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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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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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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

 




Cooking Burmese: Pennywort’s Cooking Class




Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Who wants to learn how to make Tea Leaf Salad? Me, please! Sign me up! Northern Myanmar’s signature dish mixed with so many flavors; you’d think this simple dish took all day to make. Coming to Myanmar, I knew I wanted to take a class. I buffered in extra time in Bagan, so I could learn how to make Tea Leaf Salad and other Burmese classics.


SHOPPING AT THE MARKET


They’re only a couple classes that teach classes. I went with Penny Worts. May is the owner and met my friend near the market and me to start our day. What I loved is she asked us what we’d like to make. She planned salad and curry but asked us what kind we wanted to learn. Of course, I said Tea Leaf then decided to learn a chicken curry. We walked through the market, and she talked about the ingredients we would be using. After shopping, we went to a proper tea shop for a drink then headed back to her house to learn how to cook Burmese.

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World


LEARNING TO COOK BURMESE


May set-up the kitchen while we started peeling and chopping the vegetables. The agenda was three salads and two curries.

Tea Leaf Salad – Using real tea leaves and lots of crunchy nuts
Cucumber Salad – A simple yet refreshing salad
Tamarind Salad – My second favorite salad
Chicken Curry – Slow-cooked in a hearty and savory sauce
Chickpea Tofu Curry – An amazing tofu in a thick tomato curry sauce

All the dishes were simple to make. The salads use many ingredients when mixed give them the complex flavors that burst in your mouth with each bite.

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Who knew there was such a thing as chickpea tofu? I didn’t, and it’s my new favorite tofu. I won’t be going back to soybean tofu anytime soon!

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

All the cooking was done on a clay-cooking stove heated by wood. I’ve only seen this type of cooking in Laos and really like this style.

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World

After we were done making everything, May put a spread out on the table of all the things we cooked along with a few other dishes her family prepared for us. It was so much food and the best meal I had in Myanmar!

Burmese Cooking Class - Bagan - Pennywort's - Robyn Around the World


Gioan Cooking School – Cooking Vietnamese!



Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

If you haven’t guessed yet, I love cooking and am obsessed with taking classes in each country I visit. Out of all the classes I’ve taken, I was super excited to get to Vietnam and learn how to make Pho and one of my favorite dishes Banh Xeo. There’s something about Vietnamese food that has that comfort food quality to it, along with being so flavorful. I loved all the dishes I ate in Vietnam, they were light, not heavy and filling. I won’t have a place with a kitchen for a while, but I’m excited to cook these dishes when I get to a place that does!


MARKET TOUR


Like most cooking classes in Southeast Asia, our morning started with a market tour to learn about the produce and pick up ingredients for the class. Most of the vegetables that I’ve seen in Southeast Asia were the same, but Vietnam has this whole section of herbs that they use as a topping for their soups and dishes. Herbs they use in most recipes are lemon basil, hung mint, rice patty, wild betel, bitter herb, and coriander. These are usually served on the side for you to add as much or as little as you like to your dish.

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class


COOKING VIETNAMESE


There are many places offering cooking classes. We decided to do a class in Hoi An and picked Gioan Cooking school because of the private classes. It was just the two of us, and we were able to pick the time and which four dishes we wanted to learn. Our teacher, Vina, has been with the school for eight years and was very entertaining singing American pop songs throughout the class. The four dishes we picked to learn how to make were:

Pho – Noodle Soup with beef
Banh Xeo – Pancake with shrimp and pork
Fresh Spring Rolls – Vegetables, shrimp, and pork wrapped in rice paper
Clay-Pot – Pork marinated and cooked in a thick savory sauce

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

The kitchen had a typical gas stove for cooking and utensils you would find in your western home. We used a large frying pan to make the pancake and sauce pot to make the Pho. I liked how simple everything was to make. The spices they use is what give Vietnamese food their tasty flavor. All of their flavors come from using fresh herbs.

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

After taking this class, Banh Xeo is still my favorite dish! I love that the pancake is light and crispy. Not to mention its fun to take rice paper and herbs to wrap the pancake up. Dip it in chili sauce and this dish is a tasty treat as an appetizer or main meal. I can’t wait to make this recipe on my own!

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class

Cooking Vietnamese - Gioan Cooking Class


15 Must Eat Street Eats In Vietnam



Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam quickly topped my charts of best eats in Southeast Asia with their amazing noodle dishes! Every dish they make has a variety of rice noodle/paper in it. Even served on the side with many of the dishes. Here are 15 must-try street eats in Vietnam!


PHO


You can’t go to Vietnam without getting Pho! I took a cooking class and learned how to make this simple yet yummy dish! It’s a basic rice noodle soup with your choice of protein in a beef broth, served with a side of herbs and chili to create your own flavor.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BAHN MI


Another staple of Vietnam, they eat these for breakfast or lunch. Breakfast the roll is served with eggs and vegetables on the side to create your own breakfast hoagie. Lunch is where it’s at, though! These warm rolls were stuffed with pate, vegetables and meat then chili and mayonnaise are drizzled on top. The best place I had one was at Queen Bahn Mi in Hoi An!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BAHN XEO


I loved this dish! It’s a super thin rice flour pancake stuffed with pork, shrimp and bean sprouts. It’s cooked to crispy then served with rice paper, herbs, and chili sauce. To eat you take a piece of rice paper and add a bit of the pancake with herbs, roll and dip in chili sauce. Delicious!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BAHN BO – WHITE ROSE


This simple snack is made of rice paper stuffed with minced pork and made into the shape of a rose and boiled then topped with fried shallots. It reminds me of a wonton, but with more flavor.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BUN CHA


Bun Cha is what Obama ate with Anthony Bourdain when they were in Vietnam together. This dish is famous in Hanoi, but you can also find it in Saigon. A bowl of both grilled pork patties and sliced pork is served alongside a plate of rice noodles, herbs, garlic, and chili. The pork is very tender and slightly sweet, but adding it to the noodles with all the other condiments you can create your own flavor and make it more savory. Bun Cha my second favorite dish in Vietnam and I ate at the same place that Obama and Bourdain ate Bun Cha.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BUN BO


This party in a bowl starts with rice vermicelli then is topped with lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, beef slices, peanuts, grilled onions and green onions. Oh, wait there’s more! Who wants a fried pork spring roll to go on top? Yes, please!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BUN KHOT


Mini, bite-sized pancakes are made in a pan that looks like a mini cupcake tin. The batter is placed into each then stuffed with scallions and a single shrimp. The top is covered to both steam and cook the pancake which is then served with leafy greens on the side to wrap them up and pop in your mouth.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

 


BUN MAM


Found in Hanoi this fermented fish soup, yes you read correctly, is pretty darn tasty! It reminds me a bit of gumbo with its mixture of eggplant, pork belly, shrimp, and chunks of fish. This thick, hearty, spicy broth is served over rice vermicelli with a side of herbs, not that it needs anything else!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


BO LA LOT


Pork fatty goodness! This little roll of fun starts with a minced pork mixture then is wrapped up in wild leaves before deep fried and served either plain or topped with tomato sauce. Both ways melt in your mouth.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


CAO LAU


Only served in Hoi An, this traditional dish is known for it’s Cao Lau noodles and is made by one family in Hoi An. They are warmed in a bowl then topped with herbs, pork slices and fried pork skin with a little bit of pork juice poured over top. The best Cao Lau I tasted is at Central Market.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


CHA CA


This fun dish is fish sautéed with a healthy portion of scallions and dill cooked in a pan on your table by your server. Once cooked you create a small bowl with rice noodles, cilantro, peanuts, fish sauce and the fish mix. This would be a really fun night out with friends! I made friends with the family at the table next to me and winded up doing whiskey shots with them!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


CLAYPOT


As the name suggests, is vegetables or meat simmered on the stovetop in a clay pot. The broth is simmered with the main ingredient until it dissolves into a thick broth then served over rice.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


MI QUANG


Another noodle dish that starts with lettuce at the bottom of the bowl then topped with thick rice noodles, marinated pork slices, peanuts, grilled onions and a quail egg. Mi Quang another staple in Hoi An.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


CAFÉ TRUNG – EGG COFFEE


This sugary treat is thick and tastes like a sugar stick. It’s Vietnamese drip coffee topped with eggs whipped with a healthy portion of sugar. It’s so thick you drink eat your coffee with a spoon.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


FRESH SPRING ROLL


Another staple of Vietnam is the fresh spring roll. Rice paper wrapped with vegetables, rice noodles, and pork then decorated with shrimp slices in the final fold. So fresh and served with a side of chili sauce for dipping.

Vietnam Street Food - 15 Must Eat Street Eats!


Cooking Cambodian: Beyond Unique Escapes




Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

As you can probably tell by now, I try to take a cooking class in each country I go to. So far I’ve taken classes in Bali, Laos, and Thailand. When I found out Beyond Unique Escapes did a half day course and taught 2 of the three famous dishes here for only $24, I signed up! I looked on Trip Advisor, and there were many companies that came up, but this one was in the top ten, the right dishes and at the right price! I signed up online, and a tuk-tuk came and picked me up at my hotel the morning of and dropped me off after at no additional charge.

THE CLASS

They offer two classes, one in the morning and one in the evening, or you can combine the two and make a full day out of it. After the tuk-tuk had picked me up, he took me to the office to pay (they take your card online but don’t charge it) then we went off about a 15-minute drive from the center of town to a small village where the cooking venue is out in the rural part of town. It was nice to show up and have our guide walk us through the village and meet a family to interact with them and see how they live and cook. As a token of gratitude, we (the school) offered the man of the house 2Kg of rice. I thought that was a small amount to give while allowing strangers into your home, but the school visits them almost every day, so I guess the rice will never be wasted while also being plentiful. The villagers were happy to see us and smiling and willing to answer any questions and take pictures. There was a girl in the kitchen peeling garlic and a cute little girl playing outside.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

THE DISHES

After our tour of the village, we went back to the cooking school where we each had our own station to make three dishes: Fish Amok, Green Mango Salad with Chicken, and Sticky Rice Balls. With only a class of 9 (they take up to 10) it was very intimate and fun!

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

We first learned the Fish Amok and chopped all the ingredients ourselves and made the dish up until the last piece where you add a raw egg in at the end; they did that for us. There were no recipes given out, but I took good notes so I can replicate the dishes later. This was my favorite dish!

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Although I came to learn the Fish Amok, it was great to find out how to make the Green Mango Salad too! All over Southeast Asia you’ll find Papaya and Mango Salads that are to die for! This salad didn’t disappoint, and now that I know the techniques and what’s in the dressing I can change it up to make it spicier, sweeter, or sourer.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

The last dish we learned was a sticky rice ball dessert. None of us had high hopes for it as all it consisted of was the dough which was glutinous rice flour and water, then the filling was a chunk of palm sugar. I thought maybe the palm sugar would be enough to bring the flavor out, but it was just a hint of sugar in the ball. Basically, you roll a small piece of dough in the palm of your hand then make a little divot in it and add the piece of sugar then pull up the dough around it and form back into a ball. Then you boil them and drop into the cold water to stop the cooking and eat cold. I wanted the sugar to be more prominent, but all I tasted was bland rice flour with a hint of sugar. I think if you made the balls thinner/smaller and added more sugar or even coated the outside of the ball with toasted coconut or sugar they’d taste better. I’ll have to experiment with it.

Cambodian Cooking Class - Siem Reap

I really enjoyed this class, the only other dish I wish I could have learned how to make was Lok Lak, it’s a beef dish marinated in a pepper sauce and served with a fried egg and rice. So good I had it three times while I was there!


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