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This artificial intelligence photo thing kept showing up in my IG feed and one night I decided to play around with it. Super fun, slightly creepy, definitely badass. Some of the images the app created looked a lot like me. Wild. 
Yes, I'm writing about it again...
I finally had the chance to have a meal at Marta, the latest restaurant darling in Butchers Hill – and it was very, very good. Highly recommend. The menu is the same for lunch and dinner and reservations are easier to get for lunch, so my friend and I decided to do that since we both had time off for the holidays. The pastas are all housemade and the dishes are creative, flavorful and to me, meant to be shared – get a few so you can try more!

The Caesar salad is incredible, you really must have it. Garlic chips! I wish I could have ordered the beef tartare. If you know me, you know I LOVE a good tartare. This one is different because chef/owner Matt Oetting mixes diced roasted beet in with the beef, so you get an unexpected little slightly sweet tang with each bite. Next time!

Also, I had my first espresso martini in a million years (last one was at La Scala about 10 years ago) and Marta's is really lovely. Smooth, a little bitter, a little sweet. I am not a fan of food and drink trends, so I am fairly sure I hadn't had an espresso martini lately simply out of spite. Hahaha. That said, it was really, really good. 
I love a hotel bar. I really do.
Another new place. And, another one I was waiting to visit until they had a few months under their belt. Another hit for me. 

Earlier this week, my friend and I were looking for a place to get some grown up drinks during the day on Saturday. It was also New Year's Eve, so some places that usually have daytime Saturday hours had adjusted their schedules for the holiday. When I thought about places, Hotel Ulysses kept coming to mind, so I looked to see that the hours are for their two bars, Ash Bar was our only option. Turns out I liked that option very much! 

We met there at 1:00 and we ordered cocktails and a snack to share...then, we needed actual food and we split a perfect Croque Madame from the weekend breakfast menu. If we had gone later, we could have ordered from the Apertivo menu (starts at 4:00pm) and I think I might do that next time. I LOVE SNACKS. Plus, there's something very cool about sitting in an elegant, dark bar during daylight hours. 

Everyone has been freaking out about Bloom's – the cocktail bar inside the Ulysses (opposite side of the lobby from Ash Bar) and I did take a little peek inside when I went to the restroom. I'm guessing you have seen photos? (
Check it out on Instagram.) It's wild. I quickly realized that Ash Bar is more my speed, a completely classic hotel bar. I can't wait to go back for dinner. This could become a new go to.
 Thinking back, seeing the good, hopeful for the year ahead
As I looked back at this past year this weekend, I was pleasantly reminded of the GOOD parts of my life this year. (It often feels easier to dwell on the not-so-good staff, you know?) 

I finally was able to get out and see some friends in person,  did a couple of weekend getaways, saw my family, cooked new things, kept writing my newsletter, had my first
national byline (!!) and fully embraced cat owner life. And . . . at the end of the year, I started a new job. Thankful does not cover that one. Beyond. Big, big thanks to my friends who checked in, sent me leads, invited me to coffee, introduced me to colleagues, all of it. Thank youuuuuu. 

I hope to keep these positive thoughts going into the next year. Can we? I don't make resolutions, I never have. Too much pressure of falling short and disappointing yourself. I'm more of a "just do your best" kind of person. I always liked that line in Sex & the City about being raised in "the church of be nice to people and don't talk with your mouth full". Let's start there. 

I really hope 2023 is good to you. And don't beat yourself up if you struggled this year. Man, I did – a lot. And, everyone's challenges are different. Don't compare lives. Do your best and remember to be kind to yourself.

(photo cred: Tracey Brown of Paper Camera for Baltimore Magazine)
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Coming soon – three new categories on my Dining Guide!

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Amy Langrehr
Charm City Cook
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