Barcelona … small pics of a big city

My wife and I went to Barcelona last week. We did a lot of walking and looked around. The sunnier and warmer than home weather was nice. And the coffee … I miss that already.

Check out what I saw.

In my next blog post I’m going to try and capture my new found like for that famously tasty and just a bit addicting Spanish ‘jamon’. You may have heard about it 😉

Radish & Party = Impossible? You decide

 

 

 

 

 

Fathers day, German style … Serious radish party/FEST. Really.

Seems like in late spring any reason is a good reason for a party. Bikes were leaned everywhere, strollers wedged in available spaces in between and everyone clamored for a seat at some orange table.

I was surprised by the hoards of enthusiastic party goers who made it up the hillside to sit on orange benches at orange tables and eat long radishes, drink either beer or wine and have a good time.

Did I mention the reason for the party surprised me? I believe I did. But then again, I also made my way up the hillside to check out the craziness.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 16.38.40

Radish lovers or party likers or both

 

The sun blessed the goings on with shine and for 2.20Euros your plate looked like the ones below.

Long lines at the drinks/eats ticket booths, long lines at the radish tables, longer lines at the drinks tables, long lines at the sausage grill table and lines at the two porta potties way in the back.

gour·mand [goor-mahnd, goor-muhnd] 1. a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminatingly and to excess.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 16.38.09

Gourmands radish perspective: salted radish with a piece of ‘Bauernbrot’ (farmer bread) with butter

Eat your radishes. They’re good for you.

Radishes and their greens  provide an excellent source of vitamin C.  Radish leaves contain almost six times the vitamin C content of their root and are also a good source of calcium.  Red Globes also offer a very good source of the trace mineral molybdenum and are a good source of potassium and folic acid.   Daikons provide a very good source of potassium and copper.   

Radishes, like other member of the cruciferous family (cabbage,kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts), contain cancer-protective properties.  Throughout history radishes have been effective when used as a medicinal food for liver disorders.  They contain a variety of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile.  Therefore, they help to maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver, and improve digestion.  Fresh radish roots contain a larger amount of vitamin C than cooked radish roots.  Radish greens, contain far more vitamin C, calcium, and protein than the roots.  

Sources:

Murray , Michael N.D.. The Encyclopedia Of Healing Foods.
New York: Atria Books, 2005.

Centers For Disease Control And Prevention-5 A Day.

National Agricultural Library-USDA. usda.gov.

Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia

 

Three Days in Budapest & riding the retro metro

It was wet, grey, tiring and dingy in places. Not at all the way I’d imagined a January. I imagined it colder, much colder. However that is the kind of weather that awaited my wife and I on a recent short city holiday into Hungary. Budapest to be exact.

A cheapo Easy Jet flight three nights including breakfast at a reasonable price in a well situated and well appointed Hotel in the midst of that large city was just the thing.

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Budapest as seen from a higher vantage point on the western side of the river Danube

Not that the weather where we live on the German side of the Swiss/French border was any better as we were herded through the airport gate like so much documented cattle. It could have been worse, much worse. The city could have been held in the frosty clutches of mean old man Winter. But it was not. And so a little bit of wet weather didn’t seem all that depressing when we stepped out into the Hungarian rain for the first time.

We arrived mid afternoon and  it being a Sunday and us not having planned anything touristically urgent as far as activities go, we located our hotel via our helpful little and later much used city/map book and my suddenly in demand sense of direction (albeit a bit confused with having to read/decipher a new language neither one of us was face with before). Then we set off and rather embarrassingly our very first jaunt  took us to a pretty big mall. Say no more, say no more.

January darkness fell more rapidly than we had anticipated and as the rain had let up a bit, we took advantage to look at the city lights from Margit Hid bridge over the dark Danube at the southern tip of Margaret Island. Nice.

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

View of Hungarian Parliament building on the bank of the Danube from bridge

going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Going down to the retro metro on the transit escalator; we also went up these escalators towards daylight

Very glad to have a guidebook/map along for this trip. Knowing and figuring out exactly where we were or exactly where we wanted to be/go wasn’t all that much fun all the time but it certainly made getting around easier. The locals we approached were very helpful when asked for assistance in either German or English. Thanks kindly you friendly Budapestians.

tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

Tourists looking at map books and waiting for transit salvation

There were tips on good eats in the guide booklet at several, actually two indoor market halls where various delectables from all over could be sampled and I had set my mind and stomach for an afternoon stroll of deliciousness in silly proportions/portions. I was really looking forward to the culinary experience and the usual list of local eats such as goulash and … well, goulash was the only culinary dish I knew of. But we were open to new things too. After wandering down a canyon of tourist shops lining the Vaci Utca;

One of the lesser shopping display along the Vaci Utca

One of the lesser shopping displays along the Vaci Utca

…pretty much all of them selling pretty much the same wares. Hmmm. At the end of that Utca we suddenly came upon the Nagycsarnok or Central Market Hall. Halleluja I thought; well maybe not thought so much as I felt something akin to that expression as we pushed our way through the heavy dirty darkish green woolen curtain flaps that separated the winterish outside from the warmish interior. Let the fun begin.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

Inside the Central Market Hall where disappointment bit me in the ass.

One stall sold fresh and colorful vegetables, the next sold honey, various sized bags of Paprika both sweet and hot along with different alcoholic souvenir bottles along with nuts, dried fruits and trinket sized wooden scoop spoons. Along the lines of ‘Souvenir’ accoutrement. Noted. The next stall sold meat: poultry, pork, beef, various cuts and meats in differing states of deconstruction depending on what the butcher was doing. These stalls also stocked huge supplies of the ‘Pick’ salami that I also was keen on purchasing to take back and sample in the comforts of home. These salamis came in different sizes and the different stalls appeared to apply differing prices for these same wares, depending on where they were located in the hall. The wife made note of that fact. Nevertheless we bought some. In a nutshell, a large market hall with many stalls but all stalls basically selling the same things. And upstairs arranged around the outer walls, more stalls with traditional embroidery and more tourist trickery. Bummer. The whole thing could have been condensed into four shops based on goods sold. Nothing for my belly other than a couple of excellent spicy dried snack sausages. We did not go into the basement for further my disappointment.

National Spice of Hungary is Paprika ... ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

National spice of Hungary is Paprika … ok, so these samples had collected a lot of dust over the course of many years of being window displays.

iphoneography©2014,myronunrau©2014

Nope … didn’t eat here. Why not? Well, the name implied certain culinary danger. No matter that the hustler out on the street touted the menu to be “just like your mother home food”.

We did however stumble across the ‘Strudelhaus‘ on October 6 Utca. Wow, who knew Strudel could be so good. This restaurant also offers other traditional Hungarian fare but we spoiled our appetites with mouthwatering late afternoon goodness. Absolutely recommend this establishment for a delightful and very tasty visit.

Below is a sample of the sights and personal impressions:

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Parliament building besieged by constructionism

Solitary tower view point overlooking Budapest

One of the towers of the Fishermans Bastion overlooking Budapest

Bronze Aged Police

Bronze Aged Police on Zrinyi Utca/Oktober 6 Utca. Budapest

Wooden restaurant facade

Wooden restaurant facade on Vaci Utca

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Post christmas blues in the city

from there to here (camera viewpoint)

Rokford restaurant on the corner of Honved St and Szalay St. Didn’t eat there either.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Seriously guarding the Hungarian Presidentat Sandor Palota

Looking across the Danube river  (beside the 'Chain Bridge')

Looking across the Danube river beside the Széchenyi lánchíd or Chain Bridge

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Detail of historical graphic context

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

The unintended monumental asphyxiation of statues in an unnamed square somewhere in downtown Budapest

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Two tram cars as seen from Vemezo Way

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Yup Unicum … tastes exactly like ZWACK

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Still in rail service to the nation at Nayugati Railway Terminal

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Lonely morning street with retro VW bug

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Cool colors and wheels

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

Dekagrams of decadent goodness

We can imagine how Budapest might look like in spring time.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

tired tourist feet

Screen shot 2014-01-24 at 19.21.05

Good’bye’ Budapest. Thank you kindly for the hospitality.

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau©2014

wrong-way adventures on the M3 Blue Line to get to the airport

iphoneographythis©2014,myronunrau2014

Captain, please start this engine for takeoff

iphoneographythis©2012,2012©myronunrau

The first soup of fall

Light high flying coastal clouds defuse a pale blue late September sky as my appetite and comfort needs turn to the soul enriching flavors of true soups, made from scratch and not a few cupful/handfuls of love and pride in the act of creating edible ecstasy in a large pot for the dinner bowl and spoon set.

