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 was a wonderful trip and I appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do this. It was a solo journey so I could spent time with my German family and friends. After an 10-hour uneventful flight (which is always good), I took the train to Göttingen and was picked up by my girlfriend. I was happy to see her and my family when we arrived at the village. There were many hugs and kisses. At that moment, I realized how much I miss them all, especially the children. They are growing up very fast. Despite the 9-hour time difference, I managed to stay up for awhile. The next day I went to Göttingen for the afternoon (click here to read about Göttingen). Whenever I visit Göttingen, I have to go to Crown and Lanz, an old-fashioned German cafe for some cake. Everyone was getting into celebrating Easter, even the town fountain.
Easter is a three-day holiday in Germany. Good Friday is a holiday and the Monday after Easter is also a holiday. My nephew, his wife and her twin sister invited the family for Easter Sunday brunch that lasted all day. Maren, my nephew’s wife’s twin sister baked this amazing Easter cake. It took her long time to produce this masterpiece, but it was worth the effort.
Both of the sisters had created a super delicious buffet with home-baked bread and many different vegetarian salads and dishes. They were doing this while watching their five children. Everybody had a great time and after the feast, we all went for a long walk to see the Easter fire before it was lit. This day alone was worth my trip. Thank you, Maren, and Jessica, for putting on this wonderful Easter brunch.
Easter Monday was quiet. My brother took us to a local restaurant for lunch or Mittagessen as we call it in Germany. We were served a nice meal. If you want to enjoy an authentic German meal and you happen to drive on the Autobahn A7 north, take the Nörten Hardenberg exit and eat at the Rodenberg restaurant. You will not regret it.
If you want a fancier dinner, stop at the old castle Hardenberg outside town. This is a beautiful spot to take a walk and watch people training their horses to jump. My dad and I used to come here when I was a child. Here you will find an elegant Relais & Châteaux hotel with two restaurants and a wellness spa. Or you can play golf nearby. This little town, Nörten Hardenberg, is three miles from my village and I enjoy coming here.
Wanting to contribute something to the Easter brunch, I made deviled eggs. They were simple but good. The eggs had been laid by my brother’s hens that week and they were extremely fresh and delicious with a dark yolk. No recipe was needed: I added some mayonnaise, mustard, a dash of curry powder, and pickled juice to the egg yolks. They were creamy and eaten right away. Once home, I made another batch that was not as creamy, but also very good.
Despite jet lag, I managed to have a small dinner party for three of my friends. I made a blueberry galette, stuffed mushrooms and my husband barbecued his rack of lamb. This meal helped me to get back into the groove, because I would have loved to have stayed longer in Germany.
Simple Deviled Eggs
Here is a quick and no-fuss recipe for deviled eggs. This particular recipe is not very spicy and is a good choice for a picnic or a snack for children and a variety of different palates. Omit the sweet pickle if you want it even less spicy. The egg yolk filling is quite firm. Add more mayonnaise or pickle juice if you want it softer. If you want a totally smooth consistency, mix the egg yolks with the ingredients in a food processor. More mayonnaise will give the yolks more flavor. Using homemade mayonnaise would make this recipe awesome.
Several decades ago when I first immigrated to the United States, I spent my first night in New York City. I was afraid of and fascinated by this amazing metropolis. While living on the East Coast, I visited a couple of more times but never stayed overnight. My first real visit was in 2002, when my husband and I stayed for a week. The wounds of September 11 were wide open and the city was slowly recovering. After that, there were several more visits.
We arrived after a 5-hour flight from San Francisco. The flight was not pleasant, but I managed to get through it by reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Our book club chose this fascinating book for our next meeting. After checking into our hotel, we found a small French restaurant in our neighborhood and had a pleasant meal. It was nice to watch the locals and tourists alike.
I packed this day full of outdoor walking activities because there was a tropical storm warning for New York. We took the subway to have a cronut at Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho. Imagine a marriage between a croissant and a donut. If you like to learn more, click here. The lines were not long and we walked out with our boxes of goodies 10 minutes later. Of course, I had to add a salty caramel eclair to my bag. The cronuts only made it to the next bench in a little park, where my husband and I inhaled them. They were delicious.
Having to walk off some extra calories, we continued walking to Washington Square and then took a taxi to Eataly where we had lunch. Eataly is a foodie's paradise. If you want Italian crafted eats, you will find it all: fresh house made pasta, cookbooks, homemade gelato, great prosciutto and a strong cup of Lavazza expresso. There are several restaurants to choose from. We had lunch at the fish counter. I had a tasty octopus salad and my hubby had the best little flatbread ever (they called it a pizza). It was divine, filled with mozzarella and then topped with clams. The couple next to us ordered delicious looking grilled razor clams and oysters.
In the afternoon, we walked the High Line, a linear urban park built atop a mile-and-half-long stretch of abandoned railroad track. This is a great walk where you can catch a glimpse into the private lives of the New Yorkers from above. We had dinner at Rue 57, a restaurant with memories for us, as we have eaten here on every visit. This time we enjoyed an outside table, where we ate a small meal.
I went to Brooklyn to visit my blogger friend, Suzanne. She has a wonderful blog called a ”apuginthekitchen.com". We had a nice lunch in one of Brooklyn's neighborhood cafes and then went to the local flea market. It was fun to feel like a local. Thank you, Suzanne, for the lovely tour. For dinner that night, I made a reservation at Daniel's Boulud Bistro BD Moderne:www.dbbistro.com/nyc/” It was the best meal we had in New York. The service, the attention to detail, and the food was all outstanding. I didn't take any photos. because I wanted to enjoy this wonderful meal. For a starter, I had beets whipped with goat cheese, gooseberries and pickled shallots. For the main courses, my husband had duck confit with creamy polenta and I had braised Spanish octopus. It was the most tender octopus I have ever had. It was a perfect 10 as far as I am concerned. Our dessert was a molten chocolate fondant and the restaurant surprised us with a complimentary raspberry tarte. The whole meal was a real treat. I hope to go to more of Daniel Boulud’s restaurants in the future.
It was Sunday, and with no rain or tropical storm in the forecast, we walked through Central Park and up Madison Avenue with all its fancy store fronts to the Guggenheim Museum. I love the layout of this museum and the collection of impressionist and post-impressionist art. I am sorry I didn’t make it to the new Whitney. We walked back to our hotel through a street fair and I had a German hot dog. It was good, but I have had better. In the evening, we went to the Broadway show The Book of Mormon. We both enjoyed it.
It was Labor Day and we decided to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on the pedestrian walkway. It is a wonderful stroll with awesome views of lower Manhattan and the New York Harbor. While walking to Brooklyn, I was thinking of lunch at the River Cafe. But because it was a holiday, they had finished the brunch menu and we couldn't get in. We took the ferry back to Manhattan and walked along Wall Street. We decided not to go to the 911 Memorial because they were too many people. Instead, we took the subway to the Chelsea Market. Being a holiday, it was so crowded that my husband and I could not enjoy it. We had a late lunch (or early dinner) at the Spotted Pig. We ate at the bar sharing a hamburger and french fries, which were delicious. For dessert, we walked to the BIG Gay Ice Cream shop to have a sundae. This is a very trendy place and the line was long. In the evening, we went to another Broadway show. We saw Aladdin, which is a fabulous Disney production. Disney remodeled the New Amsterdam Theater back to the days of the Ziegfeld Girls with its unique architecture and art nouveau style. I truly enjoyed my evening.
We decided to take it easy on our last day. We did a little shopping and my husband got to pick a restaurant for lunch. We had a huge lunch at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant. This historic seafood place is located in the lower level of the Grand Central Terminal and has arched tile ceilings in a vintage setting. The restaurant serves two million bivalves a year. I love to watch the oyster stew being cooked. I am sharing a recipe for the oyster stew from Ruth Reichl’s blog on my home page.
My girlfriend's son Max prepared a list of his favorite restaurants in New York. Thank you Max, this list got a lot of approval from locals.
