Sweet Potato Hummus Vegan Grilled “Cheese” Panini

Do you ever just want a big crusty sandwich with good toasty crunchy edges? I do.

Sweet Potato Hummus Grilled Cheese Sweet Potato Vegan

Do you ever want something that’s warm and filling that gives you energy instead of making you feel icky? Then we have something in common.

Sweet Potato Hummus Grilled Cheese  Sweet Potato Vegan

And have you ever had hummus warmed up and realized it’s the best thing ever? I have. And if you have not, it would be my great honor to share with you this simple pleasure.

Sweet  Potato Hummus Vegan   Grilled Cheese

If a sandwich isn’t for you today, you could also try warm hummus in this Hummus Barley Bowl with Sweet Potatoes & Kale. Yes I did just try to subtly self-promote another post of mine within this post. Why not, right? It’s my blog and I #dowhatiwant. Like make sandwiches out of plants and call it grilled cheese. Can I get a kale yeah?

Sweet Potato Hummus Grilled Cheese Sweet   Potato Vegan

*crickets* Anyways terrible puns aside, this sandwich is dank monies. It’s creamy, warm, filling, crusty, crunchy, and oh so luscious. Kind of like Aaron Paul. Except better because it’s a sandwich.

Sweet Potato Hummus Grilled Cheese Sweet Potato Vegan

I grilled mine in a panini press. I really enjoyed this life choice. I forgot about my panini press. But hot damn I’m happy I rediscovered it. Time to rekindle my love for pressed sammies. All dem crispy edges <3.

Vegan Sweet Potato Grilled Cheese Panini

If you don’t have a panini press, feel free to use your stovetop and a shallow skillet or frying pan.

Sweet  Potato Hummus Vegan   Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices bread of choice (I used Multigrain Sourdough from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, baked or microwaved (about 1/2 cup mashed)
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon almond (or other non-dairy) milk
  • 1/4 cup hummus (I used Trader Joe’s Horseradish Hummus; this Miso Hummus works great, as well)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Optional (recommended) add-ins:
    • sun dried tomatoes
    • fresh tomatoes
    • roasted red peppers
    • roasted onions

Directions:

1. Cook sweet potato until tender, either in the oven at 425 degrees for 40-50 minutes, or in the microwave for 6-10 minutes.

2. Scrape the insides of the sweet potato into a bowl. Add nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper into a small bowl and mash together. Add almond milk to thin, if desired, and mix well again.

Sweet  Potato Hummus   Vegan Grilled Cheese

3. Spread a layer of sweet potato mash over one slice of bread, and a layer of hummus over the other. Add additional toppings, if desired. I recommend sun dried tomatoes.

4. If using a panini press, bring to medium-high heat and toast until insides have melted and warmed and bread is toasted, about 4-5 minutes. If you are toasting in a skillet on the stove-top, warm and melt about a teaspoon of non-dairy spread or coconut oil over medium heat. Gently place sandwich and allow to toast until browned, about 2-3 minutes, then flip to the other side and repeat on other side of sandwich until both slices of bread are browned, crispy, and delicious. Enjoy. 🙂

More Hummus:

Sweet Potato [Turkey Shaped] Bread

This month’s challenge for The Recipe Redux was to re-do a recipe that we remember as a traditional Thanksgiving dish, but make it a little healthier. At first, I had a hard time thinking of anything that specifically stuck out to me as “special” or specific or in need of a re-do. When I had Thanksgiving at one side of the family’s house when I was little, I couldn’t think of anything out of the ordinary that stuck out as a unique dish. Then, when we had it at the other side of the family’s, everything was Italian-ish and already super healthy (like roasted veggies and salads).

 Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.26.26 PM

Hmm, sigh. As I’m normally such a nostalgic human, I was a bit shocked that nothing immediately stood out to me. Then, out of no where, I remembered TURKEY BREAD and could not believe that I had forgot this beloved carby pillowy fluffy wonder of the world. This is something my mom would make with us when we were little almost every.single.year. I can recall once in high school hearing there were no plans of turkey bread on the menu and being a demanding little diva and insist it got made. It did. (insert emoji hand flip girl here).

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 6.25.29 PM

So what is turkey bread, exactly? Well, I feel like I should preface that there is no turkey or traces of turkey in this bread. It’s a brioche-type soft, fluffy bread that we always shaped into a turkey, you know, to be festive. [Read: my mom said we were driving her crazy and wanted to give us a hands-on project]. But now vegetarians and vegans can have a piece of turkey (bread), too ;-).

