Showing posts with label 24x24. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 24x24. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Island Sides

The past few days have been feeling more Caribbean-like up here in the northeast. I stepped off the train this morning and was greeted by a hot, humid gust of Long Island wind. Not only is the morning heat very reminiscent of the islands, these afternoon thunderstorms are too!

There is just one big difference between enjoying Caribbean weather while on vacation and suffering through it on a regular day. I try to look presentable when going to work where I don't even bother with mascara on vacation. This humidity is making my hair straightener work overtime! Even after ten minutes with the iron, all of my hard work is undone upon opening the front door!

Luckily I have an appointment at the salon this weekend, where I will cut several inches off my hair. This will make it lighter and easier to curl. The straight-haired days of winter are over. Time to embrace bouncy curls once again! (Which means its also time to confuse my male coworkers with my ever changing hair.)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Paradise Chicken

Since I shared with you an island drink yesterday, I thought that today I would tell you a little bit about that island.  St Kitts, home of Ting, is part of the Caribbean country including its neighboring island Nevis.  Boyfriend and I spent a week there a few years ago and loved every minute of it.

If you are looking for a quiet island with lots to do, this is the place to book your next vacation.  Boyfriend and I were drawn to St Kitts with its promise of lush rain forests, clear blue waters and monkeys!

Yes, monkeys!  The monkeys that live on St Kitts are not naturally from the island and were brought there by the French as pets in the 1600's.  Now they abound in the rain forests and you can even find them by the beaches, drinking your cocktails.  (Enjoy a laugh and google drunken St Kitts monkeys!)

You should definitely judge your vacation location depending on its lack or abundance of monkeys.

We also spent a good portion of time hiking through the rain forest and walking through Basseterre.  We ate locally made ice cream in the port during the day and barbecued chicken on the beach at night.  There was always an abundance of empty beaches with calm water for snorkeling and wave-filled beaches for the acrobat in your family.

We lived on chicken while we were on St Kitts.  The many different beach huts we frequented all offered their delicious poultry options.  For our Caribbean dreams menu, chicken had to be the main course.  I chose a dish with heat, traditionally found on St Thomas.  If you're not a fan of spicy foods, just remove the habanero pepper!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Caribbean Dreams

It's the unofficial start of summer here in the United States!  Memorial day weekend marks the beginning of weekends at the beach, late nights over the fire pit and long bike rides in the sun.  To celebrate summer, boyfriend and I threw a dinner party for our friends with the warm weather in mind.  While the northeast won't be greeted with tropical weather this weekend, we soon will be basking in heat and humidity.

Traditionally, boyfriend and I head to the Caribbean right around the time we get sick of winter.  This means that come February, we are packing up our suitcases with bathing suits and sunscreen, getting ready to escape the snow and clouds.  Whether it be a trip on a cruise, sailing from island to island, or a week at a beach side resort, wiling away the hours lazing on the beach.  It doesn't matter where we go, as long as it's warm!

We never wind up just sitting and relaxing of course.  If you know us, you know that boyfriend and I cannot sit still for very long.  On our trips to the islands, you might find us snorkeling, hiking, rappelling, zip-lining or canyoning.  Our day-long adventures lead us to be extremely hungry come the end of the day!  The best way to finish your day in the islands is eating at a beach side hut, enjoying food prepared by locals.

Along our travels throughout the Caribbean, I have picked up a number of local cookbooks.  Since we only travel south once a year, I wanted to be able to remember that vacation feeling while at home.  It was from these cookbooks that we planned out Caribbean dreams dinner party for our friends.

In order to unofficially start summer here in New Jersey, we enjoyed a dinner from the islands!  The food took us island hopping from Key West to St Thomas.  Drinks and desserts brought us from St Kitts to Grenada.  We journeyed all over the Caribbean sea in a single evening!  Throughout the week, you can take the same trip we took and today we begin with drinks.

While I was still a Postdoc, boyfriend and I took a week long trip to St Kitts.  While the island is an excellent place for hiking, snorkeling and monkey sighting, it is also home to Ting.  During our week on St Kitts, we probably drank a few dozen bottles of Ting.  A sparkling, tangy grapefruit soda, Ting is bottled on St Kitts (originating on the island of Jamaica!) and is a favorite local drink.  If you're looking to enjoy your vacation a little more, pour in some rum, for Ting with a sting!

Stop by all week for the rest of our Caribbean dreams dinner and take a trip of your own!

