Thursday, 17 December 2009

Going home for Christmas

I am flying home tomorrow, to spend Christmas in what has turned into a winter wonderland! My dad rang me and told me the weather forecast for Southern Finland is -20°C tomorrow – ouch. I will probably not write much until after New Year's. When we've gone home for previous holidays, there's never a moment's pause; "Can we see you? Are you having dinner with us tonight? We're having a party tonight, you should come! Will you be in Helsinki on Friday? Will you be in Porvoo on Wednesday?". Fun, but not a vacation. I'll leave you with my favourite Christmas song – far from cheesy :)

Monday, 14 December 2009

Count down

What a weekend! We went bowling (for the first time ever!) on Friday. It was so much fun, but also much more difficult than I had imagined. I also played air-hockey for the first time – a lot easier :) On Saturday we were invited to a Christmas party. I wanted to try to bring these really cute mini-muffins I saw a recipe for, so it was all about baking, cleaning, listening to Christmas music and wrapping presents yesterday. The muffins didn't turn out too well, but I love the mini-cake idea, so I'll try them with another recipe later, I think. And we posted our presents to America, so hopefully they will be in Boston in time for Christmas!

This week we are saying see-you-later to our friends here in Berlin before going home for the holidays. We have already scheduled a breakfast, a lunch and two dinners for next week! The most stressful part will be to finish shopping for Christmas presents. I still don't have a clue what to buy A's mother and my best friend... But I hope another visit to good old TK Maxx will help! We already spent like €200 there last week, hehe :)  I really recommend a trip there, especially to shop for the most difficult of all: fathers.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

An early Christmas present

Last weekend we found out that BVG are giving us Berliners a Christmas present: on advent weekends you can use your "Einzelfahrschein" (€2.10) as a day ticket! So two more weekends left to ride around town like there's no tomorrow :) Here's the link if you want to make sure.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Kitchen experiment

We invited my dad, my uncle and their partners over for dinner when they were in Berlin. We made canapes, beetroot soup and for dessert I tried out this chocolate gateau recipe from Effilee magazine. It's meant to be all gooey and runny on the inside – mine wasn't. The consistency was nice, though, rich and smooth like a chocolate truffle. The cakes are flavoured with rosemary and olive oil, which was hardly noticeable, so next time I'll be a little more generous with them. And maybe add a tiny pinch of salt, too.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Christmas markets

I've visited many Christmas markets by now, drank many cups of glühwein and established that Finnish glögg is better than German glühwein. My favourite markets are in Kulturbrauerei and on Gendarmenmarkt (where my dad had been before, and wanted to go again). Kulturbrauerei has a cosy little market on a courtyard, and they serve Finnish and Swedish glögi and punsch. The Gendarmenmarkt market is set against the most amazing back drop: the square is decorated with the Deutscher and Französischer Dom churches and the Konzerthaus. It doesn't get more idyllic than that! My least favourite markets have been on Potsdamer Platz and on Alexanderplatz – no surprise there, they are pretty much just for tourists. I still need to visit at least one more market, because I still haven't tried the roasted chestnuts...

Here's a list of all the Christmas markets in Berlin.

The city at night

Usually the queue of tourists going to the Reichstag Dome is insane, I've heard it can take hours to get in. On the first day of dad's visit we decided to give it a go and were lucky – it only took us about 20 minutes to get in. This was on a Thursday evening, around seven. The queue moves slowly because the security is tight, and because only about 20 people at a time fit the elevator to get to the top. The views are killer and the whole thing is free, even the audio guide! I never think I'm afraid of heights, but then I climb somewhere high like this, and my knees get all wobbly... But the views are well worth the shakes :)

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Gourmet evening

My dad & Co are still in Berlin and keeping us busy, so I'm keeping it short – even if they chose spend the day at Sachsenhausen today. I'll later make a note of the fun touristy things we've done, but for now I'll just express excitement over our dinner plans tonight. We are going to E.T.A. Hoffman in Kreuzberg, a Michelin "Gourmet Bib" awarded restaurant. They offer a vegetarian surprise menu, that makes me drool with anticipation... I hope it delivers!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

I ♥ Magazines (with recipes!)

I love reading magazines; my attention span isn't always very long, and a magazine is built to let me take some well deserved breaks :) I've been on the lookout for a German mag to practice my reading skills with, and now I found one; a food and lifestyle mag called Effilee. It was a freebie in the Deutsche Bahn lounge, and I grabbed it because it's "für Essen und Leben". I will definitively return to the interesting article on umami and monosodium glutamate – to make sure my German skills didn't let me down. I will also be re-reading it because I will have to wait until January for a new issue...

My dad and his wife and my uncle and his wife are coming to Berlin tomorrow. Apart from the tourist stuff, they want to see where we live, and my dad suggested we invite them for dinner. I tried to say our apartment is kind of small – but we will fit them all in somehow and make them our favourite soup; it's easy to serve :) I also found a recipe on Effilee's website that will make for a cool dessert: chocolate cupcakes with olive oil and rosemary (in German).
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