Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Titanic Party

Key elements of the party that made it a success despite its original plan of being outside.

1.) beautiful and socially-inclided guests
2.) Era wardrobes - gloves, hats, dresses, pearls
3.) music from the movie and decade
4.) Food offerings were based off of a menu from the ship
5.) charming baby's breath, candles, jars and lace on the table
6.) plenty o' wine (this should probably be rated #1 or #2)
7.) Friday night rather than the usual work night

This picture from the party brings me immense happiness.

Friday, March 30, 2012

slight revision of focus...

I originally thought this blog was only for traveling purposes, but I've realized everyday is an adventure to be celebrated and recorded. Today's food for thought: small intimate gatherings in public places. take ownership of these spaces with creative and simple dinners/events. website for inspiration: Kinfolk: http://vimeo.com/33173768 (watch video!!!)

upcoming: spring Titanic-themed potluck in the front lawn of our apartment building - by candlelight, of course.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ingredientes Nuevos

So, I'm going to start this blog off with a website that I highly recommend if you are interested in international food. It offers background information and recipes for each country. It is quite simple and to the point- probably why I enjoy it so much: http://www.foodbycountry.com/

I'm not gonig to lie - this is my second time creating this post for today. The last one just up and disappeared (lets not mention that the operator is quite technically-challenged). It was well-written and ready to post. Here I am pissy and trying to write it again.

Food. Yep, another blog about food. I'm sure you've noticed the trend. Imagine being Sondra, it's all she hears about.

Rather than writing about consumption and taste as I usually do - this is about purchasing and how my views/practices have changed from "living abroad" (I envision a nose up in the air when that phrase is said).

Bottom line: I love grocery shopping.

Having a mother who loathes grocery shopping only fed into my passion for strolling and exploring the grocery stores for what would seem like eons to others. Europeans insist on fresh ingredients and do not use as many preservative ingredients as the U.S....so, I'm in heaven.

Three new grocery practices I will put into place when I return home:

1.) going more often and purchasing more fresh items that will in return require more grocery visits (clever pattern, eh?)

2.) walking, if possible (which it will be in Indy) to the store/market

3.) bringing my own bags to shop - should have ben doing this already

Sondra and I have both formed new views on ingredients - we are exploring and experimenting as much as possible. Yesterday, we hopped on an early Saturday morning train to Ponte Tresa, Italy's market. We both enjoyed roaming the stalls and sampling olives, cheeses, meats, etc.

Unique purchases for the day:

-mystery eggplant/zucchini vegetable - no idea what it is called

-zucchini flowers (shown in picture) I did a little research and it appears that frying them is the most popular way to prepare these beauties (pictured)

I can't wait to return home and visit the grocery with my new views. Love to all and wish me luck with the flowers. According to the reviews, they're all the rave...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ein Prosit!!

Ein Prosit- a form of cheers in German/Bavarian song.

Wow, what an amazing weekend we had in Bavaria, specifically Munich.

The adventure started with a car ride up to Fussen, Germany where we stayed with
our grandparents in a hotel at the bottom Neuschwanstein's Castle. From our porch window you could see the castle all lit up, quite dreamy. That night for dinner we enjoyed some traditional German fare - bread dumpling, raisin pancakes with applesauce, sauerkraut, and pork roast (all of which have much cooler German names that I a.) can't remember or b.) can't spell).

After saying "farewell" to Grandma and Grandpa on Saturday morning, Sondra and I boarded a 2 hour train to Munich. Our goal was to make it in time for the 200th Oktoberfest opening parade. Out of pure luck, not only did we make it in time but we also stumbled upon it after walking less than 5 minutes out of the train station. Seeing the Bavarians decked-out in their traditional costumes (lederhosen-female and dirndl-male) made me really wish the U.S. had more festivals that celebrated our culture in a fashion that EVERYONE participates, gets dressed up, and comes together for a common purpose. The Bavarian clothing was seen on infants all the way up to the elderly. Everyone was a part of the festivities.

