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With family all over the place, we tend to travel for just about every holiday. While I love seeing family and mixing things up, it can also be a bit of a slog to always have to hop in the car for a traffic-laden ride or to deal with airport crowds during the holiday season. Making fun little stops along the way on road trips can make them feel a little less like a chore and more like an adventure.

On our way home from Christmas in New Jersey, we found ourselves hungry just over the border in New York state, and when I say hungry, I actually mean my blood sugar dropped and I needed to EAT now or harm someone. That happens to everyone, right?

We pulled off the highway in Newburgh, New York expecting to land at a Dunkin’ Donuts or diner, something that would be quick so we could be on our way again. Instead we drove right past North Plank Tavern, a sweet old house with a bright, friendly OPEN flag flying from its doorway.


North Plank Tavern

The cheerful outside against the gray December sky called to us, and since we had plenty of time before dinner plans in Boston, we decided to have a sit down meal and to take our time, something I am not very good at.

We walked inside and were instantly charmed by the narrow doorways and dark wood. We popped our heads in the dining rooms first and finally settled into the empty bar, where we were soon welcomed. My photos aren’t great as I was trying to not have my phone out during a meal, something I want to get better at, but they do give an idea of this historic tavern’s look and feel.

North Plank Tavern

North Plank Tavern North Plank Tavern historic tavern

According to our host and the North Plank Tavern website:

The Tavern has a storied past.  It was  originally built as a hotel along a plank road, and became a Tavern and boarding house.  During prohibition, the Tavern continued to serve alcohol and operated as a speakeasy.

The boarding house was owned by Mrs. Sauer, whose name and photo can be seen in photos above. The space was enchanting; I love history and trying to imagine what things were like in different periods. It also felt a wee bit creepy; I am a strong believer in lingering spirits and always hope to encounter them in old houses! Except my own that is. . .

I love the above photo from the restaurant website, a trap door with Prohibition-era liquor underneath.

North Plank Tavern old fashioned doornautical decor

For an old tavern, I expected the menu to match, with classics and pub-type food. We were pleasantly surprised at the gourmet aspect of the restaurant.

Burrata Tomato Salad

The brunch menu featured an INCREDIBLE truffled Burrata salad with oven-roasted tomatoes. It was absolutely to-die-for and even better because it was NOT what I expected when we stopped for food.

My husband had the slab bacon (naturally) with eggs and home fries, all also excellent. The North Plank Tavern has a big smoker out back, where the bacon was made, it the bacon was delicious. So smoky, meaty, tender, so much better than regular old bacon.

The service was lovely, and the vibe was relaxed. We’ll be planning drives around meals here in the future. I can’t wait to check out the dinner menu,

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Tags: Food, historic restaurant, history, New York, New York State, North Plank Tavern, speakeasy, tavern, Travel

Take me away to someplace warm and beautiful please! Away from crazy, insulting neighbor drama and snow and commuting in freezing rain and cancellations all over the place. Can we just make that happen, please?

Probably not, so amazing travel memories are the next best thing, I would say. I love poring through photos from all sorts of trips throughout the years and feeling the warm memories that come with them, even if they are from places like Galway, that can be chilly.
On the day of our engagement anniversary, after spending a long day in Connemara, we wandered into the center of Galway to see what was going on about town.

Cooke's Wine Bar, Galway

Ireland can be mild and lovely in the winter, but when it’s not, the cold gets right into your bones. On this evening, we realized we needed to duck into someplace warm for a little bit of food and wine, and we made our way to Cooke’s Wine Bar. I always laugh when we walk by Cooke’s because when I was a student in Galway, I lived just a couple of blocks away, but it was one of those nice places we didn’t go to, even though I always really wanted to. We would walk by it, coat-less of course, on the way to the nearby nightclub, freezing to avoid a one pound coat check fee, seeing all the grown-ups inside enjoying a nice dinner. Ten years later, I finally made it to Cooke’s!

romantic dining

Galway is a medieval city, and many of the buildings are old, like 1500′s old. Cooke’s is housed in a stone building and decorated inside with rich fabrics, antiques, and tall taper candles. It’s cozy and romantic, and it is a gorgeous, multi-level space that I would recommend exploring. The top floor, on a quiet night, however, was a wee bit creepy. So much history there! I love the candles, but I also have a history of accidental menu fires, so I was sure to steer clear.

Cooke's Wine Bar, Galway

Cooke's Wine Bar, Galway

Cooke’s might be in an old building, but the cuisine is fresh and new, incorporating the many cultures that have found their way to this beautiful little city.  The wine list is worth the trip alone; it’s not overwhelming like some places can be, but it is full of little gems. You could easily sip a rainy night away, chatting to locals and tourists and making new friends. As we ate, new diners came in to be seated, all saying hello and chatting a bit with us.

The menu was difficult to decide on. My cold hands needed some warming up, so I decided to go with the Moroccan Tagine
Spiced chickpeas, carrots and potatoes, served with mint infused couscous and topped with Greek yogurt).  I would usually pair a Sauvignon Blanc, un-oaked Chard, or Gruner with a dish like this, but I was all about being warm, so I had a Tempranillo instead, a gorgeous wine, but white definitely would have paired better.

Cooke's Wine Bar, Galway

This dish was so full of spices and flavor with just enough heat to warm me up. I needed vegetables after so many days of vacationing, and the veggies and couscous were more than enough for a hearty, healthy meal. I love this place.

This past weekend was a mix of fun and stress, ending on the stressful side, our home once again feeling like a hostile place we don’t want to be, thanks to other people’s lack of consideration. Writing this post reminded me what a fun little escape blogging can be and why I keep on doing it. Despite being really down last night, it was nice to be reminded how much this little blog has done for my life; I’ve met so many of you.  Thanks for reading. And can my awesome blogging community just be my new neighbors too? :)

If you were in a blizzard zone this weekend, how did you fare?

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Tags: Dining out, Food, Galway, history, Restaurants, travel. Ireland, wine

Being a tourist in your own city and state can be a ton of fun. With my new job, where one of my responsibilities is planning press and trade visits to promote Massachusetts, I am learning a ton of information about both Boston and the rest of Massachusetts pretty much on a daily basis, and it makes me love living here even more. The weather could be a little better, but otherwise, it’s just one of my favorite places to be.

This past Thursday, I finally took a proper tour of the Boston Tea Party Museum. You may remember the cool cocktail party I went to there during the Boston Cocktail Summit where we got to see parts of the space while sipping "Liberty Libations”. This time around, I got to see all of the special effects and to be part of December 16, 1773. The tour is incredibly interesting, and the special effects definitely brought on the kid in me; there are some surprises along the way!

On Thursday I also learned about the speaker series that’s coming up at the museum. We have quite the history here in Boston, and the Tea Party Museum is a great place to experience it an interactive, engaging way. I’ve included details on the series for those history buffs out there. For those of us who only think about food, there’s also that.

Do you have a favorite attraction or place in your home city that you would promote to out-of-town guests?


February 2013 – John & Abigail Adams Love Letters and Chocolate

What was love like during Colonial America? The enduring love letters of John and Abigail Adams provide an insightful picture of 18th-century American life in the Boston area and beyond. These intimate letters also reveal the intellectually and emotionally fulfilling relationship between them that lasted 54 years and withstood historical upheavals, long periods apart, and personal tragedies. Their iconic personalities come to life as actors from the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum read a selection of letters and reveal, in the words of John and Abigail Adams, their teasing humor and their undying love and respect for each other.

Tickets also includes a tasting of new Fixx Chocolates created by Nicole Coady formerly head Pastry Chef at Finale Desserterie & Bakery. Her new line of chocolates will be launched to the public for the first time at the Valentine’s Day evening on Thurs., Feb. 14, 2013. Each program also includes a brief history and explanation of the significance of chocolate around Valentine’s Day along with a choice of sparkling wine or cabernet sauvignon to toast this romantic holiday.

