Monday, April 30, 2012

Aquaponics: The Future of Sustainable Fish Farming?

We all know about organic fruit and vegetables and free-range organic chicken; but how much do you know about organic fishing? The term coined for this type of fishing is aquaponics and it is growing followers around the world. Organic food is gaining a group of faithful converts in the UK but the concept of organic fish and fishing aquaponically is not a widely known process. Derived from the terms 'Aquaculture' (raising of fish) and 'Hydroponics' (growing produce using only nutrient enhanced water), aquaponics is a system that allows for an entirely sustainable and organic farm system.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Medical Drama in Budapest

The poor half starved beast sank down under his weight and said to his rider. 'You will have to go on foot this time. Thanks to hard-work and bad food you have turned me from a horse to an ass; and you cannot in a moment turn me back into a horse.'”
Aesops Fables

Food poisoning becomes part and parcel with any travel; however in Hungary I experienced the worst I have ever had to date (and I've eaten some truly horrendous food and survived, e.g. 100 year old eggs and chicken heads!). This is not a slur on Hungarian food but after spending a large period of time in Eastern Europe it was no surprise to see dumplings, goulash, and stew, once again on the menu.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

New Delivery!!

The new Abel and Cole Box has arrived so new goodies to play with for this week. Any suggestions for a new culinary recipe masterpiece?

And a couple of special treats for this week too!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Englishman, An Irishman and A Mongolian

Mongolia, Ulaanbataqr

"Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever chose; but in fact each hill and valley in it had a man who was its acknowledged owner. The desert was held in a crazed communism by which nature and the elements were for the free use of every known friendly person for his own purpose and no more." 

T.E Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

There is nothing I enjoy more than being stared at, pointed at, and having pictures taken of me. Luckily in Mongolia there was plenty of this. When we arrived in Mongolia we arrived like Kings, we had 100,000 togrogs in our wallets and felt like world was our oyster. Sadly though Ulaanbataar (or UB to those trendy travellers out their) was unable to cater for the culinary journey that we were looking for. I had wagered before we arrived that there would be no Western influences in UB, and that we would finally be free of the global westernisation that we had left behind in Russia. I had a hefty sum of 5,000 togrogs* on this wager and was confident of a huge windfall. As we entered into the centre of UB we were greeted by Sukhbataar Square an oriental feast with glistening marble pillars and domineering statues. Directly opposite the square was an Irish Pub.

It was decided that if we wanted to see the real Mongolian cuisine we may have to go a little further afield.

After travelling to the outskirts of the city and integrating with the locals; oddly enough I found a home from home in Mongolian cooking. It had a lot of similarities to the traditional British style of cooking of meat and two vegetables. It was very carbohydrate heavy food but was finished in such a way that the density of the food was not overpowering. Meat was minimal in Mongolian dishes but it was not sorely missed. The variety of spices and texture was enough to tempt even the most devoted carnivore. Their simple way of cooking put new mod con kitchens to shame. A simple wood fire was more than enough for them to cook up some luxurious culinary treats.

Our curiosity had taken us to a small tribal village on the outskirts of the capital. We encouraged others to partake in our diplomatic mission and managed to rope in a motley crew of transatlantic ambassadors. Our group contained a pair of southern Chinamen, a bunch of very excitable Koreans, a Slovenian and two Americans who spent the whole time informing us about the National Museum of Mongolian History. It was not Genghis Khan's armour or the ancient dinosaur fossil held with that had titillated them. Rather they had become fixated on a Mongolian Barbie doll outfit they had found in the museums gift shop that came complete with hat and boots and how disappointed they were that they had no younger siblings to present this gift. We debated whether this would be an appropriate gift for our hosts but decided that they were probably very familiar with Mongolian Barbie attire and that they would more readily appreciate tobacco. Our hosts were very amiable and showed us to our accommodation. Sadly Mongolian Yurts don't cater for the western man and so a 5ft high house didn't really cater for our 6ft bodies. Nevertheless, the hosts were extremely hospitable and entertained with horse riding in the day and singing at night. It was at night that we presented our 
second gift of homemade vodka we had previously picked up in Russia. We presented everyone with a shot and drank to new friendships. Sadly our guests and some of our fellow ambassadors were unaccustomed to a more beer hardy western livers and were soon in a rather too jubilant state. Within the hour, two of our hosts ran off into the night trying to chase off an imposing looking bunny and our two chinamen were laying on the floor looking rather green around the gills. In the morning our hosts were no where to be seen but we deemed our diplomatic mission a success and boarded our next train that would take us further south. We had successfully managed to leave a British mark(s) on the Mongolian countryside.

* Pounds to Mongolian Tugrok rate was 
1 GBP = 2,000 Togrogs

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Foodies First Overseas Adventure

Italy, Venice 

A photographic gondola tour through the streets of Venice on my first Trans-European culinary endeavour.

Venice is a city of contrast; on the one hand it is a lovers paradise with quaint cafes and dribbling ice cream cones which calls to even those bellies filled to the brim. On the other, it is a city jammed backed with tourists which has more hustle and bustle than Times Square or Oxford Street combined. Our adventure saw us travel back and forth down the Grand Canal on a water bus; these were student days and the thought of forking out 30 euros for a Gondola ride was far too galling. Venice is an eternal maze, and therefore we spent many a day trying to cross one of Venice’s islands in a straight line and ending up exactly where we started.

