Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

remember when

Hey, remember when I used to blog about every meal? often in multiple posts? Remember when I lived in Cuenca, then Santiago, then Strasbourg? Remember when I was a pescatarian, flexitarian, raw foodist, and finally everythingtarian? Remember when I ran? Remember when I was single, had a boyfriend, lost a boyfriend, and started dating? Remember when I held a part-time job, internships, and began my career? Remember when I decided to drive across the USA and backpack through Central America? Remember when I was a college student? Remember when I frequently used exclamation points yet ignored commas?!
[Breakfast: pancakes with banana and walnuts, green tea]
 [Lunch: garlic green beans topped with a parmesan omelet]
[Dinner: fresh salmon, sautéed spinach, sweet potato, and red wine]

I do :) and sometimes it's fun to go through the archives and reflect on how much yet how little has changed, and how many more adventures we have ahead of us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

the meatball shop

I suppose it's rather timely that I reflect on a recent visit to The Meatball Shop on the first day of my fourth year of blogging, wouldn't you say? Yesterday I attempted to show you the un-glamourous yet entertaining details of my day-to-day life. But today, today, I'm going to talk about meat, an animal protein which I've only actively been eating again for a few months now. For the record, it's delicious.
There are many health benefits to a vegetarian diet, and eating more plant-based foods certainly hurts the environment less, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've enjoyed expanding my options. The truth is, I like beef (preferably filet mignon) and although I could do without chicken, I'm a big fan of turkey. If I'm truly going to eat intelligently healthy, I believe there's a place for all of it.
As Leslie and I sat at The Meatball Shop's bar--with a milk jar of wine, naked chicken meatballs in the special sauce with foccacia, a chicken & tomato sauce slider, a vegetable & meat sauce slider, and two market salads in front of us--we discussed how much better we both feel since integrating more meat and poultry into our diets, in addition to how we still have no desire to have either more than once a day, if that. It's kind of ironic how we first met here, huh?
Then we had an ice cream sandwich (espresso ice cream between a classic chocolate-chip cookie and a gingersnap cookie) for dessert. I may not use this word as often as I did four years ago, but it was yummy; a yummy treat to end another great meal with a friend I met through blogging.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

what I don't blog about

Why hello there, beautiful. You know what today is, don't you? (Besides Earth Day). It is this little blog's 4th birthday. For four whole years, I have been sharing daily adventures, travel stories, memorable meals, healthful pursuits, and introspective thoughts right here. It's crazy wonderful, and yet would've hardly amounted to anything had you not joined me. I could never thank you enough.
I may, however, be able to amuse you with some life details that hardly make danielle abroad... like how my secret to talking to guys in crowded places is by asking them to take pictures of my friends and I; or how every few months, my best guy friend and I meet up for a drink--which always turns into too many drinks--to share updates with each other (see classy beer #4 above); or perhaps this will do it for you: once, I stayed out dancing until 5am and then took a cab back to my apartment. But rather than take it all the way back, I had the cab driver drop me off one block away so I could stop in the diner for a grilled cheese with french fries. This grilled cheese, I might add, was enjoyed alone--at which point I was one of three solo diners (the other two being an odd man and a creepy older woman) in addition to a table of four guys having a standard early morning meal. Ahem. I hope you realize how sophisticated I clearly am and stick around a bit longer...

Friday, April 20, 2012

happy earth day

Lebanon, Bolivia, Iceland, GreeceUnited States, Mexico, Greenland , Spain
Malaysia, Jordan, Indonesia, Norway, France, Belgium, Guyana, Thailand
There are beautiful people and there are beautiful things, but there's no place quite like this beautiful home of ours. Let's try to keep that way, okay?

Have a Happy Earth Day.
Words by D. Alvarez, Photos via Pinterest

Thursday, April 19, 2012


I obviously love French culture and their approach to food, but I have a soft spot for Italians as well. As I've said before, Italian food was a staple in my diet from a young age. I grew up in an area with a very strong Italian influence, it happens to me my dad's favorite cuisine (next to his own), and my mom even waitressed at an Italian restaurant for a short time. It was thrilling to my three-year-old self when she'd come home with a plate of bow-tie pasta topped with a marinara sauce and parmesan cheese. Especially if there were crusty Italian bread on the side.
Once I began to regularly eat out on my own, however, I tended to avoid Italian food. Not because I didn't enjoy it anymore, but because there were so many flavors I had yet to try--like Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, and Ethiopian. I devoured each and every one as plates of pasta became a distant memory.
Recently though, I've been craving Italian, and luckily, there are more than a few Italian restaurants in the area that take a deliciously new-to-me and innovative approach. Catherine and I's personal favorite is also our Upper East Side "date" spot: Vespa. The meal you see here is from our most recent satisfying visit.
We split an assaggini plate with smoked trout (with oven roasted tomato, parsley), asparagus (with parmigiano, sun dried tomato, and the absolute best riscotta fresca (with cherry tomato, basil.) I was feeling quite hungry so I had a plate of farfalle vespa (with mushrooms, asparagus, prosciutto, peas, pink sauce) as my entrée. And I very much enjoyed it alongside a glass of chianti. Then, while Catherine sampled an Italian sambuca, I devoured a cup of chocolate gelato. I am very content in going the classic childhood route at the end of a good meal :).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

