Monday, July 28, 2014

Neighborly Love

We've been at our current location in Berlin for about 6 years now and since then we've seen our particular street grow almost beyond recognition.   Our block alone has sprouted a coffee house, a vintage store,  co-working spaces, two boutiques and a couple of bars (of course) all in the last two and a half years.

I'd like to say that I personally know each business on the street but this just would not be the truth.  Meeting ones neighbors takes effort and time, two things that often get swallowed up in the never-ending rush of busy business-like stuff, the same stuff that keeps us scrambling to our computers to help fill the void created by lack of actual human contact.

Lately I've been putting my mind to slowing down a bit to enjoy this fairly decent summer we seem to be experiencing.  If you're a resident of this charming city, you know that this isn't always the case and can also disappear at a moments notice.   So, today I finally stopped to introduce myself to a fairly new neighbor, The Liquor Company Berlin. They have their office and a small production space a few doors down from ours.  Again, if you live in Berlin, you may have already seen their various imported products on the shelves of your favorite watering hole but now they are launching their own brew, brewed right here on Weserstrasse, KR/23.

KR/23 is an herbal liqueur (Kräuterlikor) made from, you guessed it, 23 different ingredients:  black pepper, bay leaf, lemon zest, cloves, oregano, cinnamon, ginger, basil, sage, fennel, orange zest, green pepper, lemon balm, anise, rosemary, turmeric, caraway seed, mint, cardamom, wild rue and nutmeg.  Served chilled (in the refrigerator because it is too delicate for the freezer), this herbal liquor is quite the summer sip.  Delish.

As a good neighbor does, the gentleman who opened the door, welcomed me in and offered me something refreshing to drink.  Lovely, lovely people and damn good hooch.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pack Your Pickle

I just spent the last half of an hour debating if you would find these rather simple photos interesting enough to see at the "x-large" setting that google's blog template offers.  I shrunk some, enlarged others, tried to move them around to make a collage sort of thing (not possible with google blog template or I just don't know how) and was not satisfied.

Yeah, yeah… this post is supposed to be about making pickles (see way below for all that stuff) but half the fun came from the visuals this little project produced.  Neatly packed cut vegetables in jars, love it.  Before the hot vinegary liquid is poured and after: glorious.  

Why the fascination, you ask?  I don't know but in the end, I just made all the images the same size.

(recipe after the photos)

The beloved mixed veggie jar:  green and yellow beans, radishes, carrots, cauliflower, onions, ginger, fresh coriander, garlic and a couple of chills for good measure.

As straight up as I went with the pickling project:  local organic baby cumbers, mustard seeds, fresh dill, a couple of chilis for good measure, again.

Poetry in a jar.

Just waiting for hot lovin'.
Guilty pleasures:  Mini peppers with LOTS of hotness going on inside... and garlic.
Submerged and beautiful.
Bleeding heart:  local organic red beets, fennel, mint, dill… and garlic.

My XL jar of over the top spicy pickles.  All mine!

Family photo.

I'm no pickling expert, just a regular curious person who loves a good pickle. Below is the recipe I tweaked.  I like the slightly sweet, a bit more salty experience but I do know you can use only salt if that's your thing.

Also, in my mind, anything goes, pickle whatever the hell you want.  I'm sure there will be varying results based on what it is that you choose but sticking with firm veggies always yields a good crunch. 

Speaking of a good crunch, that's what I'm after as well.  I'm still in the testing mode here but I can say that I just tried one of my super spicy cucumber pickles and it was absolutely DELICIOUS,  less than 24 hours in the fridge. Actually, I would be very happy if they stay exactly the way they are (perhaps a little spicier) but let's see what happens after another day or two.  I'll be updating my findings in the comments. 

Warning:  Calculate how much fridge space you have before undergoing your pickling project, these need to be refrigerated.  If you go nuts buying your veggies and can't stop yourself like I couldn't, you either have to have catering capacity refrigeration  (lucky me) or you have to have lots of friends to pickle gift.  Careful that you don't end up with too much pickle to pack. Har har.



