I really like this about Germany…

It’s a chilly Saturday, here in Germany. It’s also a holiday weekend. We don’t have any special plans for today, other than to receive wine we ordered last weekend at the wine fest. So I thought maybe today, I’d write about something I’ve noticed and really appreciate about living in Germany. Below is a photo that was shared in a local Facebook group. Someone had seen this solution in a Swabian town– maybe down near Stuttgart– and wondered if it would be a good idea for up here in Hesse.

This keeps the pizza boxes out of the trash cans, so they don’t fill up so fast.

I noticed a few people were a little snarky. One person said this was not a good idea, since people shouldn’t be eating so much pizza. Another said they thought this was “stupid”, since it seemed like overkill for what shouldn’t be a problem. But a couple of people wrote that they thought this was a good idea, and even went as far to do some rudimentary research into how this could be accomplished. Below are their translated comments.

Hmm: The way it looks, this is made of weatherproof sieve pressure plates, only the cutting edges have to be sealed. I see stainless steel screws wouldn’t be a problem now either. If they sponsor the material, I can build a few for free.

Another person wrote: the pizzerias could also sponsor…

I was at Globus today and investigated the material costs: a box would cost around €100. So the idea is feasible As far as regulations, regulations, assessments, TÜV and other rules are concerned, of course I have no plan.

Someone else wrote that this is already a thing in the Allgau area, and it works well. Quite a few people were very positive in their remarks, and thanked the original poster for the suggestion. And, much to my amazement, people were actually coming together to see how they could make this idea come to fruition. Yes, there were a couple of American styled cynical comments that were sort of rude and dismissive, but for the most part, people seemed optimistic and wanting to make something nice for the community.

Last week, I shared the photos of the repurposed gumball machines that now sell “bee bombs”, so people can improve their gardens and give the bees something good to eat. That’s a good thing for everyone, and it keeps retired gumball machines out of the trash.

I also like that here in Germany, people aren’t allowed to run amok with weapons. I feel a lot safer here, because fewer people are armed and dangerous, and it’s a lot less likely that some nut is going to shred my vital organs with ammunition fired from their “sexy” AR-15 rifles that they can buy with ease at any gun dealer. Here, to have a weapon for hunting and fishing, you have to prove you’re sane and know how to use the weapon safely. And you can’t just get whatever gun you want, either.

It’s true that some laws in Germany seem a little ridiculous… like the one that forbids people to flip off drivers on the Autobahn, or the laws that can make someone liable if, for instance, they illegally use pepper spray intended for an animal on a person who is attacking them. Bill recently told me about a guy who needed legal help because he got charged with hit and run for running into a guy who was trying to steal his car. I have also heard about people getting in legal trouble for hurting people who were committing crimes, though that could be anecdotal. And yes, I have also heard horror stories about people buying homes and not being able to evict the previous owners until they are ready to move. It seems that self-defense is less of a thing here. At least that’s how it seems, based on some of the anecdotes I’ve heard.

By and large, Germany is a very nice place to live. The more I see what’s going on at home, the more grateful I am that we live over here. And that gives me an interesting perspective, particularly when it comes to immigration issues in the United States. I am often impressed by the sense of community here. I wish there was more of it back home. I’m tired of seeing how polarized people are… and the collective, “I’ve got mine, so screw you” attitude so many people seem to have. On the other hand, although I understand why some people get frustrated and react with self-righteous indignation when they butt heads with someone on the other side of an issue, I don’t think self-righteous indignation is helpful in reaching compromises or inspiring cooperation.

Anyway… I like that they discuss things like making pizza box slots to help keep the trash cans from overflowing. It’s nicer to see those discussions, than contentious discussions about gun rights and abortion. It also helps that Germany is clean, safe, and beautiful, and has educated people who have basic decency and compassion for others. I admire the Germans. They’ve done a lot of growing. I wish more Americans would.


Lunch in lovely Hofheim!

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.


Big business in Poland, part seven

Tuesday morning, Bill had to get up much earlier to meet his bus, which departed at 7:30am. Because I am a dutiful wife and am used to waking up in the pre-dawn hours, I got up with Bill. We enjoyed another chaotic breakfast in the Sofitel restaurant. I’ll just say that every day last week, it was pretty much the same thing. Up early and waiting at the locked restaurant door at 6:30am, much like I did at Longwood College in the early 90s. The experience was eerily reminiscent of those days. The only things missing were the grits and biscuits and gravy, and a big, friendly, maternal black lady named Tina who called everyone “baby” and asked for their IDs. Instead, we had pretty young Polish women asking for our room numbers.

