Tuesday, June 22, 2010
A long while back I read a list of the 10 best ice cream shops in the US. I've since visited 2 of them... Ici (in Berkeley, CA) and Jeni's (here in Columbus, Ohio). They are both incredible.
I have to be honest- I'm kind of envious of both places. How cool would it be to have an ice cream shop? Sometimes I jot down lists of potential flavors that would be a lot of fun to make.
Ici is owned by the former pastry chef of Alice Water's Chez Panisse and Jeni's is in the charming Short North area of Columbus, which has great murals featuring Grand Wood's American Gothic and the ubiquitous Mona Lisa. I bet you didn't realize Ohio is so cool!
Whenever I'm home I love to make a stop at Jeni's for her unique flavors and adorable shops. There is a lot of seasonal variety and many locally sourced products, too. Last night I went for a short visit with my friends Cat + Beth.
I ordered the 'study', which is 4 small scoops. My chosen flavors were: Pistachio + Honey, Wildberry Lavender, Goat Cheese with Cherries, and Meyer Lemon Blueberry. Believe me, it's not easy to decide.
My parents are savvy to my love of ice cream, so they surprised me with a Zoku ice pop maker. I'm looking forward to testing it out once we get back to Germany.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Stefan and I made a little road trip to Indiana for the wedding of our friends Mary Kate and Charlie.
We arrived on Friday for the pre-party after a torrential storm. I was honestly nervous that there would be a tornado. According to the radio winds were up to 100 mph and we should try to get off the road. Unfortunately in Indiana the cities are few and far between, so we tried to continue on. The rain was probably the worst I've ever been in, so we had to pull over for quite a while before I could actually see where we were driving, which isn't easy when you can't even see the edge of the road.
Thankfully once we arrived there were plenty of smiling faces and friends to celebrate with.
It was beautiful and very classic celebration with many wonderful people. Their wedding day was perfect - only blue skies and a few clouds. Mary Kate was radiating as ever. It was great to see her and Charlie so in love.
The reception site was right next to the river and had pretty lights hanging from the ceiling, which gave the place a great sparkle.
Everyone loved dancing the night away to the great band.
Since they live in New York City they decided to round out the reception with soft pretzels and hot dogs, which we all appreciated.
Congratulations MK + Charlie!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
(This post is a follow up from our trip around the world. I will be writing a recap for each place we visited during our 4 month trip. Prior to Thailand we also visited India and Nepal).
Arriving in Bangkok was a very pleasant surprise. Our flight with Thai Airlines was flawless. We were upgraded to some luxurious seats and the food and blankets were really fantastic.
After spending several weeks trekking through chaos and poverty we were back to order and infrastructure. Besides being in love with their new airport, we were also happy to see traffic lights that people acknowledged, streets that weren't being shared with animals, and to remember what calm and quiet sounded like.
It surprised me to see so many familiar chain stores and strip malls and me a lot of the US. These are indeed the very things we wanted to escape, but it was nice to see some familiarity. (They had Tesco, Starbucks, and Boots Drugstore, so there was a lot of British influence).
I had always been interested in visiting Thailand, especially because years ago I had been offered a job to teach art at one of the International Schools in Bangkok. It made me curious to see what life could have been like.
We rarely stay in hostels, however I read about LubD's private rooms and decided that was going to be an excellent place for us to unwind. It really turned out to be everything I expected and more. If you're going to Bangkok I'd highly recommend it. The staff is so personable and the private rooms are great. It is always nice to come back to a beautiful and cosy room after a long day of trekking around the city.
The Silom Sofitel, which was very close to LubD, also has a Lenôtre pastry shop, which is a great place to pick up breakfast.
The people at Lub D gave us the tip of going to the main roads to pick up a taxi, because they said those that wait outside of the hotel often over charge. I have to admit I felt a little guilty turning one down and walking down the street to take another, but we followed the tips from locals.
- Bangkok instantly earns bonus points with me due to the ease of using public transport and for having a great airport. We obviously love to travel and do so often, so it's great when a place has so much infrastructure. They have planes, trains, boats, cars, tuktuks, a sky tram and subways.
- Any dim alley way was fair game for setting up some kind of stall, market, or whatever else. It's amazing how intricate the back alleys were. We would wander through and get lost - and occasionally overwhelmed with the smells (especially in Chinatown). This was also the first time I saw a lot of ads for 'shark fin soup', which is appalling.
- The night bazaar at Suan Lum was my favorite for shopping. It was slightly more upscale and had really nice clothing for as little as 3€. Stefan joked that everything we bought was 3€.
- At the Patong area / night market people were persistent in approaching Stefan about all kinds of 'shows'. Unfortunately virtually everything is for sale - women included. Even though he had me at his side the men were relentless, which was a bit insulting, but I guess in that line of work insulting people isn't exactly a concern.
- We often saw people around the city drinking out of plastic bags. I had never seen that.
- Eating street foods can be risky, particularly with the intense heat. We sampled some Pad Thai in the Khao San Road area, which we ventured to in order to see if it lived up to the hype. I am so happy we didn't stay there. It's the traditional backpacking area - complete with its own Apple computer store.
