Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

What It’s Like Cooking At The #1 Hotel Cooking School in the World

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It’s no secret that I love to cook – it’s one of my favorite de-stressers of all time.  There’s something cathartic about chopping vegetables, mixing together the right spices and sauces for new flavors, and seeing a finished product.

A few weeks ago, myself, some of my company, and some of our customers took a cooking class at Cavallo Point Cooking School, in San Francisco, and it was amazing.

Led by Head Chef Tony Adams (who has an impeccable sense of humor), walked us through the multi-course meal we were going to cook, before we were counted off into four teams.

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The menu is set close to the day of, after Tony has gone to the market to see what is fresh for the day.  The result is a custom menu full of fresh ingredients, and it was amazing.

We learned cutting techniques, cooking techniques, how to plate things the way they were intended, and used new totally helpful cooking utensils that I now seemingly can’t live without (my cabinet space is begging to differ on that one).

Our team did a pretty incredible job with dinner, and it was amazingly delicious!  I highly recommend taking a class from here if you are in the area.  After, grab a drink at the bar downstairs and certainly, take in the beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Below are some more pics of the event.  People have been left out of them, since this was a company event 🙂

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Australia, Fun, Leo the Dog, Travel

Handmade Chic Dog Collars? Yes Please!

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As I was walking down an open air market at The Rocks in Sydney with my mom, we came across a tent with dog collars of different patterns and styles – some were plaid, some were polka dot, and others were striped, all in charming fabrics and styles, for both male and female dogs.  I had selected a handmade collar that looked much like the top of a shirt collar, for Christmas, for my dog Leo.

Upon getting ready to purchase the collar, one of the team members came up to me and told me it was still unbelievable to him that people from all over the world would stop by the tent and pick one up for their pet.  He was so gracious and so passionate about not just the collars, but the business as a whole.  I had no idea that this tent was actually just a small part of the sales strategy for dharf.com – a growing international pet company that strives to make beautiful collars, leashes, harnesses, and other accessories for pets!

I left there so excited to put this on Leo, that it was hard to wait until Christmas.  Somehow, I survived.  If you’re looking for unique, custom pieces for your pets, check out their site – they ship internationally!  Leo certainly isn’t disappointed.

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Harold Black and B Too

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Anyone who knows me, knows I have a HUGE love of speakeasies.  A few weekends ago, we decided to try Harold Black, and we were definitely not disappointed.

Like most speakeasies, you either spend quite a bit of time looking for the entrance, or you look it up (like we did).  Below are the directions on how to find the speakeasy, including a video!

Directions: To the left Acqua al 2’s patio is a nondescript wooden door.  It looks as though it’s locked, but it’s not.  You go up the staircases, open another door, and up another staircase.  At the end of the hallway is a table with instructions.

Once inside, you’re transported into a genuine replica of a 1920s speakeasy.  From the furniture, to the lighting (which makes the atmosphere that much cooler), to the decor, and even the bathrooms, they left no detail out. (Note, bathroom lighting makes great selfie lighting 😛 )

As for the drinks/food – both are amazing.  We spent two hours tasting some of the appetizers, and each choosing two cocktails from the menu.  (The menu changes often enough that it’s hard to recommend anything.)

Out of the three I’ve been to in D.C. thus far, PX, Harold Black, and Captain Gregory’s I’d recommend, in that order.

B Too

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I’ve been to B Too before, but it was so good I had to come back! Bart Vandaele has created a Belgium concept that has become something of a staple in Logan Circle.  If you have ever been to Belgium, you know that there’s primarily two sides to the country: French and Dutch.  Known for mainly mussels, chocolate, and waffles, (and cheese on the dutch side), a lot of authentic Belgium food can seem bland.  Bart has managed to take many common dishes and put a tasteful flair to them.  It’s one of the reasons it’s so popular.  We ended up with a three course meal for each, and out of that, only one dish got a picture (we were so hungry, we sort of forgot).  Below are my recommendations:

Starters:

  • Salade Van Bietjes (Red beet salad) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Wafel Van Kreeft (Maine lobster waffle) – highly recommended

Main Dish:

  • Poulet Rôti Père Maurits (Roasted Amish chicken) – gluten-free – highly recommended
  • Belgische Filet Pur Met Friejtes (Center cut filet with fries) – The steak was decent but the fries were amazing!

Dessert:

  • S’mores dish (cannot remember the actual name of the dish) – Isn’t recommended – the waffle dessert is better
  • House made ice cream and sorbet – gluten-free – Isn’t recommended – I wasn’t a fan of the taste of any of the flavors

 

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Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Steve Martin and Martin Short at Wolftrap

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Two of the funniest men on the planet came to Wolftrap last Friday night, and it made for one of the best variety/comedy shows I’ve ever been to (and one of a start to the weekend).

