Author: Fricot Editors

Ingredient | Almond

Spanish Almonds

Sitting in a tapas bar in Vigo, the talk is about almond cake. Galicians adore almonds, mixing them into cakes and tarts, confections and desserts.

They aren‘t alone. If there is one thing that unites the diverse
regions of Spain it is their hard-shelled soft almonds. From Aragón to Andalusia, through Catalonia, Murcia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, they thrive in the relentless Mediterranean sun,
resplendent in small orchards.

There are 100 varieties, each one prized, none more so than the
Almendra de Mallorca, among the most coveted in Spain. Majorcans say this native delicacy is unctuous, a description that might be applied to all Iberian almonds!

Europe completely agrees.

The Majorca almond is now one of five varieties grown commercially, along with Marcona, Largueta and Planeta, all Spanish natives, and Valencias – the common almond. All are coveted.

Most goes into confections –

  • garrapiñadas (caramelised almonds)
  • mazapán (sweet almond cake / paste)
  • peladillas (sweet roasted almonds)
  • turrón (sweet almond honey nougat).

Some goes into the ubiquitous romesco sauce, some intensifies the flavour of traditional dishes like gallina en pepitoria (sautéed chicken in almond and saffron sauce) and some of the best, the sweet nut of Majorca, is made into ice cream, also into oil and snacks, and into flour to make cake.

That golden cake! Closely related to peach and plum, almonds are native to the Mediterranean. Sugared almonds were one of the first sweet snack foods. Almond flour inspired bakers when it was introduced 400 years ago.

Almonds are a source of calcium, folacin, iron and selenium, vitamins B and E, and contain a small amount of protein.

The high oil content in Spanish almonds, which makes them moist, is a huge factor in their success. The oil brings out the flavour, in cakes and sweets, especially in garrapiñadas and peladillas which embrace that flavour like a lover.

Legendary Dishes |  Ostfriesische Grünkohl (kale with bacon, onions and sausages)

Legendary Dishes | Ostfriesische Grünkohl (kale with bacon, onions and sausages)

Ostfriesische Grünkohl

Ostfriesische Grünkohl GERMANY kale with bacon, onions and sausages

Traditionally, kale is cut in East Friesland after the first frost, when the leaves are at their optimum, packed with vitamins and full of flavour.

Restaurants in north Germany (from Oldenburg to Hamburg) specialise in grünkohlessen (kale dishes) at this time. The usual accompaniment is either salted potatoes or fried potatoes, usually more popular.

The local sausages – known as pinkel – are made with pork, bacon, oatmeal, onions, sea salt and spices, and have a subtle smokey flavour.

  • 3 litres hot water for kale + 1 litre hot water for cooking
  • 1 kg kale, stalks and stems removed, washed
  • 500 g onions
  • 500 g smoked bacon, cut into thin strips
  • 8 small pork sausages / 4 pinkel sausages
  • 90 g pork fat
  • 45 g mustard
  • 45 g oatmeal
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
Oldenburger Pinkel (Sausages of Oldenburg)

Bring a large pot with the three litres of water to the boil, add the kale and simmer for five minutes. Remove kale, squeeze out the water, cut into thin strips. In a large frying pan heat the pork fat, and over a medium to low heat sauté the onions, about 15 minutes. Fry bacon in the onions for five minutes, mix in the kale. Add the mustard, oatmeal and sugar, cover with water. Cook for an hour, adding the sausages 20 minutes before the end of cooking. Season with black pepper and salt. 

Bley Meat & Sausages (and Kale)

Mettenden Kale is a packaged ready-meal of kale, pork and sausage from Bley in Zeven, halfway between Bremen and Hamburg.

Featured Produce


Featured Product

PINKEL (Sausage)

Blue Window | Food Travels in the Alps | Speckknödel (bacon dumplings)

Speckknödel AUSTRIA GERMANY bacon dumplings
  • 250 g white bread rolls, cubed
  • 150 g smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 100 g onion, chopped small
  • 50 g butter
  • 30 g + 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp marjoram, dried, crushed
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Salt, pinch

Whisk the eggs into the milk, pour into a large bowl containing the bread cubes, leave to soak. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry for five minutes. Add the onion to the pan, fry for ten minutes until the onion is soft. Leave to cool. Season the bread mixture. Add the bacon-onion mixture, parsley and marjoram to the bread mixture, add two tablespoons of flour, work into a dough and leave for 30 minutes. Dust a work surface with flour. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, reduce to simmer. Using moistened hands shape the dough into balls, each about 5 cm in diameter. Roll the balls in the flour. Simmer balls in stages in the pot. When the balls dance to the surface, they are ready. Remove with a slotted spoon. Brown under a hot grill for a bit of colour.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Knödel Geschichte (dumpling story)

Spinach dumplings by master chef Hansjörg Betz of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria

Knödelmeister Christoph Wagner is adamant. Dumplings are an alpine tradition centered in Oberösterreich (Upper Austria). Four thousand years ago the people of Mondsee, east of Salzburg, mixed flakes and flour from millet and wheat with fruit, herbs, nuts and water into a filled dough they baked in a stove. 

Was that the origin of the dumpling tradition? Austrians like to believe it is although the people of the western alpine regions were also making dumpling-like doughs one thousand years earlier.

The common denominator was hiking and hunting in the mountains. It is plausible to believe that the first dumplings were made from a thickened porridge mixture formed into balls, stuffed with fruit or meat, and baked to allow for easy transportation.

The history began two thousand years ago when dumplings were common fare in the hostelries on Roman roads across the Alps. This is also a clue to the origin of the name, thought to be nodus meaning knot or nodulous meaning nodules. In Old German this became chnode, knode or knoto and later knötlein. In Austria and Germany the knot also became the kloz meaning ball and today in western and northern Germany the knödel is a klöß

A thousand years later they were mentioned in parchment manuscripts. The first known pictorial representation is from 1290 at the chapel of Hocheppan in South Tyrol where a fresco depicted a nun eating dumplings from a pan over an open fire.

In the 1300s the personal chef of Habsburg ruler Rudolf IV was known to cook bread, cheese, meat and vegetable dumplings in village hostelries during excursions to and from Vienna.

Monastic manuscripts in the 1500s suggested that dumplings were made with flour and water, a high proportion of meat and pieces of bread to bind the mixture. In reality the proportion of bread was always higher than the meat in the recipes of the common people.

Then the potato arrived in Europe, and dumplings made with potato dough became popular, until it was obvious that dumplings were a variable feast. In 1737 an encyclopaedia suggested that dumplings were made round from all kinds of fish and meat, with flour, yeast and seasonings and were boiled or baked, and served in a broth or consumed with other foods

A later book revealed the munificence of dumplings in Austrian cuisine. Reported in Culinary Heritage Austria this included ‘almond dumplings (for Vistula soup), bread dumplings, bacon dumplings, pork and veal dumplings (with soaked bread rolls), rice dumplings, chicken dumplings (for pea soup), plaited dumplings (from strudel and rolls for beef soup), Vistula dumplings, apple dumplings and pike dumplings (for parsley soup)’.

New Viennese Cuisine, around 1880, cited breadcrumb dumplings, liver dumplings, bread dumplings, potato dumplings, Tyrolean dumplings, military dumplings – egg, flour and roasted onions, steamed dumplings, lung dumplings, and plum dumplings.

In the 2010s the dumpling landscape is largely alpine, from Bavaria through Upper Austria to the Tyrol and South Tyrol. However dumplings are traditional foods throughout all of Austria and Germany, as they are in many regions of central, eastern and northern Europe – especially the Czech Republic, Liechtenstein and Serbia. They are also traditional in areas of eastern France and northern Italy.

In Austria dumplings are a culinary art form, a variable feast of flavours, and totally imaginable. Ingrid Pernkopf, master chef at Landgasthof Grünberg in Gmunden, and Christoph Wagner feature 250 recipes in their book Knödelküche. They quote an old Upper Austrian proverb. ‘If you do not eat dumplings, you are hungry all day.’

If you do not eat dumplings you have not lived! 

Culinary Heritage Austria worry that the tradition might be under threat. ‘Preparing dumplings is a labor-intensive business, and many are not spending much time cooking today.’

But they also make a valid argument why home cooks should make the effort. ‘The tradition of dumplings persisted throughout the crisis years of the 20th century, because dumplings are a hearty, nutritious and above all cheap food. Fruit, minced lamb, cured meat, meat and sausage leftovers are also put into the casing. With sauerkraut or salad, this results in a reasonably priced meal’

Top Tips for Making Dumplings

  1. Let the dumpling dough rest.
  2. Always make a trial dumpling.
  3. Squeeze dough firmly into a ball using palms of moistened hands.*
  4. Roll dumplings in flour before cooking.*
  5. Let dumplings simmer in hot water, do not boil!
  • Use stale bread from white bread rolls.
  • Mix dough thoroughly.
  • If dumpling mass is too wet add breadcrumbs, oatmeal or semolina. 
  • Cook dumplings in a large pot without lid.
  • Do not cook too many dumplings at once.
  1. Use hot milk to soak the bread cubes.
  2. Add a small amount of curd cheese mixture after maturation.
  3. For potato dumplings use floury potatoes.
  4. Add vinegar to potato dumpling dough to prevent mixture going grey.
  5. Add cornstarch or potato starch to cooking water to prevent dumpling disintegration.
  • * Make starchy doughs (potato, curd cheese) with floured hands
  • * Make soft dumplings (bread, liver) with wet hands. 
  • * Dumplings are fluffier without flour, so go easy on flour in dough.
  • * Use a minimum of flour during rolling process.
  • * Roll potato dumplings in amble flour before cooking.

