A Walk on Lake Erie During Sunset

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As mentioned, I want this blog to be more than just food. Nature is such a beautiful thing that I don’t get to enjoy much due to my job being indoors. On my day’s off I try to spend as much time outside as possible to take in fresh air and the beauty I see very little of. Last week was the start of Spring and even though the first day drew in some snow flurries in N.E Ohio, the weather has slowly begun to warm up giving us hope that winter is packing his bags and going away for a few months.

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It was a 45 degree day with heavy clouds and the sun fading in and out. At about 5 pm, the clouds finally broke up and allowed the sun to stand still for a while making a chilly evening seem cool from the little warm of the sun kissing your skin as it began to lay down for sleep, so I took to the lake with my camera. I would hate to waste such a nice sunset sitting on the couch catching up on Top Chef (my current addiction) after being stuck in the house all day, I needed my ipod and some fresh air to relax and take my mind off life for a while.

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Lake Erie may not be as clear as the Pacific Ocean or a beautiful as the Atlantic, but it’s home and to me home is love. I can’t wait to take more walks along the lake this summer and even hit the parks for more pictures. Cleveland is actually quite nice if you take the chance to stop what your doing and look around. If you get the chance, spend more time outdoors. Grab your ipod and go for a walk with nature. Take a book and sit in the park, put your dog in the car and take a drive to somewhere you can walk and play. Enjoy the outdoors while it’s legal ๐Ÿ™‚

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The world is yours to explore

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Study nature. Love nature. Stay close to nature. It will never fail you.

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“I swear to you, there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.” -Walt Whitman

**Pictures we taken at Huntington Beach in Bay Village, OH

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Belgium: The best beers in the world.

In the summer of 2009 I studied abroad in Belgium. Part of my graduation requirement was to take some form of a concentration to complete my Bachelors degree. I really wanted to do something other than take a class on campus for this requirement.ย  A few friends of mine were talking about how they were studying abroad in Europe for their program. I had never been to Europe and thought that would be a great idea for me to learn and experience culture outside of America while still getting college credits. Luckily I had a family who supported my request to studyย  in International Hotel Management abroad. I chose Belgium due to the fact that it was either that or Thailand. I would love to of gone to Thailand but with the world being in a rut during that time my family didn’t feel comfortable with me going over there alone.

While in Belgium I was surrounded by more beer than you could imagine. There was of course a lot of consumption of beer during this month abroad. This was my first time drinking real Belgian beer and I was in love. I didn’t ever want to go back to American beer. In Belgium, every beer comes served in its own individual glass. If you ordered a Stella it came in a Stella glass, ?If you ordered an Orval Trappist Ale it came in its very own designed Orval glass, etc. I loved the idea that every beer came in its own glass. The beer there is served in much smaller portions. You don’t get the usual 16 fluid ounces. Belgians believe in serving their beer as close to room temperature as possible, no ice cold beers here. Therefore, they serve in smaller glasses around 45 degrees so you can get all the flavor extracted from the beer. Belgian beers are very high in alcohol content and most beers such as Duvel for example have certain laws in the country with how many you are allowed to consume before operating a vehicle.

If you ever get the chance to go to Europe I suggest you make a stop in Belgium and get your hands on some wonderful Belgian beers. These beers have completely changed my way of drinking. I don’t hardly care for American beers much. Some great Belgian beer recommendations I have for you here in the US are: Stella Artois, Duvel, Orval trappist ale, Leffe, Chimay and if you enjoy fruity beers the cherry Lambic is very good as well.

Cheers!

Tour Belgium for beer: http://www.winemag.com/Wine-Enthusiast-Magazine/Web-2012/Tour-Belgium-for-Beer/

City of Charlottesville

A little over a 2 hour drive from my previous home in West Virginia is the historic city of Charlottesville, Va.ย  Charlottesville is an independent city located at the foothills of the Blueridge mountains and has an incredible rich history that draws millions of visitors each year. This city is also the home to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Monroe’s Ashlawn Highlands, James Madisons Montepelier, and lastly is a college town belonging to the University of Virginia. A few months back Brandon and I wanted to take a day trip somewhere nearby with new culture outside of our little mountain town. A fellow co-worker of mine was from that area and always talked about how cool of a city it is and told me I just had to go. She recommended a few of the bars and restaurants to check out while visiting. Brandon and I packed our overnight bags and decided to make the short trip.

