Another delightful Sunday lunch at Little Italy in Wiesbaden…

Advertisements

Bill and I decided not to go anywhere yesterday, since we had some much needed rain. Today, we decided on a low key lunch at Little Italy in Wiesbaden. We’ve been there several times, having discovered it last fall when we were househunting. We’ve never been disappointed any time we’ve visited. The service is always professional and friendly and the food is outstanding. Here are some photos from today’s repast.

Bill looks at what’s being offered…

They always bring the sandwich board with a list of the day’s specials. Today was no different. Our very pleasant waiter thought we were Germans at first, then apologized when he heard us speaking English. We told him we were flattered that he mistook us for locals. It means we’ve done alright blending in. I think it helps not to be really loud, which I’ve noticed Americans tend to be in Europe.

The tree outside was all decorated. I’m not sure what for… but it was pretty, and lots of people stopped by to admire it.

We decided to have specials today, as opposed to the pizza and pasta offered every day. Actually, I don’t think we’ve ever tried the usual stuff in the menu. The specials are always enticing and beautifully presented. We ordered San Pellegrino and a nice white wine from Sicily, and the waiter brought us fresh wheat bread and olive oil with tomato paste and balsamic vinegar.

I went outside my comfort zone and ordered burrata with sliced cherry tomatoes, basil oil, onions, and balsamic vinegar. I usually don’t eat raw tomatoes, but these were so good… red, ripe, and sweet as candy. Bill is also one to shun raw tomatoes, but he eagerly helped me with this dish.
Bill had a mango and avocado tartar, served on a bed on beets and ginger. I liked Bill’s appetizer as much as I did mine. These were both pretty substantial. We probably should have split one, but then I wouldn’t have these beautiful, colorful photos for my blog.
For the main course, I settled on grilled salmon with lemon sauce. The green side dish was very interesting. It was peas and spinach pureed together until it had the consistency of mashed potatoes. I really liked it and would love to have this at home as an alternative to the usual sides. It was a bit rich, though, so I wasn’t able to come close to finishing it.
The waiter recommended the grilled octopus (pulpo) with shrimp and capellini with olive oil, garlic, and vegetables. Bill really enjoyed it. I tried it and noticed the octopus and shrimps were perfect… not overdone and rubbery.
The wine… this went very well with our choices and the waiter was good about keeping our glasses filled.

Finally, after a glorious long lunch, we were ready for dessert. We weren’t offered any specials today, so we went with some favorites…

I went with zabaione with vanilla ice cream. It’s basically warm egg whites with marsala and white wine. Add the ice cream and it goes from being a soupy creation to the ultimate comfort food… rich, thick, and creamy, like custard. It was so delicious!
Bill had the tiramisu. It’s probably the best in Wiesbaden. On our first visit last fall, we reversed our dessert choices. I had tiramisu and Bill had the zabaione.

All told, we spent about 2.5 hours and 125 euros before the tip. Once again, it was a wonderful lunch… and we won’t need to touch dinner tonight, since we are quite full from this lunch. I think Little Italy is becoming like O’steria da Gino’s in Nagold did down near Stuttgart. It’s kind of our go to place, although it’s not as necessary to make reservations there as it is at Gino’s.

What a beautiful way to end the weekend! I should mention that Little Italy has air conditioning, too, which makes sitting inside a pleasure, even when it’s hot outside. Fortunately, the temperature broke yesterday, so it wasn’t so bad. We sat inside anyway and people watched as we talked about the events of the month. Hard to believe July is almost over and we survived unscathed. Knocking on wood, cuz’ there are still three days left.

We finally visited Cem Klein’s Mediterranean Grill in Sonnenberg…

Advertisements

Last October, when we were searching for a new home in Wiesbaden, we visited the area twice and brought our dogs both times.  During our first visit, we stayed at the Town Hotel in downtown Wiesbaden.  It was very pet friendly, convenient, and close to everything, but staying in a tiny hotel room isn’t so good when you have dogs with you.  The second time we visited, we stayed at GL Suites, which is a group of apartments that are pet friendly in a neighborhood called Rambach.

Although GL Suites gets a lot of negative reviews on TripAdvisor for being outside of the city, we enjoyed our stay there.  We really liked the neighborhood, and it was convenient to have self-catering accommodations.  One other reason we liked GL Suites is that it’s close to several good restaurants.  We managed to try the nearby Italian place, Castello Romano, which was very good.

We also wanted to try Cem Klein’s Mediterranean Grill, but the night we stopped by, they were fully booked.  However, they were very friendly and welcoming and offered to make us a reservation.  Since we hadn’t yet moved to Wiesbaden, we couldn’t make a reservation at that point.  But we did vow to try it eventually.

I had wanted to visit Cem Klein’s last weekend, but they were fully booked with parties.  Bill made us a reservation for last night at 6:30.  We had a fantastic time and it was a great ending to a fun day.  I really needed to have some fun, too.  It’s been a stressful few months.

Here are some photos from last night’s delightful meal.

The approach…  There is street parking near the restaurant, which has indoor and outdoor seating.  The outdoor area has a bar set up that appears to be just for pouring beers and sparkling wines.

We were invited to sit wherever we wanted.  Our waiter was handsome, charming, and spoke perfect English.

We had a round of aperitifs.  I had sparkling wine…

Bill had a Campari with soda.  The soda was served in a carafe on the side, just as he likes it.

The appetizers and main dishes at Cem Klein come in small or large sizes.  I like this concept, since I don’t like to waste food, but I like to have multiple courses.  I can’t eat the way I could when I was a teenager, even if I look like I can.  I appreciated having the choice to get small or large portions.  All of our portions were small, and they were plenty without being too skimpy.  The menu also changes frequently, so there’s plenty of reason to go back again.  They had a small range of dishes, but there was still something for everyone.

Fresh bread

Amuse from the chef… This was a zucchini cappuccino.  Basically, it was a soup made with zucchini and other fresh vegetables and served like a cappuccino.  It was delicious and rather generous.

Outdoor bar area.  I was enjoying the music and kept “Shazaming” to find out who was doing what.  I suspect I’ll be downloading some more tunes today.

