Instagram Has Killed The Radio Blog?

No it really hasn’t! If anything, it’s my crazy schedule that’s been hindering me from updating my blog!

Instagram is a quick and dirty way to share my foodie adventures, so please add me up! I’ll try to upload more recipes as they come.

I just came back from the East Coast/USA and I finally understand why bagels are a BIG DEAL!

OMG it’s basically warm and chewy pizza crust, which is one of the best things on earth!. I love salmon. I love cream cheese. So dang if this didn’t hit the spot.

I also tried Famous Nathan’s hot dogs. They were…underwhelming? Maybe some Gray Papaya’s next time when I see them!

Bali Ubud–Erfurt

Chicken Satay

The restaurant landscape in Erfurt has welcomed a new international addition with the opening of Bali Ubud, an Indonesian, specifically Balinese restaurant that has been open for almost a year now.

I was worried that it wouldn’t appeal to the locals, since Indonesian food doesn’t conform to what Germans think of as “Asian” food. But it seems like Erfurters, or those who live in the city, are a more curious sort. The restaurant is well received, and is full of people around lunchtime. It’s prime location, full of foot traffic, certainly has a lot to do with it.

Having eaten twice here, I could say that the dishes are authentic, while tweaking it just a little to suit European tastes. They use ingredients that Europeans are familiar with. So nothing weird like fish paste on the menu.

The dishes are very filling, and they do vegetables well. Their Chicken Satay was a bit dry, though, and their Kopi Luwak was…watered down?  I really hope not. Maybe Kopi Luwak is really just mellow. I love the interior design of the place, they really did a good job of taking Balinese elements and evoking a tropical oasis in the middle of cold Europe.

If you’re in town and curious to try something new, drop by

Bali Ubud Restaurant

Marktstrasse 45
99084 Erfurt

Cleaning Out My Cupboard

20140408_061737I am beginning to wonder if I am a food hoarder. I am an admitted supermarket tourist, scouring foreign Supermarket shelves for hard-to-find and unique grocery products. A recent trip to the Netherlands meant that I purchased six jars of Speculoos spread and ginger jam.

With my pantry exploding to the gills, I’ve decided to make a more conscious choice in cooking using ingredients I already have in stock. That, and the decision to spend no more than 20 euros a week on groceries–mostly on staples like meat and fish–will hopefully reduce the volume. To note, I have two bags of black rice, two red, one sack of wild rice, and half a bag each of basmati and parboiled rice. In the spirit of spring cleaning, I made biko and had a halo-halo party with friends last Saturday. I hope that helps some!

Gingko Sushi/Erfurt

I eat at several places to get my Japanese food fix in Erfurt, and one of the places is Gingko Sushi. It is owned and run by an elderly Japanese couple in what must be their 80s. The husband comes from Yokohama, and speaks excellent German, and his wife barely speaks the language, so my anime Japanese comes in quite handy.

This is the place to go to to experience authentic Japanese food. The food is excellent, and this is the only place I could get Takoyaki. The ambiance is also quite nice, and the location is very central. Now it should actually be more profitable, but why isn’t it? There are several reasons why it isn’t.

The husband-and-wife team are getting on in age, and they sometimes don’t open when they should be. I have encountered closed doors when they should have been open several times. I think it is poor health, really. The food business is really for the young. This is also the reason for bad service. The poor woman can barely keep up.

Japanese food is still quite exotic in these parts, and Germans in Erfurt still think all of Japanese food is just sushi. It makes me want to smack people in the head, but I think that is not happening here in Erfurt. And because of that, they are not willing to spend a lot of money on strange food. Admittedly, Gingko is expensive, with a meal for one person would set you back at least 30 euros.

While I fear that Gingko sushi will disappear in a puff of smoke anytime soon, I try to eat there when I can. That is, when they are open.

Gingko Sushi

Pergamentergasse 6, 99084 Erfurt
Tel No. 0361 6015415

Open from Tuesday to Sunday, 2-8 pm.

Hotel Panorama Oberhof

From disconto.de

New Year’s was great in our family. I hope you had a great one too!

We ( meaning I, ) needed a to get away during the New Year, as didn’t really want to spend it at home thinking about the million things I had to do. The requirements were: a) it had to be cheap,  b) it had to be near home, and c) it had to be child-friendly.

Hotel Panorama in Oberhof located in the Thuringian forest fit the bill. We spent the weeked there and spent only around 300 euros, so that is a really good deal.

oberhofThe view heading up to the hotel was spectacular, with a brilliant blue sky at the background. One of the main attractions for me was the indoor playground at the hotel, which used to be the tennis court/ sports club. They had an indoor wall climbing facility, a Segway course (with Segways for rent) and all kinds of playground facilites like a ball pool, soccer field, and a bobby car racing track. Parents can watch their kids play at the restaurant or even enjoy a massage armchair for a 2 euro/ 10 minute massage.

oberhof1Day two was spent wandering around Oberhof. The place is known for its skiing and its glass artisans, and so we watched one in action in a shop, where they held a glass-blowing demonstration for the tourists. Several kids were present, and there is really something about fire that transfixes people. I couldn’t believe that the children were so quiet during the whole presentation!

Day three was spent at an exotic reptile and fish terrarium further downtown, and got in for free using the Oberhof Pass that tourists receive. I think I should not have told my kid that pythons eat little children…

Of course, 300 euros also means that you can’t expect the best service and top facilites. Although they tried their best, the the cheap price and the resulting influx of guests meant that I had to wait nearly an hour for my burned “Chicken Cordon Bleo” at the restaurant downstairs.

Our room was great. It was clean, and was cleaned regularly. While the rooms were renovated, I think that our room, and the hotel in general, needs a little updating to move it from 1990 to 2014. That tacky spray-painted mural by the indoor swimming pool has to go, and the hot tub needs to be fixed.

But why does that matter? Thanks to the poor internet connection in the mountains, I was disconnected from Facebook and other distractions unless I was at the lobby, and finally got to read a  book from cover to cover within three days. it was unexpectedly a delight. My son had a great time, and is asking when we’re going back. That is what I call a successful vacation.

 

Silay’s Iron Dinosaurs

Having a son addicted to motor vehicles and steam engines, I will go to the ends of the earth to make sure he will get his wish.

I wanted to visit Silay, Negros Occidental for many reasons. One of them was to visit heritage houses, mostly from the American colonial era, and the steam engines. Germany has many well-preserved steam engines, but they are all colored black. I would of course not pass up the chance for my son to see Thomas the Locomotive in the flesh.

That meant my son and I camped out in Silay for a week and made kulit (Tagalog for being a pushy pain in the neck) the marketing person of the sugar plantation of the Hawaii-Philippine Co. These wonderful narrow-gauge (I think they were judging by the tracks) steam locomotives are two of the last remaining steam engines used to transport sugarcane to the refinery at the compound where the offices are located. The lady said that they are rented out for 15 thousand pesos a day to tourists. Otherwise they languish in that compund. Such a shame!

I suggested to her that the company could hold special tours, gussy up that engine, acquire or renovate a few train cars, and hold events like the Nikolaus Express like in Europe and the US. I hope that there is someone out there reading this who has the power to move thesse kinds of things and add another tourist attraction to Silay, which is really a lovely place to visit with delicious food to boot!

Nikolaus Express

My boy is a boy. I tried to encourage a gender-neutral upbringing, but no dice. The boy loves his toy cars and trains. Friday morning was extra special. He got up early, and excitedly played with his Thomas and Friends locomotives.

Every year, the Deutsche Bahn with a group dedicated to train preservation organizes about four events a year with a DRB Steam Engine–the train drivers even wear engineer’s caps for authenticity. The events are mostly geared towards children, like the Nikolaus Express. Nikolaus is the original Santa Claus, who comes to Germany and gives candy to children on December 6. So of course I try to book tickets for us every year.

This year’s trip was once again filled with small freebies. This year we got a pocket storybook, a keychain, a re-usable bag, book markers, and of course, chocolate and candy. Aside from the sights of the countryside, it is quite interesting to see Dampflok afficionados throughout the route following and photographing the train as if it were a model.  It is very much worth the ticket price of 15 euros!

Tickets can be bought over this website. It is important to get the tickets at least two months in advance, since they sell out quite quickly!

Aside from the

Manila Chinatown Walks

I just love Chinatowns. I love the crowd, the vibe, and especially the food. Manila Chinatown is a part of my childhood, as my grandparents regularly took me here as a child. My gradfather lived in the area until his 20s, and knew the backalleys of Chinatown very well.

mandyIvan Man Dy’s Old Manila Walks, especially his Chinese New Year tours, are something I would definitely recommend to Filipinos and people who want to learn more about Filipinos. And eating really great food along the way. And burning it all of while walking in the humid Manila air. I for one am glad that Chinese New Year is now more widely celebrated in the Phlippines outside of the Philippine-Chinese community.

I’ve spoken abot the New Po Heng Lumpia House in an old entry, but we visited a lot of more established restaurants and hole-in-the-walls than I indicated. I learned a lot about Chinese New Year’s traditions, ate really good bola-bola soup at the Cafe Mezzanine, which sponsors the district’s firefighting brigade. Then off to another hole-in-the-wall to eat spring dimsum. Then a variation of dough fried in oil, which he is holding up for everyone to see, and a little stop at a lumpia house.

While eating my bola-bola soup, I got into conversation with a British expat couple who had been living in Manila for the past three years. With them was the husband’s wheelchair-dependent mother. When I asked how were they able to keep her mobile, they beamed about the helpfulness of Filipinos, who always parted like the red sea in Chinatown’s busy streets to make way for her, even carrying her up and down flights of stairs if need be. In fact it’s her second tour. Way to go Pinoy hospitality!

I’m not sure if all of his tours are like this, but at the end of his New Year tour he had a lot of giveaways, and reminded me of an Oprah’s Wildest Dreams episode. With or without the gifts, the tour was a lot of fun and yummy to boot!

 

Selera/Frankfurt

Maaaan, I miss living in a country with a Chinatown. I didn’t realize how desperate I was for authentic Asian cuisine until I ate at Selera, a Malaysian restaurant in Frankfurt. It’s like realizing that there had been a drought after the first rain.

My friend M and I with our boys in tow had a quick lunch at Selera while I was waiting for my train, and boy, was I knocked off my feet! Selera serves more Chinese-Malaysian dishes, but I was as happy as a bug in a rug after eating my first bite of Char Kwe Tiauw, pictured above. Then we had the steamed shrimp rolls, and I was in heaven. And the shrimp shumai? TO DIE FOR!! I washed it all down with salty plum soda, which is known to Pinoys as Champoy. Can you tell I inhaled the food? The best part was that it was really cheap! A dish costs 5 euros on average. The conspicuous absence of non-Asians during the busy lunch hour is a very good sign!

I promised my friend that I would go and visit her again in Frankfurt, if only I could eat at this restaurant! Thanks M for taking me to this place!

Selera

Münchener Strasse 52, Frankfurt (Street right across the train station)

Phone 069 24009601

Open from 11 am-11 pm

Giardino/Weimar

Is it wrong to like a restautant for its atmosphere rather than its food? This is what Giardino, located in Weimar’s Oppel’scher Garten is really good at. Located in a picturesque garden, the highlight is the historic 19th-century pavillon, with a ruined fresco painted on the dome.

salmone giardino

We tried the noodles in cream and salmon sauce, and the Capricciosa pizza. While they were well prepared, they weren’t anything to write home about. Maybe I was distracted by the scenery and the warm summer night? The restaurant wasn’t cheap, as a meal would set you back at least 10 euros.

Another thing I like about this restaurant is that it is very kid-friendly, and they hand out lollipops to the customers’ children, just like they do in Rome.

They also hold cultural events in the garden, which is very typical of Weimar. Come for the music, stay for the garden.

Giardino

Oppelschergarten, Seifengasse, Weimar

Open from April-September, 9 am-11 pm