Goodbye, Mad Scientist…

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As I have mentioned more than once in my main blog, 2020 has been a hell of a year for a lot of people. Between us, Bill and I have lost three loved ones in less than two months. I lost a cousin and a different cousin’s spouse. Bill lost his father. My cousin and Bill’s dad both died in November. Last night, we found out that we also lost a good friend in a guy we have been calling the “Mad Scientist” since 2008.

I found out about the Mad Scientist’s death by chance last night, as I was looking up his Greek restaurant, Agais, in Entringen, Baden-Württemberg, a place where Bill and I enjoyed many meals and lots of wine. It was where I tried retsina for the first time, and learned to enjoy t’zatziki, a yogurt and cucumber sauce much beloved by anyone who enjoys Greek food. It was also where I learned the Greek word “γιαμας” (pronounced “giamas”), which is roughly equivalent to the English expression, “cheers”.

I became a late convert to Greek cuisine, having tasted it for the first time in Vaihingen (a part of Stuttgart near Patch Barracks) at a little place called Taverna Faros. Taverna Faros had wonderful food, and we ate there a bunch of times during our first six weeks in Germany back in 2007. At the time, we were living in the Vaihinger Hof, a rather crappy but cheap hotel located in Vaihingen, which, over the years, has hosted many people moving to Stuttgart. I’m not sure the Vaihinger Hof is still open these days, since Air BnB has provided alternatives to living in hotels. But we were there for six weeks, and got very familiar with the restaurants in Vaihingen, since there were no kitchen facilities at the Vaihinger Hof.

Taverna Faros was where I tried dorade and gyros for the first time. Unfortunately, the proprietor was rather abruptly forced to shut down because he allegedly didn’t pay his taxes. The place where Taverna Faros once was is now known as The Auld Rogue. It’s a very popular Irish pub, and if you explore this blog, you’ll see that Bill and I visited there many times when we lived near Stuttgart from 2014-2018. Every time I went in there, I remembered that it was once a Greek place, and later became a disco, which we never visited.

Anyway, in the fall of 2007, after six weeks in the rather dirty but lovingly staffed hotel, we finally found a house in a little town called Pfäffingen. It was just a few miles west of the great city, Tübingen. Agais is located in a little village called Entringen, which we frequently drove through on our way to the military installations in the Stuttgart area. It was about 2 kilometers north of Pfäffingen.

Since I had recently discovered a love for Greek food, I told Bill I wanted to try Agais. We kept passing it every time we had to go to Patch or Panzer Barracks, and I was very curious about the food. So one night, we stopped in for dinner. It was probably in 2008, since we moved to our house in November 2007 and it took us awhile to get acquainted with the area. I remember when we walked in, there was no one there. But then a smiling Greek guy with wild, curly dark hair appeared.

Our old friend.

At first, he thought I was Greek. If you were to see me in person, you might be as baffled as I was by that. I’m short, blonde, and very buxom, with blue eyes. Personally, I think I look very Celtic, which stands to reason, since my people were mostly from the British Isles. But the Mad Scientist initially spoke Greek to me. When I reacted with a baffled expression, he realized we are Americans and switched to English. He welcomed us heartily, and we sat down at what would become our usual booth (the only one in his restaurant, actually). He turned on Greek music– from Zorba the Greek. The walls, painted white and bright blue, were covered with personal mementos.

I remember after enjoying our first nice meal at Agais, I told the proprietor that I thought we’d be regulars. He said, “I think you should.” When we got home that night, Bill said the guy reminded him of a “Mad Scientist”. So that’s what we’ve called him ever since. His wife, Renate, is German and cooks the food.

Of course, the Mad Scientist had a name. I think he went by the name John in Germany, but I found out last night his real name was Ioannis. He was born December 27, 1938 and died on November 9, 2020, just one day after we lost Bill’s dad. I don’t know what ended John’s life, but in recent years, I did notice that he was not as vibrant as he once was. I don’t know for certain, but I suspected that he might have had a stroke during the five years we were out of Germany. I say this because when we first met him in 2008, he spoke perfect English. When we saw him again for the first time, back in 2014, he struggled to speak English and, in fact, may have even had some trouble with German, which he’d also previously spoken perfectly.

During our first two years in Germany, we stopped by Agais many times. We also brought visitors there. Those first couple of years, John was quite healthy. He told us that he used to work in Canada as an engineer. He moved there with his first wife, whom I think was Greek. Their marriage broke up, so he married a German woman, who brought him to Germany to live. That marriage broke up, and he married another German woman, the one we know as Renate. They had a son who, during our first tour, was attending the university in Tübingen. Sometimes, we’d see him in the restaurant, helping out. He looked a lot like his dad, complete with the wild, curly black hair.

