Posts from the ‘Food’ category

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. Access to public transport was kindly provided by the city tourism organization Heidelberg Marketing and the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH regional transport authority.

How to eat chicken-fried gator? Chomp it quickly

The fried gator is buttery soft, surrounded by a thin layer of crunchy batter.

This is a story about food: about longing, and the yearning for comfort. There are many words, but no photographs; you have been warned. May the words flow with you, and may hunger strike at your desire for more …

Comfort food, comfortable chomps

It all began innocently: a sudden rush, a deep craving for comfort food: southern-style fried chicken and waffles.

But “chicken and waffles”? Definitely.

Depending upon what I’m feeling, I crave all kinds of comfort food; for example:

•   A steaming bowl of wonton (wuntun) noodle soup, because that’s my childhood in Vancouver.
•   A peameal bacon sandwich from the St. Lawrence Market, after seven years in The Big Smoke (Toronto).
•   A “Juicy Lucy” burger with a side of tater tots, after a couple of years in the Minneapolis/St. Paul.
•   An “empanada de pino” (baked meat pie) and a bowl of “cazuela de mariscos” (seafood chowder), after five years in Chile.
•   Döner kebab and currywurst, because 14 consecutive years still aren’t enough in Germany.

But where am I going to find “chicken & waffles” in Vancouver?

I’m at a seminar about social-media by Rebecca Coleman, and she also writes a lot about food. I inform her of my quest, and her recommendation is swift, straight to Chewie’s.

They have two locations: one downtown by Coal Harbour, and the other in Kitsilano. Their online presence leads me to their brunch menu, helpfully listing “chicken and waffles.” But I’m chomping at the bit, when Rebecca mentions chicken-fried alligator, and Chewie’s has half-price happy-hour afternoons.


SOLD! Where do I sign up?

I soon realize this first visit to Chewie’s is going to be different: no camera, no photographs. Why?

I want the experience to be free of burdens: to photograph the setting; to photograph the food as it’s brought to the table; to find the “right light”; that I need a shot, any shot, a perfect shot.

I simply remove the idea from my mind, and I’m free.

But is an online post worth reading if there aren’t any photographs, especially if there’s food?

Some would say “no”, but that’s the challenge and opportunity, to see if the following description can hold readers to the end of this post.


Full with 2 Apps

It’s 330pm on a Thursday afternoon, and I see soon after entering their Coal Harbour location that the place is alive with sounds of activity from conversations and cooking. The restaurant is at about one-third capacity, which is fine because I won’t feel rushed dining on my own. Some well-dressed business folks have occupied a couple of tables by the far end, getting their weekend off to an early happy start.

In time for their half-price Happy Hour, my eyes go to their “First Bites” or appetizers. Recent experience has shown appetizers tend to be small, and I’ve already decided I want two. Instead of beer, it’s hot tea; there’s more writing afterwards.

Little time passes, and my two requests are brought to the table at the same time.

1. Pan Seared Calamari: B.C. Humboldt squid (not breaded) with smoked paprika aioli, and cucumber and onion jalapeño mint-vinaigrette salad.

Because it’s easier to hide the quality of the squid behind breading, I prefer calamari unbreaded. The mollusk is sliced strategically for guests; from a distance, the plate appears suspiciously like penne pasta in a creamy sauce. “Best seafood penne ever!” Closer examination shows there’s bite-sized squid in small tubes; no knife is necessary. Removed are the little tentacles so often disconcerting to some, but I find I miss the wae tentacles.

The squid “tubes” are cooked perfectly: undercooked and it’s too chewy, overcooked and the tubes hang limp on the fork. The smooth creamy spicy aioli complements the flavours of the pan sear and the deep sea. The accompanying cucumber and onion salad provides another counterpoint with fresh garden textures and the jalapeño vinaigrette pushes out a slightly sour edge balancing the oil used in the sear and the cream in the aioli. Eating a couple of tubes with the salad in the same forkful works very well.

2. Chicken-Fried Gator & Hush Puppies: buttermilk-soaked chicken-fried alligator, corn hush puppies, jalapeño jelly

I’m sure the first thing anyone thinks on first sight is: hey, chicken fingers and a fried carb! Come to think of it, “fingers & fries” are a comfort food, too.

