Agathe ́s apple and rhubarb cake

Agathe Devisme is an adventurers French lady married, who opened Ipiutaq Guest Farm at a remote location in South Greenland. She combines her French culinary heritage with farm grown ingredients, to create delicious homemade meals for her guests. Her passion for cooking and presentation is apparent on every plate she presents. The guest house sits on a sheep farm, with a backdrop of mountains and icebergs, and has only 2 rooms, so Agathe personally prepares all guest meals during their stay. While the scenery is breathtaking, the location remote, and the surroundings peaceful, Agathe’s food is enough reason to spend a few days in Ipiutaq!

agathe on her farm

Agathe has generously shared one of her recipes with us. This cake can be baked with apples and angelica sticks instead of rhubarb, depending on preference and availability. The recipe is below and you can see photos on her website.

Agathe’s Apple and Rhubarb Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 apples
  • 250 grams rhubarb sticks (or angelica sticks)

First dough

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3  tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 75 grams butter
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Second dough

  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 40 grams melted butter

Wash the rhubarb sticks and cut them into small pieces. Peel the apples and cut them into thin slices.

If you use angelica sticks, you have to slice them finely and boil them for approximatly 30 minutes, and then, cook them with sugar (half of angelica ́s weight) for approximatly 30 minutes.

Mix the egg, the butter and the milk or cream. Then add progressively the flour and baking powder until you get a smooth dough. Add the pieces of fruit to the mix.

Pour the dough in a round greased and floured cake tin and cook for 20 minutes in 225oC oven.

Take the cake out of the oven and pour the second dough on top. Bake for 10 minutes until golden.

Serve warm with vanilla custard or vanilla ice cream.

agate's cake recipe

~ Recipe courtesy of  Agathe Devisme, chef and proprietor of Ipiutaq Guest Farm in Greenland.

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How Not to Fall Sick on Your Next Vacation

You planned every detail, put aside savings, and waited all year for that two- week vacation abroad. The last thing you want to do is fall sick during your time in the magical new place and not be able to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, our bodies do get sick every so often depending on what we expose ourselves to. In our day-to-day life, we come into contact with co- workers, friends, kids and neighbors who could pass on an infection to us. Travelling intensely magnifies your chance of picking up germs, as you pass by thousands of people at airports, train stations and attractions. Add to that the changes in weather, time, altitude, latitude, sun exposure, air quality, food, water, and sleep patterns and your body becomes a lot less resistant to fighting the cocktails of bugs you may have picked up along the way.

After travelling to almost 50 countries, I still don’t have all the secrets that will prevent you from falling sick. I travel almost every month and do fall ill from time to time. What I have learned through my own pitfalls is that taking certain precautions can help keep you healthy while on the go.

1. Drink lots of water – but not tap water – throughout the trip. Make sure you drink only boiled or bottled water from reliable sources. Keeping hydrated will help you deal with many illnesses caused by heat, humidity and high altitudes.

2. Avoid taking ice in your drinks. Oftentimes, tap water is used for making ice, so be sure to ask the server if the ice is made from filtered water before consuming it. To be safe, drink only pre-packaged sodas, juices or hot beverages. A few weeks ago, I thought I was drinking a vitamin-packed fresh orange juice at a market in Cuenca, Ecuador, but ended up with a stomach flu due to the unfiltered water mixed in with the juice.

Eating at the market in Cuenca, Ecuador

Eating at the market in Cuenca, Ecuador

3. Carry a surgical face mask when travelling to cities where pollution may be a problem. Properly wash the mask from time to time or use a disposable one. Changes in air quality can cause respiratory problems, sinus and throat infections or even the flu. Not realizing that the valley trapped all the pollutants from motorcycle exhausts, I found that my expectation of breathing clean mountain air in the Himalayas was unmet. The moment I arrived in Kathmandu, I started coughing insatiably and had to run to the pharmacy for medicine.

Motorcycling through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal

Motorcycling through the streets of Kathmandu, Nepal

4. Do yoga, meditation and stretches every morning. Even if you are not used to exercise, you will find that a few minutes of engaging your organs will aid in better digestion and give you more energy to enjoy the rest of the day. If your hotel offers group exercise classes or a gym facility, be sure to take advantage of it.

