One Year of Sharing Dishes

I don’t know if you’ll believe it — we can’t — but it’s March 14th and that means we’ve been doing this whole blogging thing for a full year now! One-hundred and twenty-six blog posts later and a million calories later (OK, we don’t know how many calories, but its a lot), we haven’t killed each other yet and we can’t wait to see where the Richmond food scene will take our taste buds in year two.

It seems like just yesterday we decided to pull the trigger and claim our little piece of the internet and we’ve had a blast, in large part due to all of you. Can you believe we’ve had readers from ALL fifty states?! We love hearing your suggestions and feedback for more places for us to try. We hear you and we can’t wait to visit some of your favorite spots and try some of your favorite foods!

It’s been so much fun telling you all about our favorite spots around Richmond, our travel adventures and our random musings on our favorite recipes, cute dog pictures, podcasts, shopping finds and more. We love sharing our weekly dose of food news with you every Wednesday in our What’s Happenin’ Wednesday posts, and we’re thankful to the Richmond restaurant community that has welcomed our many questions with open arms.

In just one year, there have been too many memorable moments to name — from getting a behind the scenes look at Mrs. Yoder’s to taste testing at Gearhart’s to trying all of the things on the menu at East Coast Provisions thanks to the generous Mike Ledesma. If Kelsey wasn’t doing the #Cook90 challenge, we could celebrate today with a glorious dinner somewhere, but instead we’re going to tell you the 10 most memorable meals we’ve had in the past year, in Richmond and beyond.

La Barbecue

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I would fly to Austin, Texas just to have La Barbecue for lunch. Texas folks aren’t kidding when they say barbecue is the real deal there. Just one visit to La Barbecue was enough to convince me of that. After waiting in line for a few hours it felt like we ordered just about everything on the menu, and 11 months later I’m STILL thinking about the brisket and sausage and the bobby sauce I dipped my bread in. It was an added bonus that one of the employees gave me a behind the scenes look at the brisket smoking, a 14 to 16 hour process that is worth every minute. – M

merroir angels on horseback

Merroir

Let’s just say there’s a reason Merroir is featured prominently in the new Virginia Tourism video promoting some of the best things in Virginia. Picture perfect location on the water, delicious food, great drink list…Merroir has just about everything I want in a restaurant. I only make it to this spot in Topping, Virginia two or three times a year, but vacation mode starts the minute we hit the gravel parking lot. Everything on the menu is delicious, but I go back time and time ago for – no surprise here – the oysters of all varieties. They are delicious whether they are served raw, roasted or all “dressed up” like these Angels on Horseback baked with herb butter and Edwards Ham. – M

the clam shack 48 hours in maine

The Clam Shack

Apparently I have a thing for restaurants on the water, but The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport, Maine is another spot that made it into my top meals of the year. The lobster rolls here were so incredible and warranted every ounce of publicity and attention this restaurant has racked up over the years. Lobster rolls here come served up with mayonnaise and butter and are perfectly enjoyed with the fresh squeezed lemonade that’s available for sale in front of the restaurant. – M

Tompkins Square Bagels NYC

Tompkins Square Bagels

New Yorkers know how to make a darn good breakfast sandwich, and Tompkins Square Bagels makes one of the best. We stopped here for breakfast on the first day of our visit to New York City back in September, and I’ve been craving this breakfast sandwich ever since. We ordered an everything bagel that came stuffed to the brim with with bacon, egg and cheese and it was so simple but so, so heavenly. A well-executed breakfast sandwich on a New York bagel is the stuff food dreams are made of, my friends. – M

Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen

The matzoh ball soup, the schlubby fries, the blintzes, what isn’t there to love about Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen located in the heart of downtown Richmond. This cozy spot feels like an old friend every time I slide into a booth here (which isn’t quite as often as I would like!) and I’m usually thinking of when my next visit can be before I’ve even left. I spend forever looking at the menu whenever I come here because I want just about everything on it, but whatever you choose, you really can’t go wrong at Perly’s. Unless you don’t order the matzoh ball soup. – M

