Cruising through Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica

Let me take you on a boat ride…a picture tour of my recent trip while cruising through Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.

It has been almost a 1 month already since I am back from a wonderful cruise holiday and I am still finding the return to reality and daily routine a torture. Do you ever feel that way once you get back from a vacation? I have yet to tire of looking at the pictures we took and I am thrilled to show you the best ones today.

Have you been on a cruise before? This was my first real cruise (I did a weird and tiny one with an adventure company years ago). I just loved the itinerary of my recent cruise: the boat left from Montego Bay, Jamaica and we had stops in: Santa Marta and Cartagena in Colombia, Panama and Costa Rica.

1 Boat 1

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Strolling and Eating our way through New Orleans and Louisiana

Finally my long promised post with clicks, stories and foods from my trip to New Orleans, Louisiana back in March 2014. Wow does life ever get in the way of goals. My friend Karen and I set off for on a 7-day vacation and a visit to our friend Raquel, who moved to New Orleans from Montreal this past summer.

This was my second time actually in the Big Easy but a good 10 years had elapsed since my first trip. I was really looking forward to my trip as the first one was a short blitz. I knew what foods I wanted to eat again…and try the ones I missed out the first time around. Still in 7 days on location I did not cover the whole list. So when is trip three going to be? Oh well not right away but let me reminisce a bit, this is but a sliver of all we did, ate, saw and experienced.

intro

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The Sazerac: the official cocktail of New Orleans

I am back from holiday but I have gotten into the swing blogging yet. The vacation to New Orleans was fabulous but I did come back with a nasty cold too. I promise I will have pics soon and tell you all about it.

I did find the energy however to recreate a fabulous cocktail we enjoyed while there. One thing NOLA is know for, besides food and beads, it’s cocktails. From industrial daiquiri machines to a Vieux-Carré or a Hurricane, there is a drink that will fit your bill. The number one cocktail my friend and I wanted to try was the Sazerac, which just so happened to be proclaimed New Orleans’ official cocktail in 2008.

Sazerac 1

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Where y’at from New Orleans

“Where y’at” is what I would say to you today if we crossed paths on the street. This expression means “How are you?” in the Big Easy. That is right, I am on a well deserved little getaway in New Orleans as we speak.

A friend and I are here for a week to visit another dear friend who recently moved here for a job. We will feast and drink, seek out alligators in the bayous, stroll through plantations, practice voodoo ceremonies and dance to Zydeco music in Acadia while eating some boudin.

And we will gain many pounds even if we walk all day. Boiled crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster, muffalettas, oysters, snowballs, beignets, pralines, king cake, alligator, turtle soup (finally), okra and po’ boys are just a sampling of the local specialties we are planning on devouring.

And yes, there will be at least one post minimum showcasing my week of gluttony. “Awrite, den”.

French Quarter NOLA

Chicago Food and Travel part 2

Finally here is part 2 of my Chicago trip. If you missed part 1 click here.

The photo below shows one of the most famous recognizable symbols of Chicago. The Cloud Gate is a public sculpture, one of many in the city, located in Millennium park. It is also nicknamed the bean because of it’s shape. The mirror surface reflects your image in funny shapes depending on where you stand. It is a really cool art piece. You have to go see it at night time to, as it reflects the dark skyline at some neat angles.

Cloud Gate

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Chicago Food and Travel part 1

I am stubbornly ignoring all the signs of the arrival of fall. We are back in a heat spell after a few cold days so I am back in my capris and sandals, at least for today. We have to enjoy and prolong every last bit of summer warmth and think of all the good times we had these last months. Which reminds me, I have not gotten around to showing you some photos of my trip to Chicago back in July!

Intro Chicago

Ceramic tile of the Chicago station on the “L” subway system

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Taste of Treme: Myesha’s Muffuletta Olive Salad

It’s been a while. How are you all? Sorry for my disappearance but I was sick with a very bad cold for over a week and I am still coughing now. I just finished a bronchitis a couple of weeks ago too. So I have not been commenting or anything lately but I am trying to get back to visiting everyone. To good health with the soon coming new year!

I am way overdue for a Vacation Eatz post, where I like to show you pictures from my photo albums (yes the printed kind) of past trips I have taken. And of course we’ll explore a dish local to that destination.

