Love Letters to Southern California

Santa Monica Sunset |

Alright, it’s time we went public with something…

We’re in a relationship with Southern California and things are getting serious.

Some of you may have already figured it out based on our previous posts, semi-annual trips, instagram posts, and incessant tweeting. So, let’s make it official with a few love letters to our favorite places in SoCal.

Pasta Sisters – Los Angeles, CA

Dear Pasta Sisters,

It has only been a month since our lips last touched your frest pasta, but we can still taste every flavor like it was yesterday. Your menu so simple in quantity, yet complex in flavor. This is what our heart has yearned for over the years. This is what pasta is supposed to taste like.

Oh how we would give anything to drown in a sea of your porcini mushroom cream sauce. Delicate, rich, yet not heavy. 

Pasta Sisters |

Your Arabbiata warms our soul like a sunrise in Italy. The spice lights up our tastebuds.

Pasta Sisters |

The only thing warmer is the generosity of your employees. With smiling faces, their enthusiasm exudes far beyond reaches of your storefront.

It was a meal like few others, which transported us from a non-descript strip mall in Los Angeles to the dinner table of a gracious Italian family. Our visit is sure to be the first of many.

Pasta Sisters |

Playa Provisions – La Playa, CA

Dear Playa Provisions,

Your proximity to LAX is alluring and although we “hit it and quit it,” you can rest assured that when we say we’ll call you in a few days, it’s the truth.

Playa Provisions |

You’re the whole package:  Restaurant. Coffee shop. Ice cream parlour. Culinary shop. You got it all going on and then some. 

Even celebrities wanna hang with you (sup, Conan O’Brien?).

Playa Provisions |

Your fish tacos are good enough to be the first or last of a trip; they make us want to miss our flight back home. 

I’m sure your competitors will be jealous when they read these words, but they shouldn’t hate the Playa, they should hate the game.

El Zarape – San Diego, CA

My Dear El Zarape,

I can’t remember the last time we visited San Diego and didn’t meet up…because we always ensure you’re one of our first stops.

Your selection of salsas leave nothing to be desired and there’s no reason to be unfaithful. The colorful salsa bar, is a feast for the eyes, while also pleasantly burning our mouths.

El Zarape |

Your California Burrito fills not only a void in my stomach but the void in my heart left by other unsatisfying Mexican food joints. The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts: Carne Asada, french fries, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, beans. 

You are our first, our last, our everything.

Beerfish – San Diego, CA

Dear Beerfish,

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it was superfluous. They said you were insane. Alas, you were able to put fish and chips into a burrito. It wasn’t gimmicky, either. It was awesome. You are awesome. 

BeerFish |

Oh how we miss the way your fish crunches amongst the soft tortilla.

Oh how we long to taste your spicy green sauce again.

Oh how we yearn to wash it all down with one of the many local beers you have on tap.

You fill our stomachs with a warm burrito and a cold beer, while you fill our mind with clarity to know that anything is possible.

Beer? Good.

Fish? Good.

Beerfish? We are in love.

2018 Mazda CX-3 Grand Touring

Dear CX-3,

Our rendevouzs are becoming more frequent and almost annual. Each time we spend together, I long for the next time to be sooner. Oh how I miss your handling. Every curve is an adventure, every twist bring on more heart palpatations.

2018 Mazda CX-3 |

2018 Mazda CX-3 |

I love the way your premium leather seats feel on my skin.

I love the way you keep us safe with the automatic lane assist.

I love the way your heated steering wheel keeps my hands warm on cool mornings.

I love the way your zoom zooms.

2018 Mazda CX-3 |

Although your small size helps you get into small spaces, there’s plenty of room to put junk in your trunk.

See you again soon…

2018 Mazda CX-3 |

2018 Mazda CX-3 |


Thanks to Mazda for sharing the wheels with us for a week; join the conversation and share the love with hashtag #DriveMazda. Wanna know more about the Mazda CX-3? You can check out the brochure here, or just go drive it for yourself. 

We were not provided with any compensation for this post from any restaurants or car brands. All opinions and love letters remain our own.

