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A brief encounter with spring and a not-so-pleasant encounter with my dentist brought me out and about on Newbury Street earlier in the week.

(Edited to add that I love my dentist. I also love seltzer water and wine and salsa and all sorts of acidic foods and drinks, which have not been super supportive of my teeth enamel. Be careful!)

Newbury Street is a favorite for warm weather wandering, and when my appointment ended at 5:45, it seemed like the right thing to stick around and enjoy the energy.

My husband thought the same thing, and after he miraculously found parking right on the street, we went for a stroll before heading into La Voile for dinner.

(Their website has music, which I absolutely hate. That’s unfortunate.)

La Voile Boston

We sat at the beautiful zinc bar and ordered cocktails to start off a long and leisurely dinner; we were there for a few hours. My cocktail, La Detente, was delicious and the perfect choice on a slightly chilly evening. The smoky Pig’s Nose scotch, Gran Classico Quinquina, and orange warmed me right up and had just the right amount of smokiness and kick. I would definitely order this again.

French Onion Soup

We decided to share French Onion Soup, a beet salad, charcuterie, and mussels for a little taste of a variety of different dishes, and it ended up being the right choice.

First of all, the soup was to.die.for. The broth was so rich and savory, and the gooey cheese and bread were heavenly. It was *almost* as good as my mom’s and made me realize I need more French Onion Soup in my life.  So good.

beet salad

The salad was a needed addition to our diets. We’ve been trying to eat more vegetables, and since we both love beets, this was a great option. Moules frites are always a good choice, especially when a creamy lemon curry option is available, and the frites are perfectly golden, hot, and crisp. I loved dunking frites into the flavorful curry.

moules frites

The charcuterie was one of the best I’ve had, with a truffle pate and a garlicky sausage and pickled onions, all just delicious.

charcuterie

kir royale

While we were finishing up, our server brought us each a complimentary Kir Royale. It turns out they needed us to move to accommodate a larger party, which given that it was Red Sox opening day, we would have been happy to do. It was a nice touch though, to have them offer us something before even asking. I love a Kir Royale!

espresso Settled into new seats and perfectly happy, we decided to stay for espresso and dessert, a chocolate fondant that was gooey and warm, paired with vanilla ice cream. Again, a simple, flawless plate.

chocolate fondant We could have stayed all night, but Monday dates are a rare treat, and we needed to get home to work. We looked longingly at La Voile’s patio as we left, vowing to return on a warmer night for much longer.

La Voile Patio

La Voile was an exceptional dining experience and perfect for a date night. Service and food were both excellent, I loved their wine list and cozy space, and am happy to have another Boston date night favorite on the list.

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Tags: Boston, date night, dessert, Dining out, Restaurants, wine

Our home base in Old San Juan was exactly what we wanted in terms of location (and everything else). It was so close to many restaurants and beautiful spaces that it encouraged us to walk and explore all over, burning off some of the rum drinks that we enjoyed while relaxing in Luquillo.

rum tasting in old san juan

Casa Melaza was the cute rum bar just around the corner from our hotel. It was a lovely space with door open to the street and a healthy selection of rum. We enjoyed all of the rums we tasted, but we weren’t thrilled with the service. There was no menu or tasting list with prices, and when I asked the staff member got an attitude. I’m not sure what it was, maybe a little arrogance, that just got to us, and we agreed we would hesitate to go back.

 

Mallorca sandwich

Aside from that, everything was perfect, with delicious food and lovely people.  One of the staples of my Puerto Rico diet (and half the reason I need a real diet now) was my love for Mallorca Paninis, thin pressed sandwiches stuffed with ham and cheese and sprinkled with delectably messy powdered sugar. The salty ham and cheese paired with the sweet? Heavenly.

Anam Spa and Cocktail Lounge

Also heavenly? A salon/spa/cocktail lounge in one. We discovered Anam Cocktail Spa in the evening as it was about to close and had a quick cocktail on their terrace in a beautiful, dusky setting overlooking the city and the sea.

And we vowed to return the next day for cocktails and spa!

al fresco drinks in Old San Juan

Massages were $1/minute, and anything above $20 included a glass of sangria.

Anam Spa Old San Juan

Our massages were done side-by-side in an airy room with light music playing in the background, and I swear I would fly to San Juan just for this massage. It was blissful. I was in a sleeping/awake state the whole time, and then gazed out the door with a strong and delicious sangria after.

Anam Spa

 

 

El Convento

We spent a good chunk of our time in Old San Juan visiting El Convento, an iconic spot in the city, and for good reason. This was one of the only places we visited on our brief layover on the way home from Grenada, and we knew we wanted to go back. It was our first stop, for a morning mojito in their gorgeous courtyard.

mojitos at El Convento

 

mojitos And then we went back later to El Picoteo, a practical tapas institution that was recommended by many people, including Molly.

