German Christmas Markets..

Hey there!

Since it's almost Christmas, I thought I'd share a few photos from a recent visit to Cologne where I checked out the Christmas Market.

For anyone who has never been to a proper German Christmas market, I'll try to describe one.

A typical Christmas market is made up of various booths that either sell little Christmas presents or festive decoration, offer great typical German/Swiss/Austrian food or they are one of the most frequently visited, a "Glühwein" booth.

But what is "Glühwein"?
Basically Glühwein is a form of red wine that is heated up "glühen" (engl. to glow, to burn).
It is drunk by thousands and thousands of people each year. I wonder what Christmas markets would be like, if there wasn't any Glühwein around.
I guess someone would come up with a different alcoholic beverage...

Quite oddly the cups tend to shrink a tiny bit and somehow at the same time the price tends to increase every year. (Who would have thought?!)
Only this year I had my first ever Glühwein, but I must say that I just enjoy the "Kinderpunsch" a lot more. Kinderpunsch is non-alcoholic and tastes a bit like a mixture between warm apple juice and grape juice improved with several Christmas spices. Highly recommended!

However you can also try many of the various food options that are offered at each market. For example I can't look around the Christmas market of Cologne without having a "Germknödel".
The online dictionary PONS says a Germknödel is a "yeast dumpling filled with plum jam and poppy seeds sprinkled on top" - and I promise you it is delicious.
It does not look very attractive, but oh the taste.. everyone should try this at least once in their life.

Whilst being on a christmas market, you should also try edible chestnuts. These are probably more familiar to others, as they are often used for turkey stuffing.
Chestnuts have to be roasted for at least half an hour until their skin starts to crack. You then have to take off the shell and enjoy. They can also be easily made at home. Just use your oven instead and let them heat up for 30 minutes at 200° Celsius.

Last but not least Christmas markets offer various and numerous kinds of decoration or souvenirs. When I was little my Mama bought wooden breakfast boards at a Christmas market for my sister and me with animals and our names engraved on it. Another souvenir I really like are candles that smell like honey.

Many things you can find there are mostly handmade and authentic.

Whenever I visit one of these markets I'm instantly put in a Christmassy mood.

Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope you can spend this time of the year with all your loved ones in a place where you feel at home.

Greetings from Steph

The French dinner..

Hey there!

A new month has been running for a while now, so the time had come that we would organize a new global dinner within our modest student lifestyle. Each month we are treating ourselves to an amazing (at least we believe it is) dinner including a starter, main course and a dessert in the end.
This month we devoted ourselves to our beautiful neighbouring country France for a day (the wish was not particularly related to the recent occurences in France's capital).

Second stop: La France

The French cuisine is multi-faceted; we stumbled across recipes for Bouillabaisse (fish soup), escargots (snails, slightly hard to find at a traditional German food market..), the all-beloved but simple Croque Monsieur/Madame (a delicious sandwich, found frequently in the authentic bistros everywhere around France) and so many more interesting ideas.

This is what we finally decided on cooking for our French dinner:

The courses

Starter - Carrot, apple and spring onion salad with goat cheese
Main - Chicken in white wine sauce
Dessert - French Clafoutis

What could we do with all this?

After I had taken these photographs, a huge marathon of chopping veggies began.
In addition to this we had to separate our freshly bought organic chicken (from a farmer's market, of course), which turned out to be easier than it had seemed at the start. I recommend watching Jamie Oliver's video on how to cut a chicken properly.
We kicked off the preparation of our menu by roasting the chicken in a pan as well as setting up our wine with the shallots and the garlic to make the base for our white wine sauce.

Whilst the sauce was cooking my partner in crime grated a few carrots and apples and a small piece of goat cheese for our French salad (thank you to my dear friend Ka for giving us advice on what to make for our first course). Finally we added spring onions, lemon juice and some olive oil - and that was it!

Of course when preparing a French dinner, baguette should never be excluded...

As the sauce had reached its final stage, we added the chicken and let it simmer for half an hour so the chicken would become tender - time is key when it comes to many kinds of meat!

For our dessert we made a Clafoutis, which I had mentioned on my blog once already. If you like you can check out the recipe here.
However we changed it up a bit (actually made it more traditional than in my older post) and used cherries instead of raspberries.

In the end we were very proud on what we had cooked with the precious ingredients and we loved every bite of our French dinner!

Maybe we should stop here again while we are keeping up the tour..

The Italian dinner..

Hey there!

Just in time for my first semester of university my boyfriend Eike and I have thought of a project to celebrate our food affinity with. Because we'll now be spending a lot of time in libraries, actual travelling has become a little more complicated. That's why we came up with the idea of a culinary journey around the world as we were travelling around Australia.
Each month we will pick a nation and one of its typical meals (including starter, main and dessert). Together we'll try our best to prepare the meals as traditionally as possible and I will post updates on my blog about each nation/meal.

First stop: Bella Italia

This is what we chose for our Italian dinner:

The courses

Starter - Insalata Caprese
Main - Homemade Pizza
Dessert - Panna cotta with stewed berries

Unfortunately we forgot to buy basil, which would have taken the meal to another level..

For our pizza dough we used a recipe of Jamie Oliver (flour, water, baking powder), which worked out very nicely. According to Mr. Oliver the pizza should be slightly roasted in a pan for a few minutes so it becomes crispier, however we just put it in the oven straightaway, since we don't have an oven-proof pan.. Oh well, it still tasted amazing!

