Category Archives: Travel

08.08.17The Highlights of Red Hook, Brooklyn

When my parents came to visit in July, I started thinking about some things we could do that would be new and off the beaten path (that beaten path being Manhattan). We spent a day in the Bronx (more on that soon) and a whole day Red Hook, Brooklyn. There are quite a few fun things to do in this neighborhood that is being revived after taking a beating from Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

When they say that the journey is half the fun, they might be talking about the ferry ride over to Red Hook :). We grabbed the free Ikea Express ferry from Pier 11 (where Wall Street meets the East River). The twenty-minute boat ride gave us gorgeous views of Manhattan as we sailed toward Brooklyn. You can get off the boat at the first stop at Ikea, or you can get off at the second stop near some restaurants.

We hopped off at the second stop and walked over to Brooklyn Crab for lunch. We had heard great things about this 3-story open air “shack” with views of the water and a fun beachy menu. Among the four of us, we can say that the fish and chips and the crab roll were quite tasty, especially when paired with a pitcher of Narragansett beer.

From there, we wandered along the coastline to the Red Hook Winery, where we did a tasting of their selection. Red Hook Winery aims to uncover and highlight the best vineyard sites in New York state — “from the salty, sea-breeze-blown North Fork of Long Island to the stone, shale, and winter-dominated Finger Lakes.” They source the grapes from other parts of the state and create their own wine varieties. I’d found it difficult to find Cabernet Franc wine in NYC, but this winery had not one, not two, but THREE varieties of Cab Franc available for tasting! Their wines were delicious, and I’m glad we did the flight to be able to compare.

Following our wine tasting, we meandered over to a little shop that has become famous among New Yorkers: Steve’s Key Lime Pie. I regretted not purchasing a pie the last time we were in Red Hook. Since my parents are big key lime pie fans, I knew this was the perfect time to pick one up. I bought a frozen pie so that we could take it with us to our next stop and get it in the fridge by the time we got back home. Later that night, we cut into our pie and enjoyed every single bite!

Our next stop on the list had been much-anticipated by Rob. We’d learned of Van Brunt Stillhouse a few months ago and were eager to do a tour and tasting at their outpost in Red Hook. I reserved our tickets online ahead of time to ensure our spot. The tour was fine, but the tastings were ample — I particularly liked their rum (there was a hint of butterscotch!), and Rob loved their single malt whiskey. If you don’t care for liquor straight, they offer a variety of cocktails using their liquor.

From there we walked back toward Ikea to pick up our ferry to return to Manhattan. What I loved about Red Hook was the vast number of things to do that were all within walking distance of each other. There are plenty of other restaurants I’d like to try, like Red Hook Lobster Pound and Hometown BBQ, and new breweries seem to be popping up as the area revitalizes itself. If you’re looking for a unique taste of Brooklyn, I highly recommend the quick trip to Red Hook.

08.04.17Northern California: Packing Inspiration


This month we’re headed to the west coast! We are visiting friends in San Francisco and exploring the city/surrounding region. Because we have quite an array of activities on the docket, packing is going to be a bit challenging (and I only have a carry-on!). Furthermore, we need to pack for a variety of climates/temperatures.

Being prepared when traveling is important to me, so I’m incredibly diligent in thinking through all activities and necessary clothing, where pieces can overlap, and planning in advance. Here, I’ve put together my packing inspiration for exploring downtown San Francisco and Sausalito, a couple date nights, a weekend in Yosemite, a day trip in Napa, and a road trip to Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur.

As per usual, neutrals are in strong demand over here. They’re so easy to mix and match, and I don’t usually like standing out in bright colors. Stripes are always in style, and I love the nautical vibe for a city nearly surrounded by water. Layers are also key – I plan to take a fleece pullover for evenings in Yosemite, and a white linen blazer or neutral cardigan for cooler temps in San Francisco. I’d love to wear a beautiful, flowy sundress for a day of wine tasting (and it can double for a date night, too!). If you know me at all, then you know I’m a Kate Middleton fan. She is always classy and beautiful, even in a casual outfit. I’m taking notes for how to make walking sneakers look chic! (In the image above, she is wearing the Superga canvas sneakers.)

07.25.17Date Night in Koreatown (Featuring KBBQ)

One thing we love about NYC is that there are so many vastly different neighborhoods within one city. It’s so exciting to find pockets of stores, restaurants, and people that are so different from our own neighborhood. While my parents were in town, we had traditional German food in our own neighborhood, Yorkville, and Italian food on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. Both meals were incredible, and it was fascinating to see cultures thrive in this melting pot that is America.

After eating German and Italian, I was reminded of how much Rob had been wanting to try Korean BBQ. It was my turn to plan a date, so I did some research on Korean food and restaurants in Manhattan’s Koreatown. Koreatown is nestled between 5th and 6th Avenues, going from approximately 32nd street up to 38th street. I finally settled on a Korean BBQ restaurant for us to try: Jongro BBQ. It included grilling on the table and all kinds of meat selections, which I knew Rob would like.

Jongro BBQ doesn’t take reservations and can be a little tricky to find. Here’s my tip: go on the early side (we got there at about 6:45pm) and look for the Citibank on the south side of 32nd street (across from Wongo), go into the stark bank lobby, and take the elevator to the 2nd floor. It will empty you right into the vivacious restaurant where you can put your name down with a hostess.

The wait time was approximately 45 minutes, so we headed back out to the street and popped into several Korean shops and markets. First up: a Korean bookstore and music store. We found one of our favorite authors, Tim Keller, in Korean! We had fun trying to recognize various books based on cover imagery.

Next up: a Korean beauty store. Korean culture is known for high standards in beauty; women in Korea spend more money on cosmetics than women in any other country! A massive difference between American and Korean beauty is how they achieve beauty. Americans mostly have a three step beauty regime (cleanse, tone, and moisturize). Korean women, on the other hand, have a ten step beauty regime, including makeup remover and oil cleanser, water-based cleanser, exfoliation, toner, essences, serums, booster and ampoules, sheet masks, eye cream, moisturizer, and sun protection. It was fun looking through all of their products. I had heard about a baby foot peel on a blog, and was so intrigued when I first read about it. The product in store caught my eye, so I had the sales clerk tell me about it. She had me sold! I picked it up for my Koreatown souvenir. I’m a little nervous to try it, but I’ll report back once I do!

After the beauty shop, we popped into a Korean market. It was packed (with food and with people), but we perused the aisles checking things out. We wanted to try green tea mochi, but were afraid of it melting before we got home. A spicy wasabi dried pea snack also caught our eye, and Rob brought those home for his souvenir. We’re excited to try them!

Finally, we got a phone call that our table at Jongro was ready, so we made our way down the street to the restaurant. We were seated at a large booth that included a grill and heater in the center of it. After asking some questions about the menu, we settled on a beef platter to share (it included a few different cuts). The order also came with Korean accoutrements: kimchi, scallion salad, pickled onions, bean paste, soy sauce, macaroni salad (?!), and a tofu soup. Our server brought over the meat and cooked it for us in batches. Then we assembled lettuce wraps with the meat, rice, and sides. It was delicious! To be honest, I was hesitant about many of the sides, but I loaded my lettuce wrap with them anyway. So glad I did! We enjoyed our messy, flame-filled, fun dinner in Koreatown and would wholeheartedly recommend a visit to the neighborhood. Next time we’ll have to do karaoke, too!