Germany

More scenes from the big room…

It was mostly an uneventful day, until it rained while the sun was out.  Honestly, this view is what makes this area so special…  So sorry I couldn’t get the whole rainbow in one photo.  Wow… this is what makes this house worth living in.  I should mention that as I prepare this post, the rainbow is now gone.  But wow… what a show tonight!

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Germany

As seen from my big room…

Since I will soon have different views and different windows, I paid special attention to what was outside today.  The leaves are turning and it’s getting really pretty here, but the weather is still nice.  Lots of people and creatures were enjoying it, as you can see…

It does help to be quick, observant, and have a camera with good zooming capability.  I hope our next home is somewhat out in the country.  I’d rather see this than other people’s roofs and/or motorways…

Enhanced…

 

This bird was circling for several minutes… Made me lose concentration on the shitty Lifetime movie I was watching on YouTube.

It’s easy to watch from my window as lots of planes take off and land.  I’m assuming the ones ascending are leaving Stuttgart, whereas the ones descending might be headed for another airport…  Zurich maybe?  I dunno.

Looks like the Alpirsbacher balloon, which is also in the last picture in this post.  Don’t know if they have more than one.

And finally, it was yet another nice day for balloons.  I’ve seen this one a few times, but I have never zoomed in quite so close.  I have a picture from our first time here that I took in our former backyard. This is something you see a lot of in Germany, but not so often in the United States.  I will miss this view… but who knows what lies ahead when we move?  Maybe it will be better, but I bet it’ll be more expensive.  Oh well.  There’s always a tradeoff.  Glad Bill is employed in Germany… and I will get to write about another part of Germany.

 

I just hope a few people will still be interested…  

Taken from our backyard in Pfäffingen, back in 2009.  I will miss this area a lot.

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We finally see the inside of the Sindlinger Hof and eat Greek food!

Bill and I have lived in Unterjettingen for almost four whole years.  Unterjettingen is just on the edge of Böblingen County, but feels pretty far removed from the area near Panzer Barracks.  We feel like we’re pretty much out in the country… more like we’re in Calw, the border of which is maybe two or three kilometers away.  When most Americans think of Böblingen, they probably think of the downtown area, which is very built up.  Where Bill and I live, it’s pretty rural.  There’s a tiny village called Sindlingen just next to us, where there’s a farm that sells fresh produce, there’s a Christmas tree lot, and a horse farm owned by a former Olympian.  I’m not sure, but I think the horse farm is a castle that doubles as a B&B.  Every year, there’s also a large horse show that I can’t bring myself to watch.

I must confess that my heart kind of breaks every time we drive through tiny Sindlingen.  I grew up riding and showing horses and I haven’t been in the saddle in decades.  I really miss having horses in my life; I would rather hang around them and dogs than most people.  I usually catch myself looking wistfully at the horses who cross the road as their riders take them on a lovely hack in the beautiful countryside.  Dammit, I miss that so much!  Someday, when Bill finally retires, maybe I’ll have a horse again… and a smart alecky donkey, too.

Another thing that has always intrigued me, at least until tonight, was the large Sindlinger Hof restaurant.  Ever since 2014, Bill and I have passed this impressive looking facility that always seemed to be closed.  After awhile, we got the sense that it only opened for private events.  So, since September 2014, we’ve been passing this restaurant, wondering if we’d ever have the chance to try it.  Well… tonight, we finally got the opportunity.  Apparently, the Sindlinger Hof was taken over by a Greek restauranteur.  Although it says “Sindlinger Hof” outside, the restaurant is now called “El Greco”.  Bill noticed a sign indicating it was going to be open, so we decided to try it tonight.

The first thing to know about El Greco in Sindlingen is that it’s got plenty of parking.  Right next to the restaurant is a country lane where I’ve seen many riders and horses… and tonight, we did encounter some evidence that horses had been near the restaurant.  Having cleaned my fair share of stalls, I know what fly picked manure looks like.  Not that I fault the restaurant for that, of course.  I find horse manure a lot less offensive than dog poo, and there was no sign of that tonight.

When we approached the very attractive and busy terrace, we were told that all of the tables were reserved.  We decided to eat inside.  I’m glad we did, even though it was a bit warm this evening.  The inside of the restaurant is very attractive.  There’s a long row of nice booths alongside wide windows, and plenty of comfortable tables and chairs.  The bar area is especially nice, although it doesn’t appear to be set up for drinkers.  I didn’t see a lot of different libations there, just beer and wine and extra dishes.