After breakfast, I came back to the room, did some writing, did some reading, and went back to sleep. I did this most days. Again, not so different from my college days, although back then, if I was up early, it was because I had an 8:30am class. It’s hard to believe I used to think that was super early. Now, I can sleep whenever I want to, but I’m usually up by 6:00am, despite having neither children nor a job.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I ventured to the Doctors’ Bar for lunch. It is just across the street from the Sofitel, and boasts some really excellent Polish craft beers. I am a beer lover, but when we were in Poland in 2008, I was not at all impressed with their regular suds. I tried beers like Lech, Zywiec, and Tyskie, mainstream brands that are probably akin to American brands like Budweiser or Miller. I concluded that I don’t go to the Poles for beer. Instead, I go to them for their vodka.

Well… I am here to tell you that in 2019, Poland has a rather exciting craft beer trend going on. On Monday night, Bill and I hung out in the hotel bar and tried a couple of the local craft beers made by Profesja, a Wroclaw craft brewery. I wasn’t hugely impressed by the Profesja beers, although they were better than the beers I tried in 2008. The one thing I did like was the cool label on the super strong dark beer I tried. Check out the picture below.

The Doctors’ Bar was pretty empty when I arrived at 12:00pm, and the pretty young server who looked after me invited me to sit anywhere I liked. They were playing upbeat jazzy piano music that I quite liked. I perused the menu, as the waitress said they had a bone in pork chop available. I ended up ordering a cheeseburger, although I noticed the pork chop was very popular. It was probably delicious. I should have ordered that instead. When the cheeseburger arrived, it was so huge I had to eat it with a knife and fork. Seriously… it was gargantuan! However, it was also probably one of the better burgers I’ve had in Europe. The patty was handmade, 100% beef, and very juicy, covered in mildly sharp Cheddar cheese and adorned with lettuce, onions, habanero mayonnaise, tomatoes, cucumbers, and guacamole. It also came with fries with the skins on.

On the day of my visit, Doctors’ Bar had eight draft beers available, again made by a Polish brewery. I ordered a Maryensztadt Klasycznie Porter Baltycki. Maryensztadt Brewery is located in Zwoleń, Poland, well east and a bit north of Wroclaw. I liked the two Maryensztadt beers I tried more than the Profesja beers I had at the hotel. I also tried the Maryensztadt Rye Oat Orange Stout, and enjoyed that one even more than the porter. Doctors’ Bar also has a full service bar and a large array of bottled beers available.

I had to walk off the lunch, so I wandered more around the city and found more potential venues for eating, drinking, and making merry. Wroclaw has a lot of interesting museums, a water park. an escape room, art galleries, shopping, and even a few activities for kids.

At about six o’clock, Bill came back to the hotel and we went out for dinner. Because I had such a huge lunch, we opted to share a rather plain buffalo mozzarella pizza at a restaurant called Bistro 8 1/2. Tucked into an alcove in the cluster of buildings in the middle of the market square, this tiny “hole in the wall” Italian place featured a very friendly waitress who sold us on a Venetian red wine that tasted of cherries.

Looking up this restaurant, I see that it has two locations. The one we went to appeared to be kind of a satellite location. The menu was small and, if I’m honest, I have had better pizza. I liked the crust, but the cheese was barely melted. This is kind of an issue for me, because I don’t like cold cheese. It’s a texture thing. But the waitress was so nice and the interior was so charming that I overlooked it. I wasn’t that hungry anyway. We did have dessert, too. Cannoli for me and panna cotta for Bill.

Ah well… we did stop by the hotel bar again, because there were some guys in there that Bill and I talked to the night before. They were also at the conference and commiserated with Bill about the ways of the Army. One of the guys is going to retire in about two years, so Bill was sharing his experiences. I got to say goodnight to a couple of cute dogs who were staying at the hotel. They made me miss Arran.

Next post!

Germany, restaurant reviews

Lunch at Pizzeria Permesso in Ludwigsburg…

We had yet another beautiful day here in Germany.  I was somewhat tempted to take a hike to a waterfall.  But then I remembered the large collection of empty beer bottles sitting in our pantry and how they’ve been collecting dust for months now.  It had been ages since our last trip to Heinrich 3000, a drink market in Kornwestheim, which is a town near the city of Ludwigsburg.

Since we had all of those bottles and I was jonesing for some kind of beer other than German, Bill and I decided to have lunch in Ludwigsburg and then visit the drink market.  We walked to the main square in Ludwigsburg’s center and noticed an Italian restaurant called Pizzeria Permesso.  As we approached its outdoor seating area, a very pleasant gentleman kindly welcomed us to sit down.  We happily obliged.

We were seated under a large canopy, shaded from the perfect May weather.

Pizzeria Permesso has a wood fired oven for making pizza.  I saw a couple of pizzas going by that looked very good.  Their calzones also looked pretty excellent.