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.25.59 PM

This version of the bread is made healthier and even more festive via use of a sweet potato to provide softness and tenderness that was provided in the original recipe by egg yolks. So yes, I made brioche-inspired bread with no egg yolks, eggs, or butter, and yes, it turned out soft and fluffy and wonderful. In fact, I enjoyed the additional sweetness the sweet potato provided.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.20.50 PM

This bread is super fun to make and serve and everyone will love it. As long as you plan ahead with ample time to let the dough rise, it’s pretty easy to make, as well. The assembly is also much easier than it looks if you glance at the directions. Honestly the easiest way to do it is to just look at the picture and try to copy the shape. It seems to work best. Or make your own shape! It’s really up to you; I just hope you do make it and enjoy it!

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.21.20 PM

I genuinely hope you have a terrific Thanksgiving and long weekend! It’s honestly one of my favorite times of year because matter your religion or background, everyone comes together to celebrate delicious food and family. What is better than that? Have a good one and eat all da noms ! :-).

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.16.26 PM

Prep Time: At least 4 hours (to allow ample time for yeast to rise)

Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Medium

Yield: 1 medium-sized turkey bread that would probably be enough to serve as a side for 4-6 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 1/2 a pound or 8 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil (can also use other vegetable oil, or non-dairy spread or butter)
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 1 1/4-oz package dry active yeast (~2.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry (can sub all all-purpose flour or oat flour if desired)

Directions:

1. Cut sweet potato into small cubes (about 1 inch pieces) and place in a small sauce pan. Cover potato cubes with about 1″ water above the potatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce and simmer until the potato cubes are tender, about 15-18 minutes.

2. While potato is cooking, melt coconut oil in a second small saucepan and add almond milk and stir for about one minute.

3. Remove potato from heat. Strain the potato cubes, but KEEP THE POTATO LIQUID aka the water the potato pieces cooked in. I repeat, do not throw it away. Set it aside. This water has starch in it and you will use it to make your bread extra luscious and soft. Also, it’s basically #reclycing. #ecofriendly.

4. Take potato pieces and place in a medium sized bowl. Mash it and add stir in milk mixture and 1 tablspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Take 1/3 cup potato water and place in a microwave safe bowl or pyrex and heat to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit. Actually take the time to use a food thermometer and check to make sure you’re in this range, or you can kill or under-activate the yeast and all your efforts will be lost! Once it’s in this range, add 1 tablespoon sugar and the sea salt and allow to sit until foamy, at least 10 minutes.

5. When foam is formed, transfer yeast mixture to potato mixture and stir. Add all the flours and mix with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough has formed. Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is elastic-y and you have all your frustrations worked out. Then transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.

6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a rolling surface with a small amount of flour or plastic wrap and grab a rolling pin. Punch down the dough (this redistributes the yeast #foodscience) and give it a few good kneads. Then, remove about 1/5th of the dough to make the bird’s body. Set this aside. Roll the rest of the dough into a ball, and flatten with a rolling pin into a giant circle.

7. To make the feathers: cut the dough like you would a pizza into small triangles. Flatten each triangle with a rolling pin, and roll, from narrow tip to thick side (if each were a pizza crust, from the tip to the crust) to form rolled cylinders. They can and should vary in size, as they are wings, and you need a variety of sizes!

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.18.45 PM

8. Take the 1/5th of dough you set aside. Roll about 80% of that into a small ball for the body of the turkey. Roll out the other small piece into a cylinder, and twist and shape one end of it into a head, with a beak, and add a small bead for an eye. Place onto the body of the turkey, and wrap the neck as desired. Move body onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and begin to assemble.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.19.48 PM

9. Assemble feathers onto body by gently pressing the cylinders you rolled out into the body from behind. Place shorter cylinders towards the end, and the longer ones on top. If you need to cut and shape and re-roll a few, do it. Honestly this whole thing is easier to just look at the pictures and try to recreate the shape. Just pretend the dough is delicate play-doh I guess. Okay I spend too much time working with children and playing with play-doh.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.19.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.17.26 PM

10. Cover turkey with a towel and allow to proof for at least an hour. Don’t skip this step. According to everything I learned in food science, the second rising is more important than the first.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.20.07 PM

11. Place baking sheet into the oven and bake for 22-28 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges and puffed. When you lift the bread’s edges, the bottom should be slightly browned. And/or tap on the bread, and it should sound hollow. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 11.26.26 PM

12. Serve alongside your other favorite Thanksgiving noms and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving :-D.

