Category:  Nancy’s Articles

Home » Archive by category "Nancy’s Articles" (Page 3)

Traditions in Tallinn, Estonia

In Nancy's Articles On August 17, 2013 1 Comment

On June 30, my group and I disembarked from our cruise and set foot on Estonian territory. Even before we left our stateroom, the panorama of Tallinn was astounding. Never heard of Tallinn? It happens to be the capital of Estonia, which is located in the Gulf of Finland, just 50 miles south of Helsinki. In 2011, Tallinn was ranked as a global city and is one among 10 digital cities in the world. This means that the capital has a strong economy and its people are happy. Although Tallinnians (I think that’s how they call themselves) follow contemporary trends, they are also very proud of their rich history.

As a tourist, one is surprised to stumble upon the wealth of cultural traditions in Tallinn. In fact, after walking through a few medieval arches, I was surprised by such colorful architecture.


It was Sunday, and the day started slowly, but soon many other tourists crowded the streets. It didn’t seem to matter, since my focus was on the aesthetics of local traditions – they astounded me.


Tallinn’s historic center abounds with preserved architecture from the Middle Ages and beyond.


No matter which plaza you’re at, you’ll notice that the locals of Tallinn make you feel right at home.


Although it was summertime, this merchant urged her customers to plan ahead and stay warm in the cold months ahead. She sold exquisitely-handcrafted winter mittens and gloves. Honestly, how could one resist that smile?


However, the Medieval Shop caught my eye and I literally ran in.


Being a chef and entertainer, I could not resist the modern glasses, fashioned in the medieval manner. As I handled the glasses, I remembered that in the Mid Ages, people reached for roasts of meat with a dagger and then handled the food with their hands. As hands became greasy, diners got a steady grip on glasses by holding on to the “prunts” or exterior bubble-like protrusions. These glasses are modern versions of prunted beakers.


As we left the shop, we noticed a restaurant that was about to transport us back to the 13th century.


Obviously, this is where the culinary aspect of Tallinn began, for we immediately arrived at Olde Hansa, a restaurant whose design and fare is based on a merchant’s home from the 1200’s to 1400’s. We sat outdoors and were immediately served a coarse but rich-tasting bread with creamy, herbed butter. Mmmmm – not bad at all for the Middle Ages.


Since there was no coffee during that time period, I wondered if this restaurant truly played the part. So what did I ask for? You got it!


Our server was fantastic, never letting on that she was “frazzled” by so many demanding guests at the Hansa Merchant’s home.


Although we dined outdoors, some guests asked to be served in the banqueting hall.


No matter where one sits, the fare is delish! Can you see the salmon, caviar, eggs, pickles and bread?


True to the times of about seven hundred years ago, spices were used in abundance.


Imported cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pepper and other costly ingredients were added to meats, sauces, vegetables and more.


I felt that everything I read about Medieval times truly came to life on June 30th. I experienced a memorable day in the Middle Ages.


Well, not quite. I wasn’t dressed appropriately. But this flute-player was in full costume.


Finally, we had to get back to our ship, but not before doing some last-minute shopping.


And then – it was back to the 21st century.


We all had a blast in Tallinn!

Text and Photographs ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Au Petit Poucet Restaurant, Val-David, Quebec, Canada

In Nancy's Articles On January 14, 2013 0 Comments

Have you been wondering where to find that perfect winter wonderland? Look no more, ’cause I found it for you on my December 2012 trip to Quebec, Canada.

Between Christmas and New Year, my family and I drove north, away from Montreal and towards Mont Tremblant Ski Resort. We were so taken by the beautiful forest sceneries in the Laurentian Mountains that we didn’t make it past Val-David (a little over an hour out of Montreal).

As we looked around us, we thought we were dreaming. Well, we quickly discovered it wasn’t a dream because our stomachs started growling and we needed some eats. So we stopped at Au Petit Poucetrestaurant, located on Route 117.

No doubt, you get that log-cabin atmosphere complete with the warmth of a monumental fireplace – obviously, the centerpiece of the restaurant.


When you walk in from the cold, you’re ready to devour those “hungry man” breakfasts.

Or, if you’re the type that can control your devouring capabilities, you can always opt for that lighter fare.

Au Petit Poucet carries an unbelievable selection of homemade jams, jellies, foie gras and relishes which the Québecois call ketchup aux fruits.

My two favs, however, are the gourmet meat pie, tourtière and, of course,

the French onion soup known as soupe à l’oignon.

The highlights of Au Petit Poucet are the great people all around you; and, the food products which are natural, seasonal and made in Québec.

Au Petit Poucet
1030 Route 117
Val-David, Quebec, Canada J0T-2N0
Tel. 819-322-2246
Toll Free Tel. 888-334-2246

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Day of the Dead – Dia de los Muertos (Spanish)

In Nancy's Articles On October 28, 2012 0 Comments

In various cultures around the world, the Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos (Spanish) is celebrated on November 1 and November 2. It corresponds with the Roman Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, respectively. In Mexico, the Day of the Dead is a national holiday. It is a day when families get together (such as the skeleton family in the above photograph – lol!).

