Best Meal, Estonia

If you’ve been following this blog for any amount of time, you know how I feel about food.  Food is one of my very favorite things.  You may have also picked up on my love for Estonia.  So I wanted to write a quick blurb about a great meal that I had at a great restaurant in Tallinn.  That it was my going away meal, is poignant.  Continue reading “Best Meal, Estonia”

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Rehoboth Beach, USA

I’ve had a bit of an extended break from blogging, as I packed up my life in Korea, sat on my suitcases, in hopes that they would actually zip- and moved back to America.  I’ve been home for a few weeks now, and, though I have some things I would still like to write about in Korea, I think I’d like to start writing what I’ve been doing around America.

First stop?  Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.  My mom and I have been going to Rehoboth every summer since I was a little kid.  It was really nice to head back to the beach this year.

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Perhaps you’re thinking- ‘but wait.  She hates hot weather, and sun….’ Well, I also dislike sand… and pretty much the beach in general. But, I like to see it.  And hear it.  And eat ice cream. And walk along the boardwalk and smell the beachy air.  I’m just not really a fan of sitting on the actual beach.

I really like Rehoboth because there are tons of shops and cafes and restaurants around the beach area, in easy walking distance.  One of our favorite places is Nicola’s Pizza Shop.

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Home of the Nic-o-boli, which is a delicious heap of meat and cheese wrapped in pizza dough.  It always on the list of places to stop, and has been a neighborhood institution for basically ever.  And rightfully so.  And, as an added bonus- they are really on top of drink refills.  You will never be thirsty.

My favorite place to check out (Since I am unbelievably cool) is the bookstore.  Browseabout Books is a great independent bookstore, which has everything you dream of in a bookstore.  A great selection of new and used books.  Friendly staff, and lots of staff recommendations, an entire section of the store selling house things and nick knacks, and a cafe.  Basically, all that and a bag of chips.

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They also host book signings, and other events.  I think if I lived in the area, they would see me ALL the time.  It’s just such a great atmosphere. Another place that would see too much of me-

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Dolle’s Candyland is another institution.  Located directly on the boardwalk, they sell all sorts of candy, but are famous for their delicious salt water taffy.  Nothing says beach like salt water taffy.  Directly across the street from Dolle’s is the Ice Cream Store.

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The Ice Cream Store has hundreds homemade flavors.  And I can’t tell you all of them are great… but I can tell you all the ones I tried were phenomenal.  They have wacky flavors like ‘creamy ranch’ and ‘motor oil’.  They even have a ghost pepper ice cream that you have to sign a waiver before eating.  I got a Samoa ice cream.  And I can say without hesitation- if you have ever loved Samoa girl scout cookies- this tasted exactly right.  It was beyond amazing.  We also tried the ‘buttery salted caramel’ which was less girl scout-y, but just as amazing.

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Shopping in Rehoboth is so much fun, because it’s filled with fun little side streets and alleys, lined with independent boutiques, shops, galleries, and cafes.  This picture is of ‘Penny Lane,’ my favorite such side street.

One of my very favorite things to do in Delaware is all-you-can-eat steamed crab.

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It’s pretty much the perfect meal.  Corn, a bucket of steamed clams, a bottle of Yuengling, and a tray full of steamed blue crabs, coated in Old Bay seasoning.  Not only are they delicious, they’re also incredibly fun to eat, even if it is a lot of work for very little crab.  But any place that gives me a mallet as an eating utensil, is a good place in my book.

Now, in a pretty impressive change of pace for me, on this trip, I actually got up early, and dragged myself down to the beach to take some pictures of the sunrise.

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Due to some windy weather/ Atlantic hurricanes, the water was pretty choppy.  Much bigger waves than I was used to seeing at this beach, and a rip current that made swimming very unsafe.  No one was allowed in the water for the entire time I was there.  Lovely for me, as I wasn’t going in the water anyway, but loved seeing the waves.

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So, now I’m off to upstate New York, and then over to Chicago before heading south.  Hoping to be in Central America in about 3 weeks.  Excited for the next trip!

Beesket, Korea

Just a quick blurb about one of my new(ish) favorite things in Korea.  I have never been much of a juice bar girl.  And though I do love a good smoothie, my aversion to bananas usually severely limits my fruity drink choices.  Enter Beesket.  A new juice bar that opened in the mall near my city.  I love it.

At Beesket, you start out with a little honeycomb type thing.

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You can choose three flavors for your drink from the huge selection of choices.  Just pick your three flavor pieces and stick them in your honeycomb and give it to the barista. (Are they still barista’s if it’s a juice bar?)  Pictured above are strawberry, raspberry, grape and apple, lemon, blueberry.  There were many fruits and vegetables available, from apple and orange to kale or carrot.

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Watching them make your juice, you can see them grabbing fruit, cutting it up, and throwing it in a blender.  It was wonderfully fresh and natural.

