Got to be NC Festival is THIS WEEKEND!

Check out my post from last year’s festival here.

You won’t want to miss the Counter Clockwise String Band‘s performance on Saturday at 12:45pm! Come out to support NC agriculture and listen to some amazing bluegrass!IMG_1771

Holidays in NYC…Day 2

We woke up to bright sunshine on Saturday morning and were happy to start our day. Having one full day in NYC, we compromised and set out to explore, starting with our walk to Central Park. The wind let us know its presence as we followed the crowd to the skating rink, admiring the skyscrapers towering above us. We walked through a corner of the park, and realized how its 6.1 mile loop would be more than a breath of fresh air. Carriage rides, ice skating and a hot chocolate stand were a few of the sights that took the chill from the air, offering the city’s holiday spirit.

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As it neared lunch time, we tested our navigation skills and hopped onto the subway to head down and experience the culture of NYU and Union Square. We wandered the streets for a cozy eatery and stumbled across just what we needed, a Roman restaurant named Lupa Osteria Romana. While waiting for a table, we browsed the wine menu and chose an enticing Caraffina Di Vino Rosso.

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We didn’t mind waiting while we immersed ourselves in the savory aromas of the kitchen and were warmed by the friendliness of the staff. Once we were seated, appetizers such as Lingua (beef tongue), Prosciutto and marinated olives were ordered. We smiled and embraced the delicate textures and magnificent flavors of these fine hors d’oeuvres.

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For my main dish, I chose the Sabato special, the Heritage Pork Porterhouse.  This tender and juicy cut of meat was exactly what my palate desired. Topped with gorgeous, deep green kale and sweet butternut squash this meal was hands-down my favorite of the city. I would recommend anyone to seek out this warm and sustainable restaurant nestled in the heart of NYU.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening wandering the streets and holiday markets surrounding Union Square. It was soon time to enjoy our final meal in the big city. Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy Park was another spectacular find with a menu of local meat, seafood and veggies. This restaurant felt more like a home as its dark wood and wallpapered panels, candle lit tables and warm fireplaces surrounded us. Baskets with colorful vegetables greeted us at the top of the stairs while we settled in to enjoy yet another exceptional meal. The chef’s special of grilled grouper with steamed vegetables was my choice for the evening.

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To wrap up the night, we hailed a cab to take in the energy at Times Square. For most of us, it was our first experience to the notorious New Year’s Eve destination. We took a few minutes to embrace the sights and sounds of the enormous screens, bright lights, yellow taxis and tourists photographing this iconic attraction.

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On Sunday we packed up and made our way to Macy’s Herald’s Square just before claiming our seats on the train for our ride home.

Visiting New York City during the holidays was surely an experience to remember. I am thankful for good friends who I joined in sampling….ok, perhaps indulging, in the local cuisine. It is great to know that a city full of energy, phenomenal food and astounding sites is just a train ride away. Cheers to a spectacular weekend in the Big Apple!

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Holidays in NYC

Here we are, in the 3rd week of January and the New Year is well upon us. We have taken down our Christmas decorations and have stored them as the joy and excitement we experienced with our friends and family just 4 weeks ago, is in our distant past. The holidays bring with them lights, energy, travel and good food. Why not experience this all year round?

New York City is one of those cities where the energy fills the air no matter what time of year or what temperature. I was lucky enough to be able to experience this glamorous city during the holidays with great company.

Our three-day weekend started out with a six-hour train ride to the Big Apple. When we arrived at Penn Station, we were greeted with the hustle and bustle of the city, along with rain and cold temps. A little rain didn’t stop us as we made our way to the hotel, and then headed out to explore the city.

Our first destination was Rockefeller Plaza. As we rounded the corner with our umbrellas in hand, the brightly lit tree brought a smile to my face. We ventured into a wine bar, located right across from the tree in Rockefeller Plaza called Morrell Wine Bar and Cafe. As we browsed the enormous wine list, I settled on a glass of fruit forward French wine from Côtes du Rhône. A warm plate of olives and shaved Brussels sprouts with Applewood smoked bacon were a magnificent treat as we planned our Saturday itinerary.

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Our next stop was to Tiffany’s…. Need I say more? Although a few pieces were quite tempting, simply observing the gems was quite the experience.

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To end the evening, we headed over to Radio City Music Hall, where we had tickets for the 9:30pm showing of The Radio City Christmas Spectacular. Believe me, it absolutely was a spectacular show! The Rockettes, alongside the parade of wooden soldiers, the telling of the Christmas Story with live camels and donkeys and 3D glasses, what more could one ask for?  It truly was an unforgettable experience inside this iconic music hall.

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Stay tuned for day 2 adventures!

Part 2 – Oregon Wine Tasting

In search of an urban winery, we googled ‘Portland wineries’ in Nicole’s neighborhood and found SouthEast Wine Collective. We walked into an eclectic tasting room, which essentially was a wine bar. The room had a glass window as a wall, to let wine tasters view the wine production first hand. Harvest time was in full swing and we were told the wine makers were making sure they planned their grape picking precisely. This winery was a collection of wine makers and growers from seven different vineyards around the Portland area. We met one of the co-owners and her adorable Labrador (Cass), who greeted everyone at the door. This “supervisor” even has a wine named after him, Red Collar Pinot Noir.

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The wine menu featured an extensive variety of choices for the consumer. I was delighted to see I had the option of a ‘surprise’ flight of wine. I was quite intrigued by one Pinot Noir the bartender chose for me, as it was a wine from another winery in downtown Portland, Hip Chicks do Wine. This will be the next tasting room I will visit whenever I have the chance to travel back.The wine caught me off guard as it had an aroma of a distilled wine, such as Port or Sherry. The nose was magnificent. As I sipped, notes of black cherry and plums filled my mouth and left my taste buds wanting more.The tannins lingered long after.

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As this trip came to a close, I left with a new appreciation for Oregon wines and the wine makers who work so diligently to make sure their wines turn out to be local and nationwide favorites. With multiple vineyards and tasting rooms just a few miles apart from each other, it gives visitors many opportunities to learn, smell and taste what makes a remarkable glass of wine. I’m happy I was able to share these experiences with a close friend and fellow gastronome.Thanks Nicole for your hospitality!

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