Head South but Skip the Oktoberfest!

I kid you not, there’s more to the beautiful southern regions of Germany in general (not just castles and parks)  and Munich in particular than the large-scale, marathon beer gulping festival also known as the “Oktoberfest”. You can opt out and still enjoy your beer. For instance, you can sip your craft beer in a cosy environment and be courteously treated by your very own Italian beer sommelier. Again, I kid you not. 🙂 I have always associated sommeliers with starched white shirts, polite demeanours and wine!

At AMBAR BISTRO, in Tegernseer Landstrasse 25, 815411 Munich, you’ll be greeted by a very helpful and cheerful Italian beer sommelier with a passion for food and beverages.On offer are a range of local craft beers, wines (yes, they do really good wines as well) paired with small plates of Italian and Mediterranean finger food. It’s not just cheese and olives, small dishes of pasta and ragu were offered as well. The menu changes often so there is no chance of getting bored of the nibbles.

I’m not really a beer fan but the beer there is so rich and varied in taste to your everyday <insert-favourite-tap or supermarket bottle> beer that it will make a convert out of you, even if you lean more towards a good glass of vino in the evenings.

Craft Beers at Ambar Bistro
Craft Beers
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Yes, the label designs are interesting….

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The place is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall that’s inconspicuously located on a main street, full of shops and restaurants. I mistook it for an Italian cafe. I wanted a respite from the snow, some caffeine, free wifi and time to plan a route towards a nice dinner location. However, the charming sommelier, the warmth and the great food prompted us to stay and enjoy the sight of snow from the safe confines of our now, new favourite trendy bar.

If you are in Munich and overwhelmed by the options and want some clean, craft beer and mouthwatering nibbles, this is the place for you. Let me know what you think of it, if you do partake of the beer and dine there! 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Linger in Flingern

Dusseldorf – Flingern! 🙂

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I have taken a short blog posting break to nurse my rising panic about having to maybe leave Dusseldorf. So, here’s another ode to my favourite culinary city: Dusseldorf. It’s divided like many other cities into distinct areas with its own mini-legacies, history and habits. Today we’re going to focus on this area: Flingern. It’s the hippest place in Dusseldorf to breathe, live, eat and simply lounge around like a fat cat.

Lunching in Flingern

If you’re in Flingern in Dusseldorf around noon or later and you really fancy a bit of lunch, you’ll face this massive conundrum: Where should you dine? Where’s the best business lunch offer? You’re assailed by restaurants, cafes and little bistros. The answer to that question is: almost anywhere in Flingern. The options are endless and you can do no wrong. They’re all simply wonderful dining locations with good food, decent to above-average service and sometimes even great music.

Here’s my list  of favourites:

  1. Flurklinik (leave it to the chef to surprise you with the surprise special meal)
  2. Suzie Q (€6.90 for a set menu of soup or starter plus a main meal)
  3. a.nni (if you want a cold sandwich & an awesome coffee)
  4. Böse Chinese
  5. Luang Prahbang
  6. Hashi

Numbers 1 and 3 sometimes offer live music and happy hour cocktails in the evening. All 6 places have a more than decent wine list, so fear not about ordering a little wine in these places.

A Little Tribute to Flurklinik

(Or why you should wine and dine there at least once). It used to be a maternity hospital. There are cute, black and white photos of beaming parents with tiny tots on the wall, a small homage to its previous legacy. You can check out the hip baby clothing and adult clothing of the 60s. I even saw a picture of Chinese man in a suit. No casual or smart casual when greeting your first born, or second or third. Not sure how many kids the average family had in the 60s in Dusseldorf. You can also read the papers, listen to good music. I was lucky on my “do lunch in Flingern” day; they were playing Kitty, Daisy and Lewis. I really like the band although I would have liked it more if it was not on what seemed to be an endless-loop playlist. 😉

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This is what I had, a baked potato with creamy mushrooms in a buttery sauce and loads of salad. Yummy! 🙂

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One thing unique about the Flurklinik is that it offers not just daily specials but daily “surprise” specials. You get to order either a meat or vegetarian surprise special dish. This offer applies for both lunch and dinner. On the menu it’s listed as follows:

  • Leibgericht unserer Küche mit Fleisch oder Fisch (the Chef’s favourite meat or fish dish)
  • Leibgericht unserer Küche vegetarisch (the veggie alternative)

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Riding the Food Train

Dusseldorf

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I love living in Dusseldorf! It’s definitely the best place  to live in Germany when it comes to food. Yes, I reckon I am a bit prejudiced having kept my ass warm on the same sofa, in the same apartment, for the last decade in south Dusseldorf. A record for me in terms of staying put! Ok, but back to the story at hand. This post is an ode to my favourite food city: Dusseldorf.

It’s a food paradise, for hedonists, Epicureans, lovers of the exotic food treasure, like Chinese shredded frog noodle soup at Track21 or a cozy & affordable  British high tea in Dolcinella, or not-quite-kosher but close-enough kosher food at the Kurve, there’s no place better to nest & roost & wait to be culinarily tickled, than Dusseldorf.

