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Archive for November, 2010

Amsterdam Round 2

Although it didn’t really feel like your typical holiday, Thanksgiving in Amsterdam was a dream.

With the Dutch architecture and culture that I’m starting to fall so deeply in love with and the company of Pablo Suave by my side, I returned to Madrid yesterday morning a bit teary-eyed to leave it all behind.

I didn’t take too many pictures this trip. I was too busy making memories than to catch it all on film but, lucky for you, I did manage to catch some of the best meals we had. After all, have we forgotten that this blog originated as a “food blog?”

Thursday evening I landed safe and sound in the Schiphol airport with ze boyfriend awaiting my arrival. Dinner that night was a traditional Dutch dish made by Pablo Suave’s roomie that consisted of mashed potatoes, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and olives all mixed together into a giant mush-ball that was quite delicious. There was also some salad, goat cheese, nutty bread and wine to accompany the dinner. I didn’t snag a picture of the feast but I can assure you, it was quite lekker (delicious in Dutch ;)) and I might try and make my own version of it when I return home (with complete posted recipe this time of course).

Friday morning Pablo Suave had to go to work so it ended up being a day  for Anna to take on Amsterdam. I ventured out into the cold (and with the help of a tram and some very friendly Dutch citizens with perfect directional skills) to Museumplein to buy some souvenirs, gifts and other little things for friends back home. I also stumbled upon the Rijks museum and decided a little Rembrandt-viewing would be necessary that day.

The Rembrandt exhibit was lovely, but I especially appreciated all of the other art mediums that I did not expect to find there. For instance, a giant, hand-made replica of a Dutch battleship built from wood, which included each detail of the original ship from the sails to the stern to the windows. It was magnificent. There was also a small collection of antique Dutch dollhouses that were each roughly the size of an armoire. Each room of the dollhouse captured an image of the past, complete with mini-stoves, dining ware, bathrooms, bedrooms, baby cribs. It was so intricate and beautifully-architected that it inspired me to create one myself one day. Just another oddity to add to the bucket list, right below “ride an elephant in Thailand, “go raw-vegan for a month” and “attend yoga retreat in India.”

Who says a bucket list is unattainable, right?

Lunch on Friday was a “Sandwich a lá chevre” compliments of my personal chef and Dutch-language professor, Pablo Suave.

How to make a delicious and nutritious goat cheese sammy:

Step 1. Cut a chunk of nutty, grainy baguette bread. Heat in oven if preferred.

Step 2. Stuff with arugula/spinach leaves/mixed greens (whateva you like) and goat cheese. Add tomatoes and other veggies if desired.

Step 3. Top sammy with a handful of walnuts

Step 4. Drizzle honey or balsamic glaze on top

Step 5. Enjoy with vigor

Voila

Other events on the Amsterdam agenda consisted of a visit to the Van Gogh museum (swooon! I love me some art), a sushi dinner with some of Mr. Suave’s colleagues followed by a 1990’s music dance-off in a nearby club. Hellz yea! Then there was the trip to the beach where it started snowing (trés romantique) with some fresh mint tea-sipping and Dutch “fish n’ chips” munching by candlelight and then…

Lasagna and Prosecco dinner. Jum jum jum.

Pablo Suave (being the incredibly handsome host that he is) whipped this little number up for the two of us my last night in Am’dam. It was his very first all-vegetarian creation and I gave it two thumbs up…way up!

This ooey gooey scrumptious thang was simply made with a mix of spinach and sauteed mushrooms for the filling, a robust, red pasta sauce and lasagna pasta all layered with a blanket of cheese on top.

Now, I may be giving this lasagna a run for its money when I am in Rome this Thursday but the fact that it was specially made for me by my schatje made it that much better. Suave, don’t be so modest.

The next morning my alarm clock went off at 5:45 am. I still cringe just thinking about it. For no living being should be awake at that hour, unless they are just going to bed.

I hurriedly packed my things and went to put on my boots where I found this little gem…

chocolate!

Apparently, Sinterklaas (the Dutch version of Santa) visited me early in Amsterdam this year to put a little sweet something in mah boots! How about that ;).