La taqueria carnitas burrito - San Francisco

La Taqueria

I am still dreaming of this carnitas burrito at La Taqueria more than eight months after visiting San Francisco. If you’re planning on visiting the Mission District anytime soon, do yourself a favor and add this to your must visit list. The melty cheese, creamy refried beans, and salty carnitas, omg I am salivating just thinking about it. And even better this meal cost less than $10, which is hard to come by for lunch in SF. Pro tip: order it dorado style and they’ll toast it on the flat top for you. – K

Plow brunch

Plow

The Plow at Plow in San Francisco is everything you could want for brunch and more. Everything on the plate was outstanding, but for me two things really stood out. The pancakes and the Nueske’s bacon. These might be the best pancakes I’ve ever eaten and if I could eat Plow’s lemon ricotta pancakes all day I would. The Nueske’s bacon had a smokey flavor unlike any bacon I had ever had and I’ve been craving it ever since. If you plan on going, get their early. It gets packed, quick. Be patient, enjoy the cool San Francisco breeze and keep reminding yourself it will definitely be worth the wait – K

Xi'an Famous Foods Beef Noodle

Xi’an Famous Foods

Confession: I love spicy food. I also love noodles (I will eat ALL of the pastas). Xi’an Famous Foods had been on my radar for quite a while and I was giddy when Meg and I ate here together in September when we made a quick trip to New York. We came, we saw and we conquered this plate of spicy & tingly beef hand-ripped noodles. This dish was the kind of spicy that gets you addicted, and I just kept eating and eating. My only regret is that after a marathon day of eating, we weren’t members of the clean plate club at Xi’an Famous Foods. – K

L’opossum

Waiting and anticipation can either be your friend or your foe. In the case of L’opossum it is your friend because good god the food there is good. I can count on one hand the number of meals I’ve had in Richmond that hold a candle to the experience that I had at L’opossum. Everything from the cocktails to the appetizers (we had escargot btw) to the entrees were incredible. Filet Mignon of Beef “Swellington” was probably my favorite dish of the evening, and I think I would’ve licked the plate if I knew no one was watching. – K

Southbound brunch duck hash

Brunch at Southbound

You had me at duck hash. It is so hard to pick just one thing to eat at Southbound brunch, so just do what I did and pick three things to eat (and share — if you have too). #Firstworldproblem, solved. The common thread to successful dishes during Southbound’s brunch service: bacon hollandaise, which is probably something you didn’t know you needed in your life, but the more you know. You can thank me now for showing you the light. Oh, and do yourself a favor and order a cinnamon roll or two for the table, I promise you won’t regret it. -K

As you can tell, it’s been one delicious year and we’re looking forward to the next one! If you enjoy following along with us here, don’t forget we’re also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

Here’s to year two!

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Gelati Celesti Boulevard Richmond

Ice cream lovers, get excited, because the Scott’s Addition location of Gelati Celesti opens to the public today at noon! And if you stop by on opening day, you might be treated to something special… 😉

The new shop is located at 1400 N. Boulevard, at the corner of Boulevard and Norfolk Street. It has all the ice cream you’ve come to know and love, along with industrial, yet inviting feel we’ve come to expect in Scott’s Addition. This is the fourth and largest location to date.

We had a chance to check out the sweet new digs at a preview event last night, and even Governor Terry McAuliffe was there to celebrate the success and growth that Gelati Celesti has experienced since opening in 1984.

We couldn’t resist doing an ice cream taste test so we could share a few of our favorite flavors with you from the menu. We’re also pretty excited about the retractable garage door, which was open on this unseasonably warm February night.

