Packin’ heavy and lovin’ it!

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Well, we’re heading out of town for a late summer getaway and I waited until the last minute to pack  – as usual.

I started out with my little ‘week-ender’ bag, but quickly graduated to my run away from home, monster sized suitcase because these days I like to be prepared for every unexpected, potential vacation bonus:

 

  • A night under the stars? (jeans and a light sweater)
  • Unexpected restaurant upgrade? (pretty dress, clothes steamer, hot rollers, heels and perfume)
  • Another soak in the jacuzzi? (extra bathing suit)
  • Long, lazy morning over coffee? (my stack of magazines that I haven’t had a chance to read)
  • Visit to the hotel gym? (nah, never mind)

 

…but you get the idea.

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http://www.istockphoto.comt

 

It wasn’t all that long ago that I would have been up past midnight frantically organizing duffel bags and backpacks for all 4 kids and double checking my husband’s as well. Focusing solely on what I want to bring, and not having to share precious suitcase space with anyone else…well, this is a luxury I’m still getting used to.

Yeah, I’m in that sweet-spot in time where I don’t have to pack  diapers anymore….and don’t have to pack Depends undergarments – yet. 😳

I intend on relishing this period for as long as it lasts.

😃

 

Two new favorites!

So I guess you’re never too old to learn.

That’s the conclusion I came to recently as I tried a new cut of beef to bar-b-cue. FLAP steak (yes flap) is the happy  middle ground between skirt steak (too thin and fatty) and flank steak (too tough.) My local grocer actually carries this cut of beef..I don’t know why I never saw it in the case before.

To marinate, I first used my fork to poke holes all around on both sides. Then I put the beef into a large Ziplock bag and poured in a decent amount of marinade. I let it sit in the fridge over night, turning the bag over the next morning so that the sauce would distribute evenly on both sides.

I then patted the meat with a paper towel so it wasn’t dripping, and placed it on my pre-heated gas grill set on high..about 7 minutes on either side with the lid down. You may only cook for five on each side if you prefer your meat more red than pink.

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I let the meat sit for AT LEAST five minutes (Do not skip this part) before cutting into thin slices on the bias. This would be great for fajitas, steak sandwiches, or salads.

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I’m not sure what was the bigger contributing factor to the tenderness and deliciousness of this meat..the “flap” cut itself, or these new Allegro marinades that I tried for the first time and absolutely fell in love with.

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If you like grilled, marinated beef.. I recommend you try BOTH!

Halls Chophouse

Fantastic food is just one element of a truly spectacular restaurant. The secret formula to wild success is found in a dining experience that satisfies every one of the senses. Halls Chophouse in Charleston, South Carolina outperforms in all five categories.halls1

The owners welcome each guest at the door as if they’ve waited all day long– just for you to arrive. If your table isn’t ready (I suggest a booth upstairs) you will sit for a spell next to the grand piano relaxing to silky-smooth jazz and sipping on a refreshing cocktail. The decor is masculine, rich and cozy; the longest wall paneled in a sumptuous chocolate brown upon which local historic photographs and pieces of art are hung.  Tables draped in crisp, white linens provide a soft visual counterpoint to the rugged leather and elegant wood.halls2

Halls envelops your body and soul in sultry, southern hospitality. You can tell the minute you step inside that you are about to be swept away on the culinary equivalent of a magic carpet ride. Not only is the cuisine beyond compare, but the gracious  service is an indulgence unlike anything my husband and I have encountered anywhere else -ever. Time literally stands still as you are pampered, educated and fed like royalty. This is THE destination for those with big events to celebrate, and the resulting vibe is golden and bubbly.

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New Orleans style warm whiskey bread pudding with sun dried cherries, pecans & bourbon crème anglaise

And just when you think that all you’ve got to remember your experience are a some i-phone pictures and a few extra pounds around the waist, a handwritten thank-you note from your head waiter will appear in your mailbox back at home.

Like I said..a truly exceptional and unique experience. Make your reservations far in advance and yes, buy a new little black dress. 🌺