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Simplicity At Its Best: Mediterranean Dinner in France

Published July 28, 2014 by The Feminist

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When I was on holiday in the South of France (I don’t mean to rub it in) I discovered one simple truth: simplicity is the key to good Mediterranean cooking. With ingredients that you can count on just one hand, you can conjure up the most delicious dish imaginable.

So there I was…in my (temporarily rented) garden… watching how the boats sailed into the harbor… and I just knew that I had to attempt one of those classic, simple dishes myself.

So meet this delicious Coeur de Boeuf and Burrata mozzarella starter. In my homecountry  Belgium, I would never have voluntarily opted for a tomato and mozzarella salad at a restaurant. The tomatoes taste like water, the mozzarella tastes like water… I just found it really bland and boring most of the time. Until the French Riviera made me realize that a simple plate of tomato-mozzarella can be truly magical if you have the best products on the planet to work with. These Coeur de boeuf tomatoes were juicy, succulent and bursting with flavour and the burrata mozzarella… by golly, don’t get me started on the mozzarella! Burrata is the creamy King of mozzarella cheese: a texture that almost resembles thick yoghurt and a lovely rich flavour that almost does not require any additional seasoning. To make my version of this Italian classic dish extra special, I used some extraordinary olive oil I bought in Nice in the restaurant Oliviera (which I already blabbed on about in my previous post). It has a lovely sweet and nutty, almondy flavour and gives a peppery finish at the back of your tongue.

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Ingredients:

  • Burrata mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • Coeur de boeuf tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Fresh basil

Following  the rules of simplicity, I also made this lovely fish dish: locally sourced fish topped with an almond and red pepper tapenade on a bed of courgette and fresh flageolet beans. Served with some homemade garlic bread (really really garlicy!)

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Just spread some good quality, store-bought almond and pepper tapenade (preferably bought at a local market, of course) on top of your fish. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 200°C until tender and juicy. Cut the courgettes into thick slices and take the beans out of the pods. Blanche the beans al dente. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a huge pot, add the courgettes and salt and pepper and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add the blanched flageolets and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes. Right before serving stir in some fresh basil leaves and sprinkle on some lemon juice.

Now pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the sun!

 

 

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Holiday Recap: I came, I saw and I ate

Published July 25, 2014 by The Feminist

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I’m back, dear readers. After spending a week enjoying the heat of the sun and the gentle sea breeze in Cannes, followed by a week of nothing but mountain glory in the North of Italy, it was time for me to come home.

I did not want to, believe me. I would have rather stayed in France and would have preferred to spend my entire life sitting on the beach, eating fish soup with delicious rouille whilst making googly eyes at a tall and dark French Adonis, but unfortunately, life is not a fairy tale. Reality awaited. And I had some duties to return to. Like paying rent, going to work and, last but definitely not least, connecting with my thousands of loyal followers. You.

So here it is, folks. A long (and yet incomplete) list of all the delicious things I had the joy of eating during my stay at the French Riviera and in the Italian Dolomites.

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Let’s start with the heavenly delights of France!
First off, I have some unfortunate news: I did not spot any celebrities. *releases a soft wail of disappointment*. However, what Cannes was not able to offer me regarding star status, it totally made up for in its array of hotness walking around. Because –let me make abundantly clear- Cannes is FULL of handsome men.
I mean, hallelujah! It was almost uncanny –pun fully intended- to see so much hotness on one tiny spot by the sea. Add to that the fact that the French Riviera had tons of delicious food on offer –I’m now referring to those of the non-male, edible variety- and you will understand why I had such a lovely time.

Sweet and juicy scallops with a saffron sauce and plenty of different vegetable side dishes. Always a winner with me!

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A delicious fish skewer, marinated in lemon and herbs with a sauce vièrge. That dish was preceded by the most delicious fish soup I had ever tasted and was so damn yummy I forgot to talk a picture.

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FYI, if you go to Cannes, it is key to find local restaurants. They will most likely offer delicious but affordable food. So don’t go running to the Carlton for lunch. Just sayin’.

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I mean, who the hell would pay 8 euros for a cup of coffee??

The French Riviera is famous for its fish, so obviously I ate plenty of it. This was a succulent piece of red mullet with Brandade de Morue.

