Tag Archives: food


Exploring Loja and its food – Ecuador

I really, really like the town of Loja in southern Ecuador!

I was fortunate enough to be there for part of the Festival Internacional de Artes Vivas Loja, but aside from this, I also just really enjoyed the vibe of the town itself.   I also love that the architecture is very different to what you see in the Historic Centre of Quito or in Cuenca – much less grandiose.

Beautiful colourful architecture that has been restored in Loja - Ecuador

Doing things around the wrong way, it wasn’t until my final morning that I joined Free Walks Loja for – you guessed it – a free walking tour of the town 🙂  

Guide from Free Walks Loja explaining the history of the town - Ecuador

These guys have only just started up, and I hope they get the funding they were seeking to grow the business, because these walking tours are always a great way to get acquainted with a place and learn a little about the history in particular.   I try to find them everywhere I go.

For example, one of the most famous landmarks in Loja is the Independence Monument.  But it is just another monument/clock tower (and not terribly interesting) unless someone actually tells you about its history and the stories depicted in the panels around the 4 sides of it.

Monumento de Independencia - Loja - Ecuador

Aside from participating in the Festival, and learning a little about the history and architecture of Loja – the other thing I indulged in while I was there was trying as much of the typical Lojano food as possible.   For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while, this will come as no surprise 🙂  

Bolón de Maní at Ricuras de Sal y Dulce

I started off with something that isn’t actually typical to Loja, but that I’d been super-keen to try ever since reading about it on the web – a Bolón de Maní.  A bolón is essentially an Ecuadorian dumpling made of green plantains mashed with a variety of other ingredients – in this case – peanut paste (in Ecuador you can buy pure peanut paste [very cheap] as well as peanut butter [very expensive – go figure!]).  

Bolón de Maní and the two sauces - Loja - Ecuador

Mine was bigger than a softball/baseball, and soft and warm with an obvious peanuty flavour.  It was served with 2 sauces: chile and coriander, and what tasted like spicy curry.   Absolutely delicious and enough for about 3 meals for me – all for USD$3!

Cecina at Mama Lola

I do use TripAdvisor as I travel, but find that their restaurant/cafe recommendations are a little hit and miss.  Probably because everyone’s taste-buds are different and I’m a bit of a self-admitted food snob.  But I decided to head out to try the #2 ranked restaurant in Loja – Mama Lola – which serves traditional Lojano cuisine.  I’m sooooo glad I did!

The first thing to know about Mama Lola is that it is extremely busy with locals coming in for lunch on weekends!  I was the only gringo there, but there was a queue out the door waiting for tables.  In the end I was joined at my table by 2 locals – a very common practice here and a wonderful way to meet new people and practice my spanish 🙂

Mama Lola restaurant packed at lunchtime - Loja - Ecuador

I ordered the Cecina, which is a very thin pork steak marinated in cumin and garlic, and one of the most typical dishes of Loja.   It usually comes with yuca and other accompaniments, and, in typical Ecuadorian fashion, I was presented with about 3 times as much food as I could possibly eat.

Cecina at Mama Lola - Loja - Ecuador

Yes – that’s potato bake, salad, pork, corn (top right), popcorn, two different sauces, and you can’t actually see the large chunks of yuca hiding underneath the pork steak.  It was very good, but I have to admit that I still prefer the fritada (braised pork) or hornado (slow-roasted pork) that you find in Quito.

Despite not being able to finish my meal, I spied the most incredible looking desert over on the next table and I figured I had to try it.  It turned out to be an amazingly light and fluffy cheesecake – the best I’ve ever eaten – and I have to admit I almost ordered a second one to take home with me!

Best cheesecake ever at Mama Loja - Ecuador. And beautifully presented!

Beautiful presentation as well!

And can you guess how much my cecina, my cheesecake and a large limonada drink cost me?  USD$7.25.   Ecuador is a fantastically cheap country for eating.

Repe at the Mercado Central

The other “must try” dish from Loja is a thick, hearty soup called Repe.  It is made from a base of green bananas, onions, garlic, milk, cheese and coriander, and tends to have lots of “bits” in it.

Repe de arveja con guineo - Loja - Ecuador

The one I tried at the Mercado Central was the Repe de Arveja con Guineo  – or Ecuadorian split pea and green banana soup.  And once again, it was cheap as chips (USD$1) and absolutely delicious.  Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad soup in Ecuador.  They really know how to do them well! 

I accompanied this with a typical herbal tea: Horchata Lojana – a warm, very sugary, rose-flavoured drink with spices.  It was OK, but I don’t particularly like sugary drinks (despite my sweet tooth), so it was both the first and last time for Horchata.

Horchata lojana - Loja - Ecuador

On my way out of the market, I decided to buy a tray of Lojano sweets including Bocadillos Lojanos (small squares of panela and peanuts) and Lojano figs. Not sure what the other ones were, but the bocadillos were definitely the pick of them!

Sweets from Loja - Ecuador

And on a last minute whim as I headed for the exit – I decided to try Sábila.  I had no idea what it was (the lady I bought it from couldn’t explain it to me) and I had never seen the word anywhere before – so why not!   Oh what a big, big mistake!

Sábila drink - Loja - Ecuador

Turns out Sábila is a drink made with Aloe Vera.  And although it has almost no flavour, I could not cope at all with the texture of it.  The best way I can describe it was that it was like drinking a jellyfish, and every sip I took, the aloe would stick to my lip and trail the glass as I moved it away from my mouth. 

It was beyond revolting!

