Nightlife

Smoke Restaurant

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

This place is worth the visit!

Since moving back to America, Matt and I have been trying to expand our taste buds and try out the best food Dallas has to offer. We’ve hit some oldies (but goodies!) and are trying new haunts to test our palettes. I’ve had a hankering for barbecue lately, which Matt satisfied by taking me to a restaurant called Smoke on the southwest side of Dallas.

It wasn’t Matt’s first visit to Smoke and he raved that I would love it. He can be kind of a picky eater, so if he raves about cuisine, it must be good. Located in the Bishop Arts area of Dallas, my first impression of Smoke hit me as we opened the door and the most amazing and woody aromas wafted my way.

However, the atmosphere was not what I expected – an upscale barbecue and smoked meat joint, the inside provided a mix of dark woods and chic decor. Antique-looking chairs and couches surrounded a smoldering fireplace and adorable animal designs in blues and pinks adorned the menus and china.

As for the food…oh my melt in your mouth! I ordered the All Natural Pulled Whole Hog, NC Style with Red Vinegar, Mustard & Blue Cheese Cole Slaw. I was told that it came with a salad, which I was fine with at first, but then Matt let me know that their BBQ fries are insane, so I asked for a side of those as well. I absolutely loved the way they put together my sandwich…piled high with cole slaw! And the pulled pork was full of flavor, meaning it wasn’t smothered by the intense serving of cole slaw. A win in my book.

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

My pulled pork sandwich and slaw. Yum!

Matt ordered the Chopped Coffee Cured Beef Brisket with Bread & Butter Pickles, which he let me have a taste of, and I’ll tell you what – the smoky flavor of the brisket mixed with the sour pickle and smooth BBQ sauce made for the perfect flavor combination. And those BBQ fries he recommended? I refused to dip them in ketchup or add more BBQ sauce because they were perfectly seasoned and fried to a crispy golden brown.

The BBQ sauce they offer is a treat in itself. After setting down our sandwiches, our very friendly and attentive server went through the four sauces he brought to the table. Unfortunately, I can’t remember them exactly and they aren’t listed on the website. What I can tell you, though, is that there was a traditional Texas sauce, a spicy sauce, one with a mustard base and a tomatillo (roasted tomato) sauce. I put together a combination of the traditional Texas BBQ and the spicy sauce, because I LOVE spice.

While enjoying our lunch, I took a look around and saw someone at another table enjoying a traditional plate of barbecue – we’re talking sliced brisket with what looked like their Cheese Grits & Hominy Casserole and their BBQ Beans. I also noticed that their wide, U-shaped bar looked cozy and comfortable for an evening drink.

I can’t say enough about my first experience at Smoke. The inviting atmosphere, warm ambience and delicious food provided a great way for us to beat the winter weather. Don’t just take my word for it…check out their website where they have videos about their restaurant and reviews from publications. And next time you have a hankering for some good, Texas barbecue, DO take my word for it and stop by Smoke Restaurant!

Smoke – Dallas
Address: 901 Fort Worth Ave, Dallas, TX 75208
Phone: (214) 393-4141

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

Matt’s brisket sandwich with pickles.

That awesome bar I was telling you about...

That awesome bar I was telling you about…

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

The adorable table settings and menus.

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

A look at my complete lunch, with those perfectly seasoned french fries.

Barbecue, Upscale, Pulled Pork, Brisket, BBQ fries, Dallas, Food

That surprisingly chic and southern decor.

Categories: Food, Nightlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Taverna – A Personal Favorite

Restaurant Review, Food, Italian, Dallas, Pasta, Risotto, Tortellini

A view from our table into the quaint restaurant.

My love of Italian food doesn’t really work well with my waistline, but there is just no way I’ll ever give up pasta and pizza for the sake of a thinner frame. NO WAY.

One of my favorite Italian restaurants in Dallas is called Taverna. My obsession with Taverna started years ago when my friends and I would go for Sunday brunch almost every weekend. They offered $5 bottomless mimosas, which is a great pull for a young crowd! Coupled with their fabulous eggs Benedict, Taverna carved out a small hole in my pocket once every couple of weeks.