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This dish surely packed a punch: homemade gnocchi with pistou and octopus in a spicy tomato sauce

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If there is one restaurant experience I have to tell you about, it is this restaurant in Nice: Oliviera. Honestly, it was one of the most extraordinary restaurant experiences in my entire life. First of all, the waiter. He was awesome and talked with so much passion about the food and his olive oils you almost started drooling just by listening to him. Secondly, each dish was paired with a particular type of olive oil. Olive oil was not just used as something to cook with, it was the heart of every dish. While we were waiting for our different courses, the friendly waiter brought us plenty of different olive oils to taste. Lastly, the food was insane. Pure. Delicate. Simple. Heavenly. Succulent burrita mozzarella with Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes, feta and herbs filo pastry tart, homemade raviolis,… and all drizzled with plenty of good olive oil. Mmmm. This was a courgette flower stuffed with a spicy bulgur salad and –of course- drizzled with lots of fragrant olive oil.

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Needless to say, I enjoyed plenty of desserts as well. I started my holidays with an epic ice cream cone with the most insanely delectable flavours: caramel au beurre salé and marron glacé

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(not a very flattering pic, but it’s about the ice cream, not my face 😉 )

Furthermore, I ate quite a few café gourmands, which are espressos served with lots of delicious things along the side.

This one was bold and big with honest flavours: a mini chocolate fondant, a strawberry macaron, vanilla panna cotta with apricot coulis, an almond tart and a huge scoop of rum and raisin ice cream with whipped cream…

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And this one was more petite in portion but –Oh my Frenchy God- that was by far the best coffee layer thingy I have ever tasted in my life! The flavours! The layers! Sensation in the mouth guaranteed. (I enjoyed this one at a rather fancy-looking place called Le Nôtre in Cannes)

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On our last night in Cannes, we ate dinner at L’Assiète Provençale, which is situated in the touristy heart of Cannes –right at the harbor!- but was anything but the tourist trap. The food was refined, and offered modern interpretations of French classics. I had the most amazing fried fleur de courgettes as a starter, honey glazed tuna steak with five spiced vegetables (praise the Lord!) and by miles the BEST LEMON MERINGUE PIE I HAVE EVER TASTED. (In fact, it was so good, I only realized half way through that I forgot to take a picture. So my apologies for the half-eaten slice of pie)

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Oh Mighty Dolomites

Now onto the delicious food I’ve eaten in the Dolomites, a region that embraces both Austrian and Italian cuisine. (So double check pot!) Luckily for me, apart from eating, I spent my days hiking, climbing mountains and doing laps in the swimming pool, so (hopefully) most of those calories got burnt off.

Our hotel is renowned for its gourmet cuisine, so I definitely do not want to spare you the delicious details:

Open ravioli with pea puree, delicate fish and a cream and white wine foam.

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Pan-fried sea bass with steamed vegetables and herby mash

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Milk chocolate mousse with mango and orange-scented shortbread

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Seared swordfish with crispy vegetables and beetroot macaroons.

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Fragrant herb risotto with prawns

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The most delicious banana tart with banana-flavoured parfait

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The ultimate Tiroler dish: spinach spätzle with Almkäse (mountain cheese) and fresh mushrooms

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Steamed whiting fillet on a bed of red pepper couscous

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Vanilla and puff pastry tompouce with vanilla ice cream and red berries

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So who’s hungry now? 😉

Snow-Proof Food: Paccheri with Roasted Figs, Stilton and Radicchio

Published January 31, 2014 by The Feminist

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I’m leaving for the snowy mountains of Austria tomorrow.

Yes, you’ve read that correctly.

This blogger is going skiing!

You cannot believe how long it has been since my last sky trip to the Alps and I am so terribly exited , I don’t think I will be able to get much sleep tonight due to an exceedingly high level of adrenaline rushing through my body.

Austria is a beautiful country, full of magnificent nature and an über cool abundance of schnapps.

The only thing the Austrian Alps seem to be missing is a high percentage of hot dudes. (This blog is-after all- still called Fashion, Food & Flirts!) Therefore, I will make it my personal goal next week to go and look for sexy Lederhosen-wearing men, to prove to everyone that their prejudice about Austrians is absolutely wrong.

I will make it my quest to look out for men who look like this:

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A mountain version of Jesse Williams? It can’t be that difficult, can it?

Or maybe find myself a Captain Von Trapp who looks like this:

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I would be happy to sing “the Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music” (even though my voice sounds like a cow with bowel problems) if it meant winning over a Michael Ealy look-a-like!