A small smoked salmon with mashed potatoes, lime essence, basil, and rosemary sprigs.  The potatoes tasted like they had a touch of sharp cheese in them.  The salmon was very fresh.

Bill had a small goat cheese salad with walnuts, tomatoes, and fresh greens.  

Bill originally ordered a different wine for dinner, but our waiter suggested El Inquilino, a Rioja.  It tasted of pomegranates and had a lovely perfume aroma.  At 29 euros, it wasn’t excessively expensive, either.

I ordered a small entrecote, but I think they may have brought a large.  The small was supposed to be about 125 grams and this appears larger than that.  The beef was from Argentina and was cooked to medium.  It came with Bearnaise sauce, perfectly roasted and salted potatoes, and a small salad.

Bill had a pork stew with raisins, onions, potatoes, and a dash of creme fraiche on top.  It seemed to be Spanish style, and he loved it.  I think he especially liked the raisins, which added a touch of sweetness to contrast with the salt of the olives.

For dessert, Bill had panna cotta with a berry sauce.

I had a large “colonel”… lime sorbet with vodka.

We had a round of double espressos and a house glass of grappa while Bill settled the bill, which came to about 110 euros before the tip.  We rewarded our host well because he truly did a good job.  He was beaming as we left.  So were we!

In my Mini on the way back home… we need to explore Sonnenberg more.  It’s a really nice area.

I even got to try on a new dress and put on makeup!

Until next time!

Michelin starred birthday dinner at Ente in Wiesbaden!

Advertisements

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!


Fancy eating after beer brewing…

Advertisements

A few days ago, my ever considerate husband, Bill, asked me if I minded if he brewed beer Sunday.  I shrugged and said it was fine.  Beer brewing is one of Bill’s hobbies.  He’s gotten really good at it.  I’m the one who started him on the path of great brewing when, years ago, I bought him a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas.  Mr. Beer is a very primitive kit for very beginner beer brewers, but it does teach the basics of how the process is supposed to go.

When we moved to Georgia in 2009, we happened to live in a town that had a great store for beer brewers called Just Brew It!.  The guy who ran that store was very knowledgable, and gave Bill even more instruction.  We also toured Jailhouse Brewing Company in Hampton, Georgia, and got to know the founder of that company, who also learned the basics of the trade at Just Brew It!.  We loved Jailhouse beers, but then we had to move to North Carolina in 2011.  I see Jailhouse has really taken off in the ten years of its existence and I’m still following their success on Facebook.  In the years before we moved back to Germany, we made a point of picking up some of their beers whenever we were in Georgia or trading them with people who lived there.  I do miss the beer exchanges we used to be able to do when we were in the States.

Bill had asked me if I “minded” if he brewed because we usually try to do fun things together on Sundays.  But yesterday, it was a bit chilly and wet, and I knew he was itching to start a new project.  Besides, it’s important to both of us that he has this hobby, since having interests outside of providing for his family was something that his ex wife denied him.  And… I won’t lie.  I do enjoy drinking his brews.

Anyway… after Bill was finished brewing in the afternoon, he asked me what I wanted to do for dinner.  We had leftovers that could be heated up, or we could have soup.  Finally, I suggested using OpenTable to find us dinner.  It turned out Villa Im Tal, a beautiful restaurant we had tried for the first time in February, had plenty of open slots last night.  Remembering how good our February Sunday lunch had been, I booked us a table for 6:00pm.

Once again, a lovely sight to behold!  This restaurant is on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, in a forested area.  It’s also near a riding stable, which always gives me pangs of nostalgia.  

 

We arrived about ten minutes early for dinner.  A smiling young man named Dennis greeted us warmly in German.  He offered to take my jacket, which was actually part of my outfit; then he quickly discerned that we’re English speakers and spoke to us in fluent English as he led us to a very nice two top near the restaurants soaring windows.  He asked us where we are from.  Naturally, I said “America”, which made him laugh.  He wanted to know where in America.  I’m from Virginia and Bill is from Texas (sort of– it’s where he’s spent the most time).  Dennis offered us aperitifs.  I had the “house” drink, which is basically made with sparkling wine and juice… he didn’t really tell me.  Bill had alcohol free Sekt, which looked like pale ginger ale and tasted a little like Sprite.

I really enjoyed the house aperitif.  Bill went with an alcohol free Sekt because he wanted wine with dinner and would be driving.

Then Dennis poured water on the towels, which magically expanded so we could “wash” our hands.

 

Requisite Bill photo, taken after I said something to make him laugh.

 

The bread… three varieties served with a carrot curry butter and a garlicky herbal spread that seemed to be based on Frankfurter “green sauce“, which is in season right now.  Bill just learned how to make it, since this isn’t a “thing” in the Stuttgart area.

The last time we ate at Villa Im Tal, we stuck with land specialties.  I had duck and Bill had pork.  This time, we decided to have specialties from the sea.  We both had shrimp starters and I had sea bass (branzino) and Bill had red snapper.

But not before we enjoyed the “amuse”– a delectable red beet soup in a shot glass.  I don’t usually like beets much, but this was very comforting.  It had only a delicate essence of the earthy bitter flavors I usually detect in beets.  I liked it, and it sure looked festive on a spring evening.

 

Bill’s started was homemade raviolis stuffed with wild Brazilian prawns.  I have to admit, if I had noticed this on the menu, I probably would have chosen it myself.  I tasted it, and it was very good!

But then, so was my salad, which was three wild Brazilian prawns served with green apples, avocados, asparagus, and sun dried tomatoes, then doused with foam.  Although it was a bit pricey at about 19 euros, it was delicious and beautifully presented.  I think the foam on my salad and Bill’s pasta was the same.  Basically mild and complimentary to the shrimp.  The pop of color from the purple chips were a nice touch.

