Guide to delicious European street food

Delicious European street food

There is something about bread and pastry made in Holland, Belgium, Germany or France, that will make me forget any healthy diet. When I saw this infographics guide of European street food, I realized that I only knew the tip of the iceberg. All of these traditional European snacks look so delicious, they make me want to jump on a plane to some “Old World” destinations!

Enjoy the view, and be sure to try some out when you’re in the “neighborhood”.

 

Wimdu

Mediterranean dinner at Flavor Café Bakery (Atlanta)

There is a great variety of cuisines available in (Metro) Atlanta, which makes it hard to choose sometimes where to go for dinner. Since we are adventurous “foodies” we like to try new stuff, especially dishes we don’t or can’t cook ourselves. It’s been a while since I wrote about my culinary adventures, so here we go again.

We decided to go Mediterranean for our anniversary in September this year and choose Flavor Café Bakery, a Persian restaurant in North Atlanta. It was a true delight to be served great tasting, freshly prepared food! I had almost forgotten how much I enjoy this type of food.

 

medit apptz2

This fresh appetizer/salad with flat bread, consisted of goat cheese, olives, radish and walnuts drizzled with honey on a bed of basil, mint and tarragon. If you followed my blog, you know that I’m currently very much into healthy spices and herbs and wrote a few Kindle books on the topic. Knowing how good these herbs are for us, made the dish even more ejoyable 🙂

medit beef kabob2

 My dinner choice was Barg (open fire charbroiled tenderloin kebob) with saffron Basmati rice and a charbroiled tomato. It was the fluffiest, most tasteful saffron rice I ever had (and I have eaten at various Mediterranean restaurants)!

Since we can never have enough vegetables with dinner, we added a Shirazi salad, made with cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, onion with with a citrus olive oil dressing. Not your every day salad, at least not mine, and we enjoyed every bite of it.

medit shank2

 

Although he is not a big meat-eater, for some reason my husband selected the Rhubarb Lamb Shank, slow cooked lamb with fresh herbs and rhubarb, with dill fava beans Basmati rice. Of course I had to try it too and it was delish!

medit deserts2

 

To top off a great dinner, we could make a selection from the freshly baked pastries on display. It was not easy, believe me! I went for the peach mousse while my husband opted for the raspberry mousse. Of course both were great! Not too sweet and very light. Although we said we didn’t have  room for desert, the mouse was gone in no time!

 

What a great choice of restaurant this was on our special day. I can go back any time and have me another Barg! Or shall I go for the Ghormeh Sabzi?  You’ll have to go to Flavor to find out what it is  🙂

 

Nooshe Jan

(Persian for Bon Appetit)

Shrimp and Grits, a true Southern favorite

Last week my husband and I went to Aspens Signature Steaks for dinner and although it is a restaurant famous for its steaks, I was in the mood for seafood. Didn’t want anything fried, so I was eyeing the grilled Shrimp & cheesy Grits.

Only problem was that I don’t really care much for grits… Would they substitute the grits for risotto? When I asked, the waiter said he would check with the chef, because risotto was reserved for the dinner special. I could get mac & cheese or mashed potatoes instead, but he highly recommended the grits, because the chef used a special recipe which made the grits less “gritty.” If I didn’t like the grits, he would substitute it for something else of my choice. Not wanting to be too ‘difficult’ (aka pain in the …) to the (cute) waiter, I decided to give it a try. Aspens gave a little twist to the famous Shrimp & Grits of the South and apparently  many of their guests really liked it.

Well….? He was right!! The cheesy grits were delicious, and not gritty at all!  I didn’t regret my decision to try it out and was happy to enjoy this Southern favorite. It seems they come Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, or Louisiana style (maybe even more, but these are the ones I found on the web), each giving the grits their own flavor.

Aspens Shrimp & Grits

Aspens is a great restaurant in Marietta, Metro Atlanta, and suitable for a nice dinner or special occasion. Good to know that you don’t have to go all the way to Atlanta for a great dining experience, food, wine and service included! I have visited several times and anything I ordered so far was excellent.  This time I choose shrimp & grits, wtih tasso ham, crimini mushrooms, scallions, sweet peppers, cheddar grits, lemon butter sauce and a glass of Waterbrook Sauvignon Blanc of Columbia Valley, Washington. I tried to take  a picture with my phone before the plate was empty, but the ‘romantic’ lighting didn’t help getting a clear photo (sorry! It looked a lot better in person). After dinner we shared Van Gogh’s “Killer” Tiramisu which was embellished with fresh raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. YUM!!

As part of my culinary adventures, I always try to find the recipes to experiment in my own kitchen. My online research resulted in a recipe provided by Aspens’  managing partner, Jimmy Huch, to the bloggers of EveningsEdge.com, who posted the cheesy grits recipe and who also get full credit for the recipe below.

Preparation & cooking time: 15 minutes – Feeds: 10

Cheesy Grits,  a quick and delicious sidedish

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2 1/2 cups quick grits
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Bring butter, chicken broth, cream and Tabasco to a boil in a stockpot. Slowly add grits and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Add cheese and simmer 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful because grits can splatter. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve the grits with grilled shrimp or fish and a side salad.

Enjoy!

 

Dine-around in Holland (part 2)

One of the neat social activities for the conference was the “Dine-Around” in Amsterdam. After finishing a canal tour the participants were split up in small groups and guided to various fancy restaurants in the city center.

Amsterdam canals

Amsterdam is home to many different cultures and the selected restaurants varied from Indonesian to German, French and Dutch cuisines. Besides the fact that it’s easier to converse in smaller groups, I don’t think there would be one restaurant in Amsterdam that could easily accommodate over 50 people at one time. Well, except for the hotels, but that doesn’t really give you the ‘taste’ of Amsterdam. Compared to the U.S. everything is so much smaller in the Netherlands and within walking distance, but what I love the most is the flexibility, capability and laid back attitude to make something out of almost nothing.

This brings me to the second Italian dinner in Holland. Ponte Arcari is a tiny restaurant located at Herengracht 534 near Rembrandtsplein, in the middle of Amsterdam. It was recommended by Merlijn, my Dutch contact and planner for the conference. During the canal tour he pointed out the restaurant when the boat made a quick stop right next door, to pick up some snacks.

When we walked up to Ponte Arcari I thought: oh wow, it’s so small people have to sit on the sidewalk! There were tables and chairs outside on the sidewalk, across the street and on the bridge. At first I thought it was a little bit weird and dangerous to sit on the sidewalk with cars, bikes and motorbikes passing by so close, but Merlijn grabbed a table across the restaurant on the sidewalk, almost on the bridge over the canal and I said to myself “what the heck, this is Amsterdam, go for the experience!” After a while, I had to agree that it was the best spot in the sun! Yes, it was a gorgeous afternoon/evening and we had the best view of the streets, canals, and traffic, outside the super busy restaurant!

The two servers were Italian and hardly spoke Dutch or English. One asked if I spoke Spanish, just in case. So get this: I’m in the Netherlands, at an Italian restaurant, communicating in Spanish!  🙂  ….. only in Amsterdam! Our server Emiliano was funny and tried his best to accommodate us quickly, which was not easy for two servers covering seven tables outside! He was running back and forth, crossing the street with drinks and plates to serve the customers. It was a funny sight, maybe because I’ve never seen that anywhere before!

I tried the Birra Moretti (when in Rome …), an Italian beer (owned by Heineken) and it was a good combination with my beef tenderloin, potatoes and spinach. I know, red wine would have been better, but I was in the mood for beer which doesn’t happen often. I took my first bite and was amazed! The food was excellent! Another big hit with Italian food!

Before I wrote this post, I did some research looking for a website of the restaurant. I could not believe some of the bad reviews I found online! I feel truly sorry for those patrons who had a lesser experience with their food and service at Ponte Arcari. I guess it must have been my lucky stars! Beautiful weather, great place, excellent food, good company, all in all a wonderful experience! Thanks for the recommendation Merlijn, now I understand why it is difficult to get a table at this place!

Here’s an interactive photo and Google map of Ponte Arcari. You can move and drag your mouse around to see different angles of the street corner. Our table was on the right.


View Larger Map

If you ever get to Amsterdam try to visit the restaurant; if not for the food, do it for the experience!
Come back soon for Part 3 …

Dine-around in Holland (part 1)

Just came back from a congress/mini-vacation in The Netherlands (aka Holland), where I was blessed to enjoy some great international dining in Amsterdam, Den Haag (The Hague) and also in Brugge, Belgium. This is part 1 of my culinary adventures, enjoy!

Strange enough I had Italian twice during this trip, and I say “strange” because it would usually not be my first choice. When hearing Italian food, most people think about pasta or pizza. Well, I had none of that and the food was excellent! The location and service made it an even better experience and I have to say that Italian food became one of my favorites during this trip!

First we had lunch on the patio of a small restaurant in Den Haag, where we must have waited more than an hour(!) before we received our order.  But at least the weather was marvelous! I had brought the sun with me to Holland! Fortunately the sandwiches were worth the wait, although I couldn’t recognize anything Mexican in my sandwich. Then again, who orders a Mexican sandwich at a Dutch place??? It was still yummy!

Dinner at Trattoria da Sebastiano, Den Haag.

When we walked in, the place appeared to be empty but there was a sign indicating that ‘they’ were in the backyard. All the customers were sitting and dining in the small but cozy backyard and it felt like entering a private party.

As soon as we were seated, the server poured us a glass of Prosecco (a dry bubbly wine). How could you not feel welcome?

Shortly thereafter the chef/owner showed up with his menu … on a small chalkboard! Quite funny to see this big guy presenting the menu on a small board 🙂 and new too, because I had never seen a menu presentation like that before. It was really special.

Don Sebastiano explained the selections and after ‘careful’ considerations, we each choose an appetizer and different entrees.

The zuppa pesce (fish soup) was marvelous and the main course even better! After the Tortelloni, Cotoletta and Filetto there was no room for dessert, not even for my favorite tiramisu!

All we could “fit” in was a Limoncello, an after-dinner lemon liquor that was unfortunately a little bit too bitter for my taste. Other than that, it was a perfect dinner!

A wonderful beginning of my short trip to the Netherlands. Come back soon for the next food adventure 🙂

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