San Sebastián 2017

Back in 2013, we spent 2.5 weeks traveling Spain.  It was quite the trip…check it out HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE (2015) and HERE.  Our favorite destination was San Sebastián and little did we know that T would be coming back for work! This past trip was accompanied by great weather, lovely co-workers and some fantastic pintxos hopping.  T revisited some of our favorite pintxos bars and found some new ones.  Here are some of the highlights of the trip.

Continue reading “San Sebastián 2017”

Barcelona – El Born/ La Ribera Districts

 

Two years ago when we were in Barcelona we learned that El Born/ La Ribera was transforming into the new happening district. Having stayed in this area we got to explore and found it to be one of our favorite spots to dine, wine and play! This past trip we stayed at the W Barcelona for the night on our way back from Mallorca and spent most of our time in El Born/ La Ribera after a hot lap through the Mercat de La Boqueria. Continue reading “Barcelona – El Born/ La Ribera Districts”

Tastes of Mallorca

Mallorcan cuisine is just as beautiful as the scenery. Its fresh, flavorful and carefully prepared. We enjoyed eating dinners out and snacking during the day at the hotel and Nikki Beach. Here is our Mallorcan Food Story! Continue reading “Tastes of Mallorca”

Mallorca

So why did we pick Mallorca – why not? Mallorca is part of the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean known for its beach resorts and protected coves. The island sits off the coast of Spain (a 30 minute flight from Barcelona) and is a popular holiday destination for Europeans. Yes Europeans – not Americans…which makes it that much better! The island is actually bigger than we expected and has very different terrain. Flat land, mountains and fertile plains. If this place isn’t on your list of travel destinations…it will be after this post! (We hope!) Continue reading “Mallorca”

Seafood Paella

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T.W.O. spent last summer traveling around Spain and had some amazing paella.  Each city was different – from Madrid to San Sebastian to Barcelona and Sevilla – there was a spin on each dish.  Today we are featuring some of our favorite ingredients in a seafood paella.  It’s an great dish full of flavor, protein and culture – – when in España!


Seafood Paella

Ingredients:
– 1 tomato, diced
– ½ cup white wine
– ½ red onion, chopped
– 1 sweet onion, chopped
– 1 pound fresh rock fish
– 2 lbs fresh seafood miz (mussels, calamari, shrimp)
– ¼ cup olive oil
– 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 2 cup Arborio rice or bomba paella rice
– 2 teaspoon Spanish saffron threads
– 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 can artichoke hearts
– ½ cup lemon juice
– 2 cloves garlic
– 1 teaspoon sea salt
– ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
– 1 teaspoon Spanish pimento smoked paprika

Directions:
1. Heat the wine and ½ red onion and ½ sweet onion in a saucepan over high heat until it begins to bubble. Add the mussels and cover and cook for five minutes.
2 Remove from the heat; throw away any unopened mussels, and drain, reserving the liquid to use later in the recipe.
3. Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan (great if you have a paella pan.) Add the extra onion and garlic. Cook for five minutes, or until onions have softened.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes, artichokes, smoky paprika & cayenne pepper. Season with sea salt and pepper. Mix well.
5. Stir in the reserved liquid from the mussels, then add the rice and stir again. In a separate bowl, blend the saffron with the stock and stir into the rice mixture. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes without stirring.
6. Put the peas, seafood mixture and rock fish on top of the rice. Push them into the rice, cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, turning over halfway through, until the rice is cooked. Add the mussels & lemon juice for the last 5 minutes to heat through. If the rice is not cooked, add extra stock and cook for a few more minutes.
7. Allow to rest for 5 minutes prior to serving.


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¡Buen provecho!

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Hats Off to Traveling

If you haven’t already noticed, T.W.O. enjoys traveling.  And like most people, we usually get a souvenir  (well actually, we should say souvenirs) when we travel! One of those souvenirs has to be a hat. Yes – a hat.  It’s an item that we will wear the rest of our trip and get to bring it back home to the States.  Beach hat, winter hat, ball cap – doesn’t matter! Here are some of our favorite hats we got a long the way.

