The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

January Grünkohl Essen

Kalle's Grünkohl  Abend

As is normal in the North of Germany and therefore at our dear friend Kalle it was Grünkohl time. To the uninitiated Grünkohl is sweet curly kale but this is not as is normal in England just blanched and quickly sautéed, but is turned into a wonderful meal, it will be found steaming away on stoves all over the North of Germany (from Nordrhein-Westfalen to Schleswig-Holstein) , you will also see great pans of it bubbling at the stalls in most Jahrmarkts throughout the North. It is a real peasant dish that uses up a green vegetable that is easy to grow and is really only edible after the frost has given it a certain sweetness.

Enough about the main actor in the piece but here is a run through of the supporting cast.
First we gathered in Kalle’s kitchen to this a normal procedure as this is always the starting point of any of the Kikoklu’s dinner evenings, this was as Linda was making the welcoming cocktail, it was a gin based one that include Cointreau and lemon juice, topped up with sekt, it normally has a sugared rim but she in view of my diabetes had not sugared mine. Kalle had in the meantime set the stage ready for the first act.

Linda and Carolyn heads down and concentrating
Find the one without the sugar!
I do wish Kalle would keep still

We then left the kitchen to Carolyn to put her starter together.

We sat and chatted about our Christmas holidays and respites, some went to visit their families and friends in the North of Germany, others went to the canaries to feel a bit of warmth on their backs, while Linda and I went to Northern Ireland, North England and a quick visit to the South of Scotland and we spent New Year in Belfast, the rest had a right knees up at the Schauspielhaus in Kiel.

Carolyn brought in the starter; it was nice fresh celery, with pomegranate seeds and a fresh fruity dressing.

Next we had my Soup, this was a mixture of a standard recipe made from roasted butter nut squash, red and yellow peppers, onions, garlic and tomatoes (roasted together in the oven with a good sprinkling of olive oil. I also softened some carrot, leek and celeriac on top of the stove in some game stock a good amount of grated ginger, ground cumin, sweet paprika and smoked paprika. I blended these all together and sautéed some green beans, peas and some haricot beans, added these to the finished soup and thinned with some more stock. 
The soup warming through on the stove

Marianne adding some sliced chorizo
Martin adding some Hirschschinken

The olive, rosemary and pine nut rolls below and the sun-dried tomato and roasted sunflower seed rolls above

To serve I has sliced some chorizo, diced some smoked wild boar and some red deer ham, this each could add as much or as little or none as they wished. By the compliments being bandied about I think it was a success and a recipe that shall be repeated in the future, it is very low in calories at only approximately 33 K/cal per 100 g.

I had made some bread rolls as an accompaniment, these were made from a fresh yeast dough, 75% rye whole meal flour and 25% strong bread flour, after the first proving (1 hr), I had divided the dough into 2 equal parts. To one I added sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil and  some chopped roasted sunflower seeds. To the other half I added chopped black Kalamata olives, chopped pine nuts and chopped fresh rosemary, divided each half into 4 and allowed to prove again (1 hr) then into a pre-heated (220°C) oven for 20 minutes check if they are done by tapping the bottom, they should sound hollow.

Then followed the star of the show a real winter warmer full of vitamins and energy. Kalle had done us proud, not only the Grünkohl, but also Pinkel, that wurst which comes from North Niedersachsen  area namely from and around Bremen (Bremen is one of Germany’s city states). The Pinkel is a grouts wurst that isn’t unsimilar to the Scottish haggis, though it uses barley or grouts (very rough ground grain) as the filler but in some cases oats is used. The rest of the meal consists of a kassler rib, meat removed from the bones and sliced , a thick slice of belly pork and smoked minced sausages made out of fresh and cured pork prior to being smoked, this is what would be called a mettende in NRW, it is a very spicy often hard sausage which is often sold over the bar counter to go with a beer. To this was served plain steamed potatoes, that will be crushed (quetscht) into the sauce of the Grünkohl. Of course you will need a good strong mustard, I prefer the Düsseldorfer Löwensenf, though there were some of those present that I saw using a weaker make.
Kalle removing the Kassler from the pot

A nice piece of meat
The remainder adding their flavours to the Grünkohl

The slicing of the beast
Don't forget the potatoes Rich!

