Category Archives: Travel

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 in Austin, TX!

This past weekend I celebrated my friend Kelly’s bachelorette in Austin 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 took a plate and just 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 we 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!

Travel

Three Days in London

Hello! How are you guys? Can you believe it’s already Wednesday? I mean, thank goodness for Monday holidays!

This London post was SUPPOSED to go up last Friday, but as I mentioned, things have been quite nuts around here lately, so alas, here we are on Wednesday. Better late than never.

I took 1,389,457,343 photos in London, so in order to keep this post as concise as possible, we’re going to play a little game I saw on Tina’s blog: Three words per photo. Here we go!

Obsessed with Marks & Spencer.

LittleChefBigAppetite in London

Big Bus Tour!

Big Bus Tour London

Selfie on the bus!

Big Bus Tour London

Gorgeous London architecture.

IMG_2387

Cocktails for lunch! (At Nopi)

Nopi London

Lunch at Nopi.

Nopi London

The famous Harrods!

Harrods London

Harrods Food Hall.

(Breaking from three words to just say that I was OBSESSED with the Food Hall. I would happily move in if they let me. Like in one of those food cases would be totally fine. Preferably the one with the pastries.)

Harrods London

Chocolate for days.

Harrods London

Trips on the Tube.

The Tube

This little cottage.

(JK – that’s Westminster Abbey.)

Westminster Abbey

Dinner at Gymkhana. (The BEST Indian food EVER.)

Ghymkana London

Naan for days! (Gymkhana)

Ghymkana London

A GoPro nerd!

Buckingham Palace London

Buckingham Palace Gardens.

Buckingham Palace London

Hello Mr. Guard!

Buckingham Palace London

(Obligatory) Buckingham Palace selfie!

Buckingham Palace London

Delicious brunch spread.

Brunch London

I spy a castle.

London

Dinner at Clos Maggiore.

(The most gorgeous restaurant setting I’ve ever seen / had the pleasure of dining in).

Clos Maggiore

Heeeeeey Big Ben!

Big Ben London

Bye, Kensington Hotel!

Kensington Hotel London

Landing in Los Angeles.

Landing in Los Angeles

 

I was SO sad to leave London. The entire time I told Travis, “I am moving here. I am so moving here.” Hey, if it wasn’t ridiculously expensive and even farther away from my family, I’d at least think about it.

Have a great rest of your week friends! Only 2.5 more days until the weekend :)!

 

Travel

Family Reunion in Skipton

Hi friends! Happy Hump Day! My week is moving pretty quickly, and I can’t wait for the long weekend. Work has been very crazy for me since I got back from my trip, so I am definitely looking forward to the extra day to catch up on life things this weekend.

In my last post we left off at the end of our short day in Amsterdam. The next morning we headed to the airport for a short flight to Leeds, England. Leeds is located in the North of England, about 40 minutes away from Skipton, where we were staying.

Map of Leeds England

My dad’s parents lived in Skipton and we used to visit them there when I was little. Sadly, we stopped going to Skipton as often after my grandparents passed away. In fact, the last time I was there was in 7th grade!

The whole point of this trip was to spend time in England with my dad’s side of the family (his brother, sister, and my cousins) just like we used to do many years ago. This family reunion in Skipton was SO important to our family because we live all over the world (Los Angeles, Boston, England, Paris, Spain, etc.), and we NEVER get the chance to all be together.

Leeds Airport

At the Leeds airport, we met my parents, brother, and sister-in-law who had all just flown in from Boston together. My dad drove us (he’s the only one with experience driving on the left!) to our house in Skipton.

Craven House Skipton

The house was perfect! It had plenty of bedrooms and bathrooms for all 15 of us to spread out throughout the week.

Since we spent six days in Skipton, I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty, but rather just show you a few highlights of our time there.

Skipton

We went to A LOT of pubs. Cock and Bottle was one of our favorites.

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Cock and Bottle

Day trip to Kettlewell! For a city girl like me, it was amazing to be able to get so close to grazing sheep.

Kettlewell

How gorgeous is this view?

Kettlewell

Kettlewell

My little cousin Louis was hooked on his plastic iphone the entire trip. It was adorable.

Kettlewell

Funny enough, this photo below was NOT planned, but it was so, so perfect.

Louis Phone

Selfie with my beautiful Mamma!

Kettlewell

On the Sunday of our trip, we had an even BIGGER family reunion. We invited extended, extended family over to our rented house for a potluck lunch. These family members all live in England and many of us had never met before, so this was a real highlight for everybody.

2015_08 Skiptonade (180)

On my birthday, we took a day trip to York! My brother studied abroad in York during college and my aunt went to high school in York, so everyone had fun exploring their old stomping grounds.

York England

I haven’t been able to spend my birthday with my immediate family in years, so turning 25 was extra special because I got to celebrate with my dad’s entire side of the family. I love these people so, so much!

York England

On Wednesday we took a day trip to Bolton Abbey, another place we used to picnic as a family many years ago. The grounds are vast and GORGEOUS.

Bolton Abbey

 

Bolton Abbey

It’s a popular activity to make the trek across these rocks – we used to do it all the time when we were little. For some reason, I still found it terrifying 10+ years later. I am by no means scared of heights, but the stones were wet and I kept thinking I would slip. It didn’t help that I was carrying my DSLR camera, two iphones and two wallets in my jacket at the time. That was a silly thing to do.

Bolton Abbey

On our last night in Skipton the cousins took a group photo together. Trav and I are the nerds up there in the back. Heeeeeeey!

Cousins

The next morning Travis and I boarded the train from Skipton to London, the last stop of our trip. My whole family walked us to the train station (which was awfully nice of them). I felt like royalty with a giant send-off crew waving to us as the train departed. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to everyone because we don’t know the next time we will all be together again. I’m thankful that everyone took lots of photos, so we have great memories of our trip.

Train to London

——-> Check back in later this week to read about what we did, and most importantly, what we ate in London!

For more “life” posts like this one, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram (@littlechefbigappetite)!

 

P.S. Thank you to my Mom for letting me snag some of her amazing photos for this post!

Travel

Less than 24 Hours in Amsterdam

Hello, I am back! To catch you up, the last 10 days I was traveling through Europe. My dad’s side of the family had a big family reunion in the English countryside, where he grew up.

When planning this trip months ago, we quickly realized that flying from LA to Europe takes a long time, and there weren’t many direct flights that were budget-friendly. Many of the flights we looked at had layovers in Amsterdam, so we decided to make the most of a stop in a city neither of us had traveled to, by spending slightly less than a day there.

After at 10 hour flight to Amsterdam, we couldn’t wait to get to our room and clean up. All of the travel advice I read insisted not to take a nap for jet lag, so we listened, but man was it tough! We were EXHAUSTED, and the comfy hotel bed was calling to us. But we toughened up and set out for a day of sightseeing.
One Day in Amsterdam

Our first stop was the I Amsterdam sign because it was just around the corner from our hotel. We arrived right when street performers were starting a dance routine, which was fun to watch.

One Day in Amsterdam

I expected the sign to be crowded, but I had no idea it would be THIS crowded. We practically had to fight people just to get a photo with it.

One Day in Amsterdam

Next, per the recommendation of many friends, we hopped on the river canal cruise that takes you all throughout the city and allows you to hop on and off as desired.

One Day in Amsterdam

Everyone told us it was the best way to see Amsterdam and they were right! Plus, given how tired we were, we welcomed the opportunity to sit and enjoy the ride, rather than walk everywhere.

One Day in Amsterdam

The architecture in Amsterdam is gorgeous. Some friends and travel sites recommended we rent an apartment or houseboat on the canal, and now I can see why! Since we were only in Amsterdam for one night we decided to just get a hotel that was convenient to the airport and the major spots we wanted to see.

On a side note, we stayed at Hotel JL no. 76 and it was perfect for our needs. It was a modern boutique hotel right in the heart of the Museum district. It was easy to get to from the airport and there was plenty to do within walking distance. The rooms are small, but comfortable, and the prices are very reasonable. I highly recommend it.

One Day in Amsterdam

 

One Day in Amsterdam

In the middle of the river cruise, we hopped off so we could wander through Vondel Park.

(Travis was very excited about the opportunity to use his GoPro throughout the city!)

One Day in Amsterdam

It was a Thursday afternoon, but the park was packed.


One Day in Amsterdam

We saw many groups of friends and families laying alongside the lake. If we had more time, I would have loved to grab a few snacks and a bottle of wine and picnic outside. The setting was gorgeous.

One Day in Amsterdam

After our stroll through Vondel Park, both of us could barely keep our eyes open. 24+ hours without sleep is no joke people! We decided to head back to the hotel to take a quick nap before dinner. We only allowed ourselves about 40 minutes, but it was glorious.

We took the advice of our good friend Meredith and went to a rijsttafel (translation: rice table) for dinner. The concept sounded so intriguing to us: 20(ish) small plates of varying flavors, textures, and colors served with rice.

One Day in Amsterdam

We couldn’t believe the amount of food that we were served for a very reasonable 18 euros per person.

One Day in Amsterdam

One Day in Amsterdam

Look at all this food! From chicken satays, to pickled vegetables and fried bananas, EVERY SINGLE DISH was amazing.

One Day in Amsterdam

With every bite, we kept saying to each other, “Oh my gosh! Try this! This one is amazing!” Every plate was so delicious. If you’re planning to visit Amsterdam in the future, I highly recommend this experience. We loved our meal at Kartika.

Afterwards, we decided to walk off our incredible meal and stroll through the city some more. We both regret not having more time in Amsterdam because there was so much to do, see, eat, and experience. Even still, we were able to pack a lot into less than 24 hours.

We had an early flight to Leeds, England the next morning so we ended up calling it a night around 10PM. More about our time in England in my next post!

 

Have you been to Amsterdam? If so, did you go on a canal cruise? Try a meal at a rijsttafel?