Maui 2015 – The last full day

My last day on Maui was pretty relaxed. I started by driving to Maalea Harbor again to check out the aquarium and its seafood restaurant ((no kidding)) and was pleasantly surprised.

The aquarium was fun, educational and a nice place to just sit down and relax. I honestly just spent half an hour sitting on a bench and reading, just enjoying myself.

 

When it was reasonably lunch-timey I went to check out the restaurant and damn! For an inside-tourist-trap ((zoos, aquariums, amusement parks etc usually have interesting ideas about food prices)) the service and price range was actually amazing.

And the food! Delicious!+ Just look at this beauty!WP_20150528_12_35_01_Pro

 

The rest of the day was spent driving around a few places that I’d had recommended for swimming, snorkeling, etc, but I guess traveling alone I should’ve prepared for those things differently. I didn’t regret it though. In the evening I went back to Whaler’s Village, Leilani’s again and decided to splurge for one last time.
It was glorious. I did have a very good waitress and probably was just way to comfortable for my own good, so I got a Mango Flow, got talked into trying the best sword fish tacos I could imagine and finished up with their sorbet trio, strawberry, mango-papaya and dragonfruit. That and the scenery made for a nice final evening of my vacation. Oh, and I also got to help recently arrived Australians to plan their time on Maui, confirming what the waitress told them about it being rather chilly up on Mt. Haleakala. That was fun!

And that pretty much wraps up my vacation. I mean, yes, I checked out of the hotel the next day, had a rather nice breakfast in Lahaina, got rid of my trusty rental jeep and flew back to San Francisco. I also got really lucky because my baggage had arrived with an earlier flight since I had checked in so early. That way I managed to get the last of the free shuttle buses to the hotel. It was after midnight, after all. The nearby McDonalds being closed put a dampener on things because I WAS kinda hungry, but what can you do?

The next day ways spent getting from San Francisco to Frankfurt, from Frankfurt to my parents place and from my parents place to mine. The next week was filled with the mother of all jetlags, and after a while I started blogging and BOOM, here we are, see you next time!

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Maui 2015 – Sunrise on Mt. Haleakala

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When going to Maui, bring gloves, a sweater, a jacket and a warm hat. You’ll need it. Trust me. Also book a trip up to Mt. Haleakala at sunset, it’s worth it. Also I’m not kidding about the temperatures. You’re roughly 10.000ft above sea level, it will be around freezing and there’s windchill to consider.

If you drive yourself, which I don’t recommend, leave at roughly 1am. Drop off your car, go to the wall on the right side of the visitor center/shelter thing. Gloves. Don’t forget gloves. Wait. Enjoy.
Seriously, though, book a bus tour. It’s a lot safer, we passed an accident on the way back down, you don’t want to be those guys. Also the bus drive I had was rather fun. I almost missed pickup though, because my travel voucher/confirmation said 2:45am and the phone in my hotel room rang at 2 sharp. Can’t remember the last time I got dressed this fast, luckily I had everything laid out. The bus trip (picking up people at various hotels included) up to the national park and the parking lot near the observation place was roughly 2 hours 30. Our bus driver chatted away happily, told stories, dropped us off, drove us back down again, told more stories, stopped at photo opportunities and restroom breaks. And of course for the really nice breakfast that was included. And he chatted A LOT, but it was fun. Even if all of us were dead tired. Apart from that there’s not really much to tell, so I’ll just leave you with the pictures, right?

Naturally I didn’t do that much for the rest of the day. What I did do was have dinner at the Hula Grill in Whaler’s Village. A Mai Tai, flatbread and a ginormous Hula pie. Dying just thinking about the tastiness.

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Maui 2015 – Road to Hana

I guess after leaving the continental states, the roadtrip title format won’t work anymore. And yet on my first day after arriving on Maui I did what? The famed Road to Hana trip. Staying at Kaanapali Beach I had to cross the island first, or I probably would’ve had to take two days for this thing.

Word of advice for everyone planning this trip: Leave early. Really early. Also don’t do it on Memorial day or any other holiday. It (probably) was more crowded than normal, and not being able to stop at some of the beautiful places, because the turnouts are already crammed with cars, will put a dampener on your mood. Still, driving almost all around Maui is a fun thing to do, and rather pretty. Especially the part after Hana, where the road gets adventure-y in some parts, and maybe not all that advisable with a non 4×4 car, depending on the weather. Even when it’s full of tourists, there’s plenty of places to stop, do a brief hike or check out a waterfall, beach or park like the Garden of Eden Arboretum where you might even find something you’ve seen in Jurassic Park.