Another interesting fact about Taverna – Matt and I had our very first dinner date there. We enjoyed a scrumptious meal followed by ice cream at Paciugo. Matt’s also been a fan ever since!

After the angst of the missing kitten came to a close, Matt and I decided that we needed to unwind and enjoy a night out together. All of those hours at home, worrying about the General and searching the neighborhood, Taverna was just the ticket to kick the icy temps and for a much needed romantic evening.

Restaurant Review, Food, Italian, Dallas, Pasta, Risotto, Tortellini

My tortellini – I wish it wasn’t just a special!

Since moving abroad, Taverna moved locations from the little cottage on Armstrong to a larger space on Knox. Located just next to Toulouse (same owners) by the Katy Trail, Taverna’s popularity is evident by its much larger patio and more spacious interior. Though they’ve opened up and made more room, they certainly have not killed the cozy atmosphere. The decor is very much the same and the ambience is very intimate – low lighting, glowing candles, etc.

The only downside to the space, one that hasn’t changed from the original location to the new, is the area left between tables. At times, Taverna can feel slightly claustrophobic, especially for a large guy like Matt. When they went to seat us the other evening, we asked to be moved to the heated patio because we noticed there was slightly more room. However, Matt and I spent quite a bit of time in Italy, and this setting certainly matches the Italian feel – limited space included!

You know what makes up for the space, though? The food. Matt stuck to his tried and true Fiocchi al Gorgonzola e Pera, which is gorgonzola & pear filled pasta with walnuts, arugula & a dolce latte cream sauce. Matt always enjoys it and our date night was no different. I decided to stray away from my favorite (Paglia e Fieno, green & white tagliolini with chicken, wild mushrooms, truffle oil & cream) and try one of their specials. Boy was it special! My meal consisted of tortellini stuffed with a ricotta and porcini mushroom filling, and was served in a white wine marinara with Italian sausage and peas. The combination of flavors were spot on – the spiciness of the sausage, the delicate sauce and rich filling all worked perfectly together.

To celebrate our evening out and the return of our kitten, we enjoyed a champagne apéritif and with dinner I went with an Italian chianti. Our spirits were so high after the stressful weekend and the food was so delicious that it truly made for a perfect evening out. I’ve recommended Taverna to many friends and family, and can assure you that I will be back; the service is always impeccable and the food on point. Whether it be pasta, pizza, seafood, risotto or the chef’s focaccia, if you are ever able to make it to Taverna, I hope your meal is fabulous!

Taverna – Dallas
Address: 3312 Knox Street, Dallas, TX 75205
Phone: (214) 520-9933
Reservations for 6 or more

Restaurant Review, Food, Italian, Dallas, Pasta, Risotto, Tortellini

A truly Italian feel.

Restaurant Review, Food, Italian, Dallas, Pasta, Risotto, Tortellini

It’s dark, but here is a closer look at my delicious meal.

Categories: Food, Nightlife | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lately…

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

That is one beautiful bird…and it was delicious too!

Matt and I have integrated ourselves back into the Dallas scene lately with a couple nights out to watch the Stars, to celebrate at baby showers, and to spend time with friends and family over the holidays. There never seems to be a very dull moment, which is a nice way to start off our time back in the States.

Thanksgiving is easily my favorite holiday since it is the trifecta of festivities: food, family and football. We got to celebrate not one, not two, but three Thanksgiving bashes this year! The first kicked-off with our friends, Brittain and Aaron, when they hosted Friendsgiving in their home. This would be my first Friendsgiving and I certainly hope it is not my last. Aaron smoked the turkey on the grill and we all brought something to contribute to the potluck dinner. What a fun night!

Our other Thanksgiving celebrations occurred with our respective families, all festive and fun. There is nothing quite like a home-cooked holiday meal to put this girl into good spirits. Turkey, potatoes, stuffing…yum. And with Christmas right around the corner, the good food and time spent with family are just going to keep on coming.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Awesome seats to catch my first professional hockey game!

Other than holiday festivities, Matt and I have attended a couple professional hockey games. Now would you believe that as much as I love sports, I’ve never been to a live, professional hockey game? When I watched hockey on TV in the past I thought it was a pretty boring sport, but after going in person, I am hooked! It is so fast-paced, there is constant action and when the Stars score a goal, mayhem! We are very thankful to our good friend who helped us gain tickets to both games we’ve gotten to see so far (thanks Dallas!).

And of course, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve gotten to attend a couple baby showers for my sweet friend Taylor. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to celebrate my friends, in person instead of from afar, when big things happen in their lives. I was lucky enough to attend her couples shower in the Dallas area with Matt, and then to tag along to Oklahoma to see her one more time at her other shower before baby Blake arrives.

There is much more to come in the month of December – a Beyoncé concert, Melissa’s company Christmas party (I’m her date!), more holiday festivities – so stay tuned!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

The beautiful table at my parent’s house for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Getting to hang out with my sissypoo all the time for the first time in years!

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

This little guy is adjusting well. He’s even starting to go outside – with my supervision of course.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

Our Friendsgiving assembly line. That is our beautiful hostess leading the way.

Thanksgiving, Hockey, Stars, Dallas, Baby Shower

A pre-hockey cocktail and dinner. Oh how I missed a good dirty martini!

Categories: Food, Musings, Nightlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

October 19, 2013

Piggybacking on my last post about the wedding, we recently received a sneak peek of our photos from our photographer and I can’t wait to share some of them with you here! We used a photographer recommended to us by a friend in the Cincinnati area. Christina Littleton Photography captured our day with the most stunning and unique photos, and I simply cannot wait to see the rest.

As for the details, we chose Cincinnati in the fall because its rolling hills are known for the beautifully changing colors. We were married at the Cincinnati Country Club and I decided the overall color theme would be Earth tones – greens, tans, browns, taupes, etc. Our amazing 10-piece band, Clyde Brown Productions, kept everyone on the dance floor all night long and the toasts by my Dad, my maid of honor (Melissa) and Matt’s two best men (Michael and Jacob) were epic.

For our table centerpieces, we chose to go more minimalistic with the floral decor and instead, used lanterns and tea lights with bud vases and foliage. The effect was vintage and glowing, just how I had envisioned it. My cake was done by Servatii’s in Hyde Park, the same bakery that did my mother’s cake for her wedding day. 🙂

And of course, my dress…I found it in Dublin, Ireland with my bridesmaid Lauren. I wanted it shipped to Dallas, though, so I contacted the designer, Cymbeline, who was based out of Paris. They found a boutique in Dallas, Patsy’s Bridal, who was willing to work with the European designer – and they loved working with them so much, they are now carrying the entire line!

All in all, it really was the perfect wedding! Here are some of my favorites of the first round of photos.

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones, Cincinnati

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Christina Littleton Photography, Clyde Brown Productions, Earth Tones, Cincinnati

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

Clyde Brown Productions, Christina Littleton Photography, Cincinnati, Earth Tones

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A Final Fling Before the Ring x 2

Spain, Estepona, PuroBeach, Laguna Village, Bachelorette, Marriage

A Spanish celebration before finally becoming a Mrs.!

Living in Europe and planning a wedding in America (and not even in my home city of Dallas!) was definitely a challenge, but with the challenges, there were also perks. With friends in both places, I was beyond lucky to get to celebrate my bachelorette party not once, but twice! My great friend Joannah planned my “European bachelorette” party during the summer in Spain and my maid-of-honor and sister, Melissa, planned a Dallas party following my move back to Dallas.

If you are ever wanting to plan a bachelorette party in Spain, on the beach, in the middle of the summer, talk to my friend Jo, because she did it up right! A bunch of my girlfriends from Gibraltar and my bridesmaid Lauren, who you’ve seen many times in my “visiting Dublin” posts, came out for a day of sunning and massages, followed by a fantastic dinner on the beach. Does it get any better than that?

Gibraltar, Spain, Dallas, Wedding, Marriage, Bachelorette, Estepona, PuroBeach

With my wonderful hostess, Jo!

We started the day at Laguna Village at the swanky PuroBeach Club. Jo reserved a cabana next to the pool that came complete with a bottle of rosé cava, mojitos, and a sushi lunch. Jo also booked us all either a facial or a massage – both were poolside, and I opted for the massage. We spent the day sipping cava and mojitos, dipping in and out of the pool, and soaking up the Spanish sun.

That evening we made our way back to PuroBeach for dinner next to the Mediterranean. The food was fantastic, the wine was never empty, and Jo prepared a fun questionnaire that kept us entertained throughout dinner. In true Spanish style, we enjoyed a long dinner and our festivities led us into the wee hours of the morning, at which time we wandered back down the beach to our hotel (the Kempinski Hotel Bahía) for some late night (early morning?) antics and room service (that €30 club sandwich was worth it!).

Dallas, Bachelorette, Wedding, Marriage, Spain, Estepona, Gibraltar

I wore this sweet gift while getting ready on my wedding day!

Now, the Dallas party could not have been more different, but was equally as fabulous! Melissa planned a girls night out complete with a hotel suite at The Nylo in Dallas, dinner at The Cedars Social and then dancing at Winstons Supperclub with a performance by the Far East Movement. I may or may not have gotten on the stage during their performance…

No detail was missed by Melissa for the Dallas bash! The Nylo is a really neat hotel and the suite was perfect for us group of girls. We had pre-dinner drinks, a lingerie shower, and my friends and family were able to get to know each other before venturing out. I highly recommend dinner at The Cedars Social (in fact, I’ll most likely go back and take pictures for a nightlife piece) – the food was American-style tapas which were so delicious; think tapas-style mac-n-cheese, pork belly tacos, Parmesan fries, etc. And of course, if I got myself on stage at Winstons, then I definitely had a great time there! The final detail? Melissa arranged a party bus to take us from one spot to the next!

I am really so blessed to have such wonderful friends that celebrated my last single night in both countries. There were friends and family that even traveled to be there, which made both weekends so special. Both my hostesses should be professional bachelorette party planners, because these will be memories that I will always cherish!

Wedding, Marriage, Bachelorette, Dallas, Spain, Estepona, PuroBeach

My bridesmaid Lauren flew in from Dublin to help me celebrate!

Wedding, Marriage, Dallas, Nylo Hotel, The Cedars Social, Winstons Supper Club

With all of the girls at the Dallas bachelorette party.

Spain, Estepona, Bachelorette, Laguna Village, PuroBeach, Wedding

This is the closest thing I have to a full group picture at the Spanish party.

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Bingo Isn’t Just for the Elderly…

Gibraltar, Spain, Casino, Poker, Blackjack

I am SO EXCITED to play bingo!

A couple of weekends ago, Matt and I were contemplating what we wanted to do for date night. We wanted to celebrate his months of hard work leading into the successful sale of his company and we wanted to do something new, or that we hadn’t done in awhile. That’s when I came up with the brilliant idea to take a taxi to Gibraltar and partake in an evening of dinner in the marina and bingo at the casino, possibly followed by a few table games.

Now, you may be reading this thinking, “bingo isn’t exactly what I’d call a rousing activity for a young couple on date night.” I’m sorry, but you would be wrong – Matt and I love it! Especially here in Gibraltar/Spain where they call the numbers in both English and Spanish. We have yet to win, which I think is one of the reasons we keep coming back for more.

Gibraltar, Spain, Casino, Bingo, Blackjack, Poker

Crowds of people celebrating summer.

As we made our way into Gibraltar that evening, we learned that we had decided to do date night on one of Gib’s biggest party days of the year – the summer island party. Once upon a time, I would have lived for an event like this – live (DJ) music on-stage, fountains of spraying water, beer stands, etc. However, I am at a point in my life where I consider watching the revelries of the island party from a balcony with the other older patrons in the casino just as fun. *Sigh*

So, that’s exactly what Matt and I did. We grabbed a celebratory bottle of champagne and hunkered down on the balcony of the casino to watch the antics of the younger crowd below. And I’ll tell you what – it was extremely entertaining. The whole lot of us on the balcony could not stop laughing. Needless to say, some of the “activities” do not need to be shared on this blog, which just proves my point further that I was better off out of the fray!

Proof that we stayed safe on the balcony with an older generation...

Proof that we stayed safe on the balcony with an older generation…

After enjoying the show, we took our champagne into the bingo hall with hopes of winning the big pot. As always, the mood in the room was intense; it never ceases to amaze me how into bingo people are. If you aren’t quiet when the first number is called, they will shush you. When someone wins, everyone outwardly groans. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that Matt and I were the youngest folks there. It certainly perpetuates the stereotype that older people love bingo. While Matt and I may not have won anything, we loved the atmosphere and were excited each round when we only had one or two numbers to go.

