Flashback: our year 2015 on the map

Feeling grateful! So many trips, meetings, happenings within one year! This is our year 2015 in a nutshell including private and work trips but excluding cruises and some short trips such as cruises to Stockholm and spa trips to Estonia (which I don’t calculate exactly as “abroad” anymore… 🙂 ) .
My first destination this year was Greece and not exactly the regular destinations but Epirus,  “The Greek Alps”. I made several posts about my trip, including Greece in a different way and Horseback riding, whitewater rafting and snow shoe walking – in Greece!
The highlight of this trip were the monasteries of Meteora, once in a lifetime destination one has to experience in person. No stories or pictures will do justice to it!
Berlin 2.2015 Uzi headed to Berlin instead.
Our next work trip destination was Portugal where we toured basically through the whole country from the very Southern tip of Algarve up to Estrella mountain range in 9 days. A wonderful country, wonderful food, wonderful people… 🙂
portugal 4.2015At the unknown soldier’s thomb after change of shifts the soldiers were in a good mood 🙂

In Portimao we met this lovely Finnish couple and spent the entire day with them eating, playing music and walking on the beach. On this online article you can get some idea. Sorry, only in Finnish! 🙂
http://www.etlehti.fi/artikkeli/terveys/paasimme_eroon_laakkeistamme_etelan_lammossa muotiasiantuntija Piret Mägi
In May we headed to Tallinn to make a city guide: good food and lot of things to do can be found just around the corner (or across the bay). Part of our finding can be read on this Matkaopas article.
It didn’t take long for us to travel to Estonia again. This time to Muhu island just next (or before) Saaremaa. We made a food article for Kodin Kuvalehti with Peke and Ingrid Eloranta at Muhu Veinitalu.
The couple has recently opened a restaurant in Tallinn. Haven’t tried it yet but I guess it can’t be bad!
I took this fun video with Uzi and a herd of sheep at Muhu Tonise guest house.

And next Uzi traveled to Lisbon again…
Lisbon uzi work trip 5.2015nina japan
And in August it was my turn to go to Japan –  a real dream come true although it was a busy business trip. But I was overwhelmed by the Japanese culture, lovely, hospitable people, wonderful food. This trip really made me want to go back!
In this small picture above the man is not trying to suffocate me but dampened the towel in the hot springs in Yunomine Onsen (a traditional hot spring destination) and treated me with a facial. The minerals are supposed to do something good to your skin (and make you look years younger of course!).
After Japan I hardly unpacked my luggage just to pack again and this time a bit closer: England which I totally saw in new eyes.
This is Nina Dodd’s picture on South West Coast Path hiking path.   NinaRose1_england Varon family reunion In the fall Uzi traveled to a family reunion in France, which was held modestly in a castle. Skeppsholmen Stockholm
And at the same time I spent three long days exploring Stockholm for a city article for Matkaopas.
Before Christmas I also studied three weeks Spanish in Madrid. It was a real intensive course with 6 hours of lessons every days continued by conversations in Spanish.
Christmas markets, tapas, turron… Some pictures can be found on my  Instagram- account. https://www.instagram.com/ninarosemaoz/
Well, feels good to end this year at home…. have a couch time with loads of chocolate. My home got a new design while I was away and now I really enjoy just not having to move anywhere.
This break won’t last long, however. In February we are planning for Israel and that trip will be followed by a real holiday in Thailand!
But meanwhile, let’s celebrate! A happy and peaceful year  2016 with new adventures!  Let it bring us all good things!

