Tuesday Travels: Borgo Argenina

Welcome to Borgo Argenina, a truly magical stone estate in the hills of Chianti. IMG_2414.JPGIMG_2419.JPG

Visiting Borgo Argentina was an experience like no other and my absolute favorite part of our Newly Newlywed Italian Adventure. The 998 AD Peasant Farmer home had been abandoned for years when, now owner, Elena Nappa, discovered the property while on a holiday from Milan. A former fashion designer, Elena quickly fell in love with the estate. She knew in her heart it was a calling for her to restore the hamlet into a stunning seven room Bed & Breakfast and that is exactly what she did. Her story of how she transformed this property without electricity and running water into a fully functioning Bed and Breakfast is really remarkable. IMG_2416.JPG

Adam and I drove from Florence to the Chianti hamlet. Passing thousands of grape vines and olive trees, around curvy bends, narrowingly escaping head on collisions with Italian drivers and through the rolling hills to get to Elena’s. Upon arrival at Borgo Argenina we were greeted by Elena’s four-legged friends, Giuseppina and Pasqualina along with other guests who were sitting on the grand stone patio, enjoying a glass of vino taking in the sunset over Chianti. IMG_2420.JPG

“Welcome! You must be new! Elena is upstairs in the Kitchen.” one guest said. Instantly we were family.

Our journey at Borgo Argenina began as we passed the bell to ring for Elena if you arrive after hours and opened the original wooden double doors adorned with iron locks and handles. IMG_2415.JPG

Once inside the main house, up the narrow stone stairway with one tiny window over looking the garden, we found Elena, tooting around her kitchen. IMG_2433.JPG

“Ah! Bella! Benvenuto! I’ve been expecting you! Fett, si?” Elena asked.

She grabbed the keys and escorted us to the Piccola Suite, our home for the next four days. We had a quaint sitting room adjacent to our bedroom, an attached private bath and views of the rolling Chianti Hills and Elena’s garden. PicTapGo-Image-5.jpg

Each room is equip with a mini bar and tea kettle that is refreshed daily, wifi and a hairdryer. (Yay! One less thing to pack!) There is no air conditioning at Borgo Argenina, thankfully, even during the Summer months the nights were cool and a flowing breeze filled our room. Elena took us downstairs, showed us the Parlor and Breakfast Room before heading outside.PicTapGo-Image-2.jpgIMG_2434.JPGIMG_2423.JPGIMG_2422.JPG

After a tour of our suite and parts of the property we sat down with Elena on the stone patio outside. She shared some of her favorite places in Tuscany with us over a glass of wine. PicTapGo-Image.jpg

We chatted for what felt like hours of friends catching up before we realized the time and that we were late for a supper reservation she made for us at Giorgio’s. We will share that experience with y’all a little later. Delizioso!

Every morning, Borgo Argenina guests are greeting to a beautiful breakfast spread prepared by two of Elena’s three employees. On the daily menu: Fresh Coffee, homemade Yogurt, local meats, cheeses and honey, fresh fruit, and varieties of Elena’s Coffee Cake.  PicTapGo-Image-3.jpgPicTapGo-Image-1.jpgPicTapGo-Image-4.jpg

Elena also invites her guests to a nightly Cooking Class at Borgo Argenina. If you’re staying with her, this is a MUST! It was by far the best food we had during our time in Italy and if she had extra room we would have taken the class a second time! Each guest is gifted with her Borgo Argenina Cookbook-filled with Elena’s family recipes and traditional Italian dishes. The time we spent in the kitchen with Elena and other guests was a highlight of our trip. Pop over next Monday to see what was on our Menu! IMG_1196.JPG

Y’all, I really can not express how much HeliHubby and I enjoyed our time at Borgo Argenina. It is in a perfect location to be a “home base” for Montepulciano, Volterra, Siena and more little Tuscan Wine towns. It’s truly an enchanting, one of a kind Italian escape. Elena is absolutely wonderful. She is warm, welcoming and lovely. We felt like we had known her for years and yet we just met. Leaving we all three got a bit teary eyed as we said our “goodbyes.” I don’t know when the Newly Newlyweds will get to return to Chianti to visit Elena, but I do know HeliHubby and I both left a piece of our hearts in Tuscany at Borgo Argenina. It is just magical.

If you’re considering a Tuscan Vacation I highly reccomened you consider Borgo Argenina as your home. Have questions about the hamlet or want help planning your vacation? Feel free to message us- I am happy to help! PicTapGo-Image-7.jpg

Fino all prossima volta, we hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers Y’all!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds, not experts!

