Posts Tagged With: food

Couperage Wine and Whiskey Bar

January of 2013, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

Two months back, I had a gathering with my internship with SteamFunk Studios. In order to add a bit of fun in, I asked my darling sister if she would like a visit, seeing as I has to drive to Harrisburg, which is about two hours from where she lives in Philadelphia. Considering how fantastic my relationship is with my sister, she jumped at the chance for us to hang out even if it was only for a night. With this is mind, my sister thought that it would be nice to introduce me to a bar with cheap but delicious food. And when I say cheap I mean cheap: five dollars per serving!

Couperage Wine and Whiskey Bar is a popular little place in Philadelphia that my sister goes to every Thursday with her friends for an evening of casual drink and snacking. I won’t lie, I have no idea what the average size of a bar is, but it was crowded and noisy, but no in an unfriendly way. It was alive and friendly, and despite being an underager (not quite twenty-one yet) who doesn’t like alcohol in the first place, I was quite charmed by the atmosphere. Then the food came around.

Each of these compact, nicely portions pub food snacks were five dollars each. My sister and I split three little plates: mac ‘n’ cheese, cheese steak fries, and a pulled pork slider with chips.

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Mac ‘n’ cheese:

As far as mac ‘n’ cheese goes, this was actually kind of blah. I’m not sure what kind of cheese they used, but it wasn’t particularly strong, so it had a bland-ish flavor. But it wasn’t terrible! And I remind you, five dollars. And also I’m probably ruined taste-wise due my childhood addiction to Kraft…..

Curse you cheap American food….

IMG_2849Cheese-steak fries:

Holy crap are these the most delicious guilty pleasures I have ever tasty. I’m normally not one for french fries (not huge on potatoes), but this was quite possibly the most heavenly thing I’ve ever sunk my teeth into. The cheese was perfectly melty, the steak was delicious, and the fries just rounded off this perfect dish of delight. For five dollars. Seriously I can’t get over the fact that these were only five dollars.

IMG_2850Pulled Pork Slider with Chips:

You heard me right. Pulled. Pork. Slider. Totally better than your average hamburger or cheeseburger slider.  Seriously this was a teeny tiny basket of heaven. Add in those wonderfully thick cut potato chips that are perfectly salted and I felt like I was in snack nirvana.

There is nothing better than finding great deals on delicious food. If you are ever in the Philadelphia area and you’re looking for a place with good, cheap pub food and a variety of delicious drinks, check out Couperage Wine and Whiskey Bar. Their tasty little bites are absolutely phenomenal.

Until my Next Adventure,

Viviana Ayre

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Categories: Fresh Prints, Past Tides, Sister Bonding in Philly | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Forget to Wear a Coat!

November of 2010, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

So, every trip has its screw up, and when I went to Guatemala for a few days to attend my uncle’s wedding, I made a minor mistake… I forgot to bring a real jacket.

Now, one might think, hey you’re in a tropical area, why worry about the lack of a proper jacket? That’s what I thought. But I was wrong. Boy was I incredibly wrong.

So here’s the story: My uncle’s wife is a native Guatemalan, and so they had two weddings. One was located in our home state for legality, the second was in Guatemala for his wife’s family. As bridesmaids, my sister and I manage to scrape together the funds to go for three days (a very touchy subject…. not something I’ll cover today). With our dresses and some traveling clothes, we set out for a country that had never really been on our list.

It took me three planes, my sister two; I had to fly to where my beloved sister lives so that we weren’t traveling alone. After that we flew down to South America, but had to take a smaller plane to Guatemala itself. It was the first time I’d ever boarded a plane by walking across tarmac (usually we have those little hallways straight to the door).

Our pilot boarding the plane

Our pilot boarding the plane

We arrived in Guatemala late afternoon early evening, and we went to dinner and check out our hotel. Our hotel that looked like it was enchanted…

Our bed with handmade textile blankets

Our bed with handmade textile blankets

The courtyard, complete with fountain

The courtyard, complete with fountain

This was the hallway. No joke.

This was the hallway. No joke.

Yeah, it was gorgeous. The food was amazing too. As a farming major, there’s just something about super fresh eggs that just makes your taste buds go to heaven… Man, were they yummy. Pair that with some re-friend beans (first time ever having them), fresh mango slices, bread, and fried plantains (swooning just thinking about them) and you have a very classy and beautifully presented breakfast. As a note, it’s hard to have coffee in America when you have coffee fresh from the number one farm in the world… I’m spoiled…

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Anyways! My uncle’s wife and her family offered to take my sister around the sight seeing. What that meant was leaving the town we were in and driving two hours around some mountains to get to another city surrounded by volcanoes and a lake. I do apologize for the lack of names, but I never got the chance to get the names of the cities and mountains before family differences stopped me. Nevertheless, I cannot get over how beautiful it was to make our way through the windy mountains to a city that was completely isolated. The only way to get there was by the long windy road, or by boat.

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We took pictures.

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We ate new foods.

Fresh made in the restaurant, including the chips!

Fresh made in the restaurant, including the chips!

Some of them were yucky.

Banana curry soup... yuck

Banana curry soup… yuck

Nevertheless the most important thing I learned in Guatemala was the one thing that I forgot to pack.

Bring a proper jacket (a sweatshirt would work too).

I should explain my thought process. Guatemala has a very warm climate, so I brought a little navy blue jacket that didn’t button shut. This proved to be my undoing as I realized that we spent the majority of our time in the windy mountains. We also traveled across a very windy lake!

Note how it's a half jacket.... Also the adorable little turtle backpack I purchased

Note how it’s a half jacket…. Also the adorable little turtle backpack I purchased

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Sometimes, yes, I took the coat off.

Sometimes, yes, I took the coat off.

 

Now yes, my arms were covered, but it was a half jacket that didn’t button/zip/attach at all. So all the lovely little breezes that whipped my hair straight up…

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Were mildly uncomfortable!

I wish I’d remembered at least a sweatshirt to cover up with. Nevertheless it was a minor issue, just a small lesson to be learned. But make sure y’all remember your jackets before you leave the country!

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Until my Next Adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: On Traveling, Past Tides | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Why You Should Always Try New Things

December of 2012, Boot Size 10

My Dear Readers,

I was recently watching a BBC show called “An Idiot Abroad”

. Essentially they take a middle aged “boring” man who had never left England (not even to go the rest of the UK!) and they send him around the world to do tasks that occur on most people’s bucket lists, mostly involving some sort of travel. The episode I watched was, of course, about him going to Japan.

 

The aforementioned Idiot is Karl in the middle.

The aforementioned Idiot is Karl in the middle.

The bucket list event was to climb Mt. Fuji. But along the way he did other tasks such as sumo wrestled, tried three year old fish (I won’t lie, I couldn’t do it considering my lack of fondness for fish), and play with robots. What baffled me about this man is that he hated pretty much every minute of it. Every minute! My dad got a laugh out of it because the entire episode I was yelling at the television screen to let me do it, because I would have had a blast!

I am always looking to try new activities. For example, just the other day my friend and I decided to wander into a shwarma shop because we had never had shwarma before and thanks to the movie Avengers we were intrigued and wanted to try it. But while we were in there, we found a ton of little food items that we’d never seen or tried before! So we decided to go all out. I, for the first time, tried Turkish Delight!

I don't know how you capture the flavor of rose... but it was so delicious!

I don’t know how you capture the flavor of rose… but it was so delicious!

It was delicious. Along with our shwarma wraps (filled with hummus, pickles, lettuce, and beets) we had two drinks we’d never tried. I picked out a blood orange pomegranate juice blend, and he tried a sour cherry nectar drink.

The right is beef, the left is chicken.

The right is beef, the left is chicken.

I want to drink this every DAY!

I want to drink this every DAY!

Sour Cherry

For desert we were intrigued by these little donut hole-looking delights called galub jamun…

Gulab

…We did not like it as much as the rest. Mainly because it was too sweet and gooey.

Nevertheless it got me thinking of that silly little BBC show I had watched and how much the “idiot” didn’t want to try new things.  As I said, the entire time the show was going on I was whimpering because I’d give an arm and a leg to do what that man got to do, and he fought against trying new things like his life depended on it. That astounds me even thinking about it now.

This is why I’m WWOOFing in Ireland, to get a really deep and cultural experience. I don’t just want to jump from monument to monument like some people. I want to get in there and live like the people live, and eat what they eat… Though maybe not organs. Haggis in one thing I will probably politely turn away, except have a single bite just to say I’ve had it. I oftentimes have regrets about the things I didn’t do on my first trip out of the country to the South Pacific because I was too scared to. I wish I’d tried more foods, and been more open to the people I’d met. I sought to change that for all the other countries I’ve been to, and I still strive to improve on myself to this day.

My main reason for writing this is to encourage all travelers to stray off the beaten path. Try different areas of new countries. Lots of people go to Paris, why not try the countryside? Have a unique story of your own, and inspire others to try new things. This is probably where I should do a Robert Frost reference, but I feel that clinched is a little overused when it comes to this subject.

Plus I live in New England. I heard his poems my whole life.

I hope my message has come across to you. And I hope those of you who enjoy stories of leaving the average adventure behind will join me as I share my experiences with you while working in Ireland.

Until My Next Adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Ireland, On Traveling, Past Tides, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Japanese Delicacies

July of 2007, Boot Size 10/11

Konichiwa, watashi no namae wa Viviana Ayre.

Yes, I am a Japan nutter. Ever since I learned to hold a pair of chopsticks I have loved everything about Japan. The food, the culture, the fashion, and who can forget the television  shows?! My love for Japan is probably the largest aspect of my nerd-dom, challenged only by my steampunk tendencies. So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to be a student ambassador to Japan for a whole two weeks. I am being one hundred percent serious when I say I shook the house with my excitement.

My journey to Japan is to this day my favorite journey into the unknown. I grew mentally, emotionally, and in age (I spent my birthday partying it up in Tokyo). Yes, I’d watched more anime and read more manga than you could shake a stick at, but I am not one of the anime-freaks who think that if they just read Naruto they know exactly what Japan is like. No, I’ve been studying the culture and history since middle school, and I find their “alien way” of thinking one of the most fascinating aspects of human nature.

But, I digress. There was one aspect of this journey I know I would have a smaaaaaall issue with: the food. What is the main staple for the Japanese? That’s right, rice. But not far under that is fish.

I am not fond of fish.

I have no problem with the creatures themselves. They are wonderful for our environment and I love reef fish. But I personally do not look at a salmon and say “Yum!” It was not by choice; honestly I am all about health and since fish is good for you I actually am sad that I dislike devouring our fish-y friends. I’ve tried salmon, white fish, non-white fish, raw, cooked, and with different cooking methods. With my taste bud changing cycle, today I can have salmon once in a while and actually be satisfied orally. But back then, I still did not like fish. At all.

Now I knew this small dilemma in advance, and I was very nervous about it. I am hypoglycemic, and must eat a lot otherwise I get very shaky and often times get really cranky. To give you an idea of how extreme my needs are, I have to eat about every two hours unless I spend all day lazing around in bed. Needless to say I was a little worried about having to eat fish every day… and thus eating very little.

Thankfully this problem did not occur. I was actually surprised to find that we rarely HAD fish. Instead I was assaulted by different snacks, goodies, and traditional foods that in no way had to do with fish. But by far my favorite food was okanamiyaki.

For those of you who do not know, okonomiyaki is a popular and traditional meal commonly found in Hiroshima, Japan. It translates roughly to “pizza-pancake.”

Yep. Pizza. Pancake.

When I heard that we were going to be feasting on a pizza pancake I was intrigued and excited.  Our tour bus pulled up to a restaurant called “Three Three Three.”

Looks better in Japanese than how the translation sounds, neh?

After exiting our tour bus, we were taken in to see what I’d only seen in anime and manga. Our table consisted of a giant grill with a thin, half-foot-wide wooden platform to eat on. And on two plates were a giant mound of cabbage, pasta, and three strips of thick, delicious looking bacon. A small bowl contained what  looked and smelled like pancake batter.

What was I getting myself into?

After seating ourselves, it was time to learn how to cook our own meal. It’s quite simple, and I will share with you the basics in making okonomiyaki.
First, spread out a circular, thin amount of pancake batter and let it cook. Easy enough, neh?

Once the pancake flour base is cooked solid enough, add your massive mound of cabbage. On top is a drizzling of okonomiyaki sauce, which I won’t lie…. I had to go online to find out what was actually in it. The interwebs informed me that is is like a thicker, sweeter Worchester sauce (online recipes say you can make a homemade recipe, listed at the end of this post) All I knew at the time was that it delicious. (Tell us what’s in the sauce? I for one am curious xD) Then add the three pieces of bacon and a thin spread of the pancake batter drizzled on top. Cooking commences (okay well the batter was already cooking) as you take up your handy dandy flippers- which look like chisels- and flip the entire pile of delish over.

Flipped pizza-pancake 🙂

Once your bacon is cooking, it’s time for the noodles that you see in the video.  Merely slap those onto the grill, and you’re good to go.  After a few minutes, the meat and vegetable should be cooked, so use your spatulas to move it onto the noodles to make it easier to flip so it is facing right side up. Once the pile is moved, it’s egg frying time. Crack the egg, break the yolk, and let it cook.

When the egg is done cooking, shift the batter, cabbage, bacon, and pasta onto the egg, and flip the entire mass over so the egg is on top. Drizzle as much okonomayaki sauce as desired, slice into pieces with the spatula, and enjoy.

❤ The finished, delicious product ❤

Overall? Okonomiyaki is delicious even if you, like me, hate cabbage. The oddest assortment of ingredients has been transformed into a savory meal that is wholly Japanese.

Me. Eating the most delicious meal I had in Japan

Oh my goodness, this food was delicious. ❤

To clarify, what I had was Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki. There is another kind that is found in Osaka, which has similar ingredients but it is mixed together before being grilled, while mine is layered. This just means I need to return to Japan and try Osaka okonomiyaki.

Lesson of the story? Even if there is an ingredient or food that makes you nervous, always be willing to try something new. Especially when  you are in a completely new culture.

Until my next adventure,
Viviana Ayre
Homemade Okonomiyaki Sauce
Please note that I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this recipe that I magically produced from the internet, since I have not had the chance to try it for myself.
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 Tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. rice wine
1 tsp. soy sauce</>
Combine ingredients and cook in a pot/pan until warm and bubbly. 🙂

Categories: Japan, Past Tides | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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