Liven up Summer with Sauerkraut and Kimchi

Summertime is a great time to catch up with friends and family, the days are warm and long and it is ideal for entertaining.

Over this time I try and keep the fridge, pantry and freezer stocked with things that I know can easily be put together to form a meal that is a bit more interesting than the standard family fare.

Along with cheeses and dips, a jar of kimchi and sauerkraut can literally bring life to many dishes, adding a great zing of flavour, texture and also visually adding interest.

Here are some of our favourite ways over summer with sauerkraut and kimchi.


This feature is brought to you by Living Goodness, New Zealand-based creators of fermented, raw sauerkraut and kimchi.

At Living Goodness, we pride ourselves on making premium quality and tasty fermented
foods.

1. Finger food e.g canapés can be easily put together with a few essential ingredients on hand.  Brush sliced baguette with olive oil and then grill to make bruschetta.  Top this with your favourite cured meats e.g. prosciutto or salami or smoked salmon and a dollop of sauerkraut.

2. Hot Smoked Salmon Canapes 
on blinis are also made even tastier with a sprinkle of sauerkraut.  We like Living Goodness Hearbeet for this one, beetroot and salmon are a great combination. The sour flavour of the kraut balances the richness of the salmon beautifully.

3. Pig in Blankets are always a party favourite.  Try wrapping (sausage roll style) chunks of cooked German style sausage such as bratwurst in butter puff pastry with some wholegrain mustard and a drop of sauerkraut.  Brush the outside with egg and sprinkle with a few caraway seeds.  Bake at 200 C until puffed and golden.

4. Bite sized Pinwheel sandwiches are another canapé idea, made with thinly sliced cured deli meats, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a little chopped gherkin.  Secure with a toothpick if necessary.

5. Kimchi Dip is ridiculously simple and perfect for summer holidays.  Mix 250g cream cheese, sour cream or mayo with about 1/3 cup Living Goodness kimchi (more or less to taste).  Mix well or pop in the blender for a quick whizz, taste and add a dash of fish sauce if you want to.  Rip open a bag of chips or crackers and you are there!

6. Devilled eggs are great for picnics and also parties.  Scoop yolks from halved boiled eggs, mash with Kewpie mayonnaise (Japanese) and then stir through chopped kimchi.  Stuff this mixture back into the whites and arrange on a platter with a small pinch of kimchi on top of each.

7. A healthy and nutritious summer dinner is easily made by combining cooked quinoa, flaked meat/fish (or slices of tempeh), salad leaves, kimchi, sliced radish and some toasted seeds to garnish.

8. New potatoes and summer go hand in hand and with that we all love a good potato salad.  Add some flavour, colour and texture interest to your next potato salad with a couple of spoonfuls of sauerkraut mixed through. You can of course give your potato salad a pretty pink hue by using Kimchi instead.

9. Sauerkraut is actually great in so many salads, pep up your coleslaw with some sauerkraut or chopped kimchi and a simple salad of baby spinach leaves with toasted sesame seeds, sauerkraut and soy dressing is just delicious.

10. Fish tacos are popular all year round but even more so in summer when the days are hot and hopefully we have access to freshly caught fish.  With a jar of Living Goodness kimchi in the fridge your tacos will be even more flavoursome.

 

11. Kimchi juice from the jar is great for adding to a dressing such as this one with seared tuna.

12. Along with aioli, mayo, hummus etc… pop a jar or bowl of sauerkraut or kimchi out onto the table as a condiment at your next barbecue.

13. Simple Sausage Sizzles can be made extra tasty by serving beef sausages in a warm long white roll with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and sliced gherkin.  Finish off with mayo mixed with a little chopped dill (can be dried).   A Reuben sausage!

14. A Cheese Board with farmhouse cheeses and bread is made even better with the addition of sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is so often interchangeable with other pickles and sits so well on top of open sandwiches.

15. Grazing Platters are still in vogue this summer and adding some bowls of sauerkraut and kimchi amongst the cheese, meats, bread, crackers etc… all makes perfect sense.

16 green smoothie is a great place for some sauerkraut.  Pop it in with everything else and taste the flavour difference.

17 Lettuce cups are a perfect way to serve Asian style slow cooked pork and kimchi. High in flavour and low in carbs.

18.  Asian style Chicken Kebabs with Kimchi is fantastic.  Marinate the meat in soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, fish sauce, chilli etc… barbecue or pan fry, serve with rice on the side and a dollop of kimchi.

19.  Lucky enough to get your hands on some scallops this summer?  Flash them through a hot pan with a dash of oil and serve with a good pinch of kimchi on each – YUM!

20. So we all know that the best way to avoid a Hangover is not to drink in the first place.  However if that has already happened then you could follow the advice of many Russians and eat some sauerkraut.  At the very least the water and salts do help to hydrate.

Living Goodness Fermented Foods are sold around New Zealand.  Check out their stockist list to find your nearest retailer.

Random Act of Sweetness Month

 

November is Random Act Of Sweetness month and there are lots of reasons for you to make/bake/create delicious parcels of sweetness and gift them.
Aside from the fun and enormous feel good factor – whoever said it was better to give than receive, really did nail it – we also have some super good prizes that will be popping up for those who share the love across social media with a #randomactofsweetness
A big shout out to Anchor Dairy for sponsoring our feature and come and see the prizes (scroll to the bottom) courtesy of Anchor, Breville (new cake mixer anyone?) and more….

