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.

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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

Be Cultured: Let’s Eat Cheese

Put down the Velveeta. Step away from the Kraft singles.

Cheese fraud is a serious crime against your palate, health, and overall well-being.You haven’t been eating real cheese, and it is long past time you were introduced to the good stuff via a cheese plate. It’s possible to rehabilitate and reintroduce yourself to society as a bonafide cheese connoisseur by following a few enlightening cheese suggestions (nay, commandments of biblical proportions).

A cheese plate is a perfect way to reintroduce cheese (the good stuff) to yourself and loved ones. Cheese is impressive–each piece (of real cheese) goes through an aging process, which run the gamut from days, to months, to years. Serving a cheese plate is your way of saying “I know things” while making yourself seem cultured, creative, and clever. Because, let’s face it, once your guests try a pairing of a vintage gouda with a sweet caramel sauce, you’re bound to be a hero.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/cheese

Phase One: The Basics

Let’s say you’re having a small dinner rendezvous with friends. You need to figure out how many people you’re feeding, and when you’re going to bring on the cheese.

  • Suggestions vary, and only you know your crowd, but keep it to around 3-4 oz of cheese per person
  • Decide if this is a pre-dinner cheese course or an after-dinner treat
    • Pre-dinner begs for lighter and savory options, like an herb coated goat cheese
    • Post-dinner is the perfect time for sweet, super-rich and creamy cheeses, like a triple crème goat’s milk brie

Once you know when you’re serving, and who you’re feeding, it’s time to think about what cheeses you’re going to purchase. Your best source is a knowledgeable and local cheese-monger. They can tell you what’s new and exciting, or suggest standby classics that will be an instant hit. A good cheesemonger will also let you sample the cheese, which means you know exactly what you’re getting. Lastly, ask the cheesemonger to slice your wedge of cheese fresh from off the block. This will ensure you get a perfectly ripe (aka not stale) piece of cheese.

Nonetheless, you are an adult (more or less) and can totally manage this all on your own even if you’re lacking a cheesemonger.

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Phase Two: Picking Cheese

  • Pick a theme: U.S. farmstead cheeses? Global cheeses? French or Spanish or Italian Cheese? All cow’s milk or all blue cheese? It’s up to you, but having a plan can be helpful as a guiding principal. However, if you find a cheese that makes you especially happy, there’s nothing stopping you from including it, even if it breaks the theme’s pattern.
  • Try to include a variety of textures and flavors, unless doing a very specific plate that is meant to showcase subtle differences between blues or goat’s milk cheese (not recommended for beginners…)
  • Aim for no less than three cheeses and usually, no more than five
  • Pick from the four main categories of cheese
    • Aged–ie: aged cheddar
    • Soft–ie: camembert
    • Firm–ie:manchego
    • Blue–ie: stilton
  • You can also mix up your cheese selection by the type of milk used
    • Goat
      • IE: the Chabichou du Poitou–a fudgy textured French standout that’s bright with a hint of lemon
    • Cow
      • IE: A comté– similar to Gruyère, is a firm French cheese that has a rich and buttery feel and creamy, nutty taste
    • Sheep
      • IE: The Pecorino Tartufo Riserva–a truffled enriched, aged, Italian cheese that boasts a dense but creamy texture

Cheese plate at Parc

Phase Three: Finding Special Cheeses

The cheese below are exceptional offerings from all over the world. If you’re able to get your hands on any of them, then you are in for a treat.

Note: Shellbark Hollow Farms turn out some exceptional cheese offerings. Their website, found here, is the best resource on where to find and purchase their wares. In particular, the “Sharp 2” is noteworthy.

  • Scharfe Maxx: A cow’s milk cheese from Switzerland. This one is aged 365 days and has a distinct sharp and tangy taste, making it ideal for salty or spicy pairings
  • Vintage Gouda: From Holland, this cow’s milk cheese is a stunner that will appeal to any taste. Aged anywhere from three to five years, it has a subtle sweetness and crumbly texture with a dark amber color.
  • Epoisses de Bourgogne: a cow’s milk cheese by Jacques Hennart from the village Époisses, France. It’s frequently called the most interesting of French cheeses because it has a salty, tangy, sweet and creamy mix of flavors and is exceedingly soft. Napoleon, interestingly enough, was a fan of this particular cheese.
  • Quadrello di Bufala: From the Bergamo province in Italy, made from Buffalo milk (changing it up!. It’s a sweet-but-mild and exceedingly rich mozzarella style cheese.
  • Gorgonzola Dolce: A cow’s milk cheese from Italy, this blue is very soft and spreadable and offers a sweeter, milder, blue cheese flavor that’s ideal for anyone unsure about blue cheese.
  • Pecorino Toscano: a goat’s milk cheese produced in Tuscany. It’s a hard cheese with a delicate flavor that pairs equally well with salty or sweet accompaniments.
  • Capricho de Cabra: A goat’s milk cheese from Spain that’s super flavorful and very creamy
  • Barely Buzzed: a unique espresso and lavender rubbed cheese from Jersey cow milk, made in Utah. It’s a personal favorite and has caramel and butterscotch notes with a full-bodied and creamy texture.
  • Bathed In Victory: A cow’s milk cheese made in Pennsylvania by Doe Run Farm. It’s a buttery and slightly nutty cheese that is made with a beer wash.
  • Purple Haze: this nearly sounds like a strain of something a bit more potent, but it’s a goat cheese from California (that part isn’t a surprise, right?). The cheese is made with a mix of lavender and wild fennel pollen, so it has a distinct taste that’s utterly delicious.

