Greek Week [Amorgos]

Amorgos1Our third port was Amorgos.  The moment we stepped off the boat, we were welcomed into a local seafood restaurant.  The table was set and within minutes it was piled high with plates of octopus, calamari, hand other Grecian dishes.

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These massive prawns were delicious and right up my alley, but some of the other dishes… not so much.

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I was especially proud of myself when I took a deep breath and popped one of these babies into my mouth whole.

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I did not like it.  I did not like it at all.  Some adventures are not worth taking.

Amorgos4One thing you can always count on being delicious – beer.

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After that less-than-filling lunch, Dawn and I wandered around town snapping photos until it was time to fill our tummies with supper.

Amorgos6 The sun set, and we all reunited for drinks (and some WiFi).

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Although it was our mellowest port visit, it was also one of my favorites.  It felt like a quaint Grecian village as opposed to a hopping party destination.  I reveled in the quiet and was sad to sail away the next morning.

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Oh Amorgos, I really hated leaving but I loved to watch you go….

 

 

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Chicken Thighs to Mesmerize

Lemon Garlic ChickenSometimes I really enjoy spending hours preparing a fabulous meal.  There’s something cathartic about rolling out pasta dough or chopping mountains of veggies.  Then there are most days of the week, when I wish my dinner would just cook itself.

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Here’s a recipe for most of the time.  I’m not exaggerating when I say it takes less than five minutes to throw this dish together.  Pop it in the oven, watch a couple trashy TV shows, and enjoy a healthy and delicious meal.

Here’s what you need:

- 4 Chicken Thighs

- 2 Lemons

- 1 Head of Garlic

- Salt & Pepper

- Oregano

- Olive Oil

Start off by setting your oven to 375ºF (that’s 190°C).

LemonGarlicChicken1Break the head of garlic apart and drop it in the bottom of the pan.  Don’t even bother peeling it.  Take your two lemons and cut them in half, then half again so you’ve got 8 juicy wedges.

Drop your chicken in the pan and arrange the lemon wedges around it like so.

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Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.  Then add a generous sprinkle of dried oregano.

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Add a generous drizzle of olive oil and pop it in the oven for about 50 minutes.  Set your timer and do nothing but enjoy the delightful aroma of your dinner wafting through your home (and, of course, the requisite trashy TV).

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When the skin is crispy and golden brown, it’s time to pull it out and enjoy.  I recommend giving it a squeeze of the lemon and a bit of the roasted garlic with each bite.

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Props to my girl crush Rosie for the recipe!

I’ll be back with more Greece photos soon!

 

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Greek Week [Naxos]

naxos1 After waking up and devouring breakfast on Mykonos, Dawn and I caught a bus over to the New Port.

Naxos3We lingered at Taverna Matthew, the tour meeting point, scoping out the other patrons and speculating as to who we’d be spending the week with. Promptly at 4, our skipper scooped us up and led us to our sailboat. We hauled our luggage aboard and set off to bond over some food and wine before retiring to bed, excited for the trip ahead.

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Around 10 the next morning we set sail for Naxos. To be honest, I’d never even heard of it until then, but it’s a gem of an island. Just take a look for yourself.

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As soon as we docked, Dawn and I hopped off the boat to go explore.  We found beauty around every twist and turn.

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Around 8:00 we united with the rest of our group for a large local dinner.  Our skipper ordered in Greek for the table, and we all drooled as plate after heaping plate arrived.  Everything was gobbled up before I could even snap photos!

The next day we rented a couple of cars and set out to explore the island.  We visited some old (unfinished) statues.  I think this one got tired of waiting around for finishing touches and decided to take a nap.

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Then we visited an ancient church, a city made of marble, and an artist village.

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But the best stop of the day was the beach!  As we found our way to the beach, we learned the hard way that roads on Google maps are not necessarily paved.  While we in the Jeep had a blast, the crew in the Fiat behind us were having a significantly smaller amount of fun.

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But they made it unscathed! When we finally arrived at the ocean, we all struck silly poses for photos, and relaxed on the sand after a long day of exploring.

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Eventually the sun set and we headed back to town for beers and supper.  The group agreed- almost unanimously- to return to the same restaurant as the night before where we stuffed ourselves to the gills before meandering back to the boat for some shut-eye.  Vacationing can be so exhausting sometimes!

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Greek Week [Mykonos]

MykonosFor the past couple of years my dear friend, Dawn, and I have fantasized about how amazing it would be to sail the Greek islands.  A couple of months ago, we stopped talking and started doing.  We booked a week on a sailboat and a seemingly endless array of flights to get us nearly halfway across the world.  Then we waited for it to finally come.

And last week, it did.  We met in Athens and boarded a little plane to Mykonos.  After a series of misunderstandings with a very angry cab driver, a seemingly endless search for our accommodations, and an incredibly rude hotel manager, we finally loaded our bags into our room and took naps and showers so we’d be fresh and rested for the evening.

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A couple of hours later, we popped out of our room like fresh little daisies.  We wandered up and down the alleys, all lined in gorgeous white buildings with classic blue accents.  I couldn’t believe that we were finally in Greece, and it was every bit as gorgeous and amazing as I’d hoped it would be.

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Me in MykonosWe snapped a few photos and settled on a placed called M-eating for dinner.  image_4We split a bottle of red and some delicious local dips while we filled each other in on everything that’s been going on in our lives.

image_5Dawn lives in Atlanta, so we don’t see each other very much anymore, but the moment we’re reunited it’s like no time has passed at all.  To me, that’s the very best kind of friend.

image_6Soon my pesto pasta dish arrived.  Our chatter stopped abruptly as I dug into the best pesto I’ve ever had.

image_7When we’d polished off our suppers, we struck out on the town to do some more exploring.  Soon we found a shop that sold only wine and candy.  Let me say that again: wine and candy.  How brilliant is that!? We grabbed another bottle to share and enjoyed it by the water, chatting endlessly like old friends can.

image_8Eventually, we hit the bottom of that bottle too and went back to our exploring expedition.  As we walked past one especially beautiful hotel, we couldn’t resist popping in for a drink by their gorgeous pool.  A group of Romanian travelers had pretty much taken over the place, but within moments they’d warmly embraced us and we were all sharing wine and platters of food and dancing like old pals.

image (2)An hour or two later, we peeled ourselves away and popped into just one more bar on the way home for the night.  The place was packed and lively despite the early morning hour.  Until arriving there, I had no idea what a party destination the island is!  We lasted only one drink before calling it a night.  We slept like babies after the long day of travel and late night of celebrating.

Our bucket list trip was shaping up just as I’d hoped.

They next day, we had a hearty breakfast and headed over to another part of the island to join our sailing tour.  But you’ll have to wait for the next post to hear about that!

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Social Experiment

SocialExp7The other night my boyfriend and I were looking for a bite to eat when we passed by a place in Hillcrest that I’d never noticed before.  He agreed it looked good, so we popped in for some dinner.SocialExp8

The décor was cool, the light was low, and the bar was impressive.  The host immediately sat us at the best table in the restaurant- a little round one in the corner where we could snuggle up to each other after weeks apart.  All combined, we were off to a good start.

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We ordered up a bottle of red and started pouring through the menu of plates meant for sharing.  After a brief introduction and recommendations from the server, we settled on the fried brussels sprouts, tuna poke, and short rib ravioli.

The poke came out first and disappeared quickly.  Served on massive crisps, it was slightly salty and very melt-in-your-mouthy.

SocialExp3 SocialExp4 The sprouts arrived soon after and they really stole the show.  I can’t claim to know the recipe, but I think it includes balsamic vinegar, unicorn tears, and some other magical ingredients not found at Whole Foods.  They weren’t much to look at, but the taste was simply divine.  Hands down the best I’ve ever had, and that’s really saying something! SocialExp5 Seconds later the ravioli hit the table.  They, too, were delicious.  The filling was tender and succulent, and the mushrooms on top made the perfect complement.  I would order them again in a heartbeat. SocialExp6 We debated dessert at length, but ultimately passed up the peanut butter and chocolaty goodness for some frozen yogurt near home.  Next time, though, I’m going all the way! It was the perfect spot to catch up with my gent after he’d been away for a while, and we both left feeling happy and satisfied.  If you’re ever in Hillcrest, I recommend popping by!

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Strawberry Infused Vodka

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I’m a vodka soda devotee, but I’ll also be the first to admit that they’re not the most exciting libation.  So every now and then I choose a flavored vodka to make them a little more interesting.   But why choose something off the shelf that’s packed with artificial flavorings  when a handful of fresh produce from your local farmers stand can easily give you something even better!?

StrawberryVodka2The ingredient list couldn’t be any shorter- you just need vodka and your fruit of choice.  Heck, go crazy and use more than one!  Berries, peaches, jalapeños… go nuts!

Just chop ‘em up, drop ‘em in, and let it sit overnight at least.  The more fruit you use, and the longer you wait, the more flavor you’ll get.

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I let mine sit for almost a week before enjoying it poolside.  If you’re not a fan of club soda (and I can’t blame you if you’re not) this would also be delicious with champagne, tonic, or a fruit juice.

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It’s the perfect way to end a summer day.StrawberryVodka5Cheers to you, and the easiest cocktail you’ll ever concoct!

 

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Cucina Urbana

CucinaUrbana1I live really far away from my parents.  Like over 2,000 miles (that’s 3,218 km).  But they visit pretty often, and that makes it all a lot easier.

They were in town last week and, per usual, it was the perfect excuse to try a new restaurant.

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Everyone’s been buzzing about Cucina Urbana, an up-scale casual little dining spot nestled between Little Italy and Hillcrest.  We popped in for an early dinner and got the lay of the land.  The setting is comfortable and unpretentious with mixed materials and a cozy urban vibe.  They’re a little different than your average restaurant; they’ve got a little wine shop tucked unassumingly in the corner.  They’ll help you pick the perfect bottle, charge you retail price, and then uncork it for you for just $8.  Compared to the standard mark-up on wines, this can be quite the money-saver.  Dad picked out the perfect red while Mom and I analyzed apps.

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Obviously, the meat & cheese board was a must.  We also went for some enormous squash blossoms, perfectly fried and oozing with cheese, and some scrumptious suckling pig.  Each dish was gone within seconds of hitting the table.  In some cases, I could barely squeeze in a snapshot.

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With our appetites sufficiently whetted, we ordered our pasta entrees.  Mom went for a delicious carbonara, Dad choose a traditional tomato sauce, and I had short rib parpadelle.  It was heavy and wintery, but even in the heat of July I devoured every bit.

CucinaUrbana8 For dessert, we wandered a few blocks up to Extraordinary Desserts.  The line is always out the door, as it’s a notorious San Diego favorite.  Mom and I split the flourless chocolate cake, which only tasted half as good as it looked.  The first time Extraordinary fell short of its name, but at least it satiated my sweet tooth!

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I was sad to say good bye at the end of the meal, but my folks had a flight to catch.  Hopefully it won’t be too long until I see them again!

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