Business Trip to Stockton-On-Tees, England

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Last week I went on a business trip to Stockton-on-Tees in England, UK. The great thing about living in Europe, is that you can pretty much get anywhere else in Europe in only a few hours.

One of the things that I found particularly interesting, was the fact that there were two faucets in the sink, one for cold and one for hot. This meant of course that the cold gets really cold, and the hot gets really hot. Since the faucets are so far apart, the water basically never mixes unless you first hold your hands under the cold water and then move your hands under the hot water. Washing your hand and face in this manner becomes rather inefficient, if not down right annoying.

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Another interesting fact is that Guinness is served “extra cold”. I was always told that Guinness was served “warm” in the UK, but nope this is not the case. I am not complaining, however, because the extra cold Guiness was really good. From my understanding, there is very little gluten in Guiness, although there is some. Since I am gluten intolerant (but this mostly seems only to matter with solid foods rather than liquids) I waited until the last night of my trip (when all I had to do the next day was travel) just in case there was an issue. I am happy to report that all was well.

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I drank the Guinness in this pub call the George and Dragon. You may not be able to read it from the picture, but apparently the George and Dragon was the meeting place of the Promoters’ of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in February, 1820.

According to Wikipedia, the Stockton & Darlington Railway “was a railway company that operated in north-east England from 1825 to 1863.” According to my English colleague (and the sign outside of the George and Dragon), this railway was the first public railway in the entire world. Additionally, the building where the pub was located used to be a market inn and coach house, with stables for horses. Lastly, this pub won the “Cask Marque”, which pretty much means they pour a freaking great pint of beer. I can attest to this because the Guinness, as mentioned above, was really good.

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My colleagues and I stayed in the Best Western Parkmore in Stockton-on-Tees. The hotel was sufficient for our purposes, but wasn’t anything fancy. About a fifteen minute walk from the hotel was this cute little town called Yarm. According to Wikipedia, “Yarm is a small town in the ceremonial county of North Yorkshire, England. The town is on the south bank of the River Tees and is historically part of the North Riding of Yorkshire.” I found it really cool that they still had the old style red telephone booths (on the right of the above picture) and the red post boxes (on the left).  The red post boxes had the initials “ER” on then, which means “Elizabeth Regina”, for the Queen of England. Yarm was a gluten-free paradise. We ate at restaurants called Muse and Cena. Since I was in England, I had to get the rice pudding at both places — the one at Muse was much better. At Cena the gluten-free pizza is simply amazing — you would never know it was gluten free.

resize.20190119_0925371194758444When we got back to the airport, we were rather surprised that we had to pay 6 pounds as an “airport fee”. Durham Tees Valley Airport is a very small airport with only 3 gates or so. I am not sure why they require this additional fee from people who are flying out of the airport. Maybe it is seldom used or doesn’t get proper federal funding? Whatever the reason it was annoying because the fee machines only accepted EXACT change. I only had a 20 pound note and a 5 pound note, so I had to get change from a change machine — which only dispensed 1 pound coins. Sigh. As an interesting aside, the 5 and 10 pound notes are made out of plastic rather than paper, just like in Canada.

All in all, I would say the business trip was a success. The training I gave to my colleagues went well, and I was even able to get in a little bit of site seeing. Stay tuned for the next business trip installment: Japan and China.

 

 

Christmas Markets in Linz

According to Wikipedia:

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“A Christmas market, also known as Christkindlmarkt (literally: Baby Jesus Market), ChristkindlesmarktChristkindlmarketChristkindlimarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt, is a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent. These markets originated in Germany, but are now being held in many other countries.[1] The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German-speaking part of Europe, and in many parts of the former Holy Roman Empire that includes many eastern regions of France.[1] The Christmas markets of Bautzen were first held in 1384.[2] Dresden‘s Striezelmarkt was first held in 1434. Frankfurt was first mentioned in 1393, Munich in 1310, and Augsburg in 1498. In Austria, Vienna’s “December market” can be considered a forerunner of Christmas markets and dates back to 1298.[3]

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Thanksgiving in Austria

One of the things that I miss about America, is celebrating Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is an American national holiday which occurs on the third Thursday of November.

According to the History website, “Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2018 occurs on Thursday, November 22. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states. It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be held each November.” To learn more about Thanksgiving, click on the attached link.

