Lifestyle: Eating Out on a Budget

I love food. It goes without saying really, given that I run a food blog, but I live to eat. To me food isn’t just a fuel so I can get on with my life, it’s one of my genuine pleasures and I get so much out of a good bite to eat. Whether it’s a perfectly cooked steak, gorgeously runny egg, exotically spiced curry or even a comforting roast dinner, a good meal to me is the fastest way to my heart.

Prioritize Spending

This is generally how we “afford” most of our meals out and expensive cooking ingredients. Yes, we don’t see the problem in shelling out upwards of £100 on a meal for two (or more, especially now I’m out of university). However as a couple neither of us are into nights out, and nor have we ever been.

I personally would never dream of spending more than £10 on an evening of drinks, whilst I know friends, colleagues and family who wouldn’t think twice at spending £50, £100 or even more. And that’s absolutely fine. They enjoy a  night out. I see a tray of shots as a fancy dish I could be eating. It’s each to their own, and I put my eating out more highly than alcohol.

Eat Mid-Week

Quite a few restaurants will sneakily put their prices up Friday-Sunday – midweek meals are generally the cheapest. There will also often be special deals which are just too good to miss. Putney Pies does a deal on a Tuesday which makes it a lot more affordable!

Purchase Discounted Vouchers

As well as popping restaurant vouchers on your Christmas and birthday wishlist, you can also pick them up at a discounted price on Zeek*. Whilst the savings aren’t massive, you can easily save anything up to 10% by purchasing  restaurant vouchers using the app. It’s mainly chains on offer, though I do love Bella Italia’s courgette and chicken pasta!

If you know where you’re off to, getting a small amount of money off a voucher can make all the difference. You can generally treat it as a giftcard too, meaning it can be used alongside other discounts. Double win in my books!

Visit “Cheap” Restaurants

Cheap doesn’t have to be McDonalds, or a soggy fridge-cold sandwich from Tesco! Whether it’s tacos at Wahaca (the two of us can generally eat for around £25 including churros) or pizza at the Dynamo, there’s a lot of reallllyyyy good places to eat that won’t break the bank. A little time spent searching means we’ve got a bank of cheaper restaurants that we really want to try – have a looksie on Time Out for inspiration!

Utilise Lunch-time Offers

Dining in pricier restaurants is, for us, only usually possible at lunch times. Case in point is when we took a trip to Pollen Street Social earlier in the year. It’s a pricey restaurant (main courses start at around £35 and the portions aren’t *huge*), but with a three-course lunch offering at £37 it’s a lot more reasonable than it seems at first. We actually purchased a lunch voucher in advance, and so only paid for teas/coffee on the day – and we’re still treated to both appetizers and petit-four too. Definitely worth it if you want a real treat without completely blowing the budget!

Steer Clear of Alcohol

I love me a glass of wine as much as the next person – but it’s pricey. I’ve been to many a restaurant where the cheapest bottle isn’t far off our weekly food budget, so it’s quite rare that we’ll indulge. I’ll avoid soft drinks too – I’d far sooner spend an extra £10 on starters rather than a glass of lemonade! Tap water all the way here…

Keep An Eye Out for Soft Lauches

A soft launch is a chance for new restaurants to test their menu, kitchen and staff before they are officially open. Sure, the service might but a bit hit-and-miss but the food is usually delish and you can get a decent discount – up to 50% is normal. I’ve used hot-dinners.com in the past to see what’s popping up!

*I was gifted a small amount of Zeek credit in exchange for a post, although all opinions (and other tips) are my own!

What are your tips for eating out on a budget? 

Life: A Foodie Weekend in Suffolk

Booked as a post-exam relaxing break, this wasn’t planned to be a foodie weekend. Obviously as massive lovers of good food we’d earmarked a restaurant or two we wanted to try, but we’d overlooked the fact that Suffolk is a county producing so much yummy stuff.  Every single thing we ate over the weekend was delicious, everything seemingly fresh and local. We found some real gems and I couldn’t help but share!

