Feature Friday: Key Lime Pie

Desserts spelled backwards is “stressed.” Coincidence?

Many of us flock to the pastry shelf, amongst other craving go-tos on that necessary occasion to unwind. It’s such a blessing for us solace-seekers that there is great variety to drown or bury our sorrows. The guesswork is usually taken away when we seek that vice. That comfort. That relief.

……….

The great news of my hubby and I travelling down south before Christmas this year had me craving a Floridian classic for that necessary unwind; that flavourful, yet tangy and satisfying Key Lime Pie. Originating in the Florida Keys, a beautiful collection of connected islands, this refreshing combination of citrus and cream, has satisfied patrons for the last century.

In the early 1900’s legend states that the pie was made from scratch for Florida’s first millionaire William Curry, renowned ship rescuer. The complete origin of the pastry is somewhat foggy, but since then, the recipe has remained a staple for the region and has been a favourite of chefs worldwide, who have since been developing their own adaptations and culinary varieties.

key west

What makes the original Key Lime Pie recipe unique, is the key lime. Key limes are more tart, more acidic, and produce a yellow juice; this differs from limes grown outside the Keys, as they have greener juice and less acid. When you order your pie, your first hint that the pie was made from key limes is the yellow filling. Made with regular limes, the dessert would have a greener filling.

The pie when initially made did not require baking. The method instructed bakers to combine the condensed milk with key lime juice; this caused natural thickening of the filling, allowing for a beautifully set dessert. Nowadays, depending on the recipe you follow, you may or may not require baking; most recipes requiring baking contain eggs in the filling- an ingredient where baking is essential.

Since the original recipe, many have enjoyed this iconic dessert. Nowadays, not only can consumers indulge in the original classic, but restaurants and home cooks have taken the dish and customized it into meringues, flans, and even tarts.

Regardless of how many variations currently available, nothing beats the original in the region, served with lime peel and whipped cream, washed down with espresso as the boats sail by. Divine!

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Wanderlust Wednesday: Vibrant Vienna

Halfway through the week, and for some reason, I cannot get the minuet out of my head. Perhaps I’ve entered a subtle trance from our hot summer combined with the classical music drawing me in from swanky restaurant patios. The minuet, the classical music, the patios, it has all taken me back to Vienna, a haven of history, harmony, and flavour.

Vienna was one city I was truly excited for a return engagement. A city where there is never enough time to explore its plethora of historic buildings, quaint patisseries and iconic landmarks.

While travelling through Vienna, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about one of Austria’s most famous countrymen – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One of the most renowned and talented composers in history, Mozart shaped the classical music genre while captivating the world. Born January 27, 1756, his music has inspired concert pianists, child prodigies, and many others throughout the centuries. Known particularly for minuets and sonatas, audiences are compelled to visualize dancers dressed in suits, bustled frocks, and powder wigs with each chord.

mozart statue

Austrians have such pride for Mozart. In his honour, statues have been erected in various cities commemorating his life and contribution to music. The monument located in Vienna was sculpted in 1898, then was moved and dedicated to the main city centre in 1953. This beautiful statue can be easily identified thanks to the pristinely landscaped flowers of a musical treble clef.

To delve further into Mozart’s life and music, visitors have many options. There are many  organized tours offering thorough itineraries. These tours escort visitors to the concert hall where Mozart was a discovered 5-year old prodigy, his beautiful residence, and many other significant landmarks. Conclude your tour with a lilting tribute concert. Tickets are prevalent and quite reasonable.

As cultural as the musical accolades and history characterize Vienna, its cuisine is also deserving of honourble mention. Gourmands will enjoy a variety of exclusive Viennese sweets and savouries while exploring the iconic streets.

These signature dishes are among my favourites:

sacher torte two

sacher tote

The Sacher Torte:
Originating in 1832, the Original Sacher Torte has satisfied many a sweet tooth for centuries. Created at the Hotel Sacher, visitors flock to its famed tea room for a taste of the original recipe. Since its debut, chefs and bakers worldwide have launched their own adaptation of the chocolate indulgence as the original recipe, housed in the hotel’s “culinary vault,”  is a closely guarded secret. Visit the hotel and try its fluffy and rich chocolate cake topped with apricot preserves, thick to-die-for frosting, and capped with a signature Sacher medallion.

almdudler

The Almdudler:
Second only to Coke in popularity, the Almdudler is an apple ginger soda with herbal extracts. The Almdudler, deemed the national drink of Austria, is a perfect accompaniment with schnitzel or bratwurst.

Strudel:
Vienna is also a haven for strudel lovers. This flaky pastry full of sweet apples and syrup is a favourite of dessert fanatics. Pick a sidewalk café, order a strudel made with phyllo, then crown it with a dollop of iced cream. A patisserie classic.

Viennese coffee 2viennese coffee

Viennese coffee:
A beautiful fusion of strong black espresso with whipped cream (in lieu of milk and sugar). Order one next time you are in a cafe. It goes perfectly with strudel or Sacher Torte.

cheese filled hot dog

Cheese-filled Bratwurst:
Throughout Vienna’s city centre, you will find many kiosks offering wursts. Variations include plain, chili, and my favourite – the cheese-filled brat. Foot-long in length, these sausages are available in a variety of spices and served in a round closed-bottomed bun. Wash one down with anAlmdudler – Heavenly!

 As you can see, Vienna is truly a foodie capital of the world; a city not to miss. A city that combines sweets, savouries and symphonies – a most mesmerizing trifecta.

Monday Musing: July 4th Food, Fireworks, Fun!

