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  • Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary

    Los Angeles is often deemed the cultural hub of the Pacific Rim. Its inhabitants speak more than 224 recorded languages,  so it’s no surprise that restaurants in and around the area reflect this diversity.

    Growing up, I unknowingly ate quite a few Croatian dishes. These were recipes that were passed down and that were just things my dad made when he was in charge of dinner – sausages, cabbage rolls, homemade bread, the works. 

    As I grew older, I also grew more curious about the foods he viewed as “comfort foods”. My dad is a great cook, but I also wanted to try these foods (and more of them). 

    I took to Yelp and began my search for Croatian restaurants in Southern California. 

    The results, however, weren’t necessarily Croatian, but Bosnian. 

    Thankfully, many of the traditional foods in Croatia are also common in Bosnia, so they have many menu items in common. 

    Here are the two restaurants that made the top of my list:

    Sofra Urbana | Fountain Valley, CA

    You’ll find Sofra Urbana tucked into an unassuming shopping plaza in Foutain Valley. It’s a small, but cozy restaurant with charming decor and a friendly staff. 

    They serve both Italian and Bosnian food and at first glance, might appear to be just another pizza and wings joint. But it is so much more. 

    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste

    To start, in addition to popular pizza dishes such as sausage or barbecue chicken, they have the restaurant’s namesake, the “Sofra Urbana”. It’s a delectable blend of mozzarella, mushrooms, arugula, bresaola, truffle oil, and shaved parmesan served upon a pizza crust that was baked to perfection. This item alone is worth coming for, but because we were there for the more traditional items, we also decided to sample a few other foods.

    The ćevapi, ground beef sausages, is served with a small cup of kajmak and another of ajvar. These, spread across the mouth-watering lepinje followed by a light sprinkling of freshly cut onion, results in one of the tastiest sandwiches designed to share, but easy to easy to keep for oneself. 

    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste

    Other traditional dishes include:

    • Burek – Sofra Urbana offers meat, cheese, spinach or potato burek served with their version of tzatziki 
    • Shopska salad – a mix of tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, green olives, feta cheese, roasted red bell pepper, canola oil, salt and pepper
    • Cockta – a Slovenian soda

    Sofra Urbana
    17098 Magnolia St
    Fountain Valley, CA 92708
    Open 11am – 9pm

    Aroma Café | Los Angeles, California

    Aroma Café is another excellent Bosnian restaurant, set apart by its adorable grocery inside. While there, I was able to stock up on Croatian/Bosnian goodies AND feast on a tasty lunch. Plus, I couldn’t help but bring home a few sandwiches for dinner that night (they were wrapped up well and tasted amazing even after being reheated).

    Here too, the ćevapi is a classic and absolute must. Their housemade lepinje is outstanding, though a touch of ajmak was certainly missed.

    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste

    Since we went with cheese burek at our first stop, we decided to indulge in spinach burek here. It was delightful and Little Linguist voted it 10 out of 10.

    Served with fresh pita and a yogurt dip, you can order either stuffed cabbage rolls or pita, but our server was awesome and brought us a mixed plate so we could try both. It was hard to choose a winner, but after a vigorous taste test, I can confidently recommend the stuffed grape leaves as the victor.

    Finally, my favorite and the star of the menu. Those sandwiches I took home? Those were both the Aroma sandwich. A mix of cheese, pita, beef prosciutto and bell pepper. I could honestly eat it every day. 

    And of course, I can’t forget the Turkish coffee! Served at the perfect temperature and with a piece of Turkish delight. It was an enjoyable way to end the meal.

    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste
    Where to Find Croatian Food in Southern California + Croatian Food Vocabulary | Eurolinguiste

    Other traditional dishes served here include:

    • Grilled peppers or grilled feta cheese – marinated in garlic and olive oil
    • Shopska salad – here it’s served over a bed of lettuce with tomato, cucumber, red onion, bell pepper, and feta
    • Bosanka lonac – slow-cooked vegetables served in a chunky beef stew
    • Pljeskavica – a beef patty served on housemade pita

    Aroma Café
    2530 Overland Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90064
    Open 11am-10pm

    Croatian Food Vocabulary

    While we’re on the topic of Croatian food, I thought it would be fun to introduce a few useful vocabulary words on the topic. Here are a dishes and menu items you may find useful.

    Foods/Dishes in Croatian

    • Burek | a phyllo dough pastry stuffed with cheese, spinach, beef, or potatoes
    • Janjetina | roasted lamb
    • Zagrebački odrezak | veal breaded and fried, stuffed with ham and cheese
    • Lignje | squid
    • Crni rižot | black risotto
    • Brodet | fish stew
    • Grah i zelje | bean stew with sauerkraut
    • Riblji paprikaš | spicy fish stew
    • Žganci | cornmeal dish
    • Štrukli | stuffed pastry
    • Punjena paprika | peppers stuffed with minced meat
    • Lepinje | flat bread

    Cooking Styles in Croatian

    • S roštilja | roasted on a grill
    • S ražnja | roasted on a spit
    • Pečeno | roasted
    • Prženo | fried
    • Pod pekom | cooked on a stone while covered with a metal lid and hot coals
    • Na lešo | boiled 

    Croatian Cooking Ingredients

    • Maslinovo ulje | Croatian olive oil
    • Paški sir | sheep cheese
    • Kupus | cabbage
    • Češnjak | garlic
    • Ajvar | a spicy eggplant spread
    • Pekmez od šljiva | plum jam
    • Dimljena paprika | smoked paprika
    • Kajenski papar | cayenne pepper
    • Med cvjetni | flower honey

    What about you?

    Have you tried Croatian (or Bosnian) food? What did you like most?

    What restaurants in your area feature delicious foods from far away places?

    June 14, 2018 • Culture & Cuisine • Views: 86

  • THE 626 NIGHT MARKET & OC NIGHT MARKET | THINGS TO DO IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

    After navigating my way to Wangfujing in Beijing, China, I was greeted with the bustle of hungry bodies, navigating their way through the food stalls that made up this night market. As I made my way down the street, my senses were bombarded with smells, sights, and sounds that were all new. I was hooked. 

    I enjoyed the evening sampling tasty foods and drinks, always curious about the items I didn’t try. I knew that the night market was something I’d miss upon my return to the US.

    But then I discovered the 626 Night Market and it’s smaller, newer counterpart, the OC Night Market. And while they aren’t exactly the same, they’re a close substitute. An evening browsing the stalls certainly leaves me feeling nostalgic.

    The OC Night Market

    Hosted at the Orange County Fairgrounds in the OC Night Market, a newer “taste” of it’s bigger sibling, the 626 Night Market. The vendors feature an assortment of Asian fusion cuisine, milk teas, fresh juice, and even beer. But there’s also a selection of the standard fair fare – there’s always a place for funnel cake.

    I came hungry and left more than full. I sampled everything from my long missed jianbing, Asian-style hotdogs, milk tea and ramen. Kirin served free beer slushies in a tasting cup to cool you down in the summer heat, and as we sat down to consume our findings, I chatted with exchange students from China who shared our table.

    After exploring the food vendors in the outdoor area, we made our way indoors where an assortment of craft vendors sold their wares. There was everything from paintings to stuffed animals, jewelry to trinkets. 

    It was an interesting experience but didn’t quite prepare me for the intensity, size, and crowd at the 626 Night Market.

    Learn More About the OC Night Market.

    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    The 626 Night Market 

    The 626 Night Market is enormous compared to the OC Night Market. Many of the same vendors participate in both events, but the diversity and food selection available at 626 in Arcadia is almost overwhelming. 

    We arrived early to ensure we’d find a parking spot — we left at 9pm and it took us almost an hour to get out of the parking lot! The crowds hadn’t yet arrived (they came following the sunset), so we were able to circle around through the food vendors a couple times before deciding what we wanted, hoping that we wouldn’t miss any of the best items. 

    I ordered a Vietnamese coffee while we considered our options and tried not to drink it too quickly (it was really good!).  

    My friend and I first opted for the garlic crab fries and barbecue squid. Both were delicious and left us almost too full to try anything else. We walked some more while we digested, then decided to share a waffle filled with mochi. 

    We continued to wander and discovered a couple of places that sold pandan cakes and cupcakes, so I bought a few for later – pandan is my weakness! Then headed over to the art vendors where I bought Little Linguist the most adorable toy lion.

    Learn more about the 626 Night Market.