I pride myself on being able to eat almost anything, but I have to admit I only managed about 3 sips and couldn’t do any more.  I gave the almost full glass back to the lady and took my leave 🙁

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Día de los Difuntos – Otavalo – Ecuador

The 2nd November is “All Souls Day” in the Catholic calendar, the “Day of the Dead” in Mexico, the “Día de los Difuntos” (Day of the Deceased) in Ecuador.  I didn’t realise it when making my plans, but Otavalo turns out to be one of the best places in all of Ecuador to experience this important day.

Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

The tradition (particularly strong amongst the more indigenous peoples of Ecuador) is for families to visit the cemetery, taking food and drink for a picnic on the grave of the deceased.  Yes, you read that correctly, ON the grave of the deceased.   The idea is that the souls of the dead visit on this day, and families need to provide plenty of food so that these souls can gain strength to continue on their journey to the after life.

I asked at the hostel when the celebrations started, and they advised me that between 11am and 1pm would be the best time to see what was going on.  So off I set in the blazing sun to the indigenous cemetery.  It was not hard to find – really, you just had to follow the crowds!

Follow the crowds - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

Lining both sides of both access streets were people selling flowers, wreaths, fruit (especially sweet pepinos), and food.  Lots and lots of food – the most popular seemingly being the fish Tilápia, fried, of course.

Everything the deceased could need - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

Fresh flowers and wreaths (top), food and fruit (middle – sweet pepinos are the greenish things), hornado (roast pork) and tilápia (bottom)

And everywhere you looked, there were women selling the most traditional of treats for this particular occasion – Guaguas de Pan (bread babies). 

Guaguas de Pan - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

These are sweet breads shaped like babies (guagua or wawa means “baby” in Quechua) that have been wrapped in swaddling (note, they don’t have arms), and decorated with colourful icing.   They can be plain or filled with a fruit jam, and in some parts of Ecuador, they can also take the shape of an animal.

Food and flowers purchased, the families then entered the cemetery to find the plot of their deceased.  And what a spectacle it was!

Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

It was absolutely packed!  And full of action!  From people tending the graves

Tending the grave - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

to musicians playing for the deceased

Praying and music - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

to everybody laying out a picnic on top of the graves.

Picnics on the graves - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

It was incredibly difficult to move and find a place to stand to take it all in.  It was just amazing to see such a healthy attitude towards death!

Healthier attitude towards death - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

After about 2 hours of wandering around, I left with a touch of sunstroke (why I didn’t put my hat on, I don’t know!) but returned at 2:30pm to see how the day had unfolded.  Wow!  What a difference!  There was almost nobody left at the cemetery!

After the party - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

3 hours later and the cemetery was almost deserted!

It was a great opportunity though to wander around admiring the freshly-tended graves and marveling at the bootprints that trampled the dirt mounds.  I felt really self-conscious walking all over the graves, but it is what everybody did and nobody blinked an eye.  

After the party - Día de los difuntos - Otavalo - Ecuador

I was also surprised at the lack of rubbish left behind in the wake of so many people and so much food!  Very a-typical for such a large gathering in general, and for Latin America in particular.

From the cemetery I headed back into town for a very late lunch and decided I had to go the full traditional spread.   So fried TilápiaGuaguas de Pan, and Colada Morada – a thick, sweet, drink made with purple (or black) corn, spices and berries.  Yum!

lunch - Tilápia, Guaguas de Pan, and Colada Morada

The Día de los Difuntos really was quite a sight and if you happen to be in Ecuador on November 2, I’d encourage you to definitely experience it.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Tripa Mishqui in La Floresta – Quito – Ecuador

There is no shortage of places to eat in Quito, including a multitude of restaurants that cater primarily for tourists.

And although there is a growing culture around Container Food Parks (ie small cafe/restaurants made from shipping containers) and Food Truck Parks in Quito and other major centres, I have found that in many cases they are quite up-market and don’t necessarily sell typical Ecuadorian Food.

For this reason, my preference is actually to eat in local hole-in-the-wall joints, in the markets, or on the street – and one of my favourite spots for street food is Parque La Floresta, where food carts are set up and start cooking every evening from about 5:30pm.  

Parque La Floresta - street food carts - Tripa Mishka - Quito - Ecuador

The only food on sale is very typically Ecuadorian, and the specialty is Tripa Mishqui – or BBQ tripe.   

Those who have read my Ecuadorian Street Food post from last year know the story of how I was inadvertently tricked into trying tripe for the first time by chefs of Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory about 19 years ago (it really wasn’t their fault – it looked like sweet and sour chicken so I took a huge plate.  It most definitely was NOT sweet and sour chicken 🙁).  And how, when I tried a very small sample of the Tripa Mishqui last year on a Street Food tour  – I was extremely surprised to discover that I really, really liked it!

During my several months here in Quito this year I’ve tried the Tripa Mishqui in a few different places, but by far the best is at Parque La Floresta.   The spices pack a ton of flavour and the tripe is well cooked so that it loses that horrible texture it has when cooked in other ways.

Parque La Floresta - street food carts - Tripa Mishka - Quito - Ecuador

Get chatting with the very friendly vendors – who will always try to entice you to their cart with a free sample


and then grab your bowl of various types of corn, salad, tripe and Ecuadorian aji (chilli) and prop yourself up at one of the permanent standing-height tables that the local council has thoughtfully provided.

Parque La Floresta - street food carts - Tripa Mishka - Quito - Ecuador

You can see the permanent tables (with people standing around them) on the left

You can pre-empt (or post-empt) your tripe with (in my opinion) Quito’s best Empanada de Viento – a deep-fried “wind” empanada that has a tiny amount of cheese inside and which you dust with sugar – from a couple of carts up.


This somehow slightly mournful calling of the street cart vendors (to my ears at least) is very typical of what you hear all around Quito – but guaranteed it is inviting you to some awesome tasting food!

And the other amazing thing – the cost!  My plate of Tripa Mishqui cost US$2.50 and my Empanada, just USD$0.75.

