Oktoberfest in Connecticut

Getting all my friends together for a night is difficult. We all work in media so our schedules are very unpredictable. Luckily this Friday night in September all of our schedules aligned for a beautiful fall evening. I decided to make Oktoberfest style food for everyone, because it’s a crowd-pleaser and everything I made was so easy and ready in a flash.pretzel-and-cheese

The menu included a big Bavarian pretzel (along with little pretzel nuggets) with beer cheese spread and mustard, bratwursts marinaded in German beer and then grilled, healthy apple slaw and to end the night with s’mores by the fire.

the-fest

Most of this German-fest was brought to by Stew Leonard’s grocery store. We love going there because they have local produce and it isn’t your typical grocery store with aisles. It takes you on maze through the store with fun farm animals all around that sing! If you’re ever in the CT or NY area and pass by one, check it out.

We got 2 lbs of brats to put in the crock pot to bathe in the beer. All you need is your brats, a bottle of German beer and one onion sliced up. Dump it all in the crock pot abratsnd turn it on low for 4 hours. I poked holes in the brats with a fork to make sure all the beer got in there.

Next I made the apple slaw. I used Skinnytaste’s Gina Homolka’s recipe for this one. I added about a cup of pea shoots (I just had some off hand) and I didn’t make my own poppyseed dressing. I didn’t think I could find another use for the poppyseeds so I just bought a fat-free one for $2 (and also – who’s got time for that??). For this recipe having a food processor is so helpful! You also need a spiralizer for the apple. I realize this is a specialty tool but if you don’t have one they’re worth the investment. I love mine! I make a lot of healthy veggie noodles with it and this apple slaw! You can find affordable hand spiralizers or if you want to splurge a little try the Williams Sonoma one I have in my kitchen. All you have to do is chop up 2 cups of green cabbage, two cups of red cabbage, spiralize the apple, toss in the pea shoots and top it with dressing. And you’re done! That was so easy. I put the dressing on a few hours before everyone arrived. Because it’s cabbage it won’t get soggy like regular lettuce. It will also let the flavors marinate a little. Here’s the recipe below (with instructions for the poppyseed dressing if you want to try it out):

apple-slaw

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 granny smith apples, stem removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp golden balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Read for directions for dressing

Next is the best part – beer cheese dip! You also need a food processor for this (thanks for the best Christmas present ever, Mom!) recipe. All you need to do is put everything in the food processor (except for the beer), start to blend the ingredients and stream the beer into the hole of the food processor, then beer cheese complete! Just make sure to refrigerate it for about an hour before serving. All that’s left to do is heat up your pretzels in the oven so they’re warm and soft. Here’s the beer cheese recipe –

beer-cheese

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
¾ cup German beer (or non-alcoholic beer if you don’t drink or are pregnant!)

 

Everyone arrived including my friend’s 9 month old little boy Brady! Such a cutie. We ate all the German delights and enjoyed some German beers right from Europe and some an hour away in CT. It was so nice to enjoy everyone’s company outside of a wedding (even though those are always fun, too). We ended the night by the fire with s’mores as desert. It was such a great evening with friends. I hope we get to do it again soon!

bon-fire

Did you have an Oktoberfest celebration? Do you have a favorite German beer? Let me know! This German would love to hear about it.

xoxo,

Erika

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Lynn Love with Travel: 8 Favorite Cities

This was one hard list to make. I’ve traveled to a lot of different cities in a lot of different countries but these are the ones that I cannot stop thinking about and reliving. Some I am lucky enough to pick up and go for the weekend. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do with my free time. Exploring a city’s culture and history is so exciting to me. Travel makes my life whole. 

8) Heidelberg

Being German I’ve always wanted to visit Germany. During our trip we went to Kaiserslautern, the Pfalz region of Germany (for wine tasting of course!), Munich and spent a day in Heidelberg. Even though we spent the least among of time in Heidelberg, it was what I pictured Germany would look like. We had authentic German food (I had my first ever schnitzel!) and beer. We walked around the city and went up to the hill to see the ruins of Heidelberg Castle. We got champagne flavored gummy bears (a German delicacy) in a candy store downtown and authentic German pretzels! It was the perfect German day, and I would love to return.

