Last night’s take out triumph!

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In March, when our would-be new dog escaped from his pet transport and was later dispatched on the Autobahn, I joined a bunch of local Facebook groups spreading the news of his disappearance. Although the dog adoption did not work out, I stayed a member of the local groups. One Facebook group that has been particularly helpful is the Wir In Hofheim group.

We don’t live in Hofheim, but it’s very close to our neck of the woods. Though the Breckenheim community does have a Facebook group, it’s not as active or entertaining as the Hofheim group is. I should thank my Stuttgart area German friend, Susanne, for suggesting that I join these groups, even though they are mostly conducted in German. I’m learning a lot, not just about the local culture, but also language and community hot spots. It’s also a place where people sell things.

A couple of weeks ago, someone in the Hofheim group shared a link to a restaurant called Blanca Bistro. The food looked and sounded so good that I told Bill we needed to try it. Last night, we finally got our chance when Bill ordered take out.

Blanca Bistro serves healthy food. It appears to be mostly empanadas, salads, burritos, and Middle Eastern favorites like falafel and hummus. There are many vegan and vegetarian options, although the restaurant does serve beef and chicken, too. Last night, Bill got us a vegetarian tapas plate and chicken empanadas. He said when he went into the restaurant to get the food, it smelled wonderful in there. If we weren’t on lockdown, I think we’d happily go there to eat. I would love to eat better food, and if they can make vegetarian or vegan food that appeals to me, I’m all for it. I’d like to stop eating so much meat.

Here’s a picture of last night’s fabulous dinner. I am not a big “healthy food” fan, but I have to say that this food would make me a believer. Bill and I both felt great after we ate. The cartons were eco friendly and biodegradable. Only the sauces came in plastic.

The carton on the left contains two chicken empanadas and a delightful salad with greens, mangos, red peppers, and striped beets. The red dip was sort of a fresh tomato flavored sauce, while the white dip was creamy quark and chive sauce. The chicken empanada had peas, chicken, raisins, and carrots.

The carton on the right has a vegetarian empanada with ricotta, chia seeds, and spinach. It came with the same salad, as well as a chickpea and pomegranate seed salad, hummus, oven baked vegetables, and a falafel.

All of this cost about 27 euros, and it was delicious! We will definitely be back for more, and I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for more fun restaurants offering take out!

EDITED TO ADD… with much sadness… Blanca Bistro announced on May 8th that they will close because of COVID-19.

Middle Eastern eats at Yaz Eine Prise Orient…

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Bill and I had to go see Dr. Blair for dental cleanings this afternoon.  As is our habit, we both neglected to eat before we visited.  Consequently, we were both hungry when we were finished with the dentist.  It was about 4:00pm, though, which means that a lot of restaurants are enjoying a “pause” between lunch and dinner.  Fortunately, Dr. Blair’s office is in downtown Stuttgart and there are a number of restaurants near him that serve food all day.  Today, we decided to stop at one that has always intrigued us, Yaz Eine Prise Orient.

I know Bill was excited when I suggested Yaz.  He’s been interested in trying that place since we first arrived in 2014.  He’s always been overruled by my desire to eat somewhere else.  I have to admit, every time we’ve passed this restaurant, which also has a flagship location in Düsseldorf, it has smelled good.  It also looks like a relatively popular place, although it was pretty empty when we stopped in this afternoon.  I see on their Web site that they plan to expand the chain.

When you first walk into Yaz, you may be a little bit confused about what to do.  There’s a big menu on the wall, like what you’d see in a fast food place.  However, the servers told us to sit down wherever we wanted.  We selected a table by the window.  I liked the comfortable banquette seating against the wall.

Bill enjoys the menu.

As we perused the menu, which is rich with options for vegetarians and vegans as well as meat eaters, I found myself listening to the dance music that was playing.  It was kind of exotic sounding.  I don’t normally like dance music, but it seemed to fit well in Yaz.  Bill got up thinking he had to order at the counter, but the waitress told him she’d come to us.

The counter kind of confused us at first. 

Yaz offers a full bar as well as an interesting menu with a number of different choices.  You can have a yufka (which appears to be a wrap), tajine, teller, or a salad.  They also offer soups, snacks, and desserts.  Prices are very reasonable and portions are large.  Although we were both hungry, we decided against getting any of the grill specialties.  Instead, we had burgers.

