Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.
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It’s no secret I love to cook. But most of my dishes aren’t really designed with gourmet plating in mind; they just taste good. Here’s one personal creation that’s a bit different… the Chevre Walnut Egg Star (copyright 2007 by David Douglas… hehe). I justify adding it here because I have some nice photos and it’s a really visual food.
Recipe Ingredients per Egg Star:
- 5-6 quartered pieces of untoasted white bread, in triangle shape
- 1 large egg
- 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar (real American dark brown sugar, not the medium “raw sugar” used for Caipis)
- 2-4 Tbsp sliced or crumbled Chevre or other goat’s milk cheese
- 1 small handful roughly crumbled walnuts
- Butter for the pan
- Maple syrup to add later
- Have all the ingredients ready to add in before starting, because it goes very fast once the toast is in the pan. If you leave it too long, something will almost certainly burn (toast, cheese, or brown sugar).
- Melt some butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
- Add the triangles, flipping them over immediately so both sides have some butter.
- Cook the triangles for a minute or two until one side is a bit toasted. Then flip them over and create a star shape as seen in the picture above. You can use 5 or 6 toast quarters depending on the size of your pan and your appetite.
- As soon as the triangles are flipped, crack the egg into the middle of the star so that it fills the open space between the toast pieces.
- Quickly add the crumbled Chevre, walnuts, and brown sugar (I recommend in that order). Try not to get too much sugar on the pan itself, or it will quickly caramelize.
- Cover the pan with a lid so the heat cooks the egg from the top (you can’t flip this baby). This also melts the cheese.
- Check every minute or so until the egg is done to your likeness (quite runny, in my case). Turn the heat down if you plan to cook it longer, to avoid burning the bottom of the toast.
- Serve with maple syrup for those who want a bit more sugar (me!). Gimme some sugar, baby. Enjoy!
Here’s what it looks like in the pan:
And on the plate! Goes well with a side salad of strawberries and physalis…
If you do try out this recipe, I’d love to hear how you (and/or your kids) like the Egg Star! And remember, you saw it here first. Hope you enjoy it!
Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 1:00 pm. 2 comments
While on my business travels to Malaysia, I occasionally had a chance to get to Kuala Lumpur, or just “KL” as the locals say. My last trip there was short, but I did get to see quite a bit. Here are a few select photos of some attractions in Kuala Lumpur (from the days before I got my D90…).
One place you have to see is the Petronas Twin Towers, once the tallest buildings in the world (surpassed by Taipei 101). There’s a huge mall on the bottom floors called KLCC, which I suppose is great if you want (ahem) non-fake goods. I must admit, I’ve actually never been up it! The Renaissance Hotel has a good view of the towers from its upper levels. As I remember I got a free upgrade to club level…
The Petronas Twin Towers from the Renaissance Hotel
For cheap wallets, handbags, clothes, etc… check out Petaling Street, another must-see attraction. Be sure to haggle with the sellers to get the best price. My advice is to walk away at least once or twice during any transaction. If they call you back to give you a lower price, keep going. If they don’t call you back, then chances are you’ve come close to their real “best price.” Come back 10 minutes later and say you’ve changed your mind. Of course, if you can take a local with you (as I did) you’ll get better prices than what any Caucasian tourist could achieve.
The KL Tower is a famous monument with a great view. I believe its peak is actually above that of the Twin Towers because it starts on a hill (although the structure itself is shorter). The rotating restaurant at the top runs about €30, rather pricey considering the average-quality buffet food. But the view is fantastic, so I recommend trying it if the weather’s clear and you have cash to spare (I was lucky to be invited). Just don’t get your hopes up about the food quality; I thought it was decent but have seen some really BAD reviews.
The tower is also the annual home of legal B.A.S.E. jumps as part of an organized series around Malaysia!
KL Tower at night, home of a rotating restaurant
Batu Caves is a limestone formation with multiple large caves. One holds several Hindu shrines, while others contain statues, art, and animals in a small zoo.
Statue of Murugan next to the 272 steps to Temple Cave
The interior of Temple Cave is impressive, if you can handle 272 steps to get there. One area of Temple Cave is open to the sky.
Inside the Temple Cave: the far chamber is open to the sky
There are also lots of monkeys. This young one liked to play with visitors, and also drank soda through a straw… nice! Just be careful not to get bitten, as the monkeys are protective of their territory.
Macaque monkey at Batu Caves
There’s a lot more to see in KL. But I’ll let you search out a few more Kuala Lumpur destinations on Wikipedia or at the Malaysian government’s tourism site.
- Petronas Twin Towers .gov.my site: they are visible from almost anywhere in the city. There is a limited quantity of passes for visiting the bridge; you have to wake up early in the morning to get one.
- Batu Caves (Wikipedia): Admission was not expensive (though I can’t recall exactly; 5-10 euro I believe). Here’s a Google map to Batu Caves.
- KL Tower .gov.my site: also visible from almost anywhere in the city. Go during the day for the best view of KL, and at night for a lit-up view and buffet food.
- Petaling Street (Google maps): Also known as the “night market.” Please, do be careful of pickpockets; they are everywhere. Have some fresh fruit (lychees or the infamous, smelly durian) or Chinese food while you browse and haggle.
- Advice to avoid pickpockets: Keep your wallet in a zipped pocket (or better yet, leave it in the hotel safe). Hold any cash you plan to spend in a separate zipped pocket so you never have to take out your wallet. Be watchful of any purses or backpacks (thieves slice the straps, then grab & run). Especially true on Petaling street! I usually keep my wallet in a front pocket in KL, or zipped in my front vest pocket, and never had a problem.
- If you need a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, I can recommend the Renaissance, though any good hotels website could probably find a cheap deal for you.
Posted 7 years, 3 months ago at 12:00 pm. 1 comment
In my travels for work, I met a lot of fantastic people in Malaysia. The city of Malacca (Melaka, in Malay) has a small but interesting historical downtown. Since I’ve eaten in a LOT of restaurants in Malacca, I’ll focus this post on food! Mmm. I’ve actually had a seven-course meal in Malacca including shark fin soup (thanks to a vendor), but these seven courses are from various experiences I had on a later trip there. Once on my own, I avoided the shark fin soup, as harvesting its main ingredient is devastating to shark populations.
Tiger is the national beer of Malaysia. It’s everywhere, and is pretty tasty. Not as watery as the mass-market American beers, but not heavy either. Trust me, it’s easy to drink a lot of it.
Tiger - the Beer of Malaysia!
Nyonya Top Hats, in a restaurant right near the Rennaisance Melaka hotel. Nyonya is a local cuisine mixed between Chinese and Malay cooking, and is quite spicy. See the chilies on each top hat, and the bowl of chili sauce? Mu-hahaha.
Nyonya Top Hats
My friend Chris ordered a soup. It came in a teapot and had no bowl or spoon. We were so busy laughing about this photo that I forget what, err, utensils/china eventually came to use for eating it.
Tea or soup?
I just had to throw this in here. Now, the people I worked with spoke very good English… but some of the other locals did not. Or, it was some kind of mixture that I just could not understand. If anyone can figure out what this shirt is trying to say, please make a guess in the comments section. Is she complaining that her unrequited lover has just been fired from his job!?
Consumate Love - the unp souniy staro of to me. You Fire The Man J m Hailing For
I highly recommend sushi in Malacca. It’s not that the quality is amazing; it’s just average. But the price is amazing. Compared to what you would pay for sushi in the US or in Europe, it’s very cheap. For 8 to 10 euro you get a tasty sushi meal which would cost you 30-40 euro in Munich.
I can highly recommend eating at the Portuguese Settlement. Very interesting history here: the Portuguese controlled Malaysia for some time in the 16th-17th centuries, and a small mixed-Portuguese culture still exists there today. At the restaurant: there’s a huge variety of dishes, the outdoor atmosphere is great, the Tiger beer is cold, and the seafood is excellent. (Yes, it’s a rare candid appearance of the author himself…)
Dinner at the Portuguese Settlement
If you are lucky, it won’t rain like this. Apparently such a hard rain is not uncommon in Malaysia. I guess the drainage can’t handle it, so the streets quickly fill up with road soup. Actually, this photo is on the way home from a very tasty Indian dinner.
