Introducing: alfredo sauce's badass older sister. I started things off with a heavy cream base and added in lemon juice/zest, garlic powder and then brie & parmesan cheese. Oh, and white wine because wine and cheese and pasta is everything!
True story, I basically never measure when I cook unless it's something crazy with very specific instructions. The good thing about this recipe, and really most recipes that I make is that they are hard to mess up. Don't be afraid to add in a little more of what you like/don't like. If it tastes too much like one ingredient, add more of the others. Worse comes to worse, you'll have leftover sauce...which means you can make more pasta and eat it all over again the next day. :)
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Bryant and I are still developing the travel guide part of my website but I figured I would share the basics of our Italy adventures since I've gotten so many questions about where we went to eat and what specific Airbnb we stayed at in Positano!
Our official travel guide will incorporate way more detail about how we got around, what the people were like and how much money to expect to spend! (Yea, we documented every penny, like absolute freaks.)
We took a private car arranged through our Airbnb host from the Naples airport to our place. Click here to see where we stayed. (This is where Bryant proposed! Full story to come in our more official travel guide!!) Our place was uphill (and if you're looking at a map) west of the main public beach in Positano. There were busses that ran every so often (signs with times at every stop on the main road) and then there was a sort of hidden stairway that you could walk all the way down to where you will find the main public beach area, the ferry ports and restaurants & shops. You could also walk down the main road which leads to an area near the main beach, there are tons of restaurants and shops along the main road.
This is the first place we ate, we wandered a bit down the main road to find lunch. The first thing they brought out to the table was bread and chili oil (LOL) and then olive oil too. I ordered the spaghetti vongole with tomatoes (and by tomatoes, they literally mean 3 cherry tomatoes) and then Bryant had the bolognese. Both were BOMB, because well, it's Italy.
Il Fornillo Ristorante
We went here for dinner on the first night shortly after the engagement! They had cacio e pepe on the menu so naturally, i was like F*CK YES gimme dat. The pasta was a little more al dente than I would prefer but I just got engaged so I basically didn't care at all. Bryant had pizza, he ordered pizza a lot and it was seriously amazing at every single place.
We (or maybe it was just me) were super hungover after the engagement celebrations and wandered down this like 3 mile staircase to the restaurants on the beach. We picked this one because it was under really pretty green vines, there was tons of open air and we saw a plate of calamari walk by that looked divine - it was, we loved it. We shared the ravioli, and we didn't love it.
This place was BEAUTIFUL. To get to it we walked through a little alley way of shops and they had a special truffle pasta special that I will regret not ordering for the rest of my life. It was by far the fanciest/most expensive dinner we had but the atmosphere was really pretty and you could tell it was a classy place. Side note: they offer cooking classes in the morning which was cool too.
Ristorante Il Capitan
This was our last dinner in Positano! (Tears.) It's part of a hotel called Hotel Montemare. It overlooks the water and the beach from up high and it is the perfect place to watch the sunset while you eat. I really wanted to try squid ink pasta while I was in Italy so I ordered it and was super grossed out. It tasted way too fishy for me. So I proceeded to drink a ton of wine and eat all of the amazing pizza that Bryant ordered.
I LOVED CAPRI. Mostly because of the boat ride that we went on which we found through our Airbnb app's "Experience" tab. As soon as we got off the ferry we were hounded by locals trying to get us to sign up for their boat tours, and we saw them while we were on our boat tour. Their boats were bigger and crowded with tons of people holding their phones up in the air trying to take pictures. Our boat was 8 American millennials drinking beer/wine and having a great time. I HIGHLY recommend booking though Airbnb experiences, you will not want to be on the other boats full of tourists. My favorite part was swimming! The water was freezing but also the most clear water I've ever been it. One second I was looking down at fish and the next second I was looking up at mountains covered in green trees with foggy smoke surrounding them. It kind of reminded me of Jurassic Park and I was loving it so much.
The port of Capri is lined with restaurants and we ended up randomly picking this one because they had a lemon pasta on the menu that I really wanted to try. It ended up being one of my favorite dishes of the trip! The lemons and citrus in Italy are so fresh that it takes the flavor of certain dishes to the next level. I was dying over it - so so so good.
