Learning To Make Pasta Like A Roman

Learning To Make Pasta Like A Roman

Everyone wants to come home from vacation with a souvenir. The type of souvenirs change throughout your life; as a teenager you're apt to be wearing a foreign language Budweiser or Coca-Cola logo-ed t-shirt for a few years, as a twenty something, most likely you'll have some sort of knick-knack collection (I still have a "Cleveland Rocks!" shot glass somewhere in the annals of my packed up kitchen boxes), and now, you FedEx Moroccan hand-stitched rugs to your house to be a "statement piece" to revolve the room around. But what if you could bring home a skill from your travels? What if your exposures to other cultures and activities could translate into experiences in the future? Can you take the vacation home with you? 

That was our thought process when we signed up for a pasta making class with Walks Of Italy in Rome. 

When we learned that my Mom was going to meet us in the Eternal City, we thought that the opportunity to learn from a real Italian chef the true way to make pasta and cook Italian  with our own two hands might actually change the way that we cook once we return to the States. We hoped to have a real life version of one of those Food Network shows where Bobby Flay teaches you how to become a better cook, with less yelling, more mother-son-daughter-in-law bonding, and much, much more Prosecco, and that's exactly what we received. 

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Parmigiano, Prosciutto & Vinegar, Oh My! Eating Our Way Through Emilia Romagna

Parmigiano, Prosciutto & Vinegar, Oh My! Eating Our Way Through Emilia Romagna

Think back on your travels. The very best experiences you've had throughout your visits abroad or otherwise. The "check this off my bucket list" travel activities. Or even glance back over your life as a whole. Have you ever done an activity or been involved in something that has made you say, "There is no way I could picture ANYONE not liking this?" Something probably has jumped into your head, like the time you jetskied across the lake while fireworks exploded over your head last Independence Day. Or the first time you saw the Grand Canyon. Perhaps it's just stepping out on the ledge of a castle of a place you didn't think could possibly exist in real life. Well, I've got some bad news for you. That time you went real fast on a jetski while America celebrated by blowing things up above you? My Dad wouldn't like it, his bad knees make a jetski untenable. The first time you saw the Grand Canyon? I'm scared of heights, plus it's too hot in Arizona. Lake Bled? Ask a Slovenian, they'll tell you Lake Bohinj is better. I'm basically Abraham Lincoln-ing you. You can't please all the people all the time. There is no activity that EVERYONE will like.

Except for the Italian Days Food Experience

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Learning To Cook Like A Slovenian

Learning To Cook Like A Slovenian

It seems like hundreds of times on this blog, we've extolled the virtues of food tours and reveling in the fact that you can learn more about a culture by exploring their cuisine and traditions than by simply seeing things that have existed in the same place for hundreds of years. In fact, we've extolled it so many times, I'm not even peppering this paragraph with links to food pieces. Most likely there's a link to a bunch of them at the bottom of the page, or at the bottom of every piece on this site. I swear this is not a food blog, it just seems that way because we love food so much. When we were offered the opportunity to join a Slovenian Cooking Class in Ljubljana with CookEatSlovenia, we jumped at the opportunity. While they offer wine tasting tours and day trips to hike the Julian Alps, we relished the idea of a Slovenian cooking class. We love to cook at home (even if home is just an AirBnB, cooking in instead of eating out is a great way to stick to your budget), and being able to cook a Slovenian meal with a real Slovenian? Oh, and there's Slovenian wine served? WE ARE IN! 

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Achieving Peak Food Tour In Ljubljana

Achieving Peak Food Tour In Ljubljana

We have been going on food tours a lot recently, and while it would be a great narrative to say that after seeing multiple iterations of them throughout cities, countries, and continents, we are growing tired of the routine: tasting different dishes and flavors at scattered restaurants or cafes, short to medium walks through foreign streets, small tidbits of history we will most likely not remember, shared tales of food tours from vacations' past, it's simply not the case. We've come to appreciate the food tour as a way to introduce ourselves to both the overall geography and exceptional cuisine that each new city has to offer; Renee is a fan of getting "the lay of the land", and food tours are a tremendous way to do that while simultaneously filling your bellies. I thought that we could not get any fuller than when we were in Marrakech, but I was wrong. Because we may have had our best food tour yet with Top Ljubljana Foods in the capital city of Slovenia.

