Since Valentine's Day was last week, I thought I would take this post to discuss love. Not love of a person or a place, but the love I have for my suitcase.
Okay, I know it sounds crazy but when you travel a lot, a good suitcase is a necessity. After having a not-so-great suitcase, I'm a firm believer that everyone should invest in good luggage, regardless of how often you travel.
First, I'll share the five reasons why I love my suitcase so much. Then, I'll tell you about my Valentine's Day dinner.
I was in my mid-20's when I decided that I should buy a real suitcase of my very own. I found a lovely, bright pink set of three for about $60. I thought it was an amazing bargain and figured that with a color that unique, I would spot it in baggage claim in an instant.
This worked okay for a while, but then I got a job where I had to travel a couple of times a month. Very quickly, the carry-on sized bag that I now used exclusively, aka Little Pink, started to fall apart. Because it was cheap material, it ripped, got scuffed easily and was impossible to clean. The wheels started squeaking - loudly - and became difficult to roll. The final straw was when the retractable handle was no longer retractable. You don't win any popularity contests by putting your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment sideways with the handle sticking out. It was time to upgrade.
As much as I was coveting a Tumi, that was out of my budget so it came down to a Briggs & Riley or a Victorinox. I went down to my local luggage store to check them out in person and ultimately decided on the Victorinox. I wish I could say that there was an intelligent reason for that but the deciding factor was that it came in red.
Ultimately, it was a great pick for me and after five years, I would still make the same choice. Here are the five reasons why I love my luggage so much:
1. Style - This is important to most people and this suitcase is stylish in a way that Little Pink never was. Better luggage companies build better looking bags, just like Ferrari’s look better than Fords.
2. Purpose-built - Little Pink had two outside zip pockets and the inside space. My new bag has two outside zip pockets, a mesh pocket inside for smaller items, a detachable suit insert, a small strap to attach another bag to the front of the case and a bungee-type strap to secure something to the top of the case. Besides all of this, it's expandable. I almost exclusively use it as a carry-on but if I need a bigger bag, I can get another 2.5" out of it.
3. Durability - The material is much stronger, doesn't rip and cleans up easier. The handles are stronger, the zipper is sturdier and it’s just built much better.
4. Wheels - To me, wheels are so important that they get their own listing. I didn’t realize how bad the wheels were on my old suitcase until I got my new one. What a difference! I felt like I was gliding on air. I’m in an airport about once a week so this makes a huge difference to me. If you travel less, you’re probably concentrating a lot more on finding your gate, the restroom and where to get a snack. If your suitcase rolls along nicely without having to drag it behind you, it will make your travel experience a little nicer.
5. Warranty - This is the icing on the cake. My current Victorinox is the third one I've had, even though I only purchased one. I put a lot of miles on my bags and sometimes things can happen. Things like having a heavy laptop bag attached when the bag falls over and the retractable handle bends. Or a dog chewing a hole in the mesh bag when they try to eat your toothpaste. Or closing the suitcase too quickly and getting plastic from your shoe bag stuck in the zipper. Things like this may have happened to my suitcase so I’ve had to send it in for repair - twice. Both times, they decided to send me a brand new suitcase instead of fixing my old one. The cost – whatever it was to ship it to them.
Overall, I can't recommend this enough. I promise I don't work for the company! If you want to get one of your own, you can get one here at my local luggage store. They also happen to be a Victorinox authorized repair center. You can get it here on Amazon.com.
Stratford, CT is not a place that is top of mind when it comes to amazing food, especially in southwest Connecticut. However, I know of one place that is absolutely amazing and that is where the BF took me for Valentine’s Day.
Biagio's is an Italian restaurant in a shopping plaza and by the looks of it, you would never guess how great it is. The pasta is all homemade, the food is delicious and the service is excellent. It’s also where we had our first date so it’s got the nostalgia factor for us on top of all that.
It was a special occasion and I’m a gourmand, so I pigged out! We started with the cheese sampler, which is fresh mozzarella, buffalo mozzarella and burrata, all made in house. The buffalo was my favorite! We also had the antipasto plate because nothing makes the BF happier than cold cuts. It was a nice selection of mortadella, sopressata and prosciutto along with roasted peppers and mushrooms. So far, off to a good start!
For the main course, he had the Italian sausage, broccoli rabe and homemade orecchiette. This is one of his favorites and he thinks it's best prepared here. Although Italian sausage isn't my favorite, I can appreciate the flavors of this dish - the sweetness of the sausage pairs well with the bite of the broccoli rabe.
I chose their fruiti di mare – shrimp, scallops and clams cooked perfectly in a tomato sauce with shells. The homemade pasta really makes a difference in a dish like this. It was so good, I wanted to lick my plate. If I were home, I probably would!
By this point, I was completely stuffed. However, dessert was non-negotiable. Our waiter, Primo, talked me into going with the dark chocolate bread pudding. I love bread pudding but I’ve had it made with dark chocolate before and it’s been too bitter. Primo told me that I would love their version of it so I took a chance and am so glad I did. It had just enough sweetness, great chocolate flavor with zero bitterness and with vanilla ice cream on top, it was perfection!
Bottom line, Biagio’s is worth the drive to Stratford. Check out their menu here. They work with Open Table, which make reservations easy. Make sure to ask for Primo when you get there.
I hope everyone had as delicious of a Valentine’s Day as I did!