August 31, 2016
August 18, 2016
A place where women are allowed to be both feminine and bad ass? What could be better than that? I feel grateful that all my weekends spent at the roller rink in grade school - and on the ice in my teens - lead me to roller derby... though my mom might disagree. She shut down my desire to play ice hockey in high school, on account of my expensive orthodontics, but my desire for an aggressive outlet has clearly remained.
Now that I'm an adult and I can knock out my teeth if I want to (don't worry Mom, I wear a mouthguard that carries ample dentistry insurance), I'm jumping into this new endeavor with years of pent-up energy that never got expended on anything athletic (thank you, celiac). Roller derby is a pretty hardcore sport, but still, one can't help being a little girly about the whole thing considering the awesome gear and all the cool merch to support what I'm quickly learning is more a lifestyle than just an extracurricular.
I'll be honest, my insistence on the glitter helmet as I bought all my newbie gear might have seemed silly, but there are so many cool additions to consider as I quite literally gear up for derby: fun skate laces, custom toe guards, bad ass looking wheels. Don't even get me started about all the shirts, hats, buttons and the like that proudly displays ones love of derby in the rare off hours not talking about or training for derby. Roll and Destroy out of Hamburg are kind of my favorite right now and I can't wait to pass the MST and choose a derby name, mostly so I can have them custom emblazon it on pretty much anything and everything. Until then, I'll just have to show my dedication with derby kisses (those are bruises, Mom).
rainbow Derby Laces | derby enamel pins | Straight Outta Derby tank | Skaters Gonna Skate sweatshirt
August 16, 2016
Ever since I first stepped foot in France when I was 16 years old, I felt all my Francophile dreams come true. I loved the lyrical sound of their language, the slower pace of life and an emphasis on enjoyment of all things: wine, cheese, love. After all, who couldn't deal with a little more of that in their lives? So even with apprehension about how I could eat well as a celiac in this land of croissants and crusty bread, I couldn't say no to what would become my seventh trip to this beautiful country.
In late April, we enjoyed a truly lovely Airbnb within the walls of Avignon's old town, perfectly located for exploring the city on foot. After an unfortunate start with my first day there spent in bed with a raging fever, we explored the city and took several day trips out to the surrounding areas. We saw Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Malemort-du-Comtat, Roussillon, Gourdes, the beach at Carnon, Montpellier and Lyon. There was stereotypical Provence dreaminess everywhere - great cheese and wine, charming crumbling architecture and rolling vineyards - but also many thing that surprised me, like my first-ever sighting of flamingos in the wild, the incredible, 100% gluten-free Montpellier café and Avignon risotto spot we found, and Roussillon's stunning Ochre Trail (more on that in a later blog post). The saying may be 'Paris is always a good idea', but really you can't go wrong anywhere in France. Ahh, la belle vie...
Want more? See my Provence album on Flickr.
August 9, 2016
Ahhh, July... Those mid-summer months full of sunshine and sandals, ideal for cool salads, ice cream and delicious food you don't have to slave over in your own kitchen. Last month was the perfect culmination of ideal summer eating, both at home and out in the glorious weather. Berlin summer, you spoil me.
1. Jones Lemon-Mint Sorbet
This long-awaited shop opening meant even more greatness from my friend Gabrielle, who I also happen to be an enormous fan of. I'm a sucker for anyone with a French accent and the chops to have baked at the Ritz in Paris, but her American-inspired ice cream endeavor speaks for itself. Tart and refreshing, this might be summer's ideal flavor.
2. El Carrito Con Todo Arepa
There's a new arepa in town - and this one certainly lives up to its predecessor. I go all in with the version that packs everything into that perfectly crisp and soft naturally-gluten-free corn pocket: tender beef, gobs of melted cheese, black beans and avocado (but of course they've got veggie-friendly versions as well). Just don't forget the extra napkins!
3. Chopped Thai Chicken Salad
Nothing is better than a crisp, cool salad on a hot day. Chopping to replace simmering over sweat-inducing appliances. This cabbage-centric, peanut-sauce doused version is definitely having a moment in my summer kitchen. What takes it to the next level? That amazing peanut butter I've been going on about since Portland in the Spicy Thai version doused on top. On the hottest of days, it transports you directly to Southeast Asia. Well, almost.
