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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Milkshakes and Chicken

We booked a reservation at Rose & Sons, even though it is a small diner, mostly because they had the option to on the website and if we showed up and they had no tables, we’d be left kicking ourselves. It was a good thing we did, when we got there the place was packed. We were seated a long table with a group of annoying guys. Thankfully they left soon after we arrived and we did not have to listen to their incessant banter anymore. We were at Rose & Sons because they were voted best milkshake, but you need more than that for dinner. Especially if you are not very fond of milkshakes. There is just something about them, something I dislike.

What Rose & Sons actually deserves get voted as best is the fried chicken. The chicken was amazing, just the right amount of spicy. It was sticky and saucy but it still had the crunch of fried chicken under all that sauce. It was easily one of the best chicken dinners I have ever had, far better than the one from Momofuku and at 1/10th the cost too. I had a bite of Brent’s patty melt, and it was OK, but we quickly traded back. The mac and cheese that came with the chicken quickly became too much. It was way too cheesey and the bacon bits were not helping.

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Brent ordered the creamsicle milkshake, a combination of two things I hate. I did have a sip, and it tasted exactly like a creamsicle. The other merit to the milkshake is the size. Rose & Sons got that one right: it is a reasonable sized milkshake, not the behemoths you usually think of when you think milkshake.

 

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Decadent Brownies

Our friends recently announced that they were engaged, we were going to celebrate for the weekend in Kitchener. Aha, the perfect excuse to whip out a recipe I had been wanting to try for a while now: Oreo brownies! Except, I was inspired at the last minute to make it a half batch. The other half would be Reese’s mini peanut butter cups brownies! It was a lot of fun crushing the Oreos, a great stress relief that I highly recommend. I did end up eating more than a few.

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The peanut butter cup ones won out over the Oreos. The peanut butter cups added a little bit of saltiness to the brownies that was so good. The brownies were decadent, delicious and a fun mess to make. I used the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, as it is not fun to make stuff from a box.

 
 

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The Frozen Dessert That Almost Killed My Blender

I had it in my head that because it was summer, I should make  a delicious summer treat. And what better treat than frozen yogurt? I found a simple recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt. Toss some fruit and yogurt with a touch of honey in a food processor and freeze it. Simple! Except, I do not have a food processor. I figured a blender was close enough, right?

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Wrong. The damn thing nearly died. The motor sounded like it would stop at an moment, and it stunk!!! I have learned my lesson, there is a difference between the two and they cannot be swapped out. It did finally blend smoothly. After freezing it however, it came out a solid block. I left it out to thaw as suggested in the comments… but then it sort of curdled! It was an epic fail.

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in I Will One Day Attempt To Make This

 

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Chicken and Wine

It took us a while after getting back from vacation to get back into the swing of things with fooding. Best Portuguese chicken* was re-voted… the new place, Sardinha Rei Dos Frangos was literally across the street from our old apartment. One Friday night we found ourselves back in the old neighbourhood, reminiscing and noticing all the little changes, including the chicken place itself, the sign was new. The place was really busy. It was also a little awkward, the woman serving us seemed confused that Brent wanted potatoes and fries, as if it is impossible for someone to not want rice. The chicken was amazing, and the sides were really good too (I had the rice and potatoes), much better than the previous place. We sat outside on the patio enjoying the warm summer weather. It was all well and good until a stupid wasp started buzzing around.

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Camilla and Cathy had joined us for dinner, together we went off to Midfield, best wine bar and best wine bar patio. The weather was finally nice enough for an evening on the patio. And we finally had enough people to be able to split a bottle of wine on said patio.Good times all around.

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* it has since been re-voted AGAIN, I just can’t keep up!

 

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Pinka’s World Cup World Tour: Day 18

Tues. July 22, 2014:
Brussels, Belgium to Toronto, Canada:

Somehow the early wake-up was less tragic than usual. Maybe because unlike usual, we would have time for breakfast? The Speculoos butter sandwich I had for breakfast got to be too much towards the end, the sugar was making my teeth hurt. Even on our last day, heading to the airport, it was raining.

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I was sad that the trip was over, but I also needed a return to normalcy, no more McDonalds or walking for hours on end. It was a pain in the butt to get the free wi-fi at the airport, I had to register but I guess it was worth it to get more podcasts. In the airport I saw a Coca Cola machine that had Mannekin Pis on it; I will never understand the Belgians love of that statue. I was inexplicably already hungry before we had even boarded the plane. On the plane we were seated near the front, which was great because we were the first ones off it. While leaving the plane I noticed a lady had a duty-free bag that had a fancy tin of Speculoos cookies in it: CRAP, I could have been eating more Speculoos cookies!!! In Dublin, Ireland we had to go through security again and Brent had to toss out the Jupiler beers he had bought for Josh and Ryan. We joked that the security guard would probably fish them out later.

We were in the same terminal as last time, the crappier of the two. We did not have a lot of lunch options. We had to settle for Burger King, we had 3 hours time to kill and did not know if there would be food served on the flight home. The Double XL Bacon Cheeseburger almost killed me, I could barely finish the last bite it was so bad. I only ordered the damn thing because it had no vegetables in it. I stopped for coffee at Butler’s Chocolate Shop, it was so nice that they gave you a complimentary piece of chocolate with your order.

We sat around in the main lounge for a while. Being antsy, I kept getting up and walking around, looking in all the shops. We got to our gate just as boarding had started, we had timed it perfectly. We started watching The LEGO Movie before take-off, it was so good! but then the TVs got turned off for take-off and when they came back on our spot had not been saved. Brent’s TV was not working, so while it rebooted we had to share headphones and watch on mine. Then it took us a while to manage to sync up our screens so we were watching at the same time. After that we watched the first five episodes of House of Cards, it was addictively good. The dinner on the flight was not that good: spicy curry chicken and for dessert a spicy ginger cookie. On the flight I had my last Fanta of the trip. Later in the flight we were also given granola bars that were advertised as “better than kissing the blarney stone”, not much of a selling point that it tastes better than a rock.

July 22, 2014 (5)

Our flight landed half an hour early. After 18 days in Europe I was in desperate need of a few lazy days, sitting around doing nothing, a “vacation” as they call it.

 

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Pinka’s World Cup World Tour: Day 17

Mon. July 21, 2014:
Cologne, Germany to Brussels, Belgium:

It turned out that breakfast was not included with our hotel room, and it cost a whopping €20/person! We went with option B, breakfast from the gas station. I had a pretty decent croissant with a Nutella filling and an iced coffee (the can had coffee beans on it, so I assumed it was coffee). Thankfully we also still had snacks left over from the day before. The Haribo sour gummy fries were delicious; the white chocolate Lion bar was not as good as the original.

The rain had let up while we ate breakfast. Rather than try to figure out the lockers at the trains station we left our bags at the hotel front desk. After buying our train tickets to Brussels for the afternoon we set off in search of the Locks of Love Bridge. We knew it would be near the train line, we had seen it when we first got in. we could not find a path to it from the side by the Dom Cathedral, so we cut through the train station to the other side of the train tracks, logically we should be able to get to it from there. After wandering past the bus terminal and through a parking lot, all the while able to see the bridge we finally found stairs leading up it, rejoice!

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The locks were very dense in the middle of the bridge. Some people had put bike locks; there were even a few broken hearts. The locks were all different sizes, colours and quality. Some had been etched others drawn on with marker. Some even had photographs stuck on them. We crossed under the bridge and to the other side. Walking back we had a great view of the entire Hohenzollern Bridge and the Dom Cathedral in the background. This was clearly the more popular side of the bridge, given how many more locks there were. Some people even added chains to make more room, others were double-locked. I sort of regret not having planned ahead and brought a lock.

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The Dom Cathedral was packed, partly because there was a mass going on. I quickly figured out that there was a separate entrance to the belfry for the stair climb. We managed to get ahead of a giant group of tourists. The sign by the ticket booth said that there were 509 steps to the top: oh my god, I thought, this sounds terrible!! There were a lot less look-out stops on the way to the top. The only stop was the room with the bells. Just as we were leaving it, the bells started to ring. We ran back but it was too late, we had missed it. We had to circle around the room again (it was a one direction hallway, circling the bells).

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There were little open slits of windows throughout the tower, letting in a breath of fresh air that was desperately needed. I was sweating so badly. I really needed that cool air. The view from the top was obstructed by metal grating that had been put up to prevent people from further graffiting the church. All available surface in the cathedral had been scribbled on, not just the walls of the belfry but also the gargoyles at the top, the buttresses, everything! It was appalling.

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On the way back down there was a stupid lady who was counting all the steps. We stopped at the bell level again. We waited 13 minutes for the bells to ring and one bell only rung twice. It did not even move, just a little unseen hammer dinged the bell. It was rather unsatisfying. I wondered if the upper windows had once had stained glass in them, now they were just frames like stained glass windows without the stained glass. Back on ground level mass was over and we were free to wander the cathedral without being a nuisance. The cathedral was gorgeous with lots of beautiful stained glass windows and high vaulted ceilings.

