Monday, 11 May 2009

A Wee Bit of Burrito

I've been admiring Wendy's blog A Wee Bit of Cooking (and her gorgeous dog, Marco, who features prominently) for some time now. It's already been nearly a year since she posted this recipe for Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos adapted from The Moosewood Low Fat Cookbook. It has been, therefore, nearly a year since I've been meaning to make them.

I finally got around to this today, partly because yesterday at the supermarket I found flour tortillas without a million additives in them (in fact, with no additives) and a ripe avocado. Just what I needed.

Apologies for the dark, blue-toned photo, but this is the result, served with fresh tomato salsa, homemade guacamole (recipe for that another day!) and a dollop of greek yoghurt.

These are relatively quick and very healthy. They use ingredients that keep well, which is good because if you want to make guacamole to accompany them, you will probably need to leave an avocado to ripen for a few days. Most importantly, the taste really good; from the comforting, smooth and spicy interior to the crispy toasted tortilla edges that beg to be dipped in yoghurt.

Thanks Wendy!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Monday, 9 February 2009

Another great reason to move to Switzerland...

Not only do they have the Alps, fantastic transportation and Zurich (the 4th most livable city in the world), but living in Switzerland means eating Swiss chocolate. And lots of it, apparently.

The NZZ (a newspaper that many people I know love, but I can't really read) reported today that despite the economic downturn/credit crunch/recession/depression/whatchamacallit, the Swiss "Schoko-Industrie" had its best year ever in 2008. This doesn't surprise me really, since chocolate is one of life's most fantastic affordable luxuries which people are less likely to give up when times get tough.

More astounding, I think, is the fact that the average Swiss resident eats 12.4 kg of chocolate a year (including imports). This works out to more than a kilogram of chocolate a month, which boils down to about 30 grams a day.

It seems that before I can live there I have some catching up to do. I think I can manage.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Keeping the peace in cottage country

It's been a while since I've posted anything here (and that's an understatement), but recently I read something so puzzling that I have to share it.

A summer scene on the banks of the Gull River, Minden

Some of you may know Minden, Ontario; famous for the surrounding cottage country, Dollo's IGA and the Rockcliffe Hotel/Tavern, it is a small town of which I am very fond.

It seems that there is some controversy surrounding the Chili Competition being held in Minden on February 15th as part of the town's 150th anniversary celebrations. This year (as opposed to previous years?) the cook-off will be "violence-free". Read this curious post from the Minden Sesquicentenial website (via Penny's Blog) to try to find out more. Let me know if you have any luck.

And remember - be careful with chili, it can really get the tempers flaring.

Monday, 1 September 2008


Did you know that the flowers of a fig are actually inside the fruit? And that a breadfruit is essentially an overgrown mulberry? Gorgeous close ups of seeds from the amazing Kew Gardens via the BBC. 

Sunday, 30 March 2008


I went to the new, gleaming Waitrose in Bloomsbury last week to get something for supper. I was, as I always am at Waitrose, impressed by the variety of the offerings: jerusalem artichokes, sharon fruit and cave-aged gruyere among them. But I stopped when I got to the packaged fresh fish. I am a regular buyer of fresh fish at Waitrose, but this visit I found the selection less than inspiring. I think I've been spoiled for life.

You see, I spent a couple of weeks in Barbados last month. Apart from being rich in oil and fertile land, Barbados is surrounded by the sea, and therefore lots of fresh fish. Barracuda, Yellow Fin Tuna, Dolphin (aka Mahi Mahi) and Flying Fish are amongst the regular catches that come into the fish markets in Bridgetown and Oistins.

A fishing boat off the pier at Oistins

Barracuda (top) and Dolphin (bottom)

It is Oistins that has ruined my enjoyment of Waitrose. Are there seaturtles swimming off the pier at Waitrose? Mmm, no piers at Waitrose. Are there local farmers who set up shop in the parking lot selling their tomatoes, cucumbers and ground provisions (vegetables from the ground such as yams and potatoes) at Waitrose? Negative. Is there fresh fish, caught that day, being filleted before your eyes? Most definitely not.

