My Love Affair with Pizza

I remember back in grade school on the first day we would always pair up with someone and ask questions to get to know our classmates. Always things like “What’s your favorite color?” or “What’s your favorite song?” Always, always the question: “What’s your favorite food?” I remember answering this question the same for a few years: “Pizza” as did other kids. I remember one year one of my teachers got a little annoyed at this saying, “Come on everyone! Pizza is such a boring answer! Not very creative!” I tended to agree with her, but the more and more I experienced different pizza from different parts of not just the USA but in other countries – pizza is not boring at all!

Growing up in New England (Massachusetts) it was normal to have pizza one night a week (still do, sorry not sorry). We had hundreds (it felt like) mom and pop places to choose from, all with their different special. I remember Wednesday nights it was buy one get one free at the pizza spot across the street from my ballet studio. We’d pick it up on the way home and it was delicious. Nothing too special – regular (not super think) crust, cheese, pepperoni and marinara. Got the job done and it wasn’t Pizza Hut or Dominos (ew). But little did I know this isn’t the case everywhere. In New England there are a lot of Italian families that passed on their family’s tradition of supplying pizza to the masses. But places like California I found to be very different.

Bar, New Haven

Moving to Connecticut opened the door to New Haven pizza. People are always asking me, “What’s the big deal with New Haven pizza? It’s just pizza.” To those I say – “Um no, lets go to Bar.” Seriously, I’m all about pizza education. Bar is my
favorite pizza spot in New Haven because of their amazing coal-fired crust and their mashed potato pie. Yes I said mashed potato. Globs of mashed potatoes are put on top with garlic, awesome cheese and of course bacon. Sounds weird, but trust me – one of the best things you’ll put in your mouth or smell. New Haven also has Frank Pepe’s (get the clam pizza) and Modern. My other two favorites that you would not have to twist my arm to go to. The thing about New Haven pizza is you can track the

Old menu at Modern in New Haven (Amy Kundrat, Eater)

history of the city with pizza.

Frank’s was the first and the nationally-acclaimed and then the rest followed. They fed the workers in that area with their pizza on their lunch breaks. Pizza is deeply rooted in that city and other cities on the east coast, the most obvious one being New York City.

Okay how the hell am I going on and on about New Haven pizza knowing the king of pizza (NYC) is just less than 2 hours away. New York pizza is a little different as the crusts vary in thickness (New Haven style is really thin) and there are different ovens around the city. I’ve been lucky enough to get to taste Lombardi’s pizza which is the first pizza place in America. It’s freaking delicious. You can get a slice

Lombardi’s (Richard Grigonis)

if you want or sit down and have a pie and a beer with friends. Simple, fresh toppings and friendly staff. Another spot is Prince St. Pizza that used to be Original Ray’s but it was done over. Before I lose you – they make the BEST Sicilian slice ever. For those of you who don’t know, Sicilian slices are square with a thick crust (not as thick as Chicago style though) and they top it with high quality pepperonis. There is always a line out the door for these slices and nowhere to sit. You just set up shop on

Prince St. Pizza’s Sicilian Slice (J Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats)

the sidewalk. Seriously worth it. NYC’s pizza has a crispy bottom so when you pick it up you don’t get the flop. It melts in your mouth. NYC’s pizza scene is constantly changing but these two spots will stand the test of time. Also fun fact – Lombardi’s and some of the other original spots in NYC, have coal fire ovens that are no longer allowed to be built in the city. The spots that already have them established are allowed to keep them, just no new ones can be built. The rest are pretty much gas fire ovens but they’re still delicious. Try a little of both! Okay now comes California. I moved there when I was 18 to San Francisco and when I was looking for a neighborhood pizza joint I had some issues. There was this place called

little-star

Slice from Little Star (Rebecca A. Foertsch, Foodspotting)

Round Table. Not great, and my Cali friends raved about it. I was thinking, “Is this really
all they know?” I don’t believe any of them had been to the east coast, or at the very least went and didn’t have pizza (mistake!). So I was determined to find that pizza spot that reminded me of home. Full disclosure: I don’t hate Chicago style pizza. I know, I know. I’m supposed to pick a side and I’m supposed to hate eating pizza with a knife and a fork because I’m from the east coast, but I don’t. So shoot me. San Francisco has an amazing Chicago style spot on Divisadero called Little Star. They have a crust made with cornmeal which isn’t the norm for Chicago crust and it’s fantastic. I don’t mind waiting a little while for the pizza to be cooked, it only makes the anticipation greater. But Chicago style isn’t San Francisco! Where’s the spot I can go for a quick slice in the window like back home? Cut to me turning 21, getting drunk in the Marina, and looking for that perfect food at the end of the night. It’s always pizza. I turn the corner and there it is! Pizza Orgasmica. The line is long but if this pizza lives up to its name, we have a winner. And it did! Walked in, no where to sit, pizza by the slice, quick in and out. I’m home! And even if you’re not drunk – Pizza Orgasmica is awesome. And they brew their own beer. Get there if you’re ever in the city. After I left to take my talents back to the east

Pizza Orgasmica in the Marina District (sanfranciscodays.com)

coast, went to visit friends and they wanted to go for pizza. Geez easier said than done in SF, but one of my now favorite pizza places (out of both coasts) is Beretta in the Mission District. They have thin crust pizza (sorry New Haven still takes the cake or pie on that one) with very inventive toppings and a surprisingly awesome wine and beer list. I got a Hungarian wine there once and it paired perfectly to my pizza. So if you’re ever in SF and want pizza – these are the spots to go. But don’t expect the NYC experience. Still a lot of Round Tables, Pizza Huts and Dominos lurking around every corner.

So to that fifth grade teacher who told me pizza is boring as a favorite food choice – you’re wrong! Stop eating Dominos, lady.

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2017: I Resolve to…

Okay – I’m going to be that annoying chick with the New Year’s Resolutions. Sorry, not sorry. The new year always makes me feel motivated to improve my life. A couple of these you would expect, but some of these are off the beaten path and hopefully I inspire you all to adopt these throughout the year. I’m including some images from my Instagram feed from 2016 as a snapshot of my year on this post as well. Lots from travels and lots with Eric! 

A few of my friends and I were discussing resolutions. Do they have to be year-long or do you just have to achieve it and be done with it? I think resolutions can be a mix of both. If you have a resolution to lose 20 lbs and you do it by June – you did it! But if you have a resolution to read more, you probably should try to keep that up all year. Not read one book and call it quits. That being said – that was one of mine last year and I definitely read 10+ books this year and love having a book to read right before bed. So relaxing!

  1. Eat better, work out more, blah blah blah – You know the number one resolution and it’s mine every year. This year I plan on trying to lose the weight I want by summer so I can feel confident on the beach/at the pool and wear that goal dress in my closet. You know what that is. Every girl has one. That one dress that fit you at your smallest and now you might be able to squeeeeeeeze into it or it just may not fit at all. But you know that it can and you know you look and feel fabulous in it. I am determined to do it this year and keep the weight off. Seriously guys – my eating habits towards the end of the year and my absence from the gym was no bueno. My plan of attack is to meal plan. I work in a place where we have a cafeteria. This cafeteria is convenient, especially when I don’t have time to cook before work which is often. I work at night and during the evening hours of the cafeteria they don’t supply us with the healthiest options. None that are quick anyway. I am trying to avoid this place like the plague. I am going to try to cook all my food for the week on Saturdays (my Monday, yes that is terrible but that’s a post in itself). I also plan on cutting out some things – white flour, red meat and unnecessary bread consumption. I love bread and cheese but I need to cut way back. I will not deprive myself though – these things make me happy so if I work out my planned 4-5 days per week, I don’t feel like having a little bread and cheese with some red wine is a total cheat/loss.
  2. Detox – Started out 2017 with the stomach flu – so that was a physical detox (only lasted 24 hours and it’s a nice clean slate…? Haha). But what I’m talking about here is detoxing the rest of my life, not just what I eat. I have too many clothes. It’s been this way since I was old enough to obsessed with fashion. But I really need to go through and purge some things I know I won’t be wearing – ever again (my goal dress can stay! I have hope everyone! It’s a pink seersucker strapless dress, so cute!). Some I might try to sell and others I will just donate. I’m also going to try the year rule this year. I will turn all my hangers around and in January 2018, if there are some hangers that haven’t been turned around it means I didn’t wear them and they have to go! Another thing I want to detox is negativity. It’s so easy for me to be negative whether it’s because of my job or the current status of the world, I really want to try to focus on good things ahead and little wins throughout the day. I feel like keeping up with number one will help me with that. Detoxing from negative thinking will also help me be a happier person, I don’t want my job or things I can’t control to change who I am.
  3. Learn new things – I really want to make an effort to try new things. I’ve already taken the first steps in booking a snowboarding lesson at the end of the month in Vermont. I’ve snowboarded before but I never really learned it properly. Eric loves to ski so I would like to be able to do this with him in the winter months so he has a mountain buddy. It will just be another thing we can do together. I do surf and skimboard, so snowboarding is the obvious next thing. But I don’t really like the cold… at all. I get cold easily even though I’ve lived in New England mostly my whole life, I just never warmed up to the snow and snow sports (heh see what I did there?). But in recent years I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of a fresh coat of snow and the wonderful things New England offers year-round, not just summers on the Cape (Chatham year-round is actually the best!). I want to learn new things in the kitchen as well. It could just be cooking with a new ingredient like lentils (I want to make lentil soup this winter) or a new technique. Learning something new at work also interests me. Working in social media we have access to a lot of creative programs, one being After Effects. I would love to learn how to do some basics because knowing more in that area will only help me in the future.
  4. Be the good in the world – Okay guys, real talk. This year I’ve seen things done in this country and around the world that are just deplorable. It has been said that 2016 is a garbage fire of a year and I tend to agree. But I believe 2017 will be harder. Trying not to get too political here (but I did graduate with a Politics degree from the same university as Nancy Pelosi so I wouldn’t just be spewing half-cocked ideas), but fighting for what is right and what people deserve will get harder and harder. As laws are repealed and needed services are defunded and the rich get richer – it will be more important for our voices to be heard. And, for the sake of trying to be more positive this year, I believe the greatness of this country will shine in the darkness. Poetry, art and music will be at its best because the inspiration of the message will mean so much more. I plan on speaking up against those who spread intolerance and hate anyway I can. This isn’t political. It’s just plain right vs wrong. Disenfranchising others because they’re different from you is weak. Treating others with respect and equality is strength.

There you have it. My resolutions for 2017. Here’s to hopefully keeping them and my sanity in 2017. Do you have any you’d like to share? Let me know!

xoxo,

Erika

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European dreamin' #paris #takemeback

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Happy 4th of July! #usa #4thofjuly #capecod

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Beautiful day in #newport yesterday 😍

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Thanksgiving in CT. #happythanksgivng #holiday #love

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Oktoberfest in Connecticut

Getting all my friends together for a night is difficult. We all work in media so our schedules are very unpredictable. Luckily this Friday night in September all of our schedules aligned for a beautiful fall evening. I decided to make Oktoberfest style food for everyone, because it’s a crowd-pleaser and everything I made was so easy and ready in a flash.pretzel-and-cheese

The menu included a big Bavarian pretzel (along with little pretzel nuggets) with beer cheese spread and mustard, bratwursts marinaded in German beer and then grilled, healthy apple slaw and to end the night with s’mores by the fire.

the-fest

Most of this German-fest was brought to by Stew Leonard’s grocery store. We love going there because they have local produce and it isn’t your typical grocery store with aisles. It takes you on maze through the store with fun farm animals all around that sing! If you’re ever in the CT or NY area and pass by one, check it out.

We got 2 lbs of brats to put in the crock pot to bathe in the beer. All you need is your brats, a bottle of German beer and one onion sliced up. Dump it all in the crock pot abratsnd turn it on low for 4 hours. I poked holes in the brats with a fork to make sure all the beer got in there.

Next I made the apple slaw. I used Skinnytaste’s Gina Homolka’s recipe for this one. I added about a cup of pea shoots (I just had some off hand) and I didn’t make my own poppyseed dressing. I didn’t think I could find another use for the poppyseeds so I just bought a fat-free one for $2 (and also – who’s got time for that??). For this recipe having a food processor is so helpful! You also need a spiralizer for the apple. I realize this is a specialty tool but if you don’t have one they’re worth the investment. I love mine! I make a lot of healthy veggie noodles with it and this apple slaw! You can find affordable hand spiralizers or if you want to splurge a little try the Williams Sonoma one I have in my kitchen. All you have to do is chop up 2 cups of green cabbage, two cups of red cabbage, spiralize the apple, toss in the pea shoots and top it with dressing. And you’re done! That was so easy. I put the dressing on a few hours before everyone arrived. Because it’s cabbage it won’t get soggy like regular lettuce. It will also let the flavors marinate a little. Here’s the recipe below (with instructions for the poppyseed dressing if you want to try it out):

apple-slaw

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 granny smith apples, stem removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Read for directions for dressing

Next is the best part – beer cheese dip! You also need a food processor for this (thanks for the best Christmas present ever, Mom!) recipe. All you need to do is put everything in the food processor (except for the beer), start to blend the ingredients and stream the beer into the hole of the food processor, then beer cheese complete! Just make sure to refrigerate it for about an hour before serving. All that’s left to do is heat up your pretzels in the oven so they’re warm and soft. Here’s the beer cheese recipe –

beer-cheese

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup German beer (or non-alcoholic beer if you don’t drink or are pregnant!)

 

Everyone arrived including my friend’s 9 month old little boy Brady! Such a cutie. We ate all the German delights and enjoyed some German beers right from Europe and some an hour away in CT. It was so nice to enjoy everyone’s company outside of a wedding (even though those are always fun, too). We ended the night by the fire with s’mores as desert. It was such a great evening with friends. I hope we get to do it again soon!

bon-fire

Did you have an Oktoberfest celebration? Do you have a favorite German beer? Let me know! This German would love to hear about it.

xoxo,

Erika

Lynn Love with Travel: 8 Favorite Cities

This was one hard list to make. I’ve traveled to a lot of different cities in a lot of different countries but these are the ones that I cannot stop thinking about and reliving. Some I am lucky enough to pick up and go for the weekend. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do with my free time. Exploring a city’s culture and history is so exciting to me. Travel makes my life whole. 

8) Heidelberg

Being German I’ve always wanted to visit Germany. During our trip we went to Kaiserslautern, the Pfalz region of Germany (for wine tasting of course!), Munich and spent a day in Heidelberg. Even though we spent the least among of time in Heidelberg, it was what I pictured Germany would look like. We had authentic German food (I had my first ever schnitzel!) and beer. We walked around the city and went up to the hill to see the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. We got champagne flavored gummy bears (a German delicacy) in a candy store downtown and authentic German pretzels! It was the perfect German day, and I would love to return.

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Day in Heidelberg! #germany #eurotrip2014

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7) Montreal

Didn’t realize we lived 4 hours from Montreal. Totally a doable road trip or in our case the destination for my birthday celebration. I didn’t really know what to expect in my first trip to the Great White North, but it was fantastic! Getting around Montreal is a breeze with the city bike share and the bike paths that are everywhere. The view from Mount Royal Park is breath-taking and was a beautiful walk to the top in the Fall with all the foliage. Montreal also has their own bagels, different from New York’s but just as good. Oh and POUTINE! It’s French fries, gravy and cheese curds… how could that be bad? We found this great gastro by our hotel called NYKS that had amazing food and atmosphere. For my birthday, Eric took me to Au Pied De Cochon (which means foot of the pig) that is a very meat-centric restaurant, and extremely delicious. They cook every part of the pig, and you can even order the head! We did not do that… but a table near us did. I would definitely try it if given the chance. It was difficult getting a reservation because this is a really popular restaurant, but going on a Wednesday evening definitely helped and the fact we called a month in advance! It was the perfect birthday dinner. Really enjoyed our neighbors in the North and hope to make the 4-hour ride again soon!

6) Boston

I’m a Massachusetts girl. Of course I love Boston! I always say I’ve never had a bad time in Boston – and it’s true! Im a huge Red Sox fan so I’ve been to Fenway Park at least once a year since I was 12 to see the Sox hopefully win. Eric and I had our first weekend adventure away in Boston as part of Christmas 2012. We saw the Nutcracker and went to one of Barbara Lynch’s amazing restaurants, No. 9 Park. I love the history of Boston like Paul Revere’s home or the Bunker Hill monument or even the first tavern established in America. Boston is a beer loving town – duh Sam Adams is there! Even though I grew up outside the city, after I moved to California I’ve had a bigger sense of pride for the city especially when people in college used to just refer to me as “Erika from Boston.” Like David Ortiz historically said – this is our f*ckin’ city. Damn right it is Big Papi, and it will always be one of my favorites.

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5) Philadelphia

I am somewhat new to Philadelphia. Saw Rocky a bunch of times when I was younger, stopped off at Independence Hall once on the way to Washington DC for a 7th grade field trip – but I never really experienced Philly as I had other cities. After meeting Eric who is a Temple alumnus and grew up outside the city, he took me to Philadelphia for the first time. He was sweet taking me around the touristy/historical parts of the city that I didn’t remember from 7th grade. We’ve been back dozens of times since and I have to say Philadelphia is such a great city. I would love to live there someday. Phillies games are fun and while Citizens Bank Park is no Fenway… it’s definitely cheaper, they have better food and better beer! I love how Philly has that big city feel of New York but you don’t feel overcrowded like I feel when I’m in NYC. Philly is home to one of my favorite art museums – The Barnes Foundation. It’s so interesting to see someone’s very extensive, personal collection of art hung exactly as it was in the Barnes’ home. The architecture in Philly is also so appealing. One of my favorite streets is Elfreth’s Alley. I love the old row homes and would love to live in one of those someday. Philadelphia is the only city that’s home to two Top Chefs, Nick Elmi and Kevin Sbraga. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at both of their restaurants, and if you have the opportunity to as well – do not hesitate. Philly also has some of my favorite coffee – La Colombe! They have a draft latte that is to die for and their cappuccino is second to none. Basically, Philadelphia is an amazing city and it’s home to the person I love the most!

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I ❤️ you, Philly. #philadelphia #imallthewayup

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4) Nice

The beauty of this city’s seascape alone will make anyone fall in love, but there are so many other treasures about the 3rd biggest city in France that makes this one of my favorites. Nice is very close to the Italian boarder, so its food has both French and Italian influences giving you the best of both worlds. Eric and I stumbled upon an amazing café hidden on a side street downtown that pulls off the French/Italian blend perfectly. We got an Airbnb right in the hustle and bustle of the city with a farmers market right outside our door, shops and restaurants just steps away and across the street from the ocean! Could not have asked for more. We climbed up to Castle Nice and saw gorgeous views of the city. I cannot wait to go back to this place that made us feel so much at home.

3) Paris

I always say Paris is prettier when it rains – if you’ve ever been you would see what I mean. The streets gleam and the colors of the city are enhanced with the grey/white buildings that line the sidewalks. Paris is a city for artists, foodies and people in love. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the city twice, and it amazed me both times. The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower I was in awe of how gigantic it is and appreciated the amount of time it might have taken to make this iconic structure. The second time I visited the Eiffel Tower I went all the way to the top! The views of the city are breathtakingly beautiful and besides being in a plane I’ve never been so high. I’ve been to the Louvre and I’ve seen priceless works of art and I’ve been to the Musee d’Orsay and was completely inspired by their impressionist wing. I’ve eaten some of the best food in my life from Joel Robuchon‘s restaurant in the district of Saint Germain des Pres to a small café named La Poulette that had the best steak frites I’ve ever had. Paris is a city that makes you feel welcome (despite rumors they hate Americans) and inspired. Each time I left I dreamt of moving there for 6 months and take cooking classes to open my own café. Paris dares you to dream big and love big.

2) Barcelona

Our trip to Barcelona was actually an afterthought. We were traveling to Germany and wanted to take advantage of another country being so close. We originally planned on going to Prague (which I still want to visit), but changed our minds at the last minute and decided to fly to Barcelona after Munich. I am so glad we made that decision. Barcelona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s mix of beauty, being seaside and having a rich downtown culture reminded me a lot of San Francisco. Eric and I would just walk around Barcelona not really in search of anything, just exploring. We saw all the Gaudi architecture, explored ramblas, ate tapas and of course sangria! We also had authentic paella on the pier right next to the ocean. Doesn’t get better than that! We stayed in the Poblenou district directly next to the Torre Agabr. It was right outside our window! We had a fantastic Spanish meal one evening in our neighborhood at a small restaurant called Recasens. We had Spanish cheeses, meats, wine and dessert. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. I’d love to return to this city soon and spend more than three days like we had. I love the Spanish culture of this city and understand when people tell me they would drop everything and move here. I would, too!

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Beautiful #barcelona #spain #eurotrip2014 #parcgüell

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1) San Francisco 

San Francisco has changed a lot since I first moved there in 2006. The tech world has invaded and it is certainly becoming the New York City of the West. It’s changed in so many ways but every time I return, it still feels like home to me. San Francisco will never lose it’s number one slot for me because this is the city I found myself. All my young life my biggest dream was to move to California and never return. When I was accepted to the University of San Francisco, my dream came true. San Francisco is very much a city that is so accepting of people from all walks of life. Leaving high school I felt very much like an outsider, like I was different from everyone else – so San Francisco was the perfect place for me not to worry about being myself. I found my passions in San Francisco, my best friends and learned what Tony Bennett was singing about. Even though my career took me back to New England, I will always consider San Francisco my home. Whenever I land at SFO and get off the plane, a sense of relief flows over me that I’m finally home.

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Wooo!

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Hope you enjoyed this list of my favorite cities. I know there are two cities from France but I couldn’t resist! There are still some cities I haven’t been to that I want to go to like New Orleans, Austin, Seattle, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Prague. I would love to revisit some cities I wasn’t in long enough for it to make this list like Dublin and London. Hopefully some day soon! What are some of your favorite cities? Are you in love with some of mine as well? I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line, world travelers!

xoxo,

Erika

Lynn Love with Coffee: 7 Favorite Spots

It’s Monday. No one loves Mondays. No one even likes Mondays. But Mondays are for that morning coffee to get you going and to get stuff done. This Monday had me thinking about coffee and how just a couple of years ago, I didn’t drink it at all. Now I really enjoy coffee every day. It relaxes me and it’s something I can treat myself to at work when I’m feeling low, stressed or just plain tired. But drinking it at work and hanging out at a coffee shop are two different things. I love going to a café, getting a cappuccino, pop in some earbuds and be productive. Whether it’s getting work done, working on my blog or spending quality time with my boyfriend planning our next European vacation, cafes have relaxing vibes that makes you feel like your escaping home or your office for just a little bit. This is a list of my favorite places to go to get coffee no matter where I find myself.

  • Favorite coffee shop near me: Dom’s in Avon, CT

Dom’s interior design is so impressive when you walk in. They were nominated for a James Beard award for their design. Aside from that, they have fresh local cheeses you can buy to take home and a very cozy, welcoming space to hang with friends or work. They do not roast their own coffee but they server J. Rene’s that is in close-by West Hartford. They are a little more expensive than most places I go to, but it’s nice to go to every now and then for a little treat. Dom’s Coffee, 20 W Main St., Avon, CT

Doms

Ctsy: domscoffee.com

  • Favorite coffee shop in Europe: Marchesi in Milan, Italy

This might be the coffee/pastry shop where coffee became what it is to everyone. Very simple but extremely well-executed Marchesi’s is one of the oldest espresso bars in Italy. You walk in and to your left is the pastry counter with lovely little Italian goodies from cookies to chocolates. Then you walk to the right of the shop for your espresso. You stand (there are no seats at the bar), have your espresso and then pay the cashier on the way out. Very different from other cafes I’ve been to in the States or even France. Italians know their espresso, and Marchesi still do it the classic way. Pasticcerie Marchesi, Via Monte Napoleone, Milan, Italy

Marchesi (2)

  • Favorite iced coffee: Blue Bottle in San Francisco, CA

Blue Bottle’s New Orleans Iced Coffee is so amazing! I can’t say enough how much the chicory adds to the taste of this iced coffee. And the tough of cream makes it so decadent. I try to get one every time in SF, but fortunately for me Blue Bottle is also in NYC which is much closer. I have gone to the location in Chelsea many times bringing home small cartons of this lovely goodness. Blue Bottle is also a fabulous café all around, not just for their iced coffee. Their Mint Plaza location in SF has amazing breakfast foods and AFFOGOTO! Coffee and ice cream? Sign me up. Blue Bottle Coffee, multiple locations

Blue Bottle

Ctsy: sfgate.com

  • Favorite coffee to keep and drink at home: J. Rene Coffee Roasters West Hartford, CT

I don’t always get to the café and I love having French press coffee at home on the couch with Eric, especially on the cooler Fall days approaching! J. Rene Coffee Roasters are the closest place near us in CT that roasts their own beans. It’s perfect for us at home but the café itself is also gorgeous, you can even see the beans being roasted! J. Rene Coffee Roasters, 320 Park Road, West Hartford, CT

J Rene

Ctsy: jrenecoffee.com

  • Favorite go-to coffee shop in Boston: Thinking Cup

I go into Boston a lot living close to the city. We usually try to make a day of it so the first thing we need is coffee. The Thinking Cup is perfect! They brew Stumpton Coffee which is great and have really delicious breakfast sandwiches and pastries all made fresh in house! I’ve taken family and friends here and they love it. There are multiple locations around the city so it’s easy to get to one. Definitely my go-to spot in Boston. Thinking Cup, multiple locations

Thinking Cup

Ctsy: hyhoi.com

  • Favorite coffee shop vibe: Barista Parlor in Nashville, TN

Needed to find a coffee shop when visiting Nashville last month, good thing one that was voted one of the best in the nation was close by! The vibes in this coffee shop were amazing. A converted mechanic shop with local art on the walls, freshly made breakfast treats with healthy options and they roast their own beans. I would love to come here for breakfast every day and just chill out. I did a little research and Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys (one of my favorite bands ever) has partnered with Barista Parlor. I knew I liked this place! Barista Parlor, 519 Gallatin Ave, Nashville, TN

Barista

  • Favorite coffee shop overall: La Colombe in Fishtown Philadelphia, PA

This location in Philly’s Fishtown opened not too long ago but I absolutely love this space. It is HUGE and has all the best things La Colombe has to offer. From their perfect cappuccinos to the draft lattes to even beer on tap – this is a haven for coffee lovers. They even have fantastic food to order like their mac n cheese or some delicious sandwiches! La Colombe’s drinkware is what really made me fall in love with them when I was first taken to their 12th Street location in Manhattan. They serve their delicious coffee in rare (and expensive) Italian porcelain called FIMA Deruta. La Colombe sells them once a year on their website… but good luck because they sell out FAST! I haven’t been lucky enough to get one for my kitchen but some day! La Colombe’s cappuccino made me a coffee lover. La Colombe Coffee Roasters, multiple locations

La colombe

Ctsy: blog.lacolombe.com

That’s it! I hope you’re able to visit some of my favorite spots if you ever find yourself in these cities. You won’t be disappointed! What’s your favorite coffee spot or coffee you keep at home? What’s your go-to drink? I want to know! Leave me a line with yours.

xoxo,

Erika

Where ya from?

I get this question a lot from a lot of different people – co-workers, fellow students, friends of boyfriend, random people in bars, etc. And sometimes I feel like I’m alone in this when I feel like that’s a complicated and multi-faceted question.

I grew up in Massachusetts so obviously everyone just says “Yeah you’re from Massachusetts, you’re a Mass-hole.” I don’t walk around with a Boston accent and constantly looking for chowdah. Only people from Mass understand that not everyone from the state has that oh-so-endearing accent. But that’s an entry for another day. I grew up in Western Massachusetts (South Hadley). Extremely close to the boarder of Connecticut and in farm country in Mass (just ask about our asparagus… it’s seriously delicious). But I can always remember me never wanting to be from there.

Since I was a teen my sights were set on moving West… to California specifically.
I started surfing (in New Hampshire… I don’t totally recommend it. Cold water and small waves.) and everything I wore was from Hollister because it said California on everything. Not only California but t-shirts that had sayings “Take Me to the West Coast” and “Here Today, Gone to Cali”. I wore them proud. Then when I was 16 I was lucky enough to live in California for the summer at summer school at Stanford University. There I met people I really connected with and I could be myself around, unlike home. Some of those people I’m still friends with today. One even became my college roommate (co-worker and really good friend to boot). At home, everyone in high school thought I was a loser. But in Cali I was able to be myself and people liked me. I realized I wasn’t the one with the problem.

Obviously that summer only confirmed that I belonged in California and I had to move immediately after I graduated. I got into the University of San Francisco and when I was holding that acceptance letter in my hands they were shaking and tears of joy came to my eyes knowing that I would be rid of the place I have come to loathe so much – and honestly rejected me in my eyes.

While I was in college I had an internship in Chatham, MA on Cape Cod. Chatham rivals San Francisco and Barcelona (for me) as one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. My grandmother lives there and I have been going to Chatham since I was 6 months old. Chatham has always been a second home for me. But it wasn’t until the summers of 2008 and 2009 that I actually spend the entire summer by living there with my grandparents and really feeling part of the community in Chatham. It is a very small town with very few people who live there year-round, so whenever I return I see a lot of familiar faces and it feels what I always wanted Western Mass to feel like when I went home, a happy, welcoming experience. When I am in Chatham I never want to leave. It’s one of the places I would move to when the next chapter of my life begins. Last year my parents sold their home in Western Mass and I no longer had my childhood home to go to (I will miss that house, just not the location of it), making my grandparents’ home in Chatham the one I have been coming home to more than any other. And unlike South Hadley, be proud and look back in fondness when I say I’m from there.

I returned to San Francisco for my senior year and I felt so lucky I was able to live in San Francisco for four years and that I felt so at home in that gorgeous city. But graduation loomed it’s ugly head (why can’t college be forever?) and I had to make a career decision. I love sports (another entity that I felt accepted me as well) and what other outlet to strive for if not ESPN? ESPN is located in Bristol, Connecticut. 45 minutes away from where I grew up. Low and behold the World Wide Leader took an interest in me and decided to hire me. So back to Western Massachusetts I go.

Being back after leaving for where I thought I really belonged was tough. Especially after telling people I would never return, and that was my intention but if ESPN calls… you go. It was like a knife in my side if I went to the market and someone would say, “I thought you were still in California?” After I was asked for the 100th time I made the move to Central Connecticut.
I moved to Middletown, a small college town with a happening downtown. Bristol, CT where ESPN is located doesn’t have a ton going on so not the best for someone new in town looking to meet people. Of course I work nights and weekends so my friends consist of mainly ESPNers. Which is fine by me! I have made some amazing friends who have become my little CT family.

Shortly after moving to CT I met my boyfriend Eric (also an ESPNer) and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve never met someone so generous, kind and respectful of me and my ambitions. We ended up moving to Unionville, Connecticut not too long ago and I love our condo we share together. It feels like home when I’m there. Probably because I share it with him.

So I guess all of this that I’m trying to say the question “Where are you from?” shouldn’t be such an easy answer. I mean am I wrong when I say I’m from San Francisco? A place that accepted me with open arms, a place I was finally not only able to be myself but become the person that I am today. A person that I like. If I chose to stay in Western Mass for college like a lot of my classmates I can’t say I would have had the same outcome. Am I wrong when I say I’m from Chatham? I don’t think so. I basically grew up there and have had so many happy family memories… and I complain about the tourists there in the summer. Only locals get that, right? Am I wrong when I say I’m from Connecticut? A place I never wanted to live, ashamed to get a CT license plate (because CT have notorious horrible drivers), but now embrace. No obviously my residence is there now and it isn’t just a place I go to rest my head after a long night’s work, it’s a place I share with someone I love and host friends that I love. CT also has never made me feel unwanted. It has turned me into a cyclist (when I can), a hiker and a Farmington River tuber.

So the next time I’m at a party and someone asks, “Where ya from?” and I answer “San Francisco” or “Cape Cod” or “Connecticut” none of those answers are a lie. Those are the places that make me who I am and the places I am proud to say that I’m from. I’m also not wrong (and probably more accurate) if I say I’m from Western Mass. But the look on my face doesn’t sell it – people just know it’s not the place I want to be from. So I’m mandating, just like I identify myself as a tall, blonde female, I identify as a San Franciscan and a Cape Codder and a Connecticut-ite? Connecticutan? So Western Mass is simply the place I was born, the other places, the places that I’m from, made me into who I am.

20 Random Facts

Hi everyone my name is Erika, welcome to my blog! In an attempt to introduce myself, here are 20 random facts about me. This will also give you an idea of what kind of things you should expect when you come visit my blog.20 Things

  1. I am a New England girl. I grew up in Massachusetts and I currently live in Connecticut for work but I spent a lot of time in California. Living in San Francisco and having family in So Cal. My style and personality is influenced by both. I’m definitely bi-coastal.
  2. Even though I grew up in MA, I don’t have the accent. Sorry to disappoint!
  3. I love, love, love to travel! I’ve been to a lot of major cities domestically and internationally. Here’s a little list: Boston (duh), NYC, Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angels, Montreal, Paris, Dublin, London, Munich, Barcelona and Milan (coming soon!) just to name a few. I would love to take an island vacation one day like St. Martin, the Caribbean or Turks and Cacaos.IMG_1910
  4. One of my favorite things to do is cook. I’ve taken cooking classes for fun to learn more techniques and I try a lot of different kinds of recipes. My boyfriend reaps the benefits being my guinea pig.
  5. I mentioned above I have a boyfriend. His name is Eric. Yes, we’re Eric and Erika. Super cute! Eric is my best friend and the most important thing to me. We do everything together including all our traveling adventures. We love taking small weekend trips to Philly or NYC visiting friends and family. We’ve been together almost 4 years now.FullSizeRender
  6. I love fashion. My closet is jammed PACKED full of everything and anything. My style is pretty preppy but I can get glam when I want to. Some of my go-to retailers are Anthropologie (love their home goods as well), J Crew, Vineyard Vines and anything Lilly Pulitzer. I also love shopping at smaller, unknown designer boutiques – one of my favorites being Mahi Gold based in Chatham, MA.
  7. I am a big sports fan. Judging by the above content that might sound surprising but it’s true! I am a big Red Sox fan. I also love watching golf, tennis and football (or soccer as only Americans call it).
  8. I am a media professional but I was a Pre-Law/Politics major at the University of San Francisco (Go Dons!).
  9. I did ballet for a very long time. Started when I was 5 and took classes through college. I would love to learn Pointe (never got the chance) but its been tough trying to find adult beginner Pointe classes. Sigh.
  10. Strange but true – I hate peanut butter. Yes, I know. I want to like it because it’s a great healthy snack, but the taste and the texture… yuck! The worst is when I smell it on someone’s breath. Not good. (Other condiments I don’t like: mayo, ketchup, blue cheese dressing)
  11. … on the opposite end of that I love cheese! All kinds. I love making cheese plates for girls’ night at my house. I love all the different combinations and how rustic they look when they’re complete.
  12. My middle name is Lynn. So I’m Erika Lynn!
  13. I love music. I’ve been to so many concerts it’s hard to count. My favorite is Indie/Alt Rock, but in high school I loved heavy metal! I still listen to it at the gym sometimes. One of my favorite bands is the Decemberists. I also dabble with the guitar and piano but I’m definitely not ready for any open mic nights… yet!
  14. I didn’t like coffee until a couple of years ago. Now I look forward to a nice French press or pour over at home. It’s so relaxing. I take mine black! Two of my favorite brands are La Colombe (based in Philly) and Blue Bottle (based in San Francisco).IMG_3628
  15. I really like TV and movies. I’m more into TV at the moment just because of all the amazing shows and performances that are out there. Some of my favorites include Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Mr. Robot, Silicon Valley, John Oliver… and the list goes on and on.
  16. I have zero tattoos and my only piercing I have is one on both my ears. Yawn… I know.
  17. I try to stay fit so I’ve been ramping it up going 5 days per week at the gym. I do a lot of yoga and spinning. I really don’t like running so spinning is a good option (although I do run 2 miles twice a week)
  18. I am definitely a dog person! Eric and I don’t have one yet but we love poodles and Logottos. Obviously soft and fluffy is what we’re going for in a dog.
  19. My favorite flower is a hydrangea. The colors I love. It represents one of my favorite places in the whole world Cape Cod (I used to live there and basically grew up there). IMG_3127
  20. I work in TV but my passion is writing. I would love to work for a newspaper again. But since I don’t I thought this blog would be a great way for me to continue writing.

I’d love to get to know you too! Tell me a random fact about you!

xoxo, Erika