Me picky???

Not at all!

I would gladly “settle for”  a Hiddleston, Cumberbatch or Fassbender

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…if I have to.

I can already predict the potential side-effects:

Ovaries

I’m getting slightly off topic here.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. I’m going skiing!

Which means that I will be spending a lot of time in the snow. In the cold. Possibly freezing my ass off. So in order to prepare myself for all that cold weather and glacial temperatures I cooked myself a heart-warming, super comforting dish.

A bowl of steaming pasta… with an intense stilton sauce… some heavenly-sweet roasted figs… crunchy bitter radicchio… and finally a good sprinkling of chopped walnuts…

Merely describing this dish to you all is making the snow melt, so I think I’m going to stop writing and give you the recipe instead (I still want there to be some snow left when I get there, you know.)

PS: Unfortunately, this also means I won’t be able to blog for at least a week. Sorry folks! But don’t you worry, I’ll be back! (For once, quoting Arnold Schwarzenegger is allowed, since he himself is Austrian 😉 )

Paccheri with Roasted Figs, Stilton and Radicchio

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 100gr paccheri pasta
  • 4 figs, cut into quarters
  • Large handful of radicchio, sliced into thin strips
  • 25gr stilton cheese, plus extra to garnish
  • Chopped walnuts
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ tsp dried thyme

Method:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package. (keep some of the cooking liquid for later)
  2. Heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the figs until slightly charred. Sprinkle on the honey and dried thyme.
  3. Melt the stilton cheese on top of the al dente cooked pasta and stir in approx. 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water to create an even creamier sauce.
  4. Stir in the roasted figs and just before serving stir through the radicchio.
  5. Serve the pasta on a large plate and decorate with chopped walnuts and some extra stilton cheese.

Travel the World in Your Kitchen: Mexican Cannelloni and Sesame Duck Noodles

Published November 6, 2013 by The Feminist

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A culinary staycation is probably the best way to travel if you’re on a budget. With just a couple of ingredients and a trip to your local supermarket, you can conjure up the spirit of exotic places far far away from here. Forget ridiculously expensive plane tickets! Explore the world through food you’ve cooked in your own kitchen: it is not only much easier and cheaper but it also gives tons of satisfaction knowing you’ve cooked that insanely delicious dish all by yourself!

Admittedly, you might miss out on the beautiful scenery, but I can guarantee that after one bite of these two dishes you will visit these places in your dreams over and over again.

Go on an imaginary adventure through Mexico, take a short tour around Florence or breathe in the exotic atmosphere of Tokyo, because with these two beauties, anything is possible!

Mexican cannelloni
Imagine a whole bunch of Mexican-inspired flavours and ingredients, arranged in a very Italian way, and you’re immediately on your way to foodie paradise. A paradise where both Venetian gondoliers and Mexican mariachis walk hand in hand, pesto and guacamole are served on the same platter and you don’t have to choose between the Italian or Mexican cute waiter… Heaven, I would say!

The depth of flavour in this dish is beyond compare. The secret to recreating an exact replica of this dish at home is to be generous with the chili and not to be afraid to add that hint of chocolate. Dark chocolate works miracles in this sauce!

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Ingredients (serves 4 enormously hungry people)
• 8 corn tortillas
• 250gr seitan mince (or other vegetarian alternatives)
• 400gr/ can of red kidney beans
• 6 baby corns, chopped into chunks
• 2 peppers, finely chopped
• 1 courgette, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 500ml of tomato passata
• 2 tbsp Cajun spice mix
• 5gr dark chocolate
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• ½ tsp chili powder
• 150gr grated cheddar cheese

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease 2 ovenproof dishes with butter.
2. To make the sauce, heat some oil in a sauce pan and add half the onion, one clove of garlic, the Cajun spice and ¼ tsp chili powder. Sautee for 2 minutes.
3. Add the tomato passata and season with salt and pepper and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Finally, stir in the dark chocolate and let it melt. Let the flavours infuse for another 10 minutes.
5. Make the salsa vegetable mixture. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the other half of the onion, the garlic and spices and fry for 2 minutes. Add the seitan mince and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a medium heat until soft. Don’t be afraid to give the vegetable mix a good kick of chili.
6. Stir in the beans, season if necessary and add a small glass of water mixed with 1 tbsp of corn starch and add to the vegetables. This will create a lovely gloss on the vegetables and will make them nice and juicy.
7. Take your tortillas and spoon approx. 3-4 tbsp of salsa onto each tortilla. Roll it up until you get a beautiful cannelloni shape and put them in the prepared ovenproof dishes. Cover with the tomato sauce and finely finish with a generous layer of cheddar cheese.
8. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the cannellonis are smokin’ hot and the cheddar has a golden brown colour.

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Sticky sesame duck with stir fried udon noodles

This was an exquisite Saturday dinner. Exquisite to see –but most of all- exquisite to taste. Every single ingredient in this dish adds that something extra. It is by far the best blend of spices imaginable and the sticky sweet glossy sauce of the duck is sooo good, I sincerely considered licking out the pan. (I eventually did!)

If you don’t try this one, I will be so pissed…

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Ingredients (serves 4)

For the duck:

• 2 large duck breasts, skin still in on
• 1 tsp Chinese five spice
• ¼ tsp star anise
• 2 tbsp honey
• 2 tbsp soy sauce
• ½ tsp sesame oil
• ¼ tsp chili powder
• 1 clove of garlic, minced
• Handful of sesame seeds

For the noodles
• 250gr udon noodles
• 200gr bean sprouts
• 2 carrots, cut into fine strips
• 1 pepper, cut into fine strips
• ½ leek, cut into fine strips
• 2 onions, finely sliced
• 2 large peaches, peeled, destoned and cut into quarters
• 1 clove of garlic, minced
• ½ large red chili, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp mirin
• 5 tbsp soy sauce
• 2 tbsp honey
• ½ tsp sesame oil
• ½ tsp Chinese five spice
• ½ tsp chili powder
• ½ tsp star anise
• ½ tsp ground ginger

Method:
• Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
• For the noodle stir fry, mix the soy sauce, mirin, honey, garlic, chili powder, spices and sesame oil together in a bowl and set aside.
• Make the marinade for the duck as well by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.
• Heat a large pan on maximum heat and add the duck breast skin-side down. Let it fry for 4 minutes on one side and then turn them over and give them another 4 minutes. Drain some of the excess oil and add the marinade to your duck breasts. Let the liquid caramelize on a low heat until it gets all sticky and sweet and gives your duck a nice glossy coating. Check whether your duck breasts are done. (They should be pink in the middle, but not raw) Cut them into thin slices, add back to the pan and sprinkle on the sesame seeds
• Meanwhile, make your stir fry by heating a tablespoon of oil in a wok. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for 3-5 minutes. The vegetables should be slightly soft but still have some crunch. Add the peaches, the cooked noodles and your bowl of sauce and stir everything together until it is well combined.

Chaos, Cupcakes and Cobblestones

Published September 27, 2013 by The Feminist

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You know those weeks when all you want to do is cry, drown yourself in red wine, choke yourself in chocolate bonbons and watch Titanic over and over again? Well….

This was definitely NOT one of those weeks! In fact, it was quite the opposite.

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But it kinda was a fantastic week. Quite chaotic, but for once I didn’t mind. I think my general aversion of chaos was smothered by all that excitement and euphoria of meeting new people, discovering new places and learning new stuff. I know this may make me seem like a bit of a nerd (guilty!) but during my first classes at university this week I sort of had a revelation.

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Well, sort of anyway. Yes, Lena Dunham is still pretty cool but at least I’m not wearing monstrous dresses at red carpet events. (Did you see the dress she wore at the Emmys? It was as if she had wrapped herself in a roll of children’s wallpaper.) I’m smart (Move over Sheldon Cooper!), can cook (Move over Nigella!) and I am exuberantly mentally creative (Move over Lady Gaga!)

Okay, so before you start thinking I might be high on LSD or other illegal stimulants, I’m not. I’m just incredibly elated, and every time when I’m elated, I tend to exaggerate and declare myself the new Queen of the World. Deal with it. (The way I see it, being an epitome of awkward exaggeration is way better than drowning yourself in red wine and crying over Leonardo Dicaprio. )

Because I was so damn happy, and because I wanted to celebrate overcoming my fear of chaos, I decided to treat myself to a delicious cupcake. I live in the medieval city of Ghent, Belgium, and when you say “cupcake” in Ghent, the name “Julie’s House” is likely to echo immediately afterwards. This sugar Walhalla is the place-to-be if you are ready to succumb to the temptation of devouring delicate cupcakes, delectable pies and devilishly delicious cakes. So if you ever find yourself in the neighbourhood, not going there would be considered a crime.