Following bingo, we made our way out into the casino to try our luck at some other games. Neither Matt nor I are huge gamblers, but we have fun playing the occasional Blackjack or Texas Hold’em. So this is exactly what we did. I usually have the best luck at the Blackjack table, but this trip to the casino proved not to be my lucky night. I just couldn’t catch a break! Matt was playing pretty well, so he made up for my losses. Then he really made up for my poor play when he sat down at a poker table and played really well. All in all, even with my losses, we ended up positive on the evening.

So, while this may not sound like a typical date night, it was perfect for us. Sure, in the future we’ll probably do dinner in Marbella or hit up our beach bar, but for one night, we had the best time playing bingo.

Gibraltar, Spain, Casino, Bingo, Poker, Blackjack

Moet at sunset while the antics proceed below.

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The American Invasion

Spain, Europe, Travel, La Fina, Pura Tapa, Alcaidesa

My girlfriends made it! A pre-dinner picture in my backyard.

This past week the best thing happened – Matt and I had a group of our American friends come to visit us in Spain! It was a wonderful visit, and we had an amazing time showing our friends the area that we live in and the Spanish/Gibraltarian culture.

On the day they arrived, Monday, they were pretty exhausted, so after a nap we all decided to stay pool-side soaking up some rays. That gave us a great opportunity to catch-up and for them to tell me all about their time in Greece, their first stop on their European tour.

Following a relaxing day by the pool, we got dressed up to head to our favorite local spot, La Finca. We wanted our friends to enjoy the Thai Fusion that we’re constantly raving about, and the atmosphere couldn’t have been better. We had a nice big table out on their beautiful patio, it was a lovely evening and as always, the food was fantastic. I think every single one in our group raved about their dish and the owners, Chris and Syrie, with whom we’ve become good friends, stopped by during an extremely busy evening to say hello. We then continued the evening back at our house on the patio – we lit the tiki torches and candles around our yard, turned on some tunes and kept the drinks (and cigars for the guys) flowing. It was a perfect evening.

Gibraltar, Apes, Spain, Europe, La Finca, Alcaidesa, Pura Tapa

Poor Lenore and the series of events leading up to and after the ape attack.

On Tuesday, Matt and the guys ventured out for a round of golf in Sotogrande while us gals made our way down to the Alcaidesa beach. It was packed with people and colorful umbrellas, so we joined right in. We relaxed in the sand, enjoyed a snack at the Alcaidesa beach bar, Blanco, and just had a quiet day.

When the boys finished their round of golf, we made our way into La Linea for the fair, or la feria! Talk about a perfect week for the fair to come to La Linea. We gorged ourselves on kebabs (very similar to a gyro), buñuelos (fried dough balls covered with powered sugar or chocolate), and mojitos. Only a few of us were brave enough to jump on the rides – I loved one that reminds me of the Crazy Mouse, while I passed on another that included a lot of upside down flipping. My friends got to experience some Spanish culture – we found that at the fair, the little girls often come dressed like flamenco dancers. We’re not sure why, but it certainly added to the Spanish atmosphere!

On Wednesday, we woke up earlier and made our way to Gibraltar. No trip would be complete without a trip to the top of the rock to see the apes! And boy were the apes out in full force. One of the baby apes sitting on a railing became mesmerized with my sunglasses and kept touching my face, which is definitely a first for me! The rest of the group definitely got their up close and personal encounter with these creatures, until one became a little too close for comfort. My poor friend Lenore, sitting innocently on the stairs, was bitten by one of the apes. Luckily it wasn’t too hard, so it didn’t break skin. However, after that, we decided our adventure was over. We took her to the fire brigade located just at the bottom of the cable car to have it checked out and after disinfecting her shoulder, the firemen declared her safe from harm.

Spain, Gibraltar, Apes, Europe, La Finca, Pura Tapa

My new bestie! I didn’t know Andrea prior to this trip, but had the best time getting to know her!

That evening, their last one in town, we took the group to Pura Tapa, another one of our favorites. We enjoyed a full array of tapas like tuna tartar, mejillones (mussels), cuernos de langostino, patatas bravas (a Spanish favorite), mini hamburguesas, and more. After stuffing ourselves to the brim, we relocated to the nearby beach bar, Chambao, where we enjoyed drinks and the atmosphere until the wee hours of the morning. I’ll tell you what, it may have been a Wednesday night, but the Spanish sure do love to party! Chambao was packed all night.

Sadly, on Thursday, their trip came to an end and they were off to the last stop on their adventure in Barcelona. It was so wonderful to have the whole gang in Spain experiencing what Matt and I get to enjoy every day and we had the best time catching up with them. It really has been the year for visitors and I’m so glad this group was able to make it over. Thank you so much for coming and I can’t wait to see you all in September and October!!!

Categories: Nightlife, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Perfect English Muffin

Marbella, Spain, cafe con leche, eggs benedict, breakfast, brunch, English muffin

Enjoying a cafe con leche at Pan & Mermelada in Marbella.

My hiatus is officially over. I wish I had a really cool reason as to why I haven’t been blogging…like, I’ve been on an African safari or jet-setting around the world writing for a travel magazine. Alas, I’ve just been very busy at work and planning the wedding, so I let some of my extracurricular activities slip.

However, with the Spanish summer officially upon us and some fun things happening in our area, I figured now was a better time than any to do what I love doing the most – sharing some of our cultural experiences that make living over here so unique! What a better way to start that than to tell you about a little gem we found in Marbella over the weekend…

I wish I could take credit for finding this amazing spot on my own. However, the discovery was made by a co-worker and relayed to some of the other foodies in the office (ironically, the details were shared over lunch), which really, is an even better way to discover amazing restaurants – word of mouth. Pan & Mermelada is a Canadian-owned restaurant, located about 45 minutes up the coast in Marbella, and on Sunday, I dragged Matt there upon rumours of eggs Benedict with real English muffins! Be still my heart.

Marbella, Spain, cafe con leche, eggs benedict, breakfast, brunch, English muffin

Just a little peek at the quaint atmosphere.

See, one of my favorite breakfast meals is eggs Benedict. The problem over here is that I can rarely find it on a brunch menu and when I do, it is not served over an English muffin, my favorite breakfast “grain.” If you are able to find eggs Benedict on a menu, it is often served on a “bap,” which is really just another word for hamburger bun. Bleh. So you can imagine my glee when I heard that this restaurant made eggs Benedict the proper way.

And boy were they worth the drive! I ordered mine with bacon instead of their usual ham or salmon, to which the owner declared, “great choice!” Served with potatoes and a salad, these eggs Benedict really hit the spot. Salty, creamy, with runny yolk and the most wonderfully toasted English muffin on the bottom. Matt enjoyed a breakfast burrito complete with scrambled eggs, bacon, avocado, Monterey Jack cheese, fresh lime, tomato and sour cream. He devoured that burrito in minutes. And because they are Canadian, the buttermilk pancakes are served with traditional maple syrup – enticing enough to go back next Sunday!

The food isn’t just wonderful at Pan & Mermelada – the setting is delightful as well. An eclectic taste prevails with interesting art, rustic birdcages and lanterns, smooth wood finishing and large open windows that let you enjoy an outdoor atmosphere even if you are at a table inside. We spoke a bit with the owner (it is refreshing to hear an accent so similar to ours) and she encouraged us to come back on Friday evening when there would be live music. Based on the photos I’ve seen on their Facebook page, I’m pretty sure reservations are required to secure a spot to enjoy what looks like an equally delightful dinner menu and the cool music.

I highly recommend this spot to anyone in the Marbella area. With outdoor seating, the perfect breakfast menu (I’ll keep you posted once we’ve done dinner!) and a wonderful atmosphere, I know we’ll be back.

Marbella, Spain, cafe con leche, eggs benedict, breakfast, brunch, English muffin

Trust me – they tasted as good as they look.

