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Coffee obsession: continued

26 Oct

Some people call me a coffee snob; I like to call myself a coffee connoisseur. Honestly, though, the most accurate term is probably coffee nerd. I collect all varieties of coffee grinders, brewers and makers, some of which I’ve already told you about. This month I got both an AeroPress and a (long-awaited) Turkish coffee pot. Two! In one month! Nerd heaven.

The AeroPress

I saw this maker randomly online and was soon won over by the myriad of positive reviews about it. I know, I know – you can’t trust the internet! But this nifty little maker is every bit as good as I thought it would be, if not better.  To use the AeroPress, you pour very finely ground coffee into the bottom half of the container. Then you just mix with hot water, place it on top of a cup and slowly press down the plunger. When you push the plunger down, the coffee is “pressed” by the “air” (haha) through the filter and into the cup.

My AeroPress makes one of the smoothest and least acidic cups of coffee I’ve ever tasted! I would highly recommend it to anyone.

The Turkish pot, I’ve used before. Toward the end of my 5-month stint in Eastern Europe, I was drinking two or three cups of Turkish coffee a day. Alas, though, I forgot to buy a pot to take home with me. So, long story short, I received one this month straight from Serbia (via equally long-awaited friend) and it is now my very own! Here it is, in all its cuteness:

I asked for the most colorful pot available 🙂

Turkish coffee is made on the stove, and although there are many variations of the process, I heat up the water until it’s almost boiling, then stir in the ground coffee and reheat it just a little bit more.

The ground for Turkish coffee is also fine, almost like powder. My friend brought me a legit Serbian grinder, which makes the perfect grind for a good ol’ cup of velvety caffeine.

Ooh, heavenly, right?

I have been a very happy girl these past couple of weeks; even though life has been extremely busy, I’ve gotten to use both of my new toys multiple times! If you can tell, I’ve also gotten to play with the new camera I got for my birthday…I’m definitely still a novice, but I fully expect that one day you’ll see pictures of all my coffee equipment in Time Magazine. At which point, I will have enough money to travel the world searching out even more ways to brew! Ah, life is good.

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4 reasons why new food is awesome

3 Aug

1) New food is a hot commodity

You can’t get new food anywhere. I mean, c’mon, I’ve had a lot of food in my life. It’s not every day I can get my hands on something I’ve never tasted!

2) It’s exciting and mysterious

I love surprises. I love not knowing what something will taste like, or even what’s all in it. The thrill of experiencing the hustle and bustle of a new city is on par to tasting that city’s specialty dish (mmm!).

The meal on my flight to Japan might have been more mysterious than exciting…

3) You can more fully experience small details

Think of meeting a someone new. You say hello, shake hands, maybe ask a few general questions. Five minutes into your conversation, you’ve judged whether or not you like them. If you do, you talk longer and discover a smidgen of their past, their favorite places to hang out and other details that make them unique. Accordingly, when you spy a new food, you scope it out. Give it a cautious sniff and inspect its ingredients. Then you take a bite. If you like it, you eat more, and as you do, you experience its notes of flavor fully and form adjectives for certain characteristics of it in your mind. Granted, you might learn more about a food each time you eat it, but that first bite has your total attention, allowing you to fully enjoy the details.

4) It tells about a country’s identity

In nearly every culture, meals are a time for community. What get-together doesn’t have food in the mix? A lame one, believe you me. If you want to call up that friend you haven’t seen awhile, you ask her to meet you for coffee or at a deli. Why? Food lightens the mood. We’ve been trained to associate food with good feelings (aka, coffee and friendship). Since food is such an important part of everyones’ lives, the things a person eats tells you a bit about them.

I’m not sure what this snack says about me…

Why do you enjoy new food?

Yogurt is taking over the world

12 Apr

A few weeks ago, I told you about the world’s (and my!) coffee obsession. Today we’ll learn about another food item that spread all around the world. Yogurt! Although yogurt doesn’t exactly cause as much excitement as coffee, I, for one, love it.

My yogurt adoration picked up steam when I got a job at Pinkberry. Every time I worked a shift, I was allowed one free cup of frozen yogurt. It was my first experience with tart yogurt, although I was a moderate fan of Yoplait at the time, which is more sweet and fruity.