4 Crispy Baby Cucumbers (Kirby cucumbers), washed, dried, and quartered lengthwise
2 or 3 sprigs fresh dill (or any herb you like)
1 cup distilled white vinegar 
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 fresh chili
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

Place cucumbers, herbs, chili and garlic in a jar.

Heat vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan, stirring, until sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour into jar. Let cool completely, uncovered. Pickles are best refrigerated overnight (or up to 6 weeks) before serving.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Those cute little houses

The first time I saw a Schrebergartenkolonie, I thought it must be the equivalent to an American trailer park and those cute little houses, mobile homes.  I thought to myself, "Everything is quaint Europe".  Granted, this was back in 1997 and I soon found out that those garden colonies were not at all similar to trailer parks, rather, plots of land, often within the city limits, that people own to connect with nature (roughly speaking). I thought to myself,  "That's a very good idea".

I've had the pleasure to visit a few of these gardens over the years and last weekend I was invited to my friend's for a bbq.  We all brought a little something to share, as is often the case, and the rest is history.  Good times within the city limits.

Find my tasty potato salad recipe that I shared down below.

Schrabergarten Potato Salad

Serves 4-6

5kg Potatoes
2 cups of mayo
1 head garlic, chopped
handful chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
sea salt
cracked pepper

Preheat oven at 220°.  Wash potatoes, leave skin on and cut into 1 inch cubes.  Spread evenly on a rimmed cookie sheet, drizzle liberally with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and roast until cooked thru.

Once potatoes are cool, mix with the rest of the ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.  AND feel free to increase or decrease the amount garlic but remember, it's the garlic that make is dish what it is.

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Reminder to Remember

Back in March I went on a Yoga/Pilates/Meditation holiday on Fuerteventura . It was my reminder holiday, a reminder that in January I told myself that 2011 was going to be about balance and inner peace.

Well, off I went and since I've only sporadically done yoga and pilates, I was a bit nervous. I was about to do them everyday, at least two times a day, for a week... I wasn't sure how I felt about that. When friends would say, "That will be great!", I would answer, weakly, "Yeh-hes". (What I would insert now, if I could, would be that worried looking emoticon)

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience. Yes, at least twice a day I did bend my body into shapes it wasn't always willing to go into but the experience was much, much more than that. It was about the people I met and shared time with. In Berlin, my life is somehow split into two: the public hostess and the private (self professed) cat lady who has a hard time leaving her cozy apartment on days off. The funny thing was, I wasn't expecting to connect to "others"on this trip at all, rather, I thought it was going to be a solitary experience- just me and my out of shape body. How wrong I was.

As always, food was a focal point. I love wandering around super markets in other countries, checking out all the stuff- from weird things in jars to locally grown produce. We also were fortunate enough to have one of the best restaurants on the island nearby, offering tapas like I have never known before- delicious. One night, I even had the pleasure of raiding (permission granted) the villa's fridge to make an emergency dinner for our group when we found out last minute that the whole island shut down to celebrate carnival.

But, the real highlight was Jo, the nutritional advisor for Azul Fit. She offered me a special consultation/cooking course where we made olive tapanade, roasted eggplant, homemade whole grain breads, cocoa-dried fruit truffles and quinoa cake. It has sparked a true interest in such healthy and tasty food. I wish Jo would cook for me everyday... then I'd surely have balance and inner peace.

(I highly recommend Azul Fit Villa for a one of a kind, healthy, relaxing, centering experience. They have two locations and I was in the Villa, up on a hill in the small town Villaverde, completely disconnected from any hustle and bustle. Jamie, Karissa and the entire team go out of their way to make your stay an experience to cherish. I definitely cherish mine. Thanks to the entire Azul Fit family!)

Not Jo's recipe but tasty all the same:

Quinoa Muffins

Makes 12


1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup vegetable oil, such as safflower, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, bring quinoa and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11 to 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, brush a standard 12-cup muffin pan with oil; dust with flour, tapping out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, raisins, and 2 cups cooked quinoa; reserve any leftover quinoa for another use.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, milk, egg, and vanilla. Add milk mixture to flour mixture, and stir just until combined; divide batter among prepared muffin cups.
Bake until toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool muffins in pan, 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Man cannot live on Quinoa alone...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Everybody's Mama Got a Recipe"

Every Christmas when I'm in Detroit, one of my very best friends in the whole world, insists on buying me the heaviest cookbook she can find. This normally wouldn't be a problem but since the days of "extra heavy" luggage are long gone, it has become one. She (let's call her A.B.) has great taste and style in the food/cooking dept so I'm not really complaining... but, damn!

This year A.B. gifted me with One Big Table, A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly O'Neill. It's one hefty mama consisting of stories and recipes from real people who love their food. Gourmet, it is not and this is what makes it all the more appealing in a world of Top Chef, Iron Chef, Whatever-else Chef. I really love the sense of migration you get from reading the book... how different ethnic groups spread far and wide after entering the U.S. and how they shaped the food culture in the little (and not so little) towns they landed in.

The Chicken Fried Steak recipe from a Mr. Hoover Alexander himself, looks real good too. If you click on the photo, it should get big enough to read. In there you'll find that the southern favorite may just have been influenced by the Wiener Schnitzel. Duh!? Hopefully the print is clear enough for you to read the entire recipe and try yourself. Now if the Germans would only start smothering their schnitzel with gravy, we'd be getting somewhere.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Long time, no blog.

Playing catch up is rarely much fun but this time it's proving to be. Since writing last, we  threw many a private Christmas party and catered a good handful of offsite celebrations. Basically, we've been busy having a good time.

When so much piles up, it's a lot easier to use photos to tell the story than try and recall through words. We won't cover everything but here are a few highlights of what's been happening at Feast. The point is: we need to get you up to date so we can fill you in on the stuff going on NOW!

Dare I say that we did a catering for Mr. Armani? We did. Actually, what I thought was going to be a high end affair, turned out to be a promotional event out of an eyeglass store off of Friedrichstrasse. Oh well, but it was still a lot of fun and quite special- it certainly challenged our ability to make big things happen out of little spaces! One of the most exciting parts of the event was making these delicious and oh so sweet looking Guyere-Thyme Icebox Crackers. We topped them with a dollop of Delice
Argental (a luxurious, double cream cow's milk cheese from France) and our own 

(makes 20 crackers)

1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup finely grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg white, lightly beaten

1) Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a course meal. Add the cheese and pulse until combined. With the machine running, add the milk. Process until the dough comes together and is well combined.
2) Transfer the dough onto a clean work surface. Shape the dough into a 2-inch wide log. Wrap the log with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
3) Heat the oven to 163°C/325°F. Slice the well chilled log into 1/4-inch think slices. Place on baking sheet and bake immediately, rotating the baking sheet half way through cooking until crackers are golden brown and firm in the center. Cooking time is approximately 25-35 minutes. Don't let them get too dark! Transfer them to a cooling rack until completely cool and store in air tight container.

We took these caramelized figs and put them on top of goat cheese smeared crostini. Then we drizzled them with our homemade balsamic-rosemary syrup. A fast, tasty and elegant hors d'œuvre.

I've got my sights on starting my own product line in 2011- a little Feast to take home. I offered a small selection of things during December to get an idea of how it would look and of course, how it would taste. People really took to it.. buying 'em up for Christmas gifts and everything! The salted caramel coulis was a big hit, especially after I went around dipping my cut-out Christmas cookies in it and offering samples. Expect more of this soon...

This is my Blue Ribbon Photo of the entire day: Ella. She's the daughter of friends of mine and though she started out quite demure, she was break dancing to Frosty the Snowman before long. A few candy canes and some sugar cookies- would make anybody wanna bust a move.

Moving into the new year, we teamed up with Network Awesome for some viewing fun. Here, the guests anxiously await the showing of Winter of the Witch, an old favorite of mine from elementary school. I had been looking for it for years but our friends at the Network of Awesomeness worked their own magic and made it appear- live streamed- in our Cellar Cinema. Network Awesome is a free online TV network that digs up good old stuff. Watching TV is fun again!

