Baloney. Yes. God only knows why. It’s winter. It’s comfort food, sorta. It’s a delivery system for lots of mustard and horse radish. I have fond memories of it. And on a recent visit, I asked the butcher (Ironically she is a whole fucking lot butcher than I am) if they ever made ring baloney and she freaking beamed so big and said, “YES!! Today!” So I bought one.

Potatoes, cabbage, onions and ring baloney. To be honest it was more of a nostalgic pleasure than an actual culinary delight. But I’d happily eat it again. Possibly not again this year.

Sauerkraut juice

Just typing those words makes my mouth water. I was making one of my all-time favorite meals, pork shoulder with potatoes and sauerkraut. My method, actually my mother’s, is to drain the sauerkraut, rinse it with cold water and then add a TB of brown sugar and slow roast both of them with potatoes. If you’ve never made/had this, it’s a 100% home run. More important, this provides me with an opportunity to have sauerkraut juice.

And it is delicious.

Side note: There is a cocktail of vodka and sauerkraut juice. It’s called a Windy Mary.

Foiled again

It’s long past the time when making bread is something I am doing so I can have real French bread. I have fully accepted my inability to make that happen. Now I am just making bread for the sake of eating it. Of course, secretly, there is always the hope that it’s gonna turn out to be French bread at which point my hands will fly to my cheeks in mild shock and I will exclaim something like “Oh, goodness!” Just kidding, I will scream something in French, possibly the Marseillaise. The problem will be that I absolutely will not remember how I accomplished it.

This time I was using a 100% hydration recipe that is commonly used for ciabatta. That means equal parts water and flour. It seemed like it might work. Why I thought that would work making French bread escapes me. But it looked good in the YouTube (see here). The “dough” however was more like a batter and stuck to everything it could get its slimy hands on including the parchment paper I’d let it rise on. Eventually I just put the damn mess in the oven sticking to the paper.

It tasted good. It was not French bread. And it was flat. Many things can taste good while at the same time being ugly, bread is not one of them. It has to be pretty or at least relatively attractive.

Are you kidding me?!!!?

Shortly after the new year as I was swanning through my house in Greek tasseled scuffs, Azerbaijani silk smoking jacket and Egyptian Lavant fez drinking a glass of exceptional 2021 Rodney Strong I ran across the Taste Atlas Awards. The best dishes in the world.

I spat my wine across the fine Corinthian leather of my settee and ottoman in horror and confusion.

If I’ve eaten maybe 3 of these dishes I’d be shocked. I am familiar with a few others and recognize some other words but this list is an utter and absolute mystery to me.

Apparently I am not as cosmopolitan as I’d envisaged.

Germany 2023

Diese fahrt endet hier. ‘This ride ends here’ is what they announce at the terminus of bus lines in Berlin. And the European free ride for me is over, too. Ashish moves to the Dairy State soon. Don’t ask when—no one knows—it’s really fun hanging in limbo like this—but soon. I will probably never return to Berlin. As it is the thought of even going to an airport fills me with dread, fear and loathing. I will say that if there was a non-stop flight to Berlin I’d think about it but as it stands I can only get there with a stop somewhere and missing connections for Berlin has resulted several overnight stays in hotels and airports, and hours of anxiety as whatever flight I am currently on is late for the connecting flight and no amount of butt-clenching or arm-rest squeezing is making the flight go faster.

He’s lived in Ghent, Oslo, Frankfurt and Berlin. I’ve loved every one of those cities. Berlin, though, is where I’ve spent most of my time in Europe and I’ve loved her best. I am not sure why. It’s not charming or quaint. And it certainly isn’t the Germans. But there’s something.

The architecture here is crazy. This is an apartment building. I want to live here.

Apparently they keep a tight grip on sneezing in Germany.

So when your bus doesn’t come and this goes up on the sign it means, well, I have no idea. I walked home after that..

These Turkish pickles. Ooo mama. The pickled cabbage was the best part. A friend’s Turkish grandmother made them. I have the recipe.

Always a fave.

This part is pretty cool looking, the bottom part, the building, though, is actually silly.

KaDeWe. Just nowhere like it.

Berliner Dome. It’s Lutheran so, you know, not my people.

This cool place.

They have their share of graffiti. Some of it more poignant than others.

Oh, you know, food in all its various glories.

This was alarming not to mention prohibitively expensive.

On my way out.

My last view of Berlin. Sad face emoji.
Ireland. It’s not as picturesque as they say. At least this part isn’t.


When I was a kid my mother used to make spaghetti sauce and chili sandwiches, respectively, for my lunch. She’d make the sandwich while the sauce or chili was still cold and stiff and by the time I ate them at lunch the fillings would have warmed to room temperature and leaked through the bread. I LOVED them.

