College Girl eats Prague-The 1st Month

Prague, Czech Republic, the special city where I’m spending 3 and a half months studying abroad, is the perfect place for a college student with a limited budget but refined palate. Prague definitely does not have a reputation for having world class food, but I’ve found plenty of awesome, hole-in-the wall spots since being here. Even better, it’s not rare to have a comprehensive sushi dinner and a glass of wine or a burger, fries, and beer for under $15 per person. To keep you from having to spend hours salivating over photos of every single Czech delicacy I’ve enjoyed, I’ve consolidated a list of my 5 favorite culinary experiences had thus far in Prague. Read below, and proceed to book a one way ticket to Praha:

1. Tridelnik

Tridelnik

Tridelnik are a donut/funnel cake/fried dessert fiend’s dream. Every busy street corner in Prague has a tridelnik stand where these little tubes of heaven rotate on an open fire like meat on an open spit. When you order your tridelnik, the ladies at the stand cut a tube of the fried dough off of the spit, sprinkle it with extra cinnamon sugar, and give it a generous spread of Nutella. 70 crowns, less than $3, is a small price for the immense happiness you get out of peeling layer after layer of light, fried dough and getting Nutella and cinnamon sugar all over your face.

2. Brunch at Cafe Savoy Soft boiled eggs with chive and parmesan//Fried eggs with black truffle

A lot of the time, our best food memories take place with the people we love most. Never has that been truer than in Europe. When one of my best friends came to visit me a few weeks ago, she convinced me to splurge a little and try Cafe Savoy, a brunch landmark in Prague. I am SO glad I did, because I got to try my first soft-boiled egg; velvety, rich egg yolk served in the cutest little glass and topped with parmesan (literally parmesan makes everything better) and chive. Obviously, plenty of bread was provided on the side to sop up all of the yolky goodness. My friend let me snag a bite of her unreal black truffle flake topped fried eggs. As if this wasn’t enough, I was convinced to order an apple strudel as well. We left truffle/soft boiled egg high and ready to take on our day of exploring.

3. Pho Vietnam

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All I have to say about this was that this massive bowl of soup and a side of fried heaven-sticks was $4 and it was un-f’ing real. Oh, and it’s around the corner from my apartment. I’ll be back.

4. YAMI. 

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Good sushi exists in Prague!!!! And not just good sushi, but pretty great sushi that tops anything you can find in Ann Arbor. For under $15, I had a glass of Chardonnay, split a delicious roll, and had melt-in-your-mouth pieces of yellowtail and tamago nigiri. The vibe is cute and cozy, the service is fast, and the food reminds you of home in the best way possible. This will most definitely be a regularly visited spot while I’m here in Prague.

5. Bakeshop Pumpkin Feta Quiche 

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I honestly never usually see quiche on an American menu and say to myself, “Ooh, I’m really craving a QUICHE right now and this one sounds soo good!” In Prague, however, it’s a different story. The quiche here is damn good, and none is better than the variety found at Bakeshop in Stare Mesto. This quiche was life-changing. You won’t think about quiche in the same way after tasting this flaky pastry base filled with salty blocks of feta, creamy pumpkin, and fresh herbs. My advice? Bakeshop is on the pricier side, a treat for a college student, so go with a friend, split the quiche, and if you’re feeling extra hungry, split a buttery almond croissant afterwards.

Creperie U Kajetana (for Tridelnik)

Nerudova 278/17, 118 00 Praha 1

Cafe Savoy

Vítězná 124/5, 150 00 Praha 5

Pho Vietnam

Anglická, 120 00 Praha 2

Yami Sushi

Masná 1051/3, 110 00 Praha-Staré Město

Bakeshop

Kozí 918/1, 110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město

A College Foodie’s Summer Bucket List

As a college foodie, one of my favorite parts of coming home to Chicago for the summer is the wide variety of culinary opportunities available to those with a serious appetite. I WILL accomplish everything on my culinary bucket list for Summer 2014, including:

1. A Ravinia picnic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ambiance and live music don’t hurt, but a Ravinia staple, and the aspect that requires the most preparation, is the picnic spread festival-goers tote to the concert. There’s not much better than  a perfect summer night filled with snacks ranging from a variety of Foodstuffs cheeses to a Tomato, Nectarine, and Mozzarella Salad , or from fresh Sea Ranch sushi to a box of homemade Seven Layer Bar Cookies. The Ravinia Festival is held at 418 Sheridan Rd, Highland Park, IL 60035.