For more healthy takes on classic Thanksgivng dishes, click around below for awesome ideas from fellow members of The Recipe Redux !

Whole-Wheat Rosemary Tomato Focaccia

Happy September AND happy Labor Day friends! Today marks the end of the summer and the end of tomato growing season – which means that you may, like me, be overwhelmed by the amount of tomatoes you have at your disposal for consumption.

  IMG_0445

There is nothing more August-y or wonderful than legit homegrown tomatoes. They taste 190% different than the big crappy ones you get from the grocery store in the middle of winter. You know what I mean – the sweet baby ones that you can literally pop like candy. OoooOooo baby are they a treat. I can literally eat an entire bowl of them and think nothing of it.

IMG_0431

Today not only marks the end of August, it apparently “officially” marks the end of summer. Sigh. And today, it was as if mother nature wanted to make sure we really knew this, so we had some morning thunder storms and cool, fall breezes to remind us of what lies ahead. Although I am sad to bid farewell to berries by the bucket-load and oodles of sunshine, I’m not totally opposed to fall. It’s my favorite flavor season (FALL VEGETABLES FTW!) and I am comfortable with the idea of big sweaters, racking leaves, apple pickin’ and pumpin’ cravin’. As the weather cools, I am only further enticed to warm up by the oven. Meaning more reasons to bake! #party.

IMG_0464

So on this awkward summer-meets-fall day, I decided to make a summer-meets-fall dish: focaccia with late summery tomatoes and fresh rosemary. I love fresh baked bread, especially on a windy cool day. And I’ve had a hankerin’ to make focaccia for a while now. I love its springy bouncy texture. Also today I learned it’s incredibly difficult to spell. So that initially make me like it slightly less, but also made more determined to master not only its spelling but also its taste. And then I forgave its difficulty to spell and accepted that I’m a terrible speller and moved on with life. With a pan of freshly baked focaccia to guide me to more important things.

IMG_0398

So give this stuff a whirl. It’s yummy plain, with soup, or for as an extra tasty addition to a sandwich. It’s highly customizable to your personal tastes, but the rosemary truly adds wonderful notes of pine and spice and the fresh tomatoes ended up as a gooey sweet caramelized topping. Ugh. Yum. #carbs5ever. So happy late-summer and happy early fall. See you in squash and apple season, babay.

IMG_0477

Prep Time: 4-8 hours

Bake Time: 20-30 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • one packet (1/4 oz) dry active yeast
  • one cup warm water (about 120 degrees F)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or molasses (food for the yeast to eat and grow!)
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all purpose or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • one large sprig rosemary, or 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 5-10 cherry tomatoes

Directions:

1. Warm the water and pour into a large bowl or stand mixer and sprinkle yeast on top. Add maple syrup and mix gently. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes until the yeast looks foamy at the top of the water.

IMG_0384

2. In a separate bowl, combine flours and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to water mixture, and olive oil, about 2 tablespoons of rosemary, and using the dough hook, mix dough well until a large dough ball forms, roughly 7 minutes.

3. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and store in a cool, dry, dark place for 2-8 hours until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough, knead for a few minutes, and transfer to a small, oiled baking pan. I used a random 6×10 inch pan.

IMG_0373

4. Poke holes all over the dough and allow it to do a second proof (rising) for about an hour. This proof is more important than the first rising. Don’t skip it!

IMG_0398

5. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If desired, brush a little more olive oil on the bread surface, and slice tomatoes thinly and gently press them into dough surface. Sprinkle a little more rosemary and sea salt on top. Bake for 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean upon removal.

IMG_0410

6. Cool. Eat. Make a sandwich. Dip in bread. Eat more. Enjoy.

IMG_0448

Cherry Chia Muesli Bread

We’ve been out of bread for like, 52 hours in this house. Which is, in my humble opinion, an emergency. I’ve been picking up whole grain bagels from Panera on the daily to get through these rough times. But last night, when I found myself unable to bear the thought of waking up to a bread less morning, I decided the store was too big a hassle (read: did not want to put pants on) so I dug deep into my dwindling pantry and decided to whip some up to bake in the morning.

