Gluten Free Brasilia, Brazil

I didn’t really worry about how to eat gluten free on our whole trip to Brazil. The main food we eat is churrasco, which is BBQ meat with beans, rice, veggies, and salad. Plus, Brazilians label all packaged food, even things like cachaçha, as gluten free.
For breakfast at our hotel, there was also usually pão de queijo- cheese bread- which is made out of tapioca flour.There was also always a lot of fresh fruit to enjoy, and lots of Brazilian coffee!With lots of fresh vegetables and options, I was not feeling left out of the food scene, although I did miss enjoying the subzero beer from my previous visit in 2010. They serve beer extremely cold and keep it in a thermos on your table, ensuring that each glass you have is ice cold. Plus as soon as you finish the bottle, another one was on its way. I had to be a little more careful with the caipirinhas. 🙂Some meals were not quite as amazing as others, like this mediocre salad below, but that happens when you’re eating in a mall.We also enjoyed lots of cafezinhos, little coffees.If there was one thing we got enough of on this holiday, it was MEAT. Glorious meat.Another favorite of mine is Brazilian tapioca, which are a kind of pancake made out of tapioca flour, often served with condensed cream and coconut. Although they are less common outside the north of the country, we found them in a mall and made sure to order some!Another part of churrasco’s feijoada – stewed beans and pork served over rice- is farofa, which is toasted cassava, or tapioca, that you can see in the lower left of the photo above. That was also a typical part of my Brazilian diet. 🙂

Not all the people know what gluten is, but eating gluten free in Brazil is still a pretty painless process. The most painful part was eating too much meat and not enough vegetables!

Brasilia, Brazil

Kay had been wanting to visit the capital of Brazil for many years, so when I found “affordable” direct flights to Brasilia from Paris, where he was already going to be for his INSEAD pre-course in December, I booked us tickets together and started planning the trip from there.

Once he was done with his course, I whisked him away for some relaxation before the craziness of INSEAD would begin.Brasilia is one of the few “planned” cities in the country, laid out in the shape of an airplane, with many buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, it also houses the three branches of government.
Brasilia was nice and hot when we showed up. So much, that we didn’t rub enough sun lotion on our little gringo bodies and got burned on the first day! Oops.

The domed building was the Memorial dos Povos Indígenas (Museum of Indigenous People) which had a photography exhibition at the time.The city was a bit more empty than usual as many diplomats who fill the city were on Christmas holiday.Here we are visiting the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília.The inside of the church was very beautiful, with exquisite stained glass and an intriguing floor plan having people go below ground level to enter the church.Kay was very interested to visit the governmental parts of the city, below you see the towers that house the Congresso Nacional (National Congress).

And near the congress was the Praça dos Tràs Poderes, with an Olympic flame nearby.
We were two happy campers with the weather in December. 🙂Brasilia is not the most pedestrian-friendly city, and we ended up using Uber for the first time ever a lot on this trip.There are also some areas like around the TV Tower, wide, open, dark spaces, that you don’t want to be at night, because they are a big scene for drug deals and theft.We also made a visit up the TV Tower to see a view down the “belly” of the airplane.We booked a tour to visit the Palácio dos Arcos housing the foreign ministry.Also below was our visit to the congress halls, which took quite a bit of finagling to get in, and Kay needed shoes and a nice shirt. We actually went like three days in a row before we finally got tickets for a tour. Bureaucracy is strong in the capital of Brazil!After a few days, it was time to head to Bauru to meet Kay’s family for Christmas.

Thanksgiving Treats

Yeah, posting about this in May, not only because we always celebrate the day sometime random in Switzerland, but because you only have 5-6 months before you need to start planning Thanksgiving 2016!

