St. Germain & Muddled Grapes

It’s not like me to do a post about alcoholic beverages.  That’s because I don’t typically make any that are worth talking about.

I’m the type of girl that thinks all drinks are gross.  They’re all too strong tasting to me.  The typical girly drinks are too sweet.  I’m just very hard to please in this department.

Recently, I’ve been catching onto the craft beer obsession that’s taking over Philly.  I am so glad I finally don’t think beer is disgusting.

As of last year, I also don’t think wine is disgusting.  Is this me growing up?

And finally, after being introduced to a fabulous cocktail bar in the city… I now LOVE cocktails.

Inspired by a drink I had at one of my favorite neighborhood spots (SoWe), I decided to try out this cocktail at home.  I’m obsessed.  It’s SOOOOOO GOOD!

St. Germain & Muddled Grapes

Ingredients:

1 shot Vodka

1 shot St. Germain

1/2 cup Fresh Red Grapes

1/2 can Diet Sprite

Directions:

1.  Muddle the grapes into a cocktail shaker with the vodka and St. Germain.  Mash until most of the grapes are broken up.  Strain into a glass filled with ice, removing grape solids.  

2.  Top with diet sprite or club soda.  Enjoy!

If you don’t have a muddling stick, you can try to use a wooden spoon, it just might take longer, so be patient!

CHEERS!

P1010909

P1010910

Seattle, WA

It has been so long that I’ve been able to write about one of our fabulous adventures because we HAVEN’T BEEN ON ONE IN OVER A YEAR!  Dave and I finally saved up some time and money and went away together for the first time since LA last December.  What a nice and much overdue treat.

Why Seattle for such a short trip?  Dave’s new job has him traveling quite a bit in the next few months.  His first business trip this season was scheduled for Seattle on a Friday morning.  Friday morning… how perfect.  We decided to make a vacation out of it, especially since Seattle is just a train ride away from his family in Vancouver.

My adventure started at 4:00 AM on Friday.  EW.  I had to catch a bus at 4:30 to catch another bus to the airport for my flight out of Philly at 7am.  All went well and after a VERY LONG day on airplanes (I finished reading Paterno -loved- and started -and finished… and also loved)  Gone Girl I arrived  in Seattle at 3pm.  I met Dave who had already finished up working for the day at our amazing hotel, the Edgewater.

The Edgewater is a waterfront hotel that was made famous by this picture of the Beatles fishing outside their room in 1964…

"Fab Fishing" Photo Cred: BeatlesInterviews.org

“Fab Fishing” Photo Cred: BeatlesInterviews.org

…and more recently, was featured on “The Layover” with my all time favorite foodie Anthony Bourdain!

#OMGWeStayedAtTheSameHotel!!!??!? Photo Cred: HotelChatter.com

#OMGWeStayedAtTheSameHotel!!!??!?
Photo Cred: HotelChatter.com

Dave and I had a room with a balcony overlooking Elliott Bay, with a fancy bathroom, fireplace, and even this little guy to keep us company (they sell them in the store… I WANT ONE!! duh).

Loved our friend in our room!  So cute

Loved our friend in our room! So cute

The view from the lobby.  Just amazing.

The view from the lobby. Just amazing.

We dropped off my luggage and got started with some sightseeing right away… we had to take advantage of what ended up being the clearest, nicest day during our time in Seattle!

We walked down the pier and took a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel which provided a beautiful view of the city.

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Dave on the Ferris Wheel

Dave on the Ferris Wheel

Pretty view from the ferris wheel

Pretty view from the ferris wheel

Next, we decided we were going to walk through the city to the Space Needle.  The quick ride in the elevator brought us up to the observation deck which gave us a 360 degree view of the city… 520 feet in the air.  OMG!  The scenery was beautiful and this was the only day we could see the towering snow-covered Mt. Rainier.  I was awestruck by this mountain… I could not believe how big and gorgeous it was.

Space Needle!

Space Needle!

GORGEOUS view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle.

GORGEOUS view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle.

After the space needle, we made a pit-stop at the Pike Place Market.  You got it… the place where they throw the fish 🙂

We munched on some smoked cheeese “trail mix” (YUM) and walked around to check out all of the fresh fish.  We ended up grabbing a small bite to eat at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese store… wow!  We had a few samples, tried out a fancy grilled cheese, and munched on their famous Cheese Curds.

