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Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part nine

Sunday morning, we woke up more than ready to head home to Germany. I missed Noyzi and Arran, even though I generally enjoy it when we have a chance to take a break from the dogs. I saw so many cute dogs in France, including a couple of European styled beagles that made me want to get one of my own! Of course, I won’t be doing that until we are down to one dog again. Arran doesn’t share well, and even after about 18 months with Noyzi, he only barely tolerates him. And Noyzi is a very kind and considerate dog.

We went down to the Stammtisch to find our usual breakfast. The day prior, the breakfast lady had thought we were leaving and asked us if we wanted to pay. We had to remind her that Sunday was our day of departure. I got the impression that maybe people don’t typically stay at the Auberge au Boeuf for several nights, as we did. But actually, there’s a lot to do in the area around Sessenheim. It’s not too far to get to Strasbourg. Nancy and Metz aren’t as close as Strasbourg is, but we could have visited there if the mood struck. Of course, the Alsatian wine route, south of Strasbourg, isn’t far, either. Neither is Baden-Baden, the great German spa town.

As you can see by my posts, we did manage to find several cute and diverse eastern French hamlets. It occurred to me that north of Strasbourg is more diverse in appearance than the southern area is. Over the past few years, Bill and I have visited Alsace more than anywhere else in Europe. We almost completely missed Alsace the first time we lived in Germany together. I’m so glad we’ve had the opportunity to explore this unique, historic, and beautiful part of France. We really enjoyed visiting Sessenheim, Soufflenheim, Haguenau, Bitche, Obernai, and Saverne! Each place was different and had its own special vibe and history.

It’s not lost on me that my unexpected and unplanned lifestyle as an “overeducated housewife” has come with certain perks. If I had done with my life what I had planned to do, I might have managed a visit to Paris or Lyon… or maybe to Nice again. Those are all lovely cities, but they tend to be teeming with Americans. Thanks to Bill’s work with the Army, I’ve had some great opportunities to see “the real France”, as it was put by a British man who owned a wine shop in Cluny, France, which we visited in 2017. Cluny is a very nice city in Burgundy and we loved our time there. But I would not expect too many Americans to go, especially not from the United States. That was where Bill ate pig intestines! Talk about a typically FRENCH experience!

Anyway, we enjoyed our last breakfast, but it was time to go home. We loaded up the car and I paid for everything with my credit card– about 1600 euros ($1800 approximately) when all was said and done. That was for four nights in a beautiful suite, breakfast for two every morning, three bottles of wine, four apéritifs, and two nights of sumptuous dinners for two. Parking was free. I feel good about stimulating the local economy.

On the way out of Sessenheim, we stopped at a nearby Boulangerie/Patisserie to get some French pastries. Bill got several beignets, two pain au chocolats, and a kugelhopf. It was a lot for just the two of us. Fortunately, the kuglehopf has kept well in the fridge. I wish he’d gotten some croissants, too. French croissants are better than the locals ones we can get.

The drive back to Wiesbaden was totally uneventful and took about two hours. We had no traffic issues at all, and the weather was fine. I had to laugh on Sunday night, as we dined on Popeye’s Fried Chicken from the food court on post. It’s crazy that we went from five star dining to fast food in less than 24 hours.

I would not hesitate to book Auberge au Boeuf again. Next time, I hope we can try their Stammtisch at lunch or dinner, and if the menu has changed, I would definitely be up for another grand gourmet experience at their restaurant. We’ll see what the future holds! Below are are few last photos from our most recent adventures in France.

If you’ve been following along with this series, thank you so much for reading. My travel blog has been dying, thanks to the pandemic and moving to a new platform. I hope this series will be the first of more to come in 2022! Wish us luck!

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Reunited with France… and it felt so good to be back! Part three…

ETA: I had a real problem with uploading pictures for this post. The second set of photos is actually several galleries. If you notice “repeats” when you scroll through, just move to the next gallery.

Before we went to sleep the first night, we were visited by one of the restaurant staffers. She bore a slight resemblance to the actress Elisabeth Moss, who plays June on The Handmaid’s Tale. That was how we found out that our room had a doorbell! She came bearing fresh baked treats from the kitchen, which were scrumptious. She came to ask us about our breakfast preferences and reconfirm our reservations at the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights.