Although I’ve had Greek food I’ve liked better, Bill and I loved to visit Agais because we could always count on an entertaining evening. John loved to chat about all subjects, and we’d talk about everything from American politics to Greek/Turkish relations. He learned how we liked our food, and we could always count on getting pistachio nuts and candy at the end of the meal, as well as ouzo. John was also famous for giving out eucalyptus drops, which will clear out your sinuses and are great to have around whenever you’re sick with a cold or the flu. I carried them around in my purse for years after we moved the first time.

In 2009, we had to leave Germany a year earlier than we expected. We never got the chance to say goodbye to John and his wife. I always regretted that, since they’d shown us such a good time when we were in Germany the first time. The five years we were back in the States, I thought about them a lot.

Just before we moved, they had opened up a “vacation apartment”. It still operates today. I remember on one of the last visits we had before we moved “home”, we happened to dine there at the same time John and his wife were hosting several obnoxious German couples. I wrote about that incident when it happened and the story can be found on this blog. The short version is, these couples were staying in Entringen and had been dining at Agais all week. They had sort of taken over John’s restaurant, dictating which music he should play, and running him ragged. I noticed they were casting derisive looks at Bill and me.

I understood much less German then than I do now, but I could tell at least one of them was making fun of us. And we also heard them disparaging the Swiss. When they finally left, John asked us if we understood what they were saying. Bill said we hadn’t. Chuckling wickedly, John said, “Those people have been here all week for marriage counseling. They’re here in a last ditch effort not to get divorced!” Apparently, there is or was a marriage counselor in Entringen of some renown, and the annoying jerks at the table near us were there to receive services.

When Barack Obama got elected, I remember John was excited. He said he was glad to see a black man in the White House. Then he added, “But I think he might get shot.” We were shocked at the time, but given the fact that John was an older man who had lived through the Kennedy administration and watched America from afar, I could kind of see where he might have gotten that impression. Fortunately, Mr. Obama survived his time as our president.

In September 2014, Bill and I finally visited our old friend again. We walked into his restaurant, and it was unusually busy. His wife saw us and recognized us immediately, giving us a huge grin and a welcome. It took John a couple of minutes, but then his eyes widened and he smiled and said, “You are back in Germany!” It was at about that time that we realized that he was not the same man he was in 2009. But we made a point of visiting him occasionally when we were living in Jettingen, which was probably a 15-20 minute drive from where he was.

I wish we’d had a chance to see him once more before we left the Stuttgart area about two years ago. I would have liked to have been able to say goodbye. Unfortunately, we never got around to it. The last time we saw him was in September 2018. I noticed that over the years, the portion sizes were smaller and the prices were a bit higher. And he’d stopped handing out pistachios. I don’t think it was necessarily because he was trying to be stingy. I think business had gotten rough for him, especially after he got sick (and he did confirm that he was sick for awhile). But his English did improve, even if it wasn’t as fluent as it once was. And we still loved to visit his restaurant, remember old times, and make new memories.

It looks like his wife is carrying on with the restaurant and apartment, although Germany is now back in lockdown mode until at least next month. On their Web site, it says they’re doing some renovation work. I hope she can keep the place going during these tough times.

Agais is the one place that bridged our two stints near Stuttgart. It’s the one constant of both time periods, a place where we were always warmly welcomed. A lot of the restaurants we used to love to visit during our first stint went defunct long ago, but not Agais. And we could always count on John and Renate to show us a nice time. I will always remember the “Mad Scientist” fondly. He was a very good man.

Big news on a little move… old favorite restaurants for old time’s sake…

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Our very first lunch at Osteria da Gino in Nagold…  and another visit to see “The Mad Scientist”.

It’s been a big week here in Unterjettingen.  The biggest thing that has happened is that my husband was unofficially offered a new position in Wiesbaden.  That means that unless something really crazy happens, we will be packing up and moving about 100 miles north in a couple of months.

I have mixed feelings about the move.  First off, I HATE moving with a fiery passion.  We’ve done it many times over our sixteen years of marriage and, now that Bill is retired, it’s been nice to stay in one place for awhile.  As of this month, we’ve lived in our current house for four years, and the Stuttgart area for a total of six years.  That is the longest we have ever lived in one place.  I like the area where we live.  It’s far from the drama of the city and being close to the military posts, yet close to a lot of great places in the Black Forest.  We’re also near several really cute towns.  Nagold happens to be my favorite of all of them and it’s the closest to Unterjettingen.

On the other hand, I look forward to new experiences, new scenery, and a newer toilet that doesn’t take multiple flushes to empty.  I look forward to a much larger kitchen with a real refrigerator instead of a dorm sized one.  I can’t wait for my husband not to have to take marathon flights to Africa for business trips.  There’s even the attractive prospect of my getting to join him on some of his journeys.