Edie and the Wolf
Big Gay Ice Cream
Uncle Boons Thai
Dominique Amsel Bakery
Xian Famous Foods
The Spotted Pig
Rouge et Blanc
Mission Chinese Vince Giordano at the Iguana Club every Monday and Tuesday night
New York to me is quintessentially American. It is a vibrant city with many different cultures, life styles, and a rhythm of its own. As far as I can tell, there is nothing like it on our planet. Some people call it the Big Apple or the City that Never Sleeps. It has many different names and means different things for different people. We all have seen movies that have shown us the city like King Kong climbing the Empire State Building. My very favorite movie is "When Harry Met Sally" and Meg Ryan is moaning in Katz’s Deli. My claim to fame is seeing Robert De Niro in the River Cafe under the Brooklyn Bridge 14 years ago.
I spent six beautiful days in New York, exploring the city. I ate, I walked and I ate again. Find out about my adventure on my Wanderlust blog, Click here .
Ruth Reichl, the former editor of Gourmet magazine and a native New Yorker, posted a recipe of the oyster stew served at the Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant in New York on her blog. We had lunch there on my last day in New York. Click here for the recipe.
I get up very early these days since I am recovering from jet lag. I love the early hours because they are quiet and peaceful and I have them all to myself. What a treat! It takes awhile for me to adjust and get back into the groove.
Do you remember when I wrote about packing light? Well, I didn't this time. Whenever we have a car, we seem to overdo it. We took a lot of stuff to the village for the wedding: gifts, dresses and shoes just for the wedding. What can I say? My grand nephew really liked his Hawaiian shirt and the flip flops were also a hit. Originally we had planned on returning with an empty canvas bag. However, both my husband and I managed to fill it up. My husband bought a gargoyle at a garden show in our little town where we stayed for my niece’s wedding. I managed to fill up the rest of the bag.
Continue to read about my trip on my
Cooking helps me to reconnect and what is better than a good breakfast.
These banana pancakes might do the job ( klick here for the recipe ).
These crustless little mini-quiches or muffins also make a great breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are filled with vegetables and even taste good cold
(klick here for the recipe).
The wedding and party was such a wonderful experience. I will post about it later when I get better photos. During that time, my husband and I and the groom’s parents and their relatives stayed in a family-owned hotel in a nearby little town called Hardegsen. Neither the New York Times traveling section nor Rick Steeves have been there.
After the wedding, my husband and I drove south to a town on the Rhine river called Breisach. Breisach is in the upper Black Forest across from Alsace Lorraine. It was just right to overnight there and continue to Grindelwald the following day. Breisach is a small historical town, perfect for any history buff.
The way to Grindelwald is beautiful, but driving through Basel with a car is always a challenge, with too many tunnels and always some construction going on. We were happy when we reached Grindelwald, our destination. Our little apartment at the Kirchbühl was waiting for us and Frau Brawand, the owner, gave us a warm welcome. We settled in for our six days in Switzerland.
The first day, we took the cable car to First, a mountain top with gorgeous views and a popular hiking area to a lake called Bachalpsee. There is also a thrilling cliff walk that is spectacular. Leave it to the clever Swiss to build something like this.
Another day we took the cable car to the Pfingstegg, a 10-minute cable ride up the Wetterhorn with great hikes offering unique views of Grindelwald and the glacier. There is a playground for children and a summer toboggan run. Grindelwald is the perfect spot for a family vacation. Everybody will forget about their devices and games when they are in the high alpine country. The Swiss introduce their children to hiking in the high country at an early age, just like the French teach their children to enjoy good food.
We also took our favorite cable ride from Grund to the Männlichen. Sitting in the gondola, you feel like flying above the tree tops and cow pastures with gorgeous views around you. This is something that will take your breath away. Once you reach Männlichen, you have a great place to eat and drink and a fun playground for young children. My man and I had tea and waited for the clouds to disappear before we began our walk to the Kleine Scheidegg, my favorite hike in the Swiss alps. The wildflowers had started to bloom and I was in heaven. As we got to the end of the walk, the Eigner north wall popped up between the clouds, while in the valley below was Grindelwald.
Once we reached the Kleine Scheidegg, there is a train junction for the Jungfraujoch. We took the train back to Grindelwald, although there is a spectacular hike around the Eigner, but we were too pooped. But before we took the train back, I had a piece of delicious apricot tart at the old Hotel Bellevue.
My husband, bless his heart, ran the Jungfrau marathon twice in past years, which starts in Interlaken and ends at the Kleine Scheidegg. My husband and I both had some sort of stomach virus. Thank God it was only for a couple of days. So we had very little to eat during that time. We left Grindelwald and drove to Riquewihr in Alsace Lorraine in France. This is a very touristy but cute little town. I did a little shopping by buying some linen that was spun nearby. This time, we had a great meal at a Grape D’Or . The food was great but the poor waitresses had far too many tables to serve. It was impossible to take care of that many people. I know, because I was a waitress when I was a student.
From Riquewihr, we dropped our car off in Frankfurt, Germany. In Frankfurt, we enjoyed a river cruise on the Main River. I also bought tea and some German spices. When in Frankfurt, I always go to the Freßgass (little street to “gorge”). This street is commonly regarded as Frankfurt’s culinary main street. I always buy something at Ebert Feinkost, a butcher shop that has great take-out food that you can eat outside on benches. The Grüne sauce is fantastic.
I also went to the Kleine Markthalle, where you can have the best Frankfurter Würstchen (German hot dogs). I would have loved to stay a little longer but it was time to go home.
You can read more about my previous visits to Grindelwald, Requewihr and Frankfurt here.
Whenever I pass by a chocolaterie or candy store, I admire the chocolate-covered fruits that they sell and usually end up buying some. I love them all—apricots, oranges, and my favorite chocolate-covered strawberries. When I saw Roland’s strawberries at the farmer’s market an idea was born. Why not make my own? It couldn't be that difficult. And guess what, it is not.
You just have to get the right chocolate. I tried making them with chocolate chips mixed with bittersweet chocolate, but the chocolate looked horrible and I didn't care for the taste. After several tries, I came up with a satisfying solution. I love orange-flavored chocolate in my baking and that’s what I used this time. Mine do not look like the super fancy ones you get in the store and pay $3 each. Mine have more of a shabby chic look made by some clumsy adult (which happens to be me). This would be a great fun summer project to lure your children into the kitchen. And it’s finger-licking fun. I once made chocolate-covered pretzels with children and it was a real hit. We ended up with some chocolate-coved faces as well.
In two weeks, I will be going to Germany again to attend my niece’s wedding, which will be on our family farm. This will be very special occasion for me and I can’t wait. If my niece and her soon-to-be husband don't mind, I will do a special post about German country weddings
I love to travel. Most of my trips are to Europe because that’s where my roots and my family are. Several times I had to get ready within hours, because my mom was so very ill and needed me. (Click here to read about one of those trips.) In the old days, I would have a suitcase full of gifts for my mom’s caretakers and my grand nephews. I don't even want to think of how many pounds of California almonds I brought to Germany over the years.
I no longer do that now, as I try to travel light. Since I often go by myself, I have to be able to carry my suitcase and anything else. I often get help, but I can’t rely on it. I take two small suitcases, one as a carry-on and the other to check through. I buy lightweight suitcases, and my carry-on weighs six pounds when it’s empty. All my suitcases have four spinning wheels.
I put all my electrical devices in the carry-on: iPad, computer, camera, chargers and converters. I always carry some extra clothes, a scarf, an extra pair of glasses, a small cosmetic bag that holds enough stuff to keep me going if my other suitcase gets lost. Various airlines have lost my luggage several times.
Ziplock bags are a life saver and I always have extras. When it comes to shoes, I always go for comfort. Sneakers are “in” in Europe and I always bring a pair that I wear it most of the time. A rain jacket is a must because the weather can change in an instant. I love scarves, as they dress up any plain outfit. I take only the jewelry that I have on me and when I travel to third-world countries, I take all jewelry off. Never take anything you can’t afford to lose. But I always take my own special little pillow
When I start packing, I put a bag in my bedroom and whenever I think of something, I throw it in. My husband makes a list and then packs. He also packs very light. I am so excited that I can barely contain myself. This is going to be a very special trip.
Let's have a toast to the happy couple with this refreshing strawberry punch.
(click for the recipe here)
I used two types of chocolates in this recipe because I didn't have enough of the orange-flavored chocolate. Whatever you use, use quality chocolate. Covering the strawberries with nuts is optional. Roast the walnuts by preheating the oven to 350˚ F. Arrange the walnuts on a cooking sheet in a single layer. Bake 8 -10 minutes, checking them frequently. I like to roast extra nuts to have them available for several days. They make a great snack and are great on salads. The dipped strawberries are best eaten the same day, as the fruit turns mushy otherwise.
