A Pit Stop in Trieste, Italy

While planning our trip to Slovenia, Kai and I realized that flights from Amsterdam into Ljubljana were quite pricy. Like, €260 each pricy, which was a bit more than we were hoping to spend on a long weekend trip in Europe. As our ultimate destination was Lake Bled, we knew we would have to rent a car anyways, as there are no airports in the close vicinity of the lake. So when we found €80 return trip tickets to Venice, which is only a 2.5 hr drive from Ljubljana, we quickly got excited about saving some money and also spending some time in Italy! Kai and I had both been to Venice before, and so we decided to do a pit stop a bit closer to Slovenia in Trieste, Italy. We flew into Venice late on a Wednesday night, slept at a cheap and cheerful airport hotel, took advantage of the free breakfast the next morning (ohh how my heart loves a good Italian breakfast of meats, cheeses, crusty bread, and espresso!) and hit the road early enough to arrive in Trieste by lunch time.  Continue reading

Corniglia & Manarola, Italy

Hi friends, happy Wednesday! It’s been a while since my last post. Lately, I haven’t been spending a lot of time on my computer, which means I haven’t been very diligent in editing photos, and thusly, posting on the blog. I’ve been wrapped up in some cool real-world things, such as securing a new job (more on this exciting news later), training for a half-marathon, making art, and enjoying the holiday season. Last night I zoomed Stateside for Christmas. I’m currently sitting on a bed in my parent’s house, fending off cats and waiting for a suitable hour to get a cup of tea (because it’s only 5am – ohh hey hey jet lag). I am hoping to share one more Berlin post with you this week before we all get swept up by Christmas cheer. Let’s see if I can stick to this goal! Today, I thought I’d share my remaining Italy photos. So far in Cinque Terre, Amie and I had explored Vernazza, Monterosso al Mare, and Riomaggiore, saving two of the most dreamy villages for last. 10408869_805372874830_3375569558160099926_nManarola (above) is the second smallest village in Cinque Terre, renown for winemaking and seafood. Geographically, it’s not hard to see why. The village is perched on a cliff, dangling in a slew of pastel colors above the sea. Small fishing boats chug in and out of the harbor, towing in the day’s catch and providing fresh fare to the village. While I’d been told that Manarola was hands-down the most beautiful village in Cinque Terre, our first stop of the day would be Corniglia, the only village in Cinque Terre that is not directly adjacent to the sea.
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Vernazza, Italy

For the past 18 months, I’ve been dreaming of Italy. Shortly after my breakup with B, I had an irrational brainwave (probably inspired by a Pinterest board) imploring me to roam the Bel Paese (or beautiful country, in Italian). I spelled out the dream holiday previously in this post – the trip would involve exploring Tuscany, grooving my way through Rome, and splashing in the sea on the Amalfi coast. At the time of my fantasy, I did not know Cinque Terre existed. If you did not know Cinque Terre existed, you are in for a delight. IMG_0761Cinque Terre means The Five Lands in Italian, and is comprised of five stunning seaside villages: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Hiking trails and trains scale the lush, hills of the Italian Riviera, connecting the villages. Boats also ferry between the villages, however a major part of Cinque Terre’s charm lies in the fact that the villages aren’t quite accessible by car. Olive and lemon trees speckle the hills, terraces run along the rugged, steep landscape, overlooking the sea, and seafood is plentiful in the local cuisine. Essentially, Cinque Terre is an Italian lover’s dream, and so when Amie made her semi-annual pilgrimage to Amsterdam, we booked an inception vacation (a vacation inside Amie’s vacation) to the stunning Italian Riviera, to visit none other than Cinque Terre. Continue reading

Summer in Maine, USA

As I’ve blogged about visiting Maine many, many times before (see here, here, here, and here – just to name a few!) I was less vigilant about whipping out my camera for the sole purpose of blogging this time around. I snapped a few photos here and there, but mainly to remember the moment or capture a smile – as most photographers would :) And so while I don’t have specific reviews or recommendations to post, I do have a great collection of Maine memories to share from this summer. IMG_8126From a photographic perspective, the highlight of the trip was getting to spend lots of time in Portland, Maine, which is a quick 15 minute drive from my parent’s country house. Portland is the biggest city in Maine, and (although I’m totally biased) it’s also one of the most beautiful. The small, harbor city is set on a hill and boasts of cobblestone streets, long wharfs, red brick buildings, and deep-blue ocean views. Continue reading

