On the Road Review: South Bend, Indiana

I have something to share with you.

It’s been a long time since I posted and after dining in South Bend, I realized I needed to start sharing again!

I flew from DFW to Fort Wayne, rented a car and headed to South Bend. If I had had a little extra time I would have stopped at one of the many cute boutiques in FW so hopefully next time I can make that happen. The drive was pretty easy and in less than two hours I was checking into the Aloft South Bend.

Aloft South Bend
The Aloft is a newer hotel and located downtown. Parking was in the building and the staff was great during check in. There is a bar, a few social areas and a spot for breakfast. Plus you can walk to numerous restaurants in the area. My room overlooked downtown and I could see the Notre Dame campus. Fast forward to the next morning, I slept great, had a quick breakfast of lemon pancakes with fruit and granola in a breakfast bowl and started my day!

LaSalle Grill
I had looked up all the spots downtown and settled on LaSalle, a fine-dining restaurant and steakhouse. I normally would not choose a fine dining spot but they had a casual third floor lounge that got great reviews.  But, it was a Monday night so the third floor was closed and it was a super quiet night in the main restaurant. Since I was dining at 8pm I decided to order a light meal- the wedge salad with the herb dressing and the pan seared scallops over a roasted leek johnny cake with nueske’s bacon pomodoro. Both were fantastic! My server was great and she timed everything perfectly so I could finish my presentation due the next morning.

Cinco5 International
Full day meeting so we take our client to lunch and they choose Cinco5, a casual spot for Mexican and Thai food. Yes, Mexican and Thai. Since I had to pick one, I kept it simple and went with Pad Thai.  Half the table did thai, half did tacos.  The best part – private room for a group of 10!

Cinco5 Pad Thai-South Bend

Cinco5 Pad Thai-South Bend

Tortas Frontera
When flying through O’Hare and super hungry, this is your stop. Braised pork torta with pickled red onion, black beans and amazing bread. Cannot go wrong with Rick Bayless!

Have other favorites in Fort Wayne or South Bend?  Let me know!


My Airport Cheat Sheet

I have something to share with you.

I have driven to DFW airport more times than I want to admit over the past 7 years. And once I figured out the airport, I always parked in the same parking section no matter what. It was easier for me to remember and I always found a spot regardless of the time of day.

imageBut, on the off chance that I am running late OR I think American will fly in AND out of the same terminal(not usually the case), I needed to make sure I could park in a terminal with Pre-Check.

And that is why I created a cheat sheet for my car. It stays in the console with bubblegum, spare sunglasses and an extra USB cord and I can take a quick look after I hit the airport if I choose to park in a different section.

Now I can still get through security quickly as long as I can find a spot!


My Packing Secrets

I have something to share with you.

My girlfriend said I must be an expert packer. Hmm. Frequent traveler? Definitely. Do I have some packing secrets I could share with her? Absolutely.

One night trips are easy. Fill my lingerie bag, grab PJs, the toiletry bag(always packed and ready to go), a suit, a shirt, jeans that work with the shirt I travel in and flats(ballet or oxford!). In the morning, I’m in my suit and heels, just need my makeup bag (only have one) and a small bag of cashews or a KIND bar. DFW – here I come.

imageLonger trips – different story.  I must use a list.  Yes, I write out the days I am gone, the events for each day so I can mix and match my outfits.  No, I don’t have to stick to what it says once I arrive but I will have numerous options if I plan it in advance.

First, the color choice.  Am I going with black or neutral shoes?  That determines everything.  the suit, the pants, the tops, the dresses….it all comes down to the shoes.

Next, the events.  Dinners at night or free time, tradeshow, client meetings or an internal conference?  Time to change after meetings or outfits that go from day to night?

My longest trip is our annual sales conference in California(4-5 days).  My standard outfit- black pants(Ann Taylor or Banana) or a black or gray suit, flats/heels depending if I am sitting or up and around most of the day, and on top, layers…a solid or printed blouse(Pleione is great), sleeve length dependent on location with a cardigan that I can wear on the plane so I don’t use room in my suitcase (Bobeau from Nordstom is my new favorite).  Two pairs of jeans(one denim, one black or gray) and another comfortable but business casual pair of pants(Kut from the Kloth).  And a belt, which stays in my bag since I seem to forget that the most.

The other trick – make the best use of the suitcase.  My TUMI is not perfectly flat so my flat iron goes on one side and my pajamas on the other.  Then it becomes flat and I can start folding sweaters and shirts like they do at retail stores(cross the arms and fold in half).  My toiletry case is flat and square so it fits flat or standing on its side.  Shoes always go in bags to protect my clothes. Sometimes I can get away with wearing the same suit twice in one trip if I only have one meeting on the first or third/fourth day.  And if I can, I hit the hotel first so I can change quickly and be comfortable when I travel.  Dresses are easy and don’t take up too much room in the hanging side of the suitcase.    In the winter I try to match my outfits to a tall, flat boot for both comfort and warmth so I don’t have to pack them.  In the summer, I can usually fit a pair of flat strappy sandals or flip flops in my backpack and leave my heels in the car between appointments.  I finally mastered the art to packing in one carryon for multiple day trips, regardless of weather.  The one exception – skiing.

Wait, let me correct myself. I was a frequent traveler with my old job. Now with only 1-2 trips a month, my suitcase is back in the closet where it belongs.  Jessica, hope Chicago is fantastic!  Bring me back some Garrett’s – caramel cashew please!

On the Road Review: Chicago

I have something to share with you.

I recently changed jobs so unfortunately I will not be visiting clients in Chicago every other month like before.  The positive side…I will be heading to some new cities for other events and team meetings.  So for my last trip (for a while) to Chicago, I grabbed lunch in River North(repeat visit to a great spot), had dinner with a college friend at a great Italian spot, had a solo breakfast to get me through my day and grabbed a quick bite at the restaurant in my hotel before running to O’Hare.

Siena Tavern
Love this spot.  The food is great, the service is great and it is so convenient in River North.  After my last visit for lunch I knew I wanted to come back and I was taking a client to lunch.  We started with an appetizer of octopus..and it was delicious.  She opted for a salad, my other colleague did too.  I lived on the edge…..”Carbonara in a Jar”.  Yup, the super rich, super heavy loved by me pasta dish.  They present it in a jar with the egg, shake it up and serve it table side.  I eat it on the rare occasion (well, maybe more) and after making it halfway through, I called it a day with a big smile on my face.

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Davanti Enoteca – Taylor Street
Time for some time with my college girlfriend and some good food.  She suggested a spot in Little Italy, or close by.  Lots of plates to share and great conversation.  We started with the mascarpone polenta + ragù of the day(today was a slow braised pork) and it was fantastic.  We then moved onto the prosciutto–veal meatballs and the brussel sprouts.  If only I could eat like this every day!
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IMG_6780I had a full day ahead of me and wasn’t sure if I would have time to grab lunch.  So I walked from the Blackstone Renaissance (love this hotel) to Yolk.  I needed something to keep me going for the next 8 hours and ordered Challah french toast with berries to start the day and a cup of coffee.  Add the chill in the air and my day in Chicago was starting just right!



The Blackstone Renaissance has a great restaurant on the first floor.  I have dined at Mercat once before and with limited time to eat and catch a flight, it was the perfect option.  With a successful seminar behind me, I started with a Mojito, and then shared two small plates with a colleague. Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp) and Costillas de Ternera – a flatbread with Beef Shortribs, Horseradish, Parmesan and Bacon Marmalade.  We ate and rushed back to O’Hare after two great dishes.  How I love this city!!!

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