wanderlust: favourite hiking routes 2017 (and sweet energy-refills to take along)

Hello my friends of travel, food, food-travel and travel-food!

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What are you up to guys? After a failed iron injection I had to spend a couple of days in bed with fever, limb pain and John Oliver (whom I’d now be ready to marry on the spot if he wasn’t already married to a ridiculously beautiful wife. Is that one of the side-effects, too?). Whatever, instead of celebrating my first world problems, I decided to use this involuntarily gained time to start writing a new blog post (finally!), which I can conveniently do from my sofa bed (John Oliver on mute for the time being).

For, before my miserable encounter with ironman, I was actually a true jitterbug. And well, what is the thing you do when you can’t stand still? Exactly: You walk. Until. You. Drop. That is why I re-discovered hiking. I say re-discovered because my first discovery of hiking when I was a kid was not particularly pleasant, especially for my Mom and Dad (squeaky “are we there yets?!” included). But I am getting old and as it happens: I start enjoying running around on foot-wide trails up in the mountains  while breathing in cow shit. Ah, I should work in outdoor-marketing, shouldn’t I?

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Anyways, hiking is great indeed, because it makes you focus on your body again when you are used to using your head all the time. You don’t to think things through too many times, you just move your limbs in the rhythm of the landscape. And it is a very welcome alternation from the running practice I am urging myself to do currently, thanks to my lovely sister, who signed me up for a half-marathon four ridiculously short weeks from now!

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But back to hiking! Here’s what’s gonna happen: I will let you in on my favourite hiking trails all over the world (this collection is definitely to be extended and complemented in the years to come and still quite humble, since I am not as old as I tend to portray myself). Also, I will include some really awesome hiking snacks at the end of this monologue. For, seriously: What better motivation can one have for hiking than self-made delicious food on top of the world?

So, let’s begin with the easy one: my tiny home country. There are hundreds of great hiking opportunities in Switzerland, nothing new as to that. But many of them are not an option if you are trying to avoid tourist masses. Don’t get me wrong. I love people from wherever in the world they might be. But if there is one thing I learnt while travelling it’s this: Everyone can be an a*****e when they are a tourist, including myself. Period.

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What I wanna learn from the tourists in my own country, however, is the way they look at everything as if they’d seen it for the first time (probably because the actually DID see it for the first time). I might coin this as “home-town-estrangement” and invite you all to go out and discover your home-town, home-city or homecountry as if it was the first time, explore it with a tourist’s eyes. But also, I’d like you to get out while you still can and discover these beautiful landscapes, unless you haven’t already:

Switzerland:  Schwarzsee – Jaun (ca. 14km, 4 hours, medium)

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This is a fantastic hike for beautiful autumn days and weekend escapes. I started off my hike with a refreshing bath in the Schwarzsee (black lake) and spent the night after the hike in a cute bed and breakfast in Jaun, sleeping like a baby. If you go there, check out Schuwey’s BnB and consider the next hike on my list for your second day. The hike includes about 700 metres elevation gain, but it might feel like a little more, since the trail goes up and down quite a bit. We chose the longer version and took a little break half way through. Cows are included during the hike (like, lots of cows).

Switzerland: Jaun – Gastlosen (ca. 12 – 20 km, 4 -7 hours, tough)

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The Gastlosen are a small mountain chain, easily accessible from the village of Jaun. If you feel motivated for a proper (proper-proper!) hike, you might like to start off in Jaun. But if you want to shorten the walking distance (from about 20 km to 12 km), you should definitely take the cable car to overcome the first steep hills. Trail-wise, the Gastlosen hike offers pretty much everything from easy to challenging, culminating in something-like-climbing half way through. You’re going to get 400 metres elevation gain and lose just as much. There are incredibly different landscapes along the way and nice mountain restaurants, too. Hiking is only half as fun without a nice pint of cider, isn’t it?

Norway: Vesle Nup Hike (ca. 12 km, 5 hours, medium)

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If you really think you’ve had a breathtaking view over (almost) untouched, raw landscape, you must have been up on Vesle Nup in Norway’s Hardangervidda National Park! The way there is a bit tough at times, since trails are not always marked and you gotta deal with quite an elevation gain. Yet, every step of this hike is worth its effort. And, as a side-note: It’s much cooler, much less touristy and by far more exciting than the very hiped Trolltunga hike, where you are literally walking up in a column of tourists in white Nikes. Just saying.

Iceland: Lake Myvatn – Viti Crater (ca. 15 km, medium)

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Iceland – my one true love! To be fair, I did not really like this hike very much in the beginning, due to the endless lava field we were crossing. Lava fields can be fascinating, for sure, but only to a certain extent. I found the scarcity of the pitch black landscape quite depressing. But then, nature started to change.

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Small bushes decorated the trail with autumn colours on that picture perfect september day and geological forms became more adventurous, from lava tunnels to cracks to huge holes filled with snow. Well, don’t get me started on Iceland, I could talk for hours. Just go discover it yourself and, please, be as respectful as you could possibly be with that vulnerable landscape.

USA: Cathedral Lakes Hike (ca. 10 km, easy)

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My most recent hike! Of course, one cannot deny that hiking in Yosemite is a downright tourisy thing to do. And the trail was indeed much more crowded than all the other hikes I am suggesting here. But the landscape makes up for everything. A thousand times! I cam across deers, all kinds of birds (I wish I could say anything clever on birds, but I can’t) pretty flowers (dito), and a stunning plateau in the end and I was simply left in awe. I did not see any bears, unfortunately (although, to be fair, anything nearly looking like a bear would probably have scared the shit out of me). This is an easy hike but be prepared for some heavy breathing due to the thin air. I sounded like a fat whale on a diet.

Norway: Nosi Hike (Ullensvang) (ca. 13 km, tough)

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This is my other absolute must-go in Norway for everyone who is looking for alternatives to the Trolltunga hike and still doesn’t want to renounce great views. But, as it tends to be the case with great views: they come with a price tag. And so does this one. Thing is: You start down at a fjord. Which is pretty much sea level. And you are going up about 1000 metres to get that view you asked for. Sounding cruel? Check this out:

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Looks absolutely worth it, right? Well, the fitter ones amongst you might like to continue their hike along “Dronningstien” down to Kinsarvik, a small town at the fjord you will be looking down on.

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So, what are you waiting for, pretty people? Pack your stuff and go! Oh, of course: The hiking snack! These challenging hikes really do require quick and satisfying energy-refills, don’t they? Well, what could do this better for us than chocolate? Exactly: pepped-up chocolate. Check this nasty hiking buddy out:

“Doped” chocolate bites with Ovomaltine, flax seeds, hemp, dried blueberries and cacao nibs

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  • 100 g dark chocolate
  • 5 tablespoons ovomaltine
  • 2 tablespoons flax seeds
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
  • 1 tablespoon dried blueberries

PREP: melt chocolate, mix with all other ingredients, spread on baking sheet, chill )in any sense of the word) and cut in pieces

And really people: Ovo is love, Ovo is life. I grew up with that thing. It brought me savely through any winter in Switzerland. And remember how perfect Ovomaltine’s slogan fits hiking: You won’t be able to do things better, but you will last longer (This really doesn’t sound very cool when you translate it, though)! Hah, I wish I got paid for saying this, after all.

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Another awesome thing to take along in old jars or whatever container you have available are oats. Humble, simple oats. I love them. They give long-lasting energy and are as multifaceted as the landscapes you will encounter on your way. And, as far as I remember, it’s the only healthy thing I already loved when I was a kid: oats with milk, banana slices. So this version is a bit more fancy, but only slightly, since I really don’t want to steal this grain’s well-deserved show:

overnight oats in a jar with whole milk, dried apricots and caramelized walnuts

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  • 1 cup oats
  • 1,5 cups milk
  • 6 dried apricots
  • 1 handful walnuts, roasted with 1 tablespoon coconut sugar and 1 pinch of cinnamon

PREP: soak oats in milk in the fridge over night, add walnuts and apricots, done!

So, after this long post, I am gonna need another load of John Oliver. I wish you all a wonderful autumnal week and hope I go explore your wonderful surroundings one your own or with your loved ones once you’re able to make time.

Loads of love, Florence

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Dolce Vita in town

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My dear food-lovers, how are you?

I ignored this blog for way too long, I know (like, that’s the phrase all of my blogposts start with). Last time I made a post it was about grey skies and by now we’re blessed with hot sun and long nights. So to have you pardon me my absence quickly, I will draw on some really cheap method (the one that always works, though): Ice cream!

I was working on some projects lately (damn, that sounds important), so I did not really have time to cook a lot. And when I did it was not quite worthy of being taken pictures of.  I basically ate pasta, pasta and again, pasta (Can one ever have enough of pasta?!). Food-blogger-wise, however, that’s a shame and I am so gonna change that from now on: In order to trick myself into the kitchen, I bought tons of veggies yesterday. Fingers crossed that my “no-food-waste-gene” will make sure I really use them. But before that, let’s turn to the real good stuff, the sweet and refreshing dolce vita!

This week, I had a day off. Like, off-off. It’s been the first day in ages that I did not have any obligations. So, what was I gonna do on that day to live up to its singularity? Eat shiploads of ice cream, of course! And doing so, I managed to carve out the three most awesome Gelaterie in my beautiful little town Basel (this said, I wanna mention that there really are other lovely places and that I do not claim this list to be complete!). So: Let’s go!

Glatscharia Üna

Glatscharia is the Rhaeto-Roman (one of the four vernaculars of Switzerland) word for ice cream shop or Gelateria. It serves ice cream made from organic milk and best products. Try popcorn, ovomaltine (I might say, the national drink of Switzerland) or honey ice creams!

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Now one of the main reasons for me to do this post is that I always love to get tips by locals when I travel. And recently, there have been surprisingly many tourists in my town (not only because of the famous art exhibition). They usually stumble into the bar I work at and then they do two things: 1. They smile happily when they realise that I do speak English and that I can explain them where to find all the sites they are looking for (Mostly: the Münster, the Ferries over the Rhine and the Tinguely-Fountain) and 2. they tell me how small Basel is and that they thought it was one of the bigger cities in Switzerland. It is indeed. But Switzerland is tiny. So at least they can get ice cream to get over the size-disappointment. The other ice cream shop I simply adore is at the same time in a great location that absolutely needs to be recommended: the Markthalle. Great food stands place side by side. You can get everything edible, ranging from Vietnamese to Kurdish to Caribbean. And, as I said, great ice cream:

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Eisuru’s ice cream is produced on site, their flavours are extraordinary and the cups and cones are filled and handed out almost meditatively. Try basil-strawberry, black sesame or guava.

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The last one is my personal favourite because of it’s awesome location. It’s close to the border of the rhine where literally everyone loves to hang out in summer.

