2nd July 2010
On Thursday morning I had a bit of a nostalgia trip. Driving to Geneva airport just as the sun is rising is something I used to do regularly. These days my trips abroad for work are less frequent. But it was a wonderful sight to watch the giant red disc lift itself into the sky. My destination this week? Neu Isenburg, a small town just outside Frankfurt.
I took breakfast in the Business Lounge at Geneva airport. Thanks to all my wanderings in previous years, I have a “magic card” from Lufthansa which enables me to sit in Business Lounges with a friend even if I’m travelling Economy Class. I love my magic card! I digress… Breakfast was a pleasant cup of milky coffee and a large croissant (free, of course).
I took my seat on the plane and was offered breakfast after take-off. It looked remarkably like the usual Lufthansa lunchtime snack, which looks remarkably like the usual Lufthansa evening snack – a bread roll with cream cheese and cucumber. I know it’s only a short flight, but a little more imagination wouldn’t come amiss. At least it was a good sized roll, but nonetheless I declined and opted for a coffee instead.
Surely there must be an airline somewhere in Europe which provides good breakfast on their short-haul flights? Isn’t there?
I last visited Neu Isenburg in Germany 2 years ago just before the Global Financial Crisis. I remember that the high street back then was full of pizza take-aways and Italian restaurants. I could never understand how one town could support so many of these eateries. Fans of Douglas Adams’ “The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy” will recall the planet where the entire economy became dependent on shoes and shoe shops. Neu Isenburg used to feel a bit like that. “Relax and enjoy your gnocchi”.
Times have changed. Many of the Italian eateries have been replaced with bars or different types of restaurants. I noticed that the Indian restaurant had also gone. About three years ago I had the worst vindaloo ever there – I think they forgot to put any spices in it…
So my colleague Karl and I wandered down the High Street to a little tapas place we have eaten at many times in the past. Prawns with garlic, a date/goat cheese/honey sauce combo which was divine, patatas bravas, spinach balls in a cheese sauce, and grilled halloumi – that’s the cheese that squeaks when you eat it! I slept well on Thursday night!
I have been in France for the last seven and a half years and enjoyed the life here. The climate is good, the pace of life is good and I work with some great people from all nationalities. But for a whole variety of personal and family reasons it is time to return home.
A couple of months ago I asked my boss for a transfer back to the UK – the reality is that I can do my job from anywhere. Last Monday the news came that it had been agreed. I’ve been telling my staff the news and they all seem happy that they are not about to get a new boss anytime soon.
So, in 2 weeks’ time Man and I will be in Herefordshire looking for a place to rent when we move back to the UK later this year. Titli’s Busy Kitchen will move to a new home and new surroundings. I’ll keep you updated via this blog on progress.
People ask when we are moving. I tell them that it all depends on the cat – no, really!!! People look at me as though I have just beamed down from another planet when I say this. You see, the cat needs to go through the vaccination procedure for rabies and the earliest he will be able to cross the English Channel will be mid-October. Like I said, when we move all depends on the cat!
Anybody want to buy a house?
23rd July 2010
I’m back! Sorry for the break in my weekly blog but I had some rather important business to attend to in the UK… Looking for a new home! My work colleagues asked me ,”how was your vacation?” Vacation??? Endless driving around villages in Herefordshire, visiting Estate Agents, appointments at banks – the last word I would use is “vacation”!
So Man and I have found a place in Wales. A modest home with a bigger kitchen than I have now which means that Man will stop tripping over my tripod every time he wants to get a cold drink from the fridge. The view out of the window isn’t quite the same as I have now. In fact it’s nothing like I have now, but we will be close to wooded hills and good country for walking Dog.
The garden is small but filled with fruit trees; soft fruit bushes such as raspberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries; herbs; and everywhere there are strawberry plants. I’m expecting to do many more fruit-based recipes in the future, God willing.
There’s something about the British and their attitude to eating out. It was very noticeable how a simple meal, such as fried fish, would come served with an absolute mountain of chips and peas. Rather than using a knife and fork I felt an ice-axe and a set of crampons might have been more appropriate. In fact, it seemed as though any meal had to be served with a truck-load of carbohydrates.
