Far and away the best way to eat prunes: Far Breton

Over Easter this year, I popped over to France to see dad who was also there for his bi-annual visit. Even though the primary purpose of the visit was to visit my Grandmother, I requested that we make a trip to Carnac in Brittany and Mont St Michel in Normandy. So, over two very full days, we drove the five hours to Brittany, looked at some very large rocks and then drove another couple of hours to see a very famous rock – Mont St Michel.

Mont St Michel + Carnac

I really enjoyed the trip to Brittany, which included a stop in a little town called Elven where we had baguettes with ham and cheese; then in Carnac we had a delicious multi-course birthday meal for my husband at a tiny auberge; more than one kougin amann (because I needed to compare!); a trip around a farmers market with some of the most amazing produce I’ve seen in a while; and Far Breton.

Far Breton

Far Breton is similar in texture to a clafoutis – one of my favourite desserts. It’s essentially a baked custard-style dish full of prunes, which I think have always had a bad wrap. You’ll also note in my photos above that some people like it blonde and others much darker and it can be served on its own or served with creme patisserie.

I’ve been wanting to give the Far Breton a go since I got back, so I finally found some time and did a search for a trustworthy recipe. I went with this recipe from Richard Bertinet and got baking.

Far Breton

Far Breton

The recipe worked a treat! It wasn’t quite the same (because things always taste better when you don’t make them yourself), but it was a winner of pudding and the feedback from my colleagues and in-laws was great.

I can recommend, as Richard Bertinet does, having this with a nice up of tea and a book. Or a cider.

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Bristol’s Backwell House

One of the reasons I love living in Bristol is the number of stunning food options and importantly, so many restaurants and chefs using fresh, local produce. I love that people are so passionate about what is produced in the region – from cider to pork.

This is most definitely the case at Backwell House, a gorgeous, recently established boutique hotel in the North Somerset countryside near Bristol.  They have just launched a 40-cover restaurant where Chef Ross Hunter has developed a menu that focuses on local produce. So local, in fact, you’ll find that quite a few of his ingredients come from the Backwell Estate itself!

Backwell House

When I asked Chef Ross (who has worked closely with everyone’s favourite chef, Josh Eggleton) what he was aiming to achieve with his menu, he shared that it was about showcasing the produce. For him, choosing three to four stunning local ingredients and really making them shine is the most important thing to him. That’s my kind of philosophy. It’s all well and good spending hours creating foams and gels, but if you lose the fresh ingredients then you’re really just missing out.

The menu is very well priced at two courses for £29 and three courses for £35. It also changes regularly depending on what ingredients are available and in season.  Not only will you get to eat gorgeous food, you’re doing so in the beautiful countryside in a Georgian house (that’s the history lover in me talking!).

Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion was first off the ranks. Well-seasoned pork, gorgeous free peas and perfect crackling made for a brilliant starter. My esteemed dining neighbor, Alex (aka Gingey Bites) chose the Brixham crab, beetroot, apple, Nori seaweed, which not only looked stunning but was very tasty too.

Backwell House
Pressed Backwell pork, new season peas, pancetta & tarragon emulsion + potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts

For mains, I didn’t want double portions of meat, so I chose the potato gnocchi, wild garlic, calcot onion, hazelnuts for something a bit lighter. Sadly it was underseasoned and the texture was not as light as I’d hoped. The onion was also too crunchy and undercooked for my taste. However, everyone else at the table sang the praises of the Cornish cod, Brixham crab bonbon, crab bisque, kohlrabi, pak choi and the 60 day Hereford sirloin, ox cheek, alliums, king oyster mushroom, beef jus. Alex said the sirloin was as soft as butter and very moreish.

Next, I had the strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries – a little play on eton mess. I loved the mix of textures and the use of strawberries. Definitely something I’d eat again.

To finish off, we were offered some housemade petite fours, including raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread. I adored the marshmallows and was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavours worked.

Dessert
Strawberry cannelloni, meringue, Cheddar Valley strawberries + raspberry and beetroot marshmallows, apple jellies and orange shortbread

I enjoyed my meal and the setting in which I got to eat it. Chef Ross has put together an excellent menu and knows how to make the most of the ingredients he has sourced. I can highly recommend a lovely drive into the Somerset countryside to Backwell House for lunch or dinner.

