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Lunch at Momenti di Vita Italiani in Hofheim!

We had pleasant weather yesterday, so Bill and I decided to take a quick trip to the nearby city of Hofheim. I really just wanted a change of scenery, but it was also time for lunch. We parked at our usual venue, the indoor lot at the Chignon Centre, which is an indoor shopping mall. It was kind of weird walking through there maskless. A few people still wear masks indoors, but for the most part, that custom has been abandoned… at least temporarily.

We looked around at some of the places where we’ve previously dined, as well as places we’ve wanted to dine, finally ending up at Momenti di Vita Italiani. This restaurant is right in the middle of the town, along the main drag. Though there weren’t a lot of people sitting inside the restaurant, the outside area was bustling. In retrospect, we probably should have eaten inside, if only to avoid the smokers and flies. But at least we could people and dog watch, which I did.

This restaurant has a very extensive menu. They had specials on a large easel, as well as on a smaller one on the table, plus they had the usual pizzas, pasta dishes, and Italian dishes found at most Italian eateries in Germany. Bill and I both decided on specials that were on the smaller, table easel. He had a glass of Pinot Grigio, while I had a Lugano to go with my dorade filet with wild garlic and asparagus pesto. Bill had linguini with sundried tomatoes, black olives, and mascarpone cheese.

Near us was a large table of English speakers. It sounded like three Brits and an American. They were talking about politics. Across from my was a couple who brought their two dogs. One was a very sweet and well-behaved Bulldog. The other looked like a very fit Rhodesian Ridgeback, who was barking at every dog who passed. We spent a couple hours on our leisurely lunch, and spent about 60 euros with the tip.

Below are some photos from our brief outing. It was brief, because the dogs weren’t that pleased that we were going out, but sometimes, I need to get out of the house without the dogs for my mental well-being.

I asked Bill to take the “back way” home, rather than the Autobahn. I like to be reminded that there are some pretty areas near us. Thanks to the pandemic, we haven’t explored this area as much as we should have by now. I’ve been wanting to go on some weekend outings, like we did in Stuttgart. Hopefully, we’ll get around to that again, soon.

I’m not sure what we’ll do today. It’s a bit cloudy outside. I might just give the dogs much needed baths and work on reading my latest book. I’m glad we managed to get out yesterday, though. It’s always a pleasure to visit Hofheim. We should do it more often.

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I really like this about Germany…

It’s a chilly Saturday, here in Germany. It’s also a holiday weekend. We don’t have any special plans for today, other than to receive wine we ordered last weekend at the wine fest. So I thought maybe today, I’d write about something I’ve noticed and really appreciate about living in Germany. Below is a photo that was shared in a local Facebook group. Someone had seen this solution in a Swabian town– maybe down near Stuttgart– and wondered if it would be a good idea for up here in Hesse.

This keeps the pizza boxes out of the trash cans, so they don’t fill up so fast.

I noticed a few people were a little snarky. One person said this was not a good idea, since people shouldn’t be eating so much pizza. Another said they thought this was “stupid”, since it seemed like overkill for what shouldn’t be a problem. But a couple of people wrote that they thought this was a good idea, and even went as far to do some rudimentary research into how this could be accomplished. Below are their translated comments.

Hmm: The way it looks, this is made of weatherproof sieve pressure plates, only the cutting edges have to be sealed. I see stainless steel screws wouldn’t be a problem now either. If they sponsor the material, I can build a few for free.

Another person wrote: the pizzerias could also sponsor…

I was at Globus today and investigated the material costs: a box would cost around €100. So the idea is feasible As far as regulations, regulations, assessments, TÜV and other rules are concerned, of course I have no plan.

Someone else wrote that this is already a thing in the Allgau area, and it works well. Quite a few people were very positive in their remarks, and thanked the original poster for the suggestion. And, much to my amazement, people were actually coming together to see how they could make this idea come to fruition. Yes, there were a couple of American styled cynical comments that were sort of rude and dismissive, but for the most part, people seemed optimistic and wanting to make something nice for the community.

