Visiting 20 Countries in 4 Months
Sounds like a Contiki tour LOL but NO – even tied to the house for 2020-2021, we WENT PLACES!!
Who says you can’t GO anywhere during a hard year or a quarantine?! With memories in hand of previously traveled places – and dreams of places I still hope to go – our family has taken some turns traveling the globe through our dinners the past few months through cooking at home, supplemented with a little bit of take-out and one or two dinners with friends.
Food is an incredible way to experience another place and culture, through dishes still to be experienced (like THESE on a recent trip to Bogotá), ingredients previously unknown, spices yet to be loved, or tools and techniques you never knew you needed.
Ready for our Family world-tour of 20 Countries in 4 Months?!
Both of my daughters have traveled to Japan, and it’s definitely on my ‘bucket’ list for one day. And to think I once absolutely refused to even try Japanese food (more on that to come in ‘a story of belonging‘)! While we have done evenings of homemade Sushi / Japanese food in the past before, it’s been … awhile. Over a decade?! With closed Universities, our younger daughter was quarantining at home for a few weeks, and this was her pick – Homemade Sushi Feast for dinner.
We are blessed with about 6 different Sushi/Japanese restaurants on every.single.block here in Vancouver, all fresh, all amazing. It almost doesn’t make sense to make it yourself, but for the adventure? Why not! Besides, the sushi-grade fish groceries had re-opened, so it was perfect timing.
It’s a lot more work than I remembered, which I guess is why we hadn’t done it in … awhile … and it all took 3 of us about 5 hours to get everything cooked, prepped, sliced, chilled, etc., but it was well worth it. From previous themed dinners, we have a collection of Japanese style dishware from the $2 stores that was dusted off and were just perfect for the effort and the occasion.
India / London
Can I count this as TWO places?! While our eldest daughter – who leans Pescatarian – was living in London for a year or two, she fell in love with Indian food. And honestly it was about the only food worth eating when we all went to visit her… So while it’s Indian food and none of us has been to India, it does bring about memories for all of us of London.
She had ordered a book from her fave restaurant there, Dishoom, and the two of us cooked about 5 dishes from it – over the span of at least 8-10 hours. It was all worth it, until dessert… I failed – twice – at trying to re-create a probably-simple dessert in the book. So horribly, in fact, that the next day everyone took them out into the yard to hit with golf clubs, and even then they barely cracked… Fortunately everything else turned out perfectly. Whew!
For a bit of “true” Britain, I also tried the Queen’s 94th Birthday Cupcakes, but they, too, failed. Not entirely, I suppose, as everyone still ate them, but still not fit for any Queen of any kind. Clearly BAKING DESSERTS is still not my thing.
And then there was my Nana’s British Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding dinner, which I have loved for decades and continue to make now for my own family. At least that’s always a win!
Fresh pasta, fresh pasta, fresh pasta! Artichokes of all kinds – which my mind always associates with Italy. Focaccia breads, homemade Mozzerella, Burrata and Olive Oils on Heirloom Tomatoes, Bruschettas, Tapanades, Sugo sauces, Farro Risotto w Morel Mushrooms… Carbonara, Poached Egg Ravioli, Stained Glass Papardelle, Beet Puree Tagliatelle, Lasagnes, Gnocchis, Raviolis – all homemade, of course …
Yeah, there’s been a LOT of Italian Food.
We DOUBLED UP on Spain. For Mother’s Day we had a huge take-out feast from one of our fave Spanish restaurants, Bodega. It included 3 types of Paella, Patatas Bravas, garlic prawns and Grilled Mushroom tapas.
While munching on a Fish n Chips lunch near the fishing boats one day, I happened upon dozens of types of tinned fish, octopus, mussels etc, which reminded me of our OTHER fave Spanish Tapas place, Como Taperia. I grabbed handfuls, and planned a dinner combining our tins w some take-out and other meats and cheeses from my favorite charcuterie shop from Granville Island, Oyama.
Both dinners I made a few side dishes to match up which happily created just enough leftovers, as it just so happens that Spanish food is the BEST pairing for breakfast poached eggs!
My older boy works at a great Thai restaurant downtown, so we’ve definitely had a few take-out dinners from there. My absolute #1 dish is the chili lime Fish, but we also had an amazing Khao Soi – a fragrant Thai noodle soup that came with all the ingredients we needed to cook it up hot at home.
Also, the boy makes me a good chili lime fish once in awhile!
We ALWAYS love a good Greek food fest. Especially when it comes with a massive helping of Greek Salad, complete with Feta Cheese. For our feast, I also tried the garlicy, lemony roasted Potatoes for the first time and they were PERFECTION! Topped it off with some sous vide Octopus (available when it happens as by-catch by our local fish monger), and whole grilled Mackerels or Trout filled with Greek spices. DELICIOUS! There was even a quick splash of Raki from the cabinet to end the night.
Gloriously, unused lemony Greek potatoes also make for a fabulous homemade Eggslut the next morning (see USA down below!).
Most of my French cooking the past few months has come not so much from France or my books on French cooking, but from my own comforting favorites. Near the very beginning of Quarantine, I spontaneously joined an online cooking school based in Southern France, just north of Cannes, called La Peetch with a LIFETIME membership (LOL!) and classes began up to 5 times a week as they worked to launch their online school. While the food wasn’t always French, the vibe sure was. And my Quiche game sure is on point now.
I even taught Hubby how to make Souffle – although with me by his side the whole time to double check haha!
For the past few months the Kitchen has turned into a Food Lab of sorts! Between multiple batches of Kombucha (which apparently originates from China), fermented (Mexican) Hot Sauces, and (French style) Red Wine Vinegar, I’ve had to find entire new shelving systems for it all. But one new wonder is Sauerkraut! My Czech friend suggested I try it, and WOW it’s delicious! I managed 3 different flavor profiles so far, and can’t wait to try more.
Through the school at La Peetch, I’ve been able to explore even MORE food than I would have otherwise, bringing me back to the old days when I cooked for my daughters birthdays from around the world. Moroccan food with a gigantic Lamb shoulder was definitely a treat, so I set an extra special table with one of my vintage Limoges sets.
P.S. Anyone know the name of this Limoges pattern?!
Taco Tuesdays complete with Pork Belly, Chipotle Romesco Cauliflower, and marinated Steaks!
Masterclass’s Gabriela Cámara’s full meal deal!
OH, but I do love Mexican food.
One special day I met up with a friend who now lives in Mexico for a joint lunch over Zoom of Salted Snapper and MAN it was delicious. Although her fresh fish cost a fraction of what I paid… I’ve made it three times since, but have yet to get it perfect.
Pho (Fuh) in any flavor is DE-LISH-OUS . We have SO VERY MUCH freshly made stock in the freezers, that it’s a perfect lunch on any cloudy summer day. With the addition of Kaffir Lime Leaves, Thai Red Chiles, Lemongrass and Ginger that I always keep in the freezer, our Beef, Seafood or Duck stocks are always well accompanied.
Not typically MY favorite food country, the Hubby and boys love it.
In trying to empty one of our freezers for cleaning, we went through the last of Tt’s (big boy) frozen Turkey Congee and added leftover chicken and fresh chives a few times over.
Picking away at the boxes of duck bones he brings home from one of his jobs, Peking Duck Wraps were a great way to use up bits before making our bi-weekly Duck Stock!
Apparently Kombucha – a fermented tea – also originates from China. Who knew! Well, probably lots of you knew that. I’ve been doing 5 batches simultaneously for a few months now and it gets consumed by all the boys in this house as fast as I can make it.
An odd pick? Well a friend of mine who is Canadian with heritages in France and Syria came by one day after quarantine had relaxed slightly to teach me some authentic Syrian dishes – and they were DELICIOUS.
Naturally I had to get online to grab the fancy tools right afterwards – all the way from ebay.UK!
My favorite, however, was the dessert. So easy to make and DELISH!!
Our oldest daughter’s boyfriend is originally from Columbia, and one LUCKY-FOR-US evening early into Quarantine they both came home to cook us a Columbian feast. What a treat with old and new faves – Ceviche, Plantain and YUMMY little breads filled with cheese.
Once we were allowed to open up our ‘bubble’ a bit, good friends of ours invited us over to watch Parasite the movie (which, surprisingly, I hadn’t yet seen) and be treated to home cooked Korean food to pair with the movie. While I’m not sure the movie was my personal fave, the food was sure good!
I’d say this counts as a ‘visit’. Our eldest daughter learned first hand in a class IN Poland how to make authentic Pierogies. When she got back, her and a few friends made DOZENS upon dozens of them, and there were still some left in the freezer we were trying to clean out.
They were still so fluffy and tasty, we plan to make more after our freezer is cleaned to take us all into the Fall/Winter. I like to add salt-cured egg yolk on mine.
As I continued to connect with friends all over the world, my previously Canadian buddy that now lives in Australia and I had a Zoom lunch/dinner (although she was actually in New Zealand at the time). Apparently in Aussie the ‘local food’ of choice is – BURGERS!
Who was I to complain?! I made Lamb/Pork burgers, piled on some of her favorite toppings, and we Zoomed the hour away, sipping Australian wine for good measure.
It’s easy to eat ‘American’ food from some of our favorite restaurants, like Eggslut, or by some of my favorite Chefs, like Thomas Keller of French Laundry fame. As I was marathoning through Masterclass online, I found this perfectly Sous-Vide’d Salmon to try – and it was absolutely perfect.
The signature dish from Eggslut was on REPEAT over the months, and I would purposely make or save extra potatoes from the dinner before and fresh sourdoughs made just to have on hand for Eggslut breakfasts.
Canada – Vancouver
Home sweet home to us is fresh Seafood. A few times over we headed to the local fish markets and cooked up a seafood FEAST! One dinner even included a fabulous Dunny my older son caught. Lucky for us, Spot Prawn season started just as businesses were starting to cautiously re-open.
Halfway through our (now ongoing) bout of Quarantine as things started to peel open slightly, my older son got a SECOND job at a local ‘poissonnerie’ and – you guessed it – even MORE seafood! Good thing we all love it.
What a trip!
If only all Quarantines could be this tasty, then I would definitely stay home more often.
What do you think? Hopefully you’re inspired to do some culinary traveling of your own!
Where have you gone / would you go through Food?