Archive | October 2012


I came to Venice for the first time in the late ‘70s and fell head over heals in love with this beautiful ancient city. We arrived by plane from West Africa via London. It was late and we were tired. So we hired a private motor taxi to take us to our Hotel, which was basically next door to the famous “Teatro La Fenice”.

And over the duration of our stay in Venice, which was normally always two weeks in order to catch up with friends, we were treated every morning early on with a free concert (i.e. rehearsals!!). Sitting in our beautifully furnished bedroom (old, slightly faded silk wall paper, highly polished Italian antique furniture, wonderful paintings on the walls and flowers galore in, of course, Venetian glass!) and having breakfast served ‘the old-fashioned way’, i.e. silver, linen napkins, the whole lot!! We were never in a real hurry to get out and see the sights.

The flowers  were sent by friends and even a couple of shops, where we used to buy a few things every year on our return. They all knew that because we were living in West Africa we were starved of ‘European flowers’ – they meant everything to me, chocolates etc. not so much. And being lovers of classical music it is needless to say that we thought we were short of entering heaven. What a wonderful happy start of a day!

When our water taxi entered the Lagoon the ‘lady up in the sky – the sun’ was getting ready to bid this part of the world ‘buana notte’ and the sight of the city being immersed in that special glow created by the sinking sun was, and still is, something which truly takes your breath away.

Claude Monet, the famous French painter, came to Venice with his wife Alice for the first and in fact last time in October 1908. During their 10 weeks stay he painted many of his famous paintings, depicting scenes of Venice, also he apparently said that Venice is a city “too beautiful to be painted”.

This oil painting, ‘San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk’ (also known as “Venice at Dusk”) is certainly both our personal favourite.

Today this painting is part of a collection in the National Museum Cardiff, which is the National Gallery of Wales/UK.

Very close to the famous and, by the way, the oldest bridge across the Canale Grande ‘Ponte di Rialto’ (Rialto Bridge) is a famous restaurant  mainly frequented by the Locals and we learned of this from the then manager of the Italian Tourist Office in London ages ago. I want to write about this place another day – so therefore I keep it ‘secret’ a little longer. Although it was then and still is, the best seafood restaurant in Venice, I had the ‘Fegato’ below – and I never regretted it.

For: 4


500 g calf’s (preferably) or beef liver, cleaned, washed, dried and cut into small neat strips the length of your little finger

500 g onions, sliced very thinly (I use a Mandolin slicer here)

Juice of 2-3 of our little lemon (or to taste)

3 Tbsp Olive Oil

150 g good Butter

1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

4-5 fresh Sage leaves (if possible) or some dried sage

Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, finely chopped


First of all, if you are using beef liver, soak this in some milk for 30 minutes before cooking in order to take out any sharp taste.

The next stage is to caramelize the onions – this has to be done on a very low heat and will take some time, 30-40minutes or so. Do not let the onions become dark. Use a wide frying pan, big enough to accommodate all the onions in one layer, add half the butter and 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add a touch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Take another big frying pan and on a low heat melt the remaining butter and oil and a few sage leaves (or ½ tsp of dried sage). Quickly stir once and add the dried liver to this, but do not use any salt here or your liver will get hard. Change heat to medium and cook liver until dark outside, but nicely pink inside, for just a few minutes. Do not overcook the liver or it will get tough like shoe-leather (not that you ever have tried to eat shoe-leather, I am sure!).

Now add the cooked onions to the liver and squeeze some lemon juice over this and mix. Transfer to a pre-heated serving platter, sprinkle with some chopped parsley for colour and bring to your table.

Traditionally this dish is served with cold polenta (for my Kerala readers: ready-to-cook polenta available from the GOURMET House in Thevera), cut into diamond shape, and lightly fried in sage-infused butter – hmmm, just the way I love it.

But, of course you can use whatever you like, Basmati rice, creamy mashed potatoes (to which I like to add a bit of mayonnaise and a little dollop of  readymade mustard), small boiled potatoes or just nice fresh Multigrain bread to mop up the juices.

