Thursday, 29 August 2013

Israel - A month's summary

I told you in one of my previous posts that I had been on a trip for ten days and, although I had been on a very similar - not to say exact - trip before, I enjoyed it very much. It was good quality time with friends and we visited some amazing places that I recommend to everyone without a doubt.

I haven't taken many pictures throughout this month but here are some that summarise very well the five weeks I've spent in this beautiful part of the world.

This was taken at the Bahai Gardens in Haifa.

And these are my friends & I at the Western Wall or, as it is called in Hebew, Kotel HaMaaravi. It is the most important place for Judaism since it is the only remaining wall of the Temple Mount.

We also visited these beautiful caves in Rosh Hanikra, right next to the border with Lebanon.

One of the beauties of this country is that you can go to a forest in the north and be in a few hours in the  desert, located in the south. The picture shows the whole group, posing right outside the Bedouin tents where we "slept" for a night, before waking up at 3.30am to climb up Masada in order to see the sunrise from the top of the plateau. The view is truly captivating but so is the sunset view from the terrace in my family's apartment.

And above you can find this week's culinary experiment. In Israel - and in most parts of the world where there's a Kosher food store - you can buy frozen malawach. It is basically puff pastry that you can put on a pan with very little oil and cook for a couple of minutes. I usually eat it with grated tomatoes, a little oil and salt but this time I felt like mixing Malawach and Galette and this was the tasty and colourful outcome.

But even better than galawach or whatever I should call my experiment are sufganiot. Jews eat them in Hanuka and they are DELICIOUS. You get all dirty eating them - or at least I do - but it is absolutely worth it. They are so soft and just so fantastic.

There are a million things to do and visit in Israel but if I took pictures of everything I'd have to blog about Israel too many times so I'll just tell you a bit about the Shuk HaCarmel for now. A shuk is a market in Hebrew and there are markets in most cities here but this one feels special to me. It occupies a  long street in Tel Aviv, close to the beach, and you can find a wide range of things: from clothes, and souvenirs to perfumes, toiletries, kitchen utensils and food... Pretty much anything, as you can see. It has nothing to do with one of those little French markets I love. This shuk doesn't smell of roses and in August it gets far too hot, as everywhere in the country, but I still like it. Maybe because I like the food they sell or maybe just because I like the contrast between this and other very bohemian and modern parts of Tel Aviv. 

Some people love this city (I include myself) and others just can't stand it because it is truly messy and it is very different to what we generally consider 'nice cities' but it does undoubtedly have a charm, something truly special and unique - and I must mention it has a great nightlife. It is half way between the East and the West.

This bread is called Lejem Yerushalmi (Jerusalemite bread, in English). It is soft and you eat it with Za'atar, a very common spice in this part of the world.

Now you can see the handbags behind the fruit. I wasn't lying when I said that you can buy pretty much anything you want here.

And for reasons that I'll explain in future posts, this last picture is a taste I'm leaving you of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

More posts soon.

Regina xxx

Friday, 23 August 2013

Lemon Upside-Down Cake

This is the simplest cake recipe you'll ever make, really. I tried it after reading it on one of my favourite blogs: The Londoner. There's pretty much nothing to it and it will surely taste like heaven, which is why we made it for my sister, who's invited us for dinner tonight. The blog's recipe doesn't use poppy seeds but I think they give it a nice touch.


To make the cake:

3 eggs
170g icing sugar
170g self-raising flour
170g unsalted butter
Zest of two lemons
3 or 4 tbsp poppy seeds

To make the drizzle:

Juice of two lemons (the ones you previously used)
110g icing sugar

How to:

1. Turn on your oven to 180C.

2. Put all the cake ingredients on a mixing bowl and mix.

3. Pour the mix on a silicon mould. I used one with an original shape but you can use any mould you like. Just be careful with the size.

4. Bake for 30 mins. While the cake is inside the oven, mix the drizzle ingredients until the sugar and the juice of the two lemons are well blended. If after 30 mins you insert a skewer and the cake comes out wet, leave it for another 5 mins. Otherwise, take it out.

5. Place the mould on top of an epty plate and place another empty plate, upside down, on top of the cake as it comes out of the oven (like a sandwich, basically). Then turn the whole thing 180 degrees and lift the plate and mould. You should then find the cake nicely on top of the plate.

6. Make holes with a skewer everywhere on the cake and pour the drizzle on top (while the cake's still hot).

And start eating!

