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Tastes of paradise – in my kitchen

July 1, 2015

Here’s what’s in my kitchen at the beginning of July (take a closer look and read the captions by clicking on an individual image, use the arrows to navigate).

Do we buy souvenirs in a desperate bid to extend our travels? I’m trying to remain in a tranquil, happy place – in spirit, if not in body – that was the result of a week in the Philippines. Various edible mementos  have made it into my kitchen reminding me of shiny, happy people, blue skies and seas and some different and beguiling tastes.*

While local veg is getting thinner on the ground, ripe juicy fruit from the region is flooding into Dubai and filling the shelves of our supermarkets with its aroma. Some of our supermarkets I should say, as several stick resolutely to importing under-ripe, hard, tasteless and expensive fruit which would qualify for a silver card as an airline passenger. My kitchen has a selection of cherries from Syria, apricots from Jordan, grapes and mangoes from India and some nectarines from Tunisia which burst so violently with juice that I’ve had to stand over the sink to eat them.

As usual the return back to Dubai was improved by ordering something from Le Clos. Bags were handed over to me on arrival containing Stellenrust, Tolpuddle Pinot and some Sacred pink grapefruit gin. This went into the cupboard with a bottle of Don Papa rum – I’ll keep up the Filipino tradition of giving visitors to the house a nip or two (which they can’t refuse), perhaps in a dark and stormy?

A few pics of the Philippines from Instagram

Veggie teen has a rampant sweet tooth that baffles me (I haven’t). As she’s vegan this month this puts most chocolate out of bounds so she was delighted to sample Pana Chocolate which is raw, organic, handmade, vegan and also contains no processed sugar (relying on agave syrup instead). She loved it. I wasn’t so sure about the texture, although enjoyed the very dark versions especially the mint. I’ve made another batch of salted caramel for her today as she wasn’t able to eat it or these muffins during her vegan month of June.

Some people just manage to choose the most thoughtful gifts. I was honoured to be asked to speak for an hour at a recent workshop held by legendary food writing guru Dianne Jacob at the Dubai International Writers Centre. She brought me a sachet of dried sour dough from San Fransisco; just thrilling. I’m going to activate it after the summer so I can tend to its needs alongside Prudence.

I’m leaving strict instructions for KP to keep Prudence, my sourdough starter, alive as I’m off to the UK this month. My feet will be planted firmly in stout walking boots striding across the springy grass of the Brecon Beacons in  a couple of weeks time. Just. Can’t. Wait.

Before I leave for the summer I usually do a big clear out of my spice cupboard and restock in September (especially as this year I’m going to my first Indian wedding in Hyderabad). I couldn’t resist a jar of special spice mix, known as B’zaar or Biz’har,  that is used in Emirati cuisine; most families make their own.  This is the first time, to my knowledge, that you can buy some made to a personal secret recipe (which is never revealed). Stocked at Baker and Spice and The Change Initiative.

Puerto Princessa in the Philippines on

Puerto Princessa – Philippines

If you are wondering what’s in other kitchens around the globe, visit Celia’s page and follow the links in her side bar for this monthly event. You can also look back on past goodies in my kitchen here.

*I travelled to the Philippines as a guest of Cebu Pacific Air and the Philippine Department of Tourism so some of my edible souvenirs were gifts, as was the Amira rice and Pana chocolate. Opinions my own.

What’s in your kitchen this July?

  1. July 1, 2015 9:52 am

    I’m in love the with Pana chocolates, especially the dark and mint version as you mentioned. Perfect for baking!

    • July 2, 2015 7:20 am

      Ah – haven’t tried baking with it. It was gone before I got to it 🙂

  2. July 1, 2015 9:53 am

    So many fabulous ingredients! I want some of that b’zar 🙂 enjoy the UK xx

    • July 2, 2015 7:22 am

      B’zar or biz’har is the garam masala of the Emirates. It has stronger notes and a very definite taste (which varies from recipe to recipe). I have some given to me by a friend so interested to see how the family recipes differ. Have a great summer Elaine (or is it Winter where you are?)

      • July 2, 2015 9:06 am

        It will be interesting to know 🙂
        I’m in the UK so it’s full on summer here xx

  3. July 1, 2015 9:55 am

    Love these peek into your kitchen posts – agree with you completely on organic rice. Goa where I’m from grows plenty of rice organically so I try and bring little batches from home every trip. I’m with your vegan teen on the pana chocolate – particularly loved the goji berry & coconut. And very curious about the Biz Har. Happy summer travels to you Sally!

    • July 2, 2015 7:23 am

      If you are in Dubai during the next week I would love to give you some of this organic black rice Rupal. Let me know. Have a great summer.

  4. July 1, 2015 12:44 pm

    I am writing up my own kitchen finds post and sadly it pales in comparison to your exotic offerings and travels. You are so fortunate to have so much Middle Eastern produce and fabulous products on your doorstep, almost quite literally. And your Philippines finds too. Lovely images. Oh, and enjoy your time here in the UK. It’s hotting up nicely. 🙂

    • July 2, 2015 7:24 am

      Ah but you know I’ve been ogling your veg patch on Facebook and longing for summer fruits. See you in September 🙂

  5. July 1, 2015 1:00 pm

    Ooo, I would love one of everything you have.
    Have a beautiful day Sally.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • July 2, 2015 7:37 am

      Fascinating things in your kitchen too Mandy.

  6. July 1, 2015 2:11 pm

    Homemade salted caramel. Say no more…

  7. July 1, 2015 2:18 pm

    Nice pictures!! 😀

  8. July 1, 2015 2:53 pm

    What a haul of fabulous goodies.

  9. July 1, 2015 3:58 pm

    So many lovely products! And your pictures make me swoon. The talk with Diane Jacob must have been such a wonderful experience!

    • July 2, 2015 7:42 am

      She’s such an inspiring person on the page and in real life.

  10. July 1, 2015 4:51 pm

    I loved the sound of the passage about fruit such as cherries from Syria..Reminded of John Masefield’s “Cargoes”…”Quinquirime of Niniveh from distant Ophir”…..”sandalwood, cedar wood and sweet white wine”.

    • July 2, 2015 7:45 am

      You’ve just upped the literary tone of this post by 100% Roger. How beautiful. Ophir is the name of a new very fragrant gin…. now I know where it came from.

  11. July 1, 2015 4:59 pm

    I always love what you have in your kitchen! Did I miss in your post where you obtained the “Biz’Har” from – the packaging is very quaint – would make for lovely gifts to friends back home.

    Maybe I’ll participate in the fall for IMK when I’m back – would be a great way to use all the photos I take of random food ingredients in my kitchen 🙂

    • July 2, 2015 7:46 am

      The Biz’har is sold in Baker and Spice and at the Change Initiative. Do show us what’s in your kitchen on your return – you always have such interesting things.

  12. July 1, 2015 5:38 pm

    Edible mementos are the best travel souveniers, the taste of travel that lingers in the kitchen as well as in the memory. What was your focus theme at the Writers Workshop in Dubai?

    • July 2, 2015 8:24 am

      My slot was about my blogging journey – covered a wide range of topics though. Dianne’s workshops are very inspiring – very honoured to be part of one.

  13. July 1, 2015 5:48 pm

    Beautiful photos as ever Sally. Oh and I have a vegan chocolate and peanut butter mousse she may like coming up soon. I think I’m posting it next week.

    • July 2, 2015 8:25 am

      Sounds interesting – looking forward to seeing that one. You inspire us through the non-vegan times brilliantly.

  14. lizzygoodthings permalink
    July 1, 2015 7:19 pm

    I’m currently travelling overseas too… and trying very hard not to buy souvenirs! : ) We may need to post a parcel of gifts home soon… our cases are already groaning! Thanks for the lovely peek at your kitchen this month. Nice photos!

    • July 2, 2015 8:39 am

      I’ll be in someone else’s kitchen next month too. I’m taking those extra bags that fold up small and then expand capaciously 🙂 Happy travels.

  15. July 1, 2015 9:53 pm

    Oh I am so envious of your trip to the Philippines. Looked absolutely beautiful and such vibrant food you ate too. I also like the look of the soursop jam. I’m not sure I have ever eaten soursop!

    • July 2, 2015 8:40 am

      It was a dream trip I must say. I haven’t tried the jam yet either so I’ll let you know.

  16. July 1, 2015 11:42 pm

    The fruit sounds delicious! We’ve been enjoying rhubarb this June- perfect for non-vegan crumble (only butter will do!)

  17. July 2, 2015 4:08 am

    I’ll be posting my kitchen loves tomorrow, but just had to comment on your mention of clearing out your spice cupboard annually before your holidays. What a brilliant idea & the best way to make sure your spices are all fresh.

    • July 2, 2015 8:52 am

      It is nice to come back to a clean cupboard and I always get a surprise on some of the dates on the jars. Not that you can’t eat them but the potency is lost and I like spicy! Looking forward to seeing what’s in your kitchen 🙂

  18. July 2, 2015 7:24 am

    Thanks for the glimpse into your kitchen. It looks like it was a busy month with July being just as busy. Enjoy your time in the UK and I hope that your sourdough starter is still alive when you get back!

  19. ramblingtart permalink
    July 2, 2015 1:53 pm

    Such beautiful things brightening up your kitchen. 🙂 In mine this week are duck eggs from my crazy ducks who randomly decided to start laying in the middle of winter. 🙂

  20. July 2, 2015 5:21 pm

    Have you tried the Tolpuddle yet? Will be interested to hear see what you think 🙂

  21. glamorous glutton permalink
    July 2, 2015 8:11 pm

    Your description of the seasonal fruits is wonderful. We often have the silver card holding hard stuff too. Especially apricots which are always disappointing. Enjoy your Brecon Beacon Break. GG

  22. July 3, 2015 4:57 pm

    Lovely photo’s and such gorgeous things and I love the way you describe them. Pana Chocolates are my new favourites, I love the Nuts one. Enjoy your holidays.

  23. July 4, 2015 1:46 am

    Such interesting things in your kitchen!

  24. July 4, 2015 4:21 pm

    Looks like a lot of tasty treats in your kitchen!

  25. July 6, 2015 10:23 am

    I must look out for some pink grapefruit gin! And enjoy your South African wines. Be careful on the Brecon Beacons, people have been struck by lightening there this past weekend. Lovely goodies in your kitchen this month 🙂

  26. July 6, 2015 12:27 pm

    Once again you have wowed me with the selection in your kitchen. The Philippines has slowly climbed towards the top of my travel list as I’m looking for a few shorter trips this year and next. Your post has added inspiration. Do you follow Delicious Everyday? She has many fantastic vegan desserts for those who don’t each chocolate. Her latest choc mousse is impressive, even to this carnivore!

    Thanks for the tour

    ps: I love your collages. Is that a WordPress plug in or something you have created yourself? If it’s a plugin, can you share the name? Thanks

  27. July 6, 2015 1:40 pm

    What a WONDERFUL post that you inspired me with your food and photos! Love the soursop jam!
    Thanks for this month’s kitchen view also!

  28. July 6, 2015 5:18 pm

    You are indeed a woman of travel – I have come to see that vegans with a sweet tooth have a harder time of it than vegetarians with a sweet tooth like me – glad the pana chocolate has helped your teen – enjoy the cooler weather in the UK (comparatively speaking I guess as they have their own heatwave)

  29. July 7, 2015 11:45 am

    Beautiful collection of delicious photos Sally and I am with you on how easy home-made salted caramel is to make. Have a wonderful summer. 🙂

  30. karen278 permalink
    July 8, 2015 12:02 pm

    LOVELY photos and I LOVE your Instagram feed Sally, as you may know! I am also a BIG fan of fast and simple caramel! Karen

  31. choclette permalink
    July 12, 2015 12:30 am

    Bringing interesting food items back with your from travels is a must and the ones you acquired in the Philippines look so interesting. Black rice? I want some.

    I thought of you today as we passed the Edgecumbe at Cotehele – the gardens were looking stunning.

  32. July 27, 2015 10:17 am

    such interesting things in your kitchen sally. soursop jam sounds interesting as do all the other fascinating items. have never been to the phillipines. i bet it is interesting too. pink grapefruit gin sounds the business. fab.!

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