Monthly Archives: December 2014

Icicles, Bicycles, Snowmen and Beer Trucks

The snow just keeps coming. These are the winters I remember from my childhood. Here’s a selfie:

These things could kill you...!

These things could kill you…!

You were planning on getting home on that...?

Good luck getting home on that!

 

 

You don't care, do you?!

He doesn’t care!

Things can't be that bad... the beer deliveries are still running! Well, this is Bavaria, after all ;-)

Things can’t be that bad… the beer deliveries are still running! Well, this is Bavaria, after all 😉

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Raiding Mum’s Christmas Baking

Mum’s busy in the kitchen, so I sneaked into her bedroom to investigate the contents of the seven huge metal tins crammed to the brim with her Christmas baking. This is what I found:

Plätzchen

 

Shortbread with jam

Lebkuchen... my favourite!

Lebkuchen… my favourite!

Hazelnut macaroons, made with the neighbour's hazelnuts. They may not look much, but the taste is out of this world...

Hazelnut macaroons, made with our neighbours’ delicious hazelnuts. They may not look much, but the taste is out of this world…

Mehr Plätzchen

Little shortbread stars, lovely and buttery

Little shortbread stars, lovely and buttery

Vanillekipferl

Vanillekipferl

Sadly, by the time I got here, the Christmas baking project was already completed, so I can’t show you any of the steps. However, I did make Vanillekipferl with my friend Lorena last year, and if you want to see how WRONG things can go, just click here 😉

 

 

Christmas Transitions

I´m not really a Christmas person. But then, I am a glutton, and the food sways me. Also the pretty colours. On Sunday, I was strolling through Toledo´s Christmas market. I didn´t even know we had one, until my friend Carmen, who I was having lunch with that day, educated me.

Toledo Christmas Market

Christmas market stall

 

Salt cod

Salt cod

Yesterday, I got on a plane…

The red, sandy soils of central Spain

The red, sandy soils of central Spain

My first glimpse of ¨home¨: magnificent Lake Constance, where Switzerland, Austria and Germany meet

My first glimpse of ¨home¨: magnificent Lake Constance, where Switzerland, Austria and Germany meet

A minute before touchdown in Munich. Oddly green for this time of year. You can make out the Alps in the background.

A minute before touchdown in Munich. Oddly green for this time of year. 

The first thing I had after I got off the plane was a steaming hot mug of Glühwein from a stall at the Christmas market right outside the airport terminal. I really needed that…!

Seven Things I Should Like, But Really Don’t

fishandchips

Is this appetising? Really??

Deep Fried food
I know, I know. It’s precisely the kind of guilty pleasure one should indulge in with fervent panache, but my consumption capacity for grease-soaked fare is pathetically limited.

Fish and chips is pretty much my nightmare meal experience. Afterwards, I always feel like I’ve swallowed both Kathy Burke and Jo Brand dissolved in a gallon of lard. I lived in the UK for two decades and there’s some truly fabulous food to be had, but it’s definitely not this sorry excuse for “a national dish”.

Massages
A little back rub, fine. But don’t ask me to go all the way, please. I can’t imagine anything worse than being splayed out on a table like a pig carcass ready for quartering, and then have a white-coated ‘professional’ inflict deep-tissue bruising and crank all my hinges out of alignment. In Medieval times, they strapped heretics to the rack, but WHY would anyone PAY to have this done to themselves?!

Massage

Flamenco Music
It’s the singing, not so much the dancing, just to clarify. I detest any kind of yowling. Especially when it emanates from short, tubby, medallion-adorned males, bawling forth about some woman having turned them out into the dusty street. Most likely because they were forever tinkling on their guitars, drunk as skunks, never bringing home any dough. “Get a proper job!” is what I want to shout at them, “and if you absolutely *must* be an artist, can’t you do it quietly?! Preferably with a spray can in an underpass in Brixton at 3am.”

Flamenco Singer

Yes, yes, she did you wrong, but pleeeease go cry over it AT HOME!

Cooking
I resent having my three working braincells clogged up with the eternal question of  “what am I going to have for dinner”?

As far as I’m concerned, Sisyphus had it easy. At least, he didn’t have to come up with different ways of boiling, broiling, frying and stirring that boulder up the hill. Unlike my weary old self trudging along the supermarket aisles with that blasted trolley.