A turtle looking for some lunch being thrown overboard

Stacked, filleted flying fish

My absolute favourite way to prepare the local favourite, flying fish, is fried with Bajan seasoning in a salt bread cutter. However, this south-Indian inspired curry is a popular dinner in our house and has been evolving over many trips to Barbados, each year getting better than the last (except the year that I bought sweetened coconut milk aka pina colada mix by accident and didn't realise until I thought hmm, this is terribly sweet...). Up to the addition of the fish, the curry can be made in advance - you just have to reheat the sauce and add the fish about ten minutes before serving.

Flying Fish Coconut Curry

serves 6

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 yellow onions, chopped
small knob ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a slither of scotch bonnet flesh or a whole red chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon turmeric
ground provisions, cut into equal pieces
2 tins coconut milk
1 tablespoon tamarind paste or chutney
1 cup fish stock, vegetable stock or water
18 filleted flying fish, rolled up with flesh facing outwards (any white-fleshed fish will do, but cooking times will vary with the thickness of the fish
scallions, green onions or salad onions

In a deep, wide frying pan that will eventually hold the whole curry, heat the oil and add the onions with a pinch of salt. Saute over a medium heat, but don't let them brown. When they are beginning to soften add the garlic, ginger and chilli and continue to stir until the onions are transparent and the garlic has softened and begin to turn golden. Add dry spices and fry until they release a strong aroma.

Add the ground provisions and stir them to coat them with the spices. After a few minutes add the coconut milk and stock to the pan, season lightly with salt and pepper and bring the temperature back up to medium. When the liquid is beginning to bubble, turn it down to low to simmer for about 20 minutes or until the ground provisions are easily pierced with a fork. Up to this point the curry can be made in advance. If you are not using it immediately let it cool to room temperature (and if you are using it the next day you should refrigerate it overnight.)

Just about ten minutes before you are ready to serve the curry you should be ready to add the fish. This means bringing the sauce to a slow, slightly bubbly simmer, which should only take a couple of minutes if you have just made the sauce, but allow time for this if it has been refrigerated. You may need to remove the ground provisions from the sauce to fit all the fish into the pot - use your judgement. Nestle the rolled fillets into the sauce, trying to keep them rolled as much as possible, and spooning sauce over them as you go. By the time you've put them all in the first one should be ready to be gently turned over.

Cooking time depends on the amount of fish you have, the tightness of the pot and many other factors. I would always vere on the side of under rather than overcooked, because the fish will continue to cook on it's way to, and at, the table. But if you take a piece out it should look opaque on the outside, flake apart when pushed and be ever-so-slightly less opaque in the centre, but not translucent.

Add the ground provisions back to the pot. Serve over basmati rice garnished with chopped green onions, coriander and a wedge of lime.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Call me pedantic

Jonathan Church, media director for Tesco, seems to have become a little jumbled while defending the new £1.99 price of whole chickens in this BBC News article.

"We have been working hard for a while to increase the amount of higher-welfare chicken we sell." He says. But he also says that customers can be assured the chickens (and the article implies he is referring to the £1.99 birds) have been "raised in the highest welfare environment."

Really? So explain to me how are there higher-welfare chickens? Maybe it's just me, but I didn't think that higher than highest was possible.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

This is not a disposable chopstick

I'm all for re-usable shopping bags. Actually, I've been trying to work out if it's bad to get a plastic bag or two every week to re-use as garbage bags, because I've run out and don't see the point in buying bags for that purpose (any ideas welcome). I'm getting off topic though. The point is that though I am into reducing my waste, I must admit that I was a little skeptical when I started reading David Lebovitz's post about starting to carry your own re-usable chopsticks. Do itsy-bitsy chopsticks really have that big of an impact on the environment? Well, yes, it turns out. I've started doing some reading here and here and now I'm convinced. Henceforth I will carry my own reusable chopsticks.

It's not like they're going to break your back, is it?