2. One last stop at Hot Doug’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Doug’s, a shop that has served up a gourmet twists on a Chicago classic for over half of my lifetime, closes its doors this October. The last time I visited, I was #blessed enough to indulge in the “Dave Kingman,” now renamed the “George Mitterwald,” a zesty Santa-Fe style chicken sausage unlike any chicken sausage you’ve tried before. Because my palate has matured a bit since I was 14, and since I know the next time I visit will (sadly)  be the last time, I hope to take on their famous Foie Gras Hot Dog (shown above) and Duck Fat Fries. Hot Doug’s is located at 3324 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618.

3. Hold an Eataly Chicago v. Eataly NYC Face-Off

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m hoping that the offerings from my hometown Eataly can light a candle next to the creamy, rich polenta experience I was lucky to enough to have at Eataly NYC last summer. Having already tried the vegetarian mini-concept, Le Verdure,  I’m looking to indulge in the fresh fish at Il Pesce and finish things off with a Nutella crepe at the Nutella bar upon my next visit. Eataly Chicago: 43 E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611.

4. Leghorn Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While I’m accustomed to my family’s annual Popeye’s Fried Chicken Banquet, Leghorn Chicken in Ukranian Village may win as the coolest fried chicken spot in existence. Way more than just deep-fryers and grease, Leghorn utilizes a type of chicken long considered useless, and transforms it into a crispy, juicy pickle brined or spicy treat. Best of all, they live up to their motto, “Make Pickles, Not War,” by remaining a socially and politically conscious space. Leghorn Chicken: 959 N Western Ave, Chicago IL.

5. Food Truck Face Off at Techweek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a full day of tech, the Food Truck Face Off held just outside of the Merchandise Mart serves as a sunny and delicious respite from computer-talk. For under $5 per item, you can browse offerings from local trucks and learn about how technology inspires their food. If the pasties, hearty puff pastries with a variety of inventive fillings, and sausage trucks that showed up last year make a return appearance, you’re in luck. For more info, check out http://bit.ly/1jkIcXz.

6. Ramen-San

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus far, I haven’t met a Lettuce Entertain You restaurant concept I haven’t liked. I am loyal to Joe’s for great steak, RPM Italian for a trendy scene and rich homemade pastas, and Hub 51 as a standby for entertaining friends from out of town. So obviously, now that the people behind Lettuce restaurants have opened a cozy, cool spot for Ramen, I’m excited about the prospect of adding it to my list of Lettuce favorites. I can’t wait to try the Smoked Salmon Nigiri with Wasabi Caviar and the Shoyu Ramen with chicken broth, molten egg, and mushrooms, yum. Ramen-San is located at 59 W Hubbard St, Chicago, IL 60654.

7. Can Boltwood seamlessly replace Evanston neighborhood favorite Lulu’s?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first saw the above picture, I was shocked.  The warm colors and cluttered layout I had grown to love from Lulu’s, a pan-Asian restaurant staple my family had visited since I was a little girl, has been transformed into a modern, rich wood-lined restaurant serving farm-to-table food. Looking back on my eating experiences at Lulu’s, I don’t think I enjoyed the food as much as the familiarity. I’m going to keep an open mind upon my first visit to Boltwood, Lulu’s replacement from the chef of The Publican. Boltwood, 804 Davis St., Evanston, IL.

8.  Long Grove Strawberry Fest-June 20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The lengthy drive to Long Grove becomes worth it once you sink your teeth into a sweet, refreshing strawberry ice cream bar on a stick dipped in dark chocolate or a savory strawberry ceviche. Some of the strawberry offerings sound wacky at first, but everything you taste is surprisingly enjoyable as you stroll around the charming town. For info: http://www.visitlonggrove.com/event/long-grove-strawberry-festival-2014/.

9. Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches and a Movie at the Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Chicago Park District shows free movies, from A League of Their Own to Anna Karenina, at parks throughout the city over the course of the summer. What better accompaniment to a beautiful summer night and one of your favorite movies than the newly introduced (and much hyped) waffle ice cream sandwich? South Loop brunch spot Waffles serves up sandwiches ranging from Bananas Foster to a sweet potato waffle with chocolate, cinnamon-swirled ice cream, and chocolate sauce that you can pick up and munch on while movie-viewing. I’d say that beats the standby popcorn or Buncha Crunch!

