Ramen ramen ramen.
I love smoking hot pork soup, slurping up the noodles and tiny drops of goodness splashing on my face and shirt.  Pork meat balls, pork belly and pork shank with sprouts, bok choy, cilantro and scallions.  It was like spicy hot heaven.  
They also make this delicious ceviche with octopus, squid, scallop and shrimp that was so zesty with the right amount of lime.
Korean pork belly nestled on top of cloud like hot buns - WOW - crispy but then those pork hot buns just melt onto your tongue.
I liked the vibe here and would drive 2 hours just to get the Ramen.  Perfect rainy day food.

GO there - The Slurping Turtle - West hubbard st  - chicago!
 
 
One of my favorites in DC and I was there for Restaurant week!

Jose Andres! Delicious 

Course One 
Hommus - Delicious - creamy- amazing

Course Two
Piyaz - Imported warm giant white beans with kale, oven roasted tomatoes and garlic

Course Three
Hunkar Begendi - Turkish braised lamb shank with eggplant puree

COurse Four
Peynirli pide - Flatbread with Turkish tomatoe sauce, cinnamon and oregano and hamoumi cheese

Course Five
walnut ice cream, yogourt mousse, honey gelee and orange caramel sauce


A new flavor explosion
 
 
An Italian Cafe setting -  busy, people laughing and chatty, servers buzzing around with food in their hands and the familiar smell of yeasty dough in the air.

We got a great table by the window at 9pm on a Wed night - they were slammed...
THe hostess gave us an IPAD with the wine list on.  I love these wine lists....You push a wine- it goes into the description of how it tastes and where it is from.  THEN it tells you what food on their menu it pairs best with.    
I was going to eat pasta - Scialatielli, Tomato, Basil and Eggplant - so I chose a nebbiolo from Piedmonte.
I also ordered a side of Carrots with lemon and some kind of herb - Strangest food combination I think I may have ever had.  It really left a bad taste in my mouth

The pasta came out and it was ok.  I was a little disappointed- the pasta was thick and homeade and was great - but the eggplant was non existent and not a lot of flavor in the dish in general.  I was bummed as a couple different people I had met at my conference raved about it.  

www.oesteriacoppa.com 

I ended up going to their sister restaurant the next night in Half Moon Bay.  Right on the ocean - I took a seat at the bar - Happy hour wine - Pinot Gris from Oregon.

I ordered braised local Artichokes (which was the worst wine pairing food in america), tuna poke....And grilled peach salad.  Everything was delicious, fresh and flavorful.  THe tuna tasted like it had been out of water for 5 seconds - it was meaty and gorgeous.   I met a lovely couple at the bar - and we chatted like we were old friends for hours.  They live close and walk down to the place for happy hour.  The gave me a lot of good advice.  I headed back up HIghway 1 that night and took DEVILS SLIDE one last time as that part of highway 1 will be shut down shortly and you will have to use the tunnel throught the mountain - I guess they were sick of cars sliding off the moutain and into 

www.samschowderhouse.com 
 
 
Seasons 52 Fresh Grill - Jacksonville, FLOK - I wish and hope and pray that this chain takes off and goes everywhere - Its a great concept that they dont through in your face everywhere - but they should.  The food there was excellent, fresh and tasty - and most importantly - flavorful!

This is off the website - 

 The Seasons 52 menu is seasonally-inspired with the fresh appeal of the farmer’s market. It represents a unique blend of art and science, with creative offerings designed to excite and surprise the palate. We feature dining choices that are thoughtfully prepared and in appropriate portion sizes. 

We use natural cooking techniques such as wood-fire grilling, brick-oven cooking and caramelizing vegetables to let the natural flavors shine through. And we execute precision with seasoning, and oil with control and care to ensure just the right amount is used to bring out the great flavor profiles. An added benefit to this style is that our menu items are naturally lower in calories. 
In fact, we make a promise that nothing on our menu is over 475 calories. 


 
 
It wasnt the usual sunset that Santa Cruz offers - but it was still the ocean, nice weather and the salty, feel good breeze that hugs you.

