Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Happy Halloween

The Red Sox won the World Series, Germany's clocks turned back an hour and I played soccer with a group of Lithuanian friends since I last wrote.
Always something goingn on here in town which is nice. Harry Potter came out in German on Friday and there were several parties for it. Only a few months late. The translators need to sspeed things up. Next week is teh TV premier of the movie Hitch, which I saw in Spring 2005, in Australia. Little bit behind on things. For the past few Sundays Ive been watching the night movie with my old roomate, Franzi. Good to watch American movies, hear German and have more opportunities to speak German, especially with someone who speaks some English.
Tomorrow is a German holiday, Reformations Day. Not sure what is is all about, but there is no work, most shops are closed like Sundays, and people get to sleep in and then party with family and friends.
Hope someone reading this goes Trick or Treating tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More cooking school: Seafood seminars

This week, my third at my cooking school, I again started with a new class, but this time not in the kitchen.
Everyday Im in a seminar with a class of older students, learning this week about fish and seafood. Yesterday we learned about a lot of types of fish, both salt and fresh water (which they call sweet water} fish. Then we went to the learning kitchen, where at every cooking station there are 2 people. We got to cut up fillets of salmon and make a sauce using the leftover body parts, including the head. Good practice for a cheaper way to buy fish.

Today was awesome. We had a demonstation on crustaceans: lobsters, crayfish, prawns. All live and squirming in their boxes while we examined them, before tossing them into boiling hot water, with several students saying Im sorry, in German. After they were cooked (12 minutes for a 500 gram lobster] the head chef showed us how to cut them up and different ways to serve them.

After crustaceans came some more fish, this time to be used for sushi. The sushi seminar was sweet as we got to use lots of veggies and types of fish, before then tasting our creations. Mine looked damn good, and the chef said that it was the best, as it showed exactly what was in it, when cut open.

So Ill be in a new class for this week, learning more about fish. No clue what next week brings, perhaps another class, or more seminars.

And I should say Im sorry for not stopping 3 lobsters and many other creatures from dying in boiling hot, spiced water, but it was in the name of education.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Cooking School week 2

Things are going well in class and I know my way around the kitchen pretty well already. But of course there are going to be things that I mess up on due to the language. For instance today, when the Chef Marquadt told me to put the egg white aside and the yolk in the batter, I put the egg whites in the batter and set the yolks aside. Luckily, the chickens in Germany produce a lot of eggs, so no harm done.
I try to practice saying words that I have learned. Today for instance after hearing the word for brush, I repeated it, and was then given the brush by the student. I guess that means I was correct.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Weimar Zwiebelmarkt

Weimar, home of so many important figures in Germany, from Goethe to Schilling, is also the home of a very large onion festival held every Oktober. I went with my German roommate Franzi, and some other international students from the Uni.

It was like a lot of German festivals, with beer tents, lots of food vendors (with lots of onion products), booths selling random things from onion puppets to cookware. Tons of people. It was packed and was hard to move around with the crowd. The fact that they had a 10k race as well going through the city closing off streets, made it even harder.

The best onion food is definitely the Zweibelkuchen: onion cake. There are several variations and we had two of them. One, a cake bread base with spiced onions on top. The other was more of an onion quiche and more filling. The customary drink with Zweibelkuchen is Federweisser, a sweet white wine that is still fermenting in the bottle. It is only available for a couple months out of the year, from August to Okotber normally. It tastes like an alcoholic lemonade, and is very popular in Germany. I don’t think that is available in the States, but it may be with a different name. The grapes used are leftover grapes that aren’t good enough for their high quality wines, but are perfect for a product that still ferments while sitting in the bottles with a loose cap. A cork would cause the bottle to explode with the fermentation in it.

Myself with Franzi my German roomate and Paige, a fellow American, eating Zweibelkuchen with Federweisser

In Weimar, my friend Paige, a person in my program living in Hamburg, met up with us. She had studied in Weimar for 2 summers and knew a lot of the city and was our tour guide. Saw Goethe’s garden house in the amazing Ulm Park. Lots of cool buildings including the amazing Elephant House, the best hotel in town where Hitler came to and spoke on the front balcony.

Weimar was a great city. I like it more that Erfurt. Lots of history, a great park, interesting buildings all over and although smaller, it seemed like there were more areas to go to. I plan on making several trips there as it is less that 5 Euros by train round trip. Perhaps I’ll look for an internship in a restaurant there.

And back to onion and vegetables, lot’s of onion garnishes and decorations at all the stands. But the best thing I saw was actually a garlic schnapps. Surprisingly quite tasty, although the girls said my breathe was horrible afterwards. Definitely something unique to the onion festival.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Cooking school day 1

I just had my first day of class today at the cooking school. My day is from 7:30 until about 3pm, quite long compared to the other people in my program who have one or two classes a day. It was longer than expected, but for most of today I was cooking or preparing food. After getting suited up in the typical chef outfit, consisting from the hat, to the jacket to the checkered pants, I got a tour of the kitchen, with lots of appliances and things I have not worked with before so it will be good to learn to use those.
There are about 15 other people in my class right now, who were in the main kitchen doing the cooking. I think I am going into a different class next week as this one as a two week fall break starting next week. It would be nice to have the break right at the start, but I should be in a class that fits me better.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


On Tuesday, Oktober 2nd, 2007, I moved to Erfurt, my new home for the next ten months. I'll be going to the Erfurt Gastro Berufsbildungswerk, in other words a well respected cooking school. The people from my program have said it is a great cooking school and is hard to get into. I must thank the German government for that.

The countryside changed a lot leaving Köln. From the big city with a huge river, to lots of open fields, grass, trees, some hills and not a heck of a lot. They call Thüringen, my state, the green heart of Deutschland. Great for hiking and relaxing and it is a popular spot for German tourists to come. A little bit of a change for me from the city of Köln, but it looks to be a great place.

Erfurt is dominated by its huge cathedral and church, sitting together on top of a hill looking over the city. I go from one amazing cathedral in Köln to two amazing relgious buildings at the heart of the city. There are lots of cool buildings throughout Erfurt, and the facades on most buildings are picture worthy. They have the longest bridge in Europe with houses on both sides so it doesnt seem like you are on a bridge. It is called the Merchants Bridge as it used to have only shops along it.

My apartment is near the train station and is on the small and dirty side. But that should soon be changed as next week Ill be moving upstairs to a new, bigger room. Im hoping it will be a little bit cleaner. Its a good location and close to everything in the city. There is a bar/cafe downstairs and a kebab place next door. So far I havent seen a roomate yet, but he is rumored to exist. And I might be getting another one today.

I have a meeting with my cooking school today. Ill find out when my classes will start, perhaps tomorrow, and what subjects Ill be taking. I should be placed with a tutor, someone to show me around the school and help me get started there. The program helps out a lot and makes it easier for people to move to new cities without being too alone.

Ill get pictures up soon. I have to figure it out as Im on a different computer now, a German keyboard with lots of things out of place, so my punctuation might not be as good as normal.