fests, Germany

Donning a dirndl at the Weindorf on a Monday…

A brand new dirndl pic for 2017, as opposed to the 2016 one I have on Facebook right now.

Bill and I totally wanted to visit the Stuttgarter Weindorf over the holiday weekend, especially since we had no plans to go anywhere for Labor Day.  Sadly, our dog Arran was not feeling well on Saturday or Sunday.  He was vomiting and had diarrhea and I didn’t feel comfortable leaving him alone.  So we spent the long weekend mostly binge watching ER on iTunes.

This morning, we woke up to a beautiful sunny day.  Arran was feeling a whole lot better.  He and our other dog, Zane, took an energetic walk with Bill.  They enjoyed their breakfast and neither one was throwing up or suffering from diarrhea.  We felt safe going to the Weindorf.

Here’s the thing, though.  I had planned to wear my expensive and pretty dirndl over the weekend and probably would have felt pretty fine doing so, since I reckoned that’s when a lot of my fellow American countryfolk would be there dressed for the fest.  I remembered last year, we visited the Weindorf over the weekend and saw people wearing Trachten.  Granted, I think they were all Americans, but we did see them decked out for the occasion.  And since I don’t know if we will attend the Canstatter Fest this year, I wanted to wear my lovely blue dirndl and get some use out of it.

I asked Bill what he thought and he said I should wear it.  He doesn’t have an outfit himself, so all he had to do was be seen with me.  I must admit, there are few styles as flattering to my zaftig figure as a dirndl is. There was even a time in my life when I wore one daily, because I worked at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia in the German section of the park.  And since I blew a big load of cash on my dirndl last year, I decided to wear it, even though I knew none of the locals would be dressed up unless they were waiting tables.

We got to the festival in downtown Stuttgart and walked around.  I felt a little silly in my fancy fest dress.  Looking around, I caught the stares of a few Germans and they were grinning broadly.

We walked over to the area where we sat last year.  I noticed the signs warning people not to climb on the arches.  I’m sure the sign was there because it’s been a problem in the past.

This booth was in the same spot last year…

As was this one… In fact, this was where we sat last year.  This year, we tried a different restaurant.

Just before I took this picture, a slender, pretty blonde woman approached and asked if I was “Jenny”.  I said I was and she identified herself as a reader of this rag of a blog!  I always love meeting people who take the time to read what I write!  Of course, they spot us because of all the pictures of Bill.

Thank God for the WC.  Fifty cents, as usual, worth every euro penny…

We decided to eat at the Zum Reussenstein booth.  We enjoyed a nice dinner last year at their restaurant, so I had a feeling the food would be good.  It also offered seating deep enough so I wouldn’t feel like I was on display in my sapphire blue and silver dirndl with rhinestones all over it.

Bill enjoyed the view of my melons…

I tried an iPhone selfie, which turned out weird because the camera reverses everything.  I don’t photograph particularly well under the best of circumstances.  Add wine and there is the potential for disaster!  But I felt like this shot captured my silly mood.

I decided on a half duck for lunch…  

It came with bread.  If I had wanted kraut and/or dumplings, we could have spent three more euros for that.  As it was, the half duck was too much.  However, it was very tasty!

I decided to tuck the napkin into my blouse, bib style.  I figured it would be more of a disaster if I dripped gravy on the white blouse than the blue dress.  Although last year at fest, I overdid it and needed some serious dry cleaning services…  I am grateful to add that the dirndl won’t need a dry cleaning before the next time I wear this get up.

Bill went with the “Ochsenbrust”, which I pointed out to him (couldn’t have him ordering a cheese plate if I was eating duck, right?).  It came with fried potatoes and a very nice creamy horseradish sauce.  He said the meat itself reminded him more of a tenderloin than a breast of any sort.

 

I was quickly finished with the food, so I turned my attention to the wines.  I had four of them.  We started with a lovely white burgundy… the one at the bottom of the list on the picture below.  It was crisp and slightly fruity and I enjoyed it immensely

But it was 8,50 euros…  not cheap!

 

Bill enjoyed the next vino for him, a dry German red…  I had one made from Lemberger grapes, while his was Salucci blend.

And here you can read in German about what we had…  Mine was the last one on the page, while his was wine #2

Bill was reading up like a good boy…

and he almost had me talked into ordering the merlot…

But I decided to try a very nice and dry rose.  

 

Bottoms up…  Yikes!  Another freaky iPhone selfie!