Bill had a kofte, which was much like a cheeseburger, except it was made of meatballs and came on sesame seed bread.  It included grilled onions and mushrooms and barbecue sauce.  It also came with optional cheese, which Bill included, and a side of potatoes with mustard sauce and barbecue sauce.

Bill’s excellent burger.  I probably would have liked it sans fungus.

I went vegetarian for once and had a delicious falafel burger.   It was served on the same sesame seed bread and came with lettuce, tomato, hummus, mango sauce, pomegranate seeds, and grilled onions.  I took mine without cheese.  Our sandwiches came with an additional side of fresh bread that was delicious.

This was an excellent sandwich.  I am definitely not someone who ordinarily eats vegetarian, but I was very happy with this.  I would order it again.  Yaz offers several options for vegans and vegetarians.  I also enjoyed the dips that came with the sandwiches, especially the sweet, spicy mustard.  The barbecue sauce tasted strongly of harissa.  

After we ate, I went to use the ladies room.  Unfortunately, it was closed.  There was a sign on the door asking the ladies to use the men’s room.  I couldn’t help but laugh to myself.  Germans have no problems with unisex bathrooms!

Tonight’s dinner came to a very reasonable 24,50.  Bill rounded up to 30 euros, which seemed to please the waitress.  We were done and out of there less than an hour after we arrived.  I imagine Yaz is very popular at lunchtime.

The sign at the entrance to Yaz.  It kind of shows you what they offer.

Outside the restaurant.

Overall, we were very happy we stopped by Yaz tonight.  It was a refreshing change of pace and any time I manage to go meat free and enjoy it, I feel good.  I would definitely recommend Yaz to anyone else who enjoys Middle Eastern food, especially if they happen to be in Stuttgart at a time when other eateries are “paused”.

Pushing beyond my comfort zone at Reiskorn in Stuttgart!

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Calling all vegans, vegetarians, gluten free and Asian fusion lovers!  Are you finding it hard to find good restaurants in the Stuttgart area?  Well, this review is especially for you… although meat eaters may also appreciate it.  Today’s restaurant review is of Reiskorn, a restaurant Bill and I tried for the first time last night after I booked it on OpenTable.de.  I discovered Reiskorn a couple of weeks ago, while looking at the list of OpenTable restaurants in the Stuttgart area.

OpenTable is an online restaurant reservation service.  I started using it in 2002, months before Bill and I got married.  He wanted me to find a place for us to celebrate my 30th birthday in Washington, DC.  I ended up picking Kinkead’s, a famous but now defunct seafood restaurant downtown.  I’ve been using OpenTable ever since then.  I even used it when we lived in Germany the first time, though back then, Stuttgart only had two or three restaurants using the service.  I’m happy to say that there are now hundreds of OpenTable restaurants in Stuttgart, which makes getting reservations very easy.  Of course, it also leads to me finding new places to have dinner!  So far this week, we’ve used OpenTable three times to make dinner reservations.

I will admit that I chose Reiskorn in part because of reviews on OpenTable, as well as the photos of the food and their “Sommergarten” which, as far as I could tell, wasn’t open last night.  The place was described as serving “Asian fusion” food, as well as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free dishes.  I was so intrigued by the beautiful photos that I showed them to Bill, who was definitely up for trying the place.  I made a reservation for 8:00pm last night, but somehow got the time wrong and we showed up at 7:00pm instead.

Reiskorn is located in downtown Stuttgart, very close to The Block House, another place we need to try.

The first thing to know about Reiskorn is that it’s a small restaurant.  The dining room consists of a single room with low tables and chairs.  There are several large tables that serve multiple parties and only a couple of tables for two.  When we arrived last night, the service was in full swing and it was pretty crowded, as well as very loud.  But a very cute and petite German lady with long brown hair very kindly found us a spot at a long table for four facing the street outside.  We shared it with two other ladies, who paid no attention to us.

Reiskorn specializes in Asian inspired cuisine, but Asia is a big continent and they put their own spin on their food.  So it’s not a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant per se, though you might find Thai or Vietnamese inspired dishes on the menu.  Likewise, you might find hummus or falafel, also foods from Asian countries.

When we sat down, our waitress asked us whether we wanted German or English menus.  We said we could read German, but she gave us English menus anyway.  Actually, I was okay with that, since there are a few foods that I really don’t like.  Mushrooms, which are often found in Asian foods, are at the top of that list!  Fortunately, we didn’t have any fungal surprises last night.

I also noticed that the restaurant’s drink menu was inspired by sustainable and “bio” friendly sources.  They had some very creative cocktails as well as non-alcoholic fruit and mint waters and juices.  Bill and I both drank natural hefeweizens made by Franziskaner, but I was tempted by some of the more unique choices.  I saw a lot of people drinking water with crushed oranges and mint.  I kind of wish I’d tried that last night.

We started off with this fabulous Thai inspired appetizer for two.  There were coconut chicken strips, chicken satay, shrimp rolls, vegetable rolls, and seafood “sacks” (tasted like shrimp).  The appetizer came with three housemade dips, including some killer peanut sauce.  

 

I loved our appetizer so much.  I was especially impressed by the chicken, which was very tender, juicy, and flavorful.  I could have ordered just this and been very happy.  Bill was reluctant to order it because he worried it was too big, but it turned out to be the perfect size for us.  But then, we came into the restaurant hungry.

A profile shot of Bill.  This was pretty much the only way I could do it because we were kind of cramped in our corner.

 

It was awhile before our main courses came.  I have read that service is rather leisurely at Reiskorn, though it was crowded enough last night that I didn’t get the sense the servers were slacking off.  In any case, I recommend relaxing and enjoying the vibe.  We also took the opportunity to use the restrooms, which are as tiny as the rest of the restaurant is.  I ended up having to wait for two ladies ahead of me, which killed some time.

I took a photo of the view from where we were sitting.  It was actually an interesting place to sit because you can easily watch life unfolding for passersby.  At one point, an ambulance showed up to help some elderly guy and we saw plenty of folks from every walk of life getting on with their day, some of whom stopped to check out the restaurant or gawk at us while we ate.  It was also fun watching groups of people enjoy the outside tables at the bar next door.  

My main course was a vegan, gluten free, low carb dish: falafel with a tomato coconut mango sauce.  It came with a seasonal salad that had a very tasty dressing.  I was almost able to finish the main course, though I only managed a little of the salad.  I’ve had a lot of falafel that I didn’t like much because it was too dry.  This falafel was excellent, especially with the delightful sauce and bits of mango.  It’s not often that I really enjoy something supposedly so good for me.  I’d like to try vegan food more often.

Bill had chicken strips in red curry with colorful seasonal vegetables, rice, and lemon grass.  His dish had some kick to it, though Bill described it as tangy and somewhat mild.  The dish was very “Thai” inspired, with coconut milk and lime juice.  I preferred my falafel and I think Bill did too.  He said next time, he’d order that, although he liked the chicken as well.  

As the sun set and it got dark outside, I was suddenly glad we got to the restaurant an hour early.  It was almost nine o’clock when we ordered dessert… yet another vegan creation…

Bill and I split this fabulous vegan, gluten free, and lactose free lemon pie.   The crust was made of chickpeas, but I never would have guessed it.  The pie was lemon and coconut creme, topped with a caramel creme.  I actually would not have guessed it was topped with caramel, but regardless, it was delicious.  And we didn’t feel stuffed when were finished.

 

Total bill for last night’s meal was about 56 euros.  Aside from being the most interesting of the three meals we ate this week, it was also by far the least expensive.

Bill and I really enjoyed the food at Reiskorn.  We also liked the funky decor, which looked like it was outfitted by Novica, one of my favorite cash drains.  One thing I didn’t like as much was the noise and the rather crowded dining room.  On the other hand, the fact that Reiskorn is so popular is a sign that it’s a good place.  I can see why people like Reiskorn and if we lived closer to Stuttgart, we’d probably end up being regulars, despite the crowds.

I think Reiskorn has something for everyone, but I would especially recommend it to people who have special dietary needs.  There are plenty of meat free, gluten free, and milk free options for those who require it.  And we thought the prices were very reasonable.  Needless to say, Reiskorn gets my vote!