Nicolli di Fontanelle

Italy. It’s almost impossible to put this trip into words. Serene, a dream, pasta, wine.

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Josemi, a close friend Lauren and I jetted off to the Amalfi coast for a weekend. We flew into Naples where a driver picked us up and drove us down the beautiful coastline past Mount Vesuvius to the small village Colli di Fontanelle. We arrived late at night and walked from our airbnb to the town center to a restaurant recommended by our driver, Mezzaluna, where he said we must try the pistachio pizza. We successfully ordered in Italian! Only one embarrassing moment when I moved my  hand like the Italian stereotype while saying molto bene.

Here we started with the house wine and shrimp carpaccio. I was so pleasantly surprised with the simplicity of the dish and the immense flavors. Fresh shrimp, arugula and cherry tomatoes with a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I can’t wait to attempt this dish on my own. We continued with two pasta dishes and the pistachio pizza. A perfect welcome meal to our weekend. In good company and surrounded by locals. Back at the airbnb we finished off a bottle of red wine.

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The next morning we woke up early thanks to the neighborhood rooster but were in awe of the sunrise over the water. We had a breakfast on our terrace with fresh figs from the garden and cheese on toast. We forced our way onto an overcrowded bus and headed down the winding coastal road towards Positano.

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We stopped in Le Sirenuse for a drink near the pool. Everything about this hotel is perfect. Have we died and gone to heaven? The most beautiful place with impeccable interior design.

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After our quick, luxurious aperativo, we knew no place we stopped at next could compete with where we had just been. We walked down the hill and turned into a garden open terrace to have an outdoor lunch. We had some burrata, more pasta and some eggplant parmesan. Before heading down to the rocky shore to soak up some of the last summer sun.

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Next we drank an abundance of aperol spritz’ before walking up winding staircases to find a bus to take us home. Also enjoying a pistachio gelato and buying another bottle of wine for home.

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We got home, showered and changed and made our way back into the town for a late dinner at Il Refugio. Had one of the most amazing gnocchi dishes as well as a delicious citrus risotto that I can’t wait to replicate in my kitchen. FullSizeRender (3)

Sunday morning came fast and we woke up early again due to the rooster and our British loud voiced neighbors. We made our way down the hill to Sorrento. Wish we could have spent more time here as it was absolutely breathtaking. I guess I wasn’t expecting anything breathtaking so I was pleasantly surprised. We found a small restaurant with good reviews and it turned out to be the best meal of the trip. Tavern Allegra is a home style restaurant with simple decor and great customer service. The food was to die for. Our favorite was the cozze alla sorrentina, Sorrento style mussels. I’ve already tried to make these at home and will soon post about it.

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We made our way down towards the water and stopped at the lovely Hotel Tramotano. Lauren has has had this old picture of this hotel framed in her room for years and finally got to see it in person. We finished our day in Sorrento with more gelato and a few more aperol spritz’ before hopping on the ferry to Naples to catch a Sunday night flight home to Madrid. Although it was a short trip it was more than worth it. I would love to go back to these coastal towns any time. Italy is always a dream.

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Photo credits: Lauren Twisselman @lotwiss

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Bomba – Inspiración de Cádiz

So last spring I went down to Cádiz with my good friend Rachel. Cadiz is beautiful and often compared to La Havana, Cuba. This small coastal city is full of life, especially in the spring and summer months.  We stayed at the most adorable and central Airbnb you can find here. We truly enjoyed our weekend to the fullest eating our way through the small city and taking in the southern Spanish sunshine. The reason I’m writing this so late is because I keep thinking back to a dinner we had one night at La Candela. Everything we ate there was delicious but I can’t get this dish out of my head. Something so rich that I can’t forget about it and had to attempt to make it for myself.

