Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Snapshot

Here is my Sunday Snapshot I did for another travel blog called A Cruising Couple. It is from one of the coolest travel experience I have had....camping in the Sahara Desert.

You can see my snapshot here
And read about my awesome trip to Morocco here

Monday, April 21, 2014

Recipe: Roasted Baby Artichokes

I am very lucky to live in a place that has so much agriculture. On the train ride to work I can see fields of all sorts of vegetables. One of the cheapest things here are artichokes. At the vegetable stand I go to you can get a kilo for just over 1 euro! So, usually about once a week here we have artichokes in some form.

Last time I was at the stand, I tried to pick out the smallest artichokes I could find because I wanted to try roasting them which is something new for me. Now, it is officially my favorite way! Paired with a homemade hollandaise or alioli it is a great side dish.

Just out of the oven! I couldn't wait to try one, they smelled so good!

6 small artichokes
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tbs fresh rosemary
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit or about 200 Celsius.
2. Fill a large bowl with water and the lemon juice and set aside. While you are preparing the artichokes, put them in this bowl so they don’t turn brown.
3. Cut the stem leaving about 1/4 inch to the base of the artichoke.
4. Take off the outer, harder leaves. stop once the leaves become thin and easily bendable.
5. With a vegetable peeler, peel what is left of the stem and any remaining pieces of the leaves that you removed.
6. Cut the tops of the artichokes off. Even though these are the soft leaves, they still have a pointy tip that you do not want to eat.
7. Cut the artichokes in half.
8. drain the water, and pat dry the artichokes.
9. mince the garlic and the rosemary together and add it to a large bowl with the olive oil.
10. Toss the artichokes together with the garlic, rosemary, olive oil and red pepper flakes if you are using them.
11. Put the artichokes on a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment paper, making sure they are not touching. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on top of the artichokes.
12. Cook for 20 minutes or until the artichokes are golden brown and the leaves have started to separate from each other.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spanish Food Epiphany

One food that I have hated all my life are olives. I have always found them to be just salty and sour, especially my dad’s favorite, dried. Yuck! Spain is one of the biggest exporters of olive oil and olives are served with everything here. When I first arrived I avoided them like the plague. They were tossed into salads, on sandwiches and sitting there menacingly on my plate trying to contaminate my tapa with its salty juices.

My first year in Almeria I lived with an American girl and her boyfriend was at our house a lot. The only plus about that was he was from a small town outside of Almeria where his family had a lot of orange, lemon and olive trees. So, one weekend after they got back with bags and bags of free oranges they also brought some home pressed olive oil and a few jars of Manzanilla olives. Everyone was raging about how good they were. I wasn’t convinced. During a dinner party (a few drinks may have been involved) they convinced me to try one. And you know what? It was pretty darn good!

almeria roomies
A night out with my roommates in Almeria
That was my one and only olive for awhile until I went out tapeando with a friend one night. During a lull in the conversation she looked down and said: “I thought you hated olives…” I didn’t even realize I had eaten the ones on my plate! After that I could not be stopped. I was buying olives at the markets and going through about a jar a week by myself! I have since calmed down and enjoy olives in more reasonable quantities…and I consider myself very lucky to be living in a country with such fresh and delicious olives!

yum :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Las Fallas 2014: Tips to Enjoy the Fun!

Believe it or not Las Fallas can be stressful. There are so many things to see and do and so little time for it! Now, I’m definitely not an expert, but I have survived 3 years of Las Fallas. Each year has helped me learn how to truly enjoy the festival. I’ve compiled a little list of my favorite tips and tricks so you wont be overwhelmed by Las Fallas.

Someone is a little stressed out...
See the video of these lights below
1. Stay hydrated!
This is the most important thing for any big out door fest and Fallas is no different. Make sure you have a big bottle of water with you at all times because you will be out walking in the sun all day.

The winning Falla Infantil. See it on fire here
See this on fire here
See the video of this below
2. Eat all the buñuelos!
The magical thing about Fallas is all the churros/buñuelos/porras trucks that appear all over the city. Churros con chocolate is a very famous Spanish breakfast of a fried dough stick dipped in hot chocolate sauce. Porras are a fatter version that are softer. Buñuelos de calabaza are a Valencian delicacy. They are fried pumpkin doughnuts and they are delicious! Eat as many as you can!

Me after eating all the churros and Buñuelos
3. Don’t try to see everything!
During the festival there are concerts, fireworks, light shows, traditional music and dancing, parties, parades and over 700 fallas to see. It is literally impossible to see everything. Instead of getting stressed out about trying to see everything, get a schedule of the events and decide which are most important for you. You will enjoy everything much more if you are not always worrying about missing something.

See the video of the traditional dancing below


4. See it with a newbie!
If you have the chance to visit Las Fallas more than once, you should try to bring someone who has never seen it before. I remember my second year my parents came to visit and seeing their reactions to everything was so much fun!

I would like to point out that I had a fever that day....
Even Obama can't escape Las Fallas

5. Have fun!
The festival is only a few days, enjoy it!


Why not?
This was not the winning light display, but it was many people's favorite
Traditional music and dancing in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento

This was the winning display.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Las Fallas 2014: La Cremà

Trying to describe Las Fallas to someone who has never witnessed it in person is almost impossible to do. When told that the structures are set on fire during the last night of the festival people always think they have misunderstood, or that the Valencians are crazy. Either way, La Cremà (the burning) is la crème de la crème (I’m so punny) of Las Fallas. As another blogger put it, La Cremà is “what money looks like when you burn it”. Very true. These statues which cost thousands of euros and months of work are only out in public for a few days before they meet their fiery demise. Crazy? Yes. Awesome? Definitely.


The burnings start at 10:00pm with the Fallas Infantiles. The winning falla infantil is burned at 10:30. These smaller ones don’t need the supervision of the fire department, so lots of children are around for these.

One of the Falla Infantils in my neighborhod
Each Falla (big and small) is doused with gasoline and loaded up with strings of firecrackers and fireworks. Before the big moment, there is usually a small firework display before the fallera mayor lights the fuse.

The winning Falla Infantil for 2014, also in my neighborhood
These statues burn very quickly with lots of smoke. People are able to stand pretty close, but usually end up quickly backing up once the flames really get going.

What's left of the winning Infantil
For the big fallas, the fire department must be present before they can begin. Instead of keeping the falla under control, they douse everything around it. Buildings, windows, trees, and lights are all saved from burning or melting. Once the falla collapses and is small enough to not cause any problems, they leave it burning and move on to the next structure.


There are over 700 fallas in Valencia so if you ever have a chance too see the city from above you will definitely have an amazing view.

fallas from above