On the Road Eats: Kansas City

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I have been to Kansas City so many times for work and almost always have a great food experience.  And there is one restaurant that will remain on my favorites list!

Oklahoma Joe’s
My favorite spot – I can visit the original location at a gas station, eat great barbeque and be in and out within 30 minutes.  Pulled pork and coleslaw on a sandwich – AWESOME!!!

Gram & Dun
It’s been a few years since I have been here but the food is always good, it’s an easy walk from the hotels on the plaza and they are on OpenTable.  After a crazy rain storm that forced allowed me to get some work done at the hotel, I walked to the restaurant with iPad in hand and got a high top table in the bar.  A glass of wine with the double cut breaded pork chop, creamed brussels sprouts with house-smoked bacon – my happy dance took place on the way home!

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Tavernonna
I admit, I didn’t love this restaurant but I think they had an off day.  I had the lunch special – salad and pasta (and added a meatball ).  The caesar salad needed to be chilled – it was as if they plated it and left it sitting on the line while they waited for the hot items.  As for the pasta, should have been cooked a minute or so longer to be perfect.  The flavors were good and I would return but there are too many other great spots to try.

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Residence Inn Kansas City Country Club Plaza
I stay here quite often IF I cannot get a room at The Raphael Hotel.  It’s super convenient to walk to many of my appointments and a block off the plaza.  It’s quiet and clean and they have a good amount of parking.  One night, Marriott points…all is good.

 

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On the Road Eats: South Bend, Indiana

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Another trip to South Bend.  The fun thing for me about visiting this city is I see or experience something new each time.

Aloft South Bend
I stayed here again.  And no reason not to.  The service is great, the rooms are large and clean and I can walk everywhere.  Bonus when they make you a great breakfast!

Render Kitchen & Bar
I knew the spots downtown and the ones near the college. So I decided to Yelp! and came across something new, new to me, as this great restaurant I found has been around for a couple years.  I sat at the bar, had a very friendly bartender and got to listen to a group of college girls chat about what they are doing after school.  Add that to some great food and a lavender infused cocktail – I will be back next time I am in town!

South Bend River Lights
Since the weather was still warm, I was able to wait until the sun went down and walk over to the bridge and see the lights.  They are interactive based on motion, change colors and are a great way to spend a few minutes at the end of the evening.

Cafe Navarre
This is the restaurant that comes up most often in my searches.  I was there about 5 years ago and it was great.  So I knew I had to stop by for a quick lunch before I headed to the airport.  Small caesar salad and the french onion soup- perfect.  And my boss joined me for lunch and said the beet salad was excellent!

Cafe Navarre Lunch

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On the Road Eats: San Francisco and Sonoma

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A trip out west!  Just what I needed after a couple crazy months of work so I could spend some one on one time with my husband.  I have flown through San Francisco but never spent any time there as an adult.  Below are the things we did, where we stayed and where we ate!

Fairmont San Francisco:
We started celebrating our anniversary a few months late each year to coordinate with the camp schedule. As soon as her camp spot was confirmed we started planning. Leave first thing Friday, arrive in time for lunch. Our room was not ready when we arrived but it was worth the wait. An amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz and Coit Tower!

San Francisco Activities:
WOW- I have never walked, biked and climbed steps so much in my life. We were there for full two days so I greatly appreciate my friend Shay telling me to leave all of my heels and wedges at home and wear sneakers and comfortable FLAT shoes the entire time I was in the city.  The highlights: the hike up to Coit Tower and the amazing views, seeing Lombard Street and the number of spectators, the morning at the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building, Dim Sum at Yank Sing, our entertaining visit to the Buena Vista and best of all, Biking the Bridge.  We rented bikes from town, rode through Chrissy Park all the way over the Golden Gate Bridge, and then over to Sausalito.  We caught the Ferry back and had the best night of sleep EVER!