Monday, September 6, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Where to begin? It's been awhile since I've made an entry here and I'm sorry about that. I believe I also broke a promise to post the recipes from the BBQ back in July and I'm sorry for that as well. I was supposed to write those up on the plane traveling to Detroit but instead got sidetracked by the inflight movie selection. I'll make it up to you, I promise. I've decided to include more recipes in general so be prepared.

It was always a generic "back to school" assignment, an essay entitled, What I Did on My Summer Vacation. As a kid I remember this assignment to be excruciatingly painful because summer was over and why rub it in?

Funny that I return to that format for this blog post but I guess it's a lot more fun to recall things from an adult perspective- using photos to help in the process and now that drinking alcohol is allowed.

stylish service at the BBQ

The Feast BBQ turned out to be really great. It was during that heat wave we were having and I wondered if anyone was going to brave the steamy temps to eat our food- but they did! People brought their own blankets and water and we provided the rest. I had some bum coal to work with but with a little help from friends and our Turkish neighbor (who seemed to be a professional) it turned out fine. Oh, and the the nectarine white sangria was a big hit, chilling us out in every way. In the photo, Andrew laments over the dwindling sangria supply.

the old barn

First stop: my parents house.
It is a known fact that there is always a special meal prepared for all arriving family members and friends. My meal was grilled lamb chops, oven roasted potatoes and a green salad from the garden. Perfection. No, there aren't the world's smallest farm animals in that barn, just a few old Schwinns.

alberto & lamb chops

My Dad does the grilling- I'm not allowed to cook when I'm home. Not that they don't trust I will do a good job, rather they are certain that I will leave a disastrous trail of dirty pots and pans and mess. Well, it's true but I'm an artist, no? ;)

romeo fracassa designed bbq

This is a one-of-a-kind grill designed and made my my Uncle Romeo. Yep, that's a beer keg split in half, attached to a post which is connected to a hand poured cement base. This is the deluxe version with the lid- growing up we only had the bottom half of the keg. That one eventually got grilled to death.

michigan sunset

Next stop: Northern Michigan.
I was off to a family wedding in Bay Harbor, Michigan. I would have to devote an entire entry to this because it was such an unbelievably beautiful affair in every imaginable way. Instead, here is a sunset over Lake Michigan as the pre-wedding party was coming to a close.

view from the porch at pee wee

On to Pee Wee!
Named after my Mother (her childhood nickname) Pee Wee is the family cottage that my grandfather bought in St. Clair, Michigan sometime in the 1930's. Ever since then it has been passed down the line for all to enjoy. I spent pretty much every summer weekend here as a kid with aunts and uncles and a myriad of cousins and friends of the family. Those were great days but Pee Wee still gives us love and comfort, seemingly now more than ever. The next generation is swinging from the rope and jumping off the dock into the chilly, rushing river now but you'll find us big kids making the pilgrimage there whenever we possibly can. Long live Pee Wee!

hummus plus

An afternoon snack of grilled flat bread, hummus and minted cucumber tomato salad.


Grilled Red Snapper with fresh herbs and citrus. Remind me to get one of those fish shaped grill baskets for Pee Wee, it would have been much easier to flip 'er over.

Marlow & Daughters

Final Stop: NYC/Brooklyn
Just way too much good food to document here but I will let you in on an all time favorite. Thanks to a like minded, equally food loving friend, I have had the pleasure to dine at Diner on most of my visits over the last few years. This time, we walked down the street to Marlow & Daughters, the shop that has the same owners. It was quite a one stop, over the top shop with everything one could possible need for cooking up dinner at home. (phew... that was a long one.)

fresh butchering inside

There was something very "turn of the century" about this moment. This is what I would call getting up close and personal with your butcher.

dining at diner with JL

Damage done.

zucchini blossoms at the Turkish mrkt

Upon returning to Berlin, I was greeted by the last few days of summer (unfortunately that was the beginning of August) and made it over to the Turkish market off the canal. Perfect timing for zucchini flowers. Not pictured: those flowers sauteed with lots of garlic in extra virgin olive oil and served up on crusty Italian bread. Heavenly.

The End