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11 posts from July 2007

Apricot Riesling Ginger Compote (with yogurt)


What a relief to have yogurt and apricot ginger compote in the fridge when David's James unexpectedly came for supper. Apricots tend to come in 500-gram punnets but my apricot tart takes about 750 grams, so the remaining 250 g hang about until transfigured into compote. Water, lemon juice and sugar are enough to make something delicious, but Riesling and a few ginger chunks lift the recipe into one worth sharing.

Apricot ginger compote (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

Pit your apricots and slice each half into four pieces. (I didn't bother with peeling the fruit, and didn't regret it.) Peel an inch or so of ginger root and chop it into a few chunks.

Check how many cups of fruit you have. For each cup of fruit, stir together 2/3 C sugar and 2 T Riesling in a pan and add the ginger chunks but not the apricots. Cook this fragrant mixture for 10 minutes, then add the apricots. Simmer gently until the fruit is tender and glassy. Use a slotted spoon to remove the fruit into jars*, then continue to boil the sugar/wine/ginger syrup until it's thick enough for your taste. (Mine was still quite liquid when I stopped but that was fine with me.)

Fish out the ginger chunks, then pour the syrup over the fruit. You'll probably end up with more syrup than can be fit into the compote jars; I bottled this and have used it as ginger apricot cordial to be added to lemonade in place of sugar syrup or to sparkling water, to be poured over pancakes, etc.

And to make my nonce dessert, just spoon a bit of syrup into small bowls, top generously with plain whole-milk yogurt, then add fruit on top and garnish with a sprig of mint (whose taste and colour is the perfect foil).

*My jars were fresh from the dishwasher and I knew I would store the compote in the refrigerator, so didn't bother with extensive sterilization, but check out these BBC tips if needed.

Organic Porcini Brie from Thuringia (Thüringer Steinpilz-Brie)


Alas, the weather's turned wintry again, and a creamy porcini-studded brie on little crackers is just the snack to nibble at while putting together a plum tart. I heartily recommend a wedge from Clemens Santüns' stand at the Helmholtzplatz market.


Chamber music evenings at the Piano Salon Christophori


Isn't it heavenly, isn't it reassuring to know your city will go on delighting you? Last fall we discovered the piano repair shop's informal chamber music concerts in the best way - walking by - and most recently enjoyed evenings with stellar Israeli baritone Amit Friedmann and British pianist Beatrice Nicholas. Christoph Schreiber, the neurologist-turned-piano-restorer who runs the place, is the most delightful master of ceremonies, and I can't wait for the two concerts in August before the summer break. Arrive early to secure a good seat and to watch Christoph and his colleague race to put the piano together (no, this isn't a fixed part of the program).

Piano Salon Christophori, Senefelderstr. 30A (map)
Concerts usually begin at 20.30. No tickets are needed: Payment for the music, wine and water is done on a voluntary basis at the end. (When you see how wonderful it all is, you'll be moved to generosity too.)


Amit Friedmann singing Schumann Lieder


During intermission

An embarrassment of plums, or Zwetschgen in season


When I can buy such a quantity of plums for such a pittance (28 plums for 77 cents!) I know it's time to get baking... Tortes, tarts and dumplings to follow!

Fresh mint tea


I can't tell you how deeply, profoundly happy my balcony herb garden makes me; fresh mint tea of an afternoon is one especial pleasure.

Hazelwood (Summer season)


A sudden rain struck as we were walking to the Prater, and when we arrived it was forlorn, largely abandoned, and we paused, fazed to realize we would have to depart from our Sunday evening tradition. But I hadn't been to Hazelwood for ages, since the winter, really, and wondered how it fared in the summer, and felt its menu might be analogue to Prater's: picnic food, if you will.

We were fazed again to see that menu had altered -- pleasing diner standards such as the delectable grilled cheese had disappeared -- but when I ordered the cheeseburger I was happy to see that the rolls were still there, if less crisp. Leafing through the Guaridan Weekly, Die Zeit's Leben magazine and a Christmas edition of British Vogue, we nevertheless were content.

Hazelwood, Choriner Str. 72 (map)
Open T-Fri from 6 pm, Sat-Sun from 10 am
Update 2008: Closed!

Small green apples


If you read this tomorrow, then go to Ostkost on Lychener Strasse and buy a few of these little green apples. There's no way you'll know from the photo, indeed they look rebarbatively tiny and green, instinctively you assume them to be hard, but as my hand paused over the crate of Red Delicious I realized the scent was coming from somewhere lower, and looked down to find these a shelf below, and really, the perfume, it's just incredible.

Ostkost, Lychener Str. 54 (map)
Open M-F 8-20, Sa 8-16