I opted for a “speculoos” cupcake. Speculoos is a typically Belgian biscuit, quite similar to the British gingerbread or the German Lebkuchen, only better. Heaven.

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Although this week will go down in history books as “a marvelous week to remember” there was one moment, however, on which I was fighting the urge to bang my head against the wall and shout all kinds of nasty stuff at the people walking by, staring at me with an uncomfortable expression on their faces. Like I told you, I live in Ghent. If you’ve ever had the opportunity to visit the city, you will most likely know that the city centre is a maze of cobblestone streets. Although cobblestone streets look amazing, they are an absolute horror to walk on, especially if you’re wearing high heels. So there I was, walking through the streets with my head stuck in the clouds, overtly happy with a stupid grin on my face and silently humming a Taylor Swift song, when suddenly one of my heels got caught between the cobblestone blocks. And just like the Colossus on the Island of Rhodes, I fell down. My newly-gained confidence lay shattered on the ground. It hurt. Not just because I ended up with some bruises, but because all the people in the street were gawking at me as if I were a terribly bad street artist.

The normal reaction to a painful event like this would be: “I’m never wearing high heels again, definitely not on these streets.” But, hey, it’s me we’re talking about. I don’t do flats.

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So to conclude: it was a crazy week. Full with chaos, cupcakes and cobblestones. What more could you possibly want?

The best of Rome and then some! Handsome Men and Heavenly Food!

Published September 14, 2013 by The Feminist

Legend has it that if you throw a coin into the Trevi fountain, you will return to Rome one day. Needless to say that if it were up to me, I would have tossed in an entire bucket of coins if I could , only to ensure my return to this magnificent ancient city. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it is that I want to go back. Sooner rather than later. So that fountain better work its magic or I will be pissed!
I can honestly say that my trip to Rome was everything I expected and so much more. I could now give you a list of all the things I’ve done and all the monuments I’ve visited, but that wouldn’t do the beauty of the city or the incredible awesomeness of my trip justice. Rome cannot be described with a list of activities. Rome is a feeling. Rome is a sensation. It is like a tingling rush of excitement that creeps under your skin, a stream of bliss that pumps through your veins. Rome equals happiness. I can’t explain why, it just does.

Having said that, I do want to point out that there are indeed a lot of handsome men living in Rome. Seriously. A lot. I remember being pushed against this incredibly sexy guy on the subway – for once I couldn’t care less about the inevitable exposure to germs and bacteria on overcrowded public transportation- and admired in total awe the sheer perfection of his complexion, his very manly jawline and his impressive arm muscles (it almost seemed as if he were sculpted by angels!) I’m sure I must have sniggered at him once… or twice- okay, maybe more like ten times- but I just couldn’t control myself. He must have thought I was crazy. Or stupid. Or both.

Probably both. On top of that, Italian men aren’t afraid to show their appreciation of female beauty. They whistle, look you up and down or even shout “Ciao Bella” or “You’re very pretty. I’m single!” at you while you’re walking by. Admittedly, not all of them looked like Armani models, some more resembled creepy Berlusconi, but nevertheless their attention was highly appreciated. Yes, it’s incredibly superficial but I couldn’t help but feel flattered. (In contrast, Belgian men are awful. They don’t look at you and you would have to hit them in the face- with a chair!- to make them notice your existence. Belgian men suck. Big time!)

So where was I? Oh yes, Rome! Apart from really handsome Italian men the other main reason for my huge crush on this ancient city is the überdelicious Roman food. Roman cuisine is without a doubt one of the best –if not the best- regional cuisine of Italy!

I know I said that I wouldn’t give you a list of all the things I’ve visited, but what I will do is give you a list of the most delicious things I’ve eaten. (Not to make you jealous are anything 😉 )

The best pizza I’ve ever tasted: @ pizzeria Dar Poeta

This may seem like an exaggeration, for I can often get overly excited by good food, but when I say this was the best, I do mean it was the best! The thin crust was to die for (incredibly crunchy on the outside but the dough was still soft and comforting in the middle) and the topping was insanely flavoursome (scamorza cheese with zucchini, garlic chilli and the most yummy smoky sweet salami I’ve ever had in my life!)

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A Gigantic plate of antipasti: pure, simple and full of flavour!