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Other than that, the small Gelateria I am talking about offers awesome food, concerts (!!!) and is vegan friendly as well. How could anyone possibly resist? Have a look at:

Acero

I have been to Acero the first time only recently and I immediately felt ashamed I did not go there earlier. It’ s on the other side of the Rhine from where I live (the Kleinbasel or little Basel) and I was simply too lazy to go there because it seemed so far. Yes, that is the point where all tourists in the world who have visited Basel may laugh at me real hard! So please go and try the vegan sesame ice cream, the lemony panna cotta or basil-flavour!

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Now with this sugar-overdose (oh, glad you ask, yes I did have a weird tummy after my big ice cream tour!) I leave you today, but I will be back soon!

In the meantime, I will be happy to receive tips for amazing ice cream places all over the world, just comment below! I’m gonna stay in my lovely hometown until the end of July and then I’ll be off to chilly Norway.

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Enjoy these beautiful days with your beloved ones! See you soon,

Sincerely, your professional ice-cream-tastress, Florence

Sweden: 3 cities, grey skies, and a shipload of sins

Hello there, everyone! Doing fine? Now as for me, the semester at university has started again and there was only one possible way to face that: Go on holidays! (To the country which, according to many Americans I have met, is exactly the same thing as Switzerland: Sweden.) And now, after a short encounter with winter winds, tons of sweets and pastry, I am back home and I guess there is no more running away from being a serious academic no more. Yet, what’s the first thing I do? Talk to you guys, of course!

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Now, let me get two things straight: First of all, don’t got to the south of Sweden in winter in times of climate change, when what used to be snow becomes rain and what used to be ice-crystal-cold becomes humid bleakness. Secondly, don’t plan to visit three Swedish cities in 6 days, or don’t plan to drive over 650 kilometers in 6 days. You will end up saying “Wow, I imagine this city must be really cool, it’s a pity we have to leave already again” all the damn time. Should have known better? Yes. But! I got to see a lot of lovely cafés thanks to that one fact that made me tell you not to go to Sweden in winter. The weather was mostly awful. A cosy 5 degrees and drizzly rain, topped with brisk wind, changing for thick snow up in pretty Stockholm. Should have known that one better as well? Yes. Anyways, it’s kinda good for you people, because I found some really warm and cosy gems up there that made everything seem very heartwarming and sweet again and that I absolutely wanna share with you.

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Now, my first stop was that city with the cute name (true: my family used to name our plush toys after it): Malmö. In a nutshell, a really easy going city. No fancy or thrilling sites, though, but that is actually what I really appreciated. For it meant that there weren’t that many tourists and I did not feel like rushing from one attraction to another. Now, one of the first things that stroke me, was that every single bakery not only had tons of cinnamon buns (I had expected those), but also tons of brownish balls, rolled in coconut rasps. I tried one (as I do with everything that is edible) and, honestly, I fell in love.

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Fun fact: In Sweden, the official day to eat sweets for kids is mostly Saturday. The only sweet that is allowed on weekdays is the aforesaid chocolate ball. However, I don’t really understand that, most of the time, that nasty thing basically consists of butter. Lot’s of butter. That is why I particularly fancied the one of a small café I visited, for it was vegan and no less yummy than the other ones. The Lite Off Salladsbar, by the way, also has some pretty awesome baristas.

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And I am over here working in my bar like, “your Cappuccino-foam does look a tiny little bit like a heart, tho?!”

So on the the next stop: Växjö, self-claimed greenest city in Europe and home of many students. Well, in winter it looks pretty brownish, to be frank. But what doesn’t? We stayed a little outside the city in a small hotel by a lake, and let me tell you that: Go there! Their in-house bakery and their breakfast or afternoon tea (Fika in Swedish) are well worth a quick stop-over: Toftastrand Hotell. Pure dolce vita!  

After that short intermezzo, I made my way a many kilometers further north: to Sweden’s charming capital city. Landscapes changed gradually, so did climate. The only opportunities to eat on the way were three different, equally globalized, fast-food chains. Blessed be the generous breakfast, again!

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Now, in summer Stockholm might very well become one of my absolute favorite cities. There is something relaxed and welcoming about that city. Winter, however, was brisk (except for the one evening most of my pictures were taken on – classic). Other than that, I was gifted with tons of snow and icy winds which made me start the cinnamon-bun competition: Where do I get the best ones? I can tell you one thing: there is an odds-on favorite for sure: the Fabrique. Okay, it’s a chain, but really, I have never had such a nastily delicious and deliciously nasty cinnamon bun in my whole life.

The other challenge that was going on was: how to eat inexpensive and tasty simultaneously. After days of roaming around, I accidentally ran into the most charming and heartwarming little café one possibly wish for: Bistro Matgatan 22. They serve a great selection of vegan as well as non-vegan lunches, with free salad, bread and lemonade for more than fair prices in a living-room-ish atmosphere. Awesome. And last but not least, in the very same street in Gamla Stan, Stockholm’s old town (yes, it is mostly as touristic as it sounds), I found a vegan and organic bakery with all the nasty pastry they sell everywhere but with the awesome difference that it is dairy- and sugar-free. How cool is that? Go to: Naturbageriet Sativa.

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Now, after all those treats you might imagine that I felt pretty much like going cold turkey when I came home. And as I am also opting for a vegan nutrition at the moment, what I did was an attempt at my one true love, Swedish chocolate balls, vegan edition. Here you go:

vegan Swedish chocolate balls

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ingredients:

  • 500 g date paste
  • 200 g dark chocolate
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup hashed and roasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 4 tablespoons flax-seed oil
  • coconut flour or coconut rasps

preparation:

  1. melt chocolate with flax-seed oil
  2. mix all ingredients and knead well
  3. form balls, roll in coconut rasps and put in the fridge for an hour
  4. enjoy with chai latte or coffee

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I wish you some sweet days, my dear fellows and a lovely beginning of spring

Sincerely, your professional chocolate-ball-addict

of vitamin bombs and tasty days in montréal

Hello hungry mouths! How’s your winter going so far (if you have any, after all)? Sleepy? After having returned from a short trip to the North American continent I am wide awake  (especially at night, thanks jet lag!) and I got some literally cool things coming up!

