Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday morning crepes

Me and crepes have history. When I was growing up, weekends usually meant a morning of big breakfasts. My dad in particular loved making crepes, and since he grew up in France, I pretty much consider him an authority on le crepe-making. I spent a lot of mornings with a huge pile of crepes and every topping you could think of (mmm, I'd love some Grand Marnier right about now!), taking our time and enjoying the weekend. When I studied in France, crepes were the go to food for my group of international friends. We'd all bring an ingredient, and the kitchen would buzz with French, German, Spanish, and English as we took turns making crepes and sending the plates into the living room to be devoured with ham and cheese or nutella and jam. When I was in college, the French Club I was a part of sold crepes as a fundraiser every year. Making piles of crepes the night before was how I learned my dad's trick of flipping them in the pan, trying not to drop one on the floor.

When I woke up this morning to snow and chilly weather and a fast asleep Fionn (very rare that I wake up before he does!) I thought, what a good morning for surprise crepes.

Want to make your own?

1 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
2 Tablespoons butter, melted

Put dry ingredients in a bowl, then add wet. Ladle batter into very hot skillet, working quickly to swirl the batter over the whole pan (it cooks fast!). After a few seconds, flip the crepe til it's lightly browned, serve and enjoy.

Hope you had a nice Sunday too!

And hopefully warmer one than in our neck of the woods!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Du muuuuuuhst hin!

Know what's a nice way to spend a quiet Sunday?

With cows of course!

We've heard from a lot of people about the "Cow Café", a reservation required, only open on Sundays, middle of nowhere Bavarian gem where you eat homemade cakes and drink coffee, tea, or (what else?) milk and look out onto cows. We were interested, so I called and reserved us a spot, and after church we set off for the Cow Café.

Kuhten Tag!

Everything was a winter wonderland, and as we followed our GPS's instructions we started to wonder if we were in the right place. But suddenly, we saw a sign with a big cow on it, and yep! We were there.

We were the first ones in the café, and a friendly older lady led us to our 2 person table. The café is on the second floor and the tables all face these giant windows that look down onto cows in their pens. Cows eating hay, cows taking a nap, cows moving around,, doing their business...

Cakes to be eaten...

They were actually fun to watch! They had space to move around the barn, but mostly they just ate. They would kind of lumber over, push their heads through the dividers to eat, and then lumber back to a hay covered pen to swish their tails and look around. Usually they are outside too, but since it was so snowy they were all indoors.

Fionn was all excited to try fresh milk, so he had that and a coffee, while I stuck with tea (mit Schuss, to warm me up!). They had a bunch of delicious looking cakes to try, so we went with a Küchl (Bavarian fried bread with powdered sugar and lemon) and a Himbeersahnetorte (Raspberry cream cake). Though of course, we had some food jealousy after seeing our neighbors' cakes...if only we could have tried them all!

Enjoying Raspberry Cream Cake and tea, along with cows in the background

Fionn's coffee and milk (complete with udders!)

The Küchl

We enjoyed our cakes, fresh milk, and cow viewing and really want to do it again. It was such a fun, typically Bavarian experience, and a cheap date ;)

After the Cow Café we took the long way back to see the winter landscape. Unfortunately we forgot our new camera so everything is cell phone pictures.

Once home, we started setting up our Christmas tree! Fionn and I found a baby Christmas tree for €15, so I turned up the Christmas tunes and decorated it. Then we sat in the living room and enjoyed it, and Fionn took a nap. Nice, lazy, Sunday :)

Christmas tree pictures to come soon!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nürnberg Christmas Market

This has been a fun week. I made some new friends, had make up Thanksgiving (since we spent ours in Strasbourg), got a sweet haircut, and went to a promotion party last night.

And then this weekend was the beginning of the Nürnberg Christmas Market!

I was so so so so so excited about this. I love Christmas markets, and I'd always heard that Nürnberg's was the best. So I was super excited to go today!

We hopped the train earlyish and got there before the crowds descended. We ate all the usual Christmas market fare-bratwurst semmel, potato puffers, glühwein, and lebkuchen (gingerbread). However, this market offered other new experiences, like Apfelkuchla (fried, batter dipped apple rings with cinnamon sugar) and Feuerzangenbowle, a rum based hot drink where they set fire to alcohol soaked sugar above the cauldron of liquid and let it drip down. Very tasty. :)


There's the bulk of the market, where you can find ornaments, winter clothes, snacks, and gifts, but off to the side is the Partner City market where you can shop from international vendors. There was an Atlanta booth (yeah GA!) selling American candy and other American goodies. I was captivated (as usual) by the Ukrainian stall, but ended up buying a tartan scarf from the Glasgow stall. We also stopped by the fountain so I could turn the gold ring, which is supposed to bring you luck!

By that point we hadn't done much shopping (only eating) but our feet were freezing so we ducked into a Starbucks to warm up. Nothing like American portions of coffee! When we came out we were amazed that the crowd had tripled in size!

Now that we were warmed up, we went shopping for Christmas ornaments to decorate our first Christmas tree. Fionn was very sweet and patient as I took ages to pick ornaments. They were all so pretty it was hard to pick just one!

posing with my new scarf

just for you, Mom!

After exhausting the stalls we headed home, bought our baby tree at Rewe and brought it home. We're waiting for the snow to melt off before we start decorating, but once we do I'll post pics! :)

It started snowing on Thursday, and our little village is covered in snow. It looks like a picture (though I wouldn't be too sad if it all melted away, I hate driving in this). They're calling for more snow next week, so expect snow pictures up soon!

