Le Petit Belge– your source for Belgian beer in Wiesbaden!

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One major part of settling in a new town is locating a source for good suds.  I like German beer fine, but I’m really partial to Belgian beers, which tend to be more interesting to my aging tastebuds.  Last weekend, probably after our awesome Cajun food extravaganza, I went looking for a place to buy Belgian beer.

When we lived near Stuttgart, we used to go to Heinrich’s 3000 drink market in Kornwestheim, which had a pretty good sized Belgian section.  I’m sure such a place exists near Wiesbaden, but when I went Googling, the first place to come up in Wiesbaden was a place called Le Petit Belge.  Le Petit Belge is located in the heart of Wiesbaden, right near the big red church in the big square.  It’s kind of awkwardly laid out, with a shop/cafe on the edge of the square and a bakery/chocolate shop two doors down in a passageway.  Between the two shops is a tiny Italian restaurant.

Le Petit Belge plays 80s music on its sound system and sells beers to take home.  It also offers frites, crepes, waffles, buckwheat crepes (which are gluten free), soups, and other specials.  It’s a tiny place, with room for just fourteen people in the cafe and room for a few more folks in the bakery area, which is also where you’ll find the restrooms.  You will need the restrooms after a couple of hearty Belgian beers.

A shot of the outside facade.  When it’s warm you can sit outside.  You can probably sit outside when it’s not warm, too.  They have little blankets.

 

Outside the bakery, where you can get beer, baked goods, and chocolates.  It’s also where my frites were cooked.  This is where you pee.

Bill peruses the menu, where there are many beers listed, then looks at the wall of beers.  

It’s pretty impressive, especially for such a small venue.  I wish we’d known about this place when we were househunting and staying in downtown Wiesbaden.

This is where they make the crepes, waffles, salads and such.  I went with a Caprese, which was a fresh crepe made with tomatoes, herbs, and mozzarella.  It came with a salad.  Bill had a crepe full of Trappist cheese (which smelled like ass) and smoked ham.  He said it was delicious, and ate every bite.  You can also get sweets made… waffles, crepes, or fancy hot chocolate or coffee.

One of the two beers I enjoyed.

This is a small portion of frites at 200 grams.  You can get them with “dips” included, or you can pay a la carte for things like ketchup, mayo, or something else.  They also have medium and large frites.  As it was, Bill and I struggled to finish the small one, and we were sharing.

My crepe.  It arrived with cold mozzarella, but most people don’t care about that.  I just pulled the crepe over the cheese to melt it a bit.  It was good, but I only managed half.  Those frites were deadly!

And a little salad.  I actually enjoyed this– especially the crisp, zesty red peppers.

Bill’s crepe… he enjoys things that smell like ass.  Maybe that’s how we’ve lasted 16 years.  I’m just kidding…  Actually, he said the Trappist cheese was only slightly more pungent than Gruyere, which I can handle somewhat easily.

This was my dessert.  

Bill shops for beer to bring home.  He’s flying back to the States on Sunday, so I’ll be at home alone.  I usually try to stay on the wagon when he’s out of town, but Belgian beers are tempting, I must admit.

This was our modest haul.  Next time, we’ll have to get more.

 

I can see this little eatery is much beloved by the local community.  It’s really kind of cool to have a Belgian restaurant nearby, even if I’m really mostly interested in the beer, frites, and chocolate.  You can get plenty of all three at Le Petit Belge.  I’m sure we’ll be back again and again.

 

 

 

I needed a vacation like nobody’s business… A fantastic meal at Osteria Monti followed by an unpleasant surprise… Part 5

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Bill and I decided that it wouldn’t do to drink our dinner on Saturday night.  So we decided to head back down the hill to a wine shop/osteria I had noticed during our earlier walk.  We neglected to make reservations, which was kind of a mistake.  Fortunately, there was an available table at Osteria Monti when we arrived at about seven o’clock.  We took a seat and proceeded to enjoy a fantastic dinner.

This place has wine for purchase as well as a delightful restaurant.

Bill decides on dinner.  I noticed a lot of tables had been booked, but most of the people never showed up.  By the time we left at about 9:30, the reserved tables were still empty and had been all evening.  The couple sitting behind Bill brought their well-behaved dog with them and the staff brought out a bowl of water.  Given what we discovered later, we should have brought ours, too.

This wine was superb!  I’m definitely going to look for it around here.

The amuse.  This was warm octopus with tomatoes and peppers.  It was delicious.

I had a substantial starter.  These were shrimp fried in phyllo and served with fried potatoes and a mild, citrusy sauce.  They were a hit with me!

Bill had dried beef, which was flavorful and satisfying.  I preferred my shrimp, though.

For dinner, I had Iberian pork served with mashed potatoes and mustard.  This pork was absolutely delicious.  It was tender, flavorful, and cooked to perfection.  And it was just the right size.

Bill had Irish beef with lentils, again perfectly cooked to medium.  

A pre-dessert dessert–  vanilla chantilly with a dash of strawberry.

And I had a lime and gin ice cream creation.  The ice cream was so creamy and rich that it reminded me of custard.  That’s probably what it actually was.

Bill had moist chocolate cake with hazelnut and pistachio ice cream.  Our bill came to 115 euros and it was worth every euro cent.

 

The walk back to the apartment was very pleasant.  There was a warm breeze and the air smelled of flowers.  Little did we know, we’d come back to a mess.  While we were gone, Arran the mischief maker managed to pull a crate full of supplies off the counter.  In the crate were a couple of partially eaten chocolate bars, an entire bag of expensive Orijen dog treats, and a small bag of dry dog food.  Arran helped himself to the dog treats and the dog food and ate part of the chocolate.

As most dog owners know, chocolate is toxic to dogs.  Fortunately, the bars we had were not especially dark chocolate and Arran didn’t eat all of them.  I think he got about 100 grams.  Also, Arran apparently didn’t let Zane get into the booty because only Arran was looking pregnant.

Naturally, we were upset about the mess and the potential chocolate poisoning.  I went looking to see if the area had emergency vets.  Of course, both Bill and I had also been drinking wine at dinner, so neither of us was in any condition to drive.  As it turned out, Arran was totally fine.  He didn’t even so much as suffer a loose bowel movement or vomit even once.  For those who are wondering, yes, there are emergency vets near Domaso.  Fortunately, we didn’t have to pay a visit there.

We didn’t sleep well on Saturday night, though, because we were worried about Arran getting very sick.  Next time, we will do a better job of beagle proofing.  The kitchen in the apartment where we were staying does have a closing door.  In retrospect, we should have closed the door and that would have prevented this little mishap.  Lesson learned.

Just before Bill and I got married back in 2002, our dog CC broke into some chocolate that I hadn’t hidden well enough.  CC ate about two pounds of Hershey’s Kisses and Dove candies that I had used as wedding favors.  He did get pretty sick, although we were able to take care of him at home.  This situation with Arran wasn’t nearly as dramatic as that one was.  Every once in awhile, we have to be reminded not to get too complacent.  Consider us reminded.

A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 10

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We arrived in beautiful Vevey, Switzerland at about 6:30pm or so.  It was dark outside and Bill was stressed out from the mountains and switchbacks, along with the steep inclines and descents.  He says he’s going to get the brakes checked on the Toyota.  I mention this only to remind folks headed for Alpine territory by car to make sure your brakes are in fine working order.  You will definitely need them more than ever there.

I had had my eye on Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey since the first time we lived in Germany.  Back in 2008, we took a trip to Italy and Switzerland and Bill had wanted to visit Gruyeres then.  I had tried to find us a place to stay, but had no luck finding something we could easily afford.  Back in those days, he was still paying child support for three kids, one of which was not legally his responsibility.  None of those kids speak to Bill now.

Anyway, somehow that hotel got added to my list of bookmarks.  I wasn’t necessarily planning to go there when we decided to visit Switzerland.  In fact, we weren’t sure where we’d want to go.  I suggested Gruyeres when I remembered that Bill wanted to visit the H.R. Giger Museum.  I also know how much he loves cheese.  Once again, feasible lodging in Gruyeres seemed lacking.  Having never been there before yesterday, I didn’t know how many hotels were available.  It sounded like the parking situation might be difficult there.  So I decided to just go ahead and splurge on Hotel du Lac.

The first thing to know about Hotel du Lac is that it’s a five star establishment.  It’s expensive, but save for a couple of fairly minor hiccups over the weekend, we had an almost flawless stay.  It started when we pulled into the hotel’s small parking lot in front of the impressive facade.  The door opened and a young man came out and parked our car, steps from the front door.  He then took our bags for us.

A young woman opened the front door and welcomed us.  We sat down in the hotel’s office and she and her colleague offered us house made Swiss chocolate.  Then we got down to business.  I had booked a deluxe room, which was priced at $387 (390 francs) per night.  That did not include the charge for breakfast (39 francs a person) or parking (40 francs).  However, even though I spent a lot of cash on this hotel, I would say it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever stayed in in my lifetime.  The deluxe room included a balcony, which looked over Lake Geneva and The Alps.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us when we were in the room and the view was mostly wasted on us due to fog.  We did enjoy the large balcony, though.  It would be especially nice when the weather is totally clear.

As you may know, Switzerland has four official languages: Italian, German, French, and Romansch.  Vevey is in the French part, very close to Montreux.

Wonderful, plush, king sized bed.  A lovely housekeeper stopped by and did turn down service for us.  She left us with Swiss chocolates.  When we got back to the hotel last night after going to Gruyeres, she set the television to play classical music for us.  The room uses a card to keep the lights on, but she had kindly left one for us, so we didn’t come back to a dark room.

Beware!  Outlets in Switzerland are different.  I had forgotten that about Switzerland last time we visited and stayed overnight back in May 2008.  I will have to get some adaptors, because I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again sooner rather than later.  The hotel did provide us with a universal power adapter, which took care of our needs.

A view of the bedroom. 

A foyer with two closets and a minibar.  The closets light up and there’s a full length mirror.  The minibar has typically overpriced stuff in it, though it was relatively well stocked.  I’m not paying the equivalent of five bucks for a Kit Kat, though.

The bathroom.  The toilet is in its own stall, as is the shower.

The tub is generously sized.  They even give you bath salts.  I wish I had thought to indulge last night.  I was tired after our day trip and a bath would have been nice.

Large sink, complete with makeup mirror.  There was also a scale that I didn’t use.

Nice toiletries, generously restocked.

Shower.  The towels were awesome… huge, with ridges so they had a massaging effect.  There were matching bathrobes that one could purchase.  

Complimentary sparkling water and fruit… and yes, more Swiss chocolate.

Our car was literally parked outside the front door.

The front was all lit up for Christmas…


The view from our balcony…

The hallway.

Furniture in the hall.

 

We took a stroll, stopping at a bar called Sherlock’s Pub.  We only had one beer there because we got a weird vibe, although it looked like it could have been a great place in the right hands.   But the bartender couldn’t be bothered with us and there were a few shifty looking folks there.

After walking around Vevey, which is a very charming town, by the way, we passed through some kind of food fair, attended by many locals, a couple of sheep, and a donkey.  Near the fair, we stopped for pizza at this little hole in the wall place called L’ Armailli…  It looked like an Alpine bomb shelter and it was packed with locals!  The food turned out to be outstanding and our waiter spoke excellent English.

I had a large Cardinal beer, as did Bill.

Taking in the Swiss chalet atmosphere and enjoying the way the place smelled… heavenly!

Bill had lasagne.

I had a Sicilian pizza.  This was served with ham, capers, peppers, and cheese.  It had a thick crust and was manageably sized.  I really enjoyed it.

 

Of course, eating out in Switzerland can be pricey.  We paid about $50 for this meal, plus tip.  But it was definitely worth it and, as Swiss meals go, quite economical.

The front of the fabulous pizza joint.  I think that may have been the best pizza I’ve had in a very long time.

 

I kind of wish I’d bought a pair of those slippers.

