A Taste of History On Your Table

To get this fresh ricotta I went on an adventure… a real food adventure.

Often times I gravitate towards recipes, market finds, restaurants or locales based off of one shining ingredient or specialty that has been raved about through the grape vine. In this case, I read about Alleva in a local food publication when I was living in Manhattan. Edible Manhattan has interesting articles, from trendy rooftop gardens in Brooklyn to this old-school establishment in Little Italy.

Off to the oldest Italian cheese shop in the country I went!

Of course, you gotta have the cheese!

Making batches of fresh mozzarella, one of their specialities!

I paid my respects to the Salumi Shrine!

But what I really came for was the ricotta…

Homemade ricotta… another specialty they’re known for.  It’s simple pleasures like this that add extra joy to my life.  I also picked up a bucket of deliciously, firm olives, and a small jar of capers packed in so tight with just salt–no liquid.

Now enter: the Kitchensurfing HQ

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No News… Is No News

Just wanted to stop in real quick to make a couple exciting announcements!

 First off, I’d like to announce the winner of the Spartan Race giveaway!

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Congratulations, Drew!!! I’m so excited for you to take part of this incredible obstacle race. I also want to say thank you to everyone who participated by extending the discounted race entry. Click the button below, and you’ll receive 10% off!

Experience the World's Best Obstacle Race Series! Sign up for a Reebok Spartan Race Today!

In other news…

guava ice cream

Homemade guava ice cream in the house!  I’ve been developing recipes for a cookbook, and this one’s for keeps.  Recipes are churning, and before you know it you’ll be able to make them too!

Check out Behind Foods’ latest newsletter, Coffee: To Drink, Or Not To Drink? Chicory Is The Answer, freshly brewed! Click here to subscribe.

Here’s a sneak peek for what I have in store for next time…

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Whatever could it be? Any guesses?

Fear Is What Stops You, Courage Is What Keeps You Going

Afternoon, readers! Today I’m sharing something special, and I’m excited to spill the beans!

Have you ever competed in an obstacle course race?  Circuit training classes certainly seem like obstacle courses sometimes, but I can’t say I’ve really been in an obstacle race since I was a little girl.  I do remember the exhilarating feeling though… of tapping into my inner-warrior.  I remember the sweet reward of a fruit-flavored popsicle after completing the course.  You know those ones that look like a colored stick?  Yeah, I definitely had a cooler full of those growing up.

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Nowadays, I like to stay to active through a myriad of ways… whether it’s running, dance, yoga, barre, or simply biking around town.  I’ve learned that I gravitate towards these forms of movement because they feel natural to me, even through the challenging moments.  I use movement to balance my body, to explore my strength, my endurance, flexibility, my speed and agility, and for joy!  Being physically active has also taught me a lot about life, as I reflect and find connections to the greater picture.

As much as it is a time for personal development, it’s also a time of self-discovery… who I am.

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It’s wonderful to use exercise and movement as a source of inspiration for life!

Walnut Cranberry Energy Bars from “Thrive Foods“ by Brendan Brazier.

My ability to move and honoring my body definitely go hand in hand, and this belief has also influenced the development of my connection to food.  For instance, it’s amazing how foods found in nature have potent healing properties.  Powerful anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger are a part of my daily intake, especially after an intense workout.

Embedly Powered

This brings me to why I’m so excited about this post!  Recently, Spartan Race contacted me about hosting a giveaway on my blog for their 2014 US races, and I was excited to share this offer with you.  First, let me share what Spartan Race’s mission is:

Spartan Race is on a mission to get you active, healthy, excited about change, and return to our ancient roots where running through woods, getting dirty, and facing adversity was part of everyday life. Our events are all about challenging today’s perception of normal.

Our events challenge the familiar, today’s perception of normal living and getting you out of your comfort zone! At Spartan Race, we do this everyday and it shapes everything we do.

Whatever your level, Spartan Race will test your strength, stamina, and sense of humor.

The next one coming up (and happens to be in my area) is Miami April 12-13.

For those of you who are ready for the challenge now, Spartan Race is giving all ‘Katharina’s Food Adventures’ lucky readers a discount off the entry fee.  Click here to get a 15% discount!

Want to win a FREE entry to a Spartan Race? One lucky winner will receive a code valid only one time for any open heat in any 2014 Spartan Race in the continental US. This is a FLASH giveaway, giving any body considering entering the upcoming Miami race a chance to win!  Contest ends on April 9th 19:59PM EST, and the winner will be randomly selected, posted on the blog and notified per email.*

To enter, simply leave a comment sharing one of the greatest obstacles you’ve overcome.

*Winner will have 24 hours to respond.

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So long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!

