Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writer Wednesday - Hillary Proctor

When Kinzie Ferguson suggested I ask Hillary Proctor for an interview and I checked out her website, I knew that I'd be adding it to my reader right away. Hillary writes about the food scene in Chicago, and while I've wanted to visit the Windy City for a while now, all of her posts make me want to get there right away! If you're in the Midwest or just love food, you should definitely check out her blog!


Who are you? My name is Hillary, and I live in my favorite city in the world, Chicago.

Where can you be found online?  Do you have a blog or other online receptacle for your work?  If so, how would you describe it to a stranger you've just met while on vacation?  Remember, you're in a hot tub with them on a clear cold night, stars twinkling above you.  They want all the details.  If your work doesn't live online, tell the hot-tub-stranger about your writing in such a way that makes them urge you to get an online receptacle for it. My primary passion is food and drink, so I blog about my dining experiences at (creative name, I know, but I wanted the flexibility that comes with self-branding). I focus mainly on Chicago restaurants, but also cover wherever my travels take me, and even a little bit of home cooking. I'll also post recaps of special events like Restaurant Week and food festivals, as well as occasional topical pieces.

I've made a conscious decision to only celebrate great food and drink on my blog; if I'm disappointed by a dish or restaurant, I simply won't write about it. I'd much rather devote all my space to positive recommendations and outstanding experiences than add more negativity to the internet (let's be honest, this world already has enough Yelp reviewers who are just looking for something to complain about!) I do my best to describe food in a way that inspires my readers to feel the same kind of joy and wonder that I feel while eating it.

What inspired you to start writing/blogging?  When did it happen? I've loved to write ever since I was a little girl -- I had a particular penchant for starting stories, but never quite finishing them. I went on to study journalism in college, which was also when I realized I enjoyed the whole culture around food more than the average person. I went to culinary school after that, primarily to become a more credentialed food writer, but still wasn't actually writing in any kind of consistent way. Finally, after some prodding by close friends and colleagues, I started the blog in order to chronicle the best things I ate and drank in a more formal venue than just casual conversation. I also knew that the only way to improve as a writer, and specifically a food writer, was to keep writing.  

Why do you write? I write to capture some of my most memorable food moments in a concrete form that I can refer back to again and again. I write so that others can relive and share in my dining experiences, even if they weren't there with me originally. I write to express my own perspective on an ever-shifting culinary landscape. I write because words are important and powerful.

Your writing inspires me.  Who inspires you? I'm inspired by great food writers and critics (M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl, Francis Lam, Jeff Ruby, and Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman, to name a few). I also am fortunate enough to have incredibly talented, inspiring friends in all forms of media: journalists, photographers, bloggers, painters, and everything in between. I'm inspired by people who are pursuing their dreams and passions, whether artistic or otherwise, and whose enthusiasm for their craft is so contagious that you can't imagine them doing anything else.

In keeping with the admittedly loose travel theme of Not Intent On Arriving, if you could have an all-expenses paid trip anywhere in the world, where would you go? Australia. I've always wanted to scuba dive and snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, and the food scene -- in Sydney and Melbourne especially -- is really exciting there. I'd love to browse their markets and try all kinds of new ingredients that are indigenous to the area. In fact, if someone would pay for me to taste my way through farmers' markets and food stalls all the way around the world, I'd pick that instead!
What is your favorite place on earth? It's tough to pick just one, but in the summertime at least, I have to go with lying on a blanket in Millennium Park at dusk, full from a picnic of fancy snacks and wine, watching blazing pinks and oranges in the sky give way to darkness above the twinkling lights of the skyline, letting live music carry me away.

Anything else you'd like us to know? Don't be afraid to try something new, especially when it comes to eating and drinking! I would never have developed the culinary passion I have now without being exposed to all kinds of different things and being willing (or, in rare cases, forced) to taste anything at least once. I think that really applies to life in general: as cheesy as it sounds, you'll never know if you like something that seems foreign or scary unless you get a little adventurous and try it. In my experience, it's worth it.

Oh, and if you ever need a restaurant recommendation in Chicago, let me know! :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dispatch from Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from this past weekend in Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI, taken on my phone. Be sure to click the panoramas for a better view, and thanks for tuning in yesterday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Weekend Wanderings - Mystic, CT and Watch Hill, RI

Prepare for a million photos! Shelby and I went up to Mystic, CT for the weekend and had a wonderful time. This will mostly be photos, but I'll include a few words, too.

Friday, July 18, 2014

We loaded into Shelby's car early in the morning to make the two-hour drive over to Mystic. Once there, we checked into the Econolodge (review: not as bad as I worried it could be, though it is across from a graveyard), and walked over to the Mystic Aquarium. We saw sharks, seals, and beluga whales, and we pet stingrays, and I took a photo of this really cool frog.

