Posts Tagged ‘beer’

  1. Asheville, NC

    August 25, 2018 by Angie

    Our big vacation this year was to Asheville, NC. It’s very nice in June. We stayed in a little cabin about a 15 minute drive from downtown. The cabin is way up a very steep, very winding hill/mountain so it feels a lot more remote than it really is. We chose it for this amazing view.

    View from the deck

    !!!!!


    Deck

    Love this deck!

    View from the slider

    From the slider onto the deck

    Living room

    Living room


    Kitchen

    Kitchen

    Bedroom

    Bedroom – a little on the small side but fine for just the two of us

    Partial view from the couch

    Side view from the couch – that’s the owner’s house out the window


    DAT VIEW THO

    From the window in the living room

    Restaurants

    The winding road made it a bit of a mission to acquire food so we ate at the cabin a few times and then when we did go to restaurants, I was ravenous and took very few food photos – sorry. We made trips to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I know that’s not special to most people but we don’t have either of those stores where we live. I was shocked by how much food we got for $13 at Trader Joe’s. How do they do it???

    There is one restaurant, well, local chain of restaurants, that we went to three times in our five days there. Yes, it’s that good. It’s Green Sage Cafe. We went to the Westgate location twice and the downtown location once.

    Green Sage soy latte

    A+ Soy Latte

    Soysauge biscuit

    Soysauge biscuit

    Green Sage tempeh reuben

    Tempeh Reuben

    Rosetta’s Kitchen was our first stop. We liked it a lot the last time we went to Asheville in 2010.  Everything was very good. We got the veggie nuggets for an appetizer and then Robbie got the tempeh reuben and I got the organic smoky tofu wrap.

    Outside at Rosetta's Kitchen

    On the balcony at Rosetta’s Kitchen

    Laughing Seed Cafe is another repeat from our 2010 trip. We had a much better time this time. In 2010, they poisoned me with secret walnuts. This time they were totally on top of the allergen thing. Robbie got (another) tempeh reuben and I got this elaborate burrito situation, the South by Southwest Burrito. The champagne dijon vinaigrette dressing on the side salad was very special.

    Laughing Seed

    Laughing Seed Cafe

    We also ate at Standard Pizza, at the Biltmore Village location, and Mamacita’s in downtown. I was in savage mode I guess because I don’t have photos. Both were good but not DO NOT MISS level good. Mamacita’s started to get packed once we sat down. It’s a post-drinking food spot with quick Mexican food.

    Breweries/Beer

    Man, oh, man, there’s a lot of beer in Asheville. Our first brewery stop was Wicked Weed. We came back again another day. It’s a big, comfortable place with seats inside and outside.

    Wicked Weed

    Wicked Weed

    Bhramari Brewhouse came highly recommended. It is one of the bigger, fancier taprooms we went to. It has a kitchen and gift shop.

    Lexington Avenue Brewery is another we remembered from 2010. They have a bunch of local beers on tap as well as food and a full bar.

    Burial Beer Co. was Robbie’s favorite. It has a bit of an industrial feel. It’s a simple taproom but it is on the big side and there’s a nice outdoor area. It’s just beer and a tiny gift shop but I found a saison I really enjoyed. Robbie had an IPA they made in collaboration with his favorite local-ish brewery, Civil Society Brewing, so that was a happy coincidence.

    Burial mural

    Very weird mural outside Burial Beer Co.

    Outside at Burial

    Outside at Burial

    When in Asheville…

    My one and only

    Green Man Brewery and Asheville Brewing Company are two breweries we visited in 2010, although at older/different locations. They’re both very laidback places.

    Puzzle at Asheville Brewing Company

    Eurisko Beer Company is a newer place. It’s really beer in a room and nothing else. But Robbie says it’s very good beer.

    Bars

    Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar is my kind of bookstore! Champagne and books, name a more iconic duo.

    The Montford is by far the most spectacular rooftop bar I’ve ever been to and I am a bit of a rooftop bar connoisseur. There’s not a bad seat in the house for the sunset.

    Sunset at the Montford

    Oooohhh

    I mean, come on.

    Top of the Monk is a quirky and cute cocktail bar. There are some strange bar laws in North Carolina that necessitate becoming a “member” before you can buy a drink. I think it’s only for liquor bars that don’t serve food? This was our first stop with such a thing. The drinks were good. There’s a small outside balcony area. You get a locker key for each drink that you buy. The key opens a little locker with a snack inside. I was too suspicious of dairy from a locker to eat the tomato and mozzarella skewer but it’s a charming idea.

    Top of the Monk

    The bar at the Top of the Monk

    We also stopped at Crow and Quill and The Times at S&W. Crow and Quill is another one where we had to become members. They seem to be big on live music but there wasn’t anybody playing there when we went. Both are speakeasy style cocktail bars. I prefer The Times because it was a lot easier to get a drink there and the bartender made a fine espresso martini for me.

    Sky Bar is another rooftop bar. It was really packed up there at sunset! The view is still amazing and feels different than The Montford because you’re in the middle of downtown on top of a shorter building surrounded by people. It’s worth doing if you have two or more sunsets to work with in Asheville.

    Packed at Sky Bar

    Even rooftop parking is lovely in Asheville

    The Imperial Life was my favorite of the non-brewery, non-rooftop sunset venues. Robbie and I both run like our lives depend on it from live music at bars, but the guys playing here were genuinely good. The drinks were great and I appreciate the aesthetic of the place.

    Imperial Life

    The Imperial Life

    Nature, it’s why I come out here.