 

Oh. And when on Maui, rent a Jeep. Because sometimes the road can be…adventurous.

 

You might also be persuaded to turn off at Brudda Hutt’s in Hana, for a traditional plate lunch cooked in a food truck. If you want cheap food, and lots, and have a robust stomach, go for it. If not, well it’s not something I would go out of my way to eat. At least I didn’t feel bad about eating an expensive steak at the hotel while watching the sun set that evening.

So that was kinda nice….

Roadtrip 2015 – No whales. Again.

After my disastrous experiences with trying to see whales up north I’d booked a whale watching boat trip for one of the days in San Francisco. The trip was pretty nice.

We passed under the Golden Gate Bridge twice ((obviously)) and coming back the weather was pretty good.

I saw plenty of birds, seals, sealions, even a few dolphins briefly.

Not.

A.

Single.

Whale.

To be fair, just before we got back into the bay, someone (even several people) allegedly saw a whale spout. We hung around a bit, someone saw it again, but I didn’t even see that.

So there’s that. The crew was nice and knowledgeable, though, explained a lot of stuff about the animals we saw and all that. But after a few hours I was seriously tempted to throw the captain overboard. Every now and then he’d go on the PA and shout “LET’S FIND A WHALE” followed by some other motivational bullcrap, always in the same, forced eager tone. Given my whale-related frustration on the trip that got old preeeetty quick.

But here, have a digest of the animals I did see. I liked that part, a lot of birds you usually don’t see and all that.

And that was it. Since Maui ((I’ll take you there in a few days)) was out of season my ((realistic)) chances of seeing a whale on this vacation where crushed. Again. But the day wasn’t over yet. In fact it got really awesome. I went back to the hotel to relax a bit. And, basically, wait. Reading. WP_20150523_001While that is always nice, it wasn’t the point. The point was, today wasn’t only my last full day in San Francisco, it was also the day I was scheduled to meet up with the lovely, awesome and delightful ((you should hear her laugh. ;-) )) Amira Makansi. If you don’t know her, she’s co-creator of the SEEDS book series, which you should check out.

Anyway, she took it upon herself to meet up with me, despite fighting off the remainder of what sounded like a pretty nasty cold and picked me up to have dinner in Japantown.

It.fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

fried and smoked eggs, dumplings

Was.

Ramen.

Ramen.

So.

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green tea crème brulée

Good.

And I’m not only talking about the food.

I really enjoyed spending time with Amira and hope to get to do that again. On either continent.

Bye, see you on Maui!

Roadtrip 2015 – Meeting up in San Francisco

After three days of constantly being shunned by cats and not being danced for by the bird, Cairn finally had to let me go. It was time to see new places and people, and give the cats a break from hiding. I waited a bit to avoid the worst of the traffic and stopped twice on my way from Sacramento to San Francisco. Once at my probably last chance to get Chick-Fil-A on this road trip. ((It was okay for chicken based fast food. Would not go out of my way to have it again.))

The second stop was right before going down past Vallejo, but nothing spectacular happened there. The weather was so-so, no animals, the view was mediocre so I did the next thing on my schedule. I crossed the Bay Bridge and entered San Francisco.

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Sadly it was still a little hazy, so the view from Twin Peaks, which was not exactly optimal. Driving up through those steep streets was VERY interesting though. Thank photoshop for clearing up the haze and thank automatic cars. I’ve driven stick all my life, but that …

EosRoadtrip 942 EosRoadtrip 952After that I headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf to check into my hotel. Took me only two rounds around the block to find the entrance to the $50-a-night-parking garage. I was rather happy that I’d only need it for one night. Next up, after freshening up at the hotel was a new exciting meet-up.
Justin, who I used to play Eve Onlin with, had immediately started preparing when he heard I’d be coming to California and forced his brother to join him on a 6 or 7 hour drive from Lake Arrowhead just to meet up with me. And get back home the next day because they had to be at a wedding. You should totally check out his stuff, he’s an amazing artist. And a really cool guy.
We met up in the hotel lobby and he admitted that it felt sort of like a first date. Well, yeah, it can be interesting meeting people in person for the first time. We got over that fairly quick, had a stroll along the Embarcadero, checking out the piers, the sealions until we got back to Pier 39 to eat at Bubba Gump’s. I’d totally recommend that. Depending on where you are (I assume) you’ll always get tourist trap prices, but the quality, service and atmosphere are worth it. Just check out the slideshow, you’ll see what I mean. Well, part of it.

