Les Vacances: Menorca

Last year for the Summer vacations, 6 of us decided to go to Menorca – so us (Nuno and Tiago), plus 4 close friends. The plan was simple: rent a house, get to know the beaches around the island, have some nice food (tapas, helloooo!), read ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck‘ and have fun. That’s it, not a big plan on what to do or see and it was pretty nice and not easy (coordination wise) to go on holidays with friends. It wasn’t easy to plan as the 6 of us were coming from different places and all had to have our holidays accepted from our crazy bosses. However, in the end it was pretty damn great so we will leave some tips about Les Vacances: Menorca.

The island is not too big, the beaches are to die for, the colours – from the blue of the ocean to the yellow of the houses – are just perfect and the landscape is beautiful. You will need to rent a car to get anywhere as the island is still in a pretty raw/virgin state but that’s what makes it so BEAUTIFUL!!!

Menorca Travel Guide – The Beaches:
Cala Macarella (and Cala Macarelleta)

 

Our favourite beach was Cala Macarella – the landscape of the beach and the blue of the ocean is just perfect. If you don’t wake up before sunrise (literately!) you will not find a parking spot and the best option will be to park at Cala Galdana and then walk for 30 minutes – as you can guess, we did not wake up before sunrise!! Tip: swim between Macarella and Macarella it’s such an amazing experience!

Cala Galdana

 

This one looks just like out of a Hollywood movie from the 50’s – the bay, the surroundings, the boats between the rocks – BEAUTIFUL!! Also, one of the few beaches where you can actually have network signal on your phone (instagram gram gram!!).

Cala Algaiarenscala-algaiarense-beach-menorca

There is a part of this beach which we believe is reserved for naturists – or so it looked liked, as everyone was naked. Obviously, we took the opportunity and nakeeeeed time. There is no better feeling. It’s freedom and you should try it!! (Since we moved to Brighton – a year and a half now, naturist beach is our thing. It’s cool, it’s liberating!!)

Cala en Turqueta

 

Cala n’ Bosch

 

Cala Mitjana

 

Menorca Travel Guide – Eat and Drink:

 

Following the suggestions to avoid all the touristy places (where everything is 3 times more expensive and 5 times less tasty) most of the places we tried out where in Ciutadella (since we did not go to Mahon at all) where there were some really cool places. But there was two conditions. Condition number one was: be able to seat outdoors. Condition number two was: spanish food.

That said, Mostassa, is a pretty nice place to seat outdoors on a busy carrer and have some tapas and burgers and MolĂ­ Des Comte Asador is another cool place where you can have some tapas. Other places that caught our attention but which we didn’t have the opportunity to try were Moriarty (the interior was beauuuutiful) and Cuk Cuk Experience – where you are meant to go with your friends to cook and eat together (sounds something we would be very interested on!).

However our favourite thing to eat is ice cream! So there was a place that caught our eyes immediately – Sottozero. Their slogan is ‘101% Vero Gelato Italiano‘ and we must say it’s damn true. Their hazelnut (always hazelnut, nothing else!) gelato is to die for. Other nice place is SA Gelateria (they have several locations across Ciutadella)

To drink we would just say pick any place. It’s Spain so it does not matter much as long as you sit outside with a caña – at least that would do us. But if you want a suggestion, Es Cau which is on the same street as Mostassa – it’s a pretty chilled place for a cerveza!

Menorca Travel Guide – Must Do:

 

We would say nothing! Eat, sleep, relax it’s a pretty good motto! But, if you wish to do something, we would recommend read a book and swim in the ocean. BUT, if you really WISH to do something then, eat an ensaimada (or a delicious mitja luna) from Pastisseria Moll, swim between cala macarella and cala macarelleta, watch the sunrise and the sunset everyday or even rent a boat to visit some of the famous calas of Menorca!

Menorca is so beautiful and even tho the stupid weather was not always great (it rained in two of the days) it’s a place worth experiencing. The rays of sun, the colours of Ciutadella, the turquoise waters and the friendly people make us (Tiago, more than Nuno) wanna come back soon!

Ps: Nuno came back to Brighton giving way less fucks (read the book, seriously!)

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Cooking with… Nuno Mendes: Pastel de Nata

Hey!

We have been baking pasteĂ­s de nata quite a lot over the past month or so. It’s such a portuguese thing so we should give it a try on ‘Cooking with… Nuno Mendes: Pastel de Natacause in the end we get to it them since it’s impossible to find a good pastel de nata around Brighton.
Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesWe decided to try the recipe of Nuno Mendes – that famous Portuguese chef with amazing restaurants, such as Taberna do Mercado, in London –  from Lisboeta: Recipes from Portugal’s City of Light‘ cookbook. The book itself is an ode to the Portuguese (and Lisbon in particular) food scene and we loooove it! Not only it’s the book pretty but the recipes amazing and it’s written so well that leaves us *cheios de saudades*!
This recipe is easy enough. Truth is, is easier than we thought would be and quite addictive (since we love to eat a good pastel de nata). So, since the first time we tried to bake them we have been on a roll baking pasteĂ­s de nata to achieve perfection.

The first time they looked like ’empadas’ ( you might recognised the spanish word – ’empanadas’). Yeah that’s right – empadas de nata – was they were way too big, the pastry to thick and somehow the flavour was quite not right.

Second time around and they tasted so much better (like a proper pastel de nata) but even with smaller muffin tins and thinner pastry it was still not right. Then we bought several smaller muffin tins and no luck there – still too big. When we were about to give up, our awesome friends sent us tins that were specific to bake a pastel de nata from Portugal.
Pastel de Nata Recipe -Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno Mendes Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesNow we can share the recipe and leave you a few good tips to bake a delicious pastel de nata:

  • the pastel de nata (or muffin tin) should be between 1,8 and 2,5cm tall and 7cm diameter – not taller otherwise it will be way too big!;
  • Nuno Mendes recommends the muffin tins – but, once again, make sure they have the dimensions mentioned above (as we are not baking cupcakes);
  • Nuno Mendes uses all-butter puff pastry – it’s ok to use the ready-made puff pastry but next time I am going to try and make my own puff pastry.

Now to the recipe cause we all love a good pastel de nata and it’s what you are all looking for.

Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata (or Pastéis de Nata)

makes 12

Nuno Mendes’ recipe is only to bake 6 pastĂ©is de nata but since we love them so much, the recipe below is to make 12 in one go 🙂

ingredients for the pastry:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (500g)
  • melted butter, for greasing
  • sugar and cinnamon for dusting

ingredients for the sugar syrup:

  • 225g caster sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of lemon zest
  • 2 x 75ml water

ingredients for the custard:

  • 500ml whole milk (300ml + 200ml)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of lemon zest
  • 40g butter (20g + 20g)
  • 4 tbsp white plain flour
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 4 medium egg yolks

To prepare the pastry – start by brushing 12 individual muffin tins with melted butter and fill in the fridge. In the meantime, roll out the puff pastry into a 2mm-thick rectangle and then roll it up lengthwise into a tight sausage shape about 5cm diameter. Slice into 12 discs 2 cm thick. Roll the discs once again into 2 cm thick and then place them in the tins and making sure they come just below the top of the tins. Chill in the fridge while making the custard.

To make the sugar syrup – Put the ingredients – 225g sugar, 75ml water, lemon zest and cinnamon stick in a pan over medium hear for about 5 minutes, just until the sugar dissolves. Cook over a low heat until you have a light brown caramel (another 2-3 minutes). Add the remaining 75ml water and return the pan to a gentle hear to dissolve any solid caramel (about 3-5 minutes).

To make the custard – Heat 300ml milk in a pan over medium heat with the cinnamon stick, lemon zest and 20 g of butter bringing it to just below boiling point – about 10 minutes and then remove the cinnamon stick and lemon zest. In the meantime, on a bowl mix the flour and cornflour and gradually add the remaining milk (200ml milk) until a thin paste. Gradually por the warm infused milk over the paste, stirring well, then pour the mixture back into the pan. Cook over low, for about 5-7 minutes, until it thickens to a double cream consistency. Whisk the remaining 20g butter.

To bake the pastĂ©is de nata – Preheat the oven to its highest temperature (in our case 270Âș C) and place a baking sheet on the top shelf. Just before baking the tarts, pour the sugar syrup into the custard and add the 4 egg yolks. Pour the mixture into the pastry-lined pastĂ©is de nata tins (fill almost to the top) and bake in the hot baking sheet for 9-13 minutes (ours were more to the 13 minutes – we like them a little burnt on top) and rotating them if necessary to make sure they colour evenly.

Take them out of the oven and leave them to cook slightly in the tins (they will be too hot!) before removing and cooling on a wire rack. Eat them while they are still warm (they taste even better!), sprinkled with cinnamon (and sugar if you wish – like in Portugal) before serving.
Pastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesPastel de Nata Recipe - Nuno MendesWe hope you enjoy them as much as we do and next time we’ll bring a recipe for a good puff pastry – yeah? In the meantime, buy the book and fall in love with Lisbon and Portugal ❀

Have a nice week and hugs from sunny Portugal!

Ta-ta!

Exploring Berlin: West Berlin

Hey friends!

Let’s talk about Exploring Berlin: West Berlin! As mentioned on the previous post – Exploring Berlin: East Berlin, we stayed mostly in East Berlin so we don’t have as many places to share about West Berlin.

However, we did stroll around famous Unter der Linden, checked Biniki Berlin and visited the main monuments around Potsdamer Platz.

Places to Eat and Drink Coffee in West Berlin

No news here: since we love coffee we are going to share the places that we like the most – not that many, but they are reeeeeeally nice!

There are 3 places on this list. The first one is Pastel – as the name suggests, you can eat a pastel de nata (portuguese custard tart). The owners are Portuguese and the pasteis de nata are sooooo good <3. The second place is Hallesches Haus, a beautiful cafĂ© and shop and the third one is our favourite – Benedict! Benedict Berlin is a place where you can eat breakfast food for brunch, lunch and dinner. Whenever you want it – 24/7!!!

Pastel
Hallesches Haus
Benedict Berlin

Places to Visit and Things to Do in West Berlin

In central Berlin – which is in fact still part of Mitte you can visit mos of the monuments related with the Second World War and Berlin Wall. Places worth visiting are the super touristic areas of Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz but it’s also possible to visit Holocaust Memorial, Hitler’s bunker, Reichstag, Topographie des Terrors.

Even better is to stroll around Tiergarten, check Brandenburg Gate at sunset and end the day at Unter der Linden!

We also visited the cool Bikini Berlin – the building is beautiful, full of nice shops and the view from the terrace of Berlin Zoo is priceless! After that we went to see the exhibition at Bauhaus Archive (before moving to it’s new locations so was free!).

Did we enjoy Berlin: Yeah!! It’s so cool and the 4 days spent there were so nice and relaxed but at the same time is always good to be back in quirky Brighton ❀

Ta-ta!