How to buy fresh oysters directly from the producer in Bouzigues

I’m all about fresh local ingredients so when we were in the south of France, I absolutely had to visit Bouzigues to buy the town’s famous oysters and have a picnic on the beach.

We didn’t have a plan of action of how we were going to do this. We just thought we would drive into Bouzigues and cycle around until we found some oysters! Luckily it worked.

Where to find the oysters

Etang de Thau (or Bassin de Thau) are lagoons that stretch along the southern French coast.

These waters are home to the region’s oysters farms and Bouzigues is renowned for its quality producers.

We hopped on our bikes and pedalled towards the sea until finally, on the coastal road D158, we found a number of sellers.

We went to Earl Le Mas d’Argent https://www.facebook.com/earl.lemasdargent/

They were still open at 7pm.

The choices

I discovered that there was no difference in the quality of the oysters, just the sizes. Small, medium and large, ranging from 4.60 Euros to 6.60 Euros per dozen.

Bouzigues oysters

What to buy

It’s a good idea to buy a shucking knife, some ice and wine. I found buying wine from the oyster seller guaruntees that the wine will go well with your oysters, which is handy if you are not sure how to pair food and wine.

When to buy

The best time to buy fresh oysters is when the waters are cooler from September to April.

Get to know your oysters

You can arrange an oyster producer visit and tasting with Earl Huitres Bouzigues http://www.huitres-bouzigues.com/visite.html

 

Bouzigues oysters come from a salty lagoon next to the sea. They are fat, juicy and incredibly tasty.

Check out the video to find out more!

The ulitmate tip in budget dining in Germany

Germany can be an expensive place to eat out in, especially Frankfurt, which is multicultural bussiness city with high-priced restaurants and wine bars.

I love to head off the beaten track into the nearby Rheingau region where local wine producers open their doors to the public to offer their wine and hearty meals for rock bottom prices.

Wine taverns or straußvirtschafts are where it’s at! ……Check out my video where I visit one in Wicker and give you all the details you need to find one when you’re next in the area of Hessen. 🙂 Enjoy! You can also head to my Youtube channel click here to see more travel videos.

 

Must-do in Germany: Buying wine and liqueur at the fruit farm :)

Hey guys.

I have been trying out video productions of my adventures!

I thought you might like to see a German fruit farm. It’s called an obsthof and it’s a really great way to experience German culture and local specialities on your travels because the obsthof sells not only local fruit but also products, such as schnapps, liqueur, sparkling wine, wine, juice and jams.

I went to this one in Hessen. It’s called Osthof Am Berg but if you Google obsthof and your location I am sure you will be able to find the nearest one to you.

Enjoy!

If you think ‘mmm that wasn’t so bad, I’d like to see more’ check out my YouTube channel. Click here

 

 

How to eat fresh and local in Gran Canaria – the foodie adventure!

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We have been having some seriously good eats in Gran Canaria!

I am a total foodie and so far the restaurant offerings on the island are yet to impress me. It is so hard to get away from flavourless dishes, ‘tourist food’ and meals that go ‘ping’. Yes, it’s true there are restaurants out here that think people want to eat out on microwave meals! The easiest way to spot these bad boys is to check that there is actually a kitchen. If there is a menu and no kitchen…well you know what is going on.

Our most memorable food adventures have come from exploring the markets and the harbour.

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Our favourite place to get fresh fruit and vegetables is San Mateo Farmers Market in the north of the island. It is open on the weekends from 7am to 7pm, on Saturday, and 7am to 2pm, on Sunday.

Gran Canaria’s  main products include tomatoes, bananas and aloe vera. So get hold of these when you see them because the quality is top notch.

We stocked up on sweet peppers, oranges, carrots, sugar apples, avocados, onions, lemons, pears, pomegranates, courgettes, strawberries, spices, fresh herbs, Lanzarote wine, cakes and cheese. The prices are cheaper than in the more touristy areas. The stalls all have different prices so it’s worth shopping around. Also there are lots of cheeses so try before you buy.