The Coronarita was excellent and so was the food. And the company of course. After we finished stuffing our faces and got our souvenirs stowed away at our hotel rooms we ended the day in a nearby pub with a few beers.

And thus endeth my first daye in ye olde San Francisco. Or something like that.

 

Roadtrip 2015 – Yosemite

While Cairn’s cat continued to shun meEosRoadtrip 755 I got a big dose of hospitality today. After starting the day with a berry big breakfast at the Black Bear Diner, my awesome hosts drove me all the way to Yosemite National Park to take pictures of rocks and waterfalls and squirrels and stuff. We had tons of fun on this road trip within the roadtrip even if the weather wasn’t ideal at times. Vanity Plates and bumper stickers provided some entertainment as well, but the main attraction was the quite beautiful scenery of the national park itself. And some of the fattest squirrels I’ve ever seen, darting around between the visitors protecting their sandwiches from them at the visitor center. I didn’t take a picture of those, though. No fatshaming squirrels. ((also my camera was in the car at the time))

As you’ll see in the slideshow below, Yosemite is worth a look even when it isn’t bright blue sky all around, so here’s what we saw gallivanting about the park itself!

After seeing all that we drove back Sacramento-wards, only stopping to pick up our well-deserved dinner at this place:

EosRoadtrip 898“Wait, what?” the non-US ones of you will say. Wiener Schnitzel? In the States? As fast food, by the looks of it?

Nope. It’s a hot dog chain.

“So what?” the Americans not “in-the-know” will say.

Let me explain.

THIS is a Wiener Schnitzel.

click me

 

Olli’s Saturday School – German cookery

Hey, no worries, I’m not going to make you learn how to make Sauerkraut. Not in the least because I don’t know how. :-D

Instead I’ll let you tag along with my impromptu lunch today and maybe teach you a few kitchen and food-related terms.

Here we have:
Schinkenwürfel – diced ham
Champignon
– apparently you guys call them button mushroom. The generic term for mushroom (and all kinds of fungi) is Pilz
Paprika –
bell pepper

Now what to do with that? I poured some Olivenöl in a Pfanne. some olive oil into a pan, turned up the heat, threw the ham in there, added the diced Champignons after a bit and topped it off with a cut up Tomate.

Since I don’t cook every day I stopped keeping fresh Zwiebeln (onions) or Knoblauch (garlic) around unless I plan for something specific. To be honest, gefriergetrocknet ( freeze-dried)  or powdered works as well. I added both to the pan, sprinkled generously with Salz and Pfeffer ((you can probably guess what these words mean)), some freeze-dried provencal herbs and started preheating the oven. Or den Ofen vorheizen.

Kräuter = herbs
Gewürze = spices

Time to deal with the Paprika.

In a spur-of-the moment decision I cut up a ball of Mozzarella (same word in German) into small pieces, leaving a few larger slices.

The small pieces I filled into the ham/mushroom/tomato mix. The Füllung (stuffing) for gefüllte Paprika!

I put the larger slices of Mozzarella cheese on top, put the peppers into an Auflaufform or casserole dish to bake it for about 20 minutes at 200°C or roughly 390 Fahrenheit.

Guten Appetit!

Literally “good appetite”. A way of saying “enjoy your meal”.

Olli’s Saturday School – German fast food

Yes, of course, us Germans do have a handful of fastfood chains. Wait. Actually I’m not sure if we do.

The stuff you will usually see is Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, the occasional KFC and that’s about it. There’s probably a few German chain restaurants that might qualify but I can’t really think about any.

Classic German fast food would be a trailer on a city/county/village fair (or Kirmes) or on the parking lot of a large supermarket, in commercial areas. Doesn’t have to be a trailer though, sometimes they’re actual small restaurants.

A word for either of those is Imbissbude.
Imbiss = snack
Bude = shack

The same way a small Turkish food place would be called a Dönerbude. (Döner = doner kebab, served in a pita bread )

A lot of them are also called Frittenbude, Fritten being colloquial for Pommes Frites, the French term that we use for potato chips or fries, depending on where you hail from.

Typical German fast food doesn’t actually have to be cooked quickly, sometimes the stuff has been prepared for a while and is just lounging around on or slowly turning over a grill.

