Tipz and Trix

If you’re going to host a successful evening with invited guests, here are some tips:
-the guest list should be 2/3 people you’ve never met in person before,
-you should make a recipe you’ve never made before,
-get the groceries (including meat and dairy) from a store you’ve never been to before,
-spontaneously invite a woman you meet in the hallway of your building, even though she doesn’t speak English, has no idea what you’re talking about, and you’ve never seen her before.

The hallway woman didn’t show up to last Friday’s dinner, maybe because she’s actually a serviceperson from the utility company rather than a neighbor, or maybe because she doesn’t like eating strange food in stranger’s strange apartments, or maybe 30 minutes of notice just wasn’t enough. Anyhoodle, the people who did come over were fun and interesting and the sort of lovely folks who, when the prosecco opens with a vinegary hiss, will laugh and happily switch to red.

It’s funny, the sort of trade that goes on with dinner parties. I’ve asked people to trek to my abode, up four flights of stairs, to eat food that they may well hate and/or be allergic to, and to make small talk with other people who they may well hate and/or be allergic to. Guests are stepping into a minefield of unfamiliar customs (shoes on or off? am I supposed to eat these figs with my hands, or is there a fork and plate I’m just not seeing? can I ask the host to turn the music down if I can’t hear people talk?) In return, they bring music recommendations, wonderful company, wine, and chocolate chip cookies. Amazing.

My only real hostessing tip, besides being lucky enough to have great guests and a local store that sells surprisingly tasty chicken breasts, is to try to use a cup of cream per person when cooking. Add more salt than you usually would, make a little room on the coat tree for guest’s coats, remind your partner to put pants on before the guests are due to arrive, and have fun.


Welcome to Lamb Week at chez Rosenfert. It’s not, really, I only made two lamb dishes, but it sounds a whole lot sexier than Muesli Week, doesn’t it? Especially when every week is Muesli Week (if you know what I mean, heh heh.*)

*That’s me still trying to make Muesli Week sound sexy. Did it work? No? Hmmm…what if Muesli Week has coconut in it (if you know what I… oh, forget it.)

One lamb dish was unremarkable, but the other was remarkable! Remarks include:
The German: This lamb is delicious! It’s the most tasty meal I have ever had.
Me: It does taste pretty good. I think that the rice is undercooked, though, because there are crunchy bits.
German: I like those bits. It’s nice to have crunch.
Me: Your complimentometer is broken. Yesterday’s watery lentil soup was also the most tasty meal you’ve ever had. The walls of the castle of your credibility are crumbling.
German: …eating…
Me: Oh, I forgot there were dried figs in here. That’s what the crunchy bits are – fig seeds!
German: …eating…
Me: It’s OK for you to like this now that I’ve figured out that the rice is properly cooked.
German: Thank you.

Oh, he’s hilarious with his dry thank yous. The lamb was probably the best thing I’ve made since I got to Hamburg, so here’s the recipe. It is a stew with tomato, lemon and dried fig. Delicious! No, really! It’s good! Really! Damn it, now I can’t figure out how to tell you it really is worth a try. How about this: you will like it more than you like your second-favorite chicken recipe, and less than you like ice cream. More than you like the best apple juice you’ve ever had, but less than you like a hot water bottle in bed when it’s really cold out. It’s way better than Chelsea Clinton, but it’s no Michelle Obama (now there’s the kind of spokesperson we need for Muesli Week!)

Innuendo, or No Entiendo?

The German is tall, graceful, and smells good. He is intelligent, culturally sensitive, and easy to like. He is emotionally supportive and he makes me laugh. He’s wonderful but, let’s face it, he is no Mark Elia.
Today’s game:
Innuendo or No Entiendo – Does Mark Elia Make You Blush?
how to play: watch any of the following videos, and see if you can keep yourself from watching the rest.

The one that got me started: Boning a Chicken. My god, he’s good. I was prepared to be unimpressed, having just carved a roasted duck in pretty much no time flat thanks to a sharp new knife and equally sharp hunger pangs, but then I saw him take the wing off a chicken in one stroke. Mastery. Who knew that you could get a leg off a bird without resorting to poultry shears and a note-to-self about bleaching the undersides of the overhead cabinets?

This one is on butterflying chicken breasts. It’s notable because at 2:26 he gets kind of sentimental about his mallet.

Warning: the intro to this one says that Mark ‘is now going to show you the Frenching procedure.’

And just to test the possibility that it’s the knife skills rather than the man, here’s Corky showing you how to filet a flounder. Interesting, yes, but it makes me glad that I’m not in the same room.

More Mark: kind of boring one on cutting steaks, but wowza that is one sharp knife.