Most Popular Gelati Celesti Flavors

1. Chocolate Decadence. The number one best seller for the past 30 years, comparable to brownie batter.

2. Just Ask. White Chocolate-based ice cream mixed with creamy peanut butter and oreo chunks.

3. Salted Caramel. It’s just like it sounds!

Meg’s Favorite Gelati Celesti Flavors

My favorite Gelati Celesti flavor of all time is Just Ask, but I decided to branch out for the purpose of this taste test – M

1. Mango Sorbetto. Straight up mango, as fresh as it gets! As delicious as this tasted in February, I know it will taste even better on a hot summer day.

2. Buskey Hard Cider. I love hard cider so much I had to try this flavor, and it’s amazing how much the flavor came through! If you’re a cider fan, give this one a try.

3. Baklava. I thought I would like this one, I just didn’t know how much! Now if we can just get the Richmond Greek Festival to serve it at this year’s festival.

Kelsey’s Favorite Gelati Celesti Flavors

1. Don’t Ask. When I saw this on the menu, I couldn’t help but ask about it. Made with chocolate decadence ice cream, Golden Oreos and peanut butter, it’s basically the opposite of Meg’s all-time favorite Just Ask.

2. Praline and Cream. My all-time favorite Gelati Celesti flavor is cinnamon, but it’s seasonal and wasn’t on the menu. This was the closest flavor they had to cinnamon and I loved the added crunch from the praline.

3. Coffee and Cream. This coffee ice cream is for the latte lovers out there. It is not nearly as strong as the Dark and Dark Blanchard’s flavor ice cream or the Ironclad coffee flavor — although both are also delicious.

You can visit the new Scottt’s Addition location of Gelati Celesti Monday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.

What’s your favorite ice cream from Gelati Celesti? Tell us in the comments below!

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Smoothie bowls Richmond va

Sometimes, you don’t know a dining scene is missing something until that something comes along. That seems to have been the case with North End Juice Co. where even in the cold February weather, things are Busy with a capital B — and they’ve been that way ever since this walk up window opened up to customers just two months ago on December 3.

Located at 718 N. Cleveland Street between West Franklin Street and Park Avenue in the Museum District, this small but mighty juice bar and restaurant is cranking out an impressive assortment of empanadas, smoothies, smoothie bowls and you guessed it, juice (plus about a million other tasty items)!

Seven days a week you’ll find brothers Cliff and Channing Miller — and sometimes a few more smiling faces — behind the counter, taking customer orders, and juicing and blending every drink to order. The restaurant itself is very family friendly and accommodating to kids of all ages. And they’re keeping things in the family with the space next door, too. Their mom, Debra Miller bought the space that formerly housed Cakes by Graham, to open her Richmond location of Incredible Edibles Bakery which specializes in wedding cakes. We were even told that they’ll soon be serving up ice cream out of the Incredible Edibles Bakery space, once the weather warms up!

If you plan to visit, North End Juice Co. is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Select menu items are available at markets throughout town including Cleveland Market and Outpost Richmond.

North End Juice Co. Vegan Ceviche

North End Juice Co. Richmond

The Dish

Everything at North End Juice Co. is made in house and made to order, and it shows through in the quality of every single item on the menu. Specials are offered every single day, so even if you’re a regular to this Museum District spot, there will always be something new for you to try. And everything on the menu is reasonably priced, too, with offerings ranging from $1.50 to $8.

My favorite thing I’ve had the chance to taste at North End is the Butch Trucks smoothie (yes, named after the drummer from The Allman Brothers Band) made with peaches, strawberries and fresh pressed apples. I already have my eye on the pimento cheese and baked empanadas for my next visit. And as someone who’s currently battling a cold, I’m thinking about stopping by ASAP for The Medicine Man shot, 1.5 oz of ginger, lemon, orange juice, honey and apple cider vinegar.

The best advice I can give you about North End Juice Co. doesn’t have to do with what’s on the menu —  because it’s all good — but with the timing of your visit. Get there early, and you’ll have the best chance at everything on the menu being available. No matter when you go, the service from the Miller brothers will be top notch, exactly what you would hope for from your walk up neighborhood spot.

