German Christmas #9

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I just counted the number of Christmases Bill and I have spent together in Germany. We’re now up to nine. That’s 2007, 2008, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and now, 2020. Bill spent a few more Bavarian Christmases here before we knew each other, when he was a lieutenant in the Army. Technically, we were in France last year for Christmas, but we still put up the tree at home and opened presents in Germany… so I count that as a German Christmas, too.

Yesterday’s Christmas was very nice. The best part of it was the lack of drama, which is a feature in almost all of the holidays I’ve spent with Bill. We really get along well, so being together on Christmas is a pleasure. There’s no fighting. Bill and I have both experienced enough holiday fights to last us the rest of our lives.

Anyway, our day went like this. Arran woke us up at 5:30am, as he always does, to go out for a pee and have his breakfast. Bill came back to bed and Arran snuggled into my arms. I slept until about 8:30am; these days, that is unheard of for either of us. We got up and had breakfast, then opened presents. I always get Bill more presents than he gets for me, so our gift exchange is always lopsided. This year, I decided to get him some really silly things. Here are a few photos.

There were other gifts, of course. I got Bill new shirts, a singing bowl (got one for myself, too), an Anova vacuum sealer and bags for his sous vide (a gift from several years ago that he uses a lot), and a really cool puzzle from Thailand made of wooden shapes. Bill got me a guitar repair kit, a couple of music books, a couple of t-shirts from Prairie Artisan Ales (in Oklahoma), and a guitar amp, which he gave me earlier this month to use with my new guitar.

My mother-in-law sent me a digital picture frame for the computer and, for both of us, a very interesting looking cookbook by a TV chef from eastern North Carolina. I was not familiar with the chef, but the pictures in her book make me think we’ll have a lot of fun with her southern recipes. We got so many new books that I am going to have to buy a new bookshelf.

My favorite gift of all, though, was a video Bill had sent to me by Vartoush Tota– otherwise known as Mary Basmadjian. Mary Basmadjian is the “Funny Armenian Girl”, and her videos are all over Facebook. I happen to love her comedy because I lived in Armenia for two years in the 1990s, teaching English as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I haven’t been back there since 1997, but I’ve been wanting to go. So Bill requested a video shout out from her, including a script that he wrote. It was a total surprise and I loved it! I didn’t think I would get such a kick out of a “shout out” video, but I totally did!

This was my FAVORITE gift!

After we opened gifts, Bill went to one of our favorite local restaurants, Villa Im Tal, and picked up our Christmas dinner. We usually like to cook for holidays, but since COVID-19 has impacted restaurants so much, we’ve ordered food for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. I’m not sure what we’ll do for New Year’s, though. Maybe that holiday will be a bit low key.

Anyway, this was our fabulous meal… Bill broke out the china and fancy silverware for it, too.

I’m not sure why Bill ordered duck for me. I think I would have loved the prime rib just as much. I did taste it, and it was sinful! I liked the duck too, and we do have leftovers for today. The biggest surprise for me, though, was the soup. I didn’t find the color of it very appetizing. I have a weird thing against beige foods, I guess. But– after the first spoonful, I was eager to finish the rich, velvety soup. The croutons were surprising. Some of them managed to stay crunchy even though they were saturated. There was also salmon in the soup, which balanced the base. It was delicious. I’d love to have it when it’s not take out. I also liked the dessert very much– cubes of chocolate cake artfully arranged with fruits and cream. God, I miss dining out, but this was a nice compromise. I think Bill said it cost about $160.

Villa Im Tal is also offering a New Year’s Eve dinner, but the choices for that don’t look quite as appealing. They involve a lot of liver and caviar. If we did order one (and I guess they still have availability, since they included an ad for it in our order yesterday), we’d probably go for the middle choice.

We finished off the evening by watching a few Rankin & Bass children’s specials from our childhoods. These were classic Christmas shows that came on TV every year. They probably still do…

If you were an American kid in the 70s and 80s, you’ve probably seen this.

We watched three specials, but had to quit after the third… There’s only so much Rankin & Bass I can take in one sitting. I switched to reading more of John Bolton’s book, which I hope to have finished very soon. I’m ready to start a new book that has nothing to do with politics.