You see, when I’m not working or spending time with other people, I just wanna think about what I wanna think about. Which is NOT, “is this onion brown enough yet?” And by the time I’ve chopped up the peppers, the soddin’ onion will inevitably be the colour and consistency of coal tar.

Should I ever have more than two nickels to rub together (and it’s not looking particularly good on that front), you know what I’d splash out on first? No, not a shopping pilgrimage to Dubai. Nor a world cruise. What I truly want in my life is a personal chef. Someone who serves me up delicious, healthy food three times a day. (Followed by cake, of course). Someone who forages for it, cooks it and clears up the blasted mess afterwards. If I don’t ever have to set foot in a kitchen again, well that’s just fine and dandy by me.

Sisyphus

Perfume
People are not, in fact, flowers. Curiously, many do not seem to be aware of this. To me, dousing oneself with overpriced, piss-hued concoctions is the olfactory equivalent of romping up the high street clad in animal print: Bloody ridiculous. And just as offensive.

Smelling ‘clean’ sure is nice, and there there may be a faint whiff of shampoo, soap or washing powder drifting about the person. These are perfumes, too, I realise, but they don’t grab you by the throat and make your eyes water if you get too close.

I really don’t know which is worse – someone chomping on an onion burger with a side order of whitebait sat next to me on the metro or one of those hyperscented wenches bent on fumigating the entire carriage.

PerfumeTheatre
This is how I get sucked in: A bunch of people I really like asks me if I might want to come to the theatre with them, and I think to myself, “oh well, it might be fun this time…”, but it ALWAYS turns into an ordeal.

After the first ten hopeful minutes, when it becomes evident that it won’t get any better, I sit there, for the next six hours, in drowsy disbelief. (My time perception goes awry in three places: the dentist, the gyno and the theatre).

I start counting and categorising stage props. I imagine the actors nude. Or, even better, mute.  Once, I fell asleep. In a Broadway theatre. During Annie Get Your Gun. I feigned jet lag to my mortified friends.

Stageacting

I’m sure getting “dressed up” in old curtains and prancing about in your parents’ bedroom was all very cute when you were five…

Cream Cakes
OK, this is a total shocker coming from me. But I have to fess up at some point. I quite like a dollop of fresh cream, but cloying layers of vanilla, caramel, chocolate or whatever-flavour-gloop they employ in the construction one of those impressive patisserie towers – it’s just not my thing.

Pretty... but... meh!

Pretty, but…

Give me a nice bit of sponge cake, a slab of cheese cake or an entire poppy seed strudel any day.

So, what about the rest of you? Any deep-seated, irrational, Luddite dislikes to report?

Tapas On A Winning Streak!

All good things must come to an end, as did Toledo’s annual tapas competition, which drew to a close last Sunday. For the entire month of November, local bars and restaurants had been showcasing a new breed of extravagant tapas, specially created for this year’s contest. (Yes, there were voting slips, prize draws and stuff!)

I have no idea how many different creations I tried throughout my innumerable outings,  as there were A LOT of participants this year. Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

Botero

Pork balls. Very satisfying 🙂

Alfonso VI

Sliver of fried pork with sauteed vegetables on bread, topped with raisin sauce. Looked better than it tasted, was our combined verdict.

Gulas

Puff pastry filled with seafood. The white stringy things, in case you’re wondering, are baby eels (gulas). These are very popular on tapas, and can take a bit of getting used to.

Lamb burger

One of my absolute faves: lamb topped with caramelised onion and manchego cheese, served  on a curry bun

Pulpo

Octopus with cauliflower mousse and coffee vinaigrette. This place has a knack for the outlandish, and it usually works, but this time, it didn’t. It really didn’t. Pretty to look at, though.

Cheese tapa

Now, what could go wrong with a tapa entirely consisting of cheese? I tell you what: Absolutely nothing. Gimme more!

Foie gras oreo

Foie gras “Oreos” filled with manchego mousse

Foie gras truffle

More foie, this time in the shape of a truffle. You were meant to mix it with the bread crumbs. Interesting concept, but it was a bit like eating lard mixed with sand.

Beef stew

A dollop of beef stew on sliced potato. Simple and delicious.

Rabbit

Rabbit, fancily “rolled up” and drizzled with chestnut compote. Divine! This may have been my overall favourite.

Tapas2

I’m the only one with her eyes trained on the food rather than on the camera… typical!