Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sparkling Champagne Truffles

I had to try this recipe the instant I found it online. I have been working on some personal projects and thought this would be a decadent extra to those who are to receive them. I needed to find something that would grasp their attention, and I thought this recipe would do the trick. Plus, I’ve always had a fascination with them even though I am not an certified “Chocolatier”.



The recipe comes from Martha Stewart. I did not have any Cognac in the house but I did have Chambord so I used that as an alternative. The result: I think personally better but I think it depends on what your taste buds gravitate to. Check it out below:


Monday, March 17, 2014

Catch Up

Such a long time from here. Too long. Much too long. Much has happened since I have last visited here. My schedule has become much less time consuming which means I can focus on sharing again! Just a small recap since I was last here. More of my pictures from my endeavors are on Instagram and Twitter if you want to see more of what I have been up to recently.



I toured the Golden Isles for a very special event of my sister's wedding. Drank one a many gin and tonics, soaked some sun, and enjoyed many walks along the beach. I had the opportunity to have my first Dairy Queen Blizzard in years which was shocking, to say the least. I enjoyed the holidays both in DC and Baltimore. Ate a ton, drank a ton and had a wonderful time with the family and friends. More importantly, I got to make my favorite holiday dish, our family’s very own Oysters Rockefeller. 



Lately however, I have been experiencing very intense food cravings. I think it is because of this crazy weather DC has been experiencing this season. For instance, I can have a chocolate chip muffin every day of my life if I wanted to, no matter how hard someone tries to stop me. Turkey and avocado wraps with lettuce, tomato and cheddar cheese have been nonstop, especially since my favorite deli in town knows how to make them the way I like them. Sweet potatoes have also been a thing for me lately, especially sweet potato soup. Its filling for the weather but not too heavy on your stomach. I also developed a trend for peas lately. Peas in pasta, pea soup, pea risotto, you name it. I think Spring was flirting with my taste buds and I had to take advantage of it. 


I have developed a passionate love for scotch over this season and starting to consider to make some of my own digestives and aperitifs. I will keep you posted what I discover, because I am starting to believe that I cannot live without some of these new discoveries.



As for places? Well, I am obsessed with Rose’s Luxury in Capitol Hill and Mintwood Place is becoming a solid staple, especially since I am not far away from this little treasure. 

There is much more, plus posts that I committed to finish sharing so stay tuned. I just started catching up.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

41 Degrees


I feel compelled to share one final experience in Barcelona which was at 41 Degrees, the renown restaurant by Albert Adria. For those unaware who Albert Adria is, he is the brother to Ferran Adria, the man behind the restaurant, El Bulli in Roses, Spain. These masterminds decided to open 41 Degrees since closing El Bulli back in 2011.

I did not get to experience El Bulli in its prime, but 41 Degrees was certainly an exception. 41 Degrees allows their guests to use all senses in creating the ultimate gastronomic experience. It felt as if I was enjoying dinner and theater together, performing together as one.

Below are highlights of my experience at the restaurant. Even though these pictures are only small samplings of what my meal was there, nothing can compare to what it felt like in person. I was in the middle of my own, intimate culinary dream and did not want to wake up.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Boqueria


The Boqueria, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Barcelona was by far, one of my favorite places to visit during my trip to Spain. I think I visited it every day while I was there.



The one way I believe you can grasp the ultimate feel of how a culture lives is by visiting the local market. You can see everything there: How people interact with one another, what are the local commodities, what items are considered popular, how items are marketed to the demographic, it is ultimately one of the most exposed ways of observing a culture and I absorbed it like a sponge.


The Boqueria’s origins are unknown to this date, but historians do know that the market was built around 1200. It was known as a market for travelers but evolved into a destination for locals throughout several centuries.The Boqueria also was not originally in the same exact location. It was originally along the La Rambla, one of the city’s main pedestrian areas, but as the market’s popularity grew, so did the market. The church of Saint Josep was eventually destroyed in 1835 in order to make more room for the market. Today, the Boqueria’s eclectic atmosphere has grown to international fame throughout the past century, so much that it won the “Best Market in the World” in 2005 at the World Markets Congress in Washington, DC.



I could spend hours at the Boqueria just sampling, savoring and buying all of the delectable foods they offer on a daily basis. I probably would have a dinner party at least one night a week just so I could find an excuse to go there. As you approach the open aired entrance, prized legs of jamon are dangling at the sides of the market, teasing your appetite. If that is not enough for you, mountains of chocolates and sweets tumble along your path, secretly flirting with your sweet tooth. I had a difficult time to not spoil my dinner while I was touring the Boqueria for the first time. From there, endless rows of fruits, vegetables, various meats and seafood overflow the market as if it was Willy Wonka’s Factory of food. I could not leave.




The feast does end start there. Just following to the right of the entrance, Quim Marquez, one of Barcelona’s celebrated chefs, operates a humble tapas bar known as El Quim de la Boqueria. El Quim has been the home to the Boqueria since 1987 and remains to be a mandatory destination to savor classic Spanish tapas.




I simply did not have enough time in this original Barcelona institution. If I had it my way, I probably would stay another week just to get the full flavor of places such as the Boqueria. The Boqueria made me understand why Barcelona is a culinary destination for aspiring chefs or adventurous foodies. The endless variety of local foods are presented in such a basic yet magical way that leaves you speechless if you are touring for the first time. When I return, I will undoubtedly make sure that I make an excuse to visit the Boqueria at any chance I get. 




Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A La Casa






So much time has passed and I still have not even shared one bit of my travels in Spain! I mainly went to Spain as a monumental birthday gift to myself. My birthday is in December so I decided to go in the early Spring when the weather is not as harsh.

My idea of traveling is that I try to travel as local as possible wherever I go. In this case, I stayed with a wonderful family outside of Barcelona in Terrassa. They reminded me of my close friend's family in Germany. Their genuine hospitality, the more than authentic foods, the local surroundings, I cannot get enough of it and I never will.

The best introduction I could ever have to Spanish cuisine, apart from my day job of course, was to be a guest of this wonderful house. I did not get to have the restful 3 hour nap that I usually get upon arrival in Germany, but I did get to enjoy a 1.5 power nap instead to get myself back on my feet and more importantly, ready to eat my heart away. I ate every day in Spain as if it was Thanksgiving, and I feel like that is how it is like no matter where you go in the country. I left with an overall impression that everyone eats and drinks all day long. Rather, I felt their whole day is around eating and drinking. Despite our terribly high rates of obesity in this country, I feel like our whole day is surrounded by work rather than food, but that is another conversation for another time. 

What better way to start off your first trip to Spain than having paella? Even though I have no photos, I still remember the taste in my mouth as if it happened yesterday: fresh mussels, chicken and vegetables as if they came straight from the backyard. No matter how much I ate, there was still more for some reason, as if it was a dream. We washed the deliciousness with a local American white wine I brought from home as a gift. Despite the dense language barrier, my new friends understood every expression I had as I enjoyed their simple but yet masterpiece of a lunch they specially made for me. 


After a marathon day of traveling in the city, I returned home to, you guessed it, more food. What fascinated me the most out of this meal was the beberichos, otherwise known as cockles. I think I have tried this simple treasure once before when I was a child at a Spanish restaurant in Germany, but it was such a vague memory that I would not even consider it valid anymore.  I asked my friends at least twice what these were as I could not imagine the idea of the insides of mini seashells. Salty but sweet, briny and so simple, I could eat those little guys all day long with some bread, olives and  wine. For what I thought was it for the evening, we then feasted on lightly fried merluza, or hake as we call it. I think I ate a whole foot long fish. We finished with some light cookies and fresh fruit. It could not have been a more perfect start to my trip, even though my head was struggling to stay up at this point. 

Out of all of these wonderful items I tried at my friends' home, I immediately went searching for cockles once I returned from my trip. I had a terrible time finding them in DC, but I did manage to discover them in New York during one visit. They costed me a fat $17, but I was so happy that I finally discovered them that I did not care how much they cost me to enjoy them again. Will I think again the next time I see them? Yes, even though I would rather enjoy them anytime, all the time. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Finally, Espana!



I have to admit, my day job sometimes takes over my writing much longer than expected. Oh well, the restaurant does come first after all.

Anyway, I finally made it to Spain in March. I actually wanted to go for quite some time now, and I finally found an opportunity to do so! It was purely the best trip I had in a long time. What's even greater is that I did it alone. Yes, why not? Sometimes going solo allows you to experience more, get to know more people, and explore more places in my opinion. Do not get me wrong, I love traveling with companions. Sometimes, however you need to just let go every now and then if you can make the time. It is so worth it.



This trip is going to take alot of explaining to do so this my so-called introduction. I traveled to Barcelona and stayed there most of my time. I finished my trip by going to San Sebastian before heading back home. As every European trip of mine ends, I did not want to leave. There is something in the air on the other side of the ocean that makes me want to stay forever. I cannot describe it. I reject my intuition every time and return back home. One day I will finally listen to it and stay I suppose. Until then, I have much to share!


If you ever want to feel like you are in a dream where  you can eat whatever you want, wherever you want, and everything is fresh, colorful, creative beyond one's wildest dreams then Spain is the place for you. I did not have one bad meal. Period. I think its almost impossible to have a bad meal in Spain, especially when it is a place where people live their lives rather than work their lives like we do in the States.

I did not get to try everything that I wanted to but I sure have the pictures to make up for it. Plus, its another reason to return.

Alright, vamos!

Monday, February 4, 2013

World Nutella Day!

World Nutella Day has returned once again!

This day has been and continues to be a wonderfully modern way to bring people together from all parts of the globe. This year, I decided to do something simple for this occasion. Throughout this past week I had a continuous craving for chocolate chip muffins. I usually buy them at bakery but I wanted the luxury of having them at home. Plus, I wanted to experiment to see if I could make them better.


Result: Sucess! I They were rediculously easy to make and to make things a little more creative, I decided cut them in halves and spread Nutella all over them. They were so addictive that I now need to take a break from eating them so this week I decided to snack on granola bars instead.

Below is the recipe for anyone interested in giving this a try. Happy Nutella Day!

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners or spray the wells of the pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, eggs, milk, and vanilla, mixing until well combined.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. Stir until ingredients are just combined - do not over mix the batter. Fold in the chocolate chips.
5. Evenly divide the batter into the prepared muffin pan wells. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
6. Remove muffins to a wire rack and cool for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy!

And do not forget the Nutella!

Link to this recipe: http://www.mybakingaddiction.com/chocolate-chip-muffins-recipe/


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