We will leave Vienna in 5 weeks. We asked ourselves for months where we should settled. At the end of the reflexion process we concluded that we should not resettle now but find a simple home base from which we can plan all of our future moves.
And we found this! A rustic farm amidst fields at 1000m altitude in the French Jura, close to the Swiss border with 2 little lakes nearby. This will be a unique opportunity for us to re-connect with nature. Isa and I both love doing house improvements and this farm has a lot to offer in this regard.
I can’t wait to see the face of the locals when the 30T removal truck will arrive!
We have now a home base and this is a great relief. We can start the detail planning of our sabbatical as a family.
I suffered a small muscle injury (left knee) early March after the Marathon of Ferrara. This took nearly 3 weeks to fully heal. Travelling together with the family on Lanzarote, I trained hard in the Swim and Bike disciplines during 2 weeks. I pushed even harder the following 3 weeks working-out between 11-14 hours. 14 days before the half-Ironman was enough time to taper. Today I was about to know whether the last 2 months of training had been effective or not. I completed the distance (it is actually only a double Olympic distance triathlon) in 4 hours and 57 minutes, which was nearly 20 minutes less than I had planned! The winner finished in 3:38…but anyway. I was super happy on that day, the 9th of May.
I went down for the Week-End with Eva who kindly offered accomodation at her parents place, helped me during the whole week-end and even took some pics and video from the race (thanks a million!!!)
The competition started saturday morning at 9:00. Graz Triathlon is actually part of the Austrian Triathlon Championchip and I, green horn amateur, found myself in the middle of the elite and professional triathletes. My rank is showing this very clearly…219 athletes in the front of me and I left only 90 behind me. hm…
I love triathlon starts; hundreds of athletes eager to dive in the fresh clean water (18 degrees) and transform the peaceful lake in a “white water river”. The first 200m were the hardest of the whole course. My body did not adapt well to the temperature at first, it triggered a lot of negatives thoughts. I told myself that I should abandon right now. So I stopped swimming, looked back and saw around 200 athletes behind me. This gave me enough courage to push on and after a few minutes I came the 400m buoy. Turning around that buoy did the trick; I suddenly found my rhythm and after only 38min I was in the transition zone. The transition was awful, as you can see in the film. I wanted to test something new, get all dry clothes before hopping on the bike and put at the same time compression socks. Result: slowest athlete in T1 (first transition) with over 5 minutes!!!!
The bike ride was very hard. 80km with 800m ascent. Flat bike course for triathletes seems to be something of the past. Anyway, after over two and a half hours in my weakest discipline, I found myself back in the transition zone. An now the run! my strongest discipline. 20k during which I passed over 30 athletes and with each overtaking a bit more positive energy in my head and my legs. After 1 hour and 36 minutes I made a poor attempt to jump over the finish line. But this time at least I did not stumble and fall like in the marathon in Ferrara…Conclusion: A perfect day!
I always wanted to go the the Chelsea Garden Exhibition. But knowing that tickets are more or less impossible to get, I was happy to hear Isabel proposing to go to the permanent garden exhibition of Tulln (40km North West from Vienna). Now that we have sold our flat with our garden and do not plan to have one in the coming year, one might ask why going there. Well, both of us like gardening and growing things. The other good reason: it is a paradise for small kids with great playgrounds, children animation, etc…
Overall, we liked the exhibition although the concept was not too clear. Some gardens are built like art-installations, other are showcases from private gardening companies that would like to attract customers, other gardens are from NGOs…etc.. Some of the gardens are very poorly maintained and would need watering. Thankfully, other gardens were very sweet and inspirational. Here a picture gallery of some of the gardens and plants we liked best:
Vienna is better known for Sissi, Sacher Cakes and its New Year Concert than for its swimming pools. This post is an attempt to correct this. Vienna should be known for having a density of very beautiful indoor and outdoor pools situated in the best and most scenic areas of the city.
I discovered those pools one by one with the family and anybody who likes to swim MUST go to one of those pools:
My favorite indoor pools are the ones that were built in the early to mid 20th century.
One of my favorite outdoor pools is Krapfenwaldlbad (19th district, Krapfwaldlgasse 65-73). This pool first opened in 1923 and was restored in 1957 after being damaged during the 2nd WW. The wooden architecture of the changing rooms are unique. But the best about this swimming pool is its view over Vienna. It is simply stunning!
Another outdoor pool I like a lot is the Schoennbrunnerbad. It is situated in the middle of the parc of the Schoenbrunn Castle. Think about it, it is like building a pool in the backyard of Buckingham Palace!
Donna Hay is “my Jamie Oliver”. . . I have never thought, with my Swiss-French origins that I would take an Australian cook as reference. But I have now done dozens of recipes from her and they always pan out. No bad surprises with quantities, cooking times given can be trusted etc…. I like the assemblage of ingredients and her simple, modern way of cooking.
I always think of myself an absolute rookie when it comes to baking desert. I treat even the simplest desert recipes with greatest respect and measure everything with the constant fear of doing something wrong. Here is a simple cake recipe I tried and found quite nice…especially when accompanied by a sweet white wine.
185gr butter, softened
2/3 cup caster sugar
1.5 cups plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup thick double cream (or whipped)
Preheat the oven to 160. Place the butter, sugar and honey in a bowl and beat until light and creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Fold the flour and baking powder into the butter mixture. Spoon the mixture into 12x 1/2 cup capacity lightly greased non-stick muffin tins. Bake in the over for 15-20 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool the cakes on wire racks. Spread the cakes with the cream. Before serving, drizzle with the chilled honey.
This recipe is a classic in our family. It is done in less than 30 minutes with a ready made curry paste. It may sound like a sacrilege to use ready made paste, but I swear the one I buy from my local Asian store is so good, I can’t beat it! so why bother?
What you need:
1 large white onion, chopped
1 table spoon green curry paste
150gr baby corn
150gr Asian baby aubergines
200gr Asian green beans
1/2 liter coconut milk
1/2 liter chicken stock
300gr Black Tiger Prawns
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 table spoons fresh coriander
2 twigs of lemongrass
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the onion and stir until golden add the paste and cook the mixture 3 minutes. Add the stock and reduce the heat to medium. Add lemongrass, aubergines and beans. Cook for 10minutes. Add the coconut milk, prawns and the baby corn. Cook for another 10 minutes. Stir regularly.
When cooked, remove the lemongrass, serve curry on 1 side of the plate. Add some roughly chopped coriander on top of the curry. Serve with Basmati rice.
With all the preparation for our departure from Vienna and my busy training schedule for the upcoming Ironman in Zurich, I have had little time to practice my cooking skills. The invitation of our neighbours for a small dinner at our place gave me the perfect opportunity to see how rusty I was in front of the stove. The planned menu was:
Seared Tuna with Braised Zucchinis (own recipe)
Green Curry Prawn (own recipe)
Honey Cakes (Donna Hay)
And yes, I know now how out-of-practice I am by the sheer facts that I forgot to add salt and pepper to the salad and forgot to cook Basmati rice next to the curry. I also tried new type of shrimps which came out pretty dry… (I will keep the Black Tiger Prawns in the future). It was all a bit embarrassing and I told my self that I need to cook at least once a week from now on.
Here is the recipe of the starter:
150g Corn-Salad Roughly chopped
150gr White Beans (pre-cooked if you need to save time)
To make the dressing, heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the oil, capers and lime zest and cook for 4 minutes or until crisp. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dill and pepper. Allow to cool.
To make the rest, re-heat the same pan over high heat. Add some oil and quickly cook the thin slices of zucchini until golden. Remove the slices and put them in a bowl. Allow to cool.
Place the chopped corn salad on serving plates, add on top some whit beans, cover the beans with some grilled zucchini slices.
Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat. Sear the slice on tuna on 1 side only for 10 second and add the slices on top of the Zucchini. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve.