Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hageparsell 38 - Our allotment blog

Nasturtium from our summer garden
Hageparsell 38 is my Norwegian allotment blog. First posting was today, as I take over allotment 38 at Holmlia Parsellhage tomorrow. I and my friend and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Dagfinn Skoglund will blog on the joys and grievances of working on a 60 square meter allotment garden.

As the season hasn't started yet, the blogging will not be as frequent in the start, but we hop to report from our plot of land from early April. So bookmark Hageparsell 38 now!!

Hageparsell 38 - see first post here

Other garden posts on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Advise on what to eat, drink, and see in Peru

Photo: Nevado Huandoy by Claquitecto
My friend John has lived in Peru. He wrote a mail to me recently, giving me useful advise on what to experience when visiting this South American country. Here is what he wrote. 
I've put together a few thoughts of relevance for Peru travel.  As you have limited time, take much of it with a pinch of salt.

A few peruvian dishes (some you probably already know about)
Photo: Chupe de Camarones as served in Cuzco by Ma Greg
  • Ceviche: Raw white fish (usually a sea bass or flounder) marinated / cooked in pure lime juice with thinly cut red onions, some peruvian hot / medium hot peppers and coriander 
  • Chupe de Camarones: Peru’s version of a shrimp soup / shellfish soup – usually with a large shrimp (scampi)
  • Anticuchos: Beef heart marinated with garlic, vinaigre, cumin and more grilled over open fire on bamboo stickes.  (Ask your driver where to get a good anticucho or three!)
  • Lomo saltado: Fried beef with tomatoes, chilli and fried potatoes – a good lunch choice
  • Ají de Gallina (pronounced “Ahí de Gayina”): If well made, this can be very good.  A chicken sauce (a distant cousin of the Indian Chicken Tikka) served usually with rice.  Ask for “Aji amarillo” (pronounced “Ahí amariyo”) sauce which is a yellow/orange chilli sause made with the wonderful Peruvian mild yellow chilli (“aji amarillo”).
Photo: Peruvian Inca Kola by Leuo
As you probably know, Peru is the homeland of the potatoe.  The “papa amarillo” (yellow potatoe) is probably my favorite.   Peru has quite a variety of local “chillies” known as  “ají” (pronounced “ahí”)
You should try the soft drink "Inca Kola" at least once (if you drink soft drinks that is).  I saw it a Deli de Luca recently.

Chocolate:  Try the Sublime

Lima has a good supply of local olives - both green and dark.  If you find the green kind filled with "rocoto" (a type of ají) give it a try.
Restaurants  in Lima (which I remember and hope I can re-visit):
Buffet, Jose Antonio - see company website
José Antonio (a good place to check out authentic Limeñan cuisine – albiet perhaps a little pricey)

Rosa Nautica (I like this one better for lunch as you can enjoy looking at the waves and the cliffs of Lima).
Sights in Lima:  (I noticed Trip Advisor has an extensive list)

Plaza de Armas (and the Cathedral) and the Plaza San Martin

The catecombes of the the Church of San Francisco church (alá Capuchino)

The Gold Museum and the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

Photo: Catacombs at San Francisco by AxelBoldt
Or just a stroll along the cliffs of Miraflores overlooking the ocean … or yet again (a must IMO) a stroll along the marine drive at the bottom of the cliffs (where you’ll find the restaurant Rosa Nautica).  

In many ways, at least for me, it’s the Pacific Ocean that makes Lima what it is.

Lima has changed since I was there in the early 90’s  Trip Advisor was showing a lot of the “new stuff”.  There are some new water fountain parks the the Museo Larco sounds worth visiting….

South of Lima (Beaches!)
Photo: Santa Maria del Mar south of Lima by Manuel González Olaechea y Franco
The beach area (about 40 km south) known as “Señoritas & Caballeros”.  This has changed a lot since I was there in the mid 80s but it was our favorite place to go surfing.

If you’re in this area there are some inca ruins known as Pachacamac Further south are some small seaside towns (which have probably changed significantly since I was there last): San Bartolo & Pucusana.

Even further south there is Paracas and the islands – it would really be great if you could fit that in.
North of Lima
Photo: Mount Alpamayo is found at Cordillera Blanca by RedWolf
Callejón de Huaylas (Pronounced “Kayehón de Waylas”)  This is the valley where you’ll see Peru’s highest mountains known as the ‘Cordillera Blanca’ (The White Mountain Range).  It is really a beautiful area scenically!

The major town in this valley is Huaraz.  Huaraz is about 3050 meters above sea level (Cuzco is 3400) so you won’t notice the altitude as much in Huaraz.
Cuzco and the Sacred Valley
Photo: Inca site of Ollantaytambo, Peru by Bernard Gagnon
Be sure to see Sachsaihuaman (Cuzco) and Ollantaytambo (Sacred Valley) and Pisac (Sacred Valley) if you have time.  The ruins at Ollantaytambo and Pisac are well worth seeing.

