Monday, September 19, 2011

A holy moment with snowballs

Greetings from sunny Melbourne. In fact, Melbourne in Spring is actually sunnier and warmer than Berlin was this Summer. But c'est la vie, or should I say so ist das Leben.

So I left you all hanging for Schneeballen, which we were told to look for in Rothenburg ob der Tauber, but actually found in the gorgeous university town of Heidelberg. The pastry derives its name its shape and size – round and roughly the size of a large snowball.

We first spied these delicacies of the region in the main tourist strip, in more than one touristy-looking shop. Schneeballen of all varieties were lined up in a six-by-six display, enticing people from the street to come in and sample.

the variety of schneeballen on display
Overwhelmed by choice, we took a while to decide which we would buy. The traditional flavour is a simple dusting of powdered sugar while still hot, however we chose one with cinnamon sugar and one with pistachio and marzipan (almost like a Mozartkugel, but in the form of a schneeball). We took possession of our treats and hurried away to eat them on a church step of all places. I would soon find that this was rather fitting.

Biting into a schneeball is rather difficult to do. We should know, we tried. Rather, it is easier to break the pastry apart, which is rather easy to do given how it is constructed. Without being told, Mr von S and I concluded that the schneeball would have first come about from the off-cuts of other pastries. The good German people, ever frugal and resourceful, saw opportunity in the off-cuts and thus the schneeball was born. Tasting like a cross between Italian crustoli and shortbread, the schneeball in its dough form is cut with a crinkle roller, and then roughly formed into a ball before being deep fried for half a minute. The result is a golden-brown biscuit which is then seasoned in a variety of ways.

The cinnamon sugar schneeball tasted very much like a normal biscuit/shortbread. The pieces fell apart easily and we picked our way through the ball looking for the best-seasoned pieces. The pistachio marzipan schneeball was a much messier affair. Half covered in milk chocolate, we had to be a bit smarter about eating this specimen on such a warm day. In search of the marzipan heart, I picked through the jigsaw of pastry in search of the ultimate piece which had both elements of chocolate and marzipan.

chocolate, pistachio and marzipan
My earlier mention of Mozartkugel was then apt, as the taste of the schneeball mimicked aspects of the Austrian confectionery. The initial crunch of biscuit was pleasant enough, but with the addition of milk chocolate AND pistachio AND marzipan, the schneeball quickly became too rich. After thanking God for creating the schneeball in a country I would soon be leaving (seriously, if these things were in Australia, I would be in trouble), I managed to get half way through my now-sticky mess before calling it quits.

If you're ever in Heidelburg or Rothenburg ob der Taube, you'll notice the homeless people are all rather plump most likely owing to the fact that tourists like me could never possibly finish an entire schneeball in one sitting!

Next...a quick stop in Munich for lunch at the Augustine beer hall.

xox Fifi

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Essen from Hessen: Frankfurt

In our share house, we live with a guy who is from Frankfurt (am Main, not Oder). So when we found ourselves in the city, not only were we prepared for the skyscrapers – something rarely seen in Germany – we were also ready for the experience that is Handkäse.

Hand cheese. Not the most appetising name; and if the name doesn't put you off, then perhaps the sight will. Given its name for the way in which it is traditionally formed – by hand – this sour milk cheese resembles a piece of translucent, yellow fat. I'm not kidding.

Fat: yellow and gelatinous (source)
Hand cheese: translucent and waxy
Given that the two things we knew we had to try were this horrible-sounding cheese, and its less offensive matching beverage, Ebbelwoi (dialect for Apfelwein – cider) we went head first and ordered both at a little Biergarten specialising in the regional cuisine. We also each ordered schnitzel chasers.

The Ebbelwoi came out first. As we both love cider, we knew that this would be a beverage we would like. The glasses soon formed condensation due to the lovely weather, and we happily sipped our cider, waiting for the scary part.

Roughly the size of a doughnut, our Handkäse mit Musik – hand cheese with finely chopped onion on top, came floating in a bath of oil and vinegar, and a served slice of rye bread. I was pleasantly surprised I didn't want to gag, despite the pungency of the offering. In fact, once in my mouth, it was quite nice – the texture somewhat waxy and finishing off with a taste similar to Camembert. Washed down with a gulp of cider, the whole experience wasn't too bad.

Mr von S's Schnitzel mit Speck und Zwiebeln
Next, our schnitzels. Mr von S ordered his with bacon and onion with a side of roast potatoes. I ordered the Frankfurter schnitzel, which came served with roast potatoes, a side salad and Grüne Soße (green sauce). I took a punt on this one, and the result was interesting. The sauce was very green, and to me tasted overwhelmingly like parsley and not much else. But according to wikipedia “The Frankfurt-style [of green sauce] is made from hard-boiled eggs, oil, vinegar, salt, and generous amount of seven fresh herbs, namely borage, sorrel, garden cress, chervil, chives, parsley, and salad burnet.” Hm. I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure my sauce did not include chervil nor borage – only parsley. Despite the fact that the sauce is served cold, I quite enjoyed it, and liked the freshness it added to the otherwise heavy meal.

My Schnitzel - with green sauce.
The schnitzels were well cooked and much better than any pub schnitzel or parma I've had – and a fraction of the price – at €7.00 each, I don't know I'll ever be able to order a sub-standard parma for AU$20.00 again.

After a second glass of cider, we enjoyed a very slow stroll around Frankfurt, feeling rundum wohl and full of Gemütlichkeit.

Next: the beautiful university town, Heidelberg and Schneeballen

xoxo Fifi

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Little French bread: Franzbrötchen

I hope everyone has recovered after the breaking news of my previous post. But it's true, the von Strudel's have just over a week until it's time to say Auf Wiedersehen to Berlin, and I'm trying to get as much in (my mouth) as possible before we leave. Eat, drink, be merry, for in Melbourne, ye diet.

Knowing that our time in Europe was limited, Mr von S and I set about organising a road-trip through Germany and neighbouring Austria. After our amazing camping success at Melt! Festival, we thought we would save money and 'commune with German nature' by camping. Ambitious? Perhaps. Worth the crick in the back? Maybe. Would I do it again? Certainly!

With a rough itinerary planned, we set off from Berlin on a Thursday. Remembering that I haven't driven a car in over a year, we had hired a manual VW Polo, stuffed it full of everything we thought we'd need, and set off on the German Autobahn. Very slowly. First stop, Hamburg.

Hanseatic Hamburg, as it is known, is a city that I've visited before. In fact, 11 years before. As a slightly bewildered school girl, I spent three months on exchange in a town just south of Hamburg, called Luneburg. Trading in a summer for my first white winter, I managed to gorge myself on marzipan, Pommes mit Mayo (fries with mayonnaise) and McFlurrys of all things. I arrived back in the heat of Melbourne's summer (and the start of the rowing season, oops!) quite a few kilos heavier than I left. I guess some things never change :)

Luneburg's Am Sande
Never-the-less, the last time I was in Hamburg was a long time ago, and a refresher visit was much anticipated.

Our trip to Hamburg also included a visit to our friend Kata's house. She cooked us a lovely meal (we got her recipe for a great casserole, which will likely feature on this blog some time in the near future) and gave me some great foody tips on what I should try in each region. In Hamburg, apart from the famous Niederegger Marzipan from Lubeck, we were urged to try a pastry called Franzbrötchen, and tried it we did, the very next day.

According to Wiki, the Franzbrötchen was probably named after the French (in German französisch) bread roll (brötchen) the croissant, which became popular in Germany after Napoleon's troops occupied Hamburg between 1806-1814. The Franzbrötchen is essentially a sweet, yeast-based pastry, which is more bread-like (or even doughnut-like) than flakey. Filled with sugar and cinnamon, the Franzbrötchen can be topped with pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, poppy seeds, or as I chose, streusel.

Streusel Franzbrötchen
Upon first bite, I compared the texture to another baked good I've been coveting of late, Streuselschnecke (literally streusel snail) – the similarities extend to the texture: bready and almost doughnut-like, and the shared streusel topping: a crunchy, biscuit-like covering. Of course, what really sets the two apart is not only the shape of each pastry, but also the Franzbrötchen's heart of cinnamon and sugar. After biting into the pastry, this layer is a welcome surprise, and achieved by sprinkling the rolled dough with the Zimt und Zucker mixture, and then folding in to shape.

At 70 Euro cents a piece, and with a variety of toppings, the Franzbrötchen is dangerously affordable. Good thing for my hips we won't be visiting Hamburg again for a while!

Next stop, Frankfurt: Handkäse mit Musik and Apfelwein.

xox Fifi

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I'm baaack!

Hi friends,

So, the reason (I have one this time!) for not posting for over two weeks, is because I was on a 'research' trip: a two week road-trip through Germany and Austria. Given this was our last trip through to continent before we head back to Melbourne (you heard it hear first) I took the opportunity to taste my way around the region, and for your sakes, possibly gained a kilo or two. But, all in the name of research!

I ate schnitzel, I drank Ebbelwoi, I tasted Schneeballen, I consumed Sachertorten. And you shall read all about it in the coming weeks!

So stay tuned for some saliva-inducing reads. You may want to ready some napkins, to, you know, save embarrassment ;)

With love,

Fifi xoxo
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...