Saturday, August 20, 2011

Die Grüne Bettlad, Bühl

Ahhhh to be 18....again. There's a point in a woman's life ( probably after celebrating   her 18th b-day , for the **th time) when weighing scales, mirrors and occasional throbs of headache in the morning tops her chart of most hated nemesis. That's how it is to me, anyway. Another year older and I asked myself again, how did life treated me in the previous  year?  Life's jolty ride sometimes gives me occasional abrupt sways,a  little too hard. Some  people read chicken soup for the soul, I don't. I sit ,I contemplate and talk  myself off the ledge. So when the road I took, leads me to a particularly bumpy and   narrow end, I often say to myself, everything's going to be alright.  So how did I thrive   this year?

Gained another kilogram: check! Greying hair,check! Deepening wrinkle crease between the eyebrows,check!( Why  don't I get a laugh line instead?)  Worsening eyesight, check .Bad hair day...almost every day, check! Mild hearing impairment...gulp, check! Then reality hits me. Procrastination had  unconsciously invaded my system and is now running through my veins! I'm getting superficial , old and superficial! I put too much value at things that are of less importance. With millions of people and children across the globe,  getting all emaciated and hungry, I worry too much  about my excess baggages that was caused by enjoying food,  a little too much.  I should be more grateful. Grateful   for having a roof over my head,  for  having a job that sustains my needs   and yes for having a full square meal and a snack a day.

Thinking about the things that I have,do makes me feel  grateful. My life is devoid of flair and luxury, sloping a bit to occasional boredom but there's still a lot in it to be gracious and happy about. To be  alive , healthy and up and about is a wonderful gift in itself.  I guess realization and acceptance comes a tad bit easier with age. Well, at least that's in my case. To prove that, I decided to have a quiet and intimate celebration with FF. No big crowd,no fancy dress, no candle blowing or  cake slicing, oh ho! No howling of happy birthday song and no party! Just a simple but nice evening together and I would not have it any other way.

FF got to choose where we will dine. He brought me here, Die Grüne Bettlag in Bühl, a 400 year old half timber house turned hotel and restaurant that's  almost hidden in the  outskirts of  our neighboring town.  It looks inconspicuous from the outside but  it is famous for serving good  food. When you are in Germany, reputation  precedes you and in the restaurant  business, sometimes, it is all that matters. A restaurant might be perched on top of an active volcano about to spit liquid, molten  lava but if it makes very good gulasch , then people will still look for it.

Stepping into this restaurant is like getting inside a doll house. The wall and low ceiling is filled with versatile collection of artistic woodworks,  intricately detailed porcelain wares, painting and playful ornaments that are both catchy and unique. Each piece different, somehow miss matches the other,  yet each element contributes an  allure and perkiness to the whole place.

In Grüne Bettlag, they do pay a lot of attention to details. The copper plated ornamentation, gives the olive green wall an interesting contrast. A takure (Kettle) as an over head lamp and a vintage, brass, coal-filled iron  as side lamp? I gave them an A for the shere dare and yes, creativity. The whole place is packed with things both entertaining and interesting without making you feel constricted, on the contrary it creates a sense of coziness.

 Service was in my opinion, a bit impersonal, far from engaging but efficient, however we did not come here to make the owner and waitress our new bestfriend. We came here to enjoy good food. Menu is limited, with only few dishes per course. Although choices are rather scarce,what they make, they make it very well.

Amuse bouche of thinly sliced, lightly smoked poultry with a savory  tuna infused sauce. An interesting  concoction . The sauce is both thick and a bit grainy with a very subtle hint of tuna flavor. We got a basket of bread , still a bit warm and  judging from its crispy crust and  oven fresh smell, it was  freshly baked. 

  The Starters
Hausgemachte Gänseleberterrine mit Schwarzwälder Kisrchwasser mariniert 

FF's first course:  Foie Gras terrine marinated in Black Forest Kirschwasser served with green salad. The thick slab of goose liver had a strong hint of the regional Schnaps. Too much for a non alcohol drinker like me. I usually wouldn't pass on a foie gras dish, but after reading what goes with this delicacy, I did not dare order. FF on the contrary enjoyed it, claimed that it was rich, smooth and a bit too heavy . To tweak the dish a bit, he ordered a glass Gewürztraminer Auslese. A refreshing  , sweetish white wine that goes wonderfully well with  foie gras . A homemade and warm buttery broiche was served with this course.

Ragoût von Krustentieren in Krustentiersauce mit Maultäschle

Crustacean ragout in crustacean sauce served with  pasta square. Holy broccoli! As it reaches our table, served in plate as wide a  family sized  pizza and scalding hot that  it slowly steams my mascara away as I look at it transfixed, I know  that this, will be my favorite meal of the night. How do I describe it? Chunky! The crustaceanssshalleluya are generously portioned, fresh and exquisitely flavored. There's smorgasbord of lobsters and big prawns and things pale, peeled ,cooked and inviting,  I want to weep. For once, I got to enjoy crustaceans without battling with its protective cocoon, that never cease to shield the animal from within, even if its dead and slathered in savory bisque. I don't know about you, but I hate the tedious work of peeling shrimps, lobster, not to mention the delicious but hard shelled crabs, especially if there's hot and thick sauce involve. Throw in FF's order, who for the love of Cleopatra, would not touch his food with his bare hands even if his life depends on it, it often put my appetite off  seafood dishes.Emily the humanoid crustaceans sheller, is having a day off  today, if you catch my drift. This is such a treat. FF had a glass of Chardonnay with this dish, I had my usual: diet coke, connoisseur...not!

The main dishes

Lammrückenscheiben vom irischen Lamm an Pinien-Kräuterkruste mit Gemuse und Kartoffelgratin

Me: How was your lamb?
FF:  Good
Me: How was the sauce?
FF: Good.
Me. Is it tender?
FF: Yes.
Me: Is it done right?
FF: Yes.
Me. No hint of gameyness in it?
FF: Huh?

A man of few words, that's my husband. I guess his main course , Saddle of Irish lamb  with pine and herb crust,served with vegetable and potato gratin,was really good since he cleaned it all up, down to the last speck of rosemary leaf in no time. I did not give it a try even if he offered me a bite since I am not a big fan of lamb. I was  also struggling to finish my own dish.

Wolfsbarschfilet mit Safransauce, Nüdele, Tomaten und Zucchini

 Seabass filet in saffron sauce served with pasta , tomato and zucchini . No over the top presentation or fancy but what-did-I-just-order?- name, but a dish so simple yet so satisfying. The blend of flavors of pan fried fish fillet and saffron and tomatoes are already waltzing in my palate  long before it reaches our table.  My anticipating gustatory imagination did not steer me wrong. It tasted   just the way I imagine it would taste like, and it did not disappoint my tastebuds.  Each element in this dish spruce up something good in itself. The pasta was cooked al dente, half submerged and already drenched in saffron sauce. Tomatoes and zucchini remained crisp and almost crunchy and the seabass, oh my seabass.   Perfectly fried , laying almost lovingly on a blanket of sublime yet  savory golden sauce looking all defeated ,offering and calling out, ''eat me I'm all yours!''. I dig in, but two thick fillets are more than what I could handle. FF gladly finished off the third for me. Again, we don't have the heart to throw away food. It's like a principle, in respect for those who haven't got any on their table.

The Desserts

Gratin von frischen Früchten und eine Kugel Nusseis

Fresh fruit gratin served with  walnut ice cream (no picture, FF's  too fast to wolf it down before I could even say cheese:-) The gratin turned liquid once
scooped by a spoon. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and thin slices of pears are buried in hot and vanilley pudding like treasures.

Gewürz crème brûlée mit Fruchtsorbet

The fruit sorbet was refreshing, cool and have a nice textural pop. An excellent palate cleanser. It was served with few fresh berries for a soury kick which was mellowed down by a dust of powdered sugar. The Spiced creme brulee give my all time favorite dessert a nice twist. Along with the usual flambe sugar, there's a duster  but not overpowering hint of cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices I could not name.I still prefer my creme brulee, plain and classic, though.

On the house dessert treat, strawberry tarts and German cheesecakes. Served on a miniature icon die Grüne Bettlag which actually means the green four postered bed. A nice personal touch and a good way to end our meal!
 What do yah know, I did have  a Happy Birthday after all. Looking forward for the year ahead.

Grüne Bettlag
Blumenstraße 4
Bühl, Baden
07223 93130

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken Inasal

Filipino's propensity to anything  grilled/carcinogenic is no mystery. We grill pretty much everything we could get our hands on !  The sight of barbecuing meat or fish  could turn any docile Pinoy into a giberous, feral and  salivating Pavlov's hound minus the tail . Nothing tantalize us more than the aromatic and intoxicating smoke that clings into our clothes and hair, the blazing and  firey charcoal and the sight of meat, oozing and sweating out its own juice out as it sizzles and burns away. An animal's last act sacrifice to please the lesser beings and we are thoroughly grateful.

If only our two legged bestfriends know what  awaits them!Tsk! Tsk!

Photo from

Chicken is one of the most beloved grilled meat  by Pinoys. We love this animal so much , we use practically every anatomical part of it except its feathers. From it head, down to its feet , even its fatty, pointy end. We don't even stop there, we split the whole thing open and take everything out, clean it up and yes skew, drench it in flavorful marinade and put in on the grill.  An easy,  satisfying and cheap meal that goes wonderfully with rice, lots and lot of rice. We don't even need barbecue sauce for that! A splash of Datu Puti ( no he ain't rich and don't have 3 wives, it's a local vinegar made of coconut sap ), a bit of  soy sauce  with crushed chillies and garlic and we are the happy as happy could be ....throw in some ice cold beer  and we could be more than just merry.

Filipino Chicken Inasal ( barbecue) has  a lemony, soury tang and is characteristically---yellow. No our chickens didn't die of hepa but astuete oil or annato seed is used as basting sauce, giving it, its unique tinge.

