Vacation Days: Charleston, South Carolina

Friday, February 17, 2017
"I thought Charlotte was in North Carolina...?"

Charleston, South Carolina

"It is, Mom. We are going to Charleston."

^ This conversation took place right before getting on the plane to Charleston for my bachelorette party!

( other news, my mother has officially disowned me.)

Oh yeah, and Happy New Year everyone, since I haven't posted since 2016! I'll be all married and stuff in, oh, A MONTH, and blog life will be back to business as usual after that.

(Well sort of, since Jon and I decided that now would also be a good time to build a house. You know, since life is so calm for us at the moment.)

Last month, some of my favorite people in the whole world got together for a super fun trip to Charleston to celebrate my final crazy (they're not crazy.) days as a single woman! I caught an early flight out of Houston with my mom, my friends Lindsey and Danielle, and Jon's mom, Rosemary.

Flight from Houston to Charleston, South Carolina
Snapchat: newishcityhou
Flight from Houston to Charleston, South Carolina

My amazing sister and woman of honor Emily booked us rooms at the Hyatt House, a hotel that's located in historic Charleston on the main strip, King Street. And fun fact, they save a buck by swapping out wall decals for actual furniture!

Hyatt Place in Charleston, South Carolina

Just kidding, that was only in the hallways. But that's my friend Heather proving that, despite what the world may tell you, you too can actually sit on large sticker benches!

When we walked into our room we were greeted with the world's MOST AMAZING CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, roses, and a bottle of bubbly from my brideswoman Alice Ann and my sweet friend Sherz!

Cookies and champagne in Charleston, South Carolina

(We missed having them there with us, but this certainly eased our sadness).

Those of us who had arrived (my flight crew, plus Em and Heather) walked to lunch at a teeny, adorable restaurant called Five Loaves Cafe. I enjoyed their mediterranean garden burger and a chardonnay.

Five Loaves - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina
veggie burger at Five Loaves - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

Then the rest of the gang arrived: my fabulous friend Christy, my brideswoman Courtney, and my bridesman L.J.! We set off walking down King Street (seriously, we were in such a central awesome location) and grabbed drinks at Charleston Beer Works.

drinks at Charleston Beer Works - a bar/restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

After drinks, it was time for dinner! My sister made us reservations at Indaco, a rustic Italian eatery located off of King Street.

burrata at drinks at Indaco - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina
ricotta toast at Indaco - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

We ordered the burrata and ricotta toast for appetizers, and they were to die for! For my main course of food, I ordered the black pepper tagliatelle without the pork tesa. Our server seemed concerned about my vegetarian modification, but I ordered it, and it wasn't bad!

pasta at Indaco - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina
Indaco - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

Then we decided to WIG OUT and hit up the bars!

Hyatt Place - a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina
Photo: Emily
Prohibition - a bar in Charleston, South Carolina

(and by bars I mean one bar, Prohibition, because I was out way past my bedtime.)

The wigs were a hit, and it was so much fun! In fact, I'm planning on walking down the aisle in mine........

The next morning my mom and I woke up hours before everyone else (are you sensing a theme here?), and we enjoyed the FREE OMELETTE BAR at our hotel, OMG.

omelette bar at Hyatt Place - a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina

Then we all hopped in Ubers and headed to GORGEOUS Sullivan's Island, where my friends appeased me and endured pretty darn cold beach yoga!

(Mad props to Lindsey for teaching the class)

(Also, we lasted about 10 minutes and were like "okay, that was nice, get me to alcohol").

yoga on Sullivan's Island in Charleston, South Carolina
Photo: Rosemary

We received a tip from one of our Uber drivers that Poe's Tavern is the place to go on Sullivan Island. Well, you don't have to tell us twice.

Poe's Tavern - a restaurant on Sullivan's Island in Charleston, South Carolina

This spontaneous, no-frills meal was easily one of my favorites of the weekend. The food was simple and delicious, and the Edgar Allan Poe decor was seriously cool.

chips and queso at Poe's Tavern - a restaurant on Sullivan's Island in Charleston, South Carolina
veggie burger at Poe's Tavern - a restaurant on Sullivan's Island in Charleston, South Carolina

We shared chips and queso to start, which was a delicious app, and I had my second yummy veggie burger of the weekend! (Fun fact, I actually had a third one the next day at home in Houston because I like to live on the wild side).

