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So, after 18 days and 25 states later, I am finally back in New England. It was an unforgettable journey, but 18 days without cooking is far too long for me! Over the course of the trip, I accumulated a massive amount of pictures and videos, so I decided to whip together a movie.

I’m not sure when I will finish, but in the mean time, here’s a sneak peek….

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East Bound

After driving a measly 4 hours today, we were forced to shack up again (I’ll get to that later) for the night due to the icy conditions of the roads.

It’s madness out there.

Last night, traffic came to a halt, and no drivers were allowed through the Rockies without snow chains, or 4-wheel drive. After seeing several cars collide and tractor trailers slide off the road, we decided to spend the night in Salt Lake City and wait for the storm to pass.

We headed out this morning, hoping to reach Nebraska, but mother nature had something else in mind. This time, I-80 has been completely closed off on account of high wind gusts, black ice, and snow fall.

So, we’re  currently cozied up in Rock Springs, Wyoming enjoying the snow.

It’s about -25 degrees outside, but we’re still cooking!

Ah, nothing better on a chilly night than a classic.

Best decision of the trip: bringing the French press

Life is good.

Rosemary

Phew, I need to catch my breath for a minute! Sorry about the lack of posting. I was nestled between a beach and some mountains for several days with little outside contact to the world.

Life is tough, I know.

After several days of relaxation, and some serious munching at Stinson Beach (thanks Celeste and John!), we headed to San Francisco to finally explore some culinary schools. San Francisco is a city like no other, that’s for sure. The city may only be 7 miles, but it is a foodie’s oasis!

After a long day in the city, we headed to Napa Valley to check out the Culinary Institute of America.

I was blown away by the beauty of this building. We arrived just before sundown,  so I couldn’t get any great shots, but just imagine a mini Hogwarts.

Perfect. It was everything you would hope for in a culinary school.

As we stepped outside of the car, the scent of orange trees infused the crisp air. Upon walking further up the path to Hogwarts (as I shall call it from now on), I screamed at the discovery of rosemary bushes!

Oh, did I mention that they just casually use rosemary as landscape  decor at grocery stores in California? Yeah, I made quite the scene in LA. There were olive trees hanging over the stonewalls, and miles of vineyards as far as the eye could see. A culi’s dream!

Unfortunately, since it was around the Holidays, admissions was not open, but the school and restaurant were open for visitors. It was an eventful day, and a giant step in the right direction.

Never underestimate the power of passion.

California

Merry Christmas Eve!

It’s  day 7 of my journey across the country to the West Coast in search of my dream to attend culinary school.

I’ve driven 3,300 miles, conquered 15 states, and cased endless amounts of Juicy-Juice boxes.

Sure, you take one sip and your done, but these little guys got me through some rough times.

First time touching the Pacific Coast right there!

Seconds later, these Pacific waves knocked me over, leaving me drenched in salty water for the day.

And I loved everything single second of it.

Why?

‘Cause I’m in California, baby!

Wednesday night around 6:00 pm (Pacific time) we crossed the border of Arizona into California after traveling through some crazy sporadic weather.

Travel Tip: If you ever decide to travel Interstate 40 through the Mojave Desert, avoid the town of Ludlow, unless you’re into Texas Chain Saw Massacre shenanigans.

We’ve been in Marina Del Rey just outside of Los Angeles for two days now, and I’m in love.

California truly is a magical place.

I’m never coming back!

Next on the agenda: Driving up Route 1 to Stinson Beach to spend Christmas/my birthday at Chance’s Aunt’s home, and finally checking out culinary schools!

“A Honky Tonk is Where You Go To Have a Good Time!”

After sleeping from 7 am until noon, we woke up starving, and ready to venture into Music Town.

Those of you who know me understand my relationship with cornbread. Now, when I eat BBQ, I expect it to be accompanied by 2 or 10 slices of freshly made cornbread. So when we walked into Jack’s I was prepared to mow down on some good old fashioned cornbread.

The menu mentioned nothing of cornbread.

We’re in the south.

People eat cornbread for BLD.

This was unacceptable. We had to leave.

Just as I was about to step out the door, I heard a deep bellowing voice, “Where ya’ll going?”

I turned my head to see who appeared to be Al Roker (the original Al Roker).

“We’re looking for cornbread, and I need to feed my addiction,” I said.

“We got cornbread. You don’t need to go nowhere little lady,” he said as he pointed at a chair.

Man, now that’s Southern hospitality.

A heaping amount of pork shoulder, apples, baked beans and of course, cornbread.
After lunch, we walked around downtown a little more.

Squeaked a little history in…

Fort Nashboro. The beginning of Nashville.

A random Parthenon.

For some reason, I pictured Nashville to be similar to a scene of an old Western movie with cowboys walking around everywhere singing country songs.

Best Moment of Nashville:

Chance asking Miss Brown, a sweet little old lady and our hotel concierge, where to find Jack’s BBQ.

Miss Brown (using the cutest southern accent): Why, that’s where all those honky tonks are.

Chance (5 second pause with an awkward look from side to side): Ma’am I’m from the North. What’s a honk tonk?

Miss Brown: “A honky tonk is where you go to have a good time!”

“Nothing Happens Unless First We Dream.”

Summer 2010, Acadia, ME

Hi there,

I’d like to invite you on a journey with me.

Before I explain, here are the details, so you can plan a head:

Estimated Departure: Saturday, December 18th, 2010.
Estimated Arrival: No freakin’ idea!
Destination: Where ever my Malibu takes us.

Okay, okay, I’ll get to the main point!

Saturday, December 18th, 2010,  I will be headed West…

…On an American, cross-country road trip, baby!

For three weeks, I will be on an excursion traveling across the country to follow my dream to attend culinary school. No worries, I am not leaving the East Coast, yet. This is just a visit, but an epic one at that.

Spring 2009, Adirondack Park, NY

One of our main destinations is The Culinary Institute of America, in St. Helena, California (Napa Valley area).

If I choose to go this school, I can tell people I’m in the C.I.A…cool.

We also plan to shoot up North to Portland, OR and Seattle, WA. to check out some more schools.

Luckily, I’ll have my personal survival guru, Chance, aka the boyfriend, with me on my journey. One could say that he has a little experience with this kind of stuff. He’s hitchhiked his way across the States, and even managed to see all of Iceland by hitchhiking. Crazy, no? As “Christopher McCandless” as that sounds, we won’t be doing any hitchhiking… dadio would kill me.

This will be my first time visiting the West Coast, though.

And I’m freakin’ out, man!

My life decisions have always been driven by my passions, and culinary school has always been a dream of mine. If it weren’t for my track scholarship, I’d probably be graduating from Johnson and Wales next semester. This may surprise a lot of people, (others not so much, and thanks for dealing with me) but track is not my passion, and never has been. Sometimes, you must do what you have to do to do what you want to do. Track was definitely something I needed to do, and it’s been a big factor in shaping me into the person I am today.

A10 Championship 2009, Charlotte, NC

And as much as I will miss my team, I am ready to finish that chapter of my life, so I can focus on my true passion: food.

This may sound strange, but I am not going to culi school to become a chef/baker at a restaurant/bakery. Which by the way I have to choose a concentration: baking or culinary? It doesn’t sound too crazy that I hope to become a dietitian as well as attend culinary school for baking, right?

So, what exactly do I want to do? Hmm…

Maybe, one day, I will be a personal chef/dietitian, or even a professional food blogger?

Perhaps, one day, you will walk into my bakery/coffee shop?

Heck, maybe, one day, I will be a salsa dancer…

Hey, I’m a dreamer…

…and dreams are necessary for life.

Sure, I may not know my exact destination, but I do know the direction in which I am headed. And as of right now, I know culinary school is my next stop, and I’m going with that feeling.

So, as far as the road trip goes, at the moment, nothing is set in stone, and we are kind of just going with the flow…

We don’t know the route we will be taking, nor the day we will arrive in Cali.

We don’t know what attractions we will be seeing along the way, (The Grand Canyon is definitely on the list. Cliche, but isn’t it so mysterious? I watch a lot of National Geographic Channel), or even the greasy spoons we will be dining at.

I do know that I have a map (I wanted to go classic, but my mother insisted we get a GPS), an amazing boyfriend, and a working car (crossing fingers), that will accompany me on my three weeks of pure adventure.

And I’m hoping that you will join me! Hopefully, throughout our trip,  I’ll be able to mooch some WIFI because I plan to document the whole thing here, at Love at First Bite!

Oh yeah, we are doing this vagabond style, too. What exactly does that mean?

Basically, many days in the same clothes, some chilly nights in a tent, delicious outdoor cooking, too many days without showering, and countless road tasted food.

As far as showering goes, Chance told me to bring a bar of soap for bird baths…

Bird baths?

Look, I’m a tough cookie, and I can deal with getting dirty, but sinks are just not my thing.

Oh yeah, and I have to pack for every occasion and every season, but here’s the catch: One bag

Jeez, I don’t know how Chance does it. By no means do I classify myself as a “girly-girly,” but when he told me this, I told him he was crazy. One bag?

I better find myself a really big bag.

And then we made a deal: I can bring as much food as my heart desires, so long as all my clothes fit into one bag.

He knows me too well.

Oh, I won’t be around for Christmas, either. Hey, it’s my birthday, I can do what I want! Sure, I’m gonna miss my crazy family, holiday cooking, the tradition of my amigos coming over on my birthday, etc. However, to me, the thought of having no clue as to what State I will be in for Christmas, or New Years is awesome. That’s just me, though.

I wanted to wait to tell everyone, but I couldn’t suppress my excitement any longer. And if anyone has any advice, I’m all ears! Maybe you know of some awesome places that are a must see? Don’t be afraid to share the love.

For now though, I most likely will be M.I.A. on the blog until finals are over, which is the 17th for me. Although, I haven’t really accomplished much while thinking about this trip. I’ll be sure to keep you posted on any updates.

P.S. Live ya life.