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Next stop was to Arguineguin. There is small fish store at the port that sells the catches of the day until 3pm. The variety changes depending on the haul but the quality is always great. Here, we found red snapper, shark, squid, salmon, tuna, sardines and many others selections of fish, which we had no idea what they were because of the language barrier and our lack of knowledge about fish. There was a poster on the wall labelling the fish in Spanish…

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The harbour is a working place. Fishermen sort out their equipment and engineers work on boats. There is a eating place next door but, like I said, I am yet to be impressed by Gran Canaria’s restaurants.

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So back home and stocked up with the best of Gran Canaria’s produce we cooked like our lives depended on it! Lol!

We fried the fish one morning. It’s a big smelly job. Dip the fish in spiced flour first and then fry. Simples. Those fish were great steamed over onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes (see above).

The paella was a lot more complicated. We found a recipe online and adjusted it to our tastes and it came out a treat.

I keep saying we, but I was merely sous chef and my boyfriend Mario was head chef.

 

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And then came a wonderful tapas meal. We made a salsa, guacamole, grilled courgettes, spiced shrimp, fish, bitter peppers and served it with the wine from Lanzarote.

Everyone was in the kitchen for this one, chopping, frying and seasoning under the direction of the lovely Mario. It was a fun-filled evening that ended with great eating!

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Indulge in very naughty treats at a German Xmas market.

Yay! It’s Christmas Market time in Germany and that means time to spoil yourself rotten.

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If you are going to the markets this season you absolutely have to try these yummy snacks and drinks.

 

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Ladies and gentlemen (not boys and girls) let me introduce to you my new favourite tipple of the festive season….gluhwein!

Basicall it’s hot wine with added spice. Yes, yes in the UK people glug down mulled wine too but as I explored the stalls of Rudesheim Christmas Market and the Romantic Christmas Market in Bad MĂŒnster am Stein-Ebernburg – both very quaint – I was impressed with the creative adaptations…ahem hot cocktails!! My favourite was an apple gluhwein with rum. For the sake of research I sampled quite a few. I tasted a hot chocolate with chocolate liqueur and rum, a red gluhwein, a white gluhwein with vodka and a blueberry gluhwein.

The weather was freezing. It was so cold I couldn’t feel my hands but after a few of these babies, I was certainly feeling a warm fuzz 😉

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gluwein

Next up on my list is another boozy favourite in Germany. I can actually say I have never come across so many flavours of liqueur anywhere else in the world in comparison to the types I’ve seen and tasted here.

Tasty liquor at romantic Christmas Market in Germany

From woodruff to sour cherry. If you can think of the flavour it’s usually available.

On to sweet treats..

chocolate tools at romantic Christmas Market in Germany

Chocolate tools for the man in your life. They were so real looking, I had to try one to make sure they weren’t metal!

chocolate waffle on a stick mmm adventureswithbea

Ahh yes. Simple yet affective. I hail the person who covered a waffle in chocolate and put it on a stick.

So you may be thinking that I just went to a couple of Christmas Markets, drank booze and ate chocolate…

You’d be wrong. I also bought Ani the cat a Santa hat.

Annie in a Santa hat

Nostalgia cooking: awesome homemade German dumplings

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This post is really special because my friend Dagmar has decided to let me tell you all the secrets to her amazing cooking. Dagmar is a talent in the kitchen. She is what I call a slow cook because she relishes creating the kind of dishes that can take days or even weeks to prepare. The creations in her kitchen are nothing short of mini adventures.

parsley choppingDagmar has been friends with my boyfriend, Mario, for many years. Her husband, Hans Peter, and her have practically adopted him as their own. They spoil him rotten with the finest foods. It’s like family and between them food is love.

I moved to Germany to be with Mario, following a crazy decision making process completely driven by love. I had left my life in Thailand behind and there I was in a new country, with a new man, a new home and a new family circle.

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bread veg mixTo be honest I was a little nervous about meeting Dagmar. She must have been wondering who was this woman who has stolen Mario’s heart (he had spent the most part of the year traveling backwards and forwards to Asia). If it was me, I would have been expecting to meet a drop dead gorgeous shining star.

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eggsDagmar invited us over to her home for a dinner. A message came asking whether I wanted traditional German food or something Asian. My thoughts were ‘when in Rome’ so I opted for a German menu and Dagmar came up with a selection of authentic eats. One of those was knoedel (a German dumpling).

