East side gallery

While most of the Berlin wall has long-since been removed, there are a few places where sections have been preserved, in particular the East Side Gallery is a 1.3km section of the wall that has been turned into an outdoors art gallery. We only walked a small section of it, but they gallery goes on forever. There are a total of 102 paintings, and these are just the few that we saw. The gallery is something that you must visit in Berlin; the art is though-provoking and interesting.

Brandenburg Gate

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Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” – US President Ronald Reagan Brandenburg Gate, June 12 1987.

It was two years later that the wall went down. The Brandenburg Gate was build in the 1800’s, and has often a site for major historical events, including the above-mentioned speech. During the cold war it remained closed as part of the Berlin wall, and now it symbolises the unification of Germany.

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Its a truly grand structure to walk under as you wonder from the beautuul buulevard of Unter den Linden to the Reichstag parlimentary buildings.

From Germany to Poland

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I was standing in Gorlitz, the eastern-most town in Germany. Looking across the bridge you see the town of Zgorzelec, the western-most town in Poland. It was a simple matter to pop across to Poland for lunch. Well it would have been if the restaurant we wanted to visit wasn’t full.

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The Temple of Apollo, Deplhi

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The Temple of Apollo is where you go to speak to the oracle, and while the oracle always tells the truth, its not always in the way you expect. The temple is high up in the Parnassos mountains in Greece. You have to drive up a long and windy road to get there; I can only imagine what it would have been like to get there without modern transport. And walking around the temple grounds requires lots of hilly walking.

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When we visited Delphi we received a message of sort from the oracle. Lois was bertween guide-dogs, and a stray dog walked up to us and gently grabbed onto and pulled Lois’ white cane, released it and wondered off. A few days later Lois got a call from SA guide-dogs to tell them that they had a dog for her.

Delphi will always be a special place.

Polish Zurek

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This is one of my favouriate meals; Zurek, or Polish sour soup. It’s made from a fermented base of fermented rye flour, with kielbasa and boiled eggs added. Traditionally its served in a bowl made from a really hard bread. The bread is so hard that you can’t really eat the bowl, but the soup is brilliant.

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Here’s the recipe. You have to make the fermented base a few days in advance, and then you can make the soup.

How to make the base for ?urek

You will need:

  • about 1 cup of rye flour
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 2-3 cups of warm water
  • bread crust (the best would be rye bread)
  • few grains of allspice
  • optionally 1-2 cloves of garlic

Mix the flour with the boiling water until there are no lumps. Then set it aside to cool. Add bread crust (it should sink completely), garlic, and remaining water. Put the mixture in a jar or clay pot covered with gauze or a delicate piece of cloth. Let the mixture sit for 3 days at room temperature. (each day mix the ingredients delicately). After that time it should be ready to use. As the flour ferments, there will be some lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast. There is also a very special (?) aroma.. You can use it immediately or put it in the fridge (it can be stored for about 2 weeks).

Now you are ready for the classic ?urek recipe

Ingredients

  • Zakwas (?urek base) about 0,5 l
  • Soup vegetables
  • Sausages and smoked bacon
  • Dried mushrooms (optional)
  • Garlic (3-4 cloves)
  • 2 laurel leaves
  • Marjoram
  • 5-6 grains of allspice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Prepare the vegetables (wash, peel and cut into smaller pieces). Bring them to boil with about 3-4 cups of water. Reduce a heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Add sausage or bacon and mushrooms, return to the boil, reduce heat and cook another 30 minutes. Remove sausage from soup, slice when cool enough to handle, and set aside. Strain stock through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the stock to the soup pot. Add “zakwas” to the stock (the clear part from the top and 2-3 spoons of the thick flour from the bottom). Bring to a boil, add sliced sausage pressed garlic and other spices. in heated bowls with half a hard-cooked egg in each serving and rye bread on the side.

(original source for the recipe is http://blog.polishorigins.com/2013/06/26/zurek-traditional-polish-sour-soup/, but seems to have died)

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