A Quick Summer Stop in Chicago

As you know (or may not know!) I work at Booking.com. I love my job because it means I get to eat, sleep, and breathe travel, which just so happens to be my all-time favorite thing to do. Specifically, I manage communications for the US, which involves strategically and creatively overseeing all of the ads we put into the market. Sometimes I travel to LA or other exotic locations for big, cinematic television shoots, and in other instances I sit at my desk in Amsterdam, sip coffee, and sense check content articles or Facebook posts before they go live. Part of my job also entails of identifying who our key consumers are and what they will react to. If I haven’t lost you yet, this means my job also requires attending and analyzing focus groups. Basically, I’m the creepy person who sits on the other side of the tinted glass window, making comments and taking notes. Focus group participants can’t see or hear me, but I listen in and try to get a read on what they think about Booking.com, our ads, or travel in general. It might sound snoozy, but I find this part of the job ultra-intriguing! Sometimes we put our heart and soul into a piece of creative work, and it gets shredded to bits by consumers in a focus group – yes, this really happens! There are also usually mini-kitchenettes attached to each observation room, so in addition to gaining valuable insights about our brand, I also have access to unlimited snacks and takeout options. What more could a gal ask for?! Where am I going with this? A few months ago, some focus groups we were conducting landed me in Chicago. It’s worth noting here that I also went to Atlanta and NYC on the same trip, but holy-hell Chicago blew me out of the water, and is the only city that gets a full, dedicated blog post ;) Maybe it was seasonal and due to the perfect, balmy weather, but damn, Chicago was pretty!

While traveling alone can be a bummer for some, I absolutely adore it. I have the drive to wake up early and explore, or head out after office-hours solo to discover something new. I think moving to Europe and living alone for a few years had a big impact on how I function – I am much more independent than I was five years ago. I really value Ali-time, and the ability to choose what I do next, or where I want to go without anyone else weighing in. I spend a lot of my holiday days traveling with family, friends, and Kai, but sometimes it’s nice to wander around a new city alone with a book, taking in the sights and stopping to read on whatever grassy green knoll takes my fancy! Continue reading

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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

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

Jordaan Food Tour, Amsterdam

A few weeks ago, Eating Amsterdam reached out and asked if I would like to join in on one of their food tours. Typically, I would not think to hop on a food tour in my own city – I’ve been forking my way around Amsterdam for the past five years, and by now I’m well acquainted with all things edible and Dutch, ranging from raw herring to my beloved stroopwafels. However, when I checked out Eating Amsterdam’s website, I noticed that they had a Jordaan Food Tour, which sparked my interest, as I’m not nearly as familiar as I’d like to be with the food scene in the Jordaan. As a de Pijp local, I thought it would be fun to discover the culinary gems of another neighborhood. IMG_0387Fast forward a few e-mails, and I’m booked into Eating Amsterdam’s 4-hour Jordaan Food Tour, featuring a guided walk through the Jordaan neighborhood and a substantial meal in the form of a dozen delicious Dutch tastings.  Continue reading

Cheesy Breakfast Boats

Whenever we have a catered lunch at work, we order from the delicious Uliveto. I’ve literally had clients say, “Hey, can we have the meeting at your office so you can order that AMAZING Italian?!” The food from Uliveto is hearty, drenched in olive oil, and seasoned with fresh herbs. They have one dish – a sweet potato and ricotta pie – that is comparative mouth-crack. A crispy, flaky crust engulfs a cheesy mixture of broccoli, sweet potatoes and onions, all swimming in a soft blend of Italian cheeses. I would eat this addictive concoction for breakfast, lunch and dinner, day in and day out if I had the chance, however, I have NO idea how to re-create this delicacy at home. Next weekend I’ll probably march on down to Uliveto to pick the chef’s master mind, but in the meantime, I’m left craving soft broccoli with an abundance of cheese crammed into small, green florets. And thus breakfast boats were born – an easy, quick creation of mine that eliminates the need for a homemade dough or crust, but still captures all the delightful magic of vegetables smothered in cheese.IMG_9234This recipe takes about 10 minutes to construct, and a a mere 15 minutes in the oven. So in less than 20 minutes, you can have a delicious, cheesy bread boat meal, without hours of labouring over a hot stove. To get started, you’ll need a few key ingredients. Continue reading

Sir Hummus, Amsterdam

I’m super sleepy, but before I retire for the night I need to tell you two things. 1) I’ve re-named Pressed Words (like how I drop that in here all casually?!) As mentioned a few weeks back, I really want to get back into the swing of blogging. To kick-start this resolution, I purchased a domain name and re-branded the space. I’ve been blogging since 2012, and it’s been a crazy ride (life, blogging, everything) with so many ups and downs I could never have predicted. But in these kooky past few years, two constants remain. I love Amsterdam with all of my heart. This city is a huge source of happiness in my life, and right now, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. The second constant is my thirst for travel and adventure. Sure, I may call de Pijp home, but every corner of the globe I uncover becomes a permanent fixture in my heart, and writing about my travel adventures here, in this living, breathing storybook, is incredibly gratifying. So welcome to Amsterdam and Beyond, my space for life, love, food, friends, fuck-ups, laughter, learning, and everything in between. I’m going to continue making small tweaks to the site over the next few weeks, but expect things to get better, more epic, more personal, and more fun :) And please, comments and critiques are SO welcome!

Now, the second thing I want to tell you is slightly more scrumptious. And it’s BIG news. Ready?? A NEW HUMMUS RESTAURANT HAS OPENED ON MY STREET. Yes, I really did just shout that. Behold the chickpea and tahini glory:IMG_5788How often does a hummus restaurant open in Amsterdam? Um, like never. What are the chances of one opening up on my street? Pretty slim to none, I would say. However, de Pijp continues to be one of the coolest places in the entire world, so in addition to amazing Italian eateries, Javanese restaurants, and sushi spots, I now have a local hummus hang out. Welcome to Sir Hummus. Not only is their website adorable, but their restaurant is super cute too. Continue reading