Late Fall in Paris

Paris… Virginia, that is.

There’s nothing I love more in autumn than clear blue skies and crisp fall air. You too?

It’s the perfect atmosphere for a leisurely afternoon drive into the countryside.

And this time of year is absolutely full of autumn color.

Once you get out of the busy DC metro area, there is wide open country in Virginia and Maryland, where you can explore little historic towns dating back 300 years.

Last weekend, we decided to take a short trip to Paris, Virginia, a tiny town in the foothills of Shenandoah Mountains.

This town is literally one main street long.

There’s a church, a school house, an apothecary, a few old houses, and the historic Ashby Inn and Tavern.

Drink. Food. Education. Religion. Medicine. Rest.

Everything you could want or need, really.

We stopped for lunch at the Ashby Inn and enjoyed some traditional country cooking (rich cornbread and banana pudding!)

I loved the ambience here. There were old creaky floors, a big veranda, old stone pathways leading though a garden, and gorgeous views of the mountains.

Because this is also Hunt country, there were horse motifs everywhere inside too.

It was a little bit too chilly to eat lunch outdoors this day.

So, I can’t wait to come back here in the summer time and eat outside in the sunshine.

How’s the weather where you are? Are you well into Fall now and gearing up for Winter?

 

24 hours in New York City

 

“So lucky to be alive today… in the greatest city in the world”

“In New York… in New York” – Hamilton

New York City. It’s one of those places that stimulates me and exhausts me at the same time. You know what I mean?

Just got back from a quick trip anniversary trip, and I’m still so wired from the whole experience.

Seriously, you don’t even need caffeine there.

The streets, the people, the atmosphere. It’s all enough to keep you alert and bright eyed for hours, if not a day or two afterwards.

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary by heading from DC to NYC for a day.

Here’s how our 24 hours unfolded.

After taking the train, then checking into our hotel, we freshened up and headed to lunch.

We chose Carbone for a long leisurely lunch before our show later that night.

Carbone is a Michelin rated retro style New York Italian restaurant. If you watch the Netflix Aziz Anzari show, Master of None, it was featured in the second season. Aziz is a big pasta fan in real life, so we were sold!

 

The Decor: Big beautiful florals in vases. Pink tiger lilies. Bright blue walls. Tiled floor. This is a HAPPY place.

The Food:  The food is Italian-American, so think big platters meant for sharing. Meatballs. Pastas. Italian salads. That kind of stuff.

The meal begins with a basket of garlic bread, a plate of salami, and a warm fresh ball of gooey mozzarella that they cut with scissors right in front of you. We also ordered the caesar salad, which was the best I’ve ever had. Big garlic croutons with a creamy dressing, and lots of anchovies. (of which I could only eat one… thought I could handle more, but guess not).

We also couldn’t resist the penne al la vodka, lobster ravioli, and veal parmesan.

The Atmosphere: This restaurant is very old-school with waiters who are a bit bossy and brash. It’s the New York experience, really.

Our waiter rolled his eyes at me for looking at my cell phone when he was explaining the menu. (I couldn’t help it. I got a text from my brother, who NEVER texts me. Thought it might have been emergency.)

It’s also very noisy here. The tables for two are pushed together quite closely, so you hear everyone’s conversation around you, and see exactly what everyone else is eating too.

The people next to us, practically in our laps, were also celebrating their anniversary and we chatted with them few minutes, which was fun

Overall impression: This lunch was really enjoyable, and I feel fortunate that we got to eat here. A few groups got turned away as they moved out of the lunch hour, and supposedly it’s impossible to get a reservation here for dinner. While the food was certainly tasty, the whole experience of food + service didn’t quite measure up to Michelin-quality, in my opinion.

I don’t think I would go back there again on my next trip, but I’d recommend to others for a fun NY Italian meal.

Hamilton on Broadway

Okay, so I have to preface this part by saying that while I do enjoy musicals, I’m really picky about them.

I once fell asleep during the musical Camelot and slept through the entire intermission.

Anyway, believe the hype about Hamilton!

It’s really good! As in, your head can’t stop bopping the entire time.

You can’t wait to see what they’re going to do in the next scene.

Every song is better than the last.

This show is so creative. It’s educational. It appeals to a large audience.

And the songs have been stuck in my head for days.

Breakfast

So, after a late nightcap after the show at a rather lame speakeasy (it’s not awesome when the same waitress takes your same order and doesn’t remember)  my husband and I were looking forward to our breakfast ritual in NYC.

We always devour fresh bagels and then buy a dozen to bring back with us to DC.

Before you think that’s weird (because there are bagel shops in DC after all), when I lived in California, I once knew someone from Long Island who would bring BAGELS and NEW YORK style pizza back on the plane with her.

Anyway, a bagel is pretty much my idea of heaven.

I’m pretty sure if I have the opportunity to choose one of my last meals, it would probably be a New York Everything bagel with scallion cream cheese.

Until next time, New York!

 

 

Dinner at Sfoglina

halogen-jacket

You know how you find a great new restaurant and you want to tell everybody?

That’s how I feel about my latest discovery! It’s called Sfoglina. I can’t rave about this place enough to neighbors, coworkers, anybody who will listen to me.

Each dish was soooo good, and I can’t wait to go back. Though there were only two of us, we went all out and ordered whatever sounded good to us. Here you’ll see all the highlights of the meal.

Some Prosecco to start the evening
Some Prosecco to start the evening

The Decor: Sfoglina is really cozy. There are booths and tables inside with burgundy and beige feminine touches. Inside there is also a lively bar with stools which were completely taken by the time we left. We opted to sit outside on the lovely patio because the weather was still nice this evening. IMG_1598

The best spicy calamariIMG_1599

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The Food: The menu at Sflogina is really simple, but that’s how it should be, right? Each section of the menu only has about 4 choices, so they can focus on the quality of the ingredients.

This restaurant is all about their homemade pastas, and the two we ordered were absolutely heavenly. Next time we visit, we’re going to order their pasta special which includes a sampling of three different ones. One fun highlight is that they always seem to have panna cotta on the menu for dessert, but it changes flavor frequently. Tonight, it was one of all my favorite Italian flavors, tiramisu.

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Fall pasta with fresh mushrooms
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Because one pasta just isn’t enough, there had to be pasta amatriciana too
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Short rib over parmesan polenta

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The Service: Our server was really lovely and attentive. On top of that, the manager visited our table several times to make sure all was well. We told them it was our anniversary, and at the end of the meal, they brought us a lemon dessert (not pictured) and two flutes of the most delicious dessert wine. panna-cotta

Reservations?  Sfoglina was recently awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand, which means it’s really delicious food at an affordable price. Because of this, the restaurant is likely to be packed! Yes, they take reservations and you should make them unless you plan on being there when they open at 5 pm for dinner. We got there around 5:30 pm, but by the time we left at 7:30, the entire restaurant was full.