Idyllic Eats in Italy

The clocks have gone back an hour and the temperatures are rapidly descending, and while I’m more than ready to welcome all things cozy in the form of sweaters, soups, and holidays, I still find myself reminiscing about our honeymoon this past June. Our time on the Amalfi Coast was utterly perfect and full of adventure, relaxation, romance, decadence, and plenty of fun.

Amalfi Coat Pride and Polka Dots

Pride and Polka Dots Italy Pride and Polka Dots Positano Pride and Polka Dots Positano City Pride and Polka Dots Capri CoastFortunately, there’s one souvenir  (besides paintings and photographs) from our fun that I can make a fairly regular part of our daily lives, even in the cold. We were lucky enough to have a private cooking class with the incredibly talented women behind Donna Rosa. It was a morning and afternoon packed with food, drinks, giggles and fun. Our new friends are exactly what you would expect of famed Italian hospitality.

When we arrived at their bastion of fine Italian cooking, tucked along Montepertuso, Erika, Rosida and Mama greeted us warmly and led us through their cozy, yet elegant, restaurant. The restaurant is a local (and global) favorite for inventive fine Italian dining, with fans throughout Italy and beyond, like Jaimie Oliver and Ina Garten. Before Jordan and I knew it, we were well equipped with aprons, coffee, and fresh homemade cornetto–the Italian answer to croissants. We learned a ton of fabulous recipes and techniques thanks to Erika’s mastery and Rosida’s rapt but humorous attention. In an attempt to relive just a taste of our fun, I decided to share one of their recipes! Below is a tutorial for a simple dish that could accompany a large dinner or, in my opinion, make a perfectly acceptable main dish for a cozy but easy meal!Pride and Polka Dots Donna Rosa

Involtini Di Melanzane from Donna Rosa

You’ll need:

  • Several long and thin eggplants, tops and outer skin removed
  • Salt
  • Peanut oil
  • Mozzarella, cut into small rectangles and refrigerated to dry a bit ahead of time
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • All purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 28oz can San Marzano tomatoes, pureed in a food processor


To make the Involtini:

  1. Thinly slice the peeled eggplants using a mandolin slicer. Layer them in a colander and lightly sprinkle salt on each layer to help reduce the water content of each slice. Let the eggplant drain in the sink for about 30 minutes, until the eggplant slices are “limp”. This is an old school trick to keep the eggplant from having a “bitter” taste.
  2. While you wait for the eggplant prepare the sauce. In a medium saucepan, add the extra virgin olive oil and briefly sauté the sliced/chopped garlic. When lightly golden, add pureed San Marzano plum tomatoes. Cook at low heat for 15 minutes and set aside.IMG_4101 IMG_4083
  3. Remove the excess water and salt from the eggplant slices by gently squeezing each slice between two fingers like a squeegee. Dry the slices on paper towels. In a bowl, pour the flour and allow the slices of eggplant to have flour on both sides, removing the excess by moving it with two fingers
  4. In a large saucepan, pour about 1″ peanut oil and heat until it’s very “hot”. Gently drop the slices of floured eggplant in the hot oil, gradually, without crowding the pan and remove the slices when lightly browned, but still pliable. The goal isn’t to make them crispy. Place them on paper towels to drain.
  5. Lay slices of fried eggplant on a working surface. Sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese on all pieces. Place a piece of the dried mozzarella and a small piece of basil at one end of each eggplant slice and roll toward the opposite end. Repeat until done, placing the rolls in the baking pan.

    The best husband, ever.

    The best husband, ever.

  6. Heat the oven to 350° F
  7. Spoon tomato sauce over each roll and bake until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle fresh grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top of each roll. Serve immediately.

IMG_4063IMG_4068IMG_4069IMG_4103

Ta-da!

It’s really an exceedingly simple dish, but satisfying enough to make a meal! It’s truly rare that a chef shares their best family recipes, so I hope you enjoy this treat as much as we (and all the fans of Donna Rosa) do! If you ever have the opportunity to dine at Donna Rosa, it is undoubtedly worth the time, money and effort!

