ChiTown


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Chicago has always intrigued me. Ever since I was younger and my dad came back from business trips with stories about the clean, modern city in the midwest. So some twenty years later I finally got to travel to this city of skyscrapers.

I honestly had no idea it was such a tall city but after an architectural boat tour it was made clear that this city claims some of the tallest buildings in the world (one of which I went to the top of and literally hung off the edge*). To me the best part about Chicago is that it doesn’t feel big. This must be in part because of the wide streets where light passes through the buildings (almost the opposite to Manhattan’s streets). This city, to me, felt cozy and inviting.


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We were able to explore several neighborhoods during the extended weekend. As one would expect, each had a different flare, architecture and people. You could definitely notice the differences, which is something I love about NYC’s various neighborhoods as well.

Although my concrete jungle has water surrounding it, Chicago’s lake felt so much better than the rivers around Manhattan. First of all, it is clean water and you can literally jump in off the Gold Coast walkway. Second, it transcends into the city center making for lovely boat tours and bridge walks through center city.

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Selfishly, this trip was also a chance to check out another city’s “booze scene.”** With the help of colleagues living in the area and social media suggestions, I was able to curate a nice list of bars and restaurants, most of which we ventured to. The highlights included the swanky high-profile Aviary, the amaro selection at Billy Sundays, tacos at Mercadito and the surprising dive-bar we ended up singing karaoke in on the last night.

Chicago, I will return. There is more on my list to explore…

*formerly the Sears Tower

**I did mention I sell alcohol in NYC..right?

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…always a good idea.

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Oh Paris. You’ve captured my heart one too many times but always at different capacities.

This time, activities included…Wandering the streets without a destination. Checking out some trending coffee shops* (courtesy of Ms. Lost in Cheeseland). Sitting at cafés for hours to people watch with an espresso and a rosé. Eating macaroons. Falling in love with Le Marais. Seeing old friends. Meeting new friends. Not going to any museums. Gazing at my favorite Sacre Coeur from the window of a friend’s apartment (evidence above). Capturing the many images of graffiti on my Instagram. Discovering Le Canal Saint-Martin.

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*Foundation Café and Telescope are two trendy, english-speaking coffee shops brewing up delicious jo.

Governor’s Island

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New Yorkers: you only have until the end of the month to head out to Governor’s Island and find out what the hype is all about.

Governor’s Island, located 8 minutes by ferry from the southern tip of Manhattan, has been going through major transformation. The island, which in the past has been everything from a wartime fortress (successful in warding off British attack in 1812), a coast guard headquarter station, and a prison, is now a destination for fun and relaxation.

With some 30 acres of parks, bike paths and even a hammock grove (seriously the best things ever!), the island is a popular weekend destination. When I went for the first time last weekend I was blown away by the amount of activities available. When first walking off the ferry, many people flocked to the beach inspired bar area where there is apparently an outdoor concert area. Events and concerts are scheduled here throughout the summer and last weekend was no exception as I overheard a Sublime cover band while in line for my ferry back to Manhattan.

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Bikes seem to be the preferred mode of transportation on the island. Many visitors rented tandems and surrey cycles directly off the island while others brought their bikes on the ferry with them from Manhattan and Brooklyn (no extra charge from the $2 round trip fare). The island is larger than I expected so a bike will definitely be included on my future excursions.

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A short walk from the ferry will put you directly in front of a castle. Castle Williams to be exact. This fortress was where I spent my time…I know, I know. I’m such a nerd. I signed up for a free tour (available every hour) which takes you through the four levels and up onto the roof for an awesome view (the first picture in this post is from the roof).

Castle Williams was built in the 1800s to protect Manhattan from invasions by the British. The invasion never happened, and maybe it was due to the threat posed by this sandstone structure which had 13 casements that could each hold 26 cannons. That’s pretty intense and not something I would want to sail past as the British (not to mention this was only one fort out of the defense system in place around Manhattan.)

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After this cultural enlightenment, I wandered toward the hammocks and plopped myself down for over an hour of reading and snoozing. Seriously, I need to speak to the person involved in deciding to put hammocks on Governor’s Island. It is pure genius.

If you’re in the New York area between May and September, I suggest packing a picnic (or some cash for the food trucks) and buy a ferry ticket for an afternoon on Governor’s Island.

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Filling My Soul With That Which Was Missing

IMG_7449It’s been over two weeks since I was on VACATION!!!!

It really feels like only yesterday. I miss it so much. The first week back was extremely difficult to even get into the swing of life here in New York City. Post vacation depression. Does that happen to you too? Sometimes I even have it when I leave my friends after spending a weekend together in DC or something similar.