Excuse me for the long intermission! I hope you were able to enjoy yourselves during the break, but it’s time to get back to the show! I’ve been so caught up with running Behind Foods that I forget that this blog is a part of that too! But without further ado, I want to share something special from my latest newsletter (which you should sign up for ->right over here<- if you haven’t already!).

In my last post I shared about the relationship I was in along with some delicious recipes, but before that we were exploring my trip to Vienna and Prague! I had mentioned that while I was in Prague I felt very “lost in translation” since the language didn’t appear or sound familiar to me at all. In the spirit of my adventurous side, I embraced it, and made the most of it by letting go of my inhibitions. I communicated with expressions, pointing to things, and animated gestures. I recall a woman working at a small market being so confused by my “communication” that she gave me a bewildered look, shook her head and ignored me. Oh well! I didn’t need those chocolate-covered Turkish apricots anyway.

After our sojourn in Prague, we went back to Vienna and explored more of the city–there was so much to discover!

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On this particular day we decided to venture out Grinzig, the 19th district of Vienna.

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It is a quieter part of Vienna with many beautifully preserved buildings.

After wandering around this charming and laid-back part of Vienna, we stumbled upon this romantic garden. And just in time as we were looking for somewhere to sit down and eat.

The Passauerhof, dating back to the 12th Century, is a beautiful and cozy location in Grinzing.

The Passauerhof is located in the area’s Heurigen District. Heurigen? Well,  Heurig means “this year’s“, and Heuriger “is the name given to Eastern-Austrian wine-taverns in which wine growers serve the most recent year’s wines and where guests can experience Gemütlichkeit [aka a jubilant time].” (Source.)

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An Ode To Space Hunter, Recipes From The Heart

As promised in my last post, we will be taking an “interactive intermission” from my travel series… in the form of a love story–a real life one. In fact, inspired by my own!

I would like to dedicate this outpouring of love to my “once in a lifetime”.

I believe that we all have people destined for us, that complete our beings in a way that seems like we’re gazing into a revealing looking glass, a mirror if you will. Sometimes though, people come across a shooting star, and let it go by without reaching out.

I’m glad I let go of my doubts, and ignited a magical spark by saying  “hello”. Little did I know what would unravel thereafter. Little did I know that I was on the brink of experiencing pure love.

This new love in my life has been growing stronger and deeper as each day goes by, despite us being over a thousand miles away. I have to say, in my experience, physicality can get in the way of truly getting to know and appreciate someone’s inner-self, their character; I am in a strange way grateful of having this unique experience–starting out in a long-distance relationship. I didn’t know I was capable of deeply loving, and being open to… well, being loved. As Honoré d’ Urfé wrote, “prix d’Amour, c’est seulement Amour, … Il faut aimer si l’on veut être aimé.” (The price of love is only love, … one must love if one desires to be loved.)

Vulnerability

Being in a long-distance relationship has taught me to be patient and willing at the same time, to stand by someone’s side, to be open, and to know that we’re working towards a common goal–being together. This is no ordinary love.

I present to you a collection of recipes inspired by this budding romance in my life… by my daydreams of what our lives would be like with no distance between us; thinking about what I would make for him, what we could make together!

A life where we could fall asleep in each other’s arms every night.

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Czech One, Two, Three

Hello, hello there strangers, or maybe I’m the strange one. It seems that time, or perhaps it was my writer’s block, got the best of me. But I’m here now.

To refresh our memories… I will bring us back to the first installment of my Vienna trip, also-known-as a Home Exchange: Part Deux: From Vienna With Love. There you can begin to salivate over homemade Schokolade-Nusskuchen, and other Austrian delights in case you don’t remember. Mmm how I dream of having a warm, crumbling bite of that nostalgic cake.

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In the blink of an eye, let me take you on my journey to Prague

We made our way (the long, scenic way and getting a little lost) over to Czech Republic, where we would meet up and stay with some more friends we made through Home Exchange.

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We were only there for a night, but at least we got to see this morning view of the historical Bohemian city.

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Charles Bridge by night

This is one of those cities that’s meant to be seen at night, when their true romance comes out.

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Obecní dům

We were also able to go to Prague’s Muncipal House, which also has a concert hall. It transported me back to one of my favorite eras, Art Nouveau. Everywhere this art style echoed throughout the structure, with mosaics, whiplash curves, an ode to nature and a reaction to academic art. This building is a magnificent testament to this age; its philosophy was that life should be an art. A sentiment which finds its way into my own life.

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Imagine a life surrounded by art.

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We took advantage of the time we had in Prague, and stumbled upon a weekly Saturday market in one of the small squares throughout the city.

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This stand caught my eye with its vegetarian delights.

It always strikes me when I travel abroad, especially to Europe, and I see things that are vegan or vegetarian. Although I don’t identify as either, I do appreciate the food and think it’s a sign of progression that these lifestyles are becoming more known and accepted in meat-centric countries.

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They even had an array of sweets to choose from… impossible to pick just one!

Gopál is a vegetarian restaurant located in Prague, and there are two locations you can find, aside from the stand at the market. They are also featured on Happy Cow, which is a directory for vegetarian/vegan-friendly venues worldwide.

vegetable pakora

Vegetable pakora on a skewer

I didn’t have time to venture over to one of their sit-down eateries, but when I find myself in Prague again, I plan on stopping by. It seems like a place to have a very down-to-earth meal, no frills… just rustic Indian-inspired cooking, served cafeteria style. Honestly, sometimes that’s what I need to hit the spot, and calm the ego down.

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This giant curried cauliflower fritter made for great road trip munching!

Greasy, spiced, and offering a hearty morsel with every bite… I only wished I had some sort of sauce or dip accompanying it, like a cooling yogurt raita.

Before we left, we picked up a lunch with our friend at one her recommended places, U Básníka pánve. Being a vegetable lover, I had been missing my greens in the form of a fresh salad.

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The salads on the menu were found under “The Poet’s Garden”

When I spotted the words, “grilled goat cheese with prosciutto, served on toasted bread with wild fruit dip and baby lettuce,” I knew that was my choice du jour! Oh my word! I had no idea a salad could possibly taste this great! I urge you to try serving a salad with a compote of dark berries one day (or more!), accompanied with toasted walnuts. Oh and the GOAT CHEESE, can’t forget that. I had no idea fresh, warm goat cheese could be perfectly lively and creamy at the same time. I wanted to savor every bite of this simple combination. I offered the ham to my parents, but if you’re a meat-eater then I insist on trying it with the cheese and toast. Also,  take note: don’t ever underestimate the power of simple buttered toast. This salad made for a memorable meal.

Antik Bazárek

While we were waiting on our check I decided to indulge my curiosity, and explore a tiny shop full of relics across the street–Antik Bazárek.

After this lovely meal, and our good-byes we headed back to our beloved Austria. In Prague we discovered that the cuisine and beer culture are rich, and the little koruna we spent on a meal with plenty of wine (note: beer is what you really want to order when you’re here) pleasantly surprised us–leaving more for us to tip well.

The last time my family was in this region was before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia as a country. I can’t speak much on the topic of changes there, since I was a very young girl at the time; but I still had that familiar sense of subtle culture shock from when I first came to this area. It was partly the language barrier, but also a different mentality and way of life. Personally, I try to explore those feelings when they arise, trying to understand them rather than being afraid or simply rejecting something I do not know. I would love to revisit this place, and give it more time.

I made sure to leave my mark before I left: disarm with love and unlock potential.

I made sure to leave my mark before I left: disarm with love and unlock potential.

Stay tuned for the fourth installment, but I have a surprise in store for you all… I will call it an “interactive intermission”.

Have you ever experienced culture shock? Tell me about it!

Part Deux: From Vienna With Love

The adventure continues…

In my last post I shared my first few days in Vienna, reunited with our family friends. With all of the exploring and catching up we did, it felt like a trip in itself. It’s pretty special to still be friends with someone since you’ve both been in diapers… or let alone could speak. Well, I’m sure we communicated in baby talk and devised some baby genius plans to take over a museum.

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Schokolade-Nusskuchen

One day when we were getting ready to go to the city, one of our home exchanger’s neighboring relatives stopped by. Their aunt had just baked some kuchen, and happened to make an extra on the side!

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A really neat aspect of Home Exchange is how you become apart of someone else’s life, and who knows what wonderful surprises could arise.

These kinds of cakes give me a case of nostalgia, with the warming spices, the hint of acid from the powdered sugar… and oh yes the crust is my favorite part!

aerial view

On most days we’d head into Vienna, walk around and experience the city from different spots.

marry me

Looked up, and I smiled to myself… imagining someone having come home to this one day.

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Hundertwasserhaus

This is an artist village conceptualized by Austrian artist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, and architect, Joseph Krawina. The structure is very eclectic–looking like a quirky recycled project–when in fact it is truly one of a kind.

We walked a few blocks down to a museum space called Kunst Haus Wien dedicated to Hundertwasser, and I was intrigued by what he tried to express through his art. This little piece on him can sum up the sentiments that came to mind after walking through the museum:

Hundertwasser, a visionary and responsible creator, mobilizes the power of his art in order to spread his message for a life in harmony with nature and the individual creativity. 

He is a symbolic figure for a non-conformist way of life, a forerunner of environmental protection and an ambassador for a self-determined alternative existence.

A man who simply lived, but with a character as bold as the features of his face.

confections

If you get a chance to visit Vienna, stop by Gerstner on Kärntner Strasse to see their lovely window display.

This shop had been a confectioner to the imperial court (and now the general public) since 1847–how’s that for gourmet?

Through Home Exchange you also have the option to partake in a “hospitality exchange”, meaning that you offer your home to a fellow exchanger even though you are there. My parents had done a hospitality exchange for a few people, and since then they’ve become friends. One of my parents’ guests in America was a couple from Vienna, Austria, so we reunited while we were there.

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They had prepared a delicious lunch from scratch!

It was our friend’s first time cooking fish, and it was such a thoughtful and respectful gesture, especially to consider my personal dietary decisions.

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They also introduced us to pumpkin seed oil, an Austrian specialty!

This can be used in salads, on ice creams, pastas, pastries and a whole lot more–you just don’t want to use it for actual cooking. It has a unique flavor, and a very characteristic green… sounds perfect for Halloween!

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We enjoyed it drizzled over creamy vanilla bean ice cream.

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Thank you for being so welcoming, and sharing a bit of your life!

I am so grateful to have met our two friends, first in Florida (munching on all the yucca and plantains in Little Havana) and then in Vienna… s’en donner à coeur joie!  I went out with them, and they introduced me to their friends. We did things that I’m guessing a Viennese would do! Strolling around the city, stopping at the churches to see what events were going on (the Catholic church has a very strong presence there), checking out wine bars that offer peanuts for noshing while you slowly get drunk; and of course a trip isn’t complete without stumbling on the cobblestone, high heels and all!

Here's a little hint to where I'll be taking you next...

Now here’s a little hint to where I’ll be taking you next…

Are you coming along for the ride?

It’s Been A Bien Longtemps

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve been spending your days soaking up the last of summer. Even though I’m in South Florida, and the seasons here don’t really seem to change (aside from the frequency of tropical storms).

Now where were we? Ah yes, making a toast!

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And now it’s time for a story.

This story goes back to May of this year, around the time of my birthday (announcing my birthday on the blog six-months later, I sure know how to make it last). Anyway, earlier this year my family had been prepping the house for our first simultaneous home exchange.

If you’ve seen the movie “The Holiday” then you may recall the two main characters switching their homes for a vacation away from their reality—or maybe you recall the love affairs that happened for each of the leading ladies with British heartthrob, Jude Law, and charming funny man, Jack Black? Imagine something like that could happen to you. Minus the fiasco that is pretty much what a home exchange is, although the love affair part is entirely up to you!

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With that being said, an adventure awaits…

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Pass Me The Wine

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The other day I was thinking to myself about friends, and for some reason the thought of wine came up. I started thinking of how our good friends–the kind that last–are like a glass of wine that is enjoyed slowly. There are those who are more like a tasting, just a swish in the mouth. Some inspire you to cease the day,  to make the most of this finite life–a toast to carpe diem! Whatever the case, each bottle has a story to tell. Its history written in the way the flavor bounces off and lingers on your tongue.

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A flashback to my trip to Vienna back in May of this year.

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Supposedly Austrian wines are the wine world’s best-kept secret.

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I’ll drink to that!

Stay tuned for the full recap of my exciting trip full of culture, history, friendship and of course food! I’ll also be sharing about the neat experience I had doing a simultaneous home exchange with a family from Vienna.

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Necesito del mar porque me enseña

I hope all of you living in the United States are enjoying the Labor Day Weekend so far!

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I’ve found myself on the Gulf Coast of Florida again! I always love visiting this place. Time goes by a lot slower here. Really the passing of time is relative, but it’s nice to make a point to watch the sunrise or the sunset over the ocean. If you’re in Florida, in one day you can do both!

The summer the ocean made sense of my life.

In the meantime, I will leave you all with a little taste of one of the projects I’m working on… hint, hint: it’s related to a cookbook!

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Coconut Cashew with Spiced Ginger Cookie Dough Ice Cream

This goodness can also be shared with my vegan friends! Heck, even the raw and gluten-free ones too!

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Cheers to you, my friend!

In other news…

Summer Beauty Foods_cover30

I’m having a special till Monday for my “Summer Beauty Foods” book for 30% off!

This is a compilation of seasonal recipes and fun food facts written and created by me. These nourishing recipes and reports have been featured on Dr. Perricone’s site, the Father of the Inflammation Theory. These delicious, anti-inflammatory recipes will help you on the path to a healthier and more radiant you!

Click here to get your copy!

Until next time, ciao!