Lunch at Mangia, Mangia in Kronberg…

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Although we had wonderful weather again yesterday, Bill and I never managed to venture out anywhere. Instead, we stayed home and enjoyed our usual backyard wine and music. Bill also made a “savory cheesecake”, which was something I used to serve when I worked lunch shifts at The Trellis in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Trellis was started in 1980 and run by Marcel Desaulniers, John Curtis, and for some years, the late Tom Powers. Mr. Powers eventually divested himself of his share of the restaurant and opened a competitor, The Fat Canary, which is still running and very popular. When I worked at The Trellis, Mr. Powers was already out of the partnership.

Anyway, a savory cheesecake is a cheese based pastry… but it’s “savory”. It’s a cheesecake made with cream cheese and some other kind of cheese. In our case, we used Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese, but in Marcel’s cookbook, it calls for Dry Jack and Gruyeres cheeses and at the restaurant, they made it with cream cheese and Swiss.

Bill tries his hand at cheesecake. Yes, it looks like a sweet cheesecake, but it’s not… and it’s not a quiche, either. It’s cheese based, not egg based.

While we were enjoying the cheesecake, Bill asked me if I would like to go out to lunch today. I said that would be fine, so we made reservations at Mangia, Mangia, an Italian eatery in Kronberg im Taunus, which is just on the outskirts of Frankfurt. Kronberg is right next to Koenigstein, which is where I had my birthday lunch in June, and not at all far from Bad Soden, a spa town that also has an Italian steak house and rib joint called Rocco’s Italian Grill.

Our reservation was at 1:00pm. We live about twenty-five minutes or so from Kronberg, so I had to hastily wrap up my guitar practice so we could get there on time. We needn’t have been so concerned. Although the terrace was bustling when we arrived, there were many tables available indoors. We decided to sit outside and enjoy the last days of summer before the weather turns to shit. There’s a parking garage very close to the restaurant, as well as an outdoor lot right by the restaurant itself.

Here are some photos from our visit.

Lunch was very good, although I probably wouldn’t get the Smokey Avo Burger again. I’m pretty picky about my burgers. Bill loved it, though, and ate what I didn’t want, as well as his own pasta dish. I think next time, I’ll go for a pasta dish or maybe grilled dorade or salmon. The pizzas also looked great, but they’re always too big for me. Despite appearances to the contrary, I don’t generally eat that much. I just drink too much. 😉

Service was a little slow, but basically friendly. I enjoyed watching and listening to the people around us. I noticed a lot of people who were there were Italians, which is always a good sign in an Italian restaurant. On Sundays, they offer non-stop service, though they take a pause on other days of the week. The inside of the restaurant is very modern and kind of glam. It looked a little like it was influenced somewhat by American tastes. The pizza bread burger buns are unique.

I noticed a young couple who appeared to be on a first or early date. They looked like they might be teenagers. It reminded Bill and me of when we had our first date, although we were well beyond the teen years when that happened. It’s hard to believe that this year, we’re going to celebrate our 18th anniversary.

After we ate, we decided to take a walk through the very quaint town, which reminded me a little of Ribeauville in Alsace, France. There are many beautiful half-timbered buildings and interesting architecture. I guess Kronberg was not too badly decimated during World War II. Here are some photos…

On the way back to the car, I noticed the garage had a pay toilet. Since I drank water and wine at lunch, I decided to spring for a pee before hitting the road. The WC wasn’t too dirty, but there was a lot of graffiti. Since I know I have at least one German reader who enjoys reading the public’s thoughts on things, here’s what was written on the walls. Who says Germans can’t be crass?

Kronberg begs for a return visit and further exploration. As nice as Hofheim was last weekend, I think I might like Kronberg even more. It’s a very ritzy town. Too bad we couldn’t take the Mini. It needs gas and air in the tires, which Bill will take care of tomorrow. Then, he’s off to Stuttgart to attend to business for a few days. Whoopee. Guess I’ll play Sims 4 and watch more Call the Midwife.

Lunch in lovely Hofheim!

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We have pretty weather today, so Bill asked me if I wanted to go out. I did want to go out, as I have a bad habit of being reclusive when I should be out enjoying Germany. Unfortunately, Aunt Flow showed up this morning… about a week delayed. I was hoping for a reprieve but– NOPE– no such luck. It always happens on a Saturday, too.

Anyway, I mention Aunt Flow only because we were on our way to Hofheim in my Mini Cooper convertible (which really needs to be driven more), when I realized I had forgotten to arm myself with the necessary feminine hygiene supplies. Fortunately, Hofheim has a very nice Edeka located in a shopping mall that has a nice parking garage with low rates. We parked there, stopped by the store, visited the restrooms (50 cents), then took a stroll through Hofheim, which is one of the nicest towns near where we live.

