Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cake of the Week: Pink Velvet Raspberry Cheesecake

You may have heard we had a bit of a snowstorm here on the East Coast last weekend. I worked from home on Friday, fitting in a mid-day tempo run just as the first flakes began to fall. By Friday night it was a blizzard, and by Saturday morning the outside world was a blur of of whitish gray with earth, trees, houses, and cars barely differentiated from the sky.

Sunday was all clear and blindingly sun-shiny, but my usually mobile urban life was severely and snowfully restricted. There was literally no public transportation open all weekend and just walking (or more accurately, trekking/plodding/swimming through feet of heavy powder) a couple blocks constituted an epic journey.

But journey I did! After two days of barely leaving the house I needed to get outside. And like the crazy person I am, I needed to run. So I tramped to a gym, paid a drop-in fee, and found myself treadmill'ing next to SpeedyKate for fourteen miles .

Strategic distractions aside (X-Games viewing, episode 3 of Serial, and many many songs on Pandora's No Diggity station), spending fourteen miles on a treadmill gives one a lot of time to think. So I thought about cheesecake. And then I journeyed home and made it happen.

I have concocted many a cheesecake in my day, but this might be the best one yet. It is super light and creamy, much more mousse-like than the New York style heavy cheesy cheesecake. The buttermilk, vinegar, and hint of raspberries makes it delightfully tangy but the Oreo crust is there to remind you that this is definitely a decadent dessert.

To be honest, the whole raspberry part wasn't planned, but rather a reaction to the fact that I never have red food coloring. And I'm so glad that was the case! There is still some food coloring in this cake (I mixed some pink and magenta and yellow and brown like the mad scientist/artist that I am), but the raspberries add such a nice hint of flavor! And the cake really is beautiful, no?

Pink Velvet Raspberry Cheesecake

  • Crust 
    • 2 cups Oreo crumbs (about 20 normal Oreos)
    • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • Cheesecake filling
    • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature (three 8 oz packages)
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3 tablespoons cocoa
    • 4 eggs, room temperature
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1/4 cup buttermilk
    • 2 tsp vinegar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/3 cup raspberries (either fresh or frozen and thawed), blended in a food processor to smooth out the seeds
    • Pink or red food coloring (optional)
  • Whipped Cream
    • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a food processor combine Oreos and butter until it looks like sand.
  3. Press mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  4. Bake crust for 10 minutes.
  5. Cheesecake filling: Reduce oven to 300 degrees.
  6. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa with an electric mixer until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  8. In a food processor or blender, puree the raspberries and buttermilk until smooth.
  9. Add the sour cream, buttermilk/raspberries, vinegar, vanilla extract, and food color (if using) to the main bowl. Beat until well combined.
  10. Pour the filling into the crust.
  11. Fill a pan (like a 8x8 or something like that, the size doesn't really matter) with water and place it on a lower rack in the oven.
  12. Put the cheesecake in the oven on a middle rack.
  13. Bake for 2 hours. To see if it's done, gently shake the cake -- if the center looks liquidy then keep baking.
  14. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in oven with the door closed for 30 minutes.
  15. Crack open the oven door and leave the cheesecake in there for another 20 minutes.
  16. Remove the cheesecake from the oven and cool on a wire rack (in the fridge if you're in a hurry, or overnight -- cheesecake is actually best made one day in advance). The cheesecake should be completely cooled before the whipped cream part. 
  17. Whipped Cream: With a mixer on high, whip the cream until soft peaks form. Mix in the powdered sugar and vanilla until it's thick, then smooth on the top of the cake. 
  18. To serve, run a knife under warm water before slicing.
  19. YUM.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

I can't say I'm much of a football fan (shocking I know from a girl who blogs about books and baked goods). I'm not anti-football, I'm just indifferent as to who throws a thing or kicks a thing or wins or loses or runs where on the field over an insanely stop-and-start 5-hour televised experience.

Football related snacks, however, are a completely different story! I will cheer for whomever's team of choice if there are ample snacks provided. And I'm happy to do some snack providing of my own.

