Author Archives: Emily Nichols

“Eating” San Sebastián

In Spain, there’s a distinct food culture. Within Spain, there are different places that also have their own distinct food cultures.

San Sebastián, Spain, is among these distinct gastronomical cultures. In San Sebastián, all of the bars are constantly packed–with people and with pintxos. Pintxo is the Basque spelling of the word “pincho” which is is the same as “tapa” and is essentially just a little snack food that comes in all flavors and variations.

Naturally in my travels to San Sebastián, I partook in this food culture. There is even a verb that describes what I did (which was bounce from bar-to-bar and eat one or two pinchos and have a glass of wine at each): “ir de pinchos”.

It would be an understatement to say I “ate” the town.
I legitimately ate the whole town. Possibly I even ate it twice.
I certainly visited some pincho bars twice (or three or four or five times).


  • Carillera (Beef Cheek)
  • Queso de Cabra Tostada (Toasted Goat Cheese)
  • Pimiento Relleno con Bacalao (Stuffed Pepper with Salted Cod)
  • Brocheta de Gambas (Shrimp Skewer)

Here are some of the pictures I managed to capture. Many were not captured because I simply could not wait to snap a picture before consuming. Either that or the wine got to my head and I forgot. But regardless…here we go.
I will do my best to remember what they all were…

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Tortilla Española con carne y queso

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Tostada with brie cheese and sundried tomato

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Carrillera (Beef Cheek) in red wine sauce

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Crab Quiche and Spider Crab / Salmon Tostada

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Pimiento Relleno con Bacalao (Salted Cod)

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Brocheta de Gambas (Shrimp Skewer)

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Prosciutto, Mushrooms, Brie Cheese, Frizzled Onions

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Homemade Croissant and Jamon Iberico

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Goat Cheese, Walnut, Pistachio and Balsamic Vinegar

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Something wrapped in bacon with shrimp on a skewer

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Pimiento Relleno

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Some seafood and béchamel sauce, baked

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This was not a pintxo. This was my friend’s breakfast.

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Fresh baguette, tomato paste and jamon Serrano

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Toasted Goat Cheese Salad

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Asparragus and Jamon

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This was my friend’s lunch. A fish called Rape.

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Prosciutto, Balsamic Glaze, Brie Cheese

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Some form of bacon, mushroom and béchamel sauce

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Carillera, Asian Style

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Vieira (Portuguese word for Scallop) with Garlic and Herbs

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Spider Crab in Wonton Cone

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Mejillones with buttery garlic suace

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Spinach and Onion Frizzled Nest and Shrimp

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Legitimate Cheese Cake

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Something wrapped in bacon

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Shrimp and Scallop

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Dulce de Leche Triangulo

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Pile of Spider Crab and Shrimp

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Fois Gras de Margaret Ravioli

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Ox Tail

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Ravioli with Lemon Grass and something else

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“Kebab” meat with ciruela (fruit) paste

Also, look at this cool collage I made:


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Pisto Manchengo

Today I come with news regarding the best 10 euros I’ve ever spent. Of the 100 I’ve ever spent…these were the best ten.

Today’s story takes place in Toledo, España. It includes a variety of vegetables, mouthwatering sauce and a few runny eggs.

Today’s story has a few main characters and a few supporting.

Let’s begin with the location. Toledo is a beautifully old pueblo in the center of España that has “old” and “new” parts. My study abroad group took a guided tour through the old city of Toledo. It was rich with history and the weather was absolutely perfect. Slightly breezy and entirely sunny.

After we spent our day walking through the city, we stayed in a really high-end hotel that had a beautiful pool and was really modern.

Toledo, España
Toledo, España

Toledo, España

It was located a bit outside of the city, and at night the other students and I decided to just walk across a bridge and enter the “new city”–rather than take a taxi into the older part.

Great decision would be an understatement.

When we left, my expectations for dinner were low. I would have been completely content just grabbing a bocadillo or something small.

