Italy: The Best Gelato of my Life

italy and houses near the coast

Italy is one of those places that everyone always talks about, but you never really realize how cool it is until you are there. My initial reaction was and is: WOW. The history, the food, the people, the language, the GELATO. I can hardly contain all my excitement.

Our first week in Italy was in a quiet suburbia near Castleforte, and an hour from Rome. Rome was, yes, breathtaking. What was even more breathtaking was the kindness we received from our host family, Luleciano and Ewa and their two kids Greta and Giulio.

People are amazing, honestly. A year and a half into this crazy world travel life and I still find myself smiling profusely at the generosity and friendship we receive from absolute strangers.

After knowing my family for no more than two days Luleciano took us to visit some of the most beautiful places in the region.

We climbed on the rocks overlooking the sea and felt the soft Italian ocean breeze across our faces. During the warm summer time, they come here to hike and dive of the rocks for oysters.

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Later we visited a city called Scauri for the best gelato ever.

I’m not kidding. The shop, Lavezzi Gelato, has been around since the late 1800’s which means plenty of time to perfect their recipe. The current owner is a childhood acquaintance of Luleciano. When you walk in there are these giant golden tubs of gelato in all the flavors imaginable, and… wait for it… a chocolate fountain. I’m curently reflecting back on my beautiful chocolate lined cone filled with salted carmel, and yeah I don’t think it gets much better. I’m sad to say Italy has probably ruined ice cream for me, which isn’t the worst thing to complain about.

Thankful for amazing host families, my family, gelato, and of course Italy😄

A post shared by Izabel🌈 (@izzyantle) on Apr 26, 2017 at 1:15pm PDT

 

The day before we left our Italian family they held an annual BBQ for Italian independence day with all their friends, and invited us too. The day was spent sipping and eating homemade wine and cheese while listening to sound of Italian. I learned how to make artichokes with Ewa and to properly say “mamma mia!”.

Travelers are pretty seasoned to goodbyes, but I gotta say this one wasn’t easy.


Hi friends, family, and anyone else reading! We are currently in Elena, Bulgaria after a crazy busy few months of not-so-slow travel and I am just getting around to writing about it all :). Another post or two on Italy are in the works, and then on to Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Bulgaria. Thanks for reading! xx – Izzy

Foraging in Norway

Foraging in Norway, mushrooms in the forest

Foraging in Norway, Grass covered roofs of mountain cabins

On a warm Saturday morning, I woke up in one of the most magical places you can imagine. The sun rose slowly over the mountains, illuminating a thick blanket of fog and bringing light to our cozy Norwegian cabin.

The cabin had all the elements of a fairy tale cottage. From the wooden roof covered in grassy moss outside, and inside wool blankets and sheep skin draped on chairs for added warmth during cold norwegian winters.

After a lazy morning involving hot drinks, home cooked breakfast, and the warm glow of the fireplace we went outside to explore.

Foraging in Norway, A cozy wooden cabin in the fall

One of the most amazing parts of Norway is the appreciation Norwegians have for nature. Everyone and anyone is always out hiking, biking, walking, running, or even cross-country skiing on roller skates. Norwegians preserve their nature, and teach their children about its importance.

After only a few minutes of walking we came across a hilly slope, a creek, and a heap of blue berries to forage. What seems like such a simple thing was an amazing experience. Nowadays, even berry picking has been taken under the control of agriculture. You arrive at the farm and pick the berries. It’s ok, but there is something about the search that is so exciting. Being alone surrounded by trees and wildlife, stepping carefully over creeks, eating the berries right out of nature, and coming home with fingers and lips stained purple from the juices.

Foraging in Norway, wild blueberries in the mountains

After a while it is easy to get absorbed into the whole process. We spent hours collecting and eating as many berries as possible. At the end, I could barely feel my fingertips. It is the way our ancestors ate thousands of years ago; before agriculture, GMO’s, and supermarkets. 

Foraging in Norway, we made blueberry jam

We made jam

A week later we were lucky enough to be invited by our professional forager friends to go mushroom picking. They were very surprised when we told them that people don’t do this in the US. And it’s true, either everyone is too afraid to pick something and accidentally die, don’t know how, or don’t see the need to when there are mushrooms at the grocery store. Maybe a combination of the few. Occasionally my mom would pick mushrooms on hikes – but we were always afraid to actually eat them.

Foraging in Norway, mushrooms in the forest

The mushrooms we picked were no supermarket mushrooms. They tasted amazing, far better than any supermarket mushroom I’ve ever eaten. Again, we foraged for hours under the shade of giant green pines searching through leaves for a prize mushroom. Fall weather here has really been surprising us. It was very warm, with beams of sun peaking in between the branches of the trees. A perfect day for foraging. We learned a few tips and tricks as we went along, and had quite a few mushrooms between the eight of us in the end.

Foraging in Norway, girl stares at tall pine trees

I’ll finish this post with a quote about foraging from a book I recently finished and would definitely recommend to anyone who eats food or wants to learn about food, called The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

“I don’t want to have to forage every meal. Most people don’t want to learn to garden or hunt. But we can change the way we make and get our food so that it becomes food again—something that feeds our bodies and our souls. Imagine it: Every meal would connect us to the joy of living and the wonder of nature.”