 

 

 

 

 

We know you will have your own favourite recipes but here are some of ours to get you started.

Chocolate Peppermint Slice
This is one of my most favourite treats.  It is a perfect mixture of crunchy chocolate base, peppermint filling and then a layer of dark chocolate on top….

 

 



Tan Square
has always been popular in our house.
It is possibly that my kids will grow up to remember this as the baking we always had and I too grew up in a house where tan square was a favourite.

 

 

Whether to top a Chocolate Afghan with a walnut or not can be polarising but the biscuits are anything but.  High in buttery sweet goodness with some crunch factor too, they are one of life’s delights.

 

 

Chocolate Raspberry Brownie combines delicious rich chocolate with the fresh taste of raspberry.  Visually pretty and a fabulous taste combination too, this brownie is great for afternoon tea or dessert with a dollop of ice cream on top.

 

 

Yo yo biscuits are perfect for gifting, you can make them tiny if you like and fill them with different icing flavours and colours.

 

 

 

Nellie’s Gingernuts have been a foodlovers favourite recipe for some years.  They are lovely and crisp so perfect with a cup of tea yet also have good snap factor.  The ginger flavour is great and once you have tried these it will be hard to go back to anything else!

 

As the festive season is just around the corner many of us start to think about shortbread, one of the most perfect of edible Christmas gifts.  I make mine at this time of year and freeze it.  Pull it out as needed and bake.

 

 

Chocolate Caramel Cracker Slice is certainly a real cracker.
It is so easy to make and so delicious.  I poached (with permission) the recipe from Tina Duncan in Christchurch as kept hearing from others how good it is.

 

Chocolate Weetbix Slice is another of those recipes that remains popular through the years.  I think it is the first recipe my kids learnt to bake and one that they still keep going back to.  Obviously the classic is just great but also worth trying is the Caramel Chocolate Weetbix Slice.

 

The first cake my kids ever baked was Chocolate Banana Cake and it is one that they regularly requested for birthday cakes.  I can’t say how many time I have made it but it would be close to 100.

 

 


Sticky Lemon Loaf is a great cup of tea kind of loaf.  The syrup makes it a wonderful moist loaf and it is one that is great for a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

Gluten free Chocolate Chip Cookies are as good as any others, absolutely no compromising with these ones!

 

 

 

 

Oaty Ginger Crunch started off life at the Wholemeal Cafe in Takaka but has found its way into kitchens around the country.  The oaty base makes it so much more interesting than the original although I wouldn’t say no to a slice of that either.

 

 

 

 

 

Caramel popcorn is great, right?  Try adding in chocolate and some nuts and you get an awesome mix of Caramel Chocolate Nut Popcorn that is just the thing to pop into a bag and deliver to a friend in need.

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we have masses more recipes here and these are just a few.
Our last idea for now is an Allsorts Unbaked Slice.  If unbaking sounds like you then also check out our Caramel No Bake Slice, Citrus Slice, Hedgehog Slice and of course Lolly Log.

 

What are your favourite recipes to gift?
#RandomActOfSweetness anyone?

We have these amazing prizes to randomly give to those who bake/create and post an image on social with the #RandomActOfSweetness hashtag

1 x Breville Bakery Boss bench mixer (valued at $839.95)
2 x Breville Mix & Store Hand Mixers (valued at $94.95 each)
3 x Magnolia Kitchen Baking Books
1 x $100 New World Voucher
4 x Henergy Cage-Free Egg Vouchers for 1 dozen eggs

*All prizes will be allocated by December 3rd 2019.
Prizes delivered to NZ addresses only and sorry but we can’t send the fabulous Breville mixer to an RD address so need an alternative.

October 2019

There are so many things to love about spring with strawberries and asparagus being top of my list.
A party in New Zealand just wouldn’t be the same without a chicken sandwich and nearly everyone I know has a recipe or knows of one that is simply the best.  We decided to get some of these ideas together for our Best Chicken Sandwich feature.  There are also a few jars of mayo and aioli up for grabs, courtesy of our good friends at Best Foods.
Bookings have started to come in for my Tour of Mexico, leaving late April 2020.  I know this will be amazing as Mexico is a country of wonderful flavours, sites and experiences.
Happy Cooking!

How to Make the Best Chicken Sandwich

 

New Zealanders have long had a love affair with party style chicken sandwiches and I am almost thinking that we can call them our own.  By using the term “party style” I am meaning the type of elegant chicken sandwich that is produced at cocktail parties as opposed to the one that is packed into a lunch box.

This feature is kindly brought to you by Best Foods™, makers of mayonnaise and also garlic aioli.
New Zealand’s favourite mayonnaise is made with real, simple ingredients: eggs, oil and vinegar. Best Foods™ is also committed to using certified cage-free eggs in our product

 

 

 

Pretty much everyone I know knows someone who makes THE BEST chicken sandwiches and I am told that I must get the recipe, so of course I do, but first things first.

The bread – sandwich sliced bread is, I think, unanimous.  The choice then lies between white, wheatmeal and multigrain with white coming out as a top choice.  Freshness is most important, with two friends saying that they will only buy bread on the day required and always from the bottom shelf in the supermarket bread aisle, as that is where the freshest bread is.  They check the expiry date.

The butter – most would agree that chicken sandwiches benefit from a thin spread of butter, this seals in the filling and prevents the bread from absorbing moisture and becoming soggy.

