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COVID-19 Vendée

From Saturday April 3rd at midnight we are going back into lockdown, President Macron announced on March 31st. For the next four weeks we can travel a maximum of 10km from our homes except for reasons listed on the form and the 19h00 to 06h00 curfew remains enforced.  Traversing departments is considered non-essential travel. All changes are listed on the Government website here (in French, right click for translation to your computer’s default language. The following shops are open: “only those selling essential goods and service – plus bookshops, record shops, DIY, plant and flower shops, hairdressers, cobblers, chocolate makers, car dealerships, property viewers – in order to reduce contact in enclosed areas.” For now the lockdown was announced at four weeks, until May 2nd.) Non-essential travel between countries remains restricted, and France demands a negative PCR Covid test within 72hrs of arrival at its borders. For all measures and …

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Asparagus for breakfast, lunch & dinner

Before I share these simple meals there are three things you should know: I love an elaborate breakfast, try to limit my meat intake and [un]fortunately I’m the only one in the house who really loves to eat asparagus! Which means I always have a supply of the jarred white as well as green asparagus in the pantry as a quick go-to veg when I want soup or something special with either a hot lunch or a salad. That spring is one of my favourite seasons is no secret, but part of that is because there are fresh asparagus to come by. Buying fresh asparagus is not necessarily cheap though and that’s why I feel compelled to make the most of them! In this recipe post you’ll learn how I split 1 to 2 bundles of white asparagus into 3 portions + 1 jar for 4 meals (this is the …

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Passage du Gois, Vendéen road of mythic proportions

The world counts a few roads that even die-hard adventure bloggers tell you to avoid; roads that consistently make the list of “most dangerous” to traverse. There’s the Stelvio Pass in Italy. And the Yungas Road in Bolivia which hugs the side of a mountain without guardrails; or Skippers Canyon Road in New Zealand which is prohibited for rental cars because no insurance will cover them. And then there is famous French causeway that gives way to the Atlantic Ocean twice per day. Welcome to the Passage du Gois, historic monument in the Vendée and one of the world’s most dangerous roads! Nature’s punishment – Linking the mainland at Bauvoir-sur-mer on the gorgeous French Atlantic coast with Barbâtre on the Island of Noirnourtier is the Passage du Gois, or the Gois, a road that many will recommend avoiding at all cost. They are not wrong. While not the only tidal causeway …

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Brownies

Outside of the people who are allergic to chocolate or don’t enjoy chocolate… who doesn’t love a well-prepared brownie? Since the very first time I tried one many years ago, I have learned and re-learned one golden rule about baking brownies: creating the perfect brownie is not just baking. It’s an art form. Why? Because a brownie is not cake. A brownie is not fudge. The perfect brownie is something in between: a thin layer of crunch on the outside, followed by what’s not quite a cake structure, and semi-gooey center. Best consumed a little warm with a scoop of vanilla-perfumed ice cream and a little warm chocolate sauce. Ingredients and preparation – Brownies For 6 – 9 people About 2 cups (392 gr) sugar, it may be less if you want to experiment 1 cup melted butter that has cooled (you can also use vegetable oil) 4 eggs – …

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Daytrip from Vendée to Clisson & Hellfest Park

Clisson offers a curious panorama of French-medieval history seen through a Tuscan window. Or vice versa. Is it France? Is it Italy? The short answer: it’s a combination of the two. This small village with its imposing castle perched atop a lovely valley where the Sèvre-Nantaise and La Moine rivers merge, was set on fire by the Republican General Kléber during the Vendée Wars. Located on the edge of the Vendée (Poitou) and Loire-Atlantique in an important strategic position, Clisson was home to the Lords of Clisson since the XIth century, from 1089 to 1789! Today, this small town is not only famous for its position in French history and its interesting architecture. For one weekend a year, its just over 7,000 inhabitants grow by about 180,000. The reason? The biggest and roughest rock music festival in Europe…. Hellfest. An eventful history – Clisson’s history and that of the Vendée …

