Category Archives: Jet-Setter

New York, New York!!

After seven years I finally made it back to New York City.   I went with my sister right after graduating from high school and just before starting college.   The city definitely felt different this time around.  I saw a few things that I missed last time.  The funny thing about New York to me is everywhere you turn you can think of some pop culture reference.   There has to be a stat somewhere of how many movies are set in New York! Overall it was a great trip and now that I am only a few hours away I hope to make the trip again.  Here are a few things I loved!  We only spent a day there so we tried to see as much as possible in a little time.

Holland Tunnel headed into Manhattan!

First views of Manhattan on the drive in!

We stayed in the Wall Street District primarily because we found a reasonably priced hotel that wasn’t a roach motel.  On our search for authentic New York pizza we discovered this area called Stone Street.  Loved this area!  We found a pizza shop there, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar.  For some reason the name had that strike through out, I didn’t ask why.   It was not the New York style pizza that we were craving but it was sooo good! Best food I had the entire trip.

 Stone Street in Wall Street District!

Our pizza from Adrienne’s Pizza Bar.

I made it up to the top of the Empire State building this time around.  It something I guess everyone should do but I can’t say that it was worth it!  Then I thought back to Sleepless and Seattle, the movie where Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks meet on top of the Empire State Building and felt deceived!  Maybe it was different in the 90’s but that movie had me believing that the top of the Empire State Building was huge! Not at all, it’s a very tight space and you have to fight through a crowd to get a view without someone’s head in front of you!  Here are a few pics I took from the rooftop.  I refused to pay the extra twenty bucks or so for the recording to tell me what I was seeing so I have no idea what boroughs are in these pictures.  It was nice to see it from that viewpoint though.

Inside the Empire State Building.

Photo from the top.

View from the top.

Last time I went I spent the entire trip shopping with my sister and missed out on some of the popular tourist spots including Central Park.  It really is an amazing addition to city life.  If I ever moved to New York (which probably won’t happen) I would love to live near the park.  We didn’t go to far into the park, because it is huge but I did find a few areas that looked like they were included in episodes of Law and Order SVU. They are always finding victims in Central Park! If I went at night I probably would have been scared!

Central Park

This was the area that I think is right out of a SVU episode!

That night we ventured into Greenwich Village.  I really liked that area.  It has to be cool for the NYU students who live there.  Some aspects made it clear that there was a large University near by.  Maybe that is why I liked it! I spent way too much time living in a college town.  We went to a restaurant called Cuba in that area.  I didn’t love the food but I tried Sangria for the first time and loved it! The atmosphere was great and to top it off, they gave you a cigar on your way out.  I took it for a souvenir and I will never smoke it!

Cigar roller in the restaurant

Oh and of course we went to Times Square. Can’t say I really liked that area.  It’s really commercial and franchise restaurants everywhere.  The one highlight was seeing the New Year’s Ball! I did not know that the ball stayed there throughout the year.

Time Square and the New Years Ball!

Overall it was a great trip and I can’t wait to go back.  Next time will probably be a shopping trip!  Here are a few more pictures.

We wondered into a bar, Fraunces Tavern, which turned out to be the oldest building in Manhattan!

Madison Square Garden

Macys! Every time I see the NY Macy’s it makes me think of Miracle on 34th Street. Hopefully I will be able to visit NY during the Christmas season.

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Cupcake Travels II

During a stroll down King Street in Alexandria, Virginia I came across two cupcakeries!. Can I just start off by saying that I love Alexandria. Such a beautiful historic area!  I would try to live there if a decent townhouse did not cost one million plus.  During our trip we came across two bakeries that specialized in cupcakes.  Being the budding food critic that I am I had to try both.  This time I remembered to take pictures of the cupcakes and next time I’ll remember to take pictures of the shop! It’s a slow process.  Here is my take on the two shops I visited.

Lavender Moon Cupcakery

When I walked in I was immediately impressed with the store and the look of the cupcakes.  They at least looked appetizing and like some others that I have enjoyed. The store had a very relaxed feel to it, as if you were going to a friend’s house rather than a bakery.  The cupcakes are displayed on what looks like old cake plates rather than fancy displays. In keeping with that the cupcakes were not labeled.  That can be annoying but the staff was very friendly and helpful in describing each cupcake.

My sister and I each picked up a white on white cupcake… yes we are plain I know.  My first reaction to the cake was, when did it become the thing to just plop cream cheese on top of a cupcake! Aren’t you supposed to add a little vanilla and sugar to the cream cheese first?  My palette could almost accept the tanginess of the cream cheese if it was in contrast to a very sweet and moist cake but the cake was bland and extremely dry!   I have had sweeter cornbread than this cake.  As I’ve said before some people may enjoy this type of cake but I am not a fan of dry cake and cream cheese is not icing.

Lavender Moon Cupcake (that cream cheese looks good and deceptive doesn’t it!)

Alexandria Cupcakes

This bakery has a better location but failed in the taste category as well.  The shop was nice,  a little more upscale than Lavender Moon and on the main street.   Lavender Moon and Alexandria Cupcakes are only a few blocks away from each other and I think they shared their cream cheese icing recipe. It’s a cupcake not a bagel!  I picked up a red velvet cupcake and a vanilla cupcake from Alexandria Cupcakes. The red velvet cake itself was decent but as I said before I’m not a fan of plain cream cheese masquerading as icing so I could not eat it.  The white cake was dry and not good but I did enjoy the icing that came with it.  So one cake had bad icing and the other had bad cake.  If they switch those things up maybe I will go back.

White cake with white icing and red velvet from Alexandria Cupcakes.

Red Velvet… once again deceived by the cream cheese!

So in the end I am zero for three when it comes to finding a cupcake place in the DC area! Up next are Georgetown Cupcakes and the Red Velvet Cupcakery. I’ll definitely post my opinions on those as well.

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Cupcake Travels

A recent fad that has taken off across the country is cupcake bakeries.  I love cake, so the cupcake business model immediately caught a fan with me! For the last few years when ever I travel I try to find a highly rated cupcake place to try in the city.  As cupcakes have become more and more popular it seems every city I visit has several bakeries that specialize in cupcakes!  Listed below are my thoughts on a few that I have visited across the country.  As I continue my cupcake travels I will be sure to add additional posts. Enjoy!

Houston- Crave Cupcakes

I have to give credit to Crave Cupcakes in Uptown Park! They started my cupcake addiction! I love that it’s located conveniently in my favorite area of my hometown the galleria! They have a really cute shop and always have great service.  I also like the open concept they have inside of the shop so you can see back to the kitchen where staff is busy baking and icing cupcakes. Crave has good variety of flavors, including my favorite red velvet!  They even have little decorations to add to the cupcakes like a cowboy hat and the state of Texas.  Texans go crazy for that type of stuff.  Their cupcakes are decent although I have heard there are several other cupcake places in Houston that I should try.  I will admit I have had better cupcakes (more on that later) but Crave holds a special place in my heart!

Crave Store in Houston, TX

Kansas City- Cupcake A La Mode

I came across Cupcake ala mode by accident. I was working at the Jackson county court house and an attorney was introducing himself to the courthouse staff with cupcakes.  They were SO good, so I quickly googled the location and stopped by there later!  On one of my many visits the person working said they prepare the cakes fresh every morning. You can definitely tell the difference.  The cakes are always moist and soft just the way I like them! They have a variety of flavors, some on the “gourmet” side but my favorites are the basic ones! White cake with white icing, you can never go wrong with that and chocolate with white icing. Boring I know but they are so good I have a hard time veering from the safe choices to try something different.  Whenever I drag braver family members and friends to Cupcake a la mode, they rave about the other flavors such as “love doctor” which includes a strawberry on top or “peanut butter kiss”. These are hands down some of my favorite cupcakes EVER! My only complaint is that the location is a little hard to get too. It’s past the popular plaza area in KC.  I imagine as they continue to gain in popularity they will have another location in a more visible area.   As with Houston I have heard there are several other places in KC with great cupcakes but I cannot imagine them getting any better than Cupcake a la mode!

A la mode’s chocolate cupcakes, including my favorite, third on the bottom!

St. Louis- The Cup (formerly the Cupcakery)

Since KC is my second hometown I usually do not have anything positive to say about their across state rival St. Louis but I will give credit when it is due!  Like Kansas City, St. Louis also has a great cupcake shop!  After hearing good reviews about the shop from various people I stopped by on one of my trips to St. Louis.  I was really impressed.  It is in a great location, right in the heart of the Central West End area in St. Louis.   Their menu is pretty simple compared to other shops I have been too but since I generally keep it simple I do not mind!  I have only had the confetti, white cake and white icing, really good. Another plus to the cup is they give you more bang for your buck.  All these cupcake places love to charge around $3 bucks for a cupcake but they all range in size!  The cup gives you a really good cupcake that is a great size for the price.  Overall I enjoy stopping there when I visit St. Louis.

CONFETTI

My favorite cupcake for the Cup, confetti! (photo from the cup website)

District of Columbia- Cake Love

When my family moved to the DC area recently I was on a mission to find a cupcake place in the area.  I googled and found Cake Love.  I could relate to the founders story, which made this store stick in my mind.  An attorney who left the practice of law to start a cupcake shop! I could honestly see myself doing that in the future.  The ratings and reviews were also good so I went expecting great cupcakes as I have had in other cities.

Hands down the WORST cupcakes I have ever had! I cannot even tell you what I had; all I know is that I did not finish it! They have several locations in the DC area so we stopped by the location in National Harbor.  It seemed like a slow day for the store and it did not seem like the items on display were freshly baked.  It is possible that I would have enjoyed the cupcakes if they were fresh or made that morning but I will never know! After that bad experience I will not be returning.

I have not tried Georgetown cupcakes yet. Their shop is featured on a realty show, DC cupcakes.  My mother and sister say they were really good but during my next visit I may brave the crowds and give them a try and then blog about it of course!

Orlando- Sweet By Good Golly Miss Holly

On my recent trip to Florida we googled and found this shop in the Orlando area.  This shop had a different concept then all of the other shops I have been too.  For one they offered yogurt in the same flavors as the cake.  The yogurt actually seemed more popular than the cupcakes.   Another great idea was offering mini cupcakes!  Basically you could four mini cupcakes for a reasonable price. What I enjoyed most about this was that it allowed me to try different flavors. With the standard sizes you only can really afford to try one flavor per visit but here I was able to try my standard white cake/vanilla and my other favorite red velvet.  They had a lot of options, which made the mini cupcake concept even better. Overall I liked Sweet in Orlando. I would go again if I vacationed in Orlando again.

Boston- Sweet (Harvard Square)

While at a conference in the Boston/Cambridge area we stopped by a cupcake place in Harvard Square.  Let me just say if it is not enough that Harvard students attend the best University in the country they also have a huge shopping and dining area called Harvard Square which includes their own cupcake shop! We stopped by to pick up souvenirs from the Harvard bookstore and ran into the cupcake shop Sweet. As you can tell, location is a big deal to me and I really did enjoy their location in Harvard Square.  For tourists it is really convenient. The shop also had a nice look and they offered nice to go boxes.  I do not think the size corresponded well with the prize, they were significantly smaller than others I have had before. I really did not enjoy the cupcakes from the shop though. Others in my group said they were the best they ever had.  Since our group was split I guess they are worth trying.  Everyone has his or her own ideas on what makes a good cake.

Picture from my trip to Sweet!

My friend Ryan posing at Sweet. Great shot of the shop.

I look forward to finding new cupcake places in the United States as I continue to travel.  I really hope this is not just a fad but something that is here to stay!   First on the list, as I mentioned before is Georgetown cupcakes in DC.  I also need to stop by one of the many Sprinkle’s locations.  They claim to be the world’s first cupcake bakery and I hope they do not disappoint.  Last by not least, I hope to travel back to New York City soon and visit the bakery made famous by Sex and the City Magnolia Bakery.  Also thanks to my friend who is always named Erika who gave me the inspiration to write about one of my favorite things CUPCAKES!

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I’m in Miami….

I met one of my favorite Reality TV stars and creators while in Miami last week, Shaunie from basketball wives! So we started the day off by walking the Miracle Mile (nothing like Chicago, do not be deceived) in the Coral Gables community.   Well this little strip is home to Evelyn’s shoe store!   I was not super impressed; I think camera lighting does wonders!  I will say the differences between the appearance on TV and in real life was not as dramatic as the Dash store, which we visited the day before in South Beach.  I think the Kardashian’s are filming the show at a fake more impressive “Dash Miami”. Anyway, while at Evelyn’s store, one of my friends recognized another patron as her daughter.  We left without buying anything and without taking any pictures inside either because a sign on the door stated “no pictures”.  I must admit I found that a little annoying but hey I suppose those working at the store find fans photos REALLY annoying.  I did take a picture of the outside of the store.





That teeny weeny sign to the left is Evelyn’s storefront.  Oh and yes that is a Supercuts two doors down…

So we headed to Aventura Mall in Miami after and while two of my friends were eating in Grand Lux they recognized Shaunie and her model boyfriend Marlon Yates in the booth behind them.   Later the two plopped right behind a few of my other friends in the food court.  Despite having a top reality show she was just sitting in the food court like any regular person.  We found out later that the Basketball Wives began filming the third season the night before.  We had a friend ask if we could take a picture she obliged and said he, meaning her adorable boy toy, would take the picture for us!  She said we were trying to get a picture of her looking a mess, but honestly she looked really pretty even without make up.  Seeing a Miami Reality TV star while we were there just made our trip!

Oh here are a few other things I enjoyed about Miami!

One of my boyfriend’s favorite movies is Bad Boys I and II. We stopped by the Historic Biltmore Hotel where a few of the scenes were filmed.  It was a beautiful hotel, and hopefully one day I will be able to afford to check in!

I loved all of the beautiful condos on South Beach!  If we stayed an extra day we were going to pose as perspective buyers and tour some of the condos.

Big Pink in Miami Beach was probably the most memorable restaurant we ate it during our visit.   Great prices and great food! I will definitely be back when I return to South Beach!

The fresh seafood! Calamari just does not taste the same when you are far from the ocean. I tried to order seafood for every meal in South Beach.

Inside Dash Miami in South Beach.

Great shopping area on South Beach.

Last but not least the beach.  I always love seeing blue water.  It is a far cry from the murky water at the beach in Galveston,Texas I traveled to as a kid.

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