Tapas, loosely translated, is "you can order 5 dishes at dinner but still be hungry by the end of the meal"

by Paulina Farro


I loved how Barcelona had this artsy, quirky vibe about it, and I looked for evidence of it throughout the entire trip. This turned into some pretty fun inspiration for my food diary this time around...

 

We stayed at the Ohla Hotel in the Gothic Quarter, which was the perfect neighborhood for post- siesta wandering. I really cannot say enough good things about this hotel. It's a small boutique five star hotel, so the attention to detail is impeccable. The second you walk through their doors your luggage is whisked away and glasses of Cava are in your hands. The rooms are modern and sleek with amazing views of the city. The suite bathtub has an especially romantic view that is perfect for soaking in and sipping that Cava wine you were handed earlier. When you wake up and drag your jet lagged zombie body downstairs to breakfast in the morning, the walls of pastries, rows of freshly squeezed juices, and sandwiches are a sight for sore eyes. (More hotel information HERE

 There were plenty of boutiques, pottery shops, and restaurants to peruse. Eating dinner late was something that is hard for those used to an American dining timetable to get used to, so pretty much every restaurant was empty when we walked in. Early bird special! I knew what Tapas was before traveling to Spain, of course, but I don't think I really knew what I was getting into. Dinner is supposed to be a light meal because it is eaten so late. Really light. So if you're thinking of ordering one or two items on the menu, get six. And always order the patatas braves. For a couple of reasons. One: they do them differently at each restaurant so I loved being surprised by what we might get. Two: this backfills your stomach, like a kind of anti-hunger tapas insurance. Three: FRIED POTATOES. Accompanied by a spicy tomato sauce and a garlicky aioli for dipping. 

Other than must sees such as La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, and Parc Guell (the likes of which you already knew about and planned on seeing before reading this) we really just enjoyed our time in Barcelona living like locals. We didn't over plan an itinerary and left time for in-the-moment exploration and discovery. 

PINK SANGRIA 

I love sangria because it's pretty much just juice with alcohol and fruit in it. Watch out, this stuff sneaks up on you and before you know it you're in some bar singing the best hits from 1996 on karaoke at 3am. 

What you'll need:

1-2 cups blackberries/blueberries/strawberries/any kind of berry

1 bottle Cava wine

1/2 cup triple sec

2 cups sparkling pink lemonade

1/2 cup sugar

GARNISH: I used lemons, chopped up dragon fruit, and edible flowers that add no flavor but just look pretty

1

Put your berries in a large pitcher, and sprinkle with sugar and allow to sit for 10 minutes. This allows the sugar to draw out the juice from the berries.

2

Add triple sec, pink lemonade, and  1/2 of the Cava

3

Chill for 1 hour. 

4

When ready to serve, add remaining Cava, stir to combine, and add your garnish.

 







That time I tested how much pasta one human could consume in Cinqueterre and Florence

by Paulina Farro


 

Having a vivid imagination can be both a blessing and a curse. Real life tends to fall short of grandiose visions nearly 100% of the time. Even in a magical place such as Cinqueterre. So  looking back on my trip, I might have had to pry a little deeper than any trip I have been on before.  Beautiful moments like long, sleepy, winding train rides through the Italian countryside then trickled back to me. I  laughed about the time we bought train tickets for the wrong destination, after getting off the train we should've stayed on in the first place. At dinner one night, we learned to never order Ravioli in Italy if you're actually hungry and want more than 2.5 tiny pieces of ravioli! I could still feel the bumpy and windy  boat rides from Terre to Terre in my bones. Oh, and looking out the window of our stunning bed and breakfast to take in the view of the sea.....and seeing someones granny underwear drying on a clothesline and flapping away in the breeze instead. These are the things I remember most, not the fact that the restaurant I wanted to go to was closed, or that we got to the beach a couple of hours after I had wanted to.

So maybe next time,  I'll sleep in a little longer. Walk a little slower. Bring bug spray because who knew you could even get bit in so many places in such a short period of time? In Italy, no less. And how did the mosquitoes find their way THERE

 But, lets be real. The most important thing I learned from this trip is that if you're staying at an airbnb to make sure you have food and coffee for the morning for the sake of your relationship. Then you will both act like sane, fed, caffeinated individuals come morning. 

 

 

EAT:

Foccacia!

There is a Focacceria on practically every street corner in all five terre. Don't worry about finding a specific one, just wander around and pop into one that appeals to you because they are all delicious. You can find them topped with cheese, meats and vegetables. My personal favorite was cebolla/onion. I think my record was 3 in one day. I'm sure my breath was FANTASTIC. 

Fried Seafood Cones // Monterosso Al Mare

Down by the ferry dock before you enter the old town area of Monterosso, and behind a long line, you will find adorably grumpy nonna frying seafood in the back of a food truck. She stuffs it inside a paper cone, tops it with a lemon wedge, and you have yourself quintessential Italian Riviera streetfood that you can eat while waiting for the next ferry to arrive.

 

STAY:

Agriturismo Uliveto nel Parco // Monterosso al Mare, Cinqueterre, Italy

This gorgeous bed and breakfast is set high up in the hills of Monterosso al Mare and gives you spectacular views of the ocean and town. They grow olives, lemons, tomatoes pomegranates and more on site and will even cook dinner for you using the food they have grown upon request. The breakfast in the morning is simple but enough to get your day of sightseeing started. All it takes is a winding walk down the hill to get to the striped umbrella lined beach. Just remember you have to waddle back up that hill with your belly full of pasta, wine, and gelato at the end of your day. More information and reviews HERE.

DO:

There are a couple of different ways to see all five terre. You can take trains, purchase a tour, hike them, or see them by boat like we did. Wanting the experience of seeing them from the ocean, we chose to see them this way. I highly recommend  the ferry! That way you can really take all the scenery in. You will take plenty of trains just getting to and from Cinqueterre anyway and they are very crowded from what I saw. 

cook:

On our first night in Cinqueterre, we had dinner at a lovely seaside restaurant where I discovered that Pesto Lasagne was a local specialty. It didn't immediately appeal to me because I usually find pesto to be harsh and overwhelming, however I found the lasagne to be none of those things. One taste of the nutty pesto beneath the fresh blankets of pasta and caramelized cheese and I was hooked. My version uses pistachios instead of the more traditional pine nuts and arugula in place of pesto. This will definitely give you a more delicate pesto.

PISTACHIO PESTO

1 cup pistachio nut meat

1 cup arugula

2 tbsp. olive oil - to taste

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Juice of half a lemon

3 cloves garlic

Sea salt, to taste

In a food processor, blend pistachios and garlic cloves together until the pieces are small but not completely smooth. Add arugula, lemon juice, olive oil and parmesan cheese. Blend until smooth. If you find that it's still a little too chunky add another drizzle of olive oil until it's your desired consistency. Taste, add salt to your liking and blend again until evenly incorporated.

I spread the pistachio pesto on a sliced and buttered baguette. Other ways you can use it is by replacing the marinara with the pesto in your favorite lasagna recipe, or you can also keep it simple by mixing it into your favorite pasta noodles. This pesto really packs a lot of flavor and a little goes a long way.

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MAKE:

While traveling, I save a lot of tickets, money, knicknacks, pretty candy wrappers (and other random seemingly useless things if anyone were to investigate the innards of my bags) in case I decide to use them later on for one of my illustrated food diaries.I had saved all of our many train tickets without knowing what I would be using them for and they rolled around in my purse for several months afterwards until I came across THIS project via Martha Stewart, where vintage recipe cards were printed onto  fabric to be used as tea towels. I decided to do something a little different than illustrating this trip and so I took the train tickets, scanned them, made them black and white to give them more of a vintage feel and made that into a pattern. Then sent them off to SPOONFLOWER to be printed onto their cotton linen fabric. They have different fabrics but I like the not-too-perfect slightly wrinkly and rustic look of linen. After cutting them to size and washing them, I hand embroidered them in a pattern I made up as I went along. Now they are in my kitchen to remind me of this lovely trip every time I use them. 

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SEE+EAT+DO ENGLAND, and a super nerdy harry potter potion tutorial

by Paulina Farro


Before I head into my Harry Potter potion tutorial (nerd alert!) I put together a SEE + EAT + DO guide of my trip to London and Oxford.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, just a couple of things I really loved.