Typical Malaysian rainstorm
The food all over Malaysia is excellent and very cheap. Indian, Chinese, Nyonya, Japanese… I recommend any of the Asian varieties. All the seafood, and especially Chili Crab, is very good. You can also find frogs in the Temple restaurant near the Renaissance Hotel. For dessert you can often find shaved ice with various sweet beans, jellies, and syrups. Beware of chicken, as it’s almost never boneless (just be prepared to eat around chunks of bone). Get used to spoon and fork as your utensils, or try chopsticks.
There’s so much more I could say about Malaysian cuisine… but I’ll just let you visit and find out for yourself! I’ll have a few more articles about Singapore and Malaysia coming up soon, so sign up by email or RSS (orange links on the left sidebar) to be notified about those.
- Okay, there’s not much here specific to any particular restaurant. But I do have the stats for the Portuguese Settlement. Wikipedia article is here and Google maps link is here (see “Portuguese Square” area with parking lot next to it). You can also see it in Wikimapia.
- Driving in Malaysia is normally not recommended for foreigners who are just visiting for a short stay, unless you’re an expert driving in some high-recklessness society already (China, anyone?). I’d take a taxi, as they are anyway quite cheap compared to the west. Most likely there’s also a bus line, though I’m not familiar with the buses.
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 8:43 pm. Add a comment
By: David Douglas
The last three years I’ve attended Forum Vini, a fantastic wine convention at the M.O.C. Convention Center in the Freimann quarter of Munich. Every time I enjoy it even more, and this has become one of my favorite Munich events of the year. One can sample wines from all over Europe, taste unique liqueurs and brandies, and sample all kinds of delicacies from extra virgin olive oil to chocolate coated pumpkin seeds.
These are a few of my favorite memories from Forum Vini 2009:
Steinwaelder Hausbrennerei Schramml had a lot of interesting spirits on display! Stonewood 1818 Bavarian single malt whiskey, a Christmas liqueur, and a Zoigl brandy were nicely arranged in the front for my photographic pleasure. The last was very interesting to me: it’s made from beer of small micro/home-brewers who are allowed to sell their own beer (I wasn’t exactly sure but it sounded like a kind of club or special organization). So this is a brandy made from the very best of homebrewed beer!
Specialty liqueurs from Steinwälder Hausbrennerei Schramml
Next up: tasty pumpkin seeds (wasabi, dark chocolate, milk chocolate+cinnamon… choose your favorite) and other specialties from Dr. Schätzl of Moosburg. Here’s the pumpkin seed oil… which is GREAT on salads.
Pumpkin seed oil from Dr. Schätzl of Moosburg
Here’s an Italian stand, Palmieri Weinshop, where the proprietor was fantasic and friendly, and I must say, the most enthusiastic person at the show… rightfully so, because the wines were great! I especially loved the award-winning Unico Chardonnay.
Italian wines from Palmieri Weinshop in Dachau
The stand with my favorite fortified wines of the evening: Bodegas Tradicion, where they have sherries aged for 20, 30, or more years. I bought a 0.375 bottle of the Oloroso, which has an average age (in cask!) of 42 years.
Premium, very-long-aged sherries from Bodegas Tradicion in Jerez
I’ll finish this post where I finished the evening at Forum Vini: Weingut Michel-Roos has a fantastic array of German-made food delicacies as well as many specialty wines. The Beerenauslese (dessert wine made with late-season, specially harvested grapes) was amazing. When I was there they cracked open several different cans of German meat and slathered them on hearty bread with a bit of mustard on top. Fantastic! (note, these folks aren’t the proprietors, but the pose was just perfect).
Hospitality award of the night goes to Michel-Roos where many cans of Worscht were shared around in a fantastic atmosphere!
A note about photographing at such an event: the main ceiling lights are all fluorescent. This gives an evil green tint to everything. If you use the camera’s flash, you’ll get better lighting… but all the backgrounds will look greenish where they are lit by the overhead lights instead of your flash. The best is to use a D-SLR with a gel on the flash which makes it output fluorescent-friendly light, and set your camera’s white balance to fluorescent.
BUT… there’s one problem, because many of the stands have auxiliary “hot” incandescent lights with their orangey cast. So you’ll get some photos that are hard to correct in a photo program because they have some green and some orange tints in different areas of the picture. Not much you can do about this; I mostly chose shots where the lighting was consistent, and edited the h*ll out of the others.
Getting to Forum Vini:
- First off, check out the timing of this event for next year (likely November) at the Forum Vini Website.
- Don’t fret about the entry fee (which was €17 in 2009), it’s well worth it. Arrive early and you can have hours and hours of wine tasting, all for the price of two cocktails in most Munich bars.
- The M.O.C. is located near the Kieferngarten U6. There is also parking, although I wouldn’t recommend you drive to a wine event. I always take the subway so I can sample as many wines as I please. Google Map of the MOC
Full album of photos: [salbumphotos=2,144,max,y,n]
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 12:43 am. 3 comments
Two important things:
- Here’s the (revised) prospective book cover for my upcoming novel, Demon’s Bane!
- You could win a free copy of the book! To enter, just comment on this blog post by Nov. 30th, 2009.
I’m already including those who commented on the earlier post, which led to this total revision of the art. But I’d gladly appreciate further input from those who gave advice on the last cover… as long as you like this one more than the previous one… haha.
To view in higher resolution, just click on the photo (this is Version 1):
Edit: here’s a second version with the title moved into the infamous “blue space.” Is Version 2 better?
Thanks to J. W. Parente, who provided the art that went into the stylizing cycle! Also to my artistic consultant Dylan, who is a Photoshop wizard.
To enter the drawing, which ends on Nov. 30th 2009, just leave a (non-spam) comment on this post to let me know what you think of the cover. I’m still open to minor modifications. Is it awesome? Does it suck? Is the text okay? If you saw this cover in a bookstore, would you pick up the book and take a look inside? The winner will receive an autographed copy of Demon’s Bane once the book is in print, sent free of charge anywhere in the world that has post.
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 12:13 am. 27 comments
If you are new to this post series, start with Part 1 of the Zugspitze hike. All the details of how to get there are at the end of Part 1.
The first video saw us up the Stangensteig, passing over the Höllentalklamm, and reaching the Höllentalangerhütte for a nice Schweinsbraten (pork roast) with red cabbage and dumplings. The next morning we started early and reached the first stretch of via ferrata, where we clipped into steel cables and walked on pegs across the cliff. Kind of like this:
And of course there were these pesky ladders,
Then the Höllentalferner glacier itself!
I had skied on glaciers before, but in the winter they look like the rest of the ski slopes. Never had I seen one in the end of summer, mixed with dirt and rocks, full of deep crevasses.
Enough photos for now, on with what you’ve all been waiting for: part 2 of the video! There will be at least one more part after this. And again, thanks to Danny Galixy for the amazing music!
Watch “Climbing Zugspitze: Part 2” in HD on YouTube.
A few more choice photos: Scott and Bunky walking up the glacier, taking in the view…
And a bit later, Scott being nonchalant… I think he clipped in for a total of fifteen minutes during several hours of via ferrata ascent. It must be those expensive mountaineering boots, perhaps they cannot slip.
That’s all for today. The next (and final) post should be up sometime after the weekend. Summit views and perhaps a bit of the train ride (we ran out of daylight, and our group’s acrophobic member wasn’t planning to hike down).
Part 3 is now posted! It took a bit longer than originally expected, but I hope it’s worth the wait!
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 9:51 am. 9 comments
When two old friends visited for Oktoberfest, we decided to try the Höllental ascent of Zugspitze, the tallest mountain in Germany. Höllental means “Valley of Hell,” and conveniently there is a Hütte run by the Deutscher Alpenverein part way up. It’s named the Höllentalangerhütte, which literally means “Hell Valley Meadow Lodge.” You’ve gotta love German!
Here’s a photo of the Höllentalferner glacier where you can see Zugspitze in the distance. Click on the photo for a full-res version.
Here’s a shot of a huge ice chunk we found on the way up the Stangensteig path, just before it rejoined the Höllentalklamm path:
I took my newly assembled Canon Vixia HF200 helmet camera along for the ride, and below you can see an HD video of the experience. This climbing video is just part 1 – there will be two more videos coming in separate posts. Let me know how you like my first attempt at a semi-pro video!
