#45 Meals in Germany over Easter weekend @ Europa Park

Saturday (15/4) breakfast at Weil am Rhine:  German brot and a German tasteless croissant at the train heading to Ringsheim

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Saturday (15/4) lunch in Fjord Restaurant, Scandinavia, Europa Park: Scandinavian style fish dish! Tuna and salmon sashimi, shrimp salad, bread, etc. Etienne had salmon and potatoes.

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Sunday (16/4) brunch: Bretzel and butter, cheese on a stick, and a cafe latte at Freiburg Station. It was freeeeeezing.

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Sunday (16/4) dinner at Suden, Vauban the world’s best ecoquartier: I thought I ordered sausages because the menu said “Wiener Art” but it turned out to be schnitzel, the German/Austrian dish that resembles the Japanese katsu (pork cutlet). Etienne had a vegetarian lasagne.

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Monday (17/4) breakfast in the train going back to Europa Park again: Salted and unsalted Bretzel with butter and a cuppucino from the same cafe at Freiburg station.

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Monday (17/4) lunch in See-Restaurant am Europa-Park: Spaghetti Bolognaise by the lake.

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Monday (17/4) dinner at Europa Park: Finally a hot dog with a German sausage !

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Europa Park was awesome. I miss it already 😦 It’s the perfect combination of Disney and FujiQ; there’s more to do than in Fuji-Q and maybe just a bit less romantic / magical than Disneyland. The queues weren’t that long either, maybe because the weather was rather gloomy and it was drizzling from time to time. Would recommend to anyone! Make sure to try the Silverstar!!

#19 Some Food-related Habits in France

Documenting some French habits that seem strange to a mere Malaysian like me:

①Using a Scotch-brite sponge to wash dishes AND wipe down tabletops and counters

You know what a Scotch-brite sponge is right? It’s the sponge with a yellow soft sponge side and the other is the harder, dark green side. So, before I came to France I’ve always used this sponge to wash my dishes; the yellow side for plates and things that can be easily cleaned and the green side for harder scrubs. But over here, they use this same sponge to wash the dishes AND wipe the table after each meal. I have to say, it’s quite efficient as the sponge absorbs most of the liquids on the table easily but it still makes me kinda queasy to think that the same sponge is used to clean the table AND the cutleries which I put into my MOUTH. But I just try not to think about it. When in Rome, I guess.

②Not snacking between meals

I think this is definitely the reason why most French girls are slim. You may think it’s all about discipline and self-control but French people have a leg up because they were taught to do this from a young age. You’re always hungry right before mealtimes, and during each meal, you can eat to your heart’s content, but no snacking. I try to practise this but always fail due to my slack schedule and tendency to grab something sweet during my mid afternoon slump.

③Eating chocolate with sliced brioche like this:

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④Plucking flowers off trees on the side of the road and adding them into pancakes

These are acacia flowers plucked from the sides of the road by le bf. It’s his mum’s recipe and apparently it’s a legit thing to do and people cook it like this all over Italy. By the way, the flowers were not mashed up or anything, you fried them whole so you could taste each delicious flower petal. They kind of smell like jasmine to me.

⑤Eating cakes with a spoon

Over here, you eat every kind of cake / tart / dessert with a spoon. I find that instinctively weird for several reasons: Spoons sometimes scoop up too much sauce than intended, spoons lack the grip that I need to hold on to my piece of dessert, spoons require you to taste the bottom of the spoon every time you put a spoonful in your mouth hence affecting the experience, when you cut a bite with a spoon you leave a curve. Therefore, in conclusion, forks are the much better option. I found out through conversations with friends that they use spoons in the US too, but forks triumph in Asian countries.

⑥Stacking plates on top of one another when eating

I’m not even talking about saucers here. So when you eat a meal in a French home, when you’re done with the main course, your plate with whatever leftovers stay on the table, and your dessert plate goes ON TOP of the main dish plate, and you eat your dessert like that. Bravo, it makes the bottom of your plates dirty and now you gotta clean the other side, too. But I have to say that most of the time their main dish plates are usually not dirty because they use their bread as a sponge to “clean” up all the remaining sauces on the plate, leaving a sparkling one.

⑦Placing bread on the table instead of on a plate

And get crumbs all over! At home, I try not to get crumbs or anything to drip outside of my plate but here, you can party all over that surface. And after every meal at my home it does always look like a party happened but it’s OK because then we use our Scotch-Brite to absorb and wipe them up.

 

 

#7 My Best Friend’s Cafe

Subtitle: Jaslyn Cakes. Yup, I am namedropping!

Have you been to Jaslyn Cakes, a one year old bakery located in Bangsar Telawi serving decadent cakes with a homemade feel? If not, I think you should. It’s run by my best friend since primary school, and I remember our first baking experience together: we baked some oatmeal cookies to sell at a booth at our school’s swimming gala. But today, while the only baking I’ve done in the past couple of years were microwave baking with 2 or 3 ingredients, Jas has gone on to way more sophisticated and delicious things ↓

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At an even more sophisticated place ↓

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Photos stolen from her official Facebook page

So, some of the write ups or foodie articles online have described Jas as talented and ‘soft-spoken’. Talented, of course! But the latter? Jas may be soft-spoken to people she just met, but today I will share with you guys the things that only people like me who have best friend privileges can find out.

Please note that I have paraphrased and written out the ‘interview’ below in proper written English. It’ll be funny if we talked like this irl at an afternoon chat over coffee lol.

Q: What do you enjoy most about going into work everyday?
A: I like seeing the regular customers coming in to the shop. We have the Chocolate Chip Cookie Guy who later became the Blondie Guy who I later found out his name was Izmir. We also have the Cheesecake & Latte uncle, Financier Lady, etc. They all have their own favourite food from our shop. Some of them hardly try new things so that’s kinda cute. We also have people from the shops nearby visit us quite regularly, like our friends from Sanifix, Lash Lab, Cziplee and others. Although I do love Jaslyn Cakes, it’s still a full time job and can get quite tiring so it’s hard to be super cheerful 24/7. Mornings are especially hard but seeing my diligent coworkers makes things better!

Q: Sounds like you know your regulars quite well. Do you like chit chatting with the customers?
A: We like to have a friendly environment in the cafe but I think we only start ‘chit chatting’ with a customer after we notice him or her coming in a few times. That’s one of the ways I get to know them better.

Q: Sometimes I like the music at your shop…but sometimes you play songs like Hello from Adele which is overplayed on the radio to the extreme that I can’t stand it anymore. Whose playlist is it?
A: I like to play my slow ‘low-tension’* music but sometimes one of my bakers, Faizal likes to change it to his annoying upbeat and mainstream music.

*Low-tension is an English word made in Japan i.e.’wasei-eigo’ or 和製英語 that has been introduced and since, incorporated into our vocabulary. It refers to a low-energy, slow, or relaxed ambience or a quality of a person. Its antonym is ‘high-tension’, a relatively more commonly used word which means the opposite — a high-energy, hyper atmosphere or mood. For example, Sam Smith’s songs would be low tension and Nicki Minaj’s would be high tension.

Q: Faizal? you mean this guy? I heard he likes reading manga online too.

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Kekekeke. Yup, he’s so tall  we had to make an extra long apron for him.

Q: Do your bakers / staff get to eat free cake sometimes?
A: Sometimes to make the cakes look more perfect we need to trim them, so the trimmings are free for all. Also when we get some down time, we try new recipes and we need to taste test them before releasing them into the world so yes, occasionally my staff and I like to munch on our own sweets, too.

Q: Yup, the last time I visited, I got to try some yummy salted caramel macarons fresh out of the oven. They were dee-licious! Are there many Japanese customers at the shop? I ask this because this interview will probably be translated into Japanese and if there are any Japanese people out there reading, I’m sure they would be interested in this.
For now, not a lot but you never know, maybe they’re just good at blending in with the Malaysians. Although, there was one girl who came into the shop and tried to speak Japanese to us but none of us could understand her! She also left us a brochure completely written in Japanese. Until today, I still wonder what she wanted. I do hope more Japanese customers will come, though. The cakes in Japan I saw were soo kawaii. In fact, the Japanese pastry chefs are also a big fan of French baking, which is what Jaslyn Cakes is inspired by. One of my favourite pastry chefs is Sadaharu Aoki, who trained in France. 

Q: Do you see any interesting trends about the things happening in the shop, e.g., some cakes are more popular at certain seasons, etc.?
Not that I can remember but an easy one I observed is that people tend to order cold lattes on a hot day and vice versa.

Q: Let me play the annoying person’s advocate here and ask a stupid question. What do recommend people order when they’re on a diet?
Ermm, orange juice?

Q: A professional question now: do you have any advice for young people starting out a cafe or F&B business?
Don’t think so much, just do it. There are so many things to worry about but if all you do is worry you won’t be able to get anything started. Try, then overcome the hurdles one by one along the way. Also be realistic. Be prepared to give up most of the time, especially the first few months up to a year because running a business hands-on is almost like having a baby. There’s no quitting so it’s crucial that you persevere. Even after the business gets stable, it’s still running and you still have to continue taking care of it. Lastly, do something that people might want. Everyone can have a good idea, but if nobody buys that idea except you, it’s not going to work.

Jas working to feed everyone with yumminess. Featuring my sister, oranges, and a tired Vana lol ❤

Q: Did you have a solid support system like family and friends when you first started?
Yes, I think if it weren’t for my boyfriend, Kenneth, Jaslyn Cakes wouldn’t be what it is today. In fact, I don’t even know if it would exist! I’m also very grateful to my family and friends who helped me out and supported me greatly from the start. Thanks, everyone!!

Q: Want to share any other lessons you took away from this experience so far?
Hmm, I would say this was a very humbling experience overall. I get lots of constructive criticism from customers and I am grateful for them. And I learned to not react at not-so-good reviews. By taking a step back, I actually realised that these feedback are extremely valuable for how I can improve on my baking and Jaslyn Cakes in general. I have learned to take things with an open heart and own these criticism to move forward more positively.

Q: Lastly, as this is a blog about language / culture, do you have any funny anecdotes related to this subject matter?
Sometimes some aunties ask for the wifi password and when I tell them ‘Sugar and Spice’, they say, ‘What? Chicken and Spice?!’. Maybe I will consider changing my password to that next time.

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Another best friend privilege, free cookie samples! Best lab-rat job ever! February 2014.

 

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The early days: Accompanying Jas for her ‘homework’ — bakery hopping in Paris. Trying some brioche from Laduree @ Champs Elysees! Summer 2012.

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Flashback: Humble beginnings @ Bangsar Telawi Lot 7A. October 2014.