I wasn't totally in love with the aquarium (it features more mammals than fish, and I tend to feel guilty watching them, also it was a little pricey at $29 a pop), but there were a bunch of kids who seemed really excited to be there, and the animals were beautiful. Also, see above, that frog was awesome.

After the aquarium, we took a scenic walk to town to grab lunch. The little town of Mystic is about a mile and a half away from the hotel, which made for a great walk.

Along the way, we passed the Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea. I remember visiting it as a kid, and it sounds right up my alley now, so I hope to come back and visit one day soon!

We also waited a bit outside S&P Oyster Co., which had really gorgeous landscaping, while waiting for the drawbridge across Mystic River to open up.

Boats were on hand to give tours of the harbor:

We enjoyed a big lunch at the Captain Daniel Packer Inne, which was really delicious. I had the crab panini, which was wonderful, and Shelby said she really enjoyed her burger. The restaurant is in a home that was built in 1756, and it was a great cozy spot for our first meal in Mystic.

We wandered around some of the adorable shops in town, and then made our way back to the hotel, stopping for a selfie:

And to admire the gorgeous architecture along the bay:

On the way, we also stopped for ice cream sundaes at Twisters. The ice cream was tasty, but what really made the experience was sitting outside staring over the lovely harbor. We spent some time reading and sunning by the pool before heading to Olde Mystic Village for a little more shopping and dinner at Ten Clams (where nothing costs more than ten clams!). It was empty, but I actually really enjoyed our meal. The New England Clam Chowder was really good, and they made a mean grilled cheese.

It was also fun to wander around the little shopping center, because I remembered it so vividly from our many trips there when I was a kid. We used to come to Rhode Island every summer when I was younger, so this visit felt familiar and comforting.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Saturday morning, we headed to Watch Hill to spend the day on the beach. Unfortunately, the weather was a little chilly for the beach, but that didn't stop us from setting up our chairs and relaxing for most of the morning!

We set up on Napatree Point, a public beach right next to Watch Hill Beach. It was a bit tucked away, and perhaps because the weather wasn't hot, there was plenty of space to spread out.

There were also some really beautiful birds nearby:

Unfortunately, while we wandered onto the jetty, and took this picture:

This little guy, and a bunch of his friends went through and stole a bunch of our food!

We packed it away more carefully before our next walk, and Shelby supervised for a few minutes to make sure they didn't come back and attack our totes.

The walk to the other jetty:

After our walk and some reading, we headed back into town. This is the view from the top of the dune path to get into and out of the beach:

We ate a quick lunch of clam chowder at St. Clair Annex, followed by homemade ice cream cones.

Then, we wandered around Watch Hill, pretending to be rich and stopping in at a different shops. Were I rich, I would definitely own one of these boats:

We retired to the Verandah at Ocean House for cocktails overlooking the croquet court. It was pretty glorious, and I can't think of a better way to have spent the afternoon.

I don't really mention this much here, but (possibly because we vacationed here every summer for most of my formative years) I sort of expected that I'd be wealthy by now. Clearly this was a bit of mild insanity on my part, given that I'd also always planned to be a writer, but I just thought I should say that once upon a time, I thought my afternoons would look like this most days. My delusional pre-teen self was very glad to have spent at least one afternoon this way.

Anyway, on the walk back to the car, I saw these people and thought, That life looks so grand! Rooftop life. It's a good one.

Back in Mystic, I continued my life as a rich person by buying not one, but two hats! The blue fascinator is from Peppergrass and Tulip, an adorable shop that was selling a bunch of different hats and fascinators at really good prices. I'm planning to wear it to a dear friend's wedding in a few weeks. (How do we feel about Americans wearing fascinators at weddings? Am I giving away my pre-teen pretensions about being rich?) The green is a vintage piece from Pennywise, a really great consignment shop with two locations (of course we went to both!). I'm planning to wear it this fall and winter with a red wool coat I love but haven't worn in years. Pennywise had its own section of secondhand Lilly Pulitzer, so it won my heart pretty much instantaneously based on that alone.

Can I move to a coastal town already? I know I'm meant to live on an island...

We had dinner that night at Mystic Pizza, which everyone said was terrible, but which I actually thought was fine. It's a fun little spot with hefty portions, movie memoribilia on the walls, and very friendly service. Shelby and I split the buffalo chicken pizza and I was pretty over the moon about it.

We headed back to the hotel after that, and then I proceeded to spend the next three hours finishing The Lowlands, which was so beautiful and so excellent and I think I'm in love with Jhumpa Lahiri.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We stopped for a quick bite to eat at Kitchen Little, where we sat on the deck overlooking a Marina and ate delicious eggs Benedict over Portuguese sausage.

