Kartoffelferie

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What’s Kartofler, precious?

Kartofler means potatoes. Po-ta-toes.

And ferie is the word for holiday. It’s pronounced fer-ee-yay.

It has yay in it, so it must be a good thing, right? It is if you’re a kid, because it means that you get the week off of school! But only for kids now. Up until the 1950s or so, kids also used to get time off of school, but that was ’cause they had to stay home and work in the fields, helping their parents to pull the kartofler out of the ground so that they wouldn’t rot. It was cold, wet, hard work, and when potatoes were first introduced to Denmark, people didn’t even like to eat them all that much! They were considered pig food.  (Guess potato chips hadn’t been invented yet?)

Anyway, today it’s just an excuse to have some time off, because Danes like to have time off. Oddly enough, there’s no national culture around doing fun things with potatoes on Kartoffelferie. No potato sack races. No french fry eating contests. No potato potlucks with shepherd’s pie or carmelized potatoes or poutine or potato donuts. (Yes, they are a thing). Maybe that’s ’cause in most of the country (i.e. not rural Jutland), they call this week Efterårs Ferie instead, which simply means Fall Holiday. Bah.

Anyway, I made some kartofler goodness tonight to celebrate. Potato leek soup. Really good w/ a splash of smoked Tabasco.

And no there’s no Leek Holiday, because leek is ‘porre’ in Danish and Porre Ferie sounds sad.

Helsinki

I had a quick 2-day trip to Helsinki in the spring for work. Although most of the time was spent at the offices we were visiting, I did get a chance to walk around downtown one evening and had a meal that more than met my expectations of hearty Finnish cuisine.

Like other Scandinavian cities I’ve visited, Helsinki is very clean. Wide streets, not a lot of traffic. The architecture I saw downtown had the classical look I’ve come to expect from European cities, but there was a minimalism and simplicity to the buildings as well. No big surprise that the city used to double for the USSR in movies shot during the Cold War!

My co-workers are as food-adventurous as I am, so we found a restaurant called Lappi which serves traditional Lappish food. Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland, so we were expecting real stick-to-your-ribs-cause-its-way-below-freezing type food. And reindeer. And alcohol. And we got all three!

The restaurant looked like a cozy wooden lodge inside – meget hyggeligt, as you’d say in Danish. Rustic wooden decor, exposed beams, and the whole place warmed up with woolen blankets and fires in the fireplaces. Sven and Kristof from Frozen would have been right at home.

There were 6 of us, so we started with a couple of sampler platters which featured: salmon tartar; salmon mousse topped with fish roe; reindeer carpaccio; reindeer heart jerky; a hunter’s salad of wild mushrooms; pickled fish; various cheeses; and something like cranberry sauce, expect made with cloudberries. We all drank cocktails called ‘Reindeer’s Tears,’ which were shots of Finnish koskenkorva (similar to vodka) with a few cranberries dropped in. Strong stuff. Everything was delicious, though I seemed to be the only one at the table who liked reindeer heart and fish roe, so I was half-full even before the meal showed up.

The other guys opted for the grilled fillet of reindeer – think venison steaks. I got the sautéed reindeer, which came out like shaved beef piled atop a mound of mashed potatoes. I don’t know how I finished the whole thing – I really shouldn’t have! Luckily there was time to walk it off afterwards, though we were all so full that we just headed back to the hotel instead of checking out the many bars downtown. Next time!

Will hopefully make it back to Finland one day – this time with the family, or at least to see a friend out there and check out the Tuska metal festival that’s held there every summer. Some of my favorite metal bands come from Finland, so here are some videos. \m/

Insomnium

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Random Food Stuff

It’s been ages since I’ve posted regularly on this blog (it was almost daily when we first got here a year ago!), so let’s get back into the swing of things with one of my favorite topics: food!

Here are some random food events from the past six months that are worth sharing.

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In March, we hosted a Mexican night for some of our good friends – a family from Iceland and another family from South Korea. Not sure how much Mexican food they have had over here, but I think we did it justice (B is from Texas, and we’ve lived in Arizona, Colorado, and California together, so we’ve picked up a few things!).

We made fresh guacamole, fajita-style chicken and beef with onions and peppers, Texas caviar (basically homemade pico de gallo w/ tomatoes, onions, red and yellow peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and black beans – or black-eyed peas since you can actually get them here!). The tortillas and shells were from the shop, but did the trick. We’ll have to try making our own again one day! I even bought some Sol to make some micheladas (spicy beer). Everyone ate until they felt muy gordo, and B and I enjoyed the chance to share some comfort food from home with our international friends.

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I can’t drink wine (wine allergies yay), but I can have mead. (Guess the same histamines aren’t produced during the honey fermentation process.) The bryggeri (brewery) in town (a pretty little shop that carries premium wine, beer, and chocolates) has some, so I treated myself one day. It’s lovely stuff – goes down warm and smooth and tangy-sweet. Not the sort of thing you would think the Vikings would swill out of their horns…

Our Icelandic friends invited us over for an amazing dinner one night of Icelandic lamb in a creamy dijon sauce (so delicious that even B ate it, and she normally doesn’t like lamb). We also got to try an Icelandic delicacy: whale.

Yes, I know that is a touchy subject for some, but I’ve always been curious to try new things. Tried dog in Seoul once too. It’s not easy to simply draw a distinction based on an animal’s intelligence, since pigs are supposed to be even smarter. And I feel bad now about eating octopus.

Anyway, the meat is very dark and rich, like beef. Our hosts marinated some of it in soy sauce and left some plain. It’s given a light sear on the grill, and eaten very rare. It tasted a lot like steak, but with a vaguely fishy flavor. And not gonna lie… it was delicious.

We tend not to eat out a lot, but we’ve been back to the pandakagehuset, or pancake house, at Kvie Sø a number of times because of the rustic atmosphere and fresh air on the patio, not to mention the delicious food and well-curated Belgian beer list. It’s not actually Danish food – they serve sweet or savory Dutch galettes topped with meats, cheeses, and veggies – or just powdered sugar and chocolate for the kids. You can see one above with apple, bacon, and raisins, paired with a Belgian farmhouse ale. It’s also fun to go on a clear day to see which of the property’s feathered guests might be wandering about! The peacock was bussing the tables and clearing off eftover bits of food, while the turkey was just hanging out and trying to look inconspicuous. Hard when you’re a giant bird made of turkey.

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My grandmother used to put pickled herring out with the lox and bagels on Sunday mornings, so I developed a taste for it early on. It’s in every supermarket here, so of course I have to treat myself to it sometimes even though B cannot stand the smell. Goes great with a tart apple and a cold beer! The Danes also like it on rugbrød (rye bread) with karrysauce (curry, mayo, bits of pickle and carrot), but I like it just like this.

IMG_3558The TimeOut hot dog stand in town is one of my favorite comfort treats, but I decided to change it up one day and try a “pulsemix,” which is just a cut up hot dog on top of fries, with a ton of spicy powder and salt dumped on top. Plus ketchup and remoulade. Seems to me like something you would feed to a 6 year old, but it’s very popular here. Anyway, once was enough – it was incredibly salty, and besides, I like the typical Danish hot dog toppings – onions, french fried onion, red cabbage, pickles – too much to go for this option again. Chocolate milk makes everything better though.

I’m a straight-up popcorn and Coke guy at the movies. (All you weirdos noshing on chicken strips and personal pizzas from the concession stand, cut it out!) Danes don’t mess around with their movie snacks though – this is a typical lobby area at a movie theater. Lots of gummy and licorice-based treats we don’t get at home – the salty and non-salty kind too.

IMG_4073Our Korean friends invited us for dinner one night. The kids got kimbap, which are like sushi rolls, but with hot dog and fresh veggies inside. The adults enjoyed bibimbap with homemade bulgogi. I love love love Korean food, and there’s none to be had anywhere near here, so to have our Korean friends make us a homemade meal was a real treat! Afterwards we made some jars of kimchi, which I was so grateful to have in the fridge for the short time until I devoured it all!