After walking around the downtown mall area on a beautiful sunny afternoonย I was amazed with all the outdoor seating each of the restaurants had. Many locals residents were all sitting in the center of the mall area having an ice cold beer or a glass of wine while snacking on some appetizersย and enjoying the company of their friends. We had 2 hours to kill before our dinner reservations at Ten, a popular Japanese sushi bar. We stopped to grab a drink and an aperitif at an elegant wine bar called Siips. Looking over the wine list I felt it was a little pricey for what they were offering but I stuck with getting an Italian wine and a baked brie appetizer. The brie appetizer had to be one of the best thingsย I’ve eaten in a while. It was savory and accompanied by kalamata olives, wheat and plain crackers to spread the cheese on, roasted garlic, and lastly aย small lightly seasoned arugula salad. Over all perfect pairing with my wine. After having a very delicious appetizer it was time for some sushi.

The Japanese word ten can mean heaven or above and ten is both of these. Ten approaches traditional Japanese dishes as if they were works of art and the plates are crafted to please both the palate and the eye. The colors inside the restaurant were breathtaking with one side of the room being light and the other dark. It was a very classy place for sushi andย I was in love as soon as I walked up the stairs. The menu was very complex and offered everything you could want in a Japanese style restaurant. Starting with a seaweedย  salad which Ive never had before was blown away by the crunch and flavor. Next came the edamame which is always a must have when getting sushi. The only problemย I had with this is it could’ve used more salt. The sushi roll I ordered was much bigger than I had expected but was by far the best sushi I’ve eaten. I eat a lot of sushi and after eating this roll, its going to make going anywhere else for sushi hard. Nothing can compare to the crunch, spice, flavor, and presentation that one roll gave me. To end the meal I had a tuna steak that was very tender and delicious. Over all rating for this restaurant is a ten out of ten. The only minor problem was our server who was very knowledgeable about the menu was not good at checking back when I needed him.

Down the street from Ten is a small gelato place where I stopped in to get some dessert. There were so many flavors to choose from and while I have only had three kinds of gelato before I was very indecisive about which flavor to choose. I sampled a few and decided to get two kinds, the chocolate hazelnut and vanilla . As for the rest of Charlotesville outside the mall area It is a very quiet city even with a college around. It is in a very beautiful part of Virginia and would consider living there in the future. With having such a wonderful first experience of the little cityย  I would love to go back soon to check out more restaurants and bars. Everything from the food, to shopping, scenery, and hotel stay were exactly what I was looking for. I recommend this small town if you have not been, to check out. I am already looking forward to my next visit.

Sweet Columbus

When my boyfriend and I were in Columbus, OH back in November a Chef we worked with at The Greenbrier had told us of a few good places to check out while we were there. After catching a live Bluejackets hockey game we had a few hours to spare before heading back to West Virginia. We decided to check out the food scene. There are a multitude of breweries (which I had no idea Columbus had), a quaint little German town, and a ton of other good restaurants and food locales. Brandon and I were told to check out Pistacia Vera, a dessert boutique in historic German Village for some really outstanding macaroons. I’ve never been much of a macaroon fan until I had the privilege of tasting theirs. Their signature item is Macaroon sandwich cookies with either butter cream or ganache filling. These were the freshest, softest, most flavorful cookies I have ever tasted. Flavors included: maple walnut, passion fruit, orange cranberry, pistachio, nutella, mocha, and vanilla bean. Depending on the season they do have other flavors. The flavors of each cookie just exploded in my mouth and blew my taste buds away. I think about these cookies everyday they are that good. Their menu also includes tortes, tarts, pastries, cookies, preserves, and pate de fruits having over 60 seasonal confections and pastries. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you check it out. All desserts are made from scratch, fresh daily and they have many gluten free, dairy and vegan free products. For a Menu or more information on background of the cafe go www.pistaciavera.com

In the Picture to the left is fresh from scratch a pistachio orange fig dacquoise (Gluten free) and to the right is a Passion fruit Chambord flourless cake (Gluten free & nut free).

Most of everyone has heard of Jeni’s Ice cream and if you haven’t I suggest you do some research to locate the nearest one and go check it out. I’ve heard nothing but good things from everyone who has gone there. I decided its my turn to see what its all about. I am a home cook myself just as she was and making ice creams is one of my favorite things to do when I have the time and money. I bought her book with hopes that I would find good recipes and easy techniques on how to make ice cream better than the store . Upon reading her book and testing out a few recipes I’ve become very happy with each result. If your looking for good quality of texture and consistency I would stop by a jeni’s Ice cream nearest you. My favorite flavor of the batch would have to be the salty caramel. Perfect sweet to salty ratio. Her recipes are made specifically for at home making and are easy to follow. I bought the book and continue to use it every time I make ice cream. If you are unable get to a Jenis location, she does sell her products online for you to buy. Check out her website atย http://jenisicecreams.com/ for product information and other goods.