Loving Brussel Sprouts in Ghent Belgium

I have never been a huge fan of brussel sprouts and to be quite honest I do not know many people who are, but that changed in Ghent, Belgium. For some reason it was one of those vegetable that you were supposed to eat, but never enjoyed.

When we went to the beautiful town of Ghent, we stayed at a B&B and the owner was very helpful in directing us to places where the locals ate. She sent us off to a café and told us to just walk in and sit down. We found this little place and it was filled with an older crowd and was very silent.

Ghent

We did as we had been told and walked in, though we did hesitate. No one took any notice of us, so we made our way to a table and sat. Then a lady put a large tureen of soup on the table and left without a word. It was a delicious pea soup.

Loving Brussel Sprouts in Ghent Belgium

Then she arrived with a plate of steak, potatoes and the brussel sprouts. We looked at these green sprouts, looked at one another, shrugged and ate. These were the best brussel sprouts ever. They were different to the ones we get in Australia. Much smaller and with a lot more flavor. When she returned to indicate did we want seconds, we both nodded. This time I analysed the sprouts and watched in the kitchen as they were preparing them. It seemed very simple – little sprouts, butter, and a herb similar to parsley.

Loving Brussel Sprouts in Ghent Belgium

When I came home I had to scour local shops to get the small sprout’s. This is the closest that I can come to what we were served in Ghent.

Recipe

Heat oil in pan, cook mushrooms and set aside, then add brussels sprouts for about 4 minutes, then add ⅓ cup water, cover and cook for further 4 minutes. Drain any water, add 19g butter, macadamia, mushrooms and season.

Loving Brussel Sprouts in Ghent Belgium

Close, but not quite Ghent close.

"Paula

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Paula McInerney of Contented Traveller. Al pics are provided by Paula. If you want to follow Paula’s adventure, check out the links below:

 

 

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9 Mistakes the Home Chef Makes When Cooking with Wine

Wine is one of the most common and flavorful additions to any meal — and not just as a companion during preparation and eating, either. Cooking with wine is a great addition to the home chef’s arsenal of tools and tricks, but not using it properly can ruin a meal. From ignoring flavor faults to tossing out old wine, here are nine of the more common mistakes the home chef can make while cooking with wine.

Ignoring the Details in Taste — for Wine and Dish

9 Mistakes the Home Chef Makes When Cooking with WinePhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Cooking by Stewart

Taste matters, especially in wine and food, and it can be tricky to ensure that the subtle and distinct flavors in a particular wine will match and enhance the meal you have in mind.

When cooking spicier fare, use aromatic and fruity wines like gewürztraminer and riesling. For heartier and more robust dishes, try a bigger wine like a zinfandel. If what you’re making is light, try a pinot noir or chianti, because their flavors are more subtle and aren’t likely to overpower the dish.

If you regularly buy your wine online, City Wine Cellar is a great place to peruse different wines. Their descriptions are thorough and telling, which will help ensure you make a good choice when you have a particular recipe in mind.

Sticking With Common Meats

roast beefPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Roast Beef by Christopher

Far too many home chefs stick to the big three: chicken, pork and beef. It can be harder to find more exotic meats, but using different meats when you’re cooking with wine will really up your game. More exotic meats like quail, venison or elk take well to red wine sauces and reductions. They can take a little longer to cook, so you’ll have plenty of time to whip up a wine-based sauce.

Using Expensive Wine

WinePhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Wine by Brendan

It can be tempting to think that an expensive bottle of wine will make a better sauce, but the truth is: Excellent wine should be enjoyed with the meal — not as the meal. The subtleties and delicacies of a high-quality bottle of wine rarely translate in a cooked environment. Save your money, and cook with less expensive wines.

Ignoring Faults in Flavor

Steaming PotPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Steaming Pot by Eddie

Of course, not every cheap bottle of wine should be cooked with, either. Before you cook with any wine, smell it and taste it. If you discern anything unpleasant that you wouldn’t want to have in your food experience, skip it and choose another — even if it’s brand-new.

Not Using Old Wine

full wine rack coming upPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Wine Bottles by velkr0

While it’s rare in a wine-loving household, sometimes you open a bottle of wine and don’t finish it. If you have an older bottle of wine sitting around, as long as it doesn’t smell skunky or metallic, stick it in the fridge and use it for cooking. Too often, wine lovers believe that the wine they cook with has to meet the standards of the wine they drink. It isn’t true. As long as nothing unpleasant exists in taste or scent, you’ll be fine.

Hurrying Reductions

Wine ReductionPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Wine Reduction by nanamin2003

A red wine reduction is a perfect addition to almost any meal, but if you aren’t used to making one, it can be hard to avoid hurrying it along. Every time you turn the heat on high, however, you risk ruining the sauce, and every time you take it off the burner before it’s been reduced by at least half, you risk it being too watery. Practice patience in regards to reductions. They really are worth it.

