In the winter, the days are short in Stockholm. I absolutely love it. The city lights up with a warm glow and you can’t help but feel cozy. After visiting the Vasa Museum, we headed to the Grand Hotel to eat at Matbaren by the chef Mathias Dahlgren. Matbaren was recommened by a Swedish colleague of mine. She told me it’s her favorite restaurant, so of course we had to try it!
I don’t think I can describe fika better than the official Swedish website:
“Swedes prefer not to translate the word fika. They don’t want it to lose significance and become a mere coffee break. It is one of the first words you will learn when visiting Sweden, right after tack (thank you) and hej (hello).
Fika is much more than having a coffee. It is a social phenomenon, a legitimate reason to set aside a moment for quality time. Fika can happen at any time, morning as well as evening. It can be savoured at home, at work or in a café. It can be with colleagues, family, friends, or someone you are trying to get to know. It is a tradition observed frequently, preferably several times a day.
Accompanying sweets are crucial. Cinnamon buns, cakes, cookies, even open-faced sandwiches pass as acceptable fika fare. It comes as no surprise that Swedes are among the top consumers of coffee and sweets in the world – or that Swedes appreciate the good things in life.”
For Christmas, we gave Dook and Els a 3 day trip to London in February. I really love London and have been lucky enough to go quite often over the years, so I volunteered to create the itinerary. Not everyone had been in London before, so I created a 3 day introduction to London planning!
For Koen’s birthday we held a second edition of the Chili Cookoff! In 2016 Koen placed in 2nd, so now after two years he was ready to compete again!
The rules: everyone invited brings a chili to be evaluated with the winners announced at the end of the evening. The prizes: 3 hot sauces. The world’s hottest chili for the winner, 2nd hottest chili for the 2nd place, and 3rd hottest chili for 3rd place.
Sinterklaas is a Dutch/Belgian tradition normally celebrated at the beginning of December. Due to vacations, we made a change this year to celebrate both Sinterklaas and Christmas the same day.
Raviolo all’uova is “a single raviolo with a ricotta and spinach nest and a raw egg yolk that when boiled and lightly fried in butter cooks gently but remains tender and gooey, adding a luscious creamy texture that balances the freshness of the cheesy next and earthiness of the brown butter sauce” (as excellently described here).
Koen and I saw this dish for the first time on an episode of Mind of a Chef featuring Gabrielle Hamilton. We knew immediately this was a dish we had to make! So, so, so delicious!
Geneva is so beautiful in the sunshine! I was only here for one day, but I tried to fit in as much as possible – visiting Lake Geneva & the Vieille Ville (Old Town), all the while trying to eat as much cheese as possible!
After visiting the Summer Palace, we headed back to the hutongs in search of lunch. We figured we’d wonder around and try to find somewhere that looks good. Along the way we sampled some Old Beijing Yoghurt and shaobing filled with red bean paste before stumbling upon Hua’s Restaurant. This had to be fate. I had researched best traditional Beijing restaurants and had really wanted to visit Hua’s but there wasn’t any time. But then we discovered it by accident! We had a HUGE feast, trying as much traditional food as possible! Hua’s is quite famous because they serve imperial-style food, using recipes from “Notes of Imperial Court Food” written during the reign of Emperor Yongzheng of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Often for work I need to go to London and I always look forward to choosing where to eat in the evening. This time I was in the city for a week, so there were many opportunities to explore the culinary scene. Because my hotel was in Mayfair, all of the restaurants we visited are in the City of Westminster (click if you want to read an earlier post about the borough). To make it easy, I’ve divided the restaurants into 4 categories: British, Indian, Pubs and Street Food!