    We took a lovely/terrifying drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to get to some waterfalls. We saw a lot of pretty mountains but had to turn around and come back to the cabin when can’t-see-anything-at-all fog set in quickly. We are used to completely flat driving so it was pretty scary up there even before the fog. On the way back down, we stopped at a bunch of turn offs, took photos, and walked a little ways up a small trail.

    Chestnut Cove

    Chestnut Cove

    Scary Tunnel #1

    One of many pitch black tunnels – why did nobody warn us about these??

    Stony Bald

    Stony Bald

    Blue Ridge Parkway Robgeleen

    Blue Ridge selfie

    Walnut Cove

    After the Blue Ridge Parkway fail, we got advice from some locals and drove out to Brevard, NC to stop at three different waterfalls. It was an easy highway drive and then you turn into the Pisgah National Forest and boom waterfalls. Looking Glass Falls was the first stop.

    Looking Glass Falls

    Walking up to Looking Glass Falls

    A lot of people checking out Looking Glass Falls

    Whole gang of people

    Lounging at Looking Glass Falls

    Lounging

    Looking Glass Falls

    Pretty impressive!

    Next was Sliding Rock. It was packed with kids walking up and sliding down over and over again.

    Weeeeeeee

    Weeeeeee!

    So many kids at Sliding Rock

    Brave children

    Sliding Rock

    A few people really flew down this thing and we were worried for them.

    The last waterfall was at the end of Moore Cove Trail. It was a very humid but otherwise lovely walk out to an impressive waterfall.

    Moore Cove Trail

    Trail out there

    Moore Cove Trail walking towards the waterfall

    Very tall waterfall

    Way up there

    Tiny pool at the bottom

    It flows into a tiny pool

    Robbie takes a gander

    Robbie takes a look


  2. Birmingham, AL

    December 30, 2017 by Angie

    Hurricane Irma, oh my god. What a jerk. It messed up our house and took years off of our lives. We evacuated to Birmingham, AL in early September because we were told a Category 5 hurricane was definitely coming to wipe our house off the map. In good news, Birmingham turns out to be a pretty cool place. We tried our very hardest to make the best of our evacuation trip while compulsively checking the storm track.

    Somewhere in Georgia
    Somewhere in Georgia

    Cuthbert, GA

    Somewhere else in Georgia

    Robbie drove us for many hours with Sookie in the backseat. She was a good girl except for the time she tried to fight a bellhop.

    We stayed at the only dog-friendly hotel we could find with a room left, the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel. The people who work there were very good to us, but it wasn’t the best location and getting to the car in the parking garage or outside to walk Sookie from the hotel room was an ordeal.

    Sheraton Birmingham Hotel

    Food We Ate

    We had breakfast at the Harvest Restaurant and Bar in the Redmont Hotel nearby. It was a very pleasant, quiet, calm breakfast.

    Omelet, a soy latte, and the best potatoes

    You know we won’t pass up a chance to eat at Mellow Mushroom. My parents and Sookie came too. It was a really good Mellow Mushroom and we would know because we’ve been to them all over the country.

    Mellow Mushroom drinks

    Mellow Mushroom drinks

    Outdoor seating at Mellow Mushroom
    We sat outside on the front patio.

    We had fantastic vegan hot dogs at Hot Diggity Dog.

    Hot Diggity Dog Tots and a veggie dog
    And tots!

    Time is a flat circle
    Time is a flat circle.

    Urban Standard is a coffee/breakfast place where I got a very fine soy latte and grits. Robbie didn’t love his tofu scramble thing and none of the food was photogenic. The place itself is cute, however.

    We got takeout from New China Town and it was everything I wanted it to be. Vegetable dumplings, fried rice, and General Tso’s tofu!

    Closeup of our foul, hotel living and amazing, fried tofu.


    New China Town

    Drinks We Drank

    We loved Paramount Bar, a video game bar with great drinks.

    We had some impressive drinks at the The Atomic Lounge.

    I love the Angela Davis Room

    This bar has the same aesthetic as Fiona Apple’s Criminal video, but a lot more #woke.

    We had such great fries at the adorable Carrigan’s Public House!

    The outside is so cute

    Robbie at the bar

    Places We Went

    We took Sookie for a walk around Railroad Park.

    Railroad Park

    Railroad Park

    Railroad Park

    Robbie and Sookie at Railroad Park

    Railroad Park

    Robbie did some out-of-state beer shopping at Hop City.

    Hop City

    I had to check out the Birmingham Public Library. The central library was very close to our hotel.

    The Atwood/Austen section

    We walked through Red Mountain Park with my parents and Sookie. The park wasn’t done in the way I am used to, spoiled as I am by Florida state parks. It was pretty though and I’m glad we went and did not in fact get lost (although we almost did) or fall down a big hill (which 3 out of 5 of us came very close to doing).


  3. Montréal, QC

    May 19, 2017 by Angie

    Our sixth anniversary trip last month was to Montréal, QC. I read and heard it’s best to visit Montréal in May through October. I didn’t really believe the haters. After visiting in April, I would agree with that advice. That being said, we had a great time and there was plenty to do even though a lot of stuff is closed until May 1 or later.

    On the Border in the airport

    Getting the party started in the airport bar. Bon voyage to us.

    We stayed at the Hotel InterContinental Montréal, which is downtown. The ride from the airport was not bad and they charge a flat rate to that part of town. They let us check in early and offered free late checkout at 2:00 pm.

    We immediately went to a vegetarian restaurant called Lola Rosa. They have three locations. They gave us so much food.

    Robbie, wine, and nachos

    Robbie, wine, beer, and nachos

    NACHOS at Lola Rosa

    Nachos!

    lasagna at Lola Rosa

    Lasagna

    Veggie burger at Lola Rosa

    Robbie got an elaborate veggie burger.

    We walked to a wine bar, Pullman. It was very nice inside but Robbie didn’t like his drink and our drinks were expensive. Check out this chandelier made of glasses.

    Pullman chandelier

    Pullman washrooms

    I guessed “F”.

    After that we went to McLean’s Pub to watch hockey thinking everybody would be excited about it but nobody cared at all. No photographic evidence of that stop.

    We took an Uber to a really cool speakeasy, The Coldroom. You have to know what the door looks like because there’s no sign. You ring the bell and somebody comes to let you in. The drinks were great.

    The Coldroom

    Angie's drink at The Coldroom

    We passed by Notre-Dame all lit up on our way back to the hotel.

    Notre Dame at night

    Notre-Dame Basilica at night

    We walked around a little while in the neighborhood near the Notre-Dame Basilica. It was mildly shady and a little more than mildly touristy. The church is really worth seeing, however.

    Notre Dame

    Wow

    The altar at Notre Dame

    The Underground City is not as good as I wanted it to be but better than I expected considering Underground Atlanta is my reference. Our hotel and many (all?) subway stations are connected to it. We used it to get around a little when it was raining and I got delicious bagels from the shop right outside the InterContinental twice (bagel count: 2).

    We had lunch at the Green Panther where I had the falafel sandwich and Robbie got a BBQ tofu sandwich. I neglected to get photos but we totally recommend it.

    I like to see libraries. It was rainy and we ducked into the Grand Bibliotheque, Quebec’s national library and part of BAnQ. It is impressive and seems popular with the locals. Most of the materials are in French but they have some English stuff too.

    BAnQ

    Stories of library stuff!

    The Stranger

    I wish I could read this book in French.

    It was still rainy so we stopped at a locals’ bar, Bistro a JoJo where two Canadians were mean to us! Yes, mean Canadians! One guy said the library is where he would put his wife so he could go to the strip club. A gentleman and a scholar.

    After that we had a round at La Distillerie #1 per my brother’s recommendation. It was before 5:00 on Thursday and still raining so it was pretty quiet. The bartender made Robbie’s favorite Old Fashioned of the whole trip. She gave us free goldfish crackers. We loved this place.

    Le Distillerie

    Le Sainte-Elisabeth is one of the places that really needs to be visited during terrace season. The terrace is huge and in the photos online it’s beautiful. When we went it was closed, the vines were dead, and it was raining and about 50 degrees. I guess we need to go back to Montréal in the summer! No photos of the sad terrace, sorry.

    We visited the absinthe bar in our hotel, Sarah B., twice and ordered the cheese plate both times. It was wonderful enough to warrant coming back, I promise. We also got some really great fries on our second visit. Robbie kept ordering weird drinks I thought tasted awful, but I loved the wine I had the first time and the espresso martini the second time. Even though we went twice I managed to get no photos. You should look at their Yelp photos because it’s for sure the coolest hotel bar I’ve ever seen.

    My favorite meal of the trip was brunch at L’Avenue. I regret not taking photos of our food. We waited outside in the cold for a table so once we were seated it was all business and shoving delicious fruit, a Montréal bagel (bagel count: 3), and a very fancy omelet into my face. I’m against bathroom selfies as a rule, but check out this bathroom. The clock thing is a video. The black lights and the huge mirror were really disorienting.

    L'Avenue

    Disorienting bathroom

    There was a break in the rain so we walked around the Mile End neighborhood and then got an Uber towards McGill University and got dropped off near the entrance to the Parc du Mont Royal.

    mural

    Mural of important, dead socialist, Albert Saint-Martin

    Fairmount Bagel

    We didn’t eat the famous bagels at Fairmount Bagel, but I did eat three (bagel count: three!) Montréal bagels during our trip. Robbie was not a fan at all but I think they’re so much better than New York bagels.

    McGill University

    Aside from speaking very poor French, our big adventure was visiting Parc du Mont-Royal and walking up the “mountain” to the lookout area. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park. It’s a beautiful park, even in mid-April. You can take stairs to the top where there is a lookout area and a chalet with restrooms (washrooms, if you’re Canadian) and a gift shop.

    Park du Mont Royal

    lookout

    Robbie

    Robbie at the lookout area

    Montreal

    Montréal

    Angie

    Angie squinting in front of the skyline

    thingie

    I like this thing

    Robgeleen are serious

    Robgeleen!

    The saddest missed photo documentation opportunity was at Dieu du Ciel, a brewery/bar not far from the park. Robbie had their American style IPA, Moralité, and was so in love.

    We had a late lunch at Le Cagibi where Robbie had tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich with pesto and I had veggie nachos. For the count: that’s two nachos and three bagels.

    Le Cagibe

    We spent a long time at a swanky bar, the Sparrow. We sat at the bar and chatted with the bartender. The drinks were fantastic and Robbie won’t stop talking about the fries he ordered. They really were good fries.

    Drinks at the Sparrow

    Dispensing

    We struggled to find things that were open and not too packed, but not totally dead either. We went to Bar Kabinet which is a soviet themed bar attached to Bar Datcha where I understand there is sometimes dancing. It was quiet but nice. We had a round at Apt. 200 which was also quiet but very awesome inside with house plants and couches. We walked a lot looking for stuff to do and then walked a long way back to the hotel. We saw the mural and really cool lights below.

    mural

    cool lights

    lights and a mural

    We didn’t want to leave without having crepes. The next morning we went to Spanel Crepes & Gourmets for buckwheat crepes. They were unique and quite different from regular crepes, but so good!

    crepes!

    buckwheat crepe

    We had late lunch/early dinner at BEVO Bar & Pizzeria. Again, no photos. I’m lame. It was so good and our waiter and the rest of the staff were really nice.

    Our longest wait of the trip was for a spot inside another speakeasy, Cloakroom. It was worth the wait. Cloakroom is a bespoke suit shop and barber shop with a hidden bar. That mirror is on a secret door!

    Cloakroom bar

    They go out of their way to make it a classy experience. They only let 25 people in at a time because it’s so small. They gave us a playing card as a kind of pass, took our coats, and brought us to our seats at the bar. We had an assigned bartender who explained their approach. He asked us what we like in a drink and our favorite flavors and then created something just for each of us. The drinks were perfect. We stayed for another round and those were perfect too!

    drinks at Cloakroom

    Personalized drinks at Cloakroom

    On our last day, we had breakfast at the adorable Olive et Gourmando where we had pain au chocolat and cheese toast with tea and a very pretty soy latte.

    pain au chocolat

    Thank you, Montréal, for the wonderful time and happy anniversary, Robbie. <3


  4. California Wine Country

    January 18, 2015 by Angie

    I’m finally blogging the second half of our California trip. These photos are from Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Rosa.

    We were very impressed with our hotel, Inn at Sonoma, near the Sonoma square. We were a short walking distance to everything in town. Our room was beautiful with our own balcony. The complimentary wine and cheese hour and breakfasts were very good. We would definitely stay there again.

    Inn at Sonoma

    Our room at Inn at Sonoma.

    balcony at Inn at Sonoma

     Our private balcony.

    Rooftop hot tub at Inn at Sonoma

    Awesome rooftop jacuzzi.

    free wine and cheese hour

    Robbie enjoying a Sonoma red at the complimentary, nightly wine and cheese tasting.

    Hop Monk

    After checking in and enjoying the wine and cheese hour at Inn at Sonoma, we walked across the street to HopMonk for drinks. I had an awesome champagne drink. Robbie had a HopMonk IPA and did not like it at all. Sorry, HopMonk. I thought the outside seating area was really pretty.

    On our first full day in California Wine Country, we enjoyed the yummy and complimentary breakfast at our hotel, picked up a soy latte at Peet’s across the street, and drove to our first winery, Lancaster Estate in Healdsburg. The grounds are beautiful. We saw our first hummingbird ever while waiting outside for our guided tour to begin!

    Robbie at Lancaster Estate Winery

    Cheers to the hummingbird.

    Angie at Lancaster Estate Winery

    Angie and the grounds.

    Lancaster Estate Winery

    The vineyard.

    Home at Lancaster Estate Winery

    The estate. I wouldn’t mind living there.

    We got to tour two wine caves while were in California. The Lancaster Estate wine cave is so fancy, like the Bat Cave but with more wine.

    Inside the cave

    A tasting area inside the cave. This room reminds me of the Authority’s underground complex in True Blood.

    barrels in the cave

    barrels

    Many, many barrels of wine inside the cave.

    logo closeup

    A closeup of barrel. These are made specially for Lancaster Estate.

    egg

    This is a giant cement egg they use in the wine-making process.

    inside of a barrel

    Here is a look at what is going on inside the barrel as the wine is being made.

    cool lights

    Our tour guide and the very impressive design details inside the cave. A little A Game of Thrones-y.

    wine and cheese tasting in the cave

     This is where we sat for our wine and cheese tasting with another couple and our tour guide.

    Robgeleen drinking wine in a cave

    Robgeleen IN A CAVE.

    Because we love pinot noir so much, our tour guide at Lancaster Estate recommended that we stop by the Roth Estate Winery just down the road to try their award-winning pinot noir.

    Roth Estate Winery

    Roth Estate grounds.

    Best favorite Pinot Noir at Roth

    THE pinot noir.

    It was so good! We bought a bottle to drink back at home. This was a much more laid-back experience. The tasting room is pretty but relaxed with board games for people to play while they enjoy their wine. We each had a glass of the pinot noir then headed on to Napa County.

    Our friend said her favorite winery from her visit to Wine Country was Sequoia Grove in Napa so we drove out to see it. The grounds are so beautiful but different from the other vineyards we visited. This one has tons of Sequoia trees so it has more of a forest feeling to it. I agree with our friend – you don’t want to miss this one. The wine is very good, the staff are all nice and knowledgeable, and I loved being back in a redwood forest.

    Outside Sequoia Grove

    A seating area outside.

    Robbie inside Sequoia Grove

    Robbie inside talking with the very helpful staff.

    Angie hugging a redwood tree at Sequoia Groves

    I love these trees so much I had to hug one.

    fountain at Sequoia Grove

    It doesn’t get much more scenic than this.

    grapes on the vine

     A closeup of their grapes on the vine.

    After Sequoia Grove, we drove back to our hotel and walked over to the Red Grape for more wine and delicious pizza. Regrettably, I didn’t get a photo of the pizza but here is Robbie in their lovely outdoor area.

    Robbie at The Red Grape

    Robbie at The Red Grape.

    On our last day before heading back to San Francisco we woke up crazy early again. The hotel wasn’t serving breakfast yet and we had been starving for a couple of hours already so we walked over to the Basque Boulangerie Cafe. We got a giant baguette, a soy latte for me (a trend?), and a green tea for Robbie. The bread was so fresh and good that we started eating it as we walked back to our hotel.

    mmm, bread

     Mouth full of bread.

    We had reservations for an early tram wine tour and tasting at Benziger Family Winery so we checked out of our awesome hotel and started our drive out to Glen Ellen. This winery is biodynamic, meaning they use only natural farming methods. We learned a lot from the tour. It was interesting to learn about the process and how they manage everything without chemicals. They have the second cave we visited, which was cool, but not nearly as fancy as the Lancaster Estate cave. The grounds are breathtakingly beautiful. Gotta admit though, neither of us cared much for their wines.

    Benziger grounds

    Woah.

    tour guide

    Our tour guide pouring a tasting for us at the top of the hill in the vineyard.

    Benziger vineyard

     The vineyard.

    Benziger cave

     Barrels inside the cave.

    Robgeleen kiss in a vineyard

    Robgeleen selfie with the pretty vineyard.

    After our tour, we drove out to Russian River Brewing, a.k.a. Robbie’s heaven on Earth, in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa is a precious little city. Anybody want to give us jobs there?

    Robbie & Pliny sitting in a tree

     The big moment! Robbie drinking the best IPA in the world, Pliny the Elder, on tap at Russian River Brewing. He’s so happy!

    really good pizza

    Their pizza was fantastic. Some of the best pizza we’ve had, and we’ve had a lot of pizza. I wish we could go to Russian River Brewing all the time  🙁

    We then drove back over the Golden Gate Bridge (which is pretty scary really – there’s nothing in between your lane and the lane going the opposite direction) for our last night in San Francisco and the last night of our trip.

    It was a successful trip. We saw redwoods and the Golden Gate Bridge, ate lots of delicious food, drank lots of delicious wine, had Pliny the Elder on tap – all goals accomplished! If only California were a lot closer…

    See the blog post on the San Francisco part of our trip here.


  5. Siesta Key, FL

    May 15, 2014 by Angie

    This past weekend we took a mini-vacation to Siesta Key, FL. We knew that it’s been voted Best Beach in the U.S., in the World, in Creation, etc., BUT we didn’t know that it’s where Florida keeps it’s very drunk retired people. We learned this quickly.

    But first things first. We stayed at Sara Sea Beach Resort which is a part of the Tropical Beach Resorts. It’s a small resort with a gorgeous, white sand, private beach, a pool, a volleyball court, a shuffleboard court, and beautiful grounds with lots of places to lounge and grill. The resort also boasts a lot of free things including Wi-Fi, towel and chair rentals, DVD library, coffee, pink lemonade, cookies, and maid service (which, believe it or not, is hard to find on Siesta Key). We got the smallest queen bed room and, even though we weren’t in there very long, it was small. Tiny as it was, it did have everything we needed with a fully equipped (hair dryer, Aveda products) bathroom and a real kitchen with an almost normal-sized fridge, stove, microwave, and dishes and utensils. Here are some photos of our home away from home last weekend.

    Sara Sea Queen Hideaway

    Sara Sea Queen Hideaway was the name of our room size/style

    Sara Sea Beach Resort Kitchen

    A real kitchen! We only used the fridge, cups, and ice bucket but it’s nice to have the option to cook during a longer stay.

    Sara Sea pool

    The pool.

    Walkway to the private beach

    The walkway to the private Siesta Key beach.

    Siesta Key private beach at sunset

    The beach is, of course, the reason to visit Siesta Key. The water is calm, the sand is powdery white and goes on and on, and the water is clear.

    Siesta Key beach

    Ahhhhh.

    pretty ocean

    Wonderful.

    After checking in, we went to happy hour at Flavio’s Brick Oven and Bar. The pizza was pretty delicious but the drinks and atmosphere were ehhh. The happy hour pizza and drink prices can’t be beat, however. We stopped by a main drinking attraction, the Daiquiri Deck, before heading back to the resort. They basically serve adult Slurpees which isn’t really our style but we had to see it. We had a good time drinking Cigar City Jai Alai IPA and cherry vodka and soda, respectively, while listening to the cover band.

    Daiquiri Deck

    Daiquiri Deck’s array of adult Slurpees

    After dropping off the car and trying a dolphin statue:

    Robbie trying a dolphin statue

    we walked across the street to check out the walking distance establishments. We stopped in at the Crescent Beach Grocery and looked at all the amazing cheese we were too full to eat. We then walked to the Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar triumvirate of establishments, stopping first at Sniki Tiki. It’s a “where everybody knows your name” kind of establishment. We had a really good and really big plate of homemade potato chips with chipotle sauce and some drinks. The bartender was quite awesome. The locals were…old and…colorful but we had a good time. After that we walked over to the karaoke portion and closed out the night there. Some of the singers were really good, like, realllllyyy good. There was a fluorescent wig-wearing group of women with older gentlemen who danced and kept things very entertaining.

    On Saturday morning, we went to brunch. We ate at  Village Cafe where we both had veggie omelets with home fries and toast. We actually meant to go to Sun Garden Cafe but we saw Village Cafe and got confused and went in. We were seated right away and the food and service were good. I would accidentally go there again.

    After brunch, we got ready for the beach by filling our reusable water bottles with boozy drinks. Alcohol is permitted on that beach as long as it’s not in a glass container. The beach was so pretty and relaxing. It was too cold to get all the way in the ocean so we swam in the pool after.

    For dinner we went to Veg, just over the little bridge from our resort. I didn’t know there was a mostly vegetarian restaurant nearby so this was a very pleasant surprise. Veg has a large, almost entirely vegan menu except for some seafood dishes. Kinda weird, I know, but I guess when you’re right by the ocean you get really into seafood, I dunno. Everything we got was incredibly good. We had the cashew “cheese” pâté for our appetizer. I failed to get a photo of this. They tried with the presentation but it still looked kinda like cat food, but, trust me, it was so tasty. Robbie got the seitan brisket and I got the Shabu Shabu which is fake chicken, vegetables, Ponzu sauce, and rice noodles. They also have beer, wine, and housemade sangria, so that’s cool. I would definitely eat here again if we’re ever back in that area.

    Shabu Shabu at Veg

    My Shabu Shabu at Veg

    Seitan Brisket at Veg

    Robbie’s seitan brisket with a sweet potato and veggies

    After dinner, we drove back over to the area with a lot of bars and restaurants and walked around some. We stopped in at Blu Que Island Grill for a round. The same cover band we saw at Daiquiri Deck the night before was playing there. We were so full from Veg which was a little bit of a tragedy because the guy at the table next to us was eating nachos that looked phenomenal. Our bartender was a bit of a character and looked exactly like The Stranger from The Big Lebowski. I tried to discreetly photograph him but this profile shot is the best I could do.

    The Stranger/Bartender

    “Now this here story I’m about to unfold took place back in the early ’90s – just about the time of our conflict with Sad’m and the I-raqis.”

    We ended our evening and vacation sharing a bottle of champagne on the lawn outside on the resort grounds. It was a great trip. A few too many very drunk, very old people but the beach, the resort, and the food at Veg are worth making a return visit.

    champagne on the lawn

    Pray that all their pain be champagne


  6. Orlando, FL

    March 10, 2014 by Angie

    We like to take one night trips to Orlando on a Saturday every once in a while. We went this past weekend and checked out some new bars that we really like. We kinda have it down to a science at this point. We stay at the Courtyard Orlando Downtown. We go to the always delicious Ethos Vegan Kitchen (now in Winter Park) for dinner. Then we drop the car off at the hotel and walk to bars downtown. Once it’s dance o’clock, we walk to the Bar-BQ-Bar/Sky Sixty/Eye Spy compound and hope the DJ plays all the favorites. As the night went on, my photos got darker, blurrier, and generally unusable so here are some highlights from the first few stops.

    After getting Sookie settled in with her DogVacay sitter and checking in to the hotel, we went to an early dinner at Ethos Vegan Kitchen. We got the Boxty appetizer which is two potato pancakes with scallions and sour cream on top. It was good, but not incredible.

    Robbie with boxty appetizer

    Robbie with the Boxty appetizer

    For our entrees, Robbie got the Bay Cakes which are vegan “crab” cakes. He said the dipping sauce was amazing and really made the dish authentic.

    Robbie's Bay Cakes

    Robbie’s Bay Cakes

    I got a new dish, the Blackened Tempeh. It wasn’t blackened in the way that I understand blackened to be, but it was flavorful and good. I liked the collard greens and fresh salsa too.

    Angie's Blackened Tempeh

     Angie’s Blackened Tempeh

    After dropping the car off at the hotel and changing into our dancing clothes, we walked down Orange Avenue. Our first stop was The Courtesy. They take their craft cocktails very seriously. Robbie had a Blue Point IPA that he really liked and I loved my Seba Sour, recommended by the bartender. It is amongst the top three fanciest drinks I’ve ever had, was extremely tasty, and full of booze, so five stars on that.

    Seba Sour at The Courtesy

    Angie’s Seba Sour at The Courtesy

    We tried another new-to-us bar just down the street called The Woods. I had a couple of pretty great vodka gimlets and Robbie had a Widmer Upheaval IPA then switched to whiskey with an Old Fashioned. The bar itself is cool and the bartenders were nice. The music was kind of bad in there but they have a very impressively stocked bar with just about anything you could want, including fresh ingredients for craft cocktails.

    We walked to a secret speakeasy called Hanson’s Shoe Repair. I called the speakeasy on the drive to Orlando and left a voicemail. I was later texted back with the secret password. They only allow 30 people in at a time so we had to wait for a little while downstairs in another bar called NV Art Bar. NV is basically a really expensive, pretty lame waiting room for Hanson’s Shoe Repair. It has good reviews online but I honestly don’t see why; I have a better bar inside my house. Hanson’s Shoe Repair was definitely worth the wait for the kitsch factor and the expertly made drinks. I had the Danny Trejo and Robbie had an Old Fashioned. Both were excellent. Their outside upstairs patio is really adorable and would be perfect for a slightly warmer night. They have speakeasy rules posted and one of them is no photos so…I have no photos.

    It was almost 11:00 so we hoped the dancing would be picking up over at Eye Spy. We entered through Bar-BQ-Bar. It took a little bit for things to get going and it wasn’t the best night we’ve had there as far as the music played or the fellow customers but it was still a great night. The DJ played some jamz and we danced and danced.

    The next day we went to Frank & Steins for lunch before going to pick up Sookie-dog. We had been once before for drinks and to play tabletop shuffleboard and saw they have veggie hot dogs on the menu. Sadly, they sold out of veggie dogs the night before. We got a decent spinach dip but our entrees were pretty bad. Our drinks were good though. Robbie got Bell’s Hopslam on draft which is kind of a miracle. We would definitely go back to drink and play games and probably to give the veggie dogs a try.

    Orlando Bars We Visited & Liked on Past Trips

    Redlight Redlight: A craft beer and wine bar. It has been in three locations over the years. The latest incarnation is by far the best.

    BART: A small bar offering a good but small selection of beer in bottles and wines. They have old arcade games you can play for free while having a drink. It’s a very unique place that I hope continues to live on. You should go to it and actually purchase something unlike most of the people in there.

    Independent Bar: More of a dance club really. It has two levels and a big screen where they show music videos. There are almost always goth characters there to dance on the 80s/Industrial/New Wave nights. I do appreciate a good goth in 2014.

    Milk Bar: A small but cute neighborhood bar. Robbie got a beer he was impressed with but they must not have had wine because I’m pretty sure I got a cider.

    Sonoma Draught House: A nice place even if it’s a little corporate feeling. They have 49 draft beers and a full bar. We had good drinks and a cheese plate on our previous visit.

    Orlando Bar We’d Like to Visit Next Time

    Tap & Grind: A craft beer bar downtown. We read good things but didn’t make it there on this trip.


  7. Drinking Day: Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA

    May 1, 2013 by Angie

    We put the beers in the fridge Sunday night and Robbie cracked one open Monday night. They’re REALLY carbonated and not as hoppy as Robbie would like but the taste is pretty good!

    Everyday IPA

    There was sediment at the bottom so he poured it slow and didn’t get a full glass. Overall, it was fun to try brewing at home but it was a lot of work for eight beers when we could buy twelve delicious ones at Publix in ten minutes. I’m glad we tried it. Maybe the key is to do five gallon batches to make it worth all the work.


  8. Bottling Day: Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA

    April 16, 2013 by Angie

    The time to bottle the beer has come and gone. We didn’t have any helpers this time and we were trying to keep the room dark for the beer’s sake so the photo quality really suffered.

    Everyday IPA after 2 weeks

    This is what the beer looked like after fermenting for two weeks.

    First we had to sanitize everything including all the used beer bottles.

    Clean bottles

     Clean beer bottles and a jug of sanitizer.

    Next we dissolved three tablespoons of honey into a half cup of water and poured that into a sanitized pot. Then we tried to use the setup that came with kit to pump the beer out of the carboy and into the pot with the honey mixture without carrying all the sediment over. The kit setup is tubing with a (crappy) clamp and a racking cane. It didn’t work out so we switched to the auto-siphon setup I bought because I read a lot of reviews where people said the kit’s plan didn’t work for them. Auto-siphon is far superior!

    Once the beer was in the pot with the honey mixture we had to re-sanitize the auto-siphon and tubing then pump the beer/honey mixture into bottles. We got eight bottles total.

    Happy bottler

    Happy worker bottling his beer using the auto-siphon.

    Next Robbie sanitized the bottle caps and used the neat bottle capping machine I bought as part of his birthday brewing set to clamp the caps onto the bottles.

    Neat bottle capper

    Neat bottle capping machine

    Capping the bottles

    Capping away

    Now we wait two weeks while these precious babies sit in the darkness of our spare bedroom. I’ll be back to report on their drinkability!


  9. Brewing Day: Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA

    April 1, 2013 by Angie

    On Saturday we completed step one of our first batch of homebrew. We are using a one gallon kit made by Brooklyn Brew Shop to brew their Everyday IPA. (Robbie exclusively and very selectively drinks IPA.) Our friends Conner & Tessa came over and helped out. Our puppy Sookie was here too to supervise/interfere/cute it up.

    Here’s a photo of the kit box with the ingredients that came inside. It came with almost everything needed to brew the beer, but not quite. We had to get some of our own equipment in addition to the kit including a six quart stock pot (you really need 3 big pots to accomplish this), a bottle of StarSan sanitizer, a gallon of distilled water, a spray bottle, a metal funnel, and a fine mesh strainer. We used a slotted metal spoon, measuring cup, measuring spoons, and two big pots that we already had. We also bought some stuff for the bottling step which happens in two weeks but I’ll blog about that when the time comes.

    Beer Making Kit

    Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Beer Making Kit. You’re looking at the grain, the hops, and the yeast.

    Brooklyn Beer Shop’s detailed instructions and an instructional video are available on their website so I won’t bore you with the all the details here. Enjoy a rundown of the major steps with photos!

    1. Wash and sanitize EVERYTHING.

    Dramatic Sanitization

     Robbie dramatically sanitizing the mesh strainer.

    2. The Mash: Cook the grain in water while keeping the temperature within the desired range.

    The Mash

    3. The Sparge: Collect the wort from the watery grain mash then recirculate the collected wort through the grain one more time.

    The Sparge

     Robbie straining the wort.

    Sookie supervises

     Sookie supervises the homebrewing process.

    4. The Boil: Boil the wort and add the hops in stages. At the end of the boil, you give the wort an ice bath.

    The Boil

     The wort is spinning with newly added hops.

    Ice Bath

     Here’s the ice bath we created in the sink. We had to get it to down to 70 degrees before the next step.

    5. Fermentation: The last part of Day 1 involves pouring the wort through a strainer and funnel into the gallon fermenter then pitching in the yeast and shaking it around. After that, we set up a blow-off tube ending in a bowl of sanitzier and put the future beer in a dark, safe place. On Tuesday we’ll switch the blow-off tube for the airlock and two weeks from Saturday we get to move on to bottling.

    Tessa holds the strainer

    Tessa holds the strainer while Robbie pours the beer-to-be into the fermenter.

    Action shot: shaking the yeast

    Robbie shakes the yeast “aggressively”, as instructed.

    That’s all for now – more in about two weeks when we bottle the beer!


  10. Denver & Boulder, CO

    December 10, 2012 by Angie

    We flew into Denver on a Friday and were welcomed by beautiful, cold weather. We stayed in Uptown/Downtown Denver at the Warwick Denver Hotel. The parking and breakfast situations there were horrifically priced but other than that it’s a great hotel. Really good and central location, clean, warm, quiet, and we both noticed the elevators there are crazy fast. Here’s a photo of the cozy fireplace in the lobby.

    The coolest part is probably the heated rooftop pool.

    On Day 1 we walked around the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall and went to the Yard House there. We love the Gardein dishes they make and they had a lot of local beers so it was a good call. Later we went to Colorado’s first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Company.

    Robbie enjoying a Mile HIPA at Wynkoop Brewing Company

    We made one more stop at Mellow Mushroom on our way back to the hotel. It’s one of the cooler Mellow Mushrooms I’ve been to with a modern, futuristic 60’s look instead of the psychedelic style most of the restaurants have.

    We started Day 2 with brunch at Watercourse Foods. I really liked my omelet. I also liked that they clearly marked on the menu which items contain nuts. Thank you for not poisoning me on my vacation, Denver!

    While we were eating breakfast it started snowing! Our waiter said it didn’t qualify as real snow but not-rain was falling from the sky so we were pretty stoked. Looks like snow on this dog to me!

    It snowed a little on this dog.

    Later we walked through the 16th street mall and it really started to snow then. We snuck into H&M so Robbie could buy some gloves. For lunch, we walked to Rock Bottom Brewery where we had a huge, very tasty plate of nachos and Robbie tried a couple of their beers. By the time we got back to our hotel there was a blanket of snow on everything outside.

    Snowy view from our hotel balcony.

    Just to illustrate how cold it was, here are photos of two very bundled and layered Floridians.

    It was tights-under-the-jeans-cold.

    Robbie looks a little scary in his snow day gear.

    For dinner, we walked to an awesome vegetarian restaurant called City O’ City. I ordered the flu buster hot toddy. It was my first ever hot toddy. I am now a big fan of the drink as this was delicious.

    Flu Buster Hot Toddy at City O’ City

    Robbie ordered the City O’ Burger which came with vegan Big Mac style special sauce. I didn’t get a good photo of it but he was in love. He has mentioned the special sauce every couple of days ever since. I got the pretzel-crusted tofu which also featured a noteworthy and unique caperberry sauce. It was my favorite meal of the trip.

    Pretzel-crusted tofu

    We had a bad habit of going to sleep early and waking up around 5:00 am hungry. I think it had a lot to do with the time zone difference and that we just changed the clocks back that week. I’m going to mostly blame it on the sun abandoning Denver around 4:30 pm everyday. On Sunday, we managed to hold out until 11:00 am when Jonesy’s Eat Bar opened so that we could enjoy the bottomless mimosa brunch there. We had a great time at that restaurant and the food was really good too.

    Posing with my bottomless mimosa at Jonesy’s Eat Bar

    We were without a car but our friends Lauren and Ryan were kind enough to pick us up from our hotel for a trip to Boulder on Sunday. We went to Rueben’s Burger Bistro for lunch where I had the best cherry coke of my life – local cherry whiskey mixed with Diet Coke. Robbie had some special beers too and we split the black bean eggrolls which were also really good. We walked around some more and ended up at Centro Latin Kitchen during Happy Hour. Robbie got to have a homebrewed beer there that was made in the chef’s garage. You can’t get any more local than that. Lauren and I enjoyed our $2 Cuba Libres. We couldn’t pass up the fancy manchego-chimichurri verde fries. Robbie says they are in the top three fries he’s ever had so that’s quite an endorsement.

    Next we continued to bar hop on foot. It was so cold that day but we had a great time. We went to the Pearl Street Pub & Cellar where people were kissing this bison thing on the wall. I’m not clear on the reason for that.

    We continued on to the Walnut Brewery where Robbie tried their GFYIPA and Lauren and Ryan had their giant pretzels. The last stop was the Sundown Saloon which was really fun. It’s a laid-back bar with pool, darts, and my favorite bar game – tabletop shuffleboard.

    On Monday we got up early for our Rocky Mountain National Park tour which you can read all about here. I’m really glad there are services like this tour because it would have been a shame to miss out on all that nature just because we were too scared of driving in the snow. After our tour we went to dinner with Lauren and Ryan in Denver at the Falling Rock Tap House. Robbie and I split a house-made veggie burger which was quite good.

    Tuesday was our last day. 🙁 We went back to City O’ City for breakfast. It’s a sister restaurant to Watercourse Foods so the breakfast was similar but that’s not a bad thing because both places are delicious. After breakfast we packed everything up at the hotel and left our bags with the staff while we killed some time at one last restaurant/brewery, the Vine Street Pub & Brewery. It’s a really cute place with knowledgeable, helpful waiters (this restaurant also protected me from potential nut-induced death), good food, and beers brewed on site. After lunch it was time to say goodbye to Denver and take a taxi back to the airport. We had enough time for one more drink at the Rock Bottom Brewery in the airport.

    It was a fantastic trip and I really feel like we made the most of it and saw and did and drank and ate a lot. It’s really not a bad flight when you fly nonstop like we did so I hope we’ll get to go back soon and see more. Here’s a shot of Robbie’s craft beer loot – a piece of Colorado to enjoy at home.

    The fruit of the Colorado Beer Pilgrimage