Sweet false hopes… but BrewDog saved the afternoon!

A few days ago, The New York Times ran an article about Khachapuri, a popular dish made of fresh bread, cheese, and egg, in Transcaucasian countries, to include Georgia and Armenia. I lived in Armenia for two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and while I can’t say I ate a lot of Khachapuri when I lived there, I’ve come to appreciate the milder versions offered outside of the country. When I lived in Armenia, the dish was made with stinky cheese, which I could not abide. When it’s made with milder cheese, it’s more delicious to me.

Anyway, when I saw the article in The New York Times, I was reminded of the times Bill and I have enjoyed Georgian food. We went to Georgian restaurants in Stuttgart and Frankfurt, as well as several in Wroclaw, Poland. The Frankfurt restaurant was a bit of a disappointment, but the ones in Stuttgart and Poland were awesome. I did a Google search and learned that much to my shock, Wiesbaden has an Armenian restaurant unsurprisingly called Ararat. I looked them up, and it appeared that they were open today. So Bill and I ventured out there to see if it was a good place to eat.

The restaurant is located in an area of Wiesbaden that is known for its Eastern European population. That’s where one can visit the Mix Markt for eastern goodies. It’s in a residential area, and probably gets lots of locals as visitors. It also looks like they host a lot of parties and such, with live music.

We approached, and the door was open. There was a young guy on the phone and a young woman. The proprietor came out and said they were closed on Sundays, even though Google and their sign said they were supposed to be open every day.

I couldn’t resist, and asked in Armenian if they were from Armenia (Hayastan), since the place also advertises Russian food. Their faces lit up as they answered yes, in Armenian, and asked if I was Armenian, too. I actually answered “no” in German, then explained in Armenian that I know some Armenian. Then I said in English “I used to live there.” What can I say? It’s been 25 years since I last had to speak Armenian on a daily basis. Anyway, I could hear them commenting and chuckling as we walked away. We’ll have to call and find out when they have regular hours. I’d love to try their horovats… or shashlik, if they prefer.

We went back to Wiesbaden and parked at the Kurhaus, then walked into town. It didn’t look like anything exciting was happening, so we headed to BrewDog, where we ate a couple of months ago. I knew they’d be open, because they don’t take a pause. It was almost 2:00pm.

We drank a couple of beers and each tried something different from the last time we visited. I had a “Cluck Norris” sandwich, which was fried chicken breast with avocado, red onion, cajun mayo, and coriander with a side of fries. Bill had a roasted chicken sourdough bowl, which was basically a big salad with pieces of chicken and a piece of toasted sourdough bread. His dish also included chilli, chia seeds, and avocado.

We enjoyed the music, and I took a few new selfies, because I was wearing makeup and the lighting was good. Plus, since it wasn’t super hot outside, I wore something besides a t-shirt and shorts. While we were sitting there, a waifish blonde girl came in and dropped off a keychain with a note. She was quick as a flash, and we watched her go in and out in a matter of a minute or so, before she went across the street and did the same at a cafe. This isn’t the first time this has happened to us. I’m not sure where she was from, but I would guess it’s an eastern nation, and this is their way of collecting money. They try to sell little trinkets to sympathetic people who are trying to eat. I don’t think she had any luck.

Below are a few photos. I didn’t manage to get any of Ararat, although I’m sure we’ll try to visit again when they’re open– after we’ve called to verify. The owner had a very kind face and seemed super friendly. But I don’t mind that we went to BrewDog, either. That’s a fun place!

I really do hope we can try Ararat. I love finding new restaurants, especially when they offer different food than what is available everywhere! And I have missed Armenia… and Armenian people!


A German and Italian inspired outing in Mainz-Kastel…

We have beautiful weather in Wiesbaden today. It was so pretty that Bill decided that he wanted to try out a Biergarten in nearby Mainz-Kastel. Mainz-Kastel is not the prettiest or most picturesque place I’ve ever seen, but it does have a nice Italian supermarket. Bill wanted to stop by there, too, and see if we could score some Italian goodies. We fired up the Mini, which badly needs to be driven, and headed off to our first stop, the Brauhaus-Castel Brewery (or Brauhaus, if you prefer). This restaurant offers hearty German (Bavarian) fare and lots of housemade beers. The kitchen stays open all day, so there are no worries about pauses. They have a nice sized parking lot with free parking, which even has a spot for charging your electric vehicle. There’s also a playground for your kids and a children’s menu!

