Siem Reap with Passion Passport

Disclosure: I was invited on this trip by Passion Passport.

After discovering Hong Kong with Passion Passport and Cathay Pacific, we set off into smaller groups to explore a few other destinations in Asia. My travel buds – AlanNeil and Callum – and I headed to Siem Reap in Cambodia. It’s been a few months now, but the memories and feelings are still so vivid. (Check out my fish amok recipe and a few thoughts on Cambodian food.) I wanted to share some more photos from our adventures.

Wherever I go, I try to visit where the locals do their food shopping. It’s a fascinating place to people-watch, observe what foods we share in common and learn about new ones. There was so much to take in at Psah Chas – the colours of the exotic fruit, the smells of herbs and fermenting fish, and the sound of the Khmer folk chatting and doing trade.

Tucked in between busy streets in the centre of Siem Reap, we stumbled upon a little haven called Wat Damnak. It used to be a palace, but is now home to a school, public library and a few educational charities. Definitely worth an explore.

There are over 3000 ancient temples across the country. Even though we were only in Siem Reap for a few days, we made sure to pay our respects and take in the wonder of a few of them. Beng Mealea is a sandstone Hindu temple that is charmingly intertwined with the forest around it. I thought it had a completely different vibe to the majestic Angkor Wat, and I thoroughly enjoyed clambering over the rocks and roots to explore deeper.

Angkor Wat is huge! We made two journeys to explore the compound, the first was at golden hour in the evening, shortly before the temple closed its doors to tourists.

Knowing that most visitors start at Angkor Wat at sunrise, we headed for Bayon… and our decision definitely paid off! Arriving at the silhouetted giant heads before dawn, there wasn’t another person in sight apart from a few monks that glided through the complex silently. As the sun rose, the temple’s 200 faces of Lokesvara all smiled serenely, and that morning it felt like a secret that we were briefly allowed in on.

I am eternally grateful to Passion Passport and Cathay Pacific for bringing me on this trip of a lifetime! I hope to return to Cambodia to explore more of this beautiful country, learn of its poignant past and meet more wonderful Khmer people.


Blood Orange and Fennel Salad

Every year, my boyfriend and I explore a new area of Italy. So far we’ve been to Turin, Sicily, Bologna and around Tuscany. Of course food is a big part of our adventures. We like to pick an apartment that’s within walking distance to a local market to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and fish to cook with… as well as discovering local restaurants and eateries to inspire us.

One of my favourite memories is a delightful meal we had by candlelight somewhere on the island of Ortigia. A group of young buskers sang Stand Up nearby, everyone was merry on local wine, and I had my first taste of the magic combination that is blood orange with fennel. So when I spotted these golden beauties in Borough Market recently, I immediately wanted to recreate the recipe to bring back those memories of our Sicilian summer.

2 blood oranges
½ bulb fennel
Olive oil
Lemon juice
½ tsp fennel seeds
Salt
Pepper

Carefully cut off the skin around each blood orange, and slice finely. Also slice half a bulb of fennel and retain the fronds for garnish. Toss together and dress with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of lemon juice, ½ tsp of fennel seeds and a pinch of salt and pepper. You can also add more citrus to the salad – a grapefruit would work well.


Turkish Eggs (Cilbir)

I first tried this breakfast dish at Kopapa in Covent Garden, which still remains my favourite version of Turkish eggs… of course, I’ve never actually been to Turkey so that could change! Today I gave the recipe a go. Remember to use fresh eggs to poach – my favourite are the Waitrose “intelligent eating” ones enriched with omega-3 for their beautiful orange yolks.

1 clove of garlic
Salt
4 tbsp strained yoghurt
1 tbsp salted butter
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 fresh eggs
2 slices of sourdough
Olive oil
Parsley

Mince one clove of garlic very finely, then add a pinch of salt and 4 tbsp of strained yoghurt. Mix and dollop into the centre of a bowl. In a saucepan on a low heat, melt 1 tbsp of salted butter with ½ tsp smoked paprika. Remove from heat once melted, pour through a fine sieve and leave to cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, poach two eggs then drain on a kitchen towel.

Toast a few slices of sourdough and drizzle with some olive oil. Spoon the paprika butter all around the yoghurt in the bowl, and gently place the poached eggs on top. Chop and scatter some parsley to garnish.

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