-M

I’ve visited North End Juice Co. on a few cold mornings — thankfully they have heaters to keep you warm while you wait — and I cannot get over how big the ham, egg and cheese croissant is. The flaky buttery croissant dough paired with the warm egg, melted cheese and salty ham makes for the perfect hand-held comfort food. And even though it is huge, it’s really hard not to eat the whole thing in one sitting. It’s just that good. It’s too bad it isn’t good for you. To balance things out I like to wash the croissant down with the Bee’s Knees smoothie (mango, almond milk and honey) or the Greengo, a fresh pressed juice comprised of cucumber, kale, spinach, apple, celery, lemon and ginger.

Stuffed croissant at North End Juice Co. richmond

I’m also partial to the cajun chicken salad, which is not a sandwich but a tub of chicken salad that you can take home with you. The cajun spices definitely give it a kick. It is very peppery (in a good way) and almost reminds me of a few buffalo chicken salad recipes without the blue cheese. I love the added crunch from the crisp the celery and red onion.

Cajun chicken salad
If I’m attempting to be somewhat healthy, I’ll pick up a tub and use it in my salads at home or just eat it like a dip with some everything pretzel chips.

Oh and Hazel loves North End Juice Co. too! She’s trying to step up her model game so she can be featured as NorthEndJuiceCo’s Instagram #Dogoftheday.

-K

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gearharts fine chocolates

We love any excuse to enjoy good chocolate, but we thought Valentine’s Day would be an especially good time of year to sit down with Tim Gearhart, owner of Gearharts Fine Chocolates to learn more about Gearharts and the chocolate they offer.

A pastry chef by trade, Tim Gearhart started Gearharts back in 2001 — and he hasn’t looked back since. Gearharts has two locations, one in Richmond and one in Charlottesville. Both locations serve as retail locations, but Charlottesville is also the home to Gearharts’ production kitchen and a chocolate cafe. We’re hoping to check out that location soon — because who can resist a chocolate cafe? — but on this visit we stayed in Richmond and visited the shop at Libbie and Grove.

Valentine’s Day is one of the single busiest days of the year for Gearharts, if not the busiest day, and in years past they’ve made 60,000 pieces of chocolate for just one day. Gearhart’s offers a number of gift options that would be good for Valentine’s Day, from wrapped assortments to specialty treats like Peanut Butter Pups, Whisky Truffles or Malt Caramels (which we love). They even have handmade caramels for those who don’t love chocolate.

One of the most popular things that Gearharts offers, though, is the single pieces of chocolate that customers can use to create their own personalized assortment. According to Gearhart, the single pieces fly out the door all day long. He calls the individual pieces ($1.90 a pop) an affordable luxury, something that customers can enjoy without feeling overly indulgent.

In case you’re looking to make your own box of chocolates from the glass case at Gearharts this Valentine’s Day, we’ve listed some of our favorite chocolates that we tried on our visit to Gearharts below. And if you don’t live in Richmond or Charlottesville, you can shop online and Gearharts will ship your order directly to you!

Meg’s Picks

Raspberry-Zin

Semi-sweet chocolate ganache with raspberry-zinfandel conserves, dipped in dark chocolate. 

This selection was one of the simpler chocolates we tried, but I appreciated how much the raspberry flavor was able to shine through. I usually prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate, but the semi-sweet chocolate ganache provided the perfect balance alongside the dark chocolate in the Raspberry-Zin.

Apricot-Brandy

Milk chocolate ganache with dried apricots soaked in French cognac, finished in both white and milk chocolates.

The first thing I noticed about this chocolate was its smell, which is very fresh and sweet. The apricot flavor really comes through in this chocolate and it was probably my very favorite of all the chocolates we had a chance to taste. I’ll be honest, this isn’t one I would have tried from the description alone so I encourage you to try it, even if it at first look you don’t feel like it would be up your alley.