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Apart from showering you with some tips for the cold, yet tempting Canadian Montréal I have created, how else, another recipe – this time for an awesomely colorful vitamin bomb which will immediately sweeten and energize the grey and dark days we’re facing.

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So, the lucky young girl I am, I made use of my privilege as a flight attendant’s daughter once more and went a couple of time zones further west: to Montréal. After eight hour passed with two movies and a critical dissecting of the board-food (I love airplane-meals, always good for a surprise. Like, who ever would serve coffee cream alongside spaghetti with something like tomato sauce?!) Anyways. The weather conditions in the former “Ville Marie” were surprisingly mild and merciful when I arrived (“Oh you must be used to cold temperatures anyways, you’re Swiss!” – I am told by every Northern American who at least got as far as to distinguish Switzerland from Sweden, maybe.) but the Canadian skies decided to show me all they have up their sleeves on my second day: icy rain, snow, wind, and fog – simultaneously. Result: my flight home got cancelled and my stay prolonged. There is definitely worse places to be grounded indeed. I didn’t really feel like going outside, of course, but who cares about that in a city with 30 km underground labyrinth full of shops and restaurants?  So here is why I came up with three travel-advice-categories for the city at St-Lawrence River. Ville Marie, by the way, is also the name of the quarters I stayed at and they got a lot to offer. Let’s have a look at it!

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Montreal in merciful weather conditions

If you should happen to be blessed with nice or something-near-nice weather in Montreal: use it! Go to one of the awesome ice-skating places, there are plenty of them, for instance at the Old Port of Montreal. Also, there is no getting around, you have to walk up Mont Royal! Dress warm, maybe bring a slide, your ice skaters or your skis, whatever. The area is vast and the view stunning!

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Montreal in brisk weather conditions

Go for the Museum of Fine Arts! Really! I am not an art person for sure. I don’t really know much about it, nothing that goes beyond Monet, van Gogh and Picasso. And maybe that is one of the reasons why I went, sort of to calm my guilty conscience about my ignorance. Whatever, I was completely amazed by the extent and the range of pieces of art that were exhibited there. From Renaissance to contemporary artists, paintings, photography to chairs in all forms and colors they really had everything that might ever have been considered art by some soul in the world. I still do not know much more about arts but now I think that maybe that’s all it needs for you to enjoy it and find it fun.

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Montreal in hungry conditions: breakfast, lunch and dinner

It is my first dilemma when I come to a city I haven’t been to before: food. Everyone is a less bearable person when hungry, really. So I am always happy when people tell me where to eat. Straight forward. So I don’t waste time on that, getting ever more “hangry”.

If you can, and if you’re not on the “poutine” (fries with greasy sauces, seriously?!) side of eaters, go either for Rue St.Paul or for Rue Crescent (although I am sure there are other streets just as rich in treasures). They both offer neat shops, cafés and restaurants.

My personal favorites for a whole day of eating shall thus be presented here:

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For a light, fresh and healthy lunchMandy’s. Cute and bright interior. Great choice of salads and drinks!

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  • For a nasty dinner consisting of awesome homemade pasta: Wienstein and Gavin’s. Plus: they serve baguette with pesto before you order. So mean!
  • And last but not least: for the craving in between, go to the well-hidden, yet cool-chic Café Spoon and treat yourself with a matcha-latte with almond milk.

Now after having talked about food so much, I hope you still do have at least half an ear and an eye for what I created for you today. You should and I don’t want you to leave without it. For it is one more step towards getting healthy and sane through freezing days full of sneezing people, a pure vitamin bomb with potential to become a quick dessert, eye-catcher and (mostly) guiltless midnight snack, too:

blood-orange with honey and peppermint-cream, topped with roasted cinnamon-walnuts 

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ingredients:

  • 2 blood oranges in slices
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 handfuls of hashed fresh peppermint
  • cinnamon
  • 1 handful of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon honey

preparation:

  • whip cream, then add peppermint and a pinch of cinnamon
  • roast walnuts with some cinnamon
  • put orange slices on a plate, top with honey, cream little cinnamon and some walnuts

So quick, so simple, so good!

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I wish you wonderful days of winter, eventually turning into mild and sunny days of spring (fingers crossed!).

Love, Florence

It’s all about brunching – 3 awesome brunching recipes trying to keep up with Basel’s best brunching-place!

Hello again after a very long time of silence! What’s up, dear fellows? I got some pretty tempting food-stuff coming up today, hopefully not only capturing your attention, but also our taste buds!

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After weeks, months even, in my University’s library, tons of coffee and a lot whining I am finally back on track. I had my Bachelor’s exam in december and since then, I basically spend my days sleeping, cooking, brunching and looking for jobs, mostly in exactly this sequence and with unequal distribution of personal priorities. Now, to feel a little more useful doing all this, I decided to write a post on brunching. Okay, yes, it’s definitely not the most urgent thing to do in my life. But it is the most appealing one indeed, for: whoever does not love a colorful brunch with friends when every single one of them has nothing but time on their hands because they all belong to that lazy species of human beings called students?