The most wonderful example I came across was a menu that offered “Vegetable curry with rice/chips/naan”. There weren’t too many options on the menu that suited my dietary needs, but I rather fancied the veg curry. Foolishly I commented to the waitress that I wasn’t sure whether to have the rice or the naan with the curry. “Oh no, Ma’am”, she replied, “the curry comes with rice AND chips AND naan”! She jumped as my jaw make a heavy thud on the table.
It is no wonder that as a nation the obesity rate is increasing if people are eating so much starch. There seems to be a need to provide “value” in meals, with “value” being defined as stacking it high and selling it cheap. If I ever opened a restaurant I hope I would never fall into that trap!
Man and I had a couple of rather nice Desi meals in Leominster – pronounced “Lemster” for those who don’t know, in the same way as Weobley is pronounced “Webley” and Worcester is pronounced “Wuster”. Isn’t English a great language! I digress. Check out the Bangla Lounge in Leominster. It doesn’t serve alcohol and it doesn’t take credit cards but the food is really good and reasonably priced. I had one of the most delicious naans I have ever had. I sweet-talked the owner for his recipe and I’m going to try and recreate it this weekend.
Man had some stuffed mushrooms for a starter and was almost full before the main course arrived. I took a prawn patia with my naan and was really impressed with it. Do give it a try.
The other place in Leominster is the Shabagh Tandoori (known locally as the Shagbag). Again, another very pleasant meal at a reasonable price. Unlike the Bangla Lounge they had chilli pickle in their pickle tray and we ate most of it!
I fear I may upset my French friends, but I have to say that some of the best Desi food in Europe is to be found in the UK. I’m really looking forward to having it on my doorstep again.
30th July 2010
It’s a disaster! The halal section of my local Intermarche has disappeared! No apology, no explanation, just gone. It is such a shame because it is a recently refurbished supermarket and the quality and range of goods was excellent. Even the small halal section was rather good. But now, in its place, are piles of packets of mozzerella cheese!
Finding halal food in this part of France is not too difficult because of its proximity to Geneva. I usually get my meat from one of two butchers in the area, but this is the start of holiday season in France. This is the 6 weeks during which the majority of French people take a vacation. Even small businesses will shut down for 2 to 4 weeks so tat the staff can take vacation. Amongst the small businesses on vacation for the next few weeks are… yes, that’s right. My butchers!
So, no halal section in the supermarket and no butchers to get my meat from. Maybe now is a good time to start my diet.
I want to take the opportunity to those of you who have requested recipes from me and I have not yet been able to make a video for you. I get about 5 requests every week for recipes, so you can imagine that the current list of requests is quite large. New additions this week include flapjack, “yellow curry”, peshwari naan and cupcakes.
Creating new videos and responding to comments on emails could easily become a full time job for me, and would be a labour of love. However, I do have a day job so I have to balance my working life, Titli’s Busy Kitchen, and my personal life. All I ask to those of you who have made requests is for your patience.
It’s a beautiful weekend here and Mr B has come to visit for a week. We’ll spend some time remaking earlier videos in HD and hopefully put together a couple of new episodes of TBK.
Mr B has visited here several times but he has never visited CERN before. Neither have I, until today. We took a trip down to the two permanent exhibitions at Cern – the dome and Microcosm. The displays were very informative and interactive, but after an hour and a half of exploring the world of fundamental forces, quarks, bosons and neutrinos, it was time for refreshment.
We drove down to the Paquis district in Geneva and came across a restaurant called “Saveurs du Liban” (Tastes of Lebanon). People were sitting at tables outside and there was a smell of shisha in the air…
We began with some falafel and humous with delicious Lebanese bread. That disappeared rather quickly so we recalled the menu and ordered some meat kibbe and Lebanese chicken livers. Now, it so happens that Mr B is not a fan of liver so I was left to eat the chicken livers by myself. Shame! What a fabulous way to spend a lunchtime – good company, sunshine, shisha and Lebanese chicken livers. I’ve added this recipe to the list of things that I want to make a video of in future!