SliceBaby takes the PNW


With year 25 coming to a fast close, I had the sudden realization that I've never taken a "real trip" before.

DISCLAIMER: I am well traveled and have been very lucky with volleyball (high school & college) as well as family getaways to have had some amazing trips in my lifetime.
DISCLAIMER #2: I am not spontaneous and this trip was decided within a week and booked with two weeks before departure date. 

Day 1: Chicago - Seattle

Of course my first pit stop was Whole Foods and then off to the airport with an obligatory travel caffeine pick me up. We ended up staying with a really good family friend (Thanks Karma & John!) which was great to catch up and see their new Seattle home base. Karma had these Angry Orchard Rosé's on hand that I had been wanting to try as well as some CPK pizzas ready to go for us - both pretty damn tasty. 

Day 2: Seattle - Vancouver - Squamish

Of course first thing's first was coffee - I got a match latte & Ethan got a mocha from this cute place Third Culture in Bellevue. We then ventured out way to Vancouver - we were very lucky and hit little to no traffic even crossing the border. After getting some cash switched over we hunted down some food. We couldn't resist the smell of Belgian waffles, so we made a quick stop in Nero for 2 mini Belgian waffles (almond & plain). I could have devoured this whole case. After much debate we finally settled on a lunch spot, Peaked Pies. We got the Butter ChickenIndiana Butter Chicken with a hint of Cayenne & Chunky Pepper SteakChunky steak pieces in a cracked pepper sauce. My first meat pie experience did NOT disappoint.

Then it was time to for some views. We drove across Lions Gate Bridge to Stanley Park to get some great views of Totem Poles & the water. Next stop was my favorite stop of the trip - Lynn Canyon Park. We ended up hiking around this park for a while, but the main showstopper is the suspension bridge. This place was stunning. We continued our drive to Squamish, BC with a few stops on the way - one random lookout where the water was like glass and then another pitstop at Shannon Falls (cue the waterfall). 

After checking into our AirBNB we needed some food - ASAP. Ethan had been recommended this brewery/pizza joint when he was there last in early January so we decided to give it a try. Backcountry Brewing was a hit - small place that fit about 50 people. Their beers were solid & their pies were better...can we also talk about that view?! I got the Sour Bastard Beer, E got the Trailbreaker Pale Ale. For pizzas we got the Margherita - San Marzano tomato sauce, taleggio, fior de latte, parmigiana grana padano, mozzarella & ProsciuttoSan Daniel prosciutto, roasted red pepper, arugula, chili, San Marzano tomato sauce. Let me just say, we left satisfied. I loved everything about this place - especially people watching the townies. Following dinner was a stop at the local Walmart for some essentials - I don't quite know how to explain it but was definitelyy different "food shopping" experience. 

Day 3: Squamish - Whistler

So, if you don't know me - you don't know how uncoordinated of a human being I am. Take the D1 athlete out of it and I am a 6 foot tall Bambi. But...despite my better judgement, I decided to go skiing for the first time at Whistler Blackcomb. With a new ski jacket, Ethan's old ski pants and the rental boots, skis & helmet I was semi ready to go. We made it through a couple bunny hills, one chair lift and one green run....with only a few tears and a lot of patience (on Ethan's end)/ 

That black circle was my home base - we have video...but I am not showing them. 

Whistler also has a Peak2Peak Gondola - which held the world record for the longest free span between ropeway towers— (1.88 miles) until 2017. It is still the highest point above the ground (1,430 feet). Man...was this beautiful. We rode the Gondola across to the Blackcomb mountain, had some chili (not pictured) rode it back, where Ethan then proceeded to ski down the mountain as I rode the Gondola down. 

Last thing, but of course not least was dinner. I had seen Mag's 99  on a few lists but was still a little nervous. Yet again, we were not disappointed. The former Taco Bell / KFC chain kept the tradition with Mexican and fried chicken, but kept the layout as well. We ordered a taco salad & burrito to go. Taco Saladcrispy flour tortilla bowl, lime vinaigrette, crispy romaine, chicken, pico, lime slaw, cheese, guac, beans & salsa. Holy Hell yall - I have never been more satisfied from a taco salad before in my life. The night ended with binge watching ManHunt & eating popcorn in bed. 

