You are currently browsing articles tagged Travel.

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday season and a fun New Year’s Eve and are ready for a fun-filled 2015. In case you missed my Best of 2014 posts, you can find the travel post here and the Best of Boston post here.

Two trips to Ireland were definitely 2014 highlights. On our most recent trip we spent some time in Sligo, where we discovered lots of natural beauty in Ben Bulben in Rosses Point and some culinary beauty in the Sligo town restaurant Eala Bhan.

Eala Bhan means white swan in Irish, and since Sligo is Yeats Country, the restaurant name fits right in.

Sligo town

Decor is whimsical and elegant, and Yeats’ influence is apparent in bits of poetry around the restaurant. Twinkly fairy lights add a magical feel to the space, and overall it’s airy yet cozy, with dim lighting and windows out onto the River Garavogue.

Eala Bhan Sligo

Eala Bhan

Eala Bhan


Like many restaurants in Ireland, Eala Bhan utilizes the amazing Irish ingredients available to them, including local seafood and meat.

Eala Bhan suppliers

As we often do, we decided to share a bunch of small plates rather than go with entrees. We started with bowls of piping hot vegetable soup; I pretty much always get soup when we go out in Ireland.

soup Eala Bhan

{Creamy Vegetable Soup}

From there, we feasted on a couple of seafood appetizers which were creative and beautifully displayed. I loved the perfect scallop with the sweet courgette puree.

 seafood trio{Taste of the Sea:  Pan seared diver scallop, kattaifi prawns and house cured salmon with fresh spinach and courgette purée}

This cake made of smoked salmon and prawns encased in creme fraiche was like nothing we had seen before. It was so decadent! It’s something I would love to recreate at home.

smoked salmon{ Smoked Salmon and Prawn Timbale Cake: Light layered pancakes of smoked salmon and prawn encased in créme fraiche and beetroot cream}

Heading back to land, we had the outstanding warm chicken salad which, with punchy blue cheese and sweet almonds, was way better than your average chicken dish!

chicken salad {Crispy Herb Basket of Warm Chicken Salad: Edible herb basket of warm chicken salad tossed with cashel blue cheese, candied almonds in a crispy herb basket, topped with garlic croutons, balsamic reduction}

The wine list at Eala Bhan isn’t extensive, but I found a lovely Barton &Guestier Chardonnay that was a nice pairing with all of my food.

Eala Bhan is known as one of Sligo’s best restaurants for a reason. Everything was so fresh and tasty, and the service was paced perfectly, allowing us to enjoy leisurely conversation and our various courses, If you are in Sligo and looking for a special meal, Eala Bhan is definitely one great option.

How do you choose restaurants when you travel?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Tags: Dining out, Food, food blogger, Ireland, Restaurants, Sligo, Travel, travel blogger, wine, wine blog, wine blogger

I sometimes think that if it wasn’t for this blog, I wouldn’t remember half of the things we do in a year. I love going back and being able to remember exactly what we did, ate, and saw during a certain time of year. It’s been the most consistent journal I have had in my adult life, and hopefully making it public has been entertaining and informative to others! As I sat down to start writing this post, I thought to myself that we didn’t do too much in 2014, but going back made me realize what a full year it was from the very start and just how much good happened.

2014 was an interesting year. We spent a large chunk of it legally chasing after a shady plumber who took lots and lots of money and did a hack job on our house. We hoped to leave that in 2014, but the legal system had other ideas. You can really get away with anything if you’re slimy enough, we’ve learned. If you’re looking for a plumber in the Boston area, feel free to contact me so you know who NOT to choose.

That situation has been tough, but this year has been about so much more. We saw our families a ton, with two visits to Ireland and multiple guests from Ireland, as well as a nice long visit from New Jersey family and lots of short trips there. We got to help out in our first Sonoma grape harvest, had many boat dates, and genuinely grew closer to many great people in our lives. It was a full, rich year, and we have so many memories to be thankful for.

Below are some of my Best of 2014 moments in food and travel. Please share one of yours in the comments!


Aniar –  My belated birthday dinner in Galway was definitely the best meal of the year. Service, ambiance, and local Irish ingredients make it easy to see why this restaurant has a Michelin star. How many ways can I tell you to get yourself to Galway, then go to Aniar?

Aniar Galway


Red Fish Grill, Coral Gables, Florida – We kicked off 2014 with a trip to Miami. With the winter we had, it turned out we needed every second of warm sunshine we soaked up while there. We stayed at the Sonesta in Coconut Grove (highly recommended, full disclosure, I work for Sonesta Hotels.)

Red Fish Grill


Owenmore Restaurant at Ballynahinch Castle – You know how I feel about the Irish countryside, if you’ve been reading for any amount of time. There is an indescribable beauty and sense of calm; it changes me in the best ways ever. We got to spend a day in the country, followed by a delicious dinner and overnight at Ballynahinch Castle, a place my husband’s family has been visiting for years. They knew so many people it felt like home, and I will always remember relaxing by the fire into the wee hours of St. Patrick’s Day morning.

Ballynahinch Castle

Ballynahinch Castle Owenmore Restaurant


Wine Country Weekend Lunch at Davis Family Vineyards – A year is not complete without a visit to Sonoma County. Through blogging about wine and travel, I have met some great people and had amazing opportunities, and this year was no different. We kicked off this wine country trip with a glorious wine lunch at Davis Family Vineyards. Sonoma Wine Country weekend has so many great events (including our starlit night of dancing at Rodney Strong), and I would definitely recommend checking one or two out if you happen to be there during the events.

