Posts Tagged ‘bread’

Deutsche Torte in Edinburgh

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

My trip to Edinburgh reminded me of how much I miss good food. While Manchester’s food options are slowly improving, it was so nice to be back in a city with small, independent cafés and bars and little pockets of suburban shops and restaurants. Edinburgh city centre is easily walkable with residential areas close by. I was staying in an apartment that was a ten minute walk from The Mile and the main action of the Edinburgh festival. It was also a five minute walk from streets lined with cute cafés and one-off shops and on my final morning, Les and I went for morning coffee at one of the local hang outs.

German heaven.

German heaven.

Falko is a German bakery and café that sells a jaw-droppingly joyful array of German bread, cakes and meals. It was rye central. As we walked in we received a very German welcome – our lack of decision making skills as we stared drooling over the cakes meant we were holding up the woman in charge. She was to the point, frowned a lot and wanted to run her business. We were disrupting that. It was wonderful – I felt like I was back in Germany being an annoying non-german-speaking tourist.

When we had finally chosen our cakes and ordered hot chocolates each, we sat outside (another faux pas as no one else was sitting out there and that meant additional work for Frau) and awaited our delights. When she delivered our cakes and drinks and we complimented her on the quality of her products, she decided we weren’t that bad and we even received a smile. Win!

I want.

I want.

Let me start with my apple torte – huge, juicy chunks of apple embedded in a not-too-sweet custard filling and perfectly baked pastry. I was instantly transported back to 2007 when I used to eat this every sort of thing every day. No wonder I got fat that year. Coupled with a glass of hot chocolate that was made from actual chocolate. Yes, you’ve heard of the stuff. Dark-brown and kind of sweet. Frau was proud of her hot chocolate and its real-chocolate content and so she should have been. It still wasn’t quite rich enough for me but it was three-hundred-million times better than any hot chocolate I have consumed in Manchester in the last year.

There's real chocolate in that glass.

There’s real chocolate in that glass.

It was one of those eating experiences that reminds me how much I love food and how I could happily spend the rest of my life surrounding myself in apple torte. In 10 days it is my birthday and I am concerned that I won’t be able to find a birthday cake to live up to my high standards. I might need to make my own to avoid the crushing disappointment of excess icing and tasteless sponge. In the meanwhile, my Falko apple torte sits fondly in my memory bank. Happy cake times.

It’s Official – I Don’t Like Hotdogs.

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Over the past year or so, Manchester has been hit by a Hotdog Frenzy with multiple sausage venues popping up around the city. Hotdogs are the new burger with even more overly processed bun and ‘what is this meat?’ for your buck. I have never been a huge hotdog fan, unless it is a good old aussie snagger unevenly charred on a barbecue, served with a good dollop of tomato sauce. At least you know what you’re getting with a butcher’s sausage – a lot of fat and a bit of beef. With these new-fangle sausages, you need to sharpen your teeth to get through the red outer skin and then sit and chew for awhile so that your stomach has some chance of eventually digesting it.

Last week I was invited to another Yelp Elite event at The Fruit Exchange where we were served fruit juices spiked with rum and Caribbean flavoured hot dogs from Dogs ‘n’ Dough. The alcoholic juice was just win win win, but as I opened the box containing my hot dog, I just had no desire to eat it. This isn’t anything against Dogs ‘n’ Dough – some of my fellow Yelpers were hoeing into their sausages with gusto and delight. It was purely my disinterest in boiled frankfurters and sweetened bread that turned me off. But I wanted to give this craze a chance and so I ate my hot dog. I chewed on that sausage and washed the gluggy bread down with rummy juice. And I will admit to giving some of the excessively sweetened pineapple away to Hannah, who had announced she likes ‘sweet with meat.’ But as I shoved the last mouthful into my gob, my gut wished I had listened to it saying, “No, Jess. You don’t want to eat that.”

This is a hot dog.

This is a hot dog.

It just wasn’t enjoyable. Chewy sausage skin, unrecognisable meat, doughy sweet ‘bread’, and toppings that didn’t really add much to the eating experience. It did have barbecued chicken on top which was probably the best part of the whole dish. At least I could eat the chicken and say, “Ah! I’m eating chicken!” Every other part of the hot dog had an element of mystery to it.

So I have decided to never eat a hot dog ever again. Sorry, hot dog restauranteurs – don’t take it too personally. Your wares are just not my thing.

Bread Winner

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

On Saturday afternoon I took the train through the glorious hills of the Peak District to Sheffield to see Brother Ben. I don’t think I will tire of this train ride – an hour of rolling hills, small English towns, sheep (so many lambs at the moment) and beautiful trees. On Saturday the sun was sort of shining so the sky was blue with big puffy white clouds. Quite spectacular.

So pretty in the Peaks.

So pretty in the Peaks.

On the Sunday I helped the Forge Bakehouse team sell bread at the Sheffield Antiques fair. Ben and I set up the stall with the wonderful help of Martha’s mum and her bread mobile (or Range Rover) and then two hours later started packing up. The bread disappeared in a flash as people stood umming and ahhing about which bread to choose, eventually deciding to take multiple loaves after I suggested slicing them up and popping them in the freezer for future convenience.

