Eating Printen in Aachen or Aachen-e believe it’s Printen

You have the perfect excuse to visit the bakers and get treats while you’re in Aachen.  Printen is a type of gingerbread that is only made in the German City, so, your one chance to try it is while you’re there (unless you want to order it online). Plus you can have a well deserved break from all that walking around the Cathedral. 

There are plenty of bakers to choose from… each have their own shop fronts so you can buy some to take home, or cafes so you can enjoy some straight away with a cuppa.  Or hell, why not do both!

 

Aachen Printen

 

So what is Printen I hear you ask…

Chocolate Printen

A kind of Lebkuchen (traditional German Christmas treat) but Printen has a very rich and special history.  The term is a protected designation of origin and so all manufacturers can be found in or near Aachen. It’s a bit like Champagne only coming from one region in France, except sweeter!

OK, here is the history bit – Printen isn’t actually German, but started life in Dinant, a beautiful town on the River Meuse in Belgium.  People emigrating from Dinant to Aachen brought it with them in the 15th century, and apart from the sweetener being changed to sugar beet when Napoleon’s trade embargo meant sugar was unavailable, it is pretty much the same as is was in the Middle Ages, so really its like you’re eating a piece of history!

 

Nobis Printen Aachen

 

But does it taste any good…

The taste is unique, it’s almost like a soft, thin gingerbread cake.  It generally comes either glazed, or covered in chocolate or indeed covered in chocolate and nuts. We got ours from Nobis and went with one of their selection tins, so we could try different varieties. (€11 for 13 pieces)

Both Phil and I had the same favourite… covered in white chocolate with hazelnuts.  I personally think this is because the sweetness of the Printen, contrasted perfectly with the nut topping. Also the chocolate was really creamy, which is always going to give it extra taste points.

 

Nobis Printen Tin

Nobis Printen

 

Baking Banana Muffins

I finally found the right recipe to start my baking journey. The fabulous Maxine from Why I Am Not Skinny put up a post about the Best Ever Banana Muffin Recipe which sounded amazing and looked rather simple, so I gave it a go.

To start with I was really impressed that the only ingredients I needed were:

  • 2 ripe banana’s
  • 2 eggs
  • 140g Butter
  • 140g Sugar
  • 140g Self-raising flour

When I buy cake (which was pretty often) there are always loads of ingredients on the back… it does make me wonder what the hell else they are putting in there.

 

Banana Muffin Ingredients

 

I followed Maxine’s instructions to the letter, except I used a food processor for the mixing and I didn’t have any baking powder, so I left it out, which means that my muffins don’t look as quite as big and fluffy as Maxine’s – Oh and I used some paper cases rather than greasing the muffin tin.

It was so simple, I was a little irritated with myself that I hadn’t been doing it for years. But then I calmed down and remembered that we all start from somewhere!

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180c
  • Put the butter in the food processor, add the sugar and give it a good wizz
  • Add the eggs and wizz it again
  • Add the flour and wizz away
  • Mash up your bananas then add them to the mixture and (guess what?) mix it all up again.
  • Make sure you use a spatula to remove any of the mix that gets stuck on the bowl and pop it back in for mixing properly.
  • Pop your paper cases into the muffin tin and then fill them with your cake mixture
  • Bake for 25 minutes (or until they go a little brown on top)
  • Let them cool for a few minutes – tuck in!

 

Banana Muffins

 

They were fruity, moist and delicious.  I have made them approximately 270,000 times since… in fact I buy bananas just to make them into muffins!

What was the first recipe you ever baked?

Aachen Cathedral

I am currently sat on my sofa, waiting for my nails to dry (yay ladies night out later!), listening to Paloma Faith’s new album, drinking earl grey with lavender tea and planning my trip to Germany this weekend (multi-tasking queen that I am) when I realised, I haven’t actually posted about my last trip to Germany yet – so here you go!

Aachen has been on my list of places to visit, pretty much since we arrived in Brussels, I’ve heard wonderful things about the cathedral and as I had family coming to stay for the weekend (who had never been to Germany before) I thought it was the perfect time to pay it a visit.

Like most cities, Aachen is a mix of the old and new. One minute you’re looking at the usual shops on the high street, the next you’re standing in front of the gorgeous City Hall that was built in 1330. The whole place has a lovely relaxed feel to it and whilst I was walking around, it was the little details that I noticed most.

