Seven Edible Emeralds

Shortly after recovering from this year’s post-winter blues, I recently discovered a new hue, a color which has long been the symbol of hope, peace, and balance. My newest “it color”, this year’s Pantone color of the year is emerald—and it’s edible.

Uncut emerald from Muzo,  Columbia. © Dr. Klaus Schmitt
Uncut emerald from Muzo, Columbia. © Dr. Schmitt

During the arrival of spring when nature awakens from its long slumber, plant life slowly surfaces with waves of luscious green palettes that capture the attention of insects and humans too. Just like nature, our bodies are slowly triggered to prepare for renewal, but we’ll need a bunch of emeralds to get our bounce back.

For this year’s springtime cleanse, I’m making a variation of the traditional Frankfurt Gruene Sosse or Green Sauce recipe.

History of Green Sauce

Frankfurt, the financial center of Germany where emerald-colored euro banknotes flow freely, pays supreme homage to green sauce. The origins of the sauce go back to 1492 when Sephardi Jews expelled from Spain came to Germany. With them they brought recipes which lack garlic yet call for a generous use of herbs. Not only are the contributions of the Jews to culture, science, politics and business in Frankfurt important, but also the herbs once sold by Sephardi Jews that make up the green sauce.

© By Jpp (Own work), (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) via Wikimedia Commons
Green Sauce monument. © Jpp, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html, via Wikimedia Commons

The sauce is so well-loved that there’s even a seven-day Frankfurt Green Sauce Festival where visitors sample varieties of the sauce and at the festival end, a green sauce champion is crowned.

The green sauce which consists of seven herbs is a healthy portion of borage, burnet, chervil, chives, garden sorrel, parsley, pepper cress, and a few more ingredients that form a delicious and healthy sauce.

The White and Green Package
Local grocers in the Frankfurt area sell the seven essential herbs separately or you can conveniently purchase them in a package. A good grocer will expose the bundle of joy in order for you to take a sneak peek and ensure the correct equivalent of precious leafy green herbs are in the package.

The seven herbs required for green sauce.
The seven herbs required for green sauce.

The precious herbs don’t come in a little blue box, but I treat them as if they did. The green and white package is regarded with respect as would a skilled lapidarist with their uncut gemstones.

A Blend of Seven Edible Emeralds

Once the leaves are removed from the stems, I decide to not to hack or chop them, they deserve more respect. After all, we are taking about edible emeralds. I use a Japanese ceramic blade which ferociously cuts with precision and detail.

The goal is a mix of finely minced leaves which after some refinement become as light and airy as emerald dust. Just like an emerald reveals its beauty with the introduction of facets and light, the color and clarity of the seven edible emeralds awakens on the cutting surface.

The final step in the process includes blending the seven greens with Greek yogurt, creme fraiche (sour cream), a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.

Frankfurt Green Sauce recipe
Frankfurt Green Sauce

After a couple of hours in the refrigerator, the silky emerald-green topping awaits a dance on top of hot-boiled fresh potatoes and is garnished  with chopped hard-boiled eggs.

This spring polish your body like a multifaceted, semi-precious stone, and indulge in Seven Edible Emeralds—an incredible recipe for renewal.

Click here for my Frankfurt Green Sauce recipe and let me know how it turns out.




Frankfurt Green Sauce Recipe

The Frankfurt Green Sauce is a healthy low-calorie, vegetarian alternative topping for potatoes.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serving: Makes 4 portions

Seven Edible Emerald Sauce /Frankfurt Green Sauce)
Seven Edible Emerald Sauce /Frankfurt Green Sauce)

Ingredients

  • 1 package of Frankfurt Green Sauce herbs or 10 – 12 ounces total; equal amounts of borage, burnet, chervil, chives, garden sorrel, parsley, and pepper cress
  • 300 g. (1 1/3 c.) Greek yogurt (I prefer to drain it in a fine sieve for a thicker sauce)
  • 150 g. (1/2 c.) creme fraiche (sour cream)
  • 1 T. (soup spoon) olive oil
  • Drops of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Boiled potatoes (preferably fresh) sliced in half (still warm)
  • 3-4 large hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Wash and carefully drain the herbs.
  2. Remove the leaves from the large leafy herbs. Discard the stems or use for another recipe.
  3. Carefully roll the herbs into a tight pile and run the knife through the roll, keeping your strokes as close together as possible. Repeat until the herbs are fine and dust-like. The more you chop, the more the emerald color and aroma will fade.
  4. Place the herbs in a bowl and mix the yogurt, creme fraiche, and oil. Taste and add a few drops of lemon juice to start (then more if desired).
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Cover and chill the herb mixture for about two hours.