IMG_9493

IMG_9441  IMG_9514  sorry for the excessive bread porn..

I was inspired by these weird Muesli rolls I grew quite found of when I studied abroad in Paris. This Monoprix grocery store right by school sold them $0.60 and when paired with some fresh fruit it made for the perfect little breakfast to eat before class (b/c eating IN class was a no-no in Franceland).

IMG_9443

Another no-no in France was iced coffee. It was like finding a nice, straight, actually decent non-pig boy at NYU. Basically impossible. I spent a gross amount of money and endured a lot of snickers from Starbucks cashiers who served me my iced Americanos, as they seemingly always enjoyed pointing out their appropriate names.

IMG_9543

So in Paris, not as much iced coffee. But great muesli rolls I’ll remember forever. Win some, loose some. Overall one of best experiences of lyfe.

IMG_9422

Back to bread: it’s the BEST. Especially when it’s homemade. Like this stuff. I didn’t have raisins like the muesli rolls I ate in France so I used dried cherries which I diced up. I also didn’t have millet seeds (which are GREAT in breads like this) so I used some chia seeds.

IMG_9455

The result was frickin’ delicious and a true treat to wake up to baking this morning and eat as a second breakfast because let’s be honest I need to eat within 10 minutes of getting out of bed or I punch people. So it baked as I downed my berries and oatmeal and served as a delicious mid-morning snack-attack buster.

IMG_9437

It’s really great warm. Or toasted. Or with almond butter. Would also pair nicely with goat cheese. Or cheddar. Or as part of a sandwich. Sweet or savory. Or just plain. Okay I really like this bread. Go bread. BREAD!! #carbs5ever

IMG_9505

IMG_9514

Prep Time: 4 hours (including rising – if left overnight will be longer)

Cook Time: 22-35 minutes

Level: Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (to feed the yeast! nomnom #betterrising)
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats, divided half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts, chopped (I used almonds, pistachios and cashews. and tbh this was because I bought an individual bag of these nuts at Walgreens earlier in the day and they were what was around. walnuts would work great. use what you have, always!)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chia seeds

Directions:

1. Heat water to 110-115 degrees and sprinkle yeast and sugar into the bowl. The sugar is for the yeast to eat. This will help it activate and your dough to rise. <–this is your mini food science lesson of the day.

2. Let the water/yeast sit for 5-10 minutes until it smells yeasty and looks foamy. Yum. Add flours, salt, and 1/4 cup rolled oats and mix.

3. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and let it work its magic for about 5 minutes. If doing it by yourself (bless your soul) kneed on a floured service for about 10-14 minutes.

4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and allow to rise/double in size. Two or three hours is minimum. I did overnight.

5. Punch down dough. This redistributes the yeast (#foodscienceminilesson2) and transfer dough ball to a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times and use a rolling pin or hands to flatten.

6. Chop nuts and dice dried cherries. Add sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and remaining 1/4 cup rolled oats together. Mix nuts, seeds, and chia together to make muesli.

7. Sprinkle about half of muesli onto flattened dough and then fold dough in half so the muesli is on the inside. Give it one knead then roll out then flatten the dough once more, sprinkling 1/4 of the muesli mix (half of what’s remaining) here and there. Next fold and knead the dough into  a round ball orby thing. Honestly I think when it looks a little imperfect it looks more beautiful.

IMG_9396

8. Sprinkle what’s remaining of the muesli on top of the dough and allow to sit (shaped) on a gently oiled baking sheet for an hour. This is the second rising aka the “proof”. It’s actually more important than the first. (#foodscienceminilesson3) Don’t skip this step. The proof is in the puddin’ LOL. sorry.

IMG_9441

9. While the dough is proofing, relax for a while. Walk your dog. When there are about 20 minutes left in your proofing time, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place an empty baking sheet on the lowest rack. This has a purpose I promise. Give the dough ball a slash or two (or three) with a knife.

10. When the oven is preheated and dough is proofed, place bread in the oven on its baking sheet. Pour a large cup of water onto the lower empty baking sheet to create steam which will help your bread brown and develop a beautiful crust. You can also spritz it a few times with a spritz bottle full of water, but this seemed more complicated at the time.

