Foodie Friday: Choco Cafe, Prague

choco cafe prague czech republic hot chocolate

I spent a few weeks in London during the winter several years back and traveled with a friend from Brazil. This friend from Brazil had a strong addiction to hot chocolate, so everywhere we went, we had to stop first so he could get some. Naturally, that also meant that I had to indulge. That particular trip also saw me get hooked on the stuff–liquid, chocolate crack. Now when I travel (in the winter), it’s one of the things I most look forward to trying from various countries.

Before I headed to Prague for the Christmas Markets, I came across a tweet mentioning an entire cafe dedicated to hot chocolate in Prague. So this fairytale city, which captured my heart the previous time I was there, was just adding to the intrigue.

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Foodie Friday: Typical Moroccan Dishes

moroccan spices in marrakech

When you think of Moroccan food, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Because for me, prior to my travels there, it was spices. I was thrilled to try dishes packed with flavor and potentially palate-burning spices.

What I found instead, was bland and boring food, sadly. In fact, I can count on two fingers the number of meals that I actually enjoyed in my two weeks there. That’s pretty pathetic, right? Walking through the souqs, you come across one spice peddler after another, but it seems that none of the restaurants are purchasing these spices (or if they are, they’re not using them liberally).

Two of the most typical Moroccan dishes are tajine and couscous.

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Foodie Friday: Moroccan Mint Tea (and Cookies!)

moroccan mint tea
A few years ago, I dated a Moroccan man, Ishmael*, for a few months. One morning, early into the short fling, he disappeared to the kitchen for a bit while I rubbed my sleepy eyes, sitting on the couch in the next room, wondering what it was that he was doing.

When he returned, he carried a silver tray with a small teapot, four small glasses, and a plate of cookies. He poured me a glass of mint tea, which he then poured into another cup–back and forth, back and forth, until the tea was cool enough to drink. This particular morning was my first introduction to Moroccan mint tea.

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Foodie Friday: Samosa + Chai = Love

One of the things I loved the most about Dubai was the huge population of Indians and Pakistanis. Of course this is for purely selfish reasons: it’s my favorite cuisine.. ever. (In fact, my friends would probably tell you that it isn’t even worth asking me what kind of food I want to eat when going out–my answer is always “Indian”.)

One evening in Dubai, I was dying to visit the older areas of the city–the areas that aren’t flooded with tourists, malls, and skyscrapers. So my friend and I headed towards the gold souq so I could do a bit of ogling and we could see a different side of the city.

old dubai gold souq souk

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Foodie Friday: Trattoria Montepaolo

trattoria montepaolo dovadola

Tucked away almost in the middle of nowhere exists a restaurant so charming and so lovely that you’re happy it’s almost a secret. Walking into Trattoria Montepaolo in Dovadola, Italy, you’re transported to another time–a simpler and rustic era. The views of the rolling green hills invite you in, the Victorian-era-meets-farmhouse decor welcomes you, and the fresh, Italian scents implore you to stay.

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Foodie Friday: Black Pudding

black pudding

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There are lots of things that really gross me out. Especially food-wise. And black pudding is one of those foods. When I first learned that it was a sausage made of blood mixed with some kind of filler, it was enough to make me gag. Even now, as I write that, I kind of want to throw up a little, knowing that I ate it.

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Foodie Friday: Krappelchen mit Puderzucker

krappelchen mit puderzucker at berlin german christmas market
One of the many wonderful things to do when visiting Christmas Markets in Europe is stuffing your face with every variety of food imaginable. I tried to taste it all–wursts, glühwein, potato pancakes, etc. You name it–I tried it.

When I was making my way around a Christmas Market in Dresden, I spotted a booth selling krappelchen mit puderzucker. I had no idea what they were–only that they looked decadent and that I knew I needed to try them. So, that’s exactly what I did. I ordered the small cone (thank god, as they were ridiculously filling) and got to tasting.

They are essentially mini donuts (or fritters) covered with powdered sugar. They’re a bit crispy and wonderful on the outside and squishy and doughy on the inside. They were still warm and kind of oily from the fryer, so the powdered sugar got gooey and runny the further down I got in the cone. They might be incredibly simple, but krappelchen mit puderzucker are pretty amazing. I don’t know that I could eat them more frequently than at Christmas season, but they were the perfect amount of sweet, warm, and fried for a cold and dreary day in Germany.

krappelchen mit puderzucker at berlin german christmas market

Foodie Friday: Moroccan-Spiced Olives

Olives have been a long-time favorite of mine. As a child, I ate them as snacks–you’d find me with an olive on every finger, eager to pop them into my mouth. Even today, when I’m preparing olives for a dish or to put out at a dinner party, not all of them make the journey because I have to taste a few first to make sure they’re “okay”. (Of course they’re okay.)

Another favorite of mine in recent years is curry. Any variety, any color, and from any country. I love every spice that makes up curry, and I could probably eat it every single day (and have eaten it for three or four meals in a row before).

moroccan spiced olives
When I was in Morocco and sat down for dinner in Chefchaouen one night, the waiter brought out a small bowl of olives dusted with curry powder and I was in love. How could I have never thought up this idea? Combining two of my favorite food groups–olives and curry?! They were divine. I had them several times throughout my travels in Morocco, and I haven’t stopped dreaming of them since I’ve left.

Foodie Friday: Primanti Brothers

You know how before you visit a place that your friends have been like a hundred times they’re telling you, “OMG! You have to visit ___” or “You can’t NOT eat at ___”? And then you get all excited to see or try a new place and when you get there, sometimes it’s a bit of a letdown?

Well, welcome to Primanti Brothers for me. I know all the Yinzers out there are probably going to hate me and want to string me up by my feet the next time I step foot in Pittsburgh,  but I don’t get the hype.

primanti brothers ragin cajun

When I went to Pittsburgh back in September, I figured I had to do alllll the things that people do when they visit Pittsburgh, and Primanti Brothers was something everyone kept mentioning to me. So, why not? I was already in the Strip District, so I decided to stop by the original location with my sister, who’d been before.

primanti2

I tried the Ragin’ Cajun Chicken sandwich, which had the smallest and driest piece of chicken on it, piled high with soggy french fries and coleslaw. Again, I just don’t really get the appeal. I tried my sister’s, which was an egg sandwich, and while it tasted better than mine, I still didn’t care for it all that much.

Sorry, Primanti Brothers, but I don’t think I’ll be visiting again.

Foodie Friday: Philadelphia Cheesesteak

When you think of must-try foods in Philadelphia, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably the cheesesteak, right? I can’t really visit Philadelphia without having a cheesesteak–in fact, I was a vegetarian for five years at one point and “broke veg” by eating a cheesesteak there. In any case, it’s almost a rite of passage.

philadelphia cheesesteak

This greasy, messy, delicious invention can be found in spots all over the City of Brotherly Love, but enthusiasts will likely tell you to choose between one of three places: Pat’sGeno’s, or Jim’s. Personally, I don’t really care–a cheesesteak is a cheesesteak. All I ask is that it’s made with American cheese, not whiz.

There are several varieties of cheesesteaks–beef, chicken, and veggie. The traditional sandwich is beef with cheese (your choice of American, cheddar, or whiz) and onions on a hoagie roll. These days, other toppings, such as peppers, pizza sauce, mushrooms, etc. are popping up at various places, but if it’s your first time trying one, I’d go with the traditional for the most authentic experience.