Also, suggestion: spend the rest of your evening on the balcony with wine….sending helpful snapchats while a little buzzed and full of food!IMG_4039

Honeymooning in an Italian Paradise, Part 1

People wax poetic about things being “worth the wait” which can get old fast. However, I feel confident assuring everyone that our honeymoon (and this post) fit that description. Our wedding was our happiest day and I cannot wait to share some of it with you soon, but I think starting in Italy is a perfectly acceptable way to begin a comeback…and a marriage! Pride & Polka Dots View We wanted to jet off to somewhere stunning, with water but also culture and history and well, food. When our travel guru at Jetsetter whittled the choices down to Greece or Italy, we decided our relationship with pizza was stronger than that with feta, and happily started making arrangements for a week in Positano on the Amalfi Coast. Pride & Polka Dots Boat Life What. A. Week. Pride and Polka Dots Positano View This was the view we enjoyed every morning over breakfast… It was a perfect week together. We had private tours of Pompeii and Naples (thanks Alessandro!) beautiful gourmet dining on our small hotel’s luxe terrace overlooking the coast, a private cooking class with some of the best chefs in town, and jaunts off to Capri on a boat to take in the sun, surf, and scenery. It was perfect and picturesque…which means I don’t need to ramble on much to share our fun. Pride and Polka Dots Positano Honeymoon The prettiest coast Pride & Polka Dots  Li Galli The island of Li Galli Pride & Polka Dots Capri 1 Best form of transportation Pride and Polka Dots Positano Fruit We consistently had the most delicious produce everywhere we went…any place that grows lemons is good with me. Pride and Polka Dots Honeymoon Snaps A place so delicious it made even the Londoner jealous

Da Adolfo eats

Da Adolfo eats

Pride & Polka Dots  6 The view from atop Monte Solaro in old town CapriPride & Polka Dots Monte Solaro Pride & Polka Dots 2 Pride & Polka Dots  Vesuvius Pride & Polka Dots  Granita Granita became a pretty standard part of our day… Pride & Polka Dots  Capri 6 Pride & Polka Dots Capri Gardens Pride & Polka Dots Capri 4 Playing in Pompeii…. Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii 3 Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii Pride and Polka Dots Pompeii Tour Apollo’s Temple… Pride and Polka Dots Pizza in Naples And of course, a pizza tasting in Naples. Pride & Polka Dots Amalfi Coast There’s plenty more to share…but one post can only handle so much excitement. Check back later for our cooking class, more vacation pictures and of course, wedding photos!

Barcelona Dreaming

The calendar tells me it is springtime, but the weather clearly didn’t get the memo. To cope with the lack of spring fever and the threat of snow and cold temps, I can’t help but reminisce about our trip to Barcelona and think warm thoughts. Easily one of the most beautiful cities we’ve visited, I hope it helps you think of warm days ahead too!

 

We rented a flat via airbnb, and after an easy cab ride from the airport, we settled in before exploring. Right next door was a gorgeous farmers market with beautiful flowers, and lots of food. IMG_0947 IMG_1006

Shortly thereafter, we went exploring.


IMG_1002 IMG_0953 IMG_0955

Barcelona is simply beautiful–all the historical significance of cities like Paris, with a laid back and tropical feel that make it an ideal vacation spot.

During our stay, we joined a bike tour for a city-wide adventure…

IMG_0982 IMG_0981 IMG_0979 IMG_0978

We saw the Palau de la Música Catalana, which was designed by Lluís Domènechi i Montaner. A noteworthy building because it’s quintessential Catalan modernist style makes for a colorful and beautiful display. While most everyone who visits Barcelona associates this with Gaudi, it was refreshing and eye-opening to see how this particular architectural style is not limited to Gaudi creations, but instead exists as a unique feature of gorgeous Catalonian buildings throughout the city.

 

Having said that though, no trip to Barcelona could be complete without at least a little Gaudi, and in particular, La Sagrada Familia

IMG_0924 IMG_0922
IMG_0910

An unfinished masterpiece, the church is projected for a 2026 completion date, after beginning construction in 1882. Antoni Gaudi, fresh out of school, managed to win the job from the Barcelona council with his innovative design sketches. There were numerous  set-backs in terms of financing and construction, but Gaudi became so popular that he was able to finance the project from his own pocket by building homes for the wealthy all over the city. However, Gaudi faced a major setback when he died in 1926, and work on the project was halted. Thankfully it resumed once again and continues today. It’s a marvelous story when told in better detail and well worth a visit.

IMG_0975

In our ride through the Barri Gotic, we got to see the castle (what’s left of it) where Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain sent Christopher Columbus on his travels. These were the steps where they stood, upon hearing about land overseas.

IMG_0961 IMG_0964 IMG_0969 IMG_0960

Wandering the Gothic Quarter was wonderful, and full of awesome buildings, winding streets, fun shops, and lots of food. I can’t recommend exploring it enough.

