Peer behind the Iron Curtain to see what East German food is all about.
She is the undisputed Queen of progressive dinner parties in Vancouver. Annika Reinhardt aka Social Bites, is on a mission to bring people together via the dinner table while celebrating home chefs at the same time. I’m such a fan of Annika’s that I actually profiled her earlier this year in a series called 30 People You Should Know. Her latest endeavour is called #DinnerPartyYVR which will turn the traditional Dinner Party on it’s ears. 30 Home (Hobby) Chefs will create and prepare a meal in their home and invite between 4 to 6 people to join them. 100% of the $35 ticket will go to charity thanks to the support of local company Chimp. I’m pleased to be one of the first home chefs Annika asked to participate and you can find out what I’m cooking and where the donations from my dinner will go here. If you want to feel free to sign up and join me for dinner. It’ll be fun and the money is going to a great cause, the BC Hospitality Foundation.
Back to 30 Days Of Ethnic Eats and tonight’s home cooked meal by Annika. Born in East Germany, variety was not the most used word around the dinner table. In fact I learned from Annika while she was cooking that bread crumbs are a big staple in the East German diet mainly because they could be used as a “filler” to stretch out expensive meats and vegetables. Lord have mercy if you were a Celiac growing up in Cold War Germany.
Having dinner at Annika’s is awesome not only because she is a great cook but because she makes it so easy to relax and have a good time. She even wrote the menu out on a chalk board for me
First up is the Carrot Basil soup with Brown Butter Crumbs. Not a German standard but Annika is creaking a true fusion meal of her Canadian influences, fresh herbs grown on her patio and her German roots. The brown butter bread crumbs fried in a pan are an homage to her German heritage and I have to say it really elevates this soup. I think I just picked up a new technique.
For the second course I was actually put to work as you can see in the above video. I make Herb Spatzle with Beer Cheese, Wild Mushrooms and Kale.
I ate way more of the Spatzle than I should have but damn it was good and so easy to make. Check another new dish to add to my repertoire.
Our third and final savoury dish is the one I’ve been salivating about, Pork Schnitzel crusted with Quinoa Granola and a German Potato salad with Canadian Bacon and maple syrup.jpg. The quinoa granola is definitely a Canadian touch as it the Canadian Bacon This dish is fantastic and if you are shy of butter not for you. Tender, crunchy and a slice from heaven is all I can say about the Schnitzel. As for the potato salad the hint of sweetness from the maple syrup is a very nice counter balance to the richness of the butter fried pork. Nomnomnom.
Our last and most decadent course is of course dessert. Annika doesn’t disappoint here either. After heating up some Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey in a skillet Annika pours it over an Annika’s Vices Chocolate Cake with ice cream. To say this is decadent is like saying the Pope is Catholic. Moist and rich like a brownie I could have eaten 10 of these, well only if I had room in my stomach.
How have I been so lucky to know such fabulous people that can all cook so well? No complaints from me that is for sure. Only one last thing to do and that is to share with you the Five Questions and Annika’s answers in her own words.
#1 – If you could have any career you wanted other than what you are currently doing what would it be?
One things I’ve learned having two careers is that you can really do whatever you want to, call it a career or not. Maybe it’s even easier not to call it a career. What you do in life should align with your values and passion, rather than fitting a label. It just puts constraints around your creativity. Be who you want to be. Easy. Well, at least in my head. PS: One job I’ve always wanted to try though is “Nail Polish Creative Writer” – aka the person in charge of naming nail polish. Have you ever looked at some of these ridiculous names? Russian Princess, Lilac Sea, 007. Sounds like a super fun and random job to me.
#2 – Who’s the first person you call when you have good or bad news?
My mom. My parents live in Germany and I still refer to them first when I need advice or have something exciting to share. I talk to my parents every other weekend for about an hour. They were also here for Christmas this year, our first Canadian Christmas in the nine years I’ve lived here. I am very lucky because my parents visit me on a regular basis and I fly home every year. Next trip planned for June. I’m taking my mom to Rome for her 60th birthday.
#3 – What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
Trust your instincts, something I tell myself even today. Too often I overthink things. What if? Why now? How come? Instead of just following my gut to make good decisions, my brain takes the lead. I am a very headstrong person. Rational and logic often rattle the crate and bring imbalance. I guess it’s harder to really trust your instincts with less experience but there were a few decisions I’ve made as a teenager which didn’t feel right and my gut said no, and I went ahead anyways having to pay the price later. Your instincts should never be underestimated. Oh and the other advice I’d give myself: don’t date those jerks, you can drink alcohol your entire life (and it tastes so much better when you can afford a nice bottle of wine), and eat your fish (I only started eating fish a few years ago. A silly fish phobia held me back. Such a waste of good fish eating time!).
#4 – Have you had a light bulb moment in your life? What was it and what did it mean for you?
Oh yes. Such a great feeling. I got to say my biggest one was when I decided to give Social Bites a shot. I was part of a women entrepreneur group and remember the first time I told the ladies about my concept. Random strangers come to your home and eat your food. Say whaaat? Everyone thought it would never work. “In Vancouver? Are you crazy? Nobody opens their homes for strangers.” I reconsidered and changed the whole idea thinking instead the events should take place in public places such as restaurants. Then one evening in the summer, I was invited to a charity dinner at somebody’s house. About 25 people attended the event. The host cooked various dishes for all of us and we were seated in a beautiful backyard, very simply, yet very amazing. I did not know a soul and within an hour I had met Lisa, Greg, Amanda who was married to Todd but he couldn’t make it, I chatted with a broadcaster, a painter, two moms and a realtor. That’s when I had my light bulb moment and knew Social Bites needed to be what it was meant to be – a dinner excursion through home kitchens in Vancouver where strangers and future friends dine together. I set out on a mission to find my first four hobby chefs and was successful in Kits where I hosted the first Social Bites dinner excursion in the fall of 2009.
#5 – Chocolate, Vanilla or Strawberry Ice Cream?
Or salted caramel? I take that one please! First time I tried it was a few years back at Molly Moon’s in Seattle. My friend even smuggled a tub of it across the border for me. I guess it somewhat reflects my sweet and salty (or spicy) personality. I’m all corporate half of the week and then all creative (and crazy) the other half. I’m half German and half Canadian (although my dual citizenship is still pending but I def. feel like a Germanadian), I’m a tomb boy and a high heel princess. Opposites attract, right?
Actually there is one more thing left to do and that is today’s contest details. Good luck!
Enter to win a 30 Days Of Ethnic Eats dining experience with Marc Smith on Oct 15th and a Patak’s product gift basket filled with all sorts of goodies from Patak’s Canada. You can enter every day and the contest ends on Oct 14th. How to enter: (1 entry)
- Like 30 Day Adventures & Patak’s Canada Facebook pages (* required)
- Answer the following question: (* required)
A big thanks to Patak’s for sponsoring the #30DaysOfEthnicEats series. One of my favourite Patak’s products is Spicy Butter Chicken and here’s a super easy and tasty recipe for Spicy Butter Chicken Curry using it. Click here to find out just how easy it is to Mix in a Little India in your life!