It is the 4th of July. The day Americans celebrate their independence. A celebration never taken lightly. They have a fun-filled, jam-packed extravaganza of fireworks, special events and blockbuster feasts showcasing the BBQ and baking skills of their many professional and home chefs alike.

With the celebration dating back to 1776, Americans have honoured the breakaway from the British empire for 240 years. And in this time, they have shaped this special day with traditional festivities, spectacular events, and culinary creativity.

When I think of the USA, I think of my joyous times spent there of unforgettable experiences, decadent gastronomy, and beautiful scenery. However, one place that resonates with me often, where many a memory was made (my engagement being #1!) is New York City. The most populated city in the country, it should be no surprise that this buzzing city has scheduled signature events, combined with delicious patriotic fares for this momentous day.

In Manhattan, you cannot escape excitement. Quintessential selfies being snapped at Times Square, The Statue of Liberty standing proudly on its island attracting thousands of visitors daily, Macy’s offering summer sales, and yellow cabs passing by escorting patrons everywhere. You cannot help but begin spinning excitedly on the street corner keeping up with the sensation.

american independence day, celebration, patriotism and holidays

To commemorate this special day, red, white and blue libations and menus highlighting iconic favourites of ribs, hot dogs and burgers are featured in numerous eateries to whet your appetite. There is something for everyone. Here are some of our favourites:

 Dream Baby Bar & Cocktail Parlour:
A swanky bar on Avenue B, bartenders have put together a classy and stylish Red, white and blue cocktail specially for today. A refreshing sip of curaçao and ginger liquor mixed with a hint of mint to name a few flavours, this drink will enhance your celebration with sprinkles and patriotism.

Fornino – Brooklyn

A beautiful restaurant featuring Italian cuisine, offers a rooftop terrace for beautiful views of the traditional fireworks. Book early to avoid disappointment, ensuring you have secured a table.

The Dutch – Restaurant & Oyster Bar
This quaint eatery is offering a special Luau menu for today adding flair and flavour to your day! Visit from 11-9 to feast on a tantalizing menu of celebratory grub including oysters, waffles, lobster, and chicken, while washing it down with a selection of tempting specialty cocktails.

Hot Dog Eating Contest – Coney Island
Held yearly on July 4th, Coney island celebrates with a hot dog eating contest. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the event broadcast on ESPN, attracting thousands to witness one of the 20 qualifying contestants for both male and female events, take home the jeweled champion belt. Competitors have 10 minutes to eat as many hot dogs as possible, and must keep them down to win. An event not to be missed!

From all of us at Fill My Passport, we wish all our American friends and readers a fun and flavourful day!

hot dogs 

Weekend Brunch: The Best Eggs Benedict Worldwide

I love eggs benedict. As breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, I would have to say that I’m truly impressed with the creative direction chefs have taken this classic dish, eliminating the difficulty in deciding my restaurant orders.

History has suggested various origins of this dish. The most credible of all theories, in my opinion, involved a Wall Street executive in New York City who visited the Waldorf Astoria hotel in search for a hangover cure. The servers presented him a plate with eggs, English muffins, two pieces of ham and a side of hollandaise sauce. Sound familiar? To me, this theory seems most accurate considering the Waldorf Astoria was responsible for bringing numerous recipes to the worldwide dinner table (Waldorf Salad and Thousand Islands salad dressing are just two examples).

benedict savoy

For almost 75 years, the world has embraced the classic eggs benedict which has become a staple for weekend brunch. The traditional recipe uses ham upon the English muffins, topped with hollandaise sauce; however, chefs have experimented over the years with various ingredients, bringing numerous variations to the worldwide menu. While travelling abroad, I came across everything from smoked salmon benedict, spinach and feta, brie and mushroom, and pemeal bacon. The possibilities are endless.

Below are some of Fill My Passport’s recommendations for delicious eggs benedict experienced abroad:

The Ritz London
Luxury at its finest, The Ritz serves up a delicious classic eggs benedict for an early breakfast or weekend brunch. It does come with a hefty price point of £40 per person, but the service, bone china presentation, included breakfast buffet, and feeling of sheer luxury, make the cost easier to swallow.

Chu Chocolate Bar & CafeBangkok, Thailand
Rated the best brunch restaurant in Bangkok, eggs benedict is offered with either back bacon or smoked salmon with a mustard-infused hollandaise sauce.

chu chocolate bar benedict

The SavoyLimerick, Ireland
Another luxurious venue, The Savoy offers a delicious eggs benedict accompanied by a plentiful brunch buffet. If you wish a healthier alternative, The Savoy offers an egg-white benedict, omitting the yolks, served with parma ham.

M CafeVarious Locations across California
This cafe offers a vegan alternative to the classic dish. Enjoy a sublime plant-based benedict of scrambled tofu, kale, sliced tomatoes, traditional hollandaise sauce and a sprinkling of tempeh.

Chez Cora’sVarious Locations across Canada
A favourite Canadian family chain, Chez Cora’s serves up breakfast and lunch daily with several benedict options on the menu. If you wish to divert from the classic, why not try the asparagus with Swiss cheese, the smoked salmon, or the tomato, bacon and green onion options? All are served with fresh fruit, a Cora’s staple, and breakfast potatoes. Delightful!

Eggs Benedict With Smoked Salmon

A delicious eggs benedict with smoked salmon hollandaise sauce and chives.

With the numerous options available, it is hard to fathom someone disliking eggs benedict. If you haven’t experienced this delectable fare for yourself, give one of our aforementioned favourites a try; alternatively,if you have found a gem of an experience, we would love to hear about it!