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

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

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

Outside of the restaurant.

 

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

We shared a half bottle of red wine…

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

I liked this statue, too.

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

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

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

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

No Mir in the laundry aisle…

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

And worst of all, they had no public restroom.

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

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

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

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

 
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German products, Germany

An insider’s guide to German grocery stores…

I’ve had the idea to write this post for… I don’t know… three years, maybe?  I actually remember when I got this idea.  I was in the city of Calw and Bill and I were at a Kaufland.  I started thinking of all the grocery stores on the economy where a non-German might find themselves shopping.  I thought to myself, “It might be useful to have a guide to some of these stores…”  But at that time, I didn’t have quite enough experience to write the post and it got pushed to the back burner as I toured beer spas and wrote restaurant reviews.

In about 24 days, Bill and I will be moving to Wiesbaden.  It will technically be our third German tour together, and his fourth in total (he was in Bavaria in the 80s, when he was a young lieutenant).  I’ve seen a lot of German grocery stores now.  Since today I was too lazy to do anything (because November is going to be a very hectic month), I’ve decided that today’s post will be about grocery stores, at least here in the Stuttgart area.

Here’s my usual disclaimer.  This post is more or less meant for newcomers.  It will consist of basic information, and does not represent all of the stores where you could be shopping.  I am posting this with the hope that readers will use German supermarkets over the commissary.  You will find that the food quality is mostly better and the cost of food is generally less expensive.  We do use the commissary for convenience and when we want items that are strictly American.  When we lived in Germany the first time, I will admit that we used the commissary more than we did our awesome local supermarket.  This time, we shop a lot more on the economy and are better off for it.

First thing’s first.  Grocery shopping in Germany is somewhat different than it is in the United States. When you shop at a German market, you either need to bring your own bags or buy bags at the store. Bill and I use RedOxx market tote bags.  I like the RedOxx bags because they are very sturdy, made in the USA (Montana, to be exact), have a lifetime guarantee, and the business is owned by a veteran.  They also sell their bags in a dozen pretty colors and will ship to APO.  We also have a bunch of their other bags, too.  Bill likes them because their design is very military and they are extremely well made.

Of course, you don’t need to use fancy bags.  The cheap, reusable bags you can get at the commissary will also do the trick quite nicely.  You will also have to do your own bagging, so after your stuff is rung up, prepare to pack your stuff.  If you do need to buy a bag, the German word is “Tüte” (tooti).

Grocery stores in Germany don’t sell medications.  If you want to buy over-the-counter drugs, you will need to visit an Apotheke (drug store).  You will often, but not always, find Apothekes near grocery stores.

In German grocery stores, you can find things like shampoo, soap, toilet paper, and detergents.  In some stores you can also find housewares, electronics, clothing, toys, and in many places, you can buy booze.  Germany also has “drink markets”, which sell all kinds of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a limited array of shelf stable groceries and other goods.

When you buy produce, in some stores you may have to weigh it and get a price tag sticker, which you’ll put on your produce so it can be scanned.  The commissary has a similar system, so you’ll get used to it quickly.

Grocery stores in Germany are mostly closed on Sundays, with a few exceptions.  In the Stuttgart area, the Edeka supermarket at the airport is open on Sunday.  Although dogs are welcome in a lot of places, including restaurants, you can’t bring your dog to the grocery store.  And, at many stores, you will need to use a euro coin to get a cart from the cart corral.  They are chained together.  When you return your cart to its proper place, you get your euro back.  If you have ever shopped at Aldi in the United States, you know of what I write.

Many grocery stores have areas where you can drop off your empty bottles.  If your store has a drink market, you can bring back the plastic bottles and crates of glass bottles (say, a case of beer), feed them into the handy machine, and it will spit out a receipt, which you can present to the cashier and get money off your order.  Speaking of cashiers… do not be surprised, especially here in Swabia, if the person ahead of you counts out exact change, even if it holds you up.  More than once, Bill and I have been behind someone who pays for groceries with a lot of coins.  Remember that in Germany, some coins are worth more than two dollars!  Be patient.  Others will be patient for you.  Also, some stores have shopper’s cards you can collect stamps on and redeem.  Frankly, I never bother with them, but some people do.  Don’t be surprised if the cashier asks you if you want one.

