06 June 2016

Day 10: Setting the right expectations

Beyond chasing world-renowned attractions and wonderful dinning opportunities, I knew this trip was going to be a lot about self-reflection. I’m still not sure what the trip means for Nabol and I, but for my mom it’s about realizing who she has become over the years and understanding that the world she once knew is a very different place.

The places and the people in those places, have changed. That realization could either bring frustration or excitement depending on how you look at it.

So far, mami has just been excited about being back — which is great. It has been harder for her to realize that she’s not as young anymore and not exactly able to meet the long list of expectations. Her knees hurt, she gets tired and she can’t look as fabulous everyday. She even lost a day in Paris recuperating from a little cold.

But even under those circumstances, I want her to know that there are ways to enjoy yourself. In Paris, we found a nice grocery store with great wine, pastries and mushroom soup next to our Airbnb in the neighborhood of Grenelle. Basic things you need to deal with any cold or frustration. Turn on the local radio, listen to some tunes and voila! A great Paris experience!

Anybody can have a great time regardless of limitations. But you have to be kind to yourself first. Then, make the most of what each day brings.

Today, we are in Frankfurt. We arrived yesterday and got to meet my father-in-law and his German family for the first time. They live about 35 minutes from here in a town called Gettembach. It was so much fun catching up with them over coffee and German cake. We felt instantly at home.

Can’t wait to have a few drinks with them later today. And if you’re curious about it, continue to follow our journey on Instagram or YouTube. #A25DayJourney

29 May 2016

#A25DayJourney begins

A friend once told me that traveling was the best gift you could give yourself. With time, I’ve learned it is also the best thing you can give to a person you love. More than a trip, what begins today is all about my mother’s stroll down memory lane. We’re revisiting all the cities and places where she remembers to be the happiest.

And if only you could see her face. Almost 74-years young, this lady is as excited as Madonna going on tour. Six countries, 16 cities, 25 days! Talk about a ridiculous mission! But is all for her. We are holding on to our skepticism, and following her blindly into the unknown. It’s going to be a good one.

Day 1 started with very long trip from Chicago to Lisbon via Madrid, the city where we decided to meet my parents, who were coming from San Juan. They arrived a day earlier to rest before the big adventure and to have an excuse to enjoy a nice cafecito and flaky croissants at El Horno de Almudena, their favorite bread shop on Calle Infantas.

We met downtown at the trendy Mercado San Miguel for a quick bite and headed back to the airport to catch our flight to Lisbon, our first stop. Follow our journey with the hashtag #A25DayJourney.

21 May 2016

Middle Eastern Bakery

We’re all about embracing the diversity in our Edgewater neighborhood. Every specialty market and family restaurant gives us a new perspective on food, culture and life. It makes us more excited about Chicago overall. The Middle Eastern Bakery in Andersonville is one of those places we kept on hold for a while, always intrigued by the teapots, the bread and pastries perfectly aligned by their street window.

This is the sort of place that teaches you something. You don’t just go there to enjoy the spinach pies and kibbi, but in their market section you go to find all the tasty treasures to cook and experiment with —pickles, spice rubs, sumac, nougat, imported chocolates, coffee, bulghur and beans. We could easily be here a while.

They recently opened a new café next door, between Clark and Foster. And it’s also pretty great. It’s hard not to come in when you can see juicy rotating meat roasting next to the window. Nabol wanted to try their ground beef kefta kabob wraps; I went for the kefta plate with salad and hummus. Super fresh, aromatic and delicious. And there are so many more staples in their menu. 

After a well-rounded meal, you quickly stop by the market for some homemade baklava, to eat Chicago-style on your way to the Red Line. And you know you’ll be back, many more times, because places in your community like this one inevitably become part of your identity, like a good book or a good song. It’s no longer just about the ethnic market close to home.

Kefta plate at Middle Eastern Bakery

Cherry candy with pistachios 

Pickles & Olives 

15 May 2016

Torrance Farmer's Market

California produce una cantidad considerable de las frutas, vegetales y nueces que consumimos en Estados Unidos. Por eso, no es sorpresa que sus mercados agrícolas estén entre los mejores de la nación, como el que visitamos recientemente en Torrance, California. Aquí se encuentran verduras y productos de unas 60 granjas locales.

California produces a sizable majority of the fruits, vegetables, and nuts we consume in the United States. It should be no surprise that they have some of the best Farmer's Market's in the country, like this awesome market we visited in Torrance, California. You can come here to find top quality produce from over 60 local farms.

El Original Farmer's Market

El Original Farmer's Market en el corazón de Los Ángeles es una de las instituciones más viejas de la ciudad y comenzó con un grupo de agricultores que encontraron un espacio en común para vender sus verduras frescas y productos artesanales. Hoy día es un paraíso para foodies donde se encuentra un poco de todo, desde quesos franceses e ingredientes exóticos hasta pequeños restaurantes y establecimientos de cerveza. Además, el market está conectado con The Grove, un centro comercial al aire libre y muy de moda donde hasta podrías toparte con alguna estrella de Hollywood.

The Original Farmer's Market in the heart of Los Angeles is one of the oldest institutions in the city and it started with a group of farmers that found a common spot to sell their fresh produce and artisan products. Today, it has become a foodie heaven where you can find everything from fine French cheeses and exotic ingredients to casual dining spots and small beer establishments. The market is also connected to The Grove, a very trendy open-air mall where you might find Hollywood stars doing a little shopping.

Redondo Beach Pier

La semana pasada estuvimos por California visitando familia en el área de Redondo Beach. Mis padres nos llevaron al viejo Redondo Pier a comer mariscos y disfrutar de la vista. En el siglo 19, este muelle estaba dividido en pequeños muelles donde llegaban barcos de todas partes con carga y pasajeros. Hoy en un área frecuentada por locales y turistas para disfrutar del pescado más fresco y de las actividades que se organizan aquí. En particular, nos gustó mucho el Quality Seafood Market y los tragos creativos de Tony's.

Spent a couple of days in California this past week visiting family in the Redondo Beach area. My parents took us to the old Redondo Pier to eat great seafood and take in the view. Back in the 19th century, the pier used to be a series of disjointed wharves where ships could dock to load and unload cargo or passengers. Today, tourists and locals come to enjoy the catch of the day and other events happening at the pier. We particularly enjoyed the Quality Seafood Market and the crazy drinks at Tony’s.