Tag Archive | travel

Water – The Elixir of Life !

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Dear Reader

Just to let you know that I will be away from my desk for a few days – but look forward seeing you again next week.

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Have a good and peaceful week-end.

PS: The pictures of the water-feature were taken at Vivanta by Taj Malabar, Willingdon Island, Cochin.

Carina

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Christmas in Fort Cochin in Kerala

After I posted my previous video here I had a sort of minor brain wave; why not take you on a little journey around some of the many many places in the world we have either lived in or visited (in some cases many times over). And knowing how busy you are all during those last hectic days before Christmas I thought that just a little musical introduction to these places is just enough – for now!

So – why not sit back, with a cup of coffee or tea (and a biscuit or two) and enjoy my “Christmas music from near and far”.

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The journey starts here right on our own doorsteps – with the Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica (one of the only eight Basilicas in the whole of India) in Fort Kochi, who’s history goes back to the sixteenth century, beginning with the arrival of Portuguese missionaries in 1500 CE. (pic. Above and below)

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The following musical video features CSI Immanuel Church Choir, Cochin/Kerala, India singing “Whispering Hope”.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful Third of Advent.

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Nachdem ich mein vorhergehendes Video hier zeigte, hatte ich einen kleinen Geistesblitz ; warum nehme ich Euch nicht einfach mit auf eine kleine Reise zu den vielen vielen Plaetze in der Welt wo wir entweder gelebt haben oder die wir besuchten (in einigen Faellen mehrmals). Und da ich weiss wie beschaeftigt Ihr alle seid waehrend dieser letzten hektischen Tage vor Weihnachten, dachte ich dass nur eine kleine musikalische Einfuehrung zu diesen Plaetzen gerade genug ist – fuer jetzt!

So, warum macht es Ihr Euch nicht bequem mit einer Tasse Kaffee oder Tee (und ein oder zwei Plaetzchen) und geniesst meine “Weihnachtsmusik von Nah’ und Fern”.
Die Reise beginnt hier “vor unserer eigenen Haustuere” – mit der Santa Cruz Kathedrale Basilika (eine von den nur acht Basiliken in ganz Indien) in Fort Kochi, deren Geschichte zurueck geht bis auf das Sechzehnte Jahrhundert, angefangen mit der Ankunft der Portugisischen Missionare in 1500 CE.
Einen schoenen, geruhsamen Dritten Advent wuensche ich Euch allen.

Carina

Risotto Primavera alla Cipriani

-Cipriani’s Spring Risotto-

With many of you starting to send out posts about the first signs of spring, which I sadly cannot do since I live in a tropical climate, I like to take you with me instead on a short journey ‘down memory lane’ to the beautiful city of Venice.

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One of the domes of the Basilica di San Marco, Venice

Many many years ago a number of our international friends and I had a very noisy, and I confess, slightly boozy, but, oh so enjoyable Lunch at the world famous Harry’s Bar in Venice.

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…..preparing our Bellinis

In fact it was one of those wonderful impromptu get-togethers one really cannot organise – they just happen!! And certainly nobody wants them to end quickly.

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(Andrea outside Harry’s Bar)

The original plan that day was for all of us to meet at “Harry’s”, have refreshments and take Cipriani’s own boat out to the Island of Torcello to their beautiful and romantic Locanda – one of those wonderful little honeymoon locations , where we all were going to have lunch. But, one way or the other, we never made it to Torcello that day but remained in Venice until closing time! I of course now cannot, by the best will in the world, remember what each and everyone had ordered that day, except I do remember, that I had “Risotto primavera” (Spring Risotto) making use of many of the vegetables grown near the Locanda on Torcello. This dish was created and recommended to me by Arrigo Cipriani himself – so how could I refuse? It was a dish so divine, that I never, with all my travels around the world, have forgotten the smell and taste of this exceptional Risotto. He very kindly gave me permission to use this recipe in my own blog or book. And before I forget let me tell you – this dish is really very easy to prepare, so do not be put off by the length of the ingredients list. I hope that you enjoy this risotto as much as I did then and in fact once again only two days ago when I tried to recreate this for my post here.

For: 6
For the spring vegetables you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
250 g of shiitake mushrooms; thinly sliced (I used button mushrooms)
3 small artichokes, thinly sliced (were not available)
1 tsp onion, finely chopped
4 small zucchini, diced (I used green ones)
12 asparagus spears cut into short lengths
1 large slice of red capsicum, cut into pieces
1 small leek, white part only, cut into short lengths
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Risotto you need:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
150 g risotto rice (I used Arborio)
1.5 l chicken stock
40 g butter
3 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
Salt and pepper

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To prepare the vegetables: heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, then remove it from the pan and discard. Add the artichokes and cook for 8-10 minutes, then add the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes. Finally, add the Zucchinis (courgettes), asparagus, red pepper and leek, increase the heat to high and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

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To prepare the Risotto: heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes. Stirring the rice, lower the heat, add about 120 ml of the stock and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Gradually add more stock as each addition is absorbed. After about 15 minutes, when the risotto is half-cooked, add the vegetables and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the rice is tender and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For a softer risotto stir in a few more tablespoons of stock.
Serve with extra grated Parmesan.

And the next time Jo and I are in Venice, maybe we find the time to once again enjoy Cipriani’s splendid hospitality.

Ciao 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.

Carina

Vypeen (or Vipin) – the Island (Part l)

I have never belonged to the group of people who hated Monday – rather the opposite.

Like Spring following Winter – Monday to me was mostly the start of a new week with all its ups and downs, its surprises jumping at me from unsuspected quarters; but then because I have a “job” I enjoy doing.

So far so good – until this past Monday! So many things were written down on my “what-to-do” list over the week-end, and a couple of them were quite urgent, that I was ready to ‘rock-and-roll’ my way through Ernakulam (what we call our City centre). Anticipating therefore being back home early afternoon ready to cook a nice delicious Kerala curry, take the photographs  and write my Blog-entry to be posted that evening.

So far so good – but then the powers-to-be came and ruined my entire well laid out plans.

You must have had days like this when everything and anything went wrong for you. Hm, yes – just like my Monday!

Traffic that day was absolutely atrocious, people I had to see had either not yet turned up at their office or had to rush off to some more important meeting, items I really needed for my kitchen were not available that day, other people, who normally were always friendly, were wearing their “I-hate-Monday’s-therefore-I-am-grumpy” face, etc. etc. – I knew you understand.

Then when I finally reached home and had my second cup of coffee of the day, I found out that the Internet connection had gone due to ‘line complaint’! And before I even had the chance of starting in my kitchen the electricity went off, too and did not come back for a long long time, by then I had decided to call it a day!

Dreading just a little bit Tuesday (fearing what could possibly go wrong?) I again faced traffic, heat, people not being available etc.

But then I had an idea! And a brilliant one, as it turned out in the end. Since, once again I was in Ernakulam, I decided to re-visit a place not too far away. A place I had last been to appr. 4 years ago – Vypeen!

            

Vypeen (or Vipin, as it is also known) belongs to a group of islands, forming part of the City of Cochin/Ernakulam only just 5 km away and is now a fast developing suburb of Cochin.

Heavy floods in 1341 shaped this Island – but now once again it is re-connected to the Mainland by various  bridges, known as the Goshree Bridges.

After parking the car by the Bus Depot I went right down to the edge of the sea – a spot which I like very much.

Not much really has changed; in a way I felt time has stood still.

Right along the seafront, a paved path has now been laid out for locals and visitors to walk on and sit and enjoy the fresh sea breeze and watch life on the water go by before their very own eyes.  There are the big ships, many many fishing canoes whizzing through the water like colourful butterflys, the public ferry taking people across to the other side. Birds looking for small fish near the waters edge. And the occasional boys trying to catch a bigger fish just with a line (but I have never seen a catch here).

 

I love just sitting there and watch the breakers out at the mouth of the Arabian Sea. And I even found a few reminders of the once well maintained ‘Chinese Fishing nets’, now completely dilapidated and still, to my utter amazement, fishermen dare walk those few remaining planks, like acrobats in a circus, lowering a net in the hope to be lucky and not only catch their lunch but also enough to sell.

But, as you can see from one of my photographs here, luck was not much on their side that morning. Look at the little ‘Tiger Fish’ – not even a child’s mouthful! But their spirits were high and they go on looking forward to their next catch, which might after all be the lucky one for them.

 

It is quite a peaceful place – not (yet) overrun by tourists and the few locals out are a friendly and courteous lot. I will have to go back there, and soon for more fresh sea air and photographs and to write my ‘Vypeen – the Island (Part II)’

Until then, Ciao Carina