Sunday, March 29, 2015

Another fine Greek meal at Taverne beim Griechen...

Last fall, Bill and I visited a Greek restaurant in Unterjettingen called Taverne beim Griechen.  This restaurant is located in a sports park, as are many great restaurants in Germany.  I wanted to go out last night, so I asked Bill if he'd like to visit Taverne beim Griechen again.  We were long overdue.  At first, Bill was reluctant because he didn't feel like venturing out.  But then I charmed him with my disarming smile and raunchy sense of humor and he finally acquiesced.

When we got to the restaurant last night, it was about 7:00.  Lots of folks were sitting at the bar and several families were at the restaurant's large tables.  In my first blog about this restaurant, I had initially written that I didn't think this Taverne beim Griechen is very intimate.  I have now decided that I like the interior of this place, which has plenty of cozy Eckbank Gruppes and large windows that overlook a patio and playing fields.  I'd prefer a couple of smaller tables because I hate feeling like I'm wasting space at a big table.  However, Taverne beim Griechen's dining room is nicely decorated and modern.

A friendly waitress invited us to choose a table.  There weren't any small ones available, so we took a table for six in a corner near the windows.

Bill trying not to look interested as he enjoys his beer...

Our server didn't speak any English, but was very kind as I tried out my horrible German.  She laughed as I struggled to tell her that I'm still learning.  Once again, we had to explain that we're Americans.  I thought it was obvious!  I'm not complaining, though.

We ordered a round of dunkelweizens (by Hochdorfer) as we perused the menu.  I was tempted by the dorade, which I ordered last time and really enjoyed, but wasn't all that hungry last night.  Our waitress brought us shots of ouzo to go with our beers as we made up our minds.

I eventually settled on a Neptune platter-- gyros with pommes, t'zatziki, and calamari, while Bill ordered souvlaki with rice.  We both had small salads that we didn't really need.  I ended up dripping the light vinaigrette on my shirt.

Small salad with dressing that stained my shirt... keeps me regular!

My Neptune platter.  I almost never order calamari, but I have to admit I enjoyed it last night.  I have to thank one of Bill's Army buddies for introducing it to me.  

Bill's souvlaki.  He's not a fan of raw onions, but he did enjoy this dish last night.  Bill even ended up saying he was glad we'd gone out.  He's usually not disappointed when he listens to me.

Service was attentive and friendly.  We even got a visit from the proprietor, a gregarious guy who appeared to be very Greek!  We didn't have dessert, but we did enjoy another round of beer.  Unfortunately, our bill somehow got added to the check of a larger party sitting behind us.  We all had a good laugh as that got straightened out.  As Bill paid, we enjoyed another house shot of ouzo.  They tried to give me a "cowardly shot", but I gave it to Bill, since he was driving!  I think before the tip, we owed about 35 euros for dinner.  Much cheaper than our meal in Nagold, but not as fancy!

We really like the food at Taverne beim Griechen and the prices are very fair.  There's also plenty of seating for groups and a huge, free parking lot.  Maybe someday my venting buddies can visit.  One thing to note is that smoking is allowed at the bar.

If you click the first link in this post, you can get a look at their excellent dorade...  It's very yummy!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

An unforgettable Italian meal in Nagold...

Yesterday, I got an email from Bill asking me what I wanted to do about dinner last night.  Bill usually cooks dinner at our house, but I knew he'd had a rough work week.  When I wrote back that I didn't know what we should have for our evening repast, he suggested that we venture out for dinner.  I didn't argue.  Then he asked me where we should go.  

We live only a few miles from the adorable town of Nagold and it had been a long while since our last visit there.  So I wrote back, "Why don't we go to Nagold?"    

He wrote back, "Fine!  Pick a place."

The last time we went to Nagold was in the fall of 2014.  I don't know why we hadn't been back.  It's such a cute town, right by a river with a castle.  It's not crowded.  There's plenty of parking.  We live really close.  And it's refreshingly German there.  Both times we've gone, people have asked us what we were doing there!  I don't get the sense that they get many Americans visiting.

