Holiday Wishes

I hope that everyone is having a safe and wonderful holiday season.

I’m visiting with family back in Chicago but I promise lots of fun & tasty treats soon!

(Follow me on Instagram to watch my adventures!)

See you next year!!

Sofia

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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!

Vacation Break

Hey all,

Just wanted to let you know that I probably won’t be updating much over the next couple weeks as I’ll be on vacation in Istanbul. I’ll try to share as much as I can, but no guarantee. However be prepped for when I get back to blow your minds!

Enjoy yourselves!

Homage to Britain: Bubble and Squeak

So awhile ago I was introduced to a fun new leftovers dish. My boyfriend, who’s Australian, had whipped up this dish called “Bubble and Squeak”. I, peering into the bowl, was slightly skeptical but seeing that it was comprised of potatoes, veggies, and bacon was more than willing to give it a go. Boy, I’m glad I did!

This dish traditionally is made from leftovers from a big Sunday lunch. I don’t usually have big Sunday lunches, so both times I’ve had it, it’s been made it from scratch. It’s more of a “what’s in the fridge?” kinda moment. Still leftovers inspired though I’d say.

I’m sure if you’re like me when you read the name you wonder where it comes from. Maybe you’re super smart, or from a country that serves this and know already.  The name is referring to the noise it makes when you’re cooking it. Kinda cool right?

Bubble and Squeak

2 russet potatoes
1-2 cups of veggies (Whatever you have on hand, I used a mixed veggie mix I had in the freezer)
3 tbsp of butter
3 strips of bacon
2 tbsp of heavy cream

1. Boil the potatoes until you can stick them with a fork easily. Remove them and mash them with either a fork, masher, etc. Add in the butter and heavy cream.

2. While you’re boiling the potatoes you can also cook up the veggies and bacon that you have, so that you can just mix them in once you’ve made your mash.

3. Garnish with some shredded cheddar. I used white cheddar.

Enjoy!

San Fran Adventure

This weekend I traveled up to San Francisco with my fellow to check out the sights. I feel like there always has to be something when traveling that becomes noteworthy enough to share with everyone. For me this was the fact that our initial departure time from LAX of 6:40pm was actually ended up being about 11pm. I guess there was a storm, then some sort of fly block, and finally we took off.

Upon arriving the original prospects of dinner had diminished. Especially given it was about 1am when we checked into the hotel We stayed at the Omni, it’s a great hotel and walking distance to lots of the sites. The next morning proved hopeful however. A friend had recommended that we mosey over to Dotties True Blue Cafe for breakfast. This place was super charming.

The wait was probably about 20-30 minutes and was complete with some interesting characters that were shouting about some randomness. I found this to be quite humorous, not sure I was in good company though. Upon entering I started coveting their beautiful marble/dark wood counter-top. I’ve always loved that style. Additionally it featured exposed brick walls that were adorned with glamour portraits of celebs that began as strippers. Gotta love it.

Following an over indulging breakfast with some really tasty pancakes (Dottie’s Famous Pancakes, she adds ginger, it’s amazing.) We decided to walk it off across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’d been to San Fran several times over the last couple of years but I had yet to make it over to the bridge which was quite exciting.

Later that eve we decided Chinese was on the menu for dinner. I’d been looking forward to this since we booked the tickets for the trip. I love Chinese, preferably as left-overs out of those lovely paper boxes. Somehow it’s just tastes better that way. I have yet to find a place in LA that still gives these endangered boxes it would seem. We went to a place in Chinatown called Z & Y.

After dinner I’d did a bit of research before we left and found this dessert bar called Candybar that I wanted to try. When we got there, there was a bit of a line (lines in SF = LA traffic) and it looked like we weren’t going to get in. Fortunately our determination and the announcement from the host saying that he didn’t think anyone was going to get in meant that we outlasted most of the people waiting, and when two seats opened up we were on it. Note to self: get to places earlier.

It was a bit too dark for photos, and I was too excited for my dessert to wait anyway. I got their Apple Pie which was an amazing almond crust with a cream cheese filling, topped with some gingerbread ice cream. It was a party for my taste buds. I’d gladly come back here any/every day of the week! They also serve fun cocktails and other non-alcoholic beverages.

The next morning we were all excited to go to another place that my friend suggested we try, called Mamas, but that was quickly ruled out when we saw a line that would’ve easily taken an hour to get through, and at the point they would’ve been closed. Next trip! We ended up wandering back of the street to a cute pastry shop called Stella’s.

I had a yummy eclair for breakfast. Although it was a bit of a hard choice due to the nice selection of treats. I was craving the eclair otherwise I think I would’ve gone the Cannoli route due to it being located in Little Italy.

For our last day we grabbed some breakfast at a placed called Honey Honey Crepes. I had my standard Banana Nutella, served with a scoop of ice cream. While the ice cream didn’t really leave me wanting more, you can’t go wrong with nutella!

We closed out our trip at San Fran Botanical Gardens. I always take some warming up time when I visit gardens, but they always surprise me.

It did start me thinking about which flowers that you can cook with besides roses. I found this list of ones that you can. Although I didn’t get to the kitchen this weekend I think I might try and get some floral inspiration for my next recipe. Maybe Marigolds?

[ I apologize for the quality of the photos, camera phones aren’t always known for their stellar quality. ]

Enjoy!