BUT NO…the food Gods had it out for me.

Three chicos and myself made a discovery. But it’s a secret.

Legitimately: we discovered a secret.

This restaurant we found se llama “El Secreto.” It was amazing. It was completely unassuming from the outside and totally fancy on the inside. Our waiter was super polite and when he noticed our broken Spanish, he came out with a small laptop with Google translate opened to help us out.

After much awkward, broken discussion, I had the waiter recommend me a dish. He advised me to try “Pisto Manchengo.” All I knew was that I was in the right area to have anything “Manchengo” because I was in the Mancha region of Spain–and I knew queso Manchengo was sheep’s milk. Holy cow my mouth is watering.

I wasn’t served cheese.

Instead, my “Pisto Manchengo” was this absolutely amazingly savory veggie dish with the most incredible flavor I have ever tasted. Essentially a ratatouille, it was fresh, garlic-ridden, salty zucchini, onions, and other assorted verduras (vegetables). It was wonderfully filling and (Gracias a Dios), it was topped with three huevos fritos.

Huevos fritos…that is all. I don’t even know what kind these were… but they were tiny, farm-fresh and totally savory. Yolks like I ain’t ever yolked before. No yolk.

To accompany this gasmic meal, I had two glasses of the best Sangria known to my taste buds. At first I wasn’t going to order any…but I am beyond glad I did. 10 euro for all this? Dios mio.

I think El Secreto put giggle-drugs in their food and drinks. Our whole group was giggling really exponentially too much, given the situation. It was some of the happiest I felt so far in all of my trip. Fresh food, giggly sangria, really awesome people, secrets and runny eggs are now my favorite combination of things.

Here I leave you this photo. It is small. That is okay because you can still see the huevos. Small but mighty.

No hay palabras.

No hay palabras.

Con un estómago lleno, I bid you farewell.



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Grandma Noodles

Many years ago, my cousin Kate deemed my Grandma to be “Grandma Noodles” and, like a nice pasta al dente, it stuck.

Merry Christmas

The two stars of this noodle post.

Ironically (for unspoken reasons), this past weekend, I consumed hearty amounts of noodles. My mom and sister were in the ugly (jk lol) town of Portland, Oregon and my brother and I had the kitchen in AZ to ourselves.

You best believe we occupied that kitchen. What good activists we are.  

Men who can cook win my heart–automatically. My brother can cook,but unfortunately that is (w)incest. Homeboy really took to the boiling water and whipped up quite the delicacies for us:

1) Shrimp Linguine with Garlic Cream Sauce
2) Beef Pho (with Rice Noodles, of course)



Rice noodles with a side of beef broth…

In a flurry about what we should have for dinner on Saturday night (because he had spent all day boiling beef bones for our pho), my brother really proved hero when he busted out a recipe to make shrimp linguine. One shop at Sprouts and $13 of shrimp later–we had one of the most hearty pasta dishes ever. Also Alex Frost was there.


Can you sense the creaminess through the screen?

Basically all it consisted of was cream, garlic, shrimp, parsley, parmesan and romano cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper and linguine noodles. I think. I don’t really know because I was pre-occupied making a cauliflower crust pizza with goat cheese for our appetizer. Classic me, always needing like 30 courses.


Red pepper flakes with a side of pasta…

Neither Alex nor my brother could finish their pasta bowls…and I (proudly) topped mine off. And I licked the bowl. So, there’s that.


Sunday rolled around and we were then permitted to eat our rice noodle soups. Brother claimed it would taste better after it sat for a night, and that it did. With heaping scoops of rice noodles from the Mekong Market, we enjoyed our beef soups–doused, of course, in stupid amounts of Hoisin and Chili Garlic Paste. What lives we live. Sauce.


iChopstick, do u?



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Sweet Potato (and Pecan) Pancakes

Sweet potato pancakes

Sappy-sweet, pure maple syrup gently cascades down a mountanous pile of doughy sweet potato-based pancakes. A gentle dallop of creamy homemade whipped cream delicately sits atop the cakes. Perfectly crunchy, flaky pecans are dispersed carefully over the entirety of the food formation: A Typical Breakfast for Emily.


So, I thought it would be tactful for me to insert the picture at the beginning of this blog post. I’m tempted to believe that many of you simply do not give one care in the world about what I have to say, and you simply just wish to poodforn? Am I right?

Regardless, that picture above is one of the all-time best breakfast shots I have ever captured. Eat vicariously all you’d like. If you’d like to act upon your now-watering mouth, just simply google sweet potato pancakes, that’s what I did. Glad I could provide you the recipe.


LOL JK, I just can’t seem to locate the recipe and I feel time-crunched to get this post in the blogosphere.

In the spirit of continued pancake convo, I’d also like to time travel waaaaay back to beginning of last school year.

One day, my mother had a hankering and we fulfilled it. She wanted pancakes, despite it being 3:30pm. Luckily for us, we tend to gravitate toward cafes and restaurants that tactfully keep pancakes on their menus all day. On this particular day, we were sipping chai lattes and talking about men at Luci’s Healthy Marketplace on 16th Street and Bethany Home in Phoenix. It’s so trendy, I can’t even. I don’t always love restaurant-made pancakes, but when I do love them, I love them hard. Please take a look:

Pecan Pancakes from Luci's

Pecan Pancakes from Luci’s Healthy Marketplace

I realize these are ever-so-slightly inferior to the drizzled, goopy, heavenly “wafels” Amelia devoured in New York, but I think they still deserve a “Participation” award for their efforts in what–again–has not been much of a battle between Amelia and myself.


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Goat Cheese is Christ on pizza.

Confused by the title? Please see: Cheeses Christ, this is good pizza.

So, Pita Jungle has this legendary Chipotle Chicken Lavosh pizza. It’s incredible. I have around 10 pictures of it on my phone…and I’ve never ordered it myself. Common theme: I don’t order all of these incredible dishes, I just drool at them, take their picture and then ask for a bite from the owner.

Example A

Example A of my pics of Pita Jungle’s Chipotle Chicken Lavosh Pizza

A couple of days ago, my little sister had a moment of brilliance. Homegirl decided on a whim that we should buy some lavosh flatbreads at Trader Joe’s and bring it home–literally and figuratively to make magic happen.

We spent a solid 30 minutes preparing homemade pesto, chopped chicken breast, fresh tomato chunks, red onions, honey goat cheese, fresh mozzarella and garlic olive oil for our lavosh pizza dinner. Our mom escaped the kitchen to clean our toilets, like any good mom does, and returned when the oven beeped ready.

Goat cheese so close you could touch it

Goat cheese so close you could touch it

The sunlight really adds an appropriate halo-effect

The sunlight really adds an appropriate halo-effect

Truthfully, our Chicken Pesto Lavosh pizzas TRUMPED Pita Jungle’s Chipotle Chicken version. Nothing beats homemade pesto. NOTHING. I just use basil, spinach, garlic and olive oil in mine. If I were rich, I’d probably add parmesan and pine nuts.

I’m also getting pretty fantastic at designing a homemade pizza, starting with raw dough from Sprouts or Trader Joe’s…

Like the time I made this. Please note: Amelia

Like the time I made this. Please note: Amelia and Brien

Last weekend, me and my girl Alejandra decided to spontaneously venture down south to Tucson, the land of my conception, and visit my best friend Dylan Moran. I asked Dylan before we even arrived if we could cook dinner–and had pizza on my mind all day.

We whipped up a fantabulous dinner with fresh dough, honey goat cheese, tomato sauce, hot sausage, bell peppers, onions and mozarella. I also did work on my favorite type of salad–greek, with feta (mostly for Alejandra’s mouth pleasure).

Feta cheese with a side of salad

Feta cheese with a side of salad

We split the grocery bill and it was only $7 a piece–for a full pizza and salad meal. God bless Sprouts.  