Anyway, since it had been awhile since our last visit, I tried to think of places we might go.  I finally consulted TripAdvisor.  According to TripAdvisor, the number one restaurant in Nagold is Osteria da Gino.  After reading a couple of glowing reviews in English and then noticing the high ratings from Germans, I clicked on the restaurant's Web site.  It is entirely in German, but I understood enough to know that I wanted to try it.  I sent Bill the link and he made us reservations for 7:00.

I got a funny email from him later, explaining that there was some confusion when he called.  No one there spoke English and Bill's German is riddled with grammatical and vocabulary errors (but it's still way better than MY German).  Fortunately, somehow, they got the message and we got our reservation.  We showed up promptly at 7:00, ready for a new culinary adventure.    

When we walked into the tiny restaurant, we found ourselves in what looked like a small deli.  There was one large table set up in there, though no one was sitting at it at the time.  A short, smiling man with curly silver hair was behind a meat case, slicing fresh salami for a couple of people.  When Bill told us who we were, the guy started laughing and spoke rapid fire German about the confusion caused when Bill called for a table.  I was immediately enchanted by the guy, who was very friendly and funny even though he didn't speak a word of English to us.  He turned us over to his colleagues, a tiny Italian woman and the person I presume is the chef, who checked for our name and then led us into a very small dining room with four large tables in it.

Two seats at one table were reserved for us.  Two women, obviously regulars, were already seated at the other end of the table.  They were deep in conversation as we took a seat and waited.  I was curious because we were not presented menus.  Since I can be very picky about certain things, I was a little worried...  On the other hand, sometimes going with the flow can be very rewarding.  Such was the case last night.

Bill tries not to look too interested...

After a few minutes, the tiny Italian lady came over and asked what we would be drinking.  We ordered mineral water with gas and red wine.  She brought us two glasses of wine and the water.  I have no earthly idea what wine she brought us or whether it was German or Italian.  It was pretty decent, though.  

A few minutes later, Gino brought out the first course...

We had a slice of salami, a stick of cheese, pieces of orange and fennel coated with olive oil, black pepper, and vinegar, and an olive.  I had to ask Gino what the fennel was, since it's not something I encounter daily.  This was very good... in fact, the salami was especially good.  We will need to go back and pick some up for home.  This combination is not something I would have ever dreamed up on my own, but it worked very well.  Bill has since discovered that it's all over the 'net.  Even Martha Stewart has a version of this salad.

Next, Gino asked us in German how we felt about a plate of vegetables.  He gave us a basic description and Bill said something along the lines of, as long as there aren't any mushrooms.  He knows from being around me for years that mushrooms will ruin my dinner!  A basket of fresh bread accompanied the vegetables.

Gino brought this out...  grilled peppers, artichokes, zucchini, eggplant, and what tasted like batter friend eggplant.  I must admit, I don't usually eat a lot of eggplant or artichokes, but was willing to try them last night.  The vegetables were very good, though Bill is more partial to artichokes than I am.  I particularly enjoyed the roasted peppers, which were bursting with flavor and sweetness.

I catch Bill being expressive after we ordered more wine.  I don't know what this wine was, either, but it was better than the first.  I think they got the picture that we like our wine...  We each got little pitchers...

Then I took another photo of Bill looking mischievous.  I should have never gotten an iPhone.  It's completely eroded my table manners.

Next came the first plate.  This is where we hit a slight snag.  I hate mushrooms.  I am also not a fan of truffles.  Bill, on the other hand, loves all fungus.  I had a feeling we'd have this problem last night and we did... 

We each got the above dish, which was basically a pasta Alfredo with black truffles...  Bill was delighted with it, but the aroma was too much for me.  I don't do well with strong earthy flavors, despite my earthy personality.  

Gino noticed immediately and asked if I preferred pasta with tomatoes.  I agreed enthusiastically.  I assumed I'd get something similar to what Bill was enjoying (and he really was enjoying it), but Gino brought out something different...

This was pasta with ricotta cheese covered with a heavenly tomato sauce.  All of it was clearly homemade.  I was delighted with it.

I truly wish I liked mushrooms.  I wish I liked truffles.  Unfortunately, I have never enjoyed fungus of any kind, even though I have been told many times that I don't know what I'm missing.  When I was a child, I had an actual phobia of mushrooms.  Two of my mean-spirited sisters gleefully exploited my phobic tendencies by picking the huge mushrooms that grew in our backyard in England and chasing me around the house as I screamed in terror.  The more artistic sister used to draw shark teeth on any mushroom illustrations in my coloring books.  Yes, I had a traumatic childhood.  Fortunately,  I have mostly gotten over my mycophobia, but I still can't abide mushrooms, not even when prepared by the best chef in the world.  