Reviews, Travel

Retreat Yo Self > The Inn at Perry Cabin – St. Michaels, MD

Inn at Perry Cabin

At some point during the last twelve months, my life turned into one that involves attending Board Meetings once every quarter. As fun as that sounds (it’s really not that bad), there is a nice perk:  The Annual Board Retreat.

This year’s retreat was at The Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels, MD and although most of my time was spent in meetings, the backdrop was a gorgeous waterfront property that would be an easy weekend escape for anyone in the Washington, DC metro area.

That Water View

Even if you hate boats and/or sailing and/or fishing–which would be a wasted use of a hatred–you can’t help but appreciate the calming water views. We were spoiled with perfectly warm fall weather, but it would also be a cool place to visit during a snowy winter day.

Stay Active

Although the work portion of my trip prevented us from enjoying one of the many daily activities, the list was long enough to entice us to return on a future trip. The daily activities ranged from early morning oyster boat tours to kayaking. Wanna bike through St. Michaels? They got you covered with complimentary bikes.

The best part? All of the activities are inlcluded in your stay. No upsells or surcharges. Luxury without a price tag on everything.

Get Turnt Down

At most nice places, you might feel ashamed to get cookie crumbs on your bed. Well, this is actually encouraged at The Inn:  Turn down service includes fresh baked cookies.

You read that correctly. Every evening, you are cordially invited to a cookie party in your own bed.

Make Room

A picture is worth a thousand words? Okay. Here are four thousand words:

Enjoy The Journey

Although not long enough to be considered a “road trip,” the two and a half hours it took us to travel to The Inn at Perry Cabin was long enough to warrant a couple pit stops for food.

If you have time, we highly recommend checking out Bakers & Co. in Annapolis, MD. The test of a good bakery is this:  If you finish eating breakfast, then go back into the bakery to take stuff home for later, it’s a pretty damn good bakery.

We took two croissants home with us.

And also pizza from Vin 909

Vin 909 - Annapolis, MD

Vin 909 - Annapolis, MD

A Smooth Ride

Thanks to the fine folks at Hyundai, the journey was also made much more comfortable by having the transportation provided via a 2018 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport Ultimate.

I appreciate the accurate use of “Ultimate” in the trim level. Some vehicle manufacturers use vague descriptions (SE, Grand Touring, SLX, R2D2) to describe the model trim level. Hyundai eliminates any guessing as to how well-equipped the Santa Fe is: Ultimate.

What makes a Santa Fe Sport an Ultimate? Not only heated seats, but a heated steering wheel. 360 degree surround view, Apple Car Play, and plenty of power with 240 HP in a 2.0L turbo engine to name a few. You can check out our separate Review/Q&A here and follow the conversation on social media:  #DriveHyundai.

One Last Tip

We wanted to end the post with one final tip, as it was a hard lesson that we had to learn. No matter how many nights you plan on staying at The Inn at Perry Cabin, add an extra day. We regretted not staying longer and you will too.


Relax Yo Self at Carmel Valley Ranch

Carmel Valley Ranch |

We’ve mentioned Carmel Valley Ranch in a previous post, but it really deserves its own post.

Why? After two visits in two years, clearly we’re trying to throw this ranch resort into our regular vacation rotation.

I firmly believe that every hotel, Airbnb spot, resort, cabin, RV, park bench–whatever–has its own aura. For Carmel Valley Ranch, there’s a strong sense of relaxation energy that hits you when you enter the front gate.

If you need to relax, this is your place. And I realize that’s a pretty cliché thing to say about a hotel. I’m sure every content marketer has used that phrase to help sell more rooms to the masses.

Carmel Valley Ranch’s relaxation value is the sum of many different parts, each one contributing to the ultimate goal of reducing stress.

There are an infinate number of reasons to plan a vacation to The Ranch, but we think you’ll only need these six to help convince you:

1.  Room with a View

Studies show that looking at your phone screen before and/or after bed is horrible for your eyes, brain, mood, and overall mental stability. Carmel Valley Ranch can help with that.

You’ll lose all desire to stare at your phone when you’ve got THIS right out your window:

Carmel Valley Ranch |

It’s a golf course, it’s a vineyard, it’s a valley.

It’s a room with a freaking view.