Dumpling Cookery

Knödel Zeit — Dumpling Time

Editor’s Note — recipes to follow.

Apfelknödel apple
wild garlic
beef liver
 smoked meat
Tiroler Knödel 
Tiroler Speckknödel
Tyrol bacon
curd cheese

Legendary Dishes | Smoked Mackerel Pâté

Pâté de Maquereau Fumé
FRANCE smoked
mackerel pâté 

Once apon a time this traditional snack was made with cream – crème fraîche or fresh sour cream. Other flavourings included horseradish and mustard, in varying quantities. With its own distinctive flavour, smoked mackerel absorbed strong flavours, lemon juice was added to give the pate a base flavour. Seasonings included cayanne or chilli, pepper – white, black or green or a combination – and salt. Butter, cottage cheese or tofu was preferred to cream. French herbs like chives, marjoram and parsley were included in the process. Hard cheese such as parmigiano was grated into the pate to give it yet another tangential flavour. Shallots pounded into a paste also gave an added depth of flavour. We favour the traditional flavourings – crème fraîche, horseradish, mustard with the juice of one lemon and a few teaspoons of grated hard cheese. See also rillettes de maquereau fumé, below.

  • 250 g / 300 g hot smoked mackerel, back bone, bones and skin removed
  • 60 g / 90 g crème fraîche / sour cream
  • 60 g horseradish
  • 30 ml lemon juice
  • 15 g parmigiano cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Chilli powder / green pepper, pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Using a fork, mince the mackerel. Stir in the lemon juice and the cream to form a paste. Add the cheese horseradish, mustard and seasonings, mix thoroughly. Spoon into ramekins, refrigerate for at least two hours, then serve.

Smoked Mackerel with Polish Horseradish and Vietnamese Black Peppercorns

Rillettes de Maquereau Fumé
smoked mackerel shreds

  • 500 g smoked mackerel, heads and tails removed, boned and skinned, minced
  • 200 g brie, softened
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 50 g cream / crème fraîche
  • 50 g shallot, finely chopped
  • 20 chives (optional)
  • 10 g black pepper

Mash mackerel into the butter, add cream and cheese, stir vigourously. Add chives and shallots, followed by the lemon juice and zest, the chives and black pepper. Spoon and press into ramekins, cover with foil, refrigerate for two hours. Serve on biscuits, crackers or toast.

Rillettes de Maquereau Fumé 2

  • 500 g smoked mackerel, heads and tails removed, boned and skinned, minced
  • 100 g red onion, chopped
  • 90 g Charouce or soft white cheese
  • 60 g farmhouse butter, unsalted
  • 60 g horseradish cream
  • 45 ml brandy
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 10 g black pepper
  • 5 g lovage, chopped
  • 4 rosemary spears, chopped
  • 2 sage leaves, chopped
  • Nutmeg, large pinch
  • Salt, several large pinches
  • Ghee, for sealing (optional)x

Purée mackerel, refrigerate. Sauté garlic and onions in the butter and oil over a low heat for five minutes, leave to cool. Add mackerel, herbs and seasonings, stir. Whip the cheese and horseradish into the mixture, spoon into small ceramic bowls. Deglaze the pan with brandy, add liquid to pâté. Refrigerate for an hour, serve on small round biscuits or on squares of toast. If keeping, seal with melted ghee and refrigerate.

Rillettes de Maquereau Fumé 3

  • 500 g smoked mackerel, heads and tails removed, boned and skinned, minced
  • 200 g crème fraîche
  • 100 g butter
  • 50 g shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 5 g black pepper
  • 10 chives

Mash mackerel into the butter, add cream and cheese, stir vigourously. Add chives and shallots, followed by the lemon juice and zest, the chives and black pepper. Spoon and press into ramekins, cover with foil, refrigerate for two hours. Serve on toast or crackers.

TGEFA — Out of the Blue (fish restaurant)

TGEFA — Out of the Blue (fish restaurant)

Tim Mason
Jean-Marie Vaireaux

Tim Mason called his restaurant Out of the Blue for the obvious reason. While blue skies are not a regular feature of Ireland’s wild Atlantic coast, every now and then a fish restaurant appears that is radically ‘out of the blue’ and is a surprising success. The fish is fresh, perfectly cooked and served imaginatively, as you would expect of chefs who know their fish. Then the chefs move on and take their reputation and skill with them.

Jean-Marie Vaireaux is one such chef. Born in Lyon, trained in Thonon-les-Bains and educated in the Beaujolais, he found himself in the west coast of Ireland at the end of the century, content to go fishing with a French friend. Fish as fresh as it comes has always been the mantra of clever fish chefs. 

