When Greg worked in New York he would stop at Num Pang Kitchen before heading home. We loved several of their sandwiches and always hoped we could get them locally. While shopping in the Prudential Center in Boston we noticed a sign one day. It said Num Pang Kitchen coming soon! We are thrilled that they are now open!
We were in town shopping with Porscha and decided to get some sandwiches to go. We ordered the Pulled Duroc Pork, 5 Spice Glazed Pork Belly, and the Ginger Barbecue Brisket. All three sandwiches were as good as we remembered. The staff also accommodated my dairy allergy by switching their usual chili mayo to their soy based mayo. The bread has a wonderful chew to it, the flavors were bright and balanced, and the vegetables adding the perfect crunch!
I can't wait to go back!!!
Washington D.C. was a last minute change up for us. We had plans to finally make it up to Quebec City in Canada. Mother nature had other plans though. The forecast was rain for our entire stay. When you are doing a road trip with your pet you hope to be outdoors almost the whole time. Neither of us thought being soaked would be a fun vaca.
We decided why not head in the opposite direction to one of the most pet friendly destinations! Our plan was to leave at noon on Thursday but we got a little behind schedule and left a little after 1 p.m. Unfortunately this meant we would be hitting rush hour traffic all throughout our drive. We finally pulled up to our hotel for the night. We booked a room at The Darcy Washington D.C. The hotel recently changed over to the Curio Collection by Hilton and I have high hopes for it. We did run into a few small issues during our stay. During check in our profile somehow got changed to wanting a room close to the elevator. When we went up to our room it was directly in front of the elevators and would have caused a lot of ruckus during our stay. We went downstairs to ask for a different room. We were told that the hotel was very full but he was able to find one. What the staff neglected to tell us was that the room was tiny and awkwardly shaped. We found our later from the room service staff that all the corner rooms are that way. The second issue we ran into was that all but two towels in the bathroom had hairs on them. The third issue was that after our room was cleaned one day the trash was left behind.
With that being said the staff were friendly, the design was modern yet warm, and the location couldn't be beat. After filling out a survey for our stay we received a call from one of the managers. The manager not only agreed that this issues shouldn't have happened but completely understood the responses from the staff should have been different. Furthermore she compensated us with reward points (we're Hilton Diamond Members). We decided that these instances probably were just new opening quirks that would surely be resolved with a little more experience. We will definitely give The Darcy a second look.
After some much needed sleep we walked a few blocks over to Starbucks for some breakfast. Love a Venti Cold Brew and Pumpkin Bread to go! With the weather clearing up we decided to walk down to The White House. After a quick picture we made our way over to the National Mall. During our last trip to D.C. we toured the National Mall in it's entirety. This trip was really about just getting outside and walking around enjoying the scenery. We were happy to add to our pictures by venturing across the street to sit with Albert Einstein.
For lunch we chose to enjoy Tapas at Taberna del Alabardero. This is where our day got interesting. The minute we opened the door the fire alarm started going off. We were seated at a table outside and offered menus and water. After a very long wait our drink order was taken. We enjoyed Cava and house white wine. Another 15 minutes goes by and our waiter comes by to tell us that we can order but they basically don't have anything besides cold dishes and Paella. The fire alarm we heard basically ended up causing the restaurant to put everything on hold until they got inspected and received the okay.
We ended up ordering our favorite Iberico de Bellota ham, bread, and the vegetarian Paella. The ham as usual was buttery, savory, and perfectly sliced. The Paella was filled with a variety of vegetables, simply seasoned, and served with a lemon. A perfect lunch!
One of the managers came out to our table and explained the situation also saying we were the last ones to be able to order the Paella. Phew!
After lunch we hopped in a cab and headed back up to our hotel for a siesta!
At dinner time we wanted something small and casual. I was thrilled to see that Shake Shack now has an allergy menu. I have never tried their food before so this was perfect timing. We walked just a block away and ordered three burgers (yes one for Fred too) and some fries. We then crossed the street to the convenience store for some more bottled waters before heading back to the hotel. I completely see what all the fuss is about. Shack Shack burgers have an amazing cook on them, the french fries are thick and yet crispy, and the toppings were fresh! Total Yum!
After a good nights sleep we woke up and headed over to the U.S. National Arboretum. The Arboretum is pet friendly, beautiful, and very relaxing. We wandered through the National Herb Garden, National Capitol Columns, and the Asian Collections. Before leaving the area I stopped into the gift shop where I found lots of gifts for family. I also had a lovely conversation with the women working the store about her kids and the way things should be.
