Year in Review (2015).

Like any other year, 2015 had its ups and downs. And as always, the downs made the ups ever-sweeter. Here’s to focusing on the positive: some of my most favorite “ups” from the last 365 days.

2015 brought me to Miami (twice), Nashville, and Park City, where I spent time with family and friends for vacations, birthday celebrations, and a wedding. Of course, I took pictures all along the way.

Miami:

the w south beach

Nashville:

broadway nashville

tavern nashville

bj reece orchard

Park City:

st. regis park city

st. regis park city

ritual chocolate park city

But if you follow This Is It Though, you know my heart lies in NYC, where I was born and raised and yet remain a freak of a tourist, never ceasing to take photos during my everyday pursuits. Yes, I am completely ashamed of it, and no, I will not stop. Lincoln Center, the Empire State Building, and a morning in Williamsburg all documented below.

nyc blogger

empire state building

williamsburg morning

Luckily, I was able to pursue some of things I love most in life in 2015. At the top of that list? Exercise, cooking, and spending time outdoors.

So, I did yoga whenever I could…

yoga to the people nyc

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…and ran a 10k in May.

nyc 10k

I ate a breakfast of champions every damn day, whipping up winning combos like this plant-based protein smoothie bowl…

healthy smoothie bowl

…these dates with almond butter, coconut, maple syrup + strawbs…

healthy paleo breakfast

…and this bowl of overnight oats topped with raisins, walnuts, and honey.

healthy oatmeal

I also enjoyed all that the great outdoors has to offer, be it in Utah or Westchester, NY.

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wild nature

And when my schedule (and wallet) allowed for it, I made sure to pick up fresh goodies from local farmer’s markets’ bounties. Those goodies included the following:

summer flowers vscocam

union sq. farmer's market

union square greenmarket

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As for some of my most memorable restaurant meals, this salmon + labne dish from Bonfiglio & Bread (in Hudson, NY) deserves a shoutout…

bonfiglio

…as do the chips + guac and Mexican corn from Taquiza in Miami…

…and the killer hummus from Taim in the West Village.

taim nyc

With just one last year left of my time in Atlanta, I returned to some of my favorite spots, like Octane Coffee

octane coffee grant park

…as well as Piedmont Park…

piedmont park

…and Yalla!

yalla atlanta

So, here’s to hoping that 2016 is as nutty as 2015…

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…and that:

the best is yet to come

Lots of love to all in the brand new year. Make it a goodie, lovelies!

My Oh Miami .

I was recently fortunate enough to spend a birthday weekend in Miami with some people I kinda love. Not surprisingly, I took some photos.

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Although this wasn’t my first rodeo (remember this and this and this?), none of my birthday buddies had been to MIA before. Hence, I felt obliged to show them the ropes.

And by show them the ropes, I mean park ourselves at the beach for hours, leaving only to consume tacos and omelettes and the occasional umbrella-topped coconut water drink.

We intentionally stationed ourselves next to this defunct snack bar, a kind of marker for our beach territory. That way, if anyone ever mustered the energy to go for a walk along the beach, they could easily find their way back to our sad excuse for an umbrella, along with our mismatched towels and single lawn chair (courtesy of our Airbnb). Kind of like the yellow brick road. Except the yellow (fake) brick snack bar.

 

Day one’s lunch was tacotastic, thanks to Taquiza, a shack-type joint on Collins Avenue that offers sun-weary beachgoers noshes galore. Winning items in my book included the charred, crema-slathered Mexican corn and the bubbly, still hot, salty, doughy, blue masa chips + guac. Unquestionably the best chips I’ve ever had, if you can’t tell by the abundance of adjectives in that last sentence.

Evenings included celebratory meals at both Yard Bird and The Miami Beach Edition, where friends and I indulged in shrimp ‘n grits, fried chicken biscuits, kale salad, deviled eggs, and roasted carrots (not to mention watermelon / rosemary / bourbon cocktails) at the former, and farm egg-topped pizza and fresh fish entrées at the latter. My birthday dessert consisted of a chocolate peanut butter sundae, because that’s really all I ask for in life. Ceiling scenes from the bar overlooking the pool at The Edition, pictured below.