Tuesday Travels: Girls Trip!

Sorry @HeliHubby, but you’re not invited on this impromptu Girls Trip!

Two weeks ago I bought a plane ticket, packed my suitcase and decided to set sail with my best girlfriend and Sorority Sister on my first Royal Caribbean Cruise to Key West and Nassau!

Why you ask? Why not? Ann Marie was on Winter Break from school, Adam was on-call and would be working late every night, so the two of us decided to take a little long weekend “Mardi Gras” themed Girls Getaway!

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DIY Surprise: All the staples you’d need on a Cruise for our Mardi Gras themed getaway! 

Samson spent the week at his Tonna and Buddy’s. Adam was wife and puppy free! Don’t let him fool you! He was loving “his” time while I was sailing the seas!

We flew Delta from ATL to FLL and used Uber to get us to the Miami Port. It’s so much cheaper flying into Fort Lauderdale than Miami and the Uber ride was less than $40 each way. We got to port around 10am and only waited about 20 minutes before we could get on our ship, The Empress of the Seas.

When on vacation it’s always cocktail time! We wasted no time finding a spot on the ship  to sit and sip while we waited for our room. IMG_5737.jpeg

Obviously, our room was the cutest on the entire ship! Laissez les bons temps rouler y’all! We were ready to let the good times roll on this girls getaway!

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We spent the day checking out the ship. EOTS is the oldest in the Royal Caribbean fleet. It is a smaller boat, but was nice to get the lay of the sea quickly. The main areas have recently been updated, but the rooms were very outdated.  We waved Bon Voyage to Miami and like the old women we are, went to bed before 8! {Hey now, getting up at 3am for a flight and traveling all day will do that to you! Besides we couldn’t wait to see what towel animal we got!}

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Day 2:

We docked in Key West on schedule. We had breakfast at the main buffet full of all sorts of options- you could be healthy if you want or load up on all the pastries. They had someone making omelets to order and were more than willing to help make my meal as Whole30 Compliant as possible. Afterwards we hopped off the boat and went to do a little site seeing. We visited Mallory Square to see the Kissing Couple and The Southern Most Point in the US. {Everything in Key West is the “Southern Most.” You’ll see it everywhere when you go.} IMG_5768.jpegIMG_5862.JPG

If you’ve not been to Key West before, Duval Street is the main street in town. It’s full of shopping, restaurants, night life, art galleries and touristy gimmicks like coconut water that I just had to have!

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Duval Street reminds me of New York City. It is the Street that doesn’t sleep! When you’re out and about shopping check out The Spice & Tea Exchange. It’s a franchise store, but each location has speciality teas and spices specific to their store. Since I starting getting into loose leaf teas in December, it has become a favorite store! This location has a Creme Brûlée tea you’ve got to try it! Oh-so good!

Everyone loves Kermit’s Key Lime Store. Pop in for a sample or a Key Lime Pie on a Stick! Everything in the store is made with Key Limes. They are proud of their products. There are a ton of touristy gift shops around town that sell similar items at a lower cost, just so you know! If you have time, pop into The Key West Rum Distillery. I was on a #Whole30 and didn’t do any sampling, but we did come home with a few surprises for the boys from here. They offer tours, tastings and all sorts of products. I will say the staff was not the friendliest, so be prepared! Just down from the Distillery is a great Lilly Pulitzer store and we all know how AM and I love our Lilly! Our favorite find {and where I did the most damage} in Key West was Antica Sartoria. Y’all this store is the cutest! We had the best customer service and such fun shopping in the store. They only have 4 locations and some of the most unique pieces. They are on the higher price end, but so worth it! You will not find another person with the same outfit as you! I got the most adorable *camo* top– LOVE! Holly in camo? Who would have thought?

After shopping and being tourists we headed back to the ship to work on our tan before sailing away to Nassau!IMG_5861.JPG

The Crew of Empress of the Seas is phenomenal. Yes or Yes? I know, I really don’t have another Cruise to compare it to, but in general compared to other hotels and experiences, they were great! Hugo, the Cruise Director, was full of life and personality. Always entertaining!

We did the My Time Dining and ended up having Milton and Wimbo as our servers in the main dining room. What a great team! They were so nice- my water glass was never empty and when we couldn’t decide which dessert we wanted to try, they brought them all to us! After supper we went to the nightly show before heading to bed for our big day in the Bahamas!