IMG_4512In any case, the details of my trip are missing from this blog. I began my adventure in Burgundy (my home away from home) for about five days.  I snuggled with the kids, ate and drank on the terrace for hours, drove through the quaint wine town of Beaune and the surrounding vineyards and even stopped for coffee at my favorite café in Dijon. It was a brilliant mix of activities that filled my heart with what I was missing for the past  four years since living there.

I even had the opportunity to visit the vineyards of one of the wine makers that I now represent in New York City. Emmanuel Giboulot makes very distinct natural wine and it was exciting for me to see each specific parcel. Emmanuel was just getting back from vacation when we met in his cellar on the outskirts of Beaune. After tasting some new vintages and seeing the new label design (which I am so excited about), we took his truck up into the vineyards. This perspective, actually seeing each parcel, is helpful as I share his wines with sommeliers domestically. I can now see where the wine I am selling has come from and the actual terroir and agricultural characteristics. As much as I love drinking wine, being within the rows of hanging grapes is what I love even more. It invigorates me, especially in France while speaking French 🙂

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After the Côte d’Or I took the train north to Paris. I’ll recap next.

travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

I’m going on vacation to France and couldn’t be more pumped. I might not exactly have the funds for a trip across the Atlantic, but I stand firm behind the title of this post. That’s what credit cards are for anyways, right?

I am the absolute worst at planning, so I haven’t really done that yet, but at least the flight is booked. The trip began as a focus on Normandy, the area of France that I’ve yet to visit. Then it shifted to a beach trip to Saint Tropez and now I am not even sure I’ll go beyond visiting my Burgundy home and Paris (duh).  Honestly I am not upset if it turns into a trip of visiting old friends and returning to my favorite spots, but I hope to at least do a bit of exploring and find some new gems.

For one I now have a few more wine connections and plan to visit the domaines if possible. I’ll keep you all posted if that happens. I have also been connected to some under the radar wine bars and restaurants in Paris, and I am very excited to review them.

Until my trip at the end of the month I’ll be counting down the days by drinking Burgundy and day dreaming of being surrounded by the French language 24/7.

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July 11 at 8:24pm

Tomorrow and Saturday you will be able to experience a beautiful natural masterpiece in the skyline of Manhattan: Manhattanhenge. As the sun sets, it will align perfectly with the gridded streets of the city.

Happening only twice a year, this popular photo opt is compared to the rising of the sun at Stonehenge in England (hence the name).

Will you be waiting in the streets to snap a photo?

Here is a tip for catching the view.

Finding an apartment in Paris

If I ever was to “become French” and actually move back to the country I dream about, this little site would be my best friend.

Apartment searching in Paris is expensive, time-consuming and exhausting. Much like finding an apartment in a city like New York. So this site works like a dating site, in that you create a profile as a buyer or seller and explain what you are looking for. When you are matched with a seller (or prospective buyer), you are contacted and able to set up an appointment.

Less waiting in lines at open houses, less headache for everyone and hopefully more luck finding a new home.

Disclaimer: video is en Française. 

Parcin’ it in Philly

I recently made my way back to the city of brotherly love for a weekend with friends.  Phialdelphia is where I grew up and the city I knew before all others, but at this point in my life it is no longer home. So for this trip I made a point to get a few suggestions for bars and restaurants in the area.  I tend to go to the same few places since college and I was ready for something new.

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Lucky for me, my friend lives off of Rittenhouse Square so we were right in the thick of things. The first night, we got cocktails at a few places including Twenty Manning and The Pub & Kitchen. Both bars served up decent cocktails amid a fun ambiance, but Pub & Kitchen took home the pie. Mostly because I was hungry and the kitchen was closed during our stop at Twenty Manning, but also because the DJ knew the way to my heart: Notorious B.I.G. (I did mention I was from Philly, right?!).

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A smart man once said that Saturdays are meant for drinking and eating heavily before 5pm (I’m sure someone has said this….), so the next day we did just that. A long and lazy brunch was had at Steven Starr’s Parc Restaurant on the corner of the park. We left this French inspired hot-spot full and a bit tipsy, so I dare say it was a successful morning/afternoon.

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That evening, we joined forces with even more friends and traveled across the city to the “Brooklynesque” Northern Liberies area. This is a neat, up and coming area of Phialdelphia that I enjoyed experiencing a bit this past summer. This weekend we went for mexican dinner at Cantina Dos Segundos. Many spicy margaritas and tortilla chips later, we reconnected with old friends back in center city at Black Sheep Pub. A crowded bar that smelled of beer was the perfect spot to reminisce about high school memories.

A solid weekend that left me exhausted and thirsty for more Philly.

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Down the coast of California

The beauty of traveling to the West Coast is that you naturally wake up early, meaning more time to seize the day. And seize we did! The last morning of our road trip we woke up before the sun and made our way to the farthest edge of California. I drove the windy drive through Big Sur down through to Santa Barbara. I highly recommend this to anyone spending time in the San Francisco area. I am pretty sure that during the first hour I pulled over almost every 5 minutes. It was a cold morning that warmed as the day continued, and the fog coming off the ocean crashing onto the rocks was eery and picturesque.

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The drive from Carmel to LA was diverse and relaxing. The drive through Los Angeles was another story entirely. Luckily I was not behind the wheel because the heart attack I was having from the congestion and stop-go traffic was enough as a passenger alone. I’m not going to write about it because I am still trying to forget about it. We arrived at the airport and dropped off our car (on which we had racked up some 900 miles ), met our best friend there and headed to LA Fashion Week event with her in West Hollywood. Us “road-trippers” were less than dressed appropriately for such a function (I remind you that this is all one day–early morning to Big Sur, to Santa Barbara lunch and toes in the sand to LA sweaty traffic congestion). What’s a girl to do in a moment like this? Oh that’s right, you just act like it’s no big deal to grab some clothes and change in a restaurant bathroom. Walk in looking like traveling grease balls–walk out looking like sexy mamas…all in a day’s work. 🙂

We enjoyed a party scene with drinks and a swanky Sunset Blvd hotel, but mostly we enjoyed the following two days spent relaxing in the beach towns surrounding Newport Beach where our friend lives. We explored, bummed around and simply caught up as friends. It was the best part of our action packed trip.

A redeye flight home to top it all off and I can honestly say that I was not my normal self for at least a week. What a busy whirlwind trip, but totally worth it!

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Exploring Wine Country

A quick drive from San Francisco and my partner in crime and I were lounging on Adirondack chairs over-looking the golden vineyards in Sonoma County. Our first stop on the winery trail was Copain Wines and from there we stopped at Arista Winery. It was late in the afternoon so most other places were just about closing as we passed by.  While enjoying a glass of wine and the setting sun from the unique Japanese garden on the Arista property, we began to get hungry and made our way to Healdsburg.  Healdsburg is a quaint town that is home to many of the winery workers in Napa area.  There are many small shops and restaurants to choose from. That night the temperatures were quite cold. It seems that this was the trend of Northern California: warm days and cold nights. It is definitely important to wear layers.

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The next morning we continued our drive down from the hills to Napa Valley. The landscape of rolling hills and farmland was a bit surprising and in the distance we could see the high hills of Mount Helena. Once we arrived in Napa County itself, I was reminded of France’s Cote d’Or the way Highway 29 is bordered by vineyards and wineries with a large hill on the western side.

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We started the day with an amazingly educational tour of the Long Meadow Ranch estate, which consists of acres of vegetables, chicken, herbs, and orchards as well as vineyards on the hilltop. My favorite part of our nearly 2 hour excursion (perks of being in the business I guess) was when we entered the winery itself. It was perched on top of the hill with a breathtaking view of Rutherford below. But more than the view and the peaceful quietness that accompanied the location, I was soaking in  the smell of fermenting wine. I associate this smell with my time living in France. It is like home to me in a strange way. In fact, this smell, and the equipment inside the winery feel comforting to me. Like home in a strange way.

Walking back into the cave of the winery, we were able to see some of the oldest bottles of wine that the winery has kept in their cellar. After this, we continued the journey up the mountain and found the some horses, bulls and old olive groves. I learned (by way of experimental tasting) that olives taken off of a tree are hard and the oils released are toxic tasting and bitter. To make edible, delicious olives these little guys need to be soaked in salt water for months on end. Lots of work!

When we finally returned to civilization off of the secluded hillside, we enjoyed a delicious farm to table lunch at the wineries restaurant. It was so neat to have seen where the kale, beef and tomatoes we ate had come from. The meal was absolutely delicious and a recommendation even if you don’t take a long tour beforehand.

With our full bellies, we made our way to a few more wineries along Highway 29 before switching over to Silverado Trail and going off the beaten path to White Rock, one of the wineries that I represent in New York . This was the only winery where we got to see the actual harvest taking place (most of the grapes had already been picked the week prior to our arrival). When we pulled up to the cellar the team was dumping the grapes from  large crates into the sorter which pulled off the stems. It was a cool experience to see the machinery we had seen “off duty” on other tours actually being used for it’s purpose.

Visiting the wineries in California was a treat for me and a learning experience for my PIC. We had seen a lot, drank a lot and learned a lot about wine during those two days.

Next stop: the coast road!

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