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Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Friday was our last full day in London. The few days we had there just whizzed by too quickly and the evening before, I was lamenting about how sad I was the be leaving Europe this time around. Usually I’m ever the eager beaver to return back to the warmth of Singapore, but I guess the weather had treated me so well that it made me fall that little bit in love with Europe – especially Hamburg. And already I can’t wait to return again to that side of the world next year, hopefully to Italy or Switzerland or another city in Germany.

Friday morning Flo and I made our way back into London but more to the CBD where we met Leena during her lunch hour. It was really sweet of her to sacrifice her precious hour off work just to see us.

We met at To A Tea near Farringdon station, which is this cute little bistro that specialises in teas and they also do healthy lunches – think full salads with lean proteins or veggie options.

I chose a Flowering Tea just because it looked so pretty in the picture. A glass of hot water came and I was like “Whuuuuut?!” before the server dropped a blob of something into it. It took about a minute to slowly unfurl and open up.


Green Tea with Lily and Osmanthus.

Definitely rather girly to look at and perfect for Instagramming. The tea carried a lovely aroma of osmanthus but towards the bottom, it got quite bitter, naturally, as the tea has steeped quite a while by then so it was a little difficult to drink.

It was great catching up with Leena and learning about how the year ahead is going to be quite an exciting one for her, and especially Brian who’s taken over his parents’ restaurant down in Southampton. Lots of things are starting to come together but at the same time, there’re lots of issues to iron out. I hope that all goes well for them!

After tea, Flo and I walked along the River Thames to get to Borough Market.

I love love love Borough Market! Yes yes, it’s full of tourists and food prices aren’t exceptionally cheap but the buzz in the air as you walk through the market is amazing. The delicious smells of food sizzling on the grill, the wide array of pastries, the sweet scent of fresh bread. It’s a feast for the senses!

First thing Flo and I had was an oyster each from this man here.

£2.50 per oyster, with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of tabasco, downed in a mere 2.5 seconds. Faster than that in fact!

There were two girls next to us who appeared never to have seen or eaten oysters before and were both keen yet hesitant to try them. After Flo and I had swallowed our delightfully fresh oysters that tasted of the sea, they asked if they were good. I said that they were and Mr. Oyster Man complained that I wasn’t loud enough for him to hear. So I sportingly exclaimed that they were AWESOME!

Paella…

Which we skipped. 

Now Flo and I enjoy good food but we’re not the types to go around and stuff our faces with every appetising thing in sight. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, it’s just that we both realise that sometimes overeating not only makes you feel sick, it also taints your memory of the food and the place. Instead, we tend to zero in on something we think we’d like and savour it. If we are still hungry after, we might get a small snack or dessert. And the next time we return, we can always try something else. In this case, it might be a while but still…

I more or less zeroed in on Big V.

They specialise in vegan burgers and I opted for the Salad Box that came with two salads and a choice of burger patty. I chose the Spicy Chickpea Sweet Potato Patty. Cost me £7. And it was quite a hefty box which left me very full after.

I loved the Spinach and Broccoli Salad but the Shredded Beetroot Carrot Salad that’s hidden below was a bit too dry and rabbit-food like. Then again, I tend to prefer my veggies on the softer side so yeah… I’m like an old woman in that respect.

I had the salads drizzled with Ume Dressing and they also scooped a generous amount of Beetroot Hummus and Tahini dressing on top as well. Those last two were really yummy. I added Sriracha for the extra kick on my burger. I enjoyed the patty so much I actually returned home and made some for myself! In fact, I made two kinds of veggie burgers so stay tuned for those recipes in a few blog posts’ time!

Flo on the other hand, stayed away from the greens since I had enough for the both of us, and went for the good ol’ British Classic – Fish&Chips from Fish!.

It was ironic because Flo was always drawing flak about how England’s doesn’t have much good food to speak of, and that Fish & Chips are often drowned in oil so why would anyone want to eat them?! I only found out the day that we were at Borough Market that he’d never actually had proper fish and chips before! Tsk! Anyway, he finally decided to give it a go to see if there was some redemption in the English food scene to be found.

And it looks like Fish!, with their £9.95 Cod Fish and Chips managed to impress him after all!

The batter of the piping hot fresh, flakey fish was thin and crisp, while the chips were fat and so very lightly salted. Great with the ketchup although salt and vinegar would have been the more traditional way to go.

Flo said that he was very pleasantly surprised that the fish was fried well and not at all oily. Same with the chips. I’m glad he enjoyed this typical English pub grub especially since this is something the English have definitely got a deft hand in cooking this speciality of theirs. It’s not easy to find Fish & Chips of that same standard in Singapore so having it in London was definitely the right choice.

Happy bellies! We did take a lot of pictures of the food and the food with ourselves. Funny because I think it was in my last post that I was laughing at people taking wefies with the swans at Hyde Park. I guess we all have our little fetishes. Flo’s, and mine, just happens to be food.

So after we filled our bellies, we walked a little more around Borough Market, soaking in the gorgeous sights of beautifully made pastries and desserts.

Giant cookies, German cakes, Dessert slices…

Tarts, Sliced cakes, Chocolate fondants…

Fudge! I’m not really a fudge fan but they’re really popular in the UK.

We skipped the cheeses and breads because we knew that we’d be tempted to buy some but there wouldn’t have been much point since we were leaving the next day – me back to Singapore, and Flo to Zurich for a week at head office.

I wanted to take him over to Bermondsey Street to this place called Fuckoffee. It’s this super quirky, hipster, coffee cafe place where the youngsters go to. It’s like an ‘alternative’ cafe that’s a little rough round the edges.

We were a mere few hundred metres off when it began to pour, so Flo and I quickly found shelter at Bermondsey Street Cafe instead which looked a world away from Fuckoffee. It took quite a big space and looked upmarket-industrial. There was a group of hot mamas with their babies there and two Japanese girls who looked to be having a late brunch of delectable looking fluffy pancakes.

Flo had his Cappuccino. I had my Piccolo.

We didn’t make it to Fuckoffee in the end and I think it was kind of a good thing because the more I think about it, the more the place seems a little dank and grungy. That’s just my opinion. 

When the rain finally cleared, the temperature dropped quite a bit and the winds turned a touch icy. Just a touch.