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Day 3:

We were at sea all day and arrived in Nassau that evening for a surprise overnight. All the crew that we spoke with suggested we stay on board the ship that night as Nassau can be a bit dangerous. If the boys were with us, we might have explored a bit, but since it was just us two we were just fie staying on the boat. Good call!

The nighttime entertainment was fantastic. Vegas Showman, Tony Tillman, is quite an entertainer! He came out in a sparkly suit and y’all the man sings, dances, tells jokes, he does it all! It is a show for all ages- even the kids. I’d go see him again! The second show was an adult comedian. He was hilarious! Definitely for the adult audience, but really funny! Both Adam and David would have liked him. Next time boys…

Day 4:

Nassau did not disappoint! We started the morning heading to the Queen’s Stairs in the Fort Fincastle Historic Complex in Nassau. Sixty-five stairs made of solid limestone rock around 1793 and provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to Nassau City. It is free to visit the area and is a quick walk from the port. (We walked along side others from the ship and felt relatively safe. You walk through neighborhoods and passed a hospital to get there.) The Fort itself is very small, but has some of the best views of the city you will find. It was about $3/person. The area is surrounded by local vendors and “tour guides” that tell you about the Fort for a donation.

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We walked by the Straw Market, but did not do much shopping there. Everything was the same and haggling with the vendors is just not fun. We headed to the Duty Free shops instead! The main street off the port is full of Duty Free stores like David Yurman, Kate Spade, Gucci, you name it and they probably have it. AM and I took full advantage of our shopping opportunities! We were just saving the boys money!

Our trip flew by! We had such a good time! We had one last meal in the main dining area with Wimbo and Milton. They save the best for last- Lobster tails were on the menu and were oh-so delicious! The boys took care of us bringing us out an extra…or two and even cut it out of the shell for us! We even got a little Dining entertainment with a dance from the staff.

Just like that we awoke to the Port of Miami. Getting off the boat and going through customs was a breeze. No line. No wait. It was a great experience. Finding the Uber pick-up location was a bit chaotic, but overall not bad. I would do it again!

I am missing the sun and the ocean breeze, aren’t you? Such a great time with a great friend and the most perfect weather for a little weekend getaway! Can not say enough great things about the Ship’s Staff and the cruising experience. Guess it is time to book our next trip! Maybe the boys will be invited this time!

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Are you an avid cruiser? Share your tips and tricks with us! We are foodies and I have to say I was a little disappointed in the food…it was just ok. Tell us your favorite cruise lines and why- we want all the details y’all!

Signing off for now! Time to pack up and get ready for our next trip…DISNEY! Tune in next Tuesday for a little Disney fun!

We hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlyed moments as much as we are!

Cheers!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds, not experts!

Monday’s Menu: Whole30 Bangers & Mash

Y’all this recipe is one of our absolute favorites! Adam has said multiple times he could eat it every day. It’s so delicious and left overs are even better!

We discovered the recipe during our first Whole30 from Melissa’s Whole30 book,  “The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide to Health and Food Freedom,”  and it has become a staple during (and after) our Whole30s.

You’re 29 days in! If you’ve not given it a try, tonight is the perfect night! Enjoy!

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Banger Sausage Patties with Sweet Potato Mash and Caramelized Onions

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For the Sausage (I like my sausage to be full of flavor and add more seasonings than the recipe calls. My notes are in parentheses.) 

1 pound ground pork
¼ teaspoon ground sage (1 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder (1 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon onion powder (3/4 teaspoon)
¹⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (1/4 teaspoon)
¹⁄8 teaspoon nutmeg (1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon salt
¹⁄8 teaspoon black pepper
Grated zest of 1 lemon

For the Mash

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large dice
4 tablespoon ghee or clarified butter
½ cup full-fat coconut milk
1 onion, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

PREPARE THE SAUSAGE: In a small mixing bowl, combine all the sausage seasonings.

 

In a large mixing bowl, mix up pork and add seasonings a little at a time. {TIP: If you have plastic gloves, they are great to use while you fold in the seasonings and form the patties so your hands don’t get icky.}

Form pork mixture into (about) 8 small patties. (I typically get about 6) Place on a plate and chill in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while starting the sweet potato mash. (I don’t always chill my patties and they turn out just fine.

