Category Archives: Food/Beverages

Best Places to Study French in France

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Check out my latest feature on One World 365, with a sneak peak below!


 

As 2015 nears the end, I cannot help but think about one of my most exciting life adventures ahead. In January, I will be living in the heart of Paris, France as part of a language and culture immersion in my International MBA Program at the University of South Carolina Moore School of Business!

Preparing for the adventure, I have researched the best places to study French in France, which I have shared below. I look forward to hearing any other ideas from you and adding insights when I live in France this winter!

Paris: As the most famous, cosmopolitan, trend-setting, and romantic city in France, you will fall in love with Paris while studying French. Paris provides you with the perfect combination of history, art, fashion, food, politics, and culture to keep you engaged and learning every minute of every day.

My first trip to Paris, August 2011

My first trip to Paris, August 2011

Nice: The French Riviera provides some of the most scenic views in France, with beautiful beaches along the Mediterranean coast. You can easily travel to other French Riviera cities, including St. Tropez and Cannes. Nice is one of France’s most visited cities, attracting four million tourists per year.

My trip to Nice, August 2011

My trip to Nice, August 2011

Lyon: Famous for being the gastronomic capital of France and the world, Lyon provides great opportunities for students to learn about French cuisine. Lyon is also one of the business capitals of France, providing excellent internship opportunities for students.

Lyon Bridge, August 2011

Lyon Bridge, August 2011

Aix-en-Provence: With a central location, Aix-en-Provence is popular for students looking to be close to the Alps, the coast, and Mediterranean countries. Aix-En-Provence was once a European Capital of Culture, with several museums, theaters, and rugby clubs to entertain the locals and tourists.

French musician in Aix-en-Provence

French musician in Aix-en-Provence

I have also written more details about Rennes, Bordeaux, and Grenoble, which I look forward to visiting when I study in Paris! Read my full article on OneWorld365.

Where else do you recommend that students go to learn French in France? Feel free to leave your ideas and comments below.

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What Makes the Fall Season So Special in the United States?

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Meeting people from around the world, I have noticed that they are often surprised by how much Americans love the fall season. To many people (at least in the northern hemisphere), fall means the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In the United States, fall is arguably the best season of the year. Why?

1. Throughout the fall season, tree leaves change colors for some of the most beautiful natural views of the year. Along with the brightly colored trees, the air is crisp and sweet, making it very inviting for you to go outside and explore.

Source: Picstar

Source: Picstar

2. Fall flavors are warm and comforting. In the United States, you will find pumpkin-flavored everything. Pumpkin pie is typically a family favorite, but you will find pumpkin-flavored coffee, pastries, and more! Apple flavor is also popular. The flavors of Thanksgiving are some of the most memorable, including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

3. Fall activities bring your family and friends together. Apple picking is a great way to get outside with your loved ones and pick apples that you can eat right off the tree or use in recipes, such as apple crisp or apple pie. Common in the Midwest and Northeastern United States is visiting cider mills, which serve fresh apple cider, homemade donuts and pastries. They also often have farm animals and outdoor activities for you to enjoy while eating your treats. Carving pumpkins is another fall favorite, as you can make a jack-o-lantern to decorate your porch and you can bake the pumpkin seeds for a nice snack!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

4. Halloween (October 31 every year) provides the perfect opportunity to disguise yourself as your favorite character or silly costume that is guaranteed to make your loved ones laugh. Along with wearing costumes, you can eat your favorite candies with little remorse, visit haunted houses, experience hayrides, and go to Halloween parties. Children also have the opportunity to go trick-or-treating, where they visit their neighbors and ask for candy while dressed up in adorable costumes.

One of my favorite personal pumpkin carvings!

One of my favorite Halloween pumpkin carvings!

5. American football, played in the fall, has more spirit than any other sport in the United States. You will see football spirit at all levels, from middle and high school to college to professional football. Americans enjoy tailgating before football games, which involves eating barbeque food, drinking beer, playing games such as cornhole, and cheering for your favorite team. The spirit exists every weekend and has created tremendous rivalries across the United States. I have had an interesting experience with football having moved throughout the Midwest and now to the Southern United States – my loyalties have shifted, but I will always root for my alma mater (University of Michigan) first!

University of Michigan Football Stadium - holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

University of Michigan Football Stadium – holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

I hope this gives you a taste of all the special qualities of fall in the United States. Just writing about it makes me grateful that fall is here. I would be grateful to hear why fall is (or is not) your favorite season and how it compares to other seasons throughout the world!

Try the World – From the Comfort of Your Own Kitchen!

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How many of you have heard of Plated, Try the World, and Home Chef? For those of us with limited time and an interest in learning new recipes from around the world, these companies provide great opportunities for us. Over the past couple months, I have enjoyed being able to “try the world” by purchasing ingredient kits or prepared meals online. While they may seem expensive and risky at first, they all have promotional rates. I encourage you try them to spice up your kitchen routine!

My experience began with a trial of Plated (fresh ingredients and recipes sent to my door), including the following:

  • Beef and Summer Squash Empanadas with a Tomato, Pesto, and Basil Salad: This absolutely delicious meal and easy-to-make recipe was a great way for me to get a taste of Latin America. All ingredients were sent to my door, and I just had to chop the vegetables, prepare the empanada dough, and bake the empanadas for 30 minutes. The only part I did not like was the tomatoes were under-ripe, which made the tomato salad not as flavorful as normal.
  • Garlicky Chicken with Capers, Anchovy, and Caramelized Summer Squash: I was impressed by the flavors in this meal which gave me a taste of Italy. Prep time took 20 minutes and cooking time took 20 minutes. Of all the Plated recipes I have tried, this was the easiest to prepare and had the most flavor. Sounds like an ideal cooking experience, right?

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  • Grilled Pork and Peach Skewers with Maple, Peach Mostarda, and Arugula: This recipe took the most prep time (40 minutes), but it was a great way to get a taste of the tropics. I could pretend I was in Hawaii again! I enjoyed the flavors, but would recommend cooking this recipe when you have leisurely time to actually enjoy the cooking process.

Then, on somewhat of a whim, and inspired by my multinational enterprise management class, I decided to Try the World. This was very expensive, but the trial made it affordable and I would recommend that you at least experience the trial!

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  • Taste of Japan: Uncharted territory in my personal travel map, Japan has always sparked my interest and I was eager to try Japanese flavors. I received an adorable box, which reminded me of a larger version of a Tiffany box, full of Japanese goodies. The box included Aoi Tea, Otafuku Foods kit (omelette-like pancake with variety of savory toppings), Morinaga (milk caramels), Takaokaya (seaweed snack), Akagi (soba noodles), Kasugai (gummy candies), and Wadakan (umami ponzu sauce). I was most curious to try the Takaokaya, as I had never tried seaweed as a snack before. The texture was a bit chewy, but the salty flavor was delicious. Also, as a kid at heart, I went straight for the Kasugai gummy candies, which had a delicious peach flavor. The box also included recommendations for how to use the ingredients, including hosting a tea party and having a romantic dinner date. I look forward trying the recipes and planning a Japanese dinner date.

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  • Taste of Paris: My second “Tiffany box” (lucky girl :)?), came with treats from France: Palais Des Thes (fine tea), La Mere Poulard (cookies), Domaine Des Vignes (mustard), Le Sunier De Camargue (finishing salt), La Maison Peltier (artisan honey), Maison D’Armoine (caramels), and Charles Antona (jam). The box also included a Paris culture guide, explaining the cultural background of each of the items in the box, how to prepare French meals, a recommendation of French cultural landmarks, French poetry and even a recommended French movie and music playlist! In my opinion, there is no better music for cooking than French music, so how perfect that they have a playlist prepared for you. It is very exciting to try the flavors of France again before living in Paris this winter. I particularly enjoy the Domaine Des Vignes mustard, which pairs well with a deli sandwich or as a dipping sauce for pretzels. La Mere Poulard cookies are also perfect when I have a sweet tooth, but am not looking for an overwhelmingly sweet taste. I may be a little biased too, because they are from Brittany, France, which is the origin of my first name! As I study French, I have enjoyed listening to French music. I also look forward to watching some French movies!

