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Eat and Drink

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    A loaf of bread A Jug of Wine & Thou

    Hikers Cannot Live on Bread Alone

    A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou.” —Omar Khayyam

    The sentiment in Khayyam’s words are not lost  on me. Particularly as I try to walk my Camino with an open mind for a simple life. Medieval pilgrims certainly would have been grateful for bread alone and may have subsisted solely on it – with a watery soup and wine thrown in from time to time.

    Tortilla Espanola

    But man I want a salad.

    As in most European countries bread is life.  In Spain the Panaderia on every corner is busy from the break of day.  This is true in the cities and in the small villages we walk through.  Some small towns we find the “Bread man” (my term) driving through the streets honking his horn.  Kinda like the ice cream man when I was a kid.

    Croissant with ham and cheese

    Boccadilla

    Along the Camino finding food is a bit of a challenge unless you are in a large city.  And finding food that includes nice fresh produce is even harder.  And dinner before 8pm? Forget about it.

    Likely for convenience and cost, the places that pop up for sustenance on the Camino sell baguette sandwiches called bocadilla, or the national dish of Spain, Tortilla Espinosa (an egg and potato torta/omelette), and coffee.  Sometimes apples and bananas.  This is what is considered both breakfast and lunch food.  It’s cheap and easy to carry.

    I’ve learned to pick up fresh fruit when I see it and stash it in our pack.  Clearly we are a long way from starving but a girl needs something to help her walk 14 miles each day.

    Eggplant Hummus

    A couple of days ago on a particularly uninhabited stretch of our walk I had  ham and cheese on a dry baguette for breakfast, tuna on hard focaccia for lunch and ham and cheese on baguette for dinner.

    That was the day I said no more bread.  No mas!

    And there was the one night we shared a can of tuna and a whole zuchinni while laying in bed.

    At the end of each day we can usually find what is

    One salad mixta from a very good Peregrino dinner

    called the Peregrino Dinner.  In every town we have found this except for one.  This meal is usually $10-12 Euro and includes two or three courses with choices.  The first course may be a choice of salad mixta, soup or pasta.  I always get the salad which 99% of the time is lettuce, tomato, canned tuna and maybe carrot and egg.

    But the second course is ALWAYS French fries with some meat.  You can choose chicken, pork, beef or

    This was an excellent salad in Burgos

    maybe veal or lamb.  No veg.

    Sigh.  I just want some nice zucchini or spinach or green beans or kale por favor!

    One evening we did encounter a Peregrino Dinner with a vegetarian option.  I happily ordered the vegetarian paella instead of meat and fries.  It was warm and yummy saffron rice with peas, beans, cauliflower and carrots.

    In our 16 days on the Camino our best meals have

    Catalan soup with pork and pasta

    come in the bigger towns.  No surprise.  I’m still dreaming about the Caesar Salad and Eggplant hummus we had in Pamplona or the beautiful Salad Mixta with fresh tuna, asparagus and beets I had with Catalon soup in Burgos.  And the best peregrino meal we enjoyed was a pork knuckle and the first course was fresh baby artichoke hearts with lemon in Puenta la Reina.  Happiness on a plate.

    Thumbs up for this Paella

    And so I’ve grown even more appreciative of fresh food with fresh ingredients and a variety of fruits and vegetables.  And when I can’t get it, well I am then grateful on those days for a loaf of bread, a jug of wine and thou.

    Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; – Ecclesiastes 9:7

    191 miles done.  298 to go!

    Buen Camino!

     

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    To Market To Market

    Buying local, eating local on the Grand Adventure

    I finally found a scale to weigh myself for the first time in nearly three months and was pleasantly surprised. Down a total of 19lbs since leaving the USA nearly nine months ago.

    Night market Chiang Mai Thailand

    I attribute that partially to exercise, although

    Sunday market Luang Prabang Laos

    I was very active in the US too, so mostly I attribute it to a new way of eating.

    Our food intake is fresh and local and slow. No fast food. No junk food. And almost all organic.

    And this without any effort.  Fresh, local and

    The Lagos Saturday market

    organic is everywhere. Easily accessible, affordable and a way of life in most places we have been

    “Helping” in the city organic garden Hoi An Vietnam

    (except of course in the crazy lettuce – free country of the Seychelles).

    Beautiful cherries in Bulgaria

    We shop in grocery stores but the majority of our ingredients come from markets, such as the Saturday morning produce Market here

    Daily market in Split Croatia

    in Lagos where we shopped this morning and the daily fresh fish market here which is open 365 days a year.

    Some of my favorite fresh markets we have enjoyed over the past nine months include the massive

    Veliko Tărnovo market

    market in Chiang Mai Thailand, the daily produce market in Veliko Tărnovo Bulgaria, and both the daily market and the fish market in Split Croatia.

    Fish market in Split Croatia

    Even when shopping at the tiny shops or major grocery chains you find local and fresh and seasonal. It’s such a nice way to shop and cook.

    So local markets are part of our Grand Adventure making healthy eating an easy and satisfying way to live.

    Daily fish market Lagos Portugal

    To Market, To Market to buy – well to buy whatever is available and fresh today.  Happy, healthy me.

    Fabulous!

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    Come and Cook

    Chapter Ten – Cooking in Portugal

    As I do in nearly every country, I signed up to take a cooking class here in Portugal. It’s no secret how much I love to cook especially using local, fresh ingredients – and how much I love to eat too!

    Here in Lagos it was a special day to be able to visit the New Forest Lodge with my son Erik. He also enjoys cooking and together we spent the day about 30 minutes drive outside of Lagos in the hills above the city.

    One of the things I find most interesting about these classes I take is meeting local people and often meeting them in their own homes. At the New Forest Lodge we spent the day with Frances a transplant from England and her son-in-law Milton a Portuguese. Their family began offering cooking classes about 8 years ago and also have three rooms available at the lodge. Additionally they offer horseback rides throughout the region.

    Well I am not a horse person, but I definitely like to cook, so a day in the kitchen and in front of the wood burning oven was enjoyable, despite the 85 degree Portuguese summer temperatures.

    We started with a trip to the small Mercado in Aljezur, about a 15 minute drive. The fish and produce here were beautiful. However the only item we purchased was fresh sardines. The rest of our produce would come from the New Forest Lodge gardens.

    Back in the kitchens Milton had the wood burning oven at optimal heat and we began by creating four different kinds of breads; breadsticks, pumpkin bread, chorizo wrapped crescents and olive and sundried tomato wheat bread.

    Midday we took a break and ate the breadsticks with a delicious and healthy dip made from sweet potato, chilies, lime and garlic.

    We spent the rest of the day preparing and cooking a delicious layered dish with the Portuguese favored bacalhau (salt Cod) that included onions, peppers, potatoes and cream and nutmeg then cooked in the wood burning oven.  We then prepped and cooked prawns, and a prawn stock, both of which went into the  Arroz de Camarao.

    We also made Paneer cheese (yes like you would have in an Indian restaurant) which was very simply made just from milk and lemon juice then hung in cheesecloth to drip all the moisture out.

    The beautiful sardines we got at the market were salted and left to sit for about an hour. The salt makes it so the skin can be easily removed after cooking. Then the sardines were grilled over an open flame – this ended up being Erik’s job with the help of Milton (Note Milton’s Seattle t-shirt he bought at a flea market).

    While Erik was at the grill fellow student Emma was making the rice and I was prepping a tomato salad with some of the loveliest tomatoes I’ve ever seen. We finished the tomato salad by crumbling the finished paneer over it and dousing with olive oil.

    We took a stroll around the garden where many beautiful and familiar items were flourishing like peppers, zucchini, pumpkins and tomatoes in addition to some items I wasn’t familiar with. The cute little cucamelon tastes like a cucumber and looks like a tiny watermelon. Cho Cho looks like a green gourd and tastes like a cucumber and Lovage looks like dill and tastes like celery.

