Lunch in the Blue Mountains, Australia

Apparently the name “Blue Mountains” comes from the reflection of eucalyptus trees in the sunlight. Whether or not I believe this myth is a different story.Nonetheless, the area is magnificently beautiful. (Doesn’t it look more like a canyon than a mountain range?) An exciting hike was followed by lunch at The Conservation Hut near Wentworth Falls. I had a pressed vegetable focaccia sandwich with a tapenade spread. While the service was sub-par and not particularly friendly, the food was delicious and satisfied my hungry body after our hike. We ordered a serving of chips to go along with our meals. I’m not a huge fan of ketchup, which in Australia is called tomato sauce. “Pasta sauce” means “tomato sauce for pasta.” These fries didn’t come with tomato sauce, but instead with what seems to be the Australian substitution for ketchup: aioli. Garlicky, creamy, goodness. I’d take aioli any day over ketchup, though it would likely give me a heart attack if I continually ate fries and aioli.



A Cheesy Predicament

I am a lucky girl. My first tomato, mozzarella, basil panini was in Cannes, France, where I was studying one summer. After my first bite, I knew that I would be eating this sandwich for the rest of my life. And that is not an understatement. I ordered this panini at every lunch and every dinner, occasionally swapping this sandwich for a Nutella panini. In France, you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, right?

This is one of the largest TMB sandwiches I ate in France:

Fast forward a few years and we reach the stage of student cooking, or rather, “preparing”. The taste of a good, ripe tomato (which is hard to come by nowadays) with creamy mozzarella and nutty basil pesto, or even just fresh basil, is a taste that makes me swoon, time after time. I’d take one of these bad boys over any packaged noodle mix, frozen dinner, or take-out pizza any day.

It’s a shame that the cheese in Australia stinks. Pun aside, cheese comes in only several variations, particularly when we’re talking about a local grocery store and on a normal budget. You can get cream cheese, you can get feta (though it’s not very good), and best of all, you can get the ambiguous “Tasty” cheese. “Tasty” cheese is American cheese. I guess Australia just didn’t want any nationalistic cheese pride on its shelves. The mozzarella department is lacking. Either that or I’ve been spoiled with the taste of farm fresh mozzarella before. The cheese is tougher, less creamy, and overall less flavorful. Nonetheless, mozzarella of any sort on my panini will suit me finely.

I’m starting to think that I will open up a store in Australia that only sells cilantro, black beans, Skippy and good, real “tasty” cheese. 

De Medici, Bruges

Here’s another post about the glorious subject of food poisoning.

Last summer, I traveled to London with my parents where we Indian-restaurant-hopped. This would be my family’s version of bar hopping. We ate not one, not two, but three Indian meals in a row. I love Indian food, with all of its comforting deep-fried pakoras and hearty baingan bhartha. However, three meals really knocked my body out. Not in a sitting-on-the-toilet sense, but rather a nasty-food-poisoning sense. I spent the next twenty-four hours in bed trying to keep down some British biscuits. Soon after this troubling Indian food experience, we managed to take a train from London to Bruges, Belgium. I couldn’t stomach much, but we were served a most impressive meal aboard the train. Airlines could learn a lot from this:

When we arrived in Bruges, the weather was dreary so we stopped in a quaint restaurant, De Medici. This tea room and “sorbetiere” was small, cozy, and inviting. Oh, and it’s not Indian food. I ordered an herbal tea:

They served our party a dish of cured ham and olives, compliments of the house. While I don’t eat meat and my mother and I both don’t like olives, my father enjoyed this tremendously, and just the thought of a little amuse-bouche was a nice touch.

I ordered a simple mozzarella and tomato sandwich, something which my stomach could handle. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar and served with a side salad with a hard-boiled egg, the plate exceeded my expectations. De Medici is the perfect cure for an Indian food-eating marathon.