Saturday, 29 August 2015

Mexico City: Contemporary, Vibrant and Colourful City -Part 1

Rising from the ruins of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan – Mexico City has museums both contemporary and historic as well as world class restaurants and vibrant parks making it the colourful, vibrant, cultural and contemporary city that it is today.
When I arrived at the airport in Mexico City and I must admit that I was expecting a poor city with plenty of people on the street, poor housing and as the Minister of Culture said to us at breakfast on our last day, I expected to see men with donkeys hanging around wearing sombreros!

Breaking News!! Mexico City is nothing like I imagined!!

We arrived at 04:30 in the morning in the dark, waking up to a beautiful sunny day and fountains in the square opposite our first hotel.  Three hours sleep, quick shower, breakfast and the start of a full packed week getting to know the best of Mexico City!

Here is a quick roundup of our trip.  Many of the places will be followed up in detailed blog posts to come:-
The breakfast terrace at Casa de la Condesa hotel in Colonia Roma
My first Mexican breakfast, simple and plain but lovely and tasty!
Statue in the gardens of the Dolores Olmeda museum
One is a statue and the other four are live 'naked' dogs!
Beautiful tiled kitchen and crock in the kitchen at Dolores Olmeda museum
Frida Khalo's painting
Frida Khalo
Spices and chillis in a market we took a short cut through
Bronze statue in Coyocan Square
Sweetcorn street food, fresh, simple and delicious with a hint of chilli!
A bright and colourful trajinera at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Xochimilco
An alter in the Metropolitan Cathederal
Standing in front of one of the huge murals by Diego Rivera in The Old Mayor's Palace.
A quick trip out of the city, about 30 miles north east to the State of Mexico (Estado de Mexico) we arrived at the archaeological site of the Teotihuacan Pyramids, large stone pyramid shapes dating back to approx 300-600 AD in what was called The City of The Gods. 
We looked around a tequila museum, had a private Mariachi band play to us, discovered the Mercado de Carmelo as well as experienced some great restaurants and we were only half way through our visit.

Part two of my Mexico City round up will follow shortly. Keep your eyes out to find out what else we discovered.

I was the guest of The Mexico City Tourist Board

Friday, 28 August 2015

Noodle and Vegetable Stir Fry - Quick and Healthy Supper

You know the song 'It started with a Kiss' well our supper tonight started with a courgette!

It was going to be courgette and vegetable stir fry with noodles but ended up more like noodle and vegetable stir fry.

After meeting a fellow blogger in Soho I popped into a Chinese supermarket, bought some fresh bok choi, oyster sauce, ho fan noodles and egg noodles and a couple of lovely Chinese plates.
I alway prep all my vegetables first and try to cut them to similar size so that they can go into the wok in the right order and appropriate time so that everything is cooked to perfection. For this time I used the thinnest setting on my mandaline slicer.

Into the wok I added some cold pressed rapeseed oil I have from Borderfields oils. When this was very hot I added:-
One thinly sliced red onion
Two thinly sliced celery stalks
Three crushed garlic cloves
About 2" piece of peeled and grated ginger
One thinly sliced yellow pepper
One thinly sliced large courgette
Bottom of three small bok choi finely sliced
Lastly add the thinly sliced bok choi leaves

One small packet of ho fan noodles and one of egg noodles, rinsed in cold water and drained.
4 tablespoons of oyster sauce (bought in the Chinese supermarket).

Fry in the oil, stirring frequently.
When the vegetables are nearly cooked add the noodles and continue to stir until they are hot and taking some of the colour of the stir fry.  Add the oyster sauce and heat through.

Place in a pile on a pretty plate and serve!  Enjoy.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Literary Corner - Summer 2015 Book Reviews

Here are some of the books I have been sent recently for review:-

Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse by Shauna Martin

I have become very aware lately how important it is to consume your fruit and vegetables in juice or smoothie form each day to give you body that boost of much needed nutrients.  This book will give you a great 'spring clean' without having to give up your favourite healthy food. 
The juices are naturally vegan, naturally gluten-free, dairy and soy free and taste fantastic.  The recipes are selected to coincide with seasonal produce. Most of the recipes, the core recipes, are green but they all taste clean and refreshing.
The book is published by Race Point Publishing an imprint of the Quarto Publishing Group

Easy Indian Cookbook by Manju Malhi
I recently met Manju Malhi and her enthusiasm for simple, easy recipes for the reader to be able to create at home was overwhelming in a good way!