Steve Martin and Martin Short are on their “An Evening You Will Forget for the Rest of Your Life” tour, and they had two back-to-back Wolftrap performances this past weekend, to sold out crowds.

From SNL, to “Father of the Bride”, to their individual performances in their own films; these two are are considered the epitome of classic sketch comedy that’s both relatable and appreciated at any age.  With their quick wit (cue Three Amigos skit with participating audience members, and Martin’s on-the-fly responses), their love of a good roast (Martin Short can deliver some great jabs), and physical comedic acting (both had their share); they prove that their talent is unique, as well as rare.

But, what made this show even more special, is Steve Martin’s love of Bluegrass.  His band, “Steep Canyon Rangers” delivered an amazing mini concert, some of which featured Steve’s unbelievable banjo playing skills.  All around, I laughed so hard I cried, I tapped my foot so hard it was sore, and I smiled so big my cheeks hurt.

If they come to your area, make sure to grab your tickets before they are sold out!

Check out some of my pictures below (excuse the graininess – we were in box seats high up).  Video was prohibited, so I couldn’t take any.

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Date Ideas, Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

Richard Marx and Rick Springfield at Wolftrap

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“… so after three days of recording the album with N’Sync, they had to sneak out the back door, because there were 800 girls waiting in the front, and I, not being known, went out the front… to my car… in the main parking lot. Out of no where, a smoking hot girl runs up to me and asks, ‘Are you Richard Marx?’ To which I reply, ‘Why yes I am!’  She responds with, ‘My mom LOVES you!’…” (Richard Marx on his age.)

This is just a small snippet of how wonderful the evening was with both Richard Marx and Rick Springfield.  They are (self-deprecating) funny, relaxed, and prove that they are still willing to tour, solely because they love their fans, and they love performing.  While I agreed to accompany my mom to see her longtime heartthrob (Rick Springfield), I found myself truly enjoying the show they put on separately, as well as together.  The entire thing was done acoustically.

Check out some of my videos and pictures below.  More videos can be found here.

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Events/Performances, Fun, Travel, United States

I Love the 90s Tour at Wolftrap

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A few weekends ago, I relived junior high school, high school, and college, all in one night, at Wolftrap.  When I heard a 90s tour with artists, such as Snap!, C+C Music Factory, Kid n’Play, Montell Jordan, Rob Base, TLC, and more were coming, I had to go.

The downside to going to these concerts is a. Realizing how old you are, and b. Realizing how old the artists are now, and how they no longer look exactly like they did in your childhood memories.  (To put it in perspective, Kid n’ Play’s “House Party” is 25 years old, and Kid is 53.)

The upside was that it was fun to hear the old songs again, and hear of what these artists are now up to.

Check out my videos and pictures below (more videos of each can be found here).

Snap!

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C+C Music Factory

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Montell Jordan

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Kid n’ Play

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Each of them were having so much fun… until…

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TLC

My mom and I left the concert after their second song, because it was that bad. T-Boz seemed incredibly unhappy to be there, and while Chili looked amazing, you could tell she was doing her best to carry the now duo.  They were singing along to recorded tracks – the whole thing was just awful.  I feel for them, but I’m unsure I’d recommend staying for their performance, or even going to one of their concerts.

Overall, it was a great night, and I’m so happy I got to relive the best part of that decade!

Date Ideas, Fun, Travel, United States

Date Night: Iron Gate and St. Yves

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This past weekend, in what felt like the first time in forever, my other half and I got out for date night.

As most of you know, I love trying new restaurants/bars/clubs in D.C., as there are so many, it’s practically impossible to repeat!  So, we ventured out to a D.C. favorite, and a new spot that just opened a month ago: Iron Gate and St. Yves.

“We’re Coming Here Often”

Is what I told my other half when we were half way through our meal at Iron Gate.  It’s on par with our favorite restaurant in Reykjavik, Grill Markadurinn, in terms of impeccable service, beautiful atmosphere, and absolutely incredible food.  In the case of Iron Gate, it celebrated my Greek/Sicilian roots with beautifully plated Mediterranean food.

The above are three of the five dishes we ordered, not realizing the meat and potatoes platter could have fed us for the night!  Pro tip: If you get the platter, order one more dish, per person, to try, or save room for dessert (which we didn’t get to).

As for drinks, both the Greek orange wine and rose were amazing!

