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Devon

A picturesque coastline was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to Devon. I could walk around for days, with small breaks for crab, crab sandwiches, oysters and, natuarlly, cream tea. My favourite spot was a secluded beach close to East Prawle, the Moor Sand Beach. The whole area around East Prawle is great anyway! You have to take truly miniature roads to get there and the whole place is only a few streets. And there's a pub called Pig's Nose on one of those streets!

Tanjung Luar

Tanjung Luar, situated in east Lombok, is the biggest fish market on the island. It starts very early in the morning, before it gets unbearably hot and sunny. People come from surroundig villages by mopeds, horse-drawn carriages or in the back of old pickup trucks. The market is loud, colourful and extremely crowded.

Dinner with a view

I' a big fan of the whole dinner with a view thing (who isn't?) and the west coast of Portugal seems to be perfect for that. Just pick a random spot (that's excatly what we did, no planning ahead) and you're likely to find a restaurant with the freshest seafood and an ocean view. Best thing ever!

Oysters with mignonette sauce

Do you like oysters? For me it was love at first sight. Or even love before first sight. People seem to eat oysters all the time in books and I was sure I was going to do the same. The sound of the word 'oyster', together with a somewhat vague idea of what an oyster could be, always resulted in serious oyster cravings. I saw myself enjoying an oyster platter and a bottle of fine champagne in a noisy Parisian restaurant. Do I need to mention that I was about 11 at the time?

I have a history of craving the unknown and it hasn't always been a success path. The same crazy feeling responsible for my love towards oysters, made me think that roasted chestnuts and I were made for each other. My first time with chestnuts turned out to be a bitter disapointment - they tasted like potatoes. Don't get me wrong, I love potatoes with all my heart. But I excpected something more from chestnuts. I like chestnuts, but it's a relationship without fireworks.

Oysters, however, that's another story. I have instantly fallen in love with their delicate texture and the briny taste of the sea. I usually eat them simple, with a dash of lemon juice. The mignonette sauce is a traditional condiment for oysters, made of shallots, vinegar and black pepper. Try a platter of oysters with mignonette, a fresh loaf of bread and champagne (prosecco or cava will do) or beer. It's better than chestnuts and better than potatoes.

Recipe: Oysters with mignonette sauce

Serves: 2 (or one eager oyster lover)
Ingredients
  • 6 fresh oysters
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots
  • 1/4 cup apple vinegar
  • one tsp frehs thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Combine all the ingredients of the sauce and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
  • Shuck the oysters and place on ice.
  • Serve with mignonette sauce and lemon wedges.

Pho soup

Delicious, aromatic and wonderfully warming, Vietnamese pho soup is a perfect remedy for a spring cold and a bad mood. As you can probably imagine, there are numerous variations and regional modifications of the recipe. The one I propose is my way of quickly making a satisfying bowl of soup.

I’ve made mine with shrimp, but you could use thin slices of beef instead. If you want your version to be vegan, go for cubed tofu. You can substitute mint and cilantro with your favourite fresh herbs and spice things up with Sriracha sauce.

It is consumed at any time of day in the North of Vietnam, whereas Southern Vietnamese usually serve it in the morning. It might seem weird to have a bowl of soup for breakfast, but trust me - it really is the best way to start your day. Especially on Mondays.

Recipe: Pho soup

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half
  • one piece (ok. 5 cm) ginger
  • one green chili
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 anise stars
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • To serve: rice noodles, raw shrimp, green chili, lime, fresh mint and cilantro
Method
  • Char the onion and ginger over an open flame.
  • In a large pot, dry-roast cloves, cinnamon, anise, coriander and cardamom.
  • Add onion, ginger, chili and stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, simmer, covered, for about an hour.
  • Season with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.
  • In each bowl, place some noodles, shrimp, sliced green chillies, lime wedges, fresh mint and cilantro.
  • Top with hot broth.
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