Mmm... bread.

Mmm… bread.

It was a fun weekend involving plenty of food and Ben falling asleep on couches after having two very early morning starts. The only down point was that I somehow missed my train back to Manchester by 30 seconds, meaning I had to buy another very expensive ticket to get home. Not happy, but as I am currently reading my horoscope on a daily basis for my 108in108 challenge, I discovered that it wasn’t my fault – it was the stars. Or the moon or whatever. The energies. Apparently that weekend was a BAD weekend to travel for business and I would experience hold ups and inconveniences. So there we go. It wasn’t just because I lost track of time and left home too late. Damn you, moon!

Good Old Country Feeling

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

My recent trip to Greenbushes included a stop in Balingup for a spot of lunch. My parents usually go to a French bakery, however they decided we would try the Balingup Bronze Cafe for a change of scenery – plus some unexpected cool weather meant we wanted to be able to sit inside.

A casual cafe, we were greeted by a very friendly and relaxed guy who instantly reminded me that I was no longer in Paris and that people working in hospitality can, in fact, smile. How strange. We ordered our food at the counter and then took our own water and cutlery and found a table. The restaurant lacked any nice external views and we were stuck sitting in an echoey room that wasn’t particularly relaxing.

The food made up for the lack of ambiance – home made and generous portions, it was simple yet tasty. The main feature of this cafe is that all food is gluten free, which was both a good and a bad thing for the quality of the food. The food was tasty, full of vegetables and the flavours were well developed, however the need for the food to be gluten free caused a few problems. I had a vegie burger which was a patty filled with chick peas, coriander and peanuts. While the flavour was good, it was crumbly and the texture wasn’t very enjoyable – a few too many lumps and it was floury from the crushed chickpeas. The patty was served on top of what was described as ‘toast’. Now I have had many gluten free breads – some good, some bad – and this was definitely a bad. It fell apart and had no flavour apart from a strange stale sensation. Considering the restaurant promotes itself as gluten free, you would think they would offer a good bread option.

Balingup vegie burger

Hearty food

Otherwise the food was great, with some fantastic potatoes and a decent salad. It was well priced and served by a guy who clearly loves the food he serves.
Balingup Bronze Cafe on Urbanspoon

Baguette Club

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Being accepted into a foreign society is hard and Parisians are tough nuts to crack. You are never dressed correctly, you have a strange accent, you drink coffee while eating food, or you nibble on bread before your meal has arrived. All of these things make you stand out as a weird outsider who doesn’t understand the culture and never, ever will.

However, every now and then, the sun comes out from behind a cloud and somewhere you can hear the sound of angels singing as a miracle of all miracles occurs – you feel SLIGHTLY accepted. Yesterday I heard angels.

Every lunch time, we purchase a baguette from our favourite boulangerie around the corner. There are so many boulangeries nearby for us to choose from, but we have narrowed it down to this boulangerie for our baguettes. The baker and his wife (I presume it is his wife) are both fairly grumpy people – they never really smile and they are very ordered and forceful in their approach to serving customers. However, I have great respect for this as often the boulangerie is full of people buying sandwiches and cakes and they take forever to make up their minds. So when people arrive wanting to just buy a baguette, they are told (ordered) to go to the front of the line and then quickly served and sent on their way. Love it.

When we first started going to this boulangerie, I always felt like I had done something wrong as the lady was very brisk and would shove the baguette in our face and turn to the next customer. Recently, however, things have changed as every now and then we get a half smile and she welcomes us with a bit more enthusiasm. Yesterday was the ultimate – as we walked into the boulangerie, she saw us, turned and grabbed un tradition (the baguette) from behind her, put it into a bag as she said “Bonjour Monsieurdame!” and by the time I had reached the till she had prepared our baguette and was awaiting payment. She knew what we wanted, was happy to see us and wished us well for the day. Tom and I left the boulangerie with smiles on our faces as we knew we had made it in the boulangerie. This is a momentous occasion! Your local baker is the person you want to have on your side at all times. If they like you they will give you the good baguette, the tart with more strawberries on top or the pain au chocolat with the crispiest pastry. Loyalty pays. And it only took us 8 months to feel truly welcome. We are on our way to becoming true Parisians.

Baguette

It's worth 8 months of grumpiness

No Gnashing at Nanashi

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

A few months ago, Tom and I walked past a cafe that caught my eye and stuck in my brain as a “What is this cafe and should I go there?” kind of place. Completely coincidentally, a few days later I was reading a restaurant review on a Paris blog and realised that they were discussing the place we had walked past and its sister cafe in the Marais. The reviews were good. My mind was set – I would try it one day.

Yesterday was that day, as Tom and I met up with our friend Pip for our regular lunch and shopping outing. Nanashi is an organic Japanese fusion restaurant, describing itself as “Le Bento Parisien”. It is definitely a mix of French and Japanese food using the best of both cuisines and focuses on using wholesome, organic ingredients. I have sampled food from other Japanese  restaurants in Paris and all I will say is that it isn’t Japanese. There were cheese sticks involved and you can only buy meat-on-a-stick or sushi. The French are missing out.