I have been to Santa Cruz 3 times in the last 8 months....Its a short drive from SF and if you take 
highway 1, stellar views! 
Its a surfing town, with a boardwalk and and old school amusement park right on the ocean.  There is wineries, hippies, loads of taco bars, surfboards, boogie boards, dumpy houses and million dollar homes everywhere.  Did I mention Seafood! And Tacos

Well - I checked into Bella Notte on a last minute deal - about 5 blocks from the beach.  This place was nice.  Great linens and just redone.  A small fridge for my just bought and picked strawberries..
Santa Cruz doesnt have much to offer for great accomodations.  The Dream Inn - but its super pricey...and then a couple B&Bs that are nice - but there is no mid level anything - so this was a great find.
Breakfast included.  www.bellanotteinn.com And it reminds me of my favorite disney movie - lady and the tramp

  I have been wanting to go to Soif Wine Bar- I went on a Tuesday night.  Walked in and its cool wood floors and open kitchen behind the bar said hello, high ceilings and differnet kinds of people everywhere...business men, hippies, young ladies, and old ladies.

I sat down and host was a rude little twit.  That Didnt start off great but the server was much nicer.  She explained it was Tapas Tuesday.  There was 5 items for only $3 a tapa!  What! I will have one of each!

Roasted beets with spinach and ricotta - delicious
Heirloom tomato with basil, ricotta salada and toasted pine nuts. - AMAZING - fresh delicious
Spanish Chorizo with green lentils and sauteed onions - really great texture
Toasted brioche, Jamon Serrano and quince paste - just ok
Piquilla Peppers stuffed with Manchego Cheese - Delicious - I think Piquillo peppers are my favorite pepper

Now - they had quite a selection of wine 
I decided on a rose bubble flight

allimont-Luagner from Alsace - pinot noir rose
Kogi from Slovenia (FIRST TIME) pinot noir brut
Val de Mer from Burgundy - pinot noir

My favorite was actually from Slovenia - WOW 

My wine flight was more than all of my food! Awesome!

Great local food, great wine and cool space.  Go check it out!  www.soifwine.com

Santa Cruz has NOT disappointed yet.  I also went to Beauregard WInery in Boony Doon - their pinot noir was tasty - the white blend and the chardonnay were not great.
www.beauregardvineyards.com 


I ran on the beach in the morning and went to Kelly French Bakery for a Jamon and cheese sandy - and of course a macaroon (they are just so pretty)
www.kellysfrenchbakery.com

Last stop on the way back up was David Bruce winery - THEY WERE CLOSED! NO


 
 
Ive been hearing about Bayfield WI for years and have wanted to make the 5 hour drive.  Finally filled the coolers and packed a bag - made the drive up - Lake superior hello!Checked into one of the oldest B&Bs in WI...Rittenhouse.  Then off to dinner at good thyme - really a feel good restaurant.  Had a great pork tenderloin cooked RIGHT - medium - with this great sweet potato souffle.  Had an attractive fireplace and dark wood tones.  Relaxing place - and i had a great cab - with it....
  I rode the ferry to Madeline Island in the morning and biked the entire island - its 14 miles by 3 m iles.  Beautiful day of biking, hiking and drinking wine.  The island had some fun bars, good restaurants and the lacks-a-daisy mood that I was looking for.
Checked into Pinehurst Inn - really liked it there - great linens and huge bath tub..That night was the opening of Wild Rice.  You would have never guessed that this restaurant was in Northwoods WISCO.  It was eclectic, full of art, gorgeous really.  I want to go back to taste food off of the actual menu.  Im usually not a prix fix menu kind of girl, but I liked the local, wisco theme and I wasnt going to go home without going there and that was my only chance.  The wine list was nice - I drank lincourt pinot noir.  Tasty.  The service was average.  Food quality was amazing.  We are blessed in wisco with some great local producers.  A TASTE OF WISCONSIN - the opening night of Wild Rice


