Mangia Italia!

I’ve never been super into Italian food.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never really found the good stuff!  We CHOWED down in Italy!  Italian food is based on simple, fresh ingredients and exquisite craftsmanship.  Every restaurant worth its salt makes their own pasta and menus change seasonally.  Thank God we walked so much to stave off too much weight gain.

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Breakfast every day was cappuccino and “cornettos”, which are Italian croissants filled with Nutella!!!  Yummers!

Italia

Italia

The antipasto was also amazing!  Here’s some bruschetta and prosciutto with melon before lunch!

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“Suppli” are basically breaded deep-fried risotto balls.  I want to eat these every day for the rest of my life!

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Cured meats, bread with gorgonzola truffle spread, tapenades, and veggies at the Mercate Centrale in Firenze.  Definitely go there for the amazing local food choices!

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The most epic meat and cheese board in the world from La Prosciutteria in Roma.

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Pasta made from scratch is SO MUCH BETTER than dried boxed pasta.  The pasta was really thick and rich!  I tried spinach-ricotta ravioli with garlic sage cream, spaghetti a la pesto, and many more!

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Last but not least, dessert!  Authentic tiramisu is not very sweet with a very strong coffee flavor.  This one was pistachio flavored, hence the green color.

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Gelato was also a daily occurrence.  This one was from Perche No! in Firenze, which I had dreamed of visiting since hearing so much about how good it was from a high school history teacher.  He’s now retired and I half expected to run into him there!  I can’t wait to go back to Italia with Zach someday and try all the goodies again!  Until then, I’m on the hunt for suppli in California!

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The Bordeaux Adventures

After wandering through Paris for three days, we caught another Blablacar rideshare to Bordeaux, capital of one of France’s most famous wine regions!  The small city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, fun university town, and a great place to depart for a wine tour to the surrounding countryside.  It also has the longest pedestrian-only street in Europe!  The surrounding streets also prohibit cars, so it’s a great place to walk around freely, stopping at any of the myriad shops and bars.

Ancient architecture with modern train
Ancient architecture with a modern train system

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Basilica de Ste. Michel
Basilica de Ste. Michel

We didn’t end up forking over the cash for an official tour because we had heard there were many opportunities to taste the local offerings at the many wine bars in town.  That was true; although we couldn’t find anywhere that actually did small 1-2oz tastings, there were always many local glasses on the menus.  The first night in Bordeaux we did a blind tasting of two different reds from nearby and I guessed mine correctly- Cab Sav!  It was massive and tannic.  Zach’s merlot was also great.  The highlight though, was the best cheese board I’ve ever had in my life!  We got cream cheese, goat cheese, brie, and camembert.  “Oh la la,” indeed!  I never truly understood cheese until I went to France.  My waistline, however, is not appreciating this newfound understanding.  Oh well, Europe is not the place for diets, I keep telling myself.

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Very happy Zach
Best cheese in the world
Best cheese in the world
Cheesy paradise
Cheesy paradise

On our second day in Bordeaux we wandered around a bit more, tasted some more wine, had a wine and cheese picnic, walked through a huge and beautiful park, and made some friends at Grizzly Bar, a Quebecois bar with a delicious hefeweizen on special–Edelweiss from Germany.  All in all, the town was very nice and mellow, while still having enough entertainment for two days.  Next time I’m sure we’ll explore the surrounding villages more, as we definitely got our palates excited about Bordeaux varietals!

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Oh la la! Three Days in Paris

While in the States we found BlaBlaCar.com, a ride-sharing website that seemed popular in Europe.  We tried it in California but no one seemed to use it.  The train from London to Paris was almost 100 euros each so we were happy to find a rideshare that was only 70 euros for the both of us.  We met up with our driver at 6am and two French girls and a guy joined us in the van.  It was early so no one really talked, but our driver buzzed through the busy London streets with ease and we soon found ourselves in the British countryside, flat land with trees and small villages with farms of corn and sheep.  I soon fell asleep and before I knew it we were at the white cliffs of Dover waiting in line for the ferry to France.

Dover from the ferry

Once on the boat everyone woke up and started talking.  Kindred spirits, we talked about our plans and they taught us some last-minute French.  We were soon out in the English Channel and before we knew it the hour-and-a-half trip was over and we were docking on the shores of mainland Europe.

The French countryside reminded us of Ohio with its flat, never ending corn fields.  We both fell asleep again and soon were on the edge of Paris in terrible traffic.  Our driver dropped us off a few blocks from where we would spend the night CouchSurfing and since our host was not home until nighttime we stopped at one of the many cafes for our first wine and cheese of the trip.

wine and cheese

Paris was so different than what we were used to.  Everyone sits outside on chairs that all face the street.  The locals can spend an hour drinking an espresso and chain smoking.  Sitting down and having this relaxing lunch time is a very important part of their day.   After work, everyone is walking home with a baguette or two; the bread is amazing here.

The next day, despite having all day passes for the Metro, we ending up doing a whole lot of walking.  I can’t remember ever seeing so many famous things in one day.  Drum roll…

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The Louvre
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Pont des Arts bridge over the Seine river in Paris. The locals ask people to NOT put locks on the bridge because the weight of the locks is about to collapse the bridge.
Bridge of love locks.
I cannot even guess how many locks are already there. I would bet more than a million.
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Notre Dame.
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Carrie at the tower. We had a nice picnic in this park.
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The Arc de Triomphe.  It’s surrounded by the worlds most impressive round-a-bout.
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The Moulin Rouge
Sacre-Couer (Sacred Heart)
Sacre-Couer (Sacred Heart)
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The view from Sacré-Coeur in the Montmartre district
Monument where the Bastille used to stand
Monument where the Bastille used to stand

Yes, the French can be a little grumpy – especially when your French is as bad as ours.  But they grow on you and we soon figured out how to properly order food and drinks at the restaurants.  The city was like nothing we’ve seen before.  Old and grimy in parts, but full of flavor and overflowing with history.   We were able to see a lot in our three days but hopefully we will be able to return someday to continue our explorations!!!

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Introducing the Pupusa Tracker!

Pupusas

Before entering El Salvador we had read about this food item called a “pupusa” that everyone eats all the time and they sounded pretty delicious.  Once in the country we noticed that yes, there are pupuserias on every corner of the whole country.  A pupusa is basically a thick, doughy, tortilla filled with cheese, refried beans, pork, or a variety of other things.  You put some coleslaw-like stuff and some tomato-like stuff on top (sorry, we haven’t been here long enough to know the proper names for everything) and eat them with your hands.  They are the national fast food and we love them!!!  They sell for between 30 and 50 cents each and we usually eat three or four apiece for a cheap dinner.  Since we are already so addicted, we decided to start counting how many of these tasty guys we put down in our time in El Salvador.  We will place the current count on the right side of the website, near the top.  We plan to eat more than 100 in our three weeks here.  That is all.

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