Then we went back to our hotel, freshened up (Read: NAPPED.), and took a walk down beautiful King Street! But not before stopping at the nearby Revelator for some awesome coffee. Seriously, this place revived my faith in and love for cappuccinos!

Revelator - a coffee shop in Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

After tooling around town, it was time for a bevvy at Wine & Company, a lovely wine bar that basically looks like my dream house inside.

Wine & Company - a wine bar in Charleston, South Carolina
Wine & Company - a wine bar in Charleston, South Carolina

After a few glasses of rosé, we headed back to the hotel for the actual bachelorette party! I won't go into the nitty gritty details, but know that it involved toilet paper, underwear, a Jon-themed trivia game, wine, and snacks!

(Also Heather decided to move on from sitting on fake furniture to drinking fake champagne, which I assure you is way more fun than it sounds).

Hyatt Place - a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina
Hyatt Place - a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina

After these girls and guy went wild, we went to The Grocery, where Courtney had made dinner reservations for us.

bread at The Grocery - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

Here was another meal in Charleston that I absolutely adored! The atmosphere was cozy and rustic, the service was fantastic, and the food was dynamite. We were given some complimentary, crusty fresh bread, and I ordered the roasted beet salad to start.

beet salad at The Grocery - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

This sweet, light lovely salad was wonderful! I then ordered the cabbage gratinee, which was unique and incredibly enjoyable, followed by an off-menu vegetarian platter that our server recommended.

cabbage gratinee at The Grocery - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina
vegetarian platter at The Grocery - a restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

The platter contained a bunch of their vegetarian sides: roasted cauliflower, roasted carrots, brussels sprouts, the beet salad again (I wasn't mad about it), and something else that I don't remember because it's been too long, but it was all delicious!!

Then we were off to the bars (, but not before hitting up Jeni's Ice Cream!

Jeni's - an ice cream shop in Charleston, South Carolina

I've heard many-a rave review about Jeni's, and their creamy, flavor-popping ice cream did not disappoint!

After the bars (, we went back to the hotel to rest up before our flights back the next day!

Charleston is an AWESOME city, filled with fascinating history, beautiful scenery, a great bar scene, and killer food. It definitely gets my glowing endorsement as a fantastic bachelorette party destination!

Sullivan's Island in Charleston, South Carolina

I mean, just look at that! (and pretend it's 80 degrees and not 42...)

The 2016/2017 Winter Menu at Seasons 52

Monday, December 19, 2016
This post was done in partnership with Seasons 52 in Houston, who provided me with my food and drinks, free of charge. I was not monetarily compensated for writing this restaurant post. All opinions are completely, 100% my own!

Brrrr, it's cold out!

Whaddaya say we crank up the Mariah Carey Christmas, bust out our best mock turtle necks, take a break from all the cookie-baking, and go out for some deee-licious food?!?!

A few weeks ago, Jon and I were invited to try the winter menu at Seasons 52. The restaurant has two Houston locations, one in City Center and one near the Gallaria/River Oaks (where we ate). We've been to the restaurant a couple of times (read about it here, and here), and we had such good experiences both times, that of course we were thrilled to go back!

As the name implies, Seasons 52 changes its food with the seasons, or "What's Good Now." Feeling inspired, I kicked things off with one of their seasonal cocktails, the organic sunshine martini.

Made with orange-infused prairie organic vodka and simple syrup, the basic drink was anything but! Sweet, bright, light, and smooth, it went down a little too easy - It really was sunshine in a drink! While I enjoyed it, I'm not a super sweet toothed person, so I opted for a glass of red wine as my second drink. Seasons 52 has an awesome wine list, and I always love investigating it!

We were presented with an amuse bouche of prosciutto, goat cheese, and peaches, which Jon happily enjoyed for the both of us!

Then we ordered a couple of appetizers, starting with the lobster & fresh mozzarella flatbread for Jon and the artichoke & Laura chenel goat cheese flatbread for me. 

Having previously had the lobster & fresh mozzarella flatbread, Jon knew he was going to love it again. I'd had a version of the artichoke flat bread before BUT it was back when I had my stint with veganism so IT HAD NO CHEESE. But this time? IT HAD CHEESE. And I'm telling you, the soft cheese cut very nicely through the tart balsamic coated veggies. The flatbread itself was super light and crispy, and a great way to kick things off!