Flo and I continued on towards the Thames…

Where we then wefied with Tower Bridge

And The Shard

Awesome huh? We took pictures with some of the most iconic, world famous buildings in the world!!!

Then we crossed Tower Bridge, which is one of the prettiest bridges ever. I used to think it was the London Bridge just because. But one day, I found out which one was the real London Bridge and felt rather disappointed that it didn’t look as impressive as it sounded. Also, I guess because there was the song about London bridge falling down, I simply assumed it had to be an amazeballs looking bridge.

Flo and I had quite a journey home because we went to Tower Hill station where we had to make a few switches before we got onto the Met line home. Thought we’d be late for family dinner but nope! We had about a good half hour before most of the family started to pile in.

Grandma cooked the perfect amount for 16 of us – there was a bit more food kept aside in the kitchen for the latecomers.

Sambal Squid with Lady’s Fingers, Roast Pork Belly, Curry Prawns, Stir-fried Asparagus with Runner Beans and Pork Ribs. She later took out some of that Spinach Curry from the night before that I love.

T’was a great final dinner in London and it was wonderful being able to catch up with Rachael especially and find out how her wedding plans are coming along. First cousin on Mum’s side to get married!! 

And seeing Suk Gong, as well as Uncle Peter and Aunty Betty. It’s been a while and sometimes, it’s only after not seeing them for a while that I realise just how much they, and my parents too, are getting on. I’m happy though, that they are all blessed with good health and are looking lively and happy.

Saturday morning, I finished packing everything. By packing I actually mean stuffing everything into my check-in bag. I was a little worried that it might burst open while transiting from London to Singapore. Thank God it didn’t.

Mum, Dad, Grandpa and Grandma left quite early to Southampton to catch their two-week cruise around the Baltic. Flo and I managed to say goodbye to them before catching a bit more zees. At 11am, just an hour before their ship was due to depart, Uncle David got a call to say that they’d left their tickets at home! So there was a bit of a panic where Uncle David had to drive fast and furiously to get the tickets to them, while Kor had to dash Sophie to her tuition class in Harrow.

So lunch with Kor at this Japanese place we enjoy was scrapped and Flo and I made a simple lunch at home before Kor dropped us off at the airport.

Flo’s flight to Zurich was at 4.55pm so I managed to send him all the way to his gate before I somehow managed to burn the other 3 hours until my flight was due to leave.

And so, our two week Eurotrip came to a close. Eurotrip isn’t really the right term because we were really only in two places. Hamdon trip? Lonburg? It was a great one though, one that far exceeded my expectations especially spending it with Flo. In fact, I daresay it was my favourite holiday ever. So far. Especially because it was with Flo.

 

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I. Am. Happy.

It must have been the weather and the sun, but I felt so happy being in Hamburg. I think it’s one thing to go about doing touristy things in a city/country, and it’s another be immersed into another culture by being with locals. I love discovering new places as a tourist, but being part of German life even for a week, made me feel more connected to the country.

On the Friday that I was there, Flo had some errands to run. So he dropped me off at Cafe May where I was hankering after yoghurt for breakfast. Alas, they only had yoghurt available for their buffet breakfast so I settled for a Sesambrötchen with Nutella and Sour Cherry Compote for €3.60. It came with coffee.

I know it’s a little silly but this seemingly plain breakfast tasted so good. I swear the air in Europe makes food taste better. Or perhaps it’s the quality of flour that makes their bread taste so much richer, more aromatic, more hearty. And yes, we get Nutella here but the Sour Cherries compote was something different. It was delightful! Sweet, but not too sweet. Tart, but not too tart.

Just before I took the picture above, the place was buzzing with people grabbing a quick breakfast before dashing off to work or school. There was a homeliness about the cafe and their large, rustic cakes looked just like the ones grandma would make, filling the air with the sweet scent of fresh bakes. Uhm.. by grandma I mean the kind of grandma who spends her days making magic in the kitchen, patiently coating layers of sponge with light lashings of cream. My grandma bakes too but more Asian cakes – Pandan chiffon cakes and butter cakes. Less of the cream ones.

After a leisurely breakfast, I crossed over to the park that was abound with parents watching their children having the time of their lives. It was a really big park by Singapore standards and it was so peaceful as I made my way further in. I tried not to wander too far or make too many turns lest I got lost. I’m quite prone to getting lost and without wifi or data, that wouldn’t have been ideal.

Clear blue skies and green green trees.

I found a bench where I sat myself on to bask under the sunshine. Then I got a little restless and decided to walk slowly back to the station. Flo was still settling some stuff so I went over to Penny, this convenience store across the road where I had a good poke around.

Call me a noob but I found these large blocks of Ritter Sport!! They only have the smaller squares here so these looked really novel to me! I restrained myself and didn’t buy any. Just got myself a Coke Zero and a packet of fruit and nut mix in case I got peckish.

I managed to find a small green area where I chilled for a bit before receiving a text from Flo to say he was done and would meet me at the station.

Fun Fact: In Germany, glass bottles, plastic bottles and aluminium cans are often placed beside the bin for the homeless to pick up. They then bring it for recycling where they can get some money back. 

I wasn’t sure where to put my finished tin of coke so I put it inside the bin because I was afraid it might get blown away. Not more than 10min later was it fished out by an elderly woman. So I guess I was supposed to leave it beside the bin but no matter, because it was found anyway. 🙂

Our plan for the afternoon was to visit Flo’s aunty Sangeeta and her family. But first. LUNCH!

This time, we tried the Matjesbrötchen and the Bratheringbrötchen.

Apparently, Matjes herring is skinned and filleted before being cured in a marinade. Usually young herrings are used to make matjes herring. Bismarck is lightly salted and pickled while Brathering, it is fried, marinated herring.

The matjes herring reminded me a lot of smoked salmon with saltiness being its most dominant flavour, while the brathering was more plain. My preference is still 100% for the bismarck herring!

We didn’t have too much time to dwell on the brötchens as we were running a little late getting to Sangeeta’s. When we finally reached, it was just about tea time so after introductions were made, we made for their back patio where Sangeeta laid out her stunning Rhabarberkuchen (Rhubarb Cake).

As well as these gorgeous looking Erdbeertörtchen (Strawberry Cakelets).

