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Early Arrivals

by Meghann on August 18, 2011

4+ hours of swag bag stuffing later… it was time to get some fresh air.

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A small group of early Healthy Living Summit arrivals decided to head out for dinner tonight and discover some of the great food Philadelphia has to offer.

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From Left to Right: Kath, Kelly, Heather, Kristin, Heather’s friend, Me, Kelly, Julie, and Allison.

Allison made us reservations at Alma de Cuba, a local Stephen Starr restaurant just a few blocks from the hotel.

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The restaurant was swanky and gorgeous. We were sat at a cozy table on the top floor and were well taken care of through the entire meal.

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I’m no stranger to Cuban food (I’m from Florida – land of the Cubans), but this may have been my first experience with upscale Cuban food. They took all of my favorite cuban dishes and gave them a creative twist. Everything was executed beautifully, but I’m not sure anything can beat a $2 bowl of classic black beans and rice from my favorite hole in the wall Cuban grease pit. πŸ™‚

However, I was a fan of the warm yucca rolls. The smoked cheese baked inside gave them a great smoky flavor and the yucca flour kept them extra chewy and doughy. I could have had a meal of these and been satisfied. πŸ™‚

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The main dishes were a little pricey, so I pieced together a meal of appetizers and sides for half the price. Starting with the smoky gazpacho.

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The Creamy Coconut Quiona.

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(This was a side dish portion, which I couldn’t even eat half of. It was a thai influenced dish with a heavy dose of lime. I loved it, but I know others weren’t as big of fans.)

And the Tostones.

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I ordered these to share. There were a few people at the table who had never had tostones before, and I couldn’t let that slide. These weren’t the same as the salty, deep fried tostones from back home – they were lightly fried and coated with a mojo sauce. They needed to be fried a little longer and served with a side of ketchup. πŸ˜‰

Derek was such a sweetie for accompanying the group to dinner. πŸ™‚

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After dinner we grabbed a cab across town to see my favorite pregnant lady.

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The last time I saw Sabrina she was 5 months along and glowing with pregnancy joy. She’s still glowing, there’s just more to glow about! I can’t believe little bambino will be here in just a couple of weeks!!! πŸ™‚

Sabrina was a rockstar hostess and had a dessert bar set up for all the ladies.

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There was Tiramisu, Blackberry Pie, Fresh Fruit, and Strawberry Cake! Sabrina sure knows how to please a crowd!

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I had a taste of each. Sweet tooth has now been demolished for the evening. πŸ˜‰

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We stayed around way too late chatting about everything from fake twitter names to planning weddings to giving birth. I could have stayed for hours chatting the night away, but some of us are planning to run in the morning and need our beauty sleep. πŸ™‚

I have an early wake up call and a date with the Rocky Steps in the morning.

Good Night!

1 Christine @ BookishlyB August 18, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I had Cuban food for the first time a few months ago from a hole in the wall on the sketchy part of the Las Vegas Strip and it was delicious! I was a little sketpical when we pulled up the painting next door said “Prostitutes are People Too.” It was awesome and I guess had a pretty high Zagat rating (not that necessarily means anything). Can’t judge a book by it’s cover, that’s for sure.
Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..The Honey Badger Doesn’t Give a Shit, and Neither Do I

2 Army Amy* August 19, 2011 at 12:14 am

Sounds like a great “appetizer” to the HLS weekend!*
Army Amy* recently posted..Where’s the beef?

3 Sana August 19, 2011 at 12:50 am

Ahh, Sabrina looks super duper cute πŸ™‚
Sana recently posted..Creatures of Habit

4 Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open August 19, 2011 at 1:15 am

Looks like so much fun! I just saw a recap on Kath’s blog as well. Fun, fun, fun! I am sure HLS is going to be GREAT!
Chelsey @ Chew with Your Mouth Open recently posted..Wine, Food & Fun

5 Joyce @ Jranola Joyce August 19, 2011 at 1:47 am

those yucca rolls. oh man. look so amazing!!

6 Allie August 19, 2011 at 2:54 am

Wow all the food looks so good! I don’t think I’ve ever had Cuban food. Its not very popular over here in the UK!
Allie recently posted..Top Five Fridays

7 christne August 19, 2011 at 3:41 am

Chica, I read your blog all of the time and you always look pretty but girl you look exceptionally gorgeous in these pics! I love that your man was there to see you in all of your glory!

8 Heather August 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I was just about to comment the exact same thing!

9 Sophie August 19, 2011 at 5:28 am

Looks like a fab start to your weekend – have fun!
Sophie recently posted..Glad To Be Home.