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Day in Heidelberg! #germany #eurotrip2014

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7) Montreal

Didn’t realize we lived 4 hours from Montreal. Totally a doable road trip or in our case the destination for my birthday celebration. I didn’t really know what to expect in my first trip to the Great White North, but it was fantastic! Getting around Montreal is a breeze with the city bike share and the bike paths that are everywhere. The view from Mount Royal Park is breath-taking and was a beautiful walk to the top in the Fall with all the foliage. Montreal also has their own bagels, different from New York’s but just as good. Oh and POUTINE! It’s French fries, gravy and cheese curds… how could that be bad? We found this great gastro by our hotel called NYKS that had amazing food and atmosphere. For my birthday, Eric took me to Au Pied De Cochon (which means foot of the pig) that is a very meat-centric restaurant, and extremely delicious. They cook every part of the pig, and you can even order the head! We did not do that… but a table near us did. I would definitely try it if given the chance. It was difficult getting a reservation because this is a really popular restaurant, but going on a Wednesday evening definitely helped and the fact we called a month in advance! It was the perfect birthday dinner. Really enjoyed our neighbors in the North and hope to make the 4-hour ride again soon!

6) Boston

I’m a Massachusetts girl. Of course I love Boston! I always say I’ve never had a bad time in Boston – and it’s true! Im a huge Red Sox fan so I’ve been to Fenway Park at least once a year since I was 12 to see the Sox hopefully win. Eric and I had our first weekend adventure away in Boston as part of Christmas 2012. We saw the Nutcracker and went to one of Barbara Lynch’s amazing restaurants, No. 9 Park. I love the history of Boston like Paul Revere’s home or the Bunker Hill monument or even the first tavern established in America. Boston is a beer loving town – duh Sam Adams is there! Even though I grew up outside the city, after I moved to California I’ve had a bigger sense of pride for the city especially when people in college used to just refer to me as “Erika from Boston.” Like David Ortiz historically said – this is our f*ckin’ city. Damn right it is Big Papi, and it will always be one of my favorites.

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5) Philadelphia

I am somewhat new to Philadelphia. Saw Rocky a bunch of times when I was younger, stopped off at Independence Hall once on the way to Washington DC for a 7th grade field trip – but I never really experienced Philly as I had other cities. After meeting Eric who is a Temple alumnus and grew up outside the city, he took me to Philadelphia for the first time. He was sweet taking me around the touristy/historical parts of the city that I didn’t remember from 7th grade. We’ve been back dozens of times since and I have to say Philadelphia is such a great city. I would love to live there someday. Phillies games are fun and while Citizens Bank Park is no Fenway… it’s definitely cheaper, they have better food and better beer! I love how Philly has that big city feel of New York but you don’t feel overcrowded like I feel when I’m in NYC. Philly is home to one of my favorite art museums – The Barnes Foundation. It’s so interesting to see someone’s very extensive, personal collection of art hung exactly as it was in the Barnes’ home. The architecture in Philly is also so appealing. One of my favorite streets is Elfreth’s Alley. I love the old row homes and would love to live in one of those someday. Philadelphia is the only city that’s home to two Top Chefs, Nick Elmi and Kevin Sbraga. I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at both of their restaurants, and if you have the opportunity to as well – do not hesitate. Philly also has some of my favorite coffee – La Colombe! They have a draft latte that is to die for and their cappuccino is second to none. Basically, Philadelphia is an amazing city and it’s home to the person I love the most!

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I ❤️ you, Philly. #philadelphia #imallthewayup

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4) Nice

The beauty of this city’s seascape alone will make anyone fall in love, but there are so many other treasures about the 3rd biggest city in France that makes this one of my favorites. Nice is very close to the Italian boarder, so its food has both French and Italian influences giving you the best of both worlds. Eric and I stumbled upon an amazing café hidden on a side street downtown that pulls off the French/Italian blend perfectly. We got an Airbnb right in the hustle and bustle of the city with a farmers market right outside our door, shops and restaurants just steps away and across the street from the ocean! Could not have asked for more. We climbed up to Castle Nice and saw gorgeous views of the city. I cannot wait to go back to this place that made us feel so much at home.

