Hello Brooklyn, how you doin’?

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One of the things I’ve loved about living in the northeast, particularly in New England, is how easy it is to take a quick trip and be totally transported into a whole other world. Within a few hours you could be bordering Canada or find yourself at the center of the world: New York City.

This past month, we planned a little escape to the concrete jungle around a dear friend’s birthday weekend. Now that we’ve gone to NYC a few times, we’ve been able to focus our adventures within our friend’s charming neighborhood in Brooklyn Heights. It is so picturesque and bears a resemblance with Boston’s Back Bay/Historic South End area. If you haven’t, you must see it for your self!

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For some birthday fun, we spent the evening at Zombie Hut (interesting name, right!?). They had a sizable jungle-inspired patio that was incredibly tempting with its greenery and tropical vibe had it not been for the damp and chilly day we were having. Thankfully they have ample indoor space for parties of different sizes, and the zombie elements sprinkled within this quirky little tiki bar make for some interesting conversation starters. We may just find ourselves back there again at some point for some cheap PBRs and Narraganset – yes, there’s ‘ganset in Brooklyn for all you New Englanders – or to try the intriguing $5 Hot Pockets. You have to wonder, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, how much would you pay for a hot pocket?

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The next day we continued our Brooklyn adventures around some drink destinations and of course, pizza.  Our must-see on this trip was Brooklyn Brewery. I appreciated how the tasting room stays true to its warehouse history and Brooklyn roots with minimal furnishings, brick walls, and a charming touch of cafe lights. It’s free to enter plus tours are free on Fridays and weekends. There wasn’t much of a line when we walked in so we easily got ourselves 5 beers for $20. $20!! Apparently there’s deliverable pizza available too, but we wanted to make-up for our derailed Fornino on Pier 6 plans by enjoying a couple of pies at their location a few blocks away.

We didn’t end there. Our food and drink tour of Brooklyn continued on to Spritzenhaus33 where the spacious and hip al fresco vibe is hard to resist a few steps from the subway station. We then grabbed empanadas at La Barrita to quickly satisfy our Latin American small bites cravings, all while facing the street at the open-window bar seats with impeccable people-watching views along Montague Street. We finished the evening with fancy bubbly varietals care of The Binc which was great for its intimate speakeasy feel as we were winding down from a fairly eventful day.

After an amazing cup of coffee at Swallow Cafe, we couldn’t possibly leave Brooklyn the following day without taking a walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park and the piers. The views just never get old. I can just imagine all the picnicking possibilities!

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What’s on your must-see/taste/drink list for NYC? Share your ideas or thoughts below. I’d love to hear. I would definitely recommend all our stops to anybody looking for delicious food or satisfying drinks in Brooklyn all with an al fresco option. Thanks for reading!

x♡

Valerie


For more questions or information on sights and eats mentioned above, check out Brooklyn Brewery, Fornino, Spritzenhaus33La Barrita, The Binc, Swallow CafeBrooklyn Bridge ParkNYCgo, Yelp, or feel free to contact alwaysalfresco@gmail.com.

If you liked this post, you can also follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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I’ll Always Say YES to Wine, Chocolates and This Kind of Love

Whether you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day with a significant other or Galentine’s/Palentine’s Day with your favorites, I hope you have a love-filled day today and always ♥

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This year will mark our fifth year since getting engaged and saying big YES’s many more times to the adventure that has been our life.  Alex and I are far from planning our long distance rendezvous a la John Meyer’s Love on the Weekend (if you’ve been there before, you’ll want to take a listen). We’re glad for that. Little did our twenty-something selves know how many changes, surprises, hurdles, and lessons we would be encountering along the way. And yes, I’d still choose this life and this love every. single. time.

While we often opt to have a nice night in on Valentine’s Day, this year felt different. Our second winter here in Boston is teaching us valuable lessons on patience, teamwork, faith, home, and ultimately love. It seems only fitting to celebrate though still close to home and try to get away if only for a few moments.

We’ve always had quite the unconventional story, whether by choice or by circumstance, but it’s always been the story of us. It isn’t always rom-com style romantic, but it is always with heart.

Because I’m feeling a bit reminiscent, here are some of our cherished images, both from my instax and our phones (look at these babies!), of that fall-like, love-filled winter day at Glass House Winery in Charlottesville.  This is just one of the vineyards Alex and I enjoyed in Virginia’s Wine Country (see others from our recent trip here) from going to school around the area. Glass House in particular makes delectable hand-made chocolates and awesome wines in a one-of-a-kind setting, which are just a few of my favorite things! My company that day wasn’t so bad either 😉 Please bear with the image quality. We were living up that post-grad life with a post-grad wallet in 2012.

Alex had such an odd, serious-one-moment then funny-but-nervous demeanor on the drive there. Apparently he had the ring in the box in his pocket just so blatantly visible and within a hand’s reach from the passenger seat. I just had absolutely NO clue.

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I was just sipping on some wine, nibbling on some chocolates, ring-less at this point, and TOTALLY oblivious.

It was such a blur and such a strong memory at the same time.

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The vineyard was fairly quiet that day, so we were grateful for the other visitors who were able to snap this shot of us.

img_3754Then here I am easily smiling ear-to-ear with my new shiny Diment ring 🙂 (get it??)

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We finished our bottle of wine and box of chocolates and bought a couple more for home.

Tomorrow we spend V-day in a restaurant just a few blocks from our house. I seriously cannot wait for all of the yummy food.

How do you plan to spend your day? Feel free to share in comment below!

 

Valerie

You can follow me on InstagramFacebook, or Pinterest.

And if you liked what I was wearing, find my recommendations to recreate the outfit here:

Date Night/Valentine's Day Outfit: Collared Top + Statement Skirt

 

<< also found this one last minute at 51% off and most sizes available in regular or petite: Banana Republic Factory Printed Mini! >>

Top 5 Most Memorable Al Fresco Moments of 2016

Ah, yes, the first Monday of the month. How awesome is it though that we have a more pleasant, easy start to the week!? One less “Monday blues” for the year.

It’s been a little quiet around these parts. With my parents back in VA after a week-long visit with us, there’s a lot less buzz in our home to keep it warm and cozy. I’d keep the holiday spirit going forever if I could, but the peace and normalcy that follows a lovely time with the family, and the craze from the end of the year, can offer a sense of comfort too.

As I look back, I see how hectic yet somehow more organized, trying but oftentimes enlightening 2016 has been for me. I can easily come up with a wishlist, a bucket list, AND a “conquered” list to enumerate all my desires as I look on with hope every new year. I find myself, however,  enjoying a nice night-in for NYE this time around, and most inspired by the places and the memories that truly stayed with me. They’ve been my ‘happy pill’ and they’re mine to keep forever shared with people that, in those moments and beyond, touched my life.

What’s been the most rewarding and exciting about my little passion project here is the story behind every photo I get the share with you all. A wise friend once told me that the journey is the destination. On top of the wonderful food and places I’ve been fortunate enough to experience, I can’t forget about everything and everyone that have led me there. So inevitably, I’m sharing with you Al Fresco moments that brought me a lot of joy, usually in the form of happy-dancing tastebuds, a full belly to carry me through the next week, and sore cheeks from smiling ear to ear and laughing (never) too much.

With that, I give you my most memorable Al Fresco moments of 2016:

1. The Black Pearl, Newport, RI (see my post here, or their website here)img_3167

The hubby and I found the Black Pearl by chance, on a stroll around Bannister’s Wharf while in Newport over Christmas, and it was love at first sight. It’s hard to beat a view like this, a “Magic Elixir” concoction, and award-winning clam chowder. A source tells me that they’re not only closing for winter break but also demolishing the 40-year-old outdoor bar for renovations. Now we have this photo for keeps and are eager for a chance to go back!

2. Old Angler’s Inn, Potomac, MD (see my post here, or their website here)img_2722

Old Angler’s Inn in October was a scenic drive and would be a worthwhile post-hike reward through Great Falls Park which just happens to be its friendly neighbor. We could catch a glimpse of their outdoor garden from our patio seating, though it was closed that day. Everything from the butter, the salad, the seafood and the desserts were tastefully and thoughtfully done. They also have an excellent service team that moved our table inside as smoothly as they could when it started pouring on us mid-meal. It turned out to be the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and the charming, historic interior at Old Angler’s Inn.

3. The Ruby Slipper Cafe, New Orleans, LA (see my post here, or their website here)dsc00505

I don’t think I gave the Ruby Slipper Cafe enough credit in my original post for the mouth-watering food my girlfriends and I were able to enjoy. Because of its popularity, it is common to wait in line for seating at the restaurant, at either location, but our experience with their Magazine St. location was excellent. We were able to easily access their “no wait” feature and keep track of our place on their list in real time and be notified once our table was ready. I’m a sucker for chicken brunch dishes, and their Chicken St. Charles did not disappoint (wish that was the picture I could show you!). Instead, this is a glimpse of my mimosa that I was sipping with the girls as we were getting ready for our table. New Orleans is awesome. The Ruby Slipper Cafe (and the mimosas/bloodys) is certainly worth the wait .

4. Buz and Ned’s Real Barbecue, Richmond, VA (see my post here, or their website here)img_2710

As part of our trip back to VA, the hubs and I made it a point to have as much good barbecue as we could get our hands on. Our friends who grew up in the Richmond area highly recommended Buz and Ned’s – for good reason. Richmond’s Best BBQ has been put to the test by ‘Throwdown with Bobby Flay’ and ‘Man V. Food,’ and local foodies. The best part is the deliciousness and serving side that you get for the price. It was so get a real taste of home.

5. Boston Winter, Boston, MA (see my post here, or their website here)img_3263

Some of my favorite forms of eating “al fresco” are street style. There is no lack of that at Boston Winter, with a variety of ‘themed’ food and all the enticing smells to reel you in. It’s the perfect, and surprisingly delicious, way to get your belly warmed up as you pick your poison: mulled wine, or other varieties of wine, or your choice of beer. It should keep you warm as you stroll around, drink in hand (yes, sip and stroll within the premises), right in the heart of Boston.

 

And because I feel like it deserves it’s own category in my book, my favorite almost Al Fresco moment of 2016 is:

Pickety Place, Mason, NH (see my post here, or the website here)

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Hard to compare this sweet setting with anything else I’ve experienced before. And if not for a friend’s invitation, Pickety Place would still be completely off my radar. It’s kind of what I like about it. I felt as stuffed as the big bad wolf by the end of my meal, but also totally in heaven. Now I’m up for the challenge of maintaining VIP Lunch Club status for a free lunch after 6 visits within 12 months. Sounds like a good 2017 resolution to me 😉

 

What are you looking forward to in 2017? I hope that this new year brings you lots of adventures and memorable moments to last you a lifetime!

 

Valerie