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Welcome to paradise! We made our now annual visit to Luquillo, Puerto Rico last month, and it was as perfect as we remembered.

Read all about last year’s trip to Puerto Rico here:

Colorful Old San Juan

Luquillo’s Kiosks

Outdoor Adventures in Puerto Rico

Luquillo, Puerto Rico, A Tropical Paradise

Luquillo Sunrise Beach Inn We had a shorter amount of time for travel this year, so we decided to stay in Luquillo, with no plans other than sitting on the beach and swimming. The Luquillo Sunrise Beach Inn was a perfect, beachy home base. I didn’t take many photos, but we loved our incredibly clean and comfy room, especially the balcony and the sound of the crashing waves.

Breakfast was free and delicious (coconut cream stuffed French toast!), as was WiFi, and the location really couldn’t be beat for our purposes. The staff was friendly and warm, and the office had beach towels, boogie boards for rent, as well as stuff like beers and snacks for sale. They provided us with a ton of information and recommendations on the area and generally made us feel right at home.

Luquillo Sunrise Views on views on views

Luquillo

Despite the comfy-ness of our bed, I slept as poorly as I always do, which meant I got to capture that famous Luquillo sunrise. Just me, the waves, and the rising sun at 5:50 am. . .

Luquillo Sunrise

Being up early meant I had time to get work done before our day truly started. Try as I might to take days off, I just can’t seem to.  It was nice to get out of the way and to mostly have the whole day ahead for relaxing. Luquillo Beach

Our days in Luquillo basically looked like this. We sunbathed (with loads of SPF), drank cheap local beers and fresh coconut water, swam, rode waves on our rented boogie boards, and that’s about it.


Medalla Light

 

Luquillo Beach

Luquillo surfing

Boardriders Luquillo

 Boardriders

We spent the rest of our time primarily at Boardriders, which was one of our favorite places on our last trip. Between the great cocktails, delicious food, and stunning views, plus laid back music and a bohemian vibe, Boardriders is right up my alley, and I miss it a ton!

banana pancakes

Banana pancakes and a BLT Benedict for brunch, accompanied by just a few passionfruit mimosas. .  . brunch We also chowed down on some of the best ribs we’ve ever had, along with tuna bites and multiple tuna poke bowls. Every bite we have eaten in Boardriders has been phenomenal.

poke bowl

We also enjoyed plenty of rum drinks, live music, beautiful sunsets, people-watching in this sleepy seaside community, and of course, the below gorgeousness.

La Pared Beach

Luquillo Puerto Rico

I love Puerto Rico!

 

Terruno

We ventured out of our little neighborhood briefly one evening to go to the kiosks, where we had great food and terrible service at Terruno. It was one of our favorites last year, and we actually kind of regretted not going to Boardriders instead!

Degree 18 Juice Bar

We didn’t plan on going to El Yunque Rainforest again, but after a few days of a ton of sun, heading into a dense, dark forest was just the thing we needed. We stopped at a beautiful new juice bar, Degree 18, which was near the road to the rainforest, and we hydrated with fresh fruit and veggie smoothies. . . with maybe just a touch of Don Q rum. . .

We absolutely loved this little gem, cats and dog and great music making it a lovely place to spend a sunny Monday morning!

El Yunque

El Yunque El Yunque was cool and fresh and dim, quenching our sun-baked skin and leaving us once again in awe of its beauty. What a beautiful world we live in!

El Yunque

El Yunque

We had the best time in Luquillo. It’s an easy JetBlue flight from Boston to San Juan, with a 45 minute drive after, all on quick main highways. For us, it’s the perfect place to relax and reconnect, but with all of the activities in the area and some calm beaches, it’s also great for families.

sunset

Until next time, Puerto Rico. . . we love you!

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Tags: blogger, Food, hotels, island time, Luquillo, Puerto Rico, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger

What a whirlwind the past few weeks have been! From almost a week in NJ to over a week in California to arriving home late last night from a long weekend in Puerto Rico, I feel like I have been on the road and in the air nonstop. I’ve loved it. While I do crave routine, there’s something about a change of perspective that is really inspiring and motivating. It’s good to be home though (and planning our next trip, which is to Camden, Maine in just a few weeks!)

While my husband had a conference in San Francisco, I spent my days working on East Coast time, generally 5:00 am Pacific time until around 1:00 or 2:00, then taking time to explore San Francisco on my own, which was so fun. I still have so many blog posts left, but since food is such an important part of this blog, I bring you a quick peek into some of my San Francisco food and drink finds.

Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant San Francisco

Before a very long walk on Ocean Beach and in Golden Gate Park, I fueled up with a Beach Louie Salad at the Beach Chalet. I wanted something super fresh but also something hearty and filling to get me through the day, and this delicious combination did both. The views from the Beach Chalet are stunning, which certainly set the mood for a fun day of San Francisco exploration.

Magnolia Brewery

I walked for four hours straight in the warm California sun, and my reward in Haight-Ashbury was a cold Ripple in Cloud Water beer at the Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery. This cute corner brew pub was a fun stop for me to rest my feet and refresh with a delicious beer and for some people-watching.

Magnolia Brewery  

After a long hot shower when I returned, I headed to a trendy spot, The Cavalier, for solo dinner. I really enjoy dining alone at times. And I immensely enjoyed my black cod with truffle and the incredible half an avocado with pickled fennel, beets, and red onion. It was a heavenly blend of richness and freshness. The restaurant vibe was great, and while I had a great time alone, I would love to dress up and come back with a group.

 Cavalier San Francisco

Wattle Creek Winery

Since I was in California, I of course made time to find a wine tasting room in San Francisco. On another day of walking, I made my way to Wattle Creek Winery, where I started tasting wines, got to the Viognier, and loved it so much I decided I wanted to stop there and have a glass. The tasting room in San Francisco is in the heart of Ghirardelli Square, and with the sun shining, a musician playing nearby, a delicious glass of wine and a friendly tasting room staff, I was one happy traveler.

Wattle Creek Winery

Ghirardelli Square

That night, I opted for takeout and TV. . . walking those San Francisco hills can definitely take it out of you, and the time zone change meant I was ready for bed by 9 most nights! Oasis Grill in the Financial District has been a favorite for tired takeout in the past, and I loved this falafel and eggplant wrap. I have been craving it ever since!

falafel wrap

We spent the next few days in Mendocino at the Heritage House Resort, and when I returned to San Francisco for a work event, finally had dinner at The Slanted Door in the Ferry Building. I had been to San Francisco so many times and never visited this favorite waterfront hotspot, so I was very excited.

I didn’t disappoint! Talk about cravings. . . I want to eat this food every day. Go with a group, and share as many dishes as possible. Four of us put quite a dent in the menu, devouring all sorts of rolls and noodles and crunchy, spicy, fresh vegetables.

We also polished off a bottle of Croatian wine, which was a highlight of the evening.

The Slanted Door

The Slanted Door

Some people may feel that the Ferry Building restaurants are too touristy, but I still love it. There’s some great food, and the views definitely don’t hurt!

Bay Bridge Sunset

Because of the blizzard back at home, I got a bonus day in San Francisco and was not only able to head back to Sonoma for wine tasting at Gloria Ferrer and Anaba, but we also got introduced to a very cool wine bar I almost don’t want to share. . .

High Treason is the creation of two former fine dining somms who have taken their knowledge and experience and opened up a completely chill local wine bar with ridiculously good small plates and a really interesting wine list, which they know inside and out. If we didn’t have to get to the airport, I would have stayed all night. 

 High Treason

High Treason

I’m beyond lucky that my job, my husband’s job, and blogging have allowed me to have so many of the experiences I have had this year. I am definitely happiest with a suitcase packed and travel research notes all over the place!

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If you live in the Boston area, you probably know about Bin Ends Wine, discount wine stores in Braintree and Needham. Not only do they have an amazing selection and great prices, but they also have a true love, knowledge of, and passion for wine.  They periodically do wine dinners, and over President’s Day weekend, we got a group of friends together to go to their Sonoma wine dinner at The Townshend in Quincy.

The Townshend

wine dinner

Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer

 

scallop crudo

first course
smoked scallop crudo
served with pickled fresno pepper / pork rinds / cilantro
2013 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurtztraminer
"Estate" Sonoma Coast

This was easily my favorite pairing of the night. We love Gundlach Bundschu and have visited many times on trips to Sonoma County. Any sort of crudo is up my alley, and the wine was bright, crisp, and made the dish pop with notes of grapefruit and lemon.

croquette

second course
pork croquette
served with parsnip / gremolata / bone marrow
2014 Raeburn Winery Chardonnay
Russian River Valley

The second course paired a buttery Chardonnay from Raeburn (also a new favorite) with a rich pork and parsnip dish. The vanilla notes in the wine were lovely with the creamy parsnip, another spot-on pairing, and one that was great for a cold Sunday evening. 

lamb  

third course
braised bone-in lamb shank
served with cappellacci / golden raisin / oregano
2011 Donelan Family Wines Syrah
"Walker Vine Hill Vyd" Russian River Valley

Talk about Sunday supper food. . . the third pairing was a hearty, fall-of-the-bone lamb shank with a delicious Syrah from Donelan Family Vineyards. Spice and chocolate and berry notes made for the perfect fireside sipper and a great pairing with the very rich main course.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee  

dessert course
mini "Ghirardelli" sundae
cocoa waffle cone bowl, caramelized white chocolate ice cream, salted caramel chocolate sauce, praline tuille 
  Prepared By Pastry Chef Kate Holochick
Served with The Townshend’s Irish Coffee

At this point I could have rolled out of The Townshend, but we had a San Francisco treat to finish off the evening. A Buena Vista-style Irish coffee and a homemade Ghirardelli Sundae put me in the frame of mind to head to the West Coast and wander the lovely Ghirdardelli Square (which I did just a few weeks later). Easily one of the best desserts I have had in a long time, and the Irish coffee was a sweet and potent way to end the night.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee

After this experience, I really can’t recommend these events enough. It was so much fun, and I hope Bin Ends and The Townshend collaborate again for something similar.

Since I just returned from a visit to Northern California, I have quite a few San Francisco and other posts to share. . . stay tuned!

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Tags: California, Food, food blog, Quincy, Restaurants, Sonoma, travel blog, wine, wine blog

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