Bill ordered a glass of Primitivo for himself an a glass of Montepulciano for me, along with our usual sparkling water.  I was pretty impressed with the water came with slices of lemon and an ice cube!  I don’t think I’ve ever had ice in a drink in Germany unless I was at a fast food place on post.  It was a nice surprise!

Ice in the water! 

For lunch, Bill ordered Spaghetti Bolognese– spaghetti with meat sauce– and I had Tagliatelle Salmone.  We were both very happy with our dishes.  I especially enjoyed mine.  Not only was the dish made with a cherry tomato sauce instead of a cream sauce; it also had the most perfectly cooked pieces of salmon I’ve had in a very long time.  It was absolutely delicious!

While we were waiting for our lunch, we noticed some really cute children playing nearby.  They didn’t have a care in the world!

Bill’s Spaghetti Bolognese was a hit!  It came sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

But my Tagliatelle Salmone was even better.  Not only was I impressed by how this dish tasted, I also thought it was beautifully presented, complete with a couple of mint leaves.  I saw several other dishes going by, mainly salads, that were also beautifully plated.  And again, the salmon was cooked perfectly.  It practically melted in my mouth because it wasn’t too dry or overcooked.  Next time, I’m going to have to try a Lachs (salmon) filet.


We took our time finishing lunch and our wine.  The wait staff was professional and unhurried, which was nice to see.

I took this picture right after two adorable little girls, both wearing ponytails and maybe about five or six years old, who were holding hands and playing in the square, came over to talk to Bill.  He patiently explained to them that he doesn’t speak much German.  I’m not sure if they got the message, but they did eventually say “Tschuss!”

Bill asked for a double espresso, but they brought him a single.

I had a hefeweizen because the guy sitting near me had one and it looked refreshing.  I probably should have had one of the very beautiful desserts they had on display instead.  Maybe next time.

A cannon went off and sparkly stuff sprayed into the air as a newly married couple emerged from the church…

The Saturday market was also freshly cleaned up.

Pizzeria Permesso is conveniently located in the Marktplatz.  I’m surprised this was our first time visiting.  I’m sure we’ll be back, because I liked their food more than what I’ve had at La Signora Moro, another Italian place on the square.

After Bill paid the check, we headed back to the car by way of the Sparkasse that sports a large metal Sparschwein out front.  The first time we saw that piggy bank, Bill made an inappropriate comment.  Actually, it was an unintentionally inappropriate comment.  The pig reminded him of a metal bull that was once used as a torture/killing device.  On some days, the bank opens the pig so people can see inside.  Bill said he didn’t want to go in there because he was afraid someone would close the door and turn on the gas.

The Sparschwein, whose name is “Louise”, is the largest piggy bank in the world.  The above video offers a risk free look inside.

He clearly forgot he was in Germany…  We laugh about it now, but I’m pretty sure I gave him one of my patented horrified looks.  Talk about black humor!  But I know my husband, and it was definitely an honest faux pas.

We passed a book store that was advertising games, including “Klug Scheisser”.  Klug Scheisser is a game Bill often hears on German radio.  It literally translates to “smart shit”, but colloquially means “smart aleck”, “smart ass”, or “big mouth”.  I see it’s also usually spelled as just one word.


We enjoyed a brief shopping expedition at Heinrich’s and came home with lots of Belgian and Icelandic beers to try until our next trip to Ludwigsburg.  It’s a very pleasant town.  We should definitely visit more often.


Fancy in Annecy… Annecy part deux! part seven

Although I had entertained thoughts of visiting Italy while we were down in southeastern France, the huge traffic jam we saw going into the tunnel that leads there made me think better of going there.  Going to Italy would have meant another trip through the fabulous but treacherous mountain pass that gave Bill white knuckles.  So, instead of looking for another nearby town, we decided to go back to Annecy.  Maybe we’d take a lake cruise.  It would also give us the opportunity to visit the chateau, which offers museums to explore.

Sunday morning view!

Well, it turned out that visiting Annecy on a beautiful Sunday was an exercise in frustration.  Annecy was absolutely flooded with people.  The lunch cruise was completely booked and we struggled to find parking.  We walked through the fresh market again, but it was very difficult because there were so many people.  Bill was getting nervous about all the people crammed into the walkway.  It was like being stuck in a stampede.

Nevertheless, we did get a chance to visit Annecy Castle, which required walking up a hill.  We also happened to visit there on the first Sunday of the month, so admission was free of charge!  I was glad to see that a lot of the signage offered English translation, so we didn’t have to guess too much about what we were seeing.  One thing to mention is that the castle isn’t really a castle per se, as much as it is a group of museums.  To be honest, I only saw the museum about the lake.  Except from June until September, the castle closes from 12-2 pm and everybody gets kicked out so the staff can go to lunch.  By the time we were ready to see the other museum, it was close to lunchtime.  I wasn’t upset, though, since I wasn’t all that interested in the other museum anyway.  There were a lot of people in there.  Below are a few shots of Annecy from the hilltop.  For some reason, there aren’t really any good viewing spots from the towers.

