When in Europe, eat everything! Part III: London

I always wanted to visit London…

I went to an international camp where a lot of my counselors were from the United Kingdom and their accents swooned me.  I said to myself, “I am definitely going to visit one day.” Our final stop on our Eurotrip was London.  We stayed in Shoreditch, which is the Williamsburg of London; it was very artsy and hip and everyone had tattoos and dressed for themselves, not to impress others.  That’s what I loved about my time there.  Unfortunately, we had a bad experience with an AirBnB and needed to find different accommodations –> ACE Hotel in Shoreditch, THANK YOU! This hotel was super cool, had a chill vibe, and was still located in the heart of such a modernized area.  Now onto the food:  it was cool.  I mean listen, London isn’t known for food like Italy is, but we went on a serious food tour and had some of the best bites in London, ended up at a great pub for the BEST burger and shepherd’s pie, AND visited three food halls/ food markets. So yeah, we ate well 🙂

*Disclaimer:  There’s a lot of pictures of food below, please use caution, you will become ravenously hungry.


London

  • Eating London Food Tour: Alright, if you ever visit London, you really need to look this up.  The idea of this tour is to walk around the area (it was an East End food tour so basically the Bangladesh area and Shoreditch where we stayed).  We started at the Old Spitalfields Market (which was a hospital ground for the war…hence ‘spital).  Our guide Emily was AMAZE. She knew so much and had such a dry sense of humor (and we bonded over custard).
    • First stop: St. John’s –> bacon sandwich (my fav)
    • Second stop: The English Breakfast pub (one of the oldest in the area) for bread and butter pudding
    • Third stop: a charcuterie (I wasn’t a fan, so no pics).
    • Fourth stop: Poppie’s Fish and Chips
    • Fifth stop: the first pub in Shoreditch for some beer and cider
    • Sixth stop: Aladin for some traditional bangladeshi curry
    • Seventh stop: Beigel Bake (salt beef on a bagel with mustard and a gherkin)
    • Eighth and last stop: PizzaEast for salted caramel tart with chocolate ganache and tea

       

  • Dishoom:  Funny enough, my sister in law and her fiancé were in London the same time my hubs and I were so we decided to go to dinner together.  We tried Dishoom: a very popular Bombay style Indian food (London is particularly known for Indian foods and spices).  We weren’t really sure what to expect, but we had easily our favorite meal here.  We ordered at least 12 dishes (split before four of us which was plenty) including two different curries, samosas, three different breads, rice, daal, tikka masala, and more.  It was incredible! Also, their plates are baked with different quotes and phrases of former visitors to keep the feel of the Bombay cafe’s alive <3 IMG_3429
  • Camden Market: I heard about this from my sister and from Buzzfeed; when I realized there was a cheese bar the decision was made: we were going here.  We had finally understood how to use the underground and made our way there after Covent Gardens (sans anything fancy). We went to the Cheese Bar which is tucked away toward the back and to the right, known for its wall of different cheeses and grilled cheese.  Obviously, I had the grilled cheese — Troy had the mac and cheese, and we split the mozzarella sticks.  Also, their rosemary lemonade gave me life.  This is a must visit.
  • Crosstown Doughnuts: To be real, I’m not much of a doughnut person, but these babies looked bangin’.  I mean, they’re sourdough doughnuts and anyone that knows me understands how much I LOVE sourdough bread. They’re made fresh daily, and there are a few locations in London.  We visited the one in Shoreditch on our last day in Europe. Troy had the banana cream and he described it as “You can taste the banana is real banana” and I had the cinnamon scroll (like a traditional cinnamon roll) which was to die for.IMG_3580
  • Borough Market: We stumbled here after touring the Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and all things you’re supposed to do as a tourist (Buckingham Palace, included).  This is very similar to Smorgasburg in brooklyn and we were not disappointed.  Lots of different choices here, we landed on a bratwurst with kraut and mustard/mayo combo, and chicken-rice Ethiopian food.  Must go!  It’s right down the block from the London Bridge. so it’s worth finding.
  • Windmill Mayfair: After having not such a good experience with Italian food the night prior, I told Troy he was in charge of finding food for our last night in London.  He did NOT disappoint.  We had to go near Piccadilly Circus, which was fine because it was fun to travel back that direction at night.  We walked for some while until we reached this swanky looking street with this swanky looking bar.  We sat ourselves down and ordered drinks: a cider for moi, a beer for hubs.  We ordered: Dorset Lamb shepherd’s pie, a burger, and a side of creamed spinach (I was DYING for some greens).  The food here was ridiculous.  Hands down the best burger I’ve ever consumed, as well as the spinach (i’ll be attempting to recreate this soon).  Troy said the shepherd’s pie was unreal as well.  Job well done, babe.

     

PHEW, that was a lot of food pictures and reliving the amazing things we ate on vacation!  I hope these Europe posts inspire you to travel, to enjoy food with great company, and to smile the entire time.

When in Europe, eat everything! Part II: Amsterdam

Proust!