A few months ago, when we tried and failed to adopt a dog from a German pet rescue, I joined the Wir in Hofheim Facebook group. It was one of many groups I joined in an attempt to try to locate the dog we hoped to adopt who escaped from his pet taxi as he was being unloaded. Unfortunately, the dog met an untimely end on the Autobahn, but I stayed in the groups, anyway. The Wir in Hofheim group is one of my favorites. I regularly follow it, because there’s a lot of helpful information in it and the people are very nice. It was from that group that I got the idea to go to Hofheim.

It’s not that we hadn’t been there before. Bill and I visited the outskirts when we first moved up to the Wiesbaden area and ate in a now defunct Italian place. Bill also visited the town to get take out for us when the COVID-19 restrictions were very strict. Unfortunately, one of the places we discovered in the spring, Blanca Bistro, is now closed. We passed by there today on our way into the old town. I was sad to see it sort of abandoned… there’s still liquor and glassware in there, and signage is still up, but the restaurant stopped serving food a couple of months ago. Several places have had to close due to COVID-19, including the excellent German place near our house. We only ate there one time because it was always packed! But it couldn’t keep going during the pandemic.

We did manage to find lunch, though. We ate at Ristorante L’Opera, an attractive establishment in a little alcove on the main drag. No one else was there when we arrived at about 12:30pm, but we were soon joined by a German couple who enjoyed smoking.

Bill filled out the contact tracing paperwork and the waiter handed us the laminated menus, obviously much abbreviated compared to normal. There were still a few dishes that were attractive, as well as some specials that were advertised on a sandwich board by the passage. Unfortunately, the uncomfortably narrow chairs, which are the kind often found at gelaterias, reminded me that I probably ought to cut back on my groceries.

I don’t usually get pizza in Germany, mainly because it’s always more than I can finish and I don’t always like the kinds of pizzas that are available. I will say that today’s pizza was excellent. I especially enjoyed the crust, which was absolutely perfect! I’m sure they have a pizza oven to get such perfection. Light, yet chewy with a slightly crisp crust, delicious mozzarella cheese, and a light layer of tomato sauce made that very simple pizza creation a delight! And I even skipped the meat.

Bill enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich, which had a housemade bun. He especially liked the slaw, though. Bill likes cabbage very much. I noticed he cleaned his plate, while I had leftovers, which our attentive server was happy to wrap up for later.

The bill for lunch came to about 41 euros. Bill gave the guy 45, and we took a walk around the town. Hofheim is maybe nine kilometers from where we live, but it’s very charming. We probably ought to visit more often, if only because we like the Edeka better than Rewe.

Anyway… it wasn’t long before we needed to head home and rescue Arran from his loneliness. Although Hofheim isn’t a substitute for some of our favorite little towns in Baden-Württemberg, like Nagold, Esslingen, Ludwigsburg, and Tübingen, it’s not a bad place to spend a couple of hours. There are several nice restaurants there, charming ambiance, places to shop, and enjoy the last days of summer. I’m glad we took the time to go there today… and for any readers who are looking to move to Wiesbaden, this is one town I would recommend seeking a home nearby. It’s a very pleasant little hamlet.

My pandemic birthday… part four

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Naturally, we needed to go out to eat for my birthday. We usually like to choose a nice dinner spot, but thanks to the pandemic, that’s become a more complicated endeavor. For instance, last year, Bill took me to Ente, a Michelin starred restaurant in Wiesbaden. I liked Ente fine, but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to eat there again.

We decided to have lunch over dinner because when we made the decision, I was legitimately hungry. So was Bill. Hanging out at the Therme had brought on an appetite. We went on OpenTable.de and I found Lucullus, in Konigstein im Taunus, an adorable little town we had not been to prior to yesterday. It specializes in fine Italian cuisine, which is definitely not necessarily what many Americans think of as “Italian”. The dress code said “smart casual”, so we got cleaned up and slightly dressed up. Bill wore a nice shirt and pants and I wore a dress. And then we went and sat on their very nice terrace and proceeded to enjoy a beautiful two hour lunch.

Lucullus was somewhat different in how it handled the contact tracing requirements. There’s a QR code on the table. You use your phone to scan it after you download an app (or Bill did, anyway). It records your info and that’s that. Very simple, and takes only a couple of seconds. With that done, we had some fizzy local water, a beautiful, leathery, tobacco-ey Montalcino, and warm bread while we decided on lunch. The menu is on a piece of paper that doubles as a placemat. Here are the photos:

The wait staff was very attentive and friendly. Everybody working wore face masks, but at one point, I got up to pee during their pause (we were finishing up) and the waiter laughed and said I didn’t need a mask because there was no one in the indoor part of the restaurant. Awesome! I really liked the interior of the place, too. It was very stylish and homey, but in a cool, Italian way.

For dessert, against my better judgment, I had the dreaded lava cake. Lava cakes taste good, but everyone does them. I give bonus points to restaurants that serve a regular slice of cake. They didn’t have that, though, so I gave in… it came with a scoop of caramel ice cream, which was a bit melted by the time it got to me. Bill loved his choice, a caramel creme with a scoop of mandarin sorbet scented with a hint of sage, which gave it a fascinating flavor…

The bill came to about 150 euros. By the time we were done eating, it was getting close to 4:00pm, so we didn’t need much for dinner. I really enjoyed our lunch. I probably loved it even more than usual, since we’ve not been able to dine out in so long. The town was full of people, too. Many were walking around maskless. I did see one elderly lady with a face shield as opposed to a mask, as well as a restaurant worker with a shield that covered the bottom half of his face instead of a mask.

