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This is how to celebrate New Years in Germany

Happy 2013 everyone!  I spent my new years eve with friends and got to see an excellent fireworks show at a local pub called the Maulwurf in Stuttgart.  Every year they do a pretty awesome show.  Here in Germany fireworks are legal to purchase and use during new years.  I’ve attached the video I took during the show.  It is a little long, but totally worth the time to see the craziness that ensued.

I hope everyone has a great start to the new year.  I know I can’t wait to see and do so much more in my career, personal, and travel life.  Happy New Year!!

Munich, they know how to give you some Christmas markets

Last week started the personal quest to see some of the best Christmas markets, oh and see if I can follow the schedule I made up to.  First on the list was München (Munich).  Like so many of my friends, we love going to Munich.  It is a truly an international city, which as I found out knows how to do some Weihnachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets).

Going to check out this market was an idea by John, he mentioned it to me and our friend Anna.  He told us they have a lot scattered through the city, along with a gay one called Pink Christmas.  We were totally excited, I mean its Munich, who doesn’t love Munich, then you mention Christmas markets and a gay one, you know its going to be a good time.

The plan was to leave on Friday, maybe see a few things that night, do up the town Saturday, with a nice brunch Sunday, and finish by seeing some more, then come back in the early evening.  I was ready for this trip, we all talked it up, however I learned a very good lesson.  I need to stop being a slow ass.  I won’t go into the long story about how I missed my train to Munich with John, Mike, Anna, and Adam, but I learned that I need to always always run for a train.  In any case, I did make it to Munich, just not with group.   I had to buy a new ticket, on a slower train, that didn’t have plugs nearby.  By having to take that train, I did also run into the other people I invited on the trip.  Funny thing about running into them, that was the only time I saw them the entire trip.  I still need to find out what happened there.  I know it has to be a good story there.

With all of that done, the markets are the big story in it all.  It was a four man and a lady mission to see the sights and sounds.  Oh and probably eat, drink, and be merry.  Can you say Gluhwein?

The Marienplatz Market

The main market is in the Marienplatz.  This makes sense because this is the main street.  When you come to Munich, everyone has to go here, its almost a rule of thumb.  I’ve been to Munich three times in the last six months, been there every time.  One thing that is always interesting to me are the Christmas trees.  Every market in every city has a big tree.  I mean in our neighborhood, we have a big tree outside of our house.  Here in the Marienplatz you can buy ornaments, candles, clothing, various pottery (pictures below), along with some good food to buy as well.  They actually sell a fruit cake there that’s not your crappy American style.  You know the one, no one ever wants, but you get it for Christmas every year from someone.  We walked through it fairly quickly that day.  It was early in the day, but it was packed for sure.  Even though it wasn’t the best weather at all.  This doesn’t ever matter because Germans will be out for sure.

The Mittelaltermarkt (Medieval market)

Seeing a Medieval market is always a great time.  I love seeing the people in their period outfits.  Apparently Adam has multiple medieval outfits.  I think I’ve seen some pictures that confirm this.  What do you find here?  Well, you can get some pretty solid jewelry, real medieval clothing, do you want some weaponry to truly get medieval on that ass?  You can find it there.  Do you want some pork, then go find a nicely roasted pig on the spit?  Maybe fish is your thing, well, they are smoking various fish.  When I go to these things, I really just want to eat, like everything.  At these things, they sell Met (sounds like mead).  Its a honey wine, if you can stand some whiskey, then get a little of that, probably don’t really need it, the flavor is perfect on its own.  I am completely amazed to see the awesome food fire ovens, I am a bread lover, when I see these things, then see bread, I feel like I’m in heaven.

Pink Christmas

When John told us that Munich had a gay Christmas market, you have to go and see it for the pure intrigue of it.  It’s located in the Glockenbachviertel which is a trendy area in Munich, that is known to some as being the gay district.  It has a lot of shops, restaurants, and bars.  Pink when we first got there wasn’t impressive, but it did pickup for sure.  According to their site, yes they have a website, they do cabaret shows, and a lot of other events.  The night I got there, they just had a DJ.  Now Pink wasn’t the greatest thing in the world.  A friend of mine that went to it later the next week, said it was lame.  I thought it was a cool concept, pink Christmas trees, cool clothes, you can get some awesome items, John got some cool postcards, along with a few lanyards, rainbow colored of course.  Not to mention Anna got some pretty nice earmuffs.  I did meet two cool girls, who came out and hung out with us for the night, the one girl had a really cool boyfriend, who came out later.

I won’t go through all of the other markets.  Even though I only really had two or three more, but real quick we also went and saw the manger scene they have setup by Odeonsplatz, where they also have a Christmas market setup there.  You’ll hit the market first, then see the manger scene.  Now Germans do things really well, but they also odd things.  You’ll see in the video I’ll be putting up.  We also hit the English Gardens on Sunday after having brunch.  The English Gardens is also somewhere you have to go to.  Its nice during the summer, cold in the winter, but the crowd there on a Sunday isn’t surprising since the market was nice.  A lot of different items that I hadn’t seen at the other locations.  Nice little ornaments, interesting clothing for various things, and toys.

In doing the walk through the rest of the garden, I was introduced into just plain wildness.  As you can see below, that is a guy surfing in the rive stream thing they have there.  According to John this is normal.  They do in the winter.  I know I’m not a big swimmer, OK, I can’t swim well at all, but I would never do this.  Its the wintertime, the water is pretty much who knows how cold.

Munich was fun and it always is.  With this weekend down, if you are following my schedule from my last post, then you know what I have coming next.  Its not the warmest time of the year, but when you are living where I am, you know you can always find a good time.

Pictures from the trip

The most organized thing I’ve ever done, my Christmas market schedule

It’s December and do you know what that means? If you don’t, then you don’t live in Europe or Germany for that fact. It’s one of the most interesting times during the winter.  Christmas markets (in German its Weihnachtsmarkthave started.  What is a Christmas market you may ask? They are great reason for you to not go to the mall or any other random place.

The Christmas market allows you to do a lot different things.  First of all you can find gifts for your friends and family, get oraments for your tree, oh and try out some very food and drinks.  Now if you are looking for awesome electronics, then this isn’t your spot.  You will find simple things, like socks, shirts, kitchen stuff, and a lot of other random things.  Last year I bought my dad a pair of socks, along with finding some very cool necklaces, oh a cool ring.  The thing for me was the fact it wasn’t crazy expense.

I know some of you might be thinking, “Isn’t it cold outside?” Yes, in some cases it will be snowing, freezing like hell, and frankly there is no reason to be out.  However, you can find warm drinks and food pretty much everywhere. What’s the best drink to get? Can you say Glühwein (Mulled wine)?  What is this Glühwein I speak of?  Its warmed wine, normally red wine that has sugar, orange peel, and other spices mixed in.  Some people think its to sweet, like a few friends of mine, but when you are freezing outside, its a tasty thing.  You can also get some kinderpunch, hot chocolate, or other warm drinks to.

Now for this years markets I’ve decided to do something way different.  I have come up with the fact I want to see almost 10 markets, OK, probably going to be five to seven, but 10 is a nice round number.  I have two that are very accessible, those being the Stuttgart and Ludwigsburg markets.

This is what makes it the most organized thing I’ve ever done.  I have come up with a spreadsheet, listed the ones I want to see, put down dates and I’m pretty much not flexible, unless there is a very good reason to be.  I went to Munich last weekend, pictures and my tale are coming soon.  I seriously can’t wait to see some of the markets that I’m planning to see.  Check out my schedule below.  This is seriously going to be an awesome December!

My Christmas Market Schedule for December 2012

Esslingen Christmas Market – Friday, 7 December 2012

Ludwigsburg Christmas Market – Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Mannheim Christmas Market – Sunday, 16 December 2012

Munich Christmas Market – Friday, 30 November to Sunday 2 December 2012

Nuremberg Christmas Market – 21 or 22 December to either 22 or 23 December 2012

Strassbourg, France Christmas Market – No Date set yet

Stuttgart Christmas Market – Thursday, 13 December 2012

Tübingen Chocolate Festival – Saturday, 8 December 2012

For more information on Christmas Markets in Germany click here.

Less than 24hrs in Bamberg with a side of Smoked Bier

Over the Columbus Day weekend I decided to do something different.  That thing for me was to take a Friday off, which gave me a four day weekend.  I didn’t know where I wanted to go, I just knew it had to be a nice place, where I hadn’t been before, oh and it needed to have decent weather.  In October that’s asking a lot.

