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).
Anyone got a panettone,kugelhopf or any other soft, slightly sweet, yeasty bread hanging around at home awaiting its post-Christmas moment? A few weeks ago Jamie Oliver wheeled out a wicked-looking bread and butter pudding featuring panettone, dark chocolate, marmalade, cream, butter, milk and loads of brown sugar. I’m not much good on rich, calorie-laden nursery puddings but – as ever – he made the dish sound completely irresistible and mildly bonkers (his title is in fact Bonkers Bread & Butter Panettone Pudding). I filed away the idea for a snowy day.
Yesterday, after a fabulously frosty/sunny New Year’s Day walk, its moment came. I tried a version using kugelhopf, broadly similar to panettone but less sweet – and also easier to find here in Alsace. Continue reading →
If you want the skinny on good places to eat in and around Basel, you have a number of options at your fingertips. First, natch, there’s the Eating Out: Alsace, Basel and Baden page of this site, which I strive womanfully to keep current, and which attempts (not always successfully) to keep a balance between the various eating possibilities in the three countries on our Dreilaendereck doorstep.
There’s also the Michelin Guide to Switzerland, the Swiss Gault Millau guide and the Guide Bleu Suisse, all of which have entries for Basel. And then there’s Basel Geht Aus, the annually published magazine devoted to good eats, whose 2015 edition was launched at the Kunsthalle on 1st December and which is now on sale at Jens and Franziska Stocker’s brilliant Bider & Tanner, Basel’s best and liveliest bookshop, and in kiosks around town. Continue reading →
If you check in here regularly, you’ll know that my own interest in lunch is exceptionally finely honed, so this is a book after my own heart. [I should also disclose that I’m one of the 70 “well-dined collection of restaurant reviewers, food writers, travel writers, journalists, inveterate eater-outers and bloggers” who have contributed from around the globe.] Continue reading →
High above Brig in Switzerland’s southern canton of Valais is a tiny village named Mund. Nothing remarkable about the place at first sight – just a few houses on a scrubby hillside above the valley, a handful of Spycher, the typical Valaisan wooden storage huts, a primary school, an ancient and a modern church. But in the 1980s, Mund shot to stardom on account of its one product: saffron. Continue reading →
Petite Venise, Colmar, at Christmas, copyright Tourist Office Colmar
Recommending restaurants is a dangerous business (says she, who does more of it than many…). A Basel-based friend who’s thoroughly into his food and a terrific cook recently mailed me for ideas on where to have lunch in Colmar. He’d be meeting up with “food-interested friends” from Sydney – a city not noticeably short of good spots to eat – and wanted to give them a treat. Did I have some recommendations?
I thoroughly approved his plan to go to Colmar right now: the Christmas markets have just opened and the city is looking drop-dead gorgeous. But where to wow his Sydneysider friends? The stakes were high.
If you love Swiss wines and are living in or near Switzerland (or even planning a visit in the next ten days), there’s a treat in store. From the 20th to the 30th of November, it’s Swiss Wine Week. Which means what, exactly? It’s a joint initiative by Swiss Wine Promotion (whose new logo is featured left) and Sierre-based Swiss wine event organisers Vinea. The aim is to shake Swiss restaurant-goers and winemakers out of their usual – dare I say boring? – habits and cajole them into tasting wines from some part of Switzerland other than their own. Continue reading →
Autumn signals open season for one of the greatest cheeses known to woman: a wondrous, washed-rind, cow’s milk cheese that comes on the market every September, made in small dairies in the Jura mountains, on both the Swiss and French sides of the border. Continue reading →
It’s a well-established fact that you’re never going to go hungry – or thirsty – in Alsace. At one end of the scale there are good-to-great places (L’Auberge de l’Ill inter alia); at the other there are decent enough Winstubs (wine bars with a über-trad dishes of the choucroute, tarte a l’oignon school). But then in the squeezed middle, that bit where I’m always hoping to find interesting, fun food with a smidge of creativity, at sensible-not-silly prices and quirky wines by the glass, there’s a socking great hole. Continue reading →
September is the moment to savour Sicily. The skies are still deep azure (think Quink royal blue), which shows off to perfection the sparkling white of Baroque jewels like Scicli, Modica, Ragusa and Noto. The sea is reliably warm, the midday sun delicious but not impossibly dazzling, the evenings balmy, the nights agreeably cool. Best of all, the crowds have flown north again – to Rome, Milan, Paris, London – leaving you the pick of hotels, B&Bs and villas. And as in any place that’s annually steamrollered by summer crowds, the local people are learning to smile again, they’re more chilled in this back-season, whether in the mercato, trattoria, gelateria or cantina. Continue reading →