An Asian inspired Salad with a Wasabi Mirin Dressing

An Asian inspired Salad
with a Wasabi Mirin Dressing

This sumptuous salad has been a favourite in my home with family and friends this summer. It is light and exotically fruity with a hint of spice from the threads of Julienne ginger intertwined among fresh herbs and cooling cucumber. I serve this salad with grilled Ahi tuna gently marinated in sesame oil and Chinese five-spice, grilled limes, wasabi mayonnaise, and perhaps jasmine rice. Hope you enjoy it too!

Madame Marmalade Food & Travel - Asian inspired Salad with a Wasabi Mirin Dressing

You will need
For the Salad
a  generous handful each of fresh coriander leaves, mint leaves and Thai basil leaves
1 mini cucumber
1 green onion
ginger root
1/2  ripe but fairly firm mango
1 heap tbs of peanuts

For the Dressing
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp peanut oil
2 tsp mirin
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2  tsp lime juice
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp Wasabi paste

Method

First, mix all of the dressing ingredients together thoroughly and set aside to allow the flavours to infuse. Take the coriander, mint and Thai basil and gently pull the leaves from the stems and roughly chop. Now the onion. Cut into thirds then cut lengthways into thin Julienne strips. Thinly slice the cucumber and a long piece of ginger, a mandible works best for this, then slice the ginger into Julienne strips. Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the mango and cut the flesh into thin slices.  Arrange the salad ingredients on serving plates, spoon the dressing over the salad and sprinkle with chopped peanuts.

Serves 4

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El Jardin del Califa | Vejer

It is a rare thing for me to miss an opportunity to visit the little town of Vejer de la Frontera whenever I’m in Andalucia. To visit this region of Spain is to reminisce the pages of Paulo Coelho’s fable, The Alchemist. I recall in the early chapters how Santiago the Shepard boy, looked out from the green pastures of Andalucia, over the Strait of Gibraltar towards Tangiers dreaming of adventure and finding his treasure in the distant Arabian lands. The Moorish Arabs occupied Southern Spain for almost 700 years, of course, and Vejer is one of many places in Andalucia where Arabian and Spanish cultures intertwine. I am forever an admirer of the Spanish climate and culture: leisurely warmth, laid-back, unhurried living and the Moorish love of symmetry and intricate design, and of cuisines prepared to bedazzle. This fusion of two worlds in this region is the reasons I never tire of coming here.

Perched high on a hilltop, Vejer is a quintessential Spanish town which looks like icing on a cupcake from below. It’s early spring, and the sun is already high, stark, and casts chiaroscuro light and deep shadows on the brilliantly whitewashed edificios. We venture up the steep, winding, narrow roads heading to our destination: El Jardin del Califa. Entering at street level the lobby is as whitewashed as its exterior. Following the stairway, however, you are lead down towards the intriguing cavernous depths of this 16th-century building, passing stone vaulted wine cellars leading to the dining areas.

The hotel and restaurants display Moorish and Spanish accents throughout; lanterns, rugs and tapestries add to the ambience. You’ll find an express restaurant at street level, a bar, restaurant and a teteria – tea shop – and, of course, the palm tree-filled-walled gardenAs with the decor, the menu is an exquisite menage of Arabian and Southern Spanish dishes: Tagines (naturally), jewel-coloured couscous dishes, barbequed meats and fish and classic meze starters.

In the spirit of Moorish opulence, we dine on meze sharing platters, an exceptional beet salad with whipped feta, spiced roast lamb with grilled aubergine infused with almond crumb and rosewater, completing our meal with baklava and a classic Moroccan mint tea. The hotel terrace gives way to expansive vistas of the surrounding countryside and out to sea where the Mediterranean opens herself to the Atlantic. I image myself here at dusk, sipping a vino de narañja, soaking in history while watching the sun setting over this beautiful part of the world. How magical that would be.