Maya

Rich, bittersweet chocolate ganache flavored with cinnamon, Ancho chili and orange, dusted with cocoa.

Have you ever had candied orange peels dipped in chocolate? It makes sense that the flavors would be similar given the ingredients that are a part of the Maya chocolate, but that’s the first thing I thought of when I bit into this one. You can really taste the orange zest, and as someone who enjoys fruit flavors, I really liked that about this chocolate.

Almond Mocha

Espresso ganache and marzipan with a whole roasted almond, glazed with milk chocolate.

Call me a lady who loves marzipan, it’s an ingredient I’m always drawn to, no matter the dish. This chocolate was super creamy and the whole roasted almond added the perfect element of crunch to it. The espresso flavor throughout was subtle but definitely present, which was perfect for my taste buds.

Kelsey’s Picks

Mint Julep

Creamy milk chocolate ganache infused with fresh mint, spiked with aged Kentucky bourbon and dipped in milk chocolate.

Mint and chocolate can be wonderful when paired together, it can also taste like chocolatey toothpaste. Thankfully, Gearharts’ Mint Julep does not fit the latter description. This smooth chocolate has just a hint of bourbon and the subtle mint flavor compliments the creamy milk chocolate.

Vanilla Bean Brulee

White chocolate ganache with vanilla bean and “torched” sugar caramel dipped in white chocolate.

The name of this chocolate alone had me intrigued, and the presentation was just beautiful. I was a little confused as to how a piece of chocolate would end up tasting like creme brulee, but Gearharts has made magic happen. And I really liked the texture from the crispy torched sugar caramel.

Brown Butter Caramel

Classic rich caramel made with browned butter, fresh cream and a hint of sea salt, encased in milk chocolate.

I’m a sucker for a good caramel, and when you mix caramel and chocolate you’ve got a winning combination. I was worried that the caramel might stick to my teeth, but was pleasantly surprised when it didn’t. The caramel did have a very deep, rich flavor and the hint of sea salt balanced out the very sweet treat.

Malted Milk Hazelnut

Whipped Gianduja, malted milk and toasted hazelnuts, dipped in creamy milk chocolate.

Gianduja is a chocolate spread that contains hazelnut paste (think Nutella). This chocolate instantly reminded me of a Ferrero Rocher, in the best kind of way, like a fancier version of it. The toasted hazelnuts gave each bite a bit of a crunch, something I appreciated after tasting what seemed like dozens of soft, creamy chocolates. This option would be perfect for someone who doesn’t like any bitterness in their chocolate.


P.S. Stop by both Gearharts locations today between 4 – 6 p.m. for Chocolate Happy Hour. Single priced chocolates are half priced (limit 4 per person) and select beverages and pastry items will also be half off at the Charlottesville location.

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Healthy Snacks We Love

The holiday season is filled with opportunities for indulging. From potlucks with friends to office holiday parties, there are a number of occasions this time of year featuring food that’s delicious but not always the most healthy. In case you need a break from the heavy hors d’oeuvres, we put together a list of five healthy snacks we’ve been enjoying lately. Note: “healthy” is a loose term around here, by healthy, we mean these are not donuts and french fries.

Cranberry Chèvre Log and Pretzel Thins

Trader Joe's Cranberry Chèvre Log

I’m the kind of person that loves to bring chips and salsa to a potluck because I’m strapped for time or I get too nervous about trying to make something complicated for a group that I’m trying to please. Enter my go-to shareable snack: Trader Joe’s Cranberry Chèvre Log, served with pretzel thins. This festive (thanks to the cranberries) holiday treat looks pretty and tastes delicious, a wonderful combination of the tart and sweet cranberries with creamy goat cheese pair well with the saltiness of pretzels. The chèvre log is priced under $5 and if you aren’t a fan of cranberries there are apple cinnamon and blueberry versions as well.

