Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Shenandoah Valley

Last weekend, Ben and I embarked on another random getaway, this time to the Shenandoah Valley.

shenandoah national park

The drive from Pittsburgh is about 4 hours. Fairly scenic. In the daylight. Not so much at around 8PM on a Friday night but such is life.

We stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Inn. Lightly civil war themed, this bed and breakfast was pretty nice. A big airy light filled room, good food, and a cool old house with interesting architecture.

When considering staying at a B&B, I always imagine myself conversing with the innkeeper and other guests and joining in the social scene of  the B&B. But then I get there and remember sometimes I don’t like to be social. Oops. Everyone we came across was very friendly but we stuck mostly to our private room when we weren’t out and about.

Stonewall Jackson Inn did put together some pretty killer breakfasts. We had eggs benedict one morning and croissant french toast the next. I cleaned my plate both mornings.

foyer of Stonewall Jackson Inn

Our main point of interest in the area was Shenandoah National Park.  On Saturday, under a shockingly blue sky, we drove along Skyline Drive.

skyline drive

We stopped at overlooks, took lots of pictures, and hiked a very small part of the Appalachian Trail.  Here is Ben posing enthusiastically next to a trail marker.

appalachian trail

We have both recently read Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods’ – a book in which he chronicles his attempt to hike the enitre AT. The AT runs from Georgia to Maine.  Based on Bryson’s trials and tribulation in the book, I think I saw plenty during our quick walk.

After beautiful Shenandoah, we made our way to CrossKeys Vineyards. In an ideal world, I would always schedule a wine tasting as a follow up to a nature based event.  The winery and tasting room were very nice (bigger and more modern that I expected) and CrossKeys has an amazing patio overlooking the rolling hills of Virginia where you can sit and enjoy a bottle or glass of wine you have purchased inside. Loved this place.

cross keys winery

During our weekend we also had dinner at the Joshua Wilton House and explored downtown Harrisonburg. All 3 blocks of it 😉

It was a lovely and relaxing weekend. Great thanks to my sweet Ben for planning it 🙂

 On the drive back we passed Bedford Springs and I decided that is the location of our next random getaway…

Until then…

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Snickie Goes West III

I miss California. I miss the easy pace of my trip and the excitement of meeting new people and seeing new things. 

After my few days in Chico, we made our way to Sacramento. Ben’s sister, brother in law, and nieces live outside of Sacramento. We made a quick stop in downtown Sacramento, visiting the area of town known as Old Sacramento.

Over and over, during my trip West, I was reminded of the differences in architecture between the East Coast and the West Coast and how “young” the West Coast really is. It is always interesting to me, how your mind can instantly recognize you are in new terrain when traveling. You may not even be able to articulate what feels different (is it the architecture, the topography, the people?) but you know its there.

Old Sacramento

The suburbs of Sacramento also treated us well.  More welcoming family, more great meals, more amazing weather.

We went to an outdoor wine and art festival and somehow I was the only one tasting the wine. About 10 tastes in, I realized I may have just consumed about two glasses of wine in 30 minutes (and at 11AM) and needed a sandwich. Here I am waiting for my sandwich. Don’t I look happy?

After my time wrapped in Sacramento, I sent Ben back to the ‘burgh and continued my journey south, to San Diego. Remember the friend I shared this meal with? I was headed to visit his friendly face at UCSD, where he is pursuing a doctorate.

cruising the SD harbor - and yes, it was cold!

San Diego started off cold and wet. WTF? I wasn’t expecting weather like that, but we made the best of it and toured La Jolla, drank margaritas, and (when the sun finally came out) made it to the beach.

la jolla

made with mezcal (smoky tequila) - a new love

la playa

 I also made my way onto the UCSD campus, spending a whole day there on my own, exploring and pretending I was an undergrad. It was kind of glorious.

sun god sculpture - UCSD campus

Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that welcomed me into your home over the course of this trip. This vacation was just what I needed after a long busy season at work. Just perfect.

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Snickie Goes West II

Slowly but surely I will recap my trip out West.

I spent 2 full days in Seattle and visited Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, Discovery Park, and Gasworks Park. I also got to meet my boyfriend’s brother, sister in law, and niece. The weather was amazing – sunny and 60.


After our time in Seattle wrapped up, we flew to Sacramento and then drove to Chico, CA, Ben’s hometown. Chico is a medium sized town northeast of Sacramento. I was really excited to see where Ben grew up and see all the Chico sights I had heard so much about. Ben’s parents were great hosts and made sure I hit all the Chico hot spots 🙂

Anyone ever been to Chico, CA?

Bidwell Park - Chico, CA


Pittsburgh, can you get some cheap awesome Mexican food? Thanks.

sierra nevada brewery

The weather in Chico was also amazing. High 70s, low 80s, super sunny.

After Chico we made our way to Sacramento proper, continued on to the Sacramento burbs, and then I flew to San Diego. More pictures to come soon.

The entire trip was super relaxing. After some long work weeks, it feels like it was ages ago. However, I am still super happy to have all my memories and pictures from the fun.  I really enjoy traveling and so cherish all the places I have been and experiences I have had. This trip was made even more special by the people met and hospitality extended during the journey.

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Snickie Goes West

Hello! Things have been quiet around here because I have been on vacation. Two weeks of vacation! Positively refreshing and relaxing.

This trip was a chance to meet the family of my wonderful boyfriend and spend time with a friend in San Diego. The added bonus was touring some cities and areas I have never been to.  I first made my way to Seattle, WA and then did a bit of California traveling, hitting Chico, Sacramento, and San Diego.  I am so glad I made this trip.  It was awesome.

Today, some photos from my time in Seattle. More pictures to follow!

Pike Place Market - Seattle


top pot doughnut. yum.



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Back to the grind

So it goes.

I took a little bloggie hiatus over the last few weeks to enjoy the holidays and escape the cold Pittsburgh weather.

My holidays were highlighted by spending time with family and friends. I hit all the usual fam festivities on the 24th and 25th, eating all the Christmas ham, cheesy potatoes, shrimp cocktail and cookies I could handle.

Unfortunately, my Christmas celebration was dampered by someone BREAKING INTO MY CAR AND TAKING EVERYTHING WHILE I WAS AT CHRISTMAS EVE MASS. “Everything” included all my wrapped Christmas presents, food, booze, and an overnight bag with personal items as I planned to stay at my parents’  house on Christmas Eve.

Merry Christmas.

I was obviously initially hysterical. I filed a police report on Christmas Eve and tried to carry on with the holiday as best I could. I am still angry but realize I could have been a victim of far worse crimes. In the end it was only stuff (and stuff that hopefully my insurance will cover – in that process now).


Fortunately, leaving for the Turks and Caicos Islands the day after Christmas helped lessen the blow of my misfortune. (Thanks again Big D!)


I spent five days catching up with my family, laying on the beach, eating amazing food, and relaxing.

turk's head lager - local brew

checking out the view on a cloudy day

sun's out!

goodbye 2010

providenciales, turks and caicos islands, BWI

And oh yes, the food! We dined at open air restaurants nearly every night and enjoyed some crazy delicious meals. Pasta with arugula, local grouper, seafood risottos, fish tacos, boullibaise, and lobster. Oh, the lobster.

local TCI one pound tail - so sweet, so fresh, so good


or perhaps you would like a little turf with your surf?

2010 was a rough year in many ways. It brought along multiple family health issues, other ups and downs, and a major life (relationship) change for myself. However, as I sat with family on vacation, laughing, drinking wine and enjoying life, I truly contemplated everything I have been blessed with. And the blessings are many. Happy (belated) New Year to all!

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On the Road – PHL

August? Already?

For various reasons, I have not been cooking much this summer. Lack of motivation, busy schedule, traveling – all the usual suspects have made their contributions.

So in lieu of any new recipes, let me share with you some pics from a recent foodie-centric trip to Philadelphia.

The weekend started with some killer flat-bread sandwiches from Cosi (come to Pittsburgh, please?), manicures and pedicures, and frozen yogurt eaten in Rittenhouse Square. A lovely afternoon for sure.

For dinner that evening, we made it to Amada. This place was super cozy and would be the perfect date spot. We ordered several tapas and swooned over the aged manchego with lavender truffle honey. Amada is owned by the Garces Restaurant Group (as in Jose Garces, the Iron Chef).

I am beginning to realize I ate quite a lot on this trip. So it is. Moving on…

Saturday morning we got ourselves to the Northern Liberties in order to enjoy Silk City Diner.

outdoor patio at Silk City Diner

This was a solid breakfast/brunch choice. I tried the french toast and the smoked salmon and goat cheese omelet. Quality stuff.

Next up, we wandered further into the neighborhood and ended up at Brown Betty (Liberty Place location).

so what if we just had brunch?

 Here we split a chocolate on chocolate cupcake. This thing was huge and dense. I enjoyed it but I am not sure it was the best I have ever had. The place was super cute though.

Fast forward a few hours and we are dining on homemade pasta at the very reasonably priced and pretty damn tasty La Viola. To note, this place is BYO and cash only. Neither point proved to be a problem for us 🙂

BYO + out all night = amazing brunch needed the following morning. Fortunately, my host knew right where to go. Parc.

paris, er, rittenhouse square

Please note the incredible bread basket and perfect omelet shown above. If you want to feel super cool and like you are most definitely on some type of vacation, please go to Parc, which sits  right on the edge of Rittenhouse Square. It is quite lovely.

I had an awesome time in Philly and hope to return again soon!

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Welcome to my belated New Year’s musings/goals post.

I have been thinking about these things since 2010 reared its blustery snowy self. Most are food related, of course.

Looking Back:

2009 was the year Snickie was born! I started the blog when The Boy embarked on a six-week work project that took him to Hyderabad, India.  Through the year I have moved the focus of the blog around…food journal, recipes, travel recaps, restaurant reviews.  Sometimes the lack of focus frustrated me. However, this is a hobby! At this point, I kind of just post whenever and whatever I want. Keepin’ it random!

2009 was the year of travel! Many events coincided this past year that allowed me some crazy and wonderful travel experiences. This year, I went to:

San Juan and on a Caribbean cruise

magen's bay - st thomas

magens bay, st thomas



san gimignano - tuscany

Myrtle Beach

north myrtle beach


big ben

San Fransisco

ferry building



Costa Rica

My favorite meal of 2009 was likely at a small restaurant in San Querico, Italy. Silky pasta with zucchini, squash, and other vegetables. Simple, satisfying.

My favorite Pittsburgh meal of 2009 was likely at Cafe Davio.

My favorite recipe of 2009 may have been angel food cake.

Looking forward:

I am keeping it pretty simple moving in to the new year. I obviously have some other personal goals, but for Snickie purposes, here is the quick and dirty.

a) Try one new recipe per week

b) Try one new restaurant per month

c) Document a) and b) on Snickie!

d) Meet some other Pittsburgh bloggers/readers…

Anyone interested? Leave a comment, please!

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Costa Rica – Pura Vida!

Back in November, The Boy and I got an itch to plan a trip in between Christmas and New Year’s.  We knew we wanted to go somewhere warm – that was about it.

After some research (who knew Bermuda was 60 and rainy in December – no wonder there are great deals to be had) we decided on Costa Rica. Although plane tickets were still fairly pricey, accommodations, etc seemed to be pretty reasonable. We booked and were ready to go.

We left the day after Christmas. After a lengthy trip and an unscheduled stop in El Salvador and night in San Jose, we made it to Tamarindo. Tamarindo is a beach town that sits on the West coast of Costa Rica. It was hopping, full of vacationers.

We stayed at a little place called Hotel Arco Iris. Made up of under ten rooms, it was a great home base. I wish it had been a bit closer to the beach (it is a 5-10 minute walk) but that was really the only negative. The rooms were clean, the on-site restaurant (Seasons by Schlomy) was great, and the owner was very helpful and friendly.

hotel arco iris grounds - view from balcony

sea bass with tagliatelle @ seasons by schlomy

Most of our time in Costa Rica was spent on the beach. 85 and sunny.

We read, lounged, had a few drinks.

One day, we embarked on a day-long adventure.

We rode horses, we river-tubed, we zip-lined, and we dipped in volcanic mud and natural hot springs. This was actually done at Rincon de la Vieja, a national park about an hour from the coast, near Liberia. It was a little cooler here – probably 70 and overcast.

This day was actually pretty intense. I flipped over during the river tubing and found myself swimming through chilly waters in my tennis shoes. I was pulled out quickly by a guide – it was a memorable moment.

The zip-line/canopy tour included rappelling and rock climbing. I broke a sweat for sure!

The Boy also took a surf lesson during our vacation.

Our trip was rounded out by a New Year’s Eve spent sipping champagne on the beach under a full moon. Can’t beat that.

sunset - 12.31.09

Finally, we boarded a tiny plane headed for San Jose and said our goodbyes to Tamarindo. Hopefully, we will return 🙂


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I’m back!

I have returned from my Costa Rican adventure. After I adjust to the shock that is Pittsburgh during a particularly chilly January, I will definitely have a few posts up.

Look forward to a quick Christmas recap, lots about Costa Rica, and some New Years musings/thoughts.

Be back soon!

Tamarindo - Costa Rica - 12.31.09

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I most definitely have been slacking on the posting as of late. Work travel had be all over the place the last few weeks. In my last post, I chronicled a quick trip to Boston. This past week, I was in the great Windy City, Chicago.

I spent my time in Chicago with a group of male coworkers. Try as I might, we ended up sticking to some pretty safe food choices. I was dying to go to Frontera Grill or possibly throw some of my per diem at a Moto or Schwa dinner, but it just wasn’t happening. Oh well.  Some spring and summer events may have The Boy and I making several trips to Chicago – maybe I will be able to try one of those places on the next go-round :).

However, please don’t think I was eating Subway the whole time I was in Chicago. I certainly was able to enjoy a decent meal or two…

Lou Malnati’s – One must do deep dish while in Chicago. I have previously been to Giordano’s and think I may have preferred it to Lou’s. However, this stuff was still gooey and tasty and hit the spot after a long day of travel. We hit up the North Wells Street location.

giordano's - 2008

Hannah’s Bretzel – (180 W Washington) – This tiny lunch spot came recommended by a Chi-town bestie (thanks Jul!). I ended up having lunch here twice during my stay. I had the Sergio’s Special (mango chutney, ham, gruyere, jalepenos) and also a prosciutto and goat cheese sandwich. It appears the place uses top quality ingredients and yummy pretzel baguettes. This was a cool little joint.

Hub51 – (51 W Hubbard) – We hit Hub51 on a Tuesday evening with a group of five. This was definitely a great ‘happy hour’  spot. Slightly trendy, lots of young people. I had an Asian chicken salad and a really nice glass of pinot noir. Some others had burgers. The food was solid – not outstanding, but certainly not bad.  Maybe this was just my opinion because I was comparing my dish to the Thai Beef Salad I had at Houston’s last week. That thing was damn good for chain food.

Sushi Samba – (504 N Wells) – I had never been to a Sushi Samba before (I believe they have locations in Vegas, NYC, etc). To be honest, I was not impressed with the sushi here. Maybe I just ordered badly? I had an eel and avocado roll and a vegetable roll. Eh. Others seemed to enjoy their meals, so maybe it was just me. The place definitely has a cool interior and overall funky, night on the town vibe. I definitely enjoyed that.

Harry Caray’s – (33 W Kinzie – Can you tell I was with all guys yet?) – This old school steakhouse was a ‘must do’ for the group I was with. I ended up ordering pasta with red clam sauce here – random but tasty enough. It was a cold night and the cozy hustle and bustle of Harry Caray’s was a welcome reprieve. The bar area was also quite lively. I probably would not return here but it was fun, pub like restaurant.

I managed to squeeze in a super quick Michigan Avenue shopping on Friday afternoon before I had to hit the airport. I have done Michigan Avenue a few times in the past – but never at Christmas. There was a little magic in a the air and I wish I could have spent more time there. I ended up with a sweater from Express and a small ‘mix’ (cheddar and caramel corn) from Garrett’s Popcorn. The smell coming from that place is in-sane.

I am now back in the ‘burgh until the day after Christmas, when The Boy and I head to Costa Rica! Yes, we have the travel bug and we have it bad.  I hope to post before then but if not, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

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