Austin Top 10

When I had the chance to go to Austin for work, I scooped it up immediately. I had been wanting to go to Texas (and Austin particularly) for quite some time, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Taylor Kitsch stills lives there after shooting my favourite show in the entire world, Friday Night Lights. Impossible celebrity sightings aside, this trip was one for the books. I absolutely LOVED Austin and am finding any excuse to go back. I did a ton of research before I went (Camille Styles’ restaurant guide was a lifesaver) and I think I did a great job of packing everything into the four days I was there.

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Every morning, I would walk down from the JW Marriott (great location, pretty corporate but still lots of fun people there) and head to Jo’s Coffee for one of the best lattes I’ve ever had. I paired it with their yogurt and fruit because I try to keep it light when I’m travelling and know I’ll be indulging for dinner.

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Another amazing spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner is Elizabeth St. Café. They have incredible croissants (some of the best I’ve ever had) and apparently amazing Vietnamese food. I was just on my way to dinner so I ONLY (note the sarcasm) had a chocolate croissant. I sat on the patio and people watched and had so much fun. Such a cute spot.

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One of the coolest parts of Austin is that they repurpose old buildings and make them fresh and new again. Launderette used to be an old Laundromat and is now an incredible restaurant with tons of veggie dishes and one of the best desserts I’ve ever had, the birthday cake ice cream sandwich (local Austinites: run, don’t walk). My other favourite dish was the Burrata. I drank a nice Côtes du Rhône to go with my meal (mainly veggies).

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The star of the trip (if I can only pick one) had to be Uchi. If you told me I was going to go to Texas and eat mostly seafood, I would tell you to give your head a shake. What about tex mex? Steak? Not in this restaurant. Uchi was by far the best Japanese food I’ve ever had. What was even more fun was sitting at the bar alone, watching the sushi chefs make my food, and talking to them about all of the exotic ingredients. It’s amazing what can happen if you go out of your comfort zone and sit alone at a busy bar in a restaurant. To my right was a Vietnam war vet who then went on to a career in banking and is now retired. I never would have found that out if I was on a date at a table.

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As much as I loved Uchi, nothing was quite as amazing as Josephine House. Perched on a little corner in the middle of a gorgeous residential neighbourhood, this spot oozed charm and elegance. I mean, just look at the interior decor! It’s a farmhouse lovers’ dream!! I was so happy when I found one of my favourite Oregonian wineries, Soter, had their rosé on the menu. If it wasn’t a match made in heaven, I don’t know what is! Put this at the top of your list.

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If you are obsessed with food and want to spend a morning among the highest quality, most delicious and well-merchandised food, go to Whole Foods Austin. As I mentioned on my Snapchat (sophiecaldwellc), this is the mecca of Whole Foods. The office is upstairs, it takes up a whole city block, and is absolutely stunning. I bought tons of snacks for the way home and only wished I could take home some of these beautiful roses (these were only a portion of what greeted you upon entering).

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If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I love to try new workouts (especially spin). Luckily for me, my cousin’s step sister Carly is an amazing spin instructor at RIDE. It was harder than Soul Cycle, but equally as fun. I got an incredible workout and I wish I could take her class everyday!! She even played Justin Bieber for me. Again, reasons I need to go back to Austin.

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I may have been the only person that didn’t know this, but Austin is the capital of Texas. I was only 15 minutes walking distance from the State Capitol, so the first thing I did when I landed was put on my running shoes and go outside to go for a quick run and see it as dusk. I couldn’t have run inside faster (it was 0 degrees) to get my coat and actually walk. It was absolutely freezing but so worth it. Such a beautiful building with so much history.

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You didn’t think I would write a whole blog post about Austin without talking about some Mexican food did you? I was so lucky that La Condesa was just down the street from my hotel. I had the most delicious, tropical inspired margarita filled with fresh pineapple juice in addition to lime juice, and rimmed with cactus-lemongrass salt. I need to recreate it! For dinner I had hamachi ceviche with habanero truffle oil (whattttt). Such a unique combination of flavours that I never could have imagined. Then I had the cochinitas tacos and Mexican street corn (my first time!) I rolled myself back to the hotel and went to bed.

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I can’t talk about Austin without mentioning my new found love for Outdoor Voices. Guys, this workout stuff is amazing. The founder, Ty Haney, started the line a couple of years ago with the intent that “Doing Things” just becomes a part of your day to day life. It’s for active people that aren’t defined by being active (kind of refreshing, isn’t it?) I bought these leggings and this crop top and have since worn both a total of about 20 times since. If you’re there, make sure to check out the store, because in true Austin style, it’s set up in a cute little house surrounded by fun shops and amazing restaurants.

