Originally from Yorkshire I've lived and worked in Spain, France, Mexico and Switzerland, now based in southern Alsace. Author of 9 books, the latest about Switzerland's finest farmhouse cheeses. I freelance for anyone who'll buy my stuff (FT Weekend, Decanter, France Mag, Culture Cheese Mag et al) plus I give cooking workshops and lead bespoke vineyard tours in Alsace and Baden (just across the Rhine).
Eating out in Basel is all too often a dispiriting experience: over-priced, uninspired (there must be more to life than lamb’s lettuce/Nüsslisalat with chopped hard-boiled egg and/or bacon) and at times downright frosty (‘Hä’nd Sie reserviert?‘, barked at you by way of a welcome, when the place is half empty…). So when people ask me “where do you like to eat in town”, I have a job thinking of anywhere I really, really like (or even half-like). Continue reading →
If you’ve never eaten calçots, you haven’t lived. What’s a calçot, I hear you cry. Put at its simplest, it’s something between a spring onion and a leek. Every year throughout Catalunya, from (roughly) January till Easter, loads of these distinctive, elongated onions are grilled to a frazzle over fierce fires made from vine clippings and served up with a dangerously addictive sauce based on toasted, ground almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, olive oil and loads of garlic. Continue reading →
Elizabeth David understood all too well the dangers of good soup, complaining of the temptation to accept second – even third – helpings for fear of ruining your appetite for the rest of the meal. The best plan (especially after the Christmas excesses, ouch) is to give soup pride of place – it’s a meal in itself. Serve it with good country-style bread and a sliver or three of decent cheese.
A friend recently posted something on Facebook along the lines that ‘if life gives you lemons, put them in the freezer, then chuck ‘em at whoever’s making your life impossible’. Here’s an even better idea: make them into citrons confits, lovely to have on standby in the fridge – they keep for months – or better still, bestow them on fortunate friends at Christmas. Here are two recipes for doing them, plus another couple of ideas for how to use them. Continue reading →
I’ve had loads of fun in 2012 with my workshops: plenty of variety (Fish for the Fearful, Real Mexican, Spring and Autumn Veggie feasts, Spanish/Catalan cooking, bread, Mediterranean Buffet, Taste of Alsace/Basel/Baden, Party Pieces etc.) with a mix of publicly advertised classes, private workshops (where folks get together their own group and come and cook up a storm on the theme/day of their choosing) and corporate/team-building events. The last one was yesterday, phoa. So now there’s no possible excuse for putting off my own Christmas preps. Continue reading →
Towards the end of November each year, Thierry Meyer of Oenothèque Alsace plunges down into his cellar in Strasbourg to emerge with armfuls of trusty, dusty bottles. At the same time, chef Jean-Philippe Guggenbuhl starts leafing through his recipe books at La Taverne Alsacienne in Ingersheim near Colmar. Together they come up with a spectacular Riesling dinner menu. Continue reading →
Anyone living in or near Switzerland and in need of sound, eclectic wine advice need look no further than Chandra Kurt’s Weinseller, an excellent guide (the title a nice play on ‘seller’ and ‘cellar’) published annually by Werd Verlag. The new edition just landed on my desk and I’ve been leafing through it, turning down the corners of pages (tut tut) and anticipating lots of savvy purchases. Continue reading →
Shredding cabbages for choucroute the traditional way – picture by John Miller from A Taste of Alsace by Sue Style
Everyone knows Sauerkraut. How about choucroute? Same difference. Well, almost. Choucroute is just the French name for it – so much sexier than Sauerkraut, which sounds like a German on a bad day.
The name choucroute (I’m sticking with its French nomenclature, living as I do in Alsace) indicates not just the raw material – smooth white cabbage finely shredded and salted – but also the famous dish, a mountain of steaming cabbage which comes tottering under the weight of sundry sausages, smoked pork meats, potatoes and – if you’re lucky – the occasional liver dumpling. Continue reading →
It’s round about now that I get saffron on my mind. I love it any time of year, but right now, down in the Valais in southern Switzerland, the beautiful crocus blooms have just been harvested. Saffron in Switzerland? Unlikely, but true. Continue reading →