Even if you think you don’t like tripe, I’d encourage you to have a go at the Tripa Mishqui in Parque La Floresta.  You may be just as surprised as I was!


Update on 9 November, 2018 – It turns out that the Parque La Floresta food carts also have the best Fritada in Quito!  An enormous plate of the most incredible pork + mote + habas etc for USD$4.   Now I’m not sure what to have when I go there!


Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Eat Portugal – Part 2

Back in January, I ate my way through many of the Portuguese treats on offer in Porto whilst visiting my friends for a week.   Well, 6 months later I was back.  And having just stretched my stomach enormously by trying as much of the typical food in the Azores as possible, there was more to try on the mainland as well!

More Porto food

I arrived in Porto to be greeted with a box of my absolute favourite Portuguese treats – Jesuitas from the Confeitaria e Pastelaria Moura.

Then, a few hours later, it was off to the seaside for a delicious feed of grilled Sardines – very Portuguese – and one of my absolute favourite dishes!

Sardines - Porto - Portugal

First of all though, as a starter, I tried Mílharas – a large plate of fish eggs.  These were delicious but there was a heck of a lot of them!  I think you are meant to share…

Mílharas - Porto - Portugal

Fish eggs

I also horrified my friends and the waitress by ordering hot milk with the meal (something I re-discovered last year in La Palma, El Salvador).  Well, I felt like something warm and didn’t feel like tea or coffee, and when you don’t drink alcohol – there is a rather limited selection!

Other bits and pieces I managed to try while I was in Porto this time:


Need I say, more sugar and eggs brought together in another great Portuguese pastry. Apparently some prefer the Limonetes to the Jesuitas, but the Jesuitas still win for me.

Limonete - Portuguese Treat - Portugal

The Limonete was good – but the Jesuita is still the best!


These are very much like the spanish Churros but, in my opinion, even better because they are fluffier!   Fried dough + sugar + cinnamon – you can’t go wrong with this combo!

Farturas - Portuguese Treat - Portugal

The Fartura is the fatter one poking out on the right. Compare with the Churro that you can just see on the left – the vendor gave it to me as a bonus.

Natas from Manteigaria

Yes, I ate a lot of Natas last time I was in Portugal (my second-favourite pastry after Jesuitas), but the ones from Manteigaria are special.  Apparently the pastry is made with even more butter!

Natas from Manteigaria - Portuguese treat

Thanks for the photo Pedro!

Bacalhau assado no forno com batatas a murro

Translated, this is “roasted cod with punched potatoes”, and it is made with lots of garlic and olive oil.  Pedro’s mum made this very traditional and amazing dish for me, and followed it up with a beautiful dessert of a queijada and fresh fruit.  Million thanks for the lunch – it was wonderful to meet you guys!

Bacalhau assado no forno com batatas a murro - Portugal

Bacalhau assado no forno com batatas a murro for main. Queijada and fresh fruit for dessert!

Sandes de Pernil

Basically a pork sandwich made with sandes de lombo assado (the bread) and pork thigh.  We (well, Raúl did – Pedro and I went and grabbed a table) lined up at Casa Guedes – a very traditional tasca (tavern) for 1/2 hour to order this very tasty quick bite.

Icecream from Gelataria Portuense

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I’m a mad icecream fan.  In January, we were supposed to visit the Gelataria Portuense for what was touted as the best icecream in Porto – but it was closed for renovations.  Needless to say, we rectified that situation this trip, and I can definitely say it is some of the best icecream I’ve ever had!  Very smooth, and you can’t go wrong no matter which flavour you choose!

Amazing Icecream at Gelataria Portuense - Porto - Portugal

Regueifa com manteiga and Galão

For my final breakfast in Porto this trip, Pedro, Raúl and I headed downstairs to partake in this very traditional Sunday-morning special.  Yes – it is bread and butter, with coffee served in a glass rather than a cup 🙂

Regueifa com manteiga and Galão

Thanks guys for yet another awesome time in Porto!  Let’s see what you can find to feed me next trip 😉

Great friends at breakfast in Porto - Portugal

Me, Pedro and Raúl having Regueifa com manteiga and Galão for breakfast

Food from the Algarve

After leaving Porto, I headed down on the train to the other end of Portugal.  This was my first trip to the Algarve region – Portugal’s “summer playground” – where my friend, José, and his family were spending 3 weeks on vacation.  

Jose's family and me

I was only there for 3 days, and we mostly ate at home (still loving the grilled sardines!), but there was definitely time to try a few things 🙂

Sopa do Mar

We went out to a very specific restaurant, Restaurante Ideal in Cabanas, to have their famous Sopa do Mar.  This is a slightly spicy and very tasty seafood soup served in a bread bowl.  In an effort to eat enough but not too much (already a bit of a lost cause by this time) I scraped the insides of the bowl to add bread to the soup and only dunked the top in.  Delicious!

Sopa do Mar - Algarve - Portugal

Doce de Vinagre

Though of course, you can’t just have a main course, and after the soup I couldn’t resist trying the Doce de Vinagre – “Vinegar Sweet”.   After all, it sounded intriguing … how do those things go together at all?   Turns out it doesn’t taste like vinegar at all, as one might suspect.  Instead – it is yet another take on a milk + egg yolk + sugar confection, where the vinegar is just used to curdle the milk into clumps. 

Doce de Vinagre - Algarve - Portugal


More milk+sugar+egg yolks.  More deliciousness!

Tigelada - Algarve - Portugal

Dom Rodrigos

Finally, I bought one of the most traditional pastries from the Algarve region to take with me on the flight to Madrid.  Dom Rodrigos come wrapped in brightly coloured metallic paper and are a concoction of egg yolks+sugar (no surprises there) but also almonds, which are very typical of the region.

Dom Rodrigos - Algarve - Portugal

And so ends my latest foray into Portuguese food!  Like last time, I reckon I put on at least 1kg during my couple of weeks there, but everything is so tasty and my friends are total enablers 😉  

Thanks guys!  I’ll be back!


Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Eat the Azores!

For the second time this year I found myself visiting my friends in Portugal and eating waaaaaaaay too much food!  This trip I added a few more Porto dishes some others from the Algarve, but this post focuses on the food of the Azores, where I spent 5 days exploring the largest island – São Miguel.

For those unfamiliar with Portuguese autonomous territories, the Azores are a series of 9 volcanic islands located between Europe and North America.  Given that they are separated from Portugal by over 1,000km, they have their own unique dishes, and my friends Pedro and Conceição were determined to have me try as much typical Azorian food as possible during my short stay! 

It all started with a drink that can only be found on the islands – Kima.  A masterpiece of slightly fizzy, sweet passionfruit juice (those who know me well know that I love anything with passionfruit) that the wasps loved as much as I did!   Much better than Passiona!

Kima - Azores - Portugal

Then some Bolos Lêvedo when we got home from the hot springs at 11pm on the first night (and every breakfast thereafter)! 

Bolo Lêvedo in Conceição's kitchen

Photo: Pedro Torres

These are like English Muffins, but sweet, and absolutely awesome with butter.  Very, very addictive!

The next morning started with a Queijada de Vila Franca Do Campo, yet another concoction of egg yolks, sugar and milk dreamed up by the nuns in the 16th century, for morning tea.   This queijada is traditional to the island of São Miguel and there is a similar one – Queijada da Graciosa – which, no surprises, comes from a different island in the archipelago: Graciosa.   It was yummy (of course), but not as tasty as some of the other treats I’ve tried in Portugal (the Jesuita is still my favourite).

Queijada de Vila Franca Do Campo - Azores - Portugal

Had to hang out until 2pm for lunch, when we had a booking at Tony’s Restaurant in Furnas for me to try one of the absolutely essential foods of São Miguel – the Cozido das Furnas.  This is basically a dry stew that has been cooked for several hours in a volcanic fumerole near the town.  You must pre-order it, as the restaurants need to know how many of the large metal pots of layered chicken, beef, pork, blood sausage, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and yams they need to prepare, and then get them out to the Caldeiras da Lagoa da Furnas early in the day for cooking.

Cooking the Cozido de Furnas - Azores - Portugal

Each hole can fit two of the pots and is labeled with either the name of the restaurant, or a number (locals can also bring their Cozidos here to cook) so there is no confusion as to who owns which dish!  We were fortunate enough to see one local couple bring their food to cook, and the process of burying it.

Cooking the Cozido de Furnas - Azores - Portugal

Back at Tony’s, we started (after 48 minutes of waiting!) with the usual fresh cheese, bread and Molho de Pimenta da Terra  – Azorian spicy sauce.

Fresh cheese, bread and spicy sauce from the Azores - Portugal

And then a few minutes later, out came the Cozido.  It was absolutely enormous (this was a plate for 1 person) and piled high with meat, veggies and rice.

Cozido de Furnas - Azores - Portugal

This was a plate for 1 person!

I didn’t touch the rice, ate about 1/3 of the veggies and couldn’t quite make it through all the melt-in-your-mouth, falling-apart meat.  And even with that, I’d eaten about 4 times as much as I should have.   Oh my stretched stomach!!  

There is a very distinct flavour to the Cozido that you would be hard-pressed to identify if you didn’t know how it was cooked.  Definitely a tinge of sulfur present there…  I wonder why they don’t do this in Rotorua, New Zealand?

And although I was over-full from the Cozido, there always has to be room for dessert.  We ordered the passionfruit and the red bean dessert, but they bought us a bonus pineapple dessert for taking so long to get our cheese and bread to us at the beginning of the meal.  All incredibly delicious, but oh my over-stretched stomach!!

So much desert - Azores - Portugal

Fortunately, that was all the eating involved on Day 2, though I never really recovered for the rest of my time in Portugal 🙂  It didn’t stop me from trying things though – after all – how often does one make it to the Azores?

The next of the typical Azorian dishes I had to try was the Chicharro – fried Atlantic Horse Mackerel with Molho de Vilão (another special sauce).  I have to admit, of all the things I tried in the Azores, this was my absolute favourite!  You really can’t go wrong with fried fish and this was super-super tasty, especially when dipped in the sauce.  Didn’t go much on the pickled onions though…

Chicharro - fried mackerel - Azores - Portugal

Favourite dish – Chicharros at the Restaurante Costaneira in Ribeira Quente

Then, when we got home on Day 3, Conceição had bought some Chorizo paste for us to have as part of a light dinner.   This is a brilliant concept and one I hadn’t come across before.  Basically, you take a chorizo, remove the meat from the casing, and puree it with butter.  Voilà!  Chorizo paste.  We had it with a few different types of bread (the darker one is Massa Sovada – a sweet bread from the Azores), fresh cheese and the spicy Azorian sauce.

Fresh cheese, chorizo paste and bread - Azores - Portugal

Day 4 saw us in Ponta Delgada (the administrative capital of the Azores) for lunch, where I could try 2 of the remaining “key” Azorian dishes.   I started with a 1/2 serving of Lapas – limpets cooked in a garlic, butter and red pepper sauce.  These were a little like mussels, but much milder in flavour.

Lapas - Limpets - Azores - Portugal

I followed this up with the Morcela con Ananas – blood sausage with pineapple.  I’ve eaten blood sausage many times before and really like it – and the pineapple (lots of pineapple grown in the Azores) helps to cut through the richness nicely.