Costa Rica:

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The Caribbean:

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Lake McClure:

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Palm Springs/ Stagecoach:

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Tahoe:

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Angel Games:

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Italy:

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italy,germany 280Spain:

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Happy Travels!!!

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Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

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Four months ago, T.W.O. traveled to Spain and enjoyed pintxos daily. We felt nostalgic this past week and decided to re-create one of our favorite pintxos we had in Madrid- stuffed piquillo peppers! We ordered them at Lateral the first night in Madrid and loved them so much, we ordered them again on our last night of the trip! This pintxos dish is a great appetizer to serve at your next dinner party and can be prepared ahead of time so you can enjoy socializing with guests. Ole!

Ingredients 

-1 can of piquillo peppers
-0.5 lb ground beef or turkey
-1/2 cup of goat cheese*
-1 cup of Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup**
-1/4 cup of Greek yogurt
Crazy Salt
-Garlic Powder
-Pepper
-Chili Powder 

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*T.W.O. has also used cream cheese, which makes for a creamier mixture
**T.W.O. would suggest Trader Joe’s Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Soup

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a sauté pan, begin cooking the meat over medium heat. Season with salt, garlic powder, pepper and chili powder.

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While meat is cooking, take the peppers out of the jar and separate. Pour the soup into a sauce pan and heat up. Add the Greek yogurt and reduce heat to low.

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Once the meat is cooked, drain some of the grease. Don’t drain all of it for you don’t want the meat to be dry.

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While the meat is still hot, add in your goat cheese or cream cheese and mix. Stuff the peppers individually with the meat and place into a Pyrex.

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Once all the peppers are stuffed, pour the soup mixture over the peppers.

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Place into oven and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow the peppers to sit for about 3-5 minutes before serving. Then it is time to enjoy some pintxos!!

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Sevilla

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Sevilla is the capital and largest city of Andalusia, which is located in the southern part of Spain. The locals would describe it as a city of “passion.” With narrow, winding streets, this romantic city has heritage of art and architecture. In T.W.O.’s eyes, the traditional Spanish culture that was envisioned prior to the trip was depicted in Sevilla. During the summer months, the town is less populated because of the hot weather. 99.9% of the stores close at 2PM for the traditional siesta so they could rest and get out of the heat. The most popular time to visit this town is in March/ April when the weather is more manageable. T.W.O. enjoyed their time in Sevilla-we just wish it was a tad bit cooler!

Getting There

T.W.O. hopped on a jet plane in Barcelona and made their way to Sevilla. The flight was a little less than 2 hours…a hop, skip and a jump!

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Accommodations

T.W.O. stayed at the Hotel Casa de Santa Cruz located in the Santa Cruz district. This was the “walking district” of the city. The hotel encompassed a traditional Spanish theme….textiles galore! The rooms were clean and the hotel staff was very helpful. There was a bottle of cava waiting for T.W.O.’s arrival in the room…Cheers! Highly recommended hotel!

Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Sevilla Cathedral)

Catedral de Santa María is the largest Gothic cathedral and the 3rd largest church in the world. It was located near Hotel Casa de Santa Cruz, so T.W.O. was able to walk by this iconic church a couple times a day.

Plaza de España

Plaza de España is located in Parque de María Luisa and was built as an example of the Renaissance Revival style in Spanish architecture. The semi-circle building is filled with tiled fountains, brick, exploration stories and a river. While T.W.O. was exploring the historical plaza, a commercial was being filmed. They asked us to be in it, but we had to decline…

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Casa de La Guitarra

Casa de La Guitarra is located in the Santa Cruz district and is a small, quant place to watch a flamenco show. It was a good thing that T.W.O.’s hotel made reservations for us because we received VIP seats….front row. Doesn’t get any better than that! The experience was amazing watching the guitarist play, while a gentleman sang and clapped and stomped his feet to create a beat. The flamenco dancer was passionate and eloquent. This is a must do while in Sevilla!

