Friday Faves: October 26, 2012

Chicago’s two-day Indian summer has come to an end. And I gotta say, I’m happy for that. Something about 80-degree days in late October just doesn’t feel right to me. Still, I bet my weekend visitors would prefer that to the chill that’s supposed to be in the air the next several days.

While I go put the finishing touches on the pumpkin cheeseball for the weekend, enjoy these links from around the web.

A bacon dog costume? Genius!

There is a serious shortage of storage space in my home, specifically, in my closets. Love some of these ideas, especially the shoes in the glass dresser.

A friend is leaving for Paris tomorrow for his birthday trip. I think this time of year is one of the prettiest times to visit. And I find this handy map/key to the arrondissements very helpful.

I feel like new travel websites are a dime a dozen, but caught my eye. Sure, plenty of sites offer guides, but not in this “do it yourself” format.

I wouldn’t feel complete without sharing a recipe. I’ll be trying this Pumpkin French Toast Bake this weekend.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Nice, France

Socca in Nice, France

I love chickpeas. And I love crepes. Ergo, socca is a match made in heaven as far as I’m concerned.

Socca is a specialty of Nice, France. It’s essentially a crepe made of chickpea flour. It’s savory and warm and golden crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. So many sidewalk cafes in Nice offer this specialty, and it goes beautifully with a chilled glass of rose. Or, in my husband’s case (as is evidenced by this picture), an Orangina…

Friday Faves: October 19, 2012

After a week of tending to an ill dog, I am oh-so ready for the weekend. I have absolutely nothing on tap for the weekend, and quite frankly, I plan to keep it that way. Whatever you have on tap for the weekend — nothing or something — enjoy.

And enjoy these goodies from around the web.

A funny open letter to non-parent travelers from a parent.

Halloween is just around the corner and I need to stock up on candy for the kiddies. Because I will not give out any of this crap. To this day, I remember which houses in my childhood neighborhood gave out #1 and #7 on this list (but it wasn’t just #7, but the gross pre-packaged caramel variety).

Where was dishtip several weeks ago when my husband and I were racking our brands trying to think of a place where we could get truffle frites?

Now this looks festive and sounds delicious. Perhaps a Halloween treat for visitors I will have in town next weekend.

Conde Nast’s Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World are simply stunning. I’ve only had the pleasure of staying at one — the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago, but when it was the Elysian. And it is deserving of the honor.

Coonamesset Inn, Falmouth, Massachusetts

Quaint Cape Cod Accommodations in Falmouth, Massachusetts

Spend just a weekend at Falmouth’s picturesque Coonamesset Inn and you’ll leave feeling blissfully relaxed, if perhaps a pound or two heavier. Located around two hours from Boston (depending on traffic), the Coonamesset Inn is an idyllic Cape Cod inn with a lovely restaurant, to boot.

This place is a wildly popular wedding destination (four the weekend we were there!), which is exactly why I was recently there. And it’s easy to see why. The setting is quiet, calm and so picturesque with beautifully landscaped grounds and a pond on the back side of the property.

Coonamessett Inn groundsThe inn offers a number of charming suites which are connected in blocks, and most entries have a breezeway of sorts, and then two doors to enter two different suites. So it can be a bit annoying hearing your neighbors come and go, but I suppose it’s no different than a hotel room. There’s also a single cottage on the property which is typically reserved for brides and grooms on wedding weekends. Our friends had the cottage, and it is a full-on, super spacious house.

Coonamessett Inn suitesAll of the suites are decorated in traditional Cape Cod style. I was blown away by how spacious our suite (#1) was. There was a small living room with a pull-out sofa, desk, chair and refrigerator, and the bedroom was completely separate with its own door. Most impressive? The walk-in closet. Second most impressive? The super comfortable bed. I find that this can be very hit or miss at hotels, either too hard or too soft. But the bed at the Coonamessett was made for Goldilocks — just right.

Coonamessett Inn, suite #1

So about that pound or two you might gain while staying here… You’ll have to blame Eli for that. That would be, Eli of Eli’s Lounge which is in the main building. Eli’s is a cozy, casual restaurant that has a bit of an old drawing room feel to it, with its highback leather chairs and all. This is also where the complimentary breakfast is served each morning, and they really go all out with pastries and danishes. It’s worth it to be there at 8 a.m. to catch them nice and warm, right out of the oven.

Good to Know

  • If you’re attending a wedding here and the bride recommends booking your room immediately, follow her orders. Otherwise, the inn will be fully booked and you’ll be stuck staying at the Holiday Inn down the road.
  • If you want to explore the Cape or even downtown Falmouth, best to have a car. Main Street (with shops, restaurants and bars galore) isn’t far, but definitely not walkable.
  • And if you have a car, know that parking at the inn can be tricky, especially in the evenings if there is a wedding. Get creative.
  • Pack your ear plugs if you’re a light sleeper. Because of the pathways leading to other suites, you can often hear people coming and going, especially in the quiet of the night.

The Barking Crab

Casual Waterside Dining in Boston, Massachusetts

This past weekend, the hubby and I were “back East” for a wedding on Cape Cod. We previously lived in Boston but it’s been over three years since we left. So it’s always fun to go back and take a trip down memory lane. We strategically planned the weekend so that we had a little Boston time before and after the wedding festivities on the Cape.

When I lived in Boston, I thought they had a stellar dining scene. And they do. But living in Chicago I now know what it really means to have a stellar dining scene. Yes, I’m biased. But really, there are some excellent restaurants in Boston. You can’t throw a stone in the South End (or North End, for that matter) and not hit a great restaurant. After all, the city boasts Barbara Lynch’s impressive empire, which was a favorite when I lived in Boston.