Day 4: Squamish - Whistler - Vancouver - Seattle

I tapped out on skiing after one day, so Ethan took the slops and I took the Village. I posted up at this little coffee shop called Lift for yet another Matcha latte. After a couple hours of searching where to go to eat, I walked around and ended up posting up at the bottom of the slopes - it was a BlueBird day as they call it and absolutely perfect. I also got a free beanie from Roots! We were then on the road all the way back to Seattle - with one more view pitstop at the Mt. Tantalus look out.

One more stop in Vancouver for some Asian Fusion at Bao Down's Gastro Pub. The vibe in this place was amazing with old school movie posters & music plus the food was to die for. I got the Same Same but Different - pad thai with cage free eggs & chicken, Ethan got the Fly Rice - cooked sisig style, water chestnuts, herbs, garlic fried rice, XO sauce, sunny egg & chicken. I think I could have ordered everything on that menu. 

One more latte for the road from Blenz Coffee (repeat our Hazelnut Mochas & Matcha latte's all week) to use up the last bit of our Canadian money. Rolling into Seattle, dinner was late night pizza from Big Marios - New York Style.

Day 5: Seattle - Chicago

With very little time in Seattle, we decided to make the most of it and head over to Pike Place. It was a little overwhelming with everything going on, but we ended up at the local diner for an easy breakfast. Sidebar - I am still kicking myself for not going to Honest Biscuit or Biscuit Bitch. We did get away with some amazing dried strawberries & kumquats. 

The obligatory Gum Wall happened with a little gem in the alley - Ghost Alley Espresso for our last latte of the trip. Tucked away in the corner of the alley they made their own syrups and I tried my first oat milk latte. They got bonus points for having some DubbleBubble as we did not plan ahead for our gum debut. 

After a long day of travel and finally getting back to Chicago, we opted for some Pequods deep dish pizza to cap off the weekend...just a casual pizza 4 times out of 5 days! 

Now I have the travel bug...where to next? 



We love our food and the holidays emphasize that with our many traditions. Here's a little run down. 

Tradition Number 1 - Rise No1

Champagne is always a must.
Marshmallow soup (aka - tomato basil soup with mini soufflés and pesto) & French onion soup
Cauliflower & Brie // Truffle Infused Mushroom Soufflés - the chunks of brie were UNREAL
Grand Marnier Soufflé

All of the Beers

Dave's very own kegerator with his home brews
Cedar Creek Brewery drafts 

Fancy AF Cocktails

Henry's Majestic - Eastern Medicine - Scotch, Apple, Citrus, Black pepper ginger reduction
The Porch - American 75 - American Whiskey, Elderflower Liqueur, Fresh Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup, Sparkling Win
Up On Knox - Madame Butterfly - Tito's, grilled pineapple juice, lemon
At the Bedell House - Waterloo Antique Gin

Finding little coffee shops with fun walls 

Houndstooth // Sip & Stir // Oak Lawn Coffee

Miscellaneous Eats

Eatzi's - Build your own sandwich aka HEAVEN
Henry's Majestic - Short Rib Mac & Cheese for the table / calamari / reuben & marrow spiked burger - side bar one of the best burgers I've ever had
The Porch - Pimento Cheese - Wood Grilled Baguette, Country Ham, Arugula
Dave's famous Christmas morning breakfast


Christmas Eve is filled with a dinner spread straight out of Bon Appétit. However this year, cinbeds (mom) decided to switch it up a bit - we went for the twelve days of Christmas. every meal was absolutely amazing

The first day of Christmas my true love sent to me - 
1 - carmelized pear Brie grilled cheese
2 - turtle bean hash
3 - coq au vin tartlet
4 - Mexican mole chicken
5 - onion rings & golden tequila
6 - salmon eggs Benedict
7 - sea bass wrapped in prosciutto & butter sage
8 - tres leches
9 - lady fingers cake
10 - caramel cashew popcorn
11 - blackberry syrup champagne
12 - chocolate pretzel drumsticks


WELL...let the food hangover commence 

Marquee Pizzeria

So here's the thing... I'm in love. 