Another factor in my yogurt love was my five-month stint in Eastern Europe. A normal breakfast drink there is creamy tart yogurt. When I returned home, I missed it so much that I made my own jogurt. Essentially, that entails boiling pasteurized milk, mixing it with live active culture yogurt and letting it sit out for 12 hours. My mom thought I was going to die.

One of my favorite breakfasts - yogurt parfait!

After researching several countries through this blog, I found out a lot of other people are crazy about yogurt too! In fact, it’s next to impossible to go anywhere in the world where they do not consume yogurt.

Here are some interesting varieties of this delicious, nutritious food item:

Iceland

Called skyr, Icelandic yogurt is strained of all its water content to create a thicker consistency (it’s similar to Greek yogurt, which has become popular in the U.S.).

West Sumatra

Dadih yogurt is made from water buffalo milk and fermented in bamboo tubes.

Tibet

Tibetan yogurt is made from yak milk!

The Balkans

Jogurt is often made into cold soup with cucumber, olive oil, salt or dill. It’s usually a side dish.

Jordan

Jordanians salt their yogurt, dry it into chunks and call it jameed.

India

Raita is yogurt seasoned with cilantro, mint or other herbs and mixed with vegetables such as cucumber and onions. The mixture is served chilled and works as an antidote for spicy Indian dishes.

Japan

This doesn’t really count, but I had to include it. Pepsi came out with a new flavor of cola that they sold only in Japan. It was called Pepsi White, “pepsi and yogurt flavor.” This didn’t catch on. I wonder why…

Do any of these international yogurts catch your eye (or stomach)?

Visiting Turkey through kebab

29 Mar

Kebab with flatbread

Over spring break, my sister treated me to a meal at a Turkish restaurant, and I knew what food my next blog would feature! Flavorful meat with spicy sides is the trademark of Turkish food. A popular wrap with these ingredients, called a gyro or a kebab, is a staple in many countries surrounding Turkey as well, including Europe, Africa and Asia.

If you’ve ever eaten at a Middle Eastern, Greek or North African restaurant, you’ve probably seen them scrape lamb or beef off a huge chunk of spinning meat. The first hurdle I had to tackle was finding a way to create a small batch of meat that was comparable.

Creamed meat, anyone?

The recipe I found was a sort of compact meatloaf made up of beef and lamb. It tasted good, but instead of nice slices, the meat sort of fell into smallish chunks. I made bazlama, Turkish flatbread, to go with the meat. I’ve never made flatbread before, so I was amazed that raw dough could cook in just a minute or two on a hot pan! Finally, I covered the mixture with cucumber yogurt sauce.

Overall, my “Turkish” dish was good, but it didn’t really taste like anything I’ve eaten from a Turkish restaurant or street vendor.

I haven’t given up on Turkish food, though, and will try it again soon! As for now, at least I know I can make legit Turkish coffee. The Turks became dearer to my heart when I found out they introduced coffee to Europe. Also, they were the first to make yogurt, which I love. Well done, Turkey, well done!

Apart from food, the jewel of Turkey is Istanbul, the only city in the world that lies in two continents – Europe and Asia. Istanbul has a long history that includes being the capital of three empires!

A popular attraction in Istanbul is Topkapi Palace, home to former Turkish powers. It has been turned into a museum and takes almost half a day to tour the whole thing. For the haggler at heart, a visit to the Grand Bazaar might be tempting. The thousands of shops attract around 300,000 people daily. After finding a good bargain, you might want to go somewhere less crowded. Surrounding Istanbul are the Walls of Constantinople, a centuries-old fortification system on which you can walk and observe the city.

Over on the West Coast lies one of the best-preserved ancient cities in the world. Ephesus is jam-packed with historic ruins and is home to the famed Temple of Artemis. The Temple is mostly gone now, but there are plenty of other ruins to see, like the Library of Ephesus, the Gateway to Ephesus or the Theatre that housed gladiator fights and other ancient entertainment.

Personally I’d like to try paragliding in coastal Oludeniz, arguably the top location for paragliding in the world! When in the air, you have a spectacular view of the bright blue lagoon and panoramic mountains. Afterwards, time to hit the beach!

I don’t like to play favorites, but I have to admit that Turkey is near the top of my “countries to visit” list! If not Istanbul or a Turkish beach, where in the world would you most like to go?