Husoor was at work and I decided to make myself a bolognese sandwich with muffuletta and Swiss cheese—a fusion sandwich . . . in some way very reminiscent of those happy school lunches. German hard roll reinforced with Swiss cheese on the top and bottom for leakage protection (and deliciousness) and then loaded with Italian delights, bolognese sauce and muffuletta, although muffuletta is Italian-American but who’s nitpicking aside from what’s-his-face and he was at work. Obviously I had to do this while he was gone because he’d have hyperventilated merely at the concept not to mention the mess I’d made—although I think he’d happily have eaten it.

I heated the sandwich up in the oven so it was hot and the cheese was melting. It was fantastic. I wish I could have shown it to my mother, she’d have been so proud. The kitchen was all spic and span by the time the Food Infractions Patrol returned home. I don’t think he ever even knew I’d made it. So, no harm no foul. Good lunch though.

I am home from Germany now. More on that later.

Top 5 reasons to visit Berlin

The Humboldt Forum. Not exactly a museum, this gigantic edifice is called a forum because its purpose is the exchange of ideas (as if I know what I am talking about). Named after a pair of brothers whose ideas were ahead of their time and whose fame was global (Humboldt Avenue three blocks from my house in Milwaukee is named after one or both of them), the mission of this institution is very diverse. (You can see their website here)

Which says in part:

Diversity is the decisive foundation for working and thinking in the Humboldt Forum. The Humboldt Forum stands for the equal rights of all people – in all their diversity. It sees itself as a resonance space and a contact zone, a site for joint debates on cultural identities and global futures.

The Humboldt Forum wants to promote open dialogue: to provide a platform and make it audible. Visitors, contributors and staff play an important role in making this diversity something that can be experienced and through which to make their own mark on the content of the Forum.

As part of their mission they are returning, to the best of their abilities, stolen or looted artifacts. I don’t know details but the place is a glorious marvel. Enormous, well thought out, extremely detailed but accessible enough for anyone to know what they are looking at.

And it is free which is great because it would take days if not months to go through.

Quintessential German food

When friends visit Berlin (or family for that matter, although none have. Note to self: See estate lawyer soon for will revisions) among other things we like to give them as great a dining experience as we can muster. Our favorite places, Italian, Chinese, Turkish, French, plus at least one or two great German meals. Joseph Roth Diele, if that can happen, and Marjelchen, for sure.

The Chocolate Sommelier (see her website here) and her dog were here visiting recently and for her last meal we took her to Marjelchen.

While the food is great and atmosphere is charming, the service at Marjelchen (Mariel-chen) can be really dismal. Despite the fact that the waiters seem to know us, our last two outings have had some serious service low points. But not the food. OMG their sauerbraten rivals my own. Not crazy about these potato dumplings but, you know, I can deal with it. It’s not like I’m eating anchovies. Karen had the schnitzel (I am not such a fan)—I think she liked it and Husoor had, I dunno, something with spätzle. I wasn’t paying attention to anything I only had eyes for the sauerbraten. The cabbage was nice too.

I really have no idea what this was. Something with spätzle.

Top 5 reasons to go to Berlin

Shopping. Specifically KaDeWe, but shopping in general. I used to hate shopping. Playing against type, I hated shopping and musicals. On the other hand I am adept at floral arranging, but I digress.

Still . . . shopping. I miss shopping. I didn’t used to shop (grocery shopping excepted) unless I was forced to and now, it seems, that I cannot have it, I miss it. Not just the actual shopping so much but I miss stores. Michigan Avenue in Chicago is a ghost town. The downtown of Milwaukee is urban blight.

In Europe there are still stores and shopping. I don’t know why this would be but it’s true. Ku’Damm the fancy shopping street in Berlin is a lively, happ’nin’ stretch of neighborhood, blocks and blocks and blocks long. There’s even a toilet store that sells those fancy Japanese butt washing toilets! There is no real way to describe KaDeWe though. Kaufhaus des Westens—Department store of the West, apparently named back when there was a “West.”

These pictures do not do the place justice. Not only is it glorious, there is everything one can imagine there. Art supplies, designer clothes, all manner of housewares, butcher shop, bakery, cakes (the Germans it seems do not eat cookies), breads, cheeses, wines, chocolate, shoes, watches, restaurants, delis, I could go on. Right now, in January there is a giant sale. Sixty percent off. Of course, not off of gloves since I need a pair having lost a couple in the confusion of my recent travels.

It’s open next Sunday—EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays! I’m hoping to spend a fortune.

I still don’t like musicals.