Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Once Upon a Time... I studied in Italy

Torta Pinolata

I am exceptionally blessed. Really. I thank God everyday for the life I've lived to date, young as it may be, and the people He's put in it. All of my friends and family are truly spectacular people. And all of my adventures to date make me ecstatic to recall. I've traveled quite a lot, learned a lot of random lessons, made a lot of beautiful things, cooked, baked, and burnt a lot of exceptionally great food, and been stupid enough to have jumped off of my fair share of mountains, cliffs, and "perfectly good" airplanes. I've lived in Chicago, Washington DC, Dublin, Ireland, and the very exotic Oxford, Ohio. Oh, and Florence. Which is the point, really.  One particularly amazing time of my life was the 7 months I spent living as a student in Florence, Italy.

During my time in Firenze, I studied cooking, photography, film editing, writing, and of course, brushed up on my Italian. While the Italian never really took, (I am awful at picking up languages), the others were all a natural fit, and suddenly I couldn't get enough.

I took several cooking classes and seminars whilst in Firenze, and I had another blog, (a travel blog), that listed all of my favorite recipes. Due to requests, I've now posted them here too. I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did! Posted at the bottom of the recipes, I've also put some of the stories from my first classes. If you thought I was clumsy here, you should have seen me when I was lost in translation ;)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My DC Bucket List

When I moved to DC, I knew my time here may be limited so I endeavored to make the most of my time in this great cultural hub while it lasted. DC and the entire East Coast were/are a mystery and I didn't want to miss any of the highlights. I asked friends I made, friends I knew, bartenders, tour guides, and even compiled what I could from DC travel books to come up with the following list. If you have any other "musts" for my time on the East Coast and DC area, comment here or e-mail me! I'm always looking to expand this already lengthy list :)

And yes, due to my foodie nature, a LOT of these are places to eat. My friends are also food people so, a lot of these recommendations are "you have to try the menu at____!" based.

Items that are noted struck through have been checked off already (meaning, I personally experienced it) :)
The ones that have links even has a post about that activity letting you know my thoughts! Fancy.

  • Go on a tour of the Capitol Building (Thanks, Dave!)   
  • Go to Clarendon's Mardi Gras Parade  
  • Go to a Supreme Court Case
  • Go to the Folger Shakespear Library and Garden
  • Get oysters/drinks at Old Ebbit's back bar  
  • Go to the US Botanical Gardens
  • Play pool/get drinks at Jay's Saloon  
  • Go to Carpool on a nice night and drink on their open patio  
  • Go to Witlows on Wilson for mugs of beer and their roof top terrace 
  • Go to the Spy Museum
  • Go take pics of Theodore Roosevelt Island 
  • Go on a Pentagon Tour
  • Go take a White House Tour
  • Do to Dumbarton Oaks Gardens/Rock Creek Park
  • Go to the Newseum and Freedom Park  
  • Do a "Spies of Washington" tour
  • Go to "Antique Row"
  • Go to "Rock n' Roll Hotel"'s Drunk Spelling Bee  
  • Go to Rocket Bar 
  • Attend Nightmare on M Street 
  • Go to Backstage Books and Costumes
  • Go to the Torpedo Factory Art Center
  • Volunteer at "Christ Child Opportunity Shop"
  • Go see a performance of Capitol Steps (
  • Go on a Halloween Ghost tour in Alexandria
  • Take a pic with the Einsteain Statue in Foggy Bottom
  • See the Marilyn Monroe Mural in Adam's Morgan 
  • See the Iwo Jima Memorial at night
  • Check out Shenandoah Brewing & Co and brew some brews
  • Go to Old Town Alexandria's "Gadsby's Tavern Museum" 
  • Shop at "Ruff N' Ready"  
  • Check out the Sonny Bono memorial on 20th St. NW & New Hampshire (Adams Morgan)
  • Go to DC Roller Derby 
  • Go to "Clydes" 
  • Go to "Jimmy T's Place"
  • Go to "Filomena" for italian 
  • Go to Metro Diner 29 
  • Go to "Dangerously Delicious Pie" on H Street 
  • Go to "Sawah Diner" for hookah/food
  • Go to "Blue Duck Tavern" (Where Obama took Michelle for their anniversary)
  • Take cooking classes at "Zola"
  • Go to the Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden 
  • Get pepperoni rolls and cider at "Dodge City" on U Street
  • Kayak on the Potomac (Thompson Boat Center/Rental at Foggy Bottom)
  • Take cooking classes at "Hill's Kitchen" 
  • Grab a sandwich from "So's Your Mom" in Adam's Morgan
  • Spend an evening catching a show at "Blue's Alley" - Jazz Club/Dinner Joint 
  • Try out the all cereal menu at "The Cereal Bowl"
  • Spend a Happy Hour or Breakfast at "Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe" 
  • Get a treat from "Something Sweet" 
  • Have an infamous "Georgetown Cupcake"  *"Baked and Wired" in GT is better!*
  • Go to "The Liberty Tavern" Restaurant  Ö 
  • See a movie and grab a brew at Arlington Cinema and Draft House Ö
  • Go to the National Postal Museum
  • Get an authentic Italian Dinner at "Carmines"  
  • Go to "Ted's Bulletin" for breakfast
  • Go to "Desperado's Burgers and Bar" on U Street
  • Eat "Dolcezza's" Gelato
  • Go to the following farmers markets:
    • Eastern Market: Tues-Friday 7AM-7PM, Sat 7AM-6PM, Sundays 9AM-5PM @ 7th & C (Eastern Market Metro) 
    • White House: May-Nov, Thursdays from 3PM-7 @ 810 Vermont Ave
    • Penn Quarter: April-Dec, Thursdays from 3PM-7 @ the North end of 8th St NW
    • 14th & U St: May-Nov, Saturdays from 9AM-1PM
    • Columbia Heights: May-Oct, Saturdays from 9AM-2PM, 14th and Irving
    • Dupont: Sundays from 10-1, 1500 block of 20th St (Between Mass Ave & Q)
    • Bloomingdale: May-Nov, Sundays from 10AM-2PM @ 1st and R St
  • Have a french brunch at "L'Enfant Cafe"
  • Try a trapeze class at TSNY
  • Dinner and Drinks at "Circa" 
  • Go to an outdoor movie at "Crystal Screen" 
  • Go to the National Archives
  • Go to "CoCo Sala" Chocolate Lounge and Boutique  
  • Go to the National Portrait Gallery 
  • Go to the Smithsonian National Zoo Park 
  • See the Monuments on the Mall at night 
  • See/photograph the architecture at the National Building Museum
  • Get a meal at "Zaytinya"
  • Get sushi at "Oya" or "Sei"  
  • Go to the National Museum of Natural History (particularly the Ocean Hall!)
  • Go to an afternoon movie at "The Uptown Theater" in Cleveland Park
  • Take a picture on the outdoor terrace of the 6th floor of the Newseum 
  • Take a pic on the Kennedy Center's Roof Top Terrace 
  • Get drinks and Chili at "Hard Times"
  • Go to a happy hour at "Toledo Lounge"
  • Go to "Mie N Yu" for dinner and drinks   
  • Go to Ping Pong for their unlimited dim sum/champagne brunch 
  • Go to "The Tune Inn" from Diners, Drive Thrus, and Dives with Guy Fieri
  • Take a cooking/beverage class at "The Columbia Room" 
  • Go to "Rustik Tavern" 
  • Go to "Fish Market Black Salt Restaurant" 
  • Go to "Baked and Wired"   (BEST CUPCAKES IN THE CITY!) 
  • Go to "Bedrock Billiards"
  • Go to Twisted Tuesday Karokee at "The Reef" in Adam's Morgan 
  • Get Pizza Rolls at "The Ugly Mug" on Capitol Hill
  • Go to "Rhino Bar & Pumphouse"
  • Go ice skating at The Sculpture Garden Ice Rink (Nov-March)
  • Eat at "The Diner" at 2453 18th St NW
  • Go to the United States National Arboretum
  • Go to "Iron Horse Tap Room"
  • Go to Dinner or Brunch at "Poste Moderne Brasserie"
  • See Fall Foliage Along C&O Canal 
  • Go Thai Fusion at "Rice" in Logan Circle
  • Get comfort food at "Buck's Fishing and Camping"
  • Happy Hour at "Churchkey" in Logan Circle (above Birch & Barley)
  • Get "Crepes on the Walk"
  • Go to Meridian Hill Park
  • Go to Great Falls Park
  • Explore Old Town Alexandria
  • See George Washington's Mt. Vernon Estates/Gardens
  • Check out the Library of Congress
  • Visit Arlington National Cemetary for the Changing of the Gaurd
  • Go to National Gallery of Art (Especially the Sculpture Garden) 
  • Walk Montrose Park, taking a pic of "Lovers Lane"
  • Go to "Ben's Chili Bowl" for Chili
  • Get noodles/watch them get made at Chinatown Express 
  • Check out "Busboys & Poets" 
  • Go to the National Geographic Museum
  • Go see "The Big Chair" in Anacostia
  • See the view at the old post office pavilion on Pennsylvania Ave
  • Check out the bookstore Politics and Prose in Van Ness
  • Go on a Washington Walk Tour- particularly "Memorials by Moonlight"
  • Go to Monday night showtunes sing-a-long at "JR's Bar and Grill"
  • Go to "H St Country Club" for old school gaming 
  • Go to "Remingtons" for Monday/Wednesday $5 Dance Lessons and Fridays see the "DC Cowboys" dance
  • Go to the Holocaust Museum
  • Go horseback riding at Rock Creek Park
  • Go to the Bureau of engraving and printing to see money made
  • Go on the Gargoyle Tour of the Washington National Cathedral (Darth Vadar Gargoyle!) 
  • Go to the National Museum of American History (Especially Pop Culture) 
  • Go to the Willard Intercontinental Hotel Lobby for a taste of history
  • Move to dinner beats at the "Mahogany Restaurant/Bohemian Caverns"
  • Visit "Old Stone House", built in 1765, open Wed-Sun 10-4
  • See the Cherry Blossom Parade/festival (April) 
  • Go to the DC Caribbean Carnival (June)
  • Try "Terrapin Adventures
  • East Coast Trips/Day Trips to Take!
    • Take the train to New York for a weekend
    • Go to Gettysburg
    • Go to Valey Forge
    • Go to Shenandoah
    • Go to Baltimore, MD
    • Go to Dover, DE
    • Go to Harrisburg, PA
    • Go to Philidelphia, PA
    • Go to Portsmouth, VA
    • Go to Virginia Beach, VA
    • Go to Pittsburgh, PA
    • Go to Assateague (& see the wild horses)
    • Go to Bethesda, MD (Second Story Books/On Saturdays from 7-3 @ 7155 Wisconsin Ave there's a market) 
  • Go to "Landeni Brothers" in Alexandria on King St
  • Get Tea at the Park Hyatt Tea Cellar
  • Go to Georgia Browns for Charleston Cooking  (BEST BRUNCH IN THE CITY!)
  • Attend the Marine Core Sunset Parade
  • Check out the "Tabard Inn"
  • Go to "Mazza 14"
  • Go to the "Occidental" 
  • Get a drink at the POV of the W Hotel  
  • Go to the original FDR Memorial (Penn & 9th St, "Just a Desk")
  • Check out "Red Line" 