Also, a lot of stores will have restaurants or snack bars within them.  In fact, even some hardware stores have food available.  Our local Toom (hardware big box store) has a snackbar, of all things.  Shopping in Germany is very civilized.  Many stores also have restrooms and most don’t have a Klofrau looking for change, although that’s not always the case.

You might even find a CoinStar at your local store.  Our Real now has a CoinStar, which I think appeared somewhat recently.  After you’ve been here awhile and have collected a huge trove of coins, you’ll see how awesome that is!  My husband’s first boss dumped his collection of coins on Bill and his co-workers before he left, with the direction that they should all go out to dinner.  Someone took the time to count the coins and it added up to over 800 euros.  Bill and his former co-workers had dinner, including family members, and only spent 500 euros!  There’s still 300 euros left to use!  You will collect a lot of coins while you’re here!

Okay… now here’s a very brief guide.

General grocery stores– hypermarkets

Edeka–  I’ll start with Edeka, which is a very well-known German grocery store chain.  Many towns have an Edeka, and they are pretty much my favorite of all the usual German grocery chains.  It’s kind of a posh market, very clean, with really nice lighting and high quality products.  As of 2017, Edeka is Germany’s largest grocery store chain and holds a market share of 20.3%.  Chances are, your town has an Edeka.  If it doesn’t, chances are the next town has one.  We live in Unterjettingen and there is no Edeka in our town, but there are in Herrenberg and Nagold, both of which are less than a few miles away.  Frankly, of all of the grocery stores in Germany, Edeka is my pick.  It has everything I love about a grocery store.

Real in Jettingen.

Real– Jettingen does have a Real, which is a “hypermarket”.  Real is basically Germany’s version of Walmart.  Indeed, Real stores were originally Walmarts before Walmart was driven out of Germany.  I don’t know for certain, but I think Walmart didn’t survive here because Walmart is famously anti-union and Germans weren’t down with that.  Anyway, Real operates a number of stores in Germany and they’re a lot like Walmart, minus over the counter drugs.  You can find almost anything there, but I hate going in there because it’s usually very crowded and hectic and I experience sensory overload with every visit.  Still, lots of people love their Real, and I will admit we shop there often.  Parking at our Jettingen store is free, which is more than I can say for the Edeka in either Nagold or Herrenberg (but some Edekas do have free parking).

Kaufland– Germany’s fourth largest grocery store chain is Kaufland, which was founded in Germany back in 1984.  Kaufland now operates almost 1,300 stores in seven countries across Europe.  It reminds me a lot of Real, only with a slightly more upscale look and nicer lighting.  You will find groceries there, but you can also find housewares, electronics, and clothing.  Many locations also have drink markets.

REWE– REWE is a Cologne based grocery store chain with locations around Germany.  To be honest, I haven’t spent a lot of time shopping at REWE, but our new home has one very nearby.  There are also several locations in the Stuttgart area.  The last REWE I visited was in Wiesbaden and it reminded me a bit of Edeka, only with harsher lighting.

The actual experience of shopping at any of these grocery stores is very similar.  You typically enter through a “gate” and you have to pass through a cashier stand to exit, even if you don’t buy anything.

Discount grocery stores–

Aldi– A lot of Americans know about Aldi, because Aldi is slowly infiltrating U.S. culture.  If you’ve shopped at an American Aldi, you are probably already familiar with having to use a quarter to get a cart.  You also know that this store is no frills and has low prices.  Our town has an Aldi, but I don’t go in there very often.  It has basic stuff– frozen foods, bakery items, some beverages, ice cream, and some non food items.  It’s the kind of place you go when you need to pick up a few items.  Actually, according to Wikipedia, Aldi is Germany’s largest wine retailer.  Who knew?

Lidl– Lidl is another discount store that is slowly gaining a footprint in the American market.  Like Aldi, Lidl is very no frills, but it does have an interesting line of “American” products, which I blogged about last year.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Lidl versions of American products unless you need a laugh.  However, given a choice between Aldi and Lidl, I think I’d choose Lidl, mainly because the stores seem newer and cleaner to me.

A city version of Netto.

Netto– Another discount market.  Every Netto I’ve been in has been small and no frills, with an emphasis on frozen foods, a small array of beverages, and bakery products.

Penny Markt– Again, no frills supermarket.  Emphasis on frozen food, candy, ice cream, and low prices.

Specialty markets–

Denn’s Biomarkt…

Denn’s Biomarkt– This is a national chain that specializes in “bio” (organic) products.  The Denn’s chain is represented in several local communities, including Sindelfingen, Nagold, Ludwigsburg, Stuttgart, and Vaihingen.   You can find bio fruits, vegetables, wines, and cheeses, as well as other natural products.

The Nagold Mix Markt.

Mix-Markt– This is a European market that offers products from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.  It was founded in Germany, but there are now stores all over Europe.  It’s a great place to shop for exotic wines from countries like Georgia and Moldova, both excellent wine producing countries.  Also, if you like Russian products, you can find them there.

“Feinkost” is another term with which you should familiarize yourself.  A Feinkost is translated as “delicatessen”, but in my experience, Feinkosts also offer upmarket products.  One well-known Feinkost in Stuttgart is Feinkost Böhm, which is a super fancy and expensive market downtown.  It’s fun to shop there for special occasions and to see how much they’re selling Pepperidge Farm cookies for.  Stuttgart also has the Markthalle, which has a lot of ethnic markets, meats, cheeses, produce, and desserts.  Your town might also have a Feinkost, but it may or may not be as fancy as the one in Stuttgart.

Your local town may have its own specialty markets.  You may find Turkish, Asian, Italian, Spanish, or even Portuguese specialty markets, depending on where you live.  Keep your eyes peeled, because you can find some great stuff in the little ethnic markets.

Also, many towns have produce markets that happen several mornings a week and/or on Saturday mornings.  You can also buy specialty meats at Metzgereis (butchers) and baked goods at Backereis (bakeries).  Some local areas also have farms where you can buy fresh produce, eggs, and fresh milk.  See my post “Farm Fresh” for more information about buying fresh food at farms– it’s frequently done on the honor system.  You will also find vending machines that sell things like eggs, milk, noodles, and lentils, among other things.  My “Farm Fresh” post has a video showing how to get fresh milk (which should be pasteurized at home) and pictures of the vending machines you might find in your neighborhood.

Generally speaking, I find grocery shopping in Germany to be a pleasure.  There’s always something to see and German stores offer a lot of good products, some of which will be familiar to you and others you may come to love and will miss when you’re back in the USA.  Some stores are more pleasant for me than others.  Some people love the local Real, but give me an Edeka any day.  I suspect I’ll soon be very familiar with REWE, since I know my new neighborhood has one.  Once you’ve been here awhile, you’ll be able to find a store to your liking.  If you like very fresh food, I highly recommend shopping on the economy as opposed to at the commissary.  Hope this post is helpful for a few folks!

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Keeping our cool on August 4th… and lunch at Fellini’s in Nagold

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile… and there may be a few of you out there in Internetland… may remember that on July 4th, 2015, Bill and I succumbed to the German heat wave of 2015 and bought an air conditioner.  Three years and one month ago, we went down to our trusty Toom in Herrenberg and bought a portable AC.  I will confess that I do use it every summer for the few weeks when it gets oppressively hot here in Germany.