 

 

El Jardin del Califa

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Beautiful travel stories for the armchair adventurer

Although this year so far has taken me to Sweden (post to come later), the UK twice and Spain for a birthday celebration, my focus for the rest of the year will be on hearth and home, creating a family retreat in the English countryside; a little cottage surrounded by woods and daffodil fields not too far from beautiful beaches.

So this month’s post takes a slightly different turn; aside from my usual format, I want, instead, to share with you a small selection of articles from some of my favourite travel magazines.

Some of the articles listed here are of places still on my bucket list for future exploration, and others are familiar to me; past journeys rich with memories of pinnacle moments in my life. So, find your comfortable reading place, relax and enjoy.

Paris in the steps of Simone de Beauvoir

This article reminds me so much of my first trip to the city of love many years back with my boyfriend at the time. And as quoted in the article; I too was young, young, young, smoked cigarettes and fell in love in Paris. Of course, being in the city of romance, that same boyfriend took the opportunity to propose atop the Eiffel Tower. We have been together ever since.

This article, however, aims toward a different kind of love; the love of books and takes us on a trip through the celebrated haunts of many literary icons.

The Geography of Happiness

This is by far my favourite magazine for travel literature. Every article is exquisitely written, and accompanied by clear, uncluttered imagery in a style all its own. It’s hard to pick just one article to share, however, the words of writer Richard Aslan send me to an ethereal place every time I read his words. This article is about what is said to be the happiest place on earth: Butan.

Aswan: The Great Divide

Anthony Sattin is an author and journalist specialising in travel and history. His writing usually focuses on off-piste journeys through the middle east, on which he has written several books and is a regular contributor to Conde Nast Traveller. I often dream of an old style slow cruise down the Nile, and Sattin’s words evoke vibrant mental images of the culture and lavish history along the Nile river and the countries along its banks.

Time in the Limestone hills

Toast is a fashion company with an online magazine of the same name. The magazine is presented in a beautifully gentle way and focuses on artisan makers from the UK and the world over. Its Travel and Place section is a favourite read of mine, from which I am sharing this article with you. Jessica Seaton, the company’s co-founder, has also written a delightful cookbook called Gather, Cook, Feast, which focuses on foraging and seasonal eating.

Virginia Woolf – To the lighthouse

I said it was hard to choose just one article by Richard Aslan, so here is another. The aforementioned property which we recently purchased, is in the area in which this story is set. Cornwall, UK is a favourite holiday destination for Brits and a muse for many artists and writers. In this article, Aslan ponders the childhood memories of Virginia Woolf’s family holidays in Cornwall. The lighthouse in this story also holds fond memories for my husband, whose childhood home overlooked Godrevy.

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Reflections of Mexico…

Reflections of Mexico and a Mexican Salad Recipe

Madame Marmalade Food & Travel - Mexican Fruit Salad

A few years ago now, while living in Vancouver, my family decided it was time for a life sabbatical. Back then, my husband and I each had our own businesses, and although to the outside world we had achieved material success, life felt overwhelming, joyless and frantic with little time for each other, our family or for fun. We were burnt out and in need of drastic change.
So, to make a long story brief, we sold our businesses, packed camping gear and our dog into our jeep, registered our son for homeschooling and drove down the west coast of North America from Vancouver, Canada to Baja, Mexico.
That journey was one of the best things we had ever done for ourselves: escaping a society that says you have to live this way, own this much, achieve that. Driving away from that world was so freeing, so liberating, and ignited a time of decompression, replenishment and overcoming dreams never fulfilled.
We haven’t looked at life in the same way since. During that winter we met incredibly interesting people who lived life on their own terms and defined their own successes. But most importantly, we reconnected as a family and stripped away excesses which previously seemed so necessary.
On the beachfront campsite where we stayed in Baja for almost seven months, local vendors would walk through the grounds selling their wears; Mexican blankets, jewellery, empanadas, seafood. A local farmer would park up in his small pickup truck laden with fresh fruits and vegetables. The back his truck looked like a mini tropical oasis in that dusty desert campsite: vibrantly colourful, full of voluptuous fruits and vegetables.
This recipe always reminds me of that wonderfully, free-spirited winter; living simply, eating foods from local producers and the fresh catch of the day, enjoying the company of like-minded souls, and basking in the sun and the sea.
I highly recommend seeking a life awakening journey of your own, finding stillness and rediscovering what is most important in your life.
The proportions for this salad can be as much or little as you like. No rules here, just simply enjoy!

