Iceland 2018 Day 2-The Golden Circle & Snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier

Day 2 began with snowmobiling on the “long” glacier. We were the first to travel on the 3 feet of snow that fell over the previous 24-hours. The black “stuff” is from the volcanic eruption in 2010. Very cool experience!  Our guide operator was Mountaineers of Iceland

The second stop of the day was the Gullfoss Waterfall. 32 meters (104) feet in two separate waterfalls.  A pathway takes you right to the water’s edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous power of the falls.

The next stop was the Geysir geothermal area. The famous Geysir is not too active, but amongst the many hot pools and steaming vents, you’ll see Strokkur blast water 20 to 40 m (66 to 131 ft) high every few minutes.  We stopped to admire the show of boiling water that is spilled out of under the earth’s crust at regular intervals; there are several geysers in the same area and in some you can stop to see the bubbling water as in a pot.

Just off the Golden Circle lies Faxafoss, a waterfall that is often forgotten among all of Iceland’s scenic offerings. With less tourists then nearby Gullfoss, this pitstop was well worth the turn off. On the grounds there is both a restaurant and campground (which are open during the summer months), meaning Faxafoss would be one of your best options to spend the evening.

 

Our fourth stop for the day was to Kerid Crater.  This 6,500-year-old crater is a stunning sight; 270 metres (886 ft) long and 170 metres (558 ft) wide, with a permanent pool of water filling the bottom of the red-rocked caldera, it can be approached without constraint after paying the landowners a small fee of 400 ISK. Its formation came from an enormous eruption in which the once cone-shaped volcano emptied its magma chamber; the structural weakness this caused meant the peak collapsed in on itself, leaving behind a wonder for all to enjoy. For those visiting Hveragerði, Selfoss or travelling the Golden Circle, it is highly recommended to amend one’s route to include a stop at Kerið; such a unique and beautiful sight is rare

 

We then headed south to find our accommodations for the night in the Hvolsvöllur area. Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.  This was a wonderful hotel and as it turned out the best place for us to see the Norther Lights.  We had a wonderful dinner where we experimented with some local fare.

The Northern Lights were pretty amazing.  We were thrilled to see them so early into our trip.

 

12 Days In Iceland-Along the Ring Road

Steve and I spent twelve days in Iceland celebrating our 30th wedding Anniversary driving the entire Ring Road.  Upon arrival we went straight to Thingvellir or Pingvellir National Park.  This incredible location is in the rift valley between two continental plates; you can walk between Europe and North America here. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history; in 930 AD, early settlers founded what would become the world’s longest-running, ongoing representative parliament here.

We walked the path to the Öxarárfoss waterfall in the park, which is not one of the most spectacular but of its location is magical.   It falls into the American part of the Earth’s crust and it is surrounded by lava stones.

This was an incredible location between two continental plates, Europe and North America. It’s also where some of the Game of Thrones is filmed.

We then headed into Reykjavik to check into our hotel and to explore the city.   Here are some of the highlights.  We visited Hallgrimskirka Church with the statue of Leif Eriksson at the entrance. This is the largest church in the country, and towers over the center of Reykjavík. Its 73-metre-high tower provides a wonderful 360° view over all Reykjavík, the mountains around and the ocean stretching west to Greenland and the Americas.  We paused outside to admire the Alexander Calder-made statue of Leif Eriksson; the Icelandic explorer “discovered” North America 500 years before Christopher Columbus.  

We loved the beautiful buildings around town as we walked to City Hall to meet our travel agent Guide To Iceland.  This statue below was just outside city hall but be sure to duck your head inside to check out any temporary exhibits, and to orient yourself with the massive 3-D map of Iceland.

We walked on to The Harpa, home of Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and quite arguably one of  the most beautiful buildings in Reykjavik.

Then we strolled down the waterfront to see The Sun Voyager.  This is another fine example of the amazing art and architecture scene in Reykjavik.  It is an ode to the sun, and it’s supposed to represent the desire to explore undiscovered territory.  It was a beautiful as I had imaged.  

Our hotel was located on Laugavegur is the street where it all happens. From trendy cafes, unique shops and cozy bars to world-class street-art murals and smaller, intimate art galleries, Laugavegur encapsulates the Icelandic spirit: calm, quirky, artsy and simply spectacular; you can find anything and everything here.  We ended the night early with a local beer and chips at Reykjavik Chips!

Travel Journal-Florida, Coast To Coast in 24 Hours

I had a work related trip to Ft. Lauderdale planned for Monday and Tuesday this week so I decided to take the opportunity to make it a long weekend and spend some time at our second home on Marco Island.  We arrived on Friday and spent the weekend with friends, drinking great wine, taking in some beautiful sunsets and doing a little sea kayaking.  We had a great time but most important it was restorative and relaxing.  On Monday I drove over to the east coast for a financial conference.  We stayed at the W right on Ft. Lauderdale beach.  Nice hotel but a little too cool and trendy for me.  On Monday night we had a craving for Cuban food, so we choose an authentic restrauent located just ten minutes from the hotel, named Padrino’s.  They have several locations along the eastern coast of Florida.   The atmosphere was pleasant, clean and a little cozy.  I’ve included the link here.  http://padrinos.com

We ordered a few cocktails before dinner. We each choose a mojito, which might just be the perfect cocktail. With mint, simple syrup and white rum it’s always refreshing and tonight did not disappoint.  In fact, I had two!  Dinner started with a few appetizers.  We had picadillo empanadas, which included puffed pastry with seasoned ground beef and fresh guava chutney.  We also had mariquitas, which were crispy plantain chips served with garlic sauce.  Both were very tasty but I LOVED the plantain chips!

IMG_5926

For my entree I had churraco, a char-grilled skirt steak with homemade chimicurri sauce.  It was served with black beans, white rice and sweet plantains.  Yummy.  I ordered my steak medium and it was cooked perfectly.  I eat every bite.

IMG_5928

I got up early Tuesday morning to go for a walk and catch the sunrise.  It was a cool, windy day at the beach but nice weather for a brisk walk.  I walked along the beach for about a mile and took in the sunrise.  It was a little cloudy but still so pretty.

IMG_5929

I also snapped a photo of this iconic landmark along Ft. Lauderdale beach.

IMG_5933

After the conference I headed back to Marco Island where my husband and I grabbed a quick dinner at new restaurant on the island, just two months since their opening, Thai Sushi.  We dined in and I had the vegetable role pictured here.  It was really tasty and the service was terrific.  We will defiantly make this a regular stop on our trips back to Marco.  They are so new they don’t have a website.

IMG_5936
We then went to the beach to catch the sunset.  Still a little cloudy and chilly on the west coast, but still a beautiful evening.

IMG_5940

IMG_5937

We then spent a few hours in the pool for one last swim.  Back to chilly, gray Cincinnati tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Travel Journal-A quick trip to New York City

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I travel a ton for work.  This week I’m in NYC for a quick one-day trip.  We are staying at the Times Square Renaissance Hotel.  The location is great if you are here as a tourist.  You can’t beat the proximity to Times Square, Broadway, central park and the Empire State Building.  For a business trip, it is far too busy and loud and the hotel was just ok.  The decor was old and the hotel was VERY worn and my room was pretty filthy.   I was very disappointed in our accommodations.  Here is the info on the hotel. https://renaissance-hotels.marriott.com/renaissance-new-york-times-square-hotel

Here is a pic from my very dirty window.

IMG_5899-1

We did have a fabulous dinner at an Indian restaurant near the hotel named Utsavny, located at 1185 Avenue of the Americas (PLAZA), New York, NY 10036 (Enter on 46th St. between 6th & 7th Avenues).  http://www.utsavny.com.   We decided to have a couple of appetizers including Samosa, which is masala potato, green peas, cashew nut and tamarind sauce.

IMG_5902

We also had Lasuni Gobi, which is crispy cauliflower, Sirach garlic sauce.  This dish was wonderful and probably my favorite of the evening.