I got lots of photos, too… of people just enjoying life and the beautiful sunny weather and mild temperatures.

After lunch, we went back to the hotel. Bill did a German lesson, and I tried to read a news article about Tiffany Trump and promptly fell into a deep sleep. I guess the lunch and the sudden exposure to society wore me out… But it was a delightful afternoon, followed by another night at the Panorama Bar, where we were warmly welcomed. We drank beer instead of cocktails, which seemed to disappoint the wait staff. But we had a light dinner and tipped well, and as we were leaving, the waitress asked if we’d be back tonight. We told her we live only twenty minutes away… and you know, I think I would go back to that hotel for a night or two of fun. Why not?

More takeout from La Fonte

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Here’s another quick post during our self-imposed lockdown. Things have loosened up a bit here in Wiesbaden. We’re now allowed day trips in Germany, but I’m still not really wanting to venture out. Instead, I’ve been playing my new guitar every day, building up calluses on my fingers. I’ve made some progress, although I’m nowhere near ready for anyone other than Bill to hear me play. I made one music video this week. Singing well is a lot easier for me than guitar playing is. Bill says he might like to pick up guitar himself… if he does, I think I’ll get myself a Fender for my birthday.

Anyway, we did get some takeout last night. Bill had a frustrating week, mostly spent working from home. We decided to call on our neighborhood Italian restaurant, La Fonte, which we’ve only dined in at one time. They have good food. Lots of pizza and pasta on the takeout menu, but I remember when we ate in the restaurant, they had other stuff. I seem to remember having salmon the first time we ate there. It was Christmas time and they gave us a pannetone, which was really yummy!

Last night, I had black tortelloni with scallops, sugar snap peas, and baby shrimp. I think there were four tortellonis, and Bill and I each had one. It was plenty. Bill also got a pizza with ham and pepperoni wurst. Pepperoni in Germany is a pepper, but you can get pepperoni wurst, which is the sausage we Americans know so well. I’m slowly getting used to German style pizza made by Italians… it’s only taken six years. Bill butchered his German as he called in the order, but they all speak English at La Fonte anyway.

By the way, we learned last night that there’s a difference between tortelloni and tortellini. Tortelloni is bigger and sealed somewhat differently, although they’re both basically the same thing.

Here are a couple of photos.

The weather has been really pleasant lately, although we could really use some rain. Our rain barrel is almost totally depleted. Bill’s vegetables are growing and some might even survive long enough for harvesting.

I don’t know what we’ll do today. We probably could go out and do something fun… but I’ve kind of lost my mojo lately. It would probably do me some good to go out and see the world again. Maybe later.

A mighty meaty meal at Rocco’s Italian Grill & Bar in Bad Soden…

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Today, Bill and I finally ventured out for lunch again. Regular readers might remember that we had Greek food a couple of weeks ago. Since then, the weather got mostly crappy and we didn’t feel like going out in the rain. We didn’t go out at all last weekend and this weekend, which was actually three days because Bill took Friday off, we just went out today.

I had noticed Rocco’s Italian Grill & Bar on OpenTable.com a few times, but knew nothing about Bad Soden, the town where it’s located. Bill noticed it for the first time today and decided that we’d visit today. I’m so glad he did. We had a great time there!

Bad Soden is a spa town not far from Frankfurt… maybe about twenty minutes from where we live. That’s another plus. Actually, that’s a major plus for most everything up here. For once, we don’t live way the hell out in the boonies and can get to Wiesbaden and Frankfurt with ease. It’s a nice change of pace. As we drove into it, we could see that it had the look of a vacation town. The architecture is kind of quaint, particularly for this part of Germany, and there are a lot of upscale shopping venues and restaurants.

The restaurant is near the church… you might need to give thanks to God for a meal at Rocco’s.

There’s a very convenient parking lot near Rocco’s, which we took advantage of with ease. A very friendly young waitress greeted us as we entered Rocco’s just in time for our 1:00 reservation. We had a choice of sitting in the bar area at a “high top” table or at a standard table in the dining room. They also have an outdoor area for warmer weather. I liked the music– it was kind of mod dance music, like one might hear at a fashion show. I especially loved the inviting bar, which was huge and featured lots of high end gins, plenty of excellent wines, and even a few speciality liqueurs.

Our waitress spoke excellent English, but gamely indulged Bill’s desire to practice German as she also willingly accommodated my English. Menus are available in German and English. We used the German ones.

I noticed Richard Wagner, because I am a music enthusiast… made a mental note to check the sign closer after we ate.
Info for the locals… I was impressed because this place really was Italo-American style. I don’t think I have encountered beef ribs at any other eatery in Germany.

Bill ordered us a bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of Barbera. Rocco’s has an impressive wine list, which included one bottle that sells for 500 euros. The menu was unique and appealing, particularly for Germany. They offer a number of beef dishes… and the beef is American. They have beef short ribs, flank steaks, and rib eyes. They also have pizza, pasta, and pulled pork! It had been ages since I last had beef ribs, so that’s what I ordered. Bill went with a 300 gram (the smaller) rib eye steak.

When the food arrived, I was delighted by how good the ribs were. Seriously… it’s been ages since I last had beef ribs and it’s not something I would ever expect to find in Germany, let alone enjoy. They were great! I couldn’t finish them, so I had the leftovers packed up for tomorrow. I doubt I’ll need any more food today. Bill was equally impressed by his steak. It was covered with Italian herbs and cooked to medium perfection.

I noticed the menu had a few Mexican inspired dishes as well as a few options for vegans and vegetarians. However, I wouldn’t say this restaurant would be a hit with non meat eaters. You can find something to eat there, but it seems to cater more to carnivores… particularly beef lovers. I saw some impressive looking cocktails, too.

We were keen to try dessert, so after a round of espresso, I had the “Black and White”– a scoop of chocolate mousse and a scoop of white chocolate mousse. Bill had “Pistachio cake with Bourbon Vanilla ice cream”. The Pistachio cake was kind of like lava cake. Regular readers know how I feel about lava cake… although at least this one wasn’t chocolate! Bill enjoyed it and I liked the taste I tried. They also had a small surprise dessert in a glass available, as well as cheesecake and cheese courses.

When it came time to exit, Bill paid cash, but he could have used a credit card. All told, it was an excellent meal and a really great afternoon in a town we need to explore more. Bad Soden may even invite us for a spa weekend… even though we only live about twenty minutes away!

I know a lot of my readers are in the Stuttgart area, but if you’re coming up here for business, this may be a town worth a visit. And if you live up here and want some beef, check out Rocco’s Italian Grill & Bar. We’ll definitely be back for more… but not before we check out some of the other interesting looking restaurants in Bad Soden!

Burrata brings people together at Momo’s Osteria und Restaurant!

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My neighbors have a sense of humor… I spotted this while walking Zane and Arran yesterday.

Because we’re going on vacation tomorrow, I told Bill I needed to stop by AAFES. I have a couple of dresses I plan to wear on our cruise that require pantyhose. I don’t often wear hose anymore, even on the rare occasions when I do dress up, but there will be a couple of “gala” nights during which Bill will be wearing his kilt. I don’t want him to upstage me too much.

So we went to the PX. I got a pair of tights and two pairs of hose in the largest size I could find… because if I have to wear hose, I don’t want to feel like I’m stuffed in sausage casing. Bill got some socks and I got more face cream to help stave off wrinkles for as long as possible. Once we were finished with our chore, Bill proposed having dinner downtown.

We rarely go out to eat during the week, so I decided I wanted to go somewhere we don’t usually go. I remembered a side street off of Wiesbaden’s big square that had a couple of restaurants we’d never tried. Although there was some building construction going on next to Momo’s Osteria und Restaurant, a barrier was put up and they were fully open for business and welcoming. We took a seat and quickly decided on what we were having.

A long haired, swarthy gentleman who appeared to be Italian, came over and asked, “Deutsch?”

“American.” I said kind of sheepishly. “But it’s okay, we can read the menu.” The specials were in German, but the actual menu had most everything translated anyway. An attractive blonde woman who spoke English came over and took our orders. She brought us warm bread, spicy olives, and olive tapenade to go with our primitivo and San Pellegrino.

Spicy olives! And salty olive tapenade…
I liked the bread. It was served warm, which is kind of a rarity over here.

I decided to have taglatelle with cubed salmon and a light tomato sauce. Bill had linguini with strips of beef, vegetables, chilis, and Parmesan cheese. The food was good– your basic Italian fare. I particularly liked the salmon, which was cooked perfectly and melted in my mouth. There’s a real trick to getting salmon to turn out moist rather than dry and tough.

I know… I always seem to go for pasta with salmon. I really like fish.
Bill enjoyed his dish, but I preferred mine. I think the fish is better than German beef.

About halfway through our dinner, another couple sat down next to us. I immediately noticed the man was wearing a metal bracelet, the same kind people wear to remember Vietnam veterans. They could have passed for German, but then I heard them speaking and they were Americans all the way. They were trying to figure out the menu and Bill overheard the lady talking about burrata, which I just had a few days ago at Little Italy. I don’t usually go for cold cheeses or raw tomatoes, but I must admit I have become a fan of burrata ever since we first tried it at Osteria da Gino’s in Nagold. Incidentally, we made new friends that night, too! Burrata brings people together!

The woman seemed confused about what burrata is, so Bill interjected into their private discussion. He explained burrata, but then I asked, “You did say burrata, right? Not dorade?”

The woman smiled and said, “Yes, burrata.”

“Because dorade is fish.” I clarified.

Next thing we knew, we were getting to know this couple, who had come to Wiesbaden to find their next home. She’s taking a job on Clay Kaserne and he’s probably going to telework… or, maybe he’ll do what I do. It sounded like he wanted to keep working… or maybe felt like he should keep working. But then he said he didn’t have to, especially since he’s retired from the military and presumably gets paid to get up in the morning. The couple has a young son who will be joining them when they make the move. Frankly, if I were him, I’d take the golden opportunity to bond with the boy and show him Europe. But then, I have never been known for my puritan style work ethic. I don’t believe life should be entirely about work.

We spent a good hour or so chatting with our new acquaintances, trading stories. It turns out we’ve been a lot of the places they’ve been, and in fact, we were even in some of the same places at the same time. They surprised me by knowing the town where I grew up, having visited the campground there. I went there myself as a youngster; my dad bought a VW pop top camper and we spent the night at that campground to try it out, even though we were locals.

Our new friends decided to go have gelato at Wiesbaden’s best ice cream joint, so Bill and I shared a Ramazotti on ice after we paid the check. “Once again,” I mused, “I had a feeling about a certain place. We go there to eat, and we’ve run into new people.”

I have a weird knack for either making new friends in restaurants or running into people whom I either used to know or who know someone I know. Once, when we were in San Antonio, I ran into a guy and his wife I had met in 1994, when we all worked at a summer camp in tiny Star Tannery, Virginia. We hadn’t seen each other in almost 20 years.

Another time, while waiting tables, I met a couple from Belfast who happened to be neighbors with a friend I met at the same summer camp. He’d come to Virginia to work, and left with an American girlfriend, who eventually married him. They now have six children and live in Belfast. What are the odds I would have met my Irish friend’s neighbors while waiting tables at one of Williamsburg, Virginia’s many restaurants? But this kind of thing happens to me all the time. It’s one of my many quirks.

A few years ago, in Herrenberg, Germany, Bill and I ran into our former neighbors from the first time we lived in Germany. They immediately recognized me, but it took me a minute to remember them. I never did know their names, although I used to talk to the English speaking daughter and son-in-law all the time. We bonded over our old beagle, Flea, who was in love with their little boy, Robin.

We made our way back to the car, passing a bizarre looking Gucci display in which one of the headless mannequins appeared to have forgotten something important…

No pants!

We also ran into some wildlife… many geese and rabbits enjoying their evening meal, completely unbothered by people or predators. We used to see hares a lot in our last town, but here in Wiesbaden, it appears that rabbits are king.

There were dozens of geese last night!
“What’s up, Doc?”

Well, that about does it for today’s post. I may or may not do much writing while we’re away. Depends on my mood and whether or not I think it’s worth bothering. I will be writing about the cruise when we return, though, and I’m sure it will be epic.

Another delightful Sunday lunch at Little Italy in Wiesbaden…

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

Bill looks at what’s being offered…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The prettiest view in Eppstein… Ristorante Kaisertempel

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After last night’s wonderful dinner and our outing to the Fasanerie, Bill and I decided we’d take another trip to lovely Eppstein.  I wanted to explore the temple on the side of the mountain I noticed when we visited Eppstein Castle a couple of months ago.

The Kaisertempel.  Right next to it is a very nice Italian restaurant called Ristorante Kaisertempel.

After a rather scary, white knuckle ride up a steep, narrow, mountain pass, we came to the restaurant, a large, charming building with a stone oven for pizzas and a full bar.  The area is full of walking trails, so there were plenty of bikers and hikers, although there are precious few spots on the narrow road that make it easy to pass cars going the opposite direction.  It wasn’t a problem when we went up the mountain, but it was when we came back down.  In any case, we had a very lovely lunch.  Here are some photos.
My very first view of the view… Absolutely stunning!

They ask for a small donation at the door.


A little info in German…
The inside of the temple, which opens out into Eppstein’s most beautiful view.
What the temple looks like from the lookout point, where there’s a telescope and a bench for taking in the gorgeous panorama.
We spent a few minutes gazing at the beautiful landscape, then went to the restaurant.  We didn’t have a reservation, although I have read they are a good idea to have, especially at dinner time.  They don’t take a pause.
The inviting front door.  You pass the bar and the stone oven before you enter the beautiful dining room.  I wouldn’t have minded eating in there, but of course the weather was fine.  We sat outside, right next to the soul stirring view.

The menu had a number of options.  There were a few pasta dishes, pizzas, and main courses like steak and fish.  They also had a special fixed price meal that could be ordered in courses or on their own.
I decided to have lasagne.  It was very good… maybe not the best I’ve ever had, but definitely tasty.  It was Bolognese style, with bechemel sauce and ground beef.
Bill had a buffalo mozzarella pizza.  It was delicious!  I don’t usually go for pizzas in Germany, but the crust on this was magnificent.  We paired our dishes with the usual sparkling water and a glass each of Montpulciano.