Morcela con Ananas - Blood sausage with pineapple - Azores - Portugal

The Azores are also known for their dairy products (they have very happy cows) so, of course, I had to try a local icecream or frozen yoghurt.   I went with the frozen yoghurt when we stopped at a cafe for a coffee.  Turns out chocolate goes much better with icecream than yoghurt!

Frozen Yoghurt with everything chocolate from the Azores - Portugal

Finally, I did manage to find a treat to rival my beloved Jesuitas!   The orange queijada at Chá Gorreana is a small parcel of moist, orangey deliciousness that is one of the best “cakes” I’ve ever eaten in my life.  Forget the tea!  This is the reason enough to visit the tea plantation 🙂

Queijadas and tea - Azores - Portugal

The one key dish I missed from São Miguel was the steak – purported to the the best in the world (though I’m sure many other countries would argue this point).  I just didn’t have enough time or stomach space to fit it in … so maybe there is another trip to the Azores in the future!

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Eating Typical Greenlandic Food in Nuuk

After 2 weeks of hiking in great weather in South Greenland, I arrived to cold, wet and wind in the capital, Nuuk.  I was picked up at the airport by my Airbnb host, Rene, and taken to the accommodation.  It was absolutely awesome – my own space with a separate entrance, fridge, microwave and bathroom, and only a 5 minute walk to the centre.  Heaven for the next 5 days!

The very rainy view from the front of my great Airbnb in Nuuk, Greenland

Only a 5 minute walk from the centre of Nuuk! Highly recommended

To be honest, I didn’t get up to much in Nuuk.  There are plenty of excursions to keep you occupied, but after 2.5 months of bad or no internet, I had some catching up to do!  And I was enjoying Skyping with family and friends 🙂

It was snowing on my second day in Nuuk (yes, in the middle of summer) so I only headed out for lunch.   In my quest to try some typical Greenlandic food, I went to the amazing Katuaq Cultural Centre and decided on the Musk-Ox hotdog.  Wow!  That is a strongly flavoured meat!  Seriously, seriously intense flavor, and apparently not just because it was in sausage form … the meat itself is very gamey.

Musk Ox Hotdog with chips and salad at the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland

While I was there, I heard another antipodean accent – and met Andrea – a Kiwi lady who had been living in Nuuk for 9 months.  She was absolutely lovely and essentially adopted me for the remainder of my time there 😊

Andrea and I in Nuuk, Greenland

The third day dawned bright and clear and so I wandered around the old part of town – which, with its small, brightly painted houses looks a little like a toy town.  All the newer areas of Nuuk tend to be apartment buildings – so there is quite a dichotomy of architecture in the capital.

Looking across the old part of Nuuk towards the newer section and mountains - Greenland

The mall is in the multi-story building you can see at right of the image. Nuuk has gorgeous surroundings

The nice thing about some of the older apartment buildings though – they have amazing murals painted on them.  Love this!

Large murals painted on the sides of 4 story apartment buildings in downtown Nuuk, Greenland

I took a break from hiking (there are two short hikes in the surroundings of the city), but did walk out to a few different viewpoints around town.  The view from the point near Café Inuk in particular is absolutely stunning!  The image below was taken at 9:30pm.  Yes, the sun is still up!

The view across the Nuuk Fjord to an iconic mountain from near Café Inuk in Nuuk, Greenland

And the images below were taken at midnight.   Nuuk is just a little south of the Arctic circle so the sun does set briefly (between about 11pm and 2am), but it never gets completely dark in summer.

Pink and purple skies over Nuuk, Greenland. Taken at midnight during summer.

The perpetual summer twilight in Greenland is beautiful

I returned to the café at the Katuaq Cultural Centre to try the “Greenlandic Tapas” on another occasion.  In amidst shellfish salad, mussels, prawns, marinated salmon, and another mini musk-ox hotdog (called a “mini hot-dog sled”), I also got to try fried whale meat.  The flavor was very unexpected – very, very mild and kind of fishy (yes, I know a whale is a mammal).

6 Greenlandic Tapas put together by the Katuaq Cultural Centre in Nuuk, Greenland. Shellfish salad, marinated salmon, mussels, musk-ox hotdog, prawns, and fried whale meat

From top left: Shellfish salad, marinated salmon, mussels, musk-ox hotdog, prawns, and fried whale meat

So, a very lazy time in Nuuk catching up online and hanging out with Andrea, Lars and their friends.  Lovely way to spend 5 days though – just chilling out for a while!

East Greenland, here I come!

Discover more about Greenland

If this post has piqued your curiosity about Greenland, learn more about this amazing country at Visit Greenland, and check out the wide range of tours and accommodation available at Guide to Greenland.  

This post contains some affiliate links.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Your support is appreciated!
Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Georgian Food – Georgia

Although we had fairly limited time in Georgia, I somehow managed to try a whole range of different traditional Georgian food.   It began with surprise tastings on the Tbilisi Hack Free Walking Tour (highly recommended!) and, with the exception of the first night where I was craving a really good steak, I tried something different for every meal.   Here is what I managed:

Stalin’s Favourite Wine – Khvanchkara 

Yes, I tried it.  No, I’m not drunk – the picture is blurry because it was dark inside and an odd angle (that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!).   No, I still don’t like wine at all ☹   Can’t really say much about the wine given the previous comment – but they tell me it is a semi-sweet red with raspberry notes.   No idea what that means, but hey – I had to try it! 

Khvanchkara - Georgian food - Georgia

Georgian Bread

Traditional bakeries are often found underground, but all you have to do is follow your nose and look for the sign!

Bakery sign - Georgian food - Georgia

The Georgians bake a whole array of different bread and bread products, but the traditional bread is incredible – especially when eaten straight out of the “tone”.  This is a clay oven where a fire in the bottom heats up the sides and the bread is slapped against the side to bake.

