Bikes and Beers in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia is wild and beautiful, with tall mountains and dark caves, warming dishes and endless vineyards, ancient cobble stone cities and a welcoming buzz that sweeps up visitors wholeheartedly. While there is so much to see and do in Slovenia, Kai and I spent a few days touring around Lake Bled and the mountains, and another day exploring Trieste, an Italian seaside town almost entirely bordered by Slovenia. While visiting Lake Beld was top of my must-do list, we’d heard that spending a few days in Ljubljana was practically obligatory when visiting Slovenia, and wow, and I glad that we did!
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia, known for its sprawling green spaces, the peaceful and winding Ljubljanica River, and as home to a jewel box of colorful architecture. Continue reading

A Romantic Evening at Casa di David, Amsterdam

I’m writing this post while soaring on an airplane towards Italy. I’m turning 30 this weekend and wanted to celebrate three centuries of life surrounded by friends and the Italian countryside. Although I grew up in the US, my family is very Italian, and so my birthdays were always accompanied with big family dinners and a spaghetti and meatball feast, typically followed by Italian pastries (supplied by my Grampy), gifts, and many well wishes. I know good Italian food. I have so many wonderful Italian chefs in my family, and I have also ventured over to Italy on many occasions to take in the scenery, the culture, and above all, the cuisine! When in Amsterdam, it’s hard to come by a decent Italian meal. There are many restaurants offering Pizza (and don’t get me wrong, some of these joints are fantastic!) but there are very few locals that are comparable to the real Italy. img_7271Casa di David is on my list as a  ‘definitely yes!’ when it comes to Italian dining in Amsterdam. A few weeks ago, the boy and I were lucky enough to snag a front-of-the-house table on a dark and dreary summer evening. And so we stayed dry inside, sipping wine and twirling fresh pasta around our forks in the candlelight. Continue reading

San Sebastian, Spain with the Girls!

Gosh, I am so behind on blogging. My next post will be a short and sweet restaurant review, but this San Sebastian post took AGES to get live because there were SO MANY PHOTOS to go through! I really need to stick to just 5-10 photos per post, because picking my favorites and editing through everything can be overwhelming! That said, I am happy to finally tell you all about my trip to San Sebastian with Amie, Jess, and Jess (yes, TWO Jess’s on our trip – double the Jess fun!)
IMG_0753As the girls were already planning on coming to Amsterdam at the end of April for King’s Day, we decided to tack a mini sun-holiday on to the end of their European visit. We picked a spot in Northern Spain that had ample sunshine, but during our stay the temperature hovered in the mid 60’s, which was wonderful for strolling around sans coat, but it didn’t really satisfy our desire for a beachy holiday (although there were many brave souls in minimal clothing lounging by the sea!) That said, we were more interested in pintxos, sangria, and sightseeing anyways, and fell blissfully in love with our flat that overlooked the sea! And I mean, LOOK at that view (above) from our balcony! Continue reading

A Progressive Dinner of Awesomeness

It’s been a while since my last post, and I miss you guys! Funny enough, despite the lack of new content on here, my site traffic continues to climb. It’s like you don’t even care that I’m not here anymore! Amsterdam & Beyond is thriving without me, which is both flattering and alarming. When did my baby go and get so grown up?!

On a more serious note, it really has been a while. I don’t want to make excuses, but real life has been pretty freakin’ awesome lately, and so that’s what I’ve been doing. Living. And my neglect isn’t focused solely on Amsterdam & Beyond – it’s all social media. I used to be a Pinterest queen and an Instagram junkie, with the occasional Facebook post just for giggles. Now, I rarely spend down time on my computer. I prefer to laugh, dance, kiss, talk, drink wine, eat sweets, run, and explore. I have a backlog of photos from the past few months, but have barely made a dent in editing them. My *goal* is to blog once a week. If I can keep up that pace, I will be happy :) So let’s see if I can get any better in April!IMG_4036These photos are a few snaps from a dinner the girls and I concocted last weekend. Have you ever heard of a progressive dinner? It’s a food tour through several houses, where one course is enjoyed at each stop! We thought it would be a fun idea for a Saturday night, as a prequel to some dancing :) And so we rallied eight ladies, four bringing beverages and four offering up their homes to host and cook! Read through to the end for some tips if you’re looking to throw your own progressive dinner party :) Continue reading

A Weekend in Berlin, Part 2

So let me tell you about my party experience in Berlin. Amie and I have caused midnight mayhem in many European cities. We’ve had crazy nights out in Lisbon, Istanbul, Paris, and Amsterdam, just to name a few. But we knew Berlin would be something else. In the 90’s, all of the best parties in Berlin were nomadic – thousands upon thousands had fled Berlin to escape the firm grip of communism, leaving behind empty houses and abandoned industrial buildings. When the Berlin Wall fell, Berliner’s rejoiced, and the once abandoned homes and buildings became a backdrop for the city’s triumphant party scene. Twenty years later, Berlin’s once elusive nightlife is now a permanent fixture in the city’s global persona. Iconic night clubs such as Berghain and Sisyphos draw party-goers from around the globe, while trendy cocktail bars such as Neue Odessa and Green Door serve distinguished cocktails for locals and tourists alike.IMG_2291To say that Amie and I were excited to experience Berlin’s nightlife would be a vast understatement. We’d intentionally enjoyed a week of rest and relaxation in Italy, recharging before an epic long weekend in Berlin. As mentioned in my last post, Amie and I kicked off our Friday evening at Txokoa, where we sipped monstrous G&Ts and enjoyed a rich dinner. Continue reading