I arrived in Frankfurt and took the train to Göttingen. I always buy my train ticket ahead of time through the Deutsche Bahn, which is easy and saves a lot of money. I always give myself an extra hour so I don't have to rush. The Frankfurt Airport has fast train connections at the Fernbahnhof and another station for the regular trains. I usually have a little snack above the Fernbahnhof. There is a wonderfully relaxing upstairs area in the station where you can chill out from the long flight until your train departs.
After a two and a half hour train ride through the German countryside, my brother and one of my grand-nephews picked me up in Göttingen. At the end of March, spring had not yet arrived .
Once at my village, I got to say hello to my family and friends. The next day, my girlfriend and I had a wonderful time together. We did the things we had to do to prepare for the long Easter Holiday. Easter in Germany is a three-day holiday. Good Friday is a holiday and the Easter itself is celebrated on Sunday and Monday. It was a lovely day. My niece arrived and we went into “getting ready for the wedding mode.” On Saturday, she picked out a dress and she and her boyfriend met with several people to make arrangements for the June wedding. I spent Easter Sunday with my dear girlfriend and her family and another friend of mine. We all went to the Easter Fire (read more about it). On the Easter Monday, my entire family had lunch at my brother’s house. We had leg of lamb with scalloped potatoes and red cabbage. Two of my family members are vegetarians, so I added my eggplant spread. All the food was eaten. After that we went for a long walk in the countryside and then stopped at a restaurant to have coffee and hot waffles with fruit, whipped cream or ice cream. We needed umbrellas when it began to rain, but that didn't stop us from having fun.
The next day my niece and I left for Munich. Munich has changed, especially the area I stayed in, which was near the Railroad Station (Hauptbahnhof). I would not recommend this location but would choose something closer to downtown. It was okay and it had a tram to go downtown, but I did not feel comfortable at night. The highlight of our Munich visit was the opera (Staatsoper) to see "Turbot" by Puccini. It was a modern production that occasionally used 3D glasses. We had fun
Our plans changed because both of us had nasty colds. My niece went home a couple of days early so she could rest for a busy work week ahead. Despite our colds we managed to see the most important parts of Munich and had a good time. The only foods we craved were hot soups. I found a delicious rich chicken soup at the Viktualien Market and a Thai restaurant at the Marienplatz.
After my niece left, I continued to explore Munich. My blogger friend Karen from Back Road Journal had recommended several places to eat in Munich, one of them being the Orlando House where I had Bavarian tapas, Weißwurst, with creamy sauerkraut, a veal patty with delicious lentils—and it only cost 14 Euros. The guy next to me was local and savored every bite of his meal. This restaurant and a one-star star Michelin restaurant nearby is owned by Alfonso Shuhbeck, one of Germany’s top chefs. He also has a shop for spices, a tea shop and an ice-cream shop in the same area. He pretty much owns the whole block. I enjoyed going to the spice shop and brought back some spices
Not just foodies, but everyone should go and visit Dallmayr, the largest delicatessen business in Europe with a 300-year history. The motherhouse in the center of Munich is amazing. Even though it is always crowded, it is fun to look at the wonderful pralines, chocolates and everything else. My niece and I had lunch there. I brought back too many sweets.
How to get around in Munich
You can buy a subway ticket for the number of days you need one. My niece and I bought a 3-day companion ticket and it covered the U-Bahn, subway, tram system and buses. You can’t go wrong. We bought our tickets at the hotel.
I took a hop-on/hop-off bus tour and enjoyed the sights .
Places to see
Marienplatz, Munich's main square at the heart of a lively pedestrian zone
The Viktualienmarkt, an open-air market
The Lenbachhaus, a modern and contemporary art museum with works by Klee, Kandinsky and the Blue Rider movement.
The Alte Pinakothek, Bavaria’s best painting gallery, with a wonderful collection of the masters from the 14th - 19th century.
There is also the Neue Pinothek and the Pinothek of the Moderne
The English Garden, the largest city park on the continent.
Nymphenburg Palace, the summer residence of the Bavarian monarchs. King Ludwig was born here. The palace is surrounded by beautiful park gardens. Check the calendar for special events.
The Frauenkirche and several other churches.
If you like cars, do not miss the BMW-world and museum
There is the horrible history that all Germans (including me) have to live with, the Nazi era and the killing of 6 million people. The Dachau concentration camp is a powerful museum and memorial of that time. It is located near Munich.
After Munich, I ended my trip by visiting a friend from boarding school that lives with her husband in the Odenwald near Frankfurt. We had a lovely day in Michelsstadt, an old medieval town, and before I knew it I was sitting in the plane going home.
It’s been over two weeks since I returned from Germany and there is no question that I have had writer’s block. I did not write while I was in Germany and now I am scrambling for words that will entertain you and tell you about my trip. I had a great time, despite having a nasty cough. Going to Germany means so many things to me. I connect with my family and friends, which is so important to me especially as I get older. There is also something personal for me by connecting with my German side: the culture, the behavior, and the way of life. When my mom still was alive. I was a participant. Now I have become more of an observer. I am more relaxed and don't have to intervene as often, other than helping my niece pick out her bridal gown, which was a lot of fun. (Click here to continue reading this post on my Wanderlust blog ).
Just in case you need another rhubarb recipe! Here is simple but delicious
Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp
I'm one of those strange people who likes most airports, the San Francisco airport being my favorite. It always has some interesting exhibits and is new and modern. My husband hates airports. I think the reason I like airports is because I am a wanderer at heart. And when I want to see my German family and friends, I have to fly for many hours. When my mother needed help in her last years, I became a frequent flyer, enjoying the perks that come with it. However, now I'm back to normal, with no more free upgrades or airport lounges. I am still able to fly and that is great. Who is complaining, certainly not me, no way, I still get to go. I am sitting in the back of an airplane, my tush is hurting and the person next to me is too large for the cramped seats. But when I land, I will be in one of my favorite spots on this planet—Hawaii. I have been visiting the different islands for the past 30 years whenever time and money allow us to do so. My husband is a genius at finding reasonably priced flights and accommodations. It must be his Dutch and Scottish genes. Lucky me, I get to enjoy the benefits.
The Hawaiian Islands are a great getaway and have some of the most beautiful scenery that I have ever seen. The beaches are pristine, the water is warm and clean. One can swim with huge turtles and see tropical fish and whales, The warm climate with its cooling trade winds is almost perfect. Each island has its own identity. I love Kauai, the garden island, because it is the least populated and has the most spectacular sites of all, but I enjoy all the other islands as well. The culture of the Hawaiian Islands today is a colorful mix of culture and ethnicity.
This trip brought us to Maui for a week, Maui being one of the world’s most popular islands. When I first went to Maui many years ago, it had not yet exploded with condos and luxury hotels. Every time I come, there is ever more building. One of my favorite hotels is not going to be there much longer for me, because it is being converted into luxury condos that I cannot afford. Makena Beach, not far from the end of the road along the southwestern coastline, will still be there. For me, this beach is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Maui has other beautiful beaches as well, and all beaches in Hawaii have public access, which usually means there is a parking lot with restrooms and showers.
The islands have something for everyone and many choices .Spending time on the beach and swimming in warm water is something I love to do, as long as I have some shade. However, I’m fair skinned and even in the shade, I have to limit my time in the sun. I learned that the hard way. I love to explore the countryside and spectacular valleys. There are are small towns in the Up Country that are fun and have different things to offer.
In Maui, there is the road to Hana, a slow 42-mile drive with breathtaking scenery, across 56 one-lane bridges and more than 600 hairpin curves. Enjoy! But don’t be in a hurry. The last time we drove this, I remember a beautiful beach where we stopped to have lunch and a fruit stand that sold banana bread.
Then there is the volcanic crater of Haleakala (House of the Sun in Hawaiian) which is home to Haleakala National Park. The summit peaks at more than 10,000 feet above sea level, a breathtaking spot from which to watch the sunrise, when a starry sky fills with color and the crater floor glows a deep red. To do so, you have to leave at 3 am, which takes true devotion. On the way down, you will pass through as many as ten distinct micro-climates. On this trip, we choose not to go all the way up but instead went to Makawao, a charming little cowboy town with a Japanese bakery that hasn't changed in fifty years. The sidewalk outside is dated 1943. My sweetie gets his donuts there to take along. I like the library there and always peek in. You might run into Willie Nelson because he lives up there. The reason I go to Makawao is to have lunch at the Hali’imaile General Store, a must for me when I am in Maui.