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Fishing in the Vendée

From the Atlantic ocean, to lakes, to rivers, to the marais, and even fishing ponds, the Vendée catch (2nd category) includes bass, large conger eels, eels, trout, carp, pike, pike perch, roach, bream, rudd,  tench, sardines, and more. In the marais even the Louisiana red crayfish is present. With a total of 4,500 kilometers of waterways and approximately 1,400 ha of dam lakes (for production of drinking water) Vendée offers an ideal spot for every experienced to novice fisherman or fisherwoman. Introduction Once tourism season is over in the Vendée and holiday makers have returned home, the hotspots for fishing revert back to the tranquil retreats fishermen love. Hotspots for sea fishing include the beaches in La Faute-sur-Mer, L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer, and Les Sables d’Olonne. Where the Lay river meets the ocean, a sandy beach with a bridge over the river is an inviting spot from which to cast a line. Further …

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Discover Montaigu-Vendée

In Gallo-Roman times on an intersection of two important Roman ‘highways’ grew the village of Durivum. Situated in the very north of the  department of  Vendée, the village known since 2019 as Montaigu-Vendée is a treasure. The vision of the Lords of Montaigu included a focus on education, a vision whose affect can be felt even today, making Montaigu and its array of fused villages a desirable place to live. But the area is also hilly and, thanks its many streams and rivers, lushly green and ideal for viticulture. Our investigation not only revealed Durivum’s intersection in Roman times… in the Vendée we know that where a rich history, water, vineyards and castles meet, we have discovered an ideal spot for exploration and discovery. Welcome to Montaigu-Vendée! History – The ancient Durivum (also Durinum) was a historic village between Brittany, Anjou and Poitou. In Roman times it may have been …

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How the Bird Flu could affect us in the Vendée

Cases of HPAI serotype H5N8 virus or the Avian Flu, more commonly known as ‘the bird flu’, have recently been observed in Germany, the Netherlands, UK, Ireland, Denmark, Belgium and in recent days also in France. Because we are in migratory season – in autumn large groups of wild birds migrate south for the winter – France is on high alert. The Vendée is one of 45 departments on high alert listed in the government’s recently issued decree. What does this mean for our department and for our families? We’ve gathered some history, information, and reading materials. What is the Avian Flu? – Avian Influenza (or bird flu) is a highly contagious viral infection that can affect all birds and cause misc. issues depending on the pathogenicity of the virus and on the species. A Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) – strain H5N8 has been detected in wild birds, especially ducks, …

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Super easy apple tart

Someone in my house doesn’t love cooked apples (hint, it’s not me!). But I’ve finally come up with an ‘apple pie’ – actually it’s an apple tart – that my husband likes. Hurrah! What’s even better, it’s super fast and super easy to make. Honestly, if you mess this one up, just maybe it’s time to avoid the kitchen altogether. But this might just be the dessert that proves you DO belong in the kitchen, and it’s easy for beginners and children too! A timer and some aluminum foil is recommended! This lovely apple tart is prep to table in under an hour. Ready for after lunch coffee or tea? Ingredients and preparation For up to 6 people pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) – 1 pie crust (ROUND) 4 to 5 cooking apples (start with 4) 3 tablespoons sugar (regular or dark brown) 3 tablespoons butter 1 lemon 1 teaspoon of …

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Scampi Diabolique (devil prawns)

FROM BAR FOOD, TO FANCY APPETIZER, TO MAIN COURSE Prawns or scampi diabolique is an absolute staple in any restaurant or pub where I come from. In a restaurant it might be offered as an appetizer or a main course; and in a pub setting it’s the perfect dish to accompany a bottle of wine, friendly conversation… a boozy night on the town. I like the latter purpose of devil shrimp, served with crusty baguette to dip into the spicy sauce. You’ll find many ways to prepare this lovely dish and in time I’m sure you’ll choose one and make it your own. In my kitchen, I make the “short” version with help from the supermarket. I use canned lobster bisque as a base for my sauce. It’s a personal favorite for me, something that is both humble and fancy. For guests I may serve it with rice or fresh …

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What it means to be a responsible tourist

The concept of tourism is going through a massive shift. The term awareness has entered our bloodstream. Climate change as a global concept has been presented to us for years as an abstract need to heal our home Mother Earth but through it all we just kept on travelling, setting our bucket list as the higher priority without the necessary imagination to understand or embrace responsible travel. There is nothing like a pandemic to make us see how fast the environment can heal and how we can have a positive effect on the world by taking travel away. Now we’re learning  about the effect of our carbon footprint and the effect we have on local economy. We long to travel and we want to be a responsible tourist. But what is that? As late as last year’s travel trends, travelling was seen as an activity with nothing but positives attached. …

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Ile d’Yeu prefecture’s controversial allowance for the Belgian King & Queen

One February 2nd we noticed the increased traffic to the Île d’Yeu article on our e-magazine website and thought “Wow! People are really shopping around for their summer holiday today.” We hadn’t noticed the news that the Belgian Royal family had requested and received a permit to build an annex to their home on the island, to the protest of some islanders, in particular the local butcher. King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde are, despite rising republicanism of the Flemish population in Belgium, quite a beloved royal pair in their country. They are gentle and kind, and just like his uncle King Baudouin and aunt Queen Fabiola back in the day (Boudewijn died in 1993 and was succeeded by his brother, Phillipe’s father Albert II for 20 years before retiring in 2013), their hearts seem to genuinely beat among the Belgian constituents. But even a hard working king and queen need …

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Simple tips to boost online visibility and direct bookings

At inthevendee.com we have been fierce supporters of direct bookings versus OTA (online travel agency) bookings long before it became a movement. It’s painful seeing small businesses in our community commit a significant percentage of their income to online travel agencies whilst losing a grip on direct bookings. We understand the Internet. We understand that the relationship between hospitality businesses and OTA’s can become toxic. Hospitality proprietors need 100% of their booking revenues to live, to reinvent, and to maintain their business. We’re not saying not to use OTA’s. We’re saying, get in front of them. Here are some tips and tricks to take back control over direct bookings. Internet marketing is a long-term strategy. So, start now! 1. WEBSITE IS YOUR TOP MARKETING TOOL (but not the only one) We’re not making this up! You need to have a modern, responsive and active website for online marketing purposes. If …

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Three cultures. one meal: Shepherd’s Pie à la Flamande

Two cultures, one meal… it’s fusion to make the angels sing! I love jamming two cultures together, combining flavors and textures of meals that I love, that I know for sure my husband will love, AND that I can easily turn into a vegetarian meal without compromising anything. Shepherd’s pie – or parmentier – is such a dish. The city I was born – Ghent in Belgium – was historically a very important port in northern Europe, one where exotic spices were part of the trade. Add in the refined abbey brews and a need for cheaper cuts of meat among the working class and it should be no surprise these ingredients found their way into a stew that has kept its reputation as a delicacy throughout the centuries. Since the first published recordings in the 1800’s, the recipe has not changed indeed, it probably hasn’t since centuries before that. …

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The future of travel examined

For the third spring in a row we have scoured the Internet, travel magazines, world news and statistics to bring you a summary of the expected travel trends. In 2021 it’s certainly not travel bloggers and influencers or sector statistics that show the way forward. This year it will be the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic guiding our travel behaviour. The roll-out of a vaccine presents a light at the end of the tunnel BUT we’re not out of the woods just yet. The average human being is certainly dealing with lockdown fatigue. In this article we’ll be delving into the immediate future of travel: what it looks like in 2021 and beyond, the mindset of travellers in a pandemic, who benefits (and who doesn’t), old and new travel trends. It’s time to rise from the ashes of 2020 like a Phoenix and look the future of travel straight in …

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Putain de merde! Writing 2020 off of my shoulders

