We Fish You a Very Merry Christmas

menuHappy Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!

Curious readers may click here for a PDF version of our 2013 Christmas Menu. We find it funny that Nigel recommends a fish and seafood Christmas in this past Sunday’s Observer, but I assure you that our decision was taken much earlier.

You find recipes for most parts of this meal on our new food site (food.gauweiler.net). The scallops, the mackerel tarte, the parfaits.

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Christmas Is A’Coming


Just received my first Christmas-related message, a recommendation to book seats and table early.

Crazy. Verrückt.

This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

DSC_1399This week, I should have been mostly eating Leberknödel, Bratwurst, Saumagen, Sauerkraut and Bratkartoffel. I blame the festive season for the poor statistics:

1 Leberknödel Average quality
2 Bratwurst Both good
2 Saumagen One of slightly sub-standard quality, one less so.

On the upside, the Bratkartoffel content was high and satisfactory.

Oh, and here’s the Christmas 2012 menu, for the record:

A Welcome of Graved Lax on a spicy crouton, served with a glass of Bubbly.

A Graved Lax Remoulade served in a seared Portobello mushroom, topped with a poached quail’s egg. Served with lamb’s lettuce.

Seared duck breast on an assortment of vegetables and a confit potato, served in an essence of duck jus.

Finally, an Orange Souffle, served with caramelized oranges. (All that souffle practising must come to some good at some point!)


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It’s That Time Of The Year

An amalgamated Christmas cardIt’s the perfect time of the year to take a break. Come back and join us again in the new year.

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

I hope you enjoy your big day. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make it to your party. We weren’t too keen on going, due to all the shooting and killing and other ungodly business ‘round your neck of the woods.

We have sent in our census form earlier already, so we decided to celebrate at home with our Christmas 2011 menu.

Merry Christmas to Everyone!


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Hello – and Goodbye

Santa's done. Well, hello there, and welcome to 2010. Two thousand and ten. Who would have thought.

I hope you have all arrived safely, healthy and happy in the new decade. While we enjoyed nice, quiet and stress-free Christmas and New Year celebrations with lots of food, drink, and a few friends, we are now back to normal, like it or not.

Since that involves travelling to California once again, and keeping me busy there for a while, I shall not post until the second half of this month.

Take care, and behave yourselves while I am out. You might as well take a look at some nice new photos taken at the Winter Wonderland fun fair in London’s Hyde Park (click).

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Merry Christmas

The W7 Christmas Menu 2009 We wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy new year!

Here’s how we enjoy the day (click for a larger image).

See you in the new year.


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Christmas Eve Chores

Santa's Salad Garden All that is left is get on with paid work for a couple of hours, prepare some food for tonight’s party, wrap the remaining presents, and relax. As we don’t have a Christmas tree, we don’t have to get into an argument as to where to trim it, how and when (but we’ll put some extra lights up for that extra Christmas Cheer).

So, take it easy, and hope you haven’t forgotten anything essential with your shopping. I didn’t get my supplies through online order and direct delivery from the supermarket this year, but instead made all shopping in small batches on foot, scheduled according to requirements and shelf-life. I managed to get the rest yesterday, but the situation at the supermarket even at 10.30am on Wednesday December 23rd was such that I do not plan to return before it is all over.

The fridge and the larder are full anyway. There’s neither need nor space for more.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

Christmas Carbonara

This week, I’ve been mostly eating more Christmas menu try-outs. The goal is to produce a new menu with a new twist here and here, while still honouring the tradition of Brussels Sprouts and Christmas Pudding. You’ll see it online this Friday.

For those who can’t wait, here’s how I plan to smuggle Brussels Sprouts into the 2009 Christmas menu:

Christmas Fettuccini Carbonara with smoked salmon and Brussels Sprouts.

This is fit for all year round, and absolutely delicious, so bear with me…

Per person, get five Brussels sprouts and two rashers of good bacon. Cut the bacon into fine strips, and flake the sprouts into individual leaves. Set aside.

Replace the Brussel sprouts with fine strips of Cavolo Nero if you don’t like the former and can source the latter. In the UK, try Waitrose, the only regular supplier for Cavolo Nero known to me. Now…

Per person, take one fresh egg yolk, one tablespoon of sour cream, a teaspoon of mustard, a good pinch of hot mustard powder, a pinch of black pepper and a good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Add one more yolk for the entire party. (Normally, you’d use cream or even double cream. I find soured cream is a better choice; it produces the same creamy result without that Oh-it’s-a-little-too-rich feeling that you get from double cream.)
Whisk it all up and set aside.

Take a good portion of smoked salmon and cut into thin stripes. For this meal, I prefer very strongly flavoured peat-smoked salmon.

Get some good quality egg fettuccini and cook them al dente.

Meanwhile, cut three or four cherry tomatoes per person into halves.

Fry the bacon sharp, using a knob of butter and an equal amount of olive oil until golden. (The olive oil raises the melting point of the butter, allowing to work longer and hotter without browning too much. You could also clarify the butter, of course, but for the quick day-in-day-out cooking, adding olive oil works well enough.)

The fettuccini should be done by now. Drain, and put into a bowl.

Add the Brussels sprout leaves to the bacon, crank up the heat and stir frequently in order to fry the sprouts quickly over 3 minutes or so.

Pour the egg-cream mix over the pasta. Mix in the salmon and the tomatoes. (Remember: the key to Carbonara is not to confuse it with scrambled eggs. Do not let the eggs into the pan or pot; just mix them in the bowl with the still hot pasta.)

Serve the pasta on a plate, surrounded by sprouts and bacon. Add some slivers of parmesan, and grate some nutmeg over the whole thing (the final nutmeg is important, don’t forget it! I forgot it with my second helping, and it makes heck of a difference).

Sprouts like you never had them before.
Carbonara like you never ate it before.


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Bah! Humbug!

The 2009 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree We have great sympathy for the Questors Theatre, a very large amateur theatre near by, that often provides acting and staging to very high standards. We’ve been members for over a decade (active at times), and always been actively promoting the theatre.

How embarrassing, however, to take a friend to this years’ Christmas production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

A traditional staging without any attempt to re-tell the tale in a way fit for children of the 21st century. We should have been warned by the poster, but even within the confines of the traditional interpretation, Questor’s A Christmas Carol failed to impress:

The tragedy begins with Ebenezer Scrooge, who is a far cry from being a bitter, angry, grumpy old man. He was in fact outright friendly and smiling from the beginning, and the occasional Bah, Humbug! didn’t change that.

The ghosts were laughably unimaginative, appearing in white (but ghostly illuminated) bed sheets, as Santa Claus, and all covered in black veil with the occasional ghostly waves of arms. I didn’t take the time to match their appearance with the book, and they might well match Dickens’ description, but I am sure one could have done a better job staging them, ghostly dress-code aside.

Rare exceptions aside, acting was below the usual standards, and only a few actors stood out with clear enunciation. Directions were unimaginative to say the least, and ill-advised when it came to balancing the sound levels of speech versus background atmosphere brought in from the tape. The best moment was certainly a morning scene when couples from the houses look out of their windows commenting, because the house on the left must have been the YMCA and the one on the right a house for fallen women (or maybe the suffragettes HQ).

Even the snowball fight failed to bring fun into the theatre: the stage children weren’t given real snow balls or any stage equivalent thereof, but had to mime it empty handed. This clearly took the fun out of it for them and failed to bring any fun into the auditorium.

The fun came back at the end, when the staging of snowfall brought in more than just a chuckle, as 1 1/2 small handfuls on white confetti rained down on a 3 square feet area in centre stage.

Too bad the best jokes of the show were all unintended.

For Questors and their ongoing quest to find and increase public recognition, one can only hope they’ll do better next year.

My applause goes to the many children in the audience, who sat very bravely and well-behaved through a 2 hour production that failed to bring either scare or fun into their lives,  sparkle into their eyes or Christmas Cheer into their hearts.


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A Seasons Paradox

the chef, aged 3 (?) The telly is full of cooking shows with TV chefs showing off their latest Christmas menu thoughts, or how to do things proper and in the traditional way – recent comment here.

But, the commercial breaks are full of adverts recommending the purchase of scented candles or similar artefacts, designed to get that chemical Christmas cheer into the house.

Tell you what.

Spike an apple with cinnamon and cloves and bake it.

Make a bread or a cake or a sage pork roast.

Simple, non-chemical, and you’ll get the smell and the taste.


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This Week, I’ve Been Mostly Eating…

Loch CarronThis week, I’ve been mostly eating things I am not prepared to talk about just yet, and here’s why: The festive season is rapidly approaching, and with it comes a multitude of repeated and new TV cooking programs.

Delia tells us all about a truly traditional Christmas. I watch her preparing a traditional Christmas pudding with moderate interest (because mine isn’t traditional), and switch off after she makes a sticky mess with scallops.

Gary Rhodes is blacklisted at W7 Hall since the making of slimy risottos some while ago, and Gordon Ramsey is off limits due to his preference of focussing on foul language.

Nigella Lawson is nice to look at, Rick Stein nice to listen to. Nigel Slater is not seen on TV these days as far as I know.

I always end up with Jamie Oliver, who even makes me watch Channel Four. He’s the only one who consistently delivers fresh ideas and enthusiasm like none of the others.

Too bad the price to pay is that I had to abandon my earlier plans for this year’s Christmas menu. Back to the drawing board and the kitchen experiments. So, this week, I’ve been mostly preparing and eating Christmas menu experiments. Oh, it’s a hard life!


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