New York City…all play, no work!

January 27, 2009 at 7:09 am (Travel) ()

Me, Britt, Kev and Ryan

Me, Britt, Kev and Ryan

Because I am a complete slacker.  And because when I am actually in NYC the last thing I am doing is sitting down at the computer – I am usually out cocktailing, shopping, and overall just misbehaving.   So a day-to-day journal of what went on, is never going to happen! 

For those of you who are interested, I will summarize my latest trip by telling you about my favorite things that we did (this is in no particular order):

1.  Attending Kevin Krier’s Birthday party…best party EVER!
2.  Getting make-up done by Joey on the set of Rachel Ray’s Morning Show and then running into Eric McCormick in the hallway
3.  Lunch at the Spotted Pig (Soft-boiled Duck Eggs with Pancetta and Endive) and a typical Nat, Britt and Kev 2 bottle lunch
4.  Purchasing my first pair of Sex and the City shoes…Manolo Blahnik bitches!
5.  The EXTRA spicy guacamole and Tequila shots at Dos Caminos
6.  Getting lost on the subway and feeling like a complete CA “loser” that can’t understand and underground public transportation system
7.  Stalking Tom Colichio by having cocktails at Craftsteak in Chelsea
8.  Gay Cabaret…need I say more!
9.  Seeing Mary Kate Olsen at Indochine
10.  Taking the “Fashion in Art” tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

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2008 Tuff-E-Nuff

September 15, 2008 at 12:25 pm (Travel) (, )

Made the trek to Bass Lake this past weekend to play in the annual Tuff-E-Nuff golf tournament.  (Oh yes, I do play golf…even if it is only 3 times a year!) 

Talked poor Caffo into going with me, boy was he in for some surprises.  Bass Lake on a normal trip is pretty exciting; Bass Lake with all the Tuff-E-Nuff golfers in town is a life changing experience.  I felt kind of bad for dragging an innocent into this experience, but if anyone could handle it I knew it would be Caffo.

For a little background info, my family has been putting on the Tuff-E-Nuff tournament since 1977.  It is called Tuff-E-Nuff because that was the name of my Grandpa Delbert and Uncle Larry’s race boat…pretty exciting stuff.  I hardly remember going to any of the boat races since I was super small, but I do have my dad’s racing jacket for being on the crew at one point.  I wear the jacket to bocce and it is a real crowd pleaser!

Weekend Highlights:

  1. While putting together the gift bags in the garage a car hit a tree next to the driveway and flipped a couple of times…didn’t see this but definitely heard it.  Lucky for everyone, the driver walked away with not even a scratch.
  2. Paul Bierly’s teeing-off swing…can’t explain but was like nothing I had EVER seen before.
  3. My 14 ft. put to get the team a Birdie…played with 3 boys so obviously wasn’t going to out-drive them.
  4. The Pines Bar…just a down-home, Coor Light drinking, good time, ALWAYS!  You know it’s a solid place when someone buys a round of Jaeger for the entire bar!
  5. Surfing behind my Uncle Mike’s boat…until I woke up today and my shoulder blades were aching.
  6. Just spending time with all the crazy people…thank GOD this tournament is only once a year.

Interested parties may want to know that the tournament next year is September 19, put it on the calendar…it is a rocking good time!

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promisQous behavior in the Big Apple

September 8, 2008 at 5:59 pm (Travel) (, )

Lucky for me one of the wine brands in our portfolio is named promisQous.

Lucky for me my friend K-Dog thought it would be the perfect wine to pour at the Yummie Tummie product launch.

Lucky for me this event took place in New York City…and I got to attend.

I had sooooo much fun, almost too much fun because at this point I am exhausted.  There was shopping at H&M, a walk down 5th Avenue to Central Park, pastrami sandwich at the famed Carnegie Deli, and of course many lovely dinners and glasses of bubbly with my brother Ryan, K-Dog, and his fashionista crew!

The trip was successful for two reasons…

1.  promisQous was a huge success at the event and all but one case of red was consumed. 
2.  Ryan and I got to attend our first runway fashion show sitting front row at Cushnie et Ochs.  The show was for two new designers that just graduated from Parsons Design School and K-Dog is predicting they are the “future” of the fashion world.  Beyond exciting….the theme was American Psycho and the models walked out onto the runway from behind a revolving blade.

I’m finally now unpacked.  I’m finally through all the laundry.  But, there are no complaints.  A trip to the NYC is always welcome.