St. Yves

St. Yves is a tough one to review, because the owners are friends of mine.  We attended a birthday party in the “Cloud Room”, before heading into the main room.  It might have been the sheer amount of people there for the birthday party however, the spaces were hard to move around in, the other clientele there (not part of the party) were a bit undesirable, and the sound system was far too loud for the space.  If you want to get a drink at the main bar, it’s not navigable with the large ramp (complete with railing) that takes up a lot of available foot space.  On a positive note, the decor is beautiful!  Pro tip: It’s great if you can rent the whole space out for just your party.

SO – my recommendation is to definitely try Iron Gate and perhaps, skip St. Yves if you’re looking for a club with elbow space and good music.

Events/Performances, Fun

Dreamscape Festival 2017

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I have never been to a music festival, as typically, larger crowds of people (for more than an evening or afternoon) aren’t my thing.  Friends of mine that have made this a side hobby, say that it makes you appreciate not just what you have in your own life, but those around you as well.  They weren’t wrong.

Naturally, the “stigma” associated with a festival, especially an EDM one, is that it’s drug and alcohol-fueled, which many chalk up to dangerous behaviors, and unsafe environments.  While the first two were present, the last two weren’t seen even once.  Instead, this is what I saw:

  • People dancing everywhere, smiling and laughing
  • These same people celebrating themselves and others, for who they are, not what they looked like
  • These same people bringing their artistic talents to life
  • These same people actually said “excuse me” or “I’m sorry” if they bumped into you (politeness)
  • More security than all rappers combined
  • Enough music in every direction to not feel as though you’re being overcrowded

Sure, there was a lot of people watching, and the majority of the festival-goers were not my brand of style.  However, there wasn’t a moment of feeling unsafe, judged, or otherwise bothered.

As for the Music

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My friends and I were there to support DJ MLEM, which if you are an avid reader of this blog, know who he is.  He played three sets in two days, which allowed us to not only spend time listening to his great mixes, but also allowed us to meet (and hear) some of the most talented EDM artists, such as Chris Lake, Destructo (thanks for letting me dance on the stage – I finally got to check something off my bucket list), Autograf, Keys n’ Krates, Bad Ginger, and many more.

Take a look at some of the videos from their performances below, as well as a slideshow of pics.  At the bottom of the post are some recommendations.

DJ MLEM and Julius Jetson B2B in the VIP Lounge

Chris Lake at City of Dreams, Hosted by Nu Androids

Keys n’ Krates on the Main Stage

Autograf at City of Dreams, Hosted by Nu Androids

Note: For a full set of Dreamscape videos, click here.

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Recommendations:

  • If possible, either book a cabin early or book a room at Days Inn Perryville.  The hotel is a 14-mile drive, but if you have a DD, it’s worth it.  It’s also about $70 a night.
  • The parking passes are $40
  • Get the open bar VIP package, skip the food (Super VIP package).  They never listed cafeteria times, so we always missed the food.  They have a food pavilion instead – you can also bring your own.
  • Take out lots of cash, and do it off site.  By Day 2, one of the ATMs was broken
  • Bring extra toilet paper, or even the travel rolls – you will thank me later
  • If you end up booking a room in Perryville, the Hollywood Casino is one mile away.  The Green Turtle restaurant is 24 hours.  (You could also win some cash like I did!)  Walking distance from that hotel is also Denny’s (breakfast) and a large Exxon Tiger Mart.
  • Bring a battery pack to charge your cell phone – one of the smartest things I did!
  • Definitely attend at least once – while it’s different than most festivals (so I’m told), the music was worth the attendance
Events/Performances, Fun

The Weekend Comes to the Verizon Center

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6lack warming up the crowd

(Note: There is an image slideshow at the end of this post.  All videos can be found on my YouTube channel.)

On Thursday, May 18th, 15,000 people were treated to a dance party by Belly, 6lack, The Weeknd, and some surprise guests, including Rae Sremmurd and Gucci Mane, to perform “Black Beatles”.

One to make an incredibly strong entrance, the crowd went positively insane when The Weeknd appeared in the middle of the runway stage, to perform “Starboy”.

His set list included all of the crowd’s favorite hits, including “Party Monster”, “Often”, “I Feel It Coming”, “Six Feet Under”, “I Can’t Feel My Face”, “Reminder”, and “Secrets” (amongst others).  Which, whenever he began another song, he had to shush the crowd, due to the deafening roar.

But the special touches are what made the show amazing – he performed along with a live band the whole time, which when you look at the overall stage shape, made you realize he was walking along a futuristic guitar.  The floating stage morphed into so many different origami-ish shapes, including a spaceship, a plane, and an X (amongst others).

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Overall, I kind of wished I had bought floor seats, as opposed to my 200-Level ones, as it would absolutely have been worth the ticket price.  If you’re on the fence about spending the money, do it!  If I had the chance to do it all over again, I would!  (Click here to access his tour dates.)

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