You alread learned about Fritten or Pommes, as we call it. Usually served with ketchup or mayonnaise (or salad cream). You can order them rot-weiss, too.
Red-white, meaning with both.
In certain parts of Germany that is also called Pommes Schranke
A Schranke is this:

Aside from fries, typical German fast food would be Brathähnchen (a roast chicken, whole or half), Spießbratenbrötchen (a slice of spit roast in a bun), Bratwust (red or white sausage, usually grilled) or the ever-present and all-around loved Currywurst.
The latter has always been sort of a cult-ish German experience, and there’s almost war-like competition between where it originated and in what region of Germany you get the best ones.
Currywurst basically is a Bratwurst, served with Ketchup or curry sauce and generously sprinkled with curry powder.

They are available from mildly spice right up until “you have to sign a waiver and show your ID before they sell you one” hot.

While Bratwurst is usually served in a bun, with mustard on the side or on the sausage itself, Currywurst is usually sliced and served with a Brötchen (a German breakfast roll) or fries on the side.

Look at that beauty:

Examples for the popularity of Currywurst in Germany:
– one of our former chancellors declared it his favorite food and the mess halls in our Governmental buildings had to serve it
– one of the German most popular musicians, Hermann Grönemeyer made a song about it that could in time become OUR version of American Pie. ((I hope it doesn’t, I don’t like the singer and the song lyrics actually go ‘I’ll go get me a Currywurst”))
-there are actually Currywurst-Festivals in Germany. Yes, a Currywurst-themed City-fair! Check this out: http://www.neuwied.de/currywurst.html
So…are you hungry yet? No? Okay, here’s how a typical, rather busy German Wurstbude might look like around lunchtime. Complete with rote Bratwurst, weisse Bratwurst, Frikadelle, Currywurst and Brötchen.

New Year’s Eve

As promised/announced/threatened I will tell you about my New Year’s Eve celebration. And then some.

This year the premise was pretty much the same as last year. It has been for a while now. Things had changed, though.

We’ve been celebrating with friends, dinner party with surprise courses, as each participating couple or single was to provide a part of the meal.

As usual we’d divvied up the courses so we wouldn’t have 3 mains and 3 desserts.

Changes this year:
We celebrated in a new location as one of us had moved into a spacious appartment with his girlfriend.
There was also a 6 months old, well behaved and cheerful toddler with us who only turned cranky just before dessert, so one couple had to leave.
The evening also had the announcement of one of the other couples’ engagement two months ago.

Yes. This means we’re all growing up. Help! And with a new girlfriend being introduced into our ragtag band of adventurous food friends, it also means I am the last single in our group. ((volunteers?))

And as every year we would realize that’d we got quite good at the whole cooking deal.

Without further ado, I give you….

The menu!

The bar was set quite high with this delicious chestnut soup poured over radicchio salad that had a single fried scallop floating in it and was decorated and made even tastier with a swirl of balsamic.

Next up, it’s not rocket salad. Wait, it is. Not rocket science, though.
The salad contained pine nuts, dried tomato, mozarella cheese and as if that wasn’t enough we also head bread, homemade pesto, tomato cream, salmon rolls and olives.

The next course turned out to be a fun one.

Fried parsnip and scallop. Oh so deliciously prepared. Wait, what? Scallops again? Yup. As I’ve mentioned before: surprise courses.
We just make sure someone takes charge of the main course and dessert, the rest will give vague descriptions like “soup”, “salad” or “just a small inbetween course”.
The real fun: if I hadn’t snatched the dessert, someone who hadn’t made scallops would’ve done that. And I would’ve made bacon-wrapped scallops. :D

I’m still drooling just looking at that picture.

Time for the main course, though. It turned out to be Ethiopian. No, we’re not cannibals, nobody fried up north east Africans. Ethiopian style food. Including the pancake-like “cutlery”.

After all that food, some of us needed a drink. Miniature Caipirinha anyone?

After that it was of course time for the dessert. My dish, this year. Originally I just planned to make roasted pears in butterscotch coconut sauce, but when my mom served homemade Spekulatius ice cream, I just had to add that.

The food of the gods.

So, what did you do for New Year’s Eve?

Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

 

Sconehenge – monumentally baking

Quite a while ago I complimented Jessa Lynch on her twitter handle @chichenpizza.

What can I say? I do like my puns.

The reply I got was It was either that or Sconehenge.

It’s been a while, but it set things in motion that I couldn’t have stopped if I wanted. Granted, it took a while, but finally, I managed to pull myself and the ingredients together and start baking.

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In case you’re interested:

225 grams of flour, a tablespoon of baking powder, a pinch of salt, some cayenne pepper, a spoon of mustard, 150ml of milk, 100 grams of grated cheese and 60 grams of butter to make a few snacks, double that for actual Sconehenge.