2012 – A Traveler’s Review

2012 – A Traveler’s Review

Hey everyone, I hope your holidays have been very merry! I just wanted to take some time at the end of the year to recap all of the craziness that was 2012. And really guys, it was crazy, I promise.

Without further ado…

January

The start of the year found me living in Chicago and tackling my last semester of college along with two internships, a part-time job as a cater-waiter and a growing social calendar. (more…)

Saturday Snapshot 12

Saturday Snapshot 12

Hey everyone, happy Saturday! This Saturday Snapshot is actually on time, can you believe it?

So this week I endured a travel blogger’s most-feared nightmare; my computer crashed and the hard drive has been wiped clean. So my upcoming editorial calendar has been ravaged because I lost all the photos I had taken for them. While I had backed up a lot of my photos, almost all the pictures I’ve taken in France so far are gone, as well as almost all of my documents. (more…)

Eating, Drinking and Being Merry at Cologne’s Happiest Christmas Market

Eating, Drinking and Being Merry at Cologne’s Happiest Christmas Market

One of the highlights of my Germany trip was a visit to Cologne’s oldest Christmas market, Markt Der Engel. And though we visited five different Christmas markets during our stay in Cologne, I have to say this one was my favorite by far.

Everything about the ambiance was simply magical, from the stars twinkling in the trees to the bundled up children riding the carousel. Friends talked and laughed loudly over steaming mugs of Glühweinand it seemed like everyone had just gotten off of work. And most importantly, there were plenty of yummy thinks to eat and drink.

Christmas Market Cologne

Christmas Market Cologne

German Christmas Market

Christmas Market Cologne

The first order of business was to try Currywurst, which is essentially pork sausage drenched in curry ketchup. When I told Christian I had never tried it before, I think he almost fell over. And considering an estimated 800 million servings are sold in Germany each year (according to my good friend Wikipedia), I can see why.

The sausage could be ordered with mild, hot and really hot curry sauce. I went for hot. How hot could it be in Germany? I thought to myself. My country borders Mexico.

Currywurst

Well, I really ate my words on this one. It was so hot that I ended up consuming an alarming quantity of snow (much to my companions’ delight) to cool my scorched tongue.

Once I stopped hopping in pain, we took a few laps around the market. Something I noticed about the market was that it was truly a family affair, with lots of kiddies enjoying the festivities as well.

German Christmas Market

Christmas Market Cologne

Christmas Market Cologne

Christmas Market Cologne

I was overwhelmed by the market’s ample food choices, and unfortunately didn’t get to try everything. I think you would need the entire month of December to taste all the waffles, candies, sausages, and other goodies we saw.

German Christmas Market

German Christmas Market

German Christmas Market

While the boys drank (or rather, chugged) some of Cologne’s finest Kölsch, Marina and I stuck to piping hot Glühwein as we were rapidly losing sensation in our outer extremities.

Christmas Market Cologne

German Christmas Market

Everyone was talking loudly, drinking Glühwein out of mugs and hanging out with friends. The best word I can describe it with is, “merry.”

Christmas Market Cologne

IMG_1714

German Christmas Market

Our final food selection of the evening was also probably the best; Kartoffelpuffer, or fried potato cakes, served with molasses and apple sauce. Having grown up in a largely Jewish town, I screamed out, “LATKES!” and beelined for the stand.

Christmas Market Cologne

And if you can’t find it in your heart to enjoy something so crunchy and golden, you are probably the Grinch.

Have you ever been to a German Christmas market? Do you like the looks of this one?

If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it on Facebook or Twitter! As always, I also love hearing what you have to say through the comments below. 

First Impressions of Germany

First Impressions of Germany

So on our first morning in Germany, we were delighted to wake up and find everything covered in snow.

Christian, our Couchsurfing host, and his friend Kevin trekked like gentlemen in the fresh powder to fetch us some Brötchen. We draped the yummy rolls with nutty slices of black forest ham and squirted mustard on them from what seemed like a toothpaste tube.

German bread

Cologne

My friend Marina, who hails from the balmy Mediterranean of Crete, was especially excited about the snow. And as a born-and-raised Michigander, I felt it was my duty to teach her how to make her first snowball, or as they say in German, schneeball.

Cologne, Germany

I loved strolling Christian’s neighborhood of Nippes (Admittedly, the name made me giggle. It’s pronounced exactly like “nipples” without the “l.”) It was residential without being staid, and the buildings were very colorful.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Marina had her next lesson in snowy climate fun when we stumbled upon a real-live, street-wide snowball fight. I asked Christian how to say “snowball fight” in German while dodging schneeballs left and right. (It’s Schneeballschlacht, fyi. Doesn’t that sound a little scary?)

