Introducing Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company in Cyprus

Posted by on Feb 15, 2016 in Drink, Travel | 0 comments

Introducing Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company in Cyprus

Craft beer is starting to make waves in Cyprus, which it’s quite fitting for this country surrounded by the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus is a deeply historic island and also a place of great importance when it comes to brewing. Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company is fully operational and the first high quality, small-batch craft brewery licensed in Cyprus. Less than 10km from the brewery are the 3,500 year old bronze-age remains of an ancient traditional brewery. According to history, the brewery would have been tended by the wives of the Cypriot nomadic hunter-gatherers of the time. Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company is committed to continuing history, and brews handcrafted beers in small, personally-tended batches using mineral-rich spring water from the brewery’s own well. The brewery is a family business employing well qualified and highly experienced brewing specialists from Great Britain and Cyprus who create a wide range of fresh, full-flavoured locally handcrafted beers. To ease newcomers into craft beer, the brewery’s Rock Premium is the perfect starting point. According to Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company, the Rock Premium is “a rarity in a world of ‘real ales’ – a precision hand-crafted Bavarian lager.” The brewery blends a rich base of Bavarian pilsner and crystal malts with grassy and flowery Hallertau Hersbrucker and other aromatic hops. The Rock Premium is a favorite among Cypriots who want to kick their typical lager beers up a notch. As you can imagine, it gets quite hot in Cyprus. Lagers and pilsners are quite popular, and this 4.8% ABV beer is a perfect introduction to the craft beer scene. Another favorite among the Cypriots is the London Porter. At 4.5% ABV, the London Porter is a very drinkable, refreshing beer with a slight roasted malt finish. It’s a faithful reproduction of a traditional 18th century English-style porter. Aphrodite’s Rock’s London Porter has delicious flavors of caramel and rich chocolate with a hint of spice, pouring dark and creamy. I enjoyed this beer at a locally owned bar in Nicosia called BrewFellas, and it was the perfect way to end a day spent touring around Nicosia, the only split capital city in the world — occupied by Turkey and Greece. If you’re interested in history and love craft beer, Aphrodite’s Rock Brewing Company is a must-see when in Cyprus. Pay a visit to the brewpub for some delicious beers and food. You’ll love being surrounded by history and the rolling hills of Paphos. Top image credited to My Cyprus Insider, original post from...

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Create Industry City Distillery’s 20 Minute Limoncello

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Drink | 0 comments

Create Industry City Distillery’s 20 Minute Limoncello

Limoncello is my favorite of the liqueurs– tart, sweet and refreshing. Plus, it reminds me of traveling through Italy and lounging on the Amalfi coast amongst the lemon trees. Made from lemons, alcohol and sugar, this liqueur often takes over three months to create. Limoncello has a controversial, rich history. The original recipe of limoncello bends through a series of anecdotes and legends, competed by the Sorrentini, Amalfitani and Capresi. These three Italian populations boast of a production of limoncello passed on by various generations (Source: Sorrento Info). Although the origins of limoncello are controversial and we aren’t sure which population created the first batch, one thing we can all agree on is that this Italian liqueur is absolutely delicious. It’s definitely a ray of sunshine and the perfect pick-me-up on a cold winter day. So, how can you create this delightful beverage at home? All you need is time, a lot of lemons (we’re talking like 40) and tons of sugar. Yikes! I don’t want to zest 40 lemons either. Luckily, I’m here to bring you good news. The fine folks of Industry City Distillery have shared their 20 minute limoncello recipe. You heard us, 20 minutes is all it takes, and you only need about one lemon. Industry City Distillery is an experimental distillery located in Brooklyn, New York. The distillery is pursuing better craft spirits through science, and produces their Industry Standard Vodka using beet sugar as well as their newest product, Technical Reserve. Industry City Distillery created Technical Reserve specifically for the needs of the creative cocktail connoisseur. Distilled to 95.6% ABV (the highest possible), Technical Reserve is exceptionally high proof and the neutral character allows you to create limoncello at home. 20 Minute Limoncello  Ingredients 10-12 grams (1-1.5 lemons) lemon zest 150ml Technical Reserve 60 grams sugar 75ml water Directions Zest your lemons with a zester or microplane and place zest in a glass jar. Pour 100ml of Technical Reserve on the zest and stir or shake as much as possible while it soaks. Do not soak for more than 60 minutes for the best tasting limoncello. Pour off the bright yellow liquid into another glass jar without losing the zest (a tea strainer is perfect). Pour another 25ml of Technical Reserve into the original zest jar and stir a bit. Pour off and repeat with the final 25ml of Technical Reserve. Pour 75ml of water into the zest jar and then immediately pour that into your second jar with the bright yellow Technical Reserve. Discard your used up zest. Pour 60 grams of sugar into the second jar and shake or stir until all of the sugar dissolves. This makes about 250ml (8oz) of limoncello. Bottle and enjoy! Photographs from Industry City Distillery, Post originally from...

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Italian Aperitivo and the Aperol Spritz

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Drink | 0 comments

Italian Aperitivo and the Aperol Spritz

After spending over a month traveling in Italy, I must say the Italians definitely know their food and drink. I first learned about the Aperol Spritz and aperitivo in Modena, which is one of the most amazing towns in Italy for food. Heck, Chef Massimo Bottura’s Osteria Francescana is located in this small Northern Italian town and is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 restaurants in the world! So, what exactly is aperitivo? It’s the time before dinner when Italians meet up with friends and family for a drink and light snacks. Aperitivo gives you a chance to socialize and nibble as the dinner hour approaches. Although it’s more popular in the north of Italy, you’ll find aperitivo throughout the country. Common foods served during aperitivo include olives and potato chips, however, some places are more elaborate with fresh pizza, cold cuts, savory pastries or even fresh mozzarella. Here’s one of my plates during aperitivo along with an Aperol Spritz. Friend and renowned Italian pastry chef Luca Balboni who I visited while in Modena explains, “Drinks during the aperitivo time usually include a bubbly wine or a bitter drink like an Aperol Spritz.” The carbonation and bitter taste of the Aperol Spritz is meant to “open” the palate. Plus, this drink is perfect before dinner because it has a low alcohol content of around 11%. Best of all, the Aperol Spritz is easy to prepare so you can host your own Italian aperitivo time at home. Just follow this simple recipe below. Aperol Spritz Ingredients 3 parts prosecco 2 parts Aperol 1 part soda water 1 orange slice Directions Pour all ingredients over ice in a wine glass and top with a slice of orange. Cin cin! Post originally from...

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Recipe: A Menshevik Ménages à Trois

Posted by on Dec 15, 2015 in Drink | 0 comments

Recipe: A Menshevik Ménages à Trois

As an ode to Brooklyn and the borough’s amazing local producers, I recently visited Lofted Coffee in Bushwick to concoct a new spin on the traditional White Russian cocktail — A Menshevik Ménages à Trois. Located in a loft off Varick Street amongst Bushwick’s many warehouses, Lofted Coffee roasts high-quality, sustainable coffee. As co-owner Tobin Polk prepared a fresh pourover, operations manager Aric Carroll showed me around the 1000-square foot loft. Potted plants, old briefcases and coffee equipment lined the shelves, and the aroma of freshly ground coffee filled the cozy room. Charlie, Lofted Coffee’s friendly cat, even played amongst the burlap bags of coffee beans sitting on the wooden floor. Aric Carroll is also assistant distiller of Industry City Distillery, an experimental distillery located in Brooklyn’s Industry City. The distillery’s Industry Standard Vodka is a beet sugar vodka distilled on equipment the team designed and built in Brooklyn. This vodka is perfect in our new version of the White Russian because it has hints of vanilla and a touch of spice. By using Industry City Distillery’s Technical Reserve (think a classier version of Everclear) and coffee grounds from Lofted Coffee, Aric created a Lofted Coffee Technical Reserve Extraction. Along with Industry Standard Vodka, this coffee extraction is the perfection addition to the “A Menshevik Ménages à Trois” cocktail — a Brooklyn spin on the classic White Russian. You can easily create this cocktail at home by following the recipe below. A Menshevik Ménages à Trois Ingredients 1 tsp Fine and Raw chocolate espresso bar (chocolate from a local Bushwick producer) 1 large ice cube 10 mL water 20 mL simple syrup 30 mL Industry City Distillery’s Industry Standard Vodka 10 mL Lofted Coffee Technical Reserve Extraction (see directions below) 1 cup half and half or milk Lofted Coffee Technical Reserve Extraction Directions Grind 70 grams of Lofted Coffee and place into a bowl. Pour Industry City Distillery’s Technical Reserve over the coffee grounds and cover. Let sit overnight, and then strain. Place the strained extraction in a bottle and set aside. Cocktail Directions Finely shave Fine and Raw’s chocolate espresso bar and place shavings in the bottom of a glass. Place large ice cube in the glass. Pour water, simple syrup, vodka and coffee extraction into the glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with half and half or milk. Top the cocktail with a pinch of chocolate shavings. Gently stir and serve. Cheers! Post originally from...

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Building Lasting Friendships Through Travel

Posted by on Dec 1, 2015 in Travel | 2 comments

Building Lasting Friendships Through Travel

“Find life experiences and swallow them whole. Travel. Meet many people. Go down some dead ends and explore dark alleys. Try everything. Exhaust yourself in the glorious pursuit of life.” -Lawrence K. Fish   As I sit here only a few hours before flying back to New York City, my heart is full of happiness. It’s always a bittersweet feeling heading back home, especially after meeting so many new friends.   For the past two months I’ve been traveling around the Middle East and Europe with my best friend Courtney. What an eye-opening trip this has been! Together, we’ve put our trust in complete strangers, CouchSurfed with the most amazing humans on this planet, and shared fascinating experiences with old and new friends.    Our old and new friends greeted us with open arms and treated us like family in every country we visited: Georgia, Cyprus, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Italy. From cooking us Italian feasts to taking care of us after suffering from food poisoning, these people have been there for us through the good and bad times.    Travel isn’t always easy, and I’m so thankful to have met such wonderful, caring people on these adventures. I especially appreciate all of our friends opening up to us about religion, politics and cultural differences. I’ve truly learned more in the past two months than I have in years. I’ve learned that it’s important to keep an open mind and to listen carefully. Meeting local people is the best way to learn about a new country, and you’ll also learn even more about how your own country is viewed around the globe.     I’m especially grateful to have traveled in the Middle East. Often, the media in the United States portrays the people and countries in such a negative light. The people in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt are extremely hospitable. One of my favorite memories includes eating a traditional Jordanian feast on our last night in Amman prepared by our new friend Abdullah’s mother. The people are so willing to open up their homes and make you feel like you’re part of the family.   I hope you meet amazing people along the way who challenge you and make you look at life a little differently. I’m so thankful for this journey and I look forward to seeing my old and new friends in the future. ...

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Wadi Rum: Feeling Small & Free

Posted by on Nov 26, 2015 in Travel | 0 comments

Wadi Rum: Feeling Small & Free

“Traveling makes one modest — you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” –Gustave Flaubert / Flaubert in Egypt (1849) If you’ve ever experienced deafening silence while surrounded by nature, you’ll agree with the above quotation. For the first time in many years, I was forced to disconnect from technology while in Jordan. Although I was only “off the grid” for a short 24-hour period, I suddenly felt rejuvenated and at peace with myself.    Alone with my thoughts in the vast Wadi Rum desert, I listened to the occasional sounds of a Bedouin singing to his camel and the wind rustling the bright orange sand. Life really is beautiful, and riding in the desert on a camel makes you appreciate the simplistic way of living. Connections to people, nature and animals are so important for our well-being, and often technology causes us to become secluded. The majority of us should make it a priority to get off social media, our computers, or whatever it is that consumes your time, and truly start living.  The mountains of Wadi Rum also allowed me to realize that you can truly do anything you want, fear is the source that holds you back. During the first day in Wadi Rum I felt free. I tackled my fear of climbing a steep mountain to stand in the center of a narrow natural bridge. Holding the hand of my Bedouin guide, we reached the center of the bridge. My palms were sweaty and I was sure that I would topple over. He squeezed my wrist, looked into my eyes and exclaimed, “You did it!” There’s nothing more exhilarating than standing on a mountain top and conquering your fears. I also realized in Wadi Rum just how important it is to relax and take in your natural surroundings. The vast desert and huge mountains have a way of whispering to you, “Slow down. You’re small. Don’t let this big world swallow you up.” After hiking through mountains and sand dunes, I spent the evening in Wadi Rum laying on a blanket next to my Bedouin guide and best friend Courtney. Khaled pointed to the sky and asked us, “Have you ever seen stars like this?” I shook my head while looking up at the bright blanket of stars covering the sky. What a stunning sight. That night I even lost count of the number of shooting stars I witnessed falling from their position in the dark sky. I’m sure the stars saw me, too. Just a tiny speck sitting in the middle of the desert. I’ll never forget the weekend camping in the desert with Bedouins, and running down orange sand dunes while the mountain wind danced with my hair. The feeling of freedom and adjusted perception of my place in this huge world are two things Wadi Rum taught me during my...

