Saturday, January 4, 2020

San Diego

Another work trip journal...  My team went to San Diego to do some focus group research last year, so I got to travel to California and enjoy some pretty beautiful weather.  I also stayed at a hotel with marina views, which was positively lovely!  (I also had a chance to see a DAR friend and a family friends, both before starting work...  love being able to do things like that when I can!)

Hotel room view and breakfast

We also indulged in some delicious eats!  My favorite meal was in Little Italy at Barbusa.  It was absolutely delicious!  We found it using Yelp, and we made a reservation same-day.  I'm glad we did, because the wait when we arrived was long!  Parking was challenging too, but we managed.  The garlic bread was an absolute must!  It's an old family recipe.  The burrata was so fresh too.

My meal was a bit on the overindulgent side... a pasta with bone marrow!  It was heavy and creamy and had delicious sausage in addition to the marrow.  I loved it, even though it left me feeling a bit sluggish after the fact.

My favorite outing was our trip to the San Diego Zoo.  I'd visited the zoo once before in 2012 on a road trip with my sister.  It's an AZA zoo and world-class facility... and it's absolutely huge!  It's hilly, too, so you get your steps in.  We also enjoyed the aerial skyfari at sunset, another highlight to be sure.

On my last visit, my favorite animal to see was the giant panda exhibit.  Unfortunately, the giant pandas were recalled the China in April, so the zoo no longer has them.  This time, I enjoyed the elephants the most.

A weekday evening is the perfect time to visit the San Diego zoo... we found great parking, enjoyed few crowds, and the sunset was absolutely stunning.

I love San Diego, and I hope to visit again soon!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Eating Meat in Minneapolis

I was going to give this post a title of just "Minneapolis"... until I looked at my photos and realized it was pretty much a bunch of pics of meat that I ate.  I hadn't been back since 2014, other than the airport for connections, and I had the chance to return for another work trip to our Minneapolis office.  I was joined by coworkers who lean to the carnivorous side of life (as I sometimes do!) and we definitely indulged.

But first, a photo of some art because it was outside our super cool hotel, the Emery.  I wish I'd taken more photos inside, because the lobby was so unique (so many plants!) and the rooms were quirky too.

For dinner the first night we were in town, a group of us headed to Manny's a classic steakhouse and Minneapolis meat institution since the '80s.  It's often in the "top steakhouses" lists nationally, and they bring out this rolling cart of meat to describe the cuts and help you make decisions.  I've been fortunate during my travels to experience a lot of great steakhouse, so I was excited to visit Manny's.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the artwork in the waiting area of the restaurant, which is pretty, um, ballsy.  LOL.

The side at Manny's are shareable, and we got the giant hash browns with onions and the macaroni and cheese.  I loved the macaroni, but I wished the hash browns were crispier.  It's such a thick patty, the insides don't get crispy, so I think if they did two thinner layers it would be better.  But they're doing fine without my input, so I'll let it be!

For steak, I got the filet though I considered the baseball steak because that sounded good too.  It was a really good steak, as you would expect.  Not the greatest steak I've had in my life, but a great steakhouse experience for sure.

The server was outstanding, and he threw in a crazy dessert for us to try.  It was huge, and it had a steak knife running through it!

The next night, our larger group went to another downtown restaurant known for its meats, Butcher & the Boar.  We ordered a smorgasbord of things (including charcuterie and the sausage sampler), and they were all delicious!  The restaurant has a hipster beer garden vibe in all the right ways, and I thought the food was really great.  I preferred it to the more traditional experience at Manny's the previous night.

For my main, I was going to order the sausage sampler, but they ordered some for the table so I got to try those beforehand!

So I ordered a steak for dinner, again!  And it was another filet... topped with smoked onion rings.  It was really good, even better than the one I had the previous night.

So as you can see, pretty much the only photos I took in Minneapolis were of meat.  :)  It's a really cool city that I'd like to explore more someday, but sadly the weather wasn't the most conducive to that.  Maybe next trip!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Succulent & Cacti Naked Cake

I've been wanting to learn to do flowers and succulents in buttercream frosting, because I've always found piping to be a bit intimidating.  As I've grown more confident in my ability to make good-tasting cake and frosting, I've spent the past couple of years focused on making my cakes look more well-stacked, level, and decorated.

photo by Allison

My friend was organizing a baby shower for another one of our work friends, and a naked cake with succulents and cacti totally fit the bill.  The mom-to-be is a plant lady, so it was the perfect excuse to try out something new in decorating!  I used Wilton gel food colors (Moss Green and Leaf Green for the plants) and some videos from Wilton to get started, then just went to YouTube and typed in "buttercream succulent" and watched techniques.

photo by Allison

I screwed up quite a few of them, but the ones that didn't find their way into my mouth (emotional eaters, I see you) ended up on little pieces of parchment paper to go into the freezer.  Freezing them really helped firm them up for when I placed them on the cake itself!  It also helped divided up the work so I could get this done on a weeknight.

I'm SO pleased by how this cake turned out.  I'm an amateur baker and decorator with no training, just figuring things out as I go.  But I love to bake as a sort of love language, so I'm game to try new things.  My favorite professional to follow is Minette Rushing, who I met during my time in Savannah.

I'm pleased as Punch with how this cake turned out!
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