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    Food & Drink

    Tasty Tuesday Travel Tour

    Touring the World Through Food Every Week

    Chinese Halibut

    What is a Tasty Tuesday Travel Tour? If you love travel like I do, you are probably feeling a little tense right now. When can we go? Where will be able to go? And when? And where? AND WHEN?

    Okay, take a deep breath. We all need to stay safe. I’m doing a few “staycations” around my region, and trying to be patient and wait.

    One thing I have started as a way to help me get through this lull in travel is my new series on YouTube called Tasty Tuesday. Each week I’m presenting a new and delicious dish I’ve learned to make on my travels. You can join me every Tuesday and travel around the world with me through food. It’s a Tasty Tuesday Travel Tour! And it’s free!

    Follow me on YouTube and let’s travel through our taste buds!!! Here is a link to this week’s TASTY TUESDAY.

    Thanks for all your love and support. Be safe my friends and enjoy TASTY TUESDAY TRAVEL TOUR!!

    See all the previous Tasty Tuesday’s here.

    Watch for a blog next Friday all about Wild Caught Alaskan White Fish. See our previous blog about Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon here.

    We love it when you share our blog!

    Eat Around the World
    Tasty Tuesday

    The link below is an affiliate link meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

    https://wildalaskancompany.com/?discount=15off&avad=270677_a1bfe852d

    At Home  --  Food & Drink

    Wild Caught Alaska Salmon

    Fresh, Delicious and Delivered Right to Your Door! Salmon Recipes Included.

    Location: Washington State USA

    Back in the day…

    I grew up in the Pacific Northwest in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Back in the day, salmon was cheap, local, abundant and taken for granted.  Today, salmon is not as abundant in the waters of the Puget Sound.  In fact, growing up with fresh salmon, oysters, clams, Dungeness crab and many other stars of the sea right in my backyard, I know now, we took it all for granted. This is how I have falling in love with wild caught Alaska salmon.

    Fast forward forty years and as I travel around the world in my nomad life (currently on pause due to that inconvenient little virus), from Malaysia to Spain, I’ve run across some truly remarkable, unique and delicious fish I was never familiar with before.  And I’ve also learned that most people around the world are eating farm raised salmon…that disgusting excuse of a fish.  It’s why I never order salmon in a restaurant anymore unless it says wild caught Alaska salmon. 

    salmom
    It’s like Christmas in July!

    Back home in Washington State I don’t buy fish in my grocery store much either, because it is either Atlantic farm raised or thawed from previously frozen – and I’m unclear of how long ago that might have been.   Did you know approximately 91% of the seafood that the United States consumes is imported from overseas? A significant portion of that fish is un-sustainably farmed. It is harmful to the environment and unhealthy for humans. Gross.  

    There used to be a woman in my hometown of Gig Harbor who had a small business selling wild Alaska salmon her husband caught in the summer.  But she is no longer operating which led me to go searching for other options.

    And boom.  There it is.  I discovered the Wild Alaskan Company.  Best Google search ever!

    Wild Alaskan Company

    What a great story this company has.  A family run, sustainably fished, environmentally conscious business with an amazing product you can have delivered right to your door.  What you say?  No joke.  And, the customer service is remarkable.

    Wild Alaskan Company
    So much yummy goodness in my box

    I’ve been a member now for two months and we are eating so healthy having this beautiful fish in my freezer.  Wild Alaskan offers monthly membership (cancel anytime), with door to door delivery of your choice of a box of salmon, or white fish, or mixed.  I am currently enjoying the mixed which includes coho, sockeye, cod and halibut.  I did a special order too of sable fish (often called Black Cod).  Wild Alaskan salmon is always frozen soon after it’s caught to lock in that fresh taste.  You want it frozen – that’s what makes it taste fresh. Seems weird but it works.

    Wild Alaskan has given me an affiliate relationship, which means at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and join the fish club.  AND if you use this link you will get $15 off your first order! So please check out the recipes I am providing to you below and place your order for your first box, and get cooking and enjoying unique and sustainable wild caught Alaskan fish – the best in all the world.

    Watch for a blog in a couple weeks all about recipes for white fish. Meanwhile enjoy these;

    Simply Salmon

    Simply salmon
    Simply Salmon ready for the BBQ
    simply salmon
    Simply Salmon on top of a delicious salad

    Frankly when the fish is this fresh, it really doesn’t need much done to it, and that is why Simply Salmon is one of my favorite preparations, especially in the summer.  Easy and delicious  

    Serves Two

    Two 6 oz Fillets Wild Alaskan Salmon thawed and placed on foil

    Smear one teaspoon of butter on each

    Squeeze juice of one lemon over all

    Salt and pepper to taste.

