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Monday, January 18, 2010

Update your bookmarks!

Just a reminder...

We've moved to Travel, Eat, Repeat!

Update your bookmarks, readers and links to www.traveleatrepeat.com.

I'll see you there.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Moving on up!

I'm in the process of upgrading to a self-hosted Wordpress site but -- technologically-challenged me! -- it's taking a while to import the past 2 years' worth of posts and photos.

Hopefully tomorrow things will be up and running. It's on to bigger and better things in 2010!

Stay tuned... good things to come!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pizza made simple

Examiner.com: Hidden Washington: Bizarre monuments

Remember the other day when I laid out my rules for good pizza? Thin crust, light on the cheese and sauce, lots of veggies... That can be hard to find though as too often, delivery pizza is greasy, gooey and gross.

Looking closely at this picture, I realized that every single ingredient was from TJ's. Sad, really.

So why order mediocre delivery -- or pay the big bucks for a gourmet pie -- when homemade pizza is easy, cheap and healthy?

Trader Joe's -- oh yes, it all comes back to TJ's -- sells amazing whole wheat pizza dough for .99. You can't beat that! My family split the dough into thirds so each person could make her own individual pizza.

So good! I loaded mine down with a little homemade tomato sauce, a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella, and huge handfuls of spinach, bell pepper and tomato. Top with basil, pop into the oven at 350* for 10-12 minutes and -- done!

The TJ's crust has the perfect chewy consistency and since you control every topping, there's no grease or oil to mop up. Paired with a salad, this was perfect for dinner and, even after my sister dropped half on the floor, was equally tasty the next day for lunch. Hey, you shouldn't waste food! ;)

All told, this homemade pizza was a fraction of the cost of ordering out, with way fewer calories and fat. Before, I've made pizza at home using tortillas or pita bread, both good alternatives but not quite the same as "real" pizza. No more.

Call me a convert but don't call Domino's.

Do you try to recreate and/or healthify your favorite foods at home? Recipes, please!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Neighborhood envy

Examiner.com: Hidden Washington: DC's quirkiest museums

If Dupont Circle/Adams Morgan is where I want to live as a 20-something, Georgetown is my dream neighborhood as a wealthy adult.

(Side note: If any DCites know of a decent apartment or building in either of those locations, with reasonable rent and available from May or later -- help a blogger out!)

Formerly Riggs Bank, until the bank went bust (M Street)

Walking around this neighborhood is an attraction in itself. The best shopping in the city, amazing restaurants (tons of little cafes and bistros) and stunning architecture. I could spend an afternoon walking through the back streets, gazing at old homes and finding hidden gems.

One of Washington's most historic neighborhoods, Georgetown still has some cobblestone streets and sidewalks, and the city's oldest standing building, Old Stone House, from 1765, is also here.

Most people don't come to Georgetown for a history lesson, though. They come to shop and eat! M Street is the most popular shopping corridor, with block after block of both chain stores and boutiques. The secondhand shops (like Annie Creamcheese and Second Time Around) are also worth checking out for fantastic used and vintage finds. If nothing else, there's always the mall.

It's also a favorite post-church brunch spot for my family. Bistro Francais, Bistro Lepic -- can you tell we like French food?

I think the reason Georgetown is so appealing is that it has a true neighborhood feel, which can be hard to find a big city. Once you're off the main streets, the neighborhood has parks, churches and small museums with a quaint feel. Ignore the million-dollar price tags and you can picture yourself living here.

Do you have a dream neighborhood?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For love of pumpkin #4

Examiner.com: How to have winter fun without skis

Just because it's January, that doesn't mean pumpkin love has to come to an end. Pumpkin spice might not be an option anymore -- my new Starbucks obsession is a tall soy extra-hot misto (the fancy name Starbucks gave basic cafe au lait) with one shot of peppermint -- but other pumpkin foods are still in the weekly rotation.

Take this pumpkin spice tea. My cousin, Maria, gifted it to me for Christmas along with a vegetarian cookbook from Moosewood Restaurant, which I really want to visit after salivating over the book from cover-to-cover. Can't wait to try out some of the recipes!

I was a little hesitant at first because the tea doesn't have the pleasant aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, as expected, but instead has an almost rotten odor, like when squash sits for too long.

Once it brewed though, scent aside, it tastes delicious. With a hint of spice, it's nice on its own or -- pumpkin heaven here -- alongside a slice of vegan pumpkin bread.

Check out my Maryland mug, too -- it's actually my mom's but until the College of Journalism releases a line of dishware, I'm stealing this.

What's your favorite kind of tea? I normally prefer plain black tea with a splash of milk and a little sugar or agave nectar.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Food, glorious food!

Examiner.com: A 2010 guide to Washington, DC

Do you remember the best meal of your life?

I do. It was (obviously) in my pre-vegetarian days at a pub in Dublin. I was never a huge meat eater but everyone said I "had" to try beef and Guinness stew while in Ireland.