The typical inasal recipe is pretty straight forward. Make the marinade, put the meat in it, let it suck all the flavors in and put it in the grill. No complicated  science. Marinade may vary in each region in the Philippines (We have a lot since Phil. got  7017 islands, depending on the tides). This recipe originally came from central Phil, famous to have the best inasal in the country. Was it really the best? Honestly I can not say, since I still have 7013 other islands to visit. This chicken inasal however, goes  to our  grill, into our plates and directly into our anticipating oral cavities, I almost forgot to spit the bones out...almost. Yes, it was that good!

Make marinade by combining:  1 cup of coconut vinegar, 1 cup Sprite ( 7 up will do, he he), 1/2 cup calamansi or lime juice, 1 thumb sized crated ginger, 5 crush garlic cloves, 3 tbsp. crushed lemongrass ( bottled but if you could get fresh stalks, that would be even better), 3 tbsp. of brown sugar, 2 tbsp. soy sauce and salt and pepper. Stir until everything is well combined, put chicken meat, which is cut into portions. Make some deep cut/slit  to speed up grilling time. Marinate meat for about an hour.

Make basting sauce. In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup margarine, add in some annato seeds. Take chicken out from the marinade, sieve marinade and discard chunky ingredients. Boil marinade until reduced to half and stir in Annato infused margarine.Grill chicken, basting generously . Simple but it would have you licking your fingers while eating. was that good.

This might cut my lifespan few weeks shorter but heck, I'm having it anyway!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Brazo de Mercedes made easy!

It's big ,it's pale and sagging and it's wobbly. Ok, perhaps I have to rename this recipe to Brazo de Emily and no I don't mean this:

I'm talking about something more appetizing than that!


I'm talking about this !
We have to give it to the Pinoys, our love for tongue in cheek names when it comes to food is simply stupendous if not lewd. Take for example the ''Adidas'' and no, it ain't German. It actually refers to chicken feet which is marinated, grilled and gnawed with beer. The  ''Betamax'', and no it's not the modern Blu Ray's forefather in the 80s but coagulated animal blood which is cubed and also grilled. Now,  how did we end up naming a calorie laden dessert after a woman's superior limb is beyond me. And who in the name of Zeus is Mercedes? A loving lola, a grunchy tiya,  a sugar addicted dalaga ? The possibilities  are endless. Who named this recipe after her? A reminisching apo, ditched boyfriend, jealous girlfriend? And why does it have to be named  after a woman in the first place? Why not call it, Pata de Marcelo or something?  For once, google seemed to fail me, this one remains a mystery. If food or pastry could get this delicious, I  wouldn't mind sharing my name, all of the sake of gastronimic delight.

Brazo de Emily Recipe (^_°)


Step 1: Make The Custard Filling

Heat 250 ml of fresh milk and 200 ml sweetened condense milk in a saucepan. If you like to make your custard sweeter and if your sugar demand is higher,  you can use the whole can ( 400 ml) of condense milk. Bring to a boil while stirring.Once the milk reaches scalding point, take the saucepan out of the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste.

Wow that's a lot of dead and unhatched chicken in one recipe!
Separate 10 ( yes 10! ) eggwhites and egg yolks. Put the egg yolks in a heat proof mixing bowl and add in 50 g of white sugar. Whisk until pale and thick.

Slowly add hot milk mixture into the beaten eggyolks while whisking constantly. Do not add all the hot liquid at once to avoid ''cooking'' the eggyolks, it will render a curdy custard.  Place mixing bowl  over a pot of simmering water. Stir using a wooden spoon.

Looking lickelicious!

The custard thickens as it cooks and thicker still as cools. Once it reaches a spreadable consistency, take it out from the water bath and set aside to cool. Try to keep your handsoff it. It's not Nutella! Although it tasted quite as delicious on a piece of toast.Hehe

Step 2. Make the meringue roll

Using an electric mixer, beat the 10 egg whites and 1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar until just frothy. Then gradualy add in 120 g of white sugar until a soft peak is formed. Keep the whisk rolling until eggwhites is stiff and shiny but try not to overbeat it.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Grease or lightly butter it to avoid maringue from sticking to it once baked. Transfer meringue into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

To give the roll its characteristic ridges, run a serrated scraper or knife over it. Baked meringue in a preheated oven at 120°C for 30-40 minutes or until it turns wonderfully brown. Once done, take it out from the oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Assemble the cake. Hurrah!

Run a thin knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the meringue. Dust meringue with powder sugar until well coated. The good thing about this recipe is, it  keeps you on high sugar level ,enabling you to hop around the house for hours like an  energy bunny.

Cover the Meringue with parchment paper..

Put a cookie pan or flat baking pan over it.

Turn the baking pan upside down and peel the parchment baking covering the maringue.Let it cool for few minutes.

Spread cold vanilla custard over the meringue but leave some space at the adges.

Roll tightly. Easily said than done. I was trying to roll the cake while taking some pictures. Looks like multi tasking and roulades don't go well together. My rolled cake end up looking rather flat. Emily vs. Rolled cake, rolled cake wiiiins! Thankfully, my brazo tasted way delicious than it looks!

Oh no, not that!

 I mean this!

Want my brazo?

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