Doing yoga every morning in Bali, Indonesia

Doing yoga every morning in Bali, Indonesia

5. Do not forget to take your vitamins every day just as you would at home. If you take multivitamins, fish oil, B capsules, probiotics or any other supplements, don’t stop just because you are on vacation. My chiropractor swears that if you take 1000 mg of Vitamin C and 3 to 4 tablets of zinc daily, you will never fall sick.

6. Use your judgment before deciding where to eat. Don’t think that just because the restaurant is well-rated it will meet your sanitation requirements. Take a peek into the kitchen to ensure that the floors and counters look clean, there are no flies or insects hanging around, and the chefs are wearing gloves and hairnets for protection. Especially when travelling to third world countries, it’s important to understand that every culture has its own standards of hygiene.

7. Many people may say otherwise, but my advice is to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables when travelling so long as they are peeled and properly washed. Constipation is the number one complaint that travellers have, so make sure you get your required daily intake of roughages. I love going to the Caribbean as there is always a variety of affordable fresh fruits available.

8. Don’t eat street food. It can be very tempting to eat where the locals eat so you can taste authentic dishes and save money, but try to have self-control. Know that street food is not always bad, but your stomach has not yet acquired the native enzymes to break it down properly. While in Honduras, I gave into temptation and tried Baleadas (wheat taco) prepared by ladies on the wayside and came home with a rare type of Caribbean hook worm.

9. Eating at people’s homes can be a bit trickier. You don’t want to sound like a snobby foreigner and also want to be grateful to your host. Be polite and use your good judgment. In India, it is considered rude to decline food or drink when you are invited into someone’s home. It doesn’t matter whether you are hungry or not, you simply have to accept it.

10. Long flights, strange beds and flat pillows can cause back and neck aches that make a trip less enjoyable. I always take my own Tempur-Pedic pillow with me, even if all I have is a carry-on bag. If you don’t find the bedding comfortable, ask the hotel’s housekeeping staff to bring you a firm pillow, preferably with an anti-allergy pillow cover.

Disclosure: I am not a medical professional and this article is not meant to appear in a medical journal. These tips are based solely on my own personal experience of working as a travel writer and crisscrossing the world every few weeks.

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How to Pack for Your Trip to Greenland

“There is no such thing as bad weather, it’s only bad clothing.” This is what I heard over and over again before, and during my trip to Greenland. Most of the country lying in the Arctic circle, Greenland is not your typical pack up and go destination. You have to think about where you will be visiting, what time of the year it will be, and what activities you would participate in.

canada goose at 66N

I went to South Greenland (latitude between 60-69 degrees North) during August, which is towards the end of summer. The tempratures ranged from 30-50F, and other factors played a role as well. If the sky for clear and sunny, it felt pleasant, but if it was cloudy and windy, it felt a lot colder. Thankfully, I did some research ahead of time and was well prepared so I never felt uncomfortable.

Here are some tips that I highly recommend when packing for your trip to Greenland:

Dress in Layers – A shell of long sleeve t-shirt or thermal; sweater or fleece; parka or jacket – at least three so you have some way to adjust your comfort based on the dramatic changes in weather. I took a Canada Goose Camp Hooded Jacket and Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Jacket, based on guidance from their Thermal Experience Index. They were both stylish and fitting, available in vibrant colors. I found out that this Toronto based company provides official Parka for Air Greenland flight crew and pilots. Canada Goose is the official jacket of the UNESCO site Ilulissat Fjord and worn by the park rangers. In fact, Canada Goose sells more jackets per capita in Greenland than anywhere else in the world.

canada goose at sailing among glaciers

Layer dressing also applies to pants, hats and gloves. Because of strong winds, you must carry wind proof jacket with hoodie at all times.

Get Good Shoes – Don’t think about carrying a pair of fashionable boots for the day and sandals for the night. All you need is a super comfortable of all terrain hiking boots. Make sure that they are not a brand new pair and are already broken into. I walked on ice, snow, rocks, streets and grasslands – even though this was not an expedition. Of course, warm socks are a must.

