Category Archives: Travel Feasts

Spanish/Latin American - Travel Beauty - Travel Feasts

All about my Costa Rica trip!

May 22, 2015

I’m still nostalgic over my trip to beautiful Costa Rica. Since then, I’ve had a few people asking me about details about what I did, and where I stayed so I figured I’ll do a round up here to make it easier on everyone ☺.

Poás Volcano



WHERE WE STAYED
(in order of day):
Double Tree Hilton (San Jose)

Lobby at the Double Tree in San Jose


Outdoor pool at the Double Tree hotel


Hotel Presidente (San Jose)

Hotel Presidente


Volcano Lodge (Arenal)

Welcome drinks at Volcano Lodge


Outdoor pools at the Volcano Lodge

Note: One place to avoid if you’re going to Arenal is Arenal Paraiso Resort & Spa. We kept coming back to our room to find animal droppings on our bed, so we had to shift over to Volcano Lodge really late at night.
Parador Resort & Spa (Punta Quepos/Manuel Antonio)

Parador Hotel


That view!


*This was by far our favorite hotel – beautiful heated pools, scenery, spa, and gym.
Club del Mar (Playa Jaco/Jaco Beach)

Club del Mar


Club Del Mar at night


WHAT I PACKED
:
Pack plenty of comfy workout clothes (I depended on leggings), sneakers (or water shoes) for rafting, and canyoning, and extra bathing suits. By the end, every single thing I brought was drenched. There was almost no day where we didn’t get wet, either from activities, or from light rainfall.


Toiletries
:
Travel shampoo
Moroccanoil serum (travel size)
Dove travel size body wash
Sunscreen (I brought Neutrogena’s and L’Occitane’s Jenipapo Oil with SPF 15 for all over just because it smells amazing)

Makeup
:
Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Waterproof mascara
Tarte Skinny SmolderEyes Waterproof Eye Liner
Becca Beach Tint (for lips and cheeks)
Revlon PhotoReady Insta-Fix Makeup


WHAT WE DID
:
Day 1 and 2
Visited the Doka estate to learn about how they pick and process coffee.

Doka Estate


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Showing the difference between different coffee roasts


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Botas Lagoon near Poás Volcano


Went to the active Poás Volcano which was probably one of the most beautiful natural beauties I’ve ever seen.

Hiking after Paos


Views on the way to La Paz


Stopping for fresh strawberries on the way


From there, we went on another hike to La Paz Waterfalls Garden.

On the way to see the waterfalls


Toucans!


Macaw amore


Butterfly garden


Midday showers right when we started eating lunch


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Mountain lion


Spotted jaguars


La Paz waterfall


Day 3
White Water Rafting on the Pacuare River with Rios Tropicales. I’ve never rafted before, but this three-hour journey was one of the most crazy and memorable things we did.

White water rafting with Rios Tropicales


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The river is a Class III-IV, which makes it pretty rough but the guides were excellent and took care of everyone (and yes some rafts flipped over – you have to be prepared for anything on the river!). When you have moments of calm, the scenery is breathtaking, and there’s even a part between canyons you can jump off the raft and swim.

One of my favorite parts of the experience -- rafting in this serene space between canyons

Day 4
Canyoning tour, hike in Arenal National Park, and an all night soak in hot springs in the Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort.

Canyoning was another fun trip for us. We were strapped into a harness and started from the top of a waterfall where we were taught to repel off the rocks and then led through a trail that consisted of unexpected submersion and what they jokingly called a Costa Rican tsunami:

Canyoning!


Where's Shy?


We changed the pace for the hike where we learned about the most famous Arenal Volcano, and were finally led straight to Tabacon’s hot springs. This was such a treat after all our hikes and rafting from the day before (which we were thoroughly sore from). The spa uses water that’s naturally heated from the Arenal volcano. It’s the most relaxing experience ever, plus they have a full buffet waiting for you after you’re done swimming.

Hike to Arenal Volcano before dipping in the hot springs


Day 5
Private transfer to Manuel Antonio, a beautiful beach town. I should note here that of all the physically demanding things we did, nothing got to me except this 5 hour car ride of winding roads and mountains. I almost got really car sick half way there, I had to switch places with the guy in front just because I was getting so dizzy. But anyway – the good part is we were greeted with cool watermelon juices and warm face towels right when we got to Parador Hotel. We had the day off to enjoy the pools at the resort. The second day we took a hike at the Manuel Antonio rainforest, where we got to spy on sloths, snakes, monkeys, lizards, and toucans. We ended the hike at a beach where we were able to rest and lay out for a little while.

Day 6

This was supposed to be our day off, but my friend Fatima and I visited the tour desk at the hotel and booked ziplining and horse back riding through the jungle. The horse back riding trail ended at the most beautiful waterfall where you can swim if you want (realistically there’s not a lot of space to swim, although the water is shallow enough if you want to try).

Zipling fun


Horse back riding


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Riding to waterfalls

Day 7 and 8
Jaco beach. This was supposed to be another beach day for us, but Jaco is more of a surfer’s beach. The water was at low tide when we got there, and it’s mostly dark sand and rocks. Here Fatima booked surfing lessons and I rented a boogie board for the day.

WHAT WE ATE
Most of our meals were included with the tour and we ate a lot of rice and beans, eggs, potatoes, and fresh fruits (pineapples, guavas, and watermelon), which I surprisingly never got sick of.

Burritos and nachos at Jaco


Fatima and I started a bad habit of having cake and tea every night at Parador too…

Nightly rituals


I also have been really recommending the tour company who put our itinerary and accommodations together so last minute for us – Lars at CRS Tours was amazing and on call whenever I needed him while I was there too. If you want to book your tour through them (at a very reasonable price), email him at lars.s@crstours.com (our Adrenaline & Relaxation package inluded bilingual guides, a SIM card for your phone, and plenty of meals).

Last sight on the way to the airport!

PURA VIDA!!



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Shy
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American - Breakfast/Brunch - Coffeehouse/Cafe - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Travel Feasts

Overly Caffeinated in DTLA: Handsome Coffee, Little Bear, and Stumptown

February 2, 2014

Since my friend Yasir moved to LA, he’s become quite the coffee connoisseur, and one place he couldn’t stop raving about was Handsome Coffee Roasters in the Arts District. I almost started to think if he could inject himself with their brewed coffee everyday, he would. Naturally, we had to check it out which ended into a whole day spent wandering around downtown LA.

Handsome coffee beans


Apparently coffee enthusiasts are in agreement that this is where you go for the best cup of coffee. They find the best beans from all over the world and roast it right behind the baristas on site. The menu is pretty minimal — you either get an espresso, an espresso with milk, or cold brew. No flavors, no decaf, no syrups, and definitely no sugars. For the inexperienced coffee-drinkers, this could be somewhat jarring. I felt a little bit of an outcast — I mean, I drink coffee and the most artisanal I’ve gotten was Stumptown, or Ninth Street Espresso, but Starbucks and all their fwancy white chocolate and gingerbread latte glory was what I frequent the most.

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Regardless, I followed directions, to avoid being met with a cocked ‘brow. The barista did help and said the coffee that comes with a 5 oz of milk is probably the most ‘balanced’ in regards to taste of the bunch.

Handsome Coffee espressos with milk

The coffee was delicious — not overly bitter, definitely not sweet, but just right. We settled on one of the communal tables with a new burst of energy and decided it was time to explore some of the graffiti-ridden murals outside. Oh and eat brunch.

Little Bear

We ended up at Little Bear, when we realized the nearby Urth Caffe wasn’t serving brunch anymore. Little Bear from what I read is known best for their Belgian beer (which basically means zilch to me). They also have Belgian food though!

Little Bear


Not sure if the decor was intended to make us feel like we're eating on a ship, but nonetheless..

We ordered an assortment of the Braised Short Rib Benedict (Borderlaise short rib, with poached eggs, hollandaise on an English muffin) Mushroom Scramble (crimini, shitake, oyster mushrooms, red onion, and pepper jack cheese), the Pro Scramble (egg whites, kale, peppers, garlic and grilled chicken, and The Cajun Waffle (a house made liege waffle, with Cajun fried chicken, country gravy, and crispy onions).

Short ribs benedict


Mushroom scramble


Pro Scramble


The Cajun (they put the country gravy on it first by mistake which had bacon)


The Cajun without said gravy

Yasir pretty much lost his mind over his short ribs benedict, and the waiter claimed their chicken and waffles is better than Rosco’s (noted, it comes on a candied waffle and fried, boneless chicken). We also learned that even though Danish will ask for no bacon, he’ll always end up getting it with extra bacon (in this case, in the gravy which explains the two pics above). They fixed it right away though. Sarah’s pro scramble dish was delicious and healthy, but I was more underwhelmed with my mushroom scramble and potatoes. I knew I would be though — I rarely order scrambled eggs when I go out to eat since I can make it so easily at home. Seems like all meat dishes were where it was at anyway. #fomo.

You would think by now we’d be full by now but Yasir decided it was time for caffeine shot numero dos (remember the shooting up comment earlier? I meant that). So we walked over to Stumptown.

Stumptown


Stumptown LA


Stumptown


Stumptown is one of my favorite places in NYC, but it’s funny having it after Handsome Coffee. It just didn’t compare IMO. It was a nice pick me up, but there is something a lot more potent at Handsome. Still ended up being an awesome day with a nice intro of what DTLA’s Arts District had to offer.

Have any of you been to any of these places? What did you think? Any other suggestions of what else to check out in the area next time?

Cafe/Restaurant info:
Handsome Coffee Roasters

582 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 621-4194

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

806 S. Santa Fe
Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 337-0936

Little Bear

1855 Industrial St, Los Angeles, CA 90021
(213) 622-8100
Downtown LA/Arts District

REPORT CARD
Meal: Brunch

Occasion: Exploring DTLA
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: **
Service: **
Would I go back?: Probably not for a veggie meal



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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Travel Feasts

The Attic in Long Beach, CA

January 29, 2014

At The Attic

{I’m going slightly out of order in my LA restaurant jaunts…} Right before heading to the airport, I went to Long Beach with some friends to visit Asma, another NY transplant. We walked around the coast and ended up at The Attic, a cute, homey restaurant on Broadway. We sat in the front, under a canopy of lights and tables painted by local Long Beach artists.

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The menu is a touch of southern hospitality in Cali with its American, Creole-style menu. We JUST missed brunch, but the dinner menu looked just as appetizing. We settled on The Napoleon (marinated and grilled portobello mushrooms stuffed with white bean puree, braised greens, caramelized onions, & grilled peppers over homemade herbed tomato sauce, topped with sour cream, and green onions), a veggie burger with cajun style fries and a side of berries, The Crabby Patty (crab patty, coleslaw, and tomatoes on an onion Bun); and the most beautiful invention yet: Mac N’ Cheetos — cheddar, mozzarella, jack cheese, with crumbled spicy Cheetos and green onions.

Mac N Cheetos


Mac n Cheetos


Crabby Patty


Veggie Burger


Side of fresh berries


The Napoleon


Cajun fries

The mac ‘n cheetos didn’t disappoint. It’s normally served with bacon, and we ordered it without which is probably where some of the flavor went. The macaroni and cheese itself was a little bland but the spicy hot cheetos helped that a lot. The rest of us loved our dishes.

The only complaint we had was even though the wait staff was extremely nice, the service was also extremely slow. I thought maybe it was the New Yorker in me who thought so, but our LA friend (hi Saba!) thought the same thing. After waiting almost an hour for our food, our waitress told us that everyone had come at once so things are a little slower than usual (and it looked like she was the only one tending to the patrons outside so it could have been an off-night). Our order was a little messed up when they brought us out extra fries which I pointed out. They still charged us for it, but took another 15 minutes to fix it. Still think the ambiance and food made up for it — and next time, I really need to try one of their desserts: mocha tres leches, molten lava chocolate cake, or banana bread pudding. I’m salivating thinking of it.


Restaurant Info:
The Attic

3441 East Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90803
(562) 433-0153
Long Beach


REPORT CARD
Meal: Dinner

Occasion: Visiting Asma!
Price: $$
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (they had plenty of tables for couples and groups alike)
Food: ***
Service: ** (could have been a little quicker)
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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Craving of the Day - Dessert - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Travel Feasts

If you’re ever in LA, you must try a Pizookie

January 23, 2014

Because it’s a warm chocolate cookie topped with ice cream and what more could you want in life?

A mini chocolate chip pizookie



PIZOOKIE: piz·zoo·kee noun
: a fresh baked cookie (white chocolate and macadamia nut, chocolate chip and many other flavors), with vanilla ice cream, served in a pizza style pan.


Restaurant Info:
BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse

Various Locations

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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Travel Feasts - Vegan - Vegetarian

Vegan dinner at Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, LA

Yesterday’s “Only in Cali” moment:
“Hey, what cuisine are you in the mood for tonight?”
“How about vegan?”

I can confidently say I’ve never had this conversation take place in all my years in New York (although, this suggestion did come from a former New Yorker so maybe it speaks more to his changing tastes). LA definitely has the upper hand when it comes to places with organic, fresh, or vegan fare. And you know what they say – when in Cali, do like The CaliFORnians.

Mohawk Bend


Inside Mohawk Bend

And so we found ourselves at the very hipster Mohawk Bend in Echo Park, which stands right at the intersection of Sunset and Mohawk. I’m pretty sure hipster places probably don’t like to be called hipster, but the gallery of facial hair here would only further my point. Anyway.

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A retrofitted 100-year old Vaudeville theater, the place kept a piece of their history and still looks theaterical with its warehouse skeleton, red curtains that opens up to a back area with a fireplace, stage lighting and even the illuminted marquee outside. The mix of booths, bar seating, tall tables and cushioney benches makes it nice for groups or more intimate get together. Or in this case, third-wheelin’ (my favorite).

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The menu looked promising which they change seasonally: Chili cheese fries, vegan burgers, buffalo-style cauliflower, brussels sprouts with roasted baby beet and spiced apple, candied walnut with crispy onions, and a whole list of brick oven vegan pizzas.

Brussels sprouts


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The buffalo-style cauliflower was tangy and paired perfectly with the ranch dressing it was served on. The brussels sprouts (if you like brussels sprouts and I happen to Love them) were amazing though I did notice there were no candied walnuts in the dish they served us.

Keep Abreast & Curry On pizza


For the third dish we got the Keep Abreast & Curry On pizza, with curried cauliflower, cashew cheese, onion, fennel, spinach, pomegranate, yellow curry, basil, and cilantro. Just so happened that this pizza was created for The Keep a Breast Foundation in LA – for each pizza ordered, they donate $4 to the organization. The curried cauliflower and basil made the pizza. So good.

The only place we went sort of wrong was the BBQ Tofu pizza, decidedly not our favorite. We took a chance to try something different over more familiar combos. This one had red onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, cilantro, smoked tofu, roasted tomatoes, and watercress. We failed to notice there was no cheese at all, which might have helped if we asked for some.

BBQ tofu pizza


But oh man, it was SPICY. Like mouth-burning spicy. And not sure if the sauce was really barbecue sauce, it tasted a little more like ketchup. Kind of ruined it for me, but forgivable since the rest of the meal was amazing and the ambiance sealed it for us.

PS Don’t miss the photo booth that’s set up in front! If this documentation of third-wheeling session with Yasir and Sarah below doesn’t scream #ForeverAlone, I don’t know what does.

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Restaurant Info:
Mohawk Bend

2141 Sunset Blvd,
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 483-2337
Echo Park


REPORT CARD
Meal: Dinner

Occasion: Trying something new!
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: ***
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!



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Shy
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American - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Healthy - Travel Feasts

Urth Caffe in Santa Monica. Also, LA, you win.

January 21, 2014

I get it, Cali. Your weather is amazing, your people are happy, and the food has been winning. So far from the winter blizzard going on in NYC, I’m trying my best to feel guilty, but I’d be lying if I don’t say I’m a tad bit relieved. I’ll save you the pretty beach pictures and screenshots of the weather (cuz, admittedly, that’s just not right), and skip straight to the food. When I came here years ago, my friend Natasha and Pat took me to Urth Caffe which is noted mostly for their organic coffee but their fresh food and decadent desserts are worth the trip too. I came to remember how much I liked the food then and wanted to check it out again so made a trip to the location in Santa Monica right off the plane. There was a line out the door (I thought I left those behind in NYC), but it moved fast enough. And honestly, it was worth the wait if you can get through the dizzying amount of options on their menu.

Rustic Poached eggs

For an early meal, we chose The Rustic Poached which comes over toasted whole wheat bread topped with capers, basil oil, tomato & red onion, and Butternut Squash and herbed ricotta pizza (that comes with a side of chili pepper oil, fresh oregano, and grated parmesan).

Butternut Squash and ricotta pizza


The oregano and ricotta made the pizza and the poached eggs with the salsa was a delicious medley of flavors. So fresh and yum. I also ordered a blended cappuccino (they ask if you want it dark or mild roast, hot or cold…I got it strong and cold :)).

Wait, does this count as a beach pic?


Tip, eat a meal here then go to the beach and rent some bikes. Just to remind yourself not to take this weather for granted. People in NY are suffering, OK.
Restaurant Info:
Urth Caffe

2327 Main St,
Santa Monica, CA 90405
(310) 314-7040

REPORT CARD
Meal: Brunch

Occasion: Cali dining
Price: $
(Out of three stars)
Ambiance: *** (Indoor and outdoor seating and tables in little nooks)
Food: ***
Service: ***
Would I go back?: Yes!


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Shy
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