Most of all, I am grateful that Bill is going to remain employed in a country I’ve come to love.  I have a feeling we will enjoy the Wiesbaden area as much as we’ve loved having lived in Stuttgart for two stints.  I also think there’s a good possibility that we’ll come back to Stuttgart, mainly because of what Bill does.  It could be as soon as two years from now.  On the other hand, there’s no telling what might happen in two years.

Anyway… since we know we’re probably going to be out of here by December, we decided to visit a couple of our favorite restaurants.  Hopefully, we haven’t visited them for the last time, but I did want to make sure we got at least one more visit in with each.  Both Agais in Entringen and Osteria da Gino in Nagold are special haunts for us, mainly because we’ve always managed to have a great time there.  The proprietors of both restaurants are excellent hosts and have given us a lot of great memories.  I thought today, I’d write up our latest experiences at both places, even though I’ve written about them several times already.  Here goes…

Agais on a Friday night

Agais in Entringen has the distinction of being the one restaurant still in business where Bill and I used to dine frequently during our first tour.  From 2007-09, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is in Ammerbuch.  Two kilometers from our old town is a little hamlet called Entringen.  We used to pass through Entringen to get to and from A81.  On the main drag is a Greek restaurant called Agais.

When we lived in Germany the first time, we used to eat at Agais all the time.  The owner is a very friendly Greek man who worked in Canada for many years as an engineer.  When we were here the first time, he spoke perfect English.  I think while we were gone, he must have had a stroke, because his ability to speak English diminished significantly.  Nevertheless, when we visited him again in 2014 after having been gone for five years, he still remembered us.  His English has come back somewhat over the past few years.

Last night, we decided to pay him a visit, mainly because neither of us felt like cooking.  Agais is now probably about a twenty minute drive from where we live, but the weather was nice…

I got a kick out of this sign reminding people to use condoms.  Such a quaint old building for such an important PSA…  I see there are several versions of this, including one for gay men.

 

When we walked into the familiar eatery, the couple who own it were waiting for customers to arrive.  I think we were their first.  The wife, who is German, does the cooking and her husband, whom we’ve nicknamed “The Mad Scientist”, waits tables.  They lit up when we walked in and welcomed us.  Bill ordered our usual Nemea dry Greek red, which has the essence of sour cherries, and we had our usual sparkling water.

 

We also ordered the flatbread, which comes piping hot and drizzled with olive oil and garlic salt.  I love this, even if it’s very simple.

We both had the gyros platter, which comes with either fries or oven baked potatoes.  Bill had the baked potatoes and I had pommes.  I also had a green salad instead of the kraut salad that usually comes with this dish.

I cracked a filthy joke to make Bill smile… and our old friend smiled, too.  

 

While we were eating, a couple came in with their son and the family dog.  They asked the proprietor if it was okay to bring the dog in.  I remember from our first tour that the proprietor isn’t a big dog fan, but I think he needed the business.  So he granted permission and they brought in their very sweet border collie who behaved like a perfect lady.  After a lovely dinner, which cost 51 euros, and a couple of glasses of wine for me, we enjoyed a house shot of ouzo and were on our way.  I hope we can stop in again before we move.  Last time we were here, we didn’t get to say goodbye when the time came.

Lunch at Osteria da Gino for the first (and possibly the last) time…

 

This morning, we were rewarded with wonderful late summer weather.  Although Nagold is having a Street Food Fiesta right now, we decided to have lunch at Osteria da Gino.  We have eaten there several times, but until today, we have always gone for dinner.  Osteria da Gino is kind of a special place for us.  Gino is kind of an Italian version of The Mad Scientist, with more upscale food.  Also, Gino doesn’t speak English and neither does his adorable wife, who waits tables.  The wife helped us today when we showed up at around noon, sans reservations for once.  We had a fantastic meal.

Goofy Bill as we wait for white wine.  We just told them dry white and that’s what they brought us…  good stuff.

Antipasti!  Grilled vegetables, orange and fennel salad, prosciutto with cheese, bread, and octopus…  You’d think this would be enough…

But we also decided on the pasta dish, too.  I had spaghetti with clams.  These were very fresh and lightly seasoned with cilantro, red pepper, and onions.  As the waitress put it down, she said, “Hier, keine Käse!”  (No cheese here!)  I guess it’s not kosher to use Parmesan cheese on your clams!  I saw another couple enjoying mussels.  Gino does have a menu, but we have never once used it.  We just take what they recommend.  

Bill had fettuccini with Steinpilze and a fresh tomato sauce.  I hate mushrooms, so I didn’t try his, but he said the pasta tasted homemade.

When we come for dinner, we often have a main course, which is usually either fish or meat.  Since the pasta and antipasti filled us up, we decided to take a brief pause and then have dessert.