Last year I hosted a Thanksgiving at my apartment, but it was super complicated. This year I decided to host a dinner at Tamu Sana, an East African restaurant in Linz. If you go with four or more people, you can order the family style meal. You can tell them whether you want vegetarian or meat.

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Jægersborggade, Copenhagen

Once ruled by gangs, this cute little street in Copenhagen has been taken over by unique shops, including artist galleries, second-hand clothing stores, organic eateries, and cafes.

My boyfriend and I spent hours on this street, just popping into the little shops and browsing.  On the weekend there are limited hours (sometimes only 11-2pm), so if you plan to visit, you should pay attention to the opening hours.

Some of our favorites:

1. The Coffee Collective: Roastery and Coffeebar

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Copenhagen is much more expensive than in Austria.  In Austria, a good latte can be purchased for around €3-€4 at a cafe.  In Copenhagen, we spent around €6 per latte.  Since I cannot eat gluten, I left it to my boyfriend to try the Danish pastries.  The one depicted below is basically a cinnamon roll, which I am told was delicious.  And, since I am addicted to Kombucha, I had to try the coffee Kombucha.  It had a very unique flavor which I will definitely have to try to recreate at home.

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Kombucha Honey Mustard: Part 2

How to make delicious kombucha honey mustard:

  1. Brew kombucha like normal, and wait until it becomes vinegar.
  2. Place 1/2 cup of yellow mustard seeds in a jar, and cover them with the kombucha vinegar.  It is possible that the seeds will plump up slightly as they soak.  If the mustard seeds start popping over the top of the kombucha vinegar, cover them with more kombucha vinegar.
  3. Let the seeds soak for at least 3 days (I waited 6 days).
  4. After waiting the sufficient amount of time, pour the whole jar into the blender
  5. Add 1 1/4 teaspoons tumeric and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  I added 1/2 a clove of garlic, but at the end of the day I didn’t like the taste of it in the mustard, so I would say to not use it.
  6. Add 5 teaspoons of honey
  7. Blend.  If the consistency is too grainy, keep adding more kombucha vinegar until smooth.

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Kombucha Honey Mustard: Part 1

I remember the exact moment when I first tried kombucha. I was in the passenger seat of the car in the parking lot of a Whole Foods in Long Island New York.  My ex-husband had bought a rather expensive (something like $3) green carbonated drink, which he said was supposed to be really healthy.

I took a sip and was like, “uck, that’s disgusting!”

It was super sour and the base flavor was not that great. It would be my first taste of G.T.’s, one of the the biggest kombucha brewers in the US.

Since it was supposed to be good for me, when we went back to Whole Foods the next weekend, I tried it again, this time the Passionberry Bliss flavor.  My second try went much better, and I was soon hooked!

Since I was on a limited budget (damn law school loans), spending $3 a bottle a day on kombucha (x2 people), was just not in the budget.  I was seriously bummed out. However, after doing some research online, I was delighted to discover that I could brew ‘buch at home for a fraction of the price!

mustard seeds from Sonnentor soaking in kombucha vinegar

Since I have some extra kombucha vinegar laying around, I decided to get creative.  Eric and Jessica Childs (founders of Kombucha Brooklyn in New York City) in their book Kombucha! had a really interesting recipe for kombucha mustard.  I like mustard, so I decided to give it a shot.

Stay tuned for the results!

Top 10 at the Jersey Shore

1. Kohr’s Frozen Custard. If you like icecream, you will love Kohr’s. It is so thick and creamy. The best flavor by far is the orange / vanilla twist. You can find it at the Pt. Pleasant Beach boardwalk, down by Jenkinsons.

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Left: Pumpkin / vanilla twist. Right: Orange / vanilla twist

2. Mueller’s Bakery. Around since the late 1800’s, this place is great for baked goods. It used to have much better coffee (when it was brewed fresh). I guess due to supply and demand issues, the coffee is brewed and put into “self-service” pots against the back wall of the bakery. If you don’t come just when it was brewed, you could be disappointed.

Mueller’s Bakery

3. Martell’s Tiki Bar. This place is super fun during the summer months. On the weekends they usually have live bands. There is a bar conveniently located at the end of the pier, so you can enjoy a drink and watch the waves crash against the shore.