The chicken – probably the best chicken sandwiches are made from a roasted/rotisserie chicken where the crisp skin is chopped into the mixture.
Lauraine Jacobs, suggests roasting the chicken with “a very tasty herby stuffing”, this is chopped into filling as well.
Some others also suggest using the stuffing, whether it is homemade or from a store bought rotisserie chicken.

Mayonnaise – every chicken sandwich recipe I’ve seen includes mayonnaise, vital for moisture and also for flavour.  Best Foods Mayonnaise is a name that is repeated over and over again (which is why we invited them to sponsor this feature).
Recipes tend to use around 2/3 cup mayonnaise to 1 chicken.

Crunch – there is an expectation of some sort of crunch in a chicken sandwich with suggestions including celery, red onion, walnuts, pistachios, cashew nuts, pine nuts etc… (we did have one comment that pine nuts can go soft between sandwiches being made and then served).

What else – Other ingredients include; dried cranberries, rocket, mango chutney, tarragon, basil, parsley, basil, coriander, mint, chives.  All give flavour and the cranberries provide colour.

An electric knife is pretty much mandatory, nearly all party sandwiches are served crusts removed and to do this in any quantity without squashing the bread you will need an electric knife.  Failing this then use a very sharp serrated bread knife.

Damp paper towels are essential for keeping sandwiches fresh and soft.

PROPORTIONS

1 chicken = 2/3 cup mayonnaise = 1 3/4 loaves bread 
2 chickens = 1 3/4 cups mayonnaise = 3 1/2 loaves bread
These are approximates and based on buying a rotisserie chicken or size 14 chicken


THE FLAVOUR VARIATIONS

Di Eady’s reputation for amazing chicken sandwiches will be sure to live on through generations.  Her daughter Jo, shares these tips from Di;
Always used a roasted chook (chopped not shredded).
Mix with parsley, spring onion, chopped celery and salt.
Bind with Best foods mayonnaise and a sprinkle of the Masterfood’s steak pepper.
It is essential to have fresh bread bought on the day and an electric knife.
For a change Di would sometimes add the stuffing from cooked chook or add lemon zest and a little mint. Bread must be buttered. She liked to make the filling quite generous and cut them into triangles.

Di’s tip: Don’t be mean on the mayo!

Christine Horton and Di Eady were great friends and both famous for their chicken sandwiches.
Christine says;
Roasted chicken (cook in an oven bag) shredded
finely chopped celery
Best foods mayonnaise
Salt ( plenty ) pepper
finely chopped parsley
toasted pine nuts
Finely chopped spring onion
Electric knife essential!

Coronation chicken sandwiches are popular and vary from many of the usual chicken sandwich recipes.  Juliana Hilson’s chicken sandwiches are famous amongst her Christchurch friends.  The recipe is similar to Coronation chicken but with the absence of curry powder.  She adds mango chutney and also some chopped cashew nuts for crunch.
Juliana’s chicken sandwiches 

 

 

Jayne Morton is also known for her sandwiches to which she says;
I either poach chicken breasts or get a cooked chook.
I chop or break up all chicken and add:
Best foods mayo
Squeeze of lemon juice
Roasted pine nuts
Spring onion/ parsley/ chives/ mint ( whatever is around!)
Finely diced celery
Finely sliced iceberg lettuce
Cucumber ( if I have any!!)
salt and pepper

Penny Blundell’s chicken sandwiches are famous in Hawkes Bay where she is always asked to bring them to parties (even though she is renowned for being a great cook).

Penny says:
For a crowd l cook
1 chicken in a broth with herbs and spices.
Shred the chicken and add a bit of the broth.
Mix with Best foods mayonnaise (about 3/4 cup) and some cream (2-3 tablespoons)
curry powder
diced celery
coriander and or parsley
Spring onions
salt and freshly ground pepper.
Spicy chutney and sometimes a bit of chilli flakes for a bit of bite

Penny’s tip: Make the filling the day before you need it and then add more cream or mayo if too dry on the day.

Leanne Hegan’s chicken sandwiches get rave reviews.
She says she doesn’t pay too much attention to being specific with ingredient quantity and essentially it is;

2 rotisserie chicken, finely chopped
3 1/2 loaves sandwich sliced bread
1 3/4 cups Best foods mayonnaise (work out amount by looking at moisture content of filling).
1 red onion, finely chopped (not too big)
1-2 stalks celery, finely chopped
small handful parsley, chopped
small bunch chives, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Auckland Girls’ School St Cuthberts have a recipe in their cookbook that is named
“Best Chicken Sandwiches in the World.
These chicken sandwiches vary from those already mentioned else, using;
1 smoked chicken breast
1 can of reduced cream
1 tub of sour cream
1 packet of Maggi onion soup mix.
They also have a handful of mixed fresh herbs (parsley, dill, chives, chervil, coriander) and a good bunch of rocket leaves.
This makes enough for 1 loaf of sandwich bread.

One of my favourite fillings is
Chicken Pistachio and Avocado Sandwiches
with the pistachios offering crunch and the creaminess of the avocado making the sandwiches even more luscious.

 

Do you or someone you know make really good chicken sandwiches and if so what are your filling tips?

 

Thanks to our sponsors and  click here to enter your details for the chance to win a set of Best Foods™ Mayonnaise, Real Squeeze and Aioli.

 

 

Cathedral Cove Naturals Coconut Yoghurt

 

Cathedral Cove Naturals new Body Balance Coconut Yoghurts are deliciously nourishing, and full of prebiotics and probiotics to support good gut health to reinvigorate the body from within. They are made with all-natural ingredients, vegan and free from dairy, gluten, refined sugars, additives and preservatives.

