My style lentil soup

Lentil soup – a typical cold season soup that makes you feel warm all over and provides you with a good, substantial meal. So many versions are out there: German, Spanish, French, Indian ones and so many more, I am sure – so this is my take on lentil soup. It’s fairly easy to make and not very time consuming, so definitely something for the newbie cook, but it will also surprise the gourmets amongst us since it is so tasty.

LentilSoup

Ingredients for 4 servings:

butter

1/2 white onion – chopped

5 slices of bacon – cut into strips

500ml of vegetable stock

3-4 carrots (depending on size) – chopped

2-6 firm cooking potatoes (depending on size – don’t use too many – the ones I use are not very big, so I use max. 6) – cut into cube-like pieces

1 jar of lentils (580gr gross weight – drained weight should be around 420gr but we don’t bother about that one since we make use of the liquid as well) or the equivalent of dried lentils soaked in water over night

1/2 leak – split in quarters lengthwise and chopped up

200gr Wiener sausages – cut into round, 3mm thick slices

salt & freshly ground pepper

2 TBSPs white wine or white balsamic vinegar (according to taste)

2 TSPs raw sugar (according to taste)

some parsley – chopped

some chives – chopped

Cooking directions:

Melt a piece of butter in a cooking pot, so all its base is covered; lower to a medium heat. Add the chopped up onion and stir. Add the bacon strips and mix with the onion. Let cook until slighly roasted. Add the chopped carrots and mix everything. Let it simmer for about 2mins. Add the vegetable stock, a pinch of salt and the potatoes, and bring to a boil. Let it boil during 7mins, then add the lentils (with their liquid), the leak and the Wiener slices. Let it boil until carrots and potatoes are fully cooked. Season to taste with salt, pepper, vinegar and raw sugar (the vinegar/ sugar combination is the big taste secret in this recipe). Add parsley & chives. Enjoy 🙂 !

LentilSoupCooking

Cooking advise:

Let the soup sit at least during 2hs to allow its taste to develop. Most soups and stews taste better the next day.

For a vegetarian version leave out bacon and use vegetarian sausages accordingly. For a vegan version use a high quality sunflower or rice bran oil instead of butter.

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chök: Where dreams of Chocoholics (and Homer S.) come true

Since we moved to Barcelona’s city centre, and especially the Raval district, we have always enjoyed roaming the streets and discovering new curiosities and special cafés, restaurants, shops, etc. whenever possible. One of those discoveries was made a long time ago – around their first opening actually – and we have been going back for more ever since.

chök shop

Step into another century combined with an exclusive modern design while visiting chök located just off La Rambla

‘chök the chocolate kitchen’ (http://www.chokbarcelona.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/ChokBcn) is located just off La Rambla at the beginning of Calle del Carme, and therefore super easy to find & reach (Green L3 Metro Line stop is Liceu) when in need of a delicious chocolate fix for a 2nd breakfast or the Spanish merienda (afternoon tea time), or whenever really. ‘chök’ is what makes the heart of every chocoholic jump with infinite joy: choose between the grand variety of their always changing chöks (a gourmet doughnut with less sugar, less fat & fried for less time), krönuts (the love story between the classical croissant & the well-known doughnut), chocolate glazed marshmallows, chocolate truffles, chocolate muffins, cookies, etc. and have your chocolate fix inside the beautiful old shop that used to be an antique bonbonería (candy and chocolate shop, that also roasted & sold coffee), dating back to 1850, or get your chök & coffee to go while strolling down La Rambla towards the port.

chök selection

A current special is the Apfelstrudel chök (on the left side)

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My fave chök: the dark chocolate glazed, Fleur-de-Sel chök

Marvel at the wooden shelfs and ceiling and it’s beautiful carved ornaments typical of Barcelona’s Modernisme movement, while discovering other chocolate products such as chocolate pasta or chocolate porter.

chök pasta

chök porter

Most important: take your time and enjoy the friendly atmosphere and beautiful space that owner Débora & staff created. They will do their very best to make your visit a delicious experience, and their expertise and loving attention towards customers, products and detail won’t fail your expectations. All their products are being prepared on a daily basis in the visible chocolate kitchen in the back of the shop. Watch how Débora and Marcia fill their berliners or create such delicacies as chocolate chili truffles with the utmost respect for the product, emphasing on quality, detail and supreme ingredients.

crema catalana krönut

Crema Catalana Krönut in the making

chöks

Pick your chök from a great variety

One thing that startled me from the beginning was the rather untypical & creative name ‘chök’. It is actually derived from the Norwegian word ‘kök’ which stands for ‘kitchen’ and combined with ‘chocolate’ it became ‘chök the chocolate kitchen’. Débora & her staff also offer chocolate cooking classes, combining chocolate with typically savoury dishes (see website). You can also challenge your chocolate cooking skills at home with the help of their cookbook ‘Gourmet Chocolate – Reinventing sweet and savoury’, which also makes for a great Barcelona souvenir or gift for the cook/ gourmet in your life.

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One thing is for sure: if you are a chocoholic, an American cop or Homer Simpson, you will definitely love chök and will always come back for more – and honestly, who could resist such a sweet paradise:

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Owner Débora presenting the daily mouth-watering, beautiful selection of chöks & krönuts

Fleurs Place – or the place where I’d have lunch every day for the rest of my life

This blog post is long overdue and so I am happy & excited I finally found the right moment to write it. After returning from our beautiful, amazing, stunning, marvellous & *nowordscouldeverdescribethatfeeling* honeymoon in New Zealand, I am feeling incomplete. I am sure, I left a big, huge chunk of myself & my heart on the South Island of Aotearoa and now I have to live with this until we are able to return. And one place to return to is Fleurs Place.

Fleur's Place

So it was this gorgeous sunny Saturday morning in Dunedin and after a stroll along Otago Farmers Market (http://www.otagofarmersmarket.org.nz/) including a beautiful latte and pastries, of course!, we made our way to the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Colony (check out the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Trust http://yellow-eyedpenguin.org.nz/ to find out how you can help this endangered species). With the help of our expert guide, we watched these majestic birds from a safe distance (and I don’t mean safe for us – it’s more about making them feel safe from us) and even discovered a chick (if you should ever go to New Zealand, you shouldn’t miss out on this experience and the staff from 4Nature Tours is super experienced, helpful and keen to provide environmentally friendly tours http://www.4nature.co.nz/).

Yellow-Eyed Penguin

A Yellow-Eyed Penguin watching its chick

After walking up and down the cliffs, trying to avoid death-trap-like rabbit holes, we all felt it was time for a great & tasty lunch and luckily our guide Joanne had recommened Fleurs Place (http://www.fleursplace.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fleurs-Place/283579521839354?fref=ts) much in advance and booked a table accordingly (which is something indispensable to do).

Fleurs Board

When we arrived at the restaurant located just next to the tiny bay of the small village Moeraki, we were immediately enchanted by the peace & beauty that surrounded us. Fleurs Place looks like a charismatic fishermen’s hut and features collectables like old anchors, wooden-framed windows, antique crayfish traps, boats, etc. that its owner, Fleur, collected.

Fleur's Collectables

Fleur Sullivan, a well-known local for her contribution towards NZ tourism & gastronomy, opened Fleurs Place back in 2002 and is serving delicicious dishes made from fresh, local & seasonal ingredients, emphasising on local fish dishes with a personal twist. Not being a seafood/ fish lover myself, I ordered the fish of the day which was Blue Cod (it comes with the freshest, local & seasonal veggies cooked to perfection plus a choice of four different sauces – the Chilli, Coconut & Coriander Sauce was incredibly mouth-watering!!) and it was so delicious (plus it was a stunning piece of art that came on a plate and I am a person that definitely eats with their eyes first) that on from that point I started living on Blue Cod and similar while being in NZ (and I made it through Blue Cod, Elephant Fish, Blue Warehou & Groper). The quality of all the ingredients used for the elaboration of Fleur’s dishes is supreme. You can basically watch them pull up the day’s catch from the Moeraki fishing boats to the restaurant’s own filleting station. Since we came to the conclusion on different occasions, that everything’s the other way around in the Southern Hemisphere, I am pleased to say the oceans in the Northern Hemisphere are safe from me, but Fleurs Place is the place where I’d choose & love to have fish for lunch for the rest of my life if I had the chance to.

Fleurs Food

Kia mākona

And just before losing the interest & attention of all you vegans & vegetarians out there: vegan and vegetarian dishes are created to order! Ah, and not to mention the amazing desserts!!

Fleurs Desserts

On the left: Berry Eton Mess (your taste buds will go crazy); On the right: Crème Brûlée (to die for!!)

If like me you can’t get enough of Fleur’s delicacies, I recommend getting the book ‘fleurs place – simple, fresh, naturally good food’ by Graham Warman and Paul Sorrell, which can be purchased directly in the restaurant or online. Of course, I couldn’t resist and asked most inspiring, charismatic owner Fleur Sullivan to sign my copy which she happily did. And this is the best souvenir a foodie like me could possibly get from beautiful Aotearoa – Fleurs Place’s recipes and my memories will surely help me with my aching, lovesick heart and transport me to the place that owns a big part of it. Kia Ora, Fleurs Place!

Fleur14

Fleur Sullivan signing my copy of ‘fleurs place – simple, fresh, naturally good food’

Moeraki Boulders

After a most satisfying lunch we headed towards the Moeraki Boulders, located up North alongside the coast from Fleurs Place, and enjoyed the magical scenery at one of the world’s most beautiful beaches