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Archive for the ‘Bread’ Category

Confession: 

I’ve tried my hand at making zucchini bread before but being the lazy baker that I can be, I wasn’t too thorough in squeezing as much water out of the zucchini as I could have so I ended up a sad sloppy batter. As a result, I decided that zucchini was no friend of mine so while I’d gladly roast some up to eat, I would refrain from using them in my world of baking.

Of course, life has its way of making the things you shrug away from come creeping back at you. So there I was trawling through some of my favourite bake sites and seeing picture after picture after picture of freshly baked zucchini bread that promised ambrosia to the tastebuds.

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I couldn’t get the green zucchini the day I decided to bite the bullet and give zucchini bread a second chance, so I picked out a beautiful yellow zucchini instead and told myself that it’d better be worth it.

I grated it up and made sure to remove as much moisture as I could from the zucchini. Then I mixed the batter together, poured it into my prepared tin to bake, and prayed hard that it would turn out as flawless and as delightful as the ones in the pictures I was drooling over.

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I chose to bake these in a square rather than a loaf because *lightbulb*, if I baked it in a square, I could then slice it into bars and devour a piece, or two, while packing the rest up nicely either to be distributed amongst friends and family, or to be frozen for when a craving hits. Slice up a loaf to eat and give the remainder away might have people thinking that you’re passing them leftovers. #justsaying

Also, with my current penchant for putting good things into my body, I made this paleo and dairy-free. But honestly, it was so insanely delicious, light, and moist, that you wouldn’t be able to tell how clean this recipe is.

Paleo+Dairy Free Zucchini Bread (8×8″ Square or one 9×4″ Loaf)

200g Grated Zucchini, squeezed well of water
6 Eggs
2 Mashed Bananas
50g Coconut Sugar
20g Coconut Oil
75g Coconut Flour
1.5 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Freshly Grated Nutmeg
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/8 tsk Salt
50g Cocoa Nibs

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line 8×8″ baking tin or a 9×4″ loaf tin.
  2. Whisk eggs, bananas, coconut sugar and coconut oil together.
  3. Add flour, spices, baking soda and salt, and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Fold in grated zucchini and half the cocoa nibs.
  5. Pour batter into prepared baking tin and scatter remaining cocoa nibs on top.
  6. Bake for 30-35min (or 45-50min for loaf) or until a skewer inserted comes out dry.
  7. Allow to cool before slicing.

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If you’re not bothered about dairy, feel free to use chocolate chips instead! I was gobsmacked upon biting into a slice of this freshly baked zucchini bread because it was incredibly delicious. I mean sure, I’ve put carrots into cake before, and bananas, and beetroot, but the addition of zucchini took it to a while new level of moistness! In a good way. It wasn’t too sweet, and the inflections of cinnamon and nutmeg made for more flavour complexity. Truly outstanding and definitely worth the work of squeezing out the water from the squash properly.

So yes, my mind’s been changed. Zucchini bread is a wonder in itself and if you don’t quite succeed at making it the first time, it’s definitely worth a second try, even a third. Practice makes perfect and this was pretty close to perfect in my opinion! *hops off to wipe out another slice*

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I’m not one to shy away from butter when it comes to baking. I love how it imparts its comforting flavour onto cakes and cookies, and not only does it help keep baked goods moist, it also provides a delicate crumb and texture.

I’ve generally a big believer in cakes, cookies and pastries being indulgent, and to be consumed in moderation. So my question is: Is a brownie a brownie when it’s made using dates and nuts for example, and doesn’t have the dense, fudgy, chewiness that a classic brownie ought to have? I used to say no. But I suppose that in a world that is increasingly becoming more varied in dietary preferences, a brownie is a brownie as long as those eating it are happy to call it that.

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As I dabble more and more into the world of alternative flours and alternative fats, I am unearthing the fact that while it is difficult to replicate the wonders that butter, eggs and plain flour can do, healthier substitutes too can yield exceptional tasting cakes too.

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In this recipe for Marbled Avocado Banana Bread, I used avocado in place of butter. While avocados provide healthy fats, they still miss out on helping to create a soft crumb that butter in more inclined to do. Avocados also tend to have a more earthier flavour to them.

In place of regular plain flour, I used a mix of spelt and dark rye, both of which have a slightly nutty flavour and with a bit more gluten especially in rye flour, a denser texture is created. This by no means results in a cake that is far from delicious. In fact, I sometimes enjoy cakes that are a little heavier because of the ‘chew-factor’ and you don’t need as big a piece in order to feel satiated. Also, as my bananas were really ripe when I made this, I didn’t need to add much coconut sugar to the batter. As such, I relished the natural sweetness of this bread that felt hardly indulgent.