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We spent the next three hours at the NS-Dokumentationszentrum, Cologne’s World War II History museum that is located in a former Nazi interrogation prison.

The experience was moving, informative and emotionally draining. By the end of it I was begging everyone to leave because I desperately needed an alcoholic beverage of any kind.

NS-Dokumentationszentrum

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We sought nourishment (and warmth) at a cute bakery. I thought it looked like the perfect place to rest my weary, frostbitten feet, but I was rushed along to a nearby Christmas market with a Brötchen in hand.

Cologne, Germany

Cologne, Germany

We then headed to Cologne’s Angel Market, which turned out to be my favorite Christmas market in Cologne. I loved the twinkling star-lights above all of the buildings.

Cologne, Germany

We finished off the day with some Glühwein, which is essentially hot wine stewed with spices like star anise and cinnamon.

Cologne, Germany

And as I learned in Germany, Glühwein and good company are kind of necessary after a long, cold and snowy day.

If you enjoyed this post please consider sharing it! As always, I also love hearing what you have to say through the comments below. 

Things that Surprised Me about Germany

Things that Surprised Me about Germany

As the train moved into Germany, my view out the window quickly began to change; snow appeared on the ground, the rolling fields of France rose into hills and the earth became covered with tall pine and birch forests. And once I got off the train, I noticed the people were taller, and the bread was darker and earthier.

And while a lot about Germany didn’t surprise me, like the crazy-good beer and tall, handsome men in their business suits, a lot did. (more…)

Saturday Snapshot 10

Saturday Snapshot 10

This Saturday Snapshot is already a fail because today is CLEARLY not Saturday. But in my defense, my memory card mysteriously lost all of its photos so I had to wait for my friend to Dropbox me what he had. So be nice, I’m a mess over here.

This week (or rather, last week) found me in Cologne for four days having the time of my life. To sum up the weekend it went like this:

German beer + friends + snow + house music + clubbing ’til 6 am + potato latkes = a Teutonic, 22-year old version of heaven. (more…)

A Miracle Thanksgiving in France

A Miracle Thanksgiving in France

Excuse my French, but throwing a Thanksgiving in France was a complete shitshow.

For starters, I cook in a tiny kitchen with one oven, no microwave, no freezer and a stove you have to light with a match. On top of that I foolishly gave myself less than TWO HOURS to cook everything.

And you know what? It was one of the most delicious Thanksgivings I’ve ever had.

Stuffing

Let me start out by saying that I have shamefully never lifted a finger at Thanksgiving so I had no how to make any of these recipes. Thankfully, my friend and fellow American expat in Paris, Edna from Expat Edna, came over and helped me cook.

Thanksgiving

When I told Catherine and Olivier, the French couple I work for, that I wanted to cook Thanksgiving dinner, portion size and wine pairings came up very quickly.

“Which wine do you traditionally drink at Thanksgiving?” asked Olivier.

“Um… um… there isn’t really a traditional wine, I guess.”

“Well, red or white?”

I don’t know, what goes with turkey?”

“Well it depends on the sauce.”

This took me a while to figure out. What sauce is there for the turkey? Oh yes, gravy, duh. In the end we decided to go with red wine. Because gravy’s like, thick, right?

Thanksgiving

Then I had to fight with Catherine about the amount of meat we were going to serve a party of six; I originally suggested that we roast an entire turkey, an idea which was quickly vetoed. Catherine suggested we cook one turkey leg, but I implored her to let me cook at least two. The idea of six people sharing one turkey leg is just plain un-American.

I planned out a simple menu: roast turkey legs, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, gravy and cranberry sauce.

When it came time to eat, a baguette was laid on the table to mop up the sauce, as always. (Cranberry sauce and gravy were not laid on the table because there are no fresh cranberries in France apparently and I ran out of energy to make gravy.)

Then the moment of truth came; was the food good? Had Edna and I succeeded in making a good Thanksgiving?

And the answer was yes. It was very good. Ahem. This may have something to do with the fact that I used an entire block of salted French butter.

And even though the potatoes were a little lumpy, Catherine raved, “I really love this meal! Could you make it for us every Sunday?”

Thanksgiving

THANK GOD for Edna. Not only did she drip the turkey juice all over the stuffing (genius), she was a huge help to me in the kitchen and great company  as I frantically ran around like a Top Chef contestant.

And as she said at the end of the fiasco, “Thanksgiving is not a one-man show.”

No, no it is not.

So as for the moral of this Thanksgiving story? Give yourself time to prepare Thanskgiving dinner. Be flexible when you can’t find American ingredients. And when you mess something up, claim that it’s part of the tradition.

Have you ever cooked a Thanksgiving abroad?

To see the recipes I very loosely used: turkey legs, stuffing and mashed potatoes. God bless Ina Garten and food bloggers.