 

as always happy travels xx -Izzy

 

PS: Here is a link to a cool video by Jessie Hoff of www.jessehoff.com also about foraging in Norway. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-Ujr6e97mY.

 

The Best 9 Exotic Fruits to Try at a Thai Market

Have you ever seen an exotic looking fruit and wondered: “what the heck is this creature?” “Is this even good?” “Should I buy it?”.  I have and I even wrote an article to answer all these questions for you!

After living in thailand for almost three months I have tried an assortment of interesting foods. As a fruit lover, fruit has been my favorite. If you get the chance to try some exotic fruits you definetly should, you might just fall in love! (Click here to read the article on www.wanderingeducators.com)

The Best 9 Exotic Fruits to Try at a Thai Market

If you have ever been to Thailand, you have probably seen, heard, or eaten a variety of wacky things. Hopefully fruit was one of them. If you haven’t tried any Thai fruits, you are simply missing out. Thailand has some of the best tropical fruits in the world…seriously, this is not debatable. They are cheap, delicioious, and fun to eat.

 The only place you can find these fruits is at a local market (here’s my guide to navigating a Thai market).What fruit should you pick? Ah, I’ve got you covered. Before you head out into the marketplace, read on.

Rambutan 

This one is easy to spot for its hairy pink shell. When you peel off the shell, there is a white sweet fruit inside. The taste is similar to a grape.

Rambutan. From The Best 9 Exotic Fruits to Try at a Thai Market

Click here to read more about rad exotic fruits! https://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/best-9-exotic-fruits-to-try-thai-market.html

Thanks for reading and happy travels! xx  -Iz

 

 

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

We are back in Thailand for a final week before flying out via Bangkok to Oslo on the 18th this month. Its been a pretty awesome almost five months on this side of the world, and while I’m sad to say goodbye to this beautiful country I’m even more excited for new adventures in Norway and Europe.

One of the things I’m going to miss the most about Thailand are the colorful markets I’ve grown very accustomed too. Our first month of being in Thailand we rarely purchased much from them,  because we didn’t know how or what to buy. If you have found yourself in a similar situation have no fear – I wrote an article for www.wanderingeducators.com about this! Click here… or after the excerpt below to read the full article.

A Guide to Navigating A Thai Open Air Market

In Asia, grocery stores are hard to find and always overpriced. For this reason, locals rarely frequent them and instead run to open air markets.

Open air markets are vibrant, fabulous places full of aromatic food, colorful clothing, fruits and vegetables, and anything else you can think of. The goods are cheap, and these markets can be found in every city across Thailand. 

While they are exciting, they can also be a bit intimidating to the first timer. But don’t worry – I’ve got some tips that will make your trip to the market a piece of cake. 

A vegetable vendor in northern Thailand sells an assortment of colorful greens, at an open air market

1.    Ask the place you are staying where the best local market is. Since nearly every hotel, homestay, or hostel is staffed by locals, there will definitely be someone who can point you in the right direction. We asked our airbnb host, and she took us along with her on her usual Saturday shopping trip.

 

Want to read the rest of the article?? https://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/guide-to-navigating-thai-open-air-market.html

Thanks for reading and happy travels xx  -Iz

5 Reasons Why Penang, Malaysia is a Foodies Paradise

1) A diverse palate: Penang island is a hub for diverse and exotic street food cuisine from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for Arabic, India, Malay, Chinese, Thai, or even Italian food you will not be disappointed here. While halal cusine dominates, because Malaysia is predominantly Muslim, plenty of non-halal restaurants and bars can be found in the area.

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A vendor cooks a Chinese noodle dish. This was taken right outside our hostel in the heart of Georgetown, Penang. 

2)  English Menus: In 1771 the British became involved in Malaysia for the first time when they tried to turn Penang island into a trading port. Malaysia remained a colony under British rule until their independence in 1946. Today the impact of colonization remains in some ways, including that all Malays speak English. Ordering food has never been easier. In China we would never have been able to ask a vendor what the best food on the menu is – unless of course we spoke Mandarin. Here in Penang you can eat delicious food without the hassle of struggling to communicate what you want.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

A juice vendor and his cart in Penang.

3) Little India: Little India is hands down my favorite place in Malaysia. The streets are lined with vendors and the delicious smells of curry and spices. Pop music from 2008 blasts out of stores selling sarees or copy written movies. What’s even better is that Little India is even more popular with the locals than it is with foreigners. My recommendations would be to try the Indian tea, a sweet creamy tea with condensed milk, vegetable somosas, and to find a vendor who is cooking his bread on site.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Colorful Indian food.

Our Indian food which was devoured mere seconds later.

4) It’s Cheap: For one of the most tourist frequented destinations in Malaysia, Penang is incredibly inexpensive – that is if you eat street food like the locals. My family was able to eat a full meal of dhal, chicken curry, a ton of naan, rice, and indian tea for just 1 USD each. A bowl of chinese soup usually costs just 1 or 2 USD.

Why Penang is a foodies paradise. Hand pulled noodle soup.

