Hardcore pastry cheffing

US Army Ranger Master Sgt. Mark Morgan: six tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq; ranked number three in the world as pastry chef. From the Peninsula Warrior:

“I’m not as good as I used to be – it’s been 10 years,” the Bronze Star recipient said, referring to the past decade that he served in the 75th Ranger Regiment. He deployed twice to Iraq and four times to Afghanistan in support of Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.

But it can be said that he must have left quite the lasting impression among those in the culinary circuits, because he previously competed in the WACS Culinary World Cup in 1998, 2000 and 2004 as a member of the Army’s culinary arts team. Morgan continues to remain in touch with ACF coaches and managers.

“Networking (is) probably the reason for the ‘name drop,’” he said.

His peanut butter ganache earned him third place among 55 pastry chefs. Morgan also prepared four desserts, which together, were called “Pumpkin and Spice”. They included a spiced pumpkin custard; walnut cake inside a coconut blossom; red currant compote; and a cinnamon beignet on poached pumpkin petals, a trio of cranberry, and honey, yogurt and pumpkin sorbet with a pumpkin-thyme essence.

Ich bin Gans voll: the Christmas work party


The pleasures and calorific terrors of Christmas eating here in Germany are truly hard to resist (I was encouraged at my Iyengar class yesterday to see that even the most dedicated of yogis had developed seasonal paunches).

As usual, December has been a month of heavy eating for me, but our work Christmas party two days ago was the cherry on the cake. Three colleagues arrived from Munich with a whole sack full of pretzels from cult bakery Hofpfisterei and boiled up a pot of Bavarian weisswurst with sweet mustard.

Then, a couple hours later, we all set off from the office by foot, through the snow, for an evening at a local organic cooking school which holds classes throughout the festive season. The classes are more of an exercise in group bonding & eating than anything, though they do give you some pointers on chopping red cabbage. For minimum stress, they take care of putting the goose in the oven a couple of hours before your group arrives, so you can concentrate mostly on getting drunk.

Knocking out out comfort food classics with workmates was a good time, even though we usually have very different tastes: some people watch their diet, others eat cake every day, some love putrid french cheese, others can't stand any cheese apart from the stuff on pizza, & one is an orange food phobic except when it comes to Fanta. German comfort food brings everyone together.


We were fitted with aprons, served wine or rosewater bubbly and a toasted coconut and lentil soup as a starter, then set to work peeling parsnips, chopping a massive pot full of red cabbage, and mixing ground almonds with rosewater & honey for chocolate-coated marzipan bonbons, at three different workstations (one for salad, and seitan for the vegetarians, one for hot side dishes, and one for dessert).


Within a short space of time, fingers stained purple from the cabbage, we were feasting on the goose with psychedelic-hued 'rotkohl' in a buttery-textured apple juice and spice reduction, potato-parsnip-horseradish mash topped with crunchy candied pumpkin seeds, and a warm 'chutney' made of chopped chestnuts with rosemary and organic store-bought marmalade. Followed by the dark chocolate marzipan bon bons and a frozen parfait that our dessert team had made just a couple of hours earlier from whipped soya cream and crumbled spicy 'lebkuchen' gingerbread pieces.

To me, it seemed the soya cream didn't leave the same sour, sick sensation in the stomach that large amounts of regular cream tend to. So I felt it was my duty to indulge in multiple servings, each one doused with a spicy warm plum compote.
I'm sure I've never eaten so many ostensibly wholesome calories at one sitting.
But you know what they say. Gluttony only comes once a year.

Denis sorting 'postelein' leaves for the salad.

Erik the chestnut-preppin' weapon.

'Bonbonbaklat', said Jens.

Yannick's brother Sven has 3 michelin stars. Yannick doesn't eat a lot, but he's pretty good at cutting cabbage.

Genesis of rotkohl.


Christmas is coming, the Goose is getting fat (me too).

Lebkuchen parfait penitence.

So hungry!

Seriously. That's the name of the song, "ចង់ស្រក់ទឹកមាត់."

