Truly I have no idea where the thought “oh I really want to make a batch of corn fritters” came from. But am so glad I did! I served these at dinner the other night and it was a hit with the whole fam (even my super picky eater sister s/o to @lauren)! Ya know what these would be realllyyyy good with? The Carnitas tacos n toppings recipe just sayinnnnn (http://www.nutrititarian.com/recipe/carnita-tacos-n-toppings/) Enjoy!!
This is such an easy and delicious one-pan meal! I have really been loving cooking with chicken quarters lately- they are brown-able which gives the chicken such a great flavor, and they are also really moist even after cooking in the oven for an hour. Win and Win. *I have not tried this recipe with chicken breasts so I’m not sure how it would turn out. I would recommend serving this with grilled asparagus or roasted veggies to make for a well rounded meal!
These sweet potato truffles would be a perfect Thanksgiving dessert to add some diversity to the assortment of pies. The sweet potato and maple syrup make them sweet, but not tooth-ache and stomach-ache sweet. They’re also dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan friendly, so have no fear, all of your guests can enjoy them! They are SO easy to make and will have you coming back for more. Or five.
Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh)- “In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Friends and family, that’s hygge too. There’s nothing more hygge than sitting around a table discussing the big and small things in life”.
If Copenhagen were to be summed up in one word, it would be the Danish word hygge. The Danes are some of the happiest people on the planet (recently ranked as the second happiest country to be exact) and you can literally feel their happiness and warmth ooze out of them when visiting. Every single person we came in contact with was pleasant and kind and helpful, and it was so gosh darn refreshing! I have a theory as to why these people who live in a place with horrid weather are so nice and so happy…1) They are biking vikings! Most people living in Copenhagen don’t own a car, and biking is their main form of transport getting the endorphins flowing….even through the rain and wind that frequents this city. Nothing can stop them, making their goal to be “Carbon Neutral” by 2025 seem totally doable for these kind, biking souls. And 2) they have mouth watering food. Not only do they have all sorts of cuisines from all around the world, the cozy, welcoming, environment in which they eat is just as important as their food. Hence, hygge, hence, happiness.
It rained nearly our entire time in Copenhagen, but not even that could rain on our parade through this happy city. One of the first things we did was go on a free walking tour to learn more about the city and its history. I have come to love free walking tours, they are offered in tons of European cities, so wherever you are visiting, it would be worth looking up! You pay nothing up front, and simply tip the tour guide at the end based upon on how much you thought the tour was worth. Talk about having to work for your pay.
The tour was super informative and went all over the city. One of the stops was in front of the Amalienborg Palace where you can watch the changing of the guards everyday at noon. The Queen happened to be in town on the day we were visiting, so a band played while the guards were changing..so cool!
Another stop on our tour was Nyhaven, the picturesque part of the city that you have likely seen on a postcard. Nyhaven is great place to snap a few pics and then keep walking (or biking). There are restaurants and bars in this area, but they are super touristy and way overpriced, so I wouldn’t recommend stopping here for a drink or to eat. Fun fact about Nyhaven for all you Disney fans out there, this is where Hans Christian Andersen lived aka the mastermind behind “The Little Mermaid” and the story which “Frozen” was based off of, among many other well known fairytales.
On the tour we also learned about Denmark’s tax policy, immigration laws and the country’s role in WWII. Super interesting learning how other countries run their governments especially in a place where its citizens are seemingly so pleased with life. Another great reminder that different isn’t synonymous with wrong.
But the walking tour wasn’t the only tour we did! We were touring fiends in this city. Its kindness drew us in and we wanted to learn as much about it as we could. The other tour we did was a canal tour through the grand canal of the city. In all honesty the tour provided a lot of information about buildings that I didn’t find all that exciting and wouldn’t put this on the must-do list. BUT you do boat past the infamous Little Mermaid statue, for what that’s worth. If you only have time for one tour, definitely choose the free walking tour over a canal tour.