    Wrap salmon up in the foil leaving a vent at the top and place on hot BBQ for about five – seven minutes, test it for doneness it may need a few more minutes but be sure not to overcook.

    Enjoy.

    Smothered Salmon

    Salmon recipes
    Smothered salmon going into the oven
    Baked salmon
    Smothered salmon over a bed of barley salad with warm vinegaret

    This recipe works both for the BBQ or the oven and we have served this both summer and winter.

    Serves Two

    Two 6 oz fillets Wild Alaskan Salmon thawed

    Place salmon skin side down on a foil covered cookie sheet if using the oven, or on a large enough piece of foil to put on the BBQ

    In a separate bowl mix two tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of coarse ground dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese

    Smear each piece of salmon with mixture and bake at 350 degrees or BBQ until done.

    Squeeze of lemon before serving

    Salmon Lox

    salmon lox
    Salmon Lox with weights ready to go in the fridge
    Salmon Lox
    My favorite breakfast, lox and bagles with fresh made lox

    One of my favorite breakfasts in the world is lox and bagels with cream cheese, until recently when I learned that much of the lox I have been eating is farm raised.  So I made up this recipe for my own.

    Two 6 oz fillets Wild Alaskan Salmon thawed

    Set the salmon on your cutting board and let air-dry for about 20 minutes.  Then pour one teaspoon of good gin over each fillet.  Let sit for another ten minutes.

    Meanwhile in small bowl mix 1.5 tablespoons sugar

    1 tablespoon kosher salt

    1-2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper, preferably a mix of black, white and red peppercorns (I use my mortar and pestle for this)

    1/3 cup fresh chopped dill fronds

    Place one salmon fillet skin side down on large piece of cellophane.  Top with sugar mixture.  Place second piece of salmon on top of it – skin side up – to make a salmon sandwich.  Wrap tightly in cellophane, use another piece of cellophane if necessary to seal it.

    Place the salmon in a shallow dish such as a pie plate then top with another dish big enough to hold several cans of beans or tomatoes or whatever you have.   These will serve as a weight.  Place in the refrigerator for 3-4 days, turning once or twice a day and draining the liquid that collects in the dish.

    Slice then and Eat!

    Salmon Pie

    salmon pie
    Beautiful and cheesy salmon pie
    salmon pie for dinner
    Salmon Pie is delicious both hot or cold

    Well, having salmon leftovers is really unusual, but if you find yourself in such a situation, this is an old family recipe from my husband’s side of the family.  It was one of my kid’s favorite things when they were growing up.  

    Serves Four

    In the bottom of a deep dish nine inch pie shell layer one cup of cheddar cheese.  Take about 2 cups of cooked salmon broken into pieces and toss with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Layer the mixture on top of the cheddar cheese.

    Chop one bunch of green onions including tops and sauté in two tablespoons of butter.  To this mixture and on medium heat add one can cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon dry dill and 1/8 teaspoon white pepper.  Cook until combined and bubbly.  Remove from heat and stir in two eggs.  Pour mixture over the top of the salmon and cheese in the pie shell.  Place the pie on a cookie sheet then bake for 30 min in a 325 degree oven.  Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Good both hot or cold.

    Smoked Salmon

    As part of my weekly TASTY TUESDAY on YouTube, our final recipe is a video, with instructions on how simple and delicious it can be to smoke your own Alaska salmon.  You only need salmon, water, salt and brown sugar to create a delicious smoked salmon.

    And there you go – my top five salmon preparations, each one made better with wild caught Alaska salmon.  I’d love to hear from you if you try any of these recipes!  And watch for more great fish recipes coming your way soon.

    Healthy, delicious and fun.  Use this link and save with Wild Alaskan Company. What could be better?

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    See this week’s best performing pin here.

    Africa & The Middle East Travel  --  Food & Drink

    Exploring the Flavors of Mauritius

    A Melting Pot of Cuisines

    Location: Mauritius Island, Indian Ocean

    Culture Clash

    The flavors of Mauritius come from cuisines far and wide. The Island of Mauritius was uninhabited by humans until the arrival of Arabs in the 12th century. Then the Portuguese and Dutch dropped by and eventually the French and British colonized the island. The Dutch used the island as a stopover port between Madagascar and India and later for harvesting the ebony tree. Slaves were brought from Madagascar to assist in that pursuit.

    Sugarcane occupies 36% of the islands total area

    The French brought more slaves from the African continent in the 1700’s. Those slaves brought with them much of the African cultural foods and spices attributed to the flavors of Mauritius on the island today. French is still the main language of the island.

    Tea for every ailment

    The British claimed the island in 1810 and slavery was abolished in 1835. To maintain the growing sugar cane industry the British secured indentured servants from China and Malaysia and eventually a large number from India. Much of the island today feels more Indian than African and Hinduism is the largest religion.

    Salt from the island

    Today sugarcane remains the top crop of the island. Tea was once a major crop, but has declined over the years, but still is grown. Salt flats also once prolific have dwindled. Most grains are imported and many vegetables come from South Africa.

    Tea tasting and Tea plantation tours are popular activity for visitors

    African Influence

    Today exploring the cultural foods of Mauritius is a colorful collection of the history of slavery, indenture and colonialism. Creole cuisine traces its history directly to those brought from the African nations to work the sugar cane.

    Fish Curry made in our cooking class

    While visiting Mauritius we enjoyed a wide variety of Creole foods, both traditional and Nuevo. Creole is a common cuisine enjoyed on the island and we ate it in several locations as well as took an intensive Creole Cooking Class from a local chef (Diary of a Foodie Lover) who helped us explore the flavors of Mauritius. In our class we learned to make a fish curry, octopus salad, and my favorite, the flat bread known as farata.

    Making farata from scratch with Chef Didier

    Other Creole items we have enjoyed include rougaille – a spicy tomato based stew with chicken or fish – as well as Gaiteau another spicy fried ball made from lentils or chickpeas that you eat almost like popcorn, and hearts of palm salad – one of the most popular dishes on the island. The key to Creole cooking is the spices, very reminiscent of Africa. Many families and chefs create their own secret mixture, with the most popular additions being turmeric, coriander, curry, garlic, ginger, mustard seed, star anise, cloves, cardamom and thyme.

    Piment Crazer

    A spicy condiment called piment crazer is served along side bread in most restaurants. Watch out! Holy cow it is spicy. Made with chilies garlic and lemon it will make your eyes water!

    Smoked marlin salad with hearts of palm

    Prawns and fish are popular, of course, since this is an island. Marlin, not normally something you see on a menu, is favored smoked. You can find smoked marlin salads and sandwiches. Chicken is prolific. Although roti is traditionally an Indian bread, the use of roti as a wrapper for curry in the Creole style is common. Roti stands are abundant along the street and often have a very long line. It’s eaten for all three daily meals.

    Tandori Chicken with fried yams

    If you come to Mauritius we recommend a cooking class with Chef Didier and Mauritian Creole dinner at Creole Shack (casual) and Le Chamarel (fancy). Want to try fish curry at home? Here is a recipe.

    Asian Influence

    The term “coolie” was used in reference to those indentured servants who came from Asian countries, and although smaller in number their impact on the cuisine is still evident. The Asian immigrants are responsible for making rice a major part of every meal in Mauritius even though rice is not grown on the island.

    While visiting we had Chinois food several times. Similar to Chinese and Malaysian dishes we have eaten around the world, except the rice is Basmati. Every rice dish we were served while on the island was Basmati. No Chinese sticky rice like what we are used to. Basmati is a key ingredient in the flavors of Mauritius.

    Street vendor serving boulettes

    As in all Asian cuisines, vegetables, rice and noodles play a big role, with protein more of a garnish. On our street food walking tour with Taste Buddies in the capital city of Port Louis we loved the boulettes, a French word for a Chinese dumpling served throughout the island by street vendors.

    Boulettes in broth

    BBQ pork is also a popular dish – glazed with a cherry-honey mixture, the pork is served with fruit and not the spicy mustard we are used to from the USA.

    BBQ Pork with fruit

    And finally a very popular Chinese dish on the island is called Magic Noodles. It is a layered dish made in a bowl with a fried egg on the bottom, noodles and veg and then turned out onto the plate so the egg is on top. Very popular and very local.

    Magic upside down noodles

    If you come to Mauritius be sure to explore China Town in the capital city of Port Louis. Want to try Boulettes at home? Here is a recipe.

    Indian Influence

    Indo-Mauritians (both Muslim and Hindu) have had a major impact on the island economically, politically, culturally, and certainly in the cuisine. Today’s Indo-Mauritians trace their ancestry to the indentured servants who arrived during the colonial era. Hinduism is the largest religion on the island, and much of the population originates from the Tamil region in South India.

    We found Indian inspired foods everywhere, with some of our favorite flavors of Mauritius coming from street food vendors who prepare delicious roti (flat bread) stuffed with everything from vegetables to octopus, and samosa stuffed with potato and veg. We ate roti several times for breakfast, served hot off the grill at a vendor just down the street.

    Roti three ways; vegetable, chicken and lamb curry

    We learned a lot about this cuisine on our walking tour with Taste Buddies and enjoyed some local favorites like Dholl Puri, a light and delicate tortilla-like bread made from lentils. Sometimes stuffed with curry but often just stuffed with a spicy sambol sauce (sort of like salsa). Dholl Puri in Mauritius is always flat and soft, where in India it can be puffy.

    Dholl Puri – made from lentil flour

    We had a wonderful surprise when our Airbnb host brought us a full homemade meal of Dholl Puri. She made the delicious Dholl Puri herself and served it for us with Chicken Curry with potato and peas and along side some pickled vegetables and sambol. It was by far the best rendition we had on the island.

    Dholl Puri with pickled vegetables and chicken curry

    Our favorite Indian meal was at a restaurant close to our apartment called Zub. The service was excellent and the menu huge. We loved it.

    Our feast at Zub Express Indian Restaurant

    Want to try Dholl Puri at home? Here is a recipe.

    French Influence

    French influence on the cuisine is most evident in the abundant use of delicious baguette and other breads, puddings and desserts as well as bouillon, coq au vin and daube.

    Although Mauritius was a French colony for a much shorter period than when the British held it, the French influence is greater in the culture. The food and the language are French but the British left behind left-hand side driving.

    Entrecote with butter and frites

    We made a point to try French cuisine while on the island. Although many restaurants have menu items that salute the cuisine, we visited one of the highest rated French Restaurants in the town of Black River called Bistrot de la Poste about thirty minutes from where we were staying. The owner, a French man who was raised in Basque Country, chatted with us and welcomed us to his restaurant while we enjoyed a remarkable selection of French food and wine. The menu included canard, foie gras, frites, entrecote, and a lovely selection of French desserts.

    Canard with scalloped potato

    The island also grows its own coffee, and it is often served in the French style – strong and black. We tried three different locally grown coffees, all pretty good. Locals are very proud of their local brew, and you won’t find a Starbucks anywhere on the island. Most cafes we visited also served as a boulangerie and patisserie and included a wide selection of French style desserts and breads.

    Our favorite of the coffees we tried – Dodo Cafe

    The majority of visitors on the island are French, but there are also many guests from other countries around the world from honeymooners to families. This means in addition to the incredible selection of foods mentioned above, you will find pizza, pasta, burgers, sushi and a wide variety of other internationally loved dishes.

    A treat at the Boulangerie down the street from us

    Although we try not to eat out often in our travels (in an effort to stay on budget), we did try all the cultural influenced cuisines at least once during our six week visit. Food is the best way to learn about a place, to meet the locals and experience the culture and Mauritius is a tasty tapestry of delicious history, people and food.

    Just for you – I continue my quest to eat the world. I hope you enjoy!

    Check out our blog about the wildlife preservation efforts on Mauritius.

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    Asia Travel  --  Food & Drink

    The Surprising Foods of Myanmar

    Eating and Cooking My Way Through Myanmar

    Location: Inle Lake Myanmar

    On arrival the foods of Myanmar seemed less interesting to me than most places we have been. But four weeks in to our visit I have really learned to appreciate the cuisine, and in fact a few dishes have become favorites – the surprising foods of Myanmar.

    Tea Leaf Salad

    Local and Fresh

    Besides eating as often as possible at authentic restaurants where the locals eat, we made an effort to find a cooking school in the village Nyaungshwe, the town closest to where we are staying on Inle Lake. A little research online and I discovered the highly rated Bamboo Delights Cooking School. I’m very glad I did.

    Our feast at Bamboo Delight Cooking School

    We met with our host from Bamboo Delights at the Nyaungshwe morning market. We were joined by two women traveling together from Germany, and a couple from the Netherlands who are on an extended journey like ourselves.

    Bamboo Delight Cooking School

    At the Market

    We spent a good hour and a half exploring the wonderful morning market, gathering ingredients for our class as well as other ingredients for the Bamboo Delight Restaurant. Going to market with a local is always so interesting…with a guide you can ask questions and be informed not only about the products for sale but also the vendors selling them. Vendors are usually more likely to engage when you have an interpreter present.

    At the Market

    Our guide was known by nearly everyone at the market, so we were well received. We learned about many of the local lake and river fish, as well as the produce grown and gathered around the area and brought daily to the market. We learned about the regional chickpea tofu, and the handmade tofu snacks and rice crackers. We learned that onion prices have recently skyrocketed and tomatoes often sell out early. So colorful and very interesting.

    Chickpea Tofu at the market

    Learning to Cook

    At the cooking school we each got to choose two dishes to make. It was hard to choose because all the choices sounded so good – but in the end we all tasted all 12 dishes we made and there was MORE than enough to go around.

    Tofu making at Bamboo Delight Cooking School
    Making the Pennywort Salad at Bamboo Delight

    I made Pennywort Salad, although we were unable to find Pennywort in the market so we used Snap Pea tendrils instead. Pennywort is a plant that grows wild and I’ve seen on many menus but didn’t know what it was. I also made steamed butterfish, a local river fish.

    My husband Arne made Avocado Salad with rice crackers and a chicken and green pepper curry.

    Chickpea Tofu Curry

    Other participants made Curry Butterfish, Pumpkin Curry, Chicken Curry with Lemongrass, Eggplant Salad, Tea Leaf Salad, Chickpea Tofu Curry, Stir Fry Vegetables with mushrooms, bokchoy and garlic and Green Onion Dumplings.

    Shan version of Tea Leaf Salad front and Pennywort Salad back

    Other than the Tea Leaf Salad I had not eaten any of these dishes in Myanmar. I really enjoyed in particular the Chickpea Tofu Curry, the Pumpkin Curry and all of the salads. It was a real feast. I will definitely order these dishes again – the surprising foods of Myanmar.

    Time to eat!

    Regional Specialties

    Here in Inle Lake region we have also had three other really delicious local dishes. I’m pretty sure I could find the ingredients to make all of these at home. Served in multiple restaurants we have visited we enjoyed;

    Braised Pork with Shan Tea Leaves – tender pork in a melt in your mouth sauce served with rice. Shan foods are always cooked over a wood fire and aren’t usually as spicy as other regional food.

    Inle Spring Chicken with Cocunut – this dish in a rich and yummy coconut cream sauce with big chunks of boneless tender chicken. Inle Foods are usually cooked over charcoal instead of wood.

    Grandmother Style Inle Beef – tender chunks of beef have been marinated in rice wine then braised and served in a tomato gravy.

    Braised Pork with Shan Tea Leaves

    Soup for Breakfast

    Mohinga Fish Soup

    Soup is a popular dish for breakfast in Myanmar and I have become a big fan. And why not? It’s warm and filling and a delicious way to start your day. Mohinga is a fish soup and is considered the national dish of Myanmar (as is the Tea Leaf Salad) and though usually served for breakfast it is now eaten any time of day. At the market we watched a women with a giant vat of Mohinga serving up bowls to the locals for their breakfast.

    Mohinga being dished out at the market
    Chicken and Coconut Soup

    The beautiful resort we splurged on in Inle Lake (Myanmar Treasure Resort – I hight recommend) served a wonderful breakfast each morning with a wide variety of local and western options. Every morning a different soup was featured. My favorite soup was the local Shan Noodle Soup (see photo in title image) and the chicken Coconut Soup.

    The Surprising Foods of Myanmar

    Although the cuisine of Myanmar includes meat proteins, like in most Asian cuisines the meat does not feature as the main part of most dishes. Instead a wide variety of the freshest local vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits (both locally grown and locally gathered) as well as rich and flavorful broths, curries and stews.

    Steamed Butterfish

    The cuisine features peanuts in nearly every dish, and although I like peanuts I wish they were not so abundantly used. Also many dishes are heavily based in peanut oil, sometimes making a dish too rich for me.

    Although chilies are often used, sometimes abundantly, the Myanmar cuisine is not nearly as spicy as the cuisine of Thailand…but watch out for that garlic. It’s used in great quantities. However certain dishes can be very spicy, like the Shan pork and vegetable salad we had a teeny restaurant in Nyaungshwe. It seemed to be bathed in spicy chili oil.

    Spicy Pork Salad

    Coffee is pleasant not great, fruit juices are popular and beer is pretty much the standard Asian lager. It gets the job done. In Mandalay the local beer, called Mandalay, had a higher alcohol content. A popular drink is lime soda – fresh squeezed lime juice with club soda served with simple syrup on the side so you can sweeten to taste. Very refreshing.

    Myanmar is proud of its locally made whiskey, rum and the country has several wineries.

    Wine Tasting at Red Mountain Winery

    Farewell and Thank you

    So after a month in Myanmar I certainly am not starving. In fact the surprising foods of Myanmar are keeping me sated and curious. It’s a wonderful country all around, including the surprising foods of Myanmar.

    Cheers Myanmar!

    Kye zu tin ba Myanmar. Thank you for a wonderful visit. Read last week’s blog about the Remarkable People of Inle Lake

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    Asia Travel  --  Food & Drink

    Two Countries, Two Cuisines, Too Delicious

    The Food of Taiwan and Malaysia

    Location: Taiwan and Malaysia

    Taking a cooking class and going on a food tour in every country I visit is a goal I have. And I accomplish it often, but not always. But when I can I always enjoy it and over the past couple of weeks I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing two countries, two cuisines, too delicious – the food of Taiwan and Malaysia.

    Taiwan

    We spent six days in Taipei Taiwan. We weren’t really tuned in to the Taiwanese cuisine, half expecting it to be just like China. But unlike China, Taiwan has been strongly influenced from Japan (with historical influence also from Portugal and Holland) and it’s noticeable in the cuisine. The Chinese influence comes primarily from Eastern China (Fujian). And certainly the fact that Taiwan is an island, the cuisine has a much stronger focus on seafood than much of China.

