Tag: Cooking class

Cooking Classes at CieCAS

Cooking Classes at CieCAS

For my birthday, Thorben got me cooking classes at CieCAS. CieCAS, or the Center of innovative and entrepreneurial Culinary Arts and Services, offers professional training courses for people working in F&B but also team building and small, private cooking classes. We did 3 evening classes and they were all super fun and tasty. Each time, it was just the 2 of us plus the awesome chefs Francois and Evo. The last one was yesterday and we just received the pictures, so here is all the yummy food we made.

Homemade Pasta and Sauces

For our first class, we made our own pasta. We made the dough by hand, put it through a pasta machine roughly 458 times and then cut half into tagliatelle and turned the other half into ravioli. It’s quite a process, but really fun and rewarding.

To go with it, we made 4 different sauces: tomato, vegan Bolognese, meat Bolognese and mushroom & cream. All of them were delicious. After 3 hours of work, we got to sit down in their dining room and got served all the food we made. Well, not really all of it. We got to take the rest home and in fact made so much that after eating pasta twice, we still have some in the freezer 🙂

I have since used some of the tricks we learned to make the best tomato sauce I have ever made, so it was definitely worth it. Now all we need is a pasta machine …

Vegetarian and Vegan Superfoods

Our second night was all about meatless cooking and using some superfoods. We made a total of 4 courses: a foamed potato and leek soup, stuffed mushrooms over mini ratatouille, risotto with spirulina and berry muffins on acai sauce with ice cream.

The soup was quite heavy on the butter and cream because we put it into one of those things you use cartridges of nitrogen to foam things. My mom has one at home for making whipped cream and now I learned it can also be used on soup that has enough fat content 🙂

For the mushrooms we used Z-Rou, a plant-based meat alternative. Not quite the real deal but pretty tasty. I have since seen Z-Rou on 2 restaurant menus, looks like it’s gaining popularity. The mini ratatouille worked well with it and Thorben got to show of his chopping skills, which are much better than his flipping things in the pan with his wrist skills 😉

Our main dish, the risotto, was completely vegan, using spirulina for a seafood taste and nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor. I may look sceptical in the picture, but it was really tasty! Important lesson from the cooking classes so far: White wine goes inside everything! Soup, sauces, ratatouille, risotto – just add wine!

The berry muffins made with almond and coconut flour, soy milk and coconut oil with acai sauce were also vegan – but the ice cream wasn’t 🙂

Another great meal plus we got leftover soup, ratatouille and muffins to take home.

Southeast Asian Food

Our last cooking class had the theme Southeast Asia. We were already greeted with a green papaya salad as a snack and a cold cut platter – not southeast Asian but still delicious. After some snacking (and wine) we got to work. First, we made a chicken marinade and peanut sauce for the starter. I love peanut sauce and I was surprised how many ingredients are inside. The result was amazing. We also got started on cooking the glutinous rice for the sticky rice with mango, my favorite Thai dessert. Next was the sauce for the Pad Thai and preparations for the fried rice. Thorben braved the wok station to fry up the rice and noodles, while I stuck to less fiery tasks like decorating plates, grilling the satay and dishing up the desserts. As always, the food was great, both last night and for lunch today 🙂

It was a really fun and tasty birthday present. In fact, we enjoyed the evenings so much, we may just make it a monthly thing!

Incredible India – Part II

Incredible India – Part II

After Agra, I thought, that we’d already done the best part and did not expect too much else. While seeing the Taj Mahal and enjoying the Baby Taj in the sunshine was definitely one of my highlights, India had a lot more incredible things in store that blew me away.

So here is the rest of the trip:

Day 4: Fatehpur Sikri, Abhaneri and a Night of Camping

Our next destination was Dhula Village to experience the rural life in India. On the way there we stopped in 2 places to do some more sightseeing.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a town 40 km away from Agra. It was once the capital of the Mughal Empire for a few years. We went to see the beautiful red sandstone fort, which was built in the 16th century.

Abhaneri

There were three reasons for us to stop in Abhaneri: Lunch, the Chand Baori step well and the Harshat Mata Temple. All three things made for a really worthwhile stop 🙂

Chand Baori Stepwell

The stepwell was another surprise of the trip. I couldn’t really picture anything when Mo started explaining about stepwells and how people used to collect water from it. There are many across the state of Rajasthan and we were told this is one of the biggest and most beautiful ones. It’s almost 20 meter deep and definitely something to look at.

Harshat Mata Temple

The Harshat Mata Temple is a small Hindu temple with lots of beautiful stone carvings. We saw a really cute puppy on the way there which distracted us all a bit. Nevertheless, the temple itself was very pretty and the sight of one of my favorite pictures from the trip – an epic photobomb from my fellow travelers 🙂

Dhula Village Camping

We arrived at our campground around sunset and if I ever camp again, this is definitely the way to do it. The “tents” were like little hotel rooms with individual bathrooms and the whole grounds were really beautiful. Just a really peaceful spot, perfect for an evening around a bonfire and storytelling – which is exactly what we did.

Day 5: Dhula Village Bike Ride, Jaipur City Palace & an Indian Cooking Class

Village Bike Ride

The next morning started bright and early with a 7 am bike ride across fields and through the village. We saw a few peacocks, an owl, beautiful ruins of some sort and in the end stopped at our guide’s house for some chai. While I’m not a fan of biking (or waking up early) it was really worth it.

Jaipur City Palace

After enjoying the more quiet rural life, our next stop was another big city: Jaipur, also known as the pink city. Our first stop there was the City Palace, another, I know I’m overusing the word, beautiful place.

