10 amazinglicious days in Sicilia (feat. 36 fantabulous hours in Roma)

I don’t even know where to start‘ was in my mind when I sat down to write about our trip to Sicily, or Sicilia, and 9 months have passed since then. I’ve finally decided to finish thing post, and now I get to relive it! So, here we go.

My all-time favorite movie is Cinema Paradiso directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. While I absolutely love the music by Ennio Morricone, what most appeals to me in the movie is the small town where Toto and Alfredo share their friendship. Most scenes were filmed in Palazzo Adriano, a remote town located between Palermo and Agrigento. Visiting Sicilia and going to that little town was one of my biggest dreams and dreams do come true!

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As we were approaching Palazzo Adriano, my heart started to pound like crazy. Everything there was just as they were in the movie. No time seemed to have passed in this little town. We were guided into a little “museum” at THE square; as soon as the lady who led us there turned on the music from the movie, I LOST IT. I am guessing she’s seen quite a few people like me before, because she just had this smile on her face and said nothing. Just thinking about that day makes me tear up right now. 

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Alfredo’s bike was still there, pictures of famous scenes from the movie were hanging up on the wall. I honestly could have spent the whole day sitting at a corner at the square, sipping on espresso, talking to some old folks there and would have been completely happy. Then again, we had some food to eat!

Now, back to the point: FOOD. Aside from all things we loved about Sicilia, here’s what we ate, in the order it was devoured!

1. Palemo fish.pngTrattoria da Salvo (Corso Tukory 156, 90134, Palermo, Sicily, Italy) – Fish, fresh seafood, grilled and lightly seasoned. That’s it. And that’s all we needed.

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Antica Gelateria Lucchese (Piazza S. Domenico, 11, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – One gelato a day is a must and we religiously followed that rule! The most incredible flavor was pistachio, which tasted completely different from what I am used to tasting in 14,000 year old store bought crap in the States….!

3. Palermo market.pngMercato della Vucciria (Via Coltellieri, 90133 Palermo PA, Italy) – Markets are the best. Fresh ingredients, lots to munch, so many stories.

Palermo Food Tour (Foodies of Palermo through AirBnb) – I strongly recommend taking this food tour on your day 1 in Palermo. Our guide Salvo was extremely knowledgeable and witty. Not only did he give us delicious food, he also took us everywhere and told us so much about the city and the people. Things we ate: pani ca meusa (spleen sandwich, yes, you heard me correctly), gelato in brioche (it’s a thing, and it’s a beautiful thing), panelle (Sicilian fritters made with chickpea flour), arancini (deep-fried stuffed rice balls), sfincione (Sicilian pizza), Sicilian wine and OLIVES!

6. Palermo fish shop.png(Oh, did I mention that Italian guys are super hot?! I repeat, Italian men are HOT! I wanted to buy all the fish he had in his fish shop. Prego.)

11. cefalu.pngLocanda del Marinaio (Via Porpora, 5, 90015 Cefalù PA, Italy) – Every single pasta dish on this trip was cooked just perfectly. Cefalu is such a perfect daytrip destination if you are looking for something to do near Palermo. The romantic train ride from Palermo to Cefalu will take you to this shoreside town full of charm.

12. palazzo adriano.pngRistorante Pizzeria Del Viale (Via Venti Settembre 2, 90030 Palazzo Adriano, Sicily Italy) – This is the only restaurant in Palazzo Adriano and this IS the best restaurant. The cook/owner did not speak a word of English. She kept asking us questions with some hand gestures and we just said, “si, si”. We ended up with too much food; or is there such a thing as too much food if that food is absolutely delish…!

13. agrigento.pngOutdoor Cafeteria at the Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy) – This actually makes me kind of sad. Even cafeteria salads in Sicilia tasted amazing. It’s the ingredients. A fresh, well-grown tomato does not need any seasoning or sauce. I really enjoyed my meal at this cafeteria with the beautiful Greek ruins behind me. Why can’t we get this food quality/freshness at home?

14. turkish steps.pngLounge Beach Scala dei Turchi (Strada Provinciale 68, 182, 92010, Realmonte, Sicily, Italy) – Scala dei Turchi (aka Turkish Steps) is a gorgeous white rock cliff. A scene from the movie Malena (another great movie!) was also filmed here. While gazing at the natural beauty, a sip of aperol spritz is just perfect.