Which today, was delicious tiramisu and cups of espresso…

 

I’d say we spent about two hours enjoying the food and each other’s company, as well as the other diners who love Gino’s brand of hospitality.  This is one place where your four legged friends are also welcome.  A well behaved Golden Retriever was lying under a nearby table with a bowl of water.  I didn’t see Gino today, but I know he loves dogs.  He also likes children, although I wouldn’t necessarily call his restaurant “kid friendly”, per se.  Kids are definitely welcome there, but in the cold months, everybody eats in the tiny dining room and sometimes you have to share a table.  If you have young ones, it might be best to go when the weather is good so you can have more room outside.  Total cost for today’s meal was about 95 euros, which isn’t cheap, but I’ve never once been disappointed at Osteria da Gino.  I will truly miss it when we go.  A bonus is that you can buy a bottle of wine to take home with you if you want to.

After lunch, we took a walk around Nagold, which is a really lovely little town.  It’s been such a pleasure living so close to it for the past four years.  I will miss it.

 

Osteria da Gino is not open on Sundays, so if this review has tempted you, make plans to visit on a different day.  If you’re coming at dinner time, you may want to make reservations.

Tomorrow, Nagold’s  Street Food Fiesta continues, which we will probably attend.  There will also be a Grill Off, where you can enjoy steaks by self proclaimed grillmeisters.  And… if you have a dog who loves to swim, you may wish to bring them to Nagold for the last day the pool will be open.  They are going to let dogs swim tomorrow.  There’s also the river, where dogs are always allowed to swim.

I don’t look forward to the painful process of moving, but I do think my blog will get more love, since I will be exploring a brand new area (to me) right in the middle of wine country!  If I have to move, it’s not a bad thing to move from the Black Forest to the Rhein River!  Last time we moved from Germany, it was to Atlanta, which started off a string of moves to three states before Bill retired.  At least this time, we can drive to where we’re going and we can always come back to visit our old stomping grounds down here…

And again, I think we could be be back at some point.  We’ll see…

A long overdue visit to Agais…

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Bill and I decided to eat out last night.  Since our usual go to Greek place, Taverne bei Dimi, came under new management/ownership, we haven’t been eating as much Greek food.  We decided to head down to Entringen to see the man we call “The Mad Scientist” (naturally, not his real name).  We used to live two kilometers from his restaurant when we lived in Germany the last time.  We were frequent visitors then, but we don’t get down there so much nowadays.

It had been awhile since we were last at Agais.  I like to get down there every once in awhile because I know the Mad Scientist and his wife enjoy our visits, both for the company and the money we spend.  The wife was the first to see us and welcomed us warmly.  Then, when we opened the door to the restaurant, her husband also lit up.  I’ve been kind of worried about him since we moved back to Germany because I know he had some health problems during our five years away.

When we lived in Germany the first time, our old friend spoke English like and native.  He told us he had lived in Canada for years and worked as an engineer.  Nowadays, his English is not what it was.  We have to speak more German, which is not really a bad thing, although we’re not so good at it.

We sat outside on the terrace. The weather was perfect!

We ordered some delicious flatbread, which was doused in olive oil and garlic and heated.  It was so good!

Bill had lamb with oven baked potatoes.

I had my usual gyrosplatter.  We also had sparkling water and our usual red wine, Athos.

 

I noticed that the portion size was a bit smaller.  Also, the salads used to come out separately with a basket of bread.  This time, the salad was smaller and on the platter with the gyros and there was no bread.  I didn’t mind, actually.  I usually end up wasting the bread and the salad, anyway.  That salad was just enough, although I would have liked another pepper.

We had a really pleasant meal at Agais last night.  We don’t really go for the food, but to see our old friend from our first Germany tour.  I’m glad to see that he seemed to be feeling alright and was in good spirits last night.  We’ll have to get back to see him again soon.

A lovely lunch in the garden…

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I’ve been a bit cooped up for the past few weeks, stewing over my dog, Zane.  The truth is, Zane is not really very sick, but I happen to be coping with traumatic memories of a few years ago when his former beagle brother, MacGregor, was dealing with an inoperable spinal tumor.  We lost him the week before Christmas 2012.  For that reason, Zane’s bout with a mast cell tumor and what I think may be a resurgence of a tickborne illness has me a bit wrecked and I’ve been staying in more than usual.

Bill insisted that we go out today, though, because I have been spending way too much time hidden away in my little German house.  So we decided to go to Tuebingen…

Little did we know that Tuebingen would be a freakin’ madhouse today.  There was no parking to be found!  Moreover, there were annoying construction projects that conspired to  block us from parking at our usual go to parking area.  After hearing Bill swear more than once over the situation, I suggested that we go to Im Gärtle, a lovely little restaurant/art museum in Ammerbuch-Entringen.  We last visited there on Valentine’s Day evening this year.