After walking all day in an attempt to see as much of the city as we could, we were ravenous come dinner time! We had planned on going to the street food market, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. But when we got inside, I was immediately like a kid in a candy shop. I couldn’t stop “oohing” and “aahhing” at the gorgeous selection of food in this place. They had every food imaginable from traditional to Italian to Mediterranean to Brazilian to American to Chinese to Thai and on and on.
Honestly I wanted to eat everything here. And probably could have. But after much debate and salivating we opted to share a falafel plate to start with. The man made the falafel right there in front of our own eyes and it was accompanied by hummus, salad and fries. I haven’t had Mediterranean food since living over here and ohhhmaaaahhgashhh it was good.
After finishing this plate, our bellies were happy but we were ready for more. Perusing through the market we were drawn into the Brazilian stand because #freesamples. I don’t think I have ever in my life ordered chorizo or any sausage of any sort, but you guys, I am not kidding you, I felt like I touched heaven when this free sample of chorizo touched my lips. I am slightly embarrassed by the sounds we were making when sampling it and can only imagine what the kind sir was thinking watching us take one sample after another. But his free samples did the trick because we ended up ordering a plate full of the Brazilian chorizo, corn, potatoes and salad. I wish I could send it to every single one of you because it was one of the most flavorful, delicious foods I have ever had.
In typical Danish fashion, everything about this place was magical and cozy and warm and inviting. The tables were long farm tables, inviting people to sit next to friends and strangers, dimly lit by few lights and an oasis of warm and dryness to escape the cold rain outside. I could have laid down and slept on the table right then and there, but Julia had to pull me out of there to make the trek back to our Air BnB, clocking another 2 miles for the day. We ended up walking around 15 miles on our first day, kind of making us wish we had rented bikes. There are bike rentals all over the city, but if you choose to bike, make certain you follow the biking rules, they are taken v seriously in these parts.
The next morning we we went to a little cafe recommended by our Air BnB host called Dyrehaven. Its avo toast game was on poiiiint. This dark rye bread appeared as part of every breakfast we had here and it was so dense but soft and dreamy…when I get back to the states I’m going on a mad hunt for this stuff.
One of the places we went the second day was Christiania, the craziest place I’ve ever seen. It’s a freetown, self proclaimed autonomous anarchist community of about 1,000 people. No cars are allowed, but weed is as abundant as water in here, home of the Green Light District. It was established in 1971 by hippies (hence the weed) who occupied abandoned military barracks. It is completely independent of the Danish government and you exit the EU when you enter Christiania.
My mind was BLOWN by this place! You can’t buy a house, you have to be apply for a house and be approved, it is given to you. It’s advised not to take pictures in Christiania, especially in the area where they sell weed, but I had to sneak one picture. Risked my life for ya’ll…. JK they’re Danes, happiest people on earth.
Another stop we made was at the Torvehallerne, an urban farmers market. Torvehallerne is full of vendors selling everything from produce to spices to specialty chocolates. But being the addicts we are, we bee-lined straight to the Coffee Collective for a killer pour over coffee to scratch our itch. The Coffee Collective was conveniently located next to a bakery with ginormous chocolate chip cookies, so obviously we had to get one to accompany our coffee.
Coffee and cookies with your best friend since grade school. That’s hygge.
I was told by a friend that the duck sandwich at Ma Poule in Torvehallerne is ta-die-foh, but we didn’t have a chance to test her judgement.
Our last stop was at Norrebro Bryghus, a microbrewery located in the eclectic neighborhood of Norrebro. I went with a Bombay pale ale and a burger and fries, ugh so American of me. But also don’t regret it because it truly hit the spot and was not expensive which is rare in this town. All you young, hip, trendy foodies out there- this neighborhood is where you definitely want to spend some time.
There is so much that I want to take with me from Copenhagen. First, I would like to put one of its residents in my pocket to take with me back East where kindness is not necessarily thrown around like confetti as it is in Copenhagen. I also want to bring hygge back-I hope that whenever people come into the Sullivan home they have a hyggelig time, feeling cozy and comfortable….all while eating damn good food.
Cheers to you, Copenhagen.
We walk out of the train station with sleep in our eyes still trying to figure out what exactly just happened on the overnight train… and then BOOM we are met with the blue skies and winding canals of Venice, and suddenly we are bright eyed and bushy tailed. I mean cmonnnnn how beautiful is this place???