Now, I am back in the land of Paella and Flamenco and getting ready for yet another trip to the land of pasta and Formaggio. Oh Rome, how I cannot wait to be with you again! It’s been 5 long years since my last trip to Italy and my mouth is watering just thinking of all the amazing food coming my way. Better bring the elasto-pants this time around.

And on to the next one…

xoxo

MM

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Good evening pumpkin pies!!!

It’s almost that time of year. I think I can smell the spiced apple cider and roasting turkey tofurkey wafting all the way over here across the pond.

*sigh*

For the first time in my whole 21 years of life I will officially be missing out on perhaps my favorite holiday of all-time (it’s a cross between T-giving and my b-day, which is definitely a holiday in my mind. Why it has not reached household calendars nationwide is beyond me).

Although I’d like to say that the majority of the time I am proud to consider myself American (and for about 1/4th of the time I’d be lying through my teeth), Thanksgiving is the one day a year I take absolute pride in my country’s culture of patriotism and stuffing the rear-end of a poor, defenseless animal. For heavens-sake, it’s in the name of tradition.

But in all seriousness, Thanksgiving is a created time to be thankful and since you won’t be seeing much of me until after the holiday (I have a big, fat test tomorrow and a 4-day weekend with Mr. Suave in Amsterdam) I figured now would be an appropriate time to say just exactly what it is that I am thankful for.

Ahem, let’s begin. Shall we?

I am thankful for this amazing opportunity to study in a foreign country, surrounded by European intellectuals, traveling to a different European city every week and slowly, but surely talking in a Castilian “lisp” that will be sure to bring me all types of mockery with my Latino friends and family awaiting me at home.

I am thankful for the ability to have the privilege of living exactly how I choose; where I want to live, study, what I want to eat, clothe myself in, the people I want to surround myself with, are all such small factors in my life, yet, such a blessing.

I am thankful for my health and all the incredible things I’ve been able to try and experience that many people on this earth will never have the opportunity to experience themselves.

I am thankful for the ability to teach, whether it be setting an example for my younger brother (yet sometimes I question who is truly the younger one) or reaching out to a community and teaching Zumba classes, I always feel so rewarded if I have made even the smallest positive impact in somebody’s life.

I am thankful for my support system. My family, my besties, my role models, my therapists (kidding…well…maybe :p). Without the ever-lasting love and support of my parents and their encouragement for me to always succeed, I don’t know where I’d be this life. Mom and Dad I know you’re reading this and are going to try and sucker me into a “group hug” when I get home. We’ll see.

I am thankful for my friends, old and new. The ones that have been the back-bone in my every step in life and have been there to let me whine and complain till their ears have bled. You’ve proven to be some of the truest and most wonderful people I know and have always lent me a shoulder to lean on. And to all the newbies in my life (Pablo Suave, this is also to you) whether it be learning more about one another and taking on new places and experiences one day at a time, including falling hostel ceilings, lost baggage or bringing me breakfast in bed through a deathly case of food poisoning that would usually ruin any romantic get-away, you all are so very special to me and I love you and I can’t wait for the many more experiences to come.

…for all of this, I am very thankful.

What are you thankful for? Feel free to share 🙂

xoxo

MM

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Ávila

When my Spanish Literary Analysis profesora announced at the beginning of this semester that we’d be taking a mandatory trip to the small pueblito of Ávila, I was quite peeved. Who wants to go to a tiny, hole-in-the-wall town when I could be traveling the entire weekend to Paris? Or Venice? Or…any other city on this side of the western hemisphere except silly little Ávila…

…and how naiive I was.

It may not be the most populated, tourist-attracting or gorgeous of all the towns in Spain but Ávila is a gem in all it’s own. Rich in history and Christian artifacts, I was more than impressed with this quaint little pueblo. Plus, who wouldn’t rather be learning about Spanish literature in a walking-tour through an antique town rather than sitting in a classroom lecture and reading a book? *raise your hand*

Exactly.

Our class has spent several weeks studying the works of several Spanish poets (and some non-Spanish ones here and there), but one of our main focuses was on Santa Teresa de Jesus (the only link I could find was in Español. Sorry!). In summary, Santa Teresa de Jesus spent her entire life in Ávila, dedicating her life as a nun and writing some of the most famous Spanish poetry known to this day. Her poetry, which was sometimes perceived to be too erotic and almost banned to the public because of it’s racy content, was (to her) nothing more than a representation of uniting with God (not something to be interpreted as sexual). It’s been said that she had her very own encounter with an angel who shot an arrow into her heart, allowing her to be united with God in the living world. She wrote about this encounter in one of her most famous poems and a famous sculpture has been made of this story, which is now sitting in Rome. Ironically, after her death, a large scar was found over her heart where the supposed arrow had been shot.