I’m really grateful for the lunch buffet at work – every day brings new surprises, and sometimes unintentional hilarity. Kudos to the chefs since English is not their first language (and I am still slowly progressing with my Danish), but you have to laugh at stuff like ‘egg condition’ and whatever the hell an ‘Animal Doctor Midnight Snack’ is. Would love to know the story behind that one. Do all veterinarians get up the wee hours to snack on leverpostej and corned beef on rugbrod with onions? Brush your teeth before you go back to bed!

American Section at (some of) the Shops

American section have recently appeared in some of the markets around the area. It’s generally a funny combination of American and British staples, and although we have embraced Danish products and food, we are still happy to see them.

Generally, the sections include American pancake mix (ours are thicker), cake mix (Betty Crocker in boxes we’ve never seen before!), Dr. Pepper (OMG YESSSS!), and mac ‘n cheese. There is usually BBQ sauce too, but Stubbs (one of our favorites) seems to be everywhere now anyway. so it’s not “new” here. The funny thing is, both American and British products are mixed on the shelves. Grab your cake mix and lemon custard, or McDonalds ketchup (I’m really tempted to buy it now since local ketchup is so different), or try some of the UK’s breakfast treat – baked beans… no thanks.

Someone on the Americans in Denmark page posted this photo:

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See that? Left side, 4th row down?! Libby’s Pumpkin!!!!!! Yay! I’m guessing this shop was near Copenhagen, but maybe by November, the passion for pumpkin will spread to Jutland. Let’s hope so! Our local Super Brugsen has a similar endcap (maybe a tad smaller?) I plan to scout it out regularly to watch for pumpkin!

What would YOU stock on the American section shelves? Given this selection, what would you buy? I’m so curious because the U.S. is so big and the tastes are regional.

I’m looking forward to be overwhelmed by choices when I’m in the U.S. this fall. Happy shopping y’all!

New place in town: REFBORG

The old Billund Kro has recently been remodeled and is now called REFBORG. The new design is tastefully done, adding rustic and contemporary elements. It feels fresh and cozy at the same time.

One day after a Connect Billund meeting, I popped in with my colleagues to see what the new place looked like. (I’ve since been back for a couple of meals) On one side of the hotel is a shop, or ‘butik’ in Danish. This butik carries wonderful gift items like food and home accents. The choices are beautiful, and many of the foods are specialty items not found in our local markets.

We enjoyed a nice coffee break and were given samples of some of the shop’s treats.

If you’re in town, definitely pop in and do some shopping. There are great gifts for hosts and hostesses. I’ve done a little shopping there myself.

The restaurant, or spiseri, has also been remodeled, and is a lovely place for a cozy lunch with a friend or a nice dinner out. I’ve had a lovely cheese plate for lunch with a new friend. The cheese plate was beautifully done. Dinner with friends was cozy and service was friendly and helpful. We drank lots of their bubbly and enjoyed a nice dinner together. The atmosphere helps make the night with friends feel more special.

Eating out in Denmark is not inexpensive, so having a place with beautiful decor and nice food makes it feel more worthwhile when heading out to eat. I’m happy we have an aesthetically pleasing place in Billund.  I wish them well and am excited for what they have accomplished.

Our first guest visits!

Last week we had our first visitor! Shane came to see us. J and Shane met 15 years ago in Phoenix when J first moved there. Though we have all moved around a lot since then, we’ve always managed to keep in touch. It was really nice of him to extend his Europe trip to come see us. It meant a lot to us and the kids.

We tried to pack in as much as we could in a couple of days’ time. It was cold and rainy when Shane arrived, but some of the NorCal sunshine followed him here. (yay!)

We had Shane jump right into life in Billund. On his first morning here, we showed him the kids’ school and he joined me at the FIRST Connect Billund meeting. After the meeting he and J went to lunch in town (J wanted to take him to the hot dog stand!) and in the afternoon, I took the big boys to LEGOLand Billund! That’s J and Shane, not the kids – they were still in school 🙂

The little boys were somewhat disappointed that we went with out them but seemed to understand that Uncle Shane should see the park while here. (It closes fairly early).

After collecting the kids, we headed to Vejle to show Shane around and had a bite to eat.

