Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Abby, Adoptable Lab, who incidentally looks just like Henry
Have I mentioned that I want another labrador retriever when we return to the States? I think Henry would really enjoy having another dog as a companion. Chris is less sure and thinks Henry's spoiled rotten nose might get out of joint. We're still in negotiations. If we decide to proceed, I want to adopt a dog from Labrador Retriever Rescue, a great group of folks who are doing wonderful work. I would never buy a dog when there are so many who need homes. Henry was a stray, and his entry into my life opened so many new doors for me. So, if there's agreement from Chris,a nd I sure hope there is, we'll get another pet.
I just saw this article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, which really caught my eye. After years of living on Potter Street, in Haddonfield, New Jersey and complaining about the mad speeding, I see Jack and the gang are finally going to do something concrete about it. I have had more near misses on that street than I even care to think about.
Needing a break from Christmas songs, I’ve been listening to Ute Lemper the past day or so. John Joyce introduced me to her music a few years ago. Only John in Haddonfield, New Jersey would know about Ute Lemper, German cabaret singer a la Marlene Dietrich. Though she was born in 1963, 30 years after the dissolution of the Weimar Republic, she freely acknowledges its impact on her philosophically, culturally, politically and of course, musically. She really is fascinating and quite wonderful. . Today I am playing “Ute Sings Kurt Weill”, absolutely perfect for listening to when living in Germany. Check her out.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Peggy, John and Steve were in a bad accident in Philly the other night. Peggy’s car was hit on the passenger side, where Steve was sitting, and totaled by a drunken driver in an SUV. His car was totaled as well. He ran a red light going 70 and just mowed into them. He was led away in handcuffs and they were taken to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in an ambulance. Other than cuts, scrapes and bruises, they are okay. They are all sore as hell. Scary. These are my best friends. I am counting my blessings today and so thankful their injuries aren't worse, and that they are alive. These folks mean everything to me.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Lately I can’t stop listening to Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. It’s one of my very favorite Christmas songs ever, along with 2,000 Miles by the Pretenders. Fairytale makes me sad for many reasons, most of all that Kirsty MacColl is no longer around to make wonderful music. I loved her and was devastated when she died in a really tragic boating accident, sadly witnessed by her two children, in December, 2000. Kirsty’s music has always touched me. I lived on Madison Avenue in Laurel Springs and “Walking Down Madison” was my anthem. I also loved “Soho Square”, “All I Ever Wanted” as well as everything from her last, and greatest record “Tropical Brainstorm”. RIP Kirsty, you’ve seen me through a lot of storms.
Saturday was a lazy day spent watching television and bitching about how lousy I felt from over imbibing the night before. We did go out for dinner and beers at eight. We met Jen and Paul at a Bavarian place we like in Lehel, called Tattenbach. It was a rather low key night, but a laugh as always. Paul makes me giggle sometimes with his silliness. I like him the most when he is acting like a kid. Sensibly, and totally out of character for us, we were home by eleven!
Another really fun weekend. Friday night out at the Twisted Bavarian for the alleged footy stammtisch, which turned out to be a huge drinking session with me, Chris, Jenny, Paul, Bev, Gary, Cal, Planty, Martina, Vikki, Alan, Lise, Richard, Jason, Georgie, Colin, Pete and some guy Steve, who Chris has known for years, in attendance. We got put into this little alcove with our own bar and we really had some fun. Everyone was in good form. Except for Lise, Richard, Jen and Paul, this was the last we were seeing everyone before flying off to England for the holidays. I had a nice chat with Vikki, who is leaving permanently soon for a new life in Australia. I am really fond of her. She’s been great to me since Day One. We had a nice little gossip session, which was a hoot. I also had a good time with Bev. Gary serenaded us with his rendition of “Suspicious Minds” prompting us to think, yet again, that someone has taken the real Gary and put this new gregarious, over the top person in his place! Seriously, I like both him and Bev an awful lot. I had a good time with Planty, who makes me laugh with his exuberance and zest for everything, as well as Martina, another person I like a great deal. It was a good night. Dory, the owner of the Twisted Bavarian, is a sweetheart, and reminds me of people I have been friends with at home. She’s edgy and fun, and loves Henry. I also met one of the gals from Toytown, Katrina, with whom I’d been exchanging personal messages. She was great too. That was fun. Good night. Bad hangover though.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Listening to Christmas music and really in the spirit. This is the first time in years I have looked forward to Christmas so much. It must be because I am sharing it with Chris for the first time. Munich is the perfect Christmas city. There are Christkindlmarkts everywhere, which are basically stalls selling wooden ornaments, crafts, food and gluhwein (hot mulled wine, often served with a shot rum. De rigueur if you are having the whole experience!). They are festooned with greens and there are unadorned Christmas trees everywhere as well as some with brilliant lights. The whole atmosphere is extremely charming. There’s just no other way to describe it. There are many around town, but the biggest is in Marienplatz, the large square downtown which is the home of the Glockenspiel, Munich’s magical tower with cooper dancing figures made of copper performing at the top several times a day. It’s yet another European monument to commemorate the end of a plague epidemic, but uniquely German. The markets are fun and it’s easy to get caught up in all the festivities, especially after a few warming gluhweins.

There are also Christmas tree stands every few blocks. They sell the tiniest one foot trees to twenty foot beauties which must grace the alt bau (old building) apartments stunningly. We have a small four foot tree, which for me is miniscule, but still beautiful. I wrestled it into our ceramic Christams tree stand by myself this morning, and thought of all the times I’d done it on Potter Street and other places, with my friend Tim helping me. One year, Tom was busy and I got this crazy notion that I could erect the tree on my own. Luckily I had my cordless phone nearby because it turned into an it-could-only-happen-to-Jane-Martin disaster with me pinned underneath it. I phoned everyone I knew, but no one was around so I left panicked messages allover town. Finally, my neighbor Todd rescued me. Good old Todd, a wife and kids, and me to look after as well. All with a sly grin. Todd’s the best. Anyway, I have been doing a bit of reading about Christmas trees. They have been around for centuries and have their roots in pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. But in more recent times, Queen Victoria’s consort, Prince Albert hailed from Germany and brought them to England. According to one source, they were introduced to America by German immigrants to Pennsylvania. In any case, to me the tree is one of best parts of Christmas. I have collected ornaments for years and gotten many while traveling and unwrapping them every year is a real treat. This year, in a real departure for me, we are just putting lights on our tree. Next year it’ll be the usual over the top production!

We are going to England for Christmas next week. I think it will be interesting to see how another country celebrates the holiday. And I get to be a part of Boxing Day, which is December 26th, another holiday there! I am really excited about it. We’ll be back in Munich for New Year’s Eve. I have no idea what we’ve got planned for it, but I am sure we’ll spend it with our close little group.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

It’s been a really nice weekend. We celebrated Alan’s birthday with him, Annette, two of their friends, whose names, I am embarrassed to reveal, I have forgotten, Jen, Paul, Pete, Chris and Martina. We went to a nice place called Lux and had a terrific time. I had bad vibes about the place because I had read a truly rotten review of it on Toytown, but my trepidations were misplaced. We had a lovely meal and service and stayed for hours chatting. We drank a ridiculous amount of Syrah which loosened our tongues sufficiently to indulge in a fair amount of gossip and naughty talk. All good. Afterwards, Chris and I capped off the night at the Twisted Bavarian, a new place around the corner for us, perhaps too close….

The first half of yesterday was sheer misery. I woke up with a thumping head and smelling like the pub, never what you want to happen! Recovered enough to go to a Christmas Market in Haidhausen with Paul. Had a gluhwein and some food and wandered about and then came home. Chris went out and I watched a zillion episodes of my favorite television show, Law and Order, which reminded me of being single in Jersey.

Got up early today and went to brunch at Faun with Lise, Ros, Claire, her two children, Laura, Anna, Jo, and her mum, Betty, who I’d met the week before and liked quite a bit. We hung out for about three hours and it was totally enjoyable and low key. I came home and Chris and I took a little walk with Henry. I was planning to go to Stitch ‘n Bitch at the Twisted Bavarian, but then got lazy and started watching the Chelsea Arsenal match. Am now lounging in pajamas and am going NOWHERE!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

One of the great things about going home to the States was eating familiar American food. Everyone knows I’ll try anything, and I mean ANYTHING, and probably enjoy it, but just prior to the trip had been craving Philly food like cheesesteaks, hoagies, and burgers. Consequently, I spent a lot of time eating that stuff as well as any rare beef I could get my hands on. I don’t like the beef here so I was scarfing it up in Jersey at every opportunity.

Now that we are back, I have decided we need to eat less meat so I got a copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian and am now trying my hand at some vegetarian meals. So far, so good. Last night I made a really nice Moroccan stew with pumpkin, zucchini, chickpeas, raisins and tomatoes and served it on a bed of couscous with some hot chili sauce. Delicious. Really had a lot of zing. Tonight I am making lentils topped with gingery spinach and yogurt and crispy pieces of fried onions. It’s fun trying something new. This cookbook has hundreds of recipes, tons of which I cannot wait to try.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


For cake

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 large eggs, separated
12 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For glaze

1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup dark corn syrup (could not find anywhere in Munich, used honey instead which worked well.)
9 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Make cake:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper or waxed paper; butter paper. Wrap outside of pan with foil. Stir chocolate and butter in heavy medium saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat. Cool to lukewarm, stirring often.

Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks and 6 tablespoons sugar in large bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Fold lukewarm chocolate mixture into yolk mixture, then fold in vanilla extract. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 6 tablespoons sugar, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake cake until top is puffed and cracked and tester inserted into center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack (cake will fall).

Gently press down crusty top to make evenly thick cake. Using small knife, cut around pan sides to loosen cake. Remove pan sides. Place 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round atop cake. Invert cake onto tart pan bottom. Peel off parchment paper.

Make glaze:

Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth.

Place cake on rack set over baking sheet. Spread 1/2 cup glaze smoothly over top and sides of cake. Freeze until almost set, about 3 minutes. (We don't have a proper freezer so I put it in teh fridge.)Pour remaining glaze over cake; smooth sides and top. Place cake on platter. Chill until glaze is firm, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; store at room temperature.) Serve at room temperature.

Serves 10 to 12.

Bon Appétit
January 1999

Finally settled back in after trips. Jersey was great but in truthfulness I was thrilled to get back to Munich. There was a fair amount of gossip and innuendo at home that didn’t sit well with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with my family and some of my close friends. I guess I have changed a little. I just did not want to hear all the negative stuff that was in the air. I like the way things are here. I am not in the middle of the loop so am not privy to every little skirmish, gossip and nastiness that occurs, and guess what, am happy not participating! In Jersey, I relished being Queen Bee, but am so over it! Live and learn….

We had a fun weekend here. Friday afternoon, Liz and I went around the block to the Twisted Bavarian for a few catch-up beers. It was great to see her and she introduced me to her new boyfriend Robert, who I liked very much. He’s a chef and he and I spent at least two hours talking about food and cooking. Perfect. It was like talking about sex. Only better. Chris joined us for a few beers as well and then he and I went off to Tollwood to meet up with a bunch of folks including Brian, Jamie, Steve, Baxter and his friend, Andy, Nicola and her friend, Pete, some guy Rick, Paul and Vikki. It was nice. Lots of gluhwein and chatter. Had to drag Chris out of there as I was freezing. When I woke up on Saturday morning without a hangover, I was really happy I’d had the presence of mind to leave early.

Saturday night, a bunch of us went to see “Der Untergang” which is a movie about Hitler’s final days, and which has generated a fair amount of talk here. Supposedly, the film humanizes Hitler, therefore some controversy has arisen. I didn’t see it that way at all, and if anything, it just strengthened my belief that he was a megalomaniac. To say that I “enjoyed” it would be wrong, but I am glad I saw it. Afterwards we all went to dinner and dissected it. I think we were all on the same page. The movie does not make Hitler at all sympathetic. It humanizes him, but not in any sort of admirable way. After dinner, we all stumbled into Molly Malone’s where Planty and Martina were hanging out. We stayed quite awhile and it gave me and Jen a chance to catch up on Jersey stuff. I also had a great chat with Jo’s mum, who told me she’s seen the Beatles four or five times. It was a fun night and again I managed to keep myself in check drinks wise knowing I had to get up to make a cake to bring to Bev and Gary’s the next day.

Sunday morning up at the crack of dawn to make flourless chocolate cake, which, I am happy to report, was delicious. We, along with Lise and Richard and Jen and Paul, spent the afternoon and evening at Bev and Gary’s eating a huge meal and drinking a lot of wine. It was a really good afternoon. It reminded me of meals at home. Kudos to Bev for a truly memorable feed!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Just back from twelve days in the States. Exhausted beyond all belief from ridiculous amount of relentless socializing. Great trip though. Will get back to blogging in a few days after doing laundry from trips to both Italy and America. Stacks await me….