Carefully designed by Hamish Pilkington, Cathedral Cove Naturals founder, every ingredient in the Body Balance Coconut Yoghurts is purposefully chosen to promote health and vitality, improve gut health and provide long-lasting energy. They supply healthy and satiating fats from coconut cream and are low in sugar.

Cathedral Cove Naturals probiotic coconut yoghurt is complemented by a nourishing blend of Chia seeds which provides prebiotic fibre, plant-based protein, Omega-3 fatty acids (known for their anti-inflammatory effects), and overall providing a long, slow release of energy, to keep blood-sugar levels stable.  Body Balance Coconut Yoghurts come in two flavours Raspberry and Chia, and Mango, Passionfruit and Chia and are the perfect choice for adding a summery touch to spring; with all flavours coming from 100% real fruit. Both make for a deliciously nourishing, sustaining breakfast served with Cathedral Cove Naturals Cereals and fruit; great for pre or post gym workout, desserts, or simply enjoyed by the spoonful.

Body Balance Natural Yoghurts are produced in small batches to ensure the products are consumed at their optimal and most nutritional stage. All ingredients are responsibly sourced to bring you natural and honest products, giving you the best start to your day!

Sustainability has always been a strong priority with Cathedral Cove Naturals, with a focus to bring consumers food in its most natural form.  The Cathedral Cove Naturals product range all come in recyclable and reusable glass jars to aid in minimising plastic in New Zealand’s oceans and landfills. Available in 300g glass jars (RRP $6.00) available at all Countdown supermarkets, and participating New World, Pak’N Save, Four Square, health food and specialty stores nationwide.

Cathedral Cove Naturals is a NZ owned family business, founded by Hamish Pilkington in 2000. Hamish was involved in the family organic macadamia farm in the Coromandel Peninsula before branching out on a quest for a healthier lifestyle for his family and himself. He began developing his own natural cereals and coconut yoghurts at home because he struggled to find delicious products with all-natural ingredients; containing no gluten, dairy or preservatives. The reaction to the products from friends was so enthusiastic he began to manufacture on a larger scale to meet the demand for mouth-watering nourishing natural products.

 

Best Foods Mayonnaise and Aioli

Best Foods™, makers of mayonnaise and also now garlic aioli.
New Zealand’s favourite mayonnaise is made with real, simple ingredients: eggs, oil and vinegar.
Best Foods™ is also committed to using certified cage-free eggs in our product

 

 

To enter into the draw to win one of 8 sets containing;
235g Best Foods Garlic Aioli
405g Best Foods Mayonnaise
340ml Best Foods Real Squeeze Mayonnaise.

Simply fill in your details below.

    Prize to be delivered to NZ address only. Competition open to NZ residents.

 

Kiwi Pineapple Lump Slice

There are so many variations on this classic unbaked slice which is also almost the same as lolly cake/log.  Really like this idea of using chopped pineapple lumps.
You could just use a regular icing sugar chocolate icing instead of melted chocolate.
At room temperature the pineapple lumps are chewy and when refrigerated are crunchy.

No Bake Caramel Slice

With its caramel biscuit base and smooth caramel chocolate top this slice is a complete winner.
It is so simple to make that the kids can do it themselves.
Change out the biscuits in the base to suit yourself, I personally like malt for colour and flavour but any other plain sweet biscuit would work.

 

Deliciously Gooey Caramel Meringue Slice

This slice is essentially Louise Cake without the raspberry jam and with the addition of a whopping great layer of caramel.  Yum!
It is seriously delicious and well worth making.
Yes the caramel layer is thick, you can reduce it if you prefer but we like it just like this.

Foodlovers Mexico Tour with Helen Jackson

Our Mexico trip in 2019 was so much fun with amazing food, awesome sights, so much colour, a bit of dancing and great people,  so good that I really want to do it again!
I also need another excuse to practice my very basic Spanish!
This will be my 3rd trip to Mexico and even though this year was wonderful, I know that this next trip is going to be even better as I have tweaked it all yet again.
Group size is small – maximum 10. We travel in a Mercedes type small bus, just perfect for our group.
Our Mexican guide is just adorable, he has a wonderful sense of humour, loves to sing and works tirelessly to make sure everything is perfect.
This trip is queue free, easy travel, we are whisked past the crowds and everything is planned seamlessly to give you a stress free holiday!

“The itineraries that Helen comes up with always have a lovely balance between sightseeing/cultural/ culinary activities and periods of relaxation coupled with some free time for shopping etc. Helen also tries to get away from the usual tourist traps and seeks out more authentic experiences.”

Shelley (4x traveller with Helen)


Price $7690  p/p (twin share in NZ$)

What to look forward to:

    • Stay at charming 5* boutique hotels plus one eco hotel
    • Explore the old and new of Mexico
    • Snorkel with giant sea turtles
    • Visit stylish Roma in Mexico city, made famous by the film of the same name.
    • See a selection of Frida Kahlo and Rivera Diego art
    • Visit the home of Frida Kahlo
    • Explore the charming and colourful towns of Oaxaca and Puebla
    • Learn to make Mole in Puebla
    • Hit the beach (and the shops) in Tulum
    • Eat amazing food.
    • Sip mojitos made with fresh sugar cane & limes
    • Experience a walking food tour in both Mexico City and Oaxaca. One being new food the other more traditional.

