Food face it, you love it…

…well I do anyway. And why not, I’m a big kid and proud of it. Everyone’s made a food face at some point, pure art in my eyes. Here are some favourite’s from the Hungryhelen collection, all carefully crafted at restaurants after feeling too full to finish my plate. Thanks chefs for giving me the tools to create my cheery friends.

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Poutine, AKA all the stuff you shouldn’t eat in one dish

Quebec, Canada…home of some of North America’s prettiest French architecture and many art and music festivals.It was an absolute pleasure exploring the province this summer.
We visited Quebec city where we stayed in this little chateau, called Chateau de Frontenac:

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OK, so it’s actually pretty much most amazing dream castle I’ve ever stayed in, complete with it’s own chateau dog. Thank you economic crisis for helping us fund this wonderful night.

Next, we went on to what’s one of North America’s most premier cities for artists of all kinds, Montreal. Such a lively town, we managed to visit 3 festivals in the week we spent there. Not bad. Ever wonder what Coldplay at the annual Osheaga festival looks like in combination with the fireworks festival of neighbouring Parc Jean Drupeau?

Coldplay at Osheaga festival AND fireworks festival at Parc Jean Drupeau at the same time...

Not bad at all either, eh?

Anyway, enough talk about culture again, on to the food. The one dish that the Qeubecois people claim as national dish is called poutine. As the blog’s title already hints, it’s a serious threat to any diet out there, so stop reading if you’re struggling to stay off snacks just now.
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Poutine contains everything in the hearty section we love to have as a treat: thick cut fries, rich gravy (chicken or turkey) and fresh cheese curds, or mozzarella as alternative.
Sounds bad? Well, this is only the basic version! In Quebec, you can find variations containing the above and bolognese sauce, sausage or a whole host of other ‘extra toppings’. I can just feel the punds piling on by typing this up.
One seriously doesn’t need to have any more food on a day after having a plate of this, however we all know how fast food make us feel after a couple of hours – just damn hungry again. So poutine should not become a routine part of your diet. Sorry, just had to use the poutine/routine combination somewhere. I’ve no sense of humor, got it.

However, even though it’s bad and a little more bad on the side, I love this stuff. I’d be proud of inventing this dish as it’s definitely a high scoring comfort snack. In fact, I’ve grown to like poutine so much over the years that I just had to invent my own little alternative. Here’s a lighter option for you to try at home:

- oven fries
– light gravy (most large supermarkets should stock this, in this case beef gravy’s OK)
– light mozzarella

Just pour over the gravy, as much as you fancy. However don’t make your fries swim in it – in this dish you don’t want sloppy chips! Also, do not over-salt the oven fries until you’ve poured over the gravy. Usually your gravy will be salty enough. Once done, cut mozzarella into cubes and sprinkle over.
Ét voila! One portion of poutine you can run off a little quicker.

Take me out to the ball game, they serve hot dogs and beer…

Ah, finally some time to blog again. Was time for some much needed holidays, and of course I made sure to take a load of food pics to talk about now we’re back home again. Watch this space the coming weeks for more stories on Boston and the lovely Quebec and Montreal in Canada!
I’ll kick off with a topic I’d been looking forward to share for a while, baseball cuisine :-)

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I’d been to baseball matches before, but never to a recent world champ (I’m a Blue Jays girl through the closer bond to Toronto, Canada).
We were lucky enough to get tickets for the Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles at the legendary Fenway Park stadium, one of the oldest baseball venues in the States.
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The Red Sox were unfortunately on a bit of a losing streak when we arrived to Boston. However the food entertainment on offer was a winner, as usually the case with American sports matches. So we weren’t too worried, we were pretty sure we’d be entertained whatever the outcome. You see, I just love the different hot dog and pizza stands and watching local kids running up and down all the rows of seats shouting out their offers of peanuts, cotton candy, water…you name it, they got it. And you don’t have to miss a thing. Something that we definitely miss over here in Europe. If we need to get something during play, chances are you’re going to miss that crucial goal while you’re queuing up. IMG_0379

Now in Boston, there’s all the above, but there’s an added bonus to visiting the ball game over here. One of the things that Boston’s famous for are lobsters. Originally served as prison food (you read that one right-got this from our Boston tour guide) a couple of centuries ago, it’s now a bit more expensive but still great value to have lobster in Boston. And they’re quite good at it!
One of the favourites are lobster rolls, quite literally a bread roll pretty stuffed with lobster, served with just a little lemon for extra flavour. I never thought I’d have delicious seafood at a sport match, so this was my highlight of the match. Oh and the Red Sox took the lead, which was nice.
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As the match went on, we of course had to indulge in the all American hot dog. I’m a big fan, and it must be said that the only decent hot dogs are served on the America side of the Atlantic. We took a regular hot dog which was a little plain unfortunately, and an Italian Dog which was quite the works. Woof.IMG_0383

After washing down our snacks with a pint of beer, the Red Sox won. Did our presence lead them to the win? Probably. All the merrier was our walk back to the hotel.
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Before heading off to enjoy the weekend, do you know the answer to this: why is it that one can only get unhealthy food/drinks at sports events? Should we be having salads and fruit juices or anything that’s closer to an athletic lifestyle?

