Travel Month: July 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Travel + Personal:


The beginning half of this month was spent wandering Connecticut and visiting family and friends. It was great to be home for a bit - I certainly reverted into my old beach bum self! A week ago J and I made it safely back to Vilnius and have been slowly re-setting our clocks back to Vilnius time (holy jet-lag folks!). We've been reunited with our fluffy cat and I'm back to enjoying the new cafes and restaurants that have been popping up.

Blogging:




Vilnius
Get Off the Beaten Path in Vilnius
TravelBook by:
In Search Of
Open TravelBook Preview

This month I've written my first TravelBook for the CreateTrips App. It was such fun to use their app to make a Vilnius travel guide. Have you created a guide on CreateTrips? Leave the link in the comments so I can check it out!

I've also spent July revamping my Vilnius travel guide and I'm super pleased with how out it came out. J helped me with a template that I've customized a bit to make it fit with the theme of my blog. The travel guide went out for free today to my newsletter subscribers. If you'd like your own free copy the subscribe button is on the left side of my blog! Newsletter subscribers will continue getting my travel guides for free whenever a new one comes out - perks of being a subscriber!

Looking forward to:


August is going to be an exciting month over here at In Search Of. My due date is quickly approaching, so expect things to be quiet on social media. I will be around the blog and am working on prescheduling posts. J's parents will be visiting in late August until early September and mine will be visiting in mid-September. Yipee to visitors! I'm certain I'll be showing them all around - and with a tiny baby in tow!

My favorite posts of the month:


Small Business Stories 1: An interview with Sonny, the owner and cook at Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar. We chat the positives and negatives of running a business, Singaporean food, and his favorite foods to cook.

Old Town Mill: A mill that I didn't even know existed and practically in my backyard.



A photo posted by Elizabeth (@insearchofs) on

A photo posted by Elizabeth (@insearchofs) on




How was your month? What are your plans for August? 

Small Business Stories: Delicious Asian Food in New London, Connecticut

Monday, July 27, 2015

Small Business Stories is a new series that I'm starting here on In Search Of. This series focuses on small, locally owned businesses related to travel - restaurants, shops, cafes, arts/crafts, and hotels. I became inspired to pursue this series when I had to make some decisions about the types of businesses that I wanted to associate In Search Of with. The idea of focusing on small businesses was a natural progression as my parents have owned a small water testing business together for over 30 years. My Dad has always said that creating his own job (where he was the boss!) was the best thing he could have ever done career-wise. Having grown up with this business I can see how much time, energy, and passion it takes to have a small business, so why wouldn't I want to highlight this!



Sonny in action


The first small business story focuses on a restaurant that I've loved for several years now, and is always the first restaurant I visit when I'm back in Connecticut - Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar. Though I'm not a vegetarian, I order off of the vegetarian/vegan menu because my favorite dishes are the eggplant dish and the lemongrass tofu dish (FYI they are SO good). My friends, A & A, have become good friends with Sonny, the owner of Singapore's Grill, and they helped me to set up an interview - thanks A & A!

So, now on to a chat with Sonny!

1) Tell us a bit about the history of Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar.

I opened Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar in 2001. I previously had worked in numerous restaurants and cooking has always been my hobby. Initially, my siblings and I decided that we would open a restaurant together. Eventually, I left my job and took over the restaurant and now I am the sole owner. I wanted to create a restaurant that had unique sushi with Southeast Asian influences.



2) What is your favorite thing about owning and running your restaurant?

I am a people person and I'm also creative. I love being able to create relationships with customers and have them enjoy my food. I also put a lot of creativity into my menu and the flavors that I use. Singapore is a very diverse country; therefore, the food I serve is flavored with the spices that you'd find in Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Japanese cuisines.

I also like the community that I have with other small business owners. Sometimes we share equipment or ingredients and just generally help each other out.



3) What are the most challenging things about being a small business owner?

The most challenging thing for me is to find hardworking and reliable employees.

4) What's your day to day life like as a business owner?

I have a family so I do my best to spend my off-time with them, but I pretty much work all-day every day. Also, many of my return customers have my cell phone number to place orders or book catering, so even if I'm not at the restaurant I'm always working. I go to bed thinking about work and I wake up thinking about work - so, I guess that this is also another challenging thing about being a small business owner. You give up a lot.

5) What is your favorite dish to cook?

My favorite sushi to make are the Black Dragon (shrimp with a sweet and crunchy taste) and the Crazy Roll (cucumber, avocado, salmon). My favorite dishes to cook are the Mango Dish, which was my first signature dish, and the Sambai, which is shrimp, pork, and rice noodles.



