June 24, 2011

Elderflower Cordial

Have you ever noticed how much food you can get for free? Even if I am far from being an expert in foraging, I always keep my eyes open and love to unexpectedly find edible gifts that nature offers us. Once it is wild cherries, another time it is a handful of walnuts...

To identify wild food, some very nice books can help you, such as this one or that one.

Not long ago, on the farm where Luke’s parents live, elder trees were in full bloom. I had wanted to try making elderflower cordial for ages, so we set up to the task. We picked a basket full of elderflower heads and made this tasty drink. Best enjoyed with water and ice cubes or with a white bubbly for a special treat.

Elderflower Cordial – makes 200ml - recipe from BBC Food

  • • 30 elderflower heads
  • • 1.7L boiling water
  • • 900g caster sugar
  • • 50g citric acid (available from chemists)
  • • 2 unwaxed oranges, sliced
  • • 3 unwaxed lemons, sliced

  • 1. Gently rinse the elderflowers.
  • 2. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a very large mixing bowl. Stir well to dissolve and leave to cool.
  • 3. Add the citric acid, the orange and lemon slices, and then the flowers. Mix delicately.
  • 4. Cover and leave in a cool place for 24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • 5. The next day, strain through muslin and transfer to sterilised bottles.

  • Sirop aux Fleurs de Sureau – pour 200ml - recette de BBC Food

  • • 30 ombelles de sureau
  • • 1,7L d’eau bouillante
  • • 900g de sucre cristallisé
  • • 50g d’acide citrique (on en trouve en pharmacie)
  • • 2 oranges, non traitées, coupées en rondelles
  • • 3 citrons, non traités, coupés en rondelles

  • 1. Rincer délicatement les fleurs de sureau.
  • 2. Verser l’eau bouillante sur le sucre dans un grand saladier. Bien mélanger pour dissoudre le sucre et laisser refroidir.
  • 3. Ajouter l’acide citrique, les rondelles d’oranges et de citrons et les fleurs. Mélanger délicatement.
  • 4. Couvrir et laisser dans un endroit frais pendant 24h, en mélangeant de temps en temps.
  • 5. Le lendemain, faire passer dans une mousseline et transférer dans des bouteilles stérilisées.
  • June 19, 2011

    The Netherlands: Amsterdam

    In Amsterdam, we fed almost only with stroopwafels and Dutch cheese! No, this is not true, as the city has got plenty of eateries to choose from, seating on a terrace and watching people passing by, such as

  • De Keuken van 1870, Spuistraat 4 and
  • Villa Zeezicht, Torensteeg 7
  • Amsterdam is very pretty with its canals and very narrow houses that lean forward so much that you wonder how they haven’t fallen yet. And bikes! They are everywhere and really rule the city.

    This was the last destination of our European tour that took us through beautiful cities and allowed us to taste a variety of culinary specialities – I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride!

    My next post will have a recipe, I promise ;)

    Dutch Pancake

    June 16, 2011

    Germany: Berlin

    Berlin was a special place to go to for us, as we stayed with our friend Mona, who we hadn’t seen for almost 3 years. She shared her love of Berlin with us and made us love it too.

    The city has a vibe that gets you hooked, with beach clubs along the river, a vibrant artistic scene and big family/friends gatherings in the parks at the weekend.

    We didn’t miss the opportunity to taste Curry Wurst, a Berlin speciality consisting of sausage served with a curry sauce, and also Berliner Doughnuts.

    Curry Wurst at Curry 36

    I had fond memories of German breakfasts, and Mona treated us by cycling to the bakery in the morning and getting fresh Brötchen (little breads), that we ate with all sorts of sweet and savoury toppings – it tasted so good!

    Our Sunday morning was lazily spent at the terrace of a café, enjoying a brunch buffet with a glass of Prosecco.

    Sunday Morning Brunch

    We left Berlin happy and thinking that there is still so much to see in this city: we’ll go back for sure!

    June 12, 2011

    Czech Republic: Prague

    Prague boasts architectural treasures, but also a rich history, as visiting the Jewish museum and the Museum of Communism showed us. The somewhat compact city centre makes it easy to explore by foot.

    You might like to stop in a cave like café for lunch, such as Lehka Hlava (clear head), Borsov 2, for delicious vegetarian dishes.

    Traditional Czech food is rustic, but if there is anything not to miss, it is the beer...even cheaper than water!

