Cheers to a much needed mini vacay with Pammie and Donna! The last time we vacationed together was three years ago in Kauai, so this trip was long overdue!
On Friday night, we missed our Nobu rooftop res because it took us 45 minutes to be driven 2 miles. Downtown Chicago traffic is no joke, especially during Lollapalooza weekend.
We ended up at Booze Box, a secret bar in the basement of a sushi restaurant. Right when we walked in, this japanese lady pulled open a side gate and led us down some sketchy ass stairwell into the coolest little dive bar ever. The music, drinks and late night maki def hit the spot.
I couldn’t go to Chicago without going on a river boat tour à la My Best Friend’s Wedding (that scene gets me every. damn. time.). While there was no slow dancing or tearful realizations, I honestly was so impressed by the beautiful architecture. The only other time I visited Chicago was over a decade ago for a weekend in the dead of winter. All I remember was that it was St. Paddy’s Day and they dyed the river green. It was too cold to really do anything back then. Even though it rained the day before I arrived this time, the weather was absolute perfection.
Donna: Why is my heart racing??? Me: Maybe it was that flight of espresso martinis you downed? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I’m that friend who only orders california rolls at sushi restaurants.
While Pammie and Donna enjoyed the (mostly raw) tasting menu at Nobu, I feasted on this glorious 28-day dry-aged prime ribeye.
If my A5 wagyu isn’t prepared this dramatically, I don’t want it.
The best thing I ate at Nobu (and possibly my entire life) was this whisky cappuccino dessert. Holy shit, you guys. Once that whisky foam hit my lips, I left my body, floated up to heaven, saw my grandparents, came back down, and finished off the remaining layers of espresso gelato, toasted cinnamon crunch and cardamom cream. Their recipe is posted online, but why go through all that trouble when you could just take me to the Nobu in Malibu??? 😏
Since we all binge-watched The Bear, we wanted to try an authentic italian beef sandwich. One of our uber drivers, Kendrick, told us that the best one was at Clark Street Dog. We could kill two birds with one stone and get a chicago dog there, too. He warned us not to ask for ketchup, as if he knew about that one time I asked for it at a steakhouse and was shamed by my entire table. As he drove us around, he also pointed out where people had been recently shot and what areas to avoid walking at night unless we wanted to get popped! So full of useful information, this guy…
We ordered our food and headed over to the attached bar for picklebacks, mules, and quite possibly the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth – Jeppson’s Malört. According to our bartender, Evan, it’s a Chicago tradition for out-of-towners to take a shot of what can be accurately described as “rotten grapefruit with the lingering after taste of a tire fire” (among other things). He also suggested we hit up the nearby L&L Tavern where Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy used to troll for victims. Who doesn’t love a good murder bar??? I’ll have to come back when I’m not stuffed with italian beef.
We woke up at the butt crack of dawn to stand in line for an hour before this restaurant opened (sorry for anything I said before I got some cold brew in me 😅). Kasama is the only michelin-starred filipino restaurant in the world, and respect had to be paid.
This trip couldn’t have come at a better time. I got to celebrate an unexpected promotion at work and have a little fun before conference season starts up this week and I’m blacked out for the next couple of months. Excuse me while I cry into my empty Garrett Popcorn tin…
I’ve had malasadas in LA before, but they don’t even compare to the pillowy deliciousness that is Leonard’s. This was my most favorite thing I ate during the entire trip… even better than the garlic butter shrimp we waited two hours for at Romy’s! The mango gummy bears from Lin’s Hawaiian Snacks were a very close second.
Because I didn’t get enough coronavirus exposure during my recent visit to Seattle, I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling through the Philippines.
I’m back home now where I’ll be self-quarantining and working remotely for the next 14 days! If anyone needs me, I’ll just be in my apartment tending to my sunburn and wishing I was back on a yacht off the coast of El Nido instead of here in LA where it’s raining outside.
On my flight to Seattle, the flight attendant was walking down the aisle greeting everyone happy valentine’s day when he stopped in front of me and asked, “Are you traveling alone?” I said that I was, and he was like, “Can you switch seats so that this couple can sit together?” I meannn.
This museum was across the street from our hotel and so worth the visit! I’ve always admired Chihuli’s sculptures in Vegas, but his featured work here is incredible. The way he transforms glass is pure poetry.
We stood in a long ass line that wrapped around the building for this chowder… or shall I say Pammie stood in a long ass line while I was off buying crab claw pens at a souvenir shop (@ Pike Place Chowder)
I actually forgot that I had eaten here during my first trip to Seattle… We only tried the New England style chowder, and I didn’t think it was anything to write home about. If you’ve had the chowder from Boudin’s or Blue Bayou or even the cafe downstairs at my work on Fridays, you aren’t missing much.
Congrats to my dear friends, Donna and David! I had originally planned to go to Chicago for Lollapalooza that week, but I went to Kauai for their vow renewal instead and had the greatest time!
I was still in high school when they first got married twenty years ago. If my sister and I were running late to class, we’d skip first period and hang out at their apartment instead. Donna was a bad influence on us then, and she still is today! Ha. She dared me to jump off a cliff into the kids’ pool at the resort we were staying at. She jumped first, but she’s also a foot shorter than me! I’m pretty sure my tailbone is still at the bottom of the keiki pool, you guys.
Touring the Na Pali Coast by boat was my most favorite part of this trip!
We got up close and personal with dolphins, snorkeled with sea turtles, and explored these amazing sea caves. Shoutout to Captain Kalen of Blue Ocean Adventure Tours for the dope playlist and all the laughs! Def book a tour with them if you’re ever in Kauai.
This raft tour was pretty wild. You basically sit on the side of an inflatable zodiac boat with nothing but a rope over your foot and the hand of God keeping you in as you zip up the coast at crazy speeds!
I was surprised Pammie agreed to join me because she is notorious for getting sea sick (Caborette Booze Cruise 2015, anyone?). She thought she fully prepared herself this time around, but no amount of ginger pills, essential oils, sea-bands or prayers could keep her from getting sick. All things considered, she and her husband still had fun!
This magical bamboo forest led us to the lazy river where we went mountain tubing.
If you’ve never gone tubing down an old sugar plantation irrigation system, then I really don’t know what you’re doing with your life.
We hit up this hole in the wall, Hamura Saimin, after Jessie told us it was her husband’s favorite restaurant in Kauai. While we were waiting for a table, I noticed Jason Momoa’s kids in line next to us (because I’m a creep and I know what his kids look like). They were accompanied by a local who was super friendly with everyone in the restaurant. We were seated at a communal table next to them when Jason Momoa strolled in and sat down behind me! I started sweating, partly because I was eating hot noodle soup in the humidest place on earth, but mostly because I was sitting back to back with Khal fuckin’ Drogo, and I could feel his goddamn body heat!
My friends stayed in Kauai longer than us and saw him two more times! I knew I should’ve extended my vacation…
Love this intimate desert gem! Anthony Bourdain featured it in an episode of No Reservations, and Paul McCartney has played here. It’s def worth the visit, especially if you’re nearby in Palm Springs or in Joshua Tree where I had the best napsound bath of my life.
Turn right after Waffle House??? These are my kind of directions!
I got lost going to work once (ok twice) because the house that I turn left at took down their white picket fence, so I drove right past it. I still can’t tell you what the name of the street is, but they put their fence back up, so we’re good! Ha.
I thought most of the people flying on Valentine’s Day would be on their way to see loved ones, but the majority of the passengers on my flight were headed to see Bruno Mars. Or at least that’s what their hooligans jerseys led me to believe…
I managed to snap this without getting elbowed in the face by all the asians with selfie sticks. My mom was one of them. Just kidding (she forgot hers at home).
(@ The LINQ Promenade)
I’ll have to make my way back here, if only for Virgil’s Real BBQ. And maybe that cute guy covering Stone Temple Pilots inside.
There are five Shake Shacks in LA, but we still ate here three times during our trip! We even schlepped across town with our luggage on our last day to get one last Shackburger and their limited edition Hot Chick’n when we found out we were flying out of the JFK terminal that doesn’t have a Shake Shack. We’re kind of obsessed.
This was our favorite meal of the trip (don’t let the fact that we ate at Shake Shack three times fool you). Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, the waitress came back midway through our meal to give us a second scrape!
Before we knew it, it was time to fly home. Anyone who knows me and my sister knows that we’re complete opposites. She’s a Potterhead, while I’m more Homicide for the Holidays! But we always have fun when we’re together. I can’t wait for our next trip!
Here’s a little video I put together of our trip. I kept it under a minute to fit the whole thing on insta, so I cut out the part where I fell down and also the part where Shi got pulled over, among other footage! Ha.
“The cure for anything is salt water—sweat, tears or the sea.” (@ McWay Falls)
It’s impossible to capture the beauty that is McWay Falls in a photograph (we came back three times to try!). It would have been perfect during magic hour, but we opted to test our friendship instead at Pfeiffer Beach. More on that below! Ha.
Across from McWay Falls, we stepped into this magical forest where we were happy to have the sun on our face and wood between our legs.
Beer tastes better when you drink it in a river! Just ask this babe (@ Big Sur River Inn)
You can find this Spirit Garden, a breakfast pizza that tastes like heaven, donuts topped with more donuts, and most importantly, the only cell phone signal you’ll get for miles and miles here (@ Big Sur Bakery & Restaurant)
They say that “nepenthe” is a potion used by the ancients to induce forgetfulness of pain or sorrow… I should’ve had more of these! (@ Nepenthe)
“It’s only 2.3 miles,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said (@ Pfeiffer Beach)
We wanted to catch the sunset at the beach, but the parking lot was full. We parked on the main road with 40 minutes till sunset and started our 2.3-mile trek. It was all downhill from there (figuratively and literally). I was wearing boots that were def not made for walking! I tried to run in them, and my hip flexor failed me LOL. I arrived just after the sun disappeared below the horizon. Luckily, Shi’s hip flexors worked perfectly fine, so she made it there in time and was able to snap this photo. After the sun set, we had to hike those 2.3 miles back uphill to the car. It was pitch black. Every tree looked like a bear. We were legit scared. And cold. And my phone was dead. We had brought scarves and beanies and portable battery chargers in preparation, but they were all in the car! We are the worst road trip duo ever, and it’s a miracle we made it back home alive! Ha.
My Austin City Limits trip was cut short due to my grandma’s passing, and Anthony had the time of his life those first few days without me. He hit up the Dirty Sixth with Austin locals he made friends with and ended up giving one of them my Friday wristband. They saw all the bands I wanted to see. I’m bummed I missed Tame Impala and Leon Bridges among others, but luckily I didn’t have to wake up at an ungodly hour on Saturday and wait with him in that 4-hour line for Franklin. Day-old brisket reheated in a hotel microwave and eaten in my chonies still tasted better than any BBQ I’ve ever had in California!
I flew in Saturday night and met up with Anthony at an Irish pub downtown. Fado is the official US soccer bar in Austin, and it’s surrounded by gay bars on 4th Street. My uber driver was convinced he was taking me to see my gay friend once I told him where I was headed LOL. I mean, it would explain so much… After US lost to Mexico, we hit up Firehouse (a cool little speakeasy inside a hostel) and Rainey Street. I loved, loved, loved it there. Rainey Street is a block of old houses converted into themed bars. We stayed till last call, and all I remember from that night is a lot of Ludacris and stanky legs. You don’t realize how drunk you are until you’re walking the hotel halls in nothing but your dress slip looking for a beverage machine so you could wash down some tylenol at three in the morning.
We didn’t wake up early enough to stand in line for BBQ before the festival on Sunday, but we stopped by Torchy’s Tacos before we made our trek to Zilker Park. There was a lot of walking. Like. A LOT. Before, during and after the festival. In nearly 100 degree heat. And in sandals that had 0% arch support (but were 100% cute, obvs). This was definitely not Portland where we had a local friend with a car, ample public transportation, and weather that was 50 degrees cooler. The highlight of my day happened just before BØRNS’ set when the sun disappeared behind the only cloud in the sky for half a minute and everyone cheered. BØRNS, Sylvan Esso and Hozier’s sets were very close seconds. So were those two snow cones we each had.
Before I knew it, it was Monday and time to check out. Anthony hit up the gym in the morning while I stayed my ass in bed. We ate lunch at Valentina’s Tex Mex where Anthony had brisket tacos and I had a beast of a beef rib with the most beautiful smoke ring. We strolled down South Congress afterwards and drank micheladas for three hours at a bar inside Hotel San Jose. We got to the airport early to watch the Chargers lose, and I asked the TSA guy if the Starbucks was before or after the security gate. He ruined my mom’s life and told me that there’s no Starbucks at all, because Austin is all about supporting local businesses. I get a Starbucks mug for my mom whenever I travel, and she’s just gonna have to be happy with the mug I got her during my layover in Phoenix!
All things considered, I’m glad I was able to take a break from life and escape for a couple of days. I’ll def be back to explore this little town again.
I’m doing it partly in preparation for all the BBQ and bad decisions I’ll be making in Austin next week, but mostly because I bet Anthony that I could lose twenty pounds by the time we went to ACL or I’d pay for his BBQ at Franklin. These last five pounds can’t be zumba’d off in a week, so I made a game-time decision to bring my juicer out of retirement yesterday.
I can’t wait to go on vacation! And also eat solid food again.
Six of us were supposed to vacation in Portland, but new jobs, broken water heaters, half marathons and trips to Japan got in the way. Anthony and I obviously have nothing else going on in our lives, so the two of us spent our birthday weekend traveling the pacific northwest without those clowns!
One thing I love about Portland (and pretty much any other city besides LA) is the public transit system. You can get anywhere by light rail, street car, train or bus! The light rail took us straight from the airport to our hotel downtown for $2.50 (I’ve paid nearly $40 for a cab ride to LAX, and I only live 5 miles away!). What I also love about Portland is the food. OMG, the food. They are known for their food trucks, and our hotel was a couple blocks away from a group of like 20 or so of them at Alder Food Carts. I’ve been wanting to eat at Nong’s ever since I saw her on Chopped, and it was the first of many good meals we had that weekend.
Friday was Anthony’s birthday, and he wanted to go to McMenamins Kennedy School for drinks. It used to be an elementary school, but they converted it into a hotel/brewery. We had drinks in the boiler room, and I got sloppy hoping Jordan Catalano would show up to no avail.
Our friend Mark lives in Portland, and we met up with him for some late night eats at Biwa. He took us to some hipster bar called Bar Bar afterwards where we met some of his designer friends. Apparently, there’s a lot of job opportunities up there! Something to consider while I’m sitting in LA traffic…
Saturday was for snoozing. We slept in and hit up the farmer’s market around noon. When we couldn’t find the Pine State Biscuits booth, we decided to have lunch at Lardo, but not before having some pre-meal crepes at C’est Si Bon. The crepes were a mistake. And so were the donuts that followed at Blue Star. We somehow rolled ourselves back to the hotel and were in a food coma for the rest of the rainy afternoon. Everyone in Portland was watching the Seahawks playoff game, and we slept through half of it.
When we woke up, Anthony left to work out at the hotel gym, and I ventured out on my own to see the Portland Stag Sign without telling him. It’s no secret that I get lost easily, so he decided early on that he would navigate and I was to stay at his 8 o’clock at all times. I tried to take the bus by myself, got off at the wrong stop and found myself in BUMSVILLE. I eventually found my way back to the hotel, but not before Anthony returned from the gym. He was just coming to terms with the idea that I had been abducted when I walked through the door with a bag of hot cheetos and this photo. He was not amused.
I passed by Voodoo Doughnut on my way back. This bum in front threw his half eaten donut on the ground and started following me! I barely escaped with my life.
We had drinks at Whiskey Soda Lounge while we waited for our table at Pok Pok that night. FYI if you’re only going to Pok Pok for their famous wings, you can skip the wait and get them at Whiskey Soda Lounge instead. Or if Portland is too far, you can come visit me when they open a Pok Pok LA this spring 😉 It definitely was everything the internet promised it would be.
Sunday was probably my favorite day, and we didn’t even spend it in Portland! We took an impromptu trip to Seattle and did every touristy thing we could fit into five hours. We ate clam chowder at Pike Place Chowder (and pre-meal empanadas at El Mercado Latino), dodged fish at Pike Place Fish Market, visited the first Starbucks, tested our gag reflex at the Gum Wall in Post Alley, went to the top of the Space Needle, and rode the Great Wheel. And this is where I found out this foolio is afraid of heights. The proof is in the video.
After spending six hours on the train that day, I showered back at the hotel before we met up with Mark and his friends for drinks at Dig a Pony. If I knew we were going to end up at a strip club later that night, I would have waited to shower afterwards! Ha. Apparently, Portland is the strip club capital of America, and no trip is complete without visiting one. Anyway, here are some dollars that Anthony let some girl pick up with her tits while we ate tater tots. No bigs!
Monday was my birthday and our last day in Portland. We had a bloody mary brunch at Tasty ‘n’ Sons, beers at Hopworks Bike Bar, doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnut, and coffee at Stumptown. I was really sick that day (Was it all the public transportation or was it the strip club? Who really is to blame???). I’m still sick two weeks later, so it’s taken me a while to get my life together and update this thing.
When we got back to Anthony’s house that night, Pammie and Christine came over with birthday burritos from Lolita’s! It was a great end to what Anthony refers to as “the time of my life.” He wishes!
I took a shotgun trip to Vegas this past weekend with my sister and her fiance to finalize plans for their wedding this November. I’m going to be the best maid of honor ever! Or at least the sexiest one… I’ll work that angle 😉 Ha.