Our base for the weekend was the absolutely gorgeous Five Acre Barn, just down the road from Aldeburgh. Newly opened, it manages to combine modern with cosy perfectly. Think polished concrete floors, with fully-controllable under-floor heating. Think plywood, but combined with soft and luxurious bedding and blankets. The bath was an utter delight, and the bed so insanely comfortable I genuinely had to be restrained to avoid stealing the pillow. Bruce and David were the perfect hosts (and Ruby the Visla of course!), with Bruce’s breakfasts being the best B&B ones I’ve eaten. Creamy scrambled eggs, huge full English’s and a gorgeous hollandaise were all on the menu over the weekend.

Dinner on our first night was a recommendation from my parents – Sutherland House in Southwold. A little pricey than others in the area, we still spent less than £80 on a three-course (plus amuse-bouche) meal with wine for the non-driver (#winning). I enjoyed the best scallops I can remember, served with a glorious combo of pork belly, black pudding, apple and cauliflower. I stayed on the fish-theme with my main, ordering the Parmesan Crusted Salmon with Potato Soufflé. The salmon was a tad overcooked (possibly a victim of the massive portion), though the soufflé was a revelation and something W is going to recreate for me next date night! W was equally impressed with his meal, though admittedly we were both slightly put off by the serving of frozen grapes with his cheese board (both a fan of frozen grapes, but not at the expense of cold cheese) I finished with a perfect chocolate fondant, then fell asleep on the way back to the B&B…

The next day was spent exploring. We wandered aimlessly around the streets and beaches of Aldeburgh and Thorpeness, popping into local delicatessens and drinking apple juice pressed before our very eyes. We’d heard mention of “amazing doughnuts” over breakfast (it’s communal dining at Five Acre, a concept I loved). Obviously those two words were enough to encourage a drive over to Orford.

I want to live in Orford.

Orford is a tiny village, so picturesque. Full of old cottages with plants snaking up the walls, surrounded by gorgeous countryside and the peaceful quay. It’s also home to some of the best foodie spots I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. There’s highly recommended pubs and restaurants, there’s the award-winning smoking house. But the star of the show is Pump Street Bakery. I’ll be posting a full review in the next few weeks, but if you’re in the area? Go. We drove back the next day so we could take bits home with us!

That night we’d had a bit of a fail with booking a table at the closest pub, so instead ate Fish & Chips in the dark on the beach. Every bit as romantic as it sounds – until you get the tell-tale drip from your nose that vinegar and cold air seems to cause!

Some local cider (and a bag of Peanut M&Ms) in bed, then I slept for longer than ever before. Bliss.

Reluctantly checking out, we detoured back to Orford to load up the car with as much as we could, before heading to Southwold. The weather let us down, with the wind so strong the pier was closed and our ears ached. We spent far too long in the Adnams shop, purchasing their own gin. We explored local galleries, picked up some Suffolk Salami (fortunately this is available in Wholefoods, as Sainsbury’s own is no longer cutting it for me…). We lunched at Fifty One Cafe, where my Smoked Haddock Gratin hit the spot perfectly. Warming and comforting, plenty of cheese, and a really tasty beetroot salad (and 4 cups of tea!) to accompany. W’s Celeriac Soup was also hugely enjoyed.

With that, we started the long journey home – it took us two hours to get from near Canary Wharf to Putney (just under 10 miles!) so we were glad of the Pump Street Doughnuts we’d bought!

Suffolk was such a delightful county, and one I really wish we’d visited sooner. We know we’ll definitely be back!

Have you ever visit Suffolk? Where do you think is best for foodies in the UK?

Food: Chinese Knives, Shiitake Wontons, 1400+ Meals & Tackling Food-Waste with Wok For 1000

So, this could quite possibly be the quickest I’ve *ever* typed up a post, edited photos and got it live on the blog. I guess that pretty much sums up how awesome my Tuesday was!

Having kindly been invited to volunteer as part of Wok for 1000, I was expecting to spend my day perhaps washing up, maybe doing a spot of pan-stirring, possibly some onion slicing. The reality, however, was completely different. Sure I sliced a lot of onions, and I *think* I stirred a pan at one point. I didn’t do any washing up, I ate some delicious food, I taught some knife skills (and practised my first-aid when said teaching didn’t quite go to plan). Under the watchful eye of the school of wok‘s Jeremy Pang, who is as utterly as adorable in real life as I had imagined, 200 volunteers donned (paper) chef hats (plastic) aprons and crowded into Borough Market this morning for a cause that is particularly close to my heart.

Food Waste is something I’m passionate about. Read: I loathe it. It makes me sick with anger to think about the ridiculous amounts of food that households in this country throw away, let alone restaurants, shops, office canteens. There’s very often nothing wrong with said food, and there’s so many people who would be unbelievably grateful for it. When it’s for a homeless shelter, or donated to the elderly struggling to survive on a basic pension, or to replace a (let’s face it) substandard hospital meal, all of this food could come in so useful. This is where Plan Zheroes come in. Their aim is to eradicate food waste in London  by connecting businesses with excess food to charities in need of food. Kinda like Tinder for leftovers (the kind of Tinder I could appreciate!).

Wok for 1000 not only aims at promoting both Plan Zheroes and their supported charities, but also at beating hunger across the city. The aim was to prep, cook and deliver 1000 meals to those in need – and not only did we achieve this, but we smashed through the target. At final count before I left, the meals were counted at roughly 1400. For just a few hours work, a few leftover ingredients, that’s amazing. Just think about what we could achieve if more people took these ‘waste’ ingredients and transformed them into a meal for their community.

Throughout the day we were treated to demos by Jeremy himself, including a tutorial on how to hold and use the (frankly terrifying) knives used in Chinese cooking. The result is that they are surprisingly easy to use, the knives I currently own are far too blunt, and I want one in my life. I demonstrated my chopping skills, only to have someone copy me and promptly slice their finger. Whoops. We made a ridiculous number of wontons (well in excess of the 4000 we were aiming for). With a combo of veggie and pork ones, it was the deep-fried shiitake mushroom ones that completely took my heart. So, so good.

Oh, and I finally got to meet Erica (who is every bit as lovely as her amazing hair colour makes her seem), and she shared her well-honed Wonton-shaping knowledge with me. If that isn’t worth getting rather cold for, I don’t know what is…

I learnt new skills, got to share some of my own skills (if not successfully), I got to see the pure gratitude in people’s eyes when they received our food, and I got to eat some rather delicious noms myself. Thank you Jeremy, School of Wok and Plan Zheroes for such an empowering day!

How do you think we could continue to tackle food waste?

Recipe: Chicken Fesenjan (Walnut & Pomegranate Stew)

Okay, this just happens to be the best thing I have cooked. EVER. It’s the perfect comfort food for when the nights are cooling down and drawing in!

I had originally bookmarked Amy’s recipe well over a year ago, and then when clearing out my bookmarks I re-found it. Weirdly I had most of the ingredients in the cupboard (trust me, pomegranate molasses isn’t usually on the shelf!) so decided to give it a go – and it’s become a firm favourite. It’s not one for a weeknight as it does take a while, and requires pretty frequent attention, but it’s so worth it for a Saturday night treat. Deeply aromatic and intensely savoury, it’s just so yum!

The soft chicken and onions melt in the mouth, and are covered in a thick and glossy sauce. It’s a simple enough ingredients list, not exactly complicated to make, but the results are stunning. The sauce in particular is so, so tasty – toasty from the walnuts, sour from the molasses with just a hint of sweetness. I’ve added some fragrance and spice to the original recipe to give it more depth of flavour which really works, and cut down on the amount of sugar found because I really don’t think it needed it.

This could also be easily made vegan – the sauce was divine with the cauliflower, so I’d be tempted to miss out the chicken, use a suitable stock and just have that!

Recipe (served 2 greedy people, easily scaled up)

  • 75g walnuts
  • 25g butter
  • 4 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
  • 1-2 white onions, sliced
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp runny honey, or more to taste
  • 3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon each of ground coriander and nutmeg
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds

First up, toast your walnuts and allow to cool. I spread mine out on a baking tray and roasted for 10 minutes at 200C (stirring every couple of minutes) until they smelt nutty. Once cool, blitz in a food processor until breadcrumb-like.

