Greetings from Strasbourg! August has been another jet-setting month for the Mosses. I had a conference in Bruges that overlapped with our 5th (!) wedding anniversary, so I decided to bring Aaron along and turn it into a bit of a European vacation. I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer to share a European-themed list of things I’ve been into this month.
One of the reasons I got into this link-up in the first place was for the book recommendations. Leigh always has such great book suggestions, and many of the other contributors do too. This month I read two books that I heard about from July link-up contributions. Sarah Prineas’ Ash and Bramble was so good–definitely a welcome addition to the redone fairy tales cannon. And as a book lover I enjoyed the suspense and book nerdery in Rachel Caine’s Ink and Bone, even though the premise was a little outlandish at times. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for both sequels. I also read and enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, especially the relationship between Hermione and Ron and between Albus and Scorpius.
I watched Florence Foster Jenkins in theatres this month, and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard all year. And yet I also teared up in other spots. If hearing Meryl Streep purposely butcher opera music is your thing (it’s definitely mine) I highly recommend it. Also, am I the only person raised on Veggietales who feels compelled to end every movie review with “I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.”
The Florence Foster Jenkins soundtrack, obviously (apologies to everyone I annoyed on the train with my muffled laughter). I’m also anxiously awaiting the release of All Sons and Daughters’ Poets and Saints and enjoying the songs they’ve pre-released on iTunes.
The first week and a bit of August was spent making as many lovely peach things as I could before we went away on vacation. My favourites were this Peach, Mozzarella, and Basil Salad (I made it with panela cheese, because North American grocery store fresh mozzarella is, let’s face it, not usually awesome) and I think I literally gasped when I tried the goat-cheese stuffed prosciutto-wrapped peaches that top this salad. They would definitely work as an appetizer as well. I even managed to find a few late-season Ontario strawberries and turn them into these absolutely amazing Strawberry, Lime, and Black Pepper Popsicles. I know it sounds weird, but trust me when I say they are phenomenal (and also vegan and gluten-free, so a great dessert recipe to have in your back pocket. I bet you could turn it into a granita or sorbet as well.)
Moreover, being on vacation in Europe means getting to eat out a lot more than we normally would. I have made it my mission to personally seek out the best gelato spots in Europe, and, while nothing can rival gelateria Fatamorgana in Rome, I absolutely loved Oyya in Bruges and Toscani Eiscafe in Essen. Also, if you’re a fan of sundaes, you absolutely have to make it to a European ice cream cafe. The variations with toppings, sauces, etc. are unreal. Also in the vein of amazing cafes, I discovered a hot chocolate cafe in Berlin called Nibs Cacao and their strawberry hot chocolate was basically the first thing ever. I’ve also discovered that the best way to get me to go to a restaurant is to advertise spaetzle (a German side dish, sort of between noodles and dumplings). The two best restaurant meals I’ve had here have been spaetzle based: pork chops and spaetzle with bacon chanterelle cream sauce at Repke Spaetzlerei in Berlin and spaetzle and roast duck with a Pinot Noir at La Corde a Linge in Strasbourg. I’ll be glad to be back in my own kitchen, but I’ve enjoyed getting some new food ideas here.
My tourism magnet collection has grown again. This time around, I properly visited Belgium for the first time (not counting a layover in the Brussels airport). I had a three day conference in Bruges, which kicked off this whole trip. Bruges is just lovely, a city of old buildings and canals. I played hooky for most of the last day of the conference so Aaron and I could explore the city a bit and celebrate our anniversary.
We also added no fewer than three European capitals. We spent a rainy afternoon in Brussels touring the royal palace, the cathedral, and the city museum. I was pretty amazed by the sheer amount of chandeliers. We spent an afternoon walking around the main Berlin sights and then a whole day on museum island, which has some truly stunning exhibits. The Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum in particular are definitely worth a visit. This is an actual wall from an Umayyad palace, nbd.
And finally we spent an afternoon in Amsterdam, which I didn’t love, mostly because we didn’t really make it out of the red light district. But I’ll be staying at a hotel in a different part of Amsterdam before I fly home, so I’ll explore some more then. Also, Amsterdam was where I got my first ever misspelled Starbucks cup, which I’m ridiculously excited about.
That’s my August in a nutshell. Be sure to check out Leigh’s blog to find out what other people have been into.