Best Eats in Florence, Italy


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I’ve been back from my very first trip from Italy for about 2 months now but I am still dreaming of some of the dishes I’ve had.  Everything is just so fresh and well thought out….it’s not about quantity, but quality.  The Italians definitely take great pride in their dishes.  I hardly saw any food chains, it’s all sort of family owned restaurants that’s been around for generations and it shows in the food.

My absolute favorite city was Florence.  It had such an old world feel along with an underlying romantic presence.  Yet so chic and modern at the same time. Florence is MAGICAL!  I’ve never been to such a place with so many facets.  Not to mention I had some of my favorite foods here.  Here’s some of my favorite picks!


Do order the famous “White Tiger” pizza.  This pizza has won awards!  Enough said.


Mercato Centrale

You can spend hours exploring this unique marketplace full of produce stands and food artisans not to mention a huge second floor to explore and sit to enjoy your finds.  My favorite is on the first floor produce section.  There is a little seafood stand (just follow the scent) frying up the freshest seafood.  We’re talking jumbo sized prawns and calamari.  YUM.


Trattoria Sostanza

If I had to fly back to Italy to have ONE dish.  This would be it.  Trattoria Sostanza is nothing for the eyes, it’s a small no frills restaurant with communal tables.  But DO make reservations, it fills up quickly…for two words, Butter Chicken. Well ok, I mean petti di pollo al burro.  I’ve never had anything so delectable.  Crispy fresh fried chicken sizzling in the most incredible butter sauce.  I can’t even.


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The service blows, the place was hot as meatballs, but I had the best gosh darn steak here.  The famed Florentine steak.  It was as big as my head but yes did I demolish it.  Crispy charred on the outside and rare as can be on the inside.  I felt like there was no way I could get a steak like this in the States and I enjoyed every.single.bite.


River Roast


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River Roast is a new American restaurant located between the loop and River North specializing in…you guessed it…roasts.  It’s a great space with stunning views of downtown and the glittering (yet smelly) Chicago River. Perfect al fresco seating for the 3 weeks out of the year Chicago gets warm enough.


I ordered the Roasted Chicken with RR (River Roast?) potatoes.  It came out beautifully crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside.  Seasoned very well…it was just really good comfort food. The sides were legit as well, stand-out were the roasted mushrooms.


Dessert was their soft serve flavor of the day, Cupcake!  I was told they actually grinded up real cupcakes and blended it into the ice cream. Hmmmm….it was a pretty presentation but I will say it looked a lot better than it tasted.  The cupcake flavor was very subtle.  I wanted more frosting taste I guess.

All in all, great food, nothing mind blowing, but go for the views and if you want a legit hearty meal.

Tango Sur


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Tango Sur is one of my favorite places to eat, but living in Chicago, with all the options out there, I only find myself here every few years!  Last weekend was one of those times.

It’s dark and romantic inside, but on the other hand, it’s quite the opposite.  It’s crowded, tables are close together and you can hear everything your neighbor is saying.  But…it’s still quite a vibe, chaotic romantic if you will.  And really cool Tango music plays in the background.

Getting down to the nitty gritty, we ordered the “Para Dos”.  It’s basically a mixed grill of a bunch of different meats and cuts meant to be shared between 2 peeps.  And it is DIVINE.


It’s grilled short ribs, flap meat, sausage, beef sweetbreads and black sausage (maybe blood sausage?).  My favorite is the short ribs, I would say that first bite into the fatty tender meat rivals any steak in Chicago (and Chicago KNOWS its steaks).  The best part is the dipping oil.  It’s garlicky and rich, and takes each bite to the next level.  Simply can’t go without it.

I’m drooling just writing about this, but I’m sad because I’m sure it’ll be awhile until I’m back again (just too many restaurants to explore!).  Even though they say they don’t take reservations online, you can try to call and make one if it’s going to be just two people.  They will put you towards the front of their list once you arrive if you do that.  Otherwise, prepare to wait for prime time dinnertime and also…BYOB!

Triangl Swimwear


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Yea, it’s the dead of winter, but I’m already picking out my swimwear for the summer!   The latest trend I’ve been seeing all is an Aussie import….no, not Uggs…but Triangl swimwear!  Beyonce rocks a top in her “Run the World” video…


And model slash reality star, Kendall Jenner, has been spotted out paddle boarding in the hot swimwear as well!


What’s so special about Triagl?  Well their suits are made of neoprene, otherwise known as scuba material.  It stretches and conforms to fit all body shapes.  Not to mention the bold lines and colors makes Triagl’s look very unique and eye catching!

