Falafel Collard Greens Wrap with Tzatziki Sauce

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These tasty fried fritters are perfect to serve as an appetizer or as a protein in a sandwich or wrap. It is typically served inside pita bread with hummus. I opted for a collard greens wrap with homemade tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, and cabbage. Roasted eggplant would be a nice addition.

Falafel:

2 C dried chickpeas

1  bunch of parsley

1 chopped onion

1/4th C finely chopped cilantro

4-6 cloves of garlic

1 tsp cumin

3 tbs lemon juice

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight then drain. Do not use canned chickpeas!
  2. Mix soaked chickpeas, parsley, onion, cilantro, garlic, cumin, and lemon juice together in a food processor. Blend until thoroughly mixed, but not completely smooth.
  3. Mold the chickpea mixture into balls with two spoons and fry in avocado oil (used for high temperature cooking). Alternatively, you can use an ice cream scoop to form the balls. Fry until golden brown.
  4. Heat collard greens in oven or microwave until soft. Place falafel, chopped cabbage, tomatoes, and a dollop of tzatziki (recipe below) in the center of the greens. Roll like a burrito. Voila!

Tzatziki sauce:

2 C greek whole milk yogurt

1 finely grated cucumber

2 cloves of minced garlic

2-3 tbs of fresh dill

1 tbs olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Grate cucumber and mix ingredients together. Let chill for 1-2 hours.

 

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Eating my way through Rue Montorgueil

Discover Walks  invited me and a few other bloggers on a food tour along rue Montorgueil. Our lovely guide, Marie, gave us an authentic tour of this iconic Parisian street that is home to numerous cafes, boulangeries, patisseries, and butcheries. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday morning and all the shops were just beginning to open. Our tour concluded in a picnic with all the French staples: bread, cheese, charcuterie, and pastries…

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Marie posing with our baguette 

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Our first stop was a fromagerie called La Fermette. Marie told us that France has 370 types of cheeses so if you’re up for the challenge you can eat a different kind of cheese each day of the year. Roquefort is the oldest (and smelliest). The origin of the blue color is from the limestone in the Roquefort region. We settled with a less pungent Roquefort and a few goat cheeses.

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Next, we headed to a boulangerie Blouet to buy our baguette. Bread is sacred to the French. The French are so reliant on their baguette that there is a French law forbidding boulangeries in the same area from going on vacation at the same time. Nevertheless, I know French families who keep a frozen baguette in their freezer, just in case. There is a competition each year called the Grand Prix de la Baguette de Tradition Française for the coveted prize of best baguette of the year. In 2015, the winner was Le Grenier a Pain. Originally the baguette was bread for working men who would get into fights with their bread knives. To discourage the use of knives, the longer traditional baguette was created so it could be broken, not cut. This is why now you break your baguette. Do not make the faux pas of cutting a baguette! Fun fact: the croûton or end of the baguette is supposedly the best part. It is always a fight to get it!

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We then stopped at a butcherie to complete our charcuterie board with pâté, garlic sausage, goose rillettes, and saucisson. We went to a park by Les Halles where we enjoyed all the delicacies we bought from the day.

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#bloggers

Let’s not forget dessert. Next we strolled to Sohrer, the oldest pastry shop in Paris, where the Queen of England visited. They pride themselves on having the best chocolate éclair in Paris. We ended our tour at Fou de Patisserie, which sells all the best pastries of Paris from the most renowned chefs and shops. We sampled lemon Financiers and the Mille-Feuille, consisting of layers of puff pastry and cream. A perfect ending to the tour!

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If you would like to take part in this awesome tour, use my code BLOGLOVE10 to receive 10% off.

Chefchaouen- The Blue Pearl of Morocco

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Chefchaouen 

 

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Chefchaouen, Medina 

 

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View from Salon Bleu in Tanger

We flew into Tangier, a port city on the Straight of Gibraltar. You only need an afternoon here to walk through the Medina (old city) and petit/grand Socca. Do not fall prey to the men who will offer to lead you to your hostel or hotel, as they expect payment. The next day we took a 3 hour shuttle to Chefchaouen or Chaouen, known for it’s blue-washed buildings situated in the Rif Mountains. It is one of most unique and stunning places I have ever visited. It is rumored that Jewish refugees introduced the blue walls to symbolize the sky and the heavens. Now, people also believe that the walls are painted blue to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason, this blue city is not to be missed!

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Local paint in Chefchaouen

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On the outer edge of the Medina in Chefchaouen

Now, on to the food! Moroccan cuisine is characterized by ras-el-hanout, a typical North African spice, which is a blend of around 30 spices including cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom. You must try tagine, a signature Moroccan dish consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices and served over couscous. Afterwards, enjoy the traditional Moroccan mint tea, made by boiling water with mint leaves and adding a generous amount of sugar. Tip: ask for the sugar on the side. The dishes are also served with bread and olives. The bread is cooked in a wood-fired oven giving it a crunchy outer layer and doughy inside.

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Snack Assada

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Beldi Bab Ssour

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Fresh Moroccan Bread!

Highlights:

Medina (old town): You can spend a whole day getting lost in the maze-like medina, where we stayed. The dazzling blue walls are lined with vendors selling patterned blankets, jewelry, and pastries.

Outa el Hamma Square: Main square where most restaurants and hotels are located. There is always something going on from religious processions to people dancing on the street.

Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is located about 20 minutes (by foot) outside of the medina and offers beautiful views of the city.

Cascades d’Akchour: A beautiful waterfall hike about 45 minutes from Chefchaouen.

Where to eat:

All the restaurants have a similar menu, but here are the ones I recommend:

Beldi Bab Ssour (Chefchaouen, Medina): A local spot that gets very crowded. It is around 3-4 euros for a main dish. We sat a communal table and met a local artist who gave us recommendations on what to order. The tagine is excellent.

Restaurant Aladdin (Chefchaouen, Medina): Located in the main square and a bit more expensive. The atmosphere and décor alone are enough to eat here. The rooms are lined with with colorful tapestries and patterned cushions. You feel like you walked into another world. Plus they have two outdoor terraces with panoramic views of Chefchaouen. However, the food was mediocre. I recommend going for mint tea or appetizers to enjoy the ambiance.

Snack Assada (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another cheap local spot that offers outdoor rooftop seating.

Restaurant Al Kasbah (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another delicious restaurant off of the main square. They have colorful tables and chairs on the street that are surrounded by plants. You feel like you are eating in the jungle.

Salon Bleu (Tanger, Medina): A beautiful restaurant that has a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city. I recommend going at dusk and watching the sunset. It was our most expensive meal of the weekend, although still affordable—we paid 15 euros for an appetizer, main course, dessert, and mint tea.

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Homemade local pastries in Chefchaouen

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Al Kasbah

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Salon Bleu

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Drinking fresh juice in Chefchaouen!

2016 Adventures: San Juan, Medellín, Cusco, Lima, Dublin, Strasbourg

The best way to experience another culture is through food and since this is a food blog after all, my descriptions will be largely characterized by the country’s cuisine. No trip is complete without trying the local dishes and specialties.

Puerto Rico (May)

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Mofongo at La Estacion

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Castrillo San Felipe del Morro

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El Yunque Rainforest

San Juan/ Fajardo

I went to Puerto Rico over Memorial Day weekend with my best friend from university. It was our last hoorah before she started law school (Harvard!) While we had blast and the island is very beautiful, I would prioritize visiting other Caribbean islands before Puerto Rico. It was not cheap as meals were ~ $10-15 and each day excursion was over $100. Although it was convenient to use our American dollars and cell phones, since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, it made the experience feel less exotic and adventurous. Also the suffering economy was evident—the huge resorts and hotels were deserted. I’m sure the Zika scare did not help tourism either. Despite this, we had a great time eating mofongo and drinking pina coladas!

To Do

Old San Juan: Historic sites, cobblestone streets, cute shops and cafes

La Placita: Most lively neighborhood with restaurants and bars. This is where locals go out. During the weekends it turns into a huge street party.

Castillo San Felipe del Morro: A historic fort designed to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay. Beautiful views of the city.

El Yunque Rainforest tour ($130): Our tour included transportation from a nearby hotel, lunch at an authentic Puerto Rican restaurant, tour of the rain forest (a short 1 mile hike to Mima Falls), and a kayak tour of a bioluminescent bay (micro-organisms that light up when you touch the water). I recommend renting a car as it will save you time and money.

Culebra Island tour (~$100): We took a large shuttle to Fajardo, about an hour away, where we boarded a cruise boat that took us out to nearby islands. We had plenty of time to snorkel, eat, and drink. They provided unlimited food and piña coladas—although the food was only cold cut meat and bread. Once people had a couple piña coladas in their system they started to dance and dare each other to jump off the boat into the water. We had a good time. Watch our GoPro video here.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Mofongo: Fried plantain in a form of a bowl topped with meat, veggies, and sauce.

Restaurants

  • La Estacion: Authentic Puerto Rican restaurant where we had lunch on our El Yunque Rainforest tour. Best Mofongo of the trip. Highlight of the tour!
  • El Jibarito: Casual local spot in old San Juan
  • Bombonera: Popular café in San Juan known for their baked goods
  • Barrachina: Best pina coladas
  • Boronia: on La Placita, live music, a little fancier and touristy than we hoped but the food was good
  • Choco Cortes: delicious chocolate and hot chocolate
  • Bogos: local spot with decent Mofongo

South America (August)

Colombia

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Bandeja Paisa

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Guatapé

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El Peñol

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Sorrento

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Crepes in Gautapé

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La Minorista (fried fish, coconut rice, salad, and plantains

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Verdeo Café

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Pueblito Paisa

Medellín

To Do

  • Parque Lleras: Most hotels/hostels are located around here. It is a touristy area with shops, restaurants, and bars.
  • Plaza Botero/ Parque Berrio: The Plaza is filled with Botero’s sculptures by the Parque Berrio metro station. Parque Berrio is across from the plaza and is filled with juice vendors and street performers.
  • Jardín Botánico: Botanical gardens. Pleasant to walk through if you have time but not a highlight of the trip.
  • Pueblito Paisa: Beautiful views of the city. Highly recommend!
  • Coffee tour: Best are in Sorrento. You can book coffee tours through the hostel. We went to San Cayetano in Fredonia.
  • Paragliding: We booked our ticket and cab through the hostel. You take a taxi 30 min outside of the city—find other people to split the cab with you. I recommend going early and on a nice day.
  • Guatapé/El Peñol: If you do one thing, go to Guatape! Breathtaking views. You can either go on your own (what we did) or book a tour. There are also combined tours that take you to Pablo Escobar’s house, where you go paint-balling. If you go on your own it’s a two-hour bus ride (give or take 30 minutes). El Peñol or the rock is the first stop then you take a tuk-tuk to the town Guatapé or you can walk (about 40 min). The town is filled with adorable colorful buildings and shops. I recommend staying there for 2 or 3 hours and getting lunch. We had homemade vegetable crepes made by a French woman who was traveling for a year and working at the café for the week. One of my favorite meals—see the photo above. If you want to go to Guatapé on your own I can send you specific and detailed instructions, as it can be confusing.
  • Parque Arvi: Cable cars to the a beautiful nature preserve. The cable cars give you great views of the city. Get lunch and go on a hike. We spent a whole day at Parque Arvi.
  • El Castillo Museo y Jardines: Gothic-style castle with beautiful gardens. You can take your lunch and picnic

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Bandeja paisa: a signature dish from the region that includes spicy ground meat, pork cracklings, a fried egg, fried plantains, refried beans, avocado, rice, and a small side salad
  • Las chachas: corn pastry/bread with cheese on top, find it at street vendors
  • Spiralized green mango: served with salt and lime, ate this almost every day from street vendors
  • Pandebono: cheesy bread
  • Plantains with cheese
  • Arepas: served with almost every meal, their version of bread, made from corn
  • Ajiaco: traditional soup
  • Empanadas
  • Patacónes: fried plantain chips with guacamole
  • Aguardiente: typical Colombian alcohol made from anise. We were told to drink it with a slice of orange or lemon.

Restaurants

  • Hato Viejo: nicer traditional Colombian food, order the bandeja paisa
  • Hacinda: Typical Colombian food in downtown, the tour guide recommended it
  • Verdeo: Health/organic café by our hostel in Poblado with cute eclectic decorations. Each table had a different toy animal figurine on it. Looks like a café you’d find in Oakland. They serve a special everyday for 15 pesos (around $5) that includes salad, soup, a fresh juice, entrée, and dessert.
  • Centeno: By our hostel in Poblado, across from exito. This place is a hidden gem—we walked up stairs to a balcony where the chef and his wife were enjoying a glass of wine. When we arrived they jumped up and started our dinner. We were the only ones there and felt like we had a personal chef waiting on us. It was 16 pesos for juice, soup, salad, entrée, and tea. The restaurant had picnic-esque tables with flowers in mason jars. Very cute.
  • Fairytale restaurant by park in Poblado. I can’t remember the name but you sit on the ground or on wood stools. There are lights streamed through the trees and you feel like you’re in a fairy’s forest.

Peru

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Ollantaytambo

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Parque Central, Lima

Cusco/ Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu town)

To Do

  • Machu Picchu: If you’re going to Machu Picchu I can send you detailed directions on getting there from Cusco.
  • San Blas: Charming area of Cusco with cobblestone streets and cute cafes.
  • Saksaywaman (pronounced like sexy woman): Incan ruins outside on the outskirts of Cusco.
  • Real City Walking Tour: There are a few tours everyday. My friend was not feeling well so I went on the tour on my own and was the only one who showed up. It happened to be the guide’s last day in Cusco— he was from Portland and traveling South America for a year. He gave me his own personal tour which included eating chocolate cake at his favorite bakery, playing drums at the neighborhood music store, and meeting locals at the market who greeted him with a hug and free juice.
  • Plaza de Armas: Main square in Cusco with lots of restaurants and bars.
  • Mercado de San Pedro: Local food market with juice vendors and cheap food.
  • Maras salt mines: We did not have time to go but you can take a day tour there on an ATV or take the bus.
  • Rainbow mountain: Beautiful day hike. We didn’t go but everyone highly recommends it.

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Lomo Saltado: A dish that consists with thin strips of beef, sautéed onions, rice, fries, and vegetables.
  • Pisco Sour: A typical drink from the region made from Pisco, lemon juice, and topped with egg white.

Restaurants

  • Green Point: Vegan restaurant in San Blas. They have a daily 3-course special that is ~$5. Everything is delicious. We were only in Cusco for three days and went there twice.
  • Chica: Traditional Peruvian food that is a pricier than other restaurants in the area, but it is worth splurging for the night. Absolutely delicious! They are known for their chocolate balloon dessert.

Lima (only need a day/night)

To Do

  • Miraflores: touristy area with good restaurants and bars
  • Barranco: next to Miraflores. We walked from our hostel in Miraflores and it took around 40 minutes. If you’re in the area then go to the Puente de los Suspiros or Bridge of Sighs – not very exciting but there is a nice view of the city.
  • Parque de la Reserve: impressive water show every night
  • Parque Central: Park in Miraflores with lots of cats wondering around, pretty funny to see

To Eat

Local dishes

  • Ceviche!
  • Papas a la huanciana: Peruvian potatoes covered with spicy cheese
  • Pollo a la Brasa: grilled chicken
  • Causa: Layered potato dish with a variety of meat and vegetable fillings. Very popular!

Restaurants

  • St. Roos: hole in the wall in Barranco
  • La Estancia: café/pastry shop in Miraflores
  • Madam Tusán: Chinese/Peruvian food (a popular combination in Lima)
  • La Lucha: causal sandwiches in Miraflores
  • Neuvo Mondo: artisanal beers in Miraflores
  • Raw Café Club: vegan restaurant in Miraflores
  • Punto Azul: seafood restaurant in Miraflores

Dublin (November)

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To Do

  • Guinness Factory tour
  • Walking tour (daily)
  • Trinity College
  • Temple Bar and Street: The bar itself is expensive and touristy but it is worth stepping in to enjoy the decorations and atmosphere.
  • Cliffs of Moher and Galway tour: I booked with Wild Rover. The tour departs at 7am and returns at 7pm. If you’re only in Ireland for the weekend it is a great way to see the extremely green and beautiful countryside. There are endless cows and châteaux. Beware they are strict about departure times. Don’t make the mistake I made and arrive a couple minutes late. Yes I was left at the Cliffs of Moher alone. The bus came back for me but they were not happy. Needless to say I did not make any friends on that tour—but seriously did the girl next to me not notice I was missing?!

