Food Travel Postcard: North Island, New Zealand

Wrapping up our trip with a few days in the Rotorua area of the North Island!

tui glen jetty

We’d planned to head down to Hamilton for one night so we could do a dawn hot air balloon ride, but the weather didn’t cooperate so we headed straight to our rental house on Lake Tarawera, about 20 minutes from Rotorua. It was dark when we arrived, but early the next morning Sarai and I took our coffee down the hill to our little jetty and watched the sunrise.

tui glen deck

Our deck had a great view! We were totally off the grid out there—no cell service or wifi—so we lit the fireplace, sat on the deck, drank wine and talked. It was so relaxing!

rotorua champagne pool

rotorua highlighter pool

The Rotorua area is famous for being a “thermal wonderland”. One day we visited Wai-o-Tapu, probably the most well-known of the thermal areas. The gorgeous Champagne Pool, with its “artist’s palette” came to life for us, and this highlighter-yellow lake was unbelievable! But everything smelled like rotten egg, which was really gross—I haven’t been up for eating eggs since then…

brioche ricotta

We found this awesome cafe called Capers in Rotorua. They had all sorts of great stuff, so we stopped there twice for brunch. The second time I had this amazing toasted brioche with ricotta and local honey. [Read more…]

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Food Travel Postcard: Nelson/Tasman Region, New Zealand

We spent the last eight days in the Nelson/Tasman region of the South Island. We’d rented a lovely little house in Richmond and based ourselves there for various food and beverage explorations, as well as attending the Feast of Tabernacles. Nelson is one of the bigger cities in the area, about 46,000 people. It’s about an area from the Abel Tasman National Park, which has gorgeous coastal tracks and kayaking and seals and beaches. It and the Marlborough region are also acclaimed for their local wines and beers, so it was the perfect place for our foursome to stay!

jess beach reflection

The scenery in this part of the South Island was so different from where we were previously. Golden beaches, turquoise waters, green hills—it was like Hawaii up in here.

split apple rock

Split Apple Rock in Abel Tasman. Not an actual apple.

pinchgut trail

We hiked Pinchgut Trail in Nelson Lakes National Park, up Mt. Robert…it was crazy steep and we just about died. We rewarded our delirious, exhausted selves with a giant dinner and beer at The Vic.

abel tasman boat ride

We took a boat ride along the Abel Tasman coast and then had an awesome dinner of lamb and good wine at Ford’s in Nelson.

jess wine tasting

This area is particularly known for its wines, so I put on my comfy wine tasting skirt and got down to business… [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Lake Tekapo/Mt. Cook/Aoraki, New Zealand

Greetings from the future!!!

No, really, it’s tomorrow here. I’m in gorgeous, sunny New Zealand, soaking up the unbelievable scenery, talking to awesome Kiwis (the people, not the bird), and hanging out with three cool friends. We’re here for the Feast of Tabernacles, but since we were coming so far (and spending so much money!) we wanted to cram as much awesome into our trip as possible. As always when I travel, I am also super excited about trying all kinds of local food and drink!

sawdon station house

We spent our first few days in the Mackenzie region, after flying into Christchurch and then driving a few hours down to Lake Tekapo. When we arrived at our first rental house, we were utterly charmed, and visions of coffee and wine in front of the fire danced in our heads.

lake tekapo

We immediately set out to explore, taking in the gorgeous turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo before heading into the village in search of sustenance.

oyster stout

We had decent pizzas and good local beer. Great, interesting beer is one of the things New Zealand seems to offer in abundance. This is a local oyster stout, and when I asked the waiter if it had oysters in it he said no, but then the internet told me otherwise. Oops… :S [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Croatia & Slovenia

It’s been a whirlwind two weeks! My parents and I spent a week and a half exploring the nooks and crannies of Croatia, Slovenia, and northern Italy.

plitvice

We started our trip in the unreal beauty of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. We walked through the rushing waterfalls and gorgeous teal and green waters. [Read more…]

Time for a change of scenery…

Well. This has been a long time coming. Somehow it’s now August, when I should have posted it back in April, but better late than never. Right??

Some of you may have noticed that I changed my blog’s subtitle—though most of you probably didn’t, because who reads blog subtitles anyway? It used to be “adventures in a tiny kitchen”, but that’s not really true any more. Because I bought a condo (that’s right, I’m a grown-up) and now have an awesome kitchen!

new kitchen

The kitchen is really what sold me on this place. New, stainless steel appliances, gas stove and oven, nicer cabinets (and lots of them). And most importantly, lots of counter space. I’d lamented my one square foot of counter space in my old apartment enough times that you know how much that means! [Read more…]

Travel Postcard: Las Vegas!