Looks good, right?

Well, it tastes even better than it looks!

I hope you try it and like it!

Regina xxx.

PS. The sixth and last pictures are of another lemon cake - same recipe, of course, but without poppy seeds. You choose which one you prefer.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Saint Jean de Luz: Love for candy

Firstly, I want to say I'm sorry for not posting over such a long time. I've been away on a trip, but I'm back now and ready to tell you one of the details I missed out - on purpose - about Saint Jean de Luz in my previous post.

We should probably begin by saying that I absolutely love sweet foods and, although Rony's more of a fan of savoury, we do have a common soft spot: candy. So when we happened to come across this jewel of a candy shop, as we prepared to journey back to Barcelona, we both thought the same thing: we need some sugar for the trip.

Yes, the shop was decorated like it was a pirate boat.

They had all sorts of sweets: soft, hard, with nuts, gluten free...

It was a pretty adorable and ridiculous way to sell the candy, I loved it. And it's no Haribo - it most certainly stands out from all the basic candy stores around. 

We were sufficiently greedy, I think, and took one or two from most barrels before we made our way to our gelato and tarte aux framboises (Mentioned those in my previous post).

So, to be honest, we did not quite have our daily dose of sugar that afternoon: we had a sugar overdose. 

I'm going to stop now because looking at these pictures again is making my mouth melt.

Hopefully more posts will come soon.

Regina xxx.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Road trip: Basque Country & Saint Jean de Luz

Rony and I usually go on holiday, just the two of us, twice a year. So far we've been to Paris, Belgium, Granada and a few other places. Up to now, the decision has always been easy to make since the requisites are quite simple: a good price and a good hotel. But this year the decision was a bit harder... We knew we wanted to go on a road trip, but where? La Côte d'Azur was our first choice but for numerous reasons we changed our plans and went to the Basque Country. Well, it was more of his decision really, but I was more than happy to visit a new place anyway.

Having driven for about six hours (Rony being the only one that drove), we arrived at our destination pretty exhausted. It was four in the afternoon, which is siesta time in Spain (even worse when it's a Sunday), so the streets in Vitoria - which is a small city in the south of the Basque region - were absolutely empty. We were quite bored at first but by 5.00pm the cafes had opened and people had started to get out of bed. We walked around for a while (not too long, it was 35 degrees!) and sat down outside in the shade while drinking iced coffee.

I must admit architecture fascinates me, and even more does interior design. For someone like me, Bilbao is a paradise. The Guggenheim museum, with its iconic architecture and amazing interiors, is totally worth a visit. The pieces of art they have are certainly not the best you can see in Europe – numerous museums in Madrid have paintings from better-known artists – but for a short visit it’s really nice. There was an exhibition on art during the time of war, which I found very interesting. There were a few very captivating installations, one by the architect of the museum, Frank Gehry, and the other made of elongated rectangular screens with different messages. Unfortunately, cameras weren’t allowed so I can’t show you any pictures of it.

We walked around Bilbao during the day and we were both very surprised to find how beautiful it is! We had been told that it wasn't a very elegant city but we found it absolutely delightful. It has a wide main shopping street with very tall trees that give the necessary shade at such a hot time of the year.

The following day we drove up to San Sebastian, a bit up north and on the coast.

The weather wasn't fantastic but the beach was nevertheless spectacular.

I was happy to come across a little market with very pretty and colourful flowers.

The third and last day was dedicated to Saint Jean de Luz, clearly the most beautiful and charming place of all the ones we visited.

Saint Jean de Luz is a small town in the southwest coast of France. It has narrow streets full of boutiques and a lovely beach. The weather was much more pleasant than the previous day so that might have been the reason it looked even better to us!

Breath-taking, right?

I was even happier this time when we came across a little market. Not flowers, but what more can a deli-lover hope for than a small French market?

Oh, Mr Brebis...

And look at the colour of the veggies!

We had lunch and finished off with a speculoos-nocciola-chocolate ice cream and a tarte aux framboises...

Having consumed more than our required daily dose of sugar, we said au revoir to one of the most charming towns I can say I've ever been to.

If you're thinking of visiting the Basque Country or Biarritz, I definitely recommend you rent a car and drive to Saint Jean de Luz. You might even want to stay there for two or three days and properly enjoy the beach, and the undeniable charm of the little French town. We will surely go back again one day, and will probably visit Biarritz too.

Regina xxx