Monthly Archives: January 2016

Unorthodox Moroccan spiced Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

Slow-cooked chicken, bright sweet potatoes, and jalapeños get a kiss of Near East spices. Moroccan tagine meets American chili. Whether you are thawing out from a snow-in, rain-in, or simply are looking for a great winter (or Super Bowl) recipe, this unorthodox chili is a great alternative to a standard chili con carne or white chili. It can be made vegetarian friendly, too!

It started with a rainy weekend and a need for culinary inspiration. I opened an old cookbook for some recipe roulette, in search of soups. And there it was, in an old Whole Foods Market Cookbook given to me by a college roommate: a simple but intriguing recipe for a sweet potato chili with chicken But it was missing something: international flare.

What could spice up a bland but sweeter chili? Aha! Moroccan spices – cinnamon, cumin, ginger, and coriander, to start. With a few of those individual spices absent from my spice cabinet, I added my own spice blend, searching to achieve the fragrant sweetness of a Moroccan tagine with the savory heat an American chili, even taking a hint of cocoa to add depth and richness (shh!) The recipe below will offer options if you have the necessary spices, as well for my tip of making the most of the spice blends you might already have in your cabinet.

Here’s my secret: by combining a curry powder with pumpkin pie spices, you’ll manage to hit most of the more subtle spices in American, Middle Eastern, and Indian cooking. Just be careful on proportions and ALWAYS keep ground ginger and cinnamon on hand. My #3 spice blend (but #1 for garnishes, cold dips, etc.) is za’atar. In this case za’atar is more widely associated with Levantine (eastern Mediterranean) or Arabian cooking than North African, but it helps round out the sweetness of the chili for those that want a more savory dish.

As hearty as chili can be, this one won’t weigh you down. It’s packed full of protein, nutrients, anti inflammatory capsaicin from the jalapeños, and dietary fiber. Dare I say it qualifies for the Healthy Diplomat stamp of approval?

Tips:
The recipe calls for a minimal amount of fat (oil), so I use small amounts of chicken stock to deglaze the pot and prevent sticking when sautéeing vegetables initially.

 

sauteeing the veggies and chicken, deglazing with a bit of broth

 
To make this dish vegetarian/vegan, replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock, omit the chicken or replace it with texturized vegetable protein or a can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans.

Moroccan spiced sweet potato chili

  • Servings: 8;
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Adapted from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook, Copyright 2002 by Whole Foods Market Services, Inc.

  • 1 Tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (about 1″)
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon*
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger*
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 tsp. curry powder*
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp. Cocoa powder
  • Pinch each, cardamom and cayenne pepper
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock (plus additional for deglazing)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 (15 oz) cannellini or great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 lbs. sweet potatoes (about 3 medium or 6 cups chopped), peeled and diced to 1/2″
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • Plain Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Za’atar for garnish (optional)

*If you have individual spices available, try these: 1 tsp. Cinnamon; 1/2 tsp. Ginger, 1/2 tsp. Coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp. Turmeric, 1/2 tsp. allspice. Proceed with the remaining (non-starred) spices in the list.

  
In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil and sauté garlic, onion, and bell pepper until just tender (onions will be translucent). Add the chicken and brown for about 4 minutes, tossing midway. Add in the spice blend, toss to coat and sauté for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Slow cooker: If using a slow cooker (Crock Pot), place on “high” heat setting. Add in the chicken broth and water, followed by the jalapeño, sweet potatoes, and beans. Stir in the chicken and vegetable mixture until smooth. Leave on high setting for 3-6 hours, reducing heat to low as needed.

 

chili after hours of slow cooking.

 
If cooking via stove top, do not remove from heat; continuing on medium heat, add the jalapeños to the chicken and vegetable mixture. Sauté, slowly adding a small amount of chicken broth to cover the mixture and prevent sticking. Continue to add the remaining chicken broth; stir in the sweet potatoes, beans, and, finally, water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for at least 30 minutes to one hour – more if desired.

Serve with Greek yogurt, and if desired, za’atar. A fluffy but porous dinner roll will mimic traditional North African bread. I also like to serve it with plantain chips to serve as a New World counterpoint to the Old World spice in the chili.

