Category Archives: Travel

Best of 2010

Is it really New Years again? What a year. Looking back at some of the greatest moments–the laugh till you cry, cry till it hurts, and then laugh all over again moments–I feel really fortunate. Here’s what comes to mind when I think of the greatest moments of 2010 (and warning, this is a photo packed post):

Southern Italy & Hiking the Path of the Gods from Amalfi to Positano on an empty stomach.. err bread and gelato. The free roaming goats, cliff-side grapevines, lush green mountains and crystal clear water, with breathtaking views of Capri and the Mediterranean. I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. And I had great company, cracking my up the whole four hours with ridiculous jokes.. spaghetti and blankets anyone?

Then there was the night in Alberobello.. a one bar town. We managed to befriend locals and attempted to tell jokes (language and culture barriers made it all the more interesting). I’ll never forget how hard I laughed at Joe’s attempt to tell the bicycle joke in Italian. Priceless.

Cooking with my girls. No longer living with my besties. I’ll always remember the 2 1/2 years we shared in our Magnolia townhouse, and all the “counter talk” nights we spent propped up on the kitchen counters sharing wine and dishing girl talk.


Going to a Minnesota Vikings away game. I love my boys, and was happy to fly from Seattle to New England and cheer my heart out in the presence of Patriot fans. No. Shame. Andi and I even sported full on purple and gold– including tutus (It was, after all, Halloween). Pats fans turned out to be a great bunch to tailgate with. Fabulous time! Sorry that neither of us have Randy Moss now. I do forever heart him.

Time with family.
Whether home in eastern Washington or visiting mama in Boise, I loved being with my family. I loved wine tasting in the RV last summer with grandma driving(!), the late nights on grandma and grandpa’s deck having heart-to-hearts, playing Scrabble where the Urban Dictionary flies as real words ūüėČ floating the river, fishing with the kids, barbecuing… all great times.


Hiking Mount Vesuvius of Pompeii, and later laying in the grass amongst the ancient Roman city of Erculano.. imagining life in 79AD. Not too shabby if you were Roman (and wealthy).

Bologna, Italy–I learned the craft of handmade pasta spending a day in Maribel’s home–drinking Prosecco, stuffing tortellini, and sharing our passion for food talk. I also loved the opportunity to CouchSurf with a great group of Italian guys who were so much fun, and happy to entertain and feed me every night! I can’t wait to return the favor in The States. Bologna is a beautiful city to photograph, and it has a reputation for having the best food in Italy. Truly a foodie’s paradise. The open air markets, the endless selection of fresh pasta, cured meats, real Parma cheese, and fabulous Modena balsamic. I can’t wait to return.

Prague Half Marathon–although my flight getting to Prague turned into quite the fiasco I now have an awesome story tell.. which may or may not involve missing an airplane, boarding a train with a bottle of Prosecco, making friends people who didn’t speak English and then waking up in Rome after having falling asleep on an old Austrian guy’s shoulder. Maybe. Either way I still made it to Prague the next morning, in time for a baguette breakfast and a 1:57:22 half marathon time (and a rolled ankle at kilometer 19 due to cobblestones, but that’s a longer story: here). Hooray for running!! Also, Prague is stunning, and Anthony Bordaine tells no lie: the street street food is “the bomb”, as are pub crawls. ūüôā

I ran my first full, 26.2 mile marathon!!!!
This was my top fitness goal for 2010 and I am proud to say that I did it! And I can’t wait to do it again. Bellingham Bay Marathon was an incredibly beautiful run, and what a feeling to accomplish something so huge. Yes, Jess, we are rockstars!

And of course, being in the kitchen is on the list. Doing what I love most: cooking, baking and sharing the love.

I truly had a good year. What does 2011 hold? Graduating with my nutrition and dietetics degree, starting the next chapter of my life, culinary school, another marathon, a couple half marathons, and hopefully the opportunity to explore another country (like cheese making in the Greek Isles.. maybe). Happy New Year everyone!!!

