We spent a few days in La Paz, Bolivia after our awesome salt flat tour, and every day we’d walk through a market near the hotel to find the woman who made these pastries. She’d be there bright and early with fresh sugary goodness for us to try. We must have eaten dozens of these treats over the span of four days. Delicious!
We’ve only been in India for a week, but already it feels like we’ve had a million food adventures! Coming from New York, you’d think we would have more experience with this cuisine, but the truth is we really know almost nothing about Indian food. As such, we’ve been ordering at random every time we need to eat, and we haven’t been disappointed yet! This week’s photo is thali, which is like a sampler with all kinds of different flavors. They have been our favorite because you get to taste a bunch of different things and they usually include something sweet like the honey soaked ball of bread or dough or something you see in this one. Delicious!
This week I don’t have the most spectacular or artistic of photos, but it’s something that’s been very representative of our time in Turkey. Turkey is the only country in the world that produces enough fruits and vegetables to feed its entire population. The only one! I am pretty amazed by that, and it certainly explains both the quantity and quality of fruits and veggies we’ve encountered here. You can get a kilo (that’s more than 2 pounds!) of cherries or apricots for about 1.75…it’s unreal. Breakfasts consist of tomato, cucumber, cheese, olives, bread, honey and in some places we also get huge slices of watermelon.
I’ve never seen tomatoes this consistently magnificent anywhere else in the world. I kid you not, every veggie stand we pass has crates and crates of the most perfectly ripe tomatoes. They don’t ever seem to be bruised, or picked too early, or worm infested. I buy them sometimes just to eat whole, like an apple. Mmmmmm.
After what felt like a million hours of travel, and a near fiasco at JFK airport where we were told that we weren’t actually booked on a flight to Turkey (to which I replied “well we better be, because you took my money two months ago for that ticket”), we managed to make it to this fantastic eastern capital of Istanbul (or Constantinople?).
Totally randomly, two different sets of people we know from our ‘real lives’ back home are here at the same time as us! We met up with one of them tonight for a lovely traditional dinner and ice cream before they had to leave to jet back to NYC and I have to say, there is a real danger of me gaining 100 pounds here. The food is delicious! Loads of eggplant, an abundance of lamb, olives galore. The only downside so far is that most things are sprinkled with pistachio, which I am allergic to. I’ve already taken to carrying around a little note in Turkish that reads “I am VERY allergic to nuts!” to try and avoid any mishaps.
We’re excited to start exploring this part of the world and we hope you continue to follow us as we make our way through the Middle East and into Asia!
Justin’s first Moving Box Bet challenge in Peru was pretty easy. So easy that even I participated. We decided to crank it up a notch for the Chilean challenge, and crank it up we did.
Take a look:
Video not showing up? Try this – Moving Box Bet – Chile
Justin’s next Moving Box Bet challenge will take place in Argentina. Contact us if you have a suggestion for what he should eat!
When we were packing up to leave NYC we decided that since everything would be in storage for more than a year, it would be a good idea to number the boxes and create a list that had the numbers, and a basic idea of what was in each box. If we can manage to remember where we put that list, it should be helpful in terms of unpacking when we return.
Packing sucks. In an attempt to make it suck a little less, Justin and I made a little wager about the number of boxes we thought we’d end up with when it was all said and done. We wrote our numbers down, and sealed them in an envelope.
At the time, we couldn’t think of what the winner would get. Money would be pointless since we share that. A nice dinner cooked for the winner didn’t seem big enough.
Eventually we decided that it wouldn’t be so much what the winner got, but what the loser had to do. We threw around a bunch of ideas, but finally settled on one that seemed perfect…
The loser has to eat one strange or unusual item of the winner’s choice in ever country we visit.
I’ve been researching all the interesting food items available in Peru – cuy (guinea pig), was high on the list, but so was anticuchos (beef heart on a skewer). Having not run across anything more fascinating, I decided that whatever we came across first would be what he would eat.
The other day we were wandering around Ollantaytambo when we came across a vendor with meat skewers. We asked the woman tending the grill what each skewer was.
Pollo, carne, anticuchos.
So it was settled.
As it turns out, anticuchos is very tender, and rather tasty. So tasty in fact that we went back for a second skewer for me.
Justin is convinced that I’m going to be trying all these interesting foods along with him, and for now that’s fine, but I suspect that when we get to Southeast Asia he’ll be on his own…
Original Post: July 26, 2007
Yesterday, Justin and I took a taxi into somewhere downtown Shanghai (I mean really, it’s like there are 9 or 10 areas that could be classified as downtown, so we just picked an area and went) to try to find some food. We stumbled upon a restaurant that hadsome pictures and a little bit of English on the menu. We ordered what we thought would be a reasonable amount of food for the two of us, so we were pretty suprised when they brought out gigantic dishes piled with enough to feed at least 4 or 5. Our waiter was highly amused by our mistake, but in all it only cost us $15, so it was a hell of a deal 🙂 We had chicken (without the head and feet this time) a beef with bamboo dish, some kind of dumpling soup, and fried rice.
The true highlight of the meal had nothing to do with food. On our table there sat this funny little chicken thing and if you aligned an arrow dial with your astrological sign and put a coin in its mouth is would spit out your fortune in a little pill capsule. We each got one but as they are in Chinese we have no idea what they are saying…
Tonight we are taking the overnight train toBeijing and will be going to the wall first thing Friday morning! We will be updating from the road, hopefully with some regularity.
Ok, fine, perhaps I should have titled this post “The Most Amazing Huevos Rancheros in Austin” since admittedly I didn’t eat ALL the huevos rancheros Texas has to offer, but still…I’m pretty sure this place is THE BEST. There are so many excellent restaurants in Austin, but when we asked my brother for a place we could get some good, cheap breakfast tacos, The Tamale House was the first on his list. It’s located just off I-35 in northern Austin, in an area that’s a bit run down. The building is small and has only a few tiny tables inside, and a few more tables outside. You place your order at the counter and the food is made right in front of you.
What makes this family-run place so great?
- There are more than a dozen kinds of breakfast taco available, all for less than a dollar
- There is nothing on the menu over $5
- Everything we had (7 tacos plus the huevos) has great flavor
- The huevos rancheros looks a mess, but is huge, and is smothered in an amazing, secret sauce
- It was super fast
- Did I mention everything had great flavor?
- It’s small, a bit grungy, and totally full of charm
The Tamale House isn’t fancy, it isn’t trendy, it isn’t new, but it IS cheap and it’s good. Get the huevos (and a taco or two).
Original Post: July 25, 2007
Yesterday morning we made it out of bed bright and early and set out for Suzhou, a smaller city about 2 hours east of Shanghai. Suzhou is famous for it’s freshwater pearls, but it also has a large museum and a few Unesco World Heritage gardens. Mr. Shin dropped us off at the start of the main pedestrian walkway where we were immediately bombarded by touts who wanted us to take a ride in their boats. Suzhou is a canal town, more like Amsterdam than Venice, and there are a lot of little boats you can take. We declined and instead went right to the museum. It was a new building and had a beautiful courtyard with a fishpond and bamboo gardens. The museum is mostly artifacts and was very nice, but the highlight was that it also included an entrance ticket into the Mansion of Prince Zhong. This was an old palace that has dozens of courtyards and rooms, many of which have old furniture on display or have been resorted to look as they would have 1,000 years ago. There was a huge area with a theater room, a temple room, and a whole bunch of other stuff that I couldn’t understand because there were no English signs, so we had to just do the best to infer some meaning from what we saw.
After the museum we walked up the road to the Humble Administrator’s Garden, which was rather expensive (for China) but enormous. It’s one of the Unesco gardens and is very popular with the Chinese tourists, although we did see a few other foreigners there. These gardens have large ponds filled with lotus flowers, little bridges and walkways that run throughout the garden, a variety of temples and small pagodas, a bonsai garden, and a little hut where you can get a can of beer for 25 cents. It was beautiful, but it was 95 degrees out and super humid, so we were roasting after about an hour. We managed to wander around for a while, but we ultimately gave in to the heat and called Mr. Shin to come and pick us up.
After we left Suzhou we headed out to Tong-Li, an ancient water-town (that you have to pay to get into…?) that was only about 30 minutes away. We decided to stop and have a real Chinese lunch at a non-western restaurant. Mr. Shin came in and helped us since there was no English menu. We ordered a fish (they brought it out live in a plastic bag for us to look at before they cooked it), a chicken, some sweet pork and peppers, some cooked vegetables, and some dumplings. All of it was rather good, though the chicken came with head and feet still attached. The fish was basically cooked whole and sliced open and you just had to pull it apart with the chopsticks, which was incredibly difficult.
When we finished lunch we headed out to wander around the town. There are a lot of old mansions, and little museums to explore, but it was mostly nice to just walk around the streets and watch people. There are all kinds of little canals here, this village looks more like Venice, and you can hire a boat to take you around. At one point we saw a little fishing boat that uses these big birds to fish. They tie a string around the bird’s neck so it can’t fully swallow, and then they make it (don’t ask me how) dive down and get a fish. When it comes back up the fisherman grabs the bird by the neck, flips it upside down, and forces the fish out.
These towns are easy to get to by car, though I’m fairly certain you can take a train or a bus directly from Shanghai. They are definitely worth a visit, especially if the weather is cooperative.
Original Post: July 24, 2007
On our way home from shopping the other day, we stopped by Carrefour, the huge local grocery store. It’s like a super Wal-Mart with all kinds of items for the house, yard, and a full grocery section. I have to say, there is some strange stuff in that store. There were dozens of fruits and veggies I’ve never seen, you can buy live sea creatures for dinner – they have big tanks of fish, turtles, frogs, eels, and more creatures that I couldn’t identify. While we were standing there one of the fish leaped out of the tank and was flopping all over the floor.
They also have HUGE vats of rice, you just get a bag and fill up as much as you need. Next to the rice vats is a whole isle devoted entirely to soy sauce, akin to our salad dressing section.
There’s a prepared food section as well with loads of tasty looking dumplings and rolls, we picked up a few to have for dinner tonight, though we are less than clear on what exactly is inside them.