Since it stays light for a long time, we were able to drive around and found a strand (beach) down by the fjord.  We chatted with a local mom there with a cute pup and her kids. There were some boys and their scout troop there fishing, and she was filling us in on the types of scouts in Denmark. Maybe our boys will try it in the fall – M did Cub Scouts in California and J was one of the den leaders. It was FREEZING and windy at the fjord, so we didn’t stay long. Plus it was late for a school night! Whoops.

The next day J had meetings at work and Evan didn’t want to go on a road trip, so he went to school while M and I took Shane on a short drive to Ribe. The weather was lovely (thankfully), though we still had to wear our coats. I’m convinced that everyone has been tricking us and there isn’t actually a summer in Denmark. We had sunshine so that made the day nice.

Ribe is a neat old town to explore. There are various styles of architecture, a Viking museum, and great spots to eat local food!

Did you see it?! I ate herring! And it was pretty darn good – so it must be amazing. The ham was from a nearby island. (Tania, I was thinking of you.) The cheese and homemade cracker were nice too. Both fish portions were good. Shane and I aren’t big mayo eaters and found the sauces to be a bit much for our tastes, but I had some and they were nice. If you are a mayo fan you’d enjoy them! The apple dessert was nice too. Yum. Ok, here is the photo again.

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There could be a whole post based on this photo.

Moving along – after our huge lunch, Shane wanted to see the shore. Great plan! I just didn’t have experience on anywhere to go near Ribe. So I looked on google maps and found a National Park. Cool! Let’s go there! We started to drive and enjoyed the views. The canola flowers right now are incredible! We came across a beautiful village too.

The funny thing about Google maps is…  you don’t always get ALL the info you need…

The road ended in the sea. THE SEA, I tell you! What? Oh yeah, high tide. No drive. We drove to another spot out of curiosity. There, the sign said no cars or motorcycles. Ah! NOW we know what the big tractors and bus-like trailers were for! Getting to the National Park! Someone commented on how dumb tourists get stranded all the time…

Well, that’s the funny thing about Denmark. You’re just supposed to KNOW things. I’d have gotten a bit nervous with a road where the sea laps up to its edge, but may not have thought about a tide coming in and taking the road out… I’m not accustomed to driving on roads that are often underwater! Haha. You learn something new every day. Like, I may have a fear of riding in a tractor bus. I kind of feel we got the real experience at the water’s edge…

The pole that you see Shane and M standing next to has markers indicating the water levels in years past. I may have to Google that too. Crazy high tides or big storm surges? I’m not sure. There was a berm there and old illustrations noting that the seawall had been compromised in the past and washed people away. Glad things were tame when we arrived. I’m also glad that we didn’t drive down the road and get stuck in high tide. Whew.

That was Shane’s last day. That evening we got home and J put on a slideshow of photos from the last decade or so. What fun! We saw so many familiar faces and relived our lives in Phoenix for a few moments.

Thanks for visiting Shane! We enjoyed having you!

Gatherings at Home

Friday night was my turn to host Book Club. I had the pleasure and privilege to share my home with 11 women from all over the world (S. Korea, Iceland, England, America, New Zealand…) for a festive Mexican potluck.

Since I had borrowed some extra chairs for Book Club and we still plenty of leftovers from dinner, I had a couple of the women come back the next night with their families. They brought a few ingredients and their happy selves. J cooked the taco meat and made guacamole, and I poured margaritas. We enjoyed (another) a nice night of food & company. I’d say spring break is off to a festive start!

I’m loving our little international town and finding friends from all over the world. We are truly fortunate to be able to live in such a small cozy town with an international school, airport, theme park, indoor water park… all within biking distance. And we can enjoy those places with kind folks that are locals and internationals. It’s truly a fun experience.

Munich

Got to go to Munich last week for work. As I’d already heard before, it’s a wonderful city – storied history, classic Bavarian culture, a charming downtown with some incredible architecture, colorful pastel-colored buildings, and of course, plenty of biergartens, delicious beer, and rich Bavarian food. And pretzels!