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Marbled Avocado Banana Bread (Yields 1 large loaf)

3 Ripe Bananas (300-360g)
1 Ripe Hass Avocado
30ml Sunflower Oil (Or Coconut Oil, or melted butter)
2 Eggs
150ml Coconut Milk
50g Coconut Sugar
200g Spelt Flour
90g Dark Rye Flour
45g Cocoa Powder
1 tsp Baking Powder
3 tsp Baking Soda
60g Chopped Walnuts

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C and line an 9×4″ loaf tin.
  2. Blend bananas, avocado, oil, eggs, milk and sugar until mixture is smooth. Split batter into two bowls
    – To one, incorporate 100g Spelt Flour, 45g Dark Rye Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder and 1.5 tsp Baking Soda.
    – To the other, incorporate 100g Spelt Flour, 45g Dark Rye Flour, 1/2 tsp Baking Powder, 1.5 tsp Baking Soda, 45g Cocoa Powder and fold in 60g chopped Walnuts.
  3. Place both batters in prepared baking tin and swirl to marble.
  4. Bake 50-60min or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

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As usual, I had to have some walnuts thrown in for texture. I love my crunchy crunch in my bakes. As Mum always says, have all the crunch you want while you still have teeth. Wise words indeed!

I guess it would be unfair to compare alternative forms of baking, or ‘unbaking’ (e.g. raw desserts) to more traditional bakes simply because they are different. It doesn’t mean that one trumps the other. They’re just different species of the same big wide dessert world. Kind of like how all of us belong the the human race but within that huge circle, we have different skin colours, different shapes, different sizes…

In this sense, opening myself up to alternative forms of baking has helped open my eyes to the appreciate the beauty in variation, and that just because something doesn’t follow classic recipes or the traditional forms of baking, doesn’t make it any less authentic or any less delicious – of which the latter, of course, is most important!

 

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I was interested in using Coconut Flour to make bread. I’ve made a Coconut Milk Oatmeal Sandwich Loaf before and quite liked the subtle flavour of the coconut milk in it. I find however, that coconut flour carries a strong coconut aroma and taste.

I’m not going to lie though, Coconut Flour Bread should in no way be compared to normal bread because it’s gluten-free to begin with. That means that the chew factor will definitely be absent. That being said, it is perfect for those who are on a paleo diet, or have celiac, or are looking for something that is high in fibre and protein, but low in carbs.

This bread is a breeze to make because there’s no need for proving. Just mix everything together, throw the batter into the oven (inside a loaf tin please!), and you get a beautiful loaf that’s a perfect canvas for just about anything you choose to eat it with.

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Savoury Coconut Flour Bread (7×3″ loaf):

6 eggs
15g honey (optional but I like that slight hint of sweetness which also makes the bread more aromatic)
110g coconut oil or melted butter
90g coconut flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line a baking tin.
  2. Whisk eggs, honey and oil together.
  3. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt until just mixed.
  4. Let mixture stand 5min.
  5. Bake 35-40min. If top gets too brown, cover with foil until cooked through.
  6. Allow to cool before removing from tin.

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The loaf may be on the smaller side but trust me, with so much fibre in each slice, a little goes a long way. It’s the kind of bread you can eat plain simply because it’s flavourful on its own. I use it more for open-faced sandwiches because they don’t quite hold as well as bread does, but that just means double the filling! Well, the filling will really become the sandwich topping in this case but you already knew that!

Also, these can be sliced up and kept frozen up to a month if you happen not to be able to finish it within 3 days. Likelihood though, is that it’ll be gone before then – even the crumbs. 🙂

 

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We managed another road trip with my parents on Thursday but this time, we weren’t as ambitious as before. It was a straightforward 40-ish minute drive to Cliveden, an estate now owned by the National Trust.

Cliveden actually means “valley among cliffs” and has been home to dukes, countesses and a Prince of Wales! Amongst others, of course. Its grounds are huge and its gardens are gorgeous. The day we went was another amazingly beautiful day, perfect for all the families who came with their little ones for a picnic and to run around.

The vastness of Cliveden made me wonder just how its past inhabitants used to get around. By horse? Carriage? Walking? And what if they needed to find each other? 

There was also an area where The Dollhouse was situated. They had these little tree stumps together with a big stump that doubled as chairs and a table. Dad got quite excited being able to sit on one of the stumps.

We continued further in to a large fountain also known as The Fountain of Love where the shell supports three females who are being seen to by Cupid. Yes, I actually try to do some kind of research on these things especially for those who are interested.

I’m sure there were a lot more to Cliveden that we missed out on simply because it was so big and we didn’t have enough time to explore every nook and cranny.

