Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Way out

I went on a trip, completely unplanned, but so fun and exciting. I was home way too long, yes, job hunting but  nothing was happening and I had to make it happen myself. So I did.
First I went to Germany and spent a couple of days in one of the nicest restaurants/kitchens I have ever seen. What an incredible experience.If you are in the area of northern Germany, please do visit Osnabruck where you'll find a 2 Michelin restaurant LaVie. Absolutely stunning.  

I managed to combine leisure with work and to step into some of the top Uk kitchens. During the days off, I walked through half of the England, ate many exciting foods and of course...visited the best coffee shops there   are in London. 

I love their markets!! There are all sorts of things to buy, old and new. I am a huge fan of old and forgotten things, especially when it comes to kitchen and furniture. 

I love London, this City is truly magical. When I was asked if I prefer NYC over London, I am not sure if I can answer correctly because those are two different loves. What I love about London is that it has a soul; there is something in the air, in the people, architecture, food, tradition, customs..I love it. 

There is always something fun and exciting around every corner. For example, I always dreamed of trying Pierre Herme's macarons. For those of you who know of him, are familiar with the fact that he made himself famous for his macarons. First of all, I had no idea he had a store in London and I saw it by accident! Boy did I rush in. I tried two flavors because they were quite pricey and knowing that I wasn't a macaron fan I didn't want not to leave it unfinished. Now, what do you think has happened? Ate it to the last crumb. Oh my ganache. That was one of the best things I have tried in a while. I can say I love macarons, but only Pierre Herme's macarons. the flavors were apricot and pistachio and Jasmine tea (I went back a few days later to try chocolate and olive oil, exquisite!)

Another memorable meal was at the Modern Pantry, a restaurant I was dying to go to. I was on my own (never thought I could do that) and couldn't have enjoyed it more! Highly recommended. After such meal I had to go for a macchiato at the nearby cafe - St.Ali. Great atmosphere and wonderful espresso. 



One thing I am crazy about are croissants. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite pastry is, I say there is nothing that can beat a croissant....but a good croissant. Please visit Nopi, a beautiful restaurant owned by the famous Ottolenghi. I went there for breakfast, specifically for the purple rice with coconut milk, mangoes and bananas, but after seeing the croissants... I couldn't resist. They were almost perfect, just a tiny bit dense, but such a beautiful crumb and perfect shaping.

Another place I had lunch at was Caravan (I went there partially because they have their own roastery, and it sure does show in the coffee. The small plates were very tasty, but a bit on the heavier side. I would come back though for coffee (specifically cortado, which is equal amounts of espresso to steamed milk) and their delish toasted cornbread with chipotle mayo. 

And more cafes! Visit Kaffeine for amazing Flat White (Australian and New Zealand based coffee drink; to me it is a cross between a late and a cappuccino). OH, and try the croissant, you will be surprised ;)

Friday, June 17, 2011

A short trip to Munich

Munich! What a beautiful City. It was the first time for me to visit Southern Germany = Bavaria who everyone knows mostly for the Oktoberfest. Trust me, there is a LOT more to it then just beer (ok, the beer really is outstanding). Munich is probably one of my favorite cities I have visited in a while. 

The first meal of the day was also my favorite on this trip; Pretzels, Weisswurst or White Sausage and beer! I never thought I would enjoy the mild but aromatic sausage with slightly sweet and spicy whole grain mustard. What a perfect combo! (not to mention the addition of beer) The sausage is made of finely ground veal and pork with lemon, spices and parsley. Once the mixture is put in the casings it is boiled in water or stock for about 10 minutes. It has a white color because there are no colors or preservatives added. If this is really true for all, I am not sure. 

What I loved about this this city are little cafes and chocolate shops which are all over the City offering a wide variety of artisanal chocolate, pastries, cakes and specialty coffee drinks.  

Since it was Rhubarb season, my first choice was a super flavorful slice of rhubarb cake. It had like shortcrust pastry, slightly sweetened rhubarb chunks topped with slivered almond crumble. Perfect! So simple, but those  are the kind of things I go for.  

Bakeries and specialty food shops are always a feast for the eyes, because of a stunning variety of product, mostly great baked goods. I enjoy their breads which are made with all kinds of flours to choose from. Rye is one of the most popular, but white bread is also widely eaten. 

Apple strudel, apple pie and pastry cream danish

The local market was a madness!! HOLY PRODUCE! I am not talking about local and seasonal ingredients only, but there were fruits and vegetables all over the world, some that I have never seen before. My eye though always gets stuck on their lovely big white asparagus. Two evenings in a row I had them for dinner, served with just a touch of butter, salt, young potatoes and ham. 

I don't think I have even seen a tomato this big and very pretty looking! For people who know my dad, he has huge hands!

Nor did I see cacao beans...

Chinese tower and a "Biergarten" where hundreds of people bring their own food, socialize and drink beer! (even though it is not Oktoberfest)