Out With The Old

Karma is a bitch, I learned that lesson. In my past entries (and in person), I have bragged about the ah-mazing weather San Francisco has been having. Sunny days and no fog, which is extremely rare for this time of the year.

Our governor called a drought emergency and it is affecting our agriculture and food prices might go up. That is one small thing on a big list including water rationing and a lot of farmer’s jobs being affected. Yikes.

To play a small part in my local economy, I joined two of my friends for dinner at Tosca Cafe. (humor me)

Located in the historical North Beach district, it is just down the street from San Francisco’s own mini flatiron style building. I tried to get a great picture of this unique beauty, but it was overshadowed by our much larger and pointier Transamerica Building.

PS: The Caesar Salad was created in this green flatiron back when the ground level restaurant was called ‘Caesars’. You are welcome, rest of the world.

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The history of Tosca Cafe is unlike no other and I wanted to share with you the significance of dining/having a drink here.

It originally opened before the Prohibition era, then they closed the restaurant down and kept the bar open during the 60s. After going through highs and an extremely long low, the owner was going to evict the owners last year until (the) Sean Penn stepped in and had his New York restauranteur friend, along with Michelin starred Chef April Bloomfield, take over and revamp this historic piece of San Francisco.

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The interior is quintessential old-school San Francisco; it is iconic enough for the new owners to spend $1.5 million in renovation to ensure that the restaurant looked almost exactly the same. I can only imagine the likes of The Rat Pack hanging out here when touring in this little city by the bay.

Nice change from the hipster or industrial feel that is slowly making its way through every redesign.

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Two of San Francisco’s famous food bloggers Ben and Sandy asked me to tag along to one of their monthly dining escapades and I was thrilled to check off one restaurant on my ever-growing list.

Chef Bloomfield is known for her use of the whole animal, so it was no surprise that we start off with the crispy pig tails. These were the perfect opener and what little meat that was under the crispy skin was fantastic.

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My second time eating crab was a success with this in-season Dungeness crab salad. Although I only had a bite, I was not icked out with any seafood flavors and the dressing was delightful.

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My favorite part of the dining experience was being able to sit in front of the open kitchen and see the chef work her magic. The only thing that looked modern about this place was the stainless steel appliances and it felt like a warm fireplace in the center of a cozy and bustling restaurant.

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Although it is the worst lit picture, the winner of the night was the house made bucatini pasta with tomato, guanciale and chili. Sandy told me that there was a tiny hole in the middle of the pasta that gave the texture a bit of hollowness. If I could get my pasta to come out this al dente every time, I would never have to go out and eat again.

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Every restaurant has their off the menu specials and the next dish is one of them. These meatballs were made of beef, pork and guanciale and what surprised me was the kick at the end of every bite. It goes without saying that the sauce was the star, with ingredients such as marjoram and chilies.

PS: I broke out my meat grinder for the first time today, woohoo! It was a success. I used a chuck and brisket combination to make burgers tonight and saved half for meatballs tomorrow. Hopefully they will come out at least in the ballpark of Tosca’s, I know I have a lot to compete with.

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If there is one thing that people are whispering about, it is the roasted chicken for two. This succulent half chicken (feet included) sits on top of a toasted levain spread with ricotta and pine nuts. The marsala sauce was the perfect dipping sauce for the potatoes below.

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I do not understand how the staff was able to get the potatoes so crispy, yet have the inside so creamy. Perhaps I need to start cooking in pork fat, because these were a delight. I am sure the rosemary and garlic did a big part in the flavor as well.

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The penultimate picture is a vegetable dish, a cauliflower gratin baked with fingerling potatoes, taleggio and parsley breadcrumbs. I thought it was a bit too heavy but that did not stop me from having seconds.

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I always like getting a desert to leave a sweet taste in my mouth, so when Sandy suggested we try the buttermilk gelatin, I obliged.

It was a flavor I was not accustomed to: sweet with a tangy backsplash. I enjoyed my two bites, although I could not find myself buying a whole carton of this gelati.

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This sign fits right in with Broadway, our mini red-light district, right around the corner. IMG_8847.jpg

I start school on Monday, where has time gone? Somebody must of sped up the days in this past month because I am not ready to kick into crazy/obsessed/can’t sleep at night student mode.

Two things I would like to implement for the next four months:

– A strict study schedule to get all As again. (biochemistry, I am eyeing you and I am going to kick your ass)

– Only eating out on the weekends like a normal human being.