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Most recently, I decided to try Home Chef, to compare it to Plated. It was interested to read A Common Connoisseur‘s insights, who described Home Chef as a more affordable option, with more meal selections and lower calories options. I will receive my order next Wednesday. I look forward to trying the Apple Cider Brined Salmon and Parisian Bistro Steak. If you are interested, I will be sure to share my insights on this option as well!

After trying the world in my kitchen, I have realized that there are great benefits to trying these options:

Experience new flavors from different parts of the world: If you cannot travel on a regular basis, what better way to get a traveler experience than through food! And you can practice cooking at the same time.

Learn how to combine spices and different food groups: I find it easy to cook, but difficult to know which spices and flavors work well with different meats and sides. I think that is the difference between a cook and a chef. Ingredients sent to our door help us learn more about ingredient combinations.

Save time: Finally, these meals options make it possible and relatively affordable for us to have grocery shopping and meal planning done for us. We can focus our time on the actual meal preparation and enjoyment with our loved ones!

Fun date idea: I have enjoyed cooking these recipes with my boyfriend. We have both been learning to cook together, and this makes it fun to try new flavors and meal ideas.

Live in the present: Cooking requires us to be focused. With all the distractions out there, it is important for us to recenter and live in the moment. Enjoy great scents and tastes in the process!

I hope that you take the opportunity to try the world with all the exciting new meal preparation options. Happy cooking!

Tea Inspiration

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Did you ever think you could learn a lesson from drinking tea? If you’re like me, your first thought is probably “no.” Recently, though, I have learned that tea is inspiring.

Source: Not On The High Street

Source: Not On The High Street

As the second most consumed beverage in the world (after water), there must be something more to tea than quenching our thirst or soothing our sore throats. Throughout the world, many people find that tea soothes the soul and provides wisdom in our daily lives. A couple weeks ago, I learned from Gloria Kemer at the Emerald Necklace Inn & Tea Room in Cleveland, Ohio that tea reminds us to slow down and appreciate the moment. When I think about, how often am I eating “on the go” or getting a coffee “on the go”? The truth is, more often than not, I am in a rush, “on the go,” and forgetting the importance of living in the present and appreciating each day as it comes. With a precious antique cup and warm beverage, tea helps us pause for a moment in the day and simply enjoy.

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Over the weekend, I attended a Mother’s Day Tea with my mom and grandma at Victorian Rose Tea House and La Premier Catering in Rochester, Michigan. The tea house owner, Loretta, has an inviting historical home with family heirlooms that makes you feel like you’re traveling to Europe. She and her employees greeted my family with freshly brewed pomegranate tea, homemade papaya scones, fresh fruit salad, tastes of bruschetta and goat cheese, deviled eggs, and Hula pie. Each course was served on antique china with the perfect portion to help us enjoy each morsel. Similar to my experience with Gloria Klemer, I was reminded to slow down and this time, embrace the day with my family.

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I am now challenging myself, and inspirNational readers, to drink tea regularly and pause in our fast-paced daily lives. By spending time relaxing and drinking tea, we are giving ourselves the gift of a refreshed mind, new ideas, quality time with our loved ones, and the rejuvenation necessary to live an inspirNational life.

As an interesting side note, learn more about tea etiquette throughout the world below, so you can spread the tea inspiration no matter where you are living or traveling!

Source: IMGFave

Source: IMGFave

What’s the Most Delicious Dish You’ve Eaten Abroad?

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Last week, Pink Pangea asked followers to share the most delicious dishes we have eaten abroad.

With all the unique cuisines I have tried in the countries I have visited in Europe, South America, and North America, it was difficult for me to choose just one. For the purpose of answering the question, I said that my favorite (or most unique) dish I have tried is croquetas de jamon from Salamanca, Spain.  I first tried them at my host mom’s home while studying abroad in Salamanca. My host mom, Capilla, made croquetas with bechamel, ham, and cheese. They were savory and comforting, which was a wonderful feeling for trying a new food in a foreign place. I will never forget croquetas and seek them out at restaurants back home in the U.S., although they are difficult to find!

