Findlay Market | Cincinnati OH City Guide

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Top 10 Reasons you should visit the Findlay Market in Cincinnati:

10. Buckeyes. If you’ve been to Ohio before, then it’s probably been recommended to you to try these sweet, ohio-specific, treats. Buckeyes start out with a creamy, peanut butter center that is dipped into chocolate which then hardens into the perfect shell. (It’s better than Reese’s, guys.)  Not only are there buckeyes available, but other sugary surprises like macaroons, homemade fruit tarts, and SO many cookies.
9. Fresh Flowers. One of my favorite parts of any farmer’s market are the buckets of fresh flowers set out for people to admire and purchase. The bright colors are so hard to resist and the temptation to buy some for the table is always too much to fight. The cool thing about the Findlay market was the selection of air plants and unique, decorative plants. I was really taken with this little fellow who had purple chiles growing off of it’s vines and I hope to find another one like it some day.
8. Butchers. You’ll never have more desire to throw a backyard end-of-summer BBQ than you will when you see what these guys have got for you. So many brats and steaks that looked like prime cuts.
7. Produce. There was such a wide variety of fruits and vegetables available at Findlay! I was truly impressed by how many different things each of the venders was offering.
6. Local artisans. On Saturdays at the market the fun spills out the doors of the main building and into an outdoor area that houses artists from all over the city! You’ll be able to find cool mementos, decor and vintage items that you otherwise might be rare to run across.
5. Belgian Waffles. I was specifically told to find “the waffle place” in the market, so you better believe that (after finishing a slice of to-die-for bacon+spinach quiche) that I did. The menu was written on a chalkboard hanging on the wall above the waffle irons: nutella waffles, waffles with fresh fruit on top, crepes…all of it sounded like the best decision. I settled on one with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream. The verdict: delicious. The texture was a marriage of crispy, sugary cinnamon roll and hot, crunchy waffle.
4. You’ll feel like you’ve somehow escaped to Europe. Surrounding Findlay Market are streets lined with houses that are painted in the brightest of hues. Flowers cascade out of window boxes making the buildings, that were once run down, come to life.
3. Cheese. One of the first food counters I saw inside the market was selling fresh cheese. This wasn’t your ordinary cheese display case, though; it was filled with cheeses from all OVER. Through the glass I saw manchegos, bries, mozzerellas, goudas, parmeseans…all sourced locally or from around the world. The selection offered was diverse, the man behind the counter was well-versed and the overall prices were super affordable, just in queso you were wondering.
2. The History. Findlay Market was built in 1852 and has been a running market since 1855. Throughout the market bits of history are inlaid within the mosiaics, the table tops and the walls themselves.
1. People watching. Get yourself out there on a Saturday, grab a coffee and watch the floodgates of Cincy burst wide open with people from all over: parents and kids, out-of-towners, farmers,  old, young, artsy, business, everyone from everywhere. Local musicians performing their sultry saxophone solos on corners and the hum of friendly conversation make up the perfect background noise for such a diverse and bustling place. Sit there all day if you want, not a second of it would be wasted.

One more Cincy recommendation and a full city guide coming to you later this week!

Speak to you soon!

 

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Metropole | Cincinnati Ohio City Guide

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While I was in Cincinnati last weekend I had the opportunity to try out a lot of new food and drinks. By far my favorite restaurant that we visited (and the only one we went to more than once) was Metropole. Metropole is located inside the 21c Museum Hotel in downtown Cincinnati.

Conde Naste Traveler Readers Choice Awards put  21c in Cincy as the number one hotel in the US right now (and 11th in the WORLD), so needless to say I was anxious to pay it a visit. The building is in the art district of downtown, next to the Contemporary Arts Center and adjacent to the Aronoff Center for the Arts, and used to house the Metropole Hotel which opened in 1924. The hotel doubles as an art gallery and houses rotating exhibits on several of its floors. So cool.

Walking in I immediately knew we were in another one of Cincinnati’s restored 1920’s buildings by the mesmerizing terrazzo tile flooring and colorfully carpeted spiral staircase that corkscrews through the center of the hotel. Though I didn’t see one of the rooms, I can only imagine how fantastic they are.