 

Antonio’s AirBnb Cottage (Canicatti, Sicily, Italy) – Antonio hosts guest from all over the world in his charming home located in this little town. With a very reasonable extra fee, he will cook for you and HE CAN COOK! This 10 course dinner consisted of a few local goat cheeses paired with pistachio cream and homemade jams, a pasta dish, an eggplant dish, a couple of seafood dishes, a couple of desserts including the cactus fruit and wine and booze! Homemade food at its finest! If you are headed west from Agrigento, his place is definitely worth a stop just for the food itself.

17. modica.pngBottega Sicula (Corso Umberto I, 128, 97015 Modica RG, Italy) – A quick sweet fix on our way to Siracusa from Ragusa. On this trip, we found a hidden sweet tooth side of my I-am-not-a-dessert-person hubby. Oh, did we crush this thing.

 

I Monasteri Golf Resort & Spa (Traversa Monasteri di Sotto, 3, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – A hotel restaurant isn’t usually my first choice of a meal, but every single meal at this place was unbelievable! Also, the fox. The first night we walked out to the outdoor dining area, we saw an animal around tables. I was thinking, ‘no way that’s a fox,’ and asked the waiter. “What is that?” “It’s a fox.” What an oddly awesome experience! Magical things happen in Sicilia.

 

Caffe Sicilia (Corso Vittorio Emanuele 125 96017 Noto, Italy ) – Just before our trip to Sicilia, Netflix released their new episode of Chef’s Table introducing this pastry shop. I was watching the episode drooling, but also said to myself, “terrible timing.” I wanted to go there before it was filled with tourists from the TV craze. Well, it wasn’t that bad after all, and everything there was completely heavenly indeed. Canoli, cassata, and the almond granita……. Mmm……………………………. I could still feel the texture in my mouth…….

 

Caseificio Borderi (Via Emmanuele de Benedictis, 6, 96100 Siracusa SR, Italy) – If you are in Siracusa, you have to stand in line for an hour, starve yourself, let the sandwich maker tease you with a piece of meat or cheese right before you die of hunger and then stuff your face with a ginormous sandwich at this place. Andrea is such a character. He’s a talker. I really wished I could speak Italian while standing in line, because people giggled and laughed every time he said something – even the intimidating looking uomini did, too. The sandwich buns are almost invisible by the time they are loaded with layers of fresh ingredients. Deliciousness overload! A visit to Siracusa won’t be complete without eating a sandwich here.

21 taormina.pngOsteria Villa Zuccaro (Corso Umberto, I 38, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – We had not eaten any pizza until we got to Taormina. There’s so much more than pizza and pasta in Sicilia, but pizza is damn good! The crust was just exquisite.

La Capinera (Via Nazionale, 177, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy) – This Michelin star restaurant is a short taxi ride from the busy town center. It was a chilly night and we got to have the whole outdoor dining section by the water to ourselves for a while. Impeccable service, great food and excellent wine pairing. Chef Pietro D’Agostino came out to the table and explained about every single dish we had. We totally spoiled ourselves here. One of the best meals on this trip!

23 taormina.pngLido Il Delphino (Via Nazionale 140 | Fraz. Mazzarò, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy) – There is no such thing as a bad meal in Sicilia. Italian people in general seem to take pride in their food (as they should). Without Yelping or anything, we walked into random restaurants we ran into and the food was always delicious. I read somewhere that Italian people don’t really care about the Michelin star status; ‘why should someone else tell us how good our already-great-food is’? I totally get it.

 

Aloha Mare (Via Lungo Mare 102, Bivio per Savoca, 98028 Santa Teresa di Riva, Sicily, Italy) – Leaving Savoca, where the famous wedding scene from the Godfather was filmed, we asked some local people where we could find good seafood. And this place hit the spot. Seafood in Sicilia is unquestionably the best. Again, it’s so fresh. They don’t overseason it, overcook it or smother it with heavy sauce. As a huge seafood lover, Sicilia was a utopia.

 

Quattrochchiacchiere (Via Monsignor Domenico Orlando, 13, 95126 Catania CT, Italy) – We did not get to do much in Catania, but we always manage to have a nice meal fit in our schedule. The staff at Airone Hotel gave a couple of recommendations for dinner for our last night in Sicilia. The salumi board had way too much meat and cheese for two of us, but every single bite was absolutely delightful. Then, our main course, mortadella and pistachio pizza, came out. I had never seen such a combination before, or I had never tasted anything that delicious before…! On this trip, I fell in love with mortadella. Mortadella is amazing; well-made one. Duh.

