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Monday, July 21, 2014

Travel Alert: Day 4 – Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

The Wanna-Be Puerto Rican Diaries: When in PR...

As the saying goes, "Blondes have more fun." Pssh. Try being Puerto Rican


I cannot believe that it has been a week since my last post – I am still in shock that I am in this beautiful place. I feel like the people here take its wonder and beauty for granted, but I guess that is how it is in every picturesque location on this planet, I mean, people have to live somewhere, right?

Though I have been to Puerto Rico before, I now have a mature observation of what the young people are like here. Here's my take on them.

[Please be advised that the following statements are a little out of my character.]


  • The Male Puerto Rican Species – Dear sweet Mary and Joseph, I am in the land of gorgeous Latino men. Thus far, the male market here has definitely exceeded my expectations, though I would like to point out that my assumptions that the majority of the male population is sub 5"7 is in fact correct, but there are a select few that are taller than that that really should just walk around shirtless. 
    • BONUS: The dudes can dance too! If you like a man who can dance and sound absolutely adorable when trying to speak English (if they cannot already since a large portion of the population can) this or any other Latin country should do. I feel like Argentinian dudes are taller. Hmmm... Next trip!
    • ATTENTION VISITING LADIES: Beware the old creepers that do exist and the ones that come here to vacation, I mean, I know those types are everywhere, but here they appear to be especially stalkerish and gross.
  • The Female Puerto Rican Species – Gorgeous. Bodacious. Insane dance moves. Racks of steel. The men on this island literally have it made, but I guess so do a lot of the old creepers that come here for vacation. I would like to mention that my alter-ego is Puerto Rican and her name is Inez and she is incredibly sexy. Unfortunately, she does not seem to be coming out to play, since I have been here – I guess she can't convince people of her "Puerto Rican" heritage. Carajo.  
    • BONUS: They're friendly for the most part, if you look like a hopeless chick – they'll help integrate you in the group and teach you some sweet moves. All hips, baby.
    • ATTENTION VISITING MEN: To date a Puerto Rican woman, you have to be a REAL man, none of that talk the talk junk, these chicas like action. Additionally, you're going to get your heart broken or your nuts crushed – these ladies do not play around and are ridiculously scary drivers.

On a night out on the town, I saw some women that legitimately didn't look real – they were just too perfect! Their perfection did in fact render me speechless and I too, felt like a gawking member of the male species as they passed me with their luscious locks of Caribbean perfection and voluptuous curves. Is there a store that sells stuff like that?! I mean, I guess plastic surgery would do the trick, but like, come on! You're setting a standard that is too unreasonable to be met. Oh, well.

Next.
Where I am staying:
The Gallery Inn, Old San Juan 
The Gallery is this gorgeous old victorian bed and breakfast that I just happen to be living in for a month – I got lucky enough to work here!

 All that said and done, here are some rad pictures and a cool video that I am sure you'll enjoy – after all, a picture is worth a thousand words, so...

OLD SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO | Nice view from one of the balconies of the hotel.
CALLE SAN SEBASTIAN | Down this cozy little street and all around this area are a slew of cutesy shops and restaurants. I went to one with my boss for "Sunday Funday" – we just drank mango margaritas, had beer and some food.

Comida 

Before I arrived in Puerto Rico, my knowledge of the fare served on this island was limited. Of course, having a Puerto Rican aunt helped a little and I was familiar with a few dishes, like pasteles and fried plantains, but as a whole, I wasn't too sure what the cuisine was all about aside from being deep fried and lacking in vegetables. 

Yesterday, my boss, Jan D'Esopo and I went out for lunch to enjoy drinks and also talk business at her favorite little place, the Palmas Restaurante. There we had a plethora of mango margaritas and beer as well as ordering some arroz con pollo or chicken and rice. 
Arroz con pollo/Rice with chicken plated with tostones
The way they served it, it resembled a Puerto Rican version of Chinese chicken stir fry – every country seems to have a similar dish. The dish was garnished with what seemed to be a single bell pepper and also came with tostones on the side. 

I was not really familiar with the side until I arrived and realized that a large staple of this culture involves plantains. Tostones are mashed plantains that they deep fry – you can enjoy them plain or dip them in guava sauce (also a popular condiment). Plantains are literally used everywhere – chips, dessert, flour, paste, etc.


Bebidas

Try this bad boy out for size.


Mango Margarita with pleasant San Juan background


MEDALLA | When in Puerto Rico, you drink the beer there.


If you're not into the whole Medalla bandwagon and you're more of a craft beer person, not to worry, La Taberna del Lupolo has you covered. They have an insane amount of craft beer and it's all great.

BEER DECOR | Nothing like a wall full of absurd beer quotes (too big to get the whole thing/looks like I have to go back. Yippee!).