The last week of the year is normally a time of reflection for me as it probably is for many people across the globe. At the end of 2020, I vowed not to. Because… why? What was the point? What could I possibly reflect upon more than what I had already demanded of myself, or screamed into my own ears, or lie curled up in a ball worrying about? With the festive season safely behind us and both feet firmly planted into the new year – that’s 2021 in case you were wondering – it’s probably time to write the traumatic experience that was 2020, off of me, and to regain a sense of hope and even a sense of humour about it all. After all… aren’t people going through so much worse on any given day and what the hell do I have to be so sad about? Well. …

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Vouvant, Painters’ Village in the Vendée

Resting snugly in the arms of the Mère river at the edge of the largest oak tree forest in France lies one of the most beautiful villages of France. Vouvant, whose narrow streets demand a languid stroll in admiration of ancient architecture and a colorful plethora of flowers, seems to have been kissed by the gentle lips of history and tended by the loving care of faeries. A lovely drive toward the south-east corner of the Vendéen countryside will quickly point in its direction. Accept the challenge of discovery and you will quickly understand why Vouvant is lovingly referred to as the painter’s village. An introduction – The beginnings of Vouvant are somewhat mystical according to legend. The tale goes that the original castle here was created in just one night by the fairy Mélusine as a gift to the village. Of this castle only the donjon that dominates its …

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National holidays, Celebrations, and Cultural Events Calendar in France 2021

France counts many national holidays, wonderful cultural events organised nationwide, and just like any other country in the world celebrates mothersday, fathersday, grandparents etc. Summer months on French motorways are also quite notorious! As a resident of France or as a tourist, it’s difficult to keep it all straight! That’s why at inthevendee.com we have created a handy **PRINTABLE** guide to those important days you want to be aware of. You needed this in your life, didn’t you? We did! National holidays, Celebrations, and Cultural Events Calendar in France 2021 DATE DAY 2021 EVENT IN FRENCH WHAT IT MEANS JANUARY 1 Jan Friday New Year’s Day Nouvel An Public holiday FEBRUARY 14 Feb Sunday Valentine’s Day St Valentin 16 Feb Tuesday Fat Tuesday Mardis Gras Carnival MARCH 7 Mar Sunday Grandmother’s Day Fête des Grands-mères Celebration 20 Mar Saturday March Equinox L’équinoxe de mars / Printemps Spring Season begins 28 …

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My mother’s Frangipane

Not quite a Gallete des Rois but just as delicious! January 6th – the Christian Feast of the Three Kings or the Epiphany – is coming. Traditionally this is a day when a “Galette des Rois” is consumed ‘en masse’ in France. It is a puff pastry filled with almond-based cake or frangipane and a ‘bean’ hidden inside, typically in the form of a small golden crown or a genie lamp. French bakeries and super markets sell this typical delicacy with a golden crown. The person who gets the bean, gets to be King and wear the crown. My mother’s Frangipane doesn’t have the puff pastry but it is super delicious, my personal fav to serve with afternoon coffee or tea. I bake it often because typically I have the ingredients at hand and what’s more, the preparation is quick and easy, and you can’t really mess it up either! My …

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The days to avoid driving in France summer 2021

France is the most popular travel destination in Europe with under normal circumstances over eighty-one-million worldwide visitors per year, but it is unclear how the Covid-19 pandemic will affect traffic on French motorways in 2020. France typically sees top traffic every July and August weekend. However, the outer European borders of countries where the virus-related health situation is not under control, remain closed. Travelers’ fears of contracting the disease abroad will also have an adverse affect on travel to or through France. This year, however, French natives may decide to vacation in-country, choosing a driving holiday over flying which may balance things out again. Additionally, the extra measures put in place at borders to control and to trace the spread of the disease, may put people off traveling. It’s also important to note new peeks of Corona virus in certain areas such as Catalonia in Spain, with governments (e.g. Belgium) …

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Getting to the Vendée

Travelling to the Vendée is easy thanks to the proximity of airports, railway stations and well-maintained access routes. If your destination is Le Bocage Vendéen (the countryside) or the Marais Poitevin, narrow country roads add another dimension to the charm and authenticity of the area. No matter your point of departure or mode of transportation, we hope to see you soon in the Vendée! Airports and countries With some planning ahead you can get very affordable flights from within Europe. to Nantes or La Rochelle airports. Planning itineraries from elsewhere in the world to these airports can be expensive but allowing yourself enough time and by splitting the itineraries, it could be done. Research to find best options! Fly to the Vendée via Nantes Airport from these countries and cities ▸ Austria Innsbruck Vienna ▸ Algeria Algiers ▸ Belgium Brussels ▸ Bulgaria Burgas Varna ▸ Canada Montreal ▸ Croatia Dubrovnik …

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Apéro honey-mustard dipping sauce

A versatile sauce for many dishes and we’ve included three! Honey mustard sauce is a very tasty addition to your apéro table. It’s sweet and tangy, it’s sweet and a little bit spicy, and it’s super sweet because it takes no more than five minutes to make and keeps for up to a week. The longer it stores in the fridge, the stronger the flavor. So, if it’s not spicy tasting right when you make it, the next day you’ll catch that hint of cayenne at the back of the throat. It can be served to accompany an array of finger foods. It can be more fatty or more healthy. It can be used for a plethora of things in the kitchen, such as: marinade for barbecue, deviled eggs, as a glaze for a pork roast or ham, as a sauce on a hamburger, glaze for seared ahi tuna, on …

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Apéro Mini Vol-au-Vent

For apéritif we handle them quickly! At our house we are not planning to conjure up a big party menu this Christmas and New Year’s Eve. We don’t have any guests and actually “apéro dining” is something we do every Friday evening anyway; just a lot of snacks we like with a cocktail or a bottle of Cava and a nice movie. For us it’s a cozy, relaxing way to end the week. When I prepare vol-au-vent as a meal, it involves a lot of work and love. “In grandmother’s way” you know… I don’t do that for apéro-dining. First, not much filling is needed for the mini-pastries, and second it shouldn’t take so much of my time. These mini vol-au-vents are tasty AND quick. Ingredients and preparation – mini-vol-au-vent For 24 – 30 mini-pastries 2 chicken breasts cut into small pieces 1/2 lemon – juiced 50g/50g butter and plain …

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Château de la Preuille joins the Dakar Rally in 2021

The Dakar Rally, renowned for being the biggest and toughest off-road race in the world, will have one of our very own Vendéen châtelains among its participants in 2021. In just a few day’s time, Paul Las van Bennekom of Château de la Preuille will be joining the Dakar Press Team for the 7600 kilometer race, a dream come true for the Dutch expat! Founded by Thierry Sabine in 1978, the race formerly known as Paris-Dakar is now called “The Dakar”. From 2009 to 2019 it was forced to move to South-America due to security threats. Since 2020 the drivers face the arduous adventure in Saudi Arabia. Is Paul ready for the challenge? Chasing dreams is par for the course in the life of Paul Las van Bennekom and his wife Sandra. Last year they bought the lovely Château de la Preuille in Saint Hilaire de Loulay located in beautiful …

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Lettuce wraps with beets, endive, and apple (v)

So crispy fresh and delicious It’s a salad, yes. How does a salad become finger food? Simple, by cutting everything extra fine and serving it as a wrap. A lettuce wrap – or in this case I also used endive leaf ‘boats’ – that is at once refreshing, crispy, slightly tart and goes well with any of our other apéro suggestions. It’s just wonderful and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be equally awesome as a stand alone salad throughout the summer season, or as part of a picnic. I’ll be honest, people who don’t like vegetables might not like this. But that’s okay… more for those who do like this kind of thing! Ingredients and preparation – Lettuce wraps with beets, endive, and apple – Vegetarian Makes about 10 wraps plus some extra (see cup) 1 fresh butterhead lettuce (laitue) 1 sweet apple peeled (preferably Pink-Lady) 1 stalk endive cut …

