Looks like it’s time for the annual Nals and Kells getaway!
The global pandemic has limited life options this year. But since it’s our birthday, we decided to take off to Whistler, BC. (Coincidentally, Dr. Bonnie Henry has rolled out BC’s Restart Plan: Phase 3. )
Kells & I were in Palm Springs🔗 last year for our annual birthday jaunt.
We had dinner at Tac/Quila🔗. This restaurant has a nifty story. A lawyer couple decided to change careers. They popped their restauranteur cherry by opening FARM🔗. Then came the second baby Tac/Quila🔗.
Kells & I shared a flight of margaritas (Kiwi Mint, Watermelon, Pineapple, Blackberry, Lime). I’m not particularly fond of tequila but I do love cold fruity drinks. And boy these went down smooth. (Good thing we shared or we’d’ve been in trouble with our own flight.) They all had distinct flavours that we loved. Kiwi Mint, Watermelon & Pineapple were our top 3.
Kells ordered Calamari and a couple tacos (al pastor, chicken). I ordered 3 tacos – carne asada, calabacitas & carnitas. The food was delicious.
Each taco had a distinct focus and accoutrements. Truly enjoyable.
Restaurant had inside and outside seating. However, because of the layout, it seemed like 1 seamless area. There was something to look at everywhere from the ceilings, walls, tables… foliage, people, food or funky carpentry. There was a bustling lively energy in the air. The waitstaff were great.
You must get the flight of margaritas for sharing. Tacos and calamari are bang on. We’d definitely come to Tac/Quila🔗 again.
Foots ¹We had access to the larger pre-pandemic menu last year. But this miniaturized menu is a pretty good cross-section.
Kells, Cutie T & I went on a girls weekend getaway to Portland Oregon🔗, earlier this year (pre-pandemic times). As it was Cutie’s first time, we wanted it to be extra special. We stayed at the ritzy Hotel Monaco🔗.
One evening we chose to dine at Bamboo Sushi🔗 (downtown location). They’ve got 3 locations in The PDX.
K ordered Surf n Turf which was absolutely delightful. Steak was well seasoned, tender. Lobster tail was tenderly delectable.
N took cliffsnotes🔗 (haha) on an old phone. Unfortunately, the old phone died. And now the only menu available is the COVID-19🔗 #socialdistancing🔗 takeout menu. N can’t remember what she ordered, and none of the takeouts quite capture the dish.
The fish was perfectly cooked and well seasoned with amazing sides.
Friendly and attentive but not up in your grill.
Reminded us of an old-school mansion, some large round family-style tables, roomy.
¹We were tucking into our plates when this flashy dude walks into the restaurant with his mum and pops. K recognized him as Canadian magician Murray SawChuk, who has a residence in Vegas. (Of course we gave him a shout out on IG🇨🇦.)
However, this gym has an awesome workaround. They’ve created a complimentary 30-Minute HIT at Home for members!
Kells has been intermittently hitting it for over a decade. But over the past few years she’s been really consistent.
I tried hitting it for the 2018 fundraiser Kick the F*ck Of Cancer🔗. It was my first time and I felt like puking after. I hadn’t felt that wretched in ages. I thought “Guess this isn’t your jam, missy.”
New Years promo
A couple months ago, K pointed out that there was a special deal. I hemmed and hawed. I thought, let’s just book a trial session… and I was hooked. You get your own gloves and wraps. Makes me feel like I’m a hardcore boxer.
I thought this would be great for a quick workout. In the days I want longer training, I’d have the option to go through 2x.
But believe me, you work your entire body hard. Both Kells & I are hot sweaty messes afterwards.
I still have not gone through the circuit 2x. But one of these days, I will.
And less than 2 months later
I feel stronger, energized, got some skills, endurance (I had to take multiple breaks per station in the beginning).
My waist is more defined. People have told me my shape is changing. I’m not doing it for looks… but it’s nice to get positive feedback.
If you’re up for a challenge, and this looks remotely interesting, call to get your free trial!
I was craving seared scallops. When I ordered it, the staff said that this would burn the outside while leaving the inside dangerously raw. I usually eat seared scallops or sashimi-style so this was news to N (as well as K). Not sure if it was due to USA’s FDA guidelines¹? But I wasn’t going to argue.
I got the Hawaiian combo with salmon, jumbo shrimp and mahi mahi because it had a bit of everything. Kells got the Surf n Turf with lobster tail and steak. We also ordered a side of charbroiled² scallops. And of course a couple beers to wash it all down with.
The sides (rice pilaf, coleslaw) were nothing to write home about. The fish needed a bit more citrus but good. Shrimp was on this side of being rubbery. Scallops were okay. Lobster and steak were good.
Was friendly. Food came out in a timely manner. (Staff bring orders out to tables.)
This location was in a strip mall, so parking was a-plenty.
Not a destination eatery. But, if you’re in the area and hungry for a casual atmosphere… sure it’ll be fine.
We had opportunity to take a girl’s trip to Portland🔗 recently.