 

My sea bass.  Sea bass isn’t the same here as it is in the States.  The sea bass I’ve had in the States has been Black Sea Bass, which is rich, buttery, and fleshy.  The sea bass in Europe is branzino, a fish that is usually found in the Mediterranean or off the coast of North Africa.  I’ve come to enjoy it here, although I kind of miss U.S. style sea bass.  This one was served with cous cous, parsnip puree, mangoes, and pureed carrots, then garnished with figs.

Bill’s red snapper was also excellent.  It was served with barley risotto, spring vegetables, and curry froth.  I liked his dish as much as I did mine.

 

As we were making our way through dinner, more diners showed up.  Soon, the dining room was full of people enjoying a lovely Sunday supper in a stunning natural setting.  It was such a pleasure to be able to see the garden blooming with flowers outside, canopied by tall trees.  I’m sure, when the weather warms up, it’ll be even nicer to enjoy dining outdoors.

One thing Villa Im Tal does that I don’t like that much is that they pour your wine for you.  This is supposed to be a hallmark of good service, but the reality is that the wait staff gets busy and the wine ends up being held hostage.  Also, since Bill doesn’t want to drink a lot when he has to drive, it’s better if we can control our own wine pours.  But I can see why they prefer to do the wine pouring, too, since wine service takes up valuable space on the table.

We decided to be simple with dessert.  I had a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of sour cream mint ice cream.  The sour cream mint had an enchanting herbal flavor that reminded me of the smell of my grandmother’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia.  There are two mountain creeks that run on the property and they give off a distinctively intoxicating aroma.  The only other place I’ve smelled it is in Scotland at the Benmore Botanical Gardens.  Well, the mint ice cream reminded me of that familiar smell from home.  The chocolate was kind of run of the mill, although it did have a few chips in it.  

Bill had a scoop of blackberry sorbet and a scoop of pineapple coriander sorbet.  He was considering the green apple sorbet, but Dennis told him the pineapple coriander was the best he’d ever had.  I think Bill enjoyed it very much.  Of course he liked the blackberry sorbet, mainly because he loves blackberries.

We were finished with dinner at about 8:30pm.  The total bill was just over 200 euros.  Bill paid with a card and slipped Dennis a little cash for a tip.

I think I liked our first meal at Villa Im Tal more than last night’s, although last night’s was also very good.  I think I’m just missing the ocean fish that I grew up on.  Around these parts, you tend to get fish that come from rivers or creeks or the Mediterranean Sea.  I do love most seafood, but I’m missing the seafood I know from home, if that makes any sense.  But in a few months, we’ll be in Scotland again, and I’ll be up to my ass in oysters and crawfish.

Pretty gardens on the way out.  The scenery is an added bonus to dining at Villa Im Tal.  It really is gorgeous.  Parking is also free and easy!  Dress is casual, although you won’t be out of place if you dress up for the occasion.  We saw as many people in jeans as we did people who wore suits and dresses.

On the way home, Bill and I were marveling at how lovely dinner was.  It’s a pleasure to be able to enjoy these places while we’re living in Germany.  We try not to take it for granted, which is why I always write about our experiences.  There was a time not so long ago that casually enjoying a meal like last night’s would have been out of the question.  We are very fortunate that we can do this, at least for now.  Needless to say, Villa Im Tal still gets my vote as a great place to eat near Wiesbaden.

Lambertus on a Sunday afternoon…

Advertisements

Yesterday, as I was booking Martino Kitchen for lunch, I realized that I also wanted to try Lambertus, another well-established Wiesbaden eatery.  I actually had a hard time choosing between the two restaurants, which seemed to be equally esteemed, yet offered very different experiences.  Fortunately, my husband enjoys dining out as much as I do, and he’s very indulgent.  I talked him into a 3:00 pm reservation today.

Lambertus is affiliated with the Kuffler Group, which is a privately owned hospitality company with over twenty restaurants in Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, and Munich.  However, when you step inside the place, you can see that there’s a lot of history.  In fact, I read that it used to be called Käfer’s Bistro, and I’m sure it had other names before that.  It’s in the historic Kurhaus and obviously been in use for a long time.

Although we didn’t need do, Bill and I decided to dress for the occasion.  I put on a pretty new dress that I got from Ann Taylor LOFT (a very APO friendly company, by the way) and Bill put on slacks, a dress shirt, and a sweater that matches his vivid blue eyes.  I got a new selfie for Facebook, which is a feat within itself.

The front door.  There’s a nice outdoor area that some people were using.  When the weather permanently warms up, I’m sure it will be very busy!

Wiesbaden is quite the hoity toity town.  Lambertus is right next to Wiesbaden’s famous casino, and maybe a ten minute walk from its famous baths.  I was thinking of going to the baths today, but decided not to… that’s an experience that will happen soon, though.  I am in serious need of naked spa time.

Someone was having a wedding… and a wedding photo shoot.

We were seated by a window, so I got a nice view of downtown Wiesbaden.

Just for us!

Lambertus offers traditional German cuisine, with lots of meat, dumplings, cabbage, and the like.  They do have a few international styled items, too.  Our waitress spoke excellent English.  I got the sense that she might be from Eastern Europe by the way she spoke.  She had an accent that didn’t sound German to me.  She offered excellent and attentive service.  Like a lot of restaurants, this one offers a selection of bread when you sit down, but it comes with Tyrolean ham, so there is a cover charge of 2,90 euros per person.  We opted not to have the bread, but we saw others enjoying it.

I started with a delicious Parmesan soup, which came with bruschetta.  The soup was so good– it reminded me a lot of Alfredo sauce, but in a soup.  This was a vegetarian selection.

Bill had an Indian inspired dish with naan, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, and fried bread.  Both dishes were excellent!

For our main course, we opted to have duck for two.  It was a whole duck, carved at the table, and served with dumplings made with pretzel bread, green cabbage, and brown gravy.

Bill in his sweater.  This spot was very sunny and a little crowded, since we were right next to another pair who were close enough that getting up from the table would have been difficult for me.

One thing I love about Lambertus is how beautiful the restaurant is.  It has a very cozy, classic atmosphere, which a nice looking bar area.  There’s also plenty of seating.  Despite the classy atmosphere, this is a very casual restaurant.  You can come as you are.

