Saturday, February 28, 2015

Favorite German snacks...

I admit it.  I like junk food.  I try not to buy a lot of it because my ass doesn't need any more gifts than it already gets.  But sometimes, if I happen to be at a German grocery store or at the drink market, I'll pick up a couple of bags of snacks.  Last week, I picked up these...

The German version of "Funions"...

And cheese balls...  these are a bit earthier than their American counterparts.

I've also been known to pick up a bag of peanut butter curls.  They're basically peanut butter flavored "cheetos" and they are extremely addictive.  My German friend Susi introduced them to me when I lived in North Carolina.  I had no idea that I'd soon be back in a place where I could get them easily.

I don't have any of these at home right now.

I'm a big fan of Ritter Sports too.  They're made right here in the Stuttgart area and are perfect for slaying the PMS beast every month.

Bill just brought me this... a butter pretzel and a spicy sausage.  The sausage was a bit spicier than I like it.   But at least I know I won't get hangry today.

After I finish my beer, I think it'll be time for a walk.  Bill needs to break away from his studies and I need to use the present I just gave my ass.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Looks like my Hello Fresh mess is fixed for now...

So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my disastrous attempt to subscribe to Hello Fresh.  I ended up with four fruit boxes and three classic meal boxes.  Despite my niece's visit last week, we still have some leftovers from that huge delivery.  On the plus side, after we made the Hello Fresh recipes, we used the leftover supplies for other meals.  My husband made a mixed grill with vegetables with the extra chicken, beef, broccoli, and peppers we had.  He also took two of the fruit boxes to work with him and they were a big hit with his co-workers.  And Hello Fresh, to their credit, refunded the extra charges.

I lucked into finding a customer service guy who turns out to be half American and, perhaps in a fit of solidarity, pledged to help me out with any future customer service problems I have.  After I sent him a copy of the email I got from the first Hello Fresh rep who neglected to cancel my orders and told me not to let the extra orders happen again, my new Hello Fresh customer service rep apologized profusely and fixed my account.  So today, I got one classic box and one fruit box and I was charged only one time.  Moreover, since next week's meals don't appeal, he paused delivery for me within minutes of my request.

Because we like the Hello Fresh concept and enjoy the food, we may stick with it for awhile longer.  We'll see how this week's recipes turn out.  For now, I'm much less pissed off at Hello Fresh than I was two weeks ago.  As an added bonus, I tried Jerusalem artichokes for the first time.  Anything that gets me to try new things-- especially fruits and vegetables-- is a good thing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Human error at Neuer Ochsen...

Bill and I decided to take a break from our usual Sunday haunt.  We went to the Neuer Ochsen, which is a restaurant we like, but haven't been to since October.

A very handsome young man invited us to sit at a table near a window.  I had decided to try something different today instead of the "fitness salad" I usually get (and, between you and me, doesn't seem so fitness oriented).  I ordered a lentil and sausage plate and a dark beer.  Imagine my surprise when I somehow ended up with a Wiener Schnitzel instead of what I ordered.

It turned out the waiter had put in the wrong order.  Fortunately, I didn't mind.  A Wiener Schnitzel is a good standby and the one they serve at Neuer Ochsen is reasonably sized.  So though they offered to get me the right dish, I said it was okay that they brought me a schnitzel.  They gave us a round of espresso on the house for our trouble.

Partially eaten wrong meal...  Luckily, it was pretty good.  I liked the side of jam, too.  It tasted like cranberries (I have since learned that the jam is actually Preiselbeer marmalade  but it's unusual to get that with a Wiener Schnitzel.  They usually serve it with game or turkey).  Bill had something that tasted a lot like my schnitzel, except the breading was seasoned with mustard and it came with potato salad instead of fries.

This espresso came with a little glass of fizzy water.

It's good that I wasn't "hangry" today, either.  I handled the mistake with charm and grace rather than frustration and bitterness.  Good thing I had a handful of cashews before we left the house.  Otherwise, this might have turned out differently.  ;-D

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Hangry in Ludwigsburg...

My niece Elise stayed with us for most of this past week.  Today, we had to take her to the train station.  After dropping her off, we decided to go to Ludwigsburg to drop off a bunch of beer bottles that have been empty since December.  Though we had a nice breakfast this morning, we were out and about at around lunchtime.  By the time we got to Heinrich's Drink Market 3000, I was starting to feel moderately peckish.  I knew my blood sugar was starting to dip when I was barely interested in perusing the international beers.

I happened to mention to Bill that I needed to eat something.  He agreed, so we headed toward our usual haunts in Ludwigsburg's main square.  Bill usually knows when I'm getting hungry.  I start getting flushed and irritable.  Then I get pale, shaky, and have a resting bitch face.  Finally, I get snappish and start looking confused, nervous, and even frightened.  If I let it go too long, I start to feel very emotional.

Bill wanted to shop around for a place we'd never been before, but I was feeling more and more bitchy until I was in full on hangry mode.  After rejecting one place that looked like it had good food but was very crowded, we finally ended up at an Italian restaurant where we've dined before.  It was kind of busy in there and a charming waiter showed us to a table very close to two ladies who were finishing up.  I sat down, buried my face in my hands, and tried not to be too noticeably pissy.

I must have looked seriously irritated, especially since the waiter didn't give us menus when he seated us.  I just wanted something to get my blood sugar up and was immediately frustrated by how busy the restaurant was.  After a few minutes of us watching him bustle around, tending to a large party of friendly looking Germans, he finally gave us menus.

I quickly decided on a pepper and potato soup, a glass of Montepulciano, San Pellegrino, and basil risotto.  The guy came over to take our order and as soon as I opened my mouth to order the wine and got out two syllables of a six syllable word, he said, "English!"  Before I could say anything else, he dashed away to get us English menus that we didn't need.

"No! No, that's not necessary!" I said as he scurried off, further pissing me off, causing more frustration, and making me even more hangry.  I actually felt like crying as he walked away without our order.  He came back a few minutes later and we finally ordered lunch.

While we were waiting for lunch, I went to the ladies room, where I was confounded by the toilets.  In my anxiety-ridden, nervous, flustered, hangry state, I forgot how to tell when one was occupied.  Some very tall lady who was in there with me said in German that the middle stall was free, but that was all I understood in my haste to pee.

I didn't need to go that badly, actually... just thought it was a good idea...  until I realized there was no toilet paper.  So there I sat, dripping dry.  I stood up and realized that besides being hungry, I was also very dehydrated.  Then when I went to use the sink, I couldn't get the water to turn off.  It was one of those automatic jobs that make me miss plain old faucets that are easy to figure out when I'm hungry and angsty.

Fortunately, when I got back to the table, the wine, water, and my soup were there.  Bill watched intently as I tried the soup, which was a little bland, but otherwise had just what I needed.  He smiled as the color returned to my cheeks and I very soon stopped looking so tense and upset.

"It never fails." he said, amused as I perked up.  "It's like that Snickers commercial was written for you.  It doesn't take much... just a little bit and you're back to normal again."

I turn into a monster when I'm really hangry.

I finished the soup and felt so much better once I was fortified.  As a younger waiter carried the bowl away, I noticed him flash a thumbs up and a smile to the older guy who had seated us.  I kind of wondered if he thought I was a raving bitch or just realized how badly I needed some food.   

The second course of risotto for me and ravioli for Bill was equally tasty.  After lunch, we had a round of espresso, and I left the restaurant smiling and feeling a whole lot better.  We detoured through the mall and stopped at the drug store to get some dental floss, which was in and of itself an adventure.  

We parked in a different parking garage this trip to Ludwigsburg and, to get to it, we had to pass through a little park that was once the site of a synagogue.  It was destroyed on Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938.  The outline of the building is marked and there's a commemorative stone tablet there explaining what happened.  People have left flowers and pebbles and in the center of the outline, there are suitcases bearing the names and lifespans of Jews who died in the Holocaust.  I think it's a very poignant memorial.  For more reading about this synagogue, click here.


We're home again and I'm enjoying wine, comforting music, and watching the melting snow.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ten things I learned in Regensburg...

When I take trips, I like to reflect on the things I learn.  Regensburg was probably less educational than some of my trips are, mainly because Bill and I spent most of the weekend drinking beer.  But I do like to think about new things I learn when I go to new places.  So here goes... ten things I learned in Regensburg.

1.  Regensburg is a great town to visit if you like beer.  There are plenty of breweries around and you'll never be thirsty.

2.  Oskar Schindler lived in Regensburg for several years.

3.  St. Peter's Cathedral is the only gothic cathedral in Bavaria.  It's amazing to see and has existed since the 13th century.

4.  Regensburg has a famous sausage kitchen that has been operating for centuries and remains a popular draw even today.  You can cross a bridge and see padlocks placed there by couples in love.

5.  Regensburg is an extremely well preserved medieval city with narrow passageways and cobbled streets.  It's very charming and authentic.

6.  Because Regensburg is near popular destinations like Munich and Nuremberg, it's not overrun with tourists.  Of course, we also visited in February, which may have made a difference.

7.  Regensburg was badly affected by a wind storm in 2008.

8.  If you need to buy a dirndl, you can find one in Regensburg.

9.  There is no shortage of German food in Regensburg... especially Bavarian cuisine.

10. Regensburg is beautiful and has a very different feel than Hamburg does.  I want to go back.

President's Day Weekend in Regensburg... Part 7

Bill and I were not that hungry on Sunday night.  That huge lunch we had at Fürstlichen Brauhaus was sticking with us pretty well.  Still, we wanted to try one last brauhaus before we left on Monday, so we visited Regensburger Weissnbrauhaus.  When we entered that place, it looked a bit familiar to me.  The reason it looked familiar was because it used to be part of the Johann Albrecht chain.  Bill and I enjoyed some brews at the Hamburg location of Johann Albrecht just last month.  The Weissbrauhaus had very similar tables and a bar that looked a lot like the one at the chain restaurant.  However, it is evidently now an independent restaurant.

A very handsome and friendly bartender came on duty at just about the time we sat down.  Bill and I spent a very enjoyable evening chatting with this fellow, who said he was from the East and had come to Regensburg with his wife to study at the university.  He told us that the restaurant had been operating as a brauhaus since 1620.  We told him that was the year when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.  Of course, he probably already knew that!

Over the course of a couple of hours, Bill and I tried all four beers they had on draft, as well as a couple of shots of schnapps.  Toward the end of the evening, we decided to share a wurst plate.  It was actually pretty perfect.  There were just enough sausages for both of us.

The bartender seemed surprised by my ability to put away so much beer.  What can I say?  It's in the genes.



Sausages, pickles, and kraut!

As I was eating the pickles, I remembered the Duggar family and how much they like to eat pickles.  I asked the bartender if he'd ever heard of JimBob and Michelle Duggar and their brood of 19 children.  He said he hadn't.  So I proceeded to tell him about the Duggars and watched his eyebrows raise as he considered how two parents could possibly raise 19 children.  

I'm sure that guy listened to us speak about a lot of nonsense, but he was a very good sport.  The food was good and the beer was fine.  We rewarded him for his attentiveness, then went back to the hotel for our last night.  I slept fine until about 2:00am.  Bill woke up and had a coughing fit that was loud enough to totally activate my brain.  I wasn't able to go back to sleep after his fit was over, so I stayed up and read news articles on CNN and played with Facebook.

When Bill woke up at his usual time, he apologized for keeping me awake.  Later, we got up and went to the konditorei across the street and sat at the same table we were at on Saturday.  We enjoyed a very nice and inexpensive breakfast as we enjoyed our last look at lovely Regensburg.  Then we went back to the hotel and Bill repacked my bag Army style.

He rolls up everything neatly so it fits better.  I have no patience for such things.

We checked out of the ACHAT near the cathedral and made our way toward the train station.  We got there early, so we had enough time to visit the mall adjacent to the station.  We stopped at a little cafe and enjoyed a couple of Viennese cappuccinos.  Vienna is definitely on the list of where we want to visit while we're living here again.  Maybe this was a sign of what's next in our travel adventures.

Our train ride back to Stuttgart was totally uneventful.  We didn't share space with anyone and a kindly train conductor even said we could switch compartments if we wanted to because the one we were in was a bit cold.  It was alright, though... aside from a couple of cute kids burning off energy in the corridor, we were completely unmolested on the ride home.  After a quick lunch at a Thai place in the Stuttgart train station, we were on our way to pick up our dogs at the Hunde Hotel Haase.

Actually, getting to the Hunde Hotel turned out to be a bit of a challenge.  We ran into a parade in honor of Karneval, which caused us to have to detour.  It was fun to see everyone in their costumes, though.  I was reminded that our landlady had told me about how Fasching differs between Bavaria (where she is from) and Baden-Wurttemburg.  In Bavaria, it's supposedly fun with lots of cute costumes.  Here, it's a lot of people dressed like witches.  I don't even pretend to know much about Fasching, though I do remember the parades and costumes from the last time we were here.

The dogs were delighted to see us.  After we paid for their stay, we went home where everything was normal except for the huge estimate I got from the dentist for fixing my baby tooth issue.  Hopefully, that won't cause us to have to quit traveling for the time being!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

President's Day Weekend in Regensburg... Part 6

Sunday morning, we decided we were going to have breakfast somewhere other than the hotel.  We got up, got dressed, and ventured out in the the chilly weather in search of a good breakfast.  It seemed really dead in the city, but then Sundays in Germany are often pretty "chill".  We went back to that restaurant where the really awesome buffet was on Saturday, but they weren't open until 10:00am and Bill was hungry on account of losing his dinner the night before.  So we wandered around some more before we ended up at a really cute restaurant called Cafe Lila.

Cafe Lila!  A good bet for breakfast!

A pretty young woman behind the bar wished us a good morning as we took one of the few unreserved tables.  We paged through the menu and noticed they offered incarnations of breakfasts from around Europe.  They had a French breakfast, a German one, a Scandinavian one, and a Greek one, among others.  Bill chose the German breakfast, while I had the English breakfast.  I had to laugh at the American breakfast, which was about 9 euros and seemed to have everything in it but the kitchen sink!

Bill has coffee.  I have a perfect cappuccino and a small glass of what tasted like fresh squeezed orange juice.

Bill's German breakfast had the usual cold cuts, cheese, and fruit, along with some very nice breads.  My English breakfast had fried eggs, bacon, baked beans, tomatoes, and toast.  It was very nice!

I wasn't quite ready to leave after we ate, so I had an African cappuccino.  I think it was basically like a mocha.  It was delicious!  Bill had more coffee.

It was interesting to sit in Cafe Lila for awhile.  It's obviously a popular place that offers a lot of vegetarian friendly food as well as stuff for us omnivores.  There were two guys sitting behind us who were deep in conversation over wheat beers.  Later, they switched to rum long drinks.  I like how no one cares if you drink during the morning in Bavaria.  We just took our time and soaked up the atmosphere for awhile, enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning.  We had a few snow flurries, but then the sun came out and it warmed up a bit.  We were able to take another walk around the city.

More graphic graffiti.

When it came time for lunch, we headed for another brewery.  This time, we visited the Fürstlichen Brauhaus, which is located in the former coach house of the Fürst von Thurn und Taxis palace.  Though by the time we got there it was about 1:00pm, we were still fortified from breakfast.  Bill wisely ordered a couple of wursts.  I opened for Wiener Schnitzel, which turned out to be humongous...

It was our waiter's birthday, so he wore a sign on his back.  Curiously, it was in English.

Actually, this wasn't quite as huge as it appeared.  The schnitzel was rather thinly cut and covered in pretzel crumbs.  I shared a lot with Bill.  The fries were outstanding!

Bill's white sausages came in a pot of hot water scented with chives.  He also had a very fresh pretzel. 

And naturally, we washed it all down with beer.

I saw a lot of families having lunch at this brewpub.  One couple appeared to be out with their granddaughter, who smiled really big when their waiter brought her a very ornate ice cream sundae!  I was very charmed by that scene.  

A few shots around the courtyard.  I saw the food runner leaving the restaurant with what appeared to be a leash.  I also heard a dog bark.  Perhaps there is a resident Hund at the place?

Sunday afternoon turned out to be very pleasant.  The weather was warmer and the sun was out.  We walked back down to the river, where we encountered the famous sausage kitchen that has been operating in Regensburg since the 12th century.  I instantly wished we hadn't eaten at the brewpub because I had heard that sausage kitchen was awesome.  Unfortunately, we were just too full to try it.  

The wurst kitchen...  there was a long line for sausages and beer!

Guys showing off their jumping skills...

Crossing the river.

The sun was more cooperative from the other direction.

I can only assume these locks are put on the bridge by couples in love...

A beer store.

More German graffiti...

I was almost tempted to try this Mexican place, but we haven't had much success finding good Mexican food in Germany.  Besides, we were still really full from lunch.

Part 7.