The breakfast at Auberge au Boeuf was absolutely something to behold. But as it was our first time visiting, we didn’t know what to expect and we were decidedly overfed on the first morning. The lady from the restaurant asked us what we wanted from the list of offerings, which included boiled eggs, ham, fruit salad, cheese, smoked fish, juice, coffee, tea, yogurt, jam, butter, Museli, and fresh baked pastries and bread. This breakfast, which costs 12 euros per person, is served “family style”. But we didn’t know that on Wednesday night, when we were asked when we wanted to eat, and whether we wanted breakfast at the big “Stammtisch” table, or in our room. So, we ordered two of some things, not knowing how big the portions were.

The next morning at 8:00am sharp, a tiny lady who spoke French and German brought out tons of food for us… two servings of the things we both liked. I will admit, we were able to eat a lot of it, but some things went to waste. We had two big trays of smoked fish, two big trays of ham and salami, two of three kinds of pastries, and two butters… I was grateful we were the only ones eating at 8:00am, which is when breakfast starts. It was embarrassing to get that much food! We noticed a couple who ate later got less food. Now, we know better.

However… I must admit that the breakfast at Auberge au Boeuf was one of the best I have ever had anywhere. And, at twelve euros per person, it was very reasonably priced. The pastries alone were worth the price of admission, as it was obvious to me that they were very fresh and probably house made. They were exquisite! Below are some pictures from breakfast in the Stammtisch room.

The Stammtisch is something else I must mention. The restaurant offers less fancy and expensive meals at the big table in their gorgeous breakfast/dining room. We didn’t try the Stammtisch, since we didn’t know about it before we came and decided not to have dinner on Wednesday and Thursday nights. The food offered there is mostly beef and Alsatian– and looking at their menu, I might have had some issues with it, since there are many mushrooms! I see that the Stammtisch is offered for lunch and dinner on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. On the other hand, if we go back to that hotel, we may have to try it. The Stammtisch room has a very different vibe than the gourmet restaurant does. I think if I could have found something without fungus, I would have loved it.

The big “Stammtisch” table is made from a tree– in fact, I was blown away by how beautiful that room is. It looked like the plates, cups, saucers, and serving platters were all locally produced by a potter. They were very cool looking and original. They also have a cool wine cave, as well as a museum devoted to Goethe, that I didn’t see open during our visit.

After our first night at the hotel, we took a walk around the neighborhood. First, we passed a small market, where vendors were selling local produce, rotisserie chicken, and cheeses. I noticed that the hotel even had a kiosk set up, probably so people could pick up their catering orders. Patrons can order things via the restaurant’s Web site.

During our walk, I met a very sweet and social “European style” beagle who was super friendly and wanted to chat with us. He was so cute! I wanted to take him home with me, but I know if I bring another dog home, Arran will shit on my pillow! I have noticed that beagles are getting more popular in Europe, but they look a bit different than American beagles look. They’re a bit stockier, and have jaws that look kind of square. Whatever… I think they are adorable! Below are some scenes around Sessenheim.

We also saw some pygmy goats who were hanging out in someone’s yard, enjoying the nice weather. And we visited Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s memorial, which is open and free to the public. If we’d wanted to, we could have planned a day’s activities around Goethe. There’s actually a lot around Sessenheim and its environs about Goethe, who fell in love with Frederique Brion, a French woman from Sessenheim, when he was studying law in Strasbourg. Goethe immortalized her in his memoirs.

We strolled through the neighborhoods, noticing a couple of places for sale. I started talking to Bill about whether we should look for a house in France when he retires. I noticed how beautifully the gardens are kept there, including someone’s well tended kale plants. Dr. Blair, the dentist, used to practice in the Black Forest, and he said a lot of Germans buy homes in Alsace, because it’s supposedly cheaper. And, as we can attest, it’s more laid back, too.

After we took a walk, we made our way to Haguenau, which is a small, pleasant city known for pottery. There are museums, spas, and churches, and even a microbrewery there. The city is located near the famous Maginot Line, so it attracts people who are interested in “Remembrance Tourism”. There is also a lot of Jewish history in Haguenau. There’s even a museum dedicated to baggage in Haguenau! There are also some interesting looking restaurants, bars, and retail establishments. Since we’re still a bit COVID wary, we kept our activities outdoors, with the exception of visiting one cathedral, where Bill lit a candle for his father, who was a devout Catholic and died in 2020.

For lunch, we visited a tiny Moroccan restaurant called Restaurant Côté Sud. We lucked into finding this place, which offered a few French items like faux filet, as well as tajines, cous cous, and some intriguing salads. I’ll write more about Haguenau and our Moroccan lunch in the next post. Uploading photos is problematic for some reason.

