Thursday, June 25, 2009

BBQ "Chicken" Pizza & Leffe Tripel

I have been a bit of a mini pizza kick lately and been trying to incorporate more of the fake meat products I find at the Migros. This recipe uses the fake chicken bits by the company Quorn. I have also been trying to use up our imported products like the BBQ sauce we bought in Manhattan. This recipe is simple and delicious and completely made in the toaster oven and stovetop.

Ingredients Assembled and Ready To Go


Quantities and Measurements for these items are all up to your tastes!

1. Pre Made Pizza Dough ~ or if you have the time you can make it from scratch.
2. Fake Chicken (or real chicken cooked thru on the stovetop)
3. Red Onions for Caramelizing
4. Mozzarella
5. BBQ Sauce of your choosing
6. Fresh Cilantro or Coriander, chopped. This is a key ingredient to the flavor!

(Ignore the tomatoes ~ I didn't end up using them, but you can if you wish)


1. Slice and caramelize red onions. This will take awhile so you want to get it started before anything else. Also, if your using real chicken, it would be a great time to sauté them. Bonus: you could marinate real chicken and bbq them on a grill for a smokey flavor. You could also use leftover BBQ chicken for this easy pizza.

2. Cut dough into rounds and par-bake; aka half bake.

3. Mix "chicken" bits with BBQ sauce

4. Spread BBQ Sauce like you would a pizza sauce on rounds

5. Top with caramelized onions

6. Top with "chicken" mixture

7. Top with mozzarella slices

8. Tope with cilantro and dab more BBQ sauce on top

9. Bake till it looks like melty goodness. Enjoy with a nice cold beer! My choice was Belgium Leffe Tripel!

Before they went into the oven

Post Oven Gooey-Goodness

BBQ and Pizza enjoyed with Leffe Tripel
Tripel Style, 8.1%
Brewed by Abbey De Leffe in Belgium

We have previously tried another style from Leffe, and really enjoyed this one. Leffe is readily available in lots of stores all over the US, CoOp's in CH, and E'LECLERC stores on the French side of the border.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Super Bock

The mainstream everyday beer of Portugal. Available at almost every establishment.
Brewed By Unicer
We tried the Classic 5.6% and Stout 5% Varieties.
The stout had an interesting sour note to it and the classic was a lager and very drinkable.


German Bio Beer in Portugal

We ate lunch in Lisbon at a vegetarian place in the downtown area called MegaVega. Rob had a beer and it was all organic. Actually, almost everything in that place was organic. I have never eaten so many edible flowers on my salad, but that's another story.

Neumarkter Lammsbrau Edel Pils
German Organic Pilsner 4.8%


Lisbon, Portugal

The number of weekend's we have left open in Europe is winding down. This past one we spent in Lisbon, Portugal. We took the low cost carrier Easyjet which offers pretty cheap airfare but with less service and organization then Southwest. There were boarding groups "Easy Boarding", "A", and "B". But there were no lines or signs to indicate where you should stand. A general observation is that most Europeans don't seem to grasp the concept of a queue. Every situation we have been in that it would have been polite to stand in line, people rush in a crowd with no organization and try to take the best of what they can get. It was aggravating to say the least. There are no assigned seats so it was first come first serve.

Once in Portugal, we discovered that our bank back home had shut off our bank cards and there was no hope for reactivation. We literally had 30 euros in our wallets so we spent several hours in the airport after we landed on Skype, the internet, and at Western Union. Rob's dad helped us out and we finally got money for the weekend. The weekend was off to a rough start.

We had read about taxi drivers scamming tourists so we decided to buy a taxi voucher at the information booth at the airport. She warned us it might be 5 euros more then the regular rate of a taxi, but we bought it anyway. We are glad we did since our B&B was hard to find in the Bairro Alto district of town and the driver had to ask a couple of other taxi drivers and locals how to get there. I couldn't imagine trying to explain this to him without the voucher lady at the airport helping us out. We did find out though on our taxi ride back to the airport to leave that we paid almost twice as much then the actual cab far would have been. 10 Euros compared to 20 Euros.

We were very pleasantly surprised at the niceness of the bed and breakfast! It was a 7 room place decorated very modern. It was run by Alex and Vasco and their adopted 8 month old son (from the states!) Edgar. They had 3 sweet dogs running around the place who listened well and were very friendly to pet. The breakfast was the best euro style breakfast I have ever had. The bread was nice and fresh and the preserves were home made. I also think the OJ was fresh squeezed! If you are ever in Lisbon, you have to stay here! Casa De Bairro. They have only been open for 2 months but have skyrocketed to 2nd place in Trip Advisor. Our air conditioning was on the fritz, but we had been warned before we stayed and received a discount rate for putting up with it.

We took it easy in Lisbon and didn't try to run around and see everything we could and just tried to stay cool. It was 36 C most of the weekend so we actively tried to walk on the shaded sides of streets and took many breaks. We saw a lot of sights including the downtown area, the castle, bairro alto, chiado, maritime museum, jeronimos monastery, santa justa elevator, had custard tarts in belem, and drank lots of port at the port wine institute.

If you are planning a trip we recommend the following:

1. The port wine institute where we sampled fantastic white ports, tawny's, and ruby's. We were also introduced to as yummy creamy sheep's milk cheese.
2. Taking the ferry across the river to Caclihas and having some authentic Portuguese seafood. The ferry only cost 4 Euros for two round trip tickets. We didn't try the Caracois but many people were eating them.

Santa Justa Elevator - connecting the downtown to Bairro Alto

Classic Tiled Building

At the maritime museum. A royal barge.

White Sangria

Special Rice with Fish - YUMMY

Typical Street with a yellow tram

View from park at the top of the hill from our B&B. See the "golden gate" behind?

Port Wine Institute with a Tawny from 1980.

Antiga Confeitaria de Belem - Custard Tarts Since 1841!!!

Jeronimos Monastery - There was a wedding going on inside!

For the rest of our pictures.... click here.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Istanbul ~ Street Food!

What would a vacation be is without sampling some of the street food! Here is what we came across in Istanbul. There are a ton of doner kebab vendors and each with differant kinds of meats and preperations. My favorite was the Durom Doner which the best way to describe it as a Turkish Burrito. The fillings are placed in a very thin flour like wrap that was a bit stretchy and not brittle like a tortilla can be. Kebab meat (chicken or lamb) is scrapped off and the rest of the burrito is filled with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and sometimes french fries. All for 3 Lira.... good deal! Pictures of more food below!

WTF? El Torito? Well, at least they were selling "Dondurma" the Turkish elastic ice cream made with wild orchid tubers. It can stretch up to 2' long! There are a lot of dondurma vendors and most of them have bells above the ice cream containers and they ring them to attract tourists. It was hot, but we resisted the urge to eat some.

"Simit" ~ basically a pretzel with sugar or sesame seeds. Yummy.

Corn - Roasted or Boiled. 1 Lira. Available everywhere. Your going to need a toothpick after this one.

Fish Sandwich off the boats at Eminonu. The ultimate and cheap Turkish fast food.

The pickle juice to go with it.

Eating pierside with the locals.

Below ~ some videos of the crazyness! The boats are rocking and fish smells yummy!


Istanbul ~ Part 2 ~ Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and Topkapi Palace

We spent Sunday seeing the sights and relaxing. We ate street food most of the day and took many breaks on park benches and gazed at the water.

The Blue Mosque was first after strolling by the Hippodrome Square containing the Egyptian Obelisk, Serpentine Column, and Hippodrome. We both had never been in a mosque before so the experience of covering my head and taking off our shoes was a new one. The place has pretty plush carpeting and the walls and ceilings are covered in beautiful blue iznik tiles. They kept tourists behind a small wooden gate separating the worshipers from visitors. I overheard a tour guide saying there is markings in the carpet to show worshippers how to line up and keep proper spacing. The women's section was in the back (behind the visitor section) so that they can prey and show modesty. *me rolling eyes* The blue mosque has six minarets where the call to prayer is announced from. Legend has it that the architect misheard "six" instead of "gold-capped" which altered the original design of only two minarets. The two words are "altin" (gold) and "alti" (six).

Hagia Sophia was right across the street and had a 20 Lira entrance fee! Ouch! It was worth it and was our favorite monument of the day. It was built in 537 and was a Christian church for many years. In the 15th century it was converted to a mosque. There is really so much history and stuff to see here I couldn't possible cover it all. The place is pretty photogenic and has nice natural lighting shining in from the galleries. The must see items in it are the weeping pillar which people touch for healing powers and the coronation square where the byzantines thought the center of the universe was! There are a lot of biblical mosiacs including ones with Jesus and Mary. Odd considering it has been a mosque for so long and Muslims don't like to adorne their places of worship with figures of people. (They believe it distracts from worshiping the big main god).

After lunch we spent our afternoon trying to find and strolling around the Topkapi Palace. Another 20 Lira each entrance fee. and this time we felt ripped off. The main sight to see there is the Harem where the sultan's wives lived but it was another 15 Lira fee! We skipped it even though the guide book told us it was a must! The palace property is pretty huge and is located right on the "Golden Horn". We took some pictures of Asia as we felt like we were standing on the edge or Europe. We saw some jewels and some clothes worn by the sultans, nothing to interesting. The only remotely interesting thing was there was a small portion of the palace that you couldn't take pictures in. It contained some Islamic holy items including an impression of Mohammaed's footprint, a tooth, and about 7-8 containers of his hair! Apparently, when he died he told people to distribute him around.......... and now some is locked up in glass for tourists to see. The other holy items were swords, koran locks, etc. At the end of this building was a guy live in the flesh just reading the koran page by page. He was sitting behind a desk with a microphone and two large monitors played the words in Arabic and English. It kinda creeped me out.

The rest of the evening was spent in Beyoglu which is easily accessible by Tram and Inclinator. It is modern shopping area of town with charming side streets full of places to eat, have a drink, or smoke hooka. Lots of brand names stores and very crowded! We had some dinner and strolled along back to the old city and to our hotel.

Hagia Sophia

Inside Hagia Sophia - Double Collumnade


Blue Mosque


Blue Iznik Tile Work at Topkapi Palace


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Turkish Efes Beer

In Turkey, the taps are dominated by Efes. Whenver you order a beer, this is what your getting. It is light crisp and refreshing. Not at all weak and watery. Perfect standard beer to appease all sorts of beer drinkers. Not too hoppy, not too dry, just perfect.

Efes Regular

Efes Dark

Pilsner Style, 5%


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Istanbul ~ Part 1 ~ Turkish Cooking Class, Egyptian Spice Market, and Grand Bazaar

There is so much to say about our trip to Istanbul it is going to be broken up into several blog posts. First it will be about our arrival, the cooking class and the egyptian spice market. Also it will be our fantastic fish dinner with locals Rob met for business and our adventure thru the Grand Bazaar. Next it will be on the major monuments/ tourist sights that are a must see! In between these posts I may throw in some beer and food posts to keep you salivating to go.

We took the long way. We first drove to Zurich, caught a flight to Amsterdam, and then caught a plane to Istanbul. We arrived at 1 AM just to sit on the plane for another half an hour when we landed. The airport health officials were copying health worksheets for the flu pandemic. They passed them out on the plane and we had to fill them out before we could exit the aircraft. Turkish officials met us directly outside the door to the airplane wearing masks and collecting the worksheets. Since the WHO (in Geneva of all places) declared swine flu a pandemic, the Turkish were taking it seriously.

We then had to buy visas for 15 euros each and proceed thru immigration. I smiled at the immigration guy to match my picture. He found it funny that this American was trying to match the picture and he laughed at me. A driver from the hotel was holding a sign with my name on it when we exited the baggage claim and we sleepily followed him to his van. This guy drove really really fast and once in a while would stop and yell things out the window to people he knew of the street. It was an odd late night experience for our arrival. Once we got to our hotel and the front desk guy gave us about a million brochures for tours, we finally got to bed about 2:30 AM. They upgraded our room to the only suite in the place and it had a humongous bed but only two pillows. Why have such a huge bed with so few pillows?

The next morning, after a quick hotel breakfast and little sleep, we wandered out to another part of the old city where we signed up for cooking classes. We took cooking classes in Thailand on our honeymoon and loved it so we were hoping for another great experience. The normal dutch expat instructor wasn't there so we had "Fayzi", one of the main local chefs to help teach. With his broken English he instructed us to chop, stir, and fry. It was quite a fun experience. We took the class with 4 other Americans all living abroad this year. One couple was from Germany and the other were two students finishing up a year in York, England. It was nice to chat with people who had such similar yet different experiences. We made a red lentil spicy bulgar soup, long beans, fried zucchini cakes, lamb stuffed eggplant, and dates stuffed with walnuts cooked in simple sugar. Delicious!

Afterwards the whole group walked together to the Egyptian Spice Market and split ways from there. I sampled some Turkish delights and we kept walking up to the Grand Bazaar. We lost ourselves in the bazaar and bought some things that fancied our eyes. There were rows and rows and rows of vendors all in this huge covered space. The center of the market is the oldest part and sells the true antiques. The covering is made of brick domes instead of tiles and painted other domes of the market. We found out that some Turkish people can haggle way better then the others and it coincided with how good of deals we made.

We headed back to our hotel to rest our feet before dinner. Rob and I were going out with some local people that his business is working with in Turkey. They picked us up and brought us to an authentic great fresh fish restaurant. We didn't have to do any ordering as they did it all. It had an amazing view of the Sea and the food was fantastic. They happened to know the owner and manager and I think we got extra taken care of. The mezes (small appetizers) were yummy and the fish was perfectly grilled. Rob joined in on the "Raki" drinks with dinner.l Raki is like the Turkish version of the Greek Ouzo. (spelling?) The liquor is poured into a glass and then water is poured on top. Magically, two clear substances make a white fuzzy colored drink which they top with ice. Tasted like anise seed and Rob found it refreshing.

It was late and we had a wonderful dinner and great company. Half the table only spoke Turkish so it was up to one guy to translate back and forth. He did a lot of talking!

Stuffed Eggplants

Turkish Cooking Class

Feyzi and Rob. Look at that big knife!

Turkish Delights at the Egyptian Spice Market. Free Samples!

Spices at the Spice Market.

For more pictures of our Istanbul trip, including pictures to be used in future posts of this trip, Click Here.

For more information about the cooking class we took, Click Here.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Istanbul (Not Constantinple) Lyrics

Guess where we are headed this weekend???

Enjoy the lyrics!

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you've a date in Constantinople
She'll be waiting in Istanbul

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

Istanbul (Istanbul)
Istanbul (Istanbul)

Even old New York was once New Amsterdam
Why they changed it I can't say
People just liked it better that way

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks

So take me back to Constantinople
No, you can't go back to Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Why did Constantinople get the works?
That's nobody's business but the Turks



Thursday, June 11, 2009


Trümmelbachfälle is a great place to visit when is it cloudy and rainy in the Lauterbrunnen valley. After you park and stroll to the wildflowers to the entrance you come to the ticket window. After you fork up 11 CHF each, you enter the park. In front is an inclinator (elevator) that is carved into the mountain taking you higher in elevation to see the top falls without breaking a sweat. Once high into the mountain, you get your first glimpse of the glacial runoff waterfalls that have carved their way into the mountain. The inclinator doesn't take you all the way up and some stairs need to be climbed to get to the top fall #10. It is a pretty easy but it can be wet! It is also really LOUD!. You are so close to the falls it is hard to hear each other. Look for the white arrows pointing out cool views that shouldn't be missed! The pictures we took don't do it justice, it is quite an experience! I always forget how nature can amaze me with its power unless I'm witnessing it first hand.

The sign along the road to let you know your there. Park!

Walking along the trail and gazing over the valley

Me too

One of the many cool views

Walking into the mountain. Don't hit your head! Low ceilings.

Some Movies Below!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bernese Oberland

This past weekend we finally got to use our camping gear. We headed up to the Bernese Oberland and past the touristy lake town of Interlaken into the Alpine village of Lauterbrunnen. The valley we stayed in is known for its 72 different waterfalls. Everywhere the mountain cliffs seemed to leak melted runoff from the glaciers. We set up camp there and went and explored the area. We camped a high amenity campground and got power brought into our tent so we could use Rob's laptop for light. We probably were one of 5 people at the entire campground in a tent and we probably had the smallest tent out of everyone. Most of the people who occupied the place were the Dutch! They all had huge trailers and seemed to be camping there for weeks! So many NL license plates! The campground has cabins to rent on a weekly basis and a hostel type large room bunks to rent as well. We braved the sprinkling rain and set up in our tent anyway.

After setting up camp, we went to see the Trummelback Falles (another post), Stechelberg, rode the telecabin to Murren, and hiked down to Gimmelwald. We had a terrific rosti dinner in the town of Lauterbrunnen and stopped at a few more local places to have a drink. The town was not overrun with tourists and all the building remained small and cozy. No big hotels and resorts here.

We did drive over to Grindelwald which is known for being a big tourist destination in the Alps. And it was overun with tourists. I can't imagine what it will be like in July/August! The two large peaks in the area to visit for panoramic views of the Alps are Schlithorn and Jungfrau. We didn't pay the money to go to the top of the peaks since it was cloudy and sprinkling. It isn't worth the trip up there when you will be among the clouds. It is possible to hike to the Schlithorn from Murren, but it will take you 5 hours to get there. The up side of the hike is that you save around 91 Euro doing it. It was soooo expensive to take the telecabin up, I could hardly believe it. If you stay for several days in the area and want to see everything, there is a 6 day pass available and you can ride whatever you want. There are lots of telecabins and trains that traverse the hills.

Sunday, when we did most of our hiking and picture taking, the weather had cleared up a little bit and more of the panoramic views starting to show. It was too much to really capture in the camera lense. We'll be back to this area for sure! n

Hiking from Murren to Gimmelwald

This cow took a break from eating among the wildflowers and posed for me.

Staubbachfall as seen from our campsite. We could hear it all night. Very soothing. There is a small trail that takes you up and behind the falling water within the rock cliff.

Careless cute mountain village of Murren.

Gnome fishing.

Didn't get the best lighting captured in the shot. But you get the idea, Grazing cows and an amazing panoramic view of the Alps.

Rob and I hiking from Murren to Gimmelwald.


European Cantaloupe

True Cantaloupe

I finally bought a true european cantaloupe a few weeks ago at the farmer's market. I have been excited to try this new melon since it is different then the North American "musk melon" which is sold as cantaloupe in the states. Notice the exterior of the European melon doesn't have the spidery web ribs like the musk melon and has a smooth exterior with green stripes. (More Information Here) The color is a bit darker and the one I bought seemed a bit sweeter. I hate buying pre cut up melons from stores in the US since the fruit seems to be water logged and tasteless. I paired the cantaloupe with some nice swiss "Heidi" brand prosciutto from the Migros. Very Italian summertime treat. Making it at home is SOOO much cheaper then ordering it at a bistro along the Mediterranean.

Dark Orange Inside & Paired with Prosciutto


About This Blog

Tina & Rob have relocated their lives to Geneva, Switzerland. This blog is a story of their adventure during the year and all the details inbetween.

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Finding Simplicity

Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; 
From discord find harmony; 
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein

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