Cooking with a Local Family

Part of our group went straight from the palace to our next optional activity: A cooking class with an Indian family. We got to know a lot about Indian spices, had masala chai, and then helped to make vegetable biryani, Shahi paneer and some other yummy dishes I’ve since forgotten the name of.

Streets of Jaipur

After a crazy tuk tuk ride back to our hotel, Mo took us for a walk around Jaipur. It was really interesting and such a contrast to the forts and palaces: Basically, spices, tuk tuks, food stands, noise, craziness, crowds, and lots of hustle and bustle everywhere. Our night ended on a beautiful rooftop restaurant.

Day 6: Discovering Jaipur and Bollywood Dancing

The next morning, we ventured out for more sightseeing. First up was at the Palace of the Wind, or the facade of it to be precise. It was just a short photo stop but a really pretty one.

Amber Fort

The big sight of the day was the Amber Fort, another one of places that blew me away. It was simply stunning with so much to see … and we got lucky with the weather once again and got to enjoy it with lots of sunshine. Instead of writing more about it, I’ll just upload lots of pictures. As always, I took way too many.

On our way back, we made another photo stop, this time at the Water Palace, which is in the middle of a lake.

Bollywood Dancing

To get the full India experience, Mo set up an hour long Bollywood Dance class for us in the afternoon, and it was so much fun. We learned a minute long choreography which we videoed at the end. So far, watching it has not failed to make me laugh 🙂 Here is a poor resolution screenshot compilation:

Day 7: Bike Tour through Jaipur and back to Delhi

Jaipur Morning Bike Tour

The next morning was another really early wake up call because our Jaipur bike tour started at 6:30 am. It was a pretty wild tour. We fed cows, had chai, saw the Albert Hall Museum at sunrise, went to a flower market, joined the morning chanting at a temple and then a sort of laughing yoga circle in a park, ate pakoras and drank fresh lassis … and all of that in the span of 3 hours. Definitely a different and very cool way to experience more of Jaipur!

Back to Delhi

Sadly, it was time to head back to Delhi after that for a final farewell dinner with the group. The next day, it was time to say goodbye to India and I flew back to Shanghai.

Looking back, it’s amazing how much we got to see and experience in only a week. Truly, an incredible trip with so many great memories. Shout out to the fantastic G Adventures travel crew and our guide Mo! You made this trip so fun and interesting, and so much better than I could have hoped for!

And a special thank you to Emma, Karen and Catherine for all the laughs and being my Instagram girlfriends 🙂

Our Cambodia trip: Exploring the Angkor temples

Our Cambodia trip: Exploring the Angkor temples

As promised, here is the full run down of our time in Cambodia.

I’ll start by saying it again: We finally did it! We saw the beautiful temples of Angkor. It was amazing. It’s been on my bucket list for a long time but somehow it never worked out during my Asia travels. Warning: Long post with lots of pictures ahead.

According to the internet the best travel time aka dry season is from November to March. I booked our flights, hotel and a 2 days of temple touring with a driver and guide back in July. There are lots of tour operators so I went with one out of TripAdvisor’s Top 10: Happy Angkor Tour. I opted for their tour “to avoid crowds”, which meant that we visited some smaller, less busy temples and tried to go to the really famous and popular ones at not so busy times. It worked out pretty well for the most part 🙂 Our guide was also a fan of panoramas and cheesy tourist photos, so there are some good ones in there.

Day One

The itinerary: Angkor Wat, Ta Promh, Ta Nei, Angkor Thom incl. Bayon, Sunset at Phnom Bakhen

Angkor Wat is the most famous one and really big, with lots of detailed carvings and different layers but unfortunately also lots of people. We had to queue for almost half an hour to be able to climb to the top. The Tomb Raider temple Ta Promh was also great, I love how the trees grew over the temple, almost like someone forgot about them for several hundred years 😉 At Angkor Thom we mostly focused on Bayon, the temple with the big faces.

However, my favorite temple of the first day was Ta Nei. It’s reachable only by a dirt road which goes through the jungle and when we arrived we were the only tourists. During the whole time there we only saw a couple of people. It kind of felt like we were the first people discovering it and the atmosphere was really cool.

Day Two

The itinerary: Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, Neak Poan, Ta Som, East Mebon, Banteay Srei (Lady Temple), Banteay Samre, Pre Rup, Banteay Kdei, Krovan

The second day was really great because we saw such a variety of temples. All of them were beautiful in different ways but I think my favorite that day was Preah Khan. Maybe that’s because we got there before 8 and had it almost to ourselves and walking there through the jungle gave me that explorer feeling again 🙂

Overall, I’m really happy with the way we saw the temples. We hit the big, famous ones but also saw some hidden gems. Having a guide and an air conditioned car, cold water and washcloths was very worth it. Especially because of the cold wet washcloths 🙂

Other Cambodian activities: Pool and cooking class

We stayed at the Hillocks Hotel & Spa in Siem Reap for 5 nights, which gave us 4 full days. The two days when we didn’t tour the temples, we spent hanging out by the pool and relaxing. After all the busy city trips we took this year and the everyday craziness of Shanghai it was nice to do nothing for a bit.

To not get too lazy we signed up for a cooking class which our hotel offered. Contrary to the description there wasn’t much activity involved. First we went to the market which was more of a sightseeing trip, because they had already bought all the ingredients. It was similar to the wet markets we’ve seen in China. Then they sent us back to our room to relax and when we showed up again at the announced cooking time, all the prep work had already been done. No peeling, cutting, curry paste or dressing making for us, we just got to mix, heat and stir a bit. While we didn’t really learn much, the 4 course lunch was delicious: We had green mango salad, sour soup with shredded chicken, Fish Amok (Cambodian fish curry) and banana tapioca sago.