Another great restaurant on the other side of Maui, near Lahaina, the old whaling town, is Star Noodles a great restaurant where you can experience the new Hawaiian fusion cuisine. They are always full, so I go for a late lunch or order take out to eat when I watch the sunset over the ocean. After all, Hawaii is known for its spectacular sunsets. One of my favorite spots to watch the sunset is at the Sheraton at Kaanapali, north of Lahaina. There is a bar near the beach and when sunset comes, you will hear about the old Hawaii. At sunset, a young man carries a torch up to Black Rock from where he jumps into the ocean
Another nice spot to watch the sunset is in Wailea, where you can have great food and drinks (check for half-price happy hour) in a restaurant called Migrant, in the Marriott Hotel.
Remember Elvis in Blue Hawaii? “Aloha” is the Hawaiian greeting that expresses mutual love and the spirit of these beautiful islands and their people.
November in Germany
For the last three years, my husband and I have taken a trip to Europe in November. The tourist crowds are gone and the flights and hotels are much cheaper. On the flip side, the days are shorter and the weather colder. I don't mind cold as long as it doesn't rain. I wouldn't do the countryside, but the big cities are fun. I enjoy going to the different Christmas markets and museums. We started doing this when my mother was still alive and I was visiting her as often as I could. This year, we went for ten days, spending a long weekend with my German family and friends—and four days in Berlin.
My husband and I flew into Frankfurt and took the train to Berlin, which is easy and provides a scenic tour through Germany. I love trains and take them whenever I can. The Frankfurt airport is like a second home to me (just kidding but almost). There are two train stations, a local one and one for long distances. The Fernbahnhauf (long-distance railroad station) is where I usually take the train to my village or other European cities. It's attached to the airport and is easily reached. The ICE is the fast train, and a ride to Berlin is only three and half hours. I don't like changing trains when I have luggage, and this year we had too much luggage with lots of gifts and goodies for my family and friends. Each time I promise myself not to do it, but I always end up with too much stuff. After I give away the gifts, I buy things like chocolate, marzipan, some vinegars and spices or some cute handmade Christmas ornaments for my friends
Last year, we took an old Hungarian train from Berlin to Prague. It was an enchanting trip, with the old-fashioned train that went through some gorgeous countryside including the Elbe river valley and mountains. The train ride itself was a real highlight of the trip, which continues on to Budapest. I enjoyed Prague last year, but what I didn't enjoy was the Nürnberg Christmas market, which was totally overrun with tourists.
Germany is known for its coffee culture. In the afternoon, you have coffee and cake. Friends meet in favorite cafés and have something sweet with coffee or tea. When my mother was sick, I often brought cake to the nurses and and they loved it. As a child, if we didn't always have sweets, instead I would have a piece of bread with butter and jam. Birthdays are also often celebrated by being invited zum Kaffeetrinken (which literally means you are invited for coffee and cake). My girlfriend had bought some gorgeous cake from my favorite bakery (here is the link), my favorite being a Sara Bernhardt cake (named for a French actress). After a few hours of talking and having fun, dinner or Abendbrot (as it is called in German) was served. She made a very tasty sweet potato soup followed by a chicken salad with bread, cheese, olives, as well as some ham and lox. It was divine. My brother had a similar but larger party the following day in the local pub. We had sheet cake for coffee around three in the afternoon and later a German-style charcuterie. Fresh homemade wurst, ground raw pork tartar, and cooked bacon served with sauerkraut and fresh bread—a real country feast— washed down with beer, schnaps and a herbal digestive.
I had to say goodbye too soon to the ones I loved and take the train to Frankfurt am Main (there are two Frankfurts in Germany) to catch a flight back home the next day. Frankfurt also has a Christmas market around the Altstadt (the old town). The old town center is the Römer, a medieval building that has been the city hall for over 600 years. The Römer is opposite the old St. Nicholas church. On the Römerplatz, as it is called, I ate a delicious goose leg with red cabbage and potato dumplings at the restaurant Schwarzer Star (black star) and it was delicious. My husband's spätzle (homemade noodles) was also superb. What a great way to end a beautiful vacation.
Four Days in Berlin
Berlin has been part of my life for a long time. I was 14 when I visited Berlin the first time, the youngest in a youth group. We stayed in a youth hostel and the older students showed me the town both day and night. I remember climbing around in the ruins of the Gedächniskirche and getting frostbitten in my toes. It was my introduction to life in a big city. I lived on Berliners (fresh donuts filled with plum jam) and curry wurst. From the beginning, I appreciated and liked the sense of humor and dialect of the locals. Even the worst situations are turned into a joke.
I visited Berlin many more times. It was fun once we got there, but the journey was scary. In the late 1960s, we could either go by train or on a chartered bus, or by private car. Going through the DDR (East Germany) was dangerous and as a German you could get arrested and disappear. Thinking back on it today, it was surreal.
Years ago, my family was separated when my husband and I took our just adopted 6-year-old son to Berlin. As we crossed the border into East Berlin, my son and husband (being American) crossed at checkpoint Charley and as a German, I had to cross at Friedrichsstraße. This prompted me to apply for American citizenship as soon as I returned to the States.
Then in 1989, the wall came down. Berlin was free again and became the capital of the new united Germany. The old East Berlin was rebuilt. My husband and I prefer to stay in the Mitte, the center of the new Berlin near the Brandenburger Tor and Friedrichsstraße. One is within walking distance of many museums and other attractions.
If you decide to visit Berlin, you have to visit the Museum Island, a UNESCO heritage site. It is the home to the Pergamonmuseum, one of the world’s major archeological sites. You walk through a series of impressive huge structures of the partial reconstruction of the Greek Pergamon Altar (170-159 BC) with the two-story Roman Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar gate of Babylon. With a day ticket, you can see all the museums on that island. There are many more museums throughout Berlin. During our last visit, we decided to go the Gemälde Galerie , a wonderful collection of medieval Renaissance and early modern art housed in a low-key but tasteful setting. It was not crowded and the art was spectacular. Adjacent to the Gemälde Galerie is the Kunstgewebemuseum (Museum of Decorative Art). It houses world-famous examples of European arts and crafts.
As for food in Berlin, you will find everything. Berlin now is part of the international food scene. Right around the corner from our hotel was Galerie Lafayette, a branch of the luxurious Parisian department store. My husband, a francophile, was in heaven. My favorite department store and food mecca is the KaDeWe (the department store of the west) which is in the old West Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm. Over the years, it has lost some of the glamor but the food section is marvelous and you can buy anything you want for a high price. The restaurant on the top floor has a great view of Berlin, but the food is cafeteria-style and I prefer to have a light meal on the floor below. If you are not a vegetarian, you have to have a curry wurst on an outside stand with the locals. It is a sausage with curried spices and ketchup. In the summer, you have to drink a Berliner Weiße, beer mixed with sweet woodruff juice. It was November and cold, so we drank Glühwein (mulled wine) instead. Late November and December are the months for goose: goose with cabbage and dumplings. I love it and my best goose meal has been in Potsdam, a 30-minutes train ride outside Berlin. This place is a small bakery that serves lunch. The goose is cooked fresh every day and it is delicious.
I love the Christmas market on the Gerdamen Platz, which makes for an enjoyable evening celebrating the season. The live performances are great and there is a lot of fun food. Several Berlin restaurants build huts with heat and great decorations. I enjoy this so much more than the large Christmas markets like Nürnberg.
ne night, we had dinner at Brechts, an Austrian restaurant with a great Wiener schnitzel. For me, it is all about the small delicatessen shops and bakeries. I found one right around the corner and had wild pig salami with fresh crusty bread and a fruit tart. There is no better dinner in my book. Oh, and let's not forget the bakeries with all their temptations There are many little cafes where you can sit inside or outside (weather permitting) and have a treat in the late afternoon. I often call that dinner. My husband will not leave Germany without having his Schweine Haxe, (pig’s knuckle) and a large beer. We always enjoy Berlin and I hope to visit there again soon.