The con is that the ship rate is sort of high at a flat $20 as they ship from Australia.  They will waive the fee again if you need to exchange for a different design/size if you are not satisfied with what you ordered. I am debating getting one, maybe it’ll bring me out of the winter funk!







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It’s a balmy 2 degrees in Chicago today…Fahrenheit that is.  Side note, I just learned the US, the Bahamas, Belize and the Caymen Islands are the only countries to still use the Fahrenheit scale.  (Just downloaded the Triva Crack app on my phone, you should too).

Anyhoo, if you live in wintry weather, you may have noticed instead a sea of Uggs, you are seeing these super colorful and fun furry boots on every female (maybe some men) now.  They are Sorels and though they’ve been around since 1962, this Canadian company has made it’s way over here big time (at least I’ve just recently noticed for the past few winters).

I wanted to buy some online last year during the infamous Polar Vortex but they were sold out everywhere.  I learned my lesson and bought mine this Fall before most people’s thoughts of snow and cold and…I love them!  They are super warm and although I haven’t trekked through serious deep snow yet, they are waterproof.  That’s more than I can say about my Uggs, which I love for warmth, but not for any type of moisture.  The best part is, I love the fun colors!  It’s nice to see some bright colors amidst the backdrop of dirty snow and black northface jackets.  There’s a nice selection online now, just cross your fingers for your size!

These are mine!


Love the colors!

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Thinking of getting these…!


Christian Louboutin Nail Polish


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Sooooo, how about that $675 nail polish for Christmas?

Yes, Christian Louboutin makes a limited edition nail polish that cost almost 7 hundos. But why you ask?  Well the bottle itself is made with 1,500 hand applied Strass crystals. The polish itself, called “Starlight”, matches the same signature red seen on the bottoms of the famous shoes.   If you want an un-crystalized bottle, CL sells a cheaper version for $50 here.

Come get it while it lasts, the designer has only produced 1,000 bottles.  You can buy here at Sephora.  There is one review so SOMEBODY bought it.  And I quote, “Slightly pricey, but worth the money.”


My Favorite Maui Eats!


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My husband and I just got back from our honeymoon in Maui and man oh man, what a BEAUTIFUL place.  I can see why many people have a hard time coming back.  I know I’ll be having the vacation blues for awhile, but besides the endless perfect scenery, I will be missing all the great food in Maui.

I did my due diligence as well as getting great recommendations from people who have been to Maui and I can honestly say I didn’t have one bad meal. Here are some of my best Maui wowie foodie experiences!


I made a last minute reservation for Merriman’s as a huge push from one of my coworkers.  I was skeptical as I only had one night open for this and it was arrival day.

merrimanIt is a beautiful open air restaurant close to the Ritz Carlton.  Too bad it was already dark when we got in as we got a nice little table by the ocean.  We tried the ahi poke with taro chips as an app.  I was definitely impressed with the presentation as it was served over ice.  The tuna was fresh and melted in my mouth almost like butter.  We decided to do half orders of the Mahi Mahi and Colorado lamb chops.  Boy did I regret getting a half order of the chops, it was probably the best tasting lamb chop I’ve ever had.  Very woodsy with a strong gamey flavor that I come to love about lamb.  So good!  The mahi was sort of forgettable compared to that!

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Lahaina Grill

Lahaina Grill is a cute bistro right in the heart of downtown Lahaina, a famous whaling town and previous capital of Hawaii.  It now swells with many tourists visiting the great art galleries, restaurants and shops.  We tried the local beers (LOVED the Bikini Blond).   I had the Tequila shrimp and Firecracker Rice (butterflied white shrimp in tequila butter!).  The shrimps were huge and tasted like mini lobster tails while the sauce had sort of a curry kick which I enjoyed.  My husband had the Sesame Seed Crusted Seared Ahi and said at the end of the trip, it was the best dish he had all week!




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Ululani’s Shaved Ice

Ok, now this was probably one of my favorite food places in Maui.  So good, we went back twice to two different locations.  Ranked number 1 and 2 on Trip Advisors in Maui, I can totally see why.  This isn’t like your average sno cone, the shaved ice here is so fine, the texture is absolutely amazing, not like crunchy ice.  Defnitely order one with coconut or macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom.  It’s like a bonus on top of a bonus.  I tried to do a lot of Hawaiian sounding flavors like Guava, lychee, passion orange and pickled mango.  All refreshing.  And I topped mine off with a “snow cap” which is like condensed milk that they pour over the ice.  YUMMY!

