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Oia Village Santorini Greece Cliffs II | Umami Girl

It’s no secret that the Greek island of Santorini is one of the more beautiful places in the known universe. The whites, the blues, the cliffs, the caldera! It’s almost too much. At the top of Santorini’s curated gorgeousness spectrum is the village of Oia, nestled into the island’s northwestern coast. On the upside, this place is profoundly beautiful. On the downside, everybody knows it — so you’ll basically be tripping over brides and aspiring models and selfie sticks with every step. (Although I guess if you’re not a 39-year-old married mom, these could be features, too.)  

I’ve divided this post into sections since there are a lot of photos. You can explore Oia Village immediately below, as well as Oia Town (the more “real” part of Oia, where people live). You can check out family vacation photos of us messing around at the beautiful villa we rented. Or you can skip straight to the short list of resources at the end of the post. Have fun!  (more…)

Coconut Spiced Lentils | Umami GirlHere’s a nice simple post about a nice simple meal for you on this Monday morning. These red lentils with coconut milk and warming spices only came about because one evening I didn’t have all the ingredients for Ottolenghi’s red lentils, which you need to know about too. But I did have a few of the ingredients and a can of coconut milk, and it turns out that’s all it took. I’m glad it worked out that way, because you can never have enough ways to make red lentils. Compared to other legumes, they cook up so quickly it’s almost magical. And they make great, delicious comfort food that’s good for you as a mere bonus.

On a totally different note, as this post arrives we are on our way to the Canadian Rockies for two weeks. We’ll explore Calgary with friends, then do some hiking, lake-ogling and hopefully minimal bear sighting in Banff National Park, and end with a few days walking and eating Vancouver. It couldn’t be a more beautiful place, so please follow along on Instagram if you like. I plan to take an obscene number of photos (but zero obscene photos), and I’ll put together some detailed posts about our experiences and recommendations when we’re back.

Have a great start to the week. See you soon.
Carolyn xx

P.S. Links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something I’ll earn a small percentage of the sale. That helps keep Umami Girl bringing you gestalt and pepper as often as possible. Thanks for your support!

{GET THE RECIPE for Red Lentils with Coconut Milk and Warming Spices.}

Proud Yankee Corn Bread Muffins | Umami GirlThis is a food blog, and that designation comes with certain expectations about what we will and what we won’t cover here. Recipes, yes. Politics, no. But it’s a food blog in an election year (astoundingly, this is Umami Girl’s THIRD election year — hey hey, old timer), and I’m just going to take one moment to say that I have never been surer or gladder to hold the views that I hold. And while it’s not a perfect match, today I’m choosing to express those views in the culinary form of Proud Yankee Cornbread Muffins. Take from it what you will — a recipe, a regard for human rights, a vote against Voldemort. It’s up to you. Either way, there will be Yankee cornbread muffins on the table.

Proud Yankee Corn Bread Muffins | Umami Girl

Cornbread divides into two basic varieties. Southern cornbread is completely unsweetened and made from cornmeal with no flour added. It’s often cooked in cast iron greased with bacon fat, and it’s great straight out of the oven but doesn’t stay fresh for long. Northern cornbread (also called Yankee cornbread sometimes) is made from a mix of cornmeal and flour and often has a few tablespoons of sugar to sweeten it up just a touch. It’s more tender and will last a day or two wrapped up on the counter. Many an American residing south of the Mason-Dixon line may scoff at Yankee cornbread, just as, in turn, I might scoff at the enormous and cloying corn muffins found at certain coffee shops and hotel breakfast buffets. To each her own. I’m declaring for Yankee cornbread muffins. Just putting that out there.

The best part about these Yankee cornbread muffins is that they could play a convincing role in any meal. Breakfast? Slather on the butter and jam or honey, fry up an egg, and go for it. Dinner? Make some vegetarian chili and pop a Yankee cornbread muffin on the rim of the bowl. Lunch? Leftover chili! Or black bean soup. And dessert? I can see these working beautifully as an alternative to a biscuit in strawberry shortcake. What else? Snack? Toss a muffin in the vicinity of your face and see what happens. (Wait, why does that sound even worse than it should?)

Okay! I think we’re done here. Umami Girl out. See you soon.

Carolyn xx

{GET THE YANKEE CORNBREAD MUFFINS RECIPE.}

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlIn June we had the chance to skip out on school for a few days and travel to my oldest friend’s very wonderful Colorado wedding. The big day itself took place at my new favorite wedding venue, Planet Bluegrass in Lyons. Much to my mom’s chagrin, I’ve largely left the chronicling of the bride and groom and family to the pros they hired, and if you peek at their Instagrams of the big day I think you’ll see exactly why.