2.  Coolside Poolside

The view continues at the Ranch’s saltwater pool. One of multiple pools, by the way.

Have you ever taken a nap in a cabana? You should.

If your muscles aren’t relaxed by now, there’s only one thing left to try:  The infinity hot tub.

3.  Ranch to Mouf

The local “farm to fork” food movement is so over-saturated that the phrase has become a caricature of food marketing. Fortunately, no buzz words are necessary at the ranch, because a good portion of the food is grown on site.

Carmel Vally Ranch |

The restaurant at the ranch, Valley Kitchen, transforms those fresh-from-the-garden ingredients into fine dining. But the party doesn’t stop at the restaurant.

Honey, from the bee hives.

Herbs from the garden.

Swing Pinot Noir? From the Ranch’s very own vineyard.

Carmel Valley Ranch |

Even the staff has a garden in which they can plant sections of fruits and vegetables!

4.  Best Smelling Hotel Ever

Staying at Carmel Valley Ranch is like staying in a lavender field. Wait, no, it’s not like staying in a lavender field — IT IS STAYING IN A LAVENDER FIELD!

Carmel Valley Ranch |

I didn’t even know I liked lavender, having always assumed it was a floral potpourri that smells like grandma’s house. However, fresh lavender is possibly the most relaxing smell on earth. Now whenever the scent of lavender hits our noses, we’re instantly taken back to The Ranch.

5.  Creatures and Comfort

Yeah, sure, this is a luxury place.

There’s a golf course. Saltwater pool. Nice restaurant.

Despite all the “fanciness” The Ranch really feels down to earth and thoughtful. Part of the charm is the wildlife that roam the property. Deer and turkeys can be found straight chillin’ on the side of the road.

And there’s something fun about hearing Turkeys gobbling outside your window in the mornings.

FYI – Watch out for hungry birds who try to steal stuff off your deck. Speaking from experience…

6.  Oh and they also have a swing…

Carmel Valley Ranch |


Carmel Valley Ranch


Disclaimer:  We were not hosted or compensated by Carmel Valley Ranch for this post. In fact, they won’t even know about it until we tag them on Twitter. 


We Believe in Nashville

Get in my Mouf | Nashville at Heart Mural, Nashville, TN

Failure as a foodblogger can take many forms. I have come to terms with one of the most egregious failures:

During our first-ever visit to Nashville, I did NOT eat any hot chicken.

Wait–Before you click away, delete your cookies, and forget you’ve ever heard of this blog–I think you’ll still find a few reasons to stick around.

I won’t try and justify the lack of fiery fried chicken with an excuse. Instead, I think the trip was evidence of the fact that Nashville is more than just hot chicken. Way more.

In fact, we’re not even fans of country music. So, removing the country music and hot chicken from the equation, would Nashville still equate into a good time?

Like many other cities, Nashville’s charm goes well beyond crispy, spice-soaked poultry. We left with an appreciation for the city’s bagels, popsicles, craft coffee, Pig Macs, 100-layer donuts, and more.

W H E R E   T O   S T A Y

First, choosing an area to stay in is vital. If you hate where you have to call home, you’ll hate the whole trip! With the guidance of a friend and Nashville local, we were encouraged to stay in the thriving 12 South neighborhood.

12 South is one of the most popular areas of Nashville with tons of restaurants, bars, and shops running along Twelfth Avenue. AND it’s only about 10-15 minutes from downtown. [Sidebar: There isn’t a place that seemed to take more than 20 minutes to travel to from 12 South. It was a nice change-up from the normal DC area traffic.]

Get in my Mouf | I Believe in Nashville Mural, Nashville, TN

The other benefit of 12 south is that the area is filled with spiffy renovated Airbnb homes and guest houses. We loved staying at this one: Heart of 12 South: 1 Bedroom Cottage.

It was short walk away from pretty much every type of food you could want, but far enough away that we didn’t notice anyone stumbling home from any bars late at night. Warning: One of the dangers of staying in 12 South is the proximity to food. You can figuratively reach out of your Airbnb window and grab something to eat.

W H A T   T O   E A T

100-Layer Donuts

Exhibit A: Five Daughters Bakery and their 100-layer donuts. They specialize in cronuts and damn they are indeed special. So special that we visited the bakery three times during out trip.