 

You will need
Water melon
Mango
Pineapple
Chilli powder
Natural Greek-style yoghurt
Dried Jamaica petals
Sea salt
Method
Slice the fruits and  arrange on a large plate and dust with a little chilli powder and sprinkle the with sea salt. To create the Jamaica yoghurt dip, scoop natural yoghurt into a bowl, sprinkle with Jamaica petals, let is sit for a for a minute or two before giving it a gentle stir to create swirls of colour.
Dip a piece of fruit into the yoghurt before devouring its sweet juiciness.
Madame Marmalade Food & Travel - Baja, Mexico
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Rome | Italy

Rome | La città eterna

Rome is a city that barely needs an introduction. Walking through Rome’s cobbled streets, history oozes from every pore of its stylishly dilapidated dusky pink and terracotta buildings. It’s a city that is intimate yet grand and is in absolutely no hurry. With evidence of occupation in the area of Rome dating back 14,000 years, Rome truly earns the moniker La città eterna, the eternal city.

We started our all too short trip to Rome with lunch at a small Taverna, frequented by locals and clergy, steps away from the Saint Peter’s Basilica. What we thought would be a quick lunch before launching into sightseeing, turned out to be a superb ten-course affair only the Italians know how to do. Plate after plate arrived at our table; risotto, ravioli, grilled seafood including lobster, sorbets, desserts, wines and digestives, traditional dishes simply presented yet utterly mouth-watering, and at very reasonable prices.

Along Rome’s ancient cityscape two of many iconic landmarks attract tourists amass: Vespasian’s Colosseum is the beating heart of Rome, and one of the most recognised ancient monuments in the world. Vespasian–the eighth emperor of Rome–wanted to show his devotion to his people, and so sponsored the Colosseum as a great venue for entertainment. As the centre of Catholicism, the Vatican has for centuries been a place not only for Christian pilgrimage but also an artistic pilgrimage. The lavishly decorated Vatican museums, including its halls and corridors, house the largest collection of ancient Roman artefacts in the world, plus works ranging from the ancient Egyptians through to the Renaissance.

With centuries of history surrounding you, Rome is a living, breathing museum; a place of classic ruins, stunning baroque fountains, outstanding art, architecture and places of worship, both early Christian and more recently the Mosque of Rome–the largest Mosque in western Europe. Rome is a city that deserves your time and unwavering attention. It should be absorbed very slowly, little by little.

Where to Eat and Drink

Taverna Varrone

I Quattro Mori

Enoteca Il Piccolo

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Chipsi Mayai | Recipe

Chipsi Mayai a Tanzanian inspired omelette

This was a meal I had when I first arrived on the Zanzibar archipelago. And although it is quite a simple dish, it was a very welcoming lunch after a long flight from Germany. You could call this dish a Tanzanian version of egg and chips; but eating this while looking out across white sandy beaches and crystal blue seas under glorious sunshine, gives these rudimentary ingredients a different character altogether.

This dish is very popular all over Zanzibar, and indeed mainland Tanzania. Eggs and fried potatoes are the base ingredients, but occasionally finely chopped red peppers and onions are added for a bit of variety.

For my version, I’m substituting the usual yellow potatoes with sweet potatoes, and garnish with fresh coriander and Thai basil, herbs which are used in abundance across the islands in a variety of dishes. The use of these delicious herbs teases out the sweetness of the potatoes, and also adds a hint of complexity to the flavour.
Although its a very simple dish, I’m sure you will find it incredibly satisfying and, of course, it’s really easy to make.