Everyone wants a plate more in Singapore

Singapore must be one of my favourite places on earth. Not only because I lived there for a few years when I was little or because it is truly a tropical paradise and super city in one, also definitely the food can make me want to check for last minute deals instantly.
Merlion, Singapore's half mermaid, half lion symbol

Merlion, Singapore's half mermaid, half lion symbol

Recently I had the opportunity to include Singapore again on a trip to the far east, and yes I admit I jumped for joy at the mere thought of the wonderful dishes I’d be reunited with…

For those who aren’t familiar with Singapore, the population of just under 5 million is made up by Chinese, Malay, Indians and some of Arab and western descent (primarily English from the colonial period but also expats from all over the world). No wonder I feel so much at home there, everyone’s an immigrant ;-) Being just a small island state, this diverse mix of cultures (who all love to eat) inevitably led to a mixture of cuisines next to traditional Asian dishes. Whether it’s Cantonese dim sum, Malaysian satay or Indian tandoori, you only need to walk a couple of steps before finding a fine place for a great meal.

Yummy foods at a hawker centre. In the middle, my plate of chicken rice. YUMMY!

Yummy foods at a hawker centre. In the middle, my plate of chicken rice. YUMMY!

One Singaporean ‘institute’ must be the hawker centres, found all over the city. These traditionally outdoor food courts were once opened to battle unlicensed street hawkers who paid little attention to food hygiene. Nowadays, hawker centres are the best places to have a good value meal and everyone from working class to expats can be found there daily for their dinners. There are even awards for best hawker stalls, and people will go from one to another if they can prepare better laksa or chilli crab.
As a young child and every time I’ve been to Singapore since, I always make sure I visit a couple of hawker centres. Why? Because one of my favourite meals ever can be best enjoyed there – Hainanese chicken rice. This dish, in which chicken with ginger are at its best together with rice cooked in stock with soy sauce on the side, is one of the most famous examples of the mix that makes up Singaporean cuisine. I nagged my mum to make this all the time, and you can still wake me up for a plate – it’s the business! Best of all, it’s pretty healthy as well.

Is there anything else to do in Singapore besides eating? Yes, however this is a food blog so I won’t waste space here talking about why you should visit and sights you need to see; I can go on for hours if I’d start! If you want more information, typical recipes or that last little push before booking a ticket – the links above point to the official Singapore visitor’s site where you can find all the information you need.

OK, one tip: visit us at the Zoological gardens where we can roam pretty much freely along the treetops. Be sure to have breakfast with us too so you can learn about why it's so important to save our rainforests! :-)

OK, one tip: visit us at the Zoological gardens where we can roam pretty much freely along the treetops. Be sure to have breakfast with us too so you can learn about why it's so important to save our rainforests! :-)

* as all photos unless stated across this website, all pictures unless stated are taken by myself. Use only after permission and acknoledgement :-)

Songs featuring food sounds like music to my stomach

Regular readers of this blog may think that I’m so obsessed with food, that there’s no space for any other hobbies. Well, no. I’m actually almost just as mad about music, if not at some times even more.
Food and music pair up exceptionally well, actually they visit each other’s territory more often than you’d think – it’s certainly no surprise to me how chains like Hard Rock Café continue to draw crowds. The mix works as well as a fully loaded Long Island Ice Tea drink.

This week, I’d like to share with you my favourite songs with a food reference to feed your apetite. Some hilarious, some very serious indeed – but all yum to my ears. Missing anything or want to point my nose into a different sound? Well just let me know ;-)

10. Peeled Apples – Manic Street Preachers

A very recent song by the band whom I called my idols when I was a teenager. I’ve never really gone off them (however I no longer put on glitter and feather boas as they would too in the nineties *gulp*). Good to see they’ve also found the food route – if only in the title of a song.

9. Mexican Seafood – Nirvana

So it’s actually about a yeast infection (let’s not go there…). Nirvana were one of the rock greats so a song by them just has to be added to this chart. They’ve also got Big Cheese and Penny Royal Tea in their food/dinks collection if you fancy that more than seafood.