Greenlanders dress very casual and even when you go to a restaurant or bar, hiking shoes or boots are perfectly ok. You may want to carry a pair of house slippers as you have to take your shoes off before entering a Greenlandic homes. This rule also applies at some of the hostels.

Pack Some Food – Even though I stayed at hotels and hostels located in somewhat urban areas, there were multiple times during my trip when I needed food and couldn’t find it. The grocery stores close at 6pm (some at 4pm), there may be a restaurant or two in town, no snack bars near tourist attractions, and no vending machines anywhere. I carried few granola bars and snacks with me for these times, and made a run to the grocery store to buy fruit, chips, chocolates, etc. (cost is at least 2-4 times than in US).

food in Greenland

Also, note that alcohol sales at stores ends at 6pm on weekdays, 1pm on Saturdays and not allowed on Sundays. If you are the kind of person who likes a glass of beer or wine in the evenings, make sure you plan ahead. Surely, you can find it at restaurants and bars (if there is one), but its not cheap.

Travel Light – The only way to get around Greenland is by air or water. I took helicopters, planes and boats to move from town to town. Although none of these had issues with luggage allowance, its easier to get in and out with one bag. The two Canada Goose jackets I took with me were super light, unlike any heavy wool, goose-down, or parka I have purchased before.

When we landed by boat at a sheep farm in Ipiutaq, there was no dock. We had to get off the boat and directly climb on to a wet rock with our bags. Then we landed in grass and carried ourselves into the farm house. It was quite an experience!

landing in sheep farm

Take Everything You Need – Greenland is still a remote destination where most of the products are imported from Europe. Only Nuuk (the capital city) has shopping centers and malls where you can find practically everything from backyards pools to hula hoops. In other towns, stores carry basic supplies like food, medicine, alcohol, electronics and household goods. Choice are limited and prices very high. It is better to prepare ahead of time and carry items you may need during your trip, for example enough medication, batteries, toiletries, etc. I also carried my laptop and DVD’s for the quiet evenings where there was no television (even if there was one, it rarely worked), and I didn’t want to pay for internet ($20/ hour standard rate).

Click here to read more about my experiences in Greenland.

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Que Viva Guatemala!

Last week, I experienced Guatemalan culture for the first time, through Go Eat Give’s Destination Guatemala. Before the event started at El Quetzal, a Guatemalan restaurant in Chamblee, GA, I got the chance to interact with a few people who had travelled to Guatemala, and were excited to take a nostalgic trip back to the country they had fallen in love with for a night, through Go Eat Give.  Before that day, I didn’t know much about Guatemala, besides what I had studied in school about the Guatemalan Civil War, and the media accounts of poverty, drug, and gang violence plastered on T.V. in recent weeks, covering the unaccompanied minors from Central America. I was eager to learn more about the land and culture.

amaka destination Guatemala

While guests were getting settled in, photos from Guatemala and traditional music played in the background. The photos showed the rich biodiversity in Guatemala, including its plush rainforests, mountainous highlands, and clear blue lakes including Lake Atitlán . We then feasted on a Guatemalan dinner buffet that included arroz y frijoles (rice and beans), ensalada (beets and palm salad), Pepian de Pollo, Jocon con Pollo, Vggie Chile Rellenos;  and for dessert Mole con Platanos Fritos (plantains in a mole sauce) and Rellenitos de Platanos (fried mashed plantains stuffed with sweetened black beans), which was washed down with horchata and tamarindo. Some of my favorites foods included jocón (chicken stewed in green tomato sauce), and pepián (chicken stewed in a pumpkin and sesame sauce).

Guatemalan food

The event featured two speakers: social entrepreneur Stephanie Jolluck and the Consulate General of Guatemala in Atlanta, Rosa Mérida de Mora.  Jolluck has adopted Guatemala as her second home and is the owner of Coleccion Luna, a co-op located in the Guatemalan highlands that creates beaded jewelry, hand woven textiles, bags, and belts. She has formed an equal partnership with Guatemalan women, and proceeds from the business benefit the community to alleviate poverty, preserve tradition, sustainability, and promote cultural diversity and understanding. The fabric of her textiles came in many bright colors, which are found in the rich landscape of Guatemala. The handicrafts were a big hit of the night, and many guests took home items from Collecion Luna.