 

 

 

 

Celebrations

Since coming home from college for the summer, I’ve had a lot to celebrate. For one, being home is in and of itself a celebration; but getting to take a break from doing my own laundry (thanks mom!), enjoying my mom’s healthy cooked dinners, and getting to take my dog on runs outside have been great perks as well.

The celebrations began with the annual Schuman Family Popeye’s banquet. Because my Grandpa is from Memphis, he likes to get all of the cousins together once a year to stuff our faces at Popeyes. Although he admitted this year that he ate more BBQ than fried chicken back in the day, and even though we were missing one of the cousins, Jaime, who was still at school, the night was still crazy and fun. Our table was filled with two massive boxes of fried chicken (one spicy for Grandpa, of course, and one mild), piles of sauces ranging from honey to hot sauce, onion rings, fries, rice and beans, and my favorite, biscuits. I filled my boat-Popeye’s uses “boats” instead of plates-classic-with the extra crispy spicy chicken wings, biscuits, and a few fries. The evening was filled with greasy fingers and Grandpa’s Navy stories. Even more reason to celebrate, 6/7 cousins were there-from Berlin to London, LA to Michigan, we all made it out for a night of fried food.

This week arrived with many things to celebrate. In my opinion, occasions like a big Shabbat dinner and my friend Lena’s birthday can only be rightly celebrated in one way-with Salted Caramel Brownies.

For a while, I’ve strayed from recipes that involve melting chocolate or other ingredients over a saucepan of boiling water. It seemed a little daunting. However, with the help of a “Real Simple” cookbook and mom’s homemade guacamole as fuel, I put on my big girl pants and used this scary method to melt some chocolate and butter for the Salted Caramel Brownies. These brownies are an Ina Garten recipe, and in Ina I trust. I began to heat the water in my pan, set the bowl of finely chopped chocolate and butter on top, and stirred, praying to Ina that it would work. It did! I have a reason to celebrate-a whole new class of recipes is made available to me now that I’ve adapted to this tool. This method of melting gave my brownies a great, melt in your mouth consistency and a richness that could have never been achieved in the microwave. The salty-sweet combo was a hit amongst family and friends. Thanks, Ina, for instilling melting faith in me!

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The little celebrations cannot be overlooked. In honor of Mother’s Day- I made a simple little cookie recipe for my mom-the ultimate popcorn lover. Buttered popcorn cookies, a simple recipe with unique results. By simply popping popcorn, mixing it with a classic cookie dough, and baking it for just a little bit, you end up with a chewy, crunchy, salty sweet texture that isn’t found in most desserts. I knew I made my mom’s day when I saw the little warm cookie I left out for her to taste post-baking disappear within minutes. Like I said, the little things count.

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Buttered Popcorn Cookies

There’s so much to celebrate this summer, especially when those celebrations involve sweets and sharing foodie memories with family and friends. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the summer!

LA LA Land

I am seriously in my happy place. On Friday, me, Cara and Emily (both East-coasters) finally escaped Ann Arbor’s cold, snowy wrath for a turbulent flight to Los Angeles. All I have to say, and I think Cara would agree with me on this one, is thank god for Delta’s seat-back TVs with movies like Sex and the City and Dreamgirls that we have seen close to 15 times each to distract us from the nausea resulting from the roller-coaster like flight.

The trip thus far has felt like it has been catered to please a foodie like me; somewhat unintentionally, our days have revolved around the ridiculously delicious meals we’ve enjoyed. Because of the time change, by the time we landed, it was dinnertime in California but 11:30 at night in Michigan and we were STARVING. Lucky for us, Amina and Roni were our knight in shining armors to whisk us away to the magical land of Umami Burger. This cool spot offered Asian spins on American burger and fry classics. We started with tempura fried onion rings, sweet potato fries coated in sugary goodness, and BOMB truffle fries. My burger, topped with homemade ketchup and a parmesan tuille, was obvi great, but those truffle fries, coated in a rich truffle glaze, topped any measly-truffle dusted fries of my past. Try not to drool on your computer keys as you stare at the photo below:

The next day, after a beautiful morning run along the beach and a little shopping, we headed to Venice for brunch at Gjelina, a trendy brunch spot on Abbot Kinney. The wait was a little long, so inevitably we had to grab a few short rib tacos from Koji, a Korean-Mexican fusion food truck that Roni and Amina insisted we were #blessed to stumble upon.