My lime green cast iron/enamel pot is settled onto the stove, it’s lid firmly, nay heavily fit into place sealing in the goodness of my first autum sojourn into my world of hearty soups. I’ll check under the near manhole cover weighted lid in an hours time now. Let the ingredients relax and release their natural benefits.

Yeah, I did think of taking some photos while in the process of chopping and adding and stirring and now the waiting/cooking but couldn’t be bothered  much with fiddling around my my digital eyeball just then. I’ll show the finished result later instead (then it will be now for you).

I will tell of the idea and how I begat this particular version of hearty goodness.

It always begins with the mention of a certain food or a feeling I get at this particular time of the year. Soup is what begins. Soup season if you will and I love soup season.

Today I began with 3L of water into which I slow cooked two small roughly diced onions, one bay leaf and two beef bullion cubes (salted only much later); add to that a fair and reasonable yet not over the top amount of dried split peas and lentils of your choice. To this combination I added two bunches of baby carrots, again roughly diced/chopped, another diced small onion. For color I added on whole Okanagan red pepper, along with three thick sliced of ginger for medicinal flavouring. I also added four cubed yellow potatoes at the end for excess salt absorption. For meat I used two kinds. I roughly diced two red wine chorizo sausages that I got at Cioffis an hour ago. I started by frying it in a large skillet. To that I added a reasonably largely diced 1.7lbs of natural stew beef pieces. Fried those up well, adding the leftover of the super spicey raspberry jam (I mixed three drops of Dave’s Insanity Sauce (great color) for some extra flavor enhancement. I do this because then when the meat is transfered to the iron soup pot for tenderizing slow cooking its flavor mixes with the building/expanding/developing soup. I’m having a difficult time keeping the lid on the pot and not looking in on the process … but I am resisting.

After combining everything I wanted to add to the pot, I let the low heat and iron pot do their thing to the ingredients under the lid for as long as you can stand it.

After the fact: The big pot is empty now. The soup was incredible, hearty and oh so delicious.

Improv Recipe Modification

So, the last time I was in Germany; well the time before the last time too, I was turned on to a particularly delightful summery dish. Boiled potatoes with Ziger, a kind of ‘white cheese’ called Quark. It is creamy with a slightly sour flavor and here in Canada I have not yet found anything similar. Not enough Germans here perhaps? or I’ve possibly not yet found the place to buy it.

What delighted me so when I first tasted it was that simple garden herbs like chives, parsley and onions, a bit of garlic, salt and pepper to taste are mixed with this simple creamy white cheese and then served with lovely German boilded potatoes (perhaps you know what I mean) that are also dusted with sprinkles of parsley. A piece of potato on your fork, a generous dab of Ziger applied with your knife and pop that into your mouth. You won’t be sorry.

That is until you try to repeat that by making it yourself here on the North American side of the big Atlantic pond. Ok, you might be on of those smart asses who makes the stuff yourself. I’ve not attempted that yet, but I won’t shy away from it when the urge strikes next time.

Since my last trip to Germany I’ve recreated this dish improv style twice, the last time last night. My dinner guest and outspoken food critic (my daughter) blew my mind when she declared it to be the best tasting potato salad she’d ever tried. I was all smiles, and on to something good.

I had a craving for garden greens, potatoes and something cool on a warm summers evening and so I set to work. Knowing I couldn’t find Quark in my local shopping hangouts I decided to ‘make do’ with what I could find. That consisted of plain yogurt, cottage cheese and sour creme. I plopped those ingredients into a bowl and then got to chopping green onions, shallots, cilantro, a few basil leaves and a bunch of radishes, which I diced. I stopped short of throwing a cucumber into the mix although that mini Japanese variety would be a delightful adition. But enough with the evolving mutation.

Quickly blend all of the ingredients in a large enough bowl to hold the mass comfortably and let it chill in the fridge. I find that the flavor the next morning/day is much richer and enjoyable, so if you can let the mixture stand overnight.

Serve your potatoes warm arranged around the edge of a large plate with a generous dollop of the dairy/garden greens combination. It makes for a  simple, satisfying and lovely summery dish. Mine just happened to turn into a potato salad because I tossed them with the dairy/greens mixture. Soooo good and I can’t wait to do it again this summer some time.