I was glad I had my digital camera with me, so I could zoom in a bit.


The entrance to the castle.  I’m not sure why they made this a museum instead of simply showcasing the castle itself.


The courtyard.


Signs in French, English, and Italian.


A couple of shots of fish from the lake, kept in the aquarium part of the museum. 


I climbed a tower, hoping to see a view of Annecy.  Instead, we got a view of a locked window.  Oh well.  At least I got some exercise.  

Most days, patrons pay 5,50 euros to gain admittance to the castle/museum.  We didn’t have to pay, so this was kind of a nice treat.  I see it gets some mixed reviews on Trip Advisor.  I think it pays to remember the museum closes from 12-2.  Most of the negative reviews seem to come from people upset about being kicked out for lunch.

Speaking of lunch, Bill and I decided to walk around a bit to see if we could find something good.  I usually try hard to avoid touristy spots, but it was kind of hard to do that in the old town part of Annecy.  We ended up eating at Brasserie des Europeens, a rather corporate looking place across from the city hall.  I wasn’t really keen to eat there, but I needed a break from the crowds and the manager was welcoming.

The terrace was hopping.  It brought back flashbacks of my days waiting tables.


Bill checks out the extensive menu.  It was actually kind of hard to choose something.  They had everything from mussels to tartare.  


This time, Bill got his salad…  washed down with an Edelweiss beer garnished with lemon.  I had a Fischer, which was supposedly Alsatian beer… made by Heineken.


I had a skewered hangar steak with frites and a salad.  The steak was a little tough.  I probably should have ordered it medium rare.  Better yet, maybe I should have had mussels.  That’s the kind of dish I can really only enjoy about once a year, though.


I got a kick out of their unisex bathroom.  There was also a ladies only restroom.  Both were way too small for the volume of business they were doing on Sunday.  There was just one stall in the ladies room and two stalls plus a pissoir in the unisex restroom.

We had wine for lunch.  As we were enjoying this, the terrace got slammed.  It reminded me of an infamous scene on Spongebob Squarepants.



The folks at the table behind us ordered Crepes Suzette.  The waitress left her bottle of Grand Marnier on the table while she went to get the proper pan… and one of the guys sitting there non-chalantly helped himself to a nip of it.


Bill reacts to the sneaky cordial thief.


After lunch, we took in yet another church…


A young girl sitting at the front of the church was giggling hysterically.  I wasn’t sure if she was being irreverent or overcome by the spirit.


It was well worth stopping into this beautiful church, even with the hysterical giggling going on.  


We strolled some more around Annecy and I took more photos of what was going on.  There was a lot to see, since there were so many people!

It seems like every major French city has at least one carousel.

I was glad to be in Annecy when the clouds were gone.  Of course, a sunny, warm Sunday means tons and tons of people.  It’s not even the high season yet!


Pretty gardens near the church.


At around this time, I had to find a public restroom.  Fortunately, France is very generous with its public facilities.  Annecy is no exception.  We found our way to one near a playground.  This was the line.

It probably took about fifteen minutes to get my turn.  Every time someone uses the potty, it gets hosed down.  That keeps the toilets from stinking a lot, but they also never get a chance to dry out on a day like Sunday.  Consequently, it was probably not the most hygienic situation, as evidenced by the looks on some of the people’s faces as they emerged.


A whole lotta peeing going on.

After my visit to the loo, we decided it was time to vacate Annecy for some peace and quiet at the hotel.  I took a few more photos on the way out.  Annecy was positively bustling with people engaged in all kinds of fun activities.


One coming in for a landing.

They’re braver than I am!

We decided not to have dinner at the hotel on Sunday night because the entree was veal.  I like the way veal tastes, but I try not to eat it because of the way it’s made.  I know… I am not a vegetarian by any means, but I think South Park spoiled veal for me.  Also, the starter was mozzarella, which I do like, but only when it’s not cold.  We could have asked for something else, but I decided I’d rather have something simpler for dinner anyway.  We went to the snack bar next to the hotel, which was directly across the road from a campground and next to a cheesy looking bar/restaurant that didn’t yet appear to be open for the season.

Before we went to the snack bar, we walked down to the lake.  It was an easy stroll from the hotel.  Too bad we didn’t go there earlier in our visit.

Even better shots of the parasailing daredevils.

I love this shot.  It’s probably destined for my Facebook cover.

