Category

Food Travels

Category

Flying Solo – The Monterey Peninsula 2015

 

Processed with Moldiv
Processed with Moldiv

Many people believe that in order to have a “Grand Adventure” you would need to travel to a distant land to find something extraordinary .

This may be true at times but I also feel that there is so much one can find even closer to home if they are willing to “Dig” for small gems of travel .

As I have mentioned before in my previous posts I was born and raised in Southern California. The land of beautiful beaches, mountains, deserts and flip flops. We see sunshine over 300 days of the year. We eat well too. Our produce flourishes year round with an abundance of  Avocados, Artichokes, Strawberries, Squash, Table Grapes, Tomatoes , Oranges, Grapefruits and Lemons. To top it all off we are spoiled with some of the best wines in the world that are produced from the Central Coast (Paso Robles & San Ynez Valley) and Northern California (Sonoma & Napa). It really is a food lovers dream over here.

By the time August 1st hit this year I found myself pretty worn out from the previous 11 months of non stop activity and work. I wanted to escape to have a real break. I wanted to breathe in some fresh crisp ocean air , I wanted to go and explore , I wanted to hit the California’s (Hwy 1) heading North and most importantly I wanted to do all of this, Alone.

IMG_4013

 

I pitched the idea of doing this alone to my husband D and from the get go he was very supportive of my plans (Thanks D- you are so sweet). D and I have always traveled well together but at the same time we have always been very independent in the sense that if there is something we want to go and see and the other won’t be able to join in because of (work or other commitments)  then we always do our best to support each other in our endeavors.

Did I get a little flack for wanting to to this solo? Well yes, a little bit.

I found that some of my friends and especially (My parents) couldn’t figure out why on earth I would want to take a trip alone. My answer is easy, “I wanted to”. Like most women my days are filled with an overloaded “To do list” and I am more than happy to put in long days and hard work for the benefit of others and especially my family. But sometimes I frankly want invite a little “quiet” into my life , a little disconnect in order to center and renew myself. So I came up with the perfect spot to do this. I would drive north to- Big Sur.

Big Sur has always been a very special spot to me since I was a small girl. It’s a landscape that is at times is just too “Majestic for words”. It’s where I feel I can stand on a mountainside, cast in glorious sunshine, and gaze down upon a Pacific Ocean completely blanketed by dense fog. It’s a view most of us would associate with being in heaven, or at least the window seat of an airplane. In Big Sur you can get it with your two feet on the ground.

Not much has changed here in the past 50 years. Sure, there are now some small grocers and restaurants around. But the nearest supermarket is still dozens of miles away. It’s a destination where cell phone coverage is nearly nonexistent. The nice part of this is that, whether you like it or not, you’re on vacation. If someone at the office needs to reach you, well, too bad. I can’t urge you enough that if you have never been for a visit (especially if you reside here in California) by all means pack up your car and hit the Hwy 1. It’s a journey that one needs to do at least once in their life and it is one that will definitely “Take your breath away”.

 

 

IMG_4023

 

IMG_4504

  • “I got to nature to be soothed and healed and to have my senses put in tune once more”
  • -John Burroghs-

IMG_3360

  • McWay Falls – My Happy Corner of the World

McWay Falls is an 80-foot waterfall located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park that flows year-round. This waterfall is one of only two in the region that are close enough to the ocean to be referred to as “tidefalls”, the other being Alamere Falls. The source of the waterfall is McWay Creek and is one of the few waterfalls that empty directly into the ocean. Originally the waterfall cascaded directly into the ocean but after a 1983 fire and 1985 landslides, the topography of McWay Cove was altered, forming an inaccessible beach. The waterfall now meets the ocean when the tide is in.

I must have taken hundreds of pictures , I was so hard to choose which one’s to share. It’s also so hard to describe all the joy and happiness I came home with. I was able to take in so much in one weeks time. I only scratched the surface of this most beautiful route. But as the old saying goes “All good things must come to an end”. There is one thing I know for sure and that is I will be back over and over again. I am a California girl to the core , I love the Pacific with all my heart…………………………

We will forever remain close!