Ciao, Carina

(Photos: 2nd and 4th: Public domain of Wikipedia / Rest: Manningtree Archive)


Smiles are a-plenty!

Our 2 girls are home from their respective Colleges, albeit only for a short break!

It’s lovely to have them here again.

So forgive me for paying just a little bit less attention to my Blog for a few days.

But I do not wish to leave you completely with a void – so here are some visual treats from the ‘archives’ instead as chosen by Bianca and Andrea.

See you soon,

Ciao Carina


Fettuccine Alfredo alla Scrofa

First of all, this dish is known in Rome amongst the Italians as “Fettuccini al burro’, while the rest of the world calls it ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’ after the man who invented this dish.

I don’t know about you, but JO and I normally try and give the usual tourist restaurants a miss on our many travels, but of course, there is always the odd exception or two.

One of those is a famous old restaurant, still located in its original place in the old city centre of Rome on Via della Scrofa.

It was here that a man by the name of ‘Alfredo Di Lelio’ invented the famous signature dish of this establishment, yes – ‘Fettuccine Alfredo’. Having made this sumptuous dish a few times at home for family and friends, we decided to finally pay ‘Alfredo’s’ a visit on our recent trip to Rome.

The place was packed with mainly tourists, who wanted to try out the ‘original Fettuccine Alfredo’. Yes, I admit that we wanted the same but most of all we wanted to have a good close up look at the famous photo gallery, depicting not only those film stars of ‘yesteryears’ and Mario Mozzetti (whose family bought the restaurant in 1943 from Alfredo Di Lelio) has done a good job in updating this gallery, also showing photographs of ordinary people, government heads and film-, music- and theater people.

There is a nice little romantic story attached to one of the old pictures on the wall. It is said that the fame came to Di Lelio’s restaurant when Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks stopped by and fell in love with the dish. This was on their honeymoon in 1920. As a thank you and to express their gratitude the presented Di Lelio with a golden fork and spoon together with a signed photograph which shows them eating in his restaurant which he proudly displayed on the wall – hence the gallery was born.

But most importantly, this is still the undisputed home of the undisputed pasta dish, which one can find now all over the world.

We have been there twice now, but next time we go, we will try one of their other dishes on the menu and sit once again very close to the Gallery.

This recipe should come with a sort of ‘health warning’ because it is so unbelievably delicious and sinful and of course laden with calories. But, please, if you still want to make this famous dish, for once go ahead and ‘push the boat out’ fully. No cheating here, use only the real things, and that means good butter, good fat cream and wonderful Parmigiano with Fettuccine (everything available now here in Cochin at GOURMET House in Thevera)

The other good thing I like about this dish is that it needs only 2 pots/pans, and that it is so quick to make as well.

For 4 people:

1 pack of Fettuccine, appr. 500 g

6 (or more!) Tbsp. of butter

250 ml of lovely fat cream

A more than generous handful of grated Parmigiano

A pinch of grated Nutmeg (optional)

A dash of salt and black pepper, to taste


In one pot boil your pasta in plenty of boiling water. No salt, no oil here! When ready, DO NOT DRAIN, just take off heat.

In a deep pan melt all your butter on medium heat, reduce heat even more and add your cream. By no means, if you want more creamy sauce, just add more cream and butter. Let this simmer for app. 1 minute. Now add nutmeg, salt and pepper and half the Parmigiano. Stir very gently and carefully. Don’t let anything boil or the sauce goes wrong.

Now lift your pasta straight from the hot cooking water into the sauce and with two forks toss all this together.

Put onto a large preheated platter (or onto 4 individual plates) and sprinkle the other generous! half of your Parmigiano over this and serve.

Buon appetito!

Ciao, Carina

A Taste of Mattancherry

After my friend and I bought our fish from our vendor in Fort Cochin by the Chinese Nets yesterday we drove over to nearby Mattancherry/Jewtown, the western part of Ernakulam and the most famous Tourist attraction in this area.