We also ordered the artisan cheese fondue to split during this first round of food.


A creamy, luscious combination of cave-aged gruyere and cheddar made this dreamy cheese dip one of my favorite two food items of the evening. The tangy, lovely cheese was made even more delicious when paired with an assortment of breads that offered varying tastes and textures to elevate it. This was one hella awesome fondue!

Oh but this round of food was not over, folks, because we also ordered a side of their roasted brussels sprouts without bacon!

Cooked in a 15-year aged balsamic, what I found most notable about these brussels sprouts were their ever-so-slightly crisped outer layer. The texture was great!

I also ordered a side of truffle mac 'n cheese en brodo.

I LOVE truffle, but I recognize how easy it is to mess it up. Throw too much in, and forget about it being palatable. Luckily for me, the restaurant could not have gotten this truffle mac more right! It had the perrrrfect amount of truffle oil, along with a rich swirl of gruyere and cheddar, all topped with a delightfully crunchy panko crust. This mac and cheese was DIVINE.

For our main course of food, Jon ordered his favorite, the red snapper (what he always gets at the restaurant), and I went with the vegetarian tasting plate.

I also always order the vegetarian tasting plate, however this one had completely different components in it than it did on my previous two visits. The plate consisted of a wood-grilled kohlrabi steak, asparagus, a fennel-roasted onion, and vegan paella. The kohlrabi and asparagus were fresh, standard, and good, and the fennel-roasted onion, was unique and surprisingly delightful (I don't hate fennel, but I generally don't lose my mind over it). But the vegan paella? OH THE VEGAN PAELLA. Y'all, I seriously ate chorizo that night. I mean I didn't really eat chorizo, of course, but I ATE CHORIZO. The vegan paella was hearty, earthy, spicy, textured, and insanely delicious, with vegetables and bits of some sort of fake chorizo thrown in there. This was my other favorite thing I ate that night, it was so incredible!!

The restaurant then presented us with their beautiful display of teeny, adorable desserts. Jon opted for his usual, the pecan pie, and I went with the red velvet cake. Jon's was very good, but I adored my less sweet, richer, decadent red velvet much more. The cheesecake frosting was perfect, and there was a surprise little raspberry at the bottom!

I love Seasons 52, which is why I keep going back. The restaurant offers incredible, seasonally appropriate food, as well as awesome service to boot. Houston is lucky to have multiple locations, and I can't wait to go back again!

Have a safe and Happy Holiday Season!!

Cooking Girl

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cooking Girl - A Chinese restaurant, in Houston

For all [two of you] still reading this (hi mom!), thank you. This long string of few-and-far-between restaurant blog posts will come to an end in a few months when life settles down for me. But I'm here now, and I'm here to tell you about the awesome, fabulous food at Cooking Girl - a BYOB ($4.99 corking fee, y'all!) Chinese restaurant located in Houston's Montrose neighborhood.

My parents are huge fans of the restaurant, so my mom and I went a few weeks ago. When we were seated in the tiny, packed (make a reservation!), no-frills spot, we were presented with a complimentary appetizer of light puffy chip-like things (you've missed my super excellent food descriptors, haven't you?). They weren't exceptionally flavorful, though slightly sweet, and a nice little pre-dinner teaser.

appetizer at Cooking Girl - A Chinese restaurant, in Houston

For our first course of food, we ordered (at the server's recommendation) the garlic-flavored cucumber. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't exactly a first round of food, in that it took quite a bit of time to come out, and it when it finally did come out, it was about a minute before we received our entrees. All that aside, the dish itself was pretty darn good. As a general rule, cucumbers make me feel dead inside, but I was glad I trusted our server on this one! The sauce that the crisp cucumbers were swimming in was super garlicky, with a lovely oily, syrupy feel. There was definitely chili in there, and it also packed some serious heat! I don't know if I'd order it on my next visit (since the whole cucumber/dead inside thing), but it will be on my regular rotation of food items to order there for sure.

garlic-flavored cucumber at Cooking Girl - A Chinese restaurant, in Houston

Oh but you know what I will order EVERY. SINGLE. TIME?

