Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Taiwanese pineapple cakes are a type of shortbread pastry filled with sweet caramelized pineapple. Open since 2008, Taipei’s SunnyHills Pineapple Cakes is known for having the best the city has to offer. Customers enjoy a cup of tea with their complimentary pineapple cake while relaxing in the shop’s quaint ambience. Here to tell us about SunnyHills Pineapple Cakes is Joan and K.F. Seetoh

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Chef Ivy Chen of Ivy’s Kitchen in Taipei shows Steve Jilleba how to make Taiwanese Stir Fried Water Lily. Water lily grows in fresh water and can grow several meters long. She heats oil in a wok and adds garlic, and the water lily, which has been sliced into 2-inch pieces. When the water lily turns bright green it is seasoned with salt and served.

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KF Seetoh takes us to Taipei’s Wu Pao Chun Bakery where he talks with owner and award-winning baker Wu Pao Chun. Wu Pao Chun was awarded Master Baker in the bread category of the 2010 Bakery Masters competition held in Paris, and his Rose and Lychee Bread and Red Wine Longan Bread have won numerous medals in world bread making competitions.

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Chef Ivy Chen of Ivy’s Kitchen in Taipei shows Steve Jilleba how to steam big eye snapper and grunt that has been marinated in ginger and green onions. She adds shredded ginger, pickled plum cordia before placing the fish in a bamboo steamer for 10 minutes.

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Ivy Chen of Ivy’s Kitchen, has been teaching Taiwanese cooking at the Community Services Center in Taipei for more than fifteen years. She also writes articles about food for several magazines. Here she shows Steve Jilleba how to make a classic Taiwanese dish: Black Chicken Soup with Bamboo Shoots and Mushrooms. She uses special Taiwanese chicken with black meat, which she simmers for about 25 minutes with morels, shiitake, ginger, fresh bamboo, and rice wine.

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At Chef André Chiang’s RAW, next generation chefs re-interpret classic Taiwanese flavors. We talk with chefs and restaurant partners Alain Huang and Zor Tan about elevating Taiwan’s seasonal produce through their innovative creations. The 60-seat restaurant serves a vibrant “bistronomy” cuisine, a new wave of cooking style born in Paris, offering experimental haute cuisine at a reasonable price. They demonstrate for us how to make their dish “All About Duck”: Duck liver, duck heart, duck breast, Taiwanese red quinoa, and barley served with duck liver soup. Their dish “Taco Tako T.A.C.O.S.” is an octopus “taco” with a mini spring onion pancake, quail egg, cabbage and avocado. The next dish is called “Onion Onion Onion” made with zucchini puree topped with smoked fish, fermented black beans, pearl onions cooked in apple juice, uni, spring onion oil, and chives. For dessert, they show us how they make Mango Tartar with a Meringue Snow Ball and Milk Snow.

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Fu Hang Dou Jiang Restaurant is an enormously popular breakfast spot in Taipei. Here to tell us about their famous Taiwanese breakfast offerings are Joan and K.F. Seetoh. The thick shaobing, a sesame flatbread, is their most famous dish. The shaobing youtiao is a classic breakfast sandwich filled with fried dough. They also serve freshly made hot or cold soy milk, savory soy milk stew, scrambled egg and green onion crepes called dan bing, and flaky pastries filled with shredded radish or caramel.

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Founded in 1977 by Lee Xiu Ying, Shin Yeh Restaurant serves classic Taiwanese banquet style cuisine. Chef Lee Xiu Ying started her restaurant wanting to serve traditional comfort food to families. Joan and K.F. Seetoh take us to the restaurant’s kitchen and show us their Three Cup Chicken, Stir Fried Taro Leaves, and Steamed Buns Filled with Pork Belly, Chili, and Salted Vegetables.

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Mume Restaurant in Taipei serves produce-driven modern western cuisine, and was founded by Hong Kong born Chef Richie Lin, Australian Chef Kai Ward and Asian American Chef Long Xiong. Together this chef trio brings to Taipei their experiences from Noma in Denmark, Per Se in New York and Quay in Sydney. They show us Taiwanese specialties Crispy Amadai with Red Pepper Sauce and Taiwanese Beef Tartar and more.

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Churrasco is Brazil’s version of cowboy barbecue. Invented by the gauchos, the Brazilian horsemen who herded cattle in the Rio Grande do Sul region of Southern Brazil, Churrasco was originally a method of spit roasting cuts of meat by the fire. Today, the steakhouse style restaurants continuing this tradition of cowboy cooking are known as Churrascarias. Enormous automated charcoal and wood rotisseries have replaced the outdoor fire pits, but the slow roasting and basting process remains much as it was nearly two centuries ago. 

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Any discussion of Brazil’s iconic dishes is incomplete without an in-depth look at the country’s national dish- feijoada completa. Feijoada is more than just a bean stew… it is a cultural rite of passage. Opting for a taste of carioca style feijoada, we travel to Ipanema to pay a visit to a true Rio classic - Chef Gilberto Araújo’s Casa da Feijoada. Many legends mistakenly attribute feijoada to the slave kitchen, but the Portuguese consumed feijoada before they ever colonized Brazil. Feijoada completa refers to the “whole meal,” served with the principal dish of stewed beans cooked with 11 different types of smoked or cured pork meats, and sausages.

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Few comfort foods come as close to Nirvana as the moquecas of Bahia– clay pot seafood stews thickened with coconut milk– seasoned with dendé oil, yellow onion, tomato, and green bell pepper and cilantro. Whether it is freshly caught fish like cavala, shrimp, octopus, or lobster, or homemade coconut milk and dendé oil, the secret to a perfect moqueca lies in the freshness of the ingredients. Jan our dendé and farinha guide, assures us that his sister-in-law, Claudete, prepares the best moqueca in all of Bahia.

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We walk to a rustic farinha house where the owners, Roberto and Maria, have gathered for communal farinha processing.  This gathering known as a farinhada will produce enough manioc flour to sustain their small neighborhood for the next several weeks. Having harvested the manioc roots early that morning, two members of the group work in tandem to peel the tough skin with sharp knives.

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Our tour begins at the Ceasa Market in Salvador’s Rio Vermelho district where Veve Bragança provides a crash course in the Nordeste pantry – from manteiga de garrafa, a type of clarified butter used to season manioc purees, to specialty manioc flours called farinhas and the toasted manioc flour known as farofas differing in grain size and texture… to dishes like hard to find dishes like maniçoba made from boiled manioc leaves that have released their toxins… cooked with calabresa sausage, charque, cured salpresa pork, bacon, and smoked chorizo.

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Another popular address for locals who appreciate good food is Tordesilhas where Mara Salles advocates the preservation and elevation of native Brazilian ingredients. Located in the bustling Rua Bela Cintra area of Sao Paulo, the restaurant serves up some of regional Brazil’s more obscure dishes - many of which descend from indigenous and colonial traditions. The restaurant’s name, Tordesilhas, references a treaty signed in1494 between Portugal and Spain, marking the boundaries of their newly claimed lands in the America.

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Sao Paulo native, Alex Atala symbolizes the city’s multi-ethnic heritage as an Irish Lebanese Brazilian. Chef Atala’s DOM restaurant is regarded by many critics as the best in Brazil, and rated number 24 on the world’s 50 best restaurant’s list, according to San Pellegrino’s annual rating. Atala’s cooking combines intriguing Amazonian flavors with ultra-modern techniques… all filtered through the artful lens of haute cuisine.

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During our tour of Sao Paulo’s Mercado Municipal, we get an introduction to the ingredients that comprise Brazil’s diverse culinary traditions. From salted pork and beef products like air-dried cuts of carne seca – essential for making Brazil’s feijoada complete, to row upon row of fresh seafood, mollusks, and fish– the Mercado Municipal has something for everyone.

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This is Brazil…From the Amazon’s endless verdant jungle where thousands of serpentine tributaries converge to form the world’s largest river… teaming with rare fish, and exotic fruits…To the sophisticated and cosmopolitan metropolis of Sao Paulo, with its infinite sprawl of skyscrapers, ethnic neighborhoods, and chic dining scenes. Take a stroll through downtown Sao Paulo and this ethnic diversity is easy to see in the beautiful, multi-cultural faces of the city’s residents who call themselves paulistas. In all its incarnations, Brazil is as massive as it is majestic. 

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The Incas considered the fertile valley of the Urubamba River to be a sacred place. One legend claims that the sun refreshes itself at night in the chilly waters underneath the river. The lush grasslands of this high plateau support sheep and grain production, and the mountain backdrop provides the ideal setting for an authentic pachamanca, or Andean pit roast. Usually undertaken at harvest time, as a thank-you to Pacha Mama, or Mother Earth, a full-scale pachamanca, is a major endeavor that engages the entire community. For his visiting American guests, Chef Pio Vasquez of El Huacatay restaurant in the town of Urubamba has orchestrated a pachamanca out of season, on a friend’s farm in the picturesque Sacred Valley.

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The majestic Peruvian Andes stretch the length of Peru and have witnessed the rise and fall of many civilizations. By 3000 BC, highlanders were cultivating a wide range of crops in this difficult landscape—hardy, life-sustaining foods such as gourds, corn, potatoes and quinoa. Potatoes provide the foundation of the Andean diet, and varieties number in the thousands. A stroll through the Cusco market provides a glimpse of the tantalizing potato options: at some stalls, the selections extend almost as far as the eye can see.

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