And now it's time for another edition of The Travelling Cookie Monster! In this episode, we travel to the grungey-cool graffiti-coated boat-harbouring city in southern France known as Marseille. (think, Mar-Say... not mar-sigh).
Not many people choose to travel here because it's considered less glamorous than say Paris of course or Nice, however it was WELL worth the trip. Marseille is just COOL. I loved my brief stay in this artsy city. Also, like many regions in Europe, they have their OWN SYMBOLIC COOKIE. That's worth a visit for me if nothing else. Enter: The Navette.
FUN FACT: Navette cookies are traditionally eaten on the lesser known religious holiday known as Candlemas. Not to be confused with Candlemass which is a Swedish "doom metal" band. This year, Candlemas happens to be February 2... WHICH IS TODAY! What a great day to make Navette cookies.
Sometimes referred to as shuttle cookies, Navettes are named after their boat-like shape. Appropriate for a city that does indeed have many many boats that fill it's harbour. Right along the docks is a long boardwalk lined with market stands and tables with people selling souveniers, housewares, treats, sailor-themed baby clothes, and of course, Navette cookies. You can also find them in all the bakeries, piled high in baskets. The most common flavour is orange blossom, but there are also lemon, anise, and many other variations to be found. As far as treats go, they are pretty darn basic. But when looking for something to dunk into your tea whilst in Marseille, one must reach for a navette. And cookie monster never says no to a cookie.
As mentioned before, the classic Navette cookie is made with Orange Blossom water. I really wanted to make these cookie today, (cuz it's Candlemas! LOL) but I do not have orange blossom water. I do have, however, a real orange. So, I used orange zest instead. Not the traditional Navette, but good enough for me :)
True confession time, The Navette that I ate in Marseille, and the ones that I re-created in my kitchen back home, are not the same. Let me just say the cookie I ate in France was much more pleasant. I don't know if it is just me, or the recipe I used, but these cookies were a little disappointing. However it's the thought that counts and it made for some fun reminiscing. And you never know until you try! Regardless, here is the recipe.
recipe adapted from Saveur
I yay, you yay, we all yay for PAEEEEELLA! (Spanish pronunciation lesson)
FIRST things first: check out my tiny paella pan!! A souvenir I snagged from a dollar store in Barcelona. I was looking for a traditional paella pan to take home, but then LOOK TINY THINGS!! And if we all know me, we know that it's hard to say no to tiny things. Also, way more travel friendly am I right?
Paella, if you are unfamiliar, is a rice dish hailing from SPAIN and it is darn delicious. It is made (and often served) in it's own namesake pan, which is recognized by it's shallow depth and two skinny U-shaped handles on opposite sides and is much bigger than the one shown above.
Paella usually contains a mixture of seafood and/or chicken and/or pork and sometimes vegetables, and always a lemon wedge to squeeze over the top before you dive in. Spiced with smoked paprika (HELLO I'm sold), it gets its signature golden yellow colour from tiny expensive threads of saffron... the gold of the culinary world. Some dishes are worth the splurge. Paella is one of those dishes.
I had the joy, privilege and pleasure of experiencing paella for the first time whilst travelling in... where else... SPAIN! Yes!
I was lucky enough to find myself in the little southern town of Nerja with my dear mother and father. Traveling with mom and dad is great because we try our best to live like the locals, buy ingredients from local stores and cook our own meals in our little rental apartment. We learn about new ingredients and go out for ice creams and coffees and bakery treats, but we rarely eat full meals out... mostly because it's very expensive and there are sooo many tourist traps! But Mom and I (mostly Mom) do our research and if we find a good authentic restaurant, we might be able to convince my dad to go out ;)
One sunny Spanish day, we decided to throw caution and our frugal budget to the wind and treat ourselves to a lunch on the town. Or, I should say, a lunch on the beach. #livingthedream
A high priority on our vacation To-Do List (or at least on mine) was to try an authentic Spanish Paella. My dear mother is the best travel researcher and she scoped out a suitable venue: a bustling oceanside outdoor "restaurant" feeding fresh paella to the masses, complete with white plastic chairs and tables allowing you to feel the sand under your feet and the sun above your head. We set out on a warm walk along the beach, hearts hungry for adventure and stomachs hungry for PAELLA.
GOOD NEWS: It was DELICIOUS! So flavourful and comforting and exotic all in one dish. We loved it! One of the best parts of the experience though was getting to see how they made it... In a GIANT paella pan! This is how you feed the masses, out on the beach, with one massive pan. It's a little bigger than my mini one ;)
Look at that golden rice! And all those shrimpies! I'll take three helpings please.
Our little fiesta on the beach was so deliciously inspiring that we knew we must learn how we could re-create our own paella back home...
My dear Papa, who is a fantastic cook, especially of ethnic foods, took to researching and creating and quickly perfecting his own version of paella. Now, it is a regular dinner request in our home and one of my personal favourites!
Which is why I was terribly excited to once again get the opportunity to eat paella in its country of origin... this time in the grand city of BARCELONA.
I visited Barcelona with one of my best travel buddies... my Aunt! Traveling with my Aunt is kind of the best for a few reasons:
Not a bad day I must say, not a bad day at all.
We sipped our sangria whilst looking out the window and across the street at the famous Sagrida Familia Church (which we coined the Sangria Church, for obvious reasons, but also much easier to say) and shared a pan of paella. Another trip to flavour town with a super fun mixture of seafood and pork along for the ride! It's an adventure in a pan let me tell you. Yup, pretty hard to beat that experience...
HOWEVER... I have to admit that while the paella I ate in Barcelona that day was mighty tasty, I could not help but compare it to the paella I have become accustomed to at home, prepared by my dear father. I must say, he makes a mean paella. It might not be 100% authentic, but it's darn close and it's 100% tasty so who cares! Every time I eat it I am transported back to wonderful memories of warm and sunny Spain. And now, aren't we all the luckiest bunch because today he shares his recipe!
Enough rambling about my travels, here's how you can have your own Spanish Paella fiesta!
Pablo's Spanish Paella
Recipe from my papa (serves about 3-4 people)
If you have ever been to the big, bold, brilliant city that is Berlin, you know about Curry Wurst! It is Berlin’s street food, and it’s everywhere. Which is great. Cuz I love it.
It’s ridiculously simple though; in it’s most basic form it is just a big ol’ juicy sausage, cut into pieces and drizzled (or more often drenched) in ketchup and sprinkled with curry powder. Some places will make a special curried-ketchup sauce. Almost all places serve it in a little white paper vessel along with a 2-prong wooden fork, designed for eating it right there, standing on the sidewalk. It’s not fancy, but its DARN TASTY.
I have been lucky enough to get to visit Berlin TWICE thus far in my life and you bet on my second time round I was stoked to get another curry wurst experience. It was everything I hoped for and more. I must say eating street food in a city where it is also legal to drink in public makes things all the more fun.
During my free-time-wanders I stumbled upon none other than the Curry Wurst Museum. Yes, Berlin has a museum dedicated to their infamous street food. I had to check this out. Although I did not have the time to pay to go into the museum, I did enjoy wandering through the gift shop. There I found such wonders as ceramic versions of the paper plates they are served on, and even stuffed-crochet curry wurst sculptures... along with Curry Wurst t-shirts, magnets, keychains, and all the usual gift shop paraphernalia. I also managed to obtain a recipe for a Curry Wurst sauce! SCORE. I knew that this was something I must create in my own kitchen back home. Danke!
I’m sure there is a specific type of sausage that you are supposed to use for making Curry Wurst, however I am not really sure what it is. I think whatever you like to eat and whatever you have on hand will suit just fine. You could slice it up and eat it as is, standing in your kitchen, street food style. You could maybe make some french fries to go with it on the side ya? Or put it in a bun like a fancy Berlin style hot dog. Follow your heart. But don’t forget the extra sprinkle of curry powder dusted over top before you serve it. That part is essential ;)
Recipe sourced from the Curry Wurst Museum in Berlin, Germany
Heat the water in a pan. Add sugar, curry powder, paprika, salt, Sambal Oelek and tomato paste. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in vinegar and ketchup. Bring to a boil once more. Let cool before serving.
Cook up some sausages, on the grill or stove however you like, and serve with the curried ketchup. Sprinkle with an extra dusting of curry powder over top. YUM
The following is inspired by a recent and rather fabulous trip to ITALY where I met up with my dear mother and father. Here is a small tale of our travels, and of course, a recipe to follow.
Once thing I love about Italy is how food is so regional, and specific ingredients, dishes, and recipes come from very specific parts of the country. This also includes COOKIES. I discovered that almost every city and even small towns, had a signature cookie! As a self-proclaimed Traveling Cookie Monster, this is very exciting news to hear. I was a very happy gal after I visited the ever so charming island of Burano, and then discovered about it’s very own signature cookie, the Buranello! Tell me more!
Other than Buranello cookies, Burano is mostly known for two things: colourful buildings, and lace. This makes it a very aesthetically pleasing and photographic little island to visit. It is difficult NOT to take a photo of each and every street, from all angles, multiple times. We had read about this island from a newspaper article, the houses so bright and vibrant against the sunny blue skies pictured in the article’s photos.
Unfortunately for us, our chosen day to visit this charming island had correctly forecasted RAIN. But that was not about to stop us! We donned our raincoats, hoods up, (mom and dad had matching ones which just added to the cuteness) and boarded a boat to Burano. Due to the less than desirable weather conditions, our photos were not quite like the ones from the newspaper article... However, we still found the little island to be incredibly magical and it was definitely a highlight of our Italy experience! I still like the photos we managed to capture of rainy-day-Burano. (It also probably helped to minimize the dreaded crowds of other tourists)
I love all these cute little houses! What a dreamy place :)
Later, back on the boot-shaped main island of Venice, I read in a cookbook about Buranello cookies, and how they hailed from the region of Burano. Hey I was just there! And even later that evening, I had a chance to sample one! Cookie dreams coming true!!! HAPPY DAYS.
There are two varieties of Buranello cookies: Bussola and Essie. Bussola are traditionally formed into O shapes, by rolling out a log and connecting the two ends. Essie are formed from the log into S shapes - easy to remember by the name.
You can see these little treats EVERYWHERE in Venice, most often commercially produced and packaged into large bags. Both are made from the same dough recipe (as far as I am aware), and both are meant to be served with a sweet dessert wine after a lovely Italian meal. They are meant to be somewhat firm and dry, so that you dip them into the wine and enjoy the two together. They are a simple and humble cookie, and for that, I am a fan. Also, anything that I am encouraged to dunk into wine sounds like a great idea to me.
recipe from "Venice and Food" by Sally Spector
*note: the original recipe gave weight measurements in ounces only. While these measurements will provide the most accurate results, I have done my best calculations to give approximate metric and volume conversions to accommodate all kitchens and bakers.
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© 2015 Larissa Costella
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