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Carakale: Jordan’s First Microbrewery

Posted by on Nov 19, 2015 in Drink, Travel | 0 comments

Carakale: Jordan’s First Microbrewery

After traveling for about two months, I’ve realized just how spoiled I am in New York City. The craft beer scene is incredible in the Big Apple and I can go out every night to drink something new. I spent the majority of my trip in the Middle East, where I discovered that bars are sometimes hard to find and so is quality alcohol. Sipping tea with mint and smoking waterpipe at a cafe is common. However, while traveling in Amman, Jordan, I went to a local bar popular amongst expats and locals who partake in alcohol. Here, I tasted Carakale, a delicious craft beer from Jordan’s first microbrewery. Carakale is “bringing the tradition of beer back to its roots in Mesopotamia where beer was discovered over 7 centuries ago.” This new microbrewery is certainly putting Jordan on the map because the “Man Behind the Beer,” Yazan Kardsheh, sources top quality raw ingredients. Karadsheh returned home to Jordan after spending years working in the beer scene in Colorado and enrolling in the Master of Brewing program at the University of California, Davis. The name Carakale is a tribute to the rare species of cat, Caracal, which can be found from Jordan down through the Rift Valley into Africa. Karadsheh has come long way since his first job cleaning kegs and returned to Jordan in 2009 to build Carakale from the ground up. The microbrewery is located in the hills of Jordan’s Fuhais Canyon, and distributes to numerous bars throughout the country. The majority of the bars I went to in Jordan always carried Carakale’s flagship beer, the Blonde Ale. This straw-gold Blonde Ale is a perfect introduction into the world of ale, and starts off with a hint of toasted malt character followed by a hint of bitterness and a clean finish. The Blond Ale is especially delicious paired with peanuts, which are always served at bars in Jordan. Other craft beers in the Carakale repertoire include the Winter Ale, Whiskey Ale, Pale Ale and Mocha Stout. If you find yourself traveling in Jordan, sipping on a Carakale Blonde Ale will not disappoint. I’m looking forward to seeing how this brewery will impact the craft beer scene in the Middle East and beyond. Cheers to Yazan Kardsheh for turning his passion for craft beer into a reality! Top image via Chris Travel Blog Blog previously posted on...

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Cycling Tour of Cape Greco in Cyprus

Posted by on Oct 24, 2015 in Travel | 1 comment

Cycling Tour of Cape Greco in Cyprus

If you’re into cycling, one of my favorite tours was through the Cape Greco National Forest Park. This park was founded in 1993, and is nestled midway between the busy resorts of Ayia Napa and Protaras. Cycling is definitely an affordable and fun way to explore a new area. For only 5 euros, I rented a bicycle for 24 hours from a local shop in Ayia Napa. The bicycle was complete with a basket and lock. What a deal! Courtney and I set out for our adventure with our first stop being the Sea Caves. This was by far the highlight of our tour. After cycling up a few steep hills and on dirt roads, we reached the Sea Caves drenched in sweat. If I could do it all over again, I would pack more water, beers and a proper picnic lunch. If you’re interested in visiting the Sea Caves, make sure you have sturdy water shoes. You’ll be scaling walls and climbing down rocks to get to the sea – but I can assure you, the risk is totally worth it! The water is so blue and clear that you can see all the way to the bottom. As you’re swimming, you’ll be surrounded by natural caves that have been carved out by the sea. The coolest place I’ve ever been swimming is definitely the Ayia Napa Sea Caves. The second stop on our cycling tour was the famous Cape Greco, a natural bridge that sits over the Mediterrannean Sea. Apparently you aren’t allowed to climb on the bridge, but I was feeling a little rebellious. It’s so interesting to see this natural structure and to stand on top of it is just something else! Just down the hill from Cape Greco is a quaint Grecian style church that’s definitely worth seeing. It overlooks the sea, and you’ll most likely make friends with one of the many cats lounging on the cool stone floor. After cycling for many hours in the afternoon’s hot sun, we went to Protaras Beach to relax. It’s the perfect way to end a cycling tour of the beautiful Cape Greco Park. I highly suggest this cycling tour if you’re at an intermediate level due to the amount of hills and...