All in all, it was a great Christmas. Noyzi and Arran had fun, too. Especially at dinner time! Bonus– I also got some housework done, so I don’t have to do it today.

One last thing… I made a music video the other day. It’s a pretty Christmas song that Olivia Newton-John did for the collaboration effort, Liv On, with Beth Nielsen Chapman and Amy Sky. I thought it was a moving and unusual holiday choice, so I decided to cover it. I used photos and video from our 2016 Ireland trip… Wish I could be there now.

Hope you had a nice holiday, too!

A delightfully normal restaurant experience at Villa im Tal!

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My husband, Bill, has been trying to get me to go out and do stuff for some time now. I kept demurring because I didn’t want to hassle with all the new rules. It’s just as easy to stay home and play with my new guitar. Bill finally insisted yesterday, after we wasted the day drinking beer in the backyard and waiting for a package to be delivered. He booked us a table for 1:45pm at Villa im Tal, which is one of our favorite restaurants here in the Wiesbaden area. I must admit, he didn’t have to try too hard. I’ve been denying him for weeks and it was only fair.

We got kind of dressed up for our outing. Bill dressed like he was going to the office. I put on a dress and some jewelry and fixed my hair and face. It’s the most dolled up we’ve been since I can’t remember… or, it’s the most dolled up I’ve been, anyway. Bill decided to drive my Mini, since it needed some road time, especially since it was just serviced. We arrived right on time for our appointment, dutifully donning our paper masks, and a delightful and familiar waitress named Petra led us to our outdoor table. Much to our amazement, she said we didn’t have to wear masks at all! Apparently, the rules in Hesse changed again very recently. We didn’t even have to put them on to go to the restroom, although we did see a few people wearing them and the waitresses all wore clear, plastic shields that covered their mouths, but not the rest of their faces.

So I put my mask in my purse; we sat down at a table and ordered a bottle sparkling water to share and a glass of champagne for me. It was time to celebrate eating normally at a restaurant, which we hadn’t done since March. After Bill filled out a form with our contact information in case there’s a coronavirus outbreak and we need to be contacted, we were handed our laminated menus, which are definitely the norm nowadays, and we made our choices… Below the pictures of a glorious meal, both in terms of taste and of sheer normalcy!

All told, we spent just under 180 euros before the tip. Bill left a generous tip for Petra and her colleagues, too, because they really showed us a lovely time. We definitely took dining out in restaurants for granted when we could do it regularly, and it was such a pleasure to be able to sit outside at a nice place– not in our backyard– and enjoy seeing other people. I was very happy to enjoy the hospitality, once again, at Villa im Tal, which is located in a beautiful, wooded, location. The food was, as usual, excellent, and the service was top notch and delivered with a smile . I think we love this place for very good reason, and it was so good to be back. I hope this trend of not needing a mask will continue for awhile.

I am feeling so grateful to live in Germany right now, for so many reasons. As much as I loved it here last year, this year, I love it so much more. Today’s outing was a huge morale booster. Villa im Tal is a classy restaurant, but they do cater to children as well as well-behaved dogs. Someone brought their sweet female pooch with them and she never made a peep. Petra brought her a big bowl of water.

Next weekend, we’re off to the beautiful Rhineland Palatinate area of Eifel for a long weekend. The hotel where we’re staying has an award winning restaurant. I look forward to returning and reporting on that adventure, too!

Take out from Villa Im Tal…

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Bill and I love a good fine dining experience. Alas, the coronavirus is cramping our style. Restaurants are opening up in Germany, but there are still a lot of restrictions and some risks involving with eating in restaurants. We decided to order take out from our favorite fine dining restaurant in the Wiesbaden area yesterday, just to see how feasible it would be.

Villa Im Tal has a special take out menu. I had wanted to order from it for Mother’s Day, but we were too late. This time, Bill emailed our order a day ahead of time. I’m not sure that was a requirement, but it worked out well. He got a confirmation and a time to pick it up– 1:30pm. He ordered us both “surf and turfs”, which were three courses for 48 euros each. The restaurant offers other choices besides this special, but Bill decided to get this because it’s a deal and because he figured I’d like it. Also, delivery service is available at 10 euros for 10km or 20 euros for 20km. If your order is more than 120 euros, delivery is free. I’m not sure if we’re in their delivery area. We’re probably not.