You will need
1 medium sweet potato
4 large eggs
2 spring onions
a handful each of  Thai basil & fresh coriander leaves
2 tbs sunflower oil
black pepper & sea salt to season

Method

Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees celsius.

Peel the sweet potato and cut into thin chips. Place in a bowl of cold salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat the chips dry with paper towel, place them evenly on a baking tray, and brush with 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper, then pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. When they are done, set aside and pre-heat your grill or broiler.

Chop the spring onions, crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork. Take a few basil and coriander leaves, roughly chop and fold into the eggs. In a heavy based frying pan (20 inches in diameter or so) add the remaining oil, and over a med-high heat fry the spring onions until tender but don’t brown. Add the sweet potato chips to the pan in a single layer, then pour over the eggs leaving it to settle. When the eggs start to set around the outside of the pan, place it under the grill for just a minute or two.

Garnish with the remainder of the herbs, and serve with a chopped salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, spring onions and drizzle with a little oil and a squeeze of lime juice.

Serves 2

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Split | Croatia

Split, Croatia

Split | Croatia

We arrive in Split, swept in by coastal winds, signalling the start of autumn. It’s late afternoon, and although only partially visible through altostratus cloud, the sun still offers its welcoming warmth.

The romance of Split’s distinctive location has seen film crews arriving in hordes to capitalise on the sparkling seas, beautiful coastlines, sun-drenched beaches and pristine historical architecture, culminating in world recognition and a huge boost in tourism. 

The city of Split is the largest in the Dalmatian region, laying on the eastern shore of the Adriatic sea linked to the Adriatic islands and the Apennine Peninsula. This beguiling city is small enough to be walkable, yet large enough to fill a long weekend. Old Split is dominated by the Palace of Diocletian, which forms about half of the old city, and is the main point of attraction for the tourists and history buffs who now flock here. 

Split’s small marina and port is a cruise ship stop-off, bringing cruise tourists into the city in droves. From the promenade, looking out to sea, the marina extends out to the right, where I see yachts and boats, large and small, bob and roll with the increasing swell of the incoming storm. As the winds whip up, the vendors batten down, and our tour is cut short by winds reaching 35 mph, and waves breaking forcefully onto the promenade. We head down narrow alleys to Galeria cafe to wait out the storm.

Venturing through the labyrinthine streets of the palace and old town, you are met with pure visual pleasure. The architecture of the old town is a mix of Roman palatial and Venetian. Narrow alleyways lead into tiny courtyards cast deep shadows and protective shade from the oppressive heat in summer.

On our last day, the winds calm and sun rays break through the cloud, twinkling its buttery, autumn light over the Adriatic. Although the weather wasn’t favourable during most of our trip, it in no way lessened our enjoyment of Split. We head to the promenade for coffee and a very Croatian pass time: fjaka, the fine art of doing absolutely nothing.

See
The Palace of Diocletian
The original ground plan of the palace, an irregular rectangular design sits on a small bay, latitude 43.5086 N, longitude 16.4403 E, in the Roman province of Dalmatia. The Palace of Diocletian is a stunning, well-preserved example of Roman palatial architecture representing traditional half Greek and half Byzantine styles. Built for the Roman emperor Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus who found himself this nice little spot in which to retire from Roman imperial life. Built between 295 and 305c, the palace forms about half of the old city. 

Thick stone walls are punctuated by four magnificent gateways: Porta ferrea (iron gate) on the western side, Porta argentea (silver gate) on the eastern side, and Porta aurea (golden gate) are on the northern side and the site of the giant statue of medieval Croatian bishop, Grgur Ninski. The southern, fourth gate is less elaborate and said to have been used mainly as a service entrance. Abandoned after the death of Diocletian only ten years after its completion, the palace was left in ruins for centuries until, in the 1700s, Scottish architect Robert Adams happened upon the ruins, bringing the palace once more into European awareness.

Mayan Forest Park
Take a walk up to the Mayan forest park lookout point where tourists begin to peter away, and take in the stunning views over the city, the harbour and across the shimmering Adriatic all framed by a mountain backdrop. Venture further up and you will come across the tiny church of St. Nicholas. Head into the forest, and you will eventually stumble upon caves and churches built directly into the rocks.

Cathedral of St. Domnius
For top-down views across the red-tiled rooftops of Split, a climb up the bell tower is worth vertigo. The stone steps at the base of the tower are fairly steep and narrow, so expect a bit of a climb. 

Vestibul
Head to the open-air vestibule next to the Peristil, and enjoy a choir singing beautiful traditional Dalmatian Klapa songs.

Gallery of Fine Art
Founded in 1931 the gallery contains works from the 14th century up until the present day, exhibiting paintings and sculptures from major Croatian artists.

Peristil
Take a seat on the steps of the Peristil, order your favourite beverage from a waiter at Lvxor restaurant, and be entertained by musicians. This is a perfect way to end an evening. Music starts at 8pm until midnight every night. 

Eat
The food of Split is a beautiful menage of the cultures which have dominated this city at one time or another. Venetian, Hungarian, Turkish, Greek and Roman are all characterised in traditional Dalmatian cuisine.

Makarun
Makarun was recommended to us by our host, and I have to say the best restaurant we ate at in Split. Freshly grilled local seafood, amazing Croatian wines, succulent meat dishes and great service.

Zinfandel
Fantastic selection of Croatian wines, accompanied by a stunning tapas style menu.

Paradox Wine and Cheese
If you are remotely intrigued by Croatia’s wine and produce industry, then head to Paradox to be educated. They have a vast selection of Croatian wines and cheeses on the menu, and your sommelier will recommend a perfect match for you.

Uje Oil Bar
Offers a unique concept based around olive oil, local and worldwide. Their menu is tradition Dalmatian regional cuisine with a modern twist and every dish from appetisers to desserts contain olive oil. Oil tasting classes and boutique shopping are also available.

Coffee and cocktails
Galeria cafe/bar
Located in a quaint narrow courtyard close to the Golden gate (see our cover image), this was our favourite place for coffee and pre-dinner cocktails.  

Stay
We stayed at the Grisogono Palace Apartment, a beautiful apartment in the heart of the Diocletian Palace over looking the Peristil.

 

Video of Split by Madame Marmalade Food & Travel

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Snowy Ladoo with Cointreau and Coconut

I’m not sure whether or not this recipe can technically be called Ladoo–Indian sweet snacks made from dried fruit, nuts or Gram flour–as the method I’m using doesn’t involve cooking with condensed milk or ghee.

Instead, I’m using orange juice to bind the ingredients together, and a splash of Cointreau to give these snacks a bit of boozy zing. Simply omit the Cointreau if you are making them for children, it takes nothing away from the deliciously zesty, marzipan flavours. They also make quick and easy edible gifts for the holidays.

You Will Need
150g Almond Meal 
5 tsp Fine White Sugar
3 tsp Cointreau 
1 Small Orange – Juice & Zest
4 tbs Desiccated Coconut
2 tbs Confectioners/Icing Sugar

Method

Put the almond meal, white sugar and zest of half the orange in a bowl and mix well. Next, add the Cointreau and a tablespoon of the orange juice and combine. Add another tablespoon of orange juice and start forming into a ball. If you need to add a little more juice do so slowly adding a little at a time, so as not to make the mixture too wet.

Spread the desiccated coconut and confectioners/icing sugar onto a plate (leave a little extra for dusting). Take a tablespoon of the Ladoo mixture, squeeze together to form a paste, then roll into a ball between the palms of your hands. Roll the ball around in the coconut covering completely. Repeat the process until you have 10-12 Ladoo. Dust with a little extra confectioners sugar just before serving.

