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Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Beer, beer, and fine times in Karlsruhe.

There are times in life when you know that you are meant to be somewhere and whenever I have been to Germany/Karlsruhe with the Lace Market Theatre as I did this last week, I knew that I was meant to be there and to experience all the good things that happened to us. The ‘us’ I refer too are twenty plus people from The Lace Market Theatre in Nottingham and the ‘experience’ relates to our cultural trip every four years to perform theatre in the German city. Most of the English folk choose to be hosted by one or other of the very friendly and generous German families or individuals and I am no exception in this.

This time I was hosted by the lovely Cornelli family and couldn’t have wished for a more wonderful time. We all did our best with each other’s language in daily communication and the beer flowed each night and they were fantastic hosts. Nothing was too much trouble and they took myself and another English couple, Doreen and Fred, out to dinner on the Thursday night and we were joined by their daughter Meike. I had the zander (caught locally) cooked in butter and served with broccoli and new potatoes. Yum. Every day I had a very generous breakfast of various sorts of bread and grapefruit and cooked meats and cheese and Italian coffee. There was a local smoked ham which I particularly liked but cannot remember the name of. Perhaps Waitrose will stock it. Some days I had a boiled egg or two and this came from learning the Badisch phrase, ‘zwoi  woiche Oier in oinerer Roi’ which means: Two soft eggs in a row. A tremendous amount of fun was had that week repeating this phrase (and others) to the amusement of our German friends.

There were three plays performed in Karlsruhe, Hedda Gabler at the Jakobus theatre and my play, A Chip In The Sugar and The Typists were performed at the Die Käuze theatre in Waldstadt. Each theatre provided food all week long and we (at Die Käuze) were treated to some wonderful food, including käsespätzle and salad on the first day. On the last night we had a fun party and some fantastic food laid on by the theatre.
Gordon and the explosiv curry sausage

Meanwhile in the city itself we haunted Café Bleu opposite the Jakobus theatre and lots of my friends enjoyed the  ‘explosiv’ curry wurst with chips. Whenever anyone ordered a salad it was huge. My friend Mathew can be seen tucking into his burger here. Needless to say the beers flowed as it was hot weather. Well, that’s our excuse.

It was very important to try out the local brews so a small group of us, Natalia, Fraser, Michael, Graeme, Richard and myself found ourselves at the Hoepfner brewery close to city and indulged in a few beers and some chips. The waitress was a real character. After one and a half litres I had to go back and get changed and showered ready to perform my forty-five minute monologue. I think the beer gave the performance an edge it never had before. We had a lot of laughs that afternoon. I'm still laughing at Michael's impersonation of a person at the Lace Market. Sadly we weren’t around for the Burgfest.

One day I went out to Durlach with my good friend Thorsten Feldman and enjoyed each other’s company and some laughs going around the town and up to the Burg for a view across the town and beyond. Back down in the town we had a few drinks together in a street café, laughed privately at the musician across the street who played the same tune over and over and applauded himself!

Another day, my friend Markus and I, plus a group English and German friends took the tram out to Ettlingen, had a wander round the pretty town, indulged in some coffee and ice cream and went for lunch at the popular Vogel café, founded by Rudi Vogel and where I had two beautifully clear beers (unfiltered) and  some  Baurenbratwurst in biersoβ und frites, farmer’s sausage and chips with beer gravy. It was delicious and the company at our table made it even more so. Much laughter, much fun and some very nice food and beer. My friend Emma tested her strength by lifting up three steins of lager beer and posed for the camera.
Markus and me on the tram

English Emma as German barmaid

There was good selection of German food on offer including: Mälzerschnitzel. paniertes Schweineschnitzel mit Biersoße und hausgemachtem Kartoffelsalat and Salatteller mit gebratener Hähnchenbrust  Blatt- und Rohkostsalate, Zwiebeln, Mais, Kräuter-Vinaigrette und Bauernbrot.

On the Friday we all took a trip out on the coach to the Black Forest where we visited the open air Schwarzwalder Freilichtmuseum – Vogtsbauernhof. We had a fantastic tour round the reconstructed farmhouses and I thought our guide Elvira was super. Lots of info about how farmers and their families formerly lived in the houses and worked their land throughout the ages and not too bogged down in historical dates. During our tour we experienced the Vogtbauernhof and the Hippenseppenhof dating from 1599. It was very interesting to hear all about the traditions and wander around the farmhouses. I particularly liked the kitchen areas that smelt strongly of woodsmoke. After the tour we went for a platter style lunch at the Falkenhof. Lots of meat and farmer’s bread and a scrumpy style cloudy apple drink called, Most.
After the meal some of went on the dry toboggan run and although I initially was going to sit this out (not fond of heights or fast moving things) I was encouraged by my friend Natalia to go on with her. Actually it was great fun and we reached the top speed!