Drinks - Ting & Ting with a sting - St Kitts

Appetizer - Coconut Shrimp with mango-lime yogurt - Key West

Main - Paradise Fowl - St Thomas, USVI

Sides - Hot Lulu - Cayman Islands
         - Island Salad - Dominica

Dessert - Traditional Chocolate Cake - Grenada (I'm not going to share this recipe quite yet, because to be honest, it wasn't that good.  Straight from the cookbook, this cake came out bitter and oily.  Totally not blog-worthy!)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Poffertjes: Cheese Pancakes

Here we are at last, we've finally made it to Amsterdam.  It's been a long journey through the continent (and you even got to sit out our time in Austria and the long drive across Germany!) and The Netherlands is our country of exit.  After our time in Venice, boyfriend and I headed through Innsbruck and on to Munich.  The Munich airport had a plethora of automatic transmission cars and we were on our way, on the autobahn!

Through Germany we travelled, stopping at castles and small towns, and into Holland, with its speed limit, boo.  We drove our tiny little rental car into the heart of Amsterdam and checked into our super cool hotel.  The front desk held a dish of stroopwafels, delicious little caramel-filled wafers, which we stole many of during our short stay there.

Boyfriend and I weren't really sure what to expect in Amsterdam, but we were both pleasantly surprised.  It's a beautiful city, cross-hatched by canals and green with parks.  We passed by more museums than we could possibly visit with a whole week in town.  We enjoyed a fragrant walk through the flower market and bought my mom some "blue" tulips (they turned out to be pink when they came up in the spring).  We finished up our evening with a table full of Indian food and a late-night stroll through the red-light district.  The very next morning we headed off to Schipol airport and back to the United States, with my new cookbooks in tow.

Mmmm, so gouda...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ravioli di taleggio con salsa alle spugnole

After our journey through Paris and our trials in getting a rental car, we made our way through Switzerland into Italy via train.  We decided that it would be a bad idea to try and learn how to drive a manual transmission car and drive it through the Swiss alps.  This was the best decision of our entire trip.  While we ended up missing out on a day in Interlocken, we gained so much more time by travelling by train. 

Rather than focussing on maps and driving directions, we took our time on the rails to learn about our next destination, play games and talk with fellow travellers.  We travelled through the mountains, skirted lakes and pulled into Venice, from our window seats.

After we checked our luggage at the baggage drop, we made our way through the winding streets of Venice.  A pair of American tourists gave us their vaparetto passes (their friends gave us a second pair, which we passed along to a couple on their honeymoon), which allowed us access to the Venice boat busses. 

We rode the vaparetto along the grand canal and under the Rialto bridge, passed by gondolas and ancient churches.  As the grand canal opened up into the lagoon boyfriend turned to me and "This is completely surreal."  Even though we had seen so many famous landmarks, climbed an unbelievable amount of stairs and taken hundreds of photos, this was truely a surreal moment.

Of all the days we spent travelling across the continent, I remember that day in Venice so vividly.  Our walk around Piazza San Marco, the amazing mushroom tortellini from a hidden bistro and the hazelnut gelato we ate while watching a crazy house dog, all combined for a perfect day in such a unique city.  It would have been a perfect day, had our hotel not given away our room and sent us to the Hotel Marco Polo.

At least it has one redeeming quality, it's PINK!

Brining memories home with mushroom ravioli

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tarte au Chocolate au Lait

If I can give you any advice about Paris, it is this.  Do not wait until the day before you need a car, to try and rent one, especially an automatic.  If you wait until the last moment, you will find that there isn't a single automatic car in the entire city of Paris.  But this advice is for the end of our trip through the city of light, the beginning is so much more fun.

Boyfriend and I set out from London to Paris via train, arriving in Gare du Nord.  Then it was time to put my French to its test.  Beginning in the fifth grade, I started learning the French language.  I continued through college and collected a base knowledge and limited fluency of French.  One thing was true, I was much better at reading French than speaking it.  At least this meant we could find our way from the train station to our hotel on the outskirts of Paris.

My grasp of the French language seemed to fool some people, but mostly I would speak in French and be spoken to in English.  Apparently, I need a little more practice.  We did manage to find our hotel, navigate the train system back to the city center and find our way down the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe.  We made it to the top of the monument just before the Tour Eiffel burst out in a thousand sparkling lights.

Now, how about a little nostalgia?  Shortly after we returned from Europe, I received an e-mail from my mom with the following scan attached.

In French class, way back in middle school, I wrote this itinerary.  My mom wanted to know what I could cross off my list.  Four down, three to go.  With only three days in Paris (and half of one spent looking for a rental car), we couldn't quite get to everything on the list.  I'll practice my French and plan for our next trip to Paris, so that I can finish my list.  Although maybe I'll switch out "Visit EuroDisney" with "Take a trip to Versailles."

Monday, January 30, 2012

Raw salad & Wagamama Dressing

Our trip around Europe in the fall of 2010 began in London, after a harrowing flight from Newark international.  We just barely got out of the country before a hurricane pummeled the east coast.  In true London fashion, we landed in the middle of a light drizzle which slowly turned into a full out downpour.  This would have been fine, except we had decided to walk from the train station to our hotel. 

According to the map, it looked like we only had to walk a few blocks to get to our destination.  Unbeknownst to us, London blocks are a lot bigger than New York City blocks.  They also seem to twist and turn and lead you in the wrong direction.  At one point we wound up by Harrod's, trying to find some internet to activate google maps.

We finally made our way to the right street and slowly began making our toward our hotel, checking building numbers as we went.  Counting, counting, wait, where's our hotel?  We had passed from one building number to a much higher number, skipping our desired number in between.  We circled the block, thinking that we just couldn't have missed a huge Marriott hotel.  Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe it was the crazy London numbering system (I blame you London!), but had we kept walking to the next block, we would have found the hotel.

Soaked to the bone, we checked into our hotel room.  After changing into dry clothes, we headed out to find what we knew was close, Wagamama.  Those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about are confused.  Those who do know what Wagamama is, understand.  Located all over the city, Wagamama tempts you with its noodles, soups and salads.  If you are in Boston, you should get yourself to Quincy Market.  You'll find Wagamama there. 

The soup that I got warmed me through and through.  Boyfriends Chicken Katsu curry (his favorite and the only thing he ever orders there) tempted me too.  Wagamama fueled us for the crazy trip ahead and brought me my first cookbook of the trip.

Thankfully the rain abated (just after we got to our hotel) and gave us a few beautiful, sunny days in London.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Culinary Journey Through Europe - Apfelschorle

I'm so excited to be a part of the Foodbuzz 24x24 this month!  My little dinner party last night was meant to be a culinary journey through Europe, tracing the path of my most recent trip to the continent.  In the fall of 2010, boyfriend and I spent almost two weeks travelling by plane, train, taxi, boat, furnicular, gondola and bus.  Along they way we ate and ate.  We had some of the most wonderful food through our journey and I picked up several souvenirs along the way.  Cookbooks.

Our trip through Europe began in London, England and continued through France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands.  It was a long and crazy trip, but I came home, exhausted, with cookbooks in several languages.  The recipes within their pages would allow boyfriend and I to relive our trip.  It was with these recipes that I introduced my family to Europe.

Let's take a walk through Europe!
With these foreign cookbooks, I was able to bring a multi-cultural dinner to my family back home. Originally I had planned on holding this dinner party in our new apartment with new friends from our new town. There was a small hiccup in the plan when I realized that I had to head home, to Buffalo, for the weekend. My dinner party guests would change from friends, to family.

Dinner started off with an English salad.  Our main course was an Italian ravioli with mushroom sauce.  The Dutch gave us poffertjes, tiny cheese pancakes, packed with major flavor.  Our drinks were of German descent (surprise, they are non-alcoholic). And of course, dessert was handled by the French pastry master, Gerard Mulot.

I was a little concerned that the flavors from five different countries wouldn't play well together.  Luckily, that wasn't a problem at all.  In fact each recipe had a few ingredients from another recipe.  Each person had their own favorite item from the menu.  Personally, I loved the poffertjes.  My mom loved the pasta dish, with its rich mushroom flavor.  My brother wanted to eat the entire chocolate tart, while his girlfriend went back for seconds of salad.  Dad?  He's a big chocolate fan too.

I think my family enjoyed their culinary trip to Europe.  If you can't take a European vacation this month, be sure to treat yourself to one (or more) of these recipes.  Today you'll find a quick recipe for our German beverage, followed by the remaining four recipes throughout the week.

Come with me on a trip through Europe and enjoy some tasty meals along the way!

Apple-Spritzer (Apfelschorle)

Germany many be known for Oktoberfest and beer, but my family isn't really the beer-drinking kind.  After some recipe searching, I found the apple-spritzer.  A popular German soft drink, combining a splash of apple juice with sparkling water.  Each person was given a glass and allowed them to mix their desired amount of juice with water.  I went heavy on the sparkling water to keep the flavor light.

Natural apple juice
lemon sparkling water (you can use plain)

Combine apple juice and sparkling water in your desired ratio.  Prost!

Additional Recipes (links will be active on the listed dates!)

England: Wagamama Salad (1/30/2012)

France: Milk Chocolate Tart (1/31/2012)

Italy: Ravioli with mushroom sauce (2/1/2012)

The Netherlands: Poffertjes (2/2/2012)
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