Ok, this game has to come to a close because I can’t type anything related to a ‘piece of meat’ anymore without laughing.

Things Are a Bit More Formal Here

My parents are coming to visit (hurrah!) and we’ve been talking a bit about how much more formal Germany is than the Colorado pig farm. Discussing the relative sartorial differences always reminds me of the time that brother George and cousin Jim and friend Wayne and I went to a bullfight in Madrid at las Ventas. The bullfights are a big social event and we’d heard that the Prince was going to be there. When we arranged for tickets, the concierge at our hotel puffed himself up and said, “This is the most important bullfight in Spain, which means it is the most important bullfight in the world.”
Worrying that we would feel a bit underdressed, and thinking that it might be rude to show up as our usual rumpled selves, I wore my least comfortable shoes, Wayne wore a sport coat, Jim wore a very fashionable button up, and George wore clean jeans. I suggested that my nice summer-weight striped linen scarf, doubled over and tied around the neck in a European loop, would be a casual-yet-suave look for George and might help him better blend into what was sure to be a formal, if festive, occasion. George suggested that I stop fucking with him. With that, I bring you today’s game:
Would Georgie Wear It?
how to play: take a long look at the picture below, and decide if my brother would wear what the model was wearing.

It's Not a Scarf, Really, It's a Neck Warmer

It's Not a Scarf, Really, It's a Neck Warmer

George looks very nice in black, and he enjoys being warm.
George is anti-scarf. Also, is that an argyle sweater vest? Seriously?

So that’s a no, unless we can somehow convince him that scarves are appropriate to any, and I do mean any, occasion…


It was totally worth searching for this picture for 2 hours today.

It was totally worth searching for this picture for 2 hours today.

That’s Thomas Kessler, the keeper for St. Pauli FC. They played Dortmund this weekend, and the Dortmund keeper had a scarf on, too. I couldn’t find a great picture of it, but the photo below will give you some indication of his overall style.

German Goalie Gives George OK to Wear Turtleneck in Public

German Goalie Gives George OK to Wear Turtleneck in Public

EPILOGUE: It’s Sunday evening, and the German and I just got back from a pretty terrific reggae show at Knust music hall, where we saw Warrior King and Turbulence. Warrior King came on first, before the crowd really filled up the place, so the hall was a little cold. What, might you ask, does a mid-50s Rastafari wear to play his first show in Germany in a chilly Hamburg club in February? Utilitarian navy blue wooly gloves and a matching scarf. Irie!

Hey, Ted!

Ted, did you know that you have a new favorite city? It’s Tulsa! Because Tulsa has a restaurant called Elote. And Elote has everything that is good in this world: fresh fish tacos, enchiladas that are light but delicious, sweet potatoes in addition to rice and beans for the sides, all the Mexican beers you can handle, and a wicked Bloody Maria with house-infused spicy tequila. The food’s good, it’s largely organic and locally sourced, the servers are friendly and quick, and it’s cheap.
But wait, Ted, you’re thinking that I forgot that other things are more important than good Mexican food and spicy brunch drinks. What’s more important than that, you ask? Two things: your health, and luchadores.
That’s why you need to start loving Tulsa, and more specifically the restaurant named after the kind of roasted corn on the cob that is always served with mayo. Because Elote restaurant not only has luchadores, the luchadores are the kind of luchadores that sponsor a 5k to benefit the YMCA. Nice, well-meaning luchadores.
But wait, you’re thinking that maybe it’s not worth a trip to Eastern Oklahoma just for a freaking enchilada after a quick run, right? Well, Ted, what if the 5k was the kind of 5k where the idea was to catch the luchadores, and they only had a five-minute headstart?
Would that be the best enchilada/spicy tequila/I-caught-my-very-own-luchador day ever?
Yeah, I thought so.

Until the next trip to Tulsa, let’s spend a little time with Strong Bad of homestarrunner.com fame:

Run, Strong Bad, Run!

Run, Strong Bad, Run!

Oh, and if you haven’t watched the HomeStarRunner intro, please please do.

Meat Maps

You know how people say that the point is not the destination but the journey? The German and I have been searching for a good butcher, and today we found it. Let us compare:
• Line of patrons out the front door,
• Smells freaking awesome – a combination of cold clean bone smell and warm smoky sausage smell,
• They raise their own meat,
• The meat is so beautiful it makes you want to cry.
• Found not one, not two, but three small butcher shops that specialize in wild game (wildfleisch), one of them with really beautifully aged guinea hens and rabbit,
• Found one huge meat warehouse that had endless lines of freezers containing everything from beef to antelope to kangaroo to 10-kilo bags of mixed ‘wildfleisch’ with no further elucidation of what animals went into the bag,
• Came upon this website, which has easily the awesomest graphic ever used to describe where in a given country your retail meat or fish shops are located.
While the journey gave us some laughs, let me cook my first rabbit, and brought me around to the wonders of guinea hen that looks kind of dry and rotten but is actually just really really tender, the destination is enough to make me turn to my newly minted resident visa and thank it for letting me live here.

Dear vegetarians, I love you, and you are welcome to visit anytime.

Dear carnivores, COME VISIT. NOW.

Inside Outside

The German and I made spring rolls today along with interesting miso-glazed turnips. The spring rolls had a peanut/honey/sesame oil/rice vinegar sauce that called for two teaspoons of fresh garlic. Oddly, the garlic kind of disappeared into a full, sweet/savory/nutty flavor. Here I am dorking out on getting my rolls nice and neat:

Too Much? Naaaa.

Too Much? Naaaa.

And here is the German after a long day at work, being game about having salad for dinner.
That's Too Much

That's Too Much

We took a break from rolling rolls to see what was going on outside the apartment. Some neighborhood kids were having a stroll.
Oh, cute! Matching outfits!

Oh, cute! Matching outfits!

Wait, it’s a parade! A night parade!
Upon Closer Inspection, Those Are Riot Police.

Upon Closer Inspection, Those Are Riot Police.

OK, so it wasn’t a parade, it was a tiny little riot. No cop cars got burned, no banks got smashed up, no Egyptian presidents got deposed. The main takeaway is that German anarchists are surprisingly organized.
We hung out the window taking pictures until we realized how incredibly uncool we looked, then we went back to making spring rolls.

The miso turnip recipe:
Cut up a big turnip into two-bite wedges (or use Japanese turnips and leave them whole,)
Put turnips in a pan with 2 cups water, add a Tbs of sugar and 3 Tbs of rice wine vinegar (or skip the vinegar and sugar and just use 2 Tbs mirin.)
Boil with the lid on until the turnips are tender, then take the lid off and let the water evaporate until almost gone.
Mix together 2 Tbs softened butter and 2 Tbs miso paste (I used a reddish one, probably lighter is better,) and add the resultant paste to the turnip pan. Remove from heat, stir to coat, and you’re done!
These were sweet and almost overwhelmingly flavorful: the kind of thing that tastes delicious when you’re hungry and kind of obscene when you’re not.

Funny Things in Hamburg Today

On a walk through the neighborhood today, there was a concert poster that caught my eye. The name of the band?


Farther into the walk, I stopped by the flower shop to get some tulips. One of the other patrons had a cute wriggly little dog, who was wearing a sweater with the logo of the local football club:

Bad-Assery and Doggie Sweaters, My Football Club Has It ALL

Bad-Assery and Doggie Sweaters, My Football Club Has It ALL


Then I called the German Very Official Office to request an appointment for a 30-minute measure of stern disapproval for having almost but not quite overstayed my visa. The call started with a formal recorded invitation to stay on the line only if you absolutely had to, gave several warnings that I didn’t understand but which sounded serious, and then put me on hold. The hold music? A sprightly instrumental version of La Cucaracha!

Waaah Waah Waaah

Woe is me. I am sick in ways that we aren’t going into. Let’s play:
Point to the Turning Point
how to play: think about what sounds good to eat when your stomach is upset, and what foods cause upset stomach. In the following list of foods I’ve eaten in the last 72 hours, try to guess when I started feeling ill.
• Sausage from the German’s parents, very dry and very garlicky and absolutely delicious
• Cheese from the downstairs cheesemonger, stinky
• Vollkornbrod (heavy brown whole wheat bread)
• Cheese from the Austrian market, so good we accidently bought a half-kilo
• Sausage coated with dried herbs in tiny links, also Austrian and made from venison, I think
• Volkornbrod
• Sausage and Cheese on Vollkornbrod, for breakfast on the way out the door to farm country
• Cheese from the farmstand in the Holsteiner region, some fresh and some aged
• Sausage from a different farmstand, but probably made out of Holsteins.
• Cheese of the super strong variety, billed as a German specialty,
• Sausage, smoked, made with red wine
• Cheese and sausage on Vollkornbrod, odds and ends from earlier meals
• Weak mint tea
• Bland crackers
• Tiny sips of Coke

Easy, no?
I’ve spent the last day moping around the house, feeling sorry for myself because there’s delicious cheese and sausage everywhere and all of it is suddenly repugnant. Butter doesn’t sound good, bacon doesn’t sound good, not even pudding sounds good. Eggs are too smelly, yoghurt is too strong, chocolate toffees are too much work to chew.

I am feeling very wan.

Oh my god, ya’ll, help me: I think I’ve gone vegan.