IMG_5903

For our entrée we had butter chicken, saag paneer, Chana masala, naan, and rice.  The naan and rice were perfect, and butter chicken and chana masala were amazing.  I didn’t really care for saag paneer, it lacked flavor and was a thick and pasty.  We decided to have beer with dinner, which was a great choice.  We had the Taj Mahal lager.  It was so smooth and tasty.

IMG_5901

By far the highlight of my trip was dinner.  I highly recommend Utsavny if you are in town and happen to be staying near Times Square.

 

 

Travel Journal-First Trip of 2018-Boston

I do a lot of traveling for work.  I get the chance to visit some pretty great cities, like New York City, San Fransisco and LA.  This week I had the pleasure of visiting Boston.  I love this city, the history, the food scene, brewery’s and places like Quincy Market.  I just don’t love visiting in January.  Burr…

On our first night in Boston we had dinner at the Townsman.  The Townsman is a brasserie-inspired, New England restaurant, located on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Downtown Boston. Townsman continues the hallmark food ethos of Chefs Matt and Kate Jennings – sourcing pristine ingredients from the surrounding area with menus reflective of sustainability and seasonality, celebrating the Northeast growing region and waters. Townsman is lively and convivial with a refined sensibility and a welcoming atmosphere, reminiscent of your favorite neighborhood haunt.  Check them out here; http://townsmanboston.com

 

We started with the New England charcuterie and an assortment of New England cheeses.  The presentation was appealing to the eyes and the meat and cheeses were delicious.  I particularly loved the marinated pickles, peppers and cranberries.  The cranberries added a pop of color to the platter and were amazingly sweet and delicious.  

For my entree I had the broiled monkfish with creamed spinach, parsley root and crispy autumn vegetables.  The crispy vegetables were so good and the monkfish was perfectly cooked.  

 

We stated at the Loews Boston Hotel.  I’ve provided the link here: https://www.loewshotels.com/boston-hotel. It was a great hotel, a nice bar, quite rooms and walking distance to some great restaurants.  It was a short but tasty trip to Boston.  I’m sure I’ll be back in the next twelve months when I plan on trying some of Boston’s craft beer and of course eating my way through some of their amazing farm-to-table restaurants.  

 

Welcome to 2018

I have a feeling 2018 will be an awesome year.  For me I’m determined it will be a year of  personal growth, love, and adventure.  I like to start the year with family.  This year in Cincinnati it is FREEZING cold.  The temperature this morning was -3.  We started the day with a beautiful brunch at my daughters house.  Spending time with our granddaughter is this best!

IMG_0036

For dinner we celebrate each New Years Day with a traditional meal of pork, sauerkraut and potatoes.  Pork and sauerkraut is believed to bring good luck and good fortune in the months ahead….part superstition and part tradition, eating pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day is like a Pennsylvania Dutch-style insurance policy for the new year. It is believed to bring good luck and good fortune in the year ahead. We are surrounded ourselves with family and friends, celebrating with love, laughter and good food.

IMG_5803

Hears to a happy, prosperous and loving 2018!

 

 

An evening out… February

I just spent last night with my oldest daughter and sister for a night on the town dining and seeing the broadway play, Anything Goes.

IMG_4583

Before the play we tried another new restaurants in Over The Rhine neighborhood of Cincinnati. We headed to The Mercer. The Mercer is an American/European style bistro. It is a swanky eatery with a sleek Euro vibe. The wine list was extensive and we each enjoyed a by-the-glass selection. I loved the cote du rhone selection. We decided to share our meal selections and began with the ricotta, onion compote with grilled bread. Yum! We then moved to the starters menu and enjoyed the pork belly with jalapeno cheddar grits, with cabbage and apples. The pork melted in my mouth and the jalapeno cheddar grits paired beautifully with the sweet apples and earthy cabbage. We then move to the salad selections where we choose the beets with goat cheese with arugula and apple mostarda and a wild bitter greens salad with pearl onions and lardon egg. The beet salad was the best. Beets were cooked perfectly and the dressing was a perfect balance with the sweet beets. The bitter greens were ok. They lack a bit of seasoning.

The entrees we selected were quite good. We enjoyed mezza rigatoni which included rapini, wild mushrooms and vegetable brodo as well as risotto, pork belly, green onions and truffle and blueberries. For desserts we enjoyed chocolate and strawberries along with the tiramisu. Both were to die for!

IMG_4581

IMG_4582

If you would like to check out the menu for yourself, click on the link below.

www.themercerotr.com

We enjoyed the play and our evening out. Can’t wait until next month when we see the Lion King.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Grande Vino

Spending some time at our home on Marco Island, Florida, I found a great pinot noir. Foodies was created for culinary-minded wine lover seeking delicious, balanced wines to complement any number of inspired dishes. According to the label, Foodies California pinot noir is a medium-bodied wine loaded with black cherry and raspberry flavors. Best served with lamb or pork chops. I enjoyed this wine on our lanai as an evening nightcap. Hope you enjoy as much a I did.

IMG_4543

An evening out…

My youngest daughter and I had a night out last week with dinner and a play.  I am a season ticket subscriber to Broadway Across America Cincinnati.

Each month I have dinner prior to play and have really made an effort to explore the restaurant scene in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine (OTR).  It has been fun exploring the food in OTR.  My daughter and I decided to try Quan Hapa, an Asian fusion joint, with a really cool vibe.  We were pretty excited to try this place and explore the culinary offerings.  We ordered the Hapa Ramen (Tonkotsu style) and the chicken Banh Mi.  The ramen included homemade noodles, poached egg, pork belly, green onions, sunflower shoots, shiso and burnt garlic chili oil.  The chicken dish included adobo sauce, broccoli rabe and pickled cucumbers. Unfortunately, we were really disappointed with the dishes.  The chicken dish was bland ( not what I was expecting with an adobo sauce) and the ramen were just so so.  We didn’t even finish half of either dish. Maybe it was a bad night for the chef.  Here is the link in case you want to check it out for yourself.

http://www.quanhapa.com/

We were still hungry leaving Quan Hapa, so much so we decided to grab a donut at Holtmans Donuts. http://www.holtmansdonutshop.com/  These are by far the best donuts in Cincinnati.  Very cool place with a warm inviting atmosphere.  A must-try if you are visiting downtown.

After a quick carryout at Holtmans we headed over to the Senate.  Senate is a trendy American restaurant in the heart of OTR.  They serve gourmet hot dogs with creative toppings and feature local beers.  We loved it!  We started with a crispy potsticker made with housemade ginger-pork, sweet chili, miso cream cheese and sesame seeds.  It was fantastic.

IMG_4548

We then moved on to the star of the show, the gourmet hot dog. We ordered the “Trailer Park” which consists of bacon wrapped beef hotdog, american cheese, coleslaw, crushed grippos on a brioche bun.

IMG_4547

Very yummy. Overall, I would recommend Senate. The menu is interesting, the service was great and the place was hip. Here is the link to check it out for yourself.  http://senatepub.com/

After the Senate, it was off to the play. We saw Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Wonderful show and evening with my girl.

IMG_4542_2

Hiking in 2015

One of my new years resolutions is to do more hiking.  I have always loved to hike and have gotten away from it over the years.  I rounded up a group of friends and we went for a three-mile hike at Miami Whitewater Forest.  It was pretty cold here in Cincinnati that day but very sunny.  We really enjoyed our time on the trail.  So much so we collectively decided to do a hike-a-month this year.  We are busy planning next months hike already. IMG_4524

 

 

What a great way to start the year with wonderful friends. The remainder of the day was spent with family. Cooking and celebrating the new year. Each and every year I make pork, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes on new years day. Growing up my mom made this meal quite often and for sure on every January 1st. My understanding is it is good luck to eat pork and sauerkraut to begin the new year. The symbolism and story of these foods lucky nature are as follows; green cabbage(life) and pork/ham (pigs root forward as they eat, embracing challenges). I have kept this tradition alive in our family, so we enjoyed the meal below.

 

IMG_4526

2015 is off to a great start!