Bill prays Mormon style as he looks at the menu, which offers both German and Greek dishes.

One or two of the very busy servers appeared to be a little bit nervous.  I don’t know exactly how long El Greco has been operating, but it kind of had the feel of opening night.  There were a lot of people there.  I noticed that the staff was competent, but seemed like they weren’t quite in sync.  I’m sure that will come in time.  Since it was our first visit, we decided to have some tried and true choices.  I went with gyros and Bill had souvlaki.

We each enjoyed salads, which were very good.  I especially liked the dressing, which was kind of a light mustard vinaigrette.  Then, some time later, a cook brought out our main courses.

Bill enjoys his souvlaki, which was delicious… tasted like it came right off the grill.

 

And I had gyros that were better than usual… I even enjoyed the pommes, which tasted fresh.  I finished half of this and brought the rest home for later.  Takeaway was no problem.

A look at the bar area.  It’s very nice!  I’m sure this facility was built for the horse events that take place across the street, but we rarely saw it open.  It’s out in the country, so maybe it doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves…

 

There’s a lot of seating, although most people preferred to sit outside.  

 

Dinner was very good, although it took some time to get our plates cleared and the check presented.  Bill had to ask again for the bill.  Again, I think it’s because they just opened and had a lot of business.  The service itself was professional and friendly, if not a bit harried.  I think once they get into a groove and aren’t so new anymore, it’ll be a nice place to have Greek food.  And… bonus is that it’s within walking distance of where we live.  It’s not as close as Dimi’s was, but it’s certainly reachable by foot if the weather is nice.

 

Bill enjoys a house shot of ouzo.  I give them props for not giving me fruit juice!  Both the pepper and the ouzo had a kick, too.

And this is the view you get on the way out…

 

Not a great shot of the terrace, but I didn’t want to be too obvious.  

Total bill for tonight was 35 euros, which Bill rounded up to 40.  The waitress thanked us for coming in and said she hoped we’d be back.  On a side note, I had one of those thrilling experiences of actually understanding a lot of what was said to me tonight.  I call that a big win!  Hopefully, this place will stay open awhile so we can go back and try some of their other stuff.

Edited to add:  My German friend has provided a link to an article about the people running this restaurant and another they have in Horb.  Open the link in Google Chrome to get the translated version.

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Partying with Germans!

Last night, the neighbor two doors down from us held a party for the neighborhood.  They planned this gathering several weeks ago.  I found an invite in German with a handwritten note in English asking us to join them.  We were asked to bring something to grill and a salad.  Bill cooked ribs on the grill at home and made a minted cucumber salad, which was really good.  He also brought a few of his homebrews.

Quite a few of our neighbors speak English, so we weren’t without people to talk to.  Bill speaks some German and I understand more and more every day, although I still don’t speak it.  It was nice to hang out with these people we’ve been living among for the past three years.

Bill bonded with the host when he shared his latest homemade beer, a red ale.  The host liked it, although his daughter tried it and I don’t think she was all that impressed.  I have a feeling Bill will be teaching him how to brew beer.  We learned that the host and his wife and kids lived in Boston for a few years, so they are quite familiar with us Yanks.

Unfortunately, Bill got to talking beer with the host while we were heating up the ribs, so they got a bit overdone.  Next time, we’ll bring wurst or something.

It was actually kind of interesting talking to the neighbors, especially the lady who lives next door to us.  I learned that she was a nurse for years.  She doesn’t speak much English, though she speaks more English than I do German.  I learned that she was athletic as a youngster and likes to sing, as I do.  And another neighbor is an opera singer.  I’ve been known to sing a few arias myself.

Having great neighbors is a huge plus.  I haven’t gotten to know the people in our neighborhood, but they’ve been tolerant and respectful of us.  And now that we’ve partied with them, I think the mood will be even better.  It will certainly be better than it was in Texas.  Every day in July, when I look at Facebook’s “On this day” feature, I am reminded of the hell that was July 2014, as we were planning to move to Germany and I was recovering from my dad’s death.  I must admit that it was absolutely worth it to move back here.

