Travel Eats

I will admit that I am a little behind on my reading these days, and in this crazy world, I’m sure I’m not alone. I recently caught up on Travel & Leisure’s April edition, appropriately named “The Food Issue.” Food plus travel equals my downfall. Of course, food is a vital part of any travel excursion. Not only does is provide a look into the culture of the place, but it tells a story of the people who live there and how their daily routines are structured. The French, for example, traditionally observe a two-hour lunch break. In Greece, dinner time is customarily late, around 9pm or later.

Food can also define a place. For instance, what would Istanbul be without spice markets and baklava? What about France without crepes and croissants? And Greece without sardines and fish markets? For many Americans, learning about culture is limited to the Western world, so cuisine acts as another outlets into these other worlds. What would we associate with India without the presence of Indian food in the United States? Or Japan without sushi?

The outdoor menu of an Indian restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.

The outdoor menu of an Indian restaurant in Budapest, Hungary.

Anywhere we go, from Chicago to Texas, Spain to Thailand and everywhere in between, experiencing the cuisine of a place is always exhilarating.

Indian food. Yum.

Reading Travel & Leisure’s Food Issue got me thinking about some of the best experiences with cuisine I’ve ever had while traveling. There are SO many. Spending four months in Bulgaria, I adapted and eventually fell in love with their food, from the awesome sirene cheese to the traditional shopska salad. There’s nothing like sangria and tapas at a seaside restaurant in Barcelona. Italy’s pasta shops are a wonder. But one of my most memorable experiences took place in Budapest, Hungary on Easter weekend two years ago.

Awesome hummus bar.

Awesome hummus bar.

Adorable confectionary in Budapest.

Adorable confectionary in Budapest.

While only there for three nights, Budapest was quick to make an impression. Everything about the city was welcoming, but the food discoveries my friends and I made were not at all expected but oh so welcomed. Let me entertain your mind for one second. Hungarian spaetzle, Mexican enchiladas, Indian curry bowls, Greek hummus and falafel, French pastries. All in one weekend. Around every corner. Living in Bulgaria, these foods are nowhere to be found. Particularly the Mexican meals. Let’s just say, cravings were satisfied.

Where have you had some of your best food experiences?

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Chalkboard Paint

I’d say I’m a pretty lucky girl. There’s a whole handful of reasons to back this statement up, but one in particular that I’ll emphasize right now.

My boyfriend is that guy who loves to be with me, no matter what I’m doing. With our recent move into our new apartment, I’m going decorating crazy, so much of my free time is spent sifting through boxes and rotating photographs, vases and mirrors in and out of rooms. The one necessity I’ve [actually we’ve] discovered for an easy and quick project that adds functionality to a space is chalkboard paint.

Now I’m jar obsessed… [I’ll elaborate on that in a later post]. We store many of our food items in various size mason jars: spices, ice cream toppings, and different grains from quinoa to farro to oats. Even though the jars are transparent, when looking at them from above, it can be difficult and time-consuming to figure out what is in each. So together, we painted the lids of the jars with chalkboard paint [which can be found at your local art supplies store for less than $10]. A few coats were needed before the paint was completely opaque. Another trick we discovered was covering the lid with masking tape prior to painting, just to have a more absorbant surface for the paint.

Chalkboard paint is awesome. I had two wood plaques adorned with a 70’s style flower painting that I wanted nothing to do with. They were leftover from a cheap apartment decorating Walmart shopping spree back when I was in college. Instead of throwing them out, I decided to “upcycle” them into chalkboards. They function awesome in our kitchen for notes and lists and double as aesthetically pleasing wall decor.

I challenge you to get creative and discover new ways to use chalkboard paint and let me know what you come up with!

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Post-Memorial Day

As the tweets and facebook status updates rolled in this morning about how awesome everyone’s long Memorial Day weekend was, I decided to look forward to this beautiful Tuesday rather than dread another week. After all, it is already Tuesday, and we all have an amazing weekend to be thankful for.

Like my friends in the social media world, my weekend was full of fun, too. The weather here in Connecticut was questionable on Saturday, but apparently many people had the same idea with the rain pouring down outside and January temperatures causing thermostats to be cranked up. I heard on the radio on my drive to work this morning that us Americans broke the record for movie ticket sales this weekend! Well, I was right alongside my fellow Americans at my local movie theater seeing The Hangover 3. What did you all think of it? I’ve heard mixed reviews, but my opinion stands that the first movie in a series is always the best. Don’t you agree?

 

Sunday and Monday consisted of significantly sunnier weather and party hopping. My highlight was seeing my favorite little toddler turn two! He loves all things Elmo and all things fruit, so I made an Elmo fruit platter. Needless to say, there was a strawberry in his mouth within seconds of me setting foot into his adorable Elmo party. Today was his real birthday, and so we spent the morning at the playground and got lunch, complete with milkshakes, at Bilda Burger in Woodbury, CT. Such a neat place. Hope you enjoyed your birthday, little man. Thanks for brightening my day, everyday.

One last thing. Hope you all smiled today at how lucky we are. Nothing like Memorial Day to put our lives back into perspective. We have many courageous men and women to thank for that. happy memorial day america

Elmo platter fruit dip recipe: mix 1 package of cream cheese (softened), 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla

[discovered this great recipe from a fellow blogger! check out her blog here: http://lifeaslyndsey.blogspot.com]

Little Explorations

Hello readers! So… after a long break from blogging, I have made the decision to come back to this exciting world of sharing ideas with people from the North Pole to the South and back again. That, I think, is what I find so invigorating about this whole idea of blogging. The connections that have the potential to be made. I saw this quote the other day about human beings craving connections, and after some thought, I realized just how true it was.

After a long and warm food-filled day of cookouts, my boyfriend and I ventured out on a bike ride through our neighborhood. At about 6pm on a late May evening, the weather was beautiful – sun still shining and a light breeze keeping temperatures just right. As we rode, the smell of grills and the sound of laughter were clearly evident. Cars were piled in driveway after driveway. It is hard to imagine what the day would have been like if human connections weren’t as much a part of life as they are. There would not have been Memorial Day parties yard after yard on my bike ride tonight without these connections because the vital factor to this annual tradition for many people is family and friends to enjoy the day with.

So that is one reason why I am looking forward to re-entering the blogging world. The title of this post may seem broad, but no other words could better describe my writing. The two words are almost contradictory when thought about. “Little” of course means small, minute, etc. “Exploration” is sometimes a large, daunting adventure. Life is full of these little explorations and that is what this blog will be about. The globetrotter in me will most definitely lead to the creation of many travel posts, whether it be my own travels, places I dream to go or hidden destinations. But the smaller adventures and creations in everyday life are just as important as a dream expedition to the Galapagos Islands. If you read my short bio, I am a lover of writing, travel, reading, culture, nature, but I have a newfound passion for little explorations of everyday life, too. Safaris and sunsets. The big adventures are the safaris and the everyday occurrances are the sunsets. The sun has to set everyday, yet every one is unique.

Whether I’m the sole reader of this or one day have hundreds, I thank you and hope you are as excited as I am about this new adventure. (I greatly hope it’s the latter… human connections…)