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When you finally receive your juice, it comes with a little tag, telling you not only the calorie and vitamin content of your specific drink, but also giving you a space to rate it, so the next time you come you can remember how much you loved that one, or maybe try a different flavor.  I had double-pear raspberry and it was delicious.

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My friend had a blueberry, kale, mango juice.  She said it was good.  I said it was green, and therefore I was skeptical.  They sure did shove a lot of kale in that blender.  So I suppose, at least, it was healthy.

Update!  So, I’ve just been back to Beesket, and they have changed their fruit selections, I assume seasonally-

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With all these new delicious options I changed it up and had a peach cherry pineapple drink.  It was delicious, but I thought it would be pink-er.

 

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As I started drinking it, though, I fell in love.  And the fact that it wasn’t artificially colored made me feel super healthy.

Honey Butter, Korea

To say that honey butter chips are popular in Korea is a gross understatement.  Honey Butter chips have been around for a while now, nearly a year.  But it is still almost impossible to buy them.  At one point there was a black market for the chips, and you can still find them on Ebay for at least 5 times the original price.  The “honey butter chip” has become the unicorn of Korean snacks.  Luckily for honey butter fans, the chips have created a multitude of honey butter (or just honey) flavored snacks.  Seriously, everyone better start protecting the bees, because I’m not sure what will happen to Korean snacks if there is a serious honey shortage.

Honey butter snacks range from the expected to, what I consider, the bizarre.  You can get many things honey/butter flavored; honey lattes, honey butter fried pork, honey everything.  Here are a selection of options from my town.

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Honey Butter bagel chips?  Probably delicious!

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Honey Butter dried squid?  Maybe not so delicious.  (I’m not a fan of dried squid in general, however.) And in case you thought that was a one off- wpid-20150626_203538.jpg

There are, in fact, multiple brands of honey butter squid available.  Yumm.

Here’s a selection of three different kinds of honey snack.  All of them varying degrees of deliciousness.  None of which come close to the actual honey butter chips (in my opinion)  I mistakenly bought both the honey tong tong and the honey butter potato snack, thinking they were honey butter chips. Sorely disappointed.  But that’s what you get for not paying attention to what you’re buying.

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Honey churro popcorn is one of my new favorite things in life.  Honey shower popcorn- also good.  But lacks the cinnamon-y delicious flavor of the honey churro.

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An assortment of honey butter nuts.  Not sure if it’s just me- but honey butter macadamia nuts sound amazing.  Unfortunately, at almost ten dollars a bag, I wasn’t about to find out.

 

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Honey egg bread.  (Not to be confused with the British Eggy Bread) (This is a picture of the plastic display food… but it pretty much looked like that.  Kind of a grilled cheese egg sandwich made with honey butter on the outside for the grilling.)

 

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My personal favorite: honey cheese ramen noodles.  Caution: when opened, the noodle bowl contains a foil packet of powder and a clear plastic packet of (what I thought was) honey.  Again, with the not paying attention!  So I decided to use half of the cheese powder packet, and all of the honey packet… (you know me: healthy healthy- trying to cut the sodium.)  Now, the ‘honey’ packet was CLEARLY labeled “Jalapeno Oil”  and the front of the package also clearly says 할라피뇨 (jalapeno) But me with the paying attention- I dumped it in.  Holy cow!  It’s really intense if you use all the oil and very little of the honey cheese.  So now I use the honey cheese packet, and forego the jalapeno oil all together.  They’re pretty good noodles though.

 

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If all the snacks are making you thirsty, but you don’t want to give up your honey taste- don’t fear! There are honey based drinks as well, more than just the honey lattes.  These juices are delicious. The iced honey tastes like… well, cold honey.  I thought the honey orange pineapple was WAY too sweet.  But I mixed it with some sparkling water, and it was pretty good!

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And this would be where I would post a photo of the honey butter chips that started it all.  But seriously, they are no where to be found.  I’ve only ever been able to buy one bag of them, and it was months ago.  In bribing a student to study, one of my coteachers offered a student honey butter chips if he got a good grade on his mid term test.  She had to go several hours away to find a bag.  There is a high end import shop on the first floor of my school building.  They had honey butter chips once- but there was a waiting list for them, so you couldn’t just rock up and buy a bag.

I will, however, leave you with what I consider the best honey butter chip incarnation that I have seen in Korea- honey butter chip socks!

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Candy Kitchen, USA

Megabus has come to America.  I first took Megabus while I was in the UK.  What a cheap and easy way to get around.  The crowning achievement of my European travel was the 4pound but ticket from London to Amsterdam.  But now, Megabus has given me cheap travel options to get around the US while I am here visiting friends and family.  Truthfully, Megabus has been around for awhile.  But it has greatly expanded since last time I was in the states.  And now I have a way to get from Chicago, IL to Orlando, FL for less than $40.  And I got to stop in Nashville.

