pair of sneakers, with a hint of embellishment is also a good option. Gucci is having a total moment right now with their sneakers; I think they’re a super fun splurge. But, if you’re looking for something a little friendlier on your wallet, a pair of white chucks or Stan Smith’s should do the trick.

Layers, layers, layers
Investing in a body suit so you can ensure that your midriff will stay warm between picking up your luggage at the airport and sitting down at a cozy cafe is a must. Do double duty by layering a pair of winter tights underneath a pair of destroyed denim or a knee-length skirt and you’ll be good to go. Some tights you can get now are actually lined with fleece, so if you’re known to be super chilly, or are going to be spending the majority of your day outside, I would pack a pair to layer under denim or a long skirt for sure!

Colorful Knits
Come winter, expressing yourself through color gets a little trick, so I always like to mix it up with a colorful sweater. Pops of orange, red, purple, and baby blue are a great way to brighten up your wardrobe, while you stick to more of the classics in the rest of your look. I definitely recommend packing turtlenecks when you can, that way you can save space in your suitcase because you don’t need to pack a scarf. You can also have fun with color with a knit hat as well. Don’t be afraid to bust out one with a fun pom pom, so your friends can keep track of you around busier parts of the city.

A Second Coat
I always wear my biggest and fluffiest coat on the plane because packing it is a nightmare, but I highly recommend packing a second coat, especially if you plan to take lots of pictures outside, go out on the town, and think the weather might fluctuate a lot in temperature. A fab bomber is always a good go-to, and again, so many brands are experimenting with color, so you can stand out amongst a sea of black and tan.

A Couple Statement Pieces
When traveling, we have a tendency to pack sensibly, especially for trips to areas where it’s cold weather! But, I challenge you on your next trip to pack a few items that really stand out. A perfect dress for a surprise date, unexpected outing (you know, with the Queen or something), or even just for afternoon tea can work wonders. I can’t tell you how many times having a dress handy has saved my ass, especially when traveling abroad. I also always recommend one or two key pieces of statement jewelry. One eye-catching ring or set of earrings can really pull a look together without too much effort. The most obvious statement piece to pack is a great bag. I always say a bag is your best investment piece, so if you’ve got it flaunt it. However! Do not have this bag be one of your two carry-ons. Having to shove your bag under the seat or in the overhead bin on long flights is just asking for trouble – especially if it is an investment piece. Do yourself a solid and pack your day-to-day bag in a duster to pull out in prime condition once you get to your destination.

These five tips are sure to get you off to a good start on packing for a trip to Europe in winter. If you have questions or other suggestions that I may not have mentioned, be sure to leave them in the comments!

Georgia On My Mind…

It’s been a few months since I was down south, but as the weather gets colder in Boston, I can’t help but daydream about my trip down to the Ritz Carlton, Lake Oconee resort in August. In desperate need of a good girls weekend this past summer, my friend Abby and I hopped a quick flight down to Atlanta for a #lakelife getaway. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of spending any time down south, I highly recommend it. The food, the people, the nature… it doesn’t get much better. I have friends who actually describe this property as one of their favorite places on Earth, and I can see why.

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Abby and I had the pleasure of staying in one of the cottages on the property. These cottages are perfect for a group of your girlfriends or even a family vacation. As expected these cottages are still very much full service — golf carts will chauffeur you to dinner reservations, room service will deliver anything you need at the drop of a hat, and extra special touches like milk & cookies don’t go unnoticed. Hammocks are scattered throughout the property for that cabin in the woods experience. They’re perfect for laying out with a good book and a cup of tea in the morning, or getting a little reprieve from the sun, but still getting to enjoy some fresh air.

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One of the most enjoyable parts of the property is their lake-side amenities. The infinity pool is massive and is a perfect spot to commune with friends over a mid-afternoon cocktail (or three). I know what you’re thinking… why hang out in a pool with a lake right there?! Truth be told, the idea of making contact with a fish creeps me out a bit. And the fish only have so many places to go in a lake, compared to the ocean. You know?! Don’t judge! Besides, the infinity pool is so big it could practically be a lake. I swear!

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After you’ve done your fair share of sunbathing, choose from a plethora of dining options on the property to get your fill of tasty southern cooking. My favorite restaurant was Georgia’s. They have classics like peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, smoked meats, and fried green tomatoes. There is no chance you will leave hungry!

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Outside of the property, you can do some exploring in historic Madison. Our driver humored us and weaved down old streets, so we could see some of the oldest homes in the town. Downtown is super quaint and has a couple great restaurants worth checking out as well. If you drive through, Madison might look familiar. Countless movies and TV shows have been filmed here, like The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The Accountant, and the 2011 Footloose remake.

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If you prefer to stay on property, they have a gazillion activities, including a massive golf course. If golf is your game, there’s no chance you cant get in a few holes while you’re here. Sadly for me, I tend to embarrass myself even at the driving range, so I’ll stick to walking the course like it’s my runway. Other activities include wake boarding, kayaking, tennis, and countless more.

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Now that I am this close to booking a ticket back to Georgia, I can safely say this was one of my most memorable weekends this past summer. If you need a luxurious getaway with your significant other, friends, or family, I can’t recommend the Ritz, Lake Oconee enough. If you have any questions about the property, feel free to shoot me an email or send me a DM on Instagram. Happy to answer!

Where to Eat: Scotland

Ah, yes. Travel is all about the sites you see, the people you meet, and most importantly: the food. When I reached out to Visit Scotland for ideas on where to visit, and specifically where to dine, they came back with an amazing group of experiences. Naturally, I wanted to try all of them. On our first full day in Edinburgh, we started our evening off with a gin distillery tour, and then made our way to Restaurant Mark Greenaway for an elevated dining experience just steps from some of the most popular sites in the city, but far enough removed that it wasn’t overrun with other tourists. If you don’t know Chef Mark Greenaway, it’s worth noting he was the only chef in Scotland to be newly awarded 3 AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence back in 2012 – and continues to pay homage to Scottish tradition by using locally-sourced ingredients. If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you’re in for a treat, as he’s known for some of the most inventive desserts in the country.

The following morning, we made our way north. This was my first taste of driving on the highway in Scotland (on the left side of the road – gah), so I was a bit nervous, but once we were out of the city it was smooth sailing. Our first stop on our road trip was in Pitlochry; only a few hours north. Pitlochry is a great spot if you like to go hiking or spend time outdoors. We had great intentions to go hiking, but jet lag unfortunately got the best of us. There’s also a few castles within striking distance that you can explore – most notable being Blair Castle.

A night or two at the Fonab Castle Hotel is also an absolute must – especially if you’re looking for a tasty and traditional Scottish dining experience. The restaurant on-site, Sandeman’s, has a six-course dinner that will knock your socks off. With twists on all the classics, impeccable wine pairings, and a sommelier that will leave you laughing throughout the whole meal – it is truly a dinner to remember. Being with my mom at the table, getting to share this uber-foodie experience, was particularly special to me. She always taught me to spend money on two things: travel and good food, so the entire meal really felt like an homage to my upbringing (love ya mom!). In the end, I’m glad I took her sound advice ;).

The next day, the adventure continued! Heading further north, you can’t miss Inverness. For all you scotch whiskey lovers, there are a gazillion distilleries in the area, making this the perfect spot to post up for a night or two. The town sits on the River Ness ( I bet you can guess who’s been rumored to swim through those waters), and really is the quintessential European town. Restaurants and music venues line the river, providing the perfect backdrop to some family-style inspired fare. We stopped into The Mustard Seed for a relaxed and tasty dinner. Their cuisine features a marriage of Scottish and French fare, boasting large portions, and an amazing view of the river. Head in any direction a block or two and you’ll find live music to take you into your evening. A head’s up – if you are driving into town, parking is a little tricky. Be prepared to circle around a few times before you find a spot.

Did someone say food safari?! Why, yes, yes they did. While hunting vests and binoculars sound fun on a trip riding through the Sahara – a safari of the culinary persuasion in Edinburgh was right up my alley. My mom and I were paired up with a local who works with Edinburgh Food Safari; she toured us around a few neighborhoods to taste everything from vegetarian haggis to locally made gin, handmade marshmallows, and tea with scones and clotted cream (plus a homemade lemon custard that was too good for words). This tour isn’t just about the food though; your guide has amazing knowledge about the city, provides spirited conversation on any topic you can imagine, and ours even helped us crash the beginning of a wedding ceremony! I swear to god the father of the bride invited us into the church for the whole kit and caboodle!! If only I wasn’t wearing jeans that day… If you haven’t guessed yet, this was hands down this was one of my favorite experiences the entire trip, and I highly recommend checking them out if you’re in Edinburgh.

To sum it up – Scotland isn’t just haggis, salmon, and scotch (although there is a lot of that), but rather a burgeoning foodie destination with tastes fit for every palette. If you have any questions on what to eat and where – drop them in the comments, and I’ll be more than happy to answer them!