After a short break after our first course, our waitress carved a whole duck for us on a cart.  We didn’t finish it, so we brought about half home for later.  The duck was beautifully cooked and presented almost like Thanksgiving dinner.  Thanksgiving style turkey is tough to get in these parts (although turkey isn’t).  Maybe next November, we’ll go to the Kurhaus and have this again…  

I really liked the pretzel dumplings.  I don’t usually like Knoedel that much because they’re really heavy, but these were manageable and tasty.  I even liked the cabbage.

Our experience at Lambertus was very relaxed and unhurried.  As we finished the lovely bottle of primitivo and sparkling water we ordered, we decided on dessert.  Of course, they have the damnable lava cakes that are everywhere.  But I decided to have one of the tarts of the day, of which I had a choice of chocolate, rhubarb, apple, or strawberry.  I chose chocolate.  Bill had the “Raspberry”, which was a cream filled puff pastry with raspberry sorbet and raspberry garnishes.  I had some champagne, too.

Bill loved his raspberry dessert.  I think I’d get that next time.

I think this was supposed to come with vanilla ice cream, but I didn’t care that it didn’t in my case.  This was plenty.

 

Cheers!

 

Our bill for today’s lunch was 153 euros, which is admittedly pretty steep.  We did have a luxurious lunch, though… and I really need to find a nature trail so I can walk off some of this excessiveness.  One can certainly get in and out of Lambertus for less than what we did.  They have a wide array of dishes available– everything from Chateaubriand and steaks to vegetarian dishes and pasta.  I saw a lot of people coming in just for dessert.  I’m sure we’ll be back, although I think yesterday’s lunch was more impressive.

All dolled up again.  I’m excited, because this isn’t my usual black, blue, or purple dress…

Time for a haircut, though… and maybe a liver cleanse.

 

Orgasmic lunch at Martino Kitchen… feel like I need a cigarette!

Advertisements

This post was originally placed on my old Blogspot version of this blog.  When I transferred it to this blog, the layout got all screwed up.  Consequently, the type is very tiny unless I move it next to type that is normal.  Originally, the text was interspersed between the photos.  I have moved it in the interest of making it readable.  Sorry… I’m still working out the bugs on this new blog!

I know… I know…  Every weekend, it seems like I’m raving about yet another Wiesbaden area restaurant.  The fact is, there are some mighty fine eats in these parts.  Bill and I have been marveling at the quality and quantity of excellent restaurants, as well as the array of choices we have in different cuisines.  Lately, we’ve been pretty partial to Italian food, and today was no exception.

Although it would have been nice to have found another fun outing like we did last week, the weather was kind of cold and icky.  We actually had snow flurries this morning, which we barely saw up here even during the dead of winter.  I had been giving some thought to going to Frankfurt and checking out their spring fair, but based on the chill in the air, decided I’d rather just go out to eat.  I asked Bill if he’d like to have lunch somewhere.  He agreed, so I booked us a table at Martino Kitchen, which is right next to the Trüffel Hotel and Feinkost (fancy food store).  Martino Kitchen is the hotel’s restaurant.

I made us a reservation for 1:45pm and requested “standard” seating, but we were put at the chef’s table at the back.  The place was swinging when we arrived, but no one on the staff looked hurried or stressed.  We sat down and I immediately noticed that directly to my right was a mirror.  I don’t like looking at myself in the mirror, especially when I’m eating.  Fortunately, we also had a view of the open kitchen, which offered a fascinating show during a wonderful and imaginatively prepared repast.

We had a brief break while we waited four our third courses.  I decided to veer from the suggested free range chicken and have the salmon with wild garlic risotto.  Bill had the chicken, although he’d been eyeing the schnitzel.

While we were eating, I couldn’t help but notice all of the people coming back to say “Hi” to the chef.  He obviously has a lot of regulars who have become friends.  A man with that kind of talent with food is bound to have a lot of admirers.  As we were finishing up the meal, I kept raving about how good it was.  Every single course was outstanding and some of the flavor combinations were genius.  I found myself trying things I ordinarily wouldn’t, like a soup with black truffles in it.  Seriously, that’s a big deal for me.  I don’t do fungus.

Just as we were finishing the cheesecake, a very friendly man, obviously pals with the chef, came back and started massaging him.  As Bill and I observed, the guy started cracking the chef’s back.  Obviously, this was his chiropractor, who’d come in for lunch and maybe a quickie adjustment before dinner.  We heard him tell him to come in for an office visit, too.

The total bill was probably about 120 euros or so… I didn’t look at the check.  When the waiter brought it over, he laughed when I handed it to Bill.  Then he asked us where we were from and I explained that we’d just moved to Wiesbaden, but we’d be back to Martino Kitchen.  It was a lunch as satisfying as really good sex.  I need more of both in my life… although I probably better find a good dogwalking route so I can keep fitting in my fat pants.

After lunch, we stopped by the Feinkost next door.  Bill bought himself some cheese and a little chocolate for me.  I got a few photos of the beautiful store/delicatessen.  We noticed it a couple of weeks ago and I knew we’d soon be visiting.

Every time I visit Wiesbaden, I’m struck by how genteel and pretty it is.  There’s a lot of money here, as evidenced in the fancy food stores and fashion outlets.  Although there’s also money in Stuttgart, Stuttgart has a different feel.  It feels more provincial to me, for some reason.  We’ll be back in Stuttgart for the Elton John concert and to visit our awesome dentist.  I do miss Stuttgart a little, but Wiesbaden is really growing on me.  Of course, if I keep eating all this amazing food, it’ll grow on me in ways I’d rather it didn’t.

Then, on the way back to the car, we stopped in another store– one specializing in exotic fruits and vegetables.  They had mint plants for sale and Bill was wanting one.  We had one in our backyard at our last German home, but there isn’t one where we are now.  I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the gorgeous produce and other treats in Damla, a Turkish word that means “drop”.

We have a date to try Lambertus tomorrow… and maybe we’ll visit the Kaiser Therme for a little spa relaxation.  I know I have at least one reader who is eager to get my impressions of it.  Stay tuned.

Right out front.  No one was sitting outside today.  It was too cold!

The lunch menu.  You are allowed to mix and match as much as you want and can order 3 to 6 courses for set prices, or you can order less and pay more for each course.  Everyone spoke English and was very helpful.  We had a round of red wine– primitivo for me and rioja for Bill, along with our usual water with gas and some fresh bread and olive oil.

Side shot of Bill at the chef’s table, which has space for eight people.  A couple of ladies were sitting there when we arrived, but they left and we had the table to ourselves until we were halfway through our main courses.

I enjoyed watching the chefs at work, set to music mostly from the mid 1980s.

 

Bill started with buffalo mozzarella with basil, cherry tomatoes, and strawberries.  I don’t usually eat cold cheese, but I did try this and it was absolutely delicious!  The strawberries and cherry tomatoes provided a lovely contrast to the mild cheese.  I could tell the chef likes “crunch” in his dishes, since both my starter and Bill’s had little crumbles that reminded me a bit of Melba toast.

I had salmon carpacccio with salted almonds and what tasted like raspberry sorbet.  The sorbet wasn’t sweet, but had an intense flavor that worked well the very fresh citrus cured salmon.  It also had those “crunchies” on it.

Course number two, for Bill, was a wild garlic soup with black truffles.  Once again, I wouldn’t normally try this because I don’t like truffles.  I did try it, though– a little skimmed off the top (the truffles were on the bottom) and the waitress happened to walk by as I exclaimed, “Oh my God, that is delicious!”  She beamed.  Seriously, that soup was so good!

I went with a small portion of spaghetti carbonara made only with egg and bacon– no cream.  This was also delightful, although I liked Bill’s soup more.  I’d order that next time and ask them to hold the truffles.

Bill’s chicken dish was served with barley and yogurt and tasted a lot like Thanksgiving dinner.  The chicken was moist and juicy.  I would have been happy with it.

But I also loved the perfectly cooked “Lachsforelle” (salmon trout) served on green, garlicky risotto.  I paired this with a glass of Sauvignon Malvasia from Italy.

We split a piece of cheesecake for dessert.  The texture and flavor was much like New York style cheesecake, which was really a treat.  It had a cookie crust and was served with strawberry sauce, strawberry sorbet, and a chocolate garnish.  It was a great choice, since it wasn’t too big.  There were other tempting choices available.  I almost went with tiramisu, but I’ve been watching Golden Girls reruns and have had cheesecake on the brain.

 

I love European gourmet stores.

We bought a mint plant and a bottle of wine.

The colored eggs are most likely boiled.  You can get “Easter eggs” year round in Germany.

The proprietor spoke English, too.

What kind of bird is this?  I don’t know…

I need to find some places that look like this so I can walk off all this great eating!

A beautiful lunch at La Cantinetta in Wiesbaden…

Advertisements

After an evening in last night, Bill and I decided to venture into Wiesbaden for lunch.  He needed to turn in his rental car and pick up our Toyota and we had tentative plans to visit the commissary.  But lunch turned out to be so sumptuous that we ultimately skipped the commissary and simply indulged in a wonderful meal.

When Bill goes TDY, especially for over a week, both of us suffer in terms of food. I usually spend at least part of that time “on the wagon” and I eat whatever is quick and simple to make.  Bill pretty much does the same thing.  When he comes home, we celebrate.  After we picked up the Toyota at Clay Kaserne and dropped off the rental car at the train station, we took a long stroll into inner Wiesbaden.

Our walk from the train station took us past the Bonifatius Catholic Church in Wiesbaden.  It was built in 1824 and is one Wiesbaden’s many landmarks.

The square in front of the church.  Lots of people were congregating there.

The architecture in Wiesbaden is great.  Reminds me of brownstones in New York.

There was a lit candle by the fountain.

We passed this on the way, too… 

 

We don’t usually park near the train station, so we ended up walking past some places we’d never seen before.  Eventually, we ended up on Goldgasse, which was a bit of a “restaurant row”.  Ordinarily, I don’t like these kinds of “gauntlets” because the wait staff is usually aggressive and annoying and the food winds up being mediocre.  But today, Bill and I were preoccupied and let ourselves be ensnared by a friendly waiter who invited us to sit at a four top.

I took this picture on the way out.  When we arrived, no one else was sitting in front of La Cantinetta Ristorante and Wine Bar.

 

Obligatory shot of Bill looking at the choices.

 

Beautiful fresh cut tulips.

 

The waiter spoke excellent English and offered suggestions.  I told him of my hatred for fungus.  We were just going to order main courses and dessert, but the waiter talked us into trying the homemade pasta.  He brought Bill a small order of homemade gnocci with black truffle sauce, along with a bottle of Barolo, which was elegantly decanted for us.

Bill pronounced this dish heavenly.  I could smell the truffles.

 

I had homemade raviolis filled with beef and Parma ham, as well as pasta stuffed with tiny shrimps and fish.  It was glorious, especially after my Kraft mac n’ cheese fiasco earlier this week.

My main course was sliced roast beef topped with rucola, roasted potatoes, and Parmesan cheese, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  The beef was exquisite; it was very tender and flavorful and married beautifully with the potatoes and rucola.  When I sat down at this restaurant, I was tired and cranky, but this meal really perked me up.

 

 Bill ended up having what I had originally chosen for myself, a delicious Iberian pork dish with bacon wrapped green beans, and baby corn…  The pork was delicious!  I would have been just as happy with Bill’s dish.

 

Although it was a struggle to finish, we did manage to get through our main courses.  After we ate, we enjoyed the rest of the wine, conversation, and people watching.  Many more people came as we were dining.  I noticed the waiters were very welcoming and friendly, inviting people to sit down.  A couple of trips into the restaurant offered a glance at the elegant interior.  They were playing the Italian version of the song “Gloria”, which Laura Branigan made famous in the early 80s.  I believe it was originally an Italian hit.

For dessert, we shared the Dolce Misto, which was a panoply of mini versions of their desserts… and I had another glass of wine…

A nice Italian white.

And the Dolce Misto, which included creme brulee, profiteroles, panna cotta, tiramisu, and fruit.  My favorite was the profiteroles.

All told, about 126 euros… not a cheap lunch, but we left happy and satisfied.  We will definitely be back, especially since I noticed so many other beautifully presented dishes coming out of the kitchen.  The chef definitely has an eye for presentation… and everything tasted and smelled wonderful.

 

Very close to La Cantinetta is an Argentinian steakhouse.  We will have to try there, too.

This restaurant also has pizza and pasta, as well as schnitzel, although I can’t imagine getting schnitzel at this place.  The food is quite lovely.  The waiter was a little more assertive than I like and I did notice that someone complained on Trip Advisor about the upselling.  I agree, it was noticeable. On the other hand, we were in the mood to indulge and everything we had was uniformly excellent.

On the way back to the car, we saw a Saks… Wiesbaden is definitely a ritzy town.

 

More architecture.  Wiesbaden is very gracious.

The train station.  Our car was parked in the garage next door. 

We stopped by the train station so I could pee.  It’s expensive there.  One euro to use the public toilet, which is very clean and has toilet paper.  I don’t really mind paying as long as it’s clean and stocked, however, one euro is a lot for a whiz.

We ended up not visiting the commissary.  I suppose we should have, especially given how much Bill has to do since he’s been out of town.  But I just wanted to come home, write about this lunch, and enjoy the afterglow of a good meal.

Hammer schmeckt! Lunch at Villa im Tal!

Advertisements

Bill and I didn’t do anything yesterday after we visited the dog hotel.  I decided to work on a book I’ve been reading and Bill was catching up on important paperwork and planning for his next TDY trip, which happens in March and will last for 18 long days.  Today, we had absolutely glorious weather.  I’d never guess it was late February.  The weather feels more like late March.  We had beautiful sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s.

I asked Bill if he would like me to find us a place for lunch.  He agreed, so I booked us a 1:00pm reservation at Villa im Tal, an Austrian restaurant just beyond the outskirts of Wiesbaden.  This restaurant is in a wooded area, very close to a riding school and near nature trails and a spot where people were filling up on natural spring water.

I found Villa im Tal a few weeks ago, but the day I found it, it seemed like it was too far away.  I remember that day was very overcast and chilly.  Today, with the weather so beautiful, we were more game to venture to a different part of the city.  I’m glad we did, since it really wasn’t so far away after all… maybe 25 minutes from where we live now.  One thing I like about our new home is that it doesn’t take long to go places.

Well… we had a truly beautiful lunch.  The service was impeccable and the food was incredible.  The restaurant is in a beautiful old building in the woods.  And for all we had, we didn’t spend as much as I thought we would.  Have a look at the photos!

This is what I like to see when I am in Germany.

 

Nice wooded area.  Watch your step.  The ground can be treacherous.

 

On Sundays, this restaurant is open from 12:00pm until 10:00pm, with no pause.  Other days, it opens for dinner at 5:00pm.  It’s a popular venue for birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings, too.  There’s plenty of free parking, too… a huge bonus up here.

 

From the moment we walked through the door, we got excellent and attentive service.  A waitress invited us to choose a table.  We sat down and the ladies who attended to us poured hot water over hand towels, which swelled up as if by magic.  Then we ordered two glasses of Sekt.  They brought us a lovely rose.

Then we had fresh breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a lovely quark and chive spread.

A better look at the bread, along with the nice Austrian red Bill ordered.  He was also thinking about trying a wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, the source of many of our favorite reds.

Then came the amuse, which really got things off to a great start.  It was smoked salmon over cucumber jelly and cream fraiche.  We both smiled big when we tasted it.

Bill decides on his lunch order.

 

I started with a delightful mango curry soup with lemongrass.  It was absolutely delicious!  Very warm, comforting, and satisfying.  I’d love to have this recipe for the next time I’m sick.  It had just a little heat to it, but what I really got was the amazing lemon and curry flavors that blended with the sweetness of the mango.  It was so good.

 

Bill had a bouillabaisse… hearty with sliced truffle pancake.  I didn’t try it because I don’t like truffles, but Bill said it was very good.

 

Next, came the main courses.  Bill had a saddle of Iberico pork with chorizo sausage, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and potatoes.  I was struck by how aesthetically beautiful his plate was, and the pork was very tender and delicious.  I would have been happy with that dish, but…

 

I decided to have pink grilled Barbarie duck breast on a bed of pears with pureed parsnips, green beans and bacon, and orange-pepper jus.   The duck was cooked medium rare– perfect!  And I can say I honestly enjoyed everything that came with it, even the pureed parsnips surrounded by onion rings.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn the pureed parsnips were especially rich and sinful mashed potatoes.  They were amazing.  Bill made the waitresses smile when he told them it was all “Hammer schmeckt!”

 

Then, we had dessert…  We couldn’t have that awesome lunch without it, even though I wound up ordering a lava cake.  I am not big on lava cakes.  It’s not that they don’t taste good to me.  It’s just that everyone does them.  But I will admit Villa im Tal did beautifully with their version.

A warm lava cake with berry compote and a scoop of walnut ice cream…

Bill kept it simple with scoops of red currant and sour cream and chocolate and Thai chili ice creams.  Both desserts came with light cookies.

This is a happy man who probably thanks God PT tests are now a thing of the past.

 

Our total was about 187 euros.  Bill left 215 euros, which is probably considered a generous tip here in Germany.  It was just such a nice lunch.  The service was so good that we felt it was well-deserved.  Despite being very elegant and offering wonderful food, this restaurant was notated as “kid friendly” on OpenTable.  To be honest, I didn’t see any real indication that that is true, although I’m sure it must be.  As it was, we had no children among us today.  The clientele appeared to consist of well-heeled older folks who love good food at a leisurely pace.  I must admit, this style of dining appeals to me, too.

The only thing I’d change is the piped in music, which was mostly instrumental electric guitar music that sounded inspired by Santana or Mark Knopfler with no actual ties to either audience.  It wasn’t offensive; it just didn’t seem to fit with the classic atmosphere.  But that is a very minor point.  This was a damned fine lunch and we will definitely be back for more.  We paid in cash, but credit cards are accepted.  I’m happy to have found yet another place I’d highly recommend!

