SPAIN Travel Diary

Fourth and final in the Europe Travel Diary series is beautiful BARCELONA! It was the last stop on our magical Mediterranean adventure and I am so excited to share a more of this beautiful, vibrant city with you.

DOWNTOWN

The city center/downtown area of Barcelona is sprawling and full of things to do (and by things to do I mean places to shop). It’s such a fun area with a really cool vibe. It’s pretty easy to walk around (but be prepared to walk a lot!) and the public transportation, especially the bus system is pretty easy to navigate as well. We figured out how to use the bus the second half of the trip and it was so convenient to get around to all the places we were wanting to visit. We kept on finding little side streets to walk down which took us to little hidden gems of the city. A bunch of the cool restaurants we found were placed we stumbled upon while walking around. I also LOVE European stores, they’re just the best. I found so many cute tops, bikinis and little pieces of jewelry (and makeup!) at all the stores. The Gothic Quarter is a really fun area to spend a chill afternoon shopping and grabbing some yum food. Honestly, I could have just spent the whole time walking around the cute little side-streets, but there’s so much more to this crazy city!

MONTJUIC

One of the places we visited that I loved was Montjuic, an iconic hill with multiple monuments up top. It’s absolutely gorgeous and castle-like as it overlooks the Mediterranean. There have been a lot of archaeological discoveries there in the last few years which gives it a really cool medieval vibe while still being really natural and green (with a stunning view of the ocean). From the top you also have a cool birds eye view of the city center which seems so distant even thought it’s only about 20 minutes from the city. It was just a beautifully serene place to spend a few hours in the morning. There’s a mall right across from the bottom of the hill that has some great restaurants (we ate at Enrique Tomas and it was incredible) to grab a bite to eat at.

SAGRADA FAMILIA

When in Barcelona… Of course we had to spend a few hours at the iconic Sagrada Familia. There’s something so special about a building that has been worked on for decades and decades and will be worked on for decades to come. Even though it’s not technically fully built, it’s still incredibly beautiful. Since it’s so crowded, we made sure to book our tickets online to avoid long lines (but we still had to wait in a 10 minute line). But the lines and waiting in the heat was all worth it. Once you get inside you are hit by the sun shining through the multi colored stained glass windows. They line the walls all the way up to the ceiling creating an ominous yet beautiful glow inside. We spent almost an hour just in awe of the beauty and spent a few minutes in the silent prayer area, such a special moment. We went at 4pm, which was perfect because the sun was beginning to set by 5 creating the most amazing golden hour you’ve ever seen. It is by far one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever experienced in my life. [Sidenote- if you do go, please dress respectfully, cover your shoulders and avoid exposing too much of your legs since it is a place of religious practice.]

LA BOQUERIA

The place I was most excited to visit (haha of course) while in Barcelona was Mercado de la Boqueria. The famous public market full of fruit, vegetable, seafood, nuts, spices and everything else vendors and loaded with fun little bars to grab a bite to eat at. I’m not going to lie, we visited the market three times during our stay which I have no regrets about. Each time we got lost in the chaos walking around for hours in awe of all the fresh produce and fun food items they had. I would stop from time to time to get a box of calamari, a cup of fresh cherries to nibble on or to try some cheeses and meats. The third time we went, we decided we would bite the bullet and line up (for 40 minutes!) at one of the tapas bars for lunch. While I was a little antsy waiting for that long, we finally got a few seats at the bar counter and got our food ordered. Calamari, fried peppers, croquettes and sangria were a few of the things on the menu for the day. Our food came out pretty quickly and I don’t think I can say this enough, it was DELICIOUS. And the calamari was hands down the best calamari I’d ever had in my life. And I love me some good fried squid. It was so fresh and crunch but not oily at all with very light seasoning and the best aioli ever. SO GOOD. It was such a fun lunch, followed by another hour of walking around the stalls, chatting with some of the owners and making a few purchases. Hands down a must visit place in Barcelona.

PARK GUELL

One of the last places we visited on our trip was Park Guell, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces. This was the place I had seen the most photos of (gotta get that perfect Insta) so I was so excited to be able to see it in person. We made our bookings for 5pm which was a gorgeous time to go. It wasn’t too hot, but the sun still kept the sky lit and lay a beautiful blanket of light over all the architecture. The first part of the park was the iconic colorful, mosaic tile-work. With the city and the deep blue sky behind it, the colors stood out and contrasted so beautifully. We spent some time at the first part taking photos and taking in all the beauty before starting to walk down the path to the bottom of Park Guell. Towards the exit, there are two more Gaudi buildings that are filled with rooms and gift stores that you can walk into and take the stairs up to the top. There was a cool Disneyland-ish vibe about the park (and I’m saying that in the best way possible) that made me feel like a happy little kid. Gaudi’s structures and designs are so distinct and simply stunning to look at.