I think Gino realized that my rejection was not a reflection on the quality of the dish.  It was due to my own preferences and irrational fears.  Even if I had been a truffle fan, I was glad he brought me the substitute, because it was outstanding and gave us a chance to try something different.

When we were finished with the pasta, Gino asked us if we preferred meat or fish for our second plate.  I chose fish and Bill had meat.  Then Gino asked Bill if he wanted the meat served grilled, "saltinbocca" (marinated veal), or "osso bucco" (braised).  Bill said he preferred it grilled.

Bill's meat dish.  It was sinfully good.  I think it was veal, but I'm not totally sure...  It was served with perfectly prepared greens and a small side of potatoes.

My fish.  Again... not exactly sure what this was.  I did see zander filet on the list of specials outside, so maybe it was that.  The flavor exploded in my mouth with buttery goodness.  I really enjoyed it.  The air of mystery kind of added to the experience, too.

Toward the end of our meal, I was getting a little nervous about the time.  This was a sumptuously long meal and I was a little concerned that our parking area might close.  I didn't read the sign carefully but did notice 22:00 on it.  I had an irrational fear of being stranded in Nagold.  But Gino insisted that we had to cap off our meal with dessert, so we shared this...

Panna cotta, blueberry sauce, blueberry sorbet (I'm guessing), and vanilla cake with a chocolate hazelnut ice cream center.

Then he brought us espresso...

And finally, grappa.  We had a choice of white or brown.  I had the brown and Bill had the white... and Gino joined us!

Bill recovers after a wonderful meal!

Final bill was 141 euros.  Gino would not take a tip.  He does take credit cards, but was happy that we had cash.  Our set menu cost 56 euros each.  The wine was 24 euros (two glasses and two small pitchers) and we paid 5 euros for a big bottle of San Pellegrino.  We left his restaurant very satisfied, but not stuffed.  And the meal was very healthy!

Fortunately, the parking lot was still open.  In fact, we paid 1,20 euros for our spot, but we didn't have to.  The lot was wide open at 10:00 and we could have left at will.

Things to know about Gino's place...   

Make reservations.  The dining room is very small and it's a popular place with locals.  You will likely be sharing a table with another party if there are only two of you.  It's not a very intimate place, but you will be part of a group of people really enjoying the food and that's a good thing.

No one on staff speaks much English and you may not get a menu.  However, it pays to just go with the flow because Gino knows what he's doing.  He's a very gregarious guy who will make you laugh as he brings out magical dishes from the kitchen.  I did notice a sign with specials on them outside and one on the wall in the dining room.  I kind of liken last night's meal to the restaurant equivalent of a "blind booking".

There is no pizza.

There are tables available outside for when the weather is warmer.

Be prepared to spend a few hours.  This is intended to be a leisurely experience and is no place to go if you're in a big hurry.

Gino is a wonderful host.  It was our first visit, but he was so warm and welcoming and the entire family said goodbye to us as we left, especially after we told him we live in Jettingen.  Like other Nagolders, I think he was surprised to have Americans in his restaurant (he thought we were British at first) and wanted to know what we were doing there.  When Bill told him that we live here because he has a job, he seemed delighted.  I think he expects to see us again and it won't surprise me if he and his colleagues remember our likes and dislikes, much like the Mad Scientist does...

It's a very European experience...  It reminds me a bit of a fantastic restaurant called Trattoria da Bibe Bill and I went to when we visited Florence.  Indeed, Gino's cuisine is also very Tuscan...

A picture of the sign outside.  I really need to learn to take pictures when the sun is out.

Needless to say, we loved our meal at Osteria da Gino in Nagold.  We will definitely be back and this will be one place that goes on the list for entertaining guests.  Now I want to go back and get some of that salami!  A bonus is that I got to use my fledgling German skills as well as a few Italian words.  I'd say it was a very successful stop!

