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.
The restaurant we used to visit on birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions recently shut down. There are other locations, but the nearest one is now over forty miles away. They specialized in delicious fondues and the entire meal was prepared at your table. The three-course dinner would always begin with a cheese fondue of your choice. One of the friendly servers knew how much we liked garlic, so he would make sure to pile loads of it into the pot along with the shredded cheese, spices, and splashes of beer or wine that would cook until bubbling hot and fragrant, right in front of you. Cubes of crusty bread, sliced celery, carrots, and apples would accompany this savory appetizer, which was still light enough to leave room for the next two courses. The main entrée fondue was a tangy Caribbean-inspired broth, aromatic with fresh garlic and citrus. For vegetarians they offered a platter of artichoke hearts, portobello mushrooms, broccoli florets, cheese ravioli, and mixed vegetables that is simmered in the zesty broth at your leisure. But the most difficult thing to choose on the menu were the dessert fondues. With decadent combinations like chocolate peanut butter, chocolate caramel, and even s’mores fondue, we made sure to try a new one every time. Our local restaurant is long gone, so we took matters into our own hands and figured out a way to recreate this festive dessert at home, and amazed ourselves by turning it into something even better than the original. This pure white chocolate fondue is here to start 2017 off with a warm—and deliciously sweet— welcome.
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!
We must be dreaming. We are sitting here sipping hibiscus margaritas—a tangy and refreshing cocktail from one of our favorite bloggers, Christine Carlson—and are overwhelmed with excitement. In just a few days, we are taking a road trip with Christine up to Napa Valley to spend the week with a talented group of food bloggers from all over the United States and Canada (links below), hosted by the brilliant Teri Turner of No Crumbs Left. Aside from enjoying massive amounts of locally-made wine, we will be cooking together, collaborating on recipes, sampling Napa’s award-winning restaurants, visiting picturesque wineries, and attending a lecture by renowned photographer George Lange. Our adventures will be well-documented on our Instagram story, so join us as we eat and drink allll the wine in Napa. But before we head north, we want to leave you with a sweet and comforting treat to keep you warm and cozy all season long. Meet your new winter remedy, and welcome gingerbread hot chocolate to your life.
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.