In case you haven’t already, you must book your tickets to Machu Picchu and the train trip online before you go! Trip Advisor explains how. I booked mine for the April 12th.  Will be using Inca Rail for the train trip as it leaves from Ollantaytambo 6:40 in the morning.

Vis Peru April 2012 i et større kart

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rating Palais de Chine, Ferney-Voltaire

Chinese dumplings served as starter at Palais de Chine
I am not the biggest fan of Chinese restaurants, as I assume that most of them are far removed from the original. The Palais de Chine in Ferney-Voltaire is absolutely the rule, rather than the exception. 

Rating the Palais de Chine, Ferney-Voltaire: BBBB (3,95 points) 
  • Location: BBBB+
  • Service: BBBB-
  • Interior & atmosphere: BBBB-
  • Food: BBBB
The charming centre of Ferney-Voltaire
Palais de Chine is located in the hotel with the same name in the community of Ferney-Voltaire, bordering Switzerland.

Ferney-Voltaire is a charming village with quaint houses, restaurants and bars in abundance just a half-hour drive away from Geneva.

The F-bus from the City Hall will take you to Geneva’s main railway station in around 30 minutes, whereas bus Y will take you to the airport. 

Interior of the Palais de Chine is typical for any restaurant around the world. If you have seen one, you have seen them all.

Interior at Palais de Chine
Dark panels, chairs tables combined with red table cloths.

Tables were set formally with glasses, cutlery, china and folded napkins. 

We were comfortable seated and could enjoy a reassuring distance to our fellow diners as there were practically nobody there. 

Decent service, waiter taking our order, and serving us politely and quickly. I ordered fried Chinese dumplings with sweet chili sauce as starter and glazed duck as main course.

Delicious crispy dumplings with sweet chili sauce
The dumplings were served on a bed of lettuce, with a glass bowl of sweet chili sauce as a dip.

They were a little pale, considering the fact that they had been fried, but they were crispy and delicious on the outside and soft and tasty meat inside.

Glazed duck- good but not great
The duck was immersed in sauce and served with lettuce and rice. Funny enough the rice served would have been regarded as a separate dish at my local Chinese restaurant, as it was mixed with vegetables, ham and fried egg - in fact traditional fried rice.

I should have known better than ordering duck. If you are not offered Peking Duck, you are bound to be disappointed.

My duck was good, not great, cooked through, slightly tough  and rubbery, and no crispy crust (that I like) in sight. The sauce was a little bland so this dish was hardly not a culinary treat.

The rice served at Palais de Chine was a dish in itself
So Palais de Chine is decent, but not great. The food is overall good and inexpensive, the interior is what you can expect. But it is hardly my first choice in  this small village.

The Bistro de France on the other side of the street, however, is excellent. If you are in Ferney-Voltaire  and want to dine, try the Bistro Hotel de France. It may be pricey, but the food is awesome.


Palais de Chine
3 Grande Rue, 01210 Ferney Voltaire France
Phone: 04 50 40 92 53

Vis Geneva on Enjoy Food & Travel 2011 i et større kart

More Chinese restaurants on Enjoy Food & Travel

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Zucchini flowers with crab meat and yellow tomato vinaigrette

I once saw a TV chef preparing fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cream cheese and capers. In Italy you see zucchini blossoms for sale in the market. Here they are impossible to get hold of.  With my new allotment I may prepare zucchini blossoms this summer. Maybe I'll try Zucchini flowers with crab meat and yellow tomato vinaigrette?  

Like this film clip from when Melody Kettle visits celebrity chef, Ryan DePersio at Fascino Restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey. Ryan demonstrates his famous zucchini flowers stuffed with crab meat with a yellow tomato vinegrete. Hot From The Kettle.

Vis større kart

The ultimate pasta with scampi and scallops in cream sauce

I had to make two servings of this pasta dish last weekend
I love scallops. I love tiger prawns. I love pasta. Last weekend I made the ultimate pasta dish with all this goodness.
My sister stayed with me last weekend, and when asked what she wanted for dinner on Thursday her ultimate wish was seafood pasta. I made one batch and when asked on Friday what her wish for dinner would be her answer was: 
- Please make what you did yesterday! 
Photo: SoHome Jacaranda Lilau
And who can resist such a wish for a culinary encore, as this pasta was excellent - even by my standards. So I will try to recollect what I did these two evenings in order to get to such a great culinary result.

With no binding measurements, you cannot call this a recipe, but rather a description of a improvised process.