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“Looking for trouble” on President’s Day weekend in Robert-Espagne, France… part three

We decided to venture into nearby St. Dizier to see if we could find a nice place for lunch.  St. Dizier is a small commune with about 26,000 residents, located not far from where we were staying.  It has sort of a grimy look to it and, if I’m honest, isn’t a very exciting place.  However, we did manage to find a great lunch spot.  We were lucky we got there right at noon, too, since almost every table in the place was reserved!

The restaurant we chose was called Le Gourmet du Jard.  Besides traditional French dishes, it offers pizzas and “plats du jour”.  I was glad to find it, because we had looked at a menu at another place and I said, “That looks too French for me.”  The menu was loaded with fois gras, escargots, mushrooms, and andouillette.  Bill had a bad experience with andouillette in Burgundy, although I know many people love to eat it.  Le Gourmet du Jard had more things on the menu that I recognized and knew I’d want to eat.

Outside of the restaurant.

 

We shared our table with a French couple.  Yes, we were the only Americans in the place, and no one spoke English.  Still, I managed to order a lovely salmon and cod en croute.  Bill had a salad with shrimp, smoked salmon, hearts of palm, and artichoke hearts, among other things.

We shared a half bottle of red wine…

The place is obviously still decorated for Valentine’s Day.

 

I had a lovely salmon and cod dish, enrobed en croute (in pastry), with mixed vegetables, rice, a potato, and a savory sauce.  It was very good, and I was relieved that there was nothing originating from intestines on my plate.

Bill had a Salad Pacifique, which was quite a production with shrimp, smoked salmon, and a variety of fresh vegetables.  He said it didn’t really stay with him, although it tasted great.  We got bread and a snack mix made of crackers and peanuts, too.  This salad also was part of a three course meal that was available for a reasonable price.  This restaurant had a number of such three and four course deals going.  I didn’t want that much food, but if I had been hungrier and more daring, I might have tried one.

 

For dessert, I had a huge cup of chocolate mousse!

Bill had the tart of the day, which was cherry.  It was excellent!

 

Le Gourmet du Jard was staffed by a group of hardworking teenagers.  The dining room was small, but busy.  They did a great job of making sure everyone was happy.  Service was friendly and professional.  We’d go back.

After lunch, we walked around the town and I took a few photos, before we had to head out to take care of a special errand for my sister.  Here are a few photos of St. Dizier, in all its glory.

I liked this statue, too.

The cathedral was kind of interesting.  It looked sort of “mod”.

This ad with the piglet caught my eye…  especially since it mentions Vegas.

Yeah, there isn’t a whole lot to this town.  It was sort of sleepy.  But the weather was so pretty that if we’d wanted to, we could have gotten a table on the square and people watched for awhile.

We decided to leave and hit the grocery store.  My sister, Becky, had asked me to find her French laundry detergent called Mir.  That chore actually took some time, since the first store we went to was closed and the second one, a Lidl, didn’t have what we needed.

No Mir in the laundry aisle…

But we did find booze.  Actually, the Lidl was stocked with all kinds of weird stuff.  They had things like gifts, tights, clothing items, and toys, but the selection of things like food or detergent was pretty slim…

And worst of all, they had no public restroom.

Yes, there was beer and we brought some back with us.

This abbey– Abbaye Trois Fontaines— is very close to where our rental house was.

Bill eventually dropped me off and went to a larger store, where he did manage to find the Mir for Becky.  It will get mailed to her at some point.

I PM’d this photo to my sister and she was very happy.  I may have to try it myself, to see why it excites her so much…  Interestingly enough, it looks like it’s made by a German company.

 
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Alsace and Burgundy… WTF is Bill eating, part deux! pt. 7

After Thursday’s experience with entrails, Bill and I decided to be cautious on Friday.  We spent a languid afternoon hanging out with the animals and taking in the views.  I finished a book I’d been reading (and just reviewed on my main blog).  When it got to be lunchtime, we decided to try a local restaurant I’d read about on Trip Advisor.

The outside of the restaurant.  It’s very unassuming looking, but the food is outstanding.

L’Etape Charollaise is not even a five minute drive from where we were staying.  It’s a small, family owned restaurant that puts out great food at reasonable prices.  But we were still a little gun shy after Bill’s chitterling experience, so we approached the restaurant with caution.  Our waitress did not speak English, but was good enough to speak French slowly.  Bill went with the menu du jour, which was 13 euros and came with a Lyonnaise salad, a main course, cheese, and a dessert.  I went with the savory menu, which was 18 euros without cheese and, I think, 23 euros with it.  I don’t eat cold cheese, so I went with the sans fromage option.