Île-de-Ré and Brittany
After a wonderful week in Paris, we caught the train to Rennes. Taking trains in France can be somewhat nerve-racking. A billboard shows you the track the train will be arriving on 20 minutes before departure. After the announcement, everybody rushes up or down the assigned track, trying to find the right car where they have a reserved seat. In our case, the announcement wasn't made until 10 minutes before departure, so you can just imagine the pushing and shoving to get onto the train. I almost lost my hubby because he is so polite, allowing people to pass. Once we arrived in Rennes, we rented a car and drove to the Île-de-Ré to visit friends who own a house on this gorgeous island. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Our three-day stay was relaxing and fun. We went to the local market and bought fresh fruit, cheeses, oysters and fresh-caught fish. Our first meal on the island was mules frites (mussels and French fries). It was so much fun to have our friends show us this beautiful island. I bought a lot of different sea salts and brought them home.
After a short and sweet visit with our friends, we left for a three-hour drive to Quimper, a picturesque town in Bretagne with cobblestone streets, shops and museums. Quimper is generally regarded as the cultural center of Brittany. Once a year, an annual festival celebrates the Breton Culture. From Quimper, we explored the surrounding area for the next three days.
Our first stop was Pont-Aven, an attractive little village best known for its association with Paul Gauguin. Here we had breakfast, visited the local market and walked by some old mills.
Point -Aven is a tourist destination, as is Corncarneu, our next stop. We did not stay very long because it was simply too touristy for us. Our next stop was Bénodet on the southern coast of Brittany.
We took a nice stroll along the bay watching the sail boats and found a great place to have a wonderful lunch. We had fried fresh sardines on a bed of lettuce with tomato dip. My husband had a wonderful piece of white fish on top of a zucchini ragout with olives and capers in a tomato sauce. I had a most delicious scallop salad with prosciutto. I love the pink tails on the scallops.
After our great lunch, we decided to go for it and drove to Pointe du Raz, a promontory that extends into the Atlantic Ocean. This wild and windy point is one of Brittany's most popular natural sites. It has breathtaking cliff-top walks and white-washed houses nearby.
After our stay in Quimper, we drove to Cancale. Mention Cancale to a foodie and a quick reply will be "oysters," which have been cultivated here for hundreds of years. Originally, we were to meet some friends for a night but it didn't work out. All we had left were local oysters and crab. For our first course, we sat on a sea wall eating oysters we had bought from one of a dozen vendors. It was a memorable experience eating these briny magnificent sea creatures, throwing the shells on the beach.
The next day, we drove to Rennes to drop off our car and take the train back to Paris, where we flew home the next morning. Don't ever assume that dropping off a car at the train station outside of Paris would be easy. We had no idea that the entire railroad station was a giant construction zone which made it a real challenge to drop off the car. I asked the lady at the counter if people had just abandoned their cars and taken a taxi to bring the key. She nodded yes.
Traveling is always an adventure and life is good. Bon voyage .
Paris in June
"If you are lucky to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you , for Paris is a moveable feast"
" Paris is the place in which we forget ourselves, reinvent, expunge the dead weight of our past"
Read about my trip to Pais this summer on my Wanderlust Blog where all my travels are posted.
(Click on the yellow highlighted words to be guided to the different links)
Beautiful ripe and tasty tomatoes are everywhere and if you are lucky you have some in your yard. My tomatoes are stuffed with zucchinis, mushrooms , and parmesan cheese.
Paris in Summer
We'll always have Paris
Traveling is adventure—it is exciting and puts you in a different frame of mind. It is exhilarating, and at times scary, and you hope everything will work out well in the end.
I remember the moment I fell in love with Paris. It was decades ago. I was a young woman, barely 21, when I went to Paris on a four-day weekend. I was living in Germany at the time. The two women I was with disappeared and I didn't see them until it was time to return home. I remember wandering the streets by myself and sitting in a sidewalk cafe. I don't remember where exactly, but I do remember the feeling of falling in love with the people, the charm and the ambiance of this beautiful city. To this day, my love affair with Paris continues even when a heat wave hits the city in summer—and with more and more tourists.
Paris is a city for walkers and that's what we do when we visit Paris. For years we have copied walks from a book called Walking Paris. The author takes you from place to place showing you everything you wanted to know about Paris: the oldest tree, a beautiful door, gypsy legends, medieval history, Hugo Victor’s house—you name it. These walks expose the soul of this charming city.
One day during our visit, we walked all the way from Bon Marché to our apartment, passing through the Latin Quarter's crooked cobblestone streets and the boulevards of Saint-Germain-des-Prés with all the outside cafes, the most interesting little stores you have ever come upon, churches, small museums and lots of tourists.
The Cafe Les Deux Magots in St.-Germaine-des Prés has the a drink called anis , a cousin of the pastis without the alcohol that comes with a huge bucket of ice. A dream when the temperature hits 100 degrees. This cafe is on a square that has the oldest church in Paris. I always love to return to St. Germaine and visit old places and find new ones. This is a great place to get lost.
During the last two visits, we rented a lovely apartment with a view of Notre Dame. Even though we could see the hustle and bustle of that area, we felt separated from it. Our apartment was in the 5th arrondissement, bordering on the 6th. The river Seine was within spitting distance, as we could see Notre Dame from our living room window. There was a great bakery around the corner where I got croissants, a baguette and something sweet for my sweetie every morning. They also had fresh-pressed orange juice, and one day I bought a tomato zucchini tart for dinner that I hope to make soon. We could stroll by the river or go to Île St.- Louis to have an ice cream at Berthillon or a drink in one of the cafés. I love that location because I'm within walking distance of all of my favorite places.
My absolute favorite book store in Paris is Shakespeare and Company. It is around the corner from Notre Dame next to a tiny park with the oldest tree.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in French culture is with food. I always try to find new places. Because of the heat wave, we were not able to walk for miles, so we often took the metro. We planned something for the morning and then had a leisurely lunch that lasted a couple of hours. We preferred outside cafes. I found a couple of new places. My favorite one was restaurant “Josehine Chez Dumonet”. This was also a favorite of Napoleon’s first wife, Josephine, hence the name. I had read that they had the best Beef Bourguignon and it was the best I ever tasted, even on a hot day. My sweetie had an outstanding piece of duck paté and my duck confit was superb. This was a memorable lunch, enjoying perfect french cuisine at an outside table watching life unfold.
Another superb lunch was at Bon Marché, a wonderful large department store that had the best air conditioning on the day it was 104 degrees. The lunch in the food section (not in the restaurant) was fantastic. I had raviolis in a cream sauce with shaved truffles. I loved the entire food section of that store and was in no rush to return to the steaming heat outside. When we finally got the courage to go out, I found a great ice cream store, La Maison Du Chocolat.
Another day, we took a walk to explore an unknown passage. The passage was OK but we stumbled on a nice place to eat lunch. It was called Willi's Wine Bar and since my Willie loves wine, we had to go inside and talk to the proprietor, a nice English fellow with some great posters and a very good lunch menu. I had a half of a Cornish hen with nicely braised vegetables and Willie had to do another duck paté tasting with the appropriate wine, of course.
So you see, even when there is a heat wave in one of your favorite city, you can still have a good time.
The Louvre had a special exhibit I was interested in, so I went early one morning and it was good. I enjoyed the art, except I was disappointed with the Mona Lisa, because you can barely see it—and the crowds are unbearable. I went to a couple of tiny museums and decided to go to my other favorite ones another time, so I can enjoy them. If you only have one time in Paris, don’t miss the D’Orsay and don’t worry about anything but the stunning art that this place offers.
I have a folder titled Paris and I have some wonderful books. My favorite is Walks in Paris by Giles Desmons. Like I said, this is one to take along on my favorite walks. My girlfriend gave me Paris, An Inspiring Tour of the City’s Creative Heart by Janelle McCulloch. This is a beautiful book to read before you go, so copy the pages of the things you want to see. I have the Food Lover’s Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells. These days, I use different websites like David Lebovitz's site. I have more books, but I would like to find some new ones from my blog buddies. So please let me know if you have some.
Even though I don't have small children, it would be fun to experience Paris from different children's books with Paris at the core. I'm thinking of Ludwig Bemelmann's 12 Little Girls in Two Straight Lines and Madeline. To introduce kids to Picasso and other artists, there is Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck and Marjorie Priceman. When I was still teaching I had a whole series of books introducing painters and composers to the children. Maybe I will have to borrow one of my nephew's children to go to Paris.
