Friday, November 30, 2007

Exploding Pumpkins

So this is what I found when I entered my kitchen after hearing a bang in there. I'd been trying to bake a squash that I'd bought, and it had a really hard shell so I was baking it for quite a while. It wasn't getting any softer so I gave it another couple minutes after already an hour and a half, and then boom, it exploded, bursting open the oven door and sending seeds and crap all over the floor. Quite exciting.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wild Boar and Deer Tuesday

So yesterday, we had the lovely pleasure of having the opportunity to skin a whole wild boar and two small deer. Part of our Game Seminar. Interesting to hang up a dead animal without its inside organs, but everything else there. Our chef showed us how to cut the skin off and then we all got to try it. I wont go into details, but it wasnt the prettiest or nicest thing that Ive done, but it was good to see and learn how to do it, in case it comes up again in my cooking career.

Today, Wednesday, we will skin wild rabbits. The Germans dont waste too much with these animals, composting the hide, using the bones for stock and the meat to be for goulasch and other dishes.

On a happier note, I get to go to Leipzig tomorrow to meat with the American Generalconsolate, and talk about our expieriences in Germany. Should be good to get away from all the meat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Market, Snow and Dead Animals

Three new things happened in Erfurt yesterday the 126th of November. One: the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market, with tons of stands selling everything from crafts, to spiced wine, to candy) opened. Two: I started a seminar on game (rabbits, pheasants, wild pigs etc) and got to watch a lovely video about how to cut up a recently shot animal. Three: it started to snow (had happened on and off most days) and actually stayed on the ground. The photo above shows two of the things, snow and the Weihnachtsmarkt, and if there was a dead animals carcass on the street, then I would be able to show all 3 things.

So the Weihnachtsmarkt, which is something typical of most German cities is awesome. Big festival, that goes on up until a few days before Christmas. Well known markets include, Erfurt, Nuremburg, Dresden and Berlin. This is the 157th annual market in Erfurt, and it has taken over the whole city. There are stands all over the city, giving the place a Christmas atmosphere. People come out of the woodwork for the market. The city expects almost 2 million people to attend this years market.

“Wednesday will not be pretty and it’s going to be bloody, but so is having a baby” said our head chef today describing how on Wednesday during the Game Seminar, we will get nice and bloody cutting up rabbits. Nice warning. He also said that if heard a cell phone go off, he would be happy to put it under water so it wouldn’t be so loud and disturbing. Quite a character.

Cobblestones get mighty slippery with snow. Something I figured out last night as the snow stuck. The snow is awesome, and it fit great with the start of our Christmas season. Lots of people out and about, drinking Gluhwein (spiced wine) and browsing the many shops. A great atmosphere, although a little on the cold side.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


This is what my Thanksgiving meal is going to look like. Me cutting the fillets off the fish body after scraping off the scales. Then I'll cut off the skin and make an awesome meal out of fish. No Turkey for me this Thanksgiving.
Yesterday at the fish seminar we make a salmon puree and used that as the stuffing for our Scholle fish fillets. Rolled the fillets around the puree and then poached the fish, serving it on a bed of leek and tomatoes surrounded by pasta covered in a sauce made from cooking off the bones, heads and other parts of the fish that aren't useable. Quite a tasty meal and I look forward to eating something similar today on Thanksgiving.

To everyone in America, eat a turkey for a me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From baking to fishing

Last week, the baking seminar was awesome. Making pies, strudels, cookies, cakes, eclairs and souffles, and then getting to eat them and take some home. Very tasty throughout the week.
This week is another fish seminar, not quite as enticing, but interesting nonetheless. Im looking forward to skinning more fish, cutting up fillets and then steaming, sauteeing, frying, poaching and baking fish. Cant wait.

Another soccer filled weekend with Germany winning 4-0 over Cyprus, attending the loss of our local team Rot Weiss Erfurt (Red and White Erfurt), and then playing soccer with several friends in a pickup game against some young teenagers who we whooped.

No snow flurries for the past few days, although still just as cold. The Christmas market opens next week so everyone is getting excited, with the streets decorated and Christmas trees popping up all over.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Snow and baking

So this morning I woke up to snow flurries out my window. It went on for an hour and then was sunny for several hours. And it is now snowing again while I type this. Not sticking to the ground yet, but should soon I think. Pretty awesome.

This week I'm having a baking seminar. Yesterday we worked on yeast dough, making an awesome Apple Strudel and a fancy, twisted loaf of bread (half of it shown above, after being mostly eaten). The loaf was simple, simply roll out 3 rolls of dough, and then braid them together, pinch the ends so it doesn't come apart, brush with egg wash so it shines and then bake for a half hour at 160 degrees celsius.
On a side note, it is my sister's Birthday today, so a big Happy Birthday und Viel Glück zum Geburtstag to her!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm famous

What sort of face do you make when they decide to name a street after you, and then mis-spell your last name?