We were a little sketchy on what Bill’s main course would consist of, as we didn’t have it written down for us (a sign was posted on the door).  My menu offered a choice of beef or fish.  I went with the fish, which was a good choice.

Bill checks out the menu.

While we were eating, a bunch of local folks came in.  There was a couple who looked like they knew the restaurant well.  They sat in the corner near us.  A couple of guys, obviously working class blokes, sat at the table next to us and shared a nice bottle of wine.  A couple of elderly men who appeared to be regulars were scattered around.  All was going normally until the couple heard us speaking English.  The male half turned and stared at us quizzically.  It was as if they wondered what the hell we were doing in rural France!  Again, it was probably not unlike the reaction people in my hometown would have if French people suddenly dropped in to have dinner at one of the local eateries.

Anyway, out came the food and it was all very good…

We enjoyed a bottle of vino and some still water, which the restaurant provided freely and without our having to ask for it.

I’m not totally sure what this was.  It was my amuse and it tasted like sun dried tomatoes with olives and bacon on top of some type of cream.  I am a little weird about creamy stuff, but I did taste it and it was interesting.  Bill liked it better than I did.  

On the other hand, I loved Bill’s Lyonnaise salad, which was greens, a perfectly poached egg, bacon, and croutons.  That’s my kind of salad.  Breakfast in a bowl!

I had a lovely filet of sole on top of pureed lentils and vegetables.  I was delighted by how colorful this dish was and that, for once, it was pretty healthy.

And this was Bill’s mystery dish…

WTF is Bill eating?  It’s rice, mushrooms, and some kind of meat…

Followed up with some very good local cheeses.  I love watching Bill eat cheese, even if I never eat it myself.

The expression on his face is why I like watching him.  He does the same when he drinks a very good wine or interesting beer.

Next came dessert.  Bill’s was basically meringue in creme anglaise and topped with caramel.  It was not too big and he liked it a lot for that reason.

My dessert was excellent!  It was a poached pear on a cookie with little mounds of chocolate mousse, a scoop of pear sorbet, and an almond cookie.  It was a great cap to a fine meal. 

Bill eats his cheese course and tries to figure out what each of the cheeses were.  He says, “This one might be Epoisses.”  Epoisses is a locally produced cheese we discovered on our last trip to Burgundy.  He later did some checking and identified the cheeses.  When I see him later, I’ll get him to tell me what he thinks they were so I can update.

 

We got all of this fine food for about fifty euros.  And, on the way out of the restaurant, I took note of the sign that listed the plate of the day.  Bill was eating “dinge”.  Looking up the word, I see that dinge in French is turkey.  The more you know!  If we go back to Saint Marcelin-de-Cray, we will for sure try to visit L’Etape Charollaise again.

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Running away to Ribeauville, France… part three (good eats 2)

On Saturday afternoon, Bill went out and bought wine.  I didn’t go with him because frankly, the gloomy weather makes me want to hibernate.  I had already slipped into my nightgown by the time he wanted to go.  I also wanted to do some writing.  So he went into town and bought twelve bottles of local wines from vintners in Ribeauville.  He got to taste the wines before he purchased them and both wine sellers spoke English and told him about the wines he was buying.  In retrospect, I really should have gone with him.  If and when we go back to Ribeauville, I will have to hold off getting into my jammies until we’ve bought some wine.

Sunday morning, we had a nice breakfast of locally made croissants.  There are two bakeries very close to the apartment where we were staying.  One is also a chocolatier, although we didn’t come home with any chocolates this time.  One of the bakeries was also selling a locally popular cake that looked like a small bundt cake.  I wanted Bill to get one to bring home with us today, but they didn’t have any ready when he went to the bakery this morning.

On Sunday, we basically did the same thing we did Saturday.  At about lunchtime, we ventured out for a meal.  Only a few places were open, since it’s vacation time.  We ended up eating at Caveau de l’Ami Fritz, which was very close to our apartment.  I noticed it smelled good, which is always a good sign.

I read in Trip Advisor that this restaurant is typically very busy, even though it’s is relatively low ranked.  When we arrived, there were several tables open.  I was enchanted by the interior, which is like a wine cellar.  There’s a large fireplace in the front of the restaurant and it’s very attractively lit.  Our waitress spoke slightly more English than the one at Chez Martine did, which I found helpful.  The menu also had translations in German and English.

We ordered another local wine, one that was made by one of the vintners Bill bought from on Saturday, but not one he had purchased.  I settled on roasted chicken with fries and salad.  Bill had veal with mushroom sauce.

Bill checks out the wines…

and settles on this very pleasant local wine with essences of honey.

The menu had warned the roasted chicken would take 25 minutes.  It was not a big deal at all, although I hadn’t been expecting a game hen!  This was a delightful change of pace.  Nice, simple, perfectly cooked chicken that wasn’t too dry.  A small salad with a light, creamy, and savory dressing.  The fries were pretty standard issue, but good.

Bill loved the veal and mushrooms, two foods I don’t do…  His dish came with fries and salad.  I noticed he ate the whole thing with gusto and even mopped up the gravy on his plate!

I saved room for profiteroles…  We really should have shared this.  It was basically vanilla ice cream sandwiched between eggy pastry that wasn’t at all sweet.  Warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream rounded out this magnificent creation.  I almost went with chocolate mousse, which would have probably been slightly less huge. 

Bill had a piece of the tart of the day, which yesterday was blueberry.  It was very good… not too big, not too sweet, and just the right thing after veal.

I stole a shot of the back of the dining room.  You’d have to see it to appreciate it.  It’s very cozy and unique.  I have eaten in other retired wine cellars and am always delighted by them.  

Bill waits for the bill.  It was about 70 euros and our waitress offered to let us pay with a card.  We used cash instead.  In case anyone is interested, this restaurant is dog friendly.  We didn’t bring ours with us, though.  The manager smiled at me when I made it clear that I enjoyed the meal.

The outside.

And yesterday’s specials.

 

I see that this particular restaurant isn’t that high ranking according to TripAdvisor, but we liked it and would visit again.  It’s hard to have a bad meal in France.

 
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Running away to Ribeauville, France… part two (good eats 1)

Ribeauville is pretty quiet right now.  Many of the locals have left town for vacation.  Consequently, a lot of the restaurants and a few stores were closed.  The weather was pretty gloomy during our visit, so we mainly hung around the apartment and ventured out for lunch a couple of times.  Even though the town is fairly dead right now, it’s still very beautiful and quaint.  There’s still plenty of wine for tasting and buying.  And if you’re sick and tired of schnitzel and pork knuckles, you can have something decidedly French in Ribeauville.  I know I did.

Ribeauville is tres cute.

The first restaurant we went to was Chez Martine, an adorable little bistro on the main drag through Ribeauville.  It seems to be a place most popular for lunch.  When we arrived at about 1:00pm on Saturday, the tiny dining room only had a few open tables.  A very friendly waitress invited us to sit where we wanted.  She didn’t speak much English, which I found very refreshing.  And she was smiling and helpful.  I was very charmed by her as she very carefully explained that they were about to close for their vacation, so they were out of some items on the menu.

I decided to have Quiche Lorraine, which is basically made with bacon or ham and cheese.  It came with a salad and bread.  Bill chose a salmon tart, but they didn’t have it.  So he went with lightly breaded fish– I think it was flounder.  It, too, came with a very nice salad.  We shared a bottle of Alsatian wine and no one gave us the fish eye for drinking during the daytime.

No, I wasn’t drinking when I took this.  The expression of Bill’s face just reminded me of Squidward’s.

A little better.

A very nice locally produced Riesling, which went great with our lunches.

My delicious Quiche Lorraine.  This was so good.  Just what I needed on a cold, gloomy January day in France.  And such a nice change from the fare one usually finds in these parts.  The salad had carrots, green beans, radishes, and fresh greens.  It came with a light mustard vinaigrette as well as super fresh bread.  

Bill was equally happy with his flounder.  It came with the same salad my dish had.  

Our waitress talked us into dessert.  I had a cherry tart, which was delicious and just the right size.  

Bill enjoyed a pear and chocolate tart.  Again, it was the right size and very fresh.  I was marveling that we only live a couple of hours away, but the food is so refreshingly different.  We will have to come back for that alone.

A shot of the front.  In warmer months, there are tables available for outside.

Our bill came to just over fifty euros.  Bill made the waitress smile by giving her a generous tip.  A friend of mine who lives in France says that tipping isn’t really a thing in France.  More than a couple of euros isn’t necessarily expected.  I could tell that our waitress appreciated it, though.  And that meal was enough that we didn’t really need anything else for the rest of the day.  We went back to the apartment and enjoyed some wine from the local grocery store while we watched the flurries come down.  Ribeauville definitely did not get the snow that Stuttgart got.

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An awesome find for French food in Tailfingen!

Hey you!  Are you tired of eating Swabian food?  Have you had your fill of Italian, Greek, and even Asian dishes?  Have you been longing for something a little different?  Well… have I got the place for you!