Lobster!

Lobster!

I wish I could have gone shopping at the market!  Check out the size of that shrimp...

I wish I could have gone shopping at the market! Check out the size of that shrimp…

Smoked Cheese Sticks & "Trail Mix" ... nom nom

Smoked Cheese Sticks & “Trail Mix” … nom nom

 

 

 

 

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Fiiiiish

Fiiiiish

Rows and rows of fresh flowers

Rows and rows of fresh flowers

As if our day wasn’t already jam-packed enough, we then headed over to Safeco Field to watch the Seattle Mariners get crushed by the Angels.  We had such a fun time and tried some local favorites suggested by my friend Heather… Grounder’s Garlic Fries (OMG GARLICC!), Cheddar/Caramel Popcorn (I didn’t let Dave open this until we got back to the hotel for a midnight snack!), and later on, a Seattle Dog (Cream Cheese… whaaaaat?!).  We didn’t realize until we left, but at the ballpark in Seattle unlike in Philadelphia, you can leave the stadium and come back in!  I love it!  They have lots of shops and food vendors lined up outside the stadium so I imagine this would have been really cool to do.  Nice touch, Seattle.

Go Mariners!

Go Mariners!

Devoured this Cheddar-Caramel Corn ... yum!

Devoured this Cheddar-Caramel Corn … yum!

Pretty view from the ballpark.

Pretty view from the ballpark.

YUM!  Garlic fries!  We both agreed that Philly's Famous Crab Fries from Chickie and Pete's is better though :)

YUM! Garlic fries! We both agreed that Philly’s Famous Crab Fries from Chickie and Pete’s is better though 🙂

Enjoying the baseball game

Enjoying the baseball game

Next, we walked back to our hotel, stopping at a few bars along the way.  We dropped by a place that looked pretty cool called 1000 Spirits.  This would be the first of THREE times we’d visit this cocktail bar during our short stay in the city.  Dave and I loved this place!  With $5 martinis, two different happy hour times, a Happy Hour Wheel, and free drinks with a #1000Spirits tweet… we ended up having six delicious cocktails and an appetizer for only $24.  WOW!

Cocktail bar!  Got Dave into Dirty Martinis... mmm!

Cocktail bar! Got Dave into Dirty Martinis… mmm!

This is only about 1/3 of the bar!  OMG.

This is only about 1/3 of the bar! OMG.

Delicious cod cake.  Only $5 during Happy Hr.

Delicious cod cake. Only $5 during Happy Hr.

The next day, we had until our 6pm train to Vancouver to explore the city.  It was a little bit on the chilly side this day, so we decided to hit up the EMP Museum.  First, for breakfast, we stopped by The Five-Point Cafe as suggested by the Layover & Anthony Bourdain.  I obviously super-stalked the menu and decided we had to go here.  I mean, they have a “breakfast happy hour”… how could it be bad?  Boy was I WRONG!  BOO Anthony!  Boo!  Here’s the story:

We had an incredibly disappointing meal at Five-Point Cafe.  The service was just horrible.  I’m always the type of person to be super-sweet to servers, always understand, rarely complain, etc.  The first bad sign was how long we had to wait for our food.  It was maybe about twenty minutes before I started looking around for our food.  I noticed a few plates up by the kitchen window just sitting there waiting to be delivered to their tables.  Ten minutes passed.  They were still there.  Praying those plates weren’t ours, I asked another server (ours was nowhere to be found) to check on our orders.  They weren’t ours.  Whew!  Another ten minutes passed before our food came out (it’s now been about 40 minutes since we ordered BREAKFAST… this should not take that long).  I had ordered one of their famous Benedicts, the “Californian” with avocado and grilled tomato.  I was STARVING at this point and could not wait to dig in.  It looked delish.  I cut into my benny only to see no runny egg.  Whatttt?  My dish had been sitting so long that the egg turned hard… a hard boiled egg smothered in hollandaise.  I’m sorry, but this is just UNACCEPTABLE for a Benny, right?!  I had to flag down our server only to have her roll her eyes at me.  Great.  They brought out another dish for me 10 minutes later, having only removed the hard eggs and replaced with runny eggs and MORE hollandaise sauce.  Gross.  It was covered to the point where I couldn’t taste any of the food except the sauce.  Dave’s Corned Beef Hash (his version of my benedict… the “I don’t care about calories” breakfast-go-to) was served to him cold, which at this point was the least of our worries.  BOO!  What a disappointment.