We came back to the hotel, once again welcomed by the nice lady who checked us in.  A pretty Asian woman was sitting at the piano playing and singing, sounding a little karaoke-ish.  I decided I needed to go to bed.  I slept very well.  The sheets were absolutely exquisite.  Better yet, I didn’t wake up feeling stiff and sore, like someone had beaten the hell out of me like I did in Italy and even Austria.  Damn, I’m getting wimpy in my old age… but so is Bill.  He had similar complaints.

The next morning, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel.  The lady running breakfast on Saturday morning was absolutely awesome.  We approached her and she knew which room we were in.  She invited us to choose a table and then said if there was anything we wanted not in the buffet to let her know and they’d take care of it.  I wish I had asked for Eggs Benedict, but I ended up getting my breakfast from what was laid out.  The restaurant was very beautifully decorated and the server was so expert and proficient at her job.  She made us feel very welcome.  We left with a wonderful impression…  which sadly slipped later, but more on that in an upcoming rant/post.

Bill enjoys what tasted like French pressed coffee…

The orange juice was fresh squeezed and delicious.  The buffet had a very impressive array of treats available, all labeled with calligraphy.  It was very nice.  

A view of the front door during the morning.

 

After breakfast, which cost us 78 francs plus tip, we made our plans for the day…

And finally, part eight of our Hamburger tales… coming home!

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After we dined at O Cafe Central for lunch, Bill and I went back to the hotel to pick up our bags and get a cab to the airport.  I could hear Bill talking to the concierge guy, who asked where we were from.  Bill said he’s from Texas, which is kind of true, since he’s spent more of his life there than anywhere else (but since he’s a military guy, that’s not saying much).  The concierge guy beamed at him and said, “Ah!  That’s where Mr. Bush is from!”

It turned out the guy was from the Turkish part of Kurdistan.  The war in Iraq was a good thing for the Kurds, who finally got rid of Saddam Hussein.  Many Kurds think of George W. Bush as a hero.  I know a lot of people hate former President Bush.  Personally, I don’t think he was any better or worse than a lot of presidents.  Yes, America took a downturn when he was in office, but there’s plenty of blame to go around for that.  At any rate, Bill’s conversation with that gentleman was a reminder that perspective is everything.  Not everyone thinks the Iraq War was a disaster and not everyone thinks George W. Bush is the son of Satan.

Our cab ride back to the airport was slightly less expensive than the ride into Hamburg was, probably because the cab out used a fixed rate.  For those who are thrifty minded, there is a train that will take you to and from the airport from Hamburg as well.  We probably could have just as easily done that, since we had only small backpacks with us.  But the cab ride gave me a chance to see more of the city and take a photo of a classic Mini Cooper!

You don’t see many of these anymore!

Compared to checking in and getting through security at Stuttgart, getting through Hamburg’s security was a breeze.  We dropped my bag with Air Berlin, then took all of two minutes to get through the security line.  Then we found a little cafe where we sampled a couple more of Hamburg’s beers and I paid five euros for an hour of Internet access.  I would have just used my regular cell phone, but I let the battery die and the SIM card locked.  And then I couldn’t remember the stupid code to unlock it.

The McDonald’s at the Hamburg Airport has a nice play area!

 

Flensburger Weissbier and a Pils…  Nice diversion while we waited for our quick flight back to Stuttgart.

Our flight was perfect, other than my unfortunate decision not to pee one last time before we took off.    By the time we were airborne, I was in agony.  But once I had a good whiz, all was well.  And then as we got off the plane, we were presented with yummy Air Berlin chocolates.  Any airline that rewards me with decent chocolate upon landing gets my vote.

All in all, we had a great time in Hamburg.  I wish we’d managed to get to a museum or something, but just the people watching and food was enough to make me want to go back.  Better yet, the city is quite affordable, much moreso than Munich was (at least in our experience).  I recommend Hamburg.  If we have a chance to get back there, we’ll make a point of seeing and doing more and eating and drinking less…

We drew from the champagne bucket last night and the winner was Rothenburg Ob Der Tauber.  Guess that’s where we’re going next!