Friday, December 8, 2017

Luz Bistro for dinner!

Last night, Bill and I decided to take his mom, Parker, to Luz Bar & Bistro in Nagold.  I have written about Luz Bistro at the Alte Post in Nagold several times.  We usually go there for lunch on the weekends, but last night we decided to have dinner there.  I chose Luz because I knew the food and service would be excellent.  I also had a feeling we wouldn't need reservations.

We arrived at the restaurant at about 7:00pm.  The bar area was pretty busy, as was the small dining room to the right.  I had never seen that dining room full.  Fortunately, there were still a few empty tables in the dining room to the left, which is where we usually sit if we aren't outside enjoying Nagold's city scenes while we drink wine.  Bill, Parker, and I took a seat at a four top and Bill ordered a bottle of Rioja and our usual sparkling water.

I was intrigued by a couple of the choices on Luz's dinner menu last night, but I needed Google translate for a few things.  For instance, I had forgotten the word "Topinambur", which is Jerusalem artichoke.  I also didn't know the word "Saibling", which is German for "char (a type of trout)".  Parker chose a trout dish that was served with a citrusy pickle cream sauce.  I don't know how I stood being in Germany without Google Translate.  It's saved me a few times.  Anyway, below are the dishes we enjoyed last night.

I was originally intrigued by a dish that featured shrimps, onions, bacon, and mashed potatoes.  Since I was really hungry, I opted for a rib eye.  Luz has several steaks, a couple of which come in a "lady's cut".  The rib eye is one size only, 230 grams.  I ordered a side of fries, although I probably should have had a salad.  The fries at Luz are nothing special, although they arrived hot.  The steak, on the other hand, was juicy and delicious and beautifully complimented by a chilled garlic spread that was delicious.  It really married well with the beef.  

Parker's dish was trout with a pickle and cream sauce.  I didn't taste it, but she said the sauce was citrusy.  This dish came with a simple preparation of potatoes and greens.  I probably would have enjoyed it.  Maybe next time.

Bill had a very hearty plate of goulash made with venison and served with cranberry sauce and spaetzle.  I could tell he enjoyed this dish, based on how clean his plate was.  It was very satisfying.  I don't routinely eat venison, but I might have liked this dish, too.

After our sumptuous main courses, Parker and I decided to have dessert.  I think our waitress might have been a little "weeded", handling the rest of the crowd in the bar area and the other dining room.  She brought our desserts before she brought drinks.  I could see the ice cream was melted, which makes me think it sat for a few minutes.  But anyway, it still tasted good... especially Parker's dessert.  I must have it next time I go to Luz Bistro.  It was a real hit!

My creme brulee came with red wine ice cream, blackberries and blueberries, and a crisp cookie.  It was a pretty standard incarnation of creme brulee, which I would have liked more had the ice cream not been so soft.  But... having waited tables myself, I am willing to cut the waitress a break.  She was working hard.  About halfway through the dessert, I had the prosecco I ordered.

Parker's dessert was my favorite culinary treat of the evening.  She had a dark chocolate tart with sea salt ice cream, berries, whipped cream, and a vanilla sauce.  I swear... next time I have PMS, I hope I can get my hands on that dessert.  It was absolutely delicious.

Last night's dinner came to about 159 euros before the tip.  I think had it not been a little busy last night, we would have had an almost flawless meal.  The good news everything tasted great and we were together, enjoying each other's company.  Luz and the Alte Post remain another of my favorite local restaurants and it's always a good bet for a weekend lunch of when company is around. 

We are headed to Berlin later today, which excites me because it's the first time any of us has been there.  It's a blind booking on Eurowings, which we haven't done in the past five years.  It should be fun.  I look forward to seeing some sights and writing more travel articles.  Berlin has been on my "must visit" list for a long time, especially since I've been to so many other European capitals in countries where I don't actually live.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Another wonderful evening at Osteria da Gino's in Nagold...

My husband's mother, Parker, just flew from San Antonio, Texas to Germany to see us for the first time since we moved back here in 2014.  Parker is a wonderful person and I've missed having easy access to her.  We came to Stuttgart from San Antonio and she used to come to our house all the time to spend the night or have dinner.

We spent yesterday morning driving to and from Frankfurt to collect her at the big airport.  Then, having arrived home at about 3:15pm, Bill picked up our stylin' new glasses from the optical shop in Nagold.  I'm pretty pleased with our badly needed new spectacles, although I don't like wearing glasses as a rule.

Last night, we went to see Gino at Osteria da Gino in Nagold (not to be confused with the one in Herrenberg).  As many places as we've dined since we came back to Germany, I think Gino's is probably my favorite.  He and his wife greet us like family.  In fact, when Bill called for a much needed reservation a few days ago, Gino's wife immediately recognized the name and gave him a very warm greeting.  They are truly wonderful hosts.

I have reviewed Gino's restaurant plenty of times in this blog.  I have never been disappointed on any visits there, even though Gino's style is different than most anywhere else we've been.  For one thing, I have never once been offered a menu at Gino's place.  He or his chef just comes over and asks you if you want each course.  The antipasti is usually pretty much the same thing.  An orange and fennel salad, grilled vegetables, sliced cheeses and sausages, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, and bread.  But then he'll bring out pasta and that course often varies.  Then we'll have fish or meat and we never know what that will turn out to be.  We've had everything from filet mignon to osso bucco.  Finally, dinner is capped off with dessert, which is usually a platter of different things... or maybe tiramisu.  You just never know.  One thing you will never be served is pizza.

Anyway, here are some photos from last night's food extravaganza.  Gino had a full house last night-- 26 people in his tiny dining room.  It had the ambiance of a good party, with everyone sharing a table and a good time.

I took a few photos of Nagold, which is now beautifully decorated for the holidays.  If you haven't visited this cute little town, you should come by and see it.  It's super quaint and adorable and there are a lot of nice restaurants there.  

We had to keep our tour of Nagold brief, since Parker didn't bring a heavy coat with her.  She said it's about 80 degrees in San Antonio right now.  I would be surprised if she owns a heavy coat.  As soon as we walked into Gino's restaurant, he turned around and tried to place us in his mind.  It's been too long since our last visit.  His adorable wife remembered us immediately.  Gino doesn't speak English, but that doesn't matter.  He has such a big personality that it's easy to be friends with him.  

We were seated with a party of five at a long table.  Lots of people were enjoying Gino's hospitality last night.  I don't think I have ever seen his dining room when it wasn't full.

Obligatory shot of Bill...

and his lovely mom, Parker.  Now both of our mothers have visited Gino!

We started with a lovely bottle of Primitivo.  We actually had a bottle, which was kind of a switch.  Usually, Gino brings us little carafes and I don't know what I'm drinking.  I enjoyed this wine enough to look for it next time I'm shopping.  It was very pleasing.  Incidentally, we didn't specifically order this.  They suggested a Primitivo and we said that was good.  This is what they brought us.

The four above shots are of the antipasto.  We had the orange and fennel salad with olives, fresh sausages and cheese, mozzarella and tomatoes, and grilled vegetables.  I am always pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the way Gino's chef grills the veggies.  They are delicious.

Next, we had a pasta course.  Bill and Parker had their spaghetti Parmesan with truffles.  I had mine plain, sprinkled with just a little ground pepper.  Although his restaurant is too small to witness this in the dining room, Gino's hardworking culinary crew makes this dish in a big wheel of cheese.  Bill watched them preparing it as he passed the kitchen.

Next, the main course.  We all had filet mignon, cooked medium rare and topped with rosemary, with roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach.  I noticed a couple of ladies having zander filet, which was the fish option last night.  One man had what appeared to be shrimp.  If Gino offers you something that doesn't appeal, chances are excellent that he'll have something you'll love.  We enjoy letting him take the wheel, though.  He has never disappointed us.

And finally, dessert.  This was just enough because we were a bit full.  Parker and I were going to have espresso, but I think they forgot to bring it.  By the time we were finished with dinner, it was time to go home and sleep.  

The bill for this lovely meal was just under 300 euros.  We usually spend in the neighborhood of 160 to 175 euros when it's just Bill and me.  But then, we also always get four courses, which you certainly don't have to do.  We saw at least one couple having two courses.  They were the first and only ones to leave for a couple of hours.  Most people who dine at Gino's seem to go for the whole program.  Fortunately, you can pay by credit card.

As I mentioned before, Gino's food is usually fantastic.  But what I love the most about his restaurant is that it's unlike any of the others in the area.  Every time we go there, it feels like we've been invited to a great party.  More than once, we've met new people there and even made new friends.  And Gino and his wife are just wonderful, warm hosts who make us feel at home.  I love bringing friends and family to this place.  As usual, I warmly recommend Osteria da Gino in Nagold if you ever have the chance to visit.  Just don't go on Sunday and don't go there looking for pizza.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Five places to get really fancy vittles in the Stuttgart area...

