rather surprising culinary evening

Last night, Sarah and I headed out to Andrea & Alex & Benjamin’s house for an Indian feast with Alex and Matt while Andrea and Benjamin are still traveling around the U.S.

Holy crap, that man can cook. Who knew? We sure didn’t. And we intend to ruthlessly steal those recipes from him. Here’s what we had:

    the starters

  • a creamy, yet fiery, cold cucumber soup with fresh chopped cilantro garnish to start us off
  • papadums with mango chutney
    the main course dishes

  • chicken vindaloo
  • lamb vindaloo
  • chicken tandoori
  • dal
    the desserts

  • carrot pudding — and in my humble opinion, this dish stole the show
  • a Nutella Cake which we brought and whose leftovers we enjoyed this morning
    The booze afterward

  • B-52 shots

    Hope you like it sweet.
    Hope you like it sweet.
    According to wikipedia you shouldn’t use Grand Marnier if you want it to flame up, and instead you should use something with higher alcohol content. But we got the Grand Marnier to light just fine.

great Thai food, weird desserts

Last night we had some excellent Thai food at Christina & Rainer‘s house together with Tammy & Matthias and temporary bachelor Alex. Christina’s mom is in town and brought with her all the culinary goodness in use at her restaurant (Tammy & Matthias can vouch for this; Sarah and I have not yet had the pleasure). I had my camera with me but didn’t take a single shot. Some video was recorded though, so we might see some of that later on. Trust me: it was excellent.

And then we got to the desserts.

This is not to say that the desserts were not good — at least I didn’t think so. They were just odd. First round was a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream with a big spoonful of high-quality extra-virgin olive oil sprinkled with fleur de sel. Umm… what? Yeah, seriously, olive oil and hand-harvested sea salt on vanilla ice cream. Try it yourself. The combination — not the flavor — reminded me of a dessert I had at Vitus around the corner from us during the World Cup a couple years ago: 12-year-old balsamic vinegar on fresh strawberries. It was weird, but it worked.

Next up: butter cake with lavender syrup or blueberry sauce. To put it gently: it would appear my passion for the lavender syrup is not shared (except by Sarah, over vanilla ice cream). Alex said, “hey, when you put it on the cake, it tastes a lot better than it smells!” by way of consolation.

Well, I liked it. And the blueberry sauce was just fine — next time I think I’ll cut the honey content back a third (or maybe that Langnese stuff Sarah bought is just extra flavorful?).

Skiing Recommendations?

We are thinking about perhaps doing some skiing in February. I’ve never actually skied before – just tagged along with others – but we’ve been twice now to Zell am See in Austria. It was nice, but we’d like to explore a different area. And with potential visitors for winter, we’d like to have a variety of options.

Does anyone have suggestions for somewhere else to ski, preferably in Germany, Austria, Italy or France? We like Switzerland, but having to change currencies is a bit of a downer. Tell us your European ski stories!

Straubinger Gäubodenfest and a weekend in der Schweiz

Matt came and picked us up; then we scooped up Alex, headed off to the Gäubodenfest, where it was mobbed. Some locals tell us that this is the “real” Oktoberfest because there are very few foreigners (only the die-hards, like us, I guess) who attend it — as opposed to the more famous beerfest in Munich at the end of September. We’re grateful to Matt for driving and for the suggestion, and I’m glad we did it, but man…there was a lot of noise and crowd going on there. And, surprisingly: the food was pretty darn good.

Kerstin picked us up the next day and we headed down to Zurich, Switzerland to stay with Simone. Sarah and I took advantage of the fabulous train system to visit my former boss Bernd and his family in their new home there. Details on the pictures will appear gradually as I find the time to insert descriptions and titles and stuff. The weather was kind of iffy in Zurich, but great on the day we hopped down to Zug / Root / Lucerne and back.

It’s nice to have friends in beautiful places and/or who don’t mind driving us to them.

couple of pictures

Here are a couple of pictures taken recently. We tried out a new (to us) Indian joint in town and were impressed with the waiter’s friendliness (as opposed to Ganesha’s typical surliness) but less-than-wowed by the food’s flavor and especially with the how long it took to arrive (note the beverages at critical levels before even digging into the chow). But the presentation was nice:
Indian Palace

Also, pretty much none of our local pals know this yet, but we’ve recovered our living room furniture — gives it a whole new look on the same old chairs. I wish I could say we carefully chose fabrics and measured them out and stitched the slipcovers ourselves and stuff, but…we didn’t. http://bemz.com made it much easier.

back from Hannover

Maschseefest The weather was a little iffy on this trip, but it mostly worked out. The Maschseefest — one of the largest events in Northern Germany — was pretty good on Friday night (it was a little weak on Thursday night).

Hannover: just kind of meh. I definitely need more time there before I can form an opinion (I experienced the train station, the hotel, the Fest, the inside of a conference room, and nothing of the city itself). But after a few glimpses around, especially of the Fest itself, I found myself wondering: Where’s the tradition?. There seemed to be no connection to the past there, the way there is in Regensburg, Nuremberg, or Munich. I am sure there are various and sundry historical, political and cultural reasons for that, but we’ll need to compare Hannover with other Northern German cities to be sure. Next up: Bremen.

Fare thee well…

…through these sweet fare sales, that is.

We haven’t had that many visitors lately. My parents (hi Mom & Dad!) came for a good, long visit in May, but other than that our guest bedroom has remained empty for long stretches of time. And this displeases us.

So imagine my delight when my usual barrage of travel newsletters in my e-mail were screaming about Fall fare sales! There’s a United sale that you have to move on – it ends tomorrow. I’m more intrigued by the Lufthansa sale. You have until August 20 to purchase and it covers flights well into 2009 (until March 25, to be exact).

So look at your calendars and think about a trip to Germany! The Christmas markets will be in full swing after December 1. Come skiing in the Alps sometime in January. Or we could touch base here in Regensburg and then jaunt off to somewhere warm – Greece? Sicily? Turkey?

Give it some thought, U.S. peeps. And comment or e-mail me if you want to talk about specific dates.