La Mouette et Les Dromadaires, Essaouira, Morocco by Joseph Polex Wolf

It was hard to imagine waking up in Cambridge when by lunchtime, we were taking our battered old Peugeot properly off-road to La Mouette et Les Dromadaires (The Seagull and the Camels), a hidden cafe perched on a vast expanse of rocky beach south of Essaouria, Morocco.   Exuding a romantic fusion of the French and the Maghreb, this felt more like the start of a Bond sequence than the beginning of a short weekend break.

La Mouette’s food is as rustic and fresh as the ever-blowing winds (the vents alizés) in this part of the world.  We started off with some fragrant mint tea, olives and a mix of salads that looked decidedly French upon arriving to the table – the cafe’s owner is a French expat after all.  But the Moroccan influences permeate, from the local argan oil making the dressing, the citrus tang of the carrot salad and the cumin seed with the celeriac.  All on a backdrop of punchy, cloudy sweetness from the mint tea and some of the most perfect olives I’ve had.

The owner is a big lover of seafood, and gets in the local catch each morning, so a fish course was a must.  The day’s special was turbot, which came fried/grilled in a healthy amount of butter along with potatoes, haricot, and aioli.  French or Moroccan?  Let’s just say you won’t get fish this fresh and delicious for a tenner in western Europe.  Fresh oysters and ceviche also feature if you have the room.

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We finished with thick black coffee and were off to the sea, feeling the 3 hour flight from London brought us a world away.

If you want to get away from it all, the laid-back town of Essaouira is far from the bustle of tourists and the package holiday trade - until recently the only way to get here was by three hour drive from Marrakech.  You can get here more easily for a  weekend break thanks to a new direct flight from London, but don't despair, Essaouira's airport still takes about 6 flights a week so this little oasis won't be disappearing just yet.  More on Essaouira’s eats in posts to come, but for some fresh seafood and atmosphere – La Mouette is a find.

 

La Mouette et les Dromadaires

North of Sidi Kaouki Beach

Essaouira

Morocco

Website (facebook)

To reach by car, take the dirt road off the P2201 (it's good fun!) - see the image below.

Brunching in Berlin by Joseph Polex Wolf

Missed me?  After a few months engulfed in the lab, I’m back!  As it seems that I've left things with brunch in Australia, let's get right back to it with a weekend of fantastic brunching in Berlin. 

It all started with a lazy Saturday brunch at Alpenstueck, a bakery-café in Berlin’s Mitte district.  This place is the perfect antidote to a long week at work.  Enter to a beautiful bakery counter and hunker down in the café for the long haul.

 Alpenfrühstück I & II: Cheese and Meat Breakfast Boards

Alpenfrühstück I & II: Cheese and Meat Breakfast Boards

Keen to eat everything, we decided to have the choice take away from us by ordering the breakfast platters, one with a cheese selection of brie, emmental, and German “mountain cheese”, and the other with a cured meat selection of ham, prosciutto, and German salami.  These came on big wooden boards with a beautiful selection of breads (from dark & dense slices to light buns), fruits, and jam and soft quark with herbs.  Of course I couldn’t resist also ordering a buttered pretzel whilst waiting.  Perfection.

 Freshly baked buttered pretzel.

Freshly baked buttered pretzel.

Don’t forget a lovely yeast dough pastry to takeaway afterwards (even if you have an Andrew-equivalent protesting in the background).  Safe to say it was worth it!

On to Sunday morning.  After a rather heavy night on the town, food was in desperate need and Zoe suggested we all go to a breakfast market in Kreuzberg in the Markthalle Neun.   Not to sound overly gushing, but this was genuinely one of the most amazing food markets I've been to.  And this is despite feeling quite fragile. 

We started off with a cheese plate of buffalo mozzarella, buffalo ricotta on toast, and minted strawberries, and drizzled with tangy balsamic reduction, runny honey, and a good bit of pepper. 

 Buffalo Ricotta and Mozzarella with Minted Strawberries, Honey, and Balsamic Reduction

Buffalo Ricotta and Mozzarella with Minted Strawberries, Honey, and Balsamic Reduction

Then came the salmon portion of the feast, first with a sandwich filled with the largest amount of hot smoked salmon I’ve ever seen (plus some crème fraiche and chives) and then an eggs benedict bun.  I’d recommend just going for the hot smoked salmon in future though – no queue and just an incredible amount of salmon!

 Hot Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Creme Fraiche, Cucumber, Lettuce and Chives

Hot Smoked Salmon Sandwich with Creme Fraiche, Cucumber, Lettuce and Chives

 Queuing for more salmon...

Queuing for more salmon...

 Eggs Benedict Bun with Salmon, Spinach, Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce

Eggs Benedict Bun with Salmon, Spinach, Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce

Next came fried banana bread with bacon, bananas, and vanilla yogurt (no photo unfortunately), an incredible Yemeni wrap with boiled eggs and lamb, and German cabbage and potato salads.