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Greek Eats

One who cannot travel, cooks. So here I am. It’s November, and it’s been seven months since my last adventure abroad. I’m antsy, anxious, and ready for something exciting. BUT, and that’s a big but, I have to sit tight a while longer and figure out what in the world I’m doing after graduation. Granted I did just return from Boston.¬†I had a blast and am trying on the idea of moving bicoastal.¬†Its a little scary. I feel like my life could go a hundred different directions and I just need to close my eyes and jump. I’m not exactly digging my heels in, but if any of those roads happened to lead to Italy I would be packed by sunrise!¬†That hasn’t happened yet, so¬†in the meantime I’ll travel vicariously through cooking. This week I felt like going to Greece. Care to join me?

I love Saveur magazine (and you knew that). Every issue makes me feel as if I’m taking¬†a vacation. I can pour a glass of wine, cook, read it cover-to-cover, and wake up feeling like it was real. Magical, maybe that’s the wine, but I don’t care. My zen night started with Feta stuffed chilis..

Feta Stuffed Peppers
10 red jalapenos
9 oz crumbled feta
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T Greek yogurt
1 T fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp dried oregano
2 egg yolks
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

First, half the peppers, seed¬†them and roast¬†under the broiler¬†for 5 minutes. Next, mix all ingredients, except Parmesan. Stuff the peppers and return under broiler for 5 minutes. You can sprinkle with Parmesan (I did, but next time I think I’ll omit the extra cheese. They’re just as delicious without).

Next on the menu…

Roasted Rosemary Chicken
1 small chicken
8 garlic cloves
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T Dijon mustard
15 sprigs fresh rosemary

This chicken was succulent, simple and delicious. That’s all I have to say. Start by salting the chicken. Set it aside¬†and mix in the food processor: garlic, lemon juice, oil, and mustard. Puree. Rub mixture all over the chicken and let stand at room temperature for¬†one hour. Set chicken over a bed of rosemary in a roasting pan and cook, uncovered, at 500 degrees. After 20 minutes reduce heat to 350 degrees and cover, continue cooking for about¬†45 minutes.¬†Flip chicken halfway through cooking.

Wine pairing? Well I’m no expert but I did enjoy a nice Pinot Noir. A light red for a full evening of gastronomic deliciousness. The peppers were good for nibbling while me and the roommate caught up on our¬†girl time¬†over a little vino.¬†Dinner was perfect. The night was peaceful. It was just what I needed to recover from my whirlwind trip¬†to Boston.¬†Listening to the soothing sound of Seattle rain pecking at the ground was a perfect reminder of how I love fall. Aaahh, it feels good to catch up on relaxation. I hope your weekend is just as sweet (and savory).

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Filed under Recipes, Travel

Saveur Magazine & Spicy Lamb Stew

And I do mean spicy!!¬†So I¬†have¬†a confession to make. This may come as a surprise, but I am a cooking magazine junkie connoisseur of exquisitely written recipes and culinary eye candy. It’s my thing. Over the weekend I was helping a friend move a bed when I discovered a stack of Saveur magazines in her garage. Oh yes, that was the end of me helping with the move. I found myself shoes off and feet up surrounded by pages of mouth-watering goodness. What could be better, right? The first magazine I opened I instantly flipped to an eight page article, “In Deepest Italy”. It was all about food in the southern¬†region of Basilicata, with a photo of Matera. Before I¬†knew it was Matera all I could think was “I have to go there”, and then I realized I’ve already been there. Well now I want to¬†go again! It’s charming, romantic and without another english speaking soul (which is delightfully frustrating to be honest). But that’s when I knew.. I knew I was going to have to subscribe to Saveur. It doesn’t matter how many cooking magazines I subscribe to, or how long it takes me to get through all of them. Its my thing, and therefore I must have it.

As I read this article I found myself wanting to sit and share a¬†bottle of wine with the journalist.¬†This New Yorker¬†understands Italy the same¬†way that I do!¬†Yes, the food really is¬†all that, but it’s so much more than food. It’s the meaning behind it; the way history¬†is told, traditions are¬†rendered, and families bound. It’s the intoxicating¬†aromas and boisterous gatherings that make¬†Italian food culture different than any other place on earth. Its¬†captivating. Francise¬†Prose said¬†¬†“what I like about Italian food is its confident simplicity, the cooks’ intensely personal, multigenerational, positively spiritual relationship with good local ingredients.. It’s slow food for sure, except that it has never been fast”.