4. Melon-cucumber soup at Lykke
At my first visit to this relatively new Neukölln cafe, I didn't know what to expect. So I ordered this delicious-sounding soup to have along with my quiche, not realizing the quiche itself was rather large and came with salad as well. Even with way too much food in front of me, I could not stop eating this cool, refreshing soup. Might be time to whip up my own version at home...
5. Homemade BBQ Chicken Pizza
Ever since our Portland trip and all the amazing pizza - both fresh and frozen! - I've lamented at not having truly spectacular gluten-free pizza options here in Berlin. There are good ones, ones that get the job done in a pinch, but nothing I'm clamoring for out of much more than just convenience. So at home, we've been trying various crusts to see if we can't get something more like what we enjoyed in PDX. While nothing is 100% right on yet, we did discover a new recipe that beat out all other pre-made mixes we tried. With the addition of cornmeal on the crust, it was not far off from a classic American, gluten-filled pizzeria. After adding some BBQ chicken and extra sauce, cheese, corn and green onions, it was a pretty tasty replacement for the CPK version from the States I'd been missing.
July 26, 2016
I didn't try Back to Eden Bakery until my last trip to Portland mainly for one reason: It was vegan. While I have nothing against someone's choice to be vegan, for me personally, I believe my friend Adam explained it best: "If I have to give up gluten, why would I also take great things like dairy out of my diet by choice?". I couldn't agree more and while I have a borderline obsession with French butter (...and French yogurt and French cheese...sorry, vegans), what matters to me most is that food still tastes amazing while allowing me to eat safely with a massively-restrictive auto-immune disease. When I finally conceded and tried Back to Eden, which is both vegan and gluten-free, I was so shocked you could have knocked me over with a feather. This was the best vegan food I'd ever tasted!
As a gluten-free baker, I am very particular about the taste and textures of what I make, working hard to make them feel like their gluteny counterparts. But take out the eggs and butter, and it just feels hopeless. Every time I've tried vegan baked goods, I've experienced what many people do when they taste one of the many sub-par gluten-free treats out there - it just tastes too vegan, in the sense that it's off or unsatisfying. Back to Eden single-handedly proved to me it is possible. Flakey, delicious pie crusts? Check. Fluffy, spongey cakes? Yup. Scones with the perfect crumbly-yet-moist texture? They've got that down too. Somehow they got a buttery vibe in things without using any butter. I was blown away. And my family, who couldn't be further from vegan, was too. Very much like the goal for my cakes is for gluten-eaters to think it doesn't taste like it's gluten-free, everything I tasted here I felt similarly about: I couldn't even tell that it was vegan.
I always feel apprehensive about recommending vegan spots, as it's not my area of expertise, but I am confident in saying this place is a tremendous bakery for gluten-free fare and if you're vegan, then even better. When ordering the biscuits and gravy, I let myself be talked into adding the vegan sausage made of walnuts and was impressed at its non-meat meatiness and satisfying addition to the dish. Having the sweet tooth that I do, my other stand-out favorites were the scones (both the savory pizza scone and the sweet iced citrus-ginger versions), the incredible chocolate cream pie I'm pretty sure my step-father had no idea was vegan at all and of course, that chocolate doughnut topped with root beer icing and dusted with cocoa powder that started it all for me. I dream about those doughnuts!
Until next time, PDX...
Back to Eden Bakery
2217 NE Alberta Street, 97211
also a truck at corner of SE Division & SE 28 Place, 97202
1 (503) 477-5022
July 24, 2016
One of the things I love the most about Berlin is the street art. The creative vibe around the city is just so inspiring. So how lucky did I feel when I realized that my new home-away-from-home is a city that fills public spaces with art as well? A bit more polished than Berlin, Portland's art is no less impressive or creative, from the giant murals of the Alberta Arts District to The Horse Project, it's like a giant living, breathing art gallery.
With organizations like the Portland Street Art Alliance and Forest For The Trees advocating and creating public art in the city, it's easy to see why it's thriving in this Pacific Northwest spot. So just like in Berlin, one of my favorite things in Portland is to just wander around, seeing what urban art I stumble upon. Any idea what/where some of these pieces are in the city...?