Bagel Bound

Bagels

Who doesn’t love a good bagel. Whether laced with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon or just toasted with butter, a bagel always seems to hit the spot.

By most accounts, bagels originated in the Jewish communities of Poland, as early as the 17th century.  In the Early 1900’s Jewish Polish immigrants, brought their trade of hand formed bagels to New York City and around the 1960’s, the Lenders family invented the machine process of producing bagels and helped usher the frozen mass produced bagel to most of the United States.  To this day, my visit to Manhattan is not complete without a New York style bagel.

A few factors to a great bagel. Resting and boiling.  Traditionally bagels are allowed to proof a couple times. Once, when you’ve just created the dough and the yeast is doing its magic and the other after its formed into its traditional ring shape.  The other key factor is the boil. Boiling the bagel briefly, will help create a crispy crust when baking and a chewy center when finished.  Bagel toppings are added just after the boiling process.  You can create the everything bagel, just poppy seed, onion flake and pepper or leave plain. Get creative with your spice toppings both savory and sweet.

I’ve adapted my recipe from several different styles of bagel making. At the core, there’s the New York Style – which usually contains malt syrup, boiled and then baked, Montreal – malt syrup, sugar, boiled in sweetened water and wood fired baked and East Coast which normally has a characteristic of a sourdough. My recipe represents a blend of both New York and Montreal, as I add honey to my boiled water.

Supplies & Ingredients

Now, with most, if not all of my baking, I scale all the ingredients.  My Pastry Chef friends will appreciate these steps. Scaling allows true measurements of ingredients and adds consistency in final results. Small kitchen scales are very inexpensive and should become a staple in your kitchen.  Silicone baking mats are awesome. Parchment paper still plays a role in my kitchen as the most common use is lining pans for cakes and cheesecakes but for sheet pans and general baking, silicone mats reign supreme.  No waste, easy clean up, reusable and no curling of corners. Stainless steel or heat proof glass mixing bowls and good measuring equipment round out my core baking supplies. You’ll find uses for most of these, during this recipe.

Bread flour is the flour of choice.  You’ll need the extra protein in bread flour, that gives bagels their strength and chewiness.  I use a good quality Dry Active Yeast. Its easy to work with, store and widely available. I also use Kosher style salt for all salt applications.  Iodize table salt comes across a little “briny” to me.  Several recipes and professional bagel makers will use Malt syrup.  I substitute light brown sugar, that I always have on hand and have found it to work just as good.

Ingredients:

  • 12oz of warm water (105-110 degrees-f)
  • 7 grams Dry Active Yeast
  • 480 grams Bread Flour
  • 12 grams Light Brown Sugar
  • 5.9 grams salt (I used kosher style)
  • 3oz Honey or Agave Syrup
  • 80 oz water (2.5 quarts)
  • 1 egg white – whisked until fluffy

Tools needed:

  • Small scale
  • Mixing bowl for proofing
  • Half size baking sheet
  • Parchment paper or Silicone baking mat
  • Large Pot for boiling bagels
  • Pastry brush
  • Vegetable oil
  • Slotted spoon or Tongs

Method:

In small bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Agitate slightly, cover and let sit for 5 minutes

In stand mixing bowl, combine flour, salt and sugar. Lightly whisk to combine.

After yeast has “bloomed” for 5 minutes, add to the flour mixture

Using dough hook attachment, just mix until dough forms and just begins to pull away from side of bowl.  The dough will still look dry.

Remove from bowl onto to working surface with a dusting of flour. Keep about ¼ cup of flour on standby as you knead the dough for about 4-5 minutes.  The dough should become easier to work and start look somewhat elastic.

After 5 minutes of working the dough, place in lightly oiled bowl, turn the dough to make sure all gets coated with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let proof for 1 hour or a little longer until the dough has doubled in size.  Make sure you place away from any drafts in the house or direct sunlight.

Near completion of proofing; Pre-heat oven to 425-F degrees. Also prepare a pot filled with water and the honey.  Mix to dilute and have ready at a low simmer.

