Perfection in Brooklyn: The Blanca/Roberta’s Experience

The juxtaposition of Blanca & Roberta's

Oh, Brooklyn...you've won me over within one corner block in Bushwick alone. I rarely write restaurant reviews but this place made me so happy in my soul that I had to share it with all of you. Blanca and Roberta's are sister restaurants run by the same chef with vastly different vibes. The juxtaposition between the two (and the foodie internet radio station sandwiched in between!) is absolutely irresistible...read on for a photo journey through my experience at both a 2 star Michelin restaurant and an amazing hipster pizzeria. Be forewarned, this is going to get you revved up and hungry for your next trip to Brooklyn...

Eating My Way Through Maui!
SavoryGirl is heading to Maui for Christmas...and that means an opportunity to eat my way around the island! I've never been to this island so I'm pretty excited to explore, but honestly the two times I went to Oahu I wasn't super impressed.  So to prepare I reached into my network of friends who both frequent Maui and have family who live there and know how to eat like locals.  Meaning I'm feeling pretty confident of my picks although there are way too many of them for even SavoryGirl to get through in one trip.  You know me though, I'll certainly do my best!  Luckily my boyfriend is as big of a foodie as I am and will need no convincing to jump in our convertible to drive along gorgeous scenic views just for the chance to try some delicious food.

Take a look at my map above, if you click on each locale you'll see a ton of information pasted into each one so you don't need to go research it separately. We're doing a luau at our hotel for our Christmas Dinner which should be a fun twist on tradition (which let's be honest holiday traditions are hard for me to change or give up...but I figure once I throw on a bikini I'll all of a sudden be ok with it!).   Of course, if I'm missing any must-eat spots (beyond a few I know of that I couldn't add to the map due to unreliable locations...see below) please do let me know!

A few more not on the map:
  • Yellow "BBQ Grill Island Style" hut near mile marker 35
  • Gogi Food Truck
  • Like Poke Truck at the Saturday Swap Meet
  • Foodie spots on the Road to Hana...see separate map below for those
Now, of course we are going to do more than just eat.  We have a plane tour scheduled to take us over Maui and the active volcano on the Big Island, we're scuba/snorkeling, hiking, beach bumming and doing the sunrise on top of Haleakala then tackling the Road to Hana on the same day.  That last one is an ambitious undertaking...but if you're interested I've provided the map I created (with foodie stops specific to that route) below.  Do your research before deciding to take this on though, we're being a bit crazy doing both in the same day!
SavoryGirl’s Cooking Something Up…Join DolceVita’s Wine Country Safari!

Vineyards

You may have noticed that my posts have been a bit less frequent lately...and for that, I apologize. But I'm working on something super exciting! I'm working on a business idea I've had for a very long time...an exclusive immersive, behind the scenes, all-inclusive experience in wine country. Why am I doing this?  Well...I believe that visiting wine country often feels like going to the zoo: uninspiring winery tours, usually leading to crowded tasting rooms. But I also believe that visiting wine country can be more like embarking on a true, authentic safari: exclusive, private tastings, behind-the-scene, hands-on activities, farm-to-table dining with local chefs and winemakers. So that's the experience I'm building...and as of right now I'm calling it DolceVita Wine Country Safari. 

There are still a lot of details to figure out and one of the steps I'm taking to make progress is to host a prototype weekend in Sonoma (hopefully October 9-11 but we may end up moving it out a bit).  The goal of this weekend is not only to start to build out the idea more fully but to also get live feedback from actual guests.  If you're interested or know others who might be please check out dvwinesafari.com for the full itinerary, pricing guide and instructions on how to join us for the weekend.  It's truly going to be epic, educational and delicious...we have a lot of great things planned! Since it's our first time doing this I'm offering it at a pretty amazing discounted rate so I make sure to fill the spots and get maximum learning...so act fast if you're interested.

