Thursday, June 17, 2010

Delicious Mauritius!

Tropical beauty and cultural diversity are probably the two most outstanding characteristics of this amazing island country. If you like lazy days on big, white sand beaches or frolicking on crystal clear lagoons, Mauritius is the place for you. And if you like fishing, this is definitely the place for you! Marlin, sharks, yellow tuna, bonito and barracuda are just some of the fish congregating in Mauritius’ waters. In fact, Mauritius holds several world fishing records. The most prestigious deep sea fishing competition is the Marlin World Cup which is hosted in December by La Pirogue Hotel.

Something Amazing
If you go, don’t miss the amazing geological formation of the Seven-Coloured Earth. This natural phenomenon is comprised of dunes in seven different colored layers. Nearby you’ll find a great vantage point to see the island’s magnificent waterfall. It is found at Chamarel, a village in the south-west district of BlackRiver (which is famous for its coffee).

And at the end of the day, when you’re tired of swimming, golfing, fishing or exploring, head for a restaurant and experience a night of dining on deliciously exotic foods made with delicate blends of crushed spices.

To find Mauritius, look on a map to the southeast of Africa. The first dot you’ll see will be Madagascar, but if you keep going east from there, the next dot (even smaller) will be Mauritius. The culture is a mixture of Hindus, Creole, Chinese, Muslims and Europeans, but almost everyone speaks English, French and Creole. If you’re an American shopping in Mauritius, the money system should be fairly simple. The Mauritian Rupee is divided into 100 cents – sound familiar?

Now for a recipe from the melting pot culture of this volcanic island. I promised a couple of blog followers that I would try to find something less fattening and a little healthier than those in previous posts. Let’s see if this fits the bill.



2 ¾ oz. noodles

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 chicken breast, cut into pieces

1 red chili, deseeded and sliced

1 baby green pepper, sliced

2 oz. pineapple chunks

2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cook noodles according to packet instructions. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the chicken with the chili and green pepper for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the pineapple.

4. Transfer to the oven and cook for 4-5 minutes.

5. Remove from the pan and deglaze the pan with balsamic vinegar.

6. Slice the chicken and serve on a bed of noodles. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar to finish.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Mexico City

It’s taken me awhile to get to Mexico City (virtually, of course!), but at long last, here it is!

The Main Square, known as Zócalo, is certainly one of the most historically interesting sites in the city. Many significant events took place right in the square throughout the years, and it was often visited by Viceroys (royal officials) during the colonial period and by presidents after the War of Independence.

If you love archaeology, don’t miss the Museum of Anthropology. Inside you’ll find an incredible collection of archaeological pieces displayed in 11 exhibition halls showing the richness of Mexico's pre-Hispanic past. And speaking of archeology, check out Templo Mayor, a series of pyramidal constructions built one over the other; and Cuicuilco Pyramid, half hidden by the lava 300 years ago.

Love castles? (Who doesn’t?) Chapultepec Castle dates from 1785 when the viceroy Gálvez ordered that a town be built on top of the hill. It now houses the National Museum of History.

Other great sites in the city include the National Museum of Art (opposite Plaza de Tolsá) and The National Palace.

And now for another delicioso recipe!

Tres Leche Cake

Vegetable oil
6 3/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces sugar
5 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half-and-half

2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil and flour a 13 by 9-inch metal pan and set aside. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Beat butter until fluffy. With mixer on low, gradually add sugar. Scrape sides of bowl when necessary. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix thoroughly. Mix in vanilla. Add flour mixture to batter in 3 batches and mix. Transfer batter to prepared pan and spread evenly. This will appear to be a very small amount of batter. Bake on middle rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cake is lightly golden. Remove cake pan to cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes. Poke top of cake all over with a skewer or fork. Allow the cake to cool completely and then prepare the glaze.

GLAZE: Whisk together evaporated milk, condensed milk and half-and-half in a 1-quart measuring cup. Once combined, pour the glaze over the cake. Refrigerate overnight.

TOPPING: Place heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into mixing bowl and beat on low until stiff peaks form. Change to medium and beat until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Optional, add berries on top or swirls of caramel or chocolate.