Last week, I shared the photos of the repurposed gumball machines that now sell “bee bombs”, so people can improve their gardens and give the bees something good to eat. That’s a good thing for everyone, and it keeps retired gumball machines out of the trash.

I also like that here in Germany, people aren’t allowed to run amok with weapons. I feel a lot safer here, because fewer people are armed and dangerous, and it’s a lot less likely that some nut is going to shred my vital organs with ammunition fired from their “sexy” AR-15 rifles that they can buy with ease at any gun dealer. Here, to have a weapon for hunting and fishing, you have to prove you’re sane and know how to use the weapon safely. And you can’t just get whatever gun you want, either.

It’s true that some laws in Germany seem a little ridiculous… like the one that forbids people to flip off drivers on the Autobahn, or the laws that can make someone liable if, for instance, they illegally use pepper spray intended for an animal on a person who is attacking them. Bill recently told me about a guy who needed legal help because he got charged with hit and run for running into a guy who was trying to steal his car. I have also heard about people getting in legal trouble for hurting people who were committing crimes, though that could be anecdotal. And yes, I have also heard horror stories about people buying homes and not being able to evict the previous owners until they are ready to move. It seems that self-defense is less of a thing here. At least that’s how it seems, based on some of the anecdotes I’ve heard.

By and large, Germany is a very nice place to live. The more I see what’s going on at home, the more grateful I am that we live over here. And that gives me an interesting perspective, particularly when it comes to immigration issues in the United States. I am often impressed by the sense of community here. I wish there was more of it back home. I’m tired of seeing how polarized people are… and the collective, “I’ve got mine, so screw you” attitude so many people seem to have. On the other hand, although I understand why some people get frustrated and react with self-righteous indignation when they butt heads with someone on the other side of an issue, I don’t think self-righteous indignation is helpful in reaching compromises or inspiring cooperation.

Anyway… I like that they discuss things like making pizza box slots to help keep the trash cans from overflowing. It’s nicer to see those discussions, than contentious discussions about gun rights and abortion. It also helps that Germany is clean, safe, and beautiful, and has educated people who have basic decency and compassion for others. I admire the Germans. They’ve done a lot of growing. I wish more Americans would.

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“Wining” away our Saturday in Wiesbaden…

A couple of weeks ago, one of Bill’s co-workers invited us to go to a wine tasting/market in Wiesbaden. She bought tickets for us, two of her other friends, and of course, herself. The event was held in the Colonnades near the Kurhaus in downtown Wiesbaden. To gain entry, we had prove we were fully vaccinated, but all other COVID related measures were dropped. We were supposed to be limited to two and a half hours, but fewer people showed up than were expected, so we could have stayed longer if we’d wanted to.

I really had a good time. I had forgotten how much fun these events are, even though I usually end up drinking too much. 😉 We met people representing wineries from around Germany, but there were also a couple of wineries from Italy and France in attendance. We also talked to a lady who runs a nut business out of Freudenstadt, which is very close to where we used to live when we were in the Stuttgart area. She had some really tasty cashews and other nuts that had complementary sweet and savory flavors. She also had salts, cheese breads, and granola.

We didn’t manage to hit every table. If we had, I would be in even worse shape this morning than I am… My liver really got a workout. But I did manage to get some photos. Lots of people were out and about, including a number of wedding parties. Springtime in Wiesbaden is a great time to see brides!

It’s so nice to have some normalcy again. I hope to enjoy it for as long as possible.

I enjoyed talking to some of the winery reps. One French lady bonded with us over a love for Georgian wines and the ancient way wines are made in the Caucasus. She said she did an internship in the Republic of Georgia, and since I lived in Armenia, we both knew about the region. ETA: It turns out the woman was actually from Germany, but she imports French wines. We found this out when Bill got the Rechnung!

Another winery was represented by the founder’s son, who said their winery was extremely tiny, with just one hectare of vines. Besides wines, they also made plum brandy and wineschorles (wine spritzers) that were refreshing. I think we came home with about 30 bottles!

I think we’ll take it easy today… enjoy the nice weather, and take care of some chores.

