Global Cooking - Germany

Aug 25, 2014

What does a nice Australian family do during the recent FIFA World Cup? Well in our case we pick two teams each to barrack for and place a little friendly wager on the result.

The husband ended up victorious so Tweeny and I had to grocery shop, prepare and cook a whole week’s worth of the winning country’s food – Germany!


With the World Cup weeks behind us, it was time for Tweeny and I to pay up on the wager.
Question was what to make?

My experience with Germany and German cuisine was quite limited. I took my first overseas solo trip fresh out of high school and first stop was Frankfurt, Germany to visit and stay with some family friends. Being a baby faced and an inexperienced traveler, I ate all my meals with my host family, who were lovely but were not native Germans so I enjoyed a lot of excellent Russian food on the trip but no German food.
To bridge my knowledge gap, I asked an expatriate German living and working in Canberra for some inspiration on traditional food. I learned that I had missed out on trying rich, substantial comfort food whilst in Germany, with each region having its own speciality dishes and traditional cuisine.

Rhineland-Palatinate: Germany’s wine region famous for the Palatinate sow stomach served with potatoes and Sauerkraut and a glass of Riesling

Berlin: potato pancakes, pan-fried potatoes topped with a fried egg, farmers breakfast (leftover tomatoes, ham, vegetables pan-fried with potatoes and whisked eggs), pan-fried liver with mashed potatoes, apples and onions, “Currywurst” Curry sausage

Baden-Württemberg: Cheesespätzle (egg noodles with Emmentaler cheese and roasted onions), Black Forrest Ham, onion tart, pan-fried sausages and sauerkraut, Black forest cake

Thuringia: Thüringer Rostbratwurst (char grilled sausage, made of minced meat spiced with marjoram, caraway, garlic) in a bun with mustard, roasts with red cabbage and potato dumplings, lots of cakes

Saxonia-Anhalt: Rotkäppchen Sekt (Sparkling Wine), Halberstadt Sausage (world first canned sausages), Baumkuchen (tree cake, a layered cake); Halloren Kugeln (Chocolate balls)

Saarland: potato cake served with a cream-bacon sauce, potato or green bean soup, apple cake

Schleswig-Holstein: roast lamb, Tilsiter cheese, oysters, Lübecker Marzipan

Hamburg: go to the famous Hamburger Fish market and have lots seafood

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: rollmops, caramelized pan-fried potatoes, meat with raisins, Labskaus (meat and herring stew with fried eggs), hearty stew of pears, beans and bacon

Brandenburg: Spree Forest gherkins, carp

Hesse: Frankfurter Würstchen (scalded sausage served with bread and sauerkraut), Apple wine, sour milk cheese

Saxonia: Dresdner Stollen (sweet bread), spicy Lebkuchen (gingerbread), lots of micro breweries

Bavaria: White sausage with sweet mustard, Bretz’n (pretzels), beer, pork knuckles, bread dumplings, sour marinated beef

So much food for thought (pun intended)! Now to decide on what to make for our week of German cooking.

Join in the weekly culinary journey on Xpatriate Games Facebook page.

Oh My Liebster!

Aug 18, 2014

I was nominated for a Liebster Blogging Award. What a lovely way to start the week, answering questions on one of my favourite topics, family travel as set by my Liebster Award nominator Bubs on the Move.

What is your favourite memory from traveling with your kid/s?

One special memory that stands out is taking a helicopter trip for the first time together with my daughter. She was four years old and it was just her and I on vacation in Canada. We had an opportunity to fly over Niagara Falls in a helicopter but I wasn’t sure how she would react, if she would be scared or freak. I took a chance and she loved it!
What is your favourite aspect of life at home (because all travel bloggers need reminding sometimes that homelife is precious too)?

We all miss our two dogs when we travel but it is always a great reunion once we get home.

 Describe the scene of your child’s most devastating travel meltdown & What was the very first trip you took with your child/children?