So I did and this is what came to the table:

Holy yum. First, the greatest food ever invented is mashed potatoes so it's a total win on that count. Underneath the potatoes is the stew itself, and on the side were roasted parsnips or swede (rutabaga) and sweet potato, if memory serves correctly.

I can't explain why this meal was so incredible -- maybe it was the pouring rain outside, chilly fall weather and total blanket of fog that hits Ireland in mid-November that made this hot and hearty meal a winner. (Note to other travelers: November is probably not the best time to visit Ireland.)

Over the course of two days in Ireland, I ate this same meal twice, including once at a pub where the owner complimented my name ("Erin" is the Irish name for Ireland) and then especially-made the stew for me when it wasn't on the menu. Erin go bragh.

The runner-up has to be every single meal I ate in Thailand. This green curry was the first thing I ate arriving in Chiang Mai so it's probably the most memorable:

What was your favorite meal ever?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A day at the museum

Make a resolution: Enjoy family-friendly DC

I haven't taken nearly as much advantage of the city's museums as I expected to over the past couple of months. Between spending two weeks in Indiana, a long weekend in Costa Rica and the holidays, it seems like weekends have been pretty booked.

Besides a quick pop into the National Archives (hadn't been there since a school fieldtrip in fourth grade), a quiet Sunday at Dumbarton Oaks and a brief stroll through the National Gallery of Art, I've totally failed at any real cultural outings.

Luckily, Lauren is a great museum buddy and is always looking for people to explore with. After a delicious lunch at Matchbox Sunday, we decided to check out the closest museum, the National Portrait Gallery.

Since its renovation a few years ago, this has become of one of my favorite museums. It is so architecturally stunning that you could just wander the halls and admire the decor without ever seeing a painting or work of art. The building itself is the work of art.

Probably the most famous collection is the Hall of Presidents, which has portraits of every U.S. President and a big ceremony each time a new presidential portrait is unveiled. It's interesting seeing the progression from 18th century oil paintings to more modern representations of 20th century leaders.

A couple of years ago, Stephen Colbert famously got the Portrait Gallery to temporarily display a painting of him, which hung next to the bathroom just outside the Hall of Presidents.

January 2008 - seeing Stephen Colbert's portrait definitely beat the presidents

There are always various special exhibits but a real highlight is "Faces of the Frontier: Photographic Portraits of the American West, 1845-1924." These early photographs capture the true spirit of American westward expansion, both the good and the bad. Pictures of intrepid explorers and pioneers are intermingled with photos of subjugated American Indians, brought to Washington and posed.

Modern art

Just walking through the exhibit is a history lesson.

Attached via a courtyard is the American Art Museum -- it's easy to see both in afternoon without ever having to go outside. Lauren and I both enjoyed an exhibit on the American Civil War, with rare Matthew Brady photographs. It was fun learning about the "hidden" side of American history, too, like the story of Pauline Cushman, an actress turned spy for the Union. Who knew? (We sure didn't!)

The best thing about DC's museums? They are nearly all free! It's incredible to see great works of art up close (including the only da Vinci painting in the Western hemisphere) for no cost. Makes for a fun, free afternoon outing.

Do you like visiting museums?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cuddle Up Day

Examiner.com: Make a resolution: Learn new things

Chalk this down as your random fact of the day: January 6 is Cuddle Up Day.

How am I celebrating?

Cuddling up with a good book and a cup of tea. Count public libraries as one of things I am thankful to have in America.

My favorite cafe in Seoul, one of the things I miss most about Korea.

Cuddling up with Glee Cast Radio on Pandora. An endless soundtrack of songs from "Glee," Disney and acoustic rock? Consider me hooked... and a nerd.

Wanting to cuddle up with my favorite President or, at least, his portrait. More on my afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery tomorrow.

Amidst all the staid Presidential portraits at the gallery, Bill Clinton's modern turn certainly stands out!

Cuddling up with a pair of sweats in bed later this evening after braving the cold to go to the gym. So far today, I've only ventured outside to trek to Trader Joe's ... and if he was a real person, I'd spend today cuddling up with him!

How will you celebrate Cuddle Up Day?

Last three songs played on Pandora? "I'm Yours" (Live) - Jason Mraz; "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas; "Free Fallin'" (Live) - John Mayer

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Calling all Aussies and Kiwis!

Examiner.com: Make a resolution: Travel somewhere warm

You've helped me before -- now, please do it again!

Many of you know that I'm planning a two-month long trek through Australia and New Zealand in February before hanging up my traveling shoes, at least temporarily, and settling down to a "real" job. Sad, but true. Although if anyone knows of a "real" job that will let me keep traveling, writing and generally doing what I'm already doing, send that info my way! ;)

Since this is my last hurrah -- and planning a trip of this length is a huge undertaking -- I'm turning to you for help and advice. Do you live in (or have you been to) Australia or New Zealand and know of somewhere I should definitely go? Whether it's a sight to see, a restaurant with great eats, a fantastic hostel or if you want to play tour guide for a day (yes, please!), let me know.

