Taste of Traditional Turkish Cuisine

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It’s more than Turkish Kebabs

I’m just used to Turkish Kebabs, Falafels, Shawarmas, and all those Middle Eastern popular foods around the world.  Little did I know what the real Taste of traditional Turkish cuisine really is. Luckily, we had an awesome tour guide to bring us to one of the very best, Bizim Ev Hanuueli Restaurant & Cafe in Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey.

Warm Food & Family

The restaurant has an interesting history. The restaurant’s history is really the story of the owner’s love. Love of family, friends and food and enjoying them together in their beautiful garden yard. It is a taste of real traditional Turkish food and culture.  You can even buy a cookbook called, My Mother’s Kitchen. The owner is Cansu Tucker, a Turkish local, who met an American tourist by capturing his tummy and then his heart. The rest is a really cool history that you can enjoy hearing from her while sampling her wonderful food at their cafe.

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What Is Traditional Turkish Cuisine Like?

As soon as we pulled in to the parking lot I was immediately impressed with the beauty of gardens and various seating areas the grounds.  The rustic cowboy style of the restaurant resembles that of a log cabin turned into a dining and stage area.  Yes, I said stage area.  They do have live bands and a dance floor in which a wild time can be had by all at night. The scene reminds me of an old school tavern from a fairytale movie.  Directly across from the stage and dance floor is a huge buffet, it’s like a feast!

I was told they do it everyday, a buffet style restaurant for 28€ is not bad and I tell you honestly that it was the best Turkish food I’ve ever tasted. No joke.  I enjoyed every bite. The selection is simply endless and no matter how small a serving you take, there is no way to work your way through all the options. Nada! Can not! I tried, but my stomach was about to explode.

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Palate Magic or Adventure?

It was a total palate adventure and the dishes totally unique. You may try to think of something you’ve tasted, but seriously words could never do justice to the culinary creations. It seems like they have used spices like no other and make some whimsical magic in your mouth. It truly is an explosion of flavors.

Simply put the stews are all different. The grilled ones taste totally unique and each one is slightly more so than the next one. The stuffed peppers are wonderful and even the grape leaves dishes are mind blowing.  You might think you know what their salsa taste like?  Then I should say, think again.  It’s all a big surprise!

Yet, my favorite dishes were the grilled vegetables, stuffed peppers and I loved the taters! (however, I always love them). The dark colored stew and sautéed meats, Turkish salsa (this taste really fresh and minty, I love it), yoghurt, and salads were all fantastic.  It’s like a hit and miss game because they all looked great. It’s a matter of preference, mine may not be yours, so just enjoy the ride.  It’s worth it.

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Their complimentary dessert is a local Tiramisu, with rough but soft cassava texture topped with a dash of cocoa powder.

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Coffee or Tea?

Turkish coffee it is just like the Greek coffee served in an espresso cup. It is really strong and the thick goo that settles at the bottom has a real bitter muddy taste which I didn’t like. Coming from a coffee lover, this coffee is not for me.  Yet, their Apple Tea is awesome.  I love how fresh the tea tastes like a fresh apple that was magically turned into a glass of tea. With its natural sweet apple taste it is just perfect for anytime of the day and could probably be served cold as well.

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Did I enjoy the Taste of Traditional Turkish Cuisine? Oh my god, I couldn’t believe it. How did I turn into such a foodie on this blog?  Did I answer your question?  If you want it loud and clear then, HELL YEAH!

5 Coolest Things To Do in Mykonos

Things to Do in Mykonos

Greece will always be something, which is why I can’t blame Greeks for being so proud of their country, I would too if I were in their shoes.  Why not? From the most stunning beaches, resorts, history, fighters, and intellectual men, aren’t those good enough reasons to be proud of your country? Oh well, all I’m saying is if you are planning to go there and find out for yourself,  then you might need these 5 Coolest Things To Do in Mykonos post.

5 Coolest Things To Do in Mykonos

 

Mykonos Beach

Hit the beach. Yes, Mykonos have few beach spots that you can choose from to relax and sunbathe all you want during summer; Try water sports like kite surfing, jet skiing, paragliding, and the like.  The turquoise water will tease you, making me think that this should be on Top 10 Beaches in the World list.

