My husband Chris and I are food truck fanatics. We swear by the $1.25 cup of coffee from our local corner cart. Half of his weekly meals come from “the lamb salad guy” on 95th street. While living in San Diego, I got paid to follow food trucks around and write about them (tough job, I know. FYI – check out this sweet ride if you’re in SD). Naturally, when we heard there were a handful of shrimp trucks dishing out deliciousness on the North Shore of Oahu, we had to work them into our honeymoon itinerary.
North Shore locals argue over two favorite shrimp trucks: Macky’s Sweet Shrimp Truck and Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck (see this one on the Travel Channel’s Man V. Food.) Both serve up generous portions of shrimp, pan-fried in one of a few different sauces including garlic butter, sweet and sour, and coconut. Each truck has its pros and cons. Macky’s offers a much cleaner seating area, although being right off the main highway, it lacks any scenery. Giovanni’s sits across the street from the beach (the World Cup Surfing Championships were taking place when we visited), but is infested with flies and roosters. Macky’s has a cute shrimp painted on the side, Giovanni’s is signed by patrons in black marker. If we’re talking strictly food, however, Macky’s wins hands down. The shrimp were more tender, the sticky rice more plentiful, and the flavor unforgettable. We’ll be back on an anniversary trip, for sure.
I didn’t try out for the next season of “The Bachelor,” I haven’t become tight with the Kardashians, and I don’t need any sort of rehab, celebrity or otherwise – but I did recently find myself incorporating reality TV into my work. The assignment: write a feature story for Earnshaw’s Magazine, a trade pub for the children’s apparel industry, about the “birthday party circuit.” I was covering the topic from a retail perspective to see how big the market for children’s birthday parties has gotten and how children’s apparel and accessories vendors can get a piece of that pie.
I immediately thought of the episode of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” when housewife Taylor Armstrong threw her daughter, Kennedy, a $60,000 birthday party that included tea-kettle roses and scones, a photo shoot and a teenage band performing a birthday anthem. Meanwhile, at the home of housewife Kyle Richards, there was a petting zoo and bounce house for her daughter Portia’s 2nd birthday (grand total: $12,000). And there it was – an engaging lead for my story.
The over-the-top housewives are an extreme example of the bigger picture. I learned that although people have cut back in terms of everyday lifestyle, they’re still willing to spend up when it comes to their children. Evidence of the down economy is scarce when it comes to children’s birthday parties in particular, say retailers and industry experts. More than ever, parents want that special, one-of-a-kind outfit for the birthday child, and competition to host the best party on the block has led to a whole new level of themed birthday accessories, venues, invitations, favors, personalized gifts and more. My sources discussed everything from fashion-themed parties complete with runway shows to celebrating birthdays with an entire week of festivities.
Big business in children’s retail – that will likely be a reality for a long time. More importantly, I found a way to justify my Bravo TV addiction.
Read the full story here (click to view the digital edition of the issue on the same site for the prettier, print version)
Call it love at first sip: I was smitten with Paso Robles, CA – a city gaining more and more notoriety for the wines it produces – almost instantly. This past October, I was sent to explore Paso and write a feature for TravelSquire.com. What I discovered is summed up in this excerpt from my story:
It seems you can’t talk to anyone in this city without hearing the word “growth” –both in the wine industry and beyond. Paso Robles’ American Viticultural Area (AVA) has grown to include more than 180 bonded wineries, a five-fold increase over the past decade. The restaurants, hotels and attractions have followed, and are luring visitors and new residents alike.
Read the full article at http://www.travelsquire.com/destinations/united-states-of-america/item/478-paso-robles
No, I’m not getting married (sorry mom), and that’s not my baby (again – sorry). In lieu of the obligatory blog post about New Year’s resolutions, I’m sharing two things that have already gotten my new year off to a nice start: I’m back in New York and I have a beautiful new goddaughter.
New York is, indeed, my something old: I grew up on Long Island, went to school upstate and spent 11 years living in Manhattan and its boroughs. I’ve been back here for nearly a month, and let me tell you, Dorothy was spot-on – there really is no place like home.
Bella Marie Clinton, my family’s something new, is the closest thing to perfection I’ve encountered in a long time. If I make one resolution, it will be to spend as much time with her as possible (I never do seem to lose that last 10 pounds or stop drinking so much wine, anyway).
Wishing everyone a safe and wonderful New Year – may you sleep peacefully in your favorite place.
Let me be clear: I really like good food. I truly believe that enjoying a leisurely, slow-cooked meal and a nice bottle of wine with friends, family or a significant other is one of the best experiences life has to offer. I love the ritual as much as the food itself.
As I entered my 30s, restaurants replaced bars on my social calendar. My taste buds became more forgiving and I became more adventurous about what I allowed on my plate. I’ve become passionate about the relationship between food, culture and travel (I defy you to find an episode of “No Reservations” I haven’t seen). And now, it seems, I’ve made a career out of eating.
It was bound to happen, since I’ve been writing more and more travel and lifestyle articles. In the past month, I’ve eaten my way through Central Chile, one empanada at a time; sampled more than 30 wines in two days (paired with fantastic five-course meals) in Paso Robles, CA; and set out in search of some of San Diego’s most decadent sushi.
That last challenge was one of my first assignments as a Food and Dining Guide for AOL City’s Best. For my second assignment, I interviewed the talented Brian Malarkey, owner of the new San Diego restaurant Searsucker and a past contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef: Miami.” Naturally, I had to dine at his highly anticipated eatery (I can still taste the beef cheek and cheddar biscuits).
My editor at AOL is excited to get me on a weekly writing schedule; let the feeding frenzy begin. The goal in upcoming weeks will be to balance my hand-to-mouth upper-body workout with some quality time at the real gym. I’ll also need to learn to enjoy the finer things in life in smaller portions—something I’ve had success with in the past (I recently lost 22 lbs. on Weight Watchers).
Stay tuned to see how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll take all the tips I can get! How do you manage to enjoy good food and get in great shape?
I recently had the opportunity to see the San Diego Symphony in its stunning summer venue, the Embarcadero Marina Park South. A more captivating outdoor concert site is hard to imagine.
Here’s a picture I took after the event. For more photos, information about the annual Summer Pops series, and a brief history of the San Diego Symphony, read my TravelSquire.com story here.