                                                                                                                                Wednesday, February 15, 2012

                                                                                                                                Hey, you! What Should I do/see/experience in DC?

                                                                                                                                So, I am looking for DC suggestions. 

                                                                                                                                There was that mention in a recent post that I am trying to get to know DC and.... well, I am trying to get to know DC. I have signed up for random classes and events, I stroll throughout the downtown on my lunch breaks, I am trying to eat somewhere new every time I eat out. Got a DC must? Send it to me. I have officially of added this nifty new section to my blog that you can see is aptly titled "DC Bucket List" where I will document the musts in town and my experience there.

                                                                                                                                This city is electric. It's constant motion, energy, and through all that, steeped in the slow paces of history. I hope I get a good taste of it before my adventures pull me to another city so, in the meantime, you guys need to help me make the most of it!

                                                                                                                                Virginia in the fall...

                                                                                                                                DC and Virginia  are beautiful in the fall.... my friends and I went pumpkin picking and on a few road trips. We went to this place called Clarke Farm and made a go of the drive and lovely fall day....

                                                                                                                                Clarke Farm - Pumpkins, hayrides and fall decorations
                                                                                                                                3833 Bruce Road, Chesapeake, VA 23321. Phone: (757) 484-6000; FAX (757) 484-7329. E-mail:
                                                                                                                        Directions: Take I-64 to I-664, take exit 10 (Pughsville Road) and go east. Turn right on Taylor Road. Go to next light, take a left on Bruce Road. Go to second light (intersection of Tyre Neck & Bruce Roads), turn right and an immediate left. At the end of the road, ½ mile on the right. Open: 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Saturday, April until December. Hayrides to the pumpkin patch in October for individuals and school groups. Call for times and prices. (Blurb from PumpkinPatchesAndMore)

                                                                                                                                This entire day trip was one of my favorite things of the fall season. I recommend going to a pumpkin farm such as Clarke when the leaves are turning and the skies are blue.

                                                                                                                                The Obvious...

                                                                                                                                When one gets to DC for the first time, there are certain things one must do. 

                                                                                                                                These are those things.

                                                                                                                                Monuments, culture, history. Those famous post card moments need to be captured, witnessed, and lived in. I moved here, to DC, without ever having been here before. These pics are from my move in weekend. 

                                                                                                                                Many tourist moments were had. DC has many more I'd like to try as well :)