Beautiful Mykonos Beach

 

DIY Walking Tour.  Roam around the little town of Mykonos.  The town is little but has a lot to offer, every gem you find is always worth a photo shoot (or selfie).  Stunning stone churches along with the Greeks’ signature white wash houses glow with the bright sunny skies.    Windmills are beautifully built and white washed as well, which makes Mykonos a very interesting mix of old and modern culture.  It is easy to DIY a walking tour around Mykonos town as long as you have a map in your hand to fight against the confusing alleys. It is like an amusing maze, you can’t be bothered being lost in one alley over the other because you will always find something interesting on every alley.

Mykonos Windmills

White Washed Mykonos Churches

Shop. The shops are everywhere may it be for jewelries, spices, beauty products, Greek clothing and food.  It’s also a popular tourist spot which means their prices are a little high, but for sure you will get a good deal if you are eager enough to stroll around to find your most affordable deal.  My best buy from here was the “Evil Eye” earrings, where in people from Turkey and Greece believed that it can waves off bad energies from people giving you an ‘evil look’.  I thought they were cute ‘amulet’ accessories.

Shopping in Mykonos

Wine and Dine.  Greek food is one of a kind,the chunky of meats of your kebab or shredded meat of your Gyros will just take you to the next level.  Local version of Greek food in your hometown won’t match how it tastes like here, it’s authentic.  How authentic you can get with Greek food than eating out in Greece?  Mouthwatering.

I love how most of their popular food can be down sized in a form that you can easily carry it around, whether you want to it while you are exploring or bringing it to the beach for a picnic.

Dining and Relaxing in Mykonos

Rent an ATV or a scooter.  If you are visiting through a cruise, you will not have enough time to explore the whole tinsy-winsy town but even if you have only less than a day you can at least see what’s in this town by hiring a scooter or an ATV.  I suggest you to hire ATV against the scooter if you wish to truly explore Mykonos on a motored vehicle, some roads are windy and steep that could be too dangerous with a scooter.  Perhaps, you would want to rent a mini car if you are unsure of your motorbike driving skills at the town center.  We paid a rip off price of 30€ but used it for 4 hours, but online vehicle rental companies are charging 16-20€/day for an ATV. This is highly recommended, it’s really fun and you’d enjoy the scenery.

Fun ATV Ride in Mykonos

I bet you would enjoy Mykonos, may you be a flash packer, a slow traveler, or a cruiser, I think you would enjoy this place if you could stay at least 2 days.  Beautiful and stunning, full of life and adventure.

6 Must Try Italian Food When in Italy

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Italy is famous for their cuisine. Italians creative sense of taste, flavor, and the art of cooking is renowned all over the world imitating the authentic taste of each regional specialties that flourished to feed themselves until the 18th century when they started to introduce cuisine in quantity. As a result, almost all famous Italian dishes has their own regional origins and even provincial specialties, and because you need time to really get to try every Italian dishes they have, these 6 Must Try Italian Food When in Italy should keep you busy.

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#6 PIZZA

How authentic you can get eating pizza in Italy made by Italians? You want to eat it posh or in a budget, they have it. It’s Italy, Mama mia!

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#5 PASTA

I can eat pasta all day and I’d still be happy but there is something about how Italians make their pasta sauces. Fresh homemade pasta, fresh homegrown tomatoes, basil, olive oil, and all ingredients that makes up a mouthwatering pasta dish.

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#4 OSSO BUCCO

Although, the most popular version is from Milan. It may not be Milanese style but it was great, filling though. Reminds me of the dish called ‘Bulalo’ but not soupy, instead its saucy.

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#3 PANINI

Okay, eating pizza in Italy might be too cheesy for you (even if you want more cheese, you’ll find the best ones in Italy) then an Italian sandwich with its famous name, Panini is another yummy meal. Cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, your favorites from delis are one of the best.

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#2 GELATERIA

Something for your sweet tooth? In Italy, people eat them in whatever season they are in, summer, winter, autumn, and spring but you can guess which season makes them famous. Favorite flavors? Nocciola (Hazelnut), Ciocolatto (chocolate), Menta (mint), Pistachio, and they are awesome whatever season.