Photo? No, so sorry I ate the subject/prop 😉 you’ll have to use your imaginations. Next time, hehe

Here are a few other recipes using Ziger: http://www.kaeserei-neudorf.ch/de/kaese/ziger/rezepte.html

From Wikipedia:

The cheese is also known simply as “white cheese” (Polish: ser biały, Lithuaninan: Baltas sūris, southern Germany: Weißkäse or weißer Käs, Hebrew: Gvina Levana גבינה לבנה, Serbian: beli sir), as opposed to any rennet-set “yellow cheese”.

The name comes from the Late Middle High Geman Quark, which in turn is derived through twarcquarczwarg from the Lower Sorbian Slavic tvarog, (Polish twaróg, Belarusian тварог, Russian творог, and Czech and Slovak tvaroh, which means “curd”. In Austria, the name Topfen (pot cheese) is used. In Flanders, it is called plattekaas (flat cheese), while the Dutch use the name kwark. In Norway, Denmark and Sweden, it is called kvark.

In Germany, quark is sold in small plastic tubs and usually comes in three different varieties, Magerquark (lean quark, virtually fat-free), “regular” quark (20% fat) and Sahnequark (creamy quark, 40% fat) with added cream. While Magerquark is often used for baking and as health food, e.g. as a breakfast spread, Sahnequark also forms the basis of a large number of quark desserts. Much like yoghurts in some parts of the world, these treats mostly come with fruit flavouring (Früchtequark, fruit quark), and are often also simply referred to as quark. As the large popularity of quark desserts is limited to mainly the German-speaking and central European countries, confusion might arise when talking about quark with people unfamiliar with cuisine from this area.

The name comes from the Late Middle High Geman Quark, which in turn is derived through twarcquarczwarg from the Lower Sorbian Slavic tvarog, (Polish twaróg, Belarusian тварог, Russian творог, and Czech and Slovak tvaroh, which means “curd”. In Austria, the name Topfen (pot cheese) is used. In Flanders, it is called plattekaas (flat cheese), while the Dutch use the name kwark. In Norway, Denmark and Sweden, it is called kvark.

In Finnish it is known as rahka, while in Estonian as kohupiim (foamy milk). In Latvian it is called biezpiens (thick milk). The French-language word for it is seré, but it is most commonly called fromage blanc.

Quark is possibly described by Tacitus in his book Germania as lac concretum (thick milk), eaten by Germanic peoples.

In the US quark is called simply farmer’s cheese in the midwest.

In southern Germany it is known as: Weißkäse or weißer Käs (White Cheese)

2012©myronunrau, iphoneographythis©

Of Cups & Cakes or How the Professional does it

I am not a baker, nor am I scientific in my thinking and therefore baking being semi scientific in approach, I do not bake much, at all.

I like, nay I appreciate the occasional sweet home baked delight and prefer them over their store bought counterparts on any given day. Yesterday I had the opportunity to fully appreciate the complexity and joy of building a refreshing lime/coconut bit of sweetness. I had a pro come over and replicate their chosen recipe. I lent the occasional hand/help  around the periphery and even managed to learn a thing or two about the super sweet world of cup cakery.

2012©myronunrau, iphoneographythis©

coconut lime cup cakes mid production

One thing that the unsuspecting cup cake making novice such as myself soon discovers is that those tasty suckers aren’t all that cheap. I spent nearly $50 on the ingredients for this session and while I could do another go round with some of them, I’d have to go a replenish the ones that professional and I used up during the initial session. I still am not sure why I still have so much icing in the fridge but I am certain that I’ll double up on the coconut content for the last recipe. I must also admit to arriving at a better understanding as to profit margins in the resale aspect of some of the more indulgent recipes; $3.oo per cup cake oughta cover that part nicely.

The professional and I tore at, measured in, whipped, scooped, slashed at, extracted from, finely slivered, frothed, spooned, mixed with, levelled this, diced that, mounded this, beat that some more, gave that a good squeeze, cut, chopped up, folded into, soured, poured and scraped various ingredients that made up the little cakes. I nearly abused the lime and vanilla bean bits savagely while more buttery sweetness was beat into submission by the professional. I could tell that the professional had done this before.

2012©myronunrau, iphoneographythis©

… first half was excellent too

And then after sweating it out while the first batch of delicately citrus flavored cakes were baking, the resultant delight proved to be just the delectable treat that had fired our imaginations since reading the recipe.

It had not gone so well had it not been for the professional, you know who you are. Thanks kindly.

2012©myronunrau, iphoneographythis©

Until only one remained

Food Influence – Italy

While doing another batch of dishes one evening I photographed this recognizable icon, foodies know and appreciate it’s influence well.