Earlier today, I was on TripAdvisor.com looking up a pizzeria that is very close to our house.  I have been curious about it for a long time, but we haven’t stopped there yet, even though it’s just minutes away from where we live.  I noticed that the pizzeria was ranked number one of two restaurants in the area.  The restaurant with the #2 ranking was a place I had seen many times and was very curious about.  We had never stopped because we always had other plans.

The pizzeria got excellent reviews, but wasn’t supposed to open until later today.  Grüner Baum, by contrast, was scheduled to open at 11:00am this morning and was to stay open until midnight.  I noticed the reviews, all written in German, were universally positive.  Then I looked at the menu and realized that this was a French restaurant.

I told Bill to get on the horn and make a reservation.  He called up and scheduled us for 1:00pm.  When we arrived on time, after struggling a little to find a parking spot, I could see that it made sense to reserve a table.  The restaurant is obviously a local favorite.  Most everyone was sitting outside, although there is also a very attractive indoor dining room that was empty today because the weather was so gorgeous.

Bill checks out the menu…

We were seated in the “smoking” section.  Note the cigarette in the background.  I have a feeling it lights up at night!  I got a kick out of it.  If you make reservations and want to sit in the non smoking section, be sure to mention it.  Unfortunately, there were a few smokers in our midst and it was a bit of a problem at first.  They cleared out and we soon had the area to ourselves.

We ordered a lovely wine from the Languedoc region in France.  This was a very nice white.  I was introduced to the Picpoul grapes from a winery in Texas.  The grapes are good closer to home, too.  

As I was enjoying my first glass of wine, I noticed that there were “cigarette lamps” hanging from a string above us!  

 

Our server spoke impeccable English.  Bill spoke German and when we didn’t understand something, she slipped into perfectly accented American English.  That was very helpful.  Aside from that, and the fact that the menu is entirely in German, this is a very French place.  It’s also very laid back.  People came dressed very casually.  It’s also very kid friendly!  They even have a sandbox for kids to play in!

We ordered today’s menu, which consisted of four courses.  We had choices for three out of the four courses, with a few of the main courses requiring a small supplement.  The base price for four courses was 24,90 per person.  We could also order a la carte.  Next time we go, we will probably go the a la carte route.

I started with a delightful charcuterie course… It came with fresh, hot bread and the rather assertive French mustard you see in the bottle above.

Bill enjoyed a delicious potato soup.  It was rich and hearty, with fresh made croutons.

After some time, we moved on to our main courses.  What I had was billed as a fish soup…  Fortunately, the lady who brought it to us– also someone with excellent English skills– explained how to eat it…

 

I was to take one of the pieces of hard toasted bread pictured above, rub it with a garlic clove, smear a little red pepper paste over the garlic rubbed bread, and top it with the Gruyere cheese.  Then, I was to take a ladle of the delicious fish bisque (it smelled of lobsters and shrimp) and cover the pepper and cheese topped toast with it.  It was delicious, but I swear this particular portion was enough for three people!

Bill went with a crepe.  This restaurant has lots of crepes, both of the savory and sweet varieties.  His crepe had mushrooms, cheese, a heavenly sauce, and an egg…  He brought about half of it home with him.  I didn’t try to take home my soup.  

Bill takes a breather before the cheese course.  We had moved to another table to escape some of the smoke.

The cheese course.  Bill ate most of this because I don’t really like cheese that much and some of these were a little too much for me.  Bill LOVES cheese and he really enjoyed this course.  

Bill reacts after tasting a particularly pungent cheese.  I got him on video after I took this photo.

 
 

About two hours into our lunch, it was time for dessert.  This was, of course, my favorite course.  I am a sucker for a really good dessert.  Bill and I both picked good ones.  I had also ordered a really nice white/rose wine blend after we finished our wine and water.

I had some delicious chocolate mousse!  This came with unsweetened whipped cream and segments of mandarin orange.  The mousse was awesome!  Not too sweet and not too much!

Bill had a compote of a mixture of dark red fruits and topped with coconut ice cream.  As much as I loved my mousse, I must admit that Bill’s dessert was just as good.  Those fruits were very intense and delightful!  The coconut ice cream was a good match for the deep flavors of the berries and cherries.

 

All told, our four courses for two, along with a bottle of wine, a bottle of sparkling water, and an extra glass for yours truly, came to about 72 euros.  Bill topped up to 80 euros.  We definitely could have gotten away for a lot less than that because it was a lot of food!  But it was also a sumptuous two and a half hour lunch that was purely decadent.  I think it was money well spent.

 

Grüner Baum appears to be a popular name for restaurants in these parts.  I have seen a few places with the same name.  This particular Grüner Baum is located in the small town of Tailfingen, not too far from Nagold, Herrenberg, or Tuebingen.  It’s not even a fifteen minute drive from our home in Unterjettingen, which is why I’m really sad that we’re just now discovering it.  We will definitely be back for more.  Sunday is a good day to visit, though next time we will come a little later and dress down.  We might even bring Zane and Arran with us!  Bring your kids and a hearty appetite!  And if you’re coming on a weekend, you might want to call ahead and reserve a non smoking spot if you require one!

The front of the awesome garten area.  The inside of the restaurant is equally inviting, though no one was really sitting in there today.  I wouldn’t have minded.  It smells wonderful in there!

On the way in…

 
 
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A “two dog night” in Riquewihr, France… part two

After we walked around Riquewihr in the afternoon heat, I told Bill I was hungry.  It was too early to check into the hotel, so I suggested that we get some lunch.  Our hotel was located right next to a quiet looking place called L’Originel (now closed).  At first, I was a little hesitant to venture inside, since we had Zane and Arran and it appeared to be an upscale eatery.  Also even though it was almost one o’clock, the restaurant was empty.  But they welcomed us and the dogs, so we sat out on their balcony and proceeded to have a beautiful midday repast.  It was way beyond what I’d hoped for at lunchtime.

Obligatory shot of Bill checking the menu.  We started with sparkling water and glasses of Cremant, a lovely sparkling wine made in the Alsace region.

The boys were accommodated with water.

The amuse.  It was a challenge for both of us.  I don’t like white truffles or anything else obviously fungal.  Bill is not a fan of soft or, as in this case, raw eggs!  Actually, we were presented with the yolk served with horseradish and a cracker.  It was surprisingly good, though I let Bill have the truffle.

We both ordered the set menu, which was priced at 23 euros and came with a starter, entree, and a dessert.  Yesterday, the starter was shrimp salad with fresh greens, melon balls, and colorful cauliflower florets.  It was just the right size and not too heavy.  We sipped a nice local Riesling.  Since moving back to Germany, we have become fans of Rieslings, which are much drier here than in the States.  This course came with very fresh white bread.

The shrimp salad was followed by this lovely dorade filet with potatoes, peppers, asparagus, celery, and carrot.  It was topped off with a reduction of white wine and broth from the fish.  Again, not too heavy and beautifully presented.  This dish came with a grain bread that replaced the lovely white from the previous course.

Dessert was a refreshing dish of raspberry and strawberry sorbet, served with wild berries and nuts.  The little white dollops are meringues.

And this sweet little ending– a lemon pudding with berries– came with the check to help soften the blow.

A picture of the business card for future travelers who want to dine there.

 

Before the tip, this lunch came to 92 euros.  It was worth it.  And I was so proud of the boys, who handled themselves so well, even when a few other diners showed up.  I couldn’t help but ask Bill why the hell we hadn’t done a one night trip sooner.  I think we will definitely do more of them for as long as we live here in Europe.

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Hamburger saga part five! Le Plat du Jour!

We got back to the Rathaus area in the early afternoon, just in time for lunch.  I was determined not to overdo it on food Sunday, though we managed to walk enough that breakfast was effectively burned off.  Several of the restaurants near the Sofitel were closed on Sunday, but we did manage to find an excellent lunch anyway when we found Le Plat du Jour.  On Sundays, they offer a three course meal for 33 euros.  Judging by the number of people sitting in the quaint front dining room, we could tell the place was a favorite with locals.  We decided to see if they had a spot for us.

I was thinking there wouldn’t be any tables available, but it turned out they had another dining room in the basement of the restaurant.  Since we didn’t have reservations, we had no issues with sitting in the “less desirable” part of the restaurant.  To be honest, I kind of liked it down there because it was somewhat more private, although there was a large group of Germans down there when we arrived– four couples with a cute little blond boy who appeared to be about four years old and tiny twin infants who looked like they had been born within the past few weeks.

Our waitress was a lovely young woman who greeted us in French and cheerfully offered us an English menu.  We mostly understood what was on the German menu, though there were a few words we didn’t know that turned out to be important, given the French penchant for serving organ meats.  Neither Bill nor I had any trouble picking out suitable dishes.  The waitress even laughed when I asked her if there were any mushrooms in the dishes I chose.

Bill tastes the wine…

I started with a fish soup.  It was velvety smooth, with the essence of fish rather than big chunks of flesh in the broth.  It was served with little pieces of toasted bread and a mustard sauce that reminded me a lot of Hollandaise if Hollandaise were made with mild mustard.  I really enjoyed the soup and was raving about it as much as Bill was enjoying his salad, which was full of very fresh field greens and lightly tossed with a creamy dressing.

