Taking Back My Twenties

Restaurant Experiences

Weekend Dates & A Run-By Fruiting

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 | 4 comments

We had a fabulous weekend at home. After so much travel this summer, low-key weekends are the best. We are traveling two more times this month and then have nothing until Thanksgiving – I’m so excited to take it easy and get back into the swing of working! I stocked up on ingredients to make homemade Lara bars and banana bread with coconut flour muffins for afternoon snacks and bought a brand new planner for the school year (I get so excited for this purchase every time!!!). I’ve got loads of laundry to do, a dentist appointment, and a mani-pedi scheduled (!), and then I’ll be ready to roll.

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Friday night, Matt and I tried the new Hopdoddy Burger bar thanks to some friends who gave us a gift card! We loved everything about it – the space, the service, the beer selection, and the burger, fries, and salad. I’m glad this place has come to our neighborhood.

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Saturday night, we went on a fun date night to the new Stock and Barrel in the Bishop Arts section of Dallas. The cocktail menu looked great, so we went a little early and had drinks at the bar. I had a bourbon and blackberry drink that was different than my usual bourbon + something sweet + bitters.

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The menu has lots of things to be shared! Now that menus are changing from formal entrees to small and large plates, I can’t hardly stand to just order one thing anymore! I love tasting and sharing lots of different items, especially because Matt and I almost always want the same foods! We started with the lump crab fritters and the mussels. I really loved the mushrooms and chorizo in the mussel broth.

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Our big plate was the meatloaf with smoked bacon over white cheddar grits. It was absolutely amazing and the best meatloaf I’ve ever had (I actually haven’t had that many:))

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And, the caramelized brussels with sweet chili.

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It was a wonderful dinner and a perfect date night because we got a booth. Now I’m ready to get this week started!

I just saw the tragic news about Robin Williams and couldn’t hit publish without paying tribute to a true legend.

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Turkish Delights

Posted on Jul 9, 2014 | 5 comments

The food in Turkey was ridiculously good. And oh so fresh!

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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.

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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:)

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Another dish I was in love with was warm hummus served with hot pastrami. I could eat this for days.

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For snacks, we would sometimes stop by one of the many juice stands for freshly squeezed juice,

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or duck into a spice store for giant medjool dates.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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The local beer, Efes, came in a dark variety that both Matt and I loved.

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We had many wonderful meals, and I obviously didn’t document all of them, but here are a few highlights:

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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.

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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!

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Lastly, we had a really nice meal on our first night at a modern Turkish restaurant called Lokanta Maya

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Above are shredded wheat balls stuffed with feta and honey and below, fried zucchini.

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We also had fresh clams and more seabass!

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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!

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Scenes from Fort Worth

Posted on May 27, 2014 | 6 comments

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[lunch at Woodshed]

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[an afternoon at the Kimbell Museum]

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[strolling around Sundance Square]

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[dinner at Reata]

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BBQ Birthday and San Salvaje

Posted on May 19, 2014 | 1 comment

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.

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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!

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You’re telling me this whole cupcake is just for me?
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We enjoyed a lovely bbq buffet, adult beverages, and Texas breezes out on the patio. It was great to catch up with a bunch of friends who all moved to Dallas after Duke!
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We got home just in time to change clothes and walk downtown to try San Salvaje – the new Stephen Pyles restaurant!. I was pumped to try it because it’s South American fusion and reasonable priced for downtown Dallas. I somehow snagged a reservation before it had even opened last week. We arrived a little early and tried a flight of pisco from Chile and Peru at the bar. All three were slightly sweet, but sooo strong! We made it through half of each glass and then I added a few drops of agave and some lime to turn these into mini pisco sours. I guess I’m a wimp:)

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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!

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We skipped the entree and just ordered a few small plates. Less is more these days.

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This is the pork belly tacu tacu (lentil cake) with fig compote. It was absolutely perfect and the pork just melted in my mouth.

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Next, the lobster sweet corn tamale with fried avocado – also fabulous.

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The duck tacos were probably my favorite and they came with two salsas, cilantro, and a little tower of limes for seasoning!

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Last of the small plates was the crab arepa.

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The waiter talked us into desserts too, which were incredible: the sweet banana tamale (holy moly, so good),

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the sweet potato donuts!!!

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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.

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A Bit of Everything

Posted on May 12, 2014 | 5 comments

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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I had a spicy marg with dinner, obviously.

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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!

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We also shared the lobster enchiladas served with a blue crab and mango avocado.

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Mesa was fantastic, and the dishes were really unique – def. not your typical Tex-Mex.

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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.

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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.

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A Rainy Hill Country Weekend

Posted on Apr 7, 2014 | 4 comments

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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dinner was a giant Italian sandwich and a snickerdoodle from Etzi’s.

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Etzi’s has the best bone bread and super strong mustard. Loved this!

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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!

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We were upgraded to a resort suite – one of the many perks of the Marriott Rewards Program!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Matt and I shared three small plates and one entree and it was wayyy too much food!

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First, we had the fried oysters with tomato jam and bacon vinaigrette. I loved how this dish was prepared and the oysters were huge.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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