Friday, May 29, 2009

Oviedo, Santander, and Bilbao

Sorry it's been a while since I have updated about our trip. There has been way too much tell it all! It's been a blast and tomorrow we spend our last night in Bilbao. I think Bilbao has been my favorite city in Spain so far. It's amazing here. Here are some pics of what Micah and I have been up to, of course most of them include food:)

Micah couldn't stop talking about getting fabada, a traditonal Asturian dish
made with beans, ham, chorizo, and blood sausage. I was a little
scared to try it especially when I heard there was blood sausage in it
but it was amazing!

Arroz con leche (rice pudding), a very popular Spanish dessert.
It was so delicious and the chocolate bowl it was served in was
equally as delicious.

Have any of you ever had kinder eggs? I pretty much think they are the
yummiest things ever! So you could imagine how happy I was when I saw
this kinder egg gelato. Kinder eggs with gelato-I knew this would be good-and it was!
Micah very excited to go into his favorite place in the world-Carrefour!
I must admit, this place is amazing. If you are a foodie it has everything
you could ever want. Especially if you have a sweet tooth and enjoy
fine European chocolate, this place has the best selection!

The French aren't the only ones who know a thing or two
about pastries-infact, these Spanish pastries which I have been
eating way too much of are probably the best I have ever had.
My favorites, the Palmeras dipped in chocolate and the napolitanas.
(Napolitanas are the second from the right on the bottom-the log shaped
pastries with chocolate in them and the palmeras
are the big heart shaped pastries)

A closer look at the napolitana...
I couldn't resist putting this photo up. I came acrossed this lovely
statue in Oviedo and the name of it was "The Maternity"
.....I am really hoping this isn't an accurate depiction!
Over looking the beautiful city of Bilbao, notice the Gugenheim to the
left of my head. Our hotel is right next to it, it's amazing!We have had a wonderful trip-even though there has been
a bit of drama with some sleepless nights, it is really
going to be hard to leave such a beautiful, fun, and delicious place.
Good thing we have one more day!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

From Hell to Heaven...meeting missionaries on the way...

We flew into Gijon yesterday and had reservations at the Hotel Castillo for three nights. We got to our hotel and it wasn't much to say the least. We were also not expecting much because it was only 44 Euros a night. I was fine with it, plus I knew it was only going to be for 3 nights, I could endure anything for just three nights right?? I couldn't have been more wrong. We decided to go to bed around 11:30, our room was super hot and humid, both of us tried to squeeze into one of the beds (our room had a twin bed and a bed that was a little smaller than a full), immediately we were tossing and turning. The bed had only one super long pillow-I would pull it and then he would pull it back. An immediate tug of war broke out over the pillow. The streets were very noisy, but I was sure it was going to die down any minute. Again, I couldn't have been more wrong. Our hotel was right by a few clubs along a very busy street. It was non stop yelling, laughing, screaming, and music all night! To top it off the other people in our hotel would run up and down the stairs as loud as possible, yelling, laughing and banging things. I think our door was literally only an 1/8 inch thick so I was expecting any minute for a bunch of drunk people to come kicking our door down, coming in our room and attacking us. Yes- I am paranoid, but I think anyone in our circumstance would have felt the same, Micah was even worried-and he never is! So....between the constant noise, heat, pillow tug of war, and paranoia of being attacked, it chalked up to be a pretty horrible night. I had a bit of a break down-ok a BIG break down, and expressed to my husband in a not so calm way that there was no way on earth I could take two more nights of this. I moved to the separate bed, we both took sleeping pills which semi knocked us out for a few hours (I say semi because I never stopped hearing the noise!) It was Hell. We got up the next morning, packed our things, cancelled the next two nights at the hotel and searched for another one. Now onto Heaven....

We found a hotel right by the beach in Gijon, we trecked quit a few miles wich seemed like a hundred, with our heavy back packs and suitcases, delirious from no sleep, my eyes still burning from crying all night, down the streets of Gijon to our hotel. I finally saw it, after an hour of walking, I saw our hotel. It was beautiful! We walked up to it when I turned my head and saw down the road two young men with black coats walking. I yelled to Micah who was ahead of me and said "I think I see missionaries!" Micah looked and saw two missionaries, walking the same exact streets he had walked a few years ago, doing the same exact thing that he had done for two years. We ran up to them and shouted "élderes!" They looked up and were shocked someone had shouted to them, shocked but excited. We ended up talking to them for quit a long time. One of the Elders was from Washington and the other was from Germany. It was really neat to see them. Micah was really excited to talk with them, they live in the same apartment complex that Micah did. It was really neat to see LDS missionaries walking the streets of Spain because I pictured Micah doing the same thing for two years. I grew to love my sweetheart even more in that moment:)

Seeing the missionaries lifted my spirits:) This is a long post already so I wont go into detail about our circumstances in our hotel now, but they are 100 times better than before! I don't think I have ever loved or enjoyed a hotel room ever before in my life! There are big towels, soft pillows, a king bed, and air conditioning!! It is HEAVEN! I am looking forward to a wonderful nights sleep:) ADIOS!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Day in Paris...

