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!


Olli’s Saturday School – Happy New Year

After learning Christmas I guess it’s time to teach you guys how Germans experience the transition into a new year.

It usually starts some time in December, when you realize that you’ll be talking to people for the last time this year.
Yes, some of us ((I don’t exclude myself from that)) do the “See you next year!”-Thing.
A common German way of saying that would be: Bis nächstes Jahr!
The traditional thing is: Einen guten Rutsch (ins neue Jahr)! which literally translates to (Have) a good slide (into the new year)!

There are several possible origins for this expressions, the truth is probably lost in time. Just roll with it and reply the same thing or just say Danke, gleichfalls! (Thanks, likewise!)

When Silvester comes around (New Year’s Eve is known as Silvester in Germany since it’s apparently also St. Silvester’s Day) there are several ways people celebrate.

Some go to large-scale parties or gatherings in big towns, comparable to the Times Square ball drop or Hogmanay in Edinburgh, some don’t do anything, some celebrate in one way or the other with family and friends. Eating out is a thing but if you plan to do that, make a reservation as early as you can, usually everything that is open, even in the smallest villages, will be fully booked.

As with Christmas, one tradition is watching seasonal episodes of classic German comedy tv shows before or after dinner.

This one is a long standing German tradition despite the content having nothing to do with Silvester or Neujahr (New Year’s Day):

When not eating out, two things typical for Silvester in Germany would be Fondue (usually just the oil one, not cheese) or Raclette. My personal guess is that became a tradition because it often takes very long and thus makes it easy to pass the time until Mitternacht (midnight) and you usually simply don’t have the time to do that.

Just before midnight the party usually heads outside to either watch communally staged Feuerwerk (fireworks) light their own or watch the neighbors shoot colorful rockets into the sky.

Raketen, Kracher, Böller, Leuchtfontänen, Wunderkerzen, if it’s noisy and or colourful, Germans will light it. Unfortunately some will do that the whole evening or even week, because idiots.

In fact, unless you have a special permit, you can only buy class II fireworks ((the typical stuff)) on the last three working days of the year and it’s only allowed to light them on those two days.

Apart from fireworks another tradition is opening a bottle of Champagner or Sekt (champagne and non-special-french sparkly wine) and clink glasses, hug and maybe kiss at midnight.
From now on people wish eachother a Gutes neues Jahr (good new year) or Prost Neujahr (Cheers to New Year’s Day) for a couple of days or weeks whenever they meet and hope nobody asks them about any resolutions, because yes…that is pretty much the same here as everywhere else.
The German term for a new year’s resolution is ein guter Vorsatz, Vorsatz interestingly also being the word for premeditation.


Gutes neues Jahr!

Good bye, 2014. Don’t come back.

Everything and everyone is doing retrospectives today. Funny how my last scheduled blog post for this year turns out to be on New Years Eve because I arbitrarily chose Wednesdays when I started this blog about a year ago.

I’d do one, but I’d have to leave out explaining the part that dominated my second half. Can’t talk about that yet THAT openly. Even though a lot of people know.
It’s a work-related thing. Don’t worry, though. I still have my job, I make a living and have my big vacation for 2015 booked.

All in all, 2014 had some pretty great things. I met neat people online, mostly on twitter which has become my new go-to social network after facebook went more and more down the drain.

I had a great roadtrip along the US East Coast including Niagara Falls, met awesome internet friends on the way and travelled with one of them.
I visited friends and family in England.

Hey, stop reading this now. Have an awesome New Year’s Eve!