Fall Farmer's Market Finds: Fig Mojito!

Pin It Some of you may recall my Mojito obsession and the "best ever"  Blueberry Mojitos I made back in July when blueberries were plentiful.  Well, that ship has sailed, but it's no reason to get down.  Trust me.  You can still have your Mojito and drink it, too.  Especially in this dressed up fall version of the summer classic.
What's giving this mojito it's gorgeous pink hue?  Well, that my friends, is a fig.  If you are like me and have only had figs in the form of newtons before, you are in for a real treat.
I picked these figgies up at last weekend's farmer's market.  I wanted to make a fall version of my favorite cocktail and was on the hunt for fill in fall produce here.   When I came across these figs, I knew they would be the ticket to my Fall Fig Mojito
Upon slicing, Figs reveal their vibrant magenta flesh.  This, though gorgeous, is not the best way to get the figs in the form you want for the Figgy Mojitos.
It's best to peel them, like you would an orange.
Then slice your figs them into small pieces.
I took the advice of a reader and made this mojito a little different than the last.  This time I used homemade simple syrup, which really is as simple as it sounds.  To start, add the juice of one lime, 2 T of simple syrup and 1 small fig chopped to your glass. 
 Muddle together.
Clap mint together in your hands a few times, slightly bruising the mint to release the flavor (this was another reader tip!).  Add a shot of Havana (or whatever rum you have) and gently muddle.
I love the crunchy fig seeds.
Top with crushed ice & sparkling water. 
Garnish with lime and a slice of fresh fig.
 There you have a it.  A mojito perfect for the fall weather.  The fig paired really well with the lime and mint.  I am thinking a 4 Seasons of Mojito series coming at ch'ya!  Stay tuned.

Fall Fig Mojito


2 T simple syrup (instructions as follows)
1 lime, juiced (plus more lime for garnish)
1 fig, peeled and chopped (plus more for garnish)
1 shot of white rum (Havana is my preferred rum)
a handful of fresh mint
Sparkling water (soda water)


Combine simple syrup, lime juice and chopped fig to a glass.  Muddle together until most pieces are broken apart.  Clap mint in hands a few times to release the flavor.  Add mint and rum.  Muddle gently.  Add crushed ice to to fill up glass.  Top with sparkling water.  Garnish with fresh fig and lime.

Simple Syrup

Equal parts: 

In a small sauce pan warm water and bring to a slow boil, add sugar until dissolved.

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Fall Farmer's Market Finds: Creamy Goat Cheese & Apple Baguette

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This gal went to the market.  It's been a while since I have been and the joint was booming with fall produce.  Lots of which is relatively new for me from a cooking perspective and some even from an eating perspective.  I got lots of good stuff, including 3 new veggies/fruits to experiment with....
Which three items?
Guess.  No, really, guess.  Yes, I am one of those people who when I say guess, I really mean guess.  Paul hates it.  I love it.  My dad plays along with it everytime I make him do it.  Don't worry, you'll find out in my new Fall Farmer's Market Series.

What to make with all this glorious fresh fall produce?  I have no idea yet, but I'll be sure to keep you informed throughout the week on what's cooking.  Ideas anyone?  What are your fall favorites? I'd love to feature some reader's favorite recipes. 

This fall is going to be about eating in season, starting with lunch. 
Lunch's Fall Produce Spotlight: Apples
They sure are good this time of year.  Not much beats an organic apple in the peak of it's season.  I like mine mostly sour and a little sweet.  I was eating one at work the other day and going really nuts over it.  It had to have been the best apple of my life.  Just when I was getting bored of apples, they threw me a curve ball and I am hooked all over again.  My co-workers thought I was weird.  Who am I kidding?  They always do, regardless of my Wednesday afternoon apple-gasm.
For today's lunch, I topped a fresh baguette with creamy goat cheese, a drizzle of honey, and some
fresh apple slices.  Then I toasted it for a few minutes until the cheese was warmed and the bread slightly toasted.
Add a little spinach and you have got yourself a Creamy Goat Cheese & Apple Baguette. 
Delicious, easy, fresh and a little gourmet.  I love honey with goat cheese.  If you wanted to make it a little more complex, add bacon.  Bacon, honey & goat cheese are the perfect combination of flavors, in my opinion.  It doesn't get much better than that.