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Pesce Spada alla Siciliana and carciofi alla Romana @ La Taverna Dei Fori Imperiali

So good that I was literally on the verge of declaring my love to the chef!

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The best gelato on the planet! @ Gelateria Valentino
It’s hard to explain why exactly this gelateria is the best in Rome, you just simply have to go there and try for yourself. It was –and again, I’m not exaggerating!- THE BEST! I had amaretto-, pistachio-, and chocolate-orange ice cream; they all tasted so pure and fresh and drop-dead-heavenly-good!

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One of Rome’s specialties is fried zucchini and marrow flowers stuffed with mozzarella. De-lish!

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Awesome rolled pizza dough with mozzarella, wild chicory and prosciutto followed by very tasty vegetarian ravioli (me) or paccheri with calamari and crispy pork cheek (my best friend) @ Restaurant That’s Amore

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This chocolate soufflé brought me in a state of sweet chocolate delirium!

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Roman Coda alla Vacchinara (oxtail stew with vegetables): This is authentic Roman food at its best!

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Gnocchi with Seafood and asparagus in a rather spicy sauce: yum, yummer, yummest!

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Oh, and before I forget: lots and lots of aperol Spritz! 😉

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So who’s drooling over his or her keyboard at the moment?

I’m off to Rome! The Pope better be warned.

Published September 7, 2013 by The Feminist

Remember when I told you a couple of months ago that I had booked a trip to Rome? (For those of you who suffer from early Alzheimer’s or just have a really short-term memory: read it again here)

Well, it’s all happening tomorrow morning. Finally. My suitcase is packed (I’ve left some room for “new acquisitions”)and my stomach is empty (I’ve left some room for the delicious Roman food).

I’m so nervous and excited I think I’m about to explode!

Here is a short summary of all the things I want to do/ will probably end up doing:

Sightseeing (duh, I’m in Rome!)

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Eating gelato (duh, I’m in Rome!)

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Dancing with handsome Italian strangers (duh, I’m in Rome!)

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Making indecent proposals (du… I’m sure you get it by now!)

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Of course that means you will have to miss me for a couple of days…

the horror

I know, I’m so sorry.

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But please don’t let my absence get you down! You will survive!

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Still worried? Here’s a little something that will cheer you up and bring comfort in times of sorrow: A garam massala roasted butternut squash stuffed with spicy, velvety dal! This dish doesn’t just look really cool, it’s also the ultimate me-time-deserving form of deliciousness! And you know what’s so special about the dal? It was made with pumpkin soup! Yes, you’ve read that correctly, pumpkin soup! Tell me something: what’ s the best thing about a dal? The velvety texture. What’s the best thing about pumpkin soup? The velvety texture. So putting these things together creates the most mouth-wateringly, mind-blowingly extravagant array of velvetiness!

You’re welcome 😉

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Ingredients
• One butternut squash (cut off the bottom part, since this will make the “bowl” for the dal. Peel it and hollow it out. Use the remaining top part of the butternut for the soup, see below)
• 65gr yellow lentils
• 1 tsp garam massala
• ¼ tsp mustard seeds
• ¼ tsp fenugreek
• ½ tsp cumin seeds
• 2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
• 1 clove of garlic, grated
• 1 large chilli pepper, finely chopped
• 1 tsp turmeric

For the butternut soup (I’ve made an incredibly spicy and fragrant soup from the remaining butternut squash and used some of the soup as the base for my dal and the rest can be kept in the fridge and eaten some other time 😉 )

• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• ½ red pepper, roughly chopped
• 1 tbsp turmeric
• ½ tsp chilli powder
• 1 tbsp garam massala
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 1l vegetable stock

Method:
1. Make the soup. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot and sautee the onion with the spices. Add the chopped butternut squash and red pepper.
2. Add the vegetable stock to the pan and bring to the boil.
3. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until the butternut squash is tender.
4. Mix everything together until you get a smooth slightly thick and velvety texture. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Rub the bottom part of the butternut with the garam massala and some oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 200°C for about 20-30 minutes until the butternut is cooked through and soft.
6. Add a tablespoon of oil in sauce pan and add the spices. Fry until the spices become fragrant. Stir in the garlic and chilli.
7. Add the lentils and 200ml of the butternut soup. Bring to the boil and let is simmer on a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Add a bit more soup (or a splash of water) along the way if necessary.
8. Spoon the dal inside the butternut bowl and top with freshly chopped spring onion and nigella seeds.

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