Tokyo, to me Tokyo represents the town where anything can happen, from the strangest food combinations like sushi kebab to the extremely traditional rules of some sushi chefs who elevate making sushi to a form of art! And not just food-wise also the fact that there is an entire neighborhood to dedicated to manga art! (it’s called Akihabara). Temples that several centuries old are next door to high tech robot restaurants. Geisha and Sumo wrestlers!!! There so many sides to Tokyo that it’s impossible to see all of them in one trip!
Things you didn’t know about Tokyo:
- Founded as Edo once upon a time (in the 12th century), Tokyo’s literal translation means “East(ern) capital.
- As the annual Cherry Blossom Festival nears, television and radio reports include information on the “cherry blossom front” (sakura zensen), or the advance of the cherry blossoms across the different regions of Japan.
- Capsule hotels (hotels that contain rooms roughly the size of a large refrigerator) can be found around Tokyo. Most rooms include televisions, wifi, and an electronic console.
- Despite its popularity as a worldwide landmark and part of Tokyo’s backdrop, Mount Fuji is actually visible fewer than 180 days per year due to clouds and Tokyo’s air dust concentration.
- Tokyo contains over 100 universities and colleges, giving it the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions. One-third of Japan’s university students attend school in Tokyo.
Tsukemen or dipping noodles as they are also called, are soo good and the perfect dish for a light hot summer meal! You can keep it simple or use as many condiments as you want. But it’s a lovely meal to share with friends or family passing around the little bowls. The sauce is what it’s all about, the best word to describe it is umami, it is sweet and spicy at the same time and just utterly delicious! I served it with leftover jerk chicken from the Jamaica recipe but you can use any left over meat you have, or roasted pork belly would be ideal!
It’s been over 2 weeks and the image and taste of this cake are still floating around in my head. I’d wanted to make it for ages, since I heard so much about it, and I was pretty nervous when I started. So different from any other cake I ever baked before, so light and fluffy. My Christmas was epic, my mother and I cooked for days, and we really brought Christmas to another level this year. But for me this cake was one of the highlights, so I will share the recipe with you guys! Because I know this is a cake that makes everybody yearning for more.
Guam and Northern Marianas a few tiny dots in the middle of the ocean. Famous for being close to the Mariana Trench which is the deepest part of ocean anywhere in the world! Scientists say there are so many fish and other sea creatures that are undiscovered. Guam’s economy survives on Japanese tourists who come to visit these exquisite dreamy tropical islands! As Micronesia’s most populous island, Guam is about as ‘cosmopolitan’ as it gets in the middle of the ocean.
Some people are against it since the shopping malls are everywhere and the traditional Chamorro language is barely spoken on the islands. But then again if you think about it it’s kind of amazing, shopping malls in the middle of the ocean!
Things you didn’t know about Guam:
- Guam has the tallest mountain in the world 11 277,6 meters! Mount Lamlam is 1,332 feet above sea level. But thanks to the Marianas Trench (the deepest part of all the world’s ocean), it’s underground base becomes the greatest change of elevation on Earth compared to the height of Mt. Everest.
- Brown Tree Snakes are pests to Guam. They are not indigenous to Guam. It has been theorized that they stowed away on ships from Australia and Indonesia and sneaked their way onto the shores of Guam. Since they are not naturally from Guam, they do not have any predators. Therefore killing Brown Tree Snakes is socially accepted, so if you see someone smashing a snake it is considered normal.
- Guam is part of the USA!!! I never knew this. It’s closer to the Philippines then to US but still it’s part of the USA.
The 2 main islands of Guadeloupe are separated by a 50 meter width sea channel. Although 50 meters doesn’t seem that much the landscape of the 2 islands is completely different. Grand Terre in the East consists mainly of limestone with long magnificent beaches. It has a dry climate and is the centre of the tourist industry. Meanwhile Basse Terre is a mountainous island with extensive rainforests. So close and yet sooo different. The volcano La Grande Soufrière towers over Base Terre and is 1600m, it is the highest point in the Eastern Caribbean. Guadeloupe has the highest standard of living in the entire Caribbean.
Things you didn’t know about Guadeloupe:
- The famous dance of the island is called the biguine, which is still performed in traditional colourful Creole dress.
- Guadeloupe boasts some of the best diving sites in the world thanks to the crystal clear waters, wonderful coral, stunning wildlife and captivating ship wrecks!
- The people in Guadeloupe call their country Karukera, which means butterfly in Creole
I think this is literally the easiest recipe I ever made! It takes time to marinate yes. But no effort at all!
Ingredients: 12 jumbo uncooked shrimp, deveined, coarsely chopped, juice of 2 limes, 2 avocados, peeled and cubed, 4 small white onions, peeled and minced, ¼ cup coconut milk, chives (chopped), salt and pepper
- In a bowl, combine lime juice and shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill in refrigerator, 2 hours.
- Prior to serving, stir avocado and onion into shrimp mixture.
- Drizzle with coconut milk and garnish with chives. Serve.
The Provence, holiday paradise! The coast or Côte d’ Azur is a major celebrity hotspot in summer, and the country side is an inspiration to many many artists!
Things you didn’t know about the South of France
- There is still bullfighting in the South of France, but they don’t hurt or kill the bull. The only ones who are at risk are the bullfighters.
- Although most inhabitants speak French, Provencal is the traditional language of this Mediterranean region. It is similar to Catalan or Spanish.
