All Good Things Must…

January 14, 2012

Continue in a new format! Due to my newfound interest in crafting, I decided to start a DIY blog. Don’t worry, I’ll still write about delicious food, but I’ll be adding a few more interesting things in there too. Please check me out at Sufficient Champagne. I promise, it will be even cooler and more delicious. And thank you thank you thank you for all your support of nurselizabeth.

Barca!

July 14, 2011

People have said they want to hear more about our honeymoon in Barcelona. Great!

A lot of people asked how we chose Barcelona as our honeymoon destination. Originally, we thought about going on a beach vacation, but realized we might get bored. Then, we thought about going to Rome and Florence, but realized that with SO MUCH to see in both those places, we’d feel a lot of pressure to sightsee. Barcelona was the perfect happy medium. We wanted to go somewhere that had lots of interesting cultural things to do, but, since it was our honeymoon, we also wanted someplace where we could relax on the beach and stroll around without feeling like we were “wasting time.” It was a great choice for us! I figure I’ll walk you through our trip chronologically.

We got our bearings by taking a hop-on-hop-off bus tour on the first day. This allowed us to get a general sense of the layout of the city. It also helped us scope out the big landmarks quickly, to see if we’d like to take the time to revisit them later. And given our intense jetlag, it provided a much needed break from walking around the city.


We took a walk to the Born neighborhood and to the docks to watch the boats come in most days of our trip. The Born neighborhood is funky, less touristy, and full of interesting shops and restaurants. And the harbor? Well, we just like boats.


One afternoon, we strolled over the the breathtaking Sagrada Familia– a spectacular cathedral designed by Gaudi. He designed such an elaborate building plan that it’s current completion estimate is 2026. I’ve heard its worth the Euros and the wait in line to see the inside, but Will and I were pretty pleased and awestruck enough with the outside.

We spent a lot of time sitting in and strolling through Barcelona’s many beautiful city parks. Like this one, across the street from Sagrada Familia.

We took a very quick jaunt through Las Ramblas (the most touristy part of Barcelona) just to a) see it and b) to visit La Boqueria (the farmer’s market). They have EVERYTHING at La Boqueria. Including, as pictured above, skinned squirrels, with eyeballs still attached (sorry for the bad pic, but I didn’t want to draw further attention to the fact I found these freakish). We also bought some fruit here for our room, since we found it very difficult to eat enough produce during our trip. I think a trip to La Boqueria is essential, but I don’t know that we missed much by going through Las Ramblas so quickly.

Park Guell (which is what the first photo in the post is from). Unquestionably a must-see. An enormous park designed by Gaudi. Beautiful flowers next to Dr Seussian-like buildings and sculptures. The park is huge (and free!) and is a wonderful place to spend hours on a sunny afternoon. And I do mean hours. We were there for about 5 hours and still saw only 75% of the park. Great for exploring.

And for climbing to the top of for a panoramic view of the city!

We took a day trip to the beautiful beach town of Sitges. While we definitely loved the beach area of Barcelona (Barceloneta), Sitges was quieter, less crowded, and had even warmer, clearer water. It is a relaxed beach town, with many shops and restaurants to explore. It is also one of Europe’s top gay destinations. If you’re feeling tired of sightseeing in the city, Sitges is a welcome diversion. We traveled to Sitges by train from the Estacio Sants train station in Barcelona, and tickets were less than 10 euros for the two of us. By the way, if you’re like us, everyone will tell you the everyone in Barcelona speaks English. That is not true, particularly at the train station. Know the words for “2 tickets” and “round trip” and “what track?”

We budgeted for one guided tour, and chose Spanish Trails’ Monserrat and Wine Country Tour. We knew that if we selected a good tour company, we’d get insider information on the places we wanted to go, avoid crowds, and see some sites off the track of the Metro or train without having to rent a car and (worst of all) drive in Spain, where the traffic all too often resembles the motorcycle chase scene in The Bourne Ultimatum. We were thrilled with Spanish Trails (which we found because it’s the 2nd highest ranked Spanish tour company on trip advisor) where our friendly and personable tour guide whisked us around Monserrat so we could see all the neat stuff and avoid the massive crowds.

We saw the awe-inspiring monastery, and took a beautiful cliff side walk there, where various scenes of The Passion (some designed by Gaudi) are displayed on the side of the mountain. This walk is (surprisingly) not advertised. We might not have ever found it if we didn’t go with the tour.


We then ate lunch and strolled through a little town I mentioned in my Pa Amb Tomaque post. And then proceeded to taste (too much) wine and cava at a quaint little countryside winery. While this tour is pricier than others it is all inclusive, which many are not. It included everything, from lunch to funicular tickets. And it was fun and stress-free.

We spent our last two days strolling around the city in the morning, visiting the beach at Barceloneta in the afternoon, and eating out at great places at night. It was a perfect 8 day honeymoon.

If you’re planning on visiting Barcelona, I’d be happy to talk to you or email you about it! I am definitely no Fodors, but we did have a great time and, I think, made some really great decisions on how to spend our time and money.

Where Is Elizabeth?

June 9, 2011

I am getting married this weekend (!) and foolishly thought I would be in possession of both the time and the desire to blog this week. I hate to post without even one measly recipe for June, but I wanted to let you know that I will return full force at the end of June after our honeymoon (!) in Barcelona (!) ZOMG.

