Friday, January 23, 2015

5 Things I Learned From Living In Milan

1. Milan never runs short on street marketsEvery day of the week you can find a different market tucked away along the cobble stoned streets of the city. The weekday markets sell a variety of fresh produce, flowers and designer goods. You can go there looking for eggs and vegetables for dinner and leave with a live chicken. The flowers are always fresh and vibrant while the vendors that line the streets are friendly and always offering a smile.

The BEST market is held at the end of every month on Saturday and Sunday when vendors and locals flood the streets of Navigli with the most beautiful antiques, art and vintage clothes that will have you wandering up and down the canal all day. Luckily the streets are also equally as vibrant with their cuisine where you can find the best pizza and aperitivo for when your vintage hunting makes you hungry!

Mama Farina Via dei Valtorta 44 Milano

2. Carbs are your best friend. I actually already knew that before I lived there, but I definitely took advantage of it every single day in Milan. In Italy you just need to embrace carbs and appreciate every delicious bite of that brick oven pizza or penne arrabiata. In Italy you are expected to finish a whole pizza by yourself so when you sit down you better be up for the challenge! Mama Farina was one of my favorite local places to eat dinner near my apartment. I would have gone there every night but I wanted to make it seem like I had somewhat of a life so I would stagger my meals there to 1-2 times per week. The streets of Milan offer plenty of delicious options and sometimes in the most unassuming places, so don’t be afraid to wander and you might stumble upon the best pizzaiolo!

Milano Centrale 


3. Milan is great hub to travel through Northern Italy.  Milan is a great city to use as your base for traveling around northern Italy. Every city from Cinque Terre to Venice is within a few hours reach. Even a bullet train to Florence will get you there in an hour! A beautiful train ride through the Swiss Alps isn't even out of the question for a weekend adventure. The main train station in Milan, Centrale, You could start your morning in Milan eating sfogliatella on your way to the train station and by the afternoon you could be walking down the streets of Verona eating 10 scoops of crema gelato. Who wouldn't want to spend their weekend exploring historic cities and devouring pastries and culture?

Luini : Via Santa Radegonda 16 
4. Luini Panzerotti will change your life. Every day people crowd the small street near the Galleria anxiously shuffling through the line to get his or her hands on these famous panzerotti. They take it so seriously that there's even a bouncer in full suit and tie ushering people through the lines as if they're escorting the president through the airport. Luini’s runs like a well-oiled machine. Once you get to the front of the line you have 10 seconds to order, pay and move along. If you have never indulged in panzerotti before I compare it to an empanada but about 10 times better. The dough is crispy and fluffy, while the inside is filled with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. It’s exciting and always a fun mid day adventure.

That's right, I MADE this!

The Mag Cafe in Navigli

5. Cappuccinos run through your veins in Milan. Espresso, real coffee is a lifestyle in Italy. My first day at the showroom I said, "of course I know how to make cappuccinos, yeah I'll make them for our high profile clients!" I had no clue what I was doing but by the end of my internship I had become a full-fledged barista. Starbucks would have been honored to hire me. The cappuccino culture there is borderline religious. The espresso is rich and the foam is always perfect. I could easily sit along the canals of Navigli at The Mag Cafe enjoying coffee, free wifi and reading material. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Barcelona + The First City I Fell in Love With

Almost 14 years ago I first discovered Barcelona and I've been back twice to experience and explore the unique culture and architecture. 

My first time in Barcelona I remember I was 11 years old and crabby from just having experienced my first bout of jet lag and then we came up from the metro and I saw Sagrada Familia and my eyes bugged out with excitement. All of a sudden I no longer felt tired and irritated, I felt like an explorer who had just discovered an entirely new world and I couldn't get enough of it. 

At the top of Parc Güel you can take a survey of Barcelona's short skyline but what pops out is Sagrada Familia, whose construction began in 1882 (13 years after my house was built!)and it is STILL under construction. It has taken so long because the funding for it comes strictly from donations. 

Casa Batlló
Throughout the city you will find BEAUTIFUL, unique and kind of crazy architecture and its all most likely done by Antonio Gaudí. Probably my favorite building he designed was Casa Batlló. It is colorful and weird and looks like an exotic lizard. 

Colors are constantly exploding across the city whether it is in the architecture or on the street performers along Las Ramblas.

The Mercado de la Boqueria is tucked away along Las Ramblas and if you don't look hard enough you might pass up one of the most vibrant and lively staples Barcelona offers. When I studied abroad in Barcelona for 5 weeks I would visit the market once or twice a week just snapping pictures of the changing environment and of all the colorful fruits and candies most of the stalls sold. 

Had I not lived with a host family, I would like to imagine that this market would have become a part of my daily routine, shopping for that nights dinner or grabbing a snack before class because who can pass up Haribo candy?! 

Please excuse the tourist that got in my way!
If you didn't already figure it out, this market is one of my favorite places to visit when I'm in Barcelona because its not too touristy and you get the feeling like your a local doing your daily errands in this beautiful and colorful market. 

Barcelona will always spark a light in me and it seems that when ever I do talk to people about this city I get excited and passionate about describing the streets and culture and architecture. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Capetown + Kalk Bay

My exploration through Capetown led me to find some unique and interesting pieces. I discovered a lot of markets and small co-ops that exceeded my expectations and made me feel like a kid in a candy store. While I still visit candy stores at the age of 24 and get more excited than I should, navigating through these markets and boutiques was always a fun and wonderful adventure!