The meat platter
The Grunkohl

And ready to eat
Linda's astonishment at the amount she would have to eat,

My first plate of food.
To round off the evening we had a few rounds of Aquavit, this accompanied the beer that is a must to the Grünkohl and then a wonderful fresh fruit salad no sugar though some did have a good dollop of whipped cream. 

Kalle then served another schnapps a Walnut one, a very nice drop if I may say Kalle.

We stayed the night and after a late breakfast we headed home to get the evening meal ready, haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce, as if we had not had enough.

But before leaving we did see Kalle’s “Eichhornchen paar” doing high jinx in the trees and on the grass in front of the kitchen window.

Thank you for a wonderful evening to all Kikokluers for their wonderful courses, but especially to Kalle for being such a wonderful Host.

Belfast New Years Eve, Amy’s Bed and Breakfast and Safa Indian restaurant,

In true BBC form due to situations beyond our control we had to change our program, this meant going to Belfast on New Year’s Eve instead of spending it with Bob in Kilkeel. We booked in a B&B on the Antrim Road, Amy’s Guest House, it was a small, clean affair in an Edwardian terraced house, it had recently had some renovations done and a slap of paint, though there was still some work to be done (the en-suite door was very ill fitting) it was well worth the money. 

We arrived and Nick the owner was on duty, he had given his “girls” the New Year off, he is a dried out alcoholic, so as he said, “it was better to stay out of the way of temptation”. He showed us to our room,which was small with the bed taking up most of the space, though I have been in smaller cabins at sea, it wasn't much bigger, but for a couple of nights it would be more than adequate.  

There was a small newly furnished en-suite, it would do us for our main reason for being there which was to be near to the Stena Terminal for the ferry to Cairn Ryan the next morning and still central to town.  Down in the residents lounge/dining room  Nick made us a smashing pot of tea, showed us the workings of the TV and after answering our queries about buses into town and a Taxi the next morning left us to our own devises.

On the ground floor, adjacent to lounge/dining room is a well equipped kitchen which Nick said we were at liberty to use.

We decided as it was New Year’s Eve to head into town on the bus, there is a stop just across the road at the corner of Cliftonville Road and Antrim Road, this takes you straight into the centre of Belfast, we hopped onto the number 12A paid the 3 quid each and were soon set down on Royal Avenue. In front of us was the well adorned, tastefully, in its Christmas lights. 

Friends who live and work in Belfast had informed us that Safa was a very good Indian restaurant and was very central, we found Bank Street and a light trail set into the pavement led us to the famous Kelly’s traditional Irish pub, next door and upstairs was Safa Indian Restaurant

We were cordially greeted at the door, inquired if we had a reservation (were these the wrong sort of Indians?). Answering no, he consulted his large diary and seating plan and gave us a nice table for two not far from the door. Inquiries as to what we would like to drink, saying they had Kingfisher beer on tap. We were presented with the menu, this is quite extensive and covers most of the foods from the Indian sub-continent, but what hit me right between the eyes was “goat”, but before I could inquire my hopes were dashed, sorry sir but there is no goat on the menu, it is out of season,the goat-meat  that is supplied in Northern Europe is kid that was born in early spring, raised throughout the summer and slaughtered in autumn, this was very late December so I was out of luck. “But we do  have some very nice lamb, sir” came the offer. So we ordered our meals.

Papadoms to start for both of us, this came with three dishes consisting of a light vegetable pickle, a mango chutney and a spiced yoghurt dish.

Next the true starters : A mixed platter for two consisting of onion bhajee’s, chicken and lamb tikka pieces, Samosa's, spiced chicken wings and small kebabs.  All very well cooked and tasting fantastic.
For the mains: I had ordered the lamb tikka cooked in the tandoor oven, it was succulent pieces of Irish lamb, perfectly seasoned, this was accompanied by a vegetable tandoori sauce, perfect absolutely perfect.
Linda had ordered a chicken Balti, which she said was also perfectly cooked and the chicken was butter soft without falling apart, with the sauce had just the right amount of heat (for her). 
We had plain boiled rice, a chapatti and an onion and garlic Naan as the accompaniment.
The waiter service was perfect, it was prompt and well organised, very friendly without being overbearing, just a polite” is everything to your liking” a couple of times. The whole bill came to 65 quid for the two of us, now that was a gift.