3) Paris

I always say Paris is prettier when it rains – if you’ve ever been you would see what I mean. The streets gleam and the colors of the city are enhanced with the grey/white buildings that line the sidewalks. Paris is a city for artists, foodies and people in love. I’ve been lucky enough to visit the city twice, and it amazed me both times. The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower I was in awe of how gigantic it is and appreciated the amount of time it might have taken to make this iconic structure. The second time I visited the Eiffel Tower I went all the way to the top! The views of the city are breathtakingly beautiful and besides being in a plane I’ve never been so high. I’ve been to the Louvre and I’ve seen priceless works of art and I’ve been to the Musee d’Orsay and was completely inspired by their impressionist wing. I’ve eaten some of the best food in my life from Joel Robuchon‘s restaurant in the district of Saint Germain des Pres to a small café named La Poulette that had the best steak frites I’ve ever had. Paris is a city that makes you feel welcome (despite rumors they hate Americans) and inspired. Each time I left I dreamt of moving there for 6 months and take cooking classes to open my own café. Paris dares you to dream big and love big.

2) Barcelona

Our trip to Barcelona was actually an afterthought. We were traveling to Germany and wanted to take advantage of another country being so close. We originally planned on going to Prague (which I still want to visit), but changed our minds at the last minute and decided to fly to Barcelona after Munich. I am so glad we made that decision. Barcelona is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s mix of beauty, being seaside and having a rich downtown culture reminded me a lot of San Francisco. Eric and I would just walk around Barcelona not really in search of anything, just exploring. We saw all the Gaudi architecture, explored ramblas, ate tapas and of course sangria! We also had authentic paella on the pier right next to the ocean. Doesn’t get better than that! We stayed in the Poblenou district directly next to the Torre Agabr. It was right outside our window! We had a fantastic Spanish meal one evening in our neighborhood at a small restaurant called Recasens. We had Spanish cheeses, meats, wine and dessert. One of the best meals I’ve ever had. I’d love to return to this city soon and spend more than three days like we had. I love the Spanish culture of this city and understand when people tell me they would drop everything and move here. I would, too!

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Beautiful #barcelona #spain #eurotrip2014 #parcgüell

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1) San Francisco 

San Francisco has changed a lot since I first moved there in 2006. The tech world has invaded and it is certainly becoming the New York City of the West. It’s changed in so many ways but every time I return, it still feels like home to me. San Francisco will never lose it’s number one slot for me because this is the city I found myself. All my young life my biggest dream was to move to California and never return. When I was accepted to the University of San Francisco, my dream came true. San Francisco is very much a city that is so accepting of people from all walks of life. Leaving high school I felt very much like an outsider, like I was different from everyone else – so San Francisco was the perfect place for me not to worry about being myself. I found my passions in San Francisco, my best friends and learned what Tony Bennett was singing about. Even though my career took me back to New England, I will always consider San Francisco my home. Whenever I land at SFO and get off the plane, a sense of relief flows over me that I’m finally home.

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Wooo!

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Hope you enjoyed this list of my favorite cities. I know there are two cities from France but I couldn’t resist! There are still some cities I haven’t been to that I want to go to like New Orleans, Austin, Seattle, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and Prague. I would love to revisit some cities I wasn’t in long enough for it to make this list like Dublin and London. Hopefully some day soon! What are some of your favorite cities? Are you in love with some of mine as well? I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line, world travelers!

xoxo,

Erika

20 Random Facts

Hi everyone my name is Erika, welcome to my blog! In an attempt to introduce myself, here are 20 random facts about me. This will also give you an idea of what kind of things you should expect when you come visit my blog.20 Things

  1. I am a New England girl. I grew up in Massachusetts and I currently live in Connecticut for work but I spent a lot of time in California. Living in San Francisco and having family in So Cal. My style and personality is influenced by both. I’m definitely bi-coastal.
  2. Even though I grew up in MA, I don’t have the accent. Sorry to disappoint!
  3. I love, love, love to travel! I’ve been to a lot of major cities domestically and internationally. Here’s a little list: Boston (duh), NYC, Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angels, Montreal, Paris, Dublin, London, Munich, Barcelona and Milan (coming soon!) just to name a few. I would love to take an island vacation one day like St. Martin, the Caribbean or Turks and Cacaos.IMG_1910
  4. One of my favorite things to do is cook. I’ve taken cooking classes for fun to learn more techniques and I try a lot of different kinds of recipes. My boyfriend reaps the benefits being my guinea pig.
  5. I mentioned above I have a boyfriend. His name is Eric. Yes, we’re Eric and Erika. Super cute! Eric is my best friend and the most important thing to me. We do everything together including all our traveling adventures. We love taking small weekend trips to Philly or NYC visiting friends and family. We’ve been together almost 4 years now.FullSizeRender
  6. I love fashion. My closet is jammed PACKED full of everything and anything. My style is pretty preppy but I can get glam when I want to. Some of my go-to retailers are Anthropologie (love their home goods as well), J Crew, Vineyard Vines and anything Lilly Pulitzer. I also love shopping at smaller, unknown designer boutiques – one of my favorites being Mahi Gold based in Chatham, MA.
  7. I am a big sports fan. Judging by the above content that might sound surprising but it’s true! I am a big Red Sox fan. I also love watching golf, tennis and football (or soccer as only Americans call it).
  8. I am a media professional but I was a Pre-Law/Politics major at the University of San Francisco (Go Dons!).
  9. I did ballet for a very long time. Started when I was 5 and took classes through college. I would love to learn Pointe (never got the chance) but its been tough trying to find adult beginner Pointe classes. Sigh.
  10. Strange but true – I hate peanut butter. Yes, I know. I want to like it because it’s a great healthy snack, but the taste and the texture… yuck! The worst is when I smell it on someone’s breath. Not good. (Other condiments I don’t like: mayo, ketchup, blue cheese dressing)
  11. … on the opposite end of that I love cheese! All kinds. I love making cheese plates for girls’ night at my house. I love all the different combinations and how rustic they look when they’re complete.
  12. My middle name is Lynn. So I’m Erika Lynn!
  13. I love music. I’ve been to so many concerts it’s hard to count. My favorite is Indie/Alt Rock, but in high school I loved heavy metal! I still listen to it at the gym sometimes. One of my favorite bands is the Decemberists. I also dabble with the guitar and piano but I’m definitely not ready for any open mic nights… yet!
  14. I didn’t like coffee until a couple of years ago. Now I look forward to a nice French press or pour over at home. It’s so relaxing. I take mine black! Two of my favorite brands are La Colombe (based in Philly) and Blue Bottle (based in San Francisco).IMG_3628
  15. I really like TV and movies. I’m more into TV at the moment just because of all the amazing shows and performances that are out there. Some of my favorites include Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Mr. Robot, Silicon Valley, John Oliver… and the list goes on and on.
  16. I have zero tattoos and my only piercing I have is one on both my ears. Yawn… I know.
  17. I try to stay fit so I’ve been ramping it up going 5 days per week at the gym. I do a lot of yoga and spinning. I really don’t like running so spinning is a good option (although I do run 2 miles twice a week)
  18. I am definitely a dog person! Eric and I don’t have one yet but we love poodles and Logottos. Obviously soft and fluffy is what we’re going for in a dog.
  19. My favorite flower is a hydrangea. The colors I love. It represents one of my favorite places in the whole world Cape Cod (I used to live there and basically grew up there). IMG_3127
  20. I work in TV but my passion is writing. I would love to work for a newspaper again. But since I don’t I thought this blog would be a great way for me to continue writing.

I’d love to get to know you too! Tell me a random fact about you!

xoxo, Erika