Stephanie Jolluck

Rosa Mérida de Mora spoke of the work of the consulate within the Guatemalan community in Atlanta and the southeastern region. She described the strong work ethic of the Guatemalan people whom are largely agrarian. Many Guatemalans in the southeast have continued this tradition in the States, harvesting the crops that we consume everyday. Although many Guatemalans work hard in the United States so they have a chance to provide a better life for their families here and in Guatemala, they face hardships. Over 60% of Guatemalans in the United States are undocumented which causes them to live in shadows of American society, as they risk being deported if they get caught driving without a license. Although Guatemalans have contributed so richly to American society, it is heartbreaking that they are treated so poorly due to many anti-immigration sentiments in Georgia. I hope this event encourages people to keep an eye on the news about the effects of anti-immigration legislation.

Rosa Maria

After the speeches, guests put their dance moves to the test. A traditional Guatemalan dancer showcased cultural Mayan dances, and many guests jumped in, not afraid of learning a new dance in front of complete strangers.  The highlight of my night was definitely watching everyone dance along to the beautiful Mayan music.

Mayan music

Destination Guatemala was a great event because many people who had been native Guatemalans and tourist of Guatemalans came out and spoke about the land and culture they loved so much. Witnessing the passion and love that others shared for the country encouraged me to begin a way to plan my own trip to Guatemala. In the meantime, I look forward to learning Thai culture at Go Eat Give Destination Thailand next month.

~ By Go Eat Give intern, Amaka Ifeadike. Amaka is a recent graduate from Emory University. She loves to travel, teaches Spanish, and most recently lived in Buenos Aires. 

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What will you eat in Greenland? Part 2 – Seafood

In Part 1 of What will you eat in Greenland, I talked about common breakfast items you can expect to taste during your visit to Greenland. Moving on to seafood, one can find ingredients such as Greenland halibut, shrimp, cod, Arctic char, wolffish, mussels, sea urchins, redfish and much more on menu’s of restaurants and homes. Because the majority of Greenland is covered by permanent glaciers, the sea is the source for most food. Many residents hunt sea mammals and fish their own catch, which they share with their families. It is common for couples to go camping over the weekend, catch pounds of fish, bring it home, clean and process it. Then they begin the process of sun-drying, smoking, freezing and cooking, resulting in food that can last all through the winter. Along with the proteins, many homegrown herbs and vegetables in backyards or sunrooms, supplement the Greenlandic diet. Sheep sorrel, knot weed, mountain sorrel, lousewort, northern marsh yellowcress, common mouse ear, knotted pearlwort are commonly found here. Crowberries, blueberries, Labrador tea and thyme grow in the wild and anyone can go pick them from the shrubs.

With imports from Denmark, grocery stores are well stocked with pre packaged products, frozen foods, spices, sauces, etc. – everything you will find in a mainstream large grocery store in the US. However, the produce section can be limited and expensive. I didn’t find much of a different in Nuuk (the capital), but in Illulisat (north of Arctic), apples were $1 each and a head of lettuce costed $10.

Another thing to note is the internationalization of Greenlandic palate. Local ingredients are prepared using French, Thai and European styles of cooking, as seen below.

Greenlandic Seafood -

dried fish

Roseroot pickles, “gravad” salmon and dried whole Capelin at Ipiutaq Guest Farm

smoked fish

Smoked salmon on cheese and rye toast, cod skin chips, at private home in Qaqortoq

scallops

Lemon pickled scallops with angelica jelly, puffed rice, seaweed rice and seawater granita at Hotel Arctic

halibut burger

Halibut Disko burger at Hotel Arctic, Illulisat

fresh shrimp salad

Local peel & eat shrimp boiled in seawater

snow crab legs

Snow crab from Disko Island with angelica aioli

seal with bacon

Seal kebabs wrapped with bacon at Igassa Food Festival

fish platter

Fish platter at Qooqqut Nuan restaurant. Red curry with shrimp, cod with spinach, redfish with sweet and spicy hong kong style sauce, and redfish with mildly spicy red curry.

whale steak

Whale steak at private home in Qaqortoq

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What will you eat in Greenland? Part 1

Research shows that 50% of travelers chose a destination based on the food. That may be true when you are planning a trip to countries that are globally renowned for their food – Italy, Spain, India, Mexico, Japan and many more. But Greenland may not make it to the list of foodies travels.

It was actually quite a challenge for me to research what I should expect to eat in Greenland before I headed there. A few wiki articles indicated towards the fishing and hunting bounties, warning me that availability of fruits and vegetables would be limited. Surprisingly, Greenland turned out to be a food paradise! Yes, supply is limited as many ingredients are imported from Europe, but there is also an abundance of local products. Greenland actually exports seafood such as shrimp, halibut, cod, redfish, seal. Hunting consists of reindeer and musk ox; and lots of vegetables are now being cultivated in south Greenland.

More on farming in Greenland…coming up.

Here are some of the dishes that you can expect to eat when touring around Greenland. The first of the two-part post focuses on breakfast, which always included lots of freshly baked bread, cheese, homemade jams, tea and coffee. Many different kinds of bread are made with rye, seeds, wheat, poppy seed, etc. Some are quite hearty in flavor.

Greenlandic Breakfast -

Greenlandic pastries for breakfast

Assorted savory pastries at Hotel Arctic

homemade jams served for breakfast

Homemade jams and jellies at Hotel Arctic

fresh cheese with slicer

Fresh slice your own cheese served at every restaurant

breakfast buffet at Hotel Arctic

Buffet breakfast at 4-star hotel

Greenlandic breads for breakfast

Different kinds of bread loves, served self slice style

bed and breakfast

at B&B Hansine

Breakfast at B&B Hansine (private home) in Nuuk

Read part 2 of What will you eat in Greenland?

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Atlanta – Antigua Culinary Tours with Stephanie Jolluck

For the past 17 years I have traveled, worked, volunteered, explored, eaten, drank, & hiked my way through Guatemala completing over 80 trips to a place I adore & call my second home. Based in Atlanta, I travel to Guatemala four times a year to work directly with the Mayan Indians of the Highland region on my award winning line, Coleccion Luna: a line of beaded jewelry and accessories, as well as wood carvings, and textiles created with PURE LOVE from their reclaimed Indigenous clothing using Fair Trade practices.

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In January 2015 I will launch my Atlanta~Antigua Culinary Tours…unforgettable gastronomy travel adventures! While Guatemala seems to be most known for the violence, drugs, & corruption that has plagued it for years, it is also a magical place full of intrigue, beauty, and color with a fascinating history and a wealth of food culture and biodiversity. I am organizing an amazing team.

of A US~Guatemala partnership of Coleccion Luna, INGUAT, Guatemala Trade Commission & Investment, Guatemalan food & drink producers, Top Atlanta Chefs & Media, and Antigua hotels, farms, restaurants. The tours will focus in and around Antigua.

10537180_10204258732010028_4872919898845950669_nResting in the shadow of three volcanoes, Antigua Guatemala, or “La Antigua”, as it’s often called, was the country’s capital for over 200 years. It offers a fascinating blend of European and Indian culture, with its monumental sixteenth century Baroque churches, colorful colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, art galleries & markets, local & international cuisine, and vibrant natural beauty. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, Antigua exudes a unique atmosphere of history, mystique, and local custom.

10291190_10203521666143842_7627323611236669500_nSome of the highlights include:

