The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Around The World (again) San Francisco 28 Oct

Monday 28th October 2013

We had decided to spoil ourselves and have a real American Diner breakfast, Richard had pointed us in the direction of Castro and Market and here was a Pucker-Gen American Diner called Orphan Andy's.

It had the long bar with the bar stools, the fixed tables with bench seats and at each table was the ubiquitous juke box operating system. Fantastic, it brought back the Whimpy-bar era to me.

We got ourselves seated, straight away 2 mugs of coffee, 2 glasses of water and the menu, the nice waiter (I remember them as waitresses but I suppose we had hit on a one in Castro) came and took our order and was very patient and explained that yes they had pancakes but as theirs are cooked on a hot plate not in a pan they called them hotcakes (me redfaced stupido), we had ordered the whole wack, hotcakes, eggs, bacon and sausages.

Of course you are allowed as much coffee as you wish (in fact you have to tell them that you don’t want any more after the third mug). He was very helpful, we asked about the hop on hop off tour bus, out came one of those smart-phone thingies with apps (we have  dumb-phones with numbers)he told us that we needed to get the street car down to Fisherman’s Wharf and there was the start of the round tour.

 Just outside was the street car stop that took us all the way (I get senior citizen rates of 75cents) to the warf.

We got to Fisherman’s Wharf and enquired at the kiosk and as we had just missed a one we decided to have a look around pier 39, take some photos of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge (without fog)

 and the harbour Sea Lions that were basking in the morning sun on the decking that has been specially constructed for them. Interesting story, but they only started congregating there after the earthquake of 1989, they had at first tried to scare them away (they do pong a bit), but have now become such a tourist attraction that the city have decided that it is better to admit defeat and make their lives as comfortable as possible.


We then got on our Hop on Hop off all timber open topped tour bus, this is of course done with a running commentary, that explains the sights and each district as you pass through. The full tour takes about half a day (or longer if you decide to cross the bridge and go to Sausalito). It takes in the North Beach area (Little Italy), China Town (now that is what I call a China Town), the financial district of Union Square, Civic Center, Alamo Square (with some of the best “painted ladies in San Francisco), the tour busses no longer go through this district as the residents became sick of them and if you wish to visit and have a look you get off at Hayes street and walk down.

It was then on to Golden Gate Park, this had been our original destination as we wanted to visit the De Young Museum, we got off the bus and went to the entrance, guess what, Mondays it’s closed, I do wish I had one of those smart-phones with an app!

But all was not lost across the road is Californian Academy of Sciences, it was a wonderful experience with loads of hands on exhibits for the kids (I am just a big kid in reality), a rain forest section with free flying butterflies and rain forest birds. We met a very nice lady who explained all about them, she was originally from Wimbledon, but had emigrated many years ago, though she still had an English accent, a veritable fountain of information. You wind your way upwards from the forest floor and river with their monstrous fish, ever upward through the differing levels until you reach the canopy. It is truly amazing and is the next best thing to actually going to a rain forest (I have been to both the Amazonas and the Central American (Panama and Belize), the only thing missing is the actual Howler Monkey’s .

The aquarium is very well equipped and has lots of interesting exhibits as is the terrarium, spider collection (Linda didn’t think so). It also has an interesting shallow reef, with the local fish swimming around.

Prior to going into the rainforest we had been into the Planetarium and had a very interesting visual show on the causes and results of Earthquakes, this is a fantastic multi-media show projected onto the dome and you actually feel as if you are in the midst of the landscapes and earthquakes.

It was now getting on and we had a cup of coffee in a less than satisfactory restaurant (need to do better in there) and decided to head for home via a part of the park that would lead us to the street car. The Golden Gate Park has the last remaining Giant Redwoods standing in San Francisco. But it also has a multitude of other native and foreign flora. Another couple of street cars took us to the vicinity of 21st street (more by luck than good judgement) and we decided to have a meal before heading back to Delores. We had been to Valencia the last evening to the Mexican and on the way there I had noticed what looked like a reasonable Indian restaurant, both being fans of Indian food we decided that is what we would eat tonight. Linda sent a Text message to Richard asking if he fancied joining us but he had too much work on so declined.

