Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Summer in the City II

Pars pro toto - oder vielleicht geht ja auch Fotos pro toto:

Second time at the theatre - this time for Elfriede Jelinek's Ulrike Maria Stuart (more about that some other time). Successfully coerced a very dear friend  to come with me - which was extrtemely nice of her.

Second time at Bahnhof Süd - this time with an ex-boyfriend who entertained me with his usual outrageous anecdotes. Again in the beer garden:

And second time at the Gebrandenhof, where I had a Carpaccio with white and green asparagus (extremely nice) and a very long chat with a friend from the AKS (my 6th form school), also extremely nice. First time round, I was there with a friend from my middle school. Needless to say - also very long conversations, also extremely nice.

Now I have to step on it, as I want to see my Mum for the second time, too, and tonight, I've got tickets for Leonce und Lena....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer Time, And The Living is Easy...

Kabale und Liebe (Love and Intrigue) by Friedrich Schiller at Essen Grillo Theater

Summer indeed and indeed easy. All I did today, was read, write cards, and do crosswords, all in the ambience of my brother's yellow living room (made brighter still by glorious sunshine). Were it not for the street noises, I could well believe I were on holiday. If I took the local train to the south, I'd certainly be convinced, because Essen has an artificial lake, which looks like this:

But I've only taken the S-Bahn into town so far because I'm a culture vulture, and Kabale und Liebe is sort of the German Romeo & Juliet, AND we did it in middle school, AND I'd never seen it on stage. 

Well, what can I say? I suppose, for the lovely thespians back home who had their last night of the Cherry  Orchard tonight - for the record: a glass of white wine was € 4.50, the programme was € 1 (!), and there was no charge at the cloakroom. I also noticed (take note, marketing) that they run a 'full house' campaign on certain days when all seats are considerably cheaper.

As for the play, it was significantly modernised, which I suppose worked well in places, but also took away in others. The set was a 50s/retro jazz joint - certainly on the main part of what was a revolving stage. There were also revolving doors, revolving hearts, and a revolver. Ironically, the lovers' eventual death was by poison. Other indicated sets  were a church, a palace, a ship, a shopping mall. The latter had mannequins, clothes, and in particular, a rather central red bra and knickers combination. I thought it looked like a devil's face - which was probably the intention. There were at least 2 references to Satan. Now, to some people (me included), capitalism/materialism is devil worship, so, in that sense, it's perfect. And the play is, after all, about the ruling classes being above established morals and the law, whereas the lower classes are pure and law abiding. 

I don't think my German teacher would have enjoyed it - far too much colloquial language cheapening Schiller's poetry (why does anyone think it's necessary???), annoying feedback noises, and the ubiqutous nod to the despotic rule of the musical!. -- For crying out loud! Schiller doesn't need jazz, or the blues, and most certainly no third class pop songs!

(How did Eurovision go, by the way?)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

These Foolish Things

As I had a very dear friend coming over last night, I thought it would be nice to welcome her with a cocktail - and I had just the thing: "Imbibe A Pop Of Spring Colour", an ad in the Guardian said, and the accompanying picture (above)  looked very tempting indeed.
But as nothing ever goes my way, and minor catastrophes and disasters will be thrown onto the path of  good intentions - my supermarket's strawberries had been reduced in price, hence sold out; I couldn't find where on earth (or rather: where in this obsessive-compulsive hoarding house) I had hidden the cocktail glasses; and upon plan B ('find 3 matching, suitable glasses'), I smashed one in the process of cleaning the dust off.  I also discovered that the bottle of Freixenet Rosada I had deemed to be in the cellar, must have been imbibed on an  earlier some such occasion. So, while I will record the recipe, as created by Shaken and Stirred (Oxford) for Freixenet, that is not what we actually had last night...

I had to use raspberries instead of strawberries, and a bottle of pink sparkling perry, instead of the real thing, and then my friend declared alcohol  a no-no, because she was driving...

Mind you, her raspberry puree with apple, raspberry and cranberry juice looked the better cocktail, as I served hers in a (single, lonely) Margarita glass!

But without further ado, here's the recipe, which is probably even better than the one we had, and that was GREAT!

Freixenet These Foolish Things

2 fresh strawberries chopped or 25ml strawberry puree
15 ml maple syrup
25 ml golden rum
2 squeezes fresh lime
Topped with Freixenet Cordon Rosado


Combine the strawberry and maple syrup
Add golden rum and lime
Shake over ice and strain
Top up with Freixenet Rosado
Garnish Strawberry fan

Glass: Martini

I found the photo on Madhousefamilyreviews, where Cheryl reviewed several spring time recipes using Freixenet.

And if you want to learn more about Freixenet, you can here and here - on spittoon, a blog by AndrewBarrow who actually knows about wine!

According to my cut-out from the Guardian, Freixenet are sponsoring this year's Hay Festival (of Literature and the Arts), so I'll add that link, too. - Just in case... (Every year, I intend to go, and then LIFE happens, as usual...)  

PS: In case anyone is wondering how the diet is going -- not so well, as I can't keep away from the alcohol! But the men are very keen on Gino's recipes - apart from one, they've all been a great success. More about that some other time. Have to get myself organised, The Cherry Orchard starts on Friday, so I'm doing Box Office tonight, and at the weekend, I'll attend the Little Theatre Guild's annual conference. After that, I'm off to the Fatherland, where - austerity measures or not - dieting and/or staying away from the alcohol is usually quite impossible.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I need a bit of rough!

Well, actually, that should read: ruff. But how else does one get traffic to the site? (Hmm, even 'traffic', when translated into German, can have sexual undertones, if one is so inclined..., but I digress...).
On the last day of April, a Pagan festival known as Walpurgisnacht, is still traditionally celebrated all over Germany, as Tanz in den Mai, and with the month of May comes Maibowle. May Wine or May Punch contains a magic ingredient, a herb called woodruff or to give it its German name: Waldmeister - Master of the Woods.  
I  have woodruff flavoured jelly powder and even woodruff flavoured syrup, but the traditional mix for Maibowle would be 2 litres of dry white wine to 1 litre of sparkling wine (or mineral water), with the bunch of previously dried or frozen Waldmeister suspended into the liquid so that the  stems don't touch the wine. On Wikipedia, under the heading May Wine, it is said that the plant is slightly poisonous, so caution is advised - no more than 5 plants per litre of punch. Which is all very well, if only I had ANY, but alas woodruff doesn't seem to be native to Britain.
So I checked out the German recipes online, to find out whether anyone has tried using the syrup. And lo and behold, they have! What can I tell you? I saw the most curious recipes.

750 ml lemonade (woodruff flavour)
1 bottle of sparkling wine
1 bottle of white wine
1/2 bottle of Schnaps (wheat)

3 l of white wine
1/2 l of red wine
125 g honey

white wine
sparkling wine

lemon balm
2 slices of lemon

1 bottle of sparkling wine
250ml of vodka
800ml mineral water
200ml woodruff syrup
600 g stawberries

And another one, admittedly called East Prussian May Punch, does not contain any woodruff, but red wine, sparkling wine, dark beer and arrak! Which reminded me of the Altbierbowle which was popular in Germany in the early 80s. Now that I've brought my parents' big punch bowl upstairs from the cellar, I think I'll do that for the next book party at my house... But I'm digressing again.

I ended up with a mixture of the above: 200 ml of the syrup, topped up to 800ml with mineral water, 1 bottle of white wine, 1 bottle of cava, a few strawberries, 2 slices of lemon, some mint, and then I made the fatal mistake of adding a bit of rum. I don't think it needs any spirit - but if one feels there should be some, then it is definitely advisable to use a clear one with little own flavour!

It certainly does work with the syrup - in fact, just the syrup and wine and mineral water would make it very similar to the one you can buy ready made in bottles, in Germany that is. So, no good at all here, and I haven't seen any syrup here either. Sometimes Lidl sell the jelly powder, and I must give it a go - I'll report back.

Ideally, I'd grow my own woodruff. I know that some people have done it, and use it in interesting recipes, such as woodruff flavoured panna cotta with a strawberry jus. Sounds and looks divine.

Apparently, strawberries marinated in woodruff until they turn into clear red juice make a  fantastic dessert soup - probably a strange concept on this green little island. Kaltschale is not that unusual as a pudding in Germany, nor would it be in Scandinavia or Holland, I daresay. I can't talk for the French, but I do know that they call  woodruff "aspérule odorante" or "reine des bois",  Queen of the Wood. Whereas the Dutch refer to the haybed of Maria: 'Onze Lieve Vrouwe Bedstro'.(I do not recall where I found these bits of information...sorry).