Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen @ Salem

When we arrived at Salem, the time was already 4 o’clock. ‘So we made it here in 3 hours then.’ Mum and I chatted as we unloaded bags from the car by the entrance of Markgräflich Badischer Gasthof Schwanen, our one-night abode. Hmm, where should I park my car? I scratched my head as the car park was already full and found no staff at the reception…

An wrought iron signpost of the hotel…

Mum posing at the front door…

Is anyone here?

I parked the car temporarily by the entrance, asked mum to stay with the car and went inside to look for a help. After sticking my head in almost every doorway on the ground floor, I managed to find a staff who processed our check-in. He also told me where to park my car and give me a sheet of paper with Wi-Fi password.

Our room was on the second floor and we climbed up their well polished staircase…

Before it was converted to a hotel, this building used to be a part of a local monastery. The history was reflected on their pared-down decor.

The place was very quiet…

Our room…

The furnishing was simple but it was well-tended and clean. As I opened the east-facing windows, slightly humid air rushed into the room.

‘Shall we go down, mum?’

We headed to an adjacent beer garden for a well-earned cold beer and grub…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Hôtel Cathédrale à Strasbourg

After another 3.5 hour drive on A4, we finally made it to Strasbourg, a city famed for its beautiful cathedral and Christmas markets. ‘Oh my god! So many people!!’ We found the city absolutely packed with tourists and locals because it was Saturday. Reluctantly, we joined a lengthy queue leading up to the entrance of an underground car park located beneath Place Gutenberg.

‘Look mum! What a pretty place Strasbourg is!’ There was a beautiful carousel in the middle of the square, and all four corners of the square were lined with pretty shops, cafes and restaurants. We could also see some bakeries, ice cream stands and street markets around where the crowd were forming. We could hardly wait park our car and explore the city!

Eventually, we emerged from the underground like two little moles laden with bags. ‘So which way are we going now?’ Our hotel was supposed to be right in front of the cathedral. However, the square was in the middle of a very built-up area and I could not see anything over the roofs of the building around us. The last thing I wanted to do was making mum walk needlessly, so I ran around a bit and spotted the right street by chance. Phew! Hôtel Cathédrale.

Our home sweet home in Strasbourg…

Right in front of the cathedral!

The room was a little on the small side and every nook and cranny around the bed was utilised for the amenities of modern hotels, such as a mini bar, a closet and etc…

Please note that this hotel may not be suitable for guests with limited mobility as the hotel entrance has a few steps and they have no lift from the ground level.

A spiral staircase to descend to the reception on the ground floor…

Apart from the slight awkwardness regarding the accessibility, the hotel was a big thumb-up for us. The room was well air-conditioned and comfortable. Despite the size, their bathroom was great. I especially love their unusually large shower-head!

Another plus point was their petit dejenuer. They provided many variety of bread, cold meat and cheese as well as a huge choice of beverage. Since Strasbourg was right next door to Germany, the hotel must have had German guests in mind who expected German-style breakfast.

Now, let’s explore Strasbourg before the day is over!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

X’mas Eve @ Bernerds Tavern, Edition Horel

Merry Christmas, everyone!
Hope you are having a joyous holiday with your loved ones.
Hubbie & I are having a lazy lie-in this morning because we stayed up rather late last night. We celebrated our Christmas Eve at Berners Taverm, The London Edition on Berners Street.
I was eyeing this particular restaurant with curiosity every time I caught a glimpse of their amazing looking dining room through the windows. So when Hubbie asked me where I would like to be taken to for the dinner on the 24th, I didn’t hesitate to nominate the place.

We arrived at the hotel at 19:00 sharp. The hotel was a stone’s throw from the Sanderson, by the way…

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A funky looking Christmas tree graced the lobby…

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The restaurant was busy with brimful of diners already…

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Don’t you love their decor?…

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Shortly afterward, we were led to our table…

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Every space on the walls was hung with frames arts and it was quite a sight…

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From my seat, I could get a glimpse of their sleek kitchen and I loved the contrast between modem and old-fashioned…

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For starters, I had “Orkney scallop ceviche, avocado, radish, baby gem, jalapeño and lime ice”…

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I had no idea what to expect from the description on the menu. It was best described as “a mini salad arrangement for finicky eater”. The green blob in the middle was avocado sorbet. It was a fun to eat dish.

Hubbie opted for “Egg, Ham & Pea”…

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Deep fried Clarence Court duck egg, mushy peas and crispy Cumbrian ham. It seemed to be the most popular starter and everyone else was ordering it too.

The service at the restaurant was an absolute top class…

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The staffs were very knowledgeable and attentive. Discreet yet very amicable. We had a few brief but entertaining chat with them.

For main course, we decided share “Roasted shoulder of Romney Marsh lamb, chargrilled cabbage, roasted parsnips and mint pesto”…

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When the dish was brought out to the table, I went momentarily speechless because it looked HUGE!
The waiter carved meat off the bone and distributed it on our plates. Can I manage it? I was in serious doubt…

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The lamb tasted delicious. It was succulent and flavoursome. The mint pesto was minty but not overpowering. And the duck fat chips, they were divine! I ate as much as I could, but yet again, I was defeated by the volume of the serving. Across the table, I could see Hubbie was struggling with it too. While his jaw moving mechanically, his eyes were fixed to no certain point and glazed over, as if he was contemplating when to throw the towel in.
I patted his hand which was clenching a fork and whispered, ‘You can put it down now. Or otherwise you can’t have dessert’.

Then, it was time for dessert. I opted for “Warm cinnamon donut, 70% chocolate ganache, almond sorbet”…

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When it was brought to me like this, I wasn’t very impressed. But who wouldn’t? A ball in the dish and 2 scoops of plain-looking sorbet in a separate bowl???
I just looked up at the waitress with a perplexed expression. And she nodded at me with a sympathetic smile, ‘I know. Just break the donut and have it with the sorbet. They taste amazing together’.

So I did exactly that…

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And she was right, it tasted fantastic!!
The person who invented it was a genius. It blew me away. The harmony created by bitter chocolate ganache, cinnamon and almond was distinctive yet complimentary. And eating a freshly made hot donuts with ice-cold sorbet was amazing.

While I was raving about my dessert, Hubbie quietly enjoyed his “Toasted coconut crème brûlée, pineapple,,coconut and Malibu sorbet”…

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Have you ever seen crème brûlée in a square shape?

With our tummy more than full, we walked out to the lobby. Then, I noticed a large egg shape mirror suspended from the ceiling…

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Why didn’t I spot it when I walked in? I was too hungry to see anything else other than the entrance to the restaurant!

After picking up our car at his office, we detoured to Trafalgar Square…

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It started to rain hard and the square was completely deserted. Still, I was very happy to see the tree illuminated eventually…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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