Here are a few photos from our lunch, which was pretty good. I suspect Bill will be regular for the next few days, thanks to his barley covered schnitzel.

Service was friendly and kind. Our server was indulgent at my pitiful attempts to speak German. I know, after seven years, I should be fluent. Shame on me. For those who don’t want to try to speak German, this place does seem to be very American friendly. I think the server spoke English, although he spoke German to us. I know he knew we were Auslanders, though.

All told, we spent 40 euros on food and beer… two half liter beers each for us. Bill had a Dunkel and an alcohol free Weizen. I had two Weizens. They also had other drinks and, of course, there was plenty of wine! It was a good time. We would go back. I’d like to go back just so I can get pictures of the huge sex shop next door. It has a slogan in English that says, “Sex up your life!” That’s something you probably wouldn’t necessarily see in most parts of the USA. On the other hand, I do remember passing Cafe Risque many times on the way through North Carolina as I traveled on I-95 from Virginia to South Carolina, and vice versa.

After lunch, we headed for the Celpro Italian market. That place was a real treat, and it was DEFINITELY very Italian. There’s also plenty of parking there, as well as lots of high quality Italian goodies.

It’s not a big supermarket and we didn’t linger long, because after being at the Biergarten, I really needed to pee. Alas, the supermarket doesn’t have a public restroom and secluded bushes are scarce. I did see a guy cleaning the parking lot, though. Very impressive! I am sure we’ll back for more. It’s not far from where we live. I love all the ethnic markets here in Germany. There’s always a sure bet you’ll find something fun and interesting in them, although maybe they aren’t as fun as the Mix Markts with the Russian and Eastern European products.

It’s nice to get out again, even though COVID cases are on the rise, even here. Mask mandates never went away here, though… Seriously, it’s nice to be in Germany during these weird times.

I don’t know what we’ll do tomorrow, but I would be up for another trip to both of our spots today. Not tomorrow, of course, but maybe sometime soon… before the weather turns back into shit.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Russian dominoes.

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

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

Lots of booze… 

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

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

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


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

Bill anticipates lunch.  We were both hungry.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The parking lot is a good selling point.

It’s a very large building, too.

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


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


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!


City Imbiss Döner Kebab and shopping at Nagold’s Mix-Markt…

It’s a cloudy Saturday here in Unterjettingen, so we decided to take a brief trip to Nagold for lunch, then drop by Nagold’s Mix-Markt.  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might remember that Bill and I discovered this specialty European grocery store chain several weeks ago, when we visited the one in Böblingen.  Mix-Markt carries products from the former Soviet Union and many eastern European countries.  Today, we decided to check out Nagold’s Mix-Markt outlet.  But first, we decided to have lunch.

City Imbiss in Nagold… mmmmm!

Several of the places we usually love to visit are currently closed until next month, so we stopped by City Imbiss, a place that always smells wonderful and offers pizzas and döner kebabs.  I don’t often eat döner– that very Turkish sandwich in a pita that has taken Germany by storm.  Every once in awhile, though, I enjoy this beefy sandwich with vegetables and yogurt sauce.  Today was the first time we visited City Imbiss, though I have passed it several times and smelled the delicious aromas that come from its kitchen.  Although I was kind of in the mood for something more formal, we decided a pita sandwich was just what we needed.

At City Imbiss, if you’re not taking food to go, you can sit down at a table and a server will wait on you.  We were told this as we were staring at the big sign over the service counter.  I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices and briefly considered having pizza, but German pizzas don’t really do it for me.  Finally, Bill ordered döners for two, with little sauce and no tomatoes for me, and no onions for him…

Lunch was ready in a flash.  It was so fast I didn’t have a chance to get a better picture of Bill.  I made a joke about City Wok, where everybody on South Park hangs out for Chinese food.

This was a great sandwich.  It had thin shavings of beef and lots of kraut, as well as a little yogurt sauce and another sauce that was a bit spicy.  We washed them down with beer.  City Imbiss only has beers in bottles and they’re all .33 cl.  They do have wine, too, as well as lots of non-alcoholic beverages, including Turkish Ayran (a yogurt drink).

