On Tea at the Brown Palace Hotel

Although I really haven’t blogged about it much, we’re still doing our monthly date nights. Not all of them have been super exciting (a lot of times it’s just dinner … and even if it’s a new place I haven’t always wanted to write about it). However, this month we decided to really change it up and do tea at the Brown Palace Hotel.

The Brown is one of the oldest hotels in Denver (if not the oldest), built in 1892. They also do a high tea during the afternoons from 12-4. I’ve done it a few times, but the last time was over a decade ago for a friend’s birthday.

I’ve talked about it, and B wanted to do it … but it was hard for us to commit to as you typically have to make your reservation for tea months out and with his schedule, that isn’t easy. However, once he got his March schedule, we chatted about it, and they had spots open. So, we went yesterday.

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We just did the signature tea, as neither of us wanted alcohol. You get to choose your type of tea; I chose a black while B chose a green. Unfortunately, I can’t recall which flavors we got and the menu online doesn’t match yesterday’s. Both, however, were delicious.

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The treat tower.

Bottom level: scones. We had a buttermilk and a coconut and we loved both of them. The Brown imports their Devonshire cream from England and it is very tasty.

Middle level: sandwiches. Your typical cucumber sandwich (yum), a chicken salad on rye (okay), and a curry egg salad (not bad, but you definitely taste the curry).

Top level: desserts. A mini almond madeleine (tasty), some mint petit four (gross), a chocolate thing (highly disappointing), and some raspberry pastry that was surprisingly good – reminded me of a tarter Starbucks Raspberry Swirl Loaf.

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B is excited.

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You can get extra sandwiches, so we just got more of the cucumber ones.

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A close up of the raspberry dessert. It was pretty.

Tea at the Brown is definitely a fun experience, albeit a pricey one. I wouldn’t recommend it as something to do super frequently, but it is worth doing.

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A Week In Vegas

I spent the first week of the new year in Las Vegas. B had an overnight there on the 31st and we were planning on being there the subsequent weekend for some college hockey … so instead of me flying in and out of LA twice and driving his car back and forth across the desert, we just decided to have me drive out and live there for a week.

(As I also wanted to get my first full week of Ironman training down, this was a much better plan.)

I left on December 30th and drove to St. George, Utah, where I spent the night at a Fairfield. And had a band-aid (or breathe right strip, or SOMETHING) in my shower. And the hotel did very little about it (disappointing, because that’s gross).

The 31st, I woke up pretty early and drove the last little bit into Las Vegas. I found a gym to swim at and then found a Target to go pay my bill at. I wanted to paint my nails, but since that’s not something you really do in a public place (smells) and I didn’t want to pay for a manicure … I just decided to do it in my car since hey, I had nothing else to do until B got in. I also read a book at the same time and that took up several hours.

At this point, I was fairly hangry, so I drove over to the MGM Grand, parked, and went into their food court and ate a Raising Cane’s knockoff that was pretty terrible. I then went back to the car to time it so I got to B’s tower at the Signature the same time he did. This worked well. Both of us were still pretty hungry, so I showered, we got changed, and we headed over to the Bellagio just to eat their buffet for New Year’s Eve (didn’t want something SUPER fancy or to fight with reservations).

As they were closing down the Strip for the festivities after we finished, we got to walk back free of crowds down the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard, which was pretty cool.

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Yay NYE!

Tub beers, and then bed after we saw the east coast ball drop.

We woke up pretty early on January 1st (not easy since the midnight fireworks definitely woke us both up). I was hoping to catch the sunrise … which I technically did, but it was crap. Our run wasn’t bad, but it was surprisingly cold for Vegas.

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The Venetian, nice and quiet and pretty.

We grabbed some coffee at Starbucks and then headed over to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at Eggslut (and a donut at District Doughnuts).

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Fun chairs.

We didn’t have too much time back at the hotel before B had to leave, but enough time to spend some together.

He left, and I packed up and headed to Cafe Lola to get a lot of stuff done and spend a few hours. I started off with one of their amazing cappuccinos and, I forget the name of it, but some outstanding Portuguese pastry.

I stayed so long that I ended up eating lunch there, too.

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Mmm, salad.

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Newest tiny adorable dinosaur Sprout on their couch.

Sometime mid-afternoon, I headed over to the house of a pilot friend of B’s who lives in North Las Vegas, my home base for the next few days. Said friend and his wife were only around for a bit, as they have Vegas Golden Knights season tickets and there was a game that night, but one of their sons was in town for the holidays, so I hung out with him and his boyfriend (and the dog, Reggie) that night. Dinner was some insanely massive calzone from a pizza place nearby.

I woke on the 2nd much later than I would have liked, but whatever. Clearly I needed some sleep after a very stressful holiday season. I went and swam … and was very hangry during/after, so I ate brunch at a breakfast place near the house called the Cracked Egg.

