23 March 2011

Dreaming of Galicia, Spain

On this snowy slushy day (will winter never end??) I am experimenting with adding an Animoto video I made with my photos from Galicia--and recalling my time there. Click on: Why I love Galicia and see if it works...My visit to Santiago de Compostela was dream-filled, with drenching rain, ghost stories, mystical flaming drinks, and.... so much more. Memories of those "pimientos de Padron"--small roasted green peppers that are sharp and hot, washed down with a glass of the cold Albarino wine...Afternoons, drinking little cups of thick hot chocolate--served with warm sugared churros. One morning, I remember hot strong espresso and a slice of the city's signature Tarta de Santiago (almond cake). Displayed in every patisserie window in the city, the cake is one of those simple perfections-- its cross of St. James stenciled in powdered sugar on top. Besides buying the cake at the patisseries, go to the city's convents. Compostela's Benedictine and Dominican nuns are renowned bakers--they also sell the Tarta de Santiago plus delicious cookies--true sweet blessings.
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Pictured below is the Monasterio de Benedictinas San Pelayo de Ante Altares in Santiago de Compostela where I bought the Tarta de Santiago and also a box of yummy cookies. The nuns sell their baked goods from behind the iron bars you see here. They do not allow photos of themselves. You ring a bell on the wall nearby and one of the nuns comes to the "window" and opens it. Then they bring out what you order, you pay, and they spin the boxes of goods slowly out to you on the revolving wooden lazy-susan that slips under the iron grates. Very ingenious--and definitely worth seeking out both for the experience AND the delicious sweets.

15 March 2011

Sweet on the Queen of Tarts in Dublin, Ireland

Queen of Tarts, Dublin, Ireland
If you should happen to find yourself in Dublin anytime soon, make a point to visit the Queen of Tarts shop (pictured above)-- a shop that is as charmingly cozy and delicious as it looks. Near Dublin Castle, on Cow's Lane (and no, for those inquiring minds, there are no cows to worry about), the minuscule tea room opened in 1998 (according to its website). It's fragrant and lovely with beautiful offerings: lemon meringue tarts (yes, I bought one), apple crumbles made with Bramley's Irish apples, buttermilk brown breads, even pretty pink flower-topped cupcakes. I am wishing I was there right now!

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As you can see the shop is tiny--but mighty--even the New York Times has praised it!Posted by Picasa

On this same trip, I also stopped in Dublin's Keogh's Cafe where the line is out the door almost always. But you must not miss this place for its scones: Cherry and almond, rhubarb and ginger (score!), pear and vanilla...and many more. Later on while traveling the region, I also stayed at the Castle Leslie estate (a most unusual but beautiful spot) and took a cooking class at its cookery school. From there, I brought home a fabulous butternut squash soup recipe. See my story in AAA Home & Away: "Things are cooking in Ireland", if you are interested.

So many fun memories from that trip.....Richelle and Sue, Mary Lu....debriefing nights in the hotel rooms...

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06 March 2011

More Champagne please!

While in Champagne country, one of the more unusual spots where I tasted the bubbles happened to be in a treehouse. The Perchingbar is located 18 feet up--and yes, if you look closely at the photo in this post, you'll notice there is a tree trunk to the right of Parisian Olivier Couteau--whose dream of a Champagne bar in the trees came true last year. The space is all solar-powered-- so hours are limited--and it's reached by way of a boardwalk and swinging rope bridge (so monitoring your Champagne intake is also highly advisable). But it's fun! And beautiful! This is my kind of sustainable commerce.
For more on my trip to Champagne, check out my story in the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper : http://www.twincities.com/travel/ci_17340654?nclick_check=1