I try to go to at least one new city each time I am back in the states.  Last trip back I went to Seattle for the first time.  This time, I went to Nashville.  Nashville is a place that I had always been interested in, even though I don’t have a deep love of country music.  Or, really, any love of country music.  I’ve always thought it seemed like a cool place to be.  I like music, and thought I would like the city, even if it wasn’t my style.  So.  I went anyway, excited to experience something new at the very least.  And of all the things I saw, I have to say, I fell in love with Savannah’s Candy Kitchen.  It is a fat kid’s dream.

DSC07760The sign outside pulls you in.  What are these delicious things?  And does ‘try’ mean free samples…  because it sounds like there could be some free samples.  In I went.

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As soon as you walk in, you’re overwhelmed with the array of candy that is available.  You see the workshop/kitchen area, where they’re actually making it all, and then case after case of more sugar than can be safely consumed by a busload of teenagers.  White chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, various kinds of bark…

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And chocolate and caramel apples that were something to write home about.  They were massive, and covered in layer after layer of chocolate and caramel.  There were some with nuts as well.  And even some plain candy apples, (though the candy coating was about an inch thick on the apple.

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There were turtle-y things, and pralines, and caramel nut clusters, and a peanut butter cup bigger than I had ever seen before in my life.  They had an ice cream counter, and retro candies.  There was a wall of scoop-your-own-mix candies.  It was a candy explosion, but the reason it became such a highlight for me was the quality.  They made things there, they were fresh and delicious, and the people that worked there were nice to boot.

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I ended up deciding to try a praline.  Mostly because I realized that I had never had a praline outside of pecan praline ice cream.  I don’t think I had ever even seen just a plain praline before.  I definitely had no idea what it was made out of.  Sugar and some type of nut?  That was my guess.  And that sounded delicious.  So, I bought one to try.

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It didn’t look like the most appetizing of all the things in there.  But my goodness it was yummy.  And really sweet.  It seriously took me two days to eat it.  So if you’re traveling in Georgia, or Nashville TN, and you see a Savannah’s candy kitchen… stop in and have a look.  (p.s.  yes!  there are free samples!)

 

 

 

I Love, The Netherlands

Alrighty Ireland… you’ve got some competition for my favorite European country.  The Netherlands pretty much blew my mind for the last three weeks.  Reasons why it’s awesome:
Great cheese.  To know me, is to know my love of cheese.  And boy is the Dutch gouda fabulous.  And it’s everywhere.  Cheese shops sell dozens of varieties, supermarkets too.  A toastie is ridiculously cheap most places, and you can get a kaassouffle right out of the FEBO machine.  Delicious.

Cycling.  Being in the Netherlands made me think to myself, ‘wow, cycling is great.  I’m definitely getting a bike when I move back home, and that’s how I’ll get around.  It’ll be fabulous.’  And then reality sets in.  Cycling is awesome in the Netherlands because everyone does it.  And there are full on seperate lanes for cyclists.  Back home, I’ll have to deal with traffic, and avoid getting run over.  I was so fun to bike all over though.  Only downside?  As a pedestrian, I was nearly run over by cyclists several times, one simply cannot cross the road in Utrecht.  When I cross the road, I automatically think I am on the sidewalk… but in the Netherlands, I am now standing in the middle of the bike path.  And they go fast.  The little brrrring brrrrring chime of the bike bell makes me jump out of the way… even in my sleep.

Great shopping. Super cute little funky stores line the streets of the shopping districts.  Chock full of interesing and unique items such as voodoo doll kitchen knife holders, and giant lego stacking shelves, walls of incense, tons of recycled products, and just about the cutest housewares anyone could want.  Add to that the abundance of great restaurants of all kinds, and you’ve got yourself a party.

Speaking of food.  I woukd like to pause for a moment to acknowledge one food item, that may in fact outrank everything else that I love about the Netherlands-  ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about the stroopwafel.  Two thin waffels, filled with a caramel syrup.  Absolutely delicious.  They can be purchased just about anywhere, but my personal favorite would be getting a fresh super stroopwafel at one of the Netherlands many many farmers markets.  Still warm.

Flowers.  Now, I know I have already dedicated an article to Keukenhof, but I want to talk more locally.  Buying flowers in the Netherlands was beyond amazing.  Beautiful bouquets of flowers were almost ridiculously inexpensive.  A person can get a bouquet of tulips in the Netherlands for the same price as a person buying a bouquet of mangy looking wildflowers that look like they were cut from the side of a highway somewhere, in France.  And you can buy them everywhere.  Truth be told, I was there for three weeks in the middle of tulip season.

Attractive and genuinely nice people.  When they say ‘have a nice day!’ as you’re leaving a shop, there’s just something in their voice, and the look in their eye, that tells you they actually mean it.  It isn’t just an empty phrase.  Also, I met up wit a couch surfing group in Utrecht, and every person was so nice and inclusive.  It was a great night.

So.  I love the Netherlands.  And I am so happy that I came to visit, because originally it was not in the plan.  Also, I realized when I got there that my brain had seriously confused Dutch and Danish, so at least I’ve got that straightened out now!