Friday, January 31, 2014

February 2014 - Overview

February 2014

Holidays (Federal or Bavaria specific)


Events (by no means a complete list)

Feb 1 Franconia's oldest antique and flea market (monthly)
Until Feb. 6 Lichtmessmarkt 
February 14-16 Garden Fair - regional exhibitors showcasing everything for your garden!

Superbowl events: Albrechts Garten is having a party (reservations suggested), DAI also.
Until Feb 2 Latin American Week Sunday, Feb. 2 is the Intercultural Family Festival
All Month- DAI celebrates Black History Month. Highlights include a discussion on Dr. King's Dream at 50 (February 5)
Feb 4-9 Children's Theater Festival Panoptikum 
February 18 Children´s Reading Corner (all ages)
February 7 or 28 Head to the Nuernberg Planetarium for Pink Floyd shows! (Dark Side of the Moon, or The Wall) Program Guide here (February begins on page 28)
Ongoing until March Segway Indoor Parcours (suitable for adults and kids 7+)
     An obstacle course........... on Segway´s!

Various "Kinderfasching" celebrations. Google the term + city for times/locations
Feb. 1 Get your fish and chips at the Scottish Festival in Fuerth
Health Festival Bamberg (Note: LOADS of free samples!)
The Sochi Winter Olympics begin February 6
Berlin International Music Festival (February 6-16, 2014)

Other things to do? 

Kick-Fabrik - Nürnberg indoor soccer and mini-golf

Bowling (Google kegeln or bowling and your town´s name)

Visit an indoor pool or sauna- Atlantis is in Herzo, Nürnberg has many to choose from (link in    German), Bamberg has Bambados Can´t decide?  Schwimmbadcheck is an online review site for public pools, link is in English.

Ice Skating- Most cities have somewhere for ice skating (google Eislaufen and your town´s name).
Winterlaufen - When in Rome, or Germany as the case may be............get out there and take a long walk in the bitter cold invigorating air! Suggestion: Fränkische Schweiz (link in English)

Skiing - It´s not the Alps, but here´s a list of  39 ski areas in Bavaria. Link in English


Produce availability in Germany is VERY seasonal. Want fresh asparagus right now? Not likely.
Want to know when to expect what (of locally grown produce)? Click here  This also includes information about when to plant what in this area of Germany.

Things to hoard stock up on now, as they are going away quickly!
Stalk celery
Green kale
Wirsing (Savoy Cabbage)
Gluehwein (not produce, but comes from grapes, so...whatever).

Things cropping up (pun intended) ;)
Fresh local spinach (end of month)

What in the world is that?
The root of the vegetable is one of my favorites! Mash it with alone or with potatoes, puree it, roast it with other root vegetables, or make a soup.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Vegetarian and Vegan and Gluten Free in the HENhaus Area

Did you know that between 9 and 11% of Germans are vegetarian or vegan? (Source: European Vegetarian 
Union). That number is expected to increase thanks to initiatives like "Grillen Ohne Killen" (grilling without killing) and "Donnerstag ist Veggietag" (Thursday is Veggie Day).

Whether you are vegetarian, or just trying to eat less meat, I have put together a (in no way comprehensive) list of resources for you!

Veggie Friendly Supermarkets: 
- Most supermarkets will have some soy based products/veggie protein options. Items like soy (Soja)  or almond (Mandel) milk, and other soy based options can be found in any larger supermarket (Real, Tegut, Rewe, Edeka -though not as frequently in discount markets such as Norma, Lidl, etc.).
- Larger selections can be found in Reformhauser, or health food stores (search "Reformhaus" and your city's name). IMHO, prices tend to be much higher in a Reformhaus.
- Bio (Organic) Supermarkets will also have large selections (Denn's is a good one) NOTE: Denn's also has a decent selection of gluten and lactose free products.

Finding Veggie Friendly Restaurants, etc. : 
Rather than attempt to list (and maintain) all of the vegan, veggie (or veggie friendly) restaurants in the area, here are some tips and resources!
- The city of Nürnberg has collected some resources here.
- Happy Cow:  Happy Cow has reviews and information for vegan, veggie and veggie friendly restaurants and stores. Link is to Nuremberg, where they have 26 listings! Bonus? In ENGLISH! Also has reviews. Also has an app for mobile use. 
- Vegan Guide Nürnberg (also Erlangen, Fürth) - links to local restaurants, shops and also meet ups
- VEBU- Vegetarierbund Deutschland has a restaurant search engine.  The site lists hours of operation, has links to restaurant websites, and reviews. Also has an app for Android or iOS phones. In German, easily translated with google. :)
- Try Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Italian and Turkish restaurants.

Want to meet other vegetarians? 
- VEBU - VEBU is one of the largest vegetarian clubs in Germany. Try, for more information. They offer vegetarian "buddies" for members who are just converting to the veggie lifestyle. Some local chapters have a monthly Stammtisch, (link to Nuremberg site) or offer cooking classes (prices typically around the 20 Euro mark). Note: website in German.
- Single? Try Veggie Connection to find a like minded mate! (link to Bavaria, in English)
- Facebook! (of course) Nuremberg has a vegetarian and vegan group (in German) that is part of VEBU. Nürnberg Vegan has more than 1,300 members.

An in NO way comprehensive list of recommended veggie friendly restaurants: 
- Erlangen: Das Muskat in the heart of Erlangen, also has no problem with gluten free when asked. Kolbe is a Reformhaus with a hot lunch bar as well as salad bar, also, carries products that are not carried in many other health food stores. Weekly menu posted on line.
- Nuremberg: Mischbar , The Tasty Leaf (can accomodate gluten free, lactose free and soy intolerance!), Wittmans (offers GF, has English menus and English speaking staff, out of the way on a residential street).
-Bamberg: Kornblume (one of my all time favorite restaurants. The ONLY "bad" thing about it is location, it is a bit out of the way, though near Keesmann and Mahrs breweries :)), Suppenplantage 

Traveling??? Take a look here for veggie friendly hotels (link to those in Germany, but has world wide information.)

Gluten Free? 
- Try the German Celiac Society for information (in German, again, easily translated with Google toolbar). You can also like them on Facebook.
- More and more restaurants have GF options, see above for just a few.
- The online bakery (Hammermuehle) has gotten great reviews.
- Rewe and Edeka have some selection. Ebl (Organic Supermarket) and Denn's also have products.
- Online grocery stores: Querfood, Glutenfrei Supermarket
- DM Drogerie have gluten free sections.

If you have any comments, suggestions, or additions to these resources, please tell us in the comments!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dreikönigstag (Who are those children writing on my door?)

Tomorrow, January 6, is a public holiday for those of us in the HENhaus area (all of Bavaria, as well as Baden-Würtemberg and Saxony-Anhalt)! So the stores are closed.......again. It´s Dreikönigstag, the end of the Christmas season  and the Twelve Days of Christmas. On the 7th, things return to normal again, and the children go back to school. Note: this may also be the day for Christmas tree pick up in your area.

Three King´s Day (or Epiphany) is the day the Three Kings (or Magi) came to visit Jesus, bringing gold, frankincense and myrrh. Sometime today or tomorrow, you can expect to get a ring at the door from the Sternsinger (Star Singers).

In many areas, children dressed as the Three Kings, carrying a large star (representing the star which led them to Jesus  in Bethlehem) go from house to house singing special songs for the day, or reading poems.

It is traditional to give the children candy, cookies, or chocolate as well as a monetary donation. The money collected goes to either the Church or another charitable organization. You may want to make sure you have your donation (of food or money) by the door now, to avoid the mad dash I had to make.

The children will then mark your door, to bless the house and inhabitants for the coming year.

Sometimes done in chalk (this year, ours is a sticker), this year we have 20+C+M+B+14.

What does that mean? 20 and 14 represent the year, obviously. Some say C M B represents the names of the Magi (Casper, Melchoir and Balthazar). Others say it represents "Christus mansionem benedicat", or "Christ bless this house".

Some insider tips (courtesy of my 13 year old cousin Leo, a long-time Sternsinger veteran):
  •  Remember these children are singing, walking, and on their feet all day!
  • Chocolate or cookies are preferred over candy. Why? They can eat them right away. Candy means empty wrappers that they don´t have room for, so it ends up being carried the entire day. Leo had 11kg or 24 pounds of candy to carry one year!
  • It´s nice to offer them something to drink, or they may ask for it. In that case, you can give them something in a glass. Bottles are hard to carry and dispose of. 
  • As far as monetary donations, a €5 bill is most common, and lightest to carry. Otherwise, a €2 piece will suffice. Avoid dumping billions of smaller coins as I did. :(
  • When you open the door, the children "should" start singing or reciting their poem. If not, a simple "Hallo" or "Wilkommen" should get them started. When they are done, give them your donations, and they will ask if you want them to mark your door. Then, they will leave. The need for German language speaking ability is minimal. :)
With all the stores closed, what to do?

If you are not going to Church, or making and eating a Three Kings Cake (recipe here)...... hit up a brewery for the Stärkeantrinken tradition! Drinking Bockbier on Three King´s Day (or Eve, depending on where you are) is a tradition said to protect you against diseases and danger in the coming year. Some breweries even make a special Three King´s Day brew just for the day, search Stärke antrinken, Dreikönigsbier or Oberste (link in German) in your region to find one. But beware! Both are especially strong!! 

Thanks to Leo for your help and information!