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I N G R E D I E N T S

foie gras, two packs or two slices

goat cheese, crumbled

green apple, thinly sliced

walnuts, chopped

candied peanuts

virgin olive oil

lambs lettuce

I N S T R U C T I O N S

Basically you just have to layer all of these ingredients together. First put down one slice of foie gras and then layer apple slices, goat cheese, walnuts, peanuts and lambs lettuce. Then layer with another slice of foie gras. Top with more apple slices, nuts, lambs lettuce and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Cheap Ramen – Recipe

I love ramen. The broth is the most important part but making this at home can take hours and lots of hard to find ingredients. Even after taking the time I am still far from mastering the art of a good ramen broth. Here’s the lazy lady version of fancy ramen at home.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Eggs, one per person

Pork (a cut with some fat is better)

Ramen packs, 1 per person, any flavor you want

Fresh ginger, 2 or 3 1in slices

1 clove garlic, smashed

3 green onions, cut in half

1-2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp miso, if you want

1 tsp sesame oil

1-2 bunches bok choy

1 bunch enoki mushrooms, cut off woody stem

shitake mushrooms, remove stems and cut however

 

T O P P I N G S

green onion, chopped

sesame seeds

sriracha

nori sheets

 

I N S T R U C T I O N S

First, slow poach your eggs following this method from my previos post The Slow Poached Egg.

“Marcar” the pork, or quickly brown it in a skillet or roast it if thats your jam.

Measure water needed for however many ramen packets your going to make and add an extra cup or so. EX: 1 pack=3 cups water 2packs=5-6 cups water. Add flavor packs to water and heat. Add ginger, garlic and green onions to broth. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and/or miso.

Add bok choy and mushrooms to simmering broth. When veggies are soft, add noodles. When noodles are almost done add pork to finish cooking. Serve noodles and top with egg and whatever other toppings you like.

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Fandango – Pacific Grove, CA

Finally I got the wonderful opportunity to dine with my grandmother at her favorite restaurant. She has always raved about this place and I was ecstatic when she invited Josemi and I to join her for lunch.

I love driving down the coast towards Monterey. It reminds me of the many times I drove it going don’t towards CSU Monterey Bay. I can’t believe I graduated four years ago. On the way down we took a detour through the artichoke fields in Castroville and stopped to see the otters at Moss Landing. We got to the restaurant about 20 minutes early so we shopped around in a nearby second hand store that uses the proceeds to help out with homeless dogs.

Fandango is a beautiful european style restaurant in an old homey building with many different dining rooms. We sat at my grandma’s favorite table, number 22,  in the corner of a room looking out onto a lush garden. The tables are all decorated with fresh flowers and covered in white linens. The decoration is simple, warm and welcoming. We ordered an amazing bottle of pinot noir and escargot to start. This was served with delicious warm bread and butter. We followed with a salad, pasta primavera, sandabs and liver and onions. Everything was exquisite. For desert, profiteroles with coffee. It defiantly lives up to the high standards my grandmother holds it to. Pleasant and charming and I can’t wait to eat here again.

We are planning a girls trip down to sit at table 22 at Christmas time and share this place with my sisters. See you soon California!

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Taberna La Carmencita – Chueca, Madrid

Un lugar precioso. So charming. The second oldest tavern in Madrid. Josemi used to come here almost every day for lunch. We stopped by this summer. We were lucky to grab a small table near a window right next to some ladies having a discussion about some of their favorite writers. The walls are decorated with beautiful tiling and the tables are dark wood. The food was great, fresh, I highly recommend trying the fish and a glass of vermouth. This is the type of place I would take a friend to who is visiting from out of town to show off my city. They specialize in traditional Spanish cuisine. Sí, sí y sí.

Taberna La Carmencita

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Un finde Gallego

This year for Easter vacation we booked a last minute trip to A Coruña, a small coastal city on the coast of the region Galicia. I’ve been avoiding this region in hopes of one day doing the Camino de Santiago. I wanted to first set foot in Galicia and in Santiago de Compostela with a backpack and not much else but I couldn’t stay away. We took the six hour train ride to A Coruña and I closed my eyes as we passed Santiago so that I wouldn’t spoil my future camino.

So, we stayed in A Coruña for two nights and it was just enough time to see everything we wanted and to get a feel for the city. Our hotel was on the port side of the city and it was located very central and close to some of the most beautiful buildings. We were so lucky to have sunshine and good weather especially as they say “it always rains during Semana Santa.” The people in A Coruña were kind and we found some of the best spots to eat.

