Juni 30, 2009

Garden Brunch

Last Sunday, I invited all of my friends to join me in my garden for brunch. Around 20 people came, and we had a great day from noon to, I think, nine at night. We had great amounts of delicious food, made lattes from more than six liters of milk, drank more than 9 bottles of prosecco and wine (at least five of the twenty did not drink...) and at least a crate of beer. The only thing we did not succeed in was the attempt not to annoy the neighbors. But garden brunch only takes place once a summer.

My friends ate all the good food I made before I could take pictures of any of the dishes. But here's a list of what I made:
* Antipasti from zucchini, eggplant, yellow and red peppers and carrots.
* Meatballs from two pounds of ground beef (I added parsley to the meat - really good idea!)
* Chard quiche
* Strawberry cake

Then there were also lots of more antipasti that I bought in the grocery store (two kinds of olives, artichokes, dried tomatoes, caper buds, feta cheese), salami, olive ciabatta, baguette, four kinds of cheeese, rhubarb pie, two kinds of tiramisu, strawberries, vanilla dip, mini-muffins, goat cheese and grape tart, and cheese tartletts. You see, most of my friends are also good at cooking, and - more imporant - willing to bring delicious food to brunches! :)

Since I didn't take any pictures this time, I will post the photo of the strawberry cake that I made last year. This year's looked almost exactly the same.

Juni 01, 2009

last day of vacation

1. I was hungry way before dinner time today (due to not eating lunch, I guess...) and I made a delicious dip. Mixed ca. 3 tablespoons of cream cheese with the juice of half a small lemon, a teaspoon of olive oil, salt, a pressed garlic clove (Only use a small one! I did not and I will smell terrible all week...) and a couple of capers. I ate it with my favorite bread ("Hamburger Kräftiges") from my favorite organic bakery.

2. Eventually, I did cook dinner. White asparagus. The white variety is much more popular in Germany than the green variety, and local white asparagus is only sold for a very limited time in May and June. The last day for local asparagus is traditionally Johanni - June 24, the day that St. John was baptised. Usually, a pound per person is estimated. In my case, this were about 9 beautiful white asparagus which I peeled with a knife (remember that with white asparagus you have to actually peel the whole piece, not just the bottom). I threw them boiling water to which I added some salt, some sugar and the juice of half a lemon. There were done after about 20 min. I served them with boiled potatoes, sauce Hollandaise (which came from a package) and Katenschinken. This is a northern German variety of smoked ham. It is traditionally smoked in cold beech wood smoke which gives the ham a very mild flavor. I prefer it cut in very fine slices. Others like it up to half a centimeter thick.
While I usually perfer very dry wine, I like it a tiny bit sweeter when I eat asparagus some times. My favorite wine with this dish is Pinot Blanc but I didn't have any in the house today. Instead, I drank a (relatively) dry Kerner from the Palatinate.

3. My dear friend H. spent a week in and around Manchester during which she visited Chatsworth House which was Mr. Darcy's Pemberley in the 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie. She brought me a coffee mug with the portrait of Mr. Darcy! (However, this is not the Mr. Darcy from the 2005 movie but from the 1995 BBC Mini Series that starred Colin Firth - even better, if you ask me!)

4. During my vacation I read two great books: The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim and Die Frau im Mond (Mal di Pietre) by Milena Agus. Unfortunately, the latter has not yet been translated into English. It is available in Italian, German and Spanish.
The Enchanted April is about four London women in the 1920s who spent a month in a villa in Italy. Each of them arrives with her own little secrets and problems, and as if through an enchantment, these problems solve themselves by the end of the story. Read it to find out how. It's also very worth reading for the beautiful nature descriptions, especially of the flowers and plants that grow in the garden of the villa. You can almost smell them when you read the book.
Die Frau im Mond is the story of a woman from Sardinia who is married to a much older man because nobody else wants her. However, she is really in love with someone else. The story is told by her granddaughter. I can't really tell more or I'll spoil too much. Read it!