Monday 10 May 2010

Japan revisited

It was a year ago now that myself and Eric had our big trip to Japan. Maybe it was the arrival (and departure) of the cherry-blossoms here, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately. I just had a look at our photos from our trip and remembered what a great time we had. Anyway, I decided to compile a small photo slideshow of some of the best moments of the trip, which included meeting my family, visiting Kyoto and Tokyo, staying at a Buddhist monastery and seeing our friends Kanako and Hitoshi. We did so much in the three weeks that we were there, but even then we still felt like we could have done another couple of weeks. I suppose that's the best way to leave a country, wanting more. Eric pronounced his visit to Japan his 'best holiday ever!' We will definitely be back.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Beetroot Brownies

Yes, you read right. These beauties were a baking experiment. Not my own recipe but one I borrowed from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, the chef of River Cottage fame. Anyway, he is known for his super strange but delicious recipes and this one caught my eye. I don't know if you can tell from the photo but these came out really moist and decadent. In fact, I think that is the main thing the beetroot lent to the brownies - moisture and also a faint pink hue. They were particularly good chilled for a while in the fridge. A number of people tasted it and they all gave it the thumbs up. And no, no-one could taste the beetroot. It tells you something about the trust that my friends in Berlin have in me, when they happily munch away on my baked goods even though I tell them said baked goods have very strange "secret ingredient" with mischievous glint in my eyes. Thank you kind guinea pigs! My adventures in baking continue with your help.

Chocolate and Beetroot Brownies


• 250g/10oz good, dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
• 250g/ 10oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing
• 250g/10oz caster sugar
• 3 free-range eggs
• 150g self-raising flour (can use wholemeal self-raising, I used 550 flour)
• 250g of beetroot, boiled until tender, peeled and grated

Method: How to make chocolate and beetroot brownies

1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Grease a baking tin of approximately 20x30x3cm and line the bottom with baking parchment.
2. Break up the chocolate into pieces, cut the butter into cubes then mix them up a bit in a heatproof bowl. As the oven begins to warm up, put the bowl onto one of the shelves for a few minutes until the chocolate and butter starts to melt. Stir, and put back into the oven for a few more minutes to melt completely.
3. Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a bowl until combined, then beat in the melted chocolate and butter until smooth. Gently fold in the flour then the beetroot – be careful not to overmix or it will make the brownies tough.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top with a spatula. Bake for about 20 minutes. A knife or skewer pushed into the middle should come out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Don't be tempted to overcook them! Remove the tin from the oven and leave on wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Eric's new video

This is Eric's new video for his song 'Lost'. It was shot in and around Berlin on the S-Bahn. They had a great time making the video and I think it turned out great. It's already got a review from a music-blog in Ireland and has been viewed in a number of countries including Canada, Australia, Norway and Japan.

Just so you know, that is not me, as the love interest, in the video (some people think it looks like me). But, I do have a small cameo appearance at around 22 seconds standing to the left of the screen. I think my official title is Girl in Green Coat.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Mary and Brian's visit

So we just had a lovely visit with Mary and Brian. It was great to see some of our American family as it's been too long since we have been there last. We still managed to pack quite a few things into the three days they were here, though with all we wanted to show them, and with all they wanted to see they could have been here for a week at least. Though it was still quite cold here we got a lot of sightseeing done and I'm posting some of the photos that we took. Above are Eric, Brian and Mary at the base of the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz.

This is Eric and Mary at the fountain in front of the Rathaus (Town Hall).

Both Brian and Eric were in full posing form. Above is Brian showing the goat the horns of rock.

This is Eric with the famous Marx and Engels statues. He seems to like Engels better - Henry would be pleased.

This is Brian cowering in the "crotch of Communism" - Eric's words, not mine.

This is Mary and Eric walking in a tunnel underneath the Spree.

This is Brian in the DDR Museum, driving a Trabi, the East German car.

This is Eric reenacting the scorpion scene from Flash Gordon. Luckily it's only a bag of coffee beans.
Those two wee people to the right are myself and Mary walking in front of the Reichstag.

This is Eric and Brian in the dome at the top of the Reichstag.

To the right, beside the woman in pink, is Mary, in the dome of the Reichstag.

After all our sightseeing, Mary and Brian stopped off for some delicious crepes and ice-cream (we helped). This is Brian in post-Eis bliss, getting his back massaged by the funky plastic seat tubing.

So just some photos to give you a flavour of the visit. What we didn't get photos of were the fantastic cakes that we ate, the fabulous hats that were bought (by Mary) and the many beers that were drank. I do hope that it captured some of the fun that we had though. Truth be told it was like a mini-holiday for myself and Eric.

Thanks for the visit Mary and Brian!

Thursday 25 March 2010

Pomelo! Pomelo! Pomelo!

Meet my new fruit of the day, Monsieur Pomelo. I had never seen one before and they suddenly appeared in the supermarket a couple of months ago. (I got Eric to take a photo of it beside my head so you could get a sense of the size of it. It ain't small, that's for sure! Note the hungry glint in the eyes!) Anyway, since then it seems I have eyes for no other fruit. I am a woman obsessed (so much so I decided to blog on its tastiness)! So what does it taste like, I hear you ask. Well, it is somewhere between an orange and a grapefruit, basically like a sweet grapefruit.

It has this thick pith...

...but inside it is supremely juicy and tasty. And that's it. Not much more to say other than ooh Mr Pomelo, I love you, I do!

Saturday 20 March 2010

Happy Paddy's Day!

This brief blog is a belated Happy Paddy's Day to you all. This is the longest I've been away from Ireland - I haven't been back since October 2008! - and every now and then I still do miss things about home. Mainly the people and their wit, but also things like the beautiful Irish countryside and the way everyone speaks English (though I do find myself speaking Irish every now and then, usually when I'm trying to speak German)! Anyway, the film above kind of tickled me so I thought I would share. Big love to everyone, but especially those of you in Ireland!

Friday 19 March 2010

Eric's Album Launch

So it was finally the night of the launch Eric's album, here in Berlin. After weeks of preparation, rehearsing and baking (see cookies and brownies above) - we were ready. We had the launch at a cool cafe near us called Cafe Hilde, which is owned and run by an Irish guy. They have music every Friday night there. It also is very relaxed and chilled out and so seemed the perfect venue for the launch.

It was a sit-down acoustic performance and I have to say that Eric was in top form. He was also lucky to be joined by several talented musicians we know here in Berlin...

...which included Shaun Mulrooney, brother of our friend Dee from Ireland, Tom Fanore, Cameron Wilson and co-producer and friend Fab Leseure.

Our friend Nina Hynes also sang with Eric on the song 'Running'. This beautiful song is a favourite of many of our friends from the album.

We were expecting about twenty to thirty people to come on the night and we ended up with about sixty or seventy. It made it a bit difficult for those in the back to hear as the place was packed out. But those who could hear seemed to really enjoy it.

This is a photo of Yael, the youngest member of the Eric Eckhart fan club.

This is a photo of me minding the video camera, with our friend Roula.

This is Yael again hanging out with her Papa, Nijen. Slightly blurred to the left is our friend Jonathan who also wrote a lovely blog on the launch.

All in all it was a fabulous night. We both said that it couldn't have turned out any better. We wish of course we could have had some of our American friends and family there too, but we felt you there in spirit. Thanks everyone for making it such a great night and a wonderful celebration of Eric's new album.