A second lucky aspect of our adventure was getting into a beer tent! The fact that it was a Saturday, the first day of Oktoberfest, and the 200th anniversary made this feat seem almost impossible. But, only after twenty minutes of waiting Weezer and I entered our beer tent. For me, it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Not because I'm some crazy beer lover (although I will add that this beer puts Coors and other mainstream American beers to shame), but because of the decorations, size, and number of people congregated. (Video shown is from our first beer tent of three that we visited during the weekend)

Aside from the Oktoberfest activities - we were very fortunate to stay with my friend Kiersie from Huntington University and her fiance, Andi who lives outside of Munich. This was one of the best, if not the best, experiences Sondra and I have had so far on this trip. It was great to stay with the locals (Kiersie, I'm going to call you a "local" now:) and learn firsthand how they live. Kiersie and Andi were extremely hospitable. For breakfast they made us a traditional Bavarian breakfast - wiesswurst, also known as "white sausage" for apparent reasons, pretzels (brezel), beer for Andi, and a special hot chocolate, oh yes, and mustard of course! I fell in love with weisswurst! I loved it so much that when we returned to Lugano, I went straight to the grocery and found a small package (not as large and inexpensive as in Germany, but I'm just glad I found some). I can't wait to find some in Indianapolis to share with friends and family.

Next blog: Venice (from two weeks ago & Florence/Pisa = this weekend's trip)
Next, next blog: Brittany is expanding her computer capabilities - this is monumental if you know me and my computer skills or lack thereof. I swear I was born in the '50s.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

20 countries in 20 months....and Poland

I have this goal...

it's a mixture between embarressing and a reminder of how fortunate I am.

My goal is to have visited 20 countries in 20 months.
Through Semester at Sea (last summer) I was able to visit the following countries:
1. Canada (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
2. Spain
3. Italy
5. Greece
6. Turkey
7. Bulgaria
8. Egypt
9. Morocco
A Christmas family cruise added countries #10-12 to the list:
10. Mexico
11. Belize
12. Guatemala
And now Sondra and I are closing in on the remainder of the last 8 countries.

So far, we have been able to visit:
13. Ireland
14. England
15. Belguim
16. France
17. Switzerland

This goal is so interesting to me because when I was in middle school all I ever dreamt about was visiting Italy to see where my family was from. I never even imagined that I would be so blessed to see so many amazing places and especially in such a short amount of time. I could relive Joanna and I's Semester at Sea summer a thousand times and it would never get old. And now, Sondra and I are trying to create our own memories by living together in Switzerland.

I might be getting into this blog thing too much, but I found a quote that made me think of how these amazing adventures have changed my life: "Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living." --Miriam Beard


One of the main reasons Franklin College Switzerland stood out to me was its Academic Travel element that requires students to participate in a two-week educational trip half way through the semester. After having an amazing experience on a mission trip to Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, I couldn't resist Franklin's service trip to Poland. For two weeks we will be volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and fitting in a few day trips to nearby sites such as the city of Krakow and WWII's largest concentration/death camp, Auschwitz. I'm pretty nervous about the visit to Auschwitz. I know it will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the history up close, but it's going to be pretty rough.

On a food-related note, the Poles love soup just as much as I do. Borscht, a beet soup, is very popular in Poland. The Ukranians, Russians, and Poles argue over its origins. For me, it originated in Sharmin Brenneman's kitchen. She shared this beautiful soup with me in 8th grade and ever since it has been one of my favorites. Zurek is another popular soup in Poland - it is described as a "sour rye soup with potatoe, sausage, or an egg, sometimes served in a bread loaf." (the whole hard boiled egg in soup thing throws me off - they did it once with my gazpacho in Spain - don't get me wrong, I love a good hard boiled egg, just not in my soup).

Fun fact: Poles like put ketchup on their pizzas instead of pizza sauce...I might have to check this out.

Today's highlights:

Sondra and I slept in until 9 a.m. this morning, I know, I know, we're pretty wild. We went out with some locals/students last night to this really authentic Swiss restaurant up in the mountains. It was a great experience. The meal started off with cheeses, pickled vegetables, wine, bread and cheeses (also a mustard that I'm going to have to find and bring home with me). These dishes were followed by polenta which is a corn meal-based dish served much like a pasta (think of fried mush only soft like mashed potatoes). The polenta was served with veal which is a typical Swiss meat dish.