Shortly I will write all about this place with many beautiful photographs.

But since we were in a bit of a hurry trying to find a small gift for somebody in one of the many antique shops we did not waste too much time. My friend made her purchase and I promised our own friends in this place to return very soon with more time on my hands; after all I had not been here for about a year or so and many things had changed. The photographs you see here today were taken by me some time ago.

But for today I just leave you with this very small visual impression of some of the beautiful items to be found in the Antique shops of Jewtown, enough hopefully to ‘whet your appetite for more’.


Ciao, Carinae

Karimeen Fry

Yesterday was suppose to be a ‘stay-at-home’ day, dealing with the usual things like (boring!) paperwork, but a friend arrived and wanted to go to Fort Cochin to buy some fish from our trusted vendor at the Chinese Nets and so I went with her since I too wanted to get some nice fresh ‘Karimeen’ for Jo.

This wonderful fresh water fish is also known as ‘Pearl Spot’ and is found mainly in the backwaters of Kerala. The area around the small town of Alappuzha (Alleppy) is regarded as the ‘tharavad’ (Family home) of this fish and it is such fun to watch the fishermen trying to catch this fish by just diving off their small boats quite close to the shores of the backwaters.

Karimeen is not a cheap fish, in fact it is regarded a bit of a luxury by most Keralites – a proper ‘Karimeen-Fry’ must never be amiss at any important family function, like in our home, a special treat for our two daughters, when they return from their respective Colleges in another state.

The majority of visitors to our state, may they be Indian or foreign, will head for any of the leading fish places to feast on either Karimeen Fry,  Karimeen Pollichathu (wrapped in Plantain leaf and steamed) or Karimeen Moily/Mappas (cooked in thick coconut milk combined with many wonderful spices).

I have my fish cleaned by my vendor. At home I just wash and dry the Karimeen very well and with a sharp knife cut slashes across 4 times on both sides.


For 2 persons

2 Karimeen  (despite the fact that some people will ask for ‘large size’ it is better to go for medium size, the size of the palm of your hand – tastes better, in fact!)

2 Tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste

½ tsp Turmeric powder

2 tsp black pepper powder

2 Tbsp red Chilly powder (or less)

1 ½-2 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice

Oil (I use Vegetable oil, some people prefer Coconut oil)

Some Curry leaves (optional)



In a small bowl mix all the above spices into a thickish paste – if you want it to be more liquid just add a teaspoon or two of water.

Now rub this mixture all over your fish, inside as well as into those slits. Keep covered in the refrigerator for a couple of hours for the Masala really to soak in.

When ready, heat oil in a frying pan, add your curry leaves and then the fish. Shallow fry on a medium to low heat for app. 10-15 minutes (depending on size), turn over and fry the other side.

When done, lift out carefully onto paper-towels to drain.

Serve and enjoy

Ciao, Carina

Lecker! ‘Rievkooche’

What language is she talking here, some of you might ask? You see, it’s not a language as such but the local dialect spoken in the Rheinland of Germany, especially in the Köln (Cologne), Bonn etc. area. Fine, you say, but what actually does it mean! Strictly translated “Riev…(reiben=grated) kooche (Kuchen-Cake)”, properly known as REIBEKUCHEN!

Although they are eaten all through the year, they are really a cold weather treat.

By the middle of Autumn you can see the first ‘Buedchen’ appearing at the daily or weekly markets, on the corner of your district and especially at every ‘Kirmes’ (Fun Fair), Christmas Market etc. Together with ‘Curry-Wurst’ (curried grilled Sausage in a bun)  ‘Linsensuppe’ (Lentil Soup) etc. – I could go on and on telling you about what is available – and of course ‘Gluehwein’ (Glow-wine, hot red-wine punch).

Reibekuchen’ are one of the most sought after ‘Streetfood’. Yes, of course, you will find them in most decent restaurants that time of the year, no gastronomic stars or 5-stars it does not really matter, except the price of course. The luxury version is served with slices of smoked salmon and crème fraiche, while the true traditional way to eat Reibekuchen is, especially in Köln and Bonn, simply with a nice dollop of refreshing apple stew and with a slice of Schwarzbrot or Pumpernickel.

All around the Globe the climate has changed – so, the memories of solidly frozen lakes and small rivers in the cities have to remain just that for most of the times – memories!

When ‘in my previous life’ we lived and worked for 3 years in Hamburg, this beautiful elegant city in the North of Germany, we were fortunate to experience something, which had not been there for about 10 years before our arrival. In the middle of Hamburg is the famous ‘Aussenalster’, which is one of the tourist attractions, the white boats ferrying people from point A to Z, ending their journey right in the very financial heart of the city, ready for more sightseeing or great shopping!

Our house fortunately overlooked the Park and part of the Lake. Unfortunately I only have very few photographs from this period left. But in one you can clearly see the Lake with the sailing boats during summer and the other one, oh what a joy!!! Our frozen lake – solid – they took an Army lorry out to test the strength! Bright blue sky and in no time a long line, more than one kilometer, of ‘Buedchen’ of all kinds appeared. Children small and big! with their sledges raced up and down, some even drawn by large dogs. Did you know that most dogs absolutely love snow? Certainly our black Labrador did and our Dachshund!!

On that week-end, when this picture was taken, we went with a number of friends from ‘Buedchen’ to ‘Buedchen’ eating and yes, drinking ‘Gluehwein’, all the way from our house down to the centre of the city. Of course, we had to keep warm, lol! The idea was to meet up with some more friends and have lunch at the ‘Rathauskeller’ –  Yes, we did meet the friends, but Lunch? No way, not on that day – we all took a rain-check for another day.

Here are my own Reibekuchen, which we enjoyed for lunch today. Try them, I promise, they are delicious!

For 2

I used 3 large potatoes, peeled and left whole

1 large onion, peeled and left whole

1 large potato, peeled, boiled, mashed

2 whole eggs

Salt, pepper, grated nutmeg (and some red chilly powder! Very very optional)

Some parsley or coriander leaves, finely chopped

Vegetable Oil for frying and lots of paper towels for draining the ‘cakes’.

Grate your raw potatoes on a box grater, then the onion, into a large bowl. Cover and let rest for ½ hour. Take a clean kitchen towel and scoop the potatoes and onion mix out of their water and wring the towel in order to extract as much liquid as possible; return to the rinsed out bowl. Add eggs, the mashed boiled potato, salt, pepper, pinch of fresh nutmeg (and if you like the ‘kick’, by all means try some red chilly powder – but this is my Indian version) and the parsley.

Mix well. Heat oil in a large pan, make flat patty like cakes in your hands and carefully add them to the hot oil. Careful – because they will splatter!

Reduce heat to half and fry your Reibekuchen on each side for app. 5 minutes (the edges should be nicely brown but center soft and golden) – test one cake and adjust your seasoning and timing.

Take out and let them rest on plenty of kitchen towel, keeping them warm until all the cakes are done.

Sit down and eat immediately! Cold ‘Reibekuchen’ are not everybody’s taste.

I served them with homemade apple stew and the rest of my ‘Vollkornbrot’ – the real thing –  which I still had from my last visit to GOURMET House here in Thevera.

Enjoy – Guten Appetit. Carina


Today is your Birthday. No longer a ‘teenager’ but all grown up.

Have a wonderful, happy and fulfilling life.

With all our love.


For our special day, I made your favourite Italian dish here, lol.

Andrea’s Spaghetti Alio e Olio

Boil Spaghetti in plenty of water until al dente.

Drain, but do not rinse, and keep aside.

Peel and chop finely as much garlic as you like, app. 1 big whole bulb

In a pan heat olive oil, add chopped garlic and on medium heat let them brown lightly.

