Tag Archives: liquor

Exploring the Champagne Region of France

Champagne is my go-to beverage for celebrations, Sunday brunch, a quiet night in, and every other occasion that I can think of. 

In February 2002 I spent a week in Reims, France to explore part of the Champagne region.  The main purpose of my visit was to enjoy as many varies of Champagne as I could!  I called to reserve my cellar tours (before online reservations), booked my hotel (through a travel agent), and rode the TGV train from Paris Gare de l’East to Reims.  My hotel was a short walk from the train station, and I stopped at a local café for dinner and pastry.

Between Champagne tastings and cellar tours, I managed to visit the Palais du Tau and nearby cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims.  I walked to most places with the occasional taxi ride.  Exploring the city as a solo female traveler was easy and safe.

The down side of travelling solo all those years ago (before smart phone with built in cameras) is that I have a fuzzy memory and very few, poor quality photos.  Admittedly, the photos were made even worse by the massive amounts of Champagne consumed during operation.

My friend Lisa recently went to the Champagne region, and was kind enough to share her experience and photos. 

During a recent trip to Europe to visit family, my husband and I snuck away to France for just a couple of days.  We thought about visiting Paris, but then I ruled against it… I wanted to go to the Champagne region instead.

Continue reading Exploring the Champagne Region of France

VIVO Beach Club, Isla Verde, Carolina, 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.

Continue reading VIVO Beach Club, Isla Verde, Carolina, Puerto Rico

Sail Away to Cayo Icacos, Puerto Rico

Cayo Icacos is a small, uninhabited island approximately 1 mile wide and over 1 mile long located 3 miles off the northeast coast of Puerto Rico. There are no restaurants, no shopping centers or vendors, no electricity, and no facilities of any kind.  The little island is just lush green foliage and perfect white sand beaches.

The best option to visit this tropical paradise is by boat.  There is a water taxi service that departs just north of the El Conquistador resort in Las Croabas neighborhood of Fajardo, providing drop off and pick up service to Icacos as the least expensive option.  A slightly more expensive option is the powered Catamaran sailboats that provide transportation, snorkel gear, shade, food & drinks, and (darn important) onboard bathrooms.

For us, the decision was easy – comfort and leisure on a Catamaran!

Continue reading Sail Away to Cayo Icacos, Puerto Rico

One (Little Piggy Goes to) Market, San Francisco

Recently, my friend Jack was travelling for work and asked for restaurant recommendations in San Francisco.  Years ago, I spent considerable time there for work.  Based on the location of his hotel and the style food that he likes, I recommended One Market for a short walk and delicious dinner.  Here is Jack’s review of One Market.  Enjoy!  

I arrived at One Market in the Embarcadero District of downtown San Francisco at 6:45pm on a Thursday night and asked the hostess for a table for one.  She looked me up and down — fat man dining alone.   “I think we can squeeze you in, sir.”

2016 SF OM RoseI’d hoped for a half bottle of rose, but nobody ever sells rose in a half bottle.  I compromised and ordered a full bottle of 2014 Archery Summit Pinot Noir Rose from the Williamette Valley.  The color was almost ruby, with a full bodied (for a rose), dried fruit taste.  There was nothing sweet about this rose, and at that moment, I resigned myself to drinking the whole bottle.

The food menu was somewhat limited, with starters capturing my attention far more than entrees.  Of particular interest in the starters column were thinly sliced lamb tongue, a pan seared foie graas, grilled octopus, and ocean trout.  My waiter recommended the ocean trout with an enthusiasm that indicated that the item was either fantastic, or on its last day in the walk-in.  I decided to order the lamb tongue, grilled octopus, and ocean trout, foregoing the foie graas as I was unsure of the penalty for consuming it in the State of California.  The last thing I need is to be part of some weird televised foodie sting.

2016 SF OM AmuseBThe amuse bouche was a new potato puck topped with domestic monkfish caviar.  Whatever.  I was not all that amused. Continue reading One (Little Piggy Goes to) Market, San Francisco

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Lounge

Earlier this week we attended the Rush 40th anniversary concert at US Airways center arena in downtown Phoenix.  Not wanting to miss a moment of the show, we called our Uber car and arrived almost 2 hours early.  Our plan was to avoid traffic, and get a light snack & beverages at Cityscape before the show, since we had plenty of time.  Great plan, except that every lounge and bar was packed!  We could see the bar at the Blue Hound, but it was so crowded with people it was impossible to order a drink.

Bitter & Twisted bar and a few signature cocktails
Bitter & Twisted bar and a few signature cocktails

Feeling frustrated and claustrophobic, we wandered toward Central Avenue and discovered the most delightful cocktail lounge.  Bitter & Twisted is deceptively simple on the outside, and a wonder on the inside.  Reclaimed red brick from Chicago and a massive bar, complete with old-tyme bar stools, greeted us on entry.  There are luxurious BT_Wallgolden upholstered booths along the outer wall and a stunning wall canvas.  The atmosphere is glorious!  There were only a few people, which we later learned is because B&T opened on their normal day off to serve the concert-goers (thank you, thank you!).

Fish & Chips
Fish & Chips

The drinks are exquisite.  Each one is poured with skill and attention to detail.  Average drink price was $12 and took a couple minutes to make – worth it.  We ordered cocktails exclusively, but they do serve wine and other beverages.  I shared the Fish & Chips with my friend, and it was the best that I have had in Phoenix!  Next time I will not eat before going, so that I can try more menu items.

BT_drinkB&T are self-proclaimed “Purveyors of fine cocktails, spirits, and good times” and that is the honest truth.  We had such a nice time before the concert that we all met back at B&T for a post-concert beverage before calling our car to take us home.  Traffic and crowds were overwhelming after the concert, so it was a strategic withdrawal to B&T.

The bartenders are funny, charming and talented. Explaining each drink ingredient when we asked, and offering dead-on suggestions for the next delicious beverage to try.  The staff is clearly having a good time, and they ensure that everyone around them has a pleasant evening, as well.  The bartenders were telling us about the New Year’s Eve party, and a few other events that we need to attend.  Turns out, B&T hosted a fabulous Villain’s Ball during Comicon – I missed out!BT_Menu

B&T is located at Central & Jefferson, close to US Airways arena, the Phoenix Symphony, Phoenix convention center, and many downtown events.  Bitter & Twisted is my new top pick for Downtown refreshments!