27 rome.pngAfter 10 amazinglicous days in Sicilia, we had 36 hours in Rome before our return. It wasn’t enough time to see everything Rome has to offer, so we decided to do a quick e-bike tour and watch a football (if you call it soccer, that’s fine too) game. Some luck we had, though. That one day happened to be the notorious Derby della Capitale (Roma Derby) day! After these beautiful looking slices of pizza, we went into the stadium for the our grand finale of our trip. Roma Derby itself is an experience you don’t want to miss!

This trip was definitely more than just eating good food, even though food was by far the best part of it. We might have been to a couple of dozens of restaurants but, the sad thing is, there are still so much more that we didn’t get to dine at. I would love to go back to Sicilia someday.

Should you want to know more about our trip, please feel free to reach out to me: Twitter or Instagram. Prego!

Visit to Korea 2017 

Oh boy, where do I even begin? 

We get to visit Korea (yes, South Korea) only once every 2-3 years. I’m from Busan, the second largest city in Korea. This time, we were there for my sister’s wedding so we stayed around Busan the whole time. Seoul is fun but I think I’ve come to like Busan more. I definitely enjoyed every single moment, every bite. 

Well, right after we got off the airplane, we went to Geoje Island for a family trip. We lucked out with this beautiful resort, Hiclass Geoje
Playing in the pool means HANGRY people!
There’s nothing like stuffing your face with BBQ meat and soju on a vacay!
On our way back from Geoje Island, we dropped by this restaurant for some FRESH seafood. In addition to sashimi, they also give you so many side dishes, aka banchan. The things in the above picture are: sea pineapple (sea squirt), conch, “live” octopus in sesame oil and sea cucumbers. They sound kinda horrifying but aren’t that bad😉 

So, now, I’m just gonna list all the things we ate in Korea😂 

Dwaejigukbap: pork and rice in pork-base broth. Busan is well-known for having awesome DJGB!
Guksu: Korean style noodle soup. It’s quite easy to make it at home but I have a go-to place in Busan. Never disappoints. 

Fruit cakes are a thing in Korea I’d say. Cakes are so pretty that I sometimes don’t even wanna eat them😂 Do they taste as good as they look? Heck yeah. 
앙꼬절편, some super famous rice cake! In Korea, things change very fast. There are a few VERY trendy items whenever I visit Korea. This time, at least in Busan, this thin rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste was a hit!
Mommy’s hangover soup! This dried pollock soup, aka bugeoguk (‘guk’ means soup), is the ultimate remedy for bad hangovers. My mom loves to add ground black pepper at the end. 

Kimchi pancake and makgeolli! The salty, crispy kimchi pancake goes perfectly well with the sweet rice (alcoholic) beverage. It’s pretty easy to get korean style pancakes in the States now. I definitely recommend you order one of these next time you are at a Korean restaurant. 

Handmade dumplings. You easily run into these big batches at any market places. 

Speaking of markets, I just LOVE walking around them and looking at all these delicious snacks, sauces, etc. 

Tempura style snacks: battered and deep-dried. Everything tastes great when fried!

Tteokbokki, rice cake and fish cake in spicy gochujang (red chili paste)! If you dip that deep-fried stuffed pepper in the red sauce and have a big bite, I guarantee you that there will be a party in your mouth. One of my favorite street food dishes!

Korean beef BBQ….! We went to this butcher’s/restaurant, where you pick your own meat. You take what you have picked upstairs and they give you this tableside grill along with a variety of side dishes. Locally grown Korean beef just melts in your mouth. 

Duck BBQ! No marinating, no seasoning. Just some fresh duck meat and lots of garlic!
Bar food aka anju. One great thing about drinking in Korea is that you keep eating while drinking. Your bar food selections are amazing too. This seafood noodle soup was perfect with our sake! Also, you can drink pretty much all day/night in Korea. A great place for party animals. 

Just another typical breakfast scene at my parents’. You get a bowl of rice and several side dishes. I think I ate so many veggies even without trying. I already miss her food😭

Sashimi bibimbap and gukbap (‘bap’ means rice). We went to this old, quaint village by called Huinyeoul Cultural Village by the ocean. Right before we walked around the hilly alleys, we went to this restaurant and had an amazing lunch. Not too heavy or light. Fresh fish and lots of vegetables. 

Then, more street food! Hotteok is like a mini pancake filled with brown sugar and nuts. My brother-in-law’s favorite snack it is. Dakgangjeong is Korean fried chicken covered in spicy sauce. They are usually in a bite size so it’s easy to eat them while exploring busy streets of Korea. 

S. O. J. U! This liquor is found everywhere in Korea. Super cheap. Each city has its own so it’s another fun to try different kinds.