Underground Georgian bakeri - Georgian food - Georgia

The tone is the large white pit the baker is lifting the bread from.

Puri – Georgian Cheese Bread

There are a whole slew of different varieties of Khachapuri, depending on region – but essentially the key ingredients are bread and cheese.   I tried two of the most famous types:

Imeruli Khachapuri is “The Georgian Pizza” – a circular round of bread with cheese inside

Imeruli Khachapuri - Georgian food - Georgia

It is salty (thanks to the cheese) and I couldn’t eat more than a slice!

Adjaruli Khachapuri – yet another heart-attack-on-a-plate!  

Adjaruli Khachapuri - Georgian food - Georgia

As “Serious Eats” puts it: 

A molten canoe of carbohydrates and dairy, the quantity of sulguni cheese alone in khachapuri Adjaruli is enough to land a lactose-intolerant friend in the ER. But the decadence doesn’t end there. Seconds after the bread is pulled from the toné, a baker parts the cheese to make way for a final flourish: hunks of butter and a cracked raw egg.”

I actually made this one myself at a (I have to admit) not brilliant cooking class I did – only the second time I’ve been disappointed by a cooking class.   And, like that previous cooking class, I didn’t particularly like very much what we cooked.   Khachapuri Adjaruli is incredibly rich (as you can imagine) and I only managed to get through about half of it.   The idea is that you mix the egg and butter through the melted cheese, and then tear off bits of the bread to dip into the eggy-cheesy mixture to eat it.


Another bread variation (have I mentioned how many carbs I’ve eaten in the past 6 weeks on this Silk Road trip??!!) – essentially a flatbread stuffed with spiced beans.  Incredibly cheap and filling, and a staple Georgian fast food.

Lobiana - Georgian food - Georgia


I’d eaten quite a few Manty as I traveled through the ‘Stans – Khinkali is Georgia’s version of dumplings. 

Khinkali - Georgian food - Georgia

The traditional ones are filled with meat and spices (Georgians have a particular love or coriander, much to my delight) with a “soup” trapped in the middle.   I hadn’t actually read how to eat these before I tried them, so committed massive faux pas (fortunately nobody was watching) by eating the topknot and eating them with a knife and fork – which meant that the soup was essentially lost.   Oh well.

Kada (Qada)

A traditional pastry that is full of butter and sugar, as all good pastries are.  However, the degree of butter and sugar in this one is particularly special – I only made it half way through before I had to save the other half for the next day!  It was incredibly rich!

Kada - Georgian food - Georgia


Traveling through Georgia you often see long, brownish or reddish lumpy objects hanging in street vendor stalls and shops.  At a first glance, it is not at all obvious what these things are – my guesses were lumpy candles (Georgia is quite a religious country after all) or sausages – but I really wasn’t sure.

Churchkhela - Georgian food - Georgia

Turns out – they are something to eat – but definitely not sausages!  Walnut halves (in the east of Georgia) or hazelnuts (in the west) are threaded together on a piece of string, and concentrated grape juice thickened with flour and sugar or honey is then poured over the strands.  This is left to dry in the sun before another layer of the thickened grape juice is added, and this is repeated several times to build up a coating of chewy goodness.  The amazing thing is that they actually aren’t too sweet! 


Almost always sold by the same people selling Churchkela, Tklapi are essentially enormous fruit Roll-ups made from pureed fruit that has been spread thinly onto a sheet and sun-dried.  There are many different flavours on offer, some sweet (kiwifruit, apricot) and some quite tart (for example, made from Tkemali, or sour plums).

Tklapi - Georgian food - Georgia


A fantastic stew made from beef, walnuts, sour Tklapi and Georgian spices (khmeli suneli).  Very tasty!

Karcho - Georgian food - Georgia


Another delicious Georgian stew with tomato and spices, and best served with fresh Georgian bread.

Chashushuli - Georgian food - Georgia


Georgia’s traditional chicken soup make with chicken, vinegar, egg and flour.

Chikhirtma - Georgian food - Georgia

Badrijai Nigvzit – Eggplant Walnut Rolls

This is a common entrée in Georgia and continues Georgia’s seeming obsession with using walnuts in their food.  Essentially long, thin slices of pan-fried eggplant with a paste of walnuts and spices rolled up inside.  Not as flavourful as I imagine it would be, but quite good.

Badrijai Nigvzit - Georgian food - Georgia

Unfortunately this is just scraping the top of the barrel of typical Georgian food, and it is all incredibly tasty.  Will have to go back to try some more!

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Kyrgyz Food

The first day in Bishkek, a group of us went on a walking tour with the amazing Aigol from the Green Apple Hostel to learn a little about the city.  I mentioned to her that I was really interested in the traditional food of the countries I visit and asked her to let me know if we came across anything very typical of Kyrgyzstan.

Along the way, we found this lady selling traditional Kyrgyz drinks in one of the many parks in Bishkek.  The options were: Shoro – a wheat drink, Tan – a salty yoghurt drink, or juice.   Aigol ordered the Tan and I had a sip of that – definitely not my thing.   So, I ordered the Shoro – oh my God – absolutely not my thing either.  I had to surreptitiously pour it out in the garden – I really couldn’t drink it!     Lesson learned – I don’t like traditional Kyrgyz drinks!

Traditional Kyrgyz drinks - Shoro and Tan - Bishkek

A little later on, everyone was up for the suggestion of Aigol that we finish the walking tour with lunch at a Kyrgyz restaurant.   It was quite a fancy place with an extensive menu … difficult to decide what to have!

