November 5, 2014

Top Ten: Ice Cream Shops

It has been about four months since we have returned to the United States.. As our time abroad was nearing an end, my little family started compiling top ten lists of our favorite things and places. To begin this series - I will start with the ever critical, ice cream or gelato.

The Tasting Committee at Work

10.   Don't have your passport handy? No worries, the Swedish ice cream bar "Magnum" is available in freezer cases throughout the U.S. (Target, Walmart, etc.). When wandering the streets of random cities and an appealing gelato stand was no where to be found, a quick stop at a convenience shop could always yield one of these frozen delights. If you haven't tried one yet - I dare you!

9.   Centrale del Gusto in the Mercato di Mezzo in Bologna, Italy. A wonderful market in the Food district of Bologna with some of the best eats in town. Not to mention a crazy-good stop for ice cream (or a macaron..).

8.  Grom. Our saving grace for gelato amongst all of the tourist traps in Venice, Italy. Grom's all-natural artisan gelato can be found throughout Italy, as well as in - Malibu, New York, Osaka, Paris and Tokyo. If you ever stumble across one of their shops somewhere in the world, grab a scoop - you'll be glad you did!

Grom - Venice
7.   Cupcake Corner. A fun little shop in Krakow, Poland. One step in however, and you won't remember if you are in Poland or America... A cupcake menu that changes for each day of the week, you will find temptations such as Red Velvet, Banana Split, Oreo, White Chocolate Pistachio... Very Americana... My reason for a stop-in however, is the homemade ice cream. Red Velvet and PB Chocolate are lovely, but Sweet Carrot - that's where it's at!

Cupcake Corner - Krakow
6.   Grycan. Another Polish joy. With ice cream parlours located throughout Poland, grab your spoon for a scoop or sundae and take in the happiness of an ice cream steeped with history and family tradition!

5.   Softis. Soft-serve ice cream found in Norway and Sweden. One of the more affordable dining options in these countries, the soft serve is amazingly more rich than it's soft serve cousin in the states. The part that's even more fun is picking your topping - cocoa powder, jimmies, peanuts and my favorite, licorice (salt licorice in Sweden). Perhaps one of the greatest reasons to trek up to Scandinavia..

Lejonet & Björnen - Stockholm
4.   Amorino. Upon first finding this lovely gelato in Milan, Italy, it held top honors for a long time. I can't even tell you how amazing the Pistachio and Speculoos flavors are... Amorino can be found in Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, England, Spain, Portugal, Luxemburg, and... New York!

Amorino - Lyon
3.   Terre Adelice. Located in Lyon, France directly across from Amorino, I passed it up at first because the ice cream was in plastic tubs... However, upon passing it a second time and seeing a line that extended for quite a while... There was a definite reason there was a line.

   A flavor menu a mile long, divided into categories of flowers and plants (maple, lavender, rose, geranium, violet - wonderful!..), exotic fruits (lychee, mango..), alcohol (Chartreuse - awesome!, Grand Marnier, rum raisin..), cheese and vegetable (goat cheese, Mascarpone, Roquefort, tomato & basil..), regional fruits (Bergeron apricot, Morello cherry, Mirabelle plum, rhubarb..), indulgent flavors ( salted cream caramel, Arabica coffee, Valrhona cocoa powder, Commercy madeleine, licorice, sheep's milk Madagascar vanilla..). If there was time for all of them, I'd be so happy.

Terre Adelice - Lyon
2.   Gelarto Rosa. Another holder of the number one spot for quite some time.. A sweet little shop in Budapest, Hungary, with a fun selection of flavors and a couple that rotate out daily. My favorites are cinnamon, Mexican chocolate, and white chocolate lavender. I bet you might find a reason to stop by at least twice a day...

Gelarto Rosa - Budapest
1.   The shop that stole the show? Gelateria Romana. After visiting this shop in Bergamo, Italy, life was never the same. They can be found across Italy (I wish I had known to look for them in Rome..) as well as a shop in Madrid, Spain. To begin, they pour molten hot chocolate (brown or white) into the bottom of your cone. Then, gracefully top with your chosen flavors (Mascarpone with coffee and dark chocolate, white mint, hazelnut pesto, Grandma's cookies..).

   May you be feeling ridiculously inclined, they'll even top it off with fresh whipped cream... The only downfall... The girl that despises people who speak English (or maybe all people in general, it was hard to tell)... Either cross your fingers that she'll be out for a smoke break or just accept that she'll all but spit in your ice cream. Nonetheless, it still gets the number one spot in our book.

Romana - Bergamo

If you find yourself out and about in the ice cream world, please enjoy responsibly and with ultimate enjoyment.

Charlotte - Gelarto Rosa

Disclosure: We're just regular people on a regular budget. Therefore, we haven't been to all the ice cream shops across Europe, nor have we been to all of Europe. Darn the luck, nobody even gave us a free scoop - this life-altering information was funded out of our own pocket and is highly researched. There are places that didn't make the list. But I give my word that those that did are nothing but awesome.

April 27, 2014

Back to Budapest

I love Budapest. Just absolutely adore it. If someone would have introduced me to aparthotels, I probably would have already made a couple more trips to Budapest..! An apartment operated similar to a hotel, five of us were able to spend three nights right in the city center for a fraction of the price of a hotel. I am hooked.. On Budapest... And aparthotels...

View of the city from the Liberty Statue.

April 8, 2014

The Wujek Coal Mine

The two red and white striped stacks of the Wujek Coal Mine stand tall on the outskirts of the city - near the park where we spend a large amount of our leisure time. I was familiar with this area having faced a lot of struggle and that so much of it is quite recent history. However, a visit to the museum located at the still operational mine, left me in deep awe of what was happening in the 1980's. This was a world where the joys of Pee-wee Herman, Donkey Kong and the Cabbage Patch Kids were probably the last things on anyone's mind.

Kopalnia Wujek (Wujek Mine)

February 2, 2014

The Anonymous Pedestrians

At an intersection in Wroclaw, stand fourteen bronze statues designed by Jerzy Kalina. The statues which are also referred to as "Passage" or "Transition", were unveiled on the eve of the 13th of December in 2005 - the 24th anniversary of the imposition of Martial Law in Poland.

The Anonymous Pedestrians

January 30, 2014

Snapshots of Prague

We've only made a couple short visits to Prague (plus a couple stop-ins for a quick Starbucks fix while en-route to Germany). A very mystical and magnificent city full of Gothic beauty, it just isn't one of my favorites. For as stunning as the city is to view from the Charles Bridge and the Prague Castle, for me the culinary interests are too lacking.

View of Prague

January 4, 2014

Return Visit: Berlin

The last stop on our Christmas Market Extravaganza was Berlin. I can sum up our Christmas Market journey in short by saying that if there is a city that knows how to put on a market (or over a hundred..) it's Berlin!

Berliner Weihnachtszeit