Hang on – what? Antarctic chocolate chip cookies? Surely chocolate chip cookies are from America, not the Earth’s southernmost continent that doesn’t even have a native population and is only inhabited by scientists, researchers and the occasional transient tourist.
If you thought any of that when you read the title of this post, you’re entirely correct. Chocolate chip cookies originated in the USA in around 1938 when a woman called Ruth Graves Wakefield added chopped up bits from a Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar into a cookie at the Toll House Inn.
We recently returned from a cosy ‘staycation’. We’re in the throes of renovations chaos in the Mash House, so the opportunity to escape the mess and spend a few days relaxing in the countryside was very welcome. Our first stop was Marlow, where we achieved the Tom Kerridge trifecta by eating delicious meals at The Hand & Flowers, The Coach and The Butcher’s Tap, as well as discovering the best hot chocolate ever in a little cafe. We found out afterwards that apparently The Hand & Flowers claims to serve the best chips in the world, but we’d already given that title to those on offer at The Coach – Ash ordered two portions!
Another day, another Caribbean archipelago, another nation declaring conch as its national dish. Still unable to source this seafood anywhere other than in a William Golding novel, we once again looked further afield, coming up with two alternative options: fish chowder or steamed chicken. Both looked nice, but Ash pointed out that we tend to eat a lot of chicken anyway, so maybe we should give the fish chowder a try. The recipe we used is by Norman Van Aken, a chef we’d probably have heard of if we lived in the US, given that he’s been described as the ‘Walt Whitman of American cuisine’ (and that makes two literary references in one paragraph).
Poet or otherwise, he seems to know his stuff, so on Saturday, while Ash was continuing his work as a DIY wizard, Miranda retrieved some previously made fish stock from the freezer and set about rustling up a hearty soup (despite the unseasonably warm weather!). Continue reading →
· It is the sixth-smallest country in the world
· Despite its tiny size, it has one of the highest GDPs in the world
· It is situated between Austria and Switzerland, and as a result, its cuisine is significantly influenced by that of both countries
· We’ve never been there, but it looks pretty nice:
· Its national dish is käseknöpfle (basically mac and cheese)… which we made for Germany
A combination of many of these factors meant that finding something to make for Liechtenstein was a little tricky! A tiny country with big influences from neighbouring countries doesn’t have a long list of traditional recipes to its name, unfortunately. In the end, we opted for ribel (also spelt rebl), which a Liechtenstein tourism website describes as ‘probably the most traditional dish in Liechtenstein’ due to its origins as a staple dish for the country’s ‘poor population’. Traditional was what we wanted; a vague recipe for a slightly odd-sounding dish wasn’t quite, but a lack of other options meant that ribel was on our dessert menu on the weekend! (Is it even a dessert? We’re not really sure.) Continue reading →
The nights are drawing in here in South London and we’re sure it’s only a matter of time before bitter temperatures follow suit: as ever, we’ve been promised the coldest winter ever with months of apocalyptic snowfall! Confident though we are that this is tabloid sensationalism, a visit to a Caribbean island would still be pretty nice. With some fairly significant renovations getting started in the Mash House, however, we’re going to have to imagine that warming sunshine vicariously through our cooking.
Today’s island nation is Cuba. We’ve never been there, but we know people who have! Ash’s sister and her husband went there on their honeymoon and amidst their adventures of swimming with dolphins, riding around in Cadillacs and drinking pina coladas, they were considerate enough to pick up some recipes for us (and some Cuban rum!) as Thomas Cook had left a handy folder of local information in their hotel.
According to Google, the national dish of Cuba is ropa vieja, which is a beef and tomato stew. This was one of the recipes in the folder, but we ended up deciding against it because ingredient number one was ‘1kg of brisket (previously used as boiling meat for a soup)’. Now, we love brisket, but prefer it when it has been smoked long and slow on a barbecue, rather than boiling all the flavour out of it in a soup base. Instead, we opted for arroz con pollo a la chorrera, which means rice with chicken in Chorrera style (interesting, given that Chorrera culture originated in Ecuador and didn’t make it as far up as Cuba – but if the Thomas Cook recipes aren’t 100% authentic, they still came from actual Cuba, so we went with it!). Continue reading →
Here we are again at a country we’ve been fortunate enough to visit. We spent a weekend in Luxembourg City in December 2015. The main purpose of the trip was to visit the Christmas markets: after visiting the markets in Hamburg a couple of years earlier and realising the delights of spending a couple of days wandering around, eating street food and drinking glühwein, we wanted to experience the same thing somewhere else. Luxembourg did not disappoint (and it wasn’t as bitterly cold as Hamburg had been!).
Our stomachs were well and truly indulged on that trip. In addition to the glühwein already mentioned (and not forgetting the version served with a rum-soaked and flaming cone of sugar perched on top so it could slowly melt into the drink!) and the eierpunsch (eggnog), there was the perpetual lure of bratwurst, sides of salmon smoked over an open fire and served in a bread roll, the inspired combination of marzipan-filled pretzels, and complimentary ‘executive lounge’ beverages and petit-fours in our hotel. It’s a good thing we also found time for a couple of long walks around the city!
Other than it being a tax haven and therefore the home of potentially dodgy offshore bank accounts, we don’t know much about the Cayman Islands. After some Googling, we don’t know much about its national dish either, because it doesn’t seem to have one. Popular foods are conch, whelks, coconut, plantain, breadfruit, yams, cassava, rice and beans, but there isn’t one specific dish that is considered native to the group of three islands. This left our options open.
Pretty quickly, we found a recipe combining two wonderful things (custard and cornbread), and when we saw that, we knew there was no point in looking for anything else! The introduction to the recipe said that ‘you won’t find the recipe anywhere other than the Cayman Islands’ so it ticked the ‘delicious’ and ‘authentic’ boxes for us. Continue reading →