IMG_9455

11. Allow bread to bake 22-30 minutes until fragrant and golden and delicious. When it is done, should should hollow when you tap it on the top.

IMG_9539

12. Allow it to cool (if you can wait) and slice with a serrated knife. Enjoy plain or with literally any topping because it is so good you can do no wrong. Like, it’d even taste good with ice cream and pickles on top. Probably. Maybe. Anyways, eat up.

IMG_9526

that one time i lived in paris.

Exactly a year ago, I was working hard to cross things off my Paris-bucklet list as I savored my last few days in France. I spent six weeks nestled in a story-book-like schoolhouse in the Latin Quarter, commuting to French class 4 days a week at the quant NYU Paris campus through NYU Study abroad.

Image

goofin off en Paris!

I’m not really even sure where to start with Paris. It was almost surreal and when I reflect on it, part of me can’t believe that I lived it. Undoubtably, it was probably one of the best – if not the best – experience of my life.

Image

This is in retrospect, though. At the time I didn’t really realize how fucking lucky I was to be there. I was battling home-sickness and New York-sickness, as well as constant stomach problems brought on by the change in cuisine. I actually had a countdown on my wall, and happily crossed off the days until I headed home. The thought of this countdown disgusts me now, and looking back my only regret is that I would have been more open-minded, lived in the moment more, and tried harder to enjoy myself instead of wallowing in self-pity. Change in environment and food and culture and routine certainly let my anxiety creep over and control me a bit, but all that said, I still had the most amazing time and will never ever forget those beautiful six weeks.

Image

I got to do so much. I met the most amazing people, whom I’m still quite close with (in fact, the girl I’m lucky enough to call “roommate” for the upcoming year was someone I met in Paris). What I love most about my “Paris friends” (as I call them) is that we’re all incredibly different. We had different majors, interests, backgrounds – but somehow we all sort of clicked as a mini group. If we hadn’t all been tossed into Paris together hat summer, I’m not sure I would have found any of them or even if I had, gone out of my way to be friends with them. But I love them. They provided comfort, laughs, emotional support, and adventure buddyship I needed to get through study abroad. And even though some of them have since graduated college and even live in different parts of the world, we’re still connected. We still talk, and we still hang out. And that’s a bit miraculous to me. They became and remained some of my closest friends, which is something I never expected to gain from the trip.

Image

Not only did I make friends, I learned SO much. Likely more in six weeks than I normally do over a year. I learned a lot about France, the language, and French culture, of course, but less obviously I learned so damn much about myself I felt like I grew up 10 years mentally and emotionally. While I was there I realized how set I can be in my ways. Lesson learned – I’m now more open and more flexible, and try to appreciate things and humans for the way they are. And I’m happy about this. I also realized how much I am absolutely in love with New York. I’m having withdrawals this summer, as well. Anytime I leave for an extended period of time, I crave it. Life just makes more sense there to me. Where else can you get any kind of food delivered to your door at any hour of the day? I love not having to rely on a car, and adore how – although it sounds paradoxical to some – walking alone at 3am in the big city somehow feels totally safe. I love that in a 30 minute walk I can be in several neighborhoods and feel how their cultures make each very distinct and as if its its own city. I love that I can have access to basically anything at any hour of the day. 24 hour restaurants, pharmacies, office supplies stores, Best Buys – man we are SPOILED in the city. And now every other city just feels kind of limiting. So I guess, in Paris, I learned I’m becoming a New Yorker- and possibly a lifelong one.

Image

Speaking of spoiled, New York tainted my ability to appreciate French cuisine. Well aware that I’m likely making many people doubt my ability to know/love good food – I gotta say – I did not think the cuisine in Paris was all that great. This is totally personal, and probably has a lot to do with the fact that I do not like meat, which a lot of classic French cuisine includes. Aside from that, I found a lot of dishes over-buttered and under-seasoned. Often times I would eat an omelet or a side of cooked vegetables and taste only butter. I’m sorry – I’m Italian – I’m all about olive oil, and using it only to enhance (rather than overpower) the flavors of food. As someone who has never craved grease in my life, I found a lot of French entrees to be just a bit too rich for my taste.

