“I am tired of acquiring wisdom. Somebody buy me a drink and a whoopee cushion.” -Cornelius Talbot

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I was recently reminded by my special someone that just because my extravagant travel plans were put in the back burner for school, that doesn’t mean my traveling and food explorations has to stop all together. Since starting school, I’ve felt like I had to be so submerged in my studies that I was starting to lose the chef side of me.  But now that the most worst of it is (hopefully) behind me, you will be hearing from me again on a regular basis with all of my travels and food adventures! Even if they are just my own experiments in my tiny apartment kitchen.  Based on the humidity level of Florida, bread will be a main focus of mine.  Not to mention, I absolutely love bread.

The exciting part about starting school is getting to explore another state! Florida has influences from so many different places, so no matter where I explore within driving distance, it’s all drastically different from anything I’ve ever experienced before.  The bad part is having to leave my loved ones behind. But it is such a blast to explore Florida when they come to visit! Or meeting my special someone halfway for the weekend and getting to explore somewhere totally different! Let me tell ya, when two foodies come together, we devour the town!

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Strangers beomce Family, and a family who travels together, stays together.

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*******This is an old post that I just found saved.  Reading through it just makes me miss traveling and all of my group so much.  I also can say that I feel exactly the same now as I did when I wrote this.  We may not have the same communication we did before, but we are still in contact and it’s been so amazing to watch the group expand and grow their lives.  The memories I made traveling Europe will stay with me, and have shaped me into the person I am today.  I will be back, it just might be a little bit longer.*************

 

Remember when we were in elementary school, and at the start of every year we would stand up and say all the fun things we did over the summer? Usually something like, I went to basketball camp, or a family vacation to see family. Nothing ever as exciting as what we usually end up doing now that we are graduated and start traveling with your friends, or in my case, with thirty-eight strangers to Europe. EF College break is the company I used, who matched me with other college age kids who want to explore the world like I do. Flights, hostels, travel between countries, all taken care of, so all I had to do was pack as little as I possibly could for thirty days, and get on the airplane. It was fantastic!

In all honesty, not going with anyone I knew before hand was terrifying, but worth every ounce of fear. After thirty days in very close quarters, you become a true family. This comradery that is formed started from day one, while everyone is still starting to figure each other out, but of course we are all thrown in with embarrassing games to get to know each other better, as well as reminders that we are all human.

For the thirty-eight people, there were 10 guys, including the tour guide; all the rest were girls. That’s a lot of estrogen, and potential for PMS battles if you ask me, but somehow, we all made it through without any moment of girl fights. Any arguments that occurred were quickly talked through and resolved, ending up with everyone closer than ever. How did I get so lucky? We also found out very quickly that each guy was very protective of us when we needed it, or just hung close by just in case. It didn’t take long to see that these were some of the most reliable guys I had ever met, and would come out of no where to save any of us from annoying drunk guys, or any other situation we may need extra help in.

The last night in Europe was one of the most sad nights I have ever experienced. You don’t expect to make some of the best friends you could possibly ask for when traveling Europe. When you talk to others who have done tours similar to this, they talk about how they keep in contact with two or three maybe, but never the whole group. I have been home for over two months and the group message that we started on day one of the trip is still in affect. Every day, we all communicate. Planning new trips together, or to see others; any exciting news we want to share with each other. We are still a family. A family that stretches all across America. It is a true expression of love, and showing that love has no boundaries, no distance and once that bond is formed, never ending.

Savannah, GA! AKA halfway between me and my special someone

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Savannah is only one of many places we will be exploring between Florida and North Carolina (and I am always willing for suggestions from those more experienced with travel around there!), but this weekend trip could not have been more perfect.  Especially because it turned into a weekend of celebrating being officially done with Part 1 of Boards and PASSING!  So to celebrate, we took a food tour!  Three glorious hours in the midday, burning sun, walking around downtown Savannah, eating amazing food at local restaurants.  Restaurants that are very off the normal tourist trek, and known for utilizing local ingredients to express the classic Savannah taste.

First stop, and so fitting for my special someone, Smith Bros Butcher Shop! This was the meeting location for the tour group, and our first tasting of the day.  We had a few minutes to walk around the store, which overall was a really great little local grocery store with it’s main focus being the butcher counter.  Local snacks, dips, drinks, tons of wine, and the best part, a recipe book library! I now had a full list of books that I now need, along with a future recipe library planned out in my head.

Below you will see the main course of our first tasting, sausage: Tuscan, Blueberry (my favorite) and a spicy cajun.  All pork, made in house, and absolutely fantastic.  Paired with whole grain mustard and a variety of pickled vegetables.  They also served a Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese dip with fresh made baguettes.  Now, as amazing as the sausage was, the dip was hands down my favorite.  And yes, you heard right, a beet dip.  Whether you like beets or not, this dip will knock your socks off! It is heavily seasoned with lemon and goat cheese to keep the bitterness of beets at bay. Add the light and airy, and warm baguette, I was in heaven.  This dip will be on my list to replicate.

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Cha Bella was our second stop on the tour.  Famous for their constantly changing menu, based on ingredients and inspiration found daily at local farmers markets, as well as their own garden and herb garden (featured picture).  This caprese salad tasting looks simple, and was bursting wiIMG_5004-1th flavor.  Local tomatoes with a flavor profile on par with the tomatoes I had in Italy, (yes, a tomato was so incredible that I remember how delicious it was three years later) a balsamic reduction and marinade mozzarella.  They marinate the mozzarella in oil and spices. This turns the cheese into a total flavor bomb, as well as completely altering the texture to become soft, easily torn apart without fraying and far less chewy than the average mozzarella.  It tasted as if they had just made it fresh in the back!  They didn’t, I asked.

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Wall’s BBQ, such the classic “hole-in-the-wall” restaurant that the average person can’t find it even with perfect directions and a GPS.  It is hidden discreetly off a sandy backstreet, a small house with one table outside and only big enough inside for about ten people, and one single sign with “Wall’s BBQ” carved into a wood sign the same color as the side of the house.  Inside, just simply a counter to order from, and next to it is the specials sign in which they use magnetic letters to identify what is available and what they have run out of by scrambling the letters around.  To go with the classic BBQ sandwich was their housemade sauce, which was a blend of the many different varieties of BBQ sauces around, with the main focus being vinegar and tomato.  A perfectly delicious and messy BBQ sandwich.

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As for any classic summer walking tour, we got caught in a nice little down pour between stops. Considering how hot it was, a little rain was warranted.  But this was a little more than anticipated, so we ducked into a close by Inn and stopped for a drink.  Can you guess which one is mine?  That’d be the Bloody Mary, extra spicy!  I was even given permission to help myself to the Sriracha if I needed more of a kick.  Their special for the day was a fruit punch, the one on the left as decked out in fruits and candies.  Also very good, but a little too sweet for my taste.

You’d think after all this food, we’d be full by now! But we are only halfway done.  And this next one is probably my second favorite of the tour.  Zunzi’s Express, where they are known for their catchy phrase, “Shtyeah.”  This is also the name of their famous sauce, which is smothered all over the chicken sandwich.  Lightly fried chicken, veggies, sauce on Italian bread, heavenly!  We went back to buy bottles of the sauces later because it was just too good!

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Bakeries, my area of expertise! And our last two stops.  Our Daily Bread Cafe (you know i’m already loving it just by the name) was first, serving a pimento cheese sandwich on a crispy croissant.  Please take a minute to fully admire the layering of the croissant.

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Making laminated dough is something I always love to do, but never without a sheeter.  I have been spoiled by working in bakeries when it comes to having heavy equipment do the work for me and cut my work time in half.  Its hard to come back from that for a dough that takes so many layerings.

Our last stop of the day was Mirabelle Suits & Cafe.  By this point, we were exhausted, full and very happy.  But not too full for dessert, waffles and Georgia Peach cobbler.  And to wash it all down, and give us the extra jolt to make it back to the hotel before going into a food coma, cold brew coffee.  The waffle was sweet and crispy, which was the perfect texture complement to the cooked peaches.

Overall, this tour was a fantastic start to our weekend in Savannah.  I loved walking all over the city, seeing parts that I may not have made it to on my own, and having a brief history tour along the way.  Plus, it is always nice to be surrounded by a group of like minded people, all enjoying food and conversing about traveling.

 

Italy, looks like Your are Next!

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I had my first art show! How incredible is that? I never expected to be able to sell my photography, much less my coasters. But thanks to my incredibly good friend who gave me the opportunity to share my artwork with the, I now can.  Last week I hosted the “Meet the Artist”, and the artist was ME! The best part about that night wasn’t selling some of my artwork, or even reliving my trip through stories that are connected to my pictures, but meeting this couple who stayed and talked with me for about an hour telling me about their trips overseas.

They lived in Europe for 6 years, traveling as often as they could.    Hearing their stories and seeing their enthusiasm about their experiences just made me want to travel even more.  One place they mention in Italy sounded like it was going to be my next destination.  When talking with them, they named quite a few different cities, so unfortunately I don’t remember the exact name, but what I do remember is the picture they showed me.  Houses with the most beautiful and vibrant colors outlining a basin of the most beautiful blue water you have ever seen.  I remember the wife telling me about there being multiple different fishing villages all lined up next to each other and the way to travel from one to the next was to take this hiking trail that overlooked each and very village.  15 minutes later, you wold be in another fishing village with more beautiful houses, deep blue waters and the most incredible culture you could imagine.

Now, I may not have the best memory to know the name of the town, but i’m pretty sure google could help me out a little.  And it did! Vernazza.  Vernazza, Italy.  The pictures brought up were the most breath taking, beautiful photos and looked just like the one she showed me.

They both said this was one of their favorite trips.  Time for more research, because I think this will be my next big trip!

Either shes

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Silence doesn’t have to be a negative thing, although I can very much relate to those mentioned above. But being in silence, releasing your thoughts and just being with yourself is one of the best ways to keep yourself from being stressed, overthinking things, etc,

Enjoy being by yourself.
Your Silence.
Your Thoughts, or lack of thoughts.
Find Yourself.

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“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

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Fatigue.  Jetlag.  Unsure as to what language to speak, or if the water served would be carbonated or not.  Why can;t I walk everywhere?  Oh, all the many troubles that come with being back in the states.

But nothing compares to the gnawing pain of the trapped feeling of being back home.  That sounds bad… It’s not, but that’s just the only way I know how to explain it.  Traveling to another country in Europe is as easy as traveling to another state here, just with a huge new culture to learn.  New language, ew attitude.  Each state, each region, is very different here too, but not like that.

The feeling is the unknown.  Not knowing when you will ever be able to travel overseas again.  No matter how excited you are to see you family, your baby (Dog baby, Dharma), your friends, best friends, you still have that want, that need, to run away back to Europe.  Find a job, just spend a month.  A week even.  No one wants the Europe Adventure to end.  Why do you think it has taken me so many months, close to a year, to write the end of my trip.  Because I couldn’t do it.  I still can’t because it will never end.  The memories, the best friends, I’ll always have that.  I may not be in Europe anymore, but you better believe I will still be traveling and you all will hear every detail! Especially about the food.  But you will never hear stories of goodbyes, and tears shed.  What you will hear is that the group text we started overseas is still ongoing.  We still dream of reunion trips and one day it will happen.  Vegas, Cancun, Thailand, anywhere our hearts take us.  This trip has given us more than just friends, it has given us traveling companions.  There isn’t much better than that.

Sleep until Noon, then eat like I’ve never eaten before.

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Okay… So i must still be an amateur, along with the rest of our group because no one got out of bed until after noon. But let me tell ya, as soon as I was up, I was on a mission for food and nothing could stop me! I was blowing up the group messages like never before to see who was awake, and being “quiet” as to “not” wake up Juli. Yep… I was that friend. Thankfully she appreciated the fact that I didn’t want her to be left behind in the search for food. As everyone started to wake, we found this great restaurant that has just opened less than a month ago and served brunch, which for 8E included a cup of freshly squeezed orange juice, coffee, and two entrees. Yes, TWO entrees. The options ranged anywhere from salad, to french toast, to breakfast chimichangas, or a burger. All full meal sized! As I have mentioned before, I eat a lot, especially since being in Europe where you walk everywhere and burn the energy fast than you could ever expect. When I first ordered the french toast and chimichanga, I was absolutely not expecting it to be able to finish it. I cleaned my plates! Embarrassingly… I was the only one. But I felt fantastic after, so who cares! The breakfast was more incredible than I could have ever thought. The french toast was fluffy, and moist. The chimichanga was filled with egg and black beans, veggies, all kinds of delicious goodness! Not a bad way to start off the day if I do say so myself! And to make it even better, I finally found my drumsticks! Yes, I now use 5A–because they didn’t have 7A in a European brand–European drumsticks from Madrid, Spain. It may have taken me 29 days to find them, but it was so worth the wait!