Croquetas de jamon. Source: recetax.com

Croquetas de jamon. Source: recetax.com

Given that many of us eat three meals per day, food becomes a significant part of our travel experience. With every bite, we learn more about our destination’s culture, traditions, and history. I look forward to continue trying different foods throughout the world in order to add to my list of favorite delicious dishes.

What’s the most delicious dish you’ve eaten abroad?

Favorite Ways to Spend Fall in Cleveland

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Fall is one of the best ways to experience any Midwestern United States city, especially Cleveland. Leaves are changing colors. Moderate temperatures mean you can spend time outside with a cool breeze and a light jacket. Three exciting sports seasons overlap: the end of baseball season, the heart of football season, and the beginning of basketball season. Cider and donuts are available at apple orchards, grocery stores, and cider mills (which I have quickly learned is a “Michigan thing.”) Pumpkin and apple flavors cover our plates. And some may say, the highlights are celebrating  Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Edgewater Park View of Downtown Cleveland

Edgewater Park View of Downtown Cleveland

Now that I have spent two falls in Cleveland, I have compiled a list of some of my favorite activities to do in and around Cleveland in the fall:

  • Go on a Segway Tour of Downtown Cleveland. This is a fun way to learn about Cleveland’s architecture and history while riding a segway.
  • Tailgate a Browns game. The Muni Lot has some of the craziest tailgates I have ever seen, with kegs and grills coming out of pick-up trucks and dance parties in school buses. Cleveland sports fans are some of the most spirited fans- and the spirit is contagious! Don’t tell my Detroit roots that I am slowly cheering for Cleveland now that I live downtown and am surrounded by all the major sports stadiums!
Browns Season Opener Tailgate

Browns Season Opener Tailgate

  • Shop for fall produce at West Side Market. The late harvest lends some of the best local produce of the year. The market makes it fun for you to find the ingredients for your favorite fall recipes and you can buy decorative gourds or pumpkins for carving festivities!
  • Go hiking through the Cleveland Metroparks or parks in the suburbs. I love to jog through Edgewater Park and have enjoyed hiking through Liberty Park near Aurora, Ohio.
Hiking through Liberty Park

Hiking through Liberty Park

  • Need more than hiking? Another great way to be in nature during the fall is to volunteer at local parks. During my company’s fall retreat, we spent an afternoon volunteering at a park clean-up with the Western Reserve  Historical Society and Thriving Communities Institute in the Buckeye Neighborhood.
  • Dress up in a Halloween costume and go dancing in the Warehouse District. Each year the best venues vary, but the regular favorites tend to be Velvet Dog, Barley House, and Dive Bar. Dancing is always fun, but there’s nothing better than being silly while in disguise and watching others do the same.
  • Go on a brewery tour at Great Lakes Brewery. I have toured the brewery with family and friends four times throughout the year, and I have decided that fall is my favorite time, particularly when the brewery is making Christmas Ale. The aura of cinnamon spice is delicious and makes the brewery experience come to life.
  • On the topic of beer, try pumpkin ales at the breweries on West 25th in Ohio City, especially during Cleveland Beer Week in October. I was not a beer fan until I moved to Cleveland, but the pumpkin ales at Nano Brew, Town Hall, Market Garden, and Bier Market quickly made that change.
  • Pick apples at Eddy’s Fruit Farm and explore the grounds of Patterson Fruit Farm. For the city dwellers, this is a great escape from the busy city life and helps you appreciate the scenery in Ohio’s countryside.
  • Tour Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, which was the home of F.A. Sieberling, who created The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in 1898. The home was built between 1912-1915 and was one of the finest examples of the American Country Estate Movement. It includes five historic buildings and eight historic gardens on 70 acres. Learn more about the history of the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens here.
Touring the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

Touring the Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens

  • Go wine tasting at the vineyards of Geneva on the Lake. It is an hour outside of Downtown Cleveland, but totally worth the drive. Each winery has its own unique personality and the hosts will teach you about wine production and what types of wine will be best for your palate.
Geneva on the Lake

Geneva on the Lake

  • Take your bike to Peninsula, Ohio to ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train out to your distance of choice and bike back on the towpath past Szlay’s farm shop for hot butter-dipped corn. You could also run through the Maize Maze and wrap up the trip with a Winking Lizard beer when you get back to Peninsula! [Thank you to one of my favorite Clevelanders, Victoria Lowery, for the idea!]