What did we eat?
I decided not to make reservations since I wanted to eat when I was hungry.  I have to admit that it was weird not to plan the meals but worked quite well.  Plus, next time I am there I will take some time to do a fabulous tasting menu.  For this trip, we hit Fisherman’s Wharf and grabbed chowder in a bread bowl(super touristy, probably won’t go back).  We went for cioppino in North Beach, dim sum at Yank Sing(the only reservation I made while already in SF)- loved the soup dumplings, the potstickers and the pork buns, stopped by the Buena Vista for an Irish Coffee, had an amazing breakfast of Albacore tuna “lox” on sourdough with cream cheese, roasted golden beets and pickled onions at the Farmer’s Market, and drinks at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont.

Sausalito:
We biked the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito from San Francisco.  We needed to catch the last ferry so we didn’t have a chance to have dinner there but we did stop there for breakfast the next morning on the way to Sonoma.  You must stop at Fred’s!  Amazing lemon ricotta pancakes, perfectly cooked eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon(bacon glazed with pepper and brown sugar) – Delicious!!

Sonoma Fairmont:
After a short drive from Sausalito, we arrived at the Fairmont.  We stopped at Shug Winery and Gun Bun first and were then greeted at the Fairmont with two glasses of sparkling wine from Gloria Ferrer.  The hotel grounds are very relaxing with a hotel pool and a more private pool(quiet) near the spa.  One morning we rented bikes and rode to the square for a delicious breakfast.  And they offer complimentary car service to the restaurants on the square.  Next time, I will definitely make an appointment at the spa.

Glen Ellen Star
Everyone told me to go to Napa to eat but for two nights I knew I could find two amazing spots.  The first was Glen Ellen Star.  It has about 10-12 tables and a bar and great service.  The menu was great and we shared numerous dishes.

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Oakmont Village Market & Deli:
I mentioned in my wine post that they lost power at St. Francis Winery so we needed to go on a hunt for both food and a spot that had power.  We took a quick 5-minute drive and found a great deli.  Lots of options for prepared meals and a full deli.  We opted to share a sandwich since we had a dinner reservation a couple hours later.  But if you want an amazing sandwich and need it quick, this is the spot!

Girl and the Fig
I was told this was a great restaurant for both locals and visitors.  It’s right on the square and I made the mistake of eating way too many appetizers and never finished my entree.  But of course I had a little room for a shared dessert!  Great local spot and super close the hotel.

I’ve been home for a couple months now and am ready to go back!

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Wine Education….in Sonoma

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There is a mom get together coming up and I need to bring a bottle of wine. Do I know a lot about wines? No. Can I use my Vivino app at Trader Joe’s?  Sure.  Or I can head to Total Wine and ask for help.  But I wanted to learn.

So when my daughter left for sleep away camp, we headed to Sonoma.  Here are the four wineries we visited- an easy day or two in wine country.

Day 1:

Schug Winery:  Hal was there to greet us and my husband and I shared a tasting since it was 10:30 in the morning.  I also shared that it was my first time in Sonoma and so he gave me some lessons on the best way to taste wine and what to look for on the label.

Gundlach Bundschu:  Also known as “Gun Bun”, we drove up to the tasting area and found ourselves in the middle of a picnic area.  They had a larger tasting room than Schug with a “concierge” at the front entrance.  We had the option to do the tasting inside or out or purchase a bottle of wine and sit and enjoy the scenery.  We did the standard tasting, actually shared it, and really enjoyed the Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay.

St. Francis Winery & Vineyards:  I was looking forward to this for weeks.  I read amazing reviews about their food and wine pairing and I got the last open reservation.  We had a late breakfast and skipped lunch.  When we arrived, we were given a glass of wine to start and told to walk around and enjoy the vineyard.  And then they lost power.  Unfortunately, we did not get to do the complete food tasting but the two dishes we had along with the wines were fantastic.  Plus it was complimentary due to the outage so we will definitely go back the next time we head to Sonoma.

Day 2:

Gloria Ferrer:  We met some friends in Sonoma and there was a request for sparkling wines.  And so we headed to Gloria Ferrer for a noon bubbles and bites tasting.  We had a chef explain the pairings and a wine concierge to tell us about each wine that was selected.  The property was beautiful and the company was fantastic.  My favorite:  the Royal Cuvée.

Check out my post (coming soon) on where we stayed and where we ate!

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