Hand pulled noodle soup

5) Clean and Fresh: Overall the standards of cleanliness and freshness I saw in Penang were very good. Vendors seemed very clean in their practices. Some Chinese restaurants even provided boiling water to sterilize our cups and silverware. I ate very adventurously at places no tourists seemed to be eating at and never got sick. The food is very fresh and meat and vegetables come from the morning markets.

Why Penang is a food paradise. Street vendor cooks chinese food at night.

All the ingredients necessary for a delicious Chinese meal. Seen in Georgetown, Penang.

Wandering Through Bangkok

Recently I wrote another article for Wanderingeducators.com about Bangkok, Thailand. It encompasses the sites, smells, and tastes that make the city one of a kind. Here is the beginning of the article.  (Read the full article here)

Wandering Through Bangkok, Thailand

To my left, tuk-tuks and moped drivers zoom by faster than I can say sawatdee ka (hello). To my right, the street is lined with hundreds of stalls of delicious smelling Thai food and handcrafted goods. Towering above my head are metal giants – skyscrapers. There is only one place I could be: Bangkok.

Nestled above the Bay of Thailand is Bangkok, the modern and vibrant, yet still traditional, capital city of Thailand. The city is a unique place where western influences and traditional Thai culture intertwine to create the tastes, sounds, smells, and sights that can only be found here.

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Read the rest here on wanderingeducators.com 

Gringos in Cancun City

Breaking News: Six gringos ventured out of the hotel zone into “dangerous” Cancun city and survived! Nah, we didn’t make it into the news… but I think we should have as so few people who visit Cancun stay in the city. We were warned by countless people of the dangers of the city, and countless more people were perplexed by why we would ever dream to stay outside the hotel zone.

People seem to think of Cancun as swarming with drug activity and violence. In reality, teenagers walk alone after dark, kids play soccer and climb on play play structures after sunset; at midnight, families and friends are still happily eating tacos from roadside stops. None of them seem at all concerned about all “danger” that they have to live with everyday. You are so much more likely to get your wallet stolen on the hotel strip while under the influence, than you ever would just walking through Mexican neighborhoods.  A shop owner who we talked to agreed that there are areas where drug activity and crime is greater, no different than Denver, LA, New York or any big city. If you end up somewhere that feels unsafe, trust your instincts and leave.

Upon arrival, my family got of the bus at the station in central Cancun. We had to walk for hours and by the time we arrived to our Airbnb in south Cancun it was almost eleven o’clock. We did not feel unsafe at all walking in the dark, or unsafe fitting six people in a tiny taxi while chatting with our seventy year old driver who thought we were hilarious. We did not feel unsafe getting hamburguesas, tortas,  and tacos from a family business on the side of the road. We did not feel unsafe after getting on the wrong bus home from the beach, and arriving in a neighborhood miles away from where we needed to be. After getting off the bus lost, confused, and unsure of how we would get home, we were greeted by a happy group of locals who were talking, laughing,making and eating empanadas (which were amazing by the way and only a 50 cents). It felt like we were a part of the community.

The hotel zone is great for some people. Its easy, all inclusive, and very American. If you are coming to Mexico primarily for the beach and margaritas, it’s perfect for you. Have a blast! The beach is wonderful. On the other hand, if you came to Mexico to experience the beach and culture, don’t stay in the hotel zone. Rent an airbnb casa or couch surf! You will save a ton of money, learn some Spanish, and stay away from all of the crowds and tourist traps of the hotel strip. However you choose to travel, have fun and stay safe.

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Getting sandwiches while walking home from this family business

Mexico: Tips to Eating on the Streets

 

I have decided that there is no better way to grab a quick pick-me-up than too be handed steaming, hot, delicious tamales out of the back of an old man’s pickup truck. Although I’m only about 13 days into three months of living in the Yucatan, Mexico but I compiled a list of tips n’ tricks for buying off the street food.

  1. Don’t necessarily rush to the most crowded stands as some of the less popular ones have the most delicious food.
  2. Do ask how much it costs first (¿Cuánto?: Most street food is cheep but if you don’t like the price you can always walk away.
  3. Do tip: Mexican wages are low and for many their street business is their only income, a couple pesos is very much appreciated. With that said, if you are unsatisfied with the food don’t feel obligated to tip.
  4. Do try new things: Many people, like the old man I mentioned in the intro, have made a business out of selling food out of their cars. They shout out in Spanish their product so you probably won’t know what they are saying, I recommend you just buy one of whatever they are selling because it is usually really good.
  5. Make sure you have cash (especially coins and small bills): Asking for change can be confusing and no one takes credit cards.
  6. Do count your change: Under-changing to tourists is a very common scandal
  7. Frequent vendors you like: this way they begin to recognize you, and can engage in some small talk and practice your Spanish speaking skills.
  8. Watch the locals: Locals obviously know best what’s good so watch and listen to what they order and how they order.
  9. If someone offers to sell you something you don’t want (which happens often) just wave them off and don’t make eye contact. It seems rude, but it’s the way they know you are not interested.
  10. Say thank you (Gracias!): Simple and much appreciated

Thanks so much for reading! -Iz