Rice gelato! Yes, I said rice. Centum City is a huge mall located near Haeundae beach. There, I found this mysterious flavor and I fell in love right away. The combination of tiramisu and rice flavor was oddly satisfying!

Cakes, cakes and cakes! Too pretty. 

All-you-can-eat korean buffet! You pay $25 and just go to town. Amazinglicious!

Mom’s bulgogi lunch! 

My aunt’s scrumptious gimbap…! This is one of the things that I definitely miss a lot. I don’t know what she does to it but we all love her rolls. Very addicting!

Lastly, meals served on Korean Air! In-flight meals are usually awful but I actually do enjoy eating what Korean Air serves. On the way to Korea, the lunch was bibimbap with seaweed soup. On our way back, it was rice served with doenjang (korean miso, if you will) and veggies. 

Our trip to Korea this time was a bit too crazy between the wedding and some personal issues. I am not complexly confident that I ate everything I wanted to. However, it’s always so much fun to go out there and spoil myself with endless eating and drinking. What’s surprising is that I somehow lose weight despite all of that..! I guess it’s the lifestyle. 

I did have a great time in Korea, but it’s good to be back home with my kitties. So, Korea, till next time!

Asparagus meets pseudo-bulgogi!

Got some leftover ground beef? Make this asparagus wrapped in bulgogi marinade ground beef! Bulgogi is usually made with think slices of beef ribeye or briskets but who says you can’t use the marinade for ground beef?! 😬

You can bake it in the oven (375F / 15-20 minutes) or simply cook it on a pan with some oil. 

For 0.5lbs of ground beef: 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of sugar or molasses, 0.5 tbsp of sesame oil, 0.5 tbsp of mirin (optional), minced garlic, chopped onions, chopped jalapeños and some black pepper. 

That’s it! Super simple yet delicious! 

Hope you had a great Easter weekend! 

Getting my winter baking fix!

Once in a blue moon, I feel like baking. It might have been the snow on the ground, the cold crisp air or just me wanting some sweets but feeling too lazy to go get them. 

I googled simple brownie recipes and bam! Here they are all ready for my Sunday evening. And this actually is my favorite brownie recipe so far. Now time to devour while watching the golden globe awards!

Cheers to delicious winter! 

Recipe here!

Holiday cookie exchange 2016!

‘Tis the season! I am just coming back home from delivering cookies to our neighbors!

Baking isn’t my forte or my cup of tea at all, but baking for other people once a year is doable (well, with A LOT OF help from the hubby).

For the neighborhood cookie exchange, we baked two kinds of cookies. Got ideas and recipes from the Food  Network magazine.


These tiramisu sandwich cookies were the bomb! Well, they could have been a little more moist but they tasted delish. I mean, how bad can they be when they have cocoa, espresso, vanilla, mascarpone cheese, cream cheese, Kahlua, butter, butter, more butter, sugar, sugar and SUGAR! 😉


Then, hubby’s choice: peanut butter crinkles! These are firm on the outside and gooey inside…. Heaven in my mouth!

I gotta say, though. Every time I bake something, I keep thinking, “this much sugar?” 😂 These peanut butter cookies had brown sugar, granulated sugar and powdered sugar (lots of it😱). Oh well, not now then when, right?

It’s been so hectic. Now I’m ready to sit back and enjoy some Christmas music. Happy holidays!!

Summer Vacay 2016 – NY/VT/RI

I was away for a week and just got back home..! This vacation was, of course, amazinglicious as usual! LOTS OF FOOD every single day. 

It started with awesome BBQ at the annual family picnic in upstate NY. People bring not only sausages and burgers but also homemade desserts too. It’s one of the events that I most look forward to every year!
Then, there are meals prepared by Jo, who is better than any other chef!l that I know!😁👍 Her homemade food is out of this world. Pretty much everything is made from scratch! Don’t know how she does it every time. Her buckwheat crepes were a bit hit this year! 
During the visit to NY, we took a day trip to Burlington, VT. YES, when in Vermont, do what everyone else does: Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Too bad that we didn’t have time for the factory tour. Oh well, next time.  
After we left NY, we went to Rhode Island. Real vacation started there! Seafood, seafood and more seafood!❤️
Among all the great food options, these 3 particular spots were my personal favorites. 

1. Matunuck Oyster Bar, South Kingstown, RI – Great location, awesome service and delicious lobster rolls!

2. Wharf Pub & Restaurant, Newport, RI – Super friendly staff, GREAT food and fun drinks! This was by far the best restaurant (food and atmosphere wise) in Newport. Sit at the bar and make some friends!

