Orange Chocolate

23 Mar 19

Everybody seems to have an opinion about what’s wrong with the Scottish football team and what should be done to improve things. As Hector said, there’s a bam on Twitter claiming that Raynjurz being ‘sent down’ the divisions has caused the dearth of decent Scottish players. Jim White is blaming both Celtic and Neo-Gers for…well, […]

22 Mar 19

We recently ticked another item off the bucket list with a much anticipated weekend at Pumphouse Point. Here is a bit of history; Tasmania has relied on hydro-electricity since the early 1900s. In the 1930s, Lake St. Clair, the deepest freshwater lake in Australia, became the focus of a new pumping station. The water would be pumped […]

22 Mar 19
Food Finance Travel

For our last dinner in Sydney, we ate at Tetsuya’s.  It was outstanding.  I am really impressed with the food in this city.  We have not had a bad meal yet, and its not just the fine dining places.  For example, I had a random beef curry pie at a place near the ferry terminal, […]

22 Mar 19

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22 Mar 19
Puerto Vallarta’s 3 million international visitors who arrive by air annually aren’t teased like the 300,000 who come by ship and don’t get to stay the night or longer. Cruises are great, but when passengers are given a measly 6 or 7 hours to explore a port as easy to love as this friendly, safe and beachy jewel south of the border, sailing away is like pulling the Mexican rug out from under them. If only cruise passengers had more time. Well, that’s what a next vacation is for. So, for them and others who have never truly explored this Conde Nast Traveler “Best Cities in the World” winner, do we have four perfect days in Puerto Vallarta for you. #gallery-1698766-10 { margin: auto; } #gallery-1698766-10 .gallery-item { float: left; margin-top: 10px; text-align: center; width: 33%; } #gallery-1698766-10 img { border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; } #gallery-1698766-10 .gallery-caption { margin-left: 0; } /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */ The luxurious Grand Miramar offers stunning views of Banderas Bay. (Photo by David Dickstein) A guided taco tour takes the worry out of eating street food. (Photo by David Dickstein) Surf and turf tostadas are a tasty starter at Medregal. (Photo by David Dickstein) Colectika gallery specializes in ancestral contemporary art by talented locals. (Photo by David Dickstein) Chef Albis Salas (right) and sous chef Ramon Bramasco make a mean seafood paella at Las Calitas. (Photo by David Dickstein) Café des Artistes is sophisticated, yet anything but pretentious. (Photo by David Dickstein) At the Choco Museum Puerto Vallarta, anyone can be a confectioner. (Photo by David Dickstein) Chef Joel Ornelas has a gourmet gem in Tintoque. (Photo by David Dickstein) Las Calitas is a beachy hideaway for all ages. (Photo by David Dickstein) DAY 1 Your airport shuttle has taken you to the Grand Miramar, where you happily trade the hustle and bustle of downtown for tranquil luxury in the exclusive Conchas Chinas neighborhood. The hilltop location of your accommodations requires using the shuttle service to and from the beach and town, but any inconvenience is forgotten with every stunning view of Banderas Bay from your suite and the property’s understatedly elegant restaurants and bars. The six or seven hours in the air from California have you hungry, and wanting to start your Mexican getaway right, only eating among the locals will do. The street food from all those taco stands downtown smells great, but there’s apprehension over American health laws not being enforced because, well, you’re in Mexico. Good thing you booked “The Street — An Evening Taco Adventure Tour” with Vallarta Food Tours. A street-wise English-speaking guide takes you and a small group by foot and public bus to a handful of stands you can trust. All vendors must have a permit at least six years old to participate, and they need to demonstrate a unique flair for curbside cooking. At the first stop, a brick-and-mortar restaurant called Joe Jack’s Fish Shack in the Romantic Zone, you’re enticed with a red snapper taco that goes well with avocado and habanero salsa. It’s amazing, and just before the heat travels to the back of your throat, you wash it down with a shot of mezcalini, a refreshing cocktail best described as a cross between a margarita and a mojito. Other than a stop at Vallarta Chocolate Factory for a quick sample, the rest of your 3 1/2-hour tour is strictly street food. By the end of your eighth tasting of another full-sized taco, this one birria, or goat, you find yourself stuffed like a pinata for Las Posadas. $50; nightly except Wednesdays. Before calling it a noche, you head up to the Grand Miramar’s ultra-chic rooftop lounge, The Gin Joint, the highest point on beautiful Banderas Bay. The epic view from your comfy couch, lit by candle and moon, is the perfect outdoor setting to enjoy a signature tamarind margarita or passion fruit gin martini. Day 2 Still full from the downtown delicacies of the night before, not to mention the midnight tapas you somehow made room for at the rooftop bar, you’re fine skipping breakfast for morning snacks aboard your catamaran en route to Las Caletas, a private beach paradise on the south shore of Banderas Bay. Besides, you’ll be chowing down plenty once there as a seafood paella cooking demonstration, guacamole and pico de gallo cooking lesson and incredible buffet await, along with full-service hosted bars. A wide variety of activities also are included in your 6 1/2-hour “Las Caletas Beach Hideaway” with Vallarta Adventures. Stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, snorkel gear, hiking trails, animal encounters, clay modeling and an adventure cove lure you away from a perfectly positioned lounge chair. Up-charge options range from marine life