Tag Archives: desserts

Lisbon

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Lisbon = seafood and I love it! I honestly knew nothing about Lisbon before I arrived, but one thing I did do before going was listen to some Rick Steves podcasts about Portugal. There was one focused on just food, so I was definitely excited to try some seafood. If you’re ever walking around alone in Europe, I highly recommend downloading Rick Steves’ app and listening to the tracks about wherever you are. Great way to pass the time as you go from place to place and learn more about different attractions, cuisines, and cultures.

I got to Lisbon on Friday night, and took my time getting to dinner – I had a place in mind, but I read on TripAdvisor that there are always lines. Sure enough, when I reached Cervejaria Ramiro at 10:30 pm, there was a line of about 20 people! Luckily they were all a part of one big group, and I was seated within 10 minutes. I didn’t find this out until later but “cervejaria” basically means beer hall, which explains the rowdiness of the whole place.

They give you an iPad with a menu that has pictures on it, which is pretty helpful. The prices are listed in grams, which I had no frame of reference for, but when I said the 3 things I wanted, the waiter said I should get small sizes for all of them.

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I ordered shrimp with garlic, crab, and giant tiger prawns. The shrimp with garlic was delicious and came in this butter sauce that was great for dipping everything else in. Everything tasted really fresh! The crab is served as all of the legs and claws, but then they mix some crab meat with some stuff (I really have no way to describe this) and put it in the shell. It was… interesting. I wasn’t really sure what I should or shouldn’t have been eating in there, although I’m sure it was all fine. One travesty is that I didn’t eat the crab meat in the legs. I was a) too full, and b) given this hammer that you can see in the top left – I’m used to being given a crab cracker and felt really awkward using the hammer even with all the noise in the place.

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At Gambrinus, here’s some sole with a lemon butter sauce that I paid way too much for for lunch on Sunday.

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Portugal’s national dish is bacalhau, or salt cod, even though it’s all from Norway. They say there are 365 ways to prepare it. At Restaurante Carmo, I just got one of the most popular variations – bacalhau a bras, which is made of cod, rice, scrambled eggs, onions, and black olives. I was expecting just a piece of fish with the vegetables on the side, so this was a nice surprise! I liked it, although I wasn’t too sure how much cod vs. onions there really were in it.

Not to be outdone, pork is also very popular in Portugal. Also at Carmo, I had some pata negra:

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This was sooo good. The ham is from pigs who are only fed acorns or grains, or a mix of both (not sure which one this was) which changes the flavor and quality of the meat.

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On Saturday night, I ate at Joao do Grao, which was a little too touristy. It’s never good when the menu comes in 10 different languages. I ordered carne de porco alentejana – fried pork with clams. When this came out, I was a little worried because of the fries. Yes, the fries sucked but the rest was pretty good. This was actually my first time eating clams! Not bad.

The one thing that Lisbon is REALLY famous for is pastel de nata, a pastry made with eggs. When I read about them and saw pictures, I thought, “hmm, these sound like dan tats,” which are Chinese egg tarts that you eat at the end of dim sum. I read that the Belem district, about 25 minutes away by bus from central Lisbon, is the best place to get them, so I made the trek over there.

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In Belem, they’re so special that they’re called pasteis de belem, which is also the name of the bakery. This place was insane! There was a line out the door, but it moved pretty fast. When I took a bite of them, I thought, “hmm, these taste like dan tats.” I looked up dan tat online, and basically the only places where these are popular are Portugal and Hong Kong/Macau! Weird but cool. But makes sense, when you realize that Macau used to be a colony of Portugal. The more you know.

I do think these were slightly better than dan tats though; they were sweeter. Usually I don’t like dan tats enough to make it to the end of one. Also the cup is made of puff pastry and while the cup in dan tats are usually more dense, flour based.

One thing to note as you eat through Lisbon is that they will always put down a basket of bread on your table – this is not free! You can refuse it or just not touch it and they won’t put it on your bill, but if you do eat it, it costs a euro or two. I definitely broke down on this a time or two.

EuroTrip

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One of my best friends, Jill, and her brother, Jim, planned a trip to Europe so I invited myself along! I met up with them in Paris and then we spent a week traveling through France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

France

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Of course – macarons. I am obsessed with the colors of macarons. I’ve read about the great Laduree vs. Pierre Herme debate, so I thought I’d try my own taste test.

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I tried Pierre Herme first, where I just got a pre-made box of 12. The flavors were pretty interesting – milk chocolate & passion fruit, salted butter caramel, olive oil with mandarin orange, mint, etc. The ones with fruit weren’t my favorite, but the quality was great and they really did melt in my mouth.

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Laduree had a much longer line. While the colors of the macarons were a lot more Instagramable, but I didn’t think they were as good as Pierre Herme. They just didn’t taste as fresh and the flavors felt a little more artificial. I got a box of six – I tried rose, coffee, pistachio, citron, Marie Antoinette, and salted caramel. Don’t get me wrong though – if someone offered me a Laduree macaron, it’s not like I’d pass it up.