Simply double-up on all of the ingredients to make more. The Ladoo will keep in the fridge, covered, for about a week. 

Makes 10-12

 

Here’s a seasonal  punch recipe you might also enjoy.

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Moustiers Sainte Marie | Provence

The most beautiful Village in Provence

From the western side of the Gorges du Verdon, heading towards the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence sits a little village on a hillside plateau said to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of France.

Famed for centuries as a producer of Faïence pottery, Moustiers Sainte Marie is a village with a dwindling population which was once in the thousands, but now in the hundreds. The village is a tourists magnet where visitors are romanced by the quaint boutique shops abundant with local crafts, charcuteries selling fabulous vine wrapped cheeses, locally cured meats, wines and olive oils and, of course, the cutest little restaurants.

Ascending the sloped streets of this quintessential Provençal village, you are met with a soft colour palette, charming shuttered dwellings and a cascading waterfall which threads right through the centre of the village.

Take the precarious path up towards the Chapelle Notre Dame de Beauvoir to get top-down vistas of the village, surrounding countryside and Lac de Sainte Croix in the near distant Gorges du Verdon.

During sunset, this beautiful village is awash in the most stunning shades of peach and pink sustaining its reputation as a place of alluring beauty and romance.

 

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Creamy Chestnut Soup | Recipe

Creamy Chestnut Soup with Mushroom Croutons & Fried Sage Leaves

Although I’ve been living here in Hamburg for a couple of years now, I find that I rarely cook German recipes.

German cuisine, much like British, gets a pretty bad rap. And that’s a real shame, because there is a tantalising selection of traditional German dishes just itching to be discovered: Labskaus, Spätzle, Veal Schnitzel, and, of course, Sauerkraut, whose health benefits are equal to that of the popular Kimchi, are better known German foods, and are as tasty as any of the more popular cuisines.

Chestnuts are also included in traditional German cooking. Often foraged during the cooler months, these versatile brown gems – which were introduced into Germany by the Romans along with grapes and asparagus – are an integral part of traditional German home cooking, Hausmanskost. Roasted as a snack in winter, served with Brussels sprouts or braised red cabbage, made into jams, ground into flour for baking (try my Chestnut flour Walnut bread) and, added to stews and soups.

This is my interpretation of the traditional German chestnut soup. It’s comforting and incredibly simple to make. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken, and you will create an equally delicious vegetarian version. Guten Appetit!

You Will Need
1 Can Chestnuts Drained – 280g or there about 
1 Celery Stick – Chopped
1 Shallot – Chopped
2 Portobello Mushrooms – Chopped, half for the soup, half for croutons
2 Cloves Garlic Crushed – 1 for soup, 1 for croutons
12 Sage Leaves – 4 Chopped for the Soup, the remainder left whole for frying
300ml Chicken or Vegetable Broth
1 tsp – Celery Salt
1/2 tsp – Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp – Ground Nutmeg, plus extra for garnish 
Olive Oil
100ml Cooking Cream 

Method

Heat a large heavy based pan over a med-high heat, then add a generous glug of olive oil. Add the chopped shallot, celery and 1 crushed clove of garlic to the pan, cook until softened but not browned. Add half of the chopped mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more before adding the chopped sage leaves, nutmeg, celery salt and pepper. Add the chestnuts and combine them with the other ingredients and cook for a few minutes more. Next add the broth, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes to allow all of the flavours to infuse. Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and set aside to cool for a minute or two, before blending thoroughly with a stick blender.

Put 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil into a heated frying pan, add the remainder of the garlic and mushrooms, and fry over a highish heat until the mushrooms are dark golden brown and slightly crispy. Set aside.

Pop a clean pan over a high heat, add a generous amount of olive oil, when the oil is hot fry the sage leaves. This will only take a minute or two.

Ladle the soup into four individual bowls, and carefully spoon on the mushroom croutons. Serve with the fried sage leaves and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg.

Serves 4

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