Tiki Bar Pier

4. Jenkinson’s Sweet Shop. This sweet shop is open year round, and is a great place to get homemade fudge and New Jersey saltwater taffy.

Ask for a taste test of the homemade fudge. My favorite is the peanut butter chocolate.

Homemade Fudge

Taffy comes in all sorts of flavors and makes a great gift!

Salt water taffy

5. Jenkinson’s Aquarium. Located at the end of the commercial portion of the boardwalk, this place is really fun for kids (and even if you are an adult). The animals are really nice to see, and there are shows (like feeding the Penguins) that you can watch. We would always take my niece and nephew here on the weekends–especially if it was a rainy day.

Aquarium

6. Running on the Boardwalk. The boardwalk is about 1 mile long, and is a great place to run (in the off season). Since it is super croweded during the on-season, I cannot recommend this as a good place to run, unless you come either really early in the morning or really late.

The View from the End of the Boardwalk

7. Bayhead. Bayhead is a cute little town near to Pt. Pleasant Beach. It has quaint little shops (e.g. Coffee at Noon) and is an overall good place just to walk around and see the sights.

Walking Around Bayhead

8. Sushi. Living in Austria, American style sushi is hard to come by, so whenever I am in town I love to go out for sushi. My favorite place is a small restaurant in Normandy Beach called Blue Sushi. The food is fresh and tasty. The restaurant is BYOB. Price for Amazing Roll was $17, and 3 pieces of sashimi was $6. A normal roll like Spicy Tuna was about $7. If sushi is not your thing, they also had typical Japanese restaurant food, like Udon noodle soup and teryaki.

Amazing Roll and White Tuna Sashimi

9. Spikes: My family and I have been going to spikes for decades. It is a small fish market and restaurant with wooden tables and benches.  The food is always fresh and consistently good.  If you go in the summer time, expect to wait up to an hour for an available table as they do not take reservations.

10. Local Urban Kitchen. This little restaurant has great food (vegan and gluten free options available), great coffee, and homebrewed teas. I meant to take a picture of the blackbean burger on gluten free bread, with raw kale chips, but I was so hungry and it looked so good that I totally forgot.  After lunch, I had a non-fat latte. My tastebuds thanked me.  Being a kombucha homebrewer and general kombucha enthusiast, I had to try the kombucha on tap.  It was lavender-mint flavored, and was very crisp and refreshing. Kulture Kombucha is a local NJ brewery.

 

 

 

Local Urban Kitchen, Pt. Pleasant NJ

My mom and I had just finished our 5k run / walk at the boardwalk, and we decided to go for lunch. Local Urban Kitchen opened at the Pt. Pleasant location in 2014.  In the last four years, I think that I have only been here a couple of times — this was definetely my huge loss!

Everything in the restaurant is locally sourced and is just absolutely fresh and delicious. There are tons of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options, which for me is a huge PLUS! Their website also mentions that the tables and benches are handbuilt and “upcycled” by a local contractor, and the plates are made by a local potter.

Craving good coffee? This place hits the spot.  If you are feeling adventurous, you could even try fall inspired flavors like vanilla maple or pumpkin.

What can I say about kombucha that isn’t positive?  As a homebrewer and general kombucha lover, I have tried many different flavors and breweries. On tap at the Local Urban Kitchen is Kulture Kombucha‘s lavender mint. They also sell a variety of flavors in bottles. Definetely worth a try!

Kohr’s Frozen Custard, Pt. Pleasant Beach NJ

I have been coming to Pt. Pleasant Beach for the past 20+ years. Kohr’s frozen custard shop on the boardwalk is a staple of the Jersey Shore experience. It is the best icecream I have ever had (it is so thick and creamy). Whenever I take a lick, I am transported back to the summer of my childhood, spent playing in the waves and building castles in the sand.

Custard on the left is Pumpkin spice / vanilla twist. Custard on the right is orange / vanilla twist.

Coffee at Noon, Bayhead NJ

Coffee at Noon is a cute little shop in Bayhead that not only has a coffee bar, but also sells American handmade jewelry, soap, and other home goods. The cold brew coffee was really good (and something I needed after drinking nothing but Keurig coffee since coming back to the US).  It was a little pricey however, at a 2-for-1 price of $2.50 each cold brew. If you are in Bayhead, this would be a nice little shop to visit, even just to browse the unique handcrafted goods.