Galicia

I visited Galicia recently. It was a great trip and with better company!

My main goal was to visit Santiago de Compostela Cathedral. And we spent nearly a full day seeing it inside, outside, in the roofs, etc.

Seeing Santiago Apostol from roof

It is a building with a very rich history starting from a Romanesque foundation to several changes of style in the next centuries. The most impressive part was the “Portico de la Gloria”. I didn’t have much idea about the actual setup of the Cathedral as I thought the external facade would be the most important part. The “Portico” is indoors and you can only see it with a tour. But it is worth it. It is a piece of 12th century and has been under restoration for 10 years: the colors, figures and setup are really impressive.

We visited Combarro and Islas Cies. Really beautiful places. We were lucky at the end in Cies and we could trek the whole island. Pity we couldn’t have a swim.

Islas Cies

Combarro

And by luck, we stopped in Bueu, and saw dolphins! from a very nice terrace.

We swam there!

And food wise, very important in Galicia, I tried “arroz negro” with just squid and its ink. Definitely I need to try at home.

Another thing we discovered was “pan de maiz“, really tasty! I need to try the recipe too.

The last thing we visited and really without planning was the “Monasterio de Armenteira” It was a very peaceful place. We couldnt visit the church due to Covid restrictions but we could walk in the claustro that was nice too. And by the way we discovered a very nice trekking route that we couldn’t do due to time constraints. It was beautiful, very green, following a river and with several water mills in the way.

So very good trip and as usual, with the best company. Can’t ask for more.

Venice – Padova

Venice was one place I wanted to visit for some time. But I always wanted to avoid the peak season with too many people. So this weekend was ideal, already warm weather and not yet too crowed.

From one side, I had low expectations (typical mental self-defence) but I really enjoyed.

I travelled superlight and every mornig, I left my stay with debit card, some cash, phone, keys and mask. No backpack, guide, etc. I felt super comfy and “light”. And the best part was walking without a direction once I visited the places I wanted.

My favourite place was Saint Mark’s Basilica. I got my pre-booked ticket and attend side in the first slot. Totally worth it. I am not in expert in Art, Architecture, etc but I really like this type of building, I feel they are the TV/Internet/Mobile phones of those days. The architecture is so different from what I expected. I could feel similarities to Hagia Sofia and not very Renaissance. Strong Bizantinian influence. With touches of Romanesque. The mosaics are amazing. A lot of pan d’or and the initial characteristics of Renaissance and moving away from the Middle Age style.

I visited the Doge’s Palace, Scuola Grande di San Rocco and Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. All of them stunning.

As a geek of Indiana Jones, I wanted to visit one of the places from “Last Crusade”, it was the church of San Barnabas. I didnt enter it, they was an exhibition and just sat around, enjoying the sun. And another of my goals were to visit some bakeries, I found just one by the church, it didnt have good references but I was curious and I got inside trying to find something interesting…. and by luck, I did:

To be honest, I didnt catch the name of this sweet but thanks to the recipe and some internet search, I found out this is “Pinza Veneta”. I must try this recipe soon!!!

The ingredients are simple- white flour, yellow flour, yeast, sugar, and eggs are mixed together. Candied fruits, dried figs, raisins, and fennel seeds are added too.

Another thing that really surprised me, it was seeing kids playing football, running, skating, etc in the squares!!!! No complaints from anybody, no signs of anything forbidden (like where I live) I was so mesmerized….. I wanted to play so badly…. but my legs were destroyed of walking and likely would look like be very weird….

As well, I tried a local biscuit “Bussolai”. It was a big and simple biscuit. And tasty, I dont need anything fancy. Perfect with a thick hot chocolate or cold milk.

Other things that caught my eye:

Actually that Palazzo looked abandoned but there was something in the ground floor.

needed.

and this one made my laugh for a bit (well, more than that, I am still laughing)

As I didnt want to spend all my time in Venice, I decided to pay a visit to Padova. There are many places close to Venice worth a visit (trains are quick and cheap) and in Padova just wanted to visit the Scrovegni Chapel but I failed because I didnt book my ticket the day before…. and the Padova University where Galileo taught for several years. It was interesting to learn about the history of the University from the origin of the main building, the podium of Galileo, the anatomy theatre and the first woman to graduate from University, Elena Cornaro.

As well, I wanted to visit the Saint Anthony’s Basilica. It was bigger than expected and it was quite busy (it was Sunday). I couldnt take pictures inside but I was really surprised by the frescos (mainly in the “bottom” of the basilica) and the remains of the saint. It was quite different from Saint Mark’s.

Something that surprised me, there was a big Sri Lanka community that day. I guess it is related to this.

As well, I wanted to try some local sweets and this blog was in two words a-mazing! I went to the Pasticceria Europa that wasn’t too far from the center and I tried a hot chocolate and two local sweets. The first one was a rice custard cake and the other I couldnt identify.

I walked through the historic center and it was nice stroll.

Munich – Kaiserschmarrn

Last weekend I was in Munich visiting a good friend. We had good weather and enjoyed to be outdoors, mainly in the “English Garden” and the “Olympic Park”. I tried local cuisine like currywurst (sausage with a ketchup/curry sauce), kaiserschmarrn (broken up pancake with raising) and beer (with lemonade) in the famous Bavarian beer halls.