Gusto Ristobar

Located near the Cathedral, T.W.O. stumbled upon this ristobar while looking for a snack. The pizza slices in the window caught our eye! It wasn’t your traditional American slice though; it was a fluffy bready-square topped with cheese and fresh vegetables. Yum! T.W.O. made friends with the waiters who treated us like royalty. Who wouldn’t like that? The fresh salads and the ice cream bars kept calling T.W.O.’s name, so we went back a couple times! Definitely stop by and enjoy the atmosphere of Gusto!

Bar La Terraza (@ EME Hotel)

Little did T.W.O. know, but this hotel had one of the best rooftop views in town. After dinner one night, T.W.O. decided to check out this boutique hotel since there was a lot of activity outside of it and we heard music. After riding the elevator up to the roof, T.W.O. was pleasantly surprised to see that this was the place to be since it had the best views of the Cathedral. The atmosphere was lively and the music was even better. Cheers!

Night Strolls

T.W.O. enjoyed their night strolls in Sevilla. The weather was perfect, people were out and the gelato was plentiful!

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Barcelona

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Next stop, Barcelona!! This city is the second largest city in Spain and capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Barcelona is located on the northeastern coast of the country, situated on the Mediterranean Sea.  It is seen as a modern, but yet very old city where the new elements work to preserve and celebrate the ancient.  T.W.O. enjoyed Barcelona very much and would highly recommend that this city be put on your “list of travels.”

Accommodations

T.W.O. stayed at the H10 Montcada Boutique Hotel, located in the “el Barrio Gótico,” next to the “El Born” zone.  The hotel was clean, modern, and the staff was very pleasant and helpful. Upon arrival, T.W.O. was offered glasses of cava and complimentary drink coupons for the rooftop bar.  T.W.O. definitely spent many evenings on the rooftop bar/lounge to enjoy the amazing views, wine, snacks and company. It was a great spot to write in the T.W.O. journal as well!  T.W.O. was able to walk to many places from this hotel, which was very convenient. T.W.O. would highly recommend staying at the H10 Montcada hotel if you are planning a trip to Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia

A tour of La Sagrada Familia is a must, if you are visiting Barcelona. This famous Basilica was designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and is actually still being built. The expected completion date is 2026 as long as the donations continue to be made from private entities, including visitors.  The style of the Basilica is considered to be a combination of Spanish late Gothic, Catalan Modernism and to Art Nouveau. T.W.O.  highly suggests purchasing tickets online prior to your visit and book the audio and tower tours. It just makes the experience that much better!

 

Parc Güell

Situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gracia district of Barcelona, Parc Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements designed by Antonia Gaudi. It is one of the largest architectural works in South Europe. Seeing that it is situated outskirts of the city, T.W.O. took the metro. On the way, T.W.O. picked up bread, cheese, turkey, and wine to enjoy during their visit to the garden. (Best idea ever!) Parc Güell is filled with many interesting architectural pieces and sculptures that depict the type Gaudi work. It has magnificent views as it overlooks the entire city to the ocean.

 

 Beach

T.W.O. spent every afternoon at the beach in Barcelona. After a long day of walking and site seeing, relaxing on the beach was key. The beach was filled with a variety of people- from locals to tourists to even “secret” vendors. The water was warm, but not as warm as it was in San Sebastian. “Beachin’ it in Barcelona” is a must!

 

  Restaurants

T.W.O. enjoyed some fabulous dinners in Barcelona. From tapas to paella, the food was gastronomical.