I mainly decided to go to this restaurant because they are on OpenTable.de and it’s super easy to make a reservation online.  I also remembered how much we enjoyed our dinner there last February, even if it did lead to my being blocked by someone on Stuttgart Friends 2.0.

We arrived at the restaurant about ten minutes ahead of our reservation.  Our table was ready for us, complete with a sign and two fuzzy blankets to protect against the non-existent draft.

For those interested in the art museum…

And the outdoor menu…

The table was all ready for us.

 

We walked in, wished the waitress a good day and told her of our reservation.  She showed us to the table.  She was very patient with our German skills as we decided what we’d be having for lunch.  The restaurant offers a weekly special menu, a regular menu, and what appeared to be some kind of brunch.  They also had lots of salads.  Im Gärtle also runs without a pause, so you can go there and enjoy a late afternoon repast without fear of evil stares from the wait staff.  There’s plenty of free parking and, at least today, no obnoxious crowds!

Dorky obligatory pictures of my husband, Bill.

 

Bill went with the set menu for the week, which offered three courses with two choices for each course except dessert.  I went with the main menu.  We each had three courses.

I started with a delicious pumpkin soup garnished with toasted pumpkin seeds and cream.

Bill had a delicious roasted red pepper soup.  If I’m honest, I liked his soup better than mine…  but both were velvety smooth and delicious.  I love a good soup this time of year.

We moved on to second courses.  I had salmon with an herb and Parmesan crust.  It was served with a potato salad with cucumbers that were just slightly pickled.  

Bill had the sea bass, served with gray risotto and vegetables.  Both dishes were delicious and came with sauces on the side.

This was our second round of wine.  Instead of ordering a bottle, this time Bill got glasses of white from local sources.  Both were very satisfactory dry whites, although I liked my Gruener Veltliner more than I liked Bill’s white.

But obviously Bill was enjoying it…

 

I was bound and determined to save room for dessert.  I’m so glad I did…

Bill’s fixed menu choice came with apple strudel with vanilla ice cream.  I love this particular interpretation, which is basically just lightly fried apples with sugar and cinnamon…  It was soooo good!

 

I had a very lovely panna cotta with orange marmalade and honey, along with delightful crispy balls on top.  😀  I liked Bill’s dessert better for this time of year, but the panna cotta was very good!  The honey was a very nice touch.

 

For our two hour lunch, we spent 71 euros before tip.  The service was friendly and gracious, even though I could see the lady taking care of us was taking care of everybody.  It was very relaxing and pleasant and I was happy to get out of the house for a nice meal out.  Someday, we need to actually look at the art museum, too.

We came home to find the house and dogs intact, as well as a funny note from the DHL person, who obviously knows we aren’t German…

 

I liked the crude map!  Now our dogs have plenty of food for the next couple of months.

 

If you happen to be down in the Ammerbuch-Entrigen area, I would highly recommend a visit to Im Gärtle.  It made for a nice stop today after disappointment in crowded Tuebingen.  I still can’t believe that we used to live just a few miles from this restaurant the first time we lived in Germany and we never found it.  It’s a real gem!  And for you antique hunters out there, I can tell you that there’s a great antique shop very close to this restaurant, which makes the excursion even more worthwhile.

By the way… this was our second visit and the second time we saw the proprietor of the place… an elderly gentleman who wished us a Gruess Gott (I know it’s misspelled… I need a German keyboard).

Flooding!

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Yesterday, I made an ill advised comment about how I hoped it would rain a lot.  I made the comment without thinking.  I wasn’t in town when Baden-Württemberg got drenched by massive rains and my allergies have been driving me crazy.  On Tuesday, I went as far as taking a Benadryl, which led to my having to take a two hour nap.  I figured a good rain would wash the allergens out of the air and help me get rid of my stuffed up nose, itchy eyes, and gunky throat.

My German friend, Susanne, reminded me that there’s been a lot of flooding in these parts recently.  This morning, she even shared a news article about the area where Bill and I used to live.  We were even saying last night how we now live at a high elevation as opposed to in a valley, like we did when we lived in Pfäffingen, which is in Ammerbuch.  Last weekend, we went to see our old friend The Mad Scientist in Entringen.  I see in Susanne’s link that Entringen was flooded last night; there’s a picture that shows how bad it was/is.

This morning, as I was walking my dogs along our regular route, I heard the rushing of water.  Sometimes, water flows through drainage ditches.  I thought they were for irrigating the fields near our house, but I think they may also be for dealing with flooding.  I didn’t think we had much up here, but as you can see by these photos, we did get some…

It looks like it goes into the forest…

 

I didn’t take the dogs in the woods today, but it looks like if we’d gone back there, we would have run into some flooding.  I can’t even imagine what Pfäffingen must look like today.  On a related note, I kind of like it when the ditch has water in it.  It makes me feel like I’m at my Granny’s house in Virginia, which has two creeks running through the property.  Sadly, the ditches up here are usually dry.

Valentine’s dinner at Im Gärtle in Entringen…

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Ever since we moved back to the Stuttgart area in 2014 after a five year absence, I have often remarked to Bill that it feels like we never left.  And yet, this time around, we are doing a lot more things locally than we did the first time we lived here.  During our first tour, we lived in a little town called Pfäffingen, which is about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg and maybe 7 from Tübingen.  Because we were living between two decent sized towns, we spent a lot of our time in those two towns.

This time, we live in Jettingen, which is also about 10 kilometers from Herrenberg in a different direction.  We spend time in different places now, but still like to go to our old stomping grounds.  Entringen is a little hamlet in Ammerbuch, maybe two or three kilometers from Pfäffingen.  We had to drive through it any time we went to one of the four American military installations near Stuttgart. Now, we go to Entringen by choice when we want to see our old friend we nicknamed “The Mad Scientist” or are headed to Tübingen.  We don’t even have to go that way if we don’t want to.  We can access that area via a different route that doesn’t take us through Herrenberg.

Somehow, the first time we lived here, I never heard of Im Gärtle.  It’s in Entringen, kind of on the outskirts in an area of the town we had never before explored.  While Bill was in Africa last week, I was tasked with finding us a nice place for dinner on Valentine’s Day.  When I noticed Im Gärtle on OpenTable, I was intrigued.  At first, I thought it was in Tübingen.  When I saw that it was actually in Entringen, I was very curious.  Then I saw that it got really good reviews on OpenTable and Trip Advisor.  I also noticed that all the reviews were in German.

I am a firm believer that locals are the best judges of local cuisine.  Most everyone had good things to say about Im Gärtle.  Both the food and the ambiance got good marks.  So I decided to make the reservation for 7:00 tonight.  We arrived right on time.

A photo of the sign.  It was dark out… 

 

To get to the restaurant, you drive down B28 to the little town of Entringen, then turn onto a narrow residential street.  Hang a couple of more turns on equally narrow residential streets and head up a hillside.  The restaurant is at the top and offers a nice view… or, at least I think it would be very nice during the daytime.  I can see by the photos taken during the spring and summer that those are the best times to visit.  Then you can sit in the garden.  Parking for the restaurant is free and fairly plentiful.

The lady who greeted us didn’t speak any English at all.  That was okay.  One of the waiters did, though he wasn’t obvious about it.  Bill and I probably got more practice speaking German tonight than we have in a long time.  The dining room was full and we were, of course, the only Americans there.

Obligatory shot of Bill.  Right after I shot this, he ordered a Bordeaux and some sparkling water.

They brought out some delightful fresh bread, which was served with excellent butter.  There were two slices each. 

Next came an amuse.  Sweet slivers of peppers, zucchini, and eggplant drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar…  They were a nice way to start the meal.  

We each got green salads.  My dish did not come with a salad, so this is a photo of an a la carte salad. Bill’s dish came with salad and his was smaller than mine was, but just as good.  Underneath the towering greens and endive was a small pile of potato salad and a mound of carrots.  The salads were topped with peanuts, cashews, and sunflower seeds.  This salad was too much for me to eat in one sitting, but it was delicious.  The dressing was like a smokey mustard vinaigrette.  I stopped after eating maybe half.  I knew the rest of dinner would be huge.

I had a porkloin with a side of colorful vegetables and spatzle.  I’m pretty sure the gravy was made with mushrooms (it had an earthy flavor), but I was able to avoid it easily enough.  The top of my pork is a garlic crust.

Family sized spatzle.  We took most of this home with us.

Bill had vension with spatzle, sauteed mushrooms, a roasted pear with cranberry sauce, and potato croquettes.  There was also a side of cream and venison meant to drench over the meal.  Most of that venison and cream came home with us.  Bill loved this dish… but he loves game anyway. 

For dessert, I had hot love…  that is, vanilla ice cream with hot raspberries, whipped cream, and a white chocolate/chocolate garnish.  The raspberries weren’t actually that hot, but that was okay.  They tasted very fresh.  This restaurant prides itself on farm to table dining and that was evident with every dish, including dessert.

Bill had a Grand Marnier parfait.  It came with plums on the side.  The parfait was a little melted.  Bill enjoyed it anyway.

And we had espresso… and that came with cookies and sweets.

Service was leisurely, friendly, and very professional.  I could tell there were a lot of return visitors.  One couple had brought their well behaved dog with them, while another had a little boy who was honored with the task of bringing out the check.  This is definitely a family run establishment; everyone working there seemed invested in its success.  The two wait staff members were very nice and welcoming and the food was excellent.  And, at 119 euros, it didn’t break the bank.  We were also allowed to pay with a credit card.

Another shot of the sign.

