(The menu- only in Spanish)
(First impressions are everything)
(So welcoming and love the colours)
One of our fabulous MBA students from Chile gave me some recommendations of things to do/see/eat while I was in Santiago. As you have probably realized, my priorities tend toward the eating variety, so first up is FOOD!
There is a lovely, albeit, touristy place called Patiobellevista, which houses numerous shops selling Chilean handicrafts. Think copper and a blue stone which can only be found in Afghanistan and Chile- lapis lazuli (according to the open-top bus tour commentary). Patiobellevista also hosts some inviting restaurants with plenty of outdoor seating- which for a girl who rarely sees the sun living in Edinburgh, al fresco dining was a must.
I was instantly attracted by the outdoor porch setting of Cebichería Constitución,and understanding what this was, I was in. For you non-hispanophones- it is ceviche and it was the freshest tasting seafood I think I have eaten. This mixed-fish ceviche was served with fresh lime juice, a bit of yam, onions and white beans. I also tried some of their fresh octopus with an amazing black olive ‘dressing’ of sorts. I would love to try to recreate these dishes now I am home, hopefully Ben is game. We just need a Mercado Central* in Edinburgh.
*Mercado Central is a huge fresh seafood market in Santiago. I popped in for a look and smell (so fresh, there wasn’t one)! I was kindly asked several times where I was from- I the wide-eyed lost look always gets me in trouble. They make a famous eel broth here- I gave this a pass.
Ben’s sister Sarah has always claimed she is a fan of my baked goods, it could be family member flattery, and if it is, then she is now stuck with more cookies than she might ever want!
For their Christmas gift Ben and I baked a variety of cookies and sent a box down to Sarah, Richard, Emily and Adam.
We started with these gluten-free peanut butter cups. Ben is interested in the science behind the melting and tempering of chocolate and the temperature it needs to be to ensure it sets without refrigeration and without crystallising. He did an amazing job with these treats.
They are far better than your original Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, less waxy tasting and the peanut butter ‘nutella’ you make for the filling really elevates this snack.
We used the recipe from a great site called Brave Tart ( I love a good pun!) I am dying to try her 3 Musketeers Bar- maybe as a birthday treat.
I also learned that Ben is not a fan of the peanut butter cup, even when homemade and prepared with high-quality chocolate.
I say YUMMERS!
This weekend our usual bread-based meals (here, here, here and here) could not compete with our meal of carbohydrates squared. It was Tartine’s focaccia. Almost better than the rounds of the stuff from Broders’, Italian deli, where I worked in high school, college, post college and beyond. I was first introduced to focaccia there.
Ben crafted the bread base and then we topped the airy base with madonlined potatoes. They had been tossed in olive oil, salt, fresh-cracked pepper and thyme. Then scattered over the surface and baked for 20-minutes
Coming out of the oven, shavings of pecorino romano are sprinkled strategically over the hot bread and some additional thyme. Consume immediately. You will not be disappointed.
In fact, I would have locked myself into a closet and eaten all this, but we do not have a closet, lucky for Ben and the focaccia.
Ben and I are attempting to mix-it-up and trying to be a bit more adventurous with our cooking. Ben has been perfecting his pulled pork recipe. It started with a tasty hunk from Peelham Farms, a local producer of high-quality meat products. You can even adopt a pig, then the team from Peelham slaughters it for you and you have piles of the other white meat.
Starting with the pork, Ben followed David Chang of Momofuku’s recipe for Pork-Belly Buns, but replace the pork belly with pork shoulder and used some of the elements of the Bo Ssam recipe that is so popular at his New York restaurant.
To cook the buns we picked up a steamer at our local Chinese supermarket. I have always wanted a steamer. With Ben, all my dreams do come true.
Perfectly puffed and brushed with oil so they do not stick together. They cook in 5-7 minutes.
The final product- with a taste explosion of ginger and scallion sauce and ssamjang, a fiery soybean paste. Momofuk-me they were good!
We had left-over pork, so the next night we had some traditional Chinese Char Siu Bao or pork buns.
Recommended Daily Avocado….
The food in Central and South America was so tasty.
In Mexico I ventured out of my comfort zone and hit up some non-touristy places. They did not disappoint. Even with my limited Spanish I was able to order some delish dishes. Enchiladas Verde, Tortas, Huevos Rancheros and Tacos.
I chose little dive restaurants, heavy on the charm and quick service, light on the cleanliness. No gringas and no receipts.
The neighbourhood where I stayed in Bogota was light on restaurants, but there was a supermarket, Carulla’s, just behind the hotel where I could pick up fixings for tasty hotel-based dinners. My favourite- avocado sandwiches. The store-bought avocados were perfectly ripe. I could scoop them out with a plastic spoon.
These bocadillo were followed by fresh fruit. You get the most amazing selection of exotic fruits. My favorites are the grandilla, grown in the Andes mountains. There are small seeds encased in tasty-juicy fruit pouches (like a passion fruit) all protected in an orange case. Yummers. Another discovery this trip was the physalis or ground-cherry.
I also had the best pulpo a la plancha. Grilled to caramelised perfection.
One of the things we have struggled to find are tasty replacement pastries. We used to love popping to the local boulangeries for weekend treats. Our favourite was at Trois Dauphin on rue Montroge.
We came close this recently with a trip to the Stockbridge Market. Tasty croissants aux amandes, filled with frangipan. In France they use day-old croissants filled with the almonds and then baked- a calorie bomb is there ever was one. These were lighter and probably a bit healthier, but I doubt it.
Other fun things that have been on the menu with some recent visitors:
- Lamb burgers with sun dried tomatoes and feta- very summery (we had three days of sunshine last week) and on homemade bread buns (by me) with James.
- Cinnamon Baked French Toast with Leanne and Robyn.
- We enjoyed these Banana Crumb Muffins with Chloe.
- Have you tried lasagne with lamb, you should try this Lamb and Feta Lasagne.
- Mini-ricotta cheese cakes with added ginger- nice!
Look Mum No Hands (LMNH) is the airy-hip bike cafe in London owned by Ben’s former classmate from grammar school Lewin Chalkley. Located in a London ‘hood that one would not think would be buzzing on a Sunday- the empty office high rises were an obvious sign, but Old Street was the perfect place for brunch.
We opted not to go out on Saturday night, feasting instead on a brown and serve baguette with cheddar and mustard- French for me, yellow for Ben- split 30/70 along with a couple of beers we ‘borrowed’ from Craig and Lesley.
By morning, our hunger levels were up, so off we went a pied. I ordered a flat white and scrambled eggs on brown toast with mushrooms, Ben went French- roasted ham and cheese croissant and a pain au raisin with a latte and double espresso. As we love to eat, we had checked the reviews and the coffee at Look Mum no Hands has received accolades for the care they take. It lived up to the coffee hype.
(Open spaces and content patrons)
The bicycle theme was everywhere. LMNH even has a shop where you can get your ride fixed while you eat. Ben and I felt a bit lame that we did not ride to brunch, but we rented Boris Bikes immediately afterwards; we hope this compensated.
(More bicycle decorations)
There was an outdoor seating area that proved popular for the cyclist finishing their Sunday morning rides. Thank you for keeping the stink outside near the ample cycle racks.
(Shiny- I would not be surprised if John and Adele already had these)
To Lewin and the LMNH gang: thanks for the warm welcome, we will be back and until then we will be tempted by the merchandise from your online shop.
SO GOOD… Out to Fisher’s Restaurant tonight for a welcome home dinner with Ben. Everything was tasty and a change from the food I ate in India.
In addition, there were loads of French people in Edinburgh for a rugby match, they had a table next to ours, so we were able to have a great chat!
Thanks to Aunt Kim and Uncle Tim for the gift certificate.