Micah and I have done a lot in the past couple of days! Unfortunately, I haven't been able to post before now because we haven't had free internet, and it was hard to find the time. We are now in Gijon and do have free internet! Thus, a very lenghty post with lots of pics:) The last couple days in Paris were really fun. We went to Ina Garten's favorite restaurant in Paris, Le Soleil. I had no idea what it would be like, all Ina said was that it is an "earthy French restaurant". As soon as I walked in I knew what she meant. It was very rustic and natural. Micah and I sat down and looked at the menu, there was nothing under 20 Euros! At this point we were committed-we were already seated and couldn't just get up and walk away! We decided this would be one of our splurges for food. Micah ordered the veal and I ordered the chicken. It was delicious, well worth the money. Before the food they served us bread with the biggest slab of buter I have ever seen! It was delicious. There is way too much for me to tell you all about, so hopefully the following pictures will help tell the rest of my stories. Micah and I are currently busy eating pastries and yummy candies in Spain, it is gorgeous here and I can't wait to share you pics of Spain soon!

You thought I was kidding about the butter didn't you?...

It was insane! And super yummy:)
Micah's veal, I loved how they plated everything-beautiful

My chicken-again-pesentation was amazing!
I couldn't leave Paris without going to Pierre Herme, look how
fun and colorful the store is!
Pierre Herme vs. Laduree: I couldn't wait to try a macaron from Pierre Herme
and compared it to Laduree. I got a caramel fleur de sel macaron from Pierre Herme,
it was delicious, texture was fabulous and the
filling thick and amazing! However...the winner of the best macaron is....

I also had to top the night off with one more pastry from Laduree,
this time a pistachio and strawberry pastry:)....ok AND a tarte au citron....yes I went a little over board
but when is the next time I will be in Paris?
Of course we visited the eifle tower, and just bare with the
kissing pic:) It is Paris-the most romantic place in the world!
I couldn't resist:)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Barefoot in Paris

Micah and I arrived in Paris today! We took a direct flight from SLC to Paris, only 9 hours!! It was such an awesome flight and I can’t believe we got here so quickly. I keep pinching myself to make sure I really am in Paris! It is so gorgeous here. It truly is a special city, especially for those of us who have a passion for the sweeter things in life☺ I can hardly wait to show you what I have been up to today! The first thing on my agenda was go to Laduree. I couldn’t stop thinking about it on the plane. There was one relatively close to our hotel so as soon as we checked in we were off. I think my heart skipped a beat when I saw the green Laduree canopy. The window displays were gorgeous. Micah and I got 6 different flavors of macarons (don’t worry, we will be back to try more!). We got vanilla, caramel fleur de sel, chocolate, pistachio, citrus, and raspberry. A luscious rose and raspberry pastry caught my eye so we got that too. It was a whopping 17 Euros for the macarons and the pastry-but it was worth it! The first macaron I decided to stink my teeth into was the vanilla; I couldn’t wait to taste for myself if the macarons of Laduree were all that they were cracked up to be. As soon as the flavors permeated my mouth, I was sold. It was literally one of the best things I have ever tasted. I was actually embarrassed because the macarons I make are sad compared to these masterpieces. My husband was also in heaven after trying it. Next we split the rose and raspberry pastry-let’s just say I thought I died and went to heaven as soon as I tasted it. How am I going to be able to go back to the states without these luscious pastries at my disposal? I guess I will have to deal, in the mean time I am going to scarf down as many pastries as I can this week!

One of the many gorgeous window displays at Laduree
The rose/raspberry pastry we got was the fourth one in
from the left, you can see it has a rose petal on the top mm
mmm....deilish...I might go and get another right now!

Holding proudly my first purchase from Laduree!Look at how gorgeous and perfect those macarons are...

Vanilla and caramel fleur de sel were my favorite

Not waisting any time with the pastry!

Ok so some of the macarons got crushed on their way over
to my hotel, but I wanted you to see the difference between
Laduree macarons and others. The top macaron (vanilla) which is not
crushed is from Laduree, and the bottom far right is from Gerard Mulot.
Ladurees are perfect-I just can't find anything wrong with them!

I read recently of a few of Ina Garten’s favorite spots in Paris. Of course I had to check them out. She said one of her favorite places to visit was Gerard Mulot, a delicious pastry and chocolate shop, which also has savory items like cheese and quiches. Micah and I got a few macarons to compare to the Laduree ones. They were good, but Laduree's are in a whole different league. Right down from Gerard Mulot is one of Ina’s favorite flower shops. The flowers were gorgeous. I wish I had a reason to buy 5 dozen of their roses because they were absolutely breathtaking.
Display at Gerard Mulot

Pastries at Gerard Mulot

One of Ina's favorite flower shops, and I can see why!