Unfortunately, we didn’t spot any celebs Gjelina (last time Amina was there, so was Dennis Quaid!), but the food absolutely made up for it. It was so fun to be out with a group of girls that seriously appreciate food. We started with a Gruyere, Fromage Blanc, Caramellized Onion, and Arugula Pizza that we obviously had to top with a Sunny-Side up egg. The egg was perfectly cooked and runny, and the salty cheeses complemented the sweet onions. We were all obsessed after one bite. For my main, I followed my new love of duck and ordered the duck confit potato hash with a sunny duck egg. Imagine a corned beef hash with crispy potatoes and replace that average beef flavor with the elevated flavor of duck fat, and you get a dish unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before.

DUCK CONFIT HASH that egg tho....

I’ll leave you with that image of pure beauty…more (FOOD) to come soon!! Deuces from LA!!

The Holy Land of FOOD

Let’s look back at one of the best times of my life, why don’t we? For 9 straight days I was able to indulge in freshly ground, quality olive-oil soaked authentic hummus. During my time in Israel this past Christmas, I managed to eat hummus with almost every breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Much of it was stuffed into straight out-of-the oven pita bread and accompanied tender shawarma or crispy, wonderful falafel. Some of it was eaten alongside hard-boiled eggs, eggplant and chocolate pudding for breakfast (yes, Israelis LOVE chocolate pudding for breakfast. I’m now a believer). But the best hummus of all could be found in a tiny stand in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. 

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I mean…….

This place didn’t have a door. Seriously. If you were too busy strolling the market searching for the perfect candlesticks or falafel maker, you probably would miss it. But luckily, our guide Hagai knew about this special spot. No menus, no prices, no kitchen. Just the hummus king doing his thing in a small booth right outside of the restaurant. I would post a photo of him, but he was a little camera shy (AKA he nearly looked like he would smash my camera in half if I even considered taking a photo). When this plate of heavenly goodness arrived in front of me, I was soothed by the briny smell of the olive-y oil and the warmth of the fresh pita. I’m sorry, but this pita blew Pita Inn out of the water. Considering our meal consisted solely of this heaping plate of hummus, we needed this bread to soak up all of the goodness.

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I want to reach through my computer screen and rip off a piece of this…

If I were to write about every amazing food experience my family and I encountered in Israel, it would probably be a novel. And unless you’re as food obsessed as me, you probably would not want to read all of that. In the meantime, here’s some photos from our time in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and the Galilee to drool over. If you want some more details about the sticky, sweet rugelach, caramelly beef carpaccio, or the fresh (and I mean fresh) goat cheese you see here, I’m your girl.

Until next time, Shalom! 

-The College Girl in an (International!) Foodie World

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Beef carpaccio with caramel sauce, parmesan, and crispy sweet potatoes from mahaneyehuda….SO much better than it sounds

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SHAWARMA from Moshiko. We may or may not have eaten it 3 times over a 9 day period…

 

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Candy on candy on candy at the Machane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem

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The best “Grilled Cheese” from a Yemenite food stand in Safed

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Back-road goat cheese tasting

 

A little introduction….

Welcome to the first ever “piece of cake” post! I’m Sarah, originally from Chicago but currently studying at the University of Michigan. I love hot yoga, shopping, traveling, dancing, and catching up on The Bachelorette. Above all, however, is my passion for food. Trying out new restaurants and recipes is what excites me most.

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My friend and I sampling delicious gelato from Eataly in NYC…I told you I get excited about trying new food 🙂

This blog isn’t called “piece of cake” for nothing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved all things culinary; cooking shows, exotic foods, hole in the wall restaurants, recipe books. But just recently has my passion expanded so that I’ve been cooking and baking multiple times a week. Still, I’m beginner. So I want to share recipes that are a “piece of cake”: simple, stress free, and delicious. I’m also a busy, broke college student that seeks affordable and quick food and spots to eat.

Sooooo if you’re searching for insight into the mind of a college foodie, look no further! Try out some new restaurants and recipes! Because, after all, it’s a piece of cake! 😉