Place the boiled potatoes slices on a plate, add heaping dollops of the Seven Edible Emerald Sauce, and garnish with chopped eggs. Add salt and pepper to taste.




The Eierautomat Experience

I’ve become quite intrigued with eggs lately especially since I’ve been passing the Eierautomat sign on the highway for a many years now, so I finally decided to check it out. After all, its Easter, a time to color and eat eggs–and lots of them.

During my travels to Holland I have driven past plenty of Broodje Automat (sandwich dispenser) signs and OK, I get it! A sandwich, candy bar, or drink dispensing machine makes sense. For some reason I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of an Eierautomat (automatic egg dispenser), but am so looking forward to the experience.

I keep envisioning a Flintstones clip where Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, and Dino drive up to the automatic egg dispenser for a dozen eggs (that would be six or ten if you live in Germany–yep, we use the metric system). My vision goes like this, Fred inserts a stone coin into the machine which triggers the Brontosaurus-sized hen to lay a Brontosaurus-sized egg. Then, after a short wait and the willingness of the hen, Wilma opens the door and the egg is dispensed. Maybe that’s the way it was about 150 million years ago, so I imagine today’s Eierautomat is so much more advanced.

The Eierautomat Experience

Today, like Wilma, I took my Fred (husband) to the Eierautomat in hopes of having my vision of hens laying eggs in a free-range automated environment come to fruition, but only to find disappointment. The dispenser is just that, a spotty looking storage unit for eggs, and unfortunately today it was empty. That meant I had to ring the bell and go to the counter for normal service or settle for apples from the egg dispenser.

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Eierautomat (Fresh egg dispenser?)

No, I just want to have a Wilma experience!

Inside the tiny room I was able to choose from brown or white large and small eggs, and of course apples too, so I decided to purchase ten large brown eggs, paid the farmer, and hung my head in disappointment as I left.

My husband went to the car so he could LOL (laugh out loud) and I stayed behind looking around the farm for hens and a remote sign of a hatchery, but no luck. The only tell-tale sign of freshness was the scent of cow manure in preparation for the soil’s next crop. Well, at least something around here is fresh, so the eggs must be too.

I was still trying to figure out where the hens were but it was getting late, so we decided to beat it on home and as I stored the eggs in the refrigerator I was wondering if the effort was worth it since I already had 16 store-bought eggs. I feel ripped off, at least when you buy eggs at the grocery store in Germany they come with a hen’s feather.

Which eggs are fresher?
Which eggs are fresher?

Breaking News

Sitting at the table with my iPad I decided I had better get cracking because I’ve got 26 eggs that need to be prepared.

My egg search called up a photo of a chef’s hat and I remembered reading that the folds in a chef’s hat represents the number of ways they know how to cook an egg. I’m not a chef but I can certainly bake, boil, devil, fry, scramble, poach, and more.




Discovering the Green Pearl of the Adriatic

As we descended from the 13th century stunning walls that encircle Dubrovnik, the smell of citrus blossoms whispered a soft fragrance as the Adriatic Sea winds danced. As I turned to view the tiny perfumed white buds surrounded by healthy green leaves, a young man in a tailored suit kindly asked us take a look at the restaurant menu.

Normally I shy away from that ‘tourist trap’. You know, the mediocre overpriced restaurant that targets its ‘one-time’ victims. For some reason today was different. Could it be the calming citrus oils that drew us near? Perhaps it was our aching feet from the 1,940 meter (6,360 ft) city wall walk or the fact that I was famished that convinced us to give the restaurant a try.

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View of Adriatic Sea from Dubrovnik

We were surrounded by a mix of locals, few tourists, the Mayor of Dubrovnik–all extremely good signs we had found a treasure and not a trap.

We ordered a starter, the fish of the day, and as I was about to inquire about a side vegetable, the waiter said our main dish would be served with the local specialty, which he explained in his best English is similar to spinach.

Spinach? An eye-roll and lip curl gradually released its grip from my face. I’m not a spinach hater, but I’m definitely not a spinach lover. With hunger pains roaring I was open to giving anything a try.

As the main dish, a lovely filet of sole and my spinach substitute arrived, I decided to try the colorful complement. I think I detected that the green vegetable and potato mixture was perfumed with olive oil, shallots, and perhaps garlic too. The waiter approached our table and asked if I was enjoying the Swiss chard, a popular Croatian/Mediterranean dish.

Wow, I never could have imagined that the leafy green could possess such a simple yet alluring taste sensation. What a perfect vegetarian option or complement to fresh fish, beef and pork dishes too.

I think I love spinach, I mean I love Swiss chard!