Cold. The weather is cold here. On Saturday for Martini is was in the negative degrees, celsius of course. The average high is about 5 degrees here, not including the wind chill effect. And for the past several days we have had some lovely rain in Erfurt. Friends in Dresden and Berlin have seen snow flurries.

On Sunday I explored a castle amidst a rainstorm and wind. Quite entertaining until the feet got wet. And later at a festive music concert (direct translation) in a nearby church, it was freezing. I could see heaters, but they definitely were not on. Everyone was still in their coats and if you breathed hard enough, you could see your breath.

On a side note, after over 3 months in Germany, I just found an extra sock. Looks like one of mine, but does not have a match and Im not missing any pairs. Strange. With the next 9 months, I hope to somehow find another one to match it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

St. Martins Day aka Martini

November 10 is St. Martin's day, and Erfurt holds an annual festival in celebration of St. Martin, their patron saint, as well as their beloved Protestant "saint" and namesake, Martin Luther. Everyone goes down to the Domplatz (Cathedral Square) carrying lanterns, drinking warm spiced wine (Glühwein) and eating the special pastries, Martinshörchen, which were awesome. Very festive event at the market on the square, with a band playing German music.

Then on the steps to the cathedral began a play in which Martin Luther and St Martin came down from the cathedral and spoke to everyone. Gotta love actors. Gave some good messages to take away, most of which I didnt fully understand. And then St. Maria came down as well and started talking, asking the people to raise their lanterns, which was pretty cool to see all of the lights together. Apparently later on, the kids can go door to door with their lanterns and get candy, just like Halloween, but in a more religious way.
After the ceremony, we went to a traditional restaurant to eat Martins Ganz, a specially cooked goose. A special meal on St. Martins day every year, but not available at the market with the pastries and other goodies. Quite delicious, although a big on the fatty side. Lots of people were at the restaurant coming from the celebration so it was a lively time.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Dresden part 2

On my last day in Dresden I went to the German Hygiene Museum. Quite an interesting experience. It may seem like it would be all about hygiene, but it was more about health, the body and life. The special exhibit for the next few months is all about death, with hundreds of artists portraying death with real bodies, pictures, videos and stories. Varying opinions and beliefs on death, many provoking discussion between tour groups.

Upstairs in the permanent section is Germany's first transparent man, allowing everyone to see inside the body, to the organs and such. Lots of info on how the body works. Pretty cool stuff. Covered eating, drinking, touching, aka, the senses. Another room was all about sex, another about the brain. For only 3 Euros, it was a steal for a couple hours on a cold, rainy day in Dresden.

The Hygiene Museum is located in the central park of Dresden, which houses the soccer team's stadium, a botanical garden, a VW plant, tons of walking paths as well as an awesome palace.

Dresden Park Palace

Germans and garlic

Germans use barely any garlic over here. I keep telling my chefs to use more garlic but then out comes the lecture about how people at work don't want to smell garlic on other people's breathe. So we can't use that much for the lunches we serve.
I countered with if everyone ate the same, with lots of garlic, then there would be no problem as everyone would be in the same boat. Herr Keitel said that it's like going to the dentist and having the dentist reek of garlic. I said that it would be just another reason to hate going to the dentist.
My friend Eliza had her neighbor in her apartment building knock on her door to tell her that she was using too much garlic. Seems to be a touchy issue over here, so I'll keep using as much garlic as I like to balance out the system.

Sunday, November 4, 2007


Dresden Semper Opera House

I'm in Dresden now, visiting a couple of friends in my program. 75 of us all over German and I can pretty much just crash on the couch in most of the large cities in Germany which is great.

Dresden is much bigger than Erfurt. Got a lot more sites to see, from the famous Frauenkirche, to a huge palace full of musuems, to the Semp Opera House. Lot's of cool touristy things to see, but also some smaller off the normal path places as well.
Eliza and I in front of the Frauenkirche. We're small because all Germans back up to take photos.

I got away from the touristy side of Dresden and went exploring with my friends in the older part of town, finding a shop full of every type of mustard possible, from strawberry to fig to rosemary. Got to try a bunch, and most were quite good. Garlic was my favorite. Next door was a shop selling intricate German carvings that were selling for over 600 Euros. And the next shop dubs itself as the most beautiful milkery in the world. Praising the cow would be an understatement. For a lactose intolerant person, it was even interesting, but I passed on buying any cheese or homemade milk.

Dresden at night is amazing, with all of the lights reflecting off the Elbe River. The streets are well lit and already have a lot of Christmas lights up preparing for the large Christmas Market that will open soon.

I took the train here, but will be going back with my old roomates from my first apartment in Erfurt. Both of them live in the area and were home for the weekend, and one of them is driving back and offered to pick us up. Looking forward to my first trip on the Autobahn, zipping along towards Erfurt.

German fall festivities

In the Botanical Gardens in Erfurt, they dressed up pumpkins as fairy tale characters. Ingenious and something that should happen in the states. Ideas for next year.

Snow White and the 7 Dwarves

Hansel and Gretel