-K

Halo Top Ice Cream

Halo Top Ice Cream

If you have an Instagram account and you follow any food bloggers you’ve probably seen this ice cream all over your feed. This low-calorie option actually tastes and resembles the consistency of ice cream! At around 80 calories per serving, Halo Top pints have about as many calories as just one serving of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream – and let’s be real no one can stick to eating just one serving of ice cream. New flavors were released earlier this fall and I cannot wait to try them all, so far I’ve had the s’mores, oatmeal cookie and salted caramel (according to USA Today, peanut butter cup is the best tasting new flavor — no wonder it’s sold out all the time). A pint at Kroger will run you about $4 (when they’re on sale, which they currently are) and if saving money isn’t your thing you’ll find Halo Top at most grocery stores around town.

-K

Hope Foods Hummus and Pita Chips

Hope Hummus

We’re always up for trying a new hummus options and Hope Foods has some of the best variety of flavors that we’ve seen. Hope Foods offers 10 varieties of hummus, and we picked up two for a recent taste test. The Thai Coconut Curry was extremely flavorful and the Spicy Avocado variety could have easily passed for guacamole. Fun fact: the first type of hummus Hope Foods created was their Spicy Avocado hummus, followed in second by the original hummus!

With both the curry and avocado, we sort of forgot that we were eating hummus, which is the best kind of healthy snack, right? Hope Foods Hummus is available locally at Ellwood Thompson’s, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market. We enjoyed the hummus with carrots and pita chips, and we’re hoping to get our hands on one of the chocolate hummus varieties soon, because we need to make this recipe for dark chocolate cookie s’mores dip we found on their website. Like now.

– M & K

Mandarin Oranges

Halo Mandarin Oranges

I pick up a 3 lb. bag of mandarin oranges almost weekly at the grocery store this time of year and I usually end up snacking on one or two throughout the course of the day. I often find myself purchasing the Halos brand, California grown mandarins that Halos touts as being easy to peel, super sweet and seedless.

I’ve always referred to these “baby oranges” as clementines, but you learn something new every day: according to the Halos website, the Halos brand offers two mandarin varieties: clementines, which are available from November to January, and W. Murcott Afourers, which are available February to April. Mandarins are available at most grocery stores when they are in season, including Kroger, Aldi, The Fresh Market and Food Lion.

-M

Noosa Yoghurt and Hudson Henry Baking Company Granola

Granola and Yogurt

Confession: I’ve tried to love a lot of different yogurts through the years, but it’s not always a snack that’s been my favorite. I’m not sure what it is, but until recently, I’ve never found a yogurt that I actually really enjoy eating all that much. That’s not the case now that I’ve tried Noosa Yoghurt. I’m slightly addicted to the strawberry rhubarb variety, to the extent that I had a Kroger associate hunt down a few containers of my favorite flavor for me this past weekend when I saw they were out of stock on the shelves. Noosa is available at Kroger, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods and other local grocers.

An 8 oz. container is listed as one serving, but I usually find myself happily eating half of a container topped with a spoonful or two of one of my favorite Virginia-made products,  granola from Hudson Henry Baking Company. If you haven’t tried the Maple & Walnut granola from Hudson Henry Baking Company, do yourself a favor and pick some up today. The pretty packaging would make it a great holiday gift, too!

-M

What’s your favorite healthy snack? Tell us in the comments below!

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Our first full day in New York City was probably proof to all of you that we sure know how to pack a lot into one day, and our second day in the city was no different! We (and we by we, I mean Kelsey — I’m horrible at directions) navigated the subway system quite easily with help of Citymapper, a great transit app that makes navigation a breeze in select cities throughout the world.