Ljubljana (Pronounced lyoo-BLYAH-nah and certainly not Luh-JUBE-Luh-JOHN-Ah as we had been calling it for the past six months) has a long and twisting history, as being surrounded by mountains, having both a hill in the middle with a fortress built on it and a river running through you can make you extremely coveted by civilizations throughout Europe. Ljubes (as we like to call it) has been occupied in the past by the Italians, Germans, and Romans to name a few, and since Slovenia declared it's independence in 1991, it has acted simultaneously as the capital of Slovenia and the "Next Big City" of Europe. While everyone from Rick Steves to Nomadic Matt has declared Slovenia one of their favorite destinations, Ljubljana has avoided become the tourist-y madhouses that are now Prague and Bruges. The city center, with it's meandering Ljubljanica River and cafes and restaurants scattered on it's shores have maintained their low price points and traditional cooking styles. It is with this in mind that we can see why the Traditional Food Tour with Top Ljubljana Foods is one of the better food tours we've taken. 

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The Best Bite In Marrakech That No One Will Tell You About

The Best Bite In Marrakech That No One Will Tell You About

Jemaa el-Fnaa, the main square of Marrakech can be an intimidating place. You won't need to make eye contact with a vendor to initiate a constant stream of "Hello, hello, hello, hello"; women will simply grab your hand and begin drawing a henna tattoo if you do not pull away fast enough. At any time of the day in the heart of the Red City, there are musicians playing instruments you did not know existed, Ray-Bans being hocked for prices too low to be profitable, fresh squeezed juices being brought forth from fruit on demand, monkeys to sit on your shoulder for a small pittance of dirhams, and locals playing carnival games where the prize appear to be a liter of soda; all of which can be overwhelming, especially when Jemaa el-Fnaa is usually the first place you see when you arrive in the medina of Marrakech. "Is it always this busy?" I asked to the guide walking us to our riad, and he grinned back at me "My friend, this is not busy. Not busy at all."

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Behind The Moroccan Souks With Marrakech Food Tours

Behind The Moroccan Souks With Marrakech Food Tours

Allow me to dispel some rumors that you may hear from local shopkeepers while you are walking the souks in Marrakech. There is no special auction today at the tanneries because of an unnamed festival which is ending today. No, the museum is not closed today. Whichever way the shop owner is pointing you, that's not the right way. And, most importantly, if you remember nothing else, remember this: The price they are offering you is not a special price. It's not a democratic price. Unfortunately, it's probably twice the amount they would have accepted for that Berber scarf you just had to have.

No matter how many warnings you read in blogs just like this one, you will most likely be fooled in the souks; you will make a mistake, you will pay thirty dirham and then realize that five would have done the trick. Because you are a tourist, a stranger in a strange land, and no matter how much you try to "live, eat, and drink like a local", you will need some help to truly find all that Marrakech has to offer. That's where Marrakech Food Tours comes in. 

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The Best Meal We Ate In Europe

The Best Meal We Ate In Europe

We struggle every day with the question of where to eat. Ultimately, we usually end up pulling what we lovingly refer to as a "Classic Josh And Renee", which refers to the process of agonizing over a menu at a restaurant that looks as if we will really enjoy it, deciding that there is probably a better meal to be eaten somewhere else, wandering around for twenty minutes, and then deciding to eat at the next place that serves food because we are sick of looking. Then we extoll the virtues of the hypothetical eatery we should have chosen had we been better people. Funnily enough, this is a very similar story to how two of our friends got married, but that's a story for another blog.

