Archive for the 'markets' Category

#3 Weihnachtstmarkt (Christmas Markets)




Stuttgart loves a good festival! This weekend the cobblestones of Karlsplatz had been commandeered by the Hamburg Fishfest. If the theme of “fish” seemed strange to anyone but us, I couldn’t tell. Alongside the inevitable crepes and wursts, fish of every kind were available. To enhance the theme were any number of fishing nets, plastic lobsters, rubber life rings and tattooed nautical figures. I love the way people get into things in Germany.

A Summer Holiday

When one arrives for an internet-booked holiday, there’s an element of the unknown. What did they mean by “sleeps six”? Were the pictures reliable? At the most, one expects the host to provide a front door key and give instructions for the dishwasher. Christine and Christophe did immeasurably more than this. On our arrival, they ushered us into a storybook stone house,  purchased along with our neighbouring abode as dilapidated sheds, and slowly but surely restored to glory. Burgundy is stunningly beautiful; fields dotted with wild poppies spread around a patchwork of tiny villages made entirely of stone. It was as if modern life had simply been superimposed over a medieval backdrop. According to Christophe, the farmers in the village spend the winter co-habiting with their livestock in sheds adjoining the houses. Boggles the mind a little… Our gite looked much like my favourite shop, The Shed. Christine’s paintings adorned every wall and bunches of fresh flowers were arranged on each shelf. A pair of Liberty curtains hung in one of the bedrooms. I could tell we were destined to be friends.

Over the course of the week, our two hosts peppered us with gestures of welcome. Christophe conducted visits to local winemakers, drew maps, poured aperitifs and illuminated French life generally. Christine’s kindnesses seemed boundless. Some gestures were small (lending me her daughter’s French magazines, picking bunches of lavender and thyme to dry), most were much bigger (leaving a delectable meal on our return from Paris, leading an expedition to local markets, buying a Burgundy cook book as an “early birthday present”, conducting cooking lessons in her beautiful kitchen and serving the results as leisurely five course meals). Christine is without doubt my favourite thing about France.

Other highlights:

Tour of Chateau de Cormatin, which looked as if its seventeenth century owners might just be about somewhere…

Regaining my schoolgirl French (thankyou Miss Valenti) and a surprising amount of vocab from years of learning ballet (thankyou Miss Danielle)

Eating croissants with Christine’s own jam made with the produce of her cherry tree and blackcurrant bushes

Revisiting Paris, taking in the breathtaking Musee d’Orsay and buying knives from E. Dehillerin.

Going to bed with the sun at 10pm

The incredible produce market at Chalon, where cream was dispensed from watering cans and local farmers mingled freely with their consumers.

Taking leisurely bike rides and stumbling upon ruined castles

Finding no time left for knitting, sewing or reading

Discovering a love of terrines








Broadly speaking

Indulge me while I write yet another food post. You see, Spring is not only the time of all things rhubarb and asparagus, it’s also the only time of year to eat broad beans. A lot of people shy away from broad beans because they take a bit of extra loving. Unlike peas, where it’s a matter of ripping in and getting them out, shelling broad beans is quite an art. If you try to rip in, you’ll never get them out. They have too much self-respect. It’s a matter of squeezing the foamy, spongy pod at just the right angle, and popping them out gracefully like the cork of a good chablis. And while you’re standing there popping, take the opportunity to think about life and the cosmos.

Broad beans are another of those things that cause disharmony in the Kelly family. But this time, I’d have to side with Dad. What kind of woman isn’t thrilled by a meal of fresh broad beans? A woman spoiled by thirty years of home grown vegetables, I’d say. Dad, if you cook them this way, she will love them. Promise. The recipe I’m posting below may well be my last meal of choice. Totally worth the podding labour. By the way (if you’re in Australia) now is the time plant broad beans. If you don’t have a garden but are lucky enough to live in Wollongong, buy them from the strawberry man at the markets. They’re grown locally and (if you do feel the need) you can buy them already podded 🙂

This recipe comes from Jamie’s Kitchen. Frozen peas work just fine.

Broad Bean and Crispy Pancetta Salad with a Pea, Peccorino and Mint Dressing

1 clove of garlic, peeled and left whole
300g/10½oz podded broad beans
8 slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon
a handful of whole blanched almonds
150g/5½oz podded fresh peas
70g/2½oz pecorino or Parmesan cheese, or a mixture of both, grated
a handful of fresh mint, leaves picked
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a pot to the boil, half-filled with water, but with no salt as this makes broad beans and peas toughen. Add your garlic and allow the water to boil for a couple of minutes before adding the broad beans. Cook for around 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how young the beans are. Simply taste one to check. If you feel the skins are a little tough, which they can be sometimes, let them cool a little and then you can peel them very quickly by pinching and squeezing the bean out. Throw the skins away, and keep the garlic clove to one side. Place your pancetta on a baking tray, with the almonds spread out next to it. Place in a hot oven at 250°C/475°F/gas 9 − keeping an eye on the almonds to make sure they don’t colour too much. You should be able to crisp up the pancetta at the same time as toasting the almonds, but simply remove one or the other if it is getting too far ahead.

To make the dressing, put your raw podded peas and the soft, boiled garlic clove into a pestle and mortar or a Magimix and bash or blitz until smooth. Add the cheese and most of the mint and stir or pulse to make a smooth paste. You want to turn this into a thick dressing, so add the olive oil and 4 to 5 tablespoons of lemon juice, to your preference. Season to taste − it should have an amazing flavour of sweet peas, twangy lemon, fragrant mint and a softness and roundness from the cheese. A balance is good, but you should also trust your own personal judgement. I generally like mine to be a bit more lemony, to cut through the smokiness of the pancetta.

Mix the dressing with the broad beans and sprinkle this over four plates. Crumble the pancetta over, followed by a sprinkling of the almonds, which can be crushed or bashed up a little. Tear a little mint over the top with a little shaved Parmesan if you like.

Recipe credit:

Adding some spargel to life

White asparagus at Stuttgart markets

Asparagus is a very big deal around here at the moment. It’s a local specialty, growing happily in the sandy soil. No restaurant would be caught without spargel on their menu, markets stalls are brimming and Spargelfests are ensuing. I recently saw a queue at least twenty people deep for some spears being dealt from a stack of wooden boxes. I have no idea what made these spears so special (of course I still felt compelled to join the queue). But it’s not the usual green stuff that has everyone going wild, it’s the chubby, pearly stalks that have never seen the sun. To grow these pale, delicate shafts that are so highly prized, soil is heaped on top of any shoot that dares poke its head out of the ground. The season only lasts a few weeks, ending unofficially on June 24th. I’ve heard that a stalk can grow several inches in one day. Is that true Dad?

Inspired by the craze, I decided to have a crack at my own spargelcremesuppe, and duly bought myself a nice fat sheaf of locally grown spears. Googling in German (with translator) was the most likely way to find an authentic recipe. Unfortunately, it didn’t guarantee easy to follow directions:

“Heads aside and rest of the asparagus into small pieces. Who has time, can boil water in bowls of water with the asparagus and mix the broth.”

“The shells and the asparagus in 1.5 liters of water to a boil, cook about 20 minutes and let drain and then discard, catch the South.”

And my personal favourite:

“Also suited very well for the leftovers of an asparagus orgy.”

I know asparagus is out of season for my antipodean readers, but I’m posting the recipe here for future reference. All versions follow roughly this same method.


1 kilo of white or green asparagus
2L of water
1tbsp sugar
1tbsp butter
1tbsp flour
1 glass of dry white wine
200ml cream
1 egg yolk
Grated nutmeg and/or chopped parsley to finish

White asparagus must be carefully and thoroughly peeled, starting from below the head and working downwards. Chop the peeled spears into short pieces. Make a stock by place the peelings and woody off-cuts in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a simmer for a good twenty minutes, drain and collect the water. For green asparagus, use some good vegetable or chicken stock instead. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sugar to taste. Add the peeled asparagus pieces and simmer gently until soft and no longer fibrous. Allow to cool a little and puree till smooth. Make a roux using equal parts flour and butter, melting the butter in a heavy based saucepan before sprinkling over the flour. Fry the mixture for a few minutes. Deglaze with the wine, stirring well, and add the pureed asparagus. Reheat the soup. Beat the egg yolk in the cream. Remove your pot from the heat and add the egg mixture, stirring quickly. If you cook it past this point, the egg yolk will curdle. Serve with a nice Riesling (another local specialty) and some crusty German bread.