This was one of the beers our hosts offered us.  It was an excellent dark beer.  We’ll have to find it sometime.

Bill starts a new job today… well, it’s not a new job in that he’s working in the same office with the same people.  It’s just a new company.  So this week, he and his other colleagues who are joining the new company will be doing all of the administrative stuff that comes with starting a new job.  I will need a new ID card, which is always a pleasure…  NOT.  But at least I’ll get to see Bill during the day sometime this week.

As we were socializing last night, I was reminded of how glad I am we didn’t have to move this year. Germany is really feeling more and more like home, which is sad, since I know I will someday have to leave.  Oh well… for now, we will enjoy our good fortune.

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Germany, restaurant reviews

Under new ownership… an old neighborhood favorite goes bust…

For the past couple of years, Bill and I have taken advantage of having a good Greek restaurant within walking distance of our house.  Taverne Bei Dimi was a great standby when we weren’t in the mood to cook.  Granted, we hadn’t visited in the past few months, although we did try recently, only to find the place closed.  We thought maybe Dimi had gone to Greece for Christmas or something.

Last night, we decided we’d try to go to Dimi’s for dinner.  We made the familiar short walk from our house.  As we approached, I noticed that the vibe of the place seemed off.  I could see there were lights on in what looked like a downstairs dining room.  Dimi never had those lights on.  The small parking lot was full of cars.  I could see a few people in the back area of the dining room, where Dimi had video gambling.  That part of the restaurant allowed smoking and Dimi usually had it closed off from the rest.

I noticed the front door wasn’t open the way it usually was and I could see a strange looking bald man in the kitchen.  Then, when we opened the door to the dining room, we were almost bowled over by heavy cigarette smoke, a TV, and bright lights.  I looked around and saw that there were different tables, a drink fridge, and all of Dimi’s art was gone.  I did notice that Dimi’s signs were still up.

The proprietor welcomed us to sit down, although he said there was no food available.  The proprietor was polite, but had the air of a eastern European Mafioso or something.  It was creepy.  They were only serving drinks.  I’m not sure, but it sounded like they were working on hiring someone to cook.  I won’t be back, though.  That place was just full of acrid smoke and appeared to be taken over by a bunch of compulsive, chain smoking gamblers.  I remembered they used to annoy Dimi, because they didn’t want to GTFO in a timely manner.

I don’t know what happened.  My guess is that Dimi wasn’t getting enough business in his location.  I also think it’s possible that he might have had some health problems.  I do remember many times seeing him looking flushed and diaphoretic as he cooked and served his customers.  Ah well.  After a week of exhausting political dramas, I was looking forward to ouzo.  Guess we’ll have to go somewhere else.

Bill and I ended up going to Tommi’s Bistro last night.  It had been awhile since our last visit there, too.  Unlike Dimi, it looked like Tommi might be thriving.  He changed his plates and it looked like maybe he had someone else cooking.  Most of the tables were reserved last night, too.  We ended up sitting at a very large table and were later joined by several Germans.  I was glad to see business booming for the best steak house in the area.

Bill is ready for beef.

I had a two hundred gram entrecote with wild potatoes and dip.  I don’t really like sour cream, but I have to admit the dip on those potatoes is awesome.  It’s got a little garlic in it.

Bill had a two hundred gram rump steak with pommes.

I noticed Tommi has personalized some of his tableware, too.  

 

Tommi’s Bistro is right next to a music club.  I love visiting Tommi’s when the club is rehearsing, like last night.

I snapped a photo as we were walking out.

 

It’s too bad Dimi’s appears to have gone the way of Burger Chef.  I hope he’s alright, but I take heart in knowing that sometimes these unexpected closures turn out okay.  Case in point.  When we lived here last time, the restaurant we now all know and love as The Auld Rogue was a Greek restaurant called Taverna Faros.  I had my very first dorade there.  Bill and I went several times when we were stuck living in the Vaihinger Hof for six weeks as we waited for our housing to be ready.

Sometime after we moved into our house, Taverna Faros went under.  One day, we decided we wanted to eat at Taverna Faros and discovered it had become City Club.  We were very sad about that, especially since City Club looked rather sleazy.

Now, of course, City Club is no longer and we have the wonderful Auld Rogue to go to for good food, fine whisky, Irish suds, sports, and live music!  Although I doubt my neighborhood haunt will turn into anything as awesome as The Auld Rogue, hope springs eternal.  And, if we don’t end up being thrown out of Europe due to our new president’s antics, maybe someday we’ll get to enjoy it.

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Germany

Happy 2017!

I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year.  May it be prosperous and full of hope and love for everyone… although as a realist, I can’t help but realize that after tomorrow, it’ll be business as usual.

I managed to capture a few pictures of fireworks last night.  They aren’t that great, but I did manage to get some video, too, so I turned it into a not so entertaining movie set to an old ABBA song.  We had good weather for fireworks last night.

I am itching to get out of the house, so it’ll be good when the holiday season is finished and things get back to normal.

My neighbors put on a good show!  I was hoping for a new camera for Christmas, but Santa hasn’t delivered yet.  Maybe later this month…

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friends, Germany, restaurant reviews

Another American in Jettingen!

Last night, Bill and I decided to go to Taverne bei Dimi’s for our Friday night Greek fix.  It turned out to be an interesting evening, mainly because there were more English speakers than Germans there.  In fact, we noticed one German couple sitting between our table and a large table of Germans and at least one Brit.  Everyone was speaking English.

The waitress was one I hadn’t seen before.  She seemed to be German and was very pleasant.  Dimi was happy to see us, too, and offered a wave as he served lots of food.

Bill and I decided to have something different and ordered a sampler platter for two…

We got two of these beautiful farmer’s salads.  I was enjoying filling up on the vegetables until I got an unusually hot pepper!  I could have used some yogurt!

This was our platter.  It came with Dimi’s yummy fries, bifteki, souvlaki, gyros, and pork steaks, as well as plenty of t’zatziki.  We managed less than half and brought the rest home.  This was a pretty good deal, too.  For two people, it was 27 euros.  

 

While we were eating, an older black gentleman and his son and daughter arrived.  I knew he was an American immediately because he wore a wedding ring on his left hand.  He sat down with the group of Germans and their British friend, but I noticed he kept looking over at us.  He eventually came over and introduced himself.  It turns out he and his family live in Oberjettingen.  His wife is German and he is a government civilian who wished to become a contractor because he’s about to be rotated out of Germany.

So he and Bill talked and it turned out he was trying to score an interview with Bill’s company.  Bill, being a “pay it forward” kind of guy, promised to talk to his boss.  I’m kind of a big believer in fateful encounters.  As I mentioned last week, I have a knack for running into people I used to know.  I also have a knack for doing things that end up benefitting others.

When I was in the Peace Corps, I helped out a beautiful young Armenian woman who was hoping to go to college in the United States.  I didn’t know her, but had noticed she had posted an ad in the Peace Corps office looking for people who had attended certain private east coast colleges.  She needed to be interviewed by alums in order to be accepted.  I happened to know a couple of people who had gone to the colleges she was interested in attending, so I took her number and passed it on to my friends.  They both talked to her and were very impressed.  She ended up getting a full scholarship to Bowdoin College.  She also got accepted to Hamilton College, which was the other school she wanted to attend.

I know about this because I ended up meeting her one night while visiting another friend.  She was dating an American teenager who was the son of a professor who worked for the US Department of Agriculture.  When she found out what I’d done, she thanked me profusely.  The Peace Corps does attract a lot of graduates of small, private, liberal arts colleges, but the odds there would be two local alums available in Yerevan was pretty slim.  Fortunately, someone noticed her ad and knew two people who could help her.

I am certainly not responsible for her success.   She was a very bright and engaging young woman who impressed my friends, who were alums.  All I did was help set the conditions for her success.  I’m thinking that maybe Bill can do the same thing for the man we met last night.  I think it’s a good way to foster positive karma.  I don’t know how my Armenian acquaintance’s story ended.  I’d like to think she enjoyed four years at a very exclusive school.  But I didn’t even know her well enough to be able to Facebook stalk her.  I only remember her first name.

Anyway, this guy we met last night has very good reasons for wanting to stay in Germany.  His son is in high school and plays football.  If they have to move, it’ll be to Fort Polk, Louisiana.  Granted, I haven’t been to Fort Polk, but I have heard it’s not exactly the greatest place to be.  And if you are a civilian, there’s no telling how long the government will keep you in an assignment stateside.

