My niece and her husband live in Lüneburg, an historical, attractive and livable town located about 31 miles from Hamburg. Lüneburg is located between the Elbe river and the Heathland. The Heathland or Heide (as it is called in German) is rural area with heather, juniper and farm houses covered with straw-thatched roofs. Lüneburg was not destroyed during the war and has retained its medieval character. It is one of the prettiest towns in northern Germany and dates back 1000 years. Lüneburg was once a very wealthy town thanks to its salt industry, which was the gold of the Middle Ages. In the town, you will find old magnificent buildings in northern German gothic style, and narrow alleyways. The old city hall was built in 1230 A.D. and today is still the city hall. I always enjoy my visits to Lüneburg because I get to spend some time with my niece and her husband. On previous visits, I have gone to the Salt Museum and water tower.
After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent three wonderful days in Berlin. We arrived on a Friday and my niece invited two of her friends to enjoy the evening and have dinner together.
I am a creature of habit and like to stay in the Mitte (the new center of Berlin). From here, I can walk to Museum Island and one of the opera houses. Unter den Linden is one of the main streets with the Brandenburger Tor and many more attractions. Our hotel, The Westin Grand Berlin has a grand lobby with a bar where we met my niece's friends for a drink. Then we went to a very "in" and super cool restaurant called Crackers for a wonderful dinner. The menu is diverse, fresh and modern. Someone on Trip Advisor described this place as a cool hip spot with stylish food, I agree! I had vegan ravioli with a hazelnut sauce that was delicious. I like going out with the younger generation and enjoy listening to their stories.
On Saturday, we had a lazy morning and did some shopping in the afternoon. We had lunch at Galeries Lafayette, a French department store. They have a wonderful food section. In the evening, we went to the "Komische Oper," which is next to our hotel and saw Der Jahrmarkt von Sorotschinzi (translated as the Fair at Sorochyntsi), an opera by Mussorgsky. The chorus was fantastic, with some Ukrainian folk tunes that are incorporated into the opera. There is additional music composed by Rimsky-Korssakov. The lineup of folk archetypes includes a drunken father, a daughter, and a stepmother's aphrodisiac baking. She makes dumplings to keep her lover and has a bizarre encounter with an oven-ready turkey.
A wonderful weekend goes by fast. On Sunday, we strolled along the Spree River visiting some open-air markets and the Alte Nationalgallerie at Museum Island. Museum Island is now a UNESCO world heritage site and I always enjoy a visit to one their beautiful museums. The Old National Gallery shows a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork. You will find many famous names in this beautiful gallery like Cezanne, Renior and many more. This gallery was designed by Fridrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia in the 19th century, who dreamt of creating a "sanctuary for art and science".
My favorite painting in the gallery is the "Little Princess of The Heath", die Heidenprinzeßchen by Fritz von Uhde. The little girl reminds me of myself, I like her attitude.
What else is a girl to do when she sees some beautiful hats that are handmade by a local artist? Support the local artist of course! Soon, it was time to say good bye and this good bye was easy, because we knew we would see each other again in May in California.
Whenever you are in Germany, try the curry wurst, a sausage slathered with ketchup and sprinkled with curry and paprika powder. Read more about Berlin here.
Has it really been two months since I went to Germany in April? I went to visit my family and celebrate Easter with them. After celebrating a wonderful Easter holiday, I left my village and took the train to Lüneburg where my niece and her husband live. After Lüneburg, my niece and I spent a long weekend in Berlin. Read more about it on my Wanderlust blog.
Back in Santa Cruz, I have been cooking up a storm and entertaining four visitors from Germany. We all had a wonderful time. I love playing tour guide because I live in such a beautiful area with so many things to see and do. My niece, her husband, and her in-laws are like family to me. Their favorite meal was steak, which my husband barbecued with baked potatoes and salad. For their welcome meal, I made a turkey dinner. Yes, I served turkey in May and it was delicious. I didn't do the whole bird, just the breast and legs which I had bought at Whole Foods. I made the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce from cranberries in my freezer. I will post my new turkey recipe at the appropriate time in November. It was a delicious meal and greatly appreciated by all. I made the turkey enchiladas from my blog with the leftovers.