The first location was Basel in Switzerland, the second was Bamberg in Southeast Germany, in the state of Bavaria.  Not only would you find Bamberg, but Munich as well in this region of Germany.

The trip to Bamberg was spurred on by the fact that our friend Chris preparing to move back to the Michigan, so our friend John suggested Bamberg.  What’s in Bamberg you may wonder.  That’s simple, Rauchbier (smoked beer), along with other things.  If you ever wondered if it was possible to get a beer with a smoky flavor, the answer is yes.  In Bamberg you can get Rauchbier at a lot of different places.  They have multiple breweries, so the bier will be different, the atmosphere will be solid, and you will have some fun.

Drinking wasn’t the only thing to do.  Bamberg has a lovely area of shopping, the marktplatz (marketplace), which allows you to see great sites.  Like the shot I took as you are walking over the bridge towards the marktplatz.

I also ran into something I hadn’t ever seen before.  Locks on the wires as you walk across the bridge.  I had a friend tell me later that couples who are getting married put them on there.  I had never seen it before.  It was pretty interesting.

It was made more interesting listening to John come up with random stories on how the couples met that put the locks on there.  I could buy some of what he was saying.  I mean how in the world are we really supposed to know.

To get to Bamberg train is the best method.  In our case it was four of us that took a regional bahn train, on Deutsche Bahn.  It is about a 3 hour train ride, which cost about €10.  A very cheap ticket because Deutsche Bahn has the happy traveler ticket.  Probably one of the coolest things to use.

The ride to Bamberg allows you to see the beautiful country side of Germany.  Something I don’t think you ever really get to see in America.  This along with wondering at each and every station stop, “Where are we exactly?”

The time there wasn’t long enough, but it was a good trip.  We ran into four guys who were visiting from the states, oddly enough one of them was from Michigan.  I was wearing my Tigers hat, and for some reason John, who is also from Michigan to, Chris and I were talking either Tigers or Lions, so the guy overheard us.  It still amazes me the number or people from Michigan that I’ve met here.

If you are looking for a weekend or even a easy Saturday trip, Bamberg is the place to go.  I’ve included a link below that lists the various breweries in town.  I have to say you should try out the Brauerei Spezial as your first stop.  You will feel a little odd because when we walked in you are in a place with older Germans, but as I’ve come to figure out, no matter where you go, they are going to look at you weird, but that’s Germany.

Check out the rest of the pictures of the trip below.  Have a great week ahead!

The Bamberg Trip

List of Bamberg Breweries

A cocktail to start the weekend with

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We all have those weeks in which you just want it to end ASAP.  For me that was this week.  Sometimes living in Germany can be the best thing in the world, while other times it can just be a little annoying.  In any case I wanted a cocktail to start my weekend off right.  That’s where I remember a wonderful cocktail I had in Frankfurt back in October at the Luna Bar.  It was a ginger julep.  A few of my friends know my love of ginger, so once I saw this, I was sold.

Now a traditional mint julep, which you would generally find during Kentucky Derby time, will have mint, sugar, and of course bourbon.  However for the one at Luna Bar, they used vodka, mint, ginger, lime juice, and soda.  Funny thing is I didn’t realize this until after I made my own, especially since every recipe I looked for to make mine said bourbon.

You have several different ways to make a ginger julep.  For this time around I made a ginger syrup, which has a great flavor.  Put this together with the mint (which we are growing ourselves) and the at this point crystallized ginger, you get something good for sure.

It turned out to be pretty solid.  It totally helped me through my Friday evening and into my weekend.  I’ll have to try it out with vodka soon though.  I’m sure the flavor profile will be very good.

Ginger Julep

  • 5 sprigs of mint
  • 2 lime wedges
  • 3 pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 1 ounce of ginger syrup, recipe to follow
  • 3 ounces of bourbon, in this case I used Jim Beam
  • Soda water
  • Ice
  • Mint, for garnish
  • Crystallized ginger, for garnish

Combine the mint, lime wedges, and ginger syrup in a tall glass.  With a muddler or the end of a wooden spoon, crush the three ingriedents together until you smell the aroma of the mint, along with it being well broken down.  Add a little ice, then the bourbon, stir together, then add a little more ice, followed by topping it off with the soda water, stir slightly.  Garnish with mint and ginger.