Remove proofed dough back onto the working surface and punch down to release any air.

Have baking sheet ready lined with parchment paper or silicone mat.

Portion dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll in round shapes and using finger or round handle of a wooden spoon, punch a center hole in each dough ball and begin to form into round bagel shapes.  Use your thumbs to help shape bagels and retain the center hole. I make sure the hole is a little larger at first, as it will shrink slightly as it sits.

Place each formed bagel dough onto the sheet pan, cover loosely with clean towel and let rest an additional 3-5 minutes.

Increase temperature of water bath just to a medium boil and then place 2-3 bagels at a time into water. Gently turn each bagel and let boil for 1 ½ minutes each side. Carefully remove and place back onto the same baking sheet.

After all bagel have been boiled, you can now brush with whisked egg white and add various toppings.

Toppings:

  • I purchased an Everything Bagel topping for ease of ingredients
  • You can use only poppy seed or sesame seeds
  • I’ve also topped with just Sea salt and Cracker Blacked Pepper
  • Just use egg wash only for plain bagels

After you’ve added your toppings, bake 20-25 or until bagels are golden brown

Remove and let cool on baking rack.

Posted in Baking, breads, Cuisine, Dough, Flour, Food, Home Cook, Recipes | 2 Comments

Smile and Say “Cheese..Cake!

Vanilla and Chocolate Layered

Well before I started cooking professionally, one of the first things I learned to make was, The Cheesecake.

Growing up, a highlight of mine was a visit to our cities most popular delicatessen, Shapiro’s Deli.  Among many things, they were known for their New York Style cheesecake.  Its rich, dense filling, ample pipping of whipped cream and customary heavily glazed strawberry topping was my go-to purchase.  That remembrance of flavors and textures spawned my need to create my own, thus saving a bit from my wallet but not helping my waist line much.

Like so many foods in our country, early versions of the cheesecake can date back as far as ancient Greece.  More modern versions can be found in most every country and culture.  Baked, non-baked, cream cheese, ricotta, crust variations and fillings both sweet and savory abound.

In the US, most cheesecakes are commonly referred to as New York Style. As always, New York tends to be the epicenter of great food culture, food history and multiple alien invasions and destruction, which all in their own rights….are awesome!

Caramel Apple Cheesecake

New York style tends to have a dense filling and often characterized by the addition of sour cream that is either added to the batter or layered on top.  Cream cheese, lemon, vanilla and eggs round out most basic recipes.  You’ll find examples of flour being added, ricotta, heavy cream or even cottage cheese. The crust can vary from ground cookies, graham cracker, cake like or no crust at all.  Toppings and fillings are too numerous to count. One of my favorite aspects of cheesecake making are the endless variations of toppings, fillings and flavorings.

My Keys to a great cheesecake

Cream Cheese: I tend to be very brand loyal when it comes to cream cheese. I always use Philadelphia Brand cream cheese.  Maybe just me but I always get the desired results.  I never use a low-fat style of cream cheese.

Disclaimer: this dessert is not be altered!

I’m sure local grocery stores brands or maybe even regional brands of cream cheese will work, but why take the chance

Eggs: As always use good quality fresh large eggs.  Room temperature is key.

Vanilla: A pure extract or bean is best. My recipe calls for extract but fresh bean or bean paste will add another level of richness to your cake.

Sugar: Granulated sugar is standard.  I do add a quick step of sifting my sugar just to keep away any lumps or nuggets.

Lemon Zest: regardless of the finished flavoring of my cheesecakes, I always add a bit of lemon zest.  I find it really freshens up the cake.

Sour Cream:  This is where I stray from traditional NY Styles.  I don’t add sour cream.  Purist may shun me but I choose to leave it out.  Feel free to experiment with your own.

Crust: I usually use a ground graham cracker base but have used other variations including Oreo cookie, vanilla wafer and ginger snaps.