The arrival of the Dublin-born stockbroker gave the Lyon-born chef the opportunity he craved, the chance to stay in Dingle and cook fresh fish. That he would do this in a cramped kitchen with two other chefs did not faze him. 

In the summer of 2001 the fish restaurant that would become known as OOTB opened. It was a revelation from the start. 

Out of the Blue seafood restaurant
in Dingle, Ireland

We are sitting on the wooden benches at the tables on the veranda adjacent the tiny restaurant on Dingle’s waterfront. OOTB’s French chefs explain why they are masters of fish cuisine. There are no secrets, they say, it is all about experience and knowledge. And, Eric Maillard from Brittany is quick to affirm, the tricks of the trade. 

Inevitably the conversation drifted to the secret of the perfectly cooked pan-fried fish. The backbone should come away from the flesh clear and clean. Like the cartoon cat with the cartoon fish bone? Exactly. Later, when we sample the secrets of their success, we get that affirmation. At a nearby table a diner lifts the backbone clear of the fish. All we can do is giggle.

Tim Mason did not know what he wanted to do when he arrived in Dingle at the turn of the century. He drove around the seaside town, found himself – like Jean-Marie before him – on the waterfront, and there it was, the stuff of dreams. A ramshackle house that over-looked the bay.

He found a local fisherman and persuaded him not to retire his licence, instead to catch fish for him. He found Eric Maillard, and he found a supporting cast. He found his mission, to see whether a fish cafe with five tables and a fresh fish shop could succeed. ‘We used to sort the fish outside – we had no room inside – everyone could see how fresh the fish was.’

This was the true secret of their success. As the years rolled by and the small cafe morphed into a small restaurant, the word crept out. OOTB was something unusual, it was a fish-only restaurant that served seafood caught the same day.

OOTB is the epitome of ‘catch of the day’. The chefs see what they have, come to conclusions and chalk their ideas on the blackboard that is the menu, as original as the fish. They have their favourites, dishes that are typical of the fish cuisine of their homeland, where the accompaniments including sauces are designed to compliment the fish, another secret to their success.

Their smoked fish chowder is as good as anything served anywhere but it is their smoked mackerel pâté that is arguably the best in the country. 

Smoked Mackerel Pate
The Chowder Story

And this brings us to the heart of the matter. 

How does OOTB compare with other restaurants that specialise in fresh fish? Aherne’s in Youghal should always maintain its reputation, the Fish Kitchen and O’Connors in Bantry should always serve a good plate, the Anchor Bar in Liscannor should be hard to beat, the Lobster Pot in Burtonport will always be a personal favourite of the Fricot Project and we will always have a soft spot for O’Dowd’s Seafood Bar in Roundstone. There are surprises around the country, not least among the myriad ‘fish and chip’ shops. Of these McClements in Millisle serve the best scampi. Fusciardi’s in Dublin used to serve a delicious smoked cod. We hope they continue with that treat.

If OOTB can maintain its standards and its modus operandi it will remain the best fish restaurant not only in Ireland but among the best across the European continent.

Atlantic Mackerel, defrosted
Book | Compendium Ferculorum | Poland’s Culinary Masterpiece

Book | Compendium Ferculorum | Poland’s Culinary Masterpiece

A Collection of Dishes

Polish master cook Stansław Czerniecki’s Compendium Ferculorum albo Zebranie Potraw (Collection of Dishes) is a Polish culinary monument. Published in 1682 his ‘collection’ was the first Polish cookbook, not unusual for the time because Europe’s aristocratic courts boasted countless cookbooks compiled by master chefs amidst a period that established a new sensibility about food, its preparation and presentation. That it predated the second Polish cookbook Kucharz Doskonały by 101 years is astonishing, yet there was a very good reason. 


Pork tenderloin
stuffed with
a cauliflower condiment, 
one of ten condiments 
featured in 
Compendium Ferculorum


Czerniecki’s Compendium Ferculorum was a masterpiece at the time, and remains one of the greatest cookbooks ever produced. It stands tall alongside the great cookbooks of the past millennium. The decision by the Museum of King Jan III’s Place at Wilanów, Warsaw to reprint it only affirms this belief, as attested by Paweł Jaskanis, director of the museum, and by Jarosław Dumanowski, editor of the culinary monument series.

‘Relish the flavour of these pages,’ writes Jaskanis with gusto. ‘It teaches how to stimulate both taste and imagination, how to surprise banqueters, how to bedazzle them with the appearance of dishes and their presentation.’

‘It is an extraordinary work which describes that not only is completely different from the modern, but which also greatly departs from the popular perception of the Polish cuisine and history,’ writes Dumanowski, asserting the pride Czerniecki felt, ‘that thanks to him Poles had received a work describing their national cuisine’. 