    Scallion pancake on Food Tour in Taiwan
    Scallion Pancake is one of our favorite foods we discovered in Taipei Taiwan

    GoTuCook

    A search online led me to Chef Calvin at GoTuCook. Thorough out our world travels I’ve taken cooking classes large and small, in cooking schools and home kitchens, from world famous chefs and humble housewives. And usually my favorite experiences are the ones where I have one-on-one time with the instructor in their home. This was my experience with GoTuCook.

    Mushroom and chincken soup in Cooking class in Taipei
    The beginnings of a delicious shiitake mushroom and chicken soup

    We met early in the morning at the Beitou metro station from where we walked to experience the bustling thriving market and the local vendors selling to the local people. I always love this experience with a local who can explain unusual ingredients, answer my questions and enlighten me to this way of life long gone in America.

    At The morning market Beitou Taipei
    Me at the busy Beitou morning market

    Next we headed to Calvin’s apartment, set up perfectfully for cooking classes. I had chosen three dishes I wanted to make ahead of time from a variety of options listed on the GoTuCook website. I chose as a starter Jellyfish Salad and for a soup course a chicken and mushroom soup and for our main course two kinds of pork dumplings.

    Displaying all the dumplings made by hand in Taipei cooking class
    My pretty dumplings ready for the steamer

    I liked both the jellyfish salad (requires an overnight soak of the chewy jellyfish in the fridge before prep) and the fragrant soup with a broth we cooked with chicken feet as well as meaty parts from the blue chicken, but my favorite was the dumplings.

    Chef Calvin of GoTuCook
    My new friend Chef Calvin of GoTuCook

    Making Chinese style steamed dumplings takes some practice. I’ve done similar work in classes before (making empanada in Argentina, pirogi in Poland and dumplings in Vietnam) but it’s still a chore to get your fingers to make the beautiful designs if it’s not a task you do everyday. We made pork with cabbage and spices and pork with corn and different spices. And then we ate!

    Of course we had leftovers and I brought dumplings and jellyfish to my husband who was back at the hotel.

    I really enjoyed this class and plan to tackle dumplings on my own soon. I recommend GoToCook if you visit Taipei.

    Pork bun One sample from Taipei Eats Food Tour
    The pork “burger” was one of the best things we had on our Taipei food tour

    Taipei Eats

    We also took an amazing walking food tour with Taipei Eats where we expanded our Taiwanese cuisine knowledge with Taiwan Pork “burger”, stinky tofu, betel nut, scallion pancake and much more. Taipei Eats was one of the best food tours we have ever done. Our guide was amazing, there was so much food and we learned some interesting facts while meeting local people as well as other travelers from around the world. Such a wonderful experience!

    TStinky Tofu at Taipei Eats Food Tour
    This is probably the one and only time for me with the Stinky Tofu

    Malaysia

    What a country Malaysia is for a foodie. This remarkable country is a melting pot of many cultures, and it shows in everything, especially the food. Malay food is often spicy, and nasi (rice) features often. Eating with your hands is common. Pork is rarely featured in this cuisine because most Malay are Muslim.

    Prepping the chicken at Indian Cooking Class Kuala Lumpur
    Learning Indian cooking in Kuala Lumpur

    On the other hand, many Chinese immigrated here in the 1800’s when this land was a British colony and the Chinese food is abundant, and often includes pork. Noodles, chicken and dumplings are also widely enjoyed.

    And then there is the Indian food, representing the vast number of Indians living in Malaysia. The use of pungent spices and curries, more noodles as well as lots of vegetables make up this delicious cuisine.

    Indigenous Malaysian sweet treat
    Ancient Malay cultures enjoyed this rice flour treat

    No matter what ethnic background, the people in this country love fried foods and fried chicken, seafood, samosa and much more are popular both as street food and in restaurants.

    Off the Eaten Track

    The food tour we took in Kuala Lumpur was very unique and one of the best ever. At the end of the evening we had sampled twenty-four (yes you read that correctly) foods of this diverse and delicious country.

    Chinese Soup at Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
    A very local Chinese Soup with veg, chicken and tofu

    We signed up with Food Tour Malaysia for their Off the Eaten Track tour and were met by our guide Timothy at a subway stop in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur called Petaling Jaya where we began our gluttonous odyssey at an outdoor Malay neighborhood food court that operates 24 hours a day seven days a week. Here we found just locals enjoying the foods they loved. We had Nasi Lemak wrapped in banana leaf; ota ota, a smoked mackerel wrapped in palm leaf; a rich goat and potato soup; fried chicken and fried tempeh. I was full before we left this first stop.

    Amazing Night Market at Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
    My husband Arne recruited to work on the “carrot cake” stir fry – one of our favorite things we had on our Kuala Lumpur food tour

    Next we headed to probably the best night market I have ever been too, also in the suburb of Petaling Jaya. Here we learned about the popular “carrot cake” (not a cake in the sense we are used to, more of a pressed tofu), we had spring roll, noodles, dumplings and sweet Chinese daun pandan filled with peanuts.

    Trying new foods like mackeral in palm leaf at Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
    Mackerel cooked inside a palm leaf

    Next we headed to a very local-only Chinese open air restaurant to sample more noodles cooked over an open fire and a delicious soup with chicken, okra, long beans and potato.

    Chinese sweet treat at Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
    Daun Pandan a sweet Chinese treat

    Our final stop was an outdoor Indian restaurant, and we were the only non-Indians there. And darn it I was so full I couldn’t really enjoy the amazing feast of roti, lentil dal, curry, a giant fried pancake with a coconut curry dip, fried chicken and mango smoothie. Roll me home. What a night it was. If you are ever in Kuala Lumpur, do this tour – but pace yourself!

    Indian Bananan Roti at Kuala Lumpur Food Tour
    Banana Roti a sweet Indian treat

    The Versatile Housewives

    To round off our food frenzy in Kuala Lumpur we spent one morning with Ruth, a cooking instructor who brings the flavors of her native India to visitors in Kuala Lumpur through her business The Versatile Housewives. We learned to make one of India’s most famous dishes, biryani, with a group of local university students in Ruth’s kitchen. Biryani is a rich and flavorful traditional dish, often served at weddings and ceremonies. It can be beef or lamb or chicken. We made a chicken biryani. The flavors of this dish come together by slowly preparing the fresh ingredients of caramelized onions, vegetables and spices like cardamon, cloves and pepper as well as herbs like cilantro and mint. After slowly blending all these flavors with rice and chicken, the biryani is served in a giant bowl and enjoyed communally. Check out Ruth’s website for a great selection of delicious Indian recipes.

    Indian Cooking class Kuala Lumpur
    The beautiful Biryani we made with our instructor Ruth

    No matter where you travel, diving into the culture through food is the most interesting and tastiest way to engage with locals, learn history and culture and broaden your culinary chops. Be brave! Eat the world!

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    Food & Drink

    Oodles of Noodles

    Chapter Five

    (Note – this is a repost of a blog from my last visit to Asia in 2016.  I am currently traveling in China again, but unable to blog until next week.  So please enjoy this post again, and watch for a new Surprising China post coming soon.)

    Oodles of noodles inside of me

    Oodles of noodles on the menu I see

    Breakfast is noodles like warm yummy pho

    Cheap and delicious it’s so good for ya

    Bun is for lunch served hot in a bowl

    All of these noodles are good for the soul

    Oodles of noodles sold by vendors on the street

    Oodles of noodles eaten on a tiny red seat

    Dinner is Bahn Cahn or Bahn Bo Hue

    Not sure what I’m eating, it’s all noodles to me

    Warm yummy broth served with grilled pork too

    Or maybe it’s Chicken or fish in the stew

    Oodles of noodles each meal of the day

    Point at what looks good then take it away

    Oodles of noodles served in the Vietnamese style

    Trying each kind will take a while

    Oodles of noodles I’m so glad I’m here

    Eat me some noodles with an ice cold beer

    Food & Drink

    My Favorite Cooking Classes Around the World

    Fabulous Travel Adventures

    I don’t take a cooking class in EVERY country, but I’d like to.  I love to learn about local cultures through food and I look for that experience when I can find it.  In some countries finding a class is difficult or impossible.  Other times it just doesn’t fit my schedule.  But I always make an effort and when I do attend a class I am never disappointed.  Just today I signed up for a cooking class for my upcoming visit to Hong Kong.

    I can recommend all of the cooking classes below…many of these I have written blogs about and you can click directly to read those blog entries.  I encourage you to consider cooking classes, even if

    Cooking Class in Tuscany

    Cooking in Tuscany

    cooking isn’t a big part of your life.  Taking a class in a foreign country with local people, often in their homes and with their families, is one of the most rewarding ways to open up the cultural lines of communication all while enjoying a delicious and fun experience.  Fabulous!

    Tuscany/Italy – My first cooking class took place in Tuscany with a group of friends we were traveling with seven years ago.  We learned to make an amazing meal from the owner of the Villa where we were staying.  She was a former chef and chocolatier!  Our amazing meal included handmade pasta, vegetable terrine, beef loin and lots and lots of wine.

    Argentina – We took a very fun cooking class in Buenes Aires during our two day visit prior to getting on a cruise ship.  Unfortunately we were so jet-legged the experience is a little bit fuzzy in my memory.  The class was

    Cooking Class in South Korea

    Cooking in South Korea

    held in the home of the chef, and there were about 8 people in attendance. We made several different kinds of empanadas, made delicious chimichurri sauce and butter cookies and  learned about Matte – the unique and ubiquitous drink of Argentina.

    South Korea – in Seoul I spent two full days with a world famous South Korean Chef the Korean Food and Culture Academy and it remains one of my all time favorite experiences.  One of the days I was with just one other student.  The second day I was with four other students.  I learned to cook about a dozen dishes including Kimchee and I have used these recipes over and over

    Cooking Class in Croatia

    Cooking in Croatia

    ever since.  Who knew Korean food was so amazing?  I didn’t and that is one of the best parts of the experience.

    Croatia – I’m a sucker for slow roasted meats and it’s one of the staple foods in many of the East European countries.  My experience in Croatia was a mouth watering one, learning the ancient and incredibly delicious process of cooking Peka over an open fire.  The lamb dish is spectacularly delicious and a celebratory Croatian speciality.

    Guatemala – I loved my full-day private cooking class in Antiqua Guatemala. I had the chef all to myself and an English translator.  We made several dishes, enough to feed an army, and I ended up taking all the food home to enjoy another full meal with my husband.  Learning

    Cooking Class in Spain

    Cooking in Spain

    to make the tortillas was a favorite activity, that proved much more difficult that you might expect!

    Morocco – In Asilah Morocco we were blessed to have the most wonderful Airbnb that included a daily housekee and full-time cook.  What a special treat that was during our ten days in this tiny

    Cooking Class in Thailand

    Cooking in Thailand

    ocean front village.  Each day she cooked for us and we watched and learned from her.  We also went with her to the market and learned about the local specialities from tagine to couscous.

    Thailand – It’s a tough call for me to say which class was my favorite but I would definitely put my two days at the Thai Kitchen Cookery School in Chiang Mai very near the top.  It was a comedy of errors how I ended up there, but in hindsight I was so glad I did.  I loved the class, the staff and the wonderful foods I enjoyed over my two-days with them.

    South Africa – Several of the classes I have taken over the years have been in the personal homes of the chef, bringing me closer to the local

    Cooking Class in Belize

    Cooking in Belize

    culture in a familiar and family way. In Capetown South Africa my husband and enjoyed a wonderful evening in the home of our Chef who taught us about local cuisine from the African culture with the European influence.  We ate Emu for the first time and many other delicious dishes as well as exceptional South African wines with our Chef and her husband.

    Vietnam – One of my all time favorite cooking experiences was in Hoi An Vietnam, which coincidentally is also one of my all time favorite cities.  I took an all day class at the famous Mrs. Vys Cooking School.

    Cooking Class in South Africa

    Cooking in South Africa

    The class began with a bike ride around the city that included stops at several markets, a beautiful organic community garden and at the home of a bean sprout farmer .  I learned so much and enjoyed the bike ride as well.  Returning to the school we toured the multiple cooking stations within the school watching the professionals making food beautiful before heading upstairs to the kitchen to tackle our own recipes.  I ate so much that day, and learned so much, and highly recommend this place if you are ever in Hoi An.  I hope to return some day.

    Spain – I loved Barcelona, and especially loved the famous Mercado de la Boqueria for its color and festive atmosphere as well as delicious and fresh food.  It was here where my class began, touring, tasting and

    Cooking Class in Poland

    Cookin in Poland

    purchasing the ingredients before heading upstairs to cook.  Our three-hours class included such Catalan specialities as paella, gazpacho and Spanish Tortilla.  I have cooked these items many times since.

    Poland  – Krakow is one of my favorite European cities, under-appreciated by many visitors to Europe.

    Cooking Class in Vietnam

    Cooking in Vietnam

    We loved the food of Krakow and did a food walking and drinking tour as well as a pierogi cooking class.  My teacher was a young college student who was born and raised in Krakow.  We met at the market where she helped us speak Polish to the vendors to acquire the ingredients we needed for our dish.  We then proceeded to her tiny, communist era apartment where we maneuvered around her little kitchen learning to make the dough and the stuffing for several different pierogi.  It was one of my favorite classes ever.

    Belize  – Learning about the food and culture of the Garifuna people of Belize, with our two adult sons was a highlight of our family time together in Belize.  Cooking outdoors on an open fire with Chef Gloria doing everything from breaking and shredding the coconut to pounding the yams with a wooden mallet made the final delicious dinner all the more satisfying and fun.

    So those are some of my favorite cooking class experiences over the past several years.  To be sure I will be writing about more wonderful cooking experiences in the future. Because life is fabulous and delicious!

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