Thursday, July 16, 2015

Europe: A Carousel of Flavors Part 1

I recently spent 15 days (plus 2 for travel there and back) in Europe visiting 7 different countries. I enjoyed the scenery, culture, but most of all the food!  Every place I went I tried to find the "local" dish or have a specialty of that region.  I will share with you some of the photos I took along with any information I could gather about what I was eating. I am working on recipes as well of some of the foods.

 I hope you enjoy my trip through Europe! 

This is a view from near Heidelberg Square in Germany looking onto the hillside across the river.

Europe:  A Carousel of Flavors Part 1

Our first stop after many hours of being up and being thrown 7 hours forward in our time zones was Amsterdam. 

For lunch, my fellow travelers and I found a little cafe to sit down at.  I was on the look out for something local and after we sat down figured out the menu was just some basic sandwiches.  At this point I was tired and didn't care that it wasn't "Dutch."  I ordered an Italian Caprese sandwich.  The waiter served it with ketchup and mayo packets. I asked him if he gave them to me because I am American. He said no, sometimes they eat ketchup on their grilled cheese. We had a good talk about American and Dutch foods. 
For dessert I had a Liege Waffle.  I wanted an over the top one but then decided simplicity would be best.
I chose to have a warm one sprinkled with powdered sugar and just a drizzle of chocolate.  I am glad I didn't indulge in the other it would have been too much sweet.  It's a denser waffle than my Buttermilk Waffles and tears more like bread.  It has pearl sugar in it so there are pockets of sweet and some crunchy.  It is also made with yeast.  A delight and I am glad I tried one.

My waiter told us where to find fresh stroopwafels. I did pick up a tin of them but it was too warm that day to indulge in a fresh one and I did not get my camera out at the market.

This sweet snack is a round, flat waffle cookie sliced in half and slathered with a sticky syrup filling and then put back together. Stroopwafels are meant to be eaten with coffee or tea. They put the round disc on top of the mug and let the heat soften it. If you can't wait that long, stroopwafels are great from straight from the package, too. I used mine to make a "Stroop S'more" over the 4th of July holiday. So tasty but you can definitely eat only one this way!  

Our first supper in Europe was at a restaurant called "Haesje Claes."  We were served Hutspot met worst en jus - (Hotchpotch with wurst and gravy.)  When I looked it up was similar to the word hodgepodge for us English speaking folk.  It means mixture and that is what these vegetables are.  A mixture of carrots, onions and potatoes all mashed together.  It reminded me of my Crock Pot Pot Roast veggies if I mixed those together.  The pearl onions and cucumber on the side were pickled. I tried a bit of each of those but the flavor was too much for me. 
For dessert we had a simple slice of vanilla ice cream, strawberry sauce, whipped cream and a small (ginger?) cookie for crunch.

Day 2 

Breakfast at our our first hotel was huge.  We were told to expect "continental" and for us in the U.S.  that means donuts, juice and cereal, sometimes yogurt.  This spread had several baskets of bread and Miller Loaf which is a rye bread with a crusty outside and moist inside.  I could have eaten the whole loaf.
I took a dab of the cherry jam.
Prosciutto, ham and a variety of other meats and cheeses to chose from.
Chewy bacon, Aebleskivers aka Dutch pancakes and hard boiled eggs.  I thought the pancakes were already dipped in syrup so I ate them as is. Turns out the glisten was butter and they had syrup to go with them and there may have been some powdered sugar too, I don't recall. Someone on our trip saw in a store a special pan they use to make them. I may have to find one of those pans!
Tomatoes for breakfast sounded odd but it was topped with cheese so I was game.  They were a little on the unripe side so if I tried it again they'd have to be garden fresh ones.
There were also scrambled eggs, several types of juices and coffee drinks.  I had a dab of this and that and then went back for more bread.  I could have eaten the whole loaf!

Beautiful canals and houseboats in Amsterdam!

We were set loose for lunch on our own. A couple of us ventured to a local grocery store and looked around a bit. I found it interesting that their eggs are not in the refrigerated section and are in 10 packs (not a dozen like the U.S..) They also had 4 packs and 20 packs.
I was also intrigued by their vegetables.  They were canned in glass jars not in cans.  So pretty to see all the colors on the shelves.
We passed a bread counter and a refrigerated section with deli delights.  After making a few wild guesses and asking a local what a couple items were we settled on Olijven met cabanossi en machego (translates to olives, mini salami and cheese,) Coppa di Parma roomkass and vijg (like prosciutto stuffed with cream cheese and fig,) some rolls and mixed nuts.  The olives and cheese turned out to have some red peppers in it and were too spicy to finish. I ate some of my Coppa di Parma plain and some I shoved into my bread and ate like a sandwich.

Our first disappointing meal of the trip came this evening at the restaurant "Fonk." I knew they might simplify the meals to be sure the students had something they would eat but I was still underwhelmed. The menu was supposed to be a chicken kabob in a style fitting a local bar.  Instead we were served chicken hindquarters, crunchy green beans (I do not like mine this way) and plain old tater wedges. Dessert was a brownie.  I did my diligence after this and asked what might be for supper and then sought out local foods for lunch.

Day 3

Breakfast was that lovely "continental" breakfast we had the second day.  More bread....yum!!

Off we go to to Heidelberg, Germany.  I've been to this town before as a child.  We lived in Siegelsbach while my dad was in the Army and I've visited this castle before.  I was very young so I don't remember it.

Our supper was at our hotel and it was quite delicious.  I had a talk with the sous chef and chef about the meal and the ingredients used.  It was quite fun for the sous chef he had to go get his phone and translate a couple ingredients into English for me.

We had a chicken roulade (spinach and cheese inside) served with vegetables, penne pasta and an onion and chicken broth gravy.  The gravy was very similar to my mom's jäger sauce minus the mushrooms, bacon and made with chicken broth instead.  It would be easy to recreate at home. 

The pasta threw me completely off as I would have expected spaetzle instead since we were in Germany not Italy.  Perhaps this was simpler to make in quantities. Also served was a carrot salad made with carrots, corn, diced apple and mayo, a macaroni salad made with macaroni, paprika, peas, red peppers and mayo, and sauerkraut.

A homemade vanilla pudding with berry sauce for dessert. I had two servings of this!

Day 4

For breakfast at our hotel we had the typical eggs, sausage balls, meats, cheeses, and brotchen rolls.  This is where I discovered a meat that I remember from childhood.  I was told it was bieruuis and a German blogger told me it was bierwurst. Either way it was tasty and brought memories back for me. It is the one on the left in this photo.  I also had fond memories of the brotchen rolls. I have yet to have anything in the U.S.  that resembles this type of roll.
We also had options of pickled fish and veggies, cereals, yogurts, juice, coffee (served with milk only) and a Vitamin drink that smelled just like liquefied vitamins.  I did not try that nor the fish!
I did get a little bit of jam but once I tried the meat I only ate it and the cheese with my brotchen.
We made a pit stop at a gas station and I picked up a butterbrezel.  A soft pretzel sliced in half with butter smeared on the inside.  So good!  Who needs cheese sauce, not this girl anymore!
On our way to Munich we may a detour to go to the Dachau concentration camp museum and they had a cafeteria.  I got a wurst and pomme frites (French fries.)  It was supposed to be a curry wurst but since the curry was optional I opted out as I had never heard of curry wurst before. 

I grabbed a packet of mustard. I prefer stone ground and it was a smooth mustard.  I made do. The wurst was in between an American Johnsonville type bratwurst and hot dog texture, leaning heavily toward a hot dog.  It wasn't my favorite but it was still a wurst so I could say I had eaten a real wurst in Germany . 
We arrived in Munich, Germany later that day.  I sought out a piece of käse kuchen.  That translates to cheesecake.  My mom makes käse kuchen from a recipe she translated from German to English.  Honestly it is the only cheesecake I'll eat.  She makes me one every year for my birthday and even has amped it up and makes it turtle style.  

These are beautiful!
More handmade breads to buy. I think I could have just lived on breads, meats and cheeses the whole trip and been happy.
They also had truffle and marzipan goodies.  I didn't buy any although they looked lovely.
I had my eye on the käse kuchen slices for 2.60 Euro.  I thought that was a steal!  To compare to my mom's käse kuchen I thought it had more of a pastry crust than her crust which I describe as cookie dough like. The filling, although softer than mom's, was just the right flavor.  I would have thought it was the same recipe made with slightly different cream cheese!
Our supper at a Munich restaurant started with a salad but with a surprise at the bottom....sauerkraut!  
Spaetzle with turkey and gravy.  They made short noodles here, unlike our family which makes the longer versions with a spaetzle maker that resembles a potato ricer of sorts. Although delicious, it wasn't anything too fancy.  We were served a scoop of ice cream for dessert.

Check out Part 2 of my trip to Europe!!

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