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La Condesa – Napa, CA

While strolling down Main Street in cute St. Helena I couldn’t help but notice this hip new Mexican joint and I couldn’t wait to try it.  When you walk in you are immediately struck by the vibrant blue painted walls that look something reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in Sex and The City only a tad bit little brighter!

The menu is loaded with flavor punching Mexican favorites with a new twist to them such as the pickled strawberry, roasted pepitas and queso fresco guacamole.  Say what?!  Another dish that stood out to me was the Panza de Puerco Huaraches with pork belly, blue cheese, fig jam, black pepper caramel, arugula and tomatillo.  Wowzers!  I’m not even sure what to say except that I’m looking forward to going back just to try some of their interesting modern Mexican dishes.

I chose to take them up on their $15 lunch special which included a salad, 2 tacos of my choice, rice, beans and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  Perfect!  PS – the Cream Cheese Ice Cream is delicious!  Tastes just like frozen cheesecake…yum!

Casa Salad – mixed greens, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla strips and balsamic vinaigrette

Cochinita Pibil Taco – seville orange-banana leaf marinated berkshire pork, cabbage, pickled red onion and pickled jalapeño & Pescado Taco – griddled pacific rockfish, cabbage, salsa de arbol, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayo

Coffee Chip Ice Cream

ABC Kitchen – New York, NY

Located in the basement of ABC Home (I didn’t get the chance to go there so it’s on my list for next time), ABC Kitchen is home to Chef Jean-Georges, winner of the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant of 2011.  The space is very urban with all the exposed beams and air ducts as well as the mix of materials…wood and concrete with splashes of decorative lighting.  The menu is well rounded offering a mix of seasonal ingredients all the while staying just small enough to not be insanely overwhelming.  Our reservation wasn’t until 10pm (welcome to New York!) and was still packed and lively.  Definitely a different city in comparison to Seattle but we already knew that:)

We started with the Line Caught Tuna Sashimi Marinated with Ginger and Mint.  Nice clean flavors…I could have eaten a lot more of this:)

We had to get the Pretzel Dusted Calamari with Marinara and Mustard Aioli.  I’ve never seen such a thing but in all honesty…it was so understated that I was barely able to detect the pretzel.  Good and cooked perfectly but didn’t strike me as anything “different”.

Special of the night: Truffle pizza…yes please!!!  Anyone who has had fresh truffles before knows that they’re much more subtle than the overly intense flavor of truffle oil.  I love both but think you have to be careful with the oil.  A little can go a long way.  These on the other hand…keep ‘em coming!

I love, love, love brussels sprouts and always get them when they’re on the menu.  Roasted with garlic and rosemary, these were fantastic!  Lived up to my expectations for sure.

My husband and I split the Akaushi Cheeseburger with Herbed Mayo and Pickled Jalapeño.  With all the other food we ordered this was the perfect thing to split.  Packed with flavor, this wasn’t disappointing.

To end our already indulgent meal we decided on the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with Candied Peanuts & Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce…wow!  I would definitely order this again.  Although we hardly put a dent in it this was incredible!  I loved the hot and cold, silky and crunchy, salty and sweet…it was everything you could ask for.  Yum!

Bi-Rite Creamery – San Francisco, CA

If you live in San Francisco then surely you’re aware of Bi-Rite Creamery.  Located in the Mission it’s truly one of the best scoops of ice cream I’ve had in a long time.  Everything is made in house using only the finest local ingredients.  Even the marshmallows and peanut brittle that go into the ice cream are made fresh.  Good thing I wasn’t hooked when I lived there for 6 years.  If you’re an ice cream lover then this is the place for you!

So many flavors to choose fromThey’re really nice about giving you samplesI settled on Brown Sugar and Ginger Caramel Swirl…great choice!

Amanpuri – Phuket, Thailand

On the first leg of our honeymoon we had the pleasure of spending 3 full days in Phuket, Thailand at the beautiful Amanpuri Resort.  Unfortunately for us the one thing you can’t control in life is the weather and we got rain…three days of it…torrential downpour to be exact.  So what do you do when it’s raining and you can’t be outside?  You eat:)  And that we did!

Being that we were in Thailand it only seemed most appropriate to stick to the native cuisine which we did.  Every morning we started the day with a gorgeous platter of fresh fruit followed by either eggs or yogurt and granola.  My favorite was by far the passionfruit.  Holy cow it has a lot of flavor!

Lunch and dinner mostly consisted of curried noodle dishes, seafood and some sort of rice dish.  All very flavorful and delicious!

If you’re ever planning a trip to Phuket, Thailand I highly recommend the resort for your accommodation and/or food.  Everything at Amanpuri is quite impressive!  The attention to detail is unbelievable and will have you oooh-ing and ahhh-ing at it all.

My husband’s breakfast bruschetta which was layered with arugula, avocado, roasted tomatoes, crispy pancetta, poached eggs and finished with a balsamic reduction…lots of punch for a morning meal but very good!

Poq Pia Sot – Shrimp, chicken and vegetables, rolling in a Thai crepe with a spicy dipping sauce

Pow Pia Thod – Tradition deep fried spring rolls.  Always a tasty choice even though they’re not healthy.

The Thai take on the classic Balinese dish Mie Goreng – Chicken and crab meat, fried noodles with chili sambal, shrimp crackers & satay, topped with a fried egg

Kao Soi Gai – Chiang Mai style red curry of chicken with crispy noodles and traditional accompaniments

Who knew chocolate ice cream could be so beautiful?!

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