I'll keep you all updated on my progress here but I do also have a whole list of really fun new SavoryGirl posts that I'm planning as well. I'm just having to split focus and put a bit more energy into DolceVita at the moment...but stay tuned on both fronts, exciting times ahead!

SavoryGirl’s Cooking School Adventure in Vietnam

Mung beans are added, then excess oil is drained

I love taking cooking classes when I travel...you learn so much about the food culture and usually get to try lots of foods all at once.  This class took that last part to the extreme!  It's Ms. Vy's Cooking Class in Hội An and it's held at the Morning Glory Street Food Restaurant and Cooking School. Honestly, I'd call this more of an eating class than a cooking class and it was pretty amazing. We did actually cook a few things...one being bánh xèo which is one of my favorite dishes I tried during my entire week in Vietnam! Even if you don't get to take the cooking class, I'd strongly encourage checking the restaurant out...everything is delicious and it's truly like you are at a street food fair with a million different options to try, but all cooked right there in the restaurant. Great way to check a lot of foods off your list if you're running out of time on your trip or a bit nervous about street food. Let's get cooking and eating! NoodleMaking First we learned how to make all different types of rice noodles...starting with the rice flour and water paste and cooking it up until it becomes a gummy dough.  Quite the cool and very quick process when you see the pros do it...there's a specific mixing method with two wooden dowels to get it to the right consistency, definitely more of an art than a science which was fun to learn about. Then we got to have a little noodle slice-off to see for ourselves just how difficult it is to hand cut noodles to the exact right thickness as quickly as the women teaching us were doing it.

Hilarity ensued...trust me, we were not good at this! I'm surprised they let us anywhere near a knife for the rest of the class after this experiment.  We also learned how to capture, fold and grab noodles coming out of the machine for thin rice noodles. You'd think since a machine is doing some of the work it would be pretty easy, but definitely a very specific technique here too.  We were much better at this, but takes some focus and real hand-eye coordination to get the little folded packets of noodles just right!
The Bánh Mì to End All Bánh Mì
Our Banh Mis about to get taken down...with beer...at 10:30 in the morning

Wow. Just wow. You know, you have to be careful with expectations when you travel.  Sometimes you build things up so much in your mind and expect the food and ingredients to be so much better than what you've had that you set yourself up for disappointment. I am here to tell you that I fully believe that is impossible to do with this Bánh Mì in Hội An. It. Is. Amazing. But be forewarned...so amazing it may ruing all other Bánh Mì for years to come.
Eating My Way Through Hanoi!

The streets of Hanoi

Oh, Hanoi! Hanoi! How I totally fell in love with this city! Honestly, it was completely unexpected...so much so that Katherine and I were lamenting as we planned out trip about how we were wasting a night in Hanoi because of our Halong Bay boat cruise instead of using that extra night in Saigon or Hội An. What was wrong with us?! Why did all of our friends tell us there was nothing in Hanoi and it would be fine if we skipped it?! I'm here to tell you, don't fall for that...Hanoi is amazing. There is the beautiful mix of French Colonial and Vietnamese architecture, a gorgeous European style promenade around the centrally located Hoàn Kiếm Lake, the air is cooler and less humid, the people are even friendlier and more fun-loving than everywhere else in Vietnam (which I honestly didn't think was possible) and the food is some of the best I had in all of Vietnam.

Oh, the food! This is where it gets tricky.  Since Katherine and I did end up with only one night (16 hours including sleeping time to be exact) in Hanoi as soon as I started researching the food I knew we had a problem on our hands. Too much food and too little time! But Katherine was a trooper and let me drag her all over the city to have not one, but three dinners plus street food plus another spot for dessert. Yeah, I get a little crazy when it comes to experiencing an amazing place through food...but trust me the marathon foodie sprint was worth it! So let's get eating... BunCha First up is the not-to-be-missed Bun Cha! Bun Cha is my new favorite Vietnamese dish that has fatty grilled pork, white rice noodles, herbs, a delectable mixture of pickled garlic and chilis and a slightly sweet dipping sauce. I mean honestly, this pickled garlic and chili component alone had me distracting my fellow diners with my groans of enjoyment as I ate! This was our first dish of the evening...and we knew we had a few more spots to hit after this so we were really trying to restrain ourselves and not eat it all but we just couldn't.  We slurped up every last bit smiling the entire time. The crispy spring rolls too...some of the best I had while in Vietnam.
SavoryGirl’s Guided Food Tour of Seoul

