Posts from the ‘Food’ category

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Eat Like A Bahamian: Four Ways to Get Conched

Watching Nicola make conch salad, Doc Sands, Potters Cay, Nassau, Bahamas

Watching Nicola make conch salad at Doc Sands, Potters Cay

I’m basking in the Bahamian sun, collecting rays and passing time on the warm white sand.

It’s not long before I’m learning how to eat like a Bahamian. I’m craving for conch, peas and rice, and cold Kalik beer.

The ubiquitous conch

Known widely as the national food, conch (pronounced “konk”) is a large salt-water mollusk with white flesh and a slight shade of pink. Like other mollusks, conch meat can be rubbery or chewy. The firm meat is often tenderized by mechanical pounding or by marinating in citrus juice. Four ways to eat conch are conch salad, conch fritters, cracked conch or fried conch sandwich, and conch curry.

Conch salad is prepared with diced conch, green and red peppers, onion, tomato, chilli peppers, and citrus juice. It’s the Bahamian version of ceviche, and on hot sultry days, this cool salad is a popular choice. Many conch stands will make and serve fresh conch salad on demand, on the spot.

Conch salad at Twin Brothers, Potters Cay

Conch salad: Twin Brothers, Potters Cay

Conch fritters are often consumed as a bar snack. Conch pieces mixed with tomato paste, cut up green and red peppers, and onions are molded with flour into little balls, then deep fried in oil. Freshly fried fritters may be eaten with a variety of sauces including a simple red hot sauce, a creamy cilantro tartar sauce, or a chipotle mayo.

Conch fritters at Twin Brothers, Potters Cay

Conch fritters: Twin Brothers, Potters Cay

Cracked conch (fried conch) is prepared similar to a breaded cutlet of veal, chicken, or pork. After cutting thin “filets” of conch, the portions are pounded thin, breaded, and fried. And thus, the Bahamian version of the seafood sandwich consists of fried conch in bread or burger buns with lettuce, tomato, onion, and a little mayo.

Cracked conch burger, Doc Sands, Potters Cay

Cracked conch burger: Doc Sands, Potters Cay

Conch curry is prepared by marinating and steaming conch to get the most flavour out of the meat, before mixing with curry powder, garlic, onions, peppers, carrots, tomato, coconut milk, salt, and pepper. A slow simmer squeezes out maximum flavours. The curry is typically served over Bahamaian peas and rice.

Caribbean conch curry with peas and rice and coleslaw, Nassau Yacht Club

Caribbean conch curry with peas and rice, coleslaw : Nassau Yacht Club

It’s not surprising there’s also conch chowder or conch soup. Other prepared variations of conch include steamed conch, cooked in Creole sauce served over rice, and seafood stews.

I dream of returning to the Bahamas for the blue skies, white sands, bottles of Kalik, and the conch.


Two Places To Go For Conch

•   Potter’s Cay Fish Shacks, for a street-food experience with Nassau residents.
•   Nassau Yacht Club, for club members who want A/C with their dining.

I made the photos above with a 4th-generation iPod Touch throughout May 2012 on my year-long journey around-the-world. A version of this post appeared on A Cook Not Mad’s “Honest Food Tales” series on 16 May 2014. The present modified version appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-4×7. My thanks to the Wilcox family who put up this traveling hobo and who taught him a thing or two about the truth of what it meant “to chill.”

BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, Comox Valley Economic Development Society, Comox Valley, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Comox Valley’s BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival: opening weekend

As guests of the Discover Comox Valley (Economic Development Society), fellow travel blogger Megan and I were invited as participating travel media to attend the opening weekend of the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival. The following visuals highlight a number of the activities in Comox, Courtenay, and Campbell River.

  • ‘Fresh Fest’ public event with food and music, 12 June
  • Gartley Point Hatchery, 13 June
  • Lunch at Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa
  • Mac’s Oysters
  • Flying Fresh lobster extravaganza, industry & public event
  • BC Seafood Expo & Workshop Series, 14 June
  • Cermaq Canada’s Venture Point aquaculture facility, 15 June

‘Fresh Fest’ – 12 June


Site Tours – 13 June


BC Seafood Expo – 14 June

Norway's ambassador to Canada, Her Excellency Mona Elisabeth Brøther, BC Seafood Expo, Courtenay, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Via Skype from Ottawa: Her Excellency Mona Elisabeth Brøther, Norway’s ambassador to Canada