Categories: Food, Nightlife, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Camuri – A Restaurant Review

A couple weekends ago, Matt and I finally ventured out of our little area of Spain to sample the nightlife and cuisine located up the coast. It’s just too easy to become a creature of habit – we typically stick to local places when it comes time to decide where to have a dinner out. Many of these places you’ve heard of multiple times on this blog, Pura Tapa and La Finca being the most popular. However, in the winter season La Finca closes, and Matt and I have discussed trying to get up north a little more. So that’s exactly what we recently did.

On a low-key Saturday night, we wandered up to Laguna Village, an outdoor shopping area about 20 minutes up the coast with fabulous restaurants. We’ve eaten at Terra Sana, also located in Laguna Village, many times and enjoy it so much that we’ve brought most of our visiting family and friends there for lunch. This night, however, we chose to visit Camuri, an oriental restaurant with a fabulous menu. Located right on the beach, the floor to ceiling glass walls open in the summer, but with the cool winter temperatures, they were closed for our visit.

Laguna Village, Camuri, Food, Cuisine, Restaurant Review

Not the best picture I’ve ever taken, but you get the drift. The sushi is in the top left, the chicken wings just to the right of it, the crab roll close to me and the beef tips in the far right of the photo. {Click to enhance}

As for the food, we decided to choose from their “to share” menu so that we could sample a few dishes. We enjoyed crab spring rolls with a ginger dipping sauce, beef tip skewers, chicken wings in an oriental sauce, and a Nobuko sushi roll comprised of seared beef fillet with rocket leaves, crunchy tempura and a hot chili sauce. Their menu includes traditional sushi rolls like the California roll, but the appeal for us are those unique to the restaurant. When we go back, we plan on trying the Age salmon maki, which is a fried salmon roll with two sauces – orange tobiko and mango. The words “sushi” and “fried” together sound quite tasty!

I’m glad we stepped out of our comfort zone for once, because it ended up being a lovely evening. We will definitely be going back to Camuri, especially in the summer months when the doors open to the beautiful Mediterranean. We’ve also decided that this will start our “tour of the coast.” We plan on continuing our exploration in an effort to find more hidden gems like Camuri!

 

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Let the Wedding Festivities Begin

Wedding, Engagement, Festivities, Party, Holidays, Christmas, Family, Friends

With our amazing hostess!

Over the holidays, I did many things that were extremely enjoyable. Time with family is always at the top of my list, as I only get to see them a couple times of year. I also spent some wonderful evenings with friends catching up. And there is always the shopping – I never shop over here, so when I go home, especially around Christmas, I bask in the holiday sales and stock up on some essentials for the next half a year.

This visit home, however, included a very special evening. My wonderful sister Melissa hosted a beautiful and elegant engagement party for me and Matt. Though Matt and I got engaged back in August, this was our first long visit home, so close friends and family living in the area were invited to celebrate. I was so excited because many of the people invited were able to make it, so we were able to visit with a lot of friends we haven’t seen in awhile – included in that group were a couple of my bridesmaids, one who’s been my friend since middle school and the other a girlfriend from college who even came to Spain to see me and Matt!

Melissa planned the event at the Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, which ended up being a fabulous choice. The area we were given was beautiful, we had our own bartender, and the food was delicious – not a single detail was forgotten. From the champagne for a toast, the bite-sized quesadillas, bruschetta, shrimp & scallop ceviche and shot glass desserts, to the beautiful centerpiece flowers and candlelit tables, it really was a wonderful night to remember.

My Gamma Phi Beta girlfriends also came in for the party, and at one special point in the evening, I introduced them to Matt’s 93 year-old grandmother, who was also a Gamma Phi and is still a very active alum. Having generations of Gamma Phi Betas from such different times standing all together was a unique experience I know I’ll never forget. At one point, my friend started to playfully sing one of our songs, and Matt’s grandmother joined right in!

Throughout the evening, Matt and I told the story of our engagement to those who hadn’t heard yet, I finally got to show off my ring, and it really hit home that come October 19th of this year, we are getting married. Other than the engagement party, we’ve found our band, finalized the wedding cake details with the baker, and have nailed down our gorgeous venue. Everything is starting to come together, making me one excited bride-to-be! Thanks again Mel!

Gamma Phi Beta, Holidays, Christmas, Party, Wedding, Engagement, Stoneleigh Hotel

This is definitely a keeper!

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