When colour changes, add salt, red chilly flakes and some finely chopped parsley, let slowly cook for a couple of minutes more.

Now add your Spaghetti, switch off heat, and with 2 forks toss the pasta in your ‘sauce’ and serve straight away.

Remember, re. measurements it all depends really on how hungry you and your friends are. 1 lb of Spaghetti is normally good for 4 people. And with the rest add as much or as little as you like – after all, everybody has a different taste and a different need for spices.

One more thing, since this is a Roman dish, remember we were told by Chef in that beautiful Trattoria near our Hotel, NEVER to use any cheese for this dish.

Another little favourite of yours, Vanilla Icecream with Nutella, delicious!

In Memory of my German Opapa

Or: How to make a child eat spinach

When I was little, we lived in a small house on my Grandfathers land – their house was at the front of the property on street level and ours a little bit set back.

The huge (or so it seemed to me then) kitchen had a very large window from where one could see most of the garden. And as my mother told me, substantiated by bouts of memory flashes on my part, this window was a major attraction to me and at times the source of great frustration to her. Like most children I too welcomed just anything to distract my mind and gave me good enough reasons for not doing my school home-work.

And why? Opa (german for ‘grandfather’) kept a few cages of beautiful rabbits (Kaninchen), white, black and so very soft and cuddly. Their antics amused me far more than boring homework – who cannot understand this. Mutti did not, Opapa did, typical.

In the middle of the lawn stood this enormous walnut tree – its branches weight down with an abundance of nuts, year after year and a welcomed food paradise for those little red furry creatures – our beloved squirrels. (Where today can you see actually red ones – not in our garden in England nor in the beautiful parks of London).

The third major attraction (or should I write ‘distraction’?) for me was the Bee-Hives. Opapa even had a little outfit made for me specially, so that I could ‘help’ him with his bees, gathering honey etc. I was never ever scared then, but, today… I see bees and I run a mile!

The rest of the garden had flowers, shrubs, fruit-trees, potatoes, vegetable patches especially spinach (everybody said ‘the child needs to eat plenty of iron’), the lot.

But needless to say, again like most children, I did not particularly enjoy a plate of spinach, however it was prepared until the day my grandmother decided to mix finely crushed wall-nuts to the spinach. That apparently was the day which made me love, yes love, this vegetable for the rest of my life.

I had more or less forgotten about this until a few days ago, when I received a telephone call from my favourite ‘Ashis-Supermercato’ informing me of the arrival of my wall-nuts which I had especially ordered for some Christmas baking. And because I had just bought a bunch of “Pallak” (like spinach) I wanted to make use of those items.

I just went ahead from memory and made some modifications. I suggest you just go ahead and use your cooking experience and eye-measurements this time. I too sometimes just use “a bit of this and a bit of that”– I hope you will like it. But what do I call this? OK – why not…….

                            Opapa’s nutty sauce

A big handful of Spinach, well washed and hand-shredded

Some Olive Oil (depends how liquid you like your sauce)

3 Garlic cloves, peeled

A big handful of shelled walnut pieces

2 or more Tbsp of Lemon juice

A splash or more of Tabasco Sauce

A pinch of nutmeg

Salt to taste

Some grated Cheddar- or Romano cheese

Put everything into your Mixi and pulse the ingredients a few times. You want your Sauce nice and smooth in the end. If this appears too thick for your taste, just add a few drops of hot water at a time.

Of course in my Grandmother’s kitchen we did not have pasta then. But here in our home I tried various different pasta shapes and in the end I found the simple spaghetti best for our liking.

Guten Appetit, Carina

Congratulations, Your Excellency

The Most Rev. Dr. Francis Kallarackal, Metropolitan Archbishop of Verapoly

 October 4th is not only your Silver jubilee of being made a Bishop, but also the Feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi after whom you,  as well as our Cathedral in Cochin, are named.

I am honoured that you found time to receive me this morning at Bishops House amongst your beautiful orchid collection.