Okaaaaaay, don’t get me started on slow food or I’ll never stop, but in a final¬†word, slow food is a movement that I whole-heartedly support. There. I said it. Now on to dinner. In this gold mine of a magazine I found a recipe for Pignata di Agnello (aahem, lamb stew). It would be absolutely divine just as it is, however, I did make a couple changes to the recipe for the sake of cutting fat. Fat, not flavor mind you.

Pignata di Agnello (adapted from Saveur magazine, May 2009 issue)
1 1/2 lbs 3 lbs boneless, trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 2″ cubes
2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
5 oz pecorino cheese, shavings
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 lb spicy salami, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 T 2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
4 sprigs thyme (or 8… no harm done)
2 carrots, peeled and cut 1/4″ thickness
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 head curly endive or escarole, chopped
2 dried red chili peppers

First off, I wanted to keep the authenticity of a Basilicata dish by making it spicy (I omitted the salami for the sake of getting into my skinny jeans tomorrow),¬†but that’s why I amped up the chili heat. True southern Italian cooking is all about the peppers, but forewarning, this stew was hot. Maybe try half the heat if you have a low tolerance for spicy foods. Toss all the¬†ingredients into a dutch oven, add 2 1/4 cups water, and bake for 2 1/2 hours on 325F, or until the meat and potatoes are falling apart. Mmmm… the house smelled like¬†fall in no time. It was perfect for Monday Night Football at home with my bestie.

Well¬†I loved hearing about all the things you look forward to in the fall! Pumpkin seems to be a favorite. So tell me, what’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? I¬†crave¬†pumpkin butter in my oats in the fall. Its delish with a dash of cinnamon, or creamy pumpkin soup, pumpkin filled ravioli.. the list could go on and¬†on. Can’t wait to be inspired by some of your favorite concoctions..

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Summertime Southern Cooking

Southern Italian that is.¬†Dinner last night was¬†fresh orecciette pasta with¬† roasted cherry tomatoes, arugula and shaved Parmesan. It was sensational (if I do say so myself). And I must say, I know I’m going through Italy withdrawals when all I can think about is making pasta. Yesterday, while I was running, my mind was replaying memories from Puglia, which is the region of the orecciette, and it made me ‘homesick’. So what better way to cure the blues than to slip into an apron?

First things first, wine! While oogling wines at Whole Foods I decided on a Barbera, this is afterall an Italian dish. This wine was mighty fine, although after reading the label I couldn’t help but think it was marketed just for Americans. The backside label says it pairs nicely with meats, cheeses, burgers and ribs. When’s the last time you had burgers or ribs in Italy??! My point exactly.¬†However,¬†still a¬†favoloso¬†red, and I’m kind of partial to old vines. The history on Barberas reaches back to the midieval times. Quite romatic if you ask me. ūüôā

SO, pasta. If you recall, my last pasta-making post was referencing Emiglia-romagna, the region¬†famoso for egg noodles. However, southern Italians make pasta with only flour and water. The orecchiette is a very common pasta in the south. You can find women sitting out in the sun, no doubt gossiping, while pressing little orecchiette rounds. I did a bit of experimenting with my dough. I substituted half the semolina flour for almond meal. My intention was to add a rich, nutty flavor,¬†while boosting¬†the¬†healthy Omega fatty acids and protein content. I don’t know that¬†it made much of a difference in taste, but you can rest assured that the nutritonal value is improved! And just to put you in the cooking¬†mood, here are a few photos I took in Puglia..

 

Do you feel like you’re in Italy yet? Buonissimo!! Time to tie on that apron and pour yourself a glass of Barbera. Next..

Orecchiette with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula & Shaved Parmesan
65g almond meal (1/2 c)
100g semolina flour (1/2 c)
1/2 tsp salt
2 oz warm water
8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup arugula
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1 T olive oil
1 tsp Herbs de Provance
salt & pepper to taste

Mix dry ingredients, and add water to mixture a little at a time. Once it reaches dough consistency roll it out onto floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Split the batch into two balls and roll each into ropes of 1/2″ diameter thickness. Cut 1/4″ thick slices off the rope and squeeze dough into little rounds. Let stand for 15 minutes and then flip so that pasta can dry on opposite side for 15 minutes. Next, press your thumb into center of the round. Let stand for 1 hour, then reincorporate thumb press. Let stand another 2 hours. Once dried, cook in boiling water for 6-7 minutes, strain. Cool pasta in refrigerator. While pasta is¬†cooling, char tomato halves under the broiler for 10 minutes. Assemble: pasta, tomatoes, fresh arugula, cheese, oil and spices. Simple, elegant, and you feel like you’ve just stepped into another place in time.