We were eagerly greeted by a swarthy man who invited us to sit down and told us they had rotisserie chicken.  I probably should have ordered that instead of the Margherita pizza I ordered.  I can never finish them.

I probably should have split Bill’s pizza.

This was kind of a nice change, though.  I’m sure the veal at the hotel was good.  I probably would have loved it. 


Another English speaking couple sat near us.  It was a little weird because the female half seemed a bit high maintenance.  I heard her say in a pissy voice, “I’m sorry I don’t speak French.” to the guy who was looking after everyone.  He went and got his boss, who did speak English and seemed a little like Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants.  He was all about the euros!

Before long, the snack bar filled up with people and the one guy who waited on us was soon overwhelmed with people.  Bill had to hunt him down to pay him.  The guy seemed relieved when Bill told him to keep the change.

Next time, I’ll do a better job looking for specific activities.  Fortunately, the Annecy area has a lot to see.  I think it would be worth another visit.

Germany, restaurant reviews

Our first visit to da Enzo in Jettingen… Great Italian food! (now closed)

I was in the mood to try something different last night for dinner, so I told Bill I wanted to visit da Enzo, an Italian restaurant near our home in Jettingen.  I am ashamed to admit that last night was our very first visit to da Enzo, despite its proximity to where we live.  However, in my defense, the restaurant is located on a main drag through town that we rarely use because we take a different route to get to where we’re usually going.

One of the reasons I decided I wanted to try da Enzo is because I noticed that people have given it great ratings in reviews.  Then I took a look at the Web site and noticed how good the food looked in the pictures.  And then I noticed that this particular restaurant is in possession of a large pizza oven that appears capable of putting out some good pies.  Hot damn!

It’s actually been a pretty long time since I last had good pizza, even though I’ve been to Italy a couple of times within the last year.  We have at least one other Italian restaurant in our town, but I don’t care too much for their sauce because it tastes like they use a lot of onions.  Of course, there are also a couple of Turkish run doner places nearby that also have pizza.  But their pizzas are unsatisfying because they have really thin crust and scanty toppings.  It’s more like a snack than a meal.  I’d almost rather Bill come home with something from Pizza Hut on Panzer, which I know really sucks.

So anyway, I noticed on the Web site that da Enzo had a good pizza oven and the pictures of the pizzas looked awesome.  Then I noticed all of the other pictures of food and realized that if I felt like

having something else, I could.

A picture of the sign out front.  It’s not a very interesting looking building, but that says nothing about the food.  Out front, there’s a small outdoor seating area that a few folks were enjoying as the hour got later.  There were several free parking spots outside.

We showed up at the restaurant at about 7:00pm.  There was one other table being served.  It was a family and they had a little girl with them who was obviously having a good time.  I also noticed a pretty blonde who appeared to either work there or was a member of the family.  She had a little boy with her who looked to be about three years old.  He was “helping” the waiter, following him around with a plug in his mouth, carrying a tray and menus, and helping him light our candle.  The kid was adorable!

Obligatory shot of Bill, right after the cutie pie kid brought us our menus.


At the front of the menu, there were some chef’s specials.  Some of the prices seemed a little high.  Flipping through the rest of the menu, I noticed regular dishes that were a bit more moderately priced.  They had pizzas that came in 30 or 36 centimeter sizes and ran about 7 or 8 euros.  There were also pasta dishes, fish, meat, and a few vegetarian dishes.

I decided to try one of the recommended dishes.  It had an Italian name starting with an S that escapes me right now– Strolla-something.  It was priced at 19,50 euros.  I must have forgotten the name because of the generously poured red wine we enjoyed.  Bill was also going to have a special, but decided to try the pizza instead.

Our waiter brought out some piping hot pizza bread that tasted like it came straight from the oven.  It was excellent.

This was my dish.  It consisted of fresh pasta, Italian sausage, buffalo mozzarella, and a basil leaf.  The sauce was like a creamy tomato.  The pasta was fabulous.  It tasted like it was made that morning.  The sausage was mild and tasty.  And the mozzarella melted into a creamy bliss.  In all seriousness, I think this might have been one of the nicest Italian dishes I’ve had outside of Italy.  Sorry this photo turned out a little blurry.  

Bill was equally pleased with his pizza.  The crust was perfect; not too thick or thin.  It was served piping hot with spicy sausage and a delightful layer of cheese.  The sauce was also perfect.  We won’t be buying crappy snackbar pizza anymore.  From now on, Enzo gets our pizza business!


I was actually thinking about having dessert, but then more people started to come in.  They were distracting our waiter.  Several folks appeared to be regulars who were treated very warmly by the staff.  I also noticed that this restaurant was very kid friendly.  The little girl who was sitting with her family got some gelato that was presented to her with much fanfare.  I also noticed a number of kid made works of art hanging on the wall.