Ginger syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 ounces of ginger, thinly sliced

In a heavy-duty saucepan, combine all the ingredients.  Bring the water to a slight boil, letting the sugar dissolve, then turndown the heat to medium-low.  Let the ginger syrup go for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat and less cool slightly.  Then strain the syrup to a jar putting a lid on it or a squeeze bottle that you can cover.  Keep the ginger since now it is crystallized, which means you can use it for your drinks, or to get as a snack.  Chill the syrup until you are ready to use it.  Syrup should be stored chill and will last you for 2 or 3 weeks.

Yield: 1 drink

Gooey Bacon Brownies, yes please!

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I think it is fair to say that a lot of people love bacon.  Some like it crispy, some will like it a little chewy. While others love a nice maple or applewood flavor.  Once you have gone and decided all of that, you can decide where and how you are going to eat it.  You can put it on a burger, eat it in some pasta, or of course just eat it alone.  However did you ever think of putting into a brownie recipe?

It was a few months ago and I was looking for a present to give to my mom for her birthday.  I decided to give her a few books for the Kindle fire I bought her for Christmas.  While doing this I came across 21 Bacon Dessert Recipes by Diane Dixon.  It has a lot of recipes that are pretty interesting, like putting bacon into chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal cookies.  Using it in cupcakes, along with your “standard” chocolate covered bacon.

One of the first few recipes are the Gooey Bacon Brownies with Caramel Sauce.  That’s right brownies with bacon in them.  However they have a twist.  You are making a bacon caramel sauce, then layer it over the brownie batter.  This gives it the brownies their gooeyness, along with keeping them very moist   and pure melt in your mouth texture.

Now I changed a few things in the recipe.  One of the main things is the fact that I added a few tablespoons of bourbon, in this case it was vanilla bourbon.  Once the brownies are done, and have cooled for a little bit, you get that fabulous aroma of the bourbon and the vanilla.  This is of course along with the normal chocolatey brownie smell, not to mention the caramel and bacon.  Basically you have a lot things going on here.

These brownies take about 35-45 minutes to cook, but you will want to under bake them, because once they come out, you will let them cool for about 20-30 minutes, then for clean cutting refrigerate them for an hour or more.

I’ve made them several times now and each time they go very quickly.  Try them out, they will be a very big hit for you.

Gooey Bacon Brownies with Caramel Sauce

Prep time: 20 minutes                    Cook time: 35-45 minutes,

Ingredients 

  • 2 slices of bacon, A thick cut is best
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in to pieces
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla bourbon (optional)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, a mix of either 1 cup cake flour, or a mix of a 1/2 cup of cake flour, with whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

Cooking Method

Caramel Sauce: In a saucepan, fry two slices of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and add cream to hot pan and let cool. When bacon is cool, crumble or chop finely.

In a larger pan, heat the sugar over high heat until the mixture is liquid. Mix in the butter and the cooled bacon cream. Stir until the butter is melted. Add the chopped bacon. Remove pan from heat and let the mixture cool thoroughly.

Brownies: Preheat the oven to 350° F (175° C) degrees. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper that covers the bottom and sides of the pan. If using foil, grease the foil with butter, if using parchment, then just butter the pan and lay paper in the pan.

Melt the butter and chocolate chips by microwaving in a microwave-safe bowl in 15 second intervals. Stir after each melting. Add the cocoa and mix until smooth. Next add in the eggs one at a time. Add the sugar, vanilla, bourbon, if using, along with the flour and baking powder.  Stir until combined.

Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Over top of that, spread a third of the bacon caramel in an even layer, if caramel is stiff, reheat slightly to allow for easier spreading. Spread the rest of the brownie batter over the top and finish with the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the brownies.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  The brownies will have a nice rise, along with bubbling.  You can stick a toothpick in an area where there is no caramel, if comes out slightly clean, remove from the oven, and let cool.  For clean cutting refrigerate for at least 1 hour, then cut into squares.

Yield: 12 to 14 servings

The weekend that was

Trying this out

This is a little late, but welcome to a review of my weekends here in Deutschland.  This time there are around are only a few things that I saw either while I was out and about or hanging with friends.

