Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zombies & Marshmallows

Lots of good stuff happening this week. First ... a cool little surprise ...

Inn The Kitchen made the FoodBuzz Top 9!


A friend of mine from college called last week and we talked for hours catching up. He gave me a recipe for marshmallows that I thought was impossible to do, until I tried it. Check out the FoodBuzzed recipe here.

The next cool thing.

Yesterday we had some training on riding a little two wheeled gadget, that, quite frankly, looks like you should just fall flat on your face. The Segway. Standing on it for the first time was a little reminiscent of a toy I had growing up that looked like a model for Saturn ... the pogo ball. It had a ring around the ball that you'd stand on ... try and keep your balance ... and then grip the ball between your feet as you jumped up and down. Well, luckily once you just trust the technology and step onto a Segway it's a whole lot easier! And fun! Check out a couple of TwitPics from our ride.

Our two-wheelin' was in preperation for giving a tour to Orlando's 67 Days of Smiles couple, Kyle & Stacey. They're visiting our little town of Mount Dora later this weekend and they picked the best time to come ... it's the 25th Annual Craft Festival this weekend.

This year they'll be a little spookie Halloween twist ... a Zombie crawl. I'm not big fan of zombies, so when Brian asked me to record some video of them I got a little squeemish. It's been interesting doing my video "research" for this since I usually watch scary movies with my eyes covered by my hands for the thrilling parts. But I've found I can get at least get through it when the sound is turned off. I'll have to let you know how it goes!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fun Factor

What kind of things would you actively do more of if it were "fun."

Seems like a wake up call to make mundane tasks more of a game. Because joy is really what life is about, isn't it?

I'm a fan of the "Fun Theory"


Monday, October 12, 2009

Day 3 Itinerary: Napa Valley

My post yesterday focused on the City of San Francisco. The famous cable cars, deem sum and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. But our final day we spent in wine country.

When it comes to wine, you could spend a year tasting your way through Napa Valley. So, when you only have a day ... where do you start?

Start with the heart of Napa, in the quaint town of St. Helena. And the best way to wake up your taste buds is with a gourmet breakfast at the Glass Mountain Inn. Here you can spend a leisurely morning chatting it up with other travelers on a vino-cation and find some inspiration in the Inn's wine cave.

After you belly's full and your tongue as worked up a thirst for the juice of the vine, there are
several notable winemakers close by. A couple of my personal favorites are Dutch Henry, Cakebread and Caymus. Visiting these winemakers was a little like meeting a rock star for me. My personal Graceland.

Before you head out to the vineyards, stop by the local grocer, Sunshine Foods Market, to find a great selection of gourmet cheeses, chocolates and other gourmet finger foods to bring along with you for your drive.

Hungry for more? Check out the video we made of our Napa expedition by clicking here.

On a side note, if you have an extra day, or you are like me and just like to see as much as possible in 24 hours, you have to pay a visit to Muir Woods. This enchanting forest deserves a weekend all on it's own. The peaceful setting and giant sequoias will take your breath away. As will the ride ... the road to get there has more curves than Lombard Street! But take your Dramamine and your camera and check it out.



Here is my segment on the show Daytime that I shot in Tampa right before heading out to San Francisco. It was a ton of fun and I hope do have the opportunity to do it again.

We made Sweet Potato Muffins from Inn The Kitchen. All in 4 minutes ... wish I cooked that fast at home!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A Weekend In San Francisco: Day 2 Itinerary

Yesterday, I detailed a great introduction to the city of San Francisco at Fisherman's Warf. Today, we get a little deeper into the city ... and of course the food!

Day 2 Itinerary: The City & Golden Gate

By now, you should know how much I love breakfast. If you’re an early riser, grab a hot cup of coffee and walk down to the Golden Gate National State Park. I actually made this my morning run and was in awe of how beautiful it was. Hugging the edge of the coast, you can walk, jog or bike along dirt and concrete paths through Fort Mason, the Marina, and Crissy Field and the whole time have a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Round trip, this path is about 7 miles so plan accordingly.

After working up a good appetite, head on over to Fog City Diner for brunch. You can choose among several gourmet twists to classic favorites including cinnamon vanilla challah French toast, cheddar biscuits and fennel garlic sausage gravy with eggs, huevos rancheros, eggs benedict with a sun dried tomato hollandaise … and many more mouth watering choices. The coffee is fresh, the service superb, and they have outdoor seating where you can enjoy the awesome California weather. Fog City Diner is also steps away from Coit Tower … if your legs aren’t too tired from spending the morning at Golden Gate.

After breakfast, head down to the Cable Car Turnaround on the corner of Taylor and Bay Street (near Columbus Ave) and pick up a daily passport. It is only $11 per person and allows you to hop on and off the cable car all day. (Ghiradelli Square also has a Turn Around, but the one on Columbus Ave will not have long lines or a wait.) The Cable Cars not only have a stop for all the major sites including Financial District, through Chinatown, over Nob Hill and stops at Van Ness Avenue, but riding one in San Francisco is a must on your to-do list.

Another "must-do" everyone told me about was tasting some of San Fran's best Deem Sum. I had many recommendations, but the one that popped up the most among locals was Yank Sing at the bottom of the Rincon Center at 101 Spear St. After dining there, my recommendation would be to do a little research ahead of time to decide what you want to try. There are no menus and staff swing by with cart fulls of items that will have your belly growling yum yum. It is very easy for me to over indulge and become a victim of my eyes being bigger than my stomach.

Later that afternoon, pack your bags, pickup a couple more loafs at Boudins and head out to the charming town of St. Helena in Napa Valley. Not only will you ride over the Golden Bridge, but the late afternoon warm "golden hour" hues of the sun setting in the valley will make a gorgeous drive. Roll down the windows, open the sunroof or let the top down and enjoy the ride. Check in at Glass Mountain Inn and rest up for the ultimate in wine tasting.

Tomorrow: Day 3 Itinerary ... tasting the juice of the vine.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Weekend In San Francisco: Day 1 Itinerary

Yesterday I talked about our spontaneous food and wine filled weekend trip to San Francisco. Read more about that by clicking here. Want to know how to see San Francisco in just one weekend? I've got the itinerary that will guide you through the best of the city. Read along ...

Day 1 Itinerary: Fisherman's Wharf

Check in to your hotel and walk down to Fisherman’s Wharf. We stayed at the Radisson on Beach Street. It’s an old hotel, very reminiscent of 1950’s pop culture with sharp angles and concrete columns. But despite the building’s age, it is newly renovated and clean. There is a great fire pit outside in the courtyard with cozy chairs to snuggle on, sip some wine and enjoy the cooler weather. My only complaint would be that the entrance was not very well thought out. You have to do sort of a u-turn on the sidewalk (yes, the sidewalk) in order to get into the parking garage and there is only an elevator/staircase at the end of each extraordinarily long hallway. Be prepared to schlep your luggage. But the location more than makes up for the small inconveniences. Just downstairs you are waking distance to all the popular tourist “must-sees” including Alcatraz, Ghiradelli Square, and a Cable Car stop where you can hop on board the famous moving Historical Landmark.

One of my favorite stops was to Pier 39 where there is a great view of Alcatraz and more barking sea lions then SeaWorld. Also a short walk away is the Ferry Building which has a wonderful farmer’s market on Saturdays so you can stock up on cheese, fruit and other finger foods to snack on or to pack in your Napa picnic basket.

At Fisherman’s wharf, seafood is king. While it’s touristy area and chalk full of franchises, for dinner take a walk and check out the local fisherman concession stands and try some boiled crab legs, seafood chowder and San Fran’s famous sourdough at Boudins.

Tomorrow: Day 2 Itinerary, more great finds in the city including the best Dim Sum, and two parks you can't miss.

Friday, October 9, 2009

A Weekend in San Francisco

When you’re trying to see the world … and I do mean THE WORLD … in one lifetime, sometimes you gotta squeeze the most you can out of one weekend. The 24,901 miles around the globe is a lot of ground to cover with your own two feet. So I’m a big fan of weekend trips to big cities such as NYC, Paris, and Rome.

Life is short, so when a friend invites you to a party, even if it’s on the other side of the continent, you should go. This friend happens to be one of the top food bloggers, Jaden Hair with Steamy Kitchen. So even if San Fran wasn’t enticing enough alone, tasty morsels of chocolate and silky wines are more than enough reason to hop on a plane. We packed our suitcases for a spontaneous weekend trip to San Fran full of serendipitous moments and excellent food. And now from experience I can tell you that food bloggers definitely know how to throw a party. I’ll tell you all about the serendipity, the food and how to squeeze a big city into three days … so follow along

First, the cool coincidences ....

Serendipitous Moment #1:
Meeting the Murphy Gooooooode guy, Hardy. And he really truly is a “goode” guy. Brian submitted a video for their Lifestyle Correspondent contest awhile back and it was awesome to meet the winner. Not only is he a brainiac about juice of the vine, he’s got some rockin dance moves as well. He satisfied our pinot envy with a lovely glass of red. Cheers Hardy!

Serendipitous Moment #2:
We love wine, as if that wasn’t obvious. On several occasions we’ve had the opportunity to meet Gary from Dutch Henry Winery at wine dinners here in Florida. We knew from conversation they were from California, but didn’t know exactly where. Napa covers a lot of ground. So, we decided to look them up. Only an hour drive outside of San Fran. Wow! So of course we had to plan a road trip to Napa.

Serendipitous Moment #3: The same week we had the crazy idea to pack our bags and head to San Fran, I had received an email from the Glass Mountain Inn in Napa from a Twitter friend @Juliesnapa. We thought, “Well, we’re already going to Napa for some Dutch Henry Wine, let’s see if this B&B is close by.” And would you believe … it was only …5 minutes … literally 5 minutes … from Dutch Henry. Wow. I couldn’t have planned that if I tried! Julie is a trained chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to boot, so I was uber excited to get to spend some time with her. She gave me an awesome recipe for croissant bread pudding that will be posted on later this month.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering how in the heck we even saw San Francisco with all this wine and food talk. I’ll share with you our itinerary and key places to see recommended to us by travel and food socialmedialites.

Next: San Francisco in a Weekend -- Day 1 Itinerary

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Rachelle and Brian escape to San Francisco for the weekend and take a road trip up to St. Helena in Napa Valley. Discover this charming town, find out how Glass Mountain Inn got it's name, and take a peak at the wine cave that gave Brian pinot envy.

Julie gave me an awesome recipe for croissant french toast. Check back with Inn The Kitchen to see the recipe and try it at home!