Carrefour, Verbier, Switzerland

A ski weekend with good friends out in Verbier… the January weather felt like we were in March or April, and we were blessed with sun every day! So, as you do, we sat out on a terrace at Carrefour.

As you can see, everyone had the same genius idea as us..

We all went for the healthy-ish option, a salad… with lardons and cheese 🙂 The salad was fresh (and real salad leaves, not this iceberg or romaine that you can hardly taste!) with tomatoes, olives, cucumber, egg, and carrot… very nice topped with chunks of cheese, some sliced Parmesan, and those delicious, crispy lardons! But the best part? The dressing. There were two dressings on the table, a regular, creamy vinaigrette and its sister, which came stuffed with herbs. I went for the herb version, and it made a real difference!

Overall, a healthy(ish) lunch with good company and some sunshine, what more could we want?!


Ella Canta, Mayfair

A girl’s night in early December, before the Christmas season properly kicked off… My friend Sara had been wanting to try Ella Canta, the Mexican restaurant that had recently opened in the Intercontinental Hotel by Martha Ortiz (better known for her restaurant Dulce Patria in Mexico City, which Sara had recently also been to and had an amazing experience). I am never one to say no to modern Mexican food, and expectations were high, so we tried it out!

After a margarita at the bar, we ordered a few appetisers to start… the guacamole, which was topped with ricotta and pomegranate (good, and we gobbled it up in about two seconds!) and the salmon tostadas, crispy chips topped with salmon escabeche, avocado, and a chipotle sauce. The tostadas were good, but a tiny morsel each… it would have been nice if they were slightly more substantial!

Next appetiser that came was the ceviche, which was also good but also small… sea bass ceviche topped with mango and a sangrita sorbet, it was called a vampire ceviche on the menu due to its colour!

They also kept bringing chips and salsas, both a red one and a green tomatillo one… we had about five of these, as both salsas were so good!

After this, the main dishes… Cindy had ordered the carnitas, whereas I ordered the cochinita al pibil. When our dishes arrived, we were sure that they switched them…

This was Cindy’s carnitas, which we both expected to be in shredded pieces… her pork was slow-cooked but not in pieces… served with an arbol chili sauce and a salad. I had a little taste and can attest that it was very good and very tender!

My cochinita pibil looked more like what I would have expected the carnitas to look like… as my pork was shredded… cooked in a delicious sauce with an anchiote paste on the side (the rust coloured sauce) and served with a black bean tortilla and black bean salad and some pickled onion, my dish was a good combinations of flavours!

Sara went for the soft-shell crab, served on a guajillo hummus and pineapple puree. I tasted a bit of her crab, that also was layered with tomatillos and radish, and it was much lighter and flakier than most soft shell crabs you get (that can sometimes be VERY fried). Yum!

Finally, it was dessert time, and we had a little room left, so we decided to share the cheesecake. It tasted like a US cheesecake, only more dense… we gobbled this up in seconds!

So what was the overall thought on Ella Canta? Everything tasted good, but not much was ground-breaking or amazing… it was “just” posh Mexican food. After Sara’s visit to Dulce Patria, we were expecting a bit more zing… and left dinner satisfied but not excited.

Soul & Surf, Varkala, India

Even further south than Cochin and Alleppy, we headed to a beach town that used to be mainly (foreign) hippies twenty years ago. Since then, more Indian tourists are coming to the beach, as well as more regular foreign tourists, and the vibe of the town has changed some.

We found a surf and yoga hotel to stay at… located on the South Cliff of Varkala Beach, Soul and Surf has a lovely garden where you can hang out on lawn chairs, cushioned beds, or at tables in the cafe. Staring out into the water all day is pretty relaxing… and when you want to get in the water, you just walk down the stairs and onto the beach.

The cafe at Soul & Surf has a number of healthy options, including a mix of salads, plantain tacos,  quesadillas, or, the most popular… the fish tacos! I had these three times while we were in Varkala.

The fish tacos use a firm white fish (quite meaty!), slightly fried, with a light, delicious coleslaw and pomegranate seeds. Then, you have a pineapple salsa and raita/yogurt you can drizzle as toppings.

The portion is quite generous, after eating two of these tacos you’re pretty much stuffed…

Definitely worth a stop when you’re in Varkala, this is one of the coolest places in town!

Houseboat in Alleppy, Kerala


From Cochin, we continued south into the backwaters of Kerala and spent a night on a houseboat. The houseboat we had booked in advance was fine, not luxurious but also not falling apart like some of the ones we saw… and though we thought that we had a boat to ourselves for the night, at the last minute (the boat was running late as they had miscalculated what we owed them, then took an hour to figure it out), they brought on a straggler (who had probably showed up last minute and they thought, why not add him to a boat already leaving?!) Annoying as we wanted the boat to ourselves, but he was good about leaving us on the upper terrace platform mainly to ourselves, and had a varied background that was interesting to talk about over meals.

For dinner, the boat provides you with cooked vegetables and a chicken curry. In the late afternoon, they stop off at a fishmongers and you can supplement the dinner with what ever fish or seafood you buy.

So… we picked up some tiger prawns that they grilled for us after putting on a spicy paste… and they were fresh, juicy and had a nice kick to them.


