Tuesday, June 24, 2008


We returned last week after a 2 1/2 week vacation touring the east coast. I'm thrilled and overwhelmed with the amount of comments I got on my Daring Bakers post, and I promise that in the next week I'll check out all the commenters blogs and leave comments on them! I had so much fun making the cake, writing the blog, and waiting to post it on the assigned date! It was like homework, but with cake! I can't wait to make this month's challenge - tune in to find out what it is!!

During our trip, we visited Banner Elk, NC; Philadelphia, PA; Boston, MA (staying with a friend in Woburn, MA); New York City, NY (staying in North Bergen, NJ); Alexandria, VA; Richmond, VA (for my husband to run a race); and South Riding, VA. We stayed with friends part of the time, and hotels part of the time. I cooked only once during the trip, and that was in Banner Elk, NC. We were staying in a condo with my husband's family, and I made Pea Dumplings one night for a birthday celebration dinner. I also attempted to make Chocolate Chip cookies while we were there, but somehow managed to ruin all 3 batches! I didn't take into account the high altitude, so I burned 2 batches, and when I realized what I was doing and tried to lower the temp and the cooking time, this is what I produced:

After that, we decided to buy cupcakes for our birthday celebration dinner!

We ate out a lot during out trip. Here are some of the places we dined:

Stonewall's in Banner Elk, NC
(It was pretty good food, good service, but WAY overpriced for what we got. Of course, my generous in-laws footed the bill for dinner, but I still think it was too much!)

Banner Elk Cafe in Banner Elk, NC

(A nice outdoor dining area, good food, fun atmosphere. Kurt ordered a gigantic burger - so I had to get a picture of him eating it!)

Jim's Steaks in Philadelphia

(Of course we had to have the obligitory Cheesesteaks! Well, I had a cheese hoagie, but my husband LOVED the cheesesteak!)

Triumph Brewing Company in Philadelphia, PA
(Tasty beers and a great menu - with very reasonable prices. We loved it!)

Joe's American Bar and Grill on the waterfront in Boston, MA

(Good food, gorgeous location on the waterfront, but I got a terrible sunburn on my back and shoulders eating outside!)

(Sooo good! I had the marguerita pizza, which had a really delicious sauce and fresh mozzerella on top. Mmmmm - I've been dreaming about it ever since! We also shared a huge caprese salad with tons of crispy, fresh ingredients.)

Heartland Brewery in the Empire State Building in NYC
(Yes, we like the microbrew pubs! This one had some good beer, and good food, but a bit pricey for what we got!But what else would we expect from a restaurant in the Empire State Building??)

(Another good pizza place! I have to learn what makes NY style pizza so good!)

Sweetwater Tavern in Fairfax, VA

(Good big salads, unfortunately didn't get to enjoy any beer)

PF Changs in Richmond, VA

(I know I don't need to say anything about this place - we all know and love it. It was a great pre-race meal for Scott! And I enjoyed an Asian Pear Mojito there - yum!)

J. Pauls in Baltimore, MD

(We went after a trip to the Baltimore Aquarium, and we all had huge tasty salads for lunch on the harbour - mine was a great Vegetable Cobb Salad. I've never had a Cobb before, and it was really beautiful!)

In addition to the restaurants we visited, we were treated to some yummy homemade food by our hosts and hostesses too.

My friend Stephanie in Boston made us some delicious blueberry pancakes and some super cute bug shaped muffins (made in a bug shaped cupcake pan of course). She also made some delicious queso and guacamole. We also ordered some subs to go from a local restaurant near her house (Andrea's? not sure of the name), where I consumed the biggest, most delicious Eggplant Parmesan Sub I've ever had!

Our friend Roseann and Drew in Alexandria made us a delicious dinner the night we stayed with them. They made kebabs - veggie ones for me (very kind of them), and meat ones for the rest of the group. (To be honest, I didn't even pay attention to the meat so I'm not sure what it was - how self centered of me!) They also picked up some tasty deserts from Trader Joe's - ice cream sandwiches and opera cake (the coffee and chocolate kind). Yum!

In South Riding, we were treated to some authentic Peruvian cuisine from Rocio. One evening she made us some potatoes with spicy cream sauce. It was soooo good! I'm pretty sure it's called Papas a la Huancaina, because this recipe I found online looks exactly like what she made. I'll be trying out the recipe myself this summer. Her sister came over and made some ceviche for the meat eaters. (I enjoyed some fresh queso blanco slices with corn and sweet potato instead.) I might be too afraid to make this myself - especially since I wouldn't be eating it. They served it with corn and cold slices of cooked sweet potato. Then that evening, Rocio made a chicken with rice dish. The chicken was skinless thighs, pan fried in oil, maybe rubbed with some spices? Not sure (again - so self centered!) The rice was very similar to a rice pulao I might make in Indian cooking. I think it had garlic, turmeric, and maybe onion too, which she pureed, then cooked a little before adding rice, liquid, and some veggies like corn, peas, and carrots. It was delicious! She made the chicken separately (thanks for thinking of the high maintenance vegetarian!!), but will usually cook them together for a little while, to allow the chicken to flavor the rice. Our gracious hostess and host also had a kegerator, which was filled with a delicious wheat beer - citrusy, and yummy! (But bad for my reflux.)

All in all, considering we(myself, my husband, and my 2 children) were in close proximity to one another for 2 weeks straight, we had a great time! We saw some great cities, caught up with some good friends, and had lots of good family time - which is nice because my husband will be deploying again in a few weeks. (He'll only be gone for a few months again, which is sooo much better than what many people in the military - and most of my military friends - have to go through with deployments.) I'm glad we went, and I'm really glad we're home!


Anonymous said...

It looks like you guys had a blast! And ate some yummy food!!! Can't wait to you head this way.

Miss you! Love you!


Suzie said...

Wow Paula! I wish I could have come. Maybe we will see you in Houston and we can go to eat! So much more fun then in Killeen! Ha Ha. I really miss you and I was so happy to talk to you yesterday.

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RedLegMeg said...

Sounds like a very full and fun trip! I'd just like to add that you need to quit trying to explain Scott's "short" deployments. Gone is gone and it's okay to not like it!! :) Miss you guys...