Not such a good shot of the beautiful wrought iron gate and steps leading to the restaurant.  Be advised if it’s icy, you have mobility problems, or are walking in heels for the first time in awhile, like I was.  

Im Gärtle is a very charming restaurant.  The interior is a little 60s, with sort of a Brady Bunch vibe.  The music on the sound system was also straight from the 60s and 70s.  We heard “The Entertainer” and “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich on the sound system, at least until most everyone had left.  Then they turned off the music in the dining room and played some alternative tunes in the kitchen.  Bill got a kick out of that.

On the walls, there are many works of art.  Indeed, the restaurant even has an art museum, which is open for limited hours on the weekends.  Edited to add, my German friend Susanne says that 85 year old Manfred Lutz founded the restaurant over fifty years ago.  The artwork in the restaurant and museum was all done by him.  His grandsons are now in charge of the restaurant.  I think I saw Manfred Lutz at the restaurant last night.

I recommend making reservations.  It’s very easy to do that using Open Table.

Tonight was our first visit to this restaurant, but I doubt it’ll be our last.  We really had a good time and I want to see what it looks like when the weather is nice and the view is easier to see.  Highly recommended!

Big Valentine’s Day plans…

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Last year for President’s Day weekend, we went to Regensburg.  It was bitter cold.  On Valentine’s Day, all the restaurants were packed.  We went to a crappy Thai takeout place.   The food ended up having mushrooms in it. And then, Bill went back to our hotel room and threw up his dinner.  We had a good time in Regensburg, but Valentine’s Day 2015 pretty much sucked.

This year, we’re staying local.  Bill had to go out of town and I have been sick all week anyway.  I decided we’d have a decent Valentine’s Day dinner and booked us at a restaurant in Entringen that doesn’t belong to The Mad Scientist.

We have not been to Im Gärtle before, but it’s located very close to where we used to live when we were here the first time.  Since Bill has been traveling all week, I decided I wanted to keep Valentine’s Day somewhat low key.

It looks like a nice place.  Doesn’t have a lot of reviews on TripAdvisor and they are all in German, but what I’ve read indicates that the restaurant is pleasant enough.  And it looks like it’s in a nice area, although it will be dark when we get there.  I look forward to posting a new review and getting out of the house.

Slow night in Entringen…

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Last night, Bill and I decided to go to Entringen and see our old friend The Mad Scientist at Agais.  The last time we saw him and his wife, it was Halloween night.  I had been meaning to get down there sooner than the New Year, but life got in the way.  When Bill asked me what I wanted to do for dinner, I said I wanted to see our old friend.  Bill cleared some of the snow that hadn’t melted from my car and we headed down to Ammerbuch-Entringen, which is very close to where we lived the first time we were in Germany.

We noticed the parking lot where Bill usually parks was full of construction materials.  Looks like they’re putting up a new building of some sort.  It didn’t matter, though, since there was still plenty of street parking last night.

When we went into the restaurant, The Mad Scientist and his wife were in the side dining room, watching TV.  They greeted us as we took our favorite table.  There was no one else in the restaurant. Bill decided to have lamb and I had swordfish, two of the pricier dishes on the menu.  I think our old friend was happy about that.

We enjoyed a leisurely dinner.

A photo of Bill in his favorite winter shirt…  I may need to get him another one if this cold weather keeps up.

Fresh salads.  Our old friend remembered that Bill is not a fan of onions and I am not a raw tomato fan.  

Swordfish steak with oven baked potatoes and t’zatziki.  It was pretty good, though the portion was a little small.

Bill really enjoyed his lamb.  I am not a fan of lamb.

 

It felt good to see The Mad Scientist and his wife again.  Their college aged son also visited; we saw him in the kitchen.  Bill later told me that he confided to him that business had been very slow.  He blamed it on the weather.  At one point, Bill said he almost looked teary eyed.  I felt badly for him, though he was as charming as usual.  I just remember that only a few years ago, he was healthier and spoke English so well.  He talked about politics and sports.  Now he speaks German to us, which is not such a bad thing.  At least I get to practice.  I don’t know when we’ll get down there again, but I’m going to make a point of visiting whenever we get the chance.   One of these days, I’ll have to ask him what his name is.  He knows our names.

Bill is going away this week so I will probably be pretty bored.  Hopefully, we’ll get out tonight and try a new place before he takes off for Africa.

 

 

A lovely al fresco meal at Agais…

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We had gorgeous weather yesterday.  I spent most of the day kind of wishing Bill was at home so we could enjoy it together.  The temperature was perfectly comfortable.  The sun was shining.  The sky was a lovely shade of blue.

I had to take Arran to the vet again because I found another mass.  It may be a lipoma of some sort, but I don’t wish to take any chances.  I had the vet aspirate some cells just to see if that can tell us anything before I subject him to another surgery.

It had been awhile since our last visit to see “The Mad Scientist” at Agais in Entringen.  Since the weather was so pretty, we decided to drive down to see him.  The dogs were a little pouty before we left and Zane turned his nose up at a consolation cookie.

I had been meaning to get a shot of this before…  It’s not the prettiest view of the church, but I did get a picture of an airplane too.  Entringen and the surrounding area is so beautiful.  I miss living down that way.

 

The Mad Scientist greeted Bill and me warmly and asked if we wanted to go sit out on the terrace.  Normally, I like to eat indoors because of bugs and such, but it was so pleasant outside that I was game.  We took our usual spot in Agais’s biergarten, though I think 2009 might have been the last time we actually ate out there.  There was one other family there, enjoying something that smelled delicious.

I was preoccupied and probably talking too loudly about a Facebook discussion I’d had just before we went to the restaurant.  The discussion was about Cecil the Lion and how I think people shouldn’t be exacting mob justice on Dr. Walter Palmer, the guy who killed the famous feline.  Note, that doesn’t mean I don’t think Dr. Palmer is an asshole of the first order.  It just means that I don’t condone harassment.  I think people should let the law deal with him.  Anyway, several of my friends disagreed, and we had a bit of a chat about that and I was still discussing it when we sat down.

Had to snap a shot of Bill, who claims he doesn’t take good photos.

 

I thought about having salmon last night, but ended up with my usual gyros platter.  It comes with a salad.  The Mad Scientist was in a good mood and seemed to be more like he was six years ago.  He asked us if there were things we wanted left off.  Bill asked for the onions to be omitted.  I probably should have, too.  When it comes to onions, a little goes a long way.

But I still managed to enjoy most of this…

 

Bill ordered souvlaki and let The Mad Scientist talk him into a small salad.  I noticed that he was speaking a lot more German to us than he used to.  When we were here the first time, our favorite Greek restauranteur very happily conversed in English, which he spoke perfectly due to having spent years living in Canada.  I think maybe it’s easier for him to speak German now, which is fine… I need the practice.

Nice presentation.

My gyros were good, too.

While I have had better Greek food in other restaurants, it’s always a pleasure to visit our old friend.  I asked him if he was going to go to Greece in August, since he used to go every year and close up his restaurant for two or three weeks.  He said that this year, they don’t have the money to go.  I said we’d have to come back down to Entringen and visit this month.  He agreed and added, “We’ll be open!”  I’m amazed by how much Greek food we eat in Germany.  We almost never eat it when we’re in the States.

Last time we lived here, our friend used to close out a meal with pistachio nuts.  I noticed he quit offering them.  Last night, he brought out peanuts for the first time to go with our second round of wine.  And of course, we had ouzo, too.

It looks like today will be a bit cloudy, which is a bummer.  I would have loved another day like yesterday.

Another trip to Agais to see "The Mad Scientist"…

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Last night, Bill asked me what I wanted for dinner.  I said I wanted to “go see The Mad Scientist”, which is code for “I want to go out for Greek food at Agais in Entringen”.  When we lived in Germany last time, we used to dine at this restaurant all the time.  Now that we’re here again, we can come back.  It’s not as close as it used to be, but it’s close enough.  Entringen is on B28, on the way to Tuebingen.

As for “The Mad Scientist”, that’s not really his name or anything.  That’s just a nickname Bill and I gave him.

 

We started with our usual Nemea.  I love this wine.  It’s very full and dry and has the essence of ripe cherries.

I usually have the gyros, but last night I decided to have grilled salmon.  Agais has it farm raised salmon or organic.  I had the organic, which was garnished with t’zaziki and vegetables.  Bill had souvlaki.  Both dishes came with salad and bread, which was warm from the oven.

The salmon was delicious!  I was glad I ordered it, even though the gyros are also a hit.  It was a bit pricier than my usual, but a nice change of pace.

 

We don’t usually have dessert, but I didn’t want to go home.  So I had a tartufo and Bill had baklava.  I don’t usually like baklava that much, but I liked the baklava at Agais last night.  It was light and not too sticky or sweet.

I washed down my tartufo with retsina… and a little ouzo.  No wonder my head is swimming this morning.

It was really nice to see the couple that run Agais again.  There was one other family eating there with us.  We’d seen them before.  The owner said they had been coming to his restaurant for years.  I liked that he and his wife sat down and talked with them for awhile.  You don’t see that so often in American restaurants.  The Mad Scientist’s wife asked if we brought our dogs to live with us in Germany.  I was impressed that she remembered!  We did bring dogs, though not the ones we had with us last time we lived here.

The Mad Scientist said that in the five years we were out of Germany, he had more Americans visiting his restaurant, but lately things have been slowing down a bit.  I’m just glad we got to come back again and will keep coming back as long as we’re around and the restaurant is running.