Just outside of the parking lot, people gather to get fresh spring water.

One last look.  We’ll definitely be back.

Wiesbaden is nice.

Valentine’s dinner at Franks– The Culinary Soul of Wiesbaden!

Advertisements

Valentine’s Day snuck up on us again in 2019.  Last year, we made a hasty decision to have Valentine’s dinner at Refugio, a restaurant at Hotel La Casa in Tübingen.  It was the same place we celebrated in 2017, although 2018’s dinner was not quite as good and lacked the same caliber of entertainment the restaurant had in 2017.

This year, we’ve moved to Wiesbaden, and Bill has been very busy with work.  Consequently, we almost didn’t go anywhere this year.  The Cajun place near us was having a special dinner, but we’re going to France today to celebrate President’s Day weekend and I thought it would be better to have lunch from there before we go.

I consulted OpenTable to see if there was any hope of having dinner on the town.  Sure enough, there were ten restaurants with availability.  One of them was the lovely Little Italy, but we’ve already eaten there three times– most recently this past Sunday.  Another was an American style sports bar, which probably wouldn’t be very romantic.  A third was a German restaurant called Ratskeller, which we tried in December.  I wanted to go somewhere different, preferably with great food.  I took notice of a place called Franks– The Culinary Soul of Wiesbaden.

Franks (curiously styled without an apostrophe) got really good reviews on OpenTable.  I took a look at their Web site and thought it could use an upgrade, but the food appeared to be really nice on the a la carte menu.  And since Franks is not open on the weekends, I figured Valentine’s Day on a Thursday night would be a good opportunity to try it.  I decided to take a chance.

I believe these roses came from our local Rewe store.  I finally got to use the vase I “made” in the Black Forest last year.

Bill came home at about 5:30pm and we had reservations for 7:00.  He asked me if I’d seen the menu for Valentine’s Day.  I did see that they were offering a four course dinner for 75 euros a person, but I didn’t notice if the a la carte menu would also be available.  Also, I didn’t see what was on the menu, because it was hidden on the news section of their rather low tech Web site.

One of the courses had the dreaded Shiitake mushrooms in it.  And the main course was lamb, which I don’t really like very much.  After presenting me with a lovely bouquet of red roses, Bill called Franks and asked if the mushrooms could be left out of the soup that included them and if there was any way I could have something other than lamb.  Fortunately, the chef was able to accommodate our request.  He left out the ‘shrooms in my Miso soup and prepared a beef filet for me.  Below are pictures from a really fabulous meal!

If you have an electric car and need to charge, you’re in luck!  Franks also has a large parking lot with free parking, which is a huge plus in these parts.  This restaurant is located in a business park in Erbenheim, not too far from where Bill is now working.  It was about a 14 minute drive from our house in Breckenheim.

The menu was posted by the door.  You must climb three flights of stairs to get to the restaurant, or take the handy elevator.  I dressed casually, in a red sweater and black pants with comfortable shoes, so we took the stairs.  The staff at the restaurant had put candles and little heart decorations on the last flight leading to the restaurant.

A very friendly guy greeted us in proper German, took our coats, and led us to our table in the contemporary dining room.  80s and 90s era pop music played on the sound system, but it was turned down low enough that many people wouldn’t notice it.  The tables were set far away from each other, which I really liked.  There was plenty of space to get in and out of the seats and ample opportunity for privacy, although I wouldn’t necessarily describe the dining room as “romantic”, per se.  It looks like the kind of place where businesspeople have lunch.

Strange smirk on Bill’s face.  I’m not sure why.

 

A nicely set table.

 

We had hot bread and butter, as well as sparkling water.  The water was not included in the 75 euro price.

 

We enjoyed a Bellini as Bill looked at the extensive wine list.  The Bellini was part of the menu.  It was a nice touch.  Bill found a beautiful red from southern France.

 

We’ll have to have this again.  It was delightful.

 

I counted five couples attending last night’s dinner.  One of the couples appeared to be regulars.  I noticed an important looking man, perhaps Frank himself, came out to speak to them.  It’s a shame more people weren’t enjoying Franks last night.  The food was superb.

We started with this amuse– salmon mousse, salmon tartar, quail leg (although the chef didn’t know the word in English, so we’re guessing it was quail), and a cup of bell pepper soup served in the style of a cappuccino.  The amuse was delicious and generous.  I especially liked the quail and the soup, although the salmon was also good– very fresh and beautifully presented.

 

Next came the soup course.  This included a langoustine (shrimp), snap peas, carrots, Shiitake mushrooms (omitted from mine), sprouts, and what appeared to be a soft boiled quail egg split in two.  The chef brought out the soup set up, then poured the peppery miso soup over the shrimp, vegetables and egg from a teapot.  The soup was amazing, even without the mushroom.  I’d love to have it for the next time I need comfort food.

These are two views of the next course, two perfectly seared sea scallops with fresh pasta and decorated with dried prosciutto.  I really enjoyed this course, too.  I love scallops and I love pasta, and all of the flavors blended beautifully.

Next, we had our main courses.  Mine was a beef filet, while Bill had rack of lamb.  The herb encrusted meat was cooked to a perfect pinkness and served with hearty root vegetables.  Honestly, this was probably my least favorite of the courses, although that isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it.  It was just the one I enjoyed the least.  Everything was excellent.

Then we had our dessert, a little piece of chocolate mousse cake, with a scoop of citrus flavored ice cream, fruit jellies, strawberries, and what looked like a little twig of white chocolate….

And a few chocolates before the bill was served with fortune cookies that turned out to be surprisingly appropriate…  

 

We thanked the chef for making such a delicious meal for us and he said, “Well, that’s my job.”  I think we’ll be back.  Not only was the food really beautifully prepared, the service was also impeccable and gracious.  I’m sure it helped that there weren’t many people dining last night, which is both a surprise and a shame.  On the other hand, we managed to have a delightful dinner served by people who were neither stressed nor annoyed by a huge crowd of people.

Our total bill was about 185 euros and it was worth every euro cent.  I don’t know how often we’ll get to enjoy Franks, since we don’t often go out to eat during the work week, but we may make a special effort for this place.  I want to try their a la carte menu and “smokers bar”, now.  What a wonderful Valentine’s Day meal we had!

Highly recommended!

Things aren’t bad in Baden-Baden… Part one

Advertisements

Bill and I have just arrived home after our latest and last trip from the Stuttgart area.  One week from today, the movers will come and pack up our stuff.  I recall the last time we moved out of the Stuttgart area.  It was September 2009, and we were set to move on September 15th.  The weekend before our departure, we took advantage of the long Labor Day weekend in Budapest, Hungary. We had an amazing time in that spa town, where Bill had his very first deep tissue massage.  On that trip, we stayed in the beautiful Hotel Corinthia, which at the time, was probably the most luxurious hotel we’d ever experienced.

It seems only fitting that we’d do our last trip from Stuttgart in another famous spa town, Baden-Baden.  I had been meaning to visit this splendid German town for years, but never managed it because we’ve lived so close.  On a normal day, meaning with no construction or traffic, we could get to Baden-Baden in about 90 minutes taking the scenic route.  Since there’s always the threat of having to move back to the United States unexpectedly, we’ve always opted for trips further afield.

As I was planning our 16th anniversary celebration, I wondered if it wouldn’t be better to fly to an exotic place for our four night trip.  I’ve been itching to get to a more exotic location that I haven’t yet seen.  But when I asked my well-traveled friends on Facebook where we should go, more than a few recommended Baden-Baden.  Both one of my former English professors from Longwood University and another friend, who loves historic, stylish hotels, recommended Brenners Park Hotel and Spa.

The truth is, I had been eyeing that hotel myself.  The many times I thought about taking a trip to Baden-Baden, I considered booking a room at Brenners.  But then I checked out the prices, which are eye-wateringly expensive, and thought again.  Indeed, even when I had made the final decision to visit Baden-Baden, I originally planned to book a room at the ever popular Aqua Aurelia Hotel, which seemed more modern than Brenners, but was also less expensive.  But then when I went to book, the room I wanted, upgraded from their basic room, was not available.

So then I went back to Brenners, and realized you only live once.  I booked us a deluxe double room via Expedia.com for four nights, cringing a bit at the final cost.  We made the reservation through Expedia, but paid at the hotel.  Luckily, my husband is very indulgent and has acquired a taste for luxury after sixteen years with me.

Fast forward to November 15th…  

A few shots from the road.  For most of our drive, we had lots of clouds, but there were a few sunny spots. 

Since we didn’t know where we’d be going for our trip, Bill arranged to drop our dogs off with Max early in the morning.  That left us with plenty of time to make the relatively short drive to Baden-Baden.  Check in at Brenners Park is at 3:00pm.  I thought maybe we’d stop somewhere on the way have lunch.  However, we ran into some road construction on B28  that forced us to take a couple of detours.  One detour took us on a somewhat scary mountain pass with a pretty bad road.  By the time we got to the other side of the mountain, it was about 1:00pm and Bill was a bit shellshocked.

We reached Brenners Park at just after 1:00.  Bill attempted to park the car in the hotel’s garage (26 euros per day), but was blocked by a truck that was unloading.  Frustrated, he pulled out of the garage and was quickly met by a valet, who happily unloaded the Mini and parked it for us.  We approached the check in desk, where a handsome young man greeted us.  I mentioned that we were in town to celebrate our anniversary.  He congratulated us and upgraded our room.

I wasn’t quite sure I’d heard him right when he told us we were getting a junior suite.  That was quite a leap in the rack rate.  But then he escorted us to our palatial suite, where our bags were delivered and set in an enormous changing room.  I was absolutely shocked at the opulence.  It really set the tone for a marvelous stay.

A hallway inside our 70 square meter suite.

The alcove where our bed was. 

Sitting area.

Beautiful writing desk and armoire with a television.

Huge dressing room with wardrobes.

Bathtub.  The bathroom was also huge.  I didn’t do it justice with these pictures.

The mirror had a lamp and its own light.  There was also a beautiful marble shower.

Balcony overlooking the park.

Bill collapses on the royal bed.  

Well stocked minibar.  Water and soft drinks were included in the room rate.  Alcohol and snacks were not.

A daily fruit plate with macaroons, also included.

Turn down service.

Another desk and TV.

 

A handy doorway from the bedroom through the changing room to the bathroom.  

After the shock of the upgrade wore off, we decided to go to the Wintergarten restaurant in the hotel and have some lunch.  Brenners Park has two restaurants.  There’s the Wintergarten, which is in a really pretty solarium, and Fritz and Felix, which is their new restaurant concept of “casual fine dining”.  We didn’t have a chance to try Fritz & Felix, but really liked our experience in the Wintergarten restaurant.

Bill enjoys a glass of Riesling.

Bread with pistachio spread and butter.  I liked the pistachio spread!

For lunch, I had a salad made with greens, cherry tomatoes, and huge sea scallops, seared to perfection.

Bill had a citrus cured lobster salad with melon.  This was the first time either of us had ever had lobster that was cooked without heat.  Instead, it was “cooked” chemically with citrus juice.  I really liked the tangy dressing that came on this salad and, I must admit, raw lobster has an interesting texture.  It reminded me of jelly.

For dessert, I had a Black Forest cream puff with chocolate, vanilla, and cherry.  It came with a scoop of cherry ice cream.

Bill had a lemon tart with basil ice cream and meringues.  This lunch set us back about 159 euros.

 

I grabbed a shot of these desserts on display.

After lunch, we took a short walk around Baden-Baden to get a feel for the place.  It’s quite a ritzy town.  I couldn’t help but notice how international it is, too.  We heard lots of French and British English spoken, but most of all, we noticed Russians.  Russians are everywhere in Baden-Baden!  Quite a lot of them were staying at Brenners Park, too.