 

The Baking

My most often asked question is: “How do you keep if from cracking?” My answer is always, Water Bath, Water Bath, Water Bath.  A water bath adds moister to the oven, and helps create even heating throughout the cake.  I also tend to bake at a lower temperature, for a longer period of time.  A slow rise and bake will help keep the cake from a drastic fall and/or cracking.

I use a 10” cake pan for my cheesecakes. Spring form pans work well, but you have to make sure the pans have a good seal around the bottom edge and usually you’ll have to wrap with aluminum foil before you place in water bath.

Don’t Peek! With all baking, minimizing the opening and closing of the oven helps maintain cooking temperatures and unnecessary movements of the cake.

Recipe

10” Cake Pan

Parchment paper

2 tsp butter for cake pan

 

Crust

3 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

½ Granulated Sugar

1 ¼ cup Unsalted Butter Melted

Filling

5ea  8oz Cream Cheese – let cream cheese sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes

5 large eggs – room temperature

1 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar

1 tbsp Pure Vanilla Extract

1 tsp Lemon Zest Minced

 

Method

Preheat oven 325 degrees

Prepare cake pan by cutting out parchment paper to fit.  Gentle rub butter on bottom of cake pan and insert parchment cutout. Set aside

Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in small bowl.  Combine until crumbs have the texture of wet sand and lightly holds shape when squeezed together.  Sprinkle graham cracker mixture on bottom of cake pan and pat with fingers to form a level surface.  Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Turn down oven to 300 degrees

Filling

Using stand mixture with paddle attachment, at low to medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth 3-4 minutes. Add sugar and beat for an additional 4 minutes.  Make sure to stop and scrape sides and paddle often to incorporate any thicker bits of cream cheese.

At low speed, add eggs one at a time and turn up speed to medium just until eggs have been fully incorporated. Add both vanilla and lemon zest after all eggs have been incorporated.

The batter is ready for baking, to create a my basic New York Style cheesecake.

(see below for flavorings)

Use hot water to incase the cake before baking

Take cooled cake pan and butter the sides.  Pour in batter.  Place pan in large baking dish and fill with hot water ¾ up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 3 hours.  Cake should have a light golden-brown top and a gentle spring or giggle when ready.  Carefully remove cake from water bath and let cool to room temperature or at least 3 hours.  Cake can then be refrigerated. Preferably, let the cake cool overnight.  I like to freeze my cheesecakes and then gently remove by warming the cheesecake pan over a low stove flame.  The cake can then be inverted to release and then placed on cutting board to slice.  To slice the cake, dip your knife in warm water and slice.  Re-dip the knife between each slice. Cake toppings such berries and cream or dessert sauces can be added after slicing. Let frozen cake slices rest at room temperature for

Golden brown top should indicate doneness

about 20 minutes before serving.

Flavored Cheesecakes:

Cinnamon: replace 1/3 cup of granulated sugar with light brown sugar and add 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon.  Reduce lemon zest to 1/2 teaspoon.  Cinnamon can be added at the time of the zest and vanilla extract. Bake as normal

Banana: add 2 cups of mashed ripened bananas, 1/4 cup of banana liquor.   Bananas and liquor are added after the vanilla extract. Bake as normal

Chocolate Layered:  After batter has been completely made; equally divide between two bowls.  In one bowl, add 4oz melted and slightly cooled semi-sweet chocolate. Add 3oz of chocolate or hazelnut liquor or syrup (optional). Pour chocolate batter into pan and bake just until layer has set, about 1 hour.  Carefully pull cake out of oven and gently pour remaining batter onto chocolate layer. Pour with an even spread. You can use the back of tablespoon or offset spatula to help even the layer.  Return cake back to oven and bake for an additional 2 1/4 hours.

This process is not the quickest but its worth the wait!