 

Aachen

Aachen

Aachen

Aachen

 

It wasn’t long until we found ourselves at the Cathedral (it is rather huge, so you can’t really miss it). Charlemagne had it built back in 796 AD, his remains are still there. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen

 

The inside of Aachen Cathedral is beautiful. The ceilings in particular are really very special. There is also the turquoise colour from some of the stained glass windows, that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about ever since.

 

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

Aachen Cathedral

It is free to enter Aachen Cathedral, but they do ask for a donation if you will be taking pictures, which seems fair enough!

A Taste of Molecules

I’m back in Brussels, armed with lots of pictures of my gorgeous nephew Mitchell and bags of shopping (books, toiletries, gravy and hot cross buns – in case you’re interested) so, I thought now would be the perfect time to quickly tell you about a book launch that I went to last week.

I met Diane Fresquez at the first Brussels Food Friends event and was looking forward to finding out more about her new book A Taste of Molecules.  It seems I wasn’t the only one, as it was very busy at The Press Club when my friend Eva and I arrived.

I was able to have a quick catch up with some new food blogger friends, while singer Richard Craddock kept us entertained with songs related to food and science.

 A Taste of Molecules Musa Lova

 

This was the night that I fell in love with banana liqueur from Musa Lova.  The banana and coffee one, was like a mixture of Amarula and Coffee Bailey’s,  both creamy and refreshing at the same time (with a hit of caffeine), something that I think I’ll be drinking a lot more of!  It had never occurred to me that you can actually use this kind of liqueur in recipes, but they had used it in a Sabayon that was absolutely to die for.

 

A Taste of Molecules Launch

 

I’ll leave you with this; according to Musa Lova there are over 1000 types of banana in the world!

 

The Day I NEARLY Walked on Water

Hello from England (again!), this is a really short notice and super quick visit to see my nephew!  I was going to do a big build up ready for his birth… he was due on 2nd May, but the little dude was not waiting that long and instead was born two days ago on 6th April. So congratulations Mark, Caroline and Niece Ella!

Right back to the task at hand.  I saw this image on Pinterest and was very excited. Just imagine a bridge like that – it’s almost like walking on water! I wanted to see it in the flesh!

 

 

The Moses Bridge or Loopgraafbrug (Trench Bridge) was built to access the Fort de Roovere.  (According to Wikipedia) The designers didn’t feel it appropriate to build a bridge over the fort’s moat, so instead, they decided to construct a partially submerged bridge, rendering it practically invisible.

The bridge has taken on the name “The Moses Bridge,” as it appears to have divided the moat’s waters. This design allows people to cross virtually undetected at water level: only a few bobbing heads are usually visible. Its construction is entirely of wood waterproofed with foil.

The area itself is very pretty, but I guess alarm bells should have been ringing when we arrived in the carpark… yep we were the only people there!

Moses Bridge Car Park

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

 

There were a few boards around giving the history of the fort, which I’m sure was very interesting, but was in Dutch, so I couldn’t understand any of the writing.  There were also a couple of maps, which I think was more relevant to those that were walking around the fort.  This wasn’t applicable to me, obviously.  Finding the bridge was pretty simple, you just followed the path ahead…

 

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

 

I feel that now is the perfect time to explain what I mean when I say ‘hike lite’… there were three different routes available to us, to reach the top of the mound.  I took pictures of each and I have them put them together below, visual aid style.   To the left you will see an example of a hiking type route, the middle picture shows you a path, for walking and the picture on the right (like Goldilocks and her porridge) is the hike lite option.  Slightly more challenging than a walk, but doesn’t require any special hiking equipment.   Now that we have that cleared up… did I mention there is a cannon!

What is Hike Lite

Moses Bridge Cannon

 

There were two very unhappy wasps in that cannon, hence the very strained smile – I really wanted to get away from there!

And so, I was ready to cross the moat, to walk on water using the fabulous Moses Bridge.

 

Moses Bridge

 

Or not as the case may be, it seems that while the design is fantastic, there is just the one all-important flaw. If it rains, the water in the moat rises and will seep into the bridge, making it, well, useless.   No fort for me today then!

Look between the two sets of stairs and you can just see the bridge under the water. Nevermind, we goofed about taking some pictures, then headed to the pub.

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

Moses Bridge

 

I shall go back again when it hasn’t been raining and see if I can manage to part the seas and walk on water!

