Our Favorite Honeymoon Experiences: Sunset Cocktails in Hawaii

mai_tai-house-without-a-key-1Looking to add a unique dining experience to your honeymoon registry? Consider sunset cocktails at Halekulani’s House Without a Key, located in the heart of Waikiki Beach on the island of Oahu.

Snag a table under the giant Kiawe tree, order a pair of signature Mai Tais, and enjoy traditional Hawaiian music and dancing just as the sun dips below the horizon.

Meanwhile, you’ll have a front row vantage point of Honolulu’s famous Waikiki Beach.

It’s incredibly romantic and overall one of Hawaii’s can’t-miss honeymoon experiences.

 

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Image courtesy of Take Me Away!

The Best Baked Sweet Potato Fries for 4th of July

These easy sweet potato fries, spiced with ginger and sea salt, will be a hit at your 4th of July barbecue.

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Instead of bringing the usual macaroni salad or chips to this weekend’s 4th of July celebrations, follow this easy recipe for a no-fuss dish that will be an amazing hit. Trust us – when we tested this recipe at a recent dinner party, it was completely devoured right away (even the cheese plate of Mount Tam was ignored!). After all, what is more American, irresistible, and beloved than a plate of homemade, spicy, sweet, and decadent fries?! Literally, these are the best baked sweet potato fries for 4th of July!

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Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Yield: Large plate of fries, enough to feed 4

Potatoes:
2-3 medium to large sweet potatoes

To Glaze Potatoes:
2 tablespoons oil (we used olive, but toasted sesame would also be fantastic)
1 gallon plastic bag

Spice Coating:
2 teaspoon light sugar, preferably brown
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

To Cut Potatoes:
Trusted chef’s knife
Cutting board

To Bake Potatoes:
1 large baking sheet
Parchment baking paper
Spatula

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Prep your oven: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line the large baking sheet with parchment baking paper and set aside.

Mix the Spice Coating: In a small bowl, mix the sugar, ginger, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, and cinnamon until combined. Set aside.

Cut the potatoes: Wash the sweet potatoes under hot, running water. Set upon a clean surface. Using your cutting board and chef’s knife, cut a potato in half, left to right. Then, cut each piece again in half, top to bottom. You should now have four pieces upon your cutting board. Take a quarter piece and cut it in half again, top to bottom. Continue cutting long strips, top to bottom, until the entire quarter piece has been cut into long strips. You can continue cutting into the potato as you wish, to make the pieces even thinner or smaller. Do this for each potato.

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Glaze the potato pieces: Throw all your potato pieces into the large, gallon plastic bag. Throw in the 2 tablespoons of oil. Hold the bag opening tightly with one hand and toss the bag around with the other. You want to evenly coat all the pieces with the oil for optimal glazing.

Coat the potato pieces: Dump all the oily potato pieces onto the lined baking sheet. Try to arrange a single layer of potato pieces. Then, using a small spoon or your hand, sprinkle the Spice Coating as evenly as possible over all the potato pieces.

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Bake the potato pieces: Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Then, use the spatula to flip all the pieces over and bake for another 15 minutes or until just slightly browned and crisped around the edges.

Enjoy!: We recommend pairing with a cold, frothy glass of beer and a big, juicy burger. 🙂

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HAPPY 4th OF JULY!  😎

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The Drinks You Should Be Ordering At San Francisco’s Best Coffee Shops

Put down your coffee. Here are the top drinks you should be ordering at San Francisco’s best coffee shops. 

Here at Wanderable, our team is lucky enough to live in San Francisco. This home of ours is a foodie mecca, and in recent years, its coffee game has been strong. New coffee roasters seem to pop up as swiftly as your daily 2-pm coffee cravings hit. In our quest to stave off our own coffee cravings, we’ve done the leg work and sampled all the best drinks there were to find from SoMa to the Mission. Here, we present to you the truly great drinks you should be ordering at San Francisco’s best coffee shops.

Philz

Philz is a beloved local brand here in the Bay Area. The beauty of Philz is that you can find one in nearly any neighborhood in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. As soon as you walk into a Philz, your spirits are instantly lifted – these coffee shops are just plain fun. You can even jam out to good music as you wait for your perfectly-dripped cup of coffee.

Our rec: The Mint Mojito, hands down. This iced drink is sweet, frothy, creamy, and best of all, it comes with with a fresh bunch of peppermint leaves that elevates the iced coffee game. Plus, you can enjoy one on a hot summer day (we don’t get many of these in San Francisco, but bear with us here) along with a Philz Coffee Pepples Donut on the side. Why not chase the best Philz drink down with the best Philz-flavored organic donut?!

Sightglass

Sightglass is quickly rising in ranks as one of the coolest coffee brands in San Francisco. Their stores are simply beautiful, with warehouse-like spaces filled with plenty of light and high ceilings. And their coffee? Need you ask? Coffee purists are happy enough to find that Sightglass coffee is good enough to stand alone, and those who like a little more cream and sugar in their cup of joe can try one of the beloved lattes or cold brews here.

