cooking

An Inside Look At A Traditional Galician Bakery

Pictures taken at Bakery Panaderia Mollete Bolleria in Ferrol, Galicia where the owner, Jose’s friend allowed us an exclusive look at how Galician bread is made.
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Since the Spanish eat bread with every meal, bread is a big deal for them. At Mollete, bread is prepared by hand (and love) then baked in a wood-fired oven. The bakers arrive at 2am and continuously bake all day. What blew me away is the price of each baguette. One sells for 0.95Euro (about 1 US dollar). Isn’t that crazy? In New Zealand it would be quadruple the price of that. And apparently, even so, the locals still complain that the bread is too expensive. Can you believe that? Anyways, we bought a cod and raisin empanada. BP. B for bacalao (cod) and P for pasa (raisin). C for carne (meat). Typically, Empanadas are eaten cold so we had ours later in the day for lunch. Guys, I am getting fat.
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“What must you break apart in order to bring a family close together? Bread, of course.”
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“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of
meditation in a music-throbbing chapel. that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” ― Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher
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“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.” ― James Beard
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“All sorrows are less with bread. ” ― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
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“Let it never be said / there can be a Heaven / without fresh bread.” ― Glenn Logan Reitze
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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” ― Virginia Woolf
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(Can you see the cut empanadas in the back?)
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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” ― Oscar Wilde

Everything in Spain is at the Table

This is Betanzos, one of the best preserved old quarters in Galicia.image-101image-90image-91image-89Meson Pote is known as one of the best places in the whole of SPAIN to have Spanish potato tortilla, a sort of Spanish omelette with thin potato slices. What makes Meson Pote’s tortilla stand out, is its juiciness. We also ate fried squid, a green peppers side dish and a tomato salad. For dessert, Jose’s friend, a renowned Spanish chef (whose restaurant I will be visiting) and her son, shared a cheesecake. I was given a teaspoonful to try and it was DELICIOUS.image-98image-97image-94

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Food is always served with bread here. Good bread. In this restaurant, its plate cleaning abilities are utilised best.image-96
Are you salivating, yet?
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Typical Spain: tapas.
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Jose pointed out these boats to me. They’re interesting because they have a large dinner table in the middle of them. “Look, most of the ship is a table,” he says laughing. Then, “everything in spain is at the table.”image-99
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This little cutie is Jose’s friend’s daughter and, my new favorite! That face!
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Here she is singing some international song with the word “konnichiwa”in it (Japan is with me). Too cute!

Welcome To The Good Life

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Nestle rules Spain. Kind of sad because I hear they exploit child workers.
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Wholegrain Special K with wild fruit picked by little hands.
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A traditional convenience store.
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And I thought Japan had strange vending machines…This thing makes fresh orange juice!
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Okay, things just got weirder! This one’s for fresh milk :O
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What did I say? The good life.
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Went for a bicycle ride with Jose and the kids and stumbled upon fresh grapes (white and black).
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On the way home, we visited their elderly neighbour, a sweet woman in a floral dress, to ask for parsley for a dish we were to prepare later. When I casually told Jose her house smelt delicious, he asked her what she was having for lunch that day to which she did this:
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I still can’t believe how much fresh, organic and FREE fruit there is in Europe. So, our favorite activity (and by that, I mean MY favorite activity) is sourcing and eating it.
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Tonight we were invited to a typical summertime Spanish BBQ AKA pork fest. I made this vegan platter (hehe). #changingtheworldonevegetabledishatatime.
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In Food Heaven

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Can you see this lady’s glasses?
image[5]image[4]image[3]image[2]image[1]imageTraditional Galician food: boiled octopus seasoned with salt, spicy paprika and olive oil. So so good!
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Yesterday we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked lunch by Jose’s mother. This ham leg casually sitting in her kitchen is entirely for her!
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Potato salad with tuna, egg, olives, tomato and green beans.
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The white asparagus were delicious!
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Homemade pickled capsicum. This was my favorite dish! Amazing with bread.image[4]
For dessert, fresh cheese with honey and walnuts. Seriously, I can’t even!
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The preparations for melon gazpacho. Ingredients include: melon, green tomatoes, cucumber, water, olive oil, some white bread, salt and pepper.
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This bakery bakes ham and bread in the same giant oven.
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A traditional sweet bread:image[11]
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These kids are always asking for bread!
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Spain has turned me from a wannabe vegan to a full-blown carnivore. I’m afraid there’s no going back. image[2]image[6]
The most amazing roast vegetable salad. Never tasted anything similar. YUM. image[9]
Tuna and capsicum empanada. I asked Jose why the dough is so orange and he explained that the juice from cooking the capsicum and onion filling is added to the empanada dough mixture. Also, that each area of Galicia has their own style of Empanada. This specific one is from here.  image[8]image[7]image[5]image[4]
For dessert, the sweet bread from earlier and a diabetes inducing ice-cream sandwich cake made from Nutella, margarine and melted chocolate. image[3]

Vegan Dinner With A Side Of Deer Meat

Vegan followers don’t be offended! And meat-enthusiasts don’t run away! (Or do-what are you doing here? I joke I joke). Last night I had the most delicious vegan dinner prepared by my dear sister and yoga sensei Akiko Tanabe. And after, I almost hit a deer. These animals are taking over.

