Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Carole’s Ten on Tuesday

Today I had a few minutes and I was catching up on my blog reading.  I came across Carole Knits blog where she has her 10 favorite pizza toppings.  So even though I am a day late, I offered to play along …

Here’s my families favorite top ten ...

1. Since we are living in Europe, the first item would have to be the crust.  We love a thick crust and we all miss that!  I know Italy is right next door to us, but their crust is thin.

2. Gotta have cheese.  Think Wallace and Gromit.  Mozzarella and Parmesan but not any kind of Parmesan – Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I learned that from a close Italian friend.  

3. The Shaker’s favorite is the “Diavolo” pizza – ham, salami, mushrooms and chili.  You eat one bite and your mouth is on fire!

4. My favorite is pepperoni and black olive.  But it’s hard to find pepperoni here. 

5. Vermouth is simple.  She loves a good a Margherita pizza (tomato sauce with basil, mozzarella and parmesan cheese).

6. Gin is a little more complicated.  She likes ham, onions, and garlic on her pizza.

7. Then the 3 us (me, The Shaker and Gin) like “Quattro Stagioni” (ham, salami, mushrooms and artichokes).  It’s the artichokes that make this pizza fantastic. 

8. All of us agree upon prosciutto and mushrooms on our pizza.

9. I like a veggie pizza but no one else in the family does.  Everyone is too picky about which kinds of veggies are being included in the pizza. 

10. And I have to agree with Carole on this one – bacon.  We have a saying in our home, “If it has bacon in it, you know it’s going to be good.”
And to drink, you ask?  Beer and/or a really good red wine. Like you need to ask ...

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday's Tin of the Week

Vermouth and Gin each got this tin from their grandmother (The Shaker's mom).  I thought it was appropriate because thanks to Vonage, I can speak to Olive whenever I want!  

The Martini Knitter

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tour Guide Martini Knitter!

I have to say for the past 10 days I have been quite the traveler around the 3 corners of Basel.  Here are the 3 places I had great time visiting:

Valentin Zusslin, Alsace Region

Over Vermouth’s MYP Celebration weekend, The Shaker’s Dad and his “Chick” (as we affectionately call her) and 2 of their friends were visiting from the US.  The Chick asked The Shaker before their arrival into Basel, if he could sort out a wine tasting in the Alsace region.  At our local wine shop that we frequent quite often recommended a winery named Valentin Zusslin in Orschwihr, France. (Click here for contacting info). We tasted some very nice Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.  They even had some nice light and fruity Pinot Noirs to taste as well.  I like the light and fruity red wines but The Shaker cares for a more rich/complex red like cabernet sauvignons or zinfandels.  The village, Orschwihr, is located about 30 minutes from Colmar; it’s small but full of wineries.  No appointments were needed to taste.  The tasting rooms in this village open in the mornings and then take a lunch break from 12 to 1:30 and then open again for the afternoon. 

We arrived about 20 minutes before the afternoon wine tasting openings so we had time to walk around this small village.

Just walking around

Grapes ... just growing along the side of the road

Grindelwald, Switzerland

Then over this past weekend we went to Grindelwald for a wonderful hike through the Swiss Alps to reach an “Alpkasefest” – Alpine Cheese Festival.  Grindelwald is located about a 30-minute drive from Interlaken.  We traveled with our newfound friends, Canadian-Yoga-Girl and her husband, Weekend-Warrior-Guy, and Basel Running Chica and her husband, Ned, (name refers to Ned Flanders of The Simpsons TV show).  We took the gondola from Grindelwald up the Alps to First (2168 meters) and from here we hiked for about 90 minutes (give or take) to Grosse Scheidegg to the alpine cheese festival. 

After we hiked for about 45 minutes, we paused to take some really spectacular scenic pictures, and while doing this, Weekend-Warrior-Guy pulled out a nice bottle of champagne to celebrate Canadian-Yoga-Girl’s birthday!  Then we continued on where we reached the “Alpkasefest.”  The festival housed about 4 or 5 cheese huts located very close to the Berghotel Grosse Scheidegg where we had lunch.  We tasted some really nice cheeses and one that was put over an open fire to give the cheese a nice woodsy/warm fireplace taste. 

I will admit I very happy that I have been swimming almost everyday for the pass several weeks, because parts of the hike were steep!  I was slow at times, but I know I could have been way slower if it hadn’t been for the daily exercising.  I did feel rejuvenated once we finished the hike.  My lungs felt clear and my skin felt great!  I will say this: Swiss air is good for the soul!

Just starting out

The Shaker

This is as close I could get.
But Weekend Warrior Guy got closer

The alpine cheese huts
Canadian-Yoga-Girl, a traditional Swiss guy
and me

The Alpine Cheese Festival

Staufen, Germany

Earlier this week, I went with a group of ladies, including Candian-Yoga-Girl, to Staufen, Germany for a historic guided tour.  We were met by Mephisto (from Goethe’s Faust); and, against my better judgment, I let the devil himself guide me through this beautiful city.  Staufen is known to be where Faust supposedly made his pact with the devil and lived and died in Room #5, on the 3rd floor of Gasthaus zum Lowen located in the center of town.  But unlike other guided tours, this one is unique as it’s a theatre production right there before your eyes.  Mephisto, and sometimes Faust himself as he appears from time to time along the tour, quotes some interesting facts about the village.  But it’s an outdoor theatre production live, and at times impromptu, because life is going on and sometimes gets right in the way of a great theater production!

Me and Mephisto
Photo courtesy of Canadian Yoga Girl :)

Side note: Our tour was in English by a fantastic performer named Bernhard Marx.  If you are planning to do this tour, it’s advised to contact Mephisto Tour to book a tour in English (info@mephisto  However, if you speak German, you may not need an appointment. 

The Martini Knitter

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Honestly, I Am NOT Throwing Olive Under The Bus

I love Olive because last week she calls up and says to me, “Did I just see that you casted on another project???”  Now for the reader who doesn’t know Olive this is how we banter back and forth.  If someone was to meet her, she would say that everything I start I do finish … eventually.  I never really leave a project hanging around for too long.  I heard a tip recently to keep the project in view at all times.  It works for me because eventually it will drive me nuts to finish it!  Here’s the secret about Olive, she can see all my works in progress because they are right here on my blog.  Scroll down towards the bottom and you will see “On My Needles.”  Yup, it’s all there for the world to see … literally! 

Ok so looking at “On My Needles” right now, and for the sake of Olive looking at my projects, “The America the Beautiful” socks and “The Luck of the Irish” socks are for driving in the car or while I am on the tram.  And I have been knitting other projects while on the tram lately - that's why there hasn't been any progress.

But you gotta love Olive because she is the one person who can make me throw all other projects out the window just to start one with her.  Oh yes!  She has sucked me into another project and that I was more than willing to do. She and I and few members of the Twisted Knitters group have signed up for Claudia’s Hand Painted Yarns Sock Club at Yarn Mountain.  And I am not complaining in the least because I got free shipping from Yarn Mountain.  Now I am not sure if this was the way it was suppose to be, but hey, if someone has “free world wide shipping” I am you shopper!  The Yarn Mountain selects a color for you and you get a pattern to go with that sock yarn.  We all got different colors. I got “Mangled Tangled” and the pattern for September is “Leyburn Socks” by MintyFresh.

I did have trouble with the starting of the toe.  I like using the magic loop method on double pointed needles for starting my toe up socks.  So thanks, Olive, I have learned, yet, another technique – the short-row toe.

When I am knitting socks and I need a gauge that requires 8/9 stitches to the inch on fingering weight yarn, I know instantly before starting the project that I will need a size US 0/2 mm DPN’s.  And, of course the 3 sets of US 0/2 mm DPN’s that I own are all in use at the moment.  However, I am not one to take my project off the needles and slip this existing project on a stitch holder.  Oh no, I will just go out and get another set of DPN’s.  Come on! It’s not like I am not going to use them again and I love knitting socks … so there … that’s my justification.  And yet it gets better … because the part above where I mentioned “free world wide shipping” the Addi needle site has exactly that!  And I am glad I just placed an order with them because last Friday Olive called me from her LYS saying this:  “What color do you like in the Quince & Co.’s “tern” to make Ann Budd’s Abbey Road socks?”  ... I chose yellow and purple ...

The Martini Knitter