The Amber Dhara restaurant on Valencia Street

This is a very nice restaurant with plenty of seating (as it was still early evening it was quite empty), it has a very nice cocktail bar and you can if the restaurant is full take a seat at the bar, have a drink and take in the atmosphere. We didn’t need to, we were at once asked where we would like to be seated and as is normal a carafe of water appears with the waiter and the menu. Everything is prepared on the premises so don’t expect take away service, order a drink and may be a few nibbles and enjoy the surrounds, the staff is very attentive without being overbearing, they are I would say 95% native Indian and know their job and the food that they serve. Questions informatively answered and information given in a pleasant manner.
We decided on two of the lamb dishes, Linda chose the Laal Maas a spicy lamb red chilly curry, I ordered the Banjara Gosht,  pieces of roast leg of lamb in a very nice almond paste, ginger and brown onion spiced sauce. We ate them with plain Basmati rice and a Tandoori bread basket, this consisted of some very interesting naans, rotis, green pea kultcha and lacha paratha. It was as normal a monster portion, but then it always is and no we didn’t want it wrapped to take home.

We both agreed that the meal was very fine, may be not better than a Bradford curry house, but certainly no worse than the best that Akbar has to offer.  So it got a very high ooh’s and aah’s rating from Linda, I don’t think we shall have time to revisit it but if we had more time it would certainly be visited again and again. A big Thumbs up from both of us, for well-prepared tasty food at reasonable prices (USA Prices), the service was efficient, friendly and not at all over bearing.
We then headed wearily back to Richard apartment, I to work on my blog and Linda to doze in front of the TV (would you believe it Dr Martin was on).

Around the World (Again) San Francisco 27 Oct

Sunday 27th October 2013

We had an early breakfast and set off to the farmers market at 10:00, the market is situated on UN Plaza, what is not generally recognised is that the UN founding charter was signed in San Francisco in 1945 and that the original 50 signatories signed it in the Veterans Memorial Hall at the rear of today’s City hall, an impressive building in the heart of the government district.

The market is a true farmers market with small farmers and producers from the surrounding areas selling their products, in the main vegetables, with smattering of other farm produce such as olive oil, eggs and herbs. There is also a fish stall but this seemed to be selling a lot of frozen or defrosted fish and shell fish.

The fruit and vegetables looked first class and they are not frightened to let you sample the goods, we only looked, though we did buy bread at the only bread stall.

We then crossed the road to have a good look at the City Hall (we shall be visiting to have good look inside of this wonderful building).

Richard then took us on a tour, first to Lombard street, Richard drove down but we got out at the top and walked down to where Richard was waiting for us. The reason why this road winds back and forth is that it was originally a droving track and because the hill is so steep in this area, the drovers trail needed to wind back and forth so the animals could get to the top.

After that we drove down to the waterfront and along to the Ferry Terminal Building at the foot of Market street, this is the main artery that dissects San Francisco, starting at Embarcadero, the palm lined waterfront boulevard and climbing straight as a die through the financial district until it meets Castro, it then winds its way up the steep hills sides.

Richard had some marking and prep for his classes so he headed off and we headed into the Ferry terminal building, this was one of the buildings not destroyed in the Earthquakes of either 1906 or 1989, I remember visiting it back in 1975 and it was then used mainly as a ferry terminal building, now it is a foodies paradise, there are some wonderful eateries, food suppliers, bars and restaurants. It was unfortunately lunch time and a Sunday so the place was chocker block, I had wanted to get some seafood (I did manage a couple of oysters) but the queue for the seats was just too long.

But we did find a smashing little stall called Boccalone (motto “Tasty salted pig parts”), which made their own salumi (American Salami), coppa, sausages, etc, etc, but they also had pulled pork, we decided on a pulled pork roll, well as you know everything is big in America. We didn’t need to eat again until the evening that was for sure.

We spent a good couple of hours just looking and sampling, I have found the Americans are great at allowing, nay forcing you to free sample, everywhere is “try a piece madam” or “Sir you want to sample some of our produce”. I am sure you don’t actually have to pay for lunch, just get the free samples, just a thought, we would never dream of such a thing.

After that we got a street car (tram) not the cable car pictured above, back up town (wrong street car, wrong stop, but never mind the walk done us good) and got home and had a nap (well after all that food and all that walking we needed it).

We had arranged to go out with Richard for a Mexican meal that evening, now I am a great lover of Chilli, refried beans, guacamole, salsas,  etc etc, but I like my meal parts separate, I like to see what I am eating and taste the individual parts. Both Linda and I had ordered a prawn Burritos, now I am not running Mexican food down, but this was just too many flavours and too much in a wrap. The prawns were lovely and so was the salsa, but I could have done without the rest of the stuff, rice, lettuce, guacamole, tomato, etc etc. I do believe that is my last one this visit.

It was then back home along 20th street, this was the street that the fire that came after the great earthquake of 1906 was held (due to the water mains up here not fracturing), Richard pointed out the two differing house architectures on the either side of the street, one being pre-fire and the other being post-fire. All very interesting The pre-fire being what are called painted ladies, these are Victorian houses but have extremely intricate designs and are wonderfully painted in the “painted Lady” colours.

Around the World again

Around the world to see what I have seen and what I had missed and what has changed. Before we start I must explain a little. This is a trip that I have planned in my head for many, many years, I and my family had done a bit of a one back in the 80’s but this is to be  much more of an ambitious project. I retired back in July and what with moving and getting the flat decorated we had decided on an end of October start.

My primary aim was to revisit places from my time on the Pacific Rim as a Marine Engineering Officer as well as visiting places that I had been able to get to inland in SE Asia. During the time at sea it was a time of great unrest in the world and I seemed to get drawn like a moth to a flame to many of them. The main one was of course the Vietnam war, and we delivered Avtur (Aeroplane fuel) from Sultanate of Brunei to several fuel bunkering points in the Mekong Delta, because of hostilities we didn’t see a lot of Vietnam, but did enjoy life (all be it dry) in the Sultanate and whenever we changed  the Chinese crews every 6 months in Hong Kong. I had also visited San Francisco on various occasions when on a lumber carrier that had its home port of Vancouver, this then discharged lumber all around the American Seaboard as well as the Caribbean and Northern South America (Trinidad, Tobago, Surinam, Panama, Venezuela). It was a fantastic time of my life and started off a lust to visit far off places and get to know foreign (to me) cultures, peoples and religions. So The first Port of call was to be San Francisco, then on to New Zealand before hitting Australia and then visiting as much of SE Asia as possible.    

 Linda had managed to get 4 weeks holidays so would be accompanying me for the first part of the journey (I feel a song coming on). I had all of my inoculations, my arm being used by the girls at the Doctors practice for practice, I had my last two jabs on Friday morning and so was set to face anything that they would throw at me (this we shall see as the Journey progresses). So bags packed, a few hours kip and then off to Hamburg to catch the little plane down to Frankfurt to catch the Air Bus 380, this is the whopper double decker bus (much bigger than the number 21 that I used for work in Berlin).

I must say they have done a great job on the new airbus, it was a smooth ride over Iceland (the country not the company) Greenland and down through the centre of the USA (this is called the great circle and is the actual shortest distance between two points on the world’s surface)  before landing in San Francisco.

The food on board was plentiful and tasty (Chicken and rice first meal and then Bratwurst, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes for the second), wine was taken with the meals, interspersed with the odd gin and tonic (you need to keep your body fluid intake up).  

We landed in San Francisco airport, where we had arranged to be met by Linda’s friend (and quite a few others that had worked together at Kiel University many years ago) Richard. We would be staying with Richard for our time in San Francisco. A word of warning here, if you are being met at the airport by anyone then warn them that they should bring a good book to read (or as in the case of Richard a pile of term work to mark, Richard is a lecturer at Berkley). But once through the organised chaos, (every plane landing discharges through this funnel and as a lot of planes had landed it was mayhem). I hasten to add this had nothing to do with the security or vetting process, once in front of the immigration officer he was courteous and efficient, it was just the system forces a vast amount of people through the eye of a needle. But after taking about 2 hours to clear security pick up our bags out through the non-existing customs, to be met by (now) our friend Richard.

Richard lives in a period property that looks down onto the centre of the city and very near to the twin peaks.

First off I must say Richard is such a mine of wonderful information, he was able to explain the history of the buildings and the architecture of the buildings as well as the districts of this fantastic city that I first visited 50 years ago on my 2nd sea voyage (I had a fantastic time). After divesting ourselves of our bags and Richard giving us an orientation visit of the Apartment, he left us for a bit of an nap and freshen up.
He then took us up to the twin peaks that overlook San Francisco; on one is the rather grotesque Television tower, which reminds me of the antlers of a pre-historic deity or devil. But what a view, it looks down right into the centre of the city, but even better we were able to see the fog rolling in from the Pacific pouring down the valleys and enveloping the well-known features and Landmarks quite a phenomenon.


We then went to a very nice restaurant called Chow to have some chow, I had a very tasty sliced chargrilled steak, Linda a pasta dish and Richard the vegetarian option (he is not) of a salad. It is nice when you order a meal and it actually exceeds your expectation. The waiter had asked me how I wanted my steak and I said medium rare erring on the side of rare and this was how it was served, thumbs up to Chow.

The cookery clubs Autumn menu

Autumn 2013 KIKOKLU
It was that time again; the trees are just starting to put on their Autumn colours, the russets, oranges, yellows and reds. The ground littered with falling acorns and ruddy chestnuts, that being so it was time for our KikoKlu Autumn meet, it had been decided that it would be in Stockelsdorf this year, that being so it meant that we would be doing the main course, I was in a dilemma as until 2 weeks ago I had thought about wild duck, but had been unable to get hold of any (keeping their heads down,  ducking I suppose), but when down in Rheda I happened to pop into a hunting friend of mine to get some game ribs to make a consommé  and told him of my problem, he opened up a deep freeze and there lay about 10 plucked and drawn ducks, he said that they had been out water fowling during the week and had been quite lucky.

I picked 3 nice plump ones at about 1kg each, he charged me €5,- each and threw 2kg of Roe ribs in as well. I had a few partridges in my freezer, but think I only had about 4 so this was the best solution (this year we are only 5 as Marianne was in England visiting friends in my home town of Newcastle)

So I decided that we wouldn’t be having loads of potatoes, Semmel Klöße,  Spätzle or potato dumplings, we would in fact have a nice melange of mixed autumn roast vegetables.

The Menu was to be:
As the guests arrived we would have a nice Prosecco with sausage rolls and crab and prawn Vol au vents.

The opening would be Carolyn’s trout mousse with trout caviar and a small dressed salad, the mousse was absolutely fantastic, it was not puree’d  to destruction, but still had identifiable pieces of smoked trout in it (more a rillet). Wonderful and tasty with just a touch of horse radish.

Next came Linda’s  creation in honour of the Octoberfest, this was a game consommé with Leberknödel  (liver dumplings) floating in it. Well done Linda, it was a first time and she mastered the art of making the Leberknödeln very well; I will try and get her a job Auf’n Wiese next year.

Martin had really went to town making Cepes and hazelnut tortellini , these had been made with hazel nut and rye flour, poached in stock served with a sage butter and drizzled with Cepes oil

Then came mains which I shall explain in a little more detail later

And last but not least came one of Kalle’s veritable culinary master pieces, a wonderful medley of deserts, a plum tartlet, a port wine poached pear on a port wine reduction and a smashing crip nut praline. Bravo Kalle  take a bow, what a fantastic ending to the meal.
The Stuffed roast mallards, with a fruit and sage filling, glazed with a kumquat-apricot sauce. Served on a bed of Riesling sauerkraut, accompanied by a selection of autumn vegetables and red wine poached pears with preiselbeeren
I picked the birds over to remove the worst of the stubble,  quill ends and any shot, washed inside and out and dried them and giving them a good salting and peppering.  