From this shell fountain, we walked up the long driveway leading to the mansion that now operates as a 5-star hotel.

We didn’t enter the hotel but we did walk round its terrace which gave us a bird’s eye view of the parterre. At 4 acres, this is possibly one of Europe’s largest formal gardens.

How cool is that?!

After reaching the parterre, we decided to try and loop back to the car as tummies were beginning to growl. We kind of overshot one of the turns but in doing so, we managed to get a nice shot of Flo and I amongst the tall trees with not a person in sight (behind us). We were all wondering actually, why the crowds had thinned out.

Mum, I think, was getting tired, so was a little annoyed that we had to walk the extra way to get onto the right path back to the car where lunch was waiting for us.

Olive Bread with Serrano Ham. 

Hopping back into the car, we continued on in search for what is allegedly the oldest freehouse in England. Mum and Dad were brought there by a good friend of theirs before and it wasn’t far off from Cliveden. Only… it’s located in a rather remote area so finding its exact location required some trial and error, before resorting to some old-fashioned help, before getting confirmation from Googlemaps which decided to come through for us only after we’d already asked for directions.

Rickety, uneven floors and a low ceiling greeted us at their entrance.

And the interior did feel quite dated with all the random paraphernalia seemingly gathered over the years, decades, centuries?

The place did look old, but whether or not its as old as the over 900 years that they claim to be, I’m not so sure.

Age aside, it still looked sturdy as a rock and while the boys had their pints in hand to cool them down in the afternoon sun, Mum and I settled for coffee.

We decided to have our drinks out in the warm sunshine even though the inside looked very cosy and intimate.

We managed to make it home much earlier this time around which was nice. Our day felt quite relaxed and it was great being able to spend more time out in the fresh air. Being home early also meant that dinner was served hot and fresh out of their pots and pans.

Grandma made my favourite Spinach Curry!! And Mum’s favourite Braised Chicken with Lily Bulbs and Shitake Mushrooms.

I know, I keep saying that Grandma made my favourite this and favourite that. That’s because they’re all my favourite and just as the flavour of Mum’s cooking is unique to herself, so is Grandma’s. Replicating the taste of her cooking would be a near impossible feat!

Also, on many previous trips, owing to my ED, I refrained from eating Grandma’s food what with the oil and salt and blah blah blah. I would buy my own food and cook them to my liking. So I think that being back this time around and allowing myself to enjoy grandma’s food also made her so much the happier. And there were times after dinner where I’d feel as though I’d overindulged but at the end of the day, it was a real treat being able to eat her familiar cooking so f*ck ED because it was worth it.

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Our first morning in London – Northwood to be exact, the town where my family resides when we’re there. It was a soggy day, quite typical of the UK, and it was a bit of a bummer because I felt like Hamburg had totally impressed me with its weather and while I was hoping that London would do the same, it felt like a lame effort on her part.

I guess London being London, it just had to keep to its ‘usual’ default, predictable self. And that, I suppose, can be quite endearing.

After a nice breakfast at home, Flo and I went for a walk around the area. I just showed him our small little high street, and Waitrose – because we love supermarkets!! And just around the corner, was my old school where I did my A level’s.

Northwood College. 

The sign’s been changed and looks rather stiff and boring now. I mean, it didn’t look that much fancier before but it used to state the headmistress’s name as well and somehow it looked prettier.

Flo and I had a rough idea how we were going to plan our days in London so since we didn’t have much time there, we decided to take the family out for lunch first thing. Grandma and Grandpa chose to go for dim sum and I have to admit, I’ve had dim sum at their ‘usual’ before and wasn’t too impressed. We went there anyway, and whaddya know? Looks like they’ve upped their game. The dim sums were more refined and the only dish that disappointed us badly was the pork and century egg congee. That was just mehhh…

I kind of over-ordered not realising that grandma was adding on quite a few noodle dishes but all of us managed to polish everything off in the end. I helped quite a bit too although I did feel quite bad after. And even then, I hankered after a bit of dessert but decided to wait till later…

Because the fam-bam decided we would go visit Windsor Castle while grandma and grandpa went shopping at the Chinese Supermarket.

We used to visit Windsor every year when my brother and I were little. And every year we’d take a photo on their wooden benches by the castle. We” as in my family, and/or just my brother and I, and/or my parents and my brother, and/or my parents and me. You get the idea.

This time, we managed to get one with all of us including Flo. This lovely lady, she sounded Welsh, who was with her young family, gamely offered to help us take a photo. And she did a great job of it too!

Then after a bit of wandering along the Windsor high street, Flo and I decided to have some ice-cream. Not just any ice-cream. A softee! 

Again, this is something from my childhood that I haven’t had in years!

And with a Flake no less!

I remember Kor and I running up to the Mr. Softee van to buy a cone each whenever we were there in summer.

This time though, there wasn’t a van. Just a quaint little shop by Windsor Castle. A quaint little shop that sold these softees for £2.50 each!! Well, 50p extra for the Flake.

That pretty much summed up our Monday. We went home in time for grandma’s dinner. Mind you, we had dinner at home every day while we were in London because grandma kept enticing me by cooking all the food that she knows are my favourites. Also, she was very flattered that Flo enjoyed her cooking and that spurred her on to make sure she cooked at her highest level each evening. That’s what Chinese families are like – we show our love through food. The more we feed you, the more we love you. 

Tuesday morning, we left home at 10am, and went all old-school with the map to go to Stratford-upon Avon.

It took us a while because we decided to go through Oxford. Bad idea. Oxford had really heavy traffic getting back onto the motorway and just before we reached Stratford, Flo and I were dying for a pee.

We stopped by this super cute little town just before Marlborough, and found a pub that generously allowed us to use their restrooms. I loved how they had their walls embellished with these words/phrases of affirmation.

Yes. “Shine bright like a diamond”. We all know that song, but how often do we remember to shine like a diamond?

Also, this town seemed very into crafts and even the little barricades(?) by the roadside were adorned with knitted ‘hats’.

From the top…

Had your 5 a day?

When we finally reached Stratford, it was right about lunch time. So we quickly found a cafe where we could sit al fresco and order some hot drinks to go along with our homemade sandwiches.

Or breadrolls.

I had the poppyseed one.

With cream cheese and stuffed with salad greens and smoked salmon. Yummers!

Mum and Dad decided they wanted to continue with their sit-down so Flo and I took a walk around the street where Shakespeare used to trod on.

Right at the head of the street they have a statue of a Jester.

And to the side sits Shakespeare’s humble (or not-so-humble) abode.

A picture of me taking a picture of Mum and Dad.

And of course, a wefie!

We were contemplating going to the lake round the corner and were actually walking towards it when Mum informed us that if we wanted to visit Bath or Avebury, that it might be smarter to leave sooner rather than later. So we turned back towards the carpark where we set off towards Avebury since we ascertained that it’d be nicer to walk around the area than to visit a single site. Also, Flo had seen Roman baths in Italy before so we might as well go somewhere new.

And off we went.

Again, the journey took quite a while from Stratford and by the time we got there, it was already about 4pm.

We didn’t manage to spend too much time walking around the huge stones. The area actually consists of three stone circles, including the largest stone circle in Europe. They’re much like the ones set in Stonehenge only the nice thing about here is that you can still go up to the rocks and touch them.

Till today, when summer solstice arrives, so does a crowd of campers who might participate in meditation activities together or to simply enjoy the soundscape concert.

Perhaps some might be there for the sheep. Mum was a little reluctant to trod on the grass because of sheep poop pretty much everywhere. It’s not too bad as long as you watch where you’re stepping, or if you’re like Flo, you might not care at all and go chasing after the sheep.

My boyfriend, the shepherd. 

We were off not long after we arrived. I think we were a bit too ambitious this time taking a road trip to two places that were not very close to each other. Stratford was a bit of a drive away and we would have probably done better spending the day there rather than try to stop over at Avebury. It felt as though we’d spent more time sitting in the car than enjoying the fresh cool air of England and as we’re all not getting younger, you can imagine a lot of backache and leg cramp action going on the longer we sat in the car.

Oh. I also tried this Vanilla Coke Zero. It ended up being the only one I had because I couldn’t find it any place else.

I thought I’d struck gold when I picked up another bottle at our Northwood Newsagents’, only for Flo to point out that it was Vanilla Coke, no Zero. Boo! This was an absolute gem of a drink. It taste incredibly creamy and luscious. ’tis a pity it’s not available as widely as it should be!

Also, at the very place I found my Vanilla Coke Zero, I picked up a packet of this popcorn.

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I wasn’t expecting much from it but it was so good! It really tasted like peanut butter even though they really just used peanut flour and ground almonds to flavour the popcorn. And a bit of sugar.

It blew my mind! On the way back I bought a packet of their Fiery Worcester Sauce & Sun-dried Tomato flavour but that was a bit of a let down. I’ll stick to the Peanut & Almond one.

Grandma cooked my favourites for dinner! I know it doesn’t look like much but Chinese home-cooking is a lot healthier and tastier than the salty, greasy stuff often found at Chinese takeaways.

Braised Chicken with Shitake Mushrooms and Chestnuts. And Glass Noodles stir-fried with Sweet Cabbage and Dried Shrimp. Aaaaand my favourite, comforting bowl of Lotus Root Soup on the side, unpictured, brewed with lots of patience, and love!

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We woke up to some German Toast with toppings specially selected by Flo. He introduced me to Frühlingsquark and Kräuter Fleischsalat as spreads.

I love love LOVED the frühlingsquark aka herbed quark with fresh cherry tomatoes and a touch of salt and pepper. It wasn’t as heavy as cream cheese and not as tart as yoghurt. Almost like an in between. Definitely going to hit the German Supermarket to look for this because it’s so damn good! They need to ship it into our local supermarkets!!

The Kräuter Fleischsalat translates to Herb Meat Salad. It’s almost like a coleslaw with gherkins and strips of meat instead of cabbage. I didn’t like this one too much because it felt heavy on the palate and too creamy for me. Flo loves this though.

After breakfast, it was a bus ride into Hamburg city. I enjoyed sitting by the window and looking out at every day life in Hamburg – bakeries littering nearly every street, people enjoying their coffees, Asian takeaways and little shops selling knick-knacks. It didn’t feel as busy or as crowded as Singapore.

Before we began our walk about town, we stopped to get a cup of coffee and a bagel with mozzarella, pesto, sundried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Apparently breakfast at home was a little too light for Flo. I had a few bites and seriously, it’s like you can walk into any bakery in Germany and not be let down because all of them have high standards on their breads.

People say that France makes the best breads but I think… we’ve got it all wrong. It’s the Germans that have fine-tuned and mastered the art of bread-making, churning out breads that are not only rich in flavour, but rich in nutrients. Think rye, pumpernickel, multi-seeded and multi-grained breads…

This is the Hamburg Rathaus. Doesn’t sounds pleasant in English but it’s actually their Town Hall. Or City Hall as some of you might know it. In front of it is this large piazza where people can mill around.

We continued on with Flo showing me the more CBD areas, and the more upper class High Street where the wealthy flock to for shopping.

Then he brought me to this awesome Gummy Shop! It’s called Bären-Treff and is located at Mönckebergstr. 19. When I walked into the shop, I was like, OK, so it’s just a gummy bear shop. We can get gummies anywhere. But then, Flo started showing me all the different flavours they had – Spicy Chilli gummies, Tropical Fruit gummies, Summer Berries gummies, Ginger ones, Alcoholic ones, Sour Cherry Coke, Coffee… They even gave out free samples to try and they were lovely, gummy and not too chewy. They even had ones without gelatine for vegetarians.

I bought a pack of Ginger ones and a packet of Exotic ones that included grapefruit, mango, guava, kiwi, papaya and passionfruit for my gummy-lovin’ mama.

Then we were off again..

This time, to Mö-Grill not too far away from the gummy bear shop.

Now we all know that Currywurst is a must-have on your German To-Eat list. And apparently, Mö-Grill does it best.

Interestingly, they have two kiosks located directly opposite each other on Mönckebergstr. 11. According to the local,my boyfriend, they are both as good as each other so it doesn’t matter which one you order and eat from.

We ordered a portion of the famed Currywurst that came with a small brötchen, perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.

The sausage itself was infused with some curry powder, and I loved how the casing was grilled to develop a tantalising crust that gave way to the juicy, meaty filling. The crust provided a textural contrast to the overall dish and the curry ketchup with more curry powder dusted over the top gave it a little sweetness to the otherwise savoury food.

Please ignore my hair eating the crumbs on the table. 

I enjoyed the currywurst, standing by the side of the street, leaning against their high tables, and digging into the sliced sausages with a small wooden fork under the warm sun like a bawse.

Food in our tums, we made off towards St. Michael’s Church.

This is perhaps one of Hamburg’s most iconic landmarks. There are lots of gorgeous churches around Hamburg but I believe St. Michael’s might be the most renown especially with its steeple towering high above most of Hamburg’s buildings.


We entered into its sanctuary that was decorated in white and gold. It was quite magnificent and awe-inducing, even more so with its extravagant pulpit. The interior looked quite modern and bore a striking contrast to the church’s outer facade that looked more weathered and aged.

Flo and I made it all the way up the bell tower to the tower platform by foot. For a church standing at 132m, it was no mean feat. We burst through the final door to find a panoramic view of the city and its harbour laid out before us.

Pictures don’t do the reality of Hamburg justice.

We spent some time admiring the view all around before we decided to carry on towards Landungsbrücken. And no, we didn’t walk down. After our hard work climbing up the stairs, we decided to treat ourselves to the lift which took all of 20 seconds to take us back to ground level!

We treated ourselves to some Fritz-kola that’s Flo’s favourite drink. It’s a little like Coca-cola but not.

Then one station by train to get to Langdungsbrücken which is basically the docklands.

As recommended by Jens, we walked towards Dock 10 – it’s the last one so we were almost wondering whether there really was a Dock 10. There was.

And it was here that we ordered the Fischbrötchen. And Oh. My. Goodness.

Never. 

Ever!

Come to Hamburg and miss out on their fischbrötchen.

We ordered the Krabbenbrötchen and the Bismarck Herring Brötchen. And let me tell you: If I could have these every day for the rest of my life, I’d die very happy. #truestory

The Krabbenbrötchen is a light, crusty, fluffy roll spread thinly with remoulade and packed tight with small, hand-peeled brown shrimp. This was sweet and briney. Perfect with that little bit of creaminess from the spread.

I thought that this would be my favourite but then I bit into the Bismarck Herring Brötchen and I was blown away. I have never been so stunned at tasting incredible food until… this!

All it was was a slab of pickled herring, raw onions and brötchen, and it was perfection in my mouth. The salty tartness of the herring against the spicy, sweet, slightly bitter raw onions and the light crunch from the roll. I was in heaven.

I often try to fend off carbs like my life depends on it, but I would eat this any day. Every day. Even at the risk of my breath smelling of onions and my BO smelling of fish indefinitely. While I enjoyed a whole lot of other foods and fischbrötchens the rest of my stay in Hamburg, nothing else came close to stealing my heart away from the bismarck herring.

After an immensely satisfying meal? snack? We decided to walk over to St. Pauli even though the skies were threatening to pour. St. Pauli is known to be more active at night and it was quite obvious just walking through it in daylight that it’s a little bit of a rough area.

The above, my dear friends, is where women are not allowed to enter. And men under the age of 18. I asked Flo, as well as a few other of his German friends what happened if a woman happened to wander in accidentally. They laughed and joked that she might never get out.

But on our last day in Hamburg, Flo’s Mum told us that in her rebel days, she went in on a dare. Basically, it’s a street with women on ‘display’ – some naked, some in sexy lingerie… And then some dude told her she had to leave so she left. That was it.

Flo then showed me Reeperbahn which had sex shops every few steps we took. Some looked quite raunchy and crass but we actually found one that actually looked quite classy. We decided to have a poke around and while some of their gadgets were a little out there, there were some cute, naughty items – mainly edible sweets in cheeky shapes. Did we get anything from the shop? Hmm.. My lips are sealed.

From the entertainment district of Hamburg, we bus-ed towards Elbstrand. It was quite a walk to get to the sand beach, almost like finding a hidden gem. We passed by numerous beautiful beach front homes before finally seeing soft, dusty sand.

And then we took a chill pill. Facing the beach were the docks. And I could appreciate how Hamburg has managed to integrate their at docks seamlessly into city life, unlike Singapore where the docklands are kind of located at the far ends of the island, almost out of sight.

There was a little beach bar called StrandPerle where we planted our bums on and watched bare-bodied kiddies roll in the sand. Which is another observation I picked up from in Europe. European children are happy to frolic in the sand and get grit up their bums while their parents watch on, allowing them to run free as long as they are within their view whereas Asian parents tend to prefer their kids to keep their clothes/swimwear on, while fussing over them, trying to keep sand out of their shoes and trying to make them sit still to build sandcastles.

We spent a good couple hours by the beach before walking further down to catch a ferry back to the main city. There, we trained and walked over to our dinner venue, Ono by Steffen Henssler. We were about an hour early but managed to while away half of that time at a nearby cafe. Then, we went to Ono where they readily obliged to giving us a table while we waited another half hour of Jens and Leslie to arrive.

We decided to go Asian and dine communally. So we ordered two appetisers, two rolls (since Ono is known for their fusion-Japanese rolls), nigiri, and the sashimi platter.

We started with a Sea Bass Ceviche with Avocado Cream and some kind of shiitake mushrooms stock if I remember correctly. This was quite off-balance and too sweet to begin with. Not something I’d order again.

The second appetiser though…

Fared so much better! Beef Tataki with Truffle, Edamame and these delightful crisps on the side. The beef was cooked just so, such that it remained tender and the truffle was strong enough yet managed not to overpower the overall dish.

It took a good hour before the rest of our food came which didn’t quite impress us. Also, they forgot my green tea and we had to remind them which is a big no-no for an establishment so highly rated as this one.

The sashimi was fresh – Tuna, Salmon and Sea Bass. Nothing impressive. Nothing bad. Just good, clean fish on the rocks.

The Unagi Nigiri as well was decently executed.

While the Special Rolls we ordered were a hit and miss.

The Italian-style Tuna Roll was a little meh. It was topped with capers and sun-dried tomatoes to give a sweet and salty finish that overwhelmed the tuna. Again, it wasn’t as good as it sounded on paper.