About the hotel

I couldn’t not put something in about the hotel itself because I really enjoyed spending time there. On the outside, Backwell House is everything you’d expect of a Georgian House – well-manicured grounds and stunning views. But inside is a different story. The General Manager and his family have given the house a revamp with their own quirky (often handmade) touches. Like a suitcase sink and handmade bedhead – it’s kind of fun to look for the little things that make Backwell House so beautiful.

The common areas are comfortable and there’s plenty of space to relax with a drink from the handmade bar. The rooms are luxurious and I’m jealous of anyone lucky enough to stay there.

The details:
Menus start at £29 for 2 courses and rooms from £95 to £245 per night B&B
Email: enquiries@backwellhouse.co.uk
Phone: 0117 325 110
Web: backwellhouse.co.uk
Backwell House, Farleigh Road, Bristol BS48 3QA

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A long weekend in Amsterdam

My holidays are usually pretty packed, but now that we can go away for 3-4 days at a time, we have a little more time to relax. Not.

Earlier this month, we finally made it to Amsterdam. It’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. As a history buff and foodie, I’m keen to go anywhere with old buildings and good food.

As it was my first time in Amsterdam and we only had four days, we did a lot of the very touristy things – ate cheese, visited some windmills, walked through the red light district and ate some dutch goodies.

We had a really good weekend, so I thought I’d share what we got up to:

Explore the canals

This one is pretty easy – walk around. Amsterdam is compact; there are a lot of different aspects to the city in a very small space (it seems). I can highly recommend just walking along the canals, taking in the sights, particularly the houses:

  • You’ll note that some a bit wonky – in some cases this is on purpose because apparently if your house leans forward, it looks bigger.
  • Keep an eye out for the hook holders jutting out from the top of many – they were used to haul up goods to the top level of the house so they remained dry.
  • Take a look at the make up of each house – many have coats of arms and imagery to show who owned the house and what that person did for a living. I think the more detailed the image, the more ‘well-to-do’ the person living there.

Amsterdam canals

I found it interesting that because space was so sought after, housing lots were narrow and tax was charged on frontage. Therefore, houses were narrow, but often extended backwards a fair way. These houses look very small on the outside, but some have 30+ rooms and would be considered mansions.

I could keep going because it was absolutely fascinating learning about how things worked in old world Amsterdam, but I’ll let you figure all of that out when you get there.

If you don’t want to walk around the entire time, I can highly recommend a canal cruise. You’ll get a bit of commentary and you can see a huge amount of the canals, without needing a foot massage! We did a cruise with the Blue Boat Company.

Amsterdam canals

The infamous red light district

One of those places you read and hear about often. You’ll find that it’s crowded once it starts to get dark and the throng of people don’t really stick around, they just take a look and move through. I can recommend doing the same. Take a look – see what the buzz is all about – and then move on to other (more interesting) things, like the Museumplein to get your obligatory photo with the Iamsterdam letters. Keep in mind that food and drink is expensive in the red light district because it’s so touristy.

Amsterdam redlight

Markets

I love markets and I always try to fit one or two in wherever I go, much to the annoyance of my husband. We were very lucky in that Dappermarkt was right outside our AirBnB, so even walking from the train station to the place we were staying was fun!

We also went to the Albert Cuyp Market. It was long and there were plenty of goodies to view (and eat!). You probably don’t need to go to both, but I recommend going to at least one.

Amsterdam markets

A countryside tour

All you need for this is half a day, really. We chose a half-day tour that would take us to see the windmills in Zaanse Schaans, try cheese in Volendam and see clogs being made in Marken. We had a quick lunch in Volendam, which consisted of kiplings, oorlog patates and we may have had some poffertjes to round out our deep-fried meal of champions.  The tour we took was excellent, because we got to see plenty in a short space of time.

Amsterdam windmills

A cheese tasting class

What’s a trip to Amsterdam without cheese? I found this by accident and I’m really glad I did! For 16 euro, you’ll get an hour full of cheese with a few wines. Held at Reypenaer Cheese – an unassuming shop front on Singel representing a company that doesn’t actually make the cheese, they just ripen it.

Amsterdam cheese tasting

You’re shown downstairs in their shop to a small room with desks all set up for our session. No joke, kind of felt like we were in a classroom – it has tables with all the implements you need to taste cheese successfully.

We were given the history of the company and what they do, as well as a taste of their five cheeses. The best part – the cheese was left on the table with you, so you could have as many testers as you wanted to get your mouth around the various flavours and textures.

Amsterdam cheese tasting

On the plus side, we scored cheaper tickets to the Bols experience as a package deal…

Heineken and Bols experiences

There’s always seems to be some kind of alcohol-based museum in the cities we go to. In Amsterdam, there were two: the Heineken Experience and the Bols and Genever Experience.

We went to both.

The Bols and Genever Experience was actually really interesting in terms sensory activities. My favourite part was smelling the flavours of the various liqueurs and trying to work out what they were. It takes about an hour to go through and at the end you get a cocktail of your choice.

Amsterdam House of Bols

The Heineken Experience was actually disappointing for me. I didn’t like the way they had set things out and I didn’t enjoy waiting 20 minutes for the ‘brew you ride’ which wasn’t anything spectacular. Part of the ticket price gives you two beers at the end of the experience and you get a quarter-pint or so right after the ‘brew you ride’. If you must go, I can recommend not going on a weekend – we stopped by on the Saturday and we could see from just the outside that it was packed because the queues were huge.

Amsterdam Heineken experience

This was clearly no relaxing tour of Amsterdam; we were most definitely tired by the time we’d finished everything on this list, but I really felt like I’d managed to see so much of Amsterdam. I should also note that we also went to a few other places not mentioned here, but the above were my highlights (or things I felt I should cover).

Happy to share my tips if you have any specific questions!

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Traditional meals in Prague

Much like Estonia, food in the Czech Republic was quite heavy. Basically, meat with carbs and sauce. Also, plenty of beer.

The list of food I wanted to try was extensive, but it wasn’t just sweets. Here are a few of the traditional savoury dishes we tried while travelling around Prague.

Dumplings

On our first day in the city, we walked around what felt like half the city before deciding on a random place we found. We both ended up taking a lunch special – smoked bacon dumplings (pictured above).

Svíčková na smetaně

Beef sirloin in a cream sauce, topped with cranberry and whipped cream. It’s a typical dish that we saw on most menus. I was surprised to find that the sauce was sweet and was made sweeter again with the addition of cranberry. The beef is marinated and slow-cooked, so it’s flavoursome and tender. It’s a heavy dish that will fill you up.

Prague
Svíčková na smetaně + roasted Prague ham with horseradish sauce and potato purée

 

Prague
Roast pork with dumplings and greens + one of the stunning old buildings in the Old Town Square
Pickled sausages

One dish I wasn’t too keen to try was pickled sausage. We got the sausage below at Restaurant U Karla – served with pickled onion and some chilli for a kick. Based on my research, they are considered a ‘pub snack’ of sorts and that would make sense because the acidity works really well with beer.

Prague pickled sausages
Pickled sausages + beer (of course)
Guláš

As you can imagine, goulash is common in this part of the world. It’s another heavy dish, designed to fill you up. I can’t give you any specific recommendations, but we tried it at both Cafe Savoy and Restaurant U Karla and enjoyed both.

Prague goulash
Guláš (goulash) + beer (of course)
Smažený sýr

When fried cheese is an option, you’d be mad not to try it. Plus, it’s everything you imagine it is – crunchy, stretchy, cheesey. A thick slice of cheese (often Edam) is breaded and then fried. In the two cases we tried it, it was served with amazing hand cut chips, and some tartare sauce. I can definitely recommend trying this dish – it’s probably best as a main or shared for a starter.

Prague Smažený sýr
Smažený sýr (fried cheese) + the main entrance at Prague Castle

Prague is a beautiful city and I look forward to going back one day. I can definitely recommend at least a 3-day trip so you can see and eat as much as you can.

Prague Charles Bridge
View of Charles Bridge from the river + view of Prague on the way back down the hill from Strahov Monastery

Thanks for sharing in our Prague adventure, here’s to the next one!

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My new home – Bristol

If you’ve been following our Instagram feed and even our Facebook page, you’ll have noticed by now that I’m no longer travelling per se. We arrived in Bristol on 3 October and have been living in AirBnBs while job hunting and being tourists.

When I tell people we’ve relocated here they usually ask why. But not just, ‘why did you move to Bristol?’, it’s more like, ‘why the hell would you choose to move to the UK? It’s so much nicer in Australia!’. Obviously I then have to explain that a lot of Australians do it because it’s cheaper to travel all over Europe while living in the UK. Most people nod in understanding, but their faces say otherwise haha.

Bristol food
Eat a pitta falafels from St Nicholas markets + Moroccan from St Nicholas markets + salad from The Stable, Bristol

Once past the moving to the UK question, they ask why we chose Bristol over London. It’s probably a fair question because London is effectively the centre of everywhere. And that’s exactly why we didn’t want to live there – too big, takes too long to get anywhere, too expensive, too many people vying for the same jobs…you get the idea. Coming from Brisbane, I wasn’t sure we could handle something so massive. When I researched, Bristol popped up in a lot of ‘great places to live’ lists and it seemed like it had a really great cultural feel. I say ‘we’ a lot, but Husband didn’t really have a lot to do with it, he was happy for me to choose.

Bristol food
A lane near our first AirBnB + eating a locally made sausage roll at Bristol’s harbourside market

So far, we’ve loving it here. Even Husband is keen to stay (though finding a job has been a tough task for him). The food scene is so vibrant – there are pop ups, new restaurants (and the old ones), markets and events. I know Brisbane had all of those things, but it’s on a smaller scale here. For example, we’re going to a pizza festival on Saturday and they only sold 500 tickets. In Brisbane, an event like that would be open to thousands of people; making it a crowded experience with more time spent in queues than actually enjoying the atmosphere and food.

Bristol
Blaise Castle + picnic in the park

Regardless of the food, every day feels like an adventure as we walk around finding new and interesting things. We’re yet to make new friends, but I’m sure we will. I went to a food blogging event on Monday night and there’s so much camaraderie within the blogging scene here – it’s lovely to see. There will be plenty of posts on here about Bristol, Bath and beyond, as well as the places farther afield (we’re still trying to work out what to do for Christmas at this point!).

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The Georgian kitchen at Bristol’s Georgian House Museum + breakfast at a new ‘Melbourne-style’ cafe in Stokes Croft where we are staying now

My favourite adventure to date was meeting Hugh from River Cottage. As many of your know, I’m a big fan! We went to the launch lunch of his new book, The River Cottage A-Z, at River Cottage Canteen and I basically gushed at him (poor guy). The food was really amazing too – simple, full of flavour and very very British. I’m looking forward to going back there for a celebratory meal once I’ve been offered a job.

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Me and Hugh + Hugh’s autograph + one of the taster platters from the lunch at River Cottage Canteen

Expect to see more of our adventures in the English West Country!

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The pastries and bread based goodies of Prague – Part 1

Our next stop on our recent travels was Prague in the Czech Republic. We booked an apartment in Staré Město – or the Old Town – which was very central.

Much like Tallinn in Estonia, the Old Town is made up of old buildings and cobbled streets – if you’re a history buff like me, there is so much to see you won’t know where to start.

Of course, checking out a few historical aspects of every place we stop is important, but so is the food. When I did my pre-travel research on Prague (read: looked at the food I could try), I noticed a number of delicious-looking pastries and bread items. On the list they went! I got through a few of them, but I’m sure there are many more I could try if I went back.

Kolach

On our first morning in Prague, we set out from our apartment with a random walk in mind – we decided to see where the day would take us. It wasn’t long before we came across a bakery. We grabbed a couple of things, but the tastiest was the makovy kolacek (or kolach). I guess we would compare this to a danish of sorts in Australia, though not as sweet – it’s a brioche-style dough, shaped into a circle and filled with various ingredients (jam, fruit, poppy seeds). As with my dishes in this part of the world, many neighbouring countries have their own versions too.

Kolach in Prague
A makovy kolacek (or kolach) + the view over the Charles Bridge
Honey bread

Later, we found ourselves in a little shop (part of someone’s home) near Prague Castle called Sweet Prague – where they make and sell honey bread. The lady in the shop informed us (rather strongly) that we shouldn’t ever confuse honey bread with ginger bread as they are two very different beasts. The honey bread – in various shapes and sizes – is used as gifts and many people give them for a range of events from marriages to Christmas, and they last for twenty years (as decorations). It has a very different flavour to ginger bread, so if you’re in Prague make sure you try both.

Sweet Prague

Hořické trubičky

Something neither of us enjoyed were hořické trubičky – or horice rolls – thin sweet wafers rolled and filled with sickly sweet cream (to me, it tasted like eating a piece of cardboard filled with very very sweet buttercream). We found these in a gingerbread shop and asked the lady what they were, in response we received “they are traditional Czech food”. Not knowing what we were getting ourselves into, we each chose one and left. I ended up eating only half because it was too sweet for me. When I googled them later, I found that people really enjoyed them and I wondered if maybe we’d just had bad ones. Maybe we’ll try again next time we visit!

Horice rolls in Prague
A hořické trubičky + the Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square

EDIT: Here’s part two of Prague for sugar lovers.

What’s your favourite pastry?

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Helsinki food adventures – part 1

Helsinki isn’t the most ‘touristy’ town, certainly a far cry from what we experienced in Tallinn and would later experience in Prague. Yet, we felt we saw (and ate) a lot during the few days we were there.

My food experiences started with a trip to the supermarket, Prisma. I love going to supermarkets for the first time in a new country. There’s always something different to try (and sometimes you find yourself shaking your head because you have no idea why anyone would want to eat whatever that strange looking thing is). In this case, it was mostly awe that I felt while walking around. So many products I’d never seen before, so many drinks I wanted to try. Not to mention we were pretty hungry; it’s definitely true – you shouldn’t shop while hungry!

My trip to this supermarket reminded me that we have so much growing to do in Australia!

A traditional platter of sorts…

Jess, my friend and tour guide, decided we should start our first day in Finland with some traditional fare. We had quite the spread: pickles (which you buy ‘fresh’ from vats in the vegetable section) with a sour cream and honey ‘dip’; bread cheese (a bit like haloumi in texture) with peach jam – usually this would have been cloudberries, but we couldn’t get any; and Karelian pies (a thin rye crust with a filling of rice) with egg butter (egg, salt, pepper, butter).

They aren’t combinations I’d have thought of back home, I love trying something new! My favourite was the Karelian pie, it was a little like eating an egg sandwich. The pies are also Jess’ favourite and many people obviously enjoy eating them for lunch because they were available with the ‘egg butter’ at most cafes.

Helsinki fun
Karelian pie with egg butter + pickle with sour cream and honey dip + buying pickles at Prisma
Reindeer games…

For dinner that same night, Jess’ husband Juho, cooked us something even more traditional – sauteed reindeer with mashed potato, lingonberries and a pickle for good measure. Juho informed us that Finnish cuisine didn’t tend to use a lot of spices or herbs in the dishes they ate most regularly, so this dish involved thinly sliced reindeer cooked in butter and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. The lingonberries were cooked with a bit of sugar. A note: lingonberries are very tart, even with the addition of sugar, so it does take some getting used to when you put it in your mouth.

Helsinki reindeer
Reindeer with mashed potato, lingonberry compote and a pickle.
It wouldn’t be a holiday without traditional pastries…

We tried a traditional Finnish ‘pastry’, korvapuusti – a cinnamon scroll of sorts. Korvapuusti translates to ‘slapped ears’ because of their shape. They were tasty at room temperature, but even better straight from the oven. Yum!

Helsinki and Korvapuusti
Korvapuusti + some funny little men I found on a walk.
Pour some sugar on me…

Jess had mentioned she wanted to take me to a ‘heavy metal bar’ with great cocktails and I was keen. You can’t say no to cocktails and a venue that didn’t play dance music. While our husbands went to the sauna, we took the opportunity to relax at Sling In bar + cafe; they have a cocktail list so big, it’s stored on a computer and you can search based on name, ingredient or style. Tucked away in what seemed like an odd location (inside a shopping centre), we each took ten minutes to decide on the cocktails we would try. I went with Jess’ recommendation – a blueberry cheese cake cocktail (with actual creamy cheese in it). It was divine and you wouldn’t know you were drinking anything alcoholic….is that good or bad? I don’t know. I guess if you’re in town, you should test it out for yourself.