Or, if you’re like me, maybe you hanker cinnamon-based desserts year round, because YUM.If there’s anything Kay should miss this summer while he’s in Singapore, it is our ice cream maker, because the ice cream coming out of this machine is mouthwatering. This cinnamon ice cream recipe from Epicurious is pretty epic.I don’t make too many ice creams with eggs yet, but I really should, because they make the most wonderful, creamy texture in ice cream. This really seemed like a proper ice cream, and not some weird gluten free, lactose-free ice cream that I was making the previous summer.I also wanted to make a cranberry apple pie to bring along for dessert, as well as pecan tassies, and a pumpkin ice cream. It was a lot of dessert, even for seven people.Again, I used the The Everything Gluten-Free Baking Cookbook for the pie crust, and then I sort of winged the apple cranberry part with some normal pie recipes online.Overall, I was pretty happy how the pie crust turned out. GF pie crust kind of scares me a bit. I still haven’t made a covered pie, but I will at some point.In between making the ice cream and taking it to my friend’s house for Thanksgiving, I taste tested the cinnamon ice cream with the secret cheesecake I made for Kay. The one that I’m not allowed to share with others. 😉 It was great celebrating our ninth Thanksgiving together with these friends.They are my first friends in Switzerland from my rotary house times, and Kay is already a little sad that he will miss 2016’s Thanksgiving because he’ll be in Singapore.We age like fine wine together. 🙂Good times are always had with this crew.Maybe 2016 will be the year for the covered GF apple pie? Or a new attempt at pumpkin pie without my precious Libby’s pumpkin puree? Only time will tell.

Citizen M Hotel, Paris

Kay and I first stayed in a Citizen M hotel in Amsterdam for our minimoon after getting married civilly in Zurich. We enjoyed the hotel then, so whenever I see a city with a Citizen M, I am a little partial to choose them. Our flight to Brasilia in December was on a Sunday morning at 8am, so I booked us a room at the airport location to make things easier.

The hotel has an interesting concept that you check yourself in and out (no waiting), as well as supplying the room with ample technology to improve your stay, like multimedia integration and special mood lighting. Using an iPad, you can control the color of the lightning, music, and TV in the room.The rooms are also very stylish and designed to maximize space utilization. A large king size bed sits wall to wall in rooms, with the front portion of the room towards the hallway used for the bathroom and sink area.Breakfast was a little lackluster at the Paris location, although there were some gluten free options, all the hot food like eggs and bacon were empty during our entire breakfast and the staff didn’t seem concerned about refilling it, even though it was 6:30am. The fruit was also the canned variety, leaving me a little dissatisfied overall, but it was fine for a day.INSEAD is touted as being in “Paris”, but not really. It took us over two hours to get to the airport from Bois-le-roi by train and metro. So long, that we didn’t have time anymore after check-in to get back into downtown Paris to see the new episode of Star Wars.

Cue sad face, until I looked up nearby shopping mall to the airport and hotel, Aéroville, which was also playing the movie, and made a great place to have a late dinner and drinks before the showing.This is not the first time I’ve booked an airport hotel for an early flight the next day. After getting up at the butt-crack-of-dawn to get home from London on a Monday morning one time, I decided to reserve a room for us in the Hotel Sofitel Athens Airport to make the early flight back from Greece more bearable.
Have you stayed in an airport hotel the night before a flight?


Kay moved to Bois-le-Roi, a small town close to INSEAD’s Fontainebleau, in mid December. Already in that first week during the pre-course, he realized he didn’t like being so far away from the school and having to drive everywhere… something I told him would not be fun for partying and socializing, but I left it up for him to find out on his own.

Before our trip to Brazil to spend Christmas with family, I left Zurich for a weekend in “Paris” aka this podunk town to check out Kay’s digs. This studio was only €600 a month with parking and house insurance included, so compared to a lot of student housing for INSEAD, it was pretty cheap! His little studio did have everything he needed. Furnished flat with bed, dressers, desk, kitchen area, and a decent sized bathroom.I was impressed that there was a bathtub, even though I knew Kay would never use it.The flat came with pots and pans and towels and linens, and it had enough storage for everything he needed. It was missing an oven and a freezer though. How do the French make caipirinhas without ice? And frozen pizza for the student life??It even had a balcony to store his mountain bike.The grounds of the property were quite “cute” and French too. I mean, below is where he took his trash out. Only in Europe, right?Just across the street from the property, the Seine runs along the road.How quaint is that? Where do you go running in the morning? Oh, along the Seine, of course. After school officially started in January though, Kay quickly became jealous of those living in town in Fontainebleau who could walk to school or parties. My cute, very Swiss husband, realized that driving a car every morning to school and having to be a designated driver at every chateau party is NOT fun. Haha.

Any American could tell you this, but he wanted the commuting experience, and for about a month, he got it. 🙂 By mid January, he gave notice on his place and moved to a fancy French house in town with 13 rooms at the end of the month, paying then €950 a month for a single room, but gaining roommates and the ability to enjoy drinking at parties again!