Tag Archives: food

National Corn Chip Day

Happy Cornchip day! A cornchip, otherwise known as tortilla chip, is a traditional Mexican food made from corn tortillas that are cut into triangle shaped wedges and then fried or baked, depending on the recipe. Made from vegetable oil, corn, salt and water, tortilla chips are used widely in nachos and as crisps, but they have always been considered a traditional Mexican food. Tortilla chips can come in several different colours, including red, blue and green, depending on the variety of corn used in the mix.

They were first created as a way of reusing the rejected, misshaped tortillas made by Ms Carranza and her husband in their Los Angeles tortilla factory. She found that by cutting the tortillas up and then frying them, they could be sold as a snack, and she made a great success out of selling them. Eventually tortilla chips were used in their own creative recipes, accompanied by salsa or guacamole dips, or slathered in cheese and called ‘nachos’. Nachos are an incredibly popular way to eat tortilla chips, and can be savoury or spicy. Nachos are generally a vegetarian dish, but chicken or mince can be chopped up and sprinkled over the tortilla chips to add flavour.

Nachos tend to be a pretty easy dish to make, but for such a simple recipe, many restaurateurs across the world have managed to add their own twist to the classic dish. We’ve compiled a short list of some of the more innovative ideas for nachos.

Steak Nachos


Have your steak, and eat it! These nachos are a step away from the classic tortilla; salsa; cheese combo. These delicious nachos come peppered with slices of rich cooked steak, with a ranch style dressing drizzled over the top to complete the meal. Very American!


Popcorn Nachos

Sounds a little strange doesn’t it? Not to fear, for the recipe for popcorn nachos is exactly the same as your plain nacho recipe, just…substituting the tortilla chips for popcorn. It might make a healthier option, but then again, you wouldn’t be likely to make nachos in the first place if you wanted a healthy meal.

Dessert Nachos

dessert-nachosAnd now for some after dinner snacks. Dessert nachos are made with sugar and cinnamon in place of the salt content in the normal recipe. They work as like a deep fried crepe or pancake, and can be drizzled with chocolate, lemon, cream, various fruits or whatever sweet toppings you feel like adding that day.

Ham and Asparagus Nachos

Going down the healthy route, ham and asparagus is generally a very good combination. But added to tortilla chips with a sprinkling of low fat margarita cheese just doesn’t seem like the best way to eat it to us. Alternatively this could make an ice-breaking appetiser if you are planning on hosting a Mexican/Upper Class Britain themed party.

Ultimately it’s your nacho and your choice, but if you want a taste of the real thing, you can always head on over to Mexico to try traditional Nachos from the hilariously named Nacho Daddy Restaurant & Bar, located a short 6 minutes drive from Puerto Vallarta town centre.

National Tempura Day – A Taste of Japan

Well yesterday was National Tempura Day! A traditional battered dish made in Japan, Tempura was originally brought over to Japan from Portugal in the sixteenth century. It is a popular dish because it is still delicious while being reasonably healthy.

fried-tempuraTempura is made by deep frying vegetables, fish, shrimp or egg in a light batter. The batter is made from cold water and wheat flour although other ingredients can be used such as eggs, baking soda, oil or spices depending on your taste to change the flavour of the tempura. It can be eaten on its own or as a side dish to a main course of noodles in soup stock or curry.

Because Tempura is only lightly fried, and the batter is made from a special grade of wheat flour which is normally low in gluten, it is still a healthy dish, while being delicious and easy to eat. If you are thinking of making your own tempura, why not try these few tips for extra crispiness and deliciousness!

Use cold or ice water when making the batter

As this prevents the batter from absorbing too much oil, which can lead to the tempura becoming soggy and greasy. Crispy tempura is better!

Make it up on the spot!

Sometimes it is good to prepare foods ahead of time. A lot of Japanese food has to be prepared beforehand so that it has enough time to mature, or so that the food is safe to eat. However with tempura, it is better not to prepare the batter beforehand. Making it right before you plan to cook it is best!

The ideal temperature for frying tempura is between 170 and 180 degrees Celsius (340-360 Fahrenheit), and a way to test this is to drop a little bit of batter into the oil. If the batter bobs down into the oil and then comes up, instead of coming straight to the top, it is at the right temperature.

The order and between batches

If you are frying vegetables and seafood it is better to fry vegetables first, then seafood. There will be leftover batter that will simply fry in the pan when you cover the vegetables or seafood. This is known as Tenkasu and should be scooped out with an Ami Jakushi or small strainer, in order to keep them from burning and thus ruining the flavour of the oil. These Tenkasu can be used in other noodle and soup dishes.

Try your hand at cooking your own batch of tempura, or if you are planning a trip to Japan, it is certainly a simple dish that most will enjoy! There are several thousand great restaurants within walking or driving distance by a Shinjuku hired car in Tokyo and other main cities in Japan, and as Tempura is such an easy dish it is normally included in a main meal or as a supplement in noodle or Udon dishes. Itadakimasu!


Getting Around Oslo

Last year, I jetted off to Oslo for a long weekend break over the summer. I’m not especially good in the heat, so I fancied somewhere I could roam around without melting! As a destination, Oslo certainly didn’t disappoint, and while we managed to avoid the rain, it was gloriously mild throughout the entire trip, which was much appreciated.