But there are just as many hidden gems and casual spots as there are fining dining places. The Barking Crab has always been one of my favorites that fits into that category. It’s a really laid-back, casual seafood restaurant right on the water. Technically, it’s on the edge of Fort Point Channel but I always considered it just on the northern edge of Southie, I guess because I lived in Southie and it’s so close.

The Barking CrabYou can’t miss it driving north on Seaport Boulevard. It’s the crab shack-looking place with a red and yellow striped tent that resembles a circus tent over the patio in the back. Fittingly, the decor inside the tented patio is casual and kitschy, with crab baskets and other marine-esque paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling. And when I say it’s casual, I mean expect to share picnic tables with other diners and share the bottle of ketchup.

The Barking CrabDuring warm weather months, the back patio is teeming with locals, young and old, enjoying seafood, drinks and the waterside atmosphere. It’s a great place to spend a lazy weekend afternoon enjoying beers and a bucket of steamers. Even in not-so-great weather, the place still fills up.  When we were recently in town, it was grey, rainy and chilly but the patio was still pretty full for lunchtime on Friday. The overhead heaters definitely help!

Being a seafood restaurant, the Barking Crab’s menu has all of the essential New England favorites, including my personal favorite and the whole reason for our recent visit — the lobster roll. You can either have the traditional lobster roll with mayo (and it’s just enough to hold it together) or the Barking Crab’s “naked” version which is lobster tossed with drawn butter. I opt for the traditional with a side of sweet potato fries. But they aren’t your regular sweet potato fries. They are massive. They basically slice the fries the entire length of the potato, and you know how oddly shaped and big sweet potatoes can be.

Lobster rollOther favorites include the Barking Crab’s New England Clam Chowder, local oysters, steamed mussels and fish-n-chips.

Good to Know

  • Menu items are pretty reasonably priced. Entrees range from $19 – $31 and sandwiches range from $12 – $29.
  • Not a fish fan? There are plenty of non-fish items to choose from, like spare ribs, chicken and burgers.
  • Take the kids. The Barking Crab is family-friendly and offers a small kids’ menu. Plus, it’s loud and sometimes even rowdy, so you don’t have to worry about inside voices.
  • Parking is generally a cinch since the Barking Crab overlooks a parking lot (on the non-water side), but it’s a paid lot. Tip: there are about 15 or so free spots that run parallel to the front of the restaurant, if you can snag one.

Friday Faves: October 12, 2012

I’m weekending on beautiful Cape Cod for the wedding of a good friend. Having lived in this neck of the woods for about four years, there are so many places and things I’m looking forward to revisiting. Like a proper lobster roll.

I’m also hoping for some wedding downtime so that I can be a leaf peeper. Photos to come after the weekend, hopefully.

Until then, a good weekend to all and enjoy these favorites from the week.

More crockpot love to share. This week’s creation was chicken noodle soup which I’ve never made from scratch before, much less in a crockpot. I loosely followed this recipe, although I certainly did not make my noodles from scratch! In fact, I used shells — plus four chicken breasts instead of three, salt and garlic powder instead of poultry seasoning and an onion instead of peas. I cooked my shells separately and added them to the crockpot in the morning. Definitely a keeper.

Kids say the darnedest things, especially when it comes to their thoughts on the election.

I’m really loving the non-red/pink/purple hues for nail polish these days, like Stylenomics from Essie’s fall collection.

I’m chomping at the bit to buy pumpkins this year, but can’t decide if we’re going to carve them or paint them. I haven’t done the latter since I was a kid when I won a 100-lb. pumpkin (the same year I dressed up as Cleopatra) but some of these ideas look so cool.

With cold weather coming on, movie nights are going to be more prevalent at our house. I’m filling our Netflix queue with oldies that neither my husband nor I have seen (much to his chagrin). This past weekend was Breakfast at Tiffany’s which I actually really liked. Next up: Casablanca.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

I really appreciate a good destination wedding. And because of a friend’s wedding, I get to return to beautiful Cape Cod this weekend.

Summertime is when the Cape is really at its best, but I’d argue that autumn is its second best season. I’m anticipating a chill in the air just like we’ve been experiencing in Chicago, and beautifully-colored leaves that New England is so well known for.

Friday Faves: October 5, 2012

I hate to complain about being “so busy” at work. But this week really was a doozie, so much so that it really ate into my time to find fun Friday faves for you. Still, I soldiered on. You’re welcome.

Given that this was going to be a busy week at work, I planned ahead for dinners this week with plenty of crockpot recipes. That, and I simply love crockpot dinners this time of year. One of my favorite finds is this delicious honey bourbon pulled chicken recipe. I follow the recipe pretty much exactly, minus the teaspoon of tomato paste. I can’t justify opening an entire can, which I would not use otherwise, for a mere teaspoon. So I just add a little extra ketchup.

Like many fellow Americans, I tuned in to last night’s snoozefest debate. And I, too, hope the President finds his mojo before the next showdown.

With not one, not two, but four flights coming up on American, I thought delays and/or cancellations were all I had to worry about, not more serious issues like this.

Warning: you may want to gather tissues before checking out these 23 moments from your childhood that always made you cry. Number 16 gets me to this day.

It’s layering season and as previously mentioned, I have a penchant for scarves. I don’t, however, have the knack for creatively tying them like British women seem to.