“Helen is well organised and very obliging to accomodate everyone on her tours. Because of her friendly nature she has a good relationship with the guides in the countries being visited which in turn makes the trips more enjoyable. I now consider her a very good friend.”
Kate (3 x traveller with Helen)

Day 01/Sunday 26th April. 

MEXICO CITY
Late arrival into Mexico City (flight arrives in around 11.30pm). Our guide will be at the airport to meet us and then transfer us to our charming hotel – The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico (to be confirmed closer to the time).

Day 02/ Monday 27th April. 
MEXICO CITY

In the morning after a hotel breakfast we will head out on a walking tour in the Historic Centre of the City, including some of the most important sights around “El Zocalo”, the heart of the city. Today, you will get to soak up the atmosphere of one of the world’s biggest cities!
We will visit the Metropolitan Cathedral – one of the oldest and largest of the Americas, and (if open due to Federal agenda) the National Palace – home of the famous murals of Diego Rivera. You will also see the ruins of the Templo Mayor – an important temple of the Aztecs in their ancient capital city of Tenochtitlan.

Lunch at El Caifan, a local ‘taqueria’ to taste delicious dishes, like ‘tacos al pastor’. We continue our walking tour, visiting other Colonial buildings, like the Fine Arts National Palace, the Palacio Postal (a ‘must’ visit, due to its interior beauty), as well as some alleyways.
There will be time to freshen up at the hotel before dinner.
Knowing that most of us will be feeling a bit weary we will head out for an early dinner at one of the oldest, most popular and classic salones, Salon Corona. Founded in 1928, it has been a reunion place for many generations. They offer many delicious dishes and drinks to choose from!

After dinner, return to hotel.
Overnight: The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico (tbc)
Meals: B/L/D

Day 03/Tuesday 28th April
MEXICO CITY

After breakfast, we start our day with an early visit to the Central de Abastos. This produce wholesale market, the world ́s largest of its kind, where you can literally find all the ingredients that mark Mexican cuisine. The market is overwhelming by its size and amount of extraordinary produce.

Next stop of the day is Coyoacan, a beautiful and tranquil quarter of the city, with Colonial architecture and the atmosphere of a small bohemian quarter. It was the first seat of the Spanish Government, established by Hernan Cortes in 1521.
In Coyoacan we will visit Frida Kahlo’s house, known as “La Casa Azul” (Blue House).
In this adobe painted blue house, the famous modernist Frida was born and she lived here for 25 years with her husband, the muralist, Diego Rivera. Artworks, as well as unique pieces of folk art and dresses belonging to Frida Kahlo are on display here.
Lunch will be in Coyoacan.
Next stop is Colonia Roma- Condesa, (think of the film Roma) two cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, one of the most vibrant areas of the city, full of new gastronomic developments, such as Mercado Roma, Food Trucks, and trendy restaurants and bars. Time to walk & shop.
At Mercado Roma we might sit for a while to enjoy a refreshing drink prepared with ‘chile ancho’ liquor with fresh grapefruit juice (excellent!), a one of kind sorbet or a delicious fresh brewed coffee.
Early in the evening we meet to start our ‘modern Mexican chef culinary adventure’. A unique way to submerge into the modern-cosmopolitan Mexican cuisine, which is quite different from the street-food culture (no ‘tacos’ tonight).
We  will savour unique food & drink specialties prepared by creative Mexican chefs with  Mexican ingredients. The tour is approximately 3 hours and involves tastes and sips in various reputable restaurants.
We finish up in the heart of Colonia Roma and then return to our hotel.
Overnight: The Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico
Meals B/L/D

DAY 4 | WEDNESDAY 29th APRIL

MEXICO CITY TO TONANTZINTLA AND PUEBLA.

Today we leave Mexico City behind and travel the scenic road to Puebla, Mexico’s fourth largest city.  Enroute we will pass the photogenic snow-capped volcanoes Popocatepetl (Smoking Mountain, 5464m) and Iztaccihuatl (Sleeping Lady, 5230m).
We visit Santa Maria Tonantzintla with its gorgeous temple decorated by indigenous people. Next we continue to Puebla, one of Mexico’s culinary capitals, Puebla is especially famous for its ‘mole poblano.
We will also visit the famous Talavera Pottery Atelier “Uriarte”. This is the biggest ceramic factory in Latin-America that exports the exclusive and renowned Talavera pottery to the world. The beautiful Talavera pottery is symbolic, which makes and defines Puebla inhabitants, as well as their culture & traditions.

After lunch, we have a walking tour in Puebla to explore the beautiful historic centre of the city, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site. Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral, and the breathtaking ‘Capilla del Rosario’ in the Santo Domingo Church.
In the afternoon we will have some free time to further explore the city, before going to our Boutique Hotel Meson Sacristia. 
Here at the hotel we have our Mexican cooking class, watching how the make the world-famour ‘mole poblano”. We get to enjoy the mole poblano for dinner with some sides as well.
Overnight: Boutique Hotel Meson Sacristia.(tbc)
Meals: B/L/D

DAY 5 | THURSDAY 30th APRIL 

PUEBLA TO OAXACA

Morning transfer from Puebla to Oaxaca. Upon arrival, you will see why Oaxaca is considered one of Mexico’s most beautiful colonial cities. Oaxaca’s colourful historic centre has been well preserved and it has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Check-in at the hotel, freshen up and then on we go to visit the renowned artist Francisco Jesus Hernandez Perez. This is walking distance from our hotel and we will have the opportunity to chat with him and have a closer look to his little shop and interesting collage art.

