National Geographic: In Search of St. Nick at the Budapest Christmas Market

Part of what I loved most about this most recent trip to Europe was searching for the most authentic Christmas traditions. In Budapest, I discovered Santa Claus doesn't visit Hungarian children (and others in Europe) on Christmas Day. St. Nicholas Day is December 6th and that's when he visits. I wrote more about it for National Geographic and some of the sweet treats and shopping I discovered.

"In Budapest, I’m suddenly reminded of the toast my mom used to make when I was little — crunchy and buttery, and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar.

Though the taste is familiar, this is a souped-up version of the childhood treat: a giant, hollowed-out cylinder of dough almost as tall as the boots I’m wearing — the consistency of which is somewhere between a doughnut and a churro. I can’t pronounce the Hungarian word for them, Kürtőskalács, but these pastries are also known as “chimney cakes,” a fitting name, I think to myself, as Christmastime approaches."

Read more here: In Search of St. Nick at the Budapest Christmas Market

Forbes - 5 Luxury Adventures To Find The Heart of Florence

5 Luxury Adventures To Find The Heart of Florence

I paused when I scanned through my Twitter feed recently. One of my favorite food writers and the original domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson, was tweeting about her trip to Italy. “Think must have died and gone to Heaven. Either that or am at @villasanmichele [Villa San Michele].”

Read more here

View from Villa San MicheleWhat's your favorite?

1. The Most Fabulous Cooking School overlooking Florence at Villa San Michele

2. Meeting and Going Behind-The-Scenes with leather artisans, shoemakers, picture frame shops and silk weaving studios using the same looms from the 17th and 18th centuries

3. Learning what a fresco actually means and trying it yourself with an artist

4. Going truffle hunting with an expert and his truffle hunting dog!

5. Going to the Carrara Marble Quarries and seeing the cave where Michelangelo found the block of marble for David