6) What inspired you to open your restaurant?

When I was a kid I thought about being a lawyer or a hotel manager because I love working with people. Growing up, my family all had their own businesses and my grandmother owned a very successful Indian restaurant in Singapore, so it ended up being a natural transition.

7) How do you advertise your business?

I currently don't advertise my business. We've been open for more than 10 years and our two biggest drivers of customers are 1) word of mouth and 2) great reviews on websites like TripAdvisor. As long as your produce good food and create a nice experience for diners people will come to you.



8) What are your most popular dishes?

My most popular dishes seem to trend depending on what dish has been recently mentioned on social media or in reviews. Currently, the Dynamite Roll, the Spicy Mango, the Crispy Spicy Beef, and the Grilled Pineapple Chicken. All of the appetizers are always very popular.



9) Can you give us a bit of a background on Singaporean food?

Singaporean food is really focused on curries and noodles. I probably eat about 10 or more noodle meals a week. Coconut rice, satay, and fried ice cream are also popular.

10) You have a vegan and vegetarian menu. Can you tell me about how it started?

Vegan and vegetarian customers helped put the menu together. The menu is very unique because I had to try out new things. For example, I have one customer who loves tofu so I asked him what else he likes and created a special dish for him. The same with our eggplant dish.




11) Where can my readers and I connect with you online?

Website; Facebook


Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar is located on 938 Bank Street in New London, Connecticut. They are open from 11 am until 10 pm.


Thank you so much, Sonny, for taking the time out of your busy day to be interviewed. I absolutely loved learning more about Singapore's Grill and Sushi Bar!


If you are interested in having your small business featured in this series please contact me and we can chat.

Cheesesteak!

Friday, July 24, 2015

In my June post about preparing for a trip to Connecticut I was all about making my trip to Connecticut exciting by visiting places that are new to me. Now that I'm back in Vilnius and reflecting on the trip I'm pleased with the mix of new and old that I visited. Amongst the new places I visited, and will certainly be revisiting, is Philly's A Taste of Philadelphia that boasts 'the best cheesesteaks outside of Philly.' I was a bit skeptical as it seemed so unlikely that such a small restaurant in an unassuming location would have the best cheesesteaks, but I gave it a go anyways. I'm so glad to say that that my skepticism was unfounded and the cheesesteaks were just SO good. J and I both had the original Philly's sandwich, which consisted of high quality meat (no yucky gristle), grilled onions, and Cheese Whiz.  I would have never thought a sandwich with Cheese Whiz would be delicious - but it really was. 





Philly's is located on 33 Sherman Street in Norwich, Connecticut.


Where is the best cheesesteak from that you've ever had?

Vilnius Travel Guides

Thursday, July 23, 2015

I've got an extra post coming at you today as I fly from JFK back to Vilnius. Over the past couple of weeks I've been working on updating and reworking my Vilnius Travel Guide. This updated guide will be sent out for free to my email subscribers at the end of this month. This and other guides I've been working on will be available in August to all of my readers (unless the baby makes an early entrance!). 

I've also been making a Vilnius TravelBook on CreateTrips. CreateTrips is a new phone app that provides travel guides and reviews from bloggers and those working in the travel industry. I love this app because it provides practical advice from people that I trust - you can look up bloggers that you like and see if they have created a TravelBook. Also, I found it really simple and fun to create my own TravelBook. The Vilnius TravelBook that I created describes 31 locations in Vilnius including bars, cafes, restaurants, and must-see locations. My Vilnius TravelBook will be available for download tomorrow. Do let me know if you check it out! I'd love to hear feedback!




See the best Vilnius has to offer with this travel guide



Have you created a TravelBook or your own travel guide? Leave the link below - I'd love to check it out :)

The Best Brunches in Southeastern Connecticut

Monday, July 20, 2015

I've missed breakfasts of eggs, french toast, fresh fruit, pancakes, and refills of freshly brewed coffee. Back in the US, I'm making sure to enjoy my fill of breakfasts and brunches around the southeastern portion of Connecticut.

Somewhere in Time, Mystic: Somewhere in Time serves up creative breakfast sandwiches, omelets, french toast, and pancakes - all staples of an American brunch.

Note: Somewhere in Time has a sister restaurant called When Pigs Fly in Waterford, Connecticut. Same great food, different location.