Information about Osteria da Gino:

Querstrasse 3 72202 Nagold

Telephone: 07452 66610


Mo-Sa 11:30-14:30
Mo-Sa 17:30-24:00
Closed on Sundays

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Germanwings aircraft crashes into the French Alps...

I debated where I should put this blog post.  My main blog gets a lot more traffic than my travel blog does, but I think the subject is a better fit for my travel blog.  After all, here in Germany, Germanwings is a well-known airline.  Bill and I have used it three times-- twice out of Stuttgart and once out of Cologne.  All three of our flights on Germanwings were blind bookings.  One flight was from Stuttgart to Barcelona.

Since about noon local time, I have been listening to news about the doomed Germanwings flight from Barcelona to Dusseldorf.  Having been on Germanwings flights myself, I can only imagine that the people who boarded what was probably a fairly short flight were looking forward to uneventful travel to Germany.  Air travel, by and large, is very safe.  In fact, one lady in a Facebook group I'm in posted this today...

The chances of dying in a plane crash are slim...
And yet, the people who boarded that flight had a 100% chance of crashing today.  It just goes to show that you never know when something like this will happen.  You never know when you'll be in a situation that puts you at a bad place that results in your death or injury.  I can't even imagine how the people who were on the flight from Dusseldorf to Barcelona early this morning are feeling.  Talk about the potential for survivor's guilt!

I found out about this crash right after it happened.  I see now CNN is giving it full coverage, but I initially found out about it on Yahoo! of all places.  At first, there was very little information.  All day, the story has evolved.  Now they are saying that there were two babies on the flight as well as a class of German high school students and a couple of teachers.  I can't even fathom how devastated their family and friends are right now.  150 people presumably lost their lives today on what should have been a perfectly routine flight.

I have read that the area where this flight is believed to have crashed is stunningly beautiful, though very remote and hard to reach.  I'm sure the beauty of the crash site is of no comfort to anyone, least of all the people who are now tasked with looking for bodies.

I don't think knowing what caused the crash will comfort the people left behind after this terrible tragedy.  And I realize that despite the big news about plane crashes, the fact that they are rare is precisely why they are big news when they happen.  It just doesn't make me feel so good about flying.  You never know when you're going to be unlucky.

Thoughts and prayers to the families and friends of the people on that flight today...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Adventures in German baking...

Perhaps it's unfair to refer to my baking as German...  really, it's more like me just baking American style in Germany!  I haven't yet tried any German recipes, unless you count our Hello Fresh meals.  Bill makes those and they don't really count as baking anyway.  I did recently acquire a Schwabish cookbook which I may decide to use someday.  Today, I decided to bake some bread.

I decided to bake bread after watching this video, which someone posted in a local Facebook group...

This video made me laugh...  It also made me want to bake bread in the worst way.

I went to my puny German kitchen and found my trusty Virginia Hospitality cookbook, where I found a recipe for French bread.  I had never actually used that particular recipe before; I usually opt for the one in my Betty Crocker cookbook.  But I was feeling daring today, so I used the "new-to-me" recipe...

My bread as it bakes...

I must admit, my bread turned out beautifully, except the bottom was not as brown as it probably should have been.  I don't care, though.  I'd rather have pale bread bottoms than burnt bread.  And it was baked long enough that it's not falling apart, so there you go.

I find baking in Germany a bit challenging because of the Metric system.  I did learn how to do temperature conversion back when I took high school chemistry.  In fact, that particular lesson was the only one that made any sense to me.  I barely squeaked out of my chemistry class with a D.  Of course, it's been many years since I was 16 and I have completely forgotten how to do temperature conversion.  I'm also too lazy to consult a conversion chart.

Yes... this tastes good...  I guessed correctly when I set the oven's temperature.

I used to bake a lot more often than I do now.  Unfortunately, I like baking comfort foods and my ass gets enough gifts as it is from all the beer I drink.  So I try not to give in to the urge to bake in an attempt to prevent my ass from getting its own area code.  Sometimes I fail, though.

I'm actually dying to learn how to make a Black Forest Cake.  Of course if I made one, we'd never finish it.  I need to make more friends.  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Restaurant Rosenau in Tübingen

I thought Bill and I were going to be going out for French food last night.  A couple of months ago, I had done an Internet search of French restaurants and somehow the Rosenau ended up at the top of my search string.  I looked over the menu and thought it was interesting, but kind of pricey.  I eventually forgot about the place.