Here are a few shots of some of our neighborhood’s cutest residents. We ran into them on our walk the other day. Our neighborhood also has a bee feeding vending machine made from a repurposed gumball machine.

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An evening with wonderful Keb’ Mo’… our first concert since 2019!

In 2003, when Bill and I were first married, I bought Lyle Lovett’s then newly released CD, Smile: Songs From the Movies. In those days, we didn’t have much money at all, so it was kind of a big deal when I bought things, even when they were as seemingly insignificant as CDs. On the other hand, I’m a frustrated musician myself, so CDs have never really been insignificant to me.

I got pretty hooked on that CD. I was a pretty new Lyle Lovett fan back then, but it wasn’t long before I became a real admirer of his music. On that CD, there was a collaboration Lovett did with noted blues singer, Keb’ Mo’. They had covered “‘Till It Shines”, a song Bob Seger wrote in the 1970s. I actually owned Bob Seger’s album, Stranger in Town, on cassette tape. I’ve since replaced it at least twice. I instantly recognized the song, and I loved what they did with it. I think that was the first experience I had with Keb’ Mo’.

Never saw the film this was used in, but I love this pairing of musicians.

Some time passed, and I encountered Keb’ Mo’ a few more times. One time, I bought a compilation put together by Martha Stewart, of all people. Yes, that Martha Stewart– the one who went to prison for insider trading! She marketed a CD for new parents called Sleepytime, and it included a collection of soothing songs that were meant to inspire babies to fall asleep, yet didn’t annoy their parents. Keb’ Mo’ contributed a lovely song called “Infinite Eyes” to that CD, which was released in 2004. I see Martha’s Sleepytime CD is no longer available, even on Amazon. That’s a shame, because it’s a really nice CD. I still have it, although it’s in storage now. I hope the extreme heat in Texas hasn’t ruined it. I do have it downloaded to my computer. Additionally, you can find it uploaded on YouTube.

Then came the day when I became a confirmed Keb’ Mo’ fan. Bill and I were having a weekend lunch at Austin Grill, in Springfield, Virginia. They were playing some really great music in there, and I was enjoying my burrito and pink lemonade to some righteous blues. Suddenly, there was Keb’ Mo’s unmistakable voice, covering Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”. After we finished lunch, Bill and I went directly to a Border’s store and I bought three of his CDs. None of them had his cover of “Folsom Prison Blues”, but the spell was cast. I was soon hooked, and started buying his music regularly. Years later, I found and downloaded his version of “Folsom Prison Blues”, but by the time I found it, I had discovered so many other great songs by him!

It’s hard to believe that about twenty years have passed since the first time I heard Keb’ Mo’s voice. It’s ever harder to believe that last night was the first time I ever saw him play live. Especially since Keb’ Mo’ seems to love Europe and has played over here several times in the almost eight years we’ve lived here. I don’t know how much longer we’ll be in Germany, but I am sure last night won’t be the only time we see Keb’ Mo’ in concert. He was so wonderful last night at the Frankfurter Hof! Thanks to the pandemic, the show, which was originally planned for November 16, 2020 (our 18th wedding anniversary), had been rescheduled three times. It was well worth the wait!

Last night’s concert was the first one Bill and I had been to since July 2019, when we saw Mark Knopfler in Leipzig. I remember Knopfler’s show was memorable for a lot of reasons. The most memorable thing about that show, though, besides the fact that it was the last one after a string of concerts Bill and I attended, was that we were staying in the same hotel where Knopfler and his band were. And all of them came to the hotel bar, so I got to gawk at them from afar.

Something similar actually happened last night. Bill and I were eating dinner outdoors at a place called L’Angolo, an Italian restaurant near the Frankfurter Hof, in Mainz. Bill had ordered a half bottle of wine, and just as our waiter was dropping it off, I looked up and there was Keb’ Mo’, walking down the street, completely unbothered and unfazed by anyone! I didn’t have the chance to take a photo then, but I got plenty of them last night, along with some video. I don’t usually like to take video at concerts, but he was pretty open to it, and everyone was doing it. So I got a few minutes from last night’s intimate show, which included opening act, Anthony D’Amato, who was equally great. I had not heard of Anthony D’Amato before last night, but he was very entertaining. His style reminded me of Springsteen’s or maybe Bob Dylan. He’s also been compared to Josh Ritter, but I’m not familiar with Josh Ritter (yet), so I can’t say for sure.

