Travel

Be Inspired! This Video Will Do It

by Cathy on September 29, 2011 · 1 comment

in Ideas,Travel

This video reminds me of why I love to travel. Life is an adventure — embrace it!

Share

{ 1 comment }

Truth be told, our weekend getaways usually can’t be described as healthy. Even though we typically do a lot of walking, we usually make up for it visiting amazing restaurants. This past weekend, we broke with tradition and embarked on a healthy bicycle adventure on the Katy Trail. We kicked off the weekend, in the tiny town of Rocheport, Missouri — just outside of Columbia — that is a major entry point to the Katy Trail. The 250–mile Katy Trail, site of the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, is one of the longest railway lines converted to a bike trail.

 

The Rocheport section of the trail runs parallel with the Missouri River and crisscrosses the route Lewis and Clark traveled as they headed west. We pedaled past a cave where Lewis and Clark camped …

and limestone cliffs that featured 100-year-old pictographs painted by local Native Americans. (You can see one pictograph in the photo below that looks like a check mark with a circle.)

After we cycled, we headed to Columbia, where we ate and The Main Squeeze Natural Foods Cafe, a  vegan restaurant. If you think this was all about carrot and celery sticks, you would be wrong. I had cheesy, tasty vegetable quesadillas with a spicy dipping sauce that were very filling, and washed it down with a strawberry-banana smoothie.

If you can’t get enough of the beautiful outdoors, you could return to Rocheport for dinner at the outdoor restaurant of Les Bourgeois Blufftop Bistro. Perched high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, this magical restaurant features gourmet food, wonderful wine from the local vineyard (try the Les Bourgeois red) and often a good local band.

After sampling the Les Bourgeois wine list, you may not want to drive far but you won’t need to if you stay at the  Yates House Bed and Breakfast Inn in Rocheport. This is a quintessential B&B with four-poster beds covered in quilts, large bathrooms with claw-foot tubs, a cozy library crammed with books … you get the picture. Breakfast the next morning is, well, not healthy but worth every calorie. The outdoor gardens are just as lovely as the decor inside the inn.

So, I guess it wasn’t a totally healthy trip but at least the first half — our bicycle adventure on the Katy Trail — would make your gym trainer proud. (Just don’t tell him about the second half!)

 

Share

{ 2 comments }

When we ate at the tasty City Coffeehouse and Creperie in St. Louis in July, I lamented the fact that we didn’t have a good creperie in Kansas City. Boy, was I wrong! This morning, we ate brunch at Chez Elle Creperie Coffeehouse. Not only was it amazing, but it was also located in the up and coming Westside neighborhood at 17th and Summit. Local foodies may know that Westside is also the location of the celebrated Blue Bird Bistro and Lill’s on 17th.

Chez Elle is located in the renovated Summit Theater building, location of the first movie theater in Kansas City that showed movies with sound. The decor reminded me of the wonderful restaurants in Asheville — artsy, urban hippie and European.

 

But let’s focus on the stars of the show — the crepes. My husband and I split the savory Bonjour crepe filled with bacon and cheese, and topped with scrambled eggs. We also split the Citron crepe filled with lemon curd and strawberries topped with fresh whipped creme. Both crepes were surprising light and bursting with flavor.

I wish there was space to describe all the rest of the crepes — twenty two in all. The Suisse with Black Forest Ham, asparagus and Hollandaise sauce, the Mon Cheri Amour with cherries, vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream in a chocolate crepe … all I can tell you is that you will have a heck of a time choosing.

Even the ladies’ restroom is cute at this place!

Chez Elle has wonderful French decor, an interesting history, an urban neighborhood, wonderful food and coffee that just makes me happy! What else could a person possibly want in a restaurant?

Chez Elle Creperie Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon

Share

{ 0 comments }

Like most cities, Kansas City has a monthly art gallery open house night. Ours is in the Crossroads District, a growing artsy urban area that becomes more interesting every time we visit. The fun thing about going to First Fridays is that you can have a new adventure each time you attend. Here are two cool things we found last night.

1. Hammerpress, a vintage hip letterpress and design studio. From the giant presses crouched in the back to the racks of gorgeous printed pieces, this place is inspiring. (Shame on me: I didn’t take photos so photo credit is given for the photos below.)

The first two photos are from the interesting blog Accidental Mysteries, created by east coast designer John Foster.

2. Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones. Remember the chunky shaved ice with hum-drum sugar water flavoring? Well, these are not those kinds of snow cones. People were lined up twelve deep to purchase flavors like lemon prickly pear, lime mint and watermelon basil from a charming food truck.

Share

{ 0 comments }

Another Hip St. Louis Neighborhood

by Cathy on July 17, 2011 · 3 comments

in Food,Travel

If you think St. Louis is just an arch and a pass-through town, you need to revisit! Some unique neighborhoods there make it worth the stop. My husband and I both started new jobs, our daughters have summer internships, so a long family vacation was out of the question. St. Louis rose to the top of the list because it’s only a four-hour drive from Kansas City. So, without further ado, here is hip STL neighborhood number two …

Soulard! This historically rich community dates back to 1840 when Julia Soulard, a wealthy French landowner (I love strong women!), donated part of her land to establish the town. European immigrants poured into the area about that time and many settled in Soulard. You can see their influence in the neighborhood’s narrow European-style lots. For you fellow architectural buffs, the buildings were all constructed from red brick in Federal, Italianite and Second Empire styles. Okay, enough history lesson, let’s go exploring!

First, we stopped for brunch at the Soulard Coffee Garden and Cafe — amazing omelletes, waffles, coffee … We found it using Yelp, our iPad to check out the web site and then the GPS on our iPhones to get us there How’s that for using technology to find breakfast! Using Yelp to find good restaurants seems to be a pretty full proof strategy …

 

The Soulard Farmer’s Market

 

Soulard, a cousin of New Orleans, has some similar architecture and its own Mardi Gras celebration.

A few cute shops …

And oh, the gardens …

 

Share

{ 3 comments }

The Hip Side of St. Louis

by Cathy on July 11, 2011 · 1 comment

in Food,Travel

Okay, so you have only have a long weekend and you live in Kansas City, so where do you head for a summer vacation? St. Louis! If you have already done the Arch, Grants Farm and the Magic House, you may think you have already done St. Louis but there is another side to see. There’s the hip side of St. Louis and it revolves around three cool neighborhoods . Today, we will introduce you to …

The Loop, where you can stay in the Moonrise Hotel. The rooftop restaurant and bar alone make this a great place to stay …

For lunch, be sure to head over to Pi Pizza for a deep-dish delicacy with a crisp cornmeal crust that is loaded with your choice of goodies. Notice that they put the wonderful fresh tomato sauce on top of the cheese on the pizza.

After lunch, you can stroll the one-of-a-kind shops that include clothing boutiques, vintage shops, a vintage blowing alley and a wonderful art gallery where local artisans sell their wares.

For dinner, go to Blueberry Hill for a good meal and live blues. You may even catch a performance by Chuck Berry — yes, THE Chuck Berry!

Coming up: An urban neighborhood lined with Victorian-era homes that has become a trendy place to live plus one heck of a farmer’s market ..

Share

{ 1 comment }

You know the drill: you want to stay in New York City (L.A, the beach, etc.) but the hotels are SO expensive. The affordable ones are so bland that you might as well be staying in a hospital room. What you want is a unique, stylish room close to all the must-see places. No, make that a stylish apartment where you have space just to relax and a fully stocked kitchen where you can cook a meal or two. Oh, and make that cute apartment reasonably priced. Is that too much to ask?  Airbnb says no. Don’t believe me? Take a look!

How about a Redondo Beach, California cottage for $124 a night!

Feeling a bit more adventuresome? You could stay in in a loft in Vancouver, British Columbia for $130 a night.

And if money is not a concern, you can rent this entire home in Costa Rica for $850 a night.

Here’s how it works:

 

You can even list your own home for rent. Not that suburban Kansas City is on anyone’s must-see list but …

Share

{ 3 comments }

No One Told Me Omaha was Cool!

by Cathy on May 4, 2011 · 3 comments

in Ideas,Travel

Being from Kansas City, it probably isn’t fair for me to think that Omaha is not cool. Kansas City has long had a reputation as being a cow town but the fact is, there are some hip, trendy places to see in Kansas City. The same holds true for Omaha. We headed there last week to check out Creighton University for my college-bound daughter. (Loved the university but the price? Cough!) Here’s what we saw in Omaha.

We only had a couple of hours so we headed to the charming Old Market district, a colony of brick warehouses saved from the wrecking ball. We began with our top priority  — finding the best ice cream shop and that would be Ted and Wally’s Premium Homemade. My mocha on a cone was rich, creamy chocolate laced with ground coffee beans. It was yum and a coffee buzz all in one!