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Our first night we had dinner at A Taberna de Cunquiero on Rua Estrella 22. We walked into this crowded bar/restaurant located on a busy street full of other places to eat. We squeezed into a spot at the bar and started out with some regional Mencía wine. Our drinks came with a small bowl of soup for a tapa. Later we ordered more wine and a ración of zamburiñas and berberechos. The quality of this shellfish was impeccable and Josemi and I were immediately impressed by A Coruña’s cuisine.

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Our second day in the city we dedicated to exploring. We walked along the beach and had a long walk around the peninsula and to the Torre de Hercules. There we came across views that made me homesick for Caifornia and Big Sur. The coast of northern Spain is so similar to California’s northern coast.

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That afternoon we were hungry for pulpo (octopus). We read reviews for Pulpeira O Fiuza on Avenida Navarra, 33 and decided to check it out. From the outside this place looks like an appliance store or something and Josemi and I were a bit wary about going in. Walking into the place we quickly saw that it was full of older Gallegos and we knew we had acertado (got it right), The menu is very simple, something that most great spots have, so we got an order of pulpo and a half order of padrón peppers. For desert we had some soft tetilla cheese with some membrillo (quice jelly). This place is a must, just be sure to ask a waiter for a table.

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On our last day in A Coruña we walked around the city, grabbed a long breakfast and wandered around wasting time before catching the bus back to Madrid. We came across Taller de Pan Banneton Galera, 29. It caught my eye because on the window I saw “SOURDOUGH.” Here is where we learned that sourdough in Spanish is masa madre. I am embarrassed at how long it took me to figure this out. I am such a bread lover that when I was kid they called me Bread Girl at my local supermarket, how did I not know about masa madre sooner? So the bread we got at this place was amazing. The perfect sourdough loaf and I have yet to find one as good in Madrid.

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With this nice spring weather I am getting a huge travel urge. This week we are booking trips for the next months and some food based summer road trips. Can’t wait!

Porto

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So now I have been to Portugal twice in my life and have decided that its a magical place. The people are so kind, the food is great and it’s romantic. After my first trip to Lisbon I came back to Madrid with an urge to learn Portuguese and move back there one day. While in Porto a few weeks ago I said to Josemi a few times “estoy muy feliz aquí”. Now I can’t wait to plan a trip to Portugal’s southern coast.

So, Porto. A small port city north of Lisbon placed alongside the river Douro. Home of Port Wine. All we did was eat and drink and walk around this beautiful place.

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One afternoon we crossed the river to the Port Wineries and checked out Kopke “the oldest port wine house”. They did a wine and chocolate pairing with five wines for under twenty euros. We at a table near the window overlooking the Douro while sipping our wine. Our favorite was the Colheita 1999 Port. We tried to buy a bottle but remembered we were traveling only with carry on bags so it wouldn’t be possible. Currently searching for that bottle in Madrid.

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The second day we went on a hunt for the best Francesinha. Several friends told me that it was the thing to eat in Portugal so of course I was intrigued. We finally found a place with amazing reviews and stopped by for lunch. It was good but I’m not sure why people seem so obsessed with it. Walking around Porto almost every restaurant advertised their Francesinha. It’s a meaty sandwich filled with steak, sausage and ham and covered with cheese and a thick tomato sauce served with french fries. Sure it’s good, but that’s about it. Josemi thinks it’s the same idea as the Spanish Cachopo, breaded steak with cheese and ham inside.

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One night we decided to try a tapas style restaurant across the plaza from our apartment, Taberna do Largo. This place is a modest bar/store with a quiet candle lit atmosphere. You might miss it walking by but it’s the place with the red doors. We sat at a small wooden table in the back and ordered a few dishes to share and more than a few glasses of port wine. If you know Josemi and I you know that at almost every new place we go, if they offer a cheese or charcuterie plate on the menu we try it. We were not disappointed. Our favorites from this one were the smokey chorizo and the soft goat cheese were to die for. We asked about the cheese and learned that it was from small supplier in Alcains, located inland, not to far from Spain. On our way out we bought a wheel of cheese to take home.

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Taberna do Largo

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On our last day in Porto we took a day trip to the ocean. We just hopped on a bus that took us along the river and it was beautiful. Note: the buses run much less frequently than in Madrid.

Shout out to Josemi who was a rockstar speaking portuguese while I could barely call for a taxi.

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