Dates: Thurs., Feb. 14 & Fri., Feb. 15, 2013

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Price: $35/ticket

March 2013 – The History of Ship Building in New England with Master Shipwright Leon Poindexter

Ship building is one of the oldest industries in the United States with roots in the earliest New England colonial settlements. Leon Poindexter, a master shipwright of several historic vessels and consultant to maritime museums around the world, will be discussing the history of ship building in New England. Mr. Poindexter learned his trade from some of the last of the “old timers” who worked in the famed shipyards of Essex and Cape Ann, Mass. With more than 30 years experience, he builds, repairs and restores large traditionally built historic wooden sailing vessels and their rigs. Some of his vessels are on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to recreating the Beaver and Eleanor for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum in Gloucester, Mass., Mr. Poindexter has worked on many other important ships, including the USS Constitution and the Bounty. He was the master shipwright in recreating the HMS Surprise, used in the Academy Award-winning movie “Master and Commander” starring Russell Crowe.

The afternoon will also entail singing of authentic Colonial sea shanty songs taught and led by actors at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. Also included in the ticket price is clam chowder, corn bread and beer/other beverages.

Date: Sat., March 16, 2013

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Price: $35/ticket (adult)/ $15 (children aged 17 & under)

April 2013 (Patriot’s Day) – Defiance of the Patriots with Tufts University Associate Professor of History Benjamin Carp

Following the 10 a.m. unveiling of a new statue honoring Patriot Samuel Adams at the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, Benjamin Carp, Tufts University Associate Professor of History and author of the award-winning book Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, will be illuminating the myths, little known historical facts, the unique city life of 18th-century Boston and the global and local political ramifications of an iconic event in America’s tempestuous past which was the Boston Tea Party. Professor Carp is an expert in the area of Colonial, Revolutionary and early America history and is the official historian for the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum. His book will be available for sale and Professor Carp will sign copies at both sessions. Tickets also include tea and pastries.

Date: Patriot’s Day – Fri., April 19, 2013

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. & 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Price: $35/ticket

May 2013 – Okakura Kakuzo and The Book of Tea with Tea Expert Bruce Richardson

In 1906 in turn-of-the century Boston, The Book of Tea was written by Okakura Kakuzo, the Japanese-born Curator of Asian Arts at the Museum of Fine Arts. The small, esoteric book beautifully described the role of tea as the international cup of humanity. Okakura emerged as one of the great thinkers of the early 20th-century and was greatly responsible for interpreting Eastern philosophy to Western cultures. Author and leading tea historian, Bruce Richardson served as editor of the 2011 edition of Okakura Kakuzo’s classic work. More than a century later, this book is still beloved the world over. Mr. Richardson will explain how Okakura’s philosophy continues to inspire today’s tea and art culture. He will share the fascinating stories of the relationships between Okakura and notable Boston Brahmins such as Isabella Stewart Gardner, John LaFarge, Ernest Fenollosa, and John Singer Sargent, as well as the philosopher’s influence upon American artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mr. Richardson has been educating Americans in the art of celebrating the communal cup of tea for more than 20 years. He is the author of a dozen books on tea, including the National Trust of England’s reference book, The New Tea Companion and regularly visits tea venues across Great Britain and North America in his unending quest to discover new locations for the latest editions of his books The Great Tea Rooms of Britain and The Great Tea Rooms of America. Mr. Richardson also serves as Tea Master for The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum.  His books will be for sale and he will sign copies at both sessions.

The event will include tea time pastries and a tasting of Abigail’s Blend, the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum’s signature blend of historic 1773 Chinese teas designed by Mr. Richardson.

Dates/Times: Fri., May 3, 2013 – 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Sat., May 4, 2013 – 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Price: $35/ticket

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Tags: Boston, events, history, Travel

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