#1 WINE, CHEESE, DELIS…

Six is not enough, I guess 10, 50, 100 will not be enough anyway. These is how amazing the Italian food and beverages not to mention the spices and herbs they made famous around the globe. All I can say is, Italians know how to make your palate enjoy every bite or sip.

It should be clear that Italian cuisine is one of the best that has ever existed in culinary history. Do you agree?

When Eating Not Kissing Becomes French

FRENCH CUISINE

I have few days to enjoy French Riviera, it was truly a refreshing time, felt like I was back in time when cool breeze touching my face and the more it blew stronger and cooler, the more I enjoy the chills and how it makes me blush as the temperature makes my cheeks pink. What more will make me excited stepping on to French soil, exploring not just the place but also its tongue? Well, like I said, we’re not talking about kissing here, but dining French! Food is always a big part of exploring and has become a huge part whenever I get the chance to travel somewhere that appeals both to me and my loving fiance. Why? He loves food and everything about it, a foodie with a real great taste and style. Although, I know Italian is a great cuisine, bleh, everyone does! When asked if I wanted to go French or Italian cuisine while we were in Monaco, I said, “Let’s do French!”, and French we did. Dining, I mean.

We were at the French Riviera and we will be in Italy from that time. I thought doing it local would be great and going French on a French soil will be more exciting, and so my he agreed. We booked a dinner table for four at Quai Des Artistes. After we ordered from the confusing selections in the menu (confusing because they have sooooo many great choices to choose from) we talked about almost anything we could about the beautiful set-up of the restaurant, the riviera, the flights we endured, the tour the next day, the cruise, etc. We were having a great time when our dishes came out. We all ordered wonderful meals and yet, I will only describe my comparison to my home version (Philippines) of the popular French delicacy, Escargot, and Foie Gras.

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Foie Gras

I love livers! Chicken liver, pork liver, duck liver, I just like it. I like it grilled, I like it fried, I like however you would cook it and taste good. In the Philippines, chicken liver skewers are commonly seen from the street vendors. Liver (especially chicken) is a huge part of Filipino cooking to enhance flavor, you will find ‘liver spread’ in small tin can which is our local pate version in a coarser texture in comparison to fine, smooth western and european pate and foie gras (duck liver).

Trying foie gras in different versions, you develop your preference of how you want it prepared. In my case, I like it pan seared. While in my home grown version, I like it cooked however regional style we have as long as it is cooked well done.

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Escargot

Let’s take it slow, really slooooooow… I’m talking about eating escargot in a nice restaurant at the French Riviera reminds me of my father’s special ‘Ginataang Kuhol’. That’s how I started eating snails, ginataang kuhol is snails in coconut milk or ‘green curry snails’. French escargot is not as tasty as my father’s green curry snails,

*Check out Easy Ginataang Kuhol Recipe with Ginataang Kuhol My Filipino Recipe.


FRENCH APPETIZERS

These two were our appetizers that we can’t miss since their the most popular French dishes, I had a grilled salmon and creamy spinach. Although these are not budget cuisine, it doesn’t mean that Monaco and Southern France aren’t affordable. Read on for tips on how to budget your meal expenses in Monaco and Southern France.

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FRENCH DIET ON A BUDGET

There are supermarkets that has a great varieties of great cheese, deli with amazing cold cuts, fresh fruit, and whatever you wish from their groceries. A normal restaurant offers 5 euros for a nice breakfast combo meal, a 7 euro pizza from a pizzeria, sandwiches or salad bar for 5-9 euros. If I was backpacking, I’d hit the groceries and maximize 10 euros for food a day (3 meals with snacks). Whole roasted chicken costs 5 euros, 3 for half, a serving of Paella from the supermarket is 4.5 euros.

Philippines’ Best Summer Treat – HALO-HALO

Summer Time is here and for those who are first time traveler in the Philippines, you should know the best summer treat in the country. Yes, it’s a must try!

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(Photo Credit: Daniel Go)

May 2011 when Nick, Canadian friend we met in Krabi visited us in the Philippines. Of course, not only that we toured him around the country from surfing in Aurora, celebrating Holy Week or Lent Season in Pampanga, to food trip of Filipino food. When I asked Nick about all the food we asked him to try out, what is his favorite? Although, he tasted our family’s catering food too, I have to be specific that it should not be included (because he said, he likes mom’s Chicken Cordon Bleu & Buko Pandan).