Posted in Baking, Cuisine, Cusine, Food, Recipes | 6 Comments

Quarantine Cuisine – Do’nut Pass Me By! (part 1)

The Donut or doughnut, however you choose to spell it, is perhaps my favorite food group, just behind bacon.  The one handed, treat of the Gods (not confirmed) has been around, in the US, since the early 1800’s.  Today, you’ll find a cornucopia of variations, fillings, shapes and donut shops. Road To Plate will highlight some local and maybe not so local donut shops and their sometimes, unique take this American treat and what makes me Drive.Stop.Eat

 

Long’s Bakery

Considered by many to be the Godfather of all donuts in Indy, Long’s was established in 1955 by founders Carl and Mildred Long. Long’s has been a personal institution of mine, since my teens, as I went to church just a few blocks away.  Just as true, as passing the offering basket during service, an after-church visit was expected for warm glazed yeast and cinnamon fries.  Long’s produces a host of other items such as Long Johns (I guess they would have too), cake donuts, brownies, cookies and traditional cakes. All their staff wear traditional bakery whites and personally know many of their patrons by name.  Though the glazed yeast is by far most fans favorite, I’m definitely a Cinnamon Fry guy.  Moderately iced and with a cinnamon spiced dough make this perfect.  The glazed cake usually rounds out my purchase.

Prices are fantastic and I don’t remember when they’ve ever had a price increase. Just under $7 got me nine donuts.

Cinnamon Fry, Glazed Cake & popular Glazed Yeast

Lines are always long, often draping outside the door and cars are often jockeying for the few street spots, in front of the store.  A word to the wise…with long lines, you have plenty of time to decide what you want…..be ready to order; and remember it’s Cash Only!

 

 

 

Rise ‘n Roll

Rise-n-Roll came highly recommended by several friends and to you….RnR did not disappoint. Rise n Roll is an Amish style bakery with several locations throughout the state. Some of those double as both bakery and deli. Based in Middlebury, Indiana, Rise offers an assortment of donuts, danish, muffins and cinnamon rolls. You find an array of other products such as pasta and breads.  Back to the donuts. I opted for a few different options; their classic Cinnamon Caramel, Traditional Glazed Yeast, Lemon Custard, Jelly, Bavarian filled and Apple Fritter.

Jelly Filled, Caramel Lemon, Cinnamon Caramel & Bavarian Cream

Prices are on par with most upper tier donut shops. Two bottled OJ’s and donuts set me back about $14.  Although all donuts (I didn’t eat them all myself) had excellent taste and texture, I did find the abundance of powdered sugar just a touch much. Now I love some sugar but found myself knocking off a little before each bite. Be forewarned, brace yourself and clothing for a big dust off. Very Cafe Du Monde like.  Both the Lemon custard and Bavarian were atypical as having a very light and airy custard. The lemon let you know but didn’t overbear.  The Bavarian, was extremely light, which I loved. So many times, some Bavarians can be too much.  The Cinnamon Carmel was my favorite. It hit with just the right amount of cinnamon to dough ratio.  I didn’t feel like I was taking some type of “how much cinnamon you can eat challenge on Youtube”. I’m looking forward to my next visit!

 

Carl’s Donuts and Bakery

Decorative interior

Glazed Yeast, Iced Red Velvet and Vanilla Cake

Just a little over six weeks ago, Carl’s Donuts and Bakery brought to Avon a much needed local bakery. They’ve already become a fixture to the area by providing sweet treats to many healthcare facilities and local law enforcements. Taking care of those that take care of us, is always top billing. I’v been clamoring for a place that I can get my quick donut fix, so was excited to finally give them a try. You’ll find their interior extremely welcoming and friendly. Great staff and a warm decorative seating area.  Pristine white bakers uniforms, shinny equipment and real-time POS training all led to the familiar look of a brand new establishment.  Anyone in food service can relate to that feel.

I opted for their traditional glazed yeast, red velvet and iced caked donuts. The day I visited, they were down in inventory but understandably supply deliveries have effected everyone and bakers are using what they have at the moment. The glazed yeast was the star of this visit.  It had a very traditional fry crisp and airy center.  The glaze wasn’t too sweet and gave a very familiar taste….dare I say a bit like a Long’s yeast.  I did feel both the red velvet and vanilla cake fell a bit short. An ample thick dip of icing really masked the cake itself and I was left wanting more from the red velvet. That chocolate finish normally associated with a red velvet was missing. Prices are fair, an $8 total got me these donuts and a cream cheese iced cinnamon roll. I’ll attribute most of this to both a fairly new opening and our current state of affairs, so I hope that over a short time, my next visit will build upon a good start already. Always support your local mom and pops!

Look forward to part 2 when I check out Tim’s Bakery, Red’s Donuts and Hilligoss Bakery.

 

Thanks for all the support by Like, Shares and comments. For more recipes, menu and cuisine ideas, follow me on Instagram @aeaimages1

Posted in Food, Restaurants | Leave a comment

Quarantine Cuisine – Pintxos

Road to plate stays in Spain, in this addition, with a visit to its northern Basque regional towns of Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian.  I’ll get to the food but a brief explanation as to why I made the flight from Madrid to Bilbao and ultimately a local bus ride to San Sebastian.

My love for Spain has always been prevalent in my cooking when it comes to flavors and textures and I found tapas dining a great way to explore many dishes without the sacrifice of picking just one.

Bilbao, Spain – Nervion River
 

I made a last minute travel change, in Bilbao, that allowed me to spend a couple days in San Sebastian, to not only take in its food, but to catch the opening day of its annual Heineken Jazz Fest. What better place to experience two of my favorite things, Jazz music and eating, while sitting on the beach!

San Sebastian

San Sebastian view from Mount Igeldo

When it comes to small plate dining, pintxos reign supreme in Basque cuisine.  Unlike traditional tapas, which are usually plated and smaller versions of main course dishes, pinxtos are truly, one to two bite, sliced bread samplings, topped with an array of cheeses, seafood, meats or croquettes.  The combinations are endless and are usually characterized by a small toothpick or skewer holding everything in place. Pinxto bars dot the landscape in Old Town San Sebastian as well as Bilbao.

In general most pinxto bars, top their bar with an array of room temperature offerings. You either pay for a “flight” of eats, in addition to a local beer or wine or you just pay for your selected pinxtos.

Pinxto bar offerings – San Sebastian
Pinxto Bar – Bilbao Spain

I found myself both mesmerized and anguished during my selections, as I knew, I planned to visit several bars and didn’t want to over do it at any one place.  Pinxtos are not complicated and are meant to be more like appetizers or bites to have with friends and drinks before one goes out to dinner.

The pinxtos I’ve created here are just a small sampling of the combinations of flavors that I like and that I found to be an underlining base of offerings during my visit.  Use this form of dining as a way to include family members in the kitchen.  Build a selection of ingredients and let everyone construct their own versions.

A few basics:

Use good bread. The Basque region boarders France so crusty baguettes are a must.

Both Bilbao and San Sebastian are coastal: sardines, tuna are very prevalent

Cheese: Manchego is Spain’s pedestal cheese – use it often but don’t be afraid to use a good French Brie. Baguettes and Brie hopefully will be served in heaven.

Meats: Iberico Ham (Jamon Iberico), pork is popular, small beef cuts – use a good cured ham if you can’t fine Iberico. Chorizo always works

Vegetables: piquillo peppers, tomatoes, bell peppers, olives, pickles, olive oils add spice and freshness

Tomato Bread | Manchego | ChorizoIMG_6801

I borrow the popular Catalonian tomato bread as the base for this pinxto. (Catalonian Tomato bread is a popular table bread served in Barcelona: traditionally toasted bread topped with a smear of ripened tomatoes and garlic)

6-10 pieces sliced baguette

8oz shaved Manchego cheese

8oz stick chorizo – sliced

Garlic clove, sea salt and pepper

Lightly toast sliced baguette pieces. Rub with raw garlic clove. Spread a small amount of grated ripe tomatoes and top with shaved manchego and chorizo. Sprinkle with a small amount of sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Spike with toothpick. Room temperature manchego allows its natural buttery and slightly toasted nut flavors to come out. 

 

Tuna | Yolk Aioli | Egg | Red Pepper

IMG_6869

Fresh tuna gives this pintxo a lighter than look texture. Drizzled with fresh squeezed lemon and good olive oil rounds this out. Swordfish or other semi firm fish can be substituted for tuna. You need a fish that will hold up on the grill and not contain too much natural oils.

1/2 lb fresh tuna steak (1 1/2″ thick cut)

2 hard cooked eggs – yolk separated after cooking

1/2 cup home made aioli or purchased light mayo

Juice from half a lemon

1/4 cup roasted red peppers 

6-8 toasted sliced baguettes or other crusty bread (rustic sourdough or ciabatta can substitute)

sea salt, black pepper, olive oil

Season tuna steak with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill each side for approximately 3-7 minutes or until fish has cooked through. Careful not of over cook.  Let fish rest and cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, mash cooked egg yolk into prepared aioli or light mayo; add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Reserve the egg whites to be lightly chopped and held separately. Once fish has cooled, flake into another small bowl, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste

Smear each baguette liberally with yolk aioli, top with spoon full of flaked tuna. Top with chopped egg white, small strip of roasted red pepper and light drizzle of olive oil.  Spear with toothpick and serve. 

Remember, these are just a couple examples of the endless options you have.  Have fun with this!

Thank you for all your Likes and Follows! If you have a special place you eat, a special cuisine you like, or place you visited, message me for future highlights on what make you Drive.Stop.Eat

 

 

 

 

Posted in Food, Recipes, Travel | Leave a comment

Quarantine Cuisine – Paella

Road to plate has been parked, as may of you have, so I’ve created a series of recipes that can help offer some comfort and add a bit of variety.

Like every great dish, they all come with a degree of embellishment and an individuals own creativity. One of my favorite dishes is Valencia’s Paella. Throughout my travels in Spain, I’ve come across various versions, all equally delicious.  I’m sharing with you my version, of a mixed paella.

Paella is traditionally served in what is called a Paellera. Even though the pan allows for controlled even cooking and gives the dish its name, you can substitute with any shallow large, at least 14″ round saute skillet. Stay away from using cast iron of stainless steel. A non-stick pan will offer a decent substitute. Most paella pans are made of carbon steel so after use, make sure you coat with a little oil to keep from rusting and aiding in seasoning the pan. Many kitchen stores will sell paella pans or you can find several online retailers.  If your going through the labor to create this dish, make sure you get the pan!

Rice: you want to use a short or medium grain rice. This style of short round rice absorbs liquid effectively, much like Arborio in risotto making. Look for true paella rice such as Bomba in specialty markets or you can use any short round to medium grain rice.

In true paella fashion, many people fond over the Socarrat. This is the crusty bits of rice that form on the bottom or rim of the pan, during the final stages of cooking.  It’s prized in many households and restaurants.  It provides an additional level of texture and toasted flavor.

Mixed Paella

1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs – cubed
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups chorizo sausage – diced or coin cut (andouille can be used)
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic – diced
1 tbs paprika
1 cup diced roasted red bell peppers (drained of oil)
3 cups short or medium grain rice
6 cups chicken stock
3 Generous pinches saffron
8oz firm white fish (mahi mahi or swordfish) – cubed
12-18 raw medium to jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tail off
1/2lb thawed squid rings and tentacles
1 cup sweet peas, frozen
1 lemon for wedges
Chopped parsley (optional)

Season the cubed chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep chilled until use. Separately, season the shrimp, squid, and fish with salt and pepper and keep chilled until use.

Heat additional oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage until browned, remove and hold. Add chicken thighs and brown using oil remaining in pan. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until chicken is nearly cooked through.IMG_5363

In the same pan add diced onions and garlic.  Sauté until onions until softened. Do not burn the garlic.  Add rice and saffron and cook for 2-3 minutes or until all the rice has been coated with oil.  Rice should start to become a yellow color.  Add diced bell peppers and cook for an additional 1 minute.IMG_5373

Add chicken stock to cover the rice, bring to a light boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add the shrimp, squid and fish and fold into the rice. Let simmer over a medium heat for about 6-8 minutes. You may need to add more chicken stock until rice is fully cooked and seafood has cooked through.IMG_5388 Near end of cooking process, when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, add peas and allow peas to warm through. You can let the paella continue to simmer over a medium to high heat to help create the socorrat; that’s the crusty rice bits that can form around the rim and bottom of the pan.IMG_5402

Note: when cooking over stove top, make sure to turn your pan often to help distribute proper heat.

