This week I’m excited to have Julie help me out with this special Friday post. She is my twin and best friend and has therefore not only been there for all of my major and life-changing moments… She has also experienced most of them with me.
Is there a certain place that you’ve always cherished? Or perhaps a place you’ve always wanted to visit? For Julie and me, traveling is something we truly love and plan to do for the rest of our lives… Hopefully together, hopefully paid for by the parents. There is so much history and culture embedded in many different places and of course, the food is always fantastic. So today, we’re going to share with you five of the greatest places in the world.
1. Rockport, Massachusetts
When we was little, my family went on adventures every summer to a small, sea side town on the north shores of Boston. Both Julie and I are convinced that our lifelong obsessions with small towns, sea shells, homemade ice cream, and wind chimes made of sea glass are a direct result of our memories of the faintly sweet, yet salty ocean breeze coming off the water and brushing past my cheeks.
K recommendation: Tuck’s Candies. Probably the best salt water taffy you will ever have. Plus unique fudges, Swiss chocolate, and peanut butter cups. And the bonus? You can stand in front of the store and watch them make your sticky treat in the side window.
J recommendation: Blue Lobster Grille. I know the name seems to lead people in one direction, but I’m a big fan of their New England Clam Chowder. Seriously, it’s delicious. Believe me when I say that I’m a clam chowder fiend and I’m always searching for the best. Well, people, this is it.
2. Assisi, Italy
When I was 19, I spent part of the summer in Italy. It is, to this day, my favorite country I’ve visited in Europe. Well, it’s the only country I’ve ever visited in Europe… But that’s neither here nor there. I lived in Assisi, a small hill town in the region of Umbria, where rolling hills were my playground and Renaissance art and architecture plagued the streets. Flower pots lined the tops of terraces, large glasses of red wine were an every day thing, and fresh pastries and creamy gelato were daily indulgences. I witnessed Lady Gaga perform outside of the Colosseum. I toured the Grotte di Frasassi caves in the obscure, yet beautiful Le Marche region. I even swam in the Adriatic Sea. All very impressive stuff, indeed. But perhaps one of the most important things I gained from these experiences was my first tasting of bruschetta, ever. Okay, I hear snorts of laughter at that. But this is a food blog, what did you expect me to say?
K recommendation: La Stalla. Picture this: An old stable turned into an authentic restaurant with stone walls, huge wooden tables, and pitchers of wine. Some of the most simple, yet most traditional, Italian food I have ever had. It’s also a beautiful walk from the center of town — about 30 minutes up a long, winding hill with a spectacular view of the plains below.
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
It is a city unlike any other. It is boisterous, colorful, and full of a vivacious energy that seems to soak into the skin. Listen to funky, jazzy sounds of the city and taste the succulent local treats. Delicate pastel buildings line the French Quarter and free-thinking, free-wheeling people hang around Bourbon Street. Hop on and off the trams to grab crepes or take a horse and carriage ride down to the center of town. The place is steeped in history and passion, and, for all its recent tragedy, is returning to its lively and happy personality.
K recommendation: With all of the amazing food in New Orleans, it’s tough to choose just one! One of our absolute favorites is Slim Goodies. I love the cozy, authentic atmosphere that makes you feel as if you’re just getting back from a late night on Bourbon and need a perfectly suitable pancake stack for brunch. Trust me, you want to make a stop here on your way through the Big Easy. I hope you don’t mind waiting. Long lines are okay when you’re waiting for the best things.
J recommendation: Cafe Du Monde. Cups of cafe and beignets that are so fluffy and delicious you will vow to return to NOLA. It’s one powdery goodness that can’t be found elsewhere.
4. The White Mountains, New Hampshire
The wise Thoreau once wrote, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life. And to see if I could not learn what it had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Both Julie and I are so grateful that we were able to be challenged by the outdoors when we were growing up. Just seeing photos of nature, hiking trails, and peak views makes us want to hop into a car and drive north toward the lush and beautiful mountains in New Hampshire and Maine… To feel the hot sun beating down, to smell the rich freshness of pine needles, and even to feel the light-headedness that comes with altitude change. We just love when we get the opportunity to leave everything behind and get far out of town to explore and relax. Really… How can you beat buggy tents and moist sleeping bags?
K & J recommendation: “Gorp”. The tastiest thing you will ever eat. Granola with chocolate chips, m&ms, raisins, and peanuts. ‘Nuff said.
5. Kigali, Rwanda
My (Julie’s) home for four months. The beautiful, landlocked tiny East African country has undergone civil war, genocide, rehabilitation, reconciliation and finally peace all in 20 years. I’ve never seen a place so beautifully lush and green, speckled with banana tree plantations and layered with farms resembling the delicate patchwork of a quilt. Rwanda is near and dear to my heart, and it’s known for one major export: coffee. Coffee shops are becoming quite popular in the city and I experienced my fair share. Bourbon coffee was one of my favorite places, and known to many of my friends as ‘muzungu paradise’. I loved going there when I craved a rich mug of African coffee, naturally from crop to cup.
J recommendation: Bourbon Coffee Shop. Lucky for us Bostonians, Bourbon coffee just opened a new location in Porter Square. Make sure to try the African coffee, complimented by cocoa, ginger and cinnamon. You can even have a side of chocolate ginger african granola.
Thanks for joining us today!
Credits: photo #3