Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The farmer's market in Vevey, Switzerland

I love reading about other people's splendid farmers' markets. Probably because I am not so happy with mine: the Kollwitzmarket has had its days. While real farmers' markets open in the dawn, this one is built up at 10 am. There are two serious vendors for vegetables and fruits next to one decent stall for cheese and one for fresh pasta. The rest are imho bits and bobs with no special links to Berlin or Brandenburg. As to the clientele you spot more buggies, tourists and dandering folks (commonly ridiculed as the Bionade-Biedermeier fraction) than serious buyers. I am usually done with my round in fifteen minutes and directly head to the stores to procure what was not available at the market. And gee, is that frustrating.

I know that I am not at all in a position to whine. I have read about supermarket shortages in American cities, especially in NYC and learned that food supply in big cities is not a matter of course. Let alone local produce supply.
And I read the
fabulous blog of Bridget's who bakes and cooks the most fabulous things in the deserts of New Mexico. Or of Jen's, who lives in the mountains of Colorado. They have to find their ways, too.

But I also watched Catherine visiting her farmer's market in LA and was staggered. I mean, how hard is it to make good food when you can get everything fresh and local?

Last weekend I visited another market that marvels me again and again.
Vevey is a small town at Lake Geneva with view of the spectacular Valais Alps and the Mont Blanc massif. Twice a week this charming farmers' market takes place at the town's center.

Two reasons why my Swiss food experiences belong to the best ones:
great quality of local produce and the lack of affordable gastronomy.

As to the latter: nowhere in whole of Switzerland you can order and scarf down a menu for ten bucks and I believe that is why all my Swiss friends are dedicated home cooks, bakers and creative picnicers :)

As to the former: I can tell from a Korean cooking experience in the Swiss mountains that gathering exotic produce is very difficult there. But in return, the range of regional specialities and organic produce of excellent quality is abundant. You never hear of mass production and overproduction. Instead, most of what is produced there seems to be consumed within the country. (That's why it is so hard get a bottle of wine from the lovely Lavaux region in foreign stores btw.)
My host told me that recently the Swiss take regional produce even more serious so that in the two big supermarket chains (Migros and Coop) you can get produce from
within the community (!) border.

I returned with a handful of chocolate candies, some cheese (Gruyère, Vacherin Fribourgeois, Sbrienz), herbs and spices in the luggage and wished to have less choices but more locally linked produces at home.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

favorite links

Without context let me throw in some of my revolutionary finds in the www :)

1. Rare touching historical photographs of Koreans. Rare because they belong to the Cornell University Library. Touching because these people before the industrialization era (for Koreans that was only 100 years ago) look so innocent, vulnerable and still jauntily.

You can find personal captures here together with more sources. (Btw altough its name indicates a different cuisine missboulette is one of the finest Korean food and culture readings out there, check it out!).

2. Any idea, where and how I can get to see the episodes of Kimchi chronicles? I am desperate to see Hugh Jackman's kitchen and watch him cooking Kimchi. I really am.

3. I have a dream dish that after a lazy summer at the cooking front, I will make true. Promise.

4. Ms Maangchi, the Youtube cooking star with a big sense of humour, will be on a global tour beginning this fall. If you want to learn Korean cooking from her in person, sign up now. She is from Busan, where my family comes from as well and maybe that's why I totally agree with her recipes.

Lunch @ FACIL*, Berlin

When it comes to food Rococo is out and Purism is in. At least whenever I chat online with other foodies it seems to be consensus that the simple, regional, pure, classic dishes are the utmost appreciated ones now.

The FACIL at the Mandala Hotel Berlin is a pure and classy place with exquisite modern food.

Contrary to what is stated in some reviews, it is not a roof top restaurant (it isn't even located at the higher levels of the hotel) but thanks to the light flooded roof, high glass walls and a leafy terrace you instantly feel up in the air. There you can eavesdrop the fountains...
Which comes a little unexpected as you enter it at the noisiest spot at Potsdamer Platz (btw there aren't really noisy places in this city...).

The restaurant is not so small but not so big either that you would ever risk being neglected by the staff. And even better, the atmosphere is chic but not stiff.

We had a main course and desert together with two amouse-bouches. Creatively composed yet straight dishes made of classical German ingredients. I loved all. And the wine. And omg how I loved the table setting!

Naturally speaking you can prevent too hefty price tags during lunch :) If you come with several people it is advisable and probably polite to book ahead.

You can find an extensive review here .

An interview with the chef Michael Kempf (both text in German) here.

Photo credit: the last two pics via the Mandala website.

FACIL, Potsdamer Str. 3.

Monday til Friday from noon and from 7 pm.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Millefeuille @ Albrechts Patisserie, Prenzlauer Berg

In terms of refined bread, especially crispy white bread and sourdough bread, this city is a desert. Maybe somewhere within the vast city borders there is a skilled artisan baker still waiting to shoot to fame but at least in the nine years that I have kept looking for him, we haven't come across.

But in terms of pastry, even french pastry, I have all my heart desires at any time within a minute's walk - hooray! My favorite supplier is Albrechts in Rykestr. Since its pastry chef started her business there, its goodies have been reliable special treats and though being a customer for years, I still feel excitement whenever I enter this place.

The list of pastries varies a lot according to the season and the quality of the ingredients is superb. They also deliver individual wedding cakes. For any first-time guests I recommend the glorious millefeuille!

Albrechts Patisserie, Rykestr. 39. Everyday until 7 pm.

There are two other cafés in Schöneberg and Charlottenburg.


1. Beautiful Rykestreet with view of the television tower.

2. Spoilt for choice.

3. Pretty interior & exterior.

4. How to transport the beauties safely on a bike: use the bike-lock to fix the paper box. This way you don't have to crawl at a snail's pace :)

5. You see? Everything arrived safe and sound after a 1-2 km ride.

6. Hate to say this but if ever one can buy happiness, this would be pretty much it for me :)