    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    The 626 Night Market & OC Night Market | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    There is now also a NorCal Market for those in Northern California, but I haven’t yet made it out to compare it to the two that are closer to me here in Southern California. Between the two, I highly recommend the 626 Night Market, but both are interesting events and I’m sure they’ll continue to grow. Either way, they are certainly a summer staple for me!

    What about you?

    Do you have any night markets in your area? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

    May 17, 2018 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 32

  • Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel

    While I always enjoy traveling abroad whenever and wherever I can, I’ve learned that you don’t always need to pop on a plane to have an adventure.

    Becoming a parent has forced me to get more creative in my explorations, and I’ve started looking closer to home for fun things to do. Especially if they mean Little Linguist can tag along.

    And while the events are more grown up-oriented, I’ve found the Ritz Carlton Food & Wine Experiences to be the perfect evening escape. They’re an excellent way to do a little culinary exploration. Plus, I certainly can’t complain about the view.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel

    This past summer, the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel hosted several dinners where handcrafted cocktails, distinctive wines, and seasonal cuisines. The first we attended was the “Italian Seafood Celebration” where we were introduced to a variety of cheese, Italian wines, and indulged in several beautifully prepared meals. Towards the end of the summer, we also made it out for the “Taste of Baja Experience” that focused less on food and more on the 15+ boutique wineries from Mexico.

    The two events – as far as food and setting – differed dramatically, but the quality of the ambiance and presentation certainly earned high marks across the board.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    Italian Seafood Celebration

    A brief walk through the resort and down to the Dana Lawn leads you to a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean and beautifully arranged tables reminiscent of outdoor, French-style family meals. The chef, Brian Sundeen, and his team are setup at the heart of things, preparing food and answering questions in an almost cooking class-style setting.

    With a glass of Prosecco in hand, we meandered over to the cheese table where Marin French cheese a selection of soft cheeses and artisan breads do more than tempt the palate. After selecting a plateful of fromages we made our way towards the tables where we claimed our seats, appreciating the view and conversation with those around us.

    Before the staff set out serving the various dishes, Chef Sundeen made an announcement sharing a little of the process behind their creation. A team made the rounds, pouring a generous glass of chardonnay (Tomaresca, Puglia, Italy) and then the feast began.

    The first course featured a selection of four items: tomato burrata salad; a Hamachi crudo topped with jalapeno that just melted in your mouth; grilled asparagus salad with prosciutto; and finally, compressed watermelon with kale, feta cheese, candied walnuts and a balsamic reduction. Each of the dishes was brought to our table and passed around from guest to guest. If anything ran out, someone was quick to bring another plate and the challenge quickly became a matter of trying a little of everything without filling up before the entrees and dessert.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste


    Wine glasses drained, we were then served a red – Primitivo from Tormaresca, again. Another announcement from the chef signaled a new round of dishes brought out to the tables. The onslaught of entrees included: grilled rack of lamb with corn relish; smoked potato gnocchi; basil crusted halibut; seared scallops, smoked bone marrow butter garlic bread; and a grilled vegetable salad.

    As the sun set, I made a brief escape to the end of the lawn where I watched a collision of colours take over the view. I snapped a few photos, then sauntered back for dessert. Thankfully I didn’t have to choose between the coconut meringue roulade, the manjari chocolate brioche pudding or the crème fraiche cheesecake. The servings were generous enough that we could each relish all three completed by a glass of Luxardo Amaro as the evening drew to a close.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    As the sun set, I made a brief escape to the end of the lawn where I watched a collision of colours take over the view. I snapped a few photos, then sauntered back for dessert. Thankfully I didn’t have to choose between the coconut meringue roulade, the manjari chocolate brioche pudding or the crème fraiche cheesecake. The servings were generous enough that we could each relish all three completed by a glass of Luxardo Amaro as the evening drew to a close.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste/

    A Taste of Baja

    While the focus of the first experience was on the food, the center of attention at this event was without a doubt, the wine.

    A Taste of Baja moved us from the Dana to the Pacific Promenade Lawn where we had an equally exquisite view of the sea, but a more intimate backdrop. Between the buildings that pressed us together from one side, stringed-lights crisscrossed overhead.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    With only a few standing tables, this second event encouraged us to roam from wine vendor to wine vendor, tapas booth to tapas booth in a seemingly unending experiment in pairings. This wine with fresh shrimp tacos, that with chicken mole.

    The setting for this second event, in all honesty, was overwhelming. While the Ritz Carlton did their best to arrange the wine and food options in a convenient way, I felt that having to navigate my way through them all without a place to really sit down and enjoy everything wasn’t as fulfilling of an experience as the first evening.

    That’s not to say, of course, that the wine and food wasn’t outstanding. It was. But I did feel a certain fear of missing out, constantly rushing to occupy a briefly open place at a standing table or moving aside to stand at the edge of the venue, trying to balance a glass of wine, a plate and sometimes silverware.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    The menu showcased aguachile mixto (a ceviche of sorts), tostadas de carnitas, shrimp tacos, chicken mole with Spanish rice, roasted New York strip steak with mashed potatoes, and churros with dulce de leche and ice cream. More than fifteen wineries were highlighted at the event – each offering anywhere from one to four or even five selections. We settled on the Cavas Valmar Tempranillo (2015) as our preferred selection and were able to bring a bottle home.

    It was an elegant and decently arranged event, but the Italian-themed evening absolutely stood out as the preeminent occasion. Overall highly-recommended as a memorable way to experience cuisines and wines from other places in a local setting.

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    Italian Seafood Celebration Full Menu

    First Course
    Tomato Burrata Salad, Grilled Stone Fruit
    Hamachi Crudo
    Grilled Asparagus Salad, Prosciutto
    Compressed Watermelon, Kale, Living Mache, Feta Cheese
    Candied Walnuts, Balsamic Reduction
    Tormaresca, Chardonnay, Puglia, Italy

    Entrée
    Grilled Rack of Lamb, Corn Relish
    Smoked Potato Gnocchi, Fava Bean Puree, Porchinis,
    Brown Butter, Summer Truffles
    Basil Crusted Halibut, Tomato Stew
    Seared Scallops, Housemade Pappardelle Pasta, Asparagus
    Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic White Wine Sauce
    Garlic Bread, Smoked Bone Marrow Butter, Caper Salsa Verde
    Grilled Vegetable Salad, Chives and Thyme
    Tormaresca, Primitivo, Puglia, Italy

    Dessert
    Coconut Meringue Roulade, Harry’s Berries Compote
    Manjari Chocolate Brioche Pudding, Vanilla Bean Anglaise
    Crème Fraiche Cheesecake, Passion Fruit Chantilly
    Luxardo, Amaro

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    A Taste of Baja Full Menu

    Savory Stations
    Aguachile Mixto
    Tostadas de Carnitas
    Crispy Piloncillo Shrimp Tacos, Pickled Chayote Slaw
    Grilled Chicken Mole, Spanish Rice, Cotija Cheese, Toasted Sesame
    Roasted New York Strip, Oaxaca Mashed Potato, Pickled Onion Ancho Demi
    Warm Cinnamon Sugar Churros, Dulce de Leche, Assorted Ice Creams

    Wineries From Baja, Mexico
    Bodegas Henri Lurton
    D’Poncelis
    Corona del Valle
    Fluxus
    La Trinidad
    Madera 5
    Vinas de la Erre
    Vinedos Malagon
    VinSur
    Alximia
    Bodegas Marilena
    Cavas Valmar
    El Cielo
    Legado Sais
    Moebius
    Relieve
    Valle de Tintos

    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    Food & Wine Experiences at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel | Things to Do In Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
    One Ritz-Carlton Drive
    Dana Point, California 92629 United States
    1 (949) 240-2000
    $95 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity

    October 12, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 24

  • French Cuisine at Bouchon | Things to Do In & Around Las Vegas

    In French, Bouchon means “cork” or “plug”, but in Las Vegas, Nevada, it’s the French brasserie tucked away behind the reception desk at The Venetian.

    On my last trip out to the city, I had a little bit of time to myself and decided to stop in for a late breakfast before my schedule took over my day. After browsing the menu, I ordered more food than I could eat, but it allowed me the experience of tasting a nice selection of items (plus it meant I had something delicious to snack on later).

    A quick wander down a long hallway of marble and floor-to-ceiling windows brings you to the entrance of the restaurant, styled like many of the brasseries I’ve come to know and love in Paris.