Amuse Bouche - Wollershiem WInery prairie fume

Roasted whitefish and Lake trout with nueskes bacon, asparagus and wild leek pesto

Seared MacFarlane Pheasant breast with morel broth, pheasant confit and greens

Bison ribeye with pleasant ridge cheese potato gratin and fiddlehead ferns

Cranberry mousse with maple cookies

This was the menu that fine Saturday night -  
All in all I really cant wait to go back to this place.  The 5 hour drive is like an adventure in itself - you pass immensely huge statues of animals all the way up, see wildlife, crazy people, stores and just have some time for your shoulders to go back to were they belong...

On the ride home - went to Potato river falls - awesome and got creative and waded through the water to get a closer look.  Hail and rain didnt stop me from going to copper river falls and the 3 mile hike through in the pouring rain.  Great day.  

A stop at the Wheelhouse in Waupaca/King for the worlds best cheeseburger - seriously

there you go- a weekend to put in the books - all the ingredients for a brilliant weekend recipe .....wine, food, waterfalls, hiking, biking, relaxation, great linens, a hot bath, a book, a friend, water, high end, low end, fun, laughs and deodorant......and all in wisconsin.....

GO to bayfield - visit our amazing state of Wisco



 
 
After a week of craziness I decided to drive.  I found myself in Madison.  No phone calls. No Emails.  I did tm my buddy on the way down to ask where I should eat.  He gave me a couple places he liked and after a priceline miracle hotel room I was on my way to Nostrano.  And let me tell you - you should be too. 
The Night was eerie, the Capital looked ghostly with low clouds and dew but the night was nice.  I got to Nostrano (which is right off the Capital) walked in and saw a quaint place, 15 tables or so and a small bar.  Tall ceilings but narrow.  Felt...right.  There was windows hung up all over the walls, like they were wanting you to look out them into a different part of the world- maybe a field full of peonies or white water rapids or maybe out your bedroom window......
 I was seated at a great table and got my first look at the bar.  Behind the bar they had about 40 empty bottles of wine hung from different lengths of string.  It was pretty neat looking and I would actually maybe do it in my house (well a new one anyway)  My server came up - Dane - i ordered a glass of Furst pInot gris from Alsace.  Shouldnt of.  Too sweet - I should have known better.  I then ordered a glass of gamay sparkling from France - SUPER delish.  Had Scallops with celery root and just ever so faintly vanilla cream sauce - a surprise on the plate was pulled oxtail  - outstanding
DInner - Braised Pork Shoulder with the most amazing pan sauce.  Demi Glace and red wine simmered down to the most flavorful broth ive had in years.  My crispy on the outside and delicious and moist inside pork shoulder was almost addictive.  It had white beans, grilled ciabatta bread and olive oil.  WOW.  Because I cant resist the risotto - I ordered that too.  It was Canaroli Risotto (a lil longer and thicker then arborio) and it had FRESH IN SEASON MORELS with spring onions and goat butter - it was so creamy and savory and hearty and delicious that I couldnt stop.  I would pile risotto on my fork, put pork on top of that and then dredge the whole thing in that exotice broth.........wow
Had a scoop of Caramel, cocoa nib and buttermilk homeade ice cream.  I wanted to try ALL things on the menu.  I will go back.  No Doubt.  One of the best meals Ive had in WI. 
NOSTRANOS - 111 s Hamilton Street Madison  *****  5 stars

I woke up and Went to Marigold Kitchen for Brunch - they have indoor and outdoor seating.  You order and then sit down and they serve you up fast and efficiently. I had a fresh squeezed oj - fresh fruit - Ham, gruyere, parsley and green onion omelet with Marigolds famous breakfast potatoes (thin sliced with spicy finish) and a green salad.  Rye toast with homeade raspberry jam (with seeds)  Great breakfast to start the day -
Marigold Kitchen - 118 s Pinckney street (right off the capital)

Went Hiking at Devils Lake all day - cloudy day and great weather to hike in and try to sort through all of lifes questions....I think I may have actually answered some of them!

Off to dinner Lombardinos ( A klitchy glitchy Old - school Italian joint)
I will admit whomever made their website was a genious.  They made the place look entirely amazing - the ambiance was a little deceiving compared to the website.  Got there - bread was really good with olive oil - Had the Antipasto platter and it really was well put together.  Fresh Proscuitto, fresh bufala mozzarella with balsalmic, eggplant and Fabronis sausage caponatta and grilled bread - oh and mortadella mousse on bruschetta bread.  I was full after that but did order the Halibut already - it came out a tad overdone but still well seasoned - GORGEOUS grilled artichokes and arugula salad. 
Had a scoop of fig icecream - wow fig icecream the way it should be - real figs in it ground up - almost a heary ice cream.
Oh and wine - had a rosso di montalcino - Since i will be in montalcino in a month I thought i should study up
Lombardinos - 2500 university Ave  **** 4 stars

Decided to end my weekend At Frank Lloyd Wrights - Taliesen in Spring Green.  Have never done the tour and being I used to live in an old Frank LLoyd Wright Design home I thought it would be interesting and neat to see how it compared to my old house.  And honestly it did compare - almost too well.  Kinda made my heart hurt. 
The grounds are beautiful in a wore down kind of way. Knowing he built this house for the love of his life and he lost her in this very same house from a horrifying homicide - how terrible.
i Saw the Still running architechture school, the Romeo and Juliet Windmill and then toured the grounds of Taliesin and the inside.  The lines, trees, windows, wood, rooms, style, and little things like pea gravel and type of flowers, were so insanely similar. Everything. 
There was an old architect (one of flws' first students) that still lives on the property with his old greyhound.  He had to be 90 and his dog older.  He was walking (or I should say slowly making his way) around with his cane to what I thought may be his "daily walk".  They dog was slowly trailing behind, tail in between his legs in pain or exhaustedness.  half hour Later in the house I looked out and saw the 2 from the 2nd floor walking below.  He sat down on a rock wall and the dog looked like he just couldnt make it to him.  I watched as he was coaxing him to try and make it and that damn dog did.  Then the dog leaned into him and that old man started scratching that old dogs hinder.  You could slowly see that tail start wagging and as the seconds pass his tail was wagging harder.  Standing in that window of THAT house, watching this poor dog with his master and witnessing a moment of true love was pretty special.  He had no idea i was watching.  I think  moments like those are so often over looked.  I dont want to overlook these moments anymore
Best moment of the weekend - Theres 2 - Im going to Italy and that dogs wagging tail
carry each other

 
 
Seattles Best
Lecosho - Pig on the sign so thinking we were going to have a menu full of pig -
I had a seafood cippoino style - mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, almond paste, saffron broth
beets, goat cheese, arugula salad
glass of champagne to celebrate life

Wild Ginger - crazy huge place
karabuta pork satay
MOngolian noodles, 7 spice beef, chicken green curry, duck with sticky hot bun
Mongolian noodles (homeade) with vegetables, cilantro, cucumbers - so delicious and flavorful
Duck was amazing!  the cilantro made it fresh and cinnamon coated duck fat - holy crap -
O reillys pinot gris from Oregon

Lola
Breakfast in paradise
House made sausages - sweet and spicy- fennel and peppers
House made vanilla marscapone cheese on pancakes
house made syrup
french brewed coffee

Dahlia Bakery
house made fig newton
cinnamon cream cake


Bellevue
Ruths Chris Steakhouse
French onion soup with gruyere - intense veal stock, velevety and so pure, sweet onions and gruyere - awesome
11 oz Filet cooked to perfection and swimming in butter - delicious
Creamed corn - sweet and crunchy- creamy
Vanilla bean ice cream with raspberry coulis
uppercut cabernet from napa valley - surprisingly good intense and toasty

Salish Lodge at Snoqualmie Falls
House made carpaccio with arugula and truffle oil, mustard
pulled pork sandie with cabbage and apple slaw
My first argentinian sauv blanc