We have a walking tour through the pedestrian roads surrounding the Santo Domingo Temple & Museum quarter, a lovely area to shop or simply enjoy the ambience.
For lunch we enter a close by ’loncheria’ or restaurant to have something tasty. We continue our walking tour in the Santo Domingo area.

Early in the evening we meet our local expert guide Nora, with whom we will experience an amazing walking dinner tour through different local stands, tasting many delicious finger foods, like ‘tortas, esquites, elotes, quesadillas’ and other street-food-delicacies.
When the group is ready, we walk to the trendy minimalistic restaurant ‘La Olla’ with its lovely rooftop with great evening views! Here, we will share some time enjoying local mezcal cocktails accompanied by salt & sweet finger food specialties to the centre of the table. Our hotel is just over the road.
Hotel: Quinta Real Oaxaca (tbc)
Meals: B/L/D

DAY 6 | FRIDAY 01st MAY
OAXACA

This morning we visit the town of Coyotepec, famous for its ceramics production, mostly made from black clay “barro negro”, among other types. We will learn about the different stages, from design to production. We return to the city and the Zocalo (main square) of Oaxaca. This is the starting point of our walking tour on this quarter of the city. We will visit the local markets, with plenty of time to look around, shop, explore and get adventurous tasting many delicious ingredients and foods. Lunch at the market, so we have all time necessary to enjoy this magical place, while shopping, or shopping while eating. Any way you want to experience the ‘mercado’, it is an excellent opportunity to submerge in the local culture and folklore. Oaxaca’s markets are Mexico’s most interesting places to visit.
We will meet at a fish & seafood Restaurant ‘La Red’ (The Net) in the historic centre for dinner. In the evening we can wander in the main plaza enjoying its’ charm. Perfect ambient and mood to sit by the arches of the Zocalo to drink a beer and watch the locals dance!
Hotel Quinta Real Oaxaca (tbc)
Meals B/L/D
** Please note: tomorrow morning, after breakfast, we leave Oaxaca to travel to Merida. Make sure to pack all your belongings.

DAY 7 | SATURDAY 02nd MAY
OAXACA TO MERIDA (a flight)


In the early morning we will take a snack box breakfast and transfer to Oaxaca Airport to fly to Merida (with a necessary connecting flight in Mexico City). Upon arrival in “The White City”, (approximately 12.30pm) we transfer to the hotel to register and get ready for our walking city tour. Merida is a gracious modern yet traditional city, with impressive Colonial architecture, a delicious gastronomy, and a strong influence of Mayan heritage. Merida is the capital and largest city in the Yucatan state, as well as the cultural and financial capital of the region. The city boasts the second-largest historic centre in Mexico; only Mexico City’s historic centre is larger. As a result of its strong Spanish influence and isolation from other parts of Mexico, Merida developed a very particular cultural identity and pride. The unique traditions and culture we will have the chance to experience while staying in Merida, are overwhelmingly visible in the local dresses, mainly with women, language, cuisine and celebrations. We will tour through the most representative sites in the ‘White City’. The city of Merida was founded by the Spanish military explorer Francisco de Montejo in 1526. In the main plaza, we will visit the Cathedral, Casa de los Montejo (Museum & Cultural Center), pass by the Government Palace and visit the Town Hall. Today, we will learn a lot about Merida. This trip is for sure a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the city in a different way. During the walking tour, a chocolate store (Ki’Xocolatl) is always a great stop to rest and drink an original cocoa beverage, either cold or hot.
We will have lunch in the downtown area.

There will be some time out late afternoon for a siesta or swim.
We will meet and walk to the restaurant for dinner.
After dinner we walk to the square and have a delicious sorbet at ‘Dulcería y Sorbetería Colón by the cathedral.
Hotel: La Mision De Fray Diego (tbc)
B/L/D

DAY 8 | SUNDAY 03rd MAY
MERIDA CITY
, ALL YOURS TO EXPLORE

Breakfast at hotel.
Enjoy a day to explore Merida City. The central area is very safe and it is so easy to find your way around.

Some of the more picturesque streets are closed to traffic this morning, there are bicycles to rent everywhere (or you might like to walk) and you can make your way around the city without worrying about traffic.
There is also a local Sunday market at the Plaza Grande where you can easily find a lunch/dinner spot although there are also plenty of other cafe options.

Often in Merida there is an option to go to a symphony orchestra or see a ballet.
I will assist with any specific requests.
NB: Hammocks are from Merida so this is the place to buy one if that is what you are looking for.
Hotel: La Mision De Fray Diego (tbc)
B


DAY 9 | MONDAY 04th MAY 

MERIDA TO CHICHEN-ITZA


Breakfast at hotel. Please make sure you have your swim suits in your hand luggage.
In the morning, before leaving our first visit of the day is just great, to a local chocolate factory! Founded 12 years ago by Chef Patrik, born in France, he speaks seven languages, travelled the world, until he decided to settle in Merida. Chef Patrik changed the classic chocolate taste and presentation into more than 30 varieties of flavours, with ginger, oregano, chile, vegan… he puts all his passion and love into this delicious and fantastic art of chocolaterie using organic ingredients, as well as pre-Hispanic preparation technics to cultivate, toast, grind over stone tablets and process the cacao seeds/grains. Chocolate tasting is included!

We continue to another picturesque place, Izamal ‘magic town’, known also as the ‘Yellow Town’. Once we arrive in Izamal, we go on a walking guided tour.
Next we head to Yokdzonot Cenote, a natural wonder. Open to the public in 2007, Cenote Yokdzonot is today a Mayan Wellness Resource and Eco-Adventure site. It all started in 2005, when a group of women from the rural community of Yokdzonot, Yucatan decided to transform their community and organized themselves into a cooperative “Zaaz Koolen Haá” (‘clear water’, in Maya). Their vision was to create a sustainable and communally owned source of employment that would replace their dependence on poorly paid agricultural labour, preserving their environment and natural resources. Time to swim, relax, mingle with nature and the jungle surrounding the cenote. After a refreshing swim, time to enjoy a lovely lunch. On we drive to Chichen-Itza. Arrival at the hotel, which by the way is a great former Hacienda. There will be time to swim and relax before having dinner at the hotel.
Hotel: Hacienda Chichen
B/L/D

DAY 10 | TUESDAY 05th MAY 

CHICHEN-ITZA TO TULUM


Very (as in 6am or earlier) early morning coffee & sweet rolls at hotel and then we will beat the crowds to Chichen-Itza archaeological zone,  It is only a few minutes walk from our hotel.
At the end of the Early Classic Period, around the year 600 AD, Chichen-Itza was one of the largest and most prominent Mayan cities.
Nowadays, Chichen-Itza is undoubtedly the best-preserved Mayan site on the Yucatan Peninsula, and in 2007, it was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Various different architectural styles may be seen here. Some of the most famous landmarks are the Temple of Kukulkan (“El Castillo”), the Ballgame Court, the Platform of the Skulls, the Temple of the Jaguar, the Observatory, the One Thousand Columns, and the Sacred Cenote.
We will return to the Hacienda to have breakfast at the hotel.
We leave Chichen-Itza travelling to the Gran Cenote, another natural wonder in the Yucatan Peninsula. Make sure you have bathing suits in your hand so you can swim in the cenote.
After a refreshing swim we will head into Tulum beach to my favourite mojito cafe (freshly squeezed sugar cane), lunch and a spot of shopping at a lovely boutique, for those keen.
We then head to our hotel at Tulum beach, by the Caribbean Sea, incredible turquoise warm waters to enjoy!
Afternoon is for you at your leisure. If shopping is your thing then the beach strip at Tulum is lined with beautiful boutiques and also many cafes. You can pick and choose what you do and where you go to this afternoon.
Hotel: Eco Coco Tulum
B

DAY 11 | WEDNESDAY 06th MAY
TULUM TO PLAYA DEL CARMEN

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Today on the way to Playa del Carmen we will snorkel with turtles in Akumal. They are huge and just amazing. Please remember though that they are in their natural habitat so although I have seen them for 2 years in a row, there are no guarantees.
Akumal is part of the second largest coral reef in the world, which runs along the Riviera Maya coastline. It is a Natural Protected Area, which in Mayan means ‘Place of the Turtles’. Akumal is a little beach community located 75 miles/120 km south of Cancun, and beautiful destination home to many wild sea animals such as the marine turtles, rays and colourful fish.
Continue to the hotel to check-in and enjoy the free afternoon.
Lunch is at the hotel.
In the evening, we will walk to the downtown area of Playa del Carmen to have dinner at El Fogon taqueria , famous for tacos al pastor. After dinner you may choose to remain in the downtown area to walk around and enjoy night life, or walk back to the hotel.
Hotel: Mahekal Beach Resort (TBC)
B/L/D

DAY 12 | THURSDAY 07th MAY 

DAY AT LEISURE AT PLAYA DEL CARMEN BEACH
Breakfast at hotel. Free time all day.   There are plenty of options including shopping, a day boat trip to lovely Cozumel, or just relaxing by the pool.
Lunch at the hotel.
At the agreed time, we will meet at the hotel lobby to walk to tonight’s dinner restaurant.
Hotel: Mahekal Beach Resort (TBC)
B/L/D

DAY 13 | FRIDAY 08th MAY
DEPARTURE FROM MEXICO!

Breakfast at hotel. Morning at leisure to get ready to fly back home. 
We will depart from Cancun International Airport.
It is mandatory to be there 3 hours prior to departure at the airport.

Price $7690 p/p (twin share)
Single supplement price available on request
$600 deposit required on receipt of booking.
Full payment required 70 days prior to departure
Tour needs a minimum number before confirmation.
Payment by bank deposit (sorry at this stage I cannot process credit cards).

Inclusions

• 12 nights accomodationin 4-5*hotels (pretty much all 5*and they are lovely!)
• 12 breakfasts
• 9 lunches
• 9 dinners
Bilingual guide
• Internal flight from Oaxaca to Merida
• Cooking class as listed in itinerary
• Walking  food tours as listed in itinerary
• Entry to Cenotes
• Sight seeing and entry fees as listed in itinerary
• Private group transportation (flight is obviously public)

Not Included

• Optional activities, sightseeing and entry fees notl isted in the itinerary
• Meals not listed in the itinerary
• laundry, telephone or any other room charges
• some tips and gratuities, to advise
• international airfares and departure taxes
• Travel Insurance (compulsory)
* any visa costs if needed.

Notes
The weather in Mexico will vary from warn to hot. 

We shouldn’t encounter any rain and if so only a little.

Merida does get very hot (mid 30’s) as does Chichen Itza, therefore it is best to plan activities for early in the day.