We mentioned dessert to the waiter as he took our dishes to be wrapped up for later, but the little girl from the other table came over and stole his attention because she was saying goodbye.  Da Enzo really is a very kid friendly place! When the waiter didn’t come back to finish talking to us after the little girl interrupted, we decided to have wine instead.  You can see him drawing it out of a barrel dispenser in the background.  On the shelf over the wine barrel, there appears to be a trophy sporting an aardvark.  Bill is watching one of the two TVs on the wall.  They had one tuned to the news, but later turned on football.

Generously poured wine makes me forget about panna cotta.

Stacks of firewood in the restaurant.  The dining room is very workable.  I was impressed by the restroom, too.  It was very clean and updated, with several stalls.  It looked like they spent some money on it.


All told, we spent about 47 euros on dinner before the tip.  The food was outstanding, so we will definitely be back.  I have a feeling we could even become regulars.  The very friendly chef bid us a cheery “Tschuss!” as we walked out and I was still raving on the short drive home.  I know Jettingen isn’t close to many local readers, but I have to admit, our town has a couple of great places to eat!  Enzo’s restaurant might be worth the trip for some folks.


A whirlwind trip to Austria, Italy, and probably Switzerland, part 10

We arrived in beautiful Vevey, Switzerland at about 6:30pm or so.  It was dark outside and Bill was stressed out from the mountains and switchbacks, along with the steep inclines and descents.  He says he’s going to get the brakes checked on the Toyota.  I mention this only to remind folks headed for Alpine territory by car to make sure your brakes are in fine working order.  You will definitely need them more than ever there.

I had had my eye on Grand Hotel du Lac in Vevey since the first time we lived in Germany.  Back in 2008, we took a trip to Italy and Switzerland and Bill had wanted to visit Gruyeres then.  I had tried to find us a place to stay, but had no luck finding something we could easily afford.  Back in those days, he was still paying child support for three kids, one of which was not legally his responsibility.  None of those kids speak to Bill now.

Anyway, somehow that hotel got added to my list of bookmarks.  I wasn’t necessarily planning to go there when we decided to visit Switzerland.  In fact, we weren’t sure where we’d want to go.  I suggested Gruyeres when I remembered that Bill wanted to visit the H.R. Giger Museum.  I also know how much he loves cheese.  Once again, feasible lodging in Gruyeres seemed lacking.  Having never been there before yesterday, I didn’t know how many hotels were available.  It sounded like the parking situation might be difficult there.  So I decided to just go ahead and splurge on Hotel du Lac.

The first thing to know about Hotel du Lac is that it’s a five star establishment.  It’s expensive, but save for a couple of fairly minor hiccups over the weekend, we had an almost flawless stay.  It started when we pulled into the hotel’s small parking lot in front of the impressive facade.  The door opened and a young man came out and parked our car, steps from the front door.  He then took our bags for us.

A young woman opened the front door and welcomed us.  We sat down in the hotel’s office and she and her colleague offered us house made Swiss chocolate.  Then we got down to business.  I had booked a deluxe room, which was priced at $387 (390 francs) per night.  That did not include the charge for breakfast (39 francs a person) or parking (40 francs).  However, even though I spent a lot of cash on this hotel, I would say it’s probably one of the best I’ve ever stayed in in my lifetime.  The deluxe room included a balcony, which looked over Lake Geneva and The Alps.  Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us when we were in the room and the view was mostly wasted on us due to fog.  We did enjoy the large balcony, though.  It would be especially nice when the weather is totally clear.

As you may know, Switzerland has four official languages: Italian, German, French, and Romansch.  Vevey is in the French part, very close to Montreux.

Wonderful, plush, king sized bed.  A lovely housekeeper stopped by and did turn down service for us.  She left us with Swiss chocolates.  When we got back to the hotel last night after going to Gruyeres, she set the television to play classical music for us.  The room uses a card to keep the lights on, but she had kindly left one for us, so we didn’t come back to a dark room.

Beware!  Outlets in Switzerland are different.  I had forgotten that about Switzerland last time we visited and stayed overnight back in May 2008.  I will have to get some adaptors, because I’m pretty sure we’ll be back again sooner rather than later.  The hotel did provide us with a universal power adapter, which took care of our needs.

A view of the bedroom. 

A foyer with two closets and a minibar.  The closets light up and there’s a full length mirror.  The minibar has typically overpriced stuff in it, though it was relatively well stocked.  I’m not paying the equivalent of five bucks for a Kit Kat, though.

The bathroom.  The toilet is in its own stall, as is the shower.