Sunday, 27 January 2008

A lucky experiment

Yesterday we popped into our favourite cheese shop, Neal's Yard Dairy, to buy some cheese for brunch today. The guy behind the counter asked what it was for, so I told him I wanted to make an experimental cheese bread pudding. A look of disgust flashed across his face so I quickly explained - my idea was for a cross between a cheese souffle and a savoury bread pudding. A springy macaroni and cheese, but with bread instead of macaroni. His face brightened a little, and he helped us find a fantastic cheese (Montgomery's Cheddar), but I don't think he was convinced.

Well I wish he had been there this morning to try some. The dish was light and fluffy but had substance enough to take the place of the scrambled eggs in our brunch spread. The rich, creamy flavour and slight bite of the cheddar didn't overwhelm the eggs in the custard. The chives gave it a little bit of freshness - but not too much. No need to get complicated here.

We had this with some grilled bacon, roasted tomatoes and new potatoes baked with spring onions, garlic, olive oil and salt. Oh, and some blood orange mimosas...

Montgomery's Bread Pudding
serves 4

2 eggs and 2 egg yolks, beaten
400 mL whole milk
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
4 cups bread cubes, crust removed (preferable white sourdough, but anything quite plain will do)
2 eggs whites
1 1/2 cups grated Montgomery's Cheddar (or other creamy, melting cheese, although nothing blue)

Preheat the oven to 200 C (400 F). Boil a kettle full of water. Butter a small baking dish with a 1 litre capacity and find another dish in which it will sit to make a water bath. The water should be able to come at least half way up the side of the baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat the milk into the eggs and yolks. Season with pepper and add the chives and bread crumbs, stirring to ensure all are coated and soaked through. Stir in 1 cup of the grated cheese.

In another large bowl beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Fold gently into the egg and bread mixture until just combined. Season lightly with salt and then empty the mixture into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup grated cheese on the top.

Place the smaller dish inside the larger one and fill the larger dish with the boiled water to make the water bath. Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes or until it is spring and firmy to the touch and a peek into the middle shows a moist but not liquid centre.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

The Farm(er,) Bill

Bill Gates has pledged $306 million to supporting small-scale local farming in developing countries, mostly in Africa. By the end of 2008 the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation plans to invest $900 million in agriculture worldwide reports The World Bank. Check out the foundations's website here.

A sunny day...

...calls for a sunny breakfast.

Freshly-squeezed orange juice

Banana and cranberry muffins (recipe below)


Baguette, butter and jam

Banana and Dried Cranberry Muffins
(adapted from

Makes 10-12 muffins (depending on the size you want).
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup golden caster sugar
  • 1 free-range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
Topping (optional)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease the muffin tin or line it with reusable silicone muffin cases (on my wishlist!).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add the dried cranberries. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until just moistened - it's ok to have a few little clumps of flour mixture left. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. For the topping, mix together the brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon in a small bowl. Rub in 1 tablespoon butter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal/crumble topping. Sprinkle topping over muffins - you may not have to use all of it.
  4. Bake in a preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes in the muffin tin then remove to a wire rack.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

In Search Of

In most cases I hope to provide people who visit nylon diner with stimulating content that entertains and perhaps educates. I love to check up on how people find nylon diner (through links, seach engines, etc) and what interests bring them here. Here are some recent searches that led people to my little blog, in order of frequency:

five second rule
chocolate stress
3 little pig puns
bavarian saloon
bircher muesli recipe milk raspberries honey overnight
chubby danish women in nylon

I don't think the last visitor found quite was he was looking for. I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Last Day of Christmas

Ok, I know, it's already gone by but I'm stretching the last day of Christmas to the 6th because today is Epiphany and I haven't made or even eaten any Galette des Rois to share with you. I am consoling myself by sharing my gingerbread house instead, and I feel that requires it still to be the Christmas season, so I declare today the 13th and final day of Christmas.

I made this house a few weeks before Christmas with some friends. We used an Epicurious method which appears slightly involved, but the gingerbread itself was fantastic and we followed our own method with building the house (see the dough and icing recipes below). It was really fun playing at being an architect, wax paper blueprints and all. Next year I am definitely building the mid-century bungalow that I was dreaming of this year.

This year's house itself has been destroyed (by a pair of sugar-high six-year-olds), but the photos remain...

