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Monday, 30 December 2013

I'm going to Canada!



I sadly haven't been able to update as much as usual, this is due to a combination of family bonding time/Christmas festivities and a skiing trip. On which note I'd like to announce some news! Next year, starting around August I will be living and studying in Canada; more specifically in Hamilton, Ontario which is just outside of Toronto. I've secured a place at McMaster University and I'll be living there for the next year. Obviously this will bring some huge changes to my life; I've lived in Canada before, but only for a period of 6 weeks, this is clearly a much longer commitment. It's safe to say I'm ridiculously excited about living in Canada- maple syrup, ice hockey and moose's (moose...meese...I don't know). Whilst I'm out there I'm hoping to travel around a bit when possible, I'd love to visit Labrador, Montreal and of course go back to Whistler! The other exciting thing I have planned is the potential for an American road trip over the summer. Although this is ADVANCED planning to the max and I always advise people not to plan too much in the future... I'm really passionate about this road trip and it's something I've always been interested in doing (see previous posts)! Anyway, I'd love to know if anyone has any comments about living in Canada or living abroad in general. If you've been to Canada; where did you visit? The foodie in me would also like to know of any brilliant restaurants in Toronto...? This is going to be wonderful eh.

Monday, 23 December 2013

SKIING > IRAN



After recently returning from a week skiing in Les Arcs and excited by the prospect of spending next winter in Canada (oh I'm living there next year by the way), I've decided to dedicate a post to my love of skiing and where the next go-to destination could be... And I decided on Iran. I'm sure you're all probably shaking your heads in disbelief and muttering 'oh she's finally gone crazy', but the quality of skiing in Iran is one of the country’s best kept secrets. As great as VT and LA are (who doesn't love a beer swishing apr├Ęs), Iran as a skiing destination represents something a little more exotic and fresh for keen skiers and boarders. The Alborz Mountains boast a quiet landscape of snowy peaks, far from the crushing queues and angry locals in the Alps. The resorts themselves are apparently much more Western than one might expect, with Austrian style chalets and house music pumping from outdoor stages, starkly contrasting to the transfer through Tehran.  This is to be expected however, as skiing in these regions is much more available to the small group of wealthy elites. Dizin is one of the largest ski resorts of the area and reviews suggest that the off-piste skiing is some of the best available worldwide, if you're looking for more of a challenge. Other than that, there is a surprising amount and variation of runs for your more average skier, so if you're not into fresh pow off the side of a cliff then you're good to go. Despite gender segregated lift lines and a strict ban on booze (sorry no jagerbombs), dedicated skiers should flock to Iran before everyone else does. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

LEEDS RESTAURANTS > ORANAISE


This year, for a slightly 'alternative' Christmas meal, me and some friends from my university course decided to go to a local restaurant in Leeds. Oranaise is a North African restaurant, specialising in Moroccan style tagines, cous cous dishes and mezze platters. The decor is gorgeous and emulates a very North African feel though it's decorative use of patterned lanterns, gold fringed cushions and warm candles. Me and a friend ordered a pot of traditional Moroccan mint tea, flavoured with honey, cinnamon and blossom water; this for some is quite a sweet tea, so order without the honey if you don't have such a sweet tooth. The menu has so much to choose from and many of us were tempted by tapas starters, hummus, falafel and tzatziki platters. In the end, we all ordered a variety of tagines; the overall response of which was mixed. My tagine was a 'Dolma'; flavoured with aubergine, mince, chickpeas and green peppers. It had layers of cumin and lemon, served with a few slices of homemade bread and the portion size was just enough. Overall, the spicy and tangy flavours were well mixed, however the meat was slightly too salty and I wasn't entirely sure it complemented the dish. Another friends meal had what I can only decribe as 'would you like any tagine with those olives?' which safe to say, when cooked, were overly briny and 'mushy'. The chicken tagines in general were lacking flavour and spice, which is a shame considering how well the lamb and vegetable tagines were received. If I were to visit in the future, I would stick to the traditional, house special tagines as these seem to be the more authentically flavoured and well-practiced dishes. Also, this style of food definitely doesn't appeal to everyone, but I would recommend trying it out at least, you might find you have a soft spot for chermoula!


Saturday, 7 December 2013

CHRISTMAS RECIPES > STUDENT MOUNTAIN PASTA

Doesn't look like much, but tastes like Austria. Austria tastes good.
Christmas, and winter in general for me is synonymous with skiing, I used to travel every year to Austria and therefore I get a certain sense of nostalgia for everything a bit Austrian and snowy. I'm a little bit in love with Austrian cuisine aswell, favourites including marzipan laden stollen, chocolate covered lebkuchen and goulash soup. I believe that traditional mountain food needs to be; filling, warming and packed with energy. Trust me I spent a couple of weeks skiing with squished cheese sandwiches in my pockets in 2012; it's important to have a proper meal! It is with this all in mind I present to you the students version of a mountain meal, a comforting, calorie packed pasta dish, perfect for a frosty day- or if you can ever be bothered to cook after a day’s skiing! Nigella's version of this uses pancetta, vermouth and banana shallots, I will be using bacon and red onion (if you have any leftover white wine from a night out go ahead and use this too- Lambrini however is not acceptable). Firstly, pre heat the oven to around 200 on fan. Cut around 200g of potatoes into cubes and add to a pan of boiling salted water. Let these bubble for around 5 mins then add around 200g of your choice of pasta and cook for around 10 mins. Meanwhile, heat garlic oil in a pan; fry 2-3 rashers of chopped bacon with a teaspoon of dried thyme. Cook for 5 mins then add half a chopped red onion. Cook these together until the bacon is crisping up and the onion softens. Take the pan off the heat and add your optional 50ml of white wine and 100ml of double cream; stir this well together. Maybe add some grated nutmeg too, it's up to you, I'm not the boss of you. Drain the pasta and potatoes and pour the creamy bacon mix in with the potatoes into an ovenproof dish. Add plenty of grated cheese (I used cheddar but you can use something fancier if you wish). Pop this in the oven for around 20 mins and enjoy straight out of the pan.


P.s. this will make enough for 2 students, or one hungry one.