Watch “Climbing Zugspitze: Part 1” in HD on YouTube.
The music in the video is by Danny Galixy, whose music and photographs are fantastic. Check out his website!
Climbing this mountain via the Höllental route requires more mountaineering knowledge than some of the other routes up Zugspitze. You’ll need climbing gear including a harness, “via ferrata” equipment, a helmet, and crampons for the stretch along the glacier. A medium length of rope or webbing might also help, as you’ll see in the video in part 2. One should only attempt the climb when good weather is forecast; you’ll see memorial plaques along the route (many for people killed by lightning).
This climb is not standard rock climbing, but more a combination of bouldering and walking across iron pegs. “Via ferrata” means “the iron way.” On the most dangerous parts, one is always clipped into a steel cable by two carabiners. There is a shock cord in the via ferrata equipment so you won’t have a sudden deceleration if you do fall.
Ahem, I also found a bit of toilet humor in the lodge’s restroom, and for once the graffiti cracked me up:
Rough translation (sorry, I couldn’t rhyme it):
In this toilet lives a ghost,
And everyone who takes too long,
Will be bitten in the balls.
But the ghost did not bite me,
Because I crapped upon his head.
Getting to Zugspitze:
- To arrive at the top, you can take the Zugspitzbahn (a Zahnradbahn – geared train), a cable car from Austria, or a cable car from Eibsee in Germany. Link to Zugspitze Roundtrip description
- Of course, I recommend to hike the Höllental route if you’re in shape, adventurous, and not scared of heights. Park here in Hammersbach and walk a bit up the road to the trailhead by the river. There are two trails: Höllentalklamm (which goes along the river and costs a few euro), and the longer Stangensteig route (more ups and downs, and is the way we went).
- Starting height: 778m. Höllentalangerhütte: 1387m. Zugspitze: 2962m (9,718′). Call the lodge to reserve a place if you plan on staying overnight; it’s not expensive even for non-members of the DAV (Deutscher Alpenverein) at 20 euro for adults.
- Where to rent equipment: Werner Niedermeier at WN-Alpin speaks English, and it was around 40 euro per person to rent a harness, via ferrata gear, helmet, and crampons. You WILL need crampons for the glacier. DO NOT ATTEMPT without all of this gear! You can also buy a mountaineering map here. The shop is conveniently located in Garmish-Partenkirchen on the way from the Autobahn to Hammersbach.
- Since we did not have enough time to safely hike back down before dark, we took the Gletscherbahn gondola and then the Zugspitzbahn down. The train conveniently passes right through Hammersbach, and we had to walk a bit under 1km back to the car from the train station.
- Elevation map of the climb: just look at the height profile (graph in lower right side)! If you are afraid of heights, this ascent is not for you.
Here is a link to Part 2 of the Zugspitze adventure! If you’d like to read about Part 3… with more photos & video… subscribe with the orange buttons in the left sidebar. You’ll be notified by either email or RSS feed. Thanks!
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 9:17 pm. 18 comments
Snow fell in Munich in mid-October this year. Now the glaciers are open, and my favorite Austrian glacier ski resort has excellent conditions: Hintertux glacier! The resort is only a 2h drive from Munich in good weather/traffic conditions. Austria cleans the roads quite well, so is even possible to reach if it has recently snowed (though the final bit of road is a bit steep and windy; you could take a bus for the last several km if nervous about this).
There are three sections at Hintertux:
- Top 1/3 = down to Tuxer Fernerhaus
- Middle 1/3 = down to Sommerbergalm
- Bottom 1/3 = Talabfahrt (exit to valley)
When I was first at Hintertuxer Gletscher this year in mid-October for 2 days, only the top 1/3 down to Tuxer Fernerhaus was open. This includes the glacier section that’s open 365 days a year, right near the top. This past weekend (Nov. 7th), the next 1/3 was also open down to Sommerbergalm, although it was a bit icy with thin cover in parts. Let’s see how it is this weekend, as I plan on going again.
Here’s a view of the slope on the back side, the “Schlegeis Gletscher” area:
This slope on the back usually gets bumped up rather quickly, but is great snowboarding if you are there early(or on a quiet day…).
Here’s a view from the exit of Gletscherbus 3, the cable car that takes you to the very top at 3,250m (10,660′):
For those who read the earlier post about pictures of my snowboards, I’ve now tried out the Virus X-Treme Carver Premium 162… this board rocks. It holds well on ice and carves like the piece of fine engineering it is. I have yet to test it head-to-head against my F2 Speedster SL 158, but my impression is that the Virus board suits me better. My sliced fingertip can also testify to the sharpness of the Virus factory edge… watch out!
Getting to Hintertux
- If going by car, you will need to get a Vignette – the Austrian highway toll sticker which you put in the upper left corner of the windshield. 10 days costs a bit over 7 Euro, though you can also get a 2-month-pass or 1-year-pass if you’ll be skiing very often.
- Hintertux on the map: it’s basically at the end of the road running through Zillertal / Mayrhofen. Exit from the A12 is Wiesing.
- If you want a fantastic restaurant after your day on the slopes, I recommend the Alte Hütte in Madseit, at the Alpinhotel Berghaus (Madseit 711, A-6294). The grillteller with 3 kinds of meat, browned potato wedges, and all-you-can-eat salad bar really hits the spot.
- Lodging: I can highly recommend this Pension (Bed & Breakfast) right across from the Alte Hütte: Mehlerhof has a very rustic look, but well-equipped and quite new interiors.
- Weather warning: if it’s cold and snowing in Tirol, Hintertux will have some of the worst weather in the Alps. High winds, whiteout conditions, and fog/clouds on the slopes. So be aware: if the weather is poor, this resort may be your worst choice. This snow forecast website has excellent data for Hintertux by altitude.
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 11:36 am. 5 comments
I was recently honored that fellow writer and blogger Wendy Morrell chose me in her “top 7” for the Kreativ Blogger Award. Thanks, Wendy — I’d put your blog on my list too, if you hadn’t already won! So, here I am to pass on the honor to seven blogs I often read. But first, the RULES for those winners who choose to pass on the award:
1. Copy and paste the picture to your own blog.
2. Thank the person who gave you the award and post a link to their blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself we do not know.
4. Choose 7 other bloggers to award.
5. Link to those 7 other bloggers.
6. Notify your 7 bloggers.
As this is a travel & photo blog, I’ll show seven things about myself pictorially…
I skydive, though it’s been a while since my last jump. This balloon jump at the World Freefall Convention was a memorable one.
Snowboarding is high in my winter priorities. Soelden, Austria rocks.
I’ve eaten ants in Suzhou, China. Yes, on purpose. In fact it was my suggestion…
I have a brother. Here we are in Joshua Tree, CA.
Sometimes I play bass guitar, and I’ve been known to sing. Skydive Orange, VA. Dedicated to my late friend Chris Santiago, the guitar player with the ‘fro on the right.
Once I was confused for Jose Cuervo, on Oct. 31st in Richmond, VA.
Weilheim, a town in Bavaria, hosts my favorite disc golf course in the world.
Now, for my recommendations, in roughly alphabetical order. Just a short sentence about each:
- Christina at An American Expat in Deutschland has great photos and weekly German recipes… mmm!
- The infamous Headbang8 at Deutschland Über Elvis makes me laugh with every post, though there is a strict no-meme policy, as I recently read…
- Ian and Wendy are globe-trotters whose travels I one day hope to equal
- Jul at This non-American Life peppers in a lot of variety and humor into her expat blog
- Melissa’s Bookshelf hosts a variety of great book reviews and giveaways, and gives equal treatment to Print-On-Demand authors (which I really appreciate!)
- Only The Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy is an excellent book review blog that’s rife with German sayings as of late
- Regensblog with Cliff and Sarah has excellent travel articles, links to cheap travel deals, and tasty recipes
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 2:03 pm. 7 comments
I was intrigued by this pink bicycle in Paris:
The angle at which it was hanging on that fence begged for an optical illusion shot. The bright, contrasting colors and unrideable bent wheels brought it all together for me.
I wonder if it’s still there?
Posted 7 years, 4 months ago at 2:00 pm. 1 comment