While we were in Lyon, France, we were lucky enough to not pull a CJAR (That's a Classic Josh And Renee if you skipped the first paragraph, which is a weird way to read a blog, but it's your world). We essentially had one day to spend in the "Belly Of France", and since it has been established that we lead with our stomachs when deciding daily activities, we knew we had to nail both our lunch and dinner choice. In the end, we only needed to make one choice, because Comptoir Du Vin was the only meal we ate that day. We wanted to leave Lyon with the memory of that food on our lips. 

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Learning To Shop Like A Parisian With Secret Food Tours

Learning To Shop Like A Parisian With Secret Food Tours

One of the things I immediately noticed upon arrival in Paris is the inordinate number of men and women walking around with a baguette in their hand. "How can they do that? Don't they know they're just living up to the most basic French stereotype? They should all grow handlebar mustaches, smoke cigarettes and wear berets." Nothing made me giggle more than passing by a man casually munching on a phallogical loaf of bread the size of his torso as they jauntily headed down the Rue Desjardins Mont Blanc Croissant. Then I found myself in the line at Pain Pain Paris, being handed a baguette that was at the perfect temperature to hold, not too hot that I had to juggle it, but still so warm I could have cracked it open and seen steam emerge. I found myself being told that most good bakeries in Paris will ensure their baguettes are coming out of the oven every twenty minutes, so that every one bought has this perfect temperature. I found myself being told that the butchers will give you advice on how to cook their meat. That the cheese shops will pair their cheese with the bottle of wine in your hand. THAT THE MACAROONS ARE MADE FRESH EVERY DAY. Why would you buy your cheese, meat, and bread at one big-box grocery store, when they've been sitting out all day being breathed on by slovenly big-box grocery store employees? Why would you even set foot in a grocery store when all of these specialty stores are within a ten minute walk from your apartment? WHY IS THERE NOT A BERET STORE ON THIS BLOCK? HOW DID THIS HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE APPEAR ON MY FACE?

These are the kind of questions you begin to ask yourself when you learn to shop like a Parisian and not like an American jerk. Allow me to explain.

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Currywurst & Beer: The Best Parts Of Berlin?

Currywurst & Beer: The Best Parts Of Berlin?

My dad has a saying: "I plan my vacations one meal at a time." Or maybe he didn't actually say that; I can't tell whether that is a quote he actually said, or something that I've just attributed to him, that he said something similar but not quite as catchy, or maybe is just something Guy Fieri said and I assigned it to my dad because they have similar haircuts. So I take this to heart, and whenever we are heading to a new city, much to Renee's chagrin, I will always google the phrase "______ famous foods" because I don't want to be talking to someone about what a great time we had in Iceland, and have them say "Did you have hot dogs there? THEY WERE UNBELIEVABLE!" and not have an opinion ready to blast out. Yes, we had hot dogs in Iceland. And lobster rolls in Boston.  Don't forget pizza in New York. So we were not going to spend our time in Berlin without having currywurst. 

Currywurst is a German delicacy that is most popular in it's capital city, having been born in 1949 when Herta Heuwer was cooking her fam some dinner and threw whatever she had in the pantry on the plate. It turned out to be a sauce combining ketchup and curry powder over a pork sausage, and what do you know A STAR IS BORN. Now there are currywurst stalls everywhere from Brandenburg Gate to Checkpoint Charlie (Real missed opportunity: Call your stall Checkpoint Curry, then wait for the money to roll in. Come on Berlin do I have to do all this for you?) and every one has their own secret ingredient or special cooking technique. Everything from brown sugar to chamomile can make up the ketchupy (I tried for literally fifteen minutes to come up with a better word than ketchupy, but ultimately, no word described the sauce better. It's ketchupy. Get off my back Roget) sauce, and every Berliner has their favorite. So how to choose? Easy. Let a professional make the choice for you.

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