Continuing with vegetarian cooking, I decided to make the Turkish dish Imam Bayildi for dinner. Imam Bayildi contains my favorite veggies – oven roasted tomatoes and eggplant as well as caramelized onions. Yum!
The name Imam Bayildi literally translates into “the imam fainted”. There are a couple of stories behind the name:
1) A Turkish imam swooned with pleasure at the flavor when presented with this dish by his wife and he fainted upon hearing the cost of the ingredients or the amount of oil used to cook the dish.
2) An imam married the daughter of an olive oil merchant and her dowry consisted of twelve jars of the finest olive oil, with which she prepared each evening in an eggplant dish with tomatoes and onions. On the thirteenth day, there was no eggplant dish at the table. When informed that there was no more olive oil, the imam fainted.
After a long vacation I am always excited to get back in the kitchen! After so much meat and seafood I was ready for a few days of vegetarian dishes and headed to My New Roots in search of a delicious fall dish. The Pumpkin Miso Broth with Soba caught my eye and didn’t disappoint. So delicious! In her recipe she recommends dried seaweed, but in Belgium it’s so easy to find different types of fresh seaweed – including my favorite, samphire – so nice and juicy!
The Majestic Café dates back to 1921 and still exudes a Belle Epoque-era ornate interior featuring carved wood, mirrors & chandeliers. The Majestic was a recommendation by someone we know from Porto, an old, beautiful café with a lot of history. I particulary liked the idea that JK Rowling spent a lot of time here writing the first Harry Potter book!
I was really excited to learn that São Miguel is home to the oldest tea plantation in Europe – Gorreana. When we arrived I discovered that there is actually a second smaller tea plantation – Porto Formoso. The two are the only tea plantations in all of Europe! I was even happier to learn they both had free entrance and we could explore and sample the teas!
When looking up the best restaurants for seafood in Lisbon, you’ll find SEA ME – a Portuguese/Japanese fusion restaurant in Chiado. Because we love Japanese food, we really wanted to visit SEA ME! We discovered the restaurant a bit late in the trip, but luckily were able to secure a reservation our last night in Lisbon. I knew already a bit about the Portuguese-Japanese connection, because I watched a documentary about tempura in Japan, that it was introduced in the 16th century by the Portuguese living in Nagasaki.
Sunday we headed to the neighborhood of Alcântara to check out the LXFactory, a creative island in a factory setting with cool shops, restaurants, and galleries. Because it was Sunday, we were also able to see the weekly flea market. We loved walking around the photogenic LXFactory and enjoying all of the art.
View of the city of Azenhas do Mar – taken by our Tuk Tuk driver 🙂
Portugal is famous for its seafood and Sintra is no exception. So to conclude our day trip, after researching and asking friends, we decided on Azenhas do Mar. To our surprise this is the name of both the restaurant and the city! So when we asked our Tuk Tuk driver to take us here he looked at us very weirdly and said it’s two towns away. But luckily he lives closeby and we negotiated a price and off we went! He happily let us know that after dropping us off he could just go home and not work the evening shift.
After exploring Quinta da Regaleira, I was really craving a cup of coffee and sweets. Before heading to the Pena Palace, we decided to head back in town and try to find a cafe that wasn’t too crowded. We thought heading up hill was the best bet and spotted a cute yellow cafe with a huge line at the to-go counter but almost no one in the dining area. Perfect!
For my birthday lunch we headed to Gent to eat at the 2 Michelin star Vrijmoed. Koen and I were both really excited to try the vegetarian menu, which was awarded Best Veggie Menu Benelux 2016 and 2017 by Gault Millau. And of course we ordered an extra dessert – the Stilton “sorbet” which was awarded dessert of the year 2017 by Gault Millau. So many award winning dishes to taste!
As I mentioned in the Dishoom and Ghymkhana posts, this trip to London is all about Indian food! A few months ago I was at a lunch with an Indian family living in London and I asked for her list of best Indian restaurants. She gave me a list of 10 and I couldn’t wait for my next trip to London! Second to check off the list – Indian Accent!