Thanksgiving in the 'Bourgs: Strasbourg and Luxembourg

With Thanksgiving coming up, we tried to come up with ideas of where to go on a 4 day weekend. We decided on Copenhagen, but the tickets were expensive. Then we thought about Nice, France. But the flight times didn't work. We thought about going somewhere in Germany. We considered staying home.

Then Fionn suggested, why not Luxembourg?

I was skeptical about tiny, unknown European countries that start with L after our Liechtenstein experience. But Fionn insisted Luxembourg was bigger, cooler, and way more awesome than Liechtenstein, so I agreed.

We decided to break up the trip and see Strasbourg first. It was so great being in France again! My French really got a workout. Our hotel, Villa d'Est, was amazing. The room was great, the location was good, and we got a great last minute deal. Yeah!

We only had one day in Strasbourg, so we tried to see as much of the old city as we could. I'd been there once before when I was studying in France, but it was nice to go again. We saw the Cathedral, lots of goofy stork hats, and we stopped at a bunch of bakeries to try the treats in the window (including Kugelhof!). They were setting up the Christmas markets, but sadly none of them were open yet. Boo :(

Finally, we stopped at an Alsatian restaurant and had Alsatian specialties for our Thanksgiving dinner. Fionn even tried snails for the first time (and liked them!).

The next day it was back on the train to head to Luxembourg!

Fionn was right, Luxembourg was awesome!

We only got to see the main city (Luxembourg City) but it was such a cool place. We arrived in the afternoon and took a scenic walk into the old city. Luxembourg used to be a huge, walled fortress and the fortress walls are still there. It's currently run by a Duke, who is pretty popular with the people, mostly because he seems to be a down to earth guy.

We walked all through the city as it got dark, and finally decided to stop in a restaurant we'd heard about on the internet for some real Luxembourgish food.

Luxembourg is famous for unfiltered beer, so Fionn tried that and I had some white wine from the Mosel region. Fionn ate boudin (blood sausage) and I had "sucking pig", as the English translated menu called it ;) It all came with Luxembourgish sides-broad beans in gravy, potaotes, apple sauce, sauerkraut, and caramelized onions. We were pretty stuffed by the end, and even though we were tired, we decided to walk back to our hotel to make up for our gluttony :)

Saturday we got up early to explore the city by daylight. We visited the Cathedral where the Duke was recently married, saw the Palace, and stumbled upon an outdoor market. We signed up for a walking tour given by the Tourist Office, and then visited the Art and History Museum.

Afterwards we did some shopping and Fionn had his first macaron. They were so good, and the lady even gave us a cassis flavored one to try for free! Mmmm... We also found a guy giving free samples of Swiss fondue. He melted this huge wheel of cheese under a heat lamp, flipped the cheese wheel, scraped the melted cheese onto a plate, cracked pepper over it and served it. It was so delicious.

Soon it was time for our walking tour. It was great. Our tour guide was so friendly, funny, and knowledgeable, and she showed us so many cool things. It was one of the best tours I've been on and I really felt like I got a good feel for Luxembourg.

The tour ended around 6, so unfortunately we didn't have time to see the American Cemetery and Battle of the Bulge stuff or see where General Patton is buried (yeah, I didn't know he was buried in Luxembourg either). However, at the advice of our fellow tour mates, we tried out this Tex-Mex restaurant called Chi Chi's. Holy wow. It was really good, and pretty spot on for Tex Mex. Normally European Mexican food is shorthand for "Terrible Attempt at Reinventing Turkish plus German food and calling it Mexican" but this place actually got it right. Fionn had enchiladas and I had a beef taco and chicken taquito with Mexican salad and beans and rice, and it was all good. Definitely felt like a chain restaurant, but it was Mexican!! :)

We both liked Luxembourg so much we were sad when Sunday rolled around and we had to return home. I thought it was a great place and so interesting! Plus it was wonderful to speak French again and be around French culture. That was a really cool part about Luxembourg-they have 3 official languages (French, German, and Luxembourgish) and they use they all simultaneously. Shopkeepers and waiters speak to you mainly in French, laws are written in French, but the newspaper and TV are mostly in German. Funny, right?

Anyway, check out Luxembourg if you get the chance and make sure to take one of the Tourism Office's tours!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Bamberg, Beer, and Bacon

A few weeks ago, my darling husband suggested we check out Bamberg. It's a short train ride away from us, and he'd heard it had a really cool old city and cool things to do there. That same day, a friend of mine visited there and came back saying how cool it was and how they had this stuff called "Rauchbier" that tasted like ham flavored beer.

HAM flavored??

We were intrigued. So off we went.

Bamberg was a very cute place to visit. Its historic city center was relatively untouched by the war, so a lot of things survived, something that is unusual to find in Germany. We had fun exploring the Dom and the cathedral on the hill. But we were still pretty interested in trying some Rauchbier.

Once you get into the heart of the old city, finding Rauchbier is a snap. It's everywhere and there are a lot of restaurants selling it. We had a late lunch/early dinner in a typical Frankish restaurant (Bamberg is in the region of Franconia). I had pork medallions in a cream/tomato sauce and Fionn had some kind of huge pork thing with fried potato patties. And of course, we had Rauchbier.

It smelled JUST LIKE HAM. It was the weirdest thing! It had a slight ham taste, but not overpowering. You tasted like your average German dark beer, but with a smoky, pork aftertaste. Really weird, but tasty (though not something I'd want to drink a lot of!).

We liked it, though we also noticed there is a slight Rauchbier smell that lingers over the entire city, probably because there are so many breweries there.

Since we were only staying for the day, we left around 6pm, but not before we bought a lock, wrote our names and the date and attached it to the bridge. You're supposed to throw the keys into the river afterwards, so we did :) Too bad we forgot to get a picture of it!