Another 800-miles north of Barcelona, Spain and I arrived in Brussels, Belgium.
Hopped on the train from the airport to the city. Quite an adventure for me, as everything was ‘foreign’ to me:
but I managed to get myself off the correct train station.
I didn’t want to venture out too far and get stranded, but proceeded on the cobblestone road, and did the touristy thing in the vicinity.

Which brought me into the Grand Palace town center

Only a few were on my list to try
1. Belgium waffles in…well, Belgium

2. Mussels from Brussels

3. Hand made me some Belgium Chocolate

in the land of chocolate


4. Manneken Pis – the pissing boy

which was much smaller than I imagined

5. Fritz – the fries, but I wasn’t too impressed. It was meaty, like steak fries to me and I am more into the crispy thin ones.

6. And another delicacy, I got the Filet Américan.

I recalled the this Mr. Bean episode, which made me even more enthused to try it out.
well, “When in Rome…”

Once again, made it back to the States just before another big snow storm #2 hit.

That was an exciting way to round up the year. I wonder when and where my next adventure will take me.

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Left the next morning, just before the huge snow storm in Europe hit. Thank goodness my friend stayed with me until I got checked in, as if the German language wasn’t overwhelming enough, I didn’t even know where to begin looking on the departure/arrival info.

After I got settled, I just hung around and soaked it all in like this guy.

Arrived in Barcelona where I met the soon to be newly weds at the airport. They were in a rush as they were still dealing with last minute plans before the wedding, so I was dropped us off at a house in Cerdanyola, Spain.
Friend’s “mom” had a quick lunch waiting for us.

Finished the salad and I thought that was it, until she brought out a tray of baked chicken….oh moms…they’re universal.

Headed out the to the city to check out the Christmas Market and the night life. So did everyone else.

Lights everywhere, down every street. I wonder where the city stores all the decorations afterwards?

Stopped at Trencadis for some food and called it a night since jet lag started to kick in.

Once all of the people from the states arrived in Spain, some of us wanted to venture out to the city, by taking their public transportation. By the way, transpo here puts the California public transportation system to shame…once we were able to find it though.

Found the tracks, and saw the train, but where was the station to hop onboard?

Eventually made our way into Barcelona, Spain. I didn’t really do any research for the area and knew the hosts would bring us to the must see spots in Spain. What was on my list was of course had to deal their specialties:

Paella:

the pintxos bar:

Somewhat tapas/buffet style. You walk with a plate and grab from the displays the bread topped with various ingredients from salmon to cheese, to my ever so favorite jamón. To pay your bill, they count how many toothpicks remain on your plate. I can see how this may be a problem for them with my mischievous past 🙂

the churros con chocolate, thick sludge like hot chocolate to dip with the churros:

the coffee:

Explored the famed architect, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, thou his work is scattered all over the city.

Visited Els Quatre Gats, where young Picasso use to frequent, known for a gathering place for artists:

and how can I pass up black ink squid paella if it’s on the menu. No is not an option for me when exploring a new country 🙂

a little flamenco dancing:

Still have a wedding to get to, more time in Spain, and then off to Brussels, Belgium!!!

I got a chance to attend a wedding in Spain and I jumped at the offer. I knew some of the places in Europe was going to be cold, LIKE SNOW COLD, so I tried to prepare the best that I could being from sunny California.

We almost didn’t make it though. While taxiing on the runway, about to take off, we turned around because a passenger had a panic attack. With a 2-hour delay which included heading back to the gates, escorting the passenger off, digging out their baggage, and refueling, we were back on our way.

Got to pick my layover locations, so first stop was Wiesbaden, Germany via Frankfurt, to see a college friend.

It’s been a while, but thanks to the social networking of today, we were able to meet up, even if it was for less than 24hrs. She moved there last year and was pretty excited to show me why she was excited about this place. First we took her dog out for a stroll in a park not too far from her place.  Took in some of nature’s art, (seems as if I stepped into a postcard scenery)

and then some “art” art

Dropped the dog back at the house, and we were off to the city.
Went to a gummy bear candy store.

Ate at a currywurst restaurant, Curry Manufaktur in Wiesbaden.
Sausages were cut into slices and seasoned with curry sauce, consisting of tomato paste or other spices blended with curry and topped with curry powder. Not being able to read or even order my food had me pretty apprehensive. Good thing I had my ‘local’ tour guide to help me out, and ended up with a huge plate of their specialty.

Jet lag kicked in and we headed back for a nap. We headed back out at night.
Walked through the Christmas Market, and drooled over more food.
Like the Flammkuchen, a flat bread pizza with cheese, potatoes and ham



Schokokuss
, Chocolate coated marshmallows with many different flavorings inside.

23Karat gold covered cashew nuts displayed at the candied nut stall.

Poffertjes. Somewhat like the Chinese Egg Puff/Eggettes, but this version is dressed with vanilla sauceand powdered sugar.


Keep in mind the Christmas Market takes place outdoors, and in the winter!

While gathering around outdoor tables, and breathing out into the coldest of airs, people would chatting away with a cup of Glühwein (hot mulled red wine with spices) to take the chill off. Since I’m not a fan of the taste of alcohol, but just to experience it, I managed a few sips and it definitely kept me warm.

This trip is all about exploring new eats for me, and this leg of the trip in Germany was a success.

The next morning I left for Barcelona and realized I left just before a huge snow storm hit Europe.
Pretty lucky my friend said, and I agreed it was a close one.

Last week was pretty strenuous having to juggle my regular techie job, with the cafe and a last minute opportunity to work on a network spin-off show.  I got a called for the gig weeks ago, got passed up on the position, so I gave up hope, but out of the blue heard back from them, and now it’s all over with. Confusing like a roller coaster but this rink was where I got to spend my time.

Ready to take a little break from the hectic workload I decided to head to a coffee shop to catch up on all things online. Ended up in the city of Pacifica, yes off the Pacific Ocean. It was peaceful and calming.

I remember back in school when we had to sell coupon books as fundraiser events. They use to be the size of a checkbook and consisted of local businesses. Then fund-raising coupons turned into Entertainment Books which provided broader businesses and discounts in the city for movie tickets, amusement parks admissions, video rentals, car rentals, buy one get one entree free to eateries, etc. Businesses participating the book would get them for free, so for the longest time we would have free copies..that was until a few years ago. Seeing the web advertisements  for these books brought me back to feeling that if I paid full price for anything meant that I was paying too much, so I folded and purchased a book.

The book brought me to a coffee shop next to the ocean, that apparently made it known that they do not have wifi.

No internet, so I spent the time reading the paper and playing some games, as I consumed a Mexican Mocha and a Pumpkin Pie/Bar, which seems to fit the season, with my half off coupon.

I noticed that a lot of businesses that use to be on the book are no longer on them, may it be the economy, or just a fad to be in the book in those days. Seems like that business has now been overrun by the online deals like Groupons, Living Social, KGB Deals, Plum District, the list goes on and on. Oh well, now I know but I’m contempt since my savings accumulated has already paid for the book.

Dinner tonight is a simple one, but time consuming. Sue Gow, or dumplings.

My ingredients this time around consists of:

– Ground pork
– shiitake mushrooms
– shrimp
– chives
– egg
– white pepper
– soy sauce
– sesame oil
– salt
– sugar
– corn starch
– Sue Gow wrappers

Like any recipe I get from my mom, I never get any measurements, just the list of ingredients, so like this one, it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I figure, it doesn’t really matter since at the end, I’d dip the dumplings in sauce before eating.

Cut up all the ingredients, tossed them all in a large bowl to incorporate together.

I set up my workstation at the table  with the filling, wrappers, couple plates and a bowl of water for binding the dumpling’s wrapper edges.

I split the process in two stages, first by prepping a couple plates with the wrappers with portioned filling, then I go to town wrapping.

100 dumplings later, I ran out of filling and was ready to drop them in some boiling water to cook. My typical dipping sauce consists of soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic, but since I’ve got plans in the  morning, I’ll spare the other people the reminiscence of what I had for dinner the night before and left out one of the ingredients.

Tomorrow morning I start a new reality gig. Call time is 5:45am. AM!!! Need to go, can’t procrastinate, and get some sleep!

Went into Target, grabbed what I wanted and thought I did very well not being tempted by other products I just ‘had to have’….until I walked into the new section that they just finished constructing. Yes, my Target now has fresh food and a Starbucks! Passed the produce, dairy, chips and snack section, and found myself at the cereal aisle. Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, Reese Puffs…. oh my!

Okay, I couldn’t resist, and now am a proud owner of a box of Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch. And randomly, on the doorstep was a box of Similac. Baby Formula? I guess I mailed in for a freebie a while ago when my sister’s youngest was still nursing bottles.

Fast forward from the mail-in, this baby has now moved on to solids.

So I didn’t get on the spin-off show that would have kept me busy for a few months, but I did appreciate them letting me know so I didn’t pass up on other offers and was available to take on another Disney release. How ironic that it took place at the Disney Family Museum that I accidentally stumbled upon a couple weeks ago. Good thing I didn’t shell out for tickets then to see the place then, as a personal tour guide was provided as well as roam-free access with this:

We were shooting outside with audio,

perfectly nestled between a construction zone,

chainsaws trimming trees,

huge trucks and passer byers.

But it was good, everyone was very professional about the noise.

In the early morning, I grabbed a little breakfast consisting of miniature pastries and fruit.

For lunch they kept restocking the counter with sandwiches and salads.
Yum, capers and sun-dried tomatoes in the salad. Didn’t touch the cookies, but they were the plumpest cookies I’ve seen in a while -peanut butter I believe.

Caprese sandwich with chicken, the salad, honeydew, blackberries and blueberries.

Finished the day admiring the location.

Another warm one today, and working inside a cafe with lots of windows, causes a greenhouse effect, so it was probably closer to the 90s indoors.

Well, that that just made me want to keep hydrated and make one of my “everything but the kitchen sink” smoothie into a blender. Stuffed my glass with broccoli, spinach, carrots, tofu, watermelon, oranges, banana.  Threw it all in a blender, topped it with mango chunks and some water.


And wahlah! Tasty, refreshing, and I’m no expert, but I’m assuming healthy too!

But fast foreword on to the exciting event of the evening. I attended a show, that not only included Goh Nakamura, who I worked with on filming Surrogate Valentine,

who killed it on his set with his sing-along to John Lennon session, to humoring us as he incorporated lyrics of “tipping the bartender” and being on a the “cutest stage” ever (propped with a cardboard tree, clouds, a sun and star) into his number.

The icing to this cake was when I got to watch one of my favorite indie artist, Jane Lui, play… live.

Not only is her voice amazing, she’s also funny and entertaining, and produces sounds utilizing household-like items and pieces everything together. There’s so much to say about this artist, but you should just check her music out on her youtube videos. She also just released her 3rd album and is totally FREE to download from her site: http://janelui.com….so check it, let me know what you think 🙂

I don’t watch horror/scary films, but I do know of the character Chucky, and I swear this could have been where he hung out.

Spent the weekend in the city at a house, shooting a short film. The decor wasn’t too bad because there were many people around, but if I were there alone, I’d be FREAKIN’ OUT.

They actually had someone come in and make home-made pizza. So fancy. Others would just opt for take-out or delivery.

Grabbed myself a vegetarian pizza, a small handful of chips and a can of Lemon San Pellegrino. Round 2 was a cheese slice with some grapes.

The first night ended early and at home I went ahead and made another ‘go to noodle soup‘. This one was made with dried bean thread noodle, and from the freezer section, some fish balls and peas. Flavored it all with tamarind soup base.

Bright an early I started off the morning with a cup of coffee and a cookie on set. A “Two Day Shelf Life” Cookie? I hope we were within the 2 days.

Between work, we broke for a snack. Some TeJava tea, hummus and pita chips.

And back to work again. Yes, this is part of the film.

A couple more shots and it was time for lunch. Peasant pies. I was excited because I have never had any peasant pie, nor shepard pie. The closest was a chicken pot pie. We had a variety of pies – beef/potato, chicken/potato, curried potato, ham/egg/cheese, black bean/tofu. I grabbed the beef with potato and the chicken with potato.

The chicken pie had dill in it, which gave it an ‘interesting’ flavor. Maybe a little too interesting because half-hour later, I wasn’t feeling too hot and needed to take a break until things normalized….

Came back and kept on plowing thru and ended the night filling out paperwork.

It’s still questionable for me if I want to watch the finished product or not, since the editing process will make it much more eerie.