    June 07, 2011

    Austria: Vienna & Krems

    For the first time of our European trip, the weather was grey and rainy. We walked along Vienna’s streets in our raincoats, looking at the elegant mix of old and new buildings. We stopped at cafés to drink Chocolat Viennois (hot chocolate with whipped cream) and eat a piece of apple strudel.

    Apple Strudel and Hot Chocolate

    Vienna seemed quiet and tourist-free after the bustling cities of Italy, which was a nice change. We learnt about the Habsburg dynasty and visited beautiful Schloss Schönbrunn.

    On the Saturday around lunchtime, everybody seems to meet at the Naschmarkt, a market with not only food stalls but also a long line of eateries of all sorts. All the cafés and restaurant were full and it gave the place a lively atmosphere. There we ate traditional Austrian food consisting of Wiener schnitzel (pork cutlet coated in bread crumbs) and sausages with Sauerkraut, drinking local beer.

    On a day out to Krems, a pretty town on the Donau one hour away from Vienna, we saw lots of vineyards on the surrounding hills – and found out that Austria produces a fair amount of wines.

    Every night we tried different restaurant and I would recommend all of them:

  • Wrenkh, Bauernmarkt 10 - where I had mango paprika quinoa with goats cheese and mango and peanut chicken curry for Luke. The short puds selection is exquisite;

  • Le Bol, Neuer Markt 14 – a French table commune hold by a couple of French people, very nice atmosphere and on the menu, a good selection of tartines, salads and quiches and traditional desserts like tarte au citron and mousse au chocolat;

  • Hollerei, Hollergasse 9 – a vegetarian restaurant hidden away in the trees. The menu will make you want to give up eating meat. Luke went for the Tofu Thai Red Curry and I had the Asparagus Risotto.
  • June 03, 2011

    Italy: Rome & Venice


    Rome is big and captivating and is a city with a strong character, like its inhabitants. This destination was special for us as, as a surprise for my Dad’s birthday, we had arranged to meet up there with my parents and brothers. We all had a lovely time together and were thrilled to see buildings from the Antiquity and so many grandiose churches. We walked a lot, everyday.

    Italy was one of the destinations I was the most looking forward to in terms of food. Italian food is cooked so much all over the world that I was curious to see what it was like in Italy. In Rome, you can find a lot of not so good touristy ristorrante, but if you look well or are well advised, you still can find real Roman trattoria with an authentic atmosphere. Our tour guide from when we visited the Vatican advised us of a place called Trattoria Dell’Omo (Via Vicenza 18, 00185, Roma). There we were able to taste Roman specialities, and while my brother went for the tripes, Luke opted for the spaghetti carbonara (without crème fraîche) and I went for the cacao e pepe (pecorino and black pepper) pasta – a simple but delicious dish.

    One of the places I enjoyed the most walking around in Rome was the Trastevere, where streets smelled of jasmine, and I had one of the best pizzas ever. We also stopped at a local market and bought the first cherries of the season – I was in heaven.


    Hands in hands, we wandered through romantic Venice. We got lost in its tiny streets. Every corner was different: we arrived on a large square with cafés, found ourselves at a dead end, climbed over a pretty bridge across the water or were in an empty street.

    It was sunny and hot and busy, very busy. I couldn’t help wondering what it must be like to live in a place like Venice. It is such a special place.

    The Rialto market was lined with stalls selling beautiful fruits and vegetables and fresh fish. Seeing the in-season asparaguses, artichokes, tomatoes, peas, courgette flowers, strawberries and cherries was a real invitation to cooking...or like we did, buying handfuls of tomatoes and cherries, rinsing them in a public fountain and eating them on the market place.

    Rialto Market

    Venetian specialities include sarde di soar (fried sardines marinated in vinegar and onions) and risi e bisi (pea soup thickened with rice). But what I liked the most were the cichetti: Venetian tapas, enjoyed at the counter of a bar with a glass of Proseco.
  • Enoteca Al Volto (Calle Cavalli 4081) and
  • All Arco (Calle dell’Arco 436) where typical cichetti bars we loved to go to.
  • Cichetti at All Arco

    Or you might like to sit at the terrace at Imagina Café (Rio Terà Canal 3126) and have a glass of Bellini or Spritz under the starry sky and listen to the night falling over Venice...