Bill and I had tentative plans to visit a couple of festivals over the weekend.  But then we took note of the weather and decided we'd rather stay in and watch bad TV.  Our area got snow yesterday and last night and that kind of weather makes me want to hibernate.  I do like to post updates to this blog on the weekends, though.

Those who read this blog regularly might know that I tend to write more about restaurants than anything else.  Every once in awhile, I make aggregate posts about places where we've eaten.  Since we have just enjoyed two marvelous five star restaurant experiences, I thought today would be a good day to post about where to get really fancy food in the Stuttgart area.

This list is not in any particular order.  They're just places where we've gone and been bowled over by the food, the service, and the presentation.  Not surprisingly, they also tend to be very expensive.  I will link to my first review of each place and, if you are interested, you can click the labels to read any updates.

5.  Der Zauberlehrling

Bill and I first tried Der Zauberlehrling in Stuttgart in 2008.  At that time, it was one of just a few restaurants in the area that was using Open Table, an online reservation service.  Der Zauberlehrling is also a quirky hotel that I wouldn't mind trying someday.  We have only been for the food, which has been pretty magical.  The above link will take you to my review from the spring of 2017, when we attended their Candlelit Theme Night.  This event, which happens every Saturday, is a set menu offered for 115 euros a person and is all inclusive of snacks, a four course meal, wine pairings, and espresso or coffee.  The food is definitely gourmet and the service is outstanding, although it's not possible to order a la carte on Saturday nights (you can order a la carte on other nights).  As much as I enjoyed the food, I was especially enchanted by the service, which was laid back but very professional.  I love a place where I can feel comfortable enjoying the food.

One of the lovely courses at Der Zauberlehrling.

4.  Alte Post

We recently celebrated our 15th anniversary at Alte Post in Nagold.  This restaurant is actually two eateries-- the casual Luz Bistro and Bar and the more formal Alte Post, which offers set menus a few nights a week.  Both times we've tried the more formal Alte Post dining room, we've come away from the experience awestruck by the exquisite flavors and inventive presentations.  A bonus for us is that Nagold is very close to where we live.  Both times, we have been served by the sommelier and proprietor, Marina Hentsch, who has teamed up with star Chef Stefan Beiter to make some truly outstanding food for those of us on the edge of the Black Forest.

Delightful salmon at Alte Post.

My next entry is another hotel restaurant located in Wildberg, a small town in the Black Forest.  Hotel Talblick offers two restaurants on its premises.  There's the traditional gasthaus, which Bill and I haven't tried yet, and the "Gourmetrestaurant", which we tried in 2016.  The two restaurants are different, though they both get very high marks for food quality.  We were the only ones dining in the gourmet restaurant when we finally managed to get a reservation after months of trying.  It was June and it was hot, but the food was absolutely unforgettable.  Chef Claus Weitbrecht has many years of experience and study in France, and it shows.  We spent several hours enjoying course after course of very fancy food!  If you don't mind a drive and like gourmet dining, this place is worth a stop.

This was the amuse when we dined...  It wasn't even on the menu!  I see by my review that I was very much enchanted by this quail.

Gasthof Krone in Waldenbuch is an unassuming looking place, but it offers a wonderful gourmet experience.  We dined there in the spring of 2016 and I think we're due for another visit, particularly since the chef changed after we tried them the first time.  Service at this little restaurant is very professional and the food is amazing.  Although I would recommend making reservations at any of the places I've listed in this post, I would especially recommend them for Gasthof Krone.  This restaurant is well-known and well-loved by people in Waldenbuch.  The small dining room was hopping when we ate there, although the service remained serene and the food was sublime.

Lamb chops done right.

1.  Delice

Our most recent fancy dining adventure was at Delice last Wednesday.  This downtown Stuttgart restaurant is making a lot of waves lately for its unique ambiance and imaginatively prepared cuisine.  The dining room is very tiny and you get personal attention from the charming sommelier, Evangelos Pattas, who once worked on the cruise ship MS Europa, regarded by the Berlitz Guide as "the best cruise ship in the world" for twelve years running.  Throughout the evening, you will be able to watch Chef Andreas Hettinger work from his open kitchen.  We were blown away by his culinary wizardry as much as we were the very charming Pattas, who kept us in excellent spirits with his inspired wine pairings.