Noah's, Stonington Borough: A tried and true favorite located in the heart of Stonington Borough, serves delicious, hearty breakfasts. I'm a huge fan of the challah french toast and their blueberry pancakes.


blueberry pancakes from Noah's in Stonington



La Belle Aurore, Niantic: La Belle Aurore is such a cool restaurant. There menu frequently changes as they work with local farms and serve whatever is fresh off the farms. We (my sister, J, Mom, and I) brought my Dad their for Father's Day and we all loved it - J and I had been before but they hadn't. I even decided to step out of my breakfast comfort zone of pancakes or french toast to have the eggs and vegetable hash - such a great decision.



Muddy Waters, New London: New to me, but not new to New London is Muddy Waters Cafe. They serve light breakfasts that include muffins, baked goods, and egg sandwiches. Muddy Waters is located right on the Thames River in Groton, from its outdoor tables you can sit and watch ferries and trains come and go.

food from Muddy Waters in New London




The Shack, East Lyme: The Shack is an old staple of mine, as I went to high school just a minute or two down the road. The portion sizes at the Shack are huge and the prices are pretty reasonable making it a local favorite. When I re-visited The Shack recently with J I ordered the stack of blueberry pancakes and had forgotten how huge their serving sizes are. Four pancakes is way too much for one breakfast! Note: The Shack is also located in New London and Waterford.




pancakes from the Shack in East Lyme



Where is your favorite place to go for brunch?

Visiting Brookline, MA

Friday, July 17, 2015

Every time I join J to visit his family in Brookline, Massachusetts I'm itching to walk around the city and try out the restaurants, cafes, and shops. Driving down Harvard Street has always fascinated me as the businesses quickly switch from Asian dominated businesses to many Jewish restaurants and delicatessens. 

During our most recent visit, J and I were able to take a quick walk around part of the city and sneak away to his favorite restaurant - Zaftigs (335 Harvard St.). I had been craving a pastrami sandwich and, wow, the sandwich from Zaftigs absolutely hit the spot. We also picked up a couple of desserts to bring home (because how can you say no to such a nice dessert display?). J warns that during the weekend Zaftigs has an extraordinarily long line, as their breakfasts are incredibly popular.

We then wandered down the street to Booksmith (279 Harvard St.) to pick up a belated birthday gift for my sister (#GirlBoss has been hard to find in the US!). With its huge stock, of course, Booksmith had exactly what I was looking for.

I'm looking forward to heading back to Brookline again soon when I can do more than waddle slowly along on a steamy day.








Have you visited Brookline, MA?

To Revisit, or See Somewhere New, That is the Question

Monday, July 13, 2015



Pins to stick in maps or globes, scratch off maps, and checklists are only focused on where you've been before and can make you feel like you aren't accomplishing anything if you revisit a destination. What do you think about revisiting a location?

I'm all for revisiting places I've been before. I enjoy revisiting places so much, that whenever I'm in Connecticut visiting family I try to visit all of my old favorite spots. I also try to visit Kunming, China (where I used to live) every couple of years to see some of my closest friends and to see how much the city has changed in such a short amount of time. In addition to where I've previously lived, I also try to revisit Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and so many other destinations in the US, and in China I try to revisit northwestern Yunnan Province including Lijiang, Shangri-La, and FuXian Lake.

To avoid the monotony of only visiting places I've been before, I do research on local businesses and other nearby towns or cities to visit. This way my trip is new and exciting, while fulfilling desire for nostalgia and eating old favorites.

Three Reasons I Love Revisits:




1) Exploring new-to-me businesses. Over the past three weeks that I've been visiting Connecticut I've made it my mission to check out new places - and I've already found new favorites! In my post last Monday I talked about how much I love Muddy Waters Cafe in downtown New London. Just down the street from Muddy Waters I had to try Berry's Ice Cream - and luckily I visited on Milkshake Mondays. At Berry's I had the most delicious thin mint flavored milkshake (try it with chocolate milk!). I've also enjoyed several other new restaurants and will certainly have a post or two about it in the next few weeks.

2) Revisiting old favorites. There is no way that I could possibly resist eating at Paul's Pasta or Singapore Grill time and time again.

In Kunming, I love just walking the streets that I used to spend so much time on. I find it fascinating to see how quickly the city grows and changes. I remember the excitement when the first Starbucks opened - during my last visit I walked or bused by at least four.

3) Getting nostalgic. In the middle of last week I had a few errands to do in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where my mom grew up and my grandmother used to live. I love visiting Old Saybrook, but I don't frequently have a reason to visit. Luckily, I had a bit of extra time to visit one of the beaches that I used to play on every summer as a kid. It was wonderful!