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Feast at Lele

We were in Hawaii for the first time so we had to be super tourists and do a luau.  The luau I chose was a little different in that they served us food to our table (as oppose to a regular buffet style).  And instead of just Hawaii, the luau showcased many of the Polynesian islands.  We had four courses and each course had three dishes from a specific island and then a related show.  It was Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. Truthfully, we had so much to eat, none of the dishes were really standouts, but the whole experience was pretty cool and something a newbie should do.

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Koiso Sushi

I wanted to try the top sushi in Maui and this constantly came up on my research.  It is in a inconspicuous plaza and a tiny space of a restaurant.  Just a sushi bar and then one table.  Probably room for about 14 people, definitely recommendations were needed as many people were turned away in the course of our meal.  There was one sushi chef, who was the owner and his wife was the waitress.

We had the sashimi sampler and then a chef’s choice platter which was about 14 pieces of his most fresh seafood of the day. Definitely authentic and simple.  About half the customers there were Japanese and seemed like locals as they knew the chef and his wife, so I gave myself kudos of finding something off the beaten path.   I had some amazing bites of toro and who knows what else.  I just know it was REALLY good and fresh tasting.



This was located in the Four Seasons hotel where we were staying at the second half of our trip.  I wanted to try one of the resort’s restaurants and Ferraro’s did not disappoint.  The beef carpaccio was wonderfully executed. Buttery and meaty.  And the Frutti Di Mare (Linguine with seafood and spicy tomato sauce) was a nice departure from all the other foods we’ve been eating.  I love me some pasta.  It was super dark, opened air and romantic inside (hence the light up menu and cocktails ipad).

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Mama’s Fish House

Last but certainly not least, was my FAVORITE place in Maui that we tried.  Mama’s was our last stop right before we had to fly out and I am so glad we decided to end our trip with this.  Mama’s has the reputation and ranking as one of the top restaurants in Hawaii and I concur.  It is quintessential Hawaiian decor, right by the ocean with the huge North shore waves.  We got an AWESOME table in the front overlooking the waves (always milk the honeymoon card!)  I kept looking around and thinking how nice the atmosphere was.   It’s not fancy pants nice, it just puts you in the Hawaiian mood.  The menu was cool because it even tells you the name of the fishermen who caught your potential dinner and where.

We each got delicious fruity drinks (I got the guava lemonade fizz), and the lobster guacamole as an app.  It was the BEST guac I’ve ever had.  Big chunks of lobster and I really enjoyed the subtle ginger and onion taste.  Different, yet so yum.  I almost licked the bowl when I was sadly finished.

I ordered the mahi mahi stuffed with lobster and crab with a macadamia nut crust (one of their most popular dish).  The first bite was heaven.  I am actually not even a huge fan of fish (I rarely order at restaurants), but it was seriously the best bite of fish I’ve had to date.  The combo of the fresh mahi, with the savory crab and lobster finished with the crunchyness of the crust.  AMAZING.

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Oprah’s Favorite Things


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It’s that time again…Oprah’s Favorite Things!! I went through the 72 items and sifted through some of the ridiculous ($700 gold plated Beats headphones really?) and listed my top five that are affordable(ish) and fun! It’s never too early for some holiday shopping!


Heart Snapshot Mixed Photo Art – $42 with frame at

What an easy and fun gift to display all the cutest pics of your friendship!


Tory Burch Reva watch – $395 at
A great and timeless splurge for your special someone!


Alena slippers – $120 at
These are so versatile with the adjustable cuffs. Uggs are worth the splurge, so soft and warm!


Truffle Oil Holiday Set – $59 at
I can dump truffle oil on anything at anytime, nomzzzz!


Mini Filled Bagel Bites – $36 for 36 bagels (delivered frozen) at
What a great gift for coworkers, lots of different flavors and easy to share!

20% off with OPRAH code for the truffle and bagels!

Xo, G Wine by Giuliana


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I had no idea Giuliana Rancic had her own wine! Called Xo, G, they are available starting this week at most Wal-Marts for a great Wal-Mart price of $9.97.

I love this idea of individually sealed wines for one glass consumption at a time! As the only wine drinker of my household (barely if that!), I would hate to crack open a whole bottle of wine only to have one or two glasses.  The rest would just sit in the fridge and be forgotten about!

So far, they will be available in pinot grigio, pinot noir, rose, and a mixed pack of red and white.  How freakin cute are these bottles?!!!





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