Do you make a dish taht reminds you of your favorite place? Or a dish that takes you down memory lane? I’d love to hear about it!

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Filed under Healthy Cooking/Eating, Indulgences, Recipes, Travel, Wine

No Place Like Home

Isn’t it great to spend time with family? I was able to visit my mom and her husband at their beautiful new home outside Boise last week. I haven’t lived in¬†Idaho since I was 10 years old. I haven’t even been there in 5 years, but now that the ‘rents retired back¬†in cowboy country it was time to make a visit. Being there brought back so many great memories. It was really nice. And let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how old you get, home is always where your mama is.

Every day I woke up to blue skies, coffee on (thank you Paul!!), and just a nice, crisp morning. We had my cousins (10 and 6 years old) visiting also. They were such a hoot! I never grew up with sisters so seeing them interact was entertaining. We had a blast taking them all over doing things me and my brothers used to do at their age: the Boise Zoo, swimming at Eagle Island, Sunday school. My mom is so creative with kids crafts too. She kept¬†the girls¬†busy with painting projects, tye-diing, and my favorite… cooking! Lasagna turned out to be the perfect dish for having little helpers. Rhianna stood on a stool and browned the sausage while I helped Caitlyn chop onions, mince garlic. We cracked an egg in the ricotta cheese and seasoned it.¬†Then spiced up the marinara sauce.. everyone put on their imaginary chef hat as we taste tested. And finally, assembly time! Voila..

While the lasagna was baking we made a big salad,¬†ingredients straight¬†from mom’s garden. Mmmm..¬†The girls got to choose which veggies they wanted in their salads (which worked¬†pretty well). Turns out Rhianna loves carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers, and Caitlyn likes carrots and onions. What kid likes onions?! Unfortunately they weren’t fond of my homemade vinegarette.. so mom sprayed Ranch dressing on their salads and then they were happy campers. I guess fine dressing is a grown-up taste. ūüėČ Dinner was amazing.¬†The lasagna was a¬†tad bit spicy for Rhianna.. Maaaaybe I did get a little carried away with red pepper flakes. Clearly I¬†don’t cook for children often. (In my house, the hotter the better).

Just when I thought our work was done I was reminded that I promised we’d bake cookies. Oh yeah. I was so full from lasagna that I felt like I needed to change into my yoga pants, but the girls still had room for dessert!! Must be a kid thing, no que for fullness. So I walked off dinner while my little helpers cleaned the kitchen, and we rondevu’ed an hour later for dessert. More great entertainment. Rhianna cracks a mean egg. Caitlyn is quite the mix master, and before we even rolled the balls out on cookie sheets they had to know how many cookies they could have before bed (I think this was their determining factor for how big to make the dough balls!!) Haha..

Here’s a quick slideshow recap of the rest of the weekend. Can’t wait to be back with the family for the Fourth..

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Cooking in Bologna

I had the pleasure of spending my last days in Italy in the heart of Emiglia-Romagna, in the city of Bologa. It was not on a whim that I chose Bologna. It was actually with much consideration. We all know Italy for their excellence in the¬†culinary arts, but I wanted to know, where do Italians say the best food is? The answer: Emiglia-Romagna. So that’s where I went. I wanted to experience the most delectable cuisine in all of Italy, and then I wanted to learn how to make it!


Well there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that I found the food in Bologna to be absolutely heavenly. The bad news is that I’m certain I would never find these ingredients in Seattle. This region has a number of culinary jewels for which they are famous. Modena for their balsamic vinegar, Parma is the land of ham and cheese (better known as Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano-Reggiano), Bologna is where egg noodles originated, and they are¬†known for their mortadella stuffed tortellini¬†in¬†broth,¬†as well as their rag√Ļ sauce. Mmmmmm!!!!!

