Last day in Bielefeld

On my last day visiting Bielefeld I woke up around 1pm… But in my defense, it was because the night before my cousin invited a bunch of her friends over and Germans party until the sun comes up. Or in our case around 3:30. If we would’ve gone to the disco, it would’ve been more like 6. Germans seem to start partying way past my bedtime. Guess I need to step my game up.

Anyway, that morning (afternoon) we had a light lunch of a few different tapas. Traditionally, tapas are a collection of appetizers that comprise a meal. We had two different types of bruschetta (made with left overs from the night before), some roasted Spanish peppers, and a variety of german meats.

After lunch, we took a walk through the Teutoburgerwald forest. What’s crazy about Bielefeld is that basically anywhere you are in the city, you are just a short jaunt to the woods. My mom’s cousin, Michelle, gave me a little history lesson about the city on our excursion. Apparently, it was in these woods that the Roman empire was halted on their conquest through northern Europe. Arminius, or Herrmann, was born the chief of a Germanic tribe, but was kidnapped as a child and taken to Rome, where he grew up. He betrayed the Roman Empire in favor of his homeland and aided in their victory during a battle that was fought in the Teutoburgerwald forest. Pretty neat, eh?

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Now onto more food. Because you knew it was coming 😉

That night, I was taken to Restaurant zur Linde, an authentic German restaurant family owned since 1677. I can’t even wrap my head around how this restaurant has been kicking since before my country started a violent protest for its independence. I ordered the Jägerschnitzel mit Bratkartoffeln, Schnitzel topped with a mushroom sauce with a side of potatoes. Bratkartoffeln are potatoes that are first fully cooked in boiling water, then sautèd with butter and bacon. This creates a beautiful brown, crispy exterior while keeping the insides nice and tender. Each bite had a light crunch and then melted in my mouth like butter. Then there was the schnitzel, oh the schnitzel. Someone once told me that unlike some more famous cuisines German food isn’t extravagant or fancy. German food is just damn good. And I would 110% agree with that statement. It reminds me a bit of food from back home in Minnesota, very seasonal, hardy, meat-and-potato, nap-inducing, rustic cooking. Schnitzel is pork that has been pounded out flat, breaded, and usually pan fried (God, am I glad I stopped being a vegetarian for this trip). Jägerschnitzel is that, topped with a creamy mushroom sauce. The Linde family has had 340 years to perfect their schnitzel, and it sure tastes like it.

Dinner was followed by a shot of Patthorster waldgeist, or a schnapps considered “the spirit of the forest”. It was like a smooth vodka with a powerful chili kick and a woodsy undertone. My whole mouth tingled and the heat only grew and spread as the waldgeist went down. I can see how it got its name, I felt like there was curios ghost lingering in the throat. I thought it was lovely.

We tried to end the night with some spaghettieis, which is essentially spaghetti made out of ice cream. Vanilla ice cream noodles, raspberry “sugo”, and white chocolate “parmesan”, or in other words, perfection in ice cream form. I’ve only had it once before, and that is when I was around twelve, but I will never forget how enthralled I was by it. Unfortunately, it’s January and most ice cream shops don’t run into the night during Winter. I guess I’ll have to wait a little bit longer to have another taste of that childhood magic.

Bis zum nächsten Mal, tchüss!

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Playlist to Remember to #1

Why post playlists?

Well, memories and music go hand-in-hand. I just want to record whatever I’m listening to for exactly that reason. So, sorry that this isn’t exactly a travel account. I thought I’d share some music with you all.

1. Elevator Operator – Courtney Barnett

This is definitely my current favorite song. I honestly can’t say what genre I’d put it in. It reminds me of some sort of alternative Patti Smith/alt punk something or another.

2. Nobody Dies – Thao & The Get Down Stay Down

3. Future – Transviolet

4.Safety – Yoke Lore

5. Shaky Ground – Freedom Fry

6. Pret a Porter – Emilie Mover

I have no idea what she is saying. I don’t care. This song is just so relaxing to listen to.

7. Made of Gold – Shenna

8. Swoon – Beach Weather

9. Genghis Khan – Miike Snow

This song has played on loop for me since the beginning of Fall and I don’t plan on stopping it.

10. Absolutely – Ra Ra Riot

11. Marijuana – Zebra Katz

This is from the Broad City playlist. And if you haven’t watched it yet. Do it now! Some quality entertainment right there.

12. Oulala – Ana Tijoux

Ana Tijoux is my favorite French-Chilean artist, and only one whom I’m currently aware of. She’s great and I haven’t heard anything like her before.

13. Rainbow – O’Spada

Within in the first 15 seconds of this song my friend said, “this is the gayest song I’ve ever heard”. I think he forgot about the Scissor Sister’s “Let’s have a Kiki”, but regardless “Rainbow” is my current gay anthem.