In contrast to our mode of transport, our culinary journey was one of pure decadence. This was the city where I met my first true love; Coffee. Even the grimiest and unappealing cafes in Italy could produce the finest and most splendid coffee. We would spend hours watching the world go by as we indulged in the best grounds that the Italians had to offer. The food too was an eye-opening experience. Pure sun-ripened tomatoes and gleaming fish that winked at you with the mutual understanding that it had been freshly plucked out of sea that very morning. Perhaps my memories are clouded with a golden haze but the experience of food in Italy was certainly extra-ordinary. Secret recipes passed down from family's great-grandmothers leads to pizza recipes that have their own style and personality. This is a type of culture that us British have never really caught on to. Some of us hold recipes for a mothers perfect recipe for cheese on toast and a the ideal country sponge cake, but we don't have that passion for food that many European cultures take great pride in. Food is an integral part of their lives and as a result means that they can produce some truly magnificent delicacies. Perhaps organic food is a gateway for us British to get back in contact with the real great food that we are capable of creating.

As an aside, one encounter we all remember vividly whilst we were in Rome was an incident at Trevi Fountain. As like all tourist destination throughout the world, the fountain was surrounded by over-fed waddling pigeons, over-fed waddling tourists, and that common whiff of a McDonald's within arm's reach of even the laziest of expeditionists. There was a significant crowd and ruckus of camera flashes and incongruent cries as people wandered thorough each others photos. This was coupled by small children tossing two cents coins in to the fountain and planting all their hopes and dreams of being an an astronaut on the flick of their wrists. As this activity ensued, a lady of perhaps fifty entered the arena in shawl and carrying what was soon to be a weapon that would ensure mass outcry. The women was clearly a vagrant, a lost soul in the city of lovers. She stood next to the fountain and produced a long cylindrical rod. With this staff she began to fish out the young children's hopes and dreams of being a policemen or doctor. She continued for a good five minutes until a significant number of people spotted her activity and a mass protest began. During this time we had been gently licking our gelatos as the world passed us by, we were not quite ready for the reaction that this homeless lady was to receive. Soon the crowd began to boo and jeer as she continued to fill her pockets with either; the future of the next generation of kids, or worthless coins that people had attached no value until they had tossed them in the fountain. Either way the tourist of Venice were outraged by this activity, and it was called upon a gallant knight to resolve the situation. Dressed in the finest armour of a football shirt and flip-flops the man seized upon the lady and vanquished her rod. Upon seizing this rod of contempt he broke the stick in half to the jubilant cries of the crowd. Admitting her defeat the women retired to the backstreets of Venice while the prosperous tourist stood in the centre of the fountain to the delight of the crowd. We had witnessed a truly breath-taking event.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Journey on an Organic Quest

"When the Khoja had been served with food, he took hold of the sleeve of his pelisse and pulled it towards the dish, saying, in a tone of respect, "O most worthy and honourable pelisse! be good enough to partake of this dish. In the name of the Prophet I beseech you do not refuse to taste what has been hospitably provided."
"What is this, Khoja?" cried the people, "and what do you mean by offering food to a fur pelisse that can neither hear nor eat?"
"O most courteous entertainers!" replied the Khoja, "since the pelisse has commanded such respect at your hands, is it not proper that it should also partake of the food?"
Tales Of The Khoja, Juliana Horatia Ewing 

Okay, so this blog has accidently started on a bit of a wobbly day. Can eating out for three meals ever be justified? Well it's such a wobbly day that I don't care. Breakfast started in a delectable little cafe on Blackstock Road in Finsbury Park by the name of Cinnamon Village. A little organic cafe that has an hispanic feel to it. Serving a variety of different breakfast delectables including the traditional English Breakfast, varieties on the classic Eggs Benedict and a plethora of smoothies. 

Whether you are a down and out student looking for salvation in bacon to cure that insatiable hangover or a middle class muncher who wants to feed that ravenousness stomach; you will not be disappointed.

 Now next on the Organic hit list was Organica a smart little pizza parlour found hidden on the corner of Gillespe Road. How does the Fantasia sound containing mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes, homemade caramelised onions, and sesame seeds, or the Vegetarian Calzone containing aubergines, roasted potatoes, roasted peppers and ricotta. These were tempting but we were drawn to the Pumpkin Fusion with crushed roasted butternut squash, mozzarella, spinach, blue cheese and parma ham. Although not on the cheap side, the combination of flavours gave a unique pizza experience.  

With many peoples' ideas of a pizza being formed through adverts for Pizza Hut and flyers from Domino's this takeaway was a welcome change. The pricing makes it a special treat but we shall be certainly returning here again soon.
Who know's what tea will have instore on our organic journey, only time will tell. 

By eating Organic, it promotes a way of farming that can protect both the environment and the animals that thrive on the soil to survive. As I explore the great tastes and flavours of the world of Organic food, I also want to remember why organic foods are so important and the benefits it can bring to all of our lives. I also promise next blog I will actually cook some fine cuisine, to try and create an organic feast to temp you into creating your own organic masterpieces.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adem's Map

A guide to where's Adem's fruit basket has already been to see....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


"To entertain a guest is to make yourself responsible for his happiness so long as his is beneath your roof."

The Pleasures of the Table 

Four Apple Pies for the amazing food and dedication to sealife conservation.