I ended up ordering the most typical Kyrgyz version of “Beshbarmak on – Naryn”: horsemeat, long noodles, onion.  Yeah – not the tastiest thing I’ve eaten … I think I’m done with Beshbarmaks now 😊

Kyrgyz food - Beshbarmak on – Naryn - Bishkek

I also ordered a couple of traditional breads to go with it – Boorsok is a fried dough that is quite plain, but would be awesome with some sort of sauce or yoghurt to dip into. 

Kyrgyz food - Boorsok - Bishkek

And Kattama – fried layered pastry dough with spring onion – which was very tasty, and went down very well cold the next day for lunch as well!

Kyrgyz food - Kattama - Bishkek

Had a great lunch with Aigol and really appreciate her taking extra hours out to introduce us to some of the food of Kyrgyzstan!

We had another opportunity to try a very famous Kyrgyz dish when we visited the town of Karakol on our 3-day trip around Issyk Kul.   Our driver took us to what looked like a hole-in-the-wall place (but one that was very, very popular with the locals) so we could try Ashlyan-fu, the specialty of the town.

Ashlyan-fu restaurant - Karakol - Kyrgyzstan

Ashlyan-fu is a dish of cold, vinegary noodles with fish.   I didn’t find any actual fish in mine, so maybe “fishy bits” might be a more accurate description!   It was really delicious and had a bit of a kick to it as well (which was a really lovely surprise) – perhaps due to its origins as a Dungan dish imported from China.   This was served with a bread stuffed with potatoes, which was a nice counterpart to the spicy dish.

Ashlyan-fu - Karakol - Kyrgyzstan

Then, when we stayed in the yurt camp, I had the opportunity to try Kyrgyz Plov.  Very similar to Kazakh Plov, and just as tasty.  I do really like this dish 😊

Plov - Kyrgyzstan

So, very happy to have the opportunity to try several Kyrgyz dishes, and I reckon I’ll be back to visit this amazing country in the future!

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Almaty’s Green Bazaar – Kazakhstan

Dennis’ “Golden Quarter” walking tour was fantastic, but it wasn’t the reason I initially contacted him.  Those of you who have been following along for a while won’t be surprised to know that he also offers a foodie tour in the Green Bazaar of Almaty.   Of course, I was in!

Green Bazaar entrance - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Entrance of the Green Bazaar

We were met by another traveler – Benjamin from the US – and headed in to start off with a traditional Kazakh lunch at one of the restaurants in the market.  

The menu looked like this

menu at restaurant - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

I’m really having a hard time getting used to not being able to read anything or understand anything.   I’m so used to travelling in Latin America where, now that I speak Spanish, everything is easy.    Dennis translated for us and made some recommendations, and we ended up with a few different dishes.

Both he and Benjamin ordered Plov – the very typical rice, carrot, meat dish that is really, really tasty.

Plov - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Just to be different, I ordered an interpretation of beshparmak, which usually consists of flat noodles topped with onions, meat, and horse sausage.  This version was called “meat, Kazakh-style”, with the meat broth mixed in to form a soup.   This was also good, but I thought the Plov was tastier.

A version of beshparmak - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

And we decided to share a serving of Manty, dumplings with pumpkin, meat and herbs inside.   This was made even better by the ladzhan – a chilli side that is often served on the table.

Manty - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

All rounded out by tea, of course.   This time tea with lemon 😊

lunch - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

We each paid 1,200 Tenge (less than US$4) for all this food!

lunch - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Next thing was to head off to explore the Green Bazaar itself.   First of all – the whole place is incredibly clean, and looks like it has been organized by a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!   It is immaculate!

Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Everything has its place – there is the section for dried fruit and nuts and the like

Dried fruit and nuts - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

The section for pickled items, where Dennis had to sweet talk the security guard because you are actually not meant to take pictures in the Bazaar.   However, because Dennis knows all the vendors there, they allow his guests special privileges 😊

Pickled things - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

The section for dairy produce – where we were plied with samples of all the different products by this lovely lady who is a friend of Dennis’ wife.

milk products section -Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

We tried a variety of different sweets – some made from cheese products and condensed milk, some made from grains and condensed milk.  All were delicious, but my favourites were those with the more caramel flavours (ie the ones with the condensed milk 😉 )

milk products - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

We tried fresh camel’s milk.   Now – this is not the first time I’ve had a camel-milk product.   Back when I visited Mongolia, I have the distinct memory of visiting a family and being given a massive hunk of camel’s cheese.   It was almost inedible!   See, the thing about camel’s milk is that it is a VERY tart/sour taste and is VERY strong.   My first sip of the milk here took me right back to that hunk of camel cheese I endeavoured to eat 9 years ago…

We also tried the dried salted curds – again, something I encountered in Mongolia, and again, not my favourite thing to eat in the world (actually, the Mongolia trip is the only trip I’ve ever done where I have lost weight).   I don’t exactly remember what it was like in Mongolia, but this one was extremely salty … I don’t think I’ll be buying some for the road, though it does keep incredibly well!

dried salted kurds - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

From there we headed over to the meat section, where they use the whole animal – absolutely nothing is wasted.

meat section - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Nothing is wasted. Yes, those are sheep heads in the bottom image!

This included a section specializing in horse-meat (very common here) and particularly horse-meat sausages.

horse meat section -Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Almost right beside, was the smoked and cured meat section, where we indulged in yet more samples – this time of the dried horse-meat sausage (very tasty!) and a salami that had been made out of horse-meat.

Cured products - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Then there was the dried/smoked fish and caviar section

dried fish - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

The spices section

spices - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

The honey section – Kazakhstan is very proud of its honeys

honey - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

And the “eastern medicine” section, where you could buy brews to cure all manner of ills, as well as other more exotic things like frogs, snakes and crickets.

eastern medicine - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

I actually tried one of the dried crickets dipped in honey – the vendors were all looking at me so expectantly!  