That’s how you say “cheers” in Dutch, as Ian our incredible tour guide told us while we had seven (yes, SEVEN) beers at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam last week.

I would be remiss if I did not vouch for how beautiful and charming of a city Amsterdam is.  Of course there’s the taboo “coffeeshops” and the Red Light District, but if I’m honest, the food was really spot on and I loved everything we ate during our time in ‘Dam.

*P.S.: I had fries every day in Amsterdam. No shame.*


Amsterdam

  • Loetje Restaurant: This spot was literally right outside of Amsterdam Centraal station and of course we got lost finding it.  We were so hungry!!  After finally stumbling in (and passing it twice…) we sat at the bar: Troy ordered his Heineken and I ordered my champs (shocker, I know).  We sat and ordered the infamous Bitterballen (fried balls of some sort of bechamel sauce with beef in them), Kaasstengels (fried cheese sticks), and burgers with frites in a MAYO. DIPPING. SAUCE. Let me repeat for those in the back…MAYO DIPPING SAUCE.
  • De Foodhallen:  This is incredibly similar to Dekalb Market Hall or Smorgasburg (only indoors).  So many local and delicious vendors rent space to showcase their foods in the south of Amsterdam.  We figured why not, we love food and love walking so let’s combine the two and venture about an hour from the Anne Frank House to eat some food… YASSS. *pictured in order: Shanghai dumplings, pulled pork sandwich on sourdough with slaw, “Fresh and Funky Dog” with tzatziki sauce and relish, chicken kebab pita with the fixings.
  •  Mook Pancakes: We were in need of some sweet and blog-worthy pancakes (or waffles) and research brought us here.  We LOVED our pancakes.  Three large stacks of buttermilk pancakes with banana/chocolate/PB and the other (mine) with grated coconut/banana/strawberries/blueberries. I had to be like the cool kids and get a fresh pressed ginger shot (which nearly killed me) and a cappuccino. So yum!
  • Heineken Experience: Now, this did not involve food but it was one of the highlights of our Eurotrip.  We opted for the VIP tour (#ballin) and got a private tasting in a private bar.  It was unreal.  We learned the history of the beer, the production, how secretive their “A” yeast is, and that really fresh, cold Heineken actually tastes good.  Planning a trip to Amsterdam? You must go here.

     

    Stay tuned for Eurotrip Part III: London…where our AirBnB was a hot mess and we ate at three (yep, three) different food markets!

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana

What comes to mind when you think of chicken parmigiana?  The crispy, buttery, breading-coated chicken cutlet, adorned with drool-inspiring fresh mozzarella cheese topped with marinara sauce and draped in basil.  *wipes drool from face*.

This version is a modernized and healthier twist on the classic Chick Parm. It doesn’t have breadcrumbs, it does use loads of butter and avocado oil, and fresh made “summer sauce” like my mom used to make.  It starts with the tomatoes.  I always choose fresh, organic Roma tomatoes to stew down in some oil and garlic, to bring the aromas to life.  They stew for at least an hour to allow for the skins to break away from the meat of the tomato.  I like to add in some chopped basil towards the end of the simmering tomatoes as it adds beautiful aromas and color, as well as basil tastes great so why not?  After a solid 40 minutes of the tomatoes simmering, the skins should be pretty much pulled back and will look like a “sauce” – this is what you want!  This will layer on top of the chicken and mozzarella too.

What I love about using cassava flour is that it is ground yucca root and while it is a bit carb-y, it’s still paleo friendly and digests quicker than other flours and obviously better than using breadcrumbs.  I will always love a good cutlet, but cassava flour really makes the chicken ultra juicy and tender.  My preferred brand of cassava is Otto’s Cassava Flour: I just find it to be super milled and light, it has a very mild taste as well and I like to put the flour in a large mason jar with some dried oregano, rosemary, and parsley to add the “italiano” flavorings (Thank you to my incredible friend and mentor Andrea aka The Enlightened Culinist for showing me how this is done.

*sidenote, if you really want to be uber inspired I recommend going over to her instagram account @theenlightenedculinist for incredible food and her journey*

Battering the chicken with this flour could not be easier as you just filet the breasts (I tend to use Bell and Evan’s organic chicken breasts and filet them to make two from one) and then place them in the flour on a plate.  Let them absorb the flour as much as possible and let them sit for a few minutes.  I usually cut the mozzarella at this time so that once the chicken is done cooking, I can layer the cheese on top and allow it to slowly melt on the chicken, hence the “parmigiana” of the dish.

After the chicken is done, assemble the parm!  First, lay the mozz down, then ladle a generous amount of the summer sauce on top of the chicken.  You can pair this with sautéed zucchini (as pictured) roasted broccoli, cauliflower, pasta even!  I love this dish as it’s so versatile and is done rather quickly.  I’m ready for dinner now…bon appetit!