We decided to do our lunch the right way, with music, Georgian wine, and the good china. The only thing we didn’t do, besides dress up a bit, was light the candles. Here are some pictures of what the food looked like when Bill brought it home.

I didn’t have any of the vegetables, because they were loaded with mushrooms, which I don’t eat. However, everything else was pretty good. I have had the soup when I’ve visited the restaurant for dining in, and it was just as good at home. I’ve often told Bill I’d love to have a recipe for this soup, which I think would be good when I’m sick. It’s very comforting, yet has a lot of flavor. Tangy lemongrass, mango, and curry makes for a rich, delicious soup. This was paired with curry flavored chips.

I probably would have liked to have had a side with the surf and turf… maybe we could have requested a mushroom free version. Next time we order take out from Villa Im Tal, we’ll have to remember that. The dessert was delightful! The chocolate mousse went beautifully with the marinated red berry compote– currants and strawberries are a great match to chocolate. I loved the way they made the dessert pretty in the take out container. It was so pretty we didn’t even plate it ourselves.

Of course I would have rather enjoyed this in the restaurant, but I can’t deny that this wasn’t a bad way to have a fine meal. We could listen to music; Arran could sit with us; and I didn’t have to wear a bra. It also cost significantly less, since we weren’t having aperitifs, ordering wine in house, or tipping on service… although Bill probably did tip the lady who brought him the food. We might brave the restaurant itself soon, since they have a really lovely outdoor area and even when there is no pandemic, there are plenty of widely spaced tables. It’s also just a really lovely place to enjoy a meal. The venue itself is in the woods, where it’s quiet and peaceful… just what we need to escape the stresses of contagion.

Stuff I’ve learned this weekend so far…

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Last night, I became aware of an aspect of German culture of which I was previously unaware. I have a friend living in Stuttgart who is Croatian, but easily passes for German and speaks German like a native. Yesterday, he posted about an altercation he had with a young woman who had a child with her. They exchanged words because he chastised her (which is VERY German behavior, especially in Swabia) for spitting on the sidewalk.

She, in turn, called him a “shit potato”.

My Croatian friend said that this young woman was speaking perfect “Kanaken German”. I asked him what that meant, and he said it was when a foreign person residing in Germany speaks bad German/slang. I was a bit confused by that. Does that include people like Bill, who speaks German poorly and resides in Germany? So I asked my German friend to explain my Croatian friend’s original comment:

“Wenn du von einem ca 19 jährigen Mädchen als “scheiss Kartoffel” beschimpft wirst, weil du ihr sagst, dass sie nicht auf den Gehweg spucken soll. Sie sprach perfekt Kanakendeutsch. Ach so, sie hatte ein Kind.”

My German friend, who is a superstar researcher and enjoys teaching me about Germany and its culture, found this hilarious video. Don’t worry if you don’t speak German. There are subtitles.

These are people from the Middle East– namely Turkey– learning “German”. This would be Kanaken German, though… poorly constructed and full of profanity. Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?

Kanaken German is slangy, improperly constructed vernacular German typically spoken by some people of Middle Eastern heritage. Evidently, people who speak Kanaken German tend to be insulting. Like, for instance, the woman calling my Croatian friend a “shit potato”, and the people in the above video using words like “Aaalder” (which means “dude”, although the English subtitles say it means fucker) and “Dutture” (bitch). Well, since he’s not German, he’s technically not a “potato”, but she clearly thought he was German and referred to him as a “potato” as an insult. My Croatian friend sarcastically added, “And I’m the racist!” Clearly he’s not in this case. It’s not nice to insult people using cultural stereotypes, but it sounds like that exchange wasn’t very pleasant regardless!

According to my research, the term “potato” (Kartoffel) for Germans dates back to the 1960s, when Italians were brought in as guest workers. They were known as “spaghetti eaters” and Germans were known as “potato eaters”. Evidently, certain Turkish people have also come to use the term “Kartoffel” for Germans as a whole. As the above video demonstrates, Germans are also called “pig eaters”, which seems even more derogatory since most Turks are Muslims and they don’t eat pork.