Both gator strips and hush puppies appear golden, fried at the right temperature for the right amount of time; neither is burnt or undercooked. The first bite blows away the thought of “chicken fingers”. Marinated for hours in buttermilk, the strips of alligator meat is lightly breaded and fried. Tearing easily, the meat is not chewy; the soft gator meat is a nice contrast with the crispy exterior. As the batter is lightly seasoned, the jalapeño jelly dip for the gator adds another sweet-and-spicy layer to the flavours. Instead of the ubiquitous fries, that “fried carb” are tasty savory spheres of fried cornmeal batter. They have a touch of sweet, reminding me of Tim Hortons’ Timbits, but I can see from the open kitchen the hush puppies are made on order. The accompanying salad garnish composed of crispy bitter arugula leaves and thinly sliced sweet beet slivers provide additional balance to colour, flavour, and texture.

As appetizers go, each is sufficient as a starter to be shared among two or three people, and with two full-sized appetizers consumed, I am very content. The hot tea is a great choice, as the sharp bitter drink cuts through and helps to “wash down” the fatty food. That’s an important lesson after hundreds of dim sum/yum cha sessions.

I enjoyed both appetizers, but the clear favourite is the gator. If you must have images, you can bank on the Internet:

Chicken-fried gator :
Rebecca Coleman for VanCity Buzz | Eatiful | Gastrofork

Pan fried calamari :
Food and Wine with MyWinePal | Eat With Jenny | Jeremy Lin (in Flickr)


Inevitably, return for more

I’ll have to go back and try their crabcakes; it’s only fair to compare and contrast against the famous crabcakes I had in Baltimore. I have to go back for weekend brunch to dig into their chicken and waffles. And they have oysters: lots of `em. So that’s another visit yet …

I visited Chewie’s Coal Harbour on 6 November 2014, and I shelled out my own clams for all food and drink. After paying the bill, I informed the staff of my visit as an interested and hungry travel-writer. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions Disclosure: No Connection, Unpaid, My Own Opinions. I did not receive any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the restaurant or food mentioned herein (cmp.ly/0).

A “Main” taste of Istanbul in Frankfurt

“This is like being in Istanbul,” my friend says, in between bites of his sandwich.

Ömer, his fiancée, and I are sitting on the south bank of the river Main in Frankfurt, Germany. We’re soaking the late-summer sun. The grassy meadows are full of people: some in animated conversation; some surrounded by a big spread of food, beer, and wine; others kicking the soccer ball back and forth with their children.

There’s a whole lot of happiness here, but there’s a long line of people, waiting to purchase food and drink at the boat parked by the riverbank.

We just left that very same line after waiting for an hour. What we’re eating now made the wait worthwhile.

Over the ten-plus years I’ve known Ömer, he’s never been wrong about food in Germany.

Meral's Imbiss, Mainufer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, fotoeins.com

Meral’s Imbissboot

Meral's Imbiss, Mainufer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, fotoeins.com

Speisekarte | Food menu

Meral's Imbiss, Mainufer, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, fotoeins.com

Hamsi (Sardellen) fried-fish sandwich, “Ominade”

We each have a fried-fish sandwich: lightly fried fish in thin crispy batter, crunchy lettuce, slices of juicy tomato, stuffed in fresh soft Turkish bread. There’s a choice of Sardellen (anchovies), Makrelen (mackerel), or Doradenfilet (gilthead seabream). Ominade, freshly-squeezed lemonade according to Oma’s (Grandmother’s) recipe, is the right amount of sweet-tart, providing cool refreshment for our afternoon snack.

“The guy, the family who runs that boat, they’ve got this right, and I’ve gotta admit this feels like we’re on the Bosporus.”

High praise from Ömer: born in Istanbul, raised in Köln, and who’s gone back to know Istanbul very well in adulthood.

We’re silent over the next few minutes, chewing slowly and contemplating Istanbul. I’m realizing the obvious. If the food is any indication, I’m missing out; I’ve not yet visited Istanbul.

But right now, I’m eyeing that long line. I want another fried-fish sandwich and lemonade.


If you’re visiting Frankfurt am Main, make your way to the Main river to the boat called Meral’s Imbissboot (Meral’s Snack Boat). Naturally, they serve Döner, but their fried fish is too good not to try. Subject to weather conditions, the boat is open for service every day from noon to 11pm, between March and October.

Public transport: nearest U-Bahn station Willy-Brandt-Platz or Schweizer Platz.

I made the photos above on 3 October (German Reunification Day) 2011. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

My Heidelberg: first time sweetness at 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 a bus into the Altstadt (Old Town).

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 Kangaroo Pie, Dine Out Vancouver – 26 Jan 2014.

A photo posted by Henry Lee (@fotoeins) on

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).

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