Tuesday, June 21, 2016

A four hour birthday meal and new friends at Osteria da Gino in Nagold...

Yesterday was my birthday.  As is our custom on my birthday, Bill and I went out to eat.  Originally, we planned to dine in Stuttgart because I had to go to the dental lab.  I'm in the process of getting a dental implant and we're now in the end stages.  We went to the dental lab so they could determine what color the new tooth should be and get photos of my mouth.  I thought maybe when we were done, we could find a place in Stuttgart to celebrate birthday #44.


I took a photo of the female form on display at the dental lab...  I guess they don't just do teeth there.  ;-)

Bill decided against the Stuttgart plan and booked us a table at Osteria da Gino in Nagold.  I have written about this restaurant several times and continue to write about it because every time we go, we have a great experience.  Gino is a wonderful host who is very friendly and engaging.  He serves fantastic food.  Bill knew he wouldn't disappoint me on my birthday.  Besides that, the restaurant is very close to where we live and getting to and from there lacks the logistical hassles that can come from dining in Stuttgart.


One of my favorite beers, Prairie Bomb!  This is an American craft beer from Oklahoma that I ordered from Saveur Biere.  I enjoyed this before we went to Nagold for dinner. 

So off we went last night, arriving just in time for our 7:00pm reservation.  We were warmly greeted by Gino, who was sporting a conspicuous bandage on his right hand and thumb.  He somehow managed to cut it.  I was relieved to see that he still had all his digits!  Last night, Gino was offering seating inside and outside.  It was the first time we'd ever been to his restaurant and had a choice of venues.  We ate inside because it looked like it was going to rain.  He and his wife showed us to our table, a six top that we knew we'd end up sharing.


A blurry obligatory shot of Bill.  I must have taken this in a hurry!

The concept of table sharing at a restaurant can be strange for Americans.  We're used to having our own space.  Here in Europe, where space can be a premium, it can be awkward to share a table with strangers.  Fortunately, last night, we were seated with people who ended up making my birthday more special and memorable.  

A few minutes after we sat down, another couple were seated at our table.  I was confused at first, since they started speaking German with Gino, then switched to French.  Then, once they realized we were Americans, they spoke English.  It turned out the husband was French and the wife was German and hails from the Black Forest.  She and her husband had come from Paris to visit her family and were staying in Nagold.  Last night was their first visit to Gino's after having found it favorably reviewed on Trip Advisor.  I think after last night's meal, they'll be back.


Birthday bubbly!

After bringing us a round of prosecco, Gino brought out the usual antipasti, which immediately impressed our new friends from France.  We got to talking after Gino scolded me for not knowing any languages except English.  I corrected him by telling him I speak Armenian (which isn't so useful outside of the country or areas where Armenians are concentrated).  I also speak some Spanish, though lately when I try to speak it, it comes out Armenian.  It turned out the male half of the couple dining with us had been to Armenia and we were talking about how well the French and Armenians get along.  That segued into an evening of stimulating conversation!


Huge antipasti... Grilled vegetables, cheese, salami, orange and fennel salad, olives... and bread, of course!


I had to take a special photo of the tuna carpaccio...  This stuff is absolutely sinful.

We explained to the other couple that we'd been to Gino's restaurant several times.  He's never once brought us a menu, although I have seen one posted on the wall outside and in the dining room itself.  We are always content to let Gino bring us whatever's available.  Although you can order as many or few courses as you want, we always end up eating four courses when we visit Gino because it's that good!  Don't go there looking for pizza.  Gino doesn't make pizza, but he does have a small deli where you can purchase food to go or a bottle of wine. 


Bill enjoyed truffles and angel hair pasta...  He loved it, though I lead a truffle free lifestyle.



I had spaghetti.  This was delicious!  The sauce was so fresh and perfectly seasoned that it almost defies description.  

This is the second time Bill and I have gone to Gino's and wound up making new friends.  Because his indoor dining room has limited seating, it's very common to have to share a table if you're dining inside.  The last time we were there, we ended up dining with fellow Americans who had read my blog and decided to try Gino's hospitality.  Last night, Gino had many French people in attendance.  Another large group of French speakers joined us about an hour after we sat down.  Gino handled it all with his usual aplomb.  I really don't know if he speaks French, but he was charming everyone equally.  In fact, because he was so friendly and charming, there was a very long pause between the pasta course and the second course.

Our new friends skipped the pasta.  I enjoyed watching them enjoy the second course.  He had osso bucco and she had the fish, John Dory filet.  It was really fun to see them reacting the same way our American friends Sarah and Mike did when they ate with us at Gino's back in December.  It was a good thing that we were getting along so well with the other couple at our table.  The conversation made waiting for the main course a lot more enjoyable.  We talked about everything from travel in Africa to American politics.  Amazing, considering we had only known each other a couple of hours!


Bill and I both had the fish last night, served with very fresh white asparagus and a shrimp.

It was getting close to 11:00pm when Bill and I finally shared dessert...


A panoply of Italian sweets!  Strawberries, panna cotta, chocolate cake, and ice cream!  The total damage for four courses for two was about 179 euros.  Gino will take credit cards, though we paid in cash.

It was finally time to call it a night and we exchanged cards with our newfound friends.  If we ever make it to Versailles, they have promised to show us the sights!  I love living in Europe.  You never know what will happen or who you'll meet.  That being said, I have a tendency to get carried away sometimes.  I hope our new friends didn't think I was too much of a chatterbox!

On Thursday of this week, Bill and I will venture to Talblick, a hotel and restaurant in Wildberg.  We have been trying to get reservations at their gourmet restaurant for months, so I am excited to finally get to try it out.  Stay tuned for a review!
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