The food in Turkey was ridiculously good. And oh so fresh!
There were markets with beautiful fruit. I had sooo many cherries at breakfast every morning. Given that we were near the water, there was also wonderful local seafood and we enjoyed seabass 4-5 times during the trip.
The Turks start their meals with mezes, small dishes or snacks that are usually served cold. I was obsessed! The only problem was that we would often order a couple and eat them with lots of bread, and then be too full for our entrees:)
Another dish I was in love with was warm hummus served with hot pastrami. I could eat this for days.
For snacks, we would sometimes stop by one of the many juice stands for freshly squeezed juice,
or duck into a spice store for giant medjool dates.
And the bakeries, oh the bakeries, were delightful, and on every corner. Matt and I made it our goal to try all the varieties of baklava and would search for the best-looking bakery after dinner each night.
Waffles stuffed with toppings were also a thing over there. Although it doesn’t look as delicious as it tasted, this soft waffle was filled with dark chocolate, caramel, bananas, strawberries, and sprinkles; it was to-die-for.
I drank lots of Turkish wine. Although most food in Turkey was less expensive than in the US, the alcohol was pricey. I stuck to local Turkish wine and beer, because cocktails were $15-$20! The Turkish reds weren’t too flavorful (although we had one or two good ones), but the roses and the whites were great. I’m not usually a rose girl, but I got into them on this trip. Side note: the bar below is called Mikla and had the most incredible views of the city. You MUST go for a drink if you are ever in Istanbul!
The local beer, Efes, came in a dark variety that both Matt and I loved.
We had many wonderful meals, and I obviously didn’t document all of them, but here are a few highlights:
Meze by Lemon Tree (above). I choose this for our last night of the trip (we were back in Istanbul) because the menu is mostly modern mezes. We ordered 6 cold ones and 3 hot ones and every dish was incredible. It was phenomenal.
Another great restaurant was Banyan in Ortakoy. Although this restaurant was Asian fusion and not Turkish, it had the most beautiful view of the water and I had to share the caramelized sea bass and quinoa shredded salad picture because it was probably the best salad I’ve ever had!
Lastly, we had a really nice meal on our first night at a modern Turkish restaurant called Lokanta Maya
Above are shredded wheat balls stuffed with feta and honey and below, fried zucchini.
We also had fresh clams and more seabass!
I think the Turkish food was my favorite part of the trip! After avoiding dairy for most of this year, the feta and yogurt tasted extra heavenly. Aside from being uncomfortably full some nights, I didn’t have any issues with bloating. I was religious about taking my probiotics while traveling, and I think they are making all the difference (either that or I’m just not stressed about finding a job anymore:) Anyway, I’m just so thankful that I was able to enjoy all the Turkish food and still feel pretty good!
I’ll share some pictures from Bodrum and Matt’s 30th next!Read More
[lunch at Woodshed]
[an afternoon at the Kimbell Museum]
[strolling around Sundance Square]
[dinner at Reata]Read More
Happiest of Mondays to you guys!
We did a whole lotta nothing on Friday and Sunday so that we could go all out on Saturday! For the first time in a while, we didn’t even put any effort in Friday dinner – we just had leftovers and went to bed.
Saturday, we drove out to the burbs to celebrate the adorable Rosco – he turned one! Time is flying – I can’t imagine how fast it moves when you’re a parent!
I was so excited to see the wine list because they had many bottles for $25-$32!! I love this restaurant just for that! We splurged for this bottle of malbec and it was wonderful!
We skipped the entree and just ordered a few small plates. Less is more these days.
This is the pork belly tacu tacu (lentil cake) with fig compote. It was absolutely perfect and the pork just melted in my mouth.
Next, the lobster sweet corn tamale with fried avocado – also fabulous.
The duck tacos were probably my favorite and they came with two salsas, cilantro, and a little tower of limes for seasoning!
Last of the small plates was the crab arepa.
The waiter talked us into desserts too, which were incredible: the sweet banana tamale (holy moly, so good),
the sweet potato donuts!!!