Solo Mission: Camden, ME

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Who else had a whirlwind summer?! In New England, it’s practically a given, and moving into Fall always feels like giving a generous tap on the breaks. Solo travel has always been a good opportunity for me to slow down and press ‘reset’, and that’s exactly what my trip up to Camden, Maine this past weekend was all about. If you followed my Instagram stories, you know I definitely got an ungodly amount of work done, but I also did a little exploring and unplugging, and it brought me back to my days of traveling Asia alone (minus the whole not-speaking-the-same-language-as-everyone-else thing).

The best part? I had a place that felt like home to go back to at the end of the day. Maine is my home state, so I was already getting some good vibes once I crossed the boarder into Vacationland. But, staying at Whitehall was extra special. This quaint spot features an awesome restaurant, Pig + Poet, stylish & cozy corners – perfect for curling up with a book (or laptop in my case), and if the weather is nice, you can kick your feet up on one of the many rocking chairs, or channel your inner cruise deck hero and play some shuffleboard. Seriously, who doesn’t like an adorable inn loaded with charm like this?

I’ve been up to this part of Maine a few times, so I had an unorthodox approach to how I decided where to go – I literally typed ‘lighthouse’ and ‘food’ into Google maps. I ended up at the Owl’s Head Light right at sunset, and then dined at the bar at Rhumb Line. Talk about luck! Between stellar views and tasty cuisine, it ended up being the perfect way to spend the evening.

As the season comes to a close, many of these spots shut down for the winter, but if you find yourself with an open weekend between now and mid-October, I highly recommend pulling the trigger and taking the journey down east. Looking to explore other cute spots? Check out all the different Lark Hotels around New England and California!

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PVD – EDI with Norwegian Air

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To say I was excited to head to Scotland this summer is a bit of an understatement. Who doesn’t like scotch, bagpipes, and some of most beautiful scenery in all of Europe?! This was the first trip that I have taken with my mother in I don’t know how long, and I was so happy to be able to bring her along. For us to be able to step away from our everyday lives and explore a country we’ve both been dying to visit was a dream come true – Scotland far exceeded all of my expectations! I was fortunate enough to be able to parter with Norwegian Air and the team at Visit Scotland for this trip. Both teams took amazingly good care of me, gave me plenty of tips & suggestions for my stay in Scotland, and treated me with all the hospitality you would expect from the Scots. For that, I am eternally grateful.

To start – you may have heard about sales on flights to Europe that are as low $99. Yep! Traveling to Europe is now cheaper than taking Amtrak from BOS – NYC. More often than not, I hear from friends who want to travel that flights to Europe are just too expensive. But, now that Norwegian Air is expanding their service out of New England, it has become more achievable than ever to make it to Europe without busting open our piggy banks. As an added bonus, there are flights out of Providence (PVD), for those who live in the southern part of New England, who don’t want to trek to Boston to make a flight. You can book here based on your budget, whether it be $100 or $500. And guess what, flights to EDI are still $99!

If you are planning on taking a trip with Norwegian Air, know a few things:

  • This is a budget airline, so pack a pillow/blanket, eye mask, and some snacks if you want the most comfortable flight.
  • If you are someone who gets hungry on flights, you can pay for your meal in advance when you book. It may not be super necessary for the red-eye, as it is best to sleep as much as you can, but for the flight back, could be a good move.
  • There is no First Class, but a little extra leg room never hurt anyone. Paying a fee to upgrade into an Exit Row seat isn’t entirely unreasonable. I did this for both my mom and I and it was totally worth it.
  • If you’re flying out of PVD, get there with plenty of time. Because these flights are so popular, check-in takes a bit of time. Expect long lines, and know that, god forbid, you get there a little late, you will be bumped up in line if you’re cutting it close.
  • There is WiFi on the flight! I got a good amount of work done on both of my flights to and from EDI. If you’re looking to get some work done, or just peruse Instagram, you can!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 presetIf a trip to EDI is in your future – scroll down for a recap of my first two days in Scotland with some ideas of where to stay, eat, and explore!

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For our first night in Edinburgh, we stayed at a cute, and well-situated spot, Hotel Du Vin. This spot is filled with character, and close to some of the most popular sites in the city! Edinburgh in general is a very walkable city, and this is a perfect location to start and finish your day. Rooms are super cozy – and in typical Scottish fashion, each room is outfitted with an amazing bath, cozy beds, and a hint of tartan plaid (in case you needed reminding of where you were). Some sites close by include:

  • The Royal Mile
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Mary King’s Close
  • Scott Monument
  • The Writer’s Museum (super cool!)
  • St. Giles Cathedral

Another amazing spot close by is Sandy Bells. If you love live music, like me, and just good vibes in general, you absolutely have to head here to listen to local musicians in ‘sessions’. There isn’t any photography or videography allowed (although I may have snuck a Snapchat), but the experience of sitting down with a pint and listening to traditional music being played was one of my favorites in the city.

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Another thing to note about Edinburgh is that they have an amazing food scene! I am going to do an entirely separate post on all of my food experiences throughout Scotland, but wanted to share a couple of quick stops that we made in between sightseeing. Our first meal was at an awesome gastropub called The Scran and Scallie. The cocktails are fantastic, and the fare is hearty and thoughtfully prepared. This was just the type of comfort food we were looking for in our first few hours in Edinburgh. For breakfast the next morning, we went to Spoon – named one of the Best Hangover Cafes in the city. The place is eclectically designed and their breakfast definitely hit the spot. If you’re looking for a cafe to work out of, this is a perfect place to post up, but it is open to all types. In our time there, we saw a bachelorette party, some folks working remotely, and very few tourists (which to me is always a good sign).

Another little known fact about Edinburgh, and Scotland in general, they love their gin. Martini lovers rejoice!  Sure, Scotch seems like the natural spirit to gravitate to on a trip like this – and I like Lagavulin and Laphroaig with the best of them. But, there are so many amazing gin distilleries popping up that we had to check one out. We headed over to Summerhall, which is a multi-arts complex and events venue in an old veterinary school building – cool, right?! Even if you don’t have a desire to check out a gin distillery, this place is worth visiting. The tour we went on was with a small outfit within Summerhall: Pickering’s Gin.  You learn about how two gin lovers started from an old (read: super old) gin recipe from India, and built a sought-after gin that is perfect for a gin & tonic. Of course, you get to do some tasting, and it’s a good way to kick off your evening.

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Alas, we couldn’t stay in Edinburgh forever. We traveled elsewhere throughout the country, and finally stayed in Edinburgh for one more night (those blog posts are coming soon!) and then it was to the airport back home. The Edinburgh Airport is super easy to navigate (Note: there is a bit of walking, especially if you’re returning a car), and their security team has the checkpoint down to a science. Still, give yourself at least 90 minutes if you’re traveling back home, so you have plenty of time to grab a final drink before hopping your flight. If you have any questions about traveling to Edinburgh, definitely don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Happy to answer any questions below! Additionally, Visit Scotland offers a great amount of resources for your travel. They also have a dope Instagram if you’re looking for any inspo for your next trip!

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A Home Amid Some Crazy Changes: ELEMENT Hotel

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lot of changes have taken place over the past couple of weeks. I moved to a new neighborhood. We’ve signed a bunch of amazing new companies to work with at RPR, I’m BLONDE! And, I’ve started to re-focus on my health and wellness. Who has seen the ridiculously sweaty Instagram stories of me running hills, practicing yoga, or doing track workouts with @baddiedae?!? While Spring is the most popular season for “re-birth”, there is something about Fall that gets me so freakin’ hyped to shed the B.S. and bring things back into my life that I care about; ultimately get back to a productive routine. Don’t get me wrong, traveling almost every weekend this Summer was amazing, but there’s something so restorative about leaving your two feet on the ground.

BUT, before diving in head first to a crazy move across town, and my busiest quarter yet with my business, I needed a breather. Yes, even need to hit the pause button. So, I escaped to the ELEMENT Hotel in the Seaport for the weekend before my move, which was super convenient because who likes living around boxes for a week?! This hotel was perfect for a few reasons: 1) it is in the same neighborhood as my office – score!, 2) They are a ‘green’ hotel, meaning they take measures to having the smallest footprint on the environment, and 3) they had an awesome ‘Swap Shop’ event that I got to be a part of.

What is this ‘Swap Shop’ event you ask? It was this super cool concept of bringing clothes that you want to purge from your closet and trading them (for FREE) with other attendees at the event. Anything that isn’t picked up by someone else was donated. Perfect for a girl who is moving and needed to purge her closet! While they don’t do events exactly like this one all the time, they do host a number of other initiatives throughout the year that are in line with their mission to be a sustainable hotel. How cool is that? (Note the photo of me below with an armful of clothes – oh and the last hours of me as a brunette!)

