Archive | February, 2011

Sol Sirenas Coral

26 Feb

I recently travelled to an all inclusive resort (Sol Sirenas Coral) in Varadero, Cuba. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are buffet style and there is a 24 hour snack bar which makes to order such items as fries, hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches.  The resort also has several à la carte restaurants available only with reservations.

Ham and Egg Sandwich with Fries from the Snack Bar

Many of the dishes are catered to tourists but there were some noticeable differences.  For example, a few fruits common in Canada such as apples, strawberries, and grapes were nowhere to be found.  On the other hand, there was a lot of pineapple, coconut, honeydew and papaya available.

Assortment of Tropical Fruits

A popular cuban drink is the mojito which is made with rum and garnished with mint.  Other drinks I tried were the piña colada, sex-on-the-beach and strawberry daiquiri.  They also have pop available but instead of a pepsi or cola brand, the common brand is Ciego Montero.  The bottled water, which tourists are advised to drink, is also the Ciego Montero brand.

A Mojito and A Strawberry Daiquiri

White Rum From the Popular Havanna Club Brand and Other Bottles Available for Purchase

Cuban Brand Canned Pop and Beer

Ciego Montero Bottled Water

There are also many grilling stations available during meal services.  At breakfast, omelettes are made on the spot with your choice of toppings.  During dinner, you can have  your choice of meats, sausages and seafood grilled on the spot.  As well, there is an outdoor rustic barbecue and roasting pit used for slow cooking.

Omelettes Made to Suit Your Own Taste

Omelette Toppings such as tomatoes, onions, green peppers, ham, cheese, etc.

Grilled Meats which included Sausages, Chicken, Liver, Beef and Pork.

Outdoor Barbecue

Outdoor Roasting Pit

There are many many many desserts to choose from. They also have ice cream with your choice of chocolate sprinkles, shredded coconut, sliced almonds and vanilla syrup.

Tiramisu From the Italian Restaurant

A Sweet Treat

A Cake Coated with Almond Slices

In addition, there are many vegetarian and healthy options such as fish dishes, make-your-own salads, and grilled vegetables.

Lightly Seasoned Vegetables

Shredded Beets

Vegetarian Pizza from the Italian Restaurant

Fish topped with Grape Tomatoes

Blue Cheese

The resort has a huge variety of food catering to all age groups and personal tastes. I have only presented a small quantity here. Some items I haven’t shown include breads, roasted peppers, pasta salads, soups, pickles, seafood paella, rice, potato salads and much more.

Sol Sirenas Coral is a picture perfect paradise with crystal clear beaches, three pools, tall sweeping palm trees, warm soft sand, exercise room, souvenir kiosks, nightly entertainment and the food is a treat too.

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Garden Salad

13 Feb

A Salad with Fresh Vegetables, Feta and Homemade Dressing and Croutons

Salad

  • one bundle of red leaf lettuce, rougly chopped into bite size pieces
  • a handful of baby spinach
  • one english cucumber, diced
  • two tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • a quarter of an onion, thinly sliced
  • feta
  • sea salt, pepper and oregano

In a large bowl, add in the lettuce, spinach, cucumber, tomatoes and onion. The trick to a good salad is having fresh vegetables, so feel free to change the vegetable combination based on what’s fresh at the produce section of your grocery store.  For example, adding some yellow peppers and shredded carrots or replacing the tomatoes with an heirloom variety or cherry tomatoes provides colour and variety to any salad. Lightly sprinkle the sea salt, pepper and oregano onto the top of the vegetables. Crumble some feta on top of the seasoned vegetables. Refridgerate until the dressing and croutons are ready.

A Tangy, Light and Fresh Dressing.

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp of dijion mustard

Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and dijion mustard together.  Adjust the quantity of olive oil, lemon juice and dijion to suit your tastes.  Add the dressing to the salad right before serving and mix well.  Do not add the dressing early because the acid from the lemon juice will wilt the leaves of the salad.

Croutons

  • 3 slices of bread, cubed
  • 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsps of unsalted butter

Heat a shallow pan on high. Once the pan is hot, add in the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add in the bread and stir well so that each piece of bread is coated with butter and olive oil.  Stir often so each side of the cube of bread is toasted.  Once the cubes of bread are evenly toasted, remove from heat. Ensure the croutons have cooled before sprinkling on top of the (dressed) salad, otherwise, the croutons will become soggy.


Fried Rice with Beef

7 Feb

Fried Rice with Brown Rice, Ground Beef, Peas, Carrots, Onions and Egg

Rice Preparation

  • 1.5 cups of rice, for a healthier option use brown rice, it will taste just as good, I promise
  • juice of one lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • chicken or beef broth
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the rice one day before making the fried rice. (Using freshly made rice produces soggy fried rice.) Cook the rice as instructed on the package but substitute half the amount of water for chicken or beef broth.  Once the rice is finished cooking, add in a light drizzle of extra virgin olive, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Flavouring the rice itself during the cooking process produces tastier fried rice. Let cool and store in the refrigerator.

Making the Fried Rice

  • 1 lb of extra lean ground beef
  • one carrot, coarsely grated
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of peas
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps sugar
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 6 tbsps of dark soya sauce
  • 2 tbsps of worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsps of extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large sauté pan on high and once the pan is hot, add in the olive oil and ground beef.  Use a spatula to break up the beef into as small pieces as possible. Once the beef is half way done, add in the onions, garlic, ginger and a very light sprinkling of sea salt and pepper.  When the beef is cooked, add in the worcestershire sauce and three tablespoons of soya sauce. Stir until the sauces are evenly mixed, then add in the green peas, carrots, sugar and paprika.  Cook for a couple of minutes until everything has heated through, then make a hole in the center of the pan and add in the eggs.  Scramble the eggs and once they’re almost cooked, add in the rice and stir well.  If needed, add in the remaining soya sauce and more salt and pepper.  Mix well and serve while still hot.

This recipe makes a large batch of fried rice. Feel free to substitute the vegetables to your own preferences.  For me, the orange carrots, green peas and yellow eggs is an excellent combination on the taste palette and eyes.

Mediterraneo

5 Feb

Mediterraneo, located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, is a casual fine dining restaurant serving European cuisine focusing mainly on Greek fare.  The restaurant is essentially a long rectangle with small tables near the front and large group tables tucked into more secluded areas.  I was with a large group and began my meal with the three dip (tzatziki, homous, tarama)  platter which also included warm, soft pitas.  For smaller groups, a tzatziki and pita appeitizer is also available.

Tzatziki, Homous and Tarama Dip with Pita (Three Dip Platter), $11.25

There are a wide variety of entrees to choose from such as chicken/pork or lamb souvlaki, seafood options like the kalamari dinner, pastas, specialty items such as the Kotopoulo peppercorn (charbroiled chicken breast topped with a peppercorn sauce), vegetarian options and a small kid’s menu.

Chicken Souvlaki with Rice, Roasted Potatoes, Greek Salad and Tzatziki Sauce, $14.95

Fried Kalamari with Rice, Veggies, Potatoes, Tzatziki Sauce, $17.95

Pasta with Lamb in Greek Style Sauce (Rigatoni Capama), Toasted Bread and Parmesan, $16.50

Boneless Chicken Breast with Peppercorn Sauce (Kotopoulo Peppercorn), Veggies and Rice, $14.95

Mediterraneo is a quiet and quaint restaurant with quality food, fair prices and kind service.  I especially like their rice which was uniquely flavoured and perfectly cooked.  The server also revealed a little secret about her teenage years which made me laugh. Mediterraneo is definitely worth a visit.