I was already completely in love with San Salvaje and then Chef Pyles stopped by our table to chat!! He’s been traveling to South America for years and created the restaurant based on his experiences. We’re hoping to plan a trip down there in the near future and got his recommendations for cities. He was so sweet and even went into the back to look up some names of restaurants in his notes and came back to share them with us later. He was down-to-earth and friendly, and now I’m an even bigger fan:)
Have a good week.Read More
My weekend was full of a bit of everything – friends, exercise, walking in the sunshine, beers, lovely food, and a movie. I love it when we can fit in a variety of relaxing activities!
We stayed in Friday night and enjoyed a bottle of Chianti gifted to us by friends. I picked up this awesome piece of pork at Central Market – it was tenderloin stuffed with spinach, red peppers, and spicy sausage. I served it with mashed potatoes and mushrooms cooked in red wine! We had perfect patio weather.
Saturday I was up early and did a new class at Equinox – Major Black Dress Workout was so.hard! I loved it, but I’m sooo sore.
I showered at the gym to save time, so that we could meet friends at Lakewood Brewing Company for their weekly open house! We packed sandwiches and enjoyed conversation, live music, and four tastes of awesome Lakewood beers. It was such a fun Saturday!
For dinner, we headed down to the Oak Cliff neighborhood and tried a restaurant off the beaten path – Mesa is focused on coastal cuisine from Veracruz, Mexico.
I had a spicy marg with dinner, obviously.
We had some chips and guac and tried their famous mole sauce as an app. And then we split a seafood dish with clams, mussels, octopus, scallops, and shrimp all cooked with jalapenos, Dos XX and white wine. This was fabulous!
We also shared the lobster enchiladas served with a blue crab and mango avocado.
Mesa was fantastic, and the dishes were really unique – def. not your typical Tex-Mex.
Since we were in the neighborhood, I couldn’t resist trying the famous Emporium Pies! We ordered a bourbon pecan and an apple strudel to go, and enjoyed them on the couch with Don Draper.
Sunday, we strolled to the coffee shop to get some work done and then caught an afternoon showing of The Budapest Hotel, which I highly recommend as a quirky and entertaining movie.
I’m off to work for the rest of the day – have a great Monday.Read More
This weekend, Matt and I traveled to Hill Country to use our free stay as part of the Marriott Rewards Ambassador Program (review of the program coming in the next month).
We fell in love with the quiet Hill Country on our first visit, and decided we wanted to go back! The JW Marriott seemed like a perfect destination for a weekend away.
We drove down on Friday evening. I sang country songs at the top of my lungs while Matt navigated the winding roads – I really wish I could play the fiddle…or the banjo.
We arrived at Duchmann Family Winery just in time for a tasting and a picnic before the winery closed. I enjoyed all the wines we tasted, but liked the Vermentino white the best.
We ordered a glass to split with our picnic. Wrapped in a million sweaters, we enjoyed dinner with strings of white lights and Italian music to set the scene.
Dinner was a giant Italian sandwich and a snickerdoodle from Etzi’s.
Etzi’s has the best bone bread and super strong mustard. Loved this!
We got to the resort pretty late, and went to bed after sitting by the fire pit for a bit. I snapped some pictures of the resort and our room in the morning. It was massive and beautiful!
We were upgraded to a resort suite – one of the many perks of the Marriott Rewards Program!
There was a giant balcony with a view, but it was too cold and rainy to use it:( Overall, I’d definitely recommend the resort and the restaurant below (although I’m not sure I’d pay out of pocket to visit). It was also extremely family friendly with lots of activities for kids. There were pools and water slides for warmer temperatures too.
We had high hopes of taking a hike and checking out the resort’s lazy river on Saturday, but the weather had other plans for us.
We made the best of it though, and drove to a neighboring town for lunch: a salmon burger with lime aioli and some of the best sweet potato wedges in history.
And then another winery visit! Dry Comal Creek is small and quirky and produced a lot of sweet wines – they weren’t extraordinary, but we bought a bottle because the service was great and we enjoyed chatting with the staff.