So that is why this post includes (as the title already reveals, actually): an absolute must-go-brunching-place in my sweet Swiss hometown Basel plus a couple of recipes for the absolutely most yummy, healthy and easily prepared Brunch ever. Here we go!

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Lately, it was a cold and sunny sunday morning and I was cranky from all the Bachelor-preparation, I decided to go out brunching. That is my solution to everything: treat yourself. Especially when you actually do not have time for stuff like this. Do it all the more!

So, since then I love starting my days off with hanging in bed for ages and then getting up to have an extended (means: till dinnertime) brunch with lots of yummy food, friends, talks and laughter (especially since I gotta wait 6 weeks for my Bachelor-results, how nerve-racking is that?!). This new food-passion was triggered by a pretty little restaurant in one of my favourite Baselean areas (for its ever changing, colorful character): The Kleinbasel around Klybeckstrasse and Feldbergstrasse.

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La fourchette, the fork, it is called and its interior looks like a classy vintage furniture shop. They offer heartwarming dinner and every first sunday of the month there is a huge brunch. And let me tell you one thing: It is worth every cent. After three hours in the warmth of la fourchette and the icy winter winds of Basel hissing outside, I had devoured tons of spinach rolls, croissants, sesame-bread-buns, humus, frittata, cheese, chestnut-cake and chocolate-tart. To sum it up: I felt like a double as heavy , double as lazy and double as satisfied version of myself.

So it was sealed: I needed to become the queen of brunching. And my long way up there is what you get to see now. First of all, there a a couple of things that should not be missing at any good vegetarian brunch:

  1. homemade bread
  2. eggs
  3. fresh fruit
  4. homemade granola
  5. yoghurt
  6. fresh brewed coffee and tea

And that is what I present you with now, in a special and healthy, yet no more complicated version: a homemade flax-seed bread, a slow cooked omelet which needs no supervision, and the perfect homemade granola with an awesome yoghurt-mix. Have a look:

flax-seed braided bread with walnut oil

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ingredients:

  • 500 g spelt flour
  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnut oil (or any kind of oil you prefer)
  • 1 egg
  • 1,5 cups milk
  • 20 g fresh yeast

preparation:

  • mix flour, salt, sugar and flaxseeds
  • dissolve yeast in milk, add walnut oil
  • mix all ingredients, apart from the egg and knead well
  • cover with a warm and wet towel and let rise for 1,5 hours
  • preheat the oven to 180°C
  • divide dough in three, roll the parts between your hands an braid them
  • put on to a baking sheet and brush egg yolk on it
  • bake until golden-brown, about 30 minutes

slow-cooked omelet with feta, violet carrots and peppermint leaves

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ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 violet carrot
  • 1/4 feta cheese
  • 1 handful of peppermint leaves
  • olive oil

preparation:

  • preheat olive oil in a pan
  • with a potato peeler, peel off thin carrot stripes
  • mit eggs with milk, salt, and pepper
  • roast carrot stripes, then add egg-mix and turn down the heat to medium
  • add crumbled feta on top of the omelet, then put a lid on the pan and wait until egg thickens
  • top with peppermint and fresh carrot tripes and serve with bread and butter

homemade cinnamon granola (on berry-yoghurt with orange-flax-seed-oil)

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ingredients:

  • 500 g oatmeal
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 2 cups popped spelt
  • 1 cup pecan nuts
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup flax seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

yoghurt:

  • 2 cups frozen berries
  • 1 kg greek yoghurt
  • 4 tablespoons orange-flaxseed-oil (or any you like, I got mine at the health store and I love it!)

preparation:

  • preheat oven to 120°C
  • mix all ingredients and stir with your hands
  • spread mixture on 2 baking sheets
  • bake for about 40 minutes or until well-roasted and crunchy
  • for the berry-yoghurt

Now with these three recipes it is nearly impossible to fail any brunch-attempt. Also, they are easy to prepare ahead and allow you to be read for your guests and a cosy day in. Now I wish you an absolutely heartwarming winter-time with all your beloved ones. I myself am getting prepared for a trip to winter wonderland aka Québec next week. I hope to be back with lots of travel-and-food inspiration and chitchat for you guys! See you then!

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Lots of Love, xx Florence

cats, spinach and the golden leaves of Czechia

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My dear fellows, here I am again, already! I have taken the resolution to talk to you more often, so brace yourselves! I spent my last few days abroad and I came back tired, yet inspired (what an amazing rhyme to start off this blog post!). Today, you should thus be ready for: more autumn inspiration, vegan food and bewitching Czech Brno!

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After not having seen my lovely friend in three months (a horribly long time considering she almost lives on my sofa bed) I finally managed to visit her in that city that makes my tongue go crazy because I cannot role the R properly: Brno. And seriously? I am not sure I would ever have made it there had it not been for her. Shame on me (a geography student), I had not even heard of that city before it came out of her mouth and later made it right into her heart. Not a very good beginning to convince you all to go there, really. But you should. It is, for instance, perfect to visit when you’re based in larger cities like Vienna and Prague and want some quiet time off. And I will now give you three reasons to seriously consider it:

3 reasons to have a stop-over in Brno

#1: Less tourists, more fun. 

Brno is not quite a tourist city. And that is exactly hat makes it extremely appealing to me. As a friend put it: Brno does not have any particular attractions to plan your day around, but it’s the perfect city to live in. Especially in autumn (and summer, I was told) it is simply amazing but at the same time does not make you feel like you should be running from sight to sight all day. Just chill – in Brno!

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#2: The 13th century Špilberk Castle.

What a great afternoon walk through golden leaves, what nice cafés on your way up (those cakes!) and what a lovely view up there! I went there twice: by night and by day. Don’t leave without having done that.

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#3: The most amazing cafés (and, yes, their beer).

So, first of all, I really tried not to list beer as a reason. That is why brackets. But after two months in Iceland it is simply incredible to get the best beer and wine for about a twelfth of the price I paid there. But this should really only be viewed as a side note. For, hold your hat: There is a cat café! Now maybe you hate cats. Or this is nothing special for you. But I had never been to one before and it was, to be frank, a dream come true. Other people have bungee jumps on their bucket list, I had the cat café instead. There were at least six fluffy kittens running around. Need I say more? Also one of my favourite places is the ultimate hipster café in town: Skog. They serve great drinks and great salads. I think in czech terms it’s rather expensive. In my Swiss terms amazingly cheap.

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Back home, I felt absolutely inspired by that yummy salad I enjoyed there. Also, I could use some fresh and healthy food after all the beer (okay, I promise this is the last time I mention beer in this post. It’s kinda possessing my mind).

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However, I did not have a lot of time to go for the big grocery shopping thing. I hate doing that. I can’t drive the car and I am pretty bad with my bike. So basically that makes me walk back like an overweight pack donkey every single time. Maybe that is why I like spinach. It’s so light! Also, it makes a great salad-basis. Very patient and flexible, for today it is topped with easy and clever left-over recycling:

Baby spinach salad with risotto-patties, caramelized curry-onions and dates

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ingredients (2 people)

  • 4 handful baby spinach
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 cm ginger, grated
  • canola oil
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 tabelspoon agave syrup
  • risotto-leftovers (mine were from a mixture of rice, coconut milk, broth, ginger, curcuma and sweet potatoes)

preparation

  1. form small patties of the risotto-leftovers while preheating a pan with canola oil (be generous with it)
  2. fry the patties, then take out and roast the onions with curry powder and agave syrup
  3. top the baby spinach leaves with lemon juice and zest, canola oil, salt, pepper and grated ginger
  4. top with dates, onions and fried patties

Enjoy with flatbread and ginger tea (no beer for once, though!). And have a lovely weekend people!

x, Florence

northern memories, figs and autumn leaves

My dear friends, I am finally back alright – with a bag full of pretty memories and chitchat, my favourite autumn fruit (and a bunch of recipes circling around it), as well as with ultimate advice for the icy land on the 64th parallel.

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I have come home from Iceland three weeks ago already and, honestly, I thought it would be easy to get home. But it wasn’t, really. Basically, my first few days felt like an enormous sensory overload – so many houses, people, and noises. And after two months of counting seeds, cutting soil samples and collecting caterpillars while listening to the whimbrel’s ringing sound I now got my nose deep into linguistic books (time to bring my studies to an end – or, rather, graduation) and drink chai-tea while the trams rattle by.

One of the amazing things about being back – apart from seeing all the lovely people again – is cooking. I literally did not cook anything useful in eight weeks (the credit goes to the canteen on site, which absolutely made me wanna bathe in the classic Icelandic rúgbraud) ! But I did get a lot of fun food inspiration over there, although not everything is worth copying, to be sincere. From dried fish, fermented shark, liquorice-chocolate, flatbread to lamb-paste I tried pretty much everything edible and icelandic there was to try. My personal favourites (also including the food-related ones) are listed in todays special section “massive DOs in Iceland”, right after todays culinary chitchat and recipes.

With that said, let’s turn to my food star guest today: figs.

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During my last two weeks in Iceland, autumn was totally taking over, sending me back home in perfect mood for pumpkins, chestnuts, colourful leaves, spices, and, of course, figs. Let me tell you one thing: never buy figs in the stores, never! They are over-priced and often spoiled. Go take the time, grab your favourite people and do a little trip to a fresh food market nearby. It’s social, it’s fun, and, eventually, it’s also tasty.

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Having done so myself, I came back with fresh spinach, a bunch of organic carrots, flowers, sweet potatoes and Italian figs. I absolutely love their tender sweetness and variety when it comes to using them for cooking. Want proof? I have brought you three different recipes of how to use figs in your own little kitchen – in an incredibly quick and easy, healthy, surprising and tempting way. Let’s go!

#1 Spinach-Salad with figs, roasted nuts, broccoli, avocado, grilled halloumi and orange-mustard-curry dressing

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put together:

  • 4 broccoli florets, blanched
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 figs, sliced
  • 100 g halloumi cheese, roasted and finely sliced
  • 2 handful of young spinach
  • 1 handful of roasted walnuts and pumpkin seeds

blend:

  • 1 dl olive oil
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 0.5 dl vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • salt, pepper

#2 fig-carpaccio with caramelized walnuts, feta cheese, sesame oil and basil

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put together:

  • 6 figs, sliced
  • 1 feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • pepper
  • hashed basil

roast:

  • 1 handful crushed walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons agave syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

#3 vegan fig-caramel with almonds and cinnamon

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simmer, then blend:

  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 4 figs, sliced

You can have this nasty beauty on your toast, apple slices, as a cake topping, or just as it is – pure, sweet, perfection.

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But enough food-talk for today! As I did not really know where I would possibly start telling about my stay in Iceland I simply decided to go for a very straight forward version: The ultimate list of massive DOs in Iceland. And by “DO” I mean: really, really, really DO. I thought about including some DON’Ts, too. But then I figured that most of them are just things that you think you have to do when you are in Iceland for the first time, including me. So I guess you will do them anyways. As long as you make sure you have done the DOs, all is good:

The ultimate list of massive DOs in Iceland

#1: Go to Iceland in mid september, instead of June or July. I mean, it’s chilly there, anyways. So why not have included northern lights and amazing autumn landscapes (and a tiny, tiny, tiny little less tourists)? Especially nice in Skaftafell National Park, and around volcano Hekla (Do not go up there, though)!