  

The Wine Drinker’s survival guide to Vail’s Big Beers Festival

Not a huge fan of beer? Love wine? Peer pressure to go to a beer festival? I recently survived – no, actually enjoyed! – Vail, Colorado’s 16th annual Big Beers, Belgians, and Barleywines Festival. Discover beers you might not expect to like!

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a wine drinker. I enjoy the interaction of wine with food, how both compliment one another so well. I havent felt the same about beer very often. Sure, I’ll drink an occasional beer, but I find a lot of craft beer to be too bitter, thanks to hops, and too filling, thanks to all that grain. It all goes back to when I was a toddler, when I occasionally swiped my dad’s bottle of Heineken off of our coffee table for a sip.

I hated it. It made me think of stale, unsweetened ginger ale. Parents, lest you feel horrified of the idea of a 2 year old sneaking beer, just know that it was the best deterrent to underage drinking ever. I was completely uninterested in drinking beer in high school and college.

As an adult, I am usually uninterested in it still, but my palate does appreciate the craft of brewing. Belgium and Germany’s beer cultures, in particular, are deserved sources of national pride. Having spent a fair amount of time in both countries, I respect their brewing traditions. The USA also has a strong beer history – especially in the Rockies. But in the past decade particularly, the rest of the country has jumped on the craft, microwbrew, and home brew industry bandwagon.

Unlike winemaking, brewing beer poses few barriers to entry. It is the common man’s (or woman’s!) craft, offering entrepreneurial hope – or a passion project – to so many.

Vail’s Big Beers festival celebrates both the local and the global beer industries. For those not in the know (or haven’t guessed), the term “Big Beers” refers to alcohol content (ABV). No weak beers allowed! Other than that, the festival invites attendees to taste the diversity of craft beer – or as one friend put it, the opportunity to take on a mission and focus on a specific type, flavor profile, or origin.

The festival, held over three days, offers seminars, coveted reservations at the brewmasters’ tasting menu, cigar and beer pairings (AKA – s$&@ show), beer yoga, all culminating in a four-hour tasting extravaganza.

Prior to the final day, I was mostly a spectator in this raucous subculture. But when The Yoga of Brewing was offered, I couldn’t pass that up.

What is beer yoga? Apparently it is a “thing” – check the Instagram tag #beeryoga, and you’ll see over 3700 posts. While I am a dedicated yogi, beer yoga goes against everything yoga holds sacred. Mixing beer and yoga is like throwing in a harmonica with a string quartet. Oh so wrong, but if done well, it kind of works.

  
This particular beer yoga involved beermosas – combining an effervescent saison with orange or grapefruit. Wisconsin’s Goose Island Brewing Company served up their Sofi, which is brewed with champagne yeast and does taste a bit like a slightly bitter, malty sparkling wine. The yoga instructor offered up a great practice for all experience levels; funny enough, it was the most experienced yogis that appeared to find the most opportunities to squeeze in a sip of beermosa between or during asanas. Pigeon pose, in particular, is an excellent time for a beermosa break! At the end of the practice, yogis could nab a refill or try Goose Island’s Gillian, a sour ale with hints of strawberry and pepper.

  
With beer yoga behind me, I was ready to take on the chaos that was the beer testing. Held in an exhibition hall (really, a warehouse) at the Vail Cascades resort, row upon row of stalls offered generous samples of beer and Barleywines – both domestics and imports.

  
So how did the non-beer drinker fare? I focused on the lambics, cherry ales, and the more interesting finds (fermented in oak or bourbon barrels). I found a great selection of Cherry lambics (or lambic style ales) and some great porters with heavy notes of chocolate, bourbon, and coffee. A few of my tasting notes:

Belgians!

  
My favorite Belgian imports came from Oude, Rodenbach, and Kasteel (Castle). Rodenbach’s limited edition Caractère Rouge is a cuvée (blend) that has been aged for two years, including six months of maceration with cranberries, sour cherries, and raspberries. The result was richly fruity with a balance of sweet, tart, and bitter. Rodenbach Grand Cru was another highlight. It has a 200 year production history that allows it to receive the protection of the Belgian government. It is a cuvée of 60% two-year old beer and 40% one-year aged beer. Rodenbach’s historic brewery is so well-established that the beer undergoes Spontaneous fermentation based on naturally occurring yeast, rather than with the addition of brewer’s yeast. It’s a claim few others can make.