The tub is generously sized.  They even give you bath salts.  I wish I had thought to indulge last night.  I was tired after our day trip and a bath would have been nice.

Large sink, complete with makeup mirror.  There was also a scale that I didn’t use.

Nice toiletries, generously restocked.

Shower.  The towels were awesome… huge, with ridges so they had a massaging effect.  There were matching bathrobes that one could purchase.  

Complimentary sparkling water and fruit… and yes, more Swiss chocolate.

Our car was literally parked outside the front door.

The front was all lit up for Christmas…

The view from our balcony…

The hallway.

Furniture in the hall.


We took a stroll, stopping at a bar called Sherlock’s Pub.  We only had one beer there because we got a weird vibe, although it looked like it could have been a great place in the right hands.   But the bartender couldn’t be bothered with us and there were a few shifty looking folks there.

After walking around Vevey, which is a very charming town, by the way, we passed through some kind of food fair, attended by many locals, a couple of sheep, and a donkey.  Near the fair, we stopped for pizza at this little hole in the wall place called L’ Armailli…  It looked like an Alpine bomb shelter and it was packed with locals!  The food turned out to be outstanding and our waiter spoke excellent English.

I had a large Cardinal beer, as did Bill.

Taking in the Swiss chalet atmosphere and enjoying the way the place smelled… heavenly!

Bill had lasagne.

I had a Sicilian pizza.  This was served with ham, capers, peppers, and cheese.  It had a thick crust and was manageably sized.  I really enjoyed it.


Of course, eating out in Switzerland can be pricey.  We paid about $50 for this meal, plus tip.  But it was definitely worth it and, as Swiss meals go, quite economical.

The front of the fabulous pizza joint.  I think that may have been the best pizza I’ve had in a very long time.


I kind of wish I’d bought a pair of those slippers.

We came back to the hotel, once again welcomed by the nice lady who checked us in.  A pretty Asian woman was sitting at the piano playing and singing, sounding a little karaoke-ish.  I decided I needed to go to bed.  I slept very well.  The sheets were absolutely exquisite.  Better yet, I didn’t wake up feeling stiff and sore, like someone had beaten the hell out of me like I did in Italy and even Austria.  Damn, I’m getting wimpy in my old age… but so is Bill.  He had similar complaints.

The next morning, we decided to have breakfast at the hotel.  The lady running breakfast on Saturday morning was absolutely awesome.  We approached her and she knew which room we were in.  She invited us to choose a table and then said if there was anything we wanted not in the buffet to let her know and they’d take care of it.  I wish I had asked for Eggs Benedict, but I ended up getting my breakfast from what was laid out.  The restaurant was very beautifully decorated and the server was so expert and proficient at her job.  She made us feel very welcome.  We left with a wonderful impression…  which sadly slipped later, but more on that in an upcoming rant/post.

Bill enjoys what tasted like French pressed coffee…

The orange juice was fresh squeezed and delicious.  The buffet had a very impressive array of treats available, all labeled with calligraphy.  It was very nice.  

A view of the front door during the morning.


After breakfast, which cost us 78 francs plus tip, we made our plans for the day…

Germany, restaurant reviews

Dinner at Pizzeria da Vito in Tübingen, Germany

Bill and I decided we wanted to go out to dinner.  Unfortunately, we weren’t all that sure where we wanted to go.  We thought about staying local and going to a place here in Unterjettingen, but changed our minds when parking turned out to be complicated.  So then we decided to go to Herrenberg, where we know of some good places to eat.  But we ended up driving around for awhile, because we couldn’t decide where we wanted to go.  The Greek restaurant we usually love to go to looked like it was very full… and then there was the parking issue again.

I had told Bill I wanted to go to Tübingen, but he said he didn’t want to drive that far.  But it turned out we had driven so much around Herrenberg and its environs that he might as well have just driven straight to Tübingen.  It would have saved us some time.  I finally reminded him that in Tübingen, there’s lots of parking… and plenty of restaurants, too.  Finally, Bill relented and we went to Tübingen, which always makes me feel kind of bittersweet, since we used to live very close to there and miss it.

We were going to go to Die Kelter, but it was packed and there weren’t any tables available.  So we went a little further and ended up at Pizzeria da Vito, which is a little Italian place we used to frequent five years ago when we lived here last time.  It’s a small, family owned restaurant and obviously popular with locals, since there were only a couple of tables free when we sat down.  When the weather is nice, they usually offer a lot of tables outside, too.

Bill waits for meat.

Bill ordered a carafe of Primativo and a bottle of San Pellegrino from the black sequins wearing waitress/hostess who was helping us.  I knew from experience that the pasta at this restaurant is excellent, but I had ziti for lunch.  So even though the pizza and pasta smelled wonderful, I opted for a dorade which was cooked in foil and garnished with tomatoes and cucumbers.  Bill had a steak with gorganzola cheese sauce and a side of fried potatoes.  The meal was served with a basket of bread.