Melt half of the butter and fry the chicken thighs over a high heat until golden. Set aside, lower the heat, add the rest of the butter, and gently fry the onions for five or soft minutes until softened. Add the chicken back to the back along with the stock, pop the lid on the pan and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the ground walnuts to the pan gradually, stirring well until smooth. Stir in the bay, honey, molasses, and spices, then allow to cook on a very low heat (I used the ‘2’ setting on our temperamental electric hob) for around an hour. You’ll need to stir every five or so minutes to stop the mix from catching on the bottom. Once it’s done the sauce will be rich in flavour – taste and adjust for seasoning and sweetness. We preferred ours slightly more sour, but add more honey if you like. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds before serving.

We served this with brown rice and roasted Za’atar cauliflower (toss cauli in oil, salt and pepper, roast for 15 mins, drizzle with a little balsamic and za’atar, add the cauliflower leaves and then roast for another 10-15 minutes until tender and lightly charred). Sprinkled with some pomegranate seeds for another texture, burst of freshness and (let’s be honest here) to make this dish more Instagrammable and you’ve got my current favourite meal.

What’s your go-to comfort food meal?

Recipe: Blackberry & Apple Crumble

Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of cooked fruit. Actually, I’m not really a huge fan of fruit in general, much preferring to get my five-a-day from vegetables. Despite my mum regularly making crumbles throughout my childhood, it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve accepted anything other than a bowl of custard (yep, on it’s own). This year I was actively looking forward to Autumn and the hedges brimming with blackberries just waiting to be picked.

Now, this recipe is perhaps a bit more faff than a standard crumble recipe. I used to just chop the fruit, throw it into a dish with a spot of sugar (and perhaps a dash of slow gin). Rub together butter, sugar and flour, heap on top of the fruit mixture and bake. Simple, took about five minutes and the results were good. This, however, takes it one step further. The fruit is stewed beforehand, lightly so it doesn’t turn to mush, but enough so that all the flavours come together that little bit more. The topping is pre-baked, so there’s whilst there’s a bit of comforting stodge, it’s not leaning towards the glue-y raw flour end that I was always coasting before. It’s still super-easy, it still is pretty quick to put together. It’s our go-to Sunday evening treat right now. Served with a generous helping of fridge-cold cream, eaten wrapped in a blanket in front of a film. You can’t get more hygge than that!

Recipe – serves 2

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 90g unsalted butter at fridge temperature, cut into pieces
  • 300g cooking apple (usually one large Braeburn), peeled and cored
  • 30g brown sugar
  • a large handful of blackberries
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • cream, to serve

Tip the flour, caster sugar and ginger into a large bowl. Add 60g of the butter, then rub into the flour until the mix resembles. Sprinkle the mixture in an even layer on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at roughly 200C, or until lightly golden and smelling gorgeous.

Meanwhile prep the fruit. Pop the butter and sugar in a medium saucepan and melt together over a medium heat. Cook for 3 mins until the mixture turns to a light caramel. Chop the apples into roughly 2cm dice, then add to the caramel and cook for 3 minutes. Add the blackberries and cinnamon, and cook for a couple more minutes. Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and leave to stand.

When ready to serve, spoon the fruit into an ovenproof dish, top with the crumble mix, then bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes, or until hot and bubbling. Serve with cream (or vanilla ice cream!).

And now here’s a disclaimer – I actually put W on crumble-duty the vast majority of the time. It’s just so much yummier when someone has cooked it for you – and he makes far less of a mess (hence why I finally managed to photograph these!).

Are you a fan of fruit crumbles? What’s your favourite fruit combo?

Lifestyle: A Foodie Bucket List (Home-Cooking Version)

It’s a running joke between myself and my better half that we have an ever-expanding list of things we want to cook, places we want to eat. It grows far, far faster than we can tick items off! Here’s just a snippet of our ‘home-cooking’ section of the list…

  • Experiment more with Jewish recipes. I’ve been thumbing through Fress* a lot recently and pretty much every dish sounds delicious.
  • Buy a proper pudding basin. Although I’ve wanted one for a while, it was the recent GBBO epsiode that reignited the passion. Steamed sponges, suet puddings filled with steak and kidney. Traditional cooking at it’s best!
  • Make a lasagne completely from scratch. Obviously we use my Ultimate No-Tomato Bolognese, and W’s awesome cheese sauce recipes, but I really want to combine them with homemade pasta. In fact, just make more homemade pasta!
  • Oh, and a decent completely white lasagne I want to make too. This Jamie Oliver recipe looks insanely rich and comforting!
  • Replicate a decent barbecue sauce sans tomato. It’s the one thing I miss – messy, sticky, saucy ribs!
  • Cook up this Lentil Stew. It looks perfect for a winter lunchbox to reheat at work!
  • Play around more with our Pressure Cooker. I was gifted one last Autumn and whilst we made a couple of dishes in it (it was great for Beef Cheeks!) it’s sat largely unused for a while. Any recipe recommendations?
  • Make our own Faggots. I know a lot of people are squeamish about these, but I LOVE them. I grew up eating local versions but they’ve become harder and harder to find (I’ve not seen them in any butchers in London). We have a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid so this Winter I’m definitely setting aside an afternoon for making my perfect comfort food.
  • Host a supper club. I’d love to host some fundraising supper parties, in support of Alzheimer’s UK in memory of my maternal granddad. Now we have a dining table I really need to get the ball rolling!
  • Make a proper pie. We make pies quite a lot with the leftovers from our Sunday roast, but really it’s a cheat – topping a stew mix with a sheet of pastry. I’d love to try making a proper pie with pastry all the way round.
  • Cook more curries from scratch. We’ve got a few simple recipes (read: throw various spices in with onion, garlic and ginger, add yoghurt/coconut milk) but I’d love to try something a tad more authentic. I’ve had this for Massaman and this Vindaloo recipe bookmarked for what feels like forever!
  • Bake these. Because Peanut Butter is life.

What’s on your ‘to cook’ list?

Recipe: Asian Quinoa Salad

Healthy and exciting lunchboxes. It’s one of the things I really struggle with; finding things to eat at work that are filling, nourishing, cheap, last a couple of days in the fridge and are genuinely yummy. I don’t particularly enjoy sandwiches (all too often they are soggy and squashed after a few hours in my bag) and I *refuse* to spend £6+ on eating out every day, no matter how good my Instagram feed would look.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad_zpsq1lyns43.jpgThere’s nothing worse than a disappointing lunch, and I guarantee than a poor midday meal with leave me in a grump alllllll afternoon. A box full of this, however, is pretty sure to put a smile on my face. It’s basically a more colourful and substantial version of my Asian Satay Salad, which makes it perfect for the cooler weather. The quinoa bulks it out without making me feel heavy, bloated and ready for a nap, whilst the red cabbage just looks so pretty. Raw sugarsnap peas are a revelation for me too – soooo much tastier than cooked.

This is super-easy to adapt too. Toss through leftover roast chicken, serve as part of a picnic. I quite like cooked and cooled soy beans stirred through too, and I imagine a fresh pepper would make an awesome addition (I’d be wary about adding it if you’re picking at this throughout the week, I find the pepper-y taste can transfer a bit). No spring onions? Use a normal onion (pop it into a sieve and pour over boiling water to take away the harsh raw-onion taste). No red cabbage? Just slice up whatever cabbage you have – it just won’t look as colourful. And of course you could switch out quinoa for whichever grain you fancy. I’m also planning on trying a version made with noodles sometime soon!

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad5_zpskz4hqj3p.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad3_zpsnczfccrz.jpgRecipe (makes 5-6 servings, baked on a Cookie & Kate recipe)

  • Quinoa, I followed the measurement on the packet to make 4 portions
  • ½ purple cabbage
  • 3 carrots
  • ½ packet sugar snap peas
  • 1 small packet of coriander
  • 4-5 spring onions
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger
  • 1 red chilli (deseeded if you don’t fancy it too hot)
  • 3 tablespoons of peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 limes (zest and juice)
  • 1 small handful of nuts, to serve

Cook the quinoa, following the packet instructions, and leave it to cool. I like to fluff it up with a fork a few times whilst cooling. Meanwhile prep the salad – finely slice the red cabbage, spiralise (or slice) the carrots, slice the sugarsnap peas lengthways, slice the spring onions and roughly chop the coriander. Pop into a large Tupperware box and mix through the cooled quinoa.