  • Learning to cook some of my favorite dishes: Chicken Pepian (Chicken in spicy pumpkin and sesame sauce~like a mole…comes in a variety of colors) Kak’ik (A traditional Mayan turkey soup, with spices like coriander, achiote, and chile peppers), Jocón (chicken in green tomato sauce), Subanik (beef, pork and chicken vapor-cooked in a highly spiced chili sauce), Pollo con Loroco (A chicken stew with vegetables served in a cream sauce seasoned with the flower that gives the dish its name)…all served with the best handmade blue and white corn tortillas.
  • Indulging in “dulces tipicos”: old-fashioned handmade treats made from milk, marzipan, honey, sesame seeds and local fruits such as guava and coconut.
  • Exploring Cacao/Chocolate “food of the Gods”: learning the fascinating history as we make our own Mayan spiced hot cocoa and creating chocolate from bean to bar. (The Mayans were the first to discover, cultivate, use in spiritual ceremonies, eat, and drink chocolate.)
  • Visiting my friends gorgeous organic farm on the outskirts of Antigua for a tour & tasting: a experimental, self sustainable, biodiverse, low environmental impact organic farm using ancient Mayan techniques
  • Tasting of Guatemalan Rum: Learn the history & taste the legendary, award winning Rums of Guatemala
  • Touring Organic Coffee Cooperative: Lead by small-holder coffee farmers, we will receive the opportunity to experience a day in the life of a farmer. After a short hike up Volcán Agua to see the coffee fields, we will be invited into the farmer’s house to learn about and utilize the machinery used to process coffee. But the best part of all comes at the end: we will roast coffee in the traditional way over a fire and share a cup of coffee with the farmer and his family and a lunch of traditional Guatemalan food cooked by the farmer’s wife.
  • Exploring the colorful markets of Antigua: Discover the wide array of gorgeous and delicious fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, herbs, and spices found in Guatemala.
  • Visiting edible gardens: See how families and individuals are growing their own edible gardens for fresh, healthy, delicious food in an organic and sustainable way.

10422333_10204365363515749_1705929521154121635_nGuatemala is experiencing one of the worst droughts in years that is affecting over 236,000 families have been affected. Also in Guatemala, the face of poverty & hunger is young, indigenous & rural. Guatemala, with the 4th highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world & the highest in Latin America & the Caribbean, faces a serious challenge to reduce chronic undernutrition, currently at 49.8% among children under 5 years old. With these facts and issues, a percentage of my tours will go to various local, national, and international organizations that work to find local, community based solutions to food insecurity in Guatemala.

The tours will happen twice a year in late January and October. For more information, please contact me at stephaniejolluck@gmail.com

~ By Stephanie Jolluck, CEO of Coleccion Luna.

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Celebrate Guatemala’s Independence Day with Go Eat Give on Sept 18

Guatemala’s Independence Day falls on September 15, just three days before Go Eat Give Destination Guatemala dinner on September 18, 2014 at El Quetzal in Chamblee, GA. Guatemala, along with other Central American countries, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Honduras, uses this day to celebrate its independence from European colonial power Spain in 1821, complete with traditional dances, fireworks, and parades.

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Unlike most other Central and South American countries, Guatemala achieved its independence in relative peace. Since then, it has made a name for itself as a biodiversity hotspot. The country itself is beautiful. It is made up of a variety of different ecosystems, including wetlands, rivers, lagoons, mangrove forests, and over 1,246 types of fauna. There is still evidence of the ancient Mayan civilization among its people, as illustrated by the traditional “traje” style dress many wear.

On September 18, Go Eat Give will partner with Consul General to Guatemala in Atlanta and Coleccion Luna to present an evening with authentic dinner, speakers, art and entertainment. Keynote address by Cónsul General de Guatemala en Atlanta, Rosa Maria Mérida de Mora. Born and raised in Guatemala, Ms Rosa Maria has served as a diplomat for over 25 years serving most recently in Buenos Aires and New York. She will share important facts about the Guatemalan population in southeast US, as well as cultural insights from her homeland.

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Featuring social entrepreneur and founder of Coleccion LunaStephanie Jolluck. A social entrepreneur, Ms. Jolluck started Coleccion Luna in 1999 to focus on women’s empowerment, alleviating poverty, preserving tradition, sustainability, and promoting cultural diversity and understanding. Coleccion Luna works with a women’s co-op located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala to create beaded jewelry, hand woven textiles, bags, belts and more.

guatemalan food

Authentic Guatemalan menu at family-run restaurant, El Quetzal includes Tostadas con guacamole and frijoles, Pepian de Pollo, Jocon w/ pork, Chile Rellenos (Vegetarian); Beets & Palm Salad Ensalada, Arroz, Frijoles, Mole con platanos fritos & rellenitos de platanos. Non-alcoholic beverages include Horchata & Tamarindo. Also, enjoy live music and door prizes!

Ticket includes buffet dinner, speaker and entertainment. Free parking. Portion of proceeds benefit Go Eat Give, 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization that raises awareness of different cultures through travel, food and community service.

