Burgers & Beers in Ljubljana, Slovenia


I didn’t go to Slovenia for the food.

I went for the landscapes. The crashing waterfalls. The big lakes with their tiny islands. The castles built on cliffsides. The distinctly blue rivers. The rolling farmland dotted with old churches and barns.

I went because I’d heard it was beautiful. And that was true.

But what I didn’t know, and was pleasantly surprised to find, is that Slovenia (in particular the capitol, Ljubljana) has quite the foodie scene as well.

All summer long, there are food festivals like Odprta Kuhna (Open Kitchen), which features cheap food stand eats from the top restaurants in Slovenia, and the equally wonderful and far less publicized Burger & Beer Festival, which happens one weekend mid-summer and features all the best little brewers and burger joints competing for your attention.

The star of my own burger experience was the gourmet roast beef burger from Cube Burger, served covered in gooey brie cheese and truffle mushroom sauce.

Oh, and I should probably mention that, like everything else in wonderful Slovenia, the food was super cheap. About $4 for a gourmet burger.

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A Long Lunch at Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy


When I first started researching for my Italy guide, I knew I wanted to get an interview with one of the top chefs in the country. I wanted Italian eating tips from the best of the best. And after researching all the award-winning restaurants all over Italy, I reached out to two. One was Osteria Francescana, a restaurant listed as one of the top 50 in the world.

Chef Massimo was kind enough to give an interview for the book, and after hearing what he had to say about Italian cuisine, I knew I had to eat in his restaurant.

In fact, when the book published, the very first thing I did to celebrate was take a trip down from the Swiss Alps into Italy’s food-rich Emilia Romagna region to have a long lunch at Osteria Francescana.

The chef’s food philosophy was one that combined very local inspiration and ingredients with unusual and new ideas. There was a foie gras ice cream (pictured above) and an unusual salad in which the flavors were carefully hidden inside a leafy green. There was parmesan cheese prepared three ways (as a foam, a cream, and a crisp). And since I ordered the drink pairing, there were wines and spirits paired with each and every course, including one that tasted strangely and wonderfully like drinking a salad.

It was my celebratory trip and this lovely little restaurant was the driving force behind it.

Tasting menus start at 180 euros and expect lunch to last at least two hours.

Buon appetito.

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The Best Breakfast I’ve Ever Had (Just Outside Parma, Italy)

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It probably goes without saying, but I love breakfast.

Fluffy pancakes. Eggs Benedict. Smoked salmon on a toasted bagel. All of it delights me.

And I’ve had a lot of great breakfasts over the years.

Which is why when I say that this one is in my top three, that’s really saying something.

The breakfast, which was served at a beautiful little bed and breakfast just outside Parma, Italy, had everything you could possibly want. There were little pancakes looking snowy with their powdered sugar, local jams, creamy yogurt, fresh cantaloup, toast, croissants, granola, caprese salad, mozzarella, thinly sliced prosciutto, fruit salad, and the most amazing breakfast pastries you’ve ever seen. Plus, fresh-squeezed orange juice, amazing cappuccinos, and eggs.

I loved the B&B itself, but I loved that breakfast even more, sitting there for hours and nibbling away at things until I couldn’t eat another bite.

The B&B, called Villino di Porporano, is about 10 minutes from Parma by car, an hour by foot along lovely country back roads.

My stay at Villino di Porporano was free, but all opinions are my own and, in fact, they don’t even know I’m writing about them here.

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All About Italian Espresso



Strong. Dark. Bold. And a staple of modern-day Italy.

During my time in northern Italy just after I published my Italy guidebook, I had the distinct pleasure of touring and tasting at a balsamic vinegar producer, eating real bolognese sauce outside Bologna with a couple other bloggers, and, notably, being guided through an espresso tasting by an expert–Manuel Terzi of Caffe Terzi.

The most important thing to know about espresso is that there are essentially two types of beans. The first, called Robusta, are sharper and more oily. They’re usually dark-roasted because the more you roast a bean, the more you hide its original flavor. And since Robusta beans don’t have the best original flavor, roasters spend their time trying to hide it.

The second and more desirable bean type is the Arabica, which brew smoother and richer. This is the bean you want to look for if you want the best espresso experience.

The second important thing to know is that refined sugar masks the flavor of espresso, while raw sugar enhances it. Manuel Terzi recommends trying the espresso without sugar first and then adding raw sugar to good 100% Arabica bean espresso to get the full experience.

Finally, he adds that when searching for the best espresso in town, it’s a good idea to look at the espresso machines. Machines with small filters mask the flavor of the espresso and are a good indicator that a shop is buying cheap coffee. Machines with large filters, on the other hand, let the flavor through and are your best bet.


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Where to Find Great Tapas in Seville, Spain


I know this is blasphemy for all the Spain-lovers out there, but overall, I didn’t find the food in Spain that impressive. Tapas were cheap, yes. I had some decent churros. And I certainly liked most of the food. But I didn’t love it.  Most of it didn’t wow me.

This goes for all my Spanish travels…from Barcelona to the southern coast, Madrid to Toledo to Seville.

But there was one exception.

A little local tapas place in Seville where my super interesting blogger friends, Ang and Ryan, took me for lunch one sunny February day: Catalina Casa de Comidas.

Everything we ate there was spectacular, splendidly presented and bursting with flavor. Ang and Ryan said it was their favorite place, not only because the food was so good, but because the tourists don’t seem to have discovered it yet.

I must agree.

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Do Try: Trucker Rösti in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland


First, a fun fact: I’m only about a month away from my four-year anniversary of leaving my permanent address in Denver behind for a life of full-time travel.

In those nearly four years, I’ve taken my dog to 16 countries, learned to love myselfdropped two dress sizes, written seven travel guides, and spent two years as an official expat in Switzerland.

Switzerland captured my heart for a lot of reasons, mostly having to do with nature (the valley I lived in had 72 waterfalls…enough said, right?).

And when it comes to food, I had a few distinct favorites there, including the Trucker Rösti at the Hotel Oberland in Lauterbrunnen.

Drenched in cheese and tomato sauce and ham, this twist on the classic Swiss rösti (which is essentially hash browns) is one of the top three things I ate during my years in Switzerland. I usually had mine with a glass of Merlot and since Swiss restaurants are rather pricey, this was a special occasion treat (usually eaten after an epic hike).

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