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

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!

Fun & Fromage in Les Deux Alpes

A little while ago I went to Les Deux Alpes where I enjoyed some fantastic local dishes, drank some lovely wines, suffered a few hangovers…oh and did a bit of skiing, only a bit though, it was all about the fromage for me really.

Here’s our trip in pictures (thank you to Tom and Joe for most of these!)

The hotel…

Hotel Cote Brune - Highly Recommended

Adorable Alpine Chic Bedrooms!

A beautiful and perfectly located hotel, with friendly staff, good food and peaceful spa area.

The wine…(six bottles between five on the first evening)…*sore heads*

A lot of this lovely mountain wine was consumed

The Food…

Cheese heaven!

Escargot...garlicky goodness

Plenty of meat and hot stone cooking took place...

Crepes - a ski trip must!

Tartiflette - a delicious local speciality made with cheese, potatoes, bacon bits, cream...you get the idea!

The world's smallest salad (and this was a starter!)

Last but definitely not least it’s the raclette, heaven for cheese lovers like me…can you believe it…I’d never actually had one before this trip! To order a raclette there must be at least two people to enjoy it (partly why I’d never had one before)…So I’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thanks to Joe for manning up and sharing a raclette with me! It was awesome… in fact it was so awesome and exciting  that I forgot to take a photo…so here’s a picture very much resembling our raclette experience courtesy of Google Images…

 

Fromage Fantastique!

The Best Restaurant…

Crepes A GoGo - quirky, fun and good quality food...I cannot rate this restaurant highly enough!

Oh and the slopes…

Here I am taking in the beautiful scenery

Great memories of a great trip!

Lapsang Souchong…Marmite of the tea world

Right now it’s perfect weather for sipping Lapsang S0uchong  tea! I’m enjoying a soothing cupful right now. Okay, so there was only a little attempt a snow here in Winchester and it certainly wasn’t the foot deep snow experience other parts of the country have seen – still it’s felt bitterly cold out!

Anyone tea lovers who haven’t yet braved a cup of Lapsang should try it – it’s a bit of a Marmite in the tea world, people seem to detest it or adore it – but I’m definitely a Lapsang lover. It’s a smoky black tea, I believe the leaves are smoke-dried, which gives the distinct strong flavour. For me it feels like drinking an excellent cup of tea whilst stood by a warming bonfire. It smells amazing too, I find a lot of people won’t drink it but they love the smell of it.

Twinings make a lovely Lapsang Souchong blend – so if I’ve made you at all curious about this smoky tea I’d recommend trying this. I drink  mine like Earl Grey with a little dash of milk.