2017: A food filled year

2017 has been a food filled year, packed with celebrations, with three weddings (including my own), and several special birthdays. It’s hard to pick the best foodie moments of 2017 but here are just a few in no particular order…

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

This was the most wonderful wedding gift from the Digital Blonde team, what an experience it was. The drinks and delicious little canapes to try as soon as we arrived were fabulous. We enjoyed a lovely long lunch with wine and a cheese course too. I loved hearing detailed descriptions of all the cheeses (local ones and classic French ones) and of course, they were all heaven to eat. The food was exceptional, if you get the chance Raymond Blanc’s restaurant is so worth it – just make sure neither of you drives there! We made this mistake and really regretted it. The team at Le Manoir also sent me a beautiful signed book too – the icing on the cake for this amazing foodie memory.

Our Wedding Day

wedcheese

This is made up of quite a few little foodie moments that combined to make a very memorable occasion. The first of these was being presented with a new gin to try by the Cabinet Rooms after emerging from the registry office as a newly married couple. I guess that’s what happens when you book your wedding on World Gin Day, next door to Winchester’s first festival of gin!

gin

A huge shout out has to go to Hotel du Vin in Winchester, where we held our wedding reception, the food they dished up was incredible! We had an indulgent afternoon tea, complete with candy floss and enormous warm scones. The canapes received high praise from everyone, especially bacon wrapped prawns. The cheese trolley was spectacular too and the mini fish and chip cones were a hit. Our guests certainly were well fed!

We had a delicious cake baked by a family friend too – can’t wait to get the little bit I have left out of the freezer to tuck into at Christmas!

cake

All wedding pics by Maddie Waters Photography

Avocados everywhere in California

avo toast

Anyone who knows me knows I’m an avocado obsessive. I’ve loved them since before they were cool. So I was very happy with the abundance of gorgeous green avo-centred dishes out in California! I think my highlight was avocados on toast for breakfast in the penthouse restaurant at the Huntley Santa Monica, looking over views of LA.

Sky high dining at Hutong (The Shard)

shard

This was a fab foodie moment enjoyed with the Digital Blonde team, right at the very start of 2017 as combination Christmas and leaving do. Enjoying delicious Chinese food, with a glass of Champagne and spectacular night time views of the city was pretty magical.

Switzerland 2017

I don’t think I could pick a favourite moment from this trip as the food and drink in the alpine town of Zermatt is just so good. It’s definitely my happy place, fresh air, gluhwein and hearty (cheesy!) dishes that you actually feel you like you semi-deserve after a day of skiing. There was the gluhwein on our last day after coming down quite a scary slope successfully, a perfect lunch time Rosti or some of the best chocolate ever from the little chocolate shop opposite the station. Going here is always a treat for all the senses.

Kyoto Kitchen

I do love the food at Kyoto Kitchen, it’s fresh, delicate and delicious. We’ve had some fabulous meals here this year, with amazing recommendations from the owner Miff,  plus beautifully made gin and tonics or Sake to pair with. It’s always a fun and memorable experience dining here.

The Afternoon Tea Awards

What a brilliant occasion celebrating all things afternoon tea! I was lucky enough to be invited to these amazing awards by sponsor Newby Teas. It was great to see the winners unveiled and of course to sample the afternoon tea offering from the Grosvenor Hotel. I met some lovely journalists and fellow bloggers too, all whilst sipping bubbles and enjoying the full range of teas from Newby.

Thank you 2017, here’s to 2018…

2017 really has been a bumper year of food, fun and (alcohol-fuelled!) celebrations, it’s a wonder I can get into any of my clothes. I loved almost every minute of 2017, it’s going to be a tough year to top. So I’ll just say that I’m hoping for a slightly healthier 2018!

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In Anticipation of Austria…

Feeling very lucky right now, although things are busy and at times hectic (hence the lack of updates), I have a lot to look forward to. There are lots of little things I’m excited about but possibly the biggest is a ski trip to Austria in a few weeks time. It’s fair to say I can’t wait! I’ve been to Austria a few times before and it’s a beautiful country, especially up in the mountains. From stunning tyrolean scenery to the breathtaking alpine views, there’s a lot to love but here’s a round-up of what I’m most looking forward too on the foodie front…

Almdudler!

This soft drinks seems to be specific to Austria, as I’ve never seen it anywhere else, but if you ever go there this is an absolute must try! It’s a carbonated soft drink, I’m not even entirely sure what it’s supposed to taste of, but it’s very refreshing! It’s a sort of grape juice type taste, maybe with a hint of ginger ale and elderflower flavours mixed in, at least that’s how I remember it. It’s a lovely ski slope refresher and I can’t wait to guzzle some again.

The mysteriously delicious Almdudler

The mysteriously delicious Almdudler

Glϋhwein!

Glϋhwein…it’s just like mulled wine, so what’s not to love? It’s the warmth of Christmas in a cup, and with snowy scenes all around and cool mountain air nipping at your cheeks, it’s absolute perfection!

Ahh, gluhwein...I can almost taste it!

Ahh, gluhwein…I can almost taste it!

Mozart Balls!

Sounds odd but Mozart Chocolate Balls are literally in all the shops over in Austria I find, well imitations of the original ones are anyway.  Named after the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the original Mozart Balls are still produced by hand according to the original recipe and only sold in specialist shops and online, however there are many similar imitation balls (try to keep a straight face) which bear the composer’s face and you find these everywhere in Austria.

Chocolatey goodness with a famous composer's face emblazoned on them...what more could you want?

Chocolatey goodness with a famous composer’s face emblazoned on them…what more could you want?

Fondue!