This year, we are in the midst of another heat wave.  I don’t think it’s quite as hot as it was in 2015, but the heat has been very persistent and shows no signs of breaking.  Our yard is positively scorched.  We have a little more money because I recently paid off the last of my student loans and, it’s also not lost on me that someday in the near future, I will probably be having my first hot flashes.  Plus, I’m just sick and tired of being hot and sweating all the time.  It really saps the energy and puts me in a foul mood.  Bill has air conditioning where he works, but I only had it in my one big room.  I’m tired of being hot all night and waking up uncomfortable and not rested because I’ve been roasting in bed.

This morning after breakfast, Bill asked me what I wanted to do today.  Noting that it wasn’t even 9:00am and I was already dripping sweat, I said, “Why don’t we go to the Freibad.”

Quite predictably, Bill grimaced at that idea.  He hates going to the Freibad even more than he hates our nude afternoons at the spa.  So then I said, “Or we could go buy a new air conditioner for the bedroom.”

High tech or low tech?  The Germans have you covered.  Buy a portable AC for over 400 euros or buy a little battery powered fan with a mister for about 3 euros.

Last year or the year prior, I had Bill set up the window in our bedroom with a “hot air stopper”.  It’s basically a velcro kit you put on your windows and attach a piece of fabric with a zipper running through it.  You thread the hose of a portable air conditioner through the zipper and zip it tight so that hot air is filtered out.  However, we never did get around to buying another air conditioner for the bedroom.  It wasn’t as hot for as long in 2016 or 2017, so we just never bothered.

Much to my surprise, Bill agreed.  He also agreed to the Freibad.  I suggested we go to find the AC in Nagold and then hit the pool afterward.  I figured we’d be less likely to worry about early Saturday closing times that way.

So off we went to the Bauhaus/Media Markt in Nagold.  We checked the Bauhaus first, since our first AC came from a hardware/home improvement store.  There were no ACs at the Bauhaus.  So we went downstairs to Media Markt, and there by the front door, there were several air conditioners ripe for the picking.  They had several for 479 euros and one floor model for 499 euros.  They were more powerful than the one we already have in my “big hot room”.  Bill decided to buy the lone floor model.  That took some effort…

You see, buying stuff at Media Markt is not necessarily like buying something in the United States, especially when you’re in Nagold.  Nagold is one of my favorite local towns, but I have noticed that people who speak English are markedly fewer there.  In a way, it’s refreshing, unless you need to buy eyeglasses, set up a cell phone plan, or purchase an air conditioner.  Bill was passed to several different staffers until one who spoke some English was located.  He bought the machine, which was their last of that model, paid for it, and then drove around back to pick it up.

Now… you might think this would be a quick endeavor.  It wasn’t.  The warehouse guy insisted in packing up the air conditioner perfectly in its box.  That took some time.  He had to put the cumbersome machine into the box, make sure all of the stuff that came with it was packed perfectly, and the whole thing was taped to perfection.  I wasn’t too upset about that focus on precision.  I mean, at least we didn’t have to load it into the car ourselves, like we did at the Toom.

After we bought our new air conditioner, we drove to a large parking lot in Nagold and went to lunch at Fellini’s Ristorante, a nice looking Italian place in Nagold that we hadn’t yet tried.

Bill checks out the menu.  It was pretty appealing, with a summer menu, pizzas, pastas, and a lunch menu for the work week.  We ordered off the summer menu.

Nice outdoor area.  Plenty of seating and shade, which my pale skinned, blue-eyed, blonde self likes.

 

We shared a bottle of San Pellegrino.  Bill had a glass of Barbera and I had a glass of Frascati, a white wine that comes from the town of Frascati, which is about 25 kilometers southeast of Rome.  I think it might be the only time I’ve ever had Frascati.  I liked it.  It reminded me a little of Pinot Grigio.