Never Deglazing

add some red wine and water to deglaze the panPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Deglazed Pan by Evan

After you’ve pan-fried or seared anything, it’s time to deglaze the pan. Simply add a bit of wine to the pan, and let it absorb and dissolve any remaining remnants of food. Add a bit more wine and some stock and reduce it. It’s a perfect complement to whatever you just cooked.

Not Making Your Own Pasta Sauce

American Spaghetti and MeatballsPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Pasta by Taz

Unless you grew up with an Italian mother or grandmother, you probably don’t make your own pasta sauce, which is a shame. Tomato sauces, in particular, are remarkably simple, and a little red wine added to the batch will work wonders, because the acidity in the wine and the acidity in the tomatoes play so well off one another. Simply sauté some onion, garlic, thyme and carrots until tender, add a quarter cup of red wine and a can or two of tomatoes. Simmer for about 45 minutes, and serve over your favorite pasta.

Assuming the Alcohol Cooks Out

Cooking Battle - 0553Photo Credits (Flickr CC): Stove by NDStrupler

While most people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at some residual alcohol lurking in a dish, if you’re cooking for children or pregnant women, you need to keep an eye out for this one. Heat will eventually cook alcohol out of a dish, but the timing varies, and in most cases, some alcohol will remain. Here’s a handy chart that will help you gauge how time, heat and alcohol affect one another.

If you’re a home chef venturing out into the exciting world of cooking with wine, you’re about to love eating at home even more. Simply avoid these nine missteps, and pay close attention to what you do, and you’ll have mastered the art of cooking with wine in no time.

Editor’s Note: This post is in collaboration with City Wine Cellar.

Dinner at Swe Thahar San Restaurant in Bagan Myanmar

When we were in Bagan we tried our best to eat in different restaurants everyday to try a variety of local dishes being served in Bagan. It was only in Swe Thahar San Restaurant hat we ate twice due to the huge serving of food, their proximity to our guesthouse (Pyinsa Rupa) and of course their affordable prices.

I liked everything I have eaten in Swe Thahar San Restaurant especially the Chopped Chicken with Vegetables. When we first ordered it we were thinking that it would be fried chicken chop into small pieces and them stir fried with vegetables. It turned out to be ground chicken meat cooked with egg link an omelet and topped with stir fried vegetables.

We also had a chance to try their egg salad which was quite different to the other egg salads that I have eaten n other places. Their version consisted of chopped century eggs, onions, fried peanuts and it was dressed with shrimp paste.

I’m not really a big fan of shrimp paste although I eat it occasionally and surprisingly it worked well with the egg salad. I think it’s only in Swe Thahar San that I’ve tried this kind of dish.

I highly suggest that you check this restaurant out and order the egg salad and try it for yourself. 🙂

Swe Tara Restaurant
Egg Salad

Swe Tara Restaurant
Chopped Chicken with vegetables

Swe Tara Restaurant
Stir fried Spinach

Swe Tara Restaurant
and of course rice!!! 🙂

Swe Tara Restaurant

Swe Tara Restaurant

Three Fridge Freezer Features That Homemakers Should Consider

Fridge freezers come with a number of features that affect how they work. Thus, before buying, it’s important to know what to look for so that you are sure to get an appliance that will keep your food fresh for the longest time. If you are in the market for the said appliances, below are some of the key features you need to consider:

Fridge Freezer Features That Homemakers Should Consider

 

 
Design
 
Today, many fridge freezers out on the market come with sleek and modern design to give the kitchen a more stylish feel. If you want something that will serve the purpose and still make your space look chic therefore, you can settle on the fresh designs and colours. Keep in mind though, white versions are always cheaper; so if you are on a tight budget, these may work best for you.
 
Capacity
 
A freezer is an effective way to chill or freeze your drinks and food. For the equipment to serve this purpose well however, it must have enough storage capacity to match your habits and needs. Thus, as you shop, you should think about the number of freezer drawers you require and the amount of food that each one of them can hold. The ice trays, shelves and salad boxes are also things that you need to look into before you make up your mind on the appliance to go for.
 
Energy Efficiency
 
Prior to buying a the said appliance, you need to factor in its energy efficiency as well. An energy efficient model can impact your utility bills in a great way considering the fact that it can chill fresh food fast and also maintain the temperatures at a constant level. In general, freezers come with labels that indicate their efficacy levels and with these, it becomes easy to tell which options will cost you less to maintain in the long run.
 
A fridge freezer is an essential appliance in any household. Buying one that blends in with your kitchen décor is therefore important, though not nearly as important as acquiring an energy efficient model that is also in the right size. With reference to this, it is good to look beyond pricing when purchasing a freezer as spending just a little more may enable you to get hold of features that will remain useful for a very long time.