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For lunch we tried the nearby McDonalds again, but it was crammed. I remembered seeing a McDonalds in the train station so we went there instead. My salsa beef burger had much more salsa this time, it was a lot spicier. I regretted not getting a drink. The Bounty McFlurry was not as good as the Daim one. My back-up dessert plan had set sail: the yogurt boat was gone.

At the archaeological dig site there were only three people and they were on lunch. We got to the train station with 45 minutes before the train. I wandered around the giant concourse below. The Dunkin’ Donuts had a huge line-up, so much for my coffee fix. I ended up buying an iced coffee, but decided to save it, unsure of what the breakfast situation would be the next day.

This was by far one of the worse train rides of the trip. We did not have reserved seats, every other time we had managed to find seats. Not so this time. Even more infuriating was the fact that there were unclaimed reserved seats that were empty. The train was very crowded; there was luggage and people standing around everywhere. The ride was bumpy and twisty. Making things worse, I ran out of podcasts to listen to. Thankfully I had downloaded another book on the iPad, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. It is not comfortable to read a book while standing on a moving train. I eventually resorted to just staring out the window. This was all well and good until I saw a terrifying sight: a row of military tanks on the highway taking the offramp. WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?! I thought to myself in a mild panic.

At the hotel shuttle at the airport we met another couple from Toronto. They were old and they were talkative. I was too tired for their banter. The upside to staying at a hotel near the airport is that you are close and there is a shuttle. The downside is that your dining options are limited to what is available at the hotel (unless you drive/take a cab somewhere). We were staying at the same brand of hotel as the previous day, but thankfully today the restaurant was open.

Dinner at the hotel restaurant was the same stuff that was on the room service menu, sans the room service charge of course. The Belle-Vue Framboise beer was nice and refreshing. The curry chicken with rice hit the spot, it was a nice change. I was still kind of sick of Belgian frites. The tiramisiu we had for dessert was ok, but I would have rather eaten candy and Ben & Jerry’s. The TV was finally really good. I watched a few episodes of The Simpsons but then Bones came on and I did not like that it was filmed like a reality TV show (visually clearer, no filter?). We realized we would have to do breakfast at the hotel. There was nothing good at the airport.

 

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Pinka’s World Cup World Tour: Day 16

Sun. July 20, 2014:
Essen to Cologne, Germany:

The next morning Essen was empty. We did pass by a nightclub that was still playing music and there were two people outside, but that was it. The next person I saw was the lady behind the counter at Dunkin’ Donuts (which thankfully was open early). They had the biggest selection of donuts I have ever seen. They had some wacky ones like kiwi icing on a chocolate donut or a vanilla donut with melon icing. To go with my vanilla coffee (which she understood to mean vanilla latte) I had a chocolate nougat donut (basically a Nutella donut) and an unpronounceable one with blue icing that turned out to be blackberry jam filled. The donuts were very fresh and totally made my morning, even though I had ordered three and she had misunderstood.

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The train arriving before ours was straight out of the board game Thurn & Taxis: Wurzburg to Nurnberg to Passau. We settled in for an hour long train ride to Cologne. As soon as we were off the train and out of the station we found ourselves in the midst of a crowd of people. The lockers in the train station were too confusing. We opted for leaving our bags at the Roman-German museum. We were a little lost at first. Leaving the train station we had to go around the cathedral to get to the museum. Not easy when all you want to do is gawk at the cathedral in all its architectural glory.

They did not have English guides to give us at the museum, we had to make do with the selective English information that was given only on some displays. It was hard to appreciate some of the things as they were out of context and we knew nothing about them. After a while it started to get a little bit repetitive, tombstone, coin, lamp, repeat. Clearly this museum does not share their collection, or there are just a ton of artifacts from this area and time period. The coolest thing by far was the preserved mosaic tile floor. The tour guides were keen on this; you could look into the museum through the window and see it, not having paid the admission fee.

Up next we went to the Museum Ludwig next door. The museum was focused on more modern art, but thankfully they had the good sense to exhibit mostly good stuff like Lichenstein, Warhol, Rauschenberg, Magritte, Picasso and even a piece by Duchamp). They even had works by Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky. There was one piece in the middle of a room that looked like metal scaffolding. Part of the museum was under renovation, I assumed this was part of it. Turns out I was wrong; this metal scrap was “art” according to the informative sign.

We tried to go to McDonalds for lunch, but it was crammed with tourists. No surprise, given it was across the street from the cathedral and the train station. We bailed and went to the hotel instead. We passed by a cruise ship, on the side it said Captain M. Van Houten (Milhouse from The Simpsons). We passed by a guy standing in a wading pool drinking a beer. While checking in, Brent made the front desk lady laugh by pretending to not know when my birthday was.

On the way to the hotel I had spotted a gas station, complete with convenience store, across the street from us. No sooner had we left our bags, we went on a supply run. We had a Ritter Sport marzipan chocolate for lunch and I grabbed some fizzy peach iced tea for later. I also noted that they had a decent Ben & Jerry’s selection, for later. We left our snacks at the hotel and set back out again to explore Cologne. On our way we saw a party boat cruise advertising free yogurt. It was the weirdest thing; you could go aboard, eat some yogurt and drink beer while a German band played.

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We were on our way to the last museum of the day (last museum of the trip?): the Wallraf Richartz museum. Thankfully for my poor aching legs, the museum was only three floors. The museum’s art collection ranged from medieval 13th century to impressionist 19th century art, so we would not have to endure any more modern art. I was not looking forward to the medieval paintings, but they had some paintings by Albrecht Durer, so that was a nice surprise (he is a staple in art history). Towards the end we got stuck near a really irritating group of people. They would photograph the art and the info panel and then move on to the next one, barely glancing at the painting itself. It was driving me nuts.

Afterwards we went across the street to look at an archaeological dig site. There was a tour group there though. It was decided we would come back the next day, I really wanted to see people hard at work at the dig site (it was Sunday, so there was no one there). Up next we went to look at a church that had been bombed during WWII and never rebuilt. It was preserved in its wrecked state and somehow hauntingly beautiful.

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We stopped at kiosk to look at the beer selection. While in there I discovered that kiosk is German for “cramped and not air-conditioned shop that should not be selling chocolate bars.” My chocolate was a melted mess and impossible to eat. As we walked back to the hotel Brent pointed out a girl walking ahead of us who looked exactly like me. My doppelganger was really freaking me out; I could not make heads or tails of the situation and was very confused by it all. We stopped at a food stand for a quick bite. I had ordered a bratwurst but the woman had misheard me and we ended up getting currywurst instead. It was still good, but a little odd. The sausage was chopped up and served in curry sauce with a bun on the side. It was terribly messy to eat and my fingers ended up smelling like curry.

It turned out that our hotel restaurant was closed on Sundays and dinner was served at the hotel bar. For dinner we had to eat somewhere that accepted credit card, it was the end of the trip and we were running low on Euros. I did not like the looks of the hotel bar. I searched for nearby places while enjoying my (heavenly!) fizzy peach iced tea and watching The Simpsons dubbed over in German. After translating the website of a promising pub I found out it was under renovations. I had written down a few places on our city map and we headed out. The first place we went to did not have a food menu and the beer menu was subpar, especially for a place that was voted second best bar in the city. After some wandering we found a place in the square. I was getting frustrated, and I was really hungry. I was about ready to give up on this place too, but thankfully the guy brought us English menus.

I had the “Munich style” white sausage, it came with a pretzel and honey mustard on the side. It was amazing; this was easily one of the best meals of the trip. Brent had ordered the black forest ham sandwich; it was hilarious how it was presented: he had to assemble the sandwich himself. That meant I could steal a piece of the ham though. Turns out what I had thought was black forest ham was just regular ham, this was nothing like what I had eaten before: it was so much better!!! It was nice to sit back and relax; looking at the cathedral we could hear the bells ringing. I could not help but laugh at the coasters on the table, they had pictures of naked girls riding bikes (apparently as far as I can tell, the beer is as refreshing as biking naked through a field).

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Walking back we saw that the yogurt boat party was still going, but the girls in Bavarian costume were gone, so much for free yogurt for dessert. We stopped at the gas station for Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream and some more Haribo gummies (sour mix this time). This time I got mango iced tea, so good! i had gotten a Kinder Surprise egg, and what a surprise indeed: it opened into two halves, one had the toy and the other had two Ferrreo Rocher-type chocolates in a white Nutella spread, there was even a spoon stuck to the divider. It was very bizarre. While we ate ice cream we watched Spongebob Square Pants, even dubbed in German it was still understandable. The only English options for TV were news channels like CNN. The ice cream proved to be too much, the peanut butter cups were too big and we stuck in the fridge for later.

July 20. 2014- Cologne (21)

 

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