CT Day Trippin- Mystic and Stonington

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a full blog post. Honestly, moving across the country was extremely draining on me both physically and mentally. I took a step back from writing and needed to engulf myself in my new reality. I appreciate you all following along and waiting patiently before writing about my experiences in Connecticut. The reason I started blogging in the first place was because I genuinely missed writing. I used to write short stories in my earlier years and it gives me such joy to put a well thought out story in my head on paper. I really wanted to wait for my first blog on something in CT to be special and Mystic, a place I’ve wanted to go since I was a little girl (because of the movie of course), is the perfect place to start.

Most of you know by now from following me that I am a HUGE wine lover. Not only am I Italian so I grew up on wine, but my parents live close to Temecula Wine Country in California so naturally, it was a weekend event often. Wine tasting was one aspect from California that I was sure I was going to miss. I actually had no idea that Connecticut even had as many wineries as they do. What I love the most is the scenery in CT. It really is the most beautiful state I’ve ever seen, and their vineyards are no exception!

When Alyssa (@glutenfree_fit_foodie) and I had a weekend to ourselves away from the boys, we wondered what could be the perfect short girlfriend getaway trip. Vineyards came up as we are both wine lovers and heard the Stonington area was a great place for a quick escape. Neither of us had been to any vineyards in the area nor Mystic, so after discussion we decided this would be a good one night trip for us. After over packing and picking a really cute Air B n B in downtown Mystic, we started off on our vineyard adventure! (See below for video of our day)

 

First stop: Saltwater Farm Vineyards

What a gorgeous place for a wedding or romantic picnic! Set in the heart of Stonington, this Saltwater Farm Vineyard is located on the Wequetequock Cove and has many instagramable opportunities with their spectacular views. During our visit, we learned that the tasting room was actually a World War II airplane hanger, which gave the venue a more modern and industrial presence. We did a full tasting including white, rose, and red wine. Each one was delicious and better than the following. Saltwater has very dry wines, however, if you like a little bit of sweetness, I’d suggest to try the rose. As it wasn’t our first rodeo at a vineyard, we packed a picnic bag full of snacks for us to munch on, so it was great to see that they have picnic tables, benches, and chairs to utilize during your stay.  You can view their tasting room hours and music schedule here.

Second Stop: Stonington Vineyard

As soon as we stepped onto Stonington Vineyard we instantly felt the energetic vibe. With an enormous grass area right outside the tasting room, this venue is host to many events and live music during the seasonal times. With so much space, you can assure that if you bring the family, there will be room. We saw many groups that were hosting a picnic and bringing in outside food, and even hung out with a Bachelorette party that ordered Pizza straight to the winery! Can we say Genius? We had an array of tastings here as well, red and white, but what I found most interesting was their Chardonnay. I am typically not a Chardonnay lover, however this white wine is barreled in stainless steel instead of oak, so it gives a much different flavor to the wine then I usually taste with California Chardonnays (usually oak barreled). It was crispy and clean, I highly suggest to get a bottle of it on a warm day! For Stonington’s event schedule and live music, please click here.

Third stop: M Bar

What can I say about this amazing gem? Not enough! Refurbished gas station turned into a retro bar and restaurant, need I say more? First off, the drinks at M Bar were killer and beautiful in presentation. The menu was an eclectic mix of farm to table like fair, that changes seasonally. The plating was just as fantastic as the food items tasted. Pictured here is the Duck entree as well as the Short Rib Polenta, which of course melted in your mouth (please note these items are no longer available). Aside form the fabulous food, cocktails, and service, I think my overall favorite aspect of M Bar is the atmosphere. With their open air restaurant and outdoor patio, it’s a perfect place to end your wine tasting day for dinner or a late lunch. It is also decorated beautifully for many picturesque moments! For their current menu and offerings please click here.

Last Stop: Mystic Pizza

Can you even say you went to Mystic without going to Mystic Pizza? It’s basically the place and movie that made this cute little town famous. If you are a woman reading this and have not seen the Julia Roberts movie before, shame on you! 80’s Chick flick to the max! Although the pizza was not amazing, you really go for the nostalgia of the restaurant and to see where the movie was filmed. I tried THE Mystic Pizza, what they are known for, which was basically a meat filled pie with veggies. It was OK, just not as amazing as the hype had always been. It was a great ending spot to a long day of drinking and to get some last carbohydrates into your system before sleep. However, if there was a long line to get in, I would say skip it and go across the marina to one of the beautiful waterfront restaurants instead. If you don’t want to travel all the way to Mystic to try it, you can also check out their frozen options to be sent to you here.

 

Thank you reading, and keep sippin!

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Not so shy girl in Chi town


Chicago 24Did you know that Chi Town originally got it’s name from a 1975 country album? The album by C.W. McCall had a song on the record called “convoy” and included lyrics about driving through “Chi Town.” The last time I had gone to Chicago I was 9 years old. I do not remember going to see the city or anything exciting, as I was driving cross country to move from Connecticut to California and it was just a quick stop to visit one of my mom’s best friends. It was summer time and the only thing I remember is going to a pool with a waterslide…not very much of a Chicago memory if you ask me! So it was a pleasant surprise when my boss asked me to attend our annual conference in Chi Town this past November! I had already built up in my head for years what I would do if I was in Chicago next, but I only had about 24 hours to actually explore, so I had to be strategic!

Chicago 17I really did love this city and I cannot wait to go back again! From the beautiful architecture to the delicious food, there really is nothing Chicago can’t offer you for a true “downtown” experience. I had the LONGEST list in life of things I wanted to do while there, all suggestions from friends, family and of course my Blogger Babes! However, after a 4.5 hour plane ride, meeting and speaking with 500 different faces and shaking hands at the conference, going from warm 70 degree weather to cold 40 degree weather, you could imagine my dismay when I got sick the last day which was the day I had planned (3) more Chicago bucket list restaurants and bars! I ended up spending my last day in my hotel room and ordering Caviar (which is similar to Postmates but on the East) and having ramen (which was not the best). Boo! Honestly, there was SO much more I wanted to do, see, and eat, and I was so disappointed I got sick, but below you will read highlights from my trip, where I stayed, the restaurants I ate at, and unfortunately, a few items I did not have time for that I would highly suggest to my travelers.

Accommodations~ I am so lucky to work for an amazing brand like Kimpton. Each and every one of our properties are unique and innovative, while keeping a sophisticated charm. I had the opportunity to see and experience (3) hotels while in Chicago: The Grey by Kimpton, Intercontinental Chicago (Miracle Mile), and my personal overnight accommodations, The Kimpton Allegro. All 3 hotels are in fantastic locations, walking distance to many bars, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, and I experienced them by attending an event, dinner, or meeting at each one.

Allegro
The rooms are quaint but also encompass a downtown feel with amazing views of the city!  allegrochicago.com

With every Kimpton property, they love to give you that WOW factor in the lobby. This art piece at the Allegro (below) clearly illustrates that the hotel wants to remind it’s guests of an older era, which I would say is 1920’s since they have a speakeasy upstairs! The detailed decor in this lobby really incorporated a vintage feel with the gold accents and leather furniture, and the designers did an amazing job of making you feel that you’re in downtown Chicago.

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Did you know every Kimpton property has a complimentary wine hour from 5-6pm?! It’s such a perk when traveling to have a glass of wine waiting for you right when you get back to the hotel from a meeting! The Allegro actually serves Prosecco for their wine hour which I love as bubbly is always a favorite of mine, but I was able to sample a couple of their white wines as well including this Sauvignon Blanc.

Food: As much as I had heard about Chicago, I definitely had high expectations of the food scene in the city and had compiled a whole list of places to fork down! Of course, as with most trips, I didn’t get the opportunity to venture to nearly as many places as anticipated. However, with the limited time I had, I did get to experience very amazing food and culture!

Bar Siena (pictured below) was a place I had seen blogged about many times on instagram and pinterest since they also own this very cool doughnut and Italian coffee shop, Bombo Bar, which is attached to the restaurant. Located in Restaurant Row in the very popular West Loop neighborhood, Bar Siena is known for their eclectic Italian streetfare which is served family style, and is leaded by winning Top Chef Fabio Viviani (who is gorgeous by the way) and owned by DineAmic Group partners and the Chef himself. I loved the vibe of this restaurant as it had a very energetic, yet romantic feel and although the food has beautiful presentation that made it feel like a fancy restaurant, it has the ability to gives you a casual feel.  

Let me just go ahead and say that I have tasted A LOT of burrata in my life. I have traveled to Italy and tried burrata. My family has even made burrata! This was without a doubt my favorite burrata I have ever had at a restaurant. It was seriously so delicious I cannot stress enough how good it was! And to answer the question you may be thinking, yes! Bar Siena makes all their cheese in house and EVERYTHING on their menu is made from scratch. Of course being Italian, I had to try their gnocchi as this potato pasta is very hard to master. Mixed with prosciutto sausage, rapini, parmesan, and chili flakes, I felt the gnocchi was cooked to perfection and although I did find the dish to be a bit salty, I think that’s because I’ve never had prosciutto sausage before and I wasn’t expecting such a strong taste. 

Bar Siena 5
Bombo Bar is is a walkup eatery that is known for their Bombolini, a small, hole-less donut that has the filling on the side to “stuff” the donut with. I really wanted to incorporate one of their hot beverages with one of their dessert options, so I chose the Hotter Cider (pictured here). As amazing as it looks, this hot beverage consisted of very apple cider, salted caramel, and the best topper, an old-fashioned, pecan-apple donut! Connected to, and also served for dessert at Bar Siena, I would highly recommend this spot for a quick dessert place. 

Pizza from Chicago

Giordanos pizza is infamous for the deep dish style pizza in Chicago and they have multiple locations. If you are not familiar, Chicago style pizza has cheese in the middle, with the crust and the sauce on the outside. For the heavy cheese lovers, this is a melted cheese heaven dream! Being Italian, I was skeptical at first, but it was extremely delicious and I would definitely go back there again! We got half cheese and half sausage, and both were so yummy! #nomnom

Things to do: Just walking around the city is honestly enough to do in itself! Endless shopping, restaurants, and entertainment surrounds you no matter what part of town you’re from. From our hotel, we were able to walk to the river, the iconic Bean, and even the infamous Ledge, which of course, I had to  experience!Chicago 28

The Ledge, also known as Sears Tower is infamously known for their 8 walkout ledges that those who want to experience the terrifying feeling, can enjoy. As they only give groups less than 2 minutes to take pictures, I was very strategic in exactly how I wanted to pose myself for this particular shot (pictured above). It honestly was an extremely terrifying  yet exhilarating experience as you have a whole 1 minute elevator ride up the 130 stories to your ledge! Pictured below is the view from the ledge, when we first got to the top of the building. Luckily by the time it was our turn, the city lights had just come on enabling me to get this beautiful picture above. 

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My first time at the iconic Bean, I was so excited to only get myself in this shot!
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Beautiful leaves turning all around you in Chicago in the Fall

What I wanted to do that I couldn’t: I’m sure as most of you can relate, when we go away somewhere, there’s a long list of places you put in your phone that you want to check out and let’s be honest, we actually probably only see 10% of what we planned. I try to be that person who can cram a lot into one vacation, but as I stated earlier, with getting sick, and also being on a work trip, I was limited. Below are my Top 3 places that I plan to explore the next time I’m in the city:

3Arts
#1- Three Arts Club Cafe- Owned and located inside Restoration Hardware, this beautiful design gallery is host to a restaurant, cafe, and wine bar Grubstreet.com
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#2- Lena Brava- This eclectic and trendy restaurant is located in the West Loop and  and owned by Top Chef  winner and author of 9 cook books, Rick Bayless  www.rickbayless.com
chicago boat tour
#3- Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise- A 90 minute boat ride that allows you to learn about Chi Town’s history and beautiful architecture. www.timeout.com

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Thank you for reading and always keep sipping!