Sunday, May 25, 2014

June 2014 - Overview

Holidays (Federal or Bavaria specific)       
June 9 Whit Monday (Pfingstmontag)
June 19 Corpus Christi (Fronleichnam) Churches in your area may have a procession
Schools closed for Whitsun Vacation June 10 - 21, 2014

Events (by no means a complete list)
June 5 - 14 Open Air Cinema
June 5 - English Tea - entry €7,50  
June 20 - 22 Altstadtfest - Music and Craft Market 
June 22- Open Sunday

Through August 21 - Erlangen goes fit! FREE fitness classes outdoors every Thursday. Near   Röthelheimbad
June 5-16 Bergkerwa!!! Not to be missed! A local festival similar to Oktoberfest. 
June 5 - Film "There Will Be Blood" Free, in English VHS Erlangen
June 16 Erlangen Altstadt Day Festival 
June 27-29 Kirchweih Erlangen Bruck 
June 29 - July 1 Zollhausfest- Erlangen´s largest street festival 
June 29 - Altstadt Day 

Through August 13 Nürnberg goes fit FREE fitness classes for adults and children. Various days of the week, see link for schedule. 
June 5 Südwestpark Fun Run- Choose between 5k and 9,9k runs or nordic walks. Events for children as well. Last year had 1,400 participants. 
June 6 - 9 Rock im Park, Zeppelin Park - The concert event of the year for the area.       Metallica, Linkin Park, Kings of Leon, Kasabian, The Offspring and more. 
June 14 - Hidden Gardens in Nürnberg- with the Alstadtfruende Nürnberg - Donations requested. See gardens behind the fortress not normally accessible to the public.
June 18 - 22 Franconian Beer Festival  Over 30 breweries participating!
June 27-29 - Gourmet Festival (Stein)- Great place to try new wines, buy fancy eats (sauces, cheese, marinades, etc)! Entry € day of. €7 beforeHerzo

June 5 - 9 Bamberg Wine Festival, Maxplatz
June 6 - 7 Open Air theatre, CATS, the Musical, Weissenberg Tickets from €12-€24
June 6-9 Trucker and Country Music Festival, Gieselwind Entry from €7 to €17 per adult depending on day, Kids starting at €4. Monday is a holiday and also entry free! Note: the activities for kids look particularly good for little boys! 
June 6-8 New Orleans Festival, Fürth 
June 7, 21, 29, July 5, 19 Saturday Night Cruise- rolling car museum- featuring classic cars.  Meeting point Stadler Parkplatz - Free 
June 8- Blues Night, Schweizer Keller, Forchheim - live band, burgers, (beef!) steaks, grilled corn on the cob! and more. Entry free. 
June 16- World Cup- Germany/Portugal - your city may have public viewings
June 21 - Wine Festival in Wine Country, Kolitzheim (near Schweinfurt) 
June 21 - World Cup - Germany/Ghana - check for local public viewings
June 22- Bryan Adams (of "Summer of ´69", etc. fame) Bad Kissingen 
June 26 - World Cup- Germany/USA - check for local public viewings

Other things to do? 

Fuego Latino (Nürnberg)  has many dance classes you can try Salsa, Merengue, Bachata- with daily passes from €3-€8

Nürnberg´s Experience Park is fun for the whole family! See- touch- feel- smell Open until September 19, 2014. 

It´s wine festival time! With so many wineries in the lower Franconian region there´s a festival every weekend. Check out the list (in English) here (in English). The area is about one hour from Nürnberg by train. 

Find a local Beer Keller here! 

Pick your own berries and currants, and even asparagus! click here or here for a few places in the Nürnberg area. Check the individual websites for more information. 

Kerwa (or Kirchweih) season is here! Click here for a list of local festivals. Wondering what a Kerwa is? See our previous post

Missing the beach? Try Summer in the City in Nürnberg to hang out or play in the sand. 

Explore our area´s many bike paths! (For a Nürnberg map of bike paths, click here) For other cities, start with a google search of your city´s name and Fahrradweg). Maps are available in most book stores for under €5. 

