Long Island Long Weekend

Sean and I decided to take advantage of the East End’s off-season deals during our February long weekend.

We rented a little car near LaGuardia airport and drove 113 miles through Long Island, along the south fork, all the way to the very tip to a village called Montauk. (I, probably like most of my peers NOT from the East Coast, first learned of Montauk from the awesome 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; movie clip here.)

Sean and I stopped for brunch in Sag Harbor at a Hamptons institution called Estia’s Little Kitchen.

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We arrived at the lighthouse in Montauk in the early afternoon and took a quick look around.

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Sean’s eyes froze while looking through the binoculars, so we figured it was time to get back in the car. We rolled up to the historic and majestic Montauk Manor and got settled into our little studio with a lovely ocean view.

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That afternoon we drove over to the taproom at the Montauk Brewing Company to try some local brews and mingle with some local people. One pair of locals in particular gave us a great recommendation for dinner that night. We ate at Harvest on Fort Pond and had a fabulous meal – pizza with artichokes and a perfectly cooked piece of salmon. All the plates are served family style, which meant that we had pizza for lunch the next day!

We were indoors 95% of the time we spent in Montauk because we were there during New York’s coldest day on record. We woke up on Valentine’s Day to find the ocean steaming up into the frigid winter air.

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We were so thrilled by this temperature (-19C, for my metric friends and family) that we decided we needed to truly experience it, so we bundled up and drove to Ditch Plains for a beach walk.

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Sean lasted about 20 minutes out there, a good 13 or 14 more than I did. My fingers reached a painful level of cold that actually scared me. I’d never felt like I was in physical danger just by standing outside. I headed back to the car, which never really warmed up, and waited for Sean to come back.

I’m happy I at least got a few photos before scurrying back to the car.

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We drove back to the hotel for a nice inside day. Unfortunately, Sean caught a cold (and then I ended up with it too), but we still had a relaxing afternoon watching HGTV and planning our trip to Ireland. This seagull was somehow able to hang out outside on our balcony.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Oh and it’s a good thing we brought wine! Bacchus = new favorite.

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We watched the sunset and then headed to our Valentine’s dinner at Swallow East: a nice salad with goat cheese, beets, and pistachios; a simple ravioli dish with marinara sauce; seared tuna in dashi with broccoli rabe; and sea salt dark chocolate chip cookies for dessert.

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It snowed on our way out of town, but the temperature was almost 30 degrees warmer than the day before. That makes a real difference! We stopped for tea, coffee, and a muffin at the Hampton Coffee Company and continued our journey west. It was a memorable, freezing, and romantic weekend way out at The End. 

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Birthdays in Chicago

These are the Levy Sisters, whom I consider to be my own sisters. We’ve known each other our whole lives (in Carrie’s case, I mean that literally; Liz and I were already best friends when the cutest little redhead was born!).

To celebrate the Levy Sisters’ birthdays (both in February), my birthday (in January), and Carrie’s husband, Ryan’s birthday (also in February), we galavanted around Chicago for a weekend. Liz’s husband, Josh, offered to take time off work and have a boys’ weekend with their one-year-old son so that Liz could come hang out sans baby (for the first time since he was born!).

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On Saturday, we had a tasty brunch, shopped in Wicker Park, and indulged in some Stan’s Donuts. I remember Stan’s from my college days; they’re only other location in Westwood Village near UCLA. Highly recommended if you find yourself in Westwood or Chicago!

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Speaking of shopping…I just barely resisted buying some boots at John Fluevog. They were too expensive, but tempting!

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After perusing the shops of Wicker Park, we went to the Lincoln Park Conservatory to get out of the cold (though I really lucked out in terms of winter in Chicago; it was in the 40s both days) and into the tropics. The lush greenery and heavy does of oxygen really lifted our spirits.

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great view outside the conservatory

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Carrie and Ryan have a great apartment in Hyde Park, a fun and diverse neighborhood south of downtown and very close to Lake Michigan.

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On Saturday night, we had a fabulous dinner at a Mediterranean restaurant called Nia. Our waiter was attentive and helpful; the food was delicious, and so was the wine. Afterward we went to a brand new comedy club in Hyde Park called The Revival. We were very entertained by some improv (both musical and theatrical) and stand-up.

And to finish off our exciting Chicago Saturday night, the four of us got a cocktail at a hip bar in Hyde Park called The Promontory. I had my new favorite – a negroni – and we all had a quintessential Chicago celebrity-politician sighting. Rahm Emanuel himself was sitting just a couple tables away. Nothing like a political figure in the midst of scandal to round out a trip the Windy City. (Fun fact: Chicago is called the Windy City because of the hot air coming from politicians, not because of the frigid air coming off the lake!)

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Liz left Sunday morning to get back to her husband and son. Carrie and Ryan took me downtown to see the skyline up close and to experience the Cloud Gate (i.e., “The Bean”) in Millennium Park, and to be surrounded by masterpieces at the Art Institute of Chicago.

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I had so much fun in Chicago! Great food, great sights, and most importantly, great friends. I hope to have the chance to return.

Thanks to Carrie and Ryan for being excellent hosts and tour guides!