#2: Buy wool and knit. It’s what me and my lovely companions did on rainy days: Sit in lovely cafés, chat, knit and feel very Icelandic (and have tourists take pictures of us).

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#3: get your holiday-reading right: pack Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir and, of course, Halldór Laxness.

#4: Go to Húsavík – it’s gorgeously cute. Actually, do go appreciate the whole north: Akureyri, Ásbergi, Myvatn. And pass the Westfjords on your way.

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#5: Participate in Réttir. It’s basically gathering all the sheep (they are everywhere!) and assigning them to their farmers. But it’s tough. Also, it is one of the most fun and Icelandic things I have done over there. Make sure you put on orange rain trousers and an Icelandic pullover. It’s THE dresscode.

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#6: Go collect wild thyme, crowberries and blueberries. At dawn.

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#7: Eat Lousiana Chicken Strips at Vegamót. Eat dessert at Grillmarkaðurinn.

#8: Check the aurora forecast. Rent a car. Drive some place where there are no artificial lights (not very hard to find in Iceland, really) and enjoy mother nature’s light show.

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#9: Buy: icelandic tomatoes, smoked haddock, blueberry skyr, flatbread with butter, rúgbraud.

#10: watch the sunset at the harbour of Stykkishólmur. On your way, stop for a hike at Eldborg, a volcanic caldera.

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#11: When in Snæfellsnes, look for Lýsuhóll hot spring and have a bath in hot fir green water. Or else consider these amazing suggestions (by one of my favourite icelandic bloggers): Drive it yourself for Snæfellsnes.

#12: Stay at least two weeks. At least. Believe me, you will need the time. You do not wanna be one of those people who try to drive around the whole island in one week.

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#13: Attend at least one concert. Even if it’s not your music style. I have randomly seen Páll Óskar and it was incredibly fun. Consider the event calendar and go to local events.

#14: Hike along Heimaey’s coastline up on Helgafell or Eldfell and enjoy the amazing view. Be prepared for wind. A hell lot of wind. And book your ferry ride there early!

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#15: Have a picnic in the warm black sand on one of the many amazing beaches of the south. But don’t try have a bath in the sea. It’s one of those things you only do once.

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#16: Make Icelandic friends. Let them show you the best places to eat out and drink. And go horse riding.

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#17: Stay flexible. Believe me, I am the very first to be stressed when I do not have things under control. So I had to learn to let all the amazing stuff I did not have in mind and did not expect happen.

With that incomplete list (I am open to any complements from your side) made of pure love for that quirky country, all that I have left to say for now is: enjoy your autumn, guys, stay curious and be open to all the amazing things life has to offer. I will do my best to be back soon, depending on how much my bachelor-exam readings are about to swallow and digest me.

Much love, Florence

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berries, coffee and the beautiful suðurland

Daginn from the beautiful Suðurland! I finally made it to Iceland. But do not fret, dear reader, there will be food around here, still! Do you remember those days when your Mom would pre-cook food for your dinner or lunch? Yes? That’s basically what I did, only virtually. Apart from that I do of course have some icy updates for you up my sleeve.

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Now, my first couple of days were, well, Icelandic. At. Its. Best. I spent my first day of work weighing caterpillars, counting seeds, painting my own coffee mug and keenly observing nearby volcano Hekla. Hilarious. You know, Icelanders are crazily particular about their coffee. There are about three or four different types of coffee I can get around here and whatever kind of working step you may have completed (be it driving the car or having a walk to another building), it will be rewared with a cup of coffee. So no surpise that everyone working here need their own coffee-mug. My second day was passed all outdoors and guess what: I got a sunburn, digging in the dirt from morning to evening (that might sound like a simplification of what I did but it’s not really).

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At night – daylight hours are still spoiling me and my dear colleagues here – we went out picking berries around the stunning area of Gunnarsholt, revived by the Soil Conservation Service. If you have time, go book a tour there and learn something about the area and big girl Hekla (about to erupt, they say – they have been saying that for a long time, though). Either way, I felt very hunters-gatherers. And seriously: that landscape with its wild thyme, crowberries, bilberry-bushes, limegrass, lupins (invasive plant, though) and the Eyjafjallajökull and all the other trouble-makers in the background is simply breathtaking!

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Talking of berry-picking brings me to your edible treatment today. Before I went, I prepared a neat little entrée (or afternoon-snack, or whatever-kind-of-daytime-treat) for you guys. Having picked the slightly sour and bitter crowberries yesterday, I thought it would probably taste even better with these, however, I used raspberries back then. Here you go:

goat cheese tartelettes with raspberries, onion, basil and balsamic

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INGREDIENTS (10 tartelettes)

  • 300 g spelt flour
  • 150 g butter, cold
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 150 g goat cheese
  • 1 handfull of raspberries
  • 1 onion
  • balsamic
  • 1 handful of basil
  • pepper

PREPARATION

  1. cut cold butter into small pieces, to salt and flour, then rub between your hands until everything’s evenly crumbly
  2. add the egg and merge to a smooth dough
  3. grease muffin tins and form little tartelettes out of the dough with the help of the tins, meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°
  4. bake the dough in the muffin tins until crunchy and golden-brown
  5. cut goat cheese and onion into thin slices
  6. Let the tartelettes cool down, then fill with goat cheese and onion-rings and top with basil, balsamic and raspberries
  7. Enjoy with fresh salad

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Hear from me soon! Bless bless!

summer in a jar

My friends! It’s getting hot out there!

