Thursday, August 17, 2006

Samantha Brown - Bourdain Wannabe

Samantha,

I watch your show (Passport to Europe) only because I have an addiction to anything European. If only you could be more like Tony Bourdain. We don't care if you stay in hotels that are about 400 Euro a night, because we average Joes cannot afford such frills. Give me real, raw, and useful travel information. Don't tell me about the traffic in Naples, show me the seedy side of Naples. Come on, live a little. I want to see you eat pig nuts or something disgusting like that.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Barcelona

Well, it has been quite some time since I have posted. Do not think that I have been totally idle. In June, I had the fortune of visiting Barcelona for a week. Spain was never high on my priority list of places to visit. Slap my face for ever thinking that way. Spain is beautiful. Barcelona has surpassed all other countries with the exception of Italy of course as my favorite destination.

What can I tell you about Spain? Hmmm...tapas, sangria, sun, and beaches. Can you ask for anything more? The food was incredible. The wine was awesome. Since there are so many wonderful foods in Spain, let me just fill you in on my favs.

The best tapa was a garlic shrimp. The paella should be tried at least once, but be brave and go for the unusual. I had a rabbit and snail casserole. The casseroles are more like stews than anything else. The rabbit was perfectly cooked and the snails were an added taste treat. The sauce was somewhat of a tomato base and potatoes were included as well. Everyone knows that Spain is famous for flan. Don't miss out on the Tarta de Santiago. It is a cake made with ground almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. Maybe not fantastic by itself, but pour a little sweet muscatel wine on top and wow!

As far as wine goes, you must try the cava sangria. Cava is a white sparkling wine. The sangria is made with cava, lemon, orange, liquor, and sometimes sugar. I am kind of on a cava sangria kick right now. I guess the novelty has not worn off yet. Look for my upcoming post about where to stay in Barcelona.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

il Mulino - Chicago

I know, it has been a long time since my last post, but let me fill you in on my trip to Chicago. I had the pleasure of dining at il Mulino-Chicago. It is by far, the best Italian Restaurant I have experienced outside of Italy. The owner, from what I understand, is from the Abruzzi region of Italy (same as my Grandmother). Their dishes brought back old memories...

They serve several small antipasto dishes while you are waiting for your entree. Each of which were incredible. They also have a nice menu selection and a huge list of specials. The service was fantastic. I had Veal Capriccio. Nice tender veal with proscutto, portabellas, and fontina. It was delicious.

I told my family about the entire experience. After my full review, they decided we should take a family trip to Chicago, just for the dinner alone!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chicago

Well, it seems I'll be off to Chicago in a couple of weeks. I'll be there for 3 days learning MDX (multi-dimensional-expressions). Sounds like fun, huh?

Rest assured, I will be dining at La Scarola Italian Restaurant. Growing up Italian, it was not unusual to eat stuff like octopus. I have always eaten it in a salad (Insalata di Polipi). La Scarola serves a grilled octopus which is incredible. It's the best octopus I've ever had.

I'll also be on the lookout for a good place to get cocktails. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Countdown to Derby Day

Ahhhh...59 days until the Kentucky Derby. I can almost hear the hooves racing down the stretch now. I always tailgate at Riverdowns for the Derby. One thing you can count on is the mint juleps will be flowing. I've got a great sugar free simple syrup recipe to mix with your bourbon.

2 cups Splenda
2 cups Water

Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add 4-5 sprigs of mint. Allow mint to steep to taste.

How easy is that?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why Can't I Hit the Lottery?

I'm stalling and don't want to finish getting ready for work. It is Friday though. Best of all, I have a facial booked at Sia spa tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes. I tried to get scheduled for reflexology at the same time, but there were no available appointments. If I won the lottery, I'd be at the spa at least 5 times a week. Everyone should allow themselves to be pampered.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

European Christmas Markets

Europe is a wonderful place to visit during the Christmas season. There are Christmas markets in just about every city and town. There is nothing like sipping hot mulled wine on a cold winter day while strolling through a market full of Christmas trinkets. Talk about heaving you head first into the Christmas spirit. I have had the pleasure of visiting markets in four cities. So let me give you my perspective on the four I have visited.
4. Amsterdam - If you blinked, you may just miss it entirely. Not worth the trip.
3. Brugge – small market with ice-skating, but many surrounding shops. Who can resist Belgian
beer and chocolate
2. Lille, France - bigger and nicer market than Brugge. Not to mention a ferris wheel that offers
excellent aerial views of the city.
1. Cologne or Köln (German version) is the ultimate market experience. I counted four different
markets, but pretty sure there was even more. Each was extraordinary.

I have another trip planned in December 2006. This market exploration will take me into Switzerland and Austria.