COOK the sweet potatoes in the boiling water until fork tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee and coconut milk. Using a potato masher, immersion blender, or large kitchen fork, mash and mix the sweet potatoes with the ghee and coconut milk. (I add salat and pepper to the mash.) Cover the pot to keep warm and set aside.

REMOVE the sausage from the freezer and place on the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Bake the sausage patties in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, and no pink remains in the middle of the patty.

MEANWHILE, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of ghee in a large skillet over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. When the ghee is hot, add the onion and cook for 15 minutes, turning them periodically as they begin to brown and caramelize. (Do not rush this step—the browner the color, the more concentrated the flavor will be.)

TRANSFER the mashed sweet potatoes to the plate. Top with the pork and gently set the cartelized onions ontop of the pork. Enjoy!

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This recipe can easily be doubled- I actually recommend it so you have left overs for breakfast or lunch the next day! You can also pre-mix the seasoning mixture and save in little zip-lock bags or in mason jars so you already have it ready when you’re making this dish. It will just save you a little time!

If you make this dish- let us know what you think! What’s your favorite Whole30 Dish? Share them with us!

We hope you’re enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed (Whole30) moments as much as we are!

Cheers!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds, not experts!

Tuesday Travels: Last 20 something Hoorah!

San Francisco Birthday Celebration 

Surprise Birthday Party √

Panama City Birthday Beach Trip….and actually turning 30 √√

Yep, you guessed it! We packed our bags and hit the road again! Off to Panama City Beach, or “PCB” as the Spring Breakers like to call it. We’ve had a busy week or so of celebrating Adam turning the BIG 3-0, but all he really wanted to do, was fish. Deep Sea Fishing, that is.

So….. last Thursday we packed our suitcases one last time, dropped Samson off at his grandparents and hit the road!

3:45am wake up call on Friday was not so fun after rolling in to our hotel at 11pm, but the early bird catches the worm. Or I guess is the bait in this case! We had about an hour drive from PCB to Destin where we met Adam’s good friend,Brett, for our 6am fishing excursion.

Doesn't Adam look so cute in his new Fishermen Costume?
Doesn’t Adam look so cute in his new Fishermen Costume?
{For those of you who are just joining us…please take a minute and look back at our previous posts and pictures. Do I look like a “Fisher Woman?”}

The three of us and about 17 others hopped on the Gulf Breeze, our coolers full of ice cold beer for an 8 hour fishing tour. We made the limit of the amount of fish we caught for the day. Man! You should have seen some of those suckers! Huge fish! Huge fish I tell you…sounds like a pretty good Fisherman story, right?

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We really did limit out on Vermilion and Red Snapper within 3 hours of fishing. We came home with the two Snappers and an assortment of who knows what. It was a beautiful day for fishing, slight breeze in the air and the fish were biting which made it all the more fun. Yes, fun. I actually had a good time! (Shocker!)

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Friday night Adam and I had supper at a local, hole in the wall establishment, The Captain’s Table.

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Wow! We can not say enough wonderful things about this place. The fish is all caught locally and brought in every 3 days from a fishing boat the restaurant owns. There was about an hour+ wait for a table, but we lucked out and grabbed a spot at the bar. They have staff that has worked there for 20+ years- it was really an great experience and exceptional food. Everyone at the bar knew it was Adam’s birthday and kept buying us drinks to help celebrate! Such a fun night. We will go back to PCB just to eat there- we went back Saturday night too!

We shared a dozen raw oysters both nights. Adam had Horseradish Crusted Salmon on Friday and Grilled Grouper Throats on Saturday. (Yuck, I know, but surprisingly tasted like chicken.) The Horseradish dish is one of their most popular dishes- it wasn’t spicy like you’re probably imagining, but it was oh so delicious! Both Friday and Saturday I had their Red Snapper stuffed with Crab- so yummy and another one of their most popular dishes. We each got a side of coleslaw (very light and slightly sweet) and extra order of hushpuppies- they were great! My mouth is watering thinking about it!

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Saturday we grabbed Breakfast at The Cowgirl Kitchen in Seagrove. So yummy! Adam had the All American Stack – an open-faced biscuit, scrambled eggs, bacon and chorizo sausage gravy. I ate the Breakfast Sandwich- bacon, scrambled egg, sliced tomato, provolone, chipotle mayo on a kaiser roll. We both cheers to the day with a morning mimosa! The CK also has a “Grumpy Hour” from 8-9am with cocktail specials! Sounds fun, but we arrived too late to take part!