We had rum drinks and a couple of tapas, followed by a long walk for the sunset.

san juan sunset

Followed by another walk and then a return to El Picoteo for more rum drinks and tapas. It actually felt really good to stretch out the meal and drinks with some movement and fresh air.

el picoteo

We loved the bartender at El Picoteo, who had moved from Michigan (or Wisconsin?) with his fiance, gotten married there, and stayed. It made me want to pick up my life and move there too!

We had some amazing sausages in wine and classic gambas al ajillo, in addition to Manchego with truffle honey. Yum.

cheese and truffle honey

And we loved El Convento so much we returned for breakfast the next day, and you guessed it, a Mallorca Panini (with mimosas).

Mallorca sandwich

Our final day in Puerto Rico was super hot (even for me), so in addition to lots of wandering, we also sought cool breezes in shady courtyards with cold drinks. You can’t go to San Juan without a trip to Barrachina for a Piña Colada where they were created!

original pina colada

We talked cocktails with the fun bartender while sipping slushy, coconutty deliciousness and loved it. The only downside of that experience was the arrival of throngs of cruise ship passengers in town for the day. They basically fit the stereotypical American tourist bill; loud, pushy, rude, unwilling to try new things. We had a chuckle and bushed it off, too happy with our cocktails and relaxation to let their takeover bother us.

ceviche

empanada

All good things must come to an end, so before we left for the airport we had one last taste of the flavor of San Juan. Nono’s was another open-air spot with a huge menu, and we went for a tangy ceviche and lobster-stuffed empanadas. Delicioso!

San Juan has so much to see, do, and taste, and we only got started on making our way through this magical little city. We fell in love with Puerto Rico, and I hope someday that you get to as well.

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Tags: cocktails, Dining out, Food, Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, rum, Travel, travel blog

Looking through my phone’s camera roll, it appears I have been eating, drinking, and being pretty merry (and eating and drinking some more). It’s time for a roundup of all of the greats of late that somehow haven’t made it into the blog!

lunch at Abe & Louie's

I learned all about the natural beauty of Germany and German tourism over an incredible steak salad lunch at Abe & Louie’s. This was the second Germany Tourism event I attended, and just like the first one on travel to Bavaria, it made me want to plan a trip to Germany soon!

 

Cidergeist

Cidergeist launched in Boston! I was in Puerto Rico for the launch, but they sent me samples, and I loved the Semi Dry Hard Cider.

Dorset Hall Dorchester

Dorset Hall

Dorset Hall shepherd's pie

We went to a new local Dorchester spot, Dorset Hall on their opening night and fell in love.  Their cocktails, raw bar, pork chop, and shepherd’s pie are all awesome, the space is huge and beautiful, and the staff is great. They nailed it so much on that first night we have been back three times since. It’s a nice addition to our Dorchester restaurant lineup!

New England Boat Show We went to the New England Boat Show and bought a boat. Oops.

It wasn’t spur of the moment though. We went two days in a row did hours of research before we decided on a brand new Stingray. I can.not.wait to get back on the water. The new boat is completely different than the old one. It’s a bowrider, which means the front is open and perfect for sunning and jumping into the sea. Not having a cabin means it is shallower in the water, easier to beach on islands out in Boston Harbor for lazy days, and yet it still has a bathroom (my requirement).

 

Two Shepherds wine club

Spring wine clubs starting arriving. We love Two Shepherds Wine, and now that Massachusetts laws have changed, getting our favorite wine is so much easier!

Hotel Northampton

I started working with two new clients, Hotel Northampton in Hampshire County Massachusetts and gardenUP, a turnkey solution for design, delivery, and installation of gardens.

gardenUP

gardenUP exhibited at the Boston Flower and Garden Show. Between the media preview of the show and visiting the gardenUP booth, I went to this beautiful event twice!

Boston Flower and Garden Show

gardening

It inspired me to get planning for my own garden, which is one of my favorite activities to do all year. I can’t wait to see things growing!

Tango Arlington I made a visit up to Arlington for a friend and business dinner at Tango, steak tips, seasoned veggies,  and Malbec, which was basically all I was craving. It was so simple and flavorful and perfect.

North Plank Tavern

We visited family in NJ for Easter and made another stop at the amazing gem of a restaurant, North Plank Tavern, which we found at Christmas. I had the Applejack Manhattan, made with Laird Applejack, which was once made in this historic building! Sitting at the bar is always my favorite, since we like to chat. At this place, every time we visit we learn a little more about the tavern, which has such an interesting history. And we confirmed it also has a few ghosts.

 

Michel Schlumberger wine prime rib dinner

My family put together some amazing meals including our Saturday dinner of a 13 pound prime rib and vegetable sides, paired with a bottle of incredible Le Sage Merlot from one of our visits to Michel Schlumberger in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County. I miss Sonoma something fierce these days.

sparkling wine by the ocean

And finally, we have enjoyed some outdoor bubbly (in glasses we picked up at Shanga in Tanzania). This was from a Sunday night at the yacht club where it was just the two of us around watching the sun sort of set on a cloudy evening. Perfection.

What bits of this and that have you been enjoying?

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Tags: boating, Boston, business, clients, cocktails, flowers, Food, gardening, Travel, wine

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