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Menu.

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Foooood. Got the avocado for some green and ended up making my own avocado toast. It was pretty delicious.

I did a bike ride that afternoon and then did a lot of admin stuff at the house before venturing back out for food (and chamois cream). The drive took me over to Summerlin for the bike shop … and dinner just ended up being at a Whole Foods. I did, however, decide to try the cookie shop that was right near the Cracked Egg – Crumbl Cookies.

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They had oatmeal chocolate chip, which I was super excited about since that’s my favorite cookie and hard to find … but it had the spices of an oatmeal raisin cookie, which, IMHO, don’t belong when you swap the raisins out for the superior chocolate chips. The chocolate chip cookie was SO GOOD – definitely the best of the three I tried. The sugar cookie wasn’t bad … but too much frosting. I am barely a frosted sugar cookie person as it is, so frosting basically the same thickness of the cookie? Too much sugar.

Woke up the 3rd and kind of lazed around … so much so, that I had to scrap my original planned run location and find a park closer to McCarran so that I would be able to pick B up on time. I could see the planes landing at the park, so when I got the text from B that they were descending, I could keep an eye out for his plane (and did indeed see it). Thankfully, though, I was able to finish my run as planned and pick him up without him waiting too terribly long for me.

We went to Cafe Lola after I picked him up because he was not NOT going to have one of their cappuccinos himself. I had another of the Portuguese egg pastries and he had some of their oatmeal.

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On the swing outside.

From there, we found a much better trail and went for a ride. Grabbed a quick bite after before heading to the Bellagio (our happy home for the rest of the trip). We showered, walked over to T Mobile Arena to purchase tickets for the Ice Vegas Invitational (whole reason we planned the trip), and then met up with his cousin and his husband over at the brand new Eataly that opened up outside of Park MGM.

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Mmm, pizza.

Woke up on the 4th, ate at the buffet for breakfast (we found a package that gave us breakfast credits every day), got coffee … and I threw $40 into a slot (Heidi’s Bier Haus) and cashed out with $205. Nice morning. We then drove out to Henderson to ride some more. There’s a trail that got meh reviews due to the nature of it being pretty much right by the highway, but we thought the Union Pacific Railroad Trail was actually quite nice to ride on. Sure, quite a bit of it WAS boring, but it ended up opening up on some other trail right outside of Boulder City and it got great. Very nice way to get in 20 miles.

Got a bit hangry after that, so just grabbed food at Chick-fil-a for some calories before heading back to the Strip. Showered, grabbed a cappuccino at Cafe Gelato inside the Bellagio, lost a bit at Heidi.

Dinner pre-hockey was at In-N-Out … where we amusingly sat in the same booth we sat in back in September with our friends Blair and Jenna-Caer.

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Night at the Linq.

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Us at the game.

We skipped the first game of the night – Western Michigan vs. UConn – because all we really cared about was the Air Force/St. Lawrence game. Happily, Air Force won (and we got to see some sled hockey in intermission).

The 5th was another run day, so after another buffet breakfast, we drove back to the same park I ran in the other day. I wanted to go to the Cafe Lola pop-up shop in the Macy’s in Fashion Show, so we headed there after the run.

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Yes I’m obsessed.

Once we got back to the Bellagio, it was spa time which was vastly needed by both of us.

Afterwards, we headed down to the Vegas Golden Knights’ store to see if there was any merch for the tournament – unfortunately not.

We gambled a bit, grabbed some food, mostly stayed fairly chill.

A lot of this was because I had been feeling unsettled all day (and a bit the previous day too if we’re being honest). I finally just wondered if puking would help … and so I did that. First time I’ve thrown up in probably about six years (probably since my last concussion). It was gross, and it hurt (and I burst a blood vessel in my eyeball), but it did make me feel better, so mission success?

Dinner pre-game was at the buffet (ugh I know again) and then we got ourselves a nice treat of Ghiradelli sundaes.

Air Force unfortunately lost to Western Michigan, so our teams are currently 0-2 in championship games in tournaments in random places that we’ve traveled to. Thankfully UND doesn’t go anywhere this year for us to see them lose.

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Rainy T-Mobile reflections pre-game.

The original plan was to swim on our way out of town, but I still felt kind of crappy and I didn’t want to suction goggles over my weird eyeball … so that didn’t happen. We grabbed breakfast at Sadelle’s, a new restaurant in the Bellagio (off the conservatory, where Cafe Bellagio used to be), and then gambled a bit more before checking out. Which ended up being smart, since we both ended up winning a bit more.

We checked out, got coffee on our way out of town, stopped at Red Lobster in St. George for lunch, and drove through a lot of foggy crap to stop for the night in Grand Junction.

The drive home the next day was terrible thanks to a lot of snow (and an hour and a half to get through the tunnel), but overall, it was a nice trip to start the new year off on.

T and B Do Belfast: The Food

So the food we ate on this trip wasn’t as exciting as say, Italy – and we didn’t eat a whole lot, all things considered … – but I did want to mention some of the stuff we did.

Wednesday, November 21:
Breakfast: egg and oj at the house, coffee and a pastry from either Caribou (B) or Lavazza (me).
Lunch: I’m pretty sure this was at Le Grand Comptoir in JFK Terminal 4. B had … a turkey and brie sandwich, I think? … and I had a lobster roll. Because of course.

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Not the best, not the worst.

Snack: random stuff at the Sky Club.
Dinner: Something on the airplane. I think it was chicken with risotto and green beans, but don’t quote me on that.

Thursday, November 22:
Breakfast: like two bites of my Noosa yoghurt that was in the breakfast snack box thingy we were given.
Lunch: yeah, kind of skipped this.
Dinner: food at the Belfast Christmas market.

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Nothing will ever be as good as Italy, but we try.

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Dutch pancakes with butter and cinnamon. Was meaning to go back and try other flavors, but it never happened.

Friday, November 23:
Breakfast: delicious hotel noms (eggs, bacon, croissants, oatmeal) at the Hilton Belfast and then cappuccinos at Caffe Nero.

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Also not as good as Italy, but fooooooam!

Lunch: Simply Fish and Chips (located in the same building as St. George’s Market).

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Fish was good. Chips … not as much.

Snack: random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception – cocktail weenies, (crappy) nachos, cheese, muffins.
Snack #2: loaded fries at the hotel bar just for calories.

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They did the job.

Saturday, November 24:
Breakfast: more hotel noms followed by crappy European Starbucks.
Lunch: random sandwiches from a cafe in the bottom of a bookstore.
Snack: same random bites at the BU alumni pregame reception.
Dinner: pizza and caprese salad from Pizza Punks Belfast.

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The large whiter blobs are too much mozzarella. Good otherwise though.

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Touch too much basil. Otherwise delicious.

Sunday, November 25:
Breakfast: same delicious bites at the hotel.
Snack: coffee (for B) and donuts/Timbits at Tim Horton’s.

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Because I have to keep up my streak of buying doughnuts while we’re overseas together.

Lunch: I actually don’t think was a thing.
Dinner: burgers and fries at the bar at the Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport.

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I had to dismantle this in order to eat it by taking off a patty. And, once again with the crappy fries.

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Plus we got some (mediocre) apple thing for dessert.

Monday, November 26:
Breakfast: eggs, bacon, and croissants at the Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport.
Lunch: more breakfast foods from some stand in the Dublin airport once we realized we were stuck for another day.
Dinner: at Little Venice, an Italian place down the street from the hotel.

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Cheesy garlic bread for an appetizer.

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Tagliatelle Pollo Funghi which I had. Good except the chicken was a bit dry.

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B’s Ravioli Beef.

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B’s dessert – Chocolate Fudge Brownie.

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If there are Profiteroles on a menu, I will order them. These were definitely not the best I’ve had, however.

Tuesday, November 27:
Breakfast: same as the previous day at our hotel.
Snack: cappuccinos from Butler’s Chocolate Cafe in the Dublin airport.
Lunch and subsequent snacks: Pod life.

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“Lemongrass Ginger Prawns with fennel salad, roasted cashews, pomegranate seeds and wasabi mayonnaise” and “Little Gem Caesar Salad with shaved parmesan cheese, pretzel croutons and caesar dressing.” Neither were good; nor were they bad.

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“Grilled Beef Tenderloins topped with fresh herbs and demi-glace served with haricots verts and roasted cauliflower.” Beef? was fine. Green beans were better in the back of the plane on the way over and I choked down the cauliflower. Highly disappointing, tbh.

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Mmm, sundae. Not enough chocolate sauce though.

I grabbed a bag of chips out of the snack basket when it came around and we were also given chocolate chip cookies at one point.

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“Cuban Pork Sandwich pork loin, smoked ham, swiss cheese and dill pickles served on a baguette and offered with mixed green salad.” The sandwich was REALLY good … but unfortunately my salad was frozen so I couldn’t really eat it. Boo.

Beyond: very few snacks at the Sky Club because we were so stuffed from the flight over. I did buy a can of Pringles (as well as ate some peanuts) on our flight back to DEN … and I think we just grabbed Chick-fil-a on the way home, but I also don’t quite remember.

On Minnesota and Its Fair, Once Again

Like we so often do, we headed back to Minnesota for the State Fair last week. We drove up, both so we could bring our bikes to ride with a friend of B’s and so we could bring back some stuff of his from his parents (namely, his original Nintendo).

It was a weird trip; it wasn’t that good, really; I don’t know if it’s stale, or age, or a lot of stress (which I won’t be going into much here), or what, but I think we need a break. At least from the fair.

We left early morning on August 22nd and drove straight through. Stopped at Starbucks for breakfast, Golden Corral for lunch (easy way to get salad), and my Trails truck stop in Albert Lea for some ColdStone Creamery. Stopped at a rest area somewhere in Iowa, north of Des Moines, to get out and run a mile. Stopped at a bar to meet some friends of ours for a drink and nachos, friends we haven’t seen in years but will be seeing again soon out here in Colorado. Finished at the Marriott near the airport and Mall of America.

Thursday was mainly mall day. Walked over after breakfast to get coffee (at both Starbucks and Tim Horton’s … and sugar at Cinnabon) … and waited for the mall to officially open since we got there a bit early. Oops.

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Outside.

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Sign in the mall.

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Gelato spoon chandelier.

We didn’t get too many things – a candle and some Minnesota stuff for B, some new markers for me from the Crayola store – but it was okay. We ate food court stuff for lunch (me Panda Express, B Chick-Fil-A) and I also had a mid-afternoon cappuccino from the Nordstrom eBar.

Post-mall, we drove around B’s old neighborhood in Burnsville, as he hadn’t seen it/been over there in several years. I saw where he cut his hockey-playing teeth and we played on a playground.

Dinner was cobbled together from the hospitality suite in the Marriott.

Friday morning, we rode with Tim in the rain before heading to Cossetta’s in St. Paul for lunch and some time at the Science Museum of Minnesota (using that reciprocity).

The museum was a touch disappointing – at least for adults. Super hands-on for kids (and there were tons of kids there), but a little meh for us.

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Random fish sculpture.

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There was a really cool exhibit on mental health, explaining it in a way that all of us can understand.

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Resting in a giant red blood cell chair.

Post-museum, we headed back to the Minneapolis side of things to do date night at the mall. We fell back on an old standard, Benihana, and then went up to the fourth floor to play a whole bunch of games at GameWorks. Easy, simple, and fun.

Saturday we slept in a bit before heading up to B’s parents house for most of the day/afternoon. I had a few things I needed to do after that, so we did those errands and then rode bikes for a tiny bit. Post-bikes, our standard breakfast-for-dinner pre-race (Perkins edition) and then just laid low the rest of the night.

Sunday morning we ran the Milk Run 5K (which if you want to know how that went, head on over to the tri blog).

After the race, we headed back to the car to clean up a bit and then into the fair. I should mention we had a free post-race breakfast sandwich from Giggles Campfire Grill that was TERRIBLE. When we got back in the gates, we took a beeline towards the Agriculture Building to make sure we could try a brand new apple we heard about – the First Kiss.

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This apple is still a year or two from hitting stores, but it was pretty tasty. Of course, one of its parents was a Honeycrisp, which is basically the best apple out there, so it’s no wonder.

Our next stop was to French Meadow for some coffee and then on to the West End Market to try one of the new foods – Nordic Waffles.

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It was a super popular booth – about a 25 minute wait to even order and then about another 20 minutes to get the waffles. They have seven different varieties – we tried two: the Breakfast All Day and the Cinna-Sugar-Butter.

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The breakfast waffle? Totally worth the wait. The sweet one? Needed more butter, we think, for it was a bit disappointing.

From there, we walked over to the Dairy Building to get our free malt/sundae/whatever from the race, making some detours along the way.

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Newer fun house at the Mighty Midway.

I didn’t get a picture, but B got his malt (really more of a shake) and I got a chocolate sundae. Really, it tasted like Dairy Queen’s. But it was free, so meh.

Our next stop was the poultry barn, because chickens.

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And turkeys!

We actually got to pet a Silkie chicken, which was amazing.

The humidity was starting to kill us at that point, but we kept persevering. Or trying to.

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It is not a fair trip without cheese curds.

We headed over to the corn roast after that to split an ear of corn and both decided the humidity was too much, so we headed back over to the West End Market to pick up a Christmas decoration purchase we made after our waffles (a retro hockey skate with greenery). B couldn’t decide whether he wanted more food or not (I totally didn’t), so I sat down while he went and got a pickle dog.

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Pickle wrapped in cream cheese and pastrami. No, I did not try it. Blargh.

As it looked like rain was rolling in, we decided to head out for the day. We went back to the hotel to shower and then wandered over to the mall for dinner.

Monday morning, back on the road, and back to Denver.

T and B Do Italy: The Food

B and I recently came back from a 10 day trip to Italy, and it was amazing. I hadn’t been in 20 years and B had never been … and we’d been discussing this trip for years so we FINALLY bit the bullet and did it. As I currently have it outlined, I should be able to get the trip done in five posts – four for the trip and one for the food. This is the final of those posts.

So much food eaten in so many days … might be easier on all of us if I do this in a modified list form …

Tuesday, April 10:

Breakfast: egg and oj at the house, oatmeal at the DIA Delta Sky Club.
Lunch: Shake Shack at JFK, veggies in the Delta Sky Club there.
Dinner: Delta One pod life, baby.

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Appetizers. “Grilled apricots with whipped ricotta, truffle honey and crispy prosciutto;” “Baby iceberg wedge salad with chives and cherry tomatoes served with creamy dill dressing” Also had the opportunity for a tomato bisque (which B ate and liked), but I didn’t take it. Not usually the biggest fan of wedge salads, but this one wasn’t bad. The apricots (not something I would normally eat, but hey, adventure) were surprisingly good … but probably would have been better warm.

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Dinner. “Cacio e Pepe ravioli – parmesan fondue, asparagus tips and blistered tomatoes” Actually was interested in the salmon option, but got the ravioli. Which I think I’m ultimately okay with (plane fish? could be sketchy …) … mostly because it was delicious.

Dessert: continued pod life.

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Lemon Tart. B did not get one. I think one of the (good) flight attendants saved it for me due to something that happened before we even took off that I would prefer not getting into on here, but had me crying for a good hour or so. I am thankful for this, because it was AWESOME.

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Best part of international first/business class is the make-your-own-sundaes. Mmm.

Wednesday, April 11:

Breakfast: more pod life.

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“Potato and gruyere frittata with tomato hollandaise and asparagus” It was this or some homemade granola cereal with yogurt, which I didn’t want to take my chances with. I know I wouldn’t have been happy with that … but I wasn’t particularly happy with this, either. Blargh. The croissant was tasty though …

Dinner: Panino Gusto

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We kind of slept through lunch, so dinner was just a place we found out walking – a fancy Italian sandwich shop. Apparently it’s a chain around Milan, but it was really tasty. We also had our first of many trip cappuccinos there.

Thursday, April 12:

Breakfast: free at our hotel. Great spread, though – eggs, meats, cheeses, assorted pastries, yogurts, fruit, several fruit juices …
Snack: croissant and cappuccino at Marchesi in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuale II.

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Lunch: a massive slice of pizza we split from somewhere near the Navigili canals.
Dinner: savory crepe from some restaurant we found – cheese and ham and mushrooms and it was pretty terrible but it was food. Also fries from Amsterdam Chips because we needed something better for our taste buds.
Dessert: gelato from some cart near the Duomo.

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He got cherry, I got coffee (caffe). Like cappuccinos, gelato is so much better in Europe.

Friday, April 13:

Breakfast: hotel, once again.
Snack: cappuccino and croissant at Pan Brioche in Milano Centrale. Partially to waste time, partially because mmm, cappuccino.

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Lunch: Impronta Cafe, Venice, Dorsoduro district.

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This place was highly rated in “best places to eat in Venice” – B found it. Maybe if we had eaten something other than just sandwiches … B was meh on his. Mine was actually tasty after I peeled off all the olives. Ugh, olives.

Snack: gelato from some tiny shop near some church somewhere in Venice. Could not recreate where. But I got more caffe gelato and it was good.
Dinner: a prix fixe menu at Bacaro Jazz. Wanted to keep it a touch cheaper and their menu looked okay. Food … was there.

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Their version of a mussels au gratin. Not the greatest I will say. I forget what B did as his first course … lasagna, maybe?

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Main course of chicken milanese. This was good. I was happy with this.

Saturday, April 14:

Breakfast: well, our first “snack” was a pastry and a cappuccino at a small cafe near our hotel after some sunrise wanderings, but breakfast was actually just at our hotel. Less “Americanized” than in Milan, it was pastries, cold meats and cheeses, yogurt, and, thankfully for my protein-needing belly, hard-boiled eggs.
Snack: random stuff on our train ride, plus I saw donuts (donut cioccolato) in the train station. Had to buy one.

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Looks normal …

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… but oh wait, it’s not. It was … weird. Edible, but weird.

Lunch: a sandwich we bought at the same place we bought the donut that we split once getting into our hotel room in Florence. Also some gelato, because, duh. Went to a place called Perche Non (literally, why not). Had good reviews, upped it to two flavors – cioccolato along with my caffe. The chocolate was SO RICH OMG and it overpowered the coffee to the point that the coffee was almost flavorless. Don’t know if I would actually recommend them.
Dinner: the first of three eventual trips to Gusta Pizza (Gustapizza? might be one word …)

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Pizza margherita. I wish I could be eating this right now …

Sunday, April 15:

Breakfast: hotel. Not as wide of a variety as in Milan, but probably ultimately overall tastier. Scrambled eggs, strange bacon, pancakes (that I didn’t try), various pastries, meats and cheeses, yogurts …

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… and cappuccinos that I got designs in every morning. So tasty.

We also got a cappuccino while out wandering at the Corona Cafe, but I don’t want to consider a cup of coffee a “snack,” so I’ll just mention it here.

Lunch: random paninis we picked up at some cafe wandering around that we ate outside the Duomo.
Dinner/Dessert: a full three (well, four with dessert) course meal at La Sosta de’Golosi, a restaurant right down the street from the Duomo area. Super nice staff and really delicious food.

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Course one, that we split – prosciutto-wrapped melon. So tasty.

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Course two – mushroom papparadelle. I was quite happy with this, while B was happy with his … spaghetti bolognese I think …

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Course three – chicken parm for me, beef entrecote for B, and fries to split. I’m not sure how authentically Italian chicken parm is necessarily … but it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

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Course four – dessert. I got gelato affogatto (essentially ice cream and espresso) while B got some cake that the mom of one of our servers made and brought in. It was good but way too sweet; I’m glad we each got what we did.

Monday, April 16:

Breakfast: hotel noms.
Lunch: sandwiches at some tiny cafe right near the Leaning Tower in Pisa.

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The chicken, on the left, was really good. The ham and cheese, on the right, got a bit much.

“Snack”: quotations because it was cappuccino at Corona Cafe again.
Dinner: Il Bottegone, in the Duomo square. Mondays mean a lot of stuff closed in Florence, but if you want to eat, you can always count on the touristy areas. Even if it means you’ll pay a bit more.

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My turn for the beef entrecote. Pretty good. I do regret not trying actual Florentine bistecca, but, cost. We also split more prosciutto melon which was predictably delicious.

Dessert: gelato at Ristorante d’Orologio.

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This caffe gelato may have been quite tasty, but it was also SO EXPENSIVE. Our two gelato cones were damn near 14 euro, which is INSANE. Not worth it. AT ALL.

Tuesday, April 17:

Breakfast: hotel, as per usual.
Lunch: sandwich pizza from some cafe. No, really, that’s the best way I can describe it:

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While it looks weird (and was quite greasy), it was actually really good.

“Snack”: apparently we’re on an afternoon cappuccino kick, and this day’s infusion was provided by Caffe Mario near S. Croce church.
Dinner: more delicious Gusta pizza.

Wednesday, April 18:

Breakfast: hotel, because of course.
Lunch: at Il Borghetto, on the other side of the river. Cross the Ponte Vecchio and head up toward the Palazzo Pitti and you’ll find it.

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A touch dry, but otherwise not bad.

Snack: one final scoop of caffe gelato from Festival de Gelato. Maybe not as good as Ristorante d’Orologio, but definitely a lot f’ing cheaper.
Dinner: one final visit to Gusta. I miss you, delicious pizza.

Thursday, April 19:

Breakfast: one final hotel breakfast.

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Pictured: cheese danish thingies I ate at least two of every morning, B’s duck cappuccino, my name cappuccino. Not pictured: the pile of eggs I ate every morning.

Lunch: random sandwiches we bought from some place in the Florence train station that we ate on our train back to Milan.
Dinner: so there wasn’t much by our Holiday Inn Express, but the Crowne Plaza down the road had a restaurant, La Brughiera, so we ate there.

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Gnocchi that we split for a first course. This was to die for.

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Oh hey, more entrecote! With really terrible roasted potatoes.

Friday, April 20:

Breakfast: a hard-boiled egg that I grabbed from our hotel in the five minute window we had between breakfast opening and our hotel van as well as cappuccinos, mediocre sandwiches, and pastries from InAmore cafe across from our gate in MXP almost four hours later.

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We may have had two cappuccinos each … knowing that we’d miss them terribly when we got home. Which is 100% accurate.

Lunch: some chicken and risotto something or other we got back in coach on the airplane. That wasn’t actually all that bad, really.
Snack(s): Magnum bar on the flight, some turkey and cheese croissant thingy on the flight, a metric crapton of cucumber in the Delta Sky Club in JFK … Pringles on the flight home …

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Back of the bus plane snacks. Not quite as pretty as up front … but tbh I would have rather had this for breakfast as opposed to that frittata on the way out …

Dinner: Chick-fil-a of shame on the way home. Too tired to do/think of anything else, and only picked it up because we knew we needed to eat SOMETHING.

On Shanahan’s

Denver Restaurant Week has come and gone once again, and B and I were able to sneak in on the tail end of it, trying out Shanahan’s. Shanahan’s is a place we’ve been meaning to go to for DRW for ages, but it’s never worked out. Thankfully, it finally did (and also became March date night; we went this past Sunday).

On the surface, Shanahan’s is essentially your basic, super expensive steakhouse. Same general food, same exorbitant prices, etc. However, the experience is different in a few ways:
– natural light. A lot of steakhouses are dark holes with very few windows. Shanahan’s, in contrast, has a complete wall of windows which, while we had the light, made the atmosphere a lot less stuffy.
– the music. Our favorite Pandora station is called “Beach Bar Lounge Radio,” which is essentially smooth trance. We were joking that Shanahan’s was playing that station with the request for no songs with lyrics, as we heard several of the same songs at dinner that we’ve heard on Beach Bar.
– the decor. Smooth, modern, clean. Again, not stuffy like steakhouses tend to be. Essentially, Shanahan’s is a steakhouse for the modern era which is probably why it has survived (and thrived) while others have fallen by the wayside in Denver.

To make things a touch more affordable (obviously), we both ate off the restaurant week menu, only adding to it with our drinks (a glass of Pinot Noir for me and a Ketel and tonic for B).

I didn’t get a picture, but we both got the Shanahan’s Salad: iceberg, spinach, and romaine lettuces, English cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, crisp bacon, Champagne herb vinaigrette. It wasn’t bad. The croutons were a bit odd, so I didn’t eat those.

The main course options were a salmon or a filet; we both got the filet. It came with grilled asparagus and roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

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(phone pic; sorry)

The filet was cooked perfectly. The sauce was okay – I didn’t really eat the bleu cheese crumbles. The grilled asparagus was delicious and while the mashed potatoes weren’t mine (that is, the best ever), they were better than those at Prime Bellagio.

Dessert was an espresso chocolate mousse with homemade whipped cream, a raspberry, and raspberry sauce in an edible chocolate cup.

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It was rich, but tasty. We both thought the espresso either needed to be taken out or amped up, as it was barely noticeable. I ate most of my chocolate cup, but it ultimately proved to be too much for me.

All in all, a delicious meal and we’re glad we finally were able to make it to Shanahan’s. The big question obviously becomes, will we go again? The answer: possibly. If we feel like a super fancy schmancy dinner and don’t feel like trying a new place, we would consider going back. Especially because their patio is apparently awesome.

Disneyland Adventure, Part Two

Back with part two of my Disneyland trip. If you missed part one, click here.

Since we figured out the Starbucks situation the previous day, on Tuesday, February 13, we headed to the park early again, thinking it opened at 8am. Nope, it was at nine. Happily, this meant even more time to get B and I coffee (and we ended up getting my sister-in-law a latte as well). Sweet, beautiful caffeine, how I love you.

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Fountain (with rainbow!) in Downtown Disney.

Apparently, the thing to do with Disney California Adventure, is to gate rush the Radiator Springs Racers (do that as your very first FastPass of the day) and then, get another one for later … since if you do it an hour after you ride, your FP will probably be for sometime that afternoon. Yeah. It’s that popular.

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Decor in the line.

We rode this one with Stefan and Amelia; it was a fun, Cars-themed ride (pseudo-coaster). We won, so woo!

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With a cow tractor.

Our next FP wasn’t for a little while, so we split up from my family for a little while and walked around. We did The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure on a whim since there was no wait. The ride was a super loose retelling of the movie and super, super cheesy.

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On Pacific Wharf.

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All dressed up for Lunar New Year.

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We’re both year of the pig/boar.

When they opened up the bridge over to the other side of Paradise Pier, we popped on over. As we were still waiting for the family (we all had FPs together), we popped on King Triton’s Carousel.

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I rode a dolphin.

It’s really funny how much a carousel can make you dizzy … even with the Dramamine. Just made me even more happy I avoided the damn tea cups the day prior.

Our next pass was for Toy Story Midway Mania!, another shooting-type game. We did this with all six of us. My brother got the highest score, then Brandon, then me in a distant, distant third. Jax, our 1.5-year-old, got none. I would have found it hysterical if he had gotten *something*.

B and I split off again to go do some rides on our own. B stopped at a cart for a churro and I hopped into Fiddler, Fifer, and Practical Cafe for a croissant/cinnamon roll hybrid that was DELICIOUS as well as a miniature California Adventure Starbucks mug.

Post-snack, our next FP was ready, so we did Soarin’ Around the World. There’s a huge error in Patrick Warburton’s costume in the mini video they show before getting on … which you probably won’t catch unless you’re really familiar with the aviation industry. Like we are. The ride itself was okay. Apparently it was better when it was Soarin’ Over California. I think it would have been better had the trip around the world made better geographical sense (like let’s *actually* go in the correct order guys).

Since it was kind of cold and therefore had no line, we next hit up Grizzly River Run. It’s one of your generic water splash rides (like Disaster Canyon at local park Elitch Gardens), but I like those. We got sufficiently wet – B moreso than I. I got myself some popcorn while he attempted to dry out. I’m thankful I had an extra pair of socks on me, as he soaked his. He had his wet pair hanging out of his bag to dry out … but they became our second and only park casualty (the other being a hair tie I lost on Space Mountain the previous day).

Our next FP was at Goofy’s Sky School (because why not).

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Getting more flight certs.

It was a tiny, short, fun little coaster.

We were trying to be smarter about eating, so we got soup in breadbowls (me clam chowder and B broccoli cheese) at the Pacific Wharf Cafe. The soups were average, but I love good sourdough and this was some of the best.

Food eaten, we strolled over to Hollywood Land and chilled out in the atrium of Disney Animation for a while, sitting down and chilling out to clips from Disney movies. It was quite glorious.

The official reason for sitting around a while was waiting for my brother and family to wander over. Our next FP was for Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!. Stefan’s wasn’t until a bit later … but he weaseled his way on saying his FP wasn’t working or something. Apparently this was something they did at Disney World a bit … but. Please don’t do this. The guy let him on, but he clearly knew he was gaming the system. Customer service standards dictated that he couldn’t tell my brother to eff off, but I know he wanted to. People, don’t be assholes. Just wait your damn turn.

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The ride itself, the former Tower of Terror, made me very happy for the Dramamine. I will say that had I been more familiar with GotG I may have enjoyed it more.

Stefan went off for chowder and beer after this while his wife and daughter hit up Frozen – Live at the Hyperion … we wanted to do neither so we actually finally utilized our Park Hopper and escaped back over to Disneyland. Our first stop was at B’s favorite, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters … where he proceeded to destroy me. My forearm also cramped up pretty badly (stupid barista arm).

Since it was Mardi Gras, our next stop was back over to New Orleans Square. B got another frozen Mickey bar of death (well. frozen Mickey ice cream sandwich of death to be accurate), which we ate while watching a jazz band. We also got B another character picture.

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With, as he reminded us, Captain Jack Sparrow.

One of the “rides” I missed the day previous that I really wanted to do was the Enchanted Tiki Room, so that was next.

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So cheesy. But why the eff not?

Then back over to New Orleans Square since I knew Dr. Facilier from The Princess and the Frog was wandering around and since it was Mardi Gras, I wanted a picture with a character from the New Orleans-based movie.

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Success.

Because we could – and, well, Indy – we rode Indiana Jones Adventure again too. It didn’t break down which was wonderful *and* B asked if we could ride so I could be up front at the wheel of the car which was totally kind of fun.

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Because I didn’t get a good picture of the sign the day previous.

We split up afterward – I hit up the French Market Restaurant to purchase some beignets for everyone as a Mardi Gras treat while B got in line for the Astro Orbiter. Thankfully I made it over to him right as he got on the ride.

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We did some more Astro Blasters afterward (because why not) where I destroyed B – therefore winning the best-of-three series – and went back to the Market House so I could get a full-sized Disneyland Starbucks mug for my sister-in-law and a mini one for us before heading back over to California Adventure.

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I delivered beignets to the fam, we all walked back to Cars Land. From here, we all split. Nicole took Amelia and Jax to “meet” Lightning McQueen and a few rides, my brother absconded with B for another ride on Radiator Springs Racers … and I peeled off to get some sunset photos.

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Magical sunset in a magical place.

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Got super lucky with a break in the people for this one.

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Cars Land is magical at night.

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B said that if you weren’t familiar with the movie, you could easily think this was taken on the actual Route 66.

We all met up to do Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters. B and I took Amelia while Stefan and Nicole rode with Jax.

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In line, straight out of the movie.

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In line. My brother bought Star Wars ears.

The ride itself was okay. Definitely more fun for smaller kids. B bought a Dinoco shirt at a shop dressed up as the Radiator Springs Curio shop and I took a few more photos on the way to dinner.

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As someone who loves neon, I loved Flo’s at night.

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Nicole made reservations for all of us at Wine Country Trattoria. The pinot noir I had was okay (I think B’s was better). The caprese salad we split was delicious (and photogenic).

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Between the four adults, we ate about half the menu. Nicole had the shrimp fettuccine alfredo (I had a bite of noodle. It was okay), my brother had osso buco (did not try), B got chicken parm (average), and I got the ribeye (because it came with sprouts and mmm, plants)
(not my most favorite meal, but also not the worst I’ve had).

Post-dinner, the park was unfortunately closed (or closing) – 8pm. Shorter hours that day at California Adventure, maybe?

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We popped into the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney on our way out and got me a shirt and a few more ornaments for the tree.

It was a long, exhausting day. As you can see, we fit in a LOT of rides and attractions. The Park Hopper was definitely worth it as it was nice to get out of CA for a little while. It might have possibly been a bit too much time around my brother (I love him, but I don’t always like him) and his cute, but energy-sucking kids (this introvert was dying).

We had a lazy morning on Wednesday, February 14, and we unfortunately weren’t able to do anything together for Valentine’s Day, but we did hit up the beach for a few minutes before B had to drop me back off at the airport.

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Perfect, peaceful way to end the trip.

Disney was fun for my first time back in damn near 30 years. We’re discussing doing Walt Disney World in a year or two. Will I be back to Disneyland? Probably … but I don’t honestly think I need to for at least five years.