 Zoe shows off the Yemeni Wrap

Zoe shows off the Yemeni Wrap

 German Potato and Cabbage Salads

German Potato and Cabbage Salads

Feeling full (possibly just shy of sickly), we finished things off with a beer and some poppyseed German cheesecake.  The beer definitely did the trick – rejuvenated, we all made our way back to the airport.

 Finishing up the feast

Finishing up the feast

 German Cheesecake with Poppyseeds

German Cheesecake with Poppyseeds

One last breakfast tip: Haribo.  Disgusting you say?  Well, it saved me from hunger pangs whilst waiting for Andrew to leave our hotel each morning.  Just get some.

Direction wise, the Alpenstuck Bäckerei & Café has a sister Michelin-starred restaurant just across the street, which is very much closed in the morning (ehem…early afternoon), so don’t be put off if you see the lights out when you arrive.  Just look across the street. 

 

Alpenstueck Bäckerei & Café

Schröderstraße 1

10115 Berlin Mitte

Germany

website

 

Markethalle Neun in Kreuzberg also hosts a lovely dinner market on Thursday nights if you happen to be in Berlin then (Zoe asserts this is amazing!)

 

Markthalle Neun

Eisenbahnstraße 42-43

10997 Berlin Kreuzberg

Germany

website

Campos Coffee, Brisbane, Australia by Joseph Polex Wolf

I'll keep this post short and sweet.  Best brunch ever.  Setting: tropical garden cum storage warehouse.  Enter by a loading depot.

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 Esteemed coffee and co.

Esteemed coffee and co.

Campos has incredible coffee and a delightfully inventive brunch menu.  After an iced latte and a flat white, I tucked into smashed avo on toast with feta, peptitas, poached eggs, cumin/carrot pickle and micro-greens.  Andrew meanwhile had chicken (crispy skin on) sous vide with chorizo, fried sage, corn, red pepper, feta and probably more that I'm forgetting to mention. The flavour!  They even rustled everything up for us in record time so we could make it to the airport.

 Smashed Avocado

Smashed Avocado

 Chicken sous vide

Chicken sous vide

IMO this is must in Brisbane.  

 

Campos Coffee

Flagship Store Queensland

11 Wandoo Street

Fortitude Valley

Brisbane

QLD 4006

Australia 

website

 

Bread & Meat, Cambridge, UK by Joseph Polex Wolf

Shared a recent Sunday bite with Annie at one of Cambridge's newest eats, Bread & Meat.  This place has phenomenal porchetta, serenaded by the sounds of Parov Stelar.  Seriously, what more can you ask for?  (Porchetta virgins out there - think moist, juicy pork, rolled-up, herbed-up, and covered in perfect crackling)

 Porchetta.  Do I see a halo?

Porchetta.  Do I see a halo?

The menu here is refreshingly simple, with three choices of sandwich - beef topside, veggie, and porchetta.   Needless to say, we chose the Porchetta Path, which came with salsa verde on ciabatta.  Oh and there are two choices of sides, so we had the lot - coleslaw and rosemary wedges.

 Porchetta Sandwich - Slaw Perspective

Porchetta Sandwich - Slaw Perspective

 Porchetta Sandwich - Wedges Perspective (Photo Credit: Annie Robbins)

Porchetta Sandwich - Wedges Perspective (Photo Credit: Annie Robbins)

This sandwich really nailed it - designed to just make that porchetta shine.  And shine it did!

As we arrived on day 12 since opening, thought we'd give some highlights as well as a few points for improvement.  First of all, the people working here are just fantastic.  Incredibly nice and friendly, and the environment inside Bread & Meat is a pleasure to be in.  The sandwiches were pretty much perfect (though I wouldn't be averse to the option of some rocket added in there!).  And the A&W root beer very much appreciated by us two Americans.  On a side note, I have to say that whilst the wedges were solid, the coleslaw wasn't very interesting or flavourful - not ideal on such a small menu!  My other suggestions would be to have some more interesting bread options (it is BREAD & meat after all), as well as some rotating specials - but I think this has already happened since our visit.

 Oink (Photo Credit: Annie Robbins)

Oink (Photo Credit: Annie Robbins)

Now, one final note.  With my researcher hat on, I've found that a Canadian version (Meat & Bread) is out there, which looks super similar to our recently homegrown offering in Cambridge, even down to the logo design ;)  Coincidence, inspiration, or Canadian cousin?  Would be interesting to find out!

Do try and make your way to this beautiful new space on Bene't Street.  I even hear they're open well into the evening, and stocked up for a nice tipple.

 

Bread & Meat

4 Bene't Street

Cambridge

United Kingdom

Check out their Facebook page