    The fruits of our labor were enjoyed at the end of the day with a spectacular feast, lots of vino verde (a delicious local summer wine) and finishing with Tarte da Nata a light and fluffy famous Portuguese dessert made simply from cream, condensed milk and a cookie crust similar to graham crackers

    We enjoyed cooking with our new friends Maureen and Emma from South Africa and spending the day with Francine and Milton on the family unique little homestead.  I recommend the day of cooking course at New Forest Lodge if you are in Lagos. If you are a horse lover, that part of the business looked fun too.

    And by the way I learned two really cool facts during this excursion- Portugal used to be a major producer of wine corks.   We saw how cork trees grow and how cork is harvested.  With the advent of artificial corks and screw tops the world e cork market took a dive.  Today Portuguese cork production has diversified into shoes, handbags and trivets .  In addition I learned how pine nuts come from a specific low growing rounded pine tree, that is both cultivated and grows wild here in southern Portugal.  The pine cones are heated to open them and release the valuable little nut inside, so that you can have your lovely pesto!

    So my day was very educational. I’m ready to head to the local fish monger now, because I’m pretty sure the  preparation we used on the sardines could be done on many different fish. And I definitely need to make the bacalhau dish. I loved that.

    So once again it was a great day and worth every penny. It ticked all the boxes that are important to me: meet locals, meet other traveling foodies, learn local culture, eat and cook fresh and local ingredients.

    A fabulous day!

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    Feed Me

    Chapter Ten -Eat Portugal

    Well we have only been in Portugal five days and we have already experienced an amazing array of fabulous, fresh and delicious foods. And one dud.

    We have a great kitchen in our Airbnb but except for  yogurt and beer the fridge is bare. I think I will cook tonight. It’s just been too tempting to explore the dining scene in Lisbon. And explore we have!  Like famished wolves.

    If you plan to be in Lisbon and the surrounding area take note. I highly recommend checking out these

    Fried Chicken at El Rei de Frango

    places:

    El Rei d’Frango – we waited twenty minutes for a table at this tiny hole in the wall place specializing in “Frango” chicken. It was very inexpensive and very delicious. They have other items in the menu too but we really enjoyed the Frango Frito (fried chicken) and the Frango Bras – a Portuguese specialty of chicken with Cod. A must visit. Thanks to my friend Donna for the recommendation.

    Canto de Villa Bistro – while exploring the old town area of Alfama we randomly chose this restaurant

    Bean Hash at Canto de Villa

    and had a spectacular lunch or Portuguese specials. We enjoyed a bean and vegetable soup, a bean and ham hash with egg as well as a Cod bras.  A perfect way to test the waters as we get to know the local cuisine.

    Bacalhau Na Villa – we spent a day in Sintra  we wanted a light lunch before we climbed the mountain to the palace.  I was headed to a touristy place near the center but Erik insisted we wander

    Cod Bras at Bacalhau Na Villa

    back in the narrow alleys and look for something. Good idea.  We found this restaurant specializing in Cod.  Amazing.  Cod is a staple in

    Octopus salad and chickpea salad at Bacalhau

    Portugal , even though the Cod they eat comes from Norway and Canada.  There is no locally caught Cod and there never has been.  It’s very interesting that it is such a staple.  We had a wonderful meal including Octopus salad, chickpea salad, Cod bras and green salad with crispy Cod skin.  We loved it.

    The crab at Cervejaria Ramiro

    Tiger Prawns

    Our best meal hands down so far was at Cervejaria Ramiro just two blocks from our Airbnb.  Expect to wait for a table but it’s worth it.  This popular
    restaurant is considered by the locals as Lisbon’s best. And Anthony Bourdain agrees when he was here a few years ago.  Bourdain’s endorsement has brought the tourists to eat with the locals but the
    food and service remains stellar.  Lucky for us we were dining with a local, a friend of Erik’s names Salvador who lives in Lisbon. We gave him free-reign to order for us and with abandon.

    We started with small shrimps followed by sweet tiny steamed clams.  Next was a spectacular whole crab served with a soup made from the crab guts.

    Crab

    Sounds gross?  I couldn’t get enough.  One of the most delicious and unique things I’ve ever had.  Next we ate giant tiger prawns and for some reason it’s tradition to end the seafood meal with a small beef sandwich.  I could eat that beautiful beef sandwich everyday for the

    Beef sandwhich

    rest of my life.

    After all this I declined dessert but Erik and Salvador enjoyed a lime vodka ice cream.  The beer flows freely here and bread too.  They keep bringing both unless you tell them to stop.  A great local experience and meal.  Don’t miss it when in Lisbon.

    Organi Chiado – this was another recommendation from a friend, Scott who was here just last month,

    Fish cake and veg at Organi Chiado

    so we checked it out.  Recently opened this organic place is making a name for itself with its incredible fresh and healthy offerings. The menu changes each day and is pretty small, but really good. We loved the tuna and the fish cake both served with green salad, grilled veg and brown rice.  We also tried the carrot and coconut soup and the gluten-free rice bread was excellent.  If the weather is good sit outside.

    Unfortunately I have one thumbs down – our most expensive meal was the worst. Clube de Fado was a huge and expensive mistake.  The music was

    Tough and unseasoned veal at Clube de Fado

    delicious, the food was not.  My veal chop was like shoe leather and completely lacking seasoning. For $33 Euro it was unacceptable.  There are many, many places to enjoy the beautiful Fado music- find somewhere other than Clube de Fado.

    So if you are going to be in Lisbon, be ready to eat local and enjoy this fabulous cuisine of Portugal.  I plan to take a cooking class when we get to Algarve next week so watch for that blog coming soon!

    Feed me! Fabulous!

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    Food As Culture and History

    Chapter Nine – Croatian Cooking

    It’s my goal in each country to take a cooking class.  It is always an unforgettable experience – as much about culture and history as it is about food. Unfortunately it didnt happen in New Zealand, Seychelles or Bulgaria. But here in Croatia I’m back at it, and enjoyed last night an amazing cultural Croatian experience at the historic Agroturizam Kameni Dvori

    Coming to Dubrovnik?  Make this a priority. Definitely.

    Our tour guide Marija with Dubrovnik Food Story picked me up right across the street from our Airbnb. I joined one other couple, Americans on their honeymoon from Dallas.  We drove about 35 minutes into the hills outside of Dubrovnik, enjoying the scenic views along the way. Our destination Kameni Dvori in the village of Livorno in the Konovale region. This tiny part of Croatia is about ten minutes west of the border with Bosnia Herzegovina and 15 miles north of the border with Montenegro and is steeped in agricultural as well as border conflict history.

    We were greeted on arrival by Katerina, one member of the 16 member family that lives on this site. The family Mojo can trace their ancestors in this very house back to 1536. Remarkable.

    Katarina welcomed us with two kinds of homemade grappa, two kinds of homemade candy and dried figs followed by a brief tour of the main house which is now used for the cooking classes, a taverna and for dining for guests of the inn.

    The massive open fireplace dwarfs the tiny kitchen where we headed next to make Turkish coffee.  While we sat and enjoyed our coffee Katarina and Marija talked about some of the history of the house and the family. Then it was time to head to the garden.

    Baskets in hand we proceeded to gather the fresh ingredients for our dinner picking tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans, celery and parsley.  Then we toured the rest of the garden where everything from laurel trees, figs,olives and pomegranates grow.  We gathered eggs from the happy Croatian chickens and headed back to the kitchen.

    First job was to get the fresh bread mixed and kneeded and set it to rise. Next we whipped a dozen egg whites to a lovely froth, added sugar and flour to prepare the traditional Croatian wedding cake called padispanj. While it baked we popped in to the car and drove to the next farm over where we milked a goat. My first milking experience! Thank goodness for a patient goat!  It was fun, not too difficult and surprisingly warm!!

    Milk pail in hand we thanked the neighbor and looked forward to the goat cheese we would be having at dinner thanks to her goats.  Back to the kitchens we went where it was time to start the fire for the main attraction the Peka, traditional Croatian meat and potato dish .  It takes an hour to get the coals hot enough in the fireplace so while the fire burned we prepared a vegetable soup with hand made gnocchi.  Our gnocchi was not potatoe but made simply with egg, olive oil and semolina flour.

    Next we sliced eggplant and zucchini dipped in corn flour and fried it golden brown on the stove, then let it sit on paper towels.

    When the coals were ready the Peka was prepared – olive oil (produced on the farm) is poured into a large round and shallow pan.  Into the pan goes veal, lamb, garlic, onion and salt.  A layer of potatoes goes on top and then it is placed into the fire and covered with a giant steel “bell”.  Ashes are placed all around to seal and then the bell is covered with coals.  Now it bakes for 90 minutes.  Oh the smell!

    Peka is a complicated and time -consuming dish. Not something you would prepare everyday. It is for special occasions and unfortunately there is no “quickie” version.  If you don’t have a giant fireplace you aren’t going to be making Peka.

    While the Peka was on the fire we hiked up to the top of the property to survey the estate. Here you can see the entire valley and all the way to the Adriatic Sea. We learned more about the incredible history, including that during the 1991 war the Yugoslav Army occupied the village and the estate and the family fled into old Dubrovnik. Luckily the estate was not destroyed, although many things were stolen.  Not everyone was so lucky.

    Back to the kitchen and it was time for dinner. We first enjoyed grappa and figs as well as our own bread with olive tapenade, pickled peppers and cheese from our friendly goat.  Next a beautiful selection of smoked meats they do on the farm and a different cheese from our goat as well as sliced fresh tomatoes and our fried eggplant and zucchini.

    Next the Peka was served and it was incredible.  The lamb so tender and the veal falling apart.  Best potatoes I ever had.  When our platter was empty and we were all full here comes another platter full! All of this washed down with both white and red wine made on the farm. Delicious.

    We ended our Croatian feast with our light and airy cake with a cup of warm fresh goats milk and mint tea.

    A remarkable experience.  I felt very much a part of this family and their remarkable tradition and dedication to their culture and history- all while enjoying a spectacular meal based on sustainable farming and dedication to historical practices.

    When you are in Dubrovnik, make this a priority. And anywhere you travel – slow down and embrace food as culture and history.

    Hvala to Dubrovnik Food Storyand Kameni Dvori. Hvala!

     

     

     

     

    Eat and Drink

    Mexicano es Delicioso

    Capítulo Nueve

    When we were leaving the USA I was often asked what I thought I would miss the most. Of course I answered my family and friends and often included the beautiful Pacific Northwest, reliable technology and my bike.

    Not once did my answers include Mexican Food.

    But being out here now going on eight months I’ve been craving Mexican food so bad!  The last Mexican restaurant we saw was in December in Phuket Thailand. Since then – nada.

    So when we stumbled on a place just a couple blocks from our house in Dubrovnik I was all over it. I mean really, in the USA it’s “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Mexican Food” right?

    Maybe it’s a West Coast thing but in our house we cooked Mexican about once a week and went out for Mexican about once a month. When I was working I had a Taco Time Taco Salad for lunch at least twice a week.

    So it was much of a surprise when I realized the entire world doesn’t inhale Mexican food like we do. You can get a pizza in every country (even the stingy Seychelles). You can find pasta almost anywhere. But Mexican? No va a pasar!

    I got my fix tonight and am fat and happy. Who knows when I will get a fajita again?  So until then muchos gracias!

    Eat and Drink  --  Travel Around the World

    The Dish on Dining

    Chapter Eight

    As the time goes on all aspects of The Grand Adventure get easier. We are comfortable.  Even eating (both dining out and cooking in) have fallen into a workable pattern. I can make a delicious dinner in an unfamiliar kitchen like nobody’s business!

    In the beginning I freaked out a little as I encountered and inspected each new kitchen.  Hoping for a colander, a non-stick skillet and a can opener were my constant worry. French Press? Forget about it.

    Fresh cherries in Bulgaria

    Now we just make it work.  We eat the same thing for breakfast everyday – yogurt and fruit and coffee (usually instant coffee in most countries).  We eat lunch out more often than dinner but lunch might also be a sandwich or a picnic of meat and cheese and fruit.  Sometimes lunch is leftovers – just like at home.

    Salad and Bulgarian wine

    When we arrive at each new place we determine whether there is a large grocery store (Asia and New Zealand had great ones) or a tiny convenience store with limited selection (like in the Seychelles) near by. We also scope out fresh produce farmer’s markets.  Here in Sozopol there is a well stocked small market, but it is more expensive than the larger “Lidl” store in Burgas.  We were in Burgas today so we stopped and picked up a few things.

    Homemade tacos in the Seychelles

    Because we are on a pretty strict budget we eat out only a few times each week.  In the Seychelles we averaged $56 a day for two, but only ate out three times in the entire month.  In Vietnam we averaged $31 per day for three people and we ate out most meals. Here in Bulgaria we are averaging $38 and we are eating out about a third of the time.

    Swedish meatballs in the Kiwi Karavan

    If we weren’t making the effort to cook regularly our food costs would be two or three times what it is.

    We try not to eat too many carbs but we fall back on pasta and risotto when necessary, like in the Seychelles when choice was so limited. We also make things like chicken and pork and local dishes when we can, like in Thailand and Vietnam where I was able to take cooking classes. Here in early summer in Bulgaria the produce is excellent and it’s easier to go light on the carbs and bulk up in the veg and protein. Last night we had a simple pork chop

    Fresh ingredients available in Bulgaria

    Our small but well stocked kitchen in Tărnovo

    with sliced tomato and cucumber salad.  Bulgaria has offered us for the first time in our travels kitchens with ovens!  I made stuffed cabbage one night and tonight it’s noodle-less lasagna with zucchini and eggplant.  I can smell it in the oven now and it smells wonderful.

    We have a small supply of spices we carry with us along with two knives and a flexible plastic cutting board.  Awhile back I saw a collapsible rubber colander and I sure wish I had bought it.  It’s rare to have a kitchen that includes one.  I’ve always used a colander a lot – not just for pasta but for washing

    This kitchen in Hanoi was poorly stocked

    In Koh Samui we all took turns cooking

    fruits and veg.

    Another item that is often MIA in many kitchens is a can opener.  We have one coming when Arne’s mom visits us next month. How can you have a kitchen without a can opener?  So I put it on my wish list for special delivery with several other items she is bringing.

    We have had kitchens without towels or hot pads and usually no vegetable peeler. We have had

    I leaned to cook Thai from this new friend

    kitchens with excellent crockery and professional pots and pans. We have had kitchens with no hot water and others with no salad bowl. It’s a crap shoot.

    When we arrive in each new place I buy staples like olive oil, vinegar, eggs, yogurt and fruit.  We explore our shopping options and our kitchen landscape

    I learned to cook Vietnamese in Hoi An

    and decide how we are going to eat.  In Asia it was cheaper to eat out than cook at home.  In Seychelles it was expensive no matter what.

    I’m blessed with a husband who will eat anything, but in our Fab Fifties we are more conscious of how we eat.  Arne has lost more weight than I have, but I have dropped at least 15 lb since leaving the US. Lack of junk food plays a big part.

    Lots of noodles.

    I really enjoy being creative in the kitchen.  So it works out nicely and we eat pretty darn well, even when we have less than adequate kitchens or access to fresh produce.

    Food glorious food.  A fun part of The Grand Adventure!