South-central coastline – 15 June

Cermaq, Venture Point, Okisollo Channel, between Quadra Island and Sonora Island, Campbell River, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

Cermaq’s Venture Point aquaculture farm, Okisollo Channel, BC, Canada”

BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival, Comox Valley, BC, Canada, fotoeins.com

cmp.ly customI’m grateful to Comox Valley Economic Development Society (EDS) and the BC Salmon Famers Association for supporting and providing access to places and activities as a guest to Comox Valley and the Venture Point farm facility, respectively. The first two images were generously provided by the Comox Valley EDS. I made the remaining photos from 12 to 15 June 2015 inclusive. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6Uj.

Leipzig’s Auerbachs Keller: devilishly comfortable

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Goethe’s Faust meets Saxon comfort

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think I was giving away my soul for a good warm Saxon meal.

In the city of Leipzig, Germany, the name and influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe doesn’t stray far from conversation. Three more words are at the tip of the tongue: Faust. Pact. Devil.

Near the city’s central square at Markt, the Mädler-Passage beckons with bright lights and the promises of goods and riches within the shopping arcade. At the arcade’s north entrance, all are greeted by statues representing figures from “Faust”, the most famous published work by Goethe.

Signs to Auerbach’s Cellar lead downstairs on either side of the main passage. One thought remains as I walk into the basement. Am I sealing my own deal with the devil, setting foot in the Cellar’s chambers to sign away my freedom for some food, drink, and hospitality?

I’m sure the evening won’t be that dramatic. But the moment I walk in the door, I’m in the midst of culinary and literary tradition spanning many centuries.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Scene in Auerbach’s Cellar from Goethe’s Faust: Mephistopheles casts a spell on the students.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Scene in Auerbach’s Cellar from Goethe’s Faust: students bewitched by Mephistopheles.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Entering the ‘Großer Keller’: what could possibly go wrong?

Dr. Heinrich Stromer von Auerbach began to sell wine secretly to students from the cellar of his home in 1525. Leipzig University professor, doctor, and philosopher, Dr. Stromer was known in the city as “Doctor Auerbach” for his origins from the town of Auerbach in the Oberpfalz (northeast of Nürnberg). Between 1530 and 1538, he gathered enough funds to begin construction of his new home, Auerbach’s Hof, which housed a much larger basement for a tavern. Paintings included the legend of Faust riding out of the cellar on a wine cask:

Doctor Faustus zu dieser Frist
Aus Auerbachs Keller geritten ist,
Auf einem Fass mit Wein geschwind,
Welches gesehen viel Mutter Kind.
Solches durch seine subtilne Kunst hat gethan,
Und des Teufels Lohn empfangen davon. (1525)

Doctor Faustus at this tide
Out of Auerbach’s cellar did ride;
Upon a wine-cask up sped he,
As many a mother’s son did see.
This by his subtle art he did,
And the Devil’s wages got for it.

– “Faust: A Tragedy”, by J. W. von Goethe (Translated 1880)

As a student of Leipzig University, Goethe began visiting the cellar in the middle of the 18th-century and seeing the 16th-century paintings of the barrel ride in the tavern inspired him to write his version of “Faust” based on the life and times of late 15th- to early-16th century German magician Dr. Georg Faust (Faustus). Goethe included a scene within Auerbach’s Cellar, memorializing the tavern for posterity.

In 1911, merchant Anton Mädler purchased the entire Auerbachs Hof building to construct his own functional building for the trade fair. His original plans to demolish the historic building were met with worldwide outrage and protest; he compromised by retaining and enlarging Auerbachs Keller. The present-day shopping arcade bears the name of Mädler-Passage.

Grosser Keller: Sächsisch köstlich

Translated directly, “Sächsisch köstlich” is “Saxon delicious”, but the phrase sounds much better in German with the hard consonants and rhyming syllables. The online description of the Grosser Keller is:

Built in 1912/14 together with the Mädler-Passage, meals served within the “Großer Keller”are primarily simple dishes & Saxon specialities, as well as dishes accompanied by beer.