You don’t have to be a believer to find that interesting!

What’s even creepier, the town still holds the finger of Santa Teresa de Jesus as one of their artifacts. Unfortunately for you, my dear morbid readers, I was prohibited from taking pictures of it. Sorry, dolls.

And now that you’ve had your own little literary Spanish lesson for the day (and I hopefully haven’t lost you yet), on with the the short and sweet version…

Santa Teresa de Jesus

the room where Santa Teresa allegedly witnessed Christ, herself

Moi. Sitting atop a castle and in the clouds.

me and the ladies

My professors AKA the Mexican Flag 🙂

Lunch was spent during our free time apart from the rest of the group. All I wanted was a giant salad. So, a giant salad it was.

Your standard Spanish salad

Just about any Spanish restaurant in Spain will provide a salad such as this one: olives, tuna, white asparagus, onion, tomato and a hard-boiled egg. We have mini-versions of this almost every night to accompany our dinner here in my Spanish home and I’ve become addicted. In fact, my host mother makes a large bowl of salad for almost every lunch and dinner, tosses it in a little olive oil and white vinegar and sets it in the middle of the table where everyone just sticks their forks in and shares from the same bowl. At first, I was quite apprehensive at the idea of a “community” salad bowl but now that I’ve grown quite used to it, I can’t imagine my dinners without one! I have a feeling I’ll be bringing back this little Spanish dinner custom home with me.

The rest of the trip consisted of your average beautifully-architected, astounding cathedrals. You know, the usual. Then we made our way home back to Alcalá where I cuddled in bed early to watch my latest addiction.

(Source)

Oh, Mad Men. How is it that it has taken me 3 years and 4 whole seasons for you to catch my attention? And why is it that only me and people over the age of 50 have an affinity for this show? It’s brilliant. I’m obsessed. End of story.

Other things that have occupied my time here in Alcalá the past week included Zumba sessions in the park with the girls (it felt GREAT), school-attending (zzzzzzzzzz), tea-sipping (the girls and I are obsessed with this little tea house near the plaza), Skype dates with the Amsterdam man with anticipation of this next weekend (which reminds me, Mr. Pablo Suave, vijftien minuten. You’re going down 😉 ) and living for the weekend in which we ventured off to Madrid capital for a little Pacha action.

We started with margaritas and some Mexican appetizers at one of the two Mexican restaurants in Alcalá. Pictures of the food were not captured because apparently when Anna drinks margaritas, all thoughts of food-blogging leaves the brain.

Dear Tequila, although you don’t ACTUALLY “make my clothes fall off” as some country songs would allude to, you are still too dangerous for me to consume on a regular basis.

perhaps I'm not the only one that Tequila affects this way...

I put my hands up in ayer, ayer

Clearly, it was a fabulous night. Pacha has always done me well ;).

As for today, I have quite a lot of homework to catch up on. An essay and several other homework items to conquer, I have a feeling I’ll need to lay off the Mad Men episodes for at least a few hours.

Some things to look forward to in the next month (my last month here :():

-4 days until Madrid with P. Suave.

-11 days until Amsterdam round 2 again with Mr. Suave. What can I say, he makes good company 😉

-less than 3 weeks until ROMA!!! I can taste the vino and pasta already.

-less than 1 month until another surprise trip (fingers crossed, we’ll see)

and then it’s off to home to celebrate christmas with the familia!

So many wonderful things to look forward to. I can’t believe in only about l month and a half we’ll be celebrating a new year! 2010, you’ve been so good to me.

Have a lovely Sunday lovers 🙂

xoxo

MM

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Ouch

Someone feels as if they got run over by a bus this morning.

I’m not naming any names but her name rhymes with banana.

Oh you darn Spaniards and your witty “puto” signs. Crack me UP.

As for today, I think I will stay in bed, do some homework, sip some tea and pray that my head doesn’t clunk off and roll away.