From the train station we took a water bus to Rialto, the central part of Venice. You can buy one way tickets which I would recommend doing because walking is the best way to get around once you get in the thick of things. Once you’re there, just start walking. One of the best things to do in Venice is to just get lost in the canals. It is nearly impossible to follow directions around Venice through the narrow and winding pathways, so there’s nothing directionally wrong with you when you end up getting lost, even if you are the world’s most experienced Google Maps user. It’ll happen so just embrace it. You know what they say, “not all who wander are lost” (Quite possible the only scenario when it is acceptable to use the world’s cheesiest quote).
As you’re walking, and trying to figure out where exactly you are, take a second to watch the canals. You will see gondola rides passing through, some looking like they’re fit for a King and Queen. You too can be paddled around for a half hour, at the price of 80 euro. Which is why we chose to live vicariously through the people we were watching.
Through your wandering you will eventually come to St. Mark’s Basilica in St. Mark’s square. Built in 1063 after burning down twice, it is known as one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture. If you want to tour the inside, book it online in advance to skip the lines, and make sure your knees an shoulders are covered!
Since directions are so difficult in Venice, instead of recommending specific restaurants, I’ll stick with specific foods, that are easily found most anywhere you go!
Espresso- It is fairly uncommon in Italy for people to sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. Instead, you will see herds of people walk up to the counters of cafes, throw back a shot of espresso and get on with their day. Efficiency.
Pizza– Italy. Nuff said.
Gelato- you literally can’t go wrong with gelato. You will see it everywhere you walk, I definitely had it twice a day both days we were here and never tasted a gelato I didn’t like. The hardest decision with the gelato is if you want to go the chocolate route or the fruit route. I would recommend both 🙂
Seafood– since Venice is an island, seafood is their gig! I set out determined to get some sort of seafood while I was here, so for dinner I found a pasta with mussels. BEST OF BOTH ITALIAN WORLDS.
Venice is definitely a tourist’s town and most of the people you will see in Venice, chances are they aren’t locals. That being said, it’s not the absolute most authentic Italian experience you can have, but it is such a unique and stunning city that I would say it is worth the stop! I would recommend staying here for 1-2 days at the max and then carry on with your travels. And that is precisely what we did! From Venice we took a bus to Florence. Tip: when figuring out the best mode of transportation to get from point A to point B, Rome2Rio is an awesome site that will give you all the possible options.
When we first got to Florence you could tell right away that the vibe was totally different than Venice, being more of a metropolitan city yet still with a ton of Italian charm. I loveee that it has both the city component and the nature component in the river and greenery.
In Florence we had a fairly long list of things to do and to see, which was fairly contrasted to Venice where a lot of wandering around was done, making the two cities a good compliment to one another! One of the first things on that list was the Duomo, something that you cannot miss, visually and literally.
It is a stunning and massive church in the middle of the city. There is always a ton of people waiting to get in so I would recommend going in the morning right when it opens at 10am to beat the crowds. You can go in fo free (cha-ching) to see the main area of the church. At the top of the Duomo there is a bell tower that you can walk up to the top and see a great view of the city- it is usually booked several days in advance so be sure to book your hike to the top in advance. We didn’t know that #rookies, so we missed out on that one. So when you go, let me know how it is 😉
One of the very best parts of this trip was the Italian cooking class I took. It was seriously a real life dream come true and one of my favorite things I have ever done!! I booked this class through Florencetown, and they had several other classes and I wish I would have had time to do them all! Our class started with a tour of the central market where we got our fresh meat and produce ingredients to turn into Italian food deliciousness in the class.
In the class we learned how to make a Bolognese sauce, pasta, ravioli and tiramisu. It’s amazing the craft and skill that goes into making a pasta- something that we turn to for a quick and easy meal when we don’t have time to make anything else. Not the Italians. They find the perfect flour (00 flour) to be mixed and kneaded together with egg. Their hands being their main tool, evaluating the consistency and firmness of the dough to know when exactly enough flour is enough.
