Do you know Ovomaltine (or Ovaltine UK/USA)? Well, if you are Swiss you certainly do, since Ovomaltine could probably be called one of our national beverages. According to Ovomaltine  99% of the Swiss know Ovomaltine and it is among the 20 most popular brands in Switzerland. Ovomaltine was originally developed in 1904 by a pharmacist as a nurturing product for children and sick people. It is an instant powder with barley malt as a main ingredient designed to be dissolved in warm or cold milk and has a unique malty taste. The original Ovomaltine contains no refined sugar and is only available in Switzerland. The reason why Ovomaltine is called Ovaltine in many other countries is a misselling in the trademark registration when Ovomaltine was exported to Britain in 1909. Ovomaltine/ Ovaltine is now available in more than 100 countries.

Nowadays a lot of Swiss children still have a cup of Ovomaltine for breakfast because children like it and so do their parents, many of them particularly for the fact that it provides their kids with energy while not containing any refined sugars. But not only children but also adults drink Ovomaltine and love it for its unique malty taste. Back when I went to primary school, I was known to love Ovomaltine as I always had my Ovomaltine with me on school trips. My love for Ovomaltine continued with the years and when Ovomaltine was searching for “Ovomaltine ambassadors” (for one year) almost a year ago, I simply had to apply. In December 2011 I received a letter saying that I was one of the 20 lucky ones and I was jumping for joy! 🙂

My year as an Ovomaltine ambassador has been a blast so far! We are provided with a lot of products for ourselves and to share with friends and family. Needless to say that my popularity status has risen significantly over the course of this years. 😉 One of the highlights was certainly the skiing weekend in March at the Swiss Skiing Championships where we met Didier Cuche, a Swiss skiing legend and Ovomaltine ambassador for a long time. We even went skiing with him for a day which felt quite unreal. This past weekend all of us Ovomaltine ambassdors were invited to the restaurant Uto Kulm for an Ovomaltine Brunch. The restaurant is located on top of the “Üetliberg”, the local mountain of ZĂŒrich and a great lookout point, especially when the weather is as beautiful as it was on Sunday. We had a really good time together, the variety on the brunch buffet was pretty impressive and the food delicious. And again we were introduced to a member of the Swiss Skiing Team and Ovomaltine ambassador, Patrick KĂŒng. The Ovomaltine team really spares no effort to spoil us (temporary) Ovomaltine ambassadors. A huge thank you to everyone from Ovomaltine!

*Throughout this year I have been and will be provided with Ovomaltine products and have been invited to events. All words and opinions are my own, however.

Skiing Weekend w/ Didier Cuche

Ovomaltine Brunch

Ovomaltine Muffins/BunsOvomaltine Ambassadors

View from Üetliberg


Plum Crumble

About two weeks ago I stumbled upon on a link on “Happyolk’s” facebook page, clicked on it and the word “ZĂŒrich” in the header immediately caught my eye. Being Swiss myself and not having come across many (or any?) Swiss foodblogs, I got really excited! The blog’s name is “House to Haus” and in the tagline it said “Greetings from ZĂŒrich, Switzerland” (not anymore, it has just been changed). ZĂŒrich happens to be the city where I go to university, so “she” (I couldn’t find out her name yet) apparently lives close to where I live. Then I clicked on “About” and found out that this was actually a blog of an Amercian expat living in ZĂŒrich. Another proof that (food)blogs haven’t yet really arrived here in Switzerland. Anyhow, I was really happy about my finding and even more so when I started going through the latest posts on “House to Haus“, “Happyolks” hadn’t promised too much saying “You’ll be  a forever fan”!

The latest post called “a zĂŒrich plum crumble” seemed particularly appealing since I love plums but they won’t be in season for much longer and so I decided to get some plums and give the recipe a go. It turned out really good, the crumble had a nice and crunchy crust from the mixture of oat flour and oats and the plums were soft and gooey, everything you’d want in a crumble. I didn’t have any cassis, so I left that out and it was still delicious. You can find the recipe here. Oh, and I served the crumble with this mascarpone ice cream, which I cannot recommend highly enough, it’s so easy to make and so good!

Plum pancakes

In between all my posts on London, I thought it was time I came up with a recipe for a change. I wanted to try something new for brunch on Sunday  and so I went through my bookmarked foodblogs to get some inspiration. Needless to say I found a whole lot of great ideas (isn’t it simply overwhelming how big the foodblogger community is and how much great content you can find?!) and in the end decided on a recipe from Fig and Fauna that sounded just perfect to me with the spelt flour, the goat milk and the plums. I didn’t have goat milk on hand but the millet milk I used with its light, sweet taste turned out to go really well with the pancakes too. These pancakes were really everything I had wished for on that Sunday morning, quite the ultimate breakfast treat. (PS: Don’t you just love this maple syrup canister?)

PLUM PANCAKES (slightly adapted from Fig and Fauna)

  • 120 g (1 cup) spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk (I used millet, Fig and Fauna used goat, you can use any)
  • 1 tbsp liquid sweetener (light honey, agave syrup)
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil (+more for cooking) (melted butter, ghee or coconut oil)
  • 2-3 plums, halved and sliced thinly
  • honey or maple syrup to serve

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt. In a separate bowl combine egg, milk, sweetener of choice and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined, but do not over stir.

Heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet over medium low. Pour some batter (depending on how large you like your pancakes, Fig and Fauna suggests 1/2 cup) on the sizzling skillet and gently place the plum slices on top of the pancake. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with honey or maple syrup.

London Day Three

During our stay my friend (L) and I visited “Le Pain Quotidien” quite a few times. “Le Pain Quotidien” is an organic restaurant chain that has stores ALL over London and one of their stores was just around the corner of our B&B and so we went there to grab some of their bread first thing in the morning before heading over to Marylebone on Sunday, had dinner once (the chanterelle and chickpea soup is really good) and on Monday morning I tried their Granola Parfait in their store next to Borough Market (we had headed for Monmouth for the second time, this time it was closed because of a Bank Holiday). The Granola Parfait seemed to be really popular as I had seen a lot of people ordering it and it looked very pretty. After my first bite, I was really happy with my joice, I loved the fresh fruit on top, the joghurt and the granola that wasn’t overly sweet. My kind of breakfast treat. L and I decided that we really needed “Le Pain Quotidien” in Switzerland, since we don’t have anything like this chain that has take-away options, is well-priced and sells fresh, delicious organic food. Funnily enough, after I got home and browsed the internet for a little more information on “Le Pain Quotidien”, I found out that they already have stores in two Swiss cities, one of them being ZĂŒrich where I go to university. I will definitely give that one a go soon.

Granola Parfait

Then we took the “Thames Path” once again to walk over to the Tate Modern where we spent the rest of our morning. The temporary exposition in the basement was not so much our thing but we really liked the expositions called “Transformed Visions” and “Poetry and Dream”. After that we crossed the Millennium Bridge and had a look at St. Paul’s Cathedral and then continued to Covent Garden and Picadilly.

St. Paul’s

In the late afternoon we took the bus to Islington  because we had both never been to that area and had heard good things of it. We liked the area a lot, came across a lot of smaller lovely shops, it wasn’t crowded at all and we had one of our best meals at a restaurant called “The Elk in the Woods”. I already loved it the moment we entered. To me it looked like a classic pub with a modern twist, a lot of wood combined with fancy wallpaper (feel free to correct me if I am writing utter nonsense!). Since we were in a pub, I had to order a cider and the one I got was huge (probably just normal) and sooo good. I also loved what it said on the label:

Then I had their “beetroot and carrot houmous with pitta” and the “halloumi with homemade preserved lemons”. All I can say is that I loved every bite of what I had. I also got to try some of my friends “pea guacamole” which was equally delicious. For dessert we had the “apple and rum crumble with custard” which was hands down the best crumble I had ever tasted! We really enjoyed our dinner at “The Elk in the Woods” a lot and I cannot recommend it highly enough to you. The service was also great and I found it all really well-priced. If you go there (and you really should), don’t miss out on the restrooms, even those are brilliant at this place 😉 . http://www.the-elk-in-the-woods.co.uk/

London Day Two

On Sunday morning we got up a little late since we had been to the Kensington Roof Gardens the night before. It’s an amazing place, imagine a rooftop garden with a flowing streem with fishes and flamingos, lots of colourful flowers and trees and oriental lounges. Unfortunately it was raining that night and we could not really enjoy the gardens but had a lot of fun anyways. http://www.roofgardens.virgin.com/

So on Sunday morning we wanted to explore the area of Marylebone and walked from our B&B in Notting Hill to Marble Arch and then headed for Marylebone High Street. The sun was shining and warming us up and I was very excited for breakfast at “La Fromagerie”. It was very easy to find and the cafĂ© was simply stunning. In the entrance there were fruit and vegetable stalls and inside shelves full of homemade jams, honeys, chutneys, flours, and counters full of bread, pastries, granolas and so on. And of course there was the (seperate) Cheese Room with an overwhelmingly big range of soft and hard cheeses. After we were seated (we had to wait a little), I ordered a cappuccino and the “Boiled Egg with Soldiers” which came with butter and sea salt flakes on the side. My friend had a “Pain aux Raisins” and the “Breakfast Pot” with granola, yoghurt and fruit compot. Everything was just perfect. Even if I am usually more of a sweet breakfast eater, I liked the combination of the granary bread with butter and sea salt flakes so much that I ordered more bread. The staff was also very lovely and we enjoyed our breakfast a lot. http://www.lafromagerie.co.uk/tasting-cafe/

Breakfast at La Fromagerie

Next stop was Marylebone Farmers’ Market just around the corner. I was again amazed at the beautiful range of produce. I think I liked it even a little more than Notting Hill Farmers’ Market but to be fair we had arrived there quite late. One of the things I loved most were the colourful apple/fruit juices at “Chegworth Valley Juices”, the pepper crusted goat cheeses and the cheesecakes at “Windrush Valley Goat Dairy” and the beautiful vegetables at “Akiki Organics”. I just wished I were able to cook with all those beautiful ingredients. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/marylebone/