Throughout the weekend, everyone stayed in nearby Estes Park, a half-hour drive from Lyons up into the mountains. And for a few hours one afternoon, we piddled around in Boulder, because we’d somehow never been. Here are a few notes from each of those destinations. You’re welcome to browse through the text and photos or head straight to the recommendations at the end of the post.

The Stanley Hotel, Estes Park

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlEstes Park has a wide variety of accommodations, but (as seems to be the theme of recent travel posts) we opted for what we thought would be the most memorable — if possibly also the most expensive — choice. The Stanley Hotel has both history and reported paranormal behavior to spare. It was Stephen King’s inspiration for The Shining. We didn’t really mingle with the ghosts…to my knowledge. But we did enjoy the grounds, the fabulous porch and the stately yet relaxed interiors.

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlThe Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlThe Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlThe Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami Girl

I did briefly think I saw a ghost in the big mirror in the photo below, but in an alternative scenario it’s the top of the bride’s head. You be the judge.

The Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlThe Stanley Hotel Estes Park Colorado | Umami Girl

Planet Bluegrass, Lyons

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlI can’t say enough about Planet Bluegrass as a wedding destination, so I think instead I’ll say hardly anything and let these iPhone photos speak for themselves. Here’s a quick pre-ceremony jaunt around the premises and a handful of increasingly blurry reception snapshots. Come ON, am I right?

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

Oh hey! Streaky mirror selfie.

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

My babies arriving, looking nothing like babies.

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

A glimpse of the bride with her mama and sisters.

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami GirlWedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

See what I mean? A perfect event.

Wedding at Planet Bluegrass Lyons Colorado | Umami Girl

Boulder County Farmers Market, Boulder

For detailed information on the Boulder and Estes Park venues to follow, scroll down to the recommendations section at the end of the post.

Boulder Farmers' Market Colorado | Umami Girl

Boulder Farmers' Market Boulder Colorado | Umami Girl

Fior di Latte, Boulder

Fior di Latte Boulder Colorado | Umami GirlFior di Latte Boulder Colorado | Umami Girl

Pearl Street Mall, BoulderPearl Street Mall Boulder Colorado | Umami GirlPearl Street Mall Boulder Colorado | Umami Girl

Boulder Creek Path, BoulderBoulder Creek Path Boulder Colorado | Umami Girl

The Barrel, Estes ParkBarrel Wine Bar Estes Park Colorado | Umami GirlBarrel Wine Bar Estes Park Colorado | Umami Girl

Kind Coffee, Estes Park

Estes Park Colorado | Umami Girl
Okay, so I didn’t get any actual photos of Kind Coffee. But here’s the creek that runs directly behind it. I’d pay them a visit for the creek alone. The coffee is just a bonus. (A desperately needed bonus, to be sure.)

 

WHERE TO EAT, STAY AND PLAY IN ESTES PARK, LYONS AND BOULDER, COLORADO

 

ESTES PARK

Stay: The Stanley Hotel. A stately but relaxed hotel that is both one of America’s most historic and one of its most haunted. This is where Stephen King drew inspiration for The Shining. You can book ghost tours if you’re into that sort of thing, but we didn’t think our kids would be, so we ignored it and sat on the beautiful veranda instead. Nice grounds and a stunning location adjacent to Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Eat

  • Kind Coffee: Sweet and homey with a slightly funky edge. (They sell gently snarky things in the gift shop, and I wanted all of them.) Responsibly sourced coffee and some decent breakfast food. We went there every morning. 
  • The Barrel: A terrific beer garden with a mountain view. Huge beer selection including lots of local choices, and truly the most laid-back vibe. You can order dinner delivery from any other local restaurant and sit there all night if you like.
  • Twin Owls Steakhouse: Steakhouse! Surprise! The couple had the rehearsal dinner at this cozy restaurant with a lodge vibe. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious. (No steak, but I did spontaneously let the littlest Cope try bacon for the first time in her memory, not sure why.) It rained hella hard — hailed, even! — while we were there. (Is Colorado close enough to northern California to use this term? It is not.) We enjoyed our warm fireside vantage point.

Play: Rocky Mountain National Park. But don’t take my word for it. (Because we didn’t go. Ahem.) We only had one free afternoon, and we chose to drive to Boulder instead. Pretty much everyone else in our group played in the park, though, and loved it.

