Monday, August 29, 2016

Cafe Crumble review

Cafe Crumble holds a spot in my heart among favorite cafes in Frankfurt, just next to Sugar Mama (which is my very favorite). 

I first happened upon this cozy little spot well over two years ago.  In fact, its become the default meeting locale when Sally, my dear friend and I, meet for tea and conversation.  Cafe Crumble has also become the place I tend to bring my pile of blank Christmas cards each December and where I sit, the solitary sweet little candle burning brightly on my table, and fill them in for my friends and family.

Cafe Crumble is heavily wooded yet equally balanced in creamy tones throughout the main space.  The cafe is fairly sparse but somehow it manages to feel welcoming and warm inside.  The word I mentioned previously, "cozy" is a fitting one.   They have a patio out back, the ground made up of small pebbles, the tables casually wooded and metal, the chairs folding, the area semi-covered in a shady swath of greenery.  Dali, one of my close friend and I played cards on this patio for a couple of hours one summer afternoon (I taught him Mille Bornes, one of my childhood favorite games) while we sipped our teas and coffee, enjoying the balmy breeze and the trees rustling above us, tucked within their shade.

The tables inside tend to fill up fast after work in the evenings and on weekends beginning around breakfast and just starting to taper off around dinner time.  The patio is equally as full in warmer months.  This is a popular little spot.  I see a fair amount of regulars in here.  People who know its good and continue to return.

The menu is simple, yet well prepared and tasty.  They tend to have some kind of a quiche on offering each day.  Often times there is a pasta dish on the menu.  There is usually a soup of the day, and generally a large meal-sized salad.  They offer various breakfast items.  Eggs, croissants, brioche.  They serve the typical German breakfast of bread, cheeses and cold cuts.

The standout dish here, in my opinion, is their namesake dish.  Their dessert crumble.  This is fabulous.  Usually made with apples and mango, or apples and pear.  Sometimes with a smattering of different berries making for a more colorful, eye-catching option.  Always topped in a sweet, buttery, slightly grainy crumble.  And always poured over with a light vanilla sauce.  This is to die for.  I love this dish.

In terms of other desserts, they have a plethora of regular cakes freshly baked and available for your sampling.  A plain cheesecake, a chocolate crumble cheesecake, a poppy seed cake, egg liquor and chocolate cake, sometimes a cherry cake, carrot cake, and very often they will have a peach crumble cake of some sort.  My favorites would be the chocolate crumble cheesecake and the poppy seed (both pictured below), but all are yummy.

They have a large selection of teas, coffee, hot drinks and cold drinks.  All the menu items are fairly priced here.  Their specialty is breakfast items, though they do offer more in the way of meal options and dish choices.

Their staff has never been anything but warm, courteous and helpful to me.  I have always enjoyed coming in to Cafe Crumble.  It has the vibe of a comfortable quaint dining room.  The perfect spot one could sit with a book or some writing and wile away the afternoon.  Or, an ideal spot to meet a friend for something sweet and fabulous conversation.

Here is a link to their website.

Cafe Crumble is located at Kiesstrasse 41 in Frankfurt.  They are open every day.  Go check it out.  Its definitely worth a visit, and a taste sampling!!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Autumn = Perfect time to Curl Up with a Great Book

Hi all!

As those of you who read this (and who know me personally) know, I LOVE to read.  Its one of my greatest passions, one of my most sought after activities to do in downtime, something that fills me with excitement, contentment and joy.  I think books are an integral part of life, in general.  From books, one can learn anything.  About a topic that interests you, about a place you wish to visit, about relationships, friendships, or about the intricacies of a different culture from your own.  One can learn about anything, from cooking to gardening, to how to start a small business, or how to improve ones photography skills.

Reading can transport you to other worlds or time periods.  Fiction is based on truths found in human lives.  Thats where fictional stories come from.  They are based on the real dilemmas, challenges and emotional paths of what it means to be human.  Therefore, I believe reading fiction offers just as much in terms of meaning to ones life as nonfiction does.  Within the pages of fictional books, one can find themselves there.  Or at the very least, reading fictional stories opens your mind to different ideas about how others might live their lives, deal with relationship challenges or other human plights.

I think reading is an activity that yields endless benefits.  I personally cannot get enough of it.  I cannot imagine a life that didn't involve books.  I imagine it would be a far less fascinating, engaging and stimulating one.

