Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

oktoberfest

My first trip to Oktoberfest was everything that I had imaged and more. As we walked up to our tent, a stretcher was rolling away a person who had over done it. According to my German friend, that was very common. I was so surprised to see carnival rides behind the tent as I could not image going on one in a drunken state. It seemed like a recipe for disaster. My friend commented that people throw up often and there is a joke about being careful while walking under the rides.

The tone in the tent was very merry as people start drinking early in the day and continue until the evening. Most people were dressed up and cheering or singing loudly. We got to our table and of course ordered beer. It was really loud and a band was playing American covers and traditional German music. It was a party like no other.

oktoberfest beer

One litre pints of beer. They were really heavy and encourage quick consumption. Who likes warm beer?

lily oktoberfest

This is only half the original size of the pretzel. We couldn’t even finish it between five people. My Portuguese friend carried it around in his pocket for the rest of the evening.

german pancake

I had to break my rule of no eggs, which can happen when I travel. This was the only thing on the menu that was vegetarian friendly. This German pancake just happened to be a dessert option and came with a side of stewed fruit. It was very delicious and seemed like the pancake was cut up during the cooking process to keep the inside fluffy while making the outside crisp and buttery. It was quite heavy and filling so I shared it with my friends.

Oktoberfest is an experience like no other and I am really happy that I had a chance to experience it. If I am in Europe at that time of the year again,  I will definitively make it a plan to go back.

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Pizza in Venice

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

pizza venice

My fabulous trip in the Mediterranean had come to an end and I spend a day in Rome before I hopped on a train to Venice. It was my second time there and it was still as beautiful and magical as I had remembered. I was so shocked at the number tourists there, even though it was the end of September. It was difficult to maneuverer through the crowds and I was happy that I decided to get a hotel on the other side, on the island of Giudecca.

I found a cute restaurant along the water and ordered what would be my last pizza in Italy. The crust was a bit thicker than what I had in Rome and a little dryer though soft and chewy. The sauce was a nice balance of sweet and savoury. The cheese, tomatoes and arugula were placed cold on top and cooked slowly from the heat of the pizza base.

The pizza was amazing and as the toppings slowly cooked,  the flavour got better and better with each bite.  Just thinking about it, I am falling into a dream state. Eating pizza is no longer the same and now I’m on the hunt to find authentic Italian pizza at home.

venice

Spice Market in the Grand Bazaar Istanbul

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

spice marketThe Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey is a maze of endless shops selling handbags, leather, clothing, household goods, gold and of course spices. My friends and I walked into this shop and was greeted by a friendly gentleman who took his time and explained the various spices to us. He was a great salesman and both my friend and I bought a full bag of spices, tea, dried fruit and turkish delight. My purchases came to $50.

spices - grand bazaar

The spices were so fresh and I found the Indian spices to be of better quality that what I buy at home. I purchased a mild chill powder from the several that they had for sale and turkish saffron. I also bought a few types of herbal and fruit tea that was essentially dried turkish fruit.

Grand Bazaar - dried fruitDried turkish fruit. I got a tropical mix that included pineapple, mangoes, coconut and some green apple.

turkish delight

I was prompted to try a sample of Turkish delight even though I originally refused because I normally don’t like it. I was so amazed at how delicate and intricate the flavours were and ended up buying a couple pieces of each flavour.

Ramazan shop is located at Terziler Sok, No.22 Kapalicars, Beyazit – IST, Turkey in the Grand Bazaar. Tel: 0212 511 82 18, http://www.ramazancanbaz.com.

Turkish Street Food

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

Istanbul

Istanbul is full of street food and their food is similar to Greece. These bakery carts are all over and sell a round bagel like bread that is very airy. They are plain tasting but easy to get everywhere and cost twenty five cents.

roasted corn

Roasted corn is also everywhere and very cheap from fifty to seventy five cents. When I asked this man if I could take his photo, he insisted that I be in it.

Istanbul

This has got to be the coolest street food. You pick your flavours and they roll up the candy on a stick right in front of you.

Turkey

October 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

turkish coffee

It was my first time in Turkey and I loved it. People were so friendly and the architecture was amazing. My first stop was Istanbul and I was blown away. The beauty of the city was so majestic and created a fairy tale like back drop. We got off the ship and headed straight to the famous Grand Bazaar for some shopping.

But, first I had to try Turkish coffee and found a shop and sat down. The coffee was served in this cute cup and I took small sips of the strong coffee. I’ve had turkish coffee before but not like this. About fifty percent was coffee grinds. It didn’t take many sips until I reached the top of the grinds which is when I decided to stop drinking. It was a bit too much for my taste and I prefer their apple tea which tastes similar to apple cider.

turkish food

All the walking and shopping in the bazaar got my appetite going. My friends were too busy to take a break so I left for half an hour to grab a quick bite to eat. I found a place that was full of locals on their lunch break and took a seat. Fortunately, the menus have photos and I pointed at a few things and ordered some vegetarian food.

I’ve noticed that the Turkish get confused when you order off the menu and way too much food arrived. I tried to ask them to make a plate that contained all the items that I wanted but instead they brought me all the items separately. It was enough food for three.

I started by trying the salad that had a lemon juice and olive oil dressing with a turkish spice that was amazing. Next I tried the white eggplant salad which was fire roasted and lightly marinated. It was delicious with the flatbread that was cooked in the wood fire oven.

I was so happy and still had a side of tomato rice and yogurt. The meal was so delicious and it cost under seven euros or $10. I was so full from eating that I did not know how I was going to go back to shopping.

Istanbul bar

Later that evening, I met up with friends to take advantage of the one overnight stop. We decided to hit the strip in Istanbul and get our dancing shoes on. We went into a bar and ordered drinks. I was so excited when it came with a plate of nibbles. The apples were so crisp and flavourful that I could not believe it. The popcorn was so addicting and only made me thirstier. I have to say, the fruit platter was a nice touch and surprisingly went perfectly with beer at the end of a hot day.

baked potato Istanbul

After a night of dancing I had worked up another appetite. I figured that my usual pizza or poutine was out of the question and was on a search for a vegetarian option. The only thing that I found was a baked potato. I topped it up with all kinds of ingredients like beets, olives, pickles, corn and sour cream. It ended up being the best baked potato that I’ve ever had in my life. When I tell people about that night in Istanbul, it always ends with the story about the baked potato.

Greek island food

October 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

greek wrap

After a couple days with my friends in Rome, I hoped on a cruise that sailed through the Mediterranean. Our first stop was in Santorini, Greece, the idyllic island with the famous blue domed churches. We climbed a staircase for about 20 minutes in the hot sun and had to dodge donkeys on the way. The view from the top was spectacular and perfect for a honeymooning couple.

We walked around the island and when hunger struck, I tried to find a falafel. For some reason, every donair shop was out so I just got a plain vegetable wrap. The pita was warm, chewy and soft and the vegetables were crisp and refreshing. The tahini and tzatziki sauce were tasty on the fries.

Lily in Santorini

A few days later we stopped on the famous party island of Mykonos. We found a nice restaurant in the village near the pier and enjoyed a feast. I ordered a few items that I had never tried before and was very excited for the authentic meal. We got a delicious beet salad with yogurt and dill that was creamy but very light.

The next appetizer that I tried was the zucchini fritters. They were in a thick batter and a bit chewy with a crunchy exterior. They were much heavier than the beet salad. One of my favourites was the fried feta which came with onions, peppers and zucchini fried in with the cheese which we ate on bread. Wow, it was amazing. The cheese thickened a bit and was slightly stringy and the flavours of the veggies were infused into the cheese.

mykonos meal

The last item that we ordered was a big flop. We ordered a strong cheese which came on top of bread with slices of tomatoes and tzatziki on the side. We all found the cheese unbearably overpowering and let it be. The cheese was so strong that I could not even get the taste out of my mouth the next day. I had an amazing time in Greece and have always loved their food. I can’t wait to find these new recipes.

Adventures in Rome

October 23, 2013 § 1 Comment

cappuccino

I clearly remember my first trip to Italy in the summer before grade 12 like it was yesterday. I fell in love with it’s architecture, culture and of course it’s food. After a few decades of separation, I finally made it back. My plan was to eat everything in sight and so I worked out like crazy a few months before I left to increase my metabolism. My journey started as soon as I got on the plane.

For some strange reason, the airline did not receive my vegetarian meal request and I was starting to wonder how I was going to make it to Rome on an empty stomach.  Fortunately the lady sitting beside me was a pilot who was going to Rome for her shift and seemed to have some pull with the flight attendants.

She explained my situation and they were kind enough to bring me a left over meal from first class, cheese ravioli with a tomato sauce. It was so good that I could not even believe that it was plane food. My new pilot friend also was able to get us both glasses of wine from first class, I got VIP service in economy.

The next day, I arrived in Rome in the morning and was greeted by my friend at the airport. On our way back to their place, I was asked if I wanted to stop for a cappuccino, it was like he read my mind.

We stopped at a cute bar where we got a table outside. A friend met us there and we placed our order. It took me some time to sort through the rows of pastry in the case and decided on an apple tart and cappuccino. I was shocked when 2 cappuccinos, an iced coffee, pastry and bottle of water came to 4 euros or $7. Each sip of my frothy cappuccino was delicious and made me feel like a local.

singita miracle beach

My friends had planned a beach day and it seemed like the best place to relax after a long flight. We went to Singita Miracle beach where all the sexy Romans go to spend their saturday. We spent the day sun worshipping and as soon as the sun began to set, we moved to a table on a white sheet and sat crossed legged and shared drinks and food.

rome sunset

We sipped on the Italian beer Peroni and munched on a flat bread cracker that I had never seen before. A dj was playing electronic music and a white piano hid his equipment. The mood changed as the sun set and partiers migrated from the city.

flatbread crackers

After such a long day, I still was up for more and we decided to head into Rome for dinner. We went to my friend’s restaurant and we ordered pizza. I got a plain Margherita pizza and my friend got a pizza with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes on top.

pizza

The pizza was absolutely amazing. The crust was really thin and could not be eaten by hand. I had a bit of trouble eating pizza with a fork and knife only because I didn’t have the patience to cut eat piece. The crust was a little soft and soggy and the cheese was delicious. Their idea of mozzarella is like the Canadian version of a firm bocconcini. It so was filling that I only ate about 2 pieces and took the rest home for the next day.

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