The good, the bad, and the ugly of late:
THE GOOD: Early summer produce complete with a photo! Even though Poland is really close, the only produce I ever see from there are mushrooms (and this seems to be true all over Europe). But these were really good and not very expensive chanterelle-type (?) mushrooms that made an excellent pasta sauce with leeks and garlic. The red currants are Northern Europe's take on cranberries. My clients enjoyed (I hope) an almond-polenta pound cake with an apricot-red currant compote and sweetened mascarpone and then we celebrated Canada Day (why not?) with red currant pancakes with maple syrup.
THE BAD AND UGLY: I cannot recommend trying to buy hiking shoes on a Saturday in Germany. But, we are going hiking in the Alps next month and I have to buy shoes because the ones I walked across Spain in melted (long, sad story). Germans get really excited about hiking shoes so this was like watching pigs at the feeding trough when the slop is particularly yummy. (Disclaimer: mein Freund did not care for this analogy.) This is difficult for my American brain to compute as I find them all heinous, overpriced, and uncomfortable. Paying a lot for beautiful shoes is one thing, but ugly, clunky ones? The salesman rejected my shoe of choice. I had to ask over and over and over again for him to bring it. And then he finally brought it but 1-1/2 sizes too big. I tried it on to make sure, but then I had to tell him that he had brought the wrong size. He told me that it was in fact my size and that I was being "typically English." Finally I got so fed up, I told him I had to go have tea, but I don't think he understood.
Stay tuned for a report on the 4th of July a la Berlin. An American friend has planned a little BBQ complete with quasi-illegal Azerbaijani fireworks. It should be a good time unless we all get deported...