Our rec: Sightglass just opened up San Francisco’s first affogato bar in their SoMa location. They’ve teamed up with an equally delicious Portland brand – Salt & Straw Ice Cream – to offer up refreshing espresso-soaked icecream. Try the affogato-soaked Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. Perfect for a hot day in the city. Or a cold day in the city. Really, we’d consume that affogato every day if we could.

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Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle. What more can be said about this coffee brand that hasn’t already been stated? Local residents can wax poetic about Blue Bottle’s venerable place in San Francisco’s coffee community. Blue Bottle was one of the first on the scene when coffee started getting really good again (we will overlook the bleak period that is otherwise known as S***bucks). Blue Bottle’s artisan beans are especially good in cold brews.

Our rec: You can probably guess what our favorite drink is here – the New Orleans Iced Coffee. This has sweetness, creaminess, and notes of chicory that make this cold brew the first thing we crave when we need a jolt of caffeine. The famous Blue Bottle logo that is printed on your cup of New Orleans Iced Coffee will also be an iconic reminder of just how amazing coffee has gotten in the Bay Area.

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Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel Coffee is the sort of coffee joint you can sit in for hours. Not only are their stores beautiful (would you call their Mission store “rustic-chic”?), but their coffee is, to put it simply, quite tasty. The really cool thing about Four Barrel is that you can get a sense of their entire roasting process with the knowledgeable tastings they do. The way they describe their coffee here is similar to the way that a sommelier would describe wine. Honestly, we’d happily choose a cup of Four Barrel Coffee over a glass of red any day.

Our rec: All the drinks at Four Barrel are executed perfectly by their well-trained staff, but our go-to would be their latte with almond milk. We’re not even vegan or vegetarian, but there’s something about the sweetness of the almond milk that pairs perfectly with their strong coffee flavors. A spoon is definitely necessary to scoop up all the creamy foam on top.

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The Best Margarita Cupcakes for Cinco de Mayo

These fresh margarita cupcakes have just the right kick of jalapeño-infused tequila. Perfect to ring in Cinco de Mayo and snack on while planning your next adventure to Mexico!

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Margarita + cake = <3

Cinco de Mayo calls for many things: a tall glass of sangria, a plate of crunchy chips and rich guacamole, and amazing margarita cupcakes to top it all off.

These cupcakes are brain fuel, dessert, and inspiration all rolled into a crumby golden cake topped with a dollop of creamy, spicy frosting. Follow the easy recipe below for the sweetest ending to your Cinco de Mayo celebrations and the perfect start to explore our top-rated activities in Mexico.

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Fresh limes – use to garnish your cupcakes.

Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker and Martha Stewart Living

Yield: 12 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
Zest and juice of 1½ limes
2 tablespoons tequila
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk

To Brush Cupcakes:
1 to 2 tablespoons tequila

Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2¾ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons jalapeño-infused tequila
Pinch of coarse salt

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Soak the jalapeño in tequila for an easy infusion.

Make jalapeño-infused tequila: Heat the jalapeño until crispy and dark brown. Soak the jalapeño in a cup of tequila for at least 1 hour (slice for more heat). When fully infused, pour tequila through a mesh strainer to remove jalapeño and seeds.

Prep your oven: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Make the cupcakes: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy (~8 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs one at at time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract and tequila. Mix until combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three batches, alternating with the buttermilk in two batches. Mix only until just incorporated, using a rubber spatula to give it one last mix by hand.

Bake the cupcakes: Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just slightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.

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Don’t forget to let your cupcakes cool for 5-10 minutes.

Make the frosting: In an electric mixer on medium-high speed, use a whisk attachment to beat the butter for 8 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low, and gradually add the powdered sugar, mixing and scraping the sides of the bowl until all is incorporated. Continue mixing on medium speed for 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and add the lime juice, jalapeño-infused tequila and salt mix until fluffy.

Brush the cupcakes: Allow the cupcakes to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack. Brush the tops of the cupcakes with the 1 to 2 tablespoons of tequila. Set the cupcakes aside to cool completely before frosting them.

Frost the cupcakes: Frost cupcakes and garnish with lime zest, an additional sprinkling of salt and a lime wedge.

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The lime wedges make a cute decoration.

After baking these beauties, we’re feeling inspired to soak up sunshine and fun in Mexico! We’re dreaming of taking private surf lessons at Costa Azul, swimming with whale sharks, and exploring the Mayan Ruins.

How about you? Which top-rated activity would you love the most in Mexico?

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Couldn’t resist a bite before taking this photo!

Why just stop at Mexico?! Check out our other top travel destinations to fuel your wanderlust today. 

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Top 5 Things to Do in New York City

A true New Yorker at heart, Maddy Douglass of Ginger & The Fizz shares her top 5 favorite things to do in New York City. 