Lust for licorice

There is something only a Finn (or a Scandinavian) understands: love for licorice. In Finland we also have this salt licorice called salmiakki which is something many people can’t live without.
Last weekend there was a happening just for licorice lovers: Licorice festival. It was held for the second time this year and it was certainly one of the most interesting food events in Helsinki this fall.
My blog life has been quite sleepy due to the big deadline I have this month to finish the book I am writing. Only Uzi has been telling about his travels. Also now I should be editing the book but I really really need to share this lovely experience I had in licorice festival last weekend.
Lakrids by Johan Bulow
These wonderful Danish licorice candies were one of my personal favorites! Amazing flavors: passion fruit licorice, ginger licorice, Christmas licorice…  Couldn’t resist and bought a couple of boxes. Someone might find one under the Christmas tree 🙂
Haupt Lakrits SwedenMy other favorite comes from Stockholm and it is called Haupt Lakrits, a tiny factory with great licorice flavors and lovely tins that you simply can’t throw away.
lakritsijuuriThere was an exhibition about licorice. Wonderful what you can get out of licorice root and this abstract looking sludge 🙂
lakritsi_featured_image (2)   wine_tasting_lakritsi_festivaaliThere was a wine tasting for fitting the right wine to… a licorice. I wouldn’t think of that combination but it apparently works.
Chef_Douglas_Spiik_workshop
A licorice flavored entrecote was on the menu in a cooking workshop with the chef Douglas Spiik. Licorice powder goes well with many things.
lakritsitaidettaThe kids loved this… a licorice art workshop. I guess some of the licorice went into the tummies as well.
Panda lakritsiA common label with new tastes: old good Panda.
apteekin_salmiakkiApteekin salmiakki. Strong and salty. Virpi_Vainio_salmiakki_manifestoYou could easily bite this jewellery made by Virpi Vainio. Lakritsi- ja salmiakkifestivaali Wanha Satama Helsinki Finland
A great event! The festival was held for the first time last year and this year it already drew surprisingly many visitors as some of the exhibitors ran out of their stock already on the first day.
I am sure that next year this will be already an established happening. Before that you can head to Stockholm Lakritsfestivalen which will take place in the spring.

Suppilovahveropasta tuoreista sienistä

funnel chanterelle finland
Kaikkea ei voi saada! Tämä syksy on ollut poikkeuksellisen aurinkoinen ja lämpötilatkin ovat pysytelleet kohtuullisen mukavina. Matalalta paistava aurinko kultaa luonnon lämpimät värit hehkuviksi. Mutta! Niin kuin olemme kuivasta ja kauniista syksystä nauttineetkin, sienet olisivat tarvinneet sateita popsahtaakseen poimittaviksemme. Niinpä tämänvuotinen sienisaalis uhkaa jäädä todella vaatimattomaksi.
Lokakuu on suppilovahveroiden aikaa. Vietin muutaman tunnin metsässä anoppini ja kälyni kanssa etsien noita herkullisia sieniä. Kuivattuina ne säilyvät yli pitkän talven ja ovat tavallisesti keittiömme vakiotavaraa.
Tällä kertaa saalis oli liian vaatimaton kuivattavaksi, joten päätin käyttää sienet tuoreeltaan pastan kruunaajana.
Tässä hyvin yksinkertainen resepti, josta ainakin supilovahveron ystävät saattavat pitää:
[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:13]
pasta with wild mushrooms tomatoes and garlic

Pasta with fresh wild mushrooms

funnel chanterelle finland
You can not get it all! This autumn has been blessed with sunny days and comfortable temperatures. Low wintery sun paints the nature’s warm colors with an extra golden tone. But ! As much as we have enjoyed this sunny and dry autumn, the mushrooms would have needed the rains to pop up. So it’s been unusually slim pickings this year.
October is the season for the funnel chanterelle. I spent a few hours with my mother in law and sister in law searching for these delicious mushrooms. When dried, they can be stored for the whole long winter’s use.
This time the amount I found was so small, I decided to use them right away with pasta.
Here is a very simple recipe you might find tasty.[amd-zlrecipe-recipe:14]
pasta with wild mushrooms tomatoes and garlic