Recently my roommates and I hosted a huge pre-football brunch. Chilaquiles, pancakes, eggs, cinnamon rolls, and bacon. So. Much. Bacon. As the crew settled into couches and chairs in a food-coma football daze, Steph and I decided that the time was finally right for a much-anticipated bacon chocolate chip cookie experience.

The bacon is candied!!!

But how much bacon is enough? How much is too much? Like the (mad) scientist we are, we decided to conduct some A-B testing.

The base recipe is compliments of Steph's recipe box (have I mentioned that I now live with another avid baker!?). We made half the recipe as "Medium Bacon" cookies -- meaning that they included ample candied bacon. The other half -- "Very Bacon" -- we took things to a whole other level and used bacon grease instead of butter (I KNOW), in addition to the candied bacon pieces.

We thought there would be a clear winner, but results were shockingly mixed! "They're chewy and crispy at the same time!" shouted one friend. "So much bacon," sighed another. "Just so much bacon."

I preferred the Very Bacon version, while there were others who preferred the Medium Bacon. We concluded that if you're going to eat multiple cookies at once then the Medium Bacon were the better choice, while the Very Bacon were more intense and thus more of a one-off eating experience.

I'll leave the recipe choice up to you. Either way, these are an excellent contribution to any party, football or otherwise.

Candied Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1 package (12 oz) bacon
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cups whole or rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups (1 bag) chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup butter (OR 3/4 cup solid cooled bacon grease -- note that we had bacon grease reserved from our morning bacon experience)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  1. To candy the bacon: Lay bacon strips on a baking sheet with raised edges (so the grease doesn't ruin the inside of your oven). Mix maple syrup and brown sugar and brush over bacon. Bake at 350 degrees until crispy (20-ish minutes). Once bacon is cooled, use your hands to break them into little pieces. 
  2. To powder the oats: Pulse the oats in a blender until coarsely ground.
  3. To make the cookies: Mix sugars and butter (or bacon grease). 
  4. Mix in egg and vanilla.
  5. Mix in dry ingredients (dough will be very crumbly, you may need to use your hands).
  6. Mix in bacon pieces and chocolate chips. 
  7. Using your hands, form dough into 2-tablespoon sized balls and place on a baking sheet.
  8. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 
  9. Cool and enjoy!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Homemade Marshmallows

Making marshmallows is like making magic. Watch the silky soft semi-translucent peaks of egg whites transform into thick and shiny white swirls of marshmallow before your eyes. Create a substantial and yet pillowy light something, then slowly but surely watch it dissolves into nothing when plopped into a mug of hot chocolate. Sounds like sorcery or legerdemain, but really it's simple science and love. 

When most people think about marshmallows, they think toasted s'mores around a campfire, they think a handful of those mini dry things in their hot chocolate, they think Lucky Charms cereal or Easter Peeps or some other kid's candy. And don't me wrong, those are all great things. But what if we thought about marshmallows as something a little more sophisticated? A homemade confection, coming in limitless flavors, to be eaten alone as a bonbon or luxuriously melting into a mug of hot chocolate or coffee. A gift for friends, a treat worth bringing to a party. That is the kind of marshmallow I'm talking about. 

The mass-produced kind are fine, but homemade marshmallows will change your life. Or, your marshmallow life at least. They're so fun to make, require minimal ingredients, and once you start making your own you'll never go back. Here's a basic vanilla recipe. You can also experiment with different extracts for different flavors -- imagine a peppermint marshmallow in your hot chocolate! An almond marshmallow covered in coconut flakes! This really is the perfect winter treat. 