SEE:

HITCHIN LAVENDER FARM // HERTFORDSHIRE

I was lucky enough to be in England just before lavender season ended. I decided to take a little road trip about 1.5 hours outside of London so I could take some fresh lavender home with me to try in recipes. For a small fee, they give you a pair of scissors and a paper bag to fill with as much lavender as you like. Fair warning though, if you have a fear of bees this will require you to come face to face with your fears. I swear some of those bees were as big as birds and were probably trying to pollinate my hair (which I may or may not have dyed purple just for this occasion).  I just pretended they didn’t exist, and I left with 0 stings. There is a cafe and shop at the farm where you can buy various sweet treats, soaps, and lotions made with lavender. Lavender season runs from May to September. // More information on their website: hitchinlavender.com

EAT:

SKETCH GALLERY // LONDON

If you want to feel like you are taking your afternoon tea down the rabbit hole, go to Sketch. Pink velvet chairs, egg shaped toilets, with quirky and mildly inappropriate artwork make for the most unique atmosphere in the city. The tiny sandwiches were to die for. It’s a little on the pricey side, so when your server comes by to ask if you would like more of something don’t be shy and go ahead and tell them. They will pack up everything you can’t finish in an adorable pink bag at the end of your meal if you just ask. Be sure to make a reservation as far in advance as you can. We did the first seating and we had the place to ourselves for a bit before it got pretty crowded in there. So make one early in the day if you don’t want too many other people in your egg toilet selfies ;) // afternoon tea reservations: sketch london tea

THE STANDARD // OXFORD 

I would do the 11 hour flight from LA to London just to eat here again. I think this was the best meal we had during the trip. They serve many delectable bengali and south asian dishes. I recommend anything with prawns. And of course, 5,000 orders of garlic naan. // reservations: www.standardoxford.com

PIEMINISTER PIES // THE COVERED MARKET OXFORD:

Inside of the covered market in oxford is a great pie shop that you can probably spot by the long line coming out of it. Probably you will be extremely overwhelmed by your choices, as you likely have never seen so many combinations of meats and such to go inside of a pie shell. Americans aren’t as into savory pies. My only experience with savory meat pies up until this point were of the gross sodium bomb variety from the frozen section of the grocery store. So just nod when they ask if you want everything with it, choose your pie (I got free range chicken and ham hock) and ABSOLUTELY SAY YES TO THE CRISPY SHALLOTS. These were my favorite part of the meal. After the mashed potatoes, gravy, and minty mushy peas are all globbed onto your plate you probably have enough food to feed two people. Though I am still not 100% on board with minty mushy peas I can still appreciate that they were very well made. // www.pieminister.co.uk

DO:

HARRY POTTER LONDON TOUR

If you’re a Harry Potter freak, like me, you can scope out some of the locations where they filmed some scenes from the movie. If you fail to book a Warner Bros. studio tour in a timely manner, like me, this is a good way to soften the blow of not being able to pretend that you finally got accepted to Hogwarts. My favorite was the Oxford Divinity School where the infirmary and dance lesson scenes of the movies were filmed // a comprehensive list of locations: TOP 10 HARRY POTTER LOCATIONS IN LONDON

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MAKE:

potions!

This is the perfect gift for the Harry Potter obsessed person in your life, especially if you want to give them something a little more creative and grown up. If they happen to be a foodie, even better. When my close friend's birthday rolled around, I just knew I had to make her something Harry Potter related.  I have to admit that I probably got more joy out of making this gift than she did receiving it.

What I used to make my potions:

  • FELIX FELICIS- I infused honey with the lavender I picked at Hitchin Lavender farm for 3 days, then added gold colored sprinkles to it. You can infuse your honey with anything you like (or the person you are giving it to likes) such as vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne... or nothing at all. The honey was thick enough to suspend the sprinkles which I thought was a nice touch.
  • BUTTERBEER ELIXIR-  I used THIS butterscotch recipe and made sure it was completely cooled before pouring it into the bottle.
  • MERMAID WINE- I infused gin with lavender and left the flowers in there because I thought it added to the look of the potion. You can use any alcohol or infusion you like.
  • POLYJUICE POTION- You can use store bought jalepeno hot sauce or make it from scratch using this recipe HERE

 

FIDELIUS!