Total bill came to about 45 euros.  Bill gave them 50 and asked them to keep the change.  Then, we took the white knuckle ride back down the mountain.  Kudos to the guy who was coming up as we were going down.  He backed much of the way down the last stretch of road so we could pass.  It really is a scary drive up, but well worth it at least once, if only to see the views.  It’s gorgeous up there. There was a nice breeze and it was noticeably cooler, too.  
I could see it’s a very popular place for bikers and hikers, but there was plenty of free parking available.  I’d go back, as long as someone else does the driving.
Eppstein is so beautiful!

A day in Bacharach…

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After last week’s trip to Eppstein to see the castle, I thought maybe we might want to go to another castle this week.  But Bill had other plans.  Elton John is going to be playing a concert tonight in Wiesbaden and since we saw him in Stuttgart and have no desire to sit in Staus from Hell again, we decided to avoid the city.  Remembering a lovely day we spent in the Rhein-side hamlet of Bacharach, back in 2014, Bill decided we should visit there again.  I was game.  Bacharach has the distinction of being the very first German town I ever laid eyes on, back in 1997.  It’s an adorable place, even if there’s not a lot to it.

On the edge of town.

We didn’t really do a lot in Bacharach other than wander around, take pictures, eat lunch, and have beer at a Biergarten.  We were blessed with wonderful weather– much better than what we had when we visited in 2014.  I don’t have much to write… but I do have lots of pictures.  Feast your eyes on this cute little historic town, located about an hour away from Wiesbaden.  It’s nice to be so close!

If castles are your thing, you could do worse than visiting Bacharach or any of the other cute little towns near it, like St. Goar.  There are many castles around the area.  I caught these photos on the ways in and out of town.

Lots of pretty vineyards, too.  Bacharach’s Schloss is now a youth hostel that sits majestically on a hillside overlooking the town.

You can see the hostel in the background.  I stayed in a lot of hostels during my 1997 epic train trip through Europe, but I didn’t stay at Bacharach’s.  I think I was intimidated by the climb up the hill.  Bacharach’s hostel is in the historic Burg Stahleck Castle, which dates back to the 12th century.

When I stayed in Bacharach, I stayed at the Hans Dettmar B&B.  I was excited because the room came with a shower and a WC.  My standards have changed a lot since 1997, but so has my budget.

Our first order of business was to find something to eat.  Bacharach was busy with tourists today, most of whom were sitting outside.  We didn’t necessarily want to eat outside, although on a warmer day, it’s nice to be in the open air.  I have to balance wanting to be cool and wanting to stay out of the sun.  We ended up having lunch at a garlicky smelling place called Pizzeria Pippo (or Pippo Bistro, depending on what sign you’re reading).  Based on the decorations on the walls, I would guess it’s owned by Sicilians.
Cheers!
They had lasagne on the menu that looked tempting, but they weren’t offering it today.  I had spaghetti with “Lachs”– salmon and onions.  It was okay, though I have had better.
Bill went with the daily special, housemade tagliatelle with tomatoes, herbs, and cream sauce.  He seemed to enjoy his dish more than I liked mine.  

While we were sitting there, an English speaking group of 7 showed up.  They were making special requests.  Kudos to the waitress for handling it so well.  I think if we go there again, I’ll try a pizza.  They have a stone oven and the sizes looked manageable.  As it was, I managed about half of my dish, while Bill finished his.  We spent 37 euros.
After lunch, we wandered around… toured a church, strolled by the river, and wished we had more time to take a cruise.  The breeze coming off of the Rhein was lovely.
Check out those pipes!
This is different.  I probably would have kept going to church if we’d had one of these where I used to attend.
Literature lovers will enjoy this…
Another shot of the hostel/castle.
Boat schedule.  We’ll have to make a point of coming up and spending more than a couple of hours.  
The town itself is super cute.  And if you want to buy some wine, you can easily accomplish that.
I would actually love to find a little vacation apartment and come up for a long weekend with the dogs.  Bacharach is not that far from Wiesbaden, but it feels like a world away…  this is the kind of place we love to visit on weekends.  The Black Forest area is chock full of them, but we’re still trying to make discoveries up here in Rheinland.
We stopped at a Biergarten– the Kleines Brauhaus at the Rhein Theater— where we had a memorable afternoon in 2014.  We happened to visit on German Father’s Day, and there were many fathers and sons at this Biergarten, getting loaded and singing songs…  It was such a special memory for us that we decided to go back.
They had a full house.  We had to wait for someone to vacate a table under the carousel canopy.  One young lady– looked about seventeen or so– was bravely handling all of the orders.  She was remarkably chilled out. 
I had a Bacchusweizen Krug.  When it arrived, the Germans at the next table looked at me with bemusement.  Maybe it’s not very ladylike to order a liter of beer.  Maybe it’s not smart, either, since it will get warm if you don’t drink it fast enough.  Believe me, I’m up to the task.  This beer was a little bitter.  I liked Bill’s 1489 Dunkelweizen better.
In the foyer of the theater.  I took this same photo in 2014, which you can see on the post I linked at the beginning of this post.  I see they’ve added a safety vest.  
Someone started up this calliope.  Pretty cool!
I do like the Rhein Terrasse.  We didn’t make any new friends here this time, like we did in 2014, but it was still a pleasant place to kill an hour or so, before we decided to go home and feed the dogs.

