The Weekly Shop: home again from my French travels (with a very full belly)

Please allow me a moment to divert from the wonderful world of German food.  Having spent the last two and a half weeks driving all the way down to the Mediterranean coast and back again, I would just like to take a moment to say, oh France, how I love you.  My husband, the Mini Dietz and I travelled through Lorraine, Burgundy and breathtakingly beautiful Auvergne as well as all over Languedoc-Roussillon, stopping overnight in all sorts of wonderful locations, from chateaus to pig farms to converted barns as well as hotels and b&bs.  The meals we ate, the food markets we shopped at, the sunshine we sat in, the water in which we splashed: all of it was absolute heaven.  This site is unfortunately not the place for my French travel recommendations, however, so if you’d like any tips then please get in touch - I’ll be only too happy to share them!

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Seasonal Eating Guide: What to Eat in August

Blackberry cakes with lemon mascarpone icing
Blackberry cakes with lemon mascapone icing by Emma Raphael @ A Bavarian Sojourn

I was very glad to discover, returning to Wiesbaden yesterday afternoon from our holiday in France, that the worst of the summer heat appears to be over: I’m not good with sticky, sweaty weather, and the regular thunderstorms do very little to break the stifling humidity.  On the plus side, either the sun or the rain or a combination of both seem to do absolute wonders for fruit production: there are huge piles of all kinds of plums stacked up all over town.  So without further ado, here are a few sweet and savoury recommendations for what to eat in August.

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4 of Germany’s Greatest Cakes!

Käsekuchen

The Germans enjoy, as they say, not just the usual three meals a day, but a luxurious fourth one too: there’s Kaffee und Kuchen – coffee and cake.  Any day of the week you can walk into a Konditorei (cake shop) mid afternoon and discover just about any sort of person you can think of enjoying a hot cup of coffee alongside a (very) thick slice of cake.  And in Germany, there are so very, very many cakes to choose from.  A peek into even the smallest of Konditorei curved glass counters reveals a mind boggling range of cakes and sweets, from vast gateaus and Strudels to truffles and petit fours.  But for me, there are 4 greater than all the rest.  What follows here are to my mind, the four greatest German cakes of all…

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The Weekly Shop: southern French sunshine and probably, at some point, snails

Greetings from Languedoc-Rousillon in the south of France, where the sky is bright blue and the sun is shining on a lunch-table laden with fresh baguettes and unsalted butter, goats’ cheeses and thick, cured sausages flavoured with porcini mushrooms.  My husband B, the Mini Dietz and I travelled down here together by car last week, stopping overnight along the way to stay at a crumbling old chateau, an organic pig farm and a friend’s beautiful house north-east of Toulouse.

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The five best restaurants for lunch in Wiesbaden

If you’re lucky to have an hour or so to sit down and enjoy a bite to eat in the middle of the day, whether it’s with colleagues, friends or just on your own, finding a good lunch in Wiesbaden is, in my opinion, trickier than it should be - especially if you’re after something that isn’t a gloopy salad or something akin to brunch (which I mostly can’t eat because it tends to heavily feature bread).  There are an awful lot of places to choose from in the centre of town but, from my experience, not an awful lot of really good ones.  For this reason, it’s taken me a long time to collect a staple of places I enjoy eating at where the food is tasty as well as good value, and so I’m going to share my top lunch picks with you here.

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The Weekly Shop: Fake Fish

It’s been a tricky couple of weeks chez Dietz but culinarily speaking, I’ve still managed to be wildly spoilt, so I really shouldn’t complain.  There’s been a lunch of freshly-caught trout from a fantastic fish restaurant in the middle of the forest; my husband’s version of Saltimbocca all Romana (veal with parma ham and sage); and a huge mound of perfect purple plums dropped off by my mother-in-law.  I’ve contentedly experimented with my terrific Lebanese cookbook; and been treated to home-cooked Italian food by a new friend who brought Pesce Finto to a playdate (what a brilliant group of mums I’ve fallen in with):  “false fish” is a potato, tuna, sardine and caper dish served cold from a fish-shaped mould and it’s absolutely delicious – fishy, salty and rather refreshing.

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The Weekly Shop: an accidental Belgian adventure

I’ve just about recovered from my train journey back from London on Tuesday: let’s just say that the German train network wasn’t exactly on form that day.  Or we could say that it was on form entirely consistent with the train trip to London 12 days earlier, an adventure involving a very long but very pleasant local bus ride through the beautiful rolling hills of eastern Belgium and the making of several new friends along the way.

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Seasonal Eating Guide: What to Eat in July

July in south-central Germany: the sun is hot and high in the sky and seasonal eating is all about fruit.  In the orchards, plump stone fruits hang heavily from the trees; at the farmers’ markets, stands are laden with fat, oozing plums and apricots and the berries are so ripe and plentiful that you can buy them on the cheap for making jam.  Twice a week in July I return home from the marketplace weighed down by bags of sweet, juicy locally-grown fruit: if you’re enjoying the summer crops of berries and stone fruits as much as I am, then here are a few ideas with what to do with them all…

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The Weekly Shop: football feasts and juicy fruits

Greetings from London, where I’m congregating with family members visiting from all over the world and making the most of being treated to some of my favourite home-cooked food (perfectly roasted leg of lamb with perfectly roasted potatoes, check).  I’m totally overexcited about Germany having beaten Argentina to win the World Cup last night but gutted not to have been there to feel the earth move beneath a nation of ecstatic football-supporting feet as Germany scored their winning goal.  My husband’s morning-after report of the celebratory proceedings detailed beer-drinking and street-partying aplenty, and I’m sad to have missed out on such a momentous occasion.

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How to watch the World Cup – German Style

If you’re not a fan of football, you can probably get away with ignoring it most of the time.  However, the month of Brazil-based football madness that’s currently in progress is probably very hard to avoid.  Here in Wiesbaden, there’s a tangible buzz of excitement in the air about the 2014 World Cup (except in this flat, following England’s confirmed early departure) and merry bands of drunken football fans in town, flags painted on their sweaty cheeks and draped proudly over their shoulders.  The black, red and gold of the German team flutter on balconies, car bonnets and bicycles; even the ladies in the Karstadt food hall were wearing Germany’s full team kit before the first German game last Monday.

There are a lot of late matches because of the time difference between Brazil and Germany, so if you’re watching the games at home here, you’re going to need some cold drinks and simple snacks to sustain you.  There are all sorts of patriotic nibbles available to buy, from chocolates to pasta (see photograph above), but if you’re not wearing black, red and gold this June, you can still take the lead from the Germans on the football refreshments front.  Here are 5 classic German drinks and snacks to keep you going through the long nights ahead.

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