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Phase Four: Accompaniments 

The cheese plate is only half finished by the time you purchase all the cheese. You can’t just stick it on a plate and call it a day! That’s some basic cheese nonsense. What’s missing are accompaniments. In order to take your cheese-on-a-plate to cheese plate mecca, you need to provide accessories to enhance each piece of cheese, and adorn the plate in question.

Your options are as diverse and interesting as the cheese market itself.

  • Bread: you need carbs with cheese, because this plate isn’t about being coy. Nonetheless, this is the simplest addition to any cheese plate.
    • Fresh baguettes (mild enough to go with everything without overshadowing any of the cheeses)
    • Different kinds of crusty bread, sliced into small serving pieces
    • Crackers: they come in a variety of flavors and shapes so you can choose plain multigrain ones, flavored offerings like rosemary, or super crispy-seeded options to mix with a nuttier or sweeter cheese to mix it up
  • Fruit/Vegetables: naturally, you’ll want to pick accordingly, depending on when you serve the cheese plate. Nonetheless, make sure fruit offerings are perfectly ripe.
    • Artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, olives, tomatoes
    • Peaches, pears, berries, nectarines need to be perfectly ripe!
    • Apples and grapes are a safe option year-round for finding a good, sweet, addition to the cheese
  • Jams, Preserves, and Pastes: There are savory and sweet jams aplenty that make an ideal pairing to cheese + bread and ultimately elevate the experience.
    • Apple, Apricot, Blackberry, Black Currant, Fig, Huckleberry and more are all perfect jams to accompany a dessert cheese plate
    • Bacon, onion, roasted red peppers, roasted garlic, or tomato jams are all game changers on a pre-dinner cheese plate.
    • Chutney, mostarda, spicy mustards, and quince paste are ideal savory accompaniments.
  • Nuts and bolts: Nuts are a great way to enhance cheese, and look beautiful scattered on the plate.
    • Walnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, almonds
    • Marcona almonds are the best option, and are equally at home with sweet and savory options alike. Check our Trader Joes’s rosemary flavored marcona almonds for an addictive addition.
  • Dried Fruits: since it’s difficult to find fresh fruit that’s perfectly ripe year-round (that’s how nature works folks), dried fruit makes a perfect accompaniment.
    • Raisins, dates, apricots, cherries, apples
    • Medjool dates are a game changer
  • Honey and sweets:  Dessert isn’t the same without sugar
    • Different kinds of honey means different flavors on a cheese plate
      • Clover honey + blue cheese
      • Chestnut and Buckwheat honey + grueyere or Parmigiano reggiano
      • Orange blossom honey + soft cheeses, like brie or goats milk
    • Caramel mixed with salty or nutty cheeses (Or anything, really) is exceptional. Pairing it with an aged gouda will blow your mind.
  • Cured Meats: Ideal for a pre-dinner plate, different meats can add a nice touch to a cheese arrangement
    • Prosciutto, salamis, chorizo

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Phase Five: Finishing Touches

Congratulations on nearly completing one of the best things you’ll ever eat. There are just a few important suggestions to remember when you’re making the final move from jumbled ingredients to full presentation.

  • Remove the cheese from the fridge at least an hour before serving. Cheese shouldn’t be served cold and hard, it needs time to soften and breathe prior to eating.
  • Spread the spread: make sure you’re using a plate or board big enough to sufficiently accommodate all the cheese and accessories. If your cheese is arranged too close together, people will inevitably bump into other cheeses while slicing.
  • Keep pungent cheeses farther apart from other pungent cheeses
  • Provide a knife for each individual piece of cheese
  • Put accompaniments intended for specific cheeses next to that cheese
  • Label the cheese! People deserve to know what you’re serving them, so make sure each cheese (and any information about it you’d care to share) is clearly labeled.
  • White wine pairs best with cheese. The acidity doesn’t overpower the cheese like a red wine does. A great cheese can elevate an OK wine, but a crappy cheese can ruin a great bottle of wine. Invest wisely!