 

Editor’s Note: This post is brought to you by one of our partners.
Photo Credits: Fridge by Jamal Fanaian

Dinner at Pyi Wa Restaurant in Bagan Myanmar

Pyi Wa Restaurant is quite unique among the other restaurants in town due to it’s location. It’s situated right beside a stupa which makes hanging out there quite nice and relaxing. The staff were very friendly too and the food were delicious.

As usual, I ordered a couple of vegetable dishes (stir fried) to go with rice. It only took a few minutes of waiting and then our order was served.

Pyi Wa is also popular for those who wants to drink beer and liquor with fellow travelers as the restaurant’s ambiance is very cozy.

So if you’re in Bagan and you’re looking for a nice place to just hang out and dirnk some fresh fruit shakes or ice cold beer then this is one of the best places to do that.

Pyi Wa Restaurant

Pyi Wa Restaurant

Pyi Wa Restaurant

Pyi Wa Restaurant

Dinner at A Little Bit of Bagan in Bagan Myanmar

A Little Bit of Bagan is one of the most popular in Nyaung U area and is frequented daily by a lot of tourists in town. The restaurant looks cozy and comfortable and was constructed using local indigenous materials such a bamboo. The food selection includes local Burmese dishes, some Chinese and Indian food and also some western dishes.

We ordered stir fried pumpkin and stir fried eggplant and also Avocado salad. I was already expecting what the stir fried vegetables would taste like but I wasn’t sure much about the salad and have not tried something like it in the past.

Our orders were served only just after a few minutes of waiting and I liked it a lot especially the avocado salad. Both the pumpkin and the eggplant tasted really good and the avocado salad amazed me.

The chunks of avocado seemed to be seasoned with salt, pepper and vinegar and surprisingly it all went well. I’m not sure if they added some additional herbs though.

Check this restaurant out when you go to Bagan and order their Avocado Salad. I’m sure that you’ll also enjoy it.

A little Bit of Bagan
Avocado Salad

A little Bit of Bagan

A little bit of Bagan

A little Bit of Bagan

Littel Bit of Bagan

Dinner at Kaung Set Aung Restaurant in Bagan

Bagan is one of the most famous tourists destination in Myanmar because of the thousands of temples and stupa that can be found in this town. Alongside with the growth of tourism comes the boom of tourism related businesses such as hotels, guesthouses, travel agencies and of course restaurants.

I’ve had a chance to try different restaurants during my few days of stay in Bagan and one of those restaurants that I tried was Kaung Set Aung.

Kaung Set Aung Restaurant

Kaung Set Aung is a newly opened restaurant run by a local family in Bagan. The menu consists mainly of local food which include meat, fish and vegetable dishes. One particular dish caught my eye and immediately ordered it.

I ordered stir fried vegetables with crab meat and chicken curry.

The service was quite fast and in just a few minutes, the dishes were already served. Of course, no meal with be complete without rice so we also ordered rice to go along with the vegetables and chicken curry.

The stir fried vegetable tasted great as expected though quite weird since I was expecting it to be a little salty and savory but it was kind of sweet and savory instead. Nevertheless I still enjoyed it since I like crab very much. The chicken curry tasted ok just like any other chicken curry you can order in Southeast Asia.

Kaung Set Aung Restaurant in Bagan

Kaung Set Aung

Kaung Set Aung

After dinner, we stayed for a few more minutes and ordered some fruit shakes. The family was very attentive to their customers and you can feel their excitement in their new business. I truly hope that they become more successful in the coming years to come.

The Best Restaurants in Punta Cana

Punta Cana is known for its long white sand beaches and clear water in the easternmost part of the Dominican Republic. Being one of the most beautiful places not only in the country but also in the whole Caribbean, Punta Cana become one of the fastest growing tourist destination and a popular holiday destination for people from all over the world.

Being one of the most visited places in the Dominican Republic, it is dotted with world-class resorts offering the best all inclusive in Punta Cana and restaurants serving the popular and delicious international cuisines like French, Italian, Indian, Asian and more. There’s definitely a large variety of restaurants for every taste to choose from.

From fine dine-in restaurants up to the laid back with casual setting eateries, travelers from all walks of life will surely enjoy the gastronomical experience in Punta Cana as the food here caters to any types of travelers.

 

Here are the three best restaurants in Punta Cana for different type of travelers.

Chez Isabelle
Luxury

Located at one of the largest resorts in Punta Cana, any visitors need to dress up to dine at this elite, gourmet French restaurant located at the colonial-style building with a romantic courtyard terrace. You’ll definitely enjoy a filet mignon and foie gras with a Left Bank of Paris atmosphere. Anyone who want to experience this luxurious restaurant must call in advance for reservations.

 

The Jellyfish
Mid-range

The Best Restaurants in Punta Cana

You can dine inside or out on the deck at this treehouse-like restaurant at the beachfront. Make sure to visit this place after dark as the lighting here is designed to make it look like a jellyfish. Although they are famous for serving insanely delicious seafood, this restaurant also serves other dishes like chicken to accommodate those who don’t want to eat seafood.

 

Palma’s Sand Beach Club
Budget

The Best Restaurants in Punta Cana

This budget restaurant is accessible from the beach or the street. One will surely enjoy their unique chairs which look like a birdcages and the open air with a view of the sea. This restaurant along the beach is famous for their good pizza and pastas.

 

Photo Credits: Chez Isabelle by Excellence Resort, The Jellyfish and Palma’s Sand Beach Club by Puntacana.tv.com

Must Try Dishes – Guide to Greek Cuisine

Even though Greece has influenced Europe and the rest of the world with things like democracy, philosophy, literature, science and mathematics, its love of good food remains one of the country’s most celebrated traits.

Taking influence from both Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, popular ingredients include olive oil, fresh vegetables, cheese, yoghurt as well as various types of fish and meat.

While the best examples of traditional cuisine can only be experienced on holidays to Greece and unforgettable adventures around the country, you may want to try and create the following dishes back home too.

Appetizers and Side Dishes

Must Try Dishes – Guide to Greek CuisinePhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Greek Salad by RieH

Greek Salad – Referred to as a village or country salad (horiatiki) in Greece, this is a simple, healthy yet satisfying classic made up of tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese and red onions dressed in olive oil.

Taramasalata – Traditionally made from the salted and cured roe of cod or carp and mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and either breadcrumbs or mashed potato, taramasalata is eaten as a dip with bread or vegetables.

Tzatziki – Eaten alongside grilled meats, tzatziki is a sauce made from strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt and olive oil. Always served cold, it can also contain herbs such as dill, mint or parsley.

Main Meals

MoussakaPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Moussaka by rusvaplauke

Moussaka – An ever-present Greek dish, Moussaka is an over-baked casserole featuring layers of aubergine and spiced ground meat, usually lamb. It is topped with a creamy sauce and served with salad. Vegetarian alternatives, featuring ingredients like courgettes or rice, are also popular.

Souvlaki – Literally meaning skewer, souvlaki are marinated and grilled small pieces of meat, typically pork but sometimes chicken or lamb. These are eaten straight off the skewer, as a pitta bread sandwich or served together with tomatoes, onions and tzatziki.

Pastitsio – This baked pasta dish is a hearty and nourishing meal that is popular in several surrounding Mediterranean countries. The Greek version usually features ground beef or veal with béchamel sauce.

Desserts

BaklavaPhoto Credits (Flickr CC): Baklava by seelensturm

Baklava – This sweet pudding is made of layers of filo pastry and stuffed with cinnamon-spiced chopped nuts. This sugary treat is then covered with syrup or honey.

Galaktobureko – Although you may struggle to pronounce its name in a restaurant, ordering galaktobureko is well worth it. This custard filled filo pie, often flavoured with lemon, orange or rose, is baked in the oven and soaked in honey or syrup.

Melomakarono – Generally prepared and served over the Christmas period, these cinnamon, orange and cognac flavoured cookies are topped with ground walnuts and immersed in hot syrup before eating.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post.

Lunch at Yuen Kee Restaurant in Kowloon Hong Kong

Hong Kong is one of the favorite destinations among travelers in Asia due to its beautiful harbors, amazing shopping destinations and of course food. We were in Hong Kong last January and spent a few days exploring this beautiful city. Hong Kong though is not as cheap as Southeast Asia but luckily, flights from Southeast Asia is not that expensive and there are also a lot of affordable hostels available in Kowloon area.

On our first day in Kowloon, we chanced upon this restaurant packed with people which got us curious so we decided to go in and had our lunch there.

All of the choices of food seems to be local dishes, so we decided to give it a try. Here are some pictures taken at Yuen Kee Restaurant in Kowloon Hong Kong:

Lunch at Yuen Kee Restaurant in Kowloon Hong KongBeef Curry

Lunch at Yuen Kee Restaurant in Kowloon Hong KongRice with Egg, Sausage and Pork Cutlets

The meals are not as cheap as the Big Mac meal set in Mcdonalds but most restaurant prices in Hong Kong were quite costly for me. Good thing though, the food tasted great! I was surprised with the beef curry as I have never tried it before, i’m used to chicken curry which is quite popular in Southeast Asia.

The rice with egg, sausage and pork cutlets tasted great too. The two dishes cost 80HKD. Free tea is available but they also have a wide array of drink choices such as soft drinks, coffee, juices and more.

Lunch at Yuen Kee Restaurant in Kowloon Hong Kong

Happy Eating!