‘The cuisine of Stansław Czerniecki is also the cuisine of the baroque, that is the cuisine reaching to contrast, illusion, and readily resorting to surprising concepts. Flavours selected on the principle of contrasts, astonishing differences between the appearance and flavour of dishes, fish pretending to be partridges, buckwheat prepared without a grain of buckwheat and riddle dishes all come together to create a culinary style which the master cook was a strict adherent.’

It was no wonder that the Medici in situ in Florence, Cosimo the third, ordered Czerniecki’s cookbook. Cosimo would have delighted in the work of a master cook who took great delight in a tradition, whether or not Czerniecki knew of it, that began in Florence in 1512. It was called Compagnia del Paiolo (‘Company of the Cauldron’). 

The Compendium Ferculorum can be
purchased directly from the museum

The motto of the company was l‘arte si fa a cena (the art of dining). It innocently sought culture and conviviality, good taste and simplicity, frankness and friendliness. Its first adherents included Giovan Francesco Rustici, a painter and sculptor, artists Andrea del Sarto and Leonardo de Vinci, and Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici (later Pope Clement). 

With Catherine de‘ Medici ensconced in Paris as crown consort then as regent, this new attitude to food became an aristocratic obsession. It spread through the same courts that had produced the recipe-collecting chefs of the era. The Castillian, Catalonian, Neopolitan, Sicilian, Tuscan and Venetian styles, among others from the Iberian and Italian regions, penetrated the French court with chefs, confectioners and pâtissiers trained in the emerging style, that would soon became known as the classical manner, then as haute cuisine. 

Maria de’ Medici, queen to Henri the fourth, is believed to have been the instigator, following the sentiments of Pope Clement. He would have luxuriated in the extravagances taken at the grand banquet for Maria‘s wedding, where the cornucopia of flavours and architectural displays of food epitomised the Tuscan attitude to food. Within five generations a dominant aristocratic paradigm had been created, the chefs of the courts bringing exquisite care and infinite attention to detail in the provision and preparation of food. 

Four generations later that ‘exquisite care and infinite attention to detail’ was practised by the master cook to the courts of the Lubomirski family at Krakow.

It might also be argued that the Polish cook surpassed the great works of the master cooks who worked for the Medicis. The ‘Company of the Cauldron’ celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2012, and two years later the Polish edition of ‘Collection of Dishes’ was published.

Such generational and culinary symmetry is sobering.

Czerniecki produced culinary art of the highest calibre, art that was not abstract or utopian, that was traditional Polish food made real, influenced by the cuisine of the Czechs and Lithuanians more than the food of the French and Italians. Like the work of the great artists of the early 1500s, who equated their art with the art of dining, Czerniecki produced culinary artworks that appealed to the senses, where flavour and taste had to become sublime to be real.

The recipe for the pork with cauliflower condiment is here.

Czerniecki’s cauliflower condiment is a piece of culinary genius.

Stanisław Czerniecki, Compendium ferculorum or collection of dishes, w opracowaniu J. Dumanowskiego we wspólpracy z M. Spychaj, Warszawa 2014, s. 196, il. 51, ISBN 978-83-63580-40-7.

Legendary Dishes | Smør Kylling (butter chicken)

Legendary Dishes | Smør Kylling (butter chicken)

Butter Chicken with Roast Potatoes and Butter-Garlic Sauce

Butter chicken is a comfort food in Scandinavia, butter chicken stuffed with garlic takes the pleasure up several levels.

1.8 kg chicken

250 g butter

4 bulbs garlic, whole

1 small orange, whole

15 g assorted ground seasoning – black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, garlic paprika, sumac, salt

10 g black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 160°C. Rub chicken all over with some of the butter, season. Stuff chicken with remaining butter and garlic, seal opening with orange. Bake for two hours, remove foil. Turn heat to 180°C and roast until skin has browned, about 30 minutes. Leave to rest. Cut garlic bulbs in half, squeeze out pulp, mix with the liquid in the bottom of the casserole, pour over chicken. Serve with mashed potatoes.

TGEFA — Top 10 Fish Breakfasts

1 Norwegian Breakfast


Once upon a time travellers on Norwegian Railways sleeper trains were handed special tickets by the train chief. ‘These are for your breakfast, go to the hotel across from the station,’ the chief would explain to bemused travellers. The sight on arrival in the grand hall of the grand hotel was a grand breakfast, an assortment of hot and cold foods that had no rival anywhere in the world. Sadly this tradition has lapsed. On the sleeper trains between Oslo, the capital of Norway, and Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim and between Trondheim and Bodø in the far north, a modest breakfast is served onboard. The grandiose buffet breakfasts are becoming a thing of the past, but some hotels are clinging to tradition by presenting modest grand buffets. Think of every possible breakfast food that is served across Europe, add the Norwegian love for loaves and fishes, cheeses and crispbreads, bacon and eggs, pickles and potatoes, and then something you never imagined.



Cheese – Brunost Cheese – Gamalost Cheese – Gudbrandsdalsost Cheese – Jarlsberg Cheese – Norvegia Cheese – Pultost Cheese – Ridder Cheese – Snøfrisk Coffee



Eggs – boiled, fried, poached

Fishes – Klippfisk (cod), Lutefisk (lyed cod or ling), Sild (herring)

Leverpostej (liver paste)




Lefse (potato flatbreads)


Smoked bacon, grilled to a crisp

Smoked salmon, with lefse or toast




2 Welsh Breakfast

Bacon and eggs are a traditional breakfast throughout Europe, cockels and laverbread less so. In south Wales the sands stretch the length of the Gower peninsula. This is the cockel shore – a place of the laver. Laver is a soft purplish sea vegetable found at Atlantic shores, picked from rocks at low tide. It is thoroughly washed in two changes of water, drained, cooked and sold dried or fresh.

8 slices smoked back bacon

400 g laver pulp

100 g oatmeal



Combine laver pulp and oatmeal, shape into 5 cm wide, 2 cm thick cakes. Fry bacon, remove, allowing fat to drip into the frying pan, keep warm. Bring heat up, wait until the bacon fat is starting to smoke, then fry the laver cakes, two minutes each side. Serve with bacon, sausages and poached (or fried) eggs … And fresh cockles.

3 Irish Breakfast


8 potatoes

4 mackerel, filleted

90 g butter


Boil the potatoes in their skins. Pan-fry the mackerel in half of the butter, skin-side down first. Serve with the potatoes, split in half, a little butter in each.

4 Sicilian Breakfast


2 squid, cleaned, cut into small pieces

2 lemons, juiced

45 ml olive oil

5 g chilli flakes

Water, for boiling

Bring water to the boil, heat oil in a deep frying pan. Place squid in the boiling water, boil for 90 seconds, then transfer it to the frying pan. Flash fry squid, about three minutes, adding the chilli after two minutes. Deglaze pan with lemon juice, pour over squid, serve.

5 French Breakfast


16 oysters

4 slices thick country bread

4-6 slices streaky bacon

1 lemon, juiced

15 ml anchovy sauce

Pepper, large pinch

4 wooden skewers

Shell the oysters, soak in the anchovy sauce and lemon juice. Season, wrap a piece of bacon around the oyster, skewer, four to each stick. Toast the bread and place the oyster wraps under a hot grill for two minutes.

6 English and Scottish Breakfast


600 g haddock / smoked haddock, cut into chunks

500 ml chicken stock

350 g long grain rice

2 eggs, hard-boiled

75 g onion, chopped

25 g butter

5 g parsley, chopped

5 cardamoms, crushed

3 g cinnamon

Turmeric powder, very large pinch


Water, for boiling

Sauté onion in butter in a large frying pan for ten minutes, add bay leaf, spices and seasonings. Stir rice into the onion mixture, add stock, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Simmer haddock in water for five minutes, flake and set aside. Chop eggs into small pieces. Stir the eggs, fish and parsley into the rice, heat through, season.

7 Swedish Breakfast


2 litres water

250 g smoked salmon, sliced thin

4 eggs

4 slices wholewheat bread

10 g salt

Black peppercorns, crushed

Salt the water and bring to the boil. Break an egg into a small bowl, carefully let it slip into the water, reduce heat and poach for three minutes, remove with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper. Repeat with remaining eggs. Toast bread, place a poached egg on each slice, garnish with equal amounts of the salmon and a sprinkling of black pepper.

8 Turkish Breakfast


1 kg Black Sea anchovy fillets

250 g corn / maize flour

4 lemons, juiced

Sunflower oil

Pour flour into a large bowl, dredge anchovies through flour, place side by side on plates. Heat oil, fry anchovies until crisp, drain. Serve with lemon juice.

9 Greek Breakfast


The art of preparing octopus for the grill has consumed the time of Greeks for centuries. The tenderising process alternates between pounding, freezing, baking, marinating and slow cooking. Yet the one method that remains infallible is drying the whole fish under a hot sun in a light breeze.

1 kg octopus, sun dried

60 ml olive oil

30 ml vinegar

2 lemons, juiced

1 tbsp oregano

Blend the oil and vinegar, cut the octopus into pieces. Marinade in this mixture for an hour. Grill under a high heat for three or four minutes until the flesh is tender. Serve with vinaigrette of lemon juice and oregano.

10 Russian Breakfast


Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat describes caviar as ‘the last legendary food of modern times’. Traditionally caviar was made from the roe of wild sturgeon in the nutrient rich Caspian Sea. It came in four varieties: –

Beluga (pale to dark grey eggs from the larger fish, up to 1000 kg)

Oscietra (various coloured eggs from the smaller fish, 300 kg)

Sevruga (dark grey to black eggs from the smallest fish, 60 kg) and;

the enigmatic Sterlet, a very small sturgeon that is almost extinct.

Seruga is thought to be too strong for a breakfast caviar, beluga too rich, which leaves oscietra, a light nutty caviar. Because of its flavour, roe from the Icelandic capelin is accepted as caviar and suitable for breakfast.

2 eggs

80 g oscietra caviar / black capelin caviar

45 ml kefir

45 g flour

10 g sugar

Baking soda, large pinch

Oil, for frying

Salt, pinch

Whisk the kefir into the eggs, season, add flour and soda to make a smooth batter, leave to froth. Heat some oil in a hot frying pan, pour a tablespoon of the batter into the centre of the pan, remove from heat. When holes form on the surface, flip over, and after a few seconds press with a spatula into the pan, putting it back on the heat for a minute. Repeat with remaining batter. Serve with the caviar.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Brisolée (autumn harvest buffet with chestnuts, cheese, fruit and wine)

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Brisolée (autumn harvest buffet with chestnuts, cheese, fruit and wine)

Cheese, Chestnuts and Wine

From the attic window in the alpine chalet, a fine mist can be seen hovering over the valley in the pubescent dawn, the sun still to rise over the mountain peaks. Gradually, as the morning lengthens its shadows, the mist will dissipate, the valley light will shimmer in the promise of a clear day and the high mountains will be framed by a blue window. 

This momentary vista is a mere glimpse of the absolute magic of the Rhône Valley, in high summer a sumptuous land full of growth, at summer’s end a mystical land like this morning. All the way from the expanse of the lake known as Léman where cormorants gaze into the water from the rocks at Château de Chillon to the magnificence of the Aletsch Glacier where chamois look askance at solitary hikers high above the longitudinal plain, this Swiss valley canton offers something unique in the world.

It is the first week of October. The grapes have been harvested, the chestnuts have been collected and apples, apricots and pears have been dried and pulped and fermented and left whole. Tweaks have been made to apple pie recipes. New wines have been selected. Rounds of mountain cheese have been declared ready. Legs of beef from the Stotz breed have been salt-spice cured, air-dried and delicately sliced, also ready. Batches of rye bread have been baked. Finally the apples pies have been prepared … and baked. Everyone is ready!


Hand-picking sweet chestnuts from the woods alongside the Rhône under the high peaks is an old tradition of the people. Traditionally the chestnuts were roasted over an open fire, taken inside and served with chunks of mature mountain cheese accompanied by fresh grapes, pieces of apple and pear, grape (must) juice or young wine to wash everything down. Nothing unusual there, just the typical country fare of the canton.

Except this is brisolée, the autumn harvest plate of the people who tend the land where the Rhône is joined by the Dranse at the acute turn eastwards into the valley below the Bernese Alps at Martigny.

Here chestnuts abound between the river, the town of Martigny and the adjacent village of Fully, where the annual chestnut fair is more than a celebration, it is an event characterised by brisolée and fondue and the traditional produce and products of the valley.

The roast chestnut, cheese and wine tradition morphed into a café culture in the Martigny-Fully region in the 1960s when café and restaurant owners realised they could replicate the domestic culture, and offer buffet-style versions of the original plate in a celebration of the change of the seasons.

Brisolée became a traditional dish with an appeal beyond the Martigny-Fully region. Now it is an aspect of the food culture in the Swiss-French speaking areas of the Valais and neighbouring Vaud along the Lac Léman shore. Chestnuts, cheese and wine remain the common denominators of the dish, except among those (including the organisers of the chestnut fair at Fully) who include other Valais products, such as the air-dried beef produced in the canton and various charcuterie. Deep red in colour, these thin slices of beef give off an aroma that is unique to their producers. They compliment brisolée.

In the home the older tradition prevails, with apple tart an integral component. The rye bread of the region is now an essential component of the café and fair culture, and sometimes a brisolée plate will contain roast chestnuts, cheese, rye bread and air-dried beef.

A good place to sample brisolée is the Restaurant de Plan-Cerisier above Martigny Croix on the switch-back road into France.

Brisolée Produce

Rye Bread and Dried Beef
Cheese and Apples
Brisolée buffets are now typically organised in October by restauranteurs and hoteliers but wine-growers continue to arrange brisolée parties in their cellars, and small events are held in the home.

2 bottles new wine
1 kg apples, cored, quartered
1 kg chestnuts, washed, notched
1 litre must (white grape juice)
1 kg pears, cored, quartered
1 rye bread, cut into thin slices
500 g mountain cheese, cut into chunks
500 g white grapes
180 g dried beef slices

Roast chestnuts for 35 minutes in oven at 200°C. Wrap chestnuts in a cloth. Serve chestnuts with buttered rye bread, cheese, dried beef, white grapes, apples, pears and must.

Brisolée Recipe

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Ossolano / Ossolano d’Alpe

photo courtesy

The Ossolano cheese round is characterised by a pale green colour.