Then on Friday night, we went to Tommi's Bistro and had a wonderful steak dinner.  I decided yesterday afternoon, I wanted to try another restaurant I had never been to before.  That's when I thought of Rosenau again.  I convinced Bill we needed a real date night and he made an online reservation through their Web site.  It turned out he didn't have to do that, but not knowing anything about the restaurant, we decided to be safe.

I was going to wear a dress, but ended up changing into pants because it was chilly!

Getting to the Restaurant Rosenau turned out to be an interesting experience.  Though we already knew how to get to Tübingen, our GPS system decided to take us a shorter way, which involved driving on narrow roads and through quaint little towns while being tailgated by impatient locals.  We ended up driving right past Pfäffingen, which is the town we lived in the first time we were in Germany.  I'm always happy to drive through that area, since that's where I learned to enjoy living in Germany.  It's also a delightfully pretty town.

We got to the Rosenau restaurant just in time for our 7:00 reservation.  The parking lot was somewhat full of cars.  That's when I realized that the restaurant is also a very nice looking gasthaus, though I couldn't tell if the gasthaus side of it was running.  It was a bit cloudy and misty last night and it was getting very dark by the time we parked, but I could see that the restaurant and hotel are in sort of a picturesque rural area that made me think of a farm.  I bet when the sun is out, it's beautiful.  The parking lot was next to a meadow and I could see charming timbered buildings that have probably been there for centuries.

The outside of the restaurant...

A very friendly waitress who bore a slight resemblance to Celine Dion greeted us warmly as we entered the dining room.  We were invited to choose a table.  I picked one out near the fireplace, which wasn't operating last night.  The waitress apologized for not having menus in English.  That was okay, though, since Bill and I both need to practice our German.  We can navigate German menus pretty well most of the time, anyway.

Bill looking handsome in clothes I picked out for him.  ;-)

Bill chose a Bordeaux from the wine list as I realized that the restaurant's cuisine was more high class Schwabish-French food than straight French.  They had a number of nice selections, though, and even offered a degustation menu.  Our server spoke English and had a really pleasant personality, smiling more often than the average German does.  I'm kidding, of course.  Although she really did smile a lot and was very warm and engaging.  She lit a candle for us as I admired the fresh flowers on the table and left us to decide what we wanted for dinner.

We enjoyed very fresh baguettes with butter and an herbal spread that was a little sour.  There was a simple white baguette and one that had different seeds in it.  Both were delicious and I was tempted to eat a lot of it, but knew I needed to save room.

An amuse.  This was what tasted like some kind of fish croquette with carrot and herbal creme.  It was good!

I started with onion soup.  It consisted of caramelized onions with homemade Parmesan croutons, and a clear broth.  This was a nice starter, since it wasn't too heavy.  Our server poured the soup out of a small kettle into the bowl.

Bill had a nice salad with venison.  I did taste the venison, which was very fresh.

I had duck with what could best be described as potato croquettes but were actually called Dauphine potatoes.  They were pretty sinful.  My duck was cooked to medium and served with a cream sauce and what tasted like a red wine sauce.  I managed to finish most of this, though I was saving room for dessert...   

Bill had sauerbraten.  The beef was literally tender enough that you could cut it with a spoon!  They were served with pretzel dumplings and red cabbage.

Our wine...

I was determined to have dessert, even though I find that the older I get, the less food I can eat at one sitting.  That declining ability to eat food has had no effect on my waistline.  That's the only reason why I left a few bites on my plate.

I ordered what turned out to be sort of a panoply of desserts.  There was panna cotta, chocolate mousse, a tiny almond cookie, grapes, blueberry sorbet, and I'm not sure what the little orange slivers up by the panna cotta were.  I'd guess they were another panna cotta, but they were very mild and had sort of an orange flavor.

Bill had a similar dessert, except his included a banana cake (in the cup), chocolate ice cream, and banana ice cream with pistachios.  In the little shot glass was a type of creme which I didn't try...

We ended with a round of espresso, which was served with tiny Ritter Sports and a small plate of cookies.  We noticed another couple choosing digestives from a cart that a server wheeled over to them.

