ISRAEL – A PARADISE FOR VEGETARIANS

When planning a trip to Israel, you’re likely to pack your suitcases thinking about exploring the country’s history, ruins and UNESCO world heritage sights while satiating your curiosity about its culture, religious significance and political background. While all these definitely create a lasting impact on your mind, what truly blows you away is Israel’s flourishing culinary scene that boasts of food that is begging to be photographed.
Hummus and falafel

The food there is fresh, flavorful, innovative and downright delicious! And the best part? All that food can be vegetarian and high on health quotient! That means, if you eat in moderation (which is rather tough), you may not come back with uncomfortably tight jeans or a bulging tummy! While most dishes consist of fresh, juicy veggies, meat lovers have their own share of finger-licking specialities like shawarma, kofta b’siniyah (meatballs) and plenty of delicious fish and seafood. While shellfish is a more common sight on menus, lobsters, oysters, octopus and scallops are other popular favourites. However, with vegetarian options galore, even a committed non-vegetarian is happy to tuck into all the ghaas phoos. After all, Israel is listed as one of the top vegetarian-friendly destinations in the world!

A fusion like no other 

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Israeli cuisine exemplifies the true melting pot that is Israel. At the end of the 19th century, jews from over 80 countries returned to their ancient land, bringing with them the food cultures from far and wide. Yes, geography has a large influence on the country’s cuisine which is a delectable blend of recipes from North Africa (Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria), its Middle Eastern neighbours (Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq), as well as the Mediterranean countries, along with Eastern Europe and Russia. Among other things that have shaped the cuisine are Jewish dietary laws and festivals as well as the native ingredients of the land. No wonder chickpea specialities like hummus, pickled olives, Arabic coffee and freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice are some of the items that make an appearance throughout the country! Also lunch, rather than dinner, is the focal meal of the day in Israel!

On the menu

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A TASTE OF MOD OZ (What to eat when in South Australia)

In South Australia, what’s on your plate is as diverse as the region’s people and scenery. Here’s an epicurean’s guide to the mecca of “fusion food

Adelaide Central Market

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SWISS CUISINE – A POTPOURRI OF INFLUENCES

Apart from being a harmonious tableau of beautiful images, Switzerland is home to a hearty traditional cuisine. Stay with me as I find out what’s cooking in the land of four languages

ENGADIN St. Moritz: Champagner-Feeling in Engadin St. Moritz

While Switzerland borders France in the West, Germany in the north, Austria and the principality of Liechtenstein in the east and Italy in the south, you can only imagine its culinary diversity.

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TOP 10 COFFEE SPOTS IN DUBAI

Whether it’s a latte you’re after or a double shot of espresso, there’s no shortage of independent cafes in Dubai to satisfy your every coffee urge. With the help of Kim Thompson, one half of home-grown roastery Raw Coffee Company, I bring you spots you can head to when you’re in need of a caffeine fix. Be part of our burgeoning cafe culture of Dubai!

1. Try everything on the menu at The Brass

the-brass-lavendar-latteLavender latte at The Brass

Tucked away in City Walk is this shiny new gem, which boasts one of the most extensive coffee menus in the city. They’ve got all the classics – latte, cappuccino et al – with a plethora of original blends, including Lavender Honey Latte, rosewater-infused white coffee, a dairy-free Coconut Latte … Aficionados can take it a step further and nominate how they want their coffee delivered: via French press, siphon, cold drip or pour-over.
Address: City Walk, Al Safa Road

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POLSKA à la carte

Known for its medieval architecture and Jewish heritage, Poland in Eastern Europe boasts of a food scene that can lure even the most contained eaters. Melt-in-the-mouth meat dishes, butter-fried dumplings, warming spiced wine, mushrooms galore and, not-to-forget, the juiciest apples in the world

They often say – to get to know the history, culture and tradition of a country, you must sample its cuisine. And if the country would be Poland, you’d never want to book a return ticket back home. Yes, there is so much to eat and explore.

The soul of Poland lies in its food. The main meal of the day is dinner, eaten in early afternoon. Sunday dinner, prepared at home, belongs to family tradition and usually involves inviting family and close friends. What lies on most Polish dining tables is pork, but there is no shortage of beef, poultry and fish. Hearty soups are also popular. To prepare some of the tastiest local dishes, Poles often use seasonal vegetables and horseradish together with Mediterranean garlic and dill, exotic pepper, paprika, marjoram and oriental pink spice and cinnamon. But at the core of Polish taste are sweets: apple pies, poppy-seed cakes, Papel cake, cheesecakes, gingerbread etc. An obligatory addition to every Easter meal are mazurka (sweet cakes made with honey and filled with nuts and fruit) – a confection entirely unknown outside Poland.

PIEROGI – POLISH DUMPLINGS

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In the capital city Warsaw, there are many eateries solely dedicated to pierogi. Hunt for one of these to feast on pierogi in its most authentic avatar

If you thought it were the Chinese who had their copyright over delicious dumplings, you’ll be glad to know that the Poles too have their own buttery version of this light treat. Similar to Japanese gyoza or the Italian ravioli, Polish pierogi are made of thinly-rolled dough, boiled or fried and stuffed with various fillings, both sweet and spicy. There’s a lot to choose from – white cheese, meat, potatoes, cottage cheese and onions, spinach, mushrooms, groat, lentils, fruits and more. Another speciality is uszka (small, twisted version of pierogi) filled with dried wild mushrooms, dished up in clear borscht (beetroot soup of Ukrainian origin).

ALL THINGS MUSHROOM

All things 'Mushrooms'
If you happen to visit Poland in autumn, don’t forget to go for a mushroom-plucking session with a local. Picture yourself walking in a serene forest with a cane basket on your shoulder. Doesn’t it seem like a great way to spend some time in the bosom of nature?

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TASTING GHENT

The city of Gothic architecture, Ghent in Belgium, is a place that should not only be visited but also tasted

WORLD’S BEST WAFFLES

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We tried a strawberry waffle at Max, Goudenleeuwplein 3 – an 1839 establishment famous for inventing apple fritters and Brussels waffle – and it was like eating a bit of history

If waffles have always been your weakness, leaving the Flemish city without sampling a home-baked warm waffle would be a serious offence. Belgium’s street food, classic Ghent waffles are crisp on the outside and airy on the inside (literally; even the ones with a micro appetite can easily gobble down two to three king-sized waffles without complaining of overeating) and to be had with a sprinkle of snowy powdered sugar. These waffles are so well made that they don’t really need a mask of maple syrup or any extra-sweet toppings to make them inviting. They are pure happiness all in their crisp, plain form; just the waft of these waffles can transport you to seventh heaven. But if you fancy a waffle meal, try one with a dollop of whipped cream and freshly-sliced strawberries or even Belgium-special dark chocolate.

PUNGENT MUSTARD

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Located in the heart of the city at Groentenmarkt 3, Tierenteyn-Verlent sells its own freshly-made mustard and I bet you’ll love it

Some hate it, some love it, Ghent mustard with its strong piquancy can set your mouth on fire! But after the initial sharp taste, you quite tend to crave its distinct spiciness. Located in the heart of the city at Groentenmarkt 3, Tierenteyn-Verlent produces arguably the best preservative-free mustard in Ghent since last 200 years (since 1790 without the slightest change in its taste). And it’s never more than three days old. What you see is barrels filled with freshly-prepared mustard. Pick one of the signature stone jars or glass bottles in your preferable size (price ranging from €1.80 to €8.80 depending on the size of the bottle) and get your mustard skilfully ladled in it. Ghent mustard makes for a great souvenir for yourself as well as your foodie loved ones as it goes well with everything from different varieties of cheese to meat platter and, of course, beer. Yes, you heard it right. Almost anything is edible with a dab of Ghent mustard on it!

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MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH CHOCOLATE IN BELGIUM

It’s really hard to not love a place that offers the three most delicious things in the world – chocolates, waffles and beer.

Even before I booked my tickets to Belgium, I already had my chocolate-crazy friends making special requests to get them all possible varieties of Belgian dark chocolates. And this made me even more curious about what these oh-so-special “Belgium Chocolates” tasted like.

My romantic rendezvous with Belgian dark chocolate began the very moment I landed at Brussels airport. One of our co-travellers was yet to arrive and we decided to kill time by sipping a cup of hot chocolate at a trendy coffee bar. For a perpetual dark chocolate lover like me, it was almost close to experiencing one of life’s greatest joys.

Whirling it in my mouth, I could easily distinguish the Belgian choco drink from any other I’d had before. Decadently rich. Smooth in texture. And just the right amount of sweetness; nothing less, nothing more.

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