  
Kasteel’s Barista Chocolate Quad is a very strong, robust dark ale fermented with Belgian chocolate. It was fantastic to this chocoholic! Their Petrus Aged Red is a double brown ale brewed with cherries; it too bore the mark of a deft brewer. It was much more smooth and subtle than other cherry ales and the lambics.

Domestics

  
Atwater made a tasty blueberry cobbler porter. It seemed to be a bit lighter in body than most porters, with smooth malt, and a pleasant non-hoppy bitterness – not to mention the flavors of fresh, ripe blueberry. I was embarrassed to set women back by tasting only that one from Atwater, but the booth worker told me it was their most popular beer by far.

  
 Also worthy of mention was Horse and Dragon’s Scottish Tradesman Coconut Porter: who knew coconut would work so well with a porter? Verboten Brewing drew me in with the name of their Never Lose Russian Imperial Stout. It was richly bold with clear notes of coffee and hazelnut, like drinking black hazelnut coffee with a shot of Frangelico.

Redstone Meadery brought the lone contingent of meads. If you’ve never tasted mead, you’re missing out. It’s a wine made from fermented honey, and like grape wines and beers, you can find great diversity in the body, sweetness, and aroma of mead. My neighborhood brewery back in Virginia sold a fantastic honey apricot mead from North Carolina, but alas, they discontinued it. So I was pretty excited to try Redstone’s four varieties of sparkling mead, which, they told me, is a new trend in mead. It was also fairly low in alcohol, at 8% ABV, which created a light and refreshing beverage. Their nectar of the hops was my personal favorite, as it had so many different subtle aromas. In contrast, their flavored meads were tasty but a bit more intense and single-noted: pumpkin, black raspberry, and passion fruit nectar were more tart.

By the end of the commercial tasting, much of the crowd showed visible signs of a few too many samples. But for me, I can only stomach so much beer, so I left with my faculties and dignity intact. The experience was far more enjoyable a beer education than this wine drinker would have thought possible.

Playa del Rey: Go fancy or dive at the best LA beach town you’ve never heard of

Check out both decades-old local haunts and trendy new food boutiques alike in Los Angeles’ most underrated beach town. No doubt you’ll find yourself wondering why it’s the best little beach you’ve never heard of!

Thanks to Hollywood (and even the food television world), the city and county of Los Angeles capture the imaginations of travelers the world over. My international readers certainly would recognize Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Malibu, Santa Monica, Venice as cities and towns within LA. Those more familiar with the area might also add Inglewood, East LA, Manhattan and Hermosa Beaches, among others. But Playa del Rey is less likely to rise to the top of your list of places to visit while in Los Angeles. It certainly is one of mine, however!

  
I would say it should be, but then visitors could ruin the sleepy, friendly small-town vibe of this neighborhood. Nestled between the natural barriers of Marina del Rey and wetlands to the north and east and LAX (the airport) and Manhattan Beach to the south, it’s not the easiest location to stumble upon, nor is it chock-full of shops and restaurants that target tourists. Instead, Playa consists primarily of one main street, Culver Boulevard, which is surrounded cliffside/hillside residential neighborhoods above and smaller, more dense housing areas known to locals as The Lagoon and The Jungle, respectively. That’s it.

About a dozen cafes, restaurants, and bars line Culver Blvd. Many of them have been serving food, coffee, and booze to locals for decades.

The Landmarks

Tanner’s Coffee
– except for the free WiFi signs – seems frozen in the 1990s coffee counterculture but is too knowing to try to be hipster. It’s like the hipster who grew up a bit more mellow and less self-aware. But I love it. It reminds me of a couple of coffee shops from college. Across the street, Cafe Milan is a sure bet for a more leisurely, full breakfast or lunch with a wide and tasty menu. Try the California Omelet, which of course includes avocado.

For the bar scene, Prince of Whales is a sprawling dive bar that encompasses several rooms and a patio area. You’re likely to encounter weekly drama, a musical act, and perhaps an eye on under-the-table recreational drug use there. Mo’s, The Shack, and Harbor Room nearby offer a change of scenery for the locals. I hear the Shack’s Friday night karaoke is legendary. Ok, perhaps I’ve participated in that one… Mo’s also serves “good that is actually good” for very reasonable prices, or so I hear. Cantalini’s and Cafe Pinguini are also local favorites for those craving Italian.

The Fancy Stuff
In 2011, the celebrity chef world enveloped Playa del Rey with the opening of The Tripel, a casual but internationally inspired “New American” gastropub. I visited The Tripel in 2012, and I instantly loved it for its sweet potato tater tots, killer pretzel burger, and arguably, Playa’s only selection of truly good wine at the time. It later garnered more attention and an influx of LA foodies with the success of its chef/owner Brooke Williamson, as the runner up of Bravo’s Top Chef in 2013 (I sadly watched her elimination then).

  
Playa Provisions
Since that success, Williamson and her husband opened nearby Playa Provisions inside the former Playa Cantina building. Playa Provisions is a 4-in-1 concept restaurant that houses a casual fine dining room, whiskey bar, to-go market, and ice cream shop.

  
I had the good fortune to try out Playa Provisions. Though the dining room was booked, we found easy 8 pm seating in the whiskey room, Grain, where Dockside’s full menu is offered, in addition to bar bites.I’d had a huge late lunch at La Super Rica Taqueria in Santa Barbara (read my last post!), so I was looking for a lighter meal.

First up, however, was my drink selection. At a whiskey bar, a Ginger Highball seemed like a great idea. It was until I ordered a cheese board (who drinks a sweet bourbon cocktail with good cheese?!) and their charred broccolini with chili vinaigrette – which, for the record, pairs just fine with the ginger highball.

  
  
The cheese board was not inexpensive, but it provides generous portions of some great cheeses – a soft, French cow’s milk, a Gruyere, a Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, and a California bleu – along with tasty accoutrements. A glass of wine was much needed, and the bartender accommodated my tasting and search for the perfect selection. I settled on my old standby, a Mendoza Malbec.

  

   
 My friend ordered the Dungeness crab Mac & cheese (delicious!) and a beet and tomato salad (light on the tomatoes).

Bacari PDR
Before I left the PDR, I had to try one last fancy addition to Playa’s food scene: Bacari PDR. Bacari, occupying the small structure that formerly housed a tiny French restaurant, brands itself as a wine bar and purveyor of cicchetti – Italian-inspired small plates. On the beverage side, I enjoyed their house red wine blend, and I tried a sip of a friend’s Old Cuban – which she affectionately called “Fidel”. The latter is basically a mojito (shaken, not on the rocks) with champagne added. I’m ready for that one to go national. Or at least up the coast.

  
Bacari’s menu offers plenty of unique, Italian-American alternatives to traditional Spanish tapas. Order three dishes and save money – a nice change of pace for a higher-end restaurant! Grilled mini pizzas, hot and cold cicchetti, and cheese and charcuterie.

  
Again, a late lunch kind of dampened our appetites, so I went light with a single cheese selection – an excellent, über rich French delices de cremiers with apples and served with a warm demi loaf of crusty bread. I ordered the lamb burger as well, served open-faced atop a thin slice of sourdough bread and smothered with a kale tahini sauce that carried a small hint of jalapeño or other chile. The sauce was memorable; the burger itself was a tad bland.

  
I tried my friends’ pizza and mac & cheese. The latter was not as rich and cheesy as Playa Provisions’ version, but the flavor was perfection – more of a fondue laced with white truffle oil and topped with breadcrumbs.

  
I couldn’t resist their dessert selection, especially after I saw a neighboring table order my coveted brown butter cookie dough dessert. Yes, you read correctly. A small ball of cookie dough is surrounded by a warm chocolate ganache subtly spiced with cardamom and served with caramelized walnuts and whipped cream. Thankfully for my waistline, it was a small portion.

My recent visit to the PDR definitely was chock full of great meals – both from old favorites and newcomers that have elevated Playa del Rey on LA’s foodie map. I would encourage everyone to check out this hidden gem of a beach town themselves – but then that might be counterproductive. Sooooo, why don’t you just leave it our little secret?

The CD Road Trips down California’s Historic El Camino Real

How does The CD road trip? Join us for our first – food filled – drive down the historic El Camino Real (U.S. Highway 101) from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

 

Virginia road trip

 
I was born to road trip. At a young age, I stayed alert and curious of my surroundings on our many family road trips, even memorizing the exit numbers and sign descriptions on the oft-traveled 75 mile (125 km) route to my grandparents’ house. As soon as I became a licensed driver, I road-tripped whenever I could. I remember one of the first entailed carting my friends to my dear friend Caroline’s parents’ river house for a long June weekend, blasting Spice Girls and No Doubt along the way (forgive me, it was 1997!) Just over a week ago, the world lost Caroline, far too young. Her passing brought up so many memories I hadn’t thought of for awhile. They show me how life changes, as we do, and yet some things never do.

 

the Pacific Coast Highway (CA 1) at the end of the journey

 
With only a short long holiday weekend (intentional oxymoron), I took my first major road trip down California’s coastal region via US Highway 101, which also holds the designation as part of California’s historic El Camino Real (Royal Way/Highway) between San Jose at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles. And of course, the trip involved food and wine stops – all of them spontaneous, which can either be the best or worst kind. Shall we see my hits and misses?

The road: Historic El Canino Real
Unlike the jarring, otherworldly contrast one might see after flying hundreds or thousands of miles point to point, I love the continuity of a long drive, where the terrain and cultural shifts are more subtle and more meaningful.

Highway 101 meanders through a broad range of terrain and microclimates: from the green(ish) forested hills between San Jose and Monterey; to sweeping valleys of farmland and grassy plains, to somewhat sandy-soiled hills covered with vineyards, to rocky, desert mountains, to coastal cliffs. It originated as a Spanish government road that connected the numerous missions in Alta California down to Baja California, back in the good old 17 to early 19th centuries when the former was not an American territory but instead a Mexican province controlled by Spain.

Today, the 101 connects large cities (San Francisco, San Jose, Salinas, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, and LA) with small beach and farming towns (Gilroy, San Miguel, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, etc.) and isolated stretches that offer few signs of civilization. And in between, many food and wine adventures are to be had. Alas, I could only try a few.

The Paso Robles wine fail

Turning off the freeway – around the halfway point of the outbound trip – literally was a spur of the moment decision spurred by an equally last minute Google search and the small, annoying voice of Future Regret (Oh, and Siri, as usual, was of little help. Way to go, Siri.).

 

Vineyards are a common sight along the rolling hills and plains near Paso Robles


 
Had I done (any) previous research or experienced much Paso Robles wine before, I might have ended up with a better experience. As it was, I picked one with slight name recognition from the search results. Call it Wine Roulette. I will refrain from naming the winery, as I don’t want to give negative publicity, but if you must know, email us (or just figure it out). A short drive four miles east of the 101 on CA 46, I was pleasantly surprised to find a rustic but busy (good sign?) lodge-like tasting room with friendly staff. Even better was the complimentary tasting of up to five wines of one’s choice – Toto, we’re definitely not in Napa anymore! (Tastings in Napa without a club membership often can cost between $25-50 per person). For those of you concerned about responsible driving, know that I sipped and dumped here!

  
Alas, I found every single wine to be incredibly bitter, regardless how many of their oversized, mutant oyster crackers I ate to cleanse my palate. Their Viognier was the most interesting to me. The rosé of Syrah was the biggest disappointing (tannins, lack of complexity). The Cabernet Sauvignon had a wonderful nose reminiscent of black cherry, cola, and vanilla, but it just tasted tannic with a very “green” oak finish. The staff was simply too nice not to make a purchase, so I walked away with a Viognier and some photos.

The taco stand:  La super rica taqueria, Santa Barbara

Two thirds of the journey down, I finally made it – very hangry – to my late, quasi-planned lunch in Santa Barbara at the urging of a friend, who swore she would road trip to this taqueria just for tacos.

  
Tucked back from the main drag (State Street) in Santa Barbara is La Super Rica Taqueria on Milpas Street. Though its humble turquoise structure would be easy to miss when passing by, the long line snaking around the entrance is a hint as to why it is everyone’s recommendation.

I have to admit that I was a bit nervous that it might be a tad overhyped. Looking at the crowd, it was a mishmash of ages and ethnicities but almost certainly majority tourist. I shouldn’t have worried about the product; the food was fantastic and the not so fantastic wait in line set me back only in terms of my arrival time to LA.

  
The menu consists of 19 standard items, as well as a few daily specials (the latter of which that day included a mouth-watering vegetable tamal). Pay close attention to the menu descriptions; some items are served like small street tacos, while others are large plates full of meat and vegetables with tortillas on the side. All are priced to stuff oneself silly.

My friend recommended the #13 and the #6, both of which are be vegetarian options. As much as the joint looks like a hole in the wall, their vegetarian options are no joke. Unfortunately, the joke was on me, as they were sold out of the #6, Rajas, which consists of pasilla with herbs, cheese, and onions. It must be insanely popular, as during my 35 minute wait in line to order, I heard at least 8 others try to order that. That and the #7 and #19. Joke again was on me that I thought the #13 – cheese and homemade tomato sauce served on tortillas – was “too boring”. My friend later chastised me, noting the #13 is unique and like “Mexican fondue.”

  
At any rate, my two selections were filling and flavorful. I ordered for my “main” the #8, alambre de pechuga. It described the dish as grilled chicken with bell pepper, onions and mushrooms, plus three tortillas. The dish was a large plate full of the meat and veggies, served atop three hidden, homemade corn tortillas. It reminded me of the amazing Turkish Iskender Kavob. I asked for it to be topped with melted cheese and ended up eating it with their killer salsa verde and cutting the tortilla into chunks, mixing it together. I so ordered the #18, guacamole. It wasn’t a stand out but solidly good; it just needed added salt. The salsa verde offered the needed saltiness and the great tang of lime. The wait was worth it, and I was more than stuffed sufficiently for the rest of the drive.

The French patisserie: Renaud’s, Santa Barbara

On my way to LA, I spent too much time in line at La Super Rica Taqueria to have time to drive through Santa Barbara, one of my favorite cities in California. So I built in another stop on my return trip. I had been told that Santa Barbara had several great French bakeries, so I did a hasty yelp search and found three that sounded great. I went with one that seemed the easiest to access. Renaud’s patisserie and bistro, though tucked in a corner of a shopping center, is a Santa Barbara staple. Its clientele are predominantly locals – an encouraging sign. I ordered the almond croissant after reading numerous rave reviews (the croque Madame was the other frequently mentioned menu item).

  
The large croissant is covered in a not-too-sweet almond icing and thick slivers of almond. Inside is a very generous almond custard filling. My verdict: B+. I have to qualify that I have had some truly wonderful croissants in my day – most of them inexpensive and most outside of the US. Renaud’s version was a bit brittle for my liking on the exterior; the texture was soft but perhaps too dense on the inside. The filling and icing had nicely balanced flavors, but I really appreciate croissants with the strong almond flavor of almond paste, which did not come through in this one. Alongside coffee, though, it was one American breakfast I would never refuse!

This post is long in story but short in food adventures! I definitely will do another trip again with new – better planned and more obscure – food and wine adventures to share. Stay tuned!

Happy New Year from The Culinary Diplomat!

Happy New Year and a thank you to all who have helped the CD to hit a major milestone today – its one year anniversary!

The CD would like to thank each of you readers for stopping by over the past year. Over 2800 of you have checked out the site, and many others have subscribed. Your readership and support keeps us going.

I’d also like to extend my thanks to this year’s guest bloggers. Your posts have added such richness and much needed perspective on the world of food, travel, wine, and most of all, sharing culture. Thank you!

In honor of the one year milestone, I’d like to introduce or reintroduce you to the the top 10 posts of 2015:

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Mutabel – Baba Ghanouj’s Arab twin
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Nonna’s Kitchen at Alphonse
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Guest Post: Traveling on a budget – 4 ways to save
plated honey cake
Recipe:  New Year’s Resolution: Eat Latvian Honey Cake

Our very first recipe from a year ago today


Raw42
Going vegetarian, vegan, or raw in the Baltic States
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Guest Post: A tea scam in Shanghai
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What is Baltic cuisine?
A primer for the food scene in the Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia



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Oktoberfest: Demystifying the world’s most famous state fair
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Recipe:  Rustic mushroom soup: Bring home the flavors of Estonia
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Recipe: Belgian inspired Speculoos cookie ice cream

Those were the top 10 most viewed and liked posts of 2015. Again, thanks to everyone for reading and contributing. If you’d like to become a CD ambassador (guest blogger), please contact us!