To Eat

  • Pichet: Traditional Irish lunch
  • Vintage Kitchen: Irish lunch and dinner spot
  • Bobos Burgers: Ireland has delicious beef and butter because their (very happy) cows graze in the hundreds of acres of grass.
  • Kehoes Burgers
  • International food market: off of Temple Bar street
  • Yamamori: Great sushi and good lunch specials
  • Krust: Cronuts
  • Grogens: Best Guinness

Strasbourg (December)

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I went to Strasbourg, a small French city on the German border, with two friends for a night for the Marché de Noël. It is a university town so there are lots of students around. Although we went during Christmas time so it was very touristy. I’ve heard it’s beautiful to visit during spring and summer. It is a quant little town—you can walk the perimeter in about an hour. Highlights were the cathedral and the canals.

To Eat

Local Dishes

  • Tarte flambée
  • Choucroute
  • Kougelhopf
  • Bretzel
  • Vin Chaud
  • Grimbergen beer- I enjoyed the grimbergen ambrée

Restaurants

  • Pfifferbriader: Traditional food from the region, in the main square and a bit touristy
  • Meiselocker: Traditional food, off from the main square and cheaper
  • Chez Yvonne: We didn’t actually go here because it was already at capacity for the night. I have heard it is excellent.
  • Au Pont Saint-Martin: Delicious Choucroute. We ordered the Choucroute Royale, which was €20 each. We made the mistake thinking it was €20 total so we received enough food to feed five 6’3″ men.

Zesty Coconut Cauliflower Chickpea Salad

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1 head cauliflower (chopped into bite size pieces)

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas

1 cucumber

1 tomato

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons coconut milk

juice of 2 limes

salt and pepper to taste

pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cauliflower and chickpeas on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Cook for ~40 minutes, until the chickpeas and cauliflower have become brown on the edges and crispy.
  2. While the cauliflower and chickpeas are cooking, make the dressing by combining olive oil, Dijon mustard, rice vinegar, coconut milk, and lime juice together.
  3. Cut the tomato and cucumber into small pieces and set aside.
  4. Once the cauliflower and chickpeas have cooled combine with the tomato and cucumber. Then toss with the dressing. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes on top.

Indispensable Pesto

This is a modified recipe from The Garlic Lover’s Cookbook. Warning: this pesto will leave a strong garlic taste in your mouth. Use less garlic if you plan on smooching anyone later in the night. For a healthy alternative try it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles.

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1 cup grated fresh Parmesan

2 cups fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup melted butter (or dairy-free, non-hydrogenated Earth Balance)

10-20 cloves fresh garlic (I use the whole bulb)

1 tbs pine nuts (I throw in a handful, because I love them)

3/4 olive oil

salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Using a blender or food processor, grate enough Parmesan cheese to make one cup; add basil.
  2. Then add melted butter, followed by garlic, pine nuts and finally the oil.
  3. Allow each added ingredient to blend smoothly with the preceding ones, and let stand at least one hour.
  4. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  5. Mix pesto with pasta fresh from the boiling water. Do not add too much pesto, but allow each person a chance to adjust flavor to taste, by adding more pesto if desired.
  6. Leftover pesto will last for a quite a long while if refrigerated in a plastic container, but do not freeze.

Savory Veggie Oatmeal

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I discovered this amazing concoction by combining all the ingredients left in my fridge at the end of the week. I added sweet potato, spinach, corn, and cauliflower rice but this recipe can be made with any veggies. It is simple and satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oats

1 cup chicken broth

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon olive oil or butter

1 egg

1/4th cup sweet potato (baked)

1/4th cup spinach

1/4th cup corn (steamed)

1/4th cup cauliflower rice (frozen)

Parmesan cheese (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Bring the broth to a boil then reduce to a simmer and stir in oats.
  2. Cook for about 10 minutes until the oats begin to absorb the broth. Stir in more chicken broth as needed.
  3. Once the oats start to thicken add the rest of the ingredients. I baked the sweet potato the night before and I steamed corn on the cob. I used frozen cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s. On a side note, cauliflower rice is a great alternative to rice or pasta. TJ’s sells it frozen or raw. If you cook it with brown rice, broth, and parmesan cheese it resembles risotto. Recipe to come!
  4. Place an egg on top and serve!