#37: Bahrain

Greetings from The Kingdom of Bahrain

Doesn’t that just sound fancy?! I thought so too. It’s been such beautiful Colorado weather this weekend that it seems a shame to escape to the far away land of Bahrain, but we were no less excited to try out some more Middle Eastern cuisine!

THE DINNER: Two of my favorite things collided when I was doing research on Bahraini food and culture this week: COFFEE and ROYALTY. So to be clear about both of these things, Bahrain is the only Middle Eastern country to reside on an island, which if that wasn’t cool enough, it’s also ruled by a royal family. Which is terribly romantic and coupled with the nation’s full name “The Kingdom of Bahrain” it is magical. I also learned that it is a custom to serve a guest coffee as they enter a home… wait, you’re telling me they have royalty andddd they will give me coffee whenever I enter someplace?! This is my new favorite country. They call this Gahwa (قهوة) and it’s basically the nicest way I can imagine to be greeted.

We wanted to pick a traditional Middle Eastern meal and we instantly gravitated towards Shwarma. For those of you unaware of the pure joy of shaved meat that has been roasted all day, served in a warm naan blanket and smothered in all means of yogurt-y goodness, you are missing out on one of the joys of life. The word “shwarma” is actually Turkish in origin and means “turning” which refers to the way in which traditionally this meat (be it lamb, beef or chicken) is cooked. In markets, street vendors will spit roast this meat, which is pretty cool and labor intensive. It’s the original fast food too, btws. It’s been around for literally centuries and it’s here to stay.

Shwarma Recipe: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/leg-of-lamb-shawarma?xid=pinsharebar

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: One and a HALF STARS out of five this Dinner!
This country could have been really more of a three, but we didn’t make naan from scratch. We definitely could have done this, as naan is not difficult—but we just didn’t have the time to devote this week to that particular step of the process. The overall meal after that is pretty simple. I mean, it’s designed to be a grab-n-go type of meal. You grille the meat and cut up some veggies and add sauce! Done. Done. And done!

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Dinner.
The idea of shwarma or gryos in general, conjure up imagines of succulent meat wrapped in fluffy bread smothered in tzatziki, hummus or yogurt. I feel like it’s basically the most perfect meal one can have in many respects. It has it all: meat, bread, flavor, veggies. It’s great in theory. This particular rendition only got a four star tip from our hat. The reason wasn’t that it was not delicious, it definitely was. The reason was not that it was difficult, I already covered that piece. The reason was that it had so much potential to achieve a five star status and it feel a little short. It was simple—almost too simple we decided. Upon reflection, we would have loved to add some red onion, Kalamata olive or maybe a falafel. It just could have been a little more dressed up and exciting, but it was incredibly tasty and a solid meal.

We are heading from our perch in the Persian Gulf, leaving our island kingdom of Bahrain to venture to the jungles of Africa next weekend. We are looking forward to seeing what kinds of culinary trouble we can get ourselves into in Madagascar for week #38!

When in doubt always add more butter!
– L & K

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#36: Bolivia

Buenas Tardes!

Hope you’re finding your New Years resolutions easier to stick to than in years past. I hope you never miss an opportunity to not act your age, jump on absolutely every trampoline you encounter and put those extra marshmallows in your hot coco in 2015. Life’s exciting when you allow yourself to enjoy it. We are enjoying taking a trip to South America this weekend– we feel like flying south for this wintery week is a good call…as long as we can make it back for the Bronco’s playoff game that is 😉

THE DINNER: Something cool I learned in researching Bolivian culture this week was that people use BOTH their maternal and paternal surnames! Which, as a woman, I think is really cool and whether they know it or not, super progressive. I dig that. Cuisine in the region, is not surprisingly Spanish in it’s derivation with local Aymara ingredients from their indigenous roots. They also, later in their country’s history, started to be influenced by German, Italian and Argentinian foods and cultures.

After last week’s dud, we were a little gun shy picking a recipe for this week. We settled on Silpancho which is a traditional meal from the city of Cochabamba. It’s pretty much the Bolivian take on a casserole or even a meat loaf. It’s traditionally topped with fried eggs… which was music to my ears! I mean, who are we kidding, yolks make everything infinity better. It can also be topped with pico for a veggie take or for those poor unfortunate souls that don’t care for eggs. Another variation is to serve it in a sandwich which changes the name is the dish to Trancapecho and makes it more of a moveable feast.

Silpancho Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/silpancho-traditional-bolivian-meal-306949?oc=linkback

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: One and a HALF STARS out of five this Dinner!
This week was very simple. Thankfully. We had a whole lot going on n Brovskyland so it was almost a no-country-weekend, actually. But this was so easy-peezy, we couldn’t resist. It was really simple. If anything it’s a juggling act to make sure everything is timed properly so that it’s all hot together and all done together. Beyond that, it was really a classic meat and potatoes sort of meal with the Latin flair of  pico.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR and a HALF STARS out of five for Dinner.
If last week was “heartbreaking” this week was “phenomenal”! We were so pleased to discover that there was nothing holding us back from a four and a hlaf start review…we had to reel ourselves in a bit actually, as we wanted to get star happy after such a let down in week #35. It was just like a Bolivian take on chicken fried steak… with the glorious addition of a creamy, rich egg yolk and some red onions/pico de gallo. It was delightful. It merried well together. It maybe could have been more spicy, even for my taste, but it was solid. We are glad to have this one again. Hopefully soon. Did I mention the egg yolk, guys… let me beat a dead horse there, anyway– it was utterly magical.

We have successfully deemed ourselves the comeback kids. We will keep this momentum spiraling into our week #37 visit to Bahrain! So pack your sunscreen for the middle east, it’s going to be an adventure as always!

Have a great week!
– L & K

#35: South Africa

Auld Lang Syne!

“May old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind!” Happy 2015, fellow foodies!
We sincerely hope that the New Year is finding you well and healthy! I’m not sure what your new resolutions are for the coming 365, but I know for some of you it might be as simple as trying to be more adventurous. We would like you to consider the food you eat as a place you could easily be more adventurous! So much can happen in the course of a year, we are looking forward to what this one brings us all.

THE DINNER: Kicking off 2015 with the usual Brovsky bang, we wanted to pick a country that a little eclectic and fun. A very dear friend of mine has recently started seeing a gentleman from South Africa and she is currently visiting there to meet his family and see his home. I was excited about this and when I read up on native cuisine, I found that the nation is known as “rainbow cuisine” because it is so varied and spectacularly different from other African nations.  There’s Cape Cuisine (seafood based), Indian Cuisine (which is like their neighbors across the Indian ocean), Indigenous Cookery (native people’s cuisine, much like other African nations surrounding it), Settler’s Cookery (which is British and Greek and French all rolled into one as it’s from the nation’s rulers over the years). It’s basically everything, but in that way it’s completely unique.

We settled on Boerewors Sausage which is traditionally served on buns or rolls with either stone ground mustard and fried onions or fire roasted tomatoes. Traditionally this sausage is put on the BBQ, but can also be fried. Each farmer’s wife has a coveted and family guarded recipe for their “wors” and it’s something of an unspoken running contest on who makes the best one in the town.

Boerewors Sausage Recipe: http://africhef.com/Boerewors-Recipe.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this Dinner! (But could easily be more like four)
Alright, so this one is tricky to rate difficulty. We did not case our sausage, as we do not have a sausage casing machine- so our ease of cooking was very minimal. We pan fried the sausage as opposed to BBQing due to the lack of casing. All that taken into account, we realize that if you were to case these puppies, it’ll significantly up the difficulty points. Overall, this meal was a 30 min love song to ease and prep.

Best dish of all time scale: ONE star out of five for Dinner.
Heartbreaking is the word I would use to describe this country’s meal. It had so much potential and so much going for it- you just wanted to root for everything to turn out as a wonderful masterpiece in act four. It did. not. It was horrible. In fact, it was agreed upon that this was the worst meal that we have shared on this adventure. It has won itself the lowest rating on our blog so far (yes, even lower than the three stars we gave the empanadas from Guatemala). And in retrospect, I almost want to give it no stars. It was that bad. I loved the texture of the meat mixture. I loved the crispy crust it made from frying. It smelled like heaven! The nail in the coffin was that the recipe called for TWO TABLESPOONS of salt. And it was like being a deer and running up to those salt licks on the trees… it was sooooo bad. We even used our usual low sodium bacon and meats because we really aren’t big salt people in Brovskyland. I was heartbroken and disappointed. We agreed that if we were to ever attempt this one again (which we are NOT keen on doing), we would completely eliminate all salt. Not even a pinch.

That sour taste left lingering on our pallets, we needed to get out of that hemisphere all together. We are getting away fro the continent of Africa and will be making our way to Bolivia next week to cook up what we hope will be a resounding victory… fingers crossed anyhow.

Currently drinking lots of water to get rid of that salt!!!
– L & K