I spent a couple days just walking the open air markets, sampling everything from mortadella and¬†prosciutto, to¬†mozarella, parmigiano, fresh¬†strawberries, grapes..¬†The market appealed to my tastebuds first, but it also appealed to the blogger in me.¬†I’ve been taking pictures of food for so long now that if feels normal, but judging by some of the smirks I got.. maybe it’s not. Oh well, I’m a tourist! Besides, who can resist photographing a basket of beautiful artichokes, or fresh handmade pasta that is out of this world gorgeous?! Certainly not I! ūüôā


Hungry yet? Well I sure worked up an appetite. My favorite kind of shopping is afterall grocery shopping. ūüėČ So it was¬†day three in Bologna when I finally got to put on an apron and try my hand at some Italian cooking. Good old fashioned hand-rolled pasta.. and starting with the basics– traditional Bolognese tortellini. I searched online for a course that would fit me, and I stumbled across Taste of Italy (which came highly recommended by¬†other travelers on Trip Advisor). I can’t tell you how much I loved cooking with Maribel. She¬†is so sweet and very personable. I really enjoyed learning about Italian traditions, history of regional¬†foods, and talking all kinds of nutrition. It was like spending the day with an old¬†friend. One phrase she taught me that I just loved was “appena basta”. Apparently cookbooks were uncommon in Italy, most recipes have been passed down from generation to generation, varying with every cook. The reason recipes vary? Because many ingredients are called for in “appena basta” , meaning “just enough”. Well I can see how my¬†rag√Ļ¬†might be totally different than the next cook’s!! Appena basta, hhmm, I like it!¬†¬†We spent the morning rolling out fresh pasta (just eggs and flour), preparing our stuffing of mortadella, proscutto, and¬†well aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, and making our broth from stock. The process was very relaxing, but also labor intensive.¬†I¬† see now¬†why Italian women make a social out of it.. well besides the fact that cooking is just way more fun with friends.¬† On my next trip to Bologna I will definitely be revisiting Maribel. ūüôā



And that kind of wraps up my trip! I hope you have enjoyed reading my travel stories. I enjoyed writing about them.. It gave me the opportunity to reminisce while the experiences are still fresh in my memory.¬†Have you taken a cooking class on vacation? What is your most memorable travel experience? Next post, back to real life– Seattle. The joys of losing vacation “fluff” and ooooh how my body hates weight training right now. Time to kick it into gear for summer. Goodnight bloggers!!

 

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Fruit & Veggie Binge

You know you’ve been on vacation tooo long when you start craving fruit and veggies something fierce! I am pretty set in my ways when it comes to the way I eat. Not in a boring way, but I don’t even think about it anymore. Some things you just don’t tamper with. For example, I love my morning oats and coffee. I don’t know how Europeans get by with a pastry and espresso shot.¬†If nothing else I¬†need that time to sit and savor. It helps me start my day right.

Traveling throws a wrench into meal planning. I am certainly not complaining. I think we all know how much I love pasta. Oh yes, but at some point I started craving those whole foods. I wanted a juicy Honeycrisp apple, a pear, a salad, cucumbers.. isn’t it funny how our body knows what we’re lacking? Mine was like, “Ugh, Carissa, this whole carb laoding thing. It’s getting old”.

So this week I have been a total fruit and veggie gluton; grilled asparagus lathered in garlic paste and red pepper flakes, steamed broccoli with mushrooms and¬†lemon pepper, breakfast apples, lunch apple, fresh strawberries (which are quite gigantuous right now), banana oats, and ooooooh salads galore! And I must say, I’m quite the happy camper now. ūüôā

Another thing I really missed was my exercise routine. Okay I didn’t miss it at first. I have to admit, waking up and knowing you’re going to walk all day, it doesn’t really make me want to go pound the pavement for an hour. BUT.. when I started noticing my Seven jeans weren’t exactly caressing my curves (more like just barely containing them) I knew I was ready for a run. I had to laugh out loud. I mean, it’s vacation!!! I would be disappointed with myself if I hadn’t gained a few pounds. ūüėČ

 

