Monday, August 20, 2012


 Back in Ireland, Sam showed me around the quaint little town of Cork where she had been studying for the past few months. 
Finally nice to have a home cooked
 meal  after  eating out so much.
We made roasted veggies quinoa ,
simple salad and garlic carrots!
Infamous Banoffe Pie!
Mum & I at the University Cork College
Home brewed Shannon Cider
 at the Francisco Well,
a local pub originally
 founded by monks.

The parents arrived the next day and we drove to Galway and did some exploring on the Aran Islands.
On the Ferry Ride over to the Aran Island

3 sisters on atop a beautiful Irish Isle
From there we headed over to Dublin....

Who knew we could find such
 authentic SchezuanFood in Dublin?

No Dublin experience would be complete
without a visit to the Guinness Storehouse : )

And up to North Ireland to Belfast:
Family at the breathtaking
Giant's Causeaway!
St. George's Food Market
Some of the delicious spread
at St. George'

Various different food stands too.
This one's Moroccan!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back with a Vengeance!

Hello World!
I am officially a college graduate now! After a whirlwind tour of Portugal, Ireland and the UK, flying back in time to walk, moving into my new apartment, visiting home for 3 days, I'm finally settling back into a normal pace of life in San Diego. Post graduation goals for this year include: finding a job, keeping in touch with college peeps, keeping up with my work out regiment, and of course updating this blog more! I'm shooting for weekly updates.

Sam and I spent 5 days in Portugal then two weeks road tripping from Cork, Ireland up to Belfast, Northern Ireland and with a quick flight over to Glasgow we continued our road trip down through Edinburgh, Liverpool and finally London. Here are some highlights:
Lisbon was by far my favorite city out of this trip. This beautiful city had some of the friendliest people I've met on my travels. People would graciously help us with directions before we even ask because they saw us struggling with a map. We saw these gorgeous purple trees all over the city, in plazas and lining whole streets! If anyone knows what kind of trees these are let me know :)

Sam with Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) from Belem.
Making some new friends on a night out in the Barrio Alto ;)

Our last day in Lisbon, we visited the tile museum. Lisbon has so many beautiful old buildings covered in decorative tiles, which were brought over by the moors. Of course we got lost walking to the museum and attempting to bus back. But after all the frustration, we found this little gem of a place. My favorite meal out of this whole trip was a little street cafe where they served fresh tapas. We ordered a simple arugula with brie and walnuts and a honey dressing, Kale & Sausage soup,  and chickpeas with the infamous Portuguese salted cod. The chickpeas were so delicious :)

After an over night stay in Evora, we bused down to Faro, a little beach town on the southern coast of Portugal. Of course, we had unknowingly got off a city earlier than we should have and had to buy new tickets to finally arrive in Faro. So we decided to treat ourselves with a nice dinner. We started with delicious appetizers: evora cheese, cured ham, olives, garlic carrots and bread to go with our wine. Sam ordered veal steaks and I had shrimp porridge like thing (it was interesting, didn't love it or hate it). 

From Faro we took a day trip out to Lagos to see Ponte de Piedade. The Rock formations in the water are breathtaking. Granted, it wasn't the best of beach days (it was quite overcast), we still felt the need to jump into the water. That lasted about 5 minutes because the water was frigid, ha ha.
We warmed up afterwards with lunch: monk fish in a tomato stew.  The owner was so surprised when he checked the lid of the pot and everything was scraped clean!

Our new friend Adam; he drove us around the Algarve in his little Panda. Here we are admiring the view from a fortress in Sangres. We may or may not have picked up Finnish hitchhikers as well...quite the adventure :)

Pictures from Ireland and the UK to follow!
<3 Jo

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Kietz, Interesting beer and Turkish food 
Berlin, Germany- March 3-6 2012
Upon arriving in Berlin (finally!), I wasn't expecting such a big city. I mean I knew it was pretty big but it was much more city like than I had imagined. Max, our host, greeted us at the train station and we walked a short walk to his place. From there he took us to various locations starting with the Sony center. Then we went on to see the Berlin wall, Checkpoint Charlie and we walked around Museum Isle as well. There was so much to see! Max also informed us that we would be going to the Ritter Sport, a German chocolate brand, headquarters to create our own chocolate bars. Enough said. It was awesome. You could pick up to 3 ingredients and they would put that in the chocolate. Erin choose graham cracker and I wanted chili in the chocolate and we both agreed on raspberry. So we ended up with a graham cracker, chili, and raspberry chocolate bar. And it was actually pretty good! The graham cracker added texture, the chili added heat, and the raspberry added fruttiness. It was a well balanced chocolate bar if I do say so myself. 
The worker wrapping up our creation. 
The next day, we were out for more of the city. We headed out bright and early to a tour of the Reichstag (Parliament) Building and after that we walked around and went to the shopping centers, visited Kadwe (one of the biggest department stores in Berlin!) and got boba. 
I, however, was ready to try some real Berlin-er food. Max said, in order to fulfill our experience here, we need to get currywurst, which is a Berlin style sausage at Curry 36. One of the Currywurst stands that have been serving traditional currywurst for a long time. 
It came with a side of delicious seasoned fries and a mound of ketchup and of course the currywurst. 
I kinda wished I had gotten a smaller portion or shared one with Erin because Max's vegetarian doner kebab looked and tasted AMAZING. He got it at one of the most popular food stands in Berlin, Mustafa's. The line went down the street and he waited for a half hour!
But I would have too, it was pure vegetable kebab goodness.

As if that wasn't enough food. We checked out the Kietz of Berlin, which are the small trendy areas where there are cutesy cafes and boutiques. Max said Barcomi's, an American-style cafe, had great dessert and coffee so of course we went to check it out! 

They had a delicious apple-walnut cake with caramel cream cheese frosting. I usually don't like such a thick amount of frosting but this was frosting was rich and velvet-y. I don't know what they added to it but obviously we liked it. 

 Our plate was wiped cleaned of every crumb and smidge of frosting.

On our last day in Berlin, we made the mistake of visiting Sachsenhausen concentration camp right outside of Berlin. It was a super interesting and crazy experience to have been walking on the ground where thousands have died, and probably one of the most depressing, want-to-throw-up moments in my life. But it was good. Other than the freezing temperatures in Sachsenhausen to not lift our moods, we left after a couple hours to take the art tour of Berlin. While walking through the streets of course there were street vendors out tempting me with their food. and I could not resist. I'm not even sure exactly what it was, but it was quite tasty. Some more turkish food for ya. It was some kind of crepe naan in which she toasted and put some yogurt-based sauce and added veggies. 
I especially like the purple lettuce. It added a lot of vibrancy to my picture :) 
Oh street vendors of Europe, you will be the death of me.  

After our arts tour and seeing the East Side Gallery. We decided to call it a day and head back to Max's for some good ol'  German home cooking. We made German spaetzle, a simple homemade pasta made from flour, egg and milk. Pretty simple, but yummy. 

After the spaetzle cooked, we simply added some cheese and cream to it, gave it a stir and stuck it in the oven for the cheese to do its thing. It was almost like mac and cheese but with spaetzle and not macaroni. So good! Max definitely spoiled us. By the end of the day we were all exhausted but full of good food and drink- just how its supposed to be! 

Goodbye Berlin. Until next time! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

3/31-4/2: we visited the beautiful city of Amsterdam. The canals are as beautiful as everyone claims they are!

Unfortunately they didn't have a specific specialty food they are known for but I did particularly like their cheese! I'm not sure if it was the cheese themselves but they had samples out and they had such a variety I tried them all. Once we sampled everything, whenever we stumbled across another Dutch cheese store, there would always be a similar sampling and we could not resist ourselves (this probably happened three or four times! I know, we're bad) but I particularly like the Gouda, the herbed goat cheese, and their pesto cheese. Alongside all the cheeses they also had a selection of mustards to sample with the cheese. It was the first time I paired mustard and cheese but it was delicious!
 We also went in to go look at Baklava. I noticed they have a decent sized population of Turks in Amsterdam. So we went into a store close by our host's, Remy, apartment but didn't decide to get anything but the owner gave us each a piece to try! Unfortunately I didn't get a picture, me being the impatient lady I am devoured the little piece without even thinking. (Later on, we told Remy what happened and he said we were lucky because that rarely happens!)

Other attractions we visited:

  • The Keukenhoff garden- absolutely beautiful. Although, we went kind of early in the season so not all the bulbs had flowered but nevertheless beautiful. 

  • The Anne Frank House- Such an interesting yet haunting experience 

  • The Red Light District- We kind of got lost trying to find it and ended up stumbling upon it. I turned my head and was taken aback. I was scared to even take my camera out in this area, but you really don't want/need pictures from here. 
  • The IAmsterdam sign in Vondel Park 

  • and the city centre of Amsterdam 

Very nice and quaint city, super walkable, I loved the buildings and the canals and people were very friendly. Besides missing my train out of Amsterdam, it was a super chill visit. I loved wandering the streets and into random cutesy stores.
Next city- Berlin, Germany. Jo's fav. She hates me a little right now. :P


Sunday, April 1, 2012

The adventures of backpacking through Europe
Spring Break 2012 with my friend Erin
Destination #1: Brussels, Belgium

We arrived in Brussels with no real plan in mind except that we wanted to get waffles, taste the chocolate and inhale some frites. And that was exactly what we did. Upon arriving in the city center (it took us a while to get there navigating by bus then walking in circles for a bit) we were welcomed with smells of waffles vendors, the hustle and bustle of the city-goers and tourists and tall towering buildings. We knew we were getting close to our final destination (Grand Place) when we started seeing chocolate shops every other store and many souvenir shops.

Being on a budget, as tempting as it was, we didn't want to spend a fortune buying chocolate and that was when the samples came in handy. We weaved in and out of almost all the chocolate shops munching on whatever the shop had to offer and oh my was I in heaven. It was so glorious.

My favorite among many were banana flavored chocolate (I never would have thought, but it was actually really tasty!) and chocolate with hazelnut cream on the inside. I could not get over it. Belgium chocolate definitely has a richer and creamier taste than any other chocolates I've ever tasted.
 And then of course there were the waffles. We had no idea where to start! There were some fancier waffles shops, but what you really had to do is go to the street vendors. We got to try both. In the end, our vote definitely went to the street vendors. They were fresher and cheaper and added to the whole experience. The liege waffles was what you had to get. They are generally thicker consistency and sweeter. You can top off your waffle with any kind of topping you can think of: nutella, whipped cream, strawberries, bananas, white chocolate, milk chocolate and ice cream. 
This was the first waffle I had. We had decided to go to a sit down cafe that served waffles (a guy working at a chocolate shop had recommended it). I was craving ice cream on my waffle, so I got a Liege waffle with a little pitcher of melted Belgium chocolate on the side. It was sooo good! On the other hand, Erin was not so happy with hers. She got the Brussels Waffle, but hers was cold and not as fresh as she'd like it so definitely not up to par. She was not happy with the price she had to pay either. 
Ultimately, we vowed to justify her experience but getting another round of waffles the next day. And hey, I wasn't complaining. This time, we went for the street vendors and followed the crowd to a street vendor. I got my waffle with strawberries and bananas drizzled with chocolate, and Erin got her strawberries and whipped cream waffles. Sweet redemption! We were both happy with our waffles this time around. 
Everything was divine. and something about eating it on the street in front of this little guy

made the moment all the better. :) 

And finally, the Belgium Frites. Nothing special about these guys, but they were pretty tasty if I do say so myself. The sauce was what made them unique. I can't remember exactly what the sauce was called but it was a mustard and mayonnaise combination with a little bit of a kick. 

nom nom nom! 

Only in Belgium. I definitely fulfilled my Belgium experience by indulging in all of the above but hey, I you gotta live a little right? 
Hello to all,

I'm finally back and ready to do some foodie blogging once again! I am currently studying abroad in Cork, Ireland for a semester and let me tell you, it feels surreal. I can't say I am a huge fan of their food. It is almost exactly what you think of when you think of Ireland. Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. and some meat on the side. Haha but for real. The first night I arrived, my friend Erin and I went to a pub to experience some traditional Irish food. We had Irish stew which was basically a stew with lamb, potatoes, carrots and celery and it was a nice hearty meal and of course we had to order our pints of Guinness on the side!

Overall I would say all the Irish food is fairly similar. The basis of their dishes mostly come down to potatoes. Oh and of course. The fish and chips. I had my first steaming fresh basket of fish and chips in Dublin, Ireland. It was quite delicious. But it was definitely a lot of fried food. It was so heavy I could not finish it all! But definitely something to try when you're in Ireland!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Lemon Bar Love

 It's finals week and I thought I would make something for my room mates to help relieve the stress. Lemon bars ares are so cheerful and easy to bake. I love the little heart stencil, it makes makes these bars even cuter.

This recipe's from smitten kitchen, enjoy!