I always have frozen scallops and tiger prawns in my freezer. I took out 10-15 prawns and 5 large scallops and allowed to thaw. I removed the shells of the prawns and quartered the scallops.
I fried the prawn shells in hot butter added around 20 cl water. To get taste I used 2-3 tbsp Tone's Salmon and seafood seasoning, but use whatever fish spice you like, provided it contains salt in order to be a proper stock. What I liked with the Tone's with the dried lemon peel.
A roux-based sauce with white wine and cream by Oskila
I boiled the prawn shells for 15 minutes, before discarding the shells starting on phase 2, creating a roux, stirring butter and flour.

Use enough butter and flour as this is going to be  a thick sauce not a fish soup.

Start by adding a dash of white wine to the roux, followed by the stock in three rounds, allowing the mix to boil before adding another batch. At this point I found to sauce to be too salty, so I added a little ketchup for colour, sweetness, and acidity. And then I ended it all with a generous amount tabasco and condensed milk to round it all off. 

At this point you should have a good portion of boiled tagliatelle available as the seafood should only be warmed through before being served. Warm the seafood through adding the pasta and mix it all. Serve immediately with grated parmesan.

It was delicious, in fact so that my sister asked for it twice.

More scallops on Enjoy Food & Travel 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

From 2012: Growing vegetables on my own allotment

From this season I have been given access to an allotment garden close to where I live. Starting in April I will harvest my own vegetables and herbs and prepare food according to season. 

Allotment gardens were established on public land in the 19th century, in order for city dwellers to grow vegetables to use in their own household.

Photo: Zucchini or courgettes by matanya
Today these plots of land are popular to such an extend that there are waiting lists in order to get acess to one.

I am lucky as the allotment in question is just a 10 minute walk away from my flat, so it will be easy to go down and maintain it during the season. 
I will share the alottment with fellow foodie and Enjoy Food & Travel co-writer Dagfinn Skoglund. He is already busy with ideas organizing the plot.

We are planning to grow herbs, as well as different beans, garlic, spinach, and lettuce to use in our cooking, all organic as we will use no pesticides and natural fertilisers are supplied by the neigbouring farm as horse manure.

Spinach - one of my favourites. Photo: Victor M. Vicente Selvas
In one corner we will try to grow zucchini and butternut squash. If these plants thrive, we will be able to harvest large quantities of fruits or use zucchini flowers, as they are equally good in cooking.

So many ideas! Time will show how much we will achieve in our first year, but both Dagfinn and I are realists as a good plot of land needs a great deal of TLC in order to be a success, and we are determined to get there.

So stay tuned for stories to come from our 60 square meter allotment, the fruits our labour, and the food prepared from our produce.  

Monday, March 05, 2012

Booking a domestic flight in Peru

A few days ago I booked my domestic flight from Lima to Cuzco, and suddenly it dawned on me that I shortly will be in the Andes!!

The departure of my South American adventure is approaching quickly. I am not easily affected my travel sickness, but as I planned my stay in Cuzco, I experienced a rare tickling sensation.
We will visit Peru's Sacred Valley.Photo: Charles Gadbois
I had already Skyped my nephew in Lima, and he recommended two airlines namely TACA Airlines and Star Perù. I checked both, and discovered that TACA had fewer options on budget fare, whereas Star Perù could offer three daily departures on budget class.
I booked a departure from Jorge Chavez International Airport leaving 10.30 AM arriving Lima 10.40. Cost? USD 240 for a roundtrip ticket included taxes. So soon I will see the same view from the airline window as shown on YouTube above.
We booked a suite at Terra Viva Saphi Cuzco for three nights at a very reasonable cost! The days spent in this Andean city will probably be the most memorable during our tour, as we will expore the former Inca capital as well as Macchu Picchu and the Sacred Valley.  

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Medieval Copenhagen

Model of medieval Copenhagen during winter
Copehagen City museum is located in Fredriksberg in central Copenhagen. Outside the museum you find a model of how Copenhagen looked like in the middle ages.

Model of Christiansborg in the Middle Ages
Copenhagen is said to be founded in 1167 when bishop Absalon built a castle on Slottsholmen, where you find the Danish parliament today. Since then the city has grown to take up most of the south eastern part of the Sjælland island. 

Absalon - Archbishop and Statesman- read story here

The church here may be Hellig Aands kirke
Middelalderbyen (Medieval part of Copenhagen) are made up by Vester Voldgade, Stormgade, Vindebro, Bremerholm, Kirsten Bernikows Gade, Gothersgade og Nørre Voldgade. Copenhagens oldest remaining building is located within the grounds of Copenhagen University that was founded in 1479.

Here are a few old buildings seen during my visits in Copenhagen

Vis Copenhagen on Enjoy Food & Travel 2007-2012 i et større kart