FOOD

And how can I not include a whole section on food in this post. My family’s been really into Spanish food and tapas this year so we were so excited to get to spend time eating our way through Barcelona. Thinking back on it all, there really wasn’t a meal that wasn’t anything less than amazing. None of the meals were blah or even just okay, they were all great. One thing I fell in love with was pan con tomate, basically the Spanish version of garlic bread served with almost every meal. I also am such a grilled octopus girl and had a decade’s worth of good octopus this trip. They were all so tender and fresh with the best seasoning. A lot of meats and cheeses were also eaten during this trip, which I will never complain about. We also ended up buying TONS of meat to bring home which we are slowly savoring. We also found a few tapas places and just tried a bunch of things during those meals like patatas bravas, chorizo, tortilla and so many other yummy things. On our last day, we also stumbled across the cutest little store called Le Cava Cakery which did cava (Spanish champagne) and cupcake pairings while I of course had to pop into. We did cava and rose cava pairings with salted caramel, raspberry and dulce de lece cupcakes and I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as I was in that moment (anyone who knows me knows that bubbly and cupcakes are the most me thing ever). And to finish off my food bucket list, we stopped for some churros and chocolate at a cute little street side cafe, with a perfect view of the Sagrada Familia, and I will never look at churros the same again (infinite amount of heart eyes). The food in Barcelona was just so good and I feel very lucky to have gotten to spend time eating around the city.

So that’s all for this Europe series! My incredible trip of a lifetime around the Mediterranean; Greece, Montenegro, Italy and Spain. I do want to end this post by saying how grateful I am for the life I live. I never take for granted all that my life has allowed me to do, and I never want anyone to think that I’m not grateful, because I am. I’ve spent so much time thinking about how my life has been the last 20 years, and I am truly the luckiest girl in the world. Whatever else happens in my life, no matter how dark the days, I have to remember that I am blessed. Traveling the world has truly changed my life and I’ve found so much pure joy, passion and love in exploring all these amazing corners of the world. And with that, thank you for following along on this adventure, I’m so glad I got to share it with you.

Lots of love, Aime xx

 

 

 

 

LOS ANGELES Mood Board

Hello beautiful friends! Hope you’re having a lovely start to the week so far. As I’m coming up on my two year anniversary of living in LA, I’ve been reminiscing a lot and going through tons of photos and memories of all the things I’ve done and experienced over the last couple of years. I thought it would be fun to put together a little mood board of all the things that have capture my heart about this city. As much as I miss home, I’m growing to fall more and more in love with LA every single day, and I’m sure that love will only continue to grow in the coming years.

 

Food Adventures #13- Food Hopping in LA

Food Adventures #12- Traveling Tokyo

A little late (actually a lot late), but finally some new Tokyo #foodinspo to brighten up your day!

12 Days of Christmas|Day 12- The Perfect Christmas |2018

So here we are, Merry Christmas! Can’t believe how fast December has gone, actually can’t believe how fast the year has gone. It’s the last day of 12 Days and I couldn’t think of a better way to end it than to share with you all how to have the perfect Christmas. And when I say perfect, I really mean imperfect because I believe perfection lies in the imperfections of everyday. I’ve put together all my recipes, tips and tricks to having the most magical day ever.

The Perfect Christmas Morning:

You know that quote, “I’m only a morning person on Christmas”, well that could not be more accurate. Ever since my sister and I were tiny humans, we would run into each others rooms early on Christmas morning and then run downstairs to see what Santa had left us in our stockings. Our excitement would eventually wake our parents and grandparents up and we would sit around the living room by the tree opening our stockings. After that, we all head into the kitchen to make our Christmas breakfast, pancakes, fruit, hot chocolate and egg nog. Once the dishes have been cleared and washed, we’ll go back to the tree and open all of our presents while sipping on more egg nog and listening to Christmas music. It’s always the most chill, relaxed but exciting morning of the year.

Christmas Traditions:

Each family always has their own Christmas traditions, and I think that carrying those for generations hold so much meaning. But I also think that coming up with new traditions to pass on to your kids and grandkids are so special. Every year for Christmas my grandma made her special ‘holiday nugget’ cookies (our family recipe), and as I got older I began to carry on that tradition as well. My family has all the little things we do on Christmas that we’ve pretty much done my whole life, and carrying on those traditions no matter where we are always makes the day extra special. Traditions are rooted in family, remember to be thankful to have been blessed with your family, Christmas is rooted in family.

Fun Things To Do On Christmas Day:

  1. Play a big board game with your family
  2. Watch a Christmas movie (Santa Clause and Love Actually are always SO GOOD on Christmas day) and cuddle up with Christmas cookies and peppermint hot chocolate
  3. Play with all your new presents. I know this sounds like something kids do, but I promise everyone wants to sit there and try/check out all their new goodies
  4. Go look at all the Christmas lights and decorations around your neighborhood (or wherever you are)
  5. Shop!! I know this sounds crazy, but post-Christmas sales are the real deal
  6. Cook dinner…and try out a new recipe while you’re at it (festive recipes down below:)
  7. Festive crafts and DIYS- make paper snowflakes, homemade ornaments or DIY decorations… and you’ll be getting a start for next year
  8. Build a gingerbread house, bake some Christmas cookies, get your sweet tooth ready
  9. Lounge around all day in your Christmas PJs or ugly Christmas sweaters… you deserve it!

Festive Recipes:

The Perfect Cheese Platter: 

Is there any other way to start a Christmas meal than with an over-the-top cheese platter?! To start off, grab a large board. Pick out 3-4 cheese of your choosing. My motto when it comes to cheese is the stinkier the better, but to each their own. Get different kinds of crackers or slices of a baguette and lay out on the board. Now arrange the blocks of cheese in the center. Fill up the open spaces with slices of fruit, bunches of grapes, jams or honeys and nuts. Always have a sweet and salty element on your board. And of course… serve with wine:)

Tapas Varieties:

One thing my family has started doing over the past few years is different kinds of tapas during festive meals. Tapas is the Spanish word for small plate/appetizer. Usually, we do these on slices of baguette or simply on crackers. Our go-to is a thin slice of baguette, garlic yoghurt, caramelized onions, grilled red peppers, prosciutto, a slice of camembert with sugar and bruleed with a blow torch (absolutely to die for). Others we have done are a slice of chorizo with asparagus and aioli, crab salad with avocado and caviar, as well as prosciutto, blue cheese, pear, honey and black pepper. These are so easy to make ahead of time and in bulk and are always the first to go at any dinner or gathering.

Grilled Garlic Prawns:

Ingredients:

Large/tiger prawns

6 cloves garlic

Flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Carefully split the prawns in half, you can leave the head on or you can remove it and use it to make a prawn head oil.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and any other desired herbs.
  3. In a large pan, heat butter and garlic on high heat until butter bubbles. Put prawns in the hot pan (meat side down). Cook 2 minutes, flip, and cook another two minutes.
  4. Serve hot with fresh parsley to garnish.

Roasts:

Roasts are always the perfect center piece for a festive meal. Whether it’s turkey, chicken, pork belly or ribs, theres always a way to make it a little more Christmassy. Try spices like clove, all-spice, ginger, star anise, nutmeg and cinnamon as your dry rub. If you have access to it, using fresh spices (like whole cinnamon sticks) can do wonders. Adding a little bit of sweetness using oranges or cranberries is another way to amp up your roast.

Easiest-Ever Tiramisu:

One of the desserts I made this year was a tiramisu. I always thought that it was a technical and difficult dessert to make, but it couldn’t be easier. This boozy, creamy dessert will be a hit!

Ingredients:

Lady fingers or pound cake

1 1/2 cups strong coffee

1/3 cup Kahlua (coffee liquer)

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup marscapone

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Cocoa powder, for dusting

Directions:

  1. Start by whipping the cream with the powdered sugar and a dash of vanilla essence. Once soft peaks are formed, fold in the marscapone. Set aside.
  2. Mix coffee and Kahlua in a shallow tin. If you’re using pound cake, cut into strips the size of your container.
  3. To assemble: Start with a thin layer of the cream at the bottom of a clear class container.
  4. Dip your cake or lady fingers in the coffee mixture and form one layer.
  5. Add cream on top and spread evenly. Repeat this process until you’re done.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours or over night. Before serving, dust with cocoa powder.