I guess, in a weird way, Kanaken German could be characterized somewhat like Ebonics in English, although I don’t think Ebonics is necessarily derogatory. It’s simply “black English”– language patterns that evolved when black people were enslaved in the United States. In the 1990s, Ebonics became somewhat controversial in the United States because certain groups felt it should be legitimized and respected. The term Ebonics dates from the early 70s. It was coined by African American social psychologist Robert Williams, who felt that the dialect spoken by some black Americans should have a name that was less negative than other terms for it, such as “nonstandard Negro English”.

Anyway… I thought it was interesting that I learned a little something more about German culture based on a Facebook post. I’m always grateful to my German friend for being willing to explain these things to me, especially when she finds entertaining teaching examples like the hilarious video above. It definitely drove home the point!

Yesterday, Bill went into Wiesbaden to pick up some Five Guys burgers for us and check out how things are looking as Germany gradually normalizes after the spring lockdown from hell. He said that there were a lot of people out and about, and some people wear masks as they walk around. Most people only put them on when entering a building. People were dining in restaurants. Wait staff wears masks, but if you’re sitting at a table, it’s not required. You just wear them to come in, leave, or use the restroom. And everyone must leave their contact information in case someone is reported ill. After three or four weeks, the information is discarded. I still have no desire to dine out under those conditions, especially as the temperatures rise, but I may change my mind. I’m grateful that people seem to be working together in Germany instead of being polarized, as it appears a lot of people are in the United States right now.

For today, Bill ordered a three course lunch from our favorite fine dining restaurant, Villa Im Tal. He’s going to pick it up this afternoon, and we will dine at home.

I also had occasion to try a couple of Bailey’s liqueur products yesterday. Most Americans know Bailey’s Irish Cream. However, there are a few other varieties of cordials available made by that company. They have the sinfully delicious Bailey’s Luxe Chocolat, which is pretty much like an orgasm in a bottle– Bailey’s mixed with Belgian chocolate. They have Strawberries & Cream. And they have Almande, which is a vegan, lactose free, almond milk drink. All of these cordials can be enjoyed by themselves or as mixers. I have had the Luxe Chocolat many times, so I didn’t need to taste test that.

I enjoyed both the Strawberries & Cream and the Almande, though I would prefer original Bailey’s or Luxe Chocolat to either of them. The Strawberries & Cream, which contains milk and milk products, reminded me of strawberry flavored Quik (Nesquik) from my youth, or perhaps the pink, liquid, antibiotic medicine (Erythromycin) I used to get for ear infections when I was a child. The Almande has a nice, rich, nutty taste, but the liqueur isn’t as rich or creamy. I did put some in my coffee this morning, though. It was not bad at all.

And finally, here are some pictures of our garden. We had a tree die in our yard last fall. It was overcome by ivy. As we’ve cut down most of it, a small patch of land has opened up for a small garden. Since we can’t travel like we usually do, Bill has decided to do some gardening. He picked up some garden boxes, since the plain patch was being ruined by Arran’s incessant need to dig. Now that he has a new box, he’s going to move some cucumber plants. We may have some fresh vegetables this summer. In light of today’s post, maybe we should have planted some potatoes…

Dining out with a former lab dog named Tony!

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Last night, Bill and I took his mother, Parker, out to Villa Im Tal, a fine dining Austrian restaurant on the outskirts of Wiesbaden. It was Bill’s and my third time dining there, and we were sure Parker would enjoy it as much as we have. It’s set in the woods in a beautiful timbered building surrounded by a spring and lots of trees. Even at night, it’s gorgeous. Best of all, parking is a breeze and costs nothing! This restaurant is also easily booked on OpenTable.de.

We had a 7:30 reservation, but arrived a little bit early. We were seated at a corner table for four. At first, I was a little perturbed by where we were sitting, mainly because the lighting was so dim and it was hard to see the menu (they kindly provided English versions for us). But then, maybe twenty minutes after we sat down, a couple came in with an adorable beagle. They sat near us.

Ordering dinner was easy. The waiter spoke perfect English. Parker and I started with champagne. I had a rose and she had a brut. Bill had Campari and soda, then ordered a lovely local white wine that tasted of honey, yet was dry on the palate. We each had the special seafood menu, which consisted of five courses. Below are some photos of the grand culinary event that was last night’s dinner.