 Additionally, I am under the understanding that cooking is sexy. If this is the case, I am wondering why I am still single…?


P.S.–Honorable pizza mention goes out to the recent re-discovery I made. Florencia’s Pizza Bistro does the most with this incredible “Raspolte” pizza that I crave nearly daily. Goat cheese and tangy, spicy raspberry sauce–just shut up.

Florencia's "Raspolte" Pizza. Shamefully, I announce picture is c/o my sister

Florencia’s “Raspolte” Pizza. Shamefully, I announce picture is c/o my sister

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St. Francis and Guy Fieri

I don’t just want to be Guy Fieri, I want to beat him. And sometimes, I do.

I beat his episodes, at least. Admittedly, I am one of hundreds of thousands of people who can’t get enough of the show “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives” on The Food Network. I even heard once that The Food Network sees poor ratings when they have almost anything but D-D-D on the air.

A few months back, I came across a list on one of my favorite blogs, Chow Bella, announcing that Guy Fieri had just been taping new episodes of D-D-D in the valley. I need to avoid bandwagon riding, so I hustled in when I heard he had been. Poet and I don’t even know it. I’ve basically followed Guy everywhere in AZ so far, so this was my routine duty. (More blog posts to come about the other D-D-D featured places I’ve been). 

 St. Francis in Phoenix was one of the places on this new list, although it’s been all the hype for quite some time now. Homeboy chef Aaron Chamberlin does magic in this place. He cooks everything in his wood oven, and the colors of the ingredients are incredible. Everything is local and baked fresh and just…k. No words. Just, no words. Literally, here are pictures that speak all the words I could attempt to construe… 

Baked goat cheese. Chevre, if you're fancy.

Baked Goat Cheese. Chevre, if you’re fancy.

Fresh baked veggie flatbread.

Fresh Baked Veggie Flatbread.

Baked Moroccan Meatballs over Israeli Couscous.

Green Chile Pork and Fresh Cornbread.

Green Chile Pork and Fresh Cornbread.


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Thai Curry 2.0

Today I did what all interns dream of: I got to eat a meal with my boss whilst on the clock (also on the company card). A “working lunch” if you will.  I certainly will. Given the selective freedom on where we should go for our lunch date, I selected Narai Thai. I found it on UrbanSpoon with high ratings–and those ratings were verified after our delicious lunch. Everyone there today was also on their executive work lunch break. So much corporate was present in that tiny, Thai-decorated square footage.

Truthfully, I selected Thai because I knew I was due for a blog post, and I wanted to put an end to Amelia’s irritation with me for not reciprocating to her Thai Curry post. It’s so uncharacteristic of me to be the team hold-back.

I just realized I went to Narai Thai and she went to Tai Thai. Lots of variation in names going on in this food realm, eh?

I ordered Red Curry with Beef.

I tried to exactly replicate Amelia's curry bowl angle...

I tried to exactly replicate Amelia’s curry bowl angle…

My manager ordered Pad Thai. I pretty much have Pad Thai every time I go out for Thai –whether its Phoenix, Flagstaff or otherwise. Usually my dear friend Yihyun or mom or someone orders it, which in turns means I get a few bites of that peanut goodness.

Honorable mention deserves honorable picture (Dara Thai in Flagstaff, Ariz)

Honorable mention deserves honorable picture (Dara Thai in Flagstaff, Ariz)

My Red Curry was delicious, and although I ordered a 4/5 spice level — it was so mild. I wanted to really rip my taste buds apart, but no opportunity arose. Even doused with chile garlic paste, I couldn’t get that Thai fire to ignite in my mouth. I think those who can withstand spicy foods are among the best humans on this planet. With that said, I bid you all good day.

Again, tried to really nail that angle.

Again, tried to really nail that angle.

AKA I have nothing else I feel like writing.

Curry was good. It always is.

Phoenix is great. It always is.

I am better than Amelia. I always will be.


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