I was very lucky to spend my Christmas holiday in Laos this year. We spend a couple of days in Luang Prabang, a tranquil town nestling between mountains and the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong Rivers.
Early in the morning the life in Luang Prabang, Laos, is very much centered around its vibrant and colorful market. Vendors present their products on small tables, on bamboo mats or simple sheets on the sidewalk and the streets are filled with busy Laotians who buy their fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, rice, spices and all kinds of other food – a feast for all senses.
Between the huge variety of products you can also spot quite a few unusual things like grilled rats, bugs or a bowl full of maggots. I particularly liked the variety of greens and chillies and the stalls selling small snacks such as rice cakes or pastries. Around noon, the hectic hustle and bustle of the market is over. I took some pictures to capture the spirit of this place and I hope you enjoy it.
I will tell you about two fantastic restaurants in Antwerp without actually showing you some food. The thing is, I don’t have any pictures of what we ate. I was too excited about the food I guess.
So we spent a great weekend in Antwerp, Belgium, which is only two hours by car from where we live. It was a nice short weekend trip.
It is an open secret that I have a soft spot for fries with mayonnaise so what was the first thing we did when we arrived in Belgium (the country of fries)? We stopped at a „Frituur“ to have a big portion of fries. After that we took a nap. Of course. Apart from that our trip involved excellent food on Friday and Saturday night. I found two great restaurants called Fiskebar and Le John.
On Friday we had dinner at the Fiskebar, a lively and laid back fish restaurant in the trendy south of Antwerp. It is probably the best place to have fresh fish in the city. The menu is on a chalkboard on the wall and either you speak the language or the people at the restaurant are happy to help. We had Ceviche and mackerel sashimi to start with. I had swordfish with a beetroot risotto and Philipp took catfish with mashed potatoes and fennel. It all tasted divine.
Good food and great atmosphere. The look of the restaurant is quite Scandinavian. We really liked it and would definitely come back.
Saturday night I chose Le John for dinner. A rather fancy and hidden restaurant and bar. They offer fusion cuisine with a Mediterranean focus. Minimalist interior and friendly service.
We both had pasta for dinner. Philipp had wild boar ravioli and I chose fettuccini ai funghi. We had a good red wine from Sardinia. My food choice was ok.
After dinner we went upstairs to have a drink. They have a nice lounge and bar upstairs. It was great to lounge on a sofa after dinner to have a drink. Love the concept. They have a wide variety of drinks. We can recommend this place as well.
Le John: http://restaurantlejohn.tumblr.com
I recommend making a reservation!
Before we left for Japan, I read that Kaiseki dinners are the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine – of course I was hooked!
The best place to experience this special type of dinner is to stay in a Ryokan in Kyoto. Ryokans are traditional Japanese guesthouses, where the rooms have a tatami flooring and sliding doors. We chose to stay at a charming Ryokan called Gion Hatanka – a calm and friendly place where we stayed for two nights.
So a Kaiseki dinner is a multi-course Japanese feast. You can say it is the counterpart to Western haute cuisine.
Traditionally it was a vegetarian meal served during tea ceremony. Nowadays it also includes fresh local meat and fish. The single dishes are beautifully presented and garnished and resemble shapes found in nature. The decoration of the food also plays with flowers and leaves. Both the ingredients used for the dinner as well as the tableware change according to the season.
When we travelled to Argentina in December and January, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the Argentinian wines. I knew that Mendoza was famous especially for Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. To be honest – that was actually all I knew. So I was happy to discover the wine region of Cafayate in the province of Salta, with some of the highest elevated vineyards in the world. Cafayate is famous for Torrontés, a white Argentinian grape, producing fresh, fruity and very aromatic wines. Not to be confused with the Spanish Torrontés grape. There are three types of Argentinian Torrontés. The Torrontés Riojano is the most aromatic and comes from the province of La Rioja and Salta.
Cafayate has 360 days of sunshine each year and I learned that the temperature difference between the hot days and cold nights favors a unique acidity profile of the wines. I am an amateur wine taster but I was well impressed by the refreshing taste of Torrontés. I think that the Torrontés white wines are starting to build international reputation.