We prepared the panna cotta the night before, so it had enough time in the fridge to solidify. It came out of the moulds nicely, i hadn't thought, it would be that easy. Why would someone buy the finished product with a heap of conservatives, if it is this easy to make it yourself?!
We made some berry sauce to go with it and added a bit of honey for sweetening everything up!

So far so good, the tour has already proven to be a great decision.

10 Things to do in Sydney..

Hey there!

- Australia -

Part 9: Sydney

During my stay in Australia (I have returned back home now) I flew south to pay a visit to beautiful Sydney. Sydney is a vibrant, beautiful and multicultural city located in the state of New South Wales. There is a lot to do and a lot to see, so I tried to pick the best and share my personal favourite list of Sydney. Of course this doesn't come from an insider's point of view, leaving amazing places out, which I haven't come around to see while I was there. If you can, I recommend getting around Sydney by foot to take in the metropolitan atmosphere better.

1st start your day with pancakes at Pancakes on the Rocks (4 Hickson Rd, The Rocks); they're delicious and don't use all of your travel money up

2nd walk around the Rocks and learn about the origin of Sydney

3rd play a game of chess at Darling Harbour

4th visit The Strand Arcade, one of the oldest shopping centres in Australia (1891) and only remaining arcade representing Victorian Sydney; you will feel taken aback a hundred years whilst wandering around in the architecturally inspiring building

5th spend more time at Coogee Beach and less at Bondi Beach; it's less crowded, more beautiful and less touched; go hiking along the coast to find your personal favourite beach

6th hop on a ferry to Manly Beach and compare the Nothern Beaches to the Southern ones

7th relax and have a picknick at the Hyde Park or at the Botanic Garden of Sydney after a long walk around the city's CBD

8th visit the Opera House and the "Coathanger" (synonym for the Harbour Bridge) preferably around sunset time to see it both at day and night

9th have dinner in the multicultural and hip district Surry Hills; I can recommend Mexican Burrito Cantina (612 Crown Street, Surry Hills) for a good old bowl of Nachos and Churros for dessert

10th book a day tour to the Blue Mountains and go hiking to see the beautiful forest and astonishing waterfalls

I hope this list gives you a few ideas for your next trip to Sydney. Backpackers and budget travellers, most of these activities are free of charge or only cost a few dollars, so ensure you make the most of your Sydney experience. You'll need a good pair of shoes and a lot of energy and motivation and a well packed lunch to not give in to the touristic traps!


Brisbane's best organic café..

Hey there!

- Australia -

Part 8: Planted - Brisbane's best organic café

I have been to Planted Wholefoods Co. twice now and loved it. The café (serving out of an old caravan) which is solely devoted to preparing and selling organic and ethically as well as locally produced food and drinks can be found in Brisbane's West End near the great Boundary Street Markets. The café donates a meal and a drink depending on the vendored product and helps out overseas communities in need with a vegetable kit to become more self-sufficient in the future.

As if this wasn't enough already, Planted offers amazing and also very healthy food. I had a vegetarian wrap the first time I was there and a mouthwatering beef burger the second time. If they are sold out, then they are sold out. There is no endless food delivery letting infinite food go to waste.

Planted's idea of dealing with food is very inspiring and should definitely be taken up by many more restaurants or cafés. Find out more here.

You can visit the Planted café 7 days a week. Be aware though that they only serve food from 7am till 2.30pm and coffee is served from 6.30am till 3pm.
So get up early and have a taste of their great breakfast or their freshly made coffee.

Find Planted at:

93 Boundary Street
West End
QLD 4101

Greetings from Steph

Tucked away in the bush..

Hey there!

- Australia -

Part 7: Montville, Sunshine Coast

The beautiful small town Montville is situated on the Blackall Range overlooking the Sunshine Coast. Driving up there is fascinating, since you pass all sorts of landscapes. First of all you start off at the beach, continuing to flat land and then gradually entering the rainforest (which makes you think that the nearest city must still be miles away) and then eventually reaching Montville by surprise.

The church in the photo sits directly at a nice lookout making magical weddings or other services possible. You can actually see all the way through the windows to the scenic lookout.

Montville has got a lot of shops, galleries and an amazing café to offer. As we visited Montville we had a delicious breakfast at the Poets Café and strolled along the Main Street to look at the shops.

It's easiest to reach the beautiful and almost untouched hinterland of the Sunshine Coast with a car. Since the towns are all close by, a roadtrip is definitely recommendable. If you ever plan a trip there, make sure to check out Maleny and maybe go for a walk around the Mapleton Falls National Park to take a look at the waterfall there (pack stuff for a picknick as well to enjoy in the rainforest).

Next up: Brisbane's West End

Greetings from Steph

The Cardamom Pod..

Hey there!

- Australia -

Part 6: The Cardamom Pod

In this post I will point out an amazing restaurant which is located in Broadbeach, Gold Coast.
"The Cardamom Pod" only serves vegetarian or vegan dishes and focuses on using mainly organic and local products. Choosing a dish there is tough, since everything looks incredibly delicious. Their assortment ranges from fresh salads over to juices, hot meals and exquisite vegan cakes. If I successfully caught your attention, you can have a look at the menu here.

I especially liked the Kofta balls (deep-fried chickpea puree), the buttery Jasmine rice and the Tofu Salad. For dessert I would definitely recommend a slice of the delicious chocolate cheese cake; also don't miss out on one of the freshly made juices.

So if you're ever around the Gold Coast, make sure to pay a visit.

Shop 1 / 2685 Gold Coast highway 
QLD 4218

Next up: Tucked away in the bush

Greetings from Steph