customs

The first night of Breckenheim’s very first wine fest!

This year, we seem to be attending so many wine fests! It’s probably on account of COVID-19 restrictions finally going away. October is coming, and there may be new restrictions, based on what the virus does. For now, Germans are having their beloved festivals, and where we live, they’re all about the wine. Remember that we moved to Wiesbaden in late 2018, so we missed the 2018 season. In 2019, it was “normal”, but we were dealing with stress associated with our departure from Stuttgart that put a damper on our spirits. Then came 2020 and 2021, and fests were significantly reduced. In 2022, things have rebounded a lot.

Our little town of Breckenheim is up and coming. We just got a weekly market, which started last week, probably to justify the installation of the new public toilet (which I got to use last night). This week, had a market AND a wine fest. I anticipate that there will be a lot more socializing in our village, and it’s a great thing. I’ve stated more than once how much we have enjoyed how convivial Breckenheim is. It’s a very different, friendly, mostly inclusive vibe here that helps to make up for losing the awesome beauty of the Schwarzwald in our backyard.

Bill came home from his latest business trip yesterday afternoon. He took Arran to the vet, because he’s been a little “off” lately, plus his run ins with the hedgehog in our backyard resulted in his getting fleas. Hedgehog fleas apparently don’t infest dogs and cats like regular fleas do, but they do bite. I noticed Arran had swollen popliteal lymph nodes, too. So he got a fine needle aspirate, antibiotics, and flea meds. One of the fleas was kind enough to jump off of Arran when he was being examined. Bill said the vet, two techs, and he all worked together to corral the nasty beast so it can be studied under a microscope. I’m hoping that whatever has Arran acting odd will turn out to be related to the fleas and isn’t due to cancer. He’s about 14 years old now, and our last three dogs succumbed to cancer. Arran was a little slow this morning, but after he had some breakfast and a walk, he perked up a bit.

The wine fest is going to go on all weekend. We’ll probably go again, because we had so much fun last night. At first, there were a couple of ladies giving us the side eye when they heard us speaking English to another American. Later, our next door neighbor’s mom came over to talk to us. She went over and sat with the ladies, and probably told them we weren’t tourists. Then our landlord bought us a round of wine. And then the young family who is moving to our neighbor’s vacant apartment came over with their kids, and we had a great time chatting with them. I have a feeling they are going to be good friends. They even asked us to carve a jack o’ lantern for Halloween, because they want to celebrate it. I’m happy to do that. I’m not very good at carving pumpkins, though.

Halloween is kind of hit or miss in Germany. One year, during our first stint in Germany, we had people come to our door and we weren’t prepared. Then we weren’t home other years. Bill now picks up candy in case anyone rings the bell, but no one ever does. Looks like this year will be different. This is the same family who brought me a piece of the pretzel the other day. I found out that the mom is half Italian, which explains why she found the Stuttgart area to be less friendly. It’s my experience that Italians are stereotypically a lot warmer– sympatisch— as my Italian friend who lives in Germany would say– than people from Swabia are. At least at first. I’ve found that most Swabians will eventually warm up, once you get to know them. It just usually takes more time than it does up here in Hesse.

We were only going to stay a little while last night, then go home and have dinner, which is why we didn’t try the food vendor’s wares. Instead, we ate a pretzel with Spundekäs, which wasn’t enough… especially considering how much wine we enjoyed. There were maybe four or five wine stands going, plus live music, plenty of seating, and the new toilet, which we learned last night cost taxpayers 120,000 euros or so… No wonder so many people were upset about it and a news guy from the local radio station was asking for opinions last year! But it is a nice facility, at least for now. And it’s Kostenfrei (free of charge), which really makes it special. 😉 I tried the new toilet, but failed to lock it properly. Luckily, I was finished when someone opened the door on me and said, “Entschuldigung!” (excuse me) I suppose I’ll learn the right way to lock the door, now that the village is about to be bustling with events.

Below are some photos from last night’s fun, plus a couple of videos from Bill’s return home.

Arran and Noyzi were delighted to see Bill after his trip. So was I!
Arran had to give his favorite person a hug. I was working on my latest puzzle.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

Lunch at [M]eatery… and a run in with PETA…

Bill and I are always on the lookout for good places to eat.  We had heard a lot about [M]eatery in Stuttgart and noticed that it’s located very close to where we go to the dentist.  I told Bill we should visit over the weekend.  He told me that he’d heard that PETA was going to be protesting on Saturday.  Not knowing what kind of presence PETA has in Germany, he said maybe we should try to visit on Friday instead of Saturday.  But then it turned out [M]eatery was booked solid both Friday and Saturday nights.  So we decided to go there for lunch today and brave the PETA protest.  I grew up sorta near Norfolk, VA, which is where PETA is based, so I got a bit of a kick out of the prospect of seeing a protest here in Germany.  We heard it was only going to be about 20 people anyway.

On the way to Stuttgart, we ran into a slight traffic problem.  B28 is completely shut down for roadwork.  Consequently, a whole lot of people were trying to get to the autobahn through one two lane road via the city of Herrenberg.  It was very backed up, kind of like my colon after a Schlactfest.

On the way through backed up Herrenberg.  Two different guys on motorcycles cut in front of us.  Bill looked exasperated after the second one went and the guy casually scratched his head… but we noticed his middle finger extended.  I say, if you’re going to be ballsy enough to flip someone off, especially in a country where that’s illegal and everyone has a camera, at least do it openly.  None of this pansy ass subtle shit…

The traffic was very annoying, but didn’t delay us too much.  We got to the parking garage a few minutes after 2:00.  Our reservation was at 2:00.  The garage was packed, but we managed to find a spot anyway.

Outside at [M]eatery…

A server seated us at a comfortable two top with a nice view of the open kitchen.  We perused the very [literally] large menu.  Bill ordered wine and water.

The menu is literally big, as in it takes some coordination to hold it in your hands.  But it doesn’t have a huge variety to choose from, unless you want meat.  There are plenty of cuts of beef from places around the world with some nice sides, sauces, butters, and oils.  They also have burgers, salads, and fish dishes.  I wonder how many people ordered the Porterhouse.  It runs for about 89 euros!  
 
Though we didn’t necessarily need a menu in English, the waitress kindly gave us one.  I noticed that the weights on the beef were in ounces instead of grams, as they are on the German version.  They surely get a lot of Americans visiting them.  [M]eatery also has locations in Hamburg and Dresden.

Waiting for our first courses.  You can see the kitchen over Bill’s shoulders.  The chef was appropriately pierced, though not as much as the chef at Tommi’s.   The waitress brought out some hearty brown bread and butter.

Bill started with the “Beef Tea”, which sounds kind of gross.  Basically, it’s a soup that tastes like it’s made from the drippings of a roast beef.  He loved it.  I thought it wasn’t too shabby, either.

 

I had lobster chowder, which was rich and tasty and finished with watercress.  I didn’t eat the whole thing because I wanted to have room for my steak.  The chowder was basically good, though the potatoes were just a tiny hair underdone.  

Bill opted for a sirloin with a side of fries… The fries were a little greasy, which is kind of the way I like them.  They had a rich potato flavor, though… like they came from Idaho or something.  

 

I had the 10.6 ounce rib eye with a side each of herbed mashed potatoes and spinach.  I enjoyed my steak, though I wasn’t able to finish it or the sides.  It was the smallest rib eye they offered and cost 34 euros…  the funny thing is, I can get a similarly sized rib eye at Tommi’s in my town for about 14 euros and change.  It tastes about the same and costs less than half as much as this did.  However, I really liked the sides at [M]eatery.  The spinach was done perfectly and wasn’t too mushy and the mashed potatoes were surprisingly flavorful and comforting.  Tommi’s doesn’t offer the same sides– I usually end up with frites there, which is fine, but given a choice, I probably would choose mashed potatoes to go with a steak.  Sides at [M]eatery are four euros each.

Halfway through lunch, our waitress changed clothes and took a break.  We were then looked after by a very professional male waiter who lit up when I asked him for brandy.  He wrapped up my leftovers into a basket.  I should have taught him how to make a swan.  😉

Bill had a double espresso.

I had a heavenly snifter of Hennessy XO, which runs 25 euros a pour.  That was the midrange cognac on offer.  The cheapest was nine euros and the most expensive was 49 euros.  All three were Hennessy.  I gotta say, the XO is very nice.

 

We finished up at about 4:00.  Our original waitress had changed back into her working clothes and presented us with the check.  Our bill before tip was about 165 euros, which was slightly less than what we were expecting.  Bill was able to pay with a credit card.  After we settled our check, we headed to where the PETA protest was.  I was expecting to see a bunch of picket signs and the like.  I must say, PETA surprised me by being clever…

Look in the distance and you can see a table set up with made up young people…  They were dressed like zombies!

 

I didn’t want to get too close, though one of the zombies did hand me some literature…  Sorry these are not great pictures, but again, the protest was not very big.  Look toward the back right for black signs with purple lettering.  Some of the “zombies” were really taking their roles seriously.  Not only were they dressed the part and in full makeup, but they were even walking like something out of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

 

I walked away with the leaflet, along with my meaty leftovers from [M]eatery…  The “protest” was very low key and kind of funny.  I liked that they took advantage of Halloween to make a statement, even though I’m not a vegetarian at all…  Frankly, I kind of admire people who don’t eat meat.  Wish I wanted to do it.

The PETA literature… not nearly as offensive as a Jack Chick tract!

And next weekend, it appears that Stuttgart is going to have a big shopping event.  Since Herrenberg will likely still be STAU-ified, I doubt we’ll take advantage…  Beyond this sign, a young man was playing new age piano versions of ABBA songs.  I must say I enjoy visiting Stuttgart.  Should have done it more when we were here from 07-09.

One last Stuttgart city view…

I don’t know why, but we completely forgot about Halloween on the military installations.  We decided to stop by Patch on the way home for a pit stop and to pick up a few items from the commissary.  We were confronted by a huge line of cars and people waiting to go trick or treating.  I must admit, we saw some truly great costumes.  Bill saw one kid dressed as a Dalek, which is a character from Dr. Who, and he said the kid must be a real “geek”… but he meant that in the nicest possible way.  Bill is a geek himself and he is a big fan of Dr. Who.

Overall, we really enjoyed our lunch at [M]eatery, although to be very honest, I didn’t think the steaks were better than what we have had at Tommi’s Bistro here in Unterjettingen.  Tommi’s is also a hell of a lot less expensive, offers live music, and we can walk there from our house.  I don’t know if or when we’ll be back to [M]eatery, though I would certainly recommend it to meat lovers who are in Stuttgart.

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