8. Eat It – Weird Al Yankovic

No list about food and music is complete without Weird Al Yankovic, the guy best (or only) known for his parodies of well known hits. And he loves food as a theme as well – it was pretty hard to choose between I’m Fat, Lasagna, Spam, The White Stuff and this one…the fact that it’s a ‘tribute’ to poor Wacko Jacko got Eat It onto the list. And because it has  pretty amazingly 80’s video to go with it ;-)

7. Vegetables – Beach Boys

The Beach Boys could be named as one of my favourite bands all time. Their genius have inspired many artists known today, and they love their vegetables too (and many other disputable substances in their time, oh well). Random trivia: the story goes that Paul McCartney can be heard munching celery in the background of this song, as he was in the studio at the time of recording…

6. Buttered Popcorn – The Supremes

I like my popcorn, and I like motown. Thank you Diana Ross and Supremes for this fine mix. More butter more butter more butter more!

5. Burrito - Seether

I won’t hide being proud of my roots, now the Chinese don’t have good English singers to add to this list, but the South Africans do. Seether may live in the US but are from SA. This rock band has all sorts of songs with well hard rocking titles, but also this lovely Mexican snack. Apparently they chose this title after watching an episode of The Osbournes in which Ozzy Osbourne fancied having a burrito…

4. Banana Pancakes – Jack Johnson

Lovely weekend music to lounge away on a sunny day, Jack Johnson is a safe bet. He likes banana pancakes, and so do I.

3. Honey Pie - The Beatles

So it was this or Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones, just to bring up the old rivalry. However, brown sugar is an ingredient and Honey Pie, when not used to refer to a certain female as in the song, is actual food, so the The Beatles win this round.

2. Too Much Food – Jason Mraz

He’s one of my favourite artists at the moment, singer, great entertainer and blogger (including a recent hilarious post on fun bananas, it should’ve been on this blog ;-)). He sings about having too much food on his plate, this can happen from time to time and will leave you bloated if you don’t just stop eating. However I don’t often have too much of Jason’s music.

1. Peaches – The Presidents of the Unites States of America (1995)

One of the funniest and biggest hits about food in the nineties has to be Peaches. And how we can still crack a smile when we hear ‘millions of peaches, peaches for me/millions of peaches, peaches for free…LOOK OUT!’. The Presidents still perform, and I can say they’re still very well worth a visit if you’re in a for a laugh.

Where to find Amsterdamned good…Dutch ‘eetcafé’

For this week’s restaurant recommendations I’ve been going through my business cards of Dutch style restaurants, called ‘eetcafé’ (eating cafe) by the locals. These are probably the most commonly known type of restaurants one can find in The Netherlands.

Eetcafés are quite literally what the name suggests: it looks like a pub/casual restaurant where one can have lunch and dinner, and some will, from around 11PM, remove tables so that it becomes only a bar. However more and more are popping up that are just proper restaurants – and with that, overall food quality goes up.

The food can be classified as Dutch fusion – often you’ll find dishes like Dutch style satay or steak with fries and salad alongside some pasta and/or fish. It’s always casual, never overpriced and one can always find a very diverse range of guests – young, old, rockers, business people, students…they’ll all visit an eetcafé once in a while. So, it’s quite a place to discover the Dutch!

Amsterdam of course has countless options for you to sample, so today I’ll help you making your choice a little easier by naming my current top – 5.

1. Kop van Jut
Leidsekruisstraat 24
website

It’s Dutch from head to toe in this little restaurant! Near Leidseplein, it’s our favourite to bring guests from abroad who need a crash course in Dutchness, or just with friends for a nice eetcafe meal. The restaurant is full of little Dutch decorations from the Royal family to footballers, the satay and fries are wonderful (so is the rest of their menu – simple yet very acceptable). Don’t forget to order a coffee ‘Kop van Jut’ after your meal, which comes with a typical Amsterdam liquer and stroopwafel (syrup waffle).

2. De Fles
Vijzelstraat 137
website

Look down! This restaurant is actually in the basement so no peeking in through the windows here. However, trust me – it’s worth a try. The decor has been taken from the inside from a ship, and they did a good job of making it pretty cosy. Food prices are just a little on the high end of what one can expect at an eetcafé (20 euros for a main) but it’s worth it. I especially enjoyed their tuna steak the last time, friends recommend the salads.

3. Restaurant Dubbel
Lijnbaansgracht 256
website

Another option which is just steps away from Leidseplein, unlike Kop van Jut, this is a place where I’d go to we’d have a group to entertain. Not the most exciting in terms of looks, but good service, all usual suspects can be found on their menu (and one of few who usually offer mussels, a Hungryhelen favourite meal), and all at a more than reasonable price.

4. Van Kerkwijk
Nes 41
no website, map and Dutch reviews here

Close to Dam Square, this place is quite often packed at weekends, which is not a surprise. Here, your waiter will join you at your table to go through the menu of the day, and the menu is great every time we’re there. It’s not possible to reserve a table here, so just walk in and have a drink or two until it’s your turn – I never mind having some pre-dinner conversations with fellow hungry guests.