I had to sneak a photo of the beautiful stained glass lighting in the middle of the dining room.  I wonder what they have to do when a light bulb burns out.

Outside menu...

Service at Rosenau was mostly impeccable.  Our charming server was extremely professional and practiced excellent table maintenance.  She was very poised and when she couldn't think of the English word for the sorbet, even went to the kitchen and Googled it for me.  She did sort of disappear at the end of the meal, but her colleague brought us our check.  The total bill for this meal was 138 euros before the tip.  It was well worth what we spent.

The atmosphere at Rosenau seemed to be geared toward older people, though we did notice one group of younger folks who appeared to be celebrating a birthday.  Most people were dressed in what we'd call "business casual" attire, though there were a couple of people in jeans.

One thing to note is that all of the chairs in the dining room have arms on them.  I wouldn't mention this, except that I used to wait tables and observed that some people have trouble sitting in chairs with arms.

I think Restaurant Rosenau would make a good date night restaurant.  It looked like they had a really nice garden area for al fresco dining.  As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, we may have to venture back.  The surrounding area is just lovely.  An added convenience is the ample and free parking... not something you can always find in Germany!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Calling all meat lovers...

Okay...  well, if you don't like meat, don't bother with this post.  If you like a good steak, please read on...

When we first took our house in Unterjettingen, the previous tenants mentioned that there is a fantastic steak house here.  We kinda figured they were talking about Tommi's Bistro, which is a bar sort of on the main drag.  We didn't know for certain, though, and we still don't.  What I do know that is that it's unlikely there is a better steak joint in this area; and, frankly, we hit the beef jackpot.  Tommi's is also well known for being a great place for live music.

I am ashamed to admit that we've been here since September 2014 and tonight was our first visit to Tommi's...  Sure, we had eyed the place.  We wanted to visit a couple of months ago.  Shit, we live within walking distance of Tommi's!  But tonight was the first time we ever visited.  We walked there from our house; it took maybe ten minutes.  We were rewarded with the very best steaks either of us have ever had in Germany.  Given that my husband has been here three times and I have been here twice, not including visits on vacation, that is really saying something.

Tommi's menu... very unassuming... They have a variety of dry aged steaks from Argentina, in a variety of sizes...  

 Bill checks the menu...

I decided on the 200 gram entrecôte (rib eye).  Bill had a 200 gram rinderfilet (filet mignon).  We both ordered pommes on the side.  Our steaks came with an aperitif of sherry.  There were plenty of other sides to choose from, but we decided to go basic.

It was quite a nice sherry, too...  No extra charge.

My rib-eye was PERFECT.  It was cooked to medium, tender and juicy, just the way I like it; and it was just plain fabulous...

And so was Bill's filet, though he paid an extra six euros for filet mignon.  He says it was worth every euro penny!

We both had pommes... they were excellent.  Other, healthier sides were available.

Yes, that is a stage.  Tommi's hosts a lot of live entertainment, especially on Thursday and Saturday nights!  It was pretty quiet tonight, though.

A shot of the bar, right after another couple had left.  When we arrived, one couple was at the bar, one was at a table with their kids, and there were two guys by the window.  We were the last to leave.  It's a crying shame!

Bill checks out the menu again...

And decides to join me with a glass of wine.  He had filet mignon and fries, plus a beer and a glass of wine.  I had a ribeye and two glasses of wine.  Total bill before tip = 52.80 euros.

We found the service to be as good as the food was.  The bartender/waitress was very kind and pleasant and spoke excellent English.  She was happy to tell us about the music offered at Tommi's, as well as the good food.  I left the restaurant feeling sad that we'd only just discovered it.  Moreover, the whole time we were there, they were playing songs that were popular when I was a kid.  "Ev'ry Rose Has Its Thorn", check!  "Purple Rain", check!  "How Long" by Ace, check!  I was especially excited when they played "The Last Unicorn" by America...  I happen to own the very expensive German import CD soundtrack from that 1982 film (I was ten when it came out)...

Not a good shot of their sign, but...

If you ever find yourself in Unterjettingen, I highly recommend Tommi's Bistro.  Hell, even if you just really like an excellent steak from Argentina, you should get your ass to this town.  I was very impressed, and I am a woman who knows about meat.  If you are a music fan, you may also want to know about Tommi's.  And yes, they do have some things on the menu other than meat... but meat is where they really shine.  I was happy to thank the chef on my way out.