Last summer while revisiting Lijiang, China, I made sure to stay in the hotel that I used to stay in when I was working in the area. I was delighted when the owner, a very kind Naxi woman, remembered me as the foreigner who studies flowers. It had been nearly three years since my last stay!


What do you think about revisiting places you've visited before? How do you make each destination new?

Old Town Mill, New London

Friday, July 10, 2015


History and Visiting Information:


In the most unsuspecting spot, near the projects in New London and underneath the jam packed interstate 95, lies the historic Old Town Mill. I would have never known that this place existed if it wasn't for our search for breakfast when everything was closed last Monday. Since 1650 until the sometime in the 20th century, the mill used water power to grind corn, wheat, and rye into flour. Currently, the mill grounds are free to visit from sunrise until sunset.

The Old Town Mill was first built by John Winthrop, Jr. who first settled the area now called New London in 1646 and went on to serve as the governor of Connecticut for nearly 20 years. The first building was later destroyed by Benedict Arnold, but was rebuilt in the exact location as the original mill shortly after.




Where to find the Old Town Mill:

 

The Old Town Mill can be found on Mill Street in New London, CT. If you are looking for other things to do in the area, you can check out art and culture or eat a delicious breakfast at Muddy Waters. Alternatively, you can also check out this list of 50 Free Things to do in Connecticut.




What local gems have you discovered in your area?

Closed Mondays

Monday, July 6, 2015

Last Monday was J's and my second anniversary, so to celebrate we decided to try out somewhere new for the most delicious meal of the day - breakfast. We decided to head to the nearby city of New London to eat breakfast close to the beach, but unfortunately, the breakfast spot that we've heard great reviews on is closed on Mondays (despite their website proclaiming 'Now Open Mondays!'). Luckily, J knew of another place down the road, but upon arrival, that too was closed. Both of us starving at this point, we decided to head to a New London to visit the iconic Muddy Waters Cafe (I had actually never been before as I thought it was a bar; 42 Bank Street).

I'm glad that the first places we tried were closed, as Muddy Waters was awesome! I'm talking a huge array of fresh made pastries, breakfast sandwiches, brewed coffee, and tons of locals chatting. Inside there are comfy couches and lounge chairs or you could take your food to the porch that overlooks both the train station and marina with ferries that come and go.







Following a very leisurely breakfast we decided to take a short stroll (because several other things were also closed Mondays!) through downtown New London. Every time I head to New London it seems as though the city has commissioned a new, gorgeous piece of street art. Check out that whale, fox, and monkey (bigfoot?) one below! New London even know has a self guided walking tour and map of all of the street art - love it.








Little did we know that everything we tried to do would be closed on Monday! Fortunately, we had an amazing breakfast and took advantage of a sunny day by checking out street art. We also found a historical gem in a surprising location - more about that on Friday!


What's up with everything being closed on Mondays in downtown New London? How do you turn a negative travel situation into a positive one?

Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington, Connecticut

Friday, July 3, 2015


Despite being seven months pregnant and waddling slower than ever (not to mention I haven't been able to see my feet in months) I haven't stopped wanting to go on in search ofs. Inspired by Polly's post where she visited her local vineyard, I decided to visit one of the vineyards along the Connecticut Wine Trail. I've never visited a vineyard before, so when I suggested it, J decided that he'd bring me to his favorite local vineyard - Saltwater Farms. Having been a while since his last visit, J had a tasting - I'm oh so jealous - which I thought was reasonably priced ($10) and allowed him to try four different wines (two white, a rose, and a red). I snuck a little taste of the red and thought it was delicious (I'll certainly be doing my own tasting next summer!). Eventually he settled on purchasing a bottle of red to bring to a friend. 

We went to Saltwater Farm mid-week without a reservation and it was super casual. I thought the woman who explained the wines was very knowledgeable and we felt absolutely no pressure to rush or purchase anything other than the tasting. Saltwater Farm had a huge outdoor space that visitors can walk freely in or bring food and enjoy a picnic on their outdoor tables. If we hadn't just eaten we would have absolutely grabbed some sandwiches and plopped down with a glass of wine. What a great place for a date!








Have you visited a vineyard before? What is your favorite type of wine?   


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REASONS2TRAVEL featured blogger
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This month's featured blogger is Ashley from Cómo perderse en España. An Atlantic Canadian expat currently living in Burgos, Spain teaching English. Her blog is filled with very useful tips for anyone thinking of moving to Spain, such as setting up housing and in-depth articles about local festivals and traditions. Last month Ashley linked up a post about the Sampedros Summer Festival, check out her post and say hello on Facebook and Twitter !

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