I’ve just about recovered from my train journey back from London on Tuesday: let’s just say that the German train network wasn’t exactly on form that day. Or we could say that it was on form entirely consistent with the train trip to London 12 days earlier, an adventure involving a very long but very pleasant local bus ride through the beautiful rolling hills of eastern Belgium and the making of several new friends along the way.
July in south-central Germany: the sun is hot and high in the sky and seasonal eating is all about fruit. In the orchards, plump stone fruits hang heavily from the trees; at the farmers’ markets, stands are laden with fat, oozing plums and apricots and the berries are so ripe and plentiful that you can buy them on the cheap for making jam. Twice a week in July I return home from the marketplace weighed down by bags of sweet, juicy locally-grown fruit: if you’re enjoying the summer crops of berries and stone fruits as much as I am, then here are a few ideas with what to do with them all…
Greetings from London, where I’m congregating with family members visiting from all over the world and making the most of being treated to some of my favourite home-cooked food (perfectly roasted leg of lamb with perfectly roasted potatoes, check). I’m totally overexcited about Germany having beaten Argentina to win the World Cup last night but gutted not to have been there to feel the earth move beneath a nation of ecstatic football-supporting feet as Germany scored their winning goal. My husband’s morning-after report of the celebratory proceedings detailed beer-drinking and street-partying aplenty, and I’m sad to have missed out on such a momentous occasion.
If you’re not a fan of football, you can probably get away with ignoring it most of the time. However, the month of Brazil-based football madness that’s currently in progress is probably very hard to avoid. Here in Wiesbaden, there’s a tangible buzz of excitement in the air about the 2014 World Cup (except in this flat, following England’s confirmed early departure) and merry bands of drunken football fans in town, flags painted on their sweaty cheeks and draped proudly over their shoulders. The black, red and gold of the German team flutter on balconies, car bonnets and bicycles; even the ladies in the Karstadt food hall were wearing Germany’s full team kit before the first German game last Monday.
There are a lot of late matches because of the time difference between Brazil and Germany, so if you’re watching the games at home here, you’re going to need some cold drinks and simple snacks to sustain you. There are all sorts of patriotic nibbles available to buy, from chocolates to pasta (see photograph above), but if you’re not wearing black, red and gold this June, you can still take the lead from the Germans on the football refreshments front. Here are 5 classic German drinks and snacks to keep you going through the long nights ahead.
I must admit, I’m feeling a little frazzled. Not in a bad way – I really have nothing to complain about at all – but not only did I get out of bed in the middle of last night to watch England’s opening World Cup game against Italy (the time difference from Brazil leaving a little to be desired), but this was also the week that my son woke up one morning having magically developed the ability to crawl anywhere he pleases, at very high speed. So, I’ve had very little time to myself the last few days: it’s incredibly tricky to achieve anything with a tiny giggling thing clambering all over you, as joyful as that is. Thankfully, the Mini Dietz is still very portable, so I’ve also had a couple of lovely days out with him strapped to my chest.
June is, for me, all about strawberries: strawberries on my cereal, strawberries with an afternoon ice cream, strawberries in a vast paper cone picked up on my way home. The strawberry season is peaking and they’re everywhere I look: at the farmers’ markets, in the shops, at stalls dotted on street corners and all around the town. With 500g punnets available for 2,00€ a go – or less - you’d be mad not to make the most of them. But there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables in season at the moment that shouldn’t be missed, so without further ado, here’s what to eat in June!
In this first week of June, when the blue skies have been almost dazzling and the temperatures have soared to the mid-thirties, I’ve spent lots of time outside enjoying the sunshine and lots of time inside, trying desperately to cool down again. I’m not very good with the heat – well, not when there’s no sea to hop into – but I can’t complain about having the opportunity to sit in the sunshine and enjoy cold drinks with friends.
I bang on a lot about fresh, seasonal vegetables and local, organic meat, but we all know that this isn’t the food that Germany’s famous for. Those dishes mostly comprises pork and pickled cabbage, and though we’re all familiar with Schnitzel and Sauerkraut, there are plenty of other, more unappealing-looking dishes that many of us would rather not familiarise ourselves with. Surprisingly enough, however, some of these lesser known German specialities actually taste rather good, despite their somewhat challenging aesthetics. Less surprisingly, some of them don’t. Look away now if you’re of a sensitive disposition…
I’ve noticed, during my time here in Wiesbaden, that the second a new style of café opens its doors to the coffee-craving masses, a string of replicas follow suit. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course: a bit of competition never hurt anyone, and where I’ve seen bubble tea joints pop up and collapse again in six months or less (and I still have no idea what bubble tea is), I’ve also seen a series of French-style cafés emerge - Bastian’s, L’Art Sucré and Maison du Pain to name but three – that have become successful additions to Wiesbaden’s popular coffee and cake scene.
With Du & Ich opening in the centre of town a matter of months after the appearance of café and co-working space Heimathafen (located near the train station), one might be forgiven for suggesting that a wave of Berlin-inspired eateries might be on the horizon. I suspect that in Wiesbaden, however, that may be jumping the gun, but in terms of more stylish, contemporary places to grab a bite or a hot drink in this town if you’re under 85 - or at least feel that way – things are finally looking up.
I spent the first part of last week on the remainder of my trip to the UK, dining on delicious home-cooked food, visiting friends and spending a classic British bank holiday weekend getting soaked through walking along a Welsh canal and standing round a barbecue under an umbrella, desperately trying to keep some sausages dry. It was all absolutely blissful, and come Tuesday, part of me was really quite sad to leave. It didn’t help of course that thanks to a Eurostar delay and subsequent missed connection, we ended up spending 13 hours on and off trains back to Wiesbaden; all I can say is praise be for the ICE on-board bistro and their mini bottles of wine. Continue reading