So this weekend I decided to try the kaiserschmarrn as it was something quite new for me. I followed this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 3 tbsp of rum
  • 3 large eggs, separate whites from yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • some almond flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Process:

1- In a cup, soak the raisins with the rum. Let is rest

2- In a crystal bowl, put the egg whites and try to beat them until form stiff peaks (no big deal it you dont get that far). I did it by hand. It takes time so be patience. See this 🙂

3- In another bowl, mix the egg yolks, melted butter, vanilla paste, sugar and salt. Be sure everything is combined.

4- In the yolks bowl, start adding bit a bit the flour and milk, and keep mixing until everything is combined

5- Take the egg whites and fold them in the yolks bowl slowly until everything is combined

6- Heat up an anti-adherent pan (mine is around 26cm diameter) using a bit of butter or coconut oil at medium heat. Pour all butter mix in the pan.

7- After 3-4 minutes, add the raisins. Keep checking the bottom of the pancake until is golden brown. Very likely less than 10 minutes in total.

8- Once the bottom is golden brown, sprinkle a bit of sugar in the top. Using a knike or similar, divide the pancake in 4 quarters. Then turn each piece at each time. Add a bit of butter to the pan while turning to avoid burning the new side.

9- Keep cooking until the bottom is again golden brown.

10- Tear the pancake into small pieces using forks or similar.

11- Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp sugar over the pancake pieces. Toss the pieces while the butter and sugar caramelize.

12- Ready to serve! You can add a bit of sugar powder on top and add some mermelade in the side.

Something I forgot, you can add almond flakes too!

Anyway, very happy with the result. It amazes me how tasty are the raising in some dishes… they are super juicy and it makes the difference in this one.

Scotland

This week I have been on holidays. I needed a break nearly after a year from last one. I decided going to Scotland as I didnt have to fly, deal with COVID restrictions and because it was so close that I am ashamed of not visiting after so many years being around. And a good friend joined me.

My main goal was being outside, seeing the highlands, trekking a bit. And visit Edinburgh as many people has recommend it.

Firstly visited Isle of Skye. I drove from Edinburgh and it was a bit of a challenge as I am not used to drive with the wheel on the right and it was long drive too. But the views were amazing, so many mountains (some with snow) and so many lakes.

I visited the Talisker distillery as my friend was keen of whiskey. It was interesting to learn that most whiskey distilleries in Scotland are managed by Diageo group. The tour wasnt very good as it was too quick and didnt have time to see the whole process but I realised that this is not an artesanal product anymore. It is like a car factory chain process. A part of the process is done in the distillery and the others in some parts of Scotland. Still I was nice to “taste” different kind of whiskeys. I learn that each year in the barrel, it loses around 2% alcohol. So the longer it stays, the lowest alcohol content it has. And with each distillation, you remove some % of alcohol, as it is toxic for human beings. I am not good at drinking alcohol but was interested in the flavours. The “smoky” flour comes from burning “peat” when drying the barley. And “peat” is only found in some parts of Scotland. As well, the smokiness relates to the colour too. The ingredients are water, barley and yeast.

The main trekking we did was the The Storr. I really enjoyed. It was the best part of the trip for me, when returning, we stopped to enjoy the silence and the rain. I wish we could have walked the whole day.

We tried to walk in other places but it seemed the car parks were closed until June. At the end we drove the whole north part of the Isle stopping in some other places.

We stayed in a typical cottage and it was really good, very cosy.

Then we went to Glencoe to hike somewhere else before sleeping in Oban. It seems Glencoe was featured in Skyfall movie although the house is not real. I lost GPS/4G when getting close to Aonach Eagach and by mistake we did a totally different route, the “hidden valley” or Coire Gabhail in the Three Sisters. And it was nice, we climbed via a river birth with some nice waterfalls until a small valley. Although the best part was eating our “bocata” in the car park facing the mountains after the trekk.

Oban is a small city but it was nice. We visited Oban distillery (part of Diageo) and it was better experience, although the tasting crashed me one hour after… Here is where it was better explained the process and the different types of whiskey. We tried whiskey from a barrel (aprox 10y), that was over 60%… We learned about the blends, single malt and why it is difficult to state the age of whiskey when you change to a different barrel to give a last kick in flavour. As well, it seems all barrels comes from USA bourbon production because they can’t reuse them. It seems it was an initial rule to keep the production of barrels.

Our last trek was around Callander, as I failed to find a route to Ben Vorlich. It was heartbreaking to see “forest works” cutting trees, many trees…. And it is something we saw in several places in our trip. I thought the typical Highland mountains without tries it was normal, but it is not. We saw many mountains with trees in several parts regardless the height and others totally empty. This was clearly the low light of the trip. In Callander, my friend tried a pie of haggies and it was very tasty!

Our last stop was Edinburgh. I returned the car in one piece!!! \o/

We didnt stay much but I learned some interesting facts. In Saint Cuthbert church, John Napier is buried there. And Agatha Christie married in the church.

David Hume lobbied the town council for building public walks in Calton Hill.

We visited St Giles church. Learned about him and his deer 🙂 As well, St Andrew who is the patron saint of Scotland, never reached it.

I would have liked to visit the Castle and Holyrood, next time.

By the way, I will not never understand why so many “branches” of religion….

In general, I am glad I visited Scotland.