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We originally wanted to try The Donut Hole for breakfast, but the wait time both Saturday and Sunday was out the door! We hear it is great though!

Saturday night we met up with Brett and his wife, Jessica at the World Famous Tooties! Such a fun night dancing to country music! We can’t wait to swing by the Nashville location during our next trip! We actually ran into a former University of Michigan Football player while we were there. Adam was ecstatic! He has taught me well! Anytime I see someone with Michigan gear I shout “Go Blue!” Seemed to have paid off on this trip!

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Before we headed home on Sunday, we rented a pontoon boat from the Wyndham Bay Resort for a few hours to soak up a little more sun and give Adam a few extra hours to fish. The boat was fantastic! Great price, new boat and a fun way to end our trip.

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{Travel Trip: Book your boat in advance! During the busy season, they do book up!}

The 30th Celebration has finally come to an end! On to planning our next trip…..NASHVILLE, TN! If you have any favorite spots, places to eat, see or grab a drink, please share them with us!

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We hope you are enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re Newlyweds, not experts!

Throwback Thursday: Our “Charleston Dining List”

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We have had an overwhelming response of E-Mails and Messages from our last post, Tuesday Travels: Quaint Charleston. Everyone has been asking what exactly our “Charleston Dining List” consisted of.

So….here you go! If you are planning a trip to Charleston here is what we had on our list. Some were recommendations from our friends and family, others from blogs I follow, and through research of Mr. Googler himself, Adam.

Charleston:

Breakfast:

Caviar and Bananas: (also great for a Sandwich on-the-go. Thanks Sous Style for the recommendation!)

{Our hotel, The Elliott House Inn, offered Breakfast the others days.}

Lunch:

Husk: The BEST lunch we had during our trip. They are on the “Farm to Table” trend and their menu changes daily. Their Supper service books 6-8 weeks out. We got lucky with Lunch reservations- highly recommend getting a reservation otherwise you will be waiting hours! Definitely worth the wait!

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Fleets Landing: Our friend, Laurie, shared this gem with us! It is the only restaurant in Charleston directly over the water.  Their stuffed hushpuppies are to-die-for y’all. We also had oysters- they were good, but not as good as other restaurants we went to.

Happy Hour:

Amen Street (Fish&Raw Bar): Some of the BEST oysters in both size and taste we had ever had. They had fantastic prices on oysters, cocktails and other small apps. They shuck the Oysters right at the bar- so fun to watch! (Make sure to sit at the Bar- they don’t advertise the Happy Hour and it is only at the bar between 4-7pm weekdays)

The Social: We just got cocktails, but they were great! Hand-crafted toddies are the best!

Supper:

Pearlz: By far our FAVORITE spot we found on our trip. Everything was delicious. Their oysters were great- and the cheapest (for the size) we found in downtown Charleston. They serve their oysters with a red/white vinegar -onion sauce- so tasty! We loved it so much we tried to go back for their Happy Hour, but it was a 1.5 hour wait! (Also 4-7pm weekdays)

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Mellow Mushroom: Most of y’all have probably either heard of or been to a Mellow Mushroom, but it is our favorite pizza spot. Now, don’t get me wrong, pizza was not on our “List,” but with me getting sick we loved the idea of delivery- and this Mellow delivers! Yay! If you have not been- you’ve got to try their homemade pretzels and beer cheese sauce- yum-o!

Since I got sick, our trip was cut rather short. These are places still on our “Charleston Dining List,” let us know if you try any of them!

{We’ve heard it is best to get reservations for the most of the places listed below.}
  • Poogan’s Porch (Brunch/Lunch/Supper)
  • Hominy Grill (Breakfast/Brunch)
  • Sewee Resturant (Lunch/Supper) *in Mt. Pleasant
  • The Ordinary (Lunch/Supper)
  • High Cotton (Supper)
  • 82 Queen (Supper/Happy Hour)
  • Magnolias

The only place we went to that we would not recommend would be Carmella’s. It is a super cute Dessert Bar, but the service is horrible. We went in early in the evening- maybe 10 other people in the entire restaurant. We sat at the bar and waited…and waited…and waited for over 10 minutes and never received service- AT the bar! So, we walked out and others followed us!

Please be sure to share with us your favorite spots in Charleston-or if you try any of the spots on our list. We will definitely be making a trip back in the near future!

Hope you are enjoying your Newly Newlywed or Nearly Newlywed moments as much as we are!

Cheers!

Adam & Holly

PS: Remember, we’re newlyweds, not experts!