We did both manage to lose our MetroCard at least once, but oh well, you can’t win ’em all. We even managed to do one or two activities that were entirely unrelated to food. Shocking, we know! Take a look below at what we did with our second day in the city. -M

Terrace Bagels

We started our morning by picking up breakfast at Terrace Bagels to enjoy outside at Prospect Park, the largest public park in Brooklyn. There is ample seating inside Terrace Bagels, but we wanted to get a head start on enjoying the beautiful weather outside.

bagels-new-york

Terrace Bagels Brookyln

This was the first meal of the trip we didn’t share — Kelsey ordered a breakfast sandwich with Taylor Pork Roll, egg and cheese on an everything bagel, and I ordered my favorite bagel combo, an onion bagel topped with capers, red onion and scallion cream cheese. I couldn’t resist getting a half dozen bagels to take home and freeze, which I’m already looking forward to enjoying on a Saturday in the near future. -M

Dominique Ansel Bakery

Someone (aka me) forgot to check what time our first activity opened (Birchbox), so we arrived about 15 minutes too early. We had scoped out our Google Map before making the trek from Brooklyn to Soho so we knew that the bakery famous for inventing the cronut was right around the corner (like we needed an excuse to try a cronut).

cronut-new-york-city

Inside, the space was a little cramped, but fortunately the line around 10:45 a.m. was reasonable (as in not out the door) and we quickly placed our order. There are a limited number of cronuts made each day and only one seasonal flavor available — which rotates each month and is never repeated. The September cronut flavor was Pear Honey Cream Cheese. As we ordered they pulled out the final tray of cronuts, so take note on weekdays you should definitely go before lunch time — I cannot imagine what it is like to try and snag one on a weekend.

The cronut was honestly smaller than I expected, but that wasn’t a bad thing considering that amount of food Meg and I consumed during our trip. I don’t even know how to describe what it tasted like, but all you need to know is that every cronut is fried, rolled in sugar, stuffed with cream and then topped with a glaze. Check the Dominique Ansel Bakery Facebook page so you’ll know what the seasonal flavor is before you go, October’s flavor is Banoffee (caramelized banana and dulce de leche ganache), with salted butter biscuits. -K

Birchbox

Birchbox Soho

Kudos to Kelsey for adding Birchbox SoHo to our list of must-do activities while on this trip. This location is the only brick-and-mortar Birchbox store, and I think we would both agree that it was one of the most fun things we did while in New York. The vibe in the store was extremely friendly and welcoming and as soon as walked through the doors, we were greeted by a BYOB sign of the very best variety — an invitation to build your own Birchbox! We made a beeline for the back of the store and with the assistance of a super helpful Birchbox employee, we each made a customized Birchbox. For only $15, we each chose five items for our box, each from a different category like skincare or fragrance. We’re both equally obsessed with the dry shampoo we picked out.

Though we didn’t take advantage of the store’s beauty services on this visit, they do offer makeup and hair services in store as well as beauty parties for groups. Maybe next time! -M

Eataly

Where do I even start with Eataly?! This was one of our non-food, food stops meaning that neither of us planned on eating anything here, but we were just going for the “experience”. After eating a bagel and cronut earlier in the day we surprisingly both stuck to our word and just spent an hour exploring everything that Eataly had to offer. There were food stalls, sit-down restaurants, fresh pastas, meats, gelato, candy and so much more. It was honestly a little overwhelming. I loved seeing all of the fresh items that you could take home to prepare a meal in your own kitchen and I know that if I lived anywhere near an Eataly I would be a regular customer.

eataly-pasta

Knowing that we still had many adventures ahead of us, Meg and I both stuck to only buying small things at Eataly (aka we didn’t want to carry something heavy around for the rest of the day), we both left we bags of Italian chocolates. And I also grabbed some bucatini pasta (not fresh) for a few recipes I’m wanting to make at home. -K

Luke’s Lobster

I haven’t had a lobster roll since Taylor and I went to Maine this past August, and with good reason — I wasn’t sure one could live up to what I experienced at The Clam Shack in Kennebunkport. I had heard so many good things about Luke’s Lobster, though, that when it ended up being a two minute walk away when I was hungry for lunch I decided it couldn’t hurt to give it a whirl. Besides, if any lobster roll was going to complete with the ones I had in Maine, it would be the one from this spot, as Luke’s Lobster was started by Luke Holden, a Maine native and former lobsterman.