Ria de Vigo

Ria de Vigo is a great restaurant for its views and paella. T.W.O. wanted to at least eat one dinner overlooking the beach with some delicious paella and Ria de Vigo was perfect for it. T.W.O. ordered manchego cheese, the famous “Pan de Tomato” and seafood paella. And yes, T.W.O. was stuffed after this meal, so they walked back to the hotel.

 

Tapeo

This tapas bar is a must if you visit Barcelona. T.W.O. stumbled upon this place one night and thought they would give it a try. Little did they know that the food was amazing and is rated to be one of the best tapas bars in Barcelona. T.W.O. ordered burrata cheese with tomato and basil, padrón peppers, and skirt steak with a garlic cream chimichurri sauce. Wow. It was one of the most gastronomical dishes T.W.O. had during their Spain trip.

Happy Traveling!

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Biarritz

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France for the day?  Why not!?! T.W.O. took a day trip from San Sebastian to Biarritz to check out Europe’s Surf Capital.  This luxurious French beachtown is about forty-five minutes from the border of Spain and is located on the Bay of Biscay.  Biarritz is filled with tourists and surfers of all ages.  Here are some of the highlights of T.W.O.’s quick visit!

Transportation

T.W.O. took the Alsa bus from San Sebastian to Biarritz.  It was a great way to see all the small towns and experience “crossing the border” from Spain to France.  As soon as we crossed the border into France, the bus stopped and the French police came on board to check our passports. Good thing T.W.O. brought those with us!!!  En route, we saw the French coastline, two different campsites filled with retro looking trailers, beaches, bakeries, road bikers and a bountiful of hydrangea plants.

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City of Biarritz

Biarritz is a great place to shop, eat and go to the beach.  T.W.O. strolled around the city, stopping in stores along the way and bought linen snow-leopard scarves to keep warm.  It was overcast in the morning and the summer attire T.W.O. was wearing was not doing it for them.  FRENCH SOUVONIEUR…CHECK!  T.W.O. noticed that a lot of people didn’t speak English and T.W.O. doesn’t speak French, so there was some communication issues.  Au revoir, not hasta luego! Just kidding….T.W.O. got the feeling that people didn’t want to give them the time of day sinceT.W.O. was not speaking French.  Other than that, T.W.O.‘s France experience was great!

Farmers Market

T.W.O. stumbled upon a framers market in the center of town.   The market was divided into two sections: one section with fresh produce stores and bakeries and the other section with fish and meat stores.  The fish and meat side was smelly, so T.W.O. spent less time there! Farmers markets in different countries are so amazing.  The produce, baked goods and deli selection are very different from what you would find in the US. The cheese display in Biarritz was plentiful and it was hard to walk away from the sample section.  T.W.O. probably ate about ½ pound of cheese in 20 minutes.  Any opportunity T.W.O. gets to go to a farmers market, even if it is just to look around, T.W.O. will go out of their way to make the trek.

Lunch

Fresh Salads and a view! After about 2 hours, T.W.O. finally found a restaurant that had an English menu and a great view.  (Good things take time, right?)

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Beach

The beach in Biarritz was filled with travelers from all over the world.  T.W.O.  met some new friends from Scotland.  They travel to Biarritz every year for a long weekend to enjoy the serenity and small beach town atmosphere.  The water was on the colder side, but refreshing to cool T.W.O.  down from the hot sun.  Yes – the clouds burned off and T.W.O.  was able to get their tan on!

The Famous Farmers Market Tote

T.W.O. was in search for the perfect farmers market tote and the mission was accomplished in Biarritz.  Down the street from the farmers market, there was a cooking supply store (like a Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, etc.)  that had a ton of the market totes stacked up in all different sizes and colors.  Once calmed down from the excitement, T.W.O. happily purchased the tote that was dreamt about for months. (More on this tote in a future post.)

You can’t go to France without getting a baguette and pastry, so T.W.O. ended the day trip with these two things.  T.W.O.enjoyed their snacks in a small park, while waiting for the bus back to San Sebastian.

Au Revoir Biarritz!!!

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