Our next stop of the day was to George Washington's Mount Vernon. Based on our parking spot Mount Vernon was very very busy! We had a good walk over to the main entrance. We paid our entrance fees and walked into the pet friendly grounds. There was an incredibly long line to walk through the building and the next tour wasn't for an hour and a half so we wandered in front of and behind the house, into the stunning vegetable garden (my garden goal), and then by the stables. Further down the way we made our way to the burial site of George Washington.
We couldn't take the combination of heat, full sun, and tourists any more so we started making our way back to the car. Before leaving I stopped into the gift shop for some wine, whiskey, and souvenirs.
It was now late afternoon and we were getting pretty hungry but didn't want to risk getting stuck in traffic anywhere so we opted to head back to the hotel and grab Shake Shack again. We spent the rest of the afternoon with our burgers and a bottle of wine! Perfect combination of a sightseeing and relaxing day.
When it came to dinner time we got a little lazy and opted to stay in - it's our vacation and if we needed to unwind so be it. We walked up the street to Maki Shop for some sushi rolls. The concept is great, the food was flavorful, but the staff weren't great. The staff ended up getting our order wrong and it wasn't noticed until we walked back to the hotel.
The next morning we ended up leaving earlier than planned and thank goodness we did! We hit traffic, more traffic, and even more traffic! It took us much longer to get home than our other trips. No problem though we just keep listening to music and laughing along the way.
My sister is getting married this year and as her matron of honor I had the pleasure of throwing her and her fiance a wedding shower. My mother was a huge help to me throughout the whole process. Together her and I found the perfect venue together. With the perfect room, delicious options, and wonderful staff we were thrilled to book The Hawthorn Hotel in Salem MA.
The wedding will be taking place is Paris France later this year. On a side note stay tuned to hear about our stay in Paris including Versailles, Burgundy Region, Restaurants, Hotels, Airbnb, and the wedding venue itself! I wanted the shower to be a classic brunch but with subtle French influences.
When guests entered the Grand Ballroom they could look for their names and tables on mini chalkboards. Next we asked for them to fill out advice cards with keys attached to them for our "Love Lock" Frame.
For the centerpieces we found glass vases that were dipped in Gold paint. We worked with Salvy the Florist in Lynn MA to create a floral centerpiece that was soft colors and felt like it came right out of a garden. We were thrilled with the end result! For the table number cards I hand painted gold onto simple white frames. The interior was a combination of blue vintage look paper, white invitation cards, and scroll cut chalkboard paper. In addition to a traditional table setting we included two games. The first was bridal bingo and the second was he said she said. We chose the first two winners for each game and gave them boxes of French Macarons.
The brunch menu consisted breads, pastries, eggs benedict, french toast, potatoes, ham, chicken and pasta, spinach salad, and mini pastries. The staff were also wonderful when dealing with food allergies. For a person with a gluten allergy they were able to make a separate Eggs Benedict with gluten free bread. For my dairy allergy they were able to make me a separate order of poached eggs. For drinks we offered our guests coffee, tea, mimosa's, bloody mary's, and non-alcoholic punch.
Instead of going the traditional cake route I ordered a Croquembouche (french pastry consisting of cream puffs that have been dipped in caramel) from Caramel Patisserie in Salem MA. The Croquembouche was stunning and everyone raved about the flavors.
Finally we created favors for our guests. The first item was small bunches of lavender sprays wrapped in natural colored tissue paper ties with raffia. The second item was a small gold box which held 2 Madeline cookies (that I baked including a gluten free option) and a small chocolate Eiffel Tower.
I couldn't have been more thrilled with the way the day turned out. My sister and future brother in law were surprised and happy so it made everything worth it!
We were a family of 6 and 2 dogs heading up to Bar Harbor ME for a holiday weekend getaway. We couldn't find any available houses on Airbnb so we decided to try vacation rentals.com. We found a perfect house for us! Diana Paine lists her home for visitors. The home had plenty of space, beds, seating areas, and many amenities. We especially loved being able to sit while listening to music on the sound system or playing the piano.
Our first nights dinner was at Mache Bistro. We ordered a variety of appetizers and my sister and I were thrilled with being able to order a small bottle of Veuve Cliquot (My favorite). Our appetizers consisted of the Vinter Board, Frisee Salad, Boquerones Bruschetta, and the Two Blues Board. I can't quite remember what everyone else ordered but Greg and I dined on the Slow Roasted Pork and the Slow Cooked Duck Confit Leg. Overall the friendly service, variety of flavors, and the well executed entrees made for a delicious evening.
After dinner we walked through town for dessert. Sadly my favorite ice cream shop CJ's Big Dipper didn't have their vegan and almond free ice creams ready yet. We went further down the main st and some of us got pastries and my amazing sister found chocolate ice cream for me made with coconut milk!
For breakfast we went to one of our favorites. Two Cats Restaurant has something for everyone. I always enjoy the corned beef hash. After breakfast we walked around the main street a bit. Popping into the shops.
Sadly I had a bad experience in one of my favorite stores. Inside A Little Mad not even 5 feet away from me the staff decided it was a good idea (while chatting to a local they knew) to make fun of tourists wearing Bar Harbor sweatshirts. I just happened to be wearing a Bar Harbor sweatshirt (the morning was cold and rainy and we were supposed to be going rock climbing so why not throw it on). I couldn't believe the nerve they had. Needless to say i put down the pieces of art and perfumes I was going to buy and left without spending a penny. I was also dismayed at their response on Tripadvisor. They reassured me that I misunderstood the employee and that while they were praised for being a store that didn't sell that typical merchandise they were friendly with other local shops that did. Did I fail to mention that we were a group of 6 adults who all heard it??? We continued on our way and purchased some local artisan products: gourmet olive oil, maple syrup, wooden kitchen bowls and more. There are so many wonderful shops in Bar Harbor so don't ever worry about having one bad experience.
On the way back to the car I stopped back into CJ's Big Dipper and they had several flavors of their soy ice cream. Their soy ice cream and smooth, creamy, and not overly sweet. On this occasion I enjoyed their vanilla with raspberry swirl. After shopping we all went back to the house and had some much need rest. It was so wonderful that we all got to just read, listen to music, take a nap, and enjoy each others company. It has been a very busy year for all of us and a rainy day in was just what we needed.
It was only 4 of us for dinner that evening and so we opted for a casual outing. We drove down the road to Mainely Meat BBQ at Atlantic Brewing Company. We found a table right away and while my dad went into the store to purchase some beer to bring home we ordered some drinks. For dinner we enjoyed pulled pork, ribs, coleslaw, potato salad, and beans. Delicious!!
The next morning we awoke to sunshine and warmer temperatures! After breakfast we drove up the road to Asticou Azalea Garden. We took our time experiencing all the nooks and cranny's the garden has to offer. There are so many beautiful flowers to look at, stunning settings for pictures, and an overall relaxing feeling.
For lunch we drove into Bar Harbor and opted for Peekytoe Provisions. We were able to get a table outside for the 6 us and the dogs. After finding a table we went inside to order. We ended up buying a couple bags of chips because the wait was going to be at least 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the food wasn't worth the wait. Items came out separately, incorrectly, and didn't hold up to their description.
Since it was finally a nice day we were looking forward to driving through Acadia National Park. Apparently so were the other tourists. We had a bit of traffic once inside. It didn't stop us from finding great viewing point nor parking spots to get out and wander.
Our last dinner in Bar Harbor was at Havana Restaurant. After walking to the back section of the property we were seated at a lovely table with a view of the wine room. To start our meal together we ordered the Spring Rolls, Braised Pork Belly, Mussels Borracho and the Vegetarian Mixed Grill. The bread basket was filled with warm and scrumptious bread (I couldn't enjoy it but everyone loved the cornbread) that we used to soak up the mussels broth as well as the aioli.
For entrees we ordered the Seafood Paella, Fish of the Day, Scallops, Flank Steak, Lobster Moqueca, and the Pork and Beans. The portion sizes were plentiful, seasonings were bold and yet not overpowering, and the temperatures were perfect. Havana was the perfect choice for our final dinner of vacation.
We had tickets to go to a viewing of The Princess Bride and Q&A with Cary Elwes. Before heading over to the Theater District we decided to try dinner at Pabu.
We arrived a little early and had a few moments wait until we were seated. We ended up with a table with a view of downtown crossing. We ordered drinks from the Bar thanks to recommendations from another employee. Our server was friendly and very funny however after the initial start we hardly saw him. The restaurant has a variety of food runners and we saw them more than our server.
We opted for the Omakase menu which meant we would be dining on only sushi. Our 9 course meal was filled with a variety of delicious and fresh seafood. I was thrilled to see that at the end of our meal the staff made a dairy free dessert for me!
While we enjoyed our meal we agreed that we prefer an Omakase that has selections for both the cold and hot selections (Morimoto Asia and Oishii have been some of our favorites).
After dinner we raced over to the Wilbur Theater. Minus the horribly uncomfortable seats we thoroughly enjoyed watching The Princess Bride and hearing wonderful and hilarious stories from Cary Elwes!