When Two Become One

For those who might not know I went to Spain the fall of my junior year to study in Madrid. They were some of the best and most challenging months of my life as I learned how to live on my own in a foreign country. One of the biggest perks was an ample amount of free time that I could fill at my leisure. I’m one of those people who simply cannot stand still. For that reason, I went on random trips, explored new neighborhoods and took part it traditions I never even knew existed. To keep up with friends and family I kept a very steady blog entitled “Lessons from Espana.” Good news is, I finally took the time to merge that blog with this one (which I had started before venturing overseas). If you’re curious and have some time to peruse, the blog posts from Spain start here at the very end of August 2009 and last until I came home for the holidays in December.

Either way, I’m happy to know I now have some of my favorite adventures consolidated into one!

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Must Eats from Danyelle Freeman’s Try This

Every now and then I find myself reading a blog, magazine article or book and feel like I can really relate to the author. When I started Danyelle Freeman aka Restaurant Girl‘s book Try This I instantly felt a connection after only reading the introduction. Whether you are a die-hard foodie (by the way, I really don’t like this word- if you have an alternative please let me know) or someone just looking to explore new tastes, this is for you.

With chapters divided by types of cuisines, Freeman recounts her own experiences at different restaurants around the world and offers recommendations of new dishes you need to try but never have because of pure unfamiliarity or timidness. I read it all in just a couple of days but you can bet I will revisit multiple chapters before dining out again. Even so, here is one dish from each type of food she explored that are on my must-try list at my next meal. I’ve also picked out a restaurant here in Miami that should be serving just that! Trust me, picking just one was a near-impossible feat.

1. British: Chips from a gastropub- a thick-cut English version of fries usually fried not once, but twice in duck or beef fat. I’ve had “fish and chips” before but nothing like this. Elwoods Gastro Pub

2. Chinese: Soup dumplings typical of Shanghai cuisine. Yes, that is soupy broth contained in a dumpling. How do they do that? Tropical Chinese Restaurant

3. Cuban: A Medianoche- a Cubano sandwich made with sweet egg bread instead of a crusty Cuban roll. La Carreta

4. French: This chapter really had my mouth watering and fine French food is definitely something I need to explore. To start? I feel like the classic steak au poivre is the way to go. Petit Rouge

5. Greek: Any and all meze- the Greek version of tapas that were created to compliment wine and be shared with a group. Tasty examples are scordalia, a thick potato puree loaded with garlic served alongside beets, tarasmolata, tzatziki and cheese. Maria’s

6. Indian: Not naan but a paratha which is a layered roti (pure, unleaved Indian flatbread cooked on a griddle) stuffed with paneer, a delicious Indian cheese. Bombay Darbar

7. Italian: I want to eat a “real” Italian meal from start to finish. That would begin with an apertif, followed by an antipasti, a primo course of pasta, a secondo main course of osso busco, a formaggio cheese course (yes before dessert), and then the dolce (maybe of panna cotta?). Fratelli Milano

8. Japanese: Omakase. Sit down and the expert sushi chef creates whatever he wants for you. No choices or substitutions about it. For someone who will eat everything like myself, I can’t imagine anything more enticing. NAOE

9. Korean: Hot and cold, spicy and sour, creamy and acidic banchan- there are over 150 kinds of banchan that are served on the side of Korean meals. Kimchi is the most common but there’s also bean sprouts, sesame-seed-spackled spinach in soy sauce and seaweed. Dishes (like the dolsot bibimbap that I need to try) can come with anywhere from two to twelve. Sushi Cafe & Shilla Korean

10: Mexican: My absolute favorite type of food. I’ve had mole sauce before but she made me want to eat more after I learned all about it’s complexity. For something completely new? I now have sope on my radar. El Carnal 2

11. Middle Eastern: Turkish lahmacun pide- a long, thin flatbread shaped like a banana that is paved with moist minced lamb, herbs and chopped vegetables. Pasha’s

12. Spanish: After living in Spain I fell in love with trying new dishes, a lot of which she covers in the book. But something I’ve yet to try? Squid ink fiedua- pasta made in a paella pan so that the noodles get nice and toasty, this one is black as it’s squid ink-stained. Casa Juancho

13. Thai: Salad where green lettuce is replaced with green papaya and tossed with roasted peanuts, dried shrimp, tomatoes, long beans, garlic and bird’s-eye chiles. Panya Thai

14: Vietnamese: Bun noodles piled with grilled meats, atop a heap of fresh herbs, cucumbers, bean sprouts, lettuce and fish sauce. You toss it all together with the chopsticks and go to town. Miss Saigon Bistro

Next on my reading list? Chef Grant Achtaz’s memoir Life, on the Line. I can’t seem to put down food lit!