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Triple Cheese Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake

Is a sudden obsession with cheesecake baking a good thing? I mean, it’s not as if cheesecakes were the healthiest desserts on earth. On the other hand, when they are well done, they are amongst the most delicious desserts on earth. Or I think so anyway. As mine has a homemade jam on top made with blueberries, and blueberries are fruit, that is an excuse for eating fruit. Right? Also, I’m sure we can all think of worse obsessions in life. I won’t name any of them.

Just one week ago I decided to venture out of my absurd afraid of making cheesecakes zone, and actually make one. Typical of me, I did not religiously follow any one single recipe. I browsed through my Cheesecakes comme à New York cookbook and  went through some of my favourite baking blogs, with notable mentions to Jessica’s no bake cheesecakes in What Jessica Baked Next, and Rosa’s cheesecakes in Pemberly Cup & Cakes. I opted for a yes bake cheesecake at the end. With so much inspiration to choose from, I thought I would try to make a sort of simple cheesecake to begin with. My own invention which would be a mish mash of many of the recipes I read that day, and which would later be modified again because it was Sunday afternoon, and as I ventured out to look for some of the ingredients I was missing, they would indeed still be missing – because it was Sunday afternoon – so I had to do a bit more re-invention.

It’s strange how our fears freeze us. I had guessed that I would have to go through a lengthy process of recipe development before making a decent cheesecake. I envisioned having to force feed the Papaya Pieces household & friends with runny liquid, dodgy tasting cheesecake for about four attempts before landing on a good one. But no! I’m still blowing kisses to my own cheeks for making the most marvellous cheesecake in the first attempt. And I am actually a modest person. The first attempt was last weeks. I, cough cough, did not make photos of it. But I decided to make another one last night, yes, in so little time, just so that I could photograph it and put it into this blog, so that I could look it up if I ever wanted to make it again. Here it is.



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The Making of an Authentic Valencian Paella

Even though paellas are well known as a national Spanish dish, they originated from the Spanish region of Valencia. Before anything else, let’s all say PAELLA as pronounced in Spanish:

PA – E – JA

I recently went to visit some friends in Valencia. I love them to pieces because we used to live together for a few years in a cottage tucked away in the English countryside. The cottage was surrounded by woods, so we had wild animals coming into the garden all the time. Behind the trees there was a gorgeous lake. In front of the road and on the other side of more trees there was the Queen’s Sandringham Palace. Looking back to those days nearly feels like remembering an incarnation from another era.

As well tempered Valencians, my friends had brought over to England their paella dish with which we had many great paella cooking weekends warming ourselves up around the wood stove in the cottage garden.

I realise I hardly have any photos from that period. At that time I had a dodgy film camera, and I had no photographic knowledge whatsoever on how to make great photos with it. At that time digital cameras had only began to creep into existence. Besides, I was not in possession of one yet. At that time, too, perhaps the most pioneers of bloggers were making their way into the internet world. I never envisioned having my own blog, probably because I didn’t even know the existence of blogs then. Isn’t it amazing how we’ve evolved with technology in such a short time?

After a few years we all moved away from the cottage, everyone went back to their respective hometowns, except for me, because where is my hometown? I somehow ended up in Barcelona. So the Valencians moved back to Valencia, and in a recent visit to them, they decided to make an authentic Valencian paella, on a wood stove in the garden, for old times sakes. I arrived with my Nikon dangling around my neck, adamant to photo-document the whole process. As promised, here we go:

STEP 1: Light the fire and pour the best extra virgin olive oil you can find into the paella dish. The olive oil here was of excellent quality. Note just how green it is in the photo. Ok I did some minor lighting adjustments to the photo but I cross my heart I did not photoshop the greenness of the olive oil.



STEP 2: Add pieces of chicken and rabbit. Authentic Valencian paellas are made with chicken and rabbit. The seafood variation, paella marinera, can also be considered authentic and originated from the fishermen’s villages right by the Mediterranean coast in Valencia.

Needless to say, putting ingredients into a paella such as chorizo, carrots – or god forbid, guacamole or barbecue sauce as I have seen in some touristic menus – is not only frowned upon but not even considered having the honour of being called a paella.

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Seriously Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Isn’t it strange how siblings that are brought up the same way and made to eat the same food sometimes develop very different taste bud preferences? My brother will not put a single spicy thing in his mouth. He has, however, eaten worms. And I don’t think I could do that. Sorry, back to the issue of spiciness, on the contrary, if there were such a thing as being addicted to super hot spicy food, if it were one day scientifically proven, I would certainly put up my hand and claim to be so.


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Lately: Dinner, Running in Valencia & the Continuation of my Tooth Saga

I’m not quite sure now to structure this post. It’s a bit like a Dear Diary thing. Eating. Running. But you see my tooth pain was present everywhere in between, so let’s do a bit of a monster mash shall we?

My Tooth Saga Continues

Quick recap: Nearly two weeks ago I developed a horrible tooth ache while I was in Madrid. Then last Thursday I went to the dentist and we thought we got it under control. We thought. But the next morning I woke up in utter pain again, so I guessed we hadn’t quite nailed down the cause of my tooth problem yet.

My dentist ushered me back and we did higher res xrays of my whole mouth this time and saw that, effectively, I would need to undergo endodontics (i.e. root canal therapy), and it would be on Tuesday morning (i.e. this morning). Just so you can understand my fright, I have fantastic straight teeth which everyone erroneously thinks are man made by orthodontics – they are wrong, I have my mum’s genes to thank for that – and my worst complications ever have only been a few fillings and wisdom teeth problems. Thus the thought of endodontia was like a mayor flaw to my system. And thus this morning I had part 1 of my endodontia. Right now I feel like I’m all beaten up, and still have a horrible weird sensation as if I have all sorts of metal rods pulling at my mouth. Next week I’ll have part 2 and I hope that’s all and that I shall never have to write about this ever again.

Dinner in Valencia

On Friday afternoon, we packed our bags and went to a town in Valencia, called Sagunto, to visit some friends. Part of the agenda was supposed to be participating in a race for charity the next day. In the car my tooth was in so much pain and I felt so sick that I wondered how on earth I was going to run the next day.

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Red Ant Noodle Bar, Barcelona

I have a new favourite Asian restaurant in Barcelona, Red Ant Noodle Bar. It’s not that it’s new nor new to me, but simply because it’s the restaurant I’ve been coming back to over and over again in the last few months.

Red Ant is part of a group that have a few Asian restaurants in the Born district in Barcelona. I think they’ve chosen cool names: Red Ant, Mosquito and Grasshopper. I haven’t been to Grasshopper but Mosquito Bar was the first, the classic. They specialise in homemade organic dumplings with Belgian and German beers to accompany. Before they opened the other two restaurants, (or at least before my knowledge of them anyway) I remember they used to declare on their website: Life without dumpling is not worth living.

Yep, life should include dumplings.



Anyway, Red Ant is a sister of Mosquito, and they specialise in noodles, both in soup or not, and artisanal beers. For the beer and alcohol haters, like my latest companions that came with me, they also have a great selection of fancy fruit infused waters.



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