Turmeric couscous
Eggplant and green-bean tomato medley
Cucumber tomato and mint quinoa salad
Carrot ribbon, walnut, raisin and soft-dried apple salad
Lettuce, dried figs, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds green salad

Mazel tov!

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Eating For Two…

So I have a confession to make… I think it’s important you know…

Hehe did it work? Did you click the link thinking I was pregnant? Ha, well it’s pretty hard here without any human interaction. As much as I love Asian babies that isn’t my confession. Yet. I want to talk to you about food bloggers. I want to tell you that contrary to our beliefs, they don’t always eat everything they make. Like, all of the foodporn on their Instagram is often just that. After they’ve put a filter on it and shared it on the World Wide Web, they, like me, probably share it with their friends or only eat a quarter and pack the rest for later. Don’t be fooled y’all. Remember the old adage: “never trust a skinny chef.”
In other words, no one stays fit off sweet potato, medijool, cashew cream cake for dessert.
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The World Needs More Of You In It

During my year and a bit here, it has been extremely difficult to pursue my passion for healthy eating when the notion of healthy food is so scarce in the Japanese countryside. However, I have preserved. Through “bird” and “rabbit” nicknames from my colleagues for eating nuts, seeds and raw vegetables. Through lack of brown bread. And through unbelievably dare fruit prices. Often, I have made my friends and colleagues healthy cakes explaining that they’re free of gluten, dairy and sugar only to be looked at with wide eyes and responded to by: “but why?! are you on a diet?” Don’t worry I’m not blaming them, I mean, it’s not like I myself came out of my mother’s womb screaming: “quinoa”!

So, as hard as it has been, I have stuck to doing what I love. It has’t been easy and I haven’t had access to the majority of things (both ingredients and cooking materials) that I had back at home but, I have not given up.

Kate Borstein says, “Your life’s work beings when your great joy meets the world’s great hunger.” Taking that literally, my great passion does exactly that. Am I right? (Haha) but really, I know healthy food/mindfulness isn’t the answer to Trump, poverty, terrorism and homophobia but it is still something. My little something to the world.

I would like to think I have had many successes here, in changing attitudes to food (and other) but here are three recent examples of them. First, a picture sent by my neighbour who made the same vegan eggplant and tomato spaghetti that I made her, for her daughter. Next, my friend’s smoothie-bowl attempt after eating two or three in my kitchen. Last but not least, do you remember the burger place in Tottori I posted? Well, I added the chef on Facebook (because I’m creepy like that) and begged the poor dude to make me a vegan burger. Being Japan where customer service is beyond immaculate, he dutifully delivered. The patty was delicious, a little too wide and a little too flat but it was his first try and he promises to work on it.
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Italian Night and a *Stolen* Recipe

If you follow my blog’s Facebook and/or Instagram accounts then you might know that I made Italian food for my Japanese friends last night. Now, how does a Persian-Kiwi learn to cook Italian? By working jobs. At 15 I worked at La Porchetta, a chain Italian restaurant then at 17 I waitress-ed at iconic Cafe Valentino which was destroyed from the devastating Christchurch earthquakes whilst I was living in Israel. When Cafe Valentino reopened on St. Asaph Street, I immediately returned, this time as Duty Manager. That’s right, GIRL BOSS. I loved the actual boss, I loved the head chef and I loved the pizza (not specifically in that order).

Working at Cafe Valentino, I learnt so much from Chef Karren. Not only is she extremely talented but also so utterly passionate and committed. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a person who sacrifices day in and day out for their art.

During “the calm before the storm” (quiet mornings before lunch) at Cafe Valentino, I’d often have the opportunity to watch the chef’s preparations. Though I couldn’t ever know exactly how they made what they did or what exactly went into it, let’s just say, I can take a pretty accurate stab in the dark. Today I share with you an idiot-proof *stolen* recipe from the famous Cafe Valentino:

Tomato Freakin’ Bruschetta.

1 medium red onion, chopped small
about 3 medium tomatoes , chopped small – I used a punnet of mixed colored tomatoes whcih included red, maroon, green, yellow and orange ones.
bunch of fresh basil leaves – chopped small
dollop of good quality olive oil
dollop of good quality balsamic
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper

Bread – Cafe Valentino would use freshly baked ciabatta, I used store-bought French baguette.

Finely chop vegetables and herb.

Add a dollop of oil then balsamic – I guess Cafe Val used a balsamic reduction but I ain’t got time (or skills) for that.

Season with a little salt and pepper.

Mix well then refrigerate (you can do this well in advance to serving, if you wish).

For serving, slice bread, toast in a toaster or toaster oven then top each bread with big spoonfuls of tomato/onion mixture letting it fall everywhere (as in on the plate).
***HOT TIP from Rosie Blakely of Gaikokumama: “I usually cut a fresh garlic clove in half, rub the open-side over the bread, then lightly toast by frying the bread with a little olive oil. Yummy. Try it if you fancy!”
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