I am so excited to be writing to you, loves! Believe you me, I have missed you. I have been cooking, cheersing, dining out – let’s be honest, I’ve been stuffing my face with Europe food – and have so many recipes and inspiration to share in the coming months. But we must start with the foodie trip of a lifetime – if you follow me on Insta (follow me here), you know that I spent two weeks in Europe with my family and boyfriend (now fiance!). Read below for the story, but if you’re ready to get to the food (I don’t blame you one bit), then you can scroll to the first pic.
The story: Elin proposed at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland, a country that means so much to me and my family. We are very proud of our Irish heritage and Elin knew that having this moment in Ireland with my family would blow me away – and OMG, it did.
With my mom, dad, sister and brother-in-law around us, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He barely got the words out and I said yes, woo-ed with glee, and teared up (just a little) as we laughed, group-hugged and clinked champagne glasses (PARTY TIME!). The rest of the trip included jet setting across Europe and celebrating with exquisite dishes and champagne all day. I am very lucky and am so thankful for this moment and the well wishes that followed. Thank you. Now to the food; my fave eats and drinks are below that have given me the best inspiration:
#1. Ahh, this pork sandwich! Elin, our friend Joe, and I visited Time Out Market Lisboa on our last day inPortugal. Time Out Market, as in the magazine, takes 24 restaurants, ten food stalls and eight bars from the best of Lisbon per an “independent panel of city experts: Time Out’s own journalists and critics” – genius, right?! Outside of the variety and authenticity of the Lisbon tastings available, the contagious buzz in the market, similar to that of an outdoor market, was as much a part of the experience as the food.
We ate outside at the restaurant of Chef Vitor Sabral’s, a chef whose mission is to share the integrity of Portugal cuisine with a modern twist. This simple, but expertly created sandwich from Tasca Da Esquina includes marinated pork, tomato, rocket salad, red onion and a mustard mayo aioli. Great sandwich inspiration. Also, news on the street is Time Out is opening a market in New York!
#2. Let’s talk about cocktails! We had plenty of time to relax, see new places and eat out, but we also had plenty of time to toast and celebrate. The Grey Goose Le Fizz cocktail hit the spot and was shared between my sister, my mom and I. And can you get enough of the goose stirrer? Ingredients: Grey Goose Vodka, lime, prosecco and St. Germain Elderflower.
We enjoyed this pre-dinner drink at an exquisite and beautiful hotel in Cork, Ireland.
#3. This stunning breakfast Benedict was created in Killarney, Ireland at The Malton Hotel. The Full Irish Breakfast – traditionally bacon, baked beans, tomatoes, Irish soda bread and black pudding – has now expanded to include more contemporary options. I could never say no to an Eggs Benedict – especially an Irish one. The sandwich includes turkey bacon, poached egg, chives and tomato relish (see here for how to poach eggs at home).
My next kitchen experiment: make-at-home Ballymaloe Country Relish, used on this sandwich. It is literally good on EVERYTHING! Stay tuned for the post.
#4. The city of Lisbon is made for people who lunch. I’m not talking about a quick bite, I’m talking about the unique talent of savoring each taste, taking time to order several petiscos (“small plates” in Portuguese), discussing the likes and dislikes of each one, starting with sangria and ending with wine. My foodie persona was in foodie heaven, especially as a Jolly foodie, which, by definition has perfected the art of lunching.
Our first day of Lisbon started with a lunch just like above at Carmo Restaurante & Bar. We sat outside in the sunshine, listened to someone play the guitar and enjoyed a relaxing four hours of lunching. All petiscos were delicious, but I was most impressed with the White Sangria based on the fact that they added cinnamon and mint. It was a comforting and fresh addition, with the cinnamon and mint added right before serving (trust me, I asked just for you).
#5. Ever since I lived in London, I’ve always said that Wagamama should open a location in the states, where our cities and towns love a good ramen. The great news is that they have three locations in Boston and are opening one in New York soon. New England followers, you must try this place out. Wagamama replicates the fast-paced environment of a Japanese ramen bar, allows you to sit on open-style tables and view the hustle and bustle of an expert ramen, omakase, teppanyaki, donburi and curry kitchen.