Perfect shrimp presented with flair.

Of course there are other wonderful restaurants in the Stuttgart area and Bill and I continue to try them as time and finances permit.  These are just a few of the really great food experiences we've had in the Stuttgart area and I wanted to share them with others living here and hoping for a very European dining experience.  Yes, you'll spend several hours and plenty of money, but I can truly say that each of these five restaurants have left me dazzled, and not just by the bill!  Every time I try one of these five star eateries, I leave having expanded my comfort zone a little bit more.  I hope this post whets your appetite for a great dining experience.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

New glasses and lunch #2 at Il Due in Nagold...

A couple of days ago, Bill and I went to the optometry clinic on Patch Barracks.  We both badly needed to get our eyes checked.  It had been about three years for both of us and I knew my prescription had changed noticeably.  So we went in and had a good exam, which I wrote about here.

Today, we decided to take advantage of the American/non German holiday and visit a optical shop.  We went to Nagold, because there are several eyewear shops there.  We stopped into Pro Optik, which is clearly a chain, and picked out frames.  We happened to be there during a sale, which was a good thing.  I found frames that I think/hope will be more comfortable than the ones I have now.

The guy who helped us was really young and spoke a little English... his English was better than our German.  Using both languages, we got the job done.  He got us set up for glasses and we gave him a short lesson on American politics.  Like most every German we run into, he was interested in our thoughts on Trump and Clinton.  He even laughed and said, "Fuck Trump.", which I thought was interesting.  In America, if you heard someone helping you in an eyewear store saying that, they'd probably get fired!

After about a half an hour or so, he had our fittings done and said we'd have new glasses by December 8th.  We'll be out of town if that's when they get to us, but at least I have the right contact lens for my right eye, which needed a stronger prescription.  I can see a whole lot better now.  I think our two pairs of glasses will cost approximately five hundred euros together.  I'll be glad to ditch the ones I've been wearing and it'll be nice to see Bill in a pair that weren't issued by the Army.

I very rarely wear glasses, so I have never really shopped for them very often.  Today, after realizing that we don't speak German, the sales staff kind of left us to our own devices to pick out frames.  It was kind of nice.  Usually, I get some lady in the optometrist's office trying to get me to upgrade.  I remember in 2002, I bought new glasses and got the kind that turn into sunglasses.  They were very expensive and ultimately a waste of money, since I rarely wear my glasses out of the house.  Last time, I bought a pair in Georgia.  They were on sale and look okay, but they aren't very comfortable.  I think the new pair is a little more comfortable and more my style.  I probably still won't wear them much, though.

After we ordered our glasses, we decided to have lunch at Il Due, which is an Italian place we tried for the first time last month.  I'll be honest.  I wasn't planning on having lunch in Nagold, but the smell outside of Il Due was so good that I was lured in.  Bill was game, too.

Today, we opted for some traditional Italian.  They had lasagne as a special.  After finding out there were no mushrooms in it, I ordered that.  It came with a side salad.  Bill had a Pizza Salami.

My side salad.  They have a few varieties of dressings available.  I went with a vinaigrette.  

Bill's pizza was outstanding!  We will have to come back and get take out from there.  It was probably some of the best locally made pizza I've had yet.

And my lasagne, which was delightfully cheesy and included peas and meat sauce.  It was a little bland, but otherwise very enjoyable and filling.  I couldn't quite finish it.

As we were enjoying lunch, we were marveling at how many nice restaurants we have in Nagold.  Seriously... for its size, it really does offer a great variety of high quality eateries.  I think I like it more than even Tuebingen.  We had half of Bill's pizza packed up and paid about 33 euros before tip for our lunch.  Tonight, I think we're having pork loin at home.  I'd like to have a Thanksgiving meal, but it's just the two of us.  That's one bummer about being in Germany during the holidays.  But at least there are good restaurants here.

Almost stuck in Stuttgart after divine dinner at Delice...

Delightful Delice!

Bear with me, folks.  Today's post will probably be kind of long and potentially convoluted.  I did promise some people that I would return and report after Bill and I tried Delice, a tiny and wonderful restaurant in downtown Stuttgart.  Here I am with the story!  I hope you'll bear with me!

Our tale begins at the beginning of last week.  It was a few days before our wedding anniversary and we were trying to figure out where to celebrate.  Bill had heard of Delice, which is a tiny place that puts out amazing food.  Neither of us had been before, so we didn't know just how tiny it is.  He called Delice and spoke to a very winsome man who told us that his restaurant was completely booked for the night of our anniversary.  Then he asked if we could make it on Wednesday of this week.  Bill said that was possible, so our charming host reserved a table for us at 7:30pm.

Bill got home from work a little bit early so we could brave the Stuttgart traffic.  I broke out my glad rags and pearls and Bill exchanged his sweater vest for a blazer.  Off we went.  The firs.  t mishap involved me trying to get my iPod to work.  This may not seem like a big deal, but I'm pretty serious about my music in the car.  I also hate German pop.  I hate the current trend of American pop too, when it comes down to it.  Finally, after unplugging and replugging in the dark, restarting the car and restarting the iPod, it started working.

We passed through Herrenberg and directly landed in a very frustrating Stau that took about thirty extra minutes to get through.  Someone had an accident and it had backed up traffic .  Bill and I are very punctual and lack patience, so we were getting a bit annoyed by the delay.  I was sitting in the front seat thanking God that I don't have to deal with that mess on the daily.  I think I noticed an U-bahn station somewhat close to Delice, but Bill thought it probably wouldn't have been convenient to use it.  Next time, maybe we'll study that option more, especially given what happened after dinner.

We got to the Parkhaus right next to Delice at about 7:45.  We parked the car.  I had a bad feeling because all of the spaces had numbers over them, which makes me think they're reserved.  I didn't have time to think too much about it, though, because we had to rush off to our dinner reservation.

After finding the restaurant, we walked through a tiny courtyard and down a few steps into what looked like a darkly lit former bomb shelter.  The host who had taken our reservation, name of Evangelos Pattas, met us at the door after warning us about a tricky last step.  Pattas was very welcoming and asked if he should speak English or German.  He and a colleague then took our coats and showed us to a spacious two top against the wall.  On either side of us, there were two guys enjoying dinner.  I counted two large tables, perhaps large enough for four to six people.  The other four tables were two tops.  One two top was unbooked last night.  Aside from me, there was only one other woman in the restaurant last night.

Bill gazed at his lovely wife.  Then he went to use the men's room.  The restrooms are tiny-- just one stall.  The ladies room was equipped with rolled up towels, eau de toilette, and hand lotion.  They also brought us steamy hot towels before dinner started.  I was distracted by my phone and didn't notice at first when the assistant offered me a towel.  

Prior to visiting the restaurant, Bill had sent an email telling the staff (which consists of the chef, the sommelier, and an assistant) about any food allergies or sensitivities we have.  The chef requests this for planning purposes.  Bill told him about my mushroom hatred, although I think he said I have allergies, which I don't.  Because Bill had written the email in German, but the proprietor had spoken to him in English on the phone, he said he'd wondered about us.  He did schmooze a bit, asking where we were from and what Bill's job is.

Pattas explained that the menu is up to five courses and they would like to "surprise" us, although the menu was posted outside.  I've become somewhat wary of surprise dishes, since our visit to Five in Stuttgart two years ago.  But I saw the guys sitting next to us getting their dishes and decided to trust the chef, Andreas Hettinger. We also opted for the wine pairing, though I noticed they had a selection of different liquors available.

Chef Hettinger works in a tiny kitchen that can be viewed by everyone in the restaurant.  The "bar", such as it is, basically consists of a bank of assorted bottles.  As I mentioned previously, it's a very small venue.  I was amazed by how such a tiny place could put out such amazing culinary creations.  I started with a glass of champagne, while Bill had a locally produced white wine from the Bodensee.  His wine was crisp with a strong essence of pears, while my champagne was dry as air and really hit the spot after our stressful drive into Stuttgart.

We started with the amuse.  Two spoons had tiny crustinis with beef tartare on them.  The other two had smoked salmon and curry.  It was the first time either of us had ever had beef tartare, which is raw meat.  I have to admit it was surprisingly delicious.

Next came this little cup of bisque.  It tasted like lobster with lots of butter and a touch of sherry.  Again, absolutely stunning.  I would love to have this next time I'm in need of something warm and comforting.  The flavors were so delicate.

Out came the bread.  We had walnut bread, pumpkin seed bread, and a plain baguette served with salt free butter.  Our host pointed out the salt in a little dish that came from a river in Australia.  I didn't try it, though, because the butter on its own was so good.  I love bread, so I have to be careful not to fill up on it.

Next came two red shrimp perched upon greens with a red pepper sauce, black garlic, and avocado... It was paired with a spunky Sauvignon Blanc that I loved.

We had beautiful halibut with water chestnuts, quinoa, curry, and cauliflower.  This was paired with a local Riesling from Manz.

Next came scallops, which the chef had kindly prepared sans fungus for me.  Bill's version included black truffle, and you can see him above, enjoying the aroma.  It was topped with an essence of blood wurst and chervil tuber.  To be honest, I think this was my first experience with chervil tuber.  It seemed to add more texture than flavor to this dish.  The blood wurst reminded me very slightly of haggis in flavor only.  It's probably best not to think too long about what either haggis or blood wurst is.

Finally, we had venison, which was so tender you could probably cut it with a spoon.  Bill's version came with mushrooms-- black chanterelles.  It had a sweet crust made with plums, as well as parsley root.  By this point, I was starting to get a bit full.  The hour was getting fairly late, too.  This was paired with a local pinot noir that had sort of a fruit punch essence to it.  It was about 9:45pm.

Next came a pre dessert, a delicious light cream with minced mangos on the bottom...

And then dessert, a Valrhona truffle cake with more chervil, muscovado, red beet ice cream, and grapes.  I think our host also mentioned that this dessert included spinach, which would have been a first for me.  We had a lovely Italian cherry dessert wine with this.  It was a very pleasing ending for a sumptuous meal.

We enjoyed petit fours (chocolate and strawberry candies) and espresso while we surveyed the bill, which came to 343 euros before the tip.  That was about what we paid last week at Nagold's Alte Post, where we celebrated our anniversary.  I would say food quality wise, last night's meal was absolutely on par with last week's anniversary dinner at Alte Post.  The flavors were very unique and worked beautifully together.  Service was impeccable and the wine pairings were outstanding.  It's a very good choice for a special occasion dinner if you're going just for really good food and wine.

If I were to compare the two experiences, I think I liked Alte Post slightly more for a few reasons.  First of all, there's the fact that it's very close to where we live, so there was no need to sit in traffic for an hour to get there.  Also, parking was not an issue in Nagold (I'll get to that story soon).  

I liked the fact that the tables at the Alte Post were spread out, so I never felt like I was inconveniencing anyone when I needed to get up to use the ladies room.  At Delice, you have tables that are right next to each other.  You can hear other conversations and, if you're not particularly slim, run the risk of annoying people next to you as you scoot between the tables to use the restroom.  Fortunately, the men sitting near us were very nice and even said goodbye to us in English!

I did enjoy the "bomb shelter" look of Delice.  I noticed they played Sade on repeat all evening.  It sounded like a few of the same songs playing over and over again.  Most people wouldn't notice because it wasn't turned up very loud, but I'm a musical person.  Fortunately, the songs they chose were good ones and lent to the ambiance appropriately.

After we paid, our host helped us with our coats and we headed off into the night... only to be met with a closed parking garage!  The doors were locked because the garage closed at 9:00pm.  The gate was down.  Bill started talking about taking a cab all the way back to our little town outside of Herrenberg.  I had unpleasant images of having to drive back to Stuttgart this morning to get my car or even it being towed.  Then I started thinking maybe we'd just find a hotel because our dogs would survive.  But then we went back to Delice and the host told Bill to just go to the bar at the end of the block and ask for help.  Apparently, that's where the workers park their cars and they work late. 

So that's what we did.  We walked into this very cool looking bar near Delice and told the bartender, who spoke English, that our car was stuck in the garage.  He showed us how to access the Parkhaus; I was right about the numbers meaning spaces were reserved, although it wasn't a problem last night.  Next time, we'll know to go down a level.  Bill paid 15 euros, got his ticket, and popped it into the machine.  Much to our relief, the gate rose and we got home at about 12:30am.  The drive home took much less time, too.  ;-)

All in all, I can say that we did enjoy Delice very much.  The inventively prepared food is absolutely exquisite and the service is outstanding.  The wine pairings were particularly impressive.  I'm glad the wines were noted on our bill, since I have a feeling we may want to look for some of them locally.  Mr. Pattas was keen for me to spread the word about his restaurant and I am happy to do it.  If you want a very lovely meal in Stuttgart, I recommend Delice.  Just be ready to spend some time and money and, if your car gets stuck in the Parkhaus after hours, don't panic. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

The high price of giving someone the finger in Germany... part two

In May 2015, I wrote a piece on this blog called "The high price of giving someone the finger in Germany".  That particular post has proven to be somewhat "evergreen".  I still get a lot of hits on it, even though it's over two years old.  I suspect people find it when they hear about Germany's rules about not insulting people when driving and not cussing out the cops.

Lately, the weather over here has been pretty depressing.  I think it's starting to get to people.  Over the weekend, there was a very long thread in one of our local Facebook groups about how "rude" Germans are, especially in the Stuttgart area.  A lot of Americans chimed in, agreeing with the original poster that people here can be cold, insulting, and unpleasant.  Quite a few Germans from other parts of the country have also written that this part of the country isn't like the rest of Germany.  Some have even said that people here... well... they can be assholes.

While I have been yelled at more than a couple of times by locals, I personally don't agree that people here are any more unpleasant than in other parts of the world.  What I have found is that Germans, as a whole, can seem uncommonly blunt and/or assertive about some things.  The Stuttgart area is part of Swabia, which is apparently considered "different" somehow than other parts of Germany.  Indeed, there is a dialect here that even native German speakers say can be hard to understand.  Swabians, as a whole, have a reputation for being very tight with their money and uptight in general.  However, reputations are really just stereotypes and not everyone lives up to stereotypes.

Trixi demonstrates how different German dialects can sound, even to native speakers.

When Bill and I moved back here in August 2014, I befriended a local on Facebook.  I still haven't met her in person, but she follows my blog and often gives me useful tips.  One very helpful piece of advice she gave me was to read Your Swabian Neighbors.  Written by American Bob Larson, who once served as a military liaison between German government officials and American military officials, this handy book is all about the idiosyncrasies of life in Baden-Württemberg for those who aren't actually from this area.  Larson, who married a Swabian woman and lived in Germany for many years, published his book in the early 80s.  Though some parts of the book are dated, a lot of the information still holds true today.  I'm thinking it may even be time to re-read that book as, after three years, I am starting to miss my homeland a little.  At this point, there's no telling how much longer we'll be here.

Sometimes Americans in Germany advise others to "flip the bird" to people who piss them off in some way.  I know this is not a good idea when driving or dealing with police officers.  Nowadays, most everyone has a camera on their phones and if it can be proven that you used an obscene gesture, you can be fined up to 4000 euros (although my local friend says this isn't the usual fine).  It's probably not a good idea to flip people off even if you're not driving, though.  Germans like their fines.

I see the original list of insults I included in my first post about this has been updated.  Here's the translated list for your amusement.  Some of the insults are pretty funny.

I know it's tempting to fire back at people who yell at you, but you might want to refrain from using obscene gestures or engaging in namecalling... 

It's not always easy living in another country, even when it's Germany, which has some things in common with the United States.  I know people get frustrated.  I get frustrated, too.  And I will even agree that sometimes dealing with locals can be infuriating.  

On the other hand, there have been times when I've been very pleasantly surprised by the kindness of locals.  In fact, on Saturday, Bill and I went to a grocery store and picked up just one item.  The lady ahead of us saw that we had a small order and enthusiastically invited us to go ahead of her.  In my neighborhood, my neighbors threw a block party and invited Bill and me to attend.  Every morning when I walk my dogs, I am sure to hear at least one "Guten Morgen" from other dog walkers or my neighbors.  They usually sound like they mean it, too.  Sometimes they even smile!  

Even the vet where we take our dogs has taken a shine to us.  I've been having some problems wearing my contact lenses lately.  I'll wear them for a few days with no problem, then one or both of my eyes will suddenly get really irritated.  Last week, I took Zane in to his vet for an allergy shot and she asked me if I was okay.  It was probably because I was wearing my glasses and hating it.  But she noticed I wasn't myself and genuinely wanted to know if I was alright.  That's a far cry from the usual "How you doin'" you get in the States where the person doesn't actually care how you are and doesn't expect a truthful response.

So... the moral of this post is, assholes are everywhere.  I don't think there are any more assholes in Swabia than there are in other parts of the world.  It may just seem that way, especially to Americans, due to cultural differences, the occasionally harsh sounds of the German language, and, maybe, even the gloomy weather we've had lately.  I know it's tempting to return insults, but...

This video illustrates what German sounds like to non-speakers...

If you ever feel tempted to flip someone off or call them names, take a minute to consider all of the awesome vacation destinations in and around Germany.  Wouldn't you rather spend 4000 euros on a cruise somewhere or a first class flight?  I know I would.  

Please don't be put off by the high price listed here.  I've also seen it selling on Amazon for as little as $5.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Herrenberg... and lunch at Cafe Atelier...

The weather is a bit gloomy again today, so Bill and I decided to keep today's outing low key.  We went to Herrenberg for lunch and tried a place new to us, but not to the city.

The morning market was just finishing up when we arrived.

Herrenberg is such a cute little city.

We came upon Cafe Atelier, a cute little place I'd noticed a few times over the years but had never tried.  They had a bunch of chalk boards and a menu outside that made the place look inviting.  I could also see a large display case full of desserts.  Desserts will lure me every time, so we ventured inside. 

A cute little cafe with lots of yummy looking baked goods out front.

When we walked in, we noticed a man standing behind the counter reading the paper.  There were two tables with ladies sitting at them, conversing animatedly.  I get the sense this cafe is very popular with ladies who lunch.  The inside is very feminine looking and cute.  Bill wondered if maybe the front room was only for people having coffee and pastries.  He walked toward the back room and the guy behind the counter stopped him and told him we could sit in the front room.  

The encounter was a little bit awkward... but we had a seat.  I knew what I wanted immediately, a glass of Greek cabernet and the gyrosteller.  Bill ordered a different red.  The guy took our menus before we had a chance to order food.  Below is Bill's expression at that...  

Actually, he had a funnier one, but I was too slow on the draw to capture it.

Lots of good looking desserts!  We didn't try any, though, because lunch filled us up.

The guy came back over after pouring my wine and told Bill that his choice was not available.  So Bill had a glass of the same cabernet I ordered.  We both settled on the gyrosteller.  I guess I must speak my limited German with a terrible accent, because I had to repeat myself a couple of times.  I should get someone to teach me to say "gyros" at the very least.  Happily, I no longer pronounce it "guy-rohs" like I did many years ago.

The little salad that came with the gyrosteller.  It had a rather strong mustard vinaigrette that was oddly sweet.  It wasn't bad, but the flavor was more intense than I would have expected.  I appreciated that the salad wasn't really big.  I prefer little salads.

While we were waiting for our gyros, I noticed the man behind the counter, who seemed to be a little bit over it.  He sneezed.  I was relieved when I saw him go to the sink.  But then I watched him rinse his hands without soap.  The public health educated side of me cringed a little.  A few minutes later, he blew his nose.  Then he went back to the sink and rinsed his hands again.  I guess I should be that grateful that he did that much.  Some people don't.

Behold... the gyros with pommes and tzatziki.  These weren't too bad.  They were well seasoned, at least, and I didn't get the sense that the pork was really intended to be a schnitzel.  However, I don't think the gyros were prepared the way they are at my favorite taverna, on a spiese.

We had a leisurely lunch and when it was all said and done, it cost just 29 euros before the tip.  Hopefully, we won't be catching a cold.  Bill visited the restroom and noticed that the proprietors are okay with non customers using their toilet if you give them fifty cents.  I figure that's fair, as long as the toilet is clean and stocked, which it evidently was.  I didn't visit it myself.  We walked around the corner and passed a fruit and vegetable market, where there was some excellent looking fresh produce was offered.

I should have gotten one of these.

Produce worth getting excited over.

If we hadn't purchased over two pounds of cheese in Alsace last weekend, maybe we would have stopped in...

Unique gifts for Christmas!

We decided to walk back to our car via Edeka.  Herrenberg has a large, impressive one that sells all manner of food, drinks, bras, and underwear.  They also have beer Advent calendars.  I already have a calendar full of liquor that I ordered from Master of Malt.  I like beer calendars, I guess, but German beers mostly taste the same to me in each of the few styles available.  But I can see why people get excited about them.

We bought ice cream instead.

A very considerate lady noticed we only had one item, so she let Bill go ahead of her.  It always makes me feel good when people are unexpectedly kind like that.  On the way home, I noticed the very dramatic skies...  Winter is on its way.

Looks like a spaceship is about to land.

I love it when sunlight streams through the clouds like this.