Hotel La Catalina in Cabrera

12 Nov

One of the most beautiful places on earth is the quaint town of Cabrera on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. It feels undiscovered by the everyday tourist looking for the all-inclusive island vacation. In Cabrera, you feel the real heart of the Dominican.

I am lucky enough to visit Cabrera almost on a yearly basis. My best friend in the world, Ashleigh, works at a hotel owned by her father, Tim. Hotel La Catalina is the most amazing hotel. The visitors to the hotel are regulars because when you stay once, you come back as frequently as possible. The food is absolutely delicious and the bartender, Coco, makes the most amazing Mojitos you’ll ever have.

This past year, Ashleigh married Roberto, on the most beautiful beach called Playa Grande. It was the best wedding I’ve ever been to (sorry friends and family). Her family and friends (only about 20 total) spent a week together participating in activities all week. One was to visit the non-profit Ashleigh started after moving to the Dominican Republic. Ashleigh was able to raise enough money to rebuild one of the poorest schools in the area. Ashleigh’s non-profit, Catalina DR Foundation is dedicated to the educating of underprivileged children and the rebuilding of schools in the Dominican Republic. Feel free to donate as much as frequently as possible!

A Marathon in Antarctica? Seriously….

3 Apr

Just when I am really impressed with myself for signing up for the Chicago Marathon, I read a story about a woman who ran a marathon in Antarctica.  This company is actually very cool.  They plan marathons all over the world so that people who love to run and travel can do both at the same time.  I now have a new goal.  What about a marathon on the Great Wall of China or running while seeing the big five in South Africa?  These races are definitely going on my bucket list.

A Weekend in Boston

1 Apr


Every time I’ve been to Boston I have loved it. It is such an old city, with such character and charm. My friend, who was one of my previous roommates in DC, now lives on Beacon Hill.Beacon Hill is a great neighborhood.

20120811-132325.jpgThe buildings are all brick, with uneven brick sidewalks, great boutiques, and lots of fun places to eat. Along with Beacon Hill, my absolute favorite area to shop is Newbury street. Newbury street is similar to Georgetown in DC, but with much less people on the weekend. Another great thing about Boston is how you are able to walk anywhere in the city in 30 minutes or less. Most notable this weekend was our lunch at Orinoco in South End. Orinoco is a quaint Latin American restaurant that serves very traditional Latin American dishes. My favorite boutique of the weekend is Moxie on Charles Street in Beacon Hill.

Moxie JewelryI ended up spending too much money on their Marica Moran rings and earrings. Most notable drink of the weekend was the apple cider mimosa at 75 Chestnut in Beacon Hill. Amazing. Another great weekend in Boston!

Ai Weiwei comes to DC

30 Mar

This spring through next year, the Sculpture Garden-Smithsonian will exhibit a sculpture by Ai Weiwei. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’re going who is this guy? I would first direct you to my Copenhagen at Christmas posting, where I talk about seeing an exhibit for Ai Weiwei at the Louisiana MOMA in Denmark. Ai Weiwei is a Chinese artist, who I mostly now know for his sculptures. Ai is currently being held prisoner by the Chinese government for speaking out. His work is definitely out there and outrageous at times, but well worth the visit.

Tribulation: Bibiana Osteria in DC

29 Mar

My roommate Jenna–from Rome this summer–and I love to try the Italian restaurants in DC and compare them to our experience in Italy.  On Thursday night we went to Bibiana Osteria in DC.  We first sat at the bar and drank Italian beer.  Then we moved to a table to have dinner.  The service was very friendly, but the food lacked in flavor, was overcooked, and at the same time was overpriced. Don’t be fouled by the presentation of these meals, which appear better than they actually are.  Jenna and I like to call ourselves arancini experts because we lived across the street from the most popular arancini place in Rome, Mondo Arancina.  The ones at Bibiana are so dry, favorless, and lack the appropriate amount of cheese to make them gooey and delicious.  When we asked for balsamic vinegar to go with our meal, the server poured it on out plates for us because it was the only one in the restaurant.  That’s right, one balsamic vinegar for the whole restaurant.  In my opinion, I would buy cheaper Balsamic vinegar if it would mean they could be less stingy.  The Washingtonian named this restaurant one of the top 100 in DC last year, but I would much prefer to go to Cassa Nonna.

Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Crispy Kale

27 Mar

Accomplishment:  Tonight for dinner I made a great pasta dish with my left over sweet potatoes.  The kale is delicious!  If only I could make my dish look more like the picture.  I used homemade egg tagliatelle from Eastern Market near my place on Capitol Hill.  I stopped by there on my way home from a run around the National Mall today.  I would suggest using a thinner pasta than tagliatelle.

Sweet Potato Cream Pasta with Crispy Kale 
serves 4-6
1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 shallot, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup freshly grated romano cheese + 2 tablespoons
1/2 pound whole wheat pasta (preferably noodles)
1 head of kale, leaves torn from stems
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add kale, sesame oil, 2 tablespoons romano cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat with your hands and massage kale for 1-2 minutes, until flavors are distributed. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes, tossing 1-2 times while cooking, until crispy. Remove and set aside.

 

Bring pasta water to a boil and prepare pasta according to directions.
While kale is cooking, heat olive oil and butter oven medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add in shallots and garlic with a pinch of salt, cooking for 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Increase heat to medium and add in flour, whisking constantly to create somewhat of a roux. Once the roux has turned golden, add in mashed sweet potato and milk, whisking to combine. It will take a few minutes of whisking to bring the mixture together, and it’s okay if a few small bits of potato remain. Let the mixture come to a simmer in order for it to thicken a bit, but be careful because it thickens quickly. If it becomes too thick, simply add a little milk to thin it out. Reduce heat to low and stir in romano, remaining salt and pepper.
Once pasta is finished cooking, add noodles directly into the sweet potato sauce. Let sit for a few minutes, then transfer everything to a large bowl. Top with crispy kale and toss to distribute.

 

A Different Jersey

24 Mar

Exploring the small towns of Jersey. The Jersey I’m seeing right now is very different from what one expects after watching an episode of the Jersey Shore. The towns are very old, quaint, and filled with the most friendly people. Currently, I am sitting at a bar with my brother at the Frenchtown Inn built in 1860’s. We would eat here, but we ate at a fabulous Peruvian meal at El Tule in Lambertville, NJ.