Thursday, December 22, 2011

Zum Franziskaner and Munich

When you read this I hope to be walking on a mountain road, white powder snow sparkling in the sun, the smell of pine trees and burning wood in the air.

I hope you will be sitting cozily with your family and loved ones, enjoying the holiday season and basking in their affection.

While you relax (unless you are hosting and in that case you will probably be stressing just about now) I thought I would show you some more snippets from our trip to Germany.

After walking around the center of Munich and several Christmas markets (and buying the most decadent snack ever, crackly pig rind), we needed to refuel.

Crackly pork rind: they must be taught young!

We stopped at the restaurant zum Franziskaner, famous for serving Bavarian and German classics, for a bite to eat. The place is an endless maze of rooms, large and small, each decorated with a unique style, from the grand turn-of-the-century-like salon to the the cozy wood panelled Bavarian stubes, the winter garden and the student mass. It is a large, crowded place. The service is efficient, the ingredients are seasonal and the recipes are nicely executed. Baskets of pretzels and large glasses of beer are aplenty, as are brimming bowls of warm potato salad, red cabbage and mustard.

A much needed cold beer

Warm goose liver salad

Steak tartare (we asked them to mix it for us)

Pork with crunchy pigskin and bread Knoedel

Traditional potato salad, cucumber potato salad and red cabbage

I wish you all very Happy Holidays and a healthy, wonderful 2012!

Just everyone was in town to do Christmas shopping!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Peanut-studded peanut butter brownies

Dear daughter,

six years ago, on a Wednesday morning exactly like today, you came into this world, the best Christmas present a girl could ever dream of. A lot of things have changed since then: all that black peach fuzz on your head has turned into little blond wisps of elf-like hair, your eyes have turned from grey into the most beautiful shade of aqua green and from a quiet little baby you have become a real chatterbox, words tumbling from your lips from the moment you awake till the moment you fall asleep.

You have now started reading words everywhere you find them and in your drawings fairies and letters are intertwined. You sing loud and clear as if you were on stage, whether you are playing in your room or walking down the street, peppering each verse with a hop or a twirl. You are one of the most stubborn little creatures I have ever met, yet you are a truly sensitive soul and will drop anything you are doing for a cuddle or a kiss. I hope you keep both these traits as you grow into a woman, because tenacity will get you far but kindness and compassion will take you even farther.

When your brother was born, you constantly asked me which of you I loved more. I told you then and I tell you now that I love you both the same, I couldn’t love one of you more because my love for you is boundless, it cannot be quantified. But you will always be my first: you made me a mother and I have loved you longer, so you will always have that three-and-a-half-year headstart.

Even if you are growing faster than I can keep track of, you will always be my little girl, even when a tooth finally fills that big gap in your smile and you will be old enough to have children of your own.

This year for your birthday you expressly asked for a chocolate princess cake and we secretly went and ordered it on the week end. In the meantime, though, I made you those brownies that you have been asking me to bake you for ages. I know you don’t like walnuts or pecans in your brownies so I used peanuts and peanut butter in them instead. They are just like you, sweet and soft with a touch of saltiness and an unexpected crunch.

Happy birthday my love.


For the basic recipe, click here.
4 tbsp unsweetened peanut butter
1 cup chopped unsalted peanuts

Substitute walnuts with the same amount of chopped peanuts and add 4 tablespoons of unsweetened peanut butter into the batter.

Last but definitely not least I wanted to thank Manu (a little late, sorry, but I was travelling) and Paolo for their awards: it is always a real honor to receive any form of acknowledgement from other bloggers, especially the ones you admire.

I pass these on to some of my newer blogging friends and reads:

The Little Loaf
The Nervous Cook
A Full Measure of Happiness
The Twinky Cake

Monday, December 19, 2011

Foodies in Milan - Drinks at Panino Giusto

I may have not had a lot of time to cook lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been eating. Too much apparently, as my scale reminded me yesterday morning.

During the Christmas season there are endless opportunities to eat and drink and we have had quite a few nights out recently.

Jasmine and Manuel, the masterminds behind the blog Labna, organized their yearly Christmas Foodies in Milan get-together walking distance from my  home in a place you already know I love, not that I need any excuse to go out and stuff my face.

Truth is, I had no idea you could book Panino Giusto for events, they certainly don't advertise it. It is an interesting option for an aperitivo, pre-dinner drinks with lots of food, with friends. In this case the food is so good you will definitely skip dinner.

The buffet offered an assortment of smaller versions of their most beloved sandwiches, like the Tartufo (prosciutto, brie, arugula, tomato and truffle oil), and various canapes and bite size appetizers, Italian classics at their best, made with simple high quality ingredients: melt in your mouth hand cut prosciutto, fabulous mortadella studded with pistachios, perfectly aged Parmigiano Reggiano. pickles to go with the cured meats, bufala mozzarella. There were pescatarian and vegetarian options (smoked slamon, swordfish carpaccio and grilled vegetables). Cold, bubbly Prosecco and an interesting array of red wines flowed freely.

There was also a promise of their famous and truly amazing tiramisu, but unfortunately they served traditional Christmas panettone and Pandoro with zabaione cream, not a favorite of mine. I am sure it was delicious, but I was too disappointed to photograph it. Sorry!

It was a perfect chance to get to know some other food bloggers and catch up with Jasmine and Manuel, so thank you  for a fun evening.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas markets, German treats and washing machines

I'm back.
Have been back for a few days actually.
Have opened a new post a few times to then close it immediately because something else needed my immediate attention.

I am frazzled to say the least. I feel like I am stuck in a washing machine on the long cycle. I just keep turning and turning, faster and faster.

Swish. Swish.

Does that happen to you? Every year before the holidays I make a promise not to put myself through all this again next year, and invariably I do.

Swish. Swish.

This year, for the first time ever, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had gotten most of my Christmast shopping done at the beginning of November. I know, can you believe it? Christmas cards were ordered by the end of November. OK, I'll admit it, I was almost gloating.

Swish. Swish.

I had finally conquered Christmas. I felt focused and prepared. Ok, so this was the first time I wasn't organizing a birthday party for my daughter right before the holidays, but that just made me feel more confident. Everything was good.

Swish. Swish.

Until about a week ago, when everything spiralled out of control. I think the days away were a part of it. First of all I realized two days before leaving that I had to send out my Christmas cards before the trip. Besides packing for three (my husband packs his own stuff - another reason why I love him) and getting last minute things for the Germans.

And then coming back to total chaos. Five precious days had passed. Work had accumulated.

Spin. Spin.

I thought everything was pretty much done. I mean Christmas shopping was done. The apartment was rented. Ski lessons were booked. Arrivals and departures planned.


Spin. Spin.

...wrap presents order princess birthday cake work buy present for birthday party plan birthday menu for daughter laundry Christmas drinks work Christmas dinner book baby sitter daughter's Christmas party work son's christmas party work red and white outfit for son's party daughter's Christmas recital blue and red clothers for daughter's recital work buy and drop off fruit juice for son's party pick up family at airport laundry make beds for guests work book seats on bus find out train schedule plan Christmas menu pack bags for mountains work organize ski gear pack Christmas decorations enquire about school refectory strike work make pack lunch send application for daughter's winter camp confirm ski lessons work contact ski rental call rental apartment about coffee machine work laundry book restaurant in mountains pick up cake bring books to library buy Christmas card buy snow boots for daughter last minute order on Amazon food shopping pick up forms work cut boy's hair...

Spin. Spin.

I haven't been cooking lately. I won't even have time to bake my daughter's birthday cake because it is a week day. I think she is actually excited to order a cake with princess decoration from the baker's for once.

As I already mentioned, I am not even organizing her birthday party until the New Year. How did I do it these past years?
Next year I am starting in September, right after back-to-school is over.

Yeah, right.



Schmaltz and Brezeln

Weisswurst, sweet mustard and Paulaner