The pepper potato silk.

For our main course of food, my mom and I split two items - one of which was the pepper potato silk. People rave about this dish, and WOW. Potatoes are delicately peeled into noodle-like strands and cooked ever-so-simply in oil and peppers. This fine dish also had some MAJOR heat, and I cannot convey just how multi-layered and incredible it was. Eating it was a beyond-delightful, jaw-dropping experience. I seriously have not stopped thinking about this dish for the past few weeks, and it will definitely be in the running for my top 10 favorite dishes of the year!

pepper potato silk at Cooking Girl - A Chinese restaurant, in Houston

The other entree we split was the restaurant's mabo tofu.

I requested for the dish to be made vegetarian (I believe it normally comes with pork), which was no problem. Once again, my mouth was on fire, and once again, I loved what I was eating. Served with a side of steamed white rice, the sauce was on trend with the other dishes and perfectly oily. It was hartier, earthier, and thicker than the other two sauces and had *slightly* more of a gel-like consistency. Typically I'm more a fan of firmly cooked tofu, but the softness of this tofu was a welcome alleviating contrast to the über spicy (yet welcome) attack on my tongue. Even my mother - who thought she didn't like tofu - was a fan!

Cooking Girl is a no-frills, super affordable authentic Chinese food restaurant in Houston. And for all of you Houstonites who love to sweat over the spiciest of foods, take heart! This place is for you. Even with the slight timing issue with the courses, the service was great, and the food was super impressive! And hello, you had me at "BYOB."

mabo tofu at Cooking Girl - A Chinese restaurant, in Houston

*insert peace sign fingers emoji*

Cooking Girl Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vacation Days: West Hartford & Beyond

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Hey there, stranger!

New England Brewing Co. - A brewery near New Haven, Connecticut

Yes, it's been almost a month since you've heard from me, and it's due to three things:

1) I'm planning a wedding. If you haven't gathered from this blog, I am a super Type A, organized planner of a person, and whenever people had previously told me how stressful and difficult and crazy it is to plan a wedding, I always thought, "I believe it, but how bad is it really?" Well the Wedding Planning Gods are now laughing their faces off at me, because y'all? It's seriously a lot of work. It's fun, don't get me wrong! But a massive time-suck. Bear with me through these next six months. (Because eek! I decided it'd be a good idea to only give myself SIX MONTHS to plan a wedding!)

2) I'm quietly cleansing. Well I guess it's not so quiet since I'm announcing it on my blog. I did a lot of traveling last month that entailed eating indulgent (albeit DELICIOUS) food, as well as *slightly* over-imbibing some of the alcohols. So I'm on day 10 of a modified vegetarian Whole30 (allowing myself tofu, beans, quinoa, and permission to not be a total spaz when I actually do go to restaurants) in order to clean myself out a bit. But only for 20 days because I value my sanity. (Also, my sister will be in town on Day 21, and we have champagne plans <~~~ Real reason). But this means I'm not really eating out at new restaurants a whole bunch, so there's a lack of content for the blog. Whomp whomp.

3) I traveled more than I was home last month. I'm still catching up on everything after a trip to Disney World, a work trip to New Orleans, a work trip to Vermont, and a trip to West Hartford, Connecticut.

What's that, you say? Can I share more about my trip to Connecticut? I thought you'd never ask.

Jon and I visited our close friends Lenny and Christy in West Hartford towards the end of September. This was tacked on to the tail end of our trip to Vermont. West Hartford is adorable and charming and filled with great food, restaurants, and bars. When Jon and I arrived, Christy took us to the laid back restaurant Max Burger for lunch.

veggie burger at Max Burger - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I ordered The Grateful Veg with a fried egg on top and a side of baby broccoli. The restaurant's housemade quinoa-sunflower seed burger was topped with cheddar cheese, shaved red onion, roasted tomato, baby arugula, green goddess dressing, and avocado. This was one OUTSTANDING veggie burger, filled with unique textures and mouthwatering flavors! Lenny joined up with us after he finished work, and we headed over to happy hour at the open, airy, and pretty Max's Oyster Bar (same owners as the burger spot!). We enjoyed some bubbly champagne and oysters (I opted out of the oysters because, #shellfish).