Supper Club: The Seafood Bar, Amsterdam

There’s a new club in town and all of the cool kids are joining. Membership is granted based on two simple criteria. 1) You have to work at Sid Lee. 2) You must eat. As many people at Sid Lee enjoy the fine art of eating, we soon had a supreme group of folk enrolled in the Sid Lee Supper Club. And so we kicked off our new initiative with a big, family-style dinner at Restaurant Blauw. The evening was a huge (stuffed, roll-home) success, and a second edition of the Supper Club was scheduled for soon thereafter. Enter The Seafood Bar, one of my favorite dinner spots in Amsterdam. I’ve been going to The Seafood Bar a lot lately (remember this heavenly Instagram photo?!) and was excited to share one of my beloved Amsterdam restaurants with the club. IMG_5812Hands down, The Seafood Bar has THE BEST raw seafood platter in town. Continue reading

5 Simple Tips For Making Sashimi

There are three reasons my posts have been scarce lately. One. Work has been hella busy. Two. I signed up to an unlimited month of Bikram yoga and have been going four times a week, leaving me incapacitated and way to yogi-zen to blog. Three. I started watching True Detective and have been slurping the series up like a sugar-sweet milkshake. I just can’t get enough!! I have one more episode to go and don’t know what I will do with my free time once I’m through. Perhaps go back to blogging I guess ;)

This past weekend (which feels so far away already) B was out of town. I missed him, but having the bed to myself for three whole nights kind of rocked. Other than being a shameless pillow hog, I had a total self-respect weekend. On Saturday morning I ran errands around the city. Instead of biking I walked, and as the morning went on the sun slowly burnt through the clouds. All of the trees are blooming in Holland, and lately the sun has been poking around until well past 8pm. So I think it’s safe to say it’s officially spring, and I’m loving every moment.IMG_6175 IMG_6187IMG_6205When my errands were done, I decided to continue the self-respect and try something a bit out of my comfort zone. I’ve lived on the Albert Cuyp Market for three years. And I LOVE seafood (see here and here). But I’ve never actually gotten around to buying fresh fish from the market, despite the many stalls pushing fresh seafood. It might sound silly, but as an American I’m intimidated by purchasing food that’s priced per kilo, as I didn’t grow up with the metric system. No thank you am I accidentally paying €35 for one piece of fish. I also don’t speak Dutch, and the fish market is usually quite crowded and loud, which can be somewhat overwhelming for a short (by Holland standards), non-Dutch speaking American.

But on Saturday I said screw it. I wanted a big plate of raw fish, and no way in hell was I chancing the stuff from the grocery store. So after running errands, I ventured to the market and pushed my way up to the smelly fish counter. I boldly asked for €8 worth of salmon and tuna. I told the fishmonger that I was making sushi, and he helped me pick out a few pieces that were especially fresh. The experience wasn’t half as bad as I had imagined – in fact it was quite pleasant – and I think my local fishmonger may have a new regular!IMG_6216I got home and was excited to unpack my bounty.IMG_6220I opened up the packaging, stomach growling.IMG_6224And then . . . I stopped. Because I didn’t know what to do. I’ve never prepared sushi at home, and despite just wanting a simple plate of sashimi, I didn’t know what to do next. Did I have to wash the fish? Was there a special way to cut it? Did I have to refrigerate it first? Would it be weird to eat it with a fork and knife as-is? Yes, it would. So I did the next best thing. I did some research.5 Simple Sashimi Tips

If you’re planning on making sashimi at home, here are the key things you need to know:

1) Make sure you tell the grocer or fishmonger you’re buying fish to make sushi. There’s no specific grade or standard for selling sushi-safe fish, so you’re going to have to be careful. Not all fish is created equal, and you’re going to want the freshest stuff they have. Ask for a recommendation. The fish should smell like a salty ocean (not dead fish) and should be moist, with bright skin and a firm flesh.

2) Once you’ve got your fish, you’re going to need a very, very sharp knife. You don’t want to have to saw back and fourth with your knife as you cut the fish – this will crush the cells. You want a very sharp knife that will cut straight through the fish in one firm slice. IMG_62293) When you’re ready to cut your fish, slice it into long strips that are about an inch wide. Now, cut your fish against the grain into ¼-inch thick slices. You should be left with an even pile of bite-sized sashimi. For taste and freshness, you’re going to want to serve your sashimi immediately after slicing. IMG_62314) The last step is serving. Pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce, and daikon radish are all great sashimi accompaniments. Garnish a plate with you favorites, and then lay down the sashimi. I made my own dressing with sesame oil, soy sauce, and wasabi, and served my sashimi with a big helping of ginger and some mango.

IMG_62445) Get creative! Once you’ve mastered the basics of sashimi making, you can then start to make some really delicious and unique dishes. Typically sashimi is served as a starter, but you could make it into a delicious tuna and seaweed salad, as seen here, or a sashimi-cucumber skewer, as seen here. Keep in mind that the fish flavors are so powerful, so you want to pair your sashimi with light fragrant fruits, vegetables, and grains that compliment the meal. IMG_6254Bon appetite!