The Ossolano d’Alpe cheese round is characterised by a pale brown colour.

Every Saturday morning Giorgio and Claudia Battaglia park their food truck containing cheese, cured meats and salami in the Piazza Arturo dell’Oro in the heart of Domodossola, the principle alpine town of Piedmont in north-west Italy. Sometimes, usually Thursdays and Fridays, they can be found in the Piazza Mercato in the old town, now restored to its former glory.

They have a thriving business, and that it is be expected because this is a region that has pride in its local foods. Giorgio and Claudia know this. They arrived with their truck only three years ago. Now they sell everything the food artisans and food producers of Piedmontese have to offer, like the absolutely delicious Ossolano cheeses.

piazza-mercato-domodossola-lowresWith its delicate aroma, Ossolano is a melt-in-the-mouth experience – a semi-hard cheese that is among the best of its kind in the alpine regions, significantly the cheese made by producers who utilise the organoleptic qualities of the high pastures. It has a buttery flavour, enhanced by a deep floral taste of hazelnuts and walnuts, and the feeling that cheese like this is truly a food of the gods.


The alpine Ossolano is also known as Grasso d’Alpe. This mountain cheese, especially the cheese from the Bettelmatt and Monscera alps, is revered among cheese aficionados because the cows feed on the mountain pasture.

Whole raw summer milk from the Bruna Alpine and Grey Alpine breeds is used. Aged for a minimum of 60 days at 10º-14°C, seasoning ranges from three to 14 months.

Winter hay-fed cows produce milk that has a different fat composition. This has a subtle effect on the quality of the cheese. Therefore the summer cheese is preferred to the winter cheese.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Fontina

Fontina ITALY mountain cheese


BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Swiss Cheese Grotto 

Swiss Cheese Grotto


René Ryser is proud of his ‘cheese grotto’ high above Gstaad, more than delighted with the arrangement that allows artisan cheese-makers to store their products in the controlled environment of his warehouse in Lauenen and happy to sell these delicious local cheeses in his shop.

Made with raw milk from the cows that graze the pastures of the Berner Oberland from Interlaken to the Simmental, each cheese is unique to its creator. Alpkäse, a six to eighteen month valley cheese, is a full fat hard cheese stored as rounds that weigh between five and 16 kilos. Hobelkäse, the mountain cheese, is a mature cheese with a depth of flavour that sets it apart.

In their shop on Lauenenstrasse at the bottom of the town beyond the Saanen river, we ogle regional cheeses – Bleu de Lenk, Etivaz, Livarot, Sapolet, Schönriederli Geräuchert – and cheeses from further afar.

Then it becomes obvious. Alpine tradition is defined by the cheese-makers across the Bernese Alps with a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Hobelkäse

Hobelkäse SWITZERLAND mountain cheese


BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Raclette du Valais

Raclette du Valais SWITZERLAND alpine cheese


A winemaker called Leon is held responsible for the invention of the melting cheese known as raclette, when he accidentally let a half-wheel melt by the fire. 

It is a good story but the origins of cheese-making in the hidden valleys of the Rhône river valley go back to before the Romans occupied the region. 

For centuries, cheese was used as currency among the people and with visiting traders.

Geographically and historically linked to the area that now defines the canton, specifically the valleys of Bagnes and Goms, Raclette du Valais is a semi-hard cheese associated with the lively Hérens cows. 

As much a part of Swiss alpine scenery as the chalet and cable car, these cows graze the fragrant flora of sloping meadows along with the black-dotted cows of picture postcard Switzerland.

The people of the Rhône valley regard their raclette as the true melting cheese despite its wider production in other parts of Switzerland and especially on the other side of the Alps in Savoy. 

For hoteliers like Stefan Welschen, our host for the night in Brig, raclette is the speciality of the canton, because of its character and the variety of its flavours. 

The herders of the Goms Valley insist their milk is superior to that of the Val de Bagnes, and vice versa. 

Once described as ‘delicious, fatty, sweet and soft’, the raclette wheels are consumed by the Valaisans themselves, melted, scraped and served in numerous ways or grilled until its edges are crisped. 

A sixth of all raclette produced in Switzerland comes from the canton. A little is exported, largely to émigrés.

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Gruyère

Gruyère SWITZERLAND alpine cheese

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Emmental

Emmental SWITZERLAND alpine cheese

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Ticino

Ticino SWITZERLAND mountain cheese

BLUE WINDOW | Food Travels in the Alps | Alpine Cheeses | Tome des Bauges

Tome des Bauges FRANCE mountain cheese

Tome in the dialect of old Savoy referred to ‘cheese made in high mountain pastures’ which is why today tome and tomme is the name for mountain cheese made in Savoy and Haute Savoy in alpine France and Piedmont in alpine Italy. All tome have a distinctive moulded rind.