We spent the last two days of our trip in this magical place. It was so different from Positano because there were way less tourists, or at least American tourists. The English language was the least common here out of everywhere we went. I mean literally, our Airbnb host was trying to tell us not to leave the windows open when we left because of birds and she flapped her arms like a bird to try and get the point across...I was dying inside. Very nice lady, but the language barrier was real.
Salerno was also very different than Positano because all of the streets besides the main one along the water were tiny little alley ways that twisted and turned throughout the city. Instead of little houses built into cliffs, it was more of a flat landscape with taller buildings. At first it was confusing and intimidating but after we got to our Airbnb we had a nice view of the layout of the city and found out that there was an elevator we could take to the entrance of our Airbnb. At first we were trying to use google maps to find our way and it was not working out so well with all of the little roads.
Ristorante Il Duca
Here's where we went our first night in Salerno! It was in a tiny alley way and we sat three floors up on the roof. It actually overlooked the alley and was a beautiful view. Our waitor didn't understand that we wanted still and not sparkling water, so we were forced to just deal with it, haha. I ordered a bacon and cream sauce pasta - the noodles were super thick and it was real good. Bryant had the gnocchi which was equally as amazing.
Trattoria Pizzeria Zi Renato
So this restaurant was one out of many along the main street in Salerno that was parallel to the ports and water. It was cute with red checkered tablecloths and the service was pretty good. Once again, blown away by the pizza but the pasta was seriously disappointing. I ordered the carbonara and it came out as penne noodles with scrambled eggs and very pathetic bacon. Someone DM'd me and they were like "ordering bad pasta in Italy feels the same as when you find out Santa Claus isn't real" and it was the realest thing anyone has ever said to me!! I was so sad because I even had a shirt that said "I want pasta" and I just so happened to wear it the time that I effed up my order. BOO. There was this place next to it called In Rada, I would try there instead.
Goccia Wine Bar
This place was super funky, but cool. Lots of different looking people. They had cacio e pepe on the menu and I obviously was immediately sold. They brought out a really weird salad with like chopped cabbage and carrots and it smelled weird so we didn't touch it. I may or may not have had too much wine and asked the waiter if he spoke "American," like an idiot. I'll never forget the look on Bryant's face when it slipped out of my mouth, LOL. Okay back to the food, the cacio e pepe was amazing, def enough for two people. It was super al dente and there were bread crumbs on top!
I make this all the time but I don't think I've ever actually written a blog post about it since my old website was a thing. This is legit the easiest recipe ever. If you head to the Asian section at almost any grocery store you should be able to find fresh cooked noodles that are vacuum sealed in a pouch like this Ka-Me Hokkien brand of stir fry noodles. (I used two of the pouches for this recipe, each package usually comes with two.) The best part about these noods is that you don't even have to boil water to cook them, they're just ready to go! Ah, so easy I love it.
Of course you can add in chicken or tofu, and even shrimp - whatever you're in the mood for. :)
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It was pretty ironic to be in San Fran during the first Cavs vs. Warriors finals match. And then less ironic and more heartbreaking when J.R. Smith decided to forget the score of the game in the last couple seconds lol...whoops. We watched it in the hotel lobby and the food they served there kind of made up for how shitty that felt. So the Cavs lost but everything else was a win.
I came to San Fran for the 2018 Brand Marketing Summit which was held on Wednesday and Thursday and then I stayed the rest of the weekend to do FOJ things. Bryant flew out to meet me and then we hung with my boss and her boyfriend. We tried to go to Trader Joes to pick up a bottle of wine and the line looked about the same as the line for the Dragster at Cedar Point so if you're going to buy booze, don't go there, lol.
We stayed in the Union Square area which is about a 20 minute Uber ride from the Golden Gate Bridge, a 10 minute walk to tons of shopping/dining and Chinatown. Since the travel was primarily through work, we stayed at The Parc 55 Hotel instead of an Airbnb (which is usually my favorite way to lodge while traveling.) Our Uber driver on the way back to the airport told us that San Fran is only 7x7 miles big which kinda blew my mind. It was definitely super easy to get everywhere we wanted to go.
