Saturday 31 December 2011

Kelonia, the turtle clinic and observation center in St Leu, la Réunion

Simply fantastic day with the turtles yesterday! We went to the turtle center "Kelonia" in St Leu, Reunion. The previous turtle farm ("Ferme Corail") is now a turtle clinic and education&observation center.
During a very informative guided tour we have learned that 5 out of the 7 turtles world species are to be found in the waters around la Reunion: "tortue verte" (green turtle), "tortue imbriquée" (hawksbill turtle), "tortue caouanne" (loggerhead turtle), "tortue olivâtre" (olive ridley turtle), tortue luth" (leatherback turtle). Due to the fact that the green turtle (latin name: "chelonia mydas") is the most common in Reunion, the center carries its name.
From all 5 species in Reunion, the green turtle is also the only herbivore one, that's also one of the reason why the people were consuming its meat for centuries. The turtle farm was launched in 1977 and was growing turtles for their meat, bones, fat and carapace. A big poster explains what each part of the turtle body was used for...

The convention of Washington in 1981 has declared the green turtle for protected specie internationally. However the turtle farming in Reunion stopped only in 1994. Since then the center is used for education and observation purposes.
One may meet in several aquariums turtles in different sizes and ages. There are also tortoises from Madagascar and the Seychelles! The center also show on display the different items people at different continents were producing from the turtle carapace, real pieces of art! Some other artifacts make one sad thought. On the last picture is the plastic content found in the stomach of a turtle which was operated in order to keep on living...Several don't have this chance and die...

Thursday 29 December 2011

La Réunion and its fruits...

Here we are, this time live from the French territory "La Réunion" in the Indian ocean. This volcanic island is situated between south Madagaskar and Mauritus island and is 63 kilometres long by 45 kilometres wide...End of december its like the beginning of the summer here, so a lot oflocal fruits are available. For first time in my life I have not only seen trees hanging down with kilos of litchis (known and called by locals "letchis"), I had also the big pleasure to go collect some myself with our local friend Jojo! Under the letchi trees some local wildlife (a frog and a butterfly were very kind to pose for a picture too). On the way back a mango-tree dropped few fruits for us...
Back from the letchi gardens I had another very important task: to collect all ripe passion fruits in the garden of our friends:-)) What a fruity experience...

Below you can admire the first evening changed in different colours within an hour, simply fantatsic:
More reportages to come very soon! Next will be the amazing "Jardin des parfums et epices"!

Sunday 25 December 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Christmas time is baking time....

Wishing you all very HAPPY and cozy holidays...with my fruity
Christmas tree I have created myself last night for dessert:-)
As usually in december (and may be because of the cold weather outside) I love to open the winter baking season. The German habit of baking the famous "Weihnachtsplätzchen" (cookies for Christmas) and the fantastic smell of  warm cinnamon from the oven are two reason why I always have fun doing it:-)
So this year I did four different kind of cookies:
- the honey-cinnamon balls, family recipe from my mum;
- the cacao-mapple siryp ones
- the hazelnut cantuccini
- the oats-buckwheat-cookies;

After vising USA I was also pretty curious to do some muffins myself at home. So below ou may see the yummy result of my salty pumpkin-chickpeas flour-creation too.

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Münchener Mittelalter-Weihnachtsmarkt/ Munich Middle-Age-Christmas market

For six years in a row on Wittelsbacher Platz (close to Odeonsplatz) one may visit (while living in the 21-st century) a Middle-Age-Christmas market....Its quiet a nice experience to sight the cute wooden houses and the way drinks and smoked fish are prepared "the old-fashined way"...Munich Christmas fairs go back to late medieval time. A "Saint-Nicolas-fair" is mentioned already back in 1410!
Nowadays one may enjoy he working craftsman and women and buy their art...Its a great Weihnachtsmarket, make sure to dress well, because if its not snowy and freezing, it might be raining+windy!

Next to clothes, spices, juwelery, one may also enjoy medieval spectacles and ancient music concerts on the weekends.

Thursday 15 December 2011

Christkindlmarkt am Marienplatz, Christmas market in the heart of Munich

Munich offers every year over 25 different Christmas markets, something for all different tastes! The "Cristkindlmarkt am Marienplatz" is however the oldest and definitely the most famous one...150 wooden houses create for a month Cristmas feeling in the heart of the city. Next to the stands with the mandatory warming up "Glühwein" and "Würstchen", one may gaze at candles, spices and Christmas decoration..
Every year one may find here the same stands: as the one with the bamboo angels for example. This year I have discovered a few new and interesting ones. A home made soap with sheep milk  from Austria or with olive oil from Italy: presented in very creative shapes and packaging (see first picture)...For the chocolate lovers there were all home-bricolage tools made out of...chocolate (a stand on Rindermarkt). Avoid the market after 18h as it gets too crowded and you might get a little be toosqueezed...however definitely worth a visit for all Weihnachtsmarkt-Liebhaber!

Sunday 11 December 2011

Cacao-art of Pierre Marcolini in the Marcolini chocolaterie, Brussels

I did discover the chocolate masterpieces of Pierre Marcolini around 6 years ago and since then I am just hooked...I am aware that a lot of people think its a bit posh or that you may give more money just for the glitter, but I do believe that one pays for better quality. Pierre Marcolini is one of the very few cholatiers still running the "bean-to-bar" operations: which means he knows and selects the beans he works with. There is something for everyone: dark, milk or white...praline, ganache or truffles...or just a chocolate bar...And one can (literally) taste his love to chocolate in the final results.

As I am a big dark-chocolate fan I was really thrilled some years ago with his box of chocolates called "Saveurs du monde".  Each chocolate carries the name of the country where the cocoa beans come from...Ecuador, Madagascar, Venezuela, Ghana, Brasil, etc...My taste has changed not that long ago ( from sweet direction dark chocolate) and I was amazed with this selection of Marcolini to discover the different flavours of cocoa beans depending on their country of origin!.
So in my eyes his products are indeed exquisite, but they do take you to a new chocolate world, a cocoa-world of amazing taste and great quality! For the Christmas season 2011 the Marcolini boutique in Brussels is also offering some new chocolate-creations in the shop at "la Place du Grand Sablon", displayed in the shop-windows...Enjoy with your eyes (and may be even note down his name for a tasting next time you are around:-)

Monday 5 December 2011

Tour of great chocolateries in Brussels: Place du grand Sablon

Brussels is for sure a "chocolate city" with its accumulation of amazing "chocolateries"! And I am not speaking of the most known to us chocolate-shops as Leonidas, Neuhaus and Godiva... 
Lets stroll over Place du Grand Sablon and see even more impressive and different chocolate makers...I am talking about Pierre Marcolini (the only hand-made chocolatier in Europe, the 2 pictures below)! Check the display windows of the chocolate shops- a real treat for your eyes+sweets-cravings and an important medicine for happy soul!
I was very happy to enter the first shop of the French chocolatier Patrick Roger in Brussels. The lovely shop design (first picture of this entry) and the very beautiful and creative products he offers (the Xmas tree out of chocolate and the Sinterklaas-heads out of marcipan) makes you stop and I was enchanted to taste some of his truffles (with a bit of Belgian beer) and his very delicious ganaches!

Sunday 4 December 2011

A tour in MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York...

I was really impressed by MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Very interesting and pleasant for the eye&soul mix of photographs, paintigs and other pieces of art are exposed at 5 different floors (I had to skip the Garden of sculptures due to the darkness outside and the fact that I gave my coat at the wardrobe)...The museum opened its door in 1929 and is located in Midtown Manhattan, on 53rd Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.
Its definitely the first time I see a helicopter hanging in a museum...I liked the mixing of famous European artists (Gaugin, Van Gogh, Picasso, Kandinsky, Miro) and unknown to me American ones, such as the works from Jacob Lawrence. His work (on last picture) is showing in a series of paintings the heavy life of African American after the World War I.

A place to go and to enjoy, every Friday from 16 till 20h also for free (normal entrance fee is 25$). The museum has a bit over 2 millions visitors a year. This allows its Director Glenn D. Lowry to live in a rent-free $6 million apartment above the museum.