Over the past few years the Yukatan coastline – Tulum and Playa Del Carmen – have been struck with a seasonal problem of sargassum seaweed deposits on the beaches.

This alters the colour of the water and also makes the beaches less desirable.

These areas are doing their best to control this situation and hopefully by May 2020 the beaches will be clear. If not then the hotel pools are the best option.


Keen to come with me?  
Email now for a booking form [email protected]

Due to vehicle size and boutique accommodation, numbers are restricted. :)

20 Ways with Sauerkraut and Kimchi

 

While fermented foods were once the domain of alternative lifestylers, the bug is super catchy and is now finding its way into homes (and supermarkets) everywhere.  From kimchi, kombucha, sour doughs, sauerkrauts and kefir, fermenting is the new buzz word.
What is the fuss all about and why should we be eating them?
Gut health is something that many health professionals are focussing on, complementary to the old phrase “you are what you eat”.   Proponents of fermented food believe that these foods are loaded with the essential living goodies eg probiotics, that you need for good gut health.
And, aside from the health claims is that they taste delicious and in the case of sauerkraut and kimchi, they add great texture, flavour and sometimes colour to food.
The uses for sauerkraut (German) and kimchi (Korean) in the kitchen are vast, check out our list below and your will be forking your way to deliciousness and good health.

This feature is brought to you by Living Goodness, New Zealand-based creators of fermented, raw sauerkraut and kimchi.
At Living Goodness, we pride ourselves on making premium quality and tasty fermented foods.

 

20 Ways to use Sauerkraut and Kimchi

1. Poached, scrambled or fried, eggs any which way are enhanced with a good dollop of sauerkraut or kimchi.  We personally love it with Living Goodness Sumyum Kimchi.

2. Teriyaki Chicken on rice is a perennial favourite and a delicious combination of sweet and salty.  Give it an extra flavour lift with a sprinkle of kimchi.

3. Smashed avocado on toast is a cafe feature and it really does come down to the toast being a good quality sourdough or a heavy seed bread such as Midnight baker.
All that creaminess just cries out for the addition of something crunchy and piquant such as a spoonful of sauerkraut or kimchi.
Try this with Living Goodness Heartbeet Kraut.

4.Next time you are making/serving Sushi, instead of pickled ginger try adding a little kimchi to each roll. Mmm….

5. The Reuben sandwich is famous in New York where it is made with thin slices of corned beef or pastrami, Swiss (Emmental) cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and rye bread.  It is then toasted and interestingly served with potato crisps along side.
Swiss cheese is popular in NY but we are happy with something mild and creamy such as Edam,  Rye bread isn’t essential and nor is the Russian dressing.  Crisps alongside are hard to forego though.  :)
Try Sassy or Naked Sauerkraut in this.

6. .Another US favourite is the Hot Dog and a good dollop of sauerkraut can take it to a whole new level.  Try making these using a good quality frankfurter and Living goodness sauerkraut…

7. Pop a good spoonful of sauerkraut onto a hot bowl of vegetable soup (leek and potato is particularly good), gently mix and taste the flavour lift that it gives the soup.

8. Add sauerkraut to your favourite quesadilla.  We think chicken, cheese and sauerkraut quesadillas are amazing.

9. People have all sorts of interesting combinations with their peanut butter on toast so how about a little sprinkle of sauerkraut?  Try it and see just how good it is.

10. Baked potatoes with sauerkraut are sensational.  Top your baked tatie with a good dollop of sour cream and then your favourite Living Goodness sauerkraut.
Our favourite combo is Heart Beet Kraut.

11. A Cheese Board with farmhouse cheeses and bread is made even better with the addition of sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is so often interchangeable with other pickles and sits so well on top of open sandwiches.

12.  Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Bagel is wonderful with a sprinkle of sauerkraut.  As with the baked potatoes we think that Heart Beet Kraut is particularly good with this flavour combination, smoked salmon and beetroot being one of foods perfect marriages.

13. Next time you make a Superfood Salad Bowl with your favourite ingredients, add a spoonful of sauerkraut or kimchi for a great flavour zing.

14. Add some life to your Stews or Casseroles with a few spoonfuls of sauerkraut stirred through when serving.  We recommend Living Goodness Naked Sauerkraut.

15. Bangers and mash with gravy and then sauerkraut on the side is just sensational.  The better the sausages the better the dish will be.

16. Add some sauerkraut to your favourite pizza.  Cook the pizza first and then sprinkle with sauerkraut prior to serving.  The flavour, texture and temperature difference is sure to enhance.

17. Fried Rice is an ideal base for some spoonfuls of kimchi.  You can either add it during the cooking process or once the pan is off the heat. We like Living Goodness Sum Yum Kimchi with this.

18. Asian Style Noodle Soups get a great flavour lift with the addition of kimchi.  Just make your usual recipe and then stir through some kimchi when serving.

19. Hot Smoked Salmon Canapes on blinis, crostini or rye are made even tastier with a sprinkle of sauerkraut.

20.  A spoon and a jar!  Once you have got this far then there is no doubt that you will be a fermented foods fan.  Feeling peckish?  Take a clean spoon and grab a jar from the fridge….

Living Goodness Fermented Foods are sold around New Zealand.  Check out their stockist list to find your nearest retailer.

 

Don’t forget to enter into the draw to Win a pack of two jars of Living Goodness sauerkraut or kimchi.
(prizes delivered to NZ addresses only, sorry no RD addresses)