Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cherbourg, France on a beautiful market!!

We are on the way to the Baltic, but of course with a couple of stops on the way. Today we are in Cherbourg in Normandy, France. It is still early in the year and the weather is fresh but we are lucky and it is another sunny day. The highlight for me was the market, it was totally unexpected and so enjoyable, especially all the cheeses like on the photo abofe. I was totally in heaven here and enjoyed every minute with all the smells finding their way in to my nose!

I have to be honest, I have seen nicer ports in my career, but then again, it is not too bad. A short bus drive brought us straight in the city center, one could even walk. Then there are plenty of shops and of course restaurants. For me the city itself is not the tourist magnet, but close by there are the famous beached of D-Day, when the allied forces landed on the French Coast to fight the German Army.

I didn’t go there, but just walked around town a bit and looked at the local attraction. One of them was just next to the ship; it is the Cite de la mer, a museum of submarines. This is definitely worth going to see, very interesting and interactive, especially if the weather should not be that great.

Anyway, it is nice to be here, it is not a place I would have driven especially, but as the ship is stopping here, it was worth going outside, like I said, there is plenty to do in the region and it is a perfect place to explore the history of the second world war, something everybody should stop and start thinking if it was really worth all these lives…..of course not, so come here to Cherbourg and get a taste of this terrible time in human history

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ponta del Gada, Azores

OK, I am back on the ships, this time on the beautiful Celebrity Constellation and I can tell you, it is a real pleasure to be on board this ship. The Constellation has been “Solsticised” which means when she went to dry dock last year to get a face lift, Celebrity put some extra restaurants and bars on the ship which one can find as well on the Solstice Class ships, our flag ship ones who in my opinion are the nicest big ships on the seven seas at the moment.

So I joined in Fort Lauderdale and we had 6 days at sea before finally we saw land again, to be exact we are now in Ponta Delgada on S. Miguel Island which is part of the Acores Islands. It is still a bit fresh here but summer is just starting.

I went out a little bit and made some photos of the town, it is just so beautiful with all the restaurants and little shops. The Island itself is amazing too, worth making a week’s holiday here and explore everything. I just had a bit more than an hour and just went to town a bit. Funny enough the churches very much reminded me of the churches I have seen in Philippines, it is a bit the same style and they have been built at around the same time.

So after this wonderful day here we will be back at sea for a day before coming to mainland Europe and you will read many great stories and recipes from the places I will go. Just to say that much, I will start with a couple of cruises in the Baltics!!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Lufthansa, flying the new Airbus A380 to Frankfurt

I am flying back to work, this time to Miami and will then join the Constellation to go over to Europe, so yes, you will have many new interesting Blogs about the travel in Europe starting with the north, and then later going to the Mediterranean.

To get to work I was booked from Cape Town to Johannesburg, then on the A380 to Frankfurt and then further to Miami, a long flight again, but that is normal. So I am flying for the first time on the new Airbus A 380. Looking at the plane in the airport it is just huge, this a little fat big bird sitting there waiting to be filled with all the passengers. And now of course the big question, how was it?????

Just another flight to be honest. When one sits inside one doesn’t feel the size of the plane, the only difference is, one waits a lot longer for everything, the check in is slow, there are long queues, the food is slow, both dinner and breakfast and if one needs something special, my neighbors wanted more water, one waits forever and best goes and fetches it oneself.

I was flying Lufthansa, so one must not forget, Lufthansa doesn’t give the nice night bags with the socks, tooth brush and eye pads, I asked for the eye pads and got some delivered fairly shortly afterwards. The Cabin Attendant went to business class and got me one. Service was excellent considering the size of the plane, imagine there are 420 passengers in tourist class alone, that is a lot. Food was very good, it did not look that appetizing as you can see on the photo, they just called it beef, but the taste was delicious, it was a red wine braise beef steak, so flavorful, one could taste the red wine, the meat was marinated before it got braised, it was really a dream. OK, a bit difficult to cut, even so tender, but wow, the taste was outstanding, one of the tastiest meals I had on a plane.

The one main difference I could feel is how the plane sets off and lands. With this huge size one doesn’t feel the pull during the start and the landing was very soft too, that was very nice.
I was very unfortunate to be seated in row 60, which is next to where they prepare the food, it is a lot going on there and difficult to sleep (that is why I needed the eye patches) but it is still better than sitting close to the toilets, wow, there is a lot more happening and I don’t want to go more into be careful when you book.

But otherwise it is just another normal flight, movies were disappointing as there was just a very small choice, but service was excellent, so if you have to fly the A 380 do it, but don’t expect too much.

I think this will be the future in flying, bigger and more passengers, so we better start getting used to it, it is more economical for the airlines so of course they will go the economic way. Overall the flight was good, but then I had nice neighbors as well, an Indian couple with their 2 year old son going on holiday in Italy, we had a nice chat and then after dinner I had a good nap. Now I am in Frankfurt waiting for my connection to Miami....... will get back to you from the ship

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Zurich, one of my favorite cities. Why? Maybe because it was the first “big” city I lived in when I left home with my innocent 16 years. I made my apprentice ship in the Hotel Zurich, now the Marriott and loved every moment of being there. Zurich is a big city on Friday and Saturday night, but then a small town on Sunday morning. It has the high life, the normal life, plenty of street coffees, shops, just everything and it is on a lake which makes it even more special.

I haven’t been here in many years and must say, not much has changed, the Bahnhof Strasse just got a bit more fancy more jeweler shops and expensive places, but it is still nice. I made a couple of photos to show you the beauty of Zurich and of course will part with a favorite recipe the Zurcher Geschnetzeltes, sliced veal with mushrooms in cream sauce. This is very traditional here, it is easy to prepare and goes perfect with the Rosti recipe I gave you a short while ago, it is actually normally eaten with Rosti

When I go to Zurich I always like to walk down the Bahnhof Strasse with all the luxury shops, I like to pop in a Orell Fussly a well know book shop and the one on the Bahnhof Strasse (corner Rennweg) is in English and has a great array of books. Then I like to walk up Rennweg and like to eat in the Taverna Catalana, a lovely Spanish Restaurant that is there since at least 25 years and is in the same ownership. Jose, the owner still stands in the kitchen and helps out and the food is a delicious and simple fare.

After lunch one best walk downhill, through the old part of Zurich towards the river Limmat. It is a great place to rest a bit and maybe have some ice cream before heading over to the Niderdorf, the “red light district” of Zurich. It is a great place where one can find everything from the top designer shop to the up market restaurant to the pizzeria, pub, bar, private club and x rated move house, everything is next to each other and that makes the Niderdorf so attractive. During my chef apprenticeship I spent many nights there with my friends, having drinks after work.....too young still to do any of the naughty stuff. It is a very save place where everybody can still walk around at 1 AM in the morning and usually it is still very busy at this time of the night.

Zurcher Geschnetzeltes for 4 friends
450 G (1 lb) Sliced Veal
250 G (0.5 lb) Mushrooms sliced
150 G (5 Oz) Onions in dices
Oli, Salt, Pepper

100 Ml (3 Oz) Whitewine
100 Ml (3 Oz) Beef Stock (Demi Glace)
250 Ml (9 Oz) Heavy Cream

Fry the meat in a very hot pan, just for a couple of seconds till the meat turns brown, but is still only half cooked

Take the meat out, then add teh mushrooms and onions. The bottom of the pan is getting brown, when it reaches a dark brown color add the white wine, then the Demi Gace and theh cream.

Season and reduce till the sauce gets thick and creamy.

Just before serving add the veal and bring once to the boil, serve and eat immediately
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