I’m very happy to see that the traditional tavern – pub – restaurant tonight is busy but not rowdy. Inside the front door, I announce my arrival, and soon Mr. Rothenberger arrives to greet me, welcoming me to their restaurant. He leads me towards a table at the back of the restaurant. While I’m seated for the next ninety minutes, Mr. Rothenberger is on the floor tonight for the first part of the dinner hour, greeting the evening’s guests and escorting them to their tables. Mr. Rothenberger and his wife have operated Auerbachs Keller Leipzig Rothenberger Betriebs GmbH since 2006.

I’m suddenly hungry, once I’m enveloped by the warmth of the underground restaurant. The many choices on the menu paralyze me with indecision. Conscious deliberation leads to decision, and a server responsible for my area arrives to take my order.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Rear table with a view

Thirsty and Cold: Beer and Soup, But Not All At Once Because That’d Be Wrong

A short time later, the server returns with a tall glass of cold Ur-Krostitzer Schwarzbier dark beer. There’s a chill in the air tonight, but truth is, I really like dark beer. (The Krostitzer brewery is located 20 km north of Leipzig.)

But it is a cold evening, and I’ve been craving soup while I’ve been wandering the streets of Leipzig’s Old Town over the last couple of hours. From the description, I’m confident the mushroom soup will be a dark creamy mix.

Arrival of a white porcelain bowl confirms my educated guess.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Wildrahmsuppe mit Champignons und Kräterschmand, Auerbachs Keller, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Wildrahmsuppe mit Champignons und Kräterschmand | Wild cream soup with mushrooms & herb cream

Rich, creamy, earthy and chunky with a generous portion of mushrooms and fresh herbs, I make quick work of the soup. The soup deserves a portion of bread, although bread and butter are clearly listed as an extra. That’s too bad, because I think soup this good should come with a good chunk of bread.

I take a big quaff of my Schwarzbier to clean my palate. Down down the dark liquid goes, and a third of my beer is gone. Aaaaaah, refreshing.

Main (entrée): Chicken & Noodles, Just What I Needed

The soup has filled and warmed my belly, and the beer’s giving me a good small buzz. Something hearty must be followed by something equally filling …

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Panierte Hähnchenbrust auf Pilz-Zwiebel-Gurkenragout mit Gemüsenudeln in Kräuter-Sahnesosse, Auerbachs Keller, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Panierte Hähnchenbrust auf Pilz-Zwiebel-Gurkenragout mit Gemüsenudeln in Kräuter-Sahnesosse | Breaded chicken breast on mushroom, onion, & cucumber ragout, with noodles in herb cream sauce

The chicken breast is lightly breaded, but I find the breading oversalted, even though I’m very familiar with how much salt fits the German palate. Fortunately, the thin crispy crust gives way to tender and juicy white meat within. The vegetable ragout and noodles provide a “lighter” counterpoint to the meat. The breading, ragout, and herb cream sauce could also do with more black pepper, but that’s not traditionally German. I had expected this main dish or entrée to be too “heavy”, but a typical “meat and starch” done up Saxon-style with my plate of “chicken and noodles” does its job well.

“Typische Sächsische Gemütlichkeit” (Typical Saxon Coziness)

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

There’s crowd noise but it’s not obnoxiously loud. People seated in adjacent tables are clearly having meaningful conversations without having to bellow at the top of their lungs. Behind me are round tables surrounded by many in lively yet hushed conversations, accompanied by the sounds of glass mugs “klinking” and “klunking” against wood tables. I ask my server about these people, and he confirms my hunch. One last sip of my beer summons up a bit of courage. I stand up, walk over to one of the tables, and I ask in passable German whether these tables are reserved for long-time regulars (“Stammtisch”).

A woman in her sixties kindly answers some have been coming for years, others over decades. We chat for a little and when she asks about me, I tell her about my first time in both Leipzig and the Keller. With a smile, she wishes me well, and that she hopes I find my way back to Leipzig sometime soon. “I’d like that very much” is my parting reply.

At the front door, I tell the night manager the evening has been an excellent experience: “leckeres Essen aber etwa zu salzig, bequem und gemütich, gute Stimmung.” (“good food though a little too salty, comfortable and cozy, great mood”). The night manager nods and smiles, and hopes I return to the Keller soon.

The Final Word

Back up the stairs, I stop by the statue to give the shiny brass shoe a rub for good luck. As I exit the building for the lively streets of the “Weihnachtsmarkt”, I feel a gust of wind at the back of my neck, a short whisper, but a quick turn reveals there’s no one behind me.

“Komm ma’ wieder zurück (come back again) …”

I’ve generally traveled alone over the last twenty years with pursuits reaching far-flung places under the guise of astronomical research and personal writing. Although a few reasons have changed and evolved naturally, I’ve come to terms with how and why I travel. Fact is, I’m “always” coming back home to Germany. And now, I’m already thinking about coming back to Leipzig, even if I have to make a pact and give up my soul in the process.

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

Auerbachs Keller, Maedler-Passage, Leipzig, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Wer nach Leipzig zur Messe gereist, ohne auf Auerbachs Hof zu gehen, der schweige still, denn das beweist: er hat Leipzig nicht gesehen.”

“Whoever goes to the trade fair in Leipzig without visiting Auerbach’s Cellar should remain silent, because this only proves they haven’t seen Leipzig at all.”

Auerbachs Keller is roughly in the middle of Leipzig’s Old Town, near Old City Hall, S-Bahn Markt station, and Augustusplatz. The place is divided into three main areas. On the ground floor is the coffee and cocktail bar, Mephisto Café. In the basement are the Great Cellar (Große Keller) and the Historical Wine Bar Restaurant (Historische Weinstuben). The latter consists of separate rooms: the Cask Cellar (Fasskeller), the Goethe Cellar (Goethe-Keller), the Luther Room (Lutherstübchen), and the Old Leipzig (Alt-Leipzig).

cmp.ly customI made the photos above on 2 December 2014 during my visit which was graciously hosted by Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH (LTM). My thanks to Auerbachs Keller for the provided food and drink, and to Jane Langforth and Steffi Gretschel at LTM for their help. This unpaid post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6tV.

My Heidelberg: Cafe Burkardt in the Old Town

With a population of about 150,000 people, Heidelberg, Germany is home to the oldest university in Germany (founded in 1386) where one in five residents are enrolled at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. Heidelberg is also the location of scenic castle ruins on the flank of a hill above the Neckar River, and is destination to over two million visitors annually.

I’m often “home” in Heidelberg to visit friends who are in the city to work for the university or one of the many institutes in town. An important component for any visit to Heidelberg is Untere Strasse in the Altstadt (Lower Street in the Old Town). The narrow cobblestone street includes cafes, pubs, and shops with a neighbourhood feel attracting not only university students for “pub crawls” but also city residents for their favourite hangout spots.

In casual and cozy surroundings, a bistro by the name of Café Burkardt provides an easy environment for coffee, some cake (the fresh on display as you walk through the front door), or a light meal. The café is also a Weinstube (wine bar) for a quiet chat over a glass of wine.

It’s noon on Tuesday, but there are only four other guests in the café. The wood furnishings, the ample window to the outside, and even the light fixtures make me feel completely at ease. My palate has swung from the sweet to the savory side over time. I glance down at the lunch specials this week: pulled pork burger yesterday, vegetarian lasagna with tomato sauce tomorrow, but today, the offering is currywurst with roast potatoes, and a side salad. Having spent time in Hamburg and Berlin, I’m a sucker for currywurst, and I give in to the temptation. My experience is both example and reminder of German “Gemütlichkeit”.

Cafe Burkardt, Heidelberger Altstadt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Cafe Burkardt, Heidelberg Altstadt (Old Town)

Interior and Gemütlichkeit, Cafe Burkardt, Heidelberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

Cozy “Gemütlichkeit”

Speisekarte (menu), latté, Cafe Burkardt, Heidelberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

Going over the Speisekarte (menu) with a bowl of latté

Tuesday lunch special, Cafe Burkardt, Heidelberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

Lunch special (Mittagsmenü): currywurst, roast potatoes, & side salad … with my bowl of latté

Address: Untere Strasse 27, in the Altstadt (Old Town).
Bus stop (Haltestelle): Alte Brücke, bus 35; Rathaus/Bergbahn, bus 33; Universitätsplatz, bus 31 or 32.

To someone new to the city, it’s not entirely obvious how one reaches Untere Strasse. Most will spend a majority of their time up and down the Hauptstrasse (Main Street). Untere Strasse is tucked between Universitätsplatz (University Square) to the west, the Neckar River to the north, Marktplatz (Market Square) to the east, and Hauptstrasse to the south.

I made the photos above on 25 November 2014. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-6fA. Access to public transport was kindly provided by the city tourism organization Heidelberg Marketing and the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH regional transport authority.

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