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The next day, I explored my city like a tourist, and did some of the things that I have been meaning to do, but always find an excuse to put off. I went blonde with the help of the team at Salon Mario Russo, who is a short walk from the hotel, stopped by the Copley Sq. Market, grabbed one of the hotel’s bikes to take a spin around the city, walked the Esplanade, and ate at a few of my favorite places, including Top of the Hub, which I haven’t been to since 2010, and by CHLOE. which recently opened right around the corner from ELEMENT. See the photo diary from my day scooting around the city below!

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THIS AWESOME POST IS SPONSORED BY THE TEAM AT ELEMENT HOTELS. THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN.

Why I #ChooseTheTable.

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If you have been following me for a while, it’s no secret I have a passion for food and finding opportunities to swap stories with friends and family. While I have some chops in the kitchen (thanks to years working in the restaurant industry), I often find it difficult to get inspired to cook something tasty for myself, or for a group of people for that matter.

I do, however, tell my friends that I’m a master of the charcuterie board/cheese plate. My kitchen is filled with serving trays, knives and other utensils for every possible culinary combination, and little dishes to hold mustard, jams, and other necessary accouterments. This style of serving allows me to bring my guests on a journey – maybe starting in Ireland with cheese made from organic sheep’s milk, making my way to Tuscany for hearty slices of soppressata, and ending up in France with a crunchy baguette. Figuratively traveling with food while sitting around the same table is usually the perfect setting for storytelling. Before you know it, 5 hours have gone by, and your sides are hurting from laughing so hard. This is the essence of the #ChooseTheTable movement.

To kick off my #ChooseTheTable journey, a couple weeks ago, some fellow foodies and I gathered around the chef’s table at Doretta in Back Bay (Boston) and shared a meal together – talking about everything from inspiring chefs, the domestic hunger crisis, to the Boston food scene. It was great to set our phones to the side and make new friends, while diving into some delicious dishes. Four courses later we were so full you nearly had to roll us out of the restaurant, and had connected in a way that wouldn’t have been possible through Instagram or a blog comment thread. Dishes were designed around the Dietz & Watson products, and were an entertaining demonstration of how you can get creative with even the simplest of ingredients.

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In the spirit of the #ChooseTheTable movement, Dietz & Watson is giving you & a guest the chance to win an exclusive culinary experience , hosted by Chef Michael Schlow at Doretta. Chef Schlow is serving up a Dietz & Watson-inspired menu boasting seasonal and exciting flavors to inspire your home cooking and arm you with a few new techniques for your next gathering.

CLICK HERE TO ENTER*

*No purchase necessary. Contest is open only to legal residents of Massachusetts, 21 years of age or older.

This awesome post is sponsored by the team at Dietz & Watson. All thoughts are my own.

A Weekend at Gurney’s

You may have heard, but if you haven’t, the Gurney’s you know and love from the Hamptons set down roots in Newport, making for a perfect New England getaway. Last month, I took their team up on the offer to stay for the weekend, and ended up having an awesome time. Between the stunning location, super tasty dining options, and the Gurney’s service we have all come to know and love, it’s sure have you wishing you didn’t have to leave at the end of your stay.

So, where do I begin… obviously with the food, what else?! For our lunch, we plopped down on the patio at The Pineapple Club and indulged in some serious raw bar, and shareable plates – perfect for a brunch or an early start to the weekend. P.S. I definitely recommend the Negroni Fresco to really get your weekend started right. IMG_0646.JPGIMG_0645.JPGThe real star of the culinary show was dinner at Scarpetta. Oh my sweet baby Jesus… I can see why this place is packed to the brim every night. Even if you are down in Newport for a day, this restaurant is a must-visit. Hands down some of the best service, ambiance, and cuisine you’ll find in Newport. I did put my camera away for the evening an didn’t manage to snap pics, but sit down and try it, and trust me when I say, your taste buds will do all the talking for me. Wow.

After dinner, we split a bottle of wine in our room, and caught the notorious Newport sunset from our balcony with a prime view of the Jamestown bridge. Later that night, we made our way over to The Landing, where we inevitably ran into friends and danced to the live band until the wee hours. IMG_0647.JPG

