Behind the scenes of ‘Eat, Little Bird’ blog
Meet Thanh Berthou – a jet-setting lawyer turned blogger, with an unwavering passion for food, photography and travel. An Australian-born Vietnamese, Thanh lives in Switzerland with her husband and kids, and spends her days experimenting with recipes dreaming up all things delicious on her blog Eat, Little Bird.
A Day in the Life of Thanh Berthou
Where do you call home and what inspires you about it?
I was born in Australia and relocated to Zurich nearly 10 years ago for work. Zurich is a really beautiful city; I love being so close to the lake and the mountains. I knew I wanted to live here when I saw how the locals took a proper lunch hour each day to enjoy a hot three-course meal, and they would only return to work once they had finished their coffee!
Describe a day in the life of Thanh – Eat, Little Bird blogger?
On a typical day, I bundle up both kids in the morning and take them for a walk by the lake. Afterwards we stop at the farmers markets to buy some fruit and vegetables, and morning tea from the bakery stand. After lunch, both kids tend to take a long nap, which gives me an opportunity to do a bit of blogging and to work on client projects. I do all my food photography with natural light, so it takes a lot of organisation to cook and prepare for a shoot. The end of the day, once both kids are tucked in for the evening, is when I do most of my work, such as photo editing and recipe testing.
What inspires you in your work?
I used to work as a lawyer for an international company and really enjoyed interacting with colleagues from around the world. When the business day was over, I always found food to be a welcome topic of conversation, no matter which country I was in at the time. Being able to experience lots of different food during my travels inspired me to start Eat, Little Bird as a way of sharing recipes and food stories.
Has your blog opened up opportunities for you?
I started Eat, Little Bird as a creative outlet and never really thought that it could be an alternative career for me. I’m flattered to be working with various media outlets, and to have the opportunity to pursue a line of work that I enjoy. It also allows me to spend more time with my kids while they’re still young. I’m taking it one day at a time – whether I end up behind the camera or back in the courtroom, I’m happy to be trying something new.
Thanh’s Best Kept Secrets
I khoollect a few …
Cookbooks. I have over 400 cookbooks in English, French and German. I also have a thing for kitchenware and often find myself bringing back fragile teacups in my carry-on luggage whenever I travel.
What’s your favourite item in your khoollection?
I’m quite fond of my collection of La Signora Caffettiera coffee pots. I first saw them on an episode of Nigella Bites and loved their shape and form. I also love the ritual of making coffee on the stove – if I had a Nespresso machine I would probably drink too much coffee!
Inspire us with your most incredible holiday memory?
That would have to be San Francisco and the Napa Valley region. We loved everything about San Francisco – the architecture, the landscape and the local culinary scene. I could have a morning bun for breakfast everyday at Tartine Bakery, or relax with a coffee and newspaper at the Parisian-inspired Café de la Presse.
Just an hour north of San Francisco is the picturesque Napa Valley – the ultimate destination for anyone interested in food and wine. We had the complete Thomas Keller experience while we were there; feasting on hot cinnamon doughnuts from Bouchon Bakery for breakfast and fried chicken and pulled pork for lunch at Ad Hoc + Addendum. However, the highlight for us was dinner at The French Laundry. We all thought we were going to burst from eating so much, but then they brought out these little cinnamon doughnuts with a cappuccino semifreddo after dessert – I was in culinary heaven.
Your three desert island must-haves?
Three must-have cookbooks on your bookshelf?
- How to Eat by Nigella Lawson
- Bill’s Everyday Asian by Bill Granger
- The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater
A life lesson that you’d tell your younger self?
In his song Anthem, Leonard Cohen sings “…there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in”. When I look back and reflect on those times when things have been tough, that was when opportunities presented themselves to steer me down a better path. So, if I could meet my younger self, I would tell her to stay strong because everything comes together wonderfully in the end.
What’s your secret ingredient or top tip in the kitchen?
I like to make large batches of crumble and keep it in the freezer for last-minute desserts. When stone fruit is in season, I simply halve some ripe peaches, apricots or plums, sprinkle over the frozen crumble and bake for about 30 minutes in a hot oven. Nothing beats a warm and comforting fruit crumble for dessert!
Top three specialty/design stores in Zurich?
- Sibler for beautiful and practical kitchenware
- Coté West Living for Mud Australia products
- Freitag for their trendy but practical bags made from recycled products
Where to find the best cup of coffee in Zurich?
La Stanza, for coffee made the Italian way.
Best place for fresh produce?
I go twice a week to the farmers markets at Bürkliplatz for fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers. My son also loves the zuckerbrot (sweet buns) from the bakery stand.
Most beautiful outdoor space?
Rieterpark. It’s a lush green park with views of the Swiss Alps and Lake Zurich, perfect for strolls and summer picnics.
What to do on a rainy day?
Head to Conditorei Schober, a cosy tea room in Zurich’s old town, for a cup of coffee and delicious cakes and pastries. The streusel cakes are my favourite.
Where to spend a Sunday morning?
Café Sprüngli at Paradeplatz is a lovely place for a continental breakfast. They make beautiful breads and pastries, but I love their chocolate truffle brioche and bircher muesli.
Have you been to Zurich? Tell us about your favourite spots around the city in the comments below.
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