There is something about dumplings that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside and when I tasted Dagmar’s knoedel I was instantly transported to my childhood. The soft yet firm texture accompanied by gravy is my ultimate comfort food. It puts you at ease and I needed it. My nerves were saved by knoedel.

We have since spent many a wonderful evening together and now, I too get spoilt rotten.

Yesterday Dagmar wanted to show me how to make knoedel – I am always talking about how it’s my favourite German food of all time.

ballingEvery culture seems to have a version of a dumpling in their cuisine. In England they are made from dough, the Chinese steam them and fill them with pork and in Jamaica dumplings are fried.

The knoedel I love is a Bavarian invention that uses dried up bread as its main ingredient.

Our other ingredients included five onions, three bunches of parsley, a litre of milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and two vegetable stock cubes.

smooth balls

The time consuming part of preparing knoedel comes from the collecting the pieces of bread and drying them. You can use any bread rolls- white, brown, wholewheat or seeded. Cut them up and keep them in a basket or bowl for five days to a week. Make sure you don’t use plastic otherwise the bread will sweat and cause problems.

We used a huge bowl because Dagmar had collected so many bread rolls. About 20. We diced five onions and fried them and chopped up three bunches of fresh parsley. Dagmar said that you can be experimental with other fresh herbs to adapt the flavours. She suggested beer’s garlic or thyme. We sprinkled the mixture over the bread pieces.

We then seasoned a litre of milk with a couple of tablespoons of salt, a few teaspoons of pepper, a vegetable stock cube and we grated a quarter of a nutmeg into it. This mixture was brought to the boil and then poured over the bread to give it a good soaking. We put a towel over it and left it to cool to a touchable temperature.

After that we added seven eggs and then squigded the mixture together. The egg binds the bread together so that you can roll it into balls.

The technique here is important because if you don’t do it right the dumplings will fall apart when you boil them.

The way to do it is squeeze the mixture together into a ball and roll it a few times. Then wet your hands and smooth the surface of the ball seal in the shape.

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Next comes the cooking part. Fill a pot with water and add a vegetable stock cube for extra flavour. When the water is boiling it’s time to add the dumpling balls. The water will stop boiling once the balls are in the pan and if it doesn’t turn down the heat slightly.

The balls will expand and float. Turn them so all sides have contact with the  water. They should be ready in 10 minutes.

dumplings in pots

The great thing about knoedel is it goes with any meat dish. During the winter I love knoedel with lots of gravy or with a stew.

We made 30 dumplings and froze most of them for quick and convenient meals in the future.

finish plate

 

Foraging in the forest for a gourmet meal

Spot the mushrooms among the leaves

Spot the mushrooms among the leaves

Look very carefully among the leaves in the picture above. Can you see the mushrooms? There are four.

How about this one..

Forest mushrooms

There are five mushrooms in this picture.

It just goes to show how difficult it is to spot an edible mushroom growing in the forest.

I went out foraging for porcini mushrooms with some friends in a forest in the Hessen region of Germany.

We found about 100 euros worth of mushrooms in two hours one Sunday morning. As far as our location goes, I can only tell you it was in Hessen because it would be a huge faux pas for me to reveal the exact location – I have been sworn to secrecy. Good spots for collecting is information foragers keep close to their chests, in the same way a truffle-hunter would.

Porcini mushrooms are a delicacy. They have this gorgeous nutty flavour that is awesome in risotto, soup and pasta dishes. They are not as expensive as truffles so finding them is not going to get you rich quick or anything – 1kg costs 48 euros – but it is going to get you a damn good meal.

Late October is the best time of year to collect them because it’s late in the season and mushrooms develop slower and, as a result, have a deeper flavour. The problem is the forest floor is strewn with leaves, twigs and a plethora of other mushroom varieties, some of which can be poisonous, so finding porcnini mushrooms is a really difficult job.

A really difficult job….Each 100 square metre secret patch yielded an average of one mushroom. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Searching for porcnini mushrooms

There’s me looking flummoxed. I had been out searching for an hour and a half and hadn’t found a thing. My friends on the otherhand had spotted about 30 between them. Why? They had ‘an eye for it’ and also they had the knowledge.

The knowledge: What I learnt about finding porcini mushrooms.

The most important thing: Anything with a white top or a skinny bottom is not worth focussing on.

Porcini mushrooms have a light brown top with a fat, sometimes road stem. The Germans call them stone mushrooms and I would assume this is because they do look a bit like stones. Not all of them though. Some have really long stems than are great for breaded mushroom recipes.

stone mushroom harvest

2. There are signs:

If you see one of these red mushrooms, porcini mushrooms are nearby. Also if you see a mushroom that looks like a porcini mushroom but has red tint on its stem, it should be avoided.

Forest pigs also love porcini mushrooms so you have competition on your hands other than other foragers but if you see evidence of mushroom eating you know you may find some mushrooms that the pigs didn’t see.

Half eaten porcini mushroom in the forest

3. You must be at one with nature.

After a while I started to see patterns in the forest floor – types of bark that attract mushrooms, mushrooms that like open spaces, mushrooms that like big trees and mushrooms that hide under bushes. I had to ‘be the soil’ but in all honesty I got so obssessed with finding a mushroom I started feeling dizzy and seeing mushroom mirages.

4. You need a bit of luck.

These buggers are so hard to find you need a bit of luck so whenever you find a small perfectly formed porcini mushroom, it’s good luck to kiss it on the head.

I was super proud of myself when I found a tiny porcini mushroom on the forest floor. It was so small it was amazing that I even saw it and for this reason I was happy with it being my only contribution to the morning’s harvest.

We harvested about 40 mushrooms that weighed a hefty 2kg once cleaned. This was an awesome morning’s work.

Next: We take these babies home, clean them up and cook breaded mushrooms.

Prepping and cooking foraged porcini mushrooms

This is the second part of the blog post ‘Foraging for a gourmet meal‘ so if you want to know how I found the mushrooms in the forest near my home read that one first.

I just thought I’d tell you about preparing the mushrooms because in my mind I thought I could stick them in the fridge until the next day or wash them with water but this is a no-no! Porcini mushrooms need to be kept dry, they taste best on the day of picking and they can be stored in the freezer or, more typically, dried.

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Cleaning, packing and cooking

My tools were a food brush, small sharp knife and some sheets of kitchen roll.

There are sometimes yellow stains, dirt and tiny bugs on the mushrooms. Don’t be alarmed, it’s just nature 😉

Basically I used my tools to slice, brush and wipe the mushrooms clean. Then I separated them up.

The ones with big long stems were for making breaded mushrooms later that evening.

The small perfectly formed ones were cut in half for frying into side dishes at a later date.

The big tops were taken off, sliced, packed in air-tight bags and frozen so they could be used later in soup.

How to make Mario’s breaded mushrooms

He likes to add grated parmesan, single cream, oil, salt, pepper and thyme to beaten egg. He then dips the mushroom stems into the mixture before coating them in breadcrumbs and frying until golden brown.

From forest to plate, the breaded mushrooms took 12 hours at a very leisurely pace.

One pot cooking in the mobile home!

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One pot, four local shops, two people. I am getting so good at cooking in the mobile home!
This was a makeyourown bruschetta idea I had after local food shopping. We parked up in Volterra – high on the hills – blasted some Freddy Mercury chopped up toms, salami, red onion and buffalol mozerella; fried zuccini with sweet red peppers added herbs and spices available and chowed down 😉

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A decent bite to eat in Florence, Italy

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Being the capital city of Tuscany, Florence has more restaurants than you could ever get your head around. It’s a touristy city with prices to match, which is fair enough but we wanted to eat great quality traditional Italian food and just couldn’t decide where to go, until we found the Central Market hall which does all the decision making for you.

The Central Market is open 365 days a week from 10am to one minute past midnight.

I love the food court. All of the stalls are run by artisanal traders, who have been verified for good quality, and there is about one stall for each type of dish to avoid confusion.

Pizza, seafood, cured meats, pasta, fruits and vegetables, wine, ice cream and desserts are served quickly because it is super busy here.

It also has a cookery bookstore, kitchenware boutique, piano and a calendar of events. The whole place is buzzing, good quality and fairly priced.