One of Anthony D’Amato’s songs. I don’t think he did this one last night.

I was pleasantly surprised by last night’s show. I had been a bit worried about it, given the COVID-19 situation. Germany only did away with mask requirements in most places just a few weeks ago. I didn’t look forward to having to sit in an auditorium wearing a mask for hours. Fortunately, people in Europe are pretty good about letting people make their own choices, as long as there aren’t official rules. There were some folks who wore masks at the show, but the vast majority of people didn’t. And I didn’t see anyone giving anyone a problem, either way.

The Frankfurter Hof is a small venue that seats a maximum of 480 people, and offers standing areas on the sides. I would guess there were no more than 600 people at last night’s show. We were in seats one and two in row four, which offered a great view of the stage, even without using the zoom function on my camera. I would not hesitate to attend another concert at the Frankfurter Hof, especially since it’s so close to where we live. My only caveat for the uninitiated is that it’s not so easy to find the entrance to the venue, which is between two restaurants/bars.

As usual, the audience was well-behaved and appreciative, which made for a nice atmosphere. People were singing along and clapping, and for the most part, being very considerate of each other. I haven’t been to a whole lot of US based concerts, but I have noticed that I much prefer the shows in Germany to the ones I’ve attended back home. People are expected to act like adults. Those who don’t will be called out. At the same time, if you want to enjoy your adult beverages, you can do that without harassment or price gouging. It’s refreshing to be treated with dignity and respect, without worry that some idiot will ruin the mood for everyone. Last night was also memorable, because we ran into one of Bill’s colleagues. Before she started working for the US government, she used to do sound and lighting for concerts. She even did them for Joan Jett, at some point before she switched careers. 😉

Below are some photos from our evening, and last night’s delightful show. I’m so glad we were finally able to go! I hope Keb’ Mo’ will be back soon. If he follows his usual modus operandi, I expect it won’t be long before we have another chance to enjoy his music live. And if you like blues and haven’t seen him play yet, you’re missing out. We only paid about 45 euros per ticket to catch that show. It was one of the better concerts we’ve attended! Overall, it was a fantastic evening; he played all of the songs I was hoping to hear, plus some I really need to listen to again! If I don’t wind up with COVID-19, that is a bonus!

I was surprised by how humble and down to earth Keb’ Mo’ seemed. He was so funny and obliging, engaging with the audience and sharing entertaining stories with the audience. I also noticed that there were a lot of English speakers at the show, and they were getting his jokes. Bill and I saw the aforementioned Lyle Lovett in Stuttgart in March 2009, and he spoke English and made jokes. Bill and I seemed to be the only ones laughing! That is not what happened last night. The audience loved him! And most of them were very well behaved, save for a couple of squabbles over seats, and dirty looks due to empty beer bottles falling. For once, they weren’t my bottles, either. 😉

Below is a video I got from the first song in the encore, a sweet rendition of “Lean On Me” by Bill Withers. I wish I had gotten the very last song, which was one of the highlights of the show, in my opinion. It was an upbeat gospel number his late mother had loved. Keb’ Mo’ delighted me by quipping, “Germans go to church, too!” And indeed, they were clapping, stomping, and singing along, just like they had been raised on that homespun southern gospel sound. Once again, I missed my own southern roots, especially when he mentioned southern food. But I can’t help but realize that Bill and I shared a bond with the locals last night… and at this point, Germany will always be one of my homes, too. <3

“Lean On Me”
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BrewDog in Wiesbaden!

We had beautiful weather again yesterday, so Bill and I decided to go to Wiesbaden and have lunch at the new BrewDog restaurant. BrewDog is a Scottish craft brewery that claims to be the #1 craft brewer in Europe. Bill and I both like beer very much– that could be an understatement, actually. Bill is a big fan of India Pale Ales (IPAs), too, so he was especially interested in trying the place, which is situated in what used to be a Maredo outlet.

