[A weekend in Portland for a family reunion]
The rest of the family is spending the week in Bend, OR, (which sounded amazing) but we could only come for a long weekend so we rendezvoused in the city for a few days!
[Gorgeous views of snow-capped mountains on our flight in]
[First stop: a brewery, of course! Breakside Brewery was amazing – awesome building, great indoor/outdoor seating and this blood orange IPA was so delicious]
[Early morning walk for coffee + Trader Joe’s in 59 degree weather – I forgot what that felt like! And it was incredible!!][The downtown food truck scene was so cool. There were so many unique options to choose from! We chose gyros and again, it was amazing][This place has my heart. I could have spent all day in here! I only spent 20 minutes and left with 4 books and a coffee mug, so I can only imagine …]
[10:30am – time for … ice cream? We had been scoping out this popular place and the lines were ridiculously long, so we decided to try it first thing Sunday morning for a little treat. I’m so glad we did because it was definitely some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had and there was no line! Pictured: sea salt with caramel ribbons + coffee][Sunday morning farmer’s market was a hit – splash pad for the kids + delicious food for the adults. Unfortunately this was the only picture I got, but it’s okay because these pupusas were out of this world!! I literally watched the lady hand make them out of this tent. I truly feel like I know what real pupusas are now]
[30th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival on the waterfront – lots of beer and lots of fun!] [Unfortunately this is the only family photo we got while in town and doesn’t even include the whole gang. (Adorable nephew is cut out purposefully, but he was the cutest part!!)]
I’m so thankful we got to spend even just a few days together exploring this city! It was a wonderful weekend getaway with a wonderful family.
You might also enjoy: our last family reunion 5 years ago in Hot Springs
[Monterosso – adorable winding streets with beautiful street art]
[The pictures that follow are from our favorite night of the trip, on Angelo’s Sunset Boat Tour. Boat + guide Sammy pictured above. Seriously, if you are ever here, this is absolutely worth every penny!]
[Boat views of the towns = all the praise hands] [Stopped for tapas in Vernazza – these mussels + anchovies were TDF … and I don’t eat mussels or anchovies!] [And this is right before we saw the dolphins and I cried. But for real, this night was so surreal and felt like a dream.]
[Final night in Cinque Terre – Vernazza Wine Experience with sweeping views that I failed to capture, except for the views of the wine + food]
CINQUE TERRE: We love love loved these adorable coastal towns. This was a very close second behind Siena for our favorite place. We actually stayed in a little town called Levanto (not one of the main touristy towns) and it was wonderful. Less touristy, yet still beachy and charming. We also had some super fun, not pictured, patio nights with Limoncello, Despacito + strange Asian men.
[Piazza at night + another delicious dinner – look at those shrimp!!]
[Peggy Guggenheim Museum was phenomenal. We were so excited to see some Modern art at this point after all the Renaissance art. Love this picture of Husband taking a picture of the water with a Jackson Pollock right behind him!]
[SO much fun on our Venetian Pub Tour – we drank so much wine, went to hole-in-the-wall pubs and learned a lot (that we didn’t totally agree with) from our tour guide] [Day trip to the islands of Burano and Murano were totally worth it. Look how beautiful these colored buildings are! I took the second for my Mom – because I know if she were there, she’d totally be taking an art class like this!]
[Perfect final night in Venice with these beautiful people, and very fitting my last meal would be with more TRUFFLE!]
[We loved the bar across from our hotel! We made it a habit to end there every night. They played American Pop hits and served the “best” pina coladas + the best prosecco.]
VENICE: I had a love/hate relationship with Venice. I’m so glad we went, because it is so unique and incredible that there are no cars and the only transportation is by water taxi. (We even got to the airport by water taxi – how cool is that!) However, I’m not sure I’d go back – it was expensive, pigeons were everywhere, and I got eaten alive by mosquitos.
Hope you enjoyed re-living our trip through photos! I certainly did! Now, who’s ready to go back!?
R O M E
[Trevi Fountain, Pantheon and a lot of walking around cute streets]
[Stumbled upon the famous Giolitti … so of course we had to have gelato, round 2. Successful first day in Italy!]
[Lunch stop pre-Vatican: Bonci Pizzarium – highly recommend this place. Tons of unique pizzas to choose from by the slice!]
[Pictures of the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica don’t even do it justice – wow! Unfortunately couldn’t take pictures of the Sistine Chapel, but it was breathtaking – if only there weren’t so many sweaty people crammed into one place!]
[This wine + cheese pairing class was seriously the best – definitely our highlight of Rome. We learned a lot, drank some unique wines, ate some amazing cheeses and even got to see the thousand year old wine cellar, and Handi the sommelier was incredible! If you’re going to Rome you must make time for Vino Roma.]
[Final night in Rome: somehow found Husband’s dad and stepmom at the Spanish Steps, ate some delicious cacio e pepe and went to the best pub in the world (not really … but we did get this awesome picture from a stranger, ha!)]
ROME: we actually really enjoyed this city! For some reason, none of us had very high expectations, but we were all pleasantly surprised. It was very walkable, fun, safe and great food. There is so much history here that we did not get the time to really explore so I could definitely go back.
T U S C A N Y
Our home base was Siena, which we ADORED, then we traveled around a bit from there.
[The best pizza I’ve ever had – everything was so incredibly fresh, including the burrata on top. Il Pomodorino was one of our favorite spots with the best views. We actually ate there twice!]
[Our favorite meal of the entire trip! This place was so amazing and romantic. My risotto with FRESHLY GRATED truffles was literally the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life. Truly a remarkable evening.]
Day trip to Florence
[Very cool market we stopped in for breakfast – bottom floor was fresh meats, cheeses, veggies and fruits like a farmer’s market; top floor was cafes and restaurants – this cappucino and ham + brie croissant was delicious.]
[David, David, David, you truly are a masterpiece. I cannot get over how surreal and amazing it was to see this work of art. I’m so glad we went to Florence if only for this!][And this! Birth of Venus by Botticelli was amazing.]
[Uffizi gallery with these views was fantastic – though by the end of the day, we were so ready to get back home to Siena …][and we did eventually make it home, but with a crazy story to tell (best told in person). This was us cheers-ing to Josh making it back alive.]
FLORENCE: in full transparency, we really did not like Florence very much. It was crazy packed with tourists everywhere you turned. Maybe we didn’t go to the right places and should have spent more than a day and done more than just the touristy things, but we were not impressed. (Except for David!)
Wine tour to Montalcino + surrounding wineries [Montalcino was an adorable little town! We only got 30 minutes in town before heading to the wineries, but could have spent several hours wandering around. Of course, even in those 30 minutes husband found a pair of leather shoes to buy!]
[Second stop had the best views by far and incredible lunch + wine in a gorgeous home. I could seriously move there tomorrow!]
[Final stop was definitely the most unique and produced our favorite (albeit most expensive) wine – this winery is super modern, entirely biodynamic, and started by the very wealthy brother of Illy coffee (who we happened to see leaving for holiday in his Porsche while we were there)][Finally back home at Hotel La Villa for our final night in Siena – we did not want to leave!]
SIENA: hands down our favorite city. We seriously discussed finding a property to turn into an AirBnB so we could go visit whenever we want. It was charming and beautiful and just felt magical. I could spend so much more time here, using Siena as a home base then traveling to differing wineries and small towns nearby.
Hopefully you enjoyed the first round of pictures! This was only a tiny taste of what we saw, did, ate and drank.
Watch for Part 2 (Cinque Terre + Venice) in the next week!
- Never, ever, ever, hold a wine glass by the top, only by the stem. Or get seriously called out by a sommelier.
- Italians only drink with food. They don’t go out for a drink at happy hour without something to snack on, and they certainly don’t just sit on their couch binge-watching tv shows with wine. Hmm…..
- Ciao is hello, not goodbye. Americans incorrectly turned it into goodbye. (According to our very opinionated bar tour host)
- Under no circumstances should you get off of a train, unless you want to stay off of that train. Not to smoke a cigarette, and certainly not to get a taxi.
- I CAN get sick of pasta + pizza. (Actually surprising) But I can NOT get sick of good wine. (Not really that surprising.)
- And I DO like seafood when it’s extra fresh – like mussels and scampi and anchovies and scallops and swordfish
- Spontaneous tears of joy are a real thing.
- A meal or even just a cappuccino is not something to be rushed through or as “take-away”, but to be enjoyed leisurely. The 3-hour dinner was a common and wonderful occurrence.
- Air conditioning is non-negotiable. Especially when you’re walking 10 miles/day in 90+ degree humid heat.
- Travel can make or break a friendship. Luckily, ours was the former and only made us even closer.
Picturebook posts of our amazing Italian vacation to come soon!
S A T U R D A Y
[a beautiful day for margaritas, guac + tacos at The Fold]
[and for sunning with a few beers at Rebel Kettle Brewing]
[wedding time! gorgeous wedding for cousin Olivia + Sam at Trapnall Hall]
[love my handsome dates!]
[and the southern food was ridiculously on point – fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, crawfish + mashed potatoes and a mini mason jar layered with collard greens, beans + corn bread]
[the only pic with the bride + other cousin Blair at the end of the night, which reminded me of another pic 10 years earlier …]
S U N D A Y B R U N C H
Before we headed home, we had one more stop – brunch + beer.
Y’all. Lost Forty Brunch was the best brunch we have ever had in our entire lives. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible every single thing was. I’ll let the pictures do the talking, and let you do the drooling.
[our brunch “appetizer” – fried green tomatoes (yes, again) with jalapeño pimento cheese + skillet cinnamon roll. I’m not a huge cinnamon roll fan, but this was out of this world]
[my dish – biscuits + gravy, which again, were the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had. next time I will get a dozen of these biscuits and bring them home with me]
[husband’s dish – a skillet with all kinds of delicious goodness inside]
[WE LOVE YOU LOST FORTY! and yes, of course we got a growler to take home]
[N Y C]
B R O W N ‘ S B A G E L S
Bagel is obviously a must in the city. I only got one, but could have eaten here every day. It was a cute little bakery with amazing coffee.
M A S S O N I
at Arlo Nomad
Unfortunately I started feeling sick about halfway through the trip – cold, allergies, probably both – so one night I grabbed a pizza in the restaurant in my hotel and ate it in bed. How could you not, with these views?? The pizza was not traditional thin crust new york pizza, but it was incredible – pepperoni, jalapeños and honey. Wowww.
L E V A I N B A K E R Y
E A T A L Y
A I R P O R T F O O D
Yes, you read that right – airport food. This was basically cheese toast with prosciutto and arugula on top. Did I mention I was stuck in the airport for 7 hours? I should have ordered another one, because this is some of the best airport food I’ve ever had.
[H O U S T O N]
G U R U B U R G E R S + C R E P E S
N I N F A ‘ S
Okay if you’re ever in Houston this is the MUST-GO place. It is super authentic and absolutely delicious. You see (and smell) them making the tortillas as you walk in. I got Tacos Al Pastor with fresh grilled pineapple and it was the best thing ever.
T O R C H Y ‘ S T A C O S
Does this look familiar from my Austin Food Picturebook? Ha – Torchy’s is officially a favorite! This time I got the Trailer Park “trashy” again and tried The Independent loaded with veggies. Both were amazing as usual, and so was the queso, as usual. Who can I petition to get a Torchy’s in NWA?!
Introducing a new blog series – Food Picturebook. Because I love traveling, I love food, and I love taking pictures of food.
You can see the first food picturebook here when I went to LA a few months ago and ate amaaazing food, and I knew Austin would be just as amazing, if not better. And it was. And I may have a few extra pounds to show for it.
Enjoy the photos, try not to drool and add these restaurants to your must-eat list!
P E R L A ‘ S
To be honest, at first I was a little disappointed that my first meal in Austin was not BBQ or Tacos, but the second I tasted this Shrimp & Grits it was all over. It was some of the best I’ve ever had – and that’s saying something because I’ve had a lot of amazing Shrimp & Grits! It had a cajun kick to it that made it just a little more special than usual and absolutely amazing. Isn’t it also pretty??
T O R C H Y ‘ S T A C O S
This place was exactly like the picture says – DAMN GOOD. This was a quick-serve restaurant, but still had way better tacos than any restaurant we have in NWA. I got The Democrat and The Trailer Park “trashy” – the latter was my favorite of the two. That’s a fried chicken strip in there! Also a must-get is the queso and quac. I can’t wait to go back and try more of the taco’s. And get more queso.
A B O Y O U S S E F
We know Austin is known for their food trucks, but this one seemed a little too authentic at first and was in a random part of town. But, I had heard great reviews from a friend and everyone on Yelp so I decided to try something different. The grilled chicken, rice, tabbouleh and hummus was incredible – perfectly authentic. Definitely not what I expected from Austin, but I’m glad I tried it!
B U R R O
Food truck #2 was a huge success. How can you go wrong with a grilled cheese truck? Specifically when you order the mac and cheese grilled cheese?? This picture does not do it justice at all, but it was so freaking delicious I can even still taste it …
C O O P E R ‘ S B B Q
So this BBQ joint was actually not on the original list of recommendations we received, but, as we checked several of them out (Franklin’s has an 8+ hour wait, Salt Like was a bit of a drive out of town) we needed something different. Luckily, our “Uber” driver gave us this recommendation, and after validating it with a local friend, it was decided. The patio was amazing and the food was just as incredible as I anticipated. Pictured: Brisket, Beef Rib and Jalapeño Mac and Cheese. I may or may not have eaten my cold leftovers before boarding the plane the next morning ….
What’s your favorite restaurant in Austin? I’m already planning my next trip – all about the food!