Weird and Wacky Wednesday: Mystery Solved

Spend any time in Germany, and you will surely see that many people here have a borderline obsession with coffee and cake. There are so many fantastic kinds of cakes to be found that when I first arrived I used to write a regular post just about eating them. Pass any cafe or restaurant in the afternoon, and you will see people of all ages happily tucking into a plate of something sweet, with the coffee close at hand.

Oddly, I have lots of pictures of coffee, and lots of pictures of cake, but none of the two together. Rest assured that I have enjoyed them both at the same time.

Since cake is almost always a good idea, it’s not too hard to figure out why it’s so popular, but a conversation in one of my classes today alerted me to the fact that there may be another reason for the obsession.

One of my students, P, was reluctantly admitting that he’ll celebrate his 40th birthday this year, and as is typical, he’ll be hosting a sizable party at his house. They’ve already rented a tent, and have also sorted out a party service to do the catering. He’s not sure exactly what they’ll eat yet, but said that of course, they would be having coffee and cake first. Because when people arrive at his house, they will want coffee and cake right away.

His office mate, W, who is a quick with a joke in any language, immediately jumped in on that one.

“Well, P, you know you will be 40 now. And coffee and cake are sex for old men!”

Whether or not this is a well-known theory I cannot say. But next time you’re walking by a cafe and see an older gent enjoying his cake, make sure you don’t stare, lest he be enjoying it too much…


Süsser Freitag

All hail the triumphant return of the cake posts!

Yes, after a hiatus of many, many weeks, where no cake was eaten, have I got one for you….

BOOM. That, my good people, is a Schokolade-Banane cake. And probably one of the best cakes I’ve had… ever. On top you can see a thick layer of chocolate creamy goodness, and below that some of the richest, moistest, most amazing chocolate cake with whole pieces of banana inside. It was amazing. 

It’s so good that I don’t even know if I want to tell you where I got it. But because I’m such a nice person and most of you don’t live here anyways (hahahaha), I’ll tell you. 

I met up with my friend Eva yesterday so we could put together our information/pictures from our London trip, which we’re going to have made into a book. Eva was in dire need of cake, but the first place we tried was completely packed. You know, on a Thursday afternoon at 3 o’clock because people never work here. Kidding. Mostly. 

We were heading for our second option when Eva remembered a cafe that her friends had mentioned to her nearby. She said it was something like a cafe inside a florist, which sounded both interesting and kind of weird, and we decided to see if we could find it. We walked just a street over, and there it was. A few tables still sat outside, and inside we found a gorgeous and eclectic mixture of little cafe tables, floral arrangements, candles, toys, and all many of lovely things. 

It seemed to be a pretty popular place, as we were there almost four hours and there was a steady stream in and out the whole time. But with cakes like that, I’m not surprised. They had a variety of coffee drinks, as well as some soft drinks, and my latte macchiato was as delicious as the cake. There was an additional seating area upstairs, but I didn’t go up to check it out… maybe next time. 

The true measure of a cafe these days is it’s Instagram-worthiness. Congrats to La Violetta, you’ve got it. 

  Obere Wörthstraße 10  
90403 Nuremberg, Germany

Süsser Freitag & Nürnberg Eats

Yesterday I read this lovely post over on Fiona’s blog, and that was the reasoning behind my lunch choice today. For a few weeks I’ve been eyeing this little French cafe here in Nürnberg…. every time I walked by, people were sitting outside, sipping espresso and eating ice cream and cake. I had  no idea what else was on offer, but when I met my friend for lunch this afternoon, I suggested we give it a shot. Lucky for me, she was not averse to French food, and in fact had never tried anything besides a French chocolate cake once, and figured that was a good experience, so what the heck. 

So off we went to Cafe d’Azur, which can be found on the main street up to the Nürnberg Castle, Burgstraße. The few tables outside were occupied, despite the gray, drizzly and cooooool weather, so we headed inside instead. Upstairs to one side is a small cafe bar, and on the other side you can find some very good-looking ice cream which is also available to go. Downstairs is the main room of the restaurant, where they also have all manner of French products available for sale. There was some ‘unique’ jewelry, wine (of course), mustards, jams, table linens, and other kitchen/decorative items for the home. It was really a very nice ambiance, I thought. Very warm and cozy, which was great given the abysmal weather we’ve got going here.

