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?!

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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!

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…

Rifugio Blitz, Craveggia, Piemonte, Italy

A weekend in the Italian mountains, visiting some old friends in the most BEAUTIFUL setting. 45 minutes from Lake Maggiore, we are in for a treat! After a day on the lake on Saturday, we took it easy on Sunday, and had lunch at a local mountain restaurant.

We started off with the local charcuterie, which included salamis, coppa, prosciutto, and lardo… my favourite! Alongside this, some grilled aubergine (that didn’t have tons of taste) and a very nice bowl of white beans with celery which was pretty good.

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Then, as a main, we ordered one of each of the meats on the menu and a side of polenta for everyone. Check out that polenta, it looks like huge scoops of ice cream!

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And the meats…  There was a sliced pork in a brown sauce, a minced veal ragu, a veal in a citrusy, orange sauce (this was my favourite, and the one at the bottom of the picture, served with the slice of orange), and a beef dish, with a heavier red sauce. All good with the polenta, but the only standout was the veal with orange!

For dessert, fresh blueberries with whipped cream and an espresso. Apart from being the only vegetables or fruit I’d had all weekend (!!) this was the perfect end to the meal!

After this, a hike up to the top of the mountain to see the other side, along with grasshopper catching along the way… what a gorgeous afternoon!

Pharma, Mykonos

On our way to Alemagou, one of my favourite places on Mykonos, we saw that they were having a private party and going to kick us out after an hour at the lunch table… so instead decided to try the new restaurant, Pharma, that had opened up on the same road. It claims to be the first farm to table restaurant in Mykonos.

We started with some freshly-baked bread…

Then went for the Greek salad. As all of their vegetables are grown in their garden, they are quite local… the waiter went on and on about the tomatoes, which would be the best I’d ever tasted… and you know what They hardly had ANY taste at all! Pretty surprising…

But, sprinkled with feta and seasoned with peppers, onions, and large, juicy capers, the salad was still very good.

Here’s Andre at the restaurant, he isn’t super impressed by the tomatoes either…

And then, the local “pizza,” which was thick with roasted tomatoes, onions, and herbs… it was pretty good, but I found that the thickness of the dough outweighed the taste of the veggies… they probably needed to put more on!

But both main dishes were slam dunks… at the waiter’s suggestion, we ordered the pork belly souvlaki. I usually am not a huge fan of pork belly, but this one was amazing, with the fatty bits not too overpowering, and the meaty bits perfectly juicy and moist. With the spice rub that they used… this was absolutely delicious.

Their aubergine dip was also quite good, and we used the extra bread from the “pizza” to sop it up.

And finally, the rabbit. Cooked in a tomato sauce, it was also delicious, perfectly tender with an earthy taste to the sauce… yum.

You can see their garden behind the row of tables…

Definitely a place to come back to, as the food was good and the menu (and specials, as we ate mostly from the specials list!) was large.

Sol y Mar, Mykonos

Back in Mykonos for a few days, we decided to hit up a few of our favourite beaches and restaurants! Sol y Mar is really one of the best for food… so we went all out with a lunch feast!

We started with some fresh sea urchin….

And the Mykonian salad, which was topped with a huge piece of grilled haloumi and some samphire.

And the roast octopus leg… Andre was annoyed as it was definitely frozen octopus. When we asked the waiter about this, he said that they had always served frozen octopus there.. hm…

I still liked the crunchiness that cooking it on the grill made

Some mussels (yes, this was truly a feast…) served with fennel and feta

And the piece de resistance… the picanho steak that you cook yourself on the hot stone.

This was very fun to do, and you were able to cook the steak exactly as much (or little) as you wanted. They served it with regular salt, lemon salt and mustard that you could add to season the meat – delicious!

Here we are, surrounded by food… but what a meal!

L’Uzine, Vieux Port, Nice, France

The night before the Iron Man, Andre and I left his friends to go have a crazy night out, and we went out for a chilled dinner before an early bedtime (and a subsequent 4:30am start the next morning!)

… as ready as every, with his bracelets allowing him into the participants area, and his number tattoo on his arm…

We went for a few nicoise specialties, for the courgette flower stuffed with marscapone and mozzarella cheese. These were okay, but they had managed to mostly stuffed to stalk, not the flowers themselves, and they hadn’t seasoned the cheese mixture… To be honest, I have done better at home!

Then, the roasted red peppers… these were much better, soaked in a brine and then seasoned with scallions, olives and garlic, they had a nice, subtle flavour.

As a main, we each got the fillet mignon de porc, tender pork in an apricot sauce. The pork was well cooked, it was not too dried out and the sauce made it extra juicy… and important to me, the sauce was not too sweet… but as it was a sweet and savoury dish, it wasn’t my favourite.

What I did love was the puree (mashed potatoes) that came with it, there’s really nothing more delicious than French mashed potatoes, made with tons of butter and cream!