To top the night off Micah and I went to a restaurant right across the Luxemburg Gardens. Micah got chicken skewers and I got a delicious ravioli gratin with two different cheese and crème fraiche. It was delish! One of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. I am perfectly content with gaining 10 pounds this trip! With all of this delicious food somehow I think it’s worth it☺ Maybe I will take it easy tomorrow and have 4 macarons instead of 6, and maybe I will cut it down to just one LITTLE pastry….or maybe not☺ I will keep you updated on my daily adventures in this beautiful, romantic, and delicious city!

Enjoying my pasta...really enjoying my pasta! It was so delicious!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In honor of Pari....

Ok, so I can't begin to tell you guys how excited I am to have a macaron in Paris from Laduree! Is it wierd that this is the thing I am most excited for on my vacation? Wierd or not, I can't wait! Since I have been thinking about Paris, and macarons especially, I decided to make some of my own. Now, I wish I could make macarons as lovely as the Laduree ones...maybe one day. Even though these macarons aren't as appealing as Laduree's, they sure were delicious! Yes, I did pink macarons again-what can I say? I'm a pink girl:) But this time I made a coconut swiss merignue buttercream for the filling. It was delicious! I was eating it by the spoonfulls. I hope you guys have a chance to try them. Macarons really aren't that hard, I think they look more intimidating than they really are. So until I share with you some Laduree macarons, here are some of my yummy coconut macarons:)

My color is definitely not as vibrant as the laduree macarons,
next time I make them I will go heavier on the color.

Basic Macaron Recipe

3 egg whites or 100 g. weighed

50 gr. granulated sugar

200 gr. powdered sugar

110 gr. blanched almonds, whole or ground

1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue.
2. Combine the almonds and powdered sugar in a food processor and give them a quick pulse if you use already ground almonds. It will break the powdered sugar lumps and combine your almonds with it evenly. If you use whole almonds, pulse thoroughly for a minute or so.
3. Add them to the meringue, and start to give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flatten on its own, you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple more folds.
4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Let the macarons sit out for an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 10–12 minutes, depending on their size. Let them cool completely before filling.
6. Pipe or spoon some of your filling on one shell and sandwich with another one

Basic Swiss Meringue Buttercream

3 large egg whites, room temp
3/4 c. sugar
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces at room temp
flavorings of choice (for coconut buttercream use 1 tsp coconut extract)

In a large bowl combine egg whites and sugar. Set bowl over simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 on an instant read thermometer), about two minutes. Remove the bowl from the saucepan. Using an electric mixer on hgih speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluff, cooled to room temp, and holds stiff peaks, about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium low speed, add the salt and the butter a few pieces at a time, beating well after each additions. If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more. Add the flavorings of choice and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm back!

Hey everyone! Hubby and I returned last night from our wonderful trip in Orlando. It was fabulous! We had such a fun time but are happy to be home, however we won't be home for long. On Monday we fly to Paris! Yes, Paris! I am very excited! We are going to Paris and Spain for two weeks. Micah has always wanted to take me to the cities he lived at in Spain while he served a mission there for two years. His dream is coming true, and at the same time he is making mine come true! There is a direct flight to Paris that we are taking and we were going to just hop on a plane right to Spain but of course I had to beg to stay in Paris for at least a few days. So we are! Our hotel is right down the street from a Laduree and Piere Herme! I am so excited to eat Parisian macaroons from Lauderee! And I am excited to share pictures with all of you so even though I will be traveling I promise I will keep up with my posts. I woud have done a few posts in Florida except I forgot the cord that downloads pics on my lap top. So anyway here are some pictures of my trip! Of course most of them involve food:)

Also if any of you have ever been to Paris and have any favorite places to visit please let me know!

infront of cinderellas castle with my prince charming:)

My favorite ride was the Toy Story ride! It was such a blast
and it was in 3D! It was such a fun ride because you got a device where if you
pulled the string on it it shot our little balls that hit certain targets you
were aiming for. It gives you a final score at the end and I
beat Micah both times!

We ate one these mickey ice cream bars about
everyday. They were so good!
All Micah could talk about at the park was getting a turkey leg.
He was so excited when we found them!

The menu was very simple...
OK-some of you may think that this turkey leg looks delicious and some
may think that it looks disgusting. Micah thought it
was delicious, I thought it was disgusting!
It was so huge, he looked a bit barbaric walking around with it!ah the confectionary at Disney World! Now THIS is the
happiest place on earth!
I headed straight for the sour jelly bellys

My sister in law and I were like two kids
in a candy store...
We went a little overboard with the treats, but we couldn't
resist! We got some red velvet Disney Cupcakes, I was so
excited to try them but didn't have high hopes. But let me tell ya
they were delish! The frosting was amazing and they
were probably one of my favorite red velvet cupcakes
I have had, a little dry but the flavor was amazing.

Look at that thick frosting!...mmmm....

This was the balcony of our hotel room. The Gaylord Palms resort
was the coolest place. It was like we lived in a bubble with
it's own city!

And let me just indulge one last time with a pic of me and
my sweet heart, he is so darling and I am so glad
I was able to go on such a fun trip with him.