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 Maddy enjoying a coffee in the city that never sleeps.

I know, I know – not another list, right? But this one is a legitimate, friend-curated, New Yorker-approved list of things to do and eat if you have a quick two or three days in the Big Apple coming up! You probably already know by now that you can’t see everything in New York on a shorter (or even sometimes lengthier) excursion, so you’ve got to prioritize – and, if we’re being honest, the Statue of Liberty probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Make the most of the exhibits and restaurants that are around now and you won’t regret a single subway swipe (or cab ride) across the island.

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 A close-up of the Guggenheim Museum’s iconic building.

1. The Guggenheim Museum

If the Met is the prom queen, the Guggenheim is her slightly hipster younger sister. Wander in and out of the galleries on each floor (when I was there I saw Indian tapestries and Kandinskys in addition to the main exhibit: On Kawara – Silence ) while making your way up the spiraling center concourse to the very top. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building is a must see for the architecture alone, although they always have great exhibits going on too. After you’ve had your fill, head down the street to the Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky for a sumptuous hot chocolate (or an iced coffee depending on the time of year), or go to Luke’s nearby for a hunger-quelling lobster roll.

And if you still want to see what The Metropolitan Museum of Art has to offer, it’s right down the street as well!

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 Bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters, the perfect breakfast.

2. Russ & Daughters Café

Russ and Daughters has long been known as the go to place for fresh bagels, lox, and any other “appetizing” needs you might have (appetizing: most commonly known as “the food one eats with bagels,” like smoked and cured salmon, salads, etc.)

Luckily for, well, everyone on the planet, they’ve recently opened a café a few short blocks from their original location that serves up an incredible variety of traditional Jewish dishes – some of my favorites where the chopped liver and the latkes – all for the small proverbial price of a sometimes lengthy line. If you go around 10am, there should be no problem getting in under twenty minutes.

If you’re still interested in exploring the East Village after your brunch, try grabbing a cup of broth at Brodo on 12th and meandering through the little side streets.

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Reynard will redefine how you do brunch.

3. Reynard restaurant in the Wythe Hotel (also: Mast Brothers Chocolate)

If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner that is a bit more upscale, Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg can’t be beat. Their brunch menu (which included French toast with duck confit on my visit) is pleasantly original, and their dinner hour can be easily followed up by a trip to the rooftop bar to see the Manhattan skyline across the water. Built in what was originally an old warehouse, the dining areas perfectly demonstrate this blend of refined style and traditional architecture, making a meal here an event for the eyes as well as the, well, stomach.

If you go midday, be sure to check out the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory a few short blocks away. You can walk in to their show room to get a small peak of their factory process and buy some brightly colored bars for the trip home, or you can buy tickets in advance (they sell out at least a week ahead) to their actual factory tour.

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 The chocolate display at Mast Brothers Chocolate: heaven!

4. Golden Unicorn/Chinatown dumplings

Ready to go back to Manhattan? Head to Chinatown to get Shanghai dumplings (also known as soup dumplings, those delectable little bits that have savory broth inside the dumpling and deliver it straight to your senses with every bite) at Golden Unicorn, one of the best known dim sum places in the city.

If you don’t have time for a full sit down meal, head to Chinatown and wander down Canal street for a gander at the sights and sounds of authentic Asian fare. Pick up a few (or a whole bag of) steamed dumplings in any one of the shops and take them back to your hotel or hostel or friend’s apartment for a comforting, easy dinner. My favorites are the steamed pork buns, pan fried chicken buns, and sesame balls with marzipan inside for dessert!

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 A classy cocktail at Refinery Rooftop bar.

5. Refinery Rooftop for drinks in Midtown

If you’re looking for somewhere nice but comfortable for evening or after dinner drinks, there’s no better place than Refinery Rooftop bar atop the Refinery Hotel in Midtown. The covered rooftop ensures that the panoramic views of the city (including an up close and personal look at the Empire State Building) are available to you year-round, and the rustic décor and exposed brick ensures that you feel cozy and comfortable regardless of how snow-covered the patio is just outside the bar. Oversized outdoor light bulbs are strung up across the ceiling, adding a romantic and celestial feel to bar’s atmosphere – and their drinks are just the icing on the cake. I personally loved the hot Chef’s cider (similar to a hot toddy), while my drink dates both enjoyed stronger martini cocktails.

If you’re looking to stay in Manhattan, check out Refinery Hotel just below – that’s one way to ensure you’ll make it to the rooftop bar during your visit!

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 The view from the top of Refinery Hotel is surreal.

Regardless of where you go or stay, New York City always casts a spell over its visitors, ensuring that you never feel like you’ve gotten your fill of this city. Hopefully these places will offer enough of a taste that you’ll want to keep going back!

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Maddy navigating the streets like a pro.

With these tried-and-true suggestions from Maddy, we can’t wait for our next trip to New York City! All the iconic art, amazing food, and beautiful views are calling. 

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