Tortilla time!

After my visit to Wahaca in London, I came back home inspired and decided to make one of my favorite Mexican dishes: tortilla soup.
As you may have noticed, I'm no pro when it comes to cooking, and I can't find many ingredients here in Italy so I always search the internet to get the easiest recipe and in this case I found one and added my personal touch :)
It was fast and pretty easy to make so everyone can try it!

Tortilla Soup (my way)
Ingredients: (serves 4)
2 medium tomatoes (or half a bottle of tomato sauce)
1/2 an onion (diced)
1 garlic clove
4 cups of water
5 teaspoons of chicken broth powder
1 sprig of parsley
1/2 teaspoon of dried origano
1 pasilla (or ancho) chile (remove seeds)
12 tortillas cut in thin stripes
Frying oil

To serve with:
1 avocado, diced
sour cream
fresh cheese (panela type), diced
1 pasilla (or ancho) chile (remove seeds), diced

Heat enough oil to fry in a big pan or wok, once it's hot add the tortillas and fry until crispy. Keep wrapped in kitchen paper.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep pan, mix the tomatoes (or the sauce), the onion and garlic in a blender. Strain and pour into the pan, fry for a couple of minutes, add the water and let it boil. Add the chicken broth, the chile and the parsley and cook it, mixing once in a while, for 15 minutes. Remove the parsley.
To serve: add 1/4 of the tortillas in each plate, add the soup and the diced avocado, cheese, chile and a teaspoon of sour cream.


Dear Santa,


Vietnamese, my love!

Another London restaurant post, I know, but what can I do?! I love London, and what I love more is eating Asian food in London!
This time we went to a street called Kingsland Road in Shoreditch (north of Liverpool St.) that is also called "Pho Road" after all the Vietnamese restaurants there; what Brick Lane is for Indian food, Kingsland Road is for Vietnamese. Anyhow, we were advised to visit Viet Hoa Cafe, which turned out to be a hidden gem. Not crowded, minimalistic decor (and not those cheesy oriental lamps that I can't stand), courteous (perhaps a bit clumpsy) service and absolutely delicious food! We had spring rolls, Banh xeo (a crispy pancake with prawns), the Bun soup with prawns, Prawns with tamarind sauce and the Viet Hoa noodles with prawns (yes, we love prawns!), hot & sour peanut butter sauce and lemon leaves; and of course some Vietnamese beer. The spring rolls were amazing, best I've ever had, crispy and not oily at all. The pancake was just ok, the soup was delicious but maybe a bit too spicy and I heard the prawns were very good, also a bit spicy but the noodles were great as well. The prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere is relaxed, perfect for a Sunday evening. Unfortunately I didn't bring my camera but here are some pictures of what we ate looked like:
Bun soup

Spring rolls

Viet Hoa Cafe is on 70-72 Kingsland Road, London.
Delivery is also available. Their website is: http://www.viethoarestaurant.co.uk/cafe.html
A must if you like Vietnamese!


Wahaca? Sounds good!

Hey there! We spent this weekend in London but I'm not gonna bore you with pics and description about the touristic sights since probably most of you have already been there (if not, turn off your computers right now, ok, but not before booking a ticket to London!). Instead I'll write about Wahaca. What? Wahaca, it is a Mexican food chain with diverse locations in London serving market food or street food, stuff that you would typical find in a Mexican street cart or a market stand.
I must confess that after living in Italy for over 10 years, I have never found a real authentic Mexican restaurant anywhere in Italy so everytime I find the real deal the least I can do is write about it.
Anyhow, after wandering around Soho we found it in Wardour Street, what I would call "Foodie Street" after all the nice restaurants we passed by (and the bakeries like Hummingbird Bakery - one of the hardest things I've ever done was passing by and not stopping for a cupcake!). The place is casual, relaxed with friendly atmosphere, street art in the walls and minimalistic decor; visit the bathrooms downstairs, they are nice! and the tequila bar with foosball tables!
inside Wahaca Soho
 Your menu card is also your place mat and your reference list since when you order your waiter circles your orders in it. The menu has well explained dishes varying from appetizers, salads, main courses, desserts, etc. a great selection of tequilas (please try the Don Julio!) and a not so bad selection of beers. They got me when I saw they had Pacifico beer, my favorite!
Pacifico, best Mexican beer!
So, together with our beers we had an order of guacamole, the Pork Pibil tacos (3), the chicken mole tacos (3) and a big chipotle chicken quesadilla to share. Everything was great, authentic market food, and if a Mexican tells you, then you should believe it!
Pork Pibil tacos

Chicken mole tacos (couldn't resist to eat one before the pic!)

Chipotle chicken quesadilla
 We could have eaten more (and I would have loved to get a glass of horchata water -almond and rice milky drink- !) but we were going to have dinner in a couple of hours so this was just to nibble. The total was around £25 including tip. They don't take reservations so be prepared to wait, it's totally worth it! Oh, and with your check they bring chili seeds so you can plant your own at home, how conveninent!

