Our Favorite Meal in Costa Rica: Gallo Rojo, Escazu, Costa Rica

Whether it was COVID related, that we didn’t know what to order, or that it was the holidays, we did not have the best food on our trip to San Jose and La Fortuna, Costa Rica (someone tell me where to go next time!). But, we did have an absolutely fabulous dinner on my birthday at a restaurant in Escazu called Gallo Rojo, or the Red Rooster.

Gallo Rojo.

Gallo Rojo is a casual eatery with indoor and outdoor seating, although even indoor is “open air” in the Western neighborhood of Escazu. There is parking on site, but we took an Uber from our hotel, the Sheraton San Jose. We had made a reservation in advance via messaging the restaurant on Instagram, one of my favorite ways to make restaurant reservations in foreign countries where I don’t speak the language! Luckily our reservation was all set and we were seated at a lovely table outside.

The menu at Gallo Rojo is a mix of Costa Rican and Asian dishes, and it was all excellent. And before you think that’s really strange, the owner’s father is Costa Rican and his mother is Tiawanese, so he knows both cuisines very well. He also studied in Argentina and Los Angeles and has worked at known restaurants world wide. Its no surprise that this place is good. The food is also shareable, so Dan and I split a few dishes over the course of the evening.

Fried chicken Bao bun.

Now, for the good stuff! Dan and I started our dinner with the house sangria. The sangria was very good and not at all sweet, which is just how we like it.

Birthday Sangria!

Thereafter, we ordered several dishes, our favorites of which were the civiche, the dumplings, and pork belly and fried chicken Bao buns! My very favorite was the fried chicken Bao bun. It was just really, really tasty!

Pork dumplings.

Pork Belly Bao bun.

Ceviche.

Fried Bao bun numero dos.

Our favorite part of the meal, however, was our drive home. Unknown to us, San Jose imposed a 9 PM curfew between Christmas and New Years, during which time Uber cannot operate. Well, we just missed the Uber deadline and taxis were no where to be found. Luckily, the owner drove us home to the Sheraton Escazu! Now that is birthday service!!

STEAL OUR DINNER

ON A BUDGET

While cheaper food can certainly be found in Escazu (and even more so in San Jose proper), Gallo Rojo is quite reasonable.

Spending My 37th Birthday in San Jose, Costa Rica!

My birthday is the day after Christmas and since it often gets bundled with that holiday, I like to really celebrate (otherwise, it just gets lost). We usually do not go away for my actual birthday due to its proximity to Christmas, but this year, since Christmas was largely cancelled (thanks, COVID), we flew to San Jose, Costa Rica on Christmas evening and were there to properly celebrate my birthday on the 26th!

Christmas wine in JFK Terminal 5. They have really relaxed the drinking situation in T5 during COVID.

The day started out with complimentary breakfast at our hotel, the Sheraton San Jose, which is actually located in the ex-pat friendly suburb of Escazú. I was pleased that were were seated outdoors on an open-air terrace and the weather was gorgeous – sunny and about 70 F (21 C). I was even more pleased to learn that the hotel breakfast was totally delicious and honestly, some of the best food we had on the trip (spoiler alert, we did not love Costa Rican food). For my big birthday breakfast, I had the tastiest cappuccino and a plate of proper rice and beans, plantains, sausage, taquitos, and the most amazing chicken quesadilla-like thing in a yellow sauce, all topped with a spicy red salsa. Birthday off to a great start!

Excellent start to year 37. The quesadilla thing was amazing. I definitely had seconds!

Costa Rican cappuccino.

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A Gourmet Foodie Tour of the Golden Circle in Iceland!

Dan and I went to Iceland exactly one year ago, in February 2020 over Valentine’s Day(!), and despite being kept inside for an entire day due to Storm Dennis, we had a fantastic time. Since our main hobby is eating and drinking, we obviously joined a food tour in Iceland – 2 in fact! One of these was a full day private Golden Circle Gourmet tour with Magical Iceland. This tour is most certainly the most expensive food tour I have ever done (and probably will ever do), but everything in Iceland is expensive and I found it to be worth the hefty price tag. Booking was easy via email correspondence with the owner and main tour guide, Ymir. And, when our original date had to be rebooked due to Storm Dennis, Ymir was quick to reach out to us and reschedule (or refund if we preferred).

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Views driving through Iceland.

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Friday Brunch in Dubai. It’s A Big Thing.