Oslo is incredibly easy to get around, and you have lots of options. It’s a relatively small city considering it’s a capital, so as long as you don’t mind cobbles you can take a pleasant stroll around without too much trouble. Lots of the locals seem to cycle, so if you feel comfortable cycling in another city you could hire a bike. You could get a smartcard to enable you to use the popular City Bikes (Oslo Bysykkel) if you intend to cycle a lot.

If you’re thinking of going a little further afield, or just want to save your legs after a long day of countryside hiking, the bus and tram services are excellent. They are extremely regular and everyone in the stations and tourist information centres speaks flawless English so can offer you lots of help. You can get an Oslo Card which not only gives you free or reduced entry to all the main attractions in the city, but you will also get access to free public transport which is really handy if you intend to explore the area thoroughly.

While I was in Oslo, I took a trip to Drøbak, a small town close to the Norwegian capital. This involved a bus ride alongside the beautiful fjord, which was relatively straightforward, but the one problem we found was that the buses between Oslo and Drøbak aren’t always too frequent, especially in off peak seasons, so it might be a better idea to hire a car in Oslo if you’re thinking of venturing outside of Oslo. There are lots of pretty towns in southern Norway, so a car gives you the freedom to plan your own schedule without getting stuck somewhere remote for hours.

The real highlight of Oslo’s transport is the stunning boats you can take from Oslo harbour around the fjord. These can take you to the ‘museum peninsula’, with its fascinating Fram Museum and Kon-Tiki Museum, as well as others, and to various other points around Oslo, including some of the little islands sitting in the middle of the fjord. Seeing the area by water is the perfect way to get a real feel for the natural beauty of Scandinavia.

In a nutshell, if you want a city that’s really accessible and easy to move around, Oslo is perfect! Just don’t be expecting to do too much sunbathing while you’re there…

Written by our intrepid traveller, Kayleigh.

Cape Town Airport Guide

Cape Town Airport is the primary airport serving South Africa’s second most populated city, Cape Town, and is situated 20 km from its city centre. It is the second busiest in the country and the third busiest in Africa, with more than 8.5 million passenger movements recorded from 2011-2012. The majority of passengers using this airport are domestic travellers.

Cape Town Airport

Cape Town is the Western Cape’s provincial capital, and is most famous for its harbour and natural beauty, including Table Mountain, which is situated in a National Park, and Cape Point. As Africa’s most popular tourist destination, there are many activities and things to see in Cape Town. It is much-loved by sunseekers and hikers alike, with white sandy beaches flanked with bars and restaurants, and many walking routes leading through regions of spectacular scenery. Surfing is another common activity in Cape Town.

It is easy to access Cape Town Airport, with the easiest public transport link being a shuttle bus connecting the airport with the city centre’s Civic Centre bus station, with buses running every 20 minutes for throughout most of the day. While a rail station has been proposed for the airport, starting in 2013, there is currently no rail link to the city. Alternatively, airport rental cars can be arranged at the car hire desks in arrivals, with the quickest route into Cape Town being the N2 freeway, which can be accessed through Airport Approach Road.  Alternatively, cars can be rented from other locations in South Africa.

There are separate domestic and international terminals with five air bridges each, with one large central terminal connecting the two in which check-ins are handled using 120 desks. The terminals are within walking distance of one another, with a shuttle bus taking passengers to the car parks. Arrivals take place on the lower floors with departures on the upper floors. There are meeting areas in arrivals where passengers can arrange to meet friends and relatives. The bagging system, located in the central terminal, can handle up to 30,000 bags an hour.

The airport has direct flights both domestically and internationally, to South Africa’s other big airports, Durban and Johannesburg, and countries throughout Africa, Asia and Europe. The route connecting Cape Town and Johannesburg was the ninth busiest in 2011 with more than 4.5 million passengers making this journey. Other important routes include those to London Heathrow and Buenos Aires.

Airlines using Cape Town Airport include Mango, Kulula and Airlink, which deal with domestic flights, and British Airways, Emirates and Qatar Airways among the airlines providing international routes. Another runway has been proposed to handle larger aircraft. By 2015, 14 million passengers a year are expected to use Cape Town Airport.

Bars and Restaurants

Restaurants can be found on the third level above departures, including one very large restaurant overlooking the terminal’s airside. There is an extensive range of food and drinks facilities comprising casual coffee shops, fast food outlets and juice bars, as well as establishments for full sit-down meals.


There are shops on the arrivals level of the terminal along with on the airside in departures. Duty-free shopping, souvenir shops, clothing stores and grocery outlets are available. Luxury goods, sportswear and electronics shops can also be found in departures.

Business Services

A shoe shine service can be found on the airside in the international terminal. There are VIP and executive lounges in both terminals offering refreshments, reading material and a comfortable place to relax or work before a flight. The conference centre can be found near the domestic terminal, and acts as a venue for meetings, seminars and conferences, along with offices for hire with a secretarial service.

Travel Services

Services offered at Cape Town Airport include two bureaux de changes, a post office, two banks and baggage wrapping facilities. There are also VAT and tax refund desks located on the airside and landside respectively.

Disabled Facilities

Disabled passengers should call the Landside hotline on +27 21 935 3737 to arrange for a wheelchair, which can be collected at the ground floor and check-in information desks situated in the central terminal building. Wheelchair assistance between the terminal and aircraft can also be arranged by contacting the relevant airline up to 48 hours before the flight.