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Last Night in Minneapolis

August 15, 2008 at 4:52 pm (Travel) (, )

I am skipping the storytelling about Night #2 – not that it wasn’t fun and entertaining, but it was a little much…too much wine, too much pork belly, and too much taxi-cab confession time.  But, I will say that if you are heading to Minneapolis anytime soon you absolutely must check-out Cafe Lurcat located in the Loring Park area.  Super hip, super urban…groups of beautifully upholstered sofas around long low-slung tables and how can you not love a space lit by ornate chandeliers.  But, I digress…

Night #3
As with the previous 2 nights, Night #3 began with a run through slam-bam shopping stop in Macy’s.  Yes, Macy’s.  That large department store that I usually shun because it is just too big and overwhelming.  I have changed my mind because I have made a discovery, I have found a gem…this Macy’s is fabulous and I plan to shop there every time I visit the Twin Cities.  It is a “must-stop” on my itinerary.

After buying yet another dress at beloved Macy’s and my boss purchasing some classic St. John pieces, we rushed to meet TK (Minnesota native) and Leslie (Wine Goddess Extraordinaire) in the hotel bar.  The question on everyone’s hungry mind…Where to dine, where to dine?  Somewhere withing walking distance, somewhere good after such a long day of meetings a power shopping.

The answer…Mission.  Two blocks away and lots of good bar food!  Not quite as hip as Cafe Lurcat (but that could be hard to beat).  But, really quite elegant and the service was great.  We ordered almost one thing of each appie off the menu.  My two favorite appies were the House Made Potato Chips with Chive Sour Cream and the Truffle Cream Cheese Wontons with Malt Vinegar Dipping Sauce.  Finger Licking Good!

After dinner is was off to bed to watch the Olympics, what better drama than two American gymnasts fighting over the GOLD…priceless.

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Good times in Minneapolis – Night #1

August 14, 2008 at 11:02 am (Travel) (, )

I travel to Minneapolis once every couple of months for business.  I love the city.  It has Midwestern charm, mixed with a hip urban edge.  There is shopping, restaurants, and bars…what more can a girl ask for?

When visiting, I spend most of my time in the Target building attending meetings or watching the parade of people in the ever-so-interesting cafeteria.  Over the years, a routine has been established for every visit…dinner at Vincent’s and bed time at the Double Tree. 

It was a good routine, it worked, but after awhile I needed to try something new.  So I enlisted my friend TK (a Minneapolis native) to show me what the city had to offer.  Our first outing was last May when we visited Psycho Suzie’s to have pickle roll-ups and then rolled across the street to have “Greenie” drinks.  It was a great night out with all new places, I couldn’t wait to do it again on my next trip.

I arrived yesterday and met TK in the hotel lobby of the Marriott Downtown, which has just been renovated due to the GOP Convention in September.  I was quite pleased with my new sleeping arrangements and immediately noticed the lobby’s modern decor with the bar area where lots of people were enjoying cocktails.  DoubleTree bar, dingy and not so fun.

We walked over to The Ivy– a swanky new hotel in downtown – to have a cocktail and snack.  The restaurant at the hotel is Porter and Frye…very hip, very elegant yet relaxed.  My cocktail:   “Lover, You Should Have Come Over”.  A fabulous blend of raspberry syrup, Effen Vodka, Lime and Ginger Beer garnished with fresh raspberries and mint.  It was absolutely delicious!  We shared 2 snacks 1)  Pommes Juliet and 2)  Berkshire Terrine

The Pommes Juliet were definately not your average french fries.  Hand-chopped golden brown fries topped with parmesan cheese and and a drizzle of the ever-so-yummy truffle oil.

A Berkshire Pig

A Berkshire Pig

Whenever I see any terrine on a menu it is a must order.  This one was soooo worth it.  My first question “What is the Berkshire in this terrine?” and as it turns out Berkshire Pigs are a rare breed of pig originating from Britain and are said to be “Britain’s oldest pig breed”.  You can’t go wrong with pork TK and I agreed, and we were right…a perfectly seasoned pork frosted with potato butter (never heard of this before) and garnished with radish and celery leaf; served with smoked golden raisin puree, violet stone ground mustard, and pickled shallots.  We enjoyed every bite and have recommended it to anyone that will listen to us talk.

Of course being the lushes that we are, by the time the food came along we were done with round 1 of cocktails so we had the bartender recommend something to go with the fries and Terrine.  What she recommended was honestly one of the BEST white wines I have ever had.  From the Penedes region of Spain this wine is made by Gramona Winery and is a white blend called Gassami.  Seriously, try this wine it blew both of us away!