The main event on a rainy night at a secluded resort is obviously dinner! There are two main restaurants at the JW Marriott, but we went with the more causal Cibolo Moon over the fancy steak house. We had a fantastic server – Jose – and a wonderful experience. Hotel restaurants can be hit or miss – but this one was a clear hit.
We each had a spicy margarita – mine was made with pineapple infused tequila and Matt’s with raspberry-haberno infused tequila! We also received complimentary biscuits with a delicious strawberry-jalapeno jam.
Matt and I shared three small plates and one entree and it was wayyy too much food!
First, we had the fried oysters with tomato jam and bacon vinaigrette. I loved how this dish was prepared and the oysters were huge.
Second, we had a salad topped with crab, lime chips, and avocado. This dish tasted a little bland, but was refreshing in contrast with the heavier items.
Third, and the star of the show, was the smoked brisket ‘burnt ends.’ Both Matt and Jose had to talk me into this one because I just didn’t know what to expect. I’m sooo glad we got it. The brisket was sticky-sweet with crispy, charred edges.
And lastly, the bison meatloaf with tangy bbq sauce and mashed potatoes. When this arrived, I really didn’t know if I could eat any more, but after one bite, I made room:) Needless to say, dinner was excellent, and I was thankful we didn’t have to travel far to get home afterwards.
Sadly, Sunday’s weather was worse than Saturday’s, so we had to cancel plans to check out a famous bbq restaurant on the way home because it had open-air seating. I was kinda glad since I had my fill of meat the night before. Plan B: find healthy, hippy cafe in Austin!
I didn’t have to search very long on the internet to fine one because Austin is filled with them! We decided on a raw, vegan place called Beets Cafe. Despite planning to eat light, I absolutely couldn’t resist trying a raw cinnamon roll made with brazil nut meal, raisins, apples, and cashew cream sweetened with dates. Wow!!
I ordered the burger made with carrot, beets, sprouted sunflower seeds, celery, parsley, flax, olive oil, crystal salt, and spices, and Matt had a mock Rueben that was so full of flavor you’d think it was the real thing. Oh, and a vegan doughnut from Red Rabbit Bakery for the drive home.
I promise we had plans to do more than just eat in Hill Country before the weather turned sour!! It was a wonderful and relaxing weekend nonetheless, and I feel
stuffed energized for the week ahead!
Happy Monday friends.Read More
This weekend was such a good one, filled with food and other festivities! Friday, Matt and I tried a new neighborhood eatery called The Blind Butcher. The atmosphere (upscale pub/speakeasy), service, and food were fantastic. And we were quite pleased when the bill came to $40!
A mint julep and the soon-to-be famous pretzel bread with mustard to start:
We ordered the pastrami egg roll appetizer, which was my favorite item of the night. It was crispy on the outside with salty pastrami and sour sauerkraut inside. Meat.is.so.good.
There were a bunch of different sausages to choose from, but we went with the special since it sounded, well, special. Beef sausage over mashed potatoes with an apple bourbon sauce! All the meats are made in house btw. Sorry it looks kinda gross:)
And bacon brussels on the side.
The menu was full of other items that sounded amazing – can’t wait to go back!
Saturday, we met friends for brunch at The Company Cafe. Despite the chilly morning air, we sat outside in the sunshine and it felt glorious. I had a local ginger kombucha and a to-die-for bacon and egg biscuit. I think I’m going to dream about this sandwich.
Matt and I always talk about going to concerts and other performances, but we rarely get our acts together and, as you know, always just end up eating:) So I was excited when my friend Liz discovered a fun indie pop concert in Deep Ellum and organized a group! We rarely go out in Deep Ellum, but it’s such neat area with lots of live music and hole in the wall restaurants.
We stopped in the famous Angry Dog for beer and bar food before the concert – fried mushrooms and the Angry chili dog!
The songs were catchy and their dancing was quite entertaining. We had a blast.
Sunday was also wonderful – we walked to the coffee shop for chai lattes, [attempted] to play tennis, and made fish tacos for dinner. Oh spring weekends, you’re the best.Read More