So, I’m hoping things work out for our new friend.  In any case, it’s nice to know we aren’t totally alone out here on the edge of the Black Forest.

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Germany, live music, restaurant reviews

Unexpected fun!

The best kind of fun is the fun you never expected to have.  Last night, Bill and I decided to go to Tommi’s Bistro for dinner.  Although I usually keep track of events there by checking their Web site, I failed to do that last night.  They usually have events on Thursdays and Saturdays, so I was expecting our usual quiet dinner.  When we arrived, our favorite waitress, Dani, was there.  She smiled in delight when she saw us and gave me a big hug!  I wasn’t expecting such a warm reception, but I definitely appreciated it.  She made us feel very welcome.

I looked around and noticed all the reserved signs on the tables.  On the stage were Vitek Spacek, the guy who leads the jam sessions every second Thursday of the month, and his brilliant keyboard player, whose name escapes me right now.  There was also a bald guy I’d never seen before.  Turns out, he was the headliner, David Hanselmann.  At first, I thought he was American.  I heard him speaking English like a native.  Edited to add, I have just learned that David Hanselmann is German-American, hence his very native grasp of both German and English.  I have also heard that Mr. Hanselmann has been suffering from cancer and wasn’t able to perform last year.  I never would have guessed after seeing him perform last night.  He put on a great show and we really enjoyed it.

We asked Dani if there was room for us, even though we hadn’t reserved.  She said there was.  She put us at a four top that had been reserved for two people.  I felt a little bad about it, even though I know it’s not uncommon for Germans to share tables even if they aren’t actually together.

Anyway, Bill and I had our usual delicious entrcote steaks, though he had his with a small side salad.  He’s trying to watch his weight so he can get into his dress blues when we go on our cruise.  I had my usual addictive wild potatoes.  We shared a bottle of wine and were pretty much done eating before the show started.  Although we could have left, we decided to stick around and were soon joined by the Germans who had thought to reserve.  We paid 15 euros per person and though we didn’t stay until the very end of the show, it was well worth the price of admission.

The couple we sat with came from Calw to see the show.  The male half spoke very good English.  His wife seemed somewhat less fluent.  Both of them were friendly and welcoming and we enjoyed an interesting conversation with them as we listened to David Hanselmann’s musical stylings.  He sang a lot of great songs from the 70s and 80s as he played an electronic drum.  The crowd really got into it when he sang “Easy” by the Commodores.  Toward the end of the evening, a couple of intrepid ladies got up and danced!

I didn’t have the best view of the stage…

The music still sounded great!

 

We’re going to have to make a habit of attending more of the shows at Tommi’s.  It’s such a treat to live in a town with a venue that offers great steak, friendly service, and fabulous music.  Dani reminded us that there’s a live jam session on Thursday.  She will be working and said she hopes we can make it.  Even Bill, who is chronically tired during the work week, says he’s game!  That might be just the thing to get us in the mood before our next trip begins on March 14th.

I see they are having Scottish folk music on the 19th.  I think we’d attend if we weren’t already going to be in Scotland!

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anecdotes, Germany, restaurant reviews

This weather makes me want to hibernate…

I was in the mood to go out last night, but we didn’t feel like going far.  It was so dark outside and cold.  We ended up at Taverne beim Griechen, the Greek place in a sportsplatz near where we live.  We have another Greek restaurant we could walk to, but when it’s really cold and dark outside, I can’t be bothered to walk.  Besides, we really like the food at Taverne beim Griechen.  I wanted dorade in the worst way.

We were greeted by the Greek lady who always waits on us.  She speaks no English, but our German is slowly improving.  In fact, just this week, I finished Duolingo’s German tree again.  I can still practice all the lessons, since I am far from fluent, but I’m not acquiring new lessons until they add to them.  I suppose I should just sign up for a class, but that would require me to go out and mingle.  As I said, this cold, foggy, dark weather makes me want to hibernate and be antisocial.

Anyway, we had a nice meal last night.  I had the dorade and Bill went with salmon steaks.  I have had the dorade at Taverne beim Griechen before, but I think this might have been the first time either of us ordered salmon at Taverne beim Griechen.

We had a bottle of Greek wine, along with our usual water.  