Next we walked the rows of cute restaurants and unique shops. My favorite was Nouvelle Eve, a shop full of one-of-a-kind women’s clothes that were big on style and with big prices!

The Old Market Passageway contained a treasure trove of ethnic shops and gift boutiques.

We wrapped up our visit at the Wheatfield’s Bakery where we bought loaves of pumpkin bread and lemon pound cake. Next door to the bakery was a cute cafe and coffee shop.

So if my daughter does end up at Creighton (think loads of scholarship money!) then we have a fun place to stay when we visit her. I’m sure she is praying that those visits don’t happen every weekend!

Share

{ 3 comments }

I had forgotten that Washington DC is truly an international city until I took that first bite of dinner our first night there. We weren’t in a quaint Georgetown eatery. We were transported to Spain in a crimson and black restaurant pulsating with the music of flamenco dancers as food was served on small plates. Dinner was a parade of rich seafood and tasty vegetable dishes washed down with goblets brimming with sangria and fruit. La Bodega marked our first night. (See the details below for what we ordered for all three meals.)

The second night took us to India, where pungent curries and spicy stews greeted us at the doors of Rasika. The waiter assured me that the Chicken Tikka Masaala really wasn’t spicy. I begged to differ as I dove for a glass of ice water, though it was good.

 

Alas, I saved the best for last. Zaytinya, a Greek/Turkish restaurant, was simply amazing. The steady parade of dishes were mouth watering. From the piping hot, fresh pita delivered with a tray of three savory spreads, to the platters of lamb, vegetarian dishes and don’t even get me started on the dessert: fresh apricots marinated in liquor topped with creamy yogurt, a dollop of rich ice cream and crusted with pistachios. You would really have to taste it to believe it.

Zaytinya was created and is directed by celebrity chef Jose Andres, host of the PBS cooking show “Made in Spain,” author of numerous cookbooks, creator of many of DC’s most innovative restaurants and czar of a food empire. Yet, he was both humble and friendly as he stopped to chat with all the dinner guests and shake our hands. I was a bit starstruck!

The details — If you are in Washington DC and want to visit these restaurants, here is what we ordered and would recommend.
La Bodega: Sopa de Pescado con Fideos (Traditional Seafood Broth with Clams, Mussels and Fideo Noodles), Sopa de Lentejas  (Lentil Soup With Chorizo Sausage), Ensalada de Peras y Nueces (Field Green Salad With Pears, Walnuts & Goat Cheese In A Light Honey Vinaigrette), Tortilla Espanola, Spanish Tortilla (Potato, Onion & Egg Omelet), Gambas al Ajillo (Shrimp Saute?ed in Garlic, Piri-Piri Pepper & Crismona Olive Oil)

Rasika: Naan (traditional Indian bread), Chicken Tikka Masaala (a flavorful chicken stew served with rice), Lamb Roganjosh (a lamb stew with curry and chilies served with rice), with a side dish of Eggplant Kozambu (eggplant, tomatoes and curry)

Zaytinya: Pita with three spreads (htipiti — marinated roasted red pepper, feta and thyme; hummus and Tzatziki — Greek yogurt with cucumbers and dill), Crispy Brussel Afelia (crispy brussel sprouts with spices and garlic yogurt), Hunkar Begendi (Turkish braised lamb shank with spices) and for dessert, marinated apricots with yogurt, ice cream and a pistachio crust.

 

Share

{ 0 comments }

I woke up Saturday morning and realized — oh, joy! — I can play all day! This unexpected free time snuck up on me. An afternoon adventure was definitely in order but it was too late to call a friend to join me. Did I have the courage to go adventuring alone? Yes, I did! So I headed out to …

The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art

To see the exhibit “Pattern ID,” which examines the way that artists and everyday people use pattern and dress to explain who they are and where they came from.

Of course, seeing an art exhibit about how we express ourselves through clothing made me want to go shopping! So I headed over to Forever 21 on the Country Club Plaza and found these incredible bargains.

First, this cute cardigan for $11! that I purchased in cream and plan to cinch with a thin brown leather belt.

This necklace for $6 that I plan to wear with the belted sweater.

And these cute shoes, that I purchased for (get this!) $7! Score!

Not a bad way to spend a few free hours on a Saturday!

Share

{ 3 comments }

Thesis Theme for WordPress:  Options Galore and a Helpful Support Community