Hot Chicken: 0
100-Layer Donut: 3

The highlight was a weekend special Peaches & Cream donut that combined sweet and juicy fresh peaches, with a decadent pastry cream sandwiched between buttery croissant-like layers. I nominate thee for Donut of the Year Award.

Get in my Mouf | Five Daughters Bakery, Nashville, TN

Oh, and much love to their other award-worthy pastry, their Orange Quinamin Roll makes the whole Cinnabon franchise look like a fool.


Proper Bagel joins Five Daughters in the “Circular Food Items” hall of fame. Also within walking distance from our 12 South crib, this bagel joint could easily make you think you accidentally got teleported into New York City.

Recommendation:  Ricotta & Egg bagel, which includes a farm egg with fresh ricotta, rosemary, and chives.

Get in my Mouf | Proper Bagel, Nashville, TN

Get in my Mouf | Proper Bagel, Nashville, TN


We attended a wedding shindig at The Old School, which is aptly named since this restaurant/event venue, used to be an old school. An easy 20-minute drive outside of the city,  the space was charming, the family-style food encouraged new friendships, and those grits.


Did we get a picture? No?

Trust us, they were good.

Deliciously Pretentious Coffee

You want a coffee drink made like a fine crafted cocktail? Barista Parlor is your place. I wasn’t sure how the Strawberry Fields espresso concoction would work, but it did. It worked so well. And it worked so hard. It worked a full 9-5 job, then worked overtime. It’s probably still working right now.

Strawberries and coffee ain’t your thing? Cool, try another seasonal flavor, ’cause I’m sure they’re all equally good. We also tried the Vietnamese Iced Coffee, which sounds traditional, but had a healthy dose of Nashville hip (if that’s even a thing). It wasn’t too sweet, as some Vietnamese coffees can be; it also had a nice spice and came with a cool flower.

Get in my Mouf | Barista Parlor, Nashville, TN

Get in my Mouf | Barista Parlor, Nashville, TN

There is some talk of this place being pretentious, but I personally like a little pretense with my coffee shop. It takes a lot of energy for someone to care enough to make a killer coffee. With the drinks we had, they’ve earned every ounce of pretentiousness.

Oh and they don’t have decaf, so don’t ask for it, noob.

W H A T   T O   S E E


I only have three letters to say about the Parthenon in Nashville. WTF? We can’t recommend going there, but we also can’t not recommend checking it out, because it’s just so…weird.

Seriously, this is not a joke. There is literally a full-scale replica of the Parthenon in Nashville. They will give you some reason as to why, but it still doesn’t make sense. If you want to get the full WTF experience, don’t just walk around the outside, the inside is where it’s at.

Hatch Show Print

Moving on to a place that we can absolutely recommend: Hatch Show Print. This place is cool. Old school cool (not to be confused with the cool The Old School we just talked about). The tour of the shop will make you appreciate the history of the print shop and its story of how it came to be. It’s hard not to appreciate a trade in which the process has remained the same for nearly a century. Plus you’ll leave with some print-making experience and a freshly inked souvenir.

Get in my Mouf | Hatch Show Print, Nashville, TN

Bachelorette Parties

Fun fact:  Nashville is apparently the #1 place to have a bachelorette party in the universe. Not sure if that’s factually accurate, but anecdotally, it feels right. Our first hours in “Nash Vegas” we saw about six separate groups of matching t-shirt wearing groups of ladies out to celebrate the loss of singlehood. After talking to some locals, it was confirmed that it’s like that ALL THE TIME. Every day, all day, any time of year.

Cool. (In my best John Oliver.)

W e   s h a l l   r e t u r n   s o o n . . . 

Nashville wasn’t necessarily on our radar as a rad city with a killer food game, but it is now. The radar is beeping loudly and a second trip will be forthcoming soon. Obviously, I have unfinished Hot Chicken business, but we also can’t wait to go back and relive everything above (and that doesn’t even include everything we ate (like Cochon Butcher, Frothy Monkey, Las Paletas, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream).

Get in my Mouf | Night Skyline, Nashville, TN