Monday, 18 July 2011

Wine of the month

So onwards and upwards on my blogging trail and this time we turn to wine (again!)  I think that sharing some good finds is only fair amongst friends so here's my current tip:

Fortaleza do Seival - a Tempranillo (2006) so far so good.  But here's the surprise - it comes from Brazil.  Now I was somewhat sceptical about a Brazillian wine but have to say it was very good, and when given that it is less than EUR10 a bottle has to be said it is very good value for money too!

As you'd expect from a Tempranillo, it's a good robust wine yet fruity too and not overly tannin-y. It would be ideal for matching with grilled meat in the summer - but would be lovely and warming with a hearty stew in the winter. 

Go - give it a try but leave some for me!!

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

A thorough(bred)ly tasty cut

So I've noticed more and more Pferdefleisch on sale here in Germany - in the local weekly markets and the supermarkets - and was curious as to what it would be like.  Now back in good old Blighty you don't come across much horsemeat in Sainsburys (you may find it in Waitrose I suppose.....!!) and as a result I'd certainly not cooked it myself nor knowingly eaten it (although you're never quite sure when you order a steak in France!).

So anyway, I thought I'd take the plunge and give it a go.  I spoke to the lady on the Butchers stall at the local market to ask her what it was like and how it ought to be cooked.  It is a very lean meat and so either needs very quick cooking (for the sirloin/hufte steaks I cooked) or slow pot-roasting.  It's a good strong dark coloured meat and ours had been well hung to make the most of it's flavour.  Taste-wise, it's not dissimilar to beef - indeed I think you could get away with calling it beef and most people probably wouldn't think it wasn't.

So, wanting something quick and easy to cook and eat with a forbidden salad (that's another story), I opted for two hufte steaks which I think is the equivalent to a sirloin.  I lightly seasoned them with salt and pepper and quickly griddled them to medium-rare.

So - how did they turn out?  Surprisingly well -  not tough or chewy as I was led to believe by some, not too gamey either - but good tender, juicy steaks - and better in terms of impact on both my health (they're low fat, low cholesterol) and my wallet (significantly cheaper than the equivalent cut of beef) - an all round winner!

So what to accompany the steak?  I was looking for something robust, which would stand up to a strong flavoured meat - I had a choice of Tempranillo or Carignan.  We plumped for the Tempranillo which worked well - full enough to hold its own and smooth enough not to out run the steak so to speak!  On the plate, I didn't plump for salad - we've been off the raw foods here due to E-Coli concerns, but suffering from a distinct lack of vegetables, I cooked up a large bowl of Ratatouille - all in all a very yummy meal and one I'd be happy to give another ride to....

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Pancakes and possible purgatory.....

So another day knocked off the celebratory calendar - Shrove Tuesday / Mardi Gras / Fastnacht - or whatever it happens to be with you.  We, of course, had pancakes galore and I'm pleased to report that Laura managed to out-pancake the boys!!

For us grown ups, the menu is one of stuffed pancakes with chicken, schwartzwalder schinken, dijon mustard and creme fraiche grilled with cheese for a yummy crust.  Here's how I did it:

Pancake batter:
1 egg
100g Plain Flour
1/2 pint milk.

Whisked together till smooth - best done a couple of hours before you need it to allow it time to rest.  Then fried in the pan - should make about 6 large but thin pancakes.

Diced chicken breast
Slice of cured ham (black forest / bayonne / parma - that type of thing)
Sliced onion
Large dollop of grainy mustard
Good slug of sherry
Small pot of creme fraiche

Cook the chicken, onion, ham till lightly browned.  Add the sherry, mustard and creme fraiche and reduce till slightly thickened.

Divide filling between 4 pancakes and top with grated cheese.  Pop under the grill till brown.

We ate this with a Rivaner from the Mosel. Which was suitably fresh and fruity.  Schmitges 2010 Rivaner trocken - might be worth a try if you can get hold of it.

This will probably be the last wine mention for a while as we're going on the wagon for Lent (although I'm reliably informed that Sundays don't count!!)  Will be quite a challenge for me I'm sure as I'm rather fond of my evening glass of wine once the Kindling are in bed - I'll definitely have to find some other wind-down options.  On the plus side though, hopefully it will kick start the diet again which I've not been able to get back on track with since Christmas.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The 'merry widow'

Well it can't have escaped your notice that it was Valentine's Day on Monday...... we don't much go in for that kind of thing - in fact here in Germany it's actually difficult to get a card as they're only just cottoning on to the great commercial opportunity it represents.  It's actually quite refreshing not to have the day rammed down one's throat for weeks beforehand!

Anyway, I have a very thoughtful husband......who managed to come home with "The Widow" on Monday night  - much appreciated I must say - although I have had several enquiries as to why my husband was bringing a widow home.... I must say I was somewhat surprised to have to explain quite what was going on in my house on Monday evening - that Madame Clicquot - was paying us a visit!!  Anyway, I popped her down in the cellar and we'll appreciate her later - well chilled!  He tells me that the chap from the couple behind him in the supermarket queue was getting a few pointed comments from his Fraulein indicating that he ought to be buying her something similar.

So here we come then to my first wine posting - as we didn't partake of The Widow on Monday - she wouldn't have gone well with the steak..... this, however went down a treat!

We came across this red on P&O of all places (the overnighter from Hull to Rotterdam) and were impressed at it's round, full fruitiness.  Often a Pinotage can be a bit hit or miss, but this one had been consistently good - mind you, you do pay for it - it retails at about 17euro a bottle here in Deutschland. 

It's a South African (aren't they all?) Stellenbosch region Pinotage, you can find out more about it here: -  I'm yet to try their other wines, but feel a taste of the rose will be required once it's a bit warmer.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

To buy...or not to buy

Well that seems to be the question for us.  Is 2011 the year we venture into international property ownership?

As a closet addict of, I'm no stranger to 'internet house-shopping' - indeed I'm a dab hand at widening search criteria to get just the right thing..... so anyway, scroll forward 3 years from our last property search (for the rented house we're in) and 5 1/2  years from our last purchase - and we're thinking about taking the plunge again.

Househunting in Germany is a little different than in the UK - for starters just setting your criteria is very odd - no 'preferred' number of bedrooms etc, but instead you're searching x-quadratmeter or the total number of rooms - but this in itself is not straightforward.  Your room count does not include kitchens, bathrooms, cellars etc - not are you limited to round the world of German bureaucracy, for a room to be a room it must be bigger than a certain square meterage otherwise it only counts as a half-room! 

Then, there's plot size and 'stadt'-regulated prices per sqm.  It's a minefield for the unsuspecting (foreign) buyer to negotiate.....still will be having plenty of fun dreaming about what my Euro could get me if I could just tweak those specs a little more!

For the time being though - I'll just have to be content with lurking on immoscout and immonet in the hope that my dream house pops up (within my search criteria of course!)

Watch this space for further posts about German Makler (estate agents to you and me - and as a buyer I need to pay them too......), Still it can't get any more embarrassing than George telling today's agent that the house was no good because the swimming pool was too small!

Friday, 11 February 2011

On the Blogging Bandwagon......Eventually

So another one of those "Expat Mums" who thinks she's got something to say joins the blogging world... well only time will tell if the ups and downs of life abroad are worth sharing or not  anyhow - lets geht los!

This is me in a typical pose - glass in hand - so you can safely assume there'll be lots of wine chat on here - and food too! Liebe Essen - that's me - more about the food than the place, but it, too, is surprisingly good for "the Black Country" of Germany.

Due to the wine and food, there'll be a fair bit of me bimbling on about the ups and downs of my diet - on the Weighwatchers at the mo but not very successfully - ho hum!  Still 8kg down on last year hurrah!

Oh and of course, how could I forget - The Kindling - the three terrors who take up most of my time and attention - you'll get to meet them as I progress on my journey and share in the fun of being a slummy mummy overseas!