Gingerbread and Royal Icing
(adapted from Bon Appetit, 2000 via

6 3/4 cups all purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups solid vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup robust (dark) molasses

Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cardamom into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat shortening in large bowl until fluffy. Add sugar and beat to blend. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Add molasses and beat on high speed until well blended. Add dry ingredients in 4 additions, beating at low speed until dough forms. Chill dough for at least one hour.

4 large egg whites
7 to 7 1/2 cups powdered white sugar

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until very foamy, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Beat until well blended. Add remaining cups sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating until well blended after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl occasionally.

Beat icing at high speed until very thick and stiff, about 5 minutes.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Patricia and Carolyn, the lovely ladies at PS and MiragePaperCo's Designer Blog respectively, have tagged me! I had never been tagged before yesterday, and then I had the pleasure twice in one day!

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 random and/or weird things about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
4. Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

7 Random (Food-Related) Things About Myself:
1. I don't like raisins. I have learnt to tolerate them thanks to Jeffrey Steingarten's The Man Who Ate Everything, but they're not my first choice - I even pick them out of muesli one by one.
2. The first thing I learned to make was fried plantains, a West Indian favourite. I close second was good ol' KD - Kraft Dinner. Mmmm mm good.
3. I consider maple syrup to be extremely healthy. Extremely.
4. I am doomed to fail as a locavore because I eat a banana almost every day. They're the ultimate portable snack and they cannot be replaced. I guess I could move to the tropics...
5. I am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen. I am trying to get better.
6. The cookbook that really ignited my (previously smouldering) interest in food is Nigel Slater's Appetite. If you don't have it - buy it.
7. I am always thinking at least one meal ahead.

7 Random Blogs I Am Tagging:
A Wee Bit of Cooking
Smitten Kitchen
Our Patisserie endless banquet
The Traveler's Lunchbox

Friday, 7 December 2007

Mo' money mo' problems

The Economist tackles the causes of the rise in food prices here:

"Increasing wealth in China and India... is stoking demand for meat in those countries, in turn boosting the demand for cereals to feed to animals. The use of grains for bread, tortillas and chapattis is linked to the growth of the world's population. It has been flat for decades, reflecting the slowing of population growth. But demand for meat is tied to economic growth and global GDP is now in its fifth successive year of expansion at a rate of 4%-plus."

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Nose to Tail Eating

I'm always impressed by friends who go to St. John for the first time and order the bone marrow. My dad always said when I was little (and still says, actually), "If you go to a hamburger joint, order a hamburger." Well if you could characterise St. John by one dish it would be the roasted bone marrow on toast with parsley salad, and that's the thing to order there. It's always on the menu and in the past 13 years it has become a classic (or rather, it's been rediscovered as a classic among the London restaurant crowd.)

Bone marrow and offal in general have had some tricky years this century. Mad Cow Disease didn't help (and we shouldn't forget that beef bones were banned in the UK for some time), but I suppose it all started after the war, when people started to be able to afford to eat more meat. They stopped buying and enjoying cheaper cuts and innards which subsequently fell out of vogue, as did British cooking in general, especially in the restaurant scene. Fergus Henderson of St. John is largely credited (and I believe rightly so) with the renewed respect for British cooking, and for offal in particular.

I'm still not a real convert, so I'm not going to pretend that every time I go to St. John I have the bone marrow, or liver or tripe or any such thing. Most often I have equally delicious but less "adventurous" options. It actually took me a year of almost weekly visits to try the bone marrow, but I advise you to do as I say, not as I do. The jelly-ish interior of the veal bones has a deeply savoury flavour perfectly complemented in taste and texture by the crispy toast and fresh parsley salad. If you can't get yourself to Smithfield (or St. John Bread and Wine in Spitalfields) then check out the recipe - brought to you by one minimalist from another.

Monday, 19 November 2007


Æbleskiver (n., pl.)- Doesn't this word sound like something you might call a truant child, skiving off of school? Well it's not. Æbleskiver are spherical Danish pancakes. In English the word is most often written ebleskiver or aebleskiver according to my (mostly) trusty source Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Baking With Sourdough Starters

I came across these on Baking With Sourdough Starters via Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen. I just love discovering traditional foods, particularly baked goods, that I have never heard of before, and that fact that these fit so well into the brunch category couldn't suit me more. Just yesterday I whipped up a batch of buttermilk pancakes which were a little too fluffy for my liking. These aebleskiver look just right for me; the way you turn them gradually to make them into a sphere (with a convenient hole in the middle) is so charming. I'm thinking that a traditional prune jam filling would be quite nice... or maybe some custard? Or both...

I'm off to search for an aebleskiver pan online.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Fungi, fungi, fungi

We drove out to Berkshire a couple of weeks ago for a mushroom-foraging folly. I had always wanted to eat mushrooms I had picked myself and I daydreamed of lightly browned, soft fungi dripping garlicky butter into a dark piece of toast.

I still dream about it, because despite all of the mushrooms we saw that day we didn't eat any and only picked a couple to examine them. I could not, and still cannot tell you what they are. What I did discover that day is that my fear of death (or at least severe illness) wins out over my greatest gastronomic desires.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007


I love these chocolate spiders (by Not Martha on the Design*Sponge guest blog). Who knew Pocky were so versatile? I was thinking here in the United Kingdom we could substitute Cadbury's chocolate fingers. I bet some black licorice strings would work well too, although they aren't always a hit with the young folks.

The top spider is my favourite as he (or let's call it a "she", since in my mind she is a Black Widow) is so creepy because of the real resemblance to so many spiders I have met in the past, particularly big ones.

Not that any of us need suggestions of more sweets to eat tomorrow.

Happy Hallowe'en!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

It Goes Against The Grain

Remember the pigs who were eating junk food because the price of corn had been driven up by demand for corn to produce US-subsidized ethanol? Is the biofuel worth it? I'm all for (well-considered) alternative sources of energy, but the chain reaction that these subsidies have sparked just keeps going.

It turns out that other crops are being turned into biofuels too, notably wheat, which is an integral (and in some forms highly nutritious) part of many diets. Durum wheat in particular is used to make Italian pasta. Now the BBC reports that the Industrial Union of Pasta Makers will be investigated for price fixing after they warned prices would rise this autumn by 20%, which they attribute solely to the rising cost of durum wheat. Irrespective of whether this price fixing is going on, it is true that the price of durum wheat has increased even more than other varieties and continues to break record prices. This is partly due to environmental factors such as poor growing conditions this year, but also to increased demand for wheat for biofuel production and to the fact that land once occupied by wheat is being switched to corn fields for more biofuel.

Not that corn is always good thing for the food supply, which is what I gather Aaron Woolf and Curt Ellis have concluded in their film "King Corn" reviewed recently by The New York Times. Corn is used as feed for animals, the majority of whom live in squalid conditions with little quality of life, as well as to produce corn syrup and corn oil, neither of which are particularly good for us.

Though corn and wheat (well, primarily their highly processed derivatives) are maligned for health reasons in industrialized countries, they are still a primary source of sustenance for many of the world's poorest people. It is true that reducing emissions is very important, but must it impact so directly on the quality and cost of food? According to the International Herald Tribune the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler, agrees with me. He says there should be a five-year moratorium on the production of biofuel due to its effect on world hunger. Hear hear.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Darling buds

Have you ever cooked with flowers? I can't say I've ever cooked with them, but I have used them as a garnish and as a decoration. Most recently I used an assortment of flowers containing lots of pansies to top my Easter cheesecake.

In this Observer Word of Mouth post Paul Levy discusses his adventures with floral ingredients in relation to a new book by Frances Bissell called "The Scented Kitchen: Cooking with Flowers". It's the first time I've heard of it, but I must admit he has made me very curious about nasturtium mayonnaise.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


The rather fortunate fallout from our recent Swiss adventure is my renewed obsession with birchermuesli. Served by Dr Maximillian Bircher Benner at his Zurich sanatorium around the turn of the 20th century, it has maintained its healthy reputation (although the original required condensed milk for hygiene reasons) as it has gained popularity. It's as common as gipfeli (Swiss croissants) for breakfast in the alps.
Don't be mistaken - this is no ordinary muesli. Made well, birchermuesli has none of the stale, sawdust quality that some mueslis have. Although derived from birchermuesli, store-bought Alpen can't compete - partially because the real thing is not a dry cereal at all, but rather a rich, creamy chilled mixture of soaked oats, fresh fruit and dairy products. There are many acceptable permutations of the ingredients, but so far my homemade one involves the following: apples, oats, yoghurt and raspberries. I would hazard a guess that my favourite Swiss version included some whipped cream, maybe even the original condensed milk, but I'm trying to keep to the healthy roots.

The apple is grated, which gives the dish some sweetness from the juice and texture from the shreds of apple. Traditionally the texture would be even more important since the oats would be soaked overnight, but I don't usually have the time to plan that far in advance and I quite like the extra bite.

Much like porridge, birchermuesli isn't always the most appealing looking dish when it's served, but it can easily be jazzed up with some fresh fruit. I've seen kiwi and physillis adorning a bowlful in the most remote of mountain villages in Switzerland so I can assure you this is more than acceptable - as is eating this as an early evening meal.

(makes enough for 2)

1 firm apple
1 cup nutty muesli or 3/4 cup rolled oats and 1/4 cup toasted nuts
approx. 1 cup yoghurt
handful of raspberries
fruit to garnish

Grate the apple, preferably in a food processor. Add muesli/oats, yoghurt and all but a few raspberries and combine until the yoghurt has soaked through and the raspberries have stained the whole mixture a rich pink. Serve and garnish with the remaining raspberries and/or any other fruit.

Eat immediately or chill for up to a few hours.

More possibilities:
- Soak the muesli/oats overnight in water, milk or fruit juice.
- Use a combination or yoghurt, greek yoghurt, creme fraiche and/or whipped cream
- Stir in sliced banana, blueberries, halved grapes or virtually any other fruit according to season
- Add extra toasted nuts or dried fruits just before serving

Addendum: This is my entry for Kochtopf's apple day event in honour of apple season. According to Kochtopf, apples are the most popular fruit in Switzerland, and I can believe it with so many great recipes to use them in, including the Zürcher Pfarrhaustorte that she blogged about for the event.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Deutschland und die Schweiz

Our recent trip to Germany and Switzerland was a welcome chance to re-visit the cuisine of a land often over-looked as being all sausage and fondue, no substance.

The real local market (affordable, shopable, friendly and without 29 different varieties of aged balsamic vinegar or hemp lavender pillows) lives on in Germany. We visited Kaiserslautern's "markt" on a particularly bountiful day in late August. The vendors are professionals who travel from market to market, a different town each day of the week, but who source the majority of their produce, cheese and meat from local growers and makers. The food is fantastic and lacks only pretension.

"Ringing fields cheese" - fresh cheese with wild garlic (aka ramps)

Blackberries from Donnersberg, a local village

Appropriately knobbly celeriac from the region, with greens

Peachy dahlias

"Own produce"

Just when I thought I was getting to know German cuisine I was caught by surprise by the most gorgeous, pillowy mound of yeasted dough with a crisp, buttery underbelly; The dampfnudel. They are panfried and steamed at the same time, much like potstickers. They were being served with vanilla custard, which I should have tried...

Recently I've started to warm to aspic, and that's something I never thought I would say. I love the refined sensibility of these open-faced sandwiches from Confiserie Sprungli in Zurich. The Swiss Fortnum and Mason's trademark is the Luxemburgerli, a puffy, lighter version of the French Macaron. Though I am still dedicated to Laduree's gorgeous sandwiched meringues, Luxemburgli are just as gorgeous and are delicious too.

We were very unlucky to come upon the food emporium H. Schwarzenbach (Munstergasse 19) on a Sunday afternoon when they were most definitely closed. Considering we had just come from Sprungli, that was probably a good thing since we didn't need to eat anything more, but it's definitely on my to do list for my next visit to Zurich. I wouldn't mind having a peek in the flats above either, with such fabulous doorbells they must be beautiful.