Sunday, June 19, 2016

6.18.16 Cajun Cafe Sour Beer Festival

We had a fantastic time at the Cajun Cafe sour beer festival. The beers were exceptional. Some of our favorites were from the Bruery, the local home brewers, and an Italian sour La Luna Rosse. We love that this beer festival gives you a plate of food and they walk around with appetizers. After the beer fest, we went to The Canopy for a quick bite for dinner. We had tater tot nachos and beef fillet skewers. We also tried a beer at Ale and the Witch. Sunday morning we ended up having two brunches. We had a credit for the hotel brunch and were up early so we decided to check it out. It was amazing. It was unbelievable so glad we stopped there. And then we met friends for brunch at 400 Beach Dr. Also good brunch but not quite as over the top as the Vinoy. We enjoyed staying at The Vinoy. It's a really beautiful hotel. The San Francisco Giants were staying there since they played the Rays. We even saw the head coach in the lobby. Overall, a great weekend.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

6.11.16 Explored the resort

Today, we set up camp at the pool. We participated in the water aerobics which was very fun. Then, we headed over to the next door Resort Riu Palace Aruba. The pool there is much nicer and the lunch buffet is a little bit better. We had a fun time at the swim up bar chatting with one of the bartenders. In the evening we headed back over to Riu Palace Aruba to have a drink in the lobby before dinner at Krystal back at our Resort. Overall, the dinner was okay. I had the lobster risotto which was a little stiff. Glenn has the duck which was overcooked. Nothing like the amazing meals we had the two nights prior. After dinner, we went and heard a singer next door and then came back for the evening show at our Resort. Evening show was a ton of fun. It was a circus theme different acrobats and a fire dancer. We really liked it. Then I stopped for a late night hot dog and off to bed.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

6.10.16 Lazy Day and Dinner at Wilhelmina

Today we spent a lazy day next to the pool. The winds keep it cool. We met a nice couple from Ohio at the pool bar. Before dinner we went over to the RIU Palace Aruba for a drink at their Sports Bar. The bars over there are nicer and have better booze ie. Bombay Sapphire and flavored Absolut.

We got a taxi and headed to Wilhelmina for dinner. We choose the 5 course tasting menu. It was fantastic though it took about 3 hours. It was a good reminder not to do two tasting menu dinner in a row sine we were a little twitchy by the end. We met a fun couple from New Jersey.

The menu was:
Pulled pork bitter ball and fish soup
Homemade pastrami with goat cheese fritters
Halibut with a carrot buerre blanc with herring caviar
Seared scallop with Boston lettuce, seaweed, tarragon butter sauce
Veal chop with vegetables, gnocchi, truffle and mushroom sauce
Chocolate banana trifle with strawberry sauce

The sauces were out of this world.

We also got some recommendations for our next visit: Madame Jeanette, Flying Fishbowl - get the reservation in the water, Ike's Bistro, Screaming Eagle

We tried to go to Bar Salon at the resort when we got back, but we didn't like the duo performing so we headed to bed.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

6.9.16 RIU Palace Antilles

We headed over to the Orlando Airport early this morning. It was a good thing because it took us 30 minutes of the Southwest counter to get a boarding pass. TSA security was a breeze. We learn that Southwest doesn't set up PreCheck for international flights so that's a bummer moving forward. We had time to get a little breakfast and upgrade your boarding position. We got emergency exit row seats and had the middle seat open which is a huge win. The flight was uneventful.

We landed in Aruba and customs and immigration was a breeze. It took less than 10 minutes. We had gotten a free shared shuttle so we took it. We got on the bus at 2:03 p.m. and we're at our Resort at 2:53 p.m. We did stop at a couple other resorts.

Our first impression of the Riu Palace antillas was good. Check in with easy. Our room is fine. I was surprised we had real liquor in our room and addition to beer and sodas and water. We have a nice balcony with a good view overlooking the pool in the ocean.

We headed down and grabbed a snack at the buffet near the pool. We spent a little time at the pool bar. The one thing about Aruba is that it is really windy and that means that everyone's around you get pelted with sand at the pool bar.

Tonight we are headed to kitchen table by white for dinner because Riu has this crazy policy where you can only make same day or the next day dinner reservations between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. So we decided on this trip we would make hotel reservations outside the resort even though it doesn't all inclusive to try some of the amazing restaurants we've heard about in Aruba.