Dancer in the dark ages: Good wholesome German fun

medieval 2

A medieval festival at a schoolyard in Bonn


Parents who long to save their children from the perils of computer gaming, bad German rap and supermarket curry-ketchup can do worse than to visit regional Medieval festivals, where wholesome activities abound: from carving wooden daggers to weaving and paper making.

Food-wise, naturally there are the German staples of cake and currywurst, but there's also 'flammkuchen' roasted alsace flatbread with onions and bacon, and roasted wild boar - authentically unsalted, served from a dirty plank - and an activity of making campfire bread wrapped on sticks, which isn't typically medieval but keeps your little dragon-slayers silent and morose for 20 minutes or so.

Parents can enjoy wearing dead animals strapped to their belts, smoking fags next to the fake gallows and reminiscing about the days when German criminals were tortured with methods that resembled food preparation: hot oil, boiling and roasting. When gothic fonts were totally de rigeur, and sin was something to be wallowed in. What could be more wholesome than that?



The Week the Oven Stood Still

A stodgy rendition of chestnut rice

Boom - in between a batch of sweet potato oven fries and a soup, our oven went kaput. Ironically, it's the only appliance in the kitchen wired up by a qualified electrician. Yes, an electrician who works in the warehouse of a music distribution company and moonlights as a hip hop promoter, but totally qualified, he assured us...
We sometimes get electric shocks off our dishwasher too, so maybe it's time to get a professional electrician over. Thank god I have house shoes with rubber soles.
I'm sad that we may have to part with the brown 70s AEG porcelain-top oven that we got for 60 euros on ebay.

Maybe it's cold cuts and cheeses with bread for dinner the next 2 weeks - how very German.


I turn the house upside down looking for the Singaporean cookbook that came with our Panasonic rice cooker, but can't find it. I'm sure it's possible to cook a whole fish in that thing.
I do find the user-manual, which has basic instructions for using the rice cooker to steam food or bake cakes. I'm thinking a Mexican pineapple upside down cake cooked in a rice cooker could be elegant.
We have some frozen Korean dumplings. Fill the rice cooker with luke warm water, put dumplings in on plastic steamer insert, and set the steam function for ten minutes. A few minutes later and there's no sign or sound of the water heating.
We boil the jug and add boiling water to the ricecooker, and steam starts coming through the vent. And continues long enough to cook the dumplings. Success!


A simple spread with tomatoes from our colleague Wulf's balcony, and good Manufactum sourdough. Nothing beats the enchanting slimy stringiness of buffalo mozzarella.



Seems like a good idea to test drive the rice cooker with other grains, so it's time to try a wholegrain barley pilaf. The word 'pilaf' brings to mind '80s cooking magazines - and wholegrain barley is probably considered pig food in many parts of the world - but this dish was a very refined sort of pig food. Hearty, speckled with pine nuts and sprinkled with pecorino, complimented by a side of grilled eggplant done on the George Foreman grill.

If you close the lid in between adding ingredients to trap heat, you can definitely get a gentle simmer on and sauté ingredients to build up the flavour in your rice-cooker stew. You don't need much oil since the heat is low and the moisture is trapped. Of course, it helps if the recipe contains lots of umami components like red wine, mushrooms and a touch of curry powder... Although the rice cooker couldn't achieve a high enough heat to 'toast' the grains beforehand, it didn't affect the quality of the dish.

Note: there are some rice cooker recipes on the net for browning whole legs of lamb (presumably in big-ass industrial sized cookers), but it's very dubious that you could get the heat high enough to do so. The rice cooker is better for slow simmering and flavoursome hodge-podges.

barley pilaf

barley pilaf


I contemplate the eggs in the fridge and wonder if there's a way to microwave them. Better instead to cook some veg on our beat-up old George Foreman grill...hmmm, or maybe not. The George Foreman grill gave us a few good years of service, but chose to kark it tonight. Extraneous electrical appliances are all destined for the dust heap in the end...I'm all about manual egg-beaters and bicycle-powered dishwasher from now on.