“My most unforgettable food was Halo-Halo! It’s my favorite. Then, it’s Lechon”. – Nick, Canada

Oh well, he’s lucky that I used to live near La Loma. The birthplace of Lechon. Okay, so let’s talk about his favorite. Halo-halo is not just his but locals’ and visitors as well.

What is Philippines’ Best Summer Treat – HALO-HALO?

Every Filipinos who grew up in the Philippines grew up with this too. Halo-halo is a dessert or a summer treat for everyone. The word ‘Halo-Halo’ means ‘mix’ (or literally translate to ‘mix-mix’ 😀 ), it consists of sweetened beans, fruits (bananas, jackfruit, coconut jelly, coconut, strings), tiny tapiocas, jello, ube, leche flan, ice cream, crushed ice, sugar, and evaporated milk. Some add more ingredients, however they like it.

How to Make Philippines’ Best Summer Treat – HALO-HALO

Well, to give you an idea how it looks like and how to make Halo-Halo. Here’s a video of US version of Halo-Halo (ingredients are mostly from Asian store.

Foodie’s Destination in Kuala Lumpur – Jalan Alor

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Foodie’s Destination in Kuala Lumpur – Jalan Alor

Talking about food trips? Foodies will travel places and even around the world in quest of the best local tastes, and Kuala Lumpur is not just a city, it has its tastes too.

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You are probably more curious now if you want to get the Malaysian taste, the easiest and most popular place to go is Jalan Alor. A few steps from Bukit Bintang, Jalan Alor is hard to miss.

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The road is not accessible by vehicles due to the restaurant tables and chairs set up. Restaurant after restaurants are just selling grilled exotic and Malay food, every restaurant has staff parading the road to try and pull in walk in customers to try what they have to offer.

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NOTE:

Beware of the prices that they are showing on the menu, they put additional charges that were not mentioned on the menu. Like tap water and asking for an ice will have extra charges.

FYI. According to the locals, authentic Malay restaurants can be found in Kampung Bahru accessible via Kelana Jaya Line,it is very easy to get around Kuala Lumpur. The place was is not frequented by travelers unless they have a local friend, family, or was really informed that this is the place for good authentic local tastes.

Japanese Green Tea versus Thai Tea

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As the Tea craze gets bigger and bigger in the Philippines after the rise of coffee shops and pearl shakes, it has been big in other parts of Asia way before it reached us.  However, the Green Tea that originated in China is beginning to get attention almost anywhere here in Southeast Asia.

Green Tea Flavored Everything

Wait a second, it’s really not just the Chinese green tea that they are going crazy about.  It’s the Japanese Green Tea!  Okay, so I keep noticing green desserts, that I thought was ‘Pandan’ flavored, a long aromatic leaf that Asians often use to cook rice for better aroma and flavor, which is also good.  I ignored it thinking we have it too.  Then I saw, a green tea flavored Ice Cream, I was like…hmmm…  Then, I keep seeing youngsters with green tea with milk in a cup.  Green Tea flavored cake.  Green Tea flavored soy milk.  Green Tea flavored yoghurt.  Green Tea flavored Kit-Kat choco bars. Green Tea, green tea, green tea…

Green Tea for Me!

My curious mind began telling me, why not try it?  I did, it was a great green tea from the street vendor but when I tried green tea from a decent coffee shop it was, REALLY GOOD!  It tastes like a strong tea(this is the good one) with a good fresh milk with lots of ice is a good treat specially in the hot afternoon.  I started craving for it, and even if my good coffee place is closed I could not stop craving.  That is when I tried Starbucks Green Tea, for 180THB it is the closest to the best 45THB Green Tea from my favorite coffee shop called Tam-Sam Coffee.  Starbucks’ is good, but Tam-Sam’s GREAT!

Anyway, I am not promoting Tam-Sam by  any means since they are not everywhere but in Suratthani City.  My point is, the Japanese Green Tea with milk and ice is wayyyyy better that Cha Yen or Iced Thai Tea.

5 Common Foods Travelers Eat in Southeast Asia

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(Vegetarian Noodles Soup from Ho Chi Minh City)

Traveling in Asia may be totally different from where and how your country does things, when you travel to Asia you will hear food poisoning, getting sick from street food stories from other travelers (which I think part of the adventure, but not fun).  In the cities, its easy to find western fast food chains like your big old McDonald’s, KFC, and Burger King, it’s not bad trying to be careful, but what happens when you get out of the city limits? Or what happen if you travel in Myanmar? Here are the 5 most common foods that travelers would eat in Southeast Asia!

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(Singaporean Hawker’s Chicken on Noodles or Rice)

5 Common Foods Travelers Eat in Southeast Asia

That is when the real food adventure begun.  Honestly, it isn’t bad and its actually good trying local delicacies that you may or not like, you might even like to bring home the recipes.  However, even if we are adventurous enough to try all their food, sometimes the language barrier kicks in. Yeah, I love that pork stewed in peppers when I was in Koh Samui or the tasty chicken topped with fried garlic in Chiang Mai, but I would not remember their local names and most of the time is harder to describe it in English than telling them the local name (TIP: If you liked a dish in a far flung places where English is limited, ask the local name and write it down so you can use it next time you order in a local restaurant).

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(Hanoi’s Chicken Fried Noodles)

  1. Fried Rice – There are a lot of fried rice varieties everywhere, from vegetables, pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, and mixed seafood.  The truth is, when we don’t know what do they call it, travelers retreat to the most Southeast Asian meal, fried rice.  My choice is chicken fried rice.
  2. Fried Noodles – Next on the list will be fried noodles. Similar to fried rice you can choose what mixes you want, what meat, what vegetables to put in it.  Even better, fried noodles can even be  served with gravy sometimes which makes it even better for a little change.
  3. Noodle Soup – Noodle soup is the same, something different from your fried dishes but still the similar to how it works.  Most of the time you can choose your noodles, variety of meat, and topping with it.  They put a whole lot more on their noodle soup that you might not want (E.g.: pig’s blood, chicken feet, internal organs, etc.) so keep your eye on your soup or as much as possible refer on the photo, if they have it.mushroom_fried_rice
  4. Chicken Rice – Everywhere in Southeast Asia (SEA) you will find them, often in Thailand they serve it with sticky rice, in Singapore they serve it with rice steamed with chicken stock, and almost anywhere in SEA you can buy fried chicken of whatever parts you want or roasted chicken (which normally costs more than fried) as a la carte.
  5. Dimsum & Dumplings – Easy to eat, easy tp find a Chinese influenced snack or meal.  They can be found in the streets, restaurants and even in a convenience shop.

There are other food that you can really eat and can normally see around but these are just 5 common foods travelers would eat in Southeast Asia, not only that they are easy to find, they are also cheap.  What about you, what is your most common pick?

Cooking Saving Tips On The Road

jamie_oliver_money_saving_meals(Check out the website for more videos at: http://www.jamieoliver.com/savewithjamie/)

Whenever we travel to somewhat expensive places, we always tend to try and make our belts tighter whether if its a budget challenge or just simply trying to extend the trip.  What do you normally do to cut cost in an expensive place?

  • Stay in a budget accommodation (dorm rooms, fan room, couchsurf, etc.)
  • Walk, walk, and walk
  • Eat local street food
  • Shop for bargain groceries at the convenient grocery shops
  • Cook something cheap and share it with other travelers(if your hostel lets you)

Cooking On The  Road In a Budget

Some accommodations lets you cook, providing you with a kitchenette, or a common kitchen, or maybe you have your camp/hike portable cooking stuff with you.  Whenever there’s an opportunity to cook (if you’re even interested), it’s always another way to save money.  You’re social skills (if you’ve been on the road for quite sometime, you know this works) having to hang out with more travelers in your accommodation that will chip in on this money saving mission. It’s also a great bonding moment, while trying to avoid another food poisoning.

What I want to share you is that my favorite chef Jamie Oliver has a new show called “Money Saving Meals” that helps people NOT to waste a lot of food from their fridge or simply to eat like royals even on a budget.  That doesn’t mean, people on the road can’t make anything out of it too.  So, here’s one video that can help us save money cooking on the road.  For sure, you’re host (couch surfing) would really appreciate your cooking and your new found friends would have something to look forward to.

Money Saving Meals by Jamie Oliver