I enjoyed all of the courses, although my favorites were the scallops, which were perfectly grilled and very tender and went beautifully with the gnocchi, and the lobster cappuccino. Honestly, I was worried that the flavor would be too earthy for me, as the initial aroma smelled slightly of truffles, which is a turn off for me. What can I say? I am one of those weird people who thinks truffles are gross.

But when I tasted it, I was amazed by how delicious it was. The soup had the very essence of lobster finished with a little sherry. The single ravioli was just enough. And we paced the meal so that it wasn’t too much. All three of us loved the seafood menu and would order it again. It was priced at about 68 euros each.

So… about Tony, the adorable beagle…

We noticed that his people, who both also enjoyed the seafood menu, were very friendly with the waiter. He had brought out a bowl of water for Tony, and they spent several minutes talking and laughing. I got the sense that they were regulars. Eventually, I told the couple that we have beagles, too… Right now we just have Arran since we lost Zane to lymphoma a few months ago, but we usually have two beagles at a time. We hope to find Arran a playmate soon, whether or not he wants one.

I got up to use the ladies room, and when I came back, Tony came over to say hello. He was so sweet and friendly. His owners told me that he was born in a lab and participated in experiments until he was about sixteen weeks old. They adopted him when he was still a puppy, and he’s now 12.

I was very surprised Tony was that old. He didn’t look or act like he was twelve years old. In fact, at one point, he got on his hind legs and put his paws on me. Then, when my voice went into “baby mode”, (as it always does with dogs), he pricked his ears up and gave me a look of pure delight. I wished I’d had my camera so I could capture it for this post. It reminded me of our late dog, MacGregor, who was very shy around people he didn’t know, but loved to be on camera.

Tony’s people were very friendly and spoke English beautifully. I told them about how we’d had five beagle rescues so far and showed them a picture with Arran, living the high life snuggled up next to my mother-in-law. They laughed in recognition, because apparently Tony is a couch snuggler too. And we shared a laugh about how much beagles love to eat, don’t obey commands very well, and sniff everything while they bay. I told them about how the first time we lived in Germany, we had a couple of different beagles and they would bay in our quiet neighborhood, prompting many dirty looks from the locals. Back then, the dogs were referred to as “Jagdhunden” (hunting dogs). Now, it seems that beagles have become a lot more popular. We’ve seen many more of them during this stint.

The couple seemed surprised when I told them I hoped to get another dog. They cited their love for travel as to why they just have Tony. I didn’t want to tell them that sometimes our dogs go to the Hundepension… in fact, Arran is going to the Tierpension Birkenhof today, because we’re taking Bill’s mom to Ribeauville, and hoping to visit some places we missed on previous trips. It’s easier to visit places when we don’t have to worry about taking care of the dog, and we have found excellent caregivers in Stuttgart and Darmstadt. But Arran has been to Ribeauville a few times… we have a very pet friendly source of lodging in that town. That’s one of the many things I love about living in Europe. Dogs are allowed in a lot of places here, especially when they are as well mannered as Tony was.

I think having dogs has really helped us break the ice in so many situations in Germany. We’ve met some cool folks that way, because everyone loves to talk about their dogs. Up here in Wiesbaden, people are a lot friendlier, too. When I told the couple that we’d lived in Stuttgart, they kind of laughed and said Stuttgart is a “very special part of Germany”. Yeah… I’d have to agree… although it will always have a special place in my heart. I figure if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere in Germany. And it has the distinction of being the place Bill and I have spent the most time living since we were married.

Villa in Tal has become a favorite!

Anyway, dinner was a success, if not rather pricey. I think Bill paid about 380 euros for the three seafood menu meals, two bottles of San Pellegrino, our round of aperitifs, and a bottle of wine. It was well worth the cost, though, because I have a feeling we’ll be talking about last night’s dinner for years to come… and today, we’ll start making even more memories in France!

Fancy eating after beer brewing…

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A few days ago, my ever considerate husband, Bill, asked me if I minded if he brewed beer Sunday.  I shrugged and said it was fine.  Beer brewing is one of Bill’s hobbies.  He’s gotten really good at it.  I’m the one who started him on the path of great brewing when, years ago, I bought him a Mr. Beer kit for Christmas.  Mr. Beer is a very primitive kit for very beginner beer brewers, but it does teach the basics of how the process is supposed to go.