Helsinki fun
The Sibelius Monument + magnificent blueberry cheesecake cocktail from SlingIn.

 

A little foraging…

One of my favourite outings was to the aptly nicknamed, Squirrel Island (Seurasaari). Not only did we get up close and personal with squirrels and tiny birds, we did some late season berry foraging, finding both blueberries and raspberries. I’d definitely recommend picking up some sunflower seeds and heading over to the island for a couple of hours. You can see one of the squirrels I fed here…so cute!

Foraging in Helsinki
Foraged late-season blueberries and raspberries. Delicious!

We also went to Michelin Starred restaurant, Chef & Sommelier, but that’s a story for another day.

We’ll likely head back to Finland again in the future – apparently it’s better during the summer months. I’d also like to see the Northern Lights in Lapland. Any recommendations for touristy attractions?

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Vietnamese cooking class

As I always do before a trip, I scoured the internet for things to do while traveling. Of course, it just wouldn’t be a holiday for me if it didn’t involve cooking and eating. Luckily, I came across HCM Cooking Class for our time in Vietnam. They offer a full day cooking class (and a few other options) that included a look at their farm and involved cooking nine different dishes for $100USD – talk about bargain! Sounded like heaven to me. I convinced husband that it sounded great. He was a bit grumbly about the whole thing because he doesn’t enjoy cooking as much as I do (though, he does enjoy eating what I make). Once he agreed, I told him we were cooking nine different dishes. He felt like I’d left out a key element in my description of the class. As always when I choose activities he’s dubious about, by the end of the day, he was really enjoying himself and the delicious food.

When I booked, I received an email from Mr Tan to confirm and in closing he said we should ensure we arrive with ‘an empty belly’.

I gave Chef Tan the list of dishes we wanted to cook:

  • Beef wrap with Betel leaves (bo la lot)
  • Special pork spring rolls (cha gio)
  • Banh Mi Thit Nuong
  • Mango Salad with wth BBQ pork (goi xoai)
  • Crispy duck with tamarind sauce
  • Calamari with salt and pepper sauce
  • Stir fry chicken with chilli and lemongrass in special HCM dressing sauce on fresh rice noodle (bun ga)
  • Banana spring rolls with coconut ice cream (cha gio chuoi voi kem dua)

I picked a range of dishes that sounded interesting, but also dishes I knew I’d want to make at home.

We were picked up early in the morning and driven about one hour out of town – for those of you who have been to Ho Chi Minh, it was quite close to the Cu Chi Tunnels. We were shown around part of the farm (unfortunately it had been raining quite a bit so it was too messy and dangerous to visit the animals) and given loads of information about the fragrant herbs and other plants they were growing. We were then instructed to pick the herbs and plants we would later use for our dishes. It was really nice to be part of the process of getting the food from the garden to the plate. The freshness of so many of the ingredients is probably the main thing I love about Vietnamese cuisine. The more herbs the better!

Then we met the fascinating, and perhaps a little larger than life, Chef Tan. We found out over the course of the day that he qualified as a Doctor, then studied accounting and then became a chef, later buying the farm to start a cooking school. He also owns a restaurant in Melbourne called Love Pho. A man of many skills and many jokes.

First up, Chef Tan took us through the basics of making dressings, marinades, dipping sauces and stir-fry sauces. Surprisingly, the methods are really easy and can be applied to so many dishes! Then chopped, fried, rolled and ate the day away. Half way through the day we had a break and they provided hammocks for students to use. I didn’t use one but husband enjoyed a little kip.

The most surprising dish for me was the calamari dish, which actually turned out to be oyster mushrooms – the texture was so similar and for someone who doesn’t much like the taste, smell or texture of mushrooms, I was converted…for this dish only, anyway.

Here are the dishes we cooked (in some cases, husband did a way better job than I did, so I used his dishes for photos haha):

Vietnam
Time in the garden picking fresh herbs

 

Vietnam
Spring rolls before and after cooking

 

Vietnam
Growing oyster mushrooms

 

Vietnam
Bo la lot before and after cooking

 

Vietnam
Green mango salad with chicken

 

Vietnam
Banana spring rolls during preparation and once cooked

 

Vietnam
Tamarind stir fry sauce and finished stir fry with duck

 

Vietnam
Banh mi and preparing pickles for the banh mi

 

Vietnam
Calamari (mushrooms) and clay pot chicken

 

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Bun during preparation and in the bowl

 

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I really enjoyed this class and I’d recommend to anyone, regardless of their skill level.

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Details:
HCM Cooking Class
Web: hochiminhcookingclass.com

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Kinsale – the foodie capital of Ireland

If you have been following us on Instagram, you will have noticed that I was recently Europe (though, it feels like a lifetime ago). Each country I travelled to opened up a new window of food opportunities to explore. Now, if I were to ever win the lottery, I would eat my way around the world in an absolute heartbeat! This trip cemented the idea, and lets hope one day I can actually make it a reality!

One of the most surprising foodie finds on my trip was Ireland. For those who know me, know I lived there for a year many moons ago, and I was quite familiar with the few traditional meals they have; potato, colcannon, potato, irish stew, potato, boxty pancakes, potato, soda bread, and more potato. Seriously, the Irish love their potatoes so much that I had it 5 ways on a plate one night as part of a Sunday roast!

Before I depart for any trip (even if its only a weekend away), I do my standard food research, and it was no different for Ireland. We were planning a few days in Cork, and one of the suggested ideas was to drive a further 30 minutes south to a small town called Kinsale. What a delight it was!Untitled design (11)

Kinsale is a historic port and fishing town, about 25km south of Cork. It is a beautiful, quaint town, and looked like a postcard with all brightly coloured buildings. Kinsale is known as the ‘foodie’ capital of Ireland, because of the beautiful fresh seafood that comes into port daily.

So what do you think we did? We went to a pub of course!

When travelling in Ireland, most of the food comes from a pub. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, you will find different styles of pubs, but rarely will you find restaurants or cafes like you would here in Australia (more so in the big cities). I always look forward to eating at a pub for a hearty, comforting and enjoyable experience!

So, for lunch on our day trip to Kinsale, we went to the Blue Haven Hotel, which claimed to have the best seafood chowder in Ireland! I may or may not have already eaten four bowls of seafood chowder in four days…so from my expert knowledge, I agree, this chowder was tops! My friends also had excellent meals; a chicken and mushroom pie (to die for!), scotch eggs with crispy potato skins, and a wonderfully fresh toastie.Untitled design (10)

If I haven’t sold you on Kinsale already, you absolutely must go for the chocolate. Koko Kinsale handmade Irish chocolates are decadent and, sorry I have to say, to die for! We only stopped in to get the driver a coffee before we drove home, and we all bought a few chocolates for the road! There was such an extensive selection of chocolates and truffles, and I would love to tell you all about the flavours, but as soon as I tasted their salted caramel chocolate I soon forgot all the others. I do not say this often, but golly that was some of the best chocolate I’ve tasted. So much so, my sister and I went back into the shop to purchase more because the two salted caramels we purchased weren’t enough! If only his chocolates could be shipped to Australia!

I so loved my little journey to Kinsale, it has definitely gone into the bank of memories, and added to the list of hidden gems!

Where have you been and fallen in love with the food? Where is your hidden gem?

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Mel is off to Europe….

Yep. Mel is off to Europe. Without me, unfortunately.

In fact, by the time you read this, she is probably already enjoying gelato (or more likely gelati) in Rome.

So why should you read on? Because But first, we eat! is going to get even better!

As you’d imagine, Mel isn’t your ordinary traveller, she’s one of those foodie tourists. After recent discussions with her, I discovered that she doesn’t have a to-do list as such, it’s more of an EAT list. She spent the last few months scouring the internet for all the delicacies, traditions and must-have food items in each country she is visiting. Even though I’m quite jealous, I’m looking forward to the many photos she’ll take and post to our Instagram account. I can live hungrily through her adventures. She’s currently in Rome and then off to:

  • Florence, Italy
  • Lucerne, Switzerland (fondue!)
  • Burgundy, France
  • Paris, France
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Galway, Ireland
  • Cork, Ireland
  • London, England

So, if you haven’t already followed followed us on Instagram, you can do that here.

Also, because we live in the age of technology, you can send her your recommendations and she’ll add them to her list while she’s on the road.

 

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