Didn’t see much of the city Thursday since we were in meetings from 8am until around 6pm, but then a big group of us went out for dinner. I had no idea where we were, so when we got off the subway at Marienplatz, I was genuinely amazed to see the incredible New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus), with its ornate towers and Glockenspiel mechanical clock! The clockwork display, with its twirling and dancing figures, goes off every day at 11am and noon, but we missed it the next day too. When I return to Munich with B and the boys, that will definitely be on the list of sights to see.

From there it was a short walk to an excellent Bavarian restaurant called Spatenhaus an der Oper, just across from the Bayerische Staatsoper (famous opera house). Pretzels, great beer (my favorite was the Franziskaner Hefewissen Dunkel), and decadent Bavarian cuisine. Mmmm… head cheese made with vinegary, pickled meats; salami; a haunch of roast pork swimming in rich gravy; marinated cabbage; and giant potato dumpling cannonball things… And some celebratory schnapps after dinner.

Needed to walk that off afterwards, so some of our German hosts took me over to see the famous Hofbrauhaus beer hall and royal public brewery. This place is massive – it makes the giant German biergarten at EPCOT look like a Carl’s Jr. It’s everything you’d expect from a famous Bavarian beer hall too – rows and rows of packed tables (even at 11pm), waitresses with trays of sausages and pretzels, a big German brass band, old men in German vests and hats passing out with their steins. My hosts said it’s mostly a tourist place (which is why we went to the Spatenhaus), but it is still a fun atmosphere.


On the way in, there’s a wall of cubbies, each one locked and containing a big beer stein. These are for the private members, and the only way into the club is when a previous member dies. Then, Glückwünsche! You get your own stein, and when you come to the beer hall, you unlock your stein, wash it out in the big copper sink, and help yourself to your favorite local brew.

Upstairs, there’s an even bigger hall, with a second German band on stage, and even more happy feasters and drinkers. There’s also a balcony above with a small museum about the Hofbrauhaus. Cool facts: it was founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, whose 700 closest friends and courtiers were drinking his riches away. So he started the public brewery, which followed the Reinheitsgrebot, or Bavarian Beer Purity Law (passed in 1516).

This place is like an aircraft hangar! With beer.

This place is like an aircraft hangar! With beer.


The law decreed that only water, barley, and hops could be used in the production of beer. Apparently, brewers back then had been using all sorts of additives to help preserve their beers: soot, dangerous mushrooms, or “gruit” herbs like yarrow, ivy, and horehound. The main reason for the law was to ensure there would be enough wheat and rye for bakers to use in their bread, which meant no hefeweissen for a very long time! (Though obviously you can get it today, due to some loosening, or at least, re-interpretation, of the Reinheitsgebot.)

On Friday, our meetings only lasted till around noon, and since our flight back to Billund wasn’t until 8pm, we got to spend the afternoon exploring downtown Munich. It was a lovely day for it too – sunny, and not too chilly. We strolled down a wide shopping promenade called Neuhauserstrasse and ended up back at Marienplatz.

These promenades seem to be all over Europe – I’ve seen them now in Aarhus, Cartagena, and Malaga. No street traffic, and they’re more than just a big outdoor mall – they’re a vital part of the city’s culture. Many cities in the US have added outdoor shopping areas or long walking malls – Kierland Commons and Scottsdale Quarter in Scottsdale, 16th Street Mall in Denver, the Farmers’ Market in LA, or the Woodlands outside Houston, for example, but those are not purely pedestrian areas like these thoroughfares. I wonder why more American cities don’t have these.

After lunch, we burned off our calories by climbing the 250+ steps inside St Peter’s Church for a view across the city. Then we wandered through the streets, past the Viktualienmarket (booths selling everything from produce to flowers to Turkish food and fresh fish), and out towards the river for a leisurely stroll. Lots of people (and their dogs) out enjoying the sun as well. A light dinner and one last beer at an outdoor biergarten by one of the old city’s gates, and then it was time to say ‘Auf wiedersehen’ to München.


There’s still tons to see in Munich – chief among them the incredible Neuschwanstein Castle outside the city, and oh yeah, Oktoberfest – so I’m sure there will be another Munich post on the blog within the year. Now, if I can just find a case of Franziskaner Hefeweissen Dunkel next time we pass through Flensborg…

Spain, parte dos: Bienvenidos a Malaga!

Here’s part 2 of our trip to Spain during Christmas vacation – you can read part 1 here!
https://witzaboutus.com/2014/12/30/spain-parte-uno-a-donde-vamos/

Our afternoon flight from Billund to Málaga was around 3 hours, and it was a balmy 62 degrees when we stepped out of the airport. Everyone else was bundled up in winter coats and scarves, but to us, it felt like a typical summer day back in San Francisco. Meanwhile, it was gray and gloomy back in Billund, so we already knew that a week on the Mediterranean – even a cool, off-season week – was a smart pick.

After getting some Euros and finding the right airport bus, we rode the 15 minutes to the Alsa bus depot, close to the city’s main train station and our AirBnB rental. Unfortunately, we took a bit of a scenic route, as I assumed that we could use a pedestrian overpass above the train tracks as a shortcut to the apartment. Turned out to be twice as long (and passed through a dumpy looking part of town), but the boys enjoyed the clackety-clack of their suitcase wheels along the sidewalk, and we also happened upon some bright green native parrots nesting in an abandoned warehouse.

Our apartment for the night was on the 13th floor! I guess triskaidekaphobia isn’t a problem in Spain (well, not quite – nothing bad will happen to you on Friday the 13th, but apparently a Tuesday the 13th is muy malo). Our host was about our age, and although some of the AirBnB reviews had said he spoke little English, we communicated just fine. B and I both took Spanish in high school, though we’ve had little occasion to use it (even after living in the Southwest and California for the last 14 years). In any case, his English was better than our Spanish!

The apartment was big and roomy, with a room for each of the boys and one for us, a kitchen with a washing machine (clothes get hung out the window on a line – a dizzying experience for B when she washed a few items), a bright orange-red bathroom (with a bidet! the boys were confused), a nice TV, and most importantly, a good wifi connection! Our host showed us around the place, pointed out the pedestrian and dining area of town on Google Maps, and then left us to settle in.

It was only a 15 minute walk to the downtown area, and although our apartment was located in an average, not-terribly-pretty part of town (typical when you’re close to the major transit hubs, I guess), the city center was much nicer. Palm tree lined streets, sunset on the horizon, a big park running down the main boulevard, and throngs of people all heading towards Calle Marino Lario, which runs north into the pedestrian and shopping district.

We’d arrived in town during siesta time – and yes, stores do close in the middle of the day – but by now, people were starting to come out again for the evening, and with these downtown shopping districts, it’s not hard to see why. Aarhus, in Denmark, has a similar area, and I wonder why there aren’t more in American cities. Once you get into the shopping district, there are no cars – just endless promenades and streets and plazas where you can find cafes and tapas bars and restaurants, tons of shopping – and tons of people. Very easy to explore – or get lost, if you don’t mind that. (And with Google Maps in our pockets, not really hard to do that anymore).

We stopped at a few restaurants where I could ask, in my limited Spanish, if their kitchens were open – they all said no. What I didn’t understand is that this just meant that they weren’t preparing meals at the moment (not until around 8pm), but you could still get some tapas from the bar.

The boys were getting hangry by this point, so we just picked a place called Tapa’s Bar (lame pun or unnecessary apostrophe?) in a nice wide plaza dotted with orange trees. They seemed to be really understaffed though – the two waitresses were surly and unhelpful, and many of the items on the menu were sold out. After a long wait to place our order, we finally got some bread and cured ham, a dish of olives, a Spanish tortilla (a delicious cake/omelette made with eggs and potatoes) and beer and wine for B and me. It was just enough to whet our appetites, but we didn’t want to stick around. The boys had fun climbing a nearby orange tree though, and we also chatted with a little Spanish boy at the next table, who was eager to show off his tiny toy gun collection (stored in a belt pouch that read USA, of course).

We got a nice surprise when we left the plaza – beautiful, ornate light displays all the way down the promenade, and leading out towards an even bigger main plaza. I guess we arrived in Málaga on the right evening, because there was a big party kicking off, with a band, singers, and parades of musicians tromping and tooting through the narrow lanes and cobblestone alleyways for the next hour. Great people watching too – the Spanish have style, even when they’re bundled up against the cold. Lots of belted waistcoats and jackets and scarves. The women all had their makeup and hair done (tasteful, not too much), and I noticed a lot of young men with brightly colored sneakers and piled-up pompadour hair. Also, not a single logo or branded clothing item in sight. Quite different than what you’d typically see at a mall in the US.

After wandering around through the streets and shops for awhile, we found a tiny tapas place in a narrow alley and grabbed a table. Within minutes, another marching band paraded past, as if to say “Welcome to Spain! Now have some more tapas!” So we did. E must have worked up an appetite too, because not only was he hungrier than usual, he also wanted to try the most unusual items on the menu. Seriously, this is the kid that won’t even eat some of the basic meals we’ve been making in Denmark, and here he’s asking for fried octopus, and snails, and small red snappers with the heads still on. We got almost all of it – plus some neon-yellow, saffron-rich paella – and had a merry seafood feast.

After dinner, we walked off our meal and got the boys some little explosive snappers so that they could join in the merrymaking. Then there was only one thing left to do before we turned in for the night. Yes, more food! Chocolate and churros, to be exact. B and I had had this when we were in Cartagena (Spain, not Colombia), and we knew the boys would love it. The churros are not the kind we are used to from ballparks and zoos (or Costco) – they’re not sugared, and barely even sweet. Which is fine, since the hot chocolate is plenty sweet enough. I’d hardly even call it hot chocolate – hot pudding is more like it. Needless to say, the boys devoured theirs.

We trooped back to the apartment, happy to have found some pleasant surprises during just a few short hours in town. Here is E, crashed out on the couch – the boys were so zonked from their big night out that they slept through the night without a peep. Come to think of it, we were out hard too, thanks to what was possibly the most comfortable bed in all of Spain.

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Tomorrow: adios to Málaga, and a trip to Granada!

And oh yeah, one more important thing to point out: Taco Bell in Spain sells beer?!

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Belated post on our First Thanksgiving in Denmark

(originally written around Nov 28th) Oops! Time flies when you’re having fun!

Last weekend, I went to do some shopping on the German border with two other American gals. We had a wonderful day and found TURKEY for our Thanksgiving feast. It is common for Danes to go shopping in Germany for soda, beer, and candy. You could compare these trips to an American “Costco run,” except that we drive 1 1/2 hours and cross into another country. I now understand why SO MANY Danes have hitches on their cars and pull little trailers behind them.

2 Turkeys, a turkey breast, wine… and more wine…

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were purchased in Germany as well as cranberries, Advent calendars, St. Nicholas goodies. I honestly can’t remember what all we got now, but the car was completely full and weighted down in the back.

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Flash forward to this week. Thanksgiving is obviously not celebrated in Denmark… So it’s business as usual. While our family and friends were posting their travels, shopping, and decorating, we were still working, schooling and such. Which is fine, that’s the case for many Americans too – business as usual, but it was a bit harder to realize it is Thanksgiving. So thanks to those that work on holidays! Wednesday, I made pumpkin cookies and lots of fluffy kugel topped with fresh Indonesian cinnamon that friends sent from their local shop in Seattle. YUM! Incredible.

Thursday, I took the family to school and work as usual, and then headed back home to get ready & load the car. I picked up the key to the “Big House” at the LEGO apartments in town, and unloaded my gear and got to work setting up with Leah. We got tables arranged & decorated and commenced with the cooking -some there, and some cooking done back at our houses.

Lars and Leah arrived with the grill and turkeys, and then things really started to get busy with preparing the birds. We also had the challenge of figuring out that the only way the cook top would work was with the magic pots that go to the cook top. Interesting. Then there was the usual sorting out of what to heat and when, and all of the details that go into preparing a feast for 24 people and hoping it was all choreographed well.

We had a lovely evening with many of our new friends, as well as a Danish nanny for one of the families, and also Julie and Michelle, who were here on business over Thanksgiving from the US.

We are thankful for such an open, welcoming and active expat community, and the cooking talents they share. Thanks guys!

Love to our families and friends in the US celebrating Thanksgiving and starting the Holiday season.
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