Eating crickets - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Eating crickets with honey in the Green Bazaar. To be honest, it wasn’t great…

All I can say is thank goodness for the honey!  That was lovely, the rest of it really just tasted like dry dust…  And yes I was kinda chewing on what felt like wing-bits for a while afterwards…

Our final stop was downstairs to the fresh produce section.  This was less nice than upstairs given it was quite dingy and dark – and the produce mostly consisted of root vegetables, herbs and apples.   Almaty actually means “apple”, and Kazakhstan is renowned for its apples.   They are particularly proud of the Aport apples – which grow to be quite large.

fruit - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan

Then to top it all off, I actually had a tomato that tasted like a tomato 😊   Those of you who know me, knows this is one of my ultimate tests of food … and it was delicious!

tomatos - Green Bazaar - Almaty - Kazakhstan



If you are interested in markets and trying local foods, can definitely recommend Dennis’ Green Bazaar tour with Walking Almaty.

Cost:  USD$30 + cost of the meal (~USD$5)

Time: 2 hours

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me:

Eat Porto!

So, if you’ve been reading along for the past year, you know by now that I have an obsession with typical foods of whichever country I’m visiting.   Portugal was no exception – and I have to admit – it has some of the best treats on the planet!   I reckon I put on over a kilo during the week I visited 🙁

I was very slack at taking photos of the dishes I ate while in the Alentejo region with Jose (trust me, there were many, and all of them enormous), so tried to make up for it in Porto!

And it all started with a classic:  the Pastéis de Nata – a rich egg custard in layers of crisp, flaky pastry.


I love these things (best when dusted with cinnamon as well), and I’m not alone.  It is possibly the most popular Portuguese pastry, and you can now find them all around the world. 

Given I was hungry, I also had a Rissóis de Camarão (shrimp croquette) – a very popular Portuguese snack – from the same place.  It is basically prawns in a type of béchamel sauce, wrapped in pastry, breaded and deep fried.   Also very good!   Yes, I have a savoury AND a sweet tooth 🙂

Rissol de camarão

Next up:  a heart attack on a plate, and Porto’s typical dish – Francesinha.  The “Little Frenchie” is definitely not for vegetarians, consisting of bread and layers upon layers of different types of meat, then topped off with melted cheese and a tomato and beer-based gravy.


Heart-attack on a plate – Francesinha

Healthy?  It most definitely was not!   Tasty?  Well, it did have a lot of flavour, but the problem was that I didn’t particularly like the flavour.  Having learned what the ingredients are, I suspect this was due to the beer-based gravy – certainly it was that part of the dish that was giving me the most problems.   And although another of my friends graciously offered to switch dishes with me, I ate my way through it … taste-buds becoming more and more numb to the taste as I progressed.   Loads of Portuguese can’t be wrong … but I won’t be ordering it again 🙂

In the evening, we wandered over past the Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular to the Mercado Bom Sucesso.    This monument commemorates the victory of the Portuguese (the lion) over Napoleon’s French troops (the eagle) during the Peninsula War (1807–1814), but unfortunately what I saw was a lion humping an eagle on top of a very tall column!   A million apologies for the irreverence 🙁

Monumento aos Heróis da Guerra Peninsular - Porto

The Mercado Bom Sucesso is an awesome place to eat, filled with lots of little cafes serving all sorts of different things.  In keeping with my theme of trying little bits of alcohol, especially if they are typical, I had a go at Poncha – the typical drink from Madeira island.   It is basically aguardiente (the alcohol), sugar and juice from a fruit in season, and wasn’t too bad (I still struggle with the taste of all alcohol).  I did manage to finish it 🙂


Poncha, typical drink from Madeira island

And it was here that I found my favourite Portuguese treat (apart from the Nata of course). The Jesuíta!   Created by the Jesuits (no prizes for guessing there), it is a triangular confection consisting of layers of thin, flaky pastry, with a thin filling of egg cream, and topped with a crispy, sweet, cinnamon-meringue crust.    


My favourite Portuguese treat – a Jesuíta from the Mercado Bom Sucesso

It was heaven!   I was so impressed, I ordered them everywhere else I went around Porto – but none was as good as this first one from the Mercado Bom Sucesso.

So, that was the first day of eating in Porto…. and there might have been one or two other treats consumed in there as well :-/ 

Other typical food that I tried during my time around Porto:

Pastel de Chaves – flaky pastry with minced meat and spices inside.  This name of this pastry is actually protected by the European Union since 1995. 

Pastel de Chaves

Clarinha de Fão – a thin pastry, dusted with icing sugar and filled with chila pumpkin beaten with egg yolks. 

Clarinha de Fão

Bola de Berlim – essentially a Portuguese doughnut with an egg-yolk-based filling.

Bola de Berlim

You might be starting to notice a trend emerging with the sweet pastries … the Portuguese use a LOT of egg-yolks!   So bad.  But oh so yummy!

And finally, a couple of typical dishes cooked specially for me by my friends 🙂

Alheira – a delicious garlicky bread and game sausage – traditionally made without pork (follow the link for the story behind this).   Typically served with boiled potatoes and Grelos – a green leafy vegetable.


The sausage is the Alheira

Pão-de-ló – yet another coronary-inducing dessert with so many egg yolks that you don’t even want to know about it!   I was a little worried that it was actually going to taste like egg yolks, but nothing like it!   Absolutely delicious – I went back for seconds, but thought I’d better stop at that point…..


I absolutely love the food of Portugal and can’t wait to visit again to work my way through some more of the pastries and other goodies on offer – and to have another Jesuíta (or 10) from the Mercado Bom Sucesso.

Like what you have read? Please follow and like me: