Big business in Poland, part eight

Wednesday was a rather uncomfortable day. I had excruciating back pain, so I didn’t make a big effort to do a lot. However, I did have one thing on the brain all morning, and that was having another lunch at U Gruzina. I am definitely a fan of Georgian food. I also decided to be brave and order that Khatchapouri, which is also an Armenian favorite. I never ate it when I lived in Armenia because their cheese is so stinky and rank. I can’t eat stinky cheeses.

I visited U Gruzina at noon, and was their very first customer of the day. I ordered the classic khatchapouri, which is basically just fresh bread stuffed with mild cheese. It looks kind of like a white pizza. I gave some thought to getting the kind with an egg in it, but as it was, I couldn’t even finish the classic. I washed it down with a couple of glasses of marvelous Georgian wine– Mukuzhani and Saperavi, and some mineral water. Then I went back to the room to take some painkillers, read more of Elton John’s book, and take a nap.

They say that walking around is the best thing for back pain, but it really hurts to walk when my back is like this. The pain radiates to my hip, which makes every step difficult. It really sucks to get older, but then, maybe if I weren’t such a hedonist, I’d be in better shape.

Later, when Bill was finished with his work for the day, we had dinner at a really cool restaurant called Konspira. I had noticed it earlier in the week and it looked like a cozy place. I had no idea that it was a kitschy place dedicated to Poland’s years under the influence of the Soviet Union. The place was pretty busy, but we managed to score a tiny table near the bar area. I got a kick out of the murals on the walls, along with all of the communist era relics, and the funny “magazine” like menu with communist themed Polish dishes and information about those years.

At one point, we had a bit of a “waiter taste the soup” moment. The young, cheerful, energetic waitresses brought us two huge bowls of soup. The soup wasn’t for us, but even if it had been, we couldn’t eat it. Why?


Anyway, we had a good time at Konspira, and I see based on TripAdvisor, it’s one of Wroclaw’s best/most popular restaurants. To be honest, while I thought the food was good for what it was, it’s basically pretty heavy Polish food. And Polish food reminds me a lot of traditional German food. I like both, but they’re basically heavy cuisines meant for hardworking people in cold climates. Lots of meats, cabbage salads/krauts, and potatoes, as well as other root vegetables. I loved the restaurant’s theme, though, because I find the communist era of the Eastern Bloc and former Soviet Union fascinating. I would have liked to walk around the restaurant and check out all of the cool stuff they had on display.

We skipped the nightcap and went to bed early, since Thursday was to be our last full day in Wroclaw. As we were walking back to the hotel, I noticed an art gallery that offered free entry and determined that I’d be checking it out on Thursday. That’s exactly what I did, too. Stay tuned for the next post!


Big business in Poland, part three

We landed in Wroclaw a little bit late on Sunday afternoon. Our flight was delayed by about a half hour. I was feeling grouchy because, once again, we didn’t eat before we traveled and I wasn’t wanting the cheese sandwich being passed out on the plane. Fortunately, getting out of the local airport was a breeze. Wroclaw has a small but very modern airport, and it was super quick getting out of there. The cab driver spoke English and whisked us to the Sofitel Wroclaw, which was one of the hotels authorized for this trip.

As we drove into town, Bill and I marveled at how much more upscale things are looking in Poland. We knew they were coming up in the world during our last visit in 2008, but we were especially impressed by how clean and modern things are looking in 2019. It’s hard to believe that when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1995-97, Poland was a Peace Corps country. I could have easily spent two years in Poland teaching English which, by the way, just about everyone seems to speak almost fluently! We did not have that experience in Poland even in Wroclaw back in 2008. In fact, Bill and I still laugh about how, while visiting Jelena Gora in 2008, we stopped at a McDonald’s and no one there spoke any English. We had to use a picture menu to get what we wanted. This time, I have yet to encounter anyone in this town who doesn’t speak English as well as I do. Here’s a link to a story by an older Peace Corps Volunteer who served as an English teacher at the end of the Peace Corps’ time in Poland. I must admit, I could relate to his experiences, even though I was in Armenia and quite a bit younger.

Another thing I noticed, besides the excellent English skills, is that this town is full of Americans. I’m not sure if all of them are here at the same conference Bill is, but I have heard plenty of folks speaking English with an American accent. In fact, a lot of them were on the same flight we were on Sunday afternoon.

A Polish soldier was sitting at a table checking people in to the conference, so Bill approached her after he checked us into the hotel. Our room this week isn’t nearly as luxurious as the Jumeirah Hotel was, but it’s also not nearly as expensive.

After we dropped off our bags, we headed across the street for food. Wroclaw has several Georgian restaurants, including one called U Gruzina, which is supposedly fast food. I adore Georgian food, so Bill and I went in there for some substantial eats. The place was packed, so we sat at a low level table in the corner, ordered a bottle of Saperavi, and some Georgian specialties. I had Chinkali, which are basically sack shaped dumplings filled with spiced meat or cheese. They’re also very popular in Armenia, as is Khatchapouri, which is what Bill had. They had several varieties at U Gruzina. He chose one stuffed with cheese, potatoes, and bacon. I am a little shy when it comes to cheeses from Transcaucasia, since a lot of them are strong. The cheese at U Gruzina was mild… almost a bit like mozzarella.

Dinner was surprisingly economical I think we spent 125 Zloty before the tip, which is about $32. Tips are appreciated here. Most folks give at least ten percent for good service.

We walked around the big square after dinner, where preparations for the Christmas markets have been going on all week. They’re just about finished setting up as of today. Too bad we’re going to miss it. I did get some pictures on Sunday night, as well as a street performer who was eating and breathing fire most impressively. When I am back at my big computer at home, I’ll make a video and share part of his performance here.

After we walked around a bit, we stopped by a bar called Literatka. They seem to specialize in coffee, cocktails, and vaping. Fortunately, the vaping and smoking went on behind a glass wall. We had a few cocktails and listened to 80s era music. For some reason, they seemed to enjoy using passion fruit in their drinks. They were okay, but I was more impressed by the heavily pierced and tatted out waitresses, as well as the rather disappointing toilet. Ah well, it was a nice welcome to Wroclaw. The bartender spoke English and was very cute and elfin looking. She probably makes good tips.

More in the next post!


Georgian treats at Pirosmani in Frankfurt…

Bill and I didn’t go out yesterday because we were waiting for my contact lenses to be delivered. The driver didn’t get to us until late afternoon. When he did, one of the lenses was the wrong prescription. It’s very convenient to be able to order my lenses from Amazon.de without having to mess with eye exams, but sometimes there’s still human error when it comes to ordering them online.

Bill ended up making roasted red pepper and Brie soup with fresh, homemade bread. We paired it with a lovely white wine from Italy. Here are a few photos…

Although the weather is pretty crappy today, we decided to venture into Frankfurt to try a Georgian restaurant called Pirosmani. Regular readers might remember that last year, before we moved to Wiesbaden, we tried an excellent Georgian restaurant in Stuttgart called Tshito Gwrito. We were bowled over by the food at the Georgian restaurant in Stuttgart and hoped to be similarly impressed by Pirosmani. This restaurant is near the Frankfurt Zoo, as well as a large parking garage, so getting there are parking is super easy. Making reservations is also easy, since they are on OpenTable.

I lived in Armenia for two years. Armenia is just south of Georgia and the cuisine is kind of similar. I haven’t found any Armenian restaurants in Germany yet, but Georgian food is somewhat accessible. Frankfurt has at least two restaurants featuring cuisine from this country in the Caucasus. Edited to add, my German friend Susanne has done her best to find Armenian restaurants for me. They do exist here, but some of them are German or Russian hybrids.

We arrived about twenty minutes early for our 1:00pm reservation. Although the place opened for lunch at 11:30am, there wasn’t a soul in there. We had to climb stairs to get to the dining room. On the first floor, there is a cigar bar, nicely decorated with Georgian bric a brac. Georgian wines are wonderful and, I’m sure if I liked to smoke cigars, they would go very well with tobacco.

We waited in the empty dining room for a few minutes and Bill stuck his head in the kitchen to alert the staff that we were there. A small, black haired woman came out and snapped at Bill in German that she’d be right with us and not to come behind the bar. I must admit, I was a bit put off by her abrupt attitude, particularly since Bill had been friendly and we were waiting for several minutes to be acknowledged. She seemed kind of bitchy, which only invites me to respond in kind. But she ordered us to hang our jackets on the coat racks in the back of the dining room and take a seat at a two top next to a window.

I could hear Russian pop music, along with some music that could have been Armenian, Georgian, or Turkish– I couldn’t hear the lyrics closely enough to tell. I just felt like I was back in Yerevan. The dining room is very formal looking, but the music is definitely casual. Bill wanted to order a bottle of wine, but they didn’t have any that was dry. We settled on a “halb-trocken” (semi sweet) red from Georgia. Our surly waitress brought out some insanely delicious bread and butter and we ordered our first two courses.

I started with Sazivi, a cold dish of fried corn fed chicken served with a sauce made of crushed walnuts and saffron. The chicken was basically cut up, complete with bones. I liked the walnut sauce, which was a bit rich, but had sort of a spicy kick to it. I had to watch how much I ate, though, since I followed up with pork “shashlik”, basically marinated pieces of pork served with roasted and pickled vegetables. Bill had tschichirtma, a hearty chicken soup that had a whole piece of chicken in it, complete with bones. He followed it with tschaqapuli, a lamb stew in tarragon white wine brew, refined with fresh herbs.

While we were waiting, another party showed up. There were four of them, and they sat in a corner. There was another party of two at the back of the restaurant. I noticed the waitress seemed to relax a bit and warm up once she saw us enjoying the food, pictured below.

We really did enjoy the food and the atmosphere, which was kind of classy except for the table full of linens in front of our table. The waitress was rolling them into napkins. The service could have been better. The waitress didn’t replace soiled silverware, nor did she have a particularly friendly attitude. I totally understand being surly when you’re waiting tables, but I was puzzled by her lack of warmth. In my experience, Georgians are warm, like Armenians are. Oh well… maybe the yucky weather put her off.

We spent 102 euros on lunch. It was a bit pricey, particularly since it wasn’t dinner, but we had plenty to eat and the food was mostly good and a nice change of pace. The dining room seems fancier than the overall atmosphere is. I would probably go back again, although I hope for a somewhat nicer waitress. I notice they offer a business lunch deal, as well as three hours of free parking. We didn’t take them up on the free parking, although we probably should have. Maybe we’ll try Old Tiflis next time. It’s Frankfurt’s other Georgian restaurant.


Wiesbaden’s Mix Markt and a Greek lunch at Phaisto’s

The weather has gotten kind of crappy again.  It’s a bit cloudy today, although the temperature isn’t too cold and there’s been no actual rain.  Although I’m itching to visit Mainz and some of the other interesting areas around Wiesbaden, the weather kind of didn’t allow for it today.  So we decided to visit Wiesbaden’s Mix Markt, a grocery store chain that caters to Russians and people from other countries in Eastern Europe.

We discovered Mix Markt when we were still living near Stuttgart.  One of Bill’s former co-workers, who reads my blog, had mentioned that this was a store that carried products from Russia and former Eastern Bloc countries.  Because I spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Armenia, a former Soviet country, I was interested in seeing what they had there.  Mix Markt has locations all over Germany and in several other European countries.  I’ve been to the ones in Böblingen, Nagold, and now, Wiesbaden.  Each has been a bit grubby and crowded, and each has had a very interesting mix of clientele.

The markets in Nagold and Wiesbaden are pretty tiny, while Böblingen’s location is somewhat larger and has more selection.  Parking at all three of these markets is a challenge, too.  But if you like ethnic treats from Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, or any of the other formerly communist countries, it’s well worth visiting.  Bill and I like to go to there because they carry Georgian wines and Armenian brandies, as well as a number of excellent vodkas and other spirits.  And sometimes, it’s fun to remember things I used to be able to get easily.

Here are some photos from Wiesbaden’s location.  This market is in a rather “socialist” looking area.  There are lots of cookie cutter apartment buildings, although they’re all painted instead of drab grey.  It actually reminded of me of living in Armenia, although Armenia’s buildings were all made of tufa and none were painted.

Parking was somewhat challenging, although there was no charge to use the lot.  It was better than both Nagold and Böblingen, but still kind of tight.  In fact, the store was really busy today.

Every Mix Markt I’ve been to so far has had an impressive candy aisle, stocked with Russian chocolates.  There is also always a sunflower seed aisle.  Sunflower seeds are very popular snacks in formerly Soviet nations.

Beautiful cakes.  Armenia had the most beautiful cakes I’ve ever seen, but most of them tasted like sawdust, at least in the 1990s.  They may be better now.

This was what we came for…  Lovely Georgian wines!  Böblingen’s location has a bigger selection, but we were happy just to find a few bottles today.

And Armenian brandy, which is world class… some would say even better than French cognac.  Josef Stalin used to keep Winston Churchill flush with Armenian brandy because he loved it so much.  It really is good, although the brandy carried at Mix Markt is universally Proshyan, which is not as popular as “Ararat” brandy.  I usually have to order Ararat from Master of Malt.

They did have some fancy Armenian brandy bottles, though.  These make really nice gifts.

They also had Matryshka dolls…  I was tempted to get a set, since the ones I have are of former Soviet leaders and are still in storage.

Russian dominoes.

We decided to try this Turkish flatbread, but it wouldn’t fit in the bag.

It looks a lot like Armenian “Matnakar” bread, so I want to try it to see if it is like Armenian flatbread.

Lots of booze… 

And lots of people in line, with signage in four different languages.

I got a kick out of the vodka at the registers.  They even had some in “jelly jars”.  Actually, if I’m honest, it looked more like urine specimen jars.

You’d think we were going to go home and take communion.


On the way back into the city, we happened to notice a Greek restaurant that appeared to be open.  It was called Phaisto’s and had a very generous parking lot with free parking.  We arrived at 2:10pm, just fifty minutes before their pause began.  However, we were warmly welcomed and offered a nice table for two in the charming dining room.

Bill anticipates lunch.  We were both hungry.

I liked the fresh bread they brought out with red pepper spread and green and black, garlicky olives.

We both had salads to go with our meals.  I enjoyed the dressing, which was a nice herbal vinaigrette.  I actually ate most of the salad.  

Bill had the Kotopulo, grilled chicken breast on spits with Mediterranean vegetables– basically peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and mushrooms.  We also had “patates”, which were like homemade potato chips, and t’zatziki.  If this hadn’t had mushrooms, I would have preferred it to my dish…

Gyros… again.  What can I say?  Sometimes, I just want slivered pork with onions.  I have had better gyros in other Greek places, but for some reason, it seems like there aren’t as many Greek restaurants up here in Wiesbaden as there are near Stuttgart.  I was just happy to have Greek food, to be honest.  But I have had better.  This was a little dry.

I couldn’t finish all of the gyros, so we had the leftovers wrapped up and enjoyed house shots of ouzo.  Then, we paid the 42 euro bill and went on our way.  I thought the service was good and the people who were running things today were very pleasant.  Next time, I’ll have to try the dorade.

This is a nice restaurant.  Even has a play area for kids.  When the weather is regularly nice, I’m sure the outside area will be teeming with people.

The parking lot is a good selling point.

It’s a very large building, too.

On our way back home, we drove through an unfamiliar part of Wiesbaden with interesting looking houses.  Wiesbaden has some really nice architecture.  It doesn’t look at all like Stuttgart, but it’s uniformly elegant.  I just wish this area had the same gorgeous scenery Baden-Württemberg has.  Wiesbaden is prettier than Stuttgart is, but the area around Stuttgart is prettier than the area around Wiesbaden is.


Bill will be away for the next two weekends, so my travel blog may get a little boring… perhaps even more boring than usual, unless I come up with an idea for something to write while he’s gone.  Tomorrow, I’m sure we’ll have an exciting trip to the commissary so I can be stocked up for the duration.  I suppose I could venture out by myself, though.  Maybe I will… but I probably won’t.


Mixing it up at Mix-Markt– your source for products from the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe!

Recently, one of my husband’s colleagues told him about a grocery chain called Mix-Markt.  Mix Markt specializes in foods, wines, beers, and spirits from the former Soviet Union and eastern European countries like Poland and Romania.  Bill’s co-worker knows how much we like Georgian wines and Armenian brandies, so he hooked up Bill with a link and an idea for today’s excursion.

There are 297 stores all over Europe, though the chain was founded in 1997 in Örlinghausen, district Lippe in North-Rhine Westphalia.  Locally, Mix-Markt has outlets in Böblingen, Stuttgart, Tamm, Reutlingen, and Nagold.  We live very close to Nagold, but decided to visit the Böblingen store because we figured it would be more convenient to most of my regular readers in the Stuttgart area.  We were also hoping to try a new restaurant for lunch.  Below are some pictures from our little field trip.

The Mix Markt is in a rather busy area of town.  Right next to it is a Turkish market that we didn’t explore.  The Mix Markt has a lot of Turkish products, anyway.  Parking is a bit scarce in the area and the store is in what looks like a weird German incarnation of a strip mall, only instead of it being a strip, it’s more like a doughnut… shops in a circle with a small courtyard in the middle.

Impressive selection of beers from Russia, Poland, Ukraine, and Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic.  Sadly, I didn’t see any Kotayk, which is an Armenian beer.  But we came for wine and wine we found!

Mix Markt has a lot of Georgian wines, which are uniformly excellent!

And they also have Armenian brandies, although none by Ararat, which is probably the most popular Armenian brandy.

They even had Polish bison grass vodka, although I don’t think this is the stuff you can get in Poland, which actually has a blade of grass in it.  Many places, including the United States, don’t allow authentic bison grass vodka because the grass contains trace amounts of warfarin, which is a blood thinner.  This vodka was probably artificially flavored.

Armenian brandy can be purchased in fancy bottles.  You’d see these in Armenia, too.  They make interesting gifts.

Ukrainian Sekt.  I haven’t tried this, but I do remember Russian bubbly to be very sweet and cloying.  I doubt I’d enjoy this… but I might try it sometime.

Russian candy!  You can mix your own!  I never got into Russian chocolate when I lived in Armenia because I preferred the occasionally smuggled German chocolate.  But there must be Russians in Germany who miss it very much.  It smelled delicious.

Want some fish?  Mix Markt has you covered with lots of salmon and smoked fish.  You can also buy meats and sausages there.

And there’s even Uzbek canned meat called Plow.

Sausages galore, from all over…  Next to this case is one full of pretty cakes.

And there’s also Russian pop music for your collection.

There’s an entire aisle devoted to sunflower seeds, which are a very popular snack in former Soviet countries.

You can even get glass AK-47s full of booze– Polish vodka or Armenian brandy!  This might make a fun white elephant gift for your next Christmas party.

I found this candy bizarre…  It appears to be a gummy type confection, but it’s supposed to look like burgers.  Weird concept.  Who wants to eat a gummy candy that tastes like a cheeseburger?  I’m sure these are actually fruity… but maybe burgers are more fun than fruits are.  Reminded me of Bubble Burgers from the late 70s.


This wasn’t in the Mix Markt– I just remember these from when I was a kid.  Bubble Burgers were bubble gum “burgers” that came in little plastic cases.  I don’t think I ever tried one, but they probably didn’t taste like burgers, either.

They even had melons from Uzbekistan…

And brochures about trips to Russia.

This is just across the breezeway, if you’re wanting more Turkish choices.


After we picked up our haul, we headed to downtown Böblingen, parked at the Marktplatz, and had lunch at the Seegärtle Restaurant-Cafe-Bar.  This eatery overlooks the manmade lake in Böblingen.  It has a nice Biergarten, which was open today, but we decided to eat inside because it was a little chilly outside.

Bill looks at the menu, which mostly consists of burgers and sandwiches.  They also have soup, salad, and a few Swabian specialties.

There’s a bar and they played VH1 Classic videos, which I really enjoyed.  I’d rather see that than football.

I had a pastrami sandwich.  It was pretty good, with its pastrami, cheese, kraut, lettuce and “special sauce”.  I was full after half, though, since this also came with some excellent fries.

Bill had a cheeseburger.  It was supposed to be made with 100% beef, but he said it was “gemischtes”, meaning it was beef mixed with pork.  I was glad I didn’t order the burger, although he said it tasted fine.

The fries were the bomb, though.  Service was fast and friendly, too.  Total bill was 32 euros.


If it had been slightly warmer, we would have enjoyed outside dining.  I was liking the 80s era videos, though… at least until Kiss played.  Gene Simmons and his flickering tongue aren’t exactly appetizing.

As we were headed back to the car, we passed this Croatian “Feinkost”.  It’s maybe two doors from the restaurant.

We went inside and bought three more bottles of wine, this time from Croatia.  They had some interesting liqueurs, too.

This is the rest of the store.  There’s not much to it, but the lady who rang us up was super friendly.  I was glad to give her business.  They also had Croatian football fan gear.

This was today’s haul.  Lots of wine, some brandy, juice, and some mustard from Russia…

I can’t wait to see Bill try this.  I have a feeling it’s going to blow his brains out.  I once gave my Armenian neighbors quite a laugh when I tried Russian mustard for the first time.  It’s extremely hot stuff that will clear out your sinuses.


I’m looking forward to seeing the Nagold Mix Markt.  There’s also one located in our new location of Wiesbaden, so we should be well set with Georgian wine when we move north.  If you live in Europe and want a little something different, you should drop by Mix Markt for a visit.  You might find some new treats!



Wonderful Georgian food at Tshito-Gwrito in Stuttgart!

Today’s post is brought to you courtesy of Stacy, a member of Stuttgart food and wine lovers, a Facebook group for English speakers in the Stuttgart area.  A few days ago, Stacy posted about Tshito-Gwrito, a Georgian restaurant she and her husband discovered.  She remembered that I posted about how much I love Georgian wines and wondered if I’d tried this restaurant.  I must confess that prior to her post, I had no idea the place existed.  However, it took very little convincing before I was ready to drive the hour to the city to try it.  Earlier today, their official Web site was working, but right now, it appears to be down.  You can also check out their Facebook page.

I was excited to try Tshito-Gwrito, mainly because I used to live in the Republic of Armenia, which is the country south of Georgia.  Both Armenia and Georgia are Christian countries that were once part of the former Soviet Union.  Wine was pretty much born in Georgia and Armenia, although during the Soviet era, Georgia focused on winemaking while Armenia focused on producing exquisite brandy.  When I looked at the restaurant’s menu, I saw a few selections I remembered from my time in Armenia.  Their cuisines are somewhat similar.  I already knew about Georgia’s wonderful wines, which I have talked up a lot in Stuttgart food and wine lovers.  I had a feeling the food would be a most welcome change of pace.

From our home, Tshito-Gwrito is about an hour away by car.  It was a bit of a pain to navigate Stuttgart traffic and then find a place to park.  However, I am happy to report that the effort was well worth it.  We had a wonderful time at Tshito-Gwrito and we will definitely make an effort to go back.  I saw a few things on the menu I still want to try.

A couple of shots of the outside.  In warmer months, they have a Biergarten.


On weekends, Tshito-Gwrito opens at 3:00pm and stays open until midnight.  The restaurant is closed on Mondays.  Tuesday through Friday, Tshito-Gwrito opens at 5:00pm and closes at midnight; they will be open tomorrow for Easter.  Our waitress, a lovely lady who eventually confessed to us that she’s half German, half Irish, said that tomorrow they will have Georgians and Armenians having their Easter meal there.  I suspect there will be a lot of happy drunk people there giving super long toasts.  Drinking and toasting are two other things the Georgians and Armenians have in common.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there was also music and dancing.

A shot of the interior.  The dining room we were in was rather small, though they appeared to have another room to the left as we walked in.   We took a seat in a corner.  We had plenty of room, since we arrived at just after 3:00pm.  Two other parties were there with us.

Bill checks out the menu.

Our waitress spoke perfect English.  She seemed slightly relieved when I told her I used to live in Armenia and, therefore, knew about food from the region.  I’m not sure if they’ve had issues with people who don’t get the concept of food from the Caucasus region.  Personally, I thought today’s food was outstanding… in fact, I don’t remember enjoying anything as much when I actually lived in the region.  But then, that was was also the mid 1990s, which definitely wasn’t the best time to be in that area.  Things have improved dramatically over the past 20 years or so.

We ordered a bottle of Mukuzani, which is a spicy, dry, red wine made from Saperavi grapes in Mukuzani, Kakheti.  Mukuzani is aged in oak casks for at least three years longer than similar wines, which gives it a different flavor profile.  This wine was delicious, especially after it had some time to open.  The restaurant also offers Georgian wines by the glass and a range of beers and other beverages.  They have “cha cha” too, which is basically Georgia’s version of grappa.  I steer clear of it because it’s very strong stuff… reminds me of jet fuel.


The waitress explained that the restaurant prefers to serve the meals family style, which is also how it’s often done in the Caucasus.  That worked fine for Bill and me, since we like to try different things.  I hesitated when she recommended the Khachapuri, which is flat bread baked with cheese and other fillings.  I remembered the super strong cheese it was served with in Armenia.  The waitress set my mind at ease when she said the cheese they used was mozzarella mixed with a Georgian cheese.  I resolved to try it, reasoning that Bill loves strong cheese and would finish it if I didn’t like it.  We also ordered the spinach, which was basically like a spread made with walnuts, spinach, onions, pomegranate seeds, and Georgian spices.

Oh my word… I am SO glad we had the Khachapuri.  It was delicious.  It came out hot from the oven, with mild cheese that was not at all offensive to my sensitive palate.  And that spinach was also amazing.  Bill said my eyes lit up as I tasted it.

When you look at the menu at Tshito-Gwrito, in the back, you will notice a separate section called Vorbestellung.  Basically, those are dishes you can order ahead of time.  Today, they had several dishes from that part of the menu available.  One of the dishes they had was Ostri, pictured below.

Basically, the Ostri was like a tomato based beef stew.  The beef reminded me of very tender pot roast cut into chunks and mixed with the mildly spiced tomato ragu.  It was served with slices of bread that could be used to sop up the stew.  They also had a chicken stew.

And we also had Shashlik– marinated pork grilled on a spit and served with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and fried potatoes.  The shashlik came with a cold tomato sauce on the side.


When I lived in Armenia, one of my favorite treats was xhorovatz (Armenian barbecue).  It was basically meat on a stick cooked over a fire and served with vegetables and lavash.  Shashlik was a lot like xhorovatz, minus the lavash.  It was delicious!  I will admit that getting through the last course was a challenge.  I was getting full!

We took some time to finish our wine and water after we finished the shashlik, listening to the pop music and chatting with the friendly waitress, who confessed that the Georgians who own the restaurant are wonderful people.  I am not surprised.  That part of the world is renowned for its hospitality.  I am hoping we can plan a trip to Georgia and Armenia before we have to leave Europe.  I am dying to show Bill my old stomping grounds, meet up with people I know over there, and enjoy the amazing food and wine.

We finished up by splitting a Napoleon, which is basically a very light, crispy pastry filled with custard and covered with powdered sugar.  We also had espresso, which came with a little glass of sparkling water.  Napoleons are widely found in the Caucasus region and in Russia and France.


When we were finally finished after almost three hours, we owed about 81 euros.  This was a wonderful meal and worth every Euro cent.  We definitely plan to go back sometime, even though getting there isn’t that easy.  The food is outstanding and the service was charming and friendly.  Honestly, in a place where there are so many Greek, German, and Italian restaurants, it’s such a nice change of pace to have a meal in a place that serves something different.  We didn’t have a single item today that we didn’t really enjoy.

If you’re in the mood for something different, I would highly recommend making the trip to Tshito-Gwrito.  Many thanks, once again, to Stacy in the food and wine group!  One of the reasons I started that group was so that we might all make new culinary discoveries!  Today’s restaurant definitely counts as one of those!  And now I can steer people to Russian food AND Georgian food in the Stuttgart area.

I think this is my new WTF look. 

Wining and dining at Ratskeller in Tübingen

We had beautiful sunny weather today, although it was cold and kind of windy.  I got the idea to go to Tübingen to pick up some wine at Vinum Weine & Feines, one of my favorite wine stores in the area.  I wanted to see if they had any Georgian Saperavi.  It’s the only wine shop I’ve found yet in Germany that carries Georgian wines.

Before we hit Vinum, though, we needed to have lunch.  We decided on Ratskeller on a whim.  We’ve passed this place a bunch of times, but never noticed it had a restaurant.  Apparently, it’s a club that hosts bands in the evenings.  I was actually lured there by the sign below…

The sign above the bowl reads :”Bitte, hier trinken anstatt zu pinkeln.”  Translation: Please drink here instead of peeing.  I’d love to know what prompted the management to post that sign…


Today’s specials.


The front facade.  


Bill stares in wonder at the locally produced IPA he found.  It was actually very good.  He was impressed.


Nice to see the Germans getting in on making craft beers.


I had a glass of wine (grenache and syrah blend), which came with a small glass of sparkling water.  Notice under the tulip is an ad for a Jam Session.  The Ratskeller hosts bands.  I think our table was actually on the small stage.

Ratskeller seems to specialize in burgers.  They had everything from a plain ol’ cheeseburger to veggie burgers.  They even had choices for vegans.  I noticed they had a few other items for those who didn’t want sandwiches, as well as soups, salads, and specials.  Bill and I decided to have burgers, although neither of us went for the usual American beef variety.  I had a chicken burger and Bill had a vegetarian apple and cheese burger.  He said the cheese was somewhat mild and it came with a dressing and tomatoes.

Bill’s apple and cheese burger.  This was one of the weekend specials.  He didn’t realize it was a meat free sandwich, but enjoyed it just the same.  The fries were ordered a la carte and came with a “dip”.  They had ketchup and mayo, as well as a number of more exotic dips.  We both had ketchup.


My chicken burger had thin breaded chicken breast filets, sliced tomatoes, a curry dressing, lettuce, cheese, roasted onions, and pineapples.  It wasn’t bad at all, although the burger was pretty large and got kind of messy.  I couldn’t eat the whole thing.


The interior of the restaurant is pretty nice.  There’s an attractive bar area, as well as a cavernous dining room that looks like it was the old cellar.  I noticed they had lots of board games there for people to play.

The “cavern” dining room… on the way to the ladies room.


Board games for the bored.

And the bar.


I noticed there were signs posted warning clients of the patrons of date rape and sexual harassment.  Apparently, Ratskeller and other local night spots are committed to preventing their guests from being harassed.  It was translated into several languages.  I was glad to see it.

“No means no.”

In French and Arabic.

In English…

Our bill came to about 33 euros.  All in all, we enjoyed our lunch and would eat at Ratskeller again.  It has a nice atmosphere, reasonable prices, and pretty good food.  Maybe next time, one of us will brave one of the more conventional beef burgers.  After Bill paid, we headed to Vinum for wine shopping.  I snapped a few more photos on the way.

Someone has a weakness for Gremlins, Garfield, and Odie.  Guess they must be about my age.


The city square is looking fine, as usual.


I especially love visiting here when the sun is out.  Lots of people were enjoying the sun, drinking coffee and beer outside.  It was still a little too chilly for me.  I guess you can take a girl out of the South, but not the South out of the girl.

The entrance to my favorite bottle shop in these parts.  


They have whisky and other tastings, too.  We didn’t partake of any whisky today.


But if you want to try some of their wines, you can help yourself to the ones they set out.


Just grab a glass and go to town!  I only tasted two today.  I’m usually pretty shameless when it comes to tasting wines at Vinum, but restrained myself.


We did manage to score two bottles of Georgian Saperavi.  In fact, we cleaned them out of what they had on display.  I want to encourage them to stock more.  For those who are curious…

This is what we’ve picked up on our last few visits.  If you like leathery, full bodied reds with a lot of character, you may want to give it a try.


This was the total haul.  We were conservative because Bill forgot his wine bag and we are already pretty flush with vino right now.  I just got a bunch of Armenian wines from Armenian Brandy and Wines out of Belgium.


Right next to Vinum is an optical shop.  I liked the eye charts they had for men and women.

Apparently, women prefer shoes…


And men prefer beer.  Actually, I’d rather take the beer test.

On the way to the parking garage, I noticed someone was using a US mailbox.  I haven’t seen one of these in over three years.

Tübingen is always lovely, but especially when the sun is shining!  Bring on spring!


Tomorrow, it looks like we’re going to head to a place we’ve not yet been… provided the weather is decent and we get up and going in time.  We probably should have spent more time out and about today and probably would have, if not for the gusty wind!  I am so ready for better weather!


Lunch at Gaststätte Stern and liquor at Vinum!

It’s been yet another exasperating week here in Germany.  It’s a long, irritating story that I won’t get into right now, except to say that I really needed an outing today to remind me why we still live here and rent our residence.  I am 45 years old and always thought I’d own my own house by now, but circumstances have prevented that reality so far.  So here I am, putting up with shit from my landlady, who evidently thinks I’m 12 and need instructions on everything… including how to use the toilet. (I’m serious– she really did this, though it happened a few years ago.  Right now, I’m apparently responsible for acts of God.).

I do love Germany and mostly enjoy Germans, but they do have a different culture here.  Sometimes I need to be reminded why it’s good to live here.  Today, Mr. Bill and I decided to go to Tübingen, a favorite haunt when we lived here the first time, from 07-09.  I had given serious thought to going to Calw and checking out the Fischmarkt, but we were out of wine.  It had been a long time since our last visit to Vinum, our favorite place to buy wine and other delectables.  I was thinking we’d pick up some vino and have lunch.  Since we arrived at just after one o’clock, we thought it would be better to eat first.

The sign outside Stern.

Right next to Vinum, there is an Italian restaurant called Gaststätte Stern.  We had never eaten there before and, as we noticed most of the city’s eateries were full of patrons, we decided to stop in for lunch.  The outdoor tables at the front of Stern were full, so we opted to eat inside, were there were a few open tables.  Stern also has an outdoor courtyard that you have to access through the dining room.  It, too, was full of people.

We sat down and after a few minutes, a waitress brought us a menu highlighting today’s specials, as well as a wine list.  A couple of items were sold out, which was no big deal.  Service was a bit slow, mainly because the restaurant was very busy.  However, though the service was slow, the wait staff was friendly and professional.  I wasn’t hangry, so it was okay to chill with wine and fizzy water.  Here are a few photos from today’s lunch adventure.

Bill checks out the cool looking art on the wall…

Like this… it had a price tag of 28 euros.  I liked it.


I saw a few things on the menu I liked.  One was the avocado salad pictured below.  I asked the waitress if it was large and she said it was “vorspeisen”.  She brought out two plates so we could share it.  I was glad she did that…

This was a beautiful salad, but it was good that we shared it.  It was a special today, running a little over eight euros.  This salad was avocados, tomatoes, onions, basil, capers, and a little olive oil.  I don’t usually like raw tomatoes that much, but these were very flavorful and went well with the avocados.  The capers really set off the dish with their mild mustard flavor.


There was a rather lengthy wait for our main courses.  For that reason, it was good that we had a salad first, coupled with bread.  There were three or four women covering the whole restaurant and they were very busy.  While we were waiting, a middle aged lady scooted into the table next to ours.  At first, I thought she and her husband, who joined her later, were Italians.  Indeed, it looked like a few Italians were dining at Stern today.  But then she started talking and it became clear that they were Spanish.  And they had arrived at the end of the lunch rush, so several of the specials were sold out.

Bill scored one of the dishes that sold out… it had rigatoni, tomatoes, basil, and eggplant, as well as a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

I went with spaghetti with fruits of the sea.  My dish had octopus, calamari (squid), shrimp, mussels, and tomatoes.  It was drizzled with a little olive oil.  I could not finish this dish, but it was delicious.  I especially enjoyed it washed down with a little reserve Chianti.

A look at the bar area and courtyard during a lull in service.

All told, our lunch ran us about 60 euros before the tip.  That was for two entrees, a salad, three glasses of nice wine, sparkling water, and bread.  After lunch, we went next door to Vinum, which we knew would be closing at four o’clock.  After tasting a few of the wines being featured, we picked out a couple of featured bottles…

Vinum also has wines on tap.  Buy or bring a bottle and you can score a bargain.  I was also told yesterday that Vinum will accept VAT forms.  We don’t use them that often ourselves, but some American readers with SOFA status may be interested in saving the tax.


I found a nice reserve Lemberger wine from here in BW.  Then I found Bill, who was very excited…

Vinum had a couple of bottles of Georgian wine!  I used to live in Armenia, which is just south of Georgia and also has good wines.  Bill went TDY to Georgia and learned just how excellent Georgian wines are.  It was exciting to find them here in Germany!


I had to tell the Asian saleslady about why we were excited to find Georgian wine.  I also told her about Armenian brandy and that if Vinum carried it, we’d be buying it.  Right now, I order it from Master of Malt out of England.  We bought 110 euros worth of vino… then headed out of the shop, where a guy was preaching to the masses in English.

He was right by the church.

Lots of people were up in the tower, looking out over the city.

I have never seen anyone preaching in English here before.


We headed to the main square and I realized I heard a bagpiper.  Sure enough, there was a guy there playing the pipes.  I was rather tickled, since we just left Scotland ten days ago.

Then I spotted a Vom Fass!


I was pretty excited to find Vom Fass in Tübingen.  Although we’ve been to the city a few times this year, for some reason, I never noticed it before today.  I asked the saleslady how long they’d been there and she said one year and four months.  We bought three liqueurs for the next time I have PMS.  And we promised the saleslady we’ll be back!

You can buy one of these bottles or bring your own and fill up for a bargain.  Or you can buy pre-bottled stuff, like we did.  They have oils, vinegars, wines, and spirits.

After we left Vom Fass, we ran into a guy blowing big bubbles…

But not before we walked down a quaint alley.



Probably the best bubble pic I got.

Here he was, playing for the folks eating Italian and/or doner kebab.

We passed this vegetable stand on the way to Die Kelter, where we stopped for one last pee break and a round.  

Here’s a sign reminding people not to cross the street unless they see the green man.  Remember, children are watching!

We managed to get all the way home before the rain started coming down.  I am now sitting here thinking we’ll have to enjoy some of that vino we picked up today.  I love visiting Tübingen.  It always reminds me why I like living in Germany.