This Yasai Yaki Soba Teppanyaki made my life a happier place of fresh ingredients, comforting noodles and spicy ginger. Ingredients: Soba noodles with mushroom and vegetables, egg, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions, and garnished with fried shallots, picked ginger and sesame seeds.
#6. I made it my first priority to have Shepard’s Pie as soon as I arrived in Ireland, as it is the way to my heart. Our celebratory dinner after the ring was at a family owned restaurant, called Cronin’s Restaurant in quaint but vibrant and beautifully historic Killarney. We felt right at home in a cozy table where we toasted with Cronin’s own cider beer, shared a goat cheese app and completely indulged in their Shepard’s Pie.
As a food blogger, I wish I could tell you Cronin’s secret to the richest and tastiest gravy. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s more thick gravy than sauce? Regardless, I can’t wait to experiment in the kitchen and try to replicate for my next best comfort dish. Stay tuned!
#7. The warm German potato salad at Oktoberfest – I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life and be happy. While we were toasting our steins and singing as best we could (but especially when they sang, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”), I was asking for double seconds and attempting to take a photo without getting beer on my phone! Ingredients: potatoes, red onion, white vinegar, water, sugar, salt, pepper and chives, topped with radishes (I’ll be honest, I didn’t eat the radishes, the potatoes were just too good).
Oktoberfest is one of those events that you must do in your lifetime and will be the most fun you’ll have in one day. Make sure that you dress up in authentic wear (I bought my dirndl on eBay) and wear flat shoes, as you’ll most likely be standing on the benches. I got to experience the event with Elin, my sister and brother-in-law and the food, drink, celebratory ambience made it one of my fave parties to date.
#8. When in Portugal, drink wine! And visit a winery. Elin, Joe and I visited Adegamae Winery and I don’t think our trip would have been the same without it. We enjoyed a personal tour, views of the vineyard, and a full meal with wine tastings. Every bottle we tried was crisp and full from their Rose (which we took a bottle home!) to their Dory white: “Very intense aroma, notes of violets, plums and ripe fruit. Slight spice.”
Our Portuguese meal with our tasting consisted of cod cakes, prosciutto, goat cheese with a peppered border, marmalade and crackers. But my all time favorite was the desert with an unexpected ingredient: white beans. I would describe it as part flan, part creme brûlée with equal parts savory and sweet. I am having trouble finding a recipe, so if you know how to make Pasteis De Faijao, I will love you forever. Please let me know in comments!
#9. The city of London has the most diverse of restaurants. You can always find your traditional bangers and mash, but you can also find any other cuisine imaginable. The Shed is the farm-to-table, boutique-style restaurant that I never thought I’d find in London, complete with tractor-seat chairs, whiskey barrels as tables, and a seasonal signature cocktail. The menu has your choice of mouthfuls, cures, slow cooking, fast cooking and puds (like this Honeycomb Crunchie). My fave dish(es)? Mini mouthfuls: Mackerel Pate with Beetroot, Mushroom Marmite in an Eclair, Burnt Shallot Macaroon, and Nutbourne Pastrami with Horseradish.
#10. Please meet my new obsession: Pops Champagne popsicles. These fun-loving, adult frozen beverages are made by POPS in Britain and have a range of flavors from Naughty: Classic, Bellini, Moscow Mule and Nice: Strawberry & Mint, Apple & Eldeflower. The champagne popsicles themselves take on the champagne flavor and bubbly characteristic, which was what made them so fantastic.
I heard about POPS through my travels and knew that since I was visiting London, I had to have a champagne popsicle by any means imaginable. Luckily, I checked the stock list and the Sky Pod Bar at Sky Garden served light breakfast and drinks. I got a reservation for 9:45 am on Friday morning, as they book up very quickly (I realize this plan was for champagne at 10 in the morning, but what other way is there to spend vacay, right?). Elin and I enjoyed a popsicle each while soaking up the view of the city and walking the beautiful indoor gardens.
Hoping that you enjoyed my Europe food run down and you’ve found some inspiration for your next appetizer or trip abroad. Stay tuned for more recipes in the coming weeks, where I am planning on using components from these meal experiences. Opinions are my own.