I think we all know that I have a special place in my heart (and my stomach) for pizza. Whether that be because my food name is "slice baby" or because I have a pizza's an undeniable fact. Anyways, this little place in Marquee has stolen my heart. Okay, I will fess up and say I probably have some sort of bias as one of my good friends is the man behind the madness.  BUT...once I share all of my reasonings you will shortly see this place is purely magic. 

Reason #1: The ambiance. 

You walk in and feel like you've apparated to Little Italy ( I told you it was magical 😉 ). Between the velvet chairs, reclaimed wood, porch lights, and Ninja Turtle posters - you feel at home. Not to mention the floor to ceiling windows & massive garage door, that yes, will be open on beautiful days (like in late November when its 70 degrees). You have the option of the bar, the "head table" (front line to the oven), family style tables, and high or low tops. My favorite spot is the sofa and rustic table to just post up - get comfy, little boozy & very full.

Reason #2: The oven.

Yes, this thing does deserve a reason all to itself. First of's beautiful and such a showstopper. My favorite part about this whole place is that you are able to see whats happening at all times no matter where you are in the restaurant. This beauty is specially ordered from Modena, Italy (home of the Ferrari). It's the real magic maker- as you will see Chef Will and co. slinging some dough, making simple products turn into pure masterpieces. 

Reason #3: The booze. 

When people have been in the biz for a while, they know what people want. Well...people who know their shit (sorry Iowa folks who love their Busch). Don't get me wrong, you'll be able to get all of that...stuff here, but you won't find it on tap. Those 20 taps are saved for the special craft brews - whether you love a classic IPA or a good 'ol stout you'll find something for those taste buds. Not a beer drinker? No problem, there are a handful of red, whites, and cocktails for you to choose from. Oh and the man behind the magic? He has a thing for some good don't be afraid to ask for some of that. Now we all know what you're interested in...the happy hour. Every day, from 3-6pm - wine by the glass, canned beer (calling all you domestic drinkers) and select drafts are two for one. 

Reason #4: The people. 

Another disclaimer - I was a waitress at Blackstone for four years and those people become your family. Now, three people from this family are housed at Marquee. But again, I have some unbiased reasonings. Let's start with the pizza master - Anthony Falco aka Falco aka @millennium_falco - an International Pizza Consultant, founder of Roberta's in NY. Once I heard he would be consulting for Marquee's pies I was itching to meet him...and he lived up to the expectation. I absolutely loved observing him teaching all things 'za and seeing how the perfectionism came so naturally. Everyone else on board front of house & kitchen are great people. They always greet you with a smile on their face and ready to serve you the best eats.

Reason #5: The menu

I mean, lets be real - you should never neglect yourself of some pizza...BUT there is plenty to offer incase you're staying away. It's broken down by Garden & Market, Not Pizza and Pizza (we will get to the pizza later). My all time favorite non-pizza item are the brussels - cranberries, pancetta, hazelnuts, and a calabrian honey mustard. I'm not kidding yall, I will burn my mouth every time I order this dish because I simply can NOT wait. Another gem...the brick o mozza - and they aren't kidding. Imagine a mozzarella stick in a massive brick form. They also offer some other green dishes, a burger, cheese & meat plates, fries, burger, and pasta dishes. Now I haven't been able to try everything, but by the looks of it - the tastiness flows across all dishes. 

 Reason #6: THE ZA!

I know it's taken me a while, but save best for last right?!
How do you like it...Classic? Spicy? Cheeseless? Cheesy? Nontraditional? They've got you covered. 


The basic bitch who always gets invited - "Margherita"


Tastes like home - "Grandma's Hands"


Sweet & Spicy - "Sweet Angelo" - pickled chillies & hot honey are the kickers.


No Cheese, No Problem - "The Falco" (self explanatory) - Chunks of garlic & pork sausage steal the show. 


Brussels & Pizza = "Brusselmania" knew I had to love this one. 


You like mushrooms? The Wulfy - "Wulfenstein" is for you. 


Fall is calling - "Squashed" - don't forget the goat cheese 

The one's untasted - Young Cheezy (the white pizza of everyone's dreams); Coppa Cabana (the pasta pizza sans noodles) and Spicy Pie (need I say more). 


This was a lot of words, but it's simple as this. Do you like pizza? Go to Marquee. 


Who knew drinking in the streets could be so much fun...

