Archive for July, 2010

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in World Cuisine Wednesdays | on July 21st, 2010

During the month of August, Amsterdam will be welcoming one of the most anticipated events of the year, De Parade. This  traveling theatre festival visits various cities throughout Netherlands including Rotterdam, Amsterdam and The Hague.  Visitors are treated to performances by wandering entertainers, children’s programs and my favorite, the food fair!

The food fair is one of the most popular features at De Parade.  An international food booth offers a great variety of cuisines in snack portions or full meals. This year, De Parade will take place from 6 August until 22 August at the Martin Luther King Park on Amsteldijk between the Beragebrug and Utrechsbrug.

Gates are open from 3:00 p.m. until midnight.

This week, our food travels will take us on a trip to Amsterdam for a refreshing summer dessert.  Hangop is an old Dutch recipe that is not only delicious, but healthy as well!  Plus, this treat is extremely easy to put together.

Berry Hangop

  • 4 c plain, strained yogurt
  • 1 lb fresh strawberries (or any berry of your choice)
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • sugar to taste
  • ¬º c balsamic vinegar + 2 tbsp (optional)
  • 2/3 c fresh chopped basil (optional)

Sweeten the yogurt with sugar to desired flavor and whip in the seeds of the vanilla bean.

To make the sauce, puree berries, sugar and a teaspoon of water in a food processor or blender. If you wish, add the vinegar and basil to the mixture for a unique topping.

Garnish with fresh berries and mint leaves.

Fine Dining in Europe

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on July 16th, 2010

Part of the fun and excitement of international travel are the unique dining experiences that one is exposed to.  Any city in Europe that you visit will offer countless options for indulging yourself, but the best ones may not always be obvious.  Some of the best restaurants in Europe are located in areas you wouldn’t expect, and in some cases you might walk right by and not even know what you just passed.  Here are three examples of restaurants that are worth a try if you happen to be in these cities.

Starting in Madrid, you could visit this restaurant during the day and not even know that you are in a restaurant.  Asiana is a restaurant that is located in the basement of an Asian antiques store.  Head chef Jaime Renedo opened this restaurant in 2005 at the age of 22, in the basement of his mothers Antiques store in the heart of Madrid.  What Renedo lacks in age, he makes up for in fantastic cuisine and creative dishes.  The menu features a 10 dish fixed tasting menu that changes each month or depending on what is available at the market.  The dishes are influenced by Japanese, Mediterranean, South East Asian and Peruvian cuisines, as well as a heavy influence from the creativity of Renedo.  The restaurant emits a cozy and intimate atmosphere, only seating about 25 guests around 7 tables.  Although a relatively pricey restaurant, those who have dined there were not disappointed and you will not be either.

Considered one of the top cities in the world for fine cuisine, Paris will be sure to not disappoint when it comes to dining out.  With so many fine dining options that Paris presents, it might be overwhelming to make a decision on where to eat.  Not mentioned in any tourist guidebooks, Le Tournebievre is a restaurant that is sure to impress.  The first thing that you notice about the restaurant, that is when you find it, is the phenomenal view of the Seine River and the Notre Dame.  A small, cozy bistro style restaurant seating around 20 guests, Le Tournebievre isn’t a flashy restaurant that stands out; in fact it is located between several chic touristy dining spots that won’t stand out at first glance.  Le Tournebievre is also not priced like the other restaurants that surround it, making it that much more appealing.  Not saying that it is a cheap restaurant, at Le Tournebievre your money goes a long way and you absolutely get more than what you pay for.

Not as famously noted for fine dining like Paris or some Italian cities, London features a plethora of dining options that will please any palate.  One restaurant that surpasses just about all London dining options is The Fat Duck, located just west of the city.  Voted the best restaurant in the world in 2005, The Fat Duck is a dining experience that you are sure to never forget.  Head chef Heston Blumenthal is a self taught chef who lives to cook, or as he calls it “molecular gastronomy.”  Again this restaurant doesn’t stand out from the rest, and does take either knowing where it is or having someone point you in the right direction, but is worth the journey once you are seated and about to delve into the unique creations that Blumenthal thinks of.  The menu features large meals, some with as many as 15 courses, all with small portions, which enables you to sample all of the delicious creations from the chef.  Part of the dining experience is the atmosphere and the presentation of the food, featuring frozen soups, liquid nitrogen as an ingredient, blow torches and even scrambled egg and bacon ice cream! Although pricey, if it fits in the budget The Fat Duck is worth every penny and will be sure to make a lasting impression on you.

So whether you are looking for some dining options while you are in Europe or just hungry for adventure, Europe has a restaurant for you.  Travel to Europe and give your palate an international treat that you will never forget.

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on July 14th, 2010

Bonjour, Travelers! I hope you’re staying cool in this hot July sun! I think the perfect treat to enjoy on days such as this would be a light, cool mousse. French for “lather” or “foam”, mousse used to be a specialty that was only served in French restaurants until the 1960s. It can be flavored with any number of things: orange, vanilla, chocolate, butterscotch, etc.

This week, let’s take a trip to France for a cool, creamy chocolate mousse recipe.

Mousse au Chocolat

• 4 egg yolks
• 4 egg whites
• 6 oz unsalted butter
• 6 oz bittersweet, semi-sweet or dark chocolate
• ¾ c sugar
• 4 tbsp coffee
• Pinch of salt

Beat egg yolks and sugar together until it becomes a thick yellow mixture.

Melt chocolate and coffee together, slowly add butter and beat until mixture is smooth, then add egg yolk and sugar mixture.

Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. Add 1 tbsp sugar and beat for 2 more minutes.

Add approximately 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, stir well and then add the rest.

Chill well for at least 2 hours. Serve with whipped cream, strawberries or as is, it’s delicious no matter what!

Bon Appétit!

Fantastic Four

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on July 6th, 2010

Summertime brings out the best in Europe, making it the ideal time to visit.  Cities come to life when the weather starts to warm up.  But deciding where to visit from the many wonderful cities and spectacular sites that Europe offers can be a daunting task.  I’ve come up with a list of what I think are must-visit cities when the days get longer and the temperatures rise.

Naples, Italy- With its wonderfully mild climate, Naples was a favorite vacation destination of royalty during the Roman times. This lively city is located in Italy’s Campania Region near the clear blue Mediterranean between the Campi Flegrei caldera and the colossal volcano, Vesuvius.

While you’re in town, you must enjoy the taste of pizza in the city of its origin  at one of the many pizzerias. If you are in Plebiscito Square, a recommended eatery is Pizzeria Brandi.  This is the place “Pizza Margherita” was first made as a special treat for Queen Margherita during her visit to Naples in 1889.

Naples offers a variety of tourist activities such as visits to Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, sailing expeditions in the Mediterranean and even day trips down the Amalfi Coast to Ravello.

, Spain- Located in Northern Spain along the banks for the River Nervión and near the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao is a major seaport.  The climate of Bilbao is temperate and mild, rarely reaching temperatures higher than 78°.

When visiting Bilbao, make sure to stop and say hello to Puppy, a 43 ft tall  flower sculpture of a terrier who stands guard in front of the Guggenheim Museum.  Opened in 1997, the Guggenheim has showcased various works by artists such as Henri Rousseau, Anish Kapoor, Frank Lloyd Wright and Jeff Koons (creator of Puppy).

There is a festival every August that last for 9 days called the Semana Grande; events at this huge fiesta include free music and street theatre performances, bullfighting, strongman games and bullfighting.  Find a cheap flight to Bilbao and join the party!

Other popular summertime activities in Bilbao include surfing, sailing and kayaking in the Bay of Biscay.

Berlin, Germany- Berlin has a variety of things for visitors to see and do year round, but with its mild, oceanic climate,  summer is the best time to see all this great city has to offer.

Berlin is home to many popular festivals annually. Love Parade, a celebration of all things techno, is held in the Tiergarten park each July. Every Pentecost weekend, the multi-ethnic street parade Karneval der Kulturen is held.  And of course, Berlin’s most famous festival: Berlin Beer Festival is held each August.  This festival brags the world’s longest beer garden which is over a mile long and offers more than 1800 types of brew.

To relax and enjoy a day outside, head to Strandbad Wannsee. At over 4000 feet long and 260 feet wide, this is the largest inland beach in Europe.  People from all over come to enjoy the sandy beaches, parks and promenades.

Porto, Portugal- Summertime is the ideal time to travel to Porto, with its oceanic climate the days are pleasant and the nights are cool.  Located close to the western coast of Portugal along the Atlantic Ocean, Porto offers a great variety of outdoor activities to keep you busy during your visit.

Porto is also located right on the Douro River.  A river cruise on a rabelo is a great way to see the city, passing by the main sites along the way.  There are two hour cruises as well as full day cruises which travel all the way to the Spanish border, with return trips on a scenic train ride through wine country.

There you have it, my top four picks for travel to Europe in the summertime.  What are your favorite cities to visit in the summer?

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