lukes-lobster-new-york-city

I ordered a lobster roll which came with mayonnaise, lemon butter and a touch of Luke’s secret seasoning along with a side of the poppy seed vinaigrette slaw, which was perfectly refreshing and a nice addition to the meal. I’m glad I gave Luke’s a chance, because this lobster roll was one worth writing home about, rivaling the best one I had on my trip to Maine. – M

Levain Bakery

Shocking, I know I picked two bakeries for us to visit in one day. I had recently come across Levain Bakery on Instagram and instantly I was intrigued by these cookies that were served exactly how I like them: warm, and a tad gooey in the center. The question was, would these cookies actually taste as good as they looked?

levain-cookie

The answer is a resounding, YES! I think these actually taste better than they look, which is impressive considering they look, damn delicious in photos. If there isn’t a line (which there probably will be) you walk down a small set of stairs into the tiny bakery on the Upper West Side. Cookies come in four flavors (chocolate chip walnut, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip and dark chocolate peanut butter chip) and they are massive. Naturally, I ordered two flavors (because I have no self-control)— chocolate chip walnut and dark chocolate peanut butter chip — and I don’t think I’ve made a better decision in my life. Dare I say it, these are probably the best cookies I’ve ever had.

If you don’t live in New York City, Harlem or the Hamptons, you can have cookies shipped right to your door, they just won’t be gooey or warm when you receive them. -K

Serendipity 3

I love a good chick flick, including Serendipity, one of my favorite movies to watch around the holidays starring Kate Beckingsale and John Cusack. Ever since watching the movie for the first time and seeing the scene where they share a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, I’ve always wanted to go to that restaurant and enjoy one myself. Can I just say how satisfying it is to actually do something you’ve wanted to do for a really long time? I know that might sound silly as I’m talking about a frozen beverage here, but my blogging partner in crime can attest that I looked like a kid in a candy story when we stepped inside the restaurant.

frozen-hot-chcolate

We lucked out with no wait at all, which was great considering it can be hours long during the holiday season. We shared a frozen hot chocolate which was quite generous in size and everything I hoped it would be. It’s worth noting that the restaurant does have an order minimum per person ($8.50), and sharing one frozen hot chocolate isn’t quite enough to meet it, so be prepared to order an extra side or drink depending on the number of people in your party. -M

Superiority Burger

By this point in the trip I was feeling like I needed to eat something that wasn’t completely awful for my health, so I convinced Meg to go on an adventure with me to Superiority Burger before heading back to Brooklyn to get ready for the concert.

superiority-burger

What you might not have gathered from the name is that Superiority Burger is an all vegetarian restaurant. Sadly our dreams of going to similarly named Salvation Burger (which is not vegetarian) were crushed by a kitchen fire earlier this year and this was its burger replacement. So let’s just say the bar was (probably unfairly) set pretty high. And Superiority Burger delivered.

I’m not sure what they put in that veggie burger but I can say with 100% certainty that if I could only ever have this burger again (instead of regular meat burgers) I would be perfectly happy. It was just that good. My one complaint is that the burger is a bit small (think almost White Castle sized), but after all of the bakery visits, I wasn’t I didn’t need large meal. -K

Adele

Finally, the concert! The whole reason for us coming to New York. Adele was incredible in concert, she sounded just like she does on her album and was more of an entertainer than I expected her to be. She LOVES to chat it up with the crowd and even posed for selfies with the concert goers lucky enough to have seats at floor level.

Adele Madison Square Garden

Admittedly Meg and I had nosebleed seats, which is what happens when there thousands of people are vying for the same tickets as you and Ticketmaster assigns you seats, but we still enjoyed the two-hour show. For all of you attending her show in Washington, D.C. you are in for a treat! -K

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