Archive for June, 2011

Lamingtons, or how not to be Australian

This week presented (yet another) chance to represent our home country with food. Of course I could have taken a packet of tim tams. Yes, we sometimes have them. Sent over by adored friends like Kate and Rob. Or, I could have taken our tin of Milo (thanks to a friend’s visiting mother-in-law for that one). Lamb is far too expensive to share with a large group of people, and vegemite is generally unpopular at these sort of gatherings, I find.

Brainwave. Lamingtons! A wild idea that came from nowhere, nurtured by a husband’s sudden declaration that he’d kill for a lamington.

But here’s the thing. To be authentic and visually appealing, lamingtons must be (of all things) square. An extremely unforgiving shape for baking at home. Even if you decide to go ahead and purchase a square baking tin, they may still defy you and (for unathomable reasons of their own) fail to rise to squareness in the middle.

Another warning I’d like to issue: icing them is a two-person job. Or even a three-person job. Might we say in this instance, a 3.7 person job?

Other thoughts:

Don’t leave the icing part till the last minute. Very bad idea. Make sure the icing stays runny. Set the bowl over boiling water. Don’t dip them, spoon it over and let your “squares” drip. Don’t scrimp on the coconut. The visual appeal goes down proportionately with the amount of coconut left in your bowl, until you curse the day you bought only one packet. Finally, if you don’t live in a far off place where lamingtons are unknown, ignore all of the above and buy them. As one member of team lamington exclaimed last night, “who would ever sell these for a dollar?”

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To Nanny and Pop, with love

I scream for Eis

Way back in March as soon as it was warm enough to get one hand out of a glove, Leipzigers were eating eis like they may never see it again. Only weeks earlier it would have been possible to make ice cream by simply putting a bowl of custard on the balcony. Nevetheless, out it came and the craze seems set to stay. Most popular is the classic kugel in a cone, sold by street vendors all over the city for the bargain price of around 80 cents. Also popular are eiscafes, many of which boast their original GDR furniture and shop fittings. Something I find most peculiar is the eis karte (ice cream menu), available at nearly every cafe. One can chose from a variety of “dishes” ranging from the tacky to the truly camp. My favourite is spaghetti eis; ribbons of ice cream “pasta” topped with berry sauce “bolognese” and a dusting of nuts. I’m told it’s seriously good; the absurdity seems lost on most. As a matter of public interest, I’m currently on a search for the best ice cream in Leipzig. I must admit, while they make a nice change from your standard Streets Cornetto, I’m not overly thrilled with the results of my search thus far. As compared to my memory of such as Sydney’s Ice and Slice or Melbourne’s Trampoline the offerings here seem overly sweet and lacking in flavour. An exception to this (and topping my list so far) is the Leipzig-made Grundmann Eis on offer at the Cafe Maitre. As is the way, the flavour options are limited; no blood orange, caramel pear or turkish delight here. But the strawberry, chocolate and vanilla are sensational. No complaints.

No, none at all.

Gothic Leipzig

If you’re a Goth in Germany, chances are you’re in Leipzig this Pentecost long weekend for Wave-Gotik-Treffen. I don’t know who’s having more fun, the Goths or the army of amateur photographers lined up to take their pictures.

Food from our street

I love a good free meal as much as the next girl. I’ve eyed off the dandelions and nettles on my street for months now, but doubts about parasites and herbicides have left me a little timid. Even the wild garlic season, which had Leipzig smelling like a giant onion, passed me by unmarked by a pesto. You may recall, while in England last summer, Keren and I attempted that quintessential English summer drink, elderflower cordial. After returning and finding a local producer of delicious holunderblütensirup in Stuttgart I developed a love for the sweet delight. It seems to express, by its very taste, the essence of the northern hemisphere summer: subtle and delicate. For the girl who can’t join the rest of Germany in enjoying the warm evenings with a beer, it’s a near perfect substitute.

Happily for me, elderflowers grow somewhat like weeds in Germany, and Leipzig, it would seem, in particular. These dainty rosettes of sweet white flowers are everywhere. Having identified and located Zitronensäure (citric acid) I’ve been busily brewing my own this week. My bottles are proudly lined up along the kitchen counter, labelled and dated with important details; “Karl Liebknecht Strasse, May 27th”, “Clara Zetkin Park, May29th” and “Abandoned building lot in Lindenau, May30th”.  This triumph hasn’t come without sacrifice. An extremely painful encounter with a stinging nettle and serious histamine issues for Tony have been the high price of this liquid gold. But oh, the joy of a cool drink on a hot day.

Welcome, summer.


About Me

A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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