We’re supposed to have similarly beautiful weather tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll visit that castle I was thinking about.  Or maybe we’ll do something else entirely.  I’m just glad we aren’t sitting in traffic.
On the way out…

Hedonist’s dream– two naked hours at the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme and lunch at La Cantinetta

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Back in November 2018, Bill and I celebrated our 16th anniversary in Baden-Baden.  While we were there, we tried the all nude Friedrichsbad Irish Roman Baths.  When we told people we were moving to Wiesbaden, they nodded knowingly, since Wiesbaden is known as a “spa” town.  In fact, the best known spa in these parts is the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme, which is an Irish Roman bath hall, sort of like Friedrichsbad, only smaller, less crowded, and significantly cheaper.

I had reviewed Friedrichsbad on TripAdvisor and someone who read my review and travels to Germany often on business, asked me if I’d had the chance to go to the spa in Wiesbaden.  I’m sad to report that although Bill and I are quite assimilated to being naked in front of German strangers, today was our first time visiting.  In fact, the TripAdvisor guy went to the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme before I did, and he lives in the United States.

Nevertheless, today was our day to go.  Bill was, as usual, a little bit reluctant.  Once we were there, he loved it as much as I did.  One thing I like about this particular Therme is that not only is it historic, it’s also kind of low key.  The facilities are on the old side and it’s not the biggest, fanciest, spa, but it has many historic elements.  It’s also inexpensive and, at least today, not that crowded.  I’m sure it fills up when the weather isn’t so beautiful.

This was the best I could do for photos.  It’s a nude spa, so I wasn’t going to bring my camera in there.

 

The first thing to know about this spa is that it’s entirely textile free.  Do not bring a bathing suit, because they are not allowed– EVER.  In fact, there’s even a sign on the reception desk in English and illustrated with pictures of bathing suits with red lines through them.  Do bring towels, a robe, and shower shoes.  I usually bring two big towels and a robe, just in case one of the towels gets too wet to dry off with.  If you don’t have a towel or a robe, you can rent them.

The next thing to know is that you can book packages or simply pay by the hour, settling up your bill on your way out of the spa.  It was our first time, so we just went in, wearing the customary wristwatch one gets at German spas, and found a locker.  You can choose whatever locker you want, change in the privacy of a stall in the unisex locker room, and use your watch to lock the locker.  Take a quick shower in the men’s or women’s shower (which seems kind of silly, since everyone’s naked anyway), and make your way into the spa area.

The first thing you’ll see is the pool pictured below…

This iconic pool is pictured on everything advertising this Therme. 

 

The Therme has a very small parking lot, so we parked at a garage a couple of blocks down.

You should know that the big pool is COLD.  There’s a much smaller hot pool, which reminds me of a baptismal font, just behind the big pool.  Save them for the end of your time.  I noticed that this spa has a lot of the same elements Friedrichsbad has, only there are no “minders” telling you where to go or keeping the crowd going.  Unlike Friedrichsbad, there’s also no obvious set schedule of activities, although they do post a suggested sequence in the cafe area.  The list is in German.

Bill and I started with a quick dip in the freezing big pool, followed by a couple of sauna sessions.  The first sauna was kind of mild and comforting, while the next was a much hotter Finnish sauna.  We spritzed off in the “Eisregen” (ice rain) shower, then hit the two big “jacuzzi” like pools.  One was heated at 37 degrees Celsius and had lots of bubbles.  The other was 39 degrees Celsius and had very powerful jets that hit my lower back at just the right spot.  I really enjoyed sitting in that tub, pounding the stress and pain out of my back and right outer hip.

Throughout the Therme, there are really nice loungers where you can have a rest.  Be sure to put a towel down before you lie on the loungers or use the sauna.  Next, we used the foot baths, then went into the “Lumenraum”, which is a very dark, quiet, room with loungers and twinkling colored lights in the ceiling.  It was so nice to just lie in there and chill for a few minutes.  I may have to find one of those loungers for home.  After another session in the hot sitting pool, we tried one of the steam rooms, which didn’t seem to be operating properly.  It was just very warm in the room; there was no steam.  I left my shower shoes outside and regretted it, because the tiles were hot in there.

Then, we hit the big cold pool and the hot pool, then spent some time in the Tepidarium, which reminded me a lot of the one at Friedrichsbad, minus the crowds.  We skipped a couple of the other rooms since they either appeared to be closed or beyond our comfort zone.  I probably could have taken a freezing cold plunge after the Tepidarium, but I was so warm and cozy I decided I’d rather just hose off and get dressed.  While we were sitting in the warm, damp room, I quipped to Bill that I felt like we were really “going native” with these nude spa jaunts.  I don’t know what I’m going to do when we’re back in the States someday and I have to suit up.