SavoryGirl in Seoul



Welcome to the 5th and last post in my South Korea foodie travel series! For a quick recap in case you missed some, the first was my South Korea Foodie Itinerary that I created prior to heading on my trip, then upon return I shared a quick teaser summary with highlights from both my Vietnam and South Korea trip. Then I dove a bit deeper with a post that allowed you to follow me, Eating My Way Through South Korea and finally shared a video of SavoryGirl Exploring the Noryangin Fish Market and eating live baby octopus. This last one highlights a food tour that I took while in Seoul and is honestly one of my favorites in the series...read on and I think you'll see why!

To be perfectly honest, I've never done a food tour before since I fancy myself pretty expert in this space myself (check out all of my foodie itineraries here), but since I was solo in a big city who's culture around food is all around being social and sharing I thought this might be the perfect time to try one out.  And, wow! I honestly might do one of these every time I go to a major new city in the future. What a great experience...not only for the behind the scenes spots and foods you get to experience, but for a glimpse into the true food culture and all of the great insight you get from a local, particularly if you're chatty like me! You even learn how to pronounce things and what proper manners are related to food and alcohol which can be incredibly helpful as you continue your travels throughout the region on your own afterwards. If interested, I did the Korean Night Dining Tour with O'ngo Food Communications and would highly recommend it. NakwonMarket Onto the first stop of the food tour...Nakwon Market, which strangely enough I can't find any information on anywhere online. This is not the Nakwon Music Arcade, but instead an underground food and cooking supplies market in the Insadong neighborhood.  It has a great mix of food & house ware markets combined with an abundance of spots to eat, where it appeared lots of business men came after work to enjoy.  Doesn't that handmade tofu look just delicious?! And a foreign market just wouldn't be complete without a shot of some kind of animal head! All ready for our Korean BBQ meal on our tour! Now onto Korean BBQ! This is why the food tour was perfect for me, no way could I order this all by myself! And while I've certainly had it in the States, it was important to me to try it out in Korea and I'm glad I did. It was certainly similar, but so delicious.  And I learned all about how to properly layer and wrap everything and make sure it all fits in one neat bite (did you know that?  I didn't!).  I also didn't know that the different lettuces you get are for different purposes...so there's lettuce for the outer wrapper, but then there are also Perilla leaves which are a bit thicker and more coarse and have a lovely mint/arugula flavor.  So our guide taught us to layer that on top of the lettuce, then smear the doenjang (Korean bean paste) and then layer in the meat  for a perfect bite. So yummy and educational!
VIDEO: SavoryGirl Explores the Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul



It has been much too long since I've posted a new video but I think it was worth the wait...this is a fun one! Not only do you get to follow me through my exploration of the amazing Noryangjin Fish Market in Seoul, South Korea but you also get to experience the amazing meal that was made for us right outside of the market with all of the live seafood we just purchased.  Including our first time trying live baby octopus (Sannakji)...that's right, live people!  So that part may not be for the squeamish (minutes 1:50-2:30) but it's a popular delicacy in South Korea and you know I like to eat the way the locals do, particularly if it's something that would be hard to find here in the States.

The tentacles are honestly delicious and we ate every last one from the two baby octopus we bought at the market.  I wish they served octopus sashimi here...so tender and tasty, but I guess the fact that they keep squirming around for almost 45 minutes after getting cut up wouldn't be appealing to most US diners! If you do try this on your own trip to South Korea please make sure to chew well...since the suction cups on the tentacles are still active while you're eating them if you swallow without chewing or don't chew properly they can potentially stick to your throat on the way down and be a bit of a choking hazaard.  We had no problem (although one tentacle did suction to Katherine's lip on it's way into her mouth!) and I don't think it's a big risk if you're not too squeamish and smart about it but definitely don't want to just swallow them down!

