The Hoffmans Are Moving to Girona (aka Why It Was Time To Leave Asia)

The Hoffmans Are Moving to Girona (aka Why It Was Time To Leave Asia)

After spending most of the last four years in Southeast Asia, we felt it was finally time to leave Asia. As often happens, not only did we feel a little Life ADD kick in, but we realized we wanted some more comforts, and a different experience. Over the last 5 years, we’ve explored Central and Eastern Europe and Central America. We made Ubud, Bali, our home base for awhile. And, we kept an apartment in Bangkok. While living in Bali and living in Bangkok we continued to explore Asia, made frequent trips to Europe, and even took a culinary road trip across the U.S. But, even when we had these apartments, they never fully felt like home. We always referred to them as our home base, rather than our home. There were a lot of reasons for that, but in the end it meant we had one foot in and one foot out, and continued to feel like we were living a somewhat nomadic lifestyle. We left our apartment in Bangkok at the end of February, and have been on the move for the last 3 months. Within weeks of leaving, I knew we needed to find a new home base. I was tired of carrying everything we owned with us. In fact, over the last 3 months, I’ve managed to shed some of our possessions, in both Italy and Ireland, with a promise that we will be back soon for them. Overall, I was exhausted. I needed a home. And, I needed something more than just a home base. After a little deliberation, we are proud to announce,...
How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

How They Make Parma Ham in Emilia Romagna

When I started traveling to Italy, I always wondered how they actually make Parma Ham. When I walked around any small town in Italy I always saw large legs of ham hanging from the ceiling. More often than not, they were stamped with a crown shaped marking that bears a single word: “Parma.” But, how did they get there? What is Prosciutto di Parma Prosciutto di Parma, or more generally, Parma ham, has been around since Roman times. There are stories from 100 BC referencing the unique flavor of the air-dried pork from the area surrounding Parma. At the time, pork was dried to extend its life and prevent it from spoiling. A group of Parma ham producers created a Consortium, Consorzio del Prosciutto di Parma, in the 1970s, to control the quality of prosciutto. In 1996, the European Union gave the DOP designation on Prosciutto di Parma. Like all DOP and IGP products, the Consortium regulates the types of pigs that can be used, what the pigs are fed, and how the ham itself is produced. What Are The Ingredients in Parma Ham The Consortium likes to say there are only four ingredients in Parma ham: Italian pigs, salt, air, and time. In reality it’s really only two ingredients, although air and time are also key components. Parma ham is made by curing a leg of pork with nothing but sea salt. This increases the tenderness of the meat, and gives it a characteristic sweet flavor. The production process is overseen by a maestro salatore, or salt master, which has to be the coolest sounding title for a...
Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

Unique Foods to Eat in Emilia Romagna

For many Americans who dream of traveling to Italy, images come to mind of Napoli style pizza, or large platters of pasta slathered in red tomato sauce. This is very common in the cuisine in the south of Italy, areas that include Sicily, Puglia, and of course, Naples. But, the food of the north is entirely unique. Emilia Romagna includes the cities of Bologna, Parma, and Modena. It is host to an entirely different style of Italian cuisine. The question is: what to eat in Emilia Romagna? Because there are some truly unique dishes to try! The Unique Pasta You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Some of the more common pasta dishes you will eat in Emilia Romagna include tortellini, tagliatelle, and gnocchi. But, there is a pasta called passatelli, which is particular to Emilia Romagna. It’s virtually unheard of outside of Italy. A traditional pasta that is thicker than many others, it tastes a lot more dense. Passatelli is made with Parmigiano Reggiano, bread crumbs, egg, flour, and sometimes nutmeg. It’s most common to find passatelli served in a broth, which is the traditional preparation. However, passatelli is also served “dry,” without a broth, often mixed with fresh vegetables or meats. It is getting increasingly more difficult to find on menus in Emilia Romagna because it is so expensive to make. All of that Parmigiano Reggiano adds up. If you only eat one pasta in Emilia Romagna (although why would you want to do that?) passatelli is the one to try! The “Meat Breads” You Must Eat in Emilia Romagna Almost every restaurant, trattoria, or osteria in Emilia Romagna offers a...
How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

