Food and drink in Queenstown

Instead of doing multiple posts on all the places we ate at, I thought I would just do one post and lump them all in together. Apologies in advance for my inadequacy when it comes to photographing food!

On our first evening in Queenstown, after taking a trip to Paradise, we chose to go to a place we had spotted while looking for the hotel: Smiths Craft Beer House. We originally went for the beer, but ended up eating some of the most delicious pub food I’ve had in a while! I went for venison pie (mmm, Bambi! Sorry vegetarians!) while Jan chose the vegan burger, which consisted of a kumura (sweet potato) pattie with salad and pesto, served with hand cut fries and the most amazing aioli!

Obviously beer was consumed. I can’t remember the names of all the ones we sampled, but this one was definitely among them:

DSCN6408
Why bother giving your beer a fancy name?

It was actually quite nice, despite the lack of creativity in the name 😉

On the second night, we went to The World Bar, because my sister’s boyfriend had recommended it. Their main claim to fame is that they serve cocktails in teapots. We initially decided to go for something slightly less strong though and chose some interesting sounding ciders from the menu. To eat, I went for “Chicken & Waffles” which, as the name suggests, consisted of southern fried chicken on waffles. It also came with bacon and maple syrup. The combination sounded intriguing, but the chicken was quite fatty and not that nice. Jan had some quinoa wrap thing, which was quite tasty (if incredibly trendy!). Definitely the better choice!

Obviously we had to partake in teapot cocktails, if only so I could take a picture to send to my sister’s boyfriend! Mine was called Bloom and tasted exactly like a strawberry Mini Milk, but with alcohol.

DSCN6807

The teapot came with shot glasses to drink it from, but trying to pour it into them was messy! Much easier to stick a straw in the teapot…

The cocktails are fun, but other that I wouldn’t say The World Bar is an absolute must when you’re in Queenstown. (Sorry A!).

On night three, we went to another beer place on the recommendation of our wine tour guide! We mentioned that we had been to Smith’s, so he suggested we try out Atlas Beer Cafe. According to him, they have the best steak and chips in Queenstown… I can’t comment on that though since Jan and I both chose beef sausage on kumara mash (are you sensing a theme here?). It was absolutely delicious – more than making up for the previous night’s disappointing chicken!

We both chose to drink beer by Altitude here since it’s a local brewing company. Unfortunately neither of the ones we tried was particularly to our taste. Oh well, you win some, you lose some!

The next night we went to a fish restaurant where I took no pictures, but was asked for the first time in my life how I wanted my salmon cooked! (They recommended “medium rare”, I went for it and it was delicious!), so to the final night…

Our last night in Queenstown was Good Friday. According to New Zealand law, alcohol is not allowed to be sold on Good Friday… unless you’re having it with a meal! Many places were just closed entirely, some were open for dinner then planned to close afterwards, opening again at midnight (when it wouldn’t be a holiday any more…). Everywhere was absolutely packed! We managed to find some room at a table in  Pub on Wharf though (yes.. that’s its name. Who needs articles?). This time Jan had salmon (because it came with wasabi mash), while I chose pork belly stuffed with apricot, sage and onion and served with mash, veg and apple sauce. It was a good choice! The beer on tap was from Mac’s brewery, and it was all very tasty. Win!

Overall, I can recommend every single place we ate at… except maybe The World Bar. I’ll leave that one for the youngsters and party animals, I think 😉

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde, Paris

One of the girls we met at the Night Vale event told us about this bar, and as soon as she did we knew we had to go! Those of you who understand French may have already realised why. For those who don’t, Le dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde means “the last bar at the end of the world” and it’s exactly what it sounds like! Inside the bar, you can find various items relating to popular geek culture. For instance, on entering we were directed to go to the “second basement” because the upper floors were full. Arriving in the second basement, the first thing we saw was this:

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde

There was also a door made to look like the entrance to the TARDIS (I didn’t take a photo of that) – and the inside was indeed bigger than the outside made it look 😉
Here are some more random photos, some by me and some by Jan:

The bar is a cocktail bar, and also has a few interesting shots. There were four of us (me, Jan, K and the girl from Night Vale), so we decided to go for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles round of shots. I chose red which – as I’m sure you all know – is Raphael. Not because he’s my favourite turtle, but because that’s my favourite colour. And yes, they serve a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster cocktail. I didn’t try it because it’s a gin cocktail and I’m not into gin, but they also had one called 42 which contains violet and tastes like an alcoholic version of Parma Violets, except much, much nicer. (UK readers will know what I’m talking about).

The cocktails are fairly expensive, but no more so than other places in Paris, and personally I liked every one I had (I wasn’t too keen on one of Jan’s, but I knew I wouldn’t be just from the ingredients!). We were advised to eat beforehand because the food apparently isn’t all that great, although it is amusingly named. For example there was a lemon tart called Pac-Man (I wonder whether it was also shaped accordingly?) and an assortment of tapas going by the name Inigo Montoya. Just reading through the menu and seeing what we recognised was a lot of fun! According to Jan, there is also a video game in the urinal, but obviously I wouldn’t know anything about that…

If you ever find yourself in Paris and you’re into video games, anime, science fiction or basically anything that be considered in some way geeky, I recommend visiting this bar… and be sure to check out every room. There’s a lot to see! I didn’t recognise every reference, but that really doesn’t matter 🙂

Le Dernier Bar Avant La Fin du Monde is located at 19 avenue Victoria. The nearest Metro station is Châtelet.

Cocktails at KofferRaum

(Apologies in advance for the quality of some of the photos in this post… my camera appears to be failing on me, and now utterly refuses to focus on anything at all!)

As I mentioned in my last post, Friday was the 8-year anniversary of me moving to Karlsruhe! When Jan suggested going out for a drink that night, I don’t think he was intending it as a celebration of that fact, but I’ll take any excuse 😉 Most of our friends were busy or out of town, so it ended up being Jan, K and I. We decided to go to KofferRaum – a popular cocktail bar in town – and by some miracle we actually got in! I think this was our fourth try… every other time it was completely full, and we were either told “not tonight” or “maybe try again in an hour?”. This time we got lucky… with only three of us, we were able to squish into a little corner by the bar. We were positioned next to a little “window” (well, gap in the wall), where you could see through to behind the wall, so of course my first act was to take a photo of the alcohol next to us.

The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron
The Union Jack bottle contains Beefeater gin infused with saffron

Fun fact: Kofferraum is German for the booto (trunk) of a car. It is made up of the two words Koffer, meaning suitcase, and Raum, meaning room or space. Jan told me the owner of the bar’s surname is Koffer, so there’s a bit of a play on words going on there. And there were suitcases standing at various points in the room, obviously 😉

I don’t actually remember the names of any of the cocktails we had, but here’s a photo of Jan’s and my first ones. Mine is on the right… I remember it contained run and passionfruit juice, but that’s it. It tasted very nice though.

cocktails

I also had to take a photo of the top of my friend’s first drink because I’m a sucker for cutsey things and her apple slices had tiny hearts cut into them. All together now… “awww!”

How cute?
How cute?

Later, Jan decided he felt a bit peckish and ordered some food. At the other cocktail bar we like, the snacks include nachos… but nothing so common for KofferRaum 😉 He ordered some Italian sausage with parmesan, and this is what arrived:

KofferRaum

And very tasty it was, too!

The cocktails at KofferRaum are more expensive than at other places in Karlsruhe (between €8 and €11 euros each), but they are all made using the very best alcohol and things like fresh herbs (my second cocktail contained a large sprig of fresh sage), so you get what you pay for. The waiters also come around with free cucumber-infused tap water for all guests… usually unheard of in Germany!

If you’d like to go to KofferRaum on a weekend, I highly recommend turning up early otherwise you will not find a place to sit! (And it’s not the kind of place where you can just stand anywhere). You’ll find Hirschstraße 17 (south of Europaplatz) and they’re open from 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Be warned, the cocktails are all quite strong, but at that price you’ll probably be wanting to pace yourself anyway!

Basel, Switzerland

When I was first speaking to my brother about where he would like to go while visiting us, Basel was one of the places he specifically asked to visit as he’d never been to Switzerland before. It’s within perfect day tripping distance from Karlsruhe and I wanted to eat fondue in Switzerland anyway, so I was happy with his choice. there is an express train from Karlsruhe to Basel which takes about an hour and a half, but we decided to drive down. We parked near the Badische Bahnhof, which is a joint operation between Deutsche Bahn and Swiss rail, meaning it is covered by the German rail pass, the Schönes Wochenende Ticket and the Baden-Württemberg ticket. The latter two can only be used on regional trains though, which will increase the journey time to one and a half hours from Karlsruhe and mean changing trains at least once (in Offenburg or Freiburg). From the Badische Bahnhof it is roughly a 20 minute walk into town.

Crosing the River Rhine on our way into town
Crosing the River Rhine on our way into town

Our first stop in town was at Basel Cathedral. It was a hot day and we were quite glad of the relative coolness inside the church! The first picture below is of the square in front of the cathedral (taken facing away from the cathedral)… one of those buildings is a school, believe it or not!

By the time we’d finished with the cathedral, we were starting to get hungry so we headed off in search of some lunch. I’ve already written about our search for fondue here. After lunch, we continued our walk around the city and came to a small market where there was a stand selling frozen yoghurt. Despite our big lunch, we all agreed that a nice, cold frozen yoghurt would go down well (I told you it was a hot day!). I chose forest fruits as my topping.

It must be yummy... the carton says so ;-)
It must be yummy… the carton says so 😉

Frozen yoghurts consumed, we headed up to Theaterplatz for a look at the Tinguely Fountain, a water feature consisting of slightly bizarre machine structures in a large pool. It’s quite fascinating! Jean Tinguely was born in Basel but later moved to France. This fountain was installed in 1977.

A walk through the narrow mediavel alleyways of the old town is a must while in Basel, so that’s what we did next. This area is beautiful, and you’ll occasionally see something unusual too… like a model rhino?!

Our walk through the old town eventually lead us to Marktplatz  – Market Square – and the town hall. I couldn’t get far enough aways to get a decent picture of the front with my tiny camera, so I stole the first two photos below from my brother 😉 Phones with their wide screens are much better for getting photos of long things! The sculpture in the inner courtyard is called “Enemies United”.

After checking out the town hall from all angles, we decided to leave Basel and take the scenic route back to Karlsruhe through the countryside. Then we headed to one of my favourite places in Karlsruhe for some cocktails. I also decided to have a mango and avocado salad, which came with walnuts and parmesan. Not a combination that would ever have occurred to me, but it was delicious! The perfect end to a lovely day.

~ I am counting Basel as my August 2014 trip for the Take 12 Trips challenge ~

My bee-day party

Yesterday was an interesting day. First, I left my purse at home and only realised when I was sitting on the train ready to go to work. Luckily I was able to get back off the train just before the doors closed, then I power walked home, got my purse and took a tram back to the station in time for the 8 o’clock train… all within 24 minutes. Miraculously, I actually got a seat on the second train… I tend to avoid that one because I always end up standing in the corridor, which is not what I want that early in the morning. Then, after work, I arrived at the train station ready to go home only to find police on my platform and the Bahn personnel telling everyone to go away. I headed back up to the departures boards to wait for them to announce where my train would be arriving and decided to treat myself to a Magnum while I waited. To get to the new platform, I had to pass the steps leading up to my original platform, which I saw were now taped off with Deutsche Bahn employees standing at the bottom stopping anyone from getting up there. As soon as I got home, I googled to try and find out what was going on, but the Internet had no information. Nothing in the news this morning either… curious!

But that’s not really what I want to talk about today…
What I do want to do is finally tell you about my birthday party! But first, some background.

I like bees, and one of my nicknames used to be Bee (for the first letter of my name, but written out), so a few years ago, I mentioned to Jan that one day I would like to have a “bee-day” party. The idea was that I would get people to dress in either black, yellow or black and yellow (black and yellow stripes would, of course, be perfect), decorate the flat with bees and have bee-themed food and drinks. I then didn’t have a birthday party for a couple of years for various reasons (last year I went to Sweden the day after my birthday, for example) and kind of forgot about the idea… until I found bee glasses at Claire’s in Dublin. I bought them, saying “these would be perfect if I ever do decide to have a bee-day party!”, then found myself explaining my idea to the friends who were travelling with me.