One thing I noticed today was that it was not at all crowded in the Therme and there was plenty of room to try everything.  We were finished within about two hours, feeling very relaxed and happy.  The price for our two hour stay?  Just twenty euros.  The Therme does have a snack bar that serves juices, water, beer, and light snacks, but we decided we wanted to have lunch at La Cantinetta, a great Italian place we discovered a couple of months ago.  I think the Kaiser-Friedrich Therme may be my favorite spa yet.  No, it’s not super fancy or new, and it doesn’t have any deep pools you can do laps in, but it gets the job done at a reasonable price.  Plus, the historic features are really beautiful and the place is very clean.  I saw no children in the spa, which was a great thing.  The atmosphere today was very calm and inviting, rather than akin to a souped up Schwimmbad.

Bill and I are very used to the naked spa experience now, but I understand that some Americans may be reluctant to try it.  I can’t speak for everyone, but I have found that every time I’ve gone to a textile free spa, I stopped noticing nudity within seconds.  Everyone is naked and, trust me, no one cares what your junk looks like.

When we were finished at the Therme, we made our way to La Cantinetta, where a saxophonist was playing for Euros.  The waiters invited us to sit down.  We got there about five minutes too soon.  If we’d waited just a few more minutes, we could have had a table in the shade.  Oh well…  Here are some photos from our pricey, but outstanding, lunch.

La Cantinetta has an extensive menu, with pasta, pizza, and lots of beautifully presented Italian dishes.

I settled on scallops with tomato, bacon, chilis, and avocado…  this was a pricey appetizer at 18,50 euros, but I was very curious about it.  I’m glad I ordered it, because the scallops were done to perfection.

Bill went with the cream of asparagus soup.  Seems that every restaurant in Germany has its own version, this time of year.  It was very creamy, comforting, and a little sweet.  We also had fresh pizza bread with a choice of garlic or butter.  We went with garlic, but only ate a little of it because we knew lunch would be substantial.

 

Last time we ate here, there were fresh cut tulips on the table.  This time, it was roses.

 

We had a slight lull in business.  Maybe we should have moved up a table and gotten out of the sun…

 

For the main course, Bill ordered branzino (wolfbarsch– or European sea bass).  They brought out a special shelf on which to debone the fish for him.

The set up…
 

Expertly done… and the fish was excellent, as expected.

And nicely presented, too…

I went with sesame seed encrusted yellow fin tuna, served with sugar snap peas, mangos, avocados, and risotto.  I could almost finish this, although tuna tends to be a bit too dry and heavy for me to eat a lot of.  The sesame seeds added to the bulk of this dish.  I loved the way it was presented, though.  It, too, was rather expensive at 32,50 euros.

While we were eating, a German couple sat at the table next to us.  The male half, who wore a striped polo shirt with a popped collar, asked in German what we were eating.  I am proud to report that I was able to understand and respond.  It turned out he spoke English, as did his female companion.  They were nice, and had a good sense of humor as they observed the large Italian family sitting across from us.  At least one of the guys in that group, too, had a popped collar.

Popped collars were popular in America back in the mid 80s, but they apparently never went out of style in Europe.  I counted at least three or four guys with them today.  I had to break Bill of the habit of popping his collar when we were dating.  I guess old habits die hard.  No offense to anyone reading this who likes to pop their collars.  I once thought that looked cool, too.  Kidding…  really.

Anyway, we decided to finish up with the dessert special of the day, which featured the fruit of the season– strawberries.  Feast your eyes!

Three little strawberry cheesecake cubes with fresh cut strawberries, dried, pressed strawberry “leather”, and a scoop of strawberry sorbet!  We split it, and it was the perfect size.  Bill especially enjoyed the crust, which was much like our beloved graham cracker style, though they tasted more like biscuits to me.

We enjoyed San Pellegrino– one large bottle and one small– and a couple of glasses of white wine with lunch.  The first round was a pleasant Lugano that got a bit warm in the intense May sunshine.  The second was a Sauvignon Blanc.  The waiter opened a fresh bottle for us and then suggested it to the Italians sitting across from us.  I noticed two other tables bought whole bottles of the same wine, which the waiter initially seemed surprised I’d asked for.  The waiter, by the way, was really cute and reminded me of Ray Reyes of Menudo fame back in the 80s.

Our total bill came to about 130 euros before the tip.  I’m glad the Therme was so cheap today.  La Cantinetta can be expensive, although they have plenty of more pedestrian dishes that aren’t expensive.   A person won’t go broke having pasta or pizza, for instance.  I do enjoy their more gourmet offerings, though, and their waiters are very charming and professional… and good at upselling.

I can definitely see us making a habit of visiting the Therme on Sundays.  That was a real hit for both of us!  I don’t know that it’s always as “chill” as it was today, but we really enjoyed ourselves.

Tomorrow, we venture to Cologne for yet another concert, so my travel blog will get some extra love this week.  Stay tuned!