Trams, Trains and Food

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I live in a small flat in the south close to the university and I have a favourite food route. I take the 701 tram close to the University. I use it a bit like a hop-on, hop-off city tour bus but instead of hopping off to go to a museum (we have tons here in Dusseldorf) or Cathedrals (ok, the Cologne Cathedral is in the other direction, but there are very famous churches in Dusseldorf too) I hop off for food. The 701, 704 and 707 from the Dusseldorf main station can take you to a dozen interesting destinations but you can also just hop on and get off when a cafe, bistro or restaurant catches your fancy. You’re bound to be tempted to stop. 🙂

I caught the 701 into town and stopped first at Poccino’s and then snuck a peak at Michele’s, which is just next door. They have daily specials for lunch and it’s a nice place for a business meeting, so I’d say dress smart if you’re headed there.

I was trailed by dead birds on my way once I got off at the stop closest to Poccino’s.  I have no idea why. Is it getting to be a bit too warm a winter? Are they confused? Are they rejects from a Hitchcock remake of the Birds film? I mourned the dead birds & found a new cafe in Nordstrasse (new only to me, it’s been around for a while) Cafe au Midi. It’s tucked away in a little corner alcove, practically secluded from the main street. It’s quiet, there’s a jewellery store, a fancy hairdresser’s and a dress shop (with very limited edition stuff) in that nook. What more could a girl ask for when on a lonesome trip into town? I strongly recommend you get your daily ration of coffee, cake and more here. Like Michele & Poccino, they have daily specials for both meat eaters (moi!) & also some vegetarian fare.

& I would walk 2.5 km & I would walk a 100 more

 

Singapore isn’t really known for its athletes or it’s athleticism. You can’t get us to walk, not often, not much. It’s too hot, too muggy, too humid, we say but we’ll walk miles for a particular dish that we’re hankering after. I had no such hankerings, I wasn’t even homesick, I was simply lucky! I live in Dusseldorf and there’s simply no where else better to live when it comes to food.

If you have the time and money, you could eat out in Dusseldorf every day, 365 days a year, 366 in any leap year & you still wouldn’t have discovered all that is to discover.

Guess what I discovered recently? FUYU in Immermanstraße has a tiny, little hole-in-the-wall bistro with great food and a very content-looking,  manly “large-size” chef. The food is great. I had the hot, sweet soya bean milk, with fried chicken, braised pork with rice and spring rolls. I know how bla the latter sounds, but this wasn’t bland or boring. When you bite into it you get this wonderful waft of sesame oil and there are thin strips of cooked, shredded chicken it. 🙂 Yum…

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What Do You Do with Leftover Pie Dough?

Have you ever made too much dough? I have, I often do, I attribute this to my Singaporean “kiasu“, you-never-know, it-might-not-be-enough, nature. So there you have it; I always wind up with a little extra dough on my hands. Hm…I just re-read that sentence and had to laugh…a little. Ok, I’m talking about pie dough, just to set the record straight. My pecuniary affairs are such that I’d never talk about extra dough.

So, last night chubby hubby and I sat down to dinner. We had a potato, pea & bacon pie. If you can spot the deer in the photo, good for you. I have no idea what he’s doing in our kitchen. He just pops up around X’mas and stares us down the whole time, meal after meal. He disappears in spring.

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We had a semi-sweet Italian white wine, which wasn’t what I was aiming for, really. The label said dry, the contents were, unfortunately, not but it did go surprisingly well with the pie.

I used the leftover dough to make a mini apple pie. I didn’t have a mini pie dish, so I used a creme brulee dish. I lined it with the pastry. I didn’t blind bake the case but you can do that if you want to. I’d aim for about 7-10 minutes. I then gently fried some apple slices in butter, added brown sugar to it and a dash of whiskey. Finally, I added some raisins and a handful of crushed organic lavender. It smelled good.

mini_apple_lavender_pieYes it was that tiny!

IMG_0336Here it is, up close…I wish you could smell the caramelized apple, whisky, lavender flavor.

When Homesick; Make Char Siew

I was born and raised in Singapore. I grew up with these national dishes, which are close to my heart:

  1. Char Siew
  2. Char Kway Teow
  3. Carrot Cake (if you’re from SG you know this ain’t no dessert.
  4. Chicken Rice
  5. & the list goes on & if it seems I’m a little focused on the dishes starting with c, I can only say it is a coincident. 🙂

So, recently, someone else who had a craving for char siew challenged me to make this at home because he didn’t want his apartment sullied . I had to air the flat for days. I made this dish in autumn, so no it was not fun running outside to allow the flat to “cool down”, but I digress.  I made or tried to make char siew. It was a lot of fun! I didn’t expect that & the result was quite satisfying too. 🙂

Round about the cauldron go;
In the pork belly fat throw.
Brown sugar, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd sweetness sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

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The caramelizing stage…

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The Char Siew “loaf” is now ready to be sliced. Get your chopsticks ready!

Going out of Your Way to Find Food Temples

If you get to Singapore, skip the museums, cathedrals & temples (just kidding). Of course you should add all that to your travel itinerary but trust me, you won’t need to dedicate numerous days to it. It’s a very tiny, little red dot of an island.

However, you really shouldn’t leave without praying (eating is after all a meditative exercise, or it should be) at Singapore’s food temple, the Lau Pa Sat: