Gelato-holic

Oh Pompi, the master of all sweets in Rome! Why must you make it hard on me by serving both gelato and tiramisu?

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Gelato is hard to pass up in Rome,or anywhere in Europe, because of how common and often it pops up on the streets.

Being that it was summer when I visited Rome I was slowly melting because of the intense heat wave; therefore, for my second trip to Pompi instead of a tiramisu I opted for a cold gelato.

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I chose the piccolo (mini) size, which was 2 euros and I was able to choose two different flavors. Although, this is much cheaper than Il Gelato di San Crispino, it is important to keep in mind that Pompi is not a specialized gelato house.

I picked the classic tiramisu flavor because Pompi is the king of all tiramisu shops along with the pistachio. The tiramisu gelato had strong hints of espresso and the pistachio gelato had chunky pieces of the pistachio nuts.

Quite frankly, the tiramisu bodes well in Pompi because that is what they mainly serve and are known for whereas the gelato failed to stand out to me because it reminded me of supermarket gelato. There was no distinct taste or flavor that pushed the gelato to the next level.

I definitely do recommend visiting Pompi at least once but strictly for their tiramisu! After all, they are the master of all tiramisu dishes! Once you try a tiramisu from them, you’ll be back everyday until you leave Rome! If you do crave gelato, you can check it out but leave it for elsewhere! If you’re not gelato crazy and would rather save money on gelato then check out Pompi’s gelato selection! If you’re a gelato fanatic, check out Il Gelato di San Crispino instead!

Fun tip: Rome is the home for the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday. One of my favorite scenes, personally, is the one where she eats a gelato on the Spanish steps! However, tourists and locals, or anyone in general, is not allowed to bring their gelato to the Spanish steps! As much as you want to impersonate Hepburn and take a famous gelato photo, save it because the fine is not worth wasting your money on!

Instead take a picture on the left side of the Spanish steps (orientation as if you were looking down the steps, in front of the pink flowers having the cameraman angled on the right side of you (cameraman orientation as if he/she is looking up the stairs) if you want the best and closest picture to the one featured in Roman Holiday. 

Lastly, wherever you eat a gelato, Buon Appetito!

Sweet Tooth Pompi

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Pompi hits the ballpark for all those who have a sweet tooth — whether you’re into tiramisu or gelato, it has it all in multiple flavors!

Backing up a bit, gelato is a famous frozen treat all around Europe; however, tiramisu is a popular dessert dish in Italy. Tiramisu is directly translated to “cheer me up or lift me up” in Italian and the name is befitting in many ways. First off, the sweet dessert is made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, battered with high energy content ingredients sugar and egg, layered with mascarpone cheese, and sprinkled with cocoa at the top. As you can tell with sugar, egg, and coffee mixed together it’s hard not to be “lifted” up after consumption!

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Over time because of its popularity the dish soon expanded by replacing coffee with different ingredients such as berries, pistachio, banana, chocolate, etc. Personally, I know when I’m feeling burnt out or sad what I need is a bit of sweetness in my life and that usually comes in the form of a tiramisu nicely packaged with hoards of strawberries on the top!

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Bar Pompi in Rome has become a favorite among locals and tourists because of its close proximity to the Spanish Steps and due to its presentation. They have reinvented the classic dish to fit the modern trends of customizing it to the needs of everyone. Coffee is not a strong suit for everyone and knowing that they create flavors that offer fruits or chocolate or nut as a replacement to coffee. They’re not leaving behind the classic history of tiramisu but instead they are advancing it to fit those with the most adventurous taste palates.

Once you see the display of all their tiramisu’s it’ll take you forever to choose one. Elizabeth Gilbert ate her heart out in Italy and so can you. Don’t be ashamed to pick up two for yourself, after all I did!

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From L to R: Mixed Berries and Strawberries

Since I am a huge fruit person, I picked both the strawberry and the mixed berry tiramisu! After eating a whole bunch of classic coffee tiramisu at Gilli’s, I decided it was time to spruce up my taste buds! The only difference between the two is that one has solely strawberries and the other is a mixture of both blueberries and raspberries. The mascarpone cream tastes exactly like vanilla pudding and the ladyfingers are at the bottom resembling the texture of Nilla Wafers. All in all, it reminds me of Magnolia’s Banana Pudding… Mhm, yummy!

The price for each tiramisu is four euros, similarly, in the city a slice of cake can range from four to eight dollars; therefore, the price is reasonable! The only complaint I have is that there are no seating chairs inside except for a standing table. After walking around everywhere in the heat it is nice to sit inside once in a while. However, you lose some and take some! Instead, you can take out your tiramisu and sit near the Spanish Steps (Piazza di Spagna)!

The destination is really close from the Spagna metro stop and the Spanish Steps (perhaps only 2 minutes).

TIP: You pay in the cashier first, which then they will give you a ticket! Afterwards, you make your way to the counter and when it’s your turn, choose the tiramisu flavor you wish to eat!

Official address: Via della Croce, 82 Roma

 

 

A Hidden Secret

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From the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Paris, Paris Eiffel Tower. Both work together in tandem. When you hear Paris, 90% of the time Eiffel Tower will be mentioned, as well. After all, Eiffel Tower is the landmark point in Paris and France, in general.

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From Palais de Chaillot (Night)

However, here’s a secret! What people fail to realize is that Eiffel Tower can be best seen not at Eiffel Tower but at Palais de Chaillot! After all, if you climb up the Eiffel Tower, there is no way to take a picture of the tower but only a picture of yourself to mark to the world that you went up the overpriced tower. In fact, save that money and use it on Montparnasse or Arc de Triomphe, I would choose the latter. The main point is to see the tower in Paris, no other sight can match up to the beautiful bright twinkling lights from the tower. Second, if you’re standing right in front of the tower, how do you expect to get a full picture of the tower? Taking all these into account — walk over to Palais de Chaillot and get yourself a proper picture before heading over to the actual Eiffel Tower.

In order to get to Palais de Chaillot, take the Metro Line 6 and get off at Trocadero. From there, walk straight out the platform and you’ll see Palais de Chaillot.

Picture tips:

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From Palais de Chaillot Stairs (Night)

If you go at night be sure to catch the twinkling light show that begins at 10PM from the top of the stairs. The duration of the show is only 5 minutes. Fun fact: It used to be 8 minutes but due to energy saving they cut it down to 5 minutes.

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From Palais de Chaillot Fountain (Daytime)

After watching the show, start taking pictures from the top then make your way to the bottom, which is where you’ll spot a fountain. During the daytime, the fountain is the best place to hangout while having a mini picnic by yourself or with your family and/or friends. It can also be the prime photo spot to get a full body picture of the Eiffel Tower with limited tourists lounging around the background of your photo. After all, why would you want to share the spotlight with a silly young boy screaming at his mom in the background when you or the Eiffel Tower should be the highlight of the photo.

Don’t stop at the fountain, now it’s time to actually walk to the Eiffel Tower. From Palais de Chaillot it is about an 8 minute walk. Just walk straight along a bridge until you hit a hoard of tourists, which will confirm your arrival to the tower. Here, instead of pictures just take in the energetic and bustling atmosphere of tourists and pick-pocketers!

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From Arc de Triomphe

Once again, if you’re willing to spend money to see the Eiffel Tower, do it through Arc de Triomphe or Montparnasse NOT the actual Eiffel Tower!

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From Montparnasse

Color My World

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Gallery in Burano

When traveling to Venice, it is essential to give yourself a day to visit two well-known islands, Murano and Burano! Transportation, limited to only water busses, are available at your service to take you to the islands throughout the day. However, keep in mind that the ride does take a while and you should account for around 1-1.5 hours of travel time especially if Burano is your first stop. Since Burano is further most recommend visting Burano first and then stopping by Murano before heading back to main land Venice. Also, since there are a lot of people on the water busses, try to arrive early to the stops!

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First stop: Burano. A whimsical island! 

As you slowly approach the island you will be welcomed with an array of bright colorful houses. Since the Burano is small, don’t expect to spend a whole day there. In fact most spend most spend around 2 hours maximum, which includes both photo and eating sessions. Murano is in fact an even shorter trip as I spent less than an hour walking around and taking photos! Burano with its lively colorful atmosphere and music on the streets, is a place more for the youth who enjoy taking pictures! There are more food options in Burano than Murano; however, I enjoyed catching a meal right in front of the water bus station! The vendor outside can provide you a quick meal before catching your ride but their dish was also satisfyingly yummy. Being a huge bread bowl fan back in America when I saw that they specialized in a bread bowl with seafood, I knew I had to try one! The bread bowl is more of a cracker/biscuit rather than a sourdough bread and the seafood that is offered on the bowl is calamari, fried fish, and fried shrimp! All fried but worth it! My theory is when traveling don’t worry about what’s bad and good for you — just enjoy life and eat everything!

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Bonus fun fact: If you are a fan of Korean pop culture then you’ll recognize Burano as the place where IU filmed her “Every End Of The Day” translated to “하루 끝” music video.

 

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Next stop: Murano!

Are you all hyped out from the colorful houses? Then Murano is the place to go for peace. Feel free to sit and just listen to the light waves crash one another. Rather than the architecture and atmosphere, Murano is known for the famous “Murano glass.” The glass start from six euros and go up to 21489824982982982 euros (okay, fine that was a bit exaggerated). It does go high; however, if you’re looking for something lower-priced, opt for a small trinket.

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Murano Glass

A fun way to spend your time  is to watch the workers make glass in their little factory. Some stores offer a glimpse of insight on how the glasses are produced and manufactured! Overall, it is a super short trip to get away from loud tourists crowd and engage with the locals!

I recommend visiting both only because the contrast between both islands are so distinct! It’s interesting to see how lively one island can be whereas the other is tranquil! Plus, both offer lovey-dovey spots for you and your partner! Or if you’re going with friends and families, there are tons of photo spots to take wacky and memorable captures! After all, half a day is all you need and there isn’t much to do in Venice anyways!

 

 

Le Yummy In My Tummy

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What is the best way to relax after spending a whole morning at the Louvre? Treating yourself to a three-course meal! After all, food makes everyone happy and what better way to satisfy your tummy than an appetizer, entree, and dessert all for one small price! Three-course meals have the reputation for being expensive and fancy; however, if you are traveling to Paris it is only correct to allow yourself to indulge in the luxuries of life! If not Paris where else would you try a three-course meal with wine?

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Before I divulge on my three-course meal experience, one important dish to try in Paris is escargot (snail). Before you start complaining non-stop it is important to note that although it is slimy, if you are a seafood lover the texture will be similar to raw crabmeat. Personally, I had no plans of eating escargot because I found the idea of eating a snail to be creepy; however, after being continuously peer pressured by my friends, I gave in. I fell in love…the texture was not as wet and mushy as I predicted it to be. I especially liked how the snail was intensely marinated with garlic and butter, which hindered the taste of salty sea water.

Eating the snail is a process but a fun one! The snail inside is marinated with green-colored sauce that is formulated from the garlic and herb butter. In order to eat the snail, using the utensil provided, similarly to lobster, you have to dig in with the pitchfork. The claw will help the snail shell be stabilized while you play around with the pitchfork. The tastiest way to eat the snail is to eat it with bread as the sauce oozes out the bread becomes marinated and you barely taste the slimy texture of the snail! If you love garlic bread, then after finishing the snail, dip your bread into the remaining sauce!

The first step to a three-course meal is to take a sip of red wine and indulge in a warm French Onion Soup. Instead of using a spoon to scoop the soup use a piece of bread!