Baked, Amsterdam

2015-03-Baked

I did not take this photo, it’s from the Baked website: http://baked-restaurant.com/

I want to caveat this entire post by telling you that I’m not your cliché Amsterdam tourist. I don’t spend my weekends in coffee shops, I can’t remember the last time I went to the Red Light District, I’ve never seen a sex show, and I most definitely could not stomach a whole weed brownie. Aside from the occasional white wine or vodka soda, my vices are quite limited, and while I love Amsterdam’s liberal mindset, I very rarely indulge in the leniencies allowed. However, on occasion, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presents itself . . . and in this instance the opportunity was an invitation to Baked, a fancy six-course tasting menu served with lots of love and a sprinkling of drugs. The Baked website will tell you that this dinner is a ‘tasting trip’ where haute cuisine meets natural highs ‘from Marijuana and Hashish to more esoteric psychoactive ingredients such as Syrian Rue, Magic Truffles and Kanna Extract’. Do I know what all of these things are? No. Was I intrigued? Ohh yes! Several of my colleagues were also interested in becoming gourmet psychonauts, and so last Saturday night a big group of us booked in for an out of this world // mind // body drug dinner extravaganza. Continue reading

Anne at Theater Amsterdam

If you live in Amsterdam, it’s impossible to miss the ‘Anne’ posters plastered all over town. In fact, at one point I think I even saw an entire bus branded with the big yellow ‘Anne’ letters, calling attention to one of Amsterdam’s most historic and harrowing tales. If you’re not familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank, I’ll assume you’ve been living under a rock. As an American, reading Anne’s diary was part of my elementary school education. And as a current Amsterdam-dweller, understanding Anne’s intimate portrayal of World War II reminds us all that life in the Netherlands hasn’t always been peachy, and that this open and accepting Dutch mentality was hard-earned.

Last week, I was invited to Theater Amsterdam, not only to see their interpretation of Anne’s saga, but to also enjoy a lovely three-course dinner at Boven de Planken, the theater’s bespoke restaurant.

IMG_4817It sits on the second floor of the theater, surrounded by large glass windows overlooking the IJ. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2014

I’ve been in Holland for five years, and I think I’ve finally managed to crack the perfect Thanksgiving recipe. No, I am not referring to a delicious Betty Crocker stuffing, or Martha’s expert mashed potatoes. I’m talking about the overall hosting of a detailed dinner, on a work night, in a country that doesn’t recognize one of the fattest and most elaborate food holidays of all. So how does one prepare a Thanksgiving feast for eight on a ten hour work day? Want to know the magic recipe? Late November 2014_1128_2303You will need: one slow cooker, a dash of determination, a local butcher, three nights at the grocery store, four cups of wine, one slightly chopped work agenda, and eight amazing friends.  Continue reading

East Ender in Portland, Maine

While in Maine I tend to live on oysters and lobster. Social gatherings almost always involve wine, a terrace, and a platter of icy cold saltwater clams. And while oysters are a social treat, I find lobster to be a very comforting food. Lobster tastes like childhood, like summertime, and like home. If given a choice, I would happily dine at a seaside lobster shack every single night of the week. For this reason, rarely do I step it up in the culinary department while in Maine. I can get hearty meals with delightful flavors in Amsterdam, so I tend to stick with the seasonal Maine delicacies you can only find in New England – lobster by the bucket, sweet corn on the cob, oysters, wild Maine blueberries . . . yum!

However, when the lovely Amie invited me to the East Ender in Portland for her birthday, I was excited to give it a go. The East Ender is slightly more fancy than the dinning experiences I’m used to in Maine (think picnic benches and ketchup packets) but they still have that fresh farm to table Maine flavor I love. Amie is an excellent friend, and I have to say, she has excellent taste as well!

IMG_1973The space at the East Ender is adorable. It captures Portland’s historic seaside charm, with bright pops of blue, exposed brick walls, nautical menus, and twinkling fairy lights.    Continue reading

Foyer, Amsterdam

The night I became friends with Zoe and Bex, I could barely walk. It was the first month of my first big kid job, and coincidentally my first Queen’s Night in Amsterdam. I was no novice to drinking, but very under-educated on the adult kind. You know, the I’m just going to have two or three glasses of wine after work kind. Two awkward hours of mingling and six vodka sodas later, I was completely inebriated. I remember stumbling around the 180 garden, babbling incessantly to the CEO, and somehow bruising my knees in the chaos of it all. But then I had two friends; one sweet girl was holding my hand, while another helped call a cab. They snuggled under my arms and helped me walk through the lobby, puke on the street, and safely flop into a taxi home. To this day, the entire evening is a thick cloud of fog, however I can still remember the generosity of these two women. And from that embarrassing, drunken night, my first two true-Amsterdam friends were born.IMG_0767Fast forward four years, and we’re still friends, but such different people.

Continue reading