Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fall Excursions

MW has pointed out that I've been failing miserably at my regular posting duties. My excuse is that Rocktober was an extremely busy month for us! So here's a recap for all our fans:

MW took me on a beautiful weekend to the mountains of Asheville to see the comedian Louis CK. As a result, we may have found our future home. We arrived on friday night in time to get a beer and a hummus appetizer at the Asheville Bier Garden before running over to the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
Louis was hilarious and we had a great time laughing together. I am lucky to have someone to share so many of my interests.

After the show, we stopped by Asheville Brewing Company where we gorged ourselves on gigantic made-to-order pizza slices with fresh toppings. I ordered a Rocket Girl, which was crisp, sweet and a little fruity. Not my usual go to brew, but it was refreshing and enjoyable. The brewery was a little off the beaten path of the friday night crowd but it was perfect for us to sit and talk about the show.

The next morning we slept in a little and woke to a perfect fall day. The leaves were just starting to change, the sky was completely clear, and the weather was crisp- my favorite kind of day!

We spent some time exploring downtown. We were lucky enough to find a cheaper hotel right in the middle of downtown and were able to walk everywhere. It was the weekend of Oktoberfest, so there was quite a crowd milling about downtown. We opted not to participate in Oktoberfest, since there are so many independent breweries in Asheville that we wanted to visit. 

(The Grove Arcade)
We spent a little time walking around the Grove Arcade and even bought some apples from a small market inside. The Grove Arcade was commissioned and built by E.W. Grove (who also built the Grove Park Inn) and was the center of commercial and civic life for over a decade in Western NC. It now houses small shops and local artists. The architecture is stunning and definitely worth some time if you're in the area. 

MW took me to brunch at a lovely small diner called Early Girl Eatery.
We sat at a "community table," a long table in the middle of the dining area where small groups of people can sit together. Since we were on vacation, we started the meal with some mimosas. 

My tummy was bothering me a bit that morning, so instead of having the usual morning goodness, I ordered house-made granola and yogurt with fruit.

MW ordered eggs with fried smashed potatoes covered in a tomato aioli sauce. 
We both had the local pork sausage, which was deliciously spicy without being too rich. 
My granola was good and it filled me up without upsetting my stomach more, but I still felt like I missed out on the eggs and potatoes. Next time!

After lunch we immediately began our tour of the local breweries, starting with LAB (or Lexington Avenue Brewery). Located right downtown, LAB had a cool vibe to it. The entire front wall is made of garage doors, which they had open since it was so nice out. 

I had a sampler to get a taste of all their beers. 

While we were at LAB, my best friend EK called to meet up with us. She lives in Asheville and I (regretfully) do not see her often. We decided to freshen up and meet her at our hotel so she could take us to another brewery. 


EK took us to The Wedge in South/West Asheville. It was a little outside of downtown, and definitely not a place we would have found on our own. But it was by far my favorite brewery we visited. 

It consisted largely of outside space with a few chairs on a patio and some tables in the yard. Inside was just a small bar area with hardly any stools and a bathroom. 

The yard had cool ironwork art

We nabbed a table in the yard and chilled hard for a few hours. 

All the tap handles were cute. 
We stayed until it was dark, catching up with EK and enjoying some pitchers of well-made beer. 
The Wedge was so relaxed and was more our pace than typical packed tight bars on a saturday evening. 

After a while, we got pretty hungry and MW had planned to take me to the well known Asheville staple:  Tupelo Honey Cafe
MW is going to kill me when he reads this, but somehow the pictures I took on my iPhone were lost when I upgraded to iOS5. Total sad face. 

At Tupelo, they serve you outrageously good scratch made biscuits with Tupelo Honey and marmalade to spread as liberally as you desire. This, my friends, is food heaven. I ordered a BBQ plate at the recommendation of our server and it did not disappoint. The BBQ was tender and literally fell apart as it hit my tongue. It wasn't too saucy, either. I hate when bad BBQ is compensated for with too much sauce. It also came with a cob of corn full of butter and parmesan cheese.

I would eat there everyday. The bad part is, they don't take reservations, so wait time for us was 2 hours on a late Saturday night. But it was completely worth the wait and I can't wait to go another time!
We spent the rest of the night catching up with EK as one of her friend's played some music with a small band at Craggie's, another small brewery. It was a lot of fun and the band was great. 

It was hard to leave on Sunday morning, but Sunny Point Cafe made it a little better. I had the house Breakfast Sandwich: "Roasted tomatoes, maple black pepper bacon, a small sharp cheddar cheese omelette, and chipotle aioli served on a buttery croissant  with stone ground chipotle cheese grits." This was the biggest breakfast sandwich I've ever had. And it was out of this world! MW ordered a "mighty good breakfast" with 2 eggs, local sausage, and herb tossed spuds. I was envious of his sausage and he, recognizing this, lovingly shared half of his sausage with me! That's called real love. It was a nice way to end a wonderful trip with a few minutes to spend with each other before getting back to work/homework/life distractions. 

to be continued...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Part Three

Did you miss me? I know you've been waiting with bated breath, asking "What happened in part three??"

We awoke from night two of the Gorge, a little grungy, very hungry, and totally satisfied. We roused ourselves to get moving and fueled up on the nectar of the gods:

On the way home, we stopped for breakfast, in all our dirty glory. 

My breakfast burrito was gigantic. 
No, I was not able to finish it, but I did try.

We showered up at EMC's place and then headed to Seattle for dinner at Umi Sake, a hip sushi place in the heart of Belltown. A first for MW and a stretch for myself, having only ever had a meek california roll from Whole Foods. 
I tried some Sake (it was fun, but not better than beer)

My roll had yellowtail and some cilantro and some type of spicy sauce. 
At first, the texture of the fish was new and something to get used to, 
but the flavors were so bold and harmonic. 

So good I stuffed my mouth.

MW got a california roll and this spectacular tempura shrimp roll (called a Crunchy Seattle)

He loved the tempura.

EMC's dragon roll was a beast. 

But she ate it like a champ. 

We even made a new friend from a nearby table who was interested in EMC's sushi roll. 
Sharing is caring, people. 

After dinner we parted ways with EMC (we promise to visit again!!) and made our way to our fantastic hotel right in the middle of downtown: Executive Hotel Pacific
This cute little boutique hotel has small but comfortable rooms that were totally affordable for us. 
It was a great way to stay in downtown without paying a fortune. 

We crashed hard that night, but got up early to start a day of touristing! We got dressed and grabbed coffee from the Seattle's best on the main level of the hotel before heading out for a morning stroll to our breakfast location. Of course, before the trip, MW investigated local restaurants to give us optimal dining experience. This morning's decadent breakfast was at Lola, a trendy restaurant owned by Tom Douglas, a surprisingly burly Seattle chef turned Restauranteur. 

We started with a mimosa (me) and bloody mary (MW)

Everything on the menu sounded delicious. Normally I would order eggs with toast and sausage, but there was a creamy, steel-cut oatmeal on the menu that just sounded perfect with cinnamon, cream, strawberry compote, and sugared almond clusters. I still wanted to try the House Made Pork-Maple Sausage though, so I got it on the side. 

MW got the usual eggs with toast and sausage, 
plus the cutest little smashed garlic-fried potatoes

My oatmeal was heaven. So creamy and wonderful!
I've attempted to replicate it with no luck. 

So glad I got the sausage, but it was way too savory to finish!

They had homemade donuts on the menu, so obviously we had to have dessert.
Pure Fluffy goodness. 

It was definitely one of my favorite meals of the trip. It stuffed fueled us up for a day of walking! We stayed in the North end of Seattle exploring Belltown and Pike Place Market. 

(where's MW?)

MW had his fortune told

We scoped out some cool graffiti

And also a gum wall

This furniture gallery had tables made from large cuts of trees and they were beautiful. 

We managed to find this speakeasy we had read about called Bathtub Gin  & Co. 
It wasn't open until later, but we made sure to come back. 

I love this shot of the city. Seattle was more hilly than I had expected. 
I think we visited during the only sunny week- not a drop of rain!

This cute couple made me a little teary. 
And then I giggled at the cheek cup.

MW found the Space Needle

There was a cool art park near the pier that we spent some time walking through

(this is an aluminum tree- look at how life like it is!)

We checked out the space needle up close (but didn't go up in it)

We got a little silly with the art nearby.

Per EMC's recommendation, we checked out Lush, an all-natural body care store. 
I'm obsessed. They had this little ingredients bar where you could MAKE YOUR OWN. 
This was the only picture taken there as I was too busy rubbing myself with lotion bars and smelling bath bombs. 

After walking all day long, or breakfast from Lola's was depleted and we needed some refueling. 
Being craft brew lovers, we made our way to Pike Pub & Brewery, located in the heart of Pike Place Market, for some brew and nachos. 

I got a sampler, while MW had the double IPA. 
It was the creamiest double IPA I've ever had. 

My sampler went fast...

We sat right next to a brew tin that's actually in use. 

For dessert we ordered a Framboise Float- a raspberry lambic (beer) with vanilla gelato. 
It sounds strange, but it was so good!

The market was still pretty lively at night. 
We made our way back to the speakeasy, and it was such a good decision. 
The door was wide open, so we walked in and had a few. 

It was dimly lit and a very relaxed atmosphere inside, 
so I had to sneak a couple non-flash shots of our drinks

Our bill- how fun!

That night we crashed hard. I think I fell asleep while brushing my teeth. We slept solidly but woke up the next morning for another day of walking! This time, we explored the south side, walking down to CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field. 

By the time we reached SoDo, the industrial district of Seattle, where the fields were I was famished and quickly headed toward Hangry. MW used Yelp to look up some sandwich shops and found a local place called SoDo deli. It was still a couple blocks away, so we garnered our strength and kept walking. The result was some good local sandwich shop lovin. It was the kind of neighborhood place where you go regularly for lunch, and the owners know you by name and serve up some good grub. 

MW built his own 'wich and had a beer on the side. 

This was the best meatball sub I've ever had. 
Maybe it tasted better because I was famished, but I doubt that. 
Looking at this makes me hungry again...

We walked around a bit more after lunch, but the sky was overcast and the streets were eerily deserted. So we hopped the light rail and rode it back north a few stops and got off by Pyramid Brewery. 

Pyramid was good, but definitely the most commercialized of the Breweries we went to. 
They have prime location for games, so if I were a seattle resident going to a game, this would definitely be my first stop. 

 We also checked out Elysian Fields, since it was also in the neighborhood. 
I got another sampler here and really enjoyed the variety of tastes. I also enjoyed picking the beers for my sampler. Their Dragonstooth Stout was velvety smooth and had a nice strong coffee and dark chocolate flavor. 

Look at all those tap handles!

Love their brew names. 

They had some pretty cool fish tanks, which MW enjoyed. 

On our journey back to downtown, we passed through Occidental Park

MW tapped his inner primate

I thought he just wanted a hug

Finally! The hotel!
We spruced up and proceeded to go on a romantic dinner date.

The Market at night is really quite beautiful

MW researched dinner locations before even arriving in Seattle. 
We easily decided on the Pink Door, an Italian Restaurant in Post Alley

It really does have a pink door

How Handsome!

The food was immaculate. MW had this yummy plate of fresh pasta and bolognese.

I had the house lasagna with fresh spinach pasta layered with besciamella, pesto and topped with marinara sauce. It was outrageously good and very, very rich.  

We sat on the patio which overlooked Puget Sound. 

With dessert, MW got me this delightful Art Tea. 
It comes with a little flower and as the flower steeps, it opens and you know it's ready. 

Voila! It was subtle but beautiful. 

It was one of the most romantic dinners we've had and I am lucky to have someone special enough to share it with. I look forward to many more dinners and trips to come as we continue to build our life together. 

We departed on Wednesday, a week after arriving. We dragged ourselves out of bed and down the street for some bagel sandwiches (a favorite in our household). 

I savored sitting at a window bar and watching the people in the street one last time. 

We walked north again and saw this game of chess. 
It livened my soul. 

One of the few pictures of both of us. 
As you can see by the yellow bag, MW took me back to Lush 
and proceeded to shower me with lovely things. 
I sure am a lucky girl. 

 I won't even go into the drama, but suffice it to say we severely underestimated the time it would take to reach the airport by light rail and ended up running like wild children through the airport, cutting lines at security, then realizing we were at the wrong end of the airport and running, with arms loaded, all the way to the other end as our plane was scheduled to leave. 
But fate was good to us and we arrived at the gate just as the last few people were boarding. 
As we settled into our seats, I enjoyed scanning back through all the great memories and hoping for a chance to come back in the future. 
(Mt. Ranier)