Parking may be a challenge.  We did notice what looked like parking near a biergarten, but the one other time we meant to visit, we were skittish about parking...  Fortunately, we live so close that walking is no problem.

We will definitely be back to Tommi's soon.  If you like beef and want a great steak in Germany, we highly suggest you follow our lead!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dead bird...

This week, I had to deal with a dead pigeon.  It was very strange, actually.  I looked out the window and thought I was seeing a piece of ice on the road.  Of course, I knew it couldn't be ice, since the weather has been too warm for that lately.  When it was still there a couple of hours later, I decided to investigate.

A dead, grey pigeon lay in the street near my house.  It wasn't actually on the property, but it was closer to our house than any of our neighbors' houses.  I have no idea how the bird died.  It wasn't close to a window or anything.  It could have been hit by a car or maybe even one of the neighborhood cats got it.  But I doubted it was a cat who got the pigeon because it was still laying in the street.

I wasn't sure what to do with it.  The truth is, in the United States, I probably would have just buried it or thrown it away.  But I am now in Germany and I wasn't sure of what was done when these situations arise here.  My landlady had also mentioned that laws about disposing dead things were strict.  Indeed, it seems like there are a lot of strict rules in Germany, especially when it comes to trash.  Maybe it's not reality, but that's my perception as an American living here for the second time.  I have been yelled at by Germans before and I don't hanker to repeat the experience.  So I asked on Stuttgart Friends what I should do.

An entertaining thread ensued.  I was actually surprised, since I was sure someone would think my questions was idiotic.  I had done my Googling before I asked the question and all I could find was a thread on The Local for Switzerland about what they do in Switzerland when an animal dies.  Apparently there, they get incinerated.  I think that's what they do in Germany, too.  Though maybe the process isn't as straightforward.

Finally, today, someone brought up the point that my question seemed ludicrous.  In the United States, the vast majority of people would just bag or wrap up the bird and toss it.  He couldn't believe the question was asked or that some people were saying I needed to call a vet or even the cops.  I will admit, I was a little annoyed.  But I told the guy that birds (and other animals) can carry diseases.  Moreover, having been yelled at by Germans before, I wanted to try to avoid a repeat of the experience if possible.  Another poster wrote that when a duck died near his house, he'd called the police and they said he'd done the right thing because of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted between people and birds or other animals.

So then the guy asked what the procedures were in the United States.  I'm sure he figured there were none, or I would not be able to tell him.

Of course, he asked this not knowing that I have a master's degree in public health and used to work for the South Carolina Bureau of Epidemiology.  I know about things like West Nile Virus, Hanta Virus, Toxoplasmosis, Mycobacterium Avium, Bird flu, etcetera...  and that's another reason why it occurred to me to ask about how to dispose of random dead animals and birds.

I posted information from the state of Michigan and the Centers for Disease Control...  to which he "lol'd" and said, "Fair enough."  But he still wanted to know who in the USA would think of this.  So I had to tell him about my education and that I had learned about this stuff in school and work.  But really, I was mostly motivated by not wanting to get bitched out by someone after making a mistake.

I also just *knew* that someone was going to think I had asked a "dumb" or odd question.  It's not actually that dumb... but I will agree that most people would just throw the bird away and not give it a second thought.  Incidentally, our landlady told us we could just put it in the gray (restmull) bin.  Hopefully, it won't stink up the area before the trash guys come next week.


Monday, March 16, 2015

I did it, dammit!

Well, I managed to get back to the Brauhaus Schoenbuch Boeblingen all on my own today.  I left way too early and used the GPS to find my way through the city.  When I got to the Brauhaus, I was feeling very nervous and jittery.  I ended up waiting for awhile, too.  But I managed to get out, have lunch with some nice ladies, and meet new people.

This may seem like a small thing, but I've somehow gotten a bit driving phobic over the past few years.  I used to drive every day, but I got out of the habit.  Somehow, while not in the habit of driving, I became weird about it to the point at which I didn't even want to try to go places by myself anymore.  I think it's mainly traffic that I hate...  Yes, driving in Germany is a little scary, but I was like this in the States, too.  I think I have some anxiety issues.  I have no reason to have anxiety about driving, yet I do...  It's true that my last speeding ticket was in 1992 and I've never been in a real car accident.  There's a first time for everything, though.

Anyway, we had a perfectly awesome time hanging out.  It was a lot of fun to meet some of the women I've gotten acquainted with on Facebook.  It was also fun to get out of my house for an afternoon.  The weather today is beautiful.  It was almost warm enough to put the top down on the convertible.  When I got home, there were no unpleasant doggy surprises waiting for me.

My trip to and from Boeblingen went off without a hitch until I got in the wrong turn lane to get on the Autobahn coming out of Boeblingen.  But that was easily fixed, thanks to the nearby exit to Sindelfingen.  If this keeps up, I may become mobile again!  I'd say today was a success!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Our visit to Brauhaus Schoenbuch Boeblingen....

Apparently, the Brauhaus Schoenbuch Boeblingen is a local landmark.  My husband, Bill, had been there more than once for an office party or a hail and farewell.  Somehow, I missed visiting there last time we lived in the Stuttgart area.

Some ladies in a local Facebook group said they wanted us all to visit there for a lunch.  I had never been there and am extremely neurotic about driving, especially in Germany.  I have no reason to be neurotic.  To date, I have gotten exactly one speeding ticket in my lifetime.  I just don't like driving, even though I'm pretty good at it.  I hesitated agreeing to go and, in fact, told Bill that we needed to visit there this weekend so I'd at least have an idea of where the place is.

So we went to Panzer today so I could pick a new ugly rug for our living room, we could drop off some empty bottles at the Shoppette/Military Clothing Sales, and I could see this mythical brauhaus for myself.

We arrived at the place at almost three o'clock...

As you can see, the parking lot was packed...

We sat at the one empty table, which was cleaned up after we took our seats.

The place was busy... but I had to get a shot of the brewery equipment...

The menu is in German and English and has plenty of choices.  The beer in the photo is the current "strong beer" being offered.  It's very good, and I say this as a committed beer lover.  

I was pretty hungry when we went into the place.  Brunch was still in full swing... at about 25 euros a person, that was a bit steep for Bill and me, especially since we never eat that much food.  I was kind of wanting wurst, but ended up ordering a Schweinhaxe.  Bill had the lentils and sausage plate.  The waiter took pains to tell me that my dish would be huge.  I asked if we could take it with us.  He said yes, so I told him to bring it to me... 

Bill's dish came with lentils, "German wieners", and spatzle.  

Our waiter was not lying when he said the pork knee was "huge"...  It really was!  You will need the sharp knife, too.  Those "cracklin's" are tough!

But seriously, this was less than 11 euros...  I ordered the Farmer's bread to go with it.  For maybe a euro more, you could get a dumpling...  The potato salad is excellent!

The food was very hearty.  Our waiter was right to tell me it was a lot of food.  I managed less than a third of that pork knee, even with Bill's help.  So I asked him to bring me something so I could take it to go.  I could tell he was annoyed by the request, though he should have anticipated it.  He brought me foil and a plastic bag...  

So I made a swan!  I have to admit, that made the waiter smile.  Glad to know I haven't lost my touch since the days when I used to wait tables...  I think my leftovers will last at least two meals.  

We stayed a bit longer for a round of the very delightful and very fresh "strong beer" they have going right now.  Bill enjoyed a Naturtrüb and I had a hefeweizen.  For our two lunches and the five beers we enjoyed between us, we paid just under 40 euros.  An added bonus, the place is within walking distance of Panzer; but it also has plenty of parking for those of us not in the neighborhood and neurotic about driving in Germany.  There are also plenty of reasonably clean toilets!  That may mean nothing to people who aren't beer drinkers, but it means everything to me.

One last shot... after the lunch crowd left, the bar was in full, glorious view...

So Bill and I had a great time.  I hope to be back at the Schoenbuch Brauhaus soon... maybe even tomorrow if I don't chicken out.

I almost wish I'd had room for dessert.  It looked like they had some good choices.  I saw a lot of coffee drinkers at the very least, a cute little Jack Russell Terrier, and one couple who walked out on their check.  :(