Stories

The Triple C: Vietnamese-inspired coffee coconut cocktail

The Triple C: Vietnamese-inspired coffee coconut cocktail

 

Vietnam, a country with 1,000 years of Chinese rule and, more recently, over 100 years of French influence, is not shy of new inventions when it comes to food and drink. While the Chinese introduced the concept of food and drink as medicine, the French contributed coffee in 1857. Vietnamese also make the most of their rice, fresh herbs, and ripe tropical fruits, leaving nothing to waste.

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Nonsan strawberry festival (논산딸기축제), South Korea

Nonsan strawberry festival (논산딸기축제), South Korea

 

In Korea, strawberry season is a thing. From December to June, there aren’t just strawberry lattes and strawberry cakes and strawberry bingsoos (that Korean shaved ice dessert with sweet toppings) in pretty much every coffee shop. There’s a festival in April dedicated to the fruit as well. With my friend, we went on a little out-of-Seoul adventure, caught a KTX train, and made our way to Nonsan – a city in South Chungcheong Province, about 150km south of the capital, and home to a variety of strawberry farms. (more…)

Samgyetang, the Korean chicken soup that warms you up from inside

Samgyetang, the Korean chicken soup that warms you up from inside

 

Sweat dripping down smiling faces, the old and the young standing side by side, chatting. One woman flips her hair, bobs her head back and closes her eyes – an expression of deep satisfaction spreads over her face. The noise level is high, but the happiness is greater – if only for a short while. People have gathered, as if at a train station, inside a bank, any random bank. The air conditioner is blowing, the cool air tickles the woman’s face, she lets out a sigh.

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Valencian all i pebre – a stew to fall in love with

Valencian all i pebre – a stew to fall in love with

 

Valencian cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, which translates to vegetable and seafood extravaganzas. It’s hardly surprising then, that a succulent, flavourful anguila (eel) dish would develop here. All i pebre, chunks of eel and potato coated in a luscious, thick garlic and pepper sauce, is a must-try of Valencian food sorcery (yes, it’s magical!).

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Arroz al horno at Panea, Valencia

Arroz al horno at Panea, Valencia

 

Rice in Spain, in particular in Valencia, has a history of at least eleven centuries. Rice-growing in Valencia’s Albufera region dates back to the 10th century, when Arabs introduced rice to the Iberian Peninsula and other surrounding areas such as Morocco and Sicily. In fact, the Spanish name for rice, arroz, derives from the Persian orz, to which the Arabs prefixed the particle al, eventually leading to a language evolution from al-orz to ar-orz, to ar-ruz, and finally to arroz.

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Why arroz negro’s black rice isn’t really black rice – at La Riua, Valencia

Why arroz negro’s black rice isn’t really black rice – at La Riua, Valencia

 

It was summer 2009 in Valencia, Spain. The classroom was cool, the students tanned with glistening skin, the sparkle of youth in our eyes. We were eager to learn, and eager to play. One warm night it was tapas and dancing in the old town, gliding through the cobbled streets, surrounded by churches and buildings with a history. The other night it was fooling around at the beach, grabbing a few beers to while the evening away on the golden sand, chilling and laughing and acknowledging the breaking sound of the waves as they touched and tickled our naked feet.

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The tapa that deserves an entry of its own: pa amb tomàquet

The tapa that deserves an entry of its own: pa amb tomàquet

 

Pa amb tomàquet (tomato bread) is one of those foods that you can’t believe you didn’t know about sooner. Incredibly simple to make, yet infinitely delicious, surely this is a food that somebody will make trendy over in the UK at some point. Maybe you’re even reading this now and thinking, that could be me. I say, go for it! I would totally stop by regularly for an affordable pan con tomate, as it is also called. Because affordable is definitely what it is in Spain, and in my opinion what it should be, given the relatively low cost to make (which also means you can try it at home – yay!).

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Melt-in-your-mouth Spanish Carrillada

Melt-in-your-mouth Spanish Carrillada

 

This summer, I was off to a mini-trip in Spain to revel in the sights and foods (mainly foods) of some of the country’s major cities. One of them was Sevilla, the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalucía and the province of Sevilla. I had heard from several friends that this was a beautiful place to visit, and finally I was able to get a sneak peek of it myself during our two-day stay.

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Beef Stroganoff: the recipe and the history

Beef Stroganoff: the recipe and the history

 

This originally Russian dish is typically made from thinly sliced beef, taken from a tender cut of meat such as fillet, since it needs to be the kind of lean meat that can be sautéed easily, which other cuts of beef make it hard or practically impossible to do. It is sautéed in butter with mushrooms and onions and in the final step combined with sour cream to be served over a starch such as potatoes, rice or noodles.

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