I also see many, many hours of Modern Family repeat episodes in my future.

As for countdowns to all things fun and spectacular in my life:

-1 week till I spend the weekend in the city with my girlies. Pacha round TWO. Madrid-style ;). You can read about the first round in Ibiza here.

-1.5 weeks until I return to the city to pick up a special Mr. Suave from the airport. *insert scream of excitement here*

-18 days till Thanksgiving and I’m back on a plane to the land of the wooden shoes (told you I wasn’t done with Amsterdam yet ;))

-1 month until the supposed Italy trip. *crossing fingers here that I’ll find cheaper plane tix*

-1.5 months until…damn…home???!! Scratch that. We’re not ready to talk about that yet.

and that’s all folks

xoxo

MM

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Cracked

I suppose it was only a matter of time until it happened.

And, of course, faulty technology would have been the culprit.

It all started innocently enough. I arrived home from Toledo today (more on this in a minute) and attempted to call my Mama after not having been able to have a successful conversation with her in the past TWO WEEKS that lasted more than 10 minutes. Blame it on the cra-a-a-a-a-ppy Spanish internet (attempted to add a little Jamie Foxx theme in there, incase you didn’t catch that) or just Skype phone calls in general but I have been so incredibly frustrated with my lack of communication with my best friend, aka the woman who gave birth to me.

At home, I tend to call my Mom an average of 30 times a day…ahem…give or take. Necessities, really.

Examples:

“Mom, I just woke up and I had a terrible dream that involved Lil’ Wayne, Dad and a talking fish. What do you think this means?”

“Mom, I was talking to so-and-so today and they were a total &$%*#. Yes I’m freaking pissed! Do I say something? Hey, also, what do I make for lunch?”

“Mom, I’m going into class I can’t talk right now!”

“Mom, I just got out of class. Don’t tell me you can’t talk! I need to talk to you!”

“Mom, my stomach hurts. Can I come over? Will you make me soup?”

…get the picture?

So when my internet crashed out on me today for, oh, I dunno, the bazillionth time this week, I did what any grown-up, undeniably mature 21-year old girl would do.

I smacked my computer, sunk my head into the palms of my hands and cried like a big fat baby.

Yup, that’s me. Miss “I’m so grown up I live in another country alllll by  myself” Anna.

Oy vey.

Needless to say, someone’s feeling more than a little homesick today.

Don’t get me wrong, Spain has grown to feel like my second home. I’ve basically made an entirely new life over here, complete with new friends, new temporary parents, a new school, new clothes, new food and even a brand-spanking new, hot-off-the-shelf Pablo Suave. But who’s to say that’s to stop me from missing everything awaiting me back home?

Is it too much to ask to go home for the Holidays and just come back next year?? Can I please have my cake and eat it too??

Please?

Pretty please??

Moving on…

On a MUCH LIGHTER note, Toledo was una belleza!!!

*sigh* yes, that's better

Toledo was such a breath of fresh air. Literally.

Settled high up on a hill that feels as if you could touch the clouds, Toledo is a picturesque pueblo with twisty-turny, maze-like streets that are great for exploring for a day (or two). It was nice to get out of Alcalá for the day and still be home in time for dinner.

The best part about this little shnazzy pueblito?? Spotting a little vegetarian restaurant in one of the nooks (or crannies, I’ve never really been able to decipher between the two) in the midst of Toledo’s old-world calles. This mean streets, my dear gringos.

translation: Mother Earth. Presh!

And might I add that Alejandra was a phenomenal lunch date today? Love you!

One thing that I absolutely adore about Spain (aside from their overly-abundant amounts of roasted pig, OF COURSE) is the fact that every restaurant offers a “Menú.” This, my dear American friends, is not a direct translation for “menu” as you would suspect. It’s actually a set selection of specials of the day which usually (if not always) includes an appetizer, an entrée, a dessert, bread and a drink. It’s a set price and is usually your cheapest bet.

Side note: if you’re looking for the REAL menu, ask for “la carta”.

Unfortunately for my not-so-carnivorous-self, the “menú” usually consists of some type of animal carcass piece of meat. Until I found this place!!

They first brought out a little plate of bruschetta for the three of us to share…

Then came the beautiful salads with goat cheese…

I don’t quite remember what was in the salad exactly. All I remember is that it was absolutely delicious. I believe there was corn, tomaters, carrots, greens (duh) and some crispy onion things that reminded of the stuff you put on thanksgiving green bean casserole. Nawmean? Oh, and that goat cheese? I’d like to buy a goat for myself now if I were able to produce this for every single meal.

Nuff said.

The entrée was a mix of three mini-dishes…

ménage á trois

from top going clockwise: fried brie (can we forget I’m a health-conscious nutrition major for one minute and just appreciate the fact that fried brie exists on this planet and that it would be a shame to waste it for the mere sake of calories? Psh, shmalories). There was also a sweet onion compote on top that made my mouth pucker with joy. Yes, with joy. Next was some type of vegetable/cheese-ish concoction that I honestly can’t even tell you what it was. It tasted like chip dip wrapped in some type of squashed green vegetable. Wasn’t really feeling it. Lastly, potaters drizzled in sweet balsamic. Because God-knows I haven’t had enough potatoes lately.

In the end, I would’ve rather had an entire plate of fried brie, although my pant-size might argue that suggestion (as well as my nutrition professors back home).

fruit and helado (ice cream) was served for dessert but I was quite stuffed (btw apparently the word “stuffed” means something completely different in British English. I’ll let you guess that one for yourself) at that point to really enjoy either.

Luckily, after lunch we met up with the rest of the members in my program for a long walk up and down the hilly streets of Toledo so it was a nice balance in activity. Eatin’ and walkin’.

As for now, I can gladly say that my dose of homesickness was a mere fluke and I am back to my smiling self. Perhaps it was the 4 glasses of wine provided by my lovely host family that did the trick. Yup, that could be it.

(so please disregard any grammatical errors due to BUI. Blogging Under the Influence. Obviously)

I’m off to get ready to go out with the ladies and celebrate…well, just celebrate living in Spain I suppose!

Have a lovely weekend chicos(as)!

xoxo

MM

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Holland <3

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.”

-Sophocles

Love.
No other word can describe my feelings towards the incredibly beautiful city of Amsterdam. I think it’s safe to say that Spain has a bit of competition because, it’s official. Amsterdam has stolen my heart away.
I believe it is because Amsterdam has a little bit of everything to offer that I fell so deeply and head-over-heels for this city (and am currently devising ways to move there, having to convince myself that the red light district really ISN’T a wise career choice even if that would give me a shoe-in). Darn.
4 days. That’s all it took really. I suppose you can say it was love at first sight ;).
Amsterdam spoiled me in numerous ways, starting with it’s luscious greenery and picturesque windmills:
Then, it swept me off my feet with its wonderful food…
hello lover, I’ve missed you

sea creatures

baked goat cheese, spinach and tomato cannelloni

mini burgersFrom left to right: pumpkin and sweet potato burger with garlic mayo and jalapeños, baked goat cheese with pear chutney burger and grilled tuna burger with onions and tomater.
I believe I died and went to burger heaven. Did I mention I ate…um…everything?
My carnivorous date (who from here on out would prefer to be referred to as Pablo Suave…Rico Suave’s brother, of course) went for this monster:
And half a cow later…I believe he was full 😉
Other Amsterdam shenanigans consisted of going to all of the most important must-see museums, which OBVIOUSLY included a Gin museum…

My blackberry gin concoction and Pablo Suave's Tom Collins

Street market perusing…

Bike ridin’…

Canal cruisin’…

…and teaching Pablo Suave the correct usage of “that’s what she said” over fresh mint tea and the best cream-filled, chocolate truffles this side of the Atlantic.

And of course, a few trips out to experience the nightlife…

Yes, I definitely left my heart back in Amsterdam.

Now that I’ve returned back to España (aka the land of potatoes and everything meaty), I’m feeling a tad on the homesick side. Perhaps it was the skype date I had with my parents today or the care package that came in the mail (HELLO TRADER JOE’S PUMPKIN BREAD MIX AND PEANUT BUTTER), but the frigid cold of autumn is feeling a bit, well…frigider. Yes, I just made that a word.

Perhaps one more trip back to the land of the wooden shoes and Pablo Suaves is in order before my return back to the states.

Amsterdam, I’m not done with you yet ;).

xoxo

MM

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