IMG_0984

We also visited Barcelona’s Arco del Triunfo, which cuts an impressive figure

IMG_0991 IMG_0988 IMG_0992

As well as the Parc de la Ciutadella, which is a gorgeous city park.

IMG_0952 IMG_0950

Not to mention a visit to Barcelona Cathedral, which is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, a martyr from Roman times.

IMG_1001 IMG_0999

We also saw the former Bull-Fighting arena, which is now used for concerts or sports because Bull-Fighting is thankfully outlawed in Barcelona.

IMG_0928

IMG_0931 IMG_0935

We ended our tour with some more time on Barceloneta beach, soaking up the gorgeous imported sand (long-story) and the sunny rays.

There’s a lot to love about Barcelona, and while its history is a fascinating one, and its architecture is beautiful, no post would be complete without at least a tiny taste of the food that makes up a huge portion of the culture.

1186089_10200707053266452_79228096_n

Pitchers of cava sangria became a daily routine during our visit. It was easily the most delicious and refreshing cocktail I’ve ever enjoyed, to date.

1185689_10200707052946444_168045002_n

Platefuls of tapas….

1236582_10200707052386430_1429466734_n

Having fun at a Basque bar, where you get a plate with your drink and fill it up with small bites from a bar. You pay by the toothpick so you can try a lot of delicious bites!

1231442_10200707051226401_974426182_n

Of course, paella.

I feel a little sunnier just reminiscing about Barcelona, and I hope mother nature gets with the program soon so I can enjoy the weather here instead of yearning for warmer temps abroad. In the meantime, keep warm and carry on! There may be a post in the near future on cava sangria, which will at least make us all numb to the cold and bubbly!

 

 

 

 

 

Bouncing around Belgium

Sorry for being AWOL the past few days–but I promise I have a good excuse, my dog ate my blog. 603832_10200112646526655_1184609543_n

In truth, Bentley had nothing to do with it and is blameless (as always). Instead, Jordan and I did quite a bit of traveling this weekend and I didn’t get a chance to sit down properly and get to work. But better late than never, here’s a general run down of our explorations.

We woke up early Friday morning, jumped in the car and sped off–literally, it is Germany after all–to Brussels. One thing I can’t get over about European road trips is how nice and easy they are to take. For example, here is a German rest stop where we grabbed lunch.

20140318-080345.jpg

America needs to get with this program…we had schnitzel, salad, and pommes frites before hitting the road again. I still can’t wrap my head around how nice it is to have this option when traveling in Germany.

When we got to Brussels after our lengthy travels we settled into our stylish flat, before dropping our bags in search of the best Brussels has to offer.

20140318-080502.jpgLike moules-Frites for dinner…

20140318-080428.jpg

Tasty belgian beers were a must

20140318-080543.jpg

and Waffles. Let me state, for the record, that I don’t get worked up about waffles or pancakes. They’re usually too cakey and I’d rather have poached eggs. However, these waffles are in a class all their own and are unlike anything we’ve ever had. Liège waffles have an entirely different consistency and a superior taste to anything else, and are widely available in Brussels. I’m working on figuring out how to recreate them at home so stay tuned for that experiment in later days…

20140318-080514.jpgPanoramic view of the Grand Palace  at night….so gorgeous!

After a bit more exploring, Jordan and I wandered back to our flat with the help of spritely cab driver. Saturday was meant for a tad more exploring before continuing on our way.

Which means Saturday was really just another opportunity to eat waffles. Twice.

20140318-080623.jpg

20140318-080608.jpg20140318-080750.jpg

Part of the Grand Palace by daylight, albeit very dreary, rainy daylight.

We managed to take a walk by the Mannekin Pis

20140318-080636.jpgTrue life, this is a statue of a small figurine urinating in a fountain. It was erected around 1618 and designed by Hieronimus Duquesnoy the Elder. It is only 61cm/24in tall and has been repeatedly stolen, with this version dating back from 1965, and the original restored version kept safely under lock and key at the Maison du Roi. There are many  legends surrounding the statue, including one of a boy who put a fire out by peeing on it and another who was hung in a basket from a tree and peed on enemy troops, who then lost the battle. I kid you not.

Manneken pis also has several hundred outfits that change several times during the week, so if you get to visit him, odds are he’ll be sporting something entirely different.

After that adventure, we wandered through the Galerie de la Reine.

20140318-080738.jpg

Before stopping at Mary for some goodies…which I highly recommend a visit!

Finally, we made sure to pick up some beer for Jordan before packing up and heading to Cologne.

20140318-080720.jpg

Why did we have to rush over to Cologne you might ask? Well…Beyoncé had two concerts, one Friday and one Saturday and we were fortunate enough to have tickets!

It was easily the best show I’ve ever had the privilege of attending and I can’t begin to tell you how much ‘fangirling’ I’m guilty of committing. 20140318-080652.jpg

20140318-080701.jpg

She sang beautifully, perhaps even better than her recorded tracks, and put on an energetic and captivating show that flawlessly mixed in both old and new songs. If I had realized that the sound quality would actually be halfway decent on my phone, I would have recorded better/longer clips. Forgive me and enjoy these tiny samplings of her concert–and if you have a chance to go, you absolutely should!

That about sums up our weekend of adventures, but I’m deadly serious when I say the liège waffle experiment is on my to-do list, if for no other reason than my ability to walk around all the time saying:

Paris Part II

My initial post on Paris is certainly a hard one to beat, but that was only day one in the city, so it feels irresponsible not to share the rest of our fun. If you’re not up to speed though, you’re encouraged to check out the first part of our Paris fun here.

After we said our goodbyes to Brian we found ourselves by the Eiffel Tower, a bit frigid, and extremely excited. So we set about finding a café to collect ourselves in, and start celebrating. Fortunately for us, Paris is littered with options so we ducked into the first one we saw, grabbed some champagne and tucked into some macarons because, Paris.

IMG_0111
We then wandered around the city as it went from noon to night, and watched as places started to light up in preparation.

IMG_0115

We ended up at a tiny moroccan restaurant by our hotel in the latin quarter, before retiring from a very exciting day.
The following morning we got up and got to exploring.

IMG_0119IMG_0055

We managed a quick visit to Notre Dame
IMG_0134 IMG_0143IMG_0139
And then headed over to the Louvre to actually go inside this time. IMG_0084IMG_0192 IMG_0210IMG_0200 IMG_0175 IMG_0174 IMG_0173 IMG_0206
Afterwards, there was more walking. IMG_0219 IMG_0212 IMG_0228 IMG_0227 IMG_0220IMG_0060 IMG_0229IMG_0059IMG_0246IMG_0247Fun fact: walking all day will give anyone an appetite, and we were no exception. After a real lunch at a bar on the Champs-Élysées we got our priorities in order and sought out dessert.

IMG_0236

IMG_0237Truly, there was only one place to go: Ladurée. The luxury pâtisserie was established in 1862. They rose to immense popularity when they took two macaron shells and sandwiched various fillings between them, as we now enjoy today. That, and the tearoom they added, made them enormously popular. Today they sell roughly 15,000 macarons a day  which I understand because I could probably eat them by the dozen, around the clock.  We happily got into the rather crowded line and set about making an educated decision about which macarons to indulge in. However, everything at Ladurée is tantalizingly beautiful and delicious looking. IMG_0240 IMG_0239It would be a mistake though, to visit and not get macarons. So we did.
They were insanely delicious–easily the best macarons I’ve ever had. While there are numerous other respected pâtisseries in Paris turning out these colorful delights, I’d venture a guess that Ladurée trumps them all. So much so that we bought a bigger box of them to take back to Germany with us.

IMG_0255

In a nutshell, Paris was beautiful, exciting, and endlessly entertaining. I hope we can go back one day, after we check some other places off the bucket list, because there’s still plenty more to see and do! But for now, Paris was a memorable and beautiful vacation I won’t soon forget.

P.S. If you haven’t yet already, feel free to ‘like’ pride and polka dots on facebook to get regular, un-obnoxious updates on blog posts in your newsfeed!

One Year Ago, in Paris

One year ago today, I got to go to Paris with Jordan. It was spring break for me and in addition to a visit to Germany, we decided to take a long weekend in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Please believe me when I say I had one intense to-do list for our visit. There were places to go (many, many many) shops to visit, and (many, many, many) things to eat. We landed, we dropped our bags, and ran out the door of the hotel to start our weekend, after getting directions from a nice Parisian man. I was practically jumping out of my skin, I was so excited to be in Paris. 

IMG_0077

We walked past the Louvre and decided on lunch and coffee before delving into art and history.

IMG_0094

Nourished and caffeinated, I was more than ready to commit to the Louvre. However, Jordan insisted on exploring the pyramid courtyard a bit more before ducking inside for what could be hours, and I begrudgingly agreed.