Iowa City Downtown District always has something going on - different festivals multiple times a year to get the community together. These festivals have lots of activities, beer gardens, food carts, and live music. This year, they threw one for the books...the Downtown Block Party. 

This "party" had lots of activities including a sand volleyball tournament, dueling pianos, a fashion show, ping pong tables, tether ball, and so much more...ALL in the streets of our downtown. Here's a glimpse at the layout of the whole day...oh and did I mention the best part?! YOU COULD DRINK IN THE STREETS!!

All you had to do is purchase a $10 cup, receive a wristband, and then you could purchase a drink from one of the outside vendors. A lot of the restaurants had tables set up selling food & booze...well beer & wine only. 

Like I mentioned there was a lot to do and see - like an on going beach volleyball tournament in the middle of the streets. I opted out of playing, but it was fun to long as you weren't getting hit in the head by a wild serve. 

First stop was outside of Java House for Clinton Street Social Club's $1 oysters...yup, you read that right. ONE DOLLAR. It was Ethan's first time to give them a try, I think it may have been his last. BUT, I sure enjoyed mine. 

Our go to for the night was Pullman's frosé. Probably one of the "pricier" options of the night, but $7 for a cocktail is never bad in my book. I think we each had 3 of these...damn it was great. 

Next up was PiZan Pizza. This is a new joint in town where you order Subway style - pick what you want and they cook it right there. We went with the Average Joe - red sauce, fresh mozzi, Graziano's sausage, Citterio pepperoni, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, 86 mushrooms (not my choice). Overall solid quick pie...and it was under $10. 

E was still a little hungry so he went for Mama's Deli . He grabbed two tacos - pulled pork and chicken. 

The best part about this event was that there was always something to do and people to see. I'm always a fan when I get to see this gem of a human and all of her Iowa City friends...

This was one hell of an event. Great food & drinks, plenty of things to do, being able to be free and walk around with some frosé in hand, while chatting with everyone around! I think they thought of it all, they even had FREE parking until 10 am the next day to allow peeps to leave their cars and get them the next day, safety first!


Big Grove Iowa City

For all of yall that aren't in the Iowa City area - let me fill ya in....downtown IC is constantly growing. Every time I find myself heading that way, there is something being constructed. Usually I'm only semi-curious, however when I heard Big Grove was opening up a location in Iowa City, I was more than just curious - I was pumped. Time had gone by and in all honesty, I forgot it was happening until the day had come that it was open.

Let me start off by telling you this place is beautiful & huge. Formally a warehouse, space is not a problem, plus there are pingpong tables to pass the time as well as a killer stage for live bands. I mean can we talk about that wood wall & graphic - LOVE IT! 

I went for the PRALINES & RICHARD (10.5% abv - oops) and it was perfection. It's described as: Richard the Whale with roasted pecans and almonds combine with the vanilla from the barrel. That's how you get our play on a famous ice cream flavor. 

The food set up is a little different based off of international street food. You also go up to order & pay for food and then receive a buzzer to know when your food is ready. I can imagine there will be some haters about this - but I am a major fan. 

We wanted to try a bit of everything so we went for - chips & guac, pollo chipotle & pork belly tacos, & the pastrami sandwich (House made pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island, rye bread)

The tacos - top: pollo chipotle tacos (Roasted chicken thigh, chipotle sauce, pepitas, cojita cheese, white onion, cilantro wrapped in a housemade corn tortilla) & bottom: pork belly tacos (crispy Pork belly, adobo, slow simmered salsa verde, grilled pineapple, white onion, & cilantro wrapped in a housemade corn tortilla)

Holy Hell - these were good. The pollo chipotle was just a tad spicy for Ethan & I since we have very baby spice levels. The pork belly was unreal though - so flavorful. Also, I love the corn tortillas, they were thin but held everything together and obviously home made. 

The guac & pastrami sandwich :  (House made pastrami, swiss cheese, sauerkraut, thousand island, rye bread)

Guacamole is self explanatory - but it was damn good. The pastrami (which we were interested in because the house made pastrami at Big Grove Solon is AMAZING) was so good. I usually stay away from things with swiss and sauerkraut but this gooey mess was worth every single bite. 

I can't wait for the summer where beers & outdoors are what fill my day to day. this will definitely be a new hot spot for me, as well as many people in iowa city.