Flavor Packed Cuisine and Creative Cocktails @Rooftop120

Rooftop 120 is a magical place.  It feels like a slice of somewhere much further south, where tropical cocktails flow freely, people dine out doors, and the food is infused with Caribbean flavors.  I had the pleasure of being invited in, not once, but twice! (blessed) in the past couple weeks.

Visit the first: a Martini Lab with the always entertaining Tyler Devecchis and Top Liquor Queen, Nadine Gengras:

spring fling rooftop 120

Pssst.  there is another one coming up on April 6th!  Call the number above to reserve seats and do so quickly – it will most likely sell out quickly.

A big, friendly crowd gathered for this pink themed event to mix cocktails and eat delicious food created by head chef Xavier Santiago

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A big, rowdy crowd.  Not saying this was Girls Night Out because there were plenty of men present, but I sat at a table of all women – none of whom I knew – and was very entertained by the group (I was the quiet one – that’s a rare thing indeed).  Great night.

Pictured above: the starting cocktail Strawberry Martini with Ultimat Vodka

We mixed this ourselves (martini lab) I made a big mess.  My glass was not full.

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Looks easy right?  Well, I’m a klutz.

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Food pairing: strawberry and feta salad

Isn’t the color great?  The green dressing offset the sweet strawberries quite nicely.  Pink food and pink drink – quite clever.

Next up: a delicious, scratch margarita

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Behold the flowing agave

This drink was great as we were able to control our level of tartness, and I went VERY tart, naturally

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Yum.  Patron Tequila, Agave, citrus.  Simple perfection.

Knowing margaritas are simple to make at home, why don’t I do this more often?  I should, particularly in the summer months.  Top shelf tequila doesn’t take much to coax out the flavor.  This paired quite nicely with course number two:

chicken and risotto

Chicken and risotto.  Texture was great, breadcrumbs were great, sauce was creamy, chicken well executed.  On point everything.

Last course, dessert: DONUTS

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Teeny eeny bitty donuts with barely any calories.  Or so I told myself!  And strawberry milk.

I finished the donuts.  I’m not proud, but I did.  I passed on the last cocktail however – two full drinks is enough for me!

I enthused to Xavier about his food (particularly the risotto) so he invited me back to sample a couple of his other dishes that he is very proud of (thanks Xavier)

rooftop 120 final picture

PLUS I got to hang with Tyler and drink a Pineapple Mojito (Cruzan White Rum/lime/mint/simple syrup/sour mix/soda/pineapple juice).  Oh what a time to be alive.

Xavier made three dishes for me.  One of them was kidnapped by my boyfriend (the salmon – I sampled it, before he ate it).  The other two I polished off myself, in one evening, without any real plans on finishing them.  They were just… so good you guys.  The appetizer in particular.  I will never return to Rooftop 120 without ordering it.

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Appetizer: Loaded “Potato” (House Mad Gnocchi/Pickeled Onions/Pickled Jalapeno/Sour Cream/Bacon/Scallions/Vermont Cheddar Bechamel)

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Squid Ink Spaghetti “Thai” style (Gulf jumpo shrimp/ confit tomato/shaved garlic/Thai bird chili/San Marzano Tomato sauce)

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“Everything” Salmon (Butternut Ginger Puree/lemon creme fraiche/grilled scallions/picked red onions)

So there you have it.  Now is the PERFECT time to visit Rooftop, as their patio space is one of the best around.  Soak up the warm weather, have a cocktail, enjoy a little nosh.  Highly recommended.

 

 

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Time for Nolcha and the New England BBQ Championships

Fashion week is here.

The most wonderful time of the year.

nolcha

I’ll be very excited to attend Nolcha again this fall, which I did and recapped in the middle of the frozen winter and recapped here.   This year’s shows will be on September 12th, and it will be wonderful to attend them and just marinate in new and innovative creative from some truly talented up and coming designers, hurrah.

