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Michelin starred birthday dinner at Ente in Wiesbaden!

Thursday, June 20th, was my birthday.  It was also Corpus Christi, one of the many religious holidays celebrated in parts of Germany at this time of year.  And, it was also a work night for Bill, who needs his beauty sleep as much as possible these days.  Consequently, we celebrated my birthday last night instead of on my actual birthday.

Ever since we moved to Wiesbaden a few months ago, we’ve heard many great things about its only Michelin starred restaurant, Ente.  Actually, the first time I heard of Ente was last fall, when Bill and I had “top flight” cuisine at Stuttgart’s high class airport restaurant, Top Air.  That night, we enjoyed the services of a very particular sommelier who fussed over us all evening.  He got his training at Ente many years ago.  Ente is affiliated with the Nassauer Hof, a beautiful hotel in downtown Wiesbaden.

Ente is the German word for duck, and yes, you can have duck there if you wish.  They’ll cook a whole bird for you, complete with heart, liver, and everything else that comes with a living creature before it gets slaughtered.  Bill and I like duck, but we weren’t feeling that adventurous about eating organ meats.  Besides, Chef Michael Kammermeier, who joined Ente in 2008, had other delights to choose from.  There was a menu that featured a dish from each of the chefs, and we had a choice of four to six courses.  Ente also has a “bistro”, which looks less formal and expensive and serves French and Italian cuisine.  We’ll have to try it sometime.

Originally, we were going to take a cab to and from the restaurant, so Bill could relax and enjoy more wine.  But when Bill called for a cab, the closest one was in Frankfurt and would take about thirty-five minutes to get to us.  We decided to take our 2006 Toyota RAV 4 for its final spin as a datemobile, as today we’re driving it to Kaiserslautern and trading it in at the Volvo dealership.  Next week, we fly to Sweden to pick up our new ride.

Here are some pictures and light commentary about last night’s birthday bash.

As we approached… we ended up entering through the bistro, which caused us to take a quick tour through the interior of both restaurants.

Our reservation was for 7:00pm, but we got there a little early.  We were the first ones seated.  The weather was absolutely perfect!  We had a nice view of the Kurhaus, too, where Elton John recently performed.

A smartly attired young woman was our sommelier.  She poured me a glass of vintage rose Champagne.  Bill had an expertly prepared Campari with soda.

Next came the welcome amuse– a raspberry gazpacho with olive oil that tasted like raspberry tomatoes…  a truffle falafel (which I actually ate), duck liver that tasted like cherries, and… I’m not sure I remember what was in the little bowl.  I’m pretty sure it was fish.

Butter with salt and a duck shaped mold of duck “schmalz” to go with…
four kinds of wonderfully fresh bread… Bill liked the duck fat, while I mostly stuck with butter.  I did love the duck shaped mold, though.  We ordered a lovely bottle of Kessler Riesling from the Rheingau that tasted eerily of a sour apple Jolly Rancher, minus the sweetness.  The sommelier was very good about keeping our glasses filled.

I started with the asparagus salad, which had a delightful dollop of sorrel flavored ice cream in the middle.  That was a surprise!  The asparagus was so beautifully arranged, in perfectly cut green and white stalks.  This was a nice beginning.
But I think I liked Bill’s first course even more.  It was king fish ceviche with mango salsa and peppers, along with little “chips” on top.  It popped with flavor.  

Next came the pea ravioli, which was served with coconut foam.  The peas were very fresh and sweet.  Several were in their pods to go with the three homemade raviolis stuffed with pea puree.
Bill’s next dish was tiger trout, which looked a whole lot like salmon and was served with a beautifully presented medley of vegetables and foam.

We each had a scoop of Champagne flavored sorbet to cleanse the palate…

Then it was time for the main courses.  Bill had Loup de Mer, which is basically European sea bass.  It was served with deconstructed ratatouille and jus.
I had Spanish dry aged entrecote.  Originally, this would have been a tri tip of Waygu beef, but they did not have Waygu beef available.  My dish came with a Caesar salad, served on a heart of Romaine with black olives and tomatoes, mashed potatoes, jus, and of course, Bearnaise.  Yes, it’s a tiny portion, but remember we were eating four courses.  The steak was mostly cooked to medium and, to be honest, I’ve had better beef.  I think I liked Bill’s main dish more.

We both had the Strawberry Fields dessert, which was probably my favorite of all of the courses.  It was basically like a very thin layer of chocolate cake with cream, crumbles, and very sweet strawberries.

Just before they brought out the bill, we had chocolates and fruit.  I had a glass of Chianti with it.
Bill ponders the bill…  Glad he brought his credit card.

They brought me a little gift to take home…
A little cake!  And look, it has candles, too!

Total damage for this meal was about 359 euros.  Bill rounded up to 400 euros.  For any Americans reading this who think that was a crappy tip, remember we’re in Germany, where wait staff actually get paid by their employers.  They don’t require or expect a 20 percent tip.  
Overall, our experience at Ente was a very pleasant meal coupled with excellent service.  It was not the BEST I’ve ever had… Actually, I think my favorite restaurant experiences in Germany so far have both been at the now defunct Alte Post in the little Black Forest town of Nagold, of all places.  I had the pleasure of dining in their formal dining room twice and left there both times absolutely floored by how wonderful the meals and service were.  Unfortunately, Alte Post, and its more casual sister restaurant, Luz Bistro, had to close last fall due to a lack of qualified service personnel.  I was sad to see it close, even though we’ve since moved away from the Nagold area.  It really was a fantastic restaurant.
I’ve also had meals in Wiesbaden I liked more than what we had at Ente.  Martino Kitchen immediately comes to mind.  The presentations at Ente were exquisite and the service was divine, but I guess my selections last night just didn’t thrill me as much as some at other places have.  However, I would definitely visit Ente again and try other selections, which very well could shock me like Alte Post did.
A kid doing cartwheels nearby.
A view of the terrace as we were leaving.
Kurhaus.  

Manic looking ad for a dentist who does implants.
Big ass van parked next to us…  Look, it’s a Ford!  Donald Trump was wrong about Germans not owning American cars.  This was a model produced in Europe.
Glad our new car has parking assist.  It’s not easy getting out of a parking spot with something this huge blocking one’s view.
The dogs were delighted to see us!
Well, that’s another birthday down the tubes!


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Another Nagold restaurant I’m really going to miss…

I am truly going to miss this place.

Last night, Bill and I decided to go back to Nagold for dinner.  We had visited Nagold last weekend, hoping to eat at one of our favorite restaurants, Luz Bistro at the Alte Post, but they were hosting an event.  Last night, they were open.  In fact, when we approached the menu posted on the front door, Marina Hentsch, the proprietor came out and enthusiastically greeted us!  There was a couple sitting on the terrace having drinks, so she invited us to sit inside or out.  We opted for outside, knowing that soon it will be way too cold to eat al fresco.  This is also kind of the sweet time of year when you can enjoy the last of the good weather without battling the bugs!

Obligatory shot of Bill looking at the menu.

We really enjoyed this lovely primitivo from Italy…

Bill got a kick out of the “math problem” on the back of the bottle.

 

We may have to have this again!

 

Before we move to Wiesbaden, I wish we could dine once again at the Alte Post’s more formal restaurant, which is on the second floor.  We had the privilege of eating there twice and we dropped a whole lot of euros, but of all of the places I’ve had fine meals in Germany, I think I might have enjoyed the Alte post best.  Unfortunately, last I heard, Alte Post was suffering from the same problem a lot of local restaurants are… lack of qualified help.  I know of at least one other decent eatery that had to close because there wasn’t enough wait staff.  The upshot is that the Alte Post is now open for events only and isn’t offering the more formal multi-course menus on the weekends.

Fortunately, the more casual Luz Bistro is still very nice.  There’s a server who speaks English and has been working there for as long as we’ve been patrons.  She recognized us last night and delivered great service with an excellent attitude, even though everyone else decided to eat inside.  It was a pleasant evening, at least until the sun dropped and it started to get chilly.

I went with braised beef and spatzle.  The beef was topped with sauteed onions and the spatzle was very fresh and delicious.  I don’t usually like spatzle a lot, but I really liked the Luz Bistro’s version, with its creamy, cheesy sauce.  It really complemented the tender beef, served with a very savory gravy.

Bill had the “cordon bleu”, with was a breaded pork filet stuffed with feta cheese and ham and served with t’zatzki and loads of pommes.  This was also a nice choice, although I try to avoid schnitzel if I can.  It’s not that I don’t like it– it’s more that it’s easy to get it when I don’t want to be adventurous.

We decided to have dessert.  I had to Google “Affogato”, which is the Italian word for drowned.  It consists of a scoop of vanilla ice cream “drowned” in hot espresso.

We got to watch a bunch of local kids playing in the square while we enjoyed the fall evening.  

I love Nagold so much.  It’s such a nice little town.

Our waitress lit candles for us.

Bill had the Affogato, which was just the right size.

I went with the parfait.  It was light and creamy, with bits of rich chocolate ganache and meringues.  It was a nice way to end the evening.  I hope we can squeeze in one more visit before we move.

 

Total bill for last night’s dinner was about 98 euros.  We really enjoyed ourselves, as usual, and I will probably pine for Luz Bistro when we can no longer access it so easily.  Ah well… I’m sure we’ll find good places near the Rhein, too.

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Bill’s birthday eve at Luz Bistro in Nagold…

Today is Bill’s 54th birthday.  As far as I know, we don’t have any special plans.  We didn’t have special plans last night, either, but we decided to have dinner at Luz Bistro and Bar in Nagold.  Bill and I have eaten there quite a few times over the past few years.  In fact, I think the staff is starting to think of us as regulars.

The weather was very pleasant when we arrived at the restaurant.  Several people were enjoying the terrace.  We decided to join them.  The restaurant was recommending barbecue style steaks, which I guess is different than the American version.  Bill decided that’s what he wanted to have.  I went with a rib eye and pommes.  We paired it with a bottle of house red, which was apparently commissioned by Marina Hentsch, one of the proprietors.

Both sides of the bottle.  This was a very nice blended German wine, created by Marina Hentsch.  Ms. Hentsch came over to see if we’d ordered and I had a chance to show off my developing German skills when I said, “Sie kommt.”  Our waitress beamed because that’s probably the most German she’s ever heard me speak.

Bill looks goofy as we wait for our steaks and smell cigarette and cigar smoke.

Bill’s barbecue style steak came with a baked potato with sour cream and was topped with bacon, corn, and barbecue sauce.  It was cooked to a perfect medium temperature.  He said the sauce actually had a bit of heat to it, which he loved.

I enjoyed my rib eye, which was just the right size.  It came with a krauterbutter and a chilled garlicky butter that I wasn’t sure if it was intended for the frites or the steak.  I tried it on both.  The beef was tender and perfectly cooked.  It was very good, especially for a German steak.

 

While we were eating, a sudden rainstorm developed.  We tried to stick it out, but the rain came down harder and we were finally driven inside.  The smokers simply moved to a corner table, where they could be sheltered from the rain and still ogle the young women passing.  I do enjoy this time of year in Germany, when the weather is nice enough for people watching, even if I don’t generally enjoy the month of July for other reasons.

We grabbed the first table by the door leading outside, mainly just to finish our wine and have dessert.  The rain came down for a steady clip, although it had stopped by the time we were finished with dinner. 

 

I don’t always go for dessert, but since it was Bill’s birthday eve, we decided to splurge.  I had a Schwarzwalderbecher (Black Forest kiss), pictured below…

This was so good!  It was basically a parfait of chocolate mousse and cream flavored with kirschwasser (cherry water) liqueur.  At the bottom was a small piece of chocolate cake and in the middle was a scoop of cherry ice cream.  Although it was kind of pricey at 10,50 euros, it wasn’t too much.

Bill had panna cotta with strawberries.  It, too, was beautifully presented and tasted good.  We are never disappointed at Luz or its more upscale cousin, Alte Post.  

 

The Alte Post, which is a fantastic feature offered at Luz, is currently closed due to a lack of qualified workers.  Apparently, this is a problem across Germany.  There aren’t enough people to wait tables or do other, similar work.  It’s a shame, since the restaurant got a Michelin star in 2016.  Hopefully, the closure is temporary.  They do still offer the upstairs dining for events.

 

The total bill came to about 111 euros before the tip.  That’s more than we usually spend on dinners we didn’t plan in advance.  Good thing my student loans will finally be paid off next month!  I think today, we might head into Tuebingen for a bit.  There is a gastro fest going on this weekend that we don’t want to miss.

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Insane 15th anniversary celebration at the Alte Post in Nagold!

Edited to add: Alte Post has sadly closed.

Yesterday, Bill and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary.  Although last year, we went on vacation to Ireland for about ten days, this year we needed to stay in town because Bill is still earning time off from his new job.  At the very least, it’s always been our habit to go out to dinner on our anniversary.  We’ve enjoyed some wonderful anniversary meals over the last fifteen years.  However, last night’s glorious repast will definitely be a tough act to follow!

Initially, we considered finding a really nice restaurant in Stuttgart, like we did two years ago.  In 2015, we tried the “surprise menu” at Five.  As cool as that restaurant is, I think Bill and I have determined that we don’t always like surprise menu concepts, mainly because there are a few things I can’t abide, like truffles and mushrooms.  Also, the prospect of driving all the way from the edge of the Black Forest to Stuttgart was unappealing to both of us, since Bill is working today.  After trying and failing to find the right place to eat, I finally said, “Why don’t we go to the Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant again?”

I have written about Nagold’s Alte Post a few times.  This beautiful former hotel is now split into two restaurants.  There’s the more casual and less expensive Luz Bistro & Bar, which is on the first floor and open daily (except Sundays and Mondays) for lunch and dinner, and then there’s the more formal and expensive Alte Post Restaurant on the second floor.

Bill and I eat at Luz Bistro somewhat regularly, and you’ll find many posts about those experiences in this blog.  Last night was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant, Alte Post, which takes eating to a whole new level.  The Alte Post gourmet restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday nights from 6:30pm until 11:00pm.  The “deadline” for coming in for dinner is at 8:30pm, although I recommend making a reservation rather than just walking in.

We tried Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant for the first time in March of 2017 and had some very interesting and expensive new food experiences.  I really broke some boundaries on that visit and was eager to try it again.  I am so glad I did.  Although we dropped a large load of euros on our anniversary dinner, it was money well spent.  Every course was positively orgasmic and I say that as someone who can be picky and isn’t necessarily impressed by culinary gimmicks.

We only live about four miles from Nagold, so getting there is usually easy.  However, last night there was a very bad accident on B28, which is the road that usually takes us to Nagold.  We were met by the police, who directed us to detour.  We drove back through our town and went via Mötzingen, a little village adjacent to Jettingen that we usually only see when we’re being forced to detour.  Even after the detour, we arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of our reservation time of 7:00.

Although there was a function going on in another private dining room in the restaurant, we were the first of two couples to arrive for last night’s multi-course extravaganza!  Yes, that’s right… one of the lovely things about Alte Post’s gourmet restaurant is that your table will be relatively private.  There’s one dining room with a large table in it and the smaller room with four tables set for two.  Only two of the four were used last night, so you get plenty of room to spread out and enjoy.

We were personally attended to by Marina Hentsch, who along with star Chef Stefan Beiter, runs the whole operation.  Every time we’ve visited the restaurant, we’ve seen her waiting tables or otherwise attending to guests.  Besides providing stellar front of the house service, she is also a wine expert (sommelier).  Thankfully, Hentsch does speak some English (and French, apparently), though she claims her English isn’t good.  We found her very charming as she seated us and offered us an aperitif.  Since it was our anniversary, we started with a round of champagne.  And she brought us a little snack, pictured below…

This is tuna rolled in a little “cone” and topped with radish slices and caviar.  Although I was a little timid at first, this set the tone for a perfect evening of fine dining.

Bill looking sharp as we decide how we’re going to do things…

 

The first thing to know about Alte Post’s gourmet experience is that a set menu is offered.  You can have up to seven courses, but you can’t simply pick the courses you want.  Last night, there were courses featuring tuna, lobster, quail, salmon, beef, duck, and dessert.  We opted to have five of the seven courses because the quail included truffles, which I knew I wouldn’t like.  The other couple who came in later (and spoke French the whole time) apparently had the full seven courses.

We also had the wine pairing, which I highly recommend if you like tasting different wines with foods.  Marina Hentsch does a great job choosing wines and explaining them, although it helps to know a little German in that case.  I surprised myself by understanding a fair amount of what she said.

The menu is offered in both German and English.  You can also check it out online and outside the restaurant’s front door.  If you have any food idiosyncrasies, I recommend checking the menu before you book your table.  Otherwise, you may find yourself trying and enjoying calves’ brains, as I did the first time we tried the gourmet restaurant!  The menu does change regularly.

Not the best lighting, but this is an example of one of the tables.  

Last night’s menu in English.  Bill took a German menu.

 

Once we ordered our five course feast, Marina Hentsch went back to the kitchen and returned with the amuse, pictured below…  It was actually in two pieces.

These little bites were mindblowing.  There was a tomato and tuna bite, sushi with goat cheese and shrimp, and a tempura fried shrimp on a rice cake.

They were followed by hollowed out eggshells, painted black, and filled with a warm curry spiced soup.  It had a bit of a kick to it, which Bill especially loved.  Our hostess also brought us delicious potato bread with salted butter.  It was so good!

Our first course– fresh tuna with beetroot and green apple.  The beetroot reminded me of a very dry Fruit Roll Up.  It crackled and was very sweet, almost like candy.  I don’t normally like beets much, due to their earthy flavor.  I have to admit this was kind of a treat.  Under the beetroot curl, there was a little dollop of what tasted like apple flavored ice cream.  You wouldn’t think this would go with tuna, but it all worked surprisingly well.  It was paired with a steel aged chardonnay that was crisper than I was expecting and delightful.

Bill’s reaction thus far…

Next, we had Norway lobster served on top of mashed potatoes with bouillabaisse (fish stew) and beautifully decorated with a flower petal.  This was served with another chardonnay which was aged in oak and imparted buttery notes.  Sorry this photo is a little blurry.  I took two shots and they both turned out this way.  🙁

It was followed by my favorite of all of the courses, the salmon.  Salmon is one of those dishes that I tend to love or can take or leave.  A perfectly cooked piece of salmon is a delight to me, but when it’s dried out or dull, it leaves me underwhelmed.  This particular presentation was very exciting.  The chef paired it with sweet potato curry, avocado, and mangos.  I don’t usually like sweet potatoes much, but paired with the curry and Asian spices, this course practically exploded in my mouth.  I loved it!  This was served with a locally produced Riesling, that had a lovely essence of peaches that married beautifully with the curry.

Next, we had the duck, which was Bill’s favorite course.  It was served medium rare in pepper sauce with Preiselbeeren (cranberries).  I told Bill that I think I’d love a Thanksgiving dish of duck with cranberries and he immediately started talked about getting out his Anova precision cooker.  Again, beautifully done, though the duck had the misfortune of following the spectacular salmon.   

Finally, we enjoyed dessert… a panoply of chocolate.  There was a truffle that was full of warm chocolate “lava”.  I don’t really go for lava cakes much, but this was nicely done.  There was a little cloud of foam on top, along with a smidge of chocolate ice cream topped with mousse and garnished with walnuts, grapes, and something that reminded me of very high end Cracker Jacks minus the peanuts.

 

Once we finished dessert, we were offered a digestive.  Bill declined, since he was driving, but I tried a locally produced Mirabelle (made in Nagold for the restaurant).  I had a Mirabelle last week in France, so it was interesting to try it here in Germany.  It was not served chilled, as it was in France, which I think made it easier to detect the subtle flavors of plums.

Then we had a round of espresso, which was served with yet another two part treat, pictured below…

Four little candies– a marshmallow, a peanut chew wrapped in edible “plastic” (which I still peeled off, but didn’t have to), a very intense spiced jelly gumdrop, and a little chocolate cookie.

And this amazingly exquisite half lemon filled with light cream and topped with crispy, curry flavored flakes that reminded me a little of shredded wheat.  It was surprisingly delicious.

 

So, by now, you may be wondering how much this dinner set us back.  Well, folks, I will confess that hospitality at Alte Post doesn’t come cheap.  Our bill came to 346 euros before the tip.  However, I think it’s important to bear in mind that we were two of only four people in the dining room and both the service and the food were impeccable.  We were both raving about how excellent everything was as we walked back to the car, still bowled over by some of the exotic flavors we encountered last night.  It all worked so amazingly well!

As I mentioned, this was only our second time in the gourmet restaurant.  It really should be reserved for special occasions or nights when you just want to sit for a few hours and enjoy very fresh food creatively prepared.  Yes, it’s very expensive, but I think of it as one of life’s little experiences… ones that make putting up with all the bullshit worthwhile.  I can see why Chef Beiter is a “star”.  If you like gourmet food, I highly recommend visiting Nagold and trying Alte Post.  Bring a credit card and an open mind, and be prepared to spend a couple of hours.

A bonus was that last night, I managed to wear my contact lenses without pain, although you can see my eyes are pretty irritated…  By the way, we did dress up because we like to, but there is no need to do that if you don’t want to.  The other couple who joined us were wearing jeans. 

Next week, we will be visiting Delice in Stuttgart.  I understand that will also be a culinary adventure.  I look forward to returning and reporting!

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Shrimp salad and brats at Luz Bistro in Nagold…

Apologies for the fact that today’s review is of a place Bill and I have enjoyed several times since we’ve been living near Nagold.  We had really beautiful weather today and Bill decided he needed to drag me away from the computer for lunch.  It was late in the afternoon and we knew Luz Bistro in Nagold would offer food for those of us who don’t eat lunch at noon.  We have eaten at Luz enough times to know that the food and service would be good.  With the unseasonably warm and sunny weather, we knew we couldn’t go wrong today.  Bill is also leaving for a business trip tomorrow and will be gone a few days, so we knew we had to do something this afternoon.

We decided to enjoy the terrace, which was open and unshaded.  Personally, I would have liked it if a couple of umbrellas had been open for those of us who are light skinned, light haired, and light eyed. I am generally rather sensitive to the sun, but I’m particularly sensitive right now.  For some reason, my eyes have been giving me a lot of trouble.  I think it’s due to allergies.  My dog, Zane, has the same problem and actually went to the vet today because one of his eyes is all puffy and bloodshot.  I have the same problem, but I haven’t been to an eye doctor yet.  We’re still looking for one, if anyone has suggestions  😉

It was about 2:30pm when we got to the restaurant.  That’s when they have their short menu, which basically consists of lighter or simpler fare.  They have Wiener Schnitzel, a couple of salads, bratwurst, and flammkuchen, as well as desserts.  I was a little hungry, but not ravenous.  For the second week in a row, I went with a salad.  What an interesting trend for me!

We ordered a bottle of gray burgundy (a pinot gris) from the restaurant’s proprietor.  It was nice enjoying white wine in the sun, even if there was a guy smoking a stogie near us.

I think Bill had been planning on having beer, but I talked him into the wine, which he enjoyed.  It was 26 euros for the bottle.

 

There was a lady sitting behind me who was speaking rapid fire German with an Irish accent, which Bill immediately picked up on.  I was reminded of earlier this week, as I watched old ER episodes on iTunes and a guy was on there speaking Armenian with an American accent.  I don’t pretend to be fluent in Armenian by any stretch, but I did live there for over two years and had to use the language. It’s funny to hear it spoken with an American accent, although the actor speaks better than I ever will!  He was clearly born and raised in California, though, where there are many Americans who are ethnic Armenians and learn the language.  I ran into quite a few of them twenty years ago when I lived in Armenia.  They were coming there to go to dental or medical school.  “Western” Armenian is different than “Eastern” Armenian, though, and I was kind of proud to be able to tell the difference.  Especially since I have both a former Armenian teacher and one of my former Armenian students as Facebook friends.

Enough about my time in Armenia… on to the food.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures today because I was updating my phone during lunch and I prefer to use the phone for restaurant reviews because it’s somewhat less conspicuous.  Maybe it’s because I was born in the 1970s, but I feel weird taking pictures of food in restaurants.  But I also know they are an essential part of my reviews.  So feast your eyes…

This was my huge shrimp salad, which came with garlic bread (which wasn’t all that garlicky).  The salad was really nice, though.  It included four perfectly clean, generously sized, grilled shrimp.  I couldn’t finish this.  It was a lot of roughage covered with a very pleasing creamy dressing.  It reminded me a little of Ranch… perhaps slightly more delicately flavored.  I had lettuce, cucumbers, and corn to go with the shrimp.  I don’t usually go for a lot of dressing on my salads, but this was pretty perfect.  Not too much and not too little.  It was priced at just under 16 euros.

Bill had bratwurst with potato salad.  I tasted his sausage, which was grilled to perfection and came with mustard and bread.  It was very good, although perhaps a little heavy for such a pretty day.  This would be great in colder weather.  Bill said he wished he’d had the salad, although the sausage and salad were tasty.

All told, our bill came to about 61 euros before the tip.  The ladies who took care of us have waited on us before and were very professional, as usual.  It’s always a pleasure dining at Luz Bistro/Alte Post in Nagold.  We’re going to have to go back soon for an evening in their full scale restaurant like we had last spring.

If you live near Nagold, Luz Bistro is a nice place to have a “grown up” lunch at any time of the afternoon.  It’s really nice that they’re so close to where we live.

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Graduate level eating (and spending) at the Alte Post in Nagold…

Bill and I currently live just five kilometers from an adorable town called Nagold.  These days, we spend a fair amount of time there, the same way we used to spend a lot of time in Tübingen when we lived in Germany the first time.  I used to think Tübingen was the bomb!  I still do, but in some ways, I like Nagold better.  It’s smaller, less crowded, less expensive to visit on weekends (on account of cheap or free parking), and there are some wonderful restaurants there.

Last weekend, we visited Luz Bistro, which is a casual but very nice restaurant in the old Alte Post hotel in the middle of town.  There is also a more formal restaurant called the Alte Post in the building.  The Luz Bistro and Bar is open every day for lunch and dinner, while the Alte Post restaurant is only open from Wednesday to Saturday from 6:30pm.  Edited to add: The Alte Post is now closed.

Although we’ve been eating at the Luz Bistro for a couple of years now, I hadn’t actually noticed the more formal restaurant until I started reading the Web site for Nagold’s charming hotel landmark (which, I gather, is no longer a hotel).  When I read about the more formal dining option, I decided Bill and I needed to pay a visit.  Last night, we went… and we had a glorious five course meal!  And we also spent lots of euros!  Fortunately, credit cards are allowed at the Alte Post.  Otherwise, we might have had to wash dishes!

Bill approaches the impressive front door.  Last night’s menu was posted outside, but it’s also posted online.  The Alte Post restaurant offers tasting menus, which means that diners are all offered the same thing.  For that reason, I recommend checking out the menu before you book a reservation to make sure you’ll like what is being offered on a given night.

I love this old building and its ornate decorations.

We reserved a table for 7:00pm, but we were about twenty minutes early.  It was not a problem.  The proprietor, who is ever present whenever we’ve visited, led us to a large table set for two.  Looking around the dining room, I could see that there were only a few tables set up for five different parties.  Besides us, there were two other couples.  There was also a group of three and another, larger group in the next room.  This is the kind of restaurant where you really should book ahead to avoid disappointment.  I would go as far as saying that reservations are a must.

A first glance at the dining room.  The vibe is different upstairs than it is in the downstairs bistro.

Last night’s menu…  They do have menus in English, for which I was grateful.  I still ate calf’s brains, though.  

Patrons can choose between three and seven courses and portions are sized accordingly.  A three course menu was 68 euros per person.  The whole seven course menu was 128 euros.  We also opted for the wine pairing, which added another 40 euros per person, but was well worth doing.  If you opt for only a few courses, you don’t get to choose which ones you get.  At the bottom of the menu, there is an explanation of which courses come with the 3, 4, 5, or 6 course meals.  Bill and I went for five courses because we thought it would be enough… and also, there were a couple of courses that I had a feeling I wouldn’t enjoy.

We started with glasses of locally produced sekt and some very interesting Spanish almonds that appeared to have been fried in some type of Parmesan.  I had to restrain myself from eating too many of those, especially when I saw the amuse.

This was the very elaborate amuse.  I admit to simply nibbling the foie gras to say I’d tried it.  It was surprisingly tasty, but I have a bit of an aversion to foie gras.  

 

We had a small panoply of little treats.  A lime rind was stuffed with ricotta cheese and tuna and topped with roe.  There was a spoon full of foie gras, which tasted curiously like chocolate pudding and cherry ice cream and was topped with a piece of popcorn.  A shrimp chip, the same kind you might find in a bar, was topped with a shrimp.  There was also a piece of  sushi and an eggshell full of red carrot soup.  The bread you see pictured above was absolutely heavenly.  It was a potato bread, lightly salted on top and served hot with butter.  Oh, it was sooo good.  In fact, I think the bread might have been my favorite part of the meal, but I love bread.

Our first course was raw lamb marinated in tomatoes, garlic, and basil.  Bill loved it and I thought it tasted really good.  The meat was very fresh.  Bill is more adventurous than I am, so he enjoyed this course very much.  I appreciated it, but like my meats more well done.  We drank a locally produced white wine with this course.

 

Had we ordered all seven courses, the next selection would have been lobster with ox tail and truffle. Bill loves truffles, but I don’t care for them at all.  And judging by the fact that I could smell them all the way across the room, it was probably a good thing we skipped the lobster.  Had Bill been dining with a truffle fan, it would have been a big hit.

Next came turbot with Jerusalem artichoke, onion, and kalbskopf…  Kalbskopf is calf’s brain.  Believe it or not, it was actually very good.  I was temporarily entertained by the sperm like decorations on the plate.  A chardonnay, heavy on the butter and sour apples, paired quite nicely with the turbot.

Next came salmon with chickpeas, eggplant, and miso.  I loved this course for its simplicity and the crispy little wasabi flavored bits on top of the fish.  This course came with an impressive Riesling made exclusively for the Alte Post.

Course number four was veal, which was served with broccoli, delicious smoked fish, and barley.  The barley reminded me a bit of polenta.  It was very good.  I don’t usually eat veal, but I will say the little bit we had last night was beautifully prepared and could have been cut with a spoon.  This was paired with a delightful rioja, heavy on the cherries.

 

We skipped the next course, which was dove served with olive, cranberry, and vegetable sauce.  I might have been open to trying dove.  Maybe some other time I’ll get the chance, now that I’ve tasted calf’s brains.

Ahhh… dessert!  My favorite course!  This was chocolate and passionfruit with a bit of banana sorbet and topped with little crunchy cookies.  Delicious!  And there was nothing too foreign about it, either.  This was paired with a lovely sweet sauternes.  

And finally, another little amuse… this one full of sweets!  There was a lemon rind full of cardamom and curry scented cream (which is a lot better than it might sound), apricot with cream, and Turkish delight.  We also had espresso.

Just before the bill came, the proprietor offered us a digestive of locally produced Mirabelle, which is a brandy from Alsace made of plums.  It was delightfully smooth.  I think she told us it was also made specifically for her restaurant.

The wines went beautifully with each course, although the pairing did add a significant amount to the final bill, which totaled over 300 euros before the tip.  We also had sekt and two bottles of water, which added to the bill.  Needless to say, partly due to the cost, this is not an experience we will enjoy often, but I do think the Alte Post restaurant would make for an excellent splurge or special occasion place.  The Alte Post also has special dinners regularly that feature wines or are in celebration of certain holidays.  I could certainly see us coming back again for any of those! I am especially intrigued by their wine dinners, which are usually advertised on their Web site.

Overall, we had a lovely dinner and we both ventured a bit outside our culinary comfort zones.  Everything I tasted, even the stuff I wouldn’t normally choose on a menu, I enjoyed to some extent.  I generally hate the taste of foie gras, but last night, I would not have known I was eating foie gras if no one had told me.  Ditto for the calf’s brains!  I may have to add the Alte Post to my list of great date night restaurants, although I also really enjoy the Luz Bistro downstairs, which offers less expensive and somewhat less exotic choices.

This was us before we left.  No one makes me smile the way Bill does.  

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A Schlachtfest! And lunch in Nagold at Luz Bistro Bar…

A flyer about our local Schachtfest.  It was held at Willy-Dieterle Halle, here in Jettingen.

Here in Jettingen, we get a weekly newspaper that tells us what’s going on.  I have only recently started paying attention to it.  I noticed a few days ago that the local evangelical church was having a Schlachtfest today after church services.  I was curious about it, but when I mentioned the prospect of going to the festival to Bill, he was a bit skeptical.  Bill has had a rather distressing history with organized religion and was worried about being proselytized.

I asked my local German friend, Susanne, what I could expect if we went to the Schlachtfest.  She posted a link to a newspaper article about last year’s fest.  She said it was strictly to raise money and there wouldn’t be any pressure to get religious.  She said the cakes would be made by the Landfrauenverein (country women’s club) and would probably be amazing.

A Schlachtfest, for those who don’t know, is basically a festival dedicated to meat.  Historically, it involves the ceremonial slaughter of a pig.  The meat from the pig is then used to make schnitzel, sausages, and other meaty dishes.  At the one hosted in our town, there was a two hour lunch followed by coffee and cake and a concert put on by the local music club.

I pressured Bill about going to the fest, but we were a little slow on the draw.  We didn’t get to the Schlachtfest until it was well underway.  The parking lot was very full and things were in heavy swing.  I took a few photos, but was a little overwhelmed by the crowds.

Check out those cakes!  They looked awesome!  I probably should have gotten a piece to go.  We noticed they had a waffle station, too.

Most of the seats were taken.  There were a couple of tables with religious literature on them, but other than that, it looked like a regular fest, complete with wine and beer and a couple of crosses on the stage.  No one tried to help us find Jesus.

The menu on the wall.  It looked like you’d pay, get a ticket, and then present the ticket to the ladies who were dishing out the food.  It smelled really good in there and I was tempted to partake, but it was after 1:00pm and the scene was a bit chaotic.  There were hundreds of people there having a good lunch.  I felt a little like I was in a school cafeteria.  So I told Bill I wanted to go to Nagold.

The parking lot was loaded.  Next time, we’ll come earlier.  They had games for kids in the lobby as well as a big coat rack.  I love how civilized things are in Germany.

 

We went to Nagold and had lunch at Luz Bistro Bar/Alte Post.  We’ve eaten at this restaurant a few times and have never been disappointed.  Today’s lunch was especially lovely.

Bill checks out the flyer on the table about Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations, as well as wine dinners regularly hosted in Alte Post’s classy upstairs dining room.

We split a nice bottle of Barbera from the Piedmont region of Italy.

I had the Metzgerspiesse– basically pieces of pork on a skewer with barbecue sauce, lots of bacon, and sauteed onions.  A potato with sour cream completed the dish.

Bill had Schweinebackchen– basically braised pork with pureed potatoes and corn served in a copper pot.  I really liked my dish, but Bill’s was even better.  That pork was so tender and flavorful!  Bill was hesitant to order it at first, but he really enjoyed it.  Next time, I’ll probably go for this dish myself if they still have it!

We finished with a round of espresso.

And I had to take note of the unisex bathroom.  Don’t worry.  There are two rooms with stalls, but everyone washes their hands in the same place.  

 

Our bill for today’s sumptuous lunch was almost 80 euros.  It was well worth the price.  We definitely need to get to the Alte Post for a formal dinner.  I’ve enjoyed every meal I’ve had there and the service is always welcoming and professional.  If you are ever in Nagold, I highly recommend stopping in for a meal.

A nice shot of a Nagold church…

On the way back to the car, we passed Osteria da Gino’s, which is probably our favorite Nagold restaurant.  We always end up getting the degustation menu, so we never know what he has or the prices.  I took a picture of the menu posted outside (we are usually there after dark).  We haven’t been to see Gino since my birthday in June and are long overdue for a visit.

 

All in all, we had a nice afternoon.  Now we’re enjoying quiet time with another nice red.  Hope your Sunday is just as peaceful.  On another note, isn’t Schlachtfest a great word?  It ranks right up there with Stau and Schmutz in descriptiveness!

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Luz Bistro Bar vs. The Alte Post… (both are now closed)

So Bill and I recently noticed that the restaurant at the Alte Post seems to have changed names.  What we thought was the Alte Post restaurant is called the Luz Bistro Bar.  I looked at their Web site and it appeared that the Alte Post is a more formal restaurant, while Luz Bistro Bar is more casual.  They are run by the same people.

After our quick trip to Switzerland on Sunday, we were in no mood to cook.  So Bill and I went to Nagold and had a lovely dinner outside at the Luz Bistro Bar.  The weather was perfect for sitting outside.  We have actually eaten at this place at least three times and have enjoyed it each time.   But now I see we may have to go back and try what appears to be their nicer restaurant.

As for Sunday’s dinner, this is what we had…

Bill had a sauvignon blanc and I had a riesling…

Then he had a lovely grilled skewer with beef, onion, bacon, and a baked potato.  

I went with a beautifully prepared rib eye and pommes.  The steak was outstanding, though the pommes were rather ordinary.  

 

A lot of people were enjoying a pasta dish with truffles, which I could easily smell from several tables away.  I was tempted by the dorade, though I eat fish all the time.  Service was relaxed but professional.  English menus are available.

As we were leaving, I caught sight of the Vodaphone hot air balloon flying overhead.

 

I love living near Nagold.  I’m so glad we got to come back to the Stuttgart area and get to know more about what this part of Germany offers.  It’s great to be here.  I hope we can stay awhile longer.  And now that I know there’s more to the Alte Post, I will have to make a point of visiting so I can write a proper review.  It appears the Alte Post is only open Thursday through Saturday nights.  Luz Bistro Bar is open daily.  We’ll have to make plans!

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Sundays

A beautiful day for wandering and drinking beer!

The weather here in Jettingen is finally fine.  This morning, I decided I wanted to visit the Naturpark Schönbuch with Bill and the dogs.  I noticed the park last month, as we were on our way to Waldenbuch for dinner.  The drive to the park from our house is really pretty and I was hoping to get some good photos.  We set out at about 10:00am and enjoyed a lovely walk through a different forest than the one right behind our house.  Thankfully, I remembered to apply sunscreen and insect repellant.  Bill didn’t and I have a feeling he got some sun today.

I always get a little nervous when I take walks in the forests around here.  Although the paths are well marked and I have an excellent sense of direction, I’m always afraid I might get lost.  But there were a lot of folks enjoying the park today with their dogs, on their bikes, or jogging.  I suppose if we’d really gotten hopelessly lost, we could have just asked someone.

We check out the huge map.  When we lived here last time, we lived close to the southern end of this park, but we never visited.  I’m glad this time, we’re making a point of getting out and seeing local sights.  Parking at the nature park is free and plentiful.  

The first of many street signs.  This was near the cemetery, where many people were paying their respects to the dead.  We didn’t visit the graveyard because dogs aren’t allowed.

Teepees in the woods?  Who knows?

Fenced in deer.

They were not bothered by us at all.

 

The boys were mostly oblivious at first.

As we walked further down the road, I could tell Zane was getting thirsty.  A stream ran to our right and he kept acting like he wanted to go to it.  There was no handy spot for him to reach it, though…

And then we happened upon this…  It’s probably not for drinking, but Zane was able to enjoy a few sips.

Around this point, I was getting nervous.  I just let my instincts do the navigating…

We walked up a long hill that about kicked my ass…

Passed what looked like a lumber yard… and I started to hear cars in the distance.

I was very relieved to see this.  This is the sign for the parking lot where our car was.  Right across the street is a gasthaus.  It wasn’t quite ready for business when we finished our walk at about 11:00am.

We went a short way down another trail heading toward Herrenberg.  I wanted to try to get a photo of the view overlooking the valley.

This was about the best I could do…  I bet it would be a lot better in the winter, though the colors aren’t as pretty then.

After our walk, we took the dogs home.  I changed shirts and shoes and we went to Nagold for lunch.  It was packed there today because there was a garden festival going on.  We finally found parking over near the pool area.

I can’t resist water fowl…

There were lots of people in Nagold… including a fire eater.

And if you wanted to, you could have escargot for lunch.  It actually smelled really good, but snails are not my thing.

A pretty shot of the church in Nagold.  Love this town.  It’s super cute and very close to where we live.

 

I was starting to get discouraged as we searched for a place to eat lunch.  Nagold was brimming with crowds.  But then we spotted an empty table at the Alte Post.  We sat down and enjoyed a much deserved beer.

This was so refreshing after our long walk…

Alte Post has an asparagus menu right now, but I decided to have salmon with mashed potatoes, chives, and beurre blanc sauce.  This was absolutely delicious and easy to finish!

Bill went vegetarian and had herbed noodles with a salad and a little sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

The salad was loaded with peppers.

 

We could have spent all afternoon in Nagold, but we needed to get to the Real to exchange a rack of beer and pick up some water and wine.  Also, we have dinner reservations for tonight.

Besides, Nagold was packed…

More water fowl…

I had to take a picture of some tulips growing in our garden.  One of them is half red and half yellow. I hadn’t noticed until Bill pointed it out.

 

I’m so happy the weather has finally warmed up and the sun is shining.  I am definitely ready to put the top down on my Mini and hang out at some biergartens.  We’ve decided that this year, maybe we’ll even see if we can bring our dogs with us.  After an hour of walking, they may be tired enough not to raise hell.  We will have to go back to Naturpark Schönbuch sometime soon.  There are miles of trails to be explored there.

I will have a new restaurant review up today or tomorrow.  Tonight, we venture to Holzgerlingen for the first time.

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All Saints Day Sunday at Alte Post in Nagold…

Last year, All Saints Day fell on a Saturday.  This year, it was on a Sunday.  I think that made a difference in our expectations of having stuff to do.  As it was, I stayed in my nightgown for most of the day and did laundry.  Bill did schoolwork and walked the dogs, running into the local horse folks.   The dogs, of course, freaked out.  I bet none of the local horsey people would believe me if I told them that I spent most of my childhood in a barn and used to compete in horse shows.  But it’s been years…  I’m sure I could ride if I wanted to, but I would pay for it.  So would the horse, for that matter.

We did decide to go out to dinner, though, and tonight we chose to dine at a restaurant in Nagold that has been piquing our interest for awhile now.  The Alte Post Hotel is a centerpiece of Nagold.  It’s situated right on the main square and is a sight to behold.   We live a mere five kilometers or so from Nagold, though you’d never know it from the way the landscape so dramatically changes.  Jettingen goes from open fields and flat horizons to deep valleys and hills in Nagold.  It’s hard to believe they are so close together.  Since we live so close, there’s no need to try the hotel… however, the restaurant is a different matter altogether.

There is a much fancier sign closer to the entrance, but since it was dark outside, I photographed the one that was lit…

We were welcomed into the intimate dining area to the left of the entrance.  It wasn’t until we were leaving that I noticed there’s a smaller and more intimate dining area to the right, too.  It was no matter to us, though, since there was only one other couple there when we arrived.  We sat at a table in the corner of the dining room…

Since we both wanted fish, Bill chose a nice local white wine for us… made right here in the Stuttgart area.  We also had our usual water with gas.

 

I entertained myself by speaking very rudimentary German to our excellent waitress.  There were actually two of them helping us.  One spoke excellent English.  The other, I’m not sure, since we managed to converse in German.  All these evenings out in nice restaurants have helped me with my language skills somewhat.

I don’t always have a starter, but I was intrigued by the spinach soup, which was served with strips of house prepared salmon.  Bill had a salad.

As we waited for our first courses, group of three came in with two dogs, one tiny chihuahua and a much larger hound who looked kind of like a cross between a lab and a viszla. I was amazed by how cute they were and how well they behaved.  The larger dog curled up on a blanket and went to sleep while her owners enjoyed dinner.  Wish mine were that well behaved.

Bill’s salad was supposed to be small, but was somewhat substantial.  It was very colorful and had a nice, tangy vinaigrette.  He liked it, but had to stop before getting too full.  The bread was very fresh and delicious.

My spinach soup.  This was very delicately flavored… spinach with some cream and salmon strips that didn’t taste like they were smoked.  I enjoyed the soup, though I think I might have liked some salt with it.  There was neither salt nor pepper on the table.  Perhaps it’s just as well.  Salt would have covered up the subtle nuances of this soup’s flavors.

 

Since we had a big meat day yesterday, Bill and I each had fish for dinner.  He had the lachsforelle and I had a zander filet.  We had the same sides, too, rosemary potatoes and spinach.   We each had a choice of two sides and happened to pick the same ones.  The potatoes were hearty, flavorful, and delightful and they were not overpowered by the rosemary.  The spinach was perfectly done; not mushy or overcooked.   I think if I had known yesterday that we’d be eating at Alte Post, I might have picked something other than spinach!

My zander filet is in the foreground.  It was very satisfying with its firm white flesh.  I tried Bill’s lachsforelle and it was also nice, though I preferred the zander.  By this point, a couple was seated next to us and I noticed them noticing me taking a photo.  That’s why I only took one photo.  They seemed to think we were kooky Americans.

 

I also accidentally poured fizzy water into my wine glass just as Bill was about to recharge our glasses.  The waitress seemed to take slight mock offense as she shooed him good naturedly back to his seat.  I am happy to report that service is very professional at Alte Post.  They take it seriously, even if they are getting slightly weeded by a large influx of people.  A bunch of ladies showed up and the had obviously made reservations, since there was a big table made up for them, complete with three glasses per place setting.  The restaurant had been almost empty when we arrived and by the time we were finishing dinner, was full.

Though I was well satisfied after the main course, we decided to have dessert.  Alte Post’s restaurant has a number of enticing choices.  They have creme brulee, strawberries with cream, and several house made ice creams.

I went with the Schwarzwalder… This was vanilla ice cream with cherry sauce, cherries, and a sprinkling of chocolate powder.  A little more chocolate would have made me happy, though this was a really nice ending.  It wasn’t too big, either.

 

Bill’s dessert was basically vanilla ice cream covered with a shot of hot espresso.  It was fantastic.

We noticed the people sitting around us enjoying what looked like fabulous steaks with frites.  Again… the prices out here in the country are less than what we’d pay in Stuttgart, yet the food and service is just as good and, in many cases, even superior.  Tonight’s bill came to 106 euros, which is significantly less than what we spent at [M]eatery yesterday.  The service was also more personal and, I think, even more professional.  We didn’t notice our server taking a break at the bar, for instance.

Anyway, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know I’m a fan of Nagold’s adorable charm.  On Sundays and holidays, you can park for free.  And for us, it’s less than a ten minute drive.  Yes, we’ll go back to Stuttgart for dinner, but with the choices we have in Nagold and even Tuebingen, it’s hard to imagine why…

Of course I recommend Alte Post.  It’s a great place for a date night.  And for those who have kids, I believe I spotted a kinder menu.

For more on the Alte Post, check out this article…  it’s in German, but there’s always Google Chrome for translations.

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