I love sharing the world a little at a time with my daughter and watching her experience things for the first time. Not always do the experiences go to plan! Our very first family vacation (involving a plane trip) was to the Gold Coast, Australia to enjoy sun, sea and some serious beach time. Tweeny was two years old and I was a bit nervous about how she would handle her first plane trip. Plane trip turned out great, the excitement of take off, landing and the seatbelts was all the entertainment she needed for the short flight from Sydney, Australia.

On day one of our long awaited beach holiday, we discovered that two year old Tweeny despised the sand on the beach. The first touch of sand on her chubby little toes sent her into a high pitched toddler squeal and she demanded to be picked up. Going into the water was out of the question as it involved her feet touching the sand. No reasoning (or bribery) was going to change her mind. So we packed up our carefully selected buckets and spades and our beach holiday became our resort pool holiday.

What is your favourite type of accommodation?

The most convenient for our family is a resort style apartment accommodation. I enjoy having all the lovely conveniences of a resort pool, swim up bar, room service and restaurants but with the added comfort of having a bedroom or two and a small kitchen.

Which country’s residents do you think welcomes traveling families with the most warmth?

The warmest welcome we have received as a family has been at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with bathrobes and slippers and special treats tailored to each one of us and our sizes and ages. It was super sweet introduction to the country and the hotel!

What is your favourite memory of travel or local exploration from your own childhood?

For some reason the one travel memory that sticks out is a road trip my parents, sister, visiting international cousin and I took from Sydney to Melbourne. Even though it was a long car ride, it was full of laughs and mishaps including nearly running out of petrol and arriving at our Melbourne hosts house at 4am in the morning.

One website that you find valuable in trip planning?

Webjet – I can do a quick comparison shop and purchase flights all from the one site!

One item that you never leave home without?

My smart phone, it is my camera and GPS all in one.

Pre-boarding or boarding last. Your preference and reasons.

Boarding last for sure! My daughter likes to spend as much time as possible at airport book stores. Traditionally she has been allowed to purchase one new book to read on the plane and it is always a tough decision for her.

Where are you going on your next trip?

I have nothing booked in at the moment, plenty of ideas but no concrete plans. Top of the travel wish list right now is Phillip Island in Victoria, Australia to watch the penguin parade and Hawaii for some general purpose beach hopping and shopping.

The Liebster Award Rules are as follows:
·         Thank the blogger who gave it to you including a link back to their website – Done but thank you once again Bubs on the Move
·         Answer the eleven questions they ask you - Done
·         Nominate bloggers with less than 500 followers – Well I nominate fellow Australian family travel bloggers Kid Bucket List and From here to there with Kids
·         Ask eleven questions –
Why is family travel important to you?
Best family travel memory?
Any embarrassing travel moments?
Do you travel without children anymore?
Any family travel packing tips to share?
Who plans the trips in your household?
Best kids menu a restaurant you have come across?
What inspired you to start your blog?
How far in advance do you plan your family travel?
Where is your next trip planned to?
Where would you rather be today?
·         Let those bloggers know that they have been nominated so they can continue the chain – will do!

 


Why do I write?

Aug 13, 2014

I am truly flattered to have been tagged by fellow human and Canberra blogger  that I admire, Nadia from City Mum – Rural Life to participate in a blog hop and explore ‘Why I Write’?

Nadia has two gorgeous children and together with her husband; they are setting out to bring the best of their Sydney city upbringing to their new life in the country just outside of Canberra. Her blog is heavily influenced by her career as a primary school coordinator and teacher at one of the biggest schools in Sydney. I love reading her perspective on education and her family’s sea change.
At the end of this post, I’ll introduce you to some other Canberra bloggers I admire but for now onto the topic of this blog hop ‘Why I write’!

 

Why do you write?


I started writing for connection and to share experiences. When we first moved to Washington D.C from Australia, I would send out a weekly email to my friends and family back home, updating them on our experiences and adventures. My mailing list kept growing as more friends and family requested to be added to the list and soon enough my weekly email update turned into a blog. It was a great way to stay in touch with family and also connect with local bloggers in the states. Now that we are back living in Australia the blog is about rediscovering home with the bonus of meeting local Canberra bloggers.