how to be an introvert & a social butterfly

In the past few days, I've shared a low-key Sunday night of eating out with the roommates and an entire weekend of adult "summer" fun... so I'm sure you'd be surprised if I were to tell you that I am most definitely an introvert. I am.
I like being alone, and often. I prefer to work on my own, clean when nobody's home, exercise solo, and go grocery shopping by myself. I sometimes cancel plans just so that I can go home to spend time in my room. It's just that I also value my friendships, and being that I've formed them under varying circumstances, I must be willing to maintain them all. That's not to say that I don't enjoy making the effort though! I do miss the ridiculously active social schedule of my college days.
I'm a study of contrasts, I suppose--a unique combination of calm self-sufficiency and charismatic wit (which may or may not have everything to do with my astrological sign)--and I believe it's important to recognize that.
Just because I crave more "me time" than most and hardly ever gain energy from others, doesn't mean I can't enjoy friend dates, birthday parties, and mingling with new faces. I only need to recharge enough in between. What about you? Do you consider yourself an extrovert or introvert? How does it effect your social life?

Monday, April 16, 2012

weekends are for celebrating

My social calendar has been completely overrun by birthday parties for the next few weeks. I'm thrilled. I love festive reasons to get together with friends I'm not able to see often, let alone all at the same time. And I believe that toasting to another great year of life while surrounded by them is a wonderful thing. This past weekend, I celebrated Nihara's 24th, amongst other things...
Saturday, 1pm: Happy beautiful weather! (Barbecue with high-school friends.)
Saturday, 7:30pm: Happy visiting from Boston! (Sushi with Liana and boys.)
Saturday, 12:00am: Happy birthday, Nihara! (Karaoke.) Happy sorority love! (Karaoke-ing to "Build Me Up Buttercup.")
Saturday, 3:00am: Happy New York livin'! (Pepperoni pizza.)
Sunday, 11:30am: Happy health! (Yoga and an all greens from Liquiteria.)
Sunday, 1:15pm: Happy energy! (Brunch with strong coffee and a mimosa.)
Sunday, 3:30pm: Happy it's almost summer in the city! (A long stroll through the streets, followed by a leisurely afternoon with a bucket of beer on the water.)
It was quite obviously a fun one... that also ended bittersweetly with a wake on Long Island. (My grandmother's cousin suddenly and unexpectedly passed away earlier this week.) Yet despite the somber occasion, I was reminded, once again, of the importance of celebrating family each and every day. I certainly feel blessed to have such a gosh darn good one. Hope your weekend was mostly happy, too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

moules frites

I've posted about East End Kitchen before, and with good reason--it is the most convenient, good restaurant in my area. And with time, they seem to be doing more and more things right: Every Monday and Tuesday, for instance, they offer bottles of wine half-priced with any dinners; weekend mornings bring their fabulous brunch special; and Sunday evenings are for $15 burgers with fries and beer, fish & chips and beer, or mussels with fries and beer.
My roommates and I got ourselves all psyched up for the deal last Sunday. I was fully prepared and ready to have a beer (or two), fried fish, and french fries for dinner. Unfortunately, when it came down to it, I realized I didn't want a meal like that at all. I wasn't actually that hungry. Not to mention that my body was exhausted and undernourished from a weekend of careless fun.
So, I listened and had their Grilled Eggplant salad (chickpeas, baby arugula, asparagus, lemon-cumin dressing) instead. Meh.
It's not that it wasn't good, but I was disappointed. I couldn't even handle one homemade donut bite for dessert. As much as I believe it's important to do (and consume) things that make us feel our best, sometimes I'd just like to eat what I want to eat, when I want to eat it. Next time! Wishing you a balanced weekend.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