On the last night in Karlsruhe we all gathered together, Germans and English alike for a party at the Die Käuze theatre to celebrate the twinning event and what a fantastic time we had had. The food was fabulous and the atmosphere great. Each national group presented the other with a gift as is traditional and we thanked our friends for a wonderful  time and that we very much look forward to seeing our German friends when they visit us in two years time in Nottingham.

We left Karlsruhe on the Saturday morning on our coach and said a fond farewell to our German friends and I admit I got a bit weepy as I do on these fond goodbyes. I simply don’t want to leave and the people are so so friendly and welcoming to us. I even have tears running down my face as I type this up. What am I like?

The sixteen hour journey home went very quickly and the bus was buzzing with chat about what a great time we’d had and when a group of went up to the brasserie for a quiet pleasant (away from the crowds downstairs) meal the ferry crossing time just flew by and … the staff forgot to charge for my lovely meal! Bonus!

By the way I shall be writing about the theatre side of things on my other blog at soon. After all it was the reason we went there, to share a love of theatre.
Many many thanks to Larissa and her team for their hospitality, likewise to Carsten and all at Jakobus and to Gill Scott and the LMT organisers back home. Here's to 2014! Prost! Hep's moll und net falle lasse!
one happy bunny

Monday, 14 May 2012

Cat Cafe opens in Austria

What would you think about having a cat with your coffee? Fear not, cat lovers, I don't mean to eat. If you would like some cat company and live in Austria, Vienna's newest coffee house is the place to be.  The cat cafes are meant to be appealing for those Austrians who cannot have pets in their apartments but like to pet cats. You can  buy time with the cats and many visitors find their presence calming and enjoyable.

Six cats roam freely in Cafe Neko (Cafe Cat) on Blumenstockgasse in Vienna, ready to be stroked and cuddled - and when they are tired or bored of all the attention, they can disappear into their own space or climb high above the tables, out of reach of the guests.  The cats are called Luca, Nori, Sonja, Thomas, Moritz and Momo and have all been homed from a local cat shelter and are free to roam the cafe, get fussed and take regular naps. Sounds a great life.

The owner Alexander Thuer told the Austria Press Agency that the idea was to combine coffee with pussycats  and it came from his Japanese wife, Ms Takako Ishimitsu, who says such establishments are common in Asia - but quite rare in Europe. She spent three years negotiating with city officials to be allowed to have the cats on the premises and she says that she felt good doing something extra for the animal shelter that she has been supporting for many years. Alas, not all guests are welcome. Dogs, which have entry to most Viennese coffee houses, have to stay outside Cafe Neko. Woof deal huh?

Luca the cat chilling out above the guests.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Bangers and Mash with a simple difference

My own version of Bangers and Mash that I created almost by accident  today. Dead easy, use sweet potatoes  to add a sweet flavour and deeper redder colour to the mash.A tiny amount of salad, a few leaves, on the side lifts the dish and a smigden of pickled red cabbage adds another level of colour and tastes fab. Some high quality chipolata sausages add a subtle porky touch. That's it.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Guten Appetit!

This is a fun video with me demonstrating my German language skills after shopping at the Co-Op for a few bits ready to make a healthy chicken soup. Lots of veg too and pepper. Here is short list of foodstuffs in German. All nouns are written with a capital letter in German. I’m a bit obsessed with the German language at the moment as I am going to Germany on the 18th of May to perform A Chip In The Sugar as part of a cultural exchange. See my other blog  for more details.

Das Gemüse = vegetables.
Die neue Kartoffel = new potatoes.
Die Karotte = carrot
Die Tomate =tomato
Der Lauch = leek
Der Pilz = mushroom
Die Zwiebel = onion
Das Vollkornbrot = wholemeal bread

Das Brot  = bread
Das Hähnchen = chicken
Die dicke Bohne = broad bean
Der Knoblauch = garlic
Das Bier = beer
Die Knabbereien = bar snacks
Die Suppe = soup
Der Gefrier – Kuhlschrank = fridge freezer

Guten Appetit = a good appetite

Today I even surprised myself by having a conversation – am telefon – with someone in Karlsruhe about the prices of tickets for travel on the tramway system in the city and the city environs. I was understood and I understood them!!!

Und nun, vorwarts gehe ich um das Hähnchen Suppe zu machen!