Swiss chard
Swiss chard

As the vacation progressed and we ventured out for meals, each waiter explained that our main dish would be accompanied with a side of the local specialty–Swiss chard. I smiled and looked forward to the low-fat, low-calorie power veggie which is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and K.

Just like your favorite recipe though, cooks have their own secret Swiss chard blends too. After about a week along the Dalmatian Coast, I tasted quite a few Swiss chard varieties. Some just right, some too bland, watery, over-salted, but each one an experience–because at least I tried them. Whether the taste is fantastic or flawed, the chance for another taste experiences is what I love about travel and food.

If you still hate spinach, love Swiss chard, the Green Pearl of the Adriatic.




Top 5 Things to do in Dubrovnik

Discover Dubrovnik’s top five destinations and see why Bernard Shaw called the city the ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’. Despite the Southern Croatian city’s turbulent past, tourists are still captivated by the essence of so many cultural and architectural treasures in and around the UNESCO World Heritage site.

If these walls could talk
Avoid the intense Mediterranean sun and walk during the quiet morning hours around the stunning 13th century walls that encircle the city. You are virtually alone at that time and can relish the fantastic views and sea breeze in peaceful surroundings. Looking across the red roofs onto the urban patches of green paradise as city dwellers still hang laundry to dry makes you have an appreciation for the simplicity in times past.

View of Dubrovnik from City Walls.
View of Dubrovnik from City Walls.

At first glance the walk appears like a short distance, but beware the length is 1,940 meters so expect to spend around 90 minutes to complete the track depending on your pace. Along the way you’ll find juice stands and places to capture the perfect picture with backdrops of the Adriatic Sea, as well as midway exits in case you’re ready for the next Dubrovnik top five attractions.

The streets glisten with gold
The main street within the walls of Dubrovnik is Placa-Stradun where residents once entered the city through one of four main gates Ploce, Peskarija, Ponta, and Pile–the later a good starting or meeting point. The 292 meter Stradun is full of uniform Baroque buildings, perpendicular streets and alleys where you’ll find restaurants to street-dine boutiques, hotels, living spaces, as well as other cultural institutions.

Don’t forget to romance the walking stones of Stradun at night which is impressive when the golden light glistens across the brick streets just like a scene from Oz.

Find the Cold Drinks sign
Thirsty for a drink or a view? Head toward Buza which means, ‘hole in the wall’. The small bar is melded into the rocks and fortress walls on two terraces and has an amazing view of the sea, passing ships, and cliff jumpers who walk the seemingly unsafe metal steps to dive into the Adriatic.

The cafe sells cold drinks and that’s it, but making an adventure to find the sign ‘Cold Drinks With The Most Beautiful View’ is a fun experience which will not disappoint. Hint: If you’re near the Jesuit Church and the Collegium Ragusinum, you are pretty close to Buza. Look for the sign and a small gated key-hole in the wall and have fun.

Loving Lokrum
On a hot Mediterranean summer day tourists and locals head to the peaceful Lokrum Island. From the Old Town city harbor the 15 minute boat ride brings you to a seemingly uninhabited island, although there is one family that still lives there today along with many peacocks.

Mentioned for the first time in 1023, when the Benedictine monastery there was founded, the island has a botanical garden and several beaches including a nudist one. You’ll find the monastery and fortress on opposite sides of the island as well as a restaurant that has live music.

The locals may talk about the ‘Lokrum curse’ where apparently people went to the island at night and were never seen again. In that case, don’t be left behind on the island to see if the curse is true. Depending on the time of year, catch the last boat to Dubrovnik which leaves around 7:00 pm.

Moor Up and head to the club
Don’t let the idea of a snooty yacht club steer you away from a delicious, memorable, and affordable dining experience. Located on Lapad Peninsula, you’ll find Yacht Club Orsan where simple boats, luxury yachts, and huge cruise ships tank and dock. While on the marina look for the Orsan restaurant which has a beautiful leafy terrace, striking views during the day, and impressive evening romantic scenes when the light from the boats glisten across the Gruz Harbor waters.

Restaurant Orsan is not at all pretentious nor the guests. The service is superb and the fresh grilled fish is excellent and always served with the local side dish I call ‘Green pearl of the Adriatic‘ (Swiss Chard). Definitely start with the platter of little fish (smelt) which blends perfectly with a bottle of local wine or your favorite beverage. Sit among the evening stars and relish your time in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik, home to 42,641 residents along the southern coast of Croatia is one of the best medieval walled cities in the world with spectacular churches, monasteries, museums, and fountains for you to explore. If you’ve managed to visit the top five destinations in Dubrovnik and have time to explore more of this fascinating city, I recommend purchasing a Dubrovnik tourist card to take advantage of discounts on attractions and free public transport.