Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Back to reality

So I am back from my trip to Europe! Sad to have left, but happy to be back at home where I do not have to live out of a suitcase! Although this trip was about visiting all the places we had heard so much about, let's face it, it was also about the food! This trip was also about celebrating. Celebrating our one year wedding anniversary as well as both of our 30th birthdays!
We had a list of things that we wanted to try, a very long list which we completed (yay!) and we also got to try a few more things along the way. Since we were on a cruise for the first 12 days, we ate like kings, sampling as much as we could. We would grab a small breakfast in the morning, eat local food for lunch and order a gourmet meal every night. When people ask me what was my favourite part of the trip, I immediately think about food (which is sad given the fact that we did visit the Vatican, the Louvres, climbed the Matterhorn and observed Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower...) But I can't help it, food is my passion.

On the cruise we made sure to try all the restaurants on board. The Asian fusion one was our personal favourite, but the steak house had the best desserts! I had a wonderful raspberry cheesecake there, but the best dessert was by far their vanilla soufflĂ©!!! We were both stuffed after eating an enormous meal (ceasar salad, French onion soup, seafood platter, filet mignon surf and turf, and 3 desserts...) but we could not stop eating it! Sadly the recipe was not available in any of their cookbook, but you can be sure that I will still try to replicate it!

Here are some pictures from the Pinnacle grill, the steakhouse on board:
The French onion soup.... I swear there must have been a pound of cheese in there!!
The seafood appetizer platter. My husband really enjoyed that one!
Here is our favourite of the night, the vanilla souffle! If you ever cruise with Holland America, make sure you try that one, it's a must!!
Here are some shots from the Tamarind Asian fusion restaurant:
The dips for the shrimp bread. Really tasty
The thai beef salad. Such a nice mix of flavours, I would order that one again in a heartbeat!
The potstickers
The kebbab sampler! There was lamb, beef, chicken, pork and shrimp in there. So good!
There was duck on the menu so I had to try it! Great choice!
My husband had the steak with the wasabi crust. The wasabi definitely gave it a kick
Now that's what I call a fortune cookie!!! Filled with chocolate ganache too!
Mango cloud and mango sorbet
Food on the ship in general was pretty great. We sampled cold fruit soups, lamb, seafood, lots of great salads and steaks.
Peach soup, one of my favourite
Lamb kebbab
Alaskan King crab legs. Let's just say that my husband was excited about that one!
A nice filet mignon
Raspberry mousse
Strawberry gelatto at the Canaletto restaurant 
We were also fortunate enough to have both a culinary art centre as well as a guest chef on the ship. Chef Chris Cosentino share with us a few Italian recipes as well as several cooking tips and we even got to sample the food. Some of the ship's chefs also shared their signature dish with us so we are now able to replicate some of our favourites. On top of that we were invited to 2 wine tastings, where we tried various champagnes, white and red wines that we learned how to paired with various food. Needless to say that we had a great time at those!
In Barcelona we had a great big sangria on a terrase overlooking a busy street. In Greece, we sampled the traditional Greek salad, grilled feta, gyros pita, souvlaki, olives and of course baklavas (best I ever had!). In Italy, we had lots of pasta but also tiramisu, cannolis, lobster tail, pizza, calzone and gelatos. In Switzerland we had the cheese fondue, the raclette, chocolate fondue, lots of chocolates and a berliner (that was so good!!).
Chocolate fondue in Luzern, Switzerland
Lunch at the Magna Gracia farm in Greece
Our sampler plate at the Magna Gracia farm
Greek salad
Grilled feta in Greece
Baklava in Corfu, Greece
Chicken and fries and the cold cut and cheese platter (and some wine of course) at a nice little cafe near the Pantheon in Paris
Tomato tartare with Mozzarella and pistou at Bofinger, Paris's first brasserie (1864)
But France was still my favourite! The best meal of our trip was in Bordeaux hands down!! Foie gras, warm goat cheese on bread, duck confit, creme brulee and crepe with wine, all under 50 euros... unbelievable. Here are the pictures from that meal at L'Ombriere in Bordeaux.
Baked goat cheese on bread
Foie gras plate

Duck confit and fries
Creme brulee!
No European meal would be complete without a nice cup of coffee
While we were in France we also tried croissant, chausson aux pommes, pain au chocolat, cannelés, macarons, steak and fries, croque monsieur to name a few.

We were also lucky enough to tour 2 chateaux in the Bordeaux region and to try their wines and while in Reims to tour 2 champagne house (Mumm and Pommery).
Luckily (maybe more like miraculously) for me, with all the walking we did (and the stair climbing...) I managed not to put any weight on (maybe I was made to live in Europe or at least that's what I told my husband when I tried to get him to move there... let's just say that did not work)! So I guess I'll have to integrate some of these dishes as part of my regular diet!

Now that my husband and I are back it's time for me to get serious! There is so much to be done before the end of the harvest season!!! Canning peaches and tomatoes, make pesto, relish, green tomato ketchup, peach chutney, bake pies (tons of them!), make tomato sauce... oh I'm gonna be one busy bee, but the results will be worth the work!!! Hopefully I will be able to document all these wonderful recipes so that you too can try them at home!

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