Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Hamburger Obsession is Underway

Al has been doing what he does best (well one of the things) - researching.  And he is obsessed with replicating the In and Out Burgers from California.  This is how he has learnt to make the patties. His special burger sauce is also on target!
The secret is apparently to pack the pattie and then make a hole with your finger - so the meat cooks inwards and ensures a nice even, flat pattie, rather than the 'high rise', mound version.
First finished trial - with Masdam cheese and the secret sauce under the pattie. Its good hearty and healthy eating here at Abberley Cres.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Exotic Treats

You travel to the US and try all sorts of candy and weird stuff, and then at lunch on Friday my friend introduced me to an American novelty right here in NZ - Reece's Peanut Butter Cups. Only found in a couple of Christchurch dairies - these imported beauties are chocolate cups filled with peanut butter!  So wrong, yet so good. 2 per pack.  A total discovery for me.

Local Treasure

Popped into the local butcher today (Peter Timms in Edgeware) - and after a month away, it is still bustling - and the shop conversation is still sweet, and the ribs I picked up will be delicious! Also grabbed a birdfeeder which Al has introduced to our garden to bring more life into the garden during the winter.  The birds nailed the last one in a week!  Digby would like to nail it, (it is full of meat off cuts and fat I believe).  Lucky birds!

Back to Christchurch-town

I'm back - and will try to keep the blog going which will be interesting having seen so many foreign things to record.  This is the view from our front door at 7.30am at present.  Jack Frost is in town!  And its all rather beautiful and refreshing to put mittens and scarves on!

The Square was a great place to be on Friday lunch...with this French duo playing softly in the sun (below).  It is good to be home!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Final day on tour in Brussells...

Tin Tin Murals everwhere...

Lovely intricate architecture (with chocolate shops dotted all around)...
Two classically 'Belge' starters ordered for us by some nice friends of Jodi's: Les Croquettes aux Crevettes (a shrimp based croquette - pierce the beautifully deep fried croquette and its like shrimps in a roux/mayonaise filling!  And in the background - Les Tomates Crevettes - tomatoes filled with shrimp - which comes from the north sea.  C'est Bon!
I liked the gravy boat for the ubiquotous mayonaise (so good with des frites!) and the butter ceramic pot was good looking too!
The most Belge of them all - les moules frites!  These mussels (at the height of their season now apparently) were so sweet, small and delicate to eat.  They were Moules Mariniere - cooked in a stock with celery, carrot and garlic. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Its a wrap at Ghent

We leave Ghent today - here are few more pics of what we have seen.

These guys were carpenters. They were stupidly funny.

Some stinking dreads - there is a lot of this going on!

Two dancers in bubbles (that took a day to blow up cos the leaf blower wasn't working)!  It was more interesting watching the festival staff try to blow these things up than the actual performance!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mira Miro Festival

The Mira Miro Festival is the Street Theatre part of the larger Ghent Festival. It takes place about 2 km from the old town - around a housing estate and kids playground!  Whilst the pitches are pretty small, there are loads of people turning out (with their children)!  All having a beer or two.  Everyone is always drinking - but no apparent drunkedness.  Amazing.
We have seen a few great acts - but some of them haven't been able to perform due to technical hitches - its all a bit of shambles which is disappointing.  Makes you realise how oganised the World Buskers Festival is!  Sometimes you have to come across the world to see what they say is the best, to realise we are on track!

These Clowns from Chile stoel the show (and city of Ghent)! - taking over a major thoroughfare on a bridge - they 'play with traffic' and create the most insane traffic jams, road rage and laughter.  Its hard to capture but you may get a little bit of it here.....

The Ghent Festival at night...

This is the set up at night - bars bars bars (but no horribly drunk people), all clustered around stages. This one looks over the river to the World Music Stage which is the epicentre of the Festival - then the other stages are dotted around the old town.  Like the one below...
And there are food places addition to the cafes/bars making extentions to their premises and putting on their own parties. 