Vanilla Marshmallows

  • 2 envelopes powdered gelatin 
  • 1/2 cup + 1/3 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water until it's dissolved (do this before you start anything else -- it can sit for a while). 
  2. In a small pot over medium heat, mix the sugar and corn syrup with 1/3 cup water. Place a candy thermometer on the side of the pot. 
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer) beat egg whites until frothy, then add a pinch of salt.
  4. When the syrup in the pot reaches 210ºF/99ºC, increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat the whites until stiff peaks form (see this image if you're not sure what that means).
  5. When the syrup reaches 245ºF/118ºC remove the pot from the stove and slowly pour the hot syrup into the whites while the mixer is running on high (if you're using a hand mixer you'll probably need a trusty assistant to hold the mixer while you pour).
  6. Scrape the gelatin/water, which should be pretty solid, into the pot that you used for the syrup (no need to wash it hooray!). Warm it until it melts to liquid. 
  7. Pour the liquified gelatin slowly into the whites as the mixer is running (again, you may need a trusty assistant). Add the vanilla extract and continue to whip for at least 5 minutes, until the outside of the bowl feels completely cool when you touch it. 
  8. Mix powdered sugar and corn starch in a small bowl. Use a sifter to thoroughly and completely dust a 9x13 pan with the mixture (you don't want any of the pan showing, or else the marshmallows will stick). You should use about 2/3 of the mixture.
  9. Use a spatula to spread the marshmallows in a layer on the pan. Allow to dry uncovered for at least 4 hours, or overnight. 
  10. Dust the top of the marshmallows with the rest of the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture. Use a pizza cutter or scissors to cut the marshmallows into any size or shape pieces that you’d like. I prefer large squares about the size of a coffee mug -- you can imagine why. Roll the edges in the powdered sugar/corn starch mixture to make sure they're not sticky on any sides. 
  11. Shake the marshmallows in a wire strainer to remove the excess powder.
  12. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.
  13. ENJOY!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Literary Bite: My Favorite Quotes This Year

Nowadays I'm a sorry excuse for a blogger. But life sometimes gets in the way -- you understand -- and the more momentum you lose on a project so finicky as writing, the harder it is to get it back. 

I write to you now from Tahoe, two days after Christmas (362 sleeps 'til next Christmas!). I have this week off of work and have truly epic plans of reading, sleeping, making and eating delicious treats, reading more, sleeping even more, skiing a couple days, and probably going on some chilly but much-needed (in light of all the eating) runs. Yep, I live the dream. 

You may have noticed that the literary portion of this blog has pretty much ceased to exist. Which is an interesting turn of events considering that unlike running, travel, and baking -- activities I love but for various reasons do not always do consistently -- reading is a constant. Granted, for the past couple years grad school reading supplanted most (but not all!) of my fun fiction reading. Though now that I'm a back to full time real person-ing (aka working a normal job), there's really no excuse. 

So enough chit-chat. Back to business. Or something like that.

When I come across a passage I like, I take a picture on my phone (it's way easier than copying out a quote), then save those in a folder for future reference. This folder often just exists, but can be nice to look back at and figure out what it was that struck me about any given phrase, sentence, page, or paragraph. Thus, in lieu reviewing each book I read this year, instead I'd like to share with you my favorite quotes from the best books I read. I recommend reading them out loud -- good ideas are best when heard as well as read.

My Favorite Quotes (and books) of 2015

  • “That's the way it is in life. You let go of what is beautiful and unique. You pursue something new and don't even know that the wind of your own running is a thief.” Sena Jeter Naslund, Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer

  • I would cry my cry to you if you were here. But you are not. Therefore it must be to Florence. Florence must be the one to suffer these moments when a veritable blast of fear goes out from me scorching the leaf on the bough. "It will be all right": those are the words I want to hear uttered. - J.M. Coetzee, Age of Iron
  • "a wretched set of incompetent noodles." - Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost
  • I love to recall when you were one year old and you took your first steps and you fell on your bottom and cried, surprised at the hardness of the wood floor. The first stomp of your tomboy foot. The day you came in with the firewood and stood in the doorway, almost taller than I, and you said that you would be leaving soon, and I asked where and you replied to me: Exactly. - Colm McCann, Zoli
  • Colman put back his head and roared. "Being with you," he said, "is just like being with myself. Only better." - Ruth Reichl, Comfort Me with Apples
  • “So few American novels have happy endings. Perhaps this is not surprising in a nation whose declaration of independence provides its citizens not with the right to happiness, but the right to its pursuit.” - Azar Nafizi, The Republic of Imagination

  • “I think about pinball, and how being a kid’s like being shot up the firing lane and there’s no veering left or right; or you’re just sort of propelled. But once you clear the top, like when you’re sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen, suddenly there’s a thousand different paths you can take, some amazing, others not. Tiny little differences in angles and speed’ll totally alter what happens to you later, so a fraction of an inch to the right, and the ball’ll just hit a pinger and a dinger and fly down between your flippers, no messing, a waste of 10 p. But a fraction to the left and it’s action in the play zone, bumpers and kickers, ramps and slingshots and fame on the high-score table.”  - David Michell, The Bone Clocks
  • “It was one of those humid days when the atmosphere gets confused. Sitting on the porch, you could feel it: the air wishing it was water.” Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
  • “Furthermore, unlike many other great predators of history, from Genghis Khan to the Spanish conquistadors, King Leopold II never saw a drop of blood spilled in anger. He never set foot in the Congo. There is something very modern about that, too, as there is about the bomber pilot in the stratosphere, above the clouds, who never hears screams or sees shattered homes or torn flesh.” - Adam Hochschild, King Leopold's Ghost
  • “the most powerful mind is the quiet mind. It is the mind that is present, reflective, mindful of its thoughts and its state. It doesn’t often multitask, and when it does, it does so with a purpose.” - Maria Konnikova, Mastermind

  • “Pragmatists are sometimes more prone to illusion than dreamers; when they fall for something, they fall hard, not knowing how to protect themselves, while we dreamers are more practiced in surviving the disillusionment that follows when we wake up from our dreams.” - Azar Nafizi, The Republic of Imagination
  • “Emotions, in my experience, aren't covered by single words. I don't believe in "sadness," "joy," or "regret." Maybe the best proof that the language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I'd like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say, "the happiness that attends disaster." Or: "the disappointment of sleeping with one's fantasy." I'd like to show how "intimations of mortality brought on by aging family members" connects with "the hatred of mirrors that begins in middle age." I'd like to have a word for "the sadness inspired by failing restaurants" as well as for "the excitement of getting a room with a minibar." I've never had the right words to describe my life, and now that I've entered my story, I need them more than ever. ” Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
  • “If an atrocity isn't written about, it stops existing when the last witnesses die. That's what I can't stand. If a mass shooting, a bomb, a whatever, is written about, then at least it's made a tiny dent in the world's memory. Someone, somewhere, some time, has a chance of learning what happened. And, just maybe, acting on it. Or not. But at least it's there.”  - David Michell, The Bone Clocks
  • “Whereas I, even now, persist in believing that these black marks on white paper bear the greatest significance, that if I keep writing I might be able to catch the rainbow of consciousness in a jar.” Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Best Flourless Chocolate Cake + Major Life Updates

It's been a long time! Last time I blogged I was in Europe. Wow. Since then I've been based in Cambridge and had a summer-full of adventures in Newport, Tahoe, Sonoma County, San Francisco, and New Hampshire.

And I'm happy to announce that my next and more permanent stop is DC! Because a) I just couldn't stay away, but more accurately b) I got a job. So I'll be re-joining the full-time work force, two years older, a Master's degree smarter, and many friends richer, back in the lovely city where I started.

To celebrate, of course, I baked a cake. Earlier in the summer I made a flourless chocolate cake which other people liked, but I thought it was dry and just not very good. So I vowed to keep trying until I found a better recipe.

Well I don't need to search any longer! This recipe comes from my friend Caroline, who claims it's THE BEST. And you know what? She's right.

This cake is like the love child of a traditional super-rich and fudgy flourless chocolate cake and a light toasty-edged angel food cake. You definitely get the satisfying decadent chocolateyness, but because the egg whites are beaten and folded in, the cake puffs up and is almost spongey around the edges.

I served it with homemade whipped cream (try adding rum instead of vanilla) and raspberries. And I will definitely be making this again.