Wahaca Soho is located in 80 Wardour Street, London. Other locations: Canary Wharf, Covent Garden, Westifield White City, Westfiled Stratford and a street cart that moves around London! Don't forget to check their nice website: www.wahaca.co.uk


Torvehallerne - Copenhagen

About a month ago I read an article on the NYTimes about the new Torvehallerne, a (partially) covered marketplace with gourmet specialties in Copenhagen. Being a fan of Copenhagen, marketplaces and food, I decided to try it on out recent trip to Copenhagen.

It was funny to see how they turned a parking lot, which I used to pass by everyday while I lived in Copenhagen, in 2 parallel covered structures filled with gourmet stands. There are like 3 or 4 bakeries offering delicious cupcakes and Danish pastries, an Italian deli with great sandwiches, sushi and tapas places, fruit and fish stands, butcher, florist and even an ecologic kebab cart outside: a foodies paradise!
But after visiting the Boqueria market in Barcelona and the newly refurbished San Miguel market in Madrid, I was a bit disappointed with the architecture of Torvehallerne. First of all, we are in Denmark, it rains and snows often from September to June so what's the point of dividing the two structures? If one wants to go from one structure to the other and it's raining/snowing, one has to cross this open-air space to get there; why not making a unique, big covered structure? Also, there are tables outside and a couple of stools at some of the food stands inside; while it's nice to grab a sandwich or coffee and enjoy it outside sitting in a bench on a sunny summer afternoon, again, what do you do when it's raining/snowing? Since there was a lot of space and since they were building something new, it would have been nicer to get tables and stools in a covered space, like a food court maybe.
However, my favorite spot in Torvehallerne remains Agnes Cupcakes ***CLOSED***, I've tried their cupcakes from the other location in Sværtegade some months ago and loved them (their apple cupcake is to die for!). Apparently cupcakes are the new must in Copenhagen so don't forget to pay a visit to Agnes and Torvehallerne!

Torvehallerne is located in Frederiksborggade, just off Norreport Station. While coffee shops and bakeries are open everyday from 7 to 21, the rest of the stands have different opening hours (closed on Mondays) so make sure you check the website before visiting.


Travel Nerd

I just bumped into a nice article on Tripbase which made me realize: I am a Travel Nerd! and proud to be!
Here are some of the signs they describe:

1) You always look up the inflight movies so you can most effectively plan your flight time. - Yes, and sometimes I even choose the airline based on their inflight entertainment! And their menu!
4) You can recite the rewards miles needed for any major destination on most airlines. - OK, no, I'm not that freaky!
5) You find factual errors in travel shows, and email the corrections. -  I find them, but I'm too lazy to send e-mails
9) When you arrive in a new city you give your driver precise directions according to your GPS. - I don't like drivers, I prefer public transportation and I never get lost
10) You know the tipping etiquette for more than 10 countries. - Yes
11) You refer to cities by their three letter airport code. - Definitely!
13) Other tourists ask you for directions and you always know where to go because you’ve memorized the downtown map. - Yes!
14) You know the area codes for most US cities. - For some, yes. I know the area codes for the hotels I've stayed at, so my online shopping parcels arrive safe
18) You carry Ryanair approved luggage so you don’t incur additional fees. - For sure!
19) You pick restaurants based on their participation in airline mileage programs and calculate your order to maximize points. - No, no, no. I pick restaurants based on their delicious food
20) Your email is on a steady out-of-office notification. - I don't really get that much work e-mail :)
22) You know which airports have free wifi and which do not. - Sure!
23) You contemplate big purchases based on how many dinners in Paris they are equivalent to. - No, but I contemplate purchases in terms of how many bags I can buy
24) Noise canceling earphones are totally worth the cost. - Definitely, especially in Italy!
26) When you are at home you still look up every location on Google Maps. - Yes, I mean, who doesn't?!
27) You have spent a small fortune on iPhone travel apps. - Luckily, I have an android phone so most of my travel apps are free! (haha, iPhone suckers! - kidding-)
28) Your luggage has been lost so many times you don’t worry about it anymore. - I always have an extra outfit in my hand luggage, that counts!
30) You don’t need a currency converter you can do it in your head. - No, actually I suck at currency converting, but there's a free app for that too!
31) You visit your favorite travel bloggers and advise them on where to go next.- Yes!
32) You use Skype more than a regular phone. - Definitely
33) You create song lists for upcoming holidays.- I must confess, yes.
35) You visit a location more than once just to become its mayor on FourSquare. - If I like it, yes!
37) You plan your friends and family’s vacations, just for fun.- Even my bosses'!
40) The hardest relationship you have left was with your travel agent when you realized you knew more than them.- Yes, and that was like 10 years ago, last time I trusted a travel agent!
42) You collect beer coasters from around the world. - hotel soap bars count?
43) Most of your Facebook friends are not from your hometown. - Definitely!
44) You evaluate prospective careers based on allowable vacation time. - Yesss!
49) You don’t need SeatGuru as you’ve memorized the best seats on every type of plane. - Yes!
50) Tripbase is your home page.- It will be from now on!

OK, so, based on my answers, if The Big Bang Theory nerds were Travel Nerds, I wouldn't be neither at Sheldon's level, nor at Penny's! I know my way around but I'm not that freaky!