Soup and salad…  Next to my bowl is a little plate with the toast and mustard sauce.  

I chose the Scampi Provencal for my main course.  It consisted of five grilled shrimps served on top of a light butter, garlic, and herb sauce and a small mound of herbed rice.  I did see very thin shavings of mushrooms in the rice, but they were easily removed and didn’t affect the way the rice tasted.  Bill had ox tail on noodles with a red wine sauce.  He had never had ox tail before and his first taste was a resounding success.  The meat was tender and succulent, shaped into medium sized balls that featured well with the tagliatelle style noodles.  We washed lunch down with a very nice French Bordeaux, expertly served by our server, and a bottle of sparkling water.

My shrimp…

Bill’s ox tail with red wine sauce…

For dessert, I had lemon mousse with orange garnish.  Bill had a cheese plate.  We capped off our meal with one last thing– double espresso for Bill and a cognac for me.

Dessert for me… cheese for Bill.

And the final bow…

Our leisurely lunch lasted a couple of hours and was a true delight.  We didn’t leave stuffed because the portion sizes were not too large and we were able to pace the meal.  The company was also delightful.  The Germans who were eating at the same time we were had brought a very well behaved dog with them who was no bother at all.  I was raving about that lunch as we left the restaurant.  When I looked it up on TripAdvisor, I saw that out of 2755 restaurants in Hamburg, it was ranked in the top 5%.  I can see why.  Yelpers loved it too!  If we ever go back to Hamburg, we must eat there again… and next time, we’ll make reservations.

If you come to Hamburg and like French food, this unassuming little bistro is a great place to dine!

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French food on Thanksgiving in San Antonio…

So, for our anniversary this year, we visited Saveurs 209, a fairly new French restaurant in San Antonio.  We enjoyed the food so much that we decided to visit again for Thanksgiving dinner.  My mother-in-law went with us for our 7:00 reservation last night.  We were the only ones there until the tail end of our meal, when a lone couple showed up.

I got all dolled up again…  I was high on cava and the fumes of my freshly colored hair…

 

My mother-in-law, Parker…  She and I started with a glass of Piper Hiesedeck champagne…

Bill peruses the menu… He chose a lovely Gigondas to pair with our Thanksgiving dinner.

A little amuse… chicken, shrimp, and cheese… I think.  It was hot and delicious.

Bill opted for the “Thanksgiving menu”, which was a corn and parmesan soup with a poached egg, turkey stuffed with mushrooms and fois gras, and a pecan and pear tart.  I also had the corn soup, though I had a filet mignon for dinner instead of turkey…

Parker had the same mushroom tart Bill had last time.  I don’t eat mushrooms, but they both said this was a delicious starter.  

Just before we began eating our main courses, a man walked into the restaurant and boldly noted that French people don’t celebrate Thanksgiving.  He started talked about “just getting out of the hole”, implying that he’d been at war or something.  One look at him told us he was no military guy.  Indeed, he appeared to be looking for a handout.  My guess is the hole he got out of was jail.  I will admit his performance was kind of impressive.  That kind of thing happens to Bill and me a lot when we go out.  The French owner very charmingly but firmly invited the interloper to leave.  I’d say that experience ranks right up there with the one we had in downtown San Antonio in July, when a bum dropped the n bomb on poor Bill…

My filet was perfectly cooked to medium and served with root vegetables and a celery puree.  This was a very interesting surprise for me.  At first, I thought one of the vegetables was potato, but it turned out to be rutabaga.  It was quite tasty.  I also enjoyed the celery puree, which reminded me of mashed potatoes but had a lot less fat and salt in it.

Bill’s turkey.  He said it was delicious.  Again, I don’t eat mushrooms or fois gras… Bill liked the way they did the turkey so much that he asked how it was prepared.  It was very moist.

Parker enjoyed the same sea scallop dish I had last time… 

For dessert, I had a strawberry tart with what tasted like strawberry sorbet.  This was really nice– not too heavy and I could finish it somewhat easily.  

Bill’s pecan and pear tart.

Parker had the hazelnut, coffee, and chocolate dacquois…

 

We finished with a round of espresso.  Service, once again, was casual yet impeccable as we were tended to by Sylvie and Sylvain, the married couple who, along with their daughter, the chef, own the restaurant.  It was a perfectly delightful meal!  We have no leftovers or clean up to do.  I hope to visit again soon!

 

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