Fotoeins Fotopress

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Posts from the ‘Food’ category

First time sweetness at Heidelberg’s Café Gundel

Moving to Germany

In 2001, I moved across the big Atlantic pond from Canada to Germany. Knowing only “bitte” (please) and “danke” (thank you), I flew sight unseen to Frankfurt am Main, followed by a shuttle-bus to the German university town of Heidelberg. I would live and work in Heidelberg for two years, and I couldn’t have known the experience would change my life.

Heidelberg is one of my favourite “hometowns” in Germany, my adopted country.

1st Time in DE, 1st Time in HD

An early memory is a stroll down Heidelberg’s Hauptstrasse (“main street”). I spend a long afternoon up and down streets, through small cobbled alleys, learning locations of stores and services, and getting an immediate lay of the town.

At the eastern end of the Altstadt (Old Town), I step into an attractive and brightly lit Café Gundel and sit down at one of the tables. My eyes are bigger than my stomach. I decide to do the sensible thing, and order the first reasonable thing that comes to mind: Apfelstrudel and a latté macchiato.

It’s relatively quiet in the café, and I’m quickly served “coffee and cake”. The strudel has large chunks of apples, surrounded by very light flaky pastry and topped with a fine dusting of powdered sugar. The cake isn’t too tart or sweet, and there’s a generous mouthful of cinnamon and nutmeg. Did I also mention there’s fresh whipping cream (Schlagsahne) on the side? That’s not spray-on stuff from a can, which, as I learned later, is sacrilege of the highest order.

I walk up to the counter to pay and I express my gratitude. With hand gestures and attempted English, I ask to buy an additional selection of cookies, small cakes, and sweets. I’m sure the lady behind the counter thinks I’ve completely lost my mind. In broken English, she tells me there’ll be more tomorrow, and plenty more the day after that.

This memory has served as an introduction to both Heidelberg and Germany, and has stayed with me over the years. I’ve returned many times to Heidelberg since leaving in 2003, but I’ve returned to Gundel only twice.

Guess it’s time to go back “home”, back to Gundel, and make some new memories …

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Café Gundel

Cafe Gundel, Hauptstrasse (Karlsplatz), Heidelberg, Germany

Do I have room for these? Why yes; yes, I do …

If you’re in Heidelberg, walk to the eastern end of Hauptstrasse to Café Gundel. Press your nose up against the window, and look, drool at the sweets on display. When you’ve worked up an appetite, head inside, relax, and enjoy your “Kaffee und Kuchen” (cake and coffee).


Café Gundel is both Konditorei (pastry shop) and Bäckerei (bake shop), making a wide assortment of sweet pastries and hearty breads. The main and larger Gundel is located at the eastern end of the Hauptstrasse at Karlsplatz (Charles Square). The smaller version, der kleine Gundel, is located at Universitätsplatz (University Square).

You can easily walk the mile-long Hauptstrasse. Alternatively, you can take a bus or tram from the train station to Bismarckplatz, and transfer onto bus 31, 32, or 33 into the Altstadt.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Pie Pie Pie

January 26 in Vancouver, Canada marks a great convergence of two events. It’s Australia Day, and running concurrently is the Dine Out Vancouver Festival.

I’m at the North Plaza of the Art Gallery in the city’s downtown/CBD. Here over 20 food trucks are participating in the Street Food City in conjunction with the Dine Out festival. This is the third consecutive year for food trucks to highlight their street food over a period of five days.

One thing I’ve learned after spending time throughout Australia and New Zealand is I’ve frequent serious cravings for their meat pie. Months ago, I looked for meat pies in Vancouver, and with a quick online search, my eyeballs made a beeline to Aussie Pie Guy.

Aussie Pie Guy, Street Food City, Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014, Vancouver Art Gallery
Street Food City, Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014
Aussie Pie Guy, Street Food City, Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014, Vancouver Art Gallery
Aussie Pie Guy, Street Food City, Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014, Vancouver Art Gallery

I’ve had the smooth stylins’ of their chook (chicken) pie previously, but I see today they have Kangaroo Pie: “kangaroo mince with sweet potato mash, bacon, and pepperberry spices.” Without hesitation, I get the kanga pie “epic” style, complete with peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy.

First bite in is a winner: savory ground meat with smoky BBQ-like hints from the bacon, the blend of sweet and spicy flavours from the sweet potato and pepperberry, a golden flaky pie crust shell, all topped with just chewy mashed peas, creamy mashed potatoes, and a generous portion of warm thick brown gravy.

I feel loss in the final bite, because the pie is done and gone.

(Watch how I stuff me piehole at the 1 minute 9 second mark in the video here …)

Epic Kanga Pie

Doesn’t that pie make you want to reach over and dig in? For addicts like me, the Aussie Pie Guy food truck is out and about Vancouver, ready to satisfy everybody’s need for Australian meat pies.

Aussie Pie Guy, Street Food City, Dine Out Vancouver Festival 2014, Vancouver Art Gallery

Amy & Hayley

Thanks to the Australian ladies for their hospitality and conversation! I made all of the photos above on Australia Day (26 January) 2014. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

Mum’s cooking at Auckland’s Food Alley

Long distance recollections

A number of years ago, I stopped in Auckland, New Zealand for a few days on my way back from Sydney, Australia to La Serena, Chile.

I was stunned to find mum’s cooking.

I immediately called mum in Vancouver to let her know someone stole her recipe for claypot rice.

She was skeptical and told me to get back to Vancouver for the real thing.

I told her the commute back home from the southern hemisphere was a little rough, but I’d be back to visit in a few months …

The holy urban trinity

It might be an odd combination, but when I’m in a city for the first time, I look for three things: green spaces, art spaces, and decent food.

With subsequent visits to Auckland, I’m happy to have found all three in New Zealand’s largest city.

Getting around Auckland isn’t as difficult as it might seem, as various Link Bus services are an inexpensive and effective way of getting around the city for both residents and visitors. After my visit to the Auckland Domain and the Auckland Museum, I step off the Inner Link bus on Albert Street, and I make the short way to Food Alley for dinner.

Food Alley in Auckland’s CBD

Recommended as a cheap-eat by various sources including the New Zealand Herald, Food Alley is an unassuming looking no-nonsense food court, consisting of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Indonesian, Korean, Malaysian, Thai, and Vietnamese stalls.

While some might express disapproval at eating in a food court, Food Alley is similar to the Cooked Food Centres (the old “dai pai dong”) in Hong Kong or the hawker centres in Singapore. Drawing comparisons with southeast Asia is a very good thing.

In late-afternoon and early-evening, Food Alley is packed with people, and every stall is seeing some action.

This is a first indication of a good thing.

Many minutes of indecision ensued when faced with all of the choices. But I feel an invisible force tugging at my sleeves, and I’m “pulled” toward Claypot Rose, where a number of dishes are cooked in … well … claypots. They even include little pictures of how the dishes appeared.

Now, a common piece of wisdom is avoid places with pictures of food, but every stall in Food Alley has little pictures showing what they have on offer. But it’s busy here, and people are quiet as they’re digging eagerly into their food. They’re in animated conversation once their plates are empty.

This is the second indication this place is going to be good.

Food Alley, Auckland, New ZealandFood Alley, Auckland, New Zealand

I remember looking into our family’s kitchen while mum prepared steamed chicken with ginger and Chinese sausage on a bed of rice and bok-choy. I see that memory come alive in front of me: “claypot chicken rice with Chinese sausage” (煲仔雞飯) consists of chunks of steamed chicken and sausage, seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and crowned generously with chopped green onion and red chiles. To augment my round of gluttony, I order an extra BBQ-pork egg foo yung.

Pure taste was my third indication and the ultimate clincher.

Like a question of what came first or, simply, what’s better, both chicken and egg are really good, but the claypot chicken rice brings me back to the past with the familiar flavours. I never thought I’d experience that taste outside of my childhood home, until I stepped into Food Alley and discovered the replicated stylings of mum’s cooking.

Address & Map for Food Alley

Food Alley is located in Auckland’s Central Business District at 9 Albert Street, just minutes on foot from Britomart Train Station. They’re open every day from 1030am to 10pm. The Link Bus, including the City-, Inner-, and Outer-Link services, runs in both directions on all routes with 10- to 20-minute frequencies every day until about 11pm.

Other recent commentary about Food Alley: The Selfish Years, and The Food Pornographer.

I made the photos above with a 4th-generation iPodTouch on 31 July 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

Two More Coffee Highlights in Sydney

Here are two more great joints in Sydney for a delicious cuppa joe …

Ampersand, Paddington

During the German film festival, I’d been up and down Oxford Street between the two cinemas, and one cafe in particular near the Palace Verona cinema was a standout. The Ampersand Café Bookstore is a cozy place with fresh coffee, friendly staff, and a lot of books; there’s seating inside and outside. Had I stayed for long, I would’ve gotten lost in a large mug and many books on art, cinema, and photography.

Ampersand Café Bookstore, 78 Oxford Street, Paddington.

Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore, Paddington, Sydney

Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore, Paddington, Sydney

Ampersand Cafe and Bookstore, Paddington, Sydney


bRu, North Bondi

While at Bondi early one April-morning to photograph the morning light, I found a tiny café called “bRu coffee”. The café is at the corner of Brighton Boulevard and Campbell Parade, near the bus loop where some bus-routes from the CBD terminate in North Bondi. A warm lifesaver on a cool morning, this place is a definite fave among local residents. There aren’t many seats inside or outside, and given its location, many get their takeaways for a morning walk on the beach or for their work-commute into the City. I liked this place so much I returned to Bondi two weeks later to photograph the surf. Over a large flat white, I chatted with the staff and with “Mr. Vitamins” himself, Mr. Abraham James.

bRu coffee, 101 Brighton Boulevard, North Bondi.

bRu coffee, North Bondi, Sydney, Australia

bRu coffee, North Bondi, Sydney, Australia

bRu coffee, North Bondi, Sydney, Australia

I made the photos above on 12 and 19 May 2013. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Food tally, 4th- and final-quarter 2012

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