A great way to see Paris, if you don't want to tackle the metro, is the double-decker L'Open Tour buses, which offer hop-on/hop-off service. I did this when my niece was 14 and I think she enjoyed it.
With that, my dear blogger friends, forgive my photographs and I will blog about my second week in France soon. Please let me know what is your favorite place in Paris if you have on.
Stockholm in October
One day my niece took us on a lovely walk across the city. We went on a foot path above the town with some tiny parks and a great view of Stockholm and ended the walk along the river with boats that had been turned into hotels and a youth hostel.
Our trip in October to Stockholm was unexpected. I loved it because I had my niece all to myself and didn't have to share her with the rest of the family. Our flight had a lay-over in Newark, New Jersey and we had a great lunch at the Grant Central Station Oyster Bar. The original one in New York City being one of my favorites. Once we arrived in Stockholm we took the Arlanda Express, the fast train to town down Stockholm. The taxis in Stockholm are not controlled and can be astronomical expansive. The Arlanda Express is clean and has wifi. We were able to walk to our hotel which was convenient located near the old part of town. On the first night, after taking a nap, we took a nice walk through the old part of town.
Here you find cafes restaurants and tourist stores. It gets much more interesting and local if you walk up the little side streets . It is here that we ate the next night. The restaurant "KRIP IN" was recommended by an employer at our hotel. It served regional cooking at its best . My husband had venison, I had a delicious chanterelle salad and my niece had a chanterelle soup. We all shared a local berry desert.
Another day we took the trolly to the Vasa Museum. Here you find a restored wooden war ship that sank on her maiden voyage in the Stockholm harbor in 1628. It is amazing to realize how much work and effort it took to restore this ship. I also loved the fantastic video display they had showing life around the world in 1628. In my opinion the Vasa Museum is a must see when in Stockholm . I'm sorry I missed the Pippi Longstocking Museum, Junibacken, my beloved childhood character from Astrid Lindgren.
During our time in Stockholm we also visited the royal palace which is very nice except very often parts of the palace are closed if there is some sort of State function.
The Museum of Photographs was interested . I enjoyed the Smørbrød, an open sandwich I had in the Museum cafeteria . Here we had a nice chat with the locals.
It was great to visit with my niece and get to see a city I've never been to. I'm glad I decided to do this despite the long flight
We took two boat rides, one a city tour which was very nice and we saw the outer parts of Stockholm. We took another longer boat ride to Vaxholm, a cute little coastal town in Stockholm's archipelago . It reminds me of Carmel in California . Unfortunately the bakery that was suppose to be outstanding was closed for the winter but fortunately we found a bistro with good food where we had lunch.
I took another trip to Germany to see my mom, but before I went to my village, my husband and I had some fun. We have our favorite places and went to some of them on this trip.
Our flight was exciting because Neil Young and his entourage were on the plane. Once we landed in Frankfurt and rented a car, we were on our way south to our destination in Grindelwald, Switzerland. We gave ourself a couple a days to get there, so we had no reservation the first night. But we had some addresses for our navigation system. Usually, there are too many variables for the first day (the plane is delayed, we are too tired to drive, traffic jams on the Autobahn.) But this time we were lucky, with no delays and my man was willing to do the driving. We ended up in a Best Western hotel disguised as a health spa in the middle of the Black Forest. We enjoyed a nice dinner on the terrace with a nice quiet room. After a good breakfast the next morning, we were on the road again. We had made reservation in an Austrian hotel with an amazing spa and view, where we had stayed before. There is a fantastic heated indoor swimming pool with jets to massage your jet-lagged body. It also has a great sauna and steam room.
The following day we reached our destination in Grindelwald, Switzerland. We love this place in the Bernese Alps with a spectacular mountain range that makes it one of the most impressive alpine landscapes in Europe. The Jungfrau and the Eiger north wall are the most well-known mountains.
We have stayed at the Kirchbühl apartments several times. The Kirchbühl is a family run hotel with apartments and houses to rent. I love this place. The location is great, above the village away from all the hassle and noise. The hotel has two restaurants that are quite good and offer a wonderful breakfast with chewy whole wheat bread, great croissants and the best Bicher Müsli. We always make sure that breakfast is included in the price of the apartment. A dinner option is available that you can choose on a daily basis. They also surprise you with free afternoon tea or happy hour another day in their cozy hotel lobby. Frau Brawand, the owner, and the rest of the staff will make sure that you are well taken care of. In good Swiss style, the washer/dryer and wifi work great. And let's not forget the stunning views! Friends in the States thought I showed them a painting on Skype.
You come to Grindelwald to hike . My favorite hike is from Kleine Männlichen to the Kleine Scheidegg. This hike is easy with children. The views are stunning and will take your breath away. Take the tram to the Kleine Männlichen , an experience by itself and then hike to the Kleine Scheidegg , where you can take the train down to Grindelwald or hike part of the way . The train has several stops. Many tourists take the Jungfrau-Bahn to the top of the Jungfrau. I have done it twice and it is beautiful and expensive. Don't go up unless it is a clear day.
Originally, we had planed to do some additional hiking in the Val de Herens, but there was nothing but rain in the forecast, so hiking was out. Instead, we decided to head for France, to the Burgundy to be precise. Here we are visiting some old haunts and doing some serious eating. Our five-hour drive took us through some scary mountain passes and our navigation system (we call her Missy) rerouted us over some very narrow roads because of the Tour de France. Mind you, it was drizzling rain and foggy part of the way. We made it and my sweetheart is taking a well-deserved nap before dinner. Foie gras.....here we come.
The first night we stayed near Chagny at the Hostellerie du Chateau de Bellecroix, a place where the 15th century knights of Malta rested on the way to the Crusades. This old chateau has rooms in different buildings and beautiful grounds. We’ve stayed here before and I have to say it hasn't changed much. We had a circular tower room on the third floor of the main building. The room was small but fun for one night. The surroundings are stunning—an old-fashioned French hotel in the countryside. Our dinner was excellent, the foie gras was served with some fig jam and toast. The smoked salmon broiled on top of rich scalloped leek potatoes was also good. The creme brûlée made an excellent desert. We enjoyed our meal and and evening stroll around the castle. Nearby, in Chagny, is the Lamiloise, a three-star Michelin restaurant.
For me, Burgundy is the mecca of fantastic food where you want to eat everything. I love coming here and trying out new restaurants, charcuteries and patisseries. But oh my poor stomach and body tells me that enough is enough! This is a marathon of eating (the secret is in pacing yourself.) In other words, don't overdo it the first night. I did and now I'm paying the price, Alka Seltzer and peppermint tea to the rescue.
The second day, we continued our trip through Burgundy via Puligny Montrachet, a small village with Chardonnay grapes. We had some good wine, but the food was mediocre. But we visited Beaune for a couple hours. This is a medieval town I fell in love with many moons ago.
It is very touristy but charming town. We toured the hopitâl de Beaune, an old hospital for the poor from the 14th century. It is very interesting and worthy of a visit. As I was looking for a cappuccino and something sweet, I ran into a great patîsserie called Tavenet on 14 Place Carnot. My man loved tarte aux noix et caramel (caramel walnut tart), while I enjoyed a piece of apricot tart and took with me some macaroons and a gougere, a cheesy puff pastry served with wine tasting. It was superb.
Two Great days in Alsace Lorraine
The drive from the Burgundy to Alsace Lorraine was easy on a quiet Sunday morning. We arrived in Riquewihr at our the Hotel le Schoenenbourg , a Best Western with air conditioning, a definite plus after last night’s hot room in a charming hotel with a small room above the kitchen where the mosquitos kept us awake. We had made the reservation a couple of days ago and this hotel still had some availability. It was the Bastille Day weekend and most hotels in the region were sold out.
I liked our new hotel because it is within walking distance of one of the quaint medieval villages filled with Hänsel and Gretel houses, cellars bursting with wines of the regions, with festivals beautiful to look at and photograph. Riquewihr is a fairy tale setting. All three villages have some nice stores with pottery, sweets and embroidered fabric. It's a little kitschy, but cute. I have brought back some nice things over the years.
