Category Archives: Travel

Travel

Where to Eat Healthy in Vienna

We’re finally back in the U.S.! Travis and I arrived home to our apartment in Los Angeles exactly a week ago, and I’d say it’s taken us this full week to really adjust. I don’t know about you, but jet lag really affects me. Even at the beginning of our time in Europe, I was constantly tired and it took forever for my body to adjust to the nine-hour time difference. The same thing happened when we got back to LA, and the first few nights we were crawling into bed at 8PM exhausted. 

Now that we’re finally back to a routine, I am excited to talk about the next city on our trip: Vienna!

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis and I really didn’t know what to expect from Vienna, but we did have a feeling that the food was going to be much heavier than what we had in Amsterdam. Austria is known for their wiener schnitzel (fried, breaded veal) and pastries, specifically apfelstrudel (apple strudel)…so not exactly green, healthy salads that us spoiled Californians are used to ;-).

I won’t lie to you. If you’re a relatively healthy eater, eating at restaurants in Vienna isn’t that easy. It’s even harder if you’re vegetarian or vegan (beef, pork, and poultry dominate restaurant menus). The upside is that most restaurants offer an English version of their menu, so you don’t have to guess or rely on a translation app.

We did our best to scope out some of the “healthier” restaurants in the city, and I think we hit the jackpot. So without further ado, here’s my list of where to eat healthy in Vienna:

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Naschtmarket

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Naschtmarket is the largest and most popular market in Vienna. Here you’ll find a variety of vendors selling everything from fruits, vegetables, nuts, prepared foods, pastries, olive oil, and handmade soaps. If you’re renting an apartment with a kitchen, this is a great place to pick up some healthy produce for your stay.

There are also many restaurants within Naschtmarket. We loved the Naschtmarket Deli for brunch on a Saturday morning. The atmosphere was very lively and fun, and there was a DJ playing music in the corner. The menu is expansive and I enjoyed a delicious falafel salad, while Travis loved his turkey kebabs. They have plenty of healthy options, including vegetarian and gluten-free choices.

 

Hungry Guy

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Hungry Guy is on many of the top lists of Vienna restaurants…and deservingly so. It’s located right in the center of the city, and it’s constantly packed with locals. We went during the lunch rush and had to wait a bit for a seat, but it was definitely worth it.

The owner, Eyal Guy, moved to Vienna from Israel and brought with him some of the best-tasting Mediterranean food we’ve ever had. Travis and I tried the Fensenjen (Persian chicken stew) and the Chicken Schwarma Pita. Both knocked our socks off.

Holy moly, their pita is amaaaaazing! It’s thick, soft, and doughy…and we talked about it throughout the rest of our trip. They bake it in-house constantly throughout the day, so you know you’re always getting a fresh one. It was the perfect vehicle to hold the chicken schwarma, and we also used it to soak up all of the delicious sauce in the chicken stew. The pita sandwiches are hefty (I honestly would be fine splitting one), and we had some of the chicken stew leftover to take with us. You really get a great value here.

If we had more time, we would have gone back to Hungry Guy again to explore more of the menu. It was that good. Seriously, don’t skip this place.

 

Nguyen’s Pho House

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Vietnamese food can be a great option when you’re looking for a healthy meal. Traditional dishes usually contain lots of veggies and you can most often substitute tofu for chicken or beef in any dish. We loved the mango salad and pho at Nguyen’s. The salad was light and refreshing and the pho was perfect on a very chilly night. There are plenty of other healthy dishes on the menu for you to choose from.

Also, if you’re looking for a splurge, the house white wine was delicious and less than $3 USD a glass!

 

Swing Kitchen

Where to Eat Healthy In Vienna ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Swing Kitchen is 100% vegan fast food and the menu contains a variety of plant-based salads, wraps and burgers. There are three locations, we visited the one on Operngasse.

The restaurant is super popular with locals, who all came pouring in during their lunch break. The two ladies at the counter spoke great English and were extremely helpful in explaining the menu. I highly recommend the Swing Burger, which comes with a house-made BBQ sauce. Tip: if you want to skip the bread, you can ask for the patty on a salad instead.

Swing Kitchen also really cares about where they source their ingredients and their impact on the environment. They use renewable, raw materials instead of plastic packaging, and make an effort to use regional, fair-trade ingredients in their food.

 

Disclosure: In some cases, I received a complimentary meal in exchange for an honest review. All content and opinions are my own. I would never include any restaurant that I didn’t genuinely love. As always, thank you for your support!

Restaurant Review Travel

Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam

As I mentioned in my last post, I think that Amsterdam’s food scene is way underrated. It’s difficult to define the city’s cuisine in just a few words because they’ve gathered influence from many different countries, so I guess I’d just call it global.

From cheap eats to fine dining, we loved every meal we had in our four days there. If I really had to narrow it down, here is my top list of where to eat and drink in Amsterdam:

Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

De Biertuin

De Biertuin ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We found De Biertuin on a whim the day we arrived. Travis wanted a good beer and I was craving something relatively healthy…and luckily for us, De Biertuin had both. I can’t think of another beer garden that puts the same level of care into their vegetarian dishes as they do their burgers and beer selection. We went twice, and both times the restaurant was packed. It’s the perfect spot for a casual meal, and there is something on the menu for everyone (including wine for the non-beer drinkers like me!).

What to order:

The spit-roasted half chicken. It comes with a variety of delicious house-made sauces.

The Veggie Burger with Mango Chutney, which was without a doubt the best veggie burger I’ve ever had.

 

Restaurant De Kas

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I wrote a full review here, so I won’t go into too much detail in this post. If you’re looking for a unique culinary experience in Amsterdam and appreciate farm-to-table dining, go to De Kas.

What to order: The menu is fixed, but the chef is able to accommodate food allergies and dietary preferences. Make sure to opt for the wine pairing, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Restaurant Blauw

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Image source

An Indonesian rijsttafel is a must in Amsterdam. The Dutch word literally translates to “rice table” and a traditional rijsttafel consists of many (in this case 16) small dishes accompanied with rice. Most restaurants will offer both a meat and vegetarian rijsttefel, and in some cases there is a fish option as well. Restaurant Blauw was our second rijsttafel experience, and while it provides a more high-end dining experience, the quality absolutely matches the price. One tip: go hungry! Each dish is remarkable in its own way and you won’t want to pass up on a single bite.

What to Order:

Soto Ayam: a soup with turmeric and lemongrass

Chicken Spring Rolls: NOT your average fried spring roll. These were so fresh and flavorful.

Selera Blauw Rijsttafel: includes 16 different small dishes with chicken, beef, and vegetables.

Foodhallen

Foodhallen ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com
Foodhallen is an indoor food market located in De Hallen, which originally was where the first electric trams in Amsterdam were serviced. Today the building has been given new life, and now it’s a center of music, film, culture and food.

There are a wide variety of food exhibitors in Foodhallen. I’d recommend dedicating a couple of hours to your visit and splitting a few dishes among friends. That way you’re able to try more of what the food hall has to offer.

What to order:

Hanoi Chicken Banh Mi from Việt View

Foodhallen ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Mezze Plate from Maza

Foodhallen ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The Dutch Ginger from The G&T bar.

Look at all these cool gin and tonic combinations!

Foodhallen ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Ask for bartender, Sjo. He can tell you all about Amsterdam and the history of Foodhallen while mixing you a mean G&T.

Foodhallen ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

 

 

Pho 91

Pho 91 ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Pho 91 was recommended to us by a local and it really hit the spot on a rainy night. The restaurant is small, so get there early to avoid a wait. The staff is very friendly and the kitchen is fast, which is nice if you’re looking for a quick meal in between sightseeing.

What to order: The Grilled Aubergine Salad and Pho 91 with beef, chicken, and meatballs.

 

The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The Breakfast Club has a couple locations, and we visited the one in Amsterdam east. The portions are large, which is great if you have a busy day ahead. We chose one sweet and one savory dish to share and loved both.

What to order: Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes with Pecans, Blueberries, and Blackberry-Sage Jam. Unlike American pancakes, these were not overly sweet, and with the delicious jam there was no need for maple syrup.

 

The Cold-Pressed Juicery

The Cold-Pressed Juicery ll Where to Eat and Drink in Amsterdam ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

After loading up on carbs and protein, you’ll begin craving something green. We came across The Cold-Pressed Juicery at the perfect time. Travis was trying to get over a cold, and he swore that the Reset Juice from the Cold-Pressed Juicery is what cured him.

What to Order: The Reset or The Pret a Protein. Both are easy drinking and perfectly balanced.

 

Up next: what to eat in Vienna! Stay tuned…and in the meantime, make sure to follow my latest travels on Instagram.

 

 

 

Disclosure: In some cases, I received a complimentary or discounted meal in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. These restaurants are all places I would immediately visit again in Amsterdam, and I hope you have the chance to visit them, too.

Restaurant Review Travel

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amsterdam: Restaurant De Kas

Amsterdam’s food scene is completely underrated. People rave about the incredible cuisine in cities like Paris and Tokyo, but you rarely hear the same praise for Amsterdam. After spending four days in this beautiful city, I became increasingly aware of this.

Since food is such a big part of both of our lives, Travis and I spend a good amount of time (okay, a lot of time) researching restaurants before each city we visit. After reading about Restaurant De Kas’s farm-to-table concept, it quickly became the first restaurant I wanted to try in Amsterdam.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The restaurant is attached to a greenhouse, where the staff grows a variety of lettuce and herbs. These are picked fresh every day and used in their daily fixed menus. Since the nursery isn’t large enough to grow everything needed, the chefs source additional produce from local farms.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The restaurant opened in 2001, and at the time there were very few restaurants placing such a strong emphasis on “farm-to-table” dining.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The lobby connects the greenhouse to the main dining room. As soon as we walked in, we were mesmerized by the gorgeous natural light coming in through the floor-to-ceiling glass panels.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We visited on a rainy, cloudy day and it was beautiful, so I can’t imagine how amazing it looks when the sun is shining.

The decor is clean, light, and airy. I wanted to pack up all of the tableware and bring it home with me. (Seriously, I was flipping over all of it to look for brand names…).

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

De Kas creates one daily fixed menu. The daily lunch menu consists of two courses for 39 Euros, and the dinner menu includes three courses for 49.50 Euros. You also have the option to supplement your meal with wine pairings. For the portion size, quality of ingredients and level of service you receive at De Kas, I believe these prices are extremely fair.

We visited for lunch, so we had the two-course fixed menu, which included three small starters and a main course (so it really felt like a four-course meal!). We also opted for the wine pairing, which I highly recommend you do.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

The chef will do his best to accommodate for any food allergies you have, and if you are vegetarian he can also make a special menu for you. Travis and I do not eat pork and I am allergic to quinoa. Luckily for us, there was no pork on the menu that day, and the kitchen was easily able to leave out the quinoa from one of the dishes.

Before our meal, our server brought us freshly-made sourdough bread, green olives, and roasted, seasoned celeriac (celery root). I love celeriac, so this unusual preparation was a real treat for me.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I could go on and on about how delicious our meal was, but I thought I would let the photos show you instead.

First starter: Beetroot soup with duck, yogurt and quinoa

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Second starter: Baked haddock with brussels sprouts and sweet and salty onions

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Third starter (to share): Chicory tart with blood oranges and fresh herbs

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Main course: Brill fish with little gem lettuce, potato gratin, chanterelle mushrooms, and carrot purée

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Our main course was paired with a delicious Spanish Rioja. Other Riojas I have tried would be much too tannic and bold with white fish, but this wine was medium-bodied, and the perfect accompaniment to the brill fish.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Since we had an afternoon of sightseeing ahead of us, I ordered an espresso at the end of the meal. To my delight, it arrived with a small plate of bite-sized treats, which were just the right amount of sweetness I needed after a savory meal.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

There isn’t enough praise in the world that would do our meal at Restaurant De Kas justice. We loved everything from the creative (but approachable) food preparations to the beautiful interior design.

And this review would be incomplete without mentioning the fantastic service. Our server, Benjamin, spoke perfect English and was very knowledgeable about the restaurant, its history, and each ingredient used in that day’s menu. Each course was paced perfectly, and we never felt rushed. In fact, we ended up having a two and a half hour lunch, but didn’t realize until we checked our phones upon leaving the restaurant.

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

If you are looking for a unique dining experience and appreciate farm-to-table cuisine, Restaurant De Kas is the one restaurant you must visit in Amsterdam. As we walked back to our hotel, Travis and I joked about stopping through Amsterdam at the end of our trip just so we can have another meal there!

The One Restaurant You Must Visit in Amasterdam: Restaurant De Kas ll Amsterdam Restaurant Review on www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

 

I received a complimentary meal at Restaurant De Kas in exchange for an honest review. All opinions, photos and comments are my own. I absolutely loved my meal at Restaurant De Kas and highly recommend it to anyone visiting Amsterdam.

 

 

Travel

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris

Hello from Amsterdam!

We arrived here on Sunday evening and are loving everything so far. We’re headed to the Anne Frank House this morning, but before we go, I wanted to stop by to say hi to you guys and share some highlights from our time in Paris last week.

It was Travis’s first time in Paris, so he wanted to make sure he saw all of the main attractions, and I think we covered a lot in one week. The major highlight for me was the chance to see my dad’s side of the family, who lives in Paris! Given the distance, we don’t see them as often as I’d like, so it felt very special to be reunited after a year and a half.
Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

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Whether you’re planning a trip to Paris for five days or two weeks, make sure you know where to go and what to eat. Here are my suggestions:

Where to Go in Paris:

Notre Dame Cathedral. Make sure you climb to the top. The line is long, but the view of Paris is beautiful and worth the wait. Plus the 387 steps to the top will help burn off all the baguettes you’re going to eat.

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Eiffel Tower. Yes, this one is obvious, but necessary. Skip the long line to go to the top and instead head across the Seine at Place de Trocadero and view the Eiffel Tower from there. The spot is fantastic for photographs and undeniably breathtaking.

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Le Marais and the Jewish Quarter. There are countless little boutiques and plenty of delicious food options in the area.

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Walk up the Champs Elysee for high-end shopping and to check out the Ladurée for their famous macarons. From there walk to the Grand Palais. Even if you don’t go inside, you can still marvel at its beauty from outside the palace.

Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Meander down Rue Montorgueil in the 2nd arrondissement. There are so many authentic French brasseries, cheap eats, and little shops to check out.

Rue Montorgueil Paris: Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

(Source: TripAdvisor)

What to Eat in Paris:

Frenchie’s Wine Bar 

Frenchie's Wine Bar: Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis is the one who discovered Frenchie’s on a French restaurant review site. It was tucked away on a little side street right around the corner from our Airbnb in the 2nd arrondissement. We read online to get there ten minutes before it opens since they don’t take reservations and it fills up quickly. Luckily for us, we were the first ones to arrive and we got the best seats overlooking the kitchen. I would consider the cuisine French with global influences. Every bite was unique and special.

What to order: The menu changes regularly, so it’s difficult to suggest one thing. If there is burrata on the menu, order it. And get a second helping of the bread. You won’t be sorry.

 

L’As du Fallafel

L'As du Fallafel: Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

You’ll likely find this place listed on all of the top Paris restaurant guides, but it’s worth mentioning again here. Travis and I love falafel (especially after eating the authentic stuff in Israel last year), so we knew we wanted to visit this hotspot during our trip. If you’re walking around the Jewish Quarter in Paris you can’t miss L’As du Fallafel because there is always a giant line of people waiting to order. Don’t let the line scare you, though! They have the ordering process down pat, and we didn’t wait more than five minutes to get our food.

What to order: The falafel in pita as it comes. Just let them know if you want it mild or spicy.

 

Eric Kayser

Pain au Chocolat from Eric Kayser: Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

A Parisian might read this and think I am nuts to include Eric Kayser because to them it is probably consider a “chain”… but if you’re like me and don’t eat fresh baguettes and croissants on a daily basis, then this is place is a DREAM. There was an Eric Kayser Boulangerie in every area we walked through, so you’ll be sure to find one wherever you’re staying. I had a Pain au Chocolat almost every day, and we purchased their fresh bread for our breakfast every morning.

What to get: Pain au Chocolat (it seriously is the BEST) and the pain rustique or pain aux cereals for breakfast.

 

Experimental Cocktail Club

Experimental Cocktail Club Paris: Where to Go and What to Eat in Paris ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

(source: ECC Facebook)

Travis and I visited the Experimental Cocktail Club in NYC a few years ago, but it has since closed down (rumor has it they’re looking for a new location). Travis and I are typically solely beer and wine drinkers, but when a friend suggested we try ECC in NYC we were blown away by how unique and creative the cocktails were.

We knew there was a location in Paris, so we made a point to stop by after our dinner at Frenchie’s. If you go, make sure to look for the lead bartender (I’d prefer to call him a mixologist), Max. He speaks perfect English and will help you select the best cocktail for your tastebuds.  Even if you aren’t a cocktail person, I can’t recommend ECC more. Each drink is so unique, you’d be crazy not appreciate what goes into each one.

What to get: The Experience 1 cocktail, if you’re going for something refreshing and not-too-sweet. But you can also just tell the bartender what you typically like and he or she will guide you in the right direction.

 

That’s it for Paris! See you later this week with more from our time in Amsterdam…

 

 

Travel

I Quit My Job. And We’re Going to Europe.

In all honesty, I’ve started and stopped writing this post so many times in the last week. Little Chef Big Appetite has always been about my recipes, healthy eating, and tidbits of my daily life. I know you guys aren’t coming here to read about my career or philosophies on life.

But, over the course of the last month there have been a couple of big changes in my life that I feel need some extra explaining, hence this post.

For as long as I can remember I have been incredibly jealous of anyone that I know or read about that quits their regular full-time job and goes off to travel the world. This includes the people that take a gap year between high school and college to get more “real life” experience, or those who graduate and move to a far away country to teach English to kids in need. I would always look at those people and think, “Wow, that sounds so daring and exciting…but I could never do that.”

But why? Why am I incapable of doing those things? I love to travel and I clearly am happy for others when they do it, so what’s stopping me?

Throughout my whole life there has been a “path” to success that I had to follow. Do well in high school and athletics to get into an excellent college. Study hard in college and secure summer internships to get the “right” job after graduation. Work very hard in your job to get a promotion. And it continues…

I want to stress that there is nothing wrong with this path. Until about a month ago I thought that this path was the only one I was meant to be on. I wouldn’t have had the countless opportunities or drive to succeed if it wasn’t for my parents. They’re the ones who encouraged me and showed me that all of the above was possible. I am forever indebted to them for all that they’ve taught and given me. I love you M & D.

Right around the New Year, I had a very enlightening conversation with Travis that really opened my eyes and showed me that maybe there was more to life than I was letting myself see.

I Quit My Corporate Job to Travel Across Europe. And You Can Too! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I told Travis that there was so much of the world that I wanted to explore, and I just wished I could get up and go like some of our friends or other bloggers I read about.

He looked at me frankly and asked why we couldn’t be “those people”. At first I gave a couple reasons:

It’s not practical. What about our jobs?

It’s too expensive. How will we afford it?

We’ll come back and be broke.

What about our apartment? What about Bessie?

But those weren’t the real reasons. The real thing holding me back was simple. It was fear. I was scared of the unknown and scared of breaking off the only path that I knew how to follow.

Travis is incredibly practical and career-driven, so to be honest, I was surprised when he started listing the reasons why we should go travel. Neither of us studied abroad in college or traveled afterwards, and there are so many places in Europe that we want to see. We don’t have kids yet, so at this point there is really no one depending on us. And, making money is great, but we will have the rest of our lives to do that. In that moment, I thought, “Okay, if Travis, the king of practicality, is telling me that we can do this, we have to.”

Later that day, we started doing some research and realized that traveling to Europe in the winter could be very smart. There are far fewer tourists and everything is much less expensive than in the busy summer months. So after talking to our families, our minds were made up. We were going to do it. The decision was really that quick.

I gave my company three weeks notice, so I could help make sure there was a smooth transition, and my last day at work was January 27th.

I realize that by the way I am writing this (and by reading the title of this post), it might seem as though Travis and I are leaving Los Angeles, packing our lives into backpacks and traveling halfway across the globe for the foreseeable future. We’re not. We’re going to Europe for a month. With full suitcases. And staying in inexpensive AirBnBs and hotels. But you know what? Baby steps.

We want to see the world, so we’re starting small. And who knows, this could be the start of something really exciting for us.

I Quit My Corporate Job to Travel Across Europe. And You Can Too! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis and I spent the last week mapping out our month-long trip. First up is Paris, and from there we’re headed to Amsterdam, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Copenhagen. So if you have any recommendations for any of those cities, please share them in the comments below or email me! I’d love any tips or advice.

We leave in a week, so the next few days are all going to be dedicated to planning and packing.

Our good friend will be apartment sitting for us, and Bessie is going on her own little vacation to the east coast to stay with Travis’s family while we’re away. We are very grateful to them that they’re willing to take care of our little Bess for so long.

I Quit My Corporate Job to Travel Across Europe. And You Can Too! ll www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I am ridiculously excited about our upcoming adventure, and I definitely plan to blog regularly throughout the trip to share lots of details of where we are, what we’re seeing, and most importantly, what we’re eating. Make sure you’re following me on Instagram because I will be sharing lots of daily snapshots over there.

And in case you’re wondering, I am not sure what exactly my plan is when I come back, but for the first time in my life, I am okay with that.

One thing is for sure, though, you’ll be hearing from me much more often on here. Blogging consistently while having a demanding full-time job is no joke, and I am very grateful for the next month+ to have the time to dedicate to growing this hobby of a blog into something much greater.

If you made it all the way to the bottom of this post, thank you for you reading, and thank you so much for your support.

Travel

Kelly’s Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX!

This weekend I was in Austin for my friend Kelly’s bachelorette party and IT WAS SO MUCH FUN!!

Seriously, I had the best time. I wish I could do it all over again. Okay, actually give me like 2 more days to recover, but then I’d be ready. It was my first time in Austin, but since I was only there for 36 hours, I really want to go back soon to see more of the city!

Our big group stayed in a house we rented through AirBnB, which I highly recommend doing because it makes it so fun to have everyone in one place. Once most of us had arrived by Friday evening, we headed out to Hops and Grain for some beers to get the weekend started.

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Later that night, we all got ready for dinner at Fixe. We had a private room, which was perfect for our not-so-quiet group. 😉 The food was “Progressive Southern” — I had the fried chicken and I devoured it!

We drank a lot of champagne, toasting to our girl, Kelly. This is the only photo I have from the night and it’s ridiculous – ha! Yes, there were framed photos of dogs all throughout the room we were in. Still deciding if this was awesome or the creepiest thing ever.

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

After dinner we all headed to Rainey Street to check out some bars. It felt like everyone there was there for a bachelor or bachelorette party, which was fun because everyone was ready to celebrate!

Saturday was my favorite part of the weekend. After whipping up a quick breakfast at home on Saturday morning, our group headed to Lake Travis where we had a boat waiting for us. We packed up lots of snacks for the afternoon as well as plenty of drinks to celebrate our bride-to-be!

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Kelly’s sister and Maid of Honor, got us all the cutest drink koozies with our names on them! I was obsessed.

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

There were a bunch of other bachelor and bachelorette parties on the lake that afternoon, so our captains had us all dock next to each other for a couple of hours. We ended up hanging out on the boat next to us for a majority of the afternoon because it was much bigger than ours. Plus, they had great speakers and a water slide!

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

When we got back to the house that evening, we had Rudy’s BBQ for dinner. There’s no photo because I am pretty sure just I took a plate and inhaled my food. Hungry people problems.

Bachelorette Weekend in Austin, TX! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Later that night we played some games and got ready to go back out. We lost a few stragglers along the way because it was pretty tough to rally after such a long day! I am actually surprised that I made it back out.

The group dressed up in black, so Kelly could stand out in white and all piled into Ubers for 6th Street in Austin. Let me just say, HOT DAMN, 6th Street was NUTS!! I’ve never been to New Orleans or any other city with a large open street like this, but it was crazy! There were so many people and bars. It’s a party area, for sure!

I ended up going back to the house early with a few others because I had a VERY early flight back to Los Angeles the next morning.

Here are two Bachelor / Bachelorette Party tips I learned from this weekend:

  • Use Splitwise. Our friend, Jamie, introduced us to this. Splitwise allows you to add expenses and split them between an entire group OR just certain people within a group. We found this incredibly helpful throughout the weekend with countless Ubers, dinners, and other various expenses. Everyone added anything they paid for to Splitwise, selected who to divide the expense between, and at the end Splitwise tells you how much you owe (or get back from) each person. After that, you can either Venmo everyone through Splitwise, or pay people in another method of your choice (cash, check, etc.)
  • Create an iCloud shared photo album. This makes sharing photos so simple. Anyone in the group can post photos as well as download photos from the shared group. If you’ve never made one before, here’s how — it’s so, so easy!

 

I had the best, best time in Austin and I can’t wait for Kelly’s wedding in May so I can see all of these awesome ladies again.

Travel

I went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME!

You guys! Hi! I just got back from Israel and I am so excited to share some pics with you.

Travis and I went on a Birthright trip to Israel organized by Israel Outdoors and we had such an amazing experience. Birthright is a free, educational 10 day trip to Israel for Jewish young adults between the ages of 18-26. I’ve wanted to go for many years, but I was never able to make it work due to college athletics, internships and work. This was the last year Travis and I could go together due to age eligibility, and I am so fortunate we were able to get on a trip together this March.

We traveled all over Israel for 10 days with 37 other Americans between the ages of 22-26. It was an unforgettable experience and I know so many of the friendships we made will be life long.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

There is SO much I want to share about our trip, but I feel like I would end up writing a novel (and ain’t nobody got time for that!)

So instead, I am going to share a bunch of photos from the trip and do my best to caption each in 5-6 words or less! Many of the places and words in the post below might be unfamiliar to you, so I’ve hyperlinked to some further explanations in case you’re interested 🙂

Okay, here goes!

 

 

Floating in the Dead Sea!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Up at 3AM to hike Masada.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Shabbat on an Israeli Kibbutz.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Not the shortest one (for once!)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Camel riding in the Negev.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis wore two GoPros (not kidding).

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Dinner in a Bedouin tent.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

UNREAL scenery in Ein Ovdat.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

My incredible new friend, Sam.

(Side note, there were FIVE girls and guys named Sam on our trip! Yeah, that was fun to keep straight.)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Gardening tomatoes in the desert.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

New girl friends for life.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Yemenite lahoh tasted SO good.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

View from Old City Jerusalem.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Praying at the Western Wall.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I put a note in the wall.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Orna and Ella = best meal.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Travis and I went all out.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Seriously. We ordered ALL THE FOOD.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sightseeing in Jaffa with Trav.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Sarah, my new Philly BFF!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Had to find the pastries!

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Independence Hall in Tel Aviv.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Roasted Eggplant, Tahini, and Chickpeas.

(FEED ME MORE!)

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Love my new Birthright family.

I Went on Birthright Israel and it was AWESOME! l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

If you guys have any questions about the trip or if you’re interested in going on Birthright yourself and want to chat, feel free to write me a note in the comments section below or shoot me an email at littlechefbigappetite@gmail.com! XO

Travel

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour

Hi guys! I never post on Saturdays, but after a crazy week I just couldn’t get this post up on Friday. So here I am! It’s the weekend, YAY! After two weekends of travel and tons going on at work, I am so happy to be home right now and catch up on the one million things on my to-do list.

On Monday, I mentioned I would share all of the details of my farm tour trip last weekend, so let’s get to it!

I was invited to attend a tour of the Imperial and Coachella Valleys by the awesome people at the California Farm Water Coalition. We did and learned SO much on this trip, so rather than bore you guys with all of the nitty gritty (and tons of facts), I figured I would share some of some highlights with you.

 

Lakeside Organic Gardens

Our first stop of the tour was in Holtville, CA at Lakeside Organic Gardens. We met Kay Day Pricola, Executive Director of the Imperial Valley Vegetable Growers Association and Scott Howington of Lakeside Organic Gardens.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

While both Kay and Scott were incredibly knowledgeable and informative, more than anything they were both hilarious. They had our group cracking up nearly the entire time, which made learning about farming (something I’ll admit I knew next to nothing about before this trip!) and produce really fun and interesting.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Kay and Scott took us around to see kale, cabbage, celery, fennel, and more, stopping along the way to explain how each are grown.

 

Holtville Rib Cook-off

Next, Kay and Scott took us to the Holtville Rib Cook-off in the middle of town. Holtville is a very small town, and it didn’t take long to see that 1.) Basically everyone in Holtville was at this festival and 2.) They all knew each other.

Having never lived in a small town like this, I found this whole experience to be so much fun! Kay was saying “hi” to nearly everyone we passed, which I just couldn’t get over. She knew everyone.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We didn’t stop to eat any food at the cook-off because we had lunch plans later that afternoon, but it was great to walk around and check out all of the booths and entertainment.

 

Veg Cool

On Saturday afternoon we headed to Veg Cool, where all of the produce from Lakeside (and a few other farms) is washed, boxed, cooled, and picked up by trucks to be distributed to grocery stores across the country.

Did you know that those rubber bands and twist ties you see around vegetables in the grocery store are all put on directly in the field? The farmers have to be REALLY careful about which band or tie they use because if it’s wrong (red cabbage vs. green cabbage), a grocer will turn it away even if the produce is perfectly fine. Then that food has to be found a new home (donated to food pantries, etc.) so it isn’t wasted.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We all got to take turns going inside the cooler at Veg Cool, but it wasn’t safe for us to stay in for too long because the floors are wet and slippery.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Also, the guys that maneuver the forklifts are SOOOOO FAST.  These men carry dozens and dozens of boxes of produce at once and drive in reverse at full speed like it’s nothing! I wish I had a video to show you.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

To sum it up, the entire process from field to grocery store can take just 24 hours, which very impressive when you see how many fruits and veggies these guys are processing at one time.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Ellen Way + Coachella Valley

On Sunday morning we met with Ellen Way of the California Women for Agriculture, who toured us around various fields in the Coachella Valley.

A big highlight for me was visiting the date palms that you see below. I looooove dates. I add them to everything like my Vitamin-Packed Green Smoothie and No Bake Oat and Nut Granola Bars, so it was fun to see and learn about how they grow.

Did you know that dates can only be grown in warm climates like California and the Middle East? Also, harvesting them is VERY labor intensive — someone has to climb all the way up those trees multiple times throughout harvesting and man, those things are tall!

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

We also checked out fields of bell peppers, which they keep covered from the sun with the tarps (as you can see below), as well as seedless grapes and artichokes.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

SeaView

Our final farm stop was at SeaView. We were a little rushed to get back to San Diego, so we were only able to spend about a half hour here.

All of our eyes lit up when we were told we could pick some citrus to bring home. Personally, I had only ever been apple and strawberry picking, so picking my own fresh oranges and grapefruit was such a treat! Luckily, I was traveling back to Los Angeles by train, so I could load up on lots of oranges, which Travis and I both love.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

I also want to note that the grapefruit we tasted at SeaView was some of the sweetest I’ve ever had. I usually find grapefruit to be too sour, but this stuff was delicious and I regret not bringing home more! The longer the grapefruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it gets.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Inferno Restaurant: Brawley, CA

Our very final stop on the tour was to the Inferno Restaurant in Brawley, CA. Now, remember when I mentioned earlier that Kay Day Pricola was the most well connected person ever? Well, on Saturday she overheard our group mentioning how we wanted to try Inferno, but they are closed on Sundays (the day we were trying to go).

So, of course, Kay picks up her phone and calls the owner (who just happened to call her the hour before!) and asks him to open the restaurant for our group the following day. Whaaaaat!?

And he said YES. We couldn’t believe it.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

So on Sunday afternoon we met the owner, Ray Babb and his head chef, who cooked us a delicious meal of homemade pizzas, steak tacos and deep-fried ice cream!

The entire meal was ridiculously good. Because they source all of their ingredients from the surrounding farms in the area, everything tasted incredibly fresh.

If you ever find yourself in Brawley, CA — go here!!

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

I had a great weekend touring the Imperial and Coachella Valleys and I learned so much. Before I leave you guys, I want to share just a couple quick facts that might be interesting to you:

 

— California is home to 78,000 farms growing 400 different crops! Farming creates 450,000 jobs in this state.

— California farmers grow 50% of America’s fruits, nuts and vegetables — 50%!

— Agriculture uses 40% of the state’s water supply, but EVERYONE benefits from the food grown on farms.

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

— The Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley can grow year-round. You can thank this area of the country for allowing you to have cantaloupe in the middle of November even though it’s a summer fruit.

— Most farms are passed down generation to generation. Many of the farmers we met were in their current job because their parents, grandparents, etc. were all farmers.

— What’s crazy is that only 2% of our population is farmers, but 100 years ago 90% of our population farmed

— A lot of advanced farming technology comes from Israel, not the United States. One example is drip irrigation which is a method of releasing water slowly through long passageways (in this case, plastic tubing you see below).

Imperial Valley and Coachella Valley Farm Tour -- www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, however I was invited to attend this farm tour by the California Farm Water Coalition and my hotel and travel were paid for. I hope you enjoyed this post and I appreciate your support!

Travel

A Washington DC Trip + Anniversary Recap

When I last left you guys, I mentioned how I thought my flight to DC was going to be canceled because of the big snow storm, Jonas, that hit the East coast last week.

Well, I ended up being able to get on an earlier flight, so I got into Washington DC on Friday morning right before all of the snow madness hit the city. The timing worked out perfectly because my friend Emily, who is a nurse, was called off of her shift so she and her fiance, Nate, were both able to pick me up from the airport.

When I arrived, we made a pit stop at the grocery store to pick up last minute food items in case we got snowed in. Well…it turns out that the entire city beat us to it.

Exhibit A:

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

ALL OF THE FOOD was gone. I am not kidding. There was no fresh produce (I saw maybe one red onion), no milk, eggs, anything!

Here’s Emily on her tippy-toes trying to see if there is maybe just one carton of eggs left at the top there. Nope!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Now, I just want to point out that coming from LA, I was drastically unprepared for the amount of snow that fell. All of my snow and warm winter gear are at my parents’ house in Boston, so I flew to DC with a warm-ish coat and Hunter rain boots to protect my feet from the wet snow.

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

All in all, it didn’t really matter because we spent a lot of time inside over the weekend. We were disappointed because all of the wedding dress appointments that Emily had booked months in advanced were canceled. Now I guess I won’t see her dress until the big day!

We were able to make do food-wise with various items Emily and Nate had in their house. On Saturday afternoon I threw together a pasta dish with roasted vegetables, shrimp and a white wine sauce.

I’d say for not having many things left, it turned out pretty darn well! And obviously because we were snowed in we had wine with lunch (and pretty much every other meal! Haha).

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Since I was completely unprepared for the snow clothing-wise, I was basically useless to Emily and Nate when it came to shoveling.

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

Nate was a champion and spent 7+ hours over the weekend shoveling out their cars as well as the walkways and cars of their elderly neighbors. I kept saying the poor guy deserves a massage and a tropical vacation after all he did!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

So. Much. Snow!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

My flight back to LA ended up being canceled on Sunday evening because all of the airports in the city were closed. (Although, I was secretly excited because it meant more time with my BFF who I hardly ever get to see!)

On Sunday, I spent a couple of hours on the phone with various airlines trying to get a flight back to LA. It was an absolute nightmare and some airlines said it would take a few more days before I could get back!  Eventually, I was able to book a flight for Monday morning, which was a big relief because I had to get back to work. Unfortunately, my flight wasn’t direct and I spent a lot of time waiting around in airports.

I will say that the Charlotte airport has some DELICIOUS food options. One of the places in my terminal was like a big fresh food market and I was able to get this INSANELY yummy breakfast frittata with roasted vegetables. It was only $8 and it was so big, I ate it for two meals. Big win for the Charlotte airport!

Washington DC Trip - littlechefbigappetite.com

When I landed back in LA late on Monday, Travis and Bessie picked me up from the airport. There is something so nice about being picked up by a loved one rather than taking a cab or public transportation, don’t you think?

The following day (Tuesday) was my 5th anniversary with Travis. I put together this little photo collage to post to Instagram, but then he beat me to it and posted his own, so I felt weird posting almost the exact same thing, ha!

Anniversary - littlechefbigappetite.com

We barely saw each other on Tuesday morning because I had to rush out of the house to get to work. But when I arrived home that evening, he surprised me with a bottle of champagne, two doughnuts from our favorite new doughnut shop up the street, a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a very thoughtful card.

Anniversary - littlechefbigappetite.com

We told each other no gifts this year because we are trying to save our money, but the items that Travis picked up meant so much to me.

Our night ended with a delicious dinner at Tar & Roses, one of our favorite restaurants in Santa Monica. Earlier in 2015 it had a bad fire in the kitchen, and the restaurant only finally reopened a few weeks ago. We were so excited to go back and the food was just as incredible as we remembered it.

 

Alright guys, that’s it from me. I hope you have a great weekend! I am off on a bloggers trip this weekend to tour some California farms! I will be sure to check in early next week with a recap. See ya!

Main Meal Travel

Photos from Paso Robles + This Week’s Meal Plan

Hi guys! I hope you had a great holiday week! I took a good old detox from blogging and much of social media, and it felt SO GOOD to just be in the moment.

We took a short trip to Paso Robles, CA to do a bit of wine tasting from Tuesday to Thursday last week. Neither of us had ever been, but we’d heard such great things about the area! Here are a few photos from our trip.

We saw a beautiful rainbow on our drive up. Such a rare sighting around here…because it never rains!

Paso Robles Trip

Wine tasting at Halter Ranch.

Paso Robles Trip - Halter Ranch Winery

Gorgeous sunset to end our first day.

Paso Robles Trip - Sunset

Starting Day 2 bright and early with…more wine!

Paso Robles Trip

Barrel rooms at Sextant Wines.

Paso Robles Trip

We stopped into Summerwood Winery, which happened to be dog friendly. We met two adorable Boxer pups, who belonged to a family also wine tasting there. We ended up staying and chatting with the family for over an hour because we had so much in common!

Paso Robles Trip - Sommerwood Winery

It was chilly the whole time we were in Paso Robles, so I lived in this blanket scarf my mom bought for me over Thanksgiving. I took this picture to send to her, but didn’t have cell reception at the time – so there you go, Mom! 😉

Paso Robles Trip

Perfect wine tasting eats to fill up our bellies. Delicious burger from Firestone.

Paso Robles Trip - Firestone Brewery

Before heading back to LA, we made one final stop at Barrelhouse Brewing. It was only fair that Travis get to taste some beers after all that wine!

Paso Robles Trip - Barrelstone Brewery

After a week filled with indulgences (ahem, wine on wine on wine), Travis and I are both looking forward to some healthy meals. We did a HUGE grocery shopping run at the Whole Foods in Venice on Saturday morning. The entire time we were taking bets on how high the bill was going to be…but it’s all good because we seriously had no food in the house and we were way overdo for a restock!

 

Here’s this week’s dinner plan:

Sunday (last night): Apricot-Glazed Chicken with Whole Wheat Couscous and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Monday: Dinner out with Travis’s sister, Justine

Tuesday: Barramundi with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes + Roasted Broccoli

Wednesday: Turkey Chili

Thursday (New Year’s Eve!): Party at our friend’s house

Friday (New Year’s Day): TBD

 

Hope you guys have a great week!

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