Thursday, April 30, 2009

Uli's Birthday

I decided to try out my new cookie press for my brother in law's birthday. I love the personalization and it's nice being able to use one of my Mom's old recipes for a touch of familiarity.

The biggest hassle is cutting each and every one of those little letters and characters out, so that they can fit into the press. After that there's the task of washing and storing them, since they are easy to lose, but the results are totally worth it.

The blind debossing reminds me of stationery - which I love. I think they are a fun little way to make a big impact and I'm looking forward to making unique Thank You's and other fun surprises.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Auer Dult

Stefan and I went on a bike ride where he reluctantly joined me to the Auer Dult. After last year I was pretty fortunate, but the carney foods always work in my favor to win him over.

There are so many beautiful details hiding amidst the oddities. I love the covers on these old books. They would look beautiful framed or as a large collection.

I know Stefan was counting his blessings again that we took our bikes and couldn't buy any of the whiteware. I'm always impressed by the large variety and how inexpensive things are. The fish saucier was one of my favorites, but I never really make any sauces, so it would be pointless for me to buy it.

Since this is the largest crockery market, I always look for cookie jars for my Grandma that collects them. There are plenty of 'Rumptöpfe' - which are used for making a fruity liquored punch, however it's really difficult to find a cookie jar. There are so many beautiful designs, but I guess I'll have to commission one of the artists if I want a cookie jar.

As we walked around Stefan slowly gained a bit of excitement once he saw the antique maps, which we both love. I searched through the large box and came up with one of the Alps, where Stefan grew up, and another of Mid-West America, where I'm from. They are both from 1862!

I'd like to frame them to make a collage of important places in our lives. It looks like I'll have to track down Iceland and the Maldives as well.

If you're in the Munich area, the Auer Dult runs until the 3rd of May.

There are also the Jakobi-Dult from 25 July - 2 August, and the Kirchweih-Dult from 17-25 October.

All are located at Mariahilfplatz, which you can get to by taking the U2 Frauenhofer / Klenzestraße, Tram 27, Bus 52 or Bus 152.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Locked Up Abroad

Sometimes I feel like I live under a rock, because I'm not as up to date with pop culture (let's face it - German TV is nothing special... even the Germans agree).

I just learned about a new (at least to me) TV show called 'Locked Up Abroad', and I can't get enough of it. (In foreign markets it's called 'Banged Up Abroad'.

If you don't live in the US or you're not the proud owner of a sling box (we have one, but I still had never heard of the show), you can watch the it via YouTube.

It features true stories of people that barely make it home alive from their international adventures. Some have been abducted, some have made careless choices and end up in jail, but their stories are incredible and harrowing.

Don't even watch the ones about the Philippines without having tissues nearby.

Another series that I really enjoy is Morgan Spurlock's 30 Days. Each episode is an educational, challenging, and controversial look into the lives of others. These episodes can be watched via his website regardless of where in the world you live - (Thank you to whomever made that decision at FX!).

I also learned he'll be doing a movie adaptation of the popular Freakonomics book. I'm looking forward to seeing what that will be about.

Finally I can watch informative documentaries as opposed to Galileo, Germany's sorry attempt to being investigative, as they have 'Jumbo Schreiner' gorge himself on one more 'world's largest (insert type of food)'. I wish I was joking.

(photo courtesy of National Geographic)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First Tour of the Season

Even though I have been giving tours to Salzburg for nearly two years, I love going back. Not only do I get to meet interesting tourists from all around the world, I also get to appreciate the different restaurants and changing beauty.

The Mirabell Gardens are blooming and absolutely perfect at this time of year. Everyone was out enjoying the flowers and the sun. The reactions of the tourists are priceless. They are intrigued by The Sound of Music, Mozart, and the fact that this is my job.

My other favorite aspect is stopping at Demel for their amazing pastries. Since the weather is warming up they currently have ice cream and sorbets as well, which are very very good. Today I had green apple and blueberry, although I'm sure I'll work my way through their rotation.

If you live in the area you definitely should consider a day trip - just look at those flowers! If you go, be sure to check out my Salzburg Visitor's Guide with all of my favorite places to visit.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


My old roommate, who I mentioned taught in Cairo, is now teaching in Columbia. It's been quite a while since we've crossed paths, but we were finally able to meet up today in Lindau. It's a long haul from Muinch - about 3 hours on the train, but it was worth it to meet up with a friend.

Kate was spending spring break in Switzerland and looking for a European teaching job, so it was kismet. We had such a great afternoon chatting about life abroad and all the complexities.

I've been to Lindau before, but we never spent a lot of time checking things out. It was more of a place that we traveled through to get to another point. It's really a charming little place that it's right on the Bodensee (also called Lake Constanz).

These were a few of my favorite details on the streets. The little dogs, outside a book shop, had a sign that said 'caution watch dog', which made me laugh. I also loved showing Kate the 'Osterbaum' that is decorated at Easter with eggs.

I can't wait to find out if she'll be heading this way, as early as August.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mangostin at the Airport

We flew back from London early - and on Easter Monday, meaning all groceries are closed (except for the Edeka at the airport). Usually we run towards the S-bahn in hopes of not having just missed one.

Instead since we arrived at lunch, we stopped at Mangostin (located in terminal 2 upstairs). Stefan took a sushi making course with his office at their restaurant near the zoo, however I had not tried it yet. Now I will no longer go into a panic and feel the need to search my pantry if we're coming home late or on a holiday.

Just beware - the portions are large, but the food is very delicious.

They also offer parking validation if you drive. I'm guessing only for day visits, not long term parking. There's also a flight viewing deck right next to the restaurant, which costs 2€, which could be a fun day trip for little ones.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tower Bridge + Greenwich

After lunch we went to spend the rest of the afternoon with our friends, Katie and Rob, in Greenwich. Stefan decided that we need to make a detour and check out the Tower Bridge as well as the Tower of London.

I was surprised to see how busy the area was, but there were a lot of tourist sights in a small area. I loved the shade of blue on the bridge. It gave it a bit of character.

Seeing this old fortress surrounded by so many modern buildings and a modern skyline was really interesting, but it's great that history has been preserved in the middle of the city.

We got a closer look at the financial area of town while taking the DLR overland rail to Greenwich. Once we arrived we saw the Cutty Sark clipper ship, which is currently being resorted, however the big claim to fame is the Greenwich Royal observatory where they maintain the Greenwich meantime - beginning at 0˚longitude.

I was excited to see the observatory and simply to walk around the area. We made several stops along the way for a leisurely evening at the various pubs. It was really cute and felt more like a village.

Dinner included the quintessential fish and chips. Even after several ciders I quickly recalled why the British aren't really known for their food. At least I tried it again.

Katie was in my sorority in college and joined around the same time that I started dating Stefan. I still remember having him deliver surprises to her on various theme nights and she had no idea who they were from.

It was great to catch up and reminisce about all of the great times we had together, as well as the crazy international lives we're both leading.

Katie and Rob will be getting married this September in Chicago, so we're hoping to make it back for the wedding.

I'm really hoping to see them both again soon - either in London or here in Munich. It really makes me wonder why we haven't met up more often as of yet. London's only about 2 hours from Munich and there are always reasonable flights. It looks like we'll have to change that and see each other more often.

Gordon Ramsey's Maze

I decided to surprise Stefan with an Easter lunch at one of Gordon Ramsey's restaurants. I chose Maze because the menu looked very unique and was supposed to be a mix of French and Asian foods. Another contributing factor was that their head chef Jason Atherton had previously worked at ElBulli - the number one ranked restaurant in the world.

Lunch was extremely delicious. The portions are small, because it's more of a tasting menu, but we still left feeling adequately fed.

Here are the dishes that we had:

One of the things that I really appreciate about a tasting menu is that you can try things that you would probably never consider - for me that would include frog legs. I did end up giving mine to Stefan, simply because I have a mental block against it, but the rest of the dish was good.

This was one of my favorite dishes of the day. I love sorbet of any kind and savory sorbets are so interesting. Avocado and crab infused mayonnaise really made this dish decadent.

I loved the idea of elevating such humble foods. I found myself asking what the chefs cook for themselves when they are at home and how they were able to create such a light and flavorful cheese. You really can't even see it, but it was wonderful - the summer truffles on it didn't hurt either.

Although this fish didn't come with the typical British 'chips' it was perfectly prepared. The prawn butter was really a nice compliment.

I opted out of this dish, because I don't eat lamb, but Stefan really enjoyed it. I love the presentation - it was at least appealing for me to look at.

I think I could have eaten several of these. It was so delicately prepared, but the flavors were really intense and delicious.

This dish was a throw back to the 1980's when it was popular. I don't really know what the cake like exterior was made from, because it tasted slightly like marshmallows.

The last course came when the meal was over, which was a nice touch. I was just telling Stefan that we needed some Easter chocolates - and then there they were.