– Perhaps a 2x/week blogging schedule. M/Th, one restaurant and one recipe. What do you think?

Also, the FAOT birthday giveaway ends tomorrow night. Make sure to enter for a $50 gift card to a grocery store/restaurant of your choice!

Oh, New York

I am currently flying back to San Francisco and was given complimentary WiFi (thank you!), so I wanted to pop in and type up a list of this-and-thats from the first half of my whirlwind week.

New York City was good to me, I must admit. A big part of it due to having friends nice enough to let me be in their presence and take over their apartment. 🙂

Aside from doing a million things in a day, the trip overall was very relaxing. I spent a lot of time walking around and exploring different neighborhoods, enjoying museums and eating everything in site. Is that not a good formula for a great vacation?

To save you from a ‘Dear Diary’ type of post, I will recap my thoughts in dash form.

-Blogger meet-up

I had the pleasure of meeting the famous and beautiful Ameena for coffee on Saturday! After getting in from a red-eye, I was so exhausted that I took a lengthy nap at my friend’s house and was afraid I was going to miss this occasion. Luckily, everything worked out and we met at Maison Kayser for an espresso (me), sparkling water (her) and delicious dark chocolate cookie (us, but mostly me).

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It was raining my first day there and there was even snow on the ground! Or do you just consider that ice? Whatever it was, Central Park was gloomy and it seemed as if my good friend Karl has followed me across the country.

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Notice that the pond is frozen. At first I was amazed because A. when does that ever happen in California and B. there was a small squirrel ice skating near me. I was worried for his safety.

Then, C. the rain started coming down and I got out of there before the French family next to me could even blink.

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Laziness will cause you to eat dinner at Bouchon, not that there is much to complain about there. Tomato soup for the first course and a lovely roasted chicken with braised Tuscan kale, white beans, crispy sunchokes, heirloom carrots and sauce Charcuterie.

PS: A lot of the photos in this post are going to be little collages. Usually I am against them, but if I did not group pictures together, then your hand will get carpel-tunnel from scrolling for so long.

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-Museum crawl

Can you call it a museum crawl if you only went to two? Especially if they were on two different days? I do not know and frankly can not think of another name besides ‘museums’ or ’two museums’.

Sunday was spent at the Met and holy anxiety when I walked in and saw the Egyptian exhibit. Of course this museum has a fine collection of Picassos and Van Goghs, but so does many other museums I have had the delight of visiting. I have never seen an Egyptian exhibition as large as the one I saw on Sunday; being impressed is an understatement. I was also very fond of their Magritte collection as well.

No Treachery of Images though, listen to this. I googled that night where it was on tour in NYC and found out that the MoMA’s last day of hosting the Magritte tour was that same day. If that is not sad, then I do not know what is. I missed it by a few hours.

With that note, I still had an amazing time at the Met and could have probably stayed there all day.

I visited the American Museum of Natural History on Monday and had an okay time. While there is no way I can seriously knock anything educational, there was a slight diorama overload and the way the exhibits are set up are a bit confusing. I had three people come up to me to ask me questions about the map that I could not answer because I was lost as well. The floor with the dinosaurs was really interesting, I do not think I have seen anything like it in my lifetime.

I also have a yearning to watch Night At The Museum again.

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-An Italian evening

I spent one night dining with my Italian friend. We ate an Italian dinner and then took a trip to Eataly after to see what a modern day Italian heaven looks like. I did not realize how amusing this was until I was sitting on my host’s couch at home. That is the short version.

The long version includes me squinting my eyes and zooming in Lightroom for ten minutes trying to figure out the name of the restaurant. As pretty as aperture makes a photo, it also makes it hard to remember where I have eaten when my memory is slightly forgetful. Does anyone recognize these plates? I will give you amor in exchange.

What is this restaurant called? A helpful hint for you is that it is part of a hotel and somewhere near the Flatiron building (which is pretty bad ass).

Starting at the upper left corner, you will find a divine cheese plate. I am pretty sure the harder one is a Pecorino, while the softer cheese is a cousin of Taleggio and the bottom is an ash-veined goat cheese that is milder than it looks. Forgive me if these are not correct, I am trying to go off memory and cheese is not one of my strong points (as delicious as it is).

As a reader, you should know about my endless love for charcuterie. Sometimes I wish I lived with a garde manger so I can have a plate waiting for me when I get home from a long day. Our two selections was a Soprressata Picante and Finocchiona (from SF!). Fantastic. Or as the Italians would say, fantastico. 😉

I originally ordered an ox-tail ragu, but we did a switch-a-roo and I ended up consuming the suckling pig and arugula served on top of malfatti pasta. They both were amazing and I wish you were there to try.

