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We Survived the First Year of Marriage….and all we got was a trip to Thailand!

Photo by Julian Mackler, Rockhouse, Negril, Jamaica, Day after Blewish Wedding

People LOVE asking newly-married people the same question:

“How is the first year of marriage???”

That is QUITE the question. Do you give the expected, “It’s been wonderful!” and go about your merry way?? Or do you keep it (too) real with the “It’s mostly great, except for the times I want to kill him/her!” and laugh like it’s a joke even though you really mean it? I tend to go with a big ol’ grin and say “We made it!”

So, you’re probably wondering, how WAS the first year of marriage??

It was beautiful. It was terrifying. It was heart-breaking. It was educational. It was earth-shattering. It was hard. It was easy. It was enlightening. It was full of breathtaking highs and gut-wrenching lows. But most importantly for us, it was a strong and enduring partnership between two people who (thankfully) really, really like each other.

I can’t and wouldn’t want to give people marriage advice because every relationship is so singular. But I do have a couple of suggestions. These might feel painfully obvious, and if so, use them as needed reminders:

  • Regardless of who you are with, those highs and lows will happen. Be with someone that you can’t WAIT to celebrate those amazing moments with and who will never leave your side during life’s darkest days.
  • Take some time to learn who you are and how you operate within your marriage/relationship. We are all constantly learning and evolving as individuals, but I had to understand what type of a partner I am. Be patient with yourself and your significant other as you learn how to function as a team. Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t organically happen immediately.
  • Spend time with each other and if you can, get the hell out of dodge! Maybe you don’t have the time or credit card points to go across the world (what, you thought we actually had the money to go to Thailand??); so road trip an hour away to a B&B or shut out the world for one night by turning off your phones and computers, make dinner, and talk to each other.

So yes, we SURVIVED the first year of marriage. If I’m being honest, I think I love Jay a little more than I did in April of 2015. And that, to me, is the biggest indicator of a successful first year of marriage.

SOOO….THAILAND????

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Okay, yes, Thailand, the important part!  Our wedding anniversary is the same week as both of our birthdays (I know, so obnoxious, right???). So for our first anniversary and 32nd birthdays we went to Thailand!! I wrote a very, very, very long post about our trip, so I’ve broken it up in parts.

Want to read about what we ate and loved??? Check out the Thailand Eats post.

What to read about what we drank??? Thailand Boozing!

Want to read about the most disappointing $450 meal ever at the TOP restaurant in Asia. Read on about Gaggan. Be warned, lots of snark.

 

 

 

 

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What I ate in….Thailand!

For two weeks, Jay and I ate our way through Thailand to celebrate our birthdays and first wedding anniversary.  We stayed in three gorgeous hotels, that I’d HIGHLY recommend in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket.

As for food, we ate EVERYTHING. We ate fancy, we ate cheap. We ate the unidentifiable and the things we still don’t know what they were (Mal, babe, that was def chicken feet). We had a lot of hits, one major miss and only minor stomach issues, so as far as a food-based vacation, I’d consider it a win.

Let’s start with the bad. The bad was so disappointing, it has its own post. We were so excited to eat at Gaggan, the #1 restaurant in all of Asia (do you know how big Asia is?). It’s also #10 in the world. The horror….the disappointment….the amount of money we spent on it. So much sadness. Click here to read about it.

But this is a happy place – so let’s talk about the things I ate that made me HAPPY. My top eats in no particular order:

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Thailand Drankin!

Mekhong!

Like most big cities, Bangkok is a great drinking town. Want a cheap beer to beat the heat, there’s plenty of Chang. But there are also plenty of other kicked-up cocktails to be discovered.

Before heading to Thailand, I had read a lot about how Bangkok has a thriving cocktail scene. On our first night, we ended up going to two of the most innovative bars – Tep Bar and Teens of Thailand. Tep is a neighborhood bar full of locals, with a few of us foreigners sneaking in. There we got to experience Mekhong, aka Thai whiskey, which, as you can see below, has some very inventive names. If you like stronger liquors as we do, the Mekhong makes some great cocktails.

Our server encouraged us to check out Teens of Thailand, which I had heard about, but hadn’t realized was nearby. We loved the first couple of drinks at TOT, but as we neared the end, our sweet, gentle giant server approached us and asked if he could make us something special.

I had no idea that Gin and Tonics were such a force in Thailand. I spent most of my early drinking years believing Gin and Tonics were these horrific, overly junipery things that I hated – until I experienced DC’s Jaleo and Estadio and learned what a real G&T was like.

Back at TOT, our server brought me a Thai Tea Gin & Tonic, which was one of the most delightful drinks I’ve ever had. It had the citrus notes of a thai tea, but was herbal and just a tad sweet. I loved this drink so much. Namsaah Bottling Trust, which served great food, also had some herbaceous and fragrant Gin and Tonics as well, including a lavender infused drink which was incredibly refreshing during the hot Bangkok nights.

Thai Tea G&T

We spent a couple of nights at the enjoyable Hyde and Seek which has one of the largest cocktail menus I’ve ever seen. Close to our hotel, it was the perfect spot for a nightcap. Vesper also has a delightful cocktail scene and we loved Smalls‘ atmosphere (and they had Titos!).

One of the most fun cocktails I had was the Tom Yum Cocktail at Sri Panwa in Phuket. Our Phuket hotel was one of the most beautiful places on earth, and while it had some great food, I found many of the cocktails a bit too sweet. That was until I discovered the Tom Yum cocktail, which was a play off of tom yum soup. When I ordered this, I didn’t realize it’d take 10 minutes to make, but it was worth every second. The cocktail packed a spicy punch, as they used real chilies, with hints of lime and a little bit of sweetness. It was the perfect poolside vacation drink.

So, have no fear, discerning drinkers! A lot of vacation spots have a bad reputation of fruity, boozeless concoctions that leave you with a headache and not much else. Thailand, fortunately, is not one of those places. Whatever you are looking for to whet your whistle, you’ll be able to find it in the Land of Smiles.

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Gaggan-tic Fail

I’m not quite sure how to put our experience at Gaggan into words, but I’ll try.

Words we used that night were “challenging,” “awful,” “um, no,” “oh, dear, that texture,” and “why couldn’t everything have tasted like that??” Let me start from the beginning.

When planning our trip to Thailand, we learned that Bangkok has not one, but two top 25 restaurants in the world. One, Nahm, we knew about and had planned from early on to check out. But Gaggan was new to us. It was also recently voted the #1 restaurant in Asia. That’s huge. We had to go. We booked a reservation a month out and eagerly awaited. Lauding Trip Advisor reviews and high critical claim stoked our excitement

Gaggan describes itself as a “progressive Indian” menu. A set menu at 3500++ baht is a lot for a meal in Thailand, but when you’re talking the top meal in a continent, $100 pp is easy to excuse.

We arrived at Gaggan, a colonial style white house hidden down a dark alley. Awash in uplights, it was a gorgeous setting against the dusky Bangkok night. We walked in giddy. I wish future me had been able to warn present me.

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What I ate in…Richmond!

I love Richmond. I’m not sure why. I’ve been three times in the past couple of years and each time I’ve only stayed for one night. But during each brief visit, I’ve had great meals, discovered some good shopping and found some quality cocktails. This past weekend was no exception.

I met my best girl Brittany, who lives in Raleigh, there on Saturday. The halfway point between DC and the Triangle, it was the perfect meeting spot for us to hang for a night.

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As great of a time as we had, we could have hung out in a Motel 6 in east bumble and it would have been perfect. With all of our “busy” schedules, I personally value the time I get to spend with my friends who live near and far. Although it was just one night, I think we were both happy to leave the kids (hers, real and human; mine, furry and canine) with the husbands and just focus on ourselves. Brittany and I went to college together, and as much as our lives have changed since our Tar Heel days, our friendship has grown stronger with time. I’ve loved watching her become the woman she is today and am eternally grateful for her friendship.

But enough mush – here’s what we loved!

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Where to stay: We shacked it up at the brand new Quirk Hotel. Beautiful rooms, comfy beds, great bar. Because of our new overlord, Rain, we didn’t get to check out the rooftop, so that was a bit of a bummer. But the hotel was charming and full of….yes, quirk! They also have Nest soaps and lotions and now I’m totally buying the Sicilian Tangerine soap because it smells amazing. Quirk Hotel, 201 W. Broad St.

Where to shop: You know when you set out to “go shopping”, but not actually buy anything?? We attempted to do that, but failed due to the cuteness of mod&soul. The shop owner was darling and had JUST opened her brick and mortar store. I bought this shirt and this dress, which has strategically placed lines and a deep-V, aka my two favorite clothing features. This dress is begging to be worn on a beach….if the sun ever decides to show itself again. mod&soul, 323 W.Broad St.

 

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Where to eat dinner: Food and drinks at Heritage were delicious. I advise grabbing a reservation as it is small and popular. The food Gods smiled on us and we got seats at the bar fairly quickly (which I actually love doing at restaurants). We chatted it up with owner and bartender, Mattias Häaglund, about Richmond, his restaurant and his 3-month old baby boy who he was smitten with. The Pork Fries were really good, but the Fried Broccoli and Thai style Soft Shell Crab stole the show. Served with a Japanese Mayo, the Fried Broccoli crunched and basically melted in your mouth. The soft shell crab special was two perfectly fried crabs served with a sweet, spicy Thai curry sauce and bok choy. Absolutely loved it. Heritage, 1627 W. Main St.

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Where to drank: Richmond’s cocktail scene is having some fun and I sampled way too much of it for one night. Mattias at the aforementioned Heritage made me a Belle Isle Brace Up, created with Belle Isle Honey Habenero Moonshine, a local product, and mixed with lemon, lime and rhubarb bitters. It was way too drinkable. I loved it. Damn you, moonshine.

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They steered us to Balliceaux for some Thai-esque cocktails (I promise, I eat/drink things that aren’t Thai-inspired). My Kampot in 1806 was a good twist on a Manhattan, but Brittany’s Rap Game was so fun. The rum-coconut concoction felt familiar, but mixed with root beer and served with a salty pretzel that muted the sweetness, this made me wish I was on a beach. Apparently, they have K-pop dance parties in the back which we sadly missed out on. Balliceaux, 203 N. Lombardy St.

We stopped at Saison for a final nightcap. I kept it simple with a rye old fashioned but it was well-made and $6. Perfect end to the night. Saison, 23 W. Marshall St. 

Where to order late night food: Because I obviously needed a second dinner, I called room service to ask if they were open. They were not, but directed me to J. Kogi, aka KOREAN DELIVERY. You know how most late night delivery is shit?? This was legit amazing. I got the soy garlic wings, which avoided the dreaded delivery sogginess and were surprisingly crispy and a bulgogi rib eye bowl with bacon kimchi fried rice. As Britt slept, I ate three wings, took two bites of the ribeye bowl, declared it amazing and promptly passed out. I hope I never change. J Kogi, Wherever you need it to be.

Where to brunch: Okay, so, DON’T go to where we ate. I won’t even mention it. Do check out the Roosevelt instead. We were told to eat brunch there, we did not, we regretted it. Learn from my mistakes. Apparently, Heritage also has a great brunch, but we thought it’d be a bit excessive to do dinner and breakfast there (although, I’d definitely try it on my next go round). Roosevelt, 623 N. 25th St.

Where to caffeinate: Before I hopped on 95 to join the masses heading north, I grabbed an iced red eye, French Bun and Almond Croissant from Whisk. Surprisingly, both pastries made it back to the District and Jay and I split them. Flaky, buttery, awesome. An adorable coffee shop and bakery. Whisk, 2100 E. Main St.  

So, my lovelies! Do you have any Richmond spots that you love? What’s your favorite easy road trip from your house?? Tell me, tell me so I can check them out, I’m always up for an adventure!

xo

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What I Ate In….Chicago!

I casually strolled into the reputable restaurant, expecting to breezily get a table. I assumed the folks standing around were just there for drinks and headed to the host stand and requested a table for two.

“Hmm, yes – that’ll be about a 30-45 minute wait, and that may bump into when the kitchen is closing, so you may not get to eat.” Wait.

No, I was not at some new hot spot in New York at 10:00 on a Friday night. I was in Chicago on a Thursday at 2pm! I knew the Chicago restaurant scene was SERIOUS (do you know how many bars and restaurants they have that you have to pre-purchase tickets for??), but I was not prepared for potential lunch rejection from what I lovingly dub an upscale diner.

Fortunately, after about 25 minutes, our names were called and we were sat at Au Cheval. And Lord, am I glad we were. I would describe Au Cheval as kicked up diner food. Everything we had was a better version of comfort food that we love. What we ate and drank: Continue Reading