#TexasForever

Maui Top 10

There is no denying that Maui has some incredible food. From farmer’s markets to açai bowls to high end restaurants, there is no shortage of delicious offerings. Having gone there for the last few years, I have tested lots of restaurants and I wanted to share! If you’re planning a trip, feel free to reach out to me for more info! All pictures by me (some from my instagram account)

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I’m going to start with my favourite spot on the island, Ka’Ana Kitchen. I’m not lying when I tell you I have never had a bad dish or drink here. The food is fresh, local and inventive. Have you ever heard of a restaurant putting seared ahi tuna with burrata? Neither had I…but it’s amazing. Those little green cubes? Fresh passion fruit jelly. I mean REALLY?? So good.

Another favourite for food and drinks is Mama’s Fish House. Their mai tai is strong, and served in the cutest tiki glasses. Beyond that, their fish is fresh and absolutely delicious. They basically have every single type of seafood on the menu, served any way you could imagine (curried, seared, raw, grilled). You can’t go wrong. The restaurant is located in a local inn in Pa’ia and the beach above is right out front. It’s gorgeous. If you follow me on snapchat (sophiecaldwellc) you will see how obsessed I am with the amazing flower arrangements they have (I’ve posted one above).

A new discovery on this past trip was local favourite Kihei Caffe. The line is long, but it goes by fast, and it’s so fun to sit with the local Maui residents on the roadside in Kihei while the sun is coming up. I ordered the Macadamia nut and banana french toast and Peter had the breakfast burrito. Both were amazing. We each sipped one of their blended coffee drinks and we proceeded to roll down the beach home. You can’t miss this place.

 

Another Pa’ia favourite is Flatbread Company right on the main drag. Their pizzas are delish (and a nice welcome from the light tropical fish-based foods), but their salads are the best. If you go, add pulled pork to your salad and thank me later. (Yes, that is a double decker pizza serving plate)

While many of the roadside fruitstands are pretty overpriced, I really enjoy pulling over and getting some local fruit from the farmers. This one was near Jaws Beach when we went to see the surfers surfing 50 ft waves (they were 20 ft max, and there were no surfers)…But, we got papaya! There is a great farmer’s market in Kihei that has the same vibe, and way better prices.

BRUNCH! Because what is better than eating at a buffet before spending the day in a bikini? I’m not usually a breakfast person but DUO the Four Seasons Resort Maui has the best (that is bolded, underlined, and italicized for a reason) pancakes and waffles. See exhibit A above (banana chocolate chip). They have everything from the most amazing fresh omelettes, to lox and bagels, to polynesian dishes, to PANCAKES (have the pancakes). While I’m at it, the guava margarita at the lobby lounge is to die for.

One of my favourite spots on the whole island is the Andaz hotel, but specifically the Lehua Lounge. The piña coladas are so fresh and delicious, along with every other drink on the menu. The best part is that you get to pretend you’re staying there while you sip your drink poolside.

Another recent discovery, I went to Wow Wow Lemonade when the coffee shop beside our place ran out of their açai bowls. Boy, am I glad they did. This menu was insane! Each bowl had at least 10 ingredients, and they make fresh lemonade right in the store. I wish I could have one of these every morning.

What you see above is the best, freshest, healthiest fish taco you will ever find. Coconut’s Fish Cafe consistently has a line out the door, and for good reason. Their fish tacos are made with 17 ingredients, with everything made in house. Split an order of the fish tacos and coconut shrimp, and then go back the next day and do the same thing.

Lastly, if you do one thing while you’re on Maui, watch the sunset (I like to watch the sunrise too). There is nothing more calming then listening to the waves and watching the sun go down at the end of a day in the water or around the pool.

Can I go back now?

2016 Goals

5acec83accbe8d77e112c724e3db7ed9If there was a typical goal-setting person, I would be it. In fact, setting goals is one of my favourite things, and I often feel lost if I’m not working towards anything. 

I’ve heard that if you say your goals aloud, you’re much more likely to follow through with them, so I thought I would post them here! I’d love to hear yours too!

Sophie’s 2016 Goals

  • Write one blog post per week // I really fell behind on my blog this year and I realized how much I miss writing. I hope you enjoy this returned passion and dedication to my blog! I have a feeling it’ll be more than once a week but I thought I’d set a goal I knew I could achieve.
  • 30 minutes of French per week before Paris // we’re going to Paris in July! I’m absolutely ecstatic (hello – need to save for my wedding shoes!!!) but I also remember wishing I had practiced French more before our last trip, so I’ll be practicing a little bit every week using my favourite language app, Duolingo.
  • 5-6 workouts per week // I know this may seem crazy but this goal is much more for my overall well being than actual fitness (although that’s a pretty big benefit). The bottom line is that I simply feel better when I’ve worked out. So I’m going to stick with ClassPass (there just isn’t a better deal) and keep my workouts going! My favourite workouts in Vancouver (that are on ClassPass) are: Kondi, Cadence Cycling, Movement 108, Westcoast Hot Yoga and Oxygen Yoga & Fitness. I’m also thinking about making the leap and joining one studio because I really miss having a consistent workout community. 
  • Put time aside to think about my career // it’s easy to go through the days when your work in a corporate job. I’ve really been enjoying my work but I also know I want to be mindful of how I want my career to progress in the next few years. If I put some time aside to put my thinking cap on, I think it will be a lot easier to stay on track.