Last on the menu was a budino with hazelnut ice cream. This was the best meal out of my whole trip to the East Coast.

Looking back at all these pictures, it looks like we did it right. I am a lucky girl.

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Obligatory pictures of Central Park

One thing I like about New York is that you can take a picture from the same place during different times of the year and they will all turn out different. In California, the weather is pretty much consistent all year, besides May Showers in San Francisco and June Gloom in SoCal.

I have a picture of this lake back when I came for Jacq’s wedding and the contrast is remarkable. I remember in the summer that there were children racing little sailboats and now the water is frozen. It is just the little things, you know?

You are probably expecting a comparison shot but I cannot find it. Sometimes I wonder why you even put up with me, ha.

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I should squeeze in the fact that I tried Lauderée‘s macaroons for the first time. We did not have to wait very long, I heard the line goes out the door very easily. Chewy on the inside but still retained it’s texture overall, how a macaroon should be.

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What time is it?!

While having a meal with a cutie, I was informed of a certain performance act that makes all NYers subway riders invoke a panic attack. As much as these buskers can wear you down after a long day, I really wanted to see one. It would have been my ultimate tourist moment. I YouTubed ‘showtime nyc subway’ went I got home and spent an embarrassing amount of time looking through all the street performers and parodies. Can we talk about how their moves would make the raunchiest stripper jealous?

While I didn’t get any Showtime boys, the next day I did have (1) a quartet of Mariachi and (2) what I thought was an accordion player playing for money actually turn out to be an accordion player practicing his lessons while going to his teacher’s house. Luckily I only had to ride three stops for that one.

You keep me on my toes, New York. However, at least your subway performers do not attack people. Naked. (Do not click that link unless you want to see a naked acrobat attacking people on Bart, this is your warning).

-Lunch in the UWS

We randomly walked into a huge restaurant before she had to go to work on Monday and devoured this beautiful tomato soup with a side of grilled cheese.

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I also wandered into an Italian ceramic store by accident and walked out with two handmade espresso cups and saucers. I will just consider it a souvenir for myself. 🙂

-It is indeed a small world after all

I spent my last night walking The High Line in Chelsea and bumped into one of my first best friends from elementary school!! We have not talked or seen each other in years. If that is not a coincidence I do not know what is. We stood in the cold, catching up for fifteen minutes before realizing that dinner in a warm and cozy restaurant sounded much better. She took me to Pure Thai in Hell’s Kitchen and it was exactly what I needed. I have not had rice for about five days at this point and was starting to go stir crazy. They are known for their spiciness and house made noodles, the actual shop is pretty skinny so I do not recommend going with a big group but I thought the food was great!

Also realize that I was tired of lugging my camera around at this point and just had no aspiration to bring it out…cue the iPhone photography.

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-265 Riverside Drive

A family member of mind saw that I was in NY through Facebook and gave me the address of where my dad grew up. On my last day there, I took the subway there so I can see it in person. Definitely worth the trip, I love seeing little nuggets of my family history. Next time I go out there, I will have to look up my grandfather’s designs in the NY Public Library record archives.

I did not realize how creepy my eyes looked until I e-mailed it to myself. It was as far away as I could get in the picture, while still seeing the front of the building, without crossing a fence. Writing this entry made me realize that it is actually the only picture I took of myself the whole trip, so cheers! 🙂

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-Closing statements

1. The two things I was stressed about before coming was the weather and getting a cab. It happened to be (relatively) warm and I conquered my irrational fear of hailing one. In San Francisco, no problem, I can do it anywhere and anytime. New York is just a little more intimidating but I did it! My poor cab driver poured his heart out to me about his love life. I tried my best to console this crestfallen stranger.

2. I am upset at the passenger sitting in 13E for eating a tuna sandwich in the middle of their flight. 🙁 It is like they went to the terminal deli and ordered the most obnoxious thing to eat in an enclosed cabin with recycled oxygen.

Flying to Denver to see my sister on Thursday, it will be legen-wait for it….

Did you recently travel or traveling anytime soon? Tell me where so I can be jealous. +1 if it is out of the country.

What kind of activities do you enjoy doing when you travel?

Light Of My Life

Today is a good day. Why? Because for the next two days, you do not have to worry about anything. No deadlines, no waiting for the clock to hit five, no driving home during rush hour. The only thing you have to worry about is where are you going to eat on Saturday night and what are you going to order.