We decided to have a look in next door at Kelly's Cellars, we walk along the outside passing a fella having a fag, he said in a broad Belfast accent ”aye get yersels insoid noy, ter’s a waam foyer and gud Craic in tear”, we took him at his word, so inside we went, it was quite full and most of the tables were taken, but we managed to squeeze onto a couple of seats at the table nearest the door, I ordered a pint of the black stuff for me and a gin and tonic for Linda, plonked them on the table and just then the chap that had accosted us outside, came back in from his fag break, and seeing us said with a twinkle in his eye,” I tol yi a liddle loy abaut ti foyer”. But the Craic was good and though they had no live music, the canned music was great, something for all tastes, from fiddle and pipe to modern cat-a wailing. The clientele was as varied as the music, flat capped and over coated wizen old knackers  to high heeled scantily dressed young fillies a veritable mixture of Belfast night life, what a wonderful place, a must for visitors to Belfast.
We decided to move on to the Titanic Quarter, but before we reached there, Linda needed, urgently, the little girls room, so we back tracked to a bar we had seen a few minutes earlier, The Garrick Bar
this is a real old bar with cut-glass mirrors and hanging chandeliers, well-kept and so Linda ordered us drinks and promptly disappeared to the toilets, we found a couple of seats in the well frequented but not overfull bar and savoured our drinks while pondering what to do next, we decided that we would head back to the B&B and watch the New Year in on the tele. We grabbed a cab and in next to no time we were back on the Antrim Road and our B&B.

Linda wanted to watch something on TV so I went up to our room, and switched on my PC, to read my e-mails and catch up with the news via skype from my daughter who is back packing in Laos (following in her fathers footsteps). I then decided to stream tv and just then it was time for Mrs Browns Boys film and then Jules Holland Hootenanny, Linda came up and we started watching it together, I must say I did not see in the New Year as I was fast asleep by that time.
Next morning we had decided on no breakfast s, we were travelling Stena Plus and would eat on board, Nick had actually taken 10 quid off for not taking breakfast.  The taxi arrived as ordered and it was off and in plenty of time for the ferry (Linda likes to be super punctual).
A good night was had in Belfast, I do believe that I would do it again if catching the early ferry as it means it is stress free, though I will also say if travelling only to Ireland I would prefer to travel via the France to Rosslare ferry, it is much more civilised, cuts out the England crossing with the Oscar wild, the Oscar Wilde is a fantastic ferry with excellent meals, though saying that, the DFDS from Newcastle to Ijmuiden (Amsterdam) also has very nice restaurants on board and I do get to see my sister only 15 minutes from the DFDS terminal at North Shields.

We had a safe journey from Linda’s brothers, where we had left the car across the breadth of the UK (Port Logan to Backworth), stayed the night at my sisters, went shopping for a few necessaries at the local Morrison’s and caught the ferry the next day.

We had a nice meal onboard, then decided to have an early night and have a read and I done a bit of writing up for my blog. There were a few bangs and crunches as the vessel ploughed through the Troughs and over the peaks, but I slept through it,  it would seem that Linda did not.

Next morning I was up early and caught the watery sun coming up over the North Sea as we approached the coast of Holland. If I have a long journey ahead of me I never eat breakfast as if do then I have to take my diabetic medicament, this can cause a violent bowl movement 2 hours later, it is not nice if caught between service stations. So I tend to starve myself instead, Linda had a continental breakfast and read her book.

The Blue Ribbon Restaurant
Blue Ribbon Restaurant Menu
The Explorer Restaurant Breakfast Buffet, but not for me!
The breaking dawn over the North Sea

The Bar and lounge area
Entrance to Ijmuiden Harbour
The Fort Island at the river mouth

We arrived on time, docked

From there is only the journey across Holland and North Germany and Home.