Therefore, I have a list of reading recommendations for you in celebration of fall.  Autumn is my own personal favorite season.  I love the leaves changing color, catching flame.  I love the slight chill in the air, even as its still mild outside.  I love the vibrations in the air of new beginnings, back to school excitement, starting over (to me, September feels more like the beginning than New Years ever has).  Something about summer coming to a close signals a "new year" to me.  I love the explosions of all things pumpkin flavored (sadly, Europe doesn't offer this.  One of the heartbreaks that I have experienced living here as an American.  I miss pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin pie.  The stuff dreams are made of).  As the temperature drops, books and cozy blankets beckon.

Without further ado, here is the list.  All of these are awesome reads.  I know this because I read all of them over the past 7 weeks or so!

Click here to check it out on
This is one of my favorite books of all time.  I cannot recommend it enough.  Ive read it twice and will undoubtedly read it again.  Cheryl tells us the story of her emotional struggle with her mothers death.  She reveals her toying on the edge of heroin addiction.  She talks about her relationship with her now-ex husband, Paul (a relationship that is both deep and incredibly touching).  She explains how all of this led her to the decision to hike the PCT trail, hundreds of miles on foot, never having been a hiker previously, never having trained.  Her experiences on the trail are fascinating and suspenseful.  In this book, I love the openhearted way she tells her story, laying herself bare.  I saw myself in some of her words and passages.  I identified with this book and just loved it.  Give it a read :-D I imagine you will like it too.

Click here to take a looksie on of the synopsis
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she's not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave's fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever. 
I loved this book.  My mom recommended it to me years ago after she read it and really enjoyed it.  The two of us gobbled up the entire series.  Super charming and fun to read.

I blew through this book.  Its essentially about a marriage, and all the details, ups and downs, the nuances if you will, of a decades long relationship.  I found it gripping, emotional and really interesting.  This book is about a couple, both of whom are quite different from one another.  Doug is serious, pragmatic, logical, grounded and stiff.  Connie is adventurous, imaginative, insightful, creative, reckless and romantic.  This story takes us along for the trajectory of their story, from their meeting right up to the present day, when Connie has told Douglas that she is thinking she would like a divorce.  After they tour Europe for three weeks with their teenage son that is.  Douglas is shaken and devastated.  Thus, we are taken along to learn the timeline of their story.  I read this book in three days I think.  I didn't want it to end.  I liked how it explored the complications and intriguing contradictions of relationships.  And actually, I really enjoyed the (what I think was) realistic and somewhat surprisingly nontraditional ending.
Here is more information on the book if it sounds interesting to you!

I read this one during my recent solo trip to Sweden.  It was excellent.  Similar to a modern day How to Make Friends and Influence People.  This book gave sound and yet personable advice for how to be great with people.  And trust me, most people aren't.  Most people are average with others, if not less.  This book gives a lot of great advice for how to improve your connections and relationships with others.  From how to be a better listener, to the two second trick that if you use it, will win over nearly everyone.  The book talks about the one way to ensure you never have a shortage of friends and people who like you deeply, to how to smooth things over when you upset someone.  Everyone should read this book, really.  Everyone.  Then I imagine we might have far more efficient and well functioning relationships in general (from romantic to colleagues to friendships).
Check out the book here!!!

I read this book in 36 hours during my recent solo trip to Sweden (along with finishing the second half of Wild by Cheryl Strayed and The Art of People by Dave Kerpen).  This book was a fast one.  Gripping, definitely dark and disturbing, akin to witnessing a train-wreck in which one cannot look away.  It was intriguing, creepy and suspenseful.  This book is based on the Manson murders, from back in the 70s our in California.  This is already a dark, fascinating story in and of itself.  (Other reading, I highly recommend Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi.  He was the prosecutor in the real Manson murder trials and he wrote this book.  Its RIVETING.  I could not put it down.  Nonfiction.  Read this book for sure if you like thrillers).  Anyway, I recommend The Girls.  Its a fast read and a gripping one at that.  The prose and language is outstanding.
Take a close look at The Girls...