Dinner at Kitchen Table by White was fantastic. The restaurant has 16 seats and one seating per night. You start with a glass of champagne on the terrace to watch the sunset. Then you move downstairs. It's set up like a U shaped counter so you can watch the chefs plate. It's a six course meal and we opted to include the wine pairing.

The theme was Dutch Caribbean. The menu was inventive. We found most of fish to be overcooked to our taste, but the sauces were amazing! We liked how we got a little break after the first 3 courses to head outside with a little lemon sorbet and prosecco. Glenn's favorite dish was the lamb. I loved this amazing pea sauce. The tuna appetizer and the dessert were both complex, interesting dishes. We first looked at them lokr "what the heck?", but then as we dug in - it was delicious. wonderful night!!

6.8.16 Waldorf Astoria and Bull and Bear

We are headed to Aruba for a long weekend.  I earned a trip so we planned it over the anniversary of our engagement. Let's be announcement, I would use the anniversary of a ziploc bag opening as an excuse to take a trip.

The nonstop from Orlando with the best flight option so we headed over to the Orlando area to spend the night before our mid-morning flight. We decided to try the Waldorf Astoria Orlando located near Disney World. It is a lovely Hotel. It has a great lounge, pool, and the guest rooms are well appointed.

We had dinner at Bull & Bear Steakhouse. It was fantastic. We tried this great wine called The Prisoner Wine Company Blindfolded. It's a white wine blend that paired great with this amazing corn chowder that Glenn had and that escargot gnocchi that I had. Glenn tried the wedge salad. It had an  innovative presentation, but he prefers a traditional one. This one had a Russian dressing. I had the heirloom tomato salad. The tomatoes were not great, but the homemade burratta was amazing. We decided to share the 38 ounce cote du bouef. It came with a table-side presentation where the service Captain carved it for us. It was the best ribeye I have ever had. Waiter said that they sous vide the beef and then put it in the fire. I will dream about this steak.

For dessert,  we tried the signature lemon dessert which I highly recommend. We also tried the crème brulee. It came to the table on fire.  The custard was really good. It was light and airy and flavorful. But topping didn't have that hard crack you like on a crème brulee.

A wonderful start to the weekend.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

5.27.16 - 5.30.16 Chloe's 5th birthday

We headed back to Indiana to celebrate Chloe's and Jack's birthdays. Chloe turned 5 and Jack turned 10. It was fun to see the family and celebrate. Saturday, we had our family photo shoot and Chloe's party in the afternoon.

Sunday afternoon, Sara, Travis, Glenn, and I headed to Escape Room. We tried the Hoosier Hysteria challenge and did a great job! We worked well as a team and figured the puzzles. It was so fun! After dinner, we went to Weber Grill for dinner. It was a fun night out.

Monday, I played the laziest game of catch with Chloe. I sat in a lawn chair in the driveway and she threw me the ball. It was fun.

Monday, May 16, 2016

5.12.16 - 5.15.16 Grand Palladium Vallarta Resort and Spa

For our 7th anniversary, we headed to Grand Palladium Vallarta just north of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I was so impressed with the Puerto Vallarta airport. We zipped through customs and immigration and were on our way to the resort.

Grand Palladium is a family resort. The staff was SO friendly. We really felt like they would do anything for us. Every staff person we passed said hello. It was a little weird being at the Swim Up Bar and having a kid swim right next to me.

We'd start the day at the buffet. It was amazing!! It had everything you possibly want for breakfast. We loved it! Then, we'd head to adults only infinity pool to watch  the surfers.



We spent the afternoons at the main pool because we really like the activities: trivia, the music, dance lessons, and live music.





We even won trivia!


This was quite a challenge since many of the questions were in Spanish. The demographics at the resort were mostly Mexican citizens, Canadians, and a couple Americans.

In the evenings, we would go to dinner. The restaurants were a la carte. The food was okay. Nothing was terrible, but nothing wowed us. We liked we didn't need reservations. The house wine was drinkable and the service was slow, but friendly. Then we would go to the adults only bar that had the top shelf cocktails before the evening show. The evening show was an A for effort. It was as full hour long production with acrobatics, multiple costume changes, and lots of dancing.  I think because we'd just come from a dance competition, we were a little more critical of the dancing than we would have normally been.

Overall, we really enjoyed the trip.