This isn’t the easiest place to find and I found that the address all the websites were giving me wasn’t actually near the bridge at all… so I used the address of a house just near to the carpark… head towards this and you should be able to find it easily. Schansbaan 8, 4661 PN, Halsteren, The Netherlands.

Meatless Monday: Cheesy Leeks

I’ve got a gem of a Meatless Monday recipe for you today… courtesy of my lovely friend Wil, who made it during my trip to Nottingham.  This is cheesy, comforting, full of vegetables (and therefore very nutritious) and quite frankly delicious.

This was my first time trying Mace (that I know of anyway). Mace comes from the Nutmeg Tree, it isn’t as sweet as Cheesy Leeksnutmeg and has a stronger colour. I really liked it and am going to pick some up as soon as I can.

So, Cheesy Leeks… To serve four you’ll need:

  • Medium Head of Broccoli – cut into small florets
  • Four medium leeks – chopped into small pieces
  • 250g breadcrumbs
  • 100g cheddar cheese – grated
  • 430ml milk
  • 40g butter
  • 20g plain flour
  • Olive Oil
  • Pinch of Mace
  • Black pepper
  • few bay leaves
  1. Start by bringing the broccoli to a boil in a pan of water until it is al dente. Pre-heat your oven to 200c
  2. While the broccoli is getting going, slowly fry the leeks up in some olive oil.
  3. While the veg is cooking, bring the milk to the boil in a medium sized pan, add a sprinkle of mace, a couple of bay leaves and a good sprinkling of black pepper. 
  4. Add the butter to a pan and melt it over a low heat, once it has completely melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the flour. Then slowly stir in the milk, whisking constantly. Once the lumps have all gone, add the cheese and whisk slowly, until you have a sauce.
  5. By now your broccoli and leeks should be cooked, so add them to an oven dish. Then pour on the cheese sauce.
  6. Now add the breadcrumbs and pop it in the oven at 200 for 15 ish minutes (once it goes golden on top you’re good to go).

Cheesy Leeks

 

Wil served ours with mashed potato, peas and gravy – it was delicious ! I may or may not have had seconds ;-)

Thanks for the lovely dinner Wil!

So what do you think… is this something you’ll try?

An Ode To The British Sunday Roast Dinner…

I talk a lot about roast dinners. That is because I like them. I like them a lot. I probably didn’t realise just how much, until it became hard to get them… the phrase you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone comes to mind.

The Sunday Roast is a British tradition that dates back to medieval times, when the village serfs served the squire for six days a week. Then on the Sunday, after the morning church service, serfs would assemble in a field and practice their battle techniques and were rewarded with a feast of oxen roasted on a spit.

Luckily things have moved on a little since then and rather than oxen, the meat is usually beef, chicken, lamb or pork. Then you have potatoes, preferably roasted, but otherwise boiled or mashed will do. Yorkshire Puddings (although traditionally only served with beef) and stuffing as well as a selection of vegetables fill up the rest of the plate with the gravy going on top.

But the true beauty of a roast dinner lies in the anticipation of its arrival.  Putting roast meat together with potatoes and vegetables doesn’t sound that great or different, but the combination of them all on a Sunday lunchtime (usually surrounded by family or friends) is enough to make the day special.

As there are so many different components to a roast, they can be a real pain in the bum to cook and even if you’ve gotten it down to a fine art, it still takes ages to do (especially all the washing-up afterwards).  Which is why so many pubs and restaurants offer a Sunday Roast option.

My favourite way of putting a roast together is to head out for a carvery.  This is almost like a roast dinner buffet, you go up to the counter and collect your plate, then choose your meat, which will be sliced right in front of your eyes, by the talented carvers. You then make your way along the food, stacking your plate high with whatever you want to go with it.

 

Toby Carvery Roast Dinner

Toby Carvery Roast Dinner

Toby Carvery Roast Dinner

 

Next is the most important bit as you make your way to the separate sauce table, to choose which gravy and condiments you’ll have with your meal.  As you make your way back to your table, your beer/cider will hopefully have arrived and you can settle down to plate full of awesome.

 

Toby Carvery Roast Dinner

Toby Carvery Roast Dinner

 

Your dinner will look something like this… It’s almost worth making a trip to the UK for!  

ps – matching Mother and Daughter chocolate orange ice-cream sundaes for dessert is optional – but delicious!

Chocolate Orange Sundae

Most Ancient European Towns Network

You’ll remember perhaps that I went on a little trip to Colchester… well, during my standard research before I go any place new, I discovered that Colchester is the oldest recorded town in England. Which is really cool.  But then I discovered that there is an actual network of the ten most ancient European towns.

oooh – challenge accepted, I want to visit the most ancient towns in Europe.  There seems to be very little about it online.  Apparently Argos came up with the idea of having a special network for the ten oldest towns.  I can’t find a website, but there is a Facebook page… although it only has six likes and one of those is me!

So what are the most ancient towns in Europe then, I hear you cry…

 

Ancient Argos Theatre Greece
By Ploync (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Argos in Greece, dates back to the bronze age… a whopping 1600BC, it is said that Perseus was born there.  It actually blows my mind, just what that town must have experienced and how it has changed.

Beziers Arena
By Ben Beasley and the Online Distributed. Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net (eBook of Musical Memories by Camille Saint, 1919) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Béziers in France, which dates back to 575BC. They have population figures that go back as far as 1793, when there were 12,501 people living in Beziers vs. 2008 when there were 71,672.  So probably a few more houses have been built since then!

Cádiz Cathedral
By Sedessapientiae (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Cádiz in Spain, was founded by the Phoenicians back in approximately 1200 BC.  Originally it was called Agadir and had ties to Hercules. 

Colchester Castle
By Andrew Walker (walker44) (Own work) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Colchester in the UK, was established by the Celts back in around 5 BC and was once the capital of Roman Britain. I’m not going to lie, as much as I enjoyed my mooch around Colchester, I didn’t see anything particularly ancient… but maybe I was just looking in the wrong places.

Old City Hall Cork
By File:CorkCity OldCityHall Stereo.jpg: National Library of Ireland on The Commonsderivative work: Guliolopez [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Cork, Ireland; Cork was originally a monastic settlement founded by Saint Finbarr in the 6th century AD.  Apparently Cork was once completely walled and parts of the walls remain there today. It boasts one of the worlds largest natural harbours, which is probably why Vikings once used it as a trading post.

Temple of Diana in Évora
By Georges Jansoone (Self-photographed) [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

Évora, in Portugal dates back to approximately 275 BC, originally called Ebora by the Celts, Because of the number of Roman ruins that still remain in Evora, the whole area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Maastricht
By Bodoklecksel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

There have actually been Neanderthal remains found just to the west of Maastricht in the Netherlands and it is said that Neanderthals existed in Europe as early as 600,000–350,000 years ago. The Celts then settled in Maastricht in 500 BC ad then of course the Romans came… 

Viking Ship Museum Roskilde
By Casiopeia (fotografiert von Casiopeia) [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de], via Wikimedia Commons

Roskilde in Denmark, dates back to the Viking Age – so we are looking at around 780 AD. It now boasts an impressive Viking Ship Museum, which I for one would very much like to see.

Roman Wall Tongeren
By Michel wal (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tongeren in Belgium goes back pre-Ceasar, around 250 BC, by the looks of it.  Conquered by the Roman’s (of course), a large part of the Roman City Walls still remain.

Worms

No one seems to know when the Celts were first in Worms, Germany (or Borbetomagus as it was called back then), but the Romans captured it in 14 BC.  Atilla the Hun joined forces with the Roman army in 436 AD and destroyed both the Burgundian army and most of Worms by the sounds of it. 

Most Ancient European Towns Map

 

So there you have it, they are the members of the most ancient towns of Europe network. I want to visit them all. I love just how varied (apart of everywhere being conquered by the Romans) Europe’s history is.   So far I’ve only visited Colchester, well I drove through Maastricht once and had a quick picnic, but I don’t think that counts.  So, I shall give the network it’s own page on VHE and update it whenever I have visited one of the towns.

What do you think?  Do you fancy exploring any of these?

Eating Cake with Brussels Foodies

Oh the eternal blogger conundrum; do I share the details of blogger meet-ups and conferences with my lovely readers, who may or may not be bloggers themselves and may or may not be interested…

I’ve mentioned before about Brussels Food Friends… which I was very excited to be involved with. We had our first meeting on Saturday.  If you are a food blogger and you want to read about #BxlFF, I’m going to send you to Why I Am Not Skinny and S Marks The Spots to find out more… both Maxine and Sandy have written excellent posts.