Once you find the good stuff, I doubt you’ll ever go back to your pseudo-cheese ways. Cheese plates are a gateway drug into a whole new way of cheesing, steeped in history and culture from all over the world!

PS: If you’re ever in Philadelphia, visit a cheese expert’s restaurant and shop at Taulula’s Daily. Aimee Olexy is a cheese genius. Cheenius?

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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!

Let’s Eat: Liège Waffles

This post has been a long time coming, but it’s finally here today! What could possibly be worth such a long wait you ask? Well…how about the recipe for authentic liège waffles a la our earlier trip (and blog post) to Belgium? That’s what I thought.

I’ve been wishing for these ever since I had them a few weeks ago, so without any further delay: Waffles!

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You’ll need:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 packet dry active yeast
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm (100-110 degrees F) milk
  • 8 oz softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 generous tsp vanilla bean paste or regular vanilla extract
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 bag of belgian pearl sugar (available at amazon.com)

 

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I figured out why Belgian waffles are SO addictive and amazing…the drugs they put in the batter!

IMG_1543 IMG_1540A little of this stuff makes a HUGE different in all the baking I do…I cannot recommend it enough!

To make all these things turn into heavenly waffles:

  1. Add your yeast to the milk with some sugar to let it proof. When it’s foamy and ready (about ten minutes), add all the other ingredients,except the sugar!!, and mix well.
  2. Let the dough rise for approximately 30 minutes, covered with a towel and set in a warm and cozy spot.
  3. Once the dough has risen, add an entire bag of pearl sugar…this is about to get realIMG_1546
  4. Make sure your waffle iron is heated, I set mine to level 4
  5. Break the dough into roughly 3oz balls, and then pat them down before placing them in the waffle iron to cook. IMG_1551 IMG_1547
  6. They should be a nice brown color by the time you’re finished cooking (5+ minutes). Watch to make sure the sugar melts and crystallizes but does not burn!.
  7. Eat your face off and quote Shrek repeatedly. IMG_1553

They are so delicious and way better than any other waffle I’ve ever tried…I can’t recommend them enough, if you have the energy! When you wish upon a waffle, dreams really do come true assuming you have crack sugar…I mean Belgian pearl sugar.

The extra dough can also be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until you have a craving at a later date…you never know when the waffle urge might strike!

Showered with Love

If you guessed that it has been a busy few days for me, then you guessed correctly! This past weekend was my bridal shower, and it was a wonderful time with friends and family! I am so very appreciative to everyone that came, helped, and had fun with me and cannot wait to continue the celebration in May.

It was a ‘travel-themed’ shower, which is perfect given our explorations throughout Europe now that we live in Germany.

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There was pretty paper from Paper Source, covered in maps of Italy, the globe, and of course, Paris.
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A stack of mini suitcases, bursting with flowers and topped with an ‘Up’ themed hot air balloon/balloon display.

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Favors for our guests were mini apple crumb pies from Magpie…which you can learn much more about here !

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I love food, and we had an abundance of it at the shower! Besides those pictured…there were truffled fingerling potatoes with crème fraîche and salmon roe, beef brisket sliders on brioche buns with pear jam and red peppers…the list goes on and I’m hungry all over again!

One of my favorite  parts of the shower, was the crepe station set up in the kitchen. Unlimited mini crepes and a variety of fillings, handed to you on site. Button’s Creperie nailed it and were wildly popular with everyone! (Thank you again Lauren!!)

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In the event that a few mini crepes weren’t enough for anyone, there was an excess of dessert…including adorably decorated cupcakes, french macarons for days, and an Up-Inspired cookie cake appropriately declaring, ”Let’s Be Adventurers!” IMG_1487 IMG_1486 IMG_1485 IMG_1484

 

There was the required present opening pomp and circumstance, and thankfully, I have an incredible bridal party to keep me from looking too  silly in front of everyone. Something about opening presents in front of a crowd makes for potential awkward in my case…IMG_1497 IMG_1507 IMG_1488

I was spoiled rotten by everyone and I cannot stop saying how grateful I am…so many beautiful, useful, and wonderful gifts that I cannot wait to use in Jordan and my home one day!

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Thankfully, our flower girl provided ample distraction for the “oohers” and “aahers” too!

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I couldn’t be happier or luckier surrounded by all these wonderful people (and Moira!) and marrying my best friend. Thank you again to everyone for “showering” me with love, and I cannot wait to share more fun and joy with you in May!

 

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.


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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Platefuls of tapas….

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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!

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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.

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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…

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Tasty belgian beers were a must

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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: