HOT CHOCO PARADISE IN BASEL

Happy Monday, everyone! Well, the weather here in Switzerland still hasn’t turned promising yet.. Whilst the wet weather is lingering, go have a hot chocolate! It’ll make rainy days much much bearable and cold days bright! This hidden gem in Basel called xocolatl. I know, it’s a strange name and hard to pronounce, but if you look closely. It sounds like chocolatier!

This place is located right at Schifflande stop in Basel. I’ve been to this place enough times that the staffs recognize me. When I go in, I go straight inside, drop my bag and order myself a hot chocolate. It is THE BEST hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. They’ve got a whole list of different kind of hot chocolate – Venezuela, Congo, Madagascar, Dominican Republic and homemade mix cold chocolate drinks. If you are on the sweeter and milky side for chocolate, I recommend going for white hot chocolate. Personally I love a good dark chocolate and have tried many from their selection, all are delicious but Madagascar is by far my favorite. It has such a beautiful taste that transports me to the jungle and I can’t help to make the „Mmmmhmmm“ sound whenever I savor it. Second favorite is Venezuela. They are excellent quality for 6 Francs each cup (big cup too!). One pays 5.50 for a powder hot chocolate elsewhere. I promise you will not be disappointed!

After stumbled upon this place, I came back again and again for the whole experience. It’s a beautiful, wooden chocolate boutique with the biggest selection I know. They have high quality chocolate bars from different countries, both to savor for yourself and as gifts. Many of their products are organic and fair trade, which really draws my attention. Though I guess you may say this is what we lament — another fancy term we gloss over for the chocoholics, but I truly believe these quality chocolate makers are shaping a lifestyle for a better cause.

The backside of the seating area is quiet, and I noticed different staffs make different hot chocolate. Some are milkier and some are less milky, of course, I go for the latter than the former. The staffs are tentative and you can tell they enjoy working there. Oh, they’ve also got my favorite chocolate brand in there called Original Beans, try the Edel Weiss from this brand. This bar changed my life on how I view white chocolate. It’s superb.

I go there when I have a break, meet friends, or pick out gifts.

Even if you are just traveling in/through Basel. This is a must-to-go place. Indulge yourself in the flavor of real hot chocolate!

Xocolatl Official Website

Opening hours:

Tuesday – Friday

9AM – 18:30

Saturday

9AM – 18:00

Xocolatl on Yelp

 

with love and light,

Paye Tina

AUTHENTIC JAPANESE RESTAURANT IN FREIBURG

So growing up in the Hawaii and California, authentic Asia food was never a problem. You’d have authentic Japanese food all over town, from Tenpayaki and Sushil restaurants are a go-to for weekend dinners. However, the first time I tried Nanamen restaurant here, which cost about 26 Francs for a bowl of ramen soup — probably more expensive than the most expensive bowl of ramen in Japan,  I realize, uh oh.. I’d have a difficult time feeding my authentic Asian food cravings. Since I moved to Basel, Switzerland (the very North East tip of Switzerland), I’ve pretty much dined in as many Asia restaurants in and around Basel as I could and most of the time walked out feeling disappointed, frustrated and unsatisfied. This post isn’t to bash or offend Asian restaurant in Switzerland, after all, there isn’t much demand, supplies are limited and manpower is very expensive and I know what authentic Asia food taste like. This itself is a topic itself.

Without straying away, thanks to my Japanese students, she recommended the most authentic Japanese food I’ve had here in Switzerland/France/Germany. This restaurant is located in Freiburg, about 50 minutes drive from Basel, called Basho-An. Just right in the city center of Freiburg. From outside you can already peak in from the window to see all the wooden decorations. As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted by all Japanese staffs and served the traditional Japanese way (a warm hand towel to start off). My first impression was: Yes, we came to the right place! I’ve never seen so many Japanese people here in Europe and they are all here! I felt I was back in the States or Asia. Many customers were there on their own, enjoying a set dish all to themselves. I was drooling already!

