Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Portuguese Egg Tarts at Pastéis de Belém, Lisbon Portugal
Portuguese Egg Tart

Where Portuguese egg tarts (pastel de nata) all began, Pasteis de Belem (Pastries of Belem), Lisbon Portgual. It began in the early 19th century when the monks of the nearby monastery, Jerónimos Monastery (Mosteiro dos Jerónimos) were expelled and forced to shut down due to the liberal revolution in 1820. The monks began selling Portuguese egg tarts to secure more revenue and over time this grew rapidly in popularity. The recipe was later passed on to the nearby sugar refinery, whose owners opened up Pasteis de Belem in 1837. To this day, the owners continue to savour and prepare the original recipe from this time honoured tradition.

Expect to see long queues winding out the door for this much loved pastry. Locals love it and international tourists have to have it. If you want to avoid sitting around and waiting. Just get this little babies to go. I took these to Starbucks and had them there.

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Francesinha – Cafe Santiago Porto, Portugal

francesinha - fpn

Francesinha pronounced Fran-ze-zin-ya (little Frenchie) is a local speciality in Porto. Made from bread, ham, sausages, pork and steak. If that wasn’t enough, this protein layered monstrosity is stacked into a sandwich and then topped with a pan fried egg, cheese, fries and a spicy beer sauce. Phew… that’s enough to make you sweat.

Locals in Porto love and I mean LOVE their francesinha. The people of Porto even get together with friends to have francesinha night outs at their favourite spot but this will often end up with arguments on where they should actually go to get it. On a good day, you can expect a heated debate over the best francesinha and don’t expect any two opinions to be alike. Locals will often argue and argue on who does it best. Your favourite may not necessarily be their favourite. In fact, they probably despise where you get your francesinha. Often the difference lies in the quality of meat but it really boils down to that special beer sauce and that finicky thing called personal opinion. The common ingredient in the sauce is beer and each restaurant will have their own special spices that they add to give it their own unique flavour.

As consensus goes, Cafe Santiago seems to be the most popular place to taste this. I would recommend sticking to Cafe Santiago or to go somewhere recommended by a local. Locals will often eat this speciality on average once a week to once a month, or even once a year. It can be pretty heavy going. But all in all, when everyone gets that craving, they just have to have it.

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Mussels with white wine, garlic and cream sauce – Poules Moules, Bruge

mussels fpn

Apart from the quintessential eats like Belgian chocolate, waffles, fries and beer. There is the must have item that towers them all. Belgian Mussels – Belgium’s national dish.

Moules Frites they call it, meaning Mussels and Fries. The approximately 1.5 kilogram serve will have you bursting at the seams yet you will still find yourself gorging your way through, suckling each and every shell. Waste not want not. They’re not little pissy ones either. You can see these mothers from out of space!

Belgian mussels can be prepared in a variety of ways. You can have them with white wine, shallots, parsley and butter. Or simply steamed with celery, leeks and butter. My favourite is when they prepare it with white wine, cream and garlic. Otherwise you can have it with Belgian beer instead of white wine.

Mussels typically can fetch up to the 30 euro – 50 euro mark, after all we in Belgium. Not cheap! The two places that I tried Belgian Mussels, came highly recommended to me by Belgian locals and rated as great value (approx 25 euro) and extremely good. I am talking “these are the best mussels of my life, type of good and I would come back to Belgium just for these.

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One of the things that a lot of people don’t know when they hit London is that can get a Michelin star rated meal at a ridiculously reduced price. Great if you’re on a budget, after a working lunch or just looking to give it a bit of a whirl.

At Murano you can opt for the 2 courses for £25 or 3 courses for £30. And most places will do this lunch special, you just have to hunt them down.

Google “michelin set lunch menu London”, and you should find some. Take Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for starters.

But its best to see their set lunch menu before you go in.

coppa di parma & salami

Most Londoners will know Murano by Angela Hartnett as being co-owned with Gordon Ramsey. But since 2010 they have gone their separate ways.

Angela Hartnett in her own right, has had a formidable career and is best known for her appearances on Hell’s Kitchen as well as, Gordon Ramsey’s protege.

bread platter

We began with a generous serving of coppa di parma and salami platter and the bread platter. This was enough to get our tongues wagging. We managed to hoe into that pretty free and easy and couldn’t help but being a pig about it, so we ordered another bread platter to polish off.

peaches, burrata, prosciutto

The salad of peaches, burrata and San Daniele prosciutto is worth giving up your first born for.

Tough luck kid.

The peach was perfect, incredibly ripe and fresh. The peach paired well with the sweet saltiness of the prosciutto and the creaminess of the burrata. The prosciutto was of the highest grade and was so thinly sliced that it gently melted away in your mouth.

tortelli

I found the tortelli didn’t quite have the same impact. I found the pasta a touch too thick. I also found the pasta slightly dry and needed a touch of creaminess to lift the subtlety of the tortelli filling.

mackerel

I’m not normally one to order fish. I normally have this misconception that there is no such thing as a good fish dish. But today, I was in the mood for something light, something fishy.

After all, I had eaten my weight through London, so something had to give.

The cornish mackerel turned out to be another gorgeous dish. It was prepared two ways, roasted and tartare with the mackerel tartare being the real winner. The hints of apple provided a zesty lift and added crunch.

lamb rump

The lamb was perfectly pink (medium rare) and wonderfully tender. Served again with tthe pea puree which was a delicious accompaniment. However, it just needed more sauce. The only thing I didn’t like about this dish was the anchovy pieces which was a bit slimey. But that’s ok. You can just push that to the side.

prosecco mousse, strawberries

Striking as this dish is, looks can be deceiving. I thought this dish was so beautiful but I found it rather one dimensional and uncomplimentary in its flavours.

tart

The unsung hero.

The gooseberry and frangipani tart was absolutely warm and comforting, something you yearn for, on a cold winters night. I loved the honey ice cream and how it brought contrast to the hot and cold temperatures.

chocolate ganache crumble

Brazil doesn’t really eat fruit, so he requested this dish to be kindly substituted in exchange for a dessert from the set menu. Sis and I gobbled up the most passionfruit sorbet (not photographed) with no complaints and managed to steal a piece or two, (ok maybe three) of the chocolate ganache crumble. Just delicious.

Welcome to Murano by Angela Hartnett, a michelin meal thats a steal.

Murano on Urbanspoon

La Porte De Indes is not like your typical Indian restaurants. It’s Indian with a twist and it showcases food from the Pondicherry region, a former French colony. So you can imagine how this place piqued my interest at the promise of an overlap between French and Indian cuisine.

First up, I couldn’t resist the temptation of tandoori seared foie gras. The wondrous slab of foie gras came accompanied with naan bread, fig and ginger chutney. This was beautifully rich and was perfectly juxtaposed with the sweetness of the chutney.

foie gras

Foie Gras – £13.00: Tandoori seared, served on a crisp honey naan bread with a fig and ginger chutney.

The scallops were fresh, juicy and plum and were left in a pool of garlic and saffron sauce which I found very buttery and creamy.

scallops

Demoiselles de Pondichéry – £12.00: Large juicy grilled king scallops with a hint of garlic in a mild saffron sauce.

One thing that La Portes De Indes is famous for, is for their tandoori grill. The lamb chops were marinated in yoghurt, brown onions and garam marsala and served with a delicious mint chutney. These are so delicious it’s best to just unleash your animal instincts and gnaw them until they are bone dry.

lamb chops

Barra Lamb Chops – £19.00: lamb marinated with browned onions, yoghurt and garam masala; char grilled to perfection, served with mint chutney.

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Arriving at Heathrow

My sister currently lives in London and has done so for 11 years. With that in mind and the London 2012 games coming, I just knew I had to be there. Next stop, Rio!

My sister just so happens to be a very popular food blogger in London (she would dispute this otherwise – you can find her here) and therefore she utilised every single opportunity to make us eat our way through London.

First stop. Burger and Lobster. 

burger and lobster

This place, is kind of like what Mc Donalds is to kids but for adults. It’s like a magical wonderland brimming with lobster tail and claws and all for the price of £20. This will buy you a 1.5 kilo lobster.

Hungry?

Well, you can upsize it to 2 kilo for an extra £10.

The place doesn’t take bookings. So best to get there early otherwise expect a 30-45 min wait while you food envy all the other patrons with their platters of lobster. I managed to spot a guy eat a mother of a claw, and of course I approached him like a zoo animal and took a snap of him eating his 7lb lobster.

Like what the hell is this place? Cos it is freaking awesome!

lobster hand

Man with 7lb lobster

Casually, I make my way back to the bar and ordered some very tasty cocktails for £9! That is great value for London standards.Especially if you make it to the Mayfair location. We then notice the the “Big Boys” sign and “The Catch”specials board (see below).

Wow this place really is happiness on steroids!

Big boys

catch of the day

Only 9lb left!

We finally arrive at our table and there isn’t a menu as such. We are told that we can either choose from:

  1. Whole lobster steamed or grilled with clarified or garlic and lemon butter;
  2. Lobster roll served in a hot dog bun with a slick of wasabi mayo; or
  3. Beef burger with optional cheese and bacon

The four of us unanimously order the whole lobster as it is clearly the best value item on menu. They recommend the grilled lobster as it gives it a nice charred finished whilst keeping the meat nice and moist.

accessories

Preparing for battle with bib, claw cruncher and wet wipes

lobster and fries

Grilled lobster, fries and salad served w melted garlic lemon butter sauce – £20

lobster close up

garlic butter sauce

Getting all garlic buttered up

aftermath

the aftermath

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