Monday, July 14, 2014

Celebrity Alert: Nadia G of Bitchin' Kitchen

T-2 Days Till Take Off

She's pretty and loves bacon. What's not to love?
Happy Monday!

Today is the second to last day at my editorial/dine internship. Last week my Dine Editor, Lesley, gave me a great opportunity to have a phone interview with one of my favorite foodie celebrities, Nadia G of Bitchin' Kitchen. The phone interview went very well – I got a lot of useful information and although we mostly spoke about food and her favorite places to eat and her new show Bite This that is airing tonight on the Cooking Channel, we also spoke about one of our favorite fashion accessories – shoes. 

Nadia is spunky and fresh and incredibly foodie and fashionable, not to mention, super bad ass – fingers crossed that we become friends one day so that we can have epic cooking sessions and bond over bacon and tattoos (I should probably get one first – maybe I'll just keep the conversation at ice cream cone stilettos.).

Long story short, here's the article both pretty and published as well as a picture of Nadia.

"Stay hungry." – Nadia G, Bite This

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Travel Alert: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA

T-3 Days Till Take-Off


The days leading up to an adventure are always full of excitement and anticipation – whenever I think about leaving, the feeling is bittersweet, but also scary. I have endless thoughts about what I will be doing and who I will be meeting but now I have to face the facts that three days from now I will be in a land where the weather is so thick that no matter how much I try to look presentable, my clothes won't be dry – but that just comes with the territory. This Thursday morning, I will leave my cozy apartment in downtown Los Angeles to travel to a small tropical island in the Caribbean for a month long excursion of both business and pleasure. While there, I will make meaningful connections and form bonds, but most of all, I know that I will miss my friends and family.

This summer – though it is not over yet – has been one for the books. I have made life long companions and I have had a ton of Y.O.L.O. moments that come with being a college student – memories, man. Memories. The friends I have made are probably the best part – I am just really blessed to have such a great group of people around me. One of my roommates is studying abroad in the fall – therefore, I will not see her until 2015. To celebrate the division and distance that comes with college friendships, we are having a giant going away party and the Facebook description is priceless:
"After a smashing good time at my birthday bash, who's ready for round 2??
Alegra is leaving us for the summer to go to the mystical and mysterious island of Puerto Rico! Help us achieve the ultimate level of inebriation to ensure that her early morning flight is one of bad decisions, singing country music with Dierks Bently, and eating airplane food with the appropriate amount of gusto that only comes with the drunchies.

BYOB is encouraged but not enforced for we will be providing the liquid that makes the pretty girls prettier.

Bring your friends! The more the merrier!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrM39m22jH4&feature=kp " 
Am I right? And the picture she paired it with:


Oh dear. Bring it on.


Distance is hard, but it's just another part of life that I am learning to deal with, let alone get used to. You see, I never had these strong of bonds with people before, so me leaving is nerve wracking, but I have to trust that everyone will be here when I get back. At least, most of them anyway.

My best friend E just graduated from college and I couldn't be more proud – I felt like a proud mom on his graduation day because my eyes were welling up and my heart was racing. Now, he is done with his undergraduate education and he is taking the necessary steps to become a hardworking and wealthy businessman; he's taking a few extra classes to make up for some credits that didn't quite transfer when he studied abroad in Europe and he has applied to a slew of jobs across the country in a concrete jungle that we refer to as "The Big Apple." When he broke the news to me and confessed that he felt that his interview went extremely well, I knew in my heart that this job thats is so far away from me was meant to be for him – he finds out this week if he gets it and when he does, he'll be leaving when I am gone. That's going to be hard, but that just means that I will have to save up to visit him in my favorite city whenever I have a break from school. Challenge accepted.

On a tropical note, my friends and family in PR keep sending me teaser pictures, so I thought I would share. Don't drool too hard.

Here's some sunset for you:


How about a cutesy street view?



And some beach?

Now grab a napkin and wipe up your drool! More updates soon!


Sunday, May 18, 2014

WARNING: This post contains bacon.

Favorite Recipe's Blog #1

BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON 


Bacon is one of my favorite foods, so the following post will consist of all of my favorite bacon filled, bacon wrapped, bacon fried, and bacon sautéed recipes – not to mention some of my favorite blogs.

BACON WRAPPED...


Bacon Wrapped Avocado Fries
By Kirbie's Cravings

Three weaknesses: bacon, avocado, fries. As an athlete, I am not supposed to eat bacon [often] or french fries – due to their high calorie laden composition – but that doesn't stop me from indulging from time to time; avocado is every Californian's weakness. Thanks to some savvy web surfing and the help of some of my foodie friends, I cam across this recipe from the blog Kirbie's Cravings. The recipe blends two of my weaknesses together and creates the third – bacon plus avocado equals fries. 