I’ve never tried a rhubarb cake in my life so this was a first. The nutty ground almonds in the cake base held up a generous layer of delicately tangy rhubarb, while the soft meringue on top carried that bit of sweetness needed to balance the flavours off perfectly.

Flo’s 14-years-old and growing cousin, Nilai, managed to down slice after slice of Rhubarb Cake as well as a fair number of Strawberry Cakelets. And he still had room later for dinner. I was in awe!

Flo’s paternal grandma, Frau Mathur, was also present. Bless her! I thought she was amazing and really sweet. As was Flo’s cousin sister Shalin whose attempt to do some social work in Bangalore when her gap year starts in September fell through right at the last minute. I have my fingers and toes crossed that she will get to go with another organisation.

Torsen, Sangeeta’s husband, joined us a little while later in time to get some cake before Nilai polished them off. Then Flo flew his drone around a little while and managed to snap a few pictures of all of us.

I was nice being able to relax on their porch and chit-chat with Flo’s family before dinner. Frau Mathur spent a few years in London working, and that was where she met her husband, Flo’s paternal grandpa, Herr Mathur. Sangeeta and Torsen also lived in the States a few years with their kids so communication with them was a breeze.

Flo’s late paternal grandfather was Indian which also explains the little traces of exoticism in his and his cousins, as well as Sangeeta’s features. They all look so damn gorgeous!!

Torsen fired up the barbecue for dinner and the meats! I think I’ve raved so many times to anyone willing to hear that the Germans are awesome at their barbecues. They use good cuts of meat and the sausages are not filled with gristle unlike the ones we get in the UK. They’re proper meat and proper quality.

Sangeeta’s salads were also crazy delicious. I couldn’t help but have a few servings of her salad before daring to ask her what she put into it. Olive oil, balsamic, salt, pepper, sprinkles. Sprinkles of mixed dried herbs. And so, before we left, she gifted me a box of sprinkles for when I make salads at home. I was so touched!

And the plate above ended up having more food piled onto it. I didn’t just eat the one sausage!

Saturday morning was supposed to be our last full day in Hamburg. One of Jens’ friends bunked over the night before because he was testing out a car that his company had lent to him. Mercedes. He woke up so bright and so early that Flo and I were wondering whether he’d already left to drive back to Munich. We found out not long after that he’d actually gone out to pick up some breakfast.

A ‘typical’ Bavarian breakfast.

Of Pretzels and Weisswursts.

In Germany, you can buy unbaked pretzels frozen and then bake them up at home. Which is what we did. You can’t get any fresher than that! The pretzels were just slightly crisp on the outside and so fluffy on the inside. They were nowhere as dense and bulky as the ones we get in Singapore.

Weisswursts are usually boiled to warm them up, after which you remove their casing and eat the meat with sweet mustard. What I love about these is that the sausage meat is really lean yet so flavourful.

After breakfast, Jens’ friend left for his drive home while we set off to Alster Lake.

It’s not so apparent in my photos but it was bustling with activity. There were people kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, rowing, and even water cycling which was new to me.

Further down where the lake opens up were lots of people windsurfing. I love how the Germans make use of beautiful days to do outdoor activities be it on the water, or simply taking a walk or cycling. It shows how much they appreciate good weather and fresh air.

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Finally, a picture with our wonderful hosts, Jens and Leslie.

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Who managed to put up with the two of us a whole week! 🙂

On our way home, we stopped by their local supermarket to pick up more white asparagus at my request since I don’t think I’ll have any more for quite a while.

White asparagus with ham for starters.

Then we shared the meats that Flo and I failed to bring over to Chris’ place on Thursday. They were still awesome-possum anyway.

We also grilled up some feta cheese sprinkled with dried herbs, salt and pepper, topped with red onions, chopped tomatoes and paprika, and wrapped in foil. Another flavour bomb! I was going to share a picture of it but really, it’s not much of a looker. Trust me though, warm, gooey, melty, salty feta is pure bliss. I actually bought a pack of feta just now! Will wait for Flo to come back and have a BBQ with Amanda and Alex since we plan to swing by Huber’s for some meats. Mmm… I’m already salivating just thinking of it.

Our evening ended on a high because Flo’s team, Dortmund, beat Frankfurt 2-1 to win the German cup. I was very happy because my boyfriend was ecstatic – Happy boyfriend happy life! Only we couldn’t properly celebrate because Leslie’s a die-hard Frankfurt fan. Oops!

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Flo and I mainly commuted around Hamburg by bus or on trains during our stay there. So when we had to make our way to the area where his Mum, Ute, lives, we had to catch one of those fast trains that went out of the main city area.

This picture below reminds me a lot of Paris’ Gare du Nord. It’s a hustle and bustle of people heading to or coming from somewhere.

Due to a slight miscommunication, Ute wasn’t around when we arrived. So Flo and I went to the nearby town bakery to grab a Mettbrötchen. This is probably Flo’s favourite breakfast since he often raves about it and never fails to have one whenever he goes back to Germany.

It was my first time trying raw minced pork with chopped raw onions. I found it slightly on the salty side and while I didn’t hate it, I didn’t find myself desiring to have more. That being said, it was interesting to finally try one of Flo’s favourite foods.

We met Ute not long after and she brought us to her apartment for a quick cup of coffee before we set off to Flo’s grandparents’ home an hour and a half away. It was a nice drive through the countryside, so nice that I ended up nodding off half the journey.

We arrived after his grandparents’ usual lunch time so Herr Rennekamp was rather on the hungry side. He was really cute though, asking repeatedly when lunch would be served. It wasn’t too long before the beautiful aroma of home-cooked food began to waft through the rooms.

Frau Rennekamp had cooked some of the Weißer Spargel (White Asparagus) that Ute had bought over, Spätzle and Hungarian Beef Goulash.

It was a simple meal but so wholesome and sumptuous! It was my virgin experience eating spätzle and I enjoyed it very much, especially with the comforting, tender beef with tangy sauerkraut in the goulash. Flo said the goulash wasn’t the best but I loved it and am serious about making some at home once Flo returns from Zurich. I even bought home some spätzle!