At around this time, I decided to go to the ladies room again.  When I came back, a couple of the servers, also clad in dirndls, were putting down reservation notices on the tables.  The table where we were sitting was reserved for 7:00pm.  When she saw that I was wearing a dirndl, she requested in German that I show it off.  I had been covered up with a pretty blue cashmere shawl that I bought in the Miami airport a few years ago.  It happens to match perfectly, as does the lapis lazuli jewelry I bought at Novica last year.  For all I know, she went in the back room and had a good laugh!  But honestly, most of the people I saw today seemed tickled that I dressed up, even if it wasn’t the norm.  Most people were smiling at me appreciatively… or, at least I like to think they were.  After a couple of wines, I didn’t care.

As a last hurrah, I had a glass of sekt.  It was the cheapest and driest one.  

 

I’m proud to announce that we spent less this year than we did last year.  Of course, Bill stopped at two glasses of wine because we were forced to drive to the fest instead of taking the train, like we did last year.  All told, we paid about 76 euros before tipping.

I had brought a change of clothes in case I either decided I was too uncomfortable or I had an unfortunate mishap with my dirndl, like I did the first time I wore it at the Cannstatter Fest last year.  As it turned out, I didn’t throw up and I wasn’t so uncomfortable I needed to change.  So we went to the Feinkost Bohm in search of sushi for dinner.  There was no sushi, but we did buy a couple of nice Scottish steaks.  And I was very flattered when the guy at the meat counter asked in German if we were Germans or Americans.  I was also rewarded with a huge smile from one of the cashiers as I strutted through with my sapphire colored dirndl with its silver trim and sparkly crystals.  Indeed, I have come a long way from the crappy machine washable polyester dirndl I wore when I was twenty years old and working at Busch Gardens in the early 90s.  Now I am festing in style!  I’m still wearing polyester, but it now requires dry cleaning!

In all seriousness, I don’t know that you need to dress up on a work day for the Weindorf.  I had a feeling that would be the case.  But I was in the mood for some fun and it’s not often I get to wear my German garb, so I happily trotted it out for the lunch crowd.  I think some people enjoyed the spectacle… almost as much as they did the very funny clown who was entertaining people with his whistle.  I have noticed that Germans seem to enjoy people who are willing to act the fool and they are a good and very gracious audience.  But if you’re going to wear fest clothes and don’t want to look silly, you might want to do it on a weekend or in the evening, when others are more likely to sport dirndls and lederhosen.  On the other hand, you only live once… and I did have a good time attracting attention to myself, as usual!  It was a treat to meet another person who has read this blog, too!

The Weindorf runs until Sunday, September 10th.  It’s in downtown Stuttgart and opens daily at 11:30am.  If you like wine, be there or be square.

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Swabian delights at Zum Reussenstein in Böblingen

I promised some friends on Facebook that this week there would be a deluge of restaurant reviews.  Last night, Bill and I went to the second of three restaurants we have booked this week.  When I booked the family owned Zum Reussenstein restaurant and hotel in Böblingen, I had no idea that the place had any notoriety.  I just noticed that reservations on OpenTable.de were kind of hard to come by.   I had to book our Thursday night table several days in advance.  Weekend reservations demanded even more notice.  I figured that must mean the food is very good.  What I didn’t know is that Zum Reussenstein is owned by TV chef Timo Böckle, which may be one major reason why reservations are a must.

I used to work at The Trellis, a restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia that, for years, was owned by TV chef and cookbook author Marcel Desaulniers.  The Trellis has since been sold and Marcel now owns Mad About Chocolate, a cafe in Williamsburg where he sells light lunches and desserts. When I waited tables at Marcel’s restaurant, I frequently ran into people who had traveled from far flung places simply to have lunch or dinner at The Trellis.  A lot of people bought cookbooks, which we kept stocked in the restaurant and all of which were autographed.

I don’t know how famous  Timo Böckle is, but I did notice a number of what looked like gourmet items for sale.  Indeed, I see on his restaurant’s very musical Web site, I see there is a gourmet shop there that appears to be open during lunch and dinner hours.

As we were getting ready to leave for our 8:00pm reservation, I got the news that world famous recording artist Prince died.  Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I shared a love for Prince’s music with many others in my age group.  As we headed toward Böblingen, I started thinking about how whenever I’m in Europe, it seems like someone legendary dies.  I was on a train between Vienna and Venice when Princess Diana died.  I lived in Germany when Michael Jackson died.  And now we’ve lost Prince, along with a number of other amazing celebrities.  2016 is turning out to be a terrible year to be famous and a Baby Boomer.

Bill enjoys a moment before looking at the menu.  Through the curtain dividing the room, I spotted a TV monitor on the wall that showed a fireplace with a perpetually flickering flame.  I’m not sure what the point of those things are, but I guess some people think they make a dining room seem “homey”.

We arrived at the restaurant a few minutes before our reservation.  It took a little time to find street parking and we ended up having to walk about ten minutes.  That would have been fine, except I was wearing heels, which I rarely wear unless I’m dressed up.  Although I probably didn’t need to get too spiffy for Zum Reussenstein, I like to look nice when we’re eating at a nice place.  Zum Reussenstein has sort of a homey feel to it and it’s not as fancy or expensive as Gasthof Krone is.  However, I did notice that there were quite a few locals there who seemed to be celebrating.  I was glad I wore a skirt and Bill wore his trusty sport jacket from Saks.

These little cards say “We’re glad you’re here.” in German and English.

The restaurant was almost full last night and the ambience was definitely energetic.  Our waiter offered us menus that highlighted very traditional Swabian delights.  There was also a monthly special and a evening special.  At first, I was a little confused by what we had to choose from; I think the presence of the monthly special menu, the evening special, and the regular menu overwhelmed me.  Fortunately, our waiter spoke pretty good English.

Bill ordered us a nice local red.  This particular wine was very inky and tannic, with flavors of dark berries.  I liked it.  I must admit, during this tour in Germany, we’re learning that not all German wines are sweet.  We’re becoming fans of local vino.

I was torn between several appealing choices.  Zum Reussenstein offers a schnitzel that they prepare with apple.  They also had a chicken dish that looked good, as well as several very hearty sounding entrees that included venison and wild boar (Bill usually goes for those).  In the end, I went with a bowl of Flädlessubb, which is strips of crepes seasoned with herbs and served with a clear beef broth.  Then I had last night’s special, which was ham, white asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce, and boiled new potatoes.  Bill ordered a colorful house salad, pork cheeks that were slow cooked in mustard sauce, and spaetzle.

This was the amuse.  It was a piping hot shot of soup.  I’m not sure what it was called because the waiter never told us.  However, it tasted like it had a chicken stock base infused with peppers.  Unfortunately, I burned my tongue… but it was still really good.  I would order that soup if it was offered on a menu. 

This was my “pancake” soup– the local speciality Flädlessubb– which was comforting and not too filling.  The last time I had this was in August 2014, right around the time we first moved back to Germany.  I remarked to Bill that it would be a great soup for unclogging a stuffy head.

Bill’s very fresh salad was made with field greens and topped with sunflower seeds.  He really seemed to enjoy it.

My colorful ham and asparagus dish…

With a side of parsleyed potatoes…

Bill’s pork cheeks…

And a big dish of spaetzle…

I opted for the ham and asparagus because this is the time of year to eat such a dish.  Asparagus is in season right now and while we didn’t eat a whole lot of ham the first time we lived here, we have come to realize that spring is the time to pair ham with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce.  The version I had last night was perfectly prepared, though it was a lot of food.  The ham wasn’t too much, but I couldn’t finish the asparagus or potatoes.  I definitely did not go hungry last night!

Bill really enjoyed the tender and tasty pork cheeks.  He said the spaetzle was very fresh and appealing as well.  But, like me, he had to cry uncle at some point.  We knew we wanted dessert.

Bill had vanilla ice cream with apple balsam syrup…

I had sinful chocolate mousse made with chocolate from Rittersport.  

I think dessert was my favorite part of last night’s meal.  The chocolate mousse was fantastic and really satisfying.  I thought I was full, but I managed to enjoy the whole thing with no problem.  Bill also loved his dessert.  The ice cream was regular vanilla, but it was very good quality and the apple balsam syrup was a nice touch.

Vegans and vegetarians may have a somewhat tough time at Zum Reussenstein, though I did notice that there were a couple of vegetarian options and several dishes that could be made vegetarian on request.  They were marked in the menu.  ETA: A vegetarian who read this review says that if you tell the staff you are a vegetarian, they will bring a special vegetarian menu.  In the menu there was also a note explaining that smaller portions are available on request.  I thought that was a nice touch.  I did not see any children dining last night, but I imagine they are catered to.  The restaurant is nice, but definitely has a family friendly vibe.

I also noticed that the ladies room was thoughtfully appointed with hairspray, high quality hand soap, and tastefully presented feminine supplies.

Our bill came to about 80 euros before the tip.  It was presented to us, along with a couple of bon bons, in a wooden box that resembled a small treasure chest.

Overall, Bill and I liked Zum Reussenstein.  Bill told me that it’s a favorite of one of his U.S. based bosses and he likes to eat there whenever he’s in town.  I can see why people like this local gem.  If you’re into traditional Swabian food, it’s definitely a good choice.  I don’t mind Swabian food, though if I’m honest, it’s not my favorite cuisine.  I do think Zum Reussenstein is a great place to go if you have guests who want to try something authentic to Baden-Württemberg.  Reservations are a must, though, and you may want to plan for the parking situation.  On a busy night, you may have to walk a ways, although the restaurant is very close to the Böblingen S-Bahn station.

Now that I know the restaurant is owned by a TV chef, I kind of wish I had access to German TV…

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