For those who know me, they are familiar with my interest in the topic of health.  Nutrition, exercise science, health in general (including emotional health as well as physical), I love this topic.  Its a passion of mine, though maybe a slightly more subdued one (as opposed to my more obvious passions for writing, reading, baking/cooking and travel ;-)). 
This book is a great read.  I am currently finishing it up.  Its another one I would say everyone should read.  Its written by two people who obtained their PhD in this area.  The books claimed are backed by hard science and its chalk FULL of testimonials as well as cited scientific proof for what they discuss.
The book talks about what our bodies are meant to eat, and the type of nutrition and diet one should follow in order to essentially rid ones body of disease, or to be likely to ensure that one will not contract a debilitating disease later on in life (as the majority of disease we get is actually preventable). 
The book talks about what to eat to feel great, to have high energy, to improve ones mental health, to obtain you optimal weight, etc. 
My one critique on the book would be that its pretty science heavy.  I did skip over certain sections.  But as a whole, the book is very worthwhile in terms of the potential life-altering health advice and knowledge it offers.
Check it out here, if you are intrigued about exploring better health.

I love this book, though I haven't yet quite finished it.  Essentially it helps guide and inspire you towards improving your writing.  The author herself is a magnetic writer.  Her suggestions are moving and inspiring.  The book is thought provoking and definitely motivational.  If you love to write, or are wanting to improve your writing, read this book.
Here is what the book is about in more detail.

A quote/great piece of insight from her book that I especially love (Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg)

I finished this book a couple of weeks ago.  I had been seeing it on the newsstands for months and months, along with his other bestsellers, yet I had yet to read any of them.  But one day, I picked this one up at the library and decided to give it a go.  Really thought-provoking and excellent.  Gladwell talks about what makes someone a success.  Are they just lucky?  Does it have something to do with their background, such as being rich or privileged?  How much does ones IQ matter?  Are those who strike it rich or famous truly talented, or might there be something else behind what catapults them to fame as opposed to another person who might be just as talented?  Why do some people get noticed and not others?  These are the questions this book addresses.  A very worthwhile and eye-opening read.
Check it out here...

I find Anita Shreve books to generally be pretty hit or miss.  Some of them, I have loved.  Others were duds during which I lost interest in fast.  This one was a surprisingly good one.  I feared it might be a miss because of its uninteresting title, but picked it up actually for the very reason of the title.  Something in it spoke to me.
This book, in a nutshell, is about a group of friends who come back together long after college has commenced and they've gone their separate ways, for a friends wedding.  Old romantic feelings are restirred, the characters in the story are complex and interesting, and the prose is excellent.  I blew through this one, really enjoying the complexities between the characters in regards to their past connections with one another.
You can take a look at the plot in more depth here.

I didn't think I would love this one as much as I did in the end.  I read the first book, A Streetcat named Bob and really enjoyed it.  The story is a nonfiction one about James Bowen, a young man who struggled with heroin addiction in his past and now trying to move forward and make a life for himself in London, when he stumbles across this sweet tabby cat, Bob who changes his life.  Bob is particularly insightful, mischievous and smart.  The friendship they forge is one that tugs are your heartstrings, hard, and is deeply moving. 
So, I picked up this one, the second book hes written, and decided to give it a shot.  While the writing itself isn't phenomenal, the story is an extraordinary and beautiful one.  My eyes welled with tears at the end of the book (and I happened to be on the subway, so I attempted to turn my face casually towards the door so no one would witness it).  I would recommend this book.  The story itself is a remarkable, noteworthy and worthwhile one.
Read a bit more about Bob here.
And, a special treat for you.  A short, touching little video clip of Bob :-)

I really enjoyed this one.  So much so that I have read it twice.  Its a perfect summer/beach read.  Its a fast read.  Its a relatable and fun read.  What I liked the most about this book was the exploration of the complexities of romantic love.  The main characters different connections with both her husband and her ex/big love.  I thought this was a neat, gripping and slightly more daring/intriguing topic then the usual chick-lit novel.  And I liked it because I feel its more a reflection of real relationships, in that they are complex and multi-layered.  (Though, the parts about the matchmaking were of course, fluffy and not realistic ;-)). 
I would definitely recommend this book, especially to my female friends who like these sorts of books.  If you like Emily Giffin, Jennifer Weiner, other Elin Hilderbrand books, Gayle Forman, Mary Kay Andrews, any of those authors, then you will absolutely like this one.
You can read a less vague and more concrete plot line here ;-)

Another one I have read twice.  This book is nonfiction, written by a man who did his PhD on the subject.  The book is about why so many of us, SO often, choose the wrong partners.  He really deconstructs and examines this, in a relatable, personable and fun-to-read way.  He talks about the mistakes we make when choosing a partner, why often times our own judgement is actually pretty faulty (as opposed to our friends and families judgement which, shockingly, is often BETTER than our own in regards to our romantic partner choice!!!), and he talks about how we could avoid the mistake so many of us make in choosing wrong and instead, choose better. 
I loved this book.  I found it fascinating, relevant and thought-provoking.  I recommend it for anyone who wants to read more about how to approach relationships more thoughtfully and for those interested in approaching their relationships in a way that will make them the most likely to be happy, successful and healthy.  If you want to know how to make sure you choose the right partner, read this book ;-)

I read this one a couple of months ago, but another great nonfiction read.  This one is really thought-provoking.  I loved it.  The book is in support of marriage and commitment.  However, what it deconstructs is the idea that marriage must be a one-size-fits-all institution in order to be happy and successful.  In fact in their book, these two point out that for the vast majority, one relationship lasting the duration of ones lifetime (aka a marriage) isn't realistic.  At least half of couples split up, and that isn't including the ones who remain married/together but aren't especially happy.  AND that's not including the people who are unfaithful. 
So, if you combine those three stats, of the people who split, and the people who stay but aren't happy, and the people who cheat, for the vast majority of people, a lifelong monogamous relationship with one person doesn't tend to work.
What I like about this book is that it points out, why is this a point of shamefulness and a sign of "failure" according to our society?  Especially when its the case for SO MANY people.  They point out that this (the fact that its so commonplace for relationships NOT to be lifelong) would suggest that actually, its a normal and human thing.  Relationships last as long as they do (some last a short while, others a long while), but often times they conclude and have an end point.  This should be ok.  It should be viewed as natural and normal. 
This is not cynical or pessemistic, its simply being real. 
 The book then segues into the topic of, if marriage is a challenge for the majority of humans, how can we maybe look at it a bit differently or reshape our ideals of it to help boost its potential for success?
If those ideas intrigue you, check it out.

So, there you go.  Loads of fun, varied, interesting reads for the upcoming autumn!!!  

I have my new stack ready for the next few weeks...SO excited!!! :-D (plus additional small stacks of books scattered around my room, also patiently awaiting being cracked open).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Final Smattering of Enigmatic Edinburgh Photos

This last entry concluding Scotland is going to be a short and sweet one ;-)

Judith and I made the climb up to Calton Hill, a famous viewpoint that gives a stellar panorama of Edinburgh below.  Really, really pretty.  We loved this.  However, the wind was whipping quote hard on this day.  The wind was so strong that it was slightly difficult to walk!

After we clamored to the top of Calton Hill, Judith opted to do a bit of shopping while I went off in search of a cozy little tea shop where I could do some reading and writing.  I settled on the Sir Walter Scott Tearoom.  I just stumbled upon it randomly while walking, and it looked like a good spot, so I went inside.  Judith and I parted ways at 1pm and agreed to meet up at 3pm.

I made my way up the antiquated stairs and into the charming, cozy, slightly shabby chic tea room which was situated at the tip top of a particularly ornate building.  I hadn't yet sampled the supposedly incredible, very Scottish dish of a scone with a side of cream.  So I decided now was as good a moment as any ;-)

I ordered the plain scone with a side of clotted cream and jam.  I expected the usual when it came to scones.  A softness closer to that of a rock as opposed to something moist and yielding.  However, the latter is shockingly what I got!  I bit into the scone and was totally surprised to find it was cakey, soft, moist, slightly sweet, a tad crumbly, and just REALLY delicious.  I smeared on the cream and jam.  My god.  Explosions of awesomeness began to take place in my mouth.  I was suddenly really, really enjoying myself.

I sat there by the window with a fantastic view of the Ferris wheel and the Scott Monument literally just across the way from me, while I ate, wrote a lot and read.  It was the best.

After I finished my scone (debated ordering a second but then restrained myself) and tea, I headed out to meet Judith in the nearby park we had designated as our meeting point.

See the very tip top set of windows??  That is where I sat.  I got a window seat!!  I had the best view.  It was warm and cozy inside, a super welcoming respite to the chilly, drizzly day outside.  I really enjoyed this.  The tea, scone, view and warmth.