Nanashi restaurant

I love restaurants with chalk board menus

The restaurant is modern and simple and the French aspect of the restaurant is easily seen in the grumpy waitstaff taking your orders (when they feel like it.) The menu is limited and you have a choice of three bento boxes – vegetarian, meat or fish. Tom and I both chose the fish bento (a salmon cake) and Pip took the meat (veal.) The first good sign was the delicious sourdough bread they gave us, upholding the necessities of free bread in a French restaurant. Sometimes it is a relief to not be served baguette.

Nanashi bread

Good bread

Our bento boxes arrived and they were amazing – my salmon cake was full of fresh salmon, potatoes and spices and then coated in a crunchy crust. The bentos came with a delicious quinoa and lentil mix, as well as three different types of salad. It was a meal that made you feel alive and full of goodness. I know some people will look at this and think it is toffee-nosed food for health-freaks but it was absolutely scrumptious and filling.

Nanashi Bento

My salmon bento

I had read about the desserts at Nanashi and wanted to try them so was relieved when my fellow lunchers wanted dessert as well. We each chose something different – Pip had a carrot cake, Tom chose the chocolate and ginger fondant, while I took a risk and chose the matcha (green tea) cheesecake. I am so glad I did.

Nanashi cake

Blurry photo but amazing cake

It was soft and rich and the bitterness of the green tea wasn’t overpowering but softened the sweetness of the cake. I don’t normally choose cheesecake as I find them too excessive but I am currently drooling and dreaming about the day I can go back and eat some more. With regularly changing menus I will definitely be revisiting this restaurant. Plus I have to go and try the original Nanashi which is only a few streets away from my apartment!

Living Your Paris Dream Challenge

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I have received a few requests for Parisian dreams lived vicariously through me which is very pleasing! Please keep them coming. The more specific they are the better. Pretend I have no creative thought and need to be told exactly what to do. It’s your dream, not mine! I can’t read your mind.

So, Tom’s mum has given me a broad, though butt-kicking, challenge to do one fun thing everyday just because it is fun. No thought processes allowed. For those of you who really know me, you would be aware of my tendency to over-think things and to weigh-up pros and cons, consider what other people would think, etc etc. No more – now I am to be free and easy and jumping at any opportunity that entices me. Sounds like a plan.

So today was day one of “Jess’s Fun Times in Paris” and what fun was had! MY GOSH. I woke this morning to the delightful sound of falling rain. I thought at first it was Tom’s computer having a heart attack, but I went downstairs to investigate whether or not I had to go for a run (my morning ritual involves my alarm going off at 7.15am so that I can get up and prepare my calorie count for potential french pastries) and discovered it was raining quite hard. No run possible with that water creating slippery French pavements! That was fun thing number one: sleeping in.

Then, after breakfast, I wrote on my blog before Tom suggested a run. Dang. But I managed to run a decent length at a good speed and it started to sprinkle which added that element of “I’m running in the rain next to a canal in Paris!”

By this stage it was lunch time so a fresh baguette with cheese, rocket, tomato and nutella (not necessarily all together) was consumed and greatly enjoyed before Tom and I hoped on our Velib bikes and headed to the movie cinema to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 4. Ahhh… Johnny. How can a girl not have a good day when Johnny Depp is part of it? Yes, I am one of those girls but I also went to watch the movie because I think the Pirates series is particularly good. I found this episode to be quite well done with a good plot but a terrible casting with what’s-her-name-who-can’t-act-but-can-pout. I’m not sure how Penelope Cruz has reached the stardom that she has. Sure, she’s hot, but surely you need some sort of skill? She’s good when she’s speaking Spanish because then I can’t understand her. Good to see Geoffrey Rush again and the religious guy who falls in love with a mermaid was pretty.

On our way home, we stopped in at the bakery to buy our second baguette for the day to go with my sweet potato, carrot and chickpea soup. It was still warm, fresh from the oven and released delicious, enticing smells. This is where my official “Do something fun because it is fun” moment occurred. Normally I resist the temptation of breaking off the end of the baguette. Usually I wait until I sit down and eat my lunch and can devour the crusty tip with a dollop of nutella. But not today. I turned to Tom and said “This is my moment of fun for the day” and I ripped off the rounded baguette end with my bare hands and tore into it with my teeth. Worlds collided. Taste buds danced and I’m certain Bambi pranced down the street. The simple things in life can bring the greatest joys and a fresh baguette end eaten on a street corner outside a pharmacy is one of those simple things. Wonderful. I love France.

P.S. Not so dream like news is that I didn’t get that job. Luckily I didn’t reallllyyy want it anyway because who wants to work full time?

P.P.S. Tomorrow is Fête de la Musique in Paris where apparently the streets will be filled with free music performances. The sister of a friend (who I will immediately adopt as a friend) is visiting for the day so she timed it well. Lots to see, I suspect. A guy I went to primary and high school with is in town too so I may actually be able to show him something exciting in Paris.