Dabbling in pastry at Le Cordon Bleu Paris

The sun shone brilliantly in a bright blue sky, but it couldn’t warm the chilling January wind gusting sharply out of the northeast as I walked along the Seine to Le Cordon Bleu, at 13 Quai André Citroën in the 15th Arrondissement in Paris. Once safely inside the front door and out of the wind, I…

Travel: Castle Hohenzollern, Germany

Atop a windy promontory thirty miles south of Stuttgart, on foundations dating back to at least the 11th century from which feudal robber barons launched raids on the peasants below, sits the neo-Gothic ancestral home of Germany’s Prussian monarchy, Hohenzollern Castle. Reduced to rubble or ruins at least twice in its 955 years, the castle’s…

Travel: Of humans and horses on the African Sahel

Across the parched grassland, russet with Sahara dust, lies a timeless sun-swept African village of hardened sand-clay huts, which once a year throngs with extravagantly outfitted equestrians and exotically adorned masses from a vibrant tribal culture wholly unlike anything else in the world. For the past 16 years, over one long weekend in late February…

Treasure hunting in Germany

Whether you’re searching for a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift, a special set of wine glasses, or a unique piece of furniture for your new home, the many antiquing venues in the Stuttgart area have treasures worth browsing. At the edge of the Weinachtsmarkt, at Karlsplatz in downtown Stuttgart, there is an enclosed and heated antiques and…

Travel: We wish you a scary Christmas

There is much more to the Christmas season in this part of the world than twinkling Weihnachtsmarkts, hot glüwein, roasted chestnuts, and spiced lebkuchen. For one thing, the winter holidays have a decidedly spooky side in the Bavarian and Austrian Alps. Krampus and Perchta, devilishly wicked-looking creatures from Alpine folklore, come out after sunset beginning…

Heritage food: Filder-spitzkraut

Filder-spitzkraut is a conical green cabbage variety (Brassica oleracea Capitata) unseen in the U.S., except in cans, but it’s juicy flesh, mild and delicate flavor, and broad and tender leaves would make it welcome in any American kitchen.   In southern Germany, it lends itself well to sauerkraut, cabbage rolls and wraps, salads, soups, and…

Urban tumbleweeds

Urban Tumbleweed – a carelessly discarded plastic bag picked up by the wind and blown about city streets. They’re everywhere. They may be called “urban,” but these tumbleweeds can be seen in suburban, rural, mountain and aquatic environments. And unlike their namesake, these tumbleweeds don’t harmlessly biodegrade. Plastic bags are made from oil, a non-renewable…