Beer kellers and gardens that closed for the season begin to re-open! Try Forchheim´s famous Kellerwald (click here for map and description in German). It´s little less than 30 minutes train ride from Nberg Hbf and then a bit of a walk. 

Head out to a local soccer game. The season reopened end of February. Tip: For those with children with short attention spans, some clubs offer free admission for the second half.

Visit a 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.


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!
Spargel! Last month for it! See post on it here

Things cropping up (pun intended) ;)

Local Beans
Local Broccoli
Local (called new or frisch- in Bamberg- the Spitzwirsing) Wirsing
Local Strawberries! 

What in the world is that?

Schwäbisch Kehl (Wirsing)
Wirsing (Savoy Cabbage) - popularly prepared here with cream as a side dish.
My "recipe"? 
One head Wirsing
200 ml Kochsahne (cooking cream- I use the 10% fat version)
One onion
Chicken (or veggie broth) 
salt/pepper/Schmalz if you have it (a fat)
Make at least 1L broth, boil and shred the wirsing. Let it cook until all is bright green (even the white parts should turn green, so add them too). Add more broth as needed. 
Mince onion and saute in butter until soft. 
With strainer, take wirsing out of the pot with a bit of broth. 
Use a hand blender to puree until smoothish
Add Sahne (cream) and blend quickly once more. 
The end result should be creamy, not too liquidy, so add broth while blending, with caution, OR, add sahne at the same time. 

Bamberg Spitzwirsing is a different variety, and looks like this

Monday, May 12, 2014

Biking in Germany

As of May 1, bike fines have increased in many parts of Germany and the police are out in full force for the next few weeks enforcing the laws.
NOTE: Signs are consistent throughout Germany. Penalties/fines may not be. Your local police department should have paper brochures available explaining yours.
Here are some sources to more thoroughly research them, below what I think are some of the more important ones.

ADFC on bike laws (large German bike club- link in German). Active politically for biker´s rights and bike safety, they also rate bikes. Members also get free bike maps and discounts at participating bike shops.

The Schweinfurt US Army Base (link in English) on bike laws in Germany. Note that some of the information (fines for example) is outdated. Great information on bike signs in Germany.

Bicycle Germany (link in English) on German bicycle laws. Also has information on interpreting signs.

Your bike must have the following (note there are exceptions for certain racing bikes and mountain bikes). Fines for not having one of the items listed are around €20 each.

- When a bike lane is provided, it must be used if this sign is present. . Ride to the right if it is a two way bike lane, in the direction indicated (with traffic) if it is not. Some bike lanes are in the street, others at sidewalk level - in which case, it is usually paved and closer to the street than the pedestrian sidewalk. Violations are around €20. 
- On sidewalks where biking is permitted, you may bike no faster than walking speed, and bikers are the guests of pedestrians. No klinging your bell to get them out of your way. :)
- Biking in pedestrian zones is generally prohibited (unless there are signs saying otherwise. In Bamberg, it is permitted only during certain times). 
- On rural bike paths tractors and farm equiptment always have right of way. 
- Helmets are not mandatory, HOWEVER, check with your health insurance company. They may be able to deny you coverage for a head injury as a result of not wearing a helmet. 
- Biking while intoxicated can cost anywhere between €800 and €4200 and include loss of your driver´s license. The legal limit is 1.6 (.05 for driving a car). If you appear to be impaired, this may be lowered. The police may fine as low as .05 if they observe you driving erratically. 
- You may be held liable for a car accident that occurs as a result of your unsafe biking. 
- Bikes are allowed on all trains except the ICE. Be sure to purchase the appropriate ticket. If there is not enough room for strollers and bikes on the train, strollers take precedence. 
- Jumping a red light can be costly. Less than one second - €45 + a point on your drivers license. More than that? €100 + a point. 
- Children under 8 years old must bike on the sidewalk. Children up to 10 years old MAY bike on the sidewalk. Exception: If they have their Fahrradpass. 
- Children under 10 must dismount their bikes and walk them to cross a street. 
- Riding with no hands is prohibited. 
- Using a cell phone is prohibited, except for hands free. 
- Biking with headphones is a grey area. If your hearing is impaired, causing you to be unsafe,  that is a €10 fine. 
- Biking side by side is ONLY allowed if it does not impact (car) traffic. 
- Arm turn signals are mandatory. Put your left arm out to indicate a left turn, right arm for right turn. 
- Right before left: This one almost got me hit once. At an intersection that is not marked (no stop sign or traffic light) the person on the right goes first, irregardless of whether it is a car or a bike. 

How do Germany´s bike laws compare to your home country´s? 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spargel Zeit! (Asparagus Season)

From April to June, it´s Spargel Zeit here in Germany! You have probably seen signs advertising Frisch Fränkischer Spargel- it´s a PGI (protected geographical indication). 

According to The Local, Germans consumed 127,000 TONNES of asparagus during the 2012 season. The most typical here is the white asparagus, but violet and green can also be found. 

What are the differences? 
- Green asparagus is allowed to hit sunlight, photosynthesis is responsible for the color. Generally, it is best picked early, and the skinnier the stalk, the better. A thicker stalk will be more woody. Before cooking, "snap" the stalk to get rid of the woody ends. 

- Violet occurs when the white asparagus hits sunlight, you can often see purple stripes on the white versions. While Germans generally consider this variety less desirable, countries like France prefer it. 

- White asparagus has not been allowed to see the sun, which is why it is so expensive. Farmers manually cover the fresh asparagus up to twice a day with dirt as it grows. As opposed to green asparagus, the thickness of the stalk does not effect the texture of the vegetable. To tell if it is fresh, squeeze the ends, and a little liquid should come out.  The straighter and thicker the stalk, the more expensive it will be. 

There are three classes of asparagus in Germany. 
"Extra - Minimum diameter of 12 mm (15/32 inch), no hollow cores, perfectly straight and all white. Most expensive.
Handelsklasse I (HK I) - Minimum diameter of 10 mm (3/8 inch), light bending, light coloration (violet). Good value.
Handelsklasse II (HK II) - Minimum diameter of 8 mm (5/16 inch), curved stalks allowed, slightly opened flower heads, more color than HK I and sometimes woody. Good for soup stock and students."
To prepare the white - peel the outer layers- many smaller stands will offer to peel it for you, or give you a free peeler with purchase. Rather than the "snap" method with the green, cut any dry and tough ends with a knife. 

Take advantage of the season, and head to a restaurant with a Spargel Karte! (A special menu for the season). Schiesshaus Nürnberg  or one of these in Nürnberg for example. Most will have a cream of asparagus soup, an asparagus salad, asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and likely something with ham as well. 
Here are 58 asparagus recipes from Cooking Light magazine, though most will show the green varieties.
This website has several typical German asparagus recipes (in German). 
German asparagus recipes from Yummly, in English. 
What´s your favorite asparagus recipe? 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Father´s Day in Germany

Father´s Day in Germany falls on Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day), this year, Thursday, May 29. Ascension Day is always on the Thursday forty days after Easter, and is a national holiday (Note: All stores closed). 

While many of us (at least from the US!) think of Father´s Day as a day to get your Dad a gift as a small token of thanks for all he has done for you, and a day spend with your Dad, here it is much different. 

On Father´s Day, you will see much of this! 

Photo: German Pulse
Father´s Day, also called Herrentag or Männertag (Men´s Day) is a "Boy´s Day Out" here. Father´s get a day off! Groups of men (not limited to fathers) grab a "Bollerwagen", fill it with beer, wine or schnapps (along with a bit of food), and go out walking for the day. Here in Bamberg, you can see streams of men, wagons in tow, beers in hand  singing loudly (and badly) along the river paths. Others make it a pub crawl (Männerrunde). 

Where did this tradition come from? According to Wikipedia "These traditions are probably rooted in Christian Ascension Day's processions to the farmlands, which has been celebrated since the 18th century. Men would be seated in a wooden cart and carried to the village's plaza, and the mayor would award a prize to the father who had the most children, usually a big piece of ham."

You can read more about the traditions in Der Spiegel here (including some rather amusing pictures!) 

So get your guy a Bollerwagen, fill it with beer, and wish him "Alles Gute zum Vatertag!" (or Herrentag if he´s not a Dad)!