3. Del’s Lemonade – THE. FROZEN. LEMONADE. OMG. We went to Block Island for another day trip. After biking for a couple of hours, the frozen lemonade just hit the spot. Refreshing, yet not too sweet, the lemonade even had bits of lemon in it! Gonna miss this one a lot I think. 

Yes, the trip was so much fun and delish! However, I can’t deny that I’m so glad to be back home snuggling with my kitties! 

Summer is almost over but it isn’t yet! Time for some more fun back in NOVA/DC! Happy summer☀️☀️☀️

P. S. When in Newport, don’t forget to check out the Bit Players at the Firehouse Theater! Great improv comedy shows on Fridays and Saturdays! Many of the people in the audience seemed to be locals. Apparently, Newport locals hate the construction of Broadway, which is a street a little off the main drag. It’s where things are happening these days! 

Christmas 2015 in New York!

This Christmas weekend has been so amazinglicious! It’s always great to have an awesome cook or two in your family. Between going out to some cool restaurants in upstate New York and Jo’s unbelievable cooking talent, I’m still in food coma. I’m really amazed how someone can cook everything so perfectly all from scratch! Jealous!

Here’s a little footage of my scrumptious weekend!  

    
     

    
    
    
    
   
   
This was my first year to go up to NY on a train too. The train station in Alexandria is conveniently located. Train ride took about 7-8 hours, which would’ve been the same if we had driven. However, by riding the train, we didn’t need to worry about the weather, traffic, etc. 

It was really good to see everyone and spend some quality time together. However, it’s also great to snuggle with my kitties while having some ramen noodles back home.   

 

Merry belated Christmas and a happy new year! ❤️

Christmas 2014 and now entering the new year!

2014 was such a scrumptious year! For Christmas, we picked a cookbook off the bookshelf and cooked a couple of dishes from it. Fun fun! 🙂

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Vichyssoise, skirt steak and some red wine jus over it!

For New Year’s Eve, we decided to stay in and chill with my favorite Thai food!

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This restaurant, Thai Square, is on Columbia Pike in Arlington. Doesn’t look like anything special from outside but THEIR FOOD IS SO GOOOOOOD!

Now I’m indeed ready for 2015! It’s gonna be another fantabulicious year. 🙂 Happy new year!!

It’s the thought that counts; better when that thought is delicious!

My father-in-law is a HUGE fan of Linzer tarts. Since the whole fam is down here with us to celebrate the holiday season, I’ve decided to make his all time favorite snack!

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I gotta say, it’s a major pain to make these little delicious treats but it was definitely worth every bad word I let out of my mouth while making them! 😉 I kept saying to myself, “it’s the thought that counts, right?” However, my father-in-law, aka a Linzer tart connoisseur, gave a generous 9 out of 10! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Now it’s time to enjoy!

Recipe from Allrecipes.com

Thanksgivng 2014 and the leftovers!

Have you taken off your turkey pants yet? After 4 days of stuffing my face, nothing seems to fit me any more so I still have my turkey pants on. 😉

I just finished cooking some turkey curry with the very last batch of turkey meat!

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Yesterday, I tried making this salad below, which came out great.

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Basically, take some of dry, white turkey meat, cut up some veggies
(onions, scallions, bell peppers, etc.) and mix with this dressing I use to make a smoked duck salad. How to make the dressing (4 servings) : 3 table spoons wholegrain mustard, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, 5 tablespoons of vinegar and some minced garlic. BAM! Thanksgiving food is one of my favorite but let’s admit it. It’s very heartattacky! This way, you still get to enjoy the turkey as much as possible yet in a healthier way. 😉

Speaking of awesomeness of Thanksgiving food, this year, instead of going up to see the family, we decided to stay here and cook. Here’s what we cooked and, I gotta say, it wouldn’t have been as fantabulicious without Food Network Magazine. 😉

Appetizer 1: Cornbread-Chorizo Stuffed Mushrooms (Recipe here!)

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Appetizer 2: Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp (Recipe here!)

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Side 1: Apple and Sausage Stuffing (Recipe here!)

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Side 2: Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows (Recipe here!)

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Side 3: Swiss Chard Gratin – Special thanks to Jo for cooking this for us last year! (Recipe here!)

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Side 4: Jalapeno-Bacon Skillet Cornbread (Recipe here!)

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Side 5: Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Recipe here!) & Gravy by hubby!

Everyone was in food coma after dinner. 🙂

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No matter how stuffed you are, you can’t skip desserts! Thanks to Erika, who is an awesome baker, Thanksgiving night was finally complete!

IMG_0843.JPGHope everyone had an awesome turkey day! Gobble gobble!

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