Extraneous or not, it's now a choice between microwave and rice cooker if we want to have a hot meal. We choose the latter, and adapt a pumpkin curry recipe from Mira Mehta's 'Hajimete No Ryoori: Healthy Way to Indian Cooking'. It works really well in the rice cooker if you close the lid and let stew for 5 minutes when the recipe asks for stir frying, or cooking gently for that matter. It's one of those dishes which creates a magical chemistry between seemingly simple ingredients: the whole house is filled with a tantalising pumpkin-cinnamon scent from the vapours escaping the rice cooker vent. Highly recommended.

Mira Mehta's Pumpkin Curry - serves 4
1 kg butternut peeled & cut into bite size chunks
1 large tomato chopped
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 dried red chilli
3 cm cinnamon stick
3/4 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1/2 tsp chilli powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil
coriander leaves for garnish

1. add oil to pan or rice cooker, when hot add red chilli & cinnamon stick - as soon as they become fragrant, add the tomato & cook gently for a minute or two. Add the green chilli, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin and chili powder and stirfry 2-3 min.
3. Add pumpkin, stir, marinate for a minute or so then add salt & 2 cups water.
4. Cover or close lid, turn heat to low. Cook circa 20 min (or one white-rice-setting cycle) until pumpkin is tender. Serve & garnish with coriander (or not..).


Hiroko Shimbo's book The Japanese Kitchen has a lot of great rice cooker recipes: rice with oysters, rice with beef, burdock and porcini, etc. We decide to go for the classic chestnut rice - but it doesn't turn out perfectly, even though I spend what feels like 30min washing the short grain rice beforehand. Maybe the brand of rice was sub par, maybe the fancy canned french chestnuts weren't strong enough in flavour. Next time we'll try the dish with brown rice (for its sturdy flavour and sturdily shaped grains) and roast some of the fresh chestnuts that have just come into season.

Carbs galore. Craving a more hearty sort of rice dish, we try out the brown rice & tea porridge (genmai chagayu) from the website Just Hungry. Cooked in roasted bancha tea using the rice cooker's 'slow cook/porridge' setting, dotted with tasty lentils, dusted with furikake flavour sprinkles, and accompanied with salad and a soft-boiled egg, it is a satisfyingly simple brothy autumn dish, but due to brown rice being a little TOO impervious to mushiness, it doesn't really achieve the proper gloopy okayu texture until it's reheated the next morning.

rice cooker


Our new ebay stovetop and oven arrive, but oops - we somehow manage to smash the door of the oven into a million tiny pieces...Apparently you are not supposed to lift it up by the handle on the front.
Sandwiches for dinner, anyone?

Above, Lemon Candy (Chara's j-pop is no doubt an acquired taste). Below, an arguably more tasteful song, ostensibly about Lemon Yoghourt.

The author of the below song, Caribou aka Manitoba, played at Barcelona's Sonar festival earlier this year. He is a trained mathematician and looked a treat in salmon coloured socks. We took him & his band to dinner after the show, and his charming Silverlake-based flexitarian bass-player had no choice but to dig into an endless round of ham shavings and rare beef slivers. We wondered if the restaurant would serve blood ice cream for dessert. Barcelona might be my favourite place on earth.

Most disturbing quote of the day ever

Many people think your brain controls your fat. We promote the idea that your fat controls your brain.

From the Huffington Post "Your Fat Cells Control Your Brain" ------ arghhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Does this mean my fat actually wrote my doctorate? Should I just get the University registrar to hand the degree directly over to my ass?

Yakitori Song

Move over Sukiyaki Song. Nuff respect to Jetdaisuke for combining two of my favourite things, yakitori and electro, with his ode to liver on a stick.

Jetdaisuke's youtube channel includes reviews of yoghurt, icepacks, pink cherry blossom-flavoured curries and diary-style snippets of drinking temple beer or barbecuing tuna eyes.
But his real strength lies in his synthesiser reviews. Highlights include his filmed first impressions of the Otomatone and the Microkorg XL, on which the above Yakitori song was composed.
Personally I find his curry reviews a little too out-of-the-box, using the familiar "oishii!" money shot formula, as seen on TV. Whereas his passion for wacky presets and assorted elecronic nerd gear is much less, shall we say, filtered.

"Is he eating an apple?":

Review of kanji/animal toys with gum inside:

Kelp curry: "You can discern a slight kombu/kelp colour, can't you."

Tuna eyes on the grill:

At Laaassttt...Meat a benign extravagance

"...daft assumptions underlie the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's famous claim that livestock are responsible for 18% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, a higher proportion than transport. Fairlie shows that it made a number of basic mistakes. It attributes all deforestation that culminates in cattle ranching in the Amazon to cattle: in reality it is mostly driven by land speculation and logging. It muddles up one-off emissions from deforestation with ongoing pollution. It makes similar boobs in its nitrous oxide and methane accounts, confusing gross and net production. (Conversely, the organisation greatly underestimates fossil fuel consumption by intensive farming: its report seems to have been informed by a powerful bias against extensive livestock keeping.)

Overall, Fairlie estimates that farmed animals produce about 10% of the world's emissions: still too much, but a good deal less than transport. He also shows that many vegetable oils have a bigger footprint than animal fats, and reminds us that even vegan farming necessitates the large-scale killing or ecological exclusion of animals: in this case pests. On the other hand, he slaughters the claims made by some livestock farmers about the soil carbon they can lock away."

Read more here

and here

Food Wars

Just a little something to help you sleep better at night......I just read this on the New Agriculturalist site....

To meet growing demand, FAO estimates that food production will have to increase 70 per cent by 2050....demand for food is rising two per cent per year - a combination of continuing population growth and increasing demand by growing middle class appetites for livestock products - while food production lags at one per cent per annum. However, with expanding megacities and industries demanding much increased share of water, with oil production past its peak, and cities and leisure facilities expanding over fertile land, farmers are faced with producing more with less. The promise of further scientific advances through genetic modification have yet to be fulfilled, and will have to offer (and quickly) plants that grow with less water, on less fertile soils, and cope with rising temperatures that compromise seed-setting in rice and other cereals.

Then I stumbled upon this gallery of world war two posters.....which seemed to aptly fit with the whole doomy mood of my internets readings today


Cuts of Pork - bring the noise

Kook to Cook

Food Envy

So we have been living in Auckland since March when our plans to move back to Asia crumbled along side Thailand's aspirations towards democracy.

We are still working on "Plan B".

It's not so bad. The winter here is very mild. I go jogging around Mission Bay on sunny days and think that life is on the whole pretty good.

However, I am experiencing extreme, cross-Tasman national level food envy.

Let me explain. You know how when you go to a restaurant and order the wrong thing and wished you had ordered what your friend ordered and spend the rest of the evening eyeing up their plate? Well it's like that but on a national level.

I once thought that Canberra was at the ass end of all agro-food supply chains. How wrong I was. I've decided that New Zealand now takes that dubious title. Being an major agro-exporter to the world and extremely proud of its local food culture, I know that any New Zealander would argue that I am wrong until they are blue in the face. To which I would respond with a big fat "whateva". Yes we export a whole lotta milk powder...ngeah!

And I can say that because I am a bourgeois female – vanguard of the 21st century – the new working class male (Make way for a whole new type of chauvanism people!!! Possibly involving unbleached tampons) . I also think that most notable food critics and chefs agree with me. I've noticed in the local food press that journalists love to ask visiting food dignitaries such as Rick Stein and others what they think of New Zealand food. The overwhelming response that I have noticed is a slightly uncomfortable shifting in one's seat followed by the very diplomatic comment "it has come a long way from where it was before".

Which isn't really that far. Quite frankly I think the food here, the quality and the variety can be pretty second rate. Given the very small size of the local population, their limited spending power and generally unadventurous palates, top quality, interesting produce does not make much of a showing on most supermarket shelves or farmer's market tables (back in April, I was outraged on a fishing trip to Leigh that the local fishery there does not do any public sales and exports all of its catch directly overseas).

In the meantime, I have been endlessly taunted by Australian cooking shows. MasterChef Australia, SBS's Luke Nguyen's Vietnam and Food Safari have been goading me on cable tv. I have a serious case of Australian food envy. Sitting here in the living room eating yet more kumera, broccoli and chicken, I'm amazed to learn that the Maltese community of Australia is large enough that they make their own Gbejniet. Luke casually mentions that you can buy most varieties of mango and Vietnamese herbs in Australia now and I grimace (not in NZ tho). And to add insult to injury, histrionic Masterchef contestants get to cook with massive pieces of truffles (I asked for a truffle for my birthday but the NZ truffle crop rotted in the floods this season and of course no one imports them because NZer are just too poor to buy them, meanwhile Canberra had a bumper crop).

I love New Zealand, it will always be home. It will always be my birth place. But an unfortunate part of being a New Zealander is feeling like the poor and envious sibling of Australia. To bring it back to the intimate scale of a dining table. It's like always going out to dinner with the same friend who is richer, luckier, more worldly, interesting and louder than you and always gets the better meal...every single time.

Quote of the Day

Miller (1995) views consumption rather than production as the new vanguard of history and as a key site through which political options must be articulated. He suggests that it is the bourgeois female rather than the working-class male who will become the progressive force in the twenty-first century

LESLIE, D. & REIMER, S. (1999) Spatializing Commodity Chain. Progress in Human Geography, 23, 401-420.

Is Alice Waters the vanguard of history?

Photo of the Day


Courtesy of my one-time boss in Tokyo, Jun Inoue, via Facebook. Jun more often posts pics of glistening meaty noodle soups and bacon-draped cabbage, but below is the slightly more wholesome proposition of 118 aji and 2 saba fish.


Quote of the Day

There is no wine appropriate for salad.

Joël Robuchon goes on to say that chocolate is also hard to match with wine. He suggests a better choice is flat water, fortified wine "with chocolate accents", or perhaps coffee.

In his Complete Robuchon, the yoda-like Frenchman also suggests taking eggs out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to boil them.

Move Over Mr Coffee

"My father's a farmer from birth. My auntie, great auntie, they're all farmers."
So says Rohan Marley, son of Bob, and co-founder of Marley coffee, which is grown to Ital certified standards. Marley Coffee plans to expand its market from the US to the UK by end of year, and says their aim is improve the lives of farmers while promoting organic farming. The promo vids (above/below) inform about the loss of top soil in Jamaica and the teachings of rastafari, alongside footage of assorted cute kids with bright white teeth who describe their dreams of becoming pediatricians.

In what XLR8R calls "a hip hop first," LA coffee purveyors Intelligentsia (home to at least one award-winning barista) have launched a limited-run blend named after Stones Throw producer Madlib aka the mad kid. They describe the blend as "syrupy and sweet," but they might just as well have described it as "sticky icky" in reference to another west coast hip hop legend.

What's next - artisan Black Milk cocoa powder?
Peanut Butter Wolf's homemade grape jelly?
or MF Doom's yard bird pizza and beer combi packs.


Lyrics: MF Doom - One Beer
"She asked him to autograph her derriere, it read
To wide load, this yard bird tastes like fried toad.

Study how to eat, to dine by the pizza guy
No, he's not too fly to skeet in a skezzer eye

A whole string of jobs like we're on tour
Every night on the score, we're coming to your corner store"

Side effects of food

Word on the street is that comedian Louis CK was the best act so far at this year's Edinburgh Festival. So here are some food-related gags from him.

Cake on Floor

Sadly, despite my deepest intentions & dearest wishes, I forgot to organise a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month. Blast!

Back in the day I was a comedy groupie, and one of my fave comedians was Ross Noble, who made a few return trips to NZ to do psychedelic stream of consciousness rants that stood in stark relief next to the rehearsed routines of the other comedians.

Why just be funny when you can also incite civic unrest? (See sausage roll clips below)

Another tasty option for live buffoonery is the Glasgow Comedy Festival each April – some day I want to go there, and partake of the infamous Glasgow deep fried vegetarian haggis. Speaking of comedy.

Advanced wine blending techniques

Comedian Zach Galifianakis drinks from his wine helmet. From the blog of photographer, Terry Richardson

ឆាវខ្វៃ and moto parts for sale!

One of my favorite Chinese contributions to Khmer food is cha kvai (ឆាវខ្វៃ). Cha kvai are fried dough sticks, more like crullers than churros. They are sold in pairs, for dipping in or adding to your noodle soup. I got hooked on them in Phnom Penh. But I would bet that they, like the Teochew people, may be found throughout Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, they are most commonly found on restaurant tables alongside the condiments in the morning, and any given restaurant's supply is usually all eaten up by noon. Initially, I had assumed that each restaurant made their own. But after long hours of observation (lots of mornings sitting eating my soup and taking my coffee), I realized that they seemed to be produced elsewhere and either delivered to restaurants in the mornings by courier or picked up by restaurant employees. I stumbled upon one of these cha kvai production facilities one morning near Psah Kandaal.

During business hours, it is just an unassuming moto parts shop.

But early in the early morning, it is a bustling hub of fried dough production!

If you want to make your own: http://lilyng2000.blogspot.com/2007/05/yau-char-kway-ii.html

Quote of the Day

The 1969-70 "Menu" B-52 bombings of Cambodia's border areas, which American commanders labelled Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Dinner, Desert and Snack, aimed to destroy the mobile headquarters of the South Vietnamese "Vietcong" and the North Vietnamese Army (VC/NVA) in the Cambodian jungle. However, these and later bombardments forced the Vietnamese communists further west and deeper into Cambodia, and ultimately radicalized Cambodian local people against Lon Nol's regime.

Ben Kiernan and Taylor Owen on the similarities between the current war with Afghanistan and the past bombing of Cambodia

Cracking the Code

A couple of years ago, my hometown paper published a story which caught my eye...

They told the story of the reverse engineering of KFC's secret fried chicken recipe by Ron Douglas (pictured above, and below on YouTube). Committed to cracking the KFC code and re-creating his favorite chain restaurant dishes in his home, Douglas had quit his job as a finance manager on Wall Street in order to devote all of his energy to his quest. He now runs a website for folks who do the same thing and sells cookbooks full of recipes so you can join in the fun.

This is interesting. I both self-identify as, and follow food media targeted at, the sort who appreciates DIY and some reified notion of authenticity. Generally, I eschew chain restaurants preferring instead independently-owned businesses. And here is a whole community (check out the forum) devoted to folks who are doing the same thing (DIY, authenticity) but with an eye towards franchises. Neat!

For another fun take on franchise food, check out the food stylings of Fancy Fast Food too!

Michael Phillips wins World Barista Championships

Image: gratuitous yellow grinder, via Village Voice

Giorgio Milos wrote as an aside on The Atlantic website yesterday that Intelligentsia barista Michael Phillips won this year's World Barista Championship at the end of June. On the official championship website you can link to a streamed video of the competition.

Other finalists were: Raul Rodas (Guatemala), Scottie Callaghan (Australia), Colin Harmon (Ireland), Soren Stiller Markussen (Denmark), and Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece).

Although no kiwis placed in the finals, several New Zealanders are on the judging panel, including newly certified Wellingtonian Jessica Godfrey, who has her espresso machine plumbed in at her house to get proper water pressure. I guess everyone in Wellington does. Don't you?

Check out a recent post here on Gut Feelings for pictures of the LA workplace of the winning barista – where they play early Nas records, allow cute mongrel dogs inside, and make good joe. As a friend wrote recently on twitter about Intelligentsia, "It's the little things".

Chinese word-play

The Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog recently had a couple of neat posts on the multiple meanings of plant names in Chinese. They addressed pak choy...

...Chinese characters for pak choy, or Chinese cabbage (白菜), can also be pronounced to mean “100 types of prosperity and luck.” Which explains why this vegetable is a favourite of Chinese jade carvers...

and peanuts...

...the peanut (huasheng 花生) is an auspicious symbol because its second character (sheng 生) means “to give birth.”

Shu Flies has more on the jade pak choy pictured above (from the National Palace Museum in Taiwan) and on carved jade cabbage, in general. Additionally, on a note unrelated to cabbages and peanuts, she touches on the most brilliant bit of stone carving I have ever seen. Check out the picture here. Seriously.

When the smell's all gone-- follow-up

Last night, I posted a link to a song by Sapoun Midada in which he drowns the pain of romantic loss in coffee at a roadside stand. However, others experience the drowning of emotions in coffee quite differently:

Sad coffee music...


Mr Potato Head


Satirical German magazine Titanic this week lampoons presidential candidate Christian Wulff by comparing him to a knödel dumpling. The headline reads: "Merkel's Recipe for a Crisis: Now a Knödel will become president."

The magazine has a history of food-related gags - publishing caricatures of former chancellor Kohl's head as a pear in the '80s. They spoofed East German's obsession with bananas following the fall of the wall, with the cover depicting an Easterner holding her "first banana" which is in fact a cucumber.

City of Angels


On the way back from New Zealand I stopped off to visit a friend who recently moved to Venice, LA. It seemed like an idyllic place to live, with broad deserted back streets for cycling on, hot sun, happy-looking hounds, oranges hanging on trees, good-tasting cerviche and a surfeit of free condiments in the take-out burrito shops: like free pickled radish and jalapenos, and free tortilla chips.

The only thing that comes free back home in Cologne, is ironically cheap men's cologne (from a big bottle on the counter at a Turkish take-out in Mülheim).

Another cool thing about Venice, apart from the breaded deep fried Jalapeno poppers filled with yellow string-cheese, is a coffee shop called Intelligentsia on Abbot-Kinney. They do single-origin espresso from a 1972 La Marzocco, as well as selling chic beverage apparatus like chemex coffee makers, tulip-shaped heat-retentive glasses, aqua-glazed Japanese tea cups, & painted children's mugs from Denmark.

1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd | Venice, CA 90291




An Intelligentsia tea-ologist at work, note how he is concentrating on his stop watch:


Delicious flat white from Intelligentsia.


Sakura-mochi and Sea-flavoured Jelly at Kura


Pictured: two of my favourite things to eat in the entire world, black sesame ice cream and sakura mochi, at Kura in Auckland. (The sakura mochi, a sign of spring half a hemisphere away, was served warm).

When we turned up, my friend David said "I'm interested to see what you think this time," which didn't exactly raise my expectations. The quality at decent restaurants tends to go down over time, and on a visit a year ago Kura seemed to have, at best, hit a plateau.
But instead I was pleased to find their delicious braised tongue was back on the menu, and the presentation of the specials had a bit more tender loving care, like the plate below (from the daily specials menu), with a yummy bite-sized square of cold seafood consommé en gelée with little nameko mushrooms in it, andh other treats like genmai-zushi topped with shredded shiso.

That plate only cost 14 dollars, which felt like a bargain compared to food of a similar quality in Europe. And bargain is not a word you say often in NZ these days when it comes to food.


The World's Longest Vegetarian Bratwurst

vege bratwurst

My dear workmate Niklas went to Düsseldorf on Saturday to join the festivities for the world's longest vegetarian bratwurst (101 meters) held by Metzgerei Schnitzel e.V.

Niklas kindly shared these pics with Gut Feelings, writing: "I am still somewhat dazzled by yesterday's events, but I am sure the photos give a first impression of the Wurst-Stimmung (vibe). Sadly I do not have any shots of Rüdiger Shaw (you couldn't make that up), the english-accented official of the Guiness Book Of Records who kept parading around, wearing a strict face and a big badge....

The best thing about the evening was that it was exactly like you would wish a "strassenfest" to be, what with the marching band, kids collecting empty bottles for sweets-money, and the general good natured spirit of things. i should go to düsseldorf more, really."

The rest of the photos below show the entire event from start to finish. Personally I find it very charming to see all these people coming together around a really long sausage.

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The sausage was cooked on the disposable foil BBQ trays you can buy at every supermarket.

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