How To Rent an Apartment in Florence

We are big proponents of renting an apartment when we travel. Sure, when only staying in a city for a few nights, it’s often easier to just check into an hotel. But, when we are staying a bit longer, we prefer to rent an apartment. It gives us more space, and makes us feel a little better about getting to know a city. Because we haven’t been to Florence in about a decade, we knew we would be reorienting ourselves in the city. It was the perfect place to test out how to rent an apartment in Florence. But, before booking any holiday rental, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. Here’s are our tips. Ensure The Apartment Has The Right Amenities Obviously, for us, being digital nomads means WIFI comes first! After that, we look for apartments that meet our needs, including a washing machine, and a full kitchen. We also like having a bedroom that is separate from the living room. This means we can separate our work lives a little more from our personal space. When staying in a hotel, we are often working from bed. That can be fun, but at times I want more space. When traveling on a holiday, people often have differing needs. Something to consider when renting an apartment in Florence is accessibility. We were on the top floor of our building, and needed to carry our luggage up the stairs. Most old buildings in an old city like Florence don’t have elevators. If you carry large bags, or are traveling with someone of limited mobility, it’s best to request...
The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna

It’s finally here! After hinting for the last several months, and after a full year of hard work, my first culinary travel guide is here! Introducing The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy ! ! It’s no secret that Eric and I love Italy, and about three years ago, we discovered Emilia Romagna. Since that time, we have made five visits to the region, that encompasses Bologna, Modena, Parma, and more. Why do we love this region so much? Emilia Romagna is home to some of the best food, and food products, in the world. It is home to Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, traditional balsamic vinegar, and more. It is the home to Slow Food and Fast Cars. It is home to amazing wines, including world famous Lambrusco, and some Italy’s secret wines, including Negretto and Albana. It almost kills me when people tell me they are traveling to Italy and limiting their trip to Rome or Venice. There is so much more to see of the country than the primary tourist spots. I do understand the draw to those cities. I understand wanting to see the Coliseum, or the Bridge of Signs. But, after Rome and Venice, where should you travel to in order to experience the REAL Italy? Where should you travel to in order to eat the best food in Italy? The obvious answer is: Emilia Romagna! And, my new The Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna can help you plan the perfect trip through the breadbasket of Italy. In a full 250 pages of culinary...
Where To Eat in Europe in 2017

Where To Eat in Europe in 2017

It’s mid January, and we have virtually none of our 2017 travel plans in place. That is a little unusual for us. We know we are flying to Berlin in March, and will be eating our way through Costa Brava again in April. But, other than that, things are pretty up in the air. I do know we need a little break from Bangkok. I’ve been dreaming about European food and wine, and part of our planning seems to be focused on where to eat in Europe in 2017. I found this infographic about where to travel in Europe in 2017. Although this list is for overall travel, HomeToGo also had a specific list on where to travel to eat in Europe in 2017 as well. I was surprised at how similar their list was to the cities I would like to travel to this year.  Our Top 5 Cities to Eat in Europe in 2017 Barcelona and Catalunya We love Barcelona! It’s one of our favorites cities to visit, and has been for years. We love exploring the tapas bars, and drinking cava at adorable little champagne bars. But, there are loads of fabulous places to eat in Catalunya as well. Just one of the areas of Catalunya worth exploring is Costa Brava, which runs north from Girona to the French border. Luckily, we will be returning to Costa Brava this April, for an entire month of drinking Emporda wine and eating Catalan seafood. We can’t wait! Bologna and Emilia Romagna It’s no secret that we love traveling and eating in Emilia Romagna, the Italian region that includes Bologna, Modena, Parma,...
Our New Food Traveler's Guide to Emilia Romagna is available on Amazon now!