This morning we went in to town and stumbled upon a charming antique market. We finally were able to find some souvineers we could afford. We stopped by a tea room and grabbed ourselves some brunch (black forest cake with chocolate shavings and a mozzarella pomodoro sandwhich) and ate it on a bench (it's cheaper if you take your food to go rather than sit at the restaurant's tables). From there we paid a visit to H & M and Migros, the local grocer. The highlight of our grocery visit was discovering the bulk produce in which we could afford to buy massive amount of kiwis, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, etc...it looks like we're feeding a family of ten with these bags of produce. Our afternoon consisted of some homework and then a lovely dinner with our new friend, Amy. Amy contributed a local Ticino wine to the meal and we made a delicious tomatoes soup recipe by Jamie Oliver (pappa al pomodoro). We also had a salad, breaded zucchini with shaved parmesean and a cherry chocolate bread pudding shaped like a horse that I made without a recipe (I'm just a little proud of this). Overall, it was a great day. I'm really enjoying our visits to town and the sense of "settled in" that time has brought.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Swiss Sustainability

Needless to say, the Swiss kick our asses at going green. They have one of the lowest carbon footprints for a country and recycling isn't suggested, it's a law. How can they make it a law? (I'm assuming this is your question) There are people whose job is to randomly trash dig- they will search for materials that tie the trash back to you. But, in all reality, the Swiss as a general population are committed to recycling and it doesn't need to be forced. One of the features of this lifestyle that I really appreciate is the special attention they give to using local products (produce, etc.) and specifically Swiss-made goods. For such a small country they seem to be able to make many of their products within their own boundaries.

The problem I am seeing with their recycling law, as an American, is that their system is quite inconvenient. To recycle our glass and plastic, we have to load them up in bags and hike them into town (literally hike- I could use some serious boots for this trot). As for cardboard and paper, they are collected on certain days of the week. I don't want to come off as anti-recycling, but I just don't see a system like this working in the states. Being the mass consumers that we are, we'd have bottles and glasses piled up in our houses till the next time we hike into town. Maybe I would see it differently if I had a car here, but I think I've just been spoiled with the U.S.'s at-your-door recycling services.

On an additionaly sustainability note, I am in the process of joining Franklin College Switzerland's gardening club. I visited the garden...it could use some love. Looking forward to the challenge.

Not-so-fun fact: The U.S. goes through 2 1/2 years worth of available resources in one year. 2 weeks ago, we surpassed the resources available to us and now we are continuing the year on resources' of future generations.

Reminder: Going Local Week is September 5 -11! Okay, I'll step down off my soap box now.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Shredded cheese for our Swiss Mac n' Cheese
Cibo = Food in Italian

...and boy, do I love food.

I am going to dedicate this entry to the food of southern Switzerland, specifically the region of Ticino, which is where Lugano is located. Before I came on this trip, I researched the native food of every country we were going to visit and packaged all of this information into a folder. Sadly, this folder was abandoned somewhere in London.

Needless to say, I am starting my food adventure from scraps. Other than the popular Swiss cheeses and chocolates, I have learned that fondue is a cultural staple around here (I must have missed this somewhere in my research, but it makes sense). The fondue of the Alps and the fondue of the U.S. are quite different. Don't imagine the extremely cheesy concoctions we have. The fondue here, in my opinion, tasted more like 80% wine and 20% cheese. Sadly, I wasn't a fan. But, I'm going to give it another whirl this Friday night when Sondra and I join a local student I met to a restaurant that is off the beaten path and serves up traditional Swiss cuisine.

Tocino's region is sometimes referred to as Switaly. This term is very representative of the restaurants and food that is available here - a half and half mixture of Swiss meats and cheeses and Italian pastas and polenta...and gelato! Polenta is a very popular dish in Ticino. It is also on our grocery list for next week. I am quite familiar with Fried Mush, a form of polenta, but I have never prepared it any other way (salty, etc.).

It is very expensive to live in Switzerland. We are learning how to really stretch our budget and menu as long as we can. However, I am trying to make sure we don't eat spaghetti every day and are able to sample local favorites (dishes, veggies, fruits, etc.) With this week's grocery visit we brought home a fresh fig, two types of cheeses, and sausages (the only meat we can afford- I looked at Sondra and said, "pick out your one meat for the week").

I am looking forward to seeing what food Poland, Germany, and Austria have in store for us in the upcoming months.

Side note: There is an amazing international food conference through SlowFood in Torino, Italy in October that I am trying to weasel my way into. It's only 3 hours from here and I would realllly like to go the workshops. Wish me luck!