Then make the dressing: finely chop the ginger and chilli. Mix together with the soy, honey and sesame oil, then slowly add the soy and fish sauce until smooth. Add in the lime zest and juice, mix well and pop into a jar. I’d advise not refrigerating (just keep in a cool place) as otherwise the peanut butter makes it a bit solid!

In the morning, pop a portion of the quinoa/veg mix into your lunchbox and stir through a few spoonfuls of the dressing. I’d keep it out of the fridge until lunchtime, no-one wants fridge-cold quinoa… When just about to eat top with a handful of nuts, if you like.

 photo Asian Quinoa Salad4_zpsgijjuqz7.jpg photo Asian Quinoa Salad7_zpsiyerfhuz.jpgWhilst I don’t typically count calories (an obsessive personality means I tend to become focussed on continually reducing my intake), eating a big portion of this makes me feel healthy. I feel satisfied without being full, nourished without feeling deprived. And an added bonus? It can be eaten one-handed at my desk on really busy days. I can see myself eating a lot of this salad!

What’s your favourite take-to-work lunch?

Recipe: Simple Fennel Pasta

Like many households, I’m sure, pasta is our go-to meal. When we don’t know what to cook, you can bet it will end up involving pasta. Whether it’s my tomato-free bolognese, a decadent carbonara or gut-lining mac’n’cheese, we love the carby-comfort food hit.

 photo Fennel Pasta_zps5mdlg1mw.jpgRecently, though, we’ve been trying to experiment a bit more. When we say “oh, we’ll have pasta” we try to pick out a new recipe, try a new combination. Even, as in this recipe, to try something new with an ingredient we rarely use.

Fennel is something I’m a bit scared of, to tell the truth. I have never liked aniseed, going as far as retching when the Liquorice Alsorts were bought out on family car journeys. It was a Dynamo Pizza (now sadly removed from the menu) that first got me eating fennel – the combination of just al-dente fennel with ham, mozzarella and pomegranate seeds was a delight. And so I agreed to try out this pasta dish. And a few additions later, we have a firm favourite…

 photo Fennel Pasta 2_zpsep5blspt.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 4_zpsbcftekk8.jpgRecipe (to serve 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra virgin olive oil to drizzle before serving
  • 1&1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves,crushed
  • 1 lemon, both the zest and the juice – if we have half a lemon hanging around in the fridge we’ll sometimes add extra too
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely sliced, fronds (the green flowery bits) reserved
  • 175g linguine
  • 1/3 pack parsley, chopped (I’m not a fan of parsley but it does work here)
  • Parmesan, or other similar hard cheese

Heat the oil in a frying pan cook the fennel seeds until they pop (about 90 seconds over a not-too-high heat). Add in the garlic and allow to cook for a minute or so, but don’t let it colour. Throw in the lemon zest and half the fennel, lower the heat and cook for 10-12 mins or until the fennel has softened – cook the pasta whilst you’re waiting.

Add the cooked pasta to the frying pan, along with a few tablespoons of pasta water (reserve a bit more, just in case). Toss together, along with the remaining raw fennel, parsley and lemon juice. Season well, then pile into bowls, topping with the fennel fronds, a drizzle of oil and a generous serving of parmesan. Perfect with a glass of chilled white wine!

 photo Fennel Pasta 1_zpskq3zsmbc.jpg photo Fennel Pasta 3_zpsdqxh2yaw.jpgWe found this was a gorgeously light pasta dish, yet still full of flavour. The contrasting textures of the pasta alongside the cooked and raw fennel added extra interest. All in all a rather yummy dish!

What’s your favourite pasta dish?

Food: 10 Things to Eat in Switzerland

Typically this is going live before any of my other Switzerland posts, which clearly shows how important food is to me. Weirdly, I didn’t do a huge amount of research before heading out to Switzerland – other than “all the cheese” there wasn’t anything on my must-eat list. In the end, I didn’t really eat a bad meal.

 photo Swiss Food_zpsan9qrron.jpgSticking to traditional foods, we definitely ticked off the “all the cheese” aim, though by the end of the week we were craving vegetables (seriously, we tried and couldn’t even order them as a side!) and the local Indian takeaways smelt more and more appealing. The first meal we ate when we arrived home (well, after Five Guys to sustain us during move-day!) was my Satay Veggie Slaw which says a lot about how rich and heavy the food was!

Sidenote: we were walking in excess of 20,000 steps most days so we definitely earned it!

So, what’s the 10 dishes you really need to try when you’re in Switzerland…?

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 3_zps3qej7dn0.jpgZüri-Gschätzlets (Veal in Mushroom Sauce) served with Rösti

This meal was perhaps our most expensive when we were away, at 35CHF each (although admittedly in quite a flashy hotel – where we witnessed a proposal). Very tender sliced veal in a rich mushroom sauce, served on top of a crisp but tender rösti, it was also one of the only meals I ate that didn’t contain cheese. You can find my recipe here.

Hot Chocolate

The mountain-cafe staple! Swiss Hot Chocolate is usually more milky than it’s Italian or French versions, good for me as I’m not a fan of the thick rich stuff. The best powdered brand is Caotina (we instruct a Swiss friend to bring us some every now and then) and comes served separate to a mug of frothed warm milk for you to stir yourself.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 7_zpsheez6s9b.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 8_zpswp0jeuee.jpg photo What to Eat in Switzerland 10_zpsa4b0gfau.jpgCordon Bleu

I’d go as far as saying this meal was my absolute favourite of all our meals in Switzerland, it’s certainly the dish I’m still thinking about! The more traditional Cordon-bleu is made with veal, cheese and ham, before being breadcrumbed and fried. My version (at Barry’s in Grindelwald, full review coming soon) was a pork escalope filled with bacon, garlic, leek and Raclette cheese. I ordered the ‘mini’ (25CHF) which I bitterly regret. Sure, I had room for dessert, but it wasn’t as good as this…

Oh, and if you visit Barry’s their Whisky list is crazy. We tried a couple of the Swiss distilled tipples, including a verrryyyy pricey (and strong!) one which is aged in the Jungfrau.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 11_zpscrjjp8t5.jpgCheese Fondue

Now, we didn’t actually eat this in Switzerland – it’s actually more of a tourist thing than anything. That said, if it hadn’t been over 30 degrees every single day I’d have been right in there. If you can, I’d recommend getting one that served the molten cheese with both bread and potatoes (just bread is too heavy) and drink a warm drink alongside it and continue sipping for a while after your meal. Trust me, you don’t want all that cheese to set in your tummy. In London, pop to St Moritz in Soho for your cheese fix!

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 6_zpst3x55ghs.jpgVeal Sausage

A good veal sausage, served with more of that delicious rösti and plenty of onion sauce is comfort food at it’s best. I avoided this due to the disturbing redness of some sauces and the difficultly in getting my allergy understood (surprisingly I only had to send one meal back, though a couple of others came close!).

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 13_zpsn66khohj.jpg

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Rösti

Now, rösti can come one of two ways. It is often a side, rather like our ‘mash’ or ‘roasts’, or it can be served in it’s own right. The later is usually covered in cheese, then with a choice of additions. This was our first Swiss meal, sat with the gorgeous view above, and it was glorious. I went for the version with ham and a fried egg, W went for the bacon offering. Both came with obscene amounts of cheese. I had two thick slices of ham, more cheese and a perfectly gooey fried egg (melty cheese plus yolk is perfection). W’s came with 10 rashers of bacon. Yep, TEN. We counted. Not surprsingly we slept well that night!

Älplermagrone

Just like our well-loved Mac’n’Cheese, but with added carbs. Pasta AND potatoes are boiled in milk (a little like my one-pan-mac), mixed with a LOT of cheese, topped with fried onions, bacon, more cheese. Yep, it’s good. Yes, it’s ridiculously bad for you.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 19_zpso5ruhpsb.jpg

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Elsässer Flammkuchen

Dough is rolled out very thinly and covered with crème fraîche. Traditionally it’s topped with thinly sliced onions and lardons, which was my favourite. Though I did try a summery version of parma ham and rocket which was nearly as delicious.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 20_zpscizw0zwz.jpgCoupe Denmark

Ah, this dessert is the thing of dreams. Plain milk ice-cream, topped with cream and a wafer. Served with a jug of rich chocolate sauce (made with very dark chocolate and plenty of milk, so it doesn’t set on contact with the ice-cream). It’s delicious. Oh so simple. Oh so good.

 photo What to Eat in Switzerland 14_zpssxgwkija.jpg

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Meringue

Meiringen is the birthplace of the meringue, so when we made an unscheduled hangry stop there (we missed a bus that only ran every 2 hours, so ended up doubling our walk) we quickly googled the best stop. Frutal Versandbäckerei (Tearoom Frutal) came out top so we sat in their delightful courtyard (dodging the rather agressive wasps) sipping some of the most delicious homemade iced-tea I’ve eaten drank.

“Oh look” said W. “There’s one for two, shall we share?”

I was only too willing to get along. He nipped out to get cash, I ordered and relaxed. Then saw a standard portion come out (the single portions come in a choice of mini or standard). I began to regret our choice. And then it came out.

It was the size of one of our heads. Two massive meringues, sandwiched with SIX scoops of ice-cream, a lot of whipped cream and fresh fruit. The meringue was amazing. Slightly chewy but not at all sticky, and surprisingly not over-sweet. We admitted defeat about 3/4 of the way in…

Have you been to Switzerland? Is food the best bit about travel for you?

Food: Design Your Own “YouGurt” with Onken (AD)

Yogurt is a pretty staple breakfast in our house – W likes it with fresh fruit, and if I’ve not made overnight oats (recipe here) then I’ll take a jar of yogurt and granola to eat at my desk. I tend to favour a plainer variety sweetened with a spot of honey, W is a bit more adventurous and will pick up all sort of fruity concoctions. But recently I’ve tried something very adventurous, and here’s why…

 photo Onken Yougurt16_zpshcn1crwq.jpg photo Onken Yougurt8_zpsl5dlfvol.jpgThis month Onken is inviting the public to customise their very own flavour of yogurt – or YouGurt if you like a good pun! By combining three flavours, ranging from the downright delicious to the downright bizarre. You could go tropical with a combo of coconut, mango and pineapple, add in some veggies with carrot (told you some of them were bizarre!), or even do something with one of my favourite English fruits, rhubarb. Altogether there are 220 flavour combinations – and yes, the maths geek in me did check that on a calculator.

 photo Onken Yougurt12_zps4vftbney.jpgI went for two slightly safer flavours, adding in a twist with my third. Mango, Coconut and Chilli YouGurt was certainly different! The sweetness of the mango and subtle creamy coconut-tiness paired really well, with the sweet heat of chilli peppers coming through the end. Admittedly not quite the breakfast yogurt I was hoping for, but we’re churning it in our ice-cream maker tonight for a bit of fro-yo.

Now, here’s the exciting bit…

 photo Onken Yougurt10_zpsrrgckmux.jpg photo Onken Yougurt18_zpsacuqvq1b.jpgYou can get involved too! Every day this September the Onken YouGurt Factory will be open for business and accessible via their Facebook page, where 50 pots can be won each and every day. All you do is pick your three flavours and watch the unique pot be created via a personalised video, complete with your name and illustration of your flavour combo. And you might just get to taste it too. At the end of the video you’ll see whether you’re a winner. And if so, your YouGurt will turn up on your doorstep the very next day. And if not, the videos are pretty cool anyway…

You’ve got these flavours to choose from: rhubarb, pumpkin, mint, chilli, cherry, strawberry, agave, pineapple, coconut, mango, peach and carrot. I was seriously tempted by a combo of rhubarb, cherry and mint – doesn’t that sound dreamy…?!

 photo Onken Yougurt17_zpskc3it9zv.jpg*This post has been sponsored by Onken, all opinions are (as always) my own!

Are you a yogurt fan? What flavour combination would you choose?