Cincinnati’s Best Culinary Secret is 105-Years-Old

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The Queen City is in a bit of a renaissance right now, with many fabulous restaurants opening up all over town. So many great spots have debuted in the last three years that it is hard to keep up.

But that doesn’t mean the old isn’t great, too.

We recently dined at Scotti’s Italian, a small restaurant on Vine Street with a century of history in the city. We left asking, “Why haven’t we done this before?”

Places like this don’t come around every day. Immediately upon walking in, it is easy to feel transported to Italy. The charming décor features olive oil bottles across the ceiling, a hodgepodge of tile on the walls, low lighting, wine bottle candlelight, unique family artwork, and small tables that promote intimate dining.

The food is even better, and the menu might have the largest selection of pasta, veal, and Italian favorites in the city. I ordered mozzarella pasta, while my husband tried the breaded and stuffed loin of veal ala Guido. Both of our dishes came with minestrone soup, bread, and house salad. Our group also tired the spumoni for desert.

We’ll be back. You should go, too!

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Traveling? Bet on Longchamp

Handbags have been a bit of an obsession of mine for years. I love a good clutch, a rare vintage find, and a classic style.

And that’s part of why Longchamp tops my list of “must-have” handbags while traveling.

There’s just something about this brand, a French import that is known for sleek luggage, small leather goods, fashion accessories, and, of course, timeless handbags.  I’m in good company here– Duchess Catherine and her sister Pippa are also known Longchamp addicts.

My favorite bags come from the Le Pilage line, a series of bags developed in 1993 that took the world by storm and haven’t gone out of style since. These bags are foldable, packable, and roomy. They provide a wealth of uses, and they wipe clean if anything get spilled on them. I find them to be essential whenever I’m gone for a few days or a week. They never let me down.

Never tried one? You should. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

The Palm Beach Grill Serves Up Top Notch Smoked Salmon

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I love a good salmon. Especially a smoked one.

There’s just something about the savory and salty flavors that always draws me to it. I can’t resist. If I’m at a restaurant and it is on the menu, chances are–I’ll order it.

And recently, I had a smoked salmon that put all the others to shame.

The Palm Beach Grill is known as a ubiquitous gathering spot in Palm Beach, and it has served the community for the last few decades. A spot at the bar is tough to get on a Friday or Saturday night, and a reservation is even harder. Not only is this a fun place to people watch and socialize, it’s also a great spot for some delightful food.

And the smoked salmon here just might be the best I’ve ever tasted. I loved it so much, I had to take a photo of it. I had to write a blog post about it. I’ve spent the last few days dreaming about it.

In short, if you’re ever at this restaurant–order it!

Kyle Richards’s Boutique Spices Up Palm Beach

Palm Beach is known for its fabulous shopping. It’s a cornerstone of any trip to the island, and there’s hardly anything a person desires that they won’t find here. And last year, Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills fame, opened up a Palm Beach arm of her celebrated boutique, Kyle by Alene Too.

I had a chance to visit it for the first time this week.

Located on Royal Poinciana Way, the store is well-positioned to capitalize on the Palm Beach crowd, as well as daily visitors from West Palm Beach and beyond. I found the store delightful, and the selection a reflection of Kyle’s own colorful and trendy style. Many of the clothes work well in Palm Beach, but could easily fit in Beverly Hills, too. I saw a sweatshirt I simply had to have, and I’ve got my eye on a few other items. The boutique also maintains a selection of purses, small gift items, and accessories.

In other words, there is something in the store for everyone.

So what’s the verdict? I’ll be back. For sure.

The Circle Brunch Really IS That Good

It’s a long-standing fact: I love brunch.

It’s one of my favorite weekend traditions, and I’m always down for a bottomless mimosa, some eggs Benedict, waffles, and a Bloody Mary. I stay on the lookout for epic brunch spots in whatever city I visit.