Chegworth Valley Juices

Windrush Valley Goat Dairy

After that we were ready to get to know Marylebone a little better and went up Marylebone High Street further. It is a beautiful area, great for shopping (you can find stores like “Skandium”, “Le Creuset”, “The White Company”, …), eating and if you walk up the street all the way you reach Regent’s Park, a great place for a picknick or to simply have a rest (which we visited on another day). I also stumbled upon a bookstore called “Daunt Books” that I loved (it also had a wide range of cookbooks in stock 🙂 ). http://www.dauntbooks.co.uk/

The Village of Marylebone has a great website with all the restaurants and shops that is really worth visiting: http://www.marylebonevillage.com/en/marylebone-village/index.cfm

London Day One

We arrived in London early in the morning and headed straight for our Bed and Breakfast to drop off our luggage. Our B&B was just around the corner of Notting Hill Gate tube station and since Notting Hill is one of my favorite areas in London, the location was just perfect. When we entered the road, we knew that we had chosen the right place. The houses looked just as lovely as we had imagined, it was calm yet animate with a restaurant just beside our B&B and cheerful people on the streets. The B&B itself was also great and our host, Hilary charming and very helpful. We did not have breakfast at her place (I asked for a room without breakfast since I had so many places on my list and we were given a discounted rate), but we had a kettle in our room to make tea (Clipper!) and coffee and there was a fruit basket and cookies. Our en-suite bathroom was huge which we loved. Hilary even made our bed and brought us fresh towels once. I cannot recommend her B&B highly enough! http://www.26hillgateplace.co.uk/

Right after dropping off our luggage, we went to the Notting Hill Famers’ Market around the corner and boy, it was beautiful. I would love to show you a few pictures but I was just too hungry and forgot to take pictures once I held that glorious food in my hands. I tried Irish Soda bread for the first time at the stall of Celtic Bakers and happened to love it! I bought half a loaf of it and had it with amazing tomatos from The Tomato Stall. Everything else looked great as well and if you happen to be in London on a Saturday, you should definitely go there. http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/notting-hill/

With satisfied bellies we went on to Portobello Road Market since my friend had never been there before. The market takes places on Saturdays as well and happens to be very crowded and touristy on that day but is something you have to see once even if I prefer the area on other days.

On the way to Borough Market

And on we went to the next market… 🙂 Borough Market that is. I went there for the first time and simply loved the place, even if it was quite crowded and touristy as well. I would recommend to go early in the morning though. I was one happy girl when I spotted “Monmouth Coffee Company” but then I saw the huge queue in front and we decided that we had to postpone our visit since we both needed a coffee badly. Before leaving the market, we went for a quick visit of “Neal’s Yard Dairy”, “Gelateria 3Bis” and “Aesop”, all around the corner of “Monmouth Coffee Company” and places that are not to be missed. http://www.boroughmarket.org.uk/

Long queues in front of “Monmouth”

I had another place in mind that was said to have great coffee but was not really sure how far away it was. We decided to walk anyways and took the “Thames Path” (http://www.thames-path.org.uk/) which was lovely and very peaceful but took us longer than I had tought. In the end we were rewarded with great coffee at a great place, Fernandez and Wells at Somerset House. Somerset House is one of my favourite buildings in London and it has great expositions and free guided tours. Just make sure you get there ahead of time since the tours are often booked up. If you do so, you should spend your waiting time at “Fernandez and Wells”, have a great coffee and enjoy some of their pastries. I had a slice of gluten-free/dairy-free clementine and chocolate cake and it was amazing. http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/ http://fernandezandwells.com/somerset-house.php

Cakes at Fernandez and Wells

Then happened what had to happen in London. 🙂 The rain started to pour down. Luckily we were still inside the cafe and were able to wait until the worst had passed. After some time we decided to leave though, even if it still rained quite heavily and we arrived at our B&B with soaking wet feet. Just make sure you always (!) put on waterproof shoes in London and don’t let the blue skies in the morning fool you!

London Love

Last Wednesday I returned home from a five day trip to London. It was my third visit to London and I seem to fall in love more with this city each time I visit. There is barely anything about the place that does not make my heart burst with joy, from the friendly and helpful Londoners to the stunning streets and buildings to the great atmosphere and (of course) the wide range of amazing food.

I love to plan my journeys and read a lot about the places I want to visit because that way I can get more out of it and besides it somehow prolongs my holiday as I am able to travel to the place before I am actually physically there. And restaurants and other eating places obviously have a big share in my holiday planning. I know it can be just as nice and I do love the spontaneity of incidentally stumbling upon a lovely place but to me there is also a lot to the anticipation when it comes to travelling.

For now I leave you with a few first impressions but I will be back soon with more pictures and details about the places I visited and the great food I enjoyed.

Next to Portobello Road Market

Long queues in front of Monmouth Coffee Company at Borough Market

Amazing cakes at Fernandez and Wells in Somerset House

Marylebone Farmers’ Market

St. Paul’s Cathedral

Cider at The Elk in the Woods

Notting Hill