This fish was delicious!  One thing I love about living in Europe is getting to eat dorade a lot.  I’m sure it’s available in the States somewhere, but I have never eaten it there.  Here in Germany, I get it fairly often.  Taverne Beim Griechen does a good job with it!  They serve it with a garlic sauce that isn’t too potent.

Bill’s salmon steaks.  He said these were good.  The skin was pleasantly charred and the flesh was not too dry.  

 

Service and food, as usual, were great!  It was nice to go back after the new year.  I noticed a lot of people were enjoying a Friday night dinner there along with us.  Someone brought what looked like an adorable bichon frise with them.  I wish our dogs were well behaved enough to go into restaurants!

The weather is rather schlecht looking this morning.  Maybe later, we’ll venture out, though.  In a few days, I will be having dental implant surgery and a sinus lift, so I may not be up to any restaurant visits next weekend.

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Zum Schiff in Unterjettingen…

It’s becoming customary for Bill and me to go out on Friday nights.  Last night, I was thinking maybe we’d go to the big city, since Bill was home early for Labor Day weekend.  But Bill had noticed a local restaurant was offering a pumpkin soup that sounded good.  It was a restaurant we had not yet visited and is close enough to our house to walk to, so we decided to try it out.

The front door of Zum Schiff, a local Gasthaus…

Nautical theme abounds…

 

We walked into the restaurant and climbed a flight of stairs to the very charming dining room where several gentlemen were already seated at the small bar, enjoying Friday evening beers.  We were invited to sit anywhere, so we chose a table in the corner, away from the bar and offering me the chance to see most everything going on.  The bartender/chef brought us a couple of large beers and we checked out the menu.

 

This was the extent of the food offered, though they did have a couple of specials posted on a chalkboard outside…

 

Bill ended up not ordering the pumpkin soup, even though that was what had attracted him to Zum Schiff in the first place.  Instead, he ordered the Zweibelrostbraten mit Brot und Salat (onion roast beef with bread and salad).  I had the Lachsfilet an Hummer Sauce mit Tagliatelle (salmon filet with lobster sauce and tagliatelle).  My iPhone came in handy, since I didn’t know what a Hummer was… in German, anyway.

The evening proceeded at a leisurely pace and a few more folks showed up.  The female proprietor obviously knew them and was giving them enthusiastic greetings.  I could tell this was a very popular local place.

This bread was excellent, mainly because of the butters served with them.  The one in the square dish was mixed with dill and onion.  Reminded me of sour cream and onion flavoring on potato chips.  The one in the round dish was horseradish and what tasted like cilantro or something similar.  It was very good.

Obligatory shot of Bill.

Salad.  Bill’s looked just like this, only his had some potato salad on the bottom.  He said it was excellent.

The lady running the place brought out salt and what looked like a bottle of wine.  At first, we thought maybe it was an advertisement for a specific bottle.  But then Bill noticed it something different…

You might think we ordered wine…

And we discovered that the wine bottle was actually a pepper grinder…

Then it was time for the main course.  I was pleasantly surprised by how beautifully it was presented…

Wildflowers on the plate… nice touch!

Both dishes were very good.  My salmon was cooked perfectly.  Bill’s beef was very tender and juicy.  I noticed it was somewhat rare.  He did mention that the cut had a little bit of gristle and fat, but tasted fine.  The gravy was especially nice.  They also brought out more bread.  I couldn’t eat all that was offered.

The wine pepper grinder made us decide to have wine for dessert.  I had a Bardolino and Bill had a very rich Sicilian wine called Nero D’avola.  It reminded me of port.

By the time we got our wine, more people were coming in and being greeted by the friendly hostess.  When I saw someone with a piece of cake with a candle in it, I realized it was someone’s birthday.  I noticed a few folks peeking over and Bill and me, probably wondering what two Americans were doing in a little gasthaus in a place like Jettingen.  Finally, the bartender/chef came over to talk to us and asked if we lived in the town.  I guess he figured that would be the only reason we’d be hanging out there.  That was the first English we spoke to the staff all evening.  It was kind of refreshing.

After we ate, we went to Tommi’s for more wine…  I am feeling it today.  Tommi’s is located two doors down from Zum Schiff.

 

Overall, we had a nice evening.  We will definitely go back to Zum Schiff next time we’re in the mood for some very authentic German gasthaus fare.

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