Everything is going to be fine. You’re cooking tonight’s Valentine’s dinner, but still haven’t decided what to make. First, take a deep breath, and realize you’re not the only one browsing the web for “romantic home-cooked meals” right now. We’ve gotcha covered, and have definitely been there before. There was the time we waited to buy champagne on our way to a New Year’s party, only to learn the store was sold out of everything bubbly. And the time we tried to buy eggs on Easter morning, finding the dairy case completely empty. Sometimes procrastination works, and sometimes it does not. But no worries: your Valentine will never know you were browsing our site at the last minute on this intimate holiday. In fact, from the very first sip of the evening’s cocktails, it will seem as though you’ve been planning this special night for a long time. And when you bring out this first course, pan-seared artichoke with an aioli trio, and see the smile on your date’s face, it can be our little secret that you just discovered it today.
Being a vegetarian in Spain is not easy, but if you know what to look for you can eat like a king. Ryan has family in Bilbao and we have been fortunate to visit them a few times together over the years. Our first experience was in the summer of 2011, and while the trip was amazing… getting there was not. Thanks to weather and other delays, our sixteen-hour travel time turned into an unpleasant (and uncomfortable) thirty, leaving us exhausted and worn out by the time we arrived. But the huge hugs and warm welcome we received from all the relatives waiting at the airport made us forget the ordeal we had been through, and for the next four days we had the time of our lives. We had planned our trip to overlap with the city’s annual festival, Aste Nagusia, or “big week.” From morning till night, there were tens of thousands of locals and tourists partying in town, with colorful floats, jaw-dropping fireworks, and delicious street foods on every corner, and this is where Adam tried churros con chocolate for the first time: thin, extra-crispy churros dipped in a cup of rich, thick melted chocolate. Ryan’s family showed us all their favorite local bars and restaurants, took us to the Guggenheim Museum of modern art, and we basically spent the entire visit eating and drinking our way through this lively Basque city. At times, it was tricky to find tapas that we could eat, but almost every bar had a few classic dishes we could enjoy, like traditional Spanish tortilla de patatas, roasted pimientos de país, and the crispy, spicy, dangerously addictive potatoes known as patatas bravas.
It has been raining here in Los Angeles and we are loving every second. Nothing is more soothing than falling asleep to the sound of drops hitting our rooftop, then waking up to find the plants outside glowing a brilliant green and radiating with life. These cloudy days are perfect for photographing food: the light is softer, diffused, and bluish-white, making everything more vibrant and a pleasure to shoot. Speaking of photography, our friend Soe (Lime & Cilantro), an outstanding cook and photographer (won “Best New Voice” at the Saveur 2016 Blog Awards), recently invited us to participate in a #noodleholicsparty where everyone cooks their favorite noodle dish and shares it today on their website. With a hashtag like that, how could we resist? This spicy and comforting delicacy couldn’t be more fitting for a cold rainy day. It is one of our favorite Korean appetizers, and this vegetarian version is just as flavorful as the original. A fun word to say, tteokbokki (duck-boke-KEE) is also super quick and easy to make!
Tuesday, December 6th, 3:30am. The alarm clock we typically want to throw across the room sounded different that morning. The day we had been looking forward to for months had arrived, so it was easier to get out of bed at that unseemly hour. We had been invited by Teri Turner, the force behind No Crumbs Left, to attend a gathering of bloggers in Northern California where we would eat, cook, and meet in person for the very first time, even though we were already friends through the community of Instagram. Since our little Nissan Leaf only has a range of 84 miles, we rented an SUV to transport us to Napa, along with suitcases, pots and pans for cooking, ice chests full of ingredients, and the most exciting cargo of all: our friend Christine from What Do You Crave! Of all the attendees, Christine was the only one we previously knew. We became fast friends this year, and were beyond excited to road trip with her up to the Bay Area!
After this weekend’s near-disaster, we will be giving thanks for hot water at Thanksgiving this year. We awoke Saturday morning to find the water pressure in our house had suddenly dropped to a pathetic trickle, which of course happened on the day we were expecting company. We had big plans to cook with our friend Soe, who was the winner of this year’s Saveur Blog Award for Best New Voice. His beautiful website, Lime and Cilantro, is filled with stunning photography and delicious Burmese recipes including the chickpea tofu he planned to make for the dinner. All this week, we have been cooking up a storm, testing new recipes left and right, and our sink was piled high with dishes from the night before. There we stood, unshaven and unshowered, in the middle of our war zone of a kitchen with no water pressure, and our guest arriving in less than two hours.