Il Teatro Ristorante

Karlsruhe, right by the Novotel, is a nice little Italian restaurant that I have somehow missed in my many times here. What a shame, as it was delightful.

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The meal started with a nice glass of red that carried through the rest of the meal. Nice and dry.

Then he brought out the Pumpkin Soup, and wow! I’ve had Pumpkin soup more than once Karlsruhe. And usually the spicing is reminiscent of Middle Eastern or Indian cuisine (both of which are delightful). But the soup here was delightfully savory, without much to distract from the pumpkin and goodness. Now, typically, I would make fun of the “everything pumpkin flavored” this time of year. However, this is how pumpkin should be consumed, no question.

Following that came the Bocconcini. Now, that name is apparently odd, seeing as Wikipedia thinks that is a mozzarella ball of a certain variety. There was definitely no mozzarella in sight. Instead, it was a delightful mix of veal and beef, noodles, cognac, Pilze (mushrooms) and Rahmsauce. With a delightful side of vegetables: broccoli, carrots, potatoes and cabbage (buttered, not kraut, yay!).

In any case, thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

Too Soon For Vacation’s End

So, tomorrow it is back to work. I suppose it’s always too soon.

Pain

I dislike yellow-jackets. It’s simple, really. After over 5 hours, by thumb on my right hand is still throbbing. After getting home from a lunch meeting, I proceeded to do some yard-work. I mowed the front yard, and then started trimming some weeds in the thick grassy stuff (I have no idea what it’s called) lining the driveway. Halfway up one side, I felt a brief sting on one of my left fingers, watched something shoot across my field of vision, and then felt a longer lasting (maybe multiple?) sting on my right thumb.

I rushed inside, where my wife suggested an ice pack, followed by the application of some essential oils. After the pain subsided from cut-my-thumb-off-now! to a more manageable level, I decided to go back out, this time with gloves. I returned to the same spot, cut a few more of the misplaced weeds in the grassy, shrubby stuff, then switched to the other side. With an armload of debris, I carried all to the roadside. Then I noticed a yellow-jacket on my left glove. I still don’t know if it was just sitting there, or actively stinging but just not getting through the gloves.

It was a sign that it was time to quit working in the front yard.

The Garden

A Summer Harvest

A Summer Harvest

Thus I entered the back yard to harvest what had gone unwatched in our vacation absence. I found many, many immense squash, and some more reasonably sized ones. I found two immense zucchini and one teeny one. And I found buckets and buckets of cucumbers. There was also a smattering of tomatoes, one pepper and a tiger melon, as you can see.

Ow, ow, ow. My thumb still hurts!

Julianne, my middle daughter, quickly took one of the cucumbers and ate it whole, as if it were an apple. Well, she ate it with ranch dressing, which she wouldn’t do with an apple, but you get the idea, I hope.

I believe the zucchini will end up as zucchini bread, so says Kim.

This complete, I ran to the front bed and got a bunch of mint, and made up a drink of rum, lemoncello (Lemon Drop), lemon juice and the mint muddled. It was good, quite good in fact, but it did nothing for the throbbing thumb.

Pickles

A run on the garden reminded me of the pickles I had moved to the refrigerator the night before. I cut one, and then ate the first half. Wonderful taste, not commercial dill pickle, rather a sharp, dill-backed spice. The meat of the pickle was softer than I was expecting, but it still had a nice bite to it. Overall, I’m happy.

First Taste

First Taste

Not so my daughter, who asked to sample the second half. She was not impressed, mostly I think by the spice. Kim thought it was merely “okay”, and I finished up the last half of the pickle. Still soft for my liking, but the flavor great.

I notice that the seeds are quite big, though they are not hard or problematic in any way.

Also, they are too big on one end to easily move to smaller storage. Bit of a pain, as the current vessel takes up quite a large space in the refrigerator. I’m not sure about cutting them and then re-storing. Sounds like lots of opportunity for spoilage.

Irish Red Ale

Checking up on the beer, I find that the foam has subsided. But I can tell fermentation is still active by the regular bubble pops visible on the surface. It’ll be a little longer before bottling occurs. But a good decision to start it, then leave it to ferment while I wasn’t there! No time wasted fretting over it.

That ends the day, short of some ice cream and White Collar on Netflix, and of course writing this post. Not much more and it is off to bed, to prepare for work once again.

A Wonderful Time Of Year

It’s summer! Wow, I’ve not posted on here in a while. Lots has been going on, but things have been slow on the fermentation front. Not a standstill, but not overly active either. Things progressing, a couple beer attempts, and at least one mead started.

In any case, it was nice to head to The Happy Berry today and take home 33 pounds of fruit (18 pounds of blackberries and the rest blueberries). Some of that will end up as jam, and some as wine/mead. I wonder what a “cider” of blackberry would be like…

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

I also started my first vegetable fermentation with some of the cucumbers (munchers) from the garden. Dill pickles are a nice treat, so I set about starting my first batch using the recipe from Alton Brown as a guide. Looks like things should turn out okay, but it’s a little early to be certain. I don’t exactly have a good 1 gallon vessel for that type of fermentation, but I had one big enough for the amount of cucumbers suggested, and hopefully a smaller bag of the salt-water solution can seal the cucumbers under the brine well enough.

We have a ton of things in the garden. We’ve already made quite good use of the zucchini and squash, though if the caterpillars have anything to say about it, that may end. The peppers are slowly getting going. And the corn is growing slowly, as well. We should have a ton of tomatoes, if all goes well, though they are green at the moment.

Also, with some hints from a friend, I have a plan for testing out lemoncello, limecello and orangecello. So I picked up the fruit and the base for it this afternoon. Maybe there will be some time tomorrow to start on that. But tomorrow, there is a bigger goal, and that is getting the Irish Red Ale started.

I picked up the ingredients as a Father’s Day gift, and I suppose it’s high time I get the ingredients into a fermenter! I plan on using a little more malt extract than the recipe actually calls for, and a little more hops, as well; both modifications are really dictated by packaging sizes. But hopefully the color and body will be right, and the flavor good. I do like a Killian’s – not that I expect it will come off exactly like that. Just saying that I do like that style of beer, and wouldn’t mind having some on hand, and the knowledge to reproduce in the future!

Pickles, beer, fruit, jam, garden, cellos…bed.

A Day In Review: January 25

What a busy day! And it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Some very nice things, that would have been nice to share, were bottled. Ah, well. Maybe I will share something when I sample them.

Back to today: First, there was worship service at The Mount, followed by a Southwestern Chicken and Rice Soup made off the top of the head. Who needs a recipe! I filed a manual insurance claim, since I didn’t have my card by my first trip to the doctor this year. And I prepared an expense report for my most recent trip to France, during which I had a delayed bag and a double sinus infection. And then, bank reconciliation, also known as “misery”. Then off to small group study.

But in the middle of all that, I went ahead and sanitized bottles, jugs and hoses for tonight’s activity.

First, I racked and bottled the fig wine, producing just at 5 75cl. bottles as expected. I counted before starting, realizing I wasn;t going to have enough cork. So I used some of these plastic stops I had purchased a long time back and never used. We’ll see how they do. I washed everything up and resanitized the hoses and such I would need for the next thing.

I then opened a bottle of “Bees at Dusk” Tupelo Braggot to share with Kim while we watched some of the latest season of “White Collar” on Netflix. That would be one of the bottlings I missed sharing…a rendition of my previous braggots, with the restoration of hops and the addition of chocolate malt. I’m very happy with it, I must say. Later I’ll have to talk about the ciders I completed, but not now!

Well, after that, it was on to the next thing, the Raspberry Cyser. For the three gallon carboy racked, I only ended up with 14 75cl. bottles. But I did get to taste it and I am looking forward to it after some additional aging. It certainly looks tasty. Normal cork, as you can see in the photos.

And now I think it is time for some reading, then to bed. ‘Night, all!

Scenes From A Day In Paris

Today was a late starter. I apparently slept too long, and was awoken by maid service knocking at the door at noon. Slowly roused myself and got in the shower, and then once that was done headed out the door.

Discovered that the idea of simply taking the RER(C) to the Louvre was not going to work. Issy-les-Molinaux is not actually “in” Paris, so my metro/RER/tram ticket didn’t cover it (based on the ticket I had purchased). But I was able to make it by a simple combination of tram and metro. Then it was on to lunch at a café after a walk among the gardens (even the RER would have put me some distance away on the other side of the Seine).

After lunch, it was straight to Musée Louvre. I stayed in Denon all day, other than first going to the current exposition – on the art and history of Maroc (Morocco). Could have skipped the exposition, but honestly, between those two things I had little more time. It was a good time spent with some awesome art and displays. That’s what you get with half a day at this museum. It’s too much for one day, let alone half!

And after they started closing exhibits I headed out to look for dinner. I eventually found it, with a few stops along the way. Found the most well stocked Japanese liquor store ever. Seriously, it is rather difficult just walking around to find a good place to eat traditional French food. There is a Japanese restaurant (sushi and such, some ramen shops) on every corner – and in some places there were three in a row. Since it just seemed wrong to get Japanese in Paris, I found a good-looking Chinese place (let’s not question the logic too closely, mmm-kay?), and enjoyed my meal of Mongolian Lamb. They didn’t call it that, but that was essentially what it was – Mongolian Beef done with lamb. They were setting up for a birthday party or something like, and constantly had more people and supplies coming in. So service wasn’t the best. But I enjoyed myself anyway. Did have some trouble ordering thé chaud. The waitress wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. Piping hot green tea was eventually provided after some back and forth.

Night Out

Busy day.

Trained from Chasseneuil (Futuroscope) to Paris Montparnasse, then jumped metro to head towards Issy les Molinaux. In Issy (well, now I know before then) things got messy. I got out a stop early, walked all over southwest Paris, and finally two hours later found my hotel. Yay! Sigh…

Actually, all that said it wasn’t that bad. I was hot and sweaty, but otherwise it was a nice day and a nice walk. Got to my room, sat down and started planning my evening. Which called for shopping and dinner. Shopping was another 15 minute walk. Found tons of stuff for my family, which hopefully they’ll appreciate. Then had to carry said things back to the hotel… Put stuff down and threw some stuff in the refrigerator for later, then it was off for dinner.

Dinner was not far from the hotel at all. It’s distance may actually have had something to do with its selection. But it was well worth the visit. Little more expensive than its weekday online menu had suggested, but I don’t think I got ripped off. La purée de pomme de terre est peut-être le meilleur j’ai eu. No joke. The crême brulée was not as good as I’ve had other less notable places this week, owing to a distinct burnt-ness in the flavor, despite not appearing burnt. The meat was delightful at a medium temp. And the vin, bon, as well.

Well, I had noticed on the way back from shopping that I could see the top of the Eiffel Tower. That meant it was fairly close right? Snicker. I knew that wasn’t the case, but as I considered it through dinner, I came to the conclusion that I had nothing much better to do this time of the evening. And so leaving the River Café, I started walking north along the Seine.

Now before, I have made comments to the effect that I wasn’t all that interested in the Eiffel Tower. But it truly is impressive when seen from up close. That’s a lot of metal and whatnot. It was a shame that it was already so late and I couldn’t get up into it. And the street vendors are rather pushy, I might add!

Well, tomorrow is another day of exciting things to see. So I think I am calling it a night (early morning already!) Ah, well. Au revoir!

Fall Enough For Apples

Mid-September. Apples, apples, and more apples. That was the plan, and that is what happened!

Sky Top Orchard was packed, but there were plenty of apples to be picked. And a large number of available varieties. We ourselves picked Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, Gala, Jonathon and Jonagold, plus a bit of Black Arkansas that really wasn’t fully ripe, but still looked quite tasty. We couldn’t pick Asian Pears, but did buy some in the “store”. We (“of course”, my wife and kids would add) got some of their fresh-baked apple doughnuts. And rather than purchase cider (for making cyser) at Whole Foods, I just went ahead and got it at Sky Top. No idea the exact apple mix, even after asking. But I didn’t know the mixture going into the stuff I bought at Whole Foods last year either.

In all, we got (and this is a little bit of back calculating) 196 pounds of apples. More specifically, approximately 3 pounds of Asian Pears, 46 pounds each of Mutsu and Jonathon, 22 pounds each of Red Delicious, Jonagold and Gala, 21 pounds of Golden Delicious, and a smattering – 14 pounds – of under-ripe Black Arkansas.

Jenna brought a friend, who while walking through the orchard admitted surprise that there were varieties other than “red” and “green”. Awkward silence. Both are in sixth grade, I suppose.

In any case, some of the apples will end up as jelly or apple butter, and some will be for eating. Julianne claimed, from the very beginning, dibs on the Asian Pears. She did not mince words. The rest of the apples I am hoping to use for hard cider, of course.

Cyser

Back home, with apple cider from the farm in hand, it was time to make cyser. The rest of the apples can of course sweat a bit, without much hassle. I will come back to them with fruit press ready. But it’s not like I have room for 4 gallons of cider in the refrigerator right now!

Last year’s batch turned out spectacularly, if I do say so myself. So I started there. I considered bumping up the honey to see if I could make it go naturally semi-sweet, instead of doing the back-sweetening I did last year, but decided against it when I considered the already super-high OG seen last year (1.112). I ended up sticking with the “recommended” 8 pounds of honey, selecting a Wildflower honey from the Bread Becker-sourced honey obtained last weekend. Same honey as last year, too, going over the notes.

I started by putting the honey in the bottom of the fermentation bucket. I then blended a half pound each of dates and raisins in a third of a gallon cider. This was tossed in a straining bag in the bucket. Turns out the raisins didn’t exactly blend up as well as hoped, but I can live with it. I then added the rest of the cider (for a total of four gallons).

I then topped up as the recipe suggested, to just over 5 gallons. The recipe actually says to top to 5, but I did just a bit more to account for sediment and such. Only then did I realize, rereading the recipe, that I had forgotten the dark brown sugar. And, it turned out I didn’t have dark brown sugar in the pantry, only light. So I measured in the 1 pound of light brown sugar instead.

It’s a super-simple recipe, in all honesty. The only additional ingredients are 2 tsp. of yeast energizer and 1 tsp. of yeast nutrient, which I added after the brown sugar, mixing vigorously to try to incorporate oxygen. I checked the specific gravity and found it sitting at a comfortable 1.110. Just a hair lower than last year’s. I pitched the yeast (Lalvin D47) according to package directions and, voilà, the cyser has begun. No pectic enzyme rest, no sulfite rest; just right into fermentation.

Mmm, The Beginnings of Cyser

Mmm, The Beginnings of Cyser

Night!