Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Having just jet setted to Toronto, Canada...I have one question for you..."Have YOU been to Toronto, "EH"? ("eh" is a common phrase here) If you are thinking Toronto? What's in Toronto? Let me tell you...there's a lot to see and do in this city. When most people think of traveling to Canada, they often think Montreal or Quebec, but let me tell you Jet Setters...because Toronto is low on the is waiting to be discovered!

Toronto has so many cool neighborhoods, shops, restaurants, museums, etc. Out of most big cities I've been to, it most closely reminds me of Chicago. Situated right on Lake Ontario, it has the water and Harbourfront (that's how they spell it), the downtown with big buildings, and all that a big city has to offer.

Toronto is a good walking city. It's also extremely ethnically and culturally diverse. You can check out Chinatown, Korea Town, Greek Town, Little India and Little Portugal all in one day!

Toronto is definitely a great weekend getaway. I would say that you only need about 3-4 days total to get a good feel for the city. We also inlcuded Niagara Falls as a day trip in our itinerary (which I highly recommend). Bottom line...I will have a couple of posts about Toronto for the next three days...focusing more on Eating in Toronto, Shopping in Toronto, and things to do while you are here.For now, just give me this much...if you think you already know about Toronto...let me say forget everything you know about Toronto...what's that, you don't know about Toronto, eh? Well, give it a chance and check out why this place is so great!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Yes, it's true! I've reached a new milestone in life...I'm 30! I have to admit, I was sort of dreading this day for awhile...but now that's it's here, I have to say that it feels GREAT to be celebrating my 30th birthday! I am proud of many things and experiences that I've had in my life to date...I am grateful for the things I've been given and for my wonderful family and friends. I hope that the future will be filled with more wonderful things. I've heard people say 30 is the new 20! Is that true? Or is that like telling a bride when it rains on her wedding day that "it's good luck?" Just wondering...

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Our dear friends Becca & Saleem live in Dallas, Texas. We jet setted to see them last December for Saleem's Surprise 30th Birthday party thrown by Becca! His party was a surprise...and Becca wanted us to be there for the real icing on the cake part of the surprise! We had such a great time...not only seeing them and seeing the look on Saleem's face when he walked into the room, but checking out a new city too! Dallas, Texas reminds me a lot of L.A. There are different sections (that you pretty much always have to drive to- like L.A) with cute boutiques and restaurants. The picture below is of all of us on McKinney...a great area to walk around, shop and eat.
Speaking of eating...we did a lot of it! We had an AMAZING brunch at La Duni.
Great drinks and appetizers at Tei Tei...

Becca & I had girl-time breakfast at The Crooked Tree. They have the most delicious Choco Cream coffee...pretty much like a mocha, but soooooooooooo much better!

Being in Dallas, you MUST eat Mexican! So we went to the Galleria Mall and had lunch at Mi Cocina...WOW!

I can't believe that it's been so long since we've seen them! Good news is that they're jet setting to New York this December to visit us...what a treat...we can't wait!

In the meantime, Becca finally shared her Tortilla Soup recipe with me...and since it's Sunday...I want to share it with you. Becca is an AWESOME cook. She made this soup for us once and I have been bugging her for the recipe ever since. And with fall here, this is the perfect thing to make. Thanks Becca & Saleem...we love you guys so much! xoxo
TORTILLA SOUP- Courtesy of Becca Zafar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 box chicken broth
2 C water

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 Tablespoon Chile powder

2 jalapeno peppers (remove seeds and dice) - use 1 pepper for less of a kick :)

6 limes (juiced)

3 chicken bouillon cubes

2 (14oz) cans chopped tomatoes

1 - 2 cans of corn ( I like a lot of corn so I add 2 cans) - drain corn

1 bunch cilantro - pull leaves off stems and and rough chop

1 med sweet yellow onion

1 rotisserie chicken (pull apart breast meat with fork)

Garnish with:

shredded cheese
sour cream
tortilla strips

Heat oil, saute onion for 3 min and then add jalapeno, saute until soft. Add spices, tomatoes (with juice), broth, bouillon cubes, water, lime juice, corn (drained), cilantro and chicken. Stir and be sure that the bouillon cubes are broken up. Bring to a boil and then turn heat to low. I usually let the soup stew for a while (a few hours) on low to allow the flavors to meld, but an hour would also be fine. Add your toppings when served to bowls and that's it! :)


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Seeing U2 in concert is one of the things in life that makes me happy beyond words! My husband and I are pretty much obsessed with U2. I fell in love with them back in high school and even have a fond memory of skipping school early one day with one of my best friend's Christine to go see them perform the Lemons Tour.

It's been 4 years since their last tour...Vertigo...and now they are performing their 360 Tour (a stadium tour). We went to see them Wednesday night at Giants Stadium...and they were AMAZING!!! If you haven't heard their latest album (No Line On The Horizon)'s great! How is is that they can continue to put out album after album of awesome music?
Here's a rundown of what they played (in order too!) on Wednesday: (I'm a dork...I kept notes of every song)

- Breathe (new cd)

- Magnificent (new cd)

- Get on your Boots (new cd)

- Mysterious Ways

-She's The One (By Bruce Springstein- Bono wished bruce a Happy 60th Birthday & sand his song)

- Desire

- Elevation

- Your Blue Room

- Beautiful Day (The song our wedding party walked in to on our wedding day! :-)

- No Line On The Horizon (new cd)

- New Year's Day

- Stuck In a Moment

- Unforgettable Fire

- City of Blinding Lights

- Vertigo

- I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight (new cd)

- Sunday Bloody Sunday

- Walk On


- Amazing Galore

- Where The Streets Have No Name

- Light My Way

- With Or Without You

- Moment Of Surrender (new cd)

Their opening act was a band called Muse (which we didn't get to hear because we got to the stadium at 8:30pm and they went on at 7pm). Bono did say that Muse was #1 on You Tube that day and that Muse is the next big thing!

U2 went on the stage at 9pm and sang straght until 10:52pm when the lights went off and they walked off the stage. I'm guessing that either a lot of people thought they were done, or they were just tired and wanted to leave early, but the stadium cleared a bit. U2 wound up getting back on the stage literally 3 minutes later and sang 3 more songs. These guys are awesome...24 songs in total for the night without any breaks. They got everyone up out of their seats and dancing. One thing I did notice was that the audiecne was sort of older (I guess we are kind of included in that crowd now too :-( But, my point is is that I didn't see any high school students...and I fell in love with them and went to their concerts in high I was surprised by this.

Just a couple of things to say about the night that completely annoyed me to no end! Giants Stadium is the worst to get to! It's no where near The New Jery have to take about three different highways to get there once you get off the turnpike. The sings are terrible...and the place was mobbed! If you don't like crowds...this is certainly not the place for you! You had to pay $25 for parking and get in a huge line to be frisked and have your purse checked. The forecast called for rain on Wednesday (even though it held up- only lightly rained for literally five minutes), but security confiscated umbreallas at the door...lots of people were not ahppy about that. So note to self...never bring an umbrealla- even if it's down pouring! Sorry for my ramble, but had to get that off my chest. I wonder how Giants fans do it every Sunday during football season?

Bottom line...the concert ended at they sang for over 2 hours! It was such a great night and I'm so glad we went. I love U2!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just hope their next tour doesn;t bring them to Giants Stadium again, but maybe the Garden! :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009


The remake of the original Oscar-winning film Fame opens today! This movie which is based on a group of students, who are also dancers, actors, singers, and artists at The New York City High School of Performing Arts...has a special place in my heart because I am a graduate of this school.

I was a Drama major at Performing Arts...and have to say- while we DID NOT dance on the cafeteria tables like they do in the movie- it was the best four years of my life! I made great friends in high school, and although our school is a big specialized/ public school, it did have a family environment.

Yes, I know this will probably be a corny movie, but I am still going to jet set to see it...and if any of my high school friends are reading this...consider this an invitation! :-) "Baby remember my name!"

{photo: Fame}

Thursday, September 24, 2009


My six year old Yorkshire Terrier, Riley, is my best buddy...which is why I hate to leave him behind when I jet set. So in my search for dog friendly places to stay, I came across Affinia Hotels which has dog friendly hotels in New York, Washington DC and Chicago. Yes, I know you may be thinking, there are plenty of dog friendly hotels across the country...and you are right...but the thing that really caught my eye about Affinia Hotels is their Jet Set Pets™ program in which they really do go the extra mile as far as services for your pets. They do charge $25 surcharge for your pet to stay, but check out the SPECIAL OFFER below!

Here’s what Jet Set Pets™ is all about:
- Local dog walking/sitting services
- Grooming
- Daycare and boarding
- Training
- Boutique products
- Gourmet cakes and cookies for special occasions
- Pet taxi
- Pet psychic
- Pet bed
- Doggie treat
- Travel bowl to take home

For you to take:
- Signature canvas water bowl designed for travel
- City-specific chew toy
- Robbie Dawg tin of organic treats or Homemade Canine Confections

In addition, items for use during your stay include:
- Food and water bowl
- Plush dog bed

***SPECIAL OFFER: If traveling with your pet between July 25-December 31, 2009 and you incur an airline charge when flying with your pet, please show proof of the charge and the $25 pet stay fee will be waived. Restrictions may apply. ***

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


So we wound up going to the Red Bank Food Festival this past Sunday...and it was awesome! There were over 30 restaurants that opened up their doors and put out some food to try. It was a great experience because on what was the most beautiful weather day, you got to see the inside of restaurants and what they look like while walking around and checking out a cool area in New Jersey. Some of the restaurants really went all out and tried to put their best stuff out there, but it did feel like others just wanted to jump on the bandwagon and say they were involved- but didn't really try. Either way, I was stuffed!

The other two things that I have to admit should be improved for next year are (1) The time of the event was only from 12-4pm- so you had to stand in long lines and wait, only to rush in, scarf down your food and hurry to the next place. I think the event should go from 12-6pm so you can actually enjoy it at a more leisurely pace. And (2) I think the map they gave out was horrible. Unless you know Red Bank, it was not easy to find all of the restaurants. The restaurants are divided into two areas- Downtown & The Galleria- so we didn't get to go to all of them because either we had no time, or just couldn't find where we needed to go.

Nonetheless, I'm glad we went, and have to say that if you missed it this year, then I would definitely try to make it next year. The tickets were $25 for adults if purchased ahead of time, or $30 on the day of the event. But, at least all the money raised from the event goes to benefit the local high at least it's for a good cause!

Here's a list of the participating restaurants and what they served...I'm getting hungry already! :-)


Ashes Cigar Club, 33 Broad Street: A steak house that served Fried Calamari & Linguini in Garlic & Olive Oil
Bienvenue, 7 East Front Street: French Bistro that served Mushroom Risotto
Bistro in Red Bank, 14 Broad Street: Brick Oven Pizza & Bistro that served Ceasar Chicken Salad
Brannigan's Bar & Grill, 14 Wharf Avenue: Typical Sports Bar & served (get this) a platter of Buffalo Chicken Wings!Buona Sera, 50 Maple Avenue: An Italian Restaurant that probably put out the nicest spread out of anybody. They had a buffet of Chicken Marsala & Pork with peppers & onions. You actually sat down and ate...and that was smart business thinking on there end because almost everyone started buying drinks from the bar!Carter & Cavero, 19 Monmouth Street: A store that specializes in all sorts of Olive Oils! Literally name it and they probably have it. We tried Fig Oil, Lemon Oil, Garlic Oil & Balsamic Vinegar (with some bread to dip in it of course)!Dish, 13 White Street: By far one of the best! This quaint little place offered up some delicious Guiness Braised Short Ribs & Mascarpone Polenta...deeeeee-lish!Downtown Cafe, 8 West Front Street: Typical Standard American Fare that served up very good pulled pork sliders.Front Street Trattoria, 31 West Front Street: Trattoria/ Pizzeria that served up excellent thin crust Margherita pizza.Gaetano's Restaurant, 10 Wallace Street: Don't think we ever got to this one, but it does look good!Jamian's, 79 Monmouth Street: Pub style place that served up some pretty disappointing Chicken wings- either Terryaki or Buffalo-style.Murphy Style Grill, 26 Broad Street: Don't think we ever got to this one, but it does look good!Muscle Maker Grill, 38 West Front Street: A Health Food restaurant (not really up our alley)...but, they did serve up a delicious brown rice & chicken dish!
Original Soupman, 39 Broad Street: Yes, like from Seinfeld this is the same guy! We tried to go and try one of his soups, but when we got there we were told to "come back in 15 minutes" because they ran out of soup. Needless to say, we didn't go back. But, I have had this soup in NYC and it's good! I think there are chains all around now.
Readie's Fine Foods, 18 Monmouth Street: Excellent deli that served to types of cold salads.. One was a pesto/ orzo salad with dried cranberries and nuts- the other was a German potato salad with bacon and onion...that was mmm-mmm good!
Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe, 17 White Street: Wow! If you like chocolate...then this is a must try next time you are in Red Bank! They served up milk chocolate pretzels with either caramel or peanut butter...and milk or dark chocolate covered blueberries and strawberries. If only I could have gone back for seconds!
Ricky's Candy Cones & Chaos, 86 Broad Street: We never made it here, but it look like a really good candy store that would have about any candy you could imagine. Last time we were in Red Bank with my niece and nephew- they stopped in here- so yes, it's a great place for kids, or kids at heart!
River's Edge Cafe, 25 Broad Street: Typical cafe/ restaurant that served up something very different from what I was expecting, but also VERY good. It was a pumpkin pancake with honey butter! So good...and it sounds pretty easy to make...I might have to give it a shot sometime this fall.

Smoothie King, 65 Broad Street: I do love smoothies as I've said before (remember post on Lassi drinks?), but it is a chain, and with so many stand alone restaurants to try, we didn't make it here.
Surf Burger Island Grill, West Front Street: Ha! Well now we tried to go to this place (I do love a burger), but we got there at 3pm and they told us they ran out of samples. I should have asked what they were serving, but was too disappointed and forgot to. Anyway, how do you run out of food that early? Not good!
Teak, 64 Monmouth Street: This is an Asian Fusion/ Sushi restaurant..and that's what we were expecting, but they served dessert instead (which was totally fine by me)...and it was amazing! (that's my official stamp of approval when I really like something! :-) It was an Asian crepe (plain or chocolate) wrapped up and sweet and served on a stick. If we ever go back and eat here, I am definitely ordering it for dessert!

That Hot Dog Place, 30 Monmouth Street: Don't get this's "That Hot Dog Place" and their specialty is soup!?! Anyway, I have to give credit where credit is was great soup. I have the Corn Chowder, Rich had the Spicy Sausage, and my sister-in-law, Maura, had Italian Wedding...and we were all pleased! Next time, however, I am trying a hot dog!Torcello Restaurant, 91 Broad Street: This was the first place we went to on our tour...and it was good and a nice looking Italian restaurant inside. They served gnocchi (potato filled pasta) in a white cream sauce...yummy!
Via 45, 45 Broad Street: Another Italian restaurant...very cute inside & BYOB which is great! They served delicious ravioli with roasted peppers and peas which I liked very much!
Wine Cellar, 23 Monmouth Street: This is a nice change of pace from all of the food! This looks like a very nice wine shop inside with a decent selection of stuff. They served a Cabernet blend from California which they had on sale that day for $10.99 if you wanted to buy a bottle.
Zaitooni Deli Mediterranean, 11Mechanic Street: We couldn't find Mechanic Street, so unfortunately, we didn't make it to this deli.

Zebu Forno, 20 Broad Street: This place reminds me inside of an Au Bon Pan/ Bakery type of place. They make everything fresh here and they served up a good bruschetta (which had little bits of mozzarella chopped up into the tomato mixture) was good.

2Senza, 2 Bridge Avenue: Unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to eat the food at this place, but we did go inside to see the interior and we really liked it. They have an open-style kitchen and the decor is cute inside. We might have to put this on our list if we are looking for a place to go next time.
Danny's Steak House & Seafood, 11 Bridge Avenue: As the name says...Steak house. They served up some really good Sweet & Spicy Shrimp and some Penne a la Vodka...and both were excellent.

Racioppi's Kitchen, 107 Oakland Street: Another one we didn't try.

Oakbridge Tavern & Beer Garden, 115 Oakland Street: And yet another!

Siam Garden, 2 Bridge Avenue: This was the last place we made it to on our tour...and it was a great ending to our food tasting day. AWESOME Thai restaurant that served up Chicken in coconut milk, fried vegetable dumplings, and AMAZING (there we go again :-) Pad Thai! good...I would drive all the way back to Red Bank just to eat that again and leave. They say that all of their chefs are from Thailand...and I believe it, because they decor is authentic, and so is the food. This was in my top five of the day for sure!All in all, it was a great day and I prbably gained a couple of pounds! But, I have to say it was worth it! :-)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


In keeping with the staycation theme, you might want to consider jet setting somewhere local and checking out your hometown's baseball team in action. The weather is perfect this time of year to go to a game, watch some ball, eat some junk food, maybe also check out a new area you haven't been to yet, and do something as American as apple pie! We got some tickets this past Saturday to check out the New York Mets play the Washington Nationals at Citi Field (the new Shea Stadium)...and so that's exactly what we did! My husband's sister Maura, her boyfriend, Andrew, Rich and I went to see a Saturday afternoon game. While I am really a Yankee fan at heart, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to hang out with family on a beautiful day and watch some baseball on what was the last official weekend of summer! :-(
We drove to Citi Field (short trip from NYC- you can also take the #7 train which is so easy) and had to pay $18 for parking. I thought that was a little crazy, but what could I do? At first glance, I have to say that Citi Field reminds me a lot of Phillies Stadium (where the Phillies play in Philadelphia). It's new and beautiful...but it also is built out of brick and so it has that "old school" feeling to it which is really cool.Once inside the stadium, it's completely it almost feels as if there couldn't be a bad seat in the house. We grabbed some sausage, pepper & onion heros, a few beers and watched some great baseball. In addition to the usual junk food stands, Citi Field has a Blue Smoke restaurant (great bbq) and a Shake Shack (awesome burgers, fries, & yes, shakes)...but the lines were ridiculously we went with the sausage and were good with that. The Mets wound up beating the Nationals 3-2! It was so much fun!
Afterwards, we drove to Sunnyside, Queens...just a short 2 miles from the ball park. Sunnyside is often referred to as the "unrecognized star" of western Queens...and it truly is a star in terms of neighborhoods within the five boroughs of New York City. It's so close to Manhattan (15 minutes on the #7 train), has a lot of six-story buildings & quaint little homes, and a good number of restaurants, bars and shops.

We met up with Rich's cousin Kerry, her husband, Antoin, and their adorably cute 11-month-old son, Kieran. We all had some drinks and a nice cheese plate at this great wine bar called Claret on Skillman Avenue. What I realized most about this day is that you don't have to travel far to have a great time. Odds are...there are so many great neighborhoods right in your own backyard waiting to be discovered. This weekend...Sunnyside, Queens was waiting to be found and experienced...where should I go next?

{Photos: About, Forgotten-NY, Claret}