Mega mac and cheese: Sammarinese nidi di rondine

It’s kind of ironic that we’re posting this recipe today, because it’s the total opposite of the way we’ve been eating lately. Last weekend, we returned from a holiday in Australia which was full of indulging in the nation’s finest seafood, wines and ice cream (to name a few delicacies). Since returning home, we’ve been rather more abstinent – which is definitely not a word you would use to describe San Marino’s national dish, nidi di rondine (swallows’ nests), which we made and ate before we went away. With a list of ingredients that mainly centres around cheese, meat and pasta, this is definitely an indulgence – but such a worthy one! We got our recipe from All That Cooking. Continue reading


Bread and wine: Estonian kringel

Because of our ridiculously and embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks, we decided when we started this challenge that if we could find an appropriate recipe in one of them, we would use it. For Estonia, thanks to the Hairy Bikers, we were spoilt for choice. Well, sort of. Having three options was less of a treat when we realised that the first was jellied pigs’ trotters (no thank you) and the second was redcurrant semolina pudding (which is probably very nice but not terribly exciting and would also involve finding fresh redcurrants). The third option of kringel, however, appealed to us much more.

Kringel is a pretzel-shaped enriched bread with raisins and chocolates and is mostly served on special occasions. Well, we were having a special occasion of sorts: some friends coming around for a wine-tasting evening, hosted by Pieroth. The wine tasting itself was just OK, with the most notable part being the discovery that our visiting wine rep was actually Estonian! This was slightly nerve-wracking at first, given that we were serving up one of her key national dishes alongside the wine, but she seemed to approve (as did we and our guests), so we must have pulled it off. Because wine and cheese are obviously such inseparable bedfellows, we made a cheddar version of the kringel as well as the traditional sweet one. Continue reading

Guten grub: Kasespätzle mit bratwurst

Yesterday, whilst out grocery shopping, we decided to get some lunch. In an effort to avoid the largely unavoidable chain coffee shops, we found an independent café with an extensive sandwich menu. Ash opted for a ‘Super Club’ sandwich from the ‘Familiar Favourites’ list, whilst Miranda went for the ‘Chickpea Salad Signature Sandwich’, involving mashed chickpea salad, avocado and leafy greens. The fact that familiar was spelt ‘familier’, and signature ‘signiture’, should have been our first clue. The fact that we were the only people in the café at 1pm should have been our second, but we gave them the benefit of the doubt.

Our starving stomachs endured a staggeringly long wait before our sandwiches finally arrived. Ash’s ‘Super Club’ baguette had a couple of pieces of overcooked, microwaved bacon and a few bits of chicken, which were mostly masked by the slathering of margarine. Miranda’s sandwich had no avocado and the only evidence of ‘leafy greens’ was some shrivelled up iceberg lettuce on the corner of the plate. We sent it back in search of some avocado, which was provided, but it was so under-ripe it genuinely had the texture of a carrot. Ash didn’t quite believe this until he tried it for himself, at which point he declared, ‘I’ve never experienced anything like that.’ And no one should ever have to, which is why we won’t be returning to that particular establishment.

After that unmitigated disappointment, we were glad we had our German spätzle dinner to look forward to. The shopping trip wasn’t a total disaster, though: we did manage to pick up some bratwurst, a pretzel, and some German wine and beer.

Ash with beer and pretzel Continue reading