As a fish lover I chose the salmon while the others in my party opted for the lamb dish! After sprinkling the lemon on my salmon the oil from the fish dissipated. The salmon was fresh! I wish there were more vegetables rather than rice to accompany the fish but overall it was a satisfying dish! The salmon was also pre-seasoned with herb and butter before I spread lemon all over! The rice was a bit bland; therefore, spreading the lemon on top helped the taste!

However, as much as I love salmon if I could re-choose my entree I would go for the braised lamb! The lamb was soft and marinated well! The mashed potato was seasoned right and not bland at all.

Lastly, for dessert I ordered the cream puffs, which I failed to take a picture of! Shame on me, the food blogger forgetting to take a picture! The cream puffs came with vanilla ice cream and was the perfect dish to end my three-course meal!

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I highly recommend visiting Le Bistrot 30 because the prices are not expensive, whatsoever, for a three-course meal! I paid 16 euros and in most restaurant’s that is the price of one entree dish! Why trek to Champs-Elysées for a meal when it’s bound to be overpriced and touristy! Instead stroll around St. Michael’s/Odeon location, whether you go to Le Bistrot 30 or elsewhere — it’ll be much cheaper than anywhere else in Paris! After you’re done eating here head on over to Amorino for a flower gelato with your loved ones!

Address: 32 Rue Saint-Séverin, 75005 Paris, France

A Summer Winter

Who said summer was long gone? It may be January but there is no snow outside my window! Hurrah, Winter has not officially come or it decided to skip over. Either way, no snow means I can happily eat ice cream as a replacement for not being able to taste the white fluffy snow!

Head on over to Grace Street for a taste of winter through their famous shaved ice dishes. The texture of the ice will feel the same as the snowflakes that fall down during the cold Winter nights! However, the taste will be much more prominent and delicious — depending on what you choose!

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I ordered the classic black sesame shaved ice, “The O.G.” This is different than the shaved ice from Caffe Bene or Paris Baguette. The ice is denser and has a fluffy texture, which allows you to imagine eating snow. When you first get the dish, the mountain of ice will feel overwhelming but once you take a bite, you’ll notice how light and creamy the ice is while harboring actual black sesame flavor, instead of just ice. My problem with shaved ice is whenever I order one from any cafe the ice is always unflavored and just plain ice. The flavor comes from the topping and the excess syrup; however, the shaved ice here has taste making the ice the highlight of the dish not the toppings. The O.G. was perfection because the shaved ice itself was delicious but the addition of the toppings made it much more heavenly. The red bean and mochi were an excellent pairing for this dish and the mochi was perfectly made — not too hard to chew. Combining the red bean and mochi in one spoon reminded me of the red bean mochi ice cream that I would buy in the Korean supermarket every weekend during the summertime. Lastly, the strawberries allows for the fruit lover to enjoy the dish without regretting too much in not ordering an actual fruit-based shaved ice.

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Fun fact: Before this cafe became a bustling and trendy spot for college students and young adults, it was mostly a to-go cafe to purchase Korean donuts (hodduk). Now, they transformed it into a sit-down, chill, and relaxing spot where one can catch up with their co-workers, friends, and families. The menu has become much more extensive, offering a variety of drinks and desserts not only limited to hodduk but also open to waffles and shaved ice.

However, longing for hodduk, I decided to stick with their original dish. Hodduk is Korea’s famous fried donut with cinnamon filling on the inside. To savor the taste of the melting cinnamon filling, it is important to eat this when it is hot or else the filling will harden and feel more like toffee than syrup. Grace Street adds creamy vanilla ice cream which is a perfect partner for the doughnuts. Try a scoop of hodduk and vanilla ice cream and your mouth will explode of happiness!

For those who miss the late night hodduk stands of Seoul and the bustling energy of the youth, visit Grace Street! In no time you may even become a regular!

 

Address: 17 W 32nd St New York, NY 10001

Website: http://www.bygracestreet.com/

 

Follow The Road To Brighton

Memories from June 2014 …

Although, I failed to make a blog while I was actually traveling I did mange to keep a written journal of my experiences abroad. Here’s a look at Brighton in East Sussex, England!