Also, I’d never eaten white asparagus before and while it was simply boiled in salt water, it was incredibly sweet and tender. No seasoning was needed. We had some ham along with it and it’s amazing how there isn’t always a need for fancy cooking for food to taste delicious. Fresh ingredients certainly speak for themselves.

Herr Rennekamp heartily dug into lunch and once we were filled up, he excitedly asked for dessert. He reminded me so much of Grandpa who we all know has quite a sweet-tooth. My grandpa, even at 85, can be quite cheeky too and is known to behave himself a couple of days before the doctor checks his blood sugar, only to return home after the test to indulge in Honey Nut Crunch drowned in tea (he says he doesn’t take sugar with his tea anymore but it looks like this is his alternative) as well as toast slathered in marmalade. 

It took all of two minutes for Herr Rennekamp to dish ice-cream for all of us, to be eaten with berries compote. And not long after, he made sure to have a second round.

We spent quite a bit of time chit-chatting. Back in the day, Herr and Frau Rennekamp used to travel a lot but age has slowed them down. Frau Rennekamp used to visit the US quite often so she was able to speak some English although after years of little practice, she claims to have forgotten quite a lot. Still, I thought that she spoke really well!

We went for a short walk after lunch, like a really really short walk. Like 50m off from their home where we stood around looking at neighbouring houses before we returned. Then Flo’s grandfather showed us around his garden – Flo helped him build the garden 15, 16 years ago when they had just built the house. It’s a gorgeous garden with a little camping ‘hut’ where you can BBQ in, and even sleep in, in winter.

And just as Asian families love to feed their loved ones, Flo’s grandma had prepared cakes in anticipation for tea time. Or coffee for them.

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These were huge (to me) slices of cakes and each person had one for themselves.

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I went for one that was akin to a Blackforest but not typical of the usual one. It had a marble butter cake base studded with sour cherries, was topped with fresh cream and then covered by a thin layer of dark chocolate. I loved the cherries but I just couldn’t stomach any more than half the cake.

Right after tea time, Flo and I had to bid farewell to Herr and Frau Rennekamp. It amazed me how quickly time flew spending the afternoon with them and Ute. I could see how sad they were that we couldn’t stay longer and Frau Rennekamp asked for us to spend more time with them next visit. Alternatively, she might come over to Singapore or meet us somewhere in between.

Ute dropped us at one of the train stations on the way home so Flo and I managed to hop on over to Hauptbahnhof station where he managed to buy some new ear phones from a nearby electronic store, and also for us to get some dinner.

Flo was adamant that I try one of Germany’s favourite street grub, especially after a late night out – the Doner. According to Google, Batman served a mean doner. And it wasn’t too far from where we were either.

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They made fresh wraps on site and I swear, it took 30 seconds to make a doner from start to finish. They were that fast! See video below for evidence:

Unfortunately, they were out of veal which was Flo’s preference, so we had to settle for chicken. And let me tell you, their doners were like the size and weight of a baby!

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Digging in.

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Fresh chunks of chicken, fresh, crisp salad, onions, yoghurt sauce, chilli flakes. 


I wasn’t blown away. I guess I haven’t had enough doner kebabs in my life to know whether this was a good one, bad one, or great one. It did the job of filling me up though although Flo and I agreed that the bread was a bit too thick and chewy for our liking.

After we left Batman, Flo felt a tinge of regret at not having decided to go to a different doner shop to get one with veal. Also, he claims that his usual spot still makes it better. It’s ok. It was fun just having a go and crossing something else off our ‘To-Eat’ list.

So I’ve just shared with you about meeting part of Flo’s family. On Thursday, it was time to meet his friends. After being with Flo a while now, I know how important his friends are to him and it was important to me too that I made a good impression on them.

His friends and him go back years and years, and I know that they’ve stuck by him through thick and thin, just as Flo has done for them. I was also excited in finally seeing in person the people Flo has shared stories with me about, from their school days to travelling together.

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Thursday was a perfect day for a BBQ with the warm sun smiling upon us. We went to Chris’s home – Chris actually just visited and stayed with us a couple months back so it was great seeing him again! He has a huge back garden, the kind that’d be lovely for kids to get up to no good in.

Anyway, the BBQ was set such that every person/couple brought just enough food for themselves, and would cook their own food as well so that everyone would be able to socialise. Flo and I had put our meats into the fridge but somehow, in our frenzy to go over to Chris’ home (which is about a 45-60min drive away), only Jens and Leslie’s food got packed. We did however, have our two red bell peppers make the trip.

Flo’s friends were sweet enough to offer us some of their grub and we ended up having more than enough food that evening. So much so that we could only stomach one bell pepper while the other ended up being kept by Chris I believe because it certainly didn’t make it home with us.

We managed to get a picture of all of us with Flo’s drone.

And another.

After sunset, it started to get a little chilly so we moved into Chris’ living room. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Flo’s friends – Geezy, Felix and Thomas especially, all of whom I was meeting for the first time. They all spoke great English although as a group, they sometimes lapsed into German unconsciously which is natural.

It was a tiring day but so fulfilling. I told Flo later that after getting to know his friends and his family, I felt closer to him. Closer to him in the sense that I was able to see him mingle with his nearest and dearest, and see how he treated them, cared for them, loved them. And it warmed my heart to know that his friends and family too, care for and love him the same way back.

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We woke up to some German Toast with toppings specially selected by Flo. He introduced me to Frühlingsquark and Kräuter Fleischsalat as spreads.

I love love LOVED the frühlingsquark aka herbed quark with fresh cherry tomatoes and a touch of salt and pepper. It wasn’t as heavy as cream cheese and not as tart as yoghurt. Almost like an in between. Definitely going to hit the German Supermarket to look for this because it’s so damn good! They need to ship it into our local supermarkets!!

The Kräuter Fleischsalat translates to Herb Meat Salad. It’s almost like a coleslaw with gherkins and strips of meat instead of cabbage. I didn’t like this one too much because it felt heavy on the palate and too creamy for me. Flo loves this though.

After breakfast, it was a bus ride into Hamburg city. I enjoyed sitting by the window and looking out at every day life in Hamburg – bakeries littering nearly every street, people enjoying their coffees, Asian takeaways and little shops selling knick-knacks. It didn’t feel as busy or as crowded as Singapore.