It was our friend Cutie T’s first time in the PDX so we wanted to stay in a central area, park then walk everywhere. We chose Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland🔗
The entrance is magnificent
As you can see, the hotel’s entry is elegant from the outside and… magnificently opulent inside. It reminds us of old gallant hotels for the rich riches but not gaudy or tacky.
The staff and service
Everyone was warm and friendly. Check-in was fairly quick, as we were pre-paid.
As soon as we got to our room, the front desk texted us to say if we needed anything, just let them know. We needed extra pillows, blankets, a straightening iron, suggestions for a night out… and they got back to us!
To the room…
Elevator and walk to to the room was delightful.
… And beyond
This King Suite was sumptuous!
Yes lots of areas to park your sweet booty.
Large, airy, light. Shower, tub, lots of counterspace.
The king bed had a sliding door with a huge TV, dresser, comfy chair, night tables with lamps and plenty o’ plug ins. The bed was fabulous firm. I didn’t feel Kells move around at all. In the evenings, the three us snuggled up with snacks and the TV.
Cutie T preferred to sleep solo on the sofa bed. She had her own TV. Mattress looked a bit thin but Cutie T slept fine curled up in the mountain of blankets and pillows.
Lighting & Space
King bed had large windows with sheets and blackout curtains. There were some floor ceiling and table lamps. Seemed a bit dark in the foyer but who cares.
Room felt very airy, due to the vaulted ceilings.
Mini bar, intimacy kits, snack items and room service are available for additional costs.
Included in-room are animal print robes, landline, basic drinking glasses, bar fridge, hair dryer & delicious toiletries. Other things available upon request (such as Keurig, tea, cutlery and coffee pods).
There were 2 TVs. TVs don’t have internet or bluetooth capabilities. There is cable with pay-per-view options.
Hotel amenities and entertainment
With resort fees, you can use the fitness room.
Coffee, tea, swanky hot chocolate in lobby in the mornings.
Wine, beer, amuse bouche are available every evening 5-7 pm for all hotel guests. They also have live music in the lobby.
Concierge service also available by text.
Valet parking was included in our package. But we were close enough to walk everywhere downtown.
We had opportunity to take a girl’s trip to Portland🔗 recently.
And of course we had to pop in to sample a bit of somethin’ somethin’ at the infamous Voodoo Donuts🔗.
We got there around 9 pm. The lineup was only about 20 minutes. Warning that it can be as long as 2 hours. Since they’re open 24 hours, we suggest checking in on the lineups… and go later if it’s nutso.
We got: -guava colada: kapow guava in centre and soft coconut donut surrounds. -mango tango: yep it’s mango jelly and is fluffier. -dirty old bastard: PB&C have joined forces, firmer texture like a fritter. -portland cream: like the Boston cream but not custard. It was an indescribable flavour. We’d skip this. -maple bacon: yep exactly like it sounds. This will be your jam if you enjoy maple syrup waffles with a side o’ pig strips. -apple fritter: classic and a goodie.
K&I have healthy appetites. But one Voodoo donut could easily feed 2 or 3 folks.
Read about our other Palm Springs adventures and reviews here
We had no reservation and came at dinner time. We were seated outside the kitchen, but with a view of outside patio. This was a great vantage point for people-watching. Restaurant was dimly-lit restaurant. There was that comforting din of murmurs, cutlery clinking, busy-ery. Walls were decorated with pictures of crooners, The Godfather, other Italian ex-pats. There was also a piano player and singer. Our pony-tailed curliqued friend was really good!
Efficient, pleasant but not too chit-chatty. They were incredibly observant. As they were leaving or coming back into the kitchen, various staff picked up our excess dishes, or offered cutlery. I love when people work as a team. This makes me feel supported, and like anyone on the team can (& will) help.
Starter: Crab-stuffed Mushrooms. These were good but not stellar. All dinners also come with garlic toast. This was toast-tastically flavourful, crispy. We had to get a second basket.
Nals’s dish: Risotti Con Funghi. Nals isn’t into shiitake but this dish wasn’t shiitty at all. Risotto was delightfully toothy. “Sauce” was creamy and just coated the rice for perfect separation and flavour. And the con funghi flavour was bang on!
Kells’s dish: Ravioli d’Aragosta: delicious vodka horgonzola cream sauce with 3 large freshly-made ravioli. These monster ravioli were filled with mega lobster. Good flavour contrast of sauce and filling.
Dessert: Chocolate Lava Cake a la mode. Moist, flavourful and rich. Worth every bite.
Recommendation is 100%
Hands down, no question: if you are in Palm Springs and want a delicious Italian dinner: you must go to Castelli’s🔗.
We ordered🔗: tempura battered Fish n Chips (Halibut) and a Tacone (albacore tuna). Halibut tasted good but a bit soggy. Tacone was delightful with perfectly seared tuna. Tortilla was a bit sticky. Maybe if it was warmed, it would’ve been better.
Kells had been here before with The Mr. He enjoyed the Halibut & chips as well.
We’d probably come here again… if we were in the area, and hungry. The setting was gorgeous. And we’ll be sure to have ice cream bars from 🇨🇦Rogers Chocolates🔗!