Luxembourg

Here we made one of the worst decisions of the trip – eating at Quick, a fast food restaurant similar to McDonald’s that’s big in France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. A couple of us had some stomach issues after eating Quick, if you get what I mean…

Belgium

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We got these Belgian waffles pretty close to Brussels’ main square, which probably wasn’t smart. There wasn’t anything special about these waffles, which were absolutely covered in milk chocolate, strawberries, and powdered sugar. It was a little disgusting to eat by the end.

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This was actually the first time I had ever eaten mussels. I liked them! However, that might be because they were slathered in butter and garlic. Jim also had them and thought they were good; Jill had one and thought they tasted like boogers.

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In Bruges, we got Belgian frites! These are pretty much just normal french fries, but there are a ton of different sauces to get – curry, tartar, cocktail, mustard, and andalouse (similar to thousand island dressing) just to name a few. I got a garlic sauce, which was tasty.

The Netherlands

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We ate poffertjes, or Dutch pancakes, several times in Amsterdam. They’re basically just regular pancakes, but mini sized, with a slightly spongy texture. You could get them with chocolate and tons of fruit, or the traditional (and my favorite) way – covered in butter and powdered sugar.

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While in the 1 1/2 hour long line for the Van Gogh Museum, Jill and I each got a stroopwafel. Stroopwafels are really thin waffles with a caramel syrup inside. It wasn’t as sweet as you’d think it would be, which was good.

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My last day in Amsterdam, I did a wine and cheese tasting at the Reypenaer cheese tasting room! An instructor guided a group of about 15 of us through six cheeses and three wines. I learned that as the cheese gets older, it gets a lot drier and more crumbly. We were provided with a sheet of paper to write down descriptions of the color, taste and our ratings. I wasn’t really too good at picking out the flavors in each cheese – apparently there were flavors like smoke and chocolate in them?! All I could taste was cheese.

I loved my time traveling through Europe, and especially Amsterdam, which is definitely my favorite city in Europe so far! Maybe next time I’ll be brave enough to try some raw herring?

Budapest

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For one of my weekends in Europe, I decided to visit Budapest! I have heard great things about the city. I loved my time in Prague and wanted to see more of Eastern Europe. I love how cheap the food is!

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Of course, I had to try goulash and I had it several different times while I was in Budapest. My recommendation would be to actually go to a restaurant and order it. I had it a couple times, once in front of Buda Castle, and another time in the Central Market, where you buy by weight. I found that these aren’t really that great – in the Central Market the guy literally scooped it out of the pan, put it into the microwave and heated it up before serving it to me. However, at Menza, it was served with egg noodles and actually tasted like they might have made it right after I ordered it, and I got what the big deal was about. It’s made with Hungarian paprika, which has a nice smoky taste to it.

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I also tried langos, which is basically a deep fried bread sort of similar to naan. The most popular toppings are sour cream and cheese; I just got cheese and garlic which was pretty good too. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was a nice, simple meal to fill up on.

It was SO HOT the entire time I was in Budapest – it was 95 degrees and sunny each of the three days I was in the city. However, I used this as an excuse to eat some of the best and definitely prettiest gelato I’ve ever had.

Located right by St. Stephen’s Basilica, Gelarto Rosa is the #1 place to get dessert in Budapest according to TripAdvisor, and has way more reviews than any other place. I seriously planned my sightseeing around stopping by this place for a quick treat.

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They shape the gelato into roses – so pretty! This was my fruity one with four flavors: basil lemon, mango, raspberry and peach. Like all food in Hungary, this was so cheap – 750 HUF or $2.66 USD.

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The next time I went, I got 3 flavors: vanilla, Oreo, and hazelnut. So good!!

I wish I had more time to try more food in Budapest – I wouldn’t have felt too bad about it because it is all so inexpensive! I think I spent about $50 on food the whole three days I was in Budapest, and I definitely didn’t starve. I’m looking forward to my next trip to Eastern Europe!

Gingersnaps

Even though we don’t even have a tree or decorations up, Christmas is an excellent excuse to make gingersnaps!  This recipe was forwarded on to me a few years ago by my bro-in-law, and my roommate and I gobbled up about 60 of these in less than a week during finals time.

Ingredients:
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tbsp baking soda
–  3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) room temperature butter
– 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
– 1 egg
– 1/4 cup molasses

Directions:
1.  Add together the flour, salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and baking soda.
2.  In a separate bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy, gradually adding the 1 cup of sugar.
3.  Blend in the egg and molasses to the butter.
4.  Add the flour mixture and combine thoroughly.
5.  Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in granulated sugar. Flatten the balls down and place onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 6 minutes at 350°.