Spanish supermarkets do not sell baking powder. This saddens me.

This was breakfast a couple of days ago: chocolate con churros in the Plaza Mayor (main square). The hot chocolate here is so thick and so yummy, and churros are sort of like doughnuts…so it’s not the healthiest of snacks but definitely one of the best! They didn’t come out so well in the photo as they were in the shade (and because I’m a terrible photographer at the best of times and was using my phone camera). Hopefully this photo captures a little bit of the amazingness of sitting outside in the square eating them though!

So, as I mentioned briefly in my previous post, I am currently on my year abroad in Spain! Our university had kindly organised for us to stay in halls, so when I discovered that the only cooking equipment I had was a microwave I thought this blog would have to undergo a rapid change of theme. But! Fear not! The halls turned out to be essentially boarding school, with a whole bunch of unreasonable rules and even more unreasonable prices, so we left. Freedom! And, more importantly, an oven! Yes, my new piso (flat) has a functioning oven, AND I have a three day weekend! Great, I thought, plenty of time for baking. Alas, our nearest supermarket doesn’t seem to stock baking powder, cocoa or self-raising flour. What?! Have I been thwarted, again? Well, hopefully not, as I am now going to embark on a quest for baking essentials and begin a year of baking! First step: looking up the Spanish names of these ingredients, just in case they’re on the shelf in disguise!

Wish me luck…!

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Cupcakes in Krakow!

Long time, no blog! I’ve been traveling: first to France with my family, then to Krakow and Budapest with some friends from uni. We came across a lovely bakery in Krakow, almost next to where we were staying, which had some of the cutest and yummiest cupcakes I’ve ever had, and have definitely given me some inspiration for new flavours! Normally I’m not a fan of bought cupcakes – they seem to have too much sickly sweet icing and a fairly flavourless cake underneath. These were great, though: so good we went two days in a row! The first time I had chocolate covered strawberry cupcake, and the second time chocolate and peanut butter cupcake (I’m one of those people who will almost always choose a chocolate option, as the posts on here probably give away!). They were the cutest things, and for once were just as good as they looked! So I’m all inspired to bake some new cupcake flavour combinations when I get home – unfortunately I have less than a week at home before I go to Spain to start my year abroad so cupcake baking may take a back seat!

(The bakery in question was Cupcake Corner – the website gives some idea of the range of flavours they have – I quite fancy making black forest and brownie obsession as well… or just going back to Krakow to try them there…)

Memorable meals – Trucha in Peru!

This isn’t a post about baking, but rather about eating! A couple of years ago I travelled to Peru, a memorable trip for many reasons, one of which was the food! It really did range from the sublime…

Possibly the creamiest cake I’ve ever seen!

…to the slightly ridiculous (to my tastes anyway!)

‘Causa rellena’ – basically cold mashed potato….er, yum?

Actually I probably had some of the best and worst food in my life on that trip (chicken soup complete with chicken neck, anyone?). But the most memorable meals for me were memorable because of the experience rather than the food itself. I think it’s just a coincidence that they all involve trout (trucha)…

Machu Picchu. Not strictly related to trout, but it is in Peru…!

The first time I had trout in Peru was in a village in the sacred valley. We’d been working all morning to clear some land, so of course by lunchtime we were starving and boiling hot, and would have been grateful for any sort of food. What we were served, though, was incredible: half a trout, freshly caught from the river, flattened and fried. When I say half a trout – these fish had just been cut in the middle, and were served complete with head or tail (I got a tail, which I was secretly a bit relieved about: I’m not super keen on my food staring back!). There was no cutlery so we ate with our fingers – pulling the fish right off the bones. I wish I knew how they cooked that fish, because I’ve never tasted anything like it; it was probably helped, though, by the fish being incredibly fresh!

A clay oven cooking potatoes!

Trout #2 was in the countryside just outside of Cusco: we walked up from the village of Chinchero with some of the children we taught (we were there teaching English), and they showed us how to cook potatoes in the oven in the picture which was entirely made from things found in the field – dried mud for the outside, dried grass (I think) which was burnt to heat up the inside, then the potatoes were put in and the oven was sealed with some more clay. We had this with trout, floured and fried, but I politely declined one of the girls’ grandmother’s homemade ‘chicha’ – an alcoholic drink traditionally made by repeatedly chewing and spitting out corn…

Taquile, an island on Lake Titicaca

I also remember the trucha in a tiny little ‘community restaurant’ on Taquile, which was run by three families who alternated each day who was in charge. As everything on the island had to be brought in on tiny boats – they were people on ours bringing huge packs of soft drinks to sell – I guess this trout came directly from Lake Titicaca. The trout was served in what I had by that point started to think of as typical Peruvian style: 2 portions of carbs (rice and chips) and a few vegetables (see the picture at the top!). Almost everything I ate there seemed to come with both rice and chips! To my British tastes this seemed odd – 2 portions of carbohydrate, what’s going on?! – and it did make meals very filling, but yummy nonetheless! The view from this restaurant was simply amazing – it looked right out over the lake:

Eating lunch looking over this was just amazing!

Taquile is in the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca, and immediately after visiting it we travelled to a Bolivian part of the shore: Copacabana. Not the Copacabana, but a Copacabana nonetheless! Anyhow, there was a row of stalls lining part of the shore, all serving fresh trout in several ways. Although we didn’t eat there they looked really pretty because they were so bright:

Trout stalls in Bolivia, how lovely do they look?!

So, that’s three of my most memorable meals – how about anyone else? Do you have particularly strong memories of certain meals?