Read more details or purchase tickets here.

Destination Guatemala

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Qooqqut with unforgettable dining

What crosses your mind when your tour is called “Qooqqut with unforgettable dining?” Certainly not orange overalls, open air high speed boats, and battling trade winds in search of a lone restaurant located 50 kilometers away from civilization! Apparently, this is what I had signed up for during my recent visit to Nuuk, Greenland.

We met at the harbor of this world’s northernmost capital city, and noticed parked sail boats, water taxis, even a small cruise ship at the dock. But my guide pointed to our ride for the evening – a 7 passenger open raft with a motor attached to the back. Given the windy cool Arctic temperatures we were about to be faced with, overalls were mandatory, to be worn on top of the layers of sweaters and parkas I was already laden with. John, our Danish tour guide, warned me that it will be cold “like riding on a motorcycle at zero degree Celsius for two hours.” That’s why I look like a baby Polar Bear in this picture!

overalls for boat trip

We started off slow as we left the city and sped soon enough reaching 50km/ hour in the little boat. At first, I enjoyed the scenery – we had a beautiful view of Nuuk’s colorful homes, the statues of Hans Egede, and backdrop of a few new buildings against rocky hills. We whiz passed emerald blue floating glaciers, and within 10 minutes had reached very secluded areas. There was nothing but open waters, mountains and ice as far as I could see. After that, it was cold, wet, windy and bumpy for a VERY long time. John, our guide, explained to the passengers that this is how the Vikings traveled to dinner and the areas we were traveling through were Viking territories. I’m not sure what kind of restaurants the Vikings favored.

blue ice glacier

The second phase of our experience was fishing for entree. We stopped near a mountain where the water was deep enough to fish for cod and redfish. Line hooks were pulled down and everyone caught something. The catch was just pulled into the boat and stored for the chef who was going to cook us dinner that night.

catching redfish in Greenland

Another 20 minutes ride to the island of Qooqqut. It was a very scenic small village surrounded by hills, some green shrubs and lush backgrounds. The water was calm here and reminded me of Scottish Highland or South New Zealand.

Qooqqut arrival

The lone Qooqqut Nuan restaurant is run by husband (Greenlandic chef) and Thai wife. They also have a restaurant in Nuuk (at the harbor) and use to work at another one on the island that burned down.

Qooqqut Nuan restaurant.

The restaurant serves upscale Thai food using local ingredients. Wine/ beer was reasonably charged $10 per drink, and dinner was included in our tour. I ordered the Fish Dinner which had a huge platter with many interesting creations – red curry with shrimp, cod with spinach, redfish with sweet and spicy hong kong style sauce, and redfish with mildly spicy red curry. It came with a big bowl of salad (rare in this part of the world) and steamed rice. I also tasted Penang reindeer, a Greenlandic Thai fusion, with gamy chewy sliced pieces of meat that were probably hunted on the island, cooked with sliced onions, red and green bell peppers. The flavor were divine and unfathomable how someone could run such an upscale kitchen in the middle of nowhere. For dessert, I opted for European style crepe pancakes with ice cream and fresh fruit (watermelon and orange).

Greenlandic shrimp with salad

fish platter

Penang reindeer

During the delicious dinner, John informed us that in case we can’t make it back, there were hostel rooms behind the restaurants that were pretty nice to spend the night at. He also kept some sleeping bags on the boat, just in case we ended up on another uninhabited island. His tours generally ended around 10pm, but with the midnight sun this was not a problem. Now that it was end of August, and it was already past 10,  and getting dark, but we still had an hour to go.

Its a pity that we weren’t able to enjoy the jaw-dropping natural beauty, the secluded surroundings of the lone restaurant, instead headed right back into the dark waters. An afternoon hiking around Qooqqut, soaking in its fresh air and relaxing with its views, would have been a good addition to the itinerary.

The ride back was not as bumpy, but felt much colder because of the darkness and slight rain. The memory of a fabulous dinner was rapidly overtaken by my head and neck pain and a frosty nose. It was 11pm when we returned to the harbor. The city looked dead. John called us a cab to take us back to Hansina’s Guest House.

I would definitely take this tour again, but during the day, in a covered boat, and spend some more time on the island.