When we moved to Georgia in 2009, we happened to live in a town that had a great store for beer brewers called Just Brew It!.  The guy who ran that store was very knowledgable, and gave Bill even more instruction.  We also toured Jailhouse Brewing Company in Hampton, Georgia, and got to know the founder of that company, who also learned the basics of the trade at Just Brew It!.  We loved Jailhouse beers, but then we had to move to North Carolina in 2011.  I see Jailhouse has really taken off in the ten years of its existence and I’m still following their success on Facebook.  In the years before we moved back to Germany, we made a point of picking up some of their beers whenever we were in Georgia or trading them with people who lived there.  I do miss the beer exchanges we used to be able to do when we were in the States.

Bill had asked me if I “minded” if he brewed because we usually try to do fun things together on Sundays.  But yesterday, it was a bit chilly and wet, and I knew he was itching to start a new project.  Besides, it’s important to both of us that he has this hobby, since having interests outside of providing for his family was something that his ex wife denied him.  And… I won’t lie.  I do enjoy drinking his brews.

Anyway… after Bill was finished brewing in the afternoon, he asked me what I wanted to do for dinner.  We had leftovers that could be heated up, or we could have soup.  Finally, I suggested using OpenTable to find us dinner.  It turned out Villa Im Tal, a beautiful restaurant we had tried for the first time in February, had plenty of open slots last night.  Remembering how good our February Sunday lunch had been, I booked us a table for 6:00pm.

Once again, a lovely sight to behold!  This restaurant is on the outskirts of Wiesbaden, in a forested area.  It’s also near a riding stable, which always gives me pangs of nostalgia.  

 

We arrived about ten minutes early for dinner.  A smiling young man named Dennis greeted us warmly in German.  He offered to take my jacket, which was actually part of my outfit; then he quickly discerned that we’re English speakers and spoke to us in fluent English as he led us to a very nice two top near the restaurants soaring windows.  He asked us where we are from.  Naturally, I said “America”, which made him laugh.  He wanted to know where in America.  I’m from Virginia and Bill is from Texas (sort of– it’s where he’s spent the most time).  Dennis offered us aperitifs.  I had the “house” drink, which is basically made with sparkling wine and juice… he didn’t really tell me.  Bill had alcohol free Sekt, which looked like pale ginger ale and tasted a little like Sprite.

I really enjoyed the house aperitif.  Bill went with an alcohol free Sekt because he wanted wine with dinner and would be driving.

Then Dennis poured water on the towels, which magically expanded so we could “wash” our hands.

 

Requisite Bill photo, taken after I said something to make him laugh.

 

The bread… three varieties served with a carrot curry butter and a garlicky herbal spread that seemed to be based on Frankfurter “green sauce“, which is in season right now.  Bill just learned how to make it, since this isn’t a “thing” in the Stuttgart area.

The last time we ate at Villa Im Tal, we stuck with land specialties.  I had duck and Bill had pork.  This time, we decided to have specialties from the sea.  We both had shrimp starters and I had sea bass (branzino) and Bill had red snapper.

But not before we enjoyed the “amuse”– a delectable red beet soup in a shot glass.  I don’t usually like beets much, but this was very comforting.  It had only a delicate essence of the earthy bitter flavors I usually detect in beets.  I liked it, and it sure looked festive on a spring evening.

 

Bill’s started was homemade raviolis stuffed with wild Brazilian prawns.  I have to admit, if I had noticed this on the menu, I probably would have chosen it myself.  I tasted it, and it was very good!

But then, so was my salad, which was three wild Brazilian prawns served with green apples, avocados, asparagus, and sun dried tomatoes, then doused with foam.  Although it was a bit pricey at about 19 euros, it was delicious and beautifully presented.  I think the foam on my salad and Bill’s pasta was the same.  Basically mild and complimentary to the shrimp.  The pop of color from the purple chips were a nice touch.