What am I working on?

I am working on being more consistent with my blog and posting regularly (well at least semi regularly).

I had a long hiatus from the blog since moving back to Australia from the USA but have been feeling inspired and wanting to share all things family, food and travel again.

I have also started a new little project on my Facebook page where I have been sharing my week of trying to cook an international cuisine. So far I have tried cooking German and Japanese food both of which have been a hit with the family and I plan to share the results via the blog.

How does your writing differ from others in your genre?


Well I guess we all have different perspectives and experiences so my writing differs because it reflects my personal journey of living in six different countries, changing school seven times, being a mum, an army wife and a massive chocoholic!
That is why I love blogging, it is an opportunity to share a story and experience and read about others bloggers journeys. Take this blog hop for instance, we have all been asked the same questions but I bet they have been answered in such different ways reflecting all our personalities and quirks. In fact you can read all the participants of the blog hop in a link on Always Josefa blog – all so diverse.

What is your writing process?

It is not a quick process for me, I like to write down an idea and then let it sit and marinate for a few days going back to it every once in a while until it is has the skeleton of a blog post. Then I sit down and devote an hour or two to finish it off, edit, choose the photos and post.

I now pass on the challenge and tag Melissa from Honey Bee Books and Theresa from A Little Bird Made Me, both of whom are fellow humans and Canberrans that I have enjoyed getting to know over the past couple of months.


Melissa lives in Canberra with her husband and two children aged 4 and 6 years. She is passionate about helping her children to discover the wonder and magic of books and wants to ignite their love of reading. Her blog, Honey Bee Books, shares some of their reading adventures. You can find picture book reviews, themed reading lists and lots of fun activities that help children to connect to reading.










Theresa is the little bird making things in Canberra. She has rediscovered the joy of making things from fabric and enjoys playing with all sorts of different craft mediums. The three things that she has made that are the most important to her are her three children. She describes the oldest little chick as wise beyond her years. The middle chick is her ‘artist in residence’ and the youngest chick is the boy, who is all boy, in constant motion.



 

Long Weekend on Magnetic Island

Aug 11, 2014



On the journey over, Magnetic Island (Maggie) had certainly impressed its spectacular natural beauty on us and we were looking forward to an idyllic lazy tropical family holiday and it turns out that is exactly what we got! Our long weekend was spent lazing, gazing, swimming, eating and playing near the water.

Saturday
Dinner with a view

To kick off our family long weekend on Magnetic Island, we spent our first night dining at Peppers Blue on Blue Resort Boardwalk restaurant and bar in Nelly Bay. It had a good kids menu and we sat out on the deck and it was like a postcard picture looking out at the sunset pink landscape with uninterrupted views onto the seas dotted with yachts sparkling under a blanket of stars. Perfect!

Located at 123 Sooning Street, Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island 

Sunday – Exploring Horseshoe Bay

After a late start to the day with breakfast in the apartment and a swim in the resort pool, we caught the bus to spend the afternoon on Horseshoe Bay.

It had an immediate vibe as soon as we stepped off the bus, with a long beach with swimming and water sport options and the biggest concentration of eating options on the Island plus it had a vibrant market on Sunday.

I loved Horseshoe Bay instantly and we ended up spending most of our vacation time around there. It would be my future pick for accommodation on the island as I like to be able to walk to all the attractions on my vacation.

Highlight - Bungalow Bay Koala Village
My Island highlight was the great hands on educational tour with one of the Rangers at Bungalow Bay Koala Village. Maggie has an abundant wildlife, including one of Australia’s largest concentrations of wild koalas and at Bungalow Bay we got to get up close and personal to some of the local animals.

Our small tour group of 10 was met by Tony who is a passionate ranger and a protector of native wildlife and he thrilled us for two hours with his stories and knowledge.  He also scared us a bit too (well maybe it was just me, I think the others quite liked it!) by placing lizards on our head, giving us a python to wear, a baby saltwater crocodile to eyeball. We also took turns feeding a black cockatoo by placing a Sesame Seed in our mouths for the cockatoo to retrieve (huge achievement for me as I am scared of birds!). To top off all the excitement Tweeny cuddled with Matilda, a sleepy koala.