Before we began our walk about town, we stopped to get a cup of coffee and a bagel with mozzarella, pesto, sundried tomatoes and fresh tomatoes. Apparently breakfast at home was a little too light for Flo. I had a few bites and seriously, it’s like you can walk into any bakery in Germany and not be let down because all of them have high standards on their breads.

People say that France makes the best breads but I think… we’ve got it all wrong. It’s the Germans that have fine-tuned and mastered the art of bread-making, churning out breads that are not only rich in flavour, but rich in nutrients. Think rye, pumpernickel, multi-seeded and multi-grained breads…

This is the Hamburg Rathaus. Doesn’t sounds pleasant in English but it’s actually their Town Hall. Or City Hall as some of you might know it. In front of it is this large piazza where people can mill around.

We continued on with Flo showing me the more CBD areas, and the more upper class High Street where the wealthy flock to for shopping.

Then he brought me to this awesome Gummy Shop! It’s called Bären-Treff and is located at Mönckebergstr. 19. When I walked into the shop, I was like, OK, so it’s just a gummy bear shop. We can get gummies anywhere. But then, Flo started showing me all the different flavours they had – Spicy Chilli gummies, Tropical Fruit gummies, Summer Berries gummies, Ginger ones, Alcoholic ones, Sour Cherry Coke, Coffee… They even gave out free samples to try and they were lovely, gummy and not too chewy. They even had ones without gelatine for vegetarians.

I bought a pack of Ginger ones and a packet of Exotic ones that included grapefruit, mango, guava, kiwi, papaya and passionfruit for my gummy-lovin’ mama.

Then we were off again..

This time, to Mö-Grill not too far away from the gummy bear shop.

Now we all know that Currywurst is a must-have on your German To-Eat list. And apparently, Mö-Grill does it best.

Interestingly, they have two kiosks located directly opposite each other on Mönckebergstr. 11. According to the local,my boyfriend, they are both as good as each other so it doesn’t matter which one you order and eat from.

We ordered a portion of the famed Currywurst that came with a small brötchen, perfect for mopping up any leftover sauce.

The sausage itself was infused with some curry powder, and I loved how the casing was grilled to develop a tantalising crust that gave way to the juicy, meaty filling. The crust provided a textural contrast to the overall dish and the curry ketchup with more curry powder dusted over the top gave it a little sweetness to the otherwise savoury food.

Please ignore my hair eating the crumbs on the table. 

I enjoyed the currywurst, standing by the side of the street, leaning against their high tables, and digging into the sliced sausages with a small wooden fork under the warm sun like a bawse.

Food in our tums, we made off towards St. Michael’s Church.

This is perhaps one of Hamburg’s most iconic landmarks. There are lots of gorgeous churches around Hamburg but I believe St. Michael’s might be the most renown especially with its steeple towering high above most of Hamburg’s buildings.


We entered into its sanctuary that was decorated in white and gold. It was quite magnificent and awe-inducing, even more so with its extravagant pulpit. The interior looked quite modern and bore a striking contrast to the church’s outer facade that looked more weathered and aged.

Flo and I made it all the way up the bell tower to the tower platform by foot. For a church standing at 132m, it was no mean feat. We burst through the final door to find a panoramic view of the city and its harbour laid out before us.

Pictures don’t do the reality of Hamburg justice.

We spent some time admiring the view all around before we decided to carry on towards Landungsbrücken. And no, we didn’t walk down. After our hard work climbing up the stairs, we decided to treat ourselves to the lift which took all of 20 seconds to take us back to ground level!

We treated ourselves to some Fritz-kola that’s Flo’s favourite drink. It’s a little like Coca-cola but not.

Then one station by train to get to Langdungsbrücken which is basically the docklands.

As recommended by Jens, we walked towards Dock 10 – it’s the last one so we were almost wondering whether there really was a Dock 10. There was.

And it was here that we ordered the Fischbrötchen. And Oh. My. Goodness.

Never. 

Ever!

Come to Hamburg and miss out on their fischbrötchen.

We ordered the Krabbenbrötchen and the Bismarck Herring Brötchen. And let me tell you: If I could have these every day for the rest of my life, I’d die very happy. #truestory

The Krabbenbrötchen is a light, crusty, fluffy roll spread thinly with remoulade and packed tight with small, hand-peeled brown shrimp. This was sweet and briney. Perfect with that little bit of creaminess from the spread.

I thought that this would be my favourite but then I bit into the Bismarck Herring Brötchen and I was blown away. I have never been so stunned at tasting incredible food until… this!

All it was was a slab of pickled herring, raw onions and brötchen, and it was perfection in my mouth. The salty tartness of the herring against the spicy, sweet, slightly bitter raw onions and the light crunch from the roll. I was in heaven.

I often try to fend off carbs like my life depends on it, but I would eat this any day. Every day. Even at the risk of my breath smelling of onions and my BO smelling of fish indefinitely. While I enjoyed a whole lot of other foods and fischbrötchens the rest of my stay in Hamburg, nothing else came close to stealing my heart away from the bismarck herring.

After an immensely satisfying meal? snack? We decided to walk over to St. Pauli even though the skies were threatening to pour. St. Pauli is known to be more active at night and it was quite obvious just walking through it in daylight that it’s a little bit of a rough area.

The above, my dear friends, is where women are not allowed to enter. And men under the age of 18. I asked Flo, as well as a few other of his German friends what happened if a woman happened to wander in accidentally. They laughed and joked that she might never get out.

But on our last day in Hamburg, Flo’s Mum told us that in her rebel days, she went in on a dare. Basically, it’s a street with women on ‘display’ – some naked, some in sexy lingerie… And then some dude told her she had to leave so she left. That was it.

Flo then showed me Reeperbahn which had sex shops every few steps we took. Some looked quite raunchy and crass but we actually found one that actually looked quite classy. We decided to have a poke around and while some of their gadgets were a little out there, there were some cute, naughty items – mainly edible sweets in cheeky shapes. Did we get anything from the shop? Hmm.. My lips are sealed.

From the entertainment district of Hamburg, we bus-ed towards Elbstrand. It was quite a walk to get to the sand beach, almost like finding a hidden gem. We passed by numerous beautiful beach front homes before finally seeing soft, dusty sand.