About 12 years ago I had one of the most wonderful trips of my life. Picture three ladies and rental mini van on a long road trip from Montreal to New Orleans and back. Now the trip was very focused on the journey, not just the destination. We had planned daily stops in Cleveland, Nashville, Memphis, the Smoky Mountains and New York City. But most of the trip was spent in the amazing city of New Orleans.

This road trip was definitely planned around food, even on our meager budget. Thankfully when in NOLA you will eat very well even if it is not fancy. We tried all the usual suspects: Gumbos, Jambalayas, Crocodile meat, Po Boys, Shrimp Etouffe and many other dishes. But a very special sandwich is one of my fondest epicurean moments: the Muffeletta.

Ah! the Muffeletta sandwich. I would never have thought a trip would have been so defined by a simple meal as a sandwich. We decided to give it a try after reading about the Muffeletta in our guidebook but we were not expecting much from the experience. When we saw the size…made from an entire round bread about 10 inches across…we were convinced we would be stuck with leftovers. The Muffeletta was served into 4 sliced portions. We had our quarter each and at the end we had a long discussion as to how we would divide the remaining piece equally in 3 and the next day we got another one for the road for our bayou and plantation expedition.

The muffeletta consists of a focaccia like bread sandwiching layers of marinated olive salad, capicola, mortadella, salami, pepperoni, ham, Swiss cheese and provolone. Often it is slightly heated to soften the cheese. The sandwich was created by the local Italian immigrants as a quick lunch while working in the market. The real signature element is the Olive Salad.  I was so taken by surprise by the intense flavors of this olive salad that it has embedded itself deeply in my memory. I actually found a photo with my friend Marie of the actual Muffeletta we ate.

As I was flipping through the pages of a copy the Taste of Treme cookbook, I came across an Olive Salad recipe and the memories came rushing back in. This fabulous cookbook is filled really fun stories, history notes, pictures and of course recipes from NOLA. The cookbook focuses on the gritty and racially mixed neighborhood of Treme, now famous from the television series of the same name which takes place in three months after Hurricane Katrina as the residents of New Orleans try to rebuild their lives and their homes. In Treme you will find the heart and soul of true Soul Food.

I am really a fan of NOLA Soul Food so I was thrilled to be sent a copy of this cookbook for review from Ulysses Press. All the classic NOLA dishes are here and many unexpected more. You will learn how to prepare Crawfish, Roux, Andouille sausage stews, exotic drinks like the Hurricane, and fabulous sweets like the Beignets from Cafe du Monde.

Above is a picture of Marie and I enjoying these beignets. Again when we each ordered a plate at first we thought the portion was to big and we would not finish or plates. Wrong! We devoured our dessert greedily. And we went back every day for more. Next to us a lovely building from the French Quarter.

I am sure this is not the last recipe you will read here about from this cookbook but choosing to make the Myesha’s Muffuletta Olive Salad for this post was a no brainer for me. Everyone one should have a jar of this salad at home at all times in their fridge. The only thing I changed was the quantity of olive oil. This recipe (and all version of) use a massive amount of olive oil in my opinion, I cut it by a third and it was perfect for me.

 

Yields 3

Myesha's Muffuletta Olive Salad

The olive salad for the New Orleans classic sandwich, the Muffuletta

15 minPrep Time

15 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted green olives
  • 1 cup Kalamata or black olives
  • 1 Cup fine cut gardiniera
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp thinly sliced celery
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced green onions
  • 1 4-oz jar pimientos peppers
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (recipe calls for 1 cup)
  • Salt & black pepper

Instructions

  1. Finely chop the green olives and the Kalamata or black olives. In a large bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Cover with the olive oil.
  2. Transfer the salad to a large jar with a lid. Refrigerate for at least 4 days, so the flavors have a chance to fully mingle, or up to 3 months.
Cuisine: American | Recipe Type: Sauces & Condiments
7.6.4
216
http://cultureatz.com/taste-of-treme-myeshas-muffuletta-olive-salad/

 

I served my Olive Salad in a lighter fashion: a half slice of a French Bagette and a lovely French cheese called Saint-Nectaire (hints of hazelnut and mushrooms) which I popped in the oven for a few minutes. And stay tuned for an upcoming post soon for a really fantastic cocktail recipe made with Absinthe. I love that stuff.