 

The Hotel Cube Cakes BXLFF

The Hotel Cube Cakes BXLFF

The Hotel Cube Cakes BXLFF

The Hotel Cube Cakes BXLFF

 

All I shall say is that I had a bloody good time at the event and that the Cube Cakes at The Hotel are AMAZING. Yes I put that in capitals and bold – that is just how good those cakes are.

I’m going to take Phil there soon, so that he can experience the full tea that The Hotel offers and I’ll shall do a full review then.

For now, you can enjoy these pictures – seriously it is like Cake Art!

 

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

The Hotel Cube Cakes Brussels

 

Brussels Food Friends has a website, facebook page and twitter account. The next event is 21st June.

 

 

Where Three Countries Meet…

Now that spring is here you should go and check out the Three Countries Point near Aachen.  As you can see I went on a cold, grey and foggy day in the winter (because I’m an idiot), but it was still beautiful – so just imagine how lovely it will look when the sun is shining!

Stand with your feet wide enough apart and you can be in Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands at the same time, which is pretty cool and makes for a great photo opportunity. Then take a ride up to the top of the viewing tower (€3.50) and enjoy looking at the views.

There is a nice bar/coffee shop in the park to relax in and some wonderful woodlands to walk around, should you be so inclined.  As you’d expect I went for coffee and sat by the fire rather than hiking.

 

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

Three Countries Point

 

 

So That Was March…

No new Country this month… but that’s OK, I had a quick visit to Germany then I spent two and half weeks catching up with friends and family in England. It was actually really relaxing and I got back to Brussels in time to see Phil strutting his stuff on stage in Come Home James Gurr and we had the first Brussels Food Friends event, which I’ll be writing about later this week…  but I’ll give you a hint it was fantastic.

With all the distractions over the month, I only finished two books (how rubbish is that!).

 

To be fair it took me a while to get through Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam.  Which is the beautifully written, but very disturbing story of David Lamb, a man in his 50′s,  who goes on a trip with an 11 year old girl he meets in a car park.  This isn’t what is written on the back of the book – I wouldn’t have picked it up if it had been.  That said, it was a great book. It is a little hard to explain – you’ll have to read it for yourself.

 

 

I also read the fourth book in the Promises To Keep series from Shayne Parkinson; Second Chance.  This entire series from Parkinson, has been excellent.  Second Chance continues the story of Amy and her family as they live their lives in 1890′s New Zealand. I feel like I know all the characters in the book personally, Parkinson’s ability to suck you into a story is incredible.

 

The three most popular posts in March were…

Hogwarts Harry Potter Experience

Kaja hu Budapest Grey Beef Burger Canapes

Coming up in April, I have an exciting collaboration with an excellent blogger that I just know you’re going to love. There is going to be a lot of cooking, details of my new project and at least one (if not two) new countries.

Theatre in Brussels: Come Home James Gurr

I got back from the UK last Sunday and quite frankly this week has been strange.  Since I’m not freelancing anymore, there has been a lot to catch up, but absolutely no structure and I’ve kind of lost track of days. Plus Phil was in a play and I hardly saw him – except for when he was dressed in a WWI army uniform and shouting on stage.

He has been rehearsing a couple of times a week since back in November, for the Irish Theatre Group’s new play Come Home James Gurr. So it was really exciting to see it all come together.

There is a really active ‘English speaking’ theatre scene in Brussels.  With England, Ireland and America et al having their own production companies as well as, light opera, Gilbert and Sullivan and Shakespeare.

I saw the play twice and both times it was excellent. Written and Directed by Patrick Maher, Come Homes James Gurr is about WWI and the underage boys from Ireland that would serve in the British Army. In this story, James Gurr is just 14 when signs up and ships out. As soon as his Mother finds out, she works tirelessly to bring him home from the front.

It is as emotional and heart-wrenching as you would imagine with Jennifer Baker doing a wonderful job as James’s Mum. The evil English recruiting Sargeant Albert Tone as also a particular favourite (and that’s not just because that was Phil!), he did a fantastic job of acting both cowardly and completely evil, which of course he isn’t at all like in real life.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures during the performances, but Peter Easton took some during the dress rehearsal, which I’ve added… if you are interested in English language theatre in Brussels – you should check out Theatre in Brussels which has all the listings and information that you need.

 

 

 

 

 

Well done Phil and the rest of the CHJG cast – you did a brilliant job!

Let’s see what next week has in store!

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