Bee glasses
Bee glasses

Fast forward to my 30th birthday… Jan’s gift to me was a dress with bees all over it. He made me try it on straight away to make sure it fit, then said he would like me to wear it at my birthday party that weekend. I had originally planned to wear a dress my mum bought me, but was easily persuaded to go for the bee dress instead (did I mention I like bees?!)

The Saturday after my birthday was the day of my party. We had arranged to have it at a relatively new bar/café called Soul, which does interesting cocktails and excellent food, including delicious homemade ice cream and excellent mozzerella Maultaschen in garlic butter. If you live in Karlsruhe, you should, check it out! We had the room from 7 pm, so Jan and I went a little early along with a friend who was staying at mine that night (it’s difficult for her to get back to where she lives late at night). We arranged the few last-minute details, then settled down outside with a portion of ice cream each. Then, at just before seven, Jan went off to see whether anyone was coming yet (the plan being to move inside when people started arriving so they would find us).

He was gone for quite a while, and my friend and I had started to joke that he’d run off leaving us to pay the bill, then he turned up with the group of friens I go to the quiz with. All of them (including Jan now) were wearing yellow and black striped T-shirts and my friend K (I really need to think of better pseudonyms for people…) was carrying a cake. This cake:

bee cake

How adorable is that? Underneath the icing is chocolate Guinness cake… which is delicious! Don’t let the Guinness put you off – it really does taste good! They also had bee-themed gifts… despite the fact that I had already received my gifts from them on my actual birthday (a Tina Dico CD and a bunch of flowers, in case anyone’s wondering). I got some honey, a bee-shaped ballon and this:

My pillow pal
My pillow pal

I’ve named him Johnny Bee (geddit?).

Jan had arranged with the bar owner that he would pay for everyone’s first cocktail plus crostini for everyone, and I had asked for everyone to be given a glass of Prosecco when they came in so we could do the glass-clinking thing. The crostini were really good – at least the tomato-mozzerella and the red pesto ones were. I didn’t try the others (the toppings contained things I don’t like) but they seemed to go down well… they disappeared quickly enough anyway! The cocktails were tasty too, and as far as I can tell everyone had a good time. I know I did!

Thank you to my amazing friends and boyfriend for arranging it all! ♥♥

And now I have to go cross stitch… my friend most inconsiderately went and gave birth and I’m not finished yet 😉

Cocktails and cross dressing

Hello!
I kind of neglected my blog this weekend… mostly because I was busy, but also because I had nothing much to say. Now that my 30 German Towns Before 30 challenge is over, I don’t have a ready-made filler topic any more! Will have to find something new to post about! (And on a side note, why to I misspell “because” 9 out of 10 times when I type it?!).

Blue alarm clock
Follow the alarm clock… you know you want to! (Photo: Wikipedia)

Anyway… I’m sure you’re all wondering what I did with my last weekend in my 20s… and if you’re not, tough! I’m going to tell you anyway 😉 But before I do, a favour.  My friend is taking part in GISHWHES… which stands for the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen, and as part of it her team’s alarm clock Twitter account needs 200 followers. Nope, I have no idea why an alarm clock either! But I’m sure it would help very much if all my lovely bloggy friends could follow the Twitter account: @TeamBrokenAngel. It’s only for a week… and also the whole thing is for charity. Thank you lovelies!!

So… what did I do this weekend? Well, on Friday night my friend came round for tea. We ate homemade burgers and homemade chips, drank wine and chatted about life, the universe and everything.

On Saturday I spent most of the day going round every clothes shop in Karlsruhe in search of hotpants and fishnets, among other things. Do you know how difficult it is to find black hotpants when every shop has already switched to the autumn collection, despite the fact that it’s only August? The answer you’re looking for is very!

That evening, Jan and I headed to somewhere near Bruchsal to watch a friend of ours perform. She had been taking part in a workshop for aspiring choir conductors and the performance was their final concert. Instead of an entire program made up of different songs, they only performed a few songs, but with a different conductor each time so that the audience could hear how different ways of conducting influences the sound of the song. Very cool! On the way home, I remembered that it was my final weekend before turning 30, so Jan suggested going for a cocktail. We went to the same place where I’ll be celebrating my birthday, and Jan was able to speak to the person in charge, so the party is now basically sorted. Woo hoo!

Rocky horror lips!
Rocky Horror lips (Photo: glyn_nelson)

Sunday then marked the official start of my birthday celebrations… and the reason I was on a hunt for fishnets!
Knowing how much I like musicals, Jan had bought us tickets for The Rocky Horror Show! It’s part of my birthday present, but because yesterday was the last day of the current run, it had to be done before my actual birthday. And naturally I had to go in costume… where’s the fun in going to Rocky in normal clothes? We went as a group of six, three of whom were male, and we even managed to persuade the guys to dress in women’s clothing… well, what did you think the title of this post was about? 😉 It was… “interesting” seeing the show performed in German, especially since the songs were still in English! But once I got used to the sudden switches it was quite enjoyable, and all in all, I thought they did a very good job, especially considering it was a small theatre! Because we all went in costume, we each got a small bag of props, which was a new experience for me! Last time I went, the theatre didn’t allow props. Chucking toilet roll around a theatre is a lot of fun, let me tell you! 😀

The last time I saw the Rocky Horror Show, it was the official 30th Anniversary Tour in 2003. This year, in June, the show celebrated its 40th anniversary. I suppose that means I’d better watch it again in ten years for the 50th anniversary show. Traditions must be upheld, after all! 😉

(P.s. If you’re wondering how I’m posting so early on a work day… it’s because for once I have time for a proper lunch break! ;-))

Cross stitch, cocktails and a new dress

Hi!
Did you all have a good weekend? Mine flew by too fast, as usual, but I managed to cram a lot in.

On Saturday, I dragged the boyfriend shopping with me. After weeks of failure, I wanted to finally purchase a dress for the christening I’m going to in 2 weeks and I needed him along for a second opinion. We ended up in a shop called BiBa, which I’ve never been in before, and after trying on a dress that made me look completely shapeless, the shop assistant remembered something else they had in stock and came back with something else for me to try on. It fit, it emphasised my good bits (whilst hiding the worst of the lumps and bumps) and I liked the colours… even the little bit of pink on the front didn’t disturb me too much (I hate pink!). And – best of all – it was size XS (something I suspect had more to do with the shop’s sizing system than me). Jan liked it as well, so we decided to go with it, even though it cost slightly more than I had been planning to spend.
And now I bet you all want to see the dress, don’t you? OK… here it is:

Dress

That evening, we went to Karlsruhe’s beach bar. One of our friends couldn’t believe we’d never been, and insisted that we take the opportunity now the weather is finally nice. It could very well be raining again by this time next week, and there isn’t that much of the summer left any more. The place itself was nice enough… it’s on the roof of a multi-story carpark, which is pretty cool. You can watch the birds and, once it gets dark, see the stars. The service was incredibly slow though, and the cocktails I tried were a bit meh. The Mojito Razz (raspbery mojito made using Bacardi Razz) was nice enough, but the Hugo was far too sweet and Jan’s Sundowner was awful! Later, we moved on to a new place that Jan and I have walked past a couple of times and been meaning to check out. The Strawberry Colada I had there was amazing! Not too sweet and made with real strawberries.

Cocktails at Soul
Cocktails at Soul

Sunday was mostly spent alternating between housework and cross stitch. Once again, I’m rushing to get a gift finished in time for an event (last time it was a wedding, this time it’s a birth). Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Anyone feel like guessing what it's going to be? ;-)
Anyone feel like guessing what it’s going to be? 😉

I still have a long way to go before it even starts to resemble a picture! Guess what I’ll be doing with my evenings this week…
On Sunday evening, we were invited round to a friend’s place for dinner. We had peach chicken with couscous, which was delicious! This was followed by chocolate fondue with plenty of fruit for dipping. My waist line did not thank me, but it was so, so worth it! I also indulged in some Pimms and lemonade (now that’s what they Aldi should have had for their British Isles week instead of Buck’s Fizz… Pimms!). Good food, good company and wine… could there be a more perfect way to finish the weekend?