After freshening up and hanging out for a bit at L and C's house, we headed out to dinner at the Italian restaurant Treva in West Hartford.

bread and wine at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

Our super engaging server was born and raised in Italy and full of fun, informative facts! We started off with a delicious bottle of red wine, and some of the restaurant's complimentary rustic bread with olive oil.

For our first round of food, we ordered the restaurant's burrata.

burrata at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I adore burrata, and this one ranks high on my list. The inside of the cheese gave off a textured, almost cottage cheese-like consistency. The flavor was light and slightly tangy, and paired wonderfully with some roasted peppers and arugula salad. It was delicious!

For the next round of food, we split the arancini.

arancini at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

Another crowd-pleaser, these golden-fried rice balls were stuffed with luxardo cherries and more delicious burrata. The sweet/salty combo that resulted was lovely!

For my final round of food, I couldn't not order the restaurant's tonnarelli cacio e pepe.

cacio e pepe at Treva - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

(If you know of my love affair with Coltivare's version, you understand why).

Treva's version was a bit heartier, with thicker noodles and a more syrupy olive oil. It was smooth, simple, and really wonderful!

The next day was our day of hopping around (aka eating food around) the state of Connecticut AND Massachusetts! We started off with breakfast at Goldberg's in West Hartford (as recommended to me by my friend Lauren).

Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut
bagels at Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut
bagels at Goldberg's - a restaurant in West Hartford, Connecticut

I ordered a jalapeño cheddar everything bagel with scallion cream cheese (say that ten times fast), and it was EVERYTHING. Fluffy, oozy, melty, tangy, spicy, and absolutely GLORIOUS, eating it was essentially a religious experience.

After that, we headed to New England Brewing Co. near New Haven to taste some local beers!

New England Brewing Co. - a brewery near New Haven, Connecticut
New England Brewing Co. - a brewery near New Haven, Connecticut

I'm not even anywhere close to being any sort of beer expert, but these beers were REALLY good. And the tasting space was small, but super fun!

After that we decided we hadn't had enough bread, so we were off to the restaurant Frank Pepe for some authentic New Haven pizza!

Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut
salad at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut

We ordered a tasty house salad, which meant the whole experience was healthy of course.

pizza at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut
pizza at Frank Pepe - a restaurant in New Haven, Connecticut

For our main course of food, we split two pies: One was half tomato pie/half mozzarella, while the other was half pepperoni/half mushroom, garlic, and onion. New Haven pizza really is in its own category of pizza. It's a thinner, crispier, slightly sweeter version of New York pizza, and I really really enjoyed it! The mozzarella pizza was a nice introduction to this style of pizza, but the tomato pie and the mushroom/garlic/onion versions were tied as my favorites. While other tomato pies I've had in the past had no cheese at all, Frank Pepe's version had a very small amount, which allowed the sweet tomato sauce to shine without being overpowering. And the veggie pizza was simply outstanding. The caramelized veggies were wonderful atop the crispy, almost-burnt crust! I even had some later that night (and maybe accidentally bit into a pepperoni that somehow ended up on my slice? Oops. I didn't freak out too much though).

After we had finished filling ourselves up on [more] bread and beer, we headed up (over? down? I'm terrible at geography) to Worcester, Massachusetts to see the band We & Mrs. Jones play at Nick's (fun fact, a scene from American Hustle was filmed there!). L and C's friend Madelyn is the lead singer of the band, and she is AWESOME.

We & Mrs. Jones playing at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

Actually, we got to witness one of her final shows before going into retirement to have a baby! It was so seriously great.

martini at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts
pretzel at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts
cheese plate at Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

I sipped on a sturdy martini ('natch), and we also ordered some food to share - a giant pretzel, along with a no-frills cheese plate. The pretzel came with a side of - wait for it - CREAM CHEESE, which seriously completed my life. The cheese plate was massive, and really just what we needed (MORE CARBS).

The next day, Jon and I headed back home to Houston, but not before stopping at Total Wine, the rest of the country's response to Spec's. And it was glorious.

Total Wine in West Hartford, Connecticut

And that concludes our trip! It was a whirlwind of an awesome weekend with great friends, great food, and great fun in West Hartford and beyond!

Nick's - a bar in Worcester, Massachusetts

I should probably have some more bread now.
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