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana

Cassava Flour Chicken Parmigiana
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 3

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 c cassava flour I like Otto's Cassava Flour --> found on Amazon
  • 1 ball of fresh Mozzarella cheese - sliced
  • 3 tbsp butter more if needed for frying
  • 6-8 organic Roma tomatoes - sliced in four
  • 4 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic - sliced
  • Basil - handful
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour oil of choice into a deep frying pan. Turn heat onto medium to let oil heat up. Slice tomatoes into four (oblong shape) and place tomatoes in the pan. Stir tomatoes around until they're nice and coated with oil. Cover and let sit on a medium low flame for 20 minutes. Peel and slice up three cloves of garlic and add the garlic after the tomatoes stew for 20 minutes. Chop and add the basil.
  2. Rinse and filet the chicken breasts so that they are thin. Trim the fat off the breasts. Season the chicken with a generous amount of salt and pepper (I use pink himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper). Pour the cassava flour onto a plate and gently place the chicken breasts one by one into the flour. Turn the chicken over and repeat to other side. Place on separate plate or at one side of the flour plate. Let sit.
  3. Stir and "smash" the tomatoes so they become soft and more like a sauce, the skins should be off the tomatoes at this time. Let sit for another 20minutes and stir occasionally to ensure it does not burn. Add salt if desired.
  4. In a medium fry pan, add the butter and melt over a medium heat. Add two pieces of chicken at a time, 7-8 minutes on each side (you want the chicken to really resemble 'breadcrumbs' so the chicken being a little dark is totally fine.). Repeat for the remaining chicken and place on a dish. Add the sliced mozzarella (one slice per chicken) so it begins to soften.
  5. Ladle the tomato sauce on top of the chicken and serve with your favorite veggie or pasta. Add a little extra basil for garnish if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

I tend to eyeball with measurements so if you need more oil, add more. If you need more butter for frying the chicken, do it.

When in Europe, eat everything! Part I: Paris

The title says it all.  When you are visiting Europe, you are encouraged, no, DEMANDED, to eat everything and take many, many food pictures.

My husband and I went to Italy three years ago for our honeymoon, and we fell in love with the way food made us feel as we shared pizza, pasta, cheese, and so much wine together.  We documented everything in pictures and wrote down each meal we ate.  We decided that every three years we will go back to Europe and do a eurotrip.. this time, we toured France, The Netherlands, and England.


Paris

Tres Magnifique!  I loved this beautifully charming city and all it had to offer with the Eiffel tower, the museums, the shopping, (hello beautiful new neverfull LV bag…), and obviously, the cuisine.  While a lot of the restaurants I had initially researched were closed, we did end up at some pretty awesome spots:

    • Les Deux Magots –> really amazing French fare and quite popular in Paris.  We had breakfast here. (unfortunately, my pictures were of the menu… ( I had the Hemmingway dejeuner)IMG_3117
    • Le Consulat: this restaurant was smack in the middle of Montmartre (super quaint and very historic area in the 9th arrondissement).  This may have been a “tourist trap” but honestly the food was to die for.  We started with french onion soup, followed by this delectable tarragon turkey dish with basmati rice, and Croque Monsieur (ham and cheese) with pomme frites.
  • La Cave Gourmande: This was the ultimate Parisienne restaurant.  Two waiters for the whole restaurant, up a hill in Montmartre, with tables on a major slant (I felt like I was going to roll down the hill…food pun #noshame).  We started with the most savory bone marrow and toast, followed by duck breast and beef bourguignon. I die with how amazing this food was: it was beyond authentic, home made, and tasteful.
  • Osteria Ruggera: Now, this was an italian restaurant, and granted we were in France, but after being told to go to a great French spot and it was closed (because that was our luck), we said screw it let’s just find a place that no one is speaking English. Et Voila!  We found Osteria Ruggera. The aromas from this place brought us back to Firenze, and the food was no exception. (sans pics because we were starving, we started with melanzane di parmigiana, then had linguine con vongole and linguine with carciofo (artichoke))IMG_3149

Stay tuned for Part Deux: AMSTERDAM (and no, it’s not pictures of coffeeshops and spacecakes)

It all starts with a bite..

I freaking love food.  No seriously, when people say “I’m such a foodie,” I really REALLY mean it.  I love everything about it: the smell, the texture, the flavor, the people I break bread with.. all the things #food.

This blog – this site rather – is meant to explore a variety of cuisines that sit near and dear to my heart, while offering recipes and tricks to make healthy food taste just as good as the unhealthy alternatives.  Of course, I love a good cheeseburger and fries (like I had today at the Mets game… LGM!), but how do we enjoy passion for food while ensuring our bodies are getting the fullest benefit of the food’s nutrients? Alas, that is what I venture to do.

I want to take you on a journey with food: to explore the senses with to-the-nail details about how dishes are made, the love and care that goes into each meal, and how to swap out ingredients with healthier ones to maintain true to our intentions: loving food and staying nutritious.  I promise, after trying the recipes I post here (and the not-so-tasty failures, but let’s face it, we need to fail in order to succeed), you’ll fall in love with food all over again.

It only takes one bite 🙂

M

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