Friday, September 26, 2014

Modern Expat Love

I met Hub back in 2009 at a time when I wasn't really looking for love. I was just out of a complicated long-term relationship and looking forward to being single again. My gals and I were invited to a Shoreditch House pool party and I caught Hub mad starin' at me from across the pool. Naturally I played coy. Turned out to be our longest date ever and carried on into the next morning. Winky wink.

Santa Teresa di Gallura '10

Fast forward a few years and we decided to take it to the next level. We moved into an unfurnished apartment and then a few months later I was fired. Not only was I devastated and depressed, but I had exactly 60 days to submit a new application for a visa or return to the US. I won't go into detail on the difficulty of getting a work visa, but I will say that the pressure was almost too much to bare. Sixty days turned into 40 days and I was running out of time. What's strange is that the thought of returning home never felt like a option. In addition to losing my spirit, I wasn't about to lose my love and the life that I had built too. So Hub and I had a serious chat and one sunny afternoon, I got a text saying let's go to the registry office. Four weeks later I was Mrs. Hewitt.

At the time I wanted to downplay the whole thing because it wasn't my dream scenario. Although Hub and I had previously talked about getting married someday, there was no kneeling, no engagement party, no Facebook status change followed by numerous congratulations. Does that sound silly? What's even more ridiculous is how I thought nothing would change between us after the civil ceremony, that we would just carry on as boyfriend and girlfriend. We quietly celebrated our Camden Town Hall nuptials with immediate family and a small group of friends. And then poof! Everything changed overnight. We grew closer, more connected. It was kind of wonderful.

The following year Hub and I went back to Santa Teresa di Gallura and he got down on one knee and proposed. I was so surprised, I bursted into tears! So on our wedding invitations, we wrote this:

After almost three years of civil marriage
And nearly two years of engagement
We would like to invite you to our wedding

I love our unconventional wedding story, I feel like it's very us. We experienced two wonderfully unique and different weddings to each other and what's interesting is it seems to be pretty common amongst our expat couple friends. I guess it's just modern expat love.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Gettin' Over the Hump

We're almost there but not quite and yet kind of already there. I say throw in the towel, minimize your Outlook inbox and read about health s*&t instead! Here are few entertaining hump links that will hopefully get you through today, tomorrow or at the very least tickle your hypothalamus.

Lots of Love,

I like this meat-lovin' chef who eats vegan 6-days a week.

Never got round to the Lake District in England, but if I ever do I'm staying at this vegetarian country house hotel.

In elementary school I gravitated towards chocolate and strawberry flavored milk, but pediatrician Paul Porras says milk has no place in schools.

Will attempt these gooey chocolate pumpkin brownies someday.

Great Q&A about Carbs and Fat.

(Mini carrot cakes pictured above are from Exmouth Coffee Company in Whitechapel, East London. Don't worry I didn't eat them, just took a picture and now drooling over them)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The CCBB: Dalí Exhibition

How was your weekend? Ours was great and on Saturday we checked out the Salvador Dalí exhibition at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil.  I'd never been before and the museum is also across the street from the infamous Candelária Church.

We took the metro to Uruguaiana station and I was taken aback by how sketchy the neighborhood felt. Centro is basically the midtown of Rio, but it's surprisingly rundown and not safe.

Did you ever hear about the Candelária massacre? In the 1990s homeless people and street children would gather outside the church in the evenings and sleep there at night. On July 23, 1993 a group of men including military police opened fire on more than 60 children and killed eight of them at this church. The incident caused an uproar in Brasil, but only two men were convicted.

The church was closed that day, but it's suppose to be beautiful inside. The outside looks bleak and the homeless still come here and sleep. Outside the church there are eight small figures in memory of the children who died during the massacre.

We crossed the square towards the CCBB and there was a massive line wrapped around the building, but it was quick. It was so strange to see the contrast between the glum surroundings of the church and then middle-upper class expats/Cariocas waiting to see a modern art exhibition. It's so representative of class divides in Rio.  

Salvador Dalí is one of my favorite artists. I'm always amazed by his attention to detail and the fact that he could translate visions in his mind onto canvas with such accuracy. Crazy. Definitely a man I would have at my dream dinner party. 

I thought the exhibition was fantastic because it was a diverse collection of works and stuff I'd never seen before. Here are a few of my favorite pieces.

Hub doing his best bug-eye Dalí impression.

We had a fantastic weekend, but it rained all Sunday so my vegan picnic was a no-go. Hub and I stayed in all day and polished off the rest of those dark chocolate chili brownies. Winners.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dark Chocolate Chili Brownies

TGIF people. What you up to this weekend?

My friend Elisa invited me to 14º Veganique/Piquenique on Sunday, a vegan picnic that's taking place in Boa Vista which is up in the mountains in Rio. It's also where Hub and I had that epic raw dinner. Everyone has to bring a vegan dish and originally I wanted to make classic chocolate brownies, but then I had a dream about Mexican chili chocolate. I woke up inspired to make dark chocolate chili brownies! I did a test batch today and they were awesome. 

my working station

  • 2 cups whole wheat spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 -1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how much heat you like
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 tsp chunky sea salt
  • 1 cup sweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • handful of walnuts
  • handful of roughly chopped extra dark vegan chocolate, 70% or higher
Preheat your oven to 350F/175C. Line a 9x11 inch baking tray with parchment paper and grease it with a little bit of oil. In a large bowl add the soy milk and oil and set aside. In a separate bowl combine the cocoa powder, sugar and chili then gradually mix this into your wet ingredients. The mixture should be a thick chocolaty mix. 

Now combine the spelt flour, baking powder and sea salt in a bowl and gradually mix this into your chocolaty mix using a wooden spoon or spatula.

All you want to do is combine the ingredients well. Don't over beat your batter. 

The batter should be thick, sticky and heavy. Have a taste of your batter and it should be rich, subtly sweet with a hint of chili and sea salt. Mix in your walnuts and dark chocolate chips then spread evenly into your baking dish. 

Bake for 20 minutes and voila! The brownies have a dark intense chocolaty flavor and then a mild fiery kick. So delicious!

Helpful links for this post:
Which do you prefer cakey, chewy or fudgy brownies?
3 ways to make chocolate brownies
My recipe was modified from this yummy recipe

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Sardinian Wedding

Hub and I got married on Saturday, 6th September in Santa Teresa di Gallura, a small fishing village off the northern coast of Sardinia. It was the first place we went on holiday together and where we got engaged. I always dreamed of having a destination wedding and we both agreed that it was the perfect backdrop for our nuptials.

Hub and I booked 10 days in Sardinia and we invited all our guests to join us at any point for a holiday. At first we were a little anxious about hosting everyone. We really wanted our friends and family to feel welcomed and relaxed in Santa Teresa, especially since they were all travelling from England, South Africa and the US to be with us. 

We planned a few excursions for our group and at the top of our list was dinner at a mareturismo. Sardinia is known for their agriturismos, farm based restaurants that serve local traditional fare where everything on the table is produce on the farm. It's such a lovely concept and everything from the Gallurese cheese to the Sardinian digestif mirto is made right there. So when we discovered the mareturismo Locanda dei Mori in Santa Teresa, which is similar but serves locally caught seafood instead of meat and pork, we were thrilled.

the marrying of two families

That evening was amazing and so Italian! The owner Michele was wonderful and he served us a feast of like 15 dishes. It was insane and absolutely delicious!

The following day a small group of us went on a boat tour of the Maddalena Islands and their stunning little beaches.

The rest of the week was dedicated to sunbathing on Reina Bianca beach and EATING. Prior to the trip I was trying out a vegan diet (more on that later), but in Santa Teresa I indulged in seafood. I love seafood and Gallurese cuisine is so deliciously healthy - fresh seafood with vegetables cooked simply with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. I was in heaven.

Half of our guests arrived early on in the week, while the remaining joined us for a long weekend and for our welcoming lunch on the Friday. We asked the owner Maurizio of Le Marlin Pizzeria to create a relaxed buffet for our guests, but he surprised us with a beautiful display of seafood pastas, vegetarian pizzas and all kinds of tasty nibbles. It was pretty amazing!

the groom and his ushers

our church San Vittorio Parish

our picture spot at La Madonna

We have yet to receive our official photos from our main photographer Angelo, but here are a few shots taken by his partner and our friends. 

I look forward to sharing our official photos with you, the story of Hub and I and all the little details that went into planning our dream wedding.


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