Brandy Snap Canoli (A take on Jamie Oliver’s recipe):

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup Hennessy (brandy)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup marscapone

1/4 cup dark chocolate

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup candied nuts (pecans or walnuts work best)

Orange, to zest

Directions:

  1. To make the shells of the canoli, bring the brown sugar, butter and syrup to boil in a pan (until it becomes a silky caramel).
  2. Pour the caramel into a mixture of flour and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add brandy and mix it in.
  3. Scoop spoon full of the mixture onto a baking sheet (with lot’s of space in between) and bake at 375 degrees for 7 1/2 minutes.
  4. Once baked, leaved to cool for exactly 90 seconds, then shape around a wooden spoon or rolling pin until set.
  5. Set the shells aside until ready to fill and eat.
  6. For the filling, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Then add marscapone and gently fold in.
  7. Add chopped chocolate, cranberries and nuts to the mixture and grate in half of the orange zest. Gently mixed.
  8. Right before eating, put the filling in a piping bag and fill the shells.
  9. Serve topped with powdered sugar and orange zest.

And with that I’m signing off for 2018. Thank you for an amazing year, can’t wait to see all the next has to offer.

Happy new year and I’ll see you in 2019!! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 9- Cozy Winter Recipes |2018

Hi everyone and happy day 9! I can’t believe we’re only a week out from Christmas, it’s going by so fast. I hope you’re all enjoying (or looking forward to enjoying) the holiday season with all of your loved ones. Today’s post is going to be two of my favorite cozy recipes for a cold winter evening. First is going to be an updated version of my smoky-ranch meatballs, and second will be my fresh pappardelle pasta with meat sauce. Hope you enjoy these and see you for day 10!

Smokey-Ranch Meatballs:

Ingredients:

Minced beef and pork mix

1 or 2 (depending on amount of meat) packet of ranch seasoning

3 tablespoons liquid smoke

2 tablespoons hot sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Good squeeze of ketchup

1/4 cup of spring onions, chopped

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 egg

1 jar tomato sauce

Basil and other desired spices.

1/4 cup mozzarella cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Form meat into balls, about 2 tablespoons per meatball, and set aside.
  2. In a pot, heat up the tomato sauce over medium heat and mix with spices.
  3. Get another pan and heat it up with olive oil on high heat. When hot, begin cooking meatballs. Cook until browned, then set aside.
  4. Put meatballs into the pot of tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Right before serving, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and cover to melt.
  6. Serve hot.

 

Fresh Beetroot Pappardelle with Meat Sauce:

Ingredients:

For the pasta-

3 cups all-purpose flour

3 eggs

1 beetroot

For the sauce-

1 pack of minced beef

3/4 jar of tomato sauce

2 zucchinis, chopped

1 onion, chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Basil, chopped

Chilli powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Pecorino cheese

 

Directions:

For the pasta-

  1. Chop the beetroot and put it in a small pan over high heat with a little bit of olive oil and water. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pour out liquid into a small bowl and set aside. Use muslin cloth or an old dish towel to squeeze all the liquid (and coloring) out of the beets.
  3. While cooking the beets, put the flour in a large bowl and form a small well in the middle. Crack the eggs into the middle and begin to knead the dough while slowly adding the beed juice. Knead for about 5 minutes.
  4. Once well knead, flour well and pass through a pasta machine (roll it out as thin as it will go).
  5. It’s meant to be a rustic pappardelle, so hand-cut it as thick or thin as you want.
  6. When ready to cook, cook in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.

For the sauce-

  1. Start by sautéing the meat, onions, zucchini and garlic with a little bit of olive oil.
  2. Once cooked, add the tomato sauce and half of the basil (and any other desired herbs and spices) and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Once pasta is cooked slowly fold it into the sauce.
  4. Serve hot and topped with fresh basil and pecorino cheese.

Happy cooking! xx

12 Days of Christmas|Day 8- The Ultimate Christmas Cocktail|2018

Happy Saturday lovelies!! I’m sitting here writing this from Tokyo, back with my family to celebrate the holidays. Since I’m now back home, I tried making a new Christmassy cocktail last night that I’ve been dying to try for a while. So for day 8 I thought I’d share the recipe with you all. I’ll link the recipe I used for inspo down below as well.

Ingredients:

1 cup silver Jose Cuervo (or any other silver tequila)

2/3 cup Malibu (coconut rum)

1/3 cup Cointreau

1 cup lime juice

1 cup+ coconut water

1/2 cup canned coconut milk

Mint leaves

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients well in a large punch bowl or pitcher with lots of large ice cubes.

Add extra coconut water or lime juice if it’s too strong.

Right before serving, add some sprigs of mint leaves.

Serve chilled with adorable Christmas glasses (the one’s in the photo are from Target).

 

https://www.howsweeteats.com/2015/12/white-christmas-margarita-punch/

Cheers!!