In my continuing quest to pretend spring has started, I have been busy experimenting with refreshing drinks.  Now, I don’t like overselling things but I think it is fair to say water kefir has changed my daily life.  After cutting out fruit juice on the I Quit Sugar Program, I was getting a little bored with water.  Though water kefir does need sugar to start, the process of fermentation means the end result only contains a little fructose.  If you’ve never drank it before, kefir is a fermented drink with a slightly floral delicate and fresh taste.  It has plenty of lactobacilly making it a healthy alternative.  Personally, I find the taste a little strong (though not as strong as milk kefir which I detest) so I mix half kefir with half of San Pellegrino water and sometimes also add some lemon juice to make a refreshing lemonade.  I’ve also used it successfully as an alternative to tonic mixed in with some sparkling water in gin tonic. But then it is my opinion that gin makes anything better!  PS the water kefir grains keep on growing so I also add them to protein drinks befor I blend them…  If anyone needs any, let me know I am happy to share!

 

100 gr water kefir

1 litre bottled water

half a lemon (just the juice if you can’t get organic)

2 dried organic figs

75 gr sugar

 

Mix all ingredients in a large jar with lid and let it ferment for 2 to 3 days.  Midway, open the lid to let off some of the pressure.

After 2 to 3 days pour the water through a (non metal) sieve.  You can keep the kefir in the fridge.  If you wish you can do a second fermentation: mix the sieved drink with any herb you like or some ginger and let it stand outside of the fridge for another 2 to 3 days.  If you don’t open the lid, it will be more carbonated.

If you don’t re use the water kefir grains immediately, you can keep them in the fridge with some water and sugar.

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When visiting London we always try to go to both old favourites and new places (which – let’s face it – is not really hard as there are new places opening up all the time!).  High on our wishlist was Barnyard by Ollie Dabbous (remember how much we loved our lunch there).  In our haste we forgot to check the menu so were rather bemused when faced with items such as bubble and squeak, corn on the cob and popcorn icecream.  I guess if the name didnt give that one away, the rough wooden barn interior and the checkshirted waiters definitely did!  It’s quite a departure from the delicate and beautiful dishes at Dabbous just around the corner.  But if you are in the neighbourhood and need a break from shopping, definitely pop in for a sausage roll and the divine malt bourbon shake!

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Making the most of the last blood oranges… Their juice is perfect for breakfast on a grey day!  Also with my new obsession: the white americano and sourdough bread with pastrami (with the last of the young garlic mustard from Borough Market).

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People often feel sorry for me when they find out I have pretty much cut sugar out of my life (if you want to know how bad fructose is for your body read this).  If you’re interested to reduce sugar try this homemade Nutella, it’s a perfect breakfast on a grilled sourdough tartine!  The recipe is from Clean eating with a dirty mind and is suitable for a paleo diet, I just converted it to metric and tweaked it.

PS The beautiful Pieter Stockmans plate is available from the Joy of little things webshop

Nutella

120 g hazelnuts

120 ml almond milk

2 tablespoons rice syrup

30 g raw cacao powder (I use this one)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

seasalt

 

1. Preheat the oven to 175C

2. Roast the hazelnuts for 10 minutes

3. Remove from the oven. If your hazelnuts are not blanched you need to remove the skin.  Let them cool down a bit then rub them in between your fingers or with a clean teatowel, the skins will come off quite easily.

4. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor for a couple of minutes or until they are a creamy paste.

5. Add the other ingredients and mix until you have a creamy spread.  You might need to stop a couple of times to push down the ingredients.

6. Keeps well in the fridge

 

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When you’re trying to eat healthier, lighter food, holidays can be a bit of challenge.  Greece however completely blew us away with their real and honest approach to homegrown food.  Everywhere we went we had simply prepared greens (chorta), stews with rabbit and lamb and lots of smokey grilled aubergine.  Below are our favourite addresses, see more pics here.

TINOS

Malamatenia

The fennel meatballs were finger licking good as were the wild greens.

San To Alati

The grilled calamari with lemon as well as the goat’s stew were delicous here.  The restaurant has a large wrap around balcony that opens up to views of the sea on the other side of the road and serves vegetables from their garden.  Hugely popular in the weekends when greeks come to stay at their second homes on the island so definitely book in advance.

O Ntinos

The fish soup starter here is offered by the chef.  Also try the heavenly fava bean puree.

Marathia Restaurant

Have a sunset drink on the beach in the Marathia cafe, then head across the road to the restaurant.  Our fav’s here were the grilled feta with sesame seeds and the pork with cinnamon and orange juice.  The food here is somewhat more creative and less traditional than elsewhere.

MYKONOS

Fokos taverna

The beautiful, wild beach of  Fokos was unfortunately too windy to sit on (not an uncommon thing on Mykonos…) but the taverna was well worth the trip: garlicky lentil salad with feta, brocolli with bacon, almonds and raisins were followed by a ceviche with coriander and mussels with wine and garlic.

Oti Aromeine

This taverne is not at the pretty central square of this tiny town but in the back streets.  The rabbit and lamb were easily the best we had eaten on our holiday.

San Giorgio

We stayed here whilst in Mykonos but the restaurant and bar are open to all.  The food is good but the cocktails are even better. Our favourite was the Virgin Holy Rose with grapefruit juice, mango puree and rose water.  For breakfast there is a dizzying choice between many amazing a la carte dishes from buttermilk pancakes to zucchini and mint omelettes, mediterranean poached eggs, homebaked muffins….  The San Giorgio scores very high on the hip hotel scale with beautiful styling all around, amazingly well trained staff (clad in G Star uniforms), breath taking views, lavender room sprays and beach baskets with umbrellas and chilled water.  The only downside to the hotel is its proximity to the clubs on the next beach over which are seriously noisy.

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‘There’s life and vitality and messiness and ugliness – but realness’

Matthew Abrams

Last Saturday, Suzy and I hosted the sixth event for Kinfolk Magazine in Belgium.  The theme: a Wabi Sabi meal. This Japanese philosophy embraces the imperfect and stands for earthiness, orientation toward the present, simplicity and unpretentiousness.

To start with, we found an industrial location, Kerk Gent, old factory buildings waiting to be torn down and redeveloped…  We decorated the place with recycled materials from junk shops – curtains became table cloths, carafs turned into vases – and lots of materials from nature – weathered branches, spiky chestnuts, wildflowers….  The fantastic boys from Sir Catering developed a menu of many small dishes where the pure tastes of two or three ingredients could be enjoyed.  On the table were organic wines from C’est Party, as well as matched teas from Qualitea time.  When darkness fell, we were all drawn to the softly percolating coffee by Or.

We had such a great time meeting new people, and greeting old friends… and are already dreaming of the 2015 gatherings.  If you would like to keep up to date, subscribe to the Kinfolk newsletter or here.

All of the above pictures are by the wonderfully talented photographer Melissa Milis, find more photos on facebook or see the full set here.

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Every since we’ve been back from our holiday in Greece, I’ve been eating greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts like it’s one of the major food groups.  It was one of the recurring breakfast dishes at our hotel and instantly takes me back …  This terracotta bowl from my webshop is just the right size to get the perfect proportion yoghurt / nuts / honey. I only have a few left, get it from here.

PS Like our new table cloth?  For the Kinfolk event we decided to decorate as much as possible with found and recycled materials.  I got these curtains from the local junk shop for 2.5 euro and have been using it as quick and easy table covering….

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