My half marathon in Prague was a good time and a great¬†experience. If you’re a runner I highly recommend trying an international race. It was really different from anything I’d run in the U.S. or Canada. I’ll start by explaining why I flew to Prague to run a half marathon. I love to run. I love to travel. I imagined myself flying into this beautiful city and seeing it for the first time while racing with thousands of passionate athletes. Doesn’t that sound just… romantic? I thought so. I thought if I were going to fall in love with Prague this would be the moment. So getting in didn’t happen quite as planned. I missed a plane from Bologna to Prague which ultimately cost me a whole day.¬†In one day I¬†traveled between¬†3 airports, took¬†4 trains, 3 taxis and¬†2 buses, all this before arriving in Czech. Instead of flying to Prague at 10am from Bologna I ended up flying at 10pm from Rome. Yeah, how about that. So I arrived in Prague at 2am. The next morning I took myself down to where the race started, and to my surprise, Europeans were strolling in in heels and coattails. Okay, maybe not coattails, but they were waaaaay over dressed to be running. Not only were they overdressed, but there was a tent set up serving pre-race alcoholic beverages. Really? How bizzarre, but you know what they say, “When in Rome”. So I had myself a spiced wine, it warmed me up quite nicely. ūüôā The next thing I noticed were Europeans having pre-race massages. This was¬†out in the open and most were¬†in their underwear. Again, are you serious? Never in America. So I passed on the massage. Tempting, but one bad spa experince has already scarred me for life. The race itself was great. My only concern was that we were running on cobblestone streets… for 13.1 miles! There was a lot of great energy during the race. I’ll never forget all the people hanging out of the building windows cheering us on. It was so, dare I say, European. It was very endearing. I did however hurt my ankle right there in the last kilometer. Damn those cobblestones.¬†Since walking all day didn’t seem like the brightest idea¬†I spent the afternoon in an Irish pub watching a futbol with some Irishmen, naturally. It was a great run, a¬†beautiful day, and such an enchanting city.

A few highlights..

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Italy’s Best Kept Secret


Talk about a fairytale Italy.¬†I really loved¬†it here.¬†I had never even heard of Puglia before this trip, much less a trulli.¬†These charming little limestone huts¬†grace¬†the rolling hills of Puglia and add old world character to the little town of Alberobello. We stayed in a trulli just under the basilica and woke up to church bells chiming. Normally I would have been annoyed by any kind of bells going off in the morning, but something about church bells reminds me that I’m in Europe, and then suddenly it’s okay.

The towns were so quite that it felt like we had it all to ourself. In Ostuni we arrived around 1:00pm and in fact did have the town all to ourself. In rural parts of Italy businesses close from roughly 1-4:30pm. It’s traditional for families to go home for long, leisurely lunches and afternoon naps. Yep, I said naps. For adults. So while the whole town was napping we were¬†snapping pics like¬†the paparazzi.

We spent the¬†nights at the one bar in town. The name: American Bar. ūüėÄ I guess Americans like to drink a little more than Italians, but so do the Irish. Why couldn’t they just call it an Irish Pub? Eh, whatever. They had an Italian band that played great American classics. We ended up making friends with them, but discovered that despite the fact that they sing American songs perfectly, they speak very little english!! It was an entertaining couple of nights as we stumbled over language barriers,¬†translating for our less than bi-lingual friends. There were a lot of laughs. All I can say is that some things that are funny to Americans have no significance to Italians, which just makes it even funnier! ūüėČ

 

Another town we visited in Puglia was Matera. The history is so fascinating. People there lived in these prehistoric cave dwellings until the 1950s. ¬†The 1950s!! I think of how the Romans lived 2,000 years ago (lifestyles of the rich and famous).¬†¬†Meanwhile these peasant families, until recently, were living under the same roof with their livestock, using ceramic vases to pop a squat, and lighting their homes with candles. Can you imagine?¬†Our tour guide told us that the government actually had to force the villagers out of the city because the living conditions were so terrible. It’s really an interesting place if you are ever in the area.