    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste
    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste
    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste

    Beautiful stained wood paneling, a lengthy and mirrored bar, and a gorgeous patio greet you as you step into Bouchon. Because of the odd timing on my arrival (long after breakfast, but enough before lunch), I was whisked away immediately to a table outside where I could admire the gazebo and the then unoccupied pool.

    Glancing over the menu, I knew decided what I’d order would be a tough choice. Brioche French Toast with Blueberry Compote & Crown Maple Syrup or Sourdough Waffles with Caramelized Bananas? Foie Gras de Canard with a Toasted Baguette or a salad with warmed goat cheese?

    Finally, something caught my eye – merguez. A delicious sausage that I had until that moment only found and enjoyed in France with family as a part of home-cooked meals. Wistfulness filled me, my mouth beginning to water, and I knew I had made my decision. The Hachis de Merguez, house-made merguez sausage hash served with two eggs any style and whole wheat toast, along with the Beignets du Jour would be my order.

    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste

    As I waited for the food, I browsed the drink menu and faced another tough decision, but I went with a glass of champagne with cassis to get the full back-home-in-France feel to the meal.

    The food came and the merguez has was incredible. I savoured every morsel, aiming to get the best egg/has ratio with every bite. It was looking like it was all set to be an incredible food experience.

    But then, realizing my drink still hadn’t arrived, I slowed down and waited. The bartender, apparently, was swamped and so my drink was delayed. My drink finally arrived, so I snapped a few photos of the complete meal. Then I reached for a beignet and came away disappointed. It wasn’t the light, powdery flavor I expected. Instead, the beignets were more similar to a spiced donut in both taste and texture and less similar to the fluffy, lightness I normally associated with the treat.

    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste
    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste
    French Cuisine at Bouchon at the Venetian in Las Vegas | Eurolinguiste

    Overall, I would still rate my experience at Bouchon 4 out of 5 stars. The waiter was amiable, the merguez incredible, and my drink refreshing.

    What about you?

    What restaurants have you visited in your travels?

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

    Bouchon Bistro at The Venetian
    3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard
    Las Vegas, NV 89109
    (702) 414-6200      

    October 5, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 27

  • Discovering Montréal’s History and Craft Beer Culture with the Montréal Brewpub Experience

    Experiencing local culture is an incredible way to fall in love with a place and its people. When you do that with someone who has insider knowledge and a vast expertise, that feeling of falling love with the city is inevitable. Especially when food is involved.

    With an afternoon to spare, I decided to try out the Montréal Brewpub Experience. Accompanied by a well-researched and passionate tour guide (about both beers and the city), a selection of craft beers, and mouthwatering appetizers, it was a fantastic introduction to Montréal.

    About the Montréal Brewpub Experience

    The Montréal Brewpub experience is one of several tours offered by Montreal Craft Beer Tours.

    As a part of the 3-hour journey, you have the chance to enjoy 6 craft beer tasting, local food, and the ambiance of three brewpubs (pubs that brew their own beers). Each of the beers is found solely in Montréal, a thriving environment for craft beer brewers.

    Founded by Frédérik Nissen and Ismael Ulvik, the Montreal Craft Beer Tour was originally under the umbrella of Local Montréal Tours. It has since grown into its own and was even awarded with a grand prize from Tourism Montreal in 2013.

    The Tour

    As you make your way from one pub to the next, your tour guide offers a little insight into the history of Montréal. You’re introduced to the library and university life in Montréal – particularly as the pubs are lively with local university students. You also stroll through the former Red-Light District as you learn about Machine Gun Molly. But it doesn’t end there. You’re also shown where the the Montréal Jazz Festival and other music events are hosted.

    En route to each pub, you get glimpses of historic buildings, parks, various attractions, and the beautiful designs of the homes in the city. The tour takes place come rain or shine and you cover a distance of approximately 1.3 miles.

    The Beer

    On the Montreal Brewpub Tour, you do more than just drink beer – you experience it. Our guide shared a behind the scenes look at the process that goes into crafting a beer, the histories behind the different brews in Montréal, and the characteristics you look for in a high quality beer.

    You have the chance to smell and taste the ingredients, meet visitors and the locals alike, as well as try a variety of beers – everything from Hefeweizen to an IPA and a Stout.

    At each Brewpub, you have the chance to savour two drinks. Brasserie St-Bock served two seasonal craft beers. The first is a fruity beverage traditionally brewed in the summer. It had hints of guava and passionfruit that added to the sweetness of the beer. We wrapped up with a malt roasted seasonal selection paired with poutine. It was fascinating hearing about the history of these two selections and set the tone for the duration of the tour.

    L’amère à Boire served a German-style Hefeweizen that was unique in character. Personally, I wasn’t a fan (and I typically enjoy Hefeweizen’s). But the second selection redeemed the first. We ended with a Czech beer that not only had a nice feel to it, but it perfectly suited the outdoor patio where our tour had collected at this stop.

    The third pub, Benelux, greeted us with both bold flavours and energy. After being shuffled towards reserved tables at the back of the restaurant, we were immediately served with an IPA before closing out with an Imperial Stout.

    Our guide did an incredible job teaching us how to properly taste the various beers, but the tour ensures that you are equipped with the knowledge necessary to become a more informed beer drinker at home. In addition to a guide on local venues and the best beers for each location, the booklet for the tour includes information on not just beer tasting but beer and cheese tasting. You’re shown what to look for in both beers and cheeses – appearance, aroma, mouthfeel, flavour, and finish. It makes for an incredible learning experience.

    The Food

    At the first stop, you’re served a small plate of the local delicacy – poutine. Brasserie St. Bock serves the dish with a Westmalle Double beer gravy and cheese curds. It was rich and delicious and paired nicely with the malt roasted brew. The curds were the perfect texture and the serving the perfect size.

    The second stop, L’amère à Boire, serves chips with a tzaziki style dip, a cube of cheese and beef gravlax wrapped around a fruit confit. When I heard what gravlax was, I must admit, I was tentative to try it. But the bite was small so I figured, “why not?” The sweet and salty blend did not disappoint.

    Finally, the food portion of the tour wraps up with an assortment of chocolates at Benelux. The secret, we were told, was to divide the chocolates in half so that you could enjoy each beer along with the different textures and flavours of chocolate.

    To Sum Up

    Montreal Craft Beer Tours is an excellent way to get a taste of the local food and drinks, learn a bit about food and beer pairings, and discover Montréal. You gain insight into not only the craft beer trends and processes in Montréal, but into the city’s rich history. It’s educational and a lovely way to discover both the local food and culture.

    In total, you have around two pints of beer as a part of the tour. Prices at the time of writing are $64CAD + tax.

    For more information please visit Montreal Craft Beer Tours.

    Please note: I was given a place on the tour in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own. I do not earn a commission if you decide to book a tour with them on your visit to Montréal.

    September 14, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 36

  • Sushi Wazen | Delicious Sushi in South Orange County

    You know those restaurants that are ‘in the neighborhood’, those that you pass by endlessly without ever realizing the incredible experience that awaits you just within their doors?

    I often spend so much time trying to find places that I can travel to and try out that I forget to look at what right there in front of me.

    Sushi Wazen is one of those places.

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    The restaurant is owned by a mother and her two sons, and they not only make incredible food, but are kind people that make your visit to their establishment enjoyable.

    They have several items on their menu I don’t see at other local sushi restaurants – duck, vegetable tempura (that includes vegetables beyond the standard potato, squash, carrot), and a special rice dish.

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    The prices are reasonable and there’s plenty to choose from – even M, who doesn’t like sushi, has items on the menu that he enjoys.

    Their daily specials are written in Japanese and taped to the walls, so I get a bit of practice reading Kanji and checking my accuracy with the sushi chef, Nobu. I appreciate his patience with me as I learn new vocabulary!

    It’s definitely a new favorite for us in the area.

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    Sushi Wazen
    22641 Lake Forest Dr
    Lake Forest, CA 92630

    Open for Lunch & Dinner Tuesday – Saturday
    Open for Dinner Sunday

    July 13, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine • Views: 24

  • Sweet & Spicy Tofu Recipe

    Tofu seems to be one of those foods that people either love or hate. I have always fallen on the love side of the line, but M has never been a fan.

    Preparing two separate dishes was always a pain, so I’ve made efforts to find recipes for tofu that he’d enjoy as well.

    Sweet & Spicy Tofu Recipe | Eurolinguiste

    And I finally found a winner.

    Pulling together ingredients I happened to have on hand – yay for fridge raid meals – I was able to put together an adaptation of the Honey Sriracha Tofu recipe on Pickled Plum.

    It’s delicious, M loved it and is officially a convert, and I now make this dish about once a week. It’s quick and easy to make and definitely a favorite.

    Sweet & Spicy Tofu Recipe | Eurolinguiste
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    Sweet & Spicy Tofu

    A delicious spicy tofu dish with a touch a sweet.
    Author: Shannon Kennedy

    Notes

    1 block, firm tofu (about 14 oz)
    3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 1 tbsp garlic paste
    2 tbsp Korean pepper paste Gochujang
    1 tbsp Hot Mama Sauce or soy sauce
    1 tbsp honey
    1 tbsp rice vinegar
    flour to coat tofu
    2 tbsp sesame oil
    Sesame seeds, garnish
    Diced green onion, garnish
    Drain the tofu, then wrap it in a paper towel to remove excess water. Set aside and re-wrap if paper towel becomes too damp while you prepare sauce.
    Combine garlic, pepper sauce, hot mama (or soy) sauce, honey and rice vinegar in a bowl and set aside.
    Cut tofu into triangles about 1/2 in. thick. Lightly coat tofu with flour on all sides.
    Use a medium-sized pan and add oil, turning heat to high. When oil becomes hot, add in tofu (being careful of splashing). Fry on each side until you see a small crust form on bottom of tofu, about 2-3 minutes. Cooked sides of tofus should be golden brown.
    Add sauce to pan, mix lightly to coat tofu cubes. Continue to cook for about 3 minutes.
    Serve. Add sesame seeds and green onion to taste.
    Hot Mama Sauce is a bottle of soy sauce to which I’ve added diced Thai chili peppers. I then let the bottle sit for at least one week before I start using the sauce.
    Adapted from Pickled Plum.

    April 13, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine • Views: 50

  • A TOUR OF THE JAMESON WHISKEY DISTILLERY | THINGS TO DO IN & AROUND DUBLIN, IRELAND

    A short while back, I wrote about my trip to the Guinness Storehouse, and today I’d like to share a bit about a similar, yet entirely different, tour in Dublin, Ireland.

    The Bow Street Distillery in Dublin is one of two Jameson locations that are open to the public and it was one of the most informative tours that I’ve done.

    You start with a guided tour that details the process of making whiskey and we learnt tons of interesting facts about the barrels that are used and how they affect the taste of the whisky. The tour groups are small, so you’re able to ask your guide as many questions as you like and it’s quite fun and interactive.

    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste
    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste
    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste

    After the guided tour, you’re brought into a room where you get to taste Jameson mixed with either Coke or Ginger Ale and a few of those in the group are selected to do a blind tasting where they need to identify where each of several whiskeys originates. 

    You’re then free to wander the shops and do as you please. 

    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste
    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste

    John Jameson and Son Irish Whiskey was founded in 1810 when John Jameson and his son took possession of the Bow Street Distillery. Jameson was a Scottish lawyer who married into brewing. His wife, Margaret Haig, had brothers who owned Haig distilleries and her cousins were also a distilling family from Scotland.

    Jameson was one of the six main whiskeys in Dublin, but it has since moved its distillery to Cork. Today it is the world’s third largest single-distillery.

    A Tour of Jameson Whiskey in Dublin, Ireland | Eurolinguiste

    Jameson Old Distillery
    Bow St, Smithfield Village
    Dublin 7, Ireland

    Tel: 353 1 807 2355

    What about you?

    Have you ever visited any historic distilleries, breweries or wineries?

    If you have, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!

    April 6, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 76

  • Mad Dumplings | Places to Eat in Southern California

    I’m no stranger to food trucks – at music conferences and festivals, there is often plenty to choose from and I’ve had the chance to try out some excellent items.

    To be honest though, until recently, I’d never gone out of my way to try out a food truck.

    For me, food trucks were mostly a thing of convenience. If there was one nearby when I was hungry, I’d try it out.

    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    But then I heard about Mad Dumplings and for the first time, I decided I’d make the trip out so that I could indulge in their dumpling creations. I found, however, that it’s a bit of work following a food truck and trying to coordinate your schedule so you’re available to visit them when they are nearby.

    So after a couple weeks of tracking Mad Dumplings, the stars finally aligned and I was free to try them out when they were about 20 minutes from my work.

    I was ecstatic and they did not disappoint.

    After making the drive, I was the first in line (I told you I was excited). I ordered way too much food so that I could try a bit of almost everything and then bring back whatever was left to share. My dad who is one of the pickiest eaters I know loved the dumplings I shared with him so much that he immediately demanded if they catered (the answer is yes, they do).

    I tried:

    The Mac Attack // a deep friend macaroni and cheese dumpling topped with a spicy cilantro mayo
    The Broken Meatball // a classic Italian meatball stuffed into a deep fried dumpling, sprinkled with parmesan and served with a side of warm marinera sauce
    The Nutella dumplings // a deep free dumpling filled with a mouthwatering spoonful of Nutella and topped with crumbled oreos, powdered sugar and a strawberry glaze
    The Bulgogi fries // Crispy waffle fries with bulgogi topped with Sriracha mayo, sesame seeds and thinly sliced jalapeños.

    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    And everything was amazing.

    The Bulgogi waffle fries were definitely my favorite. The meat was perfectly marinated and tender, the fries warm and fried just right, and the jalapeños and Sriracha mayo were the perfect spicy touch.

    A close second were definitely the Nutella dumplings. The Nutella was a gooey, delicious, melted mess complemented by the crumbled oreos, strawberry glaze and powdered sugar.

    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    There are a few more items on the menu that I definitely plan on trying in the near future. Their Longanisa sausage dumplings are their most popular item and an order of these dumplings is definitely first on my list for the next time around.

    Each order of dumplings includes five pieces unless you opt for one of their combos – the four dumpling and fries combo or the two sets of four dumplings. The food is cooked to order, but you don’t wait long from the time you place your order to the time the food is ready. Plus, they have games like Connect Four set up on the tables just in case you get bored. It’s the extra touches like this that really made them a favorite for me.

    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste
    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    The prices are reasonable for the quality of the food and the amount you receive. The options are definitely innovative even though the menu is somewhat limited, but for those just looking for a classic vegetable or meat dumpling, they have those too.

    The owners Edwin Lee and Fen Yi Chen seem like really great guys. I had the chance to chat with Fen Yi and he was incredibly genuine, easy-going and a pleasure to talk to. He made a point of calling customers by name rather than number and engage with them.

    A review of Mad Dumplings Food Truck | Places to eat in Southern California | Eurolinguiste

    The Mad Dumplings food truck stops twice a day and is located around Orange County and Los Angeles, depending on the day. They’re also available for catering. You can check out their schedule on their website.

    What about you?

    What are some of the places you’ve gone out of your way to eat at?

    I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!

    March 16, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine • Views: 28

  • Antica Sacrestia | Where to Eat in Venice, Italy

    When I was in Venice, Italy, I quickly learned a very important lesson.

    If we wanted to know where the good local restaurants were, we needed to ask the receptionist at our hotel. Her first recommendation to us was excellent and on our last night in the city, we knew she’d have an equally excellent suggestion for us.

    This lead us to Ristorante Antica Sacrestia.

    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste

    We followed her directions down back alleys, constantly thinking we were lost, before we stumbled upon the gate that led us into the restaurant.

    After the endless stone walls and the imposing gate, we were a little nervous, but upon peering in, we were greeted by an adorable courtyard with outdoor seating. We knew we had found the right place.

    We entered and were brought to a small room that made me think of something that might belong in a medieval castle. They brought us an aperitif on the house (an Aperol Spritz), grissini (Italian breadsticks), and a pair of menus. 

    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste
    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste

    There were tons of delicious items on the menu, so it was rather difficult to choose, but M and I finally both settled for individual pizzas. And after devouring my entire mushroom pizza, I had no regrets. Not a one.

    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste
    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste

    If you ever make it out to Venice, Italy, I absolutely recommend this restaurant. The ambiance is fantastic, the food is excellent and the drinks are definitely a bonus. 

    Antica Sacrestia in Venice, Italy | Eurolinguiste

    Ristorante Antica Sacrestia
    Sestiere di Castello,  4463  
    30122 Venezia

    Tel. 041.52.30.749

    What about you? 

    Have you ever been to Venice or Italy? If you have what are some of the restaurants you enjoyed while you were there?

    I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

    February 23, 2017 • Culture & Cuisine, Travel • Views: 30