- The amulet market was really fun. I loved to watch people carefully inspect each and every buddha with their magnifying glass. I picked one to bring home.
- The Flower market is intoxicating. I've never seen so many orchids in my life.
- We encountered several scammers, usually under the guise of wanting to help us near the tourist sites. Before we knew it we'd be offered a tuktuk ride for 10 baht ($.33) and they would be telling us the sites we wanted to visit were closed or it was 'Buddha Day'. This happened roughly 3 times. We never took their bait and as soon as we showed up at the sites they weren't closed as they claimed. The main areas where they lurk are around the Grand Palace and strangely the less touristed Flower Market.
- Public transportation (boat included) is really inexpensive. We only had to pay 13 baht a person (about $.30 USD). Be sure not to get splashed - a lot of the river is sewage.
- The immense love of the King and Queen is remarkable. Their visages are everywhere.
- Bangkok has an amazing selection of fruits. We tried the famed mangosteens, which were good, but somewhat odd to eat.
- We noticed the people packing up the markets and their stalls every day and setting them up again the next day. I was curious about the politics to it and how it was organized.
- There are lots of shiny sparkly details at the Wats. I loved to see how intricate things were.
Some of our favorite sites were:
- Wat Pho with the reclining Buddha and a variety of beautiful stupas
- The Grand Palace with interesting architecture and lots of monks walking around.
- The best night view over the city is hands down at the Sirocco Sky bar. Drinks aren't cheap, but it's something you certainly won't ever forget.
Due to a bit of Temple fatigue and simply needing time to recoup and process everything we had just been through, we didn't do several larger touristy things like visit the floating market or nearby animal sanctuaries. It looks like we'll have to travel back at some point, which I would happily do. I can only imagine how beautiful the Thai beaches are as well.
We took the train through Thailand for an interesting journey. Next Stop... Malaysia!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
So I have a little secret I've been keeping... we're spending much of the World Cup representing Germany all the way over in the US.
We only told a couple friends in town that we were coming, because it gets awfully old rushing around trying to visit everyone. Somehow people easily forget we traveled roughly 4500 miles / 7200 km and expect us to travel to visit them once we get here. It's exhausting. The short trip doesn't make us feel so guilty. Our only full weekend in the US is being spent at a wedding, so we won't be here long.
The good news of being on a mini-vacation is spending ample amounts of time with family and the dogs. We're also enjoying the food, of course. Oh, how I've missed Mexican food.
This is also a great excuse to share photos of Josh + Mieka wearing their German leis and American bandanas. They are bipartisan soccer supporters.
Now that I've shared our secret I'd also like to share some of the red, white, and blue fun through M&M's. I was able to track down a few small bags of pretzel, coconut, and cherry (I didn't even know cherry existed).
Anyone can win - both the M&Ms and the World Cup, so simply leave a comment stating which team you're cheering for and check back on June 23rd when a winner will be chosen randomly.
Best of Luck!
[The giveaway has ended. Congratulations to Cliff1976!]
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Germany is going absolutely crazy for the World Cup. Everything is African themed and there are displays in virtually every store window - some have even gone as far as having TVs to broadcast the games in their shop windows.
'African' food is also everywhere, although splashing animal prints and Serengeti scenes on the packaging doesn't make the foods authentic.
My favorite part of the world cup is seeing German patriotism, which is typically not displayed due to their past. It's even come through in things like these Peanut M&M's in German colors.
You'd think they would have at least made things more exciting with the new pretzel M&M's that are available in the US. Germany loves pretzels!
I also wish they would start carrying the iridescent premium M&M's that the US has, too.
Maybe I just have to move to Japan where they always have interesting twists on global products. At least the M&M's people are trying - they even have Coconut M&M's coming out (again in the US)!
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
The sun is shining again and we're making the most of having the biergartens all around the city to enjoy with friends.
We were thrilled to have some visitors who made their way here from London - complete with a side trip to Northern France and Paris. If that wasn't enough, they brought us some Pierre Hermé macarons + pastries. I definitely can't get enough of those. They are so thoughtful.
We had just seen Rob and Katie a couple weeks ago in London, but it's so much fun to get together. I took them to all of my favorite places around town and I ate as if I was on vacation as well. We checked out a few of the biergartens, ate some Bavarian foods, and had lazy afternoons.
Just yesterday there was a gorgeous display of red balloons in front of the Opera House. It was there early in the morning to bring attention to the cause of a children's charity, however it was quickly removed before the early evening.
The sight was impressive none the less. I love balloons. They are so whimsical and fun.
Through the past couple of weeks we visited the Bad Tölz Käsefest (cheese festival). There was a huge variety - including sliced cheeses, cheese pralines, raclette, horse cheese!? and the ever traditional rahmbrot. The little calf was especially sweet, too. The sun was blazing, so we were all worn out when we got back to Munich.
This coming weekend is one of the great city celebrations - Munich's founding birthday.
Unfortunately we won't be able to attend, because we'll actually be heading to a wedding, but if you're in town make your way to the city center for a fantastic afternoon.