- The beautiful Provencal countryside inspired the French artist Paul Cezanne (1839 to 1906) who was a native of Aix-en-Provence. His work includes landscapes, portraits and still lifes, which earned him the title “The Master of Aix.”
- The big story of recent years is how pétanque – a game that dates back over three millennia – suddenly got swank and boules became cool. In May 2010, after the Chanel Cruise show in Saint Tropez, Karl Lagerfeld hosted a starry pétanque tournament for Vanessa Paradis and Diane Kruger and other beautiful people and a friendly boules tournament has since become a traditional annual fixture at the Paris spring / summer men’s shows.
Bouillabaisse is traditionally from the Provence region. Specifically from Marseille, but nowadays every city or village has it’s own version. My mom claims this the best dish yet, and I totally agree. I think the secret lies in the fact that I made my own fish stock I made really big pan to store some in the freezer. So I will put that recipe on the blog as well later this week under the category Other Recipes.
So Croatia is literally one of the first countries on my list I want to visit. I’ve heard such great stories about and seen so many travel documentaries about the beautiful Croatian coast, and the food is supposed to be similar to Italian. Over the past few years Croatia became a tourist destination, and they are determined to keep that status. There are good sides to this like Croatia economy and bad sides like the mass tourism that brings all the teenagers to Croatia to drink cheap alcohol.
Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Croatia:
- This is just a fun little fact I thought I’d share, as it turns out Croatia invented the necktie. During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, the traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs worn by Croatian mercenaries aroused the interest of Parisians who for some reason immediately took to the new fashion accessory.
- That Croatia is the homeland of the famous merchant traveler Marco Polo. I thought he was Italian but apparently I was mistaken.
- Croatians can vote by the age of 16 provided they’re employed. If not, they must wait until the age of 18.
- The largest truffle in the world, which is 19.5cm long, 12.4 cm wide and 13.5 cm high, was discovered near Buje, Croatia. In fact Croatia has the largest truffle forest in the world!
- There is a compulsory 6-month military service for all boys over the age of 18.
- The highest quality tuna is farmed in Croatia, sushi chefs from the best restaurant in the world buy their tuna in Croatia, this tuna is not meant to end in a can or mixed up with mayonaise. No this is what you would call “The Good Stuff”.
When I bought the octopus I was very intimidated by it. I was soon scared to screw it up! Fortunately I didn’t! The food was awesome, just the natural juices that came out of the octopus itself! YUMMY! This is seriously one to remember. I got the idea after watching an episode of Anthony Bourdain in Croatia, I saw his reaction when he ate the octopus so that’s why I decided to give it a go!
This recipe is meant for 6 people
Ingredients: 1 kg of octopus, heads cleaned (learn how to do this right here), 500 gr potatoes, peeled, thickly sliced, 6 garlic cloves, chopped, 2carrots, thickly sliced, 60 ml(¼ cup) olive oil, 125 ml(½ cup) dry white wine
Preheat oven to 250°. Toss potatoes, garlic and carrots in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a 40 cm baking dish, add oil and cover tightly with foil and an upturned stainless-steel bowl. (If you have a peka dish, or tajine, preheat it according to manufacturer’s instructions and place mixture inside it.)
Bake for 1 hour, then carefully remove the lid and pour over wine. Replace lid and bake for a further 30 minutes or until vegetables and octopus are tender. Serve with lemon wedges and crusty bread.
You know the places you used to dream of as a kid. Blue lagoons, white beaches, girls with flowers in their hair etc etc? What if I told you a place like this still exists. On 15 tiny islands in the South Pacific you’ll find a thousand years of Polynesian culture sitting side by side with some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. And the best thing is, the Cook Islands are not overrun by mass tourism yet. Probably because it’s very very expensive to go there. The Cook Islands is a representative democracy with a parliamentary system in an associated state relationship with New Zealand. Their currency is New Zealand Dollar.
Here are some fun facts about the Cook Islands:
- The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.
- It is summer year-round in the Cook Islands. The drier months are from April to November with average temperatures between 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. The hotter, more humid months are from December to March with an average maximum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. (Seriously??!). Oh yeah the ocean is also 29 degrees Celsius so swimming pool temperature! (Is this the actual paradise?)
- The official language on the Cook Islands is English, but many people speak Maori. Still there is concern of the youth thinking that learning Maori language is irrelevant.
- Cook Islanders are very religious (catholic) they have strong sentimental feelings towards their past, traditions and culture.
- Dancing and music is a very important part of the Cook Island culture.
Ika Mata is sort of a ceviche like salad. I absolutely loved it! I felt like I a wizard when the fish sort of cooked in the lemon juice :P. I put in the fridge raw and took it out cooked! TADAAA!! And it was yummy, tasted so summery and tropical. It would be perfect starter or side dish on hot summer day. Really something to impress people with and believe me it is so easy that you could train a monkey to make it! 😀
Ingredients: salt to taste, 1 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 kg firm fish (I used monk fish), tabasco to taste, 1 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 spring onion, 1 cup of chopped coriander, 1 cup of chopped mint leaves, 1 cup of parsley.
- Cut the fish into small dice and put into a bowl. Tip over the lemon juice and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Pour the fish and the juice into a colander and drain.
- Return the fish to a clean bowl and add the coconut cream, salt and Tabasco. Taste and add more salt and Tabasco if desired.
- Stir through the onion, capsicum and spring onion while reserving a little of each to garnish. Refrigerate before serving in small bowls. Garnish, adding optional torn fresh coriander leaves