Archive for February, 2011

World Cuisine Wednesday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on February 16th, 2011

This morning as I was contemplating today’s blog, my boss came up to me and asked what I planned on writing.¬† I was about to answer that I wasn‚Äôt quite sure, but as my mouth opened, I remembered that he is taking a trip Barcelona next week. Instead of saying, “I don’t know yet.” I asked about his upcoming vacation (while secretly wishing it was me getting ready to take a winter break somewhere warm).

His trip will be a short one, and the plan is to see as much as possible in just a few days.  The itinerary includes Las Ramblas – a tourist hotspot, complete with market stalls, old bookstores, gift shops and a myriad of entertainment from street performers to palm readers.  A few streets over is the Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic).  This former ancient Roman village is now a peaceful area chock full piazzas, cafés and beautiful 14th century architecture.  Other tentative destinations on the schedule are the Picasso Museum, La Sagrada Familia and Art Montfalcon (Barcelona’s largest souvenir shop).

Today, as a Bon Voyage to The Boss, I will give you an easy and delicious way to make Crema Catalana, a classic Spanish dessert.  Crema Catalana is the Catalonia region’s version of crème brulée.  It is a rich and delicious custard,  flavored with lemon or orange zest and cinnamon.

Crema Catalana

  • 3 ¬Ω c and 1 cup whole milk
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Rind of ¬Ω lemon (or orange if you prefer)
  • 1 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick

In a large saucepan, bring 3½ milk, lemon rind and cinnamon to a gentle boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove lemon rind and cinnamon stick, set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and remaining milk until creamy.

Over medium heat, add egg mixture and 2/3 cup sugar into the saucepan of heated milk, stir until thickened. Do NOT boil.

Immediately pour mixture into six heatproof dessert cups (crème brulée cups work well).

When custard has cooled down to room temperature, top the surface of each with the remaining sugar.

Place serving dishes under hot broiler to caramelize the sugar topping, just until the surface is a light, even brown.  Chill for a few hours prior to serving.

Amsterdam, I love you, Man.

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights | on February 4th, 2011

As we all know, Valentine’s Day is around the corner.  Last year, I wrote this blog, giving travelers ideas on where they should take their sweetheart in honor of the day dedicated to love.  But what about the single (and happy about it, thankyouverymuch) population?  It’s not just couples who can have fun on Valentine’s Day!

Grab a friend or three and plan a buddy trip to Amsterdam for the occasion. True, it is a romantic little city, with the canals, gabled houses and sidewalk cafés.  However, it is also a really fun vacation destination!  An abundance of activities await you in Amsterdam.

You could take a day to see the sights by booking a bicycle tour of the city. As one of the most bicycle/pedestrian-friendly cities in the world, there is plenty of space for riders on the roads and a number of bike paths throughout Amsterdam.

Soak up some culture at one of the many art and history museums. Those who love science and technology can’t miss a trip to the NEMO Science Center.  The structure was built to look like a boat run aground and is home to hundreds of temporary interactive displays.  With the number of exhibits spread throughout the museum, the coinciding games and experiments will keep visitors to the Science Center enthralled for hours.

Or, if you just need a vacation from the hustle and bustle of every day life, sit back and relax on a lazy canal ride through the city.  With different routes and cruises available, the choice is yours!

Call 1-800-Fly-Europe for a cheap flight to Amsterdam or check out our specials here on the website.  No matter what your plans are for this Valentine’s Day, I hope you have a safe and wonderful time.

World Cuisine Wednesday…er, Thursday

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, World Cuisine Wednesdays | on February 3rd, 2011

I know it’s a day late, but I was snowed in yesterday!   For the last few days, many of us in the United States experienced severe winter weather.  Experts say it was the largest snow storm to sweep across the country in decades!  Here in Portland, Maine we saw 7.3 inches of snow just yesterday alone.  Cold days like these call for warm, rich, snow-day food and what better place to find such a concoction than Italy?  Let’s travel to Italy and bring back a recipe for the perfect comfort food!

This recipe is always a winner, guaranteed to keep you warm!

Rigatoni with Béchamel Sauce

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole¬†milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated fontina
  • 16 oz rigatoni (may substitute with pasta of choice)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 425°

Melt butter over medium heat in a 2 qt saucepan.  Whisk in flour until smooth and slowly add milk; whisk until sauce is smooth.  Simmer approximately 10 minutes, until sauce is thick.  Remove from heat, add 1/2 c fontina and set aside.

Meanwhile, boil rigatoni until al dente. Add sauce and mix well.

Pour pasta with sauce into a well greased 9×13 inch oven safe dish and top with remaining fontina and diced butter.¬† Add salt and pepper to taste, and bake for 25 minutes.

Buon Appetito!

These Three Things – Berlin

By 1800FlyEurope in Destination Highlights, These Three Things | on February 1st, 2011

When taking a trip to Berlin, there are always a few stops on the itinerary that you can count on.  The Brandenburg Gate, what is left of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie are a few things that are likely to be on your list of places to see.  (Of course, you must visit the aforementioned sights while in Berlin; they are of extreme historical importance.)

Here are some other interesting spots in Germany’s capital city that you may want to add to your list of things to do and see:

Museumsinsel (Museum Island) РExactly what its name is translated to be, Museumsinsel is an island in the River Spree with an impressive complex of museums.  The museums located on Museumsinsel are:

Pergamon – contains a collection of Islamic and Classical antiquities and the Pergamon Altar

Altes – Displays the Collection of Classical Antiquities’ Greek Collection on the 1st floor and temporary exhibits on the 2nd floor

Altes Nationalgalerie- exhibits a collection of 19th century art, mostly German and French Impressionists

Bode – home to Byzantine and Antique sculptures dating from the Middle Ages and later

Neues- Recently reopened after having been closed for decades, the Neues Museum showcases Early History and Egyptian artifacts and collections (among these is the bust of Queen Nefertiti)

This complex was added as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

Fernsehturm (TV Tower) – Located in Berlin’s city center is the TV Tower.  Visitors will be taken up 669 feet in a matter of 40 seconds, where they can enjoy seeing Berlin from a birds eye view.  (On a clear day, visibility can reach 25 miles!) Once you’re that high up, you might as well go a little further and head upstairs for an meal in the revolving café.  This is one of the most unique and unforgettable ways to see all of Berlin!

Tiergarten РThe largest inner city park in Berlin is the Tiergarten (translated to Animal Park).  Picturesque gardens, tree-shaded sidewalks and a large playground draw both visitors and Berliners by the hundreds.  At Tiergarten, you will be able to see the Victory Column and visit the Berlin Zoo. (Opened in 1844, it is the oldest zoo in Germany.) Visiting Tiergarten is a good way to get in a number of sights in just one stop!

Have you been to Berlin?  What were your favorite stops?

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Fare Type Round Trip     One Way
Passengers  Adults
  Children under 11