We did visit the Golden Gate Bridge on our last day and it was really cool. We hiked down (literally felt like I was Frodo Baggins climbing mountains) as far as you could go to Baker Beach. I wasn't aware, but apparently that is where nudists like to hang out. There were like 3-4 groups of men that were j chillin butt naked...kinda weird, kinda funny. Whatever! Still such a fun experience for sure.
As far as people, it seemed like everyone was either super rich or super poor - lots of strange homeless people encounters but you'll find that in every city.
As far as weather, it was way colder than I expected. I wasn't aware that it's typically warmer in Cleveland during this time of the year than it is in San Fran! It was like high-sixties, low-seventies. Everyone was saying we were lucky to experience such good weather but I didn't wear shorts, and had a jacket on almost the whole time I was there and I thought it was pretty cold (especially at night.)
Key takeaway: there are a lot of "garlic fries" in San Fran and you must order them everywhere you go.
Puccini & Pinetti
This is the first spot my boss and I went after starving on an airplane for hours, it was literally across the street from our hotel. We LOVED the bruschetta appetizer that came with goat cheese and this warm bread drizzled with balsamic glaze. After that, I of course ordered the clams and linguine and my boss, Rin, got the pappardelle - both were really good. So good that we in fact reheated our leftovers with a blowdryer in the hotel room the next morning. That was fun.
Super Duper Burgers
This west coast burger chain is what's up. It sort of reminded me of Shake Shack! There were sesame seeds on the bun which sucks because I'm allergic but I was feeling dedicated so I literally scraped every single one off before eating. I seriously loved the garlic fries and all of the different sauces you could order on the side. ALL ABOUT DAT SAUCE, always.
The Old Siam Thai Restaurant
I walked past this spot on my first night and saw tons of people eating really good looking Thai food through the window. We decided to head here for lunch after discovering it and it didn't disappoint. I ordered the pad see ew and I loved it. The spring rolls were bomb too. There were jars of different sauces and powders on every table and the service was really good as well.
Begoni Bistro - Chinatown
As soon as I saw all the hanging lanterns I was in love - I mean, they kinda look like little dumplings, right? San Fran's Chinatown is full of tons of quirky shops and then tons of restaurants. We tried to go into one based off the pictures hanging outside, but they stopped serving dim sum for the day so I made my way over to the spot that's linked above. The soup dumplings were pretty good and then they also had legit congee - which is kind of like a rice porridge that has life saving (hangover curing) powers. I ate it for the first time in New York with @nom_life and I don't think it's something I would of ever considered eating if they didn't let me know how good it was! It tastes way better than it looks. The green dumplings in the photo below are the vegetable dumplings that were packed with mushrooms and lots of cilantro.
Scoma's - Fishermans Wharf
Fisherman's Wharf was a really cute part of town near the water and this restaurant was tucked away back on one of the piers. Their tag line is actually "from pier to plate" which it thought was cute. There's tons of local fisherman fare on the menu, but I'm allergic to fish so I wasn't able to try it! I could immediately tell upon entering the restaurant that it's the kind of place that serves good food - the waiters kind of dress like butlers too which gave off a fancy feelin'. The clam chowder was amazing, and so was the clam pasta. Can you tell that I like clams??
We went to a Giants game which was really cool because the home run porch is basically the water. Home run balls land in the bay and kayakers paddle over to claim their prize, lol. I was super hungover so we didn't make our way to a ton of food spots but there was some cool looking Asian food stands. I got a Giants Dog vs the regular ballpark dog because it was beef and pork instead of just beef and I think it tasted way better than the original one that Bryant ordered, but that's just me. It was longer and skinnier than the other one and obviously, less beefy. Also, there was someone walking through the stands selling churros which I thought was awesome because you usually just see cotton candy and peanuts. I was very jealous of everyone walking around with chicken fingers that looked like the definition of perfectly crispy, greasy chicken fingers.
Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar
We stopped in here for a few drinks and a quick bite to eat and I'm so glad we did. If you're from CLE, it's just like Porco Tiki Lounge, but bigger with a pool in the center. Every 20 or 30 minutes it rains into the pool and there's thunder storm sounds - SO COOL. It legit felt like we were getting drunk the the jungle. (PS - it's inside of a hotel so it's not something you'll see or recognize from the street!) We ate the vegetable pot stickers, chicken wings and spring rolls. All three items were so sooo good and the drinks were on point too.
