I do know it’s Thursday, and I’m sorry for the late Tourist Tuesday – but I’ve been lazy and thoroughly enjoying my vacation. However, now I’m back in London and probably just in time too because being on holiday was making me…doughy.
Ryan and I left Colorado and arrived in Farmington, Connecticut on December 29 and my parents fed us incredibly well all the way until we left on January 6. Hence, getting doughy. When we arrived, we had Christmas Part 2 and my dad made an amazing, and giant, steak. And the eating did not stop there. Wonderfully, my family made sure to check off everything on my American food check list. The next day we went out for bagels slathered with cream cheese, and I had mine topped with lox. We also went to a cute place called Monte Alban. I had steak fajitas and the meat was marinated in some awesome citrus marinade. There was also a delicious corn mash that was so good we asked for extras. We also went out for burgers, I had a milk shake, and another day I had a Philly cheese steak. My parents also cooked us seafood lasagna and a Puerto Rican feast. See what I’m talking about? I’m lucky my clothes still fit!
Meals weren’t the only time we went crazy. Snacked on a lot of Oreos. Oreos remind me of the lunches Papa used to pack for me when I was in school. My parents had “winter” Oreos, which have red cream and cookies with cutsey winter designs. Ryan and I later went to Target and were a little overwhelmed by the amount of Oreo choices. It’s crazy! There are regular and double stuffed Oreos, but then there are birthday cakes, golden, mint, fudge, peanut butter, mega stuff, chocolate, pumpkin spice, and triple double. And there might even be more kinds that I can’t even remember. It was a little overwhelming. In fact, I fear I’m acclimating to London too well. I was walking through Target trying to buy ingredients for a recipe and everything was so huge. I kept saying things like, “I don’t need this much flour!” and “why is this can of oats so gigantic?” That felt weird and vaguely un-American.
But, I promise you I did more in Connecticut than eat – sort of. For New Year’s Eve we went to Barley Vine, a restaurant owned by my mom’s cousin Victor. Barley Vine is a really cute gastropub that offers tons of craft beers and really delicious cocktails. They had a few signature ones for New Years Eve, but generally they also have really inventive cocktails and interesting flavors of moonshine. It’s yummy. We had dinner – and of course it was decadent – a steak with a lobster tail. Then we danced, saw the ball drop, danced some more, then drove home quoting lines from the movie Nacho Libre. Why? I don’t know. The movie is funny and maybe we’d had a few cocktails.
Ryan and I also spent some time exploring Farmington and the nearby areas. I drove “my car,” which is the red one in the photo at the top. I call it my car because it was mine through high school and college and even though it’s now over 10 years old, I still love it. It’s a stick shift, and I hadn’t driven a car since before moving to London, and I haven’t driven a stick since our honeymoon… but when I was in that car it felt like old times. I felt 16 again, even though both me and the car are definitely not as young and fresh as we used to be. Ryan is super kind about my car and says things like, “I see how this was a cool car.” But also, that car is so old it feels rickety and makes some rattly noises when it drives.
I also went on a gorgeous walk with Ryan and my mom. We drove a little ways outside of Farmington and drove toward this path by a river. There were some houses along the path and they wrote semi passive-aggressive notes on the road telling people to be quiet. It was chilly and crisp, but the sky was bright and blue, and the river was lovely. I’m glad we took our walk when we did, because the next day it snowed.
My mom has been talking about visiting a nearby museum called the Hill-Stead and I finally went. The Hill-Stead is a Colonial Revival house designed by a woman called Theodate Pope Riddle and in her will she asked for the house to become a museum. The exterior of the house and the grounds are very pretty, but I expected the tour to be like any other historic house museum tour. I was totally wrong. This place is really special! I’m so mad visitors aren’t allowed to take picture inside – so I hope you can suffice with the pretty snow scenes. Anyway, Theodate’s father was an incredible art collector. In the house there are numerous paintings by Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Eduoard Manet and many others. My favorite Degas is called Dancers in Pink. The ballet dancers are wearing these vivid, almost shocking, pink costumes. I feel like it’s rare to see such bright pinks. The house also has two of Claude Monet’s haystacks. Seeing the art at the Hill-Stead was better than seeing it at any museum. It was so intimate! As visitors we could get closer to the paintings and see all the textures and brush strokes. Beyond paintings, there were fancy clocks, Asian pottery, and even some Greek vases.
Ryan and I also popped to New York for a day to meet up with Ryan’s mom and sister. We had a great time walking around the city. I made them go to a lot my old stomping grounds. We went to Chelsea Market and the Donut Pub. We walked passed my old building, I lived somewhere in the yellow-ish part of the building on the top right. We ate pizza at John’s of Bleecker Street, which is Ryan’s favorite. They didn’t have cream soda this time, but the pizza was still good. (You see I can’t stop eating!) We walked to Washington Square Park and looked at NYU and then on to Momofuku Milk Bar (for more eating). We also saw puppies in a shop window. I know, I know, puppies from a shop like that probably come from a puppy mill but they were so damn cute. I definitely squealed “please Ryan please can we have one!” Sigh. We also went to Eataly and passed the Flat Iron Building. I may have eaten a lot, but at least I was walking it off. I spent the last day in Connecticut on the couch subjecting my whole family to a Harry Potter movie marathon (Eric bought me all the DVDs for Christmas, so it is his fault). It was nice and cozy just relaxing with my family. We ended the day by celebrating Three Kings Day. We exchanged presents and ate an amazing seafood lasagna my mom made (yes, even more eating). Overall, I had a lovely week in Connecticut with my family and a great two weeks in the US. But, after a lovely vacation I’m happy to be back in London. I’ll be back next week with more recipes – hopefully nice healthful ones for the New Year.