For sweets, I like their pistachio-filled candy. We were able to watch the fireworks for Bastille Day from our hotel and before that, we watched the World Cup soccer final (where Germany won) and before that had a fabulous dinner sitting in a courtyard at Restaurant Winstub Au Tire-Bouchon. My husband had the pork knuckle with sauerkraut and potatoes, with regional mustard. It was the best pork knuckle I ever had, soft and tender. The sauerkraut was great too, with nothing added and perfect with the pork. I ordered the duck breast and I got a huge one (the biggest I have ever seen) cooked medium rare with all the fat rendered from the skin. The sauce had pieces of orange in it and was served in a small glass. The dish came with a beet mash and a large serving of cheesy scalloped potatoes—very different from the ones I had a couple of days ago at the Bellocroix. This was a perfect meal in a perfect setting , especially when the French accordion player serenaded us with some familiar songs and we started to sing along. It started to rain just as we finished dinner, so we went back to our hotel to watch the final soccer match and fireworks for Bastille Day from our window. Life is good.
The last day in Alsace we had lunch at the L'Auberge DE I'LL in Illhausen. I decided to post this culinary highlight of our trip in a separate post. From Riquewihr, we drove to Assmanshausen, a village located on the Rhine River, an idyllic location lined with castles—remote and comfortable with outstanding wine and food. Assmanshausen is 10 km north of Rüdesheim. Instead of the tourist frenzy of Rüdesheim, enjoy the contemplative serenity of the northward flowing Rhine. From here, you can take river cruises, vineyard walks, funicular rides above the hills. You can combine the three of them, see Bingen, go by the Lorelei and visit Rüdesheim. At night, you come back to the peaceful setting of the river and surrender yourself to the good wine and good food and watch the tourist boats (river cruises) go by.
We always stay at the Hotel Schön and take a room with a balcony on the river, sip a glass of Riesling and enjoy the setting. The hotel has a wisteria-covered veranda where you can enjoy a drink, a coffee or dinner and watch the sun set behind the hills. We enjoyed our delicious dinner on the patio and celebrated our last day before my husband went home and I continued my journey to visit my mom.
Most of my traveling time is spent in Europe visiting my German family and taking care of my 91-year-old mother. So I'm super excited when I get to go somewhere else. Even though we live fairly close by, I had only been to Canada once a long time ago. I was happy when my husband planned a week-long trip to western Canada.
So off we went, flying from San Francisco to Vancouver. My man was fascinated by the view of all the places we flew over, pointing out Mount Hood and Mount Rainier popping up through the clouds, Crater Lake and more. I read a book by Wally Lamb, She Comes Undone, and loved the short 2-hour flight. Compared to the usual 11 hours to Europe, no problem.
Downtown Vancouver is a growing, international city with many fascinating places. Stanley Park is lovely and the Emily Carr totem poles are a must-see. If you have the time, go for a long stroll, but as we only had an hour, we had a taxi driver give us a quick tour. I had originally planned to eat at Bao Bai, a Chinese restaurant Ruth Reichl recommended. I'm a big fan of hers and read both her books and her blog. And she did such a fantastic job with Gourmet magazine. By the time we were ready to eat, it was too late for Bao Bai, so we ended up at Joe Fortes, dining on the roof top. The oysters there are outstanding and taste different from the ones in Santa Cruz and San Francisco. The food and ambiance were pleasant and we enjoyed our first evening in Canada.
The next day, we set out to go on a road trip to Lake Louise through the Rocky Mountains. Altogether we drove over 2070 km (1300 miles) on this trip and had a wonderful time. To be precise, my man drove (he loves driving) and I just took naps and enjoyed the scenery. From Vancouver, we drove to the town of Kamloops, where we stayed overnight twice—on the way up and back. Before Kamloops, we had lunch in the town of Merritt where I spotted a Japanese restaurant called Garden Sushi Japanese Restaurant. As it was my job to supply my driver with nourishment, we had a wonderful lunch, home cooking at its best. I get super excited when I run into good food. In Kamloops, we shared a horrible lamb burger on the way up, but had a great meal on the way down at Ric’s, a chain with about 20 restaurants. We ate in the one in downtown Kamloops called the Ric’s Mediterranean Grill. My man had a wonderful, tasty risotto with shrimp and prosciutto—creamy, rich and flavorful. I was very impressed and will try to get the recipe. I had a panko and crab-crusted piece of wild salmon with a leek risotto, also very good. Too bad we didn't find this place on the way up. Sorry, there are no pictures to post.
After a night in Kamloops, we drove to Lake Louise on the very scenic Trans Canada Highway, passing small towns and resorts. It was a loooong drive, over five hours. The scenery is lovely and we drove through several parks. The entire highway is a two-way road with lots of trucks (you have to love driving to do this). We reached Lake Louise around 4 pm. A stunning sight, this high mountain emerald lake took my breath away. It is surrounded by snow-covered mountains that reflect onto the lake. We stayed at the lodge on the lake, a Fairmont resort. All I wanted to do is be by the lake—I could not get enough of this panorama. When the almost full moon rose around 9:30 pm behind the mountain, illuminating the lake, it became a spiritual experience for me. Before the moonrise, the dim evening light did a shimmering dance of the mountains reflecting in the still water of the lake.
After two wonderful days on Lake Louise, we drove north on the Icefield Highway through Jasper Park. This was another breath-taking experience, with glaciers and high snow-covered mountains for miles and miles. We went on a steep 4-mile hike and had a wonderful day. Do not miss this if you are visiting this part of the world.
We ended our day in Jasper with a great meal at Evil Dave's. The coconut shrimp soup was delightful and had a real kick (as the waitress warned me). My Falafel dinner was good and my husband liked his bison meatloaf, a good choice for a place to eat in Jasper.
We drove back on Highway 5 to Vancouver, overnighting again in Kamloops.
Jasper is a cute town and I hope to do this trip again one day, but will fly into Calgary to eliminate some of the driving. This trip was more a feast for the eye and the soul than for the belly, experiencing nature at its best. Life is good.
Keywords: Lake Louise, Jasper, Trans Canada road trip, Icefield Highway
Marrakech is called the pearl of the South with its rich history and ancient passages that transport you back in time, and challenge your senses in every way, shape and form. This imperial town is like no other, with has something to offer for every traveler. One moment you're dodging motor scooters or donkey carts, and the next moment you are in a modern rooftop cafe drinking mint tea or cappuccino. It is sheer madness and joy at the same moment, overwhelming and fascinating. I loved it. All the differing cultures and elements seem to get along with ease. Strolling through the Medina with walls that are hundreds of years old is like walking back in time, yet life continues much like it has for the past thousand years.
One of the most pleasurable things to do in Marrakech is to walk around the seemingly endless maze of markets in the old part of town. It is easy to get lost. Every section has its own specialty such as spices, leather, kaftans, pottery and jewelry. The leather section was the most fascinating for me. Here, hides were being tanned and leather goods produced on the spot. The tanners have been here since the city was founded. One moment, there is the pleasant smell of rose oil in your nose, and the next moment you are knocked out by the foul, pungent smell of animals or hides being processed.
I was fortunate to spend five exciting days in Marrakech. It was a great trip full of new people and new impressions. This trip awakened all my senses, introduced me to a new culture. I saw beautiful gardens and buildings, but most of all, I felt like I was transported back in time into a different world. I have to thank my friends, Dietlinde and Monika, for this wonderful experience. Vielen Dank Ihr Beide.
Here I am sitting in the middle seat of an airplane for almost 11 hours flying to see my 91-year-old mother in Germany. Originally, I was going with my husband to Paris for week. We had rented an apartment and we were going to have fun in this beautiful city that we both love. Paris is our personal Disneyland. We go for the food, the arts, the parks—and the city. Instead of strolling through the Tuileries gardens and recovering from jet leg by soaking in the sun on a bench, I am taking a solo trip to Germany to care of my mother who fell and is in the hospital. My heart did not allow me to do otherwise. Both my husband and I are very sad and disappointed. Could I really admire my favorite paintings and sculptures while my mom was being restrained? I could not. Could I savor the culinary delight that Paris offers while my mom was confused and needed help? I could not.
When I moved to the United States many years ago, I had no idea of the complications that would arise years later. I love my new home and country. It has brought many joys and a wonderful life. I am grateful and thankful for that.