After the fabulous experience at Porter and Frye we strolled down to a jazz club called Rossi’s and listened to a rock-a-billy band.  Located underground Rossi’s reminded me of somewhere people would have hung out during prohibition – a speakeasy.  Brick walls, dark green leather booths, black and white photos of old Hollywood.  Here we enjoyed a beer and a slice of Martini pizza – basically an Alfredo pizza dotted with sliced green olives.  Simple yet oh so good!

We ended the night at The Local.  An Irish pub on the main drag of lots and lots of happy hour bars.  My favorite part about this place was in the back they had a Kissing Booth.  Yes, a room with saloon-like doors where people can sneak in and get a little!  Enjoyed one more beer and then called it a night!

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A Night out in Minneapolis

May 5, 2008 at 8:57 pm (Travel) ()

I do love the Midwest.  It is charming, clean, and the people are well…just plain friendly.  They say “Hi” to you on the street.  They invite you to sit with them at bars.  They open doors and help you put your coat on.  Things that can happen in California, but it is a rarity.

The other night one of my Minneapolis buddies took me on a mini food crawl.  We started out at a place called Psycho Susie’s Motor Lounge (per my request since I had seen the place mentioned on the Food Network.  Psycho Suzi’s used to be an A&W Drive-In and has been converted into a  tiki bar serving up all kinds of interesting drinks and treats.  I enjoyed a libation called The Suffering Bastard – served in a cute little tiki glass and made from various boozes, spices and mixers.  We each picked out a ” Pu Pu” to share and ended up with Potluck Pickle Roll-Ups and Barracuda Buffalo Wings.

I was a Potluck Pickle Roll-Up Virgin (to the delight of my tour guide.)  And wow, I was surprised that I did actually enjoy the little bites.  For those who don’t know what a Potluck Pickle Roll-up is picture this:  a thin slice of pastrami or corned beef, frosted with cream cheese and then rolled around a pickle.  Then slice into bite size pieces and serve on toothpicks.  Dee-liteful!  I hear they are a favorite at many a midwest gathering.

I will admit I have a buffalo wing obsession and try to eat them at as many different places as possible in search of – the perfect wings.  So of course when they presented themselves on the menu at Suzi’s I had to give them a try.  The Barricuda Buffalo Wings had been marinated in tequila and beer and definately has a kick of heat.  Lots of flavor and not too much grease…they earned an 8 out of 10 in my book.

Psycho Suzie’s Motor Lounge
2519 Marshall Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
(612) 788-9069
Open everyday 11am-2am

The next place we visited was just across the way – Tony Jarro’s.  At Tony Jarro’s they are famous for two drinks called the “Pinkie” and “Greenie”.  I ordered the “Pinkie” and my friend ordered the “Greenie”.  The “Pinkie” is made from Vodka, Collins Mix and something similar to Grenadine.  It tasted like a Shirley Temple and I could see how someone could get very drunk if having more than one at a time.  The “Greenie” tasted like a Mt. Dew – which I used to drink tons of in highschool.  For a snack we decided on the mini-corndogs which were the best I have ever eaten.  A sweet cornbread type batter fried to a crispy perfection.  I dipped mine in plain yellow mustard.  It took me back in time to the bopping around the county fair during summer.

Tony Jaro’s
2500 NE Marshall St

Down the street we traveled to The Sample Room which has been a Saloon or Tavern since 1893 and was in a beautifully kept red brick building.  The menu here was a little more modern and not typical “bar food”.  At the Sample Room we enjoyed two more little snacks:
1.  Baked Stickney Hill Goat Cheese with Oven Dried Tomatoes and Basil Oil
2.  Pan-Fried Walleye Strips – a really meaty white fish that is local to Minnesota and can only be found in lakes.  The fish is available all year long, even during the long winters when people go ice fishing.

The Sample Room
2124 Marshall Street NE

There were a couple of additional places on Tom’s list, but after so much eating and drinking we decided to call it a night.  Until next time…


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The Yale Club

April 10, 2008 at 3:53 am (Travel) ()

So Mav and I are staying at the Yale Club in NYC.  Business attire required – to walk in, to have a cocktail, to probably just sneeze.  Really, I’ve been traveling for 2 plus weeks, business attire is not in my program.  Slothy is more my speed at this point.  Today I totally had a Mary Kate Olsen outfit on – 5 colors no harmony! 

Had a Prohibition Punch drink tonight and some SB for dinner.  At the hotel…

So I went to the bar to get a glass of SB and lo and behold, at the Yale Clube they have a pictue of G. W. Bush over the fireplace.  Really!  A portrait like he is some military commader from the Napoleonic wars…got my wine and went back to the room.  The portrait completely freaked me out!


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NYC vs. Italian Pizza

April 8, 2008 at 10:22 pm (Travel) ()

I really can’t say that the stuff where pizza originated is better.  Had some damn good pizza today this side of the Atlantic at a little restaurant on the Upper East side of NYC – Serafina.  The pizza was loaded with homemade mozarella, tomotoes and a layer of prosciutto…needless to say it was delicious!

In Italy my favorite pizza (because lets face it, I had it way more than once) had mushrooms and radicchio with fresh mozarella.  Simple, but delightful.

I really think the key is the fresh mozarella, not the kind of stuff you can buy in big plastic bags at Costco.


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La Dolce Vida

April 5, 2008 at 6:34 am (Travel) ()

Ahh, there is nothing quite like Italy.  Fast cars, late dinners, boys in beautiful suits.  Everyone is talking and smoking and drinking and eating.  I could get used to this, oh yes I could.

I am in Italy for a wine tasting, the second largest wine tasting in the world – VinItaly.  It is mind boggling.  Each Italian wine region has a BUILDING and each producer has a booth.  One booth that I saw was built to replicate a castle in Tuscany.  There are VIP rooms and food, I love it!  How many people might you ask? Just the entire population of St. Helena (yes 5,000 people) are bopping around. 

My favorite producer so far is Valle dell’Asso from the region of Puglia.  All of their wines are 100% organic and they produce a red wine called Negramaro which I had never had before.  The Il Macaro (the magic) is a dessert wine that they served with chocolate covered gorgonzola.  Sounds weird, but it was delicious!  Besides the wine being great, I love the logo of a little owl which was taken from a greek coin dating back to 350 BC – a symbol of the region.  I love the owl so much that if I were to get another tattoo, it would be him!

Thats all for now!  Got to shower and be on my way to taste some more wine!

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The Holiday – Day 8

March 31, 2008 at 12:48 pm (Travel) ()

So it´s day 8 of the trip and the current location is Tenerife, Espana.  An island in the Canaries that is closer to Africa than Europe.  An island full of sunshine and relaxation, so it was a much needed place after the hustle and  bustle of London.  Some sightseeing has been accomplished, but most of my day consists of sunning myself by the pool or ocean…it is heaven!

But, first things first I should recant my glorious 3 days in London.

London, sweet, sweet London.  For some DisneyWorld is the happiest place on earth – I have to disagree – for me it is London.  It is a city full of so much life and energy;  when I am there I feel truly alive.  My body tingles with anticipation at what I might discover…a new cuisine, a language I have never heard, a building that is 1,000 years old.  I can walk for hours through parks and museums, stopping at pubs for a quick bite and pint, then off to explore some new neighborhood.  Because each neighborhood has a secret or story to discover.  I could ramble on for hours about my LOVE for London, but it might get quite tedious so here is a breakdown of my 3 days:

Day 1 – The Arrival
No sleep on the plane,  makes for a very mushy brained Natalie.  Enjoyed first English breakfast – not for the light-hearted!  This consists of two fried eggs, bacon, sausage, beans, fried tomato, and toast.  Walk through Kensington Park (for those Princess Diana fans this is where here palace was).  Tour of British Museum.  Fish and Chips for lunch.  Walk around Covent Garden and SoHo (Red Light District) where we paid a visit to no less than 5 Pubs.  After 36 hours of being awake an early bed time.

Day 2 – 1,000 Years of History
Walking, walking, walking.  Through two parks and five neighborhoods.  Along the way we saw Harrod´s (the famed department store) and Buckingham Palace.  Tour of Westminster Abbey –  3,300 people buried on the spot including Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots.  Lunch at oldest wine bar in the city dating back to the 1500´s.  Saw the “sights” in the city of Westminster like the House of Parliament and Big Ben.  Pub Tour – visited 6 historical pubs in the “City” of London.  FYI – the “City” is the original area where the walled city of London was in medieval times.  It is now the financial center of London.

Day 3 – The City
Tour of St. Paul´s Cathedral – the spot where Princess Diana and Prince Charles got hitched.  Visited the Tower of London – my favorite spot.  A castle dating from the 11th Century.  It has it all…Traitor´s Gate, the place where Anne Boleyn got here head chopped off, the big black ravens.  Legend has it that the Ravens occupied the hill before the Tower was built.  If they ever fly away, the Tower will collapse and so will the British Empire!  A lot riding on the backs of those black birds.  A visit to more historic pubs across the river and dinner near Borough market.  Yummy English oysters!

So that´s it.  A highly condensed version of 3 extremely action-packed days that left me a tired little girl.  Needless to say, it was all worth it.  Worth every bloody pound spent, and blistered feet, and walking through the snow.  I would gladly do it tomorrow, especially after my little holiday in Tenerife.

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