Things to do on a Quick Trip to New York

Streets of New York // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comI love New York!  I was beyond excited that we got to stay in the city for #PuffDay14.  Tori and I discussed the trip before hand and we both knew that we wanted to pack in as much stuff as possible no matter how tired we were.  Mostly this meant we wanted to eat a lot.  I figured out that we had about 15 hours of awake time in the city that was all ours.  And I really think we did make the most of it.  There are a lot of things to do on a quick trip to New York and I’m sharing a few of my favorites. 

The St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in New York has super comfy rooms and beds // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAlthough I didn’t have anything to do with choosing the hotel (this was set up by the PR company handling the Puff Pastry event) it was awesome!  I highly recommend the St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in the Murray Hill area.  The neighborhood was pretty quiet but still had tons of stuff to do.  It was a close walk to Grand Central Station and a short taxi ride to La Guardia airport that I flew in and out of.  The rooms were spacious and comfortable and way larger than I was expecting for a hotel in New York.  

Gorgeous bathroom at the St. Giles Tuscany Hotel in New York // www.cupcakesandcutlery.comAnd the bathrooms were GORG!  Mine was very large and it was so well designed.  It had Molton Brown amenities and excellent lighting.


August 15 : Where to eat in Orange County, CA #IGTravelThursday

Where to eat in Orange County, CA You may remember from last Thursday that I started a new travel feature via a linky party with Skimbaco.  I never used to think of myself as a travel blogger but when I go through my year and my instagram feed, I get around.

Today I wanted to share my favorite spots to eat at in Orange County, CA.  If you are coming from out-of-town, I think these are some of the best places in my county.  And if you are from here, well, then you KNOW just how amazing these places are.

Starting from the top left, moving right:

Baskin Robbins : Yes it is a nationwide chain, but sometimes you just need a consistently good ice cream sundae.

Dave and Busters at the Outlets at Orange (previously The Block) : I recently got to eat a ton of their new menu and it is SO good!  Then go play the games with your adult friends and act like kids or take your kids and watch them play in pure joy.  Get the chocolate fondue for dessert.

Lucca Cafe : My new favorite restaurant.  Small plates for sharing allow you to try a number of dishes.  The food is great, the wine is delicious and the atmosphere is easy and relaxed.  I can’t wait to try their brunch!

Paul Martin’s at The Irvine Spectrum : A great place for a good burger and a yummy drink.  With the entrance being on the outside of the Spectrum, it seems like it is less crowded at peak times than some of the other restaurants.  Which is great for me since I really enjoy the food and the service is always great.

Sidecar Doughnuts : See my post on these delicious gourmet donuts and then go grab a few dozen for yourself.

Cucina Enoteca at The Irvine Spectrum : An absolute favorite.  I have had many a lunch on the patio with friends and date nights here.  My favorite is the Gorgonzola Walnut Mousse served with toast, the Giant Meatball and their Moscow Mules.

In-N-Out : This is the first place the locals take their out-of-town guests.  Good quality hamburgers and friendly service in the iconic red and white retro-ish buildings.

Mesa at The Camp : This is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Orange County.  I’ve been lucky enough to try most things on the menu and they are all spectacular.  My fave appetizer is the Tempura Green Beans, my fave salad is the Heirloom Apple Salad and you should totally get the Short Ribs for your main course.  The desserts are down played here but have been some of the best I’ve had in my life and change pretty frequently.  They favor artisanal cocktails and the atmosphere is truly something special.  With a retractable roof, video projection system and live music most nights of the week, this is something that must be experienced.

Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar : See my tasting menu experience and then go check it out for yourself.  I’m a huge fan of the chef, Greg Harrison, and General Manager, Jim Colombo, who have updated not only the menu but attitude of the restaurant and dining experience.  For sure try the Pimm’s Cup and let the staff guide your ordering for a truly memorable night.  Also check out their gastro-pub next door, Side Door.

Now, go follow my friends Lala and Nicole and see what their posting for #IGTravelThursday this week.  And follow along with some of the organziers :  House of Anais, Hines Sight, and Luxury Travel Mom.


Mother Daughter Weekend Trip to Palm Springs

saguaro in palm springsA few weeks ago my mom and I took a mother/daughter trip to Palm Springs.  Her parents, my grandparents, retired out in the desert.  I think that is one of the reason’s that I love that area.  And my mom hadn’t been out to the actual Palm Springs area in about 10 years.  So we decided to head out on a Sunday for two nights of rest, relaxation and yummy food.  I’m going to warn you.  This post pretty much only contains food.  No joke.  We got in to town right at lunch time on Sunday and since I had never been to the Saguaro, I thought we should have lunch there.

Duck queso fundido at El Jefe at SaguaroMy mom is a very safe eater.  And by that I mean that she will usually only order what she has had before and knows she will like.  While I am not a very adventurous eater, I definitely like to try new things.  So she got crazy and let me direct most of the ordering.  At first she turned her nose up at my suggestion of this Duck Queso Fundido at El Jefe but it was delicious!  And I think it really showed her that she doesn’t need to be afraid to try something.  I’m not sure why I find this so funny but I have no idea how I turned out willing to try new things coming from a lady that never did!!

