German Popster Peter Fox Goes Ape in Berlin

December 11, 2009 at 9:38 am | Posted in Europe, Germany, music | Leave a comment
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by Tripatini staff

Germany’s hottest pop star of 2009, the bearded 38-year-old Berliner (né Pierre Baigorry) is a member of the dancehall/reggae band Seeed. Last year he released his first solo album, Stadtaffe (“City Ape”), from which this hit single “Alles neu” is taken (and the simian theme is carried amply into the video, as you can see). The album’s been a Euro-blockbuster, and the song’s striking visuals are matched by provocative lyrics such as, “My head explodes, everything has to change,” and “I burn my studio, sniff the ashes like cocaine, I strike dead my goldfish, bury it in the yard.” Good times…

BTW, another popular song from the same album, “Haus am see (House on the Lake)” was a little more sedate, to say the least — just as well, ’cause after all this strenuous monkeying around, we need a breather.

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Berlin Celebrates the 20th Anniversary of Its Infamous Wall’s Fall

November 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm | Posted in Europe, Germany, history | Leave a comment
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pic Spotlights Berlin wall iStock_000009673520XSmallby Tripatini staff

November — and especially Nov. 9 — mark a huge, emotional anniversary for this country and its capital — and for that matter, for Europe and the world. Namely, it’s the 20th anniversary of the Mauerfall (fall of the Berlin Wall), leading to the reunification of the Bundesrepublik and the GDR, and of course to tectonic shifts in world politics, culture, and more as the Cold War started fading into the past. Visitors to unified Germany’s capital this month can attend various art and history exhibitions and presentations around the city including an open-air exhibition in Alexanderplatz. If you happen to be in town on the 9th, events include a huge street fair and a concert by the Staatskapelle on famous boulevard Unter den Linden near iconic Brandenburg Gate. Besides all that, there are sites that will remain into the future, such as the artist-decorated preserved segment of the Wall and ominous border-guard tower on Muhlenstrasse; a museum devoted to escapes from the GDR; and a re-creation of the famous “Checkpoint Charlie” border crossing. If you’ve got time to head beyond the city into eastern Germany, you’ll also find memorials, museums, and other monuments to the era of division. More info: Tripatini’s Berlin group.

Where Cider Houses Rule

October 12, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Canada, culinary/food & drink, Europe, France, Germany, Massachusetts, New York State, Oregon, Quebec, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, Washington State | Leave a comment

by José Balido

A demo of traditional pouring technique at a gala at the Cider Museum in Asturias, Spain.

A demo of traditional pouring technique at a gala at the Cider Museum in Asturias, Spain.

It’s autumn in the northern hemisphere, and in a few key regions of a few key countries that means apples and cider, both “hard” (mildly alcoholic) and not. While pomaceous potions are brewed — in versions sweet, dry, and downright tart — in countries as varied as Argentina, Russia, and South Africa, in certain fetching parts of Europe and North America, cidre, sidra, and Apfelwein are an integral part of the life and culture. Any one of them would make a juicy getaway indeed. So how do ya like them apples?

Canada: Quebec Though found in Ontario, British Columbia, and elsewhere, in Canada fermented jus de pomme has been a particularly important part of Quebec’s heritage ever since it was brought from France centuries ago (and they keep innovating, as with the relatively recent “ice cider”). A Route du Cidre covers some 30 producers, many family-owned but several run out of Roman Catholic monasteries (Cistercian cider – who knew?). Most are in Montérégie, just south and west of Montreal, and you’ll find the rest in the Laurentian mountains and the Quebec City area (including three on an idyllic isle, Île d’Orléans). CidreDuQuebec.com.

Britain: England & Wales Scores of small and medium producers crank out hundreds of labels worth of cider and perry (its pear counterpart). England’s West Country, Herefordshire, and East Anglia are hotspots, including historic thatch-roofed inns such as Bretforton’s half-timbered, Elizabethan Fleece Inn, Hereford’s Cider Museum, and a Cider Route covering big producer Bulmers and ten others. CiderMuseum.co.uk, CiderRoute.co.uk, UKCider.co.uk, WelshCider.co.uk.

France: Normandy & Brittany Normandy’s best known for Calvados, but also strong in sweet, brut, and semi-brut cidres; the epicenter’s the Pays d’Auge/Calvados region, anchored by the picturesque village of Cambremer and the larger capital, Lisieux. The Route du Cidre here takes in two dozen visitable cidreries. Brittany’s lower on the radar but does some fine work in a slightly different style, served up in colorful ceramic bowls and cups instead of glasses. Its own Route du Cidre in the Cournouaille region covers nearly 40 villages and towns and a dozen cidreries. Besides a wonderful Gothic old quarter, the Breton capital Quimper offers an interesting, apple-oriented Still Museum. Cidre.fr, Deauville-Normandie-Tourisme.com, RouteDuCidre.free.fr, TastyBrittany.com.

Germany: Frankfurt/Hesse & Moselle/Saarland German Apfelwein (aka Ebbelwoi) is on the dry side, and in Frankfurt with its more than 60 Ebbelwohnkneipen (cider pubs), many of them in the Sachsenhausen district, it’s arguably as big as beer; you can also visit Kelterei (cider houses) throughout its hinterland in Hesse, as well as down south in the Moselle and Saarland region bodering Luxembourg. The epicenter here is the town of Merzig, and a Viezstrasse (Cider Route) takes in some two dozen small producers. Frankfurt.de, Merzig.de, Viezstrasse-Online.de.

Spain: Asturias In the green north, the Basques and Galicians put out dry, refreshing sidras, but nobody puts it at the center of their cultural universe and identity quite like their neighbors in the lush, rolling principality of Asturias. Every town has at least a couple of sidrerías, where sidra natural is poured from bottles held high over the head, to “awaken” the fizz (a top sidrería hotspot is capital Oviedo’s hopping Gascona Street). Some of the 110 llagares (cider houses) give tours, and there’s also an interactive sidra museum in the town of Nava (among other things, you can sample a wide range and try your hand at the distinctive pouring method). Visit llagares on your own or book tours through Comarca de la Sidra, which include ancient, atmospheric family operations that don’t sell their output. LaComarcaDeLaSidra.com, Sidreria.com.

USA: New England & Upstate New York There are dozens of atmospheric mom-and-pop cider makers dotting the landscape in all five New England states – some still using old-fashioned steam-powered mills (B.F. Clyde in Mystic, Connecticut) or really old-fashioned rack-and-cloth models like the one at Cold Hollow in Waterbury Center, Vermont. Meanwhile, over in the Empire State, the Hudson Valley just north of New York City is prime apple country, and the Finger Lakes out west is also worth checking out for outfits like Lafayette’s quaint, century-old Beak & Skiff.  NewEnglandApples.org, NYCider.com.

USA: Pacific Northwest Cider’s pedigree here may not be quite as venerable as in New England, but it’s certainly well established, as there are dozens of lovely spots in Oregon and Washington within convenient driving distance of cities such as Seattle (for example, Orondo Cider Works, three hours east) and Portland (Ryser’s Farm and others in the countryside just south of the city). TriCountyFarm.org, WashingtonAppleCountry.com.

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