Five Foodie Finds in Portland, Maine

Portland, Maine is seafood by the pier in the summer.  It is warming up next to a cozy fireplace in the winter.  It is roaming quaint cobblestone alleys in the fall.  For me, it’s even half marathons in the spring.  But above all, Portland, Maine is a small town with a big foodie following.

I am yet to try all the mouthwatering cuisine this town has to offer, but I am sure working on it!  Here are my five, favorite foodie finds in Portland so far:


Holy Donut

Some say diamonds are a girl’s best friend but I’ve always thought doughnuts could give the bling a run for its money.   Who doesn’t love a personal sized cake that is totally acceptable to eat for breakfast?!

When it comes to these cream-filled wonders, the Holy Donut is the holy grail.  With everything from salted caramel to vegan coconut, this little storefront has everything a dessert feign like me could ask for.

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I never miss my Holy Donut fix when I make it up to Portland.


Becky’s Diner

Classic diner food on the water, does it get any better than that?  I don’t think so.

You HAVE to try the cinnamon bun.  Trust me.


The Honey Paw

I just discovered The Honey Paw for the first time this trip and it was totally by accident.  We had tried to get into the popular restaurant across the street, Duck Fat, for lunch but the wait was too long for our liking, so we stumbled into what looked like a trendy new spot a few doors down.  Boy, am I happy we did!

This Asian Fusion mecca had an eclectic menu with everything from noodles to wings and sandwiches.  I ordered the soft-shell crab sandwich and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.

We may have wandered into The Honey Paw by happenstance but I am very deliberately planning my next trip back.

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Street and Co.

This is bae’s favorite spot in Portland.  It is the perfect spot for date night.  It is cozy and quaint with an open kitchen to die for.  But be careful, it will require a reservation.

We love to order the Lobster Diavolo to share.  If you are with another seafood lover, it is the way to go.


Central Provisions

Two words: fried cauliflower.  I know it doesn’t sound very convincing but this dish blew my mind.

The restaurant is small and they don’t take reservations so you may be in for a wait. Pro tip: there’s a bar downstairs that serves the same food menu and its first come, first serve.  Our wait went from over an hour to 15 minutes.


After all this food talk, who’s hungry? Let’s go to Portland!

Three Days in Napa and a Lifetime Together

To me, Napa Valley is everything.  It is fine wine and mind-blowing food. It is luxurious hotels with relaxing couple massages.  It is an awe-inspiring countryside with miles and miles of beautiful vineyards.

But most of all, it is where I said yes to spending the rest of my life with my best friend and where we will return to celebrate the engagement of my dreams for many years to come.

Even if you don’t come away from your Napa weekend with a ring, spending two or three nights in the Valley is well worth the trip.

Here are my top recommendations for where to stay, eat and drink in my new favorite place on earth.


Hotel Yountville

Between the location, ambiance and service at Hotel Yountville, I was pretty sure I had died and gone to heaven.  Each room has its own fireplace and they hold private wine tastings in their lobby.  But they are also walking distance to several wineries and some of the best restaurants in the area.  That’s not to mention the couples massage in their spa and their attention to detail as they laid out rose petals and champagne on our engagement night.  It truly was the most romantic setting for our special day.

Schweiger Vineyards & Winery 

Speaking of our special day, Schweiger Vineyard up the road in St. Helena was at the heart of it.  Nestled in the rolling hills of Spring Mountain, this small family-run vineyard was the perfect place for Kushan to get on one knee.  Not only was the wine some of the best I’ve ever tasted, but the staff was so attentive and made sure that we had memories of our engagement that would last a lifetime.

If you are looking for a vineyard where you’ll get an authentic Napa experience without the throngs of tourists and crowds, this is the place for you.

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Bottega

High on love and maybe a little (ok a lot) of bubbly, bae and I had the meal of a lifetime at Bottega to mark the first night of the rest of our lives.

The service was unparalleled and the food bordered on Michelin quality.

Don’t miss the polenta – it is out of this world!

O’Brien Estate Winery

The next day, we were off to celebrate some more with tastings and vineyard tours.

I would highly recommend beginning your tours at O’Brien Estate Winery (especially if you’re a novice like me).  They truly take the time to walk you through a tasting.  They explain everything from how the wine is made to what foods pair best with each bottle.

Best of all they’re super low-key and down-to-earth about the entire experience.  Though you can tell they’re renown experts, they allow you to experience the wine in whatever way best suites you.

Believe me, spending some time with them at the beginning of your day will go far in knowing what the heck you’re doing later.

