I think I’ve found the one.
His name is Pierre.
And he makes the best macarons in the world.
For the longest time, I’d been struggling to find the perfect macaron. What exactly makes a perfect macaron? Is the shell supposed to be hollow and airy? Or dense and chewy? What is the optimum filling to cookie ratio?!
In Turkish, the word “dolma” means “stuffed.”
You will see this word on most menus at Turkish restaurants. They come in the form of many things. Basically, anything can be made into a dolma, as long as it is stuffed with a filling.
The most popular dolma are “midye dolma,” stuffed mussels with rice and spices. They are a local street food favorite, and you will find carts on the street selling these magnificent jewels of seafood goodness.
I had never heard of this island until I got to Naples, Italy. Located just off the coast and less than one hour by ferry, it is the ultimate vacation spot for the locals. Forget the touristic frenzy and overpriced extravagance of Capri. Ischia has retained that untouched quality that so many of us travellers are looking for, but thought had ceased to exist. The streets are still paved with cobblestone. Vintage Fiats needle through the narrow alleyways, barely avoiding hitting the walls by just a hair. No gaudy golden arches of McDonald’s or Starbucks to be seen anywhere.
Whilst in Italy, my diet has consisted of at least one gelato a day.
A great diet, if you ask me.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what I have gathered for your viewing and salivatory pleasures.
Pistachio Stracciatella. Rome.
The Pistachio Stacciatella was by far the most memorable. Sweet cheese stracciatella gelato swirled with ribbons of real pistachio paste, laced with crushed pistachios. An amalgamy of textures ranging from creamy to chewy to crunchy. Que bellisimo! You can find it at Il Gelatone in Rome. They also offer the widest range of flavors out of all the gelaterias I visited.
Pistachio and Mandarin. Rome.
Naples is the birthplace of pizza. It is difficult not to find a good pie around here. The streets are filled with pizza shops, with display windows of the pizza makers, “pizzaiolos,” hard at work kneading and forming the elastic balls of dough with care. EVERY pizza joint is equipped with a wood-fired oven, which is just a formality in the States. And don’t you dare ask for extra Parm, chili flakes, or any additional condiments. Here, pizzaiolos take their pizza very seriously and are proud of their product.
So much so, that the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was started in 1984. It’s an association that is dedicated towards regulating the branding of the term “verace pizza Napoletana,” the true Neapolitan pizza. Similar to the guidelines behind the branding of the term, “champagne.” The AVPN is responsible for regulating the use of the brand “verace pizza Napoletana,” and works consistently to inspect the establishments that are under its license. In order to to be considered a legitimate pizza maker of Neopolitan pizza, one must follow the strict guidelines set forth by the association.
Cantillon Brewery in Brussels, Belgium, is one of the last breweries in the world that still produce lambics, the traditional way. It takes about 3 years to make a batch of lambic and production can only occur during the cold months of the year. This family-run brewery has been in operation since 1900, and they still use the same, original equipment from back then. Walking through the brewery, with its large copper lined vats, and ancient oak barrels stacked from floor to ceiling, it seemed like nothing had changed.
On my recent visit to this brewery, I learned so much about the craft of brewing. For starters, a true lambic can only be produced through spontaneous fermentation. What this means is that instead of using yeasts or sugars, the fermentation process depends solely on the presence of bacteria floating in the air. It is the air where the brewery is located that and the unique species of bacteria it contains, that gives their premier beer, the Gueuze, it’s unique flavor. Continue reading
Oh boy, it’s been a whirlwind these past couple of days. Leaving Lyon, was bittersweet. The quiet, cobblestone streets and rustic ambiance of the town offered me some much needed relief and solace from the intensity of Paris. On our last night, Geoffrey threw an intimate dinner party and prepared a traditional Lyonnaise dish called, quenelles.
Quenelles are made with a mixture of fish mousse, eggs and breadcrumbs. It takes a very long and labor-intensive process to make these dumplings, but it is worth it. The mixture must be pushed through a sieve several times, resulting in a texture that is light, fluffy, and creamy. The quenelles are poached and simmered slowly in a financier sauce, a light tomato sauce containing mushrooms and olives, and they plump up as they absorb the sauce.
When in Lyon, France, one must try the regional specialty: Tarte aux pralines. These fluorescent red tarts may seem scary at first, but they are actually delicious. The color is actually derived from rose pralines, a Lyonnaise specialty, which are bright pink in color.
In fact, every patisserie I walked into, specialized in incorporating these pralines into numerous pastries, giving them the characteristic red hue. It’s funny how the color red finds it’s way into traditional recipes, for example: Red Velvet cake, my ultimate comfort food.
En Vrac is not just your average wine shop.
I’m finally in Paris! It’s been a great trip so far as we eat our way through the city. I’m here with my girl Julia, as we take on the first city of our 2-month backpacking adventure through Europe.
Yesterday, we stumbled into one of the best coincidences ever. Upon visiting the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral, we are pleasantly greeted by the wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread wafting through the air. The smells are emanating from a huge tent. There is a sign. All french words. Darn! But there’s a picture of a baguette. Hmm…we approach. Inside the tent was a sight that I will never forget.