Why is this recipe great? Bacon wrapped avocado fries are bomb, duh. Not only is this recipe simple – it calls for only two ingredients, bacon and avocado – so it's super fun to make, low budget and would be an excellent addition to any summer BBQ. (If you're not an avocado fan, feel free to replace the avocado with any vegetable you would like.)

Alegra's Holla Rating 4/5 STARS


BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON 


Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers
By Paleo Nick, presented by Constantly Varied Kitchen 


I love jalapeño poppers, but this recipe creates one of my favorite poppers. Along with the guacamole and spinach artichoke dip, I made these bad boys for Super Bowl XLVIII earlier this year and they were a complete hit – the best benefit of these is that they are good for you, which means that it is okay to overindulge. I had a couple of friends at the party that were curious and eager to taste them, but when they heard that they had jalapeño, they immediately thought otherwise. Do not be alarmed by the "jalapeño" because in this recipe, the peppers are deseeded anyway so the only thing that you taste is a small kick of flavor and not your mouth burning on fire. 
What's paleo?
I know what you're thinking, "Paleo is just another dumb diet." Nope. Paleo is diet but also a lifestyle. Paleo is choosing to eat the healthiest and live the fullest life. The goal of paleos is to cook and create meals that benefit the active human body. This includes proteins like red meat and chicken and vegetables that are not processed or dressed in any sort of condiment – though, for Paleo Nick, there are some paleo exceptions. I cannot say it any better than the Nerd Fitness website:
"The Paleo Diet is an effort to eat like we used to back in the day…WAY back in the day.  If a caveman couldn’t eat it, neither can you. 
This means anything we could hunt or find – meats, fish, nuts, leafy greens, regional veggies, and seeds. Sorry, the pasta, cereal, and candy will have to go! Instead, you’ll be making things like chicken stir fry and paleo spaghetti."  


The finished product – fresh out of the oven. 

Alegra's Holla Rating 5/5 STARS


BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON


BACON INFUSED...




Fun brunch idea!!!!
These are rad. I have yet to try them or make them, but they sound pretty cool and gourmet #amiright?

Eggs, some crumble and bacon make a lovely combination for any occasion. 
Why is this recipe great? 
It's easy, requires only five major ingredients, the eggs are fun to make and the end product is delicious. Wanna have people coming back to your place for brunch every weekend? Make these guys.

Alegra's Holla Rating 4/5 STARS

BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON BACON 



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lentil Salad with Feta




Williams and Sonoma Recipe || 
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Vegetarian, by Dana Jacobi (Oxmoor House, 2007).



Oh lentils, lentils, lentils, how I should be eating more of you.

I was relieved from my academic responsibilities last week, which means that I allow myself a week long vacation full of binge eating and drinking before my strict summer schedule kicks in. The phrase, "Your eyes are bigger than your stomach," applies perfectly in this instance because – though I thought that I could handle it – since Sunday, my body has consumed enough pizza, cookies, mixed drinks, beer, cupcakes, macarons and tacos to last me a lifetime. My body is craving both exercise and something healthy. 

In an event of starvation and also some desperation, I looked in my fridge and pantry to see what I could concoct. I found lentils and feta cheese. 

Lentils are a mystery to me. I find them impossible to cook properly and I do not find them particularly appetizing during warm Southern California weather, so I turned to the internet for some delicious lentil salad recipes to satisfy my healthy craving. 

I found this recipe from Williams and Sonoma (one of my favorite stores) and adapted it to what I had at home. The original recipe called for a few ingredients that I did not possess in my kitchen at the time I that made this, so I replaced carrot with apple, red onion with green onion, eliminated bell peppers, used apple cider vinegar instead of red wine and used cilantro instead of parsley. I dare say that it came out very well.


Alegra's Lentil Salad with Feta
"Lentils absorb seasonings well and can be transformed into a variety of distinctive dishes. After making the cooked lentils for this salad, you can use the leftovers in a pasta and lentil soup or a spicy curry." – Williams and Sonoma

Ingredients:
For the cooked green lentils:
            1 lb. green lentils
            1 gala apple, halved
            1 celery stalk, cut into 3 pieces
            1 yellow onion, peeled and halved
            About 5 fresh flat-leaf cilantro sprigs

            
            5 stalks green onion, chopped
            2/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf cilantro
            2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
            1 Tbs. olive oil
            1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
            Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:
Cook the lentils
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, apple, celery, yellow onion, cilantro sprigs and 8 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the lentils are tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove and discard the vegetables. Spoon out 2 1/2 cups of the lentils for the salad. Set aside the remaining lentils to cool before storing for later use (see Storage Tip below).

Prepare the salad
In a bowl, stir together the red onion, chopped cilantro and the 2 1/2 cups lentils. Stir in the vinegar and olive oil. Add the feta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Serves 4 (makes about 6 cups cooked lentils total).

Storage Tip: Store the cooked lentils in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. It is best not to freeze beans.


Call me a dork, but Mario Batali is the man