Some friends have already sent advice and that is so appreciated. I'm traveling with a friend for at least part of the trip, hopefully meeting up with other friends on the continent as time goes on, but planning out a general itinerary is daunting.

Although I want to play it by ear for the most part, I also don't want to realize that it's April 1, there are only 2 weeks left and so much remaining to be seen.

Basic info: flying into and out of Melbourne. Would like to "do" Australia first -- tentative plan to travel up the East coast from Melbourne, then fly west and see the middle of the country (5 weeks total?), then spend the remaining 3ish weeks in New Zealand.

Beyond having a return ticket booked, I'm an open slate. Send in any and all suggestions. And if any of my Aussie or Kiwi readers want to meet up while I'm over there, that would be fabulous.

As a thank you, I'll be blogging and posting photos daily from Down Under beginning February 17. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Examiner.com: Make a resolution: Volunteer to help others

It's been a long time since I had good pizza. Korea isn't exactly known for its Italian fare -- prevalence of Pizza Hut and Dominos's notwithstanding -- and we usually ordered from the mediocre 5,000 won ($4.34) selection at Pizza School.

First thing you should know about Korean pizza: it always come with corn. Order pepperoni, order veggies, order cheese -- your pizza is going to be topped with corn.

Pizza School reminds me of New York pizza, which New Yorkers claim is the best in the world but I always find disgustingly greasy, gooey and too cheesy... but don't tell any of my northern friends that!

My favorite chain pizza place in the DC area is Ledo Pizza, which Oprah featured as one of the best pizzas in America. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that best friend Gayle King attended my alma mater, the University of Maryland, right down the road from the original Ledo. No, I'm sure they're unrelated... ;)

Thin crust, sweet tomato sauce, minimal cheese = perfection.

Besides the chains, DC has a bunch of fantastic pizza places: Ella's Wood Fired Pizza is perfectly crisp with tons of interesting combos and 2 Amys reminds me of real Italian fare.

Yesterday, Lauren and I had lunch at Matchbox, one of Chinatown's newest and most popular places serving amazing wood-fired pizza. Walking through the entrance, you're greeted by a long bar and a roaring fire. The restaurant extends through several winding levels in what was once a Chinese grocery store.

The menu is inventive and complex, ranging from basic salads and New York Strip to bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits. Pizzas are the highlight, all made fresh to order and cooked in the huge wood-fired oven downstairs. Just the smell of baking pizza is enough to make your mouth water.

I ordered the veggie pizza -- "cremini mushrooms / spanish onions / roasted poblano peppers / roasted garlic / mozzarella / fresh herbs / fingerling potato crisps" -- which was delicious, although I could have done without the potato. It had a strong garlic flavor and the poblano peppers had just the right amount of sweetness to complement the cheese (applied sparingly, thankfully) and mushrooms.

I didn't eat this ... naturally ... but a missing camera = pictures from Matchbox's website

Tons of veggie options, an extensive wine and beer list, good service -- Matchbox is a winner.

(Note: Matchbox doesn't take reservations so get there early or be prepared to wait an hour or more for a table. This place is popular!)

What's your favorite kind of pizza? I like a little cheese, a little sauce and lots of vegetables on a thin, crispy crust. Mmm...

photo credit

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brrr... it's cold in here!

Examiner.com: Make a resolution: Get active

Whew, made it to 2010!

It was a low-key New Year's here, celebrated at a friend's house with an eye-wateringly spicy veggie stir-fry, a few bottles of good red wine and a midnight champagne toast to a fantastic next decade.

Unfortunately, I left my camera at said friend's house so there aren't any pictures documenting the festivities... but it was fun to have a quieter celebration. Who needs 1000 strangers when you're surrounded by great friends?

It's been an ideal weekend to catch up at movie theatres as the freezing temperatures deter me from wanting to spend any time outside.

Up in the Air was funny and sardonic, with really well-defined characters and a clever mix of humor and genuine emotion. It was also a scary look at the look my life could take if I don't settle down soon...! Although if I could bump into George Clooney on the way, that would be too bad.

The surprise of the weekend, though, was The Blind Side, which I initially dismissed as just a football movie until I kept hearing how incredible it was. I enjoyed it so much more than expected, pleased that there was much more to the story than sports and impressed by performances all-around. It made you feel hopeful about America and Americans, and the good we can do in our own lives.

Have you seen any good movies lately? Anything you want to see? I was really blown-away by Precious and would highly recommend it; I expected good things for Pirate Radio (because Richard Curtis is a genius) but it definitely didn't live up to those hopes. On my to-watch list are It's Complicated (gotta love Meryl Streep!) and Nine (not sure what it's about but it's a musical set in Italy -- what more do you need?!).