Speaking of innovation – let’s take a look at Bear’s Smokehouse first ever New England BBQ Championships shall we?  But before we do – let’s discuss that this event which took place last night, with the professional judging and awards ceremony happening today.

It was an opportunity to experience a true BBQ throw down from some of the best local pit masters in the area.  A fundraiser, with 100% of the profits from the event going to Riverfront Recapture.  Little baby cupcakes from Nora and craft beer samples from many great local spots.  All set against the serene backdrop of the Connecticut River.  Cool yes?  But they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this photo recap of the event.

And a special shout out to Jamie, photographed in the first picture below, and his wife, Cheryl (not pictured), for their  continued efforts to bring not only great BBQ to the state, but to usher in cool events and do good while doing so.

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riverfront 5

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riverfron 8

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Last but not least – this is entirely unrelated to the post – but I took Penelope to Flamig Farm earlier in the day and snapped this picture, and I’m a proud mommy so I have to share it:

riverfront 1

Best

Savor CT, Penelope’s Birthday, and some fun upcoming happenings!

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Greetings friends!  Penelope’s second ballet performance is fast approaching.  We are going to see Gwendolyn and the Graceful Pig on May 2nd, with the Ballet Theater Company.  It will be ever so exciting to explore a dance interpretation of the story of a “pig like no other,” with performances at 1 pm and 7 pm (we are going to the earlier one, naturally)  Tickets are available here.  More to follow on this – and also on the March of Dimes Walk for Babies, which will be my first 5k of the year, and my first ever 5k with a stroller, as Penelope will be joining me for that too!  Hurrah.  Fun times ahead, beautiful May weather, and April hasn’t been so bad either.  Some of the highlights of this month:

Savor CT at the Connecticut Convention Center

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Pictured: Emily Cahill perusing the wine selection with an expert eye

This wonderful event featured top chefs from the region, as well as celebrity chef Robert Irvine out walking the floor (I didn’t speak with him personally but those who did assured me that he is an awfully nice gentleman).  Some of the local favorites present included:

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A “Turducken” pate from On20, courtesy of the very talented Jeff Lizotte!  Side note – I”ll also be at On20 this Friday for Happy Hour and writing up a full recap of the experience here too – very excited as I’ve never been to their happy hour before, just dinner and small plates at events.

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Pictured: a Swiss Chard Dumpling – also from On20 – my favorite bite from the entire evening!  Although that had stiff competition from the offerings of Scott Miller, Head Catering Manager of the Max Restaurant Group.  He produced a very wonderful lamb tartar

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Pictured here, with his signature edible florals which add both a bitter tang and a lovely visual element to his dishes.

Also delicious on the casual front, mini sliders from both Plan B Burger Bar:

 

plan b burger

 

And Bear’s BBQ!

bears brisket

Millwrights was present with the entire crew:

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Heeey Tyler

And there were countless more – too many to sample all of them unfortunately.  We attended the event on Friday night, and it would actually make sense to go Friday and Saturday in order to fully enjoy the entire experience.  And I haven’t even started on the wine yet!

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So much wine.

We sampled many Italian and French blends – mainly because that’s what I gravitate towards.  And by “we” I mean myself and my lovely friend Amanda, all decked out for a Mom’s Night Out without the babies!

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yaaaas.

Towards the end of the evening, we ventured over to the Rose Lounge.  Next year, i would certainly do this first, as it turned out to be only a single ty;e of Rose – Chandon to be precise

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It was utterly delightful, however with just one type, I would have preferred to start out with a glass or two before moving into the sampling.  I was picturing more of a champagne tasting with small pours – ah well – no complaints either way.

We capped out the night with a visit to the 90 Plus Cellars table, to sip some Rose and get ready for the awesome Rose Cruise this summer!

90 plus w glasses

The glasses are a requirement.

So, that was fun, but Penelope’s 2nd birthday was even better – for obvious reasons.

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Obvious, adorable reasons

mommy baby

birthday princess spread

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Nora Cupcakes graciously allowed us to host her princess party in their back room, and we enjoyed Bear’s BBQ, many, many cupcakes, and many, many adorable children.  I can’t believe my little girl is two years old already!  Such a beautiful, perfect princess.  Mommy is so proud.