Creamy Goat Cheese & Apple Baguette
 serves 1

1/2 fresh baguette
~1/4 c goat cheese or enough to generously cover baguette (depends on the size of the baguette!)
drizzle of honey
1/2 apple, sliced
a handful of spinach


Slice baguette in half.  Top with goat cheese, a drizzle of honey and enough apple slices to cover the surface.  Toast open faced in a toaster oven for a few minutes until baguette is slightly toasted and cheese is warmed, but not melted.  Add spinach.  Serve.
Don't forget to send me your fall favorite recipes at aglobetrottersfare{at}gmail{dot}com!

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Pass the Bubbly: Girl's Trip to Champagne

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This may seem silly when spending a weekend in a wine region but one of the highlights for me was the sight of grapes!  I was just gushing over them.  So plump and juicy, a description that's going by looks alone.  No, I didn't have the guts to try one.  Am I kicking myself?  Not really, grapes have a lot of grody pesticides (yes, I am a little crazy when it comes to stuff like that).  

We have been to a few wine regions.... but never when there were actual grapes in the vineyards. 

See below:
 {Chianti in March}  
If I loved Chianti when it looked like this, I can't even imagine how I would feel about the region right before harvest.
 {Alsace in May}  
Green and Lush, but grapes the size of peas!  Really charming villages & great wines make Alsace a perfect weekend getaway from Brussels.
{Champagne in September}
Now that you understand how a few grapes can really get a girl going, we can continue.

We left Brussels at 7 am for the 3.5 hour drive to our first stop.  No easy feat on a Saturday morning.  We arrived a little early, so we took the liberty to wander around some vineyards near the Champagne house we were visiting. 
So like any girls waiting for their Champagne Tour and Tasting, we did a vineyard photo shoot.  Naturally.

Then we got busted.  We weren't sure how the French would feel about a group of tourist wandering through their vineyards, but apparently they don't mind.  They'll even pose for your picture!
Happy as a clam.  I would be too, if I woke up to this view everyday.
The views are great, but let's get to the good stuff.  The Bubbly.

We started at Lagache Champagne House, a medium sized house in the village of Pierry, just outside of Epernay, the capital of the Champagne region.
We began with a private tour given by the owner's daughter, Catherine.  Having done tours in wine regions before, it was interesting to hear about the different processes needed to make sparkling wine or Champagne (which is sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region).  The tour was very informative and just the right length.

Now, let's get to the fun part.  The tasting. 

I wasn't sure what to expect as I have never been to the region before and all wine regions seem to be a little different.  Seeing that this tasting and tour were free, my expectations weren't high.  However, we were pleasantly surprised.  In fact, this tasting ended up being most generous & fun tasting on the whole trip to the region (did I mention it was free! :) Booyah)!  I should also mention that similar to Alsace, the only way to show your appreciation for their service and product is to buy lots of Champagne.*

And the Champagne?  Well, it was amahzing!
We started out with the Cuvée Brut, which was light, crisp and overall very pleasant.  A Champagne you could drink daily at brunch, if one could be so lucky.  They say a Champagne a day keeps the doctor away.  Wait, what?  Oh, that's an apple you say?  Oh well, a girl needs to get her fruit servings in one way or another.

Next up was the Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Cru Réserve, which I think was my favorite of the four we tried.  This one, made with 100% Chardonnay, also light, but a bit more flavorful than the first, had hints of vanilla and a nice finish.  It was tough to choose a favorite, because each is so delicious in it's own right. 
 Third, was the rosé.  There is just something about pink Champagne that really gets me going.  Okay, a lot about this post seems to be getting me going.  What can I say?  I just loved everything about Champagne (the drink and the region)!
 Did you know the bubbles form from the imperfections in the glass?  I had no idea.  Anyway, back to the bubbly.  This pink Champagne would be the perfect beverage at a Bridal Shower or the morning before a wedding....or  better yet,  just for a girl's night in!  Good thing I bought a few bottles to bring back with me ;)
Last was the Cuvée Grand Cru, produced in smaller quantities than the first two, it takes certain qualifications for a Champagne to be classified a Grand Cru (and is based on the specific area of the region the grapes are grown).  The Grand Cru was a treat, with warm nutty tones, it was full bodied, but not overpowering.

One of the best parts about our tasting with Catherine, was that it was a very personal and intimate setting. We were able to ask questions, hear stories about the harvest, talk marketing strategies (yes, we shamefully admitted that it's all about the label for us) and have some girl talk of our own.  Catherine is really passionate about the Champagne and is going to follow in her father and uncle's footsteps and help run the Champagne house someday.  Sounds pretty amazing to me. 

