Monday, November 22, 2010

Cologne, Germany, or How We Ate Seven Different Animals in a 40 Hour Period

Bobby and I had a wonderful weekend in Cologne, Germany. Our weekend away included ancient Roman ruins, Gothic cathedrals, awesome German food, and, of course, German beer! Cologne is home to the beautiful Cologne Cathedral, or the K├Âlner Dom. Begun in 1248, the cathedral wasn't completed until 1880.

Bobby and I were both particularly fond of this stained glass window, which looked like color pixels.

The cathedral houses the Shrine of the Three Kings (the same ones from the Christmas song "We Three Kings"). Dating from the 13th century, it supposedly holds the remains of the Three Kings.

The cathedral has a very rich treasury. I especially liked the pieces with emeralds!

I think this is a neat photo.

Here is a photo of us with the Rhine River behind us. It was cold in Cologne, but no where near as cold as Copenhagen is now!

Here are some photos of a few of the other churches in the Old Town.

We went to the Roman-Germanic Museum on Sunday morning, which houses a huge collection of indigenous archeological finds. Here Bobby poses with a large gate, which he says proves evolution Ray Comfort style since the carved creatures are half ancient sea serpent, half goat. He's the scientist, so I trust his judgment!

We saw this bicycling bar on the street. The people bicycle while a guy in the middle pours everyone beers. This particular grouped looked like they had been bicycling/drink for a while... the moved very, very slowly.

Christmas is nearly upon us! Since Europeans can't use Thanksgiving as the marker for when you can put up Christmas decoration, they begin a bit early. Sadly, the Cologne Christmas Markets opened up the day after we left, but they were setup and decorated with lovely Christmas trees.

The other highlight of our trip was the food and drinks we consumed with gusto. Bobby drank beer with every meal except for breakfast. I made it a point to consume as much animal protein as I could.

I arrived in Cologne on Friday evening. After meeting Bobby at our hotel, we took the tram into the center of town. On the tram ride, Bobby noticed a small but nice looking restaurant. We decided to take out chances and hopped of the tram. Good thing we did! Ox und Klee was very small, with only 6 or 8 tables. The waitress translated the small menu for us. I picked the 'Chef's Surprise', a 3 course menu created by the chef. My first course, pictured here, was a rabbit terrine (animal number 1).

My second course was ox cheek (animal number 2) on mashed purple potatoes and haricots verts with a cranberry sauce.

Bobby ordered the evening's special, roasted goose (animal number 3) with red cabbage and potato dumplings.

The third course, which I kindly shared with Bobby, was a blueberry cheesecake, nouget 'air', and stewed quince.

On Saturday afternoon, we found a little cottage restaurant for a good, hearty lunch. I had the bratwurst (which I think is made of either beef or pork, either way, animal number 4) and roasted potatoes, which was delicious with spicy mustard.

Bobby had venison goulash (animal number 5) with maggots... just kidding, those are potato noodles, and apple and pear sauce.

With a lunch as hearty as the one we ate, you'd think Bobby and I were set for the rest of the afternoon, if not the rest of the day. But you should know us better... we like to eat a lot (especially when the food is so cheap compared to food in Denmark!), and we love sweets. While walking around in the late afternoon, we came across the Cologne Chocolate Museum. We looked inside the gift shop the saw the cafe. We just want 'a look', which turned into tea with a piece of chocolate-layered cake. Chocolate heaven...

We lucked out once again Saturday night with our restaurant selection. We saw a big crowd outside of a restaurant door in the Old Town area near the cathedral. We went in and discovered a giant traditional beer hall! The Brauhaus Sion has been a beer house in the same location since 1318! We sat down and ordered another fantastic meal. Bobby had the house bratwurst with potato salad.

I had pork knuckle (animal number 6) with stewed cabbage and potatoes. As we were eating, we noticed that the size of the restaurant was the only giant thing. Nearly every person who walked by our table was well over 6 feet tall, including the women! It turns out that the Germany 'Tall Person Club' was in town. I felt like a real munchkin around these people!

On Sunday, we ate our final meal in Cologne. While walking around the previous night, we saw this restaurant and wanted to have dinner there. However, the wait was too long so we moved on. We walked by again on Sunday and decided to try our luck one last time. Our good luck persisted and we had a wonderful lunch of mussels (animal number 7) from the specialty mussel restaurant.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall is here, and so is conditional probability

Colors have definitely changed over the past month, and the trees at the university are barren. The grass is covered in all shades of yellow and red, which makes orange. Our front court is now nicely framed by a warm-colored shrub. Our two bicycles are at the lower right.

To celebrate the changing colors we made an Ethiopean dish called "doro wat," which is like a cinnamon chicken stew with a hard boiled egg added to spite the hen. Our injera (the bread used to eat the food) turned out more like a crepe than anything else! But it still was tasty! Next time we will have to prepare the injera batter days in advance so that it can have the proper fermentation.

Tonight I schooled Carla in conditional probability. We played a game called Monty Hall. Ten cards are face down, one of them is an ace. Carla picks a card at random and I uncover eight of the other cards that are not aces. She can then keep her choice or pick instead what is hidden under the unflipped card. Carla said that in that case it will be a 50-50 chance she wins, so she will always keep her choice. My eyes bugged out of course because the best strategy in this game is to always switch. With this strategy one will win 9 out of 10 times (in this particular scenario). So Carla played this game five times and won none of them. Then it was my turn. I could literally hear her begin to respect conditional probability.