I had the Salmone Fresco, which I chose over several other appealing choices.  Unfortunately, the “bed of vegetables” it came with was loaded with mushrooms, which was a real turn off.  The description in the menu did not mention mushrooms, although mushrooms were mentioned for Bill’s beef carpaccio, pictured below.  Fortunately, he was a good sport and took them off my plate.  And the dish didn’t have the flavor of fungus…

Bill’s beef carpaccio was a hit.  He said it was like a steak salad.  

 

I couldn’t finish the whole dish.  The salmon portion was substantial and I was a little put off by the ‘shrooms.   Bill was proud of me, though, because I neither ran screaming from the restaurant or refused to eat it.  Truthfully, I thought it was a good dish.  Both came with a basket of fresh pizza bread, which was very nice.  Next time we go, I’ll make sure to specify no mushrooms.  I noticed other patrons getting dishes loaded with them.  I’m sure they’d rather save them for people who would appreciate them.  The waiter did seem concerned that I didn’t clean my plate.  I was genuinely full, though, and left satisfied.  I did have a nice glass of dry Rosado for “dessert”.

The facade at Fellini’s.  This restaurant seems to get mixed reviews on TripAdvisor, but is given high marks on Google and Facebook.  We’d go back.  I will just be sure to emphasize “ohne Pilze” next time.

We walked back to the pool area and I noticed it was really packed.  I decided I’d rather go home, set up the new AC, take a shower, and drink in the privacy of my own home.  We may try the Freibad tomorrow.  Maybe we’ll go early, while some people are at church.  We did go to Lidl, though, to pick up a few things.  I love going in there, because you never know what they’ll be selling…

Our Lidl in Nagold has sewing machines… and next to this was a large cardboard display with CDs ranging by everyone from Barry Manilow to Amy Winehouse.  It was truly a bizarre mixture of artists.  There were a couple of German artists, at least one Italian (Zucchero), a CD by ABBA, and one by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

 

Junk aisle!

 

At that point, Bill asked me if I wanted any sandwich meat for the week ahead.  I said sure.  Then we stumbled across the monstrosity pictured below…

This ain’t no Bisquik.  McEnnedy “American” style junk food is always a hoot.

Meatballs and pulled pork!  Oh my!

And “Funktionsshorts”… whatever the hell those are.  The sparkly garment above was actually a form fitting spandex minidress with a zipper down the back.  If you need a last minute party garment, Lidl has you covered.

No, these aren’t leftover Easter eggs.  These are pre-cooked hardboiled eggs that are supposed to be put in kids’ lunchboxes.  One of Bill’s co-workers bought some thinking they’d be raw and he could cook himself a nice omelette.  He was surprised when the eggs were already cooked through.

 

We came home with some Magnum ice cream bars, which I had to wait for due to a gaggle of excited kids out with Opa.  As we were checking out, I noticed Opa had also gifted them with Kinder Eggs.  I had to smile, since Kinder Eggs are banned in America due to a perceived choking hazard.  We won’t let American kids be threatened by hollow chocolate eggs with toys in them, but we have no problem letting them have access to guns.  The longer I live in Germany, the weirder the United States seems.

Anyway, while I was showering, Bill was good enough to set up our new AC.  It’s now primed for use tonight and much quieter than the one we bought in 2015.  I suspect I won’t be so hot in the morning.  That’s a good thing.  And maybe tomorrow, we’ll hit the pool for the one and only time this summer.

If you’re in Germany now and this is a new thing to you, just hang in there.  A month from now, it’ll be time to start thinking about jackets and heating again.

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Sundays

Rainy Sundays staying in…

As regular readers might have guessed, Bill and I didn’t end up going anywhere yesterday.  I hate staying in on the weekend, since those are precious days I can spend enjoying Germany with Bill.  But the weather was pretty dismal yesterday and neither of us felt like going out in the rain.  I sat around and watched iTunes all day, while Bill made another batch of homemade dog food for the boys in our Instant Pot.

iTunes is a funny thing.  I started using it when we lived at Fort Belvoir about ten years ago.  Bill was deployed and I was always alone, so I did things to try to fill my time.  I discovered a lot of music during those days.

