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Chasing Pineapples

an English girl tasting her way around the world

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Bath

Swedish Sunday Shenanigans

I live with seven other girls and, being students with a lot of work on and varied interests, it is extremely difficult to get all of us together in one room. The solution is our Sunday house meal when we cook up a feast and catch up on our busy weeks. Living in such a big house, there is bound to be some variety in cooking preferences. Furthermore, Bath University is very international and amongst my housemates alone we have four nationalities and have lived in ten countries, ranging from Europe, to Latin America, to the Middle East! This provides opportunity to taste exotic flavours from all around the world, without leaving the comfort of our own home.

Our most international housemate, Caroline, was born in Sweden, summers in France, has studied in England, Singapore and Brussels, yet lives in Dubai. But last Sunday she chose to whip up a classic from her Swedish origins: meatballs! Sticky, meaty and extremely tasty with hints of paprika, they went down very well! In keeping with the theme, they were served in the typically Swedish way with boiled potatoes, cream sauce and lingonberry jam. Lingonberries, similar to cranberries, grow in the forest areas of Sweden and are a staple food in Scandanavian cuisine. This relish perfectly complements the meaty dish, adding a hint of fruitiness!

If you don’t want the hassle or sticky fingers that making this dish yourself involves, IKEA is the answer. Bizarre the idea of buying food from a furniture warehouse may be, but you can’t get more Swedish than IKEA!

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A Hidden Gem

The life of a student can often seem like the busiest, most stressful lifestyle there is… I was having one of these days a few days ago. However all was solved by Yak Yeti Yak, a Nepalese restaurant in Bath.

On treading down the wooden painted stairs off one of the city’s busiest roads, you find yourself in a completely different and hidden world… The hustle and bustle of everyday life makes way for this tranquil restaurant with plenty of charm. Relaxing music and aromas of burning incense mixed with Nepalese cooking are complimented by the traditional decoration, including seating with low tables and floor cushions. Though taking a bit of time to get comfy (even for my half Japanese friend), this idea was very quaint and added a lot to the experience.

This exotic experience extended to the authentic cuisine- split black lentils cooked with spices and Himalayan herbs, slow cooked pork with spinach and coriander, and stir fried marinated beef. Though the meat dishes could have used a bit more sauce, they were beautifully cooked with subtle, fragrant flavours. I also ordered Chiyaa tea as an accompaniment which was more appropriate for a dessert- sweet and frothy and yummy!

Not only did I really enjoy the food but I appreciated the importance of taking a bit of time out from time to time to put a perspective on my apparently ‘hectic’ life… I’m only a student after all…

Who needs a holiday when there are places like this on your doorstep?!

http://www.yakyetiyak.co.uk/

Eenie Meenie Miney… Mojito!

mojitos in jam jars- vintage!

In June 2009 tres chicas inglesas (three English girls) set off on an adventure to the land of cigars, vintage cars and mojitos…unmistakably Cuba! Yesterday evening these same three girls met up again over a mojito for old times’ sake. Though the setting could not have been more different… sun, sea and sand were replaced with armchairs, a vintage jewellery cabinet bar and wall hangings.

The location: OPiUM, Bath… the drink: mojitos with a twist!

We were given the choice of strawberry, blueberry or the house mojito of elderflower. As previously mentioned not being the best decision maker, we chose to have all three and rotate!

The very cheery barman whipped up our drinks on the glass cabinet crammed with vintage jewellery, postcards and knick knacks. Adding even more to the individuality of the evening, our drinks were not served in standard glasses, but rather in jam jars! Excellent!

So off we went, mojitos in tow, and rotated the variety of flavours whilst we chatted in the very relaxed yet sophisticated ambience.

passing round the jam jar mojitos

Though essentially the same drink, the variation in taste was remarkable. Blueberry came in third place, being very refreshing but a little harder to drink. Strawberry was divine, definitely the choice for the sweet tooth, though possibly a little too sugary for some. The winner was the house mojito Elderflower… a very subtle flavour, like its essence, however the perfect balance between sweet and refreshing. Though I may have been influenced by the fact that Elderflower is one of my all time favourite flavours… try yourself at Opium http://www.opiumbars.com/ … best mojitos in Bath sin duda (without a doubt)!

Around the world before breakfast

‘No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin… And suddenly the memory revealed itself… The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind before I tasted it. And all from my cup of tea.’   —Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

This Thursday morning in Bath began with a very unique experience. For those who are not familiar with the above French anecdote, Proust’s madeleine (a small traditional French sponge cake) dipped in tea inspires a nostalgic incident and takes him back to l’heure de goûter (French snacktime) of his childhood in the town of Combray. This morning I experienced an episode of this sort, although the madeleine was substituted with freshly baked tartines and Speculoos spread.

This delight provoked memories from my vie française in the Loire city of Nantes where I spent seven months teaching English whilst discovering French cuisine and the wines of the Loire. Upon wandering the city one Sunday morning, we discovered a true treasure… in the form of a biscuit spread! Bizarre it may sound, but this Belgian originated treat should not be overlooked! Hard to describe, this spread has the consistency of Nutella yet the taste of caramelised Lotus biscuits that often accompany coffee (once again evoking happy memories of taking the bus to Ramsbottom for my childhood coffee outings with Grandma!).

This Sunday ritual in Nantes perfectly illustrates the concept of eating as an experience. Les petites anglaises (English girls) would amble down to our favourite salon de thé, Tabl’O Gourmand, with its rustic wooden tables and walls lined with glass cabinets overflowing with jars containing everything you could possibly imagine in the form of a spread.  Ordering pâtes à tartiner consists of a large basket of freshly baked baguettes and an array of spreads, the personal highlight being Speculoos. Whether it was a lazy Sunday afternoon with a book, a couple of hours catching up with the girls, or appreciating Nantes as a tourist with those who came to visit, this experience never failed to please!

Back to reality, this morning my Speculoos was unfortunately not enjoyed in a French café, but in the equally pleasant sanctuary of a fellow student’s room. Toby has transformed his domain into a tranquil haven, complete with throws and cushions from the East and photographs of his experiences in Africa, and inspiring images of my own experiences in various ‘salons de thé’ of Morocco, drinking mint tea whilst observing the hustle and bustle of the fascinating daily life in Marrakech…

Again, back to reality… evidently taste is a powerful thing… taking the imagination to other times in one’s life… to other countries… even to other worlds… and all before 11am on a Thursday morning in Bath… Merci Speculoos!

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