The next day was spent relaxing by the pool. Copper pineapple drinks and friend food abound, making for the perfect Sunday recovery spot… We didn’t stay all day though, as prior to heading to Newport we purchased tickets to Newport Polo – a must if you’re around for a weekend. With a bottle of champagne in one hand and cheesy fries in the other, you could just grab a spot on the lawn and take in the match. This isn’t your typical polo experience. Folks bring oodles of snacks, drinks, and lawn chairs & blankets for the ultimate viewing comfort. To be honest, I didn’t really know what was going on (I’m sure that makes my British family members cringe – sorry guys!), but the point is just to go and hang out and have a good time. IMG_7965.JPGIMG_7774.JPGSwitching gears from horses to horse power, I was super excited to try out Maven – a car sharing app from Chevrolet. I don’t have a car in Boston (for those of you who don’t know, parking is absolutely nuts and impossible in the city), so I needed a way to make it down to Newport in a way that suited my schedule. That’s where Maven comes in. You can borrow cars by the hour or day, which is perfect for those of us who need a flexible schedule for a weekend getaway. Your phone ends up being your key, so once you get within 30 feet or so of your car, you just open the app and you’re on your way. Pro tip: if you are prone to your phone dying, bring an extra battery. A dead phone means no horse power for you. IMG_0639.JPGUntitled drawing (1).pngIMG_0640.JPG

If you are in the market for a car sharing service, I highly recommend checking out Maven. They have locations all over, and the service is pretty intuitive. Plus, what other car sharing service has a Cadillac on hand?! Needless to say, this made the drive from Boston to Newport and back pretty fun.

Definitely sad to leave Gurney’s after a fun weekend, but maybe this will inspire your next weekend getaway to Newport! Have any other must-do’s while in this nautical lover’s paradise? Tell me in the comments!IMG_7877.JPG

Where I’m Eating in Boston this Summer

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Ah yes, one of my favorite things: eating. I’ve been doing a lot of that around Boston this summer, especially since RPR (my marketing and public relations firm) has been working with Dining Playbook on NESN. Below is a round up of a few of my favorites – including ones that have been in my dining-out repertoire for quite some time.

Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant

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Did someone say brunch seven days a week?! Yep! I actually made a brief TV appearance on Dining Playbook last weekend scoping out the epic brunch menu from Lincoln. The peaches & cream pancakes are my new favorite thing!! Now if only they were calorie free… Bonus, they have a rotating ‘test’ brunch menu where they are trying new items every week, like this smoked salmon pizza – with a tasty everything bagel crust – pictured above. If you have an idea or love one of their concoctions, make sure to let your server know. P.S. Don’t leave without trying the warm goat cheese dip with fig jam. You can thank me later ;).

Reelhouse

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This new Eastie hot spot has so much to offer, I don’t even know where to start. Between an amazing ambiance with their super luxe patio with prime views of the Boston skyline, to a creative cocktail program, to creative nibbles like their seafood charcuterie, I’m in heaven. Yes, the trip to East Boston is a little bit of a trek – but so worth it. Pro tip: You can now take a free boat ride from Pier 6 in Charlestown across the water for the quickest way to get from one summer hot spot to another.

UNI

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Special occasion? Book a table at the sushi bar at UNI. If you’re a fan of sushi, seafood, or just Japanese cuisine in general, your palette will be happy you grabbed a seat at this Back Bay staple. Their summer menu is a selection of local fare – including refreshing dishes, like grilled peaches with burrata and a sophisticated watermelon salad. I always recommend settling in with the omakase tasting menu if you aren’t sure what to get. The chef will put together a selection of all of their favorite, fresh flavors of the day.

Davio’s

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Stop in for brunch at any of the Davio’s locations for a sophisticated take on this Sunday tradition. Whether you’re a steak and eggs lover or looking for a pasta dish that is sure to knock your socks off, you’ll be happy with the big portions, friendly service, and thoughtfully prepared dishes from their team. I happen to be a huge fan of the fact that they have a whole section devoted to spring rolls, and without fail will order a plate or two for the table. My personal favorite? The chicken parm spring rolls. It’s like a whole Italian dinner in one bite. I’ve also had the pleasure of checking out their lunch menu when on-set with the Dining Playbook team. This is the perfect place to take a working lunch meeting, or catch up with a co-worker during the week!

Row 34

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One word: oysters. Yes, every raw bar item (and every item for that matter) is tasty at this Fort Point seafood locale, but I just cant get enough of their oyster selection. If I’m feeling the need for a refreshing Saturday afternoon with girlfriends – there’s no better way to do it than with some bubbles and bivalves. Not a fan of raw oysters? They have fried oyster lettuce cups that will knock your socks off, and satisfy evening the pickiest foodies at your table. If you happen to be up in Portsmouth, NH, their sister restaurant is a great option for an early summer dinner with friends and family as well.

So, that’s where I’ve been eating as of late. Where are your go-to’s this summer?! Comment with your faves.