Fallen Chocolate Cake



  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1” pieces, plus more, room temperature, for pan
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar, divided, plus more for pan
  • 10 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (61%–72% cacao), coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9" springform pan.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, chocolate, oil, and ½ cup butter. Microwave for 45 seconds at a time, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.
  3. Separate 4 eggs, placing whites and yolks in separate medium bowls. Add cocoa powder, vanilla, salt, ¼ cup sugar, and remaining 2 eggs to bowl with yolks and whisk until mixture is smooth. Gradually whisk yolk mixture into chocolate mixture, blending well.
  4. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until frothy. With mixer running, gradually beat in ½ cup sugar; beat until firm peaks form.
  5. Gently fold egg whites into chocolate mixture in 2 additions, folding just until incorporated between additions. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth top and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar.
  6. Bake until top is puffed and starting to crack and cake is pulling away from edge of pan, 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool completely in pan (cake will collapse in the center and crack further as it cools).

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Montenegro and Croatia: Eating the Adriatic

Alright, time for what you've all been waiting to read about: the food! ERMG the food! Warning: if you don't love seafood, this is not the post for you. But if you do, read on friends and prepare to die of jealousy/experience an insatiable urge to buy a flight the Dalmatian Coast now now.

I think we'll do this photo-slideshow style, with a brief introductory note. I was far more impressed by the food in Budva, Montenegro, than that in Dubrovnik, Croatia. Like many tourist destinations, I felt like Dubrovnik's food was solidly ok but a bit overpriced (relative to the region of course). If, like almost everyone in Dubrovnik, I was on my honeymoon and happily spending all the dollars (or kuna, as it were), then I think the fancy food would be excellent. But for a moderately-spending traveler it was good but not great. Montenegro, on the other hand, was GREAT. Maybe this was just the luck of where we ate. I don't know. But I do know that I will never forget a few of the following meals! 

Our first night in Montenegro, tripadvisor dos not steer us wrong. We went to Konoba Knez, a tiny one-man-show locates under an ancient arch in the old city. It's tricky to find, but just ask directions at any restaurant and they'll help you out. 

Though we were presented with menus, we quickly learned that this is the kind of place that the owner/chef/waiter makes you what he wants to make you, and you enjoy it. The meal began (and ended) with surprise shots of grappa -- oof! First up was fresh bread and a massive platter of mussels with a garlicy herby sauce.

After that (pictures at the beginning of this post), was an even more massive platter of the best cooked seafood I've ever eaten. Shrimp, grilled octopus and calamari, and tender whitefish, on a bed of lettuce with cooked Swiss chard and boiled potatoes. Memories of this dish will haunt me forever. 

It was about $35 US per person, including local wine and a cookie/fruit platter for dessert. (No but for reals, my mouth is watering right now as I blog on the bus just remembering that octopus and calamari.)

And speaking of octopus and calamari, on to my next favorite meal! You may recall that on our first full day in Budva we took a taxi to a beautiful beach called Sveti Stefan. There weren't many food options open, so we got cappuccinos and later lunch at my new favorite restaurant: Olive. 

I ordered the seafood salad, and for just 7.5 euro experienced the most delicious and refreshing assortment of squid, octopus, and salmon, all perfectly cooked (no rubber garden hoses here!), dressed with olive oil and dill and served on top of tiny potatoes and avocado. SWOON.

The next night: more calamari! (We tried to have at least one calamari experience per day). Sadly I can't remember the name of this restaurant, but, ooh hello beautiful. 

Next, on to Croatia! As I mentioned, I was a little less wowed by the food of Dubrovnik, but certain dishes deserve a shout-out. 

One of the best things I ate in Dubrovnik wasn't seafood at all, but the Bosnian meat burek at Taj Mahal (which I've already blogged about, but will happily feature again).

And the spinach burek of course. This you can get at almost any bakery, and I highly recommend bringing it with you to eat on the beach after a swim. The heat of the sun will make the cheese meatier and the pastry flakier/butterier! (Burek must just mean pastry filled with something and rolled up? Unclear.)

On our last night in Dubrovnik we wanted to go out with a bang. Unfortunately the restaurant we chose took forever (for reals, over an hour...I'm not really into restaurant shaming, but fyi Lajk is not as good as tripadvisor says it is). We didn't eat until after 10, so basically we were starving and anything would have been good. But on the bright side, the squid ink pasta was really flavorful and interesting. You know how people talk about the "umami" taste? That's what this tasted like. The shrimp and calamari in it were ok, but in an interesting inverse of the usual, the pasta itself was the best part.