So Marc ordered the set menu for 40 euros, which I thought was very reasonable with all the little delicacies one after another. I, on the other hand, picked one out of two sets of selection so I had two plates. I order the Salmon with Teriyaki sauce and a sushi platter. This is what it looked like.

It came with a light salad with Japanese dressing. But because I LOVE to eat anything teriyaki with rice, I ordered a bowl of rice for the side. My sushi platter looked like this:

The sushi was really smooth and warm. You can actually taste the freshness of the fish. Unlike fast food sushi outside where the sushi rice is served cold and a bit hard, this melts in your mouth.

Marc’s order, on the other hand, served slowly one after another. He first had three appetizer assortments, with sliced beef and some ginger dressing, stewed daikon that was so soft, I guess they let it sit for many hours, and tofu, all served in these delicate small dishes.

Then a light soup which tempura potatoes, mushroom and some greens. The soup was absolutely delicious. It reminds me of home, so much flavor and fragrance in a clear soup. Light and healthy.

Then a salad with bacon (I love how they do that boiled cauliflower in the salad, gave me inspirations!)

And for some reason I forgot to take a photo of the main dish, but it was chicked cooked in miso sauce with chopped garlic. 🙁 sorry guys!

Last but not least… the homemade dessert with coffee jelly and crispy chocolate flakes:

I have to say, this was really enjoyable and satisfying. It was light and flavorful with different variations. I once heard a saying that a really good meal which touch all of your six senses can you make you feel alive and worth living. This was it — really worth the trip and the price. I thought it was very reasonable. We paid total of 75 euros including drinks. I thought it was very reasonable with the quality of food and dishes (keep in mind manpower is expensive in Europe) compared to the service you get and what you would pay in Switzerland. I would highly recommend it to you. Next time I return, I’ll get the Karaage (if you are IN for friend chicken, order that). I saw many other customers getting those dishes and it must be one of their best specialties.

Here’s the restaurant information:

Basho-An (Bashoan Tsubaki)

http://www.bashoan.com/

Opening Hours:

Tuesday to Saturday:
12:00 clock – 14:00 clock
18:00 clock – 22:00 clock

Sundays and holidays: 18:00 clock – 22:00 clock

Happy eating! Will be back with more 🙂

with love,

Paye Tina

HOMEMADE POTATO FRIES

Growing up in Asia, I never really liked potatoes all that much. The main carbohydrates you eat are rice, grains, other root vegetables like sweet potatoes and other starches. When I think of potatoes, I think of a big ol‘ American steak and baked potatoes with sour cream in tinfoil. Potatoes seemed far-fetch and hard to relate.

Till I came to Europe was when realize you can make potatoes taste yummy even if that means putting little efforts in cooking it.

For those who are living in Switzerland or has been to Switzerland, some of their national dishes include full-on potatoes, such as Rosti and Raclette. Oh, I will never forget how filling they are!

But potatoes doesn’t have to be so overfilling. In fact, you can replace rice by potatoes, lentils or couscous, and once in awhile have that crispy french fries texture in your mouth. I’ve found out an easy way to make something like that with so little time and doesn’t requires a lot of additives like cream sauce or a lot of salt. The best part is, it tastes delicious.

Ingredients: (Serving for 3)

  • 3 medium to large organic potatoes
  • salt
  • grapeseed oil
  • additional dry herbs (oregano, thymes or lavender)
  • a pinch of paprika powder

Directions:

  1. Turn on the oven to 150 degrees or „heat up“ mode.
  2. Peel potatoes, cut into small square pieces, half size of your thumb.
  3. In a warm pan (possibly a pan which can be place in the oven). Heat up oil. Once it’s heated, place the potatoes in.
  4. Stir fry for 3 -5 minutes, add salt and paprika powder – till all potato pieces are cover with oil and colored.
  5. Place the pan into the oven, or, place all potatoes evening onto a baking paper.
  6. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes till brow and sizzling.

ENJOY your homemade healthy french fries which can be made anytime and any moment!

with love,

Paye Tina