It was a very delightful weekend as always here in Stuttgart.  I got to try out a new a restaurant Ambiente Africa, this was a very interesting place.  Since we didn’t make a reservations, getting a seat wasn’t easy, so we sat in the traditional seating.  This consisted of us sitting on the ground, Indian style or something like that.  This area along with a few other spots were covered by sand.  This was pretty cool.  The food was pretty solid, even though I probably should’ve gotten something else just because I wanted something with more sauce.  In any case though the food was very tasty.  The person I was out with had something that was pretty good as well.

Pictures from the weekend

Just like on any weekend I have around town, a few interesting pictures are taken.  This weekend is no different.

It started Friday night before I went to dinner.  The guy in front of me at the grocery store had on no shoes.  Yes boys and girls, no shoes.  He was buy some wine, along with a chocolate easter bunny.  It was funny that the bunny he bought he actually gave to the cashier.  That was pretty cool.

Saturday the shops in Stuttgart were open until midnight.  Now when places are open like this, you know they are looking for a big night.  This is a very nice market, where you can find some good food at a higher price range.

Finally for the pictures, my mom made a chocolate cake, with a cream cheese icing.  It was very tasty, which got some very good responses.  Gotta love a good cake.  Recipe will follow very soon.

Interesting Music from the day

In the Schoßplatz you are able to find various performers.  This time around was a small group doing Dave Brubeck’s Take Five.  Didn’t sound to bad I don’t think.

Well, another weekend is about to start very soon for me.  The weather is looking nice.  Watch out for some good stuff to happen.  If you see anything cool.  Drop it in the comments.

Take a victory lap with Raekwon at Sonar on Friday the 13th

ImageIf you aren’t worried about having a black cat walking in your path, a mirror breaking, or if you aren’t to busy looking for that rabbits foot, then one of the best MC’s around, Raekwon is going to be at Sonar in Baltimore this Friday the 13th.

Raekwon  has been on the scene for a while now, since 1992 to be exact.  Raekwon is known by a few other names as well.  His real name is Corey Woods, then he is also called Chef Raekwon, and the Chef along with being a member of the famed Wu-Tang Clan, where he continues to record with them at various times.  He also founded the record labelIce H20 as well.

His music and style range from a variety of taped mixes, sample tracks, and just old school rap songs, which has some traces to Mafioso rap, a hardcore hip hop style of rap and hip.  This contiues on as Raekwon is on his newest tour, Unexpected Victory Tour.  This tour has coinsided with the release of his newest mixtape by the same name at the  beginning of this year.  The tour will take him across the country, which stops at all the East coast hot spots.  As you can see in the video below, this is going to be a very interesting tour.

Read more…

Getting back at it

Its been a while since I’ve written on my blog here.  As a part of me getting back at it.  I’m going to start and write more.  You might wonder why?  The answer is simple, I like to write, however finding the time to do it is the issue.  That changes now.  From this point forward you’ll be able to find interesting things that are going on with me, while I’ve began a new journey.  That journey being my life here in Germany.

That’s right for those of you that don’t know, I live in Germany right now.  It is a lovely place to be, I think everyone should make a trip to Germany or somewhere in Europe at some point in your life.

So this is my start.  My return to something I like to do.  I admit this really isn’t anything special, but check back and you’ll see so much more.

Michael Jackson, dead at age 50, the concerts we’ll never see

Obit Michael JacksonTo say that today around 6 pm ET when I received a call from my mother asking if I heard the news about Michael Jackson, I was shocked, would be a complete understatement.  Today the music world has lost arguably one of the most influential artists ever.

Michael Jackson, The King of Pop, died today at 2:26 pm Pacific time at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA.  Mr. Jackson was preparing for concerts in London in July.  This concert tour was going to be Jackson’s last concerts, with the tour being branded as “This Is It.”  When the tour was announced tickets for the first concerts were breaking ticket sellinghistory in London.  Jackson had being rehearsing constantly for this set of concerts.  He was working out with TV/fitness star Lou Ferrigno.  Jackson in some ways was training like an athlete. 

Now that the “King of Pop” is no longer with us, the world is going to be left wondering, what were his final concerts going to be like?  With all the training, rehearsing, and other responsibilities of his life, you are left wondering, “What if?”

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