And that, my friends, is that. To recap: calamari, octopus, Konoba Knez, Olive Restaurant, eating all the things all the time. TAKE ME BAAAACCCCKKKK.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Croatia: Cliff Jumping and Island Hopping!

Let's talk about burek for a moment. Imagine a flat square of pastry dough, layered croissant-style but with spinach and cheese between each flaky layer instead of butter. Then roll up that square and twist it into a knot, ensuring equal flaky pastry and savory spinach and cheese in each bite. Yeeeep. This is my new favorite pastry. It puts all croissants to shame! 

On our second day in Dubrovnik we picked up some burek on our way through the Old City, heading to the harbor. 

We took a boat (60 kuna round trip) to Lokrum Island in the middle of the bay, which we'd kayaked around the day before. 

On the island there's a really old Benedictine monastery, and a not quite as old but still pretty freaking old Napoleonic fort on the top. The story goes (according to our kayak guide) that when the monks were kicked off the island they put a curse on it. Since then, everyone who has owned the island had been cursed. This includes wealthy nobles back in the day, Napoleon himself (oh hey Waterloo), and today Croatia (which, though a beautiful vacation spot, is pretty much bankrupt). And to finish off this fable, the screams of the cursed souls can be heard on the island all day and all night. Or they're peacocks...I'll leave that one up to you. 

The "beaches" on Lokrum are actually stone slabs dropping straight into the sea, perfect for sunning or jumping. After a rather vertical short hike to the fort (I swear we've spent this whole trip walking uphill!), we jumped in the water, and then we JUMPED in the water! (Pictured: Tim.)

For sunset we took the gondola up to a panorama view above the city. It was a bit pricey (108 kuna, or $18 US) each, but totally worth it! We got drinks at the fancy restaurant up there, but I'd actually recommend bringing your own snacks/drinks and just siting on the viewing deck to watch the sunset up the coast. 

It was, again, a lovely day, and our last all together! From here, Rose and I go on to Budapest then back to Boston, Laura meets her mom in Paris, and Tim's travels have only just begun and will take him through Europe and all the way to Cambodia over the next few weeks! 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Croatia: A Perfect Day in Dubrovnik

What a good day, Dubrovnik! Well done! This place (which is King's Landing in Game of Thrones) has rapidly made its way into my top three cities -- I cannot believe how great it is! 

We're staying outside the Old City at an adorable airbnb with a sea view. This morning we walked the 15 minutes to the Old City to explore the wall, a very hot but totally worth it 350-degree panorama of the city and the sea. 

The walls were originally built to protect this ancient trading city from invaders and storms. They still stand today, and actually protected Dubrovnik during Croatia's war with Serbia in the early 1990s. (Un-fun fact: all the red roofs are new, meaning those buildings were bombed in 1991/2.) 

Waking around the top is like being in a King Arthur book (don't worry I've read them all), except for significantly sweatier.

After the wall we stopped by Taj Mahal, which despite its name serves authentic Bosnian food, for a light lunch. However, if your wallets happen to be heavier than ours, I highly recommend this place for a heavy lunch. Or dinner. The meat and tziki bureh was a delicious philo dough roll of the most flavorful meat ever. I think this is one of the best dishes I've had on this trip. Then I just had a gazpacho, which was quite prettily served.

After a leisurely lunch, we made our way to the southern-facing outside of the wall where there is a tiered bar built into the rock and below that rocks to sunbathe on and/or jump off of. I swam and climbed on rocks while two of my comrades jumped from quite the high heights! 

At 5pm we reconvened just outside the city walls for a subset kayak tour. It was 35 euro for about 3 hours, and actually a surprisingly challenging amount of kayaking! We kayaked past the harbor, along the coast a bit, then around the Lokrum Island in the middle of the bay. Unfortunately, the sun is late in setting these days, so we landed before it hit the water (dear kayak tour, better timing next time please). But we went back to our seaside rocks to watch the sunset from that point. 

More about Dubrovnik on its way...this city is just too awesome to be captured in one post!