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Learning To Cook Classic Valencian Paella

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Heading to Spain, there was one thing I knew I wanted to try. Paella! Originating in Valencia, I decided to make a trip down the coast and take a class to learn how to make the original Valencian Paella.

The first time I tried Paella was at one of my bride’s wedding that I was photographing. They both loved Spain and decided to serve Paella as their main course. I remember it containing mussels, clams, shrimp, and andouille sausage. So many different flavors that all mixed together really well.

Upon arriving in Valencia, I learned the original Paella, wasn’t seafood but made of chicken, rabbit, snails and four kinds of beans. A stark contrast to the seafood creations I’ve had.

MARKET TOUR

First up was a market tour at Mercado Central de Valencia where we purchased all the ingredients. We learned the best way to get the most flavor is for each piece of meat to have a bit of bone in it. We also went to purchase saffron and learned about the different qualities and the best one to use. This recipe also calls for four types of beans, FOUR! Each brings its unique flavor to the dish.

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

MAKING VALENCIAN PAELLA

Our teacher had us pair up in teams. Instead of showing us how to cook with us just watching, he talked us through it having use do each step of the process. Each team used a 16-inch diameter pan to create the dish. I thought it would be a lot for two people to finish, but we had no problem polishing it off, snails and all!

To make the dish, we first made the broth from scratch in the pan, then added ingredients with a few fun techniques that I explain in the recipe. After adding the rice and waited for the paella to finish we were served plenty of wine with mussels.

After our creations were complete, we went outside for an epic picture and then sat down to taste the results of our labor. Surprisingly everyone’s paella tasted different. We all used the same ingredients, but some may have used a little less or more salt or cooked their broth just a little bit longer or shorter. Just these little tweaks made a huge difference in flavor. All of them tasted really good!

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

When I make paella in the future, I know no two will ever taste the same. Now that I have the base for making paella I can branch out and create my own. I can make it with traditional meat, using local seafood, or creating an amazing vegetarian version. This recipe is one that doesn’t follow strict rules.

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

Check out the other cooking classes I’ve taken around the world:

International Cooking Classes

 

Paella Cooking Class - Valencia, Spain - Robyn Around The World

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A Week In Barcelona, Spain

 

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Barcelona is home to great artists Dali, Picasso and Gaudi. The small alleyways are packed with boutiques, bodegas, and the hole in the walls selling amazing tapas and cava for super cheap. Mixed with a great vibe and outdoor cafes at every turn it’s my dream city. It was love at first sight. Here’s a list of things I did while I was in Barcelona.

VISIT BARCELONA’S BEACH AND WATERFRONT

Being a water girl, one of the first things I did was walk Barcelona’s water-front and spend time at the beach. The waterfront is filled with seaside restaurants and shops. There’s also a mall and an aquarium too. The beach is packed with locals and tourists a like. It’s a great day out and feels like you’re nowhere near the city when you’re really only a couple of blocks away.

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

WITNESS GAUDI’S ART

One can not come to Barcelona without visiting at least one of Gaudi’s pieces of art, whether you visit the famous dragon at Park Guell, the amazing house of Casa Batllo, or the La Pedrera residences. His works of art will amaze you. I could have stayed in Casa Batllo all day!

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

VISIT LA SAGRADA FAMILIA

One of Gaudi’s most famous art work is the Sagrada Familia which has been under construction since 1892. This Catholic church is a whole façade of sculptures of Gaudi’s vision. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, and Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it in 2010. It is planned to be completed in 2026 which is the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

EXPLORE SANTA CLARITA MARKET

I loved this market! You can find everything here from fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, cheese, and wine. There are also a few cafes outside and inside the market. Don’t miss out on eating at Bar Joan and having their Menu Del Dia (Menu of the day)!

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

STUFF YOURSELF SILLY ON TAPAS

I stuffed myself silly on tapas! Spain knows how to do it right! From potato bravas to la bombas, there really wasn’t anything I didn’t like! My friends over at In Pursuit Of Adventure published a guide to eating Catalan cuisine having lived there during their travels. I ate at over 15 restaurants in their book! If you’re heading to Barcelona, this book is a must have on your Kindle!

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

WANDER THE STREETS OF BARCELONA

I had the best time just walking the streets of Barcelona. The windy alleys were so inviting. There are so many boutiques and cafes in each nook and cranny. I’d wander through alleys and Bodega hop, stopping for wine and tapas along the way.

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

 

PICASSO MUSEUM

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, but this is definitely worth visiting. It showcases Picasso’s work from the very beginning to his death. It was beautiful to see the progression of his craft through the years.

 

Top Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain - Robyn Around The World

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Indian Cooking Class: Tastesutra, Delhi

 

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

One of the things I knew I wanted to do when I went to India was to take a Indian cooking class. I found Anchal through TripAdvisor and reached out to her a couple of months before I came. Her class was the one thing I was looking forward to after my whirlwind tour of the Golden Triangle. I took an auto rickshaw to her studio and walked up the stairs into her beautiful kitchen.

Her studio is painted with bright colors of blue and is welcoming soon as you set foot in the door decorated with things she personally upcycled. She made a beautiful mirror frame out of rolled up paper, and you will also find puzzles and needlework framed and on display on the walls. Anchal started the classes 22 months ago leaving her career in marketing to follow her passion for teaching others Indian cooking how to make traditional cuisine.

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

THE INDIAN KITCHEN

Although I was the only one who booked her class for the day, she agreed to do the class for me privately. I looked at our menu for the class and was excited to learn we’d be making eight dishes and sides! Salted Lassi (Chaas), Pakoras with chutney, Chicken Curry, Dal Tadka, Paneer Labadar, Roti, Rice, and Phirni. Anchal first went over all the spices. She mentioned every Indian family would have a spice box of 7-9 spices in their house. They keep small tins in a larger tin, instead of individual jars. They do this so the spices are readily available to use since most of them are used in all dishes they create. She went over medicinal properties of some of the spices and how they are used in each dish (Asafetida helps with stomach gas in lentil dishes!). She also said she grinds all her spices fresh from the whole spice then just puts them in a spice grinder to create her own spices. I’m going to try this instead of buying McCormick’s which will be a fresher way to make my own spices and probably cheaper?

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

INDIAN DISHES

We then started making the dishes. Because Indians make all their meals fresh (they don’t have leftovers that they put in the refrigerator) they use pressure cookers to speed up the process. The Paneer and Curry dish were made with the same ingredients of tomato and onion but cooked differently. The Paneer cooks the vegetables first then blends them, where the curry makes the vegetables into a puree first then cooks them. Two completely different flavors just by changing the way they’re cooked.

All the dishes were simple to make, just a lot of spices. But with the spice box readily available with everything you need in them, it makes for an easy task. After cooking all our dishes, we sat down to eat, and she showed me how to eat with my fingers. She told me the Indians eat with their finger for two reasons. First is because you are feeding with and to your heart. Second, it helps with portion control. You tend not to over eat and take smaller bites when you use your fingers. I love the story behind this, but in America, there are not many dishes that we could really do this with (Burgers anyone?).  But, I do love the history behind it none the less and ate my lunch sans fork and spoon.

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

MARKET TOUR

After our meal, Anchal took me on a market tour. Most of the market was closed because it was a Monday. It was nice to see it not full of people as I’ve seen all week long in the other parts of Delhi. It was such a great morning and so glad she made the exception to teach me. I’m looking forward to cooking her dishes at the next place I land that has a kitchen.

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Cooking Class Details

Tastesutra

anchalbhalla@tastesutra.com

www.tastesutra.com

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

Check out the other cooking classes I’ve taken around the world:

International Cooking Classes

Indian Cooking Class -Tastesutra -Delhi, India -Robyn Around the World

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Photo Essay: India’s Golden Triangle

 

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

 

I spent ten days in India’s Golden Triangle where I walked the crazy streets of Delhi. I visited a community kitchen that feeds anyone who’s hungry four times a day with a hot meal. I then made my way over to Agra to visit one of the Seven Wonders, Taj Mahal. I thought it was a religious site, but it is actually a token of an emperor’s love to his wife after she died 19 years into their marriage. After Agra, I went on to the final city in the Golden Triangle, Jaipur which has many historic forts. Here is my ten days in a series of photographs.

 

AGRA, INDIA

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

One can not fly to Delhi without visiting the Taj Mahal. It is one of the 7 Wonders of the World and is stunning to witness.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Another tomb in Agra is the lesser known, Baby Taj.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

The details of Baby Taj are intricate.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

All made of marble.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Kids and families play down below Baby Taj, along the river.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

An older man at Fatephur Skiri.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A family of 8 piles into an auto rickshaw.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A family on the streets of Agra.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Women selling fruits and vegetables.

 

RAJASTHAN, INDIA

 

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Abhaneri Stepwells. Pre-Escher, maybe this is where he got his inspiration from?

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Amber Fort.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A stray dog walks down the rails of Amber Fort.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

The gardens inside Amber Fort.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

View of the city below Amber Fort.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

There are many monkeys that live around the fort.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Elephants take tourists up a steep hill in 100F+ weather. Only females are used and they can be seen resisting being forced to go up the hill. Please do your research before riding one, elephants are not meant to be ridden.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Her sad eyes tell a story of being worked hard in the strong heat.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Water Palace is out in the middle of the lake, but soon to be made into a café.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Camels are used for work in India, you can see them in most cities/villages.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A man talks on his phone and rides his horse in the middle of street traffic.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Jaipur market where you can find fruits, vegetables, clothes, and other textiles.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A woman sells pottery at the market in Jaipur.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A woman shows bangles to a girl.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Woman buying vegetable from a vendor.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Fresh dried tamarind ready to be ground into powder.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Jaipur Market.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

More Jaipur market vendors.

A woman sells her vegetables on the streets of Jaipur.

 

NEW DELHI, INDIA

 

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Men washing themselves at Jama Masjid.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Locals seeking relief from the hot sun inside the walls of the mosque.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Worshipers praying at Sikh Temple.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Volunteers peeling vegetables at the community kitchen.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A happy volunteer stirs a vat of dal to be served at lunch.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A women makes roti for the community kitchen.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Cows can be seen walking down the streets of Delhi.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

An auto rickshaw.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A man carries goods down a busy street in Old Delhi.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Tiles of religious figures are mounted to the walls of alleys to discourage men from peeing on the wall.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Laundry is done with an iron heated by coal.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Many stray dogs live on the streets of India, surprisingly there were only a few cats.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

A man sweeps out in front of his shop.

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

Old lady walking the streets of Old Delhi.

 

I’m so glad I made the time to stop in India, even though it was only for ten days. To do it right, you’d really need at least a month or two to be able to explore all the India has to offer. But this little taste has changed my perception of India, as I felt safe and well taken care of while I was there. I know many have had bad experiences, but I opened my heart and decided when I landed that I would not let other people’s experiences dictate mine, and it was an incredible time with beautiful, colorful people.

 

India Golden Triangle - Photo Essay - Robyn Around The World

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Cooking Filipino At Ven’z Kitchen

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

If you’ve been following along for a while you know, I love learning how to cook local food! Philippines is the 9th country in Southeast Asia where I’ve taken a class, and I fell on it by happenstance. I had planned to find a cooking school in Cebu City. When I arrived at the small diving town of Moalboal, I fell in love with one of the restaurants there (I ate there almost every day!). I saw they offered classes, so I inquired, and the owners gave me a private class!

Venus and Venisse run Ven’z Kitchen. Venisse is from Manila and worked in IT in Malaysia for four years. Venus is from Davao and worked as a pharmacist for five years before opening the business. Both of their passion is cooking, and they decided to take their passion and open a restaurant on Cebu. They found their space in Moalboal and opened in April 2016.

Their food is a mix of local staples like Adobo and Pancit, but also serve local flavor fusions making an array of vegan dishes for the non-meat eaters. You must try the banana heart salad. It tastes like tuna but is all vegetables and absolutely delicious.

MARKET TOUR

On the day of my class, Venisse took me to the market to pick up the ingredients for our dishes – Chicken Adobo, Pork Kare-Kare, and Ginataang Talong – and gave me a tour of the market. We picked up a coconut and had it shredded that would be used to make the coconut milk and cream for the Ginataang Talong. This was a treat to learn how to make, I’ve learned how to squeeze coconut milk from shredded coconut in Thailand and Indonesia, but this technique was different. They use the coconut meat, where the other countries use the meat and the flesh.
Back in the kitchen, Venus was waiting for me to explain the ingredients and talk me through how to make the dishes.

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

FILIPINO DISHES

The first thing we did was extract the milk and cream from the coconut. You take a small amount of water and squeeze it through the coconut shreds. This first press creates the coconut milk. We then added another small amount of water and pushed it through a strainer, which created the coconut milk. Honestly, as long as there is coconut around, I will never use boxed coconut milk or cream again! So easy and it doesn’t get fresher than this!
Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

After the coconut milk and cream were made we moved on to making the dishes. First was Chicken Adobo. You’d think these recipes would be so complicated to make, but they are very simple and packed with flavor. Adobo was the first dish I had at Ven’z, and the chicken just melts in your mouth with the savory sauce. The ingredient that surprised me? Ketchup! You don’t even know it’s in there!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World
The second dish we made was Pork Kare-Kare. I have to say I was a little concerned when Venus put a beautiful piece of pork belly in boiling water. I was like, what is she doing to the pork?! I’ve always had pork belly roasted or sauteed; I thought boiling it would take away flavor and texture. I was sooooo wrong. The boiling made the belly even more tender than it already is. We used the broth the pork was cooked in to make the sauce and just brought out all the flavors of this dish that just melts in your mouth. I can’t wait to try this one at home!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

The last dish we made was Ginataang Talong, eggplant in spicy coconut sauce. This is where we used the coconut milk and cream to make the sauce. Such a simple dish with a nice spicy kick.

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World
After all the dishes had been complete, I sat at their bar table and ate my labor of love. I stuffed myself silly trying to finish all the dishes. One of my favorite cooking classes to date!

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The World

 

Check out the other cooking classes I’ve taken around the world:

International Cooking Classes

Ven'z Kitchen - Moalboal, Philippines -Filippino Cooking Classes - Robyn Around The WorldPin it for later!




Weekend In Melaka

 

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Just 2 hours south of Kuala Lumpur is Melaka, designated UNESCO World Heritage in 2008 along with Penang. It was once a trading port that was once run by the Portuguese. The town is small and walk friendly as most of its attractions are within a 1km radius. Being a huge fan of Penang, I was excited to hear about Melaka having the same cultural feel and couldn’t wait to check it out.

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Getting There

It’s easy to get to Melaka by Bus from Kuala Lumpur via Terminal Bersepadu Selatan. The VIP luxury buses are only 14.40 MYR ($3.25) each way, the seats are roomy, and the ride is smooth, unlike other buses I’ve taken in Southeast Asia! If you are only making a day out of Melaka and plan to take the bus back on the same day, make sure you buy your return to guarantee your spot back. You can buy tickets at the station or for ease of mind you can pay an extra $0.25 to book them online. Once you get to the bus station in Melaka, you can quickly grab an Uber for ~7 MYR (~$2) to take you to Dutch Square, which is the heart of Melaka.

Dutch Square

Dutch Square is a photographer’s dream! All the buildings are painted red and make for stunning pictures. Dutch Square has four main buildings: the Stadthuys, Christ Church, Queen Victoria’s Fountain, and Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower. Here you will also see elaborate decorative trishaws lined up looking to take tourists on a ride around the city. There’s also a food stall across the street, selling chendol and fresh watermelon juice. This is a great place to start. The museum in Stadthuys is worth the visit and gives the history of Melaka.

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Chicken and Rice Balls

Melaka is known for chicken and rice balls and the place to get it is Chung Wah. This shop is right at the entrance to Jonker Street and has been there since the 1960’s. Locals and tourists start lining up right before they open at 8:30 am to have a plate of their family recipe. Only two things are on the menu, Hainanese chicken, and rice balls. You have your option of half-chicken, whole chicken or two chickens served along with rice balls and an amazing chili sauce. I’m a huge fan of chili and dumped easily ½ a cup on my chicken! The flavor is amazing! You can find chicken rice everywhere in Melaka, but this is the best place to get it. The chicken was super fresh and probably the juiciest I’ve tasted. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch so make sure you head over there before they close at 3 pm

Price: 25 MYR ($5.75) for half a chicken and rice balls

Hours: 8:30 am – 3 pm

Location: 18, Jalan Hang Jebat

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake

I heard about this place from a friend in Penang; she said I must go there to get some Nyonya treats. I took an Uber to go check them out as they’re ~2.5 Km from town. Located down a narrow alley is a residential house that sells about a few dozen different kinds of desserts called kuih. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was a bunch of ladies hard at work making the treats. I asked if I could take pictures of them, which they happily smiled for.   Walking into another room is where all the magic was. So many colorful kuih! They give you baskets to load up, and I decided on three to take away and try. At ~$0.50-1.00 a dessert, it’s easy to add one of each to your basket! I refrained and picked three traditional items to taste. I liked all of them, but really loved the blue rice with palm sugar coconut.

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Street Art

I hadn’t heard about the street art here, but one thing that keeps bringing me back to Penang (besides the fantastic food!) is the street art. It was an awesome surprise to see that Melaka also has their fair share of art on the street. Most of it is concentrated along the river, so I highly recommend walking the river and checking out all the wall murals out.

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Jonker 88 – Chendol

I’m not going to lie; I haven’t tried chendol until now. I know I’ve been to Malaysia at least eight times over the past year, and I haven’t tried chendol?? Honestly, there’s just so much going on with it that it intimidated me. Upon arriving in Melaka everyone, of course, says get the chendol! I hadn’t planned on getting it, but then I saw Melaka Chendol wasn’t like Penang’s. It’s like a stripped down version of it and not so scary. Melaka’s chedol is basic, served with red bean, green chendol and shaved ice then topped with a healthy portion of Gula Melaka (palm sugar sauce) and coconut milk. I figured I’d give it a go and was told Jonker88 was the place to get it. WOW! So good! I got mine without beans (don’t like them), and just the simpleness of the other four ingredients was a milkshake in my mouth. Jonker88 makes a few different types from plain to durian. Maybe next time I’ll try the durian version.

Price: 4-5 MYR ($1.00-1.25)

Hours: 9:30 am – 5:30 pm

Location: 88, Jonker Street

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Jonker Street – Night Market

I had heard about Jonker Street Night Market and decided to come to Melaka during the weekend so that I could check it out. The night market is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights from 6:00 pm – 12:00 am. I love markets! Jonker Street shuts down car traffic to make it a walking street after 6:00 pm. The road is narrow, so I would suggest going early as you’ll be walking through like sardines after 8:00 pm. At the end of the street, I noticed a big stage, huge screen, and a microphone. Karaoke!!!! There are even seats set up in front of the stage so your friends, family, and strangers can cheer you on!

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Flora De La Mar Museum

You can’t miss the restored Flora De La Mar Portuguese ship that has now been converted into a museum. There are many museums in Melaka, and this is one I highly recommend. Your ticket not only gets you into the Flora De La Mar but also the Royal Navy Museum and Maritime Museum. I rented the walking tour headsets to learn about the history. Was surreal to learn Macallum had a fingerprint in Melaka after just hearing about him in Cebu, Philippines. I love that all my travels and history are intertwining together.

Cost: 10 MYR ($2.25) Admission; 3 MYR ($0.75) headphone tour

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

River Cruise

While I didn’t actually take a river cruise, it looked awesome! I winded up walking down the riverside instead. I was told the best time to ride is at night, unfortunately, I was already set to leave that day. Next time I go, I will take the sunset or night tour. For only $3.50 for a 40-minute boat ride, it’s worth it!

Cost: 15 MYR ($3.50) for 40 minutes

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Menara Taming Sari Tower Ride

While checking out the maritime museum, I noticed tower across the way and walked over to check it out. It was the Menara Taming Sari Tower that rotates in the sky giving a 360-degree view of Melaka. The ride itself is only about 7-8 minutes long, but it’s worth the price. I couldn’t stop smiling or taking pictures the whole time I was up there. I rode up during the day, but I bet a sunset or night ride would be spectacular.

Cost: 23 MYR ($5.25) and includes a free water bottle

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Trishaw Ride

I’ve taken trishaw rides in Penang, but these take trishaw to a whole another level! These trishaws are elaborately decorated with loud music booming. You can find them lined up at Dutch Square with menus of attractions they can take you to. This is an excellent way to see the city on a hot day if you don’t feel like walking around.

Cost: 40 MYR ($9.25) for 60 minutes

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Walk Along The River

My favorite part of Melaka! I love the river running through the center of town. I would pick cafes to hang out at just to view the river. My hotel was right on the river too, so I walked the river every morning. There is a lot to see on the river walk as that’s’ where most of the street art is. Highly recommend walking in the morning or early evening.

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Watermelon Juice

This is the first time I’ve seen this! They take a small watermelon, make a hole in the top, take a hand mixer and mix up the inside, then use a funnel to add ice, then serve. Mind blown!

Locations: Dutch Square & Jonker Night Market

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

All prices correct as of April 2017

 

Melaka, Malaysia - Top 12 Things To Do - Robyn Around The World

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Learning To Cook Malaysia’s Beef Rendang

 

Learning to cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

 

I’ve been in Southeast Asia for two years, and my favorite food is Malaysian. Especially the street food. I’ve been holding out taking a cooking class here because I really wanted to find a place that teaches the street food. I haven’t been able to find a class, so I finally broke down and took a class at a school I’ve been eyeing over the past year and decided to learn Beef Rendang. I’m so glad I took this class! I’ve made Beef Rendang before, but have used store bought spice packets. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to learn how to make it! Fairly simple, just A LOT of steps. No more pre-made spice packets for me!

MARKET TOUR

I’ve been on market tours for most of the classes I’ve taken. I loved that this tour started with breakfast. We had a roti with tea before we walked through the market. Ana, the owner of LaZat Cooking School, walked us through the proper way to make a roti and the different kinds you can find in Southeast Asia. We then walked through and learned about all the ingredients we’d be using in the class. I love market tours, and even though I’ve already been, I learned a few new things in each which makes me never want to skip one when they’re offered.

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

AUTHENTIC MALAY DISHES

I signed up for the Authentic Malay course. This class is only offered on Saturday mornings because making Beef Rendang takes time. We learned how to make three dishes Beef Rendang, Acur Timun, and Kuih Koci.

First up was Beef Rendang! It’s not very complicated to make; there’s just a lot of steps and A LOT of waiting. This dish is so worth the time to do from scratch. The secret is being patient.

The second dish we made was Kuih Koci, a rice ball dessert. I’ve made a form of these before in Cambodia, but they weren’t nearly as good as these! Kuih Koci is coconut, palm sugar balls that are wrapped in rice dough then covered in a coconut glaze and steamed. I’m not a big sweet person, but these are pretty amazing and best when eaten right out of the steamer.

Our last dish was Acur Timun, which is a cucumber and carrot salad cooked in a fish paste. I wouldn’t have thought to cook the carrots and cucumbers but just heating it through to where it’s still crunchy but warm gives it a surprisingly good flavor. This side dish went really well with the Beef Rendang. The spiciness of the rendang perfectly complements the sour and sweet taste of the Acur Timun.

I loved making all three dishes and will definitely make them when I get to a place that has a kitchen for me to cook in. This was my favorite class so far!

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

Learning To Cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class - Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

 

Check out the other cooking classes I’ve taken around the world:

International Cooking Classes

 

 

Learning to cook Beef Rendang - LaZat Cooking Class Kuala Lumpur - Robyn Hartzell

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Weekend in Kuala Lumpur

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World

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I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur more than a handful of times over the past two years, yet I hated it when I first stepped into the city. After traveling Bali, Thailand, and Laos, I just expected Malaysia to be the same, little villages with a lot of cultures. I spent time in Penang before I came here which I fell in love with. When I came here, I felt I stepped into New York. I’ve learned to embrace KL and now love having short stays here when I’m passing through. Here’s what how I spent my last weekend here.


SUNSET AT TRADERS HOTEL


Head over to Traders for happy hour and the best view of the towers. Be sure to bring your camera; you’re not going to want to miss this show!

Home of where the film Entrapment was filmed (Sean Connery & Catherine Zeta-Jones) is a huge shopping mall where you can find everything from Gap to Gucci along with other European favorites, Marks and Spenser’s and Harrods’s. Get your shopping fix on at this huge mall and head up to the observation deck to get a view of the towers.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


EAT LOCAL AT JALAN ALOR


Not your ordinary hawker center, This is filled with restaurants with everyone wanting your business. A perfect place to head with friends as you can order a bunch of local plates and share.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


VISIT BATU CAVES


Don’t be turned off by hearing about the gobs of people that go here. I went in the morning ~10 am, and there weren’t that many people there. There’s even a market below where you can buy trinkets and street treats. The caves are worth a visit and the main cave is free to go in. Only 5 miles from the city it’s just a short ride for ~$1 on the Kommutor. It’s a great cheap day out.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


GET EDUCATED ABOUT SHARK FINNING AT KLCC AQUARIA


Usually one against aquariums, I had to go in and support KLCC’s as they have a mission to stop shark finning which is a huge problem in Asia. The focus at the aquarium is educating the public on the harms of shark finning and what it’s doing to the fish population which is something I can get behind.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


FIND A GOOD BARGAIN IN CHINATOWN


During the day you can shop for all the knock-off watches and bags you want, in the evening this turns into a proper night market filled with vendors trying to sell their goods. Food vendors make their way to the streets too where you can buy everything from fruit to roasted nuts.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


STUFF YOURSELF SILLY AT CENTRAL MARKET


Dubbed the locals market, here you will find clothes, souvenirs, and even a fish spa. Stuff yourself silly at the hawker center on the top floor or some street treats right outside. Don’t miss eating Putu Bamboo which is right outside and is made fresh right in front of you. This pandan, rice flour, palm sugar, coconut treat is one of my favorite sweets.

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World

Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World


TAKE PICTURES OF MASJID JAMEK


Weekend in Kuala Lumpur - Top 7 Things to See And Do - Robyn Around the World

 




Exploring Phu Quoc, Vietnam

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Phu Quoc is Vietnam’s largest island off the southwest end and lies right on the border of Cambodia. This island is soon to become a cruise port destination, so life on Phu Quoc is changing at this moment.

I’ve been on the island for two months, and there’s already the cruise harbor is in the process of being built, roads are in the process of being redone, and large hotel chains and condos are going up quickly. Right now is a great time to go to see what Phu Quoc island life is like before it turns into a major tourist hub.

You see many tourist vacationers here rather than backpackers. Many people come to relax on the beautiful resort beaches and take in the slow life of the Vietnamese islanders. Despite it being a small island there are quite a few activities to enjoy. Here are five things to see and do in Phu Quoc.


PHU QUOC BEE FARM


Did you know that bee’s pollinate 85% of all plants in the world? One-third of all the food we eat come from a bee-pollinated plant. If the bee’s die, then there will be no pollination. Without bees, there will be no fruits or vegetables. Take that all in. This place is doing a great job educating the locals and tourists alike about the importance of bees.

They have a small café that serves drinks, sweetened with honey, of course. There’s also a banana fritter to munch on served with cinnamon honey which is a tasty combination.

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World


PHU QUOC NIGHT MARKET


No Southeast Asia city would be complete without a market, let alone a night market. Here you have your choice of many restaurants serving seafood, hot pot style. Hot pot is a big bowl of broth where you will cook your fish and vegetables then serve it in small bowls over rice noodles.

The small two-road market sells everything from souvenirs to ice cream. The only thing you won’t find here is a massage, which is very not Southeast Asia. Still, it’s a fun night out on the town and should be experienced while you’re here.

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World


FLOATING RESTAURANTS


This fishing village at the top of the island can be reached best by motorbike. Out at the end of the piers are many floating restaurants where you can have your pick of seafood or chicken barbecued for lunch or dinner.

Next to each restaurant are nets containing all the fish they offer. Watch your fish being ‘caught’ and cooked right in front of you.

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World


VINPEARL LAND & SAFARI


Vinpearl is Vietnam’s version of Disneyland. This park includes a wild safari & zoo, full waterpark, aquarium with mermaid show, and amusement park all wrapped up in one.

Make sure you block out a whole day as you’re going to need it to do everything. I suggest starting with the safari when it opens at 9 am. You’ll be greeted with African dancers welcoming you into the park, then head over to the waterpark after you’re done to keep cool in Vietnam’s heat.

End your day enjoying the rest of the park, which includes fun rides and a magic fountain water show.

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World


PHU QUOC HARBOR


Head down to the harbor to see all the fishing boats and snorkel boats head out for the day. Walk over the bridge to see them parked up in rows. At night watch as the squid, boats go out. They are the ones with the big light bulbs on the top deck that are used to attract the squid at night.

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World

Top 5 Things To Do In Phu Quoc - Robyn Around the World




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