the travel list challenge

Morning, sweethearts. Thank you to those who read my last post, especially if you shared it with others and/or so eloquently commented. It was an incredibly powerful piece. In a stark contrast, today I'm taking part in a list challenge with 100 "must-see" places around the world. So glad Julie let me know about it!  I highlighted those I've been to and linked to its blog post if possible. How exciting to see how many amazing places I have yet to visit. I obviously need to take three round-the-world trips and another cross-country road trip to change that... 
1. Alamo; San Antonio, TX, USA
2. Alhambra; Granada, Spain
3. Andros Island, Bahamas
4. Angel Falls, Venezuela
5. Angkor Wat; Angkor, Cambodia
6. Atlantic City Boardwalk; Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA
7. Ayers Rock; Australia
8. Big Ben; London, England
9. Bora Bora, Polynesia
10. British Museum; London, England
11. Canals of Amsterdam; Amsterdam, Netherlands
12. Cathedral of Seville; Seville, Spain
13. Cave of Crystals, Mexico
14. Christ the Redeemer; Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
15. Cinque Terre National Park, Italy
16. Colosseum; Rome, Italy
17. Crater Lake National Park; Oregon, USA
18. Dead Sea, Israel/Jordan
19. Death Valley National Park, California, USA
20. Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, USA
21. Dome of the Rock; Jerusalem, Israel
22. Easter Island Statues; Polynesia
23. Edinburgh Castle; Edinburgh, Scotland
24. Eiffel Tower; Paris, France
25. Empire State Building; New York, New York, USA
26. Forbidden City; Beijing, China
27. French Quarter; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
28. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
29. Gateway Arch; St. Louis, Missouri, USA
30. Gettysburg Battlefield; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, USA
31. Glacier Bay Basin, Alaska, USA
32. Glacier National Park, Montana, USA
33. Glowworm Cave, New Zealand
34. Golden Gate Bridge; San Francisco, California, USA
35. Grand Canal; Venice, Italy
36. Grand Canyon; Arizona, USA
37. Grand Mosque in Mecca; Saudi Arabia
38. Great Barrier Reef; Queensland, Australia
39. Great Mosque of Córdoba; Córdoba, Spain
40. Great Wall of China, China
41. Hagia Sophia; Istanbul, Turkey
42. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii, USA
43. Hollywood Boulevard; Hollywood, California, USA
44. Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil
45. Kiyomizu-dera; Kyoto, Japan
46. Kremlin; Moscow, Russia
47. Lake Titicaca, Peru
48. Las Ramblas; Barcelona, Spain
49. Las Vegas Strip; Las Vegas, Nevada
50. Leaning Tower of Pisa; Pisa, Italy
51. Louvre Museum; Paris, France
52. Macchu Picchu, Peru
53. Matterhorn, Switzerland
54. Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza; Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico
55. Metropolitan Museum of Art; New York, New York, USA
56. Mount Everest, Nepal
57. Mount Fuji, Japan
58. Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
59. Mount Rushmore; Keystone, South Dakota, USA
60. Napa Valley; California, USA
61. Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
62. Niagara Falls, New York, USA
63. Notre Dame Cathedral; Paris, France
64. Pacific Rim National Park; British Columbia, Canada
65. Pebble Beaches of Nice; Nice, France
66. Petra, Jordan
67. Petronas Twin Towers; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
68. Portland Head Lighthouse; Cape Elizabeth, Maine, USA
69. Puerta Del Sol; Madrid, Spain
70. Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
71. Redwood National Park, California, USA
72. Rock of Gibraltar, Gibraltar
73. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
74. Ruins of Athens; Athens, Greece
75. Ruins of Pompeii; Pompei, Italy
76. Sagrada Famila; Barcelona, Spain
77. Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower); Chicago, Illinois, USA
78. Sedlec Ossuary, Czech Republic
79. Sistine Chapel; Vatican City, Italy
80. Smithsonian Institution; Washington, D.C., USA
81. Space Needle; Seattle, Washington, USA
82. St. Peter’s Basilica; Vatican City, Italy
83. Statue of Liberty; New York, New York, USA
84. Stonehenge; Wiltshire County, England
85. Sydney Opera House; Sydney, Australia
86. Taj Mahal; Agra, India
87. Temple of the Golden Pavilion; Kyoto, Japan
88. Teotihuacan, Mexico
89. Tian Tan Buddha; Hong Kong, China
90. Times Square; New York, New York, USA
91. Varanasi; Uttar Pradesh, India
92. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
93. Wailing Wall; Jerusalem, Israel
94. Walt Disney World Resort; Orlando, Florida
95. Washington Monument; Washington, D.C., USA
96. White Cliffs of Dover; Dover, England
97. White House; Washington, D.C., USA
98. Winchester Cathedral; Hampshire, England
99. Yosemite National Park, California, USA
100. Zion National Park, Utah, USA

If you're a blogger and would like to take the challenge as well, just copy, paste, highlight, and let me know so I can check out your list :). Anywhere you've been that I haven't? Or any place we've both been that you just happened to love?

P.S. I hope you plan to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day. Perhaps with this?