Touring Greenland offers Qooqqut with unforgettable dining tour for DKK 895 ($179) per person, which includes 2 hours of sailing, some time for fishing, and a two-course dinner. Drinks are not included. Warning: if you have prior neck or back injury, you may not want to take the bumpy ride.

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What does a B&B in Greenland actually mean?

Search for hotels in Nuuk (Godthåb in Danish) and TripAdvisor results in only two hotels and one Bed and Breakfast. Nuuk is the capital and the largest city in Greenland, with a population of 16,000. It is south enough that you don’t see snow, only a few glaciers floating around. It is very difficult to find a room, not only here, but practically in all of Greenland, which has led to the concept of hostels and guest houses.

city of Nuuk

When I was informed by Tupilak Travel, a Nuuk based travel agency, that my reservation had been made at Bed and Breakfast Hansine for two nights, I pictured a cozy cottage with a few rooms, a sitting area with Greenlandic style decorations, and perhaps the innkeepers serving fresh pastries and coffee for breakfast.

Read about my First Time at a Bed and Breakfast in Georgia.

Little did I know that the concept of B&B in Greenland is a little different than that in the US. As Tupilak explains, “Bed & Breakfast entails a stay with a Greenlandic family either in the city center, in the suburbs of Nuussuaq, or in the newest part of town Qinngorput with breakfast included” in the price. Basically you are inside someone’s private home, sort of like an AirBnB.

Bed and Breakfast Hansine really meant the house of Hansine, a charming 67 year old Danish lady, which she opened up to visitors to make extra income. From the outside, the metal building looked like a run-down housing project. There was graffiti on the walls and wooden walkways in need of repair. You had to buzz the resident to be let into the building and climb three floors of stairs (there weren’t any elevators) to get to her flat.

bed & breakfast hanse from outside

Upon arrival, we took off our shoes by the door as its customary in Greenlandic homes. Mrs Hansine greeted us with all smiles, gave us a quick tour of her two bedroom, 1 bath apartment, her cozy living room decorated entirely in purple, and a tiny kitchen with a balcony. It overlooked the harbor and had an amazing view of the Davis Strait.

Our room had a twin size bed, dresser and chairs. There were family photos and knick knacks all over, hinting that this was probably her own bedroom. There was another smaller room with a single bed, occupied by another American tourist at that moment. We had one bathroom for all four of us to share. A few rules were explained regarding opening of windows and doors. No internet was available.

Hansena wasted no time. She immediately took me to her living room and started showing my photo albums, guest books, family trees, certificates of descendants, and family pictures. She spoke some English, but her accent was hard to understand. She told me that her family was from Denmark and Sweden, she had grown up in Copenhagen and moved to Greenland over 30 years ago. She use to work at a reading glass store in Nuuk, but is now retired because she’s too old. Repeatedly, she informed me that today was her daughter’s 26th birthday, but she was away in Copenhagen, studying at a technical school.  Among many stories, many of which I only half understood, she referred to her Danish ex boyfriend several times.

hansine serving breakfast

We were given a key to the flat so we can go in and out as we please. The city of Nuuk is small and walkable. You can’t really get lost. In just an hour, I came to know where everything was – the harbor, museums, church, tourist office, shopping mall, two grocery stores and handful of restaurants. Buses and taxis take you to the new side of Nuuk, which has modern residence and taller buildings.

When we would return to Bed and Breakfast Hansine, we would often find her sipping tea in the living room, reading tarot cards or watching American TV shows. She would ask us about our day and repeat the ritual of story telling/ photo watching once again.

The following morning, Hansine prepared a big spread for us as well as the the other American guest. We sat by the window and enjoyed scrambled eggs with peas, carrots and crispy bacon, loaves of fresh bread with cheese, jam and butter, and coffee. This was a good opportunity to have a conversation with Hansine about the Greenlandic lifestyle, especially relating to her as a single elderly lady living by herself. She seemed pretty happy with her life, always smiling, sharing her memories and meeting friends.

Tupilak Travel arranges stay with host families for 500 DKK (US $100) per night for single room and 900 DKK (US $180) per night for double occupancy. The cost of a hotel is approx. $400 per night and is usually sold out during the peak season.

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