Right? How cute is this?

Apologies that I didn’t take pictures of the lunch itself, but it looked too good and I was eager to dig in. My friend got a ‘mixed plate,’ which had some hams, cheeses, olives, veggies in oil, and came with a side of bread. She seemed very pleased with her choice, and said it was quite different from the German equivalents. I went for a Galette, which was oh so delicious. It was filled with a buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, and a bit of tomato sauce. I eat mozzarella pretty regularly, but I forgot just how much of a difference there is with the buffalo mozzarella. It was fantastic. It also came with a nice side salad, including dressing, and other vegetables besides the standard two leaves of lettuce, two tomatoes, and two cucumber slices. So that was a nice change of pace. 

On the menu, they offered a variety of sweet crepes, so we weren’t sure if they had any cakes for dessert. But we asked the waitress, and sure enough, they did. Sadly there were out of my first choice, which was a currant/apple cake, so I went for the chocolate instead….

Now, I would not categorize this as a cake so much as a brownie. But, as any good American knows, one does not pass up a brownie when you can get your hands on one outside the U.S. And it was delish.

The clientele was made of mostly older, well-dressed ladies sipping on coffees and teas. I enjoyed their lively greetings of each other, and their spirited chatter about sitting in their favorite chairs. Tres amusante. I had a quick look at the wine they had on offer, but didn’t see prices, so I’ll have to head back and check that out. But overall, I thought the prices for lunch were quite reasonable. I had the Galette (with side salad), a slice of cake, a bottle of Orangina (loooove it), and an iced tea for 16€, including tip. That’s not too bad as far as I’m concerned.

So if you’re in Nürnberg and want to take a little side trip to the south of France, head over to….

Café d’Azur
Burgstraße 11
90403 Nürnberg

Side note: After lunch we had to go to a kitchen supply store to pick up a birthday present, and I totally found the glasses I want for my future house. So if I should ever get married, feel free to send me these….

Damn right those have deer on them. Regular glasses, beer glasses, wine glasses, champagne flutes… I want the whole be-deered set. I ♥ deer.

Süsser Samstag

A day late on the cake again, whoops. Yesterday was a bit busy so I wasn’t able to get to the bakery again… but no worries, I took care of it today.

I had a very nice slice of apple cinnamon cake at Casa Pane today. I don’t usually stop in this bakery, but a few weeks ago I saw Petit Fours there and was hoping they had some again. But, I was thwarted. Oh well. I think I’ll definitely be going back there, as they had some fantastic looking sandwiches and plates of antipasta that were pretty hard to resist. But, another day. 

Süsser Freitag

The cake today is a Carpati, from the bakery down the street. I just had a quick look, and couldn’t find any real recipes for it, so I’m not sure if there is another name that it usually goes by or what the deal is. But it tastes good. Very thin layers of cake alternate with light and fluffy chocolate filling layers, and a bit of powdered sugar on the outside. Lovely.

Also, I indulged my inner Bavarian this week and ordered some goodies from a shop I had posted products from a while back. The shop is called MiaDeRoca, and it’s based in Salzburg. They have tons of great stuff, and I am totally going to visit their store next time I’m in town. Since I got that iPhone last week, I decided that protecting it is my number one priority, so naturally I ordered this…

I did put the case in my pocket a few times, and it looks like the print might have rubbed off a little bit. So that kind of sucks, but I love it anyway. Also I couldn’t resist this little number…

Who doesn’t need a deer-shaped dish? For candy or… small things that need containing. Don’t ask me what I’m going to do with it. I just wanted it. So there. Really, it took me about an hour to go through all the rigamarole of ordering these (and a few other things), because I had to open a new Paypal account in Germany and I ended up closing my other ones and it was… a pain. But I figured it out all in German so I felt impressed with myself and it justifies the buying of things. Sort of. Right?

Süsser Samstag

Apologies, I’ve been a very lazy blog person this week. In my defense, this was the first week I’ve had all my classes in… a while. Give or take six weeks I’d say. But it’s short-lived, as another group goes on holiday next week. But then I’m adding two new classes on Friday. Where were these people in winter? Again, RIP Fridays off. 

So work was busy, life was busy, all that good stuff, but I still managed to sneak in some cake on Friday. I worked hard for this one, if you considering speed-walking across the city to make it to the bakery before 6p.m. to be working hard. Which I do. Anyway.

Oh, tiramisu, you are delicious. Although now that I’ve had tiramisu in Italy, it’s just not the same. This was great, but it wasn’t the bowl of pudding-y, cake-y, awesome-ness that you can get in Italy. But as I’m in Germany, I’ll have to live with it. It’s a rough life here.

In other news, I finally decided to join the rest of the world and get a new toy…. check out my upgrade…

Note the tape holding the screen on the old phone. (And to be clear, I got it that way. Conversely, my old Razr from the U.S. is still in pristine condition, but I can’t get a SIM card for it here.) That thing was from the bowels of hell and I cannot wait to throw it back into the pit of Mount Doom from whence it came. So this week has been a whole lot of me fartin’ around with the new phone and trying to figure out how the hell to use it. This also means I’m committed to Germany (or at least to T-Mobile) for 24 months now. When I broke the news to some of my students they told that it was okay with them. It was cute.  

Lastly the weather finally decided to take an upswing, so I spent the majority of the afternoon on the balcony enjoying the glory. ‘Bout time, summer!

Süsser Freitag

I went with strawberry Sahnetorte today. It is all kinds of humid here, so something light and fruity was just the ticket. 

Other things…

  • Yeah, that election I posted about on Tuesday? Walker survived the recall. The people have spoken, and that’s all I’m going to say about it because I’m still pissed. You hear that Wisconsin?! I’m mad at you!
  • I had American-style pancakes for breakfast this morning, and they were actually passable. So if anyone is craving a pancake, try the breakfast menu at Bar California here in Nürnberg. Just make sure you ask for the blueberries if you want them. 
  • Poland just scored the first goal of the Eurocup. Considering the game is in Poland, that’s nice for them. Germany plays their first game against Portugal tomorrow and the stores were already frantically stocking the beer shelves this morning. Preparation, yo. 
  • Speaking of Eurocup, the opening ceremony was weird. Look for it on YouTube. And the fans were amazingly chill before the match. Everyone was in their seats when I turned the TV on (about 20 minutes to kick-off), and just waiting. No dancing to the music in the stadium, no singing, just taking pictures with camera phones and waiting. They must have been saving their energy, because the Polish fans are going ape-shit right now. 
  • It looks like I’m going to London for a few days in September… does anyone have tips on where to stay and what to do?
  • And lastly, my lavender is blooming… so look how pretty it is!

    Sunday Musings and Late Cake…

    Apologies to anyone who sorely missed their Friday look at cake… I tried to get to the bakery but walked by exactly five minutes after they closed. Fail. So I had to wait until Saturday to get it and have been in hard-core procrastination mode, so here it is now!

    Yes, the rhubarb trend continues with this crumble thing. This is a piece of cake for 2+ people, or if you’re on your own like myself, you have a snack for the next two days. Actually after I post this, I’m going to have another few bites. Nomnomnom.

    I have to give tests in my lessons tomorrow. Technically, we were supposed to do these tests two weeks ago on Monday, in anticipation of students taking holiday over Pfingsten/Pentecost/any excuse for a damn holiday, but…. I forgot. Whoops. This was only mildly embarrassing to explain to them when we had our last class. But I don’t think any of them were too broken up about having a few more weeks to study, and only three or four will be on holiday so it was no problem to push it back. So after last week and the grueling amount of work I had to do *coughs* after Mondays holiday, and all my lessons cancelling on Thursday, I needed all four days of this weekend to get the tests written. It’s a difficult life. So I pretty much spent all weekend holed up here writing tests* and am ready to go for tomorrow.

    Random Sunday thoughts….

    • Sure sign that the EuroCup is approaching…. a couple spotted in Nürnberg today…. the gentleman was wearing an orange shirt, orange shorts, and orange shoes. His lady was wearing orange and white striped knee socks, and had a jaunty orange scarf. Any guesses where they were from?
    • One of my students dropped the “Willam Dafoe”  parrot impersonation on me. Don’t know what that is? Watch. Bonus: this is the dubbed German version so you can practice your mad language skills with me. 
    • Speaking of mad language skills, I have a new favorite German word. Ritterlichkeit. This one came up during a conversation about the behavior of superheroes, and it means chivalry. Why do I find this great? Because Ritter means ‘knight,’ so you get to describe someone as knightly. Lovely!
    • The strawberries here right now are aaaaaaamazing. And sometimes freakishly-sized….

    Holy balls of enormous strawberry!
    • I learned that my students think that the only acceptable reason for a person to miss a job interview is if their train hits a sheep. Also, the only acceptable reason for a person to move back in with their mother is if they don’t realize their cat died while hidden somewhere in their apartment for over a month and they can’t get rid of the smell. And after that, there was a lengthy story about the merits of being a piano-playing street musician, and whether or not that career choice would support a wife and family. Moral of this story: modal verb games are dangerous. 
    • If anyone is planning on coming this way, the hippest place to party in Nürnberg is right outside my house. More details to come….
    • I ran out of staples today. This is a tragedy, as European staples don’t quite fit in my awesome Swingline stapler, and tend to bind it up. CRISIS. I can’t get a new stapler for the following reasons: 1) it’s a Swingline, and if you don’t know why that’s awesome, I suggest you go and watch ‘Officespace.’ Now. 2) It’s the perfect size for me to carry around in my bag. My students always look at me like I’m sort of wizard when I pull it out. Or they look at me like a crazy person who carries around a tiny stapler with them. It’s probably the latter.

    Practically perfect in every way.
    • One of the breweries has rolled out possibly one of the most disturbing and (I hope) unintentional cross-over ad campaigns I’ve seen recently. Will hopefully remember my camera tomorrow so I can show you what the hell I’m talking about. It’s scary. 
    • The weather has been super up-and-down the last few days so I haven’t even been able to enjoy my balcony properly. Uncool.
    • And lastly, a big RIP to my three-day weekends. When I started working here, I only worked Tuesday-Thursday. That lasted the first five months or so and it was as awesome as it sounds. Then in November I picked up classes on Mondays, but was okay with it as I still had three-day weekends. On Friday, my bosses cornered me and “offered me” new classes – or as I prefer to say – informed me that I would be picking up some Friday classes starting in a few weeks. After this May and the absurd amount of holidays, it will be nice to make up for that, but…. booooooooo. At least it sounds like it will only be two lessons and I should be done by 1p.m. But still. Boooooo. Where was this in winter? Darnit. I better enjoy the rest of June while I can….

    *writing tests, watching movies and an entire season of Community.   

    Süsser Freitag and Other Things…

    It’s official, der Beck is engaging in some kind of conspiracy against me. Der Beck is a popular chain of bakeries here in the Franconia area, and if it weren’t for them I’m 99% sure that I would be dead by now. Why? Well mostly because they have great sandwiches and things that are easy to eat on the go and they tend to be in very convenient locations for me. But I’m a bit upset with them right now. For the last few weeks I have seen these absolutely adorable looking petit fours for sale at a few different der Becks. BUT. They only seem to sell that at inconvenient times for me, i.e., when I’m on the way to work or about to get on a train. Never when I’m on my way home, or God forbid, on my day off. It’s now my mission to get some of those for the Friday cake post. It will happen. But it didn’t today. So instead… more rhubarb!

    Rhubarb is kind of like the asparagus thing… get it while you can I guess.

    A few days ago I posted an article a friend had sent to me about the “expat experience,” and she wanted to know what I thought about it. Thanks to all of you that commented about it… those actually really helped me a lot. The first time I read it, my reaction was kind of this, “What? Wait, I kind of agree with that. No, I don’t agree with that at all. Wtf is she talking about. Arg.” And then I was angry and had to walk away from it. 

    I feel like what she wrote about escaping is probably the most true thing of it. In Prague, we used to joke about all the Lost Boys there, which did not necessarily exclude ourselves. It seemed like everyone who arrived had just experienced some kind of traumatic breakup, or had graduated college with no idea what to do, or had decided a few years in the corporate grind had sucked out their soul and it was time to run away. At least at the beginning, most people did spend time in so-called “expat bars/hangouts,” talking about home and missing Mexican food. Some of the expat places were actually fun, and others I couldn’t stand. (Red Room, I’m looking at you.) But gradually we moved away from going to the same bars every weekend, and found more “authentic” places to go. But for the most part, the circles of friends stayed the same, at least until people left. 

    A very, very, long time ago, I wrote this…

    Anyway, my original point was that any of the people you meet here on a daily basis could be gone tomorrow
    “Well I’m going to stay two years, unless X, Y or Z happens.” This seems to be a common statement.

    Family emergencies, deaths, new babies, bridesmaid duties, trying new countries, grad school acceptances, boyfriends, girlfriends, ex’s pleading insanity and begging forgiveness…. Some days it feels like half the people here were escaping something, but would drop everything and run home (or run somewhere) if one person were to ask them to. And by no means do I exclude myself from the escapee list.

    It’s hard to think of your life as having an expiration date. You have time, but you don’t. I don’t think Prague will expire for me in a month or anything, but sometimes it breaks your heart to think you can’t see a friend you miss in the foreseeable future. Maybe it’s better to miss people. Maybe I make no sense. Maybe I think too much. Maybe I should go to bed because I have a full day of work tomorrow and oh, that’s right, I live and work in Prague. It’s not always easy but this city can hold you any day.”

    That was written after being in Prague for about a year and realizing how hard it was. Not really so much “missing out on things,” but people leaving because they felt that they were missing out on things. You could always tell when someone was getting ready to go. They talked differently, they were vague about plans, it was just off. And eventually off they went.

    Germany seems to be a bit different. As people commented, most expats here seem to be either 1) working for international companies, or 2) in loooooove with a German and here for them. Yes there is the odd au pair or government program person, but honestly sometimes I feel like a crazy person being here by myself. I’m sure there are plenty of other freelance English teachers floating around but the only ones I know work for my school.

    As for expat hangouts here, I don’t know of any. I hear other English speakers talking at the Irish pub, but you hear just as many Germans speaking in there. I don’t seek out other expats here, because after Prague I decided it was better to make friends with people who won’t move away in a few months. I’ve met a couple of people here via the blog/internet forum world, but not so many. 

    She also talked about fear, and I have to agree again with the comments. The only thing I’ve ever been legitimately afraid of had to do with bureaucracy. The “will I get a Visa or will I get rejected too” fear was pretty palpable. At that point, I had no back up plan. I would have had to go home and regroup… either suck it up and get a crappy job or try to get back here somehow. But I got lucky, and so far everything has worked out for me. *knocks on wood desk* 

    But fear that you’re missing things? Come on. Everyone is missing things. All the time. Every day. If your best friend lives across the country, you’re not going to be the first person to see their new baby any more than if you live across the ocean. And with Facebook, I for one feel that I know FAR MORE than I need to know about some people. I would never say that I’m afraid of missing things. I talked a while back about feeling guilty, and I think that’s as far as it’s ever gone for me. In some ways, it makes relationships much stronger. You really have to put in the effort to keep up with the people that are important to you. All extraneous relationships might fall to the side, but if a person is a real friend they won’t let that happen. 

    The author describes events as tick marks piling up on a piece of paper, but to my mind, if someone is really your friend, they aren’t keeping score. No-one should. One of my best friends has continually apologized for not coming to visit me, to which I always reply, “Seriously?” I tell her that it’s okay… she works full-time, plus has been in nursing school full-time for the last two years, and got married last summer. She’s had other things to do. It’s okay if she hasn’t had time to squeeze in a few weeks in Europe. And whenever we talk, it’s like no time has passed and we can pick right back up. I did tell her though, that she has to come visit me before she gets herself knocked up. That’s non-negotiable.*

    So those are my slightly long-winded thoughts on it. I’m kind of mad at the author for generalizing the experience and confusing me about it. But after reading it a few times and thinking about it, I’d have to agree with those of you that said it doesn’t seem like she is that happy. Putting yourself in a new situation won’t magically fix your problems, and a distraction can only last so long. As for me, the only thing I lay in bed missing at night is Mexican food. 

    *It’s probably negotiable. I’ll still send her baby lederhosen.