Link Love #18: My Top 5

Happy New Years Eve!! Wow, I can’t believe the year is over.. it seems like it just began. It’s time to wrap this baby up and look forward to creating new goals [and achieving them!], new experiences, and new memories. I usually use my link love posts to share some of my favorite posts from the blogosphere, but in the spirit of wrapping up this year, I thought I’d share my top 5 most popular posts and my top 5 favorites from this past year.

Most Popular

5. What I Ate Wednesday #4 – 5 Day Slim Down Edition!

What I Ate Wednesday WIAW 5 Day Slim Down Tone It Up TIU

That’s a tasty pineapple protein pancake!

I most certainly have some Tone It Up ladies to thank for this being up there in numbers! People seriously want to know about that slim down. It’s no joke.. you need to be really dedicated and if you are, it really works!

4. Spaghetti Squash Kugel

Spaghetti Squash Kugel Passover Recipe Barr & Table

Definitely making this again soon!

Between Passover and all of the Paleo and low carb diets, it’s no wonder this recipe was a hit! And have you ever had kugel? YUM! Give me my kitchen!

3. Recipe Remix: Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes

Barr & Table Carrot Cake Protein Pancakes About Time Cinnamon Swirl Whey Protein Powder Flax Cottage Cheese Egg White Cinnamon Almond Milk Agave Nectar Salt

Ooh baby! I almost forgot about these.

I love my sweet breakfasts and anyway I can sneak a little veggie in there makes it that much more perfect.

2. Foodie Friday: Peanut Butter Wonderful Powerballs

Peanut Butter Co White Chocolate Wonderful Powerballs Perfect Fit Protein Coconut Flax Chia Hemp Barr & Table

Everything is better with peanut butter!

My first attempt at protein bites and they were a delicious success! I definitely recommend this recipe.

1. Minty Irish Powerballs

Barr & Table Minty Irish Powerballs Cashew Butter Perfect Fit Protein

The perfect mix of chocolatey, nutty, and minty!

How do you make a protein bite better? Use your homemade nut butter 😉

My Top 5 Recipe Posts

Barr & Table Link Love Top 5 Recipes
Eggy Quinoa Stuffed Squash
Coconut Flour Pancake Variations
Homemade Cashew Butter
Buddha’s Feast
Chipotle Lime Sweet Potato Tofu Burgers

My Top 5 Life Posts

Barr & Table Link Love Top 5 Life

Hitched
Dealing With Doubt
I’m grateful for…
The “S” Word
Baltimore Bucket List and Big News!

My Top 5 What I Ate Wednesday Posts

Barr & Table Link Love Top 5 What I Ate Wednesday WIAW

#44: Wine in Italy
Quick Honeymoon Update
#45: The Wedding Food
#59: Ten Years Gone
#64: The First Weekend

Food for Thought

Do you have an all-time favorite post from this past year?
Any big plans for NYE?

What I Ate Wednesday #66: Cheers!

I have to be honest, if I posted my eats from the past couple days, it would be less than interesting. So I think I’ll spare you 😉

Nathan and I do have some pretty big Christmas plans, however, and I’ll be sharing those pictures soon. Dim sum for lunch and Indian for dinner with Anchorman II in between.. it’s the Jewish way to celebrate and it’s going to be a delicious day! In the meantime, if you’re celebrating, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Acetaia Pedroni di Modena Italy Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Lunch 2

Breaking out the honeymoon pic!

Cheers!

Food for Thought

How are you spending your Christmas day?

We Took a Little Trip

Well, maybe we didn’t take a trip for real, but we tried our hardest to have a honeymoon-style date night. And I’d say it was a huge success!

We’ve been wanting to try Cinghiale, a Cindy Wolf restaurant, since we got back from Italy. Hearing repeatedly that it is the best Italian restaurant around, it sounded like we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste-test and compare to the real deal we experienced just a few months ago. Luckily for us, restaurant week was coming up; reservations were made and we had a date night upon us!

About two hours before our reservation, we decided go big or go home. Cocktails before dinner at Wit & Wisdom, another restaurant we had yet to check out, and these drinks definitely did not disappoint!

Pisco Punch Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Pisco Punch – pisco porton, pineapple, fresh lemon, sage syrup

I started with the Pisco Punch. It was perfect for a summer night; the pineapple gave it a little bit of sweetness and the sage syrup gave it just the right amount of savory. Nathan ordered a classic Old Fashioned. It had the perfect mix of ingredients and was possibly the tastiest Old Fashioned he and I ever had.

Sticky Wicket Wit Wisdom Tavern Four Seasons Baltimore Maryland MD

Sticky Wicket – jim beam, fernet branca, smoked maple syrup, soda

Nathan’s drink inspired my next decision to go with the Sticky Wicket. I wanted something with a little more punch and this drink was perfectly balanced with the punch of whiskey, bitters, and smokey syrup. The soda added a little fizz to lighten it up. A definite repeat next time we go!

We saddled up and made our way over to dinner. When we walked in, we immediately noticed the charcuterie and cheese station over to the right. I loved seeing that right as we walked in; if we even questioned ordering a plate of charcuterie, that settled it! As far as atmosphere goes, it was definitely a far cry from the tiny restaurants we experienced on the honeymoon, though it was nice to not be seated on top of other people!

I joked that I hoped the bread would be better here than in Italy; thank goodness it was! We tore through the first little basket of bread while figuring out our orders. I went with the 3-course restaurant week menu and Nathan opted for a pasta dish, knowing that we would be sharing the charcuterie and cheese, my first course, and dessert.

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Sourdough Foccacia

Fresh focciacia and grilled bread

Cinghiale 75 Cocktail Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Cinghiale 75 – Hendricks gin, prosecco, fresh cucumber

I rarely get cocktails, but I was really feeling them the other night! [Maybe it’s all of Caitlin‘s fun cocktails I’ve been reading about..] I couldn’t say not to this one; I’ve recently discovered that I love gin. And anything with prosecco and cucumber is alright in my books! The bubbles hit the spot 😉

Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD Porchetta Fontina Toma Malga

Porchetta, Fontina, & Toma Malga

Nathan’s quest to find the best porchetta in the states has continued and I’m pleased to say that this was definitely a hit! It didn’t look like much, but it packed a flavorful punch full of rosemary and other herbs. The cheese was great too; the fontina was nice a creamy and the toma malga was a bit firmer. Both had great flavor and complimented the porchetta nicely.

Cinghiale Italian Heirloom Tomato Salad Baltimore Maryland MD

Local heirloom tomato salad, gorgonzola, basil, arugula, Sportoletti extra virgin olive oil

And this is what happens when all the sudden you realize you’ve forgotten to snap a pic.. whoops! I just couldn’t wait to dig in. I love the vibrant colors of heirloom tomatoes and they’re nice and sweet right now. The accoutrements perfectly complimented the tomatoes and I was glad to see that the portion size was just right. I didn’t want to fill up on salad before my entree!

Tagliatelle Lamb Bolognese Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Hand cut tagliatelle, lamb bolognese, & pecorino

Along with the porchetta, we’ve been on the lookout for fresh, homemade pasta. In Italy, the pasta melted in your mouth; there’s nothing like it and this came pretty darn close! Nathan’s lamb bolognese was more of what we learned to be a ragu, which was just what he was hoping to find.

Bronzino Eggplant Tomato Mushroom Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Grilled bronzino, eggplant purée, hen of the woods mushrooms, & tomato vinaigrette

My grilled bronzino took me right back to our first dinner in Italy. It was a nice, full portion and was perfectly seasoned and cooked. I love a good, crispy skin! The pairing of the earthy flavor of the mushrooms with the sweetness of the tomato, and the creaminess of the eggplant was right on par.

Panna Cotta Fresh Fruit Cinghiale Italian Baltimore Maryland MD

Vanilla panna cotta with fresh local fruit

Finally, we finished with a vanilla panna cotta. I’m usually one to go for a richer dessert, but when I asked the server for her suggestion, she didn’t miss a beat and I was happy to have a lighter end to the meal. I, of course, stole all of the figs and Nathan all of the nectarines.. at least we know what we like! The fruit was a great addition to the creamy panna cotta and we left feeling satisfied but not overly full.

All in all, it was a great night; the service at Cinghiale left a bit to be desired, but the food was on point. I would definitely make my way back to try some more dishes.

Food for Thought

Are there restaurants around you that you’ve been dying to try?

What is your drink of choice when going out?

What I Ate Wednesday #44: Wine in Italy

Did you see my guest post today on Eating Bird Food? So glad to share some of my honeymoon experiences while she’s away on her honeymoon!

Maybe it should be what I drank Wednesday..? But let’s be honest, you can’t drink in Italy without being fed some amazingly delicious home-cooked food!

When we were at Pedroni for the balsamic tasting, we met another group of people that were also tasting and touring a la Anthony Bourdain recommendations. They told us about a biodynamic, organic winery called Cosimo Maria Masini where we could have a similar experience. Wine tasting with a multi-course meal? Done!

Not only were we in for good food and wine, but also for incredible views of Tuscany. I kept snapping pictures and telling Nathan that no matter what I did, the pictures could never do any justice for the breathtaking sights.

Cosimo Maria Masini Tuscany Italy Wine Tour

One of the managers gave us a tour of the grounds and each of the buildings where they age and harvest their wine. He went into great detail about the biodynamic process; it is a chemical-free process that “tries to regenerate the soil and the plants, through organic activators which help plants to find their own nutrients in the soil.”

After the tour, it was time to eat! We sat down with the manager and his father, who was visiting from Naples. It was just the four of us enjoying a homemade meal.

Cosimo Maria Masini Tuscany Italy Wine Food Tasting

First Course
Charcuterie of sopressata and 2 kinds of salami paired with the Daphne, an unfiltered white wine that is processed with the skins to give it an orange tint. The process gives this wine a bit more flavor than a typical white.

Second Course
A delicious ragu paired with the Cosimo. Still in love with the ragu and totally missing it everyday. Again, this just melted in your mouth and light meat sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

Entree
Braised beef and potatoes paired with the Nicolo; this was a more robust red wine that stood up to the stronger flavor of the beef. The beef had great flavor and fell apart the second the fork touched it. No knives here!

Dessert
Blackberry tart. It had the perfect crumbly crust and wasn’t overly sweet. I can almost taste it now..

BONUS!
I didn’t snap any pictures, but apparently up until this point, we had been missing out! To finish off your meal in Italy, you are supposed to have a small glass of Trebbiano wine and cantuccio—an almond cookie, similar in shape and texture to biscotti. You dip the cookie into your wine and sip slowly as you’re eating the cookies. It is the perfect way to end a meal.

We walked out of there with two bottles of Nicolo and two bottles of the Trebbiano. And incredibly full stomachs! When people ask what my favorite part of the honeymoon was, I tell them I don’t have one, single favorite. I just can’t choose. Visiting Cosimo Maria Masini was just one more of my top experiences that I adored. And speaking of adoring something, I leave you with the sign below found at the winery.

Wine is the most beautiful gift from the gods.

Wine is the most beautiful gift from the gods.

Food for Thought

What was one of your favorite experiences that you’ve had on vacation?

Foodie Friday: Honeymooning in Paris

I truly believe that my feelings of blogging post-honeymoon made it far too real that I have to come back to real life. I didn’t want to come back from the honeymoon; in fact, I still don’t want to be back. But here I am [guess I have to be a grown up again, huh?]. And it’s time to finally recap some of my amazing experiences!

Notre Dame Paris France

Honeymooning in Paris

Nathan and I are huge fans of Anthony Bourdain. We watch all of his shows and when it came time to research restaurants for the honeymoon, that definitely came into play. I recall watching his Paris episode of The Layover and seeing a place called L’Avant Comptoir. I was immediately intrigued by the small [some may call it cozy] atmosphere, the shared bread baskets [oh my gracious, the bread in Paris..!], and the menu—cards with pictures and names hanging down from the ceiling.

L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

The whole restaurant!

L'Avant Comptoir Paris France Menu

The menu hanging from the ceiling.

This was a place I had to go. Every time we talked about Paris, I told Nathan I wanted to go to the place with the hanging menu. And I am so glad we did! In fact, we liked it so much, we went back a second time!

We lucked out both times, getting spots right up at the main bar area [on the left in the photo above]. We ordered a couple glasses of wine and fudged our way through ordering a few plates to share. My apologies for the picture quality.. tight quarters called for the easiest camera I could grab [my phone] and the fastest picture I could take!

Beef Carpaccio L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Beef carpaccio

Fried Chicken Frites L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Fried chicken & frites [Nathan’s fave!]

Cheese Fig Preserves L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Fabulous cheese & fig preserves

Chocolate Pot de Creme L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Chocolate pot de creme

Holy cow. It was absolutely amazing! I only stole a bite or two of the chicken because I know how much Nathan loves fried chicken. I stuck to the beef and cheese.. no complaints here! It was also one of the cheapest meals we had in Paris! All of the plus 2 glasses of wine for 29€. Seriously, we couldn’t even find lunch for that cheap!

Our second time back we were a bit more adventurous. We’d already filled up on a couple beers beforehand so we weren’t quite as hungry.

Andouille L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Andouille

Foie Gras L'Avant Comptoir Paris France

Foie gras

Neither of us ever had foie gras before but we saw someone order it the first time and I decided we had to give it a try. It was fantastic! It had a nice sear on it and was paired with roasted red pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. If that’s what all foie gras tastes like, I could eat it all day long!

If Nathan and I make it back to Paris, I will definitely be stopping here again [whether he knows it or not!] It was not only some of my favorite food that we had on the honeymoon, it was also one [or two] of my favorite experiences. If you’re going to be traveling, hit up Mr. Bourdain for some tips. He knows his stuff!

Food for Thought

Are you a fan of Anthony Bourdain? Do you ever consider any of the traveling food shows when you go away?

What I Ate Wednesday: Quick Honeymoon Update

Pizza.

I just ate a whole pizza for lunch.

image

I can’t tell you the last time I had pizza, but damnit, I’m in Italy and it was lunch time. And it was absolutely incredible.

Now excuse me while I pass out. It is almost time for more wine, biscotti, pasta, and gelato after all 😉

No Big Deal

I know I’ve left you high and dry recently, but I promise it’s all for a good reason..

I’m getting married tomorrow!!

It’s true.. this cute guy and I are going to be walking down the aisle tomorrow evening and then jet-setting to France and Italy for two weeks. It’s a tough life we live, but hey, someone’s gotta do it! 😉

In the meantime, I’ve asked a few of my favorite bloggers to write guest posts while I’m gone. Hope you enjoy the tasty treats they’ve prepared and shared and I will see you when I’m a married lady!

Can you tell I’m excited?!