A while ago, my girl @nom_life posted a picture and I was like WHAT IS THAT. I NEED IT. NOW. I haven't been able to find it on any menus around Cleveland - and the one place I did, it wasn't good.
Long story short, it was a photo of Zhaliang - a popular dim sum dish. Which is basically Chinese fried dough wrapped up in a sticky layer of rice noodle. If you ever see it on a menu, you have to order it. I don't care if you're on a diet, allergic to gluten..or whatever..everyone needs to experience this shit. It's exactly why I'm so obsessed with Asian food. I mean, its a noodle-wrapped donut for crying out loud.
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If you're going to have meat in your pasta sauce, it better be a lot. That's why one of my favorite brands of meaty pasta sauce is MID's True Sicilian Pasta Sauce, because it's SO meaty!! You really don't even have to taste it to know, you can see the meat right through the glass jar.
I buy MID's pasta sauce from Heinen's - a local Cleveland grocery store, but you can pick it up at most major stores. Click here to see where you can buy it from. They have tons of good protein-packed flavors besides the traditional meat sauce like Italian Sausage, Meat & Mushrooms and Italian Sausage & Peppers.
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Everything is better between two slices of bread. I remember the day my family made the big switch from white to wheat bread. I hated it at first but as time went on I started to love it and my favorite kind has always been Brownberry Bread's Whole Grains: 100% Whole Wheat. That said, I am so excited to be working with them on this post!! Tap the product to learn more details about the bread and to see what other products Brownberry Bread offers.
Also, homemade macaroni and cheese is where it's at. I make it from scratch a couple of different ways, but this method is seriously SO cheesy and stringy which is perfect for when you need the noodles to stick together in certain recipes.
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I think that I might like wontons better than dumpings. There's more noodle to them once they are folded up and that's what it's all about. If you want to see more visual details for how to make this one, there's a highlight reel on my Instagram page as well as a video that's posted to my feed. You don't have to use pork, I just prefer pork in all of my wontons/dumplings since it's the most fatty and flavorful meat in my opinion.
My favorite wontons EVER are from Szechuan Gourmet in CLE's Asia Town, and these remind me of them! At one point, I ate lunch there every Friday for five weeks in a row. #TrueStory
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I think that pork dumplings are my favorite because pork meat is more fatty than other meats, and there's a ton more flavor. I also like to combine the meat with very finely shaved cabbage too because I like how it makes the texture of the meat softer and less condensed, like a meatball.
Speaking of even more flavor, you can marinate the ground pork over night ahead of time. This is seriously a game changer - if you have the time, definitely do it.
This filling recipe is enough to fill up about 30 dumpling wrappers. I love to serve them with chili oil and soy sauce.
My life hasn't been the same since Ewa and Jeromy from @nom_life brought over their favorite kind of chili oil. I put that shit on everythingggg. I've bought chili oil before but I think it's way better when it's from the Asian grocery store and there's actual chunks of good stuff in there like garlic and pepper flakes.
The inspo behind this recipe comes from a combination of sauce recipes from @thewoksoflife's blog and then what the older man at the Asian grocery store said to do. :)
It turned out WAY too spicy at first - like I was slightly crying, lol. I ended up taking all of what I made and separating the oil from the flakes - then added neutral oil back into the flakes little by little and taste testing with plain crackers. It was still insanely spicy, so then I added in about four tablespoons of brown sugar and that mellowed out a bit.
I think the main source of that heat is coming from all of the red chili flakes...so you could use less of them if you can't handle really spicy things, your end product will be more of a thin oil than a chunky oil.
This recipe makes about 2 1/2 cups of chili oil and it's good in the coldest part of the fridge for about a month.
How to make:
- HERBY SAUSAGE GRAVY GRILLED CHEESE
- THE BEST CREAMY TOMATO SAUCE
- MANGO HABANERO WINGS (!)
- LASAGNA CARBONARA STACKERS
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