Maredo is a well-known German steakhouse chain, and if you search this blog, you’ll see that Bill and I have visited them a few times, although I don’t think we ever went to the one in Wiesbaden. Looking at their Web site, it appears that they closed a lot of locations. Stuttgart used to have two of them within view of each other, but now it looks like there’s only one. And I remember going to one at the Bonn-Cologne airport back in 2012, and it looks like it’s no longer open, either. There is still one in Frankfurt, so I guess we could go there if the spirit moved us.

In any case, I’m glad to see that there’s a new restaurant in Wiesbaden and it offers unique offerings, for Germany, anyway. Wiesbaden is actually pretty well served by different cuisines, but sometimes one can get stuck in a rut eating Italian, Greek, and German food here, and drinking hefeweizens, pilsners, and the like. BrewDog’s menu is very American friendly, but it also offers vegan choices. And, according to its official Web site, it’s a child friendly place every night until 9:00pm. It’s also dog friendly, as are a lot of German restaurants. We didn’t see any four legged guests yesterday. In fact, when we got there at about 12:30pm, there weren’t many guests at all. The door was wide open, but I didn’t see anyone enjoying lunch. I even wondered for a minute if they were open. It was busier as we were leaving.

We took a seat at table near the front of the restaurant, enjoying plenty of social distance. The barkeep checked our COVID vaccination statuses, but that formality will probably go away next week. The beer menu included a lot of BrewDog’s offerings on tap, but there were also bottled beers. Not too many of them weren’t of the IPA variety, though, which later turned into a problem when Bill’s co-worker saw us and decided to join us for a round. She ordered a pale ale and sent it back, because it was too bitter. I don’t mind IPAs in small doses, but like our friend, I would probably choose a lager or weizen over a bitter brew. I did enjoy my “Elvis Juice”, though, and afterwards, I had a Kokosnuss Porter for dessert.

For lunch, I had a Patriot burger, which was 100% beef with cheddar, pickles, onions, bacon, baby gem, and barbecue sauce. It came with pretty good fries. Bill had a Buffalo Chicken Burger, which was buttermilk fried chicken, hot sauce, honey glaze, gorgonzola cheese, and honey gem. It also came with fries. I was pretty happy with the burger, especially for Germany. It’s been nice to see the burgers get better in this country since our return in 2014. I almost went with the Chuck Norris, which was buttermilk fried chicken on a bun with avocado, red onion, cajun mayo, and coriander. I decided against it because I’m not a big fan of coriander. Next time, maybe I’ll try it… or maybe I’ll get brave and try one of the many vegan selections offered. They also have snacks, chicken wings, bowls, and salads, and for kids, there’s even a “Hoppy Meal”.

I really liked the interior of the restaurant, which offered views of the exposed bricks of the old building, which was perfectly located right near the main square in Wiesbaden. We probably should have sat outside, given the location. It was such a nice day, and the place is primely suited for people watching. There was a Muslim wedding going on out there yesterday! But I also enjoyed the music they were playing indoors. All told we spent about 53 euros before the tip. Food is not too expensive, but the beers were a bit pricey, as were the gooey looking desserts. BrewDog is Lieferando friendly, although I think their delivery area is fairly limited to downtown Wiesbaden. They don’t deliver to our neighborhood, for instance. You can also get beer growlers and canned beer to go there.

One word of caution for anyone with mobility issues. The restrooms are located upstairs, just as they are in a lot of European restaurants.

Below are some spring photos from our lunch date and stroll around Wiesbaden. It was a real pleasure to get out and about! And, on another note, I was glad to see Nora again, Bill’s colleague!

We have nice weather again today, but today is the first day of the DST time change. It’s already 1:19pm, and I am not dressed. I don’t know if we’ll go out or not. I did just send Bill out to drive my car, which hasn’t been out in weeks. I have heard the weather is going to be crappy again next week, so maybe we should make an effort to go out. We’ll see.

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When the village comes together for WINE!

A few days ago, I noticed someone in our local Facebook group had posted that there would be a wine stand this week. I immediately told Bill, who was delighted by the news. He loves going to the wine stands. I like them, too. Our village used to have them every other week in the warmer months as a fundraiser for local clubs. But then we had COVID-19 to deal with, and for over a year, there were no wine stands. We did have one last fall at the very end of the season, but COVID restrictions were still pretty heavy at that time. They are now loosening somewhat, even though a lot of people in Germany are still getting the virus. We were supposed to have “freedom day” last weekend, but Hesse and a number of other states have decided to prolong the measures until at least April 2. Last night’s shindig was delightfully rule free. No one was checking for vaccines, and not many people bothered with masks. We’ll see if Bill and I get sick in the next few days (knock on wood). We stayed away from the crowded areas.

Nevertheless, we did manage to attend last night’s wine stand, in spite of Noyzi’s protests. I think he was just confused because I wore my blue Longwood sweatshirt, which I usually wear when I walk the dogs. He was insisting on trying to come with us. It’s not that he wouldn’t have been welcome, either. The wine stands are very kid and dog friendly. It’s just that he’s still so skittish around people he doesn’t know… and it’s not fun to drink wine while dealing with a restless dog his size. As for Arran, he just gets cranky when he’s around a lot of people, even though he’s friendly.

Noyzi is making some progress in the friend making department. We ran into the proprietor of the local Italian restaurant, pictured in the photos below. The guy likes dogs, and Bill later told me that he worked with a dog rescue. Noyzi could tell he was a friendly and kind man, so he let the guy pet him and even tried to engage in play with him. It was so cute! I love watching Noyzi turn into a confident, happy pooch.

Last night’s stand offered brats and lots of local wines from Hochheim am Main, located very close to Breckenheim. Everybody seemed to be in a good mood… the atmosphere was even friendlier and congenial than usual. I think it’s because the wine stands used to be so much more frequent than they are now. People were definitely ready to mingle. The sign for the stand went up early this week– earlier than usual. And, as you can see, it was well attended! We stayed for about 90 minutes or so… long enough to try all of the wines. Then we came home– it was about a five minute walk. The boys were very happy to see us.

I hope the wine stands are back to stay, even though I usually have a headache on the mornings after!

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A late winter lunch date at Restaurant L’Opera in Hofheim…

The weather has gotten markedly nicer over the past few days. Once we got rid of the Saharan dust cloud that affected much of Europe last week, the temperatures went up and the sun came out. It’s been a little windy, and that has brought a chill, but overall, the weather is definitely improving. Bill decided he wanted to go out, and I agreed. I suggested going to Hofheim, because someone in the local Facebook group posted that there was going to be a cake sale to help refugees in Ukraine. Other options included visiting a new Hofladen (farm) near us, and going to an open house hosted by a guy who sells wine and wine barrel furniture.

We never did find the cake sale in Hofheim, but we did stop by a little Italian place called Restaurant L’Opera. I remember we dined there early in the pandemic. It was probably in 2020. I also remember we sat outside that time. I think the same guy who waited on us that day, took care of us today.

I decided i wanted to go to Restaurant L’Opera because someone else in the Hofheim Facebook group had written a post gushing about the food. I remember liking it the first time we went, but what I had that time wasn’t particularly high end fare. Today, we sat inside and enjoyed two excellent dishes.

Before we visited the restaurant, we stopped by the restroom at the nearby mall, where it costs 50 euro cents to pee. That’s no big deal, since I have a whole, huge bag of euro cents that need to be spent. It would have been nice if the door on the stall I used would have locked. Some lady almost barged in on me.

I took a few photos around the town, where a lively market was happening. They were shutting down a couple of hours later, as we were heading back to the car to go home…

Bill and I spent about 80 euros on our lunches– two glasses of really excellent red wine, a large bottle of San Pellegrino, Tagliata for me, and Spaghettini with salmon and zucchini for him. Then, a creme brûlée for dessert for Bill, and a dreaded lava cake for me. I’m kidding about the “dreaded” part. The cake was very good, but everybody does lava cakes. It’s gotten to the point at which a regular layer cake is a novelty!