A Week in Food

One of the best parts by far about traveling through Europe is getting to taste different types of food—especially because little Paderno del Grappa has no variety in food. One of the top five reasons I love travel weeks is because we get to eat something other than pasta and red sauce.

For my second travel week, nine friends and I traveled to Barcelona, Dublin, and Paris. I was so excited, mostly about the prospect of Spanish food. Having an abundance of Mexican food is something I’ve really missed about America. So boy was I excited to eat my heart out in Spain, Ireland, and France!

The first stop was Barcelona. Here I enjoyed a delicious quesadilla at our hostel, authentic Spanish tapas with sangria, and AMAZING paella with chocolate cake to top it off. I also tried hot chocolate with churros, one of their favorite desserts.

Tapas – meatballs, crab and potatoes
Chicken quesadilla
Crushed tomato bread
Veggie + meat paella dish
Couldn’t resist this chocolate cake

After experiencing Spanish cuisine, we headed to Dublin where we were met with good old comfort food and a variety that almost matched America. Ironically enough, our first night in Dublin we ate at a restaurant called Mexico to Rome that served Mexican, Italian and Irish cuisine. Odd, but their burritos were delicious! The server there even brought us glasses of water for FREE, without us even asking! Another thing I really miss about home.

Oh burritos, how I missed you!

The next day we took a trip through the countryside and west coast of Ireland and saw the Cliffs of Moher—quite beautiful! One of the best parts though was, of course, the food. We got a tour of a family farm that’s been there for over 100 years. Afterward, the young couple served us homemade cake and coffee in “Granny’s Cottage” where their grandmother used to live. It was a very welcome treat after walking in the freezing cold and wind for an hour.

Enjoying homemade cheesecake and coffee at Granny’s Cottage

Later that day I had seafood chowder and fish n’ chips. It reminded me of home in Seattle, where we love our seafood. The next day I had perhaps my favorite meal in Ireland—Guinness beef stew at the Guinness Storehouse. Absolutely amazing and perfect for the cold, blustery day.

Good ol’ fish and chips on Halloween

After three days of homey food, we were off to Paris. I started my Parisian food experience with a banana and Nutella crepe for breakfast (embarrassingly followed by a McDonald’s cheeseburger because I was still hungry). Later that night three of us treated ourselves to a nice three-course meal. My friend Mike ordered escargot and we all tried it—it actually tasted pretty good, but the sliminess made it something I would not order again.

Escargot – not as bad as I thought!

I chose to order a French version of Caesar salad, followed by flammekueche, a thin pizza like dish topped with onions and slices of cheese. Not bad! Then I topped it all off with my dessert of choice—three scoops of ice cream.

French Caesar salad
Flammekueche
Raspberry, chocolate and Madagascar vanilla :)

Now as if those first seven days of food weren’t good enough, the best part was my last day in France. I made it my goal to seek out a Ladurée shop, the famous French macaroons that I had heard of and been told to try. First, however, we stumbled upon a fancy bakery where we couldn’t pass up their bread. I tried the chocolate and orange bread…a weird combo, but somehow tasted absolutely delicious.

Amazing chocolate + orange bread

A couple hours later, we found it—Ladurée on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, otherwise known as the most popular street in Paris. There was a huge line out the door, a promising sign yet surprising because I did not realize how popular these macaroons were. After standing in line for a good 45 minutes before I finally got to buy some, I soon realized just how worth it the wait was.

Our first bite into a Ladurée macaroon! Pure bliss!

Having never eaten a macaroon before, I had no idea what to expect. But my first bite into my chocolate macaroon was pure, decadent bliss. I have never tasted something so delicious and flawless, I can’t even explain it in words. A crispy outside cake layer with the smoothest ganache filling…these were TO DIE FOR. And the flavors, oh the flavors! I splurged on chocolate, coffee, raspberry, and green apple macaroons. Every single one was amazing, even the green apple.

Raspberry macaroon

To make it even better, I enjoyed my last bites at the Eiffel Tower during sunset. It was perhaps my favorite moment of the entire week. Absolutely priceless. :)

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.

Arrivederci Seattle, Ciao Paderno!

Ciao! It’s my seventh full day here in Paderno del Grappa and I am already loving it.

Me standing by the entrance to campus

After a full 24 hours worth of travel from Seattle to Venice on Sunday-Monday, I couldn’t have been happier to finally arrive on campus. Little did I know how quickly things were going to start—the second we got off the bus, we checked in with the CIMBA staff, took a campus tour, and then had a quick orientation. Classes started the very next morning! (Much to everyone’s surprise.)

Our first two weeks on campus are jam-packed with orientation activities, classes, and the LIFE leadership program (which was incredibly eye-opening!). The philosophy of the CIMBA program, so eloquently put by one of my professors: “Work hard. Play hard.” With a full course load consisting of International Marketing, Business, Culture and Society, Journalism Ethics, Entrepreneurial Strategy, and Italian for Travelers, I definitely agree with this philosophy.

Something I’ve found myself really enjoying here is the fact that the majority of the students are from the Midwest or East Coast. In fact, the only two west coast schools represented are University of Oregon and University of Colorado Boulder. It’s so funny to see the differences between us westerners and easterners, like the fact that multiple people have pronounced Oregon “or-gone.” I find it so funny. It’s also very cool to hear about life on the other side of the Rockies. Not only am I getting an international education, but a broadened American one as well!

Other random things I’ve discovered/experienced thus far:

(1) Italians drive SO fast. The streets here are very narrow with no side lanes for bikers or people. Just crossing the street to go to the Tabacchi (Italian version of a convenience store), you have to watch carefully for cars whizzing by at 40+ miles per hour. And I thought Americans drove fast!

(2) Mosquitos are 100 times worse here and I should have packed Cortisone. I can’t seem to find anti-itch creme here in Paderno, let alone decipher the labels.

(3) When it rains, it POURS. The first two days here were gorgeous, sunny, 80+ degrees. But Wednesday it suddenly DOWNPOURED and all of us were caught in shorts and flip flops walking to class. It was quite the scene. Never again can I complain about the rain in Eugene!

(4) There’s no such thing as free water, much to my disappointment. Luckily in the dorms we get water (and only water) with every meal, except the glasses they provide are kid size. Everyone has to refill their glass at least 5 times during every meal. We get a kick out of it.

(5) Cheese is acceptable as a side dish during meals. The other night at dinner they served cooked mozzarella cheese, just by itself! It looked like someone had pulled the topping off an American-style cheese pizza and put it on a plate. It totally grossed me out.

Told you Italians love their cheese.

(7) The bathrooms at all the restaurants I’ve been to so far are set up very differently than in America. Both genders walk into the same toilette to find a common sink area and two more doors to a male and female stall. When I first experienced this I thought I walked into the men’s bathroom!

(8) Italians, at least the ones in the North, are very in shape. I have not seen an overweight person yet and when we hiked Mount Grappa yesterday, all the Italians we passed on the trail were cruising along with their walking sticks and hiking boots. Little did we know that we were embarking on a 6 hour trip up and down a 6000ft mountain. We looked like total wussies compared to the experienced and equipped Italians. What a trek!

Beautiful Mount Grappa (it’s a 10 minute drive from campus and I can see it out my dorm window!)

If I’ve learned this much in only three days time, I can’t imagine how much is in store for 3 months worth. I can’t wait! :)

This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.