What I thought would be a delicious benedict from 5-Point Cafe...

What I thought would be a delicious benedict from 5-Point Cafe…

Ended up disgusting.  I couldn't eat anything under all of that gloopy sauce.

Ended up disgusting. I couldn’t eat anything under all of that gloopy sauce.

Ready for a GOOD TIME after our terrible breakfast, we headed over to the EMP Museum of Music, Sci-Fi, and Pop-Culture.  This wasn’t only the coolest looking building ever… it was the coolest museum ever.  We absolutely loved it.

Photo Cred: Journeysinlightphotoblog.com

The EMP Museum is one funky building!              Photo Cred: Journeysinlightphotoblog.com

They had exhibits about Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Sci-Fi movies and TV, Video Games, Fantasy, Horror Movies, and even an entire area where you could play around with music.  Dave was the happiest person ever being able to go into a sound proof room and play the drums for the first time in years.  We also got to try out sound mixing too.  This place isn’t just for kids, it’s for big kids like us!

Center of the EMP Museum... so cool

Center of the EMP Museum… so cool

Dave's replaced King Geoffrey in the Game of Thrones in the fantasy section of the EMP Museum.

Dave’s replaced King Geoffrey in the Game of Thrones in the fantasy section of the EMP Museum.

Caught in the reflection of the funky EMP Museum building

Caught in the reflection of the funky EMP Museum building

My favorite picture of them all... the reflection of the space needle outside the EMP Museum

My favorite picture of them all… the reflection of the space needle outside the EMP Museum

We stopped by a coffee shop for a pick-me-up and went back to the Space Needle.  Our train at 6pm took us to Vancouver to visit with Dave’s family for a few days.  I could not believe how much sightseeing we got done in just over 24 hours!

Our 3-Day, 3-Night visit to Vancouver was amazing.  I have lots to tell you and tons of pictures to share of our amazing food adventure… so that will have to wait until later.  We arrived back in Seattle for one last day on Tuesday morning.

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After checking into our hotel, we took a nice long walk through the city, bringing us back to the Pike Place Market again.  This time around, we were able to buy some souvenirs and iced coffees at the very first Starbucks!  I was one happy, perfectly caffeinated girl.  We satisfied our hunger and oyster craving at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar which was a tiny little hole in the wall place near the market.  Oysters were slurped and a super-garlicky salmon soup was shared.  Yum.

Watson's Oyster Bar menus are printed on brown paper bags.  Love.

Watson’s Oyster Bar menus are printed on brown paper bags. Love.

Amazing soup at the Oyster Bar!

Amazing soup at the Oyster Bar!

Happy to be in the very first Starbucks.

Happy to be in the very first Starbucks.

First Starbucks Store

First Starbucks Store

Our last dinner in Seattle ended up bringing us back to 1000 Spirits (why not?!) for some more drinks and grub.  Dave and I are absolutely going to miss this place!

I didn’t get my normal “OMG I want to move here” feelings when we were leaving Seattle.  Maybe it’s because I’m just loving our new place in Philly?  Or maybe it’s because we had a few days in Vancouver (the most beautiful city on earth) sandwiched in the middle?  Regardless, I had such an amazing trip and would love to visit again!  Who’s with me?

I woke up on the plane to this unbelievable view of Mt. Rainier... wow!

I woke up on the plane to this unbelievable view of Mt. Rainier… wow!

A Foodie Trip to Baltimore

My original plan for It’s Good to be the Cook was to do part recipes, part restaurants… and part travel.  Well, it’s true, 2 outta 3 ‘aint bad.

Times have been tough for both myself and my boyfriend Dave (or Dahv as I usually call him) for the past year.  We have been dating for almost four years and until 2012, we’ve taken too many trips to even count.  We’ve traveled to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas (for <2 days!), Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Florida, and even Israel.  We haven’t been able to travel in 2012 YET, but to keep ourselves sane, we’ve planned a ton of little day and weekend trips that are affordable yet awesome.

A few weekends ago now, we ventured down to Baltimore to visit Donny.  Donny is famous on It’s Good to be the Cook at this point.  Dave and I met Donny on our trip to Israel and have been able to keep in touch and visit with him often.  He is one of the smartest people I know, I can never beat him on Scramble with Friends, and he is the most fun foodie to be around.  Donny introduced me to Slab Bacon, Homemade Corned BeefWhite-Trash Creme Brulee Pie, and now the Baltimore JFX Farmers Market.  OMG.  I died and went to heaven.  Seriously.

Let me start at the beginning of our weekend.  We arrived in Baltimore on Saturday, early afternoon.  The first stop on the agenda was to Tortilleria Sinaloa, a teeny-tiny little Mexican Taco place not too far from Donny’s house.  There were maybe 8 seats in the entire place.  The rest of the space is taken up by a giant tortilla-making-machine.  YUM!  We ordered a few Tacos- I obviously had to choose one of each:  Chicken, Steak, and Pork.  Each taco was amazing, and the tortillas were fresh as fresh gets.  The salsas were spicy but flavorful.  I couldn’t decide which I liked better.

After shoving our faces with tacos, we walked around town for a bit.  Outside one of the bars, they had a table set up for $1 OYSTERS.  🙂  How cute?  We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have DOLLAR OYSTERS ON THE STREET!

Dolla Dolla Oysters!

My only requirement for the weekend was that I had to have a “Crush”.  Crushes come in either Orange or Grapefruit, and are probably my favorite drink ever.  They are flavored Vodka (either grapefruit or orange), Triple Sec, Crushed ice, Soda, and FRESH SQUEEZED JUICE.  Like… they take a grapefruit… and muddle it all into the drink… then squeeze the juices of one in too.  MMMMMM!  They’re so refreshing!  We headed over to a really fun bar to satisfy my Crush craving- Alexander’s Tavern.  We grabbed 3 crushes and went upstairs to part of the bar that had tons of games.  We played shuffleboard & photo hunt and made friends with another couple from Philly.

Nothing like a Grapefruit Crush…

A few Crushes were crushed then we headed back to Donny’s to relax for a few minutes.  Next up, we went to a party with Donny’s co-workers in a gorgeous apartment.  These people had windows everywhere, such an amazing view of the city.  The three of us got a little hungry and went to Tapas Adela in Fells Point.  We enjoyed a pitcher of Sangria (which I made the boys drink) and a few tapas- Short Rib Flatbread, Blistered Padron Peppers, Crispy Artichokes, and Chilled Lemongrass Mussels.  We continued onto another bar, then not too long after took the walk home to catch up on some sleep for our BIG day coming up:  THE JFX FARMERS MARKET!

Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and VATS of the best Pickles out there.

I was amazed.  Donny is my new hero for introducing me to this amazing place.  There were several produce vendors, meat, cheese, pastries, dairy, seafood… anything and everything imaginable.  There were also so many vendors serving food to eat at the market we could hardly decide.  We shared a Gary’s Turkey Burger, a Garlic-Sage Biscuit (my favorite), and a pit-beef sandwich.  We also were introduced to the most delicious Ginger drink, with lime, mint, and blueberries.  It was super refreshing and I could have drank an extra one… despite how huge they were!

All of the ingredients ready to be filled up for the ginger drink

I wish I had this at home… and I’m not even a huge fan of Ginger!! Oh, the best part being that we’re drinking out of a giant Wonton Soup container 🙂

The best biscuit ever! Sage and Garlic Flavor. I could have eaten it all by myself…lol

Gary’s Turkey Burgers… so yummy!

Dave picked the open pit BBQ Sandwich… wow!

some amazing action at the JFX Farmers Market!

We had the best time ever, Donny won 1lb of free shrimp for trivia, we bought GIANT zucchinis, tomatoes, corn, goat chorizo, horseradish, beets, the best spicy pickles and olives ever, and so much more.  We dropped off our arsenal at Donny’s, then were back out on the town and headed for the Oriole’s game.  It couldn’t have been any hotter outside.  My clothes were literally sticking to me!

Despite the terribly humid weather, Camden Yards is one pretty cool place.  We had awesome seats up high behind home plate and (duh) ate some pretty awesome food… bacon on a stick!

This trip to Baltimore was one of the best yet, and now that I know about the farmers market… I’m sure we’ll be back really soon!