BOULDER

Eat

  • Boulder County Farmers’ Market: In Boulder on Wednesdays and Saturdays. We went on a Saturday. Probably one of my Top-10 Farmers’ Markets, with producer-only stands. Everything from coffee and kombucha on tap to extremely delicious turnip samples. What more is there in the world?
  • Fior di Latte Gelato: You know we need a gelato place wherever we go. Fior di Latte had maybe my favorite salted caramel flavor ever. Which is a good thing, because I asked for two flavors in a small cup and they said NO and didn’t seem sorry. Real talk: I got grouchy and took it out on my family. Still, delicious. 

Play

  • Pearl Street Mall: Let’s just say that after growing up in central NJ in a town where a giant shopping mall was built just in time for my tween years, I’ve spent a lot of time in malls. So much so that for the past 20-plus years, the mere word makes me shiver and run screaming. Pearl Street Mall is different. In London it would be called a High Street. But I guess Pearl Street High Street didn’t work out. A nice, bustling area with a combination of local and chain stores. I wouldn’t spend eons here, but I’m glad we checked it out.
  • Boulder Creek Path: A just-right walk along the Boulder Creek. Plenty of shade in spots. We ogled some kayaking hijinks, met some dogs, and people-watched. 

LYONS

Play: Planet Bluegrass. Honestly? Just go ahead and get married here. Already married? Renew your vows. Not interested in getting married? Maybe just be a killer single lady and register the shit out of whatever website you like and throw a big party here. What a great wedding venue. Or, you know, come for a music festival. I hear they do that too. 

Colorado Wedding Vendors

So…the bride and groom are in Bhutan right now. When they’re back, I’ll include a full list of the vendors they used. In the meantime:

Cool? Cool.

See you soon.

Carolyn xx

LIKE TO TRAVEL? YOU’LL LOVE THESE POSTS:

Simple Coleslaw Recipe from Alice Waters | Umami Girl

We spent the weekend visiting the kinds of friends who always introduce me to something new to love. It’s rarely anything enormous, and our tastes are similar enough that it’s often something I could have found in my own home with a little more effort and attention. In other words, it’s basically perfection. The latest episode of this reality show is brought to you by the easy, breezy coleslaw recipe from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food, which Amazon reminds me I purchased in December of 2009. It’s not the kind of cookbook that just sits on the shelf, either. I pick it up regularly, whether to follow a recipe or to glean a bit of inspiration or reassurance. Still, I’m not at all sure I’d have discovered this coleslaw on my own. Yay for friends and cabbage, am I right? 

Hiking the Wissahickon | Umami GirlSpeaking of cabbages, here are our own petits choux skipping rocks during a Sunday morning hike along Pennsylvania’s Wissahickon Creek. This is such a gorgeous place for gentle hiking or for doing the kind of trail running and biking that would swiftly land me in the reconstructive dentist’s chair. Edgar Allan Poe was a fan of the Wissahickon, and I feel like he could have used that scenario as the basis of an excellent story. If only we’d known each other when. Alas. Missed connections.

Skipping Rocks on the Wissahickon | Umami GirlWell that was nice, wasn’t it? But maybe you’re here for a different kind of petit chou — the kind that gets sliced into thin ribbons and made into a dreamily simple coleslaw recipe from Alice Waters. (Just one more thing, though: my high school French teacher was all about this whole petit chou = little cabbage = term of endearment situation, but now I hear, somewhat disappointingly for a Crisper Whisperer, that choux in this case actually refers to those little French cream puffs. Whatever, I’m sticking with cabbage, but I thought I’d set the record straight. Onward.)

This simple coleslaw recipe from Alice Waters has four ingredients plus salt and pepper, takes 15 minutes to assemble even if you’re chatting and sipping wine while you work, and sports just the right amount of flavor to keep things fresh and interesting while pairing well with basically everything you’d want to eat during the summer. You could absolutely jazz it up with a huge handful of chopped herbs or some additional shredded vegetables (carrot, red cabbage, celery root, you name it), but honestly, it’s perfect the way it is. Hope you love it. See you soon.

Simple Coleslaw Recipe from Alice Waters | Umami Girl

Carolyn xx

P.S. Links to Amazon in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy something, I’ll earn a small commission to help keep Umami Girl bringing you gestalt and pepper on the regular. Thanks, as always, for your support.

UPDATE: I made a video! Here’s how to teach a cabbage who’s boss (and wrangle it into shreds for coleslaw). Related: I made a YouTube channel! It’s brand new. For the lurve of gurd, would you please SUBSCRIBE to it? It’s not easy being green. :) Thank you!

 

{GET THE RECIPE FOR SIMPLE COLESLAW FROM ALICE WATERS.}

WELCOME TO UMAMI GIRL!

Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I'm delighted you're here. I'm a NYC-area food, travel, yoga, coffee, wine, running, music making and book obsessive with a great family and a love for sharing it all with you. Grab a drink and come on in. Learn more.

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