Fingerless Gloves - Green Asparagus

Fingerless Gloves in Green Asparagus by ginaminda

Spargelzeit - eco-friendly greeting card

Eco friendly greeting card by thespottedsparrow

Eco Crocheted Dish Towels in Asparagus (set of 3)

Eco crocheted dish towels in asparagus by sarahhoo

TOTE / asparagus

Asparagus Tote by Pawling

1/12 MINIATURE - asparagus and fried egg dish

Asparagus miniature by sleepingdogstore

A Street View of Stuttgart Flea Markets

I’m constantly reminded of how new I am to Germany, and how little I know of the people I’m living amongst. I long to be one of those expats who’ve done their time, learned the language, made friends, and whose working knowledge of the political and social culture gives them a roadmap to daily life that I am completely without.

This was made clear to me this week whilst reading an article on German reactions to Google Street View. When we were first given the address of our new home in Stuttgart, I remember feeling somewhat frustrated there was no Street View available for us to have a peek. Turns out there is quite a strong public objection towards Google’s plan to put German and Austrian streets on view by the end of 2010. This objection has manifested itself in everything from incidents of vandalism to Google’s camera laden cars to the stongly voiced opinions of public officials. In an interview, the Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner denounced Google’s photo offensive as “nothing less than a million-fold violation of the private sphere.” As it turns out, German law supports the desire for privacy that many Germans seem to feel. Google is now having to comply with restriction after restriction in order to complete its megalomaniacal quest. I now realise how naive it is of me to take photos in public places without much consideration for the privacy of the subjects. I’m certainly feeling contrite. On the advice of my new Ravelry friend, I’ve decided not to take down any photos I’ve posted so far, but to proceed with more circumspection in my photographic adventures.

It was with this is mind that I took my camera downtown to Stuttgart Flea Markets yesterday. The Flohmarkt happens every Saturday under the watchful eye of the “Old Castle”. Its a delightful collection of the beautiful and the strange which gives that satisfying sensation of digging for buried treasure. Unfortunately, I lack both the confidence and the language to ask permission to take photographs. One lady got quite upset with me for taking a photo of a box of tarnished silverware, and had enough English vocab to insist I delete the photo. Feeling a little gun-shy of ever taking another photo in Germany ever again, I had quite a positive reaction from people whose permission I did ask before photographing them or their wares. It’s made me more determined than ever to conquer that all-encompassing language barrier, and ever more impressed by the maze of culture and experience that makes us human.

An Outsider’s Guide to Stuttgart #1 The Markets

Germany has a very short growing season. Arriving at the tail end of winter, we’ve been living on tired looking broccoli, impenetrable tomatoes and bananas which, although fair trade and organic, have traveled from places like Brazil and Columbia (gasp). How I miss my beloved markets in Wollongong, which at this time of year are burgeoning with new season apples, the first of the citrus and the last of the delicious figs. So you can imagine what a relief it was to find the produce market in Stuttgart, awash with the promise of Spring. My first glimpse of that buzzing mass of colour and movement brought a wave of familiarity and relief. But this is isn’t just an ordinary market. Stuttgart’s producers have been trading in the very same place since the 14th century. In 1944, the Marketplatz itself was completely destroyed by Anglo-American air raids, along with ninety percent of the city. But rebuilding had begun by the 1950s, and today it houses the produce market twice a week, as well as the Christmas market from November.

For Tony and I, the experience brings moments of both exhilaration and despair. Boxes and tables of gleaming apples, surly potatoes and soldierly asparagus, bring the former. The awkwardness of not knowing where to stand or how to approach, grappling with yet unfamiliar coins, and the ever-frightening language barrier, bring the latter. Nevertheless we came home laden with a bushel of delicious local bounty. Apparently, the market still abides by its centuries old mandate that only produce grown in Württemberg may be sold. This may well be true, though I’m sure I glimpsed a couple of pineapples…

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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