Something I find romantic about cuisine¬†is that it has history just as much as the land. Each dish has a story, many dishes have no recipe. Some have changed over the centuries, but all have been passed¬†on from generation¬†to generation. Puglia is known for maintaining their ancient roots in cooking. They embrace the age-old Italian way of cooking, simple and sustainable. I really want to recreate some of the dishes I had. You will most certainly get the down low on how that goes. ūüėČ Their trademark pasta is orecchiette,¬†“little ears”.¬†With so much coastline, seafood in Puglia¬†is in abundance and very prevalent in local cuisine; fresh octopus, stuffed cuttlefish, shrimp, oysters.¬†¬†Olive trees sweep the countryside,¬†and it’s¬†no wonder they are¬†¬†known for producing the best olive oil in all of Italy.¬†If size¬†means anything… ¬†the size of the tree¬†trunks were crazy. I really want to know how old they were. Do old trees ripen olives the way old vines enhance wine? I doooo love my Italian wine. ūüôā

Well there you have it, Puglia. Phenomenal food, breath-taking scenery, and the most lovable people you will ever know.

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From Italy to Prague & Back

 

The cost of indulging in all things delicious for 3 weeks straight: 7 pounds. The damage done by arriving in the wrong Bologna airport and missing a flight to Prague: $400. Traveling Europe while cooking, eating, drinking,¬†meeting new friends, and seeing new places: priceless. ūüôā

Hello!!! I am finally back from vacation and before diving back into passionate chatter¬†of¬†food and fitness I am dedicating these next couple¬†posts to travel highlights. First, for those who don’t know, I¬†was in Europe for 17¬†fabulous days. The majority of my trip was spent in Italy, with a few days in Prague as well. Now, without a doubt Italy is where my heart resides. I will forever love vacationing there, but now I know I am way too¬†American to ever live there.¬†¬†Still, there is just something about it’s beauty and culture that I find¬†absolutely¬†intoxicating. I have never¬†met so many warm-hearted,¬†and yet boisterous people!¬†I love to laugh, and this trip definitely provided many opportunities for that. From people watching in Italian piazzas to pub crawling¬†in Prague’s finest, there were many¬†nights when¬†I laughed until I cried. Here are a few photos from Naples, Amalfi and Herculaneum. (I wanted to include more, but you would laugh if you knew how long it took me to figure out how to¬†add this slideshow)

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My first days were on the Amalfi Coast. Hiking the Path of the Gods from Bomerano to Positano was beautiful. I recommend eating more than bread and gelato before¬†this 4 hour hike though. ūüėȬ†The food was¬†phenominal¬†all over Italy, of course.¬†In Positano the first¬†day I had¬†grilled octopus, OMG, if I could¬†have that every day I just¬†might.¬†For the antipasti, if you want to send your tastebuds into a state euphoria, go to Italy and just eat proscutto and caprese. Again, if I could have that every day I would.. (hence the 7 pounds!!)¬†

Next I spent¬†several days in Naples,¬†with a day trip to Herculaneum. What is Naples famous for? Pizza! And oooh yes I did. Pizza for lunch everyday, with a half carafe of vino rosso I might add. I wasn’t interested in any meat lover’s, it was all about the margherita. Simply put, I came for the mozarella. As for the city brace yourself, Naples is charming in its own way. You have to appreciate that Neopolitans dance to their own beat, and if you don’t know the steps get off the dance floor. Seriously, traffic is crazy. There are no¬†rules, cars swerve in and out, motorcycles zip between cars,¬†you can make¬†left turns from the far right lane, and if there isn’t enough room on the road hop up on the sidewalk and honk at¬†pedestrians and¬†the mom pushing a¬†stroller! If a car flies by brushing your arm hair, no worries. If you want to cross the street… don’t! Cars don’t stop, there are no crosswalks, and after observing how the locals do it I realized that you just have to step into oncoming traffic. Cars will swerve as you keep walking, but don’t think they’re going to stop. They don’t. For good entertainment grab a gelato and watch traffic for an afternoon.

Naples does have some great attractions as well. I visited the Archeological Museum that houses a lot of artifacts from Pompeii and Herculaneum, toured the aquaducts, Castel Nuovo, Castel dell’Ovo, and nearby Herculaneum. I had heard that Herculaneum was better preserved than Pompeii. I can’t say because I decided not to do both, but I can say that Herculaneum was really incredible. Walking through this old Roman city I really got a feel for what life was like 2,000 years ago, and it was not too shabby! They had underground water systems, were big into spa treatment, and the interior of these old homes was just gorgeous. From the floors, to the walls, to the ceilings, everything was extravagantly decorated. Beautiful.

I’ll save Puglia and Emiglia-Romagna for tomorrow..

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