Eating our way around Georgia


We’ve just returned from a short trip to Georgia (the country located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, not the American state), and apart from the beautiful snowy mountain vistas, one of the outstanding things about the holiday was the local food. The dishes were all freshly made and tasty, making good use of local ingredients, herbs and spices. I confess, I don’t have many good photos of Georgian food, because we were too busy stuffing our faces. But here’s what you can expect to find in Georgia when you’re looking for something to eat or drink: Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #25 – Winter is coming!


Like Thistles and Kiwis, I’ve reached 25 posts for the Weekly Small Pleasures Blog Event! The organizer, Mani of a New Life Wandering, is on number 100 already, that’s amazing! In this blog event you record the little things that make you happy during the week. This week mine seems to be mostly about food. Maybe that’s because the temperatures in Berlin have plummeted. Last week we were on temperatures of 30 degrees Celsisus during the day and 20 degrees or so at night, and this week we’re having night time temperatures of 8 or 10 degrees! That said, the days have still been mostly sunny. I suppose now that it’s cold the leaves will start changing colour too, so that’s something to look forward to, although it’s still hard to accept that summer is over.

Anyway, here are this week’s small pleasures (in no particular order!) Continue reading

Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #8 – Summer thunderstorms


It was quite a nice week. This summer is much more like my first summer here than last year, with lots of “Gewitter” (thunderstorms) in the evening, bringing heavy downpours of rain. I like summer rain, when it’s been hot and humid, and suddenly with a crash of thunder and a flash of  lightning, the clouds open and drench the earth with water. Since it’s not cold, it’s nice to open the windows and let the cool breeze waft through the apartment, inhale the smell of rain on earth, and listen to the rain pouring down.

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I also enjoyed an impromptu dinner J prepared. I was tired and had come home from German class, and he put together some feta, olives and cherry tomatoes on a plate, which we ate with sesame and rye crackers and a bottle of cider. It’s such a simple meal but somehow so delicious. We ate the same once for breakfast after visiting one of the Turkish supermarkets here and buying a big can of mixed olives and a large pack of good white cheese. When I visited Turkey they served white cheese, olives, tomatoes and cucumber for breakfast, so we did the same.

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On Thursday some friends came around for dinner, and J made one of my favourite Czech dishes, meat and knedlicky (bread dumplings) with a dill sauce. I’ll post the recipe for this some time (and a photo), as it’s a good one. This time he cooked the meat (beef) in the pressure cooker his mom gave him for Christmas, and it turned out lovely and tender. For dessert I made a lemon fridge tart, which required some experimentation with German jelly. In South Africa the jelly includes sugar but here it doesn’t, so I just premixed the packet contents with the amount of sugar suggested on the packet and then used the amount of one packet of the German one (plus sugar), hoping that it’d be a similar quantity to one packet of South African jelly powder. The dessert set nicely, so it worked out.

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In the weekend we went to Czech to visit J’s family on the farm. The weather was great and the plums, apricots and peaches were in season, so we were picking them and eating them directly off the trees. We went swimming at the lake, walked the dogs, spent time outside in the garden and just enjoyed a relaxing weekend, as it’s always nice to see everyone again. For breakfast on Sunday his mom made an amazing savoury “cake”, which consisted of layers of bread, cheese, peppers, ham and salami, sandwiched together and covered with cream cheese. You serve it by cutting a slice and eating it with a knife and fork. I’ll definitely have to try making one of these one day!

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To share the good moments in your week, join the Small Weekly pleasures blog event over at A New Life Wandering. Have a good week!



Tinto de verano – a Spanish summer drink!


J and I recently went to southern Spain for four days, a glorious four days of hot sun, blue skies and beautiful buildings with Moorish architecture such as the Royal Alcázar in Sevilla and the Alhambra in Granada. We still need to sort out our photos, so more about that later. For now, I want to share a new drink I tried for the first time on this trip, very popular in Spain. It is called tinto de verano, red wine of summer, and is perfect for a hot day. Here is how you make it:

Add 1 part of red wine to 1 part of lemonade (e.g. Sprite or lemon Fanta), add a few slices of lemon and some ice blocks, and voila! Tinto de verano. So simple and yet so delicious and refreshing for summer. Drink it and picture that you are sitting at a cafe in a cobblestone street in Spain, enjoying the warm summer evening 🙂

Nakládaný hermelín (Cheese marinated in chilli and garlic oil)


Hermelín is the Czech version of Camembert cheese, and can be eaten as is or marinated in oil (nakládaný), fried in breadcrumbs (smažený) or grilled (grilovaný). When he came across a pile of cheap Camemberts in Rewe, J was inspired to make the marinated version. That was one and a half weeks ago:  today we dined on delicious, spicy, herby cheese served with bread to mop up the flavoursome oil, and a glass of our favourite new drink from Spain, tinto de verrano. Here is how he made it (of course, he never measures anything, but it’s not really necessary with this):

Ingredients for an average sized jar:

Hermelin or Camembert cheese (he used three – take as many as you can stuff into your jar)

canola oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped into small pieces

about 8 garlic cloves, cut into quarters or pieces

chillies, chopped into pieces (the amount and type depends on how much heat you like)

bay leaves, peppercorns, allspice (pimento)


Cut the cheese into chunks and put into a clean jar. (For tips on sterilizing jars, see here). Add the onions, garlic, chilli and spices, then top up the jar with oil. Close the jar and leave to marinate for about 2 weeks (not more than 6 weeks). We put ours in the fridge, but apparently this is not necessary. Serve with nice big slices of crusty bread to mop up the oil.


Middle Europe Weekly Small Pleasures #5 – Food and more food

Anyone reading this blog might get the idea that my life revolves around food! (I can see my mother nodding vigorously). But hey, if you are ever in Berlin, now you will know where to find good food! Here are my week’s highlights. Join Mani’s blog event to share yours!


1) Rain! My least favourite weather is hanging grey skies without rain, especially in summer. And apparently the crops of Brandenburg were not enjoying the dry spell. Luckily it finally rained, and of course, after the clouds had rained themselves out, we finally had some blue skies again.

2) We’ve run out of Dr Who episodes on Netflix for the moment and have now started watching Heroes. I’ve seen it before, but  J hasn’t, and I’m enjoying watching it again.

3) Our first tayberry (growing on the balcony) was ready to eat! (apparently it’s a cross between a blackberry and a raspberry).

4) “Sein oder nicht sein, das ist hier die Frage…” We went to see Hamlet in German at Monbijou park theatre. I really liked the theatre, which is wooden and built in the traditional style of Shakespeare’s era. Sometime the German was too fast to follow (for a non-native speaker), but you could get the general story and it followed the original quite well – amazing, considering there were only 3 actors playing all of the roles! Watching them juggle between roles was also entertaining. The mysterious Ophelia was always talked about but never seen…

5) Cheese fondue at Ars Vini! Followed by chocolate fondue at Ars Vini! Do I need to say more?

6) A friend of ours told us that Tommi’s burgers (in Berlin) has great sweet potato fries, which we didn’t notice before (usually we arrive so hungry that we just automatically order cheese burger and fries without even reading the menu). This time we went for lunch with aforementioned friend on a rainy Saturday and I noticed they also have a “Burger of the month” (I didn’t order this month’s one as I’m not a huge fan of sauerkraut on burgers, but our friend enjoyed it). The sweet potato fries were amazing. I would go there just for that. I also had a thick, coffee milkshake – delicious.

7) Pizza on Sunday night at Il Giradischi in Prenzlauerberg, Berlin. Everyone prefers a different style of pizza – this place and Pomodorino in Friedrichschain are my two favourite pizza places in Berlin. Normally I can never finish a whole pizza and take leftovers for breakfast, but in Il Giradischi I always finish it (so unfortunately…no leftovers!). At Pomodorino they serve it sold in squares, so you can mix and match or take away.

8) Biking on a Sunday. We did a 60km bike ride from Oranienburg to Eberswalder, through forests, past rivers and canals, lovely villages, farms and fields, and old stone roads. The scenery was amazing. I’ll write a separate blog post about that with some photos.

9) Our bike path led us through a small village where they were selling fish brötchen and renting canoes. The Backfisch (fish in batter) option I tried was absolutely delicious – crispy batter and good fish. Of course, food always tastes good after exercise, but so far it’s the best fish I’ve eaten in Germany and I’d happily cycle 60km to get there again!

PS – In case it seems as if I live on pizza and burgers, I should add for the record that I also had lots of huge salads in the cafeteria this week (but they were not included in my weekly pleasures 😉 )