Davis Family wine


Sonoma sunset


The Girl and the Fig and all the Sonoma County wine tasting – Okay, pretty much every moment of our Sonoma trip was my favorite. This post summed up some of the food and wine experiences we had in Napa and Sonoma. Our Flipkey wine country cottage is really worth checking out too.

Girl and the Fig, Sonoma

Travel to Long Island Wine Country – From tasting by the ocean in the beautiful Kontokosta Winery tasting room to chilling out at Noah’s in Greenport, having copious quantities of oysters and bubbly at the Blue Canoe, and feeling at home at Bedell Cellarsour getaway to the North Fork was one of my favorite weekends of 2014.  The North Fork is so easy to get to from Boston, and we are definitely planning a 2015 visit.

Kontokosta Winery, North Fork

As we look back at 2014, we are planning our 2015 travel, including the biggest trip of our lives. . . a 12 day safari in Tanzania! I have been to Africa once before (Tunisia during college), but this is going to be very different. Sleeping in a tent amongst lions and elephants and other animals? SO exciting and so very far out of my nerve-laden comfort zone! It will definitely be an adventure!


Your turn – what was your favorite food/travel moment of 2014? Do you have any 2015 travel plans or dreams?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Tags: best of, California, cocktails, Connemara, Dining out, Food, Ireland, North Fork, Sonoma, Travel, wine, wine country

With just over a week left in 2014, I have my winner for the best meal of the year. We ate a lot this year and had the opportunity to do some great travel (Best of travel coming tomorrow!), so it was tough to decide. Our experience at Aniar in Galway was just so exquisite though, I couldn’t NOT choose it as the best of 2014. My photos don’t do this meal any justice; the lighting was perfect for a date night but not great for photos. And I definitely know I am leaving details out, since it seems like this dinner was ages ago. Below is my best effort at sharing with all of you an evening that delighted so many senses and left us singing Aniar’s praises all over Galway and beyond.

Aniar Galway

Aniar means “west” in Irish, and much like wine makers, they are driven by terroir. You won’t find lemon in your water at Aniar because lemons don’t grow in Ireland. Our tasting menu feast highlighted meat and produce from Ireland; it was a great testament to the fact that Irish food can be REALLY good, something I have been trying to get across for years. Ireland has some of the best raw materials for amazing cuisine, and it’s great to see places like Aniar showcasing that.

Aniar Galway

We decided to go all out and do the tasting menu with wine pairings since this was my belated birthday dinner, which we didn’t make due to a flight cancellation from Scotland.

I was so glad that we did the wine pairings, as they were spot on perfect. The service was even better. The wines weren’t listed on our menus, and when I asked about them at the end of the meal, our server hand wrote each one on the back of the menu. Throughout the night there were so many little added touches where the staff went above and beyond.

A light, fun, Prosecco kicked off our night, and went nicely with our first course, a fresh piece of mackerel. I love pairing a fatty fish with bubbly, and our first bites set the tone for the whole meal.

Aniar Galway We had a table right by the window, so we were able to watch the hustle and bustle of a rainy Galway evening while we dined. It was cozy and romantic, and despite Aniar being a Michelin star restaurant, there was nothing stiff or pretentious about the place. It felt so homey and relaxed.

Aniar Galway Each bite of the meal was perfect; this fresh hen egg was swoon-worthy.

Aniar Galway

Halibut dusted in fennel, deliciously flaky and meaty at the same time, paired with Chardonnay from Beaujolais (Terres Dorées 2012 Classic) that was acidic and crisp, full of mineral and lemon.

Aniar Galway

Somewhere along the way (I am missing a course, pork neck.) we were served a wine that I was able to instantly recognize as Gamay, the grape in the oft overly fruity and awful Beaujolais Nouveau. This Gamay, by Jean Paul Brun, was a perfect example of how good Gamay can be when aged and finessed the right way. Big, dark cherry notes and a little earthy funk made this wine a new favorite, and I am definitely hoping to get my hands on it in the US.

A beautiful local herbal tea sorbet was the perfect mid-meal palate cleanser.

Aniar Galway

The tasting menu included some things I don’t normally go for, like venison, but I was adventurous and tried it all. And I hate to say it, but I thought the venison was incredible. It was so tender and flavorful and paired perfectly with the earthy, seasonal vegetables served with it. A gorgeous Rhone Valley Syrah rounded out each bite. This was my favorite course of the night.

Aniar Galway


wine pairings at Aniar Galway

Dessert was a fun and foamy blackberry, apple, and buttermilk concoction paired with a Chateau Jolys Cuvee Jean, a dessert wine that had so much balance with its honeysuckle sweetness that even I, one who does not like sweet wine, loved it.

dessert at Aniar

I wish I had taken the time to take more photos and notes along the way, but the way this meal flowed, the chat with our servers, watching the people go by and peeking into the insanely clean and busy kitchen all caught my attention before the thought of blogging creeped in. This night was a delicious, long breath of fresh air, filled with flavor and obvious love of food and of Irish ingredients. Bravo to Chef Ultan Cooke and the Aniar team, and thank you for being my best meal of 2014.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Tags: Dining out, Food, Galway, Ireland, restaurants in Ireland, Travel, travel blog, travel blogger, wine, wine blog, wine blogger

« Older entries § Newer entries »

new restaurant
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera