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Entries in Food & Drink (38)

Friday
Aug222003

Mmmm... Sushi!

Sushi CircleAnd now for something completely different... Sushi. I was reminded of the first time I had sushi because a friend and I visited Nanakusa, a Milwaukee sushi bar this week for lunch. I thought sharing my story might encourage you to try sushi too. Here goes...

For a long time, I wanted to try sushi. Yeah, the idea of eating raw fish seems odd, but I'm a curious guy, and wanted to try sushi before dismissing it out-of-hand. I thought, "never know... might be good!"

Well, about 3 years ago while on a business trip to Germany I had an opportunity to give sushi a try. One of my work colleagues in Germany named Rafael, was a sushi enthusiast, driving to the Frankfurt airport on weekends or into downtown Frankfurt to get a weekly fix of sushi. He lobbied me heavily to give sushi a try and being curious about it, I agreed, but not after some thought and contemplation.

After all, I was in Germany and was concerned about heath risks of sushi, especially since I still had meetings to attend and still needed to fly home to the US. Rafael did a great job of telling me about the healthfulness of sushi. I decided to give sushi a try.

So, Rafael, myself, and another work colleague made a trek to downtown Frankfurt to see the M. Night Shyamalan film Unbreakable at the Frankfurt English-language theater. Following the film, we visited one of Rafael's favorite sushi bars called Sushi Circle.

What a cool place! Sushi Circle had a rectangular sushi bar with rounded corners, with sushi chefs preparing selections in the center, behind the bar. Meanwhile, a conveyor belt wound its way around the top of the bar, separating sushi-eaters from the sushi-makers. Once a chef completed a dish he would place it on the conveyor on a plate with one of several color-coded edges, each designating the price. As dishes came around the "circle" you could let them pass, or grab one off the conveyor and enjoy it.

SushiWe started dinner with miso soup and hot green tea, then began watching the conveyor belt for the most attractive dishes. My first taste of sushi was a California roll, made of rice and vegetables wrapped in a seaweed strip, followed by an 'Inside out" roll with rice surrounding the vegetables in the center, rather than seaweed. I especially enjoyed the wasabi (a special green horseradish paste) and dipping my sushi into soy sauce with chopsticks. After getting into a groove on the sushi thing, I started to try a few sushi dishes like tuna and salmon which were all extremely tasty!

I had built up the idea that sushi would be very "fishy" tasting but was I quite wrong. The flavor of raw fish was very mild and the texture was smooth as silk. What a surprise! i could really understand how this could be a delicacy. We spent the next hour and a half enjoying different selections and trying more of our favorites.

We stayed until closing time at Sushi Circle and were rewarded with some "freebies" by the chefs, who had been watching the three of us enjoying their hard work. Each one of us received at least 3 free selections from our chefs -- I assumed the free sushi dishes we were given most likely wouldn't be any good the next day. I really appreciated that these chefs would rather see customers enjoy their good sushi than toss it away.

When the time came to depart, payment was quite easy: we just brought our stack of plates to the register, where the hostess added up the cost by plate edge colors. Now, sushi is pricey because it's a delicacy, handmade by trained chefs, but I felt the extra cost was worth it. I figured I wouldn't be having sushi every day, and splurged a bit.

So, if you every have the opportunity to give sushi a try, I can highly recommend it, particularly if you enjoy seafood. You might be surprised too. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday
Jun242003

Austrian Culinary Delights

Che AndyWhile everyone else is commenting on Apple's new PowerMac G5, 64-bit desktop tower computer, or Microsoft's new Windows Mobile (a.k.a. Pocket PC 2003), I've decided to get this week's blog posts rolling with something completely different.

Here at the Rohde household, we have a special guest with us for the next two weeks. Andy Bauer is a very good friend from way, way back. We've known each other since the early Macintosh days when we both used Powerbook Duos and were regular posters on the popular and now defunct, Powerlist.

Andy has actually visited us twice before: first for my marriage to Gail in September 1999 and again in April 2002 just for the fun of it. Gail, I and our friends have thoroughly enjoyed Andy's visits and all of the fun activities we've had with him. So, Andy decided to get away from his daily grind and give Milwaukee a try in the midst of summer.

Now, Andy is an Austrian (living in London) and on this third trip over, he's brought along some traditional Austrian recipes to make for us. On Saturday evening, I was fortunate to enjoy the results of his first experimental culinary delight, Marillenknödel, or apricot dumplings. Andy told me that these "fruit dumplings" were really of Czech origin, but since the Czech republic was part of Austria in the old days of the empire, the recipe is known more as an Austrian speciality.

In brief, a Marillenknödel is an apricot with the pit removed and replaced by a sugar cube, then wrapped in a thin layer of egg dough. The dumpling is boiled; when it pops to the surface it's rolled in bread-crumbs sauteed in butter then sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Mmmmmm, they were delicious and surprisingly filling! I was also surprised to learn that Marillenknödel are a main course in Austria, which for me was a bit odd since they're sweet. However I can see how 4 or 5 off these guys would be very filling. They certainly filled us up!

Andy was able to translate all of the ingredients for the dumpling dough properly (particularly a complex equation to get flour weight into cups) and make very tasty Marillenknödel in the unknown environment of an American kitchen. In fact he said they were quite good -- almost as good as his grandmother's.

So, you may be asking yourself, "what does this story of Marillenknödel have to do with technology?" My answer is... nothing. This is my weblog and I can write what I like... besides, I like to think of the my weblog as an occasional respite from the flurry of high-tech news and rumor-mongering. So there. :-)

In fact, for the next two weeks it's likely I'll not be posting as often as normal, as we'll be spending time during these brief two weeks with Andy. However, it might provide some funny experiences with our guest, so stay tuned...

Tuesday
Jun172003

Good, Cheap Coffee

Coffee StuffOne of the things I've grown fond of over the past few years is good coffee. In particular espresso. It all began on a Friday morning in the early 1990s when I stopped into a downtown bakery cafe near my office called La Boulangerie. I normally bought a dark coffee, but that day decided to try a cappuccino.

Wow! I fell in love immediately. I really loved the rich flavor of espresso blended with creamy and slightly sweet foamed milk. From that day onward I began getting cappuccinos on Fridays as a reward for making it through the week.

My love of good coffee was reinforced on my trips to Germany in the mid 90s, particularly because of Matt Henderson, who happened to have his very own Italian Gaggia espresso maker and loved to make cappuccinos for his guests.

Seeing Matt enjoying his espresso machine at home got my gears churning... what if I could make cappuccinos and lattes right at home? Hmmm. Well, I loved the idea of home-brewed espresso, but a good quality machine like a Gaggia was a bit beyond of my budget at the time. However, I stored the idea in the back of my mind.

It wasn't until 1998 that I began seeing inexpensive espresso makers appear at stores at prices I could afford ($50-100). I asked for an espresso maker for Christmas and was surprised to receive a Krups espresso maker from my little brother Pete. Woohoo!

Since then, my el-cheapo Krups espresso machine has provided me and many guests with delicious espressos, cappuccinos and lattes. I make a coffee for myself almost daily, and I've found I really enjoy brewing "fancy coffees" for guests.

Some thought the little Krups unworthy of good coffee, like Roberto, and Italian friend of mine in Germany who would supply me with Illy coffee on my trips to Europe. When I told Roberto about the Krups he politely told me "Throw it away! You need a good Italian machine for good espresso!" Well, I haven't thrown the Krups away and despite its low cost, I think it still makes a great coffee. Besides, I still don't have the budget for a "real" coffee maker.

I do enjoy "fancy coffees" when I go out, now and then, but when I see their prices I realize how inexpensively I can make the same drink at home! A cup of milk and a half ounce of high quality Illy ($11 per 8.8oz) or even less expensive Goya ($2 per 8.8oz) espresso costs maybe 50 cents. That makes a $4 latte at Starbucks a pretty hard sell!

So, why am I sharing this? Well, because I love good coffee and I know others do too. I also thought it might encourage those of you addicted to $4 lattes at Starbucks to consider a cheap $30-50 espresso machine for your home. You can save $3.50 you would have spent on a fancy Starbucks espresso drink. Besides, you might impress your friends and family with "fancy coffees" after a nice meal or just for the heck of it. :-)

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