“Being in silence, surrounded by trees and completely away from manmade noise, allows for ideas to come through,” Judith Gilles, food extraordinaire, tells me as we sit on her rooftop terrace at the heart of Berlin. “Nature is inspiration, and that’s why I love going on holiday.”
Judith has been baking since she was five, and she now conceptualises recipes that are both delicious and nutritious, working with some of Berlin’s exciting eateries to help them develop great food. She took the time to discuss her love of the outdoors with me, and to share her tips and tricks for making the most of a Ferienwohnung kitchen.
“This summer, I took a trip to the island of Usedom, and spent the whole time drinking coffee on the terrace or in flower-filled cafes, getting caught in the rain, losing myself in books, dreaming of dishes I’d like to cook (that actually did end up cooking), playing the piano and sleeping more.” Rather than heading straight for the main (and very resort-y) town, Judith and her sister opted to stay on the other side of the island, where they could unwind and embrace quiet simplicity.
This desire to enjoy the simple things in life is expressed through the food Judith creates: “When I’m on holiday, I want to spoil my body with flavourful yet basic food that will energise and revitalise it, that’s why I don’t eat in restaurants where lots of taste enhancers (such as oil, sugar and salt) are added. I instead hunt out local farm shops, and stock up on seasonal goodies.”
“On my most recent trip, the local store’s seasonal speciality was Bärlauch pesto, and I couldn’t get enough of it! My favourite dish of the trip was a simple potato and spinach salad drenched in that pesto served with olives, capers, cheese, fresh bread and honey, also sourced from the little farm shop. I eat simpler dishes when I’m away; it’s very easy to overthink meals, especially when you’re faced with lots of ingredients, but the best food is the freshest food, and it just needs warming through and to be finished with a dash of seasoning.”
Plus it’s worth remembering that Germany has a lot of really brilliant seasonal food! “When you first asked me,” Judith laughs, “I thought, I have no idea, and then realised the variety on offer and I actually struggle to choose a favourite: strawberries, Bärlauch, Pfifferlinge, kale, pumpkin, rhubarb… this is why I go to farm stores: buy what has just been harvested and you can’t go wrong!”
Many Ferienwohnungen have very basic kitchens, so plan for one or two pans, a few knives, hobs, and perhaps an oven. Tapas style meals, consisting of salads, lightly grilled veggies, bread and cheese, are great, as they allow you to sample the local flavours without exerting yourself too much. Pack good olive oil, salt, and pepper, but don’t overdo it, Judith tells me. “I always assume I need lots of stuff, and I often pack peanut butter (I’m an addict!) and vegan 85% dark chocolate, but much more than that isn’t necessary. Embrace the newness and novelty of being somewhere different. You’ll be surprised by what you manage to whip up from a new, limited selection of ingredients.”
I asked Judith why she’s begun to travel in Germany more, and she replied: “Germany was never the first place I thought of when planning a trip, but after visiting Bavaria a few times in my adult life - and saw the incredible natural diversity of this country (honestly, the landscape reminded me of New Zealand in places) - I’m so excited to explore more. Yes, it’s exciting to fly abroad, but we shouldn’t overlook how great the environment on our doorstep is. Next on my list is the Sächsische Schweiz.”
Breakfast: Fresh coffee, granola (make a big batch before you go - see the recipe below for one of Judith’s favourite mixes), yoghurt and fresh fruit.
Lunch: A lazy picnic-style pick and mix of fresh food, for example, bread from the bakery, a salad made up of fresh veggies, hummus, bread, cheese and olives. A little bit of dark chocolate and roasted hazelnuts for dessert, along with an afternoon coffee.
Dinner: A batch of thyme roasted sweet potato wedges, caramelised onions, toasted walnuts and spinach dressed in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup buckwheat groats
1/2 cup flaked almonds (or whole almonds, if flaked ones are difficult to find, or other nuts if you're allergic)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup broken flax seeds
1/4 cup cacao powder
3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon pinch of salt
3/4 cup currants or raisins
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with baking paper.
2. On the tray, combine all ingredients and give them a good stir - all dry ingredients should be coated with at least a little bit of liquid.
3. Evenly distribute the oat and buckwheat mixture on your tray and bake it in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, occasionally checking on it to prevent burning.
4. Allow the granola to cool slightly before adding in the currants/raisins, then transfer to a big jar.
It will keep for at least a weeks but I can almost guarantee you that you'll eat it within the next few days!
Judith Gilles is the foodie behind judiliciousandnutritious.com! When she’s not dreaming about dark chocolate, peanut butter and ripe bananas, she is probably singing in her apron or serving a colourful variety of dishes (including a chocolate-filled dessert, of course) to supper club guests. She deeply believes in the importance of manifesting mindfulness in our daily lives, in order to become more wholesome. You can find her in her Berlin-based kitchen, where she works as a recipe developer, food photographer, food stylist, cooking course instructor and event host.
All photography is © Judith Gilles.