Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amy gave me Paris for her birthday

Our friends Amy and Andrew were taking a last minute trip to Rome for Amy's birthday and their anniversary. They invited us along on buddy passes (Andrew works for United). But the first time we tried to catch the flight there wasn't room for all of us so we sent them along to Roma. The next day we headed to the airport to catch any flight going anywhere in Europe. With our suitcases packed for a potential forty degree swing in weather, we were ready when we hopped literally last second onto a plane to Paris!

Eiffel Tower at sunset the first night
We landed and after some quick research, booked a hotel and were off. After settling in, we made reservations for dinner. I am not the least ashamed to say that the first stop for the Fletchers was a patisserie on our way to dinner. I got a raspberry and pistachio tart, and Layne got a pistachio puff pastry and cream napoleon thing. Heaven on Earth! It was the best pastry shop we hit up in Paris.

We ate about fifty feet down the street. It was the Frenchest French restaurant we ate at, but you know you have to wait for my food post to salivate accordingly! Following dinner, we hopped back on the Subway to go to the Eiffel Tower. It's incredible!! 

You walk up to it, and you walk, and walk, and walk! You keep feeling like you're right there; it's so close! But finally you are there and it is just as magnificent and beautiful as you'd hope. There's a reason it is so iconic. We walked around the area for a couple hours, and then headed off to bed. 
Walking across the Seine

The next morning, we had meant to go to Versailles, but I may have hugely slept in -the time change is amazingly difficult to work around! So we changed our plans and headed over to the Louvre (stopping at a patisserie for a quick bite of breakfast). The Lourve was gorgeous! I could not even wrap my mind around how beautiful the buildings are in France, but the Louvre may be my favorite. It was just magnificent. We saw a few of the highlights inside the museum and just walked aimlessly for a bit. There is no way to see it all, but everything we saw was incredible.

Mr. Fletcher getting fresh with Venus de Milo

From there, we wandered down the Seine toward Note Dame so we could check out Saint Chapelle. Sadly, it was closed. But Notre Dame is right there and it was phenomenal. Completely awe-inspiring. So detailed and intricate, yet it reaches toward the skies from its perch on an island in the Seine with a solidity that assures you it has been and will be there forever. 

We grabbed dinner nearby, then headed back over to the Eiffel Tower for a sunset river cruise. This was my favorite part of the whole trip, so excuse the mass of pictures following (not that it varies greatly from the mass of pictures above)!

We'll pick back up tomorrow and I'll fill you on on what else we did. Sorry this post is so long and there are so many pictures!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

To that old man on the street

To that old man in the street who yelled at me the other morning to stop looking at my phone and pay attention to what was going on around me, whilst I was walking down the street and there were 0 cars around:

I may have meekly walked away as tears sprang to my eyes, but I was so stunned at your abhorrent behavior that I was rendered absolutely speechless. Who are you? What was that? I cannot imagine talking to a single being on the planet the way you attacked me. I was causing you nor anyone else any harm and yet you zeroed in on me like a lion on its prey and tore straight through my skin with your sharp tone and sharper words. It is people like you, people who demonstrate a complete lack of respect for decency and humanity, that are causing this world to become a darker and scarier place. I am not naive enough to suggest that the world can operate as a place of sunshine and roses, but I am not nearly hardened enough to feel that treating others as you treated me will ever be acceptable. The darkest side of me hopes that the reason you are so bitter and crass is because all those you have ever cared about have treated you the same way you treated me. But I reason with myself that maybe you also had a bad morning and youngsters sending e-mails from their iPhones is a pet peeve and you just couldn't resist and maybe you just exploded and are now deeply ashamed and regretful. It may not be even remotely true, but it makes me feel better to believe that we all feel apologetic for our bad behavior. Then the world can still be a friendly place.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Being a tourist in my own city

Washington, D.C. is such an amazing place and has so much to offer! Layne and I don't take advantage of it nearly enough, but this last weekend we got an opportunity to learn more about what is all around us. It was our friend Andrew's birthday and his wife Amy bought him Segway tour tickets of the city. Incredible fun! See what Amy had to say about it here.

Outside Capitol Hill, about to take on the world.

The tour took us from the White House, through the mall and down to the Captiol, and then back up again through the Smithsonians. Our tour guides were incredibly knowledgeable and I learned a ton - mostly about the architecture of some of the Smithsonian museums which I now feel I have had been taking for granted.

But honestly, the most fun was the Segways! We cruised through the city at the breakneck speed of 12.5 mph (which feels incredibly fast since you're essentially standing still and out in the open air). Layne was absolutely fearless and kept trying to jump his Segway and take if off-roading. I was terrified when I first stepped on but after a few minutes practicing by the fountain at McPherson Square it felt as natural as walking. The only (near) accident I had was a quick love tap against Amy when she stopped suddenly in front of me and I couldn't kill my momentum. We all decided that Segways are the only way to be a tourist from here on out.

Popping by the White House for a photo op.

BTW - I didn't lay a finger on any of these pictures. It was such a beautiful day that I just wanted you to enjoy the blue sky the same way we did! Can you believe how gorgeous our nation's capital is?


Basically, Mister Fletcher is nuts and I love Amy & Andrew. 


Monday, June 4, 2012

Foodies Take Manhattan

Layne and I spent Memorial Day weekend in New York ( see previous posts 1, 2, and 3) and it was incredible! A huge part of what made it so incredible was all the delicious food we ate. If you are not the kind of person who takes pictures of your food before you eat it, then this post is not for you. But if you are, then we should go out to dinner sometime so I'm not the only loser who considers the lighting when I pick my table. This post is going to highlight just a few of our favorite stops.

The first day we got there, we were starving for some real New York style pizza, and we were not disappointed! We went across the Brooklyn Bridge and waited in line nearly an hour for what promised to be the best pizza in Brooklyn. Grimaldi's is a coal brick oven pizzeria nestled right under the Brooklyn Bridge. With fresh dough, salty fresh mozzarella, crushed tomatoes and just a sprinkling of basil, it's hard to say what the best part was. Layne and I added some pepperoni to ours, and that just made it even better. Easily the best pizza we've ever devoured (and devour we did!) the tastes linger in your mouth and make you never want to leave.

That night for dinner, we headed over to Keen's Steakhouse. Dark and cozy, the ceiling covered with churchwarden pipes coupled with the antique photographs and portraits give it the feeling of an old tavern or parlor. Keen's is well-known for their mutton chops, though Layne and I steered clear. They start you off with a relish plate with this heavenly blue cheese dipping sauce and a bread basket - #winning! We went with a spin on oysters rockefeller: oysters on the half shell with crab, asparagus, and hollandaise. Squeeze a little lemon over the plate and resist the urge to moan too loudly! It was possibly the best things we ate while in New York. Layne got a porterhouse with a roasted red pepper, and I went with a classic surf'n'turf of filet minion and lobster. The lobster was good, a little tough, and the steak was very high quality  but under seasoned. All of that said with the caveat that Mister Fletcher makes the best steak I've ever had on a routine basis. We also got a roasted vegetable plate, but it had an almost floral quality that neither of us took to. To top it off, we indulged in our joint favorite dessert of crème brûlée. Divine, as always.

Before our Broadway show, we went to Scarlatto for some Italian. They bring out the traditional bread basket, but they skip the usual olive oil and balsamic dipping plate in favor of an olive oil bowl that has had whole garlic cloves and olives marinating in it. You can definitely taste the garlic, so if that's not your thing I'd opt for the traditional oil and vinegar combo. And also, for not Italian. Our appetizers were incredible at Scarlatto. We went with the carpaccio with arugula and Parmesan shavings and a poached egg over prosciutto and asparagus. The carpaccio was earthy and subtle, while the asparagus dish was much brighter and tantalizing. I would get either of them again in a heartbeat. Scarlatto is famous for their pumpkin ravioli, which they serve with brown butter and asparagus. Layne ordered that, while I went with straight spaghetti and meatballs. The ravioli is famous for a reason, while the spaghetti and meatballs were unremarkable. Because we were at an Italian place, we had to get some tiramisu and oh-my-gosh am I glad we did! So light and creamy, the ladyfingers just brushed with coffee - it was one of the best tiramisus I've ever had, if not the best.

The next day we wanted to try authentic New York Jewish delicatessen so we hit up Carnegie Deli. We grabbed an open face reuben to split and headed over to Central Park for a picnic. The sandwich was pastrami on rye with a little bit of sauerkraut and Swiss cheese melted all over it. The pastrami itself was tender and juicy, so salty with just a hint of spice. It blew all pastrami I've ever had completely out of the water. Honestly. I don't know if I'll ever be able to eat any other pastrami again. It was also stacked about three inches high. We barely made a dent and it kept us powered for hours.

That night for dinner, we went to Luke's Lobster. Layne had seen it on Food Network and as lobster fanatics, we had to try it. It was pretty much just lobster on a buttered bun. It was heavenly. The tiniest bit of mayo, lemon, old bay, and celery salt. It really let the lobster shine! We also decided to try the shrimp and crab rolls, which had the same minimal seasoning with the same incredible favor. Only after the fact did we find out that there is a Luke's in D.C.! And only about a mile from where I work - can we say long lunch?

Our final day in New York, we went to Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill for lunch. Layne loves the jalapeño cornbread in the bread basket. We ordered a shrimp and roasted garlic corn tamale - my favorite dish of the day - for an appetizer. I went with the chile relleno, stuffed with eggplant and crusted in cornmeal. It was so smooth and rich and the cornmeal added the most phenomenal crunch, but my favorite part was the balsamic! Layne had the green chile cheeseburger, and the pickled red onions on top were so tart and cut through the greasy burger so nicely!

On a side note, we also popped by Junior's Bakery for a cheesecake, and we were not disappointed! So tangy, yet still sweet. It was perfect! I have to admit, I am usually the kind of girl who drowns my cheesecake in fruity goodness, but Junior's stands on its own, easily. 

In case you can't tell - we loved New York! And only four hours away means we can go back soon. So let me know - what's your favorite thing to do in NYC? Where do you always have to eat?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New York in Photos

I've been getting more and more into Photoshop lately, so here are some of my pictures from New York -most of them in my newest phase - spot color!


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