Friday, February 28, 2014

Return of the Kirschtorte

Black forest gateau, the mainstay of any 70s sweet trolley, is making a comeback in its German homeland. Nowhere makes it better than Café Schafer in Triberg; the writer met chef Claus Schafer, the heir to the original 1905 recipe, who revealed its secrets:

Cream & Kirsch

Whip the cream until silky, blend in gelatin and two shots of quality kirsch. Mine is 56 per cent and from a local distillery.


Tangy morello cherries offset the cream’s sweetness. The compote needs cherries sugar, cherry juice and a pinch of cinnamon.


Spread compote and cream onto the bottom layers of sponge, and press on the top. Drizzle with kirsch, and cool in the fridge.

Finishing touch

Spread the gateau with cream, then decorate with piped cream, cherries, chocolate shavings and icing sugar.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Life Resort

Executive summary by darmansjah

There is no better way to appreciate the magnificent scenery, pristine coastline and awe-inspiring limestone formations surrounding Ha Long Bay than with Life Resorts’ newly launched summer package, which allows visitors to enjoy a private cruise within Ha Long Bay’s spectacular Central, Eastern and Western Isles. Designed only for two at any one time, the USD453 per couple package includes a one night stay aboard one of the four-star Life Resort’s heritage junks, entrance fees to major attractions within the bay, daily meals, unlimited non-alcoholic drinks as well as free usage of kayaks, snorkeling and fishing gear. Log on to :

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Snail-pace Food

Executive summar by darmansjah

Andreas Gugumuck stands alongside his snail yard on the outskirts of Vienna and begins to tell me about the long, almost lost, tradition of snail farming in this city. The yard is the size of a basketball court, and sprinkled with half-chomped soup vegetables.

Centuries ago, Andreas explain, snails were highly valued as a source of protein among the poor. By the turn of the 20th century, Vienna had become a world capital in snail production. Those halcyon days vanished, however, and snail farming had virtually died out until Andreas decided to pack in his IT job a couple of years back and revive the tradition. Today he produces two types of snails for Austria’s tables – Helix pomatia, a variety common in Central Europe that has a gamey taste, and Helix aspersa, the variety most often eaten in France.

‘The pomatia emerge from the ground in late March and begin mating,’ he explains, casting an eye about. In a stroke of luck, we discover a threesome. ‘The act usually lasts about 12 hours. They lay about 40 or 50 eggs in the earth emerge about 30 baby snails.’

His snails, however, tell only half the story. Andreas also produces a snail caviar by harvesting their pearly white eggs. I tried it at Aubergine, one of Vienna’s upmarket restaurants. It is served with Kalbsbeuschel, a Viennese veal offal entrée based on sliced lung. It’s surprisingly good, with no hint of awkward slime. For more information please log on :

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Traveling Blind

Seeing the World My Way by Tony Gilles is published by Silverwood Originals.

Tony Giles has visited all the world’s continents independently. The remarkable story of how Tony Giles travels around the world alone, despite being blind since birth. I got the travel bug from stories my dad told me about his trips with the Merchant Navy. Then one of my friends from school started to go to gigs and stay in hostels overnight, so I began to go with him. My first trip was to Norwich of all places. I knew travelling as a blind person wouldn’t always be easy, but I was brought up with the attitude to be positive. Once my mum got her head around the fact that she had a disabled son, she wanted to give me as much independence as possible. My travel I breakthrough came when I went to study at a university in South Carolina. My friends arranged to go to Florida after term finished. Mickey Mouse isn’t really my thing, so I decided to New Orleans on my own instead. Lots of people warned me that it was a dangerous city – but I was determined. It was in New Orleans that I became aware of the immensity of what I was doing. I got information from the hostel about the direction of the tram-stop I needed for Bourbon Street. I walked out of the hostel, and just froze. My whole body shook with panic. But I said to myself, ‘This is what you wanted. If you don’t want it, go home.’ I took a deep breath, turned left, walked down the street and never looked back. My biggest problem is money. In England, the notes are different sizes, but in the States, they’re the same. I know that if I get $100 from the bank, it’s usually five $20s. as long as I remember what I’ve spent, I’m OK. I’ve been short changed in the past – that’s just part of travelling. Being blind does mean that I appreciate different things. Obviously, I’m not looking at the sunset or the beautiful colours of the flowers. I appreciate things through my feet instead, like when I’m walking up a mountain, or through my skin, if I’m walking through jungle, or through my hearing.  I can detect changes in temperature and space. I’m very aware of energy in my surroundings. If I’m walking along a path and come into an open field, I can detect that the energy has changed and a space has opened up. It’s the same if I’m walking through a forest, I can tell that the air has become squeezed, and that the space is a lot thinner.  Different cities smell differently. Bangkok has a dirty smell of fumes mixed with incense. That’s my vision of a country: the sounds and the smell. So places like Istanbul or Bangkok are great if you’re visually impaired. I have to rely on the help of strangers while travelling. People in Turkey were particularly helpful: they’d help me back to the hostel or start up a conversation. Big cities in America are difficult, and I found Morocco quite aggressive. Sometimes the language barrier can make places feel more unfriendly than they are. Being blind can break down barriers, especially with women – they like the fact I’m not looking at them as sexual objects. Plus, I’m confident and willing to joke about my blindness, which helps once people have got over the shock of seeing a blind person travelling on their own. I almost always travel on my own. I like the challenge. I have started to travel with my girlfriend, who’s blind too. It’s great, but does cause problems-I’m more protective. If I walk into things, I’m not bothered, I just bounce off them. When she walks into things, I have a heart attack! 

Tony’s travels have taken in New Orleans’ trams, the feel of a $20 note, the energy of a forest, the scents of Bangkok, and the kindness of strangers in Turkey.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Traffic in Norwegian

Executive summary by darmansjah

There is no finer way to enjoy the natural, unspoiled beauty of Norway’s coastline than an authentic Hurtigruten voyage. Travel directly into the heart of Norwegian life by exploring cities, tiny ports and narrow channels on what many people call ‘the world’s most beautiful voyage’. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful places to stay, the local cuisine, and fantastic hospitality – all in the midst o Norway’s magical midnight sun.

To get inspiration and learn more about Norway, go to; pristine nature & wildlife; breathtaking villages,