Tag Archives: happy hour

Wordless Wednesday: Baltimore

I never had time between all my weekends away to share my photos from one of those weekends, in Baltimore, MD. I really felt at home and can totally see myself living there one day, though I know most parts of Baltimore are not as “cute” as the parts I was hanging out in! Enjoy my photos ūüôā

Iced coffee, gross clothes, and #fitblognyc swag bag – travel standards.

Nomming on a packed salad while working on my paper during the car ride.

Right by our hotel!

Ridiculous amount of menus at Chazz.

Enjoying the Ginger Gin & Tonic made with ginger, cuke, and mint.

Better look at the drink. No it ain’t water.

We all shared a bunch of apps at Chazz’s happy hour – this was the Gorgonzola Beef Carpaccio.

Good old calamari with a fab aioli.

The super tentacley ones with less breading are my fave – more seafood!

Standard tomato bruschetta with goat cheese.

Veal meatball sliders with housemade chips.

My second drink, which my dad had to help me finish…the Pikesville Manhatta using a Maryland classic rye whiskey, with a brandied cherry. One of the best Manhattans I’ve ever tasted.

This Nutella jar on display was HUUUUGE!

Sis and I at da ba.

Sis, dad, and I outside of Chazz, ready to head to an Orioles game!

My most hated chain!

Buzzin’ in the Inner Harbor walking to the baseball game.

I love the Inner Harbor!

The coolest building I saw there.

We got these free bucket hats at the Orioles game!

Dad’s got his rally cap on.

BBQ at the ball game! Surprised by the options at the stadium for food. But that drink I’m holding was freaking gross.

Shared BBQ pulled pork sammie and sides for sis and I.

Way typical.

Next morning’s brunch bev of choice at Teavolve – Strawberry Basil Fizz.

But I had some of their coffee too!

Wheat toast, egg white omelette with CRAB and muchos veggies.

Purchased on SALE at South Moon Under ūüôā

Haul from a cute boutique! Because I definitely need designer highlighters.

Hannah and I stumbled upon this gorgeous bar with cocktails comparable to Drink’s, called Wit & Wisdom, in the Four Seasons.

Perfect afternoon to sit outside with my drink, which included walnut bitters.

Hiding behind some fake dunes?

Hello, you.

Snagged this for just $20 at Urban Outfitters – it’ll pop up in a Fashion Friday soon enough!

My go-to margarita – natural, on the rocks, with EXTRA salt at Roy’s happy hour.

Marvelous marg!

Edamame in the beginning of the meal?! My kind of place!

Dad’s face when I clued him into the fact that edamame is full of soy protein!

Skinny Cosmo ūüėÄ so pretty!

Mini smoked mahi tacos in a crunchy shell!

Mini shortrib tacos!

3 cheers for ICE CREAM from Haagen Dazs! Spiced caramel biscuit…AMAZING.

Pour-over coffee from Lamill for the ride home. So delicous (and it better be, it was like $4!)

And a Whole Foods salad BEAST for the ride home too. Can’t resist visiting other locations’ Whole Foods bars!

Have you ever been to Baltimore?

Do you usually pack food for road trips, or buy on the way?

Which nommm looks best to you?

Also, the winner of the Love with Food giveaway is my friend Alex of The Run Within. Congrats girl! I will be sending  you the code to get your FREE September Love with Food box. Remember, everyone else has until 8/31 to use the code CAITVIP for $2 off if you want to order your own box! Thanks to all who entered!

My Favorite Restaurant

People often ask me what my favorite restaurant is, since I’m such a fanatic. It’s a fair question! And if you follow me on Twitter, you may know what the answer is, seeing as I’ve checked in there four times in the last two weeks (and I’m the Mayor ūüėÄ shut up, it matters).

If you guessed J. Gilbert’s, you are spot-on!¬†I’ve done a full write-up on a visit (when they came out with a new menu) and have mentioned them countless times. I’m a big fan of tweeting every experience I have there too.

Swordfish, broccolini, baked potato.

When I first started visiting J. Gilbert’s, I’d order the same thing every single time – 6 oz. filet mignon, baked potato, and asparagus. Oh, along with their awesome sourdough bread.

The butter on the right is pastrami butter!

But then I became an adventurarian (genius term Heather came up with for my style of eating) and began to feel the need to¬†get something different every single time. And that’s totally possible, thanks to the constantly-rotating selection of¬†specials.

Jeff’s latest special selection – 14 oz veal with a fig demi glace and lobster risotto!

I love taking friends to J. Gilbert’s because I KNOW they will love it, no matter what they order. However, there are certain things that are their specialty. When Jeff and I took our friend Kelly there a couple weeks ago, we helped her pick out a meal that was a sampler of what J. Gilbert’s does best, wood-fired steaks and seafood.

