Monday, February 24, 2014
Friday, February 21, 2014
Sometimes you get into a production efficient rut. You optimize your free time between work and chilling out with a glass of wine by optimizing your life chores and the thing you need to do - like cook dinner. I’m incredibly guilty of doing this. My hubby and I have quite the commute to and from work each day so we’ve developed a number of quick and easy meals that we can get on the table from scratch in around 20mins at night. While this is great from a life enjoyment perspective it does get a little monotonous from a foodie perspective. I’ve decide to make 2014 the year that I try and expand my "go to" 20min meal repertoire. My criteria for new meals was that I could have them on the table inside 30mins - even if it was the first time I was creating them, and that all the ingredients were available at my local fruit & vege store, butcher or supermarket.
We love Asian flavors so my first go to was to rework an old favorite - Vietnamese chicken salad. Super easy to make, there is hardly any cooking in this recipe and it made enough for 4 people so we could have it the second night also.
Boil around 500g chicken. When it’s cooked through allow it to rest before roughly shredding with a fork. In the mean time thinly slice around 1/4 to 1/2 a savoy cabbage. Change the amount depending on how much cabbage you like. Thinly slice a couple of carrots into small pieces around the size of a toothpick. Again you can add more if carrot is a favorite food. Roughly chop a bunch of coriander and a bunch of Vietnamese mint. And thinly slice one white onion. Add a cup or two of bean sprouts. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl - including the chicken. Serve on a plate and dress. The dressing can be customized to your taste but is roughly 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2-3 table spoons of lime juice, a tea spoon of palm sugar (or castor sugar) and fresh chili to taste. I add about 2-3 birds eye chills as we like it spicy. If you’re going to eat this over 2 nights I recommend keeping the dressing separate and only pouring it over what you serve up. Garnish with some fried shallots. (You can find these in the Asian & international foods section of your supermarket) and you have a great meal. I particularly love this in summer. Oh and it’s super healthy so if you’re hungry just add extra cabbage and carrot and you have a great filling meal that’s pretty low calorie.
This is definitely going to be on my meal repeat list for the next few months.
Monday, February 17, 2014
Monday, February 10, 2014
Wise words. Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in chasing career success, a better car, a bigger house, relationships or things that aren't good for you. Happiness is not found in what we have, but is very much found in moments that we find joy. Make chasing joy your goal. Happiness will surely follow.
Sunday, February 2, 2014
I'm feeling a little lost as I sit on the bed of our hotel in Barcelona and write this post. You see our holiday is almost at an end. The bag is mostly packed and just waiting for me to zip it up and for us to make our way to the airport. I've had a great time traveling around Spain - not sure if it really counts as a holiday as we've been so busy. But it's definitely been time away from work and an opportunity to see and experience part of the world I've never been. I'm very thankful for the experience and that each place we stayed had wifi (of varying quality) so that I could blog and upload photos - something I wish I did more regularly when I travel. With that said let me move on to talk about our final destination in Spain - Barcelona. (Make sure you pronounce it Bar-the-lona to at least try and sound like you're local).
I had high hopes for Barcelona. Every time I told someone I was coming to Spain they always, always, always mentioned how much they loved Barcelona. In fact it was usually the first thing they mentioned. When I asked what they loved about it they were always pretty vague - 'you know it's just awesome'. Well I'm sorry to tell you I've joined the club - it is awesome. I'll try and be a little more specific though. I loved the people. I loved the food. And I loved the art. For me Barcelona has been all about Gaudi. His presence is everywhere in the city - and not just in the architecture of what he built. There are influences of his design and whimsy everywhere. The thing is you really need to experience it. The photos (and certainly mine) just don't do it justice and capture the whimsy and workings of his mind. Nevertheless I tried.
Our first stop was La Sagradia Familia - which is still being built. Everywhere you look your mind bends like the curves and swirls Gaudi embraced in his design. My mind boggles that someone could come up with the idea and every little detail it entails. It truly is magical and worthy of several hours of time in a visit.
If you haven't got your Gaudi fill after the Basilica (it is now) then you can head on up to Park Guell for some more of Gaudi's fantasy expressed in architecture. My big tip - do both early - it gets packed. Seems like Gaudi has lots of fans :-)
And if that's not enough Gaudi for you (and it wasn't for me) head on over to Casa Batllo - a stunning example of a private home Gaudi built for a clearly very discerning patron.
The thing about Gaudi that I love is how every angle gives you a new perspective on his buildings. It's astonishing how much you see the longer you pause and look. Of course Barcelona is not just about the art of Gaudi, it's also about the art of food - and we ate a lot of it. Thanks to some fabulous recommendations from a friend (Courtney you rock!) we appreciated the art of food a lot in Barcelona. Everything from the markets to the finest dining was delicious, and beautiful on the plate.
It's hard to pick a favourite place on this trip. It seems like each new place we visited I liked better than the last, but as I look over the blog posts of the past few weeks that's just not true. I truly enjoyed each city and town and there was something unique and special in each one. I think that's the thing about travel. If you look for the heart of each place you visit you'll never be disappointed and you'll always be delighted by what you find.
Want to read all my posts on Spain? You can find them here.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
San Sebastian was the first place on our trip where we experienced rain. Oh and extreme high tides and seas. When we arrived in the city the first thing we say was the closure of the sea front roads and walkways and the bridge that you see below due to high seas.
We weren't too worried as we really came here for the food and wine. After all it's the middle of winter and way too cold for the beach. On the plus side the cold and wet weather meant we had the place almost to ourselves and could get in to any restaurant we wanted - including Azark... more on that later. We spent our first evening doing a wine tasting with San Sebastian Food before heading out for some pinchos. This was a great way to start the evening and we learnt a lot more about Spanish wine and several grape varieties I've never hear of. I'll be blogging details of the tasting over at agirlandaglass.com in the coming weeks.
As we were so close to Rioja we decided to drive up and visit a few wineries on our first full day in town. We visited two completely different, but both fantastic, wineries. First up was Muga Bodega - a family run business over 200 years old. Not only do they still make wines with very traditional methods but they also have their own master hooper on site and still make all their own barrels. They made over 1700 last year alone. We came, we toured, we tasted and we enjoyed. You could see the history and passion.
Bia Gorri was a complete contrast, but again beautiful and enjoyable. At only 11 years old the winery is modern in both architecture and style of wine. Quite the contrast to Muga. After touring the facility and seeing how they use gravity to make the wine, we enjoyed a tasting paired with lunch.
We were not done eating or drinking for the day though. That night we went to dinner at Azark. Hands down this was the best degustation I've ever done. The food was amazing. The wine was great. And the staff were welcoming and relaxed. This is an absolute must visit if you're a foodie and in the area. I don't care who you have to bribe to get in... do it! (I only posted some of photos. If you want to see pics of everything we ate you can here).
Our last day in San Sebastian was filled with more rain and just a few glimmers of sunshine. We spent the day wandering the streets in between downpours and bar hopping for more pinchos (pinxtos).
All in all the visit here was great - a little too short and a lot too wet. If I get the opportunity I'll definitely come back.
Want to read all my posts on Spain? You can find them here.