Remove from heat and garnish for lemon wedges and/or chopped parsley

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Market Day

As a chef and photographer, there’s not too many things I enjoy more than eating good food and photographing it; and spending time in City Markets are just the place to do both.
Throughout my travels, I’ve always had an affinity to the market, it’s people, food, smells and vibrancy of life. To meet the farmer, fisherman or shop owner and hear and see what their labor has produced, adds to the satisfaction. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a brief list of some of my favorite markets that you should… Drive, Stop and Eat.

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria
Barcelona, Spain

Located on the bustling avenue of La Rambla, Sant Josep is inundated with both locals and throngs of tourist, but that doesn’t take away from its rich history, over 800 years, in providing a wonderful array of fresh seasonal produce, fresh meats, cheeses and just caught seafood.Sant Josep de la Boqueria One can suffer from sensory overload, if not careful, as every turn of the head captivates you withSant Josep de la Boqueria rich colors and artfully displays fruits or the sounds of vendors hawking “street” food snacks and fresh squeezed fruit juices. Arrive early to beat some the tourist crowds and you’ll also catch many of the seafood stalls hand selecting a tremendous variety of seafood. During lunch find a tapas bar, sit back and people watch.

 

Marche Jean-Talon
Montreal, Quebec Canada

Located in the heart of Little Italy, Jean Talon Market mimics more of a traditional farmers’ market embellished with an array of small food stalls, cafes and coffee shops. You’ll also find small restaurants and bakeries dotted along the perimeter. From bagels to lox, you’ll find a wonderful selection of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetable that are artistically displayed. From June to October, many of the streets are reserved to just pedestrian traffic, which for me, allowed me to eat and walk with great ease. Say Qui to French pastries without crossing the Atlantic!

 

Mercado do Bolhao
Porto, Portugal

Amongst the many of Porto’s rich characteristics, is the Mercado do Bolhao. Located in the center of Porto, this rustic market houses several fresh fruits, produce and butchers. A highlight for me were the fresh seafood vendors, who’s stalls, mostly run by women, had an endearing personality and were quick to both help me with my Portuguese as well as educating me on the vast amount of fresh seafood and shellfish they had to offer. The market has a couple first floor restaurants that prepares local fare, sourcing most of the ingredients from the vary booths I visited. I found this market to be less populated by tourist, which was welcomed as I got more a feel of true Portuguese culture. Florist, spice shops, local gifts and souvenirs and of course, Port wine are available from the other shops that span the perimeter of the market.

 

The Neighbourgoods Market
Cape Town, South Africa

This Cape Town, Woodstock area, market on the grounds of the Old Biscuit Mill is more of an epicurean delight than market. Among the throngs of trendy clothing boutiques, jewelry makers and gifts are some of the best restaurant quality food vendors Cape Town has to offer. From craft beers to artesian breads, and Halal to vegan, you’ll have no problem finding something to satisfy your tastes or needs. Open year round, but only on Saturdays, this market has a great following of locals as well as visitors. Communal seating on large park style tables allows a wonderful mixing of conversations and taste sharing. Throughout the year Neighbourgoods host several food, wine and music related festivals and activities.

 

Darajani Bazaar & Market
Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania

If you like the air perfumed by a mélange of spices, the sounds of hawkers and buyers and the organized rawness of a traditional African market, then the Darajani Market is for you. Throngs of locals and tourist visit this market every day to purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, spices and everyday necessities. Early risers can catch the action during fresh seafood auctions or butchers just tending to their offerings, the sights and smells will alert you that you’re close. The main building is surrounded by a host of stalls and booths selling tourist driven spice kits and local clothing. As dates are grown in abundance on Zanzibar, you’ll find a whole street dedicated to this fruit, as well as vendors using mobile carts sell fresh bread. Take your time and you meander through alleys and streets lined with local crafters and shop owners.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From Ethiopia to Indy

Ethiopia to Indiana. Taxi Driver to Restaurateur. You’re right; doesn’t quite seem the most logical, but that’s just what you’ll find on the west side of Indianapolis.