During my one day trip to Brighton I visited North Laine and Brighton Pier.

North Laine –

“What I really love about them… is the fact that they contain someone’s personal history…I find myself wondering about their lives. I can never look at a garment… without thinking about the woman who owned it. How old was she? Did she work? Was she married? Was she happy?… I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them or kissing someone…I look at a little hat like this, I lift up the veil, and I try to imagine the face beneath it… When you buy a piece of vintage clothing you’re not just buying the fabric and thread – you’re buying a piece of someone’s past.”
― Isabel Wolff, A Vintage Affair

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Oh, North Laine! Where do I even begin? North Laine is a place for the young and the curious! It is streets after streets of vintage shops and independent cafes. At first glance many of the houses and stores will look tattered and old but do not be discouraged. Part of North Laine’s journey is creating a story in your head of what this place used to be while wandering around. You create your own memories and experience. This is also the place for shopping, if you want to avoid the mainstream stores, such as Topshop and Berska. A lot of the shops and cafes offer student discounts; therefore, utilize them! Most of the stores are located near Gardner and Sydney Street! Upper Gardener Street is structured as a flea market as all the stores are placed in a narrow alley and many of the vendors sell items outside rather than a store.

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I visited out a cafe called, Milk No Sugar, which, is an independently run cafe by two college students and it was packed in the morning. They offer substantial food such as breakfast platters, sandwiches, soups, and salads. As any other cafe would they sold the usual pastries, coffees, teas, and smoothies. What brought me into this cafe was the line of books and magazines they had on their wall. As a fan of reading and killing time in the cafe, I entered and was also impressed that they had free wifi for their customers. This would become the next pseudo-Starbucks. You can study, catch up with friends, and just relax in here. Having a sweet tooth, as usual, I ordered a strawberry smoothie and a chocolate chip shortbread for breakfast! The shortbread was a mess to eat for a klutz like me but I did find the texture fascinating. Rather than it being hard like a cookie it melted in my mouth like a chocolate scone would.

Having only a day to spend here I did not want to waste my time shopping; therefore, I only visited two stores and I was glad to choose them! The first store I entered was called Vacant, which I went in because the 10%-20% student discount sign lured me in. They also had cute clothing items for both female and male customers. The second store I went to was Flax Emporium! I went to this store because I am a huge scarf fan and they specialized in scarves! They had an abundant amount of scarves, varying from texture, color, and pattern! It was difficult choosing for one specifically but I settled for a lightweight cotton white colored camera patterned scarf! Although, I bought this a little over two years ago, I am still wearing it on a daily basis and receiving tons of compliments!

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Since Brighton Pier is near the water I was finally able to find sashimi in this small Korean restaurant called Namul. Lewes is great but it was limited in food options. Everyday I found myself eating a plain sandwich, greasy pizza, or falafels. I missed my weekly sushi trips back home and longed to have a bite of salmon. Luckily, leaving Lewes allowed me to satisfy my cravings. The restaurant was small with limited seating but most of their food was packaged to be taken out! Service is friendly and quick — if you have limited time but want a healthier option rather than greasy pub food, check this cafe out and order your food to-go, if need be!

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Walking towards Brighton Pier I came by a street that was filled with art on the walls.

“What are walls if not to put your thoughts”

Touché. I wholeheartedly agree. Similarly, what is the point of paper if it is left blank with no ideas and thoughts written on. Walls are an additional source of public display to unveil the truth. On the other hand it should not be used to create a barrier ever. After all, the Berlin Wall fell down because no barrier can last long enough and if a wall is used the wrong way, peace will be disrupted.

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For me Brighton Pier was nothing special and out of the ordinary. Coming from New Jersey, which is filled with beach and lively entertainment during the summer, the pier did not amaze me as it would others. In fact, I find Ocean City much more exciting than Brighton Pier! Both offer arcade rooms, food stands, and a mini amusement park; however, the amusement park in Ocean City offers more ride and variety in food!

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Lastly, can’t forget the fish and chips when traveling to the United Kingdom!