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The restaurant in the hotel, keeping the namesake of the landmark, was just as spectacular. Natural light poured through the arch-framed windows and spilled onto the dark wooden table tops and illuminated the golden, bell jar lanterns hanging from the ceiling. We went for brunch and menu was simple, but the flavor profiles were incredibly interesting and the dish presentation was immaculately executed. We went for the olive oil poached tuna, avocado toast and the burnt carrot salad.

Spoiler alert: we had to keep taking pauses during lunch to talk about how good everything was. Or to just exclaim, “YUM,” or just  “MMMM.”

But onto more important things: the cocktail menu. Not only was the food exquisite, but the cocktails are what we returned for in the evening. I tried the Phil Collins and the Annie Hall (both Bulleit bourbon based), and also had a sip of the Vespa (gin+vodka with a hint of cucumber and lavender). The Phil Collins was my favorite. Must have been the notes of cilantro or the guava bitters. I wish I could drink one every day (without having a problem).

If you’re in Cincinnati I definitely recommend checking 21c/Metropole out. Not only is it an award winning hotel, but Metropole just won best restaurant in Cincy as well. Get going!

I’ve got so many more photos/places to share, but it wanted to break it down into digestible bits. Be on the lookout for more.

 

Speak to you soon!

 

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La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary

La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla Chips La Boqueria | Spain Travel Diary, Red Lips + Tortilla ChipsWhenever I mentioned that I was making a trip to Barcelona, a popular suggestion I got was to visit La Boqueria. La Boqueria is a huge market filled to the brim with produce, locally made products (cheese, cured meats, olive oils, etc) and counters where you can pick something up or have an authentic meal prepared right in front of you. Our hotel was near La Rambla, we made the market one of our first stops.

Things you should probably pick up at La Boqueria:

1. Fresh Produce – Traveling can often consist of eating heavily for days upon days. A welcome change, for us, was to grab some fresh fruit for breakfast and vegetables to take along with us for lunch. We spent a fraction of what we would’ve at a restaurant and still got to enjoy the local flavors. My favorite things were the vibrant red cherries, juicy peaches and perfectly ripe avocados.

2. Juice – It’s impossible to miss the rows of festive, brightly colored straws that adorn the fresh juices all over the market. From kiwi coconut to mango banana berry, you can pretty much get any combination (or single flavor) that you’re hoping for. Definitely a refreshing treat that would make a hot day maneuvering through the crowds much more bearable.

3. Candy – On a less healthy note, you have got to get your hands on some of the specialty candy in the market. We made a point to go three separate days, each time trying something new. My favorites were the macarons (of course), the truffles,  the coconut bonbons and this circular, toffee and chocolate crispy treat. I really think I could’ve tried anything and would’ve had a shut-my-eyes-in-chocolate-ecstasy moment.

4. Gelato – Gelato isn’t just delicious in Italy; no, I had some of the best gelato I’ve ever had from a counter in the very middle of the market. We got one coconut and one scoop berry (with fresh berries piled on top). The gelato was so good that we actually had to have a seat right in the middle of La Rambla to enjoy it to the fullest extent (send your judgements to my P.O box).

5. Empanadas – Jamón y Queso. Pollo y Queso. Anything. Everything. Get them all.

6. Counter Service – The one thing we didn’t do (and I feel regrettable about) was taking advantage of the in-market food counters. The aromas from the various seafood, tapas and float about the entire market; the sizzle of busy skillets interrupting barter conversations between shopper and stall owner. There was one near the back that was lit with rustic lighting and was serving lobster…I’ve got to get back there some day. It really did seem to good to miss.

Although we did see and do a lot in Barcelona, I felt like the market needed it’s own post. More sites and stories to come!

 

Speak to you soon!

 

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Segovia | Spain Travel Diary

Segovia | Spain Diary, via Red Lips Tortilla Chipsscathedral sidestreet portrait1 fans ceiling2 door aqueduct portrait2 cookies1 baskets austriantile house hapsburg courtyard sweets walls elalcazar chocolates portrait3 cathedral facade cityscape window town aqueduct2 castle cookies2 segoviaMy trip to Spain was rich with history. Since we were on a guided tour of the country, we had the opportunity to see many buildings that were important in forming Spain as we know it today.