Sampler Platter

Sampler Platter

Nestled within an unassuming strip mall on west 38th street, you’ll find Abyssinia, and owner/chef Abraha Belachew. The Indy’s west side has been noted in becoming a clearing house of many ethnic and cultural based establishments and Abyssinia has been one of the originals serving authentic Ethiopian based cuisine since 2003.

Abraha a native of Ethiopia, fled with his family, as a refugee, to neighboring Sudan to escape his countries inner political turmoil and unrest. Originally arriving to the United States, via San Diego, to live with a cousin in 1988, he made his way to Indianapolis in 1996. While a taxi driver he fell in love with the area, its people and soon the location in which he wanted to open a restaurant. “No experience at all” he stated but untraditionally for his culture, his mother, enjoyed his cooking. Growing up, it was very uncommon for men to cook in the family. Much of his experience came from observing others cooking. Now he relies on past experiences and his own interpretations of Ethiopian cuisine.

Abyssinia, which in loose translation, is an ancient name of Ethiopia, has been, over the years, a true labor of love and commitment. A mom and pop in every sense of the phrase, his wife, who was back in Ethiopia visiting family, when I visited, makes their traditional flat bread, Injera, every night. Their daughter, a six year U.S. military veteran, has also served as hostess and server.

The interior of the restaurant is dimly lit and cozy, with most tables positioned close to one another. Posters of Ethiopian landmarks dot the walls while there’s a faint aroma of spice and roasted coffee beans. On my visit, during mid-week, there were a few guest scattered about. Diversity has been very important to Abraha and Abyssinia’s success. A frequent dining spot of many international college students, professors and doctors, all have led to a tremendous word of mouth following, within his own community and beyond. When not in the kitchen, you will find Abraha, personally greeting guest, friends, offering traditional honey wine, they make in house, or helping guest select from his vast menu. Whether dining on glass topped tables or from traditional basket weaved tables called, Mesob, family and friends are the focus and one of the main reasons why he enjoys having Abyssinia. Communal dining is a must and remember, eating with your right hand only, is a cultural tradition but forks are provided for us westerners.

The Food: African cuisine has been at the root of many American trends and cooking. From low country, in the Carolinas, to Creole in Louisiana. At Abyssinia, you’ll find many recognizable ingredients prepared in some very traditional methods. Abraha provided me a sampling of some his stable items including, Gommen Besiga, braised collard greens and Tikel Gome, stewed cabbage and carrots. While serving a vast patronage of vegetarians, beef, lamb and goat are at the forefront to many of his dishes. Siga Wett, braised beef tips, in a paprika laced sauce, (you can ask for REAL spicy) were and have been a favorite of mine. Stewed goat, steamed rice and turmeric spiced potatoes were also on my sampler plate; and all had a wonderful mix of earthiness and spice. Always ask for the traditional tea service that finishes your meal. Be prepared for a very hot but wonderfully soothing mint and fruit scented tea. When first arriving to Indianapolis, Abraha relied on fellow local Ethiopians to provide many of his native herbs and spices for his restaurant. Now, through his own successes, he currently provides many of those same individuals and much of the Indianapolis area with goods he sources directly from Ethiopia.

Tea Time

Tea Time

A true chef of farm to table and buying local, Abraha, personally visits and selects every cow, lamb and goat that he serves in the restaurant. He oversees each livestock purchase, follows during its butchering and packing, to insure both quality of the product and that it has been handled humanely and within cultural parameters. Now that’s knowing where your product come from!

If you appreciate good food, a warm environment and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet, then Drive, Stop and Eat to, Abyssinia.

 

 

 

Posted in Restaurants | Tagged | 2 Comments