On ‘Catering’ Your Self-Catering Holiday

Cooking might be the last thing you want to do while on holiday, but there’s a lot to be said for self-catering holidays.

  • You get more room for your money on self-catering holidays than you do from all-inclusive.
  • You set the schedule – with young kids, this makes keeping to routine a lot easier.
  • You’re more in control of the menu on self-catering holidays.
  • You eat what you want when you want on self-catering holidays.
  • Makes managing dietary restrictions easier.

But I know the idea of having to cook (and wash up) makes it sound less holiday-like and more like just moving the housekeeping to a new location. But cooking doesn’t mean it must be done in the same way as you always do. Take a holiday approach to cooking:  take some shortcuts, mix things up, relax your rules.

All you need to adopt a holiday approach to cooking is a bit of planning and a willingness to do things a tad differently. I have some thoughts on prepping for self-catering holidays which I’ve shared on the ‘Greater Gotham Going Global’ travel blog, and now I’ve got some tips more specifically about preparing for the catering part of  self-catering. Continue reading “On ‘Catering’ Your Self-Catering Holiday”

Marching to a Foodie Drum

March is full to the brim with culinary observances.

CAFFEINE AWARENESS MONTH: I’m hugely aware of it, thanks. In fact, the more I have, the more aware I am. We’re always been more or less in a constant state of caffeination at Fabulous Foodie. From a few facts in our Quick Coffee Trivia Round Up to our tips for Crafting a Cup of Coffee; from the mildly mind-bending Coffee Conundrum, Caffeine Continuum to choosing which coffee day to celebrate in Coffee Really Gets Around.


CELERY MONTH: An entire year has passed since I posited that there was no reason celery needs an entire month and I have yet to hear anyone present anything that has changed my mind.  Not even the people who run Celery Flats in Portage, Michigan. What is Celery Flats, you ask?  Continue reading “Marching to a Foodie Drum”

Summer’s Greatest Hits

The temperatures are finally heading up, up, up! And while I will no doubt complain about the heat once the novelty has worn off, I’m reveling in it at the moment.

Once it does get warmly tedious however, I offer these summer time treats, cool ideas and useful seasonal information. A round up of classic summer posts from the Fabulous Foodie archives. Just re-reading some of these can make me feel cooler.

Culinary Curation: Food Museums

It’s Museum Week over on Twitter (follow the #MuseumWeek hashtag) and naturally my thoughts flew to food museums. I know there’s a Pasta Museum in Rome (though I have never been) and the SPAM museum is undergoing renovations. I’m compiling a list over the next few days and highlighting a few each day here and on Twitter … Bon Appetit’s list is from 2013 but that was AGES ago.

From Bon Appetit’s List:

  • frietmuseumSPAM® Museum (on Twitter @SPAMbrand)
  • Frietmuseum in Bruges, Belgium
  • Ramen Museum in Yokohama, Japan
  • Kimchi Museum in Seoul, Korea
  • Currywurst Museum in Berlin, Germany
  • Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco, TX (on Twitter @drpeppermuseum)
  • International Banana Club Museum – now defunct
  • Mariager Salt Center in Mariager, Denmark
  • The Jell-O Museum/Gallery in LeRoy, NY
  • Burnt Food Museum in Arlington, MA

Obviously an update (and frankly a massive expansion) is needed. And who better than Fabulous Foodie to tackle the job?

Fabulous Foodie #MuseumWeek picks for Monday:

  • Museum of Food & Drink (on Twitter @mofad)
  • Cocktail Museum (on Twitter @tMOTAC)
  • Southern Food & Beverage Museum (on Twitter @SouthernFood)


Tasty TransAtlantic Christmas

Christmas at TransAtlantic Towers isn’t a traditional Dickensian picture. It’s much more a traditional New York Jewish Christmas – Chinese food and a movie(s). But as we are in the UK and not NYC, it’s a homemade Chinese feast rather than take away or a scrumptious selection of dishes at – in my case – Pig Heaven on Second Avenue or Evergreen on First. Your restaurant may vary. We’ll have Chinese-style, sticky spareribs, stir-fry of chicken and oyster mushrooms, fragrant shrimp, fried rice, noodles and sauteed veg. Behold last year’s spread:


Some of the kitchen activity IS given over to a Christmas tradition – in that Dungeekin’s “project salt beef” is underway. This has been part of their family Christmas for decades, cooked by his grandmother and mother before him and a recipe that is, to put it mildly, always evolving. This is a side of beef that, after an 11 day marinade, undergoes a slow (6-8 hours) and low (60C/140F) cook. This is in preparation for Christmas 2 down at Che In-Laws. We do the whole gifts, tree, turkey thing once Sprog has joined us – hence Christmas 2. Lucky boy, Sprog.

As there’s nothing I need to do while this whole Chinese food prep and salt beef cooking is going on, I like to do a bit of leisurely “site” seeing of a foodie nature. It’s a sort of virtual version of that “nice walk” everyone’s Dad seems to suggest over here just after everyone has eaten their own weight in poultry and Brussels sprouts. It’s warmer than going outside (and this year drier) Gets the ol’ taste buds going, the brain cells firing (in view of the annual resolution to blog more) and also keeps me out of Dungeekin’s way. 🙂 So, what have I found this year?

  • Cooking with … the hairdryer? Well, it’s NPR so it MUST be legit, right? I can totally see it being useful for s’mores but I hesitate on the whole turkey thing
  • Alexia pointed me in the direction of the history of the chocolate chip cookie, and really I don’t know why they make history in school so dry and dusty when clearly there are tastier options to study.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Around the World over at The Kitchn and found much food for thought (pardon the expression) in 75 Expert Essential for Home Cooks in 2013. I think their definition of essential is more elastic than mine.
  • The list-loving Forbes can’t let anything alone and has come up with “What You’ll Eat Next: Food Trends 2014” all of which were things we all saw on the rise over the past several years. So they are both list-loving and late the party. Also – vegetables aren’t a trend. They are a given.  Much more fun is the related Huffington Post list, “Food Trends 2014: What’s Coming Up and What’s Passé” – because it includes passé. I love kicking things (even food) when it’s down. That said, I quibble with anyone who says “Out with fried chicken.” I won’t even mention the LUNACY of saying  – and forgive me – “Out with bacon.”
  • There are – of course – several relevant food observances – Pumpkin Pie Day (Dec 25) though as I have said elsewhere I’m not wholly convinced this was the best choice for Dec 25.  There is Candy Cane Day (Dec 26) which is also a puzzlement since by then – you’d think everyone would have had enough.  Dec 27 is Fruitcake Day – see earlier comment re candy canes but December is also fruitcake month so I’m even less convinced fruitcake needs an actual DAY. And of course, Dec 30 is Bicarbonate of Soda Day. Two days too early if you ask me. But no one did. So happy bubbles to one and all. 🙂

And I leave you with this, a favorite Christmas time quote of mine:

“Christmas? Christmas means dinner, dinner means death! Death means carnage; Christmas means carnage!”  — Ferdinand the Duck in the film ‘Babe‘ (1995)

Great Culinary Content Worth Revisiting

5 years ago, Mark Bittman, who wrote the New York Times Minimalist column for 13 years* and author of How to Cook Everything posted a column entitled: ‘Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less.’

summer_foodIt’s the kind of column that, back in the pre-internet days, you clipped and saved. The kind of column you found it years later, yellowed, tucked into a cookbook or taped into a spiral notebook with other clippings. The only thing that has changed now is that you can save it electronically. Of you can still print it instead of clip it but now you can save it as a PDF, email it to yourself, or bookmark it. No yellowing to be found.

Regardless of how you save it, it is the kind of column one returns to again and again. When one is peckish, needs inspiration, has far too much fruit on hand and no idea what to do with it, can’t bear the thought of standing next to the stove much less turning it on, etc. It was awesome then and it is awesome now.**

But that’s not the real reason I mention revisiting it. No, the reason I mention going back and revisiting it is the comments. Bittman provided 101 simple, quick and easy meals (and in some cases, more accurately snacks that will do when it’s just too damned hot to eat) but the comments provide HUNDREDS more.


Bookmark it. You won’t be sorry.

* The last column was a great look at how the Minimalist began, evolved & what it involved.

** Lucky for us, all the New York Time has kept the Minimalist Archives up, available for reference & review.


The Art of Cooking. Now With Extra Art

The other day, my friend Alexia (who ought to be writing her own food blog the way she rocks all things cooking and growing of her own produce) sent me a link to some beautiful illustrated recipes. Not illustrated with photos – we’ve all seen that. That’s the most expected thing in the world. No, these recipes were produced by an illustrator – Lucy Eldridge – working in watercolor.

Ms Eldridge not only produced some yummy recipes but some equally scrumptious illustrations to really tempt you into trying them. Well, OK – I don’t know if that’s why she duid it. Maybe she just felt like illustrating them. But the artwork makes the whole thing even more tempting to me. I think I’ll try the carrot cake first.

Eldridges_Illustrated_ CarrotCake

That recipe and others can be seen in larger format on her site. While you’re there, take a look at her other work. Wonderful stuff.

Naturally, I went looking for other illustrators who might have done the same. Boy oh boy – am I happy I did.

I read about Felicita Sala in a post on Design Sponge (one of my favorite design and lifestyle sites). The recipe there was stuffed calamari and while I am a huge fan of calamari, I somehow have never had it stuffed. This situation must be remedied and I think this is the way to do it.


I can’t wait to try the risotto al radicchio as well. Check that one out as well as the others at Ms Sala’s own site  . I’ll tell you something else – the fact that you can purchase prints of these recipes has me rethinking the walls of my own kitchen.

There are even whole sites, dedicated to displaying and sharing the illustrated recipes of illustrators – sites like They Draw & Cook and Recipe Look. I’ve spent ages looking through them and I find it all really inspiring, both culinarily and artistically. I’ll definitely be trying some of these dishes.

What? Oh no – not drawing. The only thing I can draw is a bath. Seriously – I’m not being modest. I really suck eggs at that sort of thing. But these people rock not only the art of cooking but art itself as well. Cheers to them all.


Merry Macaroon Day!

I suppose the only proper way to celebrate Macaroon Day would be with the most wonderful macaroons you could lay your hands on.

macaroonNow, it just so happens that the most wonderful macaroons you could lay your hands on (and I brook very little debate or argument on this) is a particular bakery in Rome – specifically the bakery with no sign on the door at the corner of on Via del Portico d’Ottavia (on the corner across from the school). I don’t know the actual name of the place. No one I know knows its name or at least no one I know has every used it in talking about the place and there’s no sign any way. *

All you need to say is ‘the  burnt bakery’ or the ‘bakery in the ghetto’ and everyone knows where you mean. This is it, in all its signless glory (and possibly the one and only time I have seen it without a line winding out the door.

And the macaroons? DIVINE.

* OK, a bit of research reveals the name is either Antico Forno del Ghetto or Pasticceria “Boccione” Limentani but I can almost guarantee no one will ever call it either of those in conversation and you will never need to know the name.

What’s Cookin’ at TransAtlantic Towers?

A whole lot of eatin’ has been happening at Transatlantic Towers lately. I mentioned earlier, in relation to National Pasta Day, that Dungeekin had sallied forth and made a magnificent seafood linguine– salmon and prawns specifically. But this was just one of his latest culinary explorations.

  • He has delved into amazing and delicious ways to clean out the fridge that resulted in Chicken a la Fridge-Clearout.
  • He has pushed the limits of gravity as well as the capacity of the human mouth with his doubledecker, cheese-inside “I Can Haz Cheeseburger Despite Being in the UK” burger.  He is, even as I type this, working on schnitzel and anticipating many many wiener jokes.*
  • He has attempted to replicate the IKEA meatballs we indulge in whenever we wander those flat-packed halls. And while they were not exactly the same, I have to say they were right up there on my “yes, let’s make it again” list.
  • He made his much talked about lasagne – and in all frankness, I had my doubts when I first saw it. It was not as solid as lasagnes I am used to. It was more like a loose lasagne bake. Gloopy might be the best way to describe it. But it tasted marvelous. We are a cheese-centric household and this lasagne was heavy on the cheese and sauce (hence the sloppy nature of it). With all that, who cared if it held together!

My plan is to keep you updated as dungeekin continues to explore the boundaries of his kitchen, our cookware and the bounty of local shops. My other plan is to keep eating. YUM!

* This post was interrupted by the cry of “dinner!” and I have now tried the schnitzel. I shall call it Slightly Spicy Schnitzel until such tie as he calls it something else because it was perfectly done and had the slightest hint of cayenne in there for “punch.”

Virtual Visits to Favorite Food Spots

I mentioned over on Greater Gotham recently that I sometimes got homesick for New York – having moved out after so long.  In addition to missing places like the High Line and the New York Public Library, I miss the food. The all-night diners, the food trucks, the Oyster Bar, the pizza, the GIANT SANDWICHES at the delis. Luckily, some of of my favorite New York eateries are using social media so well that I can visit them any time I want – even with an ocean in between us. Virtual visits are better for my diet as well. Makes planning culinary plans of attack for visits home easier too. Check out some of my favorites in Gotham Grub Goes Virtual.

Sigh. Great. Hungry now. And all I can think about is @CrumbsBakeShop , @biggayicecream, Serendipity_3, @CarnegieDeli and @shakeshack