*As mentioned above, the only way to show your appreciation is by buying the Champagne.  And buy we did.
Good thing we packed light! 
I think I'll put a bottle in the fridge tonight.  After all, we learned Champagne isn't only for celebrations.  Why do we need to have an excuse to drink such a wonderful beverage?
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Good Bye Heirloom Tomato-We Will Meet Again Salad

Pin It I hate good byes.

Living in a foreign country and being friends with mostly expats, good byes are an inevitable part of life.
I just recently had a pre-good bye dinner with one of my good friends here.  It's like practice for the actual good bye.
The actual good-bye dinner is next week.  It's easier to say good-bye if you do so in stages.  The good thing is, my friend is going back to the States... so this is just "good bye for now." 
I guess I had good byes on the brain, because I quite ceremoniously made this Good Bye Heirloom Tomato-We Will Meet Again Salad for dinner the other day.  I ate it alone, thinking about all of the delicious juicy vine ripened reds, zebra greens and heirloom noirs I ate over the summer.  It takes me back to my grandpa's garden as a kid.  We really scarfed 'em down.  
Here's hoping this was a pre-good bye and that next weekend at the market I can pick up a few more of the late season crop.  Like with my friend, I am not quite ready to say good-bye, even just for now.
 It's pretty self explanatory.  Get yourself some heirlooms and make a salad.  Before it's too late.

To B:  Sorry for comparing our friendship to the end of tomato season.  I really will miss you, lots. <3, e

Good Bye Heirloom Tomato-We Will Meet Again Salad

3 Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced
a sprinkle of freshly chopped basil
a drizzle of good EVOO
sea salt & cracked pepper
Fresh Mozz, if you want, but with these heirlooms, you don't even need it!

Layer ingredients in the order listed.   Pin It


Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese

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Enter fall. 
 Enter Steamin' Hot Sweet Potatoes.
Enter a trio of creamy cheeses.
 Enter Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese.
Yes, that is potatoes ON pasta.
With cheese.
These cheeses cheese cheeses (google now: cheese plural):

Rich Creamy Goat Cheese, Brie de Meaux (sans rind) & Belgian Gouda Cheese.

Is it just me, or is the word cheese is starting to weird you out, too? Cheese, cheese, cheese.  Okay, now, I am questioning how you even spell cheese.   CheaseCheeze? :)  Cheese?  Yes, it's definitely Cheese.

Enter Paul.  
"Hey Paul, how do you spell cheese?"  
"There is no a," Paul confirms. 
"What about a z?" I ask, half-jokingly. 
He offers me a dumb look.  I guess that's a no?
Phew, here I thought I was losing it.

Back to the Sweet Potato Mac and Squeeze (I can't bear to type the "c" word on more time).
Bring pureed sweet potato and milk to an "almost" boil, then gently fold in the cheese.  Once cheese is melted and sauce has a consistent texture, add in a pinch of nutmeg (optional) and some salt and pepper.  Add noodles, and serve.
The only thing time consuming about this recipe is baking the sweet potatoes, but I suspect you could do this the night before, maybe while you are already baking something else for even more efficiency.  If baked ahead of time, this would be an easy week night meal.
The sauce, a little sweet and perfectly savory, was a nice change from the usual mac and cheese sauce. 
I would imagine this to be a good way to sneak in veggies for the kids, especially since sweet potatoes offer so many great health benefits.  Based on looks alone, no one would suspect this orange pasta sauce to be full of vitamins and antioxidants.

Sweet Potato Mac & Cheese
as adapted from Healthy Food for Living

serves 4

8 oz uncooked macaroni (or pasta of choice)
3 sweet potatoes (or ~1.5 c pureed sweet potato)
1 c milk (I used almond because that is what we had)
2/3 c Goat Cheese
1/2 c Brie (without rind)
1/2 c Gouda
pinch of nutmeg
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Bake Sweet Potatoes, pierced with a fork, at 425 F for1 hour, or until flesh is soft.  Remove flesh and puree (I just mashed with a fork).  Cook pasta according to directions to al dente.  In a saucepan heat sweet potato puree and milk to a slow boil.  Reduce heat and add cheese.  Mix until texture is consistent.  Add a pinch of nutmeg (if desired) and a dash of salt and pepper.  Fold in noodles.  Serve.  Add Salt and pepper as desired.

Bon Appétit!
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