I think I’m restaurant’d out and will cook at home this weekend for the first time this half of the year. I am overdue for a Farmer’s Market and Chipotle Sunday morning.

It is funny how l was talking about Marlowe in my last post and my latest dining experience so happened to be it’s sister restaurant.

Abby, the fire of my loins, took me out for a spectacular birthday dinner on Wednesday. We have a collective list of restaurants we want to try in San Francisco and Park Tavern happens to be one of them.

Located in the beautiful North Beach district, it is an upscale American Tavern that offers a satisfying menu of seasonal, market-driven seafood and meat dishes for every palate.

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We ended up just dropping the car off at valet because North Beach is the worst for parking, I did not even want to deal with it.

I love the ambiance of Park Tavern, it was nicer than your average restaurant but still felt comfortable and not too stiff.

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Everyone there was so pleasant and made us feel right at home. The waiter was charming and kept asking us if we wanted pictures of x, y or z. We might of took him up on a few offers. 🙂

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I stole this picture from Abby’s Instagram. I asked her if she would be mad if I ordered a Shirley Temple. When a eight year old orders one, nobody bats an eye. When a grown up (like myself, giggle giggle) orders one, the whole world goes crazy. Luckily, Abs was extremely accepting of my love for grenadine.

Go big or go home, right guys?

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I do not even know where to start with the food, we ordered almost everything on the menu. Both of us were huge fans of Marlowe, so I know we were in for a real treat.

First up is the Park Tavern fries. What is that on the sides, you ask? Oh, just a nice dollop of truffle and a soft boiled egg topped with caviar. Yes, this might be the most fanciest fries I ever had in my life. Fancy and delicious. My technique was dipping the fry in the egg/caviar and topping it off with truffle. It was unbelievable and I had a dream about it that same night. I wish I was kidding.

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Abs never had gnocchi (I know, what), so it was a must. Another pan-seared gnocchi dish in my corner, I am a lucky girl. This parisienne gnocchi was seared with wild mushrooms, farmstead blue and petit thyme.

I still can not believe how incredible this was.

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Park Tavern is known for their Brussels sprout chips, which I did not realize was a thing. Kale chips are so 2010, these are the new baked greens and I am excited to try to make these at home.

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She switched from her Caipirinha to a Chardonnay (or Sauvignon, who knows or cares) and I went from my very alcohol (ha) Shirley Temple to a nice Riesling. It is my favorite and the only wine I do not get tired of.

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The most amusing part of our night (besides us googly eyeing each other) was the table next to ours. Seated were two posh middle aged couples that we made small talk with and ended up being best friends by the end of the night. They took our recommendations and admitted that we had great taste for being such young lasses. One of the women loved my camera and asked to take pictures of us. She just bought her first DSLR and caught the photography bug.

I obliged.

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I ordered the “Poulet Noir” to share and holy presentation. They said it would be revealed as a whole chicken but this was another level. This was served with black truffle, butter braised baby spinach and roasted peewee potatoes.

The spinach was phenomenal with the subtle taste of the truffle.

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Abby chose the caramelized sea scallops w/ yellow curried carrot puree, sunchoke barigoule, breakfast radish & chrysanthemum greens. For being someone who is not a fan of seafood, I had one whole scallop and Abs was so proud of me. I have to admit that it was great.

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What is a birthday without creme brûlée? This unique custard was made with local TCHO chocolate, chili, lemon zest and sea salt. A rich, chocolate biscotti was served on the side. I wish I did not eat this so fast because our waiter surprised us and brought out a complimentary carrot cake with cream cheese frosting as a birthday treat.

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I am surprised I was able to get out of my chair after. If you count, that is seven different dishes I consumed in two hours. I could not of done it without Abby sharing with me. I have to say thank you again, Abby, for the fantastic dinner. Love you to the moon and back. 🙂

We wrapped up our meal around 9:30p and had some fun with the valet guys and a stranger before heading home.

And that, my friends, concludes my five-day-after-birthday dinner meal with the ever-so-special Abs.

Do you ever still order Shirley Temples? Try to make me feel better, please.

Which dish would you be most excited to try?

Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe

Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes! It was nice to get the e-mail alerts throughout the weekend. I am sure you are dying to know how it went (humor me), so here it goes!

FYI: I am currently driving up the 5 right now. For you non-Californians, it is probably the most boring and smelliest 5-1/2 hour drive you can do. I figured I would write up this blog post, but it is becoming a horrible idea because every bump makes me want to lay back and wake up in front of my drive way.

Going down to SoCal was a different story. Highway 101 is one of the most b-e-a-utiful drives there is, in my opinion. We have the sun setting behind the mountains, creating this beautiful Kodak image.

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Then 40 miles down, you have the sun setting behind the ocean WITH a mountain to the side. How lovely is that? The coastal view never gets old, take my advice and try it one day.

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As I said in my last post, I had a wedding to attend on Saturday. It was not my smartest idea to go for a plethora of reasons, but I told Chi back in May that I would be his +1 and I had to stick to my guns.

Usually, I look like a hot mess and can not even bother to comb my hair, but I like to think I clean up pretty nice.

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D + J had their wedding on a resort and she looked like a bombshell, her dress fit her perfectly. The groom, who is one of the goofiest people I know, was so emotional during the ceremony and it touched my heart (/end corny).

PS: I am excited to see what their half Korean/half white babies will look like in the future. 🙂 Mixed kids for the win.

I could not be assed to bring my camera, so you will have to make due with the iPhone.

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The next day, we made the drive from Irvine (aka BFE) back to Hollywood and the group unanimously decided that Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles would be our brunch destination. Thank you, Rocio, for driving from Santa Barbara to hang.

The original plan was to attack Porto’s, a LA cult favorite, but the lines were outrageous and we had some museum exploring to do.

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As a person who has taken the secret foodie oath, I have promised to treat each and every plate with dignity and love every carb, fat and protein the same. However, I can not get into the groove of chicken and waffles. I love fried chicken and I love waffles. Together? It does not make much sense to me.

I ended up eating the chicken, nibbling on the waffles and devoured the mac ’n’ cheese.

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When deciding between which museums I wanted to attend, LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) was on top of my list. The Treachery of Images, my favorite painting, is part of a permanent collection there. I was so excited to be able to see it for the first time, only to find out that it is on tour at the Met and a few other stops before returning to LA. Hopefully I will be luckier with attempt #2 next year.

Although a little disappointed, I did not let it get in my way. The LACMA is the largest art museum on the west coast and holds more than 100,000 works spanning from the ancient world to the present. Outside and center is the very famous, highly filmed, Urban Lights. Chris Burden installed over 200 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930s and set them up in front of the museum.

You can see them in a bunch of movies, commercials and music videos.

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I do not have much to say about each individual image, but you can see why it is so easy to spend the whole day at the museum.

Out of 100+ images, I randomly selected a few of my favorite pieces of eye candy.

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I really love retro posters in general. This was part of the final exhibit I got to see, the Latin American exhibit. I will find a way to be able to incorporate these into my future home someday.

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My friends always joke that I take pictures like an Asian tourist, so take that. Now that’s a photo taking pose!

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I inquired in my last post about ramen spots and one of my loves, Bailey, called me in the morning to tell me about a place her boyfriend l-o-v-e loves for ramen.

Sorry, Goretti, but it was hard to convince everyone to go vegan for the night. Maybe next time I am in town, you can take me. 🙂

The wait was not that long and one of my favorite hapas joined in on the birthday celebration.

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I liked how they decorated the interior to look just like Japan. I felt like I never left!

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I ordered the spicy miso ramen and also snuck food off everyone else’s plate.

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Mel and Rob did a six month Europe trip last year and told me they got me a special gift. A whomping 363 days later, they finally remembered to bring it. And I love it so much!!!

These are the kind of gifts I love getting. It is a handcrafted piece of ceramic from Nove, Italy.

Her words, when I texted her to get more info about this beauty: It is a little town in northern Italy, tiny tiny town in the boonies countryside but it has over 100 ceramic stores- everything you see in Macy’s, Tiffany’s etc…at factory prices! All gorgeous stuff! Wish we could have bought and shipped everything that caught our eye, but it would of been too much. We went to the largest store in the town and Robert was running through 1000’s of pieces and he didn’t know what to get you. Then, the tiles really caught his eyes and that’s when he knew. 😉

It can either be hung on the wall or used as a pot rest. The colors are SO vibrant in person.

I honestly think it is one of the best gifts I got in a while. Thank you so much Mel and Rob! Love you guys to the moon and back.

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Thanks for scrolling past all the pictures, I am starting to get queasy and it is time to put my seat back and take a cat nap. Goodbye loves!

How do you feel about chicken and waffles? What is the best present you received in a long time?