Enough talking...enjoy the video and please comment, like and share as you see fit!

Eating My Way Through South Korea!
Gun Bae to Korea with my new favorite drink Makgeolli!

Gun Bae to Korea with my new favorite drink Makgeolli!

I was recently lucky enough to spend almost a week in South Korea and let me tell you, if it's not on your list of places to visit it should be!  The people, the culture, the food...all of it was amazing and I barely scratched the surface. I spent most of my time in Seoul but also made it down to the ancient Silla capital of Gyeongju and up to the Demilitarized Zone at the border of North Korea. You can see my foodie itinerary here that I created before going but now I want to share a photo journey through some of my self-created favorite food adventures. I say "self-created" food adventures because I also took an amazing guided food tour while in Seoul which you can see here. I also shared a video you can view here from the Noryangjin Fish Market where you'll get to see us eat live baby octopus among other amazing treats fresh from the sea! If this all tickles your appetite or curiosity about this amazing country then make sure to check out all of my South Korea photos here. Happy visual feasting!   SeoulStreetFood First up, a late night binge on Seoul street food just steps from my hotel! Clock-wise from the top left...squid chips, egg bread, me slurping on the bright red Tteokbokki, the stall selling Tteokbokki and Fish Cake Skewers (in a most delicious broth!) and a pork dumpling.  If you've never had Tteokbokki this bright red one is the street food version that is super popular with locals...basically a super thick rice noodle chopped into bite-size pieces and slathered in a bright red spicy-sweet sauce.  Super yummy...so much so I brought a bag home of the chip-like junk food version of it!  One other must-try that's not pictured here (and is perfect for street food dessert!) are Hotteok...little fried, filled pancakes.  The Honey Hotteok was my favorite.  So yummy. Our First Breakfast in Seoul - Hangover Stew for Breakfast! My first breakfast in Seoul...Haejangguk, better known as Hangover Stew.  This is a rich, hearty stew made of beef broth, cabbage, bean sprouts, tripe and chunks of congealed ox blood. It's served with scallions, kkakduji (radish kimchi - one of my favorites) and rice. First, let me say, I was definitely the only non-local at one of the more well-known spots, Cheongjinok (19, Jong-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul) that I had to really go out of my way to find and most locals I asked about this or told I tried this almost fell off their chairs.  This is legit...so much so that they are not expecting some petite American girl to be interested in it, apparently! It seems, even that most of the
…and I’m Back from Vietnam and South Korea!


I'm back from my whirlwind 2 week tour through Vietnam and South Korea! I'm not quite ready to share all of my foodie photos and stories just yet, but wow...what an amazing trip.  Despite how many great things I've heard about Vietnam I was still completely blown away.  So much so that I already know I want to go back again...and that's incredibly rare for me to say since there are still so many new places to explore! Then South Korea completely exceeded my expectations in terms of food, people and Seoul being one of the cleanest and safest cities I've ever visited.

While there were certainly many non-food highlights from both portions of my trip, you are in for a treat with my upcoming posts about the incredible food I ate while traveling.  From traditional dishes like pho and bibimbap to the adventurous indulgences of fertilized duck embryos and live baby octopus still squirming and suctioning as I put them in my mouth!  I'll also be sharing my first new SavoryGirl video in almost three years.  I honestly can't believe it's been that long...but this will be a great one to get videos back in the rotation again.

In the meanwhile, the photo collage above is a sneak preview...consider it the many happy faces of SavoryGirl eating her way through Vietnam and South Korea! This is truly me at my happiest: exploring new cultures, trying new foods, meeting new people and making great new memories from around the world that will last a lifetime.   Stay tuned, lots more adventures from Vietnam and South Korea to come!