The Surf & Turf Roll however, had us nodding our heads in approval. Snow crab, avocado and cucumber covered in sushi rice, with a slice of beef on top and truffle ponzu foam butter to finish. This was a standout and possibly our favourite item for dinner, with the beef tataki a close second.

Flo was still a bit peckish after the food so we went ahead and ordered dessert. Jens and Leslie had the ‘Magnum’ Ice-Cream while we shared the Chocolate Mousse/Sweet Potato /Parsley.  Let’s just say that while the mousse was well-executed, light and airy, somehow, it just didn’t go with the sweet potato puree and parsley gel. The crumbs were good though.. Just because you really can’t go far wrong with crumbles.

We were quite disappointed overall by the food and service, especially the service. If service was on point, I think we could have forgiven the sub-par food. Perhaps we set our expectations a bit too high. I think Flo and I have been spoilt by the Japanese restaurants here in Singapore where prices are far more affordable and the quality is generally above average, which is why we felt that Ono was punching too high above their belt in terms of pricing vs standard of food.

Still, we had an enjoyable evening with Jens and Leslie – I think that that was the most important part! It was an amazing day out in Hamburg for me and only writing this post do I realise now just how much we managed to pack into the day. I loved seeing all the sights, especially the areas that Flo used to work at, the food places he used to visit during lunch hours, and Hamburg University where he did his degree in, as well as the auditorium he sat in for his final exam. I could almost picture him going about his day during his years in Hamburg. And that, really, made the day that extra bit more special!

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Took one of my longest flights ever – 13 hours to London, then a 2 hour layover before a 1.5 hour flight to Hamburg. All to meet my dear Flo!!

I got off really hungry because I’d eaten dinner before my red-eye flight and when they served food at around 1am SG time, I simply couldn’t stomach any. Then breakfast was a sad, dry omelette with a small lump of spinach and half a grilled tomato. I hardly touched it. Boo!

Oh! Quick side story. So when I arrived in Hamburg, I had to go through the international passport lane and met with a burly German immigration officer. As I walked towards him, he looked so serious that I felt quite intimidated thinking Oh Lord! Is he going to give me trouble? Instead, he ended up being quite a nice guy asking me why I was there and saying that a week in Hamburg’s too short. I told him I was there because my boyfriend was here (And that yes, he’s German) and that I’ll be back. 

Thennnn… Walking to the luggage belt to claim my bag (which came second in line!!), I was stopped by this guy who said he’d noticed me back in London but wasn’t sure where I was heading. He said that he just wanted to tell me that he thought I looked beautiful and I was like awww.. thanks! Then he invited me for drinks that night which is when it got a bit awkward because right at that moment, the doors leading out to the public waiting area swung open and there was Flo and Naima waving at me. Lol. I told the guy that I was going to pick up my bag and meet my boyfriend. He got the message very quickly and bid me a quick goodbye. Still, props to him for having the courage to come talk to me. 

Now, back to being hungry…

After hugs and kisses, I told Flo I was super hungry and it being Germany, there were quite a few bakeries we could go to within the airport to grab something. I decided to go for a simple yoghurt cup with muesli and fresh fruit. While we were queueing up to pay, I saw these!!:

They were selling giant balls of chocolate with bread rolls called Klatschbrötchen! I think they were what Londoners call Chocolate Marshmallow Tea CakesA thin outer covering of Dark Chocolate encasing Marshmallows And a thin Biscuit Base. I think what the Germans do is they then warm them up with the buns and eat them.

We then went off to where Flo and I were putting up for the week – his friends’ Jens and Leslie’s apartment. After a short rest, Flo, Naima and I traipsed over to the community gardens that Flo says is quite typical in Germany.


There were lots of dandelions!! Love love love. And the weather was gorgeous – refreshing cool air with lots of sunshine.

The community gardens are plots of land that people can rent out to do gardening – especially for those who may live in apartments and not have access to their own. Each plot of land is rented for a period of time and can be extended, and they also have their own shed/small house that can be done up and lived in for a few days – a little like a summer house I suppose.

Hello from us!


It’s apparent how much the Germans love their gardens and so many of them were tended to beautifully. I enjoyed looking at the flowers that cannot be found so easily here. And of course, there were some gardens filled with interesting paraphernalia. Also, there were some large open spaces here and there where people are able to walk their dogs.


Only a few hours together and already he was ‘bullying’ me.

Naima had a plane to catch the same afternoon so we only had a few hours together. I realise just now as I type that we didn’t take a photo together. On the bright side, we have yet-to-be-concretised plans to meet in Thailand end of the year so I hope that works out!

