Finally I have reached the point where I can start telling you about my trip to Florida – and I’ve already been in Florida for more than two full days! Funny how that happens when you’re busy having a good time!
While my dad and I were eating dinner in Boston, my sister texted me to tell me we’d be flying first class on the way to Florida. I hadn’t flown first class since I was an infant on my mom’s lap, so I was pretty pumped. Turns out they were trying to get us out of coach to make room for more people on the plane, and my dad has mucho reward points, so upgraded we were!
Holiday traditions make me smile, even those my family no longer practices. Harry and David plays a role in one of those traditions; when I was younger, I remember noticing a Harry and David catalog on my mom’s desk and excitedly looking through it to marvel at the beautiful fruit baskets and delicious desserts available for purchase. The catalog’s presence could be explained by my grandfather – he had a major sweet tooth, and at Christmas my mom knew she could always count on a Harry and David treat to make the perfect present.
No, this is not a “grab your attention” title. This is the name of the restaurant that serves as the subject of today’s post on my December Florida vaction! Yeah, I’m still not done talking about it.
Our first full day in Florida was a gorgeous beach day, so we took advantage.
I woke up at my usual early hour of 7:15am, and used my morning to head over to the hotel my parents were staying in (my siblings and I prefer my grandparents’ cozy, familiar apartment) to use the fitness center and get a workout in. It definitely wasn’t the most expansive of places, and most of the TVs on the cardio machines didn’t work, but I did find one functioning television/treadmill and cranked out a 5K, followed by some ab work on a mat. When I’m on vacation, I don’t have my usual enjoyable group fitness classes, so I tend to keep my workouts on the shorter side. This is fine by me, because after all, I am on vacation and would rather not force myself to do too much running, which I don’t really enjoy. Still, I can’t beat the accomplished feeling I get after a workout, and it makes lying on my butt reading magazines by the pool or beach that much more enjoyable and restful, so I try to do something each day.
I took a total break from my recent bookworm status on this entire trip and read the huge pile of magazines that had been accumulating in the backseat of my car since summer (pool season) ended. There’s something about lying out in the sun that makes me feel like nothing but a good fashion or healthy living magazine will do. I even read a few issues of a new-to-me mag, Nylon, which I really ended up enjoying. It was different from the other publications I usually read – very refreshing.
Everyone except my mom (and brother and grandpa, who stayed behind at the apartment – they’re not exactly beach bums) decided to go to the beach’s newest restaurant, Two Drunken Goats, for an al fresco lunch. What a cool place! It essentially lacked one of its four walls, and instead had a bar and an outdoor patio in its place.
The menu was very expansive and had plenty of options for eaters of every kind. I found myself pulled to the Salads section, because these did not look like your typical wimpy restaurant salads. I spotted some serious beasts!
The Specials were written on a chalkboard-on-wheels, which the waitresses rolled from table to table as needed. A cool idea that fit the theme of the restaurant, but I prefer to receive my specials on paper so that I don’t have to ask a waitress to “roll” them over before I can decide on what I want.
Two Drunken Goats also boasts an extensive selection of margaritas! This pineapple margarita was fresh and quite strong – definitely a good thing, because the pineapple’s sweetness wasn’t overpowering the tequila’s flavor. I also was impressed by the generously sized pineapple slice garnish.
My salad was, as I expected, a beast. I ordered a spinach salad with lump crabmeat, hardboiled egg, tomato, cucumbers, onion, green peppers, pepperoncini, scallions, and pineapple-mango vinaigrette on the side. It was wonderful! Took me forever to cut (I like my salads very chopped), but was well worth that self-induced wait. The dressing was perfect and so beachy, and the crab was an extremely satisfying protein choice, along with the egg.
My sister and dad both got quesadillas that looked exactly the same, so I only took one photo. Hannah’s contained grilled chicken and Dad’s had crab and shrimp. Both also had cheese and plenty of sautéed veggies.
Grannan just hung out with her usual glass of Chardonnay – and nibbled on some of the quesadillas! She didn’t get any of my food though – I finished every last bite.
Two Drunken Goats gets two not-drunken thumbs up from each of us! A fun place, perfect for dining on nice days, with something for everyone. On our way out, we had to stop and visit the gentleman who I can only assume is…the owner of the two drunken goats themselves?
Have you ever been to a restaurant on the beach?
Hi all! I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post on the Taste of New Haven: Canal Quarter tour that I did recently. If you haven’t read it, check it out. You’ll be drooling by the end!
Yesterday I was finally back to my sweatier workout routine after work. The day I got my wisdom teeth out (Friday), I did a relaxing YogaWorks Core Flow video in the evening, because I was so stiff from sitting around all day. It felt great, especially all the twisting poses. My back REALLY needed that. On Saturday and Sunday, I stuck to high-resistance elliptical sessions with some good magazines, and mat work. But yesterday I got to the gym, and I had HIIT on the brain. I got on the Step Mill for 30 minutes with the above latest issue of “Self” (and some “Entertainment Tonight” Golden Globes coverage) and did speed intervals, levels 15-17. It ended up coming out to just a little over 4 miles and I finished it off with…
Random Total-Body Moves:
Let’s get back to my Florida vacation recapping, yes?
I think it’s so cool when two “separate worlds” combine in unexpected places. An example of this occurred our second night in Florida, when my dad arranged for my godfather AKA his best friend, Joe, and his son AKA one of my best friends, Greg, to join us for dinner at another old favorite spot, Duffy’s Sports Grill!
Greg and his family were also in Florida for the holidays, and I didn’t want the trip to come and go without at least one meet-up. Greg lives in Boston right now (he goes to law school at BU), but his parents live very close to us in CT and he and I both went to UConn, so it felt funny for our two CT-based families to be meeting for dinner in Florida, of all places! We actually have met up in a similar manner on a trip a couple of years ago, and it’s always a good time.
Duffy’s started out as a little place that only served burgers, hot dogs, and chips – not even fries! It’s certainly expanded since then, with locations all over the east coast of Florida. My parents have adored the place for years and years, since before I was even born.
We arrived to find that the restaurant was, as usual, absolutely packed. My grandma is a Duffy’s MVP, so we did get a little bit of priority on seating, but still had to wait awhile. When you go to Duffy’s, you have to expect a wait if you don’t want to end up disappointed. Eat a snack beforehand – ha!
Duffy’s also has two-for-one happy hour all day, every day. When you order a drink, they just bring you two of it. That’s Florida for you…never in CT would I see that. Lame.
We were finally seated, though had to switch tables because we were mysteriously split up when there were tables available next to each other that we could have pushed together. There was also a slight incident in which our waiter forgot to take Greg’s dad’s order – but we hunted him down!
Despite the fact that Duffy’s is a “sports grill”, the menu really has options for everyone thanks to Florida’s abundance of fresh seafood. I always get fish whenever I can when I visit Florida. I consider it a waste not too – it’s so fresh!
I ordered my go-to white fish, the mahi-mahi with a baked potato and black beans. My mom got the exact same thing. We LOVE all three of those components.
I arrived at Duffy’s STARVED, and then ended up getting too full that I could not finish all that. Not like me!
Greg had never had kobe beef before, and Duffy’s is continuously voted Best Burger in FL, so he got a kobe burger. We were all disappointed to see that Duffy’s had gotten rid of their fantastic french fries and replaced them with shoestring fries! These are SO much less satisfying than regular fries, and our waiter agreed. He said it had been only a week, and they’d already had so many complaints that a plan was already being implemented to change them back. Don’t mess with a good thing!
Greg still enjoyed his burger, but he wasn’t blown away.
Duffy’s is a great place with reasonable prices, and I recommend giving their seafood or burgers a try if you’re in eastern FL – after they get their old fries back, of course.
How do you feel about shoestring fries?
Let me know if you try my workout moves!
You have until 11:59PM EST tonight to enter the giveaway for Anytime Fitness CEO Chuck Runyon’s book “Working Out Sucks! (And Why It Doesn’t Have To)”. What are you waiting for?!
HAPPY FRIDAY! Is it just me or did this week go by quite fast? Even though I had to work on Monday, unlike the rest of the world (seemingly), I still don’t feel like it’s Friday. I just kept telling myself that this morning as I tried to drag myself out of bed. I was in the habit for awhile of waking up before my alarm a couple times a week, but lately I’ve been sleeping like a rock and can barely wake up, despite going to bed at the same time as I usually do. I’m gonna take this as a sign that I’m less stressed (I tend to wake up thinking about all I have to do for the day – quieting my mind is not something I do well) but I also do not enjoy feeling so sleepy each morning.
Yesterday was a long, busy day with errands that ran over, so I took it as a spontaneous rest day from the gym. I was feeling a bit guilty about it at first (after all, reading “Working Out Sucks!” will take away any excuses you have in your reserves), but I took to Twitter to get a little #fitfluential chat about rest days going, and received some good insights.
The general consensus seemed to be 1-2 rest days per week – sounds good to me! But everyone is different – some people just starting out in working out may only do so every other day. As long as it’s something, I think you deserve a pat on the back for getting out there.
This is the portion of the post that moves into beyond-late-recap zone, a recent trend as of late, but a trend that I plan to continue since I believe that withholding delicious eats from my Florida trip would be more of a crime!
Looks like Marian agrees with me on this one…
And is it appropriate to say Merry Christmas, since this is a semi-Christmas post, even though it is now January 2012? I think I’ll say it anyway – Merry Belated Christmas, because this is a Christmas Day recap! It’s my blog, and I’ll recap late if I want to!
My dad’s flight to Florida left ridiculously early on the 25th (as in, he had to get up at 4:30am), but my siblings, mom, and I were lucky enough to score a flight that departed at a godly hour, so we left the house around 9:30am (leaving me time to do the moving vinsaya portion of P90X Yoga). Hannah and Mom scored their usual airport Dunkin, but I just can’t stand their coffee anymore enough to even have it once in a while, so I went with a nonfat café au lait from the not-much-better Lavazza.
Michael opted for a bacon, egg, and cheese on a plain bagel from DD – Hannah stole a bite!
He doesn’t quite understand my blog-photo-taking ways, nor does he want to partake in them.
We arrived at my grandparents’ apartment in Florida in the late afternoon, which gave us time to get settled in and chill for a bit while my parents headed to TooJay’s Gourmet Deli to get Christmas dinner! This is a tradition we started last year, and I hope we keep it, because I adore TooJay’s and would much prefer their food to a traditional Christmas meal. I know my blend Amy may agree with me on this – we spent time tweeting about TooJay’s!
Fun fact – my mom was a TooJay’s waitress up until she had my younger sister! So our family has a lot of history with this restaurant. They have various locations (the one we got dinner from was not the one my mom worked at), but quality never varies from city to city. I remember going there with my dad for dinner when I was little, so she could be our waitress. Of course back then all I’d touch were the steak fries because I didn’t like anything else. Sometimes I’d convince my dad to order me a slice of carrot cake just so I could eat the little icing carrot on top. I was a real pain, huh?
Michael went with the most basic of meals. He’s still in the I-like-much-of-anything phase that I was in until about age 18.
The steak fries still remain one of our favorite menu items, so there was no shortage of those. I had a few once I finished my meal and knew I had room for a bit more.
My favorite part of going to TooJay’s has got to be their pickles – Christina, you feel me on this? I probably ended up eating all but three of these over the course of our stay in FL, including three during this dinner and four in one sitting a few days later. What salt addiction? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
My dad, mom, and I all got the same thing – the turkey pastrami on rye bread, Russian dressing on the side. This dressing is not something my mom and I usually eat, but it’s a necessary indulgence when it comes to TooJay’s. Oh, and steak fries are VERY good dipped in it, FYI.
A normal looking sandwich, right? Not so fast.
That’s right, each half is stacked that high. IT’S SO GOOD with spicy brown mustard. I ate every last bite.
Then I had one bit of my grandpa’s leftover dill chicken salad (it’s under there somewhere), and oh man. Best chicken salad I’ve EVER had! I polished it all off, I couldn’t help myself. And then I definitely didn’t have any room for dessert. But man oh man, that was fine with me because this chicken salad was fantastic.
We spent the rest of the evening exchanging gifts with my grandparents and watching the NBA’s return (more specifically, the Miami Heat’s return) before hitting the hay. I was bummed Christmas was over, but psyched for the amazing vacation that lied ahead!
What do you usually have for Christmas dinner? Relive what you had a couple weeks ago for me!
Continuing my ridiculously behind-schedule series of recaps of my holiday season, enjoy this restaurant recap from dinner on 12/23!
I am always in charge of choosing restaurants on family trips, and our annual Christmas Eve trip to NYC is no different. I went to Twitter and Yelp to seek out a dinner destination, and found great success on the latter when I stumbled upon the menu for The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English. You guessed it, it’s located at the famous Plaza Hotel, and the huge menu told me two things:
I was torn between so many options!! And what is pictured above was only one side of the menu. I asked the waitress for some advice, but finally just went with my gut last-minute and decided literally right before I opened my mouth to tell my waitress my order.
The restaurant is set up with “bar-style” seats at various stations (one for each section of the menu). We were seated at the flatbreads station – appropriate since that’s what I ended up ordering!
We also were seated right by what I can only guess was the “grilling station”, which was cool because whenever I turned around, a new tasty order was up on the counter waiting to be picked up by a waiter – and waiting to be photographed by me!
To start, I ordered a cocktail called the Green Agave: Patron, agave nectar, fresh lime juice, and basil/mint. It was fantastic – the right amount of tequila (AKA nice and strong), and nice and light.
Even their sodas were served in a fancy manner – check out Hannah’s Diet Coke!
The flatbread chef was kind enough to take a photo of the three of us.
Service was a bit slow, but we were in no real rush. By the time our food came, I was definitely ready to dive in. I ended up going with a flatbread topped with Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, tomatoes, gorgonzola, and prosciutto. I asked for light cheese, and did not really get it, but I picked some off and still enjoyed my meal!
Hannah selected the hamburger with classic french fries. I had a bite of her burger and it was cooked very well. The fries looked great!
My dad went all out and started with the special soup of the day: mushroom bisque. Two thumbs up from him on this!
For the main course, he ordered the Kobe Pastrami Burger with the special side of the night, Fried Risotto Tots. Unfortunately, the tots didn’t come til the end of the meal, when we were all quite full. I tried to convince my dad to send them back, but he doesn’t like to do that kind of thing. We all agreed that they also weren’t all that great – a yummy crispy fried shell for sure, but the risotto insides were pretty tasteless. The burger and pastrami, however, were both out of this world.
After we paid the bill, we stopped by the dessert station on the way out and got a piece of chocolate cake to-go. The three of us split it back at the hotel room – it was pretty good, not amazing, but still a tasty end to the night.
Overall, I really loved The Plaza Food Hall. Despite not having one type of food it specializes in, the restaurant produces high-quality dishes almost all across the board. In a crowded NYC dinner spot, service can’t be expected to be perfect, but it could have been a little speedier. Still, we were chillin’, and didn’t mind waiting too much (except for the tots that came at the end of the meal). I definitely would recommend this place to NYC visitors and locals alike. There was simply so much to choose from – I’d be glad to go back!
Take a look at the menu – what would you order? Can you even choose?
I’m currently blogging from the Tampa Bay International Airport, waiting for my connecting flight to take my siblings and I back to CT. Not pleased about going back, but I am pleased that I can continue to relive this wonderful holiday season through all my recap blog posts – enjoy this latest one, about our trip to NYC 12/23-12/24!
Every year, my dad takes my sister and I to NYC on the 23rd. We shop, go out to eat, and stay overnight. Then on the morning of the 24th, we wake up and go to the Today Show to get on TV! We are successful each year, and after we get on TV, we have breakfast, shop if we still need to make some stops, and then go home. It is really one of our most beloved family traditions, and I look forward to our NYC excursion each and every holiday season.
This year was wonderful, as usual.
We stayed at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, which was very ritzy and super convenient.
Elevators were supposedly super efficient (and were…at times). You typed in the number of your desired floor on a keypad, and the screen displayed which elevator you were supposed to go to.
We were all the way up on the 38th floor! What a view, and a nice room too.
Hannah and I prepared for our shopping with a Starbucks pit-stop for nonfat mistos.
She and I had some fun with the Forever 21 billboard in Times Square that shows its audience with a new character every couple of minutes. Can you spot us? Probably not, I barely can. If you could I actually might be a little freaked out.
Halfway through shopping I got a hankering for a unique NYC snack. I found it at Nuchas, a little stand in the heart of Times Square that sold empanadas. I chose a grilled chicken variety that was delicious. I didn’t take a photo because it did look quite plain, but trust me, this was better than a street vendor hot dog.
I had some success shopping! I found a sweatshirt and new jeggings at American Eagle, and a ton of jewelry and a shirt at Forever 21.
And then came our traditional trip to Rockefeller Center to see the tree at night!
Then it was time to go back to the hotel to get ready for what turned out to be a wonderful dinner – still to come!
What’s your most treasured holiday family tradition?
Merry Christmas! I’m in Florida at my grandparents’ apartment, waiting for traditional Jewish deli take-out for Christmas dinner and blogging from my phone because as of now, an Internet connection is MIA.
Just popping by quickly to announce the winner of the Shabby Apple necklace giveaway – thanks so much to all who entered. Using a random number generator, I determined that the winner is Catherine! Please email email@example.com with your shipping info!
I am sitting on a zillion pictures from the last few days of holiday festivities and the amount will only grow on this vacation. This is a good blogger problem to have, but if I don’t find an Internet connection soon I won’t be able to share any of it til after I get home on New Year’s Eve! We’ll see!
Edit: I found Internet! So hopefully will be able to blog occasionally on my trip – in between having fun
What was your best Christmas gift that you GAVE?