Every weekend I learn about new exciting events and opportunities in and around Cleveland. Clevelanders, please comment with any of your favorite events that I should add to the list. Everyone, let me know if you would ever like to visit Cleveland. I would be happy to give you a tour.

Hopefully I have captured something interesting for everyone in Cleveland, whether you’re an adventurer, a sports enthusiast, a beer fan, a nature lover, a dancer, or a historian. Making the most of any of these experiences relates to the inspirNational mindset, which I aspire to have and encourage others (no matter where you live or travel!) to have every day. Learn more about the inspirNational mindset in my post, How to Live Like a Traveler Every Day.

Best Coffees to Celebrate International Coffee Day

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In honor of International Coffee Day, here is a list of some of my favorite coffees throughout the world.

  1. Cafe Britt in Costa Rica: I may be biased because my name is in the title of the coffee shop :), but I became so much more appreciative of the intricacies of coffee production after touring Cafe Britt and tasting the coffee varieties last spring. I learned the importance of the amber color of coffee, which indicates freshness. I recommend you experience the Cafe Britt coffee tour and try the Tarrazu and Tres Rios varieties, in addition to the organic and fair trade brands. Also, if you can prepare yourself for a new addiction, try the chocolate-covered coffee beans while there!

    Café Britt Coffee Tour

    Café Britt Coffee Tour

  2. Mountain Thunder Kona Coffee in the Big Island of Hawaii: Kona Coffee has a unique flavor (and in my opinion, stronger than others) that can’t be matched because of its production in volcanic terrain. I enjoyed learning about Mountain Thunder coffee production and also appreciated the teas available there. Whether you are a coffee or tea fan,  I highly recommend sampling the organic varieties!
  3. Café au lait in France: I had some of the best coffee with the prettiest designs (made with milk) while touring the countryside of France. I’m not sure what was better, the coffee or the fresh pastries on the side? I don’t think I’ve found a better breakfast pair than a chocolate-filled croissant and café au lait. I was also fascinated by the coffee machines in France (mind you this was in 2011 and now we have more modern coffee appliances in the U.S.). One day I would love to learn how to make café au lait like the French.
  4. Café con leche from Chocolatería Valor in Salamanca, Spain: I first fell in love with coffee while studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain. I became accustomed to drinking café con leche (the Spanish version of café au lait) while relaxing, studying, or blogging during my afternoons in Spain. Similar to my perception of café au lait, part of the reason I love café con leche is that I often paired it with a churro con chocolate from Chocolatería Valor- iqué rico! I will always think of my wonderful experiences in Spain (more details to come in future blogs :)) when I drink café con leche.

    Café con leche y churros con chocolate de Chocolatería Valor en Salamanca, España

    Café con leche y churros con chocolate de Chocolatería Valor en Salamanca, España

  5. Mocha from Espresso Royale in Ann Arbor, Michigan: Every time I go back to visit my alma mater, I stop at Espresso Royale for a mocha, which makes me nostalgic of the cold winter days walking to class, meeting with student groups, and cuddling up to study with a mocha. Espresso Royale features several coffee blends, delicious pastries (I highly recommend the zucchini bread), and some of the best couches you could ask for (they are in high demand during finals season at the University of Michigan).

As a business professional, my list of coffee favorites keeps growing, as I am eager to try new coffee specialties everywhere I travel! I especially appreciate local coffee shops because they often sell native coffee blends and give you a taste of the local culture by featuring local musicians and artists. For such a staple in daily life, I enjoy learning how each country has its own spin on coffee. What are your favorite places for coffee?