When we moved to Germany the first time, I used iTunes to keep up with the few TV shows I got hooked on while he was in Iraq.  I discovered a few new shows that were offered free of charge.  Sometimes I’d get hooked on them and end up buying the whole series.  We never bothered to get AFN and, though we did have German cable, we didn’t watch much of anything on it outside of CNN.  Instead, I’d watch Netflix– at those days, I’d wait weeks for DVDs to arrive in the mail.  I’d buy my own DVDs, too; I still have many I bought at the Stuttgart PX ten years ago.  Or I’d watch iTunes.

Now that we’re in Germany again, I’ve found that entertainment possibilities are endless.  Netflix is streamable now and the German version is pretty good.  Although it doesn’t have the selection the American version has, I’ve found there’s enough stuff in English to occupy me.  And when there’s not, I can always watch iTunes.  Yes, I end up paying more, but that’s not really a concern to me.  This time, we have plenty of money.  I’m not as frugal as I once had to be.

Yesterday, we binge watched Snapped, which is a show about women who go off the deep end and commit murder.  After watching all the true crime stories I could stomach, I switched to Lifetime’s movie about the making of Melrose Place.  I was surprisingly entertained by that film, not just because I was in my 20s when that show aired, but also because it was genuinely a pretty decent film.  The casting was really good and there were some snarky lines in it that would really appeal to anyone who was young in the early 90s.

Unfortunately, I find that I pay a price when I don’t venture out on the weekends.  Because I’m kind of a recluse, if I don’t go out on Saturday or Sunday, I tend to get a touch of cabin fever.  I suppose I could go out on my own and I probably would if we didn’t have our dogs.  I have found that lonely excursions don’t always amount to much more than wasted gas and buying crap I don’t really need.

This is about right for me when I venture out alone…

Luckily, this week we have a holiday and Bill and I will be going to France with the dogs.  We are going back to Ribeauville, to an apartment we’ve stayed at before.  I don’t usually like to use precious time going back to places we’ve been, but we were short on planning time and needed a place somewhat close because we won’t have the whole day to get to our destination.  Bill has to work part of Thursday before we leave.

I know the place we’re going is dog friendly and super easy and convenient to access.  I know I like Ribeauville and even if we don’t do a lot of new stuff, there’s enough there that we can enjoy a change of scenery and different food.  We know the dogs will be okay alone for awhile in the apartment we’re renting while we scout out new wines and cuisine and perhaps do some shopping.  Maybe we’ll even try a French spa.  The price was also right.  Three nights in a three bedroom apartment for less than $500.  Can’t beat it.

I do hope 2018 will be somewhat better for seeing Europe.  I desperately need to get to Berlin sometime and there are other places I want to see, once Bill has leave saved up.  It’s not so easy when you have dogs and don’t trust a lot of folks.

Next week, we will also be celebrating our 15th anniversary.  This year, because Bill is building up vacation time, we are staying local.  Bill found a new restaurant in Stuttgart that looks promising.  If he can get us a reservation, I will be reviewing it soon.

But for now, all I can say is that we stayed in yesterday because it was just too icky to go anywhere yesterday.  It’s just that time of year.

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“American food” according to Germans…

A few days ago, Bill became aware of a special sale going on at the local Lidl.  They were selling their interpretations of “American” snack foods.  Because Bill and I are easily entertained and we have seen some interesting European adaptations of American foods, we decided to pick up a few items and try them.  Yesterday was the perfect day to do our experiment since the weather was bad and I happened to have a touch of pink eye thanks to contact lenses and allergies.

We visited the Lidl in Nagold on Saturday and picked up our “treats”.

Bill bought a large used freezer over the summer that should have been able to handle all we’d want to bring home.  Unfortunately, the freezer is on the fritz and needs to be repaired, so we limited ourselves to three things.  We bought a “snack box”, “Southern fried chicken”, and donuts.  We haven’t had the donuts yet because after trying the snack box and the chicken, I think we were about done.  Let’s just say that German style American snack foods are kind of underwhelming.

It was fun shopping for the snacks at Lidl.  You never know what or who you’ll find there.  Lidl is not a particularly large store, but they don’t just sell food there.  I saw a smattering of different items being offered.  I guess Germans would be equally puzzled by some of the things one can find in an American grocery store.

It appeared that the American snacks were all made by a brand called McEnnedy American Way, which I gather is a Lidl label inspired by our very own John F. Kennedy.  A cursory Web search informs me that American week at Lidl has been a thing for awhile.  I also see that plenty of English speaking bloggers abroad have also tried Lidl’s American Way stuff.  Score one for non-originality.

Need socks or underwear?  Lidl has you covered.

These displays were all over the store.  It appeared that McEnnedy was catering to the perceived American sweet tooth.

We don’t usually eat this kind of stuff, but…

Who doesn’t like the odd chicken strip?  Especially when it comes in a red, white, and blue star spangled package with the Statue of Liberty on it?

The popcorn was probably okay.  They had it in salted and sweet varieties.  I like popcorn, but I don’t eat it often because it gets stuck between my teeth.

Cake?

Peanut butter “flips”.  I actually really like these, but I have never seen an American version in the States.

The cashier was probably chuckling.  We had wine, ice cream, and various “American Way” snacks.

For your tyke who wants to be helpful when you shop.  Be sure to bring a coin so you can free the buggy.

So anyway, Bill brewed his latest batch of beer yesterday.  I didn’t bother to film him this time because my eyes were hurting and I needed to hide away in the darkness while they healed.  He was finished brewing by about 2:00, so that’s when we tried the “snack box”.

As you can see, the box came with plastic bagged “American” snacks and a weird sweet chili sauce.

Six anemic onion rings, six leaky cheese sticks, and six pepper cheese nuggets…

 

Bill put them in the oven at about 375 for fifteen minutes or so, then presented them to me with a beer.

They ain’t got nothin’ on TGIFriday’s…

 

The onion rings were soggy, as were the cheese sticks, which were very limp and filled with some kind of tasteless yellow cheese.  I wouldn’t say it was mozzarella, but more like a mild cheese that isn’t stretchy.  I did actually like the cheese nuggets, which had some heat to them.  They were kind of like jalapeno poppers, only the peppers were chopped up and mixed with the cheese, which had a coating on it that reminded me a little of tater tots.  Except, of course, there weren’t any potatoes involved.

Bill and I agreed the cheese nuggets were almost a hit, while the onion rings and cheese sticks were pathetic.  And the sauce that came with the snacks was both really sweet and kind of hot.  Bill liked it more than I did, because it was rather spicy.  It tasted heavily of cumin and maybe chili powder.  I don’t know what it was supposed to be, but it didn’t remind me of America, for better or worse.

A few hours later, Bill prepared the “Southern crunchy chicken”.  Bill and I both happen to be from the southern United States, so we’ve had our share of good chicken.  We had some hope for McEnnedy’s version.

Again with the plastic bags…  Good thing we don’t live in Rwanda.

We got a couple of drumsticks, a couple of chicken strips, and a couple of wings…

After baking the chicken for a half an hour at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, we sat down to sample the chicken.  I didn’t have high expectations and my expectations were basically met…  The chicken tasted okay, although it was a bit bland.  It was also covered in heavy breading.  Had the folks at McEnnedy added a few more herbs and spices to the breading, the chicken probably would have been more appealing.  I would say we liked the chicken more than the snack box.

Maybe next time Lidl does “American week”, we’ll get more ambitious and try some of their more exotic offerings.  Or maybe not.  There’s so much good food to be had in Europe that there’s no reason to bother with this crap more than a time or two.  Anyway, my curiosity is now satisfied, although we still have donuts to try.  I’ll wait for my next hormonal storm or rainy day for those.

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