For fifteen days, Seth and I returned to the Homeland for some Texas-sized fun.
We dined at Underbelly with our dear friend and classmate Caryn.
We walked through a village of Christmas lights just outside of Giddings.
We stood in line at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, home of the most delicious brisket in existence.
I drank iced coffee with Sarah at our usual Starbucks and craft beer with Kyle at The Hay Merchant.
I baked cupcakes from scratch—one batch of double gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon brown sugar buttercream and one batch of spiced eggnog cupcakes with vanilla-rum swiss buttercream.
We spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with Seth’s family.
We explored the peaks and caves of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. I made it through my first camping experience in nearly freezing-cold weather. (Unfortunately, I did not earn my honorary Polar Bear patch.)
We sipped whisky from Seth’s new “Dizzy” glasses, designed by Sebastian Bergne. “Ideally suited to whisky drinking, they will slowly make your head spin. A gentle ‘ping’ sounds as they touch and turn.”
With Seth and Eliot’s help, I took a few food photos for their parents’ restaurant, Texastar Kitchen.
Seth and I, along with our friends David and Jess and Seth’s brother Eliot, toured four wineries near Fredericksburg, including Hilmy Cellars, Torre di Pietra Vineyards, Pedernales Cellars, and Woodrose Winery. We came home with two bottles from our first destination and one bottle from our third. Afterward, Seth took me to Uchi for an enchanting evening of succulent sushi and smooth sake. On top of an already decadent dinner, our waiter brought us a complimentary dessert of ginger and lemon gelato with pistachios and white balsamic.
We partied the night away on New Year’s Eve. I wore red lipstick and a matching backless dress.
On January 3, we flew to New York to reunite with some of our closest friends and classmates.
JP, Toine, Seth, and I ate handmade penne vodka with pancetta and fresh, crusty bread at Pepegiallo in Chelsea. Elena later joined us for happy hour, and we sipped beer from small steins at McSorley’s Old Ale House. We eventually walked a couple blocks over to Ippudo, where we feasted on steamed pork buns and ramen.
Toine, Seth, and I finally got our dim sum and milk tea fix. We walked off some of the calories as we shopped in Soho. That night, while the others ate at Mission Chinese, I met my old friend Kristin for drinks at the oh-so-cozy Experimental Cocktail Club on the Lower East Side. Afterward, we tipsily trotted one block over to Public, where we munched on a plate of grilled kangaroo (no joke!) and a salad of herby lentils. As we nursed two glasses of pinot noir, the bartender sent us complimentary samples of the house’s Stealth Margarita—a chilled concoction of tequila, St. Germain, lime, cucumber, chili tincture, and cayenne salt. Kristin hailed a taxi home, and I reunited with the old crowd plus Jonathan, Elena, Kate, Courtney, Sean, Brian, and MJ at Piano’s.
JP, Toine, Seth and I brunched at Five Leaves in Greenpoint. I order my first sweet breakfast in ages—ricotta pancakes with honeycomb butter, banana, blueberries, and strawberries—while the others opted for more savory items, including Moroccan scrambles (JP and Toine) and pork belly sandwiches (Seth). We explored Williamsburg and caught a subway to Greenwich Village. We sipped sangria at Wine Spot, one of JP and Toine’s usual hangouts, before meeting Ethan at Café Gitane for a Moroccan meal of salmon pot pie and spicy organic meatballs.
Our trip to the States was both exhausting and elating. We enjoyed spending time with our friends and family, eating our fill of American and ethnic foods, and experiencing temperatures outside the 50-70 degree range.