Overall, I want to LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND ENJOY IT ALL // I’m getting married this year. Just saying that out loud gives me butterflies! This is the year I have been looking forward to for a long time and I really want to enjoy every moment.

What are some of your goals for 2016?

2015 Recap


Every year I reflect upon everything that happened in the past 12 months. Every year, I am grateful and amazed and I always wonder how the next year will ever be able to top it.

This year was no exception. It was by far the best year of my life to date. We moved into our new home, we got engaged (best day ever), I did some really fun shoots and was published on one of my favourite entertaining sites, I entertained more than ever, I travelled to some amazing places, and I worked a ton, and took my career to the next level, taking on some really interesting clients. It was a great year.

Last night, we watched the sunset  and set some intentions for 2016. I can’t wait to share them tomorrow, but for now enjoy your day off and Happy New Year!

Best of BC Wine Country – Kelowna

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The sparkling 130km long Lake Okanagan, rollings hills lined with grapevines that are grown in soil of mainly silt with sand and clay, and liquid gold in a glass (aka WINE). What more could you want from a 3-day vacation? I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things in the world to do is taste wine. There is something so magical about listening to a winemaker tell his/her story while sipping on the very wine they have made with their own two hands. Not to mention, drinking wine is fun (obviously!)

I was lucky enough to go to Kelowna with Peter, my best friend Gill, and her husband Adam. On Saturday morning, bright and early (10AM) we were picked up by Matt of Experience Wine Tours. Let me tell you, I will never in my life do a wine tour on my own again. Matt’s knowledge (all of his guides have sommelier training), combined with his knack for finding the best croissant I’ve ever had in my life (only available on Saturday from Okanagan Grocery) made for an incredible 5 hour tour of the best spots in Kelowna.

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Our first stop of the day was Cedar CreekPurchased by Mission Hill, it’s soil is clay based which is perfect for Riesling. As you can see by the incredible view, Cedar Creek is super close to the lake and therefore does not have to worry about frost. We were told upon arrival that this year has been the best yet and boy do I believe it.

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Our tasting consisted of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir Rosé, Ehrenfelser and Meritage. I had never heard of Ehrenfelser, but absolutely loved it and brought it home with me! Having won many awards, it has notes of tropical fruit but is much more acidic and pungent on the taste, making it very easy to drink. The Riesling was also fabulous. It had lime on the nose and was balanced with nice acidity. I would pair it with a dijon marinated salmon.

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Next up, just down the road, was St. Hubertus. It felt like a small farm off the highway in Provence. With a tasting room set up to encourage a quick taste and purchase, it was a perfect pit stop. My favourite wine from here was the Pinot Blanc – and at $14.95 it was a no brainer to bring home a few bottles! I served it with Spanish tapas at my last dinner party and it was a hit.

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I have to say that my favourite spot of the day had to be Tantalus. Tantalus has a LEED-certified tasting facility, gorgeous vineyards, and a serious art collection. The building was cutting edge and seeing their art brought a different twist into the day. The stand out wine here was the Riesling Lab for me. I bought one bottle but when I brought it home and had my first sip, I wished I had bought two cases (I will be doing that shortly). What they mean by “Lab” is that the winemaker can experiment a little bit. The French oak barrels that this wine ages in adds a serious punch of flavour and texture. Drinkable on it’s own, I’d also pair it with an aged gouda and honey crostini (YUM).

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Matt and I clinking glasses to celebrate finding my favourite spot of the day at Tantalus among the vines!

From LEED-certifid Tantalus to rock’n’rolling winery The Hatch. This place was seriously cool and reminded me of our time at Scribe in Sonoma.

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The tasting room was playing Snoop Dogg (umm, already obsessed!) and we sat outside while Matt put together this incredible artisanal charcuterie and cheese plate. When Matt and his wife were in Napa, they put together a similar spread for themselves when they were wine tasting and decided that they needed to recreate it for their tour groups. Boy am I glad they did! Everything you see is local – the meats range from Ukranian-style ham sausage to cured links and chorizo. The cheese was Triple Island gouda, and Alpindon Parm. Top it off local tree cherries, ground cherries (these are the small things on the platter that look like mini tomatillos) and you have yourself a wine tasting meal!