The dishes are simple, the text easy to read and the photos area clear and invite you to make the dish and taste it.
Manju has written two other cookbooks and has appeared on several television cookery shows. The book is published by Duncan Baird Publishers

The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook by Amy Riolo
They say the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest on the planet.  This book will give you some science behind the diet, a way to integrate this eating culture into your lifestyle and still enjoy all of the good, fresh food available just about everywhere now.
The photographs are bright like they were taken in the full Mediterranean sunshine and the recipes in chapters such as Plant-based foods, Fish & Seafood as well as Dairy & Poultry
This book is published by Fair Winds Press, a member of the Quarto Publishing Group

I was sent a copy of all of the books to review. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Mexico City: The Naked Dogs

While we were visiting the home of Dolores Olmedo (see more of this visit in a forthcoming post) in Mexico City recently our guide pointed out a stature of a local breed of dog known locally as the 'naked dog' called Xoloitzcuintle or Xolo for short. The weird thing was that around the statue were 5 or 6 real hairless dogs just sitting motionless by the statue!  We initially thought that they were all statues until a couple of them moved!
They had a sort of cuteness about them and soon we were all saying how we would like to take one home!
The Mexican hairless dog has been known in Mexico for around 3,000 years, sometimes living as hunting companions and other times being used for food!  They have appeared in art and artifacts since the Aztec civilisations.
We saw a couple of these dogs in the street with their owners, being kept as pets - they are really friendly and kind of cute!
I visited Mexico City as a guest of The Mexico City Tourist Board. I was not required to write a positive review and as usual all opinions and photos are my own.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Grenada: The 2nd Annual Grenada Chocolate Festival - Bean to Bar

When asked if I would like to visit Grenada at the time of the Chocolate Festival this year there was only one word I could answer with - Yes!!

The Grenada Chocolate Festival is the project of Magdalena Fielden, Mexican born however currently owning the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, with her husband Russ, on the island (see previous post).

We filled our days with tours, talks about chocolate, yoga sessions (well I didn't do the yoga!), fashion shows, visits to chocolate farmers and eating loads and loads of chocolate.  The purpose of the chocolate festival is to educate people to the delights and health benefits, the pure fun of eating chocolate as well as to the growing and production of one of the most popular products world wide.

Some highlights of the Chocolate Festival:-

Nutmeg Processing Plant Tour,
Rum factory Tour,
Local Chocolate,
Some local guests and friends,
Spice markets,
Festival opening ceremonies and local dignitaries,
Chocolate history from the curator of the Mexican City chocolate museum MUCHO Chocolato (I will be visiting this museum soon),

Grinding cocoa the old fashioned way,
Making chocolate face masks,
Cooking lessons - making our own lunch!
Celebrations and
The cocoa future generation
Chocolate cakes, puddings ........
and drinks ....
My personal highlight was being a chocolate farmer for a day.  Upon arrival we set off to the side of the hills where the cocoa plants grow, collected the cocoa pods as they were cut down, took the 'wet cocoa' out of the pods and helped transport the buckets back.  You can read all about my adventures from that day here.
Sometimes you need to throw some chocolate down your neck and a quick stop at a petrol station for a Mars bar or Snickers will do nicely however if you are wanting to enjoy some chocolate the you must try a single estate bar from one of the main cocoa growing countries such as Grenada, Venezeula, Equador and others.
Take a piece, smell it and linger with the images it brings to mind, place on your tongue and let the warmth of your mouth start the chocolate melting.  Take time to be in the chocolate moment and identify all the flavours and memories it brings to mind such as blackcurrants, raisins, vanilla and more.

And of course making new friends .........

If you are inspired to visit Grenada for next year's Grenada Chocolate Festival 8-17 May 2016 British Airways fly there on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  True Blue Bay Boutique Resort is the perfect place to stay however should they be full there is a whole list of wonderful hotels and resorts to suit all tastes and styles.

See you there!!

I was a guest of True Blue Bay Boutique Resort and the Grenada Chocolate Festival - I was not required to write a positive review. As usual all opinions and photos are my own except two borrowed from The Grenada Chocolate Festival as labelled.