The next morning consisted of a short (though necessary) pre-breakfast run, followed by a balanced refuel session at oldie but goodie, Aroma Espresso Bar. I opted for the yogurt parfait with a side of walnuts for an extra omega-3 boost, and the largest and strongest iced coffee I could get my hands on. You could call this my happy place.

Forced to check out of our Airbnb with some seven hours to kill before being airport-bound, I decided to soak up the last bit of beachy goodness with a boardwalk walk and some local perusing. I happily stumbled upon a farmer’s market full of vibrant fresh fruits, and a man who was not opposed to giving me multiple samples of the coconut smoothies he was making. Between his generosity and the fact that it’s not often (or ever) that I encounter lychees at my favorite Manhattan farmer’s markets, I wandered the stalls giddily.

And so, with one last snap of the palm trees…

…I headed oh so reluctantly back to rain-stricken Atlanta, thankful that some loved ones and I were able to party in the city where the heat is on, even just for a mere 48 hours.

‘Til next time, MIA.

Miami Food Recs

As promised, a peak at my favorite South Beach bites. Because what better way to start your Tuesday than by drooling all over your keyboard?

the dutch south beach

A most perfect board o’ carbs at The Dutch, stacked with the moistest mini cornbread muffins, tomato / parm focaccia, and honey / sea salt butter. Crazy delicious, these bready wonders were merely a precursor to the wonderful lunches we enjoyed at the hotel’s restaurant each day. On the highlight reel was a lobster (!) curry salad studded with raisins and cashews and served inside a coconut. The waitress offered to have the kitchen crack open the coconut for me so I could eat the “meat” once I’d finished the salad inside of it. I did not object.

the dutch south beach

the dutch miami

Also on the favorites list was a most refreshing rosemary lemonade (above) that made me forget the Florida humidity, stat.

the raleigh miami

the raleigh miami

Dinner at The Raleigh meant outdoor seating under string-lit trees, a blazing blue pool nearby, and some of the snackiest starters around, including crispy hominy dusted with chili + lime, and sesame-crusted “shrimp toast” (inappropriately labeled, appropriately delicious). Both so fried, so crunchy, and so small — we split these babies four ways — that we couldn’t feel bad about trying them. Though the entrées at the restaurant didn’t blow me away, the atmosphere was worth a quick visit, at least for a drink and a taste of the dishes featured above.

mandolin miami

mandolin miami

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An evening at Mandolin Aegean Bistro in Miami’s design district transported me to Greece for a quick, wonderful sec. Tucked away under white canvas, surrounded by ivy and vibrantly colored décor, we managed to sample our way through a Mediterranean feast of my very favorite foods. To start, we shared zucchini stuffed with eggplant, tomatoes, yogurt, and ground almonds, kefte (ground beef / lamb meatballs) paired with a thick, garlicky yogurt sauce, and grilled octopus. Next came a whole grilled fish doused in lemon juice and a barley salad studded with fresh mint, green apple slices, and pomegranate seeds. Note: This is my idea of a perfect meal.

the matador room miami

We ended our vacation on a superbly high note, thanks to The EDITION Hotel’s Matador Room. Let’s just say we rolled (not walked) out of the restaurant, cursing/blessing our over-ordering of: crispy calamari with ancho chili glaze; the mushroom / 3-cheese / farm egg pizza pictured above; shaved raw scallops; BBQ pork tacos with pickled red onions; charred octopus with crispy potatoes; and the chef’s speciality: arroz con pollo. Put simply, it was a flavor party of the highest order. The Matador Room ranks at the top of my Miami list as a must-try if you’re looking for a splurge ($-wise, calorie-wise, you name it) and some of the finest people-watching you’ll ever have the chance to do.

So by no means is this a Week’s Healthy Eats post, but you gotta do what you gotta do when vacation is just three days long. Right…?