10 Cassie @ Back to Her Roots August 19, 2011 at 5:55 am

I’ve never had Cuban food! Must try. πŸ™‚
And you look adorable. I seriously love the controversial headband.
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11 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance August 19, 2011 at 6:39 am

WOAH! Total de ja vu! Just saw something very similar on Kath’s blog πŸ˜‰
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12 SaraRM August 19, 2011 at 7:37 am

Cute outfit, like the tank and shorts with those shoes! πŸ™‚

13 Ashley August 19, 2011 at 7:44 am

What a fun day! My boyfriend is also joining me in Philly this weekend. Isn’t it great to have their support?
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14 Mia August 19, 2011 at 7:46 am

I love Alma de Cuba, but it is ridiculously expensive. I took my husband there on his bday a few years ago and haven’t been back since.
I highly recommend Distrito’s in University City..you would have to take a cab there, but it’s worth it – Mexican tapas, doesn’t get much better than that.
Another really good place around your hotel is Barbuzzo (13th and Sansom)
Right next to Barbuzzo there is a great Mexican BYOT (bring your own tequila) called Lolita’s…one of my favorite places in the city.
There is also a really great wine bar not too far from the Mariott called Tria (at 12th and Spruce), they also have a GREAT beer selection.
Garces Trading Company on 11th and Locust is also great…they have a wine store instead where you can buy great bottles for retail value ($10 – 20) and take them to your table…they have awesome food.
If you want an Italian place, there is Mercato which is one of the most popular BYOBs in the city on Spruce between 12th and 13th…they don’t take reservations, but it’s totally worth the wait IMO.

Just a few recommendations from a Philadelphian who eats out a lot πŸ™‚

15 Hope August 19, 2011 at 7:56 am

I love Stephen Starr restaurants! I’ve never been to Alma De Cuba. I’m nervous to try Cuban food but it looks delicious! So nice of Sabrina to have dessert set up for you guys! πŸ™‚
Hope recently posted..Peach Chicken & Oatmeal Peanut Butter Squares!…

16 Hillary August 19, 2011 at 8:31 am

What an awesome first night in Philly—and your outfit is adorable ; )
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17 Shayla @ The Good Life August 19, 2011 at 8:34 am

What a fun night! And I absolutely love your outfit, too cute and you look gorgeous πŸ™‚
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18 mel August 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

You look beautiful! have fun

19 Cait's Plate August 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

That place is SUPER nice! Love that picture of you and Derek!

20 Alaina August 19, 2011 at 8:37 am

The cafeteria where I work serves yucca fries sometimes. They are so good!

There’s an upscale Cuban restaurant in Boston called Noche that I’ve been dying to try out. The menu looks so good!

Looks like a great kick off to the summit! πŸ™‚

21 Marisa E August 19, 2011 at 8:45 am

Woot Woot to the tostones with ketchup!!!! Those were a staple growing up- I’m Puerto Rican. I’ve heard so many great things about Alma de Cuba but never been…may have to hit that up when Restaurant Week arrives.

Fake Twitter names- ha!! I saw that yesterday- gotta love the haters!

Have fun in the city today and I will see you tonight!!!!!!!!!

22 Baking N Books August 19, 2011 at 8:48 am

This is my first time to your blog. Are you one of the “founding” HLS’s then? I had heard of a Megan before – but that the site had the name “graduate” in it? Perhaps you changed.

Either way, looks like your having a fun time!
Baking N Books recently posted..What I Learned From Watching β€œHorrible Bosses”

23 Victoria August 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

I loved that you rocked the bow. It looked awesome. Just sayin’ πŸ˜‰
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24 Ali @ Ali Runs August 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

I love your hair and headband!! Where did you get it?
Ali @ Ali Runs recently posted..Vacation to Florida

25 Megan August 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm

It looks like you had a great night and I really wish I could have made it this weekend! Although, given the choice between staying in Philadelphia or finally moving to Orlando, I’d say I made the right choice.

Have to say that I have never been a big fan of Stephen Starr restaurants. They are always pricey and the food isn’t really worth the cost. If you have some time, check out the restaurants that are owned by the Iron Chef’s in Philadelphia. Morimoto’s flagship restaurant is not far from where you’re staying and Jose Garces has several restaurants in Philly. I visited Amada with my my cousin last year and we loved it. It would have been more fun if the people we were with weren’t such picky eaters. I’d love to go there again.

Anyways, I hope to run into you at Lucky’s Lake some weekend and I’ll definitely be checking out some of the places that you’ve written about in this area in the future!
Megan recently posted..And the unpacking continues…

26 Gabriela D. August 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Hey!
I read but never comment, so you won’t recognize my name.
I just felt complied to comment today , you look so warm and friendly in these pictures. I really like your outfit. And you and Derek are a really cute couple!

27 stephanie* August 19, 2011 at 3:39 pm

I am a newbie reader, and I just had to comment on the tostones πŸ™‚ my dads family is puerto rican, and we cannot eat those without ketchup as you said- dressed up with some lime juice, and hot sauce πŸ™‚ yumm-o!

28 Heather September 15, 2011 at 8:05 am

just a quick note: Heather’s friend, Emily, has a blog and reads HLBs – aladyinlove.com

πŸ™‚

xo
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