I hope you have a wonderful next couple of weeks and I look forward to updating you on everything at the end of June.

Bone Happy Teeth!

THURSDAY

Step 1: Check into sick Planet Hollywood Towers suite with 10 friends.*

Step 2: Enjoy free admission and free drinks from 10:30-midnight at Bank simply for being a woman in Vegas during March Madness.

Step 3: Become entranced by shiny, sparkly things.

Step 4: Stuff face into box of Cheez-its in in-room Jacuzzi at 3am.**

FRIDAY

Step 1: Recover at the pool

Step 2:

Eat life-changing Pre Theatre menu at Le Cirque with 6 of our best friends.***

Step 2: Consider waiting in line for a cab to the club, then bargain with a desperate stretch limo driver instead.

Step 3: Have an okay time at Tryst.

Step 4: Continue having an okay time at Tryst.

SATURDAY

Step 1: Wander around the Strip.

Step 2: Consider your life changed yet again after going to see Ka****.

Step 3: Recreate the Cirque de Soleil experience from the comfort of your own suite.

Step 4: And while you’re at it, create a Lady Gaga experience as well.

SUNDAY

Step 1: Wonder how the hell you’re going to handle 6 more hours in Vegas.

Step 2: With chicken and waffles at Bouchon, that’s how!

Step 3: Goodbye, Vegas! See you next year.

*Baller suites are affordable when you cram 11 people into them.

** When I asked Sarah if she preferred me to use this picture versus one where she looked more like herself, she said, “Use the horrible one. You know dignity is not important to me. But accuracy is.”

**This 3 course meal (plus amuse bouche and itty bitty candies) is $68 without wine pairing and $98 with. If you love going out to eat great food, you must eat here.  It is in the top 3 meals of my life (and believe me, I’ve eaten some great meals). That was the best $100 I’ve ever spent. Of course, not all best friends were present.

*** Get 20% off Ka tickets by joining the MGM Player’s Club (it’s free). Get the second cheapest seats. If you buy the expensive ones and sit in the front, you’ll miss seeing a lot of the aerial stuff.

One year old, I can hardly believe it! Here are my top 5 favorite recipes (for taste!) Click the name of the recipe for the link.

1. ARTICHOKE AND GREEN OLIVE TAPENADE

2. ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO AND GOAT CHEESE TART

3. ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI WITH GOAT CHEESE

4. CHICKEN ADOBO

5. CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT BUTTERCRUNCH TOFFEE

And here are my top 5 favorite posts (for writing)

1. COLD BREWED COFFEE

2. PEANUT CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

3. CHERRY TOMATO PIZZA

4. VACATION PART 1 OF 2

5. KILLING AND PREPARING A LOBSTER FOR THE GRILL

Thank you all for reading my blog and for tasting my recipes this past year. Here’s to another great one!

Here’s some ideas from the archives. Click on the name of the recipe to link to its page.

SOFT PRETZELS

ARTICHOKE AND GREEN OLIVE TAPENADE

PICKLED CARROTS AND CUCUMBERS

SRIRACHA GLAZED CHICKEN WINGS

MEXICAN CHOPPED SALAD

and, of course, last post’s GUACAMOLE AND HOMEMADE TORTILLA CHIPS


 

It’s my blog’s 6 month anniversary! Or, actually, it was a few days ago but I forgot (Sorry, Blog. Please don’t make me sleep on the couch tonite). Tardy or not, I think this occasion deserves a recap of my Top 5 Favorite Recipes from the past six months. Click on their names to link to the recipes. Drumroll please…

1. SPINACH, STRAWBERRY, AND GOAT CHEESE SALAD I love balsamic vinegar, I love berries, I love goat cheese. There was a point this spring where I was eating it twice a day. And besides being delicious, it’s a cinch to put together. Perfect when summer rolls in and I want to avoid using my oven at all costs. Raspberries also work well as a substitution for strawberries.

  2. SPINACH QUICHE A slice of cold quiche is my ideal meal for a hot summer day. The crust on this one is easy to make. The quiche is delicious and hearty. And it uplifts me at my 3am/3pm slump during a rough day at work. I’ll think to myself, “Ugh, today is so hard! But wait, I have quiche!” 

3. ZUCCHINI SPAGHETTI WITH GOAT CHEESE  This could pass for a dish at a fancy restaurant. It’s also the dish that made me like zucchini. It’s rich yet light, creamy and slightly spicy. Definitely one of my favorite meals of all time.

4. HAND ROLLED PASTA  Hearty and chewy. The cratered imperfections from hand-rolling create traps for spices, cheese, and sauce. My very favorite way to eat this pasta is to boil it, then quickly sautee it in butter and garlic with a grind of black pepper and a splash of pasta water. I’m hooked.

5. LEMON CAKE Labor intensive? Absolutely. The best cake I’ve ever eaten. Hands down. Even if you are anti-icing (like I usually am), put your hesitations aside. This icing is just sweet enough to balance the sourness of the lemon. The cake is the perfect blend of tangy and sweet.

Happy Half-Year, Blog! And thanks to all of you for reading 🙂