Judith and I had an awesome afternoon in this park.  You can see that, right? ;-p ha ha ha.  All joking aside, we sat on a stone wall, the park was packed with locals, revelers, tourists, students, couples, etc.  We people-watched, laughed a lot, chatted about a variety of interesting topics, this was an especially great time during our trip.  It was one of my favorites actually.  I really enjoyed this moment with her.

As part of this fun few hours in the park, a woman passed by us and stopped to hand Judith a package of these odd looking pictures one could hang from their nose.  The pictures depicted particularly disgusting looking mouths and teeth, all rotten and gross.  Apparently the point was to promote prevention of gum disease.

Suddenly, I grabbed one, put it on and said to Judith, "put one on!  Lets take a photo, it'll be perfect."  She protested a bit, feeling embarrassed about people watching us.  But I pushed her and said, "aw, come on, these are awesome.  Who cares?  Lets just have some fun."

The above photo resulted.

Literally every single time we looked at that photo over the course of the next two days, Judith and I both would just lose it, howling and howling with uncontrollable laughter.  We agreed it was a spontaneous silly moment that yielded a pretty awesome and gut-busting-laughter-worthy photo.

Another one of the photos from our gum disease prevention photo shoot ;-p

This street was just, wow.  Stunning.

This was a particularly yummy meal.  Judith had chicken stuffed with....drumroll....haggis!!!  She took the plunge and tried it.  For those of you who do not know what this is exactly, its a Scottish specialty dish, a traditional dish.  Its made of Sheep heart, liver and lungs.  I know.  DISGUSTING sounding, right??  I literally tried a bite the size of the head of a pin.  I admit, it tasted similar to stuffing.  But I refused to try any more sizable portion.  Knowing what it was ruined that possibility.  Judith raved about it, saying how delicious it tasted though.  I admired her for that. She was a brave soul.  I opted to stick with my quinoa, walnut and butternut squash salad, which was super tasty. 

Tea and cake at Patisserie Valerie.  This chocolate cake was INSANE.  It is one of the richest cakes I have ever eaten.  I could only finish about half.  Whoa.  Delicious but SO intense.

This street was awesome.  So narrow, intriguing, creepy, lovely.

Where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter <3

Oh my gosh, Judith and I were so lucky.  I don't think we had a single meal that was short of totally delicious.  All of them were super yummy.  Whenever we got hungry, we took our time a bit.  Checking reviews online and reading the menus outside of each place.  As a result, we ate REALLY GOOD food during our entire trip.  And nothing pricey either.  We were both talking excitedly about this by the end of the trip, how great all our meals had been.

Anyway, this breakfast was another thumbs up.  The location was Saint Giles Cafe Bar.  I had another scone here.  My second one of the trip.  It was great as well, though the one I ate at Sir Walter Scott's tearoom was much better, I have to admit.
For a drink, I sampled an Edinburgh Fog.  This was Earl Gray tea mixed with milk, honey and vanilla.  This was lovely.  Light, sweet and tasty.  Judith had yogurt with granola along with a ham and cheese croissant, both of which she said were excellent.

The atmosphere in this little cafe was great too.  Heavily wooded giving off a warm, inviting air.  It felt homey, comfy and like a place one could hunker down for the afternoon with a great book.

This looked like, to me, where someone like Tim Burton might live ;-)

We snapped these two photos inside the bar called Banshee Labyrinth.  Judith had really wanted to see this place, so we went and checked it out, had a few laughs inside ;-)

Edinburgh has definitely been catapulted to the top of my list of favorite European cities.  I really loved the atmosphere, vibe and architecture of this city.  It had a great mixture/balance of both darkness and light to it, which I found especially intriguing and fun.  The city felt like the perfect setting for a Gothic, darkly glittering haunting or fairy tale.  But on the other side of the coin, the architecture was absolutely gorgeous, ornate, old, everything one looked at was beautiful, literally all of it. 

I am itching to come back to this city and explore it even further.

If anyone has any recommendations for Edinburgh of their own??  Other favorite spots in the city that they discovered which I haven't mentioned in my Edinburgh blog entries?  I would love to hear them!!

Here is a quick link to Part ONE photos of our Edinburgh Trip.
Another quick link to Part TWO of our Edinburgh trip photos.