 

My sea bass.  Sea bass isn’t the same here as it is in the States.  The sea bass I’ve had in the States has been Black Sea Bass, which is rich, buttery, and fleshy.  The sea bass in Europe is branzino, a fish that is usually found in the Mediterranean or off the coast of North Africa.  I’ve come to enjoy it here, although I kind of miss U.S. style sea bass.  This one was served with cous cous, parsnip puree, mangoes, and pureed carrots, then garnished with figs.

Bill’s red snapper was also excellent.  It was served with barley risotto, spring vegetables, and curry froth.  I liked his dish as much as I did mine.

 

As we were making our way through dinner, more diners showed up.  Soon, the dining room was full of people enjoying a lovely Sunday supper in a stunning natural setting.  It was such a pleasure to be able to see the garden blooming with flowers outside, canopied by tall trees.  I’m sure, when the weather warms up, it’ll be even nicer to enjoy dining outdoors.

One thing Villa Im Tal does that I don’t like that much is that they pour your wine for you.  This is supposed to be a hallmark of good service, but the reality is that the wait staff gets busy and the wine ends up being held hostage.  Also, since Bill doesn’t want to drink a lot when he has to drive, it’s better if we can control our own wine pours.  But I can see why they prefer to do the wine pouring, too, since wine service takes up valuable space on the table.

We decided to be simple with dessert.  I had a scoop of chocolate and a scoop of sour cream mint ice cream.  The sour cream mint had an enchanting herbal flavor that reminded me of the smell of my grandmother’s house in Natural Bridge, Virginia.  There are two mountain creeks that run on the property and they give off a distinctively intoxicating aroma.  The only other place I’ve smelled it is in Scotland at the Benmore Botanical Gardens.  Well, the mint ice cream reminded me of that familiar smell from home.  The chocolate was kind of run of the mill, although it did have a few chips in it.  

Bill had a scoop of blackberry sorbet and a scoop of pineapple coriander sorbet.  He was considering the green apple sorbet, but Dennis told him the pineapple coriander was the best he’d ever had.  I think Bill enjoyed it very much.  Of course he liked the blackberry sorbet, mainly because he loves blackberries.

We were finished with dinner at about 8:30pm.  The total bill was just over 200 euros.  Bill paid with a card and slipped Dennis a little cash for a tip.

I think I liked our first meal at Villa Im Tal more than last night’s, although last night’s was also very good.  I think I’m just missing the ocean fish that I grew up on.  Around these parts, you tend to get fish that come from rivers or creeks or the Mediterranean Sea.  I do love most seafood, but I’m missing the seafood I know from home, if that makes any sense.  But in a few months, we’ll be in Scotland again, and I’ll be up to my ass in oysters and crawfish.

Pretty gardens on the way out.  The scenery is an added bonus to dining at Villa Im Tal.  It really is gorgeous.  Parking is also free and easy!  Dress is casual, although you won’t be out of place if you dress up for the occasion.  We saw as many people in jeans as we did people who wore suits and dresses.

On the way home, Bill and I were marveling at how lovely dinner was.  It’s a pleasure to be able to enjoy these places while we’re living in Germany.  We try not to take it for granted, which is why I always write about our experiences.  There was a time not so long ago that casually enjoying a meal like last night’s would have been out of the question.  We are very fortunate that we can do this, at least for now.  Needless to say, Villa Im Tal still gets my vote as a great place to eat near Wiesbaden.

Hammer schmeckt! Lunch at Villa im Tal!

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Bill and I didn’t do anything yesterday after we visited the dog hotel.  I decided to work on a book I’ve been reading and Bill was catching up on important paperwork and planning for his next TDY trip, which happens in March and will last for 18 long days.  Today, we had absolutely glorious weather.  I’d never guess it was late February.  The weather feels more like late March.  We had beautiful sunny skies and temperatures in the 50s.

I asked Bill if he would like me to find us a place for lunch.  He agreed, so I booked us a 1:00pm reservation at Villa im Tal, an Austrian restaurant just beyond the outskirts of Wiesbaden.  This restaurant is in a wooded area, very close to a riding school and near nature trails and a spot where people were filling up on natural spring water.

I found Villa im Tal a few weeks ago, but the day I found it, it seemed like it was too far away.  I remember that day was very overcast and chilly.  Today, with the weather so beautiful, we were more game to venture to a different part of the city.  I’m glad we did, since it really wasn’t so far away after all… maybe 25 minutes from where we live now.  One thing I like about our new home is that it doesn’t take long to go places.

Well… we had a truly beautiful lunch.  The service was impeccable and the food was incredible.  The restaurant is in a beautiful old building in the woods.  And for all we had, we didn’t spend as much as I thought we would.  Have a look at the photos!

This is what I like to see when I am in Germany.

 

Nice wooded area.  Watch your step.  The ground can be treacherous.

 

On Sundays, this restaurant is open from 12:00pm until 10:00pm, with no pause.  Other days, it opens for dinner at 5:00pm.  It’s a popular venue for birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings, too.  There’s plenty of free parking, too… a huge bonus up here.

 

From the moment we walked through the door, we got excellent and attentive service.  A waitress invited us to choose a table.  We sat down and the ladies who attended to us poured hot water over hand towels, which swelled up as if by magic.  Then we ordered two glasses of Sekt.  They brought us a lovely rose.

Then we had fresh breads with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and a lovely quark and chive spread.

A better look at the bread, along with the nice Austrian red Bill ordered.  He was also thinking about trying a wine from the Piedmont region of Italy, the source of many of our favorite reds.

Then came the amuse, which really got things off to a great start.  It was smoked salmon over cucumber jelly and cream fraiche.  We both smiled big when we tasted it.

Bill decides on his lunch order.

 

I started with a delightful mango curry soup with lemongrass.  It was absolutely delicious!  Very warm, comforting, and satisfying.  I’d love to have this recipe for the next time I’m sick.  It had just a little heat to it, but what I really got was the amazing lemon and curry flavors that blended with the sweetness of the mango.  It was so good.

 

Bill had a bouillabaisse… hearty with sliced truffle pancake.  I didn’t try it because I don’t like truffles, but Bill said it was very good.

 

Next, came the main courses.  Bill had a saddle of Iberico pork with chorizo sausage, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and potatoes.  I was struck by how aesthetically beautiful his plate was, and the pork was very tender and delicious.  I would have been happy with that dish, but…

 

I decided to have pink grilled Barbarie duck breast on a bed of pears with pureed parsnips, green beans and bacon, and orange-pepper jus.   The duck was cooked medium rare– perfect!  And I can say I honestly enjoyed everything that came with it, even the pureed parsnips surrounded by onion rings.  If I hadn’t known better, I would have sworn the pureed parsnips were especially rich and sinful mashed potatoes.  They were amazing.  Bill made the waitresses smile when he told them it was all “Hammer schmeckt!”

 

Then, we had dessert…  We couldn’t have that awesome lunch without it, even though I wound up ordering a lava cake.  I am not big on lava cakes.  It’s not that they don’t taste good to me.  It’s just that everyone does them.  But I will admit Villa im Tal did beautifully with their version.

A warm lava cake with berry compote and a scoop of walnut ice cream…

Bill kept it simple with scoops of red currant and sour cream and chocolate and Thai chili ice creams.  Both desserts came with light cookies.

This is a happy man who probably thanks God PT tests are now a thing of the past.

 

Our total was about 187 euros.  Bill left 215 euros, which is probably considered a generous tip here in Germany.  It was just such a nice lunch.  The service was so good that we felt it was well-deserved.  Despite being very elegant and offering wonderful food, this restaurant was notated as “kid friendly” on OpenTable.  To be honest, I didn’t see any real indication that that is true, although I’m sure it must be.  As it was, we had no children among us today.  The clientele appeared to consist of well-heeled older folks who love good food at a leisurely pace.  I must admit, this style of dining appeals to me, too.

The only thing I’d change is the piped in music, which was mostly instrumental electric guitar music that sounded inspired by Santana or Mark Knopfler with no actual ties to either audience.  It wasn’t offensive; it just didn’t seem to fit with the classic atmosphere.  But that is a very minor point.  This was a damned fine lunch and we will definitely be back for more.  We paid in cash, but credit cards are accepted.  I’m happy to have found yet another place I’d highly recommend!

Just outside of the parking lot, people gather to get fresh spring water.

One last look.  We’ll definitely be back.

Wiesbaden is nice.