Alongside this, Yoshi, our travel partner for the evening, had picked up some king fish, which they somehow cajoled him into buying at a size much to big for himself… so when they brought out both grilled fish and a fish curry, he begged us to have some… the curry was a thin and watery tomato and coconut-based curry that did the job…


And then there was the chicken curry that came with our dinner… honestly, I didn’t even get to taste this, as I was already so full from the prawns, fish and veggies…


The lentils, our injection of vegetable protein…


And the vegetable dishes, an okra thorens (basically an okra stir-fry with coconut) that was almost as good as the okra stir-fry we had had at Oceans in Cochin and some deliciously-cooked potatoes in mustard seeds, curry leaves and spice. I have to say, this is my favorite way to eat potatoes, I usually find them quite boring unless they’re pan-fried or mashed, but this is a great different way to eat them that I also need to work on perfecting at home!


Watching the sunset from our perched terrace, we watched other houseboats float by and find docking places for the evening… and watched the electric-colored sun sink into the horizon…


Oceans, Fort Cochin, Kerala

After Varanasi ,we switched it up and headed down south to Kerala. Kerala is very different from the north, much less hectic, more tropical, and with completely different food… Kerala is the most educated state in India, with a 93% literacy rate, and has the most diverse religious makeup, with only 50% Hindus.

Colonized by both the Portuguese and the Dutch, the old Fort area of the Cochin still has many buildings with colonial architecture and houses some of the oldest Catholic churches in India.


After walking around the old town, we decided to stop for a bite and checked out our options… A curry place and Oceans were the two that people kept recommending… and as we walked up to Oceans (we liked the idea of some seafood!), it was already pretty packed and had a “no reservations” sign on the door… probably a good sign.


And we ordered a feast. I must say, it took quite a while to get to us, Andre ordered a coffee and that took about 25 minutes… and the rest, about an hour… but the food was worth the wait.

First in line with the okra fry, okra cooked with crispy shallots… we gobbled this down in a few minutes and ordered another batch right away – it was probably just the taste of the fried shallots that got to us, but cooked that way, the okra wasn’t slimy (a bit issue cooking okra) and had a nice crunch to it as well… this is a dish I’d like to be able to make at home!

On the side, I got the king prawns in a green mango curry, which the waiter recommended (the curry, not the prawns… they list the prawns then about ten different ways that they’ll serve them to you, so it was difficult to decide…) and the curry was fine… to be honest, nothing especially exciting, it tasted like some sort of tomato-y gravy that the prawns had been cooked in. But the prawns themselves were delicious, if only I had chosen the right sauce…


Andre’s dish was a bit better, he picked the tuna in a traditional coconut cream and pepper sauce with tamarind… I am not a huge fan of tuna, so found the fish itself just okay, but the sauce was like crack… I’d steal spoonfuls of it to have on my rice, it had such a nice flavor.


So thoughts about one of the most highly recommended restaurants in Fort Cochin? Definitely go, it’s worth the vast seafood menu (and frankly, the veggie dishes stand up by themselves!) of different flavors… along with the number of local and Goan dishes, you can even pick from Portuguese or Italian dishes as well!

Baradari, Jaipur City Palace, Jaipur, India

Next, on to Jaipur, we walked all morning and visited a surprisingly interesting outdoor museum of sun-dials and other astrological feats, then went to visit the Jaipur City Palace. By the time we were done, we were starving, so went to check out the restaurant within the palace walls. And I’m glad we did!

There’s a small veranda with outdoor seats, some covered and some out in the sun, with some dining tables and a bar… very civilised!

We both ended up going for iterations of paneer and veggie dishes… Andre had the vegetarian soyta with haryali paneer… basically, a mix of spices and vegetables cooked in a grain (that Andre said basically tasted like a more moist quinoa), a sambar and the main, a skewer of roasted paneer, onions, peppers and tomatoes in a green chili marinade. I enjoyed picking this off this plate 🙂

I went for a similar dish, with roasted paneer and veggies in a red chilli marinade, with falafel, hummus and moutabal (aubergine dip) on the side, along with an herbed couscous.

My red chilli and Andre’s green chilli tasted pretty similar… and were both very good, moist paneer and crispy veggies.

… so much so, that the next day, at a loss of where to go for lunch, we came back to the same place! Andre got his meal again, and I got this below… I can’t remember what it’s called, but its basically plant stalks (erm, no idea what kind…) with black beans in a curry sauce with cashews… and it was very good.

Then we hiked up to the fort on the hill and took all the pictures…

Hot Wok Kitchen, Holloway Road, London

A Friday when I was out and about, I stopped by a local place that I had been eyeing on Holloway Road after a meeting.

Hot Wok is always filled with people, and I do love my Asian food, so I decided today was a good day to try it out! The menu contains a mixed of Asian foods, all kinds of noodles from pad thai to stir-fried noodles, Chinese noodle soups and pho to laksa, and other stir-fried dishes.

As it was cold out and I was craving a heavier soup, I went for the Singapore laksa with tofu. It was darker and less creamy (ie, less coconut milk) than your typical laksa, with lots of spring onion, sprouts and tofu. The only thing I found weird was the noodles, they had put both vermicelli (which I love) and egg noodles (which I don’t so much) in the soup – I’m not sure if that’s their typical thing or if they had just run out of one kind of noodle… but it wasn’t great.

But, the soup was good and everyone else looked like they were enjoying their food too… so I’ll be back to try some other dishes soon!