The Sacher Torte Experience

IMG_3558No doubt the Sacher Hotel is one grand old hotel. With a storied past and a famous cake that people come from all over the world to indulge in.  The Sacher hotel and their namesake cake have become an institution. IMG_3543I was a little bit self-conscious doing something so touristy.  In truth I was half expecting a bus tour to pull up any moment whose theme was: the original Sacher Torte experience!  Thankfully, that didn’t happen. The staff at the Sacher kept everything very classy, not showing any disdain or approaching any table and saying: Let me guess, you want 4 Sacher Tortes, right?

As I waited to be seated I contemplated the very old world, kind of prissy, cafe.   Which is nonetheless a perfect, period, piece much as it was when it opened.  Classy and classic, yet all those oil paintings and chandeliers are really not my thing, so I asked if I could sit outside and enjoy the terrace and the first cool night since arriving.IMG_3545The menu is actually in the format of a mini newspaper which is for sale in the gift shop.IMG_3546It also contains the food , drink and most importantly the dessert menu. IMG_3548They sell over 360,000 cakes a year for both domestic and international consumption. They come in a variety of sizes and come in their very own wooden box.IMG_3571The prices range from $27.65-$58.68 a slice in the cafe is very reasonable $7.15. Continue reading

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Gardening in the Townships Outside of Cape Town

Empowerment and food on the table.  Very inspiring.  For more check out www.soilforlife.co.za

 

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A Mexican Feast at a Cottage in Berlin

IMG_3400Wednesday night I flew to Berlin to begin a 2 week European jaunt.  My favorite thing about Berlin is getting to hang out with my friends. In addition to Keith, Harald and Malka who live in Berlin my friend Jim (a former New Yorker) flew in from London.  Ever notice how much more glamorous things sound in Europe? Somehow saying: He flew in from Buffalo doesn’t have the same impact. Anyway… as you can probably gather from my silence over the last coupe of days things have been pretty busy add in jet lag and Berliners crazy night life which doesn’t really get going until 2 and well, you get the picture.

However, not all my time was spent at Ficken 3000.   I spent a great amount of time in the country.  Now for those of you who know me you know I am not a fan of the country.   But this is different.

All over Berlin there are these cottage communities, each substantial plot of land has a tiny cottage on it.  Last year Keith and Harald’s name come up on the waiting list for one of these cottages in a community a 25 minutes subway/bus ride away from their home in super trendy Neukölln.

Outside their apartment are organic grocery stores, local cheese shops, Hipster Bavarian Bars, a new Korean take away place that rocks, some of the best Thai Food outside Thailand, tons of bars of every persuasion and if that weren’t enough hipsters now forgo drinking at bars choosing instead to take over a Spätkauf (bodega) where they buy their beer and just party outside on the street.

25 minutes away from all that is this:IMG_3412IMG_3408The boys have been working their asses off as you can see.   Continue reading

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Kara E. Walker’s: A Subtlety

IMG_3245 IMG_3241Nothing can really prepare you for the experience you have walking in the molasses soaked air of the soon to be demolished Domino sugar factory where Kara E. Walker has installed her monumental, Marvelous Sugar Baby, part Sphinx, part Aunt Jemima and like no other confection you have ever encountered.

The boys carrying baskets are made from resin, the oil like stains on the floor and in their baskets are the melted remains of sculptures that were made from sugar and molasses and over the period of the show melted.  Ms. Walker would scoop up the remains and put them in the boy’s baskets.IMG_3251Presented by Creative Time an arts organization that specializes in public art projects Continue reading

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Budapest, Berlin and Vienna

It seems to have become a tradition like going to your beach house every summer (for those lucky enough to have a beach house) that I go to Berlin every year.  Besides loving Berlin, it’s vibrancy, bars, markets and culture I love my friends who live there and always anticipate with great excitement seeing them and hanging out.  And there is no city in Europe that I would rather hang out in than Berlin.

This year when my nephew Natan did his after school back packing around Europe tour it struck me that this 22-year-old had seen more of Europe than I had!  Not that I haven’t seen my fair share or spent more time in each place I have visited, but still, it made me aware that I am not getting any younger and that I needed to shake things up a bit!  So now I have made a commitment to myself to see new places every time I visit.  In truth I did this the last time I visited with my 4 day jaunt to Prague.  I’m trying to keep it to places that are easy and cheap to get to so this trip it will be Budapest and Vienna each for 3 days.   I Fly to Vienna, take the train to Budapest then fly back to Berlin.

I love taking the train in Europe, it’s so old world  ;-)

So, why, you might ask, am I telling you this?

I want your suggestions!  If you have recently been to one of these places please let me know what I should be doing, which market I have to see and where is the best tucked away cafe that has the most transcendent food for a great price.

The only thing I know I am going to do stroll through the Naschmarkt in Vienna and eat at Onyx restaurant in Budapest – a Michelin starred restaurant that offers a prix fix lunch for only $30! And from what I can tell that includes gratuity.  The movie clip above looks very elaborate – I can’t wait

Please, let me know any tips you have.  Of course I will be blogging throughout the trip. Leave Wednesday so please if you have any ideas leave them in the comments!

 

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It’s Too Hot To Cook: Sugar Snap Pea Salad with Cumin, Lemon & Mint

IMG_3301This is a perennial favorite at out place for several reasons, it’s delicious, seasonal and really easy to make.

Sugar Snap Peas have about a month-long season here in NYC several farmers at the local markets sell them.  When I first discovered them (I don’t ever remember seeing them in Canada) I would par boil them with mix results.  If just a brief 30 seconds in hot water takes the glorious snap away from these peas.  It didn’t take me long to realize there was no need to cook these wonderfully crunchy sugar snap peas, I could save the time, the heat and the water and just eat ‘em raw.IMG_3265This is kind of non recipe, recipe.  Which is to say that every time I make it I adjust the vinaigrette to my whim.  I love assertive flavors and the combination of lemon and cumin are two of my favorites.  In this recipe I suggest using both ground roasted cumin seeds and cumin powder they both have their own flavor profiles and by adding both you get a more intense and complex cumin flavor.  If you only have powdered cumin not to worry it’ll still taste great.

Sugar Snap Peas with Lemon Cumin Mint 

Prepare the peas by removing the top stem and pulling out the string that comes along with it.

Place in a cullender and rinse thoroughly in cold water, set aside to dry.

In a cast iron skillet place 1 Tablespoon of Cumin Seeds over medium high heat. Shake the pan a few times over a minute of two.  When the seeds become fragrant and brown slightly remove them from the heat.  Grind in a mortar and pestle until the seeds are broken down but not a fine powder.

In a small bowl whisk together:  1/2 cup fine Olive Oil and 1/4 cup freshly squeezed Lemon Juice. Add 1 teaspoon of Cumin Powder, the ground Cumin whisk to incorporate then stir in 1/2 cup of roughly chopped fresh Mint.

Generously season the vinaigrette with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the prepared Sugar Snap Peas in a medium serving bowl, toss with the vinaigrette, taste and adjust seasoning and place in the fridge for an hour.

Just before serving toss another 1/2 cup fresh Mint over the salad.

Make the most of these wonderfully sweet, crunchy peas (which I should mention don’t need de-shelling you eat them whole) while they are at the market.

 

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Making Cheese at Neal’s Yard in London

This is the first video I have seen of the collaboration between Foodie TV and The Perennial Plate.  Looking forward to more!

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