Altars, such as this one, are built to commemorate dead family members ad friends. Serving as shrines, the altars hold skulls made of sugar and marigolds. Articles that belonged to the deceased, as well as their favorite foods, are then transported by families to grave sites where festivities follow.

Notice the glazed, textured bread – it is known as pan de muertos (literally translated as Bread of the Dead). During this holiday, large versions such as this one or mini versions of pan de muertos are found in bakeries all over Mexico.

Day of the Dead rituals go as far back as 2,500 to 3,000 years ago, to the pre-Hispanic era in Mexico. Skulls, which symbolized death and rebirth, were kept and displayed as trophies by indigenous peoples.

The above skulls are my own trophies which represent party-time – they’re filled with Tequila!

Ancient festivities and rituals, however, took place in August, the ninth month of the Aztec calendar. They were dedicated to the goddess of the dead or the modern-day Catrina.

Catrina is an upper-class skeleton woman – isn’t she sexy? There are many versions of her, as you can see.

This one is reminiscent of Twiggy – the famous 1960’s model – is she alive or is she remembered on Day of the Dead in Mexico?

Photograph credit ©Tomas Castelazo Commons/License CC-BY-SA-3.0

By far, my fav Catrinas are these two!
Which are your favorite sexy skeletons?

In honor of Mexico, its art, food and culture, I’ve posted a special recipe on this website – Mexican Pumpkin Treat. Find it in Recipe index, under Desserts, Creams & Sauces; and Vegetables.
Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Text and Photographs of Skeleton Family, Altar, Skulls, Blue Catrina, Black-Haired Catrina and Mexican Pumpkin Treat ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real

Lebanese Taverna, Washington D.C.

In Nancy's Articles On July 30, 2012 0 Comments
On June 16th, in Washington, D.C., I discovered one of the best Lebanese restaurants ever – Lebanese Taverna. From D.C., find out your metro direction and get off at the 
Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan stop. 
By the time you get there and come up for air (at this metro stop), the first thing you’ll see across the street is this beautiful view of Lebanese Taverna.
You should immediately run across the street, get a table on that cozy patio and order 
Flat Bread with Mixed Herb (Mamakish Bd Zaatar).
The bread is homemade and piping hot. One taste of this bread with the mixed herb dip will tease your taste buds to the point where you won’t be able to stop eating. 
No worries – Moukhtar, the best server in the world, will bring you more with some of the restaurant’s best appetizers,
Eggplant Dip (Baba Ghannouge – it’s spelled this way on the menu)
Spiced Age Feta (Shamkleesh).
The feta balls are rolled in paprika, zaatar, sumac and olives). Yumm-O!
You can’t miss the Calamari (Kalamar). 
By far, these calamari stand out amongst all others because of their crispy-light texture.
Next, the Chicken Kabobs are perfectly grilled and succulent.
Finally, the greatest adventure in a Lebanese meal …
… is undoubtedly baklava. This one is unique due to its pistachio filling and
 flaky filo pastry. 
The delicate homemade flavors of Lebanese Taverna‘s cuisine will have me flying back to D.C. in no time. 
Bon Appetit!
(Woodley Park)
2641 Connecticut Avenue
NW Washington DC
Telephone: 202-265-8681

Text and Photograph ©2012 Nancy DeLucia Real


In Nancy's Articles On February 12, 2012 0 Comments

The gastronomic discovery of the year is Julienne, a French bistro located in San Marino (close to Pasadena).

There’s nothing like starting your day with a gourmet breakfast in a quaint indoor or outdoor setting reminiscent of Provence.

Presenting French Toast Julienne with Pure Maple Syrup.

With such a rich atmosphere and the feeling of having escaped to the south of France, we’re beaming, aren’t we?

It’s not until one of us decides to go powder our nose that a magical discovery is made behind the restaurant. There it is – the bakery and store that’ll flabbergast any foodie!

Jul Display

Now that Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, go and check out the beautiful gift items on display at Julienne.

But pour moi, the true essence of this establishment is found in the fine gourmet items that can make a cook go wild. What I mean is that once you spot the variety of “moutardes” or mustards, olive oils or fine wine, you’ll forget all about your budget.


olive oils

No worries – with such high quality tastes on their palates, you’ll impress ’em all. Unfamiliar with wine? Just pick any bottle and ask Kate, the general manager, to advise you on it.

Check out Julienne’s cookbook – it’s pretty amazing. This is a great item to bring home with the wine. If you don’t want to cook, simply choose from a wide variety of freshly made savory foods, salads and fantastic vegetables (no photos – just go there and see for yourself).

Finally, for the grand finale of the French dinner you’ll host, pick up some awesome macaroons

and marzipan. With these two items on your dessert table, you’ve just outdone yourself.

And it’s all thanks to Julienne!
Julienne Fine Foods & Celebrations
2651 Mission Street
San Marino, CA. 91108

Text & Photographs ©Nancy DeLucia Real