4oz filet, crab cake, lobster risotto, lobster mac n cheese.

The bar has an amazing atmosphere. I love going there to hang out and catch up with friends, or family. The bartenders are courteous and really fun to chat with. J. Gilbert’s boasts an extremely impressive wine collection, but their cocktails ain’t half bad either.

Lemon Basil Manhattan: Maker’s Mark, lemon, basil, simple syrup, pure cane sugar.

The bar also has a great happy hour, including a Sunday option, from 4-8pm! I love Sundays at J. Gilbert’s. A nice way to wind down the weekend!

My favorite happy hour app, the chicken quesadilla.

Another happy hour option, filet mignon sliders with sweet potato shoestring fries.

My family celebrates almost every special occasion at J. Gilbert’s.

My parents and I recently had dinner there to celebrate my 23rd birthday. I went all out and ordered the rack of lamb.

My dad’s swordfish was a work of art (you may recognize it as the cover photo on the Cait Plus Ate Facebook page).

And I like to think of this picture of us from that night as a work of art too ūüôā

When my Nana Connie came to visit, we took her to J. Gilbert’s TWICE!

Me, my mom, and Nana Connie at Sunday happy hour.

She enjoyed her filet and crab cakes (another first-timer, so I suggested she order that!) and I adored yet another new-to-me entree choice, the¬†ahi tuna!¬†One thing I don’t often switch up are my sides. I tend to gravitate towards a baked potato and asparagus almost every single time. Their baked potatoes are truly the best I’ve ever had. So much sea salt on the skin!

The weird dark thing in the upper left is actually the charred side of the other piece of tuna. YUM!

The waitstaff is very friendly and not at all annoyed (or seemingly not annoyed…) by my mom and I, who are chronic meal-modifiers (sauce on the side, tweaks like that).

A modified fish my mom ordered, grilled mahi mahi, sans sauce (it was on the side).

That’s great news for anyone like myself who loves to dine out frequently, but wants to do so in a health-conscious way. My mom and I also frequently ask for lighter sides like our baked potatoes and asparagus in place of heavier sides like mac n cheese or creamy risotto.

Sea scallops, a favorite of many of my friends and family.

But sometimes you have to go all-out and order a meal as-is, AKA as a chef designed it to be served and eaten, as my friend did above when he ordered the sea scallops!

Love/hate relationship with this huge wine list. So hard to choose!

So there you have it – now you know what my favorite restaurant is ūüôā If you live in CT, I recommend heading over to J. Gilbert’s (make sure you have a reservation if it’s a holiday or weekend) for dinner, or even popping in for their happy hour if you’re looking for a cheaper way to enjoy their gourmet food.

You can also like them on Facebook to get exclusive, random surprise Facebook deals – or join their mailing list! You’ll get a free entree on your birthday, as well as a $15 off coupon right off the bat for signing up.

What’s your FAVORITE restaurant? Just one, no cheating!

Are you a meal-modifier when dining out like myself?

Orlando – Day Six

Time to recap the last full day of last week’s Orlando vacation (last Friday).¬†I woke up and went to the hotel gym to do another treadmill 5K. This time I just kept the channel on Live with Kelly! the whole time. I love Kelly Ripa and have been a huge fan of Live since middle school. I remember the highlight of school breaks and summer morning was being able to watch! Of course, the version with Regis will always be my favorite.

I felt way more tired though and ran my 5K in a slower time than the day before. Still pretty good though – 29 minutes. I kept my 1% incline and Kelly and her guest host (I don’t even remember who it was) helped it go by at a pace that wasn’t too excruciatingly slow. Then I did about 30 minutes of upper body weights, one muscle group per song (chest, shoulders, bis, tris, and abs).

Took it easy by the pool the rest day of course, and wore one of my outlet purchases – a new bathing suit! I also brought a solo cup filled with cottage cheese and blueberries with me to the pool for a post-workout snack. I’m sure I got plenty of judgement because of my solo cup…little did people know I was NOT headed to the pool at 10AM with an alcoholic beverage in tow. Though I’m NOT opposed to that either.

After another fabulous poolside day, my parents and I got cleaned up and headed to happy hour! I love eating out on vacations but my parents wanted to stay in and grill since we had a kitchen in our room, so we made a deal Рhappy hour out, followed by seafood dinner in. Um, fine by me!

While waiting for my parents to get ready, I caught up on work and had a snack – two pieces of rye toast topped with turkey and salsa.

It wouldn’t be vacation without another¬†fam photoshoot.

Another my-mom-is-way-shorter-than-me pic.

I rocked another Black Friday purchase from Kohl’s (and with pleats just like the last one – told you I’m obsessed). The top is by Elle.

For our happy hour destination, I used Yelp to find Emeril’s Tchoup Chop¬†at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando. I wanted a place with deals that didn’t end too early (these ended at 8PM), where we could enjoy our last warm night in Florida (outdoor tiki bar!), and with unique drink options. Done, done, and done!

The tiki bar was empty so we took three seats front and center. I love sitting at the bar and chatting it up with the bartender and other patrons.

We lucked out with a fantastic bartender named Deanna. She was so kind and made amazing drinks!

I inquired about the cucumber vodka I saw behind the bar, and Deanna whipped up a Cucumber Cooler for me of cucumber vodka, cucumber liquer, and ginger beer. I LOVE ginger beer in drinks Рanother favorite is the Dark n Stormy, which has popped up a couple times on the blog.

No, that’s not water. Nor is that a Starbucks straw.

I removed the straw (tip: this slows you down when you’re drinking so that you can savor the beverage and also accurately assess how it is affecting you) and “dug in”. Wow, this drink was perfection. So smooth and perfect for an outdoor happy hour.

My mom got a house margarita and I tried a sip. Yum! Nice and strong, not too sour or sweet. She loved it.

There was a bar bites menu too, but I was waiting til dinner.

I asked Deanna about this Soho Lychee Liquer РI had never seen that before! She let me sample a small pour of the Lychee Martini it goes into. Very yummy, but the sample was enough for me because it was a bit sweet.

And thank goodness for Foursquare – I checked in and got a¬†free Mai Tai – which I shared with my parents, because I was feeling a bit buzzed and was also getting pretty hungry! This beverage was delicious, one of the best Mai Tais I’ve ever had (the one at Drink wins because it was on FIRE).

Gorgeous, no?

Thanks Deanna for being so awesome and making our experience at Tchoup Chop so great!¬†By the way readers, it’s pronounced “chop chop”.

By the time we got home I was¬†hangry. My dad got the grill fired up pretty quickly and prepared the salmon and shrimp burgers I’d gotten the day before at Whole Foods.

Salmon/shrimp burgers with yellow mustard and Russian dressing for dipping. Baked potato skin and innards with salsa.

I was SO hungry, but got full SO fast! I couldn’t even finish any of the innards of my baked potato (on the right). Bummer.

What a great last full day in Orlando – and I still had one more pool day left before we had to hop on our plane in the evening, but with no restaurant and no new workout (just another 5K and abs), I don’t plan to write a full recap of that day.

Do you have a favorite spot to go to in the warm months to have a drink outside?

Have you ever tried a seafood burger?

Did you or do you watch Live with Regis and Kelly (or just Kelly)?

Orlando – Day Two

I woke up on the Monday of our vacation feeling good, and I was so excited and grateful! To play it safe, I did my favorite yoga video on Hulu, YogaWorks Body Slim. I was sweating by the end and also felt relaxed and stretched-out. I headed to Starbucks and, continuing the play-it-safe plan, opted for an iced decaf Americano with the teeniest splash of skim to protect my still-sensitive stomach.

The pool wasn’t crowded at all and we scoped out some excellent seats. I sat back and enjoyed the warm weather with my magazines, and also had my beloved Chick-fil-A chargrilled chicken sandwich with extra pickles for lunch, with no stomach issues.

My Grannan and George (grandparents) arrived mid-afternoon too, and I was so excited to see them! We all remained poolside til late afternoon. 

I continued to feel better, no doubt thanks to how cautious I was being and all the water I was chugging. I‚Äôd found out that one of my former co-workers from UConn, Matt, was staying at a nearby Embassy Suites with his mom ‚Äď AND they have free happy hour every night! He invited me to be his guest, so I took my grandparents‚Äô car over to see him.

I had a couple nibbles of chips, and that classy plastic mostly-empty cup you see there was formerly filled with red sangria. It was extremely ‚Äď juicy. But what can I expect during a cheap happy hour?! I planned to have a more unique libation at dinner anyway! The best part was meeting up with Matt after not having seen him in so long, and also finally getting to meet his mom, who I heard plenty about while we worked together at UConn Dining Services.

I met my parents and grandparents at a restaurant with a Caitlin-approved food/drink menu ‚Äď and bonus points, our hotel gave us a coupon for it!

Interesting outdoor seating "booths", complete with space heaters.

The new-ish restaurant, Atlantic Cove, featured a menu of traditional meat and seafood plates, sushi, and unique Asian-fusion dishes. Our waitress, Alexa, was an absolute SWEETHEART. She seemed a bit new and nervous, but was so respectful and accommodating! I was very impressed.

Talk about a drink menu! My choice jumped out at me the second I saw it.

The Basil Martini, made with Belvedere Red, vermouth, and infused basil, was just what I was hoping for and more. It was so amazingly smooth, tasted like spiked pesto, and was certainly worth its money in terms of strength! I have to admit that I sloshed a bit of this beauty on myself at the end there.

Yay Dad!!

We were served some pretty tasty bread with olive oil and herbs, which I definitely prefer to butter.

I knew I wanted to get my fill of seafood on this trip, but I could NOT for the life of me decide on which fish I wanted, and whether or not I wanted it cedar-planked or blackened! I quickly took to Twitter to ask my go-to foodie followers for advice, and though I went with the votes for blackened, I opted for a fish I hadn’t had in a while, snapper.

My dad ordered seafood soup, one of his favorite things to get before our vacation dinners, a Lobster & Crab Bisque, and he loved it. The bowl was cool too!

He also ordered his fish blackened, but chose grouper. Unfortunately the kitchen goofed and served it grilled instead, but he didn’t say anything, because it was still excellent.

My meal was amazing too! I got asparagus on the side and devoured my pineapple mango salsa, as well as my dad’s. I also picked at my grandpa’s crabcakes and my mom’s baked potato skin.

I still had room for dessert once we got back to the hotel, so I savored a tiny treat I’d picked up the night before at TooJay’s, one of their famous mini black and white cookies. I didn’t have one during my December Florida trip, so it was a necessity!

I went to sleep content and grateful to be feeling better. Until the next day’s trip recap!

Which of the fish options on the menu would you have chosen? How about the preparation method?

Have you ever had a classic black and white cookie from a deli? The ones from Starbucks don’t count! ūüėČ

Max Fish Oysters & Willamette Wines

Around my area, Max Restaurant Group is king. Their eight independent restaurants are all extremely successful and known for some of the best-tasting food and highest-quality drinks in the state. MRG also puts on lots of foodie-and-wino-targeted events. Though I’ve only heard great things about what’s served, I also have noticed that most of the events have quite a price tag. So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when I saw an event on the calendar for January that was only $35/person – the “2012 Oysters and…” tasting of oysters from Max Fish, one of the MRG restaurants specializing in seafood, and white wines from Willamette Valley Vineyards, brought by the founder of the vineyard himself, Jim Bernau.

A chef completing rapid setup between tastings – there were three times, and we came for the second!

My dining partners at this event were my go-to foodie guys, Jeff and Evan. In fact, I have another tasting we attended not-so-recently that I hope to recap this week, but that’s neither here nor there.

Both still and sparkling water were offered – fancy!

I was beyond pleasantly surprised to see Jim himself there representing Willamette Valley Vineyards, because I had actually met him the day before at the Sun WineFest! In fact, his Willamette Pinot Noir (yum) was my very last sip of alcohol of the day, right before I headed to the main stage to cover the Oyster Open. The WineFest, by the way, occurred the day before this oyster and white wine tasting, so I considered it an extension of my WineFest culinary adventure!

Bucket for oyster shells!

Oyster expert Kim Kockza taught us a lot about what we were about to eat, and continued to educate us about oysters as we slurped them down. So much goes into oyster farming! Southern oysters of the US take about 12-18 months to grow, whereas are some oysters grown around the world that take up to seven years. Oysters are often grown in a controlled environment to the size of a quarter, and then released into bodies of water so that they can nom on plankton all day and get nice and beefy for OUR consumption. They eat, then we eat, the circle of life!

When Evan tried to squeeze lemon onto his first oyster, Kim certainly gave him a talking to. She wouldn’t allow it! We had no sauces either – this event was all about tasting the oyster in its purest form.

Oysters taste different depending on what species they are, where they are farmed, the farmers’ methods, and more. I’m extremely inexperienced with oysters – in fact, this was my first time having them raw like this – but I could still tell that a difference existed between certain species. Some had subtle flavor variations that I preferred to others. However, all of the oysters (no matter what kind) had the unfortunate habit of shedding little pieces of shell that kept getting caught on my tongue and in my teeth!

All of the oysters we sampled at Max Fish were from British Columbia. Three species were paired with three different white wines. Another slightly adventurous event for me, since I am a red lover at heart (hearts are red, ha!), and I have been trying to explore whites and give them a chance. I did not like any of these whites as much as a red, but pairing them with the oysters was certainly fun!

  • Gigamoto oysters with 2009 Pinot Gris: I enjoyed the wine portion of this pairing more than the oysters. They tasted very, well, raw. The taste was a bit more harsh and in-your-face seafood (if that makes any sense) than I would have preferred. The Pinot Gris and its clean taste did pair well with them and each sip was a satisfying cleanse to the palate. These oysters, though, were not really for me.
  • Miyagi oysters with 2010 Riesling: These oysters definitely tasted better thanks to their creamier texture. Kim showed us that the oyster’s white belly could tip us off before even tasting it that creaminess would come into play here. At first sip, the Riesling was way too sweet for me (they usually are). However as I continued to pair the miyagi oysters with the wine, I enjoyed the Riesling more and more.
  • Pacific rim oysters with 2009 Chardonnay: I was not the biggest fan of the Chardonnay paired with these oysters. I’m not sure if it was the oysters, or the wine (it’s hard for me to like a Chardonnay) but I definitely preferred the other two whites to this wine. These oysters were more similar to the gigamotos to me (less creamy than the miyagis).

Jim is a great guy, so down-to-earth, and he gave us lots of good wine education while we slurped and sipped! Willamette Valley is in Oregan, and Jim has owned the land for 29 years. His key wine making principle is stewardship of the land, so anyone buying Willamette Valley wines can be confident that the beauty of the valley is preserved and the land is well cared for before, during, and after harvest.

Jim’s passion for his wines really shines through.

Our last portion of the tasting involved some oysters that had been “tinkered” with – in the best way! Instead of served raw, these were served with some tasty garnishes.

On the left are two oysters topped with a chard gilee and chives. On the right are two oysters topped with an apple-bacon relish! I liked those the most out of the two (kinda obvious, it’s bacon), but the chard gilee oysters were great as well, and both went well with some leftover Chardonnay I still had. In fact, I liked the Chardonnay a little more after I paired it with these beauties! I have to say, raw oysters are not exactly for me r. I don’t think I’d ever order them out, but when it comes to garnished or stuffed oysters, I’m game!

Evan and I took turns snapping photos of each other eating the oysters. I went with the shot-glass-method:

I think Jeff is judging me.

Evan went with the slurping method, and I hate to say it, but I think he wins this round. He looks fancy! Or like he’s making out with the oyster.

Before we left, the three of us had to get a photo with the lobster tank. Too bad we failed and stood directly in front of it.

Classy foodies forever!

After leaving, we proceeded to J. Gilbert’s to take advantage of a free appetizer FourSquare deal and oh yeah, split a bottle of wine. Then back to Max Fish for late night happy hour bites. Yes, it was a bit of a spontaneous Monday out, but we kept it both cheap and sophisticated.

Our free J. Gilbert’s Maytag bleu cheese chips, and red wine (not free)!

J. Gilbert’s bartender talked us into a bottle…

My Max Fish happy hour cheese plate (wine = cheese plate cravings, always).

Max Fish happy hour Thai Shrimp Toast. Jeff continues his hand modeling career.

Thanks to Max Fish for hosting a cool event and to Jim for sharing his wines with us!

How much experience do you have with oysters? What about white wines?

Last Friday Night

So excited – my FitFluential Ambassador profile page is up on FitFluential.com! Check it out! ūüėÄ

OK, so this post is about a Friday night that occurred before what was actually last Friday night, but I could not resist the chance to use the title of the Katy Perry song (which I adored until it hit the radio) since I am writing a post here that is completely about, well, a Friday night. A Friday night that happened several weeks ago, but still.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlyXNRrsk4A&ob=av3e]

I decided after a brief happy hour at a bowling alley with co-workers, in which I had a plastic cup of the grossest Cabernet I’ve ever tasted, to continue my fun evening and skip the gym. I am not one to skip the gym on a day that I have time to go. I know this isn’t typical, but I am still patting myself on the back for making that choice. Too often I feel the need to stick to my workout schedule and never cut myself a break. I completely don’t regret my decision and had a great night – livin’ life!

Avalon Cabernet at J. Gilbert's

No gym meant that for once, I was free to hit up happy hour¬†at my favorite place in CT, J. Gilbert’s, for a glass of wine and some apps. I ended up running into my friends’ mom (who I also consider a friend!) and she was kind enough to buy my wine and let me in on her¬†¬†Smoked Chicken Quesadilla¬†(pineapple mango salsa, pico de gallo,¬†cilantro lime & roasted red pepper, and¬†sour creams), my favorite app on the happy hour menu. Now this Cabernet was WAY better than any bowling alley Cab – but at the same price, which made it even better.

Cupcake Vineyards Red Velvet and a Manhattan.

My next stop was Rooftop 120, by far the classiest place in town (and maybe even the county or state – I haven’t seen it topped yet) to use my Living Social deal. OK, so maybe that part wasn’t as classy, but I made up for that by sticking to the red wine. My third glass of the evening!

Certainly an ample-sized wine glass. Took this photo to show that it’s almost as big as ¬†my head!

My dining partner, Matt, ordered a Rooftop Manhattan. I had a sip, and they definitely were heavy-handed with the alcohol!

The wine really had me craving some bread and cheese, so that’s what we ordered – the Artisanal Cheese Platter complete with crusty bread, truffle honey, raspberries, and local cheeses! Well, the brie was from France, but the Blackledge Bleu (Colchester), Smoked Mozz (New Haven), and Herb Chevre (Lebanon) were all local – awesome!

This was so, so wonderful, but could’ve used more bread. Luckily I’m not shy at restaurants – we asked for more, and got a huge bowl brushed with olive oil in return, hot out of the oven! Not a single scrap of food was left standing. Everything was simply amazing, especially the truffle honey. I loved combining it with the different types of cheeses. It was SO interesting with the mozz because the smoked flavor was very strong in the cheese.

We needed to spend $40 to get full use out of the Living Social deal, meaning it was time for dessert – Mini Indulgences, to be specific! From left to right: chocolate mouse, espresso & Bailey’s mousse, PB mousse, and maple mousse. I honestly can’t pick a favorite. OK, maybe I can – the espresso & Bailey’s. My coffee love just struck me at this moment and inspired me to pick a favorite. But seriously, this was scrumptious.

What a fun Friday! No gym, wine, cheese, and dessert – these are things I don’t often do, and I’m proud of myself for letting some indulgences in and enjoying.

What are your feelings about indulging? Do you feel proud when you break away from your norm, or guilty? Or maybe some combination?

Rooftop 120

Hey guys! Hope your day is going well so far. I have to say that I’ve been MIA (or less active than usual) in commenting and tweeting, which bums me out. However I am in the home stretch of my first semester as a part-time MBA student, which means a huge group project with a presentation, a ten-page paper, and a final! I’m just thankful that one of my professors cancelled our final, so I only have one, for my other class. But I really can’t wait for a few weeks off between this semester and the next so that I can spend more free time blogging and less on homework! At least I can’t complain about spending time doing things with family and friends – I always make time for that ūüôā keeps me sane!

Or not sane…?

In fact, I had a pretty wonderful weekend. I started and ended Friday in a funk, so I didn’t have the highest hopes for the last couple of days. But Saturday I got a ton of homework and Christmas shopping done and had a delicious meal at Chili’s for dinner. Yesterday I PR’ed in a road race. I also explored a part of my town I’ve never seen before, which involved an art show with wine, crackers, and cheese, giving another local cafe a chance to inspire my homework/blogging-sessions, and a hike where I discovered a hidden treasure.

You’ll have to wait a bit longer to hear more about each of those things!

I also wanted to direct you guys to Sarah’s blog¬†Sarah Snacks to check out the loot she received from her November Foodie Pen Pal – aka ME! I sent her the ingredients for a chocolate coma, plus a little mint thrown in. I’m bummed that I’m not doing Foodie Pen Pals this month (too many blogger cookie things going on instead!) but will be back for more in January.

The main purpose of today’s post is to share a fun Tuesday night outing¬†I had last week with a fellow foodie and the namer of this blog, Rachel, at Glastonbury’s newest bar Rooftop 120. It’s the largest four-season rooftop in all of New England and is absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been several times before and their drinks are fabulous and unique. I’m usually a wine girl, but at Rooftop I’ve gotta go with hard liquor-based beverages. In the summer, when glass doors are not enclosing the bar area, it feels like Vegas, my favorite place in the world.

Image courtesy of rooftop120.com

How cool is that wall? At night all those bottles are illuminated! Courtesty of rooftop120.com

My favorite area to sit when it's warm. Image courtesy of rooftop120.com

I arrived in the mood for red wine, and Rachel planned to order the Cucumber Martini that I had during my first Rooftop 120 visit over the summer. We were informed by our server, however, that the cucumber-infused tequila the martini was made with was a seasonal item, so the drink was off the menu. Rachel was bummed and I was about to order my wine when the bartender came over and started mixing us up his own cucumber martini creation!

He used organic Pearl cucumber vodka and a little Prosecco!

I took one sip of this drink and my desire for a glass of red went out the window. So much for Wine Tuesday – how about Martini Tuesday?

That cucumber at the very end was like a cherry on top of a sundae!

So then I started telling Rachel about the apple, peach, and cinnamon-infused whiskey I tried during my last visit to Rooftop…

…and the bartender must have overheard us again, because he brought over complimentary shots! Bottoms up!

I ended up with a headache the next morning thanks to my martini and shot, but the deliciousness wasn’t stopping there. Rachel got the Provence Flatbread: Spiced Belltown orchards apples, caramelized onions, truffle honey, pancetta, and brie.¬†I forgot to take a picture of before she started enjoying it, but I did remember to finish off the last slice. We both agreed it was a little too sweet, but still pretty good. The winner was my flatbread selection, the Tombstone Flatbread: grilled chicken, pepperjack, roasted red peppers, and chipotle onion. The server had it made for us less spicy than usual, which was a good thing because Rachel thought it was spicy as is, but it was perfect for me!

At first I had no appetite after  my drinks, but by the time this flatbread came I was ready to chow down.

Rachel and I had a great night at Rooftop 120 – it was her first visit, and she was back two days later to pre-celebrate her birthday! And in case you’re wondering why she’s MIA in the photos, that was her doing, not mine. And in case you’re wondering why these are iPhone photos and not taken with my new cam – well, the cam was MIA, and that WAS my doing.

About to finish off my vodka-infused cucumber slice!

Thanks to Rooftop 120 for fabulous drinks, crispy and flavorful flatbread, and great deals in the form of free shots and free app coupons for our flatbreads!

What’s the coolest bar you’ve ever been to? Are there any “stylish” places in your area?

J. Gilbert’s: The New Menu

Thanks for sharing your Birchbox finds on yesterday’s post! Please feel free to keep sharing each month – I love comparing box contents!

I cannot BELIEVE it is Thanksgiving tomorrow! I am so very excited, but not really because of the food. Thanksgiving dinner is tasty, but never really consists of any of my very favorite dishes. I’m more so excited to spend time with my immediate family, as well as close friends that I haven’t seen in awhile. I’m also not travelling (well, I do have to drive 5 minutes…) which I’m pretty ecstatic about. My dad, sister, and I will also be getting our run on in the morning at CT’s biggest race¬†(15,000 registered runners this year, and plenty more don’t register), the Manchester Road Race, a 4.5 mile run that ALSO takes place only 5 minutes from my house! It’s one of those courses filled with runners in crazy costumes and bands playing along the side of the road. Even back when I never exercised, I did this race each year!

To get you hyped for the feasts coming your way tomorrow, I want to do a post on a delicious meal I had recently.¬†J. Gilbert’s Wood-fired Steaks & Seafood¬†just might be my favorite restaurant (I do know it’s the home of my favorite dessert, a chocolate velvet cake with banana liquer, as well as my favorite happy hour, which I have often mentioned). They also will be open on Thanksgiving¬†and their special prix fixe menu for that evening (the regular menu will also be available) consists of both traditional and non-traditional foods!

The famous dessert!

Our family has celebrated many a special occasion there.

Enjoying Avalon Cabernet, one of my favorite wines, with my mom at a birthday dinner. Nice one, Mom!

I used to get the same thing every single time: a 60z filet with asparagus and a baked potato. J. Gilbert’s has the best baked potatoes I’ve ever had because the skins come rubbed with plenty of sea salt. Their steaks are always cooked to perfection.

Awkwardly posing (as usual) my typical meal.

I have “revealed” the wonder of J. Gilbert’s to a lot of my friends, including several couples who have held dates there after I suggested it. That includes Jeff and Kim, some of my regular dining partners! I even have an “in” since I know the head hostess and her younger sister, who buses and is also a hostess. Yes, I’m a little smug right now. Sorry I’m not sorry!

Jeff hangin' with the same meal, but he opted for lobster mac n'cheese for his starch.

However, since I started expanding my food horizons, I have taken to trying to order something different each time! I’m now at a foodie stage in which I love trying new things, so I was so happy to learn that J. Gilbert’s updated their menu last Wednesday – and that just so happened to be a day that Jeff, Kim, and another foodie friend, Evan, had a trip planned to use a coupon!

The new menu in all its glory! Sorry for the glare!

It took awhile for me to decide what to get. I knew I had to get a new item, but I also couldn’t deny the craving I was having for my usual filet/asparagus/baked potato. Easy solution: go with a surf n’ turf combo!

My "surf" combo choices.

I’ve had the shrimp before, but it was of the BBQ variety. Now the shrimp on the menu is bourbon maple, which definitely called to me with a fall-feeling. Done and done!

Bad weather led to backed-up reservations and some slow service from the kitchen, but our server Sergio was extremely polite and apologetic, and we had some sourdough bread to hold us over. I opted out this time though, because I wasn’t that hungry yet.

Jeff and Evan also decided to start with an older menu item, but one that was new to them, the Chicken Tortilla Soup. What a fun presentation!

Yes, that is a bowl of broth-less soup fillings.

The food runner set each bowl down, and THEN poured the broth over its contents. Genius!

Sorry for the blur! Trying to quickly catch it.

¬†Evan doesn’t like guac (I know, what?) so he wasn’t a fan of that part of the soup, but other than that both boys seemed to really enjoy it. I’m sure adding the broth last-minute means the ingredients are less soggy and taste more fresh!

When the main portions of food finally made it out, I was ready to chow down.

I also ordered a side of mango salsa for my steak and a side of pico de gallo for my potato skin – free of charge!

How awesome does that baked potato skin look? I always save that for last. I asked for the filet medium rare, and it came back medium, which is rare for J. Gilb (as I so affectionately call it). ¬†However, I usually have filet medium, and went for medium rare today on a whim, so I still loved it as much as usual. But when I do get to have it medium rare, I think I’ll enjoy it more!

The maple bourbon shrimp was just as I’d imagine it’d be. The maple flavor was so pronounced and enhanced the shrimp SO much. 10/10!

Seared Georges Bank Sea Scallops

Jeff went for the scallops with lobster risotto and champagne beurre blanc. He and I have had scallops from J. Gilbert’s before and were blown away, and he said nothing changed this time. Still blown away, still awesome. This was an old menu item, but it never gets old.

Mesquite Plank Salmon

Kim ordered the salmon with yukon smashed potatoes and green beans with pecans (new side items). The older menu had salmon on it of course, but like the shrimp, it was a BBQ flavor. This salmon came on an actual plank of wood! She finished it all up and said the smashed potatoes were just as good as her usual go-to side, the cheddar mashed potatoes.

Mishima Ranch Wagyu Burger

Last but not least, Evan ordered the wagyu (another word for kobe beef) burger with sweet potato fries. This selection is completely new to the menu and looked quite delicious, but Evan said the pretzel bun was too much for the beef and too overpowering. He’s also not the biggest sweet potato fry fan (I KNOW, first no guac, now no sweet potatoes, who is this guy?!) but Kim, Jeff, and I polished them off for him no problem.

After reading this post, or just looking at its photos, I’m sure you’re more than ready for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night (if you celebrate). Or just any dinner! If any CT residents out there try J. Gilbert’s, please let me know what you think – and I highly recommend a reservation!

Which dish in this post would you most want to order?

Josie’s West and a Relaxing Sunday

Hey guys! I’m a bit late asking this but…how was your weekend?! In case you missed it, Sunday I recapped the Cafes do Brasil brunch I attended in NYC on Saturday in honor of Brazilian Coffee Week in NYC. Highly recommend that you check out the recap if you’re interested in coffee and/or brunch!

Ready to head into the city.

I had such an amazing day in the city the rest of Saturday. After the brunch, I met up with an old friend from high school to seeJ. Edgar, which I HIGHLY recommend. It was a bit long but if you go in prepared for that, I think you’ll really enjoy it. Everyone’s performances were wonderful (except Naomi Watts, who I felt was just kind of there, but she was still OK).

I drove in by myself and spent some time alone shopping as well at Urban Outfitters. 50% off all sale prices – how could I resist?!

Please ignore the feet of my stuffed bear in the upper right.

Everything was just $10 each!

My grandmother often makes trips by herself, and now I see why. I loved being on my own schedule, taking things at my own pace, and being able to listen to my audio book on the drive there/back. It would take a lot of bravery for me to take on an international cruise alone, like she often has for up to a week, but solo day trips definitely have new appeal to me for their lack of stress involved.

After seeing the movie, I had the opportunity to meet up with two bloggers I have been following for awhile, Katy and Danielle, at Josie’s¬†for dinner. The place came recommended to me by Kathleen of the Elvis Duran Show, and Katy and Danielle confirmed for me when we were originally making these plans that the place was worth visiting. And they were certainly right – I LOVED Josie’s and already want to go back!

I arrived and was totally starving. I polished off the above cornbread and focaccia bread, which was accompanied by a hummus that was either pumpkin or squash flavored – I never did completely figure it out. But as soon as I saw that there was hummus paired with the bread, I knew this was my kind of place.

Boo flash.

It was a tough decision, and one of those times when I wished I had about 10 stomachs, but I decided on the Grilled Scottish Salmon¬†with mango-roasted pepper salsa, pinto beans, and grilled asparagus. It was fabulous!! I finished every last bite, and Katy’s veggie meatloaf and Danielle’s butternut squash ravioli were amazing as well (we sampled each other’s dishes).

Me, Danielle, and Katy.

What a great time! I so enjoyed meeting the girls who write these blogs that I have been reading for so long, since way before I started blogging. Thank you ladies for a tasty meal with great conversation!

Though I had a great time on Saturday, it was nice to spend my Sunday around town and have a relaxing Sunday. I went to spin very early and wore my new Old Navy workout top, which served me well (and even has a little zipper pocket built in Рnice!) in a sweaty class. Also got HW done at Daybreak (accompanied by coconut coffee of course) and did some chores at home.

Sunday's lunch, eaten while doing some reading.

I ended my weekend with a trip to happy hour at J. Gilbert’s with a couple of friends I’ve known since high school. We were there for over two hours and had a great time! OK, I had a little too good of a time after drinking two glasses of Avalon Cab…on an empty stomach. Mistake!

Back to the grind this week…but I had a great dinner out last night and got to attend my favorite Step class, so I’d say it’s starting out well!

Have you ever gotten the chance to meet a blog friend in person? Have you ever taken a solo trip?