 

Amsterdam to Bielefeld + Doggo

Airplane food is way better than I remember it to be. It wasn’t anything spectacular, just a grilled chicken salad, an assortment of fresh fruit, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and a fudge brownie. You do good things Delta. And on top of that, we got breakfast. Some greek yogurt, orange juice, and a roll with some creamy orange marmalade. The food wasn’t technically “free”, but I didn’t have to pay for it on the plane, so I’ll take it.

I landed in Amsterdam at around 11am. Or what felt like 4am to my midwestern mind. My cousin’s father picked me up and immediately brought me to lunch at a Dutch sandwich shop that couldn’t have sat more than fifteen people. This is where I heard spoken Dutch for the first time. I’m sure its development has some sort of rich history, but to me it sounds like mix between German and English. And a little goofy. Like, goofy in a good way.

The three hour drive to Bielefeld, Germany was probably gorgeous,  but I wouldn’t know. I was asleep for its entirety.

I was greeted by my cousin Emma and her younger brother Richie. We’ve all know each other for just over half my life. Then, my senior year of high school Emma lived with us for the first half of it. She became one of my closest friends and stayed so even when we were an ocean and a few countries away. Our plan was to meet up again within five years of her moving back to Germany. We’ve actually been quite fortunate as her family has come over to the states a few times since then, and we were able to meet up in San Francisco this past Summer. Though, this is the first time the roles have been reversed and where I’ve been the visitor.

She showed me around her neighborhood as we walked their dog, Gigi. Tomorrow I’ll be able to see more of the city.

After dinner (goulash and spaetzle), we walked a few blocks to a traditional german restaurant, Vahle Einmalig Anders, so I could have my first taste of real German beer. I’m still not a huge beer person, but I will say that I was a huge fan of the amber ale I got, especially the inch worth of foam on top that reminded me of some sort of foamy, hoppy, whip cream. I also ordered a Bavarian cream with raspberry coulis. Bavarian cream is similar in texture to a mousse, but it is thickened with gelatin to give it a little more of a spongy texture while still keeping it light and airy. It was so smooth and the coulis’ acidity cut the sweetness perfectly. The only thing that made my experience in Vahle better was the fact that there were so many dogs inside. I guess it’s common in Germany for restaurants to allow dogs inside with their owners.

After that, I thought our night was coming to a close when a large dog with a beautiful white coat made an appearance on our walk home. Their owner was nowhere to be found and it’s collar lacked any sort of tag. Emma, Richie, and I made quick friends with the doggo. After asking anyone on the street if they’d seen the dog before, I realized that I know almost no German, and that we probably weren’t going to find this poocher’s home like this. We walked back to my cousins’ house and they took the dog to the nearest animal shelter. I didn’t go with them, so I don’t know all of what happened, but I do know that the pooch was happily returned home.

Thank you for reading all these random thoughts of mine. Like I said in my last post, I don’t really know where this blog is going, but now I think it’s really just going to be an unedited travel journal of sorts. You’re all the greatest and I hope you get to pet a super cute dog in your near future.

Tschüß!

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Check-in Before Checking Out

Wow. It’s finally here. For about the past year and a half, this is what has helped keep my sights set forward and my feet moving. I remember hanging up the “Sights of Italy” calendar my mom got me before moving back to Gustavus this Fall. A picture of the Piazza della Signoria in the center of Firenze looked me in the face every morning this past September. I’m in a surreal state of mind that after tomorrow everything will be very different for me.

Tomorrow, I take off to Europe. I’ll start my trip by visiting my cousin and her family in Bielefeld, Germany, and spending a little time in Amsterdam with her. Then, on the 31st I fly to Florence, where I will be studying at Lorenzo de’ Medici. I’ll be taking Italian Language courses (doing my Italian roots proud), an Italian Crime Fiction course, and two different culinary classes, one on Mediterranean vegetarian cuisine and another on Italian nutrition and cooking.

Yeah, I still don’t believe all of that either. I’ve wanted to run away to Italy to become a chef since I first heard Giada de Laurentiis pronounce rigatoni “ree-gah-TOH-neh”. That was around the time I fell in love with food in general. Toss in an Italian family and memories of visiting our nonni’s sausage factory, and I’m hooked to the idea. I promise, I’m not going to go too ham gushing over how cool I think food is on this blog (my roommate gets enough during random 1am outbursts). What I am going to say though, is that food is an art. It utilizes all of the five senses throughout the culinary process. Food is also the best way I know how to exhibit love. My mother’s favorite artist, Brian Andreas, has a quotation that reads:

There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.

To love and to eat. Di amare e di mangiare. I’d say that’s a fairly sound way to live.

Even writing all of this down right now, I find it difficult to imagine what tomorrow will be like. I feel like I’m about to finish letting out a two and a half year long breath, and that I am about to take another one. A new life’s about to begin.

So, as you can probably tell by reading this, I have no idea where this blog is going. But, it’s going to be here. I’m just putting it all out there, wanting to share, and also wanting to document. Thanks for taking the time to read – and feel free to comment. I’d love to hear back from some of you.

Also, let me know if I’m doing this whole blog thing right.

Ciao!