On the third day of the trip we made our way to  El Escorial just outside of Madrid (no photos were allowed, but you can see it here) and then we made our venture to Segovia where we would be seeing El Alcazar. Both sites were from the age of the Hapsburgs (Austrian) ruling Spain; they were the kind of buildings that make you silent because your eyes are too busy tracing the details from floor to ceiling and your mind is making a lofty effort to soak it all in.

Sometimes I skip the more touristy sites because I want to feel like I’ve genuinely experienced a place and not just gotten caught up in its sites. However, within the last two weeks I have gotten to explore some breathtaking places. Architecture tells stories that we get to feel a part of, even if it’s only for a 45 minute tour. In those instances, I find myself feeling introspective about the things the walls surrounding me have seen and heard; about the things I’ve read in texts books that happened so long ago in the same space I am getting to experience.

I highly recommend adding both places to your trip itinerary.  Segovia is an ancient Romanesque city (declared a world heritage site) that is worth spending an entire day in to window shop down the alleyways and treat yourself to some Spanish cookies (they have so many good ones). You may also want to see the Roman Aqueduct, the Cathedral and the many plazas framed by restaurants serving authentic Castilian cuisine.

Tomorrow: Burgos and Spanish food

 

Speak to you soon!

 

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TBT | Italy Travels (+ITALY GUIDE)

italypromo IMG_1975 IMG_4896 IMG_1972IMG_4653IMG_2202 IMG_4687 IMG_5231IMG_2074 IMG_2421IMG_2462 IMG_5269 IMG_4886 IMG_5424 IMG_2582  IMG_2402 IMG_2429 IMG_2444IMG_3280 IMG_5411The first time I traveled outside of the U.S. was when I was 20. The college I attended offered a class where you would jet abroad and then learn about the art, architecture and culture of a place across the globe. The destination of my trip was Italy.

We landed and immediately where chauffeured in a coach bus through the stylish city of Milan. Just from watching the aged buildings whiz by I was almost immediately entranced by the beauty and antiquity of it all. That trip took us all over the Northern half of the country: Milan, Vicenza, Verona, Venice, Tuscany, Florence, Siena, and Rome. By the end of our 14 day journey I was sure of a couple of things; one of those was that I suddenly understood the term “wanderlust,” and I had it bad; the second was that I would be returning to Italy. My heart had started to beat for the patina on the walls and the piazzas; for the silent, spiritual moments spent in ornate churches in small cities; for the way the Italian people spoke in a sing-song language I couldn’t understand but wanted desperately to. I wanted to go back, so I did.

The next summer I was moved into an apartment in Florence with my best friend. I had acquired a summer internship with a small men’s fashion label (Borgo28) and she was to teach English to children. Our landlord, Vincent, placed us in a second floor unit overlooking Via De Neri, the street right behind the world-renowned Uffizi Gallery. Our evenings were spent strolling across the Arno river to our favorite place for Apertivo, purchasing a 2 euro bottle of wine from the market across the street and people watching from our window, and dreaming of a life where we never had to leave. We spent the weekends adventuring with our newfound Italian friends (or just having dinner parties), or taking the train somewhere we hadn’t been before. It was the most exciting 3 months of my life, and the gateway to the person and dreams that I have now.

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YOU SHOULD GO:

•Make your way to Cinque Terre, It’s my favorite place in Italy so far. Find a bed and breakfast (they’re a little cheaper outside of the town centers and often offer a shuttle service), and make sure to spend some time in each city because they are all super special (there is a train that links them all). Start in la Spezia and adventure your way across to Monterosso al Mare. Hike the trail,  if it’s a nice day, to Riomaggiore where you’ll get your first glimpse of the Mediterranean color scheme that paints the cities of the region;   fall in love with the charming, colorful hillside buildings of Manarola (my favorite); stroll the Via dell’Amore near Vernazza; find a restaurant overlooking the sea and order some risotto con funghi in Corniglia, and don’t forget to block out some time to spend on the beautiful, hill secluded beach in Monterosso.

•Visit a winery in Chianti. Go on a tour of the grounds, and treat yourself to a tasting. If they produce olive oil, make sure you try some because it there is nothing quite like fresh, authentic Italian Olive oil. Not only will you learn a lot, but the views of the Tuscan country side from the hilltops are unreal.

•Siena is the most quintessentially Italian town I’ve ever gone to. The Siena Cathedral is one of the most beautiful that I’ve seen during my travels there (Also on that list are the Milan Cathedral and the Duomo in Florence).

•If you have to choose between Rome and Florence, I’d choose Florence. Though it is tourist heavy, there is more of a small town feel than the over-saturated tourist hub of Rome (but also go to Rome because it has some of the most beautiful architecture I’ve ever seen).

•Renaissance monuments. Examples: The David, the masterpieces in the Uffizi Gallery (they have SO MANY Botticelli paintings. And I love Botticelli), the Duomo (and all of Brunelleschi’s other works in Florence), the Palace of the Medici’s (and the Boboli Gardens), etc. Also, if in Rome the Vatican is breath taking and the Colosseum and the Forum ARE worth seeing. Strolling the streets in most of the towns will give you a glimpse of the renaissance architecture; it is what makes up the building blocks of the country.

YOU SHOULD EAT:

•Spaghetti alla Scoglio – Spaghetti with clams is my all time favorite Italian Dish.
•Apertivo – An Italian pre-dinner ritual that is similar to Spanish tapas. You order a minimum of one drink (traditionally you order a Spritz) and are given a small plate to fill with the smorgasbord of food on display in the restaurant. Apertivo outings were one of my favorite parts of living in Italy. (If you’re in Florence there is an apertivo restaurant called Moyo and it is GOOD.)
•Gelato (I hope this is a given).
•Also try: Prosciutto con Melone, Authentic pizza/calzones, A panini with melanzane (GO TO PINO’S), and crostini. All of the crostini.

YOU SHOULD DRINK:
•Limoncello – Lemon flavored liquor that is often served as a dessert.
• Grappa – a brandy-esque Italian grape based beverage. Another after dinner drink that I would highly reccommend. Prepare your palette, because it’s different than anything I’ve ever tasted.
• A bottle of Chianti. In Chianti.

& I’VE YET TO SEE (BUT WANT TO ):
• Lake Como
•The Amalfi Coast (Capri, Positano, Sorrento, etc)
•Sardinia
•Milan (I did vist, but only for an afternoon)
•More of the country side, because what better way to see the true beauty of a country than that.

 

Speak to you all soon!

 

 

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Nashville Guide: The Essentials

Nashville Weekend Guide | via RLTCSometimes I forget how amazing it is to live in a city full of so much history, ambition and pizazz. Just one internet search about “What to do in Nashville” yields endless results; tours, music, famous bars, places to buy find that single shoe that Johnny Cash wore–once.

Okay maybe not that last one, but you get the drift.

Overhearing conversations at the coffee shop I worked at was often overhearing frustration from travellers (and locals) not knowing where to get the best BBQ or where to hear the best bluegrass or where to get “hot chicken,” whatever that meant…

(IT MEANS the best damn chicken you’ll ever eat. Check yourself. And then promptly drive to Prince’s and feast like you are the fire king).

So without further adieu, I give you my condensed (sort of) Nashville to do list. This idea stemmed from the forthcoming visit from my amazing parents. While sifting through blog posts and trip advisor comments, I just wanted to be able to look at ONE thing. So I made it. I really tried to think from all realms and to fill it with things that would keep you (a traveller OR a local) busy for an afternoon, a day, a weekend…I hope it’s as helpful to you as it was for me!

Discover something new in Nashville.

(Also, please feel free to discover how great the adjective pizazz is. Note to everyone: use it more often.)

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I’ll be a little absent the next few days (spending much needed time with the parental unit) but I’ll be back during the weekend/the beginning of next week with a FLOOD of pictures. There’s a lot coming up for this little blog! Get excited.

Also, thank you guys for all the support and kind words! I’m excited about this new venture and about bringing you on it with me.

 

Speak to you soon!

 

 

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