It was a perfect way to end a lovely trip. Shelby very kindly dropped me off at New Haven (a train station I love!) and we went our separate ways. I had such a fun trip, and it's inspired me to put together a possible New England road trip this fall or winter, up to visit friends in MA and VT. Can't wait!

Tune in tomorrow for Dispatch From, some of my favorite phone photos from this trip!

Friday, July 18, 2014

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Recap of this week on Not Intent On Arriving:
  • My Weekend Wanderings post this week was all about the heavily-edited-with-picmonkey photos! There's a fleck of dust on my parents' point-and-shoot (the one I'm using while Roger has mine in Ivory Coast), and in an attempt to remove the spot from some images, I went a little crazy. Still, it's a great photo editing system for newbies like me, and it was a lot of fun playing around with them. Almost as much fun as visiting Bradley Beach and the Cloisters was.
  • This Writer Wednesday featured Irene Garden, poet, playwright, and children's book author.
  • Yesterday, asked me to write a post about staying fit while traveling. I'm planning to follow at least a little bit of my own advice this weekend, when I go to Mystic, CT with Shelby!
Writing Elsewhere:
  • None. Gotta get on that whole "pitching" business!
Hope you all have a wonderful weekend! If everything goes according to plan, Shelby and will already be on our way to New England by the time this posts. Can't wait to share our adventures with you next week, and if you can't wait that long, I bet I'll be posting some previews on Instagram.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Five Ways to Stay in Shape while Traveling - #TravelFit2014

This fall and summer, marathon training is going to coincide with a good deal of travel. Tomorrow, I leave for a weekend in New England, and I know there will be more trips in the coming weeks. Keeping up with training no matter what isn't easy, but it is important. Here's how I stay in shape without interrupting my trip, overpacking, or emptying my wallet.

Take a Race-cation
One of my favorite ways to travel is (as you can probably tell from all these pictures of me) to sign up for a race in a new place. Knowing that I'm going to be running keeps my eating in line during the days leading up to it, and it's built-in exercise for at least one of the days I'm away. Running is also a great way to see a new place. Many cities have beautiful parks or waterfront bike paths just waiting to be explored! I've taken mini race-cations in Philadelphia, Albany, and Utica, and I'm so excited to add Florida to that list soon! 

Keeping Fit in Albany

Build Fun Exercise into Your Trip
There are so many ways to explore a new place while still keeping your normal healthy lifestyle. If you're near a state park, go for a long hike, breathe some fresh air, and explore nature. If you're at the beach, don't just lounge in the sun drinking a piña colada; hop into the ocean and go for a swim. In the city, forgo a subway or car and take a bike or walk to and from your destinations. You could also consider trying a new type of exercise class. I tried hot yoga for the first time on a trip to Albany and absolutely fell in love. You're already traveling and being adventurous, so why not sign up for that spin class you've always meant to try?

Keeping Fit in Coney Island

Eat Breakfast at Your Hotel
This tip is so handy for those who want to keep in shape and those who just want to save some money. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so you want to make sure you stay on track with it, even while traveling. Depending on your hotel's set-up, you can bring oatmeal packets, cold cereal, or even just an energy bar to nosh on in the morning. It'll keep you from overeating later in the day, and will definitely save you money (and calories!) over eating a big breakfast at a restaurant every morning. Be sure to bring some healthy snacks while you're out, too, and remember that some of the best eats in any place can be found at their farmer's market or on street carts!

Keeping Fit in Beacon

Bring Your Normal Workout with You
If you're really not an outdoors enthusiast, or you're traveling for work, there's still no reason not to keep up your exercise routine. Be sure to book a hotel with a gym and make time in the morning or evening to use it. Roger and I planned to run a whole lot while we were on the West Coast last summer, but we ended up actually only running once, on a hotel treadmill, and it was actually one of my favorite memories from the trip! If you're staying with a friend or at a hostel, download some body-weight only workouts onto your tablet or bring a DVD to use on the go.

Keeping Fit in Philadelphia

Don't Make Yourself Crazy!
This is probably the most important suggestion on here. You're traveling! You're experiencing a new culture, new foods, new attitudes. Give yourself a break and enjoy yourself. If you wake up one morning and don't want to run, it's okay. You're probably walking more than you normally do, anyway. If this is your only chance to try Germknödel, for goodness' sake, do it! (Seriously - do it. It's incredible.) I promise your training won't be hurt too much, and the memories you make will last forever.

This post is part of #TravelFit2014 and inspired by and Aria Las Vegas, who would like me to remind you that there are plenty of ways to stay in shape, even in Sin City. All opinions and suggestions are my own. And while we're at the fine-print, let me just take a moment to say that I'm not a doctor and so you should definitely check in with yours before you start any sort of fitness regimen.