My Family reunion in Burgundy

My brothers and I live in 3 different countries: Israel, Holland and Finland.
However, we try to meet as often as possible and pull our kids and grandkids to the circle of the greater family. I personally believe that strong family ties can give you a feeling of security and warmth in this modern world.
This year’s meeting was held in the end of September in Burgundy, France. Looking for a place in the countryside, a compound that can host over 40 persons, we found the Château de Prety.
And indeed, great it was. This wonderful old mansion dates back as far as to Roman times.
During our 5 days meeting, the families did independently trips in the area, exploring the villages, small towns and markets.
The whole tribe met for dinner every evening. Good food and local wines gave the best conditions to spontaneous connections between family members of all ages.
I was especially delighted to witness how the younger generations did connect and enjoy each others company. Small groups chatting around dinner table or in the yard around the fire and under the full moon light.
Varon family reunion
Everybody has finally reached the meeting place and it is time for a toast!
Varon family reunion Varon family reunion chateau-de-prety-garden-2 Château de Prety ‘s garden has all that I love in gardens. Size (it is huge), informal design, lots of hidden corners one can find peace or meditate in, flowers and the history of the place visible.
chateau-de-prety-gate-and-micka The gate to the compound and Mycah, who has just woken up in the first morning after the previous day’s long drive from Holland.
Varon-family-reunion-burgundy So this is my family. You mess with me, these are the people you’ll have to reckon with…
Varon family reunion The Israeli delegation came up with T-shirts for everybody with a specially designed emblem for the event. 3 different colors: blue for the senior generation (the 4 brothers and their wives), green for our kids and their spouses and white for the grandkids. Great idea and fine execution!
varon-musicians-burgundy varon-musicians. Some of the Varons from Israel brought their music instruments with. Here, rehearsing under the supervision of my brother Ran. It was lovely listening to them almost daily. Sometimes as a group, other times just a sound of a lonely cello coming out of the third floor window.

chateau-de-prety-yard
chateau-de-prety-yard

The sound of water was a nice background music throughout the days.
entrance-and-bathroom-chateau-de-prety
entrance-and-bathroom-chateau-de-prety

My own suite used to be the Château’s horse stables. They have been transformed into beautiful living spaces.
chateau-de-prety-zen-corners
chateau-de-prety-zen-corners

Interior and exterior decorations match.
pumpkin-in-a-vegetable-market-in-burgundy
pumpkin-in-a-vegetable-market-in-burgundy

vegetabale-market-in-burgundy
vegetabale-market-in-burgundy

The vegetable market in the nearby village brought to my mind old still life paintings with their colors and style.

Burgundy here we come again!

This year Varon family reunion is in Burgundy. 5 days in Château de Prety near the village of Tournus. The 4 brothers, wives, children and grandchildren will come from as far as Finland Holland and Israel. This post is a warm up for the upcoming reunion report. Stay tuned!burgundy lunch Dining in the garden facing the very typical Burgundy landscape of fields and ancient villages. burgundy sun flowers montagny burgundy Montagny, a typical Burgundy village of just a few old stone houses. Many keep the houses as their vacation residences. burgundy winesOn our visits to Burgundy we of course enjoy local wines. The selection, quality and price range is great. smoked salmon in burgundyThis smoking box came the whole way from Finland to Burgundy. It proved to be a nice and useful souvenir. celloWhere my brother goes, his cello goes. This beauty is as old as the stone house where he spends his free time. Both about 300 years old!flea market in burgundyFlea markets in Burgundy are fantastic. Usually on weekends villages turn into big markets. Locals as well as antique dealers from the cities come for the game of goodies goodies found from the attics and cellars of old farm houses. old cemetery in burgundyAlmost every small village has its own church. There are a lot of old beautiful churches here, some as old as 900 years. I also found the cemeteries around the churches most fascinating. tour de franceThe Tour De France is an attraction a true Frenchman would not miss. Along the route people sit by the road in the heat for hours waiting for the riders to finally speed in front of their picnic tables for 4-5 seconds.