Are you in need of a Franco fix?
Here are 5 of my favorite blogger/travelers/photographers whose take on life and travel in France will definitely put the “Ooh” back in your “la la” blahs:
1. Paris: People, Places and Bling: Theadora Brack enthusiastically posts about the shopping, open-air markets, art, cuisine, and cinema of fabulous Paris.
2. Cooking in Sens: A Foodie blog by a Texas expat who is currently located in Sens, France and loving it.
4. Prêt à Voyager: I have been following American designer / editor /consultant Anne Stark Ditmeyer for 4 years. Her blog has everything that you would want to read about the creative, experiential, and kitschy sides to life in France and beyond.
5. The Paris Apartment: Companion blog to The Paris Apartment boutique, books and website franchise. A must stop for a daily dose of French décor, romantic vignettes, and musings by creative genius and uber Francophile Claudia Strasser.
I adore Italian food and could spend an entire day watching those cooking shows featuring chefs of Italian cuisine whipping up their Molto Magic. When I heard that celebrity chefs Lidia Bastianich and Mario Batali recently teamed up to bring their signature Eataly market to Chicago, I had to check it out.
Eataly Chicago is 63,000 square feet of artisanal cheeses, meats, pastas, sweets, olive oils, wines, cookbooks, utensils and more. Located on Ohio Street in downtown Chicago, the concept is the same as the original store in Italy; to create an open market of high quality, fair priced Italian foods where people are encouraged to shop, taste and learn.
The original 30,000 square foot Eataly store opened in Turin, Italy back in 2007. Today, there are currently twenty-six Eataly stores around the world. Ten store are located in Italy in cities like Milan, Genoa, Rome, and Florence. Thirteen markets are in Japan, and there is a store in Dubai , Turkey, New York, and Chicago, respectively.
To say that Eataly Chicago is ginormous is putting it lightly. The market has twenty-three restaurants, eateries, cafes and drink stations. Inside is two floors of merchandise featuring thousands of Italian brands that you may be hard pressed to source under normal circumstances, even in major cities like Chicago and New York. The fact that so many brands are located under one roof is mind blowing.
The lines for purchasing merchandise can be long and seating for the eateries in Eataly Chicago fill up quickly, so plan accordingly. Although the Eataly pledge is to provide a diverse selection of quality food and drink at the lowest possible price point, most will find the prices to be a bit steep. Trust me, you are going to want to try everything , so it is best to bring a full wallet.
If you are interested in visiting Eataly and not quite sure where to start in this enormous market, you can sign up for a $35 “Eat-Ineraries” walking tour. The tour includes a behind-the-scenes peek at each department, an introduction to the many restaurants and shopping areas, as well as, to be treated to different tasting stations along the way.
There are also, one and a half hour long cooking courses available. On virtually any night of the week you can register for classes like; “The Art of Winter Risotto”, “Formaggio & Vino from Northern Italy”,” Meatless Monday”,” Italian Comfort Food”,” Pasta 101”. Class prices usually range between $70 – $95. You can register here.
Looking out my window today, all I can see is yucky mounds and mounds of snow. Explanation: Fresh snow in the country = winter wonderland; Plowed dirty snow in the city = yucky! On days like this when the sky and the streets are so bleak, I turn to instagram for travel photo solace and inspiration.
Here are 5 of my favorite traveler’s with amazing instagram accounts:
I recently had the opportunity to check out the Travel and Adventure Show and I have to admit it was better than I expected. Although, if pressed about it, I couldn’t really say what is was that I did expect. Maybe I just didn’t expect it to be such big production.
The convention center was filled with airline, cruise ship, vacation and tourism vendors of every variety and they were all at the ready to book the trip of your dreams. Vacation and travel brands like Celebrity Cruises, Rhodes Scholar, and Amtrak held drawings for free trips and more. I’m not proud of it, but I happily stood in line to eagerly offer up my personal information for the slightest chance of winning anything from trips to Italy to luggage tags.
The Travel Channel sponsored hour long presentations by travel notables like Rick Steves, Samantha Brown, and Patricia Schultz. On the Culinary Stage there were chefs serving up globally inspired cooking demonstrations, there were cultural performances in music and dance on the Global Beats Stage, and hands-on activities like scuba diving and a mechanical bull ride. I will say, it was a bit of a shock to walk in from the Chicago blizzard outside to be met with a giant indoor pool filled with divers in scuba gear.
Although, I wasn’t in a financial position to book a trip on the spot (thanks to being a full-time college student again), I was glad that I attended the Travel and Adventure Show. It was kind of nice to be surrounded by a room full of people who get just as excited about travel as I do. It was also nice to be reminded of some of dream destinations that I had kind of forgotten about.
I’m not much on skintight wet suits, but if I attend the show again, I might even consider trying out the scuba dive. Maybe.
So, unless you are outside of the U.S., I am sure that you have heard of the Target Data Breach by now. In case you haven’t, between November 24th and December 15th as many as 70 million Target store shoppers had their credit, debit and personal information stolen by a ring of thieves using software uploaded to the merchant’s server. If you are like me, have shopped at Target or one of its affiliates and haven’t changed your credit or debit cards, you are probably using one or more of these excuses:
- Target has taken care of the problem by now.
- It’s probably not affecting that many people and it probably won’t affect me.
- They won’t steal my information because I have terrible credit, or so little money, or …(insert rationalization here).
- I’ll know if they use my card before any real damage is done.
I used all of these excuses for not changing my VISA debit card, even though I used my card at Target during that timeframe. I really believed these excuse, too. Maybe you happen to be psychic, but unfortunately I am not, and three days ago it happened. While I was asleep in my bed in Chicago, thieves used fraudulent cards bearing my bank information at a string of stores in Texas. Before I could swipe my legitimate card to pay for my morning latte, all of my hard earned money was gone. They even managed to leave me with a negative balance of a hundred bucks, which is saying something, because I don’t even have the ability to overdraft that account.
These thieves really know what they are doing and what they are doing is causing a whole lot of heartache and pain. I have had to spend two days, emailing, calling and writing letters to try to clear up what they were able to pull off in just a couple of hours. I am hoping to get my money back, but who knows how long that will take.
For those of you who are financially uber savvy, I know you will be tempted to comment on how stupid I was to not cancel my cards, believe me, you are preaching to the choir. But honestly this post is not for the financially uber savvy, this post is for people like me and you know who you are. I know that you are hyper vigilant about your personal and financial information when you are traveling, it’s time to be vigilant now. Yes, it is possible that they don’t have or won’t use your information. Yes, changing your autopay information on all your accounts is a pain. But that’s what the thieves are counting on, the fact that you won’t cancel your cards for whatever reason. And they are laughing all the way to the bank, or to the border, or wherever they are. Take my word for it.
The is scope of the situation is still developing. You can read more about it below:
Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide is one of my favorite go-to places to get amazing ideas and delicious recipes for meals and drinks. “Rufus” is the blog name of cooking/mixology super duo, Greg and Katherine, a couple with an annoying knack for making even the most difficult recipe seem easy. I say seem easy because, after months of trying, I have yet to master the wobbly legs technique on a perfectly cooked whole baked chicken. But, we can’t hold the Rufus guide accountable for my culinary shortcomings, can we?
Whenever I read a new post on Rufus , I find myself running to my ever so cramped tiny kitchen to try to recreate the dish. Unfortunately, more often than not, I am sadly disappointed to find that my kitchen cupboards lack the accoutrements necessary to elevate my meal to Rufus status. Recently, Rufus posted a recipe for Moroccan Chicken that could easily be described as food-porn. Not surprisingly, my attempt at this recipe fell a bit short, because I neglected to use preserved lemons —I know, I know. By being in Chicago at the moment, I really don’t have an excuse, since this kind of thing is not that hard to get around here. – - – But, hey it was snowing! What’s worse, on Rufus they actually posted a do-it-yourself guide for making preserved lemons, leaving virtually no room for excuses. So there you have it, I am sort of a lazy diva.
At Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide you will find lots of delectable recipes with a global flair, like Coq Au Vin, Italian Timpano, and something they call Arabian Spinach. While you are at it, you can also try your hand at a drink recipe like, Strawberry Mezcarita or Peppermint Patricks. I really hope that you enjoy Rufus’ recipes as much as I do. Oh and if you make the chicken, definitely spring for the lemons!
Here’s a repost of that amazing Moroccan Chicken recipe word for word, because believe me, you don’t want me making any changes!
- 4 chicken thighs skin on
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 red onion shredded
- 1 cup large olives chopped in half
- 1 preserved lemon rind sliced into thin strips and pulp reserved
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
Mix all dried spices together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and rub mixture into each piece. Add 1/2 the shredded onion and lemon pulp and mix well again. Cover and let marinate for 24 hours. In a large saute pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Sear chicken skin side down until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip chicken and add garlic and remaining onion. Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Add lemon rind, olives, and chicken stock, deglaze pan and cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes. Before serving stir in fresh cilantro.