Only to be followed by an intricate folding and cutting process to create the noodle structure. Not only is it the culinary skill that makes authentic Italian food so beyond, it’s the ingredients they use and the history of the food. Specific areas of the country specialize in creating a specific item- for instance, you can only make true parmesan cheese in Parma Italy, and true balsamic vinegar in Modena Italy. This replicates the standard of excellence of the ingredients, making the food taste the same each and every time you create it.
The Italians take pride in their food, in the legacy that it holds and the story that it tells. It’s no wonder they savor their food, taking hours to enjoy a meal. Because in a way, their food is their own work of art. And just as an art museum should not be rushed through, neither should a meal.
AND TODAY IS YOUR LUCKY DAY, this is the real deal bolognese recipe they gave me during the class. Tuck it away to make for your family, take a few hours to emjoy dinner, and invest in your loved ones. The true Italian way.
Ingredients: ½ c EVOO, 1 medium red onion, 1 carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1.5 lb fresh ground beef, 1 c red Chianti wine, 1.5 c hot water, ¾ c tomato paste, 2 tsp salt
Directions: Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery. Heat the oil in a large steel fry pan, on high heat, and then add the onion, carrot and celery. Saute for five minutes. Add the beef to the fry pan, separate using a fork and brown for 10 minutes. Pour in the wine and reduce, on high heat, until it has evaporated. Add the tomato paste, hot water and salt, and stir well to ensure the sauce is well combined. Reduce the pan to low-medium heat, and leave to simmer for 40 minutes, and serve.
Speaking of food….One of the best places we ate at was All’Antico Vinaio– if you are ever in Florence, put this on your MUST EAT list for lunch. Located a block away from the Uffizi museum, you will see two lines on either side of the street, and you will know you have arrived. The line goes super quick and is way beyond worth the wait. The menu is written on a board on the door going inside, word to the wise: read it quick and don’t dilly dally figuring out what you want because once you get inside, the men behind the counter demand your order pronto. For 5 euro you will get a huge crispy, delectable sandwich full of Italian cheeses and meat if you choose. They are definitely big enough to share, but no judgement if you finish one by yourself like ya girl did…..
Ponte Vecchio is another main attraction that would be hard to miss. It is the main bridge of Florence full of jewelers and vendors, and is yet another place to steal a stunna view of this beauteous city.
Located across the bridge across the river is Piazzale Michelangelo- a lookout point of the entire city. From the top you can see Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, the church of Santa Croce and the Palazazo Vecchio. If you can, try and go a little bit before sunset and just watch the beauty unfold.
But I swear Florence is more than just a pretty face! It is the home to the Uffizi and the Academia museums. Recognizable pieces in each are paintings from Leonardo da Vinci in the Uffizi, and the David by Michelangelo in Academia. We chose to go through the Uffizi- I’m a one and done type of museum person, so that was enough for me. If you do it in full, this museum can take up to 6 hours to go through! So be prepared to potentially dedicate a large chunk of your day to the museum if you intend to do it in full. When buying tickets online for these museums, make sure you don’t do it through a 3rd party vendor, we made that mistake and paid a little extra for our tickets. Yet another #rookiemistake.
And finallyyyy, last but DEFINITELY not least, GELATO. We went to a bunch of Gelateria’s, but these two stick out as MVP’s of the gelato scene:
Edoardo’s gelato: right by the Duomo and super authentic. The whole trip I had gotten chocolatey flavors, but here I opted for the lavender and strawberry and oh my gawwwwwsh it was unreal!
La Cerraia: right on the other side of the river. The dark chocolate couldn’t have been darker or more delicious and I may or may not be salivating just thinking about it.
I was truly so sad to leave Italy, it felt like my homeland with pizza, pasta, gelato and the flow of red wine at every turn. Not to mention being with family! A trip that I will cherish for many reasons, making me all the more thankful that I have the opportunity to see a piece of the beauty that God has created. For another opportunity to learn that different isn’t synonymous with wrong. And a chance to simply go and do. Simply put, Italy, I adore you.
Have you been to Venice or Florence? What were your favorite parts??