After my visitors left, I bought a crate (about 28 pounds) of apricots and immersed myself in making jam, cobblers, apricot dumplings and an apricot cake. You can find all these recipes on my blog. I had planned to post a new apricot salad recipe, but it needs some work before I can do it. In the meantime, I cooked my fish in parchment paper and it was delicious. Instead of green beans, I used shaved zucchini and added some spring onions. It makes a perfect light summer dinner. For the fish, I used northern wild rockfish which was fresh and reasonably priced.
This is a German strawberry cake that is easy to make and brings out the fruity flavor of strawberries.
On my last trip to Germany I was invited to a birthday celebration of my mother's friend and neighbor, Helga. Our families have been friends as long as I can remember. As a child I used to visit them all the time, sitting in their kitchen and watching the women prepare food. I felt like part of their family. It was a peaceful household where I would go when when I wanted to be somewhere else. Helga was a good friend to my mother and visited her regularly and brought her food. My mom would always tell me on the phone that Helga had brought her some herring salad (one of my mom’s favorites), soup or whatever she’d cooked that day. I am so grateful for the kindness and caring she gave my mother. Helga’s husband, Willie, was my father’s friend and both of them farmed together. My father, a gentle and kind soul, mentored young Willie, who always liked to tease young girls like me. On warm summer nights, with the windows open, he and his friend would lull me to sleep by playing their violins, which made up for the teasing during the day.
Let’s get back to the birthday party and the afternoon coffee and cake. In rural Germany a birthday party usually starts around four in the afternoon with Kaffee and Kuchen (coffee and cake). Later in the evening, a hot meal is served. Sometimes, a savory hot meal is served for lunch and then followed by coffee and cake. For Helga’s birthday, all her friends had baked a fancy cake for her occasion. Of course I had to sample each of them and they were all delicious. I managed to get some of the recipes and hope to post them in the future when I have more time—and strawberries are not in season.
For this post, I chose a common German cake that can be bought in almost any German supermarket, already baked (like a piecrust in this country). I don't care much for the commercial variety, preferring to bake my own. These cakes are called Tortenboden or Obstkuchenboden (try to pronounce that!) which translated means “the bottom for a cake” like you would use for a strawberry shortcake. This cake has fluted edges and the bottom is indented to create an edge. I used a Chef Tell dessert pan by Nordic Ware. I often use it to make flan. Any cake pan will do, and it will taste just as good. Once you bake this shortcake, you can be creative and use any fresh fruit you want. I remember way back when my aunt made it with kiwis and it was delicious. In my recipe I decided to use vanilla pudding for the bottom. Creme anglaise would be fantastic but I wanted to keep it simple and easy to make. Personally, I think it is just as good with a layer of strawberry jam. My husband preferred the one with the custard. In Germany, the cake is covered with a glaze that you can buy. Here in the US, you can buy Dr. Oetker’s glaze for fresh fruit tarts at Cost Plus or Walmart. It comes in small individual packages. I made my own glaze by using some sweetened strawberry/rhubarb juice that I cooked and thickened with pectin. Even though the glaze is traditionally used, I think you can do without it. What makes this cake even tastier is a dollop of Schlag (whipped cream). I sprinkled a handful of slivered almonds over my cake and added some blueberries for color.
My German visitors enjoyed my baked shrimp with quinoa and peas. Its a great dish for warmer days.
Strawberries are in season right now. Here are some recipes from my blog. Click on the photo to see the recipe.
The tart and the custard can be prepared a day ahead of time. The pan has to be thoroughly buttered and then dusted with flour to prevent the cake from sticking. The eggs and butter need to be at room temperature. The original German recipe called for an 11-inch cake pan, although I used a 9-inch form and had enough dough left to make three little mini-tarts. My strawberries were very large, but smaller ones would be fine too. For the butter, I like to use European-style butter like Kerrygold. For the glaze, I used some sweetened strawberry and rhubarb juice, but you can use cherry juice or any dark fruit juice. There will be some leftover pudding and strawberries, which makes a great snack.
WELCOME TO SUNNY COVE CHEF
Thank you for visiting my blog. My two passions are cooking and traveling. Traveling exposes me to a wide variety of food and experiences. I walk around cities looking for markets, restaurants, bakeries, shops, you name it, and if it is related to food you will find me there, tasting, smelling, talking to vendors, and having a great time.