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My favourite wine at The Hatch was the Sauvignon Blanc. It was zippy enough for oysters, with notes of Apricot, citrus, and green apple. The best part of the The Hatch, though, was the demeanour of not taking themselves too seriously and the funky labels. It’s definitely not a spot you want to miss.

Last but not least, the beautiful Quail’s Gate. I mean, do you even need to taste wine with this amazing view? Don’t answer that. 

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We snapped a few pics to go through the “proper” process of tasting a wine. First, you’re going to want to smell it. I usually close my eyes, shove my nose in the glass and take a GOOD whiff. Next, take a sip, but don’t swallow it. You’ll want to get some air in your mouth and swish it around. Last up, swallow (or spit if you have a lot of wineries to check out) and smile! It’s that simple. People always tell me they get super intimidated wine tasting, but it’s just about finding what you like. The best wineries will be helpful and anything but snooty, and we definitely experienced that during our visit to BC wine country!

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It’s easy to recreate this day, but I would highly suggest hiring Experience Wine Tours. They know what you should taste, and you don’t have to drive (double positive). If you want to have the same experience we did this weekend, check out the contest below!

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CONTEST DETAILS:

The BC Wine Institute is running a BC VQA Pour & Pair Instagram and Twitter Contest from today until December 31, 2015 giving away a fabulous five day/ four nights wine tour for you and a friend to explore the world of BC VQA Wines.

How to enter:
Two easy steps:
1) Take a photo of your favourite BC VQA wine including the label on the bottle paired with food
2) Post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #BCVQAPourandPair

Prize Details:

TRAVEL in style with private car service, float plane ride and guided wine tours.
STAY in a luxurious winery villa, lakefront hotel and an acclaimed bed & breakfast throughout BC.
SIP some of the finest wine BC has to offer and learn about wine directly from the winemakers.

The 5 day tour includes:
Day 1: Island-Hopping Wine Tour on Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands.
Day 2: The Great Estates Okanagan Valley Wine Tour.
Day 3: South Okanagan Valley Floatplane Wine Tour.
Day 4: Similkameen Valley River Float Wine Tour.
Day 5: Lake Country Stand-Up Paddle Board Wine Tour.

Get instagramming! And make sure to tag me so I can see what you’re up to (@sophieccollins)

Thanks for following along our amazing trip!

Cornucopia: Best Argentine Wines

Last year I was lucky enough to go to Argentina and Chile with my business school. We learned lots about the South American economy and doing business in both of those countries. In our off time, we got to spend time enjoying the local culture through cooking classes and of course, wine tasting!

This past weekend at Cornucopia, I attended what was to be one of my favourite seminars of the weekend, Argentina: Malbec is Only the Beginning. Every flavour, sip and swirl reminded me of being back in South America with my classmates! There is something so nolstagic about smelling and tasting a familiar wine, it brings you right back to the first place you tried it, and the people you were with.

Without further ado, here are my top 5 favourite Argentine wines from that tasting (hosted by the hilarious and smart House Wine girls).

Bodega Vistalba Corte C Malbec Cabernet Sauvignon

This was my favourite wine from the tasting. It has beautiful spice notes on the nose and was brand new to me. I will definitely be picking up a few bottles of this. When I was in Argentina, all I had was Malbec and Torrontes so knowing you can get a good Cab shows the versatility of this growing wine region.

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Dominio Del Plata Crios Torrontes 

I’ve wrote about this wine before, and I will continue to unless it ever changes. It’s a beautiful, inexpensive wine that pairs as well with grilled fish as it does with a sunny patio. Smells sweet, tastes dry. Unbeatable at this price and I always reach for it.

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La Mascota Mendoza Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Who knew – another Cab! This wine is very subtle and smooth. There are not a ton of tannins, yet it is firm. The minerality in this wine really shines through and it has great balance. I would pair this with grilled pork sausage.

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Bodega Atamisque Catalpa Single Vineyard Pinot Noir 2011

This bottle is as beautiful as the wine inside it. The wine has a fragrant nose filled with red juicy fruit. The taste is high in acidity, meaning your mouth waters when you taste it. This is due to the diurnal temperature, meaning the temperature dips quite low at night, allowing the grapes to retain acidity. It has a dry herb flavour.

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Bodega El Esteco Don David Reserve Malbec 2011

How is this wine $13.99?? I’m a huge fan of this label and glad I got to try their Malbec as I usually stick with their Cab. It has ripe fruit flavours and would be great with steak (as well as before dinner as it’s very easy drinking).

156455Did I miss any of your favourite wines from Argentina? Do tell!