Thankfully, I have a brother who made sure my mother in Germany was well taken care of. I help, and visit as much as I can. At this point in life, my mother needs more help and support. Until now, she has survived with the help of many people she lived with on the farm where she was born—both fortunate and lucky. But now it is getting complicated.
This year, spring has come early to northern Germany. Looking out of my mother’s hospital room, there is a huge tree covered with pink blossoms. White asparagus is being harvested and sold, which is usually a May event. When I was here last year, it snowed the entire month of April. While in Germany, I ate in the cafeteria at the clinic and rehab center my mom was . I was thankful for the often decent food. I was also lucky enough to have a Tegut grocery store (similar to Whole Foods) on the way to the hospital. My girlfriend, Monika, not only provided me with support and help in the German medical world (which is excellent by the way), but also cooked some delicious meals for me. Bless her kind and gentle heart, a true friend.
There were no gourmet meals, but I managed to find some great cheese, bread, and of baked goods (of course). Those little bakeries in Germany are my favorite. Here are some of my favorites:
The last meal I prepared for my mom was white asparagus, which is in season right now and being sold at the local farmer’s market. My mom loves her asparagus with boiled potatoes, melted butter or hollandaise sauce, and ham.The local butcher shop had some great ham and packaged hollandaise sauce that was excellent. She enjoyed her meal.
Should you be so lucky and find fresh white asparagus, make sure you peel it correctly. Some people peel the asparagus twice just to make sure the woody outside is gone. So, don’t skimp on peeling away the outside. There are asparagus peelers in Germany that work beautifully. I did not peel away enough this time at is was annoying when I ate the asparagus. My blog has a recipe for white asparagus soup.
While in Germany, I had a beautiful salad with an oil and vinegar vinaigrette, asparagus, strawberries and goat cheese.
After six weeks in Germany and a glorious trip to Marrakech, I’m back home in Santa Cruz. It feels good and I’m getting used to my normal life and enjoying it.
The beautiful sights of Rome
Recently, I was fortunate to spend seven beautiful days in Rome when my husband and I decided to skip Thanksgiving and go to Rome instead. Rome is an amazing city, a feast for the eyes, the soul—and the stomach. Around every corner there is a piazza with old stucco buildings, churches, ruins that date back hundreds, possibly thousands of years. It is a city made for walking until you have to cross a busy street—then stop dreaming and watch out! You can spend an entire week rushing from any given church, museum or site to another. But be careful in trying to do it all, because if you do so you will never take in the essence and beauty that this town has to offer. Rome is made for walking, so take your most comfortable walking shoes for the cobblestones. When the walking is too much, just take a taxi or public transportation to your next destination, sit down for a cappuccino, have a gelato or an afternoon lunch. My husband and I would pick one tourist destination a day, and for the rest of the day just wander around with a general idea of where we wanted to go. We found some beautiful places when we got lost—and ate some fantastic food. Rome's center is relatively small and easy to navigate.
One day, we took a taxi to the piazza Campo de' Fiori. This place transports you back to a different time were it not for the cars and scooters. In the morning, there is a market where you can explore the sites by walking the small streets full of wonderful shops and buildings. Before Campo de' Fiori (across the Tiber River) is the Jewish ghetto with plenty to see and eat. This time of the year, fried artichokes were served at many of the restaurants. When it comes to local restaurants, I just follow my nose and look at what's going on. I also got some names from internet sites like "Rachel Eats" as well as guide books. However, it was difficult to follow the walks because there are few street signs which makes things are a bit confusing. By wandering around, we found some bakeries, gelato places and eateries. From the piazza de Fiori, we walked along small streets to the piazza Navona, a beautiful oblong square with the Four River Fountain built in Baroque style by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. We got to the piazza just as the last light of the day was shining through the open bell tower, a breath-taking scene. There is a small store selling beautiful decorated notebooks—and don't forget the ice cream! Continue walking and you arrive at the Pantheon, an astonishing building with huge columns and an indoor room with an open ceiling that will take your breath away. This room inspired later domes, including Michelangelo's St. Peter. Around the corner, you will find a restaurant called "Armando al Pantheon,” a family-run trattoria that serves fantastic seasonal Roman food in a warm atmosphere. We had lunch there and the food was outstanding. Another restaurant we liked was "Target.” This restaurant was near our hotel on the Via Torino. I loved their octopus soup, a rich tomato-base soup. In other places, we ate pasta with freshly picked porcini mushrooms. We found as delicatessen where we bought fresh bread, Parma ham and wonderful local cheeses, so we had a picnic. For dessert, we had sweets and gelato. All that walking, I felt that this caloric intake was fully justified.
Northeim is a typical small german town about 200 miles north of Frankfurt. It is 15 minutes from my village. This is where my father was raised. In the middle of the town you have a "Fußgänger Zone" an area reserved for food traffic only. Here you find many shops and restaurants. This is where you shop, meet people, have a bite to eat, or enjoy a sunny day in an outside cafe. Each town has at least one or more Italian cafes. All these places are run by Italian serving delicious ice cream, cappuccinos, and more. My favorite is the hazelnut gelato.
When in Northeim, I always stop in the bakery Rolf and walk out with a bag of goodies. It is a great bakery with a variety of cakes, breads, rolls, chocolates, and seasonal fruit tarts. This is as good as a French patisserie. My favorite is a hazelnut mini cake. I do like hazelnuts.
This little tea shop has been in this cute little fachwerk ( brick and timber) house for over a decade offering a variety of teas from all over the world. There are black, green and every herbal tea you ever dreamed of. A lot of the teas are flavored. My favorite is an organic dried fruit tea called Waldfrucht or Rote Grütze. My favorite black tea is an Assam tea spiked with pieces of vanilla called "Ostfriesen Sonntagstee".
Last year a new store opened, offering a variety of flavored vinegars, oils and liquors. You can choose from a large variety. I try different vinegars every time, a foodies paradise.
The farmer's market has been on the main square for decades. Here you get seasonal vegetables, fruits, cakes, breads, fish, meats and sausages, a Turkish delicatessen truck , local honey, you name it.
No German town would be complete without a hot dog stand, a butcher shop, and a Turkish fruit store.
I'm in Göttingen, a charming old university town in lower saxony in Germany. It is often called the Heidelberg of northern Germany. Göttingen has a population of over 100,000 people, a quarter of them students at the George August University. The town center successfully combines its origins as a medieval merchant town with an atmosphere of a modern university town. It has a town hall that dates back to the 13th century with beautiful frescos inside that are worth a visit. In the cellar below is a nice restaurant, a remodeled modern Ratskeller called Buller Jahn. Göttingen's landmark is the Gänseliesel figure on the fountain at the market square in front of the town hall. You kiss the statue when you get your PHD. I'm sorry but I don't have a picture of the fountain, it was a construction zone when I was there this time. You have to wait until my next visit. The town is about 12 miles from my family compound. It has a variety of many different restaurants, cafes, and more. I'm sitting in a cafe , enjoying a moment of solitude from my large family. Here in the northern hemisphere fall is in the air today, it is cool in the morning, the air is crisp, and the wind blows off the first leaves. The summer was short this year. I'm ready to go home next week. The images of the rim fire in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California sadden me. My sister in law and a friend are in the midst of it. Our cabin is not far away. Now back to Göttingen. It is a town with people from all over the world which has every ethnic food you can imagine. But I'm going for a curry wurst at my favorite stand. Unfortunately, the stand is being renovated. I'm very picky about my curry wurst so I decide to go to my favorite cafe instead "Cron und Lanz". This cafe or Konditorei as it is called here in Germany is an institution, a place to see and be seen. Their pastries and chocolates are fantastic. My girlfriend has the raspberry tart, I indulge in the wiener (Vienna) waffle and a caramel nut mini tart. Yummy.
My favorite Cafe in Göttingen, Cron und Lan
The Farmer's Market in Göttingen
If you don't have time for downtown Frankfurt enjoy a quiet moment at the airport and go to the Paulaner restaurant . This restaurant is located above the "Fernbahnhof", away rom all the hussle and bussle of the airport. It is on the opposite end of the Hilton Hotel. The Paulaner offers authentic Bavarian food. The food is good and don't forget to order a beer.
The airport also has a German version of Whole Foods called Tegut. I often get a snack or fresh fruit there. This store is located near the parking garage.
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.