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Top Five Favorite Georgian Foods

Posted by on Oct 19, 2015 in Eat, Travel | 0 comments

Top Five Favorite Georgian Foods

When traveling in Georgia, you must try traditional Georgian food. Here are my top five favorites after exploring the country for two weeks.  1. Khinkali  Because khinkali.  I dedicated a whole blog post to this delicious Georgian dumpling. It’s fun to eat and tastes delicious. Bite a small hole into the dumpling’s thick skin, slurp out the soup, enjoy the minced meat filling and repeat. How many do you think you can eat? 2. Adjaruli Khachapuri  I’m on a boat – a cheesy, gooey bread boat!  Khachapuri is a traditional Georgian dish of bread and cheese. The bread is leavened and allowed to rise, then shaped in various ways. Adjaruli khachapuri is from the Ajara region of Georgia. It is shaped like a boat and the inside is filled with cheese. The best part? It’s topped with a raw egg and loads of butter before serving. Adjaruli khachapuri might just be better than pizza! (I can’t believe I just said that.) 3. Churchkhela   When you’re starving and need a quick snack, churchkhela always saves the day. This “Georgian Snickers” is a traditional candy originating from the Caucasus region. It is a very popular food, combining two of Georgia’s favorites – grapes and nuts.  4. Badrijani Nigvzit I totally fell in love with this dish while traveling in Georgia. Badrijani nigvzit is a perfect appetizer, which consists of eggplants stuffed with a garlic-walnut filling. The eggplants are first browned in an oiled skillet and then set aside to cool. A delicious filling of crushed walnuts, garlic, vinegar, cilantro and other herbs is spread on one side of the eggplants, and then rolled up to enclose the filling inside. This dish is served chilled and is the perfect start to a traditional Georgian meal. 5. Veal Ribs with Spicy Tomato Sauce  Georgian food consists of many delicious barbecued meats. My favorite meat dish was at a restaurant in Kutaisi. The dish included veal ribs that were smothered in a spicy tomato sauce. This sauce is commonly found throughout Georgia and served with barbecued...

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Khinkali: Georgian Dumplings

Posted by on Oct 18, 2015 in Eat, Travel | 0 comments

Khinkali: Georgian Dumplings

In Georgia, khinkali is a staple menu item and available at most Georgian restaurants. These “Georgian dumplings” are usually filled with minced meat or cheese, but some newer restaurants offer other types of khinkali filled with mixed vegetables, mushrooms and more.   Khinkali reminds me of the typical Shanghai soup dumplings I’ve eaten quite often in New York City’s Chinatown, however, the dumpling skin of khinkali is much thicker and it’s eaten differently. During my stay in Georgia, I learned from my friend Sopho that legend has it among the younger generation, “Eating kinkali is how you make out with someone.” Now, every time I eat khinkali I just laugh and that’s all I think about!  Most restaurants have a minimum number of khinkali you can order, which I found is often five. The locals joke around about how many they can eat at one sitting. Our friend George says 20 khinkali is about his max! For me, it was about six. Just never try to order two khinkali at a restaurant or the waiter might laugh at you (learned that the hard way). So, how do you eat khinkali? You hold the top part of the khinkali with your right hand, and lift the bottom part with your left hand. Slowly and carefully, bite a small hole in the khinkali and began sucking out the soup. Gradually work your way around the khinkali, repeating the process. I also learned that you should not eat the top part of khinkali (the part you hold). The dough is very thick and locals say the “peasants” of Georgia only eat this part. Personally, my favorite khinkali is the one filled with meat (lamb or beef), cilantro, onions, parsley and dill. Of course, you have to sprinkle a hefty amount of black pepper on top like the locals do when eating khinkali.  I highly recommend trying khinkali if you can find it in your city, or just book a plane ticket to...

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