 

We ate all the meats @BearsSmokehouse and it was glorious

Bear’s Smokehouse has been wowing the residents of Arch Street for several months, as well as operating a small location in Windsor for over a year.  The transition from a piece of counter top space to two large and gorgeous locations can’t have been an easy one – but Jamie and his family handled it like pros, and the soft opening of their new space in Windsor last Saturday went off without a hitch.

p next to vip sign

Penelope realized after we arrived that she left her wallet in her other purse – but thankfully all the delicious BBQ was FREE!

Jamie invited us in to sample his menu, and it was a good chance to bring P along, as its a very kid friendly venue and vibe – and what kid doesn’t love mac and cheese?

p w her dessert

Not to mention peach cobbler.  This was her favorite and she insisted on eating it all by herself.  Like a Big Girl

My good friend, Amanda, chose the smoked chop special
smoked pork chop

Meeeeat

And I selected my most favorite Mac Attack (actually – second favorite – my heart belongs to the Burnt Ends on the Bear’s menu – but who doesn’t love mac and cheese?  I got a version of the mac attack today with pork.  Again.  Mmmm)

bbq and merlot

Paired with a very nice mini bottle  of blue label Francis Coppola Merlot.  Great pairing and a great wine for a BYOB event

There were many friends out and about that night – including one of my favorite bloggers, Jenna from CT Ain’t So Bad

ze gang yaaas

Always nice to see you and your crew Jenna.  🙂  And hey!  There’s Jamie on the far left.  Thanks so much for the great meal Jamie!

Oh and we DID get the requisite girl ‘shoe pic’ on our way out – early due to P’s bed time – but how cute are her toddler sneakers in this picture?  I just can’t:

SHOE stitch

So classic.  So necessary

It’s wonderful that Bear’s new location is only minutes from our house.  We will be back often, and you should go to.  There’s nothing wrong with really, really good BBQ with all the fixings.

@marchofdimesct Signature Chefs Auction at the Riverview in Simsbury

Man oh man.  Black coffee and blogging at 6 am?  This is the LIFE.  In other news, I don’t recognize the productive morning person I am becoming.  But, faced with a super busy week (husband out of town traveling, our black tie 250th gala tonight, hair appointment at Blo for said gala during my lunch break) I am fitting things in where I can, as one does as a mommy, a blogger, and a working professional.  And that includes setting my alarm an hour and a half early in order to recap the amazing time Leeanne and I enjoyed at the Riverview in Simsbury last week, for the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Gala!  If you missed this one, there will be another in Fairfield on November 5th too – right around the corner.

a recipe for healthy babies

A recipe for healthy babies!  Awwww

Let’s back up for just a minute and look at what the March of Dimes accomplishes.  They are the premiere charity dedicated to eradicating, whenever possible, premature delivery (which leads, naturally to health complications for mamas and their babies) as well as for providing the best possible care for preemies?  What a good cause, is my point.  I was honored to get an email requesting I attend the event as a blogger, and I did receive a free ticket (plus a guest – ie/ the lovely Leeanne) from the charity.

selfies with leeanne ftw also rizuttos cocktail

A rare Leeanne selfie.  I’d like to thank Suzie Hunter for making this possible

The Signature Chef’s Auction takes place annually, with a bunch of big hearted chefs joining forces to offer gourmet bites of food and small samples of cocktails, while guests mingle and enjoy a silent and live auction:

mickey mouse

I didn’t bid, but if I had, it would have definitely been on this Disney experience package.  So fun.  P is excited to meet Mickey Mouse.  Someday (soon) it’s going to happen.