And then we took a chill pill. Facing the beach were the docks. And I could appreciate how Hamburg has managed to integrate their at docks seamlessly into city life, unlike Singapore where the docklands are kind of located at the far ends of the island, almost out of sight.

There was a little beach bar called StrandPerle where we planted our bums on and watched bare-bodied kiddies roll in the sand. Which is another observation I picked up from in Europe. European children are happy to frolic in the sand and get grit up their bums while their parents watch on, allowing them to run free as long as they are within their view whereas Asian parents tend to prefer their kids to keep their clothes/swimwear on, while fussing over them, trying to keep sand out of their shoes and trying to make them sit still to build sandcastles.

We spent a good couple hours by the beach before walking further down to catch a ferry back to the main city. There, we trained and walked over to our dinner venue, Ono by Steffen Henssler. We were about an hour early but managed to while away half of that time at a nearby cafe. Then, we went to Ono where they readily obliged to giving us a table while we waited another half hour of Jens and Leslie to arrive.

We decided to go Asian and dine communally. So we ordered two appetisers, two rolls (since Ono is known for their fusion-Japanese rolls), nigiri, and the sashimi platter.

We started with a Sea Bass Ceviche with Avocado Cream and some kind of shiitake mushrooms stock if I remember correctly. This was quite off-balance and too sweet to begin with. Not something I’d order again.

The second appetiser though…

Fared so much better! Beef Tataki with Truffle, Edamame and these delightful crisps on the side. The beef was cooked just so, such that it remained tender and the truffle was strong enough yet managed not to overpower the overall dish.

It took a good hour before the rest of our food came which didn’t quite impress us. Also, they forgot my green tea and we had to remind them which is a big no-no for an establishment so highly rated as this one.

The sashimi was fresh – Tuna, Salmon and Sea Bass. Nothing impressive. Nothing bad. Just good, clean fish on the rocks.

The Unagi Nigiri as well was decently executed.

While the Special Rolls we ordered were a hit and miss.

The Italian-style Tuna Roll was a little meh. It was topped with capers and sun-dried tomatoes to give a sweet and salty finish that overwhelmed the tuna. Again, it wasn’t as good as it sounded on paper.

The Surf & Turf Roll however, had us nodding our heads in approval. Snow crab, avocado and cucumber covered in sushi rice, with a slice of beef on top and truffle ponzu foam butter to finish. This was a standout and possibly our favourite item for dinner, with the beef tataki a close second.

Flo was still a bit peckish after the food so we went ahead and ordered dessert. Jens and Leslie had the ‘Magnum’ Ice-Cream while we shared the Chocolate Mousse/Sweet Potato /Parsley.  Let’s just say that while the mousse was well-executed, light and airy, somehow, it just didn’t go with the sweet potato puree and parsley gel. The crumbs were good though.. Just because you really can’t go far wrong with crumbles.

We were quite disappointed overall by the food and service, especially the service. If service was on point, I think we could have forgiven the sub-par food. Perhaps we set our expectations a bit too high. I think Flo and I have been spoilt by the Japanese restaurants here in Singapore where prices are far more affordable and the quality is generally above average, which is why we felt that Ono was punching too high above their belt in terms of pricing vs standard of food.

Still, we had an enjoyable evening with Jens and Leslie – I think that that was the most important part! It was an amazing day out in Hamburg for me and only writing this post do I realise now just how much we managed to pack into the day. I loved seeing all the sights, especially the areas that Flo used to work at, the food places he used to visit during lunch hours, and Hamburg University where he did his degree in, as well as the auditorium he sat in for his final exam. I could almost picture him going about his day during his years in Hamburg. And that, really, made the day that extra bit more special!

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Took one of my longest flights ever – 13 hours to London, then a 2 hour layover before a 1.5 hour flight to Hamburg. All to meet my dear Flo!!

I got off really hungry because I’d eaten dinner before my red-eye flight and when they served food at around 1am SG time, I simply couldn’t stomach any. Then breakfast was a sad, dry omelette with a small lump of spinach and half a grilled tomato. I hardly touched it. Boo!

Oh! Quick side story. So when I arrived in Hamburg, I had to go through the international passport lane and met with a burly German immigration officer. As I walked towards him, he looked so serious that I felt quite intimidated thinking Oh Lord! Is he going to give me trouble? Instead, he ended up being quite a nice guy asking me why I was there and saying that a week in Hamburg’s too short. I told him I was there because my boyfriend was here (And that yes, he’s German) and that I’ll be back. 

Thennnn… Walking to the luggage belt to claim my bag (which came second in line!!), I was stopped by this guy who said he’d noticed me back in London but wasn’t sure where I was heading. He said that he just wanted to tell me that he thought I looked beautiful and I was like awww.. thanks! Then he invited me for drinks that night which is when it got a bit awkward because right at that moment, the doors leading out to the public waiting area swung open and there was Flo and Naima waving at me. Lol. I told the guy that I was going to pick up my bag and meet my boyfriend. He got the message very quickly and bid me a quick goodbye. Still, props to him for having the courage to come talk to me. 

Now, back to being hungry…

After hugs and kisses, I told Flo I was super hungry and it being Germany, there were quite a few bakeries we could go to within the airport to grab something. I decided to go for a simple yoghurt cup with muesli and fresh fruit. While we were queueing up to pay, I saw these!!:

They were selling giant balls of chocolate with bread rolls called Klatschbrötchen! I think they were what Londoners call Chocolate Marshmallow Tea CakesA thin outer covering of Dark Chocolate encasing Marshmallows And a thin Biscuit Base. I think what the Germans do is they then warm them up with the buns and eat them.

We then went off to where Flo and I were putting up for the week – his friends’ Jens and Leslie’s apartment. After a short rest, Flo, Naima and I traipsed over to the community gardens that Flo says is quite typical in Germany.


There were lots of dandelions!! Love love love. And the weather was gorgeous – refreshing cool air with lots of sunshine.

The community gardens are plots of land that people can rent out to do gardening – especially for those who may live in apartments and not have access to their own. Each plot of land is rented for a period of time and can be extended, and they also have their own shed/small house that can be done up and lived in for a few days – a little like a summer house I suppose.

Hello from us!


It’s apparent how much the Germans love their gardens and so many of them were tended to beautifully. I enjoyed looking at the flowers that cannot be found so easily here. And of course, there were some gardens filled with interesting paraphernalia. Also, there were some large open spaces here and there where people are able to walk their dogs.


Only a few hours together and already he was ‘bullying’ me.

Naima had a plane to catch the same afternoon so we only had a few hours together. I realise just now as I type that we didn’t take a photo together. On the bright side, we have yet-to-be-concretised plans to meet in Thailand end of the year so I hope that works out!

Flo dropped her off at one of the stations where we also bought some lunch to eat in the car while driving to Lars’ home which is a little out of Hamburg.

Flo introduced me to the Franzbrötchen which is usually more a breakfast bread. It’s really more like a danish but more dense, less flakey, and flavoured with cinnamon sugar although they also have other ones with fruit compote or chocolate.

I think the Cinnamon Sugar Franzbrötchen was really good and not too sweet. Not something I’d have for lunch but maybe for two breakfasts – yes, I thought it was quite hefty to finish off in one sitting. I say that when in fact, I had half of it with Flo, and we also shared this Mixed Grain Brötchen with Pesto, Mozzarella, Fresh Tomatoes, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Salad Leaves.

So simple but so fresh and delicious!!

Omnomnom. Definitely going to make this at home!

It took about an hour and a half to reach Lars’ place. Lars is one of Flo’s bestest friends, and his son, Freddy, also happens to be Flo’s god-son. I was quite excited to be meeting Lars and his young family but also apprehensive. I think I was pretty nervous to meet all his family and friends over the course of this trip simply because Flo means a lot to me and obviously I wanted to make a good impression.

Below is a photo of us going through the Elbe Tunnel.


Please excuse the really dirty windscreen. I took this picture because Flo’s maternal grandfather was an engineer back in the day and contributed to the building of this tunnel which lies 24m underwater. It was built to connect central Hamburg to the docks and shipyards that lie on the Southern side of the Elbe River. Pretty awesome huh?!

And this picture I think is super sweet – Flo helping Freddy put his shoes on for us to go for a walk. He wasn’t too happy having to leave his Running Bicycle behind but after a couple packets of gummy bears and a trip to the playground, he more or less had it out of mind.

The area that Lars lives in is really quaint with a pretty nice town centre. The place is related to this German tale about a Hare and a Hedgehog so there are a lot of artefacts of hares and hedgehogs around. It’s quite an interesting story but also pretty long. Essentially it’s about how the hedgehog outsmarted the hare and how no matter how quick-witted you think you might be, you should never look down on anyone because they might be smarter than you assume them to be.

There was also this small little courtyard that had a Gelateria where families kept coming and going to buy their ice-creams and carry on with their day. There were also some elderly folk who were happily indulging in their sundaes. I found this quite amusing because in Singapore, the older generation seldom eat ice-cream, preferring traditional Asian hot desserts, or Ice Kachang on a hot day.

We met up with Lars’ wife, Regina, and their 8-month old baby Jonathan who’s so precious! He seems to be quite an easy baby and it was funny because during dinner, he suddenly gave me this death stare, almost like he wanted to kill me and I was a little shocked. I tried to do a silly face but he just continued staring at me. Then suddenly, his face turned red and Flo and I knew…

We knew he’d done the deed. 

And sure enough, moments later when Lars lifted him up to check on his diaper, he went ‘Oof!’ and little Jonathan started grinning away. Totally made Flo and I break into laughter.

We had dinner at the Bürgerhaus which is very much like a pub. Portions were huge!! I was a little jet lagged so I thought to go for something lighter. In this case, the Scampi Salad.

They gave ample salad that I could hardly make a dent into before filling up. The scampi aka prawns were grilled to have a subtle smokiness that I enjoyed.

We parted ways after dinner because the kiddies had to be put to bed. It was already past their bedtime so Freddy was starting to get a bit cranky. I enjoyed meeting Lars and Freddie, Regina and Jonathan. Thankfully most Germans speak pretty good English but I did feel it a bit not being able to speak German especially with Freddy. So it made it a little difficult to play with him the way I would have liked to.

Note to self: Look up German Language Classes in Singapore. 

Flo and I stopped by the supermarkets to pick up a few bits and pieces for our breakfast next morning and I spotted 1l bottles of Coke Zero! I’ve never seen 1l bottles of drink in Asia. Usually they go from 500ml and jump to 1.5l.

We also found Coke Zero Cherry. Tried it and it wasn’t too bad although the cherry flavour did taste a touch artificial.


But hey! In a country famous for their Blackforest cakes, it’s no wonder they have cherry cola too! 🙂

It was a wonderful first day in Hamburg and I was really blessed with great weather. Also, it being the cusp of summer meant long hours of daylight which helped me stay awake longer. We returned home to Jens and Leslie whom we spent a couple of hours talking with before turning in. Was quite smashed and fell asleep soon after hitting the mattress. Still, I woke up really early because the sun rose at like, 5am. Then I went to sleep some more because that’s what I do – I wake up early and fall back asleep until I’m really awake. Which is just as well because our plan for Tuesday was to make footprints around Hamburg city.

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… And almond cake.

But before I get into the nitty gritties of my latest kitchen experiment, I had the privilege of baking Kim’s birthday cake albeit a little early since I’ll be away on her actual birthday.

She requested an Apple Walnut Cake with Peanut Butter Cream but as she’s pregnant and currently having to watch her sugar intake, I made this with 60-40 Coconut Sugar to Caster Sugar ratio, and refrained from adding sugar into the cream since peanut butter already has some of its own. I did drizzle more plain, melted peanut butter on top since peanut butter is love and who doesn’t want more of it?!

Kim’s special in that she was the one who recommended Dr. A to me. She’s a real inspiration to me and is someone I love and admire. Kim and her husband are both outstanding people not just in their accomplishments, but also in character. I know that both of them have gone through challenges in their lives, individually and as a couple, but God is faithful and they are now being blessed with a soon-to-be-born daughter whom I cannot wait to meet!

Now, this is actually a scheduled post and right now, I’m probably biting into a Currywurst and walking around Planten um Blomen in Hamburg with Flo. I’ll definitely be writing about my virgin trip to Hamburg as well as my 3484239th trip to London (first trip there with Flo though!) when I get back. In the meantime, I wanted to share this Date and Almond Cake recipe with you.

The Muslims are about to begin their fasting month and it is often the case that they break fast by eating dates. I have never fasted for religious purposes before, and I won’t even try to compare my ED days of extensive restriction to what my Muslim friends go through annually. I respect their steadfast dedication to their beliefs so what better than to demonstrate that than by baking a cake using dates!

Also… I just wanted to bake something different.

The beauty of this cake is that you get crunch from the almond nibs, a bit of chew from the dates, a hint of spice from the cinnamon, all smacked in the middle and on top of fluffy, vanilla cake!

Date and Almond Cake (Yields 1 8″ Round)

150g Finely Chopped Dates (I find it easier to cut them using a pair of scissors)
100g Almond Nibs
90g Brown Sugar
5g Cinnamon Powder

250g Butter
180g Caster Sugar
Vanilla Extract
3 Eggs
290g Plain Flour
7.5g Baking Powder
125g Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 170deg C and line an 8″ round baking tin. 
  2. For the filling and the topping, mix dates, almond nibs, brown sugar and cinnamon powder together and set aside. 
  3. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Then add in vanilla and eggs one at a time. 
  4. Add dry ingredients and milk alternately, starting and ending with the dry mixture. 
  5. Pour half the batter into prepared tin, then sprinkle half the date and almond mixture on top. Pour the second half of the batter on top to cover, before topping with the rest of date and almond mixture. Gently press the mixture down into the cake batter so that they ‘stick’. 
  6. Bake for 75min. If the top starts to brown too much, cover with foil for the last 15min. 
  7. Allow to cool before removing from tin. 

This cake is perfect for sharing amongst friends and family. Have it as it is, or if you’re feeling indulgent, drizzle some salted caramel sauce or honey on top. This cake has so many different textures and flavours that work incredibly well with each other. Definitely stick to the dates but if almonds aren’t your thing, switch to walnuts or pecan nuts. Not into cinnamon? Try ginger or cardamom!

Chances are, this cake isn’t going to last you through to when I return from my little Eurotrip. I’ll be back though so don’t you forget me!

And a quick update:

I saw Dr. A one more time last Monday because I wanted to get a little ‘booster shot’ before leaving for Europe. After a couple good weeks, ED is trying to hit on me again which is expected since that’s what bullies do. I’m anxious about how meals will be while I’m away but apparently, our body reacts to fear and excitement in exactly the same way. The only difference is how we perceive the situation. In other words, I may actually be excited about the different foods I’ll get to try especially in Hamburg – tasting things that Flo grew up with. Will I fall in love with them? We’ll just have to wait and see…

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Food challenges are part and parcel of ED recovery, although there are other factors that may contribute to the ED and need to be dealt with concurrently.

My appointment with Dr. A last week went well and it was quite a light-hearted session. I shared with her about how I think that things are going well for me and how I feel better equipped mentally to handle food situations most of the time. I also shared with her about how reframing my negative feelings have helped me to feel more in control of my emotions, as well as my own well being.

I am becoming increasingly aware of how my body has changed over the last few months. Pictures that I used to think looked ‘chubby’ now make me cringe a little at how emaciated I actually looked, how tired, lifeless. And current pictures are sometimes a touch bit challenging to look at even though I have to admit that they look a lot healthier and I am a lot happier. Learning to accept my body is a work in progress, but so far, I’m not hating it.

One of the things Dr. A asked me during our session was how I think I’m doing on a scale of 1 to 10 with regards to recovery. I told her that I think I’m a 7. I’m handling my fear of carbs a lot better and I always try to incorporate some carbs when I make dinner for Flo and I. I’m able to consume carbs as part of my lunch meal even when dining alone – which is often the case on weekdays, and every week I try to push myself a little harder by incorporating something more into that meal.


I still find it difficult when facing a variety of food choices and usually opt for slightly safer options when at the hawker centre. For example, I go for soupier dishes and while some are much nicer in a soup form, other dishes taste better when eaten dry. Like wanton mee (wanton noodles). The other day when Flo had his wanton mee dry, I went for the soup version. Truth be told, I hadn’t had wanton mee for so long and never in my life before ED had I ordered wanton mee soup before. So yeah, the soup version was a little bland and not very exciting at all. Also, I guess I would struggle to bring myself to the hawker centre or food court if not for Flo, preferring instead to prepare something at home.

Dr. A then posed a challenge to me. Her challenge was to have a plate of dry wanton mee, and finish it all by myself before our next session. If I wanted to, I could try it alone, or I could have it with Flo.

Was I up for it? She asked.

Immediately, I could feel my brain whizz in panic – OMG! Calories. Carbs. Fat. They put lard in the noodles don’t they? All that sauce to mix into the noodles. Can I do it? Should I do it?

And then I took a deep breath and thought about all the big meals I’ve had that’s sure to put a little plate of wanton mee to shame – in particular, that Omakase meal. I decided that it was just ED instilling fear in me, when in reality, I have faced much greater food challenges before and managed to overcome them.

So Sunday lunch time, we met Amanda and Alex for lunch at Haig Road Food Centre before our Diablo 3 Marathon. I did queue up for my plate of wanton mee. For a good 15-20min. Wedged tight between two old aunties – one who liked her bum rubbing against me, and the other who liked her belly resting against my back.

I did order my plate of wanton mee – $3.

And…

I did finish my plate of wanton mee.

I did enjoy it but after seeing and tasting a little of Flo’s wanton mee that he ordered for the other stall he’s been eager to try but has never been open every single time we went until this last Sunday… I think his plate of noodles tasted that little bit yummier. The grass is always greener on the other side it seems.

Whatever the case, I made it through the plate of noodles and am none the worse for wear because of it. Life is still going on and I don’t think I’ve gained one-ton from the won-ton. Get it get it??? Hurhur..

In other news, we had Mum and Dad over Saturday evening for dinner. Flo cooked the German Bratwurst we bought from Huber’s which turned out nice, porky, and very juicy.

Alongside, we had a bit of cheese and cold cuts, as well as the lobster I managed to get at 50% off!! I get so happy when I find good stuff on special. Of course, it was a little lobster, and getting it out of its shell was my only contribution to dinner. Still, it was done meticulously and with a whole lot of love.

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