I would highly recommend getting reservations, if you're able to, when you visit London.

Interestingly it was in Grosvenor Square, where Maze is also located, that the tragic nuclear poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko happened at the Millennium Hotel. It's so eerie to think about.

Buckingham Palace

Easter morning we went to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Tower of London. I was amazed at the amount of tourists who had come to see the changing of the guards. We were just passing through.

It really made me think about daily life of the Royal family. It's probably a good thing that they don't know any different, because I think I would feel like a real prisoner living like that.

The guards were warming up and playing songs like Cococabana, which was definitely not expected. I guess even the most serious of beefeaters needs to have fun once in a while.

We played tourists and had our photos taken as we admired the flower gardens. It's nice to see that Spring has finally arrived.

Outside Big Ben was a large protest against the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankans, which we had also seen the day before at Hyde Park. People are definitely good at planning large gatherings to get attention for their causes. That always strikes me as such a European way to get things done, but it definitely works when done peacefully.

And then it was time for Stefan's Easter surprise...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Waterloo, Thames, + Chinatown

On our way to the Borough Market we decided to walk along the Thames and see a few of the sites along the way. It was another drizzly day, but that didn't keep the locals or tourists from shopping and exploring the city.

We ended up at the Waterloo tube line since many of the lines were undergoing construction, however it happened to be a pleasant detour.

'The Tunnel' as it is called, is a place of authorized graffiti. I like the idea of having an evolving and ever changing canvas that people can gather at and modify.

Nearly every inch of wall is covered - some places have more interesting or sophisticated designs, while other places are simply people leaving their mark.

On the sign at the opening of the tunnel it states:

No Sexism. No racism. No Adverts.
Please take empty cans and litter home.
All painting on grey walls will be removed.
You don't have to be a gangster to paint here, so please don't behave like one.
I would have painted something myself if we had paint. I guess I'll have to buy some next time and think of something creative in the meantime.

The painters must be pretty dedicated - we saw several who brought buckets of paint and many must bring ladders to reach the heights so far up. It's very impressive. I would be intrigued to see how much it changes over the course of time.

Walking along the Thames was a big contrast from the colored area at Waterloo. It was nice to see people relaxing, especially the adorable father and son who built a little bench on the shore for a game of chess. What great memories that little guy will have from such a thoughtful Dad.

After walking through town all day we made our way to Chinatown and our appetites had finally returned from visiting the Borough Market. It was perfect timing because we saw Haozhan, a modern oriental restaurant.

I ordered wasabi prawns, because I have a not so slight wasabi obsession and then we also had the fried ice cream for dessert. The entire dinner was great, as was the day.

Borough Market

Several friends suggested we visit the Borough Market, which is only open several days a week. The website gave me an idea of what to expect, however I was definitely not prepared for endless amounts and types of foods. It was really wonderful.

The colors and textures are so visually stunning - not to mention the options are slightly overwhelming. The typical produce is available as are many other more obscure options. There are both fresh ingredients and prepared food, so there really is something for everyone from many corners of the world.

The crowds can be slightly discouraging and sometimes I got frustrated feeling as though I was being herded around, but it's still worth the trip. It was interesting to see which vendors had the longest lines.

The fish mongers looked like they were very busy. I was impressed with the selection, but I'm certain it doesn't hurt to be on an island. I can see why the market would be buzzing right before the weekend. We have the Viktualienmarket here in Munich, although it doesn't have as open of a market feeling with street vendors.

After walking through the market and taking photos of the beautifully presented foods we tried to pair things down and figure out what we wanted to eat.

I was even surprised to see a German booth as well as a booth serving traditional Swiss raclette. Definitely go early and with an empty stomach because there is a constant crowd and always something else that looks delectable. As we were look around Stefan asked if it was open the next day, because he was enjoying himself so much.

In attempt to be healthy we started with a fresh smoothie and a shot of wheatgrass, which they said was equal to three days worth of green vegetables.

For lunch, I chose a veggie burger, which was very filling and Stefan opted for a venison burger, although they had other unique meats like ostrich as well.

Unfortunately I couldn't eat any of the pastries or buy any of the fresh ingredients to cook with. Next time I know to get a pastry first, so I won't be stuffed to the gills. I took a picture of the baklava that looked very similar to the ones we sampled in Cairo. It was labeled, so I'm hoping to find a few of the recipes and try my hand at that.

In addition to the various foods there were also plenty of beautiful flowers. It's such a colorful and visually appealing market and definitely worth the trip if you happen to be in the area Thursday - Saturday.