encounters to flyboarding. The blowing of a conch shell beckons you to the dock, but the 12-mile sail back home is fun, too, thanks to an open bar and hilarious show by the crew. $139; daily. After a refresh and some down time at the hotel, you take a cab to Playa Los Muertos for appetizers and dinner at two great finds minutes and worlds apart. Seated under a namesake shelter at La Palapa, you’re delighted by the bar menu and starters of coconut shrimp, lobster and shrimp taquitos and seared scallops influenced by Mexican, French and Asian elements. Calling La Palapa the Mama’s Fish House of Puerto Vallarta would not be insulting to the restaurant considered by many as the best on Maui. Very similar décor and vibe shared by both, although La Palapa is easily half the price and, established in 1959, is 14 years older. Not even a year old is where you’ve made dinner reservations. Your walk of a single block has you at Medregal. The positive buzz around this hip eatery is justified in large part to chef Fernando Sanchez’s innovative menu that puts a twist on traditional Jalisco cuisine. The mahi mahi served in a banana leaf and topped with yellow mole sauce is a winner, as is the cochinita pabil, a traditional Mexican recipe topped by shredded pork marinated in orange juice. Not quite ready to pack it in, you head to the Malecon, a mile-long shoreline promenade that hugs downtown. By night it’s one big party. You check out the clubs that befit your style, working off Medregal’s killer guanabana pie you had for dessert with some hot moves on the bar’s lively terrace. A taxi takes you back to your hotel, where you mentally dance yourself to sleep doing the cha cha, cumbia, merengue, salsa and samba — all to perfection, of course.   Day 3 This is your day to relax at the hotel and beach, so enjoy! Just remember to be ready in time for your big night. Yeah, another one. But tonight you’re wearing the finest threads you brought. A twilight stroll along the Malecon is a lovely way to ease into your special dinner. And what a meal it’s going to be. Café des Artistes, 27 years young, is one of Mexico’s most revered and gorgeous restaurants. Storm-free evenings beg for a table in the lush, romantically lit garden, but with showers in the forecast, you’re seated in a cozy room inside. Glass raindrops hang from the ceiling — sophisticated, yet whimsical and anything but pretentious. You’re living large, about to experience chef-founder Thierry Blouet’s six-course tasting menu with wine. Fresh mahi mahi and watermelon tartar leads to roasted eggplant au miso. Salmon scallops in green mole transition to suckling lamb. Then come the cheese tasting and piece de la resistance, the OMG-worthy chocolate spiral with coffee panna cotta, cardamom ice cream and fresh cream. The numbing effect of the perfectly paired wines helps with paying the lofty check, and how nice that Monsieur Blouet stops by to personally thank you. You return to your hotel fat, happy and exhausted. Day 4 Other than breakfast at the hotel, this morning’s feast is for the eyes, not the stomach. Today you’re taking a self-guided art walk of the city’s famous al fresco bronze sculptures that line the Malecon. You hardly recognize the paved boardwalk from last night. Fun seekers and loud techno music have been replaced by tip-seeking street musicians, talented artists and annoying vendors all hoping to score some of your American dollars. Perusing the ornate sculptures, you eavesdrop on an English-speaking tour group that’s learning about each work, the most popular also the first ever installed: Rafael Zamarripa’s “Caballero del Mar,” or “The Seahorse.” After some nasty stares from the paying guests, you walk up Calle Allende for three blocks when a gallery specializing in ancestral contemporary art catches your eye. Within Colectika are works from regional artists, many hailing from remote villages in the Sierra Madre mountains who express old traditions in a whole new light. Canadian ex-pat Kevin Simpson, who also owns the nearby Peyote People Gallery, is full of great stories. You want to hear the one about his friendship with the mountain woman who inspired the grandma character in the animated feature “Coco,” but cocoa is next on your packed itinerary. [related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”] At the Choco Museum Puerto Vallarta, anyone can be a confectioner. Five different workshops are offered at an awesome-smelling downtown location that opened in June 2017. You chose the most popular, a two-hour experience called “Bean to Bar.” After a horticulture and history lesson, you and your fellow bakers roast and grind cocoa beans to prepare three chocolate drinks, none of which delight your American sweet tooth. Also unremarkable are the dark chocolates you got to take with you — too bitter is that batch. At least you had fun pouring the pre-blended mixture into molds and adding your own toppings before the cooling stage. $34; three times daily. For your last night in PV, dinner is at the best-reviewed new restaurant in the Marina Zone. Refreshed from some down time at the hotel, you take a half-hour taxi ride to Tintoque, a year-old gem from chef Joel Ornelas. You and your waiter chose right, going with the heirloom tomatoes appetizer with pesto ice cream; shared main entrees of strained tamale with shrimp caritas in adobo sauce, Baja California-caught escolar drizzled with smoked pineapple puree, and pasilla-crusted beef steak; and for dessert, it’s cheesecake and chocolate cake. Pure heaven. You head back to your hotel to pack for the next morning’s flight home, looking on your calendar to find time for another four perfect days in Puerto Vallarta. If you go Puerto Vallarta Official Tourist Guide — Grand Miramar Hotel & Spa — Vallarta Food Tours — Vallarta Adventures — Café des Artistes — Tintoque — La Palapa — Cacao Museum –
22 Mar 19
Nothing to See Here

“You gonna be alright?” Mike finally asked me, noticing that I was barely speaking and looking straight ahead with widened eyes. “Yes, duh. Talk to you later! Thanks!” I said quickly, practically throwing myself out of the passenger side of his car. I was feeling uncharacteristically claustrophobic and I couldn’t wait to get out of […]

22 Mar 19

One of my favorite things about gardening is preparing the soil. This may seem crazy to some, but I absolutely love the smell of dirt. And I find it so fascinating! Without good healthy soil, plants will obviously struggle and not grow to their full potential. It has taken me over 4 years working with […]

22 Mar 19
The Banana Appeal

The summer I was eight years old I took my first vacation with my grandparents to Mexico. My grandfather was an artist and somewhat of a romantic. He enjoyed traveling to little out of the way towns in Mexico where he could capture the landscape and the people in their native environment. That summer we […]

22 Mar 19
This, That, and The Other

Rory is bringing us the “last of the season” No Way/So Way Challenge. So let’s get right to it: Eaten food off of someone’s naked body. If whipped cream and chocolate syrup count as food, then so way. Fooled around in the stockroom while on the job. Not in the stockroom, but so way in […]

22 Mar 19

Today is one of the coolest days of,the year, if you are a sports fan – the first Friday of the NCAA tournament.. Basically 12 straight hours of games, from opening tip of the first game, until the final buzzer of the last. And, the hockey team at my alma mater, SUNY Geneseo, is playing […]

22 Mar 19
While there’s no denying kids love any holiday that involves receiving presents, there’s another (gift-free) holiday that kids arguably look forward just as much: April Fool’s Day. After all, it’s an entire day devoted to pranking people — usually your family members. What kid wouldn’t want to partake of such mischievous festivities? Here’ the thing, though: As fun as April Fool’s Day is when you’re a kid, it’s even better when you have kids. It’s really the one time of the year it’s socially acceptable to poke fun with your kids, make them confused and, yep, sometimes even startle them. It might take them a minute to find the humor at the moment, but by then you’ll be doubled over in laughter. The following pranks are all kid-friendly,  so embrace your inner “bad egg,” Mama! Little Debbie’s Betrayal View this post on Instagram April Fools’ Day Breakfast! Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pies make this imposter breakfast so easy to make! Who doesn’t love oatmeal for breakfast?! 😉🍳🥑🍊🍩 Recipe here: #sponsored #unwrapasmile #todaywebake A post shared by Party Pinching (@partypinching) on Mar 3, 2019 at 11:36am PST If you want to pull a prank on your kids but you kinda want them to think you’re the coolest too, swap out their typical breakfast. With what? Why, Little Debbie oatmeal pies, of course! Buggin’ Out View this post on Instagram April Fool’s Day is just around the corner. Just sayin’……. #roachsoap #gaggift #gaggifts #gaggiftsarethebest #jokegift #jokegifts #prankgift #prankgifts #aprilfools #aprilfoolsday #aprilfoolsgift #aprilfoolsprank #aprilfoolspranks #aprilfoolspranksforkids A post shared by lip balms, bath & body (@honibeez808) on Mar 6, 2019 at 12:30pm PST Before your kiddos take their evening bath, bust out this special soap. With a bit of help from your printer, you’ll have them convinced they’ll be lathering up with roach suds. Apple of Your Eye View this post on Instagram Lmao!!! Apple of my I 😂 #GreatGracious #naijatwitter #naijamemes #naijameme #apple #iphone #Aprilfoolsprank #Aprilfool A post shared by hyacinth gracious (@greatgracious) on Apr 24, 2018 at 1:51am PDT Gotta kid who’s been begging for an iPhone? Give them what they want this April Fool’s. Or at least make them think you are, mwuhahaha. Say Cheese View this post on Instagram #aprilfools #followme @miss_shopping_annuity @the1000000dollarclub A post shared by Kay Monroe (@kay_monroe87) on Mar 5, 2019 at 1:38pm PST Few things start the day off right like a tall glass of fresh orange juice in the morning. Only, your family is in for a real surprise when they realize this orange-hued beverage is actually spiked with Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese. What Lies Beneath Happy Easter to all who celebrate todayalso… April Fools! also… don't forget all your bills are due and that's unfortunately, not a joke. #AprilFoolDay #AprilFoolsDay2018 #HappyEaster #HappyEaster2018 #HappyEasterSunday #HappyEasterWeekend #AprilFoolsEaster #EasterSunday — TomGirlGamer @ Extra Life United (@1TomGirlGamer) April 1, 2018 Mm, who doesn’t love those delectable little chocolate eggs sold around the Easter holiday? We’ll tell you who — the kids who think that’s what they’re getting and get grapes instead. Although, come on, grapes are pretty tasty, too. Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid View this post on Instagram #aprilfools #followme @miss_shopping_annuity @the1000000dollarclub A post shared by Kay Monroe (@kay_monroe87) on Mar 5, 2019 at 1:36pm PST Ask your kid to get the milk for their cereal out of the fridge on Easter morning. They’ll be in for quite a surprise when all eyes are on them. Peep This 👻☮️🐱 #EasterSunday #HappyEaster #AprilFoolsDay2018 #Godzilla King of all Peeps!… — Johnny E. Awesome (@JohnnyEAwesome) April 1, 2018 Maybe skip this if you’ve got a little one who’s an empath. But if your kids won’t be too upset about a marshmallow massacre, set Godzilla loose on a city of Peeps. A sugary snack and a toy they can play with? Score. A Very Special Visitor View this post on Instagram We’ve got a serious problem. Last year, we let some leprechauns visit to play some pranks on St Patrick’s Day. It was all fun and games until they decided to move in! It has become a full blown infestation! Luckily, we have an in-home expert on all things leprechaun. Our 4 year old is our “go to” guy. He is the only person I know who builds leprechaun traps for a living. Every day he creates a new trap in anticipation of the little rascals’ next move. When we do manage to nab one, he is also the expert on the care and feeding of our tiny captives. But it seems no matter how many times we manage to trap one, they always manage to escape and get into new mischief! I don’t know how they keep outsmarting the smartest kid I know! What are we to do?! A post shared by Momming On Purpose (@mommingonpurpose) on Feb 21, 2019 at 1:59pm PST We know; we know. You just got rid of Elf on the Shelf, and now we’re suggesting you invite a leprechaun into your home, too. Still, you’ve got to admit that having this tiny green fellow “sneak” into the house at night and stir up mischief would be pretty darn irresistible to kids. One Super Sweet Garden View this post on Instagram New printable went up today! Donut Seeds Printable Tag – Easy April Fools Prank LINK IN BIO to grab it! A post shared by Devon Weaver | Lifestyle Blog (@mamacheaps) on Mar 8, 2019 at 6:07pm PST Give your kids a gift they think will keep on giving when you bestow them with a bag of these “seeds.” Mama Cheaps has a free printable at the ready so you can sit back and get a kick out of watching your kids wait for donuts to sprout. Coolest Breakfast Ever View this post on Instagram What's wrong with this cereal? Oh wait, it's my April Fool's day prank on my girls! Frozen cereal! Sometimes I crack myself up. #aprilfoolsday #frozencerealprank #yougottalaughsometimes A post shared by Dr Mom Vet (@heidi.drmomvet2) on Apr 1, 2017 at 8:31am PDT Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so your kiddos won’t think it’s weird that you have a big bowl of cereal waiting for them on Easter morn. What they will think is weird is the fact their cereal is frozen solid! Careful What You Wish For View this post on Instagram Stop asking me for an Easter Basket, it’s only February!!!!! #easterbasket #keepasking #aprilfoolsprank #nextyear A post shared by Carlo Hizon (@sikk_danny) on Apr 4, 2018 at 3:08pm PDT It’s basically a natural law that children will begin pestering you for an Easter basket as soon as Christmas is over. Well, give ‘em what they want, Mama — an Easter basket filled to the brim. It’s quite devious, and we love it. Take Note View this post on Instagram Yesterday Auntie Taylor played an April Fools prank on Mom but I think the new decor is pretty awesome. 3,000+ postit notes. What do you guys think? 😂 Has anyone else ever played a fun practical joke for April Fools Day? 😍 I think we should get Mom’s friend back 😏 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #monday #aprilfools #aprilfoolsprank #theellenshow #markrober #minipig #pigsofig #picklesthepig #postit @postit @animalsvideos A post shared by Pickles The Pig (@livingwithpickles) on Apr 2, 2018 at 10:25am PDT Granted, your kids may not be driving yet (or have a pet pig). But you can apply the general principle of this Post-It note prank to anything: their beds, their door, their spot at the breakfast table. Have fun with it, but just keep in mind you’ll probably be the one who cleans it up. I Spy View this post on Instagram #latepost even though it was #Easter we had to pull an #aprilfoolsprank on the #kids. We wrote a message on the card and they had to read it with a spy kit. What did the message read “Suckers! #aprilfoolsday #parents4kids0 #prank #aprilfoolsday2018 #aprilfoolsdayprank #latepost A post shared by Darwin Arceo (@dta2675) on Apr 2, 2018 at 5:16pm PDT If you’re the type who actually plans ahead, look online for a spy kit or decoder set that will allow you to deliver a coded message to your kiddos. The message they’re rewarded with after all their hard work? “Suckers!” Classic. DIY Kinder Egg Dupe View this post on Instagram #aprilfoolsday #aprilfoolsprank #aprilfoolsjoke #irishtwins #disappointment A post shared by Danae (@cosmofitdanae) on Apr 3, 2018 at 6:55pm PDT Kids these days are all about the Kinder egg crave, so your littles will undoubtedly be stoked you made them a DIY version. Until that is, they crack it open only to have a raw egg burst in their hands! (Make sure they wash up well after this joke.) Morning Ju… ello? View this post on Instagram The boys loved our April Fool’s joke! #aprilfools #pranks #juice or #jello A post shared by Michelle Lea ♻️ (@michelle_lea_leblanc) on Apr 2, 2018 at 9:35pm PDT Good morning, kids! Thirsty? No prob — here’s a refreshing morning glass of grape juice. Oh, did we say juice? We definitely meant Jell-O. Brain Food The prank I planned for my 21 year old daughters was so lame, but I did what I did, and I own it (the "brownies" – a plate of brown Es). 😬 It worked though. Did they actually think I would make brownies?!! They've known me longer than they've known anyone. 🤷#AprilFoolsDay2018 — Eileen James (@eileenmjames1) April 1, 2018 You can’t really blame your children for being excited when you tell them you’re going to make them a pan of Easter brownies. Just like you can’t blame them for pouting when they realize you were being literal in the worst sense of the word. It sure will be funny, though. That’s a Wrap! View this post on Instagram #aprilfoolsprank on the boss A post shared by @ kato_d on Apr 2, 2018 at 6:14pm PDT Easter feels like a gift anyway, so why not lean into that idea? Break out the wrapping paper languishing in your closet and wrap up, well, everything. Their seat at the table, their breakfast plate, their backpack — the sky (and the end of your wrapping paper roll) is the limit.
22 Mar 19
Pardon Your French

Just like Crêpes or the Apple Tarte Tatin, this Orange Yogurt Cake is a must-have in your baking repertoire if you are French.  It is one of the most popular cakes to bake (and eat) in the country, as it is a perfect heirloom recipe: it is simple, but it just works so well. A […]

22 Mar 19
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