 
This was a highlight to do as a family. We were inadvertently learning about our native animals while having the opportunity to get up close and personal to them in a safe way.

Located at 40 Horseshoe Bay Road, Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

We paid an admission price of $65 for a family pass (2 Adults & 3 children) plus an additional $15 per person to cuddle a koala

Sunset Dinner
We ended the day sitting on the sand watching the sun set over beautiful Horseshoe Bay and then walked across the road to have what ended up being my favourite meal on the Island dinner at Barefoot Art, Food, Wine. Part restaurant, part gallery, with multiple dining decks we choose to sit in the seclusion of the fairy light lit back garden for dinner. They offered a great kids menu with Tweeny choosing a steak, which was a lovely cut of meat cooked to her medium well specifications. The husband had the fish of the day, grilled barramundi, but my meal was the stand out – bug tail spaghetti, with hints of chilli, tomato and garlic! Yum! My mouth is watering just remembering the meal, freshly grilled bug tail cooked perfectly was too good to share.

Located at 5 Pacific Drive, Horseshoe Bay, Magnetic Island

Monday

After another late start to the day with breakfast in the apartment, we again caught the bus to spend the afternoon on Horseshoe Bay partaking in some water sports.

Tube Ride

There was a plethora of water sport options being offered up and down the beach at Horseshoe Bay, with Jet Skiing, Kayaking, Kneeboarding, Fishing, Wakeboarding, Waterskiing and tube rides all on offer we opted to start our day with adrenalin pumping tube ride.


 

Strapped into our lifejackets, we boarded our three person tube and sat with anticipation while the speed boat towed us out to the open sea. From there it was a fast and furious 10 minutes as we were skilfully manoeuvred for maximum scream curdling fun! Bouncing up and down in our seats with hair flapping in the wind all I could hear was the engine of the speedboat along with Tweeny’s delighted giggles.

Located at Horseshoe Bay Foreshore, Magnetic Island
 
We paid $45 for 2 adults & 1 child

Fishing

For a little change of pace after the tube ride, we had booked in for a two hour fishing trip. I hadn’t prebooked any activities before arriving on the Island so it was a last minute scramble to find availability with a fishing tour operator. Luckily Barnacle Bill was able to fit us in on his afternoon fishing tour, we would have ideally have loved to have done a combined fishing and snorkelling trip but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
Barnacle Bill was a no fuss type of tour with all the basics (rods & bait) plus instruction provided. Even though we did not catch any fish worth keeping, it was a spectacular afternoon on the water.

Located at Horseshoe Bay Foreshore, Magnetic Island
 
We paid $200 ($80 per adult & $40 per child)

Man Friday on a Monday

Man Friday restaurant received some glowing reviews from some of the Maggie locals we had met, so based on their recommendation and the fact it was within walking distance of our accommodation,  we tried it out as an early dinner option for our last night on the Island. We were tipped off to make a booking and it is a good thing we did, as it got full very quickly and we saw a quite a few diners without a reservation turned away.
Located in a quiet suburban street in Nelly Bay, Man Friday offers up Tex-Mex food in a simple rustic setting with roaming resident possums (which if I am honest freaked me out and I spent most of the night with my legs tucked up on the chair trying to avoid the possums).Thanks to another local tip, we bought our own wine and enjoyed a quick, casual dinner under the stars and coloured fairy lights in the outdoor garden. The husband ordered a beef fajita while I enjoyed the chicken version and Tweeny opted for the beef nachos from the kids menu.

Located at 37 Warboys Street, Nelly Bay, Magnetic Island

Have you heard of Magnetic Island?

Aug 10, 2014



When planning our winter school family vacation for Tweeny, the husband and I, there were three strict criteria, first it must be in Australia, second it must be warm (no snow bunnies in our house) and the third was it must have a beach nearby and I wanted all of this within a reasonable budget. In my search, I stumbled across some accommodation options in Magnetic Island. Where is Magnetic Island? I had never previously heard of the place. A few Google clicks later and I was sold on the destination!