Flo dropped her off at one of the stations where we also bought some lunch to eat in the car while driving to Lars’ home which is a little out of Hamburg.

Flo introduced me to the Franzbrötchen which is usually more a breakfast bread. It’s really more like a danish but more dense, less flakey, and flavoured with cinnamon sugar although they also have other ones with fruit compote or chocolate.

I think the Cinnamon Sugar Franzbrötchen was really good and not too sweet. Not something I’d have for lunch but maybe for two breakfasts – yes, I thought it was quite hefty to finish off in one sitting. I say that when in fact, I had half of it with Flo, and we also shared this Mixed Grain Brötchen with Pesto, Mozzarella, Fresh Tomatoes, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Salad Leaves.

So simple but so fresh and delicious!!

Omnomnom. Definitely going to make this at home!

It took about an hour and a half to reach Lars’ place. Lars is one of Flo’s bestest friends, and his son, Freddy, also happens to be Flo’s god-son. I was quite excited to be meeting Lars and his young family but also apprehensive. I think I was pretty nervous to meet all his family and friends over the course of this trip simply because Flo means a lot to me and obviously I wanted to make a good impression.

Below is a photo of us going through the Elbe Tunnel.


Please excuse the really dirty windscreen. I took this picture because Flo’s maternal grandfather was an engineer back in the day and contributed to the building of this tunnel which lies 24m underwater. It was built to connect central Hamburg to the docks and shipyards that lie on the Southern side of the Elbe River. Pretty awesome huh?!

And this picture I think is super sweet – Flo helping Freddy put his shoes on for us to go for a walk. He wasn’t too happy having to leave his Running Bicycle behind but after a couple packets of gummy bears and a trip to the playground, he more or less had it out of mind.

The area that Lars lives in is really quaint with a pretty nice town centre. The place is related to this German tale about a Hare and a Hedgehog so there are a lot of artefacts of hares and hedgehogs around. It’s quite an interesting story but also pretty long. Essentially it’s about how the hedgehog outsmarted the hare and how no matter how quick-witted you think you might be, you should never look down on anyone because they might be smarter than you assume them to be.

There was also this small little courtyard that had a Gelateria where families kept coming and going to buy their ice-creams and carry on with their day. There were also some elderly folk who were happily indulging in their sundaes. I found this quite amusing because in Singapore, the older generation seldom eat ice-cream, preferring traditional Asian hot desserts, or Ice Kachang on a hot day.

We met up with Lars’ wife, Regina, and their 8-month old baby Jonathan who’s so precious! He seems to be quite an easy baby and it was funny because during dinner, he suddenly gave me this death stare, almost like he wanted to kill me and I was a little shocked. I tried to do a silly face but he just continued staring at me. Then suddenly, his face turned red and Flo and I knew…

We knew he’d done the deed. 

And sure enough, moments later when Lars lifted him up to check on his diaper, he went ‘Oof!’ and little Jonathan started grinning away. Totally made Flo and I break into laughter.

We had dinner at the Bürgerhaus which is very much like a pub. Portions were huge!! I was a little jet lagged so I thought to go for something lighter. In this case, the Scampi Salad.

They gave ample salad that I could hardly make a dent into before filling up. The scampi aka prawns were grilled to have a subtle smokiness that I enjoyed.

We parted ways after dinner because the kiddies had to be put to bed. It was already past their bedtime so Freddy was starting to get a bit cranky. I enjoyed meeting Lars and Freddie, Regina and Jonathan. Thankfully most Germans speak pretty good English but I did feel it a bit not being able to speak German especially with Freddy. So it made it a little difficult to play with him the way I would have liked to.

Note to self: Look up German Language Classes in Singapore. 

Flo and I stopped by the supermarkets to pick up a few bits and pieces for our breakfast next morning and I spotted 1l bottles of Coke Zero! I’ve never seen 1l bottles of drink in Asia. Usually they go from 500ml and jump to 1.5l.

We also found Coke Zero Cherry. Tried it and it wasn’t too bad although the cherry flavour did taste a touch artificial.


But hey! In a country famous for their Blackforest cakes, it’s no wonder they have cherry cola too! 🙂

It was a wonderful first day in Hamburg and I was really blessed with great weather. Also, it being the cusp of summer meant long hours of daylight which helped me stay awake longer. We returned home to Jens and Leslie whom we spent a couple of hours talking with before turning in. Was quite smashed and fell asleep soon after hitting the mattress. Still, I woke up really early because the sun rose at like, 5am. Then I went to sleep some more because that’s what I do – I wake up early and fall back asleep until I’m really awake. Which is just as well because our plan for Tuesday was to make footprints around Hamburg city.

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