IMG_0072IMG_0089IMG_0099

Finally, Jordan settled on “one more hallway” before we got to go inside, get warm, and finally see the damn art. Except…French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 004

Clearly Jordan had much bigger plans for Paris, and who was I to refuse them? So one year ago today, I said yes to I do, and had the most memorable and beautiful weekend in Paris with my best friend and the love of my life.

Jordan and my mom had coordinated with Brian (standing to the left in my hallway photograph) at French Grey Photography to capture our engagement and their efforts (thank you!) make it easier to share that wonderful day now.

French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 009 French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 010

To suggest that I was anything other than surprised and overjoyed would be an understatement.

French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 012

306135_598878923474120_810607118_n

French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 025French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 028

French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 031French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 043

French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 046French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 048French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for French Grey Photography by Brian Wright for Jordan 050

I’ll share the rest of our Parisian adventures another day, because nothing can top the best surprise proposal from the best guy in the world.  Stay tuned for Paris, and here’s to saying I do in May!

Medieval Roamings in Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Last night Jordan and I started to idly chat about where we might like to take our friends and family when they visit later this year and next. At the risk of ruining the surprise for all our potential house guests (sorry, I’m not sorry), one of the places that we absolutely plan to take everyone is Rothenburg ob der Tauber. If you need convincing that this little medieval city is worth the trek then stay tuned as I try earnestly to persuade everyone.

2013-03-07 18.02.48

2013-03-07 18.07.33

2013-03-07 18.05.06

These were the sights that greeted us upon arriving at Rothenburg. The city dates back until around 950, and was officially founded in 1170, so we’re talking about a very old part of the world. Not to veer too far into history nerdom, but the city became a Free Imperial City in the 1200s, which meant this place was happening.

2013-03-07 18.13.38

2013-03-07 18.11.572013-03-07 18.08.50

2013-03-07 18.03.252013-03-07 18.19.012013-03-07 18.19.482013-03-07 18.48.44

We were there in early March, and despite the lingering cold from winter, the town was buzzing and signs of spring were starting to pop up. I desperately want to go back in late spring, when everything is in full bloom, and then during the Christmas market season because something tells me Rothenburg knows how to do a proper Christmas market….

2013-03-07 18.48.132013-03-07 18.37.252013-03-07 20.48.232013-03-07 18.25.11-22013-03-07 20.36.46

Gives new life to the term sausage-fest, no?

In case you’re still not sold, a veritable host of filmmakers have found the city so beautiful and picturesque that it has been used for scenes in Pinnocchio, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Wonderful World of the Brother’s Grimm, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1. 

2013-03-07 21.04.45

In another bout of history nerdom, Rothenburg was declared the ‘most ideal German city’ by the Nazis in the years leading up to, and during, World War II. Once the United States entered the war though, and started bombing German cities, U.S. Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy urged U.S. Generals not to use heavy artillery to take the city because of its historical significance, and its beauty. The Germans defending Rothenburg surrendered the city peacefully in order to preserve it, an act that went against the wishes of Adolf Hitler for what it’s worth. Tourism has since flourished and it seems those Germans made a wise decision, because Rothenburg makes for quite a visit.

Jordan and I spent an entire day wandering, with no particular itinerary, which was an exceedingly nice change of pace. I was especially giddy during our trip, but more on that in a few days…2013-03-07 18.22.322013-03-07 18.22.292013-03-07 19.04.23 Of course, no trip to any German city is complete without sampling the local beer and food. 2013-03-07 19.07.052013-03-07 19.19.13 Which includes Sauerbraten. Which is delicious.

After lunch we decided to venture into one of the city’s museums, the Kriminalmuseum or…Criminal Museum. I was studying law, punishment, and witchcraft in early modern Europe at the time, and this museum had a noteworthy collection of documents and artifacts on the subject. I won’t spoil the fun inside though–even if you’re not studying the subject matter, it was an entertaining, slightly gruesome, and worthwhile visit!

2013-03-07 19.45.342013-03-07 19.54.57

Another important feature of any Rothenburg trip are the Schneeballen, or snowballs. They’re the authentic dessert of Rothenburg: egg dough fried and then covered in sugar and/or chocolate.

2013-03-07 20.41.09

Finally, make sure you take some time to walk along the city walls. They’re the hallmark of a medieval city after all!

2013-03-07 20.59.562013-03-07 21.03.452013-03-07 21.05.04IMG_0276IMG_0363

So for everyone coming to visit, I hope you’re okay with one of our day trips, and for everyone else, I hope you have the chance to explore Rothenburg ob der Tauber too!