My fish all wrapped in foil.  Bill’s steak in the background.

To be perfectly honest, I have had better dorade elsewhere.  But the price for this fish was right.  It was 12 euros and cooked competently, even though I think I prefer it grilled rather than baked in foil .  Fresh basil was stuffed in the fish, which gave it a zesty essence.  It was also served with a couple of slices of lemon, which made a positive difference in how it tasted.

Bill pronounced his steak “satisfying” and finished the whole thing.  His steak was priced at 13.50 euros.  Next time we visit Pizzeria Da Vito, I’ll probably go back to pasta, since I know it’s very good there.  The pizzas are good too, and they are very reasonably priced.

Not the best photos because it’s nighttime.  This restaurant is basically on the main drag into Tübingen as you’re walking away from the Altstadt Konig garage.

We would have had dessert, but they didn’t have anything available tonight.  Our bill was 39.50 euros.  Service was competent and basically friendly, though our server seemed kind of tired and ready to go home.  Having done that work myself, I couldn’t really blame her.

I do recommend Pizzeria da Vito.  I’m not sure I will get dorade there again, at least not prepared in foil as it was tonight.  That’s not because the fish was badly prepared; I just like it grilled and they don’t offer it that way.

On another note, next time I get a hankering to go to Die Kelter for dinner, I will make sure to reserve a table!

Germany, restaurant reviews

Dinner at Pizzeria da Piero in Jettingen…

Last night, Bill and I had dinner at a local pizzeria near our house in Jettingen (a town not too far from Nagold, southwest of Herrenberg).  Bill has picked up food there for us before, but this was our first time having a sit down meal.  They were very busy last night.  The parking lot was pretty packed.

Not the best photo… but that’s what the outside looks like.

I forgot to take photos while we were eating.  (ETA: No, I didn’t.  That wine must have been stronger than I realized.)  Bill and I were deep in discussion.  He had pasta with a salmon cream sauce.  I had cannelloni.  The portions were pretty large and we ended up taking about half of it home.  We also enjoyed a very nice bottle of wine.  In fact, Bill and I were very impressed by the wines that were offered.  The one we had last night was 13 euros, but the bartender served it like it was worth much more.

Yummy Italian food!

I liked the inside of the restaurant, which was dark and romantic.  It looked like they had a large covered porch that would probably be very handy during warmer weather months.  Service was very friendly and looked like there were a few kids enjoying dinner there, too.

Bill and I were amazed by the wine service.  The bartender brought out glasses for us along with a third glass for tasting the wine.  It was definitely unique.

I’m sure we will be back, since we can walk there from where we live.  Next time we go, I will take some photos (as usual).  I have a feeling that restaurant could end up being a favorite.  I can see that it already is with a number of the locals.


Lunch at Grimaldi’s at the Shops at La Cantera…

Yesterday, Bill and I went shopping for some new work clothes for him.  After a successful trip to Saks Off Fifth, we went to the Shops at La Cantera, which is a huge upscale shopping center where I happen to see my dentist.  Bill had heard about Grimaldi’s, a New York pizzeria style chain in a few states.  They have a coal fire oven there and it’s been awhile since we last had decent pizza.

When we got to Grimaldi’s, it was very busy.  They gave us a “beeper” shaped like a slice of pizza and told us to stay in the area.  We went next door to Teavana, where a very aggressive salesman proceeded to try to sell us a complete tea set.  We did end up going back and buying some tea from the guy, even though he was really pushy!  They had a lot of nice samples there.

Bill looks hungry…

We each ordered a glass of wine, which came to us in little carafes.  Mine was an unexciting glass of Sangiovese that was priced at $10.  Bill had a glass of Super Tuscan for $7.  I think his was better for the money spent.  


We ordered a large regular pizza with spinach, red peppers, and Italian sausage.  The crust was really thin and the sauce was a bit bland.  Still, it was pretty decent compared to some of the other pizza I’ve had in San Antonio.  Grimaldi’s offers white pizza (no sauce) and pizzas with pesto instead of sauce, too.

I was ready for pizza.  After two slices, we packed up the leftovers.  You can get a small or personal pizza if you prefer it.  I like sharing with Bill, though.

For dessert, we split a piece of Bailey’s Irish Cream cheesecake.  It was very nice; not too heavy and a delicious chocolate cookie crust.  The plate was drizzled with Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.


Our waiter was very friendly and attentive and we got good service.  Our bill came to about $49 before the tip.  All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience, though it doesn’t come close to our experience at Dough.  We need to go back there sometime soon for some really great pizza!