Magnetic Island or ‘Maggie’, as she’s affectionately called by those in the know (it took me two days of being on the island to get in the “know”) is a real tropical island off the coast of Townsville in Far North Queensland with the only way on and off the Island by ferry.

Maggie has about 320 sunny days a year with an average winter (June, July, and August) maximum temperature of 25 degrees Celsius. Score! So far Maggie had met all my family winter holiday criteria. Within Australia, tick – 3 hour direct flight from Sydney to Townsville. Warm weather, tick! Beach, nearby, tick, tick, tick! So our family long weekend was set into motion.

Getting to Magnetic Island
 
The closest airport to the Island is in Townsville. We had an easy direct 3 hour flight across from Sydney and then transferred by taxi the short distance to the Ferry Terminal (On the way I kind of fell in love with Townsville). The Sealink ferry transports commuters every hour by high speed ferry to the island within twenty minutes. There is an alternate ferry service if you have a car with you - Fantsea ferry.

We purchased our return family tickets for $74 and jumped aboard the SeaLink, after stowing our luggage in the designated area on deck we headed to the upper deck to soak in some sun. With windswept hair and the afternoon sun beating down on us, the ferry ride across slowly built upon our excitement and anticipation as we saw the rocky granite headlands and lush hoop greenery slowly come into focus and reveal itself the closer we got to the Island.
Sealink Ferry Terminal located at Breakwater Terminal, Sir Leslie Thiess Drive, Townsville



Staying on Maggie

The four main settlements on Maggie with concentrations of accommodation, convenience stores and restaurant options are Picnic Bay, Nelly Bay, Arcadia and Horseshoe Bay all are linked by a bus service that loops the Island every hour.

The ferry terminal is at Nelly Bay, from where we boarded the bus to make the 10 minute journey to our accommodation – a 2 bedroom apartment.

Buying Supplies

After we had checked out our accommodation, we went in search of supplies, as we were planning on making use of the apartment’s kitchen by eating breakfasts at home.

There is a lack of commercialism about Magnetic Island and that is definitely part of its rustic, unblemished charm. Maggie is not the type of place you come to if you are in search of shopping malls or fancy stores, it is about simplicity and enjoying the simple pleasures of sun, sea and sand. The availability of products on the island reflects that simplicity; while we found all that we needed for our short break, I would recommend packing any out of the ordinary items or anything luxurious you might require with you. The options are narrow on Maggie, with two petrol stations, four small grocery stores, four bottle shops, one pharmacy, one newsagent and one bakery.

With supplies in hand we were ready and eager to explore all of Maggie’s delights over the coming days. There were children’s playgrounds dotted all across the island and plenty of green and sandy options to explore and enjoy.

24 hours in Townsville

Jul 27, 2014



Townsville was meant to be a transit point for our party of three (the husband, Tweeny and I) on the way to our planned winter family holiday on Magnetic Island. Magnetic Island was all that I thought we would need for our winter break, Far North Queensland Tropical Island with warm weather, beaches and did I mention warm weather.

The plan was to spend as little time as possible in Townsville, to fly into the airport and take the short 20 minute ride to the ferry station, which would take us to Magnetic Island. Something happened in that short time we did spend in Townsville; it captured my attention and intrigued me.
Firstly the blue skies and palm tree welcome at the airport softened me immediately. As we began peeling our Canberra winter layers off, the taxi pulled away from the airport and drove through the “Strand”, Townsville’s beachfront promenade which was clean and green, with inviting playgrounds and a free outdoor water park. We then passed a large aquarium and a tropical museum.  Townsville started to look like a great family winter holiday spot in its own right.

This did not meet my preconceived images of the place. I imagined Townsville to be a one horse town that was full of the type of entertainment only suitable for young, single army types.  I was immediately regretting not scheduling any time to explore it further.
Whilst on Magnetic Island, Townsville was still on mind, so while the husband couldn’t extend his trip as he had to fly back to Canberra for work, Tweeny and I took advantage of still being on school vacation and booked a quick and sneaky 24 hours in Townsville.

Our 24 kid friendly hours in Townsville were spent leisurely eating, walking and sightseeing our way through this very family friendly city.

Stay

Since there were only two of us staying, I opted for a hotel room and got a great deal on Wotif.com for a 4.5 star rated hotel for a mystery deal rate of $99 a night on Palmer Street. It turned out to be a great choice with Palmer Street being centrally located to the Strand and city centre with restaurants a plenty. There was no time wasted in cars and catching public transport, Tweeny and I we were able to walk to all our desired locations and soak in the warm North Queensland sun.

Breakfast

Tweeny and I dined at Jam Corner on Palmer St, impressed by their welcoming alfresco dining area (making the most of the sunshine!) and fresh simple seasonal menu with a separate breakfast menu for kids.

With all the goodness on offer, Tweeny opted for Orange Juice and Kellogs Coco Pops – a rare treat for our mini girls’- holiday within a holiday.
There was good strong coffee on offer for me and I ate Queensland Avocado on Wholegrain Sourdough with whipped marinated Danish feta with a squeeze of lemon on top it was a simple and flavoursome start to the morning.

Located at 1 Palmer Street, Townsville

Morning

Museum of Tropical Queensland


Small and easy to navigate Tweeny and I were entertained in the museum for a few hours which showcases a diverse collection covering the region's maritime, natural, and history with displays of tropical wildlife, dinosaur fossils, local corals, and deep-sea creatures.
The stand out for Tweeny was one of the current temporary exhibits - Humanoid Discovery. We experienced through hands on exhibits how different body systems and organs function. We spent quite a lot of time at the “Pull My Finger” test, coming up with different food and drink combinations to see which would deliver the most offensive and impressive FART.

I think Tweeny’s highlight was eating bugs and seeing me eat bugs!!  We were both brave enough to taste test the goods on offer at the Creepy Crawly Culinary Class, munching on crispy deep fried meal worms, crickets and ants.


 
The small cafe on site had a limited menu so we opted for a walk along the Strand in search of lunch.

Located at 70 – 102 Flinders Street, Townsville
We paid an admission price of $15.00 (Adult) and $8.80 (Child 3-15)

Lunch

 

The location is what sold us on eating at Longboard Bar & Grill, jutting out into the headlands, it offered a kid friendly menu, fast service and a cracker view.

I ate Baja Fish Tacos with Seasoned grilled Mackerel, red cabbage, Pico de Gallo, chilli lime coriander and Tweeny chose a cheeseburger and fries from the kids menu.
The Strand Headlands, 80 Gregory St, Townsville

Afternoon

Reef HQAquarium



Reef HQ Aquarium felt a little tired and dated when we first walked in but as we moved through the 2.5 million litre Coral Reef Exhibit Tweeny and I got immediately excited by all that we saw.
With over 150 species of fish and 120 species of hard and soft corals found only on the Great Barrier Reef. We ooed and aaahed at seeing sharks, sting rays and turtles as we made our way through the exhibits glass tunnels.

We had planned our visit to coincide with a tour of the turtle hospital. The tour was my highlight as I have been to quite a few aquariums but have never had the opportunity to get so close to these magnificent looking creatures before. It was sobering and interesting to hear how the turtles sustained the injuries that landed them in hospital, the two turtles that we saw had injuries from boat accidents.
Reef HQ Aquarium is small and easy to navigate and great for younger kids up to 12 years old.

Located at 2-68 Flinders Street, Townsville
We paid an admission price of  $28.00 (Adult) and $22.00 (Concession)

Dinner

Tweeny and I had worked up an appetite with all the walking and fresh air so we opted for a hands on meal at Ribs and Rumps. It is a great place to take little (and big) carnivores who like to eat with their hands. There was a kids menu to choose from but we decided to share the three rib platter (combination of pork, beef and lamb ribs) from the standard menu and finished off our evening in Townsville by sharing a cheesecake for dessert.  

2 Dibbs Street (entrance on Palmer St), Townsville