In addition to the silent auction, guests enjoyed a live bidding, which Leeanne and I unfortunately missed as we were both tired and didn’t stay for more than an hour or two, although we thoroughly enjoyed circling the gorgeous Riverview space during the time that we were present, and saying hello to a bunch of our friends who were there working the event:

plan b

Starting with Plan B burgers.  Quite simply the best.  I snatched a ‘to go’ second burger on the way out because I’m obsessed and they were quite kind about my greed, ha.  Also, mini is the perfect size/shape for a burger, in my opinion, and I love that Plan B will make any of their regular burgers with toppings into minis upon request in their restaurants!  OK, end burger rant.

Having started with beef, we moved onto seafood:

bobby vs

Seared tuna FTW

The above delicate bite was from Bobby V’s, an upscale sports bar and lounge located in Windsor Locks:

sweet set up and bobby vs

Kudos for the signature table settings too!  Very cool.

Next up, we sampled a delectable and complex serving of short rib stuffed in pepper from Barcelona:

barcelona peppers

So very pretty

Side note: Leeanne seriously has a photographic memory when it comes to dishes/ingredients.  I was having difficulty taking notes and balancing the plates (plus I was distracted/excited by all the wonderful food and cute baby photos) and she repeated all the ingredients to me, which was seriously nice and also seriously impressive!

march of dimes leeanne photo

And she took this nice picture of the back of my dress/necklace detail!  She is the best

In addition to the food stuffs, there were plenty of libations being poured.  Our friends at Onyx are always nice to see out and about:

linley

The lovely Linley pouring several options for the Onyx (my favorite was the cider/apple Onyx combo – so very good)

Another high note for drinks came form Rizutto’s, who were present with a lovely bite of braised lamb and parsnip/potato mash:
risottos plate

Yum.

Paired with it was a really delightful cocktail called “The Orchard.”  I didn’t snap a picture of it and the event, but I may or may not have ordered a full sized version of the same drink at lunch today:

the orchard

The Orchard – house infused apple vodka, Lillet, sage garnish

So yes, very very nice.  We also enjoyed burnt ends sliders from Bear’s Smokehouse:

bears with burnt ends

Thanks Jamie – delicious as always

What goes well with BBQ?  Beer, naturally.  And Hooker Beer was conveniently located next to Bears (nice placement)

hooker beer selection

I sampled the Munich Style – even tho Watermelon Ale is my favorite – it just seemed like a better seasonal choice (it was the right call, especially to pair with the burnt ends)

There were many more plates to try, but I was filling up fast, so I went straight to dessert and enjoyed a really, really, really, really good cookiewich from Taste by Spellbound:

taste by spellbound

Choose your cookie, choose your filling.  I did red velvet with maple frosting and regretted nothing

But let’s not lose sight of what the event was all about – a fundraiser to help babies!  There were plenty of adorable baby photos everywhere to make sure that was top of mind during the evening:

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Sooo cute

Thanks again to the March of Dimes for the invite.  I’ve been connecting more with the coordinators, and I’m looking forward to walking in their March for Babies Greater Hartford in 2015!

A Taste @RealArtWays #playnice with mixology @NIXSHartford and five awesome events in September

Greetings friends!  I am writing this on Labor Day from the wonderful Lost Acres Vineyard, which is way better, quite frankly, than Starbucks:

lost acres working

Not pictured: my delicious pumpkin whoopie pie from Lost Acres Orchard, which is right up the road!  Time for fall, yes?

Speaking of autumn and local farms – I’ve rounded up some of my favorite, upcoming September events and they are listed below for your viewing pleasure.  But first, a recap of some of my favorite happenings from the last couple of weeks!  Not going to go into a crazy amount of detail, but I did have a lovely birthday (at Lost Acres, obviously), and my friend Emily hosted an equally lovely cocktail party called “Dazed and Infused” because she and her boyfriend Nick are really clever like that:

 

penelope and alex

Drawing at my party with her BFF Alex from next door, sporting a fetching Unicorn Horn courtesy of Auntie Cait

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Enjoying the balcony at Emily’s party

Penelope attended both parties of course, although she was regrettably absent from two fun events her Mama got to finally try out this week (alas, not everything is 18 month old approved – topping the list are probably French films on cooking and VIP cocktail mixers – which is what I did at Real Art Ways (for their Taste series) and at Nixs (for the cocktail party!)

Taryn invited me to the Taste featuring Chris Prosperi, and I rapturously accepted her invite as I’ve been following this event closely since it’s first season (details here if anyone’s interested!)

with taryn

Taryn and I.  Ain’t we cute?

Basically, the premise behind this concept is: a cozy, food themed movie in Real Art Way’s hipster cinema (wine encouraged!) followed by a q and a and “taste” of small plates with the chef in question.  Fabulous!  This Taste paired the work of Chris Prosperi – a gazpacho and panzanella to be exact – with movie from the Inventing Cuisine series featuring French Chef Michael Troisgros.   The whimsical film featured an in depth portrayal of the inner workings of one of the best kitchens in France (with some ‘heavily staged’ scenes according to Mr Prosperi) and elaborate, beautiful shots of some elevated haute cuisine.  Michael’s stage presence – he is a regular guest on WNPR’s Faith Middletown Show – was in full force post film:

chris prosperi

Preparing the panzanella!

metro bis panzanella

A group pairing of the gazpacho and panzanella, with a card from Chris’ home restaurant, Metro Bis in Simsbury

The next show is on September 29th will host Rachel Carr, of Six Main for a farm to chef, vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian evening.  Tickets are on sale here!  Highly recommended for the cerebral foodie who really appreciates the intellectual and visual aspects of cuisine.

Real Art Ways was one of the first Hartford venues I really experienced upon moving here through their Creative Cocktail Hour.  It was, therefore, from beloved old to shiny new to go in the course of a week from an event at RAW to a cocktail mixer at Hartford’s newest sexy newcomer – NIXs.  This Boston chain features a slick chandeliered, mirrored, pirated up interior (seriously, go check it out) creative, delicious mixology, and a nice offering of seafood entrees:

raw bar

Hello there, $1 happy hour raw bar!

I met my good friend, JC, at the bar, where she had discovered a $6 martini special which I promptly ordered too (in spite of the free cocktail samples circling the party – it was too good to pass up!)

cocktail with happy hour menu

Clementine vodka, grapefruit juice, triple sec, prosecco.  Heaven.

Next up: circling the cocktail party, playing nice with good friends, and trying every cocktail in sight!  Rich Clemens is the head Bar Manager at Nixs.  JC and I both know him from Tisane, and we did nerdly bonding over his Dr Who inspired “Bad Wolf” cocktail
nixs cocktails pouring

Fresh lemon juice, orange juice, Redemption Rye Whiskey, and honey simple syrup.  Plus this awesome quote: “I wanted to make a cocktail that is extraordinarily sexy like Billy Piper but badass like a pissed off Tardis.”  I can’t even.

Another personal favorite of mine was the Tequila Mockingbird (more clever names, yaaas):

pouring the watermelon one

“Alabama Slammer” style with silver tequila, slept gin, amaretto, lime juice, and orange juice

But the majority of people I talked to named the pretty Beach Please as their favorite:

nixs cucumber cooler

Pineapple vodka, cucumber juice, agave nectar, lime juice, and sparkling coconut water

I have pretty rampant ADHD and between the shiny chandeliers and the cocktails, I missed almost all of the food pairings

deviled egg

It was delicious.  But lonely.

So I most definitely need to go back to NIXs pronto to try more food offerings.  Fortunately, the new Bear’s Smokehouse is right around the corner, so JC, Rachael, and I headed over there for delicious BBQ.

rachael eating bbq

Rachael demonstrating great street eating skills with her Mac Attack.

Truly, a week full of Hartfordy goodness.  And there’s so much more coming up in September!  Below are five events I’m really looking forward to:

Open Farm Day in Granby: This is the epitomy of a family friendly event.  Grab the kids (or the dogs, or both) and head out to the farms in Granby for a day of expos, samples, and general wholesome earthy goodness.  From the goat cheese at Sweet Pea, to the fresh organic garlic at the Garlic Farm, to the peach cobbler at Lost Acres Orchard, to a free sample of wine at Lost Acres, you’ll have a good time and support local agriculture.  And bring the reusable tote you usually cart to the farmers’ market, because there will be plenty of fresh produce and other goodies for sale.

Taste of the Suburbs – our restaurant week featuring prixe fix menus of awesome deliciousness.  I’m currently in the throes of agony trying to decide between 50 West and El Pulpo.  Heavy stuff man.  Other strong, noteworthy contenders and favorites: Esca, Max’s Oyster Bar, Millwrights and Vinted.  Pick one – or two! and go enjoy between September 8 -21st.  Reservations strongly recommended.

Urban Challenge – West Hartford! You probably need to burn some calories after all the delicious feasting at restaurant week.   Why not do it the FUN way on September 19th – working in teams of two to decipher clues about local West Hartford stores and dashing from place to place ahead of some fierce competition!  And I mean ‘fierce’ in the most fashiony way, as dressing up is encouraged and Carolyn and I will be participating and BRINGING IT.  Early registration is strongly encouraged as the event will sell out. 

Harvest Party Dinner at Lost Acres  We attended this dinner last year and it was a blast.  Penelope and I picked grapes in the morning (which is totally free and a thing you can also do the day of if so inclined) and then headed back for a farm to chef dinner with Mike that evening, complete with many samplings of Lost Acres blends.  This event is also anticipated to sell out, so pre-registration is a good idea.

The Colin McEnroe Show’s Fifth Year Anniversary!  Attention, WNPR nerds.  The Colin McEnroe Show is turning 5 and YOU are invited as a fellow fan to celebarte at Infinity Hall in Hartford.  For the low price of $5 a person, come enjoy your favorite radio personalities and hobnob with hipsters (let’s just be realistic about that being a thing that will happen) at the gorgeous new Infinity Music Hall and Bistro in Downtown Hartford.

So that’s what I’ll be up to in September, and I hope many of you will join me!  Any cool events I missed?  Leave them in the comments please xo

 

 

 

The Cooper, the Keys, and the Baby Mermaid

Before we dive into my vacation recap, let me invite all of you to visit my new blog project for Share Our Strength: Taste of the NationLeeanne and I recently attended a fundraiser dinner at Millwrights for the charity, and my write up is here.

Gah.  It’s already been a week since our trip to Florida.  Good thing we have another one coming up at Christmas – I love autumn, but the shorter, cooler days have snuck up way too fast this year.  Not to mention – every time we go back to Palm Beach Gardens, I seem to find more to love about our former home.  And now that The Cooper has joined the vibrant PBG restaurant scene – there’s even more to love!

those dates

This was my brother, Lucas’ reaction to the Cooper chorizo and manchego stuffed medjool dates.  Seems an appropriate lead in.  Also, please note the excellent math pun on his t shirt (it’s a runner thinking about pi)

My BFF and compadre in arms always, aka my sister Helen, and I managed to go to the Cooper twice in the week I was in Florida (she’s since been back by herself, because of course she has).

sisters the cooper

Photo from our first night

me menu

Cheesy, happy menu shot

cooper cheese plate glamour shot

Cheese plate the second – we ordered cheese plates both trips.  This one featured, from left to right: Manchego, Hudson Valley Camembert, and Moliterno al Tartufo.

The first time we visited, we had to leave early to get back to baby Penelope – so we packaged up our food to go, including this excellent salad:

peach salad

Grilled Peaches & Point Reyes Blue Cheese

This tangy gazpacho:

gazpacho glamour shot

Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho

And, of course, the aforementioned dates.  We DID have time to sip and savor a couple cocktails however:

cooper cocktail 2

“Bees Knees” martini: Citadel Gin, honey syrup, lemon juice

cooper cocktail 1

Name Dropper “Modified Sour:” Plymouth Gin, St Germain, grapefruit and lemon juices

Our second visit also marked a happy, lively meeting with head bartender and CT native (as if the beard wasn’t a dead give away! ha!) David Bouchard

chartreuse bitches

He really likes chartreuse.  Don’t question it.  The man is a master

haha! cocktails

Seen here deep in his craft and also immersed in snarkology.  It’s always nice to meet a fellow snarkologist.