So, in general, Vegas isn’t really my thing. I’m not a gambler, I’m too cheap to drop a couple hundred bucks on a show, I’m not a raging partier, and I’m not big on crowds.

I do, however, LOVE sun and food…and Vegas has both in spades.

IMG_1287

Getting ready for a nice dinner!

Bree and I made sure to have a couple great meals while we were in town, so I’ve included below in case you have a trip coming up and would like recommendations. The first was at Terra Verde, an Italian place in our resort (Green Valley Ranch).

terra verde caprese

We started with this delicious caprese salad. The burrata, in particular, was awesome! [Read more…]

Random Musings: “If I were stranded at home during a natural disaster” food must-haves…

A week ago today, I was seeing people mention on Twitter that the Northeast was preparing for a hurricane. Having not paid much attention to the news recently, I assumed it was typical overreaction.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. It’s the first time I remember watching a natural disaster through the Twitter lens, seeing everyone’s reactions in real time. Most fascinating/horrifying for me is this one of the waters breaking into a New Jersey transit station—like the waters flooding through the rooms of the Titanic.

But I digress. It got me to thinking about the more fortunate of the hurricane victims, all the people who rode out the storms safely in their homes without any major damage, but now are kind of stranded until all the stores open up (and get more supplies in). If the Yankees were anything like Atlanta preparing for a storm, all the stores have been out of alcohol, milk, bread, water, and toilet paper for quite some time. A few years ago, the South was hit by a “Snowpocalypse”. Atlanta has like eight snow plows for the entire city, four of which are generally out of repair at any point in time. It also has insanely curvy and hilly roads. So any time there’s even the slightest hint of winter precipitation, the city just pre-emptively shuts down. Schools close before there’s even a snowflake, stores are emptied, everyone leaves work. And probably nine times out of ten, it ends up being a false alarm. [Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Motovun, Croatia

Dobar dan from Croatia!

Okay, truth is I’m actually already home again, but I already posted on one of my two absolute favorite meals while I was on my two-and-a-half-week European adventure, so I thought it only fair to post on the other one.

And—shocker—it features the legendary talents of the heavenly black truffle!

For much more on my Motovun and northern Croatian adventures:

Motovun: Croatia’s Quintessential Hill Town

Exploring the Hill Towns of Northern Croatia

We spent a day driving around inner Istria, in northern Croatia. It’s a peninsula that is much like Tuscany, full of vineyards, agriculture, adorable old hilltop towns, and truffles. Our last stop of the day before heading back to Rovinj was Motovun, a suitably picturesque town complete with an old wall and tower.

The restaurant was actually in the inner gate wall, tucked underneath. We were ravenous at this point, and I knew there was no question that I was having something with truffles. When a black truffle risotto showed up on the menu, I was sold. We also ordered their house-made Teran wine, which was unique and delicious.

[Read more…]

Food Travel Postcard: Cinque Terre, Italy

Greetings from Bella Italia!

Obviously while I’m on my grand adventure I’m not trying new recipes and cooking up a storm. But I am in one of the best food places on earth, so wanted to say “ciao” and share a little of what I’ve ciao-ed down on.

I met up with Jen (who’s living in Paris right now) in Milan and we began our trip in Cinque Terre, five little fishing villages on the northwestern coast of Italy, just south of Genoa. As I always do in this area, we stayed in Riomaggiore, the smallest and southernmost of the towns.

This region, Liguria, is known as the birthplace of pesto, one of my favorite foods of all time. So of course we had to have pesto for our first dinner there. It’s served with this special pasta made specially for the pesto, called trofe. It was super delicious!

[Read more…]

I know, the world doesn’t need another cooking/food blog

That’s why I held off doing this for so long, honestly.  I don’t have anything new or earth-shattering to add in this respect.  Like many people, I love cooking & baking, particularly for large groups.  But I find it challenging to find the time for it in my busy schedule, accomplish more complicated recipes in my tiny apartment kitchen–seriously, I have like one square foot of counter space–and accommodate new recipe ingredients in my budget despite rising food costs for one person.  But then I got peer-pressured into Pinterest, which has pulled me into a time-suck vortex renewed my interest in trying new recipes and reminded me just how much I love food photography.

So we’ll give this a try.  I’ll be trying out recipes I’ve seen or saved from Pinterest, magazines, or other food blogs (Pioneer Woman is a favorite), and including my successes, failures, and suggestions.  I’ll also be posting old family secret recipes, photos of awesome food I’ve had, meals I’ve tried at new restaurants, cool food I find as I travel, and anything else food-related that strikes my fancy.  And hopefully this will force me to try new recipes more often.  So here goes…

Heart potato chip = lucky blogging?

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