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Market Days in the Vendée

Markets in France are typically held in the mornings from 8h00 to 13h00. They are usually up-and-running by 9h00. Do check village websites for cancellations, though these are not always announced. Winter Cabbages: savoy, white, brussels sprouts, broccoli. mushrooms (wild and other), endive, avocados, beets, carrots, cauliflower, chard, fennel, green onions, kale, parsnips, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squashes/ pumpkins, citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemons, oranges, clementines), dates, pears, apples For a summary of markets in the Vendée, please keep scrolling. The markets highlighted here are organised in or around the Vendée. They are worth your time due to their seize, focus, or interesting location to perfectly combine shopping and sightseeing. Keep scrolling for our comprehensive list of markets. Covid-19 update: our market list dates from 2020 before coronavirus. Please check local websites and facebook pages for protocols or cancellations. inthevendee.com is not responsible for cancellations.  Niort Niort, with its narrow streets …

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Apéro fried ravioli and marinara sauce dip (v)

Quick and easy. AND tasty! Fried ravioli is kind of a finger food staple for as long as I can remember. It’s cheap to make, quick and is sure to please everybody around the apéro table. What’s more, measurements are not really necessary, because you can’t go wrong. We use sunflower (tournesol) frying oil, but you can use whatever you’re used to, use a deep fryer or a pan like we d0. You can also use any fresh ravioli you like, stuffed with cheese or other things. Ingredients and preparation – fried ravioli with marinara sauce (vegetarian) 1  or more bags of fresh ravioli from the supermarket breadcrumbs eggs marina sauce – make your own or buy at supermarket as you wish spices: paprika powder, dried parsley, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper – no set measurements, use them liberally sunflower or other frying oil and paper towel for …

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Préfou de Vendée – garlic bread (v)

Making Préfou from scratch surprised me! Until this moment we had only ever bought the pale préfou at the supermarket… well… never again! This homemade garlic bread, a Vendéen delicacy although we’re relatively sure that the term delicacy in relation to loads of garlic is a total oxymoron, is scrumptious. Until now we had only been familiar with the Italian garlic bread which we now realise is like the “milquetoast” version of REAL garlic bread. (Milquetoast is a word that has been around since 1925 and means ‘meek’). So, what is préfou and where does it live in Vendée history? In the countryside near Fontenay-le-Comte, long before we had the modern convenience of thermostats to tell us when the oven was hot enough to bake, Vendéen bakers had the clever idea to throw a piece of bread into the oven to check the temperature. Once the bread was pale but …

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Apéro alligator pull apart bread (v)

Ridiculously easy and delicious It’s very simple…. think of your most beloved melting cheese(s), nuts, and ingredients that work well together. Stuff it all randomly into a loaf of bread, bake it and voila. Not only is it super pretty (we called it alligator bread because it looks like the back of an alligator), but it goes well with any apéritif, the children will love it, and just like pizza, you can do a half and half. In our house that works well as we don’t necessarily enjoy the same cheeses. You will enjoy this so much. It’s versatile for guests too… ask them ahead of time which ingredients they love and make one just for them to share. Finger foods made to order. We love that idea! Ingredients and preparation – Alligator pull apart bread (vegetarian) 1 small round brown sourdough PAIN BATARD bread (not sliced) – or another …

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Apéro-time Empanadas

The appetizer that works every time! Empanadas are the Central -and South American version of pasties, crescent-shaped, savory pastries filled with a variety of ingredients. They are usually fried, but we prefer baking them to golden perfection. They are quite versatile and can be filled with meat or even made in a delicious Caribbean-style vegetarian version simply by replacing the meat with boiled and shredded  (sweet)potato and carrots. Even better… you can make them ahead of time and freeze, so you always have something to serve unexpected guests that is (almost completely) homemade and thaws/ reheats/ bakes quickly. When we have a party or for any fancy occasion like Christmas -or New Year’s eve, these beef-olive-raisin empanadas are on the menu as a favorite finger food. Hope you enjoy! Ingredients and preparation – Appetizer Empanadas For about 40 appetizers 175 gr lean minced beef – for this recipe, minced turkey …