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Frog’s Leap

By now, it’s probably pretty clear that I prefer the less touristy, more boutique wineries.  Frog’s Leap is just that.  The property is a quaint, quiet colonial style estate set quite a bit off the main drag.  I could have spent hours sitting along the edge of this vineyard soaking in the sun and the Riesling.

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Redd Wood

After a day of tastings, sometimes all you need is some pizza to sop it all up.  But don’t get me wrong, Redd Wood is anything but “just some pizza.”  Like most restaurants in the area, they take their food seriously.  This place was trendy, modern and served up some next level wings and pizza.

If you are looking to hit up some of the more touristy attractions, I would recommend Domaine Chandon and Domaine Carneros.  Despite the crowds, their grounds were beautiful and their wine was spectacular.


Napa will forever hold a place in my heart.   It was setting for the happiest weekend of my life and from this day forward visiting (hell even just reminiscing about) Napa Valley will always fill my heart with warmth.

Why I Keep Coming Back to Block Island!

Something happens when you grow up going to the same place every summer. 

It starts to feel like home. The people there start to feel like family. The atmosphere starts to feel like a culture, and you start to feel like a piece of your soul stays there year round.

Block Island is that place for me.

I’ve traveled the world and still get a rush as I step off the ferry in Old Harbor, crave the smell of a killer donut, and long for the sound of the blender mixing me a banana mudslide.

A small island off the coast of Rhode Island, “the Block” as we regulars like to call it, has all the charm and allure of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, without all the pretentiousness. 

On the island, boaters, tourists and locals have a deep appreciation for the art of relaxation.  They’ve found the perfect composition of boat, beach and bar that all comes together to form the perfect tropical masterpiece. 

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Those lucky enough to stay for more than a weekend quickly find they’re on “island time,” which is code for no concept of time at all.  Who can blame them?  Its easy to lose yourself in the sun, sand and sunsets. 

If you’re looking for a family friendly destination where adults have just as much fun as the kids, Block Island is the place for you.  Here are some of my favorites on the island.


Where to Stay

Payne’s Dock – Payne’s Dock rests in the center of New Harbor, which is the quieter of the two main island harbors. This family owned and operated marina is an oasis for boating families.  Kids are able to go crabbing or swimming off their boats while the parents are able to enjoy the tiki bar, restaurant and sunsets from the dock.  I’ve spent two weeks of every summer since I was 3-years-old at Payne’s so I can say from experience that staying here is like staying with family. 

Payne’s Harbor View Inn – If you’re not a boater and prefer to sleep on solid ground, Payne’s Harbor View Inn is right up the road.  This quaint bed and breakfast offers a more low-key vibe — perfect for a romantic getaway. Try their sushi.  It’s fantastic.

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Spring House – A bit upscale, the Spring House is steps away from the center of town where you’ll find shopping, eating and entertainment. The hotel itself is offset on a rather secluded hill, where the views are second-to-none. Their restaurant is one of the best on the island but their martini night is probably their most popular attraction.  Check it out on a Thursday!

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Rent a house – If you’re traveling with a larger group there are plenty of houses all over the island for rent.  Be sure to plan early though as many rent out as early as January.


What to do

Scotch Beach – There’s about 17 miles of beach along Block Island’s coast, but my favorite by far is Scotch Beach.  It is about a ten minute walk from Town Beach and tends to be less crowded and touristy.  It boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean with sand and surf that can’t be beat.

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Kayak/Paddle Board — If you’re looking a water activity without the sand, kayaking and paddle boarding is popular around the island. There are several rental shops but I’d suggest Pond and Beyond Kayak.  Renting from here, you can paddle around New Harbor, which tends to be sheltered — allowing for a much more enjoyable ride.

Bike — Want to avoid the water all together? Rent a bike and explore the island.  Only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, you can see most of the island by bike in one day.  Just be careful of cars and be sure to hydrate — the terrain is not the most forgiving.

Mohegan Bluffs — While you’re biking your way around the island, be sure to pull off to explore the bluffs.  These beautiful clay cliffs tattoo the southern edge of the island.  If you can handle the hike, be sure to walk down the stairs and take in the view from the beach as well.

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North Lighthouse — On the other side of the island, the North Lighthouse is worth the journey off the beaten path to get there.  I personally feel it has much more character than the Southeast Lighthouse, but I would certainly suggest seeing both.


Where to party

Mahogany Shoals – Payne’s Dock makes the list again.  A cozy, pub like environment this it truly the bar you’ve been practicing for.  The music is great, the people are great and the drinks are great.  What’s not to love?

Trader Vic’s – At the end of the dock at Champlin’s Marina, Trader Vic’s sits along side some huge yachts.  Check them out while you sip on your banana mudslide.

Captain Nick’s — Two words: Regae night.

Ballards – A stones throw from the ferry in Old Harbor, on the weekends this is the ultimate beach party.  On week nights it’s a bit more low key, John Brazile plays almost every night.  He is one of the most talent musicians I’ve ever stumbled across. Don’t miss him while you’re on the Block.


So throw on some flip flops, grab your koozie and sail away on the Block Island Ferry — paradise awaits.

Top Three Things to See in Santa Monica

Before I say this, promise not to judge me.

Do we have a deal? Awesome! 

img_8817Here it comes…. I never liked LA.

Between the traffic and superficial vibe, I was pretty sure the only thing it had going for it was In-N-Out.  Don’t get me wrong — that was enough to keep me coming back.  Who doesn’t love their fries animal style?

That was all before I experienced Santa Monica. In the short time I had there, it completely changed my perspective.  I am now a true Cali fan for life.  From the Mexican food to the sandy beaches, I loved it all, but here are a few of my favorites.


Venice Beach

We all know I love a good beach, but Venice Beach was more than just a great patch of sand.  It had an energy like no other.  The people knew they were unique and owned it.  Everyone from skateboarders to artists came alive along the coast. 

We needed to be a part of it all so we rented bikes (highly recommend Jay’s Rentals) and spent the day working our way from one side of the boardwalk to the other.   We did everything from shopping to drinking coconut water while taking in the views.

With everything from body builders to painted palm trees, it is truly a scene to experience for yourself.

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Santa Monica Pier

The Pier brought me right back to my childhood.  With arcades, hot dogs, rides and even margaritas at Mariasol, the fun is endless.  

If you go at sunset, you’ll get a real treat.  The sky turns the most magical shade of orange as the day comes to a close.

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The Bungalow

Nestled among the trees, you completely forget that you’re between a busy road and a massive hotel while you’re sipping your cocktails at the Bungalow.  My favorite bar of the trip, it’s classy without being pretentious. Trendy while still feeling welcoming and quaint.   

If you’re looking for a place to unwind after a day on the beach, it will be perfect for you.


So apparently my opinions can be swayed — you just have to be as amazing as Santa Monica.

Baecation Days, Newport, RI

How to Make the Most of a Rainy Day in Newport, R.I.

Let’s just say bae’s birthday weekend in Newport didn’t go quite as planned.  It was supposed to be a romantic trip to one of our favorite New England islands with a brisk fall stroll by the wharf and maybe even a beer on an outdoor deck for the last time this season. But…

Mother nature had other plans.

Our brisk fall day turned into torrential downpours and powerful winds, but we were determined to enjoy our day and take it on as our next adventure.

In reality, the rain forced us to explore some parts of Newport we’d never seen before!

So, here are my top three suggestions for how to make the most of a rainy day in Newport, R.I.


Enjoy a rum or beer tasting at Newport Storm Brewery 

About a 10 minute ride from the main tourist area, this small brewery is a great place to warm up and try some local craft brews.

Newport Storm Brewery, Newport RI

The brewery, which now also distills rum, was the brainchild of four college friends that has grown to distribute throughout Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

They offer free self guided tours all day long and a guided tour every day at 3PM.   Beer tastings, which are $9 each, include four samples and a souvenir glass.

We’re already planning to return for the rum tasting, which is $10 for three samples and a souvenir glass.


Check out classic cars at the Audrain Auto Museum 

This museum is small but mighty.  With about 15 to 20 cars on display at a time, you really have time to learn the history and story behind each vehicle at the Audrain Auto Museum.

Audrain Auto Museum, Newport RI

It costs less than $15 a person and the volunteers who work the floor are true enthusiasts.  Bae could have talked to them all day!

The greatest part? They change out their exhibition theme every few months so you can explore a new set of vehicles from their arsenal of over 200 with each visit.


Chow down on some seafood at Midtown Oyster Bar 

Relatively new to the Newport scene, Midtown Oyster Bar was a huge hit with bae.

Midtown Oyster Bar, Newport, R.I.

Whether you’re just in the mood for a good vibe while enjoying a beer at the bar or in for a full on feast, they’ve got what you’re looking for.

We went all in on the seafood but they have everything from salads to steaks if crustaceans aren’t your friend.

Personally, I am still dreaming about the mussels frites and fried oyster tacos.


Though I won’t be wishing for rain any time soon, it turned out that bae’s birthday was not a total wash!