This is a good way to see it (check out the video)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

When Arrivals go Bad....Ghent

You know when you arrive in a country and nothing seems to look approachable, nice or welcoming? That happened to us in Ghent, Belgium.  After a hairy taxi ride by the gruffist looking woman I have seen, this was our hotel, that stunk of smoke and grime.   It was 20 minutes from the festival, and the towels were grey....
So we walked into the old town to see if we could find another hotel (and have thank goodness - lucky when the town grows from 500,000 to 1.2m at festival time).   We then saw that the festival definitely caters for the male festival goer!  Why are women so neglected when it comes to providing 'faciliies' for us?  Where are we supposed to go? No porta-loos anywhere else!

But once installed in the comfort of an expedia rate hotel (phew) we wandered around and saw why the Ghent festival is thought of as the best festival in Europe. 10 days - more stages than I have yet counted, a combination of puppetry, poetry, street theatre, visual arts, physical theatre, dance, comedy...and music music music (from Euro Pop, to indie, to one of the best world music fests ever to 80s covers and a full techno area! It all starts at 2.30pm, goes till midnight each day and is all free.  And there are bars everywhere - and the people don't get scary drunk.  Its mellow.

Night photos to come!

The Crowds and Characters at 'La Grande Dame'

The Eiffel Tower - at sunset with thousands and thousands of people. I love standing under it - those huge 'legs' - but the crowds were intense and it must have been 30 degrees at 9pm and climbing.  We did catch two guys doing a nice busking show though.  Check out a bit of it below.....

And check out grandpa getting down with them here.....
And sorry this post is looking ugly - I can't work out how to remove the failed video uploads yet! Ignore these bottom ones! 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More 'Modern' Dining in Paris

It was cool to go somewhere 'modern' to eat in Paris - I've never done that before. We foud this place near the Eiffel Tower - lots of after work drinkers and eaters.  In the foreground - it was like a crab terrine, neatly packed on top of finely chopped romaine lettuce hearts - so you got the most delicious spoonful of taste - and crispness.  The carrot veloute in the background. 

For the main - Wood pigeon hot pot - (finally I get to try one legally)!  Perfect roast potatoes, fresh summer greens and a semi dried tomato and olive garnished reduction that had some sort of rich sweet vinegar/wine thing happening.  Couldn't work it out. The woodpigeon had a liver texture and flavour - but a rich sweet fruit taste too.  As if the pigeon had been eating berries - which must be the case if the Kereru is anything to go by!  Enjoyed with a cold glass of red wine. 

Musee d'Orsay - the restaurant ceiling

So, so beautiful - and the food appeared to match the wonderful pastel delicate colours. 

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Meat Lover's Heaven

We went to a small neighbouring restaurant last night in the 7ieme district where we are staying (near Le Tour d'Eiffel). There was a lot of charcuterie going down and the restaurant had a nice family feel - everything came from the farm, and there were loads of Parisiens there. So a good atmosphere. I ordered the stuffed cabbage - one of my favourite things ever.  It was preceded by veal terrine.  Cheese to finish. Meat lovers unite in France!

Steak Frites Chez Le Progres

So -I will understand if you think I will be a balloon when I get back! We had lacked some protein so lapped up the perfect steak frites at Le Progres.  The steak had the best grilled charcol thing going on. The salade aux tomates - the perfect vinigrette. Les frites - the holy grail of light, but crisp, and tasting of real potatoes. 
Le Progres is a very taditional looking bar/cafe in the Marais that apparently lots of French actors visit. We saw none that we recognised, but saw some very cool people and experienced the best service where the waiter was happy to entertain my french and then started waxing lyrical in French about how 'delicious' Jodi was.   Ahh Paris!


I know the French take their patisserie seriously, but I had never seen such care and beauty with their savoury items.  We have 'ratatouille' on the left, a courgette and pepper terrine in the middle and I think it was a 'celeriac and salmon something' to the right. These cold morsels would be so perfect in this heat for a light dinner.  They just get it so right! 

Lunch on the Train

From Hannover to Paris, we loved watching 3 old guys set the table on the train and have their lunch.  The became more 'merry' as the trip went on (and the wine bottles were emptied)!  The vegetable in the foreground is a raddish - a specialty of Hannover and you screw a plastic like handle into the top to create pieces like in the photo.  You should have seen the the size of the piece of cheese that came out later on - and the chocolate.  They were very proud of their exposition of 'living'. 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beers in Berlin

We enjoyed a well deserved beer here before I took the train back to Hannover.  This embankment bar apparently moves along the embankment every 6 months or so when the city starts developing another part of the bank.  The bar was temporary in nature, but really fun to be in the middle of the city looking on to the impressively new and giant central train station (and note the Reichstag Dome in the background).

Berlin Cafe

Swinging porch seats, little gardens, cake and coffee - a warm warm day in Berlin.

Berlin - in transit

Berlin Busker

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Love Is All Around...

M & M took me to some pretty amazing places today - streets and streets of very cool cafes with the dopest people I have seen on the trip to date.  Strangely many of Berlins' hipsters were pregnant or with small persons (that part reminded me of Christchurch).  And 'romance' was everywhere I turned. Is Berlin the new Paris?  (I now sounds like Carrie Bradshaw). 

Breakfast in Berlin

A spare day up my sleeve, so I visited Berlin for the day - and was hosted by my and my parents' dear friends, Mike and Monica.  Monica welcomed me to the city with a German breakfast - something I have been hankering for.  Oh my god.  This is worth getting up early for!!  Liverwurst (sp?), salumi, a shrimp, raddish, capsicum mayo paprika salad, amazing bread, other relishes, quark and endives (whitlof).  And lots of coffee!!

The Festival Finale

At the end of KleinsFest every night, the white statues dotted throughout this famous garden are illuminated, the theatre on each stage stops, and the crowd gathers  to watch the finale - this year - a helium balloon that rises over the hedges and changes through an amazing colour pallette, with an acrobat dancing, flying and twiirling underneath it - hovering over the garden.  The balloon and dancer move to music, and are guided by ropes (you can see one of the guys pulling the rope in the image').  It was so ethereal and so perfect over in this setting.  Thank you Hannover!

Irresistable Giraffes

These  guys were captivating.  I have a video of them moving here...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gardens at Herrenhausen

Beautiful gardens where KleinsFest is taking place.

Is the Statue for Real?

In the gardens where this festival is at we came across this sculpture. We thought it might have been a joke due to Festival time - but the spanking appears to be for real...

More crazy things at KleinsFest

A Russian ice-skating troupe to rave music on fake ice amongst a formal garden setting with gold statues!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Meet the Bratwurst

Oh dear - what a photo.  This is my first German bratwurst - ordered at KleinsFest - clearly too large for the bun. But that kind of worked so you really got to enjoy the sausage - rather than too much bread. The bread here is pretty good too.  No matter what I write about this sausage it sounds dodgy, so will stop here.  But it was good!

Tea and Pastry Set-Up at KleinsFest

So as well as performance stages dotted through the gardens for this Festival, there is this cute tea spot with a slight Moroccan theme I guess.  There are also a couple of nice bars where the German beer and sausage is flowing...

KleinsFest - Hannover

Set in the magical Herrenhausen Garden, a formal garden with loads of hedges and pockets to hide stages, this is KleinsFest. You pay to get into it every night, it runs for 18 nights, and has been running for 25 years. There are 35 stages dotted throughout the hedges with 20 minute shows, as well as roving entertainment.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Germany - Quick train stop

We had to take 3 trains from London to get to Hannover: London -  Brussells - Cologne - Hannover.  At Cologne we had 30 mins down time waiting for the next train. I popped my head outside the station and this is what I saw!