I had soaked some sultanas, orange peel and dried apricots in orange juice overnight, I mixed this into a packet of sage and onion stuffing (a well-known brand) with some spiced sausage meat (mett) made this up as per the packet and allowed to stand.

I then stuffed each duck with the filling closed the openings with toothpicks, covered with bacon strips and trussed with kitchen twine. I diced some root vegetables and onions placed these breast sides up into a roasting tin with some vegetable stock.


Into a pre-heated oven at 180°C (fan assisted) to take on colour after 20 minutes, removed and turned so that the breast are facing down. Lower the heat to 160° and allowed to slowly cook for a further 40 minutes (check the breast temperature it should be about 50°C, it will rise while resting, but will remain juicy). Cover and allow to rest.
Remove from the roasting tray and pour all of the contents into a saucepan and add a glass or two of white wine, reduce and strain through a sieve. This will be added to the kumquat sauce.

Kumquat sauce
200g small (they are in any case) kumquats (50% in halves and 50% cut into slivers)
2 tbsp. of apricot jelly
2 tsp. of caster sugar
200ml orange juice made up with the orange juice that you soaked the dried fruit in.
Salt and pepper to taste

Add all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper into a saucepan, allow slowly to cook down until it is nice and syrupy, add the stock a little at a time, but still keeping the syrup consistency. Now adjust the seasoning (It may well not require any).

Riesling Sauerkraut
You can buy this ready-made, but in this case I bought normal bio-sauerkraut and added a couple of  bay leaves stuck into 2 halves of onion with cloves, 5 juniper berries, a good handful of sweet Riesling grapes, 2 tsp. of  vegetable stock powder, ¾ of a bottle of Riesling. Add to a large pan and allow to simmer for a couple of hours, I think the longer the better, you can even make it the day before and slowly heat it up to be ready just prior to eating.

Roast Autumn Vegetables
2 large sweet potatoes
500g Hokkaido pumpkin
10 small beetroots
10 small parsnips
2 yellow courgettes

Peel the potatoes, and parsnips, I used only the bulbous top parts and cut them to the same size as the beetroots.  Cut all of the vegetables into pieces of approx. the same size. Parboil the beetroots and the parsnips (two different pans),  when still firm peel the beets and transfer to a roasting tray, add the rest of the vegetables, drizzle all over with olive oil, add some fresh chopped herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano), fresh ground black pepper and course sea salt, mix well together  so that all are coated, cover with foil and place in the oven to roast for about 1 hour (I roasted at the same time as the duck, duck at the top and veg at the bottom, keep an eye on the veg if they are cooking too quick remove and then replace while the duck is resting.

Poached pears in red wine

3 pears halved
1bottle of red wine
1 stick of cinnamon bark
2 cloves
3 cardamom pods crushed
6 dsp. of preiselbeer jam or jelly (or any other red berry jam or jelly).
Peel , halve and de-core the pears, poach in the red wine (a red Australian merlot in this case. Remove from the poaching liquid and allow to cool, fill them with the jam

To serve,
Remove the tooth picks and thread, remove the crispy bacon, halve each of the ducks (I have some special secateurs for this, but a good sharp knife works just as well) , with the stuffing inside still in it, place these on top of the Riesling Sauerkraut in a pretty serving dish, glaze and decorate each with the sauce and glazed kumquats and the crispy bacon.
Decorate with the halved pears.

Pour the remainder of the Kumquat sauce into a sauce boat and serve separate

Put the vegetables into serving dishes and open up the bottle of good wine (red or white the choice is yours, but a nice Riesling would go nice with this meal.