After the wedding in San Jose, we had a couple of days to explore the surrounding landscape. If you ever find yourself in San Jose, there are some great tours to take advantage of. We decided to make the most of our free day and opted for the “combination tour,” consisting of Doka Estate coffee, Poas Volcano, and La Paz Waterfall Gardens. It was a full day of sight-seeing and walking, but it was totally worth it.
We started the tour at Doka, where we had a traditional Costa Rican breakfast (and coffee, of course) and walked through the roasting process. Almost a century old, this estate still produces some of the best coffee in Costa Rica. After the tour, we made a couple stops along the way to Poas, one being a rest stop selling fresh cheese and coffee and where we met the sweetest mountain dog.
It was an incredibly misty morning, so we only got a few glimpses of the volcano as the wind blew the clouded cover. The national park was gorgeous, though, and we took an hour-long walk through the forest and saw some amazing plants and flowers. The beautiful scenery continued on our drive to the La Paz Waterfall Gardens, where we encountered orchids, butterflies, tropical birds, wild cats, and a series of majestic waterfalls – the perfect end to our day.
A couple weekends ago I took a slightly spontaneous trip to visit my best friend, Brittany, in Chicago. I had been trying to make this trip happen for about a year, when I realized that I had to get there before winter rolled into the windy city.
We landed on a perfectly brisk and sunny weekend, the best kind for exploring. One of my highlights was walking around Brittany’s adorable neighborhood of Andersonville, drinking coffee, and getting brunch at a local spot – Big Jones – where we had the tastiest shrimp and grits, griddle cakes, popovers, salt & pepper biscuits, and complimentary beignets. It was carb overload and I was in heaven.
We also did a little sight-seeing and visited the “big hits” like The Bean and Dylan’s Candy Bar, and caught an amazing view of the city from the Willis Tower, cocktail in hand.
When I went down to Richmond a couple weekend’s ago, B and I found a couple of gems on our adventure together. Our first mission: eat all the donuts. Promptly after I arrived in RVA, we jumped in the car to get to Sugar Shack Donuts, known for their amazing – you guessed it – donuts. It was insanely hard to choose which delectable doughy rounds to include in our box of a half dozen, but we settled on a chocolate glaze, strawberry, banana, coconut, Samoa (which tasted just like the Girl Scout cookie!), and my personal favorite – a simple sugar.
And if you give a girl a donut, she’ll want some coffee to go with it… so we headed to Shockoe Espresso & Roastery for our second mission: drink all the coffee. Shockoe has a very impressive wall of beans – some they roast in-house, and others from roasters like Mill Mountain Coffee in Roanoke, Virginia. I ordered a cappuccino to sip along with our donuts, while B opted for a cafe au laite – both very good. I left with a very happy tummy and a bag of Mill Mountain’s Ethiopian Harrar beans that I have been using for my pour over coffee in the morning. Delish!
Shockoe had a great atmosphere with their light-filled space and brick walls, and was the first of three coffee shops we visited that day. Needless to say, we were hopped up on caffeine the entire afternoon. A day in the life of a coffee lover…
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like we bypassed fall entirely, but I am totally not ready for the wear-your-heaviest-coat-and-warmest-boots-weather that is inevitably coming our way this winter. Apparently I missed our small sweater weather window (where was I, under a rock?!) and I will be moping about it sufficiently until there is at least some fun snow to play in. I know what you’re thinking, “but moping isn’t productive, Jackie”, and you are absolutely right. I’ve been slowly building my mental arsenal of indoor activities, ranging from not-so-productive movie watching to uber-productive-and-festive ornament making with my roommate’s girlfriend, and I’m getting really excited about it. I’m usually in hyper drive, so I’ll take any excuse (especially freezing weather) to stay inside and be cozy.
One of my favorite things lately is making coffee – hot, aromatic, and comforting coffee. And no, not just any old coffee from a drip coffee maker, but experimenting with the pour over method. I received a burr grinder and ceramic dripper as gifts a few months ago and never looked back. There’s just something special about brewing your own coffee in your own home (preferably in your pajamas), discovering nuances about different beans and taking the time to learn how to control every variable in the brewing process. I digress, but I’m definitely feeling a dedicated post about home brew pour over. Yes?
There’s just something about New York in the fall that makes me feel all tingly inside. Work brings me to New York twice a year, but it’s the November trip that gives me the warm and fuzzies. Twinkling lights delicately outline branches on the trees along 50th Street all the way to Rockefeller Center, people briskly walk from store to store with loads of shopping bags in tow, and vendors line the streets on chilly Saturday mornings to sell fresh fruits and vegetables to eager customers. One of my favorite things to do during my free time on Saturday is to walk through bustling Chinatown. After a delicious dim sum brunch at Nom Wah Tea Parlor on Doyers St., we hit the streets to explore with friends. Not too long after, we were happy owners of 2 lbs of fresh bok choy and hot cups of freshly brewed coffee from Roasting Plant.