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!

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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.

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!

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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.

 

#INSTAFOOD: CHICAGO

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Ahhh, Chicago cuisine. I have such a soft spot for cities whose food flies under the radar, and while working on the Ben & Jerry’s Core Tour, I was fortunate enough to be able to try all sorts of delicious spots. It means no 3 hour long waits for brunch, no pretentious patrons discecting every ingredient, and innovate fare from some of the area’s most thoughtful and creative chefs that hasn’t already been plastered all over multiple Conde Nast publications. Yes, Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews may seem helpful, but sometimes it’s just nice to taste food for what it really is without all the hype. And in Chicago’s case, it’s freaking tasty.

Below are a few of the flavorful moments that I captured during my time in the Windy City. Snack on these savory social media snapshots for a little inspiration for your next night out in Chicago.

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Eataly Chicago (Near North Side)

While the Chicago Eataly isn’t quite as impressive as the one in NYC, it still makes for a great place to stop for a snack. Munch on some savory veggies and finish your visit with a stop at the Nutella bar, aka heavan on earth.

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Girl & the Goat (West Loop)

Get your daily dose of weird with some of the more unusal combinations at this popular restaurant. Escargot ravioli and octopus salad only scratches the surface of the endless options.

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Three Dots and a Dash (River North)

Looking for a luau in the midwest? Look no further than this speakeasy-esque spot. Every cocktail I’ve tried has been a crowd pleaser, and while you might think they’re fruity and girly drinks, three cocktails will knock you on your ass faster than a bulldozer.

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Perennial Virant (Lincoln Park)

One of the best brunch spots in all of Chicago just so happens to be next to one of my favorite things, the Lincoln Park Zoo. If you’re visitng and need to fuel up before seeing the animals, this is the perfect farm-to-table spot. Also ask to check out the book that the chef authored a few years ago. It’s cool reading material while you wait for your food.

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Elly’s Pancake House (Near North Side)

Hankering for a late night snack? This pancake house, serving up blintzes, eggs benedict, and one of the best German pancakes I have ever had, is open 24-hours away making it the perfect brunch spot all weekend.

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Parson’s Chicken & Fish (Logan Square)

Combine a 7/11 and your favorite cocktail bar for this genius outdoor patio. While the hot days of summer may be slowly slipping away, I highly recommend swinging by for a Negroni slushy before cocktail trends go the way of hot-toddys and spiked egg nog.

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Enolo Wine Bar (Near North Side)

Looking for a great lunch spot in between meetings? Look no further than Enolo. With a full list of bruchettas and a great wine selection, this mid-day treat will have you returning to work satisfied.. and maybe a little tipsy.

Did I miss your favorite spot? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @venturetravelist

#INSTAFOOD: New York, New York

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I should have picked a different day to start a juice cleanse because these photos are making me miss chewing, carbs.. and well, food. Needless to say, I couldn’t help putting together a little homage to all the delicious eats that I tasted while in New York last month.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.33.41 PM Rosemarys. (Greenwich Village)

Using herbs and veggies from their rooftop garden, this hotspot defines fresh for the downtown brunch lovers. Be sure to taste some of their homemade pastas and fresh squeezed juices.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.36.16 PMPies n Thighs (Williamsburg)

Don’t leave this place without trying the chicken biscuit! While I may not feel hipster enough to eat at this Brooklyn joint on the reg, I definitely find myself being pulled back by the pie.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.35.15 PMCafe Moto (Williamsburg)

One of my favorite spots in all of Brooklyn! Stop in for some live music, a glass of wine (on draft), and their mac n cheese, which they serve with apple sauce. Trust me when I say, between those three things, you have a winning combination.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.36.58 PMBaked (Red Hook)

Looking for the ultimate place to grab a cappucino and a pastry? Look no further than this off the beaten path spot. This a great place to fuel up before you take on the day. If you aren’t a lemon tart fan, try their crowd-pleasing cinnamon bun.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.37.16 PMCookshop (Chelsea)

For farm to table goodness, skip the tourists at Chelsea market and plop yourself down on the trendy patio on 10th Ave. You’d be doing yourself a disservice by not getting a cocktail with your meal. I had the Peaches B. Crazy.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.35.34 PM10 Degrees (East Village)

When all else fails, go for the happy hour specials! With 2-for-1 drinks from noon until 8pm, and a charcuterie served in massive portions, this is a great place to post up and do some work New York style.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.37.34 PMThe Marshal (Hell’s Kitchen)

Places like this don’t pop up in Hell’s Kitchen everyday. If you’re in the area, you won’t regret stopping in for a taste of everything local. From spirits, to veggies, to the honey drizzled over house made fudge… most things don’t come from more than 100 miles away.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.36.44 PMRed Hook Lobter Pound (Red Hook)

Whenever I’m homesick, all I need is a lobster roll to transport me back to my coastal hometown in Maine. I also recommend snagging a cup of lobster mac n cheese for good measure because nothing says comfort food quite like pasta.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.34.57 PMCafe Habana (Nolita)

Tired from a day of shopping downtown? Fear not! The tacos and cheesy corn at this hipster Cuban establishment will fuel you for another round of scowering vintage shops and looking for deals.

Screen Shot 2014-08-29 at 8.34.23 PMHandsome Dan’s (East Village)

With old school candy like warheads, razzles, and pop rocks, there’s no way you can go wrong at this lower east side candy shop. Embrace the sugar rush and go all in with a sno-cone!

This just scratches the surface of the culinary experiences to be had in New York. Tell me where you love to chow down in the comments below!

P.S. Be sure to follow me on Instagram at @venturetravelist