 

 

 

 

There where so many spots along the way that made my trip extra special.

Here is a listing of some of my favorite places to STAY-PLAY-EXPLORE

 and most importantly EAT. 

For more information on each establishment feel free to click on each of the places described here it will connect you directly to their websites.

  • Santa Barbara

Canary Santa Barbara- Stay

A Spanish colonial Santa Barbara boutique hotel gem is located just steps from lively State Street, the heartbeat of Santa Barbara. Walking distance to many great restaurants and wine bars.

I found the rooms to be quit lovely and oh so pretty. It was perfect for a girly gal like myself.

canary-hotel-awning76042313-Canary-a-Kimpton-Hotel-Guest-Room-1-DEF

1157070_51_z

 

Scarlet Begonias– Eat

OMG, OMG , OMG and did I say OMG ……Everything here is delish. Heavenly Breakfast served right here on earth. Many unique and beautiful dishes made here with extremely fresh and organic ingredients. Homemade granola, lemon ricotta pancakes, hot chocolate with hand crafted marshmallows, soft scrambled eggs with a light sprinkling of sea salt, maple/bacon biscuits, shrimp and grits I can be here all day listing all the items that can be adored here. The place is just that amazing……………………………………………run here #forreals

o

IMG_3924 IMG_3925

 

  • Cayucos

Brown Butter Cookie Company– EAT

Freshly baked brown butter cookies served right off the baking tray. Each is hand rolled by a dedicated staff of artisanal cookie makers. Beautiful blends of brown butter and sea salt. I have never tasted anything like it before. So unique and carefully made. You really taste the love in these cookies. They carry their signature brown butter and sea salt selection but they also have a very tasty array of other flavors to choose from (Almond, Lemon Poppy Seed, Cocoa Mint, Citrus and Espresso) to name a few.

They are located in the adorable little beach town of Cayucos. The good news is you can order these amazing cookies online and have them shipped to your front door! at www.brownbuttercookies.com

IMG_3971

IMG_3965

IMG_3966

  • Big Sur

 

Ragged Point– Explore & Eat

IMG_3156

This is a great spot to stop and take a rest from driving and stretch your legs. They have a little cafe here that serves really good burgers, shakes and coffee.

The best part about this place is walking out to the lookout. The views are absolutely breathtaking, looking north along the coast. Great spot to take photos.

They also have a little Inn here. I have never stayed here overnight but would like to one day in the future.

IMG_3982

 

 

Ventana Inn & Spa– Stay

This was the most beautiful property I’ve ever stayed at in California. They hold many weddings here each year and it’s so easy to so see why (If I could get married all over again Mr.D and I would of done it here). They offer many outdoor activities here. From guided hiking excursions, you can have a guide take you out to the best point on the property to enjoy the sunset and if that’s not enough they have one of the best afternoon wine and cheese tastings I’ve ever experienced. The rooms are exquisite with the most amazing views.

Tranquility is found in every corner of the most memorable property.

Ventana-Inn-Spa-Signage

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

000439-16-Ventana-Outdoor-Table

 

 

  • San Luis Obispo

The Madonna Inn– Stay & Eat

I’ve driven past this place so many time over the years with out stopping to take a look. But legend has it that the place is notorious for there (50 shades of Pink) that is generously sprinkled everywhere through out the property all the way down to the infamous Pink Champagne Cake. I decided I would stop and check it out and , OMG I am so glad I did. The place is so over the top tacky and fabulous. Pink is EVERYWHERE. I was in Pink euphoria. After taking a walk through the pink dining room I was convinced that Liberace was the interior designer for this place…lol

IMG_4490

  • Madonna Inn feels like a mix of one of those old roadside attraction postcards, the kitschy room Grandma didn’t let you in, that weird in-between area between Fantasyland and Frontierland.

