Inspiration

So I haven’t posted on here for awhile… fail I know. Sometimes though you need to take a step back and reevaluate.

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that I haven’t completely dropped off the face of the earth.

There have been some changes in my life that caused me to rethink some things and get a new perspective, a part of this is what I want this blog to be.

So I…

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Took some bubble baths..

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Read some books…

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Got silly with some friends…

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Drank lots of coffee!

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Traveled around…

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And basically looked for inspiration.

I’ll be making some changes which I hope you’re really excited about –  I’ll be posting more consistently about food but also about my travel adventures! I am also happy to announce the business side of things with my recipe consulting & development.

I also have a new project that has been in the works for awhile now that is coming together called Follow Your Taste Buds which is a culinary tour company that does walking tours of West Los Angeles for now but will soon do abroad tours and be in other cities. (Gotta start small 😛 )

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The Hunt: Finding Food Abroad

As I’ve gotten older, and my palate has become more developed, vacations to see beautiful things must be accompanied with tasty food. Having just got back from a brief trip to Spain, I was reminded that I don’t really want to eat bad food on vacation.

Not a bad statement, but really who does?

The trick is being able to find good food on vacation.  In Spain they don’t really start eating until late evening about 10pm so it gives you plenty of time between sight-seeing and dinner to look up some good suspects. Not being particularly sure were me and my partner-in-crime were going to end up we resorted to our favorite Internet café, Burger King.

When you’re on holiday, Burger King and McDonalds can be a great resource to your Internet woes. They 90% of the time offer free Wi-Fi. Usually you can just stand outside by the door or if you want to rest your feet, drop in, buy water or a pop and settle into to do your searching.

In the day and age of smart phones there is a plethora of apps that you can download. In the US Yelp is pretty spot on, as well as Trip advisor. Trip advisor is also good for international spots, in the app you can also download a map of the city which can be quite helpful.

If you have an IPhone, Yelp is great because the map goes straight to your map application, which has a GPS function that doesn’t require Wi-Fi to work. Simply load the route and follow along. Nifty, huh? Ideally if you were super concerned about this you would probably do your research before hand and have a lot more tools at your disposal.

If you find yourself somewhere more remote or are a more off the grid traveler (kudos to you), talk to the locals! Before you leave look up a few phrases in the native language; most helpful “Do you speak (insert your language)”,  “Where is good for (insert meal)” or at the very least “food” and “good”.  Failing that I would wander around and look for where a) the most native people are b) the biggest group is.  That should get you the most authentic and or safest bet for a good meal.

I’m starting a international food guide for this blog (similar to LA Eats); click here for more info on that

Enjoy and happy travels!

Baklava and beyond!

Hello again,

It’s funny how sometimes on certain holidays, you need a holiday from your holiday. You know the ones, where you’re excited to be there so you feel like you need to do and see so much that when you get back you’re exhausted, but in a good way. I always aim to be like a sponge on trips, just soaking up all my new adventure has to offer.

This trip was a mixture of beautiful and extremely hot. Having grown up in Chicago I feel that I’m always ill-equipped for warm holidays. I just simply can’t get a handle on heat, with you cold you add layers. When it’s hot, there’s only so much clothing you can remove before you’re dancing along the fine line of publicly nudity. Embraced the heat has its perks such as being able to see ruins up close and personal. I highly encourage it if you get the opportunity, especially in countries like Turkey because they tend not to regulate as we do in the united states so you can interact with history much more by going and touching, sitting, exploring.

One thing I wasn’t really expecting was the cuisine, at points it felt like I was on a kebab tour. Lunch, kebab. Dinner, kebab. I mean while I know a bit of that is my own fault but when ordering in a different language but seeing pictures of brains on the menu I found myself slightly weary of being too “adventurous”. That said they do make a mean cup of coffee. Turkish coffee is similar to espresso but it’s thicker and more meaty. It’s often served with sugar and garnished with a tasty piece of turkish delight.

My favorite bit of Turkish cuisine though is going to have to be the baklava. (Although I swear they put crack in the rice, it was SO addicting.) The perfect harmony of rich nutty flavors that in a creamy consistency like pecan pie filling, sandwiched by phyllo dough, served up with vanilla ice cream with a ground pistachio garnish makes my heart go pitter patter.

Baklava with Cinnamon Syrup
Adapted from: Beantown Baker & Honey and Butter

For the Syrup:
1 3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cinnamon stick

For the Filling:
10oz Pistachios (shelled & toasted)
16oz Walnut (toasted)

phyllo dough
2 sticks of butter (melted)

I used store bought phyllo dough from the Fillo Factory.

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and make the syrup. Add the sugars, lemon juice, water and cinnamon sticks to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then let cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Until it’s about 2 cups. Set aside and let cool completely.

2. Grind the toasted nuts in a food processor. A few light pulses should do the job. You don’t want to overgrind and release the oils. Set them aside for now.

3. Start assembling. Lay a sheet of dough that covers the bottom of a 9x13in pan. Brush the sheet with the melted butter; repeat for 8 layers. Then add a thin covering of the ground walnuts and sprinkle the walnut layer with the ground pistachios. Add 8 more layers, brushing each with the butter in between. Add another nut layer. Finish with 8 more layers of dough. Sprinkle the top with some pistachios

4. Cut the uncooked baklava into 4-6 rows and then turn and cut again on the diagonal.

5. Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Re-run a knife through the cuts. Pour the cooled syrup over it slowly, making sure to get a good coverage. Let it cool completely.

Enjoy!