The shot above pictures David mixing our agreed upon favorite cocktail:

cooper cucumber cocktail

Cucumber Southside “Classic Sour:” Hendrick’s Gin, simple syrup, citrus, muddled mint, cucumber

The cocktails at The Cooper are quite up to par with the other Max locations in CT – thanks to David’s creativity and a menu which is influenced by a Southern/Carribean vibe – much like the food menu – adding a unique, tangy Floridian twist to the Max flavors we know and love.  Quite nice!  Can’t wait to go back in December with Caitlin and Hannah.

There was more fun and delicious dining in the form of a brand new dining experience – Rosie’s Bar and Grill in Wilton Manors!  I was suitably excited upon being informed that: 1) this is a gay diner 2) valet parking only.  Seemed like an excellent start.  Plus, my good friend from college, Jana, does NOT recommend bad dining destinations.  Ever.

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Meeting Baby P for the first time!  With a nice photobomb from Julie and her boyfriend, Rob.

Rosie’s boasted many, many strong points: sassy tags on each of the servers’ shirt (our servers read: “there’s a fine line between hotness and hot mess) cool “see and be scene” crowd (that’s their tag line by the way at Rosies’ – it’s definitely a ‘Florida thing’), and enormous, delicious portions

brunch 1

No I did not eat this (enormous banana stuffed french toast)

brunch 2

But yes! I did eat this, and it was so very good (asparagus eggs benedict on a delectable home made biscuit)

The trip to Rosie’s worked out perfectly as it was on the way to one of my Dad’s favorite vacation spots in Key Largo – Ocean Pointe Suites.  This glorious timeshare boasts a location with is much more central than Key West which – although fun – is also a good three hours further by car (possibly farther depending on traffic).  It also has a lovely pool whose only flaw is a radio which is constantly tuned to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville channel (shudders), a nice little beach grotto, onsite bar, marina, tennis courts, and apartments complete with kitchenettes.

kayaking w baby

Kayaking with baby!

p on da beach

Exploring the beach!

sisters in the kayak

Sisterly bonding!

We also visited a cool Bird Sanctuary – ok – it would have been a bit cooler if it were not for the 6 million strong mosquito population – but P enjoyed herself nevertheless:

pelican and daddy

Penelope still enjoyed it!

And there were some more, notable foodie highlights in Key Largo:

fish and grits and mimosa

Fresh fish and grits at Mrs Mac’s Kitchen with $2 mimosas.  Now we’re talking

birfday cake

And the most amazing early birthday cake ever from my Grandmother!  Streudel on top, cheesecake in the middle, coffee cake on the bottom.  Oh my.

Thankfully, with all the delicious vacation foods, I also had a nice stash of Shakeology to keep me on track:

shakeology on the beach

Seen here in a glamour shot

There were also super healthy foods because my family is good like that too:

pineapple yogurt chobani

Grilled pineapple and chobani with granola.

Penelope spent as much of her vacation as possible in the water – indiscriminate between pool and ocean – she was fearless and oh so into it.  Few things are more enjoyable, as a parent, than watching your child really enjoy herself – so swimming with baby was definitely a highlight of the trip!

with swimmies

Let’s go!

The theme of “no let’s not leave the water, ever” continued up until our last night, at my Dad’s condo on Singer Island

swimming with grandpa

Swimming with Grandpa.  It’s the best

mommy babby

Someone did NOT want to pose for this picture but I got it anyway because I’m sneaky.  Plus P is wearing her beautiful Lilly dress from Silkworm!

So there you have it.  Our home away from home/second home – Florida.  Like many CT residents, we have deep roots in the state, and wonderful family and friends who we look forward to seeing again very soon!