IMG_4491

IMG_4294

IMG_4303

You really have to see it to believe it. Whenever I think of the Madonna Inn, I remember one thing most of all. Pink Champagne cake!!

o

 

Buona Tavola– EAT

All is can say is thank God for Yelp. It guided me to one of the most delicious meals of 2015 so far.

I was really craving Italian and this place delivered in the most profound and life changing ways.

I have eaten in Rome, Parma, Florence and after one bite I  instantly felt “transported back to Italy” it was an A+ experience on every level. The service, the warmth of family who runs the place, the mezmerising smells that came out of the kitchen. The real mind blowing thing here is the food.  I ordered the Tagliata di bue salutare (a flat-iron steak grilled on fresh arugula with shaved parmesan and balsamic reduction sauce. It completely rocked my world. Please make sure if you are ever in the adorable little college town of San Luis Obispo that you make sure to stop here and have one of the most delightful dining expriences.

IMG_4253

IMG_4263

IMG_4252

 

  • Paso Robles

Pasolivo Tasting Room & Olive Mill– Taste

IMG_4247

From the moment you walk in, you could smell the wonderful aroma of the various spices & things. I thoroughly enjoyed my olive oil tasting. you pick your spices/salts & put it on a plate, then you’re provided with some bread & get to taste the different flavored olive oils. The ladies that work there are all very friendly & knowledgeable. They gave me recommendations of what spices to try with which flavored oil. They also have a ton of other products from lotions & soaps to different flavored balsamic vinegars & jams as well as wooden boards & bowls for serving.

o-1 o-2 o-3

IMG_4242

 

 

Yes 5 stars! I visited Opolo based a recommendations from other wineries. This place is off the beaten path of 46 and has a nice desk/patio area that serves food as well (loved the outdoor Tuscan Pizza Oven). All their wines were good but their reds are some of the best we’ve tasted in the area. Nice bold reds! My favorites where the Sangiovese, Zinfandel and the 2011 Petit Verdot!!

 

 

IMG_4203

IMG_4194

IMG_4195

  • Solvang

Wine Country Inn– Stay

IMG_4516

Dutch-inspired ambiance enhanced with all the comforts of today. I very much enjoyed my little cottage. It’s located in the heart of the sweet town of Solvang. Walking distance to local restaurants, dozens of wine bars and Bakeries. The grounds are really green and pretty here. They also offer bike rentals to cruise around town.

IMG_4403

Actors Corner Cafe– Eat

IMG_4434

It all started with the warm welcome from the lovely Grace Lebecka (she is the wife of the chef Santo Cervello). It’s ambiance is romantic and all things beautiful from the fresh flowers on the table to the sounds of the outdoor fountain trickling in the background while you eat the most amazing food . Grace explained to me that she hand picks all the freshest of ingredients everyday from the local farmers market. This was very evident from the first bite of my butter leaf salad . Then came the Capellini Bolognese with Kobe beef. I told myself that there was no way I could possibly finish all of it but “I’m no quitter” This pasta was very special you were really able to taste the care and love that was put into that plate. I just know I will be back here soon, but next time I plan to bring along Mr.D I know that he too will fall in love with this place like I did. Thank you Grace! You are the very best and your restaurant can best be describe in one word………..AMAZING.

IMG_4607

IMG_4605

IMG_4445

Quicksilver Ranch– Play

IMG_4579

And I have saved the best for last. One of my last stops that was made on my trip was at the Quicksilver Ranch. Home of the Mini Ponies. The ranch is located only 3 miles outside the town of Solvang. These little ponies are too precious for words , they walk up to the fence and you can pet them. Walk around and you’ll find others more willing to get pet. The grounds are well kept and if you have children this is surely a place they would love. I could have stayed here all day just looking at all these cuties graze and eat grass.