I also got a portion of pommes that was huge– definitely enough to share.  We finished half of the pommes and, much to my surprise, I was able to eat that whole sandwich.  It’s not as big as it looks.  I might not have to eat for the rest of the night, though.  Total bill for this was about seventeen euros.

We probably should have gone to the Mix-Markt first.  There’s a guy there who has a Shashlik stand.  Shashlik is delicious Russian/Central Asian barbecue– namely shish kebabs.

And the weather wasn’t so bad… we might have even been able to park there today.  


Maybe we’ll get there before we have to move to Wiesbaden.  At this writing, we plan to move on November 28th, and Bill starts his new job on December 3rd.  I think this is going to be a very busy month.  Next week, my dogs will get their dentals and we’ll be filling up the oil tanks in the house we’re about to leave.  Then, the week after that is Veteran’s Day and our wedding anniversary.  I booked us four nights at Brenners Park Hotel in Baden-Baden.  Then, we’ll be cleaning up, packing up, and driving to our new house in Wiesbaden-Breckenheim, where hopefully, I won’t piss off anyone.

The Nagold version of Mix-Markt is much smaller than the one in Böblingen.  It’s also not quite as hectic or crowded, although the parking situation is potentially worse.

Need pickles?  Here’s a whole wall of them.

As well as a whole lot of sunflower seeds, a very popular snack in eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union.

This is an Armenian version of frozen baklava.

And napoleans, too!

They have Russian beer, which personally isn’t very impressive to my tastebuds.  I go to the Russians for vodka.

Pick your mix.

Ditto regarding Russian chocolates, but obviously someone loves it.

This is where we spent our time…  although this Mix-Markt doesn’t have a great selection of wines.  The ones in this picture are from Moldova.

They have Dracula wine, Armenian brandy, and lots of vodka from Russian and Belarus.  We did find a few Georgian wines, too.

Overall, I was a little disappointed in the Nagold Mix-Markt, although it’s good to know that it’s there.  We also found a Mix-Markt in Wiesbaden, so we’ll be able to stay stocked up with our favorite libations from the east.

I’m really going to miss Nagold.  It’s such a nice city.

Cool jack o’lanterns set outside a bar in Nagold.


We stopped by Nagold’s awesome Edeka to pick up some green beans for the homemade dog food Bill makes for Zane and Arran.  While we were there, I indulged my sweet tooth and bought a small bottle of Pepsi, a can of 7 Up and ice cream.  I shouldn’t have watched all those ads from the 70s and 80s on YouTube this morning.  Too much junk food!

This cool mural is near the Edeka in Nagold.  Next time we go there, I will have to get a better picture.  I hope we can find another version of Nagold in the Wiesbaden area.  I am going to miss this little town the most.  Last time we lived here, Tübingen was my favorite town.  


Maybe tomorrow, we’ll do something a little more exciting than shopping for wine and ice cream.


Nagold’s Fall Fest and another lunch at Osteria da Gino’s!

Today was one of those days when I am really very thankful to live in Europe, and Germany in particular.  Most days are like that for me, but some days I’m even more grateful than others.  Today was one of those days.  It was just glorious.  I’m writing this post, not just for myself and for those who already live here, but also for those who are planning to move to the Stuttgart area or even somewhere in Europe.  I hope it will excite a few readers, especially those who have never lived in Europe.

It started with an enchanting sunrise…  One thing I will miss about where we live.  I hope our next house has such a view.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the Mix-Markt chain, which is a European grocery store that specializes in goods from countries in the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union.  We visited the one in Böblingen, mainly because I figured that location was most convenient for a lot of my local readers.  Today, we tried to visit the one in Nagold, but unfortunately, the parking lot behind the store was absolutely jammed, as was our usual parking lot that is close to the store.  We ended up parking on the other side of town, which would have made hauling a large booty of groceries an exercise in difficulty.  So, instead of visiting the Mix-Markt and picking up some more eastern European wines, we decided to check out Nagold’s Fall Fest which is happening today and tomorrow.  Tomorrow is a shopping day in Nagold, so not only will this fest be going on with lots of food and music, there will also be shopping.

Lots of pretty fashions were on sale.

Damn.  I knew I forgot something.  Should have gotten some quarkinis for tomorrow!  They smelled heavenly!

Alsatian pizza anyone?

Fun for kids.  I would have liked this when I was a youngster.  Looks like it’s akin to bungie jumping.

Before we went shopping, we stopped by another one of our favorite local restaurants, Osteria da Gino, and had a sumptuous lunch.  Gino was there today, just as jovial and hilarious as always.  He shook Bill’s hand and delivered his trademark warm and friendly service.

We started with a lovely Primitivo, chosen by Gino’s second banana… who also happens to speak English.  That’s handy, because Gino isn’t an English speaker, but he still manages to be very entertaining.


We split this absolutely heavenly Vitello Tonnato– veal with tuna-caper sauce.  I usually try to stay away from veal, but I made a rare exception today.  This is truly delicious.  It sounds like it wouldn’t be, but it is…  

A pause before the pasta arrived.

We both had homemade pasta and tomato sauce with meatballs and Parmesan cheese.  I saved half of mine for later, because I wanted dessert…

Yet another piece of Gino’s wonderful tiramisu, which we shared.


I know I gush a lot about the restaurants in Nagold, but they truly are delightful.  I’m going to miss this town for all it offers.  I hope we find a similarly lovely town near Wiesbaden.  Total for lunch, which lasted about two hours, was just under 90 euros.

After we ate, we visited the bustling market.  I took some photos.  As you can see, the produce was well loved by other shoppers.

Chestnuts are a big hit.  There are several trees near where I live and I often see people picking up the ones that are on the ground.

I was attracted to this beautiful display of heirloom tomatoes.  I love all the colors.

Bill laughs as I swoon to the musical stylings of an accordion player…

He was really helping the mood.

At this point, I noticed a woman selling chocolate.  She spoke Spanish, German, and English.  It turned out she’s from Ecuador and lives in Calw and she operates her own chocolatier that uses less sugar.  We ended up talking to her for a few minutes and bought some of her truffles and chocolate shavings.  I found myself getting a little sad, realizing that we’re going to be leaving this town and the area around it.  It’s really been a pleasure to live out here in BFE.

After we bought the chocolate, I spotted a “Nette Toilette” sign.  I have written about this program before.  It basically allows people to use the restrooms in public facilities, free of charge.  Gino’s is a designated Nette Toilette, as is the municipal building I found on the way back to the car.  If you spot a red sign that says “Nette Toilette”, it means the business is getting money from the city to allow people to use its restrooms.  That’s pretty handy to know.  It definitely came in handy today.

Next, we stopped at a stand where a man was very animatedly telling a couple about his olive oil.  He was also selling wine, so we stopped in…  I ended up tasting two wines.  He gave me a piece of very strong cheese to try with the wine, which I passed to Bill, who is much more of a cheese person than I am.  I told the guy that Bill eats cheese and I drink.  All of the English speakers cracked up.  Then the guy gave me ham and sausage to try with the wine.  I don’t think I’ll need dinner tonight.

German gin.  We didn’t buy any… but I was tempted.


A moose passed while the guy was telling us about his 1000 year old olive tree in Italy.  It just occurs to me that the women who are passing look a little pissed…  Wonder if they were giving me the stink eye.

Bill makes a decision about the oil while I look on…

The overall mood of this fest was very “festive” and convivial.  Everyone was enjoying themselves… lots of people were eating, drinking, being friendly, and loving their community.  I will really miss Nagold.  I have come to love it.

If you’re looking for something to do tomorrow, I recommend visiting Nagold and checking out this festival.  Gino’s will not be open tomorrow because Sunday is his Ruhetag, but there will still be food, shopping, live music, and kids’ activities.  As for Bill and me, I think we we finally visit the Cannstatter Fest so I can get some use out of my dirndl and he can try out his new kilt.  Hopefully, no one will throw up.  Just kidding.  I intend to do more observing than drinking.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there’s even Uzbek canned meat called Plow.

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

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

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

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

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


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

They even had melons from Uzbekistan…

And brochures about trips to Russia.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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