When researching things to do in Dubai, I learned that Friday Brunch is a very popular thing in Dubai. So, clearly we had to sign up! There are so many options for Friday brunch in Dubai, from pub fare at Dubliners Irish Pub to super upscale experiences at top notch restaurants. We opted for the renowned Traiteur Brunch at the Park Hyatt Dubai! Known to be one of the best and most popular brunches in town, we booked a table before we left the US and were not disappointed. When planning, however, I had a lot of questions. Hopefully this post helps to answer some of your questions.

Brunching at Traiteur.

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4 Fabulous Days In Dubai En Route To the Maldives!

En route to the Maldives last November, Dan and I spent four fabulous days in Dubai! Partly as a stop over en route, but mostly to see some of Dubai! It was our first time in Dubai, and given its location and good flight connections, I’m confident we will return. There’s a ton to do in Dubai and we had a difficult time deciding exactly what to do and how to fit everything into four days! For those planning a trip, here’s a recap of what we did during our four day stay. Feel free to replicate!

FIRST DAY IN DUBAI – 12.5 HOUR FLIGHT & ARRIVAL IN DUBAI!

Emirates’ direct flight from New York to Dubai departs around 10:30 PM and arrives the following evening, around 8:30 PM local time.  After a very, very long flight, we finally arrived in Dubai shortly after sunset! Customs in Dubai, where we presented our COVID-19 negative results (a simple PCR print out in English – nothing like French Polynesia), was quick and easy and we soon had our luggage and were en route to our hotel, the Intercontinental Festival City. We arrived shortly before 10:00 PM and were excited to see the entire hotel was decked out for Dubai’s national day on December 2nd. Very fun.

Intercontinental Festival City going all our for Dubai’s national day!

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How I Spent 1 Week In The Maldives In December, 2020!!

If you read my last post, you know that my husband, Dan (a bit of a points guru), found a crazy deal for a week in the Maldives at the Conrad Rangali Island, Maldives the first week of December – 5 nights in an overwater bungalow totally on points. So that became our Thanksgiving vacation! I was a little iffy about staying a full 5 nights and 6 days on a remote island with no realistic ability to leave, but we had a wonderful time and it was perfect during the pandemic.  And actually, Dan and I both felt that our Maldives vacation FLEW by and we easily could have spent another week. Big surprise! Here’s a run down of our week if you are curious (or hesitant) about what you would do on such a stay!

Palm trees at the Conrad Rangali Island.

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Resort Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island!

Dan and I spent a week at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island in December 2020, during the COVID global pandemic. The resort was at around 35% capacity, we felt totally safe, and we had a lovely time, particularly enjoying the resort without other people! Here is our review of the resort, which may change slightly once COVID ends… In any case, I hope that this helps you plan your trip!

Conrad Rangali Island airport. Smack in the middle of the resort.

The Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is obviously in the Maldives, a national of many, many islands located off the south west coast of India (making it fun to combine with a trip to India or Sri Lanka).  The Conrad is in the South Ari Atoll of the Maldives, and is comprised of three private islands. It takes exactly 29 minute to arrive via sea plane from Malé, the capital of Maldives and home to its major airport.

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Wine Tasting With My Parents In Charlottesville, VA!

Dan and I attended our friends Pryor’s and Bryan’s wedding earlier this month in Richmond, Virginia and, since my parents live in Virginia and I had not seen them alllll of quarantine, we met them for two fun-filled days of wine tasting in Charlottesville, Virginia before the wedding! While Dan and I have wine tasted all over the world, from Mendoza, to Stellenbosh, to Bordeaux, we had not spent a lot of time in Central Virginia, so we were pumped to try some VA wines, especially since I am from Central Viriginia!

Appropriate signage at Pollak Vineyards.

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4 Days In Mo’orea, French Polynesia: Snorkeling with Sharks, Hiking a Really Tall Mountain, and Eating All the Delicious Food!

As you may know from my prior posts, Dan and I took an almost proper vacation to Mo’orea in August on our summer getaway to French Polynesia (after Georgia, Azerbaijan, Puerto Rico, and Puglia were cancelled …I know it could be much worse)! We had an absolutely lovely trip and recommend Mo’orea to others for sure! This details how we spent our four days on Mo’orea and provides some logistical information that is hopefully helpful. I would 100% do this exact trip all over again!

Gorgeous Mo’orea. Blue on blue on blue.

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