The Humacao Natural Reserve is located on the East Coast of Puerto Rico near the community of Palmas del Mar. Behind the small unassuming entrance awaits big adventure exploring the lagoons, swamps, and wetlands. The walking and bike trails are well maintained throughout the reserve. Kayakers can enjoy the calm lagoon waters in a secluded section of the reserve. Fishing is a common sight from the bridges and docks. There are multiple floating docks along the lagoons for fishing and unobstructed views over the lagoon water. The majority of the natural reserve is shaded by the lush foliage making it a pleasant destination year round. Continue reading Humacao Natural Reserve
I love the complete escape that I experience enclosed in happy spa time. My mind and body relaxes as I prepare for a wellness treatment to sooth my aches, address specific skin concerns (the main concern is that I am getting old), and enjoy a treatment for both mind and body. A good friend suggested, “hey let’s try the Condado Vanderbilt Spa” which kicked off a relaxing day in Condado for food, shipping, afternoon cocktails, and finish our day at the spa.
Condado is a neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico known for shopping and fantastic food. After a little retail therapy in the shops across the street, we returned to the hotel to watch the ocean from the Vanderbilt lounge while sipping delightful rum drinks. Continue reading Experience the Condado Vanderbilt Spa in Puerto Rico
Newly opened in April 2016, VIVO Beach Club is a beach front property in area of Isla Verde, Carolina, Puerto Rico. This beach club is just getting started, with plans to open a brewery, fitness classes offered on the beach, concerts, parties, and more events and activities planned for the upcoming year. Located mere minutes from the San Juan airport in Isla Verde, guests can enjoy perfect Caribbean water immediately upon arrival to the island. VIVO Is fast becoming a popular destination for locals and visitors.
Earnest Restaurant opened in Chandler last week after a menu and atmosphere re-design from my beloved Cork. Even with all the reassurances from the owners and staff before the redesign was unveiled, I was worried!
Executive Chef Brian Peterson is still creating the same style high-quality American cuisine with more focus on comfort food and larger portions. Pastry Chef and Partner Danielle Morris is still serving her amazing Banana Cream Pie and continues to amaze with her delicious desserts.
The changes? Earnest is a casual dining experience, rather than the more formal fine-dining from Cork. There are several community tables that can be converted to accommodate various size groups. It is louder. Earnest can seat more people, and due to the more strategic seating arrangement, there are simply more people than can get reservations and just walk-in for a table. The decor is modern industrial, yet the overall feeling is simple comfort.
What is the same as Cork? The same owners Chef Brian and Chef Danielle, the same Manager Winston, and the same level of service from the (same) servers. Saturday was busy, they were clearly short-handed, but the level of service stayed exceptional through-out dinner! Tuesday evening they were not as busy, Chef Danielle came by to talk to me before my meal to ask about my thoughts so far. Then Chef Brian came by after I ate dinner to ask how I was doing and what I thought of my Buffalo dinner. The owners listen to feedback and genuinely want everyone to have a great meal. Chef Brian assured me that he would continue to offer seasonal menu changes and continue to experiment with his entrees so it will never be boring. The staff is still very knowledgeable on the food and beverage selections. At seating, each table is provided with an iPad loaded with an interactive Wine menu, which I occasionally flip through. Then, I ask for wine recommendations from my server and am always pleased with the selection. These folks know their wine and have a fantastic selection.
The food – AMAZING. Seriously, the scallop-tuna casserole was delicious. The scallop was cooked perfectly (Chef Brian nails it every time), and the onions on top were the perfect flavor enhancement to the delicate scallop atop tuna.
The next visit I started with the Lamb meatball appetizer. The feta was light and did not distract from the savory lamb that explodes with flavor in every bite. It is now my new favorite appetizer, until the next menu change.
BBQ pork ribs is a comfort food staple, which Earnest manages to class up with bacon mac & cheese served with pork belly, and a side of coleslaw. The mac & cheese was so rich, I was glad there was only a small scoop, otherwise I would have eaten way too much. The coleslaw was light and tangy to perfectly compliment the sweet BBQ and savory mac & cheese.
The Buffalo Brisket is served in a gravy-like au jus with bratwurst over cabbage and potatoes. The brisket melted in my mouth and was worth waiting for – they ran out Saturday night, so I had to wait until Tuesday night to try it. The bratwurst was good, but I think more vegetables would be a better accompaniment.
The dessert options are the most noticeable change on the menu, there are more of them. Most of the dessert items are based on desserts we ate as children, such as cookies, house made “snickers”, and pb&j creme brulee. Of course, I sampled the Banana Cream Pie to confirm it is the same recipe when served under Cork, and it is the same. Whew.
The Bread Pudding is served with goat milk caramel and creme fraiche ice cream. It looks small, but be sure you have someone to split this with! There was not enough ice cream for the amount of bread involved, but the caramel was so enjoyable I got past that by the third bite.
I am excited for Earnest and looking forward to many more great meals!
Update: March 2016 Earnest announced final meals end of March and closing the restaurant. Half price wine and final reservations until the end of the month.
Began’s Classic Italian Pizza just reopened! Fondly shorted to Classic Italian Pizza, or just CIP, this is a Tempe Treasure – and we have missed you. This week marks the Grand Opening of the new Tempe location on the Southwest corner of McClintock & Guadalupe, in the same shopping plaza as Changing Hands (Tempe).
This little 12 table restaurant still has a temporary banner, rather than a fancy sign, but the tables were packed and we even had a 10 minute wait. There are 6 regular tables, 6 high-top style tables, and bar seating. The hostess informed of us the wait time, took our phone number and encouraged us to browse in the shopping area. The other local business are certainly going to benefit from Pizza patrons waiting for the next table, we had time to browse the outside rack of Changing Hands and a quick peak into Turn Style.
The house made mozzarella caprese salad did not last long enough for a photo. Oh, I forgot how good fresh, house made, small batch mozzarella can be. Yum.
We were half-way through both pizzas before I got my camera out. The pizza is really served as a whole pizza, I promise! The pizza is cooked in a wood burning oven to perfection, served with only the best & freshest ingredients. Jarrod, the bartender, is proud to tell new patrons that the beer cooler is the only freezer at CIP.
CIP offers a limited selection of perfectly paired craft beers, select wines, liquor, and espresso.
Like everything on the menu at CIP, the Tiramisu is house made to an authentic recipe. It is so moist and delicious melting in your mouth.
Classic Italian Pizza is open and ready for lunch, dinner, and late night happy hour. Many of the former staff have returned for the new location. They are re-opened, better than ever – go get some Pizza!!