At Mungo & Jemima on Long St. in downtown Capetown I found this beautifully hand made necklace with a little fringe on the end of it and I'm a complete sucker for anything with fringe or a tassel on it. The nicest women worked there and even recommended a great Ethiopian restaurant for us to try that night. 

I can not say enough of about how much I love the Kalk Bay Co-Op. I stepped into this store and felt like I had entered an entirely different world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Baked Garlic Nuts + Living on the Edge with My Nut Allergy

I would never say I'm naturally gifted at cooking but I like to try and I don't even mind when I make mistakes. I was gifted this book The Forest Feast for christmas and I absolutely love it. It's a vegetarian book and while I do now eat poultry and fish, I haven't eaten red meat since 2005, except for a small slip up of a cube of bbq pork in Hong Kong and that was so that I wouldn't appear rude! The author created these incredible recipes and even more beautiful photos that fill every page with color and amazing composition.

My first attempt from The Forest Feast is the Baked Garlic Nuts. I should also point out that I am deathly allergic to nuts but I wanted to try the recipe out for my boyfriend who loves them so I kept my epi pen nearby just incase a freak accident occurred, which would happen to me seeing as I took a nasty fall two days ago and sent my phone slow motion flying through the air. I saw hit the ground hard and I still had time to look up and watch my phone doing summersaults and finally bounce a few times before landing under a car. We both survived though. 

I've NEVER seen or peeled this much garlic in my entire life, I thought the 20 garlic cloves might have been a misprint but that's what the recipe called for. However I will say you could easily get away with half and it would still taste just as delicious and leave you with half the potent breath!


20 peeled cloves of garlic *
1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary
2 t olive oil
1/4 t truffle salt**

1 cup unsalted raw mixed nuts 

First: Mix and roast the everything BUT the nuts on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until garlic is soft and golden.

Second: Mix the nuts into the garlic mixture on the baking sheet and roast another 5-7 minutes. Then transfer to a bowl and add kosher salt to taste!

* Like I said before 20 cloves is a little intense so I would do maybe 10, but hey if you love garlic then go crazy!

** I didn't have truffle salt nor did I find it at the supermarket so I used regular kosher salt.

Then thats it and your kitchen smells super delicious afterwards! This is a super easy snack to make for everyday life or dinner parties, or if your like me a "lethal" snack to make and handle for your boyfriend. So if your allergic like me and like to live on the edge try making this great snack. Thank you Erin Gleason for this BEAUTIFUL book!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Getting Lost in Travel Magazines

Afar, Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler have evolved to be staples in my reading list. They all help inspire me to travel to the furthest reaches of the globe, let my Carmen San Diego-ness flourish and capture beautiful memories with my camera. 

Afar Magazine fell into my lap about 2 years ago and I could not be more grateful. Everything about Afar is so unique and different from other travel magazines that I read, even just the texture of the cover is kind of exciting! 

Being buried in these magazines every month keep my curiosity of the world growing and evolving and I would recommend to everyone I know to read them and explore the world and learn about different cultures. Even if you don't like reading much, the photography alone could catch the attention of a goldfish! I'll admit I have fantasized about some of my photography featured in these magazines.

Afar Magazine fell into my lap about 2 years ago and I could not be more grateful. Everything about Afar is so unique and different from other travel magazines that I read, even just the texture of the cover is kind of exciting! My favorite articles to read every month is following one of their writers as they're thrown into an adventure with 24 hours notice. They send them to sometimes obscure rural areas and then other times they get off the plane and are surrounded by the lights of Macau. It's always fun and has me on the edge of my seat to hear how they deal with new environments and language barriers and new experiences!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Lemon Berry Cake… or something like that

I'll be straightforward and tell you right now that shortly after I assembled this masterpiece of yummy fruit and buttercream for days… it started to unravel and we quickly had to sing happy birthday to my sister and serve the cake!

While we sang happy birthday to my now 21 year old little sister I could see the cake buckling from the weight of the fruit I suppose so I tried singing faster in hopes the crowd would catch on but instead it felt like they slowed down.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the cake was DELICIOUS!!! How could it not be though with that much butter, cream cheese and fruit? I think I discovered my mistakes and I'll let you know to to not meet the same fate if you try and bake it! I definitely encourage you to make it because it was ridiculously easy and tastes so fresh and sweet!

Lemon Cake:
1 box white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
Zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream (or plain yogurt)
2 cups blueberries

Raspberry Buttercream*:
1/2 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
2 T. raspberry puree(pureed in a blender) 
strained to remove seeds
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Lemon Buttercream*: 
1 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese
Zest of 2 lemons
1 T. lemon juice
3 1/2 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

* Let both butter creams cool in the fridge before assembling cake so that the cake doesn't fall apart mid Happy Birthday song.

How to make it…

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease three 8-inch pans.

2. Sift cake mix into a small bowl and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine eggs, butter, lemon zest, lemon juice, buttermilk and sour cream until smooth. No electric mixer necessary, just a good old fashion hand stir!

4. Stir in cake mix and blueberries.

5. Divide batter between the three pans.

6. Bake for 17-22 minutes or until a toothpick come out clean.

7. Let the cakes cool completely.

8. Raspberry buttercream: In an electric mixer beat butter and cream cheese until smooth. Stir in pureed raspberries; gradually add powdered sugar until it reaches a desired consistency.

9. Lemon buttercream: In an electric mixer again beat the butter cream cheese and lemon zest. Stir in lemon juice and gradually add powdered sugar. 

10. To assemble the cake, stack the layers spreading the raspberry buttercream between each layer. Cover the entire cake with the lemon buttercream then top with fresh berries!


Recipe credit to Make it with a CAKE MIX by Lizzy Early