5. Eetcafé Van Beeren
Koningsstraat 54
no website – map and Dutch reviews here

Just off Nieuwmarkt square this eetcafé can be found. Can’t remember how many times I’ve been here for whatever reason, but food is always good, atmosphere good, house wines are nice…all very relaxing. Their – daily -very cheap – special usually sells out before I can even try ordering it.

Hungry search engine terms : Q & A

Ah the joys of internet search engines! People have never been able to find answers to even the most complicated questions so quickly without having to leave the comfort of their home.

Sometimes, the answer is to visit this blog, as yes I do provide essential information concerning responsible snacking and professional eating behaviour observance. Or so I do wish.

Behind every good blog there’s always a nice dashboard from where one writes and edits their site, can find numbers of visits and also reveal search engine terms which have led people to this site (of course, I’ll *only* see the terms, not from where/who/vital statistics etc.).  I must say, THANK YOU for making my day. I never knew there were so many of you looking for airline meals info or such random things as wanting to turn milk tarts into drinks. To show my gratitude, I shall use this post to try and give you an accurate answer to the best search queries I’ve received so far, as of course you will have only found parts of your answer through the blogs.

1. Nana Mouskouri’s moussaka recipe
Well, as you know, Nana Mouskouri’s a very well known Greek singer. And moussaka’s one of the Greek god’s gifts to mankind. I’m sure she must’ve had plenty of moussaka, however she’s not published a recipe or written a song about just yet. I’d stick to other people’s recipes, like the one you can find on the recipe page here.

2. KLM smoked almonds
Smoked almonds are the signature starter snack KLM hands out on their long haul flights. However, my best guess is that this comes from an inflight caterer and not from an actual food brand that you can find in the shops over here. I’m sure it would do good though.

3. A milk tart in Afrikaans
Is called melktert

4. sea food wine
I’m into many things, but I think I’d pass if someone’d offer me wine made out of seafood. Or did you mean wine that goes well with seafood? In that case, I’d go for white wines, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay or chablis depending on the type of seafood you take. But remember, rule 1 of a good wine for you is always that you like the taste. Don’t bother too much downing a terrible drink in your opinion only because someone writes that it pairs well with your dish. The best lesson I ever learnt at a wine tasting session.

5. what meals do you get on british airways
This, depends on the destination you’re going to. My experience is a UK style sandwich on short haul flights (think prawn mayo, cheese and pickle etc.) and a selection of a western and regional style meals on long haul. Breakfasts are usually small versions of the good old British fry up.

6. milk tart drink
Interesting. I’ve never heard of someone turning a cake into a drink. In fact this is so intriguing, I might try this one myself. Best guess is to leave out flour and cornstarch. But how to add some crust flavour..?

7. instant noodles inflight menu/instant noodles on British Airways
I’ll answer two questions in one here as they show similarities. Instant noodles aren’t on any official inflight menus, but some larger airlines carry them as extra snack on long haul flights, usually given out at night to whoever’s not asleep. Most of the time I find they serve Nissin brand chicken cup noodles. If you liked your cup, you can find this brand at most large Chinese supermarkets around the world.

8. airlinemeals 2009 klm/ food served on klm
For summer 2009, I know that KLM is offering a selection of African themed meals and South African wines on their long haul flights to promote their African destinations. I love them.
For European flights, it will just be the sometimes interesting sandwich.

9. clip business have meal
What on Earth are you talking about?

10. effect of drinking tomato juice on face
The most amusing search query that ended up on this site. This triggered me to do a little research, and this is the result:
Some people say that a mixture containing tomato juice and other natural ingredients (depending on the desired effect) will help fight acne, whiten your skin if you’ve been tanned, or just to get a general glowing look. However, my advice is to not believe it and to go to the store, beautician or doctor to help you. All tomato juice will do is make you smell rather bad and leave your face bright red. If it’s a Bloody Mary you happened to have applied, you’ll also be crying your eyes out.

11. netherlands or dutch or holland dike or
So, it’s The Netherlands officially. Sometimes called Holland, which actually only refers to the provinces of North Holland and South Holland (Amsterdam/Rotterdam as main cities). People from other parts of the country could take offence if you mention they’re from Holland. Inhabitants are called Dutch, queen Beatrix has been on the throne since 1980, and the country depends heavily on its dykes. Yes, this spelling is usually used even though it may also refer to a lesbian. But then The Netherlands is (would like to be) an open minded country. If you’re interested, visit the Delta works in the Zeeland province – or google that instead.

12. baked milk tart recipe
Visit my recipe page for a nice milktart!