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For the last couple of weeks I was kept busy with my very own naive attempt to reconcile my jobs, my bachelor thesis and several short holidays. Actually, it even worked, but only on the cost of my apartment, this blog and, oh well, my sporty activities. Above all that, there is one special thing particularly distracting my already pretty easily distracted mind: Iceland! In two weeks time I will be about 20 degrees of latitude farther north and I will return to my nicely warm climate zone in autumn only.

So what does this mean? Here’s a list:

  1. I will enjoy this heat as long as I can. Although I can’t stand heat.
  2. I will buy some warm pullovers. Midsummer in Iceland basically means cosy 14 degrees Celsius, just checked on that. Oh, and a good rain jacket, too. I’d better be ready.
  3. I will shower you with as many lovely recipes as possible, trying to preserve summer on this blog.

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So, having this clearified, let’s turn to my measures to preserve summer as well as possible:

SUMMER IN A JAR

I love jars. Especially when they are filled with something homemade. They make a lovely gift, look nice and don’t produce waste. Plus: They’re like an edible memory because they preserves foods so long. What a laudation on something as simple as jars! I might be suffering from a heat stroke. Anyways. I have three different and absolutely amazingly simple recipes for you, the product of which may or should be filled into jars. If it lives long enough. Probably it won’t. But if it does, make sure you fill it in hot. So have a look at these:

SMOKEY KETCHUP

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Homemade Ketchup is one of the easiest and best tings to do. i’d say it might even be legit to pour this one over spaghetti (just saying for all those sinners out there).

Let all those ingredients simmer for 40 minutes, then blend:

  • 1 tin peeled tomatoes
  • 4 tsp. balamic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tblsp. cane sugar
  • 1 tsp. chipotle seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. chile flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tblsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped

VEGAN MAPLE-ALMOND DULCE DE LECHE

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This one is pure sin. With a little bit of raw cacao powder it’s like vegan Nutella and you can add whatever spice you like or switch to any other kind of nut butter. I was inspired to this lovely sin by the awesome blog blissful basil. Enjoy with fruit, rusk or – like I do by spoonfuls – pure.

Let all the listed ingredients simmer with constant stirring until it get’s as thick and slightly sticky as caramel. Then fill into jars:

  • 2 cups almond butter
  • 2 cups maple syrup
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 tblsp. coconut oil
  • a pinch of cinnamon

BASIL-OIL WITH LEMON PEPPER

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This quick, flavoured oil makes a gorgeous companion for baguette, tomatoes, mozzarella, fish or veggies.

Blend all these ingredients in a cutter:

  • 1.5 dl olive oil
  • 2 handful of basil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 garlic clove
  • zest of 1/2 Lemon

That’s it for today, love. Enjoy summer and be ready for my new series “f(l)avourite places”. In the weeks to come I am gonna introduce you to my personal favourite spots all over the world. Of course, food will be involved, too. Looking forward to seeing you then, guys!

Honey, Honey, how you thrill me!

My friends! In a time where ABBA and honey, or both at the same time, seem most thrilling to me you might think things are not going really well. It’s something, however, and I am gonna endow you with some sweet guilty pleasures, too. Same rights for everyone.

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So, I planned on going to the Ticino (the Italian part of Switzerland) with my friend tomorrow and I hoped that I would be able to come back with a lot of charming insipration and a pinch of mediterraneo for you guys. Turns out you might need to get prepared for some soaking wet ideas: If you believe in the weather forecast (which is testing my trust a lot recently), then it will pour with rain next week. Well, all I can do now is hope that the weather forecast doesn’t decide to turn out to be right for once. Or that we get sudden inspiration where else to go. The place summer decided to go to a couple of weeks ago, for example. I don’t know where that is, though. Any hints are welcome!

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Anyways, back to more graspable stuff. More fun stuff. More reliable stuff. Food, basically.

I baked for the first time in like a thousand years yesterday. And well, looking at my casserole you can tell. Half of the guilty pleasure still sticks there and it’s quite persistent. But, insider’s tip from your kitchen-slob #1: you can save everything with a thick layer of sweet topping. Almost everything (not the casserole, though). So I saved what I could save and I was astonished to acknowledge that the result tasted more than okay. Also, it’s almost vegan (sometimes there just isn’t a substitute for honey). And pretty healthy. And there is a lot of coffee in there to keep you going. And chocoloate, honey and vanilla. So turn up ABBA, don’t get killed by the honey (seems to be likely, though, according to their song), and go prepare yourself some of these:

(almost) Vegan Honey-Mocca-Brownies with Cashewbutter-Topping

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ingredients (20):

  • 2 cups wholemeal spelt-flour
  • 2 cups ground cashews
  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 cup honey
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 2 vanilla beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter
  • 2 teaspoons coffee
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 20 pecan nuts

Preparation:

  1. mix flour, coffee, cocoa, cashews, cane sugar, baking soda and cinnamon
  2. preheat a pan with coconut milk, coconut oil, honey and inner of vanilla beans and let simmer for 2-3 minutes
  3. blend all ingredients and stir well
  4. grease a large baking mould (like, really well) and preheat the oven to 180°
  5. bake for about 30 minutes, meanwhile blend cashew butter with honey and coffee
  6. let the brownies cool down, then cut and top with cashew butter and one pecan nut
  7. ENJOY with more coffee (depending on your wakefulness)

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See you soon, my sweet honey bees!

Yours, Florence