Tacos at El jefe at Saguaro Palm SpringsEl Jefe has a lot of tapas style plates to choose from so to go with our melted cheese, we opted for some tacos as well.  How gorgeous is that presentation!!

alcazar hotel palm springsI had been wanting to stay at the Alcazar for a while and was so glad to finally have the opportunity.  I’m going to do a full review over on The Trend Tribe soon so I will be sure to point you over there when it is up.  What I will mention here, though, is that the location is kind of amazing for this kind of a weekend.  The Alcazar is located in the North end of town near Trina Turk and all the home design stores.  There are two restaurants that are sort of part of the hotel but there as well as a few other great options in the area as well.  What we loved about this is that you could walk to dinner, have a few drinks and then walk back.  No one had to drive and you could immediately return to the room and get in to pajamas.  Wild, I tell you.

relaxing in hotel room in palm springsIf we weren’t eating, we were doing this.  I read probably about 10 magazines in those two days.  And luckily my mom enjoys Bravo as much as I do.  She really likes “that Nene.”

alcazar palm springs walkway to birba and cheekysI had been hearing amazing things about both restaurants run by the hotel, Birba and Cheeky’s, but every time we had come to Palm Springs in the past, both had been closed.  For the first night, we walked down a short path to the Birba.

arugala and fried garlic salad at birbaThe weather was amazing!  High of 85 and sunny!  We started with the Tricolore Salad that had fried garlic and was tossed in the most delicate olive oil and lemon juice for dressing.  YUM!

dinner at birbaMy mom hates to have her picture taken but I managed to sneak her in as I was trying to take a photo of the rest of the patio (PS, this restaurant is pretty much all patio – perfect for Palm Springs).

potato pizza at birba palm springsNext we shared a pizza topped with potatoes, a whole bunch of cheeses and pesto.  The crust was insanely good!  I totally want to go back to try more kinds of the pizza.  Had enough?  Click through to read more! 

Summer Vacation Memories – Arizona

I snuck away to Arizona for a few days earlier this summer.  I got to spend tons of quality time with one of my besties, Kayla, who lives far away from me in Texas, and just relax.  We got a little pool time in, had a spa treatment and then treated ourselves to a blowout at The Dry Bar.

Kayla has family in the area so she was familiar with some of the local establishments.  She knew I would love Windsor and she was right.  I think this might be my favorite restaurant of all time.  But it isn’t just a restaurant.  Attached is a fantastic ice cream/candy shop called Churn.  I mean, a black and white Beastie Boys photo and a bold graphic statement on the wall?  I didn’t want to leave.

If you follow me on Instagram (cupcakescutlery), you may remember this radtastic cassette tape wall.  So good.  This is in the hallway between the restaurant and the ice cream shop.  And maybe one day my home will have a wall very similar.  No where is that New Edition tape…

So Windsor and Churn got EVERYTHING right.  From the decor (succulents, plaid chairs, rustic cool tables, the aforementioned tape wall and who knew that branded toilet paper could be so cool?), the music (like first wave awesomeness including but not limited to The Police, David Bowie, etc.), cocktails (inventive, flavorful and refreshing) and service (the servers were the coolest of the cool without any pretension – so refreshing coming from Orange County).  And then there was the food.  We only got appetizers but gosh dang were they good.  Mark my words, fondue is coming back in a big way (a bit modernized and not your traditional swiss but delightful variations) and Windsor’s version did not disappoint.  We also tried their corn dog poppers and the mac and cheese but my FAVE dish was the nachos.  They were homemade potato chips with caramelized onions, bacon and cheese.  Like, whoa.  I really didn’t have room for dessert but I had to try some of the coffee ice cream at Churn.  While there I picked up some little souvenirs for my baby boys back home.

There are two things that Rachel Ray has taught me.  1) It takes me an hour to make her 30 minute meals and 2) Always ask locals for restaurant recommendations.  Our server from Windsor told us about Orange Table and told us they made the best corned beef hash.  She was not wrong.  But I had to add in a sweet element too with banana nut french toast.  And the coffee drinks?!  The Mexican Mocha was phenomenal.  They have a full bar so this is certainly not just a breakfast spot.  Next time I go for a weekend I will be staying at The Saguaro which is across a little courtyard from this restaurant.  And then I’d probably never leave the area by car.  Who wants to go with me?

Kayla is my foodie pal and lets me indulge in all kind of fattening naughtiness.  We passed this cupcake shop on the way to my very first Hobby Lobby experience and knew we were going to have to go back and check it out.  21 Cakes is gorgeous.  From the marble to the calm colors and ghost chairs they had at their communal cupcake eating table, I kind of wanted to move in.  I loved the vintage cupcake pans set in the wall.  Such a cool touch.  Oh yeah and the cupcakes were delicious too.  We got a salted caramel and peanut butter chocolate.  YUM!  And it is no wonder that I need to go on a diet because our very next stop was to Sprinkles Cupcakes.  We had promised Kayla’s mom we would bring some for her.  We couldn’t tell her no, right? :)

I fell in love with these places on my short visit and can’t wait to go back again!  Where do you love to go in Scottsdale/Phoenix?