A must on any ski trip is a fondue, in my book cheese is the best sort of fondue. However my meat loving travel companions often opt for a meat fondue which often leaves this as my only option. These are still good, often you dip small pieces raw beef or venison into hot oil or red wine and slowly cook them. It is pretty tasty I have to admit but cheese is my winner every time I’m afraid.

Cheesy goodness!

Cheesy goodness!

Strudel!

I love a bit of traditional Austrian strudel. Once on a ski trip the family who’s apartment we were renting baked us a traditional apple strudel dropped it off as a treat, it was lovely surprise that I’ll always remember.  Who could fail to enjoy a few fluffy layers of pastry with a sweet filling? I’m definitely having some strudel for pudding (so long as I don’t overdue the fondue before hand!).

Can't wait to get me some strudel!

Can’t wait to get me some strudel!

So there you have it, some foodie things I’m super excited about in Austria. Of course I am excited about the snow, the skiing, the scenery and showcasing my many hats too but food always seems to occupy my mind the most! There is one other thing I’m ridiculously, deliriously far too excited about…using this (my new Christmas pressie)…

My gorgeous new suitcase will make it's maiden voyage on this trip!

My gorgeous new suitcase will make it’s maiden voyage on this trip!

All in all, I’m feeling very lucky, loved and full of excitement. Just a few more weeks of busy working until I can jet off to the mountains xXx

Guest Post for Ember Wear

I do love my apres ski, whether it’s a cosy cup of hot chocolate or a warming glass of guhwein…you can read my list of apres ski favourites in a guest post I recently wrote for the nice people at Ember Wear. Head on over to the Ember Wear blog for the full list food and drink delights to enjoy after a day on the slopes.

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                                                                                              xXx

Alpine Adventures in Saas Fee

In my last post I excitedly explained I was heading off to the Swiss Alps for a spot of skiing, gluhwein and excessive cheese consumption…and what a wonderful week it was. I’m now back in the UK now and very much missing the Swiss scenery and mountain air, so naturally this post is all about the alpine adventures and foodie delights I enjoyed whilst in Saas Fee.

I’m actually not that much of a skier – not a proper one anyway. You probably won’t find me elegantly gliding down a black run, but I do enjoy a lovely run through the trees where you can stop to take in the views and get a few photos…

mountains1

mountains2

moutains3

Saas Fee was lovely resort with excellent skiing for those like me who prefer a more gentle pace! And as you can see the mountain scenery was simply stunning and the conditions were virtually perfect! We were so lucky, we even timed it right too – a lot of the time the slopes were empty…

empty2

empty1

empty slope 1

The town it’s self was lovely too, with some great restaurants (more on them later) and incredibly friendly, helpful people. When you’re not going to be skiing all-day-every-day, having a nice town to explore (and souvenir shop!) is really important.

saasfee

Of course there’s the all important Apres Ski to consider too…I’m not so into some of the euro music type bars you tend to find in ski resorts, this is more my scene…

hot choc

swiss beer

Luckily our hotel had cosy sofas and a fireplace to sit around and relax with a hot chocolate…and possibly a few alcoholic beverages too.

I can’t believe I’ve actually got this far into the entry without talking about the food! Obviously you’ve got to enjoy a fondue or two whilst you’re in the Alps…rather than the classic cheese, here’s a meat fondue we enjoyed…

fondue meat

You cook your meat in hot oil, or hot red wine stock and then dip it into one of the many accompanying sauces, yummy, although I’ll always prefer a cheese fondue. Luckily I got my fill of cheese at our hotel’s raclette night, where portion after portion of heavenly, gooey, molten cheese was consumed! There was also a cheese course every night in the hotel and of course, when in Europe, there’s cheese for breakfast too!

Not content with that I also enjoyed a traditional Swiss rösti, a national dish made mainly with potatoes…this one in particular also had cheese, onions and cured meats…

rosti

A major foodie highlight of the trip has to be out visit to Fletschhorn, a Michelin star restaurant and hotel up in the Alpine forest, it was an amazing experience from start to finish. The place is totally isolated up in the trees and is a little way outside of the main part of Saas Fee, so a driver comes to pick you up (in an electro buggy as Saas Fee is totally car free) and you head deeper and deeper into the forest, anticipation building as you gaze out of the window wondering what awaits you. It all feels very mysterious as you arrive and step inside, it’s a fairly small but really cosy and you just get a feeling that you’re somewhere special.

The food was fabulous, the menu was in French and German so I only understood the basics but the staff were able to explain everything perfectly, there were some really interesting dishes on the menu and a lot that I wished I could have tried. After much deliberation I opted for a winter vegetable quiche with goats cheese to start and some red mullet for my main and I have to say both were absolutely delicious, as were the lovely extras that came compliments of the chef…

To the best of my memory this little extra was a tempura prawn with a kind of curried, pumpkin seed velouté - it was heavenly!

To the best of my memory this little extra was a tempura prawn with a kind of curried, pumpkin seed velouté – it was heavenly!

quiche

The winter vegetable quiche with goats cheese

My main course of red mullet

My main course of red mullet

There was also an amazing tea menu - I opted for 'Casablanca Tea'

There was also an amazing tea menu – I opted for ‘Casablanca Tea’

 

Delightful little petit fours, compliments of the chef

Delightful little petit fours, compliments of the chef

At the end of the experience I was even given a little surprise gift to take home too!

Inside was a yummy little cake!

Inside the mysterious box was a yummy little cake!

All in all it was a just a fabulous trip, with fantastic food and wine, lovely people and lots of fun, I feel very lucky – if you’ve been at all tempted to consider a last minute ski trip at all then I’d definitely recommend Saas Fee.

Thanks to my travelling companions Tom and Joe for a great time!