One that I’ve always heard about is The Circle Brunch at The Breakers in Palm Beach. Now, we’ve vacationed on the island since 2011, but we’ve never made the leap and brunched at The Circle.

Why? Well, it is expensive. It comes with a price tag that is not for the faint of heart. We’ve talked it over a few times, and categorized it as something we’d do on a special occasion. Happily, that time came recently. Two friends came to visit us in Palm Beach, and we capped off the weekend with brunch for four.

And yes, The Circle really does put on the best brunch buffet I’ve ever tasted. You want it? It’s there. Sushi, caviar, waffles, a Bloody Mary bar, more deserts than you can shake a stick at, salmon, Nutella crepes, salads, fresh fruit, bottomless mimosas, and more. It’s a fantasy for the foodie. Really, I don’t know why I expected anything less. The Breakers does everything right. Even brunch.

If you’re ever in Palm Beach, don’t miss it!

My Palm Beach Essentials

Ahhh, winter.

I don’t like it. It’s not the snow that bothers me, or the cold… it’s the endless days of both. When show first falls, I love it, but once it hangs around for more than 48 hours. I’m over it. I need a break to somewhere warm, sunny, and beachy.

For the last five years, that place has been Palm Beach, FL. We started going in 2011 (ironically the island’s centennial) and fell in love. My husband and I begged each other to go back as often as we could, and I’m thankful we’ve been able fulfill that wish.

A short (or long) escape to Palm Beach comes with its own tips and tricks. It truly is a different world there–a beach town that’s never really buttoned down, but a place that is also what full-time resident James Patterson calls “Disneyland for adults.”

Over the last few years, I’ve cultivated essentials for a trip there–a few things I can throw in a bag and use to get by no matter what we get into on that island.

Today, I’m sharing that list with you. Hopefully, it will also give you some ideas for your next beach vacation, wherever that might be. Without further ado, here’s my list of Five Palm Bach Must-Haves:

 1. A Lilly Pulitzer Scarf. It’s practically a sin to step foot on Palm Beach without some Lilly in your bag, and a light-weight, versatile scarf does the job beautifully.

2. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. Has there ever been a better lipstick invented in the history of man-kind? This shade looks fantastic on everyone, and goes from day-to-night in a snap.

3. A classic pair of Palm Beach Sandals. Jackie Kennedy loved them, and she started a timeless trend that keeps going strong even today. These sandals aren’t just comfortable, they are easy to dress up or down. Your feet will also look and feel great, which is the number one rule.

4. An oversized straw hat. Skin cancer is real, folks, and apart from lathering on the SPF (which you should do every day no matter where you live), a large straw hat can give you an extra boost of protection and a dash of fashion right along with it. You can never go wrong with one!

5. A simple tote. You’ve gotta have something to take around the island as you shop for finds and stop by the beach. I love a simple, crisp tote that goes from beach to lunch. Can’t leave home without one!

 

The Drake Hotel: Romance in the Heart of Chicago

A few weeks ago, a trip to Chicago had us hunting for the perfect hotel stay in the Windy City’s downtown. We found it at The Drake.

Of course, right?

 You might have heard of The Drake. I certainly had. Over the years, I’ve read about it in books, and heard it referenced in films. I know the hotel has a storied history, but nothing prepared me for the stately place that it really is in person.

We stayed two nights in a room with a king-sized bed, and in most hotels the size of our room would have qualified it as a junior suite. Amenities included two full bathrooms, a large sofa and seating area, a mini bar, bathrobes, and super-soft sheets. When we walk through the small foyer, I almost never wanted to leave.

But leave, we did.

And the rest of the hotel enchanted me as well. From drinks at Cog D’ Or to breakfast at The Drake Bros, this hotel is one of the most romantic hotels in the city. We topped off our visit with dinner at The Cape Cod Room, a legendary spot where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio carved their initials in the bar.

So what I’m saying is–go.

You won’t be sorry that you did.