Image

we found healthy food at Le Pain Quotidian – a Belgium place with a French name that was familiar to us as they have many locations in NYC (this is one of my favorite spots for any meal)

That said there were some things France knocked out of the park. What stands out most clearly in my memory was the fruit and the cheese. Fruit in France is all grown more or less organically – there are way fewer pesticides and nothing is genetically modified. And you can tell! The strawberries are all tiny, but pack much sweeter, deeper flavors than the large commercial ones you see in American grocery stores. In fact, all the fruit tastes sweeter. I’m not sure if its the water or the soil, but every piece of fruit was as satisfying to me as candy – and I have a raging sweet tooth. I also fell in love with donut peaches and fresh apricots in France – I ate so so many of these. And the pink lady apples were tarter, crisper, and sweeter – just overall more intense – than any I’ve been able to find here.

Image

Regarding true sweets, France did have delicious pasteries. They used almonds, coconut, pistachio and nutella (all things I love) in many of their desserts, and did it quite well. I had a soft spot for coconut and almond croissants, as well as macaroons and absolutely anything filled with pastry cream. I’d like to say these stood out to me more than American pastries, but sadly they didn’t. I’ve been very spoiled by excellent bakeries in New York and Milwaukee, and France’s pastries, while delicious, where simply among (not ahead of) others I’ve had. That said, I loved their use of many ingredients in dessert that are often overlooked in the United States, and I left inspired as a baker.

Image

Image

MMMmmm but all that sweetness needs something to balance it – this is perhaps why cheese is often or after served among dessert or fruit in france. And yes, the rumors are true. France knows and loves its cheese. It sits on a Parisienne pedestal and for good reason. I had a LOT of kinds of cheese, but goat has always been my favorite. And the goat cheese I had there (and I ate it a lot – salad chèvre was my go-to dish at a lot of restaurants) perfectly tangy and creamy. It was absolutely blissful to eat dipped with some chewy French baguette.

Image

salad with goat cheese…a favorite dish of mine in france

Speaking of grains, both my digestive system and I, truly missed whole grains while in France. My body is so used to consuming whole grain 90% of the time (because I truly prefer the taste), so the lack of fiber and sudden influx of refined flour wrecked havoc on my intestines. An overshare, perhaps, but this prevented me from enjoying a lot of food/experiences while in France.

All this talk of food makes me thirsty. So let’s move on to another France no-brainer: WINE. I was not a wine drinker before France. I was convinced I didn’t like it. Now I love it. Thanks you France! I kid you not, in some grocery stores, you could buy (cheap) wine for less than soda, some full sized bottles cashing in at a mere Euro (about $1.30 USD). I was even lucky enough to go on an NYU-sponsored all-expenses-paid field trip to Bordeux, where in addition to boat tours and excessive wining and dining, we were lucky enough to tour a winery. That weekend remains one of the most cherished of my entire life. I felt like I was living in a painting or a dream. It remains surreal, even as a memory.

Image

Image

Image

Image

I’m going to finish my France food post with something I know and love: ice cream. More specifically, gelato. In Paris I fell deeply in love. With Armorino Gelato. A Paris born chain started by two Italian men (because Italians do everything best), Amorino was on every corner to satisfy my ice cream addition. Expensive, yes, but well worth the money. It is clearly  made from real, quality ingredients (think – actual fruit, high quality chocolate, real cherries and coconut, etc) and they let you layer as many flavors into a beautiful flower as you could fit. This gelato was perfection. Creamy, but not too creamy, it boasted a a balance that was never too rich nor too sweet to overpower the star ingredient of each flavor. I became quite partial to the Speculoos, pistachio, coconut, mango, and amaretto (almond with cherry chunks). It was one of my favorite treats in France, and by some lucky miracle, the only Amorino in the US is within walking distance to my apartment in New York City, so I haven’t had to give it up. I go there from time to time, not only because it’s incredible, but because every bite is laced with nostalgia. And let’s be honest – food that can wash you with warm memories and fuzzy feelings always becomes a favorite.

Image

amorino gelato

So there you have it. A really unorganized food-laced reflection on France. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. But my Paris experience has never left me. My friends are still very present, and it has inspired me to be more open-minded and embracing of life. Most invaluably, I try harder to explore my world around me. Milwaukee, New York – Paris taught me to take advantage of my surroundings and see what the world has to offer. It’s important to experience life and not post up in your room. The world is meant for seeing. Every site, sound, and bite you take helps you grow up. Merci, Paris, for teaching me much more than how to ask someone, “où sont les salles de bains?”