IMG_4558 IMG_4575

Rustico Toscano on a Plate

As the years pass me by (ever so quickly) I’m often times reminded more and more about the beauty that there is to be found in “The Simplicity of things”.

Yes gone are the days of clutter and collection of stuff that was crowding my life with stress and chaos. For the last three years I have made an ernest effort to purge my life of all the excess stuff that was weighing me down. This new way of approaching a more simple life has gradually crept into my style of cooking.

It all began with my trip to Italy a year and a half ago. I spent a whole month eating my way through the cities of Parma, Florence, Como, Genoa, Garessio, Venice and Tuscany. What stood out most to me is how simple many these exquisite dishes where prepared. The most glorious meals that contained no more than 5 or 6 simple ingredients. The secret was that all of the ingredients where fresh or artisanal made.

I began to appreciate the fact that “Less is More”. What I appreciated most , was many of the dishes that I was able to taste and enjoy in the region of Toscano. Once I returned home I was eager to focus on that very fresh and simple approach to meals I would be preparing at home.

So you may wonder who could one turn to for true authentic Rustic Tuscan guidance in the Kitchen? Well my friends that’s easy it comes in the form a very true Tuscan Farmer and Cook by the name of Gabriele Corcos.

Gabriele and his adorable wife Debi Mazer are the hosts of the Cooking Channels amazing show Extra Virgin. Let me tell you this is true Rustic Tuscan Cooking at it’s best! I became a fan back in 2009 when they had a little podcast called “Under The Tuscan Gun”. Each week I would eagerly plug in earphones to my ipod and for a few hours each week I would educate myself on the cooking world of all things “Tuscan”. I was an instant fan and I was hooked.

This past March I was fortunate enough to score a reservation a tasting of a very memorable Tuscan dinner prepared by Gabriele while promoting his Porchetta Tour in Los Angeles. The event was held at the ever fabulous Mauro Cafe. Here is a peek at the menu that was served that night.

 

IMG_0236IMG_0248

 

IMG_0258

 

IMG_0257

IMG_0239IMG_0237

IMG_0240

So let me share with you a basic Tuscan Meal 101

The Menu is as follows:

Seared Hanger Stake with Almond Sage Pesto

White Bean /Pancetta Bruschetta

Sautéed Zucchini

Sautéed Lacinato Kale & Garlic

IMG_0672

 

 

Seared Flat-Iron Steak with Almond-Sage Pesto
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Rustic Tuscan
Cuisine: Tuscan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • PESTO:
  • 1 cup raw almonds, toasted
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¾ cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
  • ¾ cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • STEAK:
  • Four 6-ounce flat-iron steaks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Instructions
  1. For the pesto: To the bowl of a food processor, add the almonds, olive oil, parsley, sage, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Process until smooth.
  2. For the steak: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the oil to the pan and, when it shimmers, add the steaks. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare. Remove to plates and let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Top the steaks with a dollop of pesto and serve.
  4. ***Cook's Note: Remaining pesto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

IMG_0670

 

“Tuscans have historically been called bean eaters, because they have often clung to staples that lasts longer, like dried beans. In Tuscan culture, nothing gets tossed out. Tuscan’s have been known to eat beans every day of the week if they need to and if it means more indulging in the round, buttery feel of Cannellini beans when they’re soft and lightly mashed, count us as being leaders, too. We love these beans, especially with rosemary and olive oil. – Gabriele Corcos

 

White Bean & Pancetta Bruschetta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Rustic Tuscan
Cuisine: Tuscan
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • ¼ pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Baguette, sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat fireplace to a medium heat. Adjust grill racks over the flame and heat a heavy dutch oven over the rack. Alternatively, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, add the oil to heat. Add pancetta and render some of its fat. Add rosemary and garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  3. Stir in beans, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Mash the beans with the back of the wooden spoon. Don’t mash them all smooth- you want some texture.
  4. Toast sliced baguette. Serve the beans on top of the toasted bread. Drizzle with Olive oil, if desired.

Zucchini Trifolati: Sauteed Zucchini
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Rustic Tuscan
Cuisine: Tuscan
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ red onion, chopped
  • 6 small zucchini (very young zucchini with few seeds) sliced in half moons
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Once hot add onions and sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Add the zucchini and sauté while stirring until they are golden and soft, about 8-10 minutes more. Season the zucchini with salt and pepper, to taste.

Sauteed Kale & Garlic
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Rustic Tuscan
Cuisine: Tuscan
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1½ pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ cup vegetable stock or water
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste
Gabriele Corcos as seen on Cooking Channels Extra Virgin, season 3.
Gabriele Corcos as seen on Cooking Channels Extra Virgin, season 3.

 

CCUTG_Debi-Mazar-Gabriele-Corcos-02_400

McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream

IMG_8230

I should start this write up by telling you that several years ago I was able to make a pilgrimage to the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream factory in Waterbury , Vermont. It was fun and I got to taste lot of great ice cream during my visit. However nothing, I mean Nothing could match the Ice Cream that I had at McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream.

The ice cream itself is different. I was once told that good quality ice cream doesn’t melt fast, and that is what I used as a base to measure ice cream quality. The ice cream didn’t melt quickly , the taste was spot on to what I think the flavors I choose should be. Super creamy ice cream that screams quality ingredients. I had the turkish coffee……. I left me speechless. Yes this place could easily leave one possessed and #addicted.

IMG_8225

IMG_8233

They offer some of the most unique flavors imaginable. Here is an example:

Black Coffee Chip

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Churros Con Leche

Dark Chocolate Paso Brittle

Double Peanut Butter Chip

Dutchman’s Chocolate

Eureka Lemon & Marionberries

Golden State Vanilla

Island Coconut

Mint Chip

Peppermint Stick

Roadside Raspberry

Salted Caramel Chip

Sweet Cream

Toasted Coconut Almond Chip

Turkish Coffee

Vanilla Bean

 

l-1 l

McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams

728 State St

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Finch & Fork

With food in mind let me share with you one of the first eateries we experienced on our Cali Coast Road Trip – This took place in lovely Santa Barbara. Where our first family meal together took place at the Finch & Fork.

Many of the ingredients used to create their menu are local, homegrown and handmade. A lovely little restaurant with touches of rustic elegance.

  • Some of the plates we ate:

IMG_8216 IMG_8215

  • Salt & Pepper Chicken Wings: chili caramel,pickled celery

 

 

IMG_8212

  •  Fennel Sausage Flatbread: roasted fennel, caramelized onions, ricotta salata

 

IMG_8207

  • Baby Back Pork Ribs: local grits, cipollini onion, mushroom, citrus, mustard glaze

 

IMG_8204

  • Baked Macaroni & Cheese Skillet: aged cheddar, bacon, breadcrumbs

 

IMG_8203

  • Burger and Hand Crafted French Fries

 

IMG_8193

 

  • P.S. Best deviled eggs of a gourmet kind I’ve ever had. The white is marinated in beet juice so it’s pink and the salmon is terrific.

 

 Hungry yet? Yes every last one of these plates got us all off to a very good start.

Finch & Fork

31 W Carrillo St

Santa Barbara, CA 93101

(805) 879-9100

Bouchon- My Favorite Restaurant on Planet Earth.

So here is the story of how the world of Bouchon came into my life.

I have always been a huge fan of Thomas Keller – as you may have read in the past here on the blog. I consider him to be one of my “Food Heros”. Chef Thomas Keller has changed the way that Americans think about fine food, and not since Julia Child has a single chef altered the landscape of dining in the United States. Many people will be surprised to learn that Thomas Keller has no formal culinary training. Instead, he learned to cook by doing, and after years of working hard in commercial kitchens, his career finally took off.

bouchon

As of today I have never had the opportunity to dine at his ever famous restaurant The French Laundry located in Yountville, California. Rumor has it that it, that it can take anywhere from 2 to 6 months to get a reservation. I have even heard a few crazy stories that there have been those who had to wait up to one year before they where able to dine here. Anyhow despite all of these “rumors” I have confidence that one day I will make it there and sit at one of those glorious tables and feast with Mr. Hubs.

In the meantime I have had the opportunity to eat at Thomas Keller’s other eating establishment Bouchon. With locations in Yountville, Las Vegas and Beverly Hills I’ve had the privilege to try two of the three locations (Las Vegas & Beverly Hiils). I can say with pure unfiltered honesty that “This is my favorite Restaurant on the Planet Earth” Why ? Well because to me every bite I’ve ever had here is pure “Perfection” that and because Bouchon serves French Bistro styled food customarily found in Europe .

The food served here is informal with minimalist elements.

Translation – “My Kind of Eating”

 

IMG_0669

  • The wait staff there is very knowledgeable about the food and the cooking process and you get five star service.

 

  • This place is a dream for foodies. Seriously, if you are a foodie and you don’t go here you are missing out.

IMG_0655

Bouchon’s Croque Madame can launch a million happy taste buds. No really there is not one that I have tasted here in the states that comes as close to Paris than this one. This is also my niece Kara’s favorite as well.

 

  • Here is a sampling of some of my favorite plates served here

IMG_6515

  •  Beignets du Jour
  • Bouchon Bakery spiced doughnuts & house-made jam

 

6a00d8341c630a53ef0120a7215e4b970b-800wi

  • Grand Plateau
  • 1 lobster, 16 oysters, 4 shrimp,
  • 8 clams, 10 mussels, seasonal crab, special selection

 

IMG_0667

 

6978406639_329ddcfcca

  • Pommes Frites
  • French fries

l

  • Heirloom Tomatoes with Burrata

bouchon_lv-steak_and_frites

  • Steak Frites
  • pan-seared 9oz. flat iron, caramelized shallots & maître d’hôtel butter,
  • served with French fries

 

IMG_0664

anthology-mag-blog-foodanddrink-bouchon-1b Always a favorite! Baked Pasteries…….

The chocolate croissant…it’s “Cross your eyes amazing! The croissant is super buttery and flaky. It also has dark chocolate as the filling so it wasn’t overly sweet. It’s was basically the perfect chocolate croissant.

IMG_6567

  • My “Brat Kara Girl” – yes she ordered a Coca Cola with her Breakfast! It doesn’t matter I still love her…….

 

IMG_0672

 

 

IMG_0663

 

 

IMG_0658_2

 

IMG_0660

Yountville – 6534 WASHINGTON STREET | YOUNTVILLE, CA 94599 | 707.944.8037

Beverly Hills – 235 NORTH CANON DRIVE | BEVERLY HILLS, CA 90210 | 310.271.9910

Las Vegas-  THE VENETIAN | 3355 LAS VEGAS BOULEVARD | LAS VEGAS, NV 89109 | 702.414.6200

www.bouchonbistro.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Married An Irish Man….

IMG_1069

 

My hubs Damon is a born California boy, but his family roots are of Irish decent. A very outgoing man that from day one has always had the “gift of the gab” (My very own Chatty Cathy) – Yes theres never a dull moment. Over the years we have traveled back to Ireland a number of times and it’s has become a very special place to the both of us.

On a recent visit trip back to Dublin I was amazed to find that this city is bursting with new eateries that has produced many new “foodies” looking for the next best eat. There is so much more to Dublin “Food Wise” than Fish and Chips, Potato Leak Soup and Soda Bread. I was able to visit the new food hall at the Guinness factory that offers an array of unique eats all made with Guinness Beer! Here are some of the delicious sights and tastes that they had over there.

 

IMG_1098

IMG_1094

IMG_1092

IMG_1196

 

  • I wanted to steal this sign for my kitchen 

 

IMG_2627

IMG_2625

IMG_1195

 

  • My Jameson Whiskey Infused Hot Chocolate 

IMG_1153

 

IMG_1246

 

  • Irish Wit & Humor

So let me let you in on something the Irish are very funny, caring, passionate, tenacious, hospitable and kind people you will ever want to meet. Some of my most gut wrenching laughs happened after hearing some of these hilarious sayings – they are so true to life in Ireland. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

 

Irish Diplomacy…

Is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to making the trip.

The Mouse on the Barroom Floor

Some Guinness was spilled on the barroom floor

when the pub was shut for the night.

Out of his hole crept a wee brown mouse

and stood in the pale moonlight.

He lapped up the frothy brew from the floor,

then back on his haunches he sat.

And all night long you could hear him roar,

‘Bring on the goddam cat!’

An Irishman’s Philosophy

In life, there are only two things to worry about—

Either you are well or you are sick.

If you are well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you are sick, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will get well or you will die.
If you get well, there is nothing to worry about,

But if you die, there are only two things to worry about—
Either you will go to heaven or hell.
If you go to heaven, there is nothing to worry about.

And if you go to hell, you’ll be so busy shaking hands with all your friends
You won’t have time to worry!

 

  The Way We Tell a Story

(Pat McCarty 1851-1931)

Says I to him, I says, says I,

Says I to him, I says,

The thing, says I, I says to him,

Is just, says I, this ways.

I hev’, says I, a gret respeck

For you and for your breed,

And onything I could, I says,

I’d do, I wud indeed.

I don’t know any man, I says,

I’d do it for, says I,

As fast, I says, as for yoursel’,

That’s tellin’ ye no lie.

There’s nought, says I, I wudn’t do

To plase your feyther’s son,

But this, I says, ye see, says I,

I says, it can’t be done.

 

 IMG_1222

IMG_1236

IMG_1188

IMG_1202

 

What Shall I Say About the Irish?

The utterly impractical, never predictable,

Sometimes irascible, quite inexplicable, Irish.Strange blend of shyness,

pride and conceit,

And stubborn refusal to bow in defeat.

He’s spoiling and ready to argue and fight,

Yet the smile of a child

fills his soul with delight.

His eyes are the quickest to well up with tears,

Yet his strength is the strongest

to banish your fears.

His hate is as fierce as his devotion is grand,

And there is no middle ground

on which he will stand.

He’s wild and he’s gentle,

he’s good and he’s bad.

He’s proud and he’s humble,

he’s happy and sad.

He’s in love with the ocean,

the earth and the skies,

He’s enamoured with beauty wherever it lies.

He’s victor and victim, a star and a clod,

But mostly he’s Irish—

in love with his God.

IMG_2662

IMG_2657

The Irish…

Be they kings, or poets, or farmers,

They’re a people of great worth,

They keep company with the angels,

And bring a bit of heaven here to earth

IMG_1257

IMG_1185

IMG_1201

 

 

Planes,Trains, Automobiles & Parmesan Cheese

Remember the movie “Trains, Planes and Automobiles”? Well that’s what it felt like during the 30 hour trip over to Italia. Thanks goodness for lavender spray, lots of water and many of good hardy laughs, Yoli and I finally arrived in Parma on Monday 9/16 at 9:15 pm.

Safe in sound but with a few little hiccups. (1) omg the bathrooms are so small (2) um the Wi-fi at our apartment (not working) (3) Jet Lag – Jet Lag – Jet Lag. But after a good nights rest we hit the ground running and have been going nonstop ever since.

So first let me give you a little background on the fabulous city of Parma. Geography is destiny. Parma lies in northwest Emilia-Romagna. The region spans nearly the entire breadth of Italy, sharing borders with Tuscany and Liguria to the south and Lombardy and the Veneto to the north. A huge swath of the Po River plain, the biggest and richest tract of farmland in the country, falls inside Emilia-Romagna’s boundaries. The three great foods associated with Parma—Parmesan cheese, prosciutto, and handmade pastas owe their first debt to this extraordinarily fertile land. Wheels of Parmesan are branded with the year and month they were produced, so you know exactly what you’re getting. Aged for 18 months to three years, the cheese is generally at its most expressive at about two years. Winter Parmesan has a deeper, more complex flavor than that made in summer.

 

IMG_0343

Parma should really be called “City of Food.” In addition to the ham and cheese, it is home to much of Italy’s industrial food processing and the manufacture of food-processing equipment, and holds food trade fairs of international importance.

Parmesan cheese and Parma ham are emphatically not export-only foods. Meals all over the city begin with an antipasto of prosciutto, with or without melon, and end with a cheese course of little chunks of Parmesan broken off with a special almond-shaped knife, and it is grated over much of what comes in between. Visitor’s to Parma do not have to go far to find the local products. Just pop into any salumeria and ask for an etto, or 3.53 ounces, the basic unit in which food is sold in Italy) of crudo. You’ll be given the genuine article sliced paper thin. You can have the cheese grated on the spot (if you’re going to use it immediately) or, more properly, buy it in one piece. Most shops will also slice your ham directly onto a roll.

Some years ago I read about a native of Parma complain that he couldn’t eat Parmesan in Rome, or indeed outside Parma. The reason, I now understand, is that the cheese is treated better by the shopkeepers and restaurateurs of Parma. It is protected from abrupt changes of temperature and not allowed to dry out. The rapidity with which entire cheeses are consumed also guarantees that a cut cheese hasn’t been sitting around longer than it needs to.

The mere sight of one of those fabled storerooms with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with 80-pound yellow cheeses in various stages of aging suffices for one to know that one is in the presence of greatness. Though the equipment is modern, this is artisanal, not industrial, production and what goes on in the nearly 1,000 factories or cheese-making establishments, in the legally designated Parmigiano-Reggiano area is strictly controlled by a consortium of producers. Production is about three million cheeses a year.

IMG_1600

The highlight of my visit to Parma is the to finally set foot into the wonderful world of cooking at the Academia Barilla- (The Italian Food Academy). Chef’s and foodies from across the globe attend this school each year to learn all the fundamental’s of true Italian cooking. The Barilla Center is located, just steps away from downtown Parma, on the grounds of the former Barilla Pasta Factory, built in 1910. There on the grounds of the Barilla Center is home to The Gastronomic Library of Academia Barilla that houses a unique collection of texts relating to the culinary arts. It’s a collection of over 8,500 books on food and gastronomy is available to the public.

IMG_1609

 

IMG_1615

 

IMG_1628

IMG_1630

So much to learn and so much to eat. Thank goodness my BFF Yoli loves to cook and can totally dig a good food crawl too. We travel well together, we make a good team. Im so blessed to have such a dear friend like her in my life.

IMG_1639

“Get it Girl”………. lol …….. Pure Hotness in Parma…… BFF Yoli

And did I mention the outdoor markets and all the fruits and vegetables that cover all the colors in the rainbow? Well take a look. These beauties where so naturally gorgeous there is no need to add a filter of color for photo editing purposes. Organic and mesmerizing to gaze at.

IMG_1675

IMG_1671

IMG_1669

IMG_1674

So after the jet lag wore itself out and I got a little settled down I just took time to walk and take in the sights. These are not sights that one is able to see everyday. So I decided breathe, smile, sigh, marvel and count myself grateful for a safe trip over the Atlantic. I love getting the opportunity to finally slow it down for a little bit.

IMG_1601

 

IMG_1576

 

IMG_1602

IMG_1650

For now I send my love to my Hubs, I already miss him like mad. But he will be here to join us next week. Next stop is Florence…..But for now it’s time to fluff my pillow and get some sleep.

Buona Notte ama (Good Night Loves)

XO……Missy