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Spa Weekend in Bedford Springs

30 Mar

This past weekend one of my good friends, Sara, from my Philly days and I got together for a spa weekend in Bedford Springs.  We did this same trip last year, I have to say, we’ve got this relaxing thing down.

We met on Friday at the resort and after lunch headed to the tasting room of a local winery, Briar Valley Vineyard and Winery.  We had gone here last year and had a nice time so decided to go again.  We did the full menu wine tasting, which is super reasonable at only $5, and they have a very generous tasting pour.  I ended up getting three bottles to take home, two reds (Cab Fran and Lemberger) and a Chardonnay because it was rather tasty.  All of their wines lean toward the dry side.  I would totally recommend stopping in this store if you are heading to Bedford for the spa, it’s a fun stop before the Omni.

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At the resort, there are only three restaurants, two of them are what I’d call more formal while the third, the Frontier Tavern is very casual.  For lunch and dinner the first day we opted for the Frontier Tavern.  We grabbed lunch there before we went to the winery.  I think it was a good call to eat a little before drinking at 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  Sara loves to share food, which makes me happy because I’m the same way.  You get to try more if you share!!  So we split a chicken sandwich and this awesome lobster cobb salad with green goddess dressing.  It was fantastic.

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For dinner, we weren’t especially hungry so we opted for a cheese plate…

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Some fried crab fritters (which honestly were more like hush puppies).  I was expecting more crab I suppose.

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And of course we got a bottle of wine 🙂

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Because drinking at the winery and then again in the room before dinner wasn’t enough!  There was a drinking trend this weekend.

We then headed to bed… partly because we were tired and also because we had our spa day ahead of us on Saturday!  In the morning we had a late breakfast at the buffet in the Crystal Dining Room before our appointments at 1.  It was such a great morning, I slept til 8:30 got my workout in early and had a great breakfast all before my spa appointments!

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Ok, on to the good part, the spa…  I had a massage and a facial.  Both of which I loved.  First we get to relax in the spa pool, which I almost fell asleep in because it was so warm and comfy with the jets going.  Then my favorite part, the massage, it was so lovely.  I think next time I do something like this, I’d skip the facial (even though it was very nice) and just do a longer massage.  When my masseuse told me that my hour long session was done I was so sad, I could have stayed for another hour.  One of my friends asked me how I was doing on Saturday night and I told him that I felt like jello, because that was the only word I could come up with to describe how relaxed I was.  It was so nice.

We had dinner reservations in the 1796 room that night for dinner.  So after our spa day, we went back to the room and had a few glasses of wine that we had brought while we got ready for dinner.  The last time we were there I really enjoyed my meal there and was so looking forward to it again.  Sara and I started with this Seafood Tower for 2, it was hysterical (and very good).  There were a few crab legs, one lobster tail, a few shrimp and some tuna ceviche.  I loved that tuna, I seriously could have had that for my meal.

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Since we got such a large starter, I opted to stick with the Seafood theme and got the fish special which was tuna (and I made that decision before I had the ceviche).  It was prepared simply and was done rare.  I loved it, it was very good and light enough for me since I was still feeling jello-ish from my massage!

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Sara went with the beef tenderloin which I got a bite of.  It was a very nice piece of beef and was served with their house-made steak sauce and a grilled artichoke heart.

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We were pretty full after all of that, but our server mentioned a nutella cupcake, and there was no way we were turning that down, so we decided to share one and took it to-go.  First we went back to our room to get some more wine (because a bottle with dinner and some drinks while getting ready was clearly not enough).  It’s fun to drink wine out of to-go coffee cups with the sippy lids on.

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So we got our drinks and took our cupcake down to the lobby area to relax by the fireplace. So this cupcake had nutella and banana chips, two of my favorite things that I never buy.  Sara was super sweet and gave me the banana chip on top.

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This was so good.  Words honestly can’t do it justice.

After the massage and that cupcake and the wine, this was a lovely end to the day…

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Sadly, good things like this must come to an end.  So after a workout in the morning while Sara got a manicure in preparation for her upcoming wedding (3 weeks!!!) and a quick breakfast, we hit the road.  And it was snowing.  Mother Nature and I are going to have some serious words after this winter, she’s going to drive me south again with this nonsense.

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Ft. Lauderdale Vacation

8 Sep

I went to Ft. Lauderdale for the first time this past weekend to celebrate my friend Jen’s birthday!  I flew in and Jen and another friend Tracy drove down from Orlando.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ft. Lauderdale, I was expecting a little more pretentiousness than I got (and I was happily surprised).  Either way, I knew that I’d have a great time with these two ladies.

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We got there on Thursday afternoon and after checking into our beautiful hotel (the Westin Beach Resort) we headed out the door in search of a very late lunch.  Just out the door to the left, we kind of went in the first place that we found.  It was called the Deck Restaurant and Lounge.  Knowing nothing, we just went there because they had outdoor seating looking at the beach and there were more than 4 people eating there.  It was basically beach bar food.  Fish sandwiches and such.  I got a lobster burger that was really good and Tracy and Jen shared a grilled fish sandwich and a salad.  It was fine, nothing to write home about but someplace that provided what I needed at the time, food and a frosty drink!

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We decided to go to a movie on Thursday night since neither Jen or Tracy had been to see one in a while.  We saw Blue Jasmine.  I’ll do a separate post on it later this week.

On Friday it was beautiful so we got up and after a very nice buffet breakfast at Shula’s (in our hotel) we headed for the beach.  Around 1 or so we decided to head up to the pool for a drink and a snack to tide us over until dinner.  The pool bar/restaurant, Waves, had fun drinks and a bar menu.  We opted to share a quesadilla and I got myself a Miami Vice (part Pina Colada and part strawberry daquiri).

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After the sun hid behind the building, we went upstairs to get ready for our night out.  After an adventure with a new taxi driver and trying to go to a place that our breakfast server had told us about that turned out to be less than great, we found Los Olas Blvd and lots of restaurants.  We really wanted sushi and after the recommended place was a bust we had to search one out.  Luckily, Tracy stopped some locals to ask where to go and they pointed us to Wildeast Asian Bistro.

We had their tempura fried dragon, Korean Tuna, Pineapple Tropic, Volcano and Salmon Cali rolls.  They were all amazing.  I wasn’t sure I’d be all that into the Pineapple one, it had grilled pineapple chunks on top.  It was fantastic.  Of course I forgot to take a picture until we’d already dug in!

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So that is truly, the aftermath.  We really liked everything, it was all super fresh and the service was really good.

After dinner, we went searching for a place to have a drink or two.  The first place we tried had good music, but was so crowded we couldn’t even find a place to stand at the bar (what I refer to as too hot).  The next place had a blues singer and was in this cute little hotel, but we were the youngest people in the bar by about 30 years and there weren’t many people at all.  So after one glass of wine, we left that place (what I’ll refer to as too cold).  We didn’t want to walk too far, and happened upon this lounge/restaurant Voodka.

I’ll call this place just right (after too hot and too cold).  It wasn’t very busy yet (it was still kinda early, before 10 pm).  The decor was very nice, they had candelabra’s at the dinner tables and comfy huge leather couches around tables in the bar area in addition to high tops and bar seats.  We opted for the comfy leather couches!  Our server ended up being one of the bartenders.  He was really fun and recommended some awesome drinks.  We each choose drinks from the cocktail menu for the first round.  They were all really good, I got an Acai berry cocktail (that isn’t on their new menu, they literally changed it today I think).  It was fruity but not too sweet and very refreshing.  Since our server was kinda looking at us funny when I took this picture:

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Tracy told him that I had a food blog.  So he told us that for our next round he’d make us something from the new menu!

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So for the second round he gave me what I think is the Cucumber Ginger Chill.  It was very well done and again was very refreshing.  The cucumber flavor is subtle and goes really well with the lemon and ginger flavors.  I’m not sure which one he gave to Tracy, but it had some great fall flavors.  It just had some warmer flavors in it and was also excellent.

Saturday was our last full day there and it was overcast (boooo).  After another great breakfast at Shula’s, we went shopping then headed home to get ready for dinner at YOLO.  Yet another great meal in a very nice restaurant.  We started with their szechual calamari, which our server said was a house specialty.  It was sweet and spicy and cooked perfectly.  I often find calamari way too chewy, but this was done perfectly.  I remembered to take a picture before we killed the whole plate this time.

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Tracy ordered the salmon and it had this shallot fennel mixture on top that was just amazing with the salmon.  I think it was basically caramelized fennel and shallot.

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Jen ordered the nightly fish special, swordfish with a great tomato sauce and orzo.  It was very light and flavorful.

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I opted for Coriander-Seaweed crusted Tuna.  It was cooked perfectly and served with noodles, kimchi, bok choy in a shitake miso broth.  It was really well done and I loved the presentation.

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The whole meal was just fabulous.  Since this was Jen’s birthday dinner, we debated getting desert there, but we remembered seeing an Italian bakery/gelato place down the road so went in search of that instead.

I unfortunately can’t remember the name of it, but it was about 3-4 blocks down the street (toward the ocean) from YOLO.  I got a caramel gelato to eat there and got this yummy goodness to take back to the room to share.

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It’s tiramisu and a mini canoli.  It’s hard to tell in the picture, but that canoli is about 3 bites, just enough for one bite each.  The tiramisu was really good.  The cake was very light.  As Tracy and Jen pointed out, often tiramisu can feel heavy if the lady fingers have absorbed too much espresso.  I loved the canoli.  I’m not usually a huge canoli fan, but the filling in this was very light, I really enjoyed my one bite!

We had to say goodbye Sunday morning unfortunately.  I saw about 20 other places that I really wanted to try while I was there.  Ft. Lauderdale is definitely a place I’d like to visit again!

Viva Las Vegas

18 Jul

This past weekend I went to Vegas with two of my very good girlfriends to celebrate some birthdays (Kirra and Maura).

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There was a lot of very good food, lots of drinks, some awesome shows and a little gambling.  And no freaking sleep.  I swear to you, they pump oxygen into the hotels there to keep people up and at it.  Between that, the lights and the noise, I pretty much operated on the tiniest bit of sleep the whole time, but it was Vegas 🙂

We got there on Wednesday evening and after checking into our gorgeous hotel, Aria, we got ready for the night!  We went to a restaurant in Aria called Julian Serrano which featured small plates with a Spanish influence.  We decided to all get salads and then share some other small plates.  I got a pretty standard salad that was very good.  Maura ordered this interesting number though, it was so pretty she was almost afraid to dig in.

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That was basically the crouton wrapped around the salad.

Kirra and I shared sea bass with a donostiarra sauce. I’ve never had that sauce before and I can’t even find out exactly what it is online, but it was phenomenal.  We also ordered wild mushroom risotto that was to die for and short ribs.

We then headed next door for some drinks at the Cosmopolitan.  I decided to stick with wine, so nothing fancy there, but one of the girls we met up with got a cosmo that she said was one of the best she’s had.

Around 2 we figured we should try to get some sleep… fail.  You’ll see a pattern soon.

I’m pretty sure we were all up by 8 am even though I laid there trying to will myself back to sleep.  We were meeting 3 other girls there along with some of Kirra’s family.  While Kirra went to have breakfast with her family and gamble a bit, three of us headed down for an early lunch.  Even simple Vegas food I found to be excellent.  I got a panini for lunch with chicken, caramllized onions, pesto, some other stuff I can’t remember and it was awesome.

We then spent the day sitting poolside while I avoided getting burned while sitting on the sun.  Actually, it wasn’t too hot the days I was there.  Don’t get me wrong, the pool felt great, but I once lived in Florida, so I was okay.

After getting my fill of the sun, I went in to try to learn blackjack a little better.  I lost $80 in like 10 minutes.  So very sad.  After that it was time to go and get ready for our big night out.  Chippendale night!

The show was at the Rio so we decided to eat there.  We weren’t sure where we’d end up going to eat but decided that an Italian place named Martorano’s right next to the theater would be good.  It was an interesting experience to say the least.  Part club, part restaurant.  The music was so loud, you couldn’t really hear the people across the table.  They also had a movie playing, Casino, and occasionally they would play the sound from a particular scene.  It was just weird.  The food was really good, but that’s just not my style of dining, it was very distracting. This was the chicken dish that I got, it had a lot of cheese on it as you can see!

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However, once that was over, we got to see some really good looking guys dance and take their clothes off.  Now I’ll be the first to tell you that male strippers are usually super creepy.  These guys were not.  Maybe it’s because Ian Ziering of 90210 fame was in the show.  Maybe it’s because they were all superbly built and hot.  Maybe it’s because there were over 200 screaming women in the room having a good time.  Either way, it was seriously a blast.  And we got to talk to Ian after the show and get a picture with him.  And I got my picture with these two 🙂

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We then went back to our hotel and had some drinks at a lounge.  It was a nice relaxing end to a rather exciting evening.  Maura and I decided we were starving around 2 and went to the 24 hour cafe for some pizza, also very good, especially given the time of day it was.  Then we went to attempt to sleep.  Fail again.

Around 10 on Saturday we just headed straight to the pool to get a good spot.  We just ate pool side and I got an oriental salad that was very refreshing and light, which is what I really wanted.  I also got a ridiculously large and fruity drink.  It was part strawberry daiquiri part pina colada.  It was sweet and silly and awesome.

I was super excited for dinner and the show we were seeing that night.  We went to Jean Georges Steakhouse.  It was fantastic.  I started by sharing a tomato and mozzarella salad that was simple and fantastic at the same time.

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I ordered the 8 oz fillet and had it cooked medium rare.  Jen is cringing right now.  It was like cutting through butter.  I also ordered a side of mashed potatoes with black truffles that I couldn’t finish and felt super sad about.  One of the other people at dinner ordered macaroni and cheese with truffles that was also phenomenal.

After that we went to see a relatively new Cirque du Soleil show, Zarkana.  I pretty much sat through the whole show with my mouth hanging open and my eyes super wide on the edge of my seat.  It was fantastic and we had awesome seats.

We went and had a few drinks and gambled a bit then I decided to play a little